Sunday, September 25, 2011

quick, catch up

It's been my intention to write for a long time, so now I'll get some words out there with just a few minutes left in my productive day (at 8, I turn into a pumpkin).  Nick's been away for the past 36 hours, set to return in the next hour or so, and this is what Arnie looked like all day (taken on my gritty phone camera).

Come on, please, won't you play with me, again, and again, and again?  Nick must do some serious rough housing with him all day long when I'm gone, because I could not keep up with his attention demands.  I seemed to get about an hour of respite after feeding him, or walking him, but other than that, he wanted to be the lap dog that my belly can't handle.  Thank goodness the "fun parent" will be home soon. 

So while I've been home relaxing, cleaning, catching up on school work and sleep, Nick's been in Iowa getting our remaining boxes ready for his mom and new fiance (congrats Theresa and Jere!!!!)  to bring a load next weekend.  He's also there this weekend to spend time with family at a reunion of sorts at Grandma Barbs.  I was sad to miss it all, but needed the time at home.

And, alas, he has the camera so I can't photo update you on the 30 week belly!  Every week feels like a milestone, but this one especially.  We are 3/4 of the way to meeting this little being that's kicking me harder every day.  When I'm not stressed about the preparations that have not been made, lately I've just been in awe of the miracle of life.  Last week, three of my friends all gave birth to little boys.  All within a week of each other, all 1 week early.  It was such an inundation with joy, and so reaffirming for me to see (hear about) all of these births going well.  I have 2 more friends due in the next few weeks, Nick's cousin is due in November, and we are Dec. 5!  It's baby season for sure.  There is much more to be said on this topic, and I am going to start taking pictures of my growing girth because I want to remember this time.

I am not sure how to say this, so I'll not mince words.  There is a dance company in Chicago of whom I not only love the dancing, but I love the dancers too.  Molly Shanahan/Madshak is in the midst of a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the next creation.  Molly has added so much to my dancing life over the past 10 years, starting at Denison and continuing in Chicago.  These are excellent artists and people and they will use any funds donated to such a good end.   If you find yourself interested in donating to a cause that will further artistic endeavor in the fields of dance and art, consider donating to this company.  There are 12 days left, .  I'll be donating before the time is up.

Well, it's give the dog one last run around, and sleep time for me.  And, I'm not a pumpkin, yet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grutz says, "I know, I know, but..." or "Tungsten carbide drill? What the bloody 'ell's 'tungsten carbide drill'?!?"

Nick, where have you been?

I've been keeping a low profile lately.  I knew something was up when I overheard some folks at the bus stop talking amongst themselves and they were asking each other if they knew what was up with Grutz.  I was incognito 'cos, you know, I'm big in Chicago and I like my privacy, so I just pretended to read my Straits Time, adjusted my fake gray bushy eyebrows and beard, glasses, and tipped my boater to get a better look.
One of my guises when I venture out.
I'm not sure as to the nature of the origin of the conversation, but I'll relate as best I can when I came upon them....

Admirer no. 1 - "(I'm) a little worried, too.  Do you think Grutz is done with the blog?"
Admirer no. 2 - "Hard to say, hard to say.  At the very least I would have liked a big send off, you know, wicked headline which doesn't make sense until you read the post, neat photos with sublimely witty captions, wacky, random rants about politics/current events.  Hell, even some birthday info would be nice.  It is kinda spooky, though, posting a lot, then poof, no more."
Admirer no. 1 - "(Sigh) I hope everything is alright.  You know, like what if something bad happened to him?  Like he perished in a raging fire saving orphans or even worse, he doesn't have internet!"
Admirer no. 2 - "I think something would have been said.  At the very least by his wife.  Anyway, I miss the guy, but then again, it's nice getting a break from hearing all about how great Iowa is...."

At this point I stepped up to these two, placed the paper under my arm, straightened my bowtie, cleared my throat, and with a german accent asked, "Yah, I have heard of dis Iowa in my home in Dusseldorf.  A most velcoming place, or so I've heard.  Ah, here is zee bus.  Guten tag!"  And thus, the two stepped on the bus and I continued my constitutional.

But it got me thinking.  Yes, it has been far too long to post.  Yes, my wonderful admirers, it has been a long, long, long time.  My reasons are many, but let's have a little fun with it, shall we?  I will present different scenarios explaining my lack of posting and you can guess which one is the real reason I've been dragging my feet posting.  I'll present the real reason(s) very, very soon.

1.  Really bad self-perm.  My hair is getting kind of long and we're trying to save money and I was getting really sick and tired of my locks getting in my eyes.  We were at a second-hand store looking for items for Carleen's classroom and I stumbled upon this.....
At $0.35, its a lot cheaper than a hair cut.
.......and ended up with this.
And Phil Spector's perm looks better than mine.  Ghastly, I know.
Thus, in hiding.

2.  A pulled hamstring.  I pulled my hammy running out a routine grounder and was placed on the 15 day DL.  I tweeked it again in batting practice and am listed as day to day.

3.  An adverse reaction to piercing my own ear.  On a whim I decide to pierce my ear.  Grabbed a needle and a potato and jabbed away (in my left ear, cos you know, I'm cool).  It looked so rad when I was finished.  48 hours later my ear lobe is the size of an asian egg plant and as red as fire truck.  A visit to the ER when I started losing consciousness, two weeks in intensive care and some antibiotics the size of horse pills I'm finally all back to normal.  Who knew an infection could travel from your ear lobe to you spine?

4.  Just really f@cking lazy.

5.  Do you have any idea how much baby crap there is out there?!?!  Good god!  I look over some of these gargantuan "must-have lists" and I ask myself, "Are we heading the the International Space Station or are we having a kid?"  Honestly, Hillary and Tenzing had less shi!t in base camp and they frickin' climbed Everest.  I have files, literally, files on items you wear that can hold your baby, from something that reminds me of a hammock a peasant in Machu Picchu would wear, to uber-tech composite alloy packs Navy Seals would carry their kids in (and both more costly than my first car).
Our nursery will be better provisioned than these guys.  They only climbed the highest peak in the world.

5.  Teaching Arnie to play Cribbage.  This.Is.Really.Hard.

Bro.  Bro?  It's your turn.  C'mon, man.

6.  A tif with my father, Dan Grutz.  He's not terribly happy about my chosen profession.  It's really caused me to take a look at where my life is going.  A real self-evaluation.  Here's the incident as reenacted by some Brits.  Some amazing and important Brits (cost me a fortune).  Oh, and my name is Ken, in this piece.  Aaaand my dad's name is Frank, too.

7.  Boring.  Nothing of great importance has happened.  No news is good news, right?

Or submit YOUR ideas as to my hiatus from blogging.  Get creative/funny/gross/silly/epic and share with the world (and my admirers) what I have not been blogging.  It'll be good for you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday at our house

As I think I mentioned in a previous post, we have joyfully joined Angelic Organics CSA this year (community supported agriculture), and have thus enjoyed a bounty of freshness each week.  The past few weeks have supplied us with a surplus of tomatoes, and Nick decided they needed to be canned.  Summer sweet tomatoes in December is surely a great idea.  We left our official canning supplies (wire rack and huge multi-sized pots) in Iowa, to be gathered up at the end of October, so with the help of borrowing Mary Sue's giant pots, Nick had to fashion aluminum foil separators to go in the water bath with the jars.  A layperson might not know this, but when boiling the cans in the water bath, they are not allowed to touch each other, or the bottom of the pot.  Ingeniously, we used our vegetable steamer to keep them off the bottom, and Nicks aluminum foil contraption to prevent them from touching.  It worked famously (...for the most part, aside from a quickly remedied floating aluminum foil issue).

Double handed precision, deep into the canning sterilization is in process here. 

The steps that are omitted are the minute blanching of the tomatoes, the ice bath, the removal of the skins, and the cooking the crushed tomatoes for 35 minutes.

You can see the remnant of one of the aluminum foil rings at the top left.  Also, the aromatic cooked and crushed tomato loveliness.  

And here is the finished product!  All that effort better be worth it in December!  

The pastime that was enjoyed while we were in the canning mode was the Chicago Bears game on the radio, accompanied by the necessary football snack.   I am on sports overload, it's not really of any interest to me, and it seems like there is so much going on right now.  We don't have a tv, so it's a lot of radio sports, which makes it even more enjoyable (note sarcasm) because I have no idea who the players are or what the plays mean.  Anyhow, Nick loves it all (and so far this weekend has taken in parts of college football, NFL and baseball) mostly via internet or radio.

It must be September when Nick brings out the candy corn and roasted peanuts.  The combination is admittedly, delicious and addicting and I was only able to snap a picture of the remnants here.

 Also today, I finally finished up the blocks we painted at the shower I gave for Kristina and Paul a few weeks ago.  Don't they look great!  I am pretty proud of how they turned out.

The little guy is due to arrive any time now, and I am sure he'll be ready for spelling lessons right away.

And for the rest of the day, I am making tomato sauce with the left over imperfect tomatoes (the ones that had soft spots or bits of moldiness), and right now the plan is some kind of eggplant/tomato/noodle bake for dinner.  The eggplant is from the farm! yum.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

it's the little things

Well, I've been so crazy with school and life and 7 month baby in my belly that I missed our 1 year blog-iversary.  I started this blog on September 3, 2010, and Nick joined me in writing from time to time as the year went on.  I just looked back at some of the early posts and my, was I optimistic!  I don't feel less optimistic now, but I do feel more predictable, obviously because of certain circumstances that are fairly settled (job, dog, apartment, car, baby on the way).  What a journey, we went from being so not tied down to anything to choosing a life that has all kinds of limitations (or pleasures, I feel differently depending on the day).  What has not changed though, is the partner with which I am traveling through these times.  Nick has been steadfast in these  months of pregnancy, caring for me when I didn't even know I needed it.  He gets up every morning while I am walking the dog before work and makes me a huge lunch to take to work, he does the errands for me on the weekends when I just want to be home, he indulges every minor craving or desire I might have, and he selflessly eats with me when he's not hungry and I am.  This is a little known fact of pregnancy:  men who eat with their wives/ partners, are better people.  I don't like eating alone after a long day, and Nick always eats dinner with me.  This is wonderful.   I should also mention that he also almost always makes dinner for me too.  He's been amazing at using our CSA vegetables and creating deliciousness.  I am so happy to say that we've had barely any waste so far.   He is also keen on canning!  What a keeper.  He is taking the initiative to fabricate some kind of canning wire structure that will keep our bell jars from touching while they're in the water bath.  Hopefully this year we'll be able to  boast fresh tomato sauce and purees in the winter when all the stores offer only cardboard tomatoes.

It's been a great first year of marriage, not quite blissful, but it's been interesting, challenging, unpredictable, growth inducing, and joyous.   We breathed in beautiful places, we've got memories of a 2 month road trip to last forever, I've been able to experience teaching full time (even with all the difficulties, this has been an amazing experience), we have a puppy that adores us (probably too much), and there will be an arrival in December that will be sure to change our lives forever.  The time spent in Chicago has been not without it's trials, but the dancing I got to get in from November through now has been soul filing, the friends I've made at work and the life friendships I've continued have been priceless.

It sort of feels like I've both had and eaten the proverbial cake.  What did I do to get so lucky?

Last weekend we were in Iowa visiting family and picking up some baby gear.  We stopped and had a picnic in a park with Nick's aunt, grandma, sister and fiance, and niece and nephew.  It was delightful!

Look at him go! Today, we took another trip to Montrose Harbor Dog Beach and Arnie reveled and ran in the water and made tons of doggie friends.  He is such a kid, he tries to play with the big dogs, then gets scared and resorts to running around and convincing other dogs to chase him. 

This is Arnie's preferred position in the car. Front and center.

And this is the best part of the trip to the dog beach: Arnie is too tired to play and romp around with his tennis ball!  The boy will sleep so well tonight! 
I'll leave you with a picture from last summer, free and footloose and on the move.   Life is a little different now, though we are partnered up and as happy as ever. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies with my tea? Yes please.

I'm gathering from the multitude of phone calls from family members that my somewhat inflammatory last blog might need some clarification.  The best was my mom last night, "Carleen, what in the heck is going on?  I just got off the phone with Nana and I can't believe you didn't call me."  I guess I should have updated on Friday, when things were semi-resolved.  So after calming my mom down about health insurance fears, I explained that my school forced/ coerced (?) CPS to give me substitute status, and my official status as a teacher will begin in a few more days.  So yes, everything (spite the substitute backpay for the past 4 weeks) will be in order eventually.  It was encouraging that the powers that be apparently worked so hard to remedy the (their) mistake, but equally frustrating and unnecessary at the same time. 

Ack.  I continue to be backed up on school work.  Is it just me or are the demands of a teacher in CPS outrageous right now?  The term "meetinged out" has been coined at my school, and other teachers from different schools have intimated the same thing.  Geez. I can't keep up.  Or maybe it is the little baby in me that is taking all my energy.  Today we are 27 weeks along, and my email tracker says this is the beginning of the third trimester!  It feels like an accomplishment, and simultaneously, my baby brain is starting to take over and get concerned that we haven't taken any classes or made a list of things we need or really done anything at all to prepare.  I'm worried because I haven't been dancing much, my yoga practice has fallen to the wayside, and I'm generally feeling not so hot in this body.   Yesterday I "gently" suggested to Nick that he read one of my pregnancy books, and about an hour later he conceded.  We are coming to this baby in different ways, I think that Nick is of the belief that babies happen, and for years our ancestors have had them and raised them and been fine.  (A dresser drawer crib is perfectly legitimate).  I am of the belief that it is happening to me (not to my ancestor), and I want to have some idea of what might happen to me, and how I might best take care of the little one.  I'm not really interested in trial and error. 

Today the pregnancy tracker email thing said that I should have already decided on what classes to take and from the little research I did on the Bradley method, all of those classes are 12 weeks, which if we started next week, would take us right up to 40 weeks.  So that won't work.  I have to figure it out soon, but I can't seem to concentrate on that because of the looming lesson planning, grading, and general re- organization of the apartment that needs to happen. 

On the bright side, my friend Julie Ann is coming over to give me a massage later, and if I'm smart, I'll scoot over to a prenatal yoga class at 5:30 today.