Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gratitude: Baby Showers and Birthdays

Jo Hunter Adams

Eug says he's happy my birthday is closer to the baby's than his-- less birthday competition. I had a great birthday this week.

We also celebrated Noah's baby shower this past Saturday, and Eug and I received so much. My friend and college roomate Ee Cheng organized everything, and my mom-in-law hosted. We're so indebted to all of you who came and shared so generously.

We also got amazing gifts from family in South Africa (thank you all so much, and thanks mom and dad for bringing the gifts so far). Mom and dad gave me proper (South African)Cadbury's to make labour seem more fun. Debbie, do you remember betting that I'd eat chocolate in the hospital hours after my gall bladder was removed? I figure if I wanted chocolate then, I may just want it in labour.

Noah Prep
Last Friday I ran into my midwife at Trader Joe's while I was laden with ready made tortellini. I felt pretty self-conscious, like I should be home cooking up vegetable casseroles or something. I had planned to make a lot of meals ahead of time, but ready made food from Trader Joe's seemed more and more attractive the more tired I got. So, we have some meals that don't require much prep for those first weeks. Yeah!

We're down to the last week before the baby is supposed to come, and I'm trying to figure out what we really need to get this week. Diapers and wipes and a diaper pail seem to be the main necessities.

I've received a lot of suggestions to take it easy this last week, so I'm taking some time to ponder what's about to to happen and prepare a little emotionally, physically and spiritually. That may mean watching a lot of hulu (physical preparation), but there's also the prospect of awesome summer weather in Boston this weekend.

After a lot of research and advice from friends, we're going to be buying BumGenius 3.0s for diapers. We're going to ease into cloth diapering a little, as the one-size diapers tend to only fit after a baby reaches 8 pounds. Thanks to Dan and Leah, the transition phase is going to be marked by a foray into the awesome G-diapers (where the insert is compostable/flushable, reducing both landfill waste and washing during the time when we're most new to parenting). We're not purists, though: we'll be starting with a pack of landfill diapers. I'm also hoping that Noah and I will be able to learn how to breastfeed quickly.

Otherwise, nothing is set in stone and we're praying to be equipped for the hardest job ever. We're so grateful for all the support and prayers, and I'll keep you updated on prayer requests and news here on Concrete Gardener.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gratitude: The Kindness of Strangers

Last week I received these beautiful baby sweaters from a gifted knitter, Jeanne Bennett, whom I've never met. I had the privilege of spending the day with her daughter (in the context of an annual meeting at work), who sent me the sweaters:

They really are the type of sweater that you keep for generations, they're so well-made.

I meant to post this much earlier, and in the meantime Eug and I (and Noah) have been blessed with more gifts from South Africa, Korea and Boston. So there's more gratitude to come.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Building a Business

Apart from awaiting Noah's arrival, the other big development in our lives has been the building of Eug's graphic design (newsletter design-focused) business. It's his business but, being along for the ride, I've been learning a lot from the process. Baby growing and business growing have followed roughly the same timeline, so it seemed like a good time to look back and reflect.

Both members of a couple working forty hours in an office can be pretty intense. I'm constantly amazed by people who do it, by choice or by necessity. My experience was that it's doable, but it's no conducive to reflection or vision-building. Building a business may well be much more work, but it's a different kind of work, because Eug is able to imagine and actually act upon exciting ideas.

So I'm really happy Eug took the step last year, at a moment when we were living well within our means. It becomes much more difficult to imagine living on a different income if you're close to the edge every month, so ironically it feels like it makes a lot of sense to start when you're young and may have fewer financial commitments.

My experience of business up to now has been super limited-- I can't imagine how I would get money without a salary (this blog has earned $10.58 over the last two years...), so I had no idea how one actually goes about getting clients (which hasn't stopped me from offering tons of questionable suggestions). Now that Eug is in the midst of it, it feels good to be fully invested in the process.

Here's to the next phase of building Conferre!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Impossible Hamster

An illustration of the consequences of infinite growth:

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Collateral Murder"

I encountered this Guardian article on the Wikileaks Iraq Video, after Eug had mentioned it to me. The story is of unarmed civilians, including two Reuters reporters, being gunned down by U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The story was subsequently covered up.

I can't bring myself to watch the video, but I was overwhelmed by the story: of a disregard for innocent life in a warzone. There's a system in place that creates a space for soldiers to commit heinous crimes, a system that seems directly opposed to enlivening human conscience. It's as though things are so upside down that morality is somehow subjective. But we're talking about murder! This definitely demands questions about any kind of violent engagement, but I'll leave that discussion alone for now.

There's a steep gradient before you arrive at a military culture of shooting anyone who *may* be armed. I'm not one for the slippery slope argument, but I could relate in some small way to the power of the collective: I think a lot of workplaces take a few steps down that path. For example, professionalism sometimes encourages people to separate who they are at work and who they are at home. It can be pretty hard to remember that who you are is who you are, institutional culture or no.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter Updates and Stuff

Hi everyone,

Happy Easter! As you saw in the previous post, Eug's first issue of Conferre Magazine came out on Friday.

I've encountered a lot of super-excited pregnant people at our labor and delivery class, on the street... seemingly everywhere. For some reason, I haven't been able to give myself over completely to that excitement. I'm pretty conscious of the struggles couples have to get to pregnancy and through pregnancy, and in general I'm not that great at seeing huge life changes until after the fact.

That said, I like the idea of asking God to be present in the moment, to help deal with that moment or situation on it's own terms. As much as anything, it's allowed me to break out of that feeling of "oh my God oh my God oh my God" overwhelmedness.

In other news, we've been enjoying an exchange of stuff in our lives. Most notably, we now have a car (thanks to a friend and my mother-in-law), which is a huge life-changer for us both. I'm slightly nostalgic for our carefree car-free months, but practically speaking it might have been hard to do parenting and working in Watertown without a car.

Secondly, I've been manically posting things to give away on freecycle and trying to clear space for the baby. Our balcony at the top of the staircase(which isn't technically ours) is finally close to being clear.

Finally, on our walk on Sunday to drop off some clothes in the clothes donation box, we found:
A baby cookbook and a tapas cookbook.
A free bag of fancy, mostly new cleaning supplies, shampoo and conditioner (yeah!)
A ladybird baby toy that vibrates when you pull the handle.
And, someone on freecycle gave us about 90 disposable diapers-- a great start during the crazy days when we probably won't be up for cloth diapering. All that seems like provision...

Our seedlings are coming up well, and they'll be ready for their first photo shoot soon!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Exciting Times: Conferre Issue 1

When Eug began his own design agency in October of last year, he had the idea of starting an online magazine. He invited me to join him in the venture, and the first issue came out today: Check out Conferre's first issue!]

Also check us out on facebook!

Some background:
Conferre in latin means “to confer” or “to bring together”. The goal of the magazine will be to bring together men and women from around the world who are seeking innovative solutions to a wide variety of social and economic problems.

Our goal is to make it a work of love and fun. As editors, it gives us the chance to connect with cool people and be inspired by others. As a designer, it’s a chance to experiment with design work and have fun. We’re not following any rules of publishing as we’re pretty much outsiders to the publishing world and we’re open to letting it just evolve over time and see what happens. But we promise to keep it to the standard of a work we love.

“Working Locally, Thinking Globally” is the theme for the inaugural issue. The goal is to cover as many ideas, people and organizations in the greater Boston area who, in small or big ways are contributing to local actions that have global impact. For example, fair trade activists, researchers, sustainable farmers, social entrepreneurs, artists…