My Little Garden

    My office has no windows.

    When I go into my classroom to teach and find it flooded with natural light from real windows, I breathe a sigh of relief.

    Windowless rooms are seriously the worst. My main career goal right now is to eventually move my office to the other side of the hallway where the rooms have huge windows and are drenched in sunlight.

    But that is probably a few years out…

    Until then, I have a lovely spacious office with no natural light and TONS of shelves. When I first moved in, there were FIVE full-size bookshelves in my office. I actually had the facilities team remove two of them, because I found them daunting. The empty shelves were making me anxious.

    So now I am down to three huge bookshelves. For most professors, especially an English professor, it would be easy to fill these shelves with books, books, and more books, but I am not your average professor. I am a minimalist professor who sells books every chance I get. I only keep textbooks for classes currently in my teaching rotation. I only keep scholarly books I will likely consult in the future. I only keep fiction or non-fiction books if I actually plan to read them with the next year. When I finish a book for fun, I instantly sell it on Amazon, unless I honestly think I will re-read it in the future. There are so many books in the world I want to read, I only keep a tiny collection of texts to read twice.

    So that makes filling three huge bookshelves a daunting task. I probably have 50-ish books in my office and at least ten of them are posted for sale on Amazon and could be shipped off any day now.

    So what does one use to fill those looming shelves?

    Plants, of course.

    I see all you ladies on Instagram, filling your houses with fiddle fig trees and ferns and ivy and succulents and air plants. They look clean and healthy and beautiful.

    But remember my crucial problem… no natural light in my office. And even if I had one of the sunlight-drenched rooms across the corridor, I would probably still kill any real plants in my care, because I have the blackest thumb in the universe. I have killed more succulents than you can imagine. Yes, those hearty plants that need little water or care. I can decimate them in just a few weeks. The only plant I have ever kept alive is a Christmas Cactus from my second grade science project. That thing lasted for over 20 years, but a room full of Christmas cacti is not the aesthetic I’m going for.

    A botanist told me I might be able to get a snake plant to survive in my window-less office, but that still wouldn’t be enough to fill my looming, empty shelves. By the end of fall semester, I was getting slightly embarrassed about the state of my office. I had a few meetings with other staff and faculty there, and they would eye my mostly empty shelves skeptically. Who was this professor with a few measly books, a pile of papers, and a cardboard box sitting on her gorgeous mahogany shelves? One day the dean walked in and exclaimed, “Wow! You really are a minimalist!”

    At that point, I quickly added “decorate office shelves” to my list of goals for 2017. I got started right away in January, because I wanted my office, windows or no windows, to be a pleasant place for students or faculty who visit it.

    I saw this Instagram picture, which led me to this blog post, and I decided I could use these three steps to make my office shelves look good, despite not wanting to keep tons of books on them.

    Plants were essential for the look I was going for, so I started scouring the internet for the most attractive faux plants I could find. I bought a few sets and figured I would divide them up, putting some of them in the equally dark and minimalist writing center.

    Here’s what I found and loved…

    White ceramic potted succulents (very small, but super cute)…

    Succulents in round glass vases (these ones are slightly bigger and I really like them)

    Amazing faux succulents from Nordstrom (these are even bigger)

    Another set in cement pots (I haven’t see them in person yet, but they look awesome!)

    And of course, Ikea plants for good measure…

    With all my fake foliage, my office is no longer an utter embarrassment. I still have a few shelves to fill though, so my next step is to buy some fun new artwork.


    Saturday Snippets

    An essay on when the children are young

    Wanting to get back into wearing a watch

    Some encouragement to show your cards

    An interesting infographic on English Language Learners in the U.S.

    Why girlfriends are a gift from God

    For those with a truly black thumb (like me!), these faux succulents are so cute…

    A list of areas in your home to declutter

    Christians, we must recapture the idea of feminine excellence

    And an excellent post on how we can ensure women are honored in the church

    Why I am comfortable encouraging my students to get an English degree

    I love my friend’s post about owning and loving a small home

    What type of exercise is best for the brain?

    Currently reading

    A raw post about the process of adoption

    A fascinating read on the gendered language of fiction


    Pregnancy Math

    I have been wanting to write this post for years, but it’s only appropriate and justified coming from an author who is at least 30 weeks pregnant.

    I am currently clocking in at 35 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

    I have gained at least 30 pounds.

    My back hurts and my ankles are swollen.

    And, therefore, I am a credible author for this post…

    Ladies, please stop saying you are “10 months pregnant” or that pregnancy lasts for ten months. It’s simply not true. I am not a mathematician by any means, but I think we can do some simple addition to verify that a full-term pregnancy lasts right around nine months, just like all the books and doctors say.

    Here is the thing… we measure pregnancy in weeks. Your doctor gives you a due date that is 40 weeks from the date of your last menstrual cycle. 4 weeks does not equal a month unless it’s February. Every month is 30 or 31 days, and therefore approximately 4.5 weeks, so your 40 week pregnancy is not ten months long.

    I will agree with you on this fact. Pregnancy math is weird. The medically-recognized human gestation period is the kind of math that made me cry in high school. It doesn’t really make sense.

    Pregnancy = 40 weeks.

    But you aren’t really pregnant for the first two weeks, because you typically conceive 10-14 days after the start of your last menstrual cycle.

    So for the first two weeks of pregnancy, you aren’t actually pregnant. From the point of conception to your due date = 38 weeks (definitely not ten months).

    Then there is the whole trimester thing… why would you take a number that is not divisible by 3 (either 40 or 38 weeks) and decide that pregnancy should be counted in trimesters? Ridiculous.

    If you want to divide your pregnancy into trimesters, your first trimester ends at 13 weeks and 2 days and 8 hours, your second trimester ends at 26 weeks, 4 days, and 16 hours, and your third trimester ends on your due date (if you have surrendered to the whole fake 40 week gestation period in the first place). That’s just awkward. “Hey! I’m 26 weeks, 4 days, and 16 hours pregnant… hello, third trimester!” That’s not a catchy Instagram caption.

    I will admit in the past some women may have reached ten months of pregnancy. Before we had such stringent medical policies in place, there were times when women would go WAY past due. I heard of one mom, back in 70s, who had a baby at 43 weeks. That’s still not technically ten months, but it’s close enough that I’ll let her claim it. But now research shows the chances of stillbirth go up significantly after 42 weeks of pregnancy, so if you are birthing a child in the U.S. you probably won’t ever have a pregnancy remotely close to ten months long, even with the most chill midwife ever.

    The easiest way to see that pregnancy is really only nine months long is by doing some simple math. Add the number of months from your estimated conception date to your baby’s due date or birthday. Here are some examples from my three children…

    Zianne // conceived on or around December 19th, born on September 21st at 9 days past due (total pregnancy duration: 9 months and two days)

    Talitha // conceived on or around September 16th, born on June 12th one day early (total pregnancy duration: 8 months and 27 days)

    Baby #3 // conceived on or around July 23rd, due April 15th (estimated pregnancy duration: 8 months and 23 days)

    There you have it… some simple pregnancy math from the least number-savvy person in the universe. I seriously despise math, but I can’t handle one more woman complaining about being ten months pregnant. You are not and will not ever be ten months pregnant. I assure you.

    Don’t get me wrong… do I feel ten months pregnant these days? Sometimes. Do I feel like I haven’t worn regular clothing in at least ten months? Yes. Do those hazy days of feeling nauseated and exhausted during my first trimester seem like they were at least ten months ago? Sure.

    But I praise God every day that I will never actually know what ten months of pregnancy feels like… and you won’t either. Four weeks does not equal a month and trimesters are a silly way to divide up a pregnancy, but take comfort in this fact. Lord-willing, you will only be pregnant for nine months give or take, and God will sustain you the whole time. He decided thousands of years ago that 38 weeks was the perfect amount of time to grow a human baby in the womb, and His design is perfect. You might only be pregnant for nine months, but that little newborn babe will be ten months old… or even ten years old… in the blink of an eye!