Monday, October 27, 2014

"Straight to Your Heart"

Have you ever looked at a work of art that seemed to reach directly into your body and affect you from the inside?  Something that reaches "Straight to Your Heart"?

Elizabeth's 30th birthday present did exactly that, and now that it is finally hanging on the wall in our bedroom, we wanted to share a bit about how it ended up meaning way more than we initially thought.

We have a nasty little habit of going on major vacations and coming home with new art for our home.  It started pretty small; proofs of a zebra striped lion and a sea horse from an art fair in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  A set of hand painted greeting cards from the Portland Saturday Market.  A multicolored pineapple print from the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet on Oahu.  Browsing through art fairs and galleries is a pretty consistent staple on our vacations and it seemed to culminate with convincing each other to come home from Waikiki with an original work by Chris DeRubeis that found a home in the dinning area of our condo.

Art on the walls of Casa Fiorani Thoma

In July, we spent a week on the big island of Hawaii during our last big trip before beastie arrives.  In addition to swimming with dolphins, hiking through volcanic craters, and watching amazing sunsets, we also spent some time browsing the various galleries in and around Kona.  We were pretty set on not coming home with another big piece on this trip, but we still love to look.

A stroll through the "Pacific Art Gallery" brought us upon a collection of canvases and prints by Fabio Napoleoni that really grabbed our attention.  Fabio uses vivid colors and characters to capture what he describes as "Nostalgia, sorrow, and moments that lift the soul".

"The Biggest Gift of All"
A worker in the gallery quickly shared the tag line "What the Heart wants and the Heart needs can be found in a Fabio' painting."
"Good Things Come to Those Who Wait"
She also shared that Fabio's art is inspired by and follows the emotional journey of his daughter being born with a critical heart defect that left her in the hospital multiple times with somewhat dire prospects.  She recovered against the odds, and as she did Fabio's work became more colorful and uplifting.
"I Want the World to Know"
While we LOVED the work, the woman in the shop was much more interested in a foreign couple purchasing a far more expensive painting to really pay us much mind, and we pretty quickly convinced ourselves that we didn't need another piece of art, no matter how compelling they were.

"On My Mind"
After returning from the amazing trip (if you haven't been to Hawaii, go there, now!), Chris was coming up empty on birthday gift ideas for Elizabeth, and kept coming back to the idea of purchasing one of the works we saw in the gallery in Kona.  After stewing about the idea for a couple weeks, Chris reached out to a few galleries with Fabio's work to see what was even available.  It was REALLY hard to find galleries that had much of Fabio's work in stock, given the limited production.  A print of "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait" that we saw in Kona sold the day before Chris called the gallery and most of the other prints were limited editions and simply weren't available anywhere.  What seemed like bad timing ended up bringing Chris back to the first canvas print that caught his eye in the gallery in Kona.  After wrestling with the thought that Elizabeth would yell at him for spending too much, Chris decided he didn't care, the print was perfect, and he pulled the trigger on the purchase.

Print in hand, Chris was thrilled, but slightly annoyed he had to wait so long to give it to Elizabeth, get it framed and put it up on the wall.  Then a week or so before Elizabeth's birthday, we had the second trimester ultrasound and found out about beastie's defect.  Neither of us had any idea how much meaning the painting would have for us when we were standing in the gallery in Kona months earlier, but this painting reached straight into our hearts and wouldn't let go.  It perfectly capture the sorrow, the hope, and the love we experienced on our journey so far with our little beastie, and now means more than we ever knew it would, or could.

After things settled down a bit, we found a local fame shop to get it professionally framed;  Michaels was simply not going to do for this one!  It seemed like we went through a hundred fame options, but we found a frame and accent we thought we liked, and began the waiting process for the job to be done.  The final product looks incredible, and looks amazing hanging over our bed.  We can't wait to share the story behind the piece with the little beastie when he is old enough!

"Straight to Your Heart" Limited Edition # 41 / 77

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just The 2.5 Of Us

Elizabeth might be moving a little slower (hello, third trimester!), but we are running all over.  The biggest and farthest trip we made was to Michigan.  It was little beastie's third trip to Michigan, and fifth plane trip overall.  This was by far the least comfortable flight for Elizabeth, but compression socks and lots of water go a long way.  And an upgrade to first class doesn't hurt!

Upgraded to first class!  Who cares that Elizabeth's seat wouldn't lock and light didn't work.

As usual, the mitten state welcomed us with open arms and questionable weather.  We started on the west side of the state where we were able to visit with fabulous friends, take our first family portraits, and celebrate a marriage.  Quite an exciting day and a half!  In fact, beastie has been to four weddings already, and we had to fly to all of them.  We're committed to making it to every wedding we can, but it's definitely going to get more complicated in 2015.

Clockwise from top left: beastie at 6, 12, 27, and 14 weeks.

Serendipitously, there are no more weddings until beastie arrives, which means no more stressing about formal wear that fits a bump.  The first time Elizabeth got irrationally emotional about her growing belly was trying on things for the wedding at week 27.  All the dresses she thought would work, did not work.  That plus hormones equals melancholy.  Thankfully, a California friend offered to lend a couple infinity dresses for the occasion.  Infinity dresses fit everyone and are highly recommended for fancy occasions where bumps must be accommodated.  In fact, that reminds Elizabeth that she'd like to share some pregnancy apparel tips with whoever cares:
  • Knee-length and maxi dresses are amazingly comfortable
  • Especially in early pregnancy, using a hair tie to extend the waistband on pants (pop it through the button hole and around the button) is way more comfortable than a belly band
  • Low rise undies, especially with lace tops instead of tough elastic bands, are awesome
  • You will need a bigger bra, and not just cup size
  • Those really flowy and long tank tops that are in these days... get a bunch in the current size you wear and one size up
  • Foldover everything - pants, skirts, shorts, all fantastic
  • Try out both over-the-belly and under-the-belly pants options - different strokes for different folks, and there's no way to know until you try
  • Invest in a night gown or night shirt that is comfortable (and will fit your growing belly), for when you don't want shorts or pants at night
Our trip to Michigan also included some significant family time in Metro Detroit.  Elizabeth keeps calling it "basically Xmas" since we can't travel for the holidays this year.  It will be our little family's first California Xmas!  We tried to make up for it with sibling time, niece and nephew time, cousin time, friend time, you name it.  Plus, Elizabeth's mom put on one heck of a party celebrating little beastie.  It was fantastic to celebrate (in person) with family and friends.  It was also very special to see some very precious moms with their babies and toddlers.  

Beastie's grandma and mom.

When you're pregnant, a lot of people say things to you.  From the generic conversation starter of "Congratulations!" from people you barely know, to comments on how big / small / good / tired you look.  It's all probably well meaning, but that doesn't mean it doesn't also get tiresome.  Is Elizabeth small?  Compared to what?  She's certainly bigger than she's ever been before, and not just the belly!  Is she tired?  Who isn't?  It's hard to come up with non-awkward responses to most of these things.  With close friends and family, it's pretty easy and no one cares when you say weird things.  With acquaintances and strangers... it's getting easier and easier not to care and just say weird things.  "Wow!  You're getting big!" "Yup."  (Silence)  "You are so tiny!" "Yup." (Silence)

The third trimester came on stronger than expected.  Elizabeth catches herself getting way more irritated than appropriate with little annoyances, and exercise is becoming a much bigger challenge.  In addition to getting winded super easily, she's also having to put more and more activities on the "don't" list.  Even so, she's committed to teaching her twice weekly classes at the dance studio, and weekend workouts at the Dailey Method (modified for late pregnancy, of course).

Even with the slow down, Elizabeth and Chris are trying to get to as many local activities as they can, while they can.  This past weekend we went to the other side of the bay to catch up with some special friends and saw Andrea Martin in her Tony-winning role in Pippin in San Francisco.  While it's still just the 2.5 of us, we'll continue being as active as we all can be, and we'll play it by ear when beastie gets out here.  Beastie will get here no later than January 5, since the doctors won't let Elizabeth go past her due date.  We'll just have to see if beastie makes an appearance in 2014, or waits for the new year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kickin' It

It didn't seem like much has happened the last few weeks, but when we sat down and thought about it - it really has!  Time moves much faster when there is joy, and our little family has certainly been feeling joyous lately.

Is there an endless to-do list?  Obviously.

Are there scary and stressful things?  Of course.

Are we all feeling loads better than we were a month ago?  You bet!

Little beastie continues to grow very well, and really seems to enjoy flailing around.  He's been a busy guy, and Chris has been able to feel him kicking and punching multiple times now.  He especially likes to kick up high, near Elizabeth's ribs.

Little beastie after some soccer practice.

In addition to all this physical activity, we had some more screenings, preventative care, and check-ups.  Our normal OBGYN is on maternity leave of her own, so we had our first visit with a new doctor in mid-September.  No new concerns and we were able to register for a bunch of free classes like Breastfeeding, Late Pregnancy, and Labor and Delivery.  Most of them aren't until November, but we're still pretty excited to get them on the calendar.

One of the most important things we did this month is get vaccinated.  Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is important for everyone, but it is especially important for pregnant women.  This vaccine will help keep both Elizabeth and little beastie safe during the pregnancy, and will also protect beastie after he is born (right in the middle of flu season).  We also have gotten the combined Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).  This is another vaccine that is safe and encouraged during pregnancy.  Pertussis in particular has seen a resurgence, and our family feels very strongly that adults need to do their part to protect those who can't protect themselves - and that means get the shot!

Protecting ourselves, protecting others!

It hasn't been all about our health these past few weeks, we've also started getting the nursery ready.  Some of the coolest people in the world gave their time and energy to paint beastie's room in late September.  When you have three people doing paint prep (edge taping, removing outlet covers, etc.), five people painting, and one person pretending to be helpful, things get done very quickly!  Elizabeth wasn't allowed in the nursery during painting because of the fumes, so she tried to take pictures.

 The gang's mostly here!

The 49ers game was blaring from the living room, Elizabeth shouted scores and information occasionally, and we ran out of paint.  After the girls made a quick run to Home Depot, Team Beastie was able to finish painting.  And who are we kidding?  Lawrence is a much better photographer than Elizabeth any day.  She was pretty much useless except when hand-delivering coffee and water.

It always starts out fun...

We can't wait to tell beastie about Lawrence, Kevin, Meredith, Kelly, and Christina helping Daddy paint his room.  And if he hates the color, it was totally their fault.  

We had yet another ultrasound visit earlier today, and have started looking forward to our video chats with the beastie.  His growth is right on target, the omphalocele is still tiny, and no other defects were found.  The ultrasound tech we had today is the one who originally found the omphalocele, and she told us about showing the pictures to the perinatologist and asking if it was the tiniest omphalocele she'd ever seen!  She spent some time showing us the omphalocele up close on the ultrasound, and explaining how they could tell it was only intestines and no liver.  Sometimes babies with omphalocele have more amniotic fluid than normal and while this isn't usually a problem, they like to keep track.  Elizabeth has just on the high end of normal, which makes sense considering how small the omphalocele is.  Since this was a much less stressful visit than previous ultrasound trips, we enjoyed ourselves a bit more and Chris got to take some video!  


We'll continue to have ultrasound visits every four weeks in addition to the regular prenatal appointments.  We also had a discussion with the perinatologist about delivery and if/when they would induce.  Same guidelines as a healthy pregnancy, if labor starts after 34 weeks they would let it continue.  If labor hasn't started at 38 weeks, they will have us a schedule a date.  They won't actually induce until 39 weeks, but they don't want Elizabeth to go past her due date (at least not by much).  That means beastie should be here sometime before January 5!  He might even sneak in a 2014 birthday.