fine dining

Saturday, dec. 5, 2009   |   32 comments

Lest you think all I’ve been doing lately is having babies and then complaining about said babies: We’ve also been decorating! (Wow. Could we be any more staid? I fear our break with the rebel alliance is now complete.)

After much consternation, and a great deal of trial-and-erroring, we’re finally done with the dining section of the house. But we sure did have to wend our way through a parade of tables and accoutrement before we got it right. (Eek! Sorry! The following epic description of this particular decorodyssey is super freakishly detailed…if you have a life to live, maybe just stick to judging the grainy, amateur photography?)


Here we see (back in the corner over there) our original square table from the Alameda flea market. Sadly, it didn’t quite cut it in the new space, what with being too small at its smallest and too big and cornery and hard to navigate when expanded. Also I didn’t love the jumble of dark and light woods going on between the table, credenza, and chairs. I don’t necessarily need everything to matchy-match, but this combo felt a little too “look what we picked up off the street on big trash day!” random.

We decided a cornerless (AKA round) table was in order, so next we Craigslisted this little number from CB2. (Marco is a master Craigslister, obsessively checking the listings multiple times each day.)


Unfortunately, this table turned out to be a little too little. Marco kind of liked it, but I felt it gave things a depressing “icky, flavored-coffee cafe” feel. Plus it didn’t have a leaf, so we would never be able to serve more than four people…not at one time, at least. And its dark wood-grained top actually exacerbated the wood-WOOD-WoOd problem.

So! Feast your eyes on our new, just-right Goldilocks table:


The table is vintage (spotted at Eames Loft by Marco’s friend Janet), and it’s in crazy-beautiful condition, all gleaming and smelling of polish and elbow grease. It comes with a built-in butterfly leaf, which means it’s stored within the table, versus in some tippy, hard-to-get-at corner of the garage. In its leafless state, it’s a good 10” wider than the CB2 table, and just that little added girth really makes it feel proportionate with the space. It was spendy at $440, but the dollars Marco made for selling the other two tables got us almost all the way there.

With the table down, all we had left to do was accessorize, which Marco and I just so happen to love to do to, perhaps to the point of unhealthiness?

Little green bud vase (with bundle of sage): Heath Ceramics. Taller white carved vase (with cheap-o Safeway flowers): Sara Paloma Pottery. The white chairs are from Crate and Barrel, and I think they provide welcome relief from all the wood. They also tie in the white-white Ikea cupboards found in the adjacent kitchen. Comfy, too!

Sadly our beloved credenza was too deep for the space — a table centered under the light fixture just doesn’t leave enough room along the side for much else. So Marco found us a new vintage credenza on Craigslist:


It’s very, very similar to our original piece, only it’s shallower by 7”, which fits the space much, much better. It weirdly was also the same steep $440 as the table, but Marco posted our original credenza on Craigslist and it got picked up as one of Apartment Therapy’s recommended buys for the week, which helped us get a tidy $460 for it. Net: $20!

Wooden iPod player: Vers Audio. Salmon-hued side lamp: Vintage, discovered by Marco in one of the antique shopies on the main drag in San Anselmo.


The white faux bois vase was a $3.99 shopportunity from Marshalls. Marco disdainfully says it “looks like celery,” but sometimes Marco is wrong? Little ceramic bull: Jonathan Adler. Bumpy white vase: Ikea.


Salty, peppery elephants: Daiso, $1!

Next up: Cuting up the Ikea-blank kitchen cabinets!

pump it up

Wednesday, dec. 2, 2009   |   40 comments

Extracting milk from your person while on the job is a complicated business. First you need a portable pump, which costs a surprising number of dollars (thankfully I got mine secondhand from a friend), then you need an ample supply of freezable storage containers, plus an insulated bag for transporting the goods.

At the office you have to reserve the “Mommy Room,” a strange Microsoft Outlookian process that involves inviting the room itself to series of recurring meetings. You may find yourself doing this incorrectly the first go-round, resulting in a “Mommy Room has refused your invitation” email that will leave you feeling oddly spurned.

Once you and the Mommy Room come to an accord and you have your designated timeslot, it’s time to get pumping. The pump itself is incredibly, conspicuously loud. Luckily the Room is conveniently located right off the main hallway, so there’s always a steady parade of people walking past, perfectly positioned to hear you in there, chugging away like a little engine that could. Also there’s a sign posted in the Room instructing mommies not to lock the door. So there you are, separated from your coworkers by just one thin, unlocked door, with your exposed nipples twisting in the wind. Feeling exposed? Like a sheepish milking cow? Yes and yes.

When you’re done, you can put your haul in the provided mini-fridge, however there’s no place to clean the detachable suction-cup apparatus. That you have to rinse off in the employee kitchen up the hall, right where everyone’s preparing their lunches. (My apologies, gentle coworker, for splashing human milk on your pulled-pork sandwich! Oh, this? This is my suction cup. For my naked breasts, which I ask you to please stop visualizing. Hey, is this decaf fresh?)

The logistics are challenging enough, but the truly hard part is the dent the twice-daily pumpings leaves in your schedule. All told, you’re pumping at least an hour a day. This means the length of your workday, a day already truncated to the barest minimum by your need to get home to be with the baby, is even shorter. Also you’re brain damaged with sleep deprivation. And your chest is leaking.

Best of luck to you!

more words on: babytime, motherdom

having a ball

Tuesday, dec. 1, 2009   |   8 comments

more words on: babytime

on the job

Monday, nov. 30, 2009   |   8 comments

So today was my first day back at work since having the baby, and it was kind of anti-climactic. Other than a few quick, sad tears, shed as I walked away from Desi’s nannyshare, it was pretty much business as usual.

I hitched a ride in via Casual Carpool, the ever-changing voyeuristic glimpses of which I’ve actually missed quite a bit — life serves up so many predictable patterns, it’s nice to have something in each day that’s reliably different. I spent an uneventful day at the office, attending meetings, eating lunch out of a box, gathering cooler-side to chat about people’s Thanksgiving weekends, sitting in a darkened room forcefully suctioning milk out of my nipples…the usual. (Newsflash: My breastpump has stopped sounding like a whimpering infant and now seems to be saying “meow, meow” over and over instead? Here, kitty kitty!)

Then I BARTed home, aimed my mouth at some sort of rice-based Trader Joe dinner, took a quick splash of a bath, and played with the baby for an hour. Then we launched into Desi’s latest go-to-sleep ritual, a highly involved routine that features me perching atop a yogaball and leaning up and over into the crib, arms supported by the horrifically named Boppy pillow, and “thumbing” him, i.e., letting him suck my thumb while stroking his forehead with my remaining fingers. (Yes, he still won’t take a pacifier, and yes, we still haven’t hit upon the opportune moment/mustered the emotional fortitude to let him Cry It Out and learn to put his own self to sleep…but soon. Very soon!)

After a half-hour of Desi nodding off, followed by startled jerking, followed by enraged crying, he still wasn’t asleep, but my arm sure was, so Marco took a turn.

Now you’re all caught up! As I type these words — twenty minutes later — Marco is still in there trying to get the baby down, and I’m so insanely tired, I’m actually nodding off at the keyboard.

And that’s how a once-sprightly night owl became one of those boring oldsters who complain about their backs and who somehow fail to notice stray hairs growing out of their chins and who stagger into bed at the unripened hour of 8:30pm. Pow!

back in the saddle again

Sunday, nov. 29, 2009   |   4 comments

Starting at 9am tomorrow, I’ll be back at work after a little over four months bonding with the baby at home. On a perhaps related note, my back appears to have gone out, so as I launder my work clothes and pack up breast pump, there’s a depressingly aged stoop in my step.

With my return to my cube looming large, it occurs to me that this past four months with the baby are probably the longest solid stretch of time that I’ll ever spend with this kid. From here on in, his day-carers and teachers and parole officers will enjoy more together time with him than I ever will.

It makes me sad that I haven’t enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime togetherness more. I spent the first nine-tenths of my maternity leave in a “fumbling to keep baby alive” sweat, feeling like I was faking my way through a job for which I was vastly underqualified. It’s only in these last few weeks that the panic has started to thaw into some kind of glimmer of “maybe I can actually do this“ness. So of course, just as I start to get my sea legs, it’s back to the sea-salt mines.

Part of me wishes that I could take more time off, enough to really start feeling competent, maybe even confident, about this whole motherhood thing. On the other hand, when I watch the nanny we’ve lined up for our nannyshare sit with the baby, I’m striken by how much more attentive a babysitter she is. No watching So You Think You Can Dance over the baby’s shoulder for her! No teetering the baby in front of the computer while she checks email! She’s engaged and upbeat, where I’m stressy and overtired.

So maybe Desi’s better off with me at work? And maybe it’s better for me that I’ll be going back while my maternity leave is hitting a good note, a la Cheers going off the air when the getting was still good?

Or maybe America does it wrong, and I should move to some scandi-land where new parents get six thousand weeks of m/paternity leave, and all the children end up multilingual and well-adjusted and tan. And buses are made of marzipan! And the streets whiff of sun-warmed kitten fur! And new mothers walk perfectly erect!

more words on: babytime