Monday, September 28, 2009

Home Depot

When Ian was very little we joked that he would grow up thinking that we lived at the Home Depot.

He knows the difference between Home Depot and Lowes, and has his favorite parts of the store. The tractors (lawn mowers), any set of stairs that say "employee only," the refrigerator section where he can open and close all the doors, and the shower section where he can hide in the various showers and door displays.

Yesterday when we went to buy some more moulding, we found that they already had Christmas stuff out. Officially our first sight of Christmas in the stores. Not as bad as it could be I guess -- Fall officially started 6 days ago so at least it is not still summer.

Ian had a lot of fun. It was raining and we geared him up in his cowboy rain boots and his fire fighter rain coat. He had a great time splashing in the parking lot puddles and running around the outdoor section (which actually still had Halloween stuff).

After the Home Depot run we hit McDonald's that has an indoor play gym. There was a little girl birthday party going on and... wow. Our future spread out before us in ear piercing shrieks. Girls are LOUD!

The pictures here are the first ones that show his new haircut. I took him to SnipIts and he did really good. The brows were lowered and the chin wrinkled in distress, but he didn't cry or freak out. I wish I had a shot of him in the barber's chair. He was adorable.

Next time I think I will ask them to keep it a little long on the top. He looks great with it short... but so old! Where is my baby boy?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mad About Color

I had a very strong desire to purchase one of these for Teddy in advance. Only a picture that Gwyn sent -- of Nic and her on the beach -- reminded me that they live in a sunny piece of California that probably never requires warm knit hats.

Luckily, I live in New England. A popular comedian once said that we have four seasons here: "Almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction." Perfect hat weather. And Evie will be just over a month old at Christmas, perfect this hat weather.

Actually, the entire Mad About Color shop reads to me like As I mentioned before, my mom and my Aunt both have the amazing knitting skills to turn out pieces of clothing like artwork. Me... not so much. But I have been bred with a love and appreciation for this kind of work and for anyone who can create it.

And when I can place it on my baby (my own work of art) and display him or her for the day care ladies to coo over -- even better!

Many thanks to Joanne for allowing me to post about the items in her shop -- and many MANY congratulations on her new baby grandson.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fleece on Earth

I have another item for the wish list, and again it's been something I've had my eyes on for years. This time it is the Fleece on Earth striped wish cap and matching star sweater.

The wish cap has a tassel on it with letter beads. You can spell out the baby's name, or any other meaningful word you choose.

I am very fortunate to have members of my family who enjoy knitting and do it very well. My Mom made Ian the most beautiful sweaters and booties and my Aunt Jan made him an amazing bunny cap that was the envy of everyone who saw it.

Unfortunately, I lack something -- time, skill, patience, something -- and I have been unable to make anything but a few mangled lengths of yarn that vaguely resemble scarves. My wallet, on the other hand, has the ability to magically make beautiful things appear on my doorstep with the simple click of the buy button. 'Those who can, make. Those who can't, purchase.'

A wish cap with Evelyn's name on it is definitely in our future. The sweater is a little bit expensive... but I am talking myself into it.

Baby Legs

Next item up for the wish list is Baby Legs!

I found this amazing website and bought some for Sophia on her first Christmas. They are so cute, I am drooling over the opportunity to get some for my little girl!

The only question now is... what color?

I love just about all of them, but I have to admit -- I am a total sucker for the rainbow ones. They are so bright and cheerful.

When I revisited the site recently I realized that they now have a line called "Modish." These don't appeal to me very much but they underscore a recent fashion trend. Brown, pinks, polka dots, and paisley are back. You cannot look at little girl clothes without seeing these colors, and scrap booking materials are covered with them.

Creative Memories actually has a paisley paper punch so that you can punch out your own paisley-shaped pieces of brown and pink paper. I even considered getting one. Which shows you how seductive new fashions can be... even paisley ones.

While I've seen some very cute clothes in these colors (baby legs included) they are just not my thing. I am trying very hard to let this stretch of fashion time pass me by without having too many polka dots invade my wardrobe or photographs.

But Baby Legs leg warmers... these I am really looking forward to. Many thanks to Sam and the Baby Legs team for allowing me to post about them here!

Fathers and sons

Sometimes I think about all the issues that kids have with their parents. Everyone seems to have parent baggage. Misunderstandings, frustrations, hurt, self-doubt. I look at Ian and wonder when it will hit us. Puberty? Or are we sowing the seeds even now?

But then... I look at him again. The way he curls up against me and sleeps. The way he plays with JD. And smiles. And laughs. And who cares about puberty? He is our happy heart now.

He loves to do all the things that JD and I do. He sits on my lap and runs my LotRO characters around, and he plays Rockband with JD. He TOTALLY has the Lars from Metallica thing going. Whenever he plays the drums he sticks his tongue out and looks so serious.

He doesn't quite get the strumming concept but he does understand that if he hits it right he can "break the colors" on the Rockband screen.

I haven't figured out how I feel about raising a gamer, but I suppose it is inevitable. Hopefully some of the writing and engineering love gets passed on as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On the Edge, by Ilona Andrews

One of my newest favorite paranormal/urban fantasy authors is Ilona Andrews. I got sucked into her Kate Daniels series and now she is coming out with what will hopefully become a new series (though at the moment the plan is only for two books). First book up: On the Edge.

Andrews is one of those authors I am really pushing JD to read. The paranormal, fantasy, and horror elements are very strong. The romance elements are understated, serving mainly to ramp up the emotional intensity of the characters. Every time JD acts as Game Master for a World of Darkness campaign I realize all over again how much he would LOVE these books.

To promo the new release the authors are running a contest. To enter I need to post this lovely image on my blog:

Chick with a shotgun. I can't wait to read it! The prize is a Sony eReader... very sweet. (Mom, if I win, this one is for you!)

On their website Andrews is also running a promo and the grand prize is to be in their beta reader's group for the next year. Wow! To enter this contest I have to show proof of pre-order. I hope this will do:

Either one of those prizes would be amazing. I am looking forward to On the Edge. The snippets that Andrews regularly posts on their website already have me emotionally invested in the characters. Especially the two little boys (as I am a bit preoccupied by boy child rearing myself these days).

IF you are interested, you can visit the Ilona Andrews website at Navigate to the Kate Daniels section and you should be able to find excerpts for each of the books. The excerpt for the first book is what hooked me and wow, the rest of the book definitely lives up to the first chapter. And they just keep getting better!

Sleeping like the dead

Over the past month my pregnancy-related snoring has really hit extreme levels (much worse than my non-pregnancy snoring). JD and I have been taking turns sleeping on the couch.

Last night it was my turn to take the couch and it was really quite comfortable until about 4:30 am when the little boy stumbled in and climbed on top of me. Apparently he has decided that his baby sister makes a good pillow. Urg.

Eventually, in the way shared by both children and cats, he ended up with the whole couch and I ended up with the floor. It was time for me to get up anyway so I puttered around quietly, doing my morning routine. Not a twitch out of Ian the whole time. JD got up and also began his, much louder, puttering. Still no twitching.

He was dead to the world.

One of his fingers twitched a little when I took these pictures, but other than that... wow. I am a pretty sound sleeper but this kid has me beat. We dread the day we are trying to get his teenage butt out of bed and onto the high school bus. I told JD we are investing in a fire hose.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Teddy!

Our new cousin, Teddy, was born 11:23pm Friday, September 18th, 2009. He was 6 lbs 15 oz, and 19 3/4 inches long.

It sounds like Mom and baby had a tough time of it. 23 hours of labor followed by an emergency C-Section. From what Mom told me the labor very much resembled the tough time I had with Ian. But, like me, Nic and Gwyn ended up with a beautiful little boy afterwards.

Now the fun really begins! I am trying to imagine what Gwyn must be doing right now. Sleeping (hopefully), figuring out how to breast feed (painfully), and examining the little guy for signs of personality.

I remember with Ian I watched every expression, attempting to divine what kind of person he was going to be. Happy-go-lucky? Serious? Daring? All I could really tell is that he looked grumpy, and he was SERIOUS about eating. Kid latched on like a piranha.

I can't wait to get more pictures of Teddy... from what I have seen he looks tiny and precious. All our love to him, his Mom, and his wonderful Dad. We are so proud of them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

And the winner is...


Current codename: The Little Squiggler

Potential nickname: Eevie (Eve-ee)

Now for middle names...

Mom voted for one of these two:
  • Evelyn Ariana Katrinn

  • Evelyn Asa Katrinn
I need to come up with some more family names from JD's side.

And for fun, here is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time (from The Mummy):

Evelyn: Look, I... I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O'Connell, but I am proud of what I am.

Rick: And what is that?

Evelyn: I -- am a librarian.

Librarians rock! Although I should add the disclaimer that we did not name Eevie after the character in The Mummy. My sister's middle name is Evelyn.

Today is a happy day!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to turn your husband into a cornered animal

I was just thinking that maybe I was a little unfair in saying that JD looked like a cornered animal whenever I tried to bring up the subject of baby names with him. What I should have said was that his wife radar was going crazy and he was looking for the escape route.

For example, I can imagine the conversation going something like this:

Me: What names would you like to add to the list?

JD: I like Tabitha a lot.

Me: Ooo, Tabitha is a nice name… hey, wait a minute.

JD: *wife radar starts beeping*

Me: Wasn’t that the name of that hot chick in high school?

JD: Uh…

Me: Dude! WTF? It WAS the name of the hot chick!

JD: She was really nice.

Me: True. But she was still hot and I KNOW you noticed. Pick another name.

JD: *starts looking like a cornered animal*

So I must admit that any avoidance of the naming subject was not because of a lack of caring… but because he is a very smart and very well trained husband.


What’s in a name?

When Ian was born we let his gender be a surprise. This had pros and cons.

The biggest pro was that when he was born the “It’s a boy!” came as a revelation.

Suddenly all those half-formed imaginings of what life could be like took on color and shape and spread before us in a future. Before that moment all we had was a possibility. After that moment we had a BOY. Ian.

I think JD, Ian, and I all started to cry at the same time. Although I am sure Ian wasn’t crying of happiness, the way his parents were.

The biggest con was that we could do no planning. A couple people who were DYING to buy gender-specific gifts (especially if it was a girl) were quite grumpy with us. We had to make up two lists of names. And when Ian was born, and he was a boy, the girl names and all the half-formed imaginings that went along with them faded away.

I felt a little sad, looking at them, as if those amorphous imaginings actually had a life… we had just somehow failed to turn it into reality. The sad feeling faded quickly in the joys and terrors of figuring out what we DID have – a brand new boy person to take care of – but the list of names still sat there, unused.

For this baby we decided to find out the gender ahead of time. Partially because we wanted to prep Ian so he was not disappointed on B-Day, but also because we needed that little bit of additional control. The illusion that we could foresee and plan our lives in advance. Haha.

Later I was even happier that we were going to find out because Ian really was getting confused. We would refer to the baby as “your little brother or sister” and eventually he decided he was having a little brother AND a little sister.

He would insist on giving both of them a kiss at bed time, which was cute, and he told everyone at the daycare, which was not so cute. Rumors spread from the daycare and soon I had coworkers randomly coming up to me and congratulating me on the twins. Oh no. No, no, no!

When we did the gender ultrasound it was different from finding out Ian’s gender. It was exciting, but still not real. With Ian we found out we had a boy, and we REALLY had a boy – one that we could see and hear and touch. This time all we had was the same little belly bump and a very alien-looking ultrasound image. We went home in a kind of daze. Huh… a girl. Now what?

The only concrete things we could do were shop and pick out names. We went for the names.

Whenever I brought up the subject of names JD started looking like a cornered animal, so I decided to make up a list and have him either add to it or pick ones he liked. This is roughly how we picked out Ian’s name. I came up with the following list:

  • Asa
  • Evelyn
  • Adriana
  • Asling
  • Samantha
  • Nell
  • Emma
  • Mia
  • Riley
  • Andrea
  • Ariana
  • Logan
  • Katrinn
  • Ellisann

JD looked it over and announced he liked the first three, with the current favorite being Evelyn.

I already had a Word file containing just about every name under the sun, along with pros, cons, and meanings, so I moved those three to the top of the file and researched them a bit more.

Hey, documentation is what I do!

Meanings of the name Evelyn

Hebrew: Alive, life
Old French: Hazelnut, bird, the juniper tree
Norman: Lively, pleasant
Celtic: Lively, pleasant
German: Desired
English: Desired, beautiful bird, hazelnut

Meanings of the name Asa

Hebrew: Doctor, healer
Scandinavian: Goddess
Japanese: Morning, born at dawn
Nigerian: Hawk, little hawk
Swedish: Pet name referring to the pantheon of Gods

Meanings of the name Adriana

Latin: Woman from Hadria; dark one

A short time later my Mom, unaware of the list of three, sent me an email of names she had extracted from our family tree.

-----Original Message-----
From: Elisabeth
Sent: Monday, August 24, 2009 10:40 PM
To: Hanna
Subject: names

Skimmed through the Dutch family names, but any attractive ones are pretty thin on the ground. Here are some;

Oma Benders side
Carolina (pronounced Caroleena)
Ineke (pronounced Eenukuh)

Opa Benders side

Then there are the inevitable Gijsbertha, Geertruida, Henrietta, Cornelia, Albertina, Klazina, Trientje, Vassarina, Francina, Neeltje, and the doomed Annetje, who was renamed four times in one family.

There is also a recurring Barbera. One that I'm rather fond of is Antonia Magdalena Louisa, but she married into the family. Had a last name of Vinju. Strange.

Have fun.

Love you

The ones she suggested are really pretty, but the ones that really caught my eye were the horrible ones. They were AWESOME!

I knew how at least one of them was pronounced (Geertruida = Hair-true-dah), but not the others. I demanded a pronunciation guide and she sent me the following:

There is no phonetic corresponding to the ij sound in English. The letters ij do correspond to the y in most other languages, a sort of straggler from the olden days. The closest I can come to it is the ea sound in break.

Gijsbertha = Heas-bear-ta

Klazina = Klah-zee-na

Trientje = Treen-tjuh

Neeltje = Nailt-juh

Or something like that. I don't know
how to do the phonetic stuff. The tje at the end of a name connotes the diminutive. They quite often put it after a girl's name; Annetje, Jannetje. But they also put it after a girl's name if they gave the girl a masculine name like Hendrikje. Lots of those.

There are a few sounds in Dutch that have no corresponding sound in English. The one unique sound that even Germans have trouble with is the "ui" sound. They used passwords and phrases in WWII using that sound. You'll have to ask me to pronounce it the next time you see me. Young children can do a good job at reproducing it, but not after their native language has got a hold on them.

The potential to forever torment my new offspring was enormous. Truly, I would never do such a thing as saddle her with something like Evelyn Gijbertha Hepsibah (Hepsibah is from my Dad’s side) but the temptation is there. If she ever complains about the name we DO give her I will just have to whip out this list.

Once JD comes makes a concrete decision I'll come up with some options for middle names. Ian has a middle name from my family's side so I feel like I should go with some names from JD’s side this time. I will have to think on it, and yes, do more research!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Punk Rock Baby

I am starting my wish list for Baby. First up is this wonderful outfit from lowleepop on

Punk rock. 80's. Space invaders. Unicorns. It is so perfect! I can't wait to hear what the day care ladies say. I can't wait to hear what my MOM says! Definite photo op material.

I wonder if she does matching outfits for moms?

Many thanks to the "Owner/Designer/Rockin' Mama" of lowleepop for letting me post this link!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My birthday!

Okay, I am a bit behind in my blogging (of course). September 7th was my birthday and it was verrrry relaxing.

Mom, Ian, and I went to Elm Park and checked out the Art in the Park. My favorite was the "Saturn" sculpture made out of "found items." It was a huge metal planet made completely out of old farm tools and other metal pieces.

The rest of my birthday was spent basically doing nothing. Friday and Sat JD and I cleaned the house so Monday I just enjoyed the cleanliness, read, and messed around on the PC. JD gave me a gift certificate to Amazon, so I spent a good portion of the evening shopping. It was lovely.

Dipping a toe in the water

AKA: My first personal post.

Labor Day weekend Mom came over on Sunday and we visited Uncle Whit and Kat at UMass. We went to lunch at a Sushi restaurant... which I thought would be a bad idea. I snuck out and got Ian a piece of pizza at Antonio's, but when we got back he actually ate a bunch of my Teriyaki chicken and Miso soup. Go figure! AND he used the chop sticks better than I did -- he actually managed to snag some rice.

After lunch we got dessert at the Black Sheep, which was one of my favorite places 9 years ago when I was UMass. It is still amazing. I had a cream puff, Mom had a fruit tart, and Ian had a cupcake with about 4 inches of cream on top instead of frosting.

After dessert we hung out on a strip of grass across from the bakery. Ian ran Whit ragged around the place, after which they both collapsed. Whit hung on tight to make sure Ian stayed collapsed... or at least in one spot, for a few minutes of rest.

When we got back to Worcester we met JD at Vinny T's for dinner. Ian wanted to sit by JD and paused every now and then to hug his arm and say "I love you Papa." Little guy really knows how to get to us.

After I snapped a few pictures Ian demanded the camera and took the following lovely images. Future Monet perhaps?

I am definitely putting one of those kid digital cameras on his wish list this Christmas. I can't even think of pulling out my camera before his grubby paws are all over it!

A friend of mine scrapbooks with her son and he has created an amazing book already. One of my goals during maternity leave is to print out Ian's pictures and have him scrapbook them himself.

We'll see how much damage we can do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Second day frustrations


It must be human nature. As soon as we are given something that looks cool, but has the potential to be changed, we immediately try to change it.

As a writer, the blogger template “scribe” immediately appealed to me. The word implies ancient tradition and responsibility. It belongs to writers in the unique way that a family tree belongs each of us – a part of our identity and evolution. Plus the template itself has a sweet papyrus design. Irresistible.

Not so exciting were the flower-shaped bullets the template contained.

Bullets are one of the main tools in the technical writing toolbox and so are Serious Business. The happy little flowers had to go.

Clicking through my options, I discovered I needed to change the cascading style sheet (CSS) code in order to return my bullets to a normal bullet-like shape. No problem. I took a grad class in CSS a few years ago. I can do this.

An hour later I was sweating bullets (no pun intended) and combing through Google for answers. Apparently most authors assume that you already know how to create regular bullets, and what you really want to do is replace these bullets with little flowers.

Abandoning Google, I was reduced to deleting random lines of code and checking to see what happened.

  • Eventually I triumphed!

For future use, since I know I will screw it up again, here is the modified code:

.post ul {
.post li {
padding-top: 0;
padding-$endSide: 0;
padding-bottom: .6em;
padding-$startSide: 3px;


It did not take me long to realize that editing posts in Blogger is a nightmare. Whenever I save an edit my post ends up looking like this:

To fix this disappearing/warped text issue I have to first remove all formatting from my post, reapply it, and then publish the post. Long, long process.

Unfortunately the only solutionseems to be: do it right the first time.

Can I handle writing material without going back to edit my posts half a dozen times? Maybe it will be good for me. Ug.

Anon: To be Hanna or Paks?

One issue I did not foresee, and should have, is the issue of online identity. For years I have managed to keep my online handle (Vorpaks) separate from my real life name (Hanna). When creating this blog I used my handle to create it, and my real life name to title it, letting the two identities merge.

Remaining anonymous prevents the following issues:

  • Random strangers knowing intimate details of your life (they will still know, but at least they won’t know whose life it is).
  • Employers and potential employers judging you based on your Adventures in Motherhood, your tendency to post insightful comments on your favorite Vampire Romance forums, or (gasp!) any grammar or spelling mistakes made after a long day of working, bath time, cleanup, and story time.
  • The temptation to give out other people's personal information (names of friends, relatives, etc.).

The problem with remaining anonymous is that I lose the personal touch. Grandparents and Aunts are not going to find the site as meaningful if they are reading about Vorpaks, DH, INC, and Baby.

Since loved ones are the intended audience I am going to make the leap and link my identities together. But, in the interests of safety and privacy, I am only going to use first names. I feel happy with the compromise.

Action items:

At least I got one thing off the list!

  • Research blog etiquette. When it is it okay to link to other sites and blogs?
  • Quote authors and websites?
  • What is my audience interested in reading about?
  • What restrictions does the blogger format have?
  • How do I change these funky bullet points?
  • What is the best way to minimize post editing frustrations?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The first blog post! (AKA first blog specifications)

Hello and welcome! I started this blog on a whim and, totally lacking inspiration for my first post, I am falling back on what will no doubt prove to be my usual standby: my experience as a technical writer.

The first thing I do when approaching a new writing project is to outline the specifications of the document. This serves two purposes: helps me write a clear and cohesive document, and gives me inspiration when I hit a patch of writer's block (even tech writers get that, believe it or not).

Since this is a motherhood journal it should be easy to find inspiration. I have a three year old and another one on the way so I shouldn't have to look farther than knee level. But for those days when I am too tired, or feeling too grey and thinned out, I hope to come back to the following specifications and find the drive I need to continue.



  • Journal the first few months of my daughter's life.
  • Provide a place for Grandparents and other family members to check on Ian and Baby, view pictures, and leave comments.
  • Get back into creative self-expression through writing.
  • Provide an outlet for frustration, excess energy (haha), inspiration, and love during my maternity leave.
  • Learn the technology involved in blogging.
  • Have fun!


Hanna's Motherhood Journal will cover the first few months before Baby is born, as well as the months of my maternity leave. The blog will cover daily thoughts, pictures, and items of interest (not all related to motherhood).

Intended audience:

  • Family members
  • Close friends
  • My children

Action items:

  • Research blog etiquette. When it is it okay to link to other sites and blogs? Quote authors and websites?
  • What is my audience interested in reading about?
  • What restrictions does the blogger format have?
  • How do I change these funky bullet points?
  • What is the best way to minimize post editing frustrations?