Thursday, December 13, 2007

Two months old!

I didn't get a lot of pictures on her actual two-month birthday because I was a little busy forcing her to get poked in the thigh. Actually, her vaccinations went really well--she cried while she was getting them and settled down quickly afterwards, and aside from being a little more sleepy than usual the rest of the week (which I don't mind) she doesn't seem to be affected by them.

The many faces of Auletta:

Of course, most of the time I was trying to photograph her, she looked like this:

My stepsister Robyn made the beautiful quilt Auletta's on. I love purple baby things.

This might not be appropriate information to reveal here, but since I know most of my regular readers are women anyway (Ben and Eric, avert your eyes)--guess what event that occurred approximately (and I mean very approximately, for me) once a month until last Christmas started happening again? Even though I'm breastfeeding? So, yeah, we're going to have to deal with that if we don't want Auletta to have a Sibling With Flat Hat in 2008.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Auletta's new skill

She can put her fist in her mouth. This gives her something to suck on, so I don't always have to pop the paci back in her mouth when it falls out.

She also smiles a lot now, not just at me but at everyone, and is starting to say things that sound like "goo" and "ga." She still cannot lift her head when she's on her tummy (she hates being on her tummy), which is a very basic thing babies are supposed to be able to do by the end of their second month, according to the baby books. Oh well.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Auletta's first Thanksgiving

We visited Justin's family in Ithaca for Thanksgiving, which is always an event. I first met his family at Thanksgiving five years ago, and Justin likes to repeat the story of how he went to take one of his brothers somewhere right after we arrived, and when he got back he found me curled up in the bedroom, all fetus-like, in terror. I've gotten used to the chaos since then. Auletta will grow up accustomed to chaos. She spent the entire weekend being passed around among her aunt, uncles, and grandparents like whatever the opposite of a hot potato is.

Harry's an uncle at the age of eight:

This is my new favorite picture of me and Auletta. Of course that is not hard when in all the pictures of us together I'm either 1. exhausted or 2. exhausted from labor and surgery. This is about five minutes before Justin spilled wine on her hat and blamed it on the baby.

Bonus: Our friend Erik drew this map from scratch, like, without looking at another map, because he is awesome.

Friday, November 16, 2007


After a trip up the food chain all the way up to Flippery Fish, I'm back to Multicellular Microorganism status. I'm not sure why I evolved and then devolved, but that was kind of fun.

Poop update: We got what we were waiting for yesterday evening. Auletta fussed but stayed fairly sanguine through the poop (which we didn't even notice at first, somehow), a rapid stripdown and wiping while being held upside down, and an emergency bath. "What does it take to get this kid to cry?" Justin asked. She eventually broke down, but we all survived and now we can look forward to another 1-6 days of pooplessness.

Whenever I've taken Auletta out for a walk, I keep thinking I should bring my camera to catch the light on the leaves. Then when I remember my camera there's not much sunlight. And now there are not many leaves. But still a few:

Auletta sports one of her many hats, this one lovingly knit by Anne and perfect for windy fall days:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I want this!

Oh my gosh, there is Very Hungry Caterpillar bedding.

So yes, I skipped decorating the nursery and went straight to planning her big-kid bedroom. I hope I can still get this in two years.

Getting out of the house

I had someone home with me for almost the entire first month of Auletta's life, so when I ventured out of the house I either had someone at home to watch her or help transporting the massive volume of stuff that accompanies a baby whenever it goes anywhere. My sister and I took her shopping when she was a week old, and we went shopping again two weeks after that with Justin's mother and aunt.

Now that I'm home alone with Auletta, I'm figuring out how to get her out of the house on my own. My goal is to go on two walks every day, weather permitting; we usually drive out to a little sort of park with a 9/10-mile loop trail in the morning (I'll sometimes do the Starbucks drive-thru beforehand), and then go for a walk in the neighborhood in the afternoon. On Tuesday I took Auletta as far as a mall about 20 miles away (we don't have a major mall really nearby), and today I went to a new moms group that meets at Panera the next town over. Fortunately Auletta's really good about riding in the carseat--she'll cry for a minute or two and then fall asleep by the time I pull out of the driveway. It pops right into the stroller so I never have to wake her up. It's actually a really nice way to get her to nap. We've been gone as long as three hours without her having to eat or get a diaper change.

(Gross baby TMI warning: around two weeks she started pooping at most once a day. This is apparently normal and fine in breastfed babies, although it happened pretty early with her. It's convenient as far as ordinary diaper changes go, but of course when the deluge finally arrives it's an event. Her last poop was Friday, so I am on notice and rather nervous about going anywhere at all, but if I scheduled my life around her poop I'd never get out.)

Since we just moved and I don't really know anyone here, I feel like this leaving-the-house thing is really crucial for my sanity, so I'm glad I've gotten into the habit early. I am hoping to start doing some kind of postnatal exercise/yoga/baby activity/etc. thing after the holidays, in order to meet people and of course embark on the great American tradition of reliving one's childhood vicariously through one's own offspring.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Auletta is just starting to do real smiles (not like weird grimacy poopy/gassy smiles, although those are cute too). A couple of mornings ago she smiled at me when she first woke up and I got her out of the co-sleeper, which was the best thing ever. This is one of the first smiles I got on camera.

One month old!

Okay, her one-month birthday was three days ago, so I'm behind on posting, but I did take this (and many other pictures--see the SmugMug link on the sidebar!) the day of.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Auletta represents

As you can imagine with our academic family, Auletta already has a lot of collegiate apparel. No pressure or anything. (One of my earliest memories was when my dad told me, "Your mother and I will be very disappointed if you don't go to the University of Washington." I'm not sure he was kidding. This poor kid's going to need to get more degrees than her parents have combined to make everyone happy.)

Obligatory fashion credit goes to her Great-Auntie Ann for the Tar Heels gear and her Schwab grandparents for the stylish Parisian bodysuit.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

When Auletta complains that her name is too weird...

We can tell her some of the names we (ahem, we minus me) proposed:

  • Aspirin

  • Cotton (with our last name!)

  • And, while we're on the Mathers, Increase

I will distract you from the fact that the foregoing was not really a substantive blog post, especially after nearly a week's delinquency, by posting a cute picture:

I love how her sleeper says "baby," just in case you didn't know what its contents were.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Auletta's first Halloween! Her Aunt Katie gave her the sleeper.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The great-grandclerk

We took Auletta on her first road trip this weekend. On Friday afternoon we drove to an inn in the Catskills, about three hours away from New Haven, where we had dinner with a group of people associated with Cornell Law School and Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice O'Connor was there to go fly fishing the next morning before heading to Ithaca for a visit to the law school next week.

Justin's dad clerked for O'Connor in the early '80s. So Justin is one of the original grandclerks. She now has two great-grandclerks, Auletta, and a boy who's about four months old. Both of them were there. Justice O'Connor assured us that Auletta is beautiful.

Auletta handled the trip really well, which I hope bodes well for our holiday travels.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

One week

Auletta turned one week old yesterday. At her first pediatric appointment she weighed 8 lb. 4 oz., six ounces more than when she was born. So this breastfeeding thing is obviously going well. So well, in fact, that I spent yesterday afternoon doing not much else, and decided it was okay to give her a pacifier. I wasn't in a hurry to do it, but I have read it won't lead to nipple confusion once breastfeeding is established, and I don't know how it could be more established. Besides, the hospital apparently gave her a pacifier when she was in the nursery at night. Which I would not necessarily have approved, but at least they use Soothies, which is what I was going to get anyway.

(Thanks to Helene and Michael for the sleeper and my sister for the conveniently coordinating hat. Baby hats are, in fact, flat when you first get them.)

Update: I added a couple of pictures to the story of Auletta's birth and hospital stay, in case you don't want to read the whole thing but want to see pictures.

Monday, October 15, 2007

About her name

Auletta is my mom's last name. Justin has three siblings whose last names are family surnames, so we decided to continue that tradition. Ruth is Justin's Gomma, who is still hanging in there. She got to see pictures of her great-granddaughter this weekend, thanks to the miracle of email and digital cameras.

The birth certificate lady had to check on us three days in a row before we totally made up our minds. We've been calling her Auletta since we found out she was a she, but as her due date approached we started wondering if we really wanted to be spelling her name for everyone (and making her have to spell it) in aeternam. We thought of switching her first and middle names. But we realized several things: 1. We were already calling her Auletta. 2. Word had spread to my mom's family that her name was Auletta. 3. It makes a lot more sense, if we're already calling her this unusual name, to give her a normal middle name she can use if she hates her weird first name than to give her a normal first name and call her by her weird middle name.

And anyway, Ruth might become popular again, but there is no chance our daughter will have three classmates with the same name. Someday I'm going to write a post ranting about some of the names that are trendy these days.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Auletta: The early days

This is the whole birth story, plus first days at the hospital. It is very long.

I went to the hospital Tuesday morning to get the gel to ripen my cervix. The doctor told me that it was possible but unlikely this by itself would be enough to initiate contractions; otherwise I'd go in the next day, probably early, for the induction. While I was hooked up to the fetal monitor I had mild contractions, but nothing that looked like actual labor. I was dilated a centimeter, if that, and less effaced than I had been told I was on Friday (effacement is so subjective that I'm not really sure why they bother, but whatever).

On the way home I picked up Justin, who was tired and figured we might as well spend this last baby-less afternoon together. I started having contractions I could actually identify as contractions as the afternoon went on. By the evening they were regular and getting stronger. I started timing them more carefully around 9:00 and called the doctor twice; the second time he said we could head for the hospital. At that point they were at most three minutes apart and still not very painful, but I didn't want to wait that much longer because they were so close together.

We got to the hospital around 11:30 and went up to triage, where they have rooms for women in early labor. By that time the contractions were definitely painful, but manageable. A resident did an internal, the most freaking painful internal I'd ever had (no doubt because it was during a contraction, ouch). I was dilated two centimeters. The doctor who was doing deliveries that night came and told me to walk around the floor for two hours and then they'd check my progress and admit me to L&D if I had made enough progress. I wasn't sure I would make it two hours with the pain I was already having, but being on my feet instead of lying on my side attached to the fetal monitor was more comfortable, at least in the beginning. But after 45 minutes I asked Justin to see if I could get any sort of pain medication at all or have another internal. The nurses said I could have an internal, but if I hadn't dilated enough I might just be disappointed and still in pain. Fortunately, I had dilated to 3 or 4 centimeters and could be admitted to L&D, and the doctor asked if I was interested in an epidural. By that time any idea I had of even attempting natural childbirth had gone out the window, so the epidural was arranged.

We walked over to L&D. After this everything went haywire and I don't really remember exactly what happened. In some order, the following took place: I was attached to an IV. I was asked the same questions several times about whether I was allergic to any medications, etc. so I could get the epidural. The doctor broke my water. The number of people in the room increased exponentially. The fetal monitor made threatening beeping noises at wildly varying rates, which was the baby's heartbeat, and the doctor said, at what seemed like really soon after I had gotten into L&D, that they might have to do a c-section. I got an oxygen mask, which paradoxically made me feel less able to breathe, but nobody let me take it off.

I was in awful pain the whole time. Now I don't know if I am just a huge wimp or I didn't practice my breathing exercises or if this was an unusually horrible labor, but it was extremely unfun. The contractions were really intense, which I'm sure is normal, and there was often no time for me to relax between each one. Basically, I think it was like being in the transitional stage of labor (when you dilate from 7 to 10 cm, and which is supposed to be hideous but short) when I was just barely in active labor. As far as I know I never made it past 4 cm.

After some period of fetal distress and various medical personnel acting, in a controlled way, very worried, they decided to do the c-section. I remember the doctor telling me if I had another baby I could either have a VBAC or an elective cesarean, which it seemed weird for him to tell me at that point since either way I had to get this present baby out as quickly as possible, but the whole thing was weird so I didn't really notice it at the time. I signed the consent form at a rare moment between contractions and was wheeled rapidly to the operating room.

Justin, who had been incredibly wonderful and supportive the whole time, was left in L&D to await further instructions. At that point they didn't know if they could stabilize the baby enough to do a spinal block, in which case Justin could be in the OR with me, or if they had to knock me out as quickly as possible with general anesthesia, which would mean he couldn't be with me. I had heard them discussing the possibility of general anesthesia, which kind of scared me (as scary as this all was) because as I understand it, even with emergency cesareans general anesthesia is pretty rare.

Fortunately they were able to get the baby stabilized enough to do the spinal block. It probably helped that I was less frantic by this point, since I knew the baby would be coming out imminently. It took several more contractions for me to be asked the same questions about my nonexistent allergies to medications and to get the spinal block itself, which once it kicked in was the most beautiful physical sensation I have ever experienced in my life. The doctors and nurses set up a curtain between my chest and my abdomen, Justin came in wearing scrubs, and we had a nice conversation with the anesthesiologist about how Justin and I met and where we were from while the medical team delivered our daughter, who came into the world at 1:56 AM on Wednesday. We didn't even know she was out at first because they took her next door to get cleaned up and get her APGARs and all that, but they told us they had delivered her and after a couple of minutes we could hear her cry. And then they brought her out so Justin could hold her, and she stared at us and she was perfect and everything was good and worthwhile.

After they sewed me up (this took a while; Justin heard the doctor say something like "Who has her bladder?" which was a little disconcerting, but I did get it back), they took us to a recovery room. This was probably the weirdest part of the evening. I was extremely cold and shivering uncontrollably. My temperature got down to 94.2. I didn't know it was possible to be that cold and be, like, not dead, but apparently it is. So they put a warmed blanket over me, which was nice but kind of lame under the circumstances, and then put this weird sort of inflatable blanket hooked up to an air hose with hot air coming into it, which was less lame but still didn't heat me up as quickly as I would have liked, which was immediately, or at least soon. We were in the recovery room for probably an hour and a half; the baby had to be warmed up too, although Justin got to hold her a lot. The spinal block, which was a darned good spinal block, took several hours to wear off, so I was still flat on my back at this point. There was a nurse in and out of the room, but otherwise we were alone, which seemed kind of bizarre. Eventually they got the baby to a safe temperature and me up to 96-ish, which for being two degrees below normal body temperature was pretty great under the circumstances, so they brought us up to our room on the maternity floor. I got to hold the baby, kind of, in the crook of my arm. We got there around 4:00 AM. The baby had to go to the nursery to be weighed and measured. We sort of slept for a couple of hours.

* * *

So you remember how the baby's head never fully engaged? This probably had something to do with how she ended up coming out. My doctor thought at first her head was smooshing her umbilical cord, which would definitely have explained her distress, which turned out not to be the case. But her chin was tipped down toward her chest, instead of upward, which is how babies are supposed to be facing when they're born, and it was bent at kind of a weird angle. We also overheard the doctor saying something about my narrow pelvis during the surgery. Not that you could ever tell from the outside, but it seems perhaps I am not built to deliver babies, at least this big-headed one. I'm not sure it was a case of true cephalo-pelvic disproportion (which I believe is rare, for obvious evolutionary reasons), but I'm sure that didn't make things any easier. I'm hoping to get a better idea of what happened at my first postpartum appointment. I think the doctor kind of explained it afterwards, but I was not in much of a condition to remember if he did.

* * *

We had four days in the hospital to recover. We probably could have been discharged on Saturday, but we took advantage of the extra day's worth of food (which was room service and generally pretty good), baby help, and rest, sort of. The first day I only got out of bed twice, with the help of nurses, and was still hooked up to an IV and catheter. We got started breastfeeding. I had been worried that since I wasn't able to hold Auletta or even try nursing her for the first twelve hours or so of her life that it might make things more complicated, but we managed fine, it just took a little longer to get started. The baby was sleepy and mucusy her first day, so she wasn't really hungry, but I pumped a little bit to keep up my supply and kept encouraging her to feed. And whatever I might think about Yale-New Haven as far as the scheduling of my induction, they have wonderful breastfeeding support, so I got lots of help from all the nurses and lactation consultants. I especially adored one of our night nurses, Caren, who was a sweetheart and helped out with our first successful couple of feedings the first full night we were there. Once we got rolling things just went incredibly smoothly. I had very few expectations about my childbirth experience, which is good because none of them would have been met anyway, but I really wanted to breastfeed and had myself mentally prepared to stick it out through days or weeks of pain and frustration if it turned out to be difficult, but it wasn't. So I'm really happy about that.

Justin's mom spent all day at the hospital on Friday. (She'd tried to get there on Thursday, but it didn't work out. Another U.S. Air-is-evil story.) This is when I discovered for myself one of the advantages of breastfeeding, which is that every couple of hours people have to give you your baby back. His mom and dad both came on Saturday and spent the day fighting over the baby, which was very cute. She's their first grandchild, and the first girl in their branch of the Schwab clan since Justin's sister was born twenty years ago, so they're really happy to have her.

I think I'm recovering pretty quickly from the surgery. Actually I felt better in the hospital, but they kept loading me with Percoset and I didn't have to do as much there as I am doing at home (although my sister's visiting so I have lots of help). After the first day I was moving around slowly but without much pain.

We came home Sunday morning, which is when my sister's flight got in, so I'll have help until Friday, and then Justin has the next week off. We are probably doing Auletta's first road trip--a short one, for us--this weekend; more about that later.

Baby With Flat Hat is here!

Auletta Ruth Schwab was born on October 10, 2007 at 1:56 AM. She weighed 7 lb. 13.5 oz. and measured 19 3/4 inches. Her big brainy head was 14 inches. She is perfect and we adore her. I'll post more details later this week.

Monday, October 08, 2007

How induction is a lot like spontaneous labor

They don't tell you when you're supposed to be induced until right before it happens, apparently. The hospital is still having trouble fitting me in for my cervical gelling tomorrow, so they're supposed to call in the morning and let me know if 1. someone has canceled (i.e. delivered) or 2. the on-call doctor can take me. I'm set for the induction itself on Wednesday, but I won't find out until tomorrow evening when I'm supposed to go in for that. So it's all a big fun surprise!

Meanwhile, I'm entertaining myself by going to the baby chat boards on This isn't really making me feel better, though, because I've read so many posts from women who are 37/38 weeks pregnant and disappointed that they're not dilated yet, and it's not charitable but I want to kick them.

The good news is, I think the baby's been putting more pressure on my bladder, which is manifesting itself in frequent but not always timely trips to the bathroom, so maybe she's dropped a bit.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Baby With Flat Hat update, part the gazillionth

Today I spent several hours at the university health center (and environs, since I needed to eat at some point) attending three inconveniently spaced appointments. Scheduling anything related to this baby seems to be like herding cats; more on that soon. Anyway, first of all I had the nonstress test, in which I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and asked to press a button every time she moved to see if her heartrate went up when she moved, which it's supposed to do. It facilitates this procedure if the baby moves. My daughter is not a morning person. The nurse gave me some grape juice, though, at which point she perked up and said "I love JUICE!" and had all kinds of heartrate-boosting movement, some of which I even felt. So that is good.

I ate lunch, then went back for a short ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid level, which is fine. And she's still a girl, or if she's not they decided not to disabuse me of that notion before I find out in person.

Then I went upstairs very early for my 41 week appointment, was surprised to be admitted to the exam room early, and then less surprised when I ended up sitting there for half an hour in a stuffy room on the edge of the exam table with a glorified paper towel over the lower half of my body and my back hurting like crazy from the exam table's failure to be a comfy chair like the ones in the waiting room I'd rather have been sitting in. Maybe I should bring this up in the telephone surveys I keep getting from Yale Health Services about appointments I can't remember because they were short and three weeks ago and I've had other appointments since then.

So, finally a doctor emerged and gave me an internal. I am 80% effaced. Progress! But still no dilation, and the baby's head is still not fully engaged. Well, I wouldn't want to stick my head in someone else's pelvis, either. At this point, if they want to induce me by 42 weeks (remember, ignore the ticker if you're a doctor and all women have 28-day cycles; I was due almost a week ago), they have to schedule me soon. I have mixed feelings about inductions, like 1. I was born four weeks late and I turned out fine, so what's the rush? and besides, I've heard the contractions are worse on pitocin, and they often end in c-sections especially if the baby's not really ready, which she's not, and sometimes they just fail, in like a big icanhascheezburger conehead-cat that can't eat its food FAIL. type of way, and they can take forever (my sister's induction = 36 hours of labor, etc.), and, etc., but 2. gee, it would be nice to have a baby, for a couple of personal reasons besides the obvious impatience with being pregnant and wanting one, some of them not so significant in the big scheme of things (my sister's here from the 14th to the 19th and it'd be nice if I were home with the baby by then), some really important to us (like Justin's Gomma meeting her first great-grandchild before she passes away, which is looking inevitable and soon).

So. At first they were trying to schedule me for another AFI/NST on Monday and an induction toward the middle/end of the week. But apparently the hospital is having trouble scheduling me for anytime except maybe Tuesday/Wednesday. How hospitals have trouble scheduling inductions when presumably they have to accommodate anyone who, like, goes into labor on her own is beyond me, but apparently it truly is that complicated. So now the plan is for me not to have anything on Monday, to go in Tuesday at some yet-to-be-determined time to get gel to thin my cervix, sleep at home that night, and then come back in on Wednesday to get the show on the road. We hope. (Justin has a light class schedule on Wednesday, which is a small perk to this plan.)

If that confused you, imagine how I explained it to Justin, who has a project due on Tuesday and wants to know when the baby is coming. Despite all this attempted scheduling (FAIL.), she is a baby, so I don't know. Maybe before Tuesday. But definitely (probably) within a week.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My ticker amuses me

The Baby With Flat Hat Status Report says

I'm getting lots of sleep, waiting to get out.

Judging by the all-night party in my uterus, she has no trouble passing the time. This might have had to do with my brilliant idea of baking brownies last night, now that I have found my measuring cups. Chocolate, I now remember, has caffeine, which keeps me awake, and apparently like everything else it gives me gas six ways to Sunday so that I had to sit up and burp all night to keep from floating away on a giant internal bubble. Also I seem to have taken up snoring at those times I do sleep. Lovely.

I'm scheduled for a nonstress test on Friday if I don't have the baby before then. My weekly appointments have been so routine, and my progress so negligible, that at my 39 week appointment eight days ago my OB decided to cancel my 40 week appointment and just schedule me for the NST if I didn't have the baby before that. Thereafter I had this odd notion that because I had the appointment for the NST, it would somehow prevent me from going into labor, which who knows, maybe it has. I'm so convinced she's not coming on her own anytime soon that I would be in shock if she did, although that's technically what's supposed to happen.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rumors of her birth are greatly exaggerated

Justin got a phone call last night congratulating him on being a father. This was a rather weird and awkward call because 1. it was 2:00 A.M., 2. the guy who called is a second-degree friend, so Justin didn't recognize him right away, and 3. I haven't actually had the baby yet. The best explanation I can think of is that Justin mentioned September 29 as the due date somewhere along the line and it was assumed, either by the second- or first-degree friend, that she was born yesterday, because babies always come on their due dates. Of course anyone who's given birth knows that babies rarely come on their due dates--in fact, I had thought anyone who has been born would know this, especially anyone who has been born late and has a Jewish mother. But maybe not.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I am a Cool History/Lit Geek!

I am only a nerd in one way, but boy am I nerdy as far as that goes. says I'm a Cool History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

(In the interest of full disclosure, I'm counting immediate access to things as if they were not still packed in boxes. We own atlases of both the Greek and Roman ancient world! Actually, I just realized that since they're Justin's, all this means is I'm married to a nerd. But I'm married, which makes me less of an awkward nerd. I was surprised how un-awkward-nerdish I am.)

Thanks to the divine Madame Meow.

Oh, and I'm still pregnant.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The end is near. Maybe.

I am officially due this Saturday, September 29. I am unofficially due on October 3, this date based on my actually being present at the creation, which the doctors and the charts by which they calculate estimated due dates were not, so I think I am right. Either way, Baby With Flat Hat is going to come whenever she pleases, which I am guessing to be later rather than sooner, because she certainly never seems to tire of using my ribs as a footrest. Also as of last Tuesday I am not dilated or any of those other things you never wanted to know about my cervix. Also I think I can pretty honestly say I haven't had a contraction, Braxton-Hicks or otherwise, except maybe for a couple of times when I've tried to move heavy-ish stuff around the carriage house (don't tell Justin; or actually he knows, and I haven't lately).

I can see now why the last month of pregnancy invariably sucks. I can't really complain because I've had a good run so far. Complain about: the feet, which I think are throwing my back out so it's hard to sit upright for any length of time (makes going out to eat unpleasant); the pelvic pressure (to put it politely) which makes it excruciating to roll over in bed, which I have to do about twenty zillion times a night because of the aforementioned backache; and, um, actually the rest isn't that bad. I had awful heartburn for a while but then I discovered Tums around the same time that I think she moved her head down into my pelvis, which seems not to have made her want to move her feet but at least has taken pressure off my stomach.

I am guaranteed a baby by October 13 because I have been told I will not be allowed to go more than two weeks past my due date (the official one). Not that I want to be induced, but at that point I'll probably be ready for anything.

And if the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, this might be necessary. See, for example, her parents' track record:

Due August 18 (I think). Born September 5.
Due May 8. Born June 6. (Seriously.)

Today I wrestled with various rather important baby items I ought to have dealt with before, but I am so convinced this girl will be late that I've been lazy about a lot of things. The co-sleeper is now attached to the bed, and the carseat base to the car, although I am not sure how Justin and the baby can comfortably occupy the passenger side of the Corolla at the same time so I might have to start letting him drive more.

My dad is swinging through town tonight for dinner. I hope I can sit still that long. I had sort of hoped that I would have the baby this past weekend so he could meet his granddaughter, but then I would probably not be up for dinner.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Yes, I'm in Connecticut now, and I'm still pregnant. More about that sooner or later.

Yesterday I was happy for two reasons:

1. My cousin Sarah is engaged. I've only met her fiance once, in March when Justin and I were in Seattle and we were all at my grandmother's 85th birthday party. But the two of them seemed almost giddily happy together, and I'm glad they are planning to be happy together for the rest of their lives. And I love weddings, especially weddings I can attend because I won't be eight months pregnant.

2. My dad is passing through town on business in a week and a half, so I get to see him and have dinner. Assuming I am not in labor or anything.

Today I am still happy, but sad too. Scott Becker (the author of Aufhebung on my blogroll) passed away this morning. He was the assistant pastor at Bethany Community Church, my church in Seattle when I lived there. He left to get a PhD in Christian ethics and was working on his dissertation when he was diagnosed with liver cancer last fall. I haven't really kept in touch with him since I moved away from Seattle, but he was an awesome person and a gifted writer, and as much as I regret his passing, there are so many people who will miss him even more. Richard Dahlstrom, the senior pastor at Bethany, wrote a more fitting tribute to him here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife...

In between our subletted apartment in Ithaca and the carriage house in New Haven, we're staying with Justin's family. There's wireless here, which is why I'm blogging again.

At dinner tonight, Justin's mom was trying to convince Weatherly that she needs to schedule her own doctor's appointments because she's legally an adult now. Justin pointed out that she might be of legal age, but they still claim her as a dependent, and added, "When I became an adult was when I had my wife do my taxes."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I had guards like watchdogs, etc.

This is going to be a blog entry about basically nothing.

I didn't go to my 10-year high school reunion, back in 2003, for several reasons:

1. I didn't really have any good friends in my graduating class to begin with. All the people I keep in touch with, or really liked in the first place, were a year or two ahead of or behind me. I found out before the reunion that one guy I genuinely did like had died of leukemia, so one less reason to go, bummer.

2. It was in October. In Seattle. I was living in Virginia and was in grad school. So thanks for that really helpful scheduling.

3. Actually, I did have a reading break that weekend and part of the next week, but I wanted to use that time to visit the guy I was going to marry.

4. It was like $75 plus a cash bar. Dude. And not drinking around these people was pretty much not an option.

But I was curious about what these reunion thingies were like. We were in town for Justin's this summer, he actually had friends in his graduating class*, and it was a lot less expensive. So I encouraged him to go. This is how we dressed (another belly picture, this time at like 32 weeks, if you can see the belly under Justin's hand under my hand gripping his, as in "Act like you like the baby, dang it!"):

We lasted less than an hour.

*He has lots of friends from his graduating class. Unfortunately, none of them came, except Jason, with whom we went and spent a very awkward half hour or so drinking gin and tonics (well, I watched them drink gin and tonics) and looking around the room at the small percentage of Justin's class that showed up, who were apparently (not like I'd know) the last people he would have picked to see again. So after hors d'ouevres (I have no idea to spell that, and frankly if France can't come up with a reasonable language, I don't really care if I'm butchering it), which for some reason involved meatballs but no forks, we bailed and went out to dinner on our own. I kind of wanted to stick it out for the prime rib (I have been instructed to eat more red meat due to mild pregnancy-related anemia), but neither Justin nor Jason wanted to stay, and it wasn't my extremely awkward high school reunion, so we left and had dinner downtown instead.

See you all on Facebook, I guess. It's too weird in person. You know?

Friday, July 13, 2007


This was taken June 17, when I was about 25 weeks along. This will give you a good idea of what I look like if you haven't seen me in a while. I don't think I've gotten substantially bigger since then. What's weird, actually, is how no strangers have commented on my pregnant belly (maybe I'm still in the "is she pregnant or just fat?" stage, although I sure look pregnant to myself), and certainly no one has made the dreaded "Wow, you must be about to pop any day now!" remark.

The Latin lover

Who ever thought the Roman Catholic Church would catch so much flak for allowing something?

Monday, July 09, 2007

I'm still here

Of course the next question is, where is "here"?

We moved ourselves, the cats, and way too much stuff that didn't quite make it to New Haven up to Ithaca on May 18, in a caravan consisting of a Jeep packed with book boxes, two cranky cats, and me, and a brand-new Corolla (my mom car! twice the gas mileage of the Jeep! yay!) packed with Justin and more stuff. We're subletting an apartment in downtown Ithaca, the only part of town that isn't hilly. Our intent was, in part, to get me out of the sweltering South during the increasingly gravid part of my pregnancy. Of course now it's like 95 degrees here...

In early June I went to Seattle to see my grandmother, whose health declined rather precipitously but then improved right before I went. She'd been on anti-seizure meds and not really eating, but by the time I'd gotten there she was off the meds and eating ice cream if nothing else. My dad, aunt, uncle, and sister are on rotation to visit during meals and cheer her on while her caregiver feeds here pureed Brussels sprouts and other things I wouldn't eat either. Anyway, I was glad to see her again at least one more time, and I spent my 32nd birthday with my family. Justin planned to come but then got violently ill in the twelve hours before we were supposed to board our flight. Which was delayed. Like, overnight, assuming we wanted to spend the night in Syracuse rather than NYC. And there was a mishap on the way back involving toilets that stopped working (just what a pregnant woman wants!) and a diversion to scenic Buffalo, but I got back okay.

For the first week of July, in what seems to be now an annual observance of our anniversary (#3 this year; thanks for the card, Deanna!) and Independence Day, we went to Justin's grandparents' lake house. Justin's family threw a baby shower for us, which was fun, and we got about a zillion clothes since everyone is so excited to be able to buy for a girl for once. I've been to women's showers and co-ed showers; this is the first intergenerational shower I've ever attended, which was a little chaotic, but one gets used to that and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now we're back in town. We can only access the Internet from Justin's parents' house, which is why I haven't been blogging regularly.

The baby has been moving like crazy considering how unathletic her parents are, and everything with the pregnancy is proceeding well. I am starting to feel the discomforts of getting larger, but so far they're tolerable, and definitely worth it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Guess what our baby has two of?

No, not those, silly. X chromosomes. We're having a girl. Who knew it could happen?

I think we woke her up too early.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Memo to college students

If you're going to plagiarize half your term paper from Wikipedia, the other half should be well-written enough that it isn't obvious the only way you could compose a complete, grammatically correct sentence is to copy it from someone else. We professors and teaching assistants may be too lazy to google every suspiciously elegant phrase, but we're not that stupid.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

This is what we're doing. I think.

It has been quiet here on Girl With Flat Hat, but not in real life.

Here is what has happened in the past two weeks. Justin did in fact receive official news of his acceptance to That University in Like Connecticut Or Something, the one that is not featured in Legally Blonde because hyperambitious future corporate lawyers go to That Other School while nerdy future federal court clerks and law profs go to this particular school that Justin got into, and had hoped but not quite believed he could get into. So he went there to assure them that if they made the offer, he would accept, and to check out the place where we'll probably be living, a carriage house on the property of a professor who used to work with his dad. We are welcome there but the cats are not, so I am working on alternative arrangements for probably the first year we're there. If you or anyone you know would like to borrow two cats...

But we can't move in till mid-August. Meanwhile we need to clear out the condo as soon as possible so we can sell it. (Turns out Justin was right and we shouldn't have bought it in the first place, but it was a character-building experience, or something like that.) So, for reasons that do make sense but are hard to explain, we are subletting an apartment in Ithaca for the summer (cats allowed). It's downtown, so I can walk around at seven months pregnant and not have to tackle the hills. The only difficulty with this--well, of course there are difficulties no matter what we do--is switching doctors (and possibly insurance) twice over the course of the summer. But I just managed to squeeze in my 20-week ultrasound here in Charlottesville the day our sublease in Ithaca begins, with dire warnings that if I need a follow-up ultrasound (which I assume would only be necessary if the baby is coy and won't show its naughty bits) I'm on my own.

Two weeks ago, we both thought we were staying here. The Law School Down the Street did eventually offer Justin some funding, which, taking into account the cost of living in Manhattan and the upcoming Baby With Flat Hat, made the idea of staying here very appealing, but this is an opportunity Justin can't turn down. Nevertheless, it is kind of scary. I still have a lot of work to do before the end of the semester, and very little time to do it, which is why I haven't blogged much.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Week

It has been very busy and sort of odd. In one day we went from thinking we would stay in Virginia for a few more years and looking for a place with more space to raise Baby With Flat Hat (and possibly his or her sibling(s)) to being almost certain we'll move next year. But not to New York. One state over, or up, depending how you look at it. Justin has unofficially received the best possible news he can receive on the law school front, but it means that we will, in fact, be moving this summer and having a baby in a new place, and spending a lot of money (ours or someone else's) on tuition. In a few years Justin should be able to do pretty much whatever he wants, including (hopefully) moving into a house in central Virginia or somewhere similar with space to raise Children With Flat Hats. For now, we will probably have to sacrifice a few things, including mild winters.

...Or that's what I thought, until I woke up this morning. This is going to be the coldest Easter Vigil procession EVER.

Friday, March 30, 2007

1000 days

That is how long Justin and I have been married. No, I haven't been counting, I found that out from my profile on a newlywed chat site I hang out on. (Are we even newlyweds anymore? I don't know. It's been three years in July.)

This is also what I'm going to count as the beginning of my second trimester. Maybe this means I will start being hungry today! Well, one can always hope.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I hate food

I don't have morning sickness, for which I thank God, my mother and grandmother, and/or whoever else is responsible.

However, the effect raging pregnant hormones have on me is that I don't want to eat. At all. At any other time in my life, some kind of (moderate) appetite suppressant would have been most welcome. But now I'm supposed to be gaining weight, and instead I've lost something like eight pounds in the first trimester. This would be rational if I did in fact have morning sickness, but I don't, and a little person is growing inside me, so it's just weird, and a little freaky.

Granted, this may also be the result of stress, a frantic midweek schedule, and a husband who has been out of town a lot and therefore not inspiring me to cook for him. But I need to reverse this trend by the end of my first trimester, which is next week.

So today I went to Kroger without a list to restrain my impulses and bought everything that looked like I could persuade myself to eat or drink it: produce (strawberries always look kind of edible), meat, lemonade and limeade, Newman-Os...okay, the baby probably does not need Newman-Os, but I don't even like chocolate as much as I used to (weird!), so I won't eat a whole pack in two days, as I've been known to do. Also they have a little bit of protein and fiber. Protein and fiber are good! The baby likes one and my digestive tract likes the other, especially when I'm taking prenatal vitamins with probably more iron than I really need this early in my pregnancy.

I had three full meals today, including a nice pasta with shrimp and peas, and I even ate dessert, so I am feeling pretty good. Baby With Flat Hat should be dancing around my uterus on a bit of a sugar high.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


At the lake house, the kids bring up "proof" from the bottom of the lake to prove they made it all the way down.

I was reminded of this when I remembered that I have better (and cuter) proof than a positive ept that I'm pregnant. It was attained by diving into my nether regions with an ultrasound wand, which sounds uncomfortable but isn't that bad when it comes right after a pap smear.

This ultrasound is about three weeks old. I've had another since then, but I didn't get a copy that time. The only reason I needed a second ultrasound was that my doctor couldn't find the heartbeat on the Doppler. It turned out Baby With Flat Hat is so wiggly that she was chasing him/her all over my uterus without nailing down a heartbeat. Baby With Flat Hat actually looked more like a baby on the second ultrasound and less like a smudge. However, I like how my smudge is looking straight at the ultrasound thingy and clenching its fists in smudge-rage.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Or should I say annunciation? Wait, that's not till next week. I don't want to wait that long.

Now that I've told all my blog readers that I've seen in person since I found out, I can tell everyone else: I'm pregnant! Here is proof:

My mom wanted me to send it to her. Not a picture, the actual test. Justin pointed out that it is illegal to send human waste through the mail.

Now we know why I felt like this (more than a week before I tested).

Baby With Flat Hat is due October 3, according to my calculations. (My doctor says September 29, but I was present at the conception, so I'm going by what I know.) So I am twelve weeks along today, which seemed like a good time to go public, in the blogospheric sense.

This means, in case you were wondering, that this will absolutely become a mommy blog. Sorry if you're not into that. It's hard for me to think about much else, which is one reason I haven't been blogging much. Now I can talk about babies all the time!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dear UPS

You know, once in a while, it would be really nice if I could order something online like a pair of pants or an iPod shuffle or an engagement ring and have it delivered in the amount of time I paid for it to be delivered without you losing the package or failing to read the apartment number that is right there on the packing label or pretending you attempted to deliver the package when I know you didn't even bother trying because I was home all day. I mean, since you job is to deliver packages and keep track of them until they get delivered, it would be super cool if you did that. Otherwise I have no idea why you should exist. I'm really not into guys in brown shorts.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New blog

My friend Ben, who I've wanted for a long time to have a blog, now has a blog, Arrow Through the Sun. It's about science and theology, mostly. You should read it.

Great moments in pedagogy

Today in the class I'm TAing we discussed an essay by Stanley Hauerwas. As always, my sections went better than I expected considering I'm always preparing for them the day I teach them. Two moments stand out:
  1. When I asked them what was significant about Constantine, in two of my sections students started talking about how he decided what books would be in the Bible. The first time I had no idea where they were getting this; the second one of them mentioned The Da Vinci Code, and I burst out, "Oh, don't read The Da Vinci Code!", which the class found amusing. I never know how much of the general Christian freakout about TDVC is hype and how much of it is legit, but apparently it does influence what my very intelligent students think about the history of Christianity. But it gave me an opportunity to riff on New Testament criticism for a couple of minutes, and that's something I really know about even though it's not relevant to the class. So that was fun.
  2. One of my students referred to Hauerwas as a "shock rocker," which I thought was great. Stanley Hauerwas, the shock rocker of theologians.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Grandma's birthday

Justin and I are in Seattle this week. We didn't plan it this way (for now my vacation time is limited to spring break), but our visit coincided with my grandmother's 85th birthday. So everyone on my dad's side of the family, with the exception of one of my cousins and his wife, who live in California, celebrated with a birthday dinner.

My grandmother is an awesome woman. I want to be like her. Her memory is fading now, but for most of my life she's been on top of everything, anticipating her children's and grandchildren's needs before we even think of them. She's educated and made sure we all were too, and continued educating herself as an adult; she has always been an avid reader and taught herself Spanish when she was in her fifties. She is a quiet person, but strong and kind.

This has been a really good visit, with very little family stress, and a lot of time with friends, some of whom I haven't seen in a long time. The week has flown by.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

New template

Well, I redesigned the template yet again, because the old one was fussy with the new Blogger. I think it still works okay with pictures.

Home alone

(This is my first post using New Blogger, which I've resisted because so many people complained about Blogger Beta, but at this point apparently I don't have much choice and if I have a problem with it, so do millions of other people, I guess.)

Justin is in NYC to hang out with friends and visit this law school that is courting him (I'm trying to be secretive about which one it is, but if you know how brilliant my smarty-art husband is and how many really good law schools there are in New York City, it does narrow it down). They have an admitted students program this week that spouses and partners are welcome to attend, but it's conveniently scheduled on my two busiest work days, so I can't go. I'll probably visit later this spring, though, if it looks like we're headed there. So the dean of this law school called last week and I answered the phone:

Dean: Is this Justin?
Juliet: Um, no...?

Granted, I have a low voice and I was sick, but I'm rarely mistaken for a guy. Once I realized he was a law school dean and not just a confused telemarketer, I immediately got over being offended.

I put Justin on a train yesterday morning--nearly three hours after it was scheduled to leave, because Amtrak is like that--and I won't see him again until Saturday probably, when I'll pick him up in DC, and then we'll probably head straight from there to Richmond the next day to fly to Seattle. I guess Richmond's as good a place to fly out of as any, although it occurred to me after I'd booked the tickets that I had been thinking of flying out of Raleigh instead so we could see all the Chapel Hill people and park our car there for free, but I forgot when I was actually making the reservations. Oh well.

I am obliged to clean while Justin is gone, as I keep promising to do. I don't wanna. Also it's raining/snowing/sleeting/wintry mixing and I'm trying to determine if I can use this as an excuse not to go to a tutor training thingy tonight. Probably not. I got to church fine this morning, although there were only three of us in the choir and I was the only alto. Aside from screeching one note of the gospel acclamation ("praise to you, Lord JEEEE!!-eeesus Christ"), I did all right. But I don't know why there were so few of us singing. Maybe everyone else is giving up choir for Lent.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Checking in

I know, I haven't posted in a long time. Bad, bad Girl With Flat Hat.

This semester I undertook three part-time jobs: teaching an introductory course on religion at a community college about 45 miles away; TAing sections for a course on Islam here in town; and continuing to tutor student athletes, although with somewhat reduced hours from last semester once I realized I was insane. All this is packed into three days a week. I'm realizing now I overburdened myself, but there's not much to be done now as there's nothing I can back out of gracefully that would really make my life any easier.

Meanwhile, Justin has applied to law schools and has heard back from several of them. One has made him an offer that will be difficult to turn down unless another school makes a comparable one, which will mean moving again this summer, to a place with a much higher cost of living. I am a little irked that the law school down the street whose name I won't mention but of whose commonwealth Justin is now a legal resident has done less to recruit him than law schools than are higher ranked. But maybe they're being coy. Anyway, I have no idea how that will all turn out, and I don't have much leisure to worry about it till the end of the semester, which is about when we have to make a decision anyway.

Also, we spent the past two weekends out of town. Last weekend we were in Ithaca to watch the Super Bowl with Justin's family, and the weekend before that we were in New York to see Blue Öyster Cult.

So, that's why I haven't been blogging. I'm looking forward to spring break the first week of March, when we're going to Seattle. (We are going to try to see everyone this time, really!)

Monday, January 22, 2007


I like being married. It's cool. It's hard sometimes, but it is infinitely less depressing than the asisine game-playing of single dating life that other people seem to find exhilarating but which sickened me well before I met Justin at the age of 27.

The New York Times had a chirpy article which you probably can't read for free anymore about how 51% of women over the age of 15 (yeah, that's a bit young to count) are now unmarried, including interviews with chirpy swinging single New York females who are happy to be free of the shackles of matrimony. Which is fine, if they're happy that way.

But the Columbia Journalism Review Daily took exception:

...America is not a monolith. As much as we would like to persist in thinking that we are a classless and race-blind society, the Times, of all papers -- having run groundbreaking series on both race and class -- should realize that a phenomenon that might bode well for middle-class white women might be absolutely disastrous for poor black women.

Apparently, though, we are the only ones to see it like this. Because apart from a tossed-off paragraph that reminds us that, buried within these statistics, seventy percent of African-American women are single, there is nothing to indicate how the epidemic of single parentage in the black community contributes to this statistic. We imagine -- though aren't told -- that many of these women are raising children alone and being dragged deeper into poverty because of their unmarried status.

How un-chirpy. But true. (And not just for black women, of course, but for women of all races who don't have a swanky loft in the East Village.)

It seems like there are only two ways to talk about marriage: 1. as the bedrock of traditional mores that every adult who is not a priest or hideously unattractive should partake of, heterosexually, or 2. a somewhat antiquated institution of at best neutral moral value that is fine if it makes you happy but doesn't bear any relationship to the good of society at large. Are those the only alternatives? Isn't it possible to encourage marriage as generally beneficial to individuals, their children, and society at large without imposing gender inequality or heteronormativity?

And does the fact that 51% of women are now single have anything to do with men? Should they be glad we don't expect as much from them, or should they be concerned that society's expectations of them are lower? Should we even care what they think?

I don't mean to suggest that marriage is necessary for people to have happy relationships or healthy families (I know plenty of exceptions), but it seems like, no matter what the trend is, women get the raw end of the deal and often don't even realize it. That there are a number of educated, upper-middle-class, happily unmarried women does nothing for the many single women who barely get by and have no one else to provide for themselves and their families. Who do you think is suffering more from this trend toward singleness, men or women? Surely it's not men as much as women and their children?

(That was the first thing I've gotten worked up about in a while. I've been taking a break from blogs, mostly.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bourbon Street

I took this picture the night before the Sugar Bowl, so there were lots of LSU and Notre Dame fans about.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


This week has made me kind of cranky. No individual thing has made me feel that way, and if I had been in a better mood generally I would probably consider it a pretty good week all in all, but something about my attitude is just sour.

But Justin is sweet, even when I'm not, and this picture of him makes me smile.

Monday, January 15, 2007

When cousins attack

At our Swedish breakfast, Justin's cousin Catherine was living up to the first three letters of her name and scratching Whitney, who was being very patient.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


In New Orleans, Justin and I took a ride down the Mississippi on the steamboat Natchez. Just like the old days! Except for the audio guide and the lack of exploding boilers.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Every family has its holiday food traditions. My mom's family always has lasagna for Thanksgiving and Christmas, along with the usual turkey and everything. (You think we're weird, but really you're jealous! Wouldn't you like to have lasagna?) Justin's family, being about as much Scandinavian as I am Italian, has God Jul pudding for breakfast when they celebrate Christmas. (I know there are umlauts in there, but I'm too lazy to put them in.)

There are two things you must know about God Jul pudding:

1. Somewhere in it is an almond whose discoverer will, according to tradition, be the next to get married or have a baby. This might be why Justin's family is so large.

2. God Jul pudding is really gross, and also it must be eaten with fruit soup (pictured to the left of the pudding), which if anything is even more gross. And you actually have to eat it, not just poke through all the rice and raisins and tapioca or whatever the hell's in it so you can find the almond.

Last year Justin's brother had a girlfriend he really liked and must have eaten half the pudding, a feat of remarkable fortitude. Nevertheless, his sister has found the almond the last two years running. She's holding the rest of us up.

(Yes, I did kind of want the almond. But only two small helpings' worth.)

Friday, January 12, 2007


We returned on Sunday from our road trip through the Deep South (2.0), but I had to take a few days to recover, get things in order after our absence, and prepare for my first class at the community college where I'm teaching.

This is my favorite picture from our road trip and probably one of my favorite pictures ever. It's of a bald cypress/water tupelo swamp (I don't know which of those these trees are) on the Natchez Trace near Jackson, Mississippi. The weather didn't favor us as much as it has on past trips, but the cloudy skies were good for getting a picture without too many shadows or reflections.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spam box haiku III

Too good to pass up!

ready made crayfish
tired looking vegetables
piles of dried Floyd

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Live from somewhere else

I haven't been blogging the past week and a half because we've been away from home, first in Chapel Hill for Christmas with Justin's family, and now on the road in the Deep South, again, because that's how we roll.

Take note, everyone: When New Year's Eve is a Sunday, and you're planning on spending the night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, you must buy your champagne before entering the state. Wait, it's technically illegal to bring in alcohol from another state, so really you're pretty much screwed . Oh, and if you're looking for a college town without a Barnes & Noble or Borders or any bookstore aside from Books-a-Million, go to Tuscaloosa. No wine and no books make Juliet and Justin very cranky.

Fortunately, we're making up for our dry New Year's in New Orleans. You can drink alcohol on the street as long as it's not in a glass container. And there are bookstores. And good coffee. And beignets. I didn't even know about beignets until last night, but now I'm not sure I want to live without them. Come spend your tourist dollars in New Orleans. The French Quarter is ready for you.