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October 2011

September 2011

Pregnancy: Of Paint and Strollers and The BELLY

Let's compare.

7-16bumpyat21weeks July at 21 weeks.                                







9-13At29weeks September at 29 weeks.









Definitely more belly there after eight weeks. Imagine what the next eight will bring! I'm now at 30 1/2 weeks, saw the OB yesterday and all is dandy. Grateful grateful grateful! I have gained only 15 pounds in the first 30 weeks and am glad. I'm sure there will be at least another 5-10 to come. I keep walking 3-5 times a week and so my blood pressure (which has always been a healthy low number) is just fabulous.

By the way, you may notice I never use the word "bump" in regard to my belly. It just never appealed to me, not sure why. I guess I like "belly" better as Kurt and I will always make it sound like Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers movie. Kurt will ask, "So how is your BELLY! today?" Or I'll say "ooh she's kicking, come feel my BELLY!!!" We're weird like that. I can picture Sweet Potato's eye rolls even now.

We had my office/the baby room painted this week (along with the bathroom) and it's lovely and fresh and cool and soothing.

NewRoomColorWe won't be moving the other baby furniture in yet as mom is coming to stay for a week and we are using that space for a borrowed guest bed. Once she's gone we will then set up the chest of drawers (which doubles as changing table) and put the lounge/nursing chair in. That's going to be it for a while as half the room is still my office. Bassinet will go in our room for now. Crib to come later. By then we will have figured out where my office goes. My biggest fantasy is to get one of these (either the K5 or the Kpod) and put it in the yard...


We also got our Star Wars art back from the framers!! I'll post pics when they are hung! So excited, they look fabulous.

We've been stroller shopping. Yow. I can honestly say it's harder to find a stroller than a new car. We test drove a variety of strollers from the top-o-the-line to the more main stream. Well, I should clarify, we did not try the absolute top of the line which would be the Silver Cross Balmoral Pram at $4000. (Nanny not included.) I think just having "Balmoral" in the title makes it more expensive. For you stroller shoppers out there, the Balmoral doesn't fold and it weighs 62 pounds. Perfect for an LA mom on the go!

We tried a bunch of different strollers in all price ranges and came down to three. While the Balmoral is the Bentley of strollers, we looked at the Cadillac of strollers, the Bugaboo Cameleon. I have to say, it rolls like a dream! And how could it not with independent suspension and shock absorbers on each wheel?! It looks fab too. We then drove the Acura of strollers, the UppaBaby Vista, also very nice handling and ease of use. (We began to refer to it as the UppityBaby.) Then we drove the Honda of strollers, the Chicco Cortina travel system (as well as the Graco version). All of these strollers are fine, but man you gotta spend hours playing with them, folding them, unfolding them, pushing all the buttons, kicking all the tires and most importantly -- Does it fit in your trunk??

When I told my mom about the stroller shopping and the ones we liked she said, "Oh I'll look up the Bugaboo" and I said, "I'll send you a link to the model." "Model??" "Oh yes, there are more than one Bugaboo/UppaBaby/Graco/Chicco stroller!" It's a wacky baby world out there full of STUFF! And we are going to work hard to keep the stuff under control as A) we really don't need much and B) we really don't have the room (which makes it easy to control the stuff!)

It's a strange new world out there in Baby Land for us!



Books - What I've Been Reading

I've been whipping through books these last few weeks. Partly because I'm a fast reader and love reading, partly because the books I chose were fun fast reads or the kind you just can NOT put down. Having flights from LA to Maui helped as well.

Pioneercover This last batch started with The Pioneer Woman by Ree Drummond. She started a blog a while back about being a city girl who married a rancher in Oklahoma. The blog became a huge hit and she has become a media empire on her own, most recently with a cooking show on the Food Network.

I had given the book to a friend and then she kindly loaned it to me when she was done as I was curious about Ms. Drummond's story. I have to be honest and say I got quite tired of it pretty fast. Granted, the book reads like a collection of her blog posts and that's fine, I get it. But wow the sappiness overpowered the true emotions for me right away. Plus the fact that she never names her husband-to-be in the whole book. She only calls him "The Marlboro Man". (His name is Ladd, by the way.) Funny though, she names other men in her life.

Anyway, more power to her, she's just not my style.

Next up was The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. Kurt and I have mentioned our desire to ride the Trans Siberian Railroad some day and someone recommended this book. The book was written in 1975 by Mr. Theroux who decided to travel by train from London to Japan and back. He had lived in Singapore for a few years before this so had some experience traveling through asia by train. It's mostly a travelogue as he winds his way through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, etc. It's fascinating to read in 2011 as things are so incredibly different now, politically, economically, culturally. The Trans Siberian railway part is the last major leg and by that time he does't write as many details as previous trains. It's a fascinating read, no matter what, and if you like train travel, you'll enjoy this, even 36 years after the fact.

Apparently he retraced his steps in 2006 and wrote a follow up called "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" but I have yet to pick that up. He is mainly a novelist and lives part time in Hawaii, coincidentally enough.

Unbroken I had wanted to read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand since I heard about it on NPR when it was first published. I hesitated buying it because it sounded like a brutal read, even though I knew that the man she writes about, Louis Zamperini, is still alive (this is not a spoiler alert, by the way). When I was home on Maui in August, I saw it at Costco and picked it up but mom said she had a copy. So I started reading it and damn, I could not put it down. I think I read it in about two days. The first night I read about 60 pages and might have stayed up all night if I wasn't so tired.

Ms. Hillenbrand's writing is fantastic. Did you ever read Seabiscut? (No, seeing the movie doesn't count.) It's also a phenomenal story that she weaves about those four characters (the horse, the owner, the trainer the jockey). Unbroken is a similarly compelling story about Mr. Zamperini's early troubled youth, his break into running track, being at the 1936 Olympics, meeting Hitler! And then his time in WW2 as a bombardier in a B-24, crashing and surviving in a life raft longer than any person ever had, then in two hellish Japanese prison camps.The man should have died ten times over. Highly, highly recommend! (And yes, it will be made into a movie.)

Ready-player-one-ernest-cline-book Most recently I read Ready Player One by Earnest Cline. I had read about it online and in magazines and it sounded appealing. This is Mr. Cline's first novel and is a love letter to 80's pop culture. Here's a description from Amazon:

Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future--the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday’s fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline.--Chris Schluep

The story is fun, the writing style light and easy. I read this in a day and half and enjoyed it very much. There were laugh out loud moments when he mentions 80's things that I knew so well. When at a key moment he mentions the game "Tempest" I nearly spit out my coffee. That was the one arcade game I actually liked to play way back then. Plus any book that starts off immediately with a reference to Oingo Boingo is aces in my book.

You don't remember Tempest? Here you go:

Reading is Fundamental!

Pregnancy: Fruits and Veggies

I don't mean to eat. (Though fruits are still way more palatable to me than veggies these days.) Depending on the books or websites you read when knocked up, fruits and veggies are crucial to describing the size of your growing baby.

A long aside about reading: I found reading too much about pregnancy was not that helpful. When I was pregnant last fall I started to read "What To Expect When You Are Expecting" and found it to should I say...just not at all my style. (Your mileage may vary.) I had a used copy that I promptly gave away when I got pregnant again. With this pregnancy I've only really read the "Pregnancy week by week" on I like the more modern, casual tone. If I have a random question I might search for something online, but most often I find it leads to "OMG THIS HORRIBLE THING HAPPENED TO ME!" and I don't want to read that. Nobody wants to read that. I've avoided most things online and just saved up questions for my OB appointments or have asked my mom friends what they experienced. I'll read the community page on for "November Births" to see if anyone is asking advice from the group about things I didn't think of or know of. It is sometimes helpful. Mostly it makes me so very grateful for the calm, happy, loving, supportive homelife I have. The one pregnancy blog I do LOVE LOVE LOVE is Pregnant Chicken. That woman is HI-larious and she swears up a storm. Just my style. (I'm working on curbing the swearing...)

Ttar_butternut_squash_v What was this blog post about again? Oh yeah, the fruits and veggie comparisons! Blueberry

Each pregnancy week's update on Babble would include a visual of some kind of food so that you could easily know how big the wee one is. It starts out with seeds and nuts, then moves to berries and larger fruits. Currently at week 29 Sweet Potato is the size of a Butternut Squash (seen here at left).

Kurt was reading the week by week posts as well and found them somewhat helpful, announcing things like "We are at the blueberry stage!" or "We've now entered the apple stage! But wait, what sized apple???" It could get a bit confusing. Especially when we got to the coconut phase. Having grown up in Hawaii, when Kurt said "Coconut!" I had to ask "with or without the husk?" He was confused. With the husk, that sucker is pretty big! Without it, much smaller. They meant without the husk. Coconut

Later we would get to the lesser used fruits or veggies. We were both stumped at "Rutabaga" since we don't generally eat those. Do you automatically know what size a rutabaga is? If so, we cook from different cookbooks. (Though I did make an awesome root veggie casserole last winter that included rutabagas, thanks Debra!)

When we started on the "food comparison" check in each week, we thought that using sports equipment might be a way to get dads more involved (if they aren't already). You could start out with marbles, work your way up to golf balls, tennis balls, baseballs, etc. It makes a lot of sense to us. But we are stuck with the fruits and veggies for now.

I cheated and looked ahead to next week: CABBAGE!

Ten Years Later

The weekend before 9/11 we were in Boston for a funeral. Kurt's cousin Beverly had died and family gathered in Cambridge for the services. Kurt and I were engaged and this was the first time I had met most of his family. We flew home on Sunday, September 9.

My mom flew to LA on Monday the 10th to stay with us for a few days to help send out wedding invitations and to go with me to shop for a wedding dress. Tuesday morning, 9/11, the phone rang at about 7:00. Since my mom was with us, I knew it wasn't her and I had always told my sister not to call before 9am. I picked up the phone and it was Jen calling to say "turn on your tv, they're bombing New York!" I jumped up and turned on the tv. My mom was sleeping in the living room and I woke up Kurt as well. We all sat dumbfounded, watching the news.

A while later, after they had determined which aircraft had been hijacked, Kurt noticed that the plane that hit the South Tower was United 175 from Boston. The 8:00 am flight was the same that we had flown home two days earlier. We still had our boarding passes. It was even more sad to think that our flight crew might have been the same that died on 9/11. A tiny coincidence for us.

It was a strange strange day. After a few hours we could not watch anymore. The job I was working had production offices based in NYC (they were all fine, thankfully) so we skipped work for a day or two. On 9/11 my mom and I had planned to go to David's Bridal and look at dresses. We decided we might as well go and called to see if they were open. They were and we were the only people in the place. I found my sweet wedding dress on that very sad horrible day.

For the few days after 9/11 when all flights were grounded, it was shockingly quiet. We live in the landing path of Santa Monica Airport and not that far from LAX. There were no planes in the sky and it was a stunning absence. The quiet of no airplanes anywhere seemed so disturbing to me, proving how messed up things were.

I admit I was nervous for a week or so after. I'm so glad Kurt had already moved in and that my mom was there with us. My instincts were to duck when I was outside because who knew what could come from the sky at any moment. It wasn't an overpowering feeling and it wasn't rational, but there it was.

Amazing that ten years have gone by and how much has changed. When we picked up my mom at the airport, we could meet her as she came out of the gate. When we took her to the airport to return to Maui (on a nearly empty flight) we could not even drive to the terminal. I think we had to drop mom off at a spot where a shuttle bus picked her up to drive into the terminals.

Strange days.


Pregnancy: Time Does Not Fly

We are now just a little over six months (27 1/2 weeks) into Sweet Potato's growth. Went to the OB yesterday and the wee one is looking fine, weighing almost three pounds. Doctor said she could see hair already in the sonogram! I'm doing very well too. This makes me very very happy.

Recently two people asked how far along I was and I said "almost six months." They both replied with, "Wow, time has really flown!" I answered with a laugh and said, "for you maybe!" Time has not flown at all for me. In fact it seems I have felt every day as it came and and went.

My first trimester was an anxious time. Having just had a miscarriage, I couldn't get too excited or attached because I really didn't know what would happen. Being 44 and "of advanced maternal age" (which I guess is better than a friend who, pregnant at 36, was referred to as having a "geriatric pregnancy" - yikes!) you are bombarded with all the facts and figures about how much more common miscarriages and failed pregnancies and birth defects are. It's like everything you read has a subtext of "why are you even bothering to try?" So I stopped reading stuff a long time ago. (Except when I'm looking for specific info or just checking in on "what's happening this week with baby." But even then you have to avoid the minefield of horror stories.)

The first trimester waiting, coupled with the spotting, CVS test and three weeks bed rest was hard. Time passed oh so slowly.

We made it to week 14 and into the second trimester and I was feeling good, all was going well and we found out she is a girl and we began to tell people. That was very joyous, but still, I was knocking on wood and crossing my fingers. For most of June and July I didn't feel that different. My tummy was larger and I bought maternity jeans and clothes but as I couldn't feel her move yet, I just felt chubby. A few people said, "Isn't this a glorious time? Enjoy it!" But it didn't feel glorious then, it still felt a bit unreal. Even after our major sonogram at 19 weeks where we saw so much detail and awesomeness, there was a bit of a distance as her kung-fu/somersaults/ballroom dancing routines had not started in earnest. Or that I could feel, anyway.

August has finally found me quite round and there is plenty of movement for both Kurt and I to feel. On Maui last week a friend of mom's asked if we were thrilled about the pregnancy and I could finally say "Yes!" I feel pregnant, I look pregnant and I am excited and so much looking forward to meeting this little girl.

What has amazed me in the last two months as my belly has grown and we've moved through the various vegetable stages of pregnancy (I'll explain in a later post) is how just very very normal I feel. I don't feel like I'm sacrificing my body for another life. I don't feel incapacitated, though bending over is getting more challenging and long walks through airport terminals make me winded. (And I know there is major growth to come!) Mostly I feel like I'm in happy symbiotic relationship with a new being and I am the luckiest person because I get to team up with this almost-new life and help bring her forth. That is awesome. And yet all so amazingly normal.

Believe me, I am very very grateful for feeling so normal. Yes, there is heartburn and nighttime sinus issues and sometimes a sore back. But mostly I feel extremely fortunate and thank my lucky stars every day to feel so fine. So normal.

By the calendar, there is slightly less than three months to go. September will be a busy month but I still doubt it will fly by. I look forwad to each lovely normal day full of growth and kung-fu kicks as each one comes.