Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The system is down, yo

Good news: I've bought and switched over from a blogspot address to my own domain - You should automatically be redirected and still receive my posts if you've subscribed via RSS, Google Reader, etc., but you may want to replace the url in your feeds just in case.

Bad news: Something wonky has happened with my header and sidebar graphics, so my site looks fugly for the moment. I hope to get it resolved by this evening.

UPDATE: Ok, I think it's all good now. Let me know if it looks wonky for you.

"The system is down, down down down down. They're taking over!" - Homestar Runner

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Brentversations

At the house
Me: Crap! My wedding ring won't go on!
Brent: But it fit yesterday?
Me: Yup. I'm just extra bloated today. I don't want to leave the house looking like an unwed mother.
Brent: Don't worry about it. Just don't have sex with any other men.

Over IM
Brent: I ate that crappy Balance Bar because it said it had all the protein but I'm still hungry
Me: Eat bacon
Me: That has protein
Brent: Yeah. Because there's a big plate of bacon here and I'm still deciding whether or not I should eat all the tasty bacon
Brent: It's right next to the bag that says "free money" that I'm on the fence about

"Oh, I've had this conversation before. You're marrying my mom, aren't you?" - Kenneth, 30 Rock

Monday, July 28, 2008

Good love is on the way

I barely missed passing the glucose test. Dang it! So now I have to endure the 3-hour extended test. Bleh.

Apparently any levels above 140 mean a second round of testing, and anything over 200 automatically means gestational diabetes. My results were 152. Bah. The nurse practitioner who called to explain the results and next steps said that because my levels were close to passing, she's pretty sure I'll pass the 3-hour test with no problems, but I still gotta take it. They're faxing over instructions for the next test tomorrow, which I'll probably take later this week or early next week.

Now onto my weekend!

Sunday night South African Ballerina Jen and I trekked down to Irvine to catch John Mayer in concert. We were met with an awful amount of traffic, trying to get into the venue. That stupid venue basically has two lanes to get in and out! Worse than Dodger Stadium! Ugh!

By the time we pulled in, parked, trekked into the venue, went to the bathroom, got a drink and a snack, we only got to catch the last song of Brett Dennen. I was so excited to see him, but it just didn't work out.

Here he is waving good-bye to me.
Brett Dennen

I couldn't complain too much, though, because my fan club seats ended up being in the fifth row of the orchestra section, which was behind only five rows of pit seats. SCORE!

Colbie Caillat, best known for her hit "Bubbly," was the second act.
Colbie Caillat
I wasn't a fan before the show, and frankly, wasn't that impressed. Truth be told there are only a few female singers I really like.

Finally it was time for John to hit the stage!

I knew he had shaved his head recently, which I didn't think I'd like (I love his longer locks), but by the end of the show the style had grown on me.

And we spotted Jennifer Aniston watching from the side of the stage. Awww...

The show was AMAZING! Check out the set list.

When John and his band busted out a rendition of Van Halen's Panama, I about lost it. Two of my favorite worlds colliding! (That's my favorite Van Halen song. Yes, I have a favorite Van Halen song. Shut up.) It also didn't hurt that John whipped his shirt off in tribute to Eddie Van Halen.
Shirtless during Panama

After the kick-ass show we then battled the traffic out of the parking lot. A half an hour later we finally were out of there. It was all worth it, though, as I drifted off to sleep with visions of the spectacular show in my head.

"Oh twice as much ain’t twice as good and can't sustain like one half could. It's wanting more gonna send me to my knees." - Gravity, John Mayer

Friday, July 25, 2008

The sweet life

Today I received my first pregnancy comment from a stranger. He looked at my belly and hesitantly asked, "Sooooo...when are you due?" followed by "Is this your first?" then "Boy or girl?" He seemed very happy for me. Sweet guy.

I was wearing this shirt I bought at Hot Topic shortly after I found out I was pregnant. It's from a kid's show called Yo Gabba Gabba. (Love this Talk Soup clip, btw.) Even though this isn't a maternity tee, I think it's very appropriate given the circumstances.

There's a party in my tummy
By the way, when I asked Brent to take a pic of my shirt, I didn't realize he was including me from the neck up. I wouldn't have been messing with my hair and probably would have smiled had I known. Didn't want you to think I was purposely trying to give you all bedroom eyes.

This morning I fasted for three hours in preparation for my glucose screening. When it came time to finally drink this bottle of liquid, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it tasted EXACTLY. LIKE. HAWAIIAN. PUNCH! My mother-in-law jokingly offered to add some tequila and lime to it for me before she took me to get my blood drawn. Mmm... probably wouldn't have been half-bad blended with some ice. Glucose Slurpees for everyone!

Fruit punch
I had my MIL take me to the doctor's instead of Brent because it was going to be a simple blood draw, but I still wanted someone to drive me. I had heard that some women have very adverse reactions to the test -- including nausea, extreme fatigue, headaches, etc. -- and I wanted to be prepared in the event that I couldn't drive myself back. I felt fine after drinking the liquid and getting my blood drawn. The nurse didn't exactly use kid gloves when taking my blood, so now I have a gnarly bruise on my arm. I should find out the results Monday morning.

My MIL and I grabbed some lunch on the way home. By the time I finished eating, I started to feel the sugar crash. I headed home and proceeded to nap for two and a half hours! I woke up at one point in a pool of drool (sorry, TMI) and in that nap haze where you have to figure out what time and even what day it is. I was happy to remember that it was only Friday evening.

Weekend, here I come!

"Malls are just awful and humiliating. They’re just store after store of these horrible salespeople making a big fuss out of an adult shopping in a junior’s section. There are petite adults who are sort of … smaller, who need to wear … maybe a kids’ size 10." - Angela, The Office

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So you think you can find me

So You Think You Can Dance

I have friends in high places, or at least in places with digital capturing systems. Do ya see me? (This was around minute 50, if you still have it on Tivo.)

I just watched this week's results show.

Me no likey the outcome.

"Oh, but I don't actually wanna work in television. Career-wise, I'm just gonna marry rich and design handbags." - Cerie, 30 Rock


I totally forgot to mention that I had an ultrasound last week because I'd been measuring big at my previous appointment!

Em Dash is measuring about a week ahead and at the time was 2.5 lbs., but the doctor said it's perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. My fluid levels are fine and she's measuring in the 69th percentile, so she's a little big.

We got a few pics from the ultrasound, but none of her entire body as she was wrapped all around my tummy. Her head was positioned in my lower right stomach area, her body wrapped around toward the left side of my belly with her legs and feet above my belly button.

Here's one, mostly of her head. You can click on the photo to see the notes of where her head is exactly, if it's hard for you to tell.


Don't laugh when I tell you that I saw her profile on the ultrasound screen and thought, "Hey! She kind of has my lips and nose!" Heh.

"Modern invention has banished the spinning wheel, and the same law of progress makes the woman of today a different woman from her grandmother." - Susan B. Anthony

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bump Watch 2008, 27 weeks, 2 days

I've been waiting until I was sure that all the recipients had them, so now I can finally share with you the awesome invites the lovely justJENN created for my baby shower that she's co-hosting.

Check 'em out here.

Are they not the cutest little things EVER? Seriously, above and beyond what I expected. Friends and family keep telling me, "Your invitations? Unbelievable!" and "Have you seen your invites? They're AWESOME!"

Yup, that's justJENN for ya.

When she offered to host my shower, I told her that I'd only let her if she promised not to go crazy-go-nuts... 'cuz that's what she does. She is so detailed and Martha-esque.

Since my in-laws have the perfect place for parties, I suggested that she co-host it with my mother-in-law there. (My MIL is also quite the party planner.) That also minimizes the crazy-go-nutsness from justJENN, hopefully giving her more time to focus on her own sublime madness that she has going on.

I'm so very excited! And this is only one of the two fabulous showers being thrown for me!

In other pregnancy news, I'm feeling pretty good these days, despite some heartburn. (Tums are my new besties.) Oh, and I totally thought I'd escape this pregnancy thing with minimal stretch marks - I had two tiny ones that popped up about a month ago. Despite my constant slathering of special lotions, the two tiny ones are now accompanied by a ton more lil' buddies. Bastards.

It's actually no big surprise. I know you can't really prevent stretch marks - it's all about genetics, etc. I was just hoping the lotions might minimize the impact. And I'm prone to them anyway. I got a few when I had a growth spurt between jr. high and high school (4 inches in one summer - yikes), and when I lost weight for the wedding. Whatevs. I won't hold them against Em Dash.

Friday I'm doing my glucose screening, praying that I don't have gestational diabetes ("a high blood sugar condition that some women get during pregnancy"). I have a tiny bottle filled with syrupy pink stuff in my 'fridge that I have to drink down an hour before getting my blood drawn - unlike Mrs. Mogul, who lucked out with Orange Crush instead for her glucose screening. I'm not anticipating issues with the pink stuff, simply because I'm a sugar fiend, but because I'm a sugar fiend I'm a little worried about the results of my screening. Think un-sugarfied thoughts for me Friday afternoon!

And now it's time for my not-quite-weekly belly pic. Thank you to everyone who comments, both on blog and via email, about my pics. I take them as a fun record for myself, but I like that peeps seem to enjoy my progression.

27 weeks, 2 days

Today a new co-worker asked me how far along I was. She said I hardly looked pregnant. Really? I thought that my pregnancy waddle gave it all away. I told her that if not for my giant boobs, perhaps my baby belly would look bigger in comparison.

"Shut up, Fatso! I don't have a pot! I have a bit of a tummy, like Madonna when she did 'Lucky Star,' it's not the same thing...Pot bellies make a man look either oafish, or like a gorilla. But on a woman, a pot belly is very sexy. The rest of you is normal. Normal face, normal legs, normal hips, normal ass, but with a big, perfectly round pot belly. If I had one, I'd wear a tee-shirt two sizes too small to accentuate it." - Fabienne, Pulp Fiction

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So You Think You Can Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog

In the 5th grade, I won an impromptu dance contest for an anti-drug campaign that came to my school. They corralled a bunch of classes into the cafeteria, put on some music and said they'd give a prize to the best guy and girl dancer. I won a t-shirt and some buttons.

When I was in the 6th grade, I was voted "Most Likely To Become a Solid Gold Dancer."

My friends and I watched "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (the movie, not the Cyndi Lauper video) and begged our moms to enroll us in dance class. I tried ballet and jazz for a season, but wasn't a big fan.

I've taken some hip-hop classes at my gym and can hold my own. I joke that in my next life, I'll be a back-up dancer.

Naturally, I'm a big fan of FOX's So You Think You Can Dance. I got into it during the second season. Lucky for me my co-worker (CW) is also a big fan. And even luckier for me is that her sister works for FOX and was able to get us into last night's taping for this week's So You Think You Can Dance!

My CW's sis told the folks at the show that I was pregnant, so they originally had seats guaranteed for us. But then apparently some celeb wanted to attend the taping so our guaranteed seats were no longer guaranteed. Not a big deal. When we arrived and asked for a specific contact, as instructed, she came to great us at the VIP Gate. She was excited to chat with me about being pregnant, seeing as she had an 11-month-old son herself. She gave us some swanky badges and said that although she couldn't get us seats, we'd be welcome to rest in the Green Room when I got tired. Sweet!

They made us leave cell phones and cameras at the door, so sadly I have no pics to share. Take my word for it, though, when I say that the Green Room was pretty cool - a lot of tables with gorgeous floral centerpieces, a barista making blended drinks and coffees, a buffet table, flat screen TVs to watch the taping if you were hanging there instead of in the studio, etc.

After chilling in there for about a half hour, we were escorted into the studio. The stage, and set overall actually, is MUCH smaller in person than it appears on TV. We were asked to wait in another area while they ushered in "the masses" (aka peeps who didn't have the cool VIP badges like us). After everyone was seemingly settled, they brought my CW and I to a little mosh pit area to the right of the stage (if you're looking at the stage from the audience's point of view). We were only standing there for a minute and a half before our lovely point of contact came over and said, "Oooh, we got some seats for you gals!" She led us to the risers where there were seats for me to rest my pregnant feet. It was also a much better vantage point of the stage.

My CW leaned over and said, "Thank you for being pregnant!" Heh. I've said it before and I'll say it again - pregnancy has its priviledges.

We were seated behind Joshua and Chelsie's families, so if they show them holding up signs during tomorrow's episode, look for me behind them.

We also had a pretty good view of the choreographers' section. Most of my favorites were there as they had choreographed routines this week, which just made me gleeful.

My CW and I were most excited to see Will, Twitch and Joshua. Love those boys! I'm also a big fan of Courtney and Chelsie.

I won't reveal any spoilers, but I have to say that this was probably the best episode of the season. There's a really different but surprisingly relevant guest judge this week. There was probably only one performance that I wasn't a huge fan of. And I'm not just saying that because I was there to experience it live. Even the judges noted that it was a really good night.

If you're a fan, be sure not to miss this episode.

Michael: Stripper? Could I ask you a question? About women? Um … should I tell my girlfriend that you danced up on me?
Elizabeth: Secret secrets are no fun. Secret secrets hurt someone.
Michael: Wow. Thank you.
- The Office

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Picture this

As previously noted, something wonky happened with my memory card, so I was not a snap-happy BlogHer attendee.

I did, however, arrive home tonight (after a two-hour delay in SFO - yuck) and took some photos to tell you more about my BlogHer journey.

I attended the conference for work, but didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to pimp my own blog, so I decided at the last minute to buy a custom stamp to add my URL to the back of my business cards. It worked out nicely.
URL stamp

I realized I didn't have the perfect bag to lug around all the stuff I'd need to carry at the conference, so imagine my happiness when I discovered this bad boy at where else? Target! $24.99 for this pearly goodness! It also comes in brown, black and green.
Beautiful bag

I came home with a HUGE stack o' cards! From left to right, they're divided into three groups - bloggers I met, bloggers I met who had the super cute teeny tiny MOO cards, and peeps I need to know for work purposes.
Cards galore!

BlogHer featured a swap meet area, where I picked up these little cuties for Em Dash. Each time I pick up something for her, I swear to Brent that "this is the last time I buy ANYTHING for her until after my showers, promise!"
Swap meet finds
The hat is from Dawn and the shirt is from Kristen.

At the end of one of the sessions I attended about blogging and monetization, I picked up one of these free shirts. It's funny 'cuz it's TRUE!

When we met up with Matt and Nicole for dinner last night, look what they brought for Em Dash! Soooo super cute! Brent thanked them for not choosing stuff that was predominately pink. He's apparently already overloaded on pink, which is part of the reason I chose the red shirt above. (My fabulous mother-in-law has cleared every Marshall's discount store within a 10-mile radius of pink baby clothes on Em Dash's behalf. She's got a lot o' pink.)
More clothes for Em Dash!

And while I was uploading these photos, I discovered that two of the photos I took at BlogHer actually worked! One of the conference sponsors was Sesame Street, who set up an awesome little suite to preview their new website, provide tasty treats and even let folks film a DVD with Grover (an actual puppet with the puppeteer and everything!) or another character whose name I don't know yet but probably will in about three years. I tried to sign up on the second day to film a DVD after Brent mentioned that it would be a pretty cool thing for Em Dash to watch when she was older ("Mommy, you MET Grover?!?!?"), but they were all booked up, sadly.

I did, however, snap these photos of the treats.
Sesame Street cupcakes

C is for cookies

"The Black Crusaders are a secret group of powerful Black Americans. Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey are the chief majors, but Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell and Gordon from Sesame Street, they're members, too and they meet four times a year in the skull of the Statue of Liberty. You can read about that on the Interweb." - Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock

Saturday, July 19, 2008

BlogHer or bust!

I don't even know where to start with my BlogHer08 recap. I may have to sort it out in a later post. Sadly, I did not snap one single photo. I brought the wrong memory card for my little point-and-shoot camera. Boo.

In the meantime, I'm at the hotel with Brent. He works up here in San Francisco once a week, coincidentally at a hotel just a few blocks from the BlogHer conference, so that worked out nicely.

I skipped the last BlogHer cocktail event tonight to spend some time with Brent and our Nor. Cal pals, Matt and Nicole. Dinner was DELISH but pregnancy heartburn has reared its ugly head. Ugh.

Anyhow, I can easily look back at the entire conference and say that I accomplished everything I wanted to -- and more! I got some great fodder for articles I'm doing for my work. I met lots of freelance writers who'd be great for my company's site. I met all the wonderful gals I had hoped to. They were all super sweet and exactly as I'd hoped. I met a gazillion other fabulous bloggers to fill my already-way-too-full Google Reader.

I'm thinking more about what I want to happen with this site, including redesign and perhaps even incorporating some unintrusive advertising. I've learned about some exciting tools and tricks. We'll see what I end up doing with it all, but I'm even more pumped up about being a blogger than I was before.

I really enjoyed being with my "people." That is, people who don't look at me sideways when I say, "I'm a blogger."

I'll try to pull together a more coherent recap post later. My feet are tired and my brain is full.

Oh, total tangent, but I got called back for a second audition for the game show! Whee!!!

"Oh Jenna, that's great. For the first time in your life you'll be in a room full of women and you'll be the least crazy one." - Pete Hornberger, 30 Rock

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mama needs a new pair of shoes

Tonight I auditioned for another game show. They didn't mention anything about restrictions for people who've been on other game shows, so I figured I'd go and see what I could do.

They were short-staffed, so the auditions took waaaaaaaay longer than they should have (I was there for nearly four hours), but I think I did pretty well in the three minutes I had to show them what I got. Perkiness has its privileges. I think they really dug the pregnancy thing when they asked me to tell them something cool about myself. They smiled big and asked when I was due. I totally played up the pregnancy card in my interview and the HUGE application I filled out. Em Dash needs a college fund! And a bigger place to live! Show me the money! C'mon!

The show is normally filmed in NYC, but they're filming some shows in LA early next month. They told me I did a good job and hopefully I'll hear something good from them soon!

I got to drive my shiny new car across town to the auditions, held at a hotel. When I got back to my car, I saw that someone had left me a note. My first thought was, "Crap! Someone backed into my car!" But when I pulled it out from the windshield wiper, it said, "People make mistakes dick! FUCK YOU!"

Um, jigga what? Jigga who? Honestly, I don't think that's meant for me. When I pulled into the parking lot, there was hardly anyone there, and no cars on either side of me. I was well-within my allotted parking lines. And as Brent noted, people don't usually call girls "dicks."

When I left, there was some big party going on at the hotel's restaurant. My guess is that someone at that party was pissed at someone else from that party, who happens to have bought a brand new car like mine. Or maybe someone parked really poorly next to me, and then someone else who parked on the other side of them didn't like the way they parked and left them a note about their crappy parking job. Then the offending parker thought I left the note.

Who knows?

I immediately checked my car for damage, like tire slashing or keying, but it appears to be fine. I'm not worried about some crazy stalker. Like I said, I don't think it was meant for me. Actually, I find it humorous because it sounds like someone was pissed for being reprimanded for their own stupid mistake.


"Which one of you thought this was the game show where you were asked how often you and your spouse made whoopie?" - George Gray, Weakest Link

Monday, July 14, 2008

BlogHer preparedness

I know these fine ladies are attending BlogHer this week:

- Gorgeous Footsteps in the Sand
- La Petite Chic
- The Spohrs Are Multiplying
- Sizzle Says
- Greeblemonkey

Am I missing anyone else who regular reads me and vice versa? I want to make sure I make arrangements to meet everyone in between the stuff I'll be doing there for work.

And I'm stealing the following from La Petite Chic, who stole if from someone else.

Things You Should Know About Me When We Meet at BlogHer

1. There are some bloggers who are more extroverted online than they are in person. Or they're more blunt online than they would be in person. Me? In person, I'm just like I am online. What you read is what you get. A pleasant online Nanette is just like the pleasant real-life Nanette.

2. If I know you (and I feel like I know the gals mentioned above), I'm fine with you touching my pregnant belly if you're a belly-toucher. I know there are some pregnant women who don't like others to touch their bellies, but if I know you, it's cool. If I weren't pregnant, though, I would find that weird. Can you imagine women just groping each other? Ok, wait - that sounds dirty...

3. I haven't really given a lot of thought to what I'm going to wear. I may end up pretty casual in jeans or maybe I'll wear a dress. I think it all depends on the shoes. These days high-heels are no longer my friends, so I spend most of my days in flip-flops and flats.

4. I'm attending BlogHer because of work, actually, so I may bug you about your thoughts, from a blogger's perspective, on a piece or two I'm writing about the event. I also may have to leave a very social and fabulous conversation to go track down more info for my pieces and network as I've promised my editors.

5. I smile a lot. It just comes naturally. I can't help it. If you are a brooding, dark personality, I apologize in advance for offending you, heh.

6. I also giggle a lot, but I'm (hopefully) not annoying or obnoxious. I try to find the fun in everything I do and everyone around me.

7. I might hug you. I do that to a lot of peeps when I feel I already know them from the blogosphere. (I already know that Sizzle is a hugger, too!) Hey, if it didn't scare justJENN, then it probably won't scare you. Having said that, if I get a "please don't hug me" vibe from you, or if you're wearing something with a lot of spikes, then I won't hug you.

8. I talk fast. Feel free to ask me to repeat myself.

9. I may totally blank on your name or tell you something I've already told you or lose my thought in mid-sentence. I promise I'm not always so flaky - it's pregnancy brain.

10. I may complain about being thirsty because it's not second nature for me to remember to drink a lot of water, especially when I'm really busy at events. I may also leave you a lot to use the restroom, thanks to Em Dash.

"The internet is like a giant jellyfish. You can't step on it. You can't go around it. You've got to get through it." - John Evans

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's about time!

Yesterday afternoon, on a whim, I texted the sales guy at the Cerritos dealer. "I take it my car isn't in yet?" His response? "It just rolled off the truck and it's beautiful!" I let out a whoop and told Brent we had to go!

I was getting thiiiiis close to compromising on what color combo I wanted. I was so fed up with Cerritos that I even went back to the Culver City dealer on Friday (the one who was going to charge $500 more, including $350 of non-essential accessories) to check one out with a different interior. I wasn't in love with the combo, but I started to convince myself that it might not be so bad.

But once I heard that the exact one I wanted had arrived, I knew that I had to have it. We made the 30-mile trek, filled out some finance paper work, then anxiously awaited the arrival of my car while they detailed it.

It's beautiful. It's much higher than my two-door sports car. I can actually drive more than one person at a time -- plenty of room for Em Dash! It drives smoothly and has tons of great features. It's going to take a little while to get used to, but I'm so very excited.

Sadly I won't be sharing exactly what car I got (a little blog paranoia on my end), but if you happen to be a Flickr friend, you should be able to see it here.

Most of all I'm happy to be done with all the drama and the headaches. It's mine, all mine!

"Go to my car. Open the trunk. Inside, you will see many pelts. Under the smallest one is a case. Inside that case is a bear horn. Bring it to me." - Dwight, The Office

Saturday, July 12, 2008

So, so, so good at Sona

Brent and I celebrated my 31st birthday at Sona, one of LA's most upscale restaurants. I wasn't familiar with it, but Brent said he'd been hoping to try it since it opened years ago. Seeing as he and I have similar tastes, I was all for it.

Before I take you through our culinary adventures, be forewarned that this is going to be a long, gluttonous post. You may want to undo your belt buckle a couple notches by the time you're done. You can click on any photo for larger versions of the tasty goodness.

We started with some delicious bread - a soft tea bread and a tomato bread with funky spikes. I said it looked like an evil donut. This was followed by a liquid watermelon amuse bouche with melon.
Tea bread, tomato bread Watermelon amuse bouche

Brent and I decided on the 9-course tasting menu. Yup, I said NINE. Brent was gung-ho about it and I was ready to go along for the ride. Keep in mind that the portions are generally small, but nine definitely added up.

Instead of choosing from a set tasting menu, our waiter simply asked us if we had any dietary restrictions/preferences. After explaining that my pregnancy didn't allow for raw meats/fish, certain fish high in mercury and unpasteurized cheeses, they assured us that they'd have no issues coming up with a fabulous menu. And apparently Brent was already conscious of this and had called the restaurant to ask them about accommodating his pregnant wife's inability to eat tile fish (because it's so high in mercury), which he had seen on the online menu. So sweet!

This tasting menu was also different from others I've had in that for most courses they brought out "tandem" foods to allow us to taste a larger variety of the menu. Many of the courses we'd each eat half and then switch.

Course 1: Sashimi for Brent, organic heirloom tomato salad with sherry vinaigrette for me. (Obviously no dish-swapping here.)
Course 1 Course 1

Course 2: I had the crispy sweetbreads, corn puree, mushrooms while Brent had lobster ravioli with burrata cheese.
Course 2 Course 2

Course 3: I was served the bass while Brent got the halibut.
Course 3 Course 3

Course 4: Pork with green bean salad and blood sausage. Then duck with mushrooms (sorry about the blurry photo on that one).
Course 4 Course 4

Course 5: Venison with tomato confit. Tenderloin with mushrooms.
Course 5 Course 5

Course 6: Before this arrived, I was already bursting at the seams. My pregnant belly doesn't allow for as much food as it used to. But this was reported to be one of the highlights of the meal, so we were excited. We were both served wagyu beef, which is also known as kobe beef. Basically, you can't get better beef than this. And it was pretty fan-freakin-tastic! Rich and buttery and tender and... well, I think Brent would leave me if someone offered enough of this beef in return.
Course 6

Cheese plate: This doesn't even count as one of the nine courses! (Is your stomach exploding yet?) From left to right we had French, Swiss and Italian cheeses, with delicious sides paired perfectly.
Cheese plate

Course 7: We both had lime ice with berries in spun sugar and lavender. Em Dash went crazy-go-nuts kicking after I had the super-strong lime ice. It was only a bite's worth, but enough to get her going.
Course 7

Course 8: The first is an ice cream over a reduced Coke syrup. And I swear to you, I think they threw some Pop Rocks (or very Pop Rock-like) on top. Apparently they'd never heard that urban legend about Pop Rocks and soda. Heh. But we didn't care - we ate it anyway! The other dish was a corn ice cream with corn kernels. Seriously. And it wasn't bad, actually! Corn is naturally a bit sweet, so it's not that far of a stretch if you're adventurous.
Course 8 Course 8

Course 9: Chocolate donut with smoked ice cream. The second dish, from left to right, something with apricot paper, chocolate with sesame cracker, miso ice cream, pureed apricot. The chocolate donut was our least favorite item of the entire meal. It wasn't sweet at all and it was more like a bad flourless chocolate cake than a donut.
Course 9 Course 9

Just when I thought we were done and I was ready to be rolled out the door like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they surprised me with these assorted mini treats in honor of my birthday. Somehow we made room for them - they were soooo worth it.
Special treat

But THEN a waitress with an evil giggle plopped down this huge basket of mini-madeleines. She said, "I couldn't resist! I heard it was your birthday!" Brent laughed and said to her, "Are you freakin' kidding me?!?!?!" We ate a couple and then had to ask for them to be wrapped up. They were just as yummy for breakfast this morning.
MORE special treats!

In addition to the tasty meal above, we were quite impressed with the service at Sona. They had very choreographed methods to put down and pick up our dishes. I joked that it was like Noah's Arc because they all traveled in pairs. Our waiter happily answered all our questions about the dishes, especially the beef, even down to the type of lemon they gave Brent for his water. Each dish was carefully explained to us when presented, and they were able to easily accommodate my pregnancy guidelines. Nearly four hours later, we were happily stuffed.

We obviously don't splurge like this on meals very often, but as Brent pointed out, we were a bit backlogged on some other celebratory occasions - like his somewhat recent new job, our pregnancy, etc. And that rare dining experience was definitely worth it!

"How can I describe it? Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it." - Gusteau, Ratatouille

Birthday bliss

Thanks, everyone, for all the birthday wishes! It was, overall, a pleasant day.

My in-laws sent me flowers and chocolates. My co-workers gave me an Amazon gift certificate. I had tons of emails, ecards, MySpace and Facebook notes. And Brent brought home some cake from my favorite bakery, Susina. He also gave me some new perfume, which I had asked him to pick out as I'm almost out of my current perfume. He did well by coming home with Calvin Klein's Eternity Summer.
He obviously likes the way it smells and although I wasn't familiar with it before, I think he made an awesome choice! It's light and fun.

The plan that evening was to pick up my car, which should have arrived by Thursday -- at the LATEST. But when I checked in with the sales guy via text message, he said that the 8 with navi had arrived, but my car wasn't among them. He's "praying that it arrives by Monday." Arrrrrr! The car drama ended up giving me a massive headache, which I tried to sleep off when I got home and waited for Brent's arrival. I took some meds and finally felt up to going out to dinner.

My big birthday celebration dinner was scheduled for Friday night (more on that in my next post), so I wanted something low key for Thursday night. We ended up at C&O Trattoria, a nearby Italian restaurant. Brent and I split a salad, then I had some angel hair while he had calamari steak.

During his very last bite, he felt something in his food. He pulled out what he thought was an industrial-strength staple! Luckily it didn't stab his cheek or tongue, nor did he chip a tooth, but still! Freaky! We called the waitress over, who then grabbed her manager. He took it with him to the kitchen for a second, then came back and said, "Um, actually, that's not a staple. I've NEVER seen this before, but it's a fish hook!" Apparently the squid had swallowed it, ending up within the flesh itself. Super freaky!

He apologized profusely, took Brent's dish off our bill and then offered us free dessert. A wild, wild dinner, lemme tell ya. Oh, but that's nothing compared to my next post...

"You better fix this nerd. Otherwise Jack Donaghy is gonna kill me, then he's gonna kill you, then he's gonna fold us up in a pizza and eat us." - Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

Thursday, July 10, 2008

She's always buzzing just like neon

Today is my 31st birthday.

Me, at I'm guessing 9-10 months?

Last year I said, "This is going to be a great year, I just know it." And I was right. Turning 30 wasn't as bad as people make it to be. In fact, this year turned out to be pretty fantastic.

Obviously a lot has happened, particularly in the last seven months. Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I'm really enjoying being pregnant. Despite the exhaustion that came along with the first trimester, this has been really fun. Everyone is so excited for us, and Em Dash is already so loved.

This whole process is simply amazing. Every other day or so I look at Brent and say, "Can you believe that we've made a little girl? And she's growing inside me?!?!"

Her increasing kicks and punches and movements are seriously the coolest thing ever. I've vented about the frustrating car process, but last week when I was at the peak of my annoyance, Em Dash kicked me. It was as if she was reminding me, "Hey, mom. Don't sweat the small stuff. Ya got me, remember?" I couldn't help but giggle. My mood instantly lifted.

As I do with much of my outlook on life, I realize how blessed I am. I'm healthy. I have a roof over my head. I'm surrounded by friends and family who support me and everything I do. I have very little room to complain.

I can't complain about being pregnant because there are sooooo many people out there who would love to be a happy and healthy pregnant woman. I may miss sushi and hate that my boobs have taken on a life of their own. And come week 35 or so, I may become a bitchy, uncomfortable mess. But I know that there are others who will have to endure so much more than Brent and I did to get where we are now, as well as others who will sadly never get where we are. Therefore I have a really hard time being anything more than gleeful about the blessing bestowed upon us.

This is an exciting time, so thank you for enduring my baby talk and allowing me to share this wonderful experience with you.

Oh, and this year is going to be even BETTER than the last. Next year I'll be celebrating with my beautiful little girl!

"I took an extra shot of insulin in preparation for this cake today. If I don’t have some cake soon, I might die." - Stanley, The Office

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hurry up and wait

Are you ready for more car drama? 'Cuz I got some for ya.

Friday morning the Cerritos dealer called to confirm that the exact car I want is coming in... on Thursday. Boooo!

Apparently there are 27 of the models coming in, eight with the navigation system that I want, with only ONE in the color combo I want. So he suggested that in order to guarantee that that ONE car would be MINE and that no one else could sell it, we should come in and fill out all the paperwork for it.

"I'll bring the car out to you on Thursday to save you another trip out here!" he offered. Hmmm...ok. That's intriguing.

Rightfully Brent didn't want to go into the dealership and leave our down payment without seeing the exact car we're getting, so they told him that we could give the down payment to the sales guy when he dropped the car off to us. Brent also talked to the sales guy's boss to make sure that if for some reason the car that arrived was NOT the one we wanted, that we wouldn't be contractually bound to that car. They assured him that we wouldn't.

We made the trip out there that afternoon, thankfully with no traffic on the freeway, an LA rarity. We arrived, met the sales guy we'd been dealing with and then took one more test drive in the make and model I want. We went back to his desk, filled out the preliminary paper work and then made our way to the finance guy.

We discussed our financing options, then he asked about our down payment. We were planning to put a pretty good chunk down -- when they delivered the car to us. He had no idea what we were talking about. He called one of our sales guy's bosses, not the one Brent had talked to previously. The boss had no idea what we were talking about. So Brent told the finance guy to get the other boss on the phone. He did, and the other boss acted dumb, saying she had no idea what Brent was referring to. "I didn't know there was talk of delivering the car to you." Ugh.

The finance guy explained that the dealer's policy does not allow them to deliver cars to owners because they wouldn't be held liable if something happened between the dealership and us. We called our sales guy back in, who was apologetic and didn't realize that that was the policy. I don't think he was trying to dupe us - I honestly think he didn't know. He's only been with that dealer for a month, and I get the feeling that his previous dealer didn't have that sort of policy.

Regardless, we were annoyed.

We went back and forth with the finance guy about our options because Brent still didn't want to put any money down on a car we hadn't seen. We figured out and confirmed that we could sign up for financing through the dealer at the same rate offered by our credit union with no money down on that day, ensure that the exact car I wanted was mine, then when we come back on Thursday we'd redo the contract with our down payment included.

Are ya still with me?

So that's what we're doing.

While sitting in the finance office, Brent said to me, exhausted, "Ok, maybe this wasn't worth the $500 we're saving by coming out here."

But he later took that back.

And he keeps joking that he'll figure out a way to spend the $500 on me that we're saving on the car. I joked that I'm going to make him buy me a REALLY nice handbag.

In all honesty, I've waited nearly 31 years for a brand new car. One more week won't kill me. My poor co-workers (and my dear readers) have had to endure my car saga. I'm sure they'll be happy when it's all done with and I can FINALLY stop using the "I can't drive us to lunch because my car only fits two people" excuse.

I don't know if we'll pick up my car on Thursday evening or the weekend, assuming that it arrives on schedule. Thursday is my actual birthday, so I'm not sure if I want to spend that evening sitting in traffic to get my new car. And Friday I'd like to celebrate with a delicious dinner, so the car pick-up may not happen until Saturday. We'll see how it all unravels. At this point I wouldn't be surprised to endure more drama. "Nanette, the good news is that your car is here! The bad news is that it had an accident with a truck full of manure so we'll knock off $50 'cuz it no longer has the new car smell...."

"After school, walking home, fresh dirt under my fingernails. And I can smell hot asphalt. Cars screech to a halt to let me pass. And I cannot remember what life was like through photographs. Trying to recreate images life gives us from our past." - The Sun, Maroon 5

Bump Watch 2008, 25 weeks, 1 day

Looking a little crazy-eyed here, but otherwise I like this pic.
25 weeks, 1 day

This week Brent and I have been experimenting with different music for Em Dash.

She seems to like The Beach Boys, Another Bad Creation and Information Society, kicking emphatically during each song, although I'm not sure if she's kicking in approval or disapproval. These were Brent's song choices while driving around over the weekend.

With headphones on my belly last night, she enjoyed Ray LaMontagne (she went particularly nuts when I played him, and she's kicking up a storm now as I have that song on in the background), Sesame Street's People in Your Neighborhood and Tchaikovsky.

Em Dash literally stopped in her tracks when I played Rick Springfield, Rooney and The Spice Girls -- and I don't think it was in awe.

She was active when we saw STP recently, and I imagine it'll be even more of the same when I take her to the next four concerts on my agenda.

"Don't let your mind get weary and confused. Your will be still, don't try. Don't let your heart get heavy child. Inside you there's a strength that lies." - Be Here Now, Ray LaMontagne

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Weekend highlights

This was a nice long weekend, although it went by too quickly, as always.

I kicked it off with the new John Mayer CD, which is from the show I saw late last year. I was going to also purchase the special edition DVD from Target, but they were all out. I'll settle for the standard edition, no problem.

The CD is fantastic, just like the show. I've listened to it half a dozen times already this weekend.

Saturday morning Brent and I swung by one of my favorite bakeries, The City Bakery. While trying to decide whether we both wanted to eat there or instead try one of the nearby food stands, I noticed a cute little girl giggling as she played with her dad at their table. "Awwww," I thought. "How sweet!" Then I realized that I recognized the little girl. Then the dad. Then the mom. It was Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck and their adorable daughter, Violet! They all looked so happy!

My favorite treat from The City Bakery is the pretzel croissant. A close second is the Baker's Muffin. I took one to go and posed it for my camera later. (I'm trying to play with our camera more.)

Baker's Muffin

Fueled with yummy food, we headed off to register at Right Start, the first of the two places we're registering for Em Dash. (Actually, I did register at the Restoration Hardware Baby & Child site but mainly to get the $100 coupon for a $300 purchase. I'm not counting that as an official registry.)

I already knew most of what I wanted to register at Right Start, but there were a few things I wanted to see in person before adding to the registry. Same thing with our other registry, which I started online Saturday afternoon. We'll save that in-store trip for another weekend. I have to get the registries ready for my two showers in August. I'm so excited for both of them!

Yesterday Brent showed me how to use my Bluetooth headset, which I've only had since, ohhhh, Christmas 2006. I know, I know -- talk about lazy. But with the new CA hands-free law, it was time to finally learn. I like to call my mom and other peeps on my way home from work, which I wasn't able to do last week.

And tonight Brent had a hankering for strawberry shortcake, his favorite dessert. So he whipped up some biscuits and homemade whipped cream while I cut up some strawberries. They turned out soooo delicious! I warned him that they may become a constant craving for this pregnant gal.

Biscuits for shortcake

Strawberry shortcake

"I got half a smile and zero shame. I got a reflection with a different name. Got a brand new blues I can't explain. Who did you think I was?" - Who Did You Think I Was?, John Mayer

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Deal or no deal

What have I been doing since I last posted on Sunday? Oh, having bipolar moments with this whole car-buying thing. I swear, it's been as, if not more, stressful than buying our condo. Seriously.

Let me walk you through where we've been and where we are.

A friend of mine who works for the car brand I want suggested a car dealer in Simi Valley (about 40 miles from here) who could potentially give us a great deal on the car I want. We called him, found out what he had in stock and what it'd cost us. Didn't seem like an awful deal, but we still wanted to shop around.

Brent emailed the quote to a bunch of the internet sales managers at dealers around Los Angeles. One in Culver City responded and said he could beat it by about $900. Great! Then we found that forum I mentioned previously where owners across the country compared their out-the-door prices for the car I want. One in particular was $1K less, from an "LA dealer," than the Culver City dealer. (We didn't find out exactly which LA dealer the message board guy was referring to.) So we sent that link to the Culver City guy. He said he'd see what his management team would do.

Then he came back to us and said that the one he had in stock was actually going to cost $350 more because of accessories already on the car (mud flaps, wheel lock, etc.) Um, we wanted to pay less, not more. So he went back to the drawing board to see if he locate one we wanted that didn't already have accessories. He called around and said everything he could find already had those accessories. Arrgggg....

Then he agreed to give us a reduced price on the one they had with the accessories if we financed through them instead of the credit union where I was pre-approved. I didn't have an issue with that because he was offering a better rate. Great! We're all set, right?

I was going to pick up the car last night, but Brent was out of town for work and has the bulk of our down payment in his account and my father-in-law wasn't available to go with me to cover the down payment while Brent was gone. So I had to wait until tonight after work.

My darling husband called about an hour before I left for the Culver City dealership. "I don't know if I should tell you this or not, but I just got a last-minute response to one of my emails. They're offering the car without all the accessories and for $500 less. Oh, yeah. And it's in Cerritos." A quick search on Google Maps showed Cerritos is 30 miles from here, which in rush hour could take about, oh, two hours. What the???

Brent took that Cerritos offer back to the Culver City dealer. Nope, wouldn't budge and match the price.

So if I wanted the car and wanted to make my husband happy, I'd have to make the trek to Cerritos. My father-in-law didn't initially want to take me to Cerritos in crazy traffic. But he agreed to take me if we waited until traffic died down at 7.

Sure, no problem.

Oh, and one additional point to make here - there's a certain color, inside and out, that I want. I was flexible early on, but now I have my heart set on this certain combo in a particular trim level. Brent quadruple checked with the Cerritos dealer that the car they had for me was EXACTLY what I wanted. He told them, "Look, my wife is pregnant. I'm not sending her all the way out there only to find that the car is not what she's hoping for." The dealer assured him that they had exactly what I wanted.

Fast-forward to 7 p.m. tonight, my father-in-law and I just hopped on the freeway. I call the dealer, as he had requested, to give him a heads-up that we were on our way.

"HI!" the dealer exclaims as he hears it's me. At that exact moment, my phone buzzes on the other line, but I don't switch over as I see it's Brent. I figure that the dealer is going to tell me whatever Brent, who has just stepped off a plane at LAX, has to say. The dealer gives me the lowdown. "Soooo today is actually my day off. But after talking to your husband I went in to double-check the car. And it turns out that our inventory manager had entered the wrong color code in the system, so the car we have in stock doesn't have the interior color you want."

::insert banging head on brick wall here::

"However, one just like you want is coming tomorrow or sometime this weekend."

Fine, I'll wait for it. In fairness to the dealer, he had called Brent as soon as he realized that there was a mix-up. (He didn't have my number.) He left three frantic messages. "Brent! There's a problem. Call me!" And apparently they have 1,700 cars (it's the Wal-Mart of car dealers), so it's not unreasonable to think that mix-ups happen every now and then. Of course, the mix-up had to happen to me.


Yes, I'm eventually getting my shiny new car and I'm super excited.

I'd just like to get it before Em Dash's high school graduation.

"Who are these people? These faces? Where did they come from? They look like caricatures of used car dealers from Dallas, and sweet Jesus, there are a hell of a lot of them at 4:30 on a Sunday morning. Still humping the American dream." - Raoul Duke, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas