Sunday, June 29, 2008

A baby-fied weekend recap

My work currently has Summer Fridays, which means that if we put in an extra four hours of work between Monday and Thursday, then we can leave at 1 on Fridays. I always have grandiose plans for those four hours, but somehow only manage to get to a fraction of those plans.

I did, however, make it to Target as planned, where I made my first clothing purchase for Em Dash. Check it out.

Cupcakes! And cherries! Ahhhhh! Too cute! I also picked up some little pink hangers for these and other outfits.
so sweet

This was a fun little find in the $1 Spot bins. I was particularly drawn to it because it reminded me of my mom, who has a thing for elephants, especially those with their trunks up (she says elephants like that equate luck or something).
And your mommy loves you!

Oh, and a quick aside, but on the topic of baby clothes, check this out:
It's a little Hello Kitty layette set! The hat alone is freakin' adorable, not to mention the rest of the set! It's from Sanrio's brand new baby line. I haven't purchased it, but I'm quite tempted.

Saturday night we joined Josh, Jami, Josh's sister Leah and her husband Juston for dinner at Bar Hayama. Leah, who is due with their first baby girl in two weeks, and I stuck to the safe-for-pregnant-gals fare while others enjoyed sushi. I'm excited to head back once I return to the sushi-able zone!

After a quick trip to Beard Papa's (mmmm.....strawberry cream puffs...), we headed over to a nearby theater to see Pixar's WALL-E. Brent and I have been super excited about this film since the first teaser trailer. Robots! In space! And in love! While we agreed that it was a tad on the long side, the movie was quite good. I want my own WALL-E robot! He was so cute! The movie also had a great message, especially given the increased importance of living greener these days.

Sunday Brent and I, along with my in-laws, met up with Leah and Juston at Leah's parents house for an infant CPR class. Along with infant CPR, we learned proper techniques for CPR on children and adults. I'm pleased to have a little more peace of mind, and I'm happy my in-laws now have the tools if God forbid anything happens to Em Dash under their care.

Brent and I spent Sunday afternoon going back and forth with a nearby car dealer for the car I'm getting. We're supposed to find out tomorrow if the salesman's management team is willing to match the price we found online. I imagine he crapped his pants a little when we sent him a link to a forum where folks across the country compared their out-the-door prices for the exact car we want. "Crap! Educated consumers!" His managers wouldn't agree to our bottom line, but tomorrow is the last day of the month and I'm sure they have some sort of quota to meet, not to mention that they are likely selling a lot less cars given the high gas prices. We'll see what he comes back with.

"A stupid, idiotic numbskull named Andy Bernard sold his Xterra to a smart and capable man named Dwight. This is shaping up to be an awesome day for Dwight." - Dwight, The Office

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chameau, the killer dinner

Last night Brent and I joined my in-laws for a delicious dinner at Chameau, a French Moroccan restaurant. We were celebrating the 37th wedding anniversary of my in-laws, Michael and Merridee. Happy anniversary!

I haven't done this in quite a while, but here's a photographic walk through our meal. This experience is definitely worth sharing!

The decor is kind of all over the place, including metal camel cutouts to divide the booths, brightly colored lamps and wood carvings, but it all comes together quite nicely.

Camel cutouts

We started with bread, olives and dipping oil. The bread was super soft and tasty, very reminiscent of focaccia. I won't tell you how many times we asked for more bread, but let's just say when you eat with my bro-in-law, you have to fight your way to the bread basket.

My appetizer was the duck bastilla with sweet almonds, cinnamon and cilantro.
Duck bastilla

The bastilla, served between a flaky dough crust and topped with powdered sugar, was one of the tastiest treats I've had in a long time! It was the perfect combination of sweet and savory. And the portion was huge! When I was done eating it, I considered canceling my entree because I was so stuffed.

For my entree I had the lemon baby chicken with couscous and olive sauce.
lemon baby chicken

If you can't tell by the pic above, the portion was gigantic. I barely made a dent in it, but the little I ate was delicious.

Despite bursting at the seams, I still had a little room for dessert. Brent and I split the cinnamon creme caramel with mint cream.
Cinnamon creme caramel

This was very flan-like and the perfect way to end our meal.

Brent and I certainly enjoyed ourselves, and I'm excited to visit Chameau again.
Brent and me

"When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it . . . and it is all one." - M.F.K. Fischer

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I know you want what's on my mind

I've been a busy little bee this week!

Monday evening I had the pleasure of dining with the always-lovely Kay, Jolene and Alyssa. Kay and I compared pregnant bellies, as well as our plans for delivery, strollers, nurseries, maternity leave, baby showers, etc. - ya know, all those fun mommy-to-be things. And don't worry - Jolene and Alyssa weren't left out of the fun. I think they made some mental notes for later on. Heh. And it wasn't ALL mommy talk, I promise!

If you don't read their blogs, I highly recommend it. It's nights like Monday when I'm especially thankful for the blogosphere, which is how I met them. They are a super sweet group of gals who just radiate warmth and kindness.

Tuesday evening Brent and I went to the Hollywood Bowl to catch the highly-anticipated Stone Temple Pilots reunion. On the way there we passed the outside stage of the Jimmy Kimmel, where we overheard (but couldn't see) Billy Idol performing "Rebel Yell." Not a bad way to start off a rockin' night!

I have to admit that I was a little worried before the STP show as I had read some not-so-great reviews from the beginning of their summer tour. Also, when I caught them on Jimmy Kimmel shortly after I bought tix to their show, they weren't so hot. Scott sounded strained and he appeared a bit rickety, not at all as fluid and engaging as he normally is.

But ya know what? Last night's show was un-freakin-believable! This was the third time Brent and I had seen them, and it was definitely our favorite performance yet. They sounded amazing! And I was entranced by Scott's lead vocal performance. You can't help but be enthralled by the way he moves. It's like you can see the music coursing through his skinny little veins.

How happy was I to be at this show?

How happy am I to see STP?

Despite Scott's personal battles, he is such an amazing front man - definitely my favorite of all the bands I love. He's so engaging. Brent agreed. He said that even if someone doesn't like STP, they'd have to admit that Scott is a great performer.

One of my highlights from the night was at the very end of the show, as they were walking off the stage, when his two young kids came running up and jumped into Scott's arms. They'd been standing at the side of the stage during the show with giant headphones on. The soon-to-be-mama in me was excited to see that side of the otherwise bad-boy Scott.

While we had pretty damn good seats in the second tier of boxes, my point-and-shoot wasn't powerful enough to catch any great performance photos, so if you're interested you can see someone else's photos from the show here.

"I know you want what's on my mind. I know you like what's on my mind. I know it eats you up inside. I know, you know, you know, you know." - Sex Type Thing, Stone Temple Pilots

Bump Watch 2008, 23 weeks, 3 days

It's time for the weekly belly pic!

23 weeks, 3 days

Em Dash is doing great. She's kicking a lot, and Brent felt her kick for the first time this weekend. He SAW my belly move before he felt it! And when he felt it, he slowly backed away while exclaiming, "Whooooooaaaaa!" So very cool!

My mom called yesterday to tell me that she bought her first outfits for Em Dash. "The clothes for girls are so much cuter than what there are for boys!" she said. (No offense to moms of boys. That's just the opinion of one grandma who has a grandson and is now getting her first granddaughter.) She's certainly going to have fun spoiling our little one.

"Actually, I do own property. My grandfather left me a 60-acre working beet farm. I run it with my cousin Mose. We sell beets to local stores and restaurants. It’s a nice little farm. Sometimes teenagers use it for sex." - Dwight, The Office

Sunday, June 22, 2008

They say it's your blogoversary. It's my blogoversary, too!

I'm up way too early for a Sunday morning. Maybe it was my body's way of telling me to get up and celebrate my 4-year blogoversary! Yup, four years ago today I started this lil' blog. My, how time flies! A special shout out to all my readers - new and old! Thanks for reading!

I'll start my weekend recap a little early.

Shelby had her baby boy! I won't spoil the details of his name, weight, etc. (no blog thunder-stealing here) but I will tell you that when she sent a photo of her baby boy to my cell phone, part of the caption was, "Get the epidural - it's magic." Hilarious!

I received her message while I was in the waiting room of my doctor's for one of my monthly pregnancy check-ups Friday afternoon. The way our hospital works is that there's no guarantee of what doctor will be on call when I go into delivery, so they're having me rotate through the hospital's seven delivering doctors for each of my appointments. I've been fine with the three doctors I've seen thus far, although the Friday doctor was probably the most interesting of them all. He was liberal with his cussing (I think he said "shit" at least three times - not in an alarming way, but more like as a way for him to pause his conversation). He was a crack-up, though. And he'd definitely be interesting in the delivery room.

Anyhow, when he measured my fundal height, I asked how I was doing. He said I'm measuring big, but didn't say how much bigger I am than I should be. Then he said, "We'll schedule an ultrasound for your next visit." I wasn't expecting another ultrasound, so that's a welcome surprise (more face time with Em Dash!), but I hope I'm not *too* much bigger than I should be and that Em Dash isn't going to come out ready to try out for the NFL. She was measuring a week ahead during my NT scan, so maybe that's still the case. And I definitely feel like I popped this week, so maybe the doc just caught me after a bit of a growth spurt.

Speaking of big bellies, Friday morning was the first time someone noticed my pregnancy without having to tell them! I was leaving our condo and ran into our next door neighbor, whom I hadn't seen in months. She did a quick glance my way then exclaimed, "Is that what I think I see?" Yup, it's a pregnant belly. Bless her heart for noticing that it's not just fat. Woo hoo! (As an etiquette aside, I don't think it's proper to ever assume someone is pregnant, especially in early pregnancy because it very well could just be a pot belly. But to a pregnant woman who complains about not feeling like she looks pregnant, this comment can actually be quite welcome.)

Friday evening Brent and I took it easy with a nice, quiet dinner at Warszawa then just relaxed at home.

Saturday we went to the credit union where Brent has his car loan to see about one for me. We were happily surprised to learn I was eligible for the very best rate available. Score! And I'm pre-approved for the amount I wanted. So now I just have to finish up some research on exactly which model of the car I want.

After loan shopping we went to my in-laws'. My father-in-law called us earlier in the day to say, "The AC is on. The pool is heated. Come on over!" Music to my sweaty ears. I read some trashy magazines while relaxing in the cool water. Although it's not supposed to be as sweltering hot today, we may go back this afternoon. I also may keep cool with a screening of The Incredible Hulk. Maybe we'll wear our Hulk Hands. You think I'm kidding, but I promise you, they're real. And they're kept right next to our King Kong Fists.

I hope everyone is staying nice and cool this weekend!

"There’s no way it’s fine, I’m sorry. If I was you, I would just like freak out, and get really drunk, and then tell someone I was pregnant." - Kelly
"Okay, that’s a lot of good ideas. Thanks." Pam, The Office

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yo mama

First things first - my best friend Shelby is checking into the hospital tomorrow (Friday) morning to "evict" her little boy! So very exciting! I'm sending her and her little one healthy delivery vibes!

Tonight I attended my first prenatal yoga class, which I probably should have started weeks (ok - maybe months) ago. I was so exhausted during my first trimester that I rarely had energy to workout. Then, come second trimester, I was out of the habit of exercising. But tonight was my night to break that streak!

The class was in a small studio nearby. There were five of us in the class, ranging from 20 weeks to 35 weeks. The instructor was great and very soothing. I liked that she walked around and adjusted our positions yet wasn't annoyingly hands-on. I think the other four woman were regulars, so at one point the instructor said, "Nanette, have you done a lot of yoga?" My guess is that she could tell because I'm obviously not a fluid and graceful yoga expert. I am not the least bit flexible, and I had awful balance before I got pregnant. It's just gone downhill from there.

She was kind enough to give me some modifications and tips through certain poses that she said were more advanced. And in talking to some other students after class, this instructor tends to go through much more active poses than the Tuesday evening teacher. I don't think that's a bad thing, but I'm interested to see the Tuesday teacher's approach. She's apparently a doula, so she gives lots of prenatal advice throughout class.

I feel relaxed and stretchy. I'm looking forward to a nice night's sleep.

Amalah, who is about a week behind me in pregnancy, mentioned that she can see her little guy squirming around. So last night after putting cocoa butter on my belly, I sat there and watched intently. In about 15 minutes I saw my skin twitch/jump slightly about four times! It was sooo cool! Brent was out of town last night, but I made him watch my belly a bit just now and he *thinks* he saw it move. I definitely saw it a few times. We'll try again before bed.

Ok, I'll wrap up this baby-filled post with this funny little gem.

"I'll buy running shoes. We'll take up yoga or jogging. You know, we'll be organized. Pay our bills, floss our teeth. We won't set fire to the apartment anymore." - Jasper, 28 Days

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bump Watch 2008, 22 weeks, 3 days

This morning at work I meant to walk to the elevator but instead walked right past it and toward the bathroom. I stopped myself and realized it might have been a case of "pregnancy brain."

And for some reason I thought of this old cartoon from Sesame Street because it was as if I had to remind myself that I wanted to take the elevator a la "A loaf of bread, a container of milk, a stick of butter."

Other than that little brain fart, I've been feeling pretty good. Em Dash is kicking a lot, although still not quite hard enough for Brent to feel her yet. The other night he whispered into my belly, "Please kick hard so Mommy will stop harassing me to feel her belly." Because I do it all the time. Heh.

Today was the first day I had a bit of a time pulling myself in and out of my tiny two-door sports car. This Friday I'm going to start loan rate shopping for my new car. I'm hoping to have a shiny new car by my birthday next month.

Tonight I registered Brent and I for some classes at our hospital, so we'll feel a little more prepared for child birth, breastfeeding and infant care. My approach to my pregnancy -- and probably motherhood in general -- is to educate myself as much as possible without driving myself crazy-go-nuts from information overload. There's a lot to learn and so much of it is exciting (and a tad scary, depending on how you look at it).

I'll conclude with this week's belly pic, with a color combo inspired by dapotato's aqua and red wedding!
22 weeks, 2 days

"God forbid you should use 'icky drugs' when you could experience the excruciating agony of childbirth in the raw." - Dr. Martin Ellingham, Doc Martin

Monday, June 16, 2008

Alaska at last!

I've been overwhelmed by the volume of photos Brent and I (ok, mostly Brent) took during our Alaskan cruise, so it's taken me a while to gear up for this recap.

I won't be doing the 6-part version like I did for our Italy recaps. Instead I'll give you some of my favorite highlights.

Here's the big boat we called home for a week. It's the Island Princess.
Island Princess

Here are some of the stunning snow-covered mountains we saw.


Here is one of the many glaciers we admired.

We even caught some of the glacier melting. Damn global warming! Um, or maybe just the season changing...

Brent and me in front of the glacier.
Brent and me

My bro-in-law Tyler and me in front of the glacier.
My brother-in-law and me

A pretty snow-covered mountain.

Earlier in the cruise, when we were further north, there were nights where it didn't get any darker than this!

We saw a ton of wildlife, including lots of bald eagles.
Bald eagle

And as previously mentioned, whales! Here's the tail of a humpback!
Whale tale!

Here's Tyler battling a squirrel. I think the squirrel won.
tyler vs squirrel

We did a seaplane excursion at one of the ports. We had some breathtaking views of the Alaskan wilderness and hidden lakes.
Pretty frozen formation

The pilot landed on one of the lakes and said, "Ok, let's hop out!" Um, hop out where exactly? Onto the pontoons! Here I am, holding on for dear life. The pilot assured me that he's never had anyone fall in. I didn't want to be the first.
Standing on the sea plane

I didn't feel seasick or nauseous the entire time on the cruise ship, but on the seaplane? Oh, boy - it was turbulent. Then the pilot made a very sharp 180-turn to point out a black bear, which looked teeny tiny from our viewpoint but was still cool to see. Anyhow, the turbulence and sharp turn made Brent and I both feel really nauseous. Luckily it just took a couple of snacks to get us back to normal.

Back on the boat, Brent's family and I were invited for a special VIP tour of the boat's bridge with some of the captains. Here are some of the fancy controls on the bridge.
On the boat's bridge

When we were cruising between the three ports, we spent a lot of downtime relaxing and checking out movies in our cabin.

Oh, and I turned $40 into $127 in the ship's casino! All my years of playing Blackjack with my Filipino relatives paid off! I befriended a Filipina dealer who was impressed by my Blackjack expertise and encouraged me to join the ship's tournament. I didn't, but I was flattered by her invite.

I also took advantage of the ship's spa with a massage and a much-needed facial.

All in all, we had a really nice and relaxing time. I came away with a greater appreciation of Mother Nature and wildlife. Brent and I have never had much of a desire to take a cruise, and Alaska wasn't necessarily high on our list of places to see at this point in our lives, but we couldn't pass up the invite from my awesome in-laws. And if you're going to see Alaska, I can't imagine there's a better way to see the state than from a cruise ship!

"When I was your age, I was putting myself through college in Boston paddling swan boats for the tourists." - Jack
"Is that a euphemism for some kind of sex worker?" - Kenneth, 30 Rock

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Family style

I survived the heat! I didn't make it into the pool as I opted to stay in the air conditioned-indoors instead. I got to spend lots of quality time with the world's cutest kids, too.

I hung out with Shelby's new niece, who is about the cutest little butterball ever at 4 months old!

And I happily played with my nephew, who turns three next month. It was also an opportunity to try to fiddle with our new camera. I'd point the camera at him and he'd instantly say, "CHEESE!" quickly followed by, "Lemme see!" as he ran over to see himself on the screen. (Isn't it funny that kids these days seem to know about the instant gratification of digital photography as opposed to when I was growing up and had to wait a week or longer to see the developed photos? Not including Polaroids, of course.)

I can't believe how much he's grown! His big blue eyes still get me every time.

We played and played and played.
coming after you

After my mom cut and filed his nails, he took his turn with her nails.

At one point he was jumping all over me while I was chilling on the ground. He started to sit on my belly, which I cautioned him not to do because of the baby.

"Baby???" he replied as he started to lift up my shirt, which I had motioned to.
"Oh crap," I thought. I can't start to explain birds and the bees to a 3-year-old. My mom just laughed.
"Where's the baby?" my nephew asked.
" Auntie's belly."
"Can baby come out?"
"No, not yet. Baby is still growing."
"It's sleeping?"
"Yes, the baby has gone night-night. It can't come out yet. But soon she'll be here and you can play with her."

He continued to have a puzzled look on his face, and randomly through the night he'd point to my stomach and say, "Baby!" He also motioned to the gift box with the onesie that I had given to my mom the last time we were there. I guess he had opened it previously because he seemed to know that the thing inside was for the baby. He pointed to the box and then pointed to my belly, exclaiming, "Baby!" Such a cutie. I'm excited for him to meet Em Dash. And although I managed to survive the heat, my nephew certainly made my heart melt.

"If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm." - Bruce Barton

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Glutton for punishment

This weekend in Santa Monica:
This weekend in my hometown, Visalia:
Guess where I'll be.


Luckily my mom has a pool, and I just received the maternity bathing suit I ordered. And every time I talk to my mom she asks, "Do you have a belly yet???" excitedly, so I gotta show her.

I imagine I'll be more than ready to recap my chilly Alaskan vacation upon return.


"I don't drink hot liquids of any kind. That's the Devil's temperature!" - Kenneth, 30 Rock

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

If money were no object...

...I'd do our little girl's nursery completely in Restoration Hardware's new baby and child line.

It's so cute that I think my heart is going to explode!

Egads! And the clothing!

Must. Look. Away!

(Obviously I'm a big fan of pink and brown.)
Ohhhh, they have a registry. [wringing hands together]

"The smile that flickers on baby's lips when he sleeps — does anybody know where it was born? Yes, there is a rumor that a young pale beam of a crescent moon touched the edge of a vanishing autumn cloud, and there the smile was first born in the dream of a dew-washed morning."- Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Random baking thoughts

- I love my cookie dough scooper.

- I love my Kitchen-Aid mixer.

- I love this recipe, but I always forget that it makes a TON of cookies before it's too late. I always realize that I wanted to half the measurements after I start mixing ingredients.

- My convection oven could kick your oven's ass.

- When I start a baking marathon, I'm reminded that my ability to stand for long periods is nowhere near as long as it used to be when I worked retail. Two+ hours on my feet tonight. It's so worth it, though.

- I started to mix the ingredients for these cookies and realized that I had mixed up Brent's bread flour with the all-purpose flour. After some internet detective work, I determined that I shouldn't substituted bread flour for all-purpose as the cookies would come out more chewy (and probably not in a good way) because of the extra gluten. Dah! I'm happy I caught it before it was too late.

- Although I really need to just invest in some silpats, I truly appreciate whomever invented parchment paper for baking. Makes clean-up and cooking multiple batches a breeze!

"Holly is sweet and simple. Like a lady baker." - Michael, The Office

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bump Watch 2008, 20 weeks, 6 days - Whooooa, we're halfway there...

We skipped last week's belly pic because we were on vacation. Lately I haven't been feeling like I look pregnant, but instead feel like I just look pudgy.

Brent took some photos this morning. I previewed this one and said, "I don't really look pregnant."
21 weeks exactly

But then Brent took some more after I was messing around with my shirt and he exclaimed, "Whoa! You REALLY look pregnant here!"
21 weeks exactly
So there ya go.

I'm now more than halfway through my pregnancy. I feel pretty good. I've been sleeping even better thanks to the awesome Snoogle pillow that Wan lent me.
Luckily we have a California King bed so I'm still well within my allotted space and Brent doesn't curse me for hogging the bed with my Snoogle.

In other baby news, we picked up our crib yesterday. It's at my in-laws' until we get the second bedroom cleared out for the nursery. I want to get the nursery painted before it gets too hot (August and September are typically the warmest months here in LA). My mom offered to buy the dresser that we want to use as a changing table for the nursery, which was very sweet of her. I also want to get a little bookshelf. I won't say much about the wall decor I have planned until it's done and I have pics to share.

"What a cute bench!" - Pam
"Thanks! That's my bed. Jan, uh, has some space issues so I crawl up on that puppy." - Michael
"He fits perfectly!" - Jan, The Office

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Around the (pregnant) web

How did moms-to-be learn about stuff before the internet? Books, schmooks. Heh.

I love finding sites and blogs for moms-to-be and new moms. Given that half of the women I know seem to pregnant these days, I thought I'd share some of my favorite sites.

Cool Mom Picks - The title tells it all. Cool moms share product finds for other cool moms. Some of the stuff is way out of my price range, but it's fun to know what's out there.

Ohdeedoh - Formerly known as Apartment Therapy's "The Nursery," this site highlights home design and products for kids. I especially love the nursery tours, which is where I found some inspiration for our upcoming nursery. The posts feature items more on the modern side, which I totally dig.

Pregnancy Calendar - This is brought to us via mommy blogger extraordinaire Amalah. This is a fairly new blog/site and I'm technically one week ahead of where she is in the timeline, but I still like to read her weekly updates.

RookieMoms Blog - This site is by two moms who talk about "pregnancy, babies, toddlers and the products that go along with these experiences."

Showing Pregnancy Fashion - This blog features the latest in pregnancy fashion and hot baby products, especially with celeb moms.

Matt, Liz and Madeline - I read quite a few personal blogs of new moms and moms-to-be, but this one deserves a special shout out. It's the blog of a Pasadena man whose wife died suddenly shortly after the birth of their first daughter. Admittedly it may not be the sort of thing that a mom-to-be should be reading, but I can't help but be drawn to it. He chronicles his struggles as a new father and widower. His writing is very concise yet powerful. His daughter is beautiful. His photos are telling. And he's an amazingly strong person.

"Worlds can be found by a child and an adult bending down and looking together under the grass stems or at the skittering crabs in a tidal pool." - Mary Catherine Batesman

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Meal appeal

I'm still not ready to digest and recap our Alaskan trip in its entirety, so I'm just gonna post some pics of food. Not just any food, though - really cool (and sometimes creepy) looking food!

This was near the 24-hour buffet. (Yup, you could get food any time of the day. I'm so tired of eating.)

A head

These were the food sculptures found around the special "Taste of Alaska" buffet.
Little house

Bird in a cage

Notice the flower in the background above, too.

Creepy fish

It's hard to tell because I didn't get a good profile shot of that one, but it's a fish... made out of fish. Creeeeeepy.




"Just be glad you're at the top of the food chain and nothing eats you." - Mary, 3rd Rock from the Sun