Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dear Old Duke

So far, we don't have much Duke paraphernalia for Desmond - only a Duke mobile and a Duke bib. However, I think his blood must already run true blue.

It's been a rough two weeks with his napping schedule. I don't know if he's teething, going through a growth spurt or what, but all of a sudden it's very difficult to get him to nap for a respectable length of time.

One of the few tricks I've discovered that helps him to sleep is humming the Duke fight song (the same tune that his mobile plays). He will calm down and coo along with me as I hum. He doesn't do this for any other song.

We're pretty proud to have given birth to a Dukie. :-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cloth Diapers

Some people think of me as a "tree hugger" or "granola-ish." To me it's a compliment, even though I don't think I'm nearly hard-core or cool enough to live up to either title. This has come up recently because Desmond's cute little bum is covered with cloth diapers.

I'd like to say that we decided to try cloth primarily because it's "eco-friendly." The truth is my biggest reason for using cloth diapers is to save money. Also, we want to fight a "single serving" mentality.

I'm carrying dozens of freshly washed diapers to Desmond's room.

Please don't misunderstand me. I don't think disposable diapers are evil or that using them makes anyone better or worse for it. We occasionally use disposables. Doing cloth as our primary diaper just seemed right for us.

If you're thinking about going the cloth route, there are a ton of options. A lot of sites go into helpful detail (like here or here or here); I won't rehash what others have already said. Here are a few of my scattered thoughts about diapers thus far:

  • Don't believe cloth-evangelists who say cloth is not more work than disposables. It is. However, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I do a few more loads of laundry each week and it does take a little longer to put the diaper on. But folding diaper laundry is actually kind of fun. It reminds me that my little boy is growing. Plus, it gives you an excuse to watch TV guilt-free while you fold. :-)
  • We're using a combination of pre-folds and pocket diapers. I've been surprised that pre-folds aren't as difficult as I expected. The creation of Snappis, which replace diaper pins, makes pre-folds very do-able.

  • I love using pocket diapers in the middle of the night. They are quicker to put on, which is nice when it's especially cold at night.

  • I'm not totally sold on the idea that cloth diapers are unequivocally and significantly more eco-friendly than disposable diapers. I've read articles which make the case that all the water used to wash the diapers negates the re-usable factor of cloth diapers. I'm not sure what I believe, but it's enough for me to realize that eco-friendliness is not sufficient by itself to be a motivator for me to use cloth diapers.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Grandma to the Rescue

I'm not sure if Grandma (my mom) was rescuing me or Desmond this week.

Recently I decided Desmond needed a snowsuit. Since I'm loathe to pay full price for baby clothes, I went to my favorite local thrift shop to look for one. Indeed, I found a perfectly respectable snowsuit for $10. With a 25% off sale that day, it was all the better for buying.

Unfortunately, it was pink. Desmond doesn't care, so I don't care. However, my mom sprang into action and found a nice, manly snowsuit on Black Friday and mailed it immediately.

Peter still gives his mom grief for dressing him in pink sweatpants once as a kid. Perhaps my mom was rescuing me from future grief instead of Desmond. Thanks Mom!

Bits of This and That

The past weeks have been full. Full of family, eating, growing, working.

- Peter's parents returned to England. We were so grateful to have them in the States for a few months at the start of Desmond's life. Their furlough was planned before we were pregnant. Somehow that divine coordination made their presence here all the sweeter.

- Watching Katie K. joyfully love Desmond without abandon has been a highlight of my week. Desmond is lucky to have such lively, intelligent, spunky aunts who are so full of life and love.

- Somehow Peter has found time to make small steps of progress on the basement. I'm amazed at how he's balancing so many demands in his life right now.

- I decided that I won't be returning to my job in January. It was simultaneously extremely difficult and extremely easy. I'll write more on this later.

- Desmond is smiling now! His smiles melt my heart in ways i never imagined. He even smiles in his sleep.

This is for Pete P. He loves it when I dress Desmond up as anything other than a little boy. ;-)

Life is good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Long and Lean

You can't tell from this photo, but Des is a happy, "long and lean" little guy.

Desmond had a two month check-up last week. He weighed 10 lbs. 5 oz. and was 24 inches long. The doctor pronounced him "long and lean."

I thought seeing him receive the two-month vaccinations wouldn't bother me since he had an IV in the hospital. Wrong! Even though he only cried for 20 seconds, I still found my eyes wet with tears. I guess I'm a softy. I'm OK with that. :-)

Another milestone is that Desmond also rolled over last week! I can see now whey parents get so excited about these small milestones. When a baby can't do anything for himself, it's exciting to watch him slowly gain independence.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Life's a Dance

I live with lots of contradictions in my life. Don't we all? One of these contradictions is that I'm addicted to change, yet as soon as I'm hit with a change I work like crazy to create stability out of it. Despite the fact that I'm always battling to create routine out of change, if my life consisted only of routine tasks I would go crazy!!

For instance, when I started working at TNC I was like a kid in a candy shop. I loved the change in jobs and all the new things I had to learn (there was a lot) in order to function at a basic level. Yet assimilating new information and skills was a means to an end - to make certain problems routine. Making those tasks routine would free me (in theory :-) ) to tackle the new challenges.

This addiction to change will be helpful as a mom. Kids are constantly changing and require you to adapt quickly to their new needs. (As adults we're constantly in flux as well, we just hide it/ignore it better. But that post will have to wait for another day.) Peter and I aren't kidding when we say Desmond changes every few days.

Diapers? We have to fold them a different way now than a week ago. Sleeping? We have to figure out why he now wakes up after three hours at night when before he waited four hours. Crying? Why does he cry inconsolably in the afternoons AND evenings, when in the past it was just the evenings. The list goes on...

What can be frustrating is this new type of problem solving is more of an art form than a science. Since I'm dealing with a little person, there usually isn't a "right" answer. Desmond can't tell me if I'm right or wrong. "Right" answers are especially elusive at 2am. :-) For now I'll take solace in the country song's lyrics,

"Life's a dance you learn as you go.
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.
Don't worry about what you don't know.
Life's a dance, you learn as you go."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

North and South

We've been enjoying lots of time with family this week. Some of Peter's family from Long Island came south to stay in Baltimore for a weekend visit. Also, my dad traveled north for a week-long visit. Desmond is one loved little guy. Here's the family love fest in photos.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gangster Des

Are you talkin' to me?

"I'll beat you both together. I'll beat you both apart!"

That's right...I didn't think you wanted a piece of this.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Food Makes Family

Something special happens when people share food. Eating together, cooking together or giving food to someone creates a special moment. This is why I love cooking for people. My cooking isn't flashy or fancy, but it is a way to share sustenance with people - both through food and through conversation.

That's why it's been particularly touching to me to have people bring us meals when we were in the hospital and after Desmond came home. A special kind of warmth radiated from the meals. The gift of food speaks volumes to the country-girl in me.

On a more practical note, I've also learned a lot of new approaches to portable meals - enchiladas, chili, ham and feta pasta, tamale pie, sloppy joes, wild rice chicken casserole, pork stew, etc. I even tasted cookies from a purple ribbon winner in a 4-H competition! (For those of you who don't know, as I didn't, a purple ribbon is even better than a blue ribbon. It's like saying "this is absolutely the best", not just "this is the best out of this competition".) I've really beefed up (no pun intended) my list of potential meals to take to folks.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us so far, whether through food or other means! And to our DC friends - you need to start having more babies so I can bring you some food!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Feeding Fun

We had an exciting weekend. My mom, Judy, visited for the weekend. We cooked a ton of meals to freeze. She also let Peter and I go out while she watched Des for a few hours. Even though I missed the little guy by the end of the evening, it was great to have an adult-only outing to celebrate Sonia J's birthday!. Historically Peter and I don't do "dates" very well. People insist that we need to make sure to have adult-time now that we have a kid. We're trying to figure out what that looks like for us. This was a good start.

Des also took his a bottle from Peter. I thought he might balk since he hasn't had a bottle since the hospital, but he was very compliant. Peter enjoyed getting to participate in the feeding fun.

On top of all that excitement I also went jogging for the first time in several months. Jogging is probably a generous was more like a slow lope. Still, it provided enough endorphins to be in a goofy-happy haze for several hours!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Anyone who has worked with me, lived with me or spent any significant time around me knows that practically every joint in my body pops. Somehow even my nose can pop. Yeah, it's weird.

We've heard a faint pop a couple of times when picking up Desmond. I don't know if this is normal for babies or not. Considering his mom can sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies, I wouldn't be surprised if it was indeed a joint popping. Hopefully someday he will have patient friends like his mom who will put up with all of his popping.

Desmond likes pushing himself around on the play mat in the mornings.

Babies and hats...too cute!!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Brave Dads

Desmond is now 9 pounds! Good growth from his birth weight of 7 lbs. 11 oz.

I'm discovering there are a lot of great things about the way that husbands take care of babies. Peter is willing to do a test run at all the things that scare me. He was the first to cut Desmond's fingernails, to give him a bath, to burp him vigorously, swaddle him tightly etc. Basically, if there's a task that intimidates me, Peter steps up to the plate and tries it first. I'm so grateful I don't have to do this parenting thing alone!

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Every Morning

Recently I read a great quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered by your old nonsense."

There is some great truth in this quote. As I pondered it, I realized it reminded me of a Bible verse from Lamentations about God's mercy being new every morning.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."

The beauty in both of these quotes is that our present and future doesn't have to be governed by our past. The Bible verse brings out the fact that we can't do it on our own. It's through God's grace and compassion for us that we can abandon our old ways and not be fated to repeat them. I'm so grateful I don't have to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Instead I can exist in the beautiful mystery of where obedience to God and his mercy and grace towards me meet.

This truth has been a great encouragement to me lately as I have so many new things to figure out in life.

Waking up together one morning.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Return of the Belly Button

A lot of weird things happen to your body when pregnant. Some things are more publicized than others, probably to ensure that the human race continues to propagate. :-) One of the changes that freaked me out the most was having my belly button pop out. I know - pretty irrational. But for some reason I felt vulnerable having the little guy sticking out when he should be sticking in. Maybe it stemmed from watching The Matrix too much. (Come on, I'm sure you remember the belly button scene.)

All of this gives you context to understand my relief of the past week as I noticed that my belly button is indeed returning to his "innie" state, just like everyone told me it would. I guess I had to see it with my own eyes to believe it.
P.S. Hmmm, I just realized I call my belly button a "he." Is there a literary term for assigning gender to a gender-neutral object?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Four Generations

Desmond's great-grandparents (Larry's folks) visited for a short while this weekend. It was cute to see four generations of Krafts together. It was the first time Desmond wore a collared shirt. He didn't seem to mind it as much as his father does. ;-)

Four generations of Kraft men - Larry, PopPop, Peter and Desmond

MomMom enjoys holding Des in the rocker my dad gave us.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Six Blissful Days

Today marks Desmond's 6th day at home. He's gained back more than his birth weight and is very strong. We're thrilled at his good health. Unfortunately, my (Katharine) recovery has been slowed by a small hematoma along my incision. So we'll be doing some intense wound care for several weeks, which is rather painful but manageable.

This week we've been busy with the usual activities of diapering, feeding, rocking, not sleeping, etc. It's amazing how quickly your life changes - emotionally, physically and spiritually - all within such a short timespan. As our friend Dave A. said after the birth of their daughter 4 days before Desmond was born, "It's totally worth it." I couldn't agree more.

This may sound odd, but Peter and I were kind of looking forward to the sacrifices that accompany parenthood. The first six years of our marriage have been so much fun. We've delighted in getting to know one another better. There have been so many adventures we've had together and challenges we've overcome together. It's been amazing.

In the past year we started to get the feeling that life was a bit too easy. A bit too centered around pleasing our own desires. It seemed we needed a revolution of some sort. Revolution comes in many forms; ours arrived under the name of Desmond.

God calls us to put others before ourselves. Parenting is a beautiful expression of this concept. Peter and I are reminding ourselves of this high calling as we deal with the loss of continuous sleep, the reconfiguring of relationships, and the uncertainty of the future. I'm grateful for our wonderful son. It makes facing this new challenge a true joy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just one more day

After a week long technology hiatus, I'm mass communicating again! Thankfully Peter has been in much better shape than I have to keep everyone posted on the events of the past week. Despite the challenges of having Desmond spend time in the NICU, it has still been one of the coolest experiences of my life.

The exciting news is that Desmond is now out of the NICU and staying in the regular nursery at the hospital. The doctors want him to finish his antibiotics treatment and then will let him come home Monday evening!

In some ways, I feel like we've had parent-training wheels on during the past week. At first Desmond was closely monitored in the NICU, where nurses did everything for him at first. Then slowly let us change a diaper or give him a bottle here or there. Now that Desmond is in the regular nursery, we are allowed to do everything for him. I'm sure it will sound crazy to me later, but that was a welcome change for us. It feels like we have at least some limited control over his care. Then tomorrow, off come the training wheels and we're on our own!

As for me, I'm recovering really well. It's been a bit overwhelming leaving the hospital and going home, but our family is taking really good care of Peter and me. I won't go into many details about my C-section here, but if you want to know the details just ask me. I will say that I forgot to breathe a few times on the operating table, which gave the nurses a bit of a scare. The slightly morbid side of me found the whole surgery process pretty fascinating.

Thanks for all the supportive emails and phone calls you've sent us. When I was still in the hospital, Peter would read the emails out loud to me each night. It is incredibly comforting and encouraging to have so many people rejoice with us over Desmond's birth.

Hmmmm... As I write this, Peter is holding Desmond and we have just heard his first audible fart. I never thought a fart would sound cute. :-)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We're home

Katharine and I came home from the hospital today (Friday). It definitely felt weird to come home without our son, but the car seat is ready to go as soon as he is ready to come home. Until then, we are visiting about twice a day, interspersed with helping Katharine to recover from the c-section surgery. She is a trooper, and had been doing very well, with minimal pain medication, but she does have a hard time getting up and down stairs and gets worn out very easily.

Desmond is doing very well these days. After a second dose of surfactant, the chemical they used to treat his lungs, he really started doing much better. Today, he finally was allowed to come off of the supplemental oxygen, and he has also begun feeding through his mouth. Both of those things are significant milestones that need indicate he is getting much closer to breathing well in the real world as opposed to an incubator. An optimistic view of his homecoming is that he might be able to come home on Monday after finishing the 7 day course of precautionary antibiotics they have him on.

Now that we are home, we should be able to provide updates more often. Hopefully I can get Katharine to write a bit on the laptop. For now, I'm headed to bed for some much needed rest.

Oh, and I'm also going to post some information about all of the interesting and creative responses I got to our little weight and birth-time puzzle. Here's a teaser...
- Most obscure language: cold-fusion
- Most Simple solution to the weight: just look it up in a database of md5 hashes

Desmond update number 1

Here's the update email I sent out 2 days after Desmond's birth.

Hey Guys... here's the latest.

The initial take on Desmond's breathing difficulties turned out to not be entirely accurate. After about a day in the NICU, his need for supplemental oxygen began to increase where it should have decreased. This led the doctor's to believe that he has Respiratory Distress Syndrome. That basically means that his lungs are immature and are not able to absorb all of the oxygen that he needs.

Despite this being a setback, considering our initial impression of his condition, in actuality it means that only now are the doctors able to treat him correctly. They performed a small procedure to treat his lungs, and he showed instant improvement. So, for day 2, he has shown steady improvement. The treatment for Respiratory Distress Syndrome is straightforward and generally very successful. We have been told that his recovery should not be in doubt, only the amount of time it takes for him to get up to full strength. Even though we are very concerned for him, we have become convinced over the last 2 days that he is receiving excellent care by professionals who are both talented and compassionate.

Katharine is recovering well, and we should go home on Friday. We probably won't be able to take Desmond with us right away, but we are very grateful to live only 2 miles away from the hospital, so we can visit very easily. From here on out, to avoid spamming a lot of people, we will probably just post updates on our blog...

Thanks so much for all of the support. We feel very loved and cared for, and we feel that Desmond is coming into a world that, despite many challenges, will show him a lot of love as well. Please continue to pray for his full recovery.

Take care,

PS. On a lighter note, the little heart shaped shield that they use to cover up Desmond's groin area during his many chest x-rays is actually called "The Gonad Protector". For a minute, I thought the nurses were complementing my son when they were talking about protecting the gonads. Turns out, Gonad is a highly technical medical term, but I always thought it was just slang.

The Krafts have a baby

Here's the text of the email I sent out announcing the birth of our son. So far, there have been several people who were on the email bcc line that not receive it, so I apologize if you were expecting an email but have been in the dark until now.

Hey Everybody,

I am pleased to announce the birth of Desmond Knight Kraft. Desmond was born on Monday, September 8th, and weighed in at a veryrespectable weight. After 8 hours of induced labor without any progress, the doctor decided to go with a c-section. Katharine is definitely my hero... she was awesome from start to finish.

Unfortunately, Desmond is in the NICU right now. He was having a hard time breathing due to an excess of fluids in his lungs, so they are feeding him extra oxygen to help his lungs catch up. It's a minor concern, and we expect a quick recovery, but we would still appreciate your prayers for this situation.

We are very grateful for everyone's encouragement, advice, and prayer. Of course, this is only the beginning of a crazy new adventure, and we hope that everyone of you can get to know little Desmond soon. His life will surely be richer if he has the opportunity to know you.

We are at Inova Fairfax Hospital and would be happy to receive visitors if you can spare a minute to stop by. I'll also be sending out an update when we (hopefully) find out that Desmond is 100%. For future updates, you can visit:

Take care,

Baby's Birth Weight = X pounds, Y ounces
Baby's Birth Time = HH:MM:SS

MD5sum(X) = 8f14e45fceea167a5a36dedd4bea2543
MD5sum(Y) = 6512bd43d9caa6e02c990b0a82652dca
MD5sum(HH:MM:SS) = 47350265dd94444790732a97466c1389
All values in ASCII, no whitespace included.

If you feel like it, email me the the true values of X and Y for a prize. Email me the correct value of HH:MM:SS for the big one. The first correct answer gets bragging rights. If you include code/commands, the shortest implementation gets cool points (these tend to be worth a lot in our household).

If you have no idea what any of this means, sorry... check the blog in a few days if you are curious.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Facts of Life

It's good I've been reflecting on the "big picture" because we found out on Friday that my induction date has moved up a week! The current plan is to induce labor on Monday, September 8th (my mom's birthday!). We're taking this week to relax and have fun as much as possible before we enter the temporary tunnel of chaos that comes with being new parents.

In the meantime, I'm still reflecting on my last few days of being pregnant....

Did any of you watch the TV show "The Facts of Life" in the 80's? Remember the theme song?

"You take the good,
You take the bad,
You take them both and there you have the facts of life.
The facts of life."

This is true for pregnant life as well.

I try not to get touchy when people say careless things to me while I've been pregnant. I give the benefit of the doubt that certain things are said with the best of intentions, but sometimes I think, "Come on people, use your brains!" These are just a few things people have actually said to me in the past month or so.
  • "You're still here!?" - at 32 weeks from a co-worker who doesn't even know me well
  • "Wow, you're still finding clothes that fit you!" - at 35 weeks from a dude at work
  • "Should you be eating that?" - in response to my eating many different things from dark chocolate to rum cake.
But there are also perks of being in your third trimester.
  • People acknowledge your existence. In the DC area people tend to keep to themselves. I'm not sure if it's because we're all wrapped up in our own lives/problems or if people were raised that way or if it's just peer pressure. In any case, when you're pregnant people look you in the eye, say hello, and even offer an unsolicited smile! It's a great way to feel connected to the human race.
  • I am almost always offered a seat on the Metro! You may remember an earlier post about my surprise when Metro riders didn't offer me, a pregnant lady, a seat. That no longer happens.
  • Random offers of help. Random strangers now offer to carry groceries for me, take packages out to my car, let me go in front of them in long shopping lines, etc.
Just like anything in life, I'm taking the good and the bad and that's a fact of life!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Big Picture

When I did Project WILD in college (a 2-week minimalist backpacking trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains), someone gave me this advice: "Look up! When hiking, don't focus on your next step to the point where you forget to look up and see the beautiful nature all around you." It's a life reminder that I've needed lately.

You see, I'm not a detail-oriented person. I have to work at overcome this shortcoming. I make lists. I double and triple check my SQL and SAS code to make sure I didn't exchange a greater-than sign for a less-than sign. I try to be disciplined in re-reading emails before sending them to catch grammar/spelling errors. Did I say lists? Lots of lists... It seems like life runs by the details. If the details are left undone, the big picture plan can't be accomplished.

I understand details are important, but oh how I love the big picture! It's what motivates me, drives me and most importantly inspires me in life. I relish how all the pieces fit together in the overall scheme of things. If I don't keep a balance of details vs. the big picture in my life, things don't run smoothly.

This week I realized I need to remember the big picture of my life right now. There have been a lot of details to care for in preparing for the baby. I've become so caught up in how to best organize all the baby stuff we've so gratefully received, how to launder cloth diapers, how to best manage my ever-decreasing energy to maximize my productivity, etc. that I've forgotten to marvel at the beautiful big picture that we're having a baby! That our lives will be forever changed and, while painful at times, this change will be deeply satisfying. That the we will learn about ourselves and our Creator through the joys and sacrifices of parenthood.

If I don't get a chance to re-read the key sections of the baby books or if I don't have the baby's room organized - it won't matter! Our baby will still be an amazing gift from God. He will still come home to parents who love and care for him. The miraculous mystery of life will still have taken place.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Since when is this "routine"?!

This morning as I worked at my desk, I realized the baby had been kicking a lot and I hadn't even really been paying attention!! If you had told me that two months ago, there's no way I would have believed it. I guess you can get used to almost anything.

By the way, congratulations to my friends Mike and Lisa Law. They had their second child, Jonathon Michael Law on Sunday. Another playmate for my son and me!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Charlie - the other man

Some of you may be shocked to hear that I have another man in my life. No, it's not my unborn son (yet!)'s my 1992 Subaru Loyale named Charlie. I've been driving Charlie since 1997. He was my first (and only) car, lovingly given to me by my dad.

Peter changing Charlie's spark plugs

Since I now take public transportation to work, I don't drive much. However, this weekend I spent several hours driving around the DC area. The time in my car I was reflecting on how much I appreciate Charlie and how I hope he lasts for years to come.

Why do I love my beat-up, 16 year old car? Since you asked....

  • Visibility. My blind spots in this car are few and far between. Good visibility will be high on my list if we ever have to replace Charlie. Trust me, a pregnant lady really appreciates not having to twist her torso in order to see traffic behind her.
  • Great A/C. I don't know how he does it, but my little car's air conditioning is even better than the A/C on our 2005 Subaru. I guess they just don't make 'em like they used to.
  • Reliable. Yes, Subaru's are reliable in general (another important quality in a car), but Charlie goes above and beyond. In 11 years I've only broken down on the side of the road once.
  • Durable interior. Thanks to Armor All, the interior still looks pretty good. (I love Armor the point where I use it as a verb. "Peter, have we armoralled the cars lately?")
  • Takes curves at speeds most cars can only dream of. Subaru + Mountain Girl. Need I say more?
  • Doesn't go much faster than 60. Some people might see this as a detriment, however, if you can't go over 60 without the car shaking a bit, it actually makes driving more relaxing. You're not constantly evaluating if you should pass the car in front of you or change lanes, etc.
Lest you think I'm totally biased (instead of partially biased!), Charlie has at least two shortcomings.
  • He leaks oil. I think all older Subaru's are fated to this state. At least all the old Subaru's our family has ever owned.
  • No cup-holder. Oh I live for the day to have a sturdy, stable cup-holder built into my car! I tried the attachable ones, but it's just not the same. Charlie's successor will definitely have a cup-holder.
So, let's all raise a glass to Charlie's health. May he live long(er) and prosper!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Life and Death

The past week has been full of celebrating life and death for our family.

Peter's grandmother, Babci, died last Monday. Deciding it was best not to make a long trip so late in my pregnancy, I stayed in VA. Thankfully Larry, Stephanie, Katie and Peter were able to converge on Long Island from various parts of the world to attend the funeral. Babci lived a beautiful life that touched so many people. During my short visits with her over the past 8 or 9 years, she taught me so much about being a loving wife, about rejecting self-pity and getting satisfaction from embracing life's challenges, about loving Jesus through the big and small choices we make in everyday life, and much, much more. I'm grateful for every second I was able to spend with her. Katie has written a beautiful reflection about Babci on her blog.

As for celebrating life, amazingly we still had a family baby shower for me on Saturday. Somehow our Long Island relatives summoned the strength to come down for the shower the day after Babci's funeral. So we celebrated Baby Kraft's pending arrival in the midst of Knights, Krafts, Entresses, Gronaws, Cleckners, Kolhenbergs, and Paredes's. People were incredibly generous in helping equip us for the little bundle of joy that's coming in mid-September. But more importantly, they showered us with love, prayer and support - reminding Peter and me that we won't walk the path of parenthood alone.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Lately I've hung out with some people I previously only knew at arm's length. Peter and I had a lot of fun getting to know these folks better. It has me reflecting on how special it is when we open up with other people and examine the complexities of life together.

I've enjoyed myself so much that it reminded me of what a strong extrovert I am. Extroverts can be characterized as people who get energy from being around other people; this definitely applies to me. For me, quantity is doesn't always win over quality. One hearty conversation where we grapple in trying to understand life, ourselves and each other is more satisfying to me than a dozen small-talk conversations.

It's so difficult to see the world through eyes other than our own. I'm delighted when people push me to consider an alternative view, position or experience. It doesn't have to result in changing my stance or opinion on an issue. In fact, sometimes the best encounters are ones that make me reflect on my beliefs and leave me holding them more strongly. The beauty is that they have been pushed, prodded, questioned and tested. It's not always comfortable, but it's a much more real way to live life.

All of this is to say that I'm grateful for my friends and family - both new and old - who spur me on to step outside of myself. Thank you!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Biding Our Time

I haven't written in a while because there's not much to report on. It's not that we haven't been doing things. I just have a lot of half-formed reflections and thoughts that aren't ready to make it onto the blog yet.

To keep ourselves busy we've been doing final baby research on stuff like cribs, cloth diapers, etc. Sometimes it amuses me how hard we're working to make informed decisions about baby products. I wonder how many opinions we'll revise once we have even a mere two days of experience under our belts.

Peter has been working hard on the basement. With me recovering from my cold and being very tired lately, he's been on his own pretty much. He's put up practically all the drywall (just two tiny and tricky pieces left) and about 90% of the ceiling is in place. We'll start looking into carpet soon. Hopefully Peter won't have to frame the doors and put up the baseboards before we get the carpet installed.

Between the basement and baby preparation, we are finding pockets of time to go out for a movie, grab a milkshake, toss the frisbee a bit, etc. Life is good.

Only six more weeks to go!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Third time is a....?

I've come down with a cold for the third time since being pregnant. Three times in less than nine months! Seriously - what's going on here?!?

At least I'm not sick while pregnant AND raising a sick toddler AND packing up/moving to a new apartment AND having my husband start a new job like my friend Lisa was managing back in June. Now that's an impressive display of fortitude.

I'll just try to relish this last chance at being sick when I only have myself to care for. Hmmm, sounds like a great reason to treat myself to another scoop of ice cream!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Seeking Faithfulness

I enjoy the random musings of the blog Seeking Faithfulness. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon it. I don't know this woman personally, but have been inspired at times by her perspective on being a mother and a Christian.

Her most recent post about following our life's passions stirred my heart. I can relate to her sentiments of not having a natural bent for children. Reading about how God has changed her heart and mind through the process of having her own children inspires me to consider how my own life will be changed. While I might not relate to a desire to have eight children, I do relate to the idea that we should abandon our personal presumptions when asking God what He wants to do with our life.

I'd encourage you to check our her blog and read her most recent post. "Whose Passions? His? Ours?" You never know how someone else's perspective might affect your own.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Proud to be a Wet Blanket

On Friday I there was a delay on the Metro, so I took an earlier stop and waited at a shopping center for Peter to pick me up. A local news crew was loitering outside the Metro, finding people to interview for a nightly news segment. Their eyes lit up when they saw me, a pregnant lady, walking by. Since I wasn't in a hurry, I let them interview me.

The topic was rising prices. The local electric company will be raising their rates by 18% in the coming months. They wanted to get my opinion. I think I was a wet blanket on the type of story they were hoping to get from me.

They pepper me with many versions of the same question. Was I outraged at the price hike? How was I, a pregnant woman, going to make it with rising prices? With gas, food - heck *everything*, costing more, was I scared about the thought of having my baby with the skyrocketing costs? How would I adjust? What types of hardships would I face?

Since their questions were basically from the same vein, so were my answers. Yes, rising costs mean we'll have to sacrifice. We'll have to cut back. We'll have to conserve our resources. However, there are very few Americans who don't have luxuries they can remove from their life to accommodate our changing world. Will I have to change my lifestyle? Yes. Is that an outrage? No.

Don't get me wrong, there are injustices in how our economy prices goods and services. I just don't see a lot of good in making a blanket statement of outrage. In reality, we all need to balance of sacrifice/frugality with fighting the specific injustices.

They couldn't seem to accept this perspective. I think I disappointed them. No heart-tugging sound bite of a pregnant lady's sacrifices to air on the news.

Next time I get irritated with the "whiny citizens" on the local news, I'll stop to question if it was really the news crew who had an agenda.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Do What I Don't Want to Do

I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster that accompanies pregnancy. I fancy myself as someone who can fully embrace emotions while still being controlled about it. Since becoming pregnant, I definitely have days where I lose this (semblance of?) control. Usually, these "bad" days are triggered by me not being able to handle simple changes to a plan or schedule. For some reason, I can't seem to let go of my own expectations and roll with the new plan. It will take me hours to recover from something as silly as changing the meal plan for the week.

One of the oddest parts of this experience is that occasionally I am fully aware of how irrational, disproportionate and unkind my reaction is in the very moment of my reaction. Yet I don't stop. I keep on sulking or angrily responding.

Thankfully others are quick to forgive my outbursts. I've learned to show myself grace in these situations as well, despite my disappointment with myself. These reactions have piqued my curiosity about times where we act one way, knowing full well we should act differently and even wanting to act differently. It's as if I'm acting out a dramatization of Paul's words in Romans 7, watching myself do what I don't want to do.

It's amazing to think that we have the power to be different. That we don't have to succumb to our rebellious, prideful, stubborn, tendencies. Maybe we don't get it right all the time, but there is hope that through Jesus we can be different and choose to react differently.

My emotional reactions during pregnancy are an amplification of my non-pregnant tendencies and reveal a lot about myself. While I may not like the picture they sometimes paint, I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn from it for the future.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


"Congratulations...for choosing to register at Babies R Us!"
Those were the words that greeted us as we sat down to start a registry. I've heard a lot of funny comments since being pregnant, but this is one the most hilarious so far.

Next time I'm feeling down, I should remember to commend myself! hahaha...

Monday, June 30, 2008


I am an alien. Or at least I feel like one. It is terribly strange to sit at your desk and watch/feel your stomach morph into different shapes.

Did you ever see the movie Alien? I don't know how I conned my folks into letting me watch it when I was a kid. It terrified me and gave grown-up" movies a bad wrap in my mind for several years. (Maybe that was mom and dad's plan all along.) I don't remember much else, other than the scene where a woman is wrapped in goo and one of the aliens hatches inside her body and breaks through.

With all the weird ways in which this baby moves around inside of me, I feel like that lady.

I hear that Weeks 24-28 of pregnancy are when the baby feels the most active. He is small enough to wiggle around, but big enough for me to feel it. Give him a couple more weeks and he'll get lodged into more stationary positions.

Until then, I'll continue to block that scene from the movie out of my mind. :-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Morning Walks

It's been almost three weeks since I took the bus to work in the morning. With the dads in town, a heat wave, and running errands after work, I just haven't needed my morning bus ride.

This morning I walked to the bus stop I was struck by how getting outside, even for just a 15 minute walk, is good for my soul. That sounds a bit over-dramatic, but I'm serious. Walking through the woods in our suburban neighborhood watching the birds and squirrels and chipmunks restores a balance inside of me. I feel more alive and satisfied with my life.

Even though I enjoy a nice jog, I've never been able to successfully enjoy jogging in the mornings. A brisk walk, however, is quite delightful. Just enough to wake you up without wearing you out.

If adding a short walk to your life means getting off the bus one stop earlier than normal or parking in a parking further down the street from your destination, I say it's worth it!

Friday, June 20, 2008


A couple of weeks ago DC had our first heat wave of the summer. The temperature hung around 99; the heat index made it feel like 107.

Peter and I made the decision to run errands one afternoon during a sweltering day. Between running back and forth between our air-conditioned car and the air-conditioned store, I figured we would be fine. The heat quickly got the better of me. I wilted and Peter had to push the grocery cart and wait for me while I sat in Best Buy recovering from the walk across the parking lot.

I think this was the first time I've felt physically vulnerable since being pregnant. I had take precautions (e.g. carrying a water bottle, sitting in air-conditioning, etc.), but that wasn't enough. If left in the middle of the heat, I couldn't have made it on my own.

I didn't like this feeling of vulnerability. It annoyed me. It made me feel weak.

And yet, I am so fortunate to have such a "safe" glimpse of what truly vulnerable people in the world feel every day. People who can't defend themselves. People who don't have a voice to stop injustices done to them. People who cannot physically resist their enemies.

How fortunate I am.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Art in Creation

I never though that writing SAS or SQL code would compare to writing a paper. I've been deep in developing a new report during the past few weeks. The similarities have been striking.

When I wrote papers in college, usually the assignment was quite vague. Something along the lines of "pick a topic about X and write on it." Choosing the right topic was half the battle. Specific yet with enough room to play with my own thoughts on the matter. Something people had considered, but not overly considered.

Then I would be off to the library like a pioneer in search of a new road through the mountains. Exploring where others had already tread, trying to find my own way at the same time. After hours of reading and note taking, I would wrestle with my own opinions about the topic. Then, after sleeping on it for a few days where my subconscious was exploring different theories and approaches, I would sit down and give birth to a paper.

It was a thrilling process for me. Usually I love every minute of it, but especially the research and the percolating phases.

I've come to see that writing analytical reports is not that different. The client has a vague idea of what they want. A general question that should be answered. They don't know how to best answer it though. It's up to me to see how similar questions have been answered before. To wrestle with the nuances of this particular problem. To find ways of answering the question that the client has never even thought of.

Then it's time to write the code. Usually the first round of code-writing gets at 90% of what is needed. The last 10% requires the most work though. It's where I become a detective, trying to think of how many ways can I break the report. How many irregularities can I tease out of the data? What do those irregularities mean for the client? In many ways, this detective process is the same as proactively combating opposing arguments to the thesis of your paper.

Both in paper writing and report coding, I am the creator and the artist.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The other day a female co-worker who has several children in elementary school was chatting with me about being pregnant. She made a comment about remembering how happy she was when she was pregnant. This is a down-to-earth, sensible woman who has a successful career and I wouldn't necessarily guess as being a mom.

Her comment has stuck with me. I've been surprised at how harsh I can be since I've been pregnant. If I think something unkind, I'm much more likely to say it than run it through the "Katharine-filter" which can neutralize the sharpest of criticisms.

Despite that fact, I still think I'm generally happier now that I'm pregnant than before. Despite the uncertainties of life with a baby, the physical discomfort, the overwhelming decisions,, I feel a contentedness that I can't quite explain. It's as if the world is progressing just as it should and life is falling into place. Even if all the baby stuff doesn't get purchase or I gain more pregnancy weight than I want to or I don't get as much done in a day/week/month than I will all be OK.

When we decided try the "kid-thing," we hadn't overcome many of our reservations. We took a leap of faith, believing that in light of all the sacrifices children require we didn't understand the joy and happiness that parents profess, that there was something just *right* about having kids.

Our little boy isn't here yet, but I already feel that this was the right thing to do. The happiness in my heart confirms it.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Heat Lightning

Have you ever seen heat lightning? I love full-fledge thunderstorms, so heat lightning always puzzled me a bit. It's just a faint hint of the full power that lies behind a thunderstorm.

That said, I'm a sucker for any type of lightning. So as a kid I still enjoyed looking for those unexpected flashes of heat lightning. (I think it's a lot more common in the mountains than in NoVA.) The anticipation built, as I waited for a brief glimpse of a well-lit sky.

I've had a similar feeling of anticipation lately when the baby kicks. He is getting bigger and stronger, but I don't always feel his movements clearly. At night when I go to bed is the best chance of feeling a definitive kick. It's a lot of fun. I imagine him doing all sorts of soccer moves or karate chops. Sometimes I imagine him swimming around in there like a goldfish.

I'm never fully satisfied with what few kicks I can feel. It's as if he's teasing me, only giving me a taste of what's to come. I realized there are a lot of parallels to heat lightning. I wait with anticipation, enjoy the experience, but am left slightly dissatisfied, still hoping to experience the "real thing."

I'll just keep waiting patiently.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pregnancy and Public Transportation

Public transportation and pregnancy make for an odd couple. I take the bus and Metro to work. Each day I get to encounter interesting pockets of Northern Virginians. The Metro tends to be middle to middle-upper class white collar workers. The bus system has a wider variety of people, but mostly blue collar or international folks. One day during the first 15 minutes of my bus ride I heard 4 different languages before English was ever spoken! My friend Jacque put it well in saying something to the effect of, "On the Metro you see polished, pretty-face America, while on the bus you see real life.

Now that I'm visibly pregnant, it's been interesting to see how others treat me in public. For instance, almost always if I am standing on the bus, a man offers me his seat. There's a very defined sense of treating pregnant people, women with children and older people kindly on the bus.

The Metro is a different story. Only once has anyone offered me a seat on the Metro. I don't think it's that people are cold-hearted. I think they are just consumed by whatever they are reading or thinking about and it never even crosses their mind.

What's even more interesting to me is how differently I feel when someone gives up their seat for me on the Metro vs. the bus. On the bus, I am grateful and relieved. I feel like the man who gave up his seat for me is now receiving admiring looks from the other passengers. Both of our statuses are exalted in different ways. On the Metro, the one time someone gave me their seat, I was surprised to find myself a little embarrassed. I don't know if other people even noticed the man who gave me his seat. Even though he was incredibly kind about it, I felt a little ashamed. Almost as if by taking the Metro, I'm agreeing to not be treated any differently. A nagging feeling said, "If you can't make it on your own, you shouldn't be out here."

I know, I know - that's silly. It sure is interesting to see how we internalize our environment differently.

P.S. For the record, I have yet to ask someone to give up their seat for me. I've practiced several times in my head, but nothing to show for it yet. :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reincarnational Trees

The changing of seasons usually leads me to reflect upon how the life cycle of a tree is not that different from our own.

In spring, flowering trees announce themselves to the world. They are full of color and pluck like a child who does not yet care what the world thinks of him or her. The flowers give way to fresh green leaves that have a newness about them. They are full of new life and chirping birds, reveling in spring. I think of this like our 20's, when we still have a spring in our step and haven't been jaded by too many disappointments. That fresh green begins to dull in the heat of the summer. The trees are working hard at the task given to them; produce and store up for the harder times. Then in fall, like people who energetically embrace the transition into their retirement years, the trees heave out the last breath of life with an explosion of vibrant color. It's as if they are paying homage to the hard work of the middle-aged years of summer. Winter comes and the trees fall silent and pass into the hinterlands of their temporary death.

I used to see this year-long cycle of the trees as a parallel to the life of a human. This morning I rethought that analogy. Is life ever linear? Do we ever transition from one phase to another a clean break, never to revisit the past? That's not how my 28 years have played out so far. Instead, I'm constantly cycling through phases of life. Sometimes I regain a wonder for the newness of the everyday mundane tasks of life. Other times, even though living, I go through the motions of my life with a deadness in my heart and mind.

But the trees are like that too. Their lives are continuous cycles of death and rebirth. Sometimes spring is short and winter is long. Other years the celebration of Fall goes on weeks longer than normal. Why must the pluckiness of youth be limited to my teenage years? Can I not regain it in my middle-age?

I want my life to be like a tree's life, reincarnated with seasons.