So many thoughts and questions, so few coherent words to put to the emotions and expectations of my new every day life.  My thoughts constantly occupied with ‘What the heck will she be like?’ and ‘How are our lives going to change?’ I am reminded of those silly memes with the question ‘What person do you wish you could meet, dead or alive?’  There is no person anywhere that I want to meet more than I want to meet her.

And her father. Please do not get me started on his excitement and dedication to her entire existence. I have seen a whole new side of him that just wasn’t there before he knew she was coming along.  I am happier with the two of us than I’ve ever been, despite the pressures and stresses of impending change and responsibilities inherent with starting a family.

Forty days, ish? Give or take a few depending on whether she gets procrastination traits from her father or OCD on-time tendencies from me. Either way, it will be perfection. She is perfection.

3.4 pounds gained since the beginning of my pregnancy.

250 dollars spent putting her on daycare waiting lists.

7 outfits owned.

9 pillows required for a comfortable night’s sleep.

20 trips to the restroom per day (on average).

2 excited beyond belief parents.

100 days until she arrives.

We are officially at the six month mark in this pregnancy. Roughly 93 days until we meet Baby Vigneault. We are extremely excited to meet her and cannot wait some days — 93 days feels like a long time but as with everything, we’re sure the time will pass quickly.

Physically I feel great.  I am often surprised that I am not more sore, achy, and uncomfortable. There are definitely times when I roll over at night and grunt. The belly complicates some situations but overall, I am feeling very lucky. I have been keeping busy with prenatal yoga on Monday and Wednesday nights which I cannot recommend enough to pregnant friends. It is a life saver on my back and hips, and it makes me feel like I’m getting out and doing what’s best for me and the baby.  I am finally seeing some weight gain. Due to some major nausea and vomiting at the start of the pregnancy, I lost about 10 pounds in my first trimester and start of the second. Now that I’m at 24 weeks, I’ve returned to my pre-pregnancy weight and gained about 3 pounds.  Our doctor tells us that the baby is about 1 lb. 4 oz. so I am comfortable seeing the scale climb. As long as she’s doing well, I’m fine with my body doing what it needs to do.

For comparison, here I am at 20 weeks:

And here I am at 24 weeks:

We’ve had a lot of changes to make around the house. What was our office will be her nursery. When we set up the office last year, we painted the walls and the base boards but left the closet untouched and knew we wanted to return to paint the ceiling and install shoe molding at a later date. Now is that time! So far, we’ve cleaned out the room of office furniture, painted the ceiling, sanded the door trim for a new coat of paint, painted the new shoe molding, ripped out the closet shelving, painted the closet, and installed a new modular closet system. The closet was a huge job because it’s a very odd shape and part of it is over our stairs so it’s tough to get to. The end result with the modular system installed is that we now have over four times more storage space. What girl won’t love that?

Left to do on the nursery: install the shoe molding, paint the trim around the window and doors, touch up a few places on the walls where we removed shelving, and give the ceiling one more coat of flat white paint. (It’s worth noting that EVERY ceiling and wall in our house was high gloss white when we moved in. So in addition to all the renovations we’ve taken on, there’s always the job of removing all the gloss everywhere else. This is the first room with a flat ceiling and I am very jealous of her. No shiny ceiling spots!) Once the bulk of the messy work is done in the nursery, we can move all of her new stuff in. She has a new crib, mattress, carpet, and artwork waiting to go in. I can’t wait to see it all together. And of course, I can’t wait to see her in her room!

The last half of 2010 and all of 2011 have flown by in a blink. And yet, before we know it Baby V will be here and life will be even more different.  We are both looking forward to the changes awaiting us in 2012 but I distinctly want to remember this time, before kids — just us. What we spent our free time on, how we entertained ourselves, and what our big projects were. I’m going to attempt to capture some of these details in a “life before” series if you will. And since the last year in particular has been all about our house, I’m going to begin with…the tree from hell.

When we bought the house in September 2009, every bush, shrub, and tree was overgrown. In the first weekend alone, we cut down or tore out enough yard waste to fill and haul multiple U-Haul moving van loads to the dump.  Slowly but surely, we started to get things cleaned up and got the house the breathing room it needs to not be a big old moldy bug haven. But there was one tree that was going to be a bigger undertaking. Meet Toby (aka the HR Rep on ‘The Office’, you know, the guy that’s just really annoying and weird):

Notice how closely Toby hugs the house. Not good.  Toby should have been cut down or transplanted sometime around the early 80s when we were born. But alas, 30 years later it was now our problem to solve.  It threatened the house, it threatened our neighbor’s house, and behold the top:

You can see the random limbs broken off the top of the tree in various spots.  This tree lost tons of branches anytime it snowed. The limbs fell on our roof (oy) and narrowly missed our neighbors car multiple times (double oy). It was only a matter of time before the tree cost us a significant amount of money by seriously damaging property.

I got quotes from 4 landscaping companies to cut and haul away the tree. All four quotes came in over $1000. Ouch. We were prepared to spend some money getting rid of Toby the monster but not that much.  That’s almost a new flat screen tv! Priorities, people.  Based on an excellent recommendation from our brother-in-law, we posted the job on Craigslist. We decided to hire someone to cut down the tree and take on the task of getting rid of it ourselves. Little did we know how much work that would be.

After receiving a LOT of emails from Craigslist, we went with a certified Arborist who was insured and bonded. He knew exactly how to prep the tree to fall and where to bring it down so our house and our power lines were safe. He arrived at 8 am on a Saturday morning and by 10 am, Toby was down! The best part – his services set us back $180. So much cheaper than a landscape company!

No more threatening tree, just an enormous tree in our front yard and driveway to cleanup.

So we did what any young couple trying to save a buck does…we got out the small hack saws we had and started chopping up Toby! It’s worth noting that every one of our 70+ year old neighbors visited that day to tell us how we would never get the tree removed from our yard and how we should have hired the landscaping companies instead of trying to do it ourselves.  We persevered with our hack saws anyway.  For another $50 (for a project total of $230), we rented a 17 foot moving truck and packed it to the brim with limbs from that tree. While it sounds like a simple cleanup job now, on that particular Saturday we encountered rain, sleet, and thunder while we were chopping up and hauling out that darn tree.

Today we have a small mound of mulch where the tree stump remains (I will update with a picture soon). Due to the proximity of the stump to the house we can’t dig out the stump without threatening the integrity of the footing on that corner of our house. We’ve planted two shrubs around the stump and anticipate it will completely disintegrate within a few years.

We are both really proud of this project because we got it done (albeit with lots of manual labor) for less than a quarter of the price of hiring it out.  It’s also a huge visual change to the whole house because that tree was the last remnant of overgrown, unattended landscaping from the previous owners. Goodbye, Toby!

Halfway between two and three. Halfway between nothing and a full-fledged human being.  Halfway between concern for my own well-being and the well being of this person. Halfway between my DNA and my husband’s DNA.

It’s hard to believe there’s someone in there. Someone halfway to complete.

There’s been nausea and vomiting, weight loss and heartburn. There’s been anxiety and panic. How will we do? What the heck are we supposed to do? Will we figure it out?

Most of all there is excitement and anticipation. Half him, half me. Halfway there, completely in love.

My grandfather painted this in 1969. It astonishes me that he created this 13 years before I was born and yet it is something I might pick out and buy for my house today.

He was 42 when he created this. I picture him escaping to his basement workshop to relax and paint while his wife and four daughters buzz around the house upstairs.  I wonder if he had a picture of a classic New England farm that he used as a starting point, or if he envisioned this and brought it to life on canvas?

I recently bought the light blue mat and stainless frame and immediately hung it in my bedroom.  It needs to be moved up on the wall to separate it from the shelf and obviously my photography skills need vast improvement, but it takes my breath away.

My 42-year-old grandfather created this for the 28-year-old me. I love it.

We like food that fills you up and sticks to your ribs. Being veggie doesn’t mean we don’t like our meals hearty.  I like to cook if the recipe is forgiving and allows for experimentation each time you make it.  For these reasons, I am our resident chili chef.

A handful of times each winter I make a large pot on Sunday afternoons and let it simmer all day, ready for sunday dinner and lunches throughout the week.   It is hearty, healthy, and cheap – three great combinations.

While I change up a few parts each time, these are my staple ingredients:

in large stockpot, throw in:

2 large (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
1 small (6 oz) can of tomato paste
any fresh tomatoes on hand (this time I added 4 that were about to go bad)
1 bottle of beer (I use dark German beer)

Heat until boiled. Use an immersion blender to blend all tomato products.

When completely blended, throw in the following:

6 medium cans (15 oz) rinsed beans – I used 2 cans light kidney, 2 cans pinto, 1 can great northern, 1 can black-eyed peas.
One full package (12 oz) Morningstar Farms Veggie crumbles (Feed this to your carnivore friends, I guarantee you won’t miss ground beef in this chili!)
1.5 cups dry peanuts

After adding all beans, start seasoning. This time I used salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, cinnamon, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Stir pot throughly after each spice is added.  If it’s too sweet, cut it with hotter spices. If it’s too acidic, cut it with salty spices (and vice versa).  Add a little spice at a time to learn how much flavor you like.

Simmer for 2 or 3 hours with cover on pot, then another half hour with cover off to evaporate all alcohol in beer.

The best part of this creation is all the other ingredients you could use depending on what you have on hand — corn, spinach, peppers, onion, hot sauce, maple syrup, molasses, anything you like!

While the chili is simmering, prepare a base to eat with the chili. Tonight we had elbow pasta. You could have it over rice, corn bread, potatoes, your choice!

We serve one cup of cooked pasta topped with one and a half cups chili.  Top chili with sour cream, cheese, chives (again – whatever you like!), and enjoy!

ps – Please contain your jealousy over my 1950’s kitchen. Maybe someday you can be cool enough to have green counter tops and a yellow back splash. Sigh.