Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Snapshot: Pei’s Pyramid at the Louvre



I have to say, I really prefer I.M. Pei’s Pyramid from below as opposed to the courtyard level. The ticketing queues for the Louvre really benefit from all that light instead of feeling like you’re being rounded up like cattle to enter some dark entrance.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What I’ve Learned in 30 Weeks of Being Pregnant

Yes, 30.

That means I HOPEFULLY have 10 more to go. Based on my latest ultrasound, this kiddo is above average in weight (yet I didn’t gain any weight between doctor appointments…hmm) so let’s all pray I don’t go to 41 or 42 weeks. Because yeah. That does not sound fun. At all.

So let me take advantage of my time between naps and 975653425699776454243 baby prep activities to recap.

1st Trimester

10ish weeks

10ish weeks

Have you ever had mono? I had just a touch more energy than that for a solid 3 months. Oh, and did I mention that I was working 3 part-time jobs? Obviously biking to a bakery 2 miles away at 5:30 am is IDEAL. Or literally just starting a job in the field I’ve always wanted to be in days before finding out I was pregnant. So I took ALL THE NAPS. Because of ALL THE NAPS, I learned how to delegate, prioritize, and let go of stuff that didn’t *need* to get done.

Food aversions were fun, too. Coffee tasted horribly bitter. Corn tasted like beets (and beets taste like dirt to me). Chocolate was sickeningly sweet. In fact, all desserts/baked goods were unappetizing. Meat was not very popular either. I’m pretty sure I ate nothing but scrambled eggs and toast for a week at one point. The aversions really didn’t last too long though, maybe 3 weeks tops. The weirdest one? Mint toothpaste. I don’t know if you’ve ever perused the toothpaste aisle looking for a non-mint flavor, but it’s really hard to find. And of the non-minty Toms of Maine flavors, I couldn’t go with cinnamon or clove because the hubs HATES both. So I found orange mango. It was like brushing my teeth with orange juice. Which was better than gagging on mint. So toothpaste makers, can you please expand your flavor options? I’m sure there are people allergic to mint and lots of other pregnant ladies who cannot deal with minty fresh breath. (FYI: this mint comes back for me later.)

2nd Trimester

20-something weeks

20-something weeks

No more daily naps! I could actually stay awake past 9 and do multiple things in a day! I could go back to doing yoga or going for a walk. And do chores!

My pants stopped buttoning around 14 weeks. (This was the part where I felt chubby and not pregnant. I’ve never really experienced not having my pants fit since I’ve been about the same size since high school, so this was hard to accept and embrace.) Belly bands are a gift from the gods. It’s like a tube top that hides the fact that your pants are unbuttoned and holds them up at the same time. This may or may not have been related to the fact that I probably dropped $50 at Whole Foods on avocado rolls over a few weeks.

Which brings me to cravings. I’ve had 4 consistent cravings so far: eggs, avocados, citrus, and pickled anything. So basically the first three are hungover white girl brunch with a side of hormones.

Dreams are weird, y’all. I had to give up Walking Dead at the beginning of the second trimester because I would get awful, graphic nightmares. Pregnancy hormones lead to a plethora of crazy dreams. Not only can I not watch intense stuff or violent stuff, but anything I watch before bed ends up in my dreams. RuPaul, bad 90s movies, cooking competitions, they’ve all been there. I’ve also had just straight up crazy like the one time I dreamed I gave birth to twins, a girl and a cat. A CAT. (Side note: we don’t know what we’re having so a cat doesn’t seem that far off.)

Which leads me to: EVERYONE wants to give you advice/predict what you’re having. I’ve learned to just smile and listen when people want to bust out old wives’ tales and personal quirks to predict what Baby Art Nerd will be. Odds are 50/50, so it’s a good Vegas bet. Also, many people feel compelled to tell me their horrific labor stories. Please. Don’t. I’ve been doing my own research and listening to my gut, so what worked or didn’t work for you may not be the same for me. All babies are different, and all labors are different. I know we have a compulsion to bond over similar experiences, but these are two things that can’t be generalized beyond “Hey, I’m a mom, too!”.

Last thing I learned in the second trimester? Around 6.5 months, Baby Art Nerd must have had a growth spurt because literally nothing could fill me up. I could have owned Adam Richman on Man Vs. Food. 5 pieces of fried chicken after eating a pound of scrambled eggs for breakfast? No problem. Only super heavy butter masala paneer with a pile of rice and chapati could put a dent in my hunger. So I guess I learned what parents go through with teenage boys’ appetites, because that was a lot of food.

3rd Trimester

I held off on buying this.

I held off on buying this.

After a couple of months of feeling energetic, all that marathon growth has cause my belly to get in the way of doing simple things. Putting on pants/socks winds me. Socks are the worst because I have to put my feet up on a bed or chair to just reach them comfortably. I tried cleaning the kitchen sink and couldn’t reach behind the faucet anymore. I have to brush my teeth at an angle at the sink in the bathroom. Certain pews at church are harder to get into because of the massive columns at the end. And I’m pretty sure I’ve knocked stuff off of desks thinking I could fit. Even though this belly has been growing for weeks and weeks, I still think of myself pre-pregnancy when it comes to spatial awareness.

There are 937458467857390472758465784927349375846574875948 things that are “essential” for baby. We quickly decided that we want a minimal home for the baby. I see all of the single purpose items in the consignment shops that only get used for a couple of months. To us, it makes more sense to spring for convertible items and skip a lot of “necessary” things. It’s nice to know we’re on the same page regarding certain toys, goofy fake essentials, and the whole gendered pastel baby machine. It’s worse than the wedding machine, and that is cray.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to slow down and ask for help. I need help putting socks on, getting laundry loads in and out of the basement, remembering things, and other things. I used to be super independent and try to do everything myself before asking for help. Now I accept any and all offers. I used to also try to cram a ton of stuff in like juggling three jobs or seeing 76876867698 things in three days. Now I just pace myself better and know that a nap is always more important than organizing diapers. I go to a prenatal yoga class to relax and take care of myself rather than loafing on the couch or reading the 50th book about pregnancy and raising a baby. We’ve taken quite a few classes and done research, but we’re both avoiding the obsessive neuroticism that comes from trying to read everything.

Which makes for a happier “us”. Relaxed and happy is the way to go into this new chapter.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday Snapshot: Early Morning Clouds over the North Atlantic


I’m still waiting for spring here in Boston when I can see colors besides white, gray, and brown, so here’s a colorful sunrise over the North Atlantic flying into Dublin.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

5 House Museums Around Boston to Visit

Boston is FULL of museums (definitely compared to living in the South), but maybe you don’t want to look at galleries full of encyclopedic art. Maybe you want a particular focus or just some context for the objects that you’re looking at. Or perhaps you want to spend just an hour looking at things. That’s where house museums come in. Rather than the gigantic collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, you get a more focused and somewhat personal view of someone’s taste in objects.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

So this is kind of a hybrid. The permanent collection is in her mansion and nothing is to be moved from its original location (unless it’s being conserved). There is also a Renzo Piano addition with a more modern collection attached. It’s pretty wild to be just blocks from Fenway and walking through rooms of art collected by a very wealthy Bostonian. They were also the victim of a major art theft in the 70s. The works were cut from their frames, and you can still see the empty frames in the rooms. It’s haunting but also fascinating.

Gropius House

The entryway to the Gropius House, Lincoln, MA.

The entryway to the Gropius House, Lincoln, MA.

If you like more modern aesthetics, New England can seem like a desert with all the colonial and federalist architecture. But Walter Gropius was hired by Harvard’s School of Design in the 30s, and he built a fantastically Bauhaus home in the town of Lincoln. It’s such a departure from the usual house museum in New England. Every design element was thought out to be the most efficient use of space. I feel like I’m walking through a Dwell article. Plus I want EVERYTHING in that house.

Paul Revere House

Is history your thing? Well, there’s plenty of it in Boston. Paul Revere’s home in Boston’s North End is part of the Freedom Trail. Plus, it’s just blocks from cannoli. Sold yet? I’ve never had the time to stop in when walking the Freedom Trail, but I’ve spoken with some of their employees and visitors. Revere is such a mythologized figure from the Revolutionary War that it seems surreal to tour his home. They have a ticket pass that includes entrance to all of the paid sites on the Freedom Trail if you want a day full of Revolutionary history.

Louisa May Alcott House

Okay, maybe this is just my own bias, but I LOVED Little Women and Little Men as a kid. I think I read Little Women about 50028626726987 times. Her house museum is in Concord, tucked near the Old North Bridge (where the first battle of the Revolutionary War took place) as well at Thoreau’s home. Concord can keep you busy all day with small museums and cute shops.

Gore Place

Multisensory model of Gore Place for visually impaired visitors.

Multisensory model of Gore Place for visually impaired visitors.

Full disclosure: I work at Gore Place but I’m writing this on my own time without getting any cashola. If you like Federalist architecture and/or Monticello, you need to see Gore Place. It’s a huge mansion with ingenious details like inserting china closets between two oval shaped rooms to allow for hidden clean up by servants, an indoor shower, central heating, and more. All from 1806. They also have a working farm on the property. The house was owned by Christopher Gore who was a lawyer, a MA state senator, and many other things during his career. It’s located in Waltham.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

5 Things I’m Glad I Made the Time for in Paris

Last April, we spent a week in Paris. Not knowing when we’d come back, there were a lot of things that I tried to cram in while still being able to soak up what makes Paris, well,  Paris.



The weather was mostly warm for our stay, so the majority of our lunches were eaten in parks around Paris and Chartres. We ate in the Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg, near the Canal St. Martin, and in the shadow of Chartres cathedral. Nothing fancy, we just picked up snacks at little bakeries or in the local grocery stores. Even grocery store baguettes were ridiculously tasty. I’m glad we only ate at a restaurant for lunch once (near the Pompidou because it was raining) because we saved money and we got to people watch while just taking our time.

Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine

I'm a dork.

This museum is hard to find if you’re using Google Maps, but it’s tucked inside the Trocadero across from the Eiffel Tower. We got lost looking for it using the map I made ahead of time, and we almost decided to skip it after a long day of exploring. But we didn’t, and it turned out to be my favorite museum of the trip. Rather than giving in to tired feet or frustration for not being able to find it easily, I stuck with it.

Window Shopping

On our last full day, we decided to take it easy and just wander around Le Marais for part of the morning. I had hoped to shop a little, but I couldn’t find anything I liked enough to justify the cost (because of course I liked all the pricey boutiques). Yet it was fun to just spend a Saturday morning window shopping with Parisians. I got a feel for the street style and a neighborhood rather than rushing from place to place. It was a nice way to linger in the neighborhood after checking out the European Center for Photography and to get some sunshine.

Cafes and Bakeries

opera cake

I wanted to eat ALL THE PASTRIES in Paris. Every single one. Our B&B had delicious cakes each morning, but any time an eclair or opera cake or macaron looked nice, we stopped in (if only to look when the lines were crazy). And while the coffee in St. Germain des Près was meh, it was fabulous to just sit and savor an espresso or un café after checking out museums and churches. We saw the most adorable group of preschoolers crossing the street all holding on to a rope, chic couples, college students, and tourists mingling together.

Ethnic Food

indian, ethnic, budget, restaurant

Yes, we were in a culinary mecca of French perfection. But we grabbed Indian on our first night in Paris. It’s an easy way to ease into a new city because the menu is recognizable. I could slowly get my high school French flowing again ordering a vegetarian thali platter. Plus we were staying just a few blocks from Paris’s Little India. It’s a part of Paris that visitors often skip. Dishny wasn’t spectacular, but it was comforting to have something familiar after flying all night and getting oriented in our neighborhood.