I went to a baby shower

I typically maintain low expectations for most things Army, that way I’m seldom disappointed and can be pleasantly surprised when things are better than expected. As I mentioned before, I’m also pretty laid back which couples well with the first. So far, though, I have been beyond pleased with all my experiences with the New Parent Support Program and also the Cradle Club classes offered at my local hospital.


The NPSP hosted an educational baby shower for us recently for a few hours on a Saturday morning. We had speakers and demonstrations on baby wearing, breastfeeding, and an informational session on WIC. We also played games and won prizes and were treated to a healthy cooking session (plus lunch!) by a chef who works on post for the Child and Youth Services.


Finally, they gave us all a gift bag to take home filled with useful things for a new parents, plus tons of information to read through.


It was a really good experience and I got even more information on groups and resources in the area that I’m looking forward to putting to good use.

On My Mind

For some reason this week was just unending to me. Partly because I’ve been having some back pain that has made it hard for me to sleep. I’m already a light sleeper but this has been enough to just make me get up so there’s been a few morning when my day has started around 2 a.m. So much for sleeping while I can.


I read this story this past weekend and got pretty teary-eyed at how sweet and amazing what a love story it is.


Although I’m having trouble sleeping, I also bought a memory foam mattress topper recently and I don’t know how I ever lived without it. I had one while I was in Afghanistan and loved it so when my bed started feeling less comfortable I was pretty sure a mattress topper would help (and it does, I just can’t seem to stay asleep). Even P likes it and he usually likes firmer mattresses. It’s amazing and at only $70 I wish I had done this sooner.

Williams Sonoma Gift Guide.

Okay, so I love Williams Sonoma. I love their store, I love how it smells, how it sells devices that are good at doing only one thing and all their expensive things, but also I love what good quality everything is. I splurged on a really nice Le Creuset deep saucepan when I moved back here because I knew I’d be without my kitchen tools and wanted to buy something I could still use. I got it on clearance and we use it all the time.

Anyway, this guy writes a hater’s guide to their catalog every year. The 2017 one isn’t out yet but his from 2016 is still hilarious.


This comic from 1111 Animals.


Doe, a deer, a FEMALE, dear

I was so disappointed with my last ultrasound that I thought I’d see about going to one of the boutique places. The ones near Augusta were all booked up but there was plenty of availability for appointments in and around Atlanta. Since I was heading up for the Atlanta 10-miler, it was easy enough to stop off in Covington and go to Stork Vision.

The front office was really pretty and cozy. I did filled out the same paperwork as I had done online and a family came out of the room and after briefly dickering with the front desk over how much a disc of images was, they left and took a bazillion pics in front of the store.

The ultrasound room was darker and reminded me of a spa. The tech at the first ultrasound had a hard time getting pictures but she was very cooperative this time. Well, mainly. She was lying with her feet by her face and wasn’t interested in changing that position for anything. The first tech told me she couldn’t tell me the gender because it could be a lawsuit, which is ridiculous. I actually can’t sue my medical care-she could punch me in the face and I couldn’t sue her for anything. Anyway, second tech had no problems confirming that Zoya is indeed a Zoya and not a Vladimir the Destroyer.

I always thought it odd when people would post their baby’s bits online and now here I am

Also she got some nice pictures in 3D which was really cool. I didn’t think she’d look like much since she’s only half-naked but she definitely has some obvious facial features already. To me, she looks more like P.

I’m leaning towards going back in a few weeks for a more full 3D session once she’s put on some more weight and developed some more to see what she looks like then.


On my mind

I’m in a class for the next couple of weeks which has been nice because I have a “normal” schedule instead of my rotating shifts and got to spend Halloween handing out candy to kids (and dog treats to Zane because we’re working on positive associations with strangers and kids especially) but has also been a pain because now I have to drive in traffic and parking has been much harder to find.

Staying awake.

You’d also think that a normal schedule would help me stay awake more easily. Nope. Instead, now I’m suckered into the post-lunch coma every afternoon and since I’m also pregnant, I can’t suck down coffee like I would otherwise. Instead, I’ve been using a blend of essential oils this week called En-R-Gee to keep me awake when the briefer starts to drone. I have it in a roller bottle so I can just dab it on my wrists and my neck for a quick pick-me-up. I don’t love the smell like I do some other oils, but I’m also a lot more sensitive to smells due to pregnancy.


I know I said I was limited on coffee, and that’s true, so it also means that the coffee I do get to have is extra valuable to me and I don’t want to waste it on a crappy cup that I won’t enjoy. Back in Alaska, some friends moved out and gifted us the remainder of the food in their pantry that they couldn’t eat or take with them. One of the things was a half-empty bag of ground coffee from the Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. You guys. This is seriously the most amazing coffee in the entire world. Embarrassingly, Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. is maybe half a mile from where I lived in Alaska and walkable in both seasons (deep winter and preparing for winter) and I didn’t visit it until my last year there and discovered that not only is their coffee amazing, but their food and pastries are also delicious.

When I left Alaska I took a bag of beans with me and with my manual grinder, French press, and JetBoil, I had hot, delicious coffee every day of my trip. They also ship (thank goodness) so everyone can try their wonderful blends. My favorite is the Milan San Remo blend and what I’ve been treating myself to every morning.


Next week I also get to go to the first of my five birthing classes offered by my hospital. I’m looking forward to it because it also has a tour of the labor and delivery section and it will be nice to meet other to-be-parents who are due around the same time. I’ve been having a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions and it’s really neat that even though I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing, my body is already working on preparing itself.


I really, really like podcasts. I like them in the car and also while lifting. Apparently that second one is a little unusual. I got hooked on The Longest Shortest Time on my cross-continent move and it’s still one of my favorites because the episodes are always so varied but always interesting. Last week I listened to one about the importance, or whether it was important, of afro-centric schooling for kids and how identity with their ethnicity affects their future. The podcast is about parenthood, but really interesting no matter what stage of life you’re in. I definitely wasn’t planning on being pregnant when I first started listening and found the podcast captivating even then.

The Army’s most attractive uniform.

I know I wrote about my feeling on the Army’s maternity uniform a little while ago, but another thing that bothered me, among all the rest of the things that bother me about the uniform, is that while the front is button-up to allow for ease of pumping and/or breastfeeding (like, zippers aren’t faster?) the undershirt is just a regular t-shirt. So imagine this with me – I can unbeaten my shirt to pump BUT I still have to either lift my t-shirt to fit the pump in there or else try to wrangle it under my shirt like some sort of breastmilk snake. Yeah.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Miss Military Mom created a regulation shirt that also has a flap that can be used for nursing or pumping. They even made a long-sleeve version. Thank goodness, because I was going to attempt to make something and I am not good at sewing or anything like that.

The first pregnancy.

I found this video a few weeks ago and showed it to P and while it was pretty funny,  I really identify more with the second-time mom than the first and I’ve also noticed that in our classes and at our appointments. I’ve barely taken any pictures, the baby room is mostly a bunch of boxes stacked in a way that doesn’t make me feel crazy when I walk by but the closet is holding all my Army gear, pictures, and overflow winter jackets – nothing like what I’ve seen other people have in their baby rooms. I don’t even remember to take my prenatal vitamin every day. I think a big part of it is that I’m working a pretty involved full time job and when I’m not I have a lot of other things on my to-do list so I haven’t really had much time to sit around like the first-time mom in the video and document the journey. Also, sushi, lunch meat, and coffee are all still part of my life. We’ll see how long this lasts.

Kitchen Table and Chairs Makeover

I’ve had the same kitchen table and chairs for eight years now, bought all together for $130 from IKEA in Washington. They’ve moved multiple times with me with little complaints but the past couple of moves have left the chair bottoms mostly screw-less and wobbly and require constant tightening. Plus, they’re pine which is pretty but soft, and jean rivets and cat and dog paws have scratched them. I wanted a new table set and I wanted something pretty, durable, and that I could fit more people at than my tiny IKEA table. In short, what I wanted was not going to cost me $130, more like $1,300 at least. I couldn’t pay that much when my table and chairs were still functional so I just kept looking. I really loved the look of farm tables with the white aprons and wood tops, but I also wanted something that I could expand for special occasions.

A couple of months ago, someone advertised a dining room table with a leaf and EIGHT chairs all for the princely sum of $300. I jumped on that the way my cat jumps on wet food. They were moving to Germany and needed to cut weight and wanted a new table anyway. The table had been a gift from their parents as it was a table they’d grown up with as kids, but they just didn’t have the room, weight allowance, or need eight chairs. I don’t need eight chairs, either, but I’m not passing up free stuff. We packed it all up in the back of our pickup truck and drove it home.


The original color of the chairs and table

The first project I took on was the chairs.  I liked the look of chalk paint so I used Dixie Belle in Buttercream and for the chairs and Haint Blue for the captains chairs. I (foolishly) assumed they were pine and not oak and was slightly horrified when the tannins bled through the paint.

I bought some spray primer from Rustoleum and gave the chairs a quick spray with a little extra attention to areas where the tannins were still struggling to come through. I liked the chalk paint a lot. I tend to be heavy-handed in painting so I did have to temper it down a bit, but I found the paint to be VERY forgiving. I topped the chairs with Dixie Belle Clear Coat in a satin finish.


The table was a huge pain. I had this vision of a stained top with a white apron and P gallantly took this on almost entirely but that table top would.not.stain. We used Minwax in Jacobean for the stain and every time he’d put it on, it would wipe right off, like a dry erase marker. We tried letting it dry. We tried conditioning the wood. As it turns out, Minwax, despite being available at nearly every store, also has a bit of a reputation for being absolute garbage to work with. He wanted to paint it but I really wanted the stained top finish. I found something that talked about staining over paint and he agreed to try that. I kept researching other options.


In searching for stain over paint, I saw some images of tables and other furniture that had been dry brushed with multiple colors of chalk paint. I already knew I liked chalk paint, and also that stain was an enormous pain. I watched some video guides and decided to try it out.

My local Ace Hardware had started selling Dixie Belle so I bought containers of Driftwood and Hurricane Gray and in a wistful fit, also a container of Voodoo Gel Stain in Up In Smoke. I tried out the gel stain…nope.It was a pretty color, but the table took the stain unevenly. I think the top was just made of too many different woods to take an even stain. Next, I tried just painting it in Driftwood and it felt pretty blah, so I tried dry brushing and water washing the Hurricane Gray and liked the look of the dry brush.


Top left – Driftwood. Top right – color of raw table. Bottom – gel stain 

I did a solid coat of Driftwood over the entire table, let it dry, and then dry brushed Hurricane Gray over it. Some areas were still a little too dark or concentrated for me, so I dry brushed a second light coat of Driftwood over top of it and then sealed the table with several layers of Gator Hide.


Left is a first coat of dry brushing over the Driftwood, center is attempting wet wash and right is a little bit of the gel stain left

I like the look of it. So much so I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner and making P go through a stain, wipe, stain, sanding purgatory. I’m so happy with how these turned out overall and I learned a lot in the process, namely, that furniture refinishing is a huge pain and that I’m in no hurry to experience it again.


The mostly-finished look. The side chairs are Buttercream and the captain’s chairs on the ends are Haint Blue.


A better look at the dry brush technique on top of the table.