Saturday, June 30, 2012

34+ Weeks

Here we are in the final stretch. The doctor says I'm measuring 2 weeks ahead and then at the last visit, she said I was already dilated 1 cm and 90% effaced.  This kicked both Ken and I into gear to make sure we are ready (or as ready as we can be).  The doctor would like to see us get to 36 weeks at the minimum.  I've done some reading on the internet and evidently women can be even more dilated and effaced--and still not go into active labor which makes no sense.   But I think we're looking at a July baby here.  It adds a whole new unstable dimension to all the plans we have for July.  Oh and we're probably going to have a heat pump installed in the next week or two--because, why not?

Sidney is doing well with the immanence of sibling-hood.  We've prepared her the best we can and we often talk about what is going to happen.  Here are pictures from today of her playfully trying to "bite" my belly.  On one hand, I think she is excited and on the other, I don't think she really can grasp how her life will change forever once this baby is born.  Well I guess all I have to say to that is she changed our lives so completely and instantly--we're just repaying the favor.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Manzanita 2012

Ah yes, the annual sojourn to the Oregon Coast for the ocean air and family fun.  The weather was spotty as expected but cool (just like Momma likes it).  We stayed in a lovely rental home that was about 2 blocks from the beach.  Great kitchen and gathering spaces but as per usual, the bed Ken and I were given left much to be desired.  It prompted me to try a bunk bed in another room and then finally settle for the couch which was surprisingly adequate.

Sidney got to spend a lot of quality time with with everyone from cooking with Nana to beach time with Auntie Angela to walks with Grandma Cindy to flying kites with Daddy and playing games with Unkies Austin and Jamie.

Other notable celebrations at the coast included Angela successfully finishing her Master's Degree in Teaching, having a birthday and marking the end of a long school year for both Jamie and Angela.  Well deserved toasts!  Ken and I also celebrated our 7th anniversary with a lunch out in Cannon Beach and a stroll around the town looking at art we thought was overpriced.

This delightful cake was from Angela's Dad who fashioned it after a cake he received for his 60th birthday this year.  It was a cake wreck apparently.  The story goes that she was trying to get a design with the Lorax holding a diamond.  Instead she got something that resembled a squirrel with a mustache holding a tennis racquet.  So Uncle Randy decided to get her back.   Here is the iteration on the iteration.  I love this new family paradigm and hope it will become an iconic legacy for cake decorating.

This is what being pregnant at the beach looks like (33.5 wks).

Sunset strolling

This was taken on our anniversary.  

Attempting to catch the elusive green flash at sundown.  No luck.
Cindy took lots of pictures and I can't wait to see them.

Some crazy ladies dancing on the beach at sunset?  No, just our mothers & their partners.  Sigh.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The High School Experience

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about high school because I've been helping plan our 20th reunion which is in just a few weeks.  After getting used to the shock of how long it had been since I graduated high school, I have been reflecting on what an impactful and mostly positive time it was for me.  High school by nature is wrought with awkward transitions, figuring out who you are and trying to learn some stuff (from a book, teacher or otherwise).  However, it wasn't until high school that I found people who I felt were true friends and with that came a confidence to embrace life as opposed to wait around and be struck by what it dealt out.  Part of it was being in love and in a relationship for the first time too but that has it's own pluses and minuses at such a young age.  All of it together was transformative and it's lessons are still felt to this day.  I guess that's why grudge or glory, high school remains a time in life that many people never quite escape.

I know not everyone's experience is positive but in my case I went to a small rural high school of about 350 kids total and ~90 in my class.  With such a small student body you could do lots of things and cross over various social groups.  Many folks did this.  In my senior year I was Tennis MVP (despite only winning one Varsity match), slung a video camera everywhere I went as lead AV nerd, captain of the basketball cheerleading squad and president of both the photography club and the National Honor Society club.  I don't list this off to impress but to show how possible it was to slide from geek to "perceived" popular stations.  My stepmom had lamented that I should have gone to a larger highschool with more resources (and more students) to get better opportunities but I disagreed.  At a larger school there would have been no way that I could have done all that.  Plus, the experience helped me understand how to motivate different groups of people and in some cases get them to cooperate.  Flash forward 10 years and that was exactly what I did as a Program/Project manager at RealNetworks.

It was with appreciation, fondness and zeal that I agreed to be part of the committee that is planning the reunion.  About seven of us started the process in the fall last year talking about ideas, finding contact information for as many of our classmates as possible, writing & sending out a survey then "save the date", then the official invite.  With 2 of us in Seattle, 3 in Vancouver, 1 in LA and 1 in Texas, coordination has been key.  In the time of the Internet and Facebook, tracking people down made me feel like a cyber detective on a very important mission.  We set up a PayPal account to handle $ transactions, a Facebook page to centralize information and shared documents/spreadsheets and mostly we did this over email, chat and Skype--using tools that weren't even around when we graduated.

The reaction we got to the survey was encouraging.  Over 50% responded and most were enthusiastic about the prospect of the reunion.  Doing a survey was advised by the 1991 reunion committee to make sure that we planned an event folks would want to come to and pay some money for.  We quickly secured an amazing dinner reception venue on a primetime 2012 summer weekend.  It was through one of our committee members that Lucy's Garden (a perfect blend of classy but not over-the-top) became available to us since her family owns it.

In November, I became pregnant and counted out the weeks to my projected due date.  To my dismay, I would be 37 weeks pregnant when the reunion was scheduled.  Sidney was born at 37 weeks so I am desperately hoping it will all work out and I can go, though my OB will see me the Friday before and let me know if it's okay to travel.  Because of this, I volunteered to do more in the planning stages and provide things that could be done remotely from Seattle.  I still need to put the slideshow together but will work on it this week.  (Mostly I've been holding out for more photographs from the grads.)

But by May, when it came time to purchase the tickets, we really had to work to get people to do it.  Despite the advance notice and the perceived enthusiasm from the survey, extra emails and direct appeals had to be sent to get the ball rolling and the process is still happening.  We do have a good number of folks who have committed and bought tickets but we also have a fair number who have not responded to the digital invite at all.  I will be thrilled to see whomever shows up and I know the events will be cool.  Definitely now I am second guessing the decision to have a Friday No-Host Bar Mixer AND a Saturday Dinner Reception.  Did we zap some of the interest from the Saturday main event by offering another gathering?  I also wonder if the advent of Facebook eliminates the inherent curiosity in going to one's reunion to find out what everyone is up to now.  Maybe reunions will become passe' in future since you can still stay connected to classmates long after graduation.  But I remembered some advice I gave to my cousin last year when she was planning her wedding and some folks chose not to attend:  focus on the people who are making the effort to show up and enjoy their company instead of fretting about those who didn't.
I just hope our baby stays put so I can be there.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

East Coast 2012: Richardson Reunion

More often than not when we make our annual East Coast journey, there is a blue crab feast with one or the other sides of Ken's family. This year we congregated in Ocean City, MD (also the location of our one date night away from the spawn) at the home of Ken's cousin Alan. This represented Ken's mother's side of the family.  Alan's mother, girlfriend and sister also helped make the meal a success.

Lots of small children were in attendance too so Sidney was right at home.

High steppin' with Cousin Mia
Mia, Sidney & Landon

It was at a beautiful abode situated right on the bay. The weather was perfect and the food was plentiful.

The view

The lawn

Safety gate for the dock

Crab feast!
I strategically sat near my father-in-law Duke who is a master at "crab picking" or cutting away all the other garbage to get to the small amount of meat inside the crab body.  That is still such a weird thing to get used to after being on the West Coast and eating the plentiful leg meat of Dungeness and King Crab.  The Blue crab are tiny and take a lot of effort to extract the small amount of meat they possess.  That is usually why I eat something else like a burger or hot dog or something.  I tried once when Ken and I were first dating to properly "pick" a crab by myself but it felt so surgical and when I finally got to the meat, I was so grossed out by it that I barely wanted to eat it.  

Uncle Jack, Duke & Joyce
Cousin Thomas made a special trip down from NY where he recently graduated from drama school  to hang with the family.  We were delighted to see him as well as all the other family.  Sidney definitely had a blast though didn't eat much.  Well she ate a lot of fruit.  

Cousin Thomas, Cousin Alan, his girlfriend Shiloh, Aunt Chris, Cousin Dawn and her boyfriend Ian
Cousin Corey, his girlfriend Corey (also) and the West Coast crew
Sidney's favorite person: Uncle Mike

A great time in a great place with great people!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

More Cinemagraphs

Remember these Cinemagraphs?  Ken made some when we went to Banff, Alberta.

He just finished some more from an old Vegas Trip.  Check it out.... (Click to enlarge and get hi-res quality on the motion).

Saturday, June 02, 2012

East Coast 2012: Date Night in Ocean City, MD

Ken's folks looked after Sidney Thursday night while we got to spend a nostalgic night on the town. Ken's mom let us borrow her new toy: a BMW Roadster and we sped out to the huge beach town of Ocean City.  We had a great dinner at Liquid Assets which is a gourmet restaurant inside a liquor store (no joke--I highly recommend it), then cruising the strip gawking at all the putt-putt courses, beach wear stores and endless condo/hotel structures.  We finally parked and walked along the boardwalk, eating Thrashers famous fries and finishing with the grand finale of a ferris wheel ride.  Great night!

Dino Golf - Rawwwwwr!

Friday, June 01, 2012

East Coast 2012: Change Ringing (Bells)

During our annual visit to the East Coast to see friends and family, Ken arranged for an unusual field trip to something he and Sidney had found on the Internet.  Very often when reading books or talking about things, Ken and Sidney will look up videos online to further give context or explain something that Sidney has never seen before.  Often this is something we do for wild animals so she can see what they are like in motion.  But sometimes the two of them will go off on tangents and look at things like ballet, gymnastics, parcor, birth videos and so forth.

One of their tangents led them to change ringing which is the English art of ringing a set of tuned bells usually found in church towers that requires one ringer per bell.  It originated in the 17th century and it's what you might associate with traditional Old World church pageantry but probably you've heard it during the telecasts preceding the ceremonies when Royals get married or die.

Despite that, there are a surprising number of places in the US that have these bell towers including the University of Washington but alas they are not open to visitors.   However at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church about 45 miles north of where Ken's folks live in a town called Princess Anne, Maryland they were welcoming so we headed up there Wednesday night.

I had not been privy to seeing the videos of the change ringing so I had no idea what was in store.

First we had to climb up ladder-like stairs into the tower.  Poor Ken had a pregnant wife and a toddler daughter to watch out for.

The tower is naturally close quarters so we had to push ourselves into a corner to be out of the way.

The bells hang in a way that laymen would consider "upside down" above our heads while the ropes that rang them came down through reinforced holes in the ceiling.

They don't use written music but instead have patterns for each of the numbered bells.  In this case they have bells 1-5.

Carroll Lentz is the leader of this group on Bell 1.  He calls out what they are doing and changes during the piece.

 Here is what the tower looks like from the outside.

And this is what it sounds like on the inside...
Thank you to our gracious hosts who let us intrude on their Wednesday night practice, answered all our questions and played some beautiful music for us.  The first moment the bells started ringing brought tears to my eyes as the live sound to the ear has a richness that is almost indescribable.  It's on par with hearing a symphony live too.  A truly unique experience.

Change Ringers and their bell #:
1 Carroll Lentz
2 Tish Lentz
3 Ann Smith
4 Richard Kirby
5 Betsy Thorton