Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jack's Birthday


A few years ago I started working with people under conservatorship. These are usually elderly people who can no longer care for themselves, and so the court appoints a conservator who ensures that their needs are met. Every two years their conservatorship comes under review, and it was my job to read the notes of a court investigator and provide a recommendation for the judge on whether their conservatorship should continue.

I reviewed hundreds of these cases, but a handful of conservatees were especially memorable. In particular I remember a French woman close to ninety years old who was alert and communicative, but she had forgotten almost everything about her life and the world around her. I was totally shocked when the court investigator asked if the conservatee was married (she was), and she responded, “I don’t know. Maybe. I think I might be.” She had forgotten who her husband was, if she had children, what her career had been, where she lived. Everything was gone. She knew her name, but the only details she remembered about her life were her birthday and the name of the small French village where she was born.

Do you ever worry that your birthday isn’t on the “right day”? No, you don’t, because only a crazy person would do that. But I thought about our baby’s birthday almost every day for the past year, even before I was pregnant, because I wanted our baby’s birthday to be on a good day, the right day. I don’t even know what the “right day” means, but I wanted it still. I didn’t care if he came early or late or smack on his due date, but someday ninety years from now, that day may be the only thing he knows about himself. He might not remember who we are, or how much we love him; but he may remember his name, his birthday, and where he was born – and last week, that was something we gave him.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Family Pictures

Every Thanksgiving my grandpa Stokes brings out old pictures of our relatives, and he tells us a few stories. It’s a tradition I look forward to every year. Lately I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving during my first year of law school in the context of this amazing article. Waiting for dinner to start, I picked up one of the photo albums and flipped through pictures of my grandparents camping with their siblings, my uncles in the bathtub, my parents’ wedding. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of belonging in a family narrative, even though I was only in a handful pictures (in which I always seemed to be wearing baggy overalls and acne).

I’ve been thinking about how I can teach our wee babe what it means to be part of our Perry Family. I want him to see that his life is tied to a much bigger heritage, filled with farmers, explorers, and good, kind people. Family pictures, I hope, will be a big part of that education. So, to that end:
  • A few weeks ago I ordered a book through Artifact Uprising. We picked our favorite pictures from the last big vacation that Chris and I took before we become a family of three. The pictures above are from our hike to the top of Mount Slemish. The book itself is nothing special, but I hope it will be a good little book for little hands. 
  • This week I narrowed down pictures from our wedding for a small wedding album, and I'm planning to order a Kolo album when their 11x14 albums get back into stock. We also got an 8x10 of my favorite picture from our wedding to hang up in the house. 
  • Since we’ll have a little more time with our families this Christmas (yay for paternity leave), I’m hoping to spend time going through our family scrapbooks so that I can bring back copies of my favorite pictures of our siblings, our parents, and our grandparents. Hopefully we'll have enough to put together a simple photo album and frame a few for around the house.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Casual Baby Shower

This month my friends Meredith and Julie threw us a baby shower. We decided to bypass the traditional baby shower for, oh, several hundred reasons. First, I’m not great at opening presents in front of other people; it’s awkward and stressful – like wearing swim fins while running away from a family of grizzly bears. I also wanted Chris to be there too, but who wants to be a lone man in the Garden of Estrogen? No one.

So Meredith and Julie were the MOST thoughtful and planned a casual afternoon in the park. It was a “whole family” kind of party, and we spent a few hours surrounded by friends, eating hamburgers and talking about babies. Sometimes I worry about living so far away from my family as a brand new mom, but that day there was one moment where I looked around the park and saw people who already love the Perry household. It was a comforting moment for me to know we wouldn’t be alone when the baby comes in a few weeks.


p.s. Julie took all these pictures. And Google+ auto awesomed this gif for me, and look! You can see how happy I am! I didn't break out into stress hives at all!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stanford Theatre

This weekend we went to see the Sound of Music at the Stanford Theatre. We haven’t had a traditional “date night” in a while, (words that have never been used to describe this pregnancy: predictable, adventuresome, outdoorsy) and this was a great plan for our night because it was 1) air conditioned and sitting down 2) a movie we love and 3) at a fun new place together.

Some of my all-time favorite nights out have been at silent film festivals or watching classic movies on the big screen. Everywhere else I’ve lived you had to be proactive about attending events like these, but we are lucky to live in an area with many theatres that specialize in showing silent films and classic Hollywood movies every day of the week. The Stanford Theatre uses real film for the movies it shows, and they have professional organists who accompany the silent films and perform before the show and during intermission. Plus we got a giant bucket of popcorn for $2.50. I can’t wait to go back.


p.s. Another one of my favorite theatres in the Bay Area for silent films, classic movies, and even current box office hits.
p.p.s  And my favorite McSweeney's essay on this subject.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Game Night During Pregnancy

I think it's easy for people to feel bad for the sick pregnant lady – and sometimes I’ve felt bad for me too – but I also feel bad for Chris. Almost every night for six months, I would cy on the couch next to a bucket, and Chris would clean up the many dirty dishes I left lying around the house that day. I didn’t really leave the house until May. I am not exaggerating. Virtually every single night of 2014 has fallen under the Quiet Night at Home category. And Chris was perfectly healthy, but he joined me in my fetus-imposed house arrest because he is the sweetest. After weeks of the same, sad routine, we started trying to bring a little light to the pregnancy darkness.

We love playing games together. Chris prefers games that require a little strategy, which rules out a lot of classic two-player board games like Candyland: The Best Game Ever. And at this stage in my life, I prefer games that I can play mostly lying down, which rules out games like Guesstures: My Favorite Game to Play with Chris.

So here’s what we’ve been playing:
Air Hockey on the iPad
Bananagrams / Speed Scrabble
Carcassonne on the iPad
Settlers of Catan
Trivial Pursuit
Would You Rather

Anyway, I want to add Boggle and Catchphrase to our collection, but I’m looking for suggestions for other two-player games that we’ll be able to play after the wee babe arrives and we officially become Quiet Night at Home people.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"You look beautiful"

I have not been great at taking weekly progress pictures, but this is a 32 week picture from my instagram 

My whole life I thought pregnant ladies looked freaky. Almost without exception, I believed every one of them was a puffy, star-bellied-sneech-shaped alien. Obviously they were not the problem – they were goddesses, glowing with miraculous, life-giving glory – but my own fears surrounding pregnancy and labor fueled this belief for roughly 25 years. Then my friend Lexy got pregnant and wrote about teaching her students to say, “You look beautiful,” to those obviously carrying a child. That’s it. Not, “Awww, you look so tired!” or “Wow, you look so big!” or anything except “You look so beautiful.” 

Reading her post was like receiving a Get Out of Jail Free card because, to me, talking to pregnant ladies actually felt like a super awkward jail. My previous conversation strategy was simple: completely avoid talking to all pregnant ladies, at all cost, no matter what. I was sure that any other solution would require an intricate flow chart based on some complicated equation from a calculus/birthing class that I never wanted to take. But now I knew the trick, and it was even simpler than my existing strategy. So for over a year, every time one of my friends got pregnant, whenever I saw her, I told her she was beautiful.

Then, somewhere along the way, I started believing it. I stopped being terrified of pregnant ladies, and I started genuinely seeing beauty in pregnancy. I think the most astounding part of this paradigm shift is how it happened A) so naturally and B) completely by accident. Anyway, I am most grateful that it happened before I got pregnant myself; otherwise this post would be written about my progress in intensive therapy.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

4th of July Playlist

picture from John Thatcher 

We invited some friends over to play games for the 4th of July (one of my favorite 4th of July traditions) and I joked that I was going to make a special mix tape. Then I really did make one. I always overlook the playlist, but I’m so impressed when other people put effort into this detail for their dinner parties or whatever else.

This is a mix that’s mostly folksy, mostly late 1960s/early1970s – and, to me, most of these songs are perfect for the great American road trip or singing around the campfire in a national park.