Saturday, April 30, 2011

Crib crazed

Did you hear about the new U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) crib safety standards? Introduced in December, with full consumer compliance mandatory by January 2012?
Probably not.
But this little tidbit of info has tossed a big ole wrench into my nursery planning activities. (Interestingly enough, this was first brought to my attention by Learning Care Group Finance VP, my own Will Spurgeon. All day care cribs have to be replaced, and with 1000+ locations, that’s a lot of cribs. And a lot of funds. Enough to pique the interest of a Finance VP.)
Early in the pregnancy game, I picked out my crib, thanks to Karyn-recommended blog OhDeeDoh and their budget friendly crib post. Much to my moral chagrin, my faves were from the Walmart Baby Mod line. (I feel yucky buying from Walmart. But got over it for budget-friendly-modern cribs.)
Either the Park Lane.

Or the Olivia.

I mackereled between the two, but figured there wasn’t much of a rush. I had months before we tackled the nursery and even then, Baby S. would spend her first few months in the Breclaw cradle (a piece crafted for me when I was born, by my dad – more to come on that – such a treasure deserves its own post).
I was wrong about the rush. Last week, I hopped online to purchase the front-runner, the Park Lane, only to discover its “out of stock” status. GASP. The wheels started turning… Would it ever be in stock? With the new safety standards, were all the pieces being revamped and rolled out just in time for January 2012?
Thanks goodness I had my back-up, the Olivia. Two weeks later, when I finally got around to ordering, “Out of Stock.”
I’ve sent inquiries to both Walmart and Million Dollar Baby (makers of the Baby Mod line), asking if either model will be in stock anytime in the near future. Thus far, no response.
So I’m back to crib selection square one. And honestly, it’s a little stressful. I now feel an (most likely irrational) urgency to choose and purchase a sleeping space for Baby S. Because what if all the cribs I like sell out? And maybe it’s not too irrational. One that I had my eye on just recently went out of stock on a bunch of websites. (The City Lights Commuter.) Of course, being pregnant does make me trend toward the irrational, but not too much I can do about that.
So in the next two weeks, I hope to either get news on the Baby Mod pieces or choose between, and order one of, the following: the Amy Coe Westport, the Babyletto Modo or the Babyletto Mercer.

If all else fails, maybe I can talk Will into breaking the bank and ordering up my #1 pick, the $940 Oeuf Classic.
Wish me luck!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ciao mamma e papà

Truly flexing their retiree muscle for the first time, B & B are taking on Italy. Itinerary includes Milan, Venice, Parma, Florence (complete with a full-day IBikeItaly ride), Rome and Cinque Terre. I am so proud of them and so eager to hear about their adventures.

They left yesterday and flew through London - wonder if they got caught up in the Royal Wedding festivities?

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Just yesterday I commented how poor Kip never makes the blog. He has such a reserved manner and never does anything wrong - just a good, loyal dog.

I spoke too soon.

At left, Kip stuck under the deck. I went looking for him and heard yelping. Panicked, I rushed to the side of the deck. Not hurt. Just stuck. And noisy.

My thought? You got yourself in there, now get yourself out. But, practicing for parenthood, I got a hammer and pried some boards off. Mom to the rescue.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lake Michigan Love

As I mentioned in Monday's post, we had decent weather during our Escanaba visit. Saturday was just so-so, but Sunday was truly marvelous. Our Easter morning beach stroll (with the boys and Grandma Betty) was one of those times when I longed to reside in my hometown.

Here I am with my adoring fans.

Grandma Betty enjoyed her time with her four-legged grandsons.

And of course, freezing cold H20 temps or not, there was the obligatory driftwood toss.

And retrieve.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

20 + (6 - 2)

Taken on 1129 Lake Shore Drive's back deck at 24 weeks, 4 days.

The honeymoon period is over and the third trimester begins.

And so I enlarge.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter in Esky

Will, the boys, Baby S. and I spent Easter weekend in Escanaba. Though not the best time of year to enjoy the majestic Upper Peninsula, we lucked out with decent weather and even a little blue sky. Honestly, the real draw is Easter Saturday dinner, celebrated Polish-style with the Gorenchan family.

Before we could enjoy those delicacies, however, in true Breclaw fashion, we had to haul some wood. In preparation for the annual Mother's Day load (delayed a tad this year by possible supplier issues and B&B's Italy excursion), each piece was moved from the side of the house, down the ramp and into the backyard.

Will was full-wheelbarrow man. Grandpa Bob and I stacked (no pregnancy out here!).

First-cousin-once-removed Gage was PT stacker and empty wheelbarrow man, Grandma Betty took photos and Owen supervised. (Kip was quiet and napped in the house. Smart man.)

We got a little rest, then family and neighbors convened at six for the Easter dinner kick-off and official Betty-led apostle hunt. No silly egg hunts around here! Twelve little bearded, cloaked, hand-markered clothespin men find their way into tricky spots around the backyard. Before the event begins, one is designated the "special" apostle. Finder of that snappy dude gets $20.

Guess who the lucky finder was?



We all enjoyed the feast. Ham, veal, lamb, homemade cheese, hard-boiled eggs, rolls, brie, potatoes, beets and horseradish, deviled spinach and of course, Sayklly's for dessert.

Marge continues to enlarge.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birthing Normally

Last week Will and I attended the second installment in a Birthing Normally speaking series hosted by Providence Alternative Birth Care Unit. The first was the Meet the Doulas event that I blogged about ages ago, and where we first met our doula, Deb.

Last week's installment was titled Improve Your Chance of Having a Normal Birth and Positive Breastfeeding Experience. There was a panel of speakers and each presented their top recommendations for achieving the birth you want to achieve. Panelists included an acupuncturist, a lactation consultant, a chiropractor, two nurses, a doula, the founder of the ABC mom group and my new girl crush. Probably should explain the last one.

The featured panelist was Cynthia Gabriel, a friendly, witty, funny medical anthropologist from Ann Arbor that just published a book about natural hospital birth.
Will and I met her in the parking lot, where she was attempting to wrangle her 3 year old (just up from a car nap) son into a sling, while holding a box of books and a basket of aromatherapy oils. We helped her out and got some one-on-one before she was attacked by the organizers.

I found her so engaging! She is a doula, a mother of three and teaches anthropology at Eastern Michigan University. She earned her PhD from UCSC, in part by apprenticing midwives in a Russian maternity hospital.

It was in this hospital that her book, Natural Hospital Birth, was born. Of the 66 births she witnessed, only one was medicated. She started thinking - why, in the USA, would that NEVER happen? Maybe it's not the hospital, but the patient? How can women be more prepared to birth naturally in a hospital environment? She did her research and the result is a well-put together reference for all pregnant women (as far as I can tell, 35 pages in).

These days, many mothers-to-be find themselves torn between the desire for a natural childbirth with minimal medical intervention and the peace of mind offered by instant access to life-saving technology that only a hospital can provide. In Natural Hospital Birth, doula Cynthia Gabriel asserts that there is no good reason that women in North America should not be able to have both. She shows expectant mothers what they can do to avoid unnecessary medical interventions and how to take initiative and consciously prepare for the kind of birth they want to have. Also included are inspiring stories from other women who know firsthand that natural birth in the hospital is possible. With this book, mothers-to-be will be equipped with the knowledge they need to ensure a satisfying hospital birth that they will look back on with peace and joy.

If anybody wants to read it, I have an autographed copy available for loan sometime in May.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Welcome Walter Patrick

Hey world, meet my first cousin, once removed, Walter Patrick Gunsten.

My beautiful, strong cousin, Molly, gave birth to Walter on Sunday, April 17 at 4:52 a.m. via VBAC.

I am so proud of her and can't wait to hear the details of Walter's birth. She has been an inspiration during my pregnancy and a wonderful source of support.

Mind you, Walt wasn't a slight fellow, weighing in at 8 lbs. 9 oz. Good thing big sister Maeve has strong biceps! (And of course, dad Chuck is always there if Maeve needs a break.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RLP Relief

Admittedly, thus far I've had a pretty easy pregnancy. But as of late, I've suffered two totally, frustratingly annoying symptoms: killer heartburn and hand-me-an-icepack round-ligament-pain (in our house, grudgingly referred to as RLP).

After a quick call to the midwives' office, I received antidote for the former: 150 mg of Zantac 2x/day. Works like magic. Pass the garlic hot wings. But the latter has proved much more troubling.

Web MD describes round ligament pain (RLP from now on) as a type of pelvic pain caused by stretching of the round ligaments, which hold your uterus in suspension within your abdomen. As the uterus grows in size and weight, these ligaments become very long and thin, stressing and tensing like rubber bands. The ligaments pull and tug on nearby nerve fibers and sensitive structures, causing pain, especially during or after exercise.

And running is exercise that causes me some serious RLP. The first couple times it happened, and notably after the Corktown run, I was worried. I eased off the running, wore flats to work and complained. But soon after, around 19 weeks, running was out of the question. Heck, walking hurt. I did my internet research and found quite a few blog and forum posts about RLP and running. The top tidbits of advice: #1.) Stop running and #2.) Buy a support band.

Fearful of gaining 50 pregnancy pounds
, and with the RLP keeping me from walking for exercise, and little confidence in an elliptical's ability to keep the peanut M&M's off my ass, I opted for #2. Of course, there are 27 different maternity support band brands and types, and reviews led me to conclude that it's a total crap-shoot. I turned to a gym aquatintance and two-time Ironman triathlete finisher, who I knew ran 6 miles the day before her c-section (and yes, is probably also a tad insane), for advice. She recommended the Medela (yep - the same peeps who make breast pumps) Maternity Support Belt.

After a couple clicks on Amazon and about 4 days of restless anticipation, what I hoped was the answer to my RLP, arrived. Despite the questionable p
ackaging and model choice, I was optimistic. It was soft (probably wouldn't irritate my skin) and offered a decent amount of support.

Not to mention I looked awesome in it.

Well, I was wrong. (About the amount of support. I kno
w I looked awesome in it.) My coo coo Ironwoman friend must have had more cooperative round ligaments. Mine laughed at the Medala. Not a titter. A hardy, German-man belly laugh.

Sure, it offers support. During a normal day. Or grocery shopping. But brisk walking, wogging, or heaven
-forbid running? Ummm, no.

I hemmed and hawed. What to do? What to do? As I did deliberated (and crafted like a woman possessed), I watched the numbers on the scale rise. So, I logged back into my Amazon account and a couple clicks later, the blog/forum maternity-support-band-for-runners all-star favorite, the Gabrialla, was on its way to 505. Of course, while I waited, the RLP began to abate (something that I read could happen in the third trimester). But, I figured I may as well give it a go. I could always sell it on craigslist.

My second chance at RLP relief arrived last Wednesday. Better packaging (no model headshot) and what looked like a serious increase in support. Not baby's bottom soft, but the support to softness trade-off seems worth it.

And of course, there was the awesome-looking factor.

With the craft show last weekend, I haven't gotten a chance to really try it out. But with the test-runs around the house, I am hopeful that I'll at least be able to walk briskly without RLP.

I'll be sure to report back.

But for now, to any of my pregnant running pals out there, I say, "Buy the Gabrialla not the Medela."

Who knows, maybe this endorsement will earn me a freebie...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Really, Owen?

This is what happens when I blog and Owen isn't under foot, under the desk.

Best part - he knows he's in trouble. Note the self-banished crate occupant.

Just yesterday Will said he was getting better. Jinxed? Or too-obsessed with last weekend's craft-fair karma?

Damn him. I really liked that pillow . . .Add Image

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Craft Revival

Hear that? It's the sound of me letting out a HUGE sigh of relief. Handmade Detroit's 3rd Annual Craft Revival is complete, as is Collard Green Dogs first retail appearance and my first craft show.

After all the prep drama, the show itself was amazingly smooth. We left the house Friday at 6 p.m. (Owen spent from 2 until 6 guarding the packed car. Actually, he was hoping not to be left behind, but no dice.) and arrived at The Loving Touch in Ferndale at 6:45. In an area known for limited parking, we snapped up a front door spot and loaded-in. (Good signs.)

Though I'd practiced set-ups at home, we fussed a little, and because it was an evening event, had to mess around with lighting. Of course this included me blinding people with my 100 watt halogen bulb and then breaking my can light, but we got it together and finished up just in time for the 9 p.m. opening.

Sales were slow on Friday night. Five collars (two at 1 a.m. by a pair of intoxicated ladies) and two bags of treats. People browsed but we
re really there for the (not so quiet) bands. We had a team of salesmen though - Will's friends Jason, Brendan, James and Bill stopped by, socialized and schmoozed with potential customers. Bill wins the award for best pitch: "Do you have a dog? (Yes.) Do you love your dog?" Hard sell - and what snagged me those two tipsies at the end.

At 1:30 we pa
cked up our products, headed to the car and were back at 505 by 2:30. (Of course, this is when Miss Spurgeon Sassy Pants decided to start rockin' and rollin' in utero, but it was okay, because Will finally got to feel her kick. Which was pretty exciting.)

Saturday morning we were back at it. After a stop at New York Bagels for sales sustenance in salt stick and everything with veggie cream cheese and tomato form, we rolled in for set-up at 11 a.m. Will, AKA retail-display-specialist, reworked our table while I drank coffee and smiled.

Doors opened at noon and BAM, customers started showing up. We had quite a few early visitors - a surprise appearance by Aunt Robin, and hello's from Lilly, Denise, Craig, Mildred, Aunt Colleen and Grandma Katie, Alexi with baby Dylan, and Big and Little Chris. (A million thanks to all of you for your purchases!)

Will was awesome - in charge of all payment collection, including operating the "hello Mr. 90's" credit card knuckle and while I chatted up our visitors, he made the sales.

There were never too many people for us to handle, and only a few lulls in the day. But by 5:30 p.m., my eyes were glazing over and my dogs were barkin' (in my shoes and probably at home). When the 6 p.m. wrap-up arrived, there were no complaints. We were not-so surprisingly efficient tear-downers and peeled outta that parking lot not a minute past 7.

(Straight to
Green Lantern for some serious pizza noshing.)

How did we do? Well, I'd say, for first- (and possibly only-) timers. Really well for 12 hours. We were very happy with collar sales but a little surprised by the lack of toy and leash bag purchases. Half-way through Saturday we started cutting deals and discounting the balls, but even then toy sales lagged. Goes to show you just can't tell. When Will sold this stuff at an office holiday dealio, the balls went like hot-cakes. Why not this time? ~shrug~

The biggest disappointment? No suitcase dog bed sales. People LOVED them (Betty's much-slaved-over covers received mucho compliments and people drooled over Bob's hand-hewn bed legs) but no takers. I have confidence that they'll sell though. I just need to find the right buyers. At the Craft Revival, all the people with real money had big dogs. But somewhere out there are little-dog owners with a penchant for sassy suitcase beds.

So, will I stick to my word and NEVER do another craft show? Probably not. Why? Because I have a bunch of stuff left to sell. But I will stick to small events, like one-day charity fairs, dog-walking events or maybe even a horse show. I may even try to tackle one before Miss Sassy Pants enters our life. But, true to my word, she, and Will and the furry boys, will reclaim their rightful place at the center of my life for the duration.

What's next? Taking 8 million photos and getting all the leftover products on Collard Green Dogs and my etsy store. Heck - if that's successful sales-wise, maybe I will stick to my word and NEVER do another show. But, never say never, right?

Friday, April 15, 2011

20 + 3

Definitely enlarging. I brought back the tank for comparison's sake.

Week 22 to 23 was a rough one. Preparing for the craft show AND a horrible haircut. Way too much for my emotional, self-conscious-self.
Has me actually considering extensions. Well, not really. Well, maybe a little.

I wanted to lessen the face roundness, not lose 2 inches of length and accentuate it! Will says let it grow. I say, "Great, by the time I'm at my biggest and this baby is ready to come out, my hair will be back to where it was in week 22.5." *SIGH*

And so goes the life of this pregnant lady.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Felted to death

As many of you know, a few weeks ago I was having a crafting conundrum. The question? Whether or not to participate in the MSU craft show. Update - conundrum solved. I dropped out of the MSU show to spend time focusing on Baby S, Will and the rest of my loo loo life.

However, I opted to stick with the Handmade Detroit Craft Revival show, which is now looming. After spending most of my free time over the past three weeks either bent over a sewing machine, designing signage, baking dog treats, staining wooden dog bed legs, wrapping Kool-Aid dyed wool balls or crying, I am fully confident with my decision regarding MSU.

Last weekend, we spent a lot of time making one of my favorite little products - hand-felted wool balls. On Friday night I spent some quality time with a pound of polwarth top roving wool, 35 packets of Kool-Aid and my stove.

First you soak the raw wool in cold water. Then, after dissolving 5-6 packets of Kool-Aid mix in boiling water, you remove the pot from the heat and add the wool, waiting until it absorbs the dye and the water turns clear. About 20 minutes. Pull it out of the pot and voila - lovely dyed wool. And a great way to spend a Friday night.

Ours spent the evening drying in the bathroom.

On Saturday morning I caught up with Bethnny and wound strips of wool around metal bells. After our time downtown, I went back to the sewing machine and Will took the those Kool-Aid bell balls and felted himself to near death, massaging them into compact little wool balls. It takes freaking forever and is murder on your hands. Imagine washing dishes in the hottest water ever for 5-6 hours straight. Thank goodness he loves me.

But the end product is pretty cool. And pretty durable.

We'll see if they're sellers.

If they are, I'll cry. If they're not, I'll cry harder.

Now if we can only get those suitcase bed pillow covers to work. (Stay tuned for details.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Family matters

On Saturday Will and I took a break from our feverish Craft Revival prep to go downtown. The fieldtrip had a disappointing start, but great finish. We suffered through the musical version of The Color Purple at the Fox (I liked one song out of about 35) and had a so-so Detroit Restaurant Week meal at 24 Grille (though the fried artichokes were to die for).

Afterwards, we stopped by to check out Uncle Paul's new digs in Woodbridge. Great little old, yet rehabbed, duplex. Two bedrooms, one and a half baths (with jet tub), back yard, laundry... And close to the Woodbridge Pub and community garden.

Aunt Colleen and her new addition were also a part of the Spurgeon sibling gathering. Cash is a silly, muscly 50 pound English Bulldog. He took quite a shining to Paul. He joins Bubba at home. Wonder what Lake City gatherings will be like with two labs, one pitbull and two english bulldogs in residence...? Hmmm - might need to look into kennels in Cadillac.

Sunday was back to the grind until 5, when we gathered in Royal Oak for Grandpa Bill's birthday. Did I mention it was 85 degrees? Ahhh - heaven.

Monday, April 11, 2011


My diligence with taking weekly belly photos earns me an E. In the 12ish weeks I've known about the baby, I've taken 6 purposeful belly shots. Truly, it didn't really feel like it started changing until recently. Today's resolution? Take weekly photos.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Befores and Afters

Just wanted to pause and take a moment to really show people what an amazing job my loved ones did revamping our kitchen. Check out the befores (left) and afters (right).

And don't worry - the Guinness poster didn't go away. It just got a new home.