Friday, December 18, 2009

Congratulations... It's Ben!

Well, it has been a busy few months.
Obviously I have not been busy blogging.
But I have good reason: I have been preparing for the arrival of new family member.

On Dec. 16, 2009 at 1:02 p.m. we welcomed our sweet little Benjamin into the family.
Ben was a whopping 10 pounds, 2 ounces at birth and measured 21 inches long.
He arrived in the world with a hearty holler and a full head of hair.
Mom and dad have been having fun getting to know Ben these past couple days.
We are still in the hospital, but hope to be home in a day or two.

For anyone who has been looking for pictures on Facebook, I tried to post there, but the hospital's free wi-fi does not include access to Facebook for some reason.

As for me, I am doing OK. Since the baby was so big there was a little extra effort needed in the c-section to get him out of there. So I am sore and bruised, but improving.

After a day and a half of bed rest I am now able to get up and walk around the hall, pushing Ben in his bassinet. We look like a sad case, but it is helping to be up and moving a few times a day.

Dad has been a great help with the diapers since I have been useless in that area. I am not even allowed to pick Ben up yet. I have to have people bring him to me.

We are all rooming in together in one very small room that is jammed with my bed, a roll-away torture bed for Dad and Ben's little bassinet. Not to mention all the various chairs, IV stands and our junk from home.

We have happily welcomed family and friends to visit in between feedings, naps, all the various poking and prodding.

I will try to post more photos later here and on Facebook once we are home, but no promises on when since we might be just a little busy getting acquainted with sweet Ben.

Thank you all for the congratulations and good wishes. It is nice to have so many people thinking good thoughts for us as we start this new adventure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The "fun" snack

We started our childbirth classes last week.
As part of the deal, each couple is supposed to sign up to bring a snack.
Each week there should be a "healthy" snack and a "fun" snack.

Me being me, I signed up for a "fun" snack.

I was torn between a proven winner, oatmeal-pecan shortbread, and a new recipe.

Because I like to try new things, the unknown won out.

The choice? Another shortbread.

And despite the slight unexpected extra crunch from the medium-grind cornmeal, this was quite successful. The flavor was perfect. The only change I will make next time is to use a finer cornmeal. Or maybe even try a corn flour.

Anyway, there was not much of it left by the end of the snack break. And when the teacher/nurse asked the class if there were any questions, one expectant dad asked "Can I get the recipe for those cookies?"

I call that a success.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More baby pictures

These are from week 26 of gestation.
I am a little behind on posting, as I am now nearing week 28.

Here is a little profile.

This is a lovely shot of the baby's spine.

And here is a foot. Which the doctor said looked big.
Hahaha. Of course it has big feet!

The doctor also said that the baby's head was in the 94th percentile for size and that at 26 weeks the baby was measuring at the size of a baby at 28 weeks.

So, this could end up being a very big kid if it keeps growing at that pace.

Other baby news, well really mommy news:
I passed the glucose test, which means I am NOT developing gestational diabetes.
I have, however, become mildly anemic since the last round of blood tests. This just means I need more iron, which can be fixed with one little pill a day.

The baby does have some dilation in the kidney, which means there is fluid there that should not be.
The perinatalogist said that in most cases this clears up before delivery. In the cases where it does not, there are some different treatments for it.

I am trying not to worry too much about that now, and just hoping it does indeed clear up before delivery.

Anyway, it means I will be going back to the perinatalogist in November for another ultrasound.

As the doctor put it, "I am looking forward to seeing how big that baby is by then!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A well-planned week

After a successful first attempt at planning more than one dinner at a time, I decided to try it again.

This time with five dinners.

The week is laid out in front of me, I just hope those dinners sound good on the days I am supposed to make them.

I have my menus.

I made my list.

I went to the market.

I am set for the week, Monday-Friday.

I figure after five days of working and five nights of cooking, I get to go out on to dinner on Saturday.

First up: Monday dinner of pan-roasted pork tenderloin, steamed asparagus and lemon spaghetti.

It was a very good start to the week, and yielded leftovers for Tuesday lunches.

While I was getting stuff ready for Monday dinner, I also managed to get a head start on Tuesday and Wednesday dinners.

I wonder how long I can keep up with this. So far, it has been a fun change.
And I can already tell I am going to spend less since I am not going to the market every day, impulse buying stuff.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's a lifestyle change

I will admit it: I am bad at meal-planning.

I tend to decide what I want to make for dinner on the way home from work and go to the grocery store on an almost daily basis.

This needs to stop. I know once the kid comes (and even before then as I get too tired) that going shopping every day will be out of the question.

So this week I tried my hand at meal-planning.

But I started small, with just three nights. It seemed to work OK. But it will be a big adjustment for me.

Night 1: Caesar salad (dressing made without raw eggs) with grilled shrimp and avocado; garlic toast

Night 2: Herb-grilled chicken with herb-yogurt sauce, above, (click on name for recipe)

Night 3: Grilled steaks, grilled Yukon gold potatoes and another little Caesar salad (this is for tonight)

It has worked out OK, this meal-planning thing. I went to the store one time for three meals.

What a novel idea.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Making progress

Much activity has been happening around the house in anticipation of the baby's arrival.
Sure, that is not until December, but the time is flying and I want to see progress!
Today, I see progress.
I have been able to help with some of the work, the lighter stuff.
But today the chores are painting and new flooring. These are chores I cannot do.
So Manfriend and a helper are working in the other room while I sit on the couch and blog.
In my defense, I did clean a bathroom and put away four baskets of laundry this morning.

So... What is next for me today?
Not sure.
I think I am at a point where there is not much I can do until they finish.

The room they are working on was a bedroom that I previously had used as storage and a cat space.
That stuff is all in the garage now and we are reclaiming that room for human use.
It will be a tight fit, but that room will be an office and guest room so that what is now the office and guest room can become the nursery.

I know, why not just make that first room the nursery?

It's smaller and it is right off the garage, so I do not like it for a nursery.

Plus the bigger room is already painted the perfect color blue to go with the bedding.

Oh... speaking of the bedding... UPS lost the box with the bedding while the box with all the other little things (lamps, blankets, sheets) showed up fine.
So they put a tracer on it, but it never turned up.

The company I ordered it from assured me they have more of that bedding and will resend a set out to me. I am going to call them Tuesday to make sure.
I am so paranoid that since it has been on clearance that it will not be available.

Anyway... that is my life these days: working, working on the house and stalking my UPS box.

Oh, and watching the belly get bigger by the day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A work in progress

I have avoided taking belly pictures until now. Really, until now there was no belly to speak of.
But it seems like I woke up one day and there it was!
Last week I was in my regular jeans.
This week I can feel the early stages of the pregnant lady waddle.
I am sure my life in high heels will be coming to an end very soon.

Anyway, here it is, the 23-week belly.

Now that there is really something to see, I will try to post updates as the girth gets girthier.

Monday, August 17, 2009

21-week baby update

Today was another doctor's appointment.
This was just one of the routine ones I get to go for once a month.
No ultrasound. Bummer.

All is well with me and the smudge.

Good, strong baby heartbeat. My blood pressure is good.
All is well.

The only blip on my radar was the fact that I AM getting bigger in the belly, but I was down almost a pound from my ultrasound visit just a few weeks ago.

The doctor said not to worry about this, that I will go up here and down there.

I am attributing my recent tiny weight loss to a continued diet minus booze, with far less junk and with far more lean proteins and veggies (when I can stomach them).

Plus there was last weekend's cleaning binge. I count that as exercise!

So, all is well in baby land.

I go back for a blood glucose test in a month along with a regular check up. In about 5 weeks I get another ultrasound. Yay!

Getting tarted up

So one of the many things I am trying to do as I get ready for baby is to organize just about everything.
I have cleaned out drawers and cabinets.
I have filled the recycle bins, been to the Goodwill with donations and started a yard-sale pile.

In this process, I found stacks and stacks of magazines. Cooking magazines.
The plan when I get those is to go through them and rip out just the recipes I might actually make.
One day last week was spent doing just that.
I was a little behind on this, and had some magazines going back to 2006. Oops!

One of the good things that came out of this endeavor was that I found a recipe for what looked like a very delicious raspberry tart.

Of course, not one to leave things well enough alone, I made some modifications to the dish. More chocolate? Yes, please!

So I have what I renamed Chocolate, cream and raspberry tart on almond shortbread crust.

The dessert was a bit labor intensive with its different layers, but none of it was particularly complicated.

And it was a big, very big, hit with the group. There was even enough left for the manfriend and I to enjoy some for dessert that night.

I am looking forward to making this again and again. And to experimenting with different versions of it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meanwhile, in baby news...

I had another ultrasound and some other tests done last week.
Results of the tests came in yesterday, and everything looks great!
Here are a couple "baby pictures" from the day.

The kid would not give a good profile like last time, but was happy to give a nice face-front shot.
Which, when rotated like this to get the best look at it, is a little scary!

(Click on the pictures to see them larger.)

Someone pointed out that it looks like the kid is flipping the bird.

Yep. My kid!

So, I am now 19 weeks along. For those unfamiliar, this means I am about halfway through my 40 weeks of gestation.

Falls under the category: Sucks to be you

I am a bit behind on posting, as usual.
But I did want to post some pictures from last weekend.

Manfriend and I were driving on Pacific Coast Highway at Hawthorne Boulevard when he did a doubletake.

We had to turn the car around to make sure what we thought we saw was really what we saw.


A car had driven up a wire.

How in the heck does this happen?

The tow truck driver said he had seen a lot of weird accidents, but this was a first for him.

We wondered: How did it happen? How did the person get out of the car without it tipping over on its side? How were they going to get that thing off the wire?

There was no sticking around to find out though. We had tacos waiting for us for lunch. So we were left to wonder.

(By the way, we saw no ambulances, so I am hoping this means the person was just shaken up and not seriously hurt.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

That old familiar feeling

I recently had my 4-month prego checkup. Things are progressing nicely.

I was a little surprised (but relieved) that I had not gained any weight yet.

The belly is definitely changing shape, but I am trying to be careful about what I am eating so I can keep the weight gain to a healthy level.

But it has been weeks and weeks of not wanting anything but cereal or cheese and crackers.

But about a week or so ago it hit me: I am hungry again! Finally!

This is a very good thing.

I still am eating fairly small meals, but at least they are real food and not just shredded wheat.

The other good thing about this is that I can get back to the food blogging.

Over there now... Sweet-spicy peanut slaw.

I am also making some all-day ribs that have been brined for 6 hours and been roasting for 2-3 hours with a dry spice rub. I will then grill them to get some crispness.

Yum. I am so excited to eat again!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

So what have I been up to?

Now that most people who had been reading this blog on a regular basis have probably given up on it... I have news!

I am knocked up, y'all!

Yup. Bun in the oven, in a family way, with child.

Originally my due date was pegged at Jan. 1, 2010. But after yesterday's ultrasound I was told that I am either due earlier or I am going to deliver a 13-pound baby.

Soooo... the due date was revised to Dec. 24.

It has been an interesting couple of months since I found out I am pregnant. There has been the nausea, the fatigue, the worry, the excitement, the gotta-pee-every-10-minutes... All the normal stuff.

The doctor yesterday - a perinatal specialist because I am considered an old mom - said everything looks excellent.

It is a very exciting time and I am looking forward to (most of) it.

So, now you know where I have been: too tired to blog.

I also have been too queasy and tired to cook, but that is starting to get a little better. So maybe the food blog will resume soon, too.

In the meantime, I hope to be here more. And not posting only about baby stuff, though that may be the bulk of it.

Here is a video if the little bugger (no, we have not decided yet if we will find out the gender). Or if it is slow to play for you here and you really, REALLY want to see it, click here to watch it on YouTube.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting older and getting over it

I remember when I was the young one in most groups.
Colleagues and friends were older.
Somehow though, this has changed.
I have become one of the older people in most situations.
Which is fine.
I can impart the years of wisdom I have accumulated along the way to my ripe old age of 38.

I can laugh now when I think back to 21, 25, 30... They all seemed like such milestones. But really, they were just mile markers along a journey more significant than just a few numbers.

There have been bumps and detours on the journey, but really the scenic route along those winding roads is so much better than spending the whole time on the freeway.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You know you want some

Chocolate-caramel crackers.

Really, do I need to say anything else?

Go check it out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Afternoon in the Garden - dive 34

The Garden Spot, Anacapa, Channel Islands, Calif. (from the Spectre)
April 5, 2009
Logged dive: No. 34
Max depth: 40 feet
Bottomtime: 30 minutes

This was the last dive of the day.
The captain, and most of the people on the boat, had been hoping to get to another spot popular with the sea lions.
But it was too choppy there.

Again, no sea lion paradise for me. But that is OK. This was a nice spot, too.
We did see a couple sea lions, again though they were on their way someplace else and did not stop to play.

This was a pretty uneventful dive. More stars, urchins, sheephead and garibaldi.
And a lot of kelp.

We hung out for a while, fed some more fish and then headed back while we still had plenty of air.
Mostly we got cold. The idea of a hot shower and a cold beer was enticing.
When MF gave the thumbs up sign to head back to the surface, I was fine with that.

All in all, it was a good day. It ended better than it started.
I would go back here again, but there are new places I want to try before that happens.

So, here are the last of the pictures from the Anacapa trip.

Four more dives under the weight belt.
MF and I are hoping to do some Orange County beach diving soon. Maybe in the next few weeks.

Conditions are improving - dive 33

Cat Cove, Anacapa, Channel Islands, Calif. (from the Spectre)
April 5, 2009
Logged dive: No. 33
Max depth: 30 feet
Bottomtime: 40 minutes

By the time we got to the site, things were definitely improving.
The sun was out, the wind was down and my stomach was settled.

The water at this site was flat, like a lake, and bright clear blue.

Of course it was still cold. No amount of telling myself it would be warm worked.

But this time I did not care.

Manfriend had fixed his mask, broken on the last dive, with some wire. We were ready to dive.

We submerged and headed toward the kelp bed. The kelp was thick but not unmanageable here.

Among the usual stars, urchins, etc., we saw this limpet. They are crazy looking. I really find them fascinating.

As we found the rockier area, another diver picked up a rock. As soon as he did this, a sheephead started stalking him.

The diver looked around and found what he wanted... a sea urchin. He used the rock to break it open, instigating a feeding frenzy.

This picture is one of my favorites: two big sheephead fish going head to head for some sea urchin. It looks like they slammed heads and exploded. The debris is just the sea urchin flesh.

Those fish pick an urchin clean in seconds. The diver opened a couple more for them. The whole time we were looking out for urchins, the big ol' sheephead was there.
Below is a little video of the feeding frenzy.

We also saw some sea lions here, but they were cruising through pretty fast and not inclined to play.

We surfaced near the boat into the perfect conditions. A couple other divers are seen at the back of the boat.

Before heading back to the boat I got a picture of the manfriend. The face says it all. That was a great dive.

Swimming in the Goldfish Bowl - dive 32

Goldfish Bowl, Anacapa, Channel Islands, Calif. (from the Spectre)
April 5, 2009
Logged dive: No. 32
Max depth: 40 feet
Bottomtime: 20 minutes
We should call this the dive that almost didn't happen and probably should not have happened.
After the dive at Rat Rock left me queasy I puked a couple times, but felt like I would be OK for this dive. Conditions at the site looked better.
The area was more sheltered and the surface, while not totally flat, looked much calmer than at Rat Rock.
We got back into our gear and waited our turn to take the giant stride off the boat and into the water.
I was in before Manfriend, starting my leisurely surface swim back toward the anchor line.
MF jumped in and popped to the surface ... with his mask in his hand.
Hmmm... that mask should be on his face.
The buckle on one side had broken, leaving the strap hanging, unattached.
We quickly consulted at the surface. I was going to head back to the boat with him, but he said I should find a new buddy for this dive and he would head back and see if he could repair the mask for the next dive.
I checked with some people in the water. They were part of a beginner class, but they had finished their skills on the earlier dive and this dive was just going to be a dive.
There was another certified diver tagging along since his girlfriend was in the class. The instructor paired us up as buddies and off we went, me and Joel, my new dive buddy.
We descended into about 40 feet of water. I was trying to keep an eye on where Joel was while making sure to give him good space to explore. Visibility was probably about 15-20 feet here, but a little murky.
It seemed like only a few minutes that we had been down there when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was MF. He had a mask on, but it was not his.
Cool. We could dive. I motioned to him that I was following Joel, my buddy. He motioned back OK and then indicated that he really could not see with the mask.
See, MF has what they call an optical mask. It's not a true match to his prescription glasses, but it is a lot better than a regular mask. So unless he was within a couple feet of something, he could not see too well.
We tried to do the dive this way, but again, it was not going well.
Joel was off here and there, with no apparent regard for where I was. MF was there, but not seeing clearly. And my queasiness was sneaking back in.
The area was a little rocky, a little kelpy. There were fish such as garibaldi and sheephead here, as well as the usual starfish and urchins. Plus more sea cucumbers.
But I was too distracted to really enjoy what is probably a very nice site. I did not get too many pictures here.
I found Joel and indicated to him that MF and I were going up, but that he should stay with the class. After a couple tries at this he got it.
MF and I returned to the surface and made the swim back to the boat.
Really, not a good dive at all.
It turns out he had borrowed the mask from one of the desk hands. But that was not going to work for the next two dives.
Another deck hand took a look at the mask and offered up some wire to make a crude repair.
That seemed to work. So, set for the next dive, we headed to the galley to try to get warm and to get some lunch.
I was freezing after this dive. I just could not get warm.
I tried some food, which helped my temp and my nausea. Then we went back out on deck where the Spectre has fashioned a basic hot tub. We could not get in with our wetsuits on (and since we wanted to try the last two dives we did not want to take them off).
But we could put our hands in the warm water. This helped warm me up a lot. I also took off my dive boots and got some sun on my feet, which helped.
Once everyone was back on the boat, we were off, headed to the third dive site.

Anacapa adventure - dive 31

View from our room at the Holiday Inn Express at Ventura Harbor

Finally, about a week later, I am getting the Anacapa dives in writing. I should have done it last Monday, but I was... Well, I was doing something. I can't really remember right now.

So, here's how it goes...

We are in the process of having furloughs at work. I have to take five days off between April and June. I wasted no time. I took the first Saturday in June (normally a work day).

The plan was to find a dive boat for Sunday, then spend Saturday night wherever the boat was.

I picked the Spectre, out of Ventura Harbor. It was going to Anacapa, a new trip for me. Manfriend had been there before, but was up to it again since it had been a while.

We got everything packed and ready early Saturday afternoon and headed up the 405 to the 101. It was a clear, sunny day with a bit of wind. It looked perfect.

After getting to Ventura we went directly to the harbor to check out the boat and decide if we wanted to sleep on board. The boat was scheduled to leave at 7 Sunday morning.

It looked like the boat was not back from that day's trip, so we went to take a look at the beach area.

After that little detour, we went back to the harbor and found the boat.

This is six of the bunks in a very small space.
They were very short and narrow.

This was our bunk. Since we didn't plan on sleeping there,
we only took one. But this is considered a double. We used it
mostly for storage, though MF did rest there at the start of the trip.
Once you are wet though, there is no going below deck. After the
first dive we did not see it again until we were
headed back at the end of the trip.

We took one look at the cramped bunk spaces - the bunks were about 6'2" long and MF is 6'9" long - and decided to stow some towels and other stuff on one to reserve it for the next day, but that we would be better off getting a room at the nearby Holiday Inn Express at the harbor.

To save some time the next morning we did set our dive gear on deck.

We had dinner that night at Winchester Grill in downtown Ventura, then headed back to the harbor to a restaurant called Margarita Villa for, what else, margaritas.

Soon enough it was time to sleep... early. We wanted to be back over at the boat by no later than 6:30. It was a quick 5-minute drive from the hotel.

Sunday morning came quickly and soon enough we were back on the boat.

The ride from Ventura to Anacapa is only about an hour and 20 minutes. It was a pretty smooth ride, though a little wind had kicked up overnight.

You can barely make out Anacapa in the distance as we set out.

The captain took us around to the back side of the island first, but the current and wind were too strong there, so he headed back toward the front side, stopping at the northern end of the island at a site called Rat Rock.
Rat Rock, Anacapa, Channel Islands, Calif. (from the Spectre)
April 5, 2009
Logged dive: No. 31
Max depth: 80 feet
Bottomtime: 35 minutes
There was an advanced open water class on the boat, and one of the dives they were required to do was a deep dive. The captain said this site was about 40 feet to one side and down to about 100 feet to the other.
The surface was very choppy. We jumped in and headed to the anchor line to descend.
I was holding onto my memories of the great dives we had in November at Santa Barbara Island, but this was not to be the same.
We chose to go to the deep side for a bit, then head back to a shallower area.
The divemaster had said that while it was choppy at the surface, it should be OK once we descended. It was not. It was still fairly surgey. Plus I had a lot of problems with my mask fogging up, which made it tough to see. I kept having to tip my head down to let water in the top of the mask then tip my head back to clear the water out to defog it.
All in all, it made for a nice little case of vertigo.
I was determined to tough it out as long as I could, but the foggy mask was too much after a while. It was actually worse than the surge. If I could have at least seen clearly, I would have been OK, I think.
Anyway, other than the surge and fog, the site was rather nice. There was a rocky reef area in the shallower side of the dive area. There were urchins, big starfish and vibrant purple and orange nudibranchs.
And there were sea cucumbers everywhere. I did not get a lot of pictures here since I was having trouble seeing. Really, I am surprised I got anything clear at all.
There was little kelp in this area, mostly it was the rocky tail of the island stretching under the surface to form the reef.
After struggling a bit and being very cold, MF and I gave each other the thumbs-up sign indicating we should head back to the surface.
We surfaced not too far from the boat and waited our turn behind another group of divers to get to the swim step, all the while bobbing and bouncing with the chop of the water.
By the time we got back on the boat, was definitely queasy. Not good.
After shedding my gear at my station, I headed to the bow of the boat to get some sun and catch my breath. MF brought me some water. I was starting to feel a bit better.
But then the puke came. Yup. Nice.
But it did help. I figured I would be OK by the time we reached the next dive site.
Next post... dive 2 for this trip.