Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Year Ago Today

We packed up our wee little house on Harper Street and sent our stuff to CA. We still had a couple days of work left, but things were winding down. The day way hot and muggy, and packing is never fun. We slept on the floor of the living room for the next couple nights, trying out our new sleeping pads and preparing for the adventure that was our drive across the country. We were both so ready to leave, so tired of Philadelphia, and so excited for the new prospects that new jobs and a new state would bring us. On Saturday, June 30, we packed the remaining parts of our lives up and we headed off in the direction of Gettysburg, PA. We camped our first night in York, PA at a cute little spot. It was lovely, green and finally cooled down enough that night for us to sleep. Our car was packed to the gills, but as time wore on, we came to get much better at packing, unpacking, setting up camp, cooking over a little stove, and relaxing. Do you know how hard it is for two scientists to relax sometimes?
It took a while for the "Philly" to wear off us. I had just left an incredibly stressful job where I was literally collecting data up until the last day of work. I had a paper I wanted to get published with my former boss, and he wasn't being cooperative in the least (still isn't...). Alex had just defended, but his boss was asking for impossible things from him. And we completely went off the grid. After quite possibly the hottest day on record in Gettysburg, we pulled into Timonium, MD to visit Uncle Rob and Aunt Eileen. It was lovely to get to hang out with family (I had met them at our wedding, but I hadn't had the chance to really get to know them at all). It was great to see Baltimore through Rob's eyes, and to chat with Eileen about her family and her life before Rob (this is the 2nd marriage for both of them). From there, we never looked back. We spent the 4th of July in Western MA with Aunt Catherine and Uncle J.R. We headed up to Montreal, and came back down to the US across the St. Lawrence River. We visited Scottsville and Cousin Richard. We saw Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls. We got stuck in a rainstorm in Ohio. We visited the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI and we spent a night in Chicago, where Alex got the absolute worst haircut of his life. We saw Aunt Carol and Aunt Carla in Wisconsin and had a beer in the lake at UW Madison. We crossed the Mississippi, and spent a night in Sioux Falls, SD. We planned two nights in the Badlands, but 80 mile an hour winds and insane weather forced us to change our minds. A night in the Black Hills reset our minds. We got to see the atrocity that is Mt. Rushmore, and the odd tribute to Crazy Horse. We crossed into WY and rejoiced at the sight of the actual Rocky Mountains. We spent some time at Devil's Tower and headed to Yellowstone. We had to stop for a night in some hotel since it had been several days since showers and laundry. Headed into Yellowstone for some amazing camping and great times. Grand Tetons came next and I had had about enough of camping by that time. It was great to pull into Salt Lake City and see friends and civilization again. A few days later, we set off for Co Springs, where we saw my in-laws and got to spend time with everyone. We found out that Moue had become feral in the time we were gone. Poor Moo. About a week later, we were on the road to Oxnard and headed to new jobs and a new spot. We got to Stanford Sept 1, and have been here ever since.
It both seems like a dream and also seems like yesterday we were in Philly. There are so many things I miss. The architecture. The city. Living in a city. I miss the seasons, and, oddly, some of the weather. I never thought I would miss thunderstorms and torrential downpours, but the lack of them in Northern CA has made me nostalgic. I miss the green, the shade of a great tree. I miss the bread and the food. I miss the gruffness of the people. I miss the sports. I miss the lifelong friends I made there - most are no longer there. I miss the dance studio and their Friday night dance parties. I miss the bar scene - a good bar with good beer and good food within walking distance. I miss our odd little neighborhood and our house with a tiny backyard.
I do kinda wish we had a big trip planned for this summer. I wish I could have every summer off to just play around with Alex and tour the country (or maybe another country...). But, alas, we don't. So, this summer I will just wax nostalgic for our time in Philly. And the BEST trip across the country ever. Can't wait to do it again!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

You guys? This whole pregnancy thing is such a roller coaster! Last Thursday and Friday, I kinda fell off the track a bit. I got real nauseous and super tired and I just couldn't motivate myself in the least. I had a super hard yoga class on Tuesday and I swam Monday and Wednesday, but usually those things don't really bother me too much. I usually feel pleasantly tired. Not completely wiped out.
I feel like pregnancy makes me really pay attention to my body, which is really amazing. I will usually go through my day without a backward glance. I will work until my work is done, not until my body is tired, you know what I mean? But now, I have to make sure I put some breaks in there. My back gets tired (not too achy yet) and I have to make sure I get some water every 30 mins or so. It's interesting how much I can do and also how much I can't do. I'm trying to focus on the "can" part of that statement :)
This past weekend was lovely. We headed to the beach on Saturday for a change of scenery. It was a beautiful day to drive up the coast, and then we headed back toward our house over this super cute, teeny-tiny mountain road. It's fun to drive with Alex like that because we get to talk about where we would eventually want to live and what kind of house we would want and all those hokey hopes and dreams for the future. We are definitely either urban or completely country people. Isn't that weird? I think we would ideally like to live within walking/biking distance of work in a city, or in the country, but a short drive from work. Definitely not in the suburbs where we are currently. Alex says he can't understand why more Californians don't plant fruits and vegetables instead of lawns and funny bushes. I have to say I kind of agree with him!
On Sunday, we hit up the farmer's market and then spent the day around the house, cleaning areas that we've neglected and trying to spruce up the place since we might have visitors this weekend! I talked to my Dad for Father's Day and spent some time on the phone with my Mom too. We are undertaking a baby project together and I'm excited to schedule some time to go hang with my mom and try to make some baby things. I've always wanted to learn how to sew and use a sewing machine, and now seems like the perfect time!
I think I felt the baby move this weekend. I was laying down and I felt some weird feelings in my lower belly. I'm 22 weeks now, and they say he's about 1lb, so I should be able to feel him sometime soon. However, I think he's still small and maybe not always in the right position for me to feel him move. I measured my waist (actually, it's no longer a waist anymore!) and it's 40 inches! 40! Can you believe that? I think I'm starting to look like a rounded beach ball. Hah!
We ended the weekend by attempting chicken curry (actually came out all right - although not authentic Indian like we wanted) and potato kale soup. We should be stocked for dinners for a couple nights, which is always nice, since my yoga class will go until 9pm on Tues! Hope you all have a fantastic week!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A good dinner that's quick

As I mentioned, I've been doing prenatal yoga twice a week. The class is from 7:15pm to 8:45pm, meaning we get home around 9:30pm and I am starving! I need food fast, and since I'm growing a munchkin, I need to make sure it's a pretty decent dinner. I've always enjoyed "Breakfast for Dinner", so I thought I would share my super quick dinner that's pretty yummy!

Eggs, toast and asparagus

1) Boil some water on the stove top and cut the woody bottoms off a bunch of asparagus. Place asparagus in microwave safe bowl with a splash of water in there. Cover and place in microwave.
2) When water boils, toss your eggs in the water and start the microwave for 5 minutes. Put some toast in the toaster.
3) When the toast pops, butter it (if you like). You can cook the eggs as long as you like. Four to five minutes will give you pretty decent runny yolk eggs. A minute or two longer, and the yolk will harden. At ten minutes, you have pretty close to hard boiled eggs. When eggs are cooked, peel them and toss them on top of the bread. Place asparagus on top of eggs or on the side. You can drizzle the whole concoction with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Or you can toss some parmesan cheese on there. Whatever you like!

Voila! You are done and ready to eat a pretty decent meal!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I see a guy on campus every couple of weeks. He has two pet ducks. Once, he was wearing a pink leotard and running with one of the ducks in his hand (his friend was filming him). Another time, he was just sitting on a bench, feeding the ducks. They are two females, and they just sit and hang out with him and follow him around. They kinda quack under their breath. You know, like ducks do. Once, he was chasing one, trying to catch her to put her back in her Rubbermaid bin. That's where he keeps them. In a big, blue bin with air holes in it. Last night, he was sitting outside the building next to mine, feeding the ducks. Seemed like he was waiting for someone. 

Last night, as I was walking to yoga class, I head someone yell at their friend, "Like, ohmigod! You are SO Palo Alto!". I have no idea what that means. I mean, I could start to list things that I think embody Palo Alto, but I'm still not sure I understand. 

Women have started to glance at my face and then immediately at my belly, then back to my face. Sometimes they smile (sort of a nostalgic smile), but other times, they laugh. I don't know what the laughing is about. Do I look funny? Maybe I'm starting to waddle?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Unintended Consequences of Pregnancy

There are some things I expected about pregnancy. The rounding belly, the fatigue, the difficulty moving/balancing, etc. There are other things I couldn't have anticipated. A short list follows:

  • Super vivid dreams: The other night I dreamt that I was being chased by masked gunmen. They fired on my boat (?) and shattered my window. I made it to safety (which was my house) and I proceeded to close and lock the inordinate number of doors and windows contained within my house. I also had attractive plaid flannel curtains. And then I just waited because I knew these gunmen were coming after me. And then I woke up and had to really convince myself that these event had not occurred. Last night, I had a dream that Alex got a tattoo on his upper back of the name "Rudy" spelled out in red, white and blue letters. I don't know a "Rudy" (except maybe Guiliani), so I have no idea what that was about.
  • Complete and total strangers telling me all about their birth stories. While I am super interested to hear other women tell me their stories, I feel like most people have a "cleaned up" version of their story (this involves mostly funny things, like how my Dad was talking airplanes with the doctor while my Mom was in labor), and maybe some minor incidental details of the birth. Then there's the "full disclosure", which involved things like "mucus plugs", "blood", "birth canal", "cervix dilation", etc. Most of my friends have been kind enough to share the cleaned up versions of their birth, and only reveal the full disclosure stuff if I ask detailed questions. I appreciate this. I think that our society is already a little to "full disclosure" anyways, so I appreciate people holding back the details, especially since this is an experience that I will have to go through, no matter what. No need to get alarmed because someone else had a complication, right? Then, there's the woman I occasionally see in the hallway. I always say "Hi" to her, but I don't really know her (I don't think I even know her name). She regaled me last week with tales of her 6-day(!) long labor, the blood in her birth canal and the fact that, even though the "tried really hard", her husband could never give her a son. Holy moses. I had to sit down after that one. 
  • Men catcalling me. I mean, what? I used to get catcalled in Philly all the time. There was so much construction, and lots of people on the street, so I used to get some serious running commentary on my body. It kinda bothered me, to be honest, because there is nothing you can do about it. To engage them would just be asking for more catcalling. So, I usually ignored it. However, in the last couple weeks (since I think that I now look unmistakably pregnant), I've been getting lots of intense glances, winks, catcalls, wolf whistles and commentary. What on earth is this about? I am clearly pregnant with another man's child, and you think that your commentary will make me change my mind about my marriage and run off with you? I have no idea what this is all about, but it makes me SUPER uncomfortable. I wish I had a very long fist that I could just reach across the street and punch them in the nose.
  • Big feet. I mean, I knew that my feet could grow. I am pretty sure I read that somewhere. I guess I just thought it meant that my feet would swell. So far, I don't have any noticeable foot swelling. However, I just took my nail polish off my toes and my toenails have white bruises all over them. Alex thinks it's because my shoes are too small. Ugh, another potential expense. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Big Budget Crisis Update

A couple weeks ago I blogged about "The Great Budget Crisis of 2013". I talked about the fact that about $2000 of our income was somehow going completely out the door without us even realizing it. It's been an interesting couple weeks since that post, and I wanted to at least record some of our progress toward paying off our debt.

1) We made a budget. This was actually really satisfying to do. We had previously entered all our info into, so it was pretty easy to look at where our money was going last month. The budget is constantly getting updated and changed. I've also started a log of "infrequent expenses" - you know, the insurance payments, the car registration fees, vet visits for the cats, and when things are due so I have a better idea of when we need to set aside extra money for the month.

2) We talked about credit card debt. It seems every month, we would put some purchases on credit cards. We always paid our balances off at the end of every month, but, for some reason, using the cards made it harder for me to figure out where our money was going and to keep track of it. Alex was convinced that we were making money off the cards (we have some points/cashback policies on the cards). Turns out we've made $6, and a couple hundred points on our cards since the beginning of the year. Not much, right? So, we decided that we are done with credit cards, at least for now. Absolutely nothing goes on the credit card, and we pay cash (or debit) for everything. Seems pretty easy, right? So far, it has been!

3) We started asking how much things cost. I called my insurance to ask about the cost of labor/delivery/birth. I called a couple vet offices to ask about cost of services and vaccines. I visited my dentist and made sure my visit was "in network" (and I checked how much my filling would cost after the baby's born - all very low cost - yay for good insurance!). I checked to see how much all my OB visits would cost. I asked our landlord if they would raise our rent when our lease is up in the fall (right when the baby is due!). This has been great for a number of reasons. For one, I have never asked how much things cost. I always just thought, "Well, whatever it costs, I will have to pay it, so it doesn't matter." However, this made me feel really passive and not in control of my financial situation. And asking about services up front, or shopping around, is ALWAYS a good idea. Adopting this policy as my own has been a way to make me feel in control of our finances, which is a much more positive feeling.

4) I started using the calculator on my phone. Whenever I go shopping, I just start to add things up, just so I have an idea of how much things will cost. This helps me, again, feel in control of my finances, but also helps me to not overspend. This "being on a budget" thing means I have less money in my checking account, and I never want to overdraw it (since that results in some fees).

5) I finally got renter's insurance and life insurance. Looking at our finances made me realize that if  something were to happen to our home (we do live in earthquake country), it would be hard to start over again and replace some of our important things (like our bikes, computers and furniture) without significant debt. And, since I am pregnant, it would be devastating (in more than one way) if Alex was left to care for a baby alone (also shouldering all my student loan debt). So, I called around and got myself a 30 year life insurance policy and I got us covered under a renters insurance policy. Although, I am hopeful we will NEVER have to use these policies, I feel a little bit more peace of mind knowing that some stuff is covered. I am actually glad I called them when I did because if I would have been in my third trimester, I would not have been insurable! Alex is working on getting his own life insurance policy. That's on the "To-do" list for this month.

6) We paid off all our credit card debt. We are now at $0 balance on all our cards, and I am just so excited to look at those numbers on a daily basis!

7) We doubled our car payment. If you will recall, our loan was taking about $25 "finance charge" out of each payment on our car loan. Although they are still taking that $25, we have now doubled our car payment, meaning we have one less car payment to make in the end. And, our loan amount is now under $10,000! We are planning on continuing this (and possibly adjusting the amount we put toward the car loan) as time goes on.

8) I got a library card. One of my weaknesses is books, I will buy them anytime, anywhere. I love, love, love to read. However, my habit is just not sustainable. We have a perfectly lovely library right down the street with all these new-fangled things like audiobooks, DVDs and CDs (the Oxnard Library offered none of these when I was a member as a kid. Welcome to the 21st century, Christine!). I used to LOVE the library visits with my Grandma Seaton when I was little. I would get a stack of 8-10 books each week and plow through them. I have very fond memories of the library as a kid, and I would love to "rekindle" that. So, we went this morning and we both got library cards and checked out 4 books. I am so excited I can't even tell you!

9) I started thinking about what we want to eat for the week. I try to make a grocery list of all the things we need. Our pantry has become a bit lighter (which is probably a good thing) and we've tried some new things (also a good thing). I think I am just going to need more inspiration in coming months to come up with recipes and menus we can use.

10) I've started to be crafty. I got a Pinterest account and I've started to look up things that I think will be helpful for the future. For example, I found some great cat toys made out of empty kleenex boxes and toilet paper rolls. I'm starting to think more about making things that will be functional for our lives rather than purchase things (for example, I'd like to make a quilt hanger for a beautiful wedding quilt we got - turns out we can make one for about $20). Thank god my husband is good with his hands and is not afraid to try to make or repair things. I'm such a lucky girl!

11) We haven't bought lunch at work in three weeks and we only went out to dinner once. We have gotten the occasional take-out (pizza, burgers), but that has been pretty infrequent. While this might sound kinda depressing, it's actually been really good. We end up cooking together most nights, giving us both time to catch up with each other's lives. And eating out really adds up! Plus, I just don't like food prepared at restaurants. I always think I can do a better job (unless it's maybe In-N-Out or something like that!). Plus, it's better for us (and for the baby), and we were doing it for so long back in Philly, that it's almost second nature.

12) I'm taking advantage of all the things I get for free. I go to the Stanford pool to swim (the admission fees are part of my hiring package) and I've been attending free prenatal yoga classes. I've vowed not to miss a one (barring unforeseen circumstances) so I can be sure I get my full benefit.

13) I've rounded up all our gift cards and resolved to use them up! We still have a couple giftcards from our wedding kicking around, and we've got a couple other gift cards that might otherwise fall by the wayside. Using them up is going to be a priority for us before the baby comes!

14) I've started looking for used baby things on the web. My mother in law hit up her local church sale and scored a bunch of baby clothes and things. I bought a glider rocker from a fellow Stanford employee and I couldn't be more pleased with it. The only thing we are planning on buying new is the car seat (as those can expire/be in accidents, etc, so it's hard to know how it was treated). Other than that, all those newborn things that little Golack will likely outgrow very quickly? We'll get them used. Another good thing about used items? We have to pay cash!

15) We've started to really talk about the things we want to do as parents. I think we are leaning toward cloth diapering, so we've started to talk about diaper service, logistics, etc. I've even enrolled my Mom in for a bit of sewing advice (again, thank god she's game for my crazy schemes!) And we're both pretty active, so we've decided we need to get a jogger type stroller with a big wheel base to make sure we can hit up some of the more gentle trails in the area. I've checked out some books on the things a baby needs and how to be both economical about them and also ecologically friendly. Both Alex and I are concerned about things like toys from China or toys made out of excessive plastic. I realize there is no way to control kids' toys as they get older, but we are hoping to minimize things like lead and other heavy metals in little Golack's life, at least in the beginning. I realize some of these things might not be totally feasible when faced with actual child care, but I think it's great to talk about nonetheless, if to at least ensure we are both on the same page.

16) We visited the daycares around our work and we started to talk about our options. We are getting on the waitlist for three daycares on Stanford campus and we are hopeful one of them will work out for us. Even though daycare on Stanford is (by far) more expensive, we've both decided it's the best option for us since most of our time is spent at work. If little Golack needs us, we are right close by, and we can take him to lab for a couple hours if need be. We've also decided that half-day daycare will work best for us.

Well, I really think we've made pretty good progress on our budget in the last couple weeks! I am feeling encouraged and pretty happy about our progress and I'm looking forward to this month, where I am working on purging a lot of stuff, selling some extra things we don't need, and just in general getting more organized.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tummy Update

  • I'm about 20 weeks now - halfway done!
  • We had our ultrasound last week and everything looks OK. Apparently, all the pieces and parts are in the right places as far as we can tell. It's definitely a boy, so I guess it's time to think of actual names instead of Golack the Destroyer.
  • During the ultrasound, I almost passed out because I was on my back for so long. Apparently, the baby can put pressure either on your vagus nerve or your descending aorta and just cut the blood flow off to your brain. Fantastic!
  • I've been battling what they call "round ligament pain". It's the stretching of the ligaments that support your hips and uterus. It's really odd. I get these pains basically if I'm exercising too hard, which tends to be walking too fast. I think I'm driving poor Alex nuts, as he only has two walking speeds: stopped or super-mega-fast! I'm not sure he "gets" the pain, but I'm thankful that he will at least stop and wait for me. I just can't imagine how slow I will be when I'm 9 months pregnant. 
  • I've been taking a Prenatal Yoga and Mindfulness class lately. I got lucky and am part of a "study" so I get to take the class for free (score!). It's actually pretty interesting. There's lots of yoga I can do, and I wasn't super clear on what was OK and what wasn't. We use lots and lots of props, which is great since I have trouble staying in one position for long. It generally feels pretty good, and not too hard, although the bigger the tummy gets the more challenging the balancing poses get. I've noticed I sleep better after the class, which is a big bonus.
  • They've also got us working on mindfulness, which is something fairly interesting. I guess it's literally just "paying attention" to the world around you. It's also paying attention to your reactions to the world around you. I think it's made me a much calmer person (at least I feel calmer), and I'm hoping this situation will help prepare me for labor, birth, and being a parent. It's also helped me to put down the iPhone or turn off the TV and actually pay attention to what's going on. This is a really good thing!
  • The women in my class are all in their second trimesters, so we can all commiserate together. It's interesting to hear other women who look more fit than I say that a hike or a walk absolutely destroyed them. I guess I'm not alone!
  • I talked to my doctor about the whole "labor, delivery" thing, and it turns out that they would let me go to 41 weeks, which is good (I think). Since I'm considered a geriatric pregnancy (lovely terms, aren't they?), I was concerned they might make me be induced at 39 weeks or something like that. Thankfully, I get the full 40 weeks + 1, so that will be good. I'm happy for a little extra time. It's also nice to know that (at least, so far), I am considered a typical, normal, low risk pregnancy. Gives me hope that the rest of this pregnancy will go smoothly!
  • The hospital where I will deliver is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. They have valet parking. They have room service. It is literally attached to my lab building, so checking in will be a breeze! Ha! Oh, Silicon Valley, you are so weird!
  • Now that I'm in my second trimester, I've got my energy back and I'm feeling pretty good. Actually, I am feeling ridiculously good. It should be illegal to feel this good! I still need a lot of sleep a night (sometimes I will sleep for 10 hours!), so I don't know that that will change, but my attitude and my interest in life in general has changed a lot. I also feel more motivated and more energetic about whatever I am trying to tackle, so that's pretty nice!
  • I've been swimming 2-3 times a week, which has been awesome. I don't think I can really bike to work anymore. My balance is off, and I hate to think about getting hit by a car while pregnant. I can wear a helmet, but I don't have one for Golack. Swimming is so lovely. The pool is great, and water is warm. I'm outdoors for about 30-45 mins a day, which does wonders for my psyche. I've just decided to take time out of my workday to do this, and it's awesome. I am so glad that I'm so lucky to have a pool this close. 
  • As my pregnancy progresses, I also find it a lot easier to do things for myself. I make sure i eat regularly (and I make sure to bring enough food to work that I can eat regularly). I make sure to take breaks and drink water and rest. I make sure to get some kind of exercise every day. It's funny that it was so hard for me to do this when it was "just me", but now that I have a little one to think about, I can do these things all the time. I am hoping these habits will be a significant lifestyle change. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Random Pics - playing catchup

 We went to watch the Tour of California when it went through San Jose. Alex and I took the afternoon off and watched the time trial from a corner in a preserve in SJ. It was a beautiful day and a lovely time was had! I think this is the Best Young Rider, Lawson Craddock, making the turn.
 Here's my handsome husband watching the bike race. 
 There goes one rider with the camera guy following him. This race marshall was so entertaining. She always told us who was up next and she screamed for each rider as they went by.
 There we are!
 There goes the eventual winner, Tejay VanGarderen. It was really fun to watch the race and see how fast these guys go!
 This is basically where we camped out to watch the race. Not too shabby, right?
 I really liked this sign.
 Memorial Weekend, we took a hike in the mountains above our house at a place called Russian Ridge. Here you can see the fog in the distance. 
 I love old, mossy oaks!
 The fog was really starting to come in.
 Fog rolls.
 We found a small pond. Here you can see that the fog has really almost completely covered us. Notice Alex's sweatshirt? He NEVER wears those, so it must have been cold!
 That (I'm pretty sure) is a blue heron!
 Memorial Day, we headed up north to Pt. Reyes. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and had to stop and take some pictures. Notice the city blanketed in fog in the background. 
 When we got to Pt. Reyes, we were greeted by some California quail. There was a male and a female and they were having quite the conversation!
 We hiked to a meadow. It was lovely and reminded me so much of Back East. 
 Then we hiked to the beach. It was foggy and chilly, but eerily beautiful.
 We encountered some more quail on our hike, and these ones were kind enough to oblige a good picture.
 See? Nice pic, right?
There is theoretically a lighthouse at the bottom of this trail. We didn't take the time to see it because the fog was so dense and I was pretty tired after 10 miles hiking. Instead, we took in the view (and I had a strong desire for some hot cocoa) and then we headed home!