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Jessica Valenti, I Think I Love You

September 24th, 2012

Based on this inter­view and this piece, I bought your book.

Ari’s Birth Story

January 27th, 2012

I’ve been mean­ing to post this for some time, but keep get­ting dis­tracted. Babies: so demand­ing! I had a few moments today where I decided to stop neglect­ing my blog (at the expense of con­tin­u­ing to neglect vac­u­um­ing). Then I read it again and got a lit­tle teary. Babies: so emo­tional! Happy weekend.
All through­out preg­nancy I had felt good—sometimes even great—and then at the start of the 40th week, I was over it. I felt big, unwieldy and tired. I didn’t want to do anything.
Ari’s due date was sup­posed to be August 10, but I was fairly cer­tain it would come and go with­out his arrival. I went to the baby store across the street and the owner said my belly looked dif­fer­ent from a few days ear­lier. She said know­ingly, “I think it’s going to hap­pen this week­end.” We had reser­va­tions for Prov­i­dence that night and I kept think­ing, “Let me eat this one awe­some last meal…”

The week­end came and went. No baby.

I saw the mid­wife on the due date (a Wednes­day) and she had me set up an appoint­ment for fetal mon­i­tor­ing the fol­low­ing week (41 weeks). I ate another good meal at Rus­tic Canyon. I thought I may have had a con­trac­tion, but oth­er­wise, things were semi-normal. I had wanted to re-watch the British veri­son of The Office, so every day we watched another episode or two before falling asleep.

Early in the morn­ing of Fri­day, August 12, I woke up think­ing I may have had con­trac­tions dur­ing the night. I also recounted a really weird dream involv­ing a potluck where some­one brought water­melon and marsh­mal­lows on skew­ers. I woke Ryan up and he asked if I wanted to walk Harry with him. (This is unusual. In our seven years of dog own­er­ship, walk­ing the dog in the morn­ing is almost always some­thing Ryan does alone.) As we walked around the neigh­bor­hood, I thought, “OK, these are def­i­nitely con­trac­tions.” Ryan decided to work from home. A few hours later, after we’d eaten donuts and tracked more con­trac­tions, he decided to take the day off. I kept think­ing, “This might not be it, this could stop at any point, or this could go off and on all week­end.” But the con­trac­tions kept get­ting closer and closer together. We fin­ished The Office.

We called Labor and Deliv­ery and they said I could come in if I wanted, but I could def­i­nitely wait. We stayed home. A few hours later I was hot and uncom­fort­able and thought I might be hap­pier in a nice cold hos­pi­tal. So we headed to UCLA around 6pm. We brought so much stuff! Read­ing mate­r­ial, a lap­top loaded with tele­vi­sion shows, a ton of music and an exer­cise ball. I fig­ured I’d be labor­ing for a while, and envi­sioned myself walk­ing through the halls and sit­ting on my ball while Ryan talked me through things and rubbed my back.

The nurses put us in the tini­est triage room and there wasn’t much space. The pile of neces­si­ties sat in a cor­ner and Ryan had nowhere to sit. We guessed how dilated I might be. I said it would be great if I was at five or six cen­time­ters, but Ryan thought it was more likely that I was three or four. Finally I saw our mid­wife and she checked me. I was already dilated to six cen­time­ters! That meant we could move into a big labor and deliv­ery room. Every nurse who came by kept say­ing, “You seem so calm for how far along you are!” I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly com­fort­able, but I wasn’t sure how much more intense it would get.

For some rea­son I was very con­cerned about being hun­gry dur­ing labor. My par­ents went to get deli for din­ner and I kept think­ing I would have to have them bring me something.

Oddly, I then for­got entirely about food. I had to wear a mon­i­tor because the baby’s heart rate was drop­ping between con­trac­tions, which meant I had to stay in a fixed posi­tion in bed. This annoyed me, and I kept try­ing to talk some­one into let­ting me move around. Even­tu­ally I made it to eight cen­time­ters. I really wanted to try for an unmed­icated deliv­ery, and at this point I knew I could keep going with­out drugs. At some time after mid­night, as I was wig­gling in bed, I felt a huge gush and heard a “pop.” “I think my water just broke,” I said to my mom and Ryan.

I got checked again—ten cen­time­ters! The mid­wife said it was going to be time to push soon. I don’t remem­ber much about push­ing except that I yelled—a lot—and that it hurt—a lot. At one point, my mid­wife told me I was mak­ing noise but not push­ing, and I needed to push. This made me mad, and in a fit of “I’ll show her” I really pushed. So hard that a baby came out, all at once, it seemed. For some rea­son I thought it would be grad­ual, like here’s his head, push push, now his chest, push push…But it felt like one big move.

At many points dur­ing preg­nancy, you are blown away by what your body is doing. I’m grow­ing a human, I kept think­ing to myself. And then sud­denly, the thing that’s been inside you is out­side you and it’s noth­ing short of amazing.

Kale and Hearty

October 31st, 2011

I’ve always been a fan of kale, but never ate it raw. That is, until a friend of ours took us to Echo Park’s Elf Café and we ordered the spicy kale salad. Crunchy and piquant, it’s like no other salad I’ve tasted, and the good news is—it’s pretty easy to make yourself.

Spicy Kale Salad (inspired by Elf Café, adapted by me)


1 bunch curly kale
Feta cheese
Harissa (hot red pep­per paste, I bought mine at one of the Per­sian mar­kets nearby, but I’ve seen it at Whole Foods and spe­cialty mar­kets)
Cher­moula (ingre­di­ents below)

For cher­moula:
4 or 5 gar­lic cloves
one bunch cilantro
one bunch pars­ley
1 1/2 tea­spoons sweet paprika
1/2 tea­spoon ground cumin
1/8 tea­spoon cayenne
1/4 cup extra vir­gin olive oil
juice from 2 or 3 lemons (to taste)

My usual kale rou­tine is to put it in a sink full of water, swish it around, rinse, drain the sink and repeat. This gets all the dirt off the leaves. Remove ribs and chop the leaves, then spin dry in a salad spinner.

I’d describe cher­moula as Moroc­can pesto. It’s incred­i­bly easy to make and no mat­ter how much I tweak amounts, I still love the taste. I use Deb­o­rah Madison’s recipe from Veg­e­tar­ian Cook­ing for Every­one. She rec­om­mends mak­ing it in a mor­tar and pes­tle, but I am lazy and use my Vita­mix, though a food proces­sor would work too. The orig­i­nal recipe calls for 2/3 cup of cilantro, and 1/3 cup of pars­ley, but I gen­er­ally just make sure I have more cilantro than pars­ley and call it a day. I throw every­thing in the blender, taste and adjust the sea­son­ings, often adding more lemon juice or salt.

Cut up an avo­cado, slice some feta cheese, and assem­ble your salad: a pile of kale, a dol­lop of cher­moula, a blob of harissa and as much feta and avo­cado as you’d like. Stir every­thing together and the ingre­di­ents will coat the kale, result­ing in awesomeness.

And, yes, there isn’t any avo­cado in that photo. I was so excited I’d remem­bered to take a photo before eat­ing with an actual cam­era that I for­got to add the avo­cado after I’d stirred it all up. Don’t worry, I added it before eat­ing. And, because he’s cute…Ari!


Ari Benjamin Olson

August 25th, 2011

Oh yeah, I had a baby. He’s awe­some. Birth story and more details once I stop smelling his tiny per­fect head. (Give me a few years.)

I Have the OCBD

July 3rd, 2011

I’ve self-diagnosed myself with an afflic­tion that has yet to show up in the DSM. I’m call­ing it obsessive-compulsive book­mark­ing dis­or­der, and it may be my downfall.

I first exper­i­mented with book­mark­ing out­side of my browser with Deli­cious, and I still con­tend that for recipe book­mark­ing, Deli­cious can’t be beat. But I dreamed of a visual com­po­nent, so I started play­ing around with Kaboo­dle, which I’ve always liked, par­tic­u­larly for shop­ping and com­par­ing pur­poses, but never loved. Ever­note had my heart for a while, but I never felt like it excelled at the visual ele­ment, par­tic­u­larly when I clipped images from house tours. So it was with some trep­i­da­tion that I started with Pin­ter­est.

Fast for­ward a few weeks, and I am so sold on Pin­ter­est that I attended a Pin­ter­est party (hey, that’s me in the sec­ond to last photo!) last week. I acted beyond nerdy when I met Piner­est founder Ben. (Sorry, Ben.) I say on a daily basis, “Know what I saw on Pin­ter­est?” I evan­ge­lize. (Pin­ter­est should really be pay­ing me.)

So I’ve been pin­ning nurs­ery ideas. Here’s a screen­shot of where we are today:

Thus far, we have two pieces of yet-to-be-assembled fur­ni­ture and lit­tle else. I’m not really into themes, though I have had a strong lean­ing towards ele­phants since find­ing out about baby. Hence all the damn elephants.

The problem—and it’s not really a problem—is that on a weekly basis, I start second-guessing myself. I stum­bled across a post ear­lier from Sarah Farris-Gilbert where I was tick­led to find that she mocked up five nurs­ery designs for herself—and she does this for a liv­ing, peo­ple. So let’s blame preg­nancy for fear of dec­o­rat­ing commitment—and my daily 2am bath­room breaks.

Dilemmas du Jour

June 30th, 2011

Problem-solving is not my strong suit this week. We are pon­der­ing mov­ing (nearby, not across the coun­try again), which has put a screech­ing halt to nurs­ery plan­ning, or at least nurs­ery paint­ing. This itch to nest and dec­o­rate has man­i­fested itself as a deep desire to get rid of things. Up for pos­si­ble dis­card is a full set of the much-loved Domino mag­a­zines.(This shelf is part of a big­ger Olaf von Bohr for Kartell unit that used to hold my toys. Some­one gave it to my par­ents and occa­sion­ally I see it in over­priced vin­tage stores or on 1stDibs. If I ever sell it, please check me into a men­tal hospital.)

But how could you part with your Domino collection?

Sorry, maybe you’re not actu­ally say­ing that. Maybe it’s just one of the voices in my head. I’m not pulling these down for ref­er­ence on a daily or even weekly basis. In fact, I’m not sure if they’ve moved off the shelves since I unpacked our boxes from Florida. A quick search on ebay showed me that a com­plete set recently went for a lit­tle more than $300. And $300 would buy a lot of dia­pers. Or a posh dia­per bag. Whatever.

So, dilemma #1: do I sell off the Domino collection?

This could help fund dilemma #2: the nurs­ery. In an effort to shame myself into mak­ing some seri­ous head­way in this room, I will show you the cur­rent state of affairs.

Items of note: that black lamp is from a Brick House sale that I couldn’t attend but Ryan did, because he is a cham­pion hus­band. And below that is a donut cush­ion, because I am a senior cit­i­zen now. There’s also a sil­ver Cen­tu­rion you might be inter­ested in. And a baby gate that is Harry’s mor­tal enemy. Harry loves this room, mostly because it’s where my mom sleeps when she vis­its, and there is no per­son Harry loves more than my mom. He merely tol­er­ates our exis­tence between her vis­its. Here he is now, won­der­ing when he will get to see her again.

Soon, Harry. Very soon. Speak­ing of my mom, she has been a one woman sweat­shop of late, churn­ing out baby cute­ness like it’s her job. Here’s my favorite of her creations.

Why yes, that is a hand­knit giraffe with pom-pom trim. Don’t you want to snug­gle him? (Don’t worry, I visit him fre­quently and give him hugs.)

More thoughts on the nurs­ery com­ing soon. In the mean­time, feel free to advise me on my mag­a­zine hoard­ing or tell me to get crack­ing on giv­ing this baby a place to sleep. He’s com­ing in six weeks, nurs­ery or not!


June 24th, 2011

How did I miss this? One of my favorite songs of late, done by the ridicu­lous PS 22 Cho­rus. You have no soul if this doesn’t make you even a lit­tle verklempt. (Or maybe it’s just that you don’t have preg­nancy hor­mones cours­ing through your sys­tem. Whatever.)

Speak­ing of the hor­mones, am I the only preg­nant woman who is, for lack of a bet­ter expres­sion, un-nesting? As in, the room baby will soon call his own has two bikes, a queen bed and a pile of mom’s craft crap? Oh, and a closet cur­rently occu­pied by neces­si­ties like someone’s Space Ghost cos­tume and some­one else’s black-tie wed­ding dress? (Both last worn in 2009, if we’re being per­fectly honest.)

Let’s blame June Gloom.

We only have another week to blame the weather, though, and weather shouldn’t really pre­vent any­one from, um, buy­ing stuff and paint­ing walls, right? OK, to be fair, I’ve been a lit­tle thrown lately by some gross preg­nancy stuff (I’m skip­ping details in case you’re read­ing this while eat­ing) and travel (New York and Kansas City). But…baby’s due date is fast approach­ing and I need to get into action. Or at least to Ikea.

(June Gloom by the awe­some Rox­anne Daner.)

Nine Months After Moving Out of Florida…

June 5th, 2011

It was sug­gested that per­haps I change my domain. So, I’m now over at rebeccabraverman.com. If you read this site via RSS, it’s likely that the old feed will work, but at some point this domain will expire, and I will not be renew­ing it. (Take that, Florida!)

Ques­tions, con­cerns, com­ments? Let me know and I’ll make sure my team of engi­neers hus­band gets right on it.

On Dads…and Moms

May 6th, 2011

We’re halfway through the Fort­night of Many House­guests, and my visit with my dad (who left yes­ter­day) is fresh in my mind. We have always been close, but it’s rare that we get a lot of one-on-one time. I knew I’d enjoy hav­ing him here for a few days, I just didn’t real­ize how much.

Hav­ing a few days with my dad solo reminded me that while my mom and I have things we share, so do my dad and I. We always have to eat deli (this trip included Langer’s and Canter’s). The man loves a tast­ing menu, and the meal we ate at Prov­i­dence included the best scal­lop I have ever eaten in my life. (OK, we like to eat.)

Shar­ing a meal together is just the back­drop for talk­ing. About every­thing and any­thing. Office pol­i­tics, fam­ily pol­i­tics, why we are the way we are—it’s all up for dis­cus­sion. What I value most about my dad, though—and trust me, there’s a lot about him to love—is his will­ing­ness, “even as an old man,” as he would say, to try some­thing new. We’re always evolv­ing, always chang­ing, and just when I start to think we’re set in our ways, my dad reminds me that we’re all works in progress.

Since Mother’s Day is upon us, I should prob­a­bly men­tion that my dad would say he couldn’t be who he is today with­out my mom. So here’s to par­ents in gen­eral, par­tic­u­larly mine! And here’s the lat­est object of my affec­tion, the mono­grammed Dwell dia­per bag, unfor­tu­nately not yet avail­able for pur­chase. Until baby boy has a name, my urge to mono­gram will stay with my own “RAB.”

Checking In, Checking Out

April 27th, 2011

We are fac­ing sev­eral weeks of house­guests start­ing, um, now, which sparked a small major binge-purge cycle in our house. Once I start scratch­ing the Craig itch, I can­not stop. Which is great news for you if you are try­ing to unload Heywood-Wakefield fur­ni­ture in the LA metro.

While on this mag­i­cal mys­tery tour of acquir­ing and dequir­ing (that’s a word, right?), we found my new favorite store. Hotel Sur­plus is where hotels send their fur­ni­ture when they redec­o­rate or close, and if there’s any­thing that gets me high (strictly nat­u­rally, of course), it is a ware­house stuffed to the gills. Do I have pho­tographs of this won­der of the world? Of course not, that would require that I had con­cen­trated on some­thing else besides piles of weird pho­tographs with KWID stick­ers on the back. Two pieces from the Kelly-designed Mai­son 140 made their way into our wee house and I owe you pho­to­graphic proof.

But first, I must get my sis­ter from the airport.