Are you pregnant and dizzy?

[UPDATE: Editing this article to fix a link, I cannot prevent it from being re-publicized on Linked In, so I want to reassure readers that at this time (February 2014) I am pregnant.  Dizziness and low blood pressure have been less of a problem for me this time around, probably because I followed my own advice from the beginning this time!]

I’m not–but when I was pregnant, I was dizzy much of the time.  At every prenatal check-up, my blood pressure was lower than the time before, and I have lower-than-average blood pressure normally.

My midwife was unconcerned, and all the pregnancy books agreed that it’s high blood pressure that is dangerous.  Some of the books confirmed that my dizziness was caused by low blood pressure and explained that the low blood pressure was caused by my body making the placenta and transferring water to the baby and thus spreading my fluids through a larger circulatory system than before–but they didn’t tell me what to do about it!  My midwife kept saying that all I needed to do was be grateful that baby and I were in no danger.

In the fifth month, I began to have spells when my vision would go black, my ears would ring so that I could hardly hear, and sometimes I’d completely lose consciousness for a few seconds. That seemed dangerous to me! Read more…

Holy Recycling!

It’s Works-for-Me Wednesday, and it’s also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  If you don’t belong to a religion that observes Ash Wednesday–or even if you do–you may never have thought about where churches get the ashes that are used to draw a cross on each person’s forehead to remind us that our physical bodies are made from dust and will return to dust.  The ashes are made by burning dried palm fronds, and although it’s possible to buy ashes, the tradition is for each church to make its own by burning the palm fronds that were used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration.

I love that.

Not only is it a clever way of getting two uses out of the same material (not recycling, technically, but repurposing) but it’s a way of bringing us full circle, connecting each year to the next, reminding us that the story of Jesus is not a one-time thing but a series of eternal truths to relive every year.  Read more…

Four MORE Weeks of Pesco-Vegetarian Dinners (winter)

Food on Fridays CarnivalMenu Plan MondayHearth & Soul Blog Hop

A pesco-vegetarian is someone who eats no meat except fish.  That’s my family’s policy when we’re at home.  Four weeks of our dinner menus made a popular post, so I’m posting another four weeks.  I hope these are helpful to other people who want to eat less meat but aren’t sure what to eat instead!

We made these meals in January and February.  This winter, we bought a winter farm share in addition to the summer one, so every two weeks we have been getting a crate of produce that was either stored through the winter or grown in a greenhouse.  We also got a mushroom share, which gives us a small paper bag of mushrooms from an affiliated farm, delivered along with our veggie crate. Read more…

Our Recipe Binder

I have seen online many beautiful recipe binders created by full-time homemakers who have master’s degrees in scrapbooking or just great skill in making things look perfect.  Daniel and I are part-time haphazard homemakers, both of whom like to cook, so we have had to come up with a method of recipe storage that works for both of us and fits our shared values by being inexpensive and environmentally friendly.  It doesn’t need to look gorgeous to please us–in fact, it’s better if it doesn’t because I am going to use it while cooking, which means blips of sauce flying in all directions.  (Daniel is much more coordinated than I am.)  Also, it’s important to us to be able to get recipes into our system quickly, without waiting until we get around to making them look nice.

So if you have been craving an organized way to store your recipes, but you don’t want to spend any money on materials or you despair of making anything so pretty as you’ve seen online, you are lucky that I am home sick for the third day in a row and succumbed to a whim to take some pictures with my iPad.


This binder was discarded by my dad’s office.

In 1984. Read more…

The Beauty of a Bus Pass

[UPDATE: Port Authority Transit now offers annual, monthly, and weekly passes or cash debit on the ConnectCard, which you can refill online.  It’s even more convenient than the paper passes were!  Also, we no longer have zones; all trips are the same price.]

In my purse is a 2″x3″ piece of paper that is worth $90.  It may not be the loveliest thing to look at–although this month’s is a nice shade of purple!–but this handy item has a beautiful effect on my daily life.

It is my Port Authority monthly bus pass.  It lets me ride the bus, trolley, or incline anytime I like, anywhere I want to go within the city of Pittsburgh and many suburbs.  All I have to do is flash that card.  I can hop on and off vehicles all day, if I like.  For just one dollar more, I can ride all the way out to the airport and other faraway parts of the metro area.

$90 a month, $990 a year if you pay up front to get one month free.  It might sound like a lot.  But when we tracked the actual fuel efficiency of our hybrid car, I calculated that taking public transit to work saves 37 gallons of gas each year–even for my little three-mile commute–and gas is $3.69 a gallon today, so that’s $136.53 a year; a parking lease in my office building’s garage costs $125 a month, so that’s $1,500 a year; driving to work would cost $1,636.53 a year even before considering the extra wear-and-tear on the car and the higher insurance premium on a car that’s used for commuting.  Read more…

3 Good Children’s Books

Today’s 3 Books on Thursday theme is children’s books, and I am going to limit this list to just 3! Of course, there are many other picture books Nicholas and I enjoyed together when he was 18 months-5 years old, before he started insisting on chapter books for bedtime stories as well as on-the-bus entertainment, but these are 3 that have a special place in my heart because they continued to entertain me even when I was reading them to him 42 nights in a row!

Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber is the story of Ira’s first night away from home, at his friend Reggie’s house next door. Ira is really looking forward to it until his big sister asks if he is going to take his teddy bear. This throws Ira into a dilemma: Will he be able to sleep without his beloved Tah Tah? But what if Reggie laughs at him for still sleeping with a teddy bear? Oh, the agony! I love the dialogue, the dignified way in which Ira finally solves his problem, and the blotchy yet evocative bright-colored illustrations.

I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew is one of the lesser-known books of Dr. Seuss, but it is my favorite! The protagonist has led a carefree life until one day he stubs his toe, and then he begins to have other minor troubles, and a passerby (traveling in a one-wheeler wubble pulled by a camel) offers to take him to “the wonderful city of Solla Sollew . . . where they never have troubles, at least very few.” The journey, however, is fraught with troubles, beginning when the camel gets sick and starts to bubble so our hero has to pull the wubble. Eventually he is “crashing downhill in a flubbulous flood, with suds in my eyes and my mouth full of mud,” and it actually gets worse from there! It never fails to cheer me up by reminding me that my own troubles, whatever they may be at the moment, are not that bad.

A Picture for Harold’s Room by Crockett Johnson is my favorite of the several books about Harold (who appears to be a baby but acts at least six years old) and the big purple crayon with which he draws scenes and walks into them, creating his own reality. My favorite part of this one is when Harold’s use of perspective leads to his horrified realization that he is now only half the size of a daisy. How will he get back to his usual size?! It’s a great story about both the power of imagination and our power over it.

Check out 3 Books on Thursday and Book Sharing Monday for more writers’ favorite children’s books! See my recently expanded article Books That Blew My Mind for 29 of my overall favorite books!