Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

This past summer I got really excited about researching my family history. I knew about my close relatives, but I had no idea about a lot of my extended family. Doing this research has been really rewarding, as I've gotten to learn a lot about family history and a little bit about what my relatives were like. I've also included my husband's family in some of this, and it's been so interesting to get to know their past as well.
One thing I've begun to appreciate is how many people in our families served in the military, both in war and in peace time. My Father-in-law served in Vietnam, my Uncle and cousin, too. My Grandfather was in WWII (enrolling in his 30s, which was quite late for those days!). We visited the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg as part of our trip and I found my Great, Great Grandfather and his brother listed on the memorial. I've been able to trace my family back to the Revolutionary War as well (and I'm sure military service goes back farther than that...)
I also have quite a few friends who have served. My best friend's husband is both Navy and civilian. My Mom worked for the DOD her whole career as a civilian. One of our closest friends in grad school served in the Gulf War. Veterans are everywhere. And their lost colleagues are as well.
Sometimes, it's hard for me to imagine leaving my family and setting off halfway across the world (or to the battlefield next door) and serving my country. It's certainly something I will never do. However, it's our responsibility to remember these sacrifices today (and all days, really). These soldiers served our country, which would not ever be the same after these wars. Their families and friends served, too. So, today, I remember that it's not about BBQ, or the unofficial beginning of summer. It's about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and their families, friends and communities who have endured that. And to those who served (or who still serve), you are in my thoughts today, as we remember the unbelievable sacrifices made in the name of our country.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I'm sick of it!

I apologize in advance if this might be slightly nutty. Also, I realize that some of this might sound weird coming from a pregnant lady since I shouldn't be concerned about body image right now. However, this is something that is true and present whether I'm pregnant or not. So here goes...

I've been swimming a lot lately. It seems like the best activity for pregnancy, and the Stanford pool is lovely, relaxing and amazing to hang out in. They even have designated "Slow Lanes", so I can swim without feeling pressured to go to fast. It's a lovely time, and I've been doing it about 2-3 times a week. The locker rooms are this giant, cavernous room, and the shower is two giant nozzles in the middle of a room. I've never really been a fan of the gang shower, and I have to say that I avoided gym class like the plague. I'm always uncomfortable when I have to change in front of people and I'm always embarrassed by some part of my body - the cellulite on my butt, the chub in my belly, back fat, whatever. You name it, I've been embarrassed that I have it.

And I came to this realization the other day. I'm not sure exactly WHY I'm embarrassed that my body looks this way. I'm not sure why I've tortured myself, wrapping myself in a towel to try to keep covered up when other women in the locker room just go about their business, putting on lotion, clothing, without really thinking about it. Whereas, I'm in the corner, desperately trying to pull on underwear AND hold up a towel (or the reverse, trying to put on a bathing suit). It's ridiculous and stupid.

And then I realized. Why do I feel this way? What could have made me think that, somehow, the body that's carried my through 35 years on this earth, the body that's taken me through half marathons and 65 mile bike rides, up some serious mountains, through chicken pox and horrific Indian illness, through a Penn PhD, an CHOP postdoc and a Stanford postdoc is embarrassing? Well, folks, you might have guessed it - there is an incredible amount of pressure on women to look and act ONE way and ONE way only. And that way is thin. No cellulite, no arm jiggle, no back fat. Nothing. No stretch marks, no scars, no pigmentation differences and no gray hair. Perfect, right? And if you're not perfect? You should be ASHAMED because you're not. You're clearly doing SOMETHING WRONG. And you should be punished with shame and humiliation.

Now I'm not stating anything new here. It's something we all know and, probably a fair number of us struggle with on a daily basis. I know I do. And then I realized something else. I am not the one seeing myself in a bathing suit or in the gang shower. It's other people. And I should be ashamed that I'm somehow affecting these OTHER PEOPLE with my ugly, misshapen body. Right? I mean, that's the idea....Oh! My eyes! That cellulite is just so GROSS! At least that's what the magazines and the TV shows tell us.

Well, you know what? Honestly, I am sick of it. I am sick of this perception of other people dictating what I can and cannot wear in public or do in a locker room. The sad thing? I think the majority of people don't even care. Do you care if you see a woman with a not perfect body at the beach in a bathing suit? Do you care if you see a woman with not perfect arms and legs in shorts and a tank top in the summer? Do you even notice? Sometimes I might, if there's something eggregious (it's usually the women with the giant, obvious fake boobs I notice). But usually, I'm in my own world, thinking my own thoughts about my own life. I notice other people sometimes, and I will occasionally get a good laugh out of a funny outfit or something, but, if I'm honest? That lady wearing a bathing suit has no lasting effect on me.

I envy women that have confidence in themselves and in their bodies. I will honestly steal glances at the women in the locker room, walking around confidently naked or in few clothes. I watch them have conversations with their friends and I think that one day I might like to be like that. I watch the older women, with soft bellies and loose skin slip into their suits. And I think to myself, "There is no way I want to give up any part of my life because some societal guidelines tell me I'm not good enough". There is no way I will stop going to the pool. And there is no way I will not chase my toddler around (or my friends toddlers) in shorts and a tank top. And there is no way that I would EVER not head to the beach on a hot day, or go for a bike ride in a ridiculous spandex kit because I might offend someone. Chances are, most other people have better things to do than to pay attention to some random woman.

I think it's important to remind myself this. There is a lot of negative information about pregnancy, and how much your body changes and how much it sucks. How many stretch marks you'll get, and how your boobs will sag. And, do you know what? I'm actually worried about some of it, as silly as it sounds. And then I remind myself, once again, that I am a mammal. This is reproduction. Things may never "be the same", but when have they ever? That training for a half marathon? Only gets harder as you get older. Those laps in the pool? Only get tougher. Nothing is easy and nothing is ever "the same". Such is life. Alex's life and my life will be permanently altered, but do you know what? It's already changed. I'm in bed by 10 at the latest. I can't drink anymore. Some food is still unappealing. Lots of the things we talk about are not about us, but about another little person who we don't even know yet. So, you know what? Screw the same.

I'm so glad to grow older and to have these realizations. I'm so glad to know that I will never again miss out on the crazy skinny dipping in the lake, or the swimming in the pool. I'm glad to know I realized these things before it's too late.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lucky Girl Haiku Friday

Beautiful weather
An amazing pool, super 
cool colleagues and lab.


Great husband, crazy
cats, brand new glider rocker
Long hike on Monday.


It's good to count your
blessings, folks. So often I
don't appreciate.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Recipes and Cravings

I finally figured out what my cravings are (at least for right now). Middle Eastern and Central Asian cuisine. Yeah, random, right? Hey, I can't make this stuff up!
When I was in college, I lived with three women my sophomore year. One woman, Elisa, was extremely well-travelled and knowledgeable about the world (but not in a pretentious way). I loved  her immediately, and I loved having conversations with her about her travels and her friends abroad. One of the only recipes she could make was her mother's hummus. I had absolutely no idea what hummus was, but when she made it, I would sit and eat, eat, eat it until it was all gone. I was lucky enough to copy down her recipe (this was long before hummus was readily available in the stores). Every time I make it, it reminds me of those days, sitting around our little kitchen table, or our tiny coffee table, surrounded by cheap, rented furniture and talking until 2 in the morning. I loved those nights.
This past summer, we stayed with Alex's Aunt and Uncle in Western MA for a few days during our great drive across the country. At the same time, their adopted son, Binot and his wife Reena and their son Jason were also visiting. We had heard about Binot for a long time; Aunt and Uncle had met him in Nepal and he had an enormous desire to come to the US. After much struggle, Binot finally got to the US, eventually settling, getting married and having Jason. It was a breath of fresh air to meet Binot and Reena. They are such open, loving and caring people, it was immediately obvious that Alex and I are lucky to have them as part of our family. When things would get a little hairy, or when people would be complaining, Binot and Reena would just smile and laugh, and just go on with their lives. Having just left stressful jobs, a stressful move, and trying to negotiate our trip across the country, Alex and I weren't exactly at our best. One night, Reena stayed in and cooked for us. She made two kind of curry, fresh greens from the garden and these amazing momos. If you haven't had momos, find yourself a Nepalese restaurant and get some! The dinner she made was the best curry I had ever tasted, and it was such a wonderful time to watch her in the kitchen, cooking. I am fascinated by watching other people cook; she actually cooked greens from the (what us Americans would think) inedible part of the plant - the part we would just toss out! Nepalese (and likely lots of cuisine from all over the world) is inherently simple. It's made from what you have on hand, not recipes where each ingredient is special and expensive. Everything Reena made was delicious and enjoyable and I just loved it. I hope that one day I can cook like that.
When we lived in Philly, Alex and I used to go to this Afghan restaurant where they made Aushak, this wonderful, leek-packed dumpling with tomato-meat sauce and yoghurt topping. I got it nearly every time I went there. It was this great little restaurant, in a basement near a couple bars, down this quiet side street you wouldn't think to explore. I loved it there. It felt great to be adventurous in cuisine, and it was a lot of fun to support this local, family owned business. It was also the only place (to this day) that I've actually found lamb to be good. That means a lot.
Throughout this pregnancy, I find that I get a bit nostalgic about people and places, things I've seen or done, and food I've eaten. This past weekend, I made a batch of hummus and attempted Aushak (I've linked the recipe above). I am happy to report both were a huge success, and I think further preparations will be in order. Following is a brief description of the recipes!

1 can garbanzo beans
juice from 2 lemons
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or more if you desire)
5 tsp tahini (this is usually found in most grocery stores - it's "sesame seed paste", like peanut butter but with sesame seeds)
5 tsp olive oil (or more, depending on the consistency you like)
1/2 tsp salt
paprika for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except paprika) in a food processor or blender. Adjust consistency with extra olive oil if desired. Serve with crackers or warm pita bread.


Yogurt Sauce
2 cups yogurt, drained in a cheesecloth to thicken if you can
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp salt

Combine ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until needed

Meat Sauce
1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp diced fresh ginger
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water

Saute the onion in some olive oil until soft. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add rest of ingredients and saute for a couple minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and cook down, so it makes a nice coating on the meat and onion. Add the other 1/2 cup water and let simmer for a few minutes over low heat. Set aside until dumplings are ready.

 2 packages of wonton wrappers
2 large leeks (or 4 small), chopped fine(about 1.5-2 cups)
small bunch of cilantro, chopped
2 tsp red pepper flakes (less if you're sensitive to spice)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 egg + 1 tsp water for sealing dumplings

Combine leeks, cilantro, red pepper, salt and pepper and let sit for about 10 minutes. Place about a teaspoon of the mixture in the middle of the wonton, and dip your finger in the egg mixture to wet all four sides of the wrapper. Fold wrapper over into a triangle, and try to seal the sides firmly. Place sealed dumplings on a floured baking sheet. When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and place dumplings in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. You can freeze dumplings too (on the baking sheet, then place into a freezer bag). If frozen, boil for about 7-10 minutes. Note: a lot of recipes (including the one I linked to) use scallions instead of leeks. I am sure scallions taste fine, but I think leeks are the more traditional ingredient in aushak.

To serve, place dumplings on a plate and top with meat sauce and yoghurt sauce. Enjoy!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Haiku Tour of California Friday

Today is the day
to watch cyclists go by
in a time trial.


Wearing funny duds
Cowbell in hand, cheering for
Famous cyclists!


It's a beautiful
day today, sunny and warm
Good day off of work!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The great budget crisis of 2013

So, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I started some "First of the month" goals a few months back. I was doing pretty good up until I found out I was pregnant, and then the whole damn thing went out the window. I was just focused on surviving the first trimester and getting through those tough few months that I set the goals aside. Well, I've decided to take a different approach. Now that I'm in the second trimester, I am feeling better and much more energized. One of our main concerns about having a baby has been finances. Living in one of the most expensive places in the US, and not making a ton of money has left us strapped for cash a lot of months. But I have no idea where that money is going, and why I always end up at the end of the month scraping together pennies to make ends meet. I decided to do something radical. Well, radical in my mind. I read a few blogs about budgeting and how to live on a tight budget and they kept mentioning this book Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover. On a whim, I bought the book (on Kindle for Mac, so it was only $9 - see? I'm worried about this stuff!) and I started to read it. Turns out, it's actually a pretty good book. (Disclaimer: it's somewhat religious, and very conservative, so it might not be for everyone - a couple Bible verse quotes don't really detract from the message, at least that's what I think). I'm about halfway through the book and it's a really easy read. Most of the points he doesn't have to convince me of at all. I was interested to see what the "steps" would be to stop fretting about money and to start saving money.

So, here are the first ideas to embrace:
1) Credit is bad. All forms of it. Pay cash for everything (including big ticket items like cars - more on this later).
2) You need to know where your money is going. For that, you need to do some work (make a budget, stick to it, etc)
3) The whole family needs to be on board for this because it can be painful.
4) You need to sacrifice a bit now to live "the good life" a little bit later. 

These ideas seemed pretty straightforward to me, so I thought I would put them to the test. I made a budget, and it looks something like this:
Monthly Income: $6434.62
Monthly Bills: $3105.26 (this includes rent, utilities, cell phones, taxes, car payment, and even the little stuff like Netflix and the newspaper subscription)
Monthly expenses: $905 (these are things that could change monthly like groceries, gas, doctors appointments, toiletries, etc)
Monthly Cash allotment: $400 (this is $200 each, which is somewhat generous, but I think I will keep it that way for now)

So, if you add all these things up and subtract them from our income, what do you get? Are we in the red? Are we just barely scraping by? NOPE! The difference is a whopping $2024.36!!! In the black, baby!

So, what does this mean? We have been inadvertently burning about $2000 a month without even knowing it? Is that even possible? I have honestly no idea where the money has been going. What's the problem?

Well, I had just about enough of this after figuring this out. So, we've decided to do something about it. We are going to start following the steps to a Total Money Makeover. So far, here are the steps recommended.
1) Write down your budget. List everything and anything you can think about. List ALL expenses, ALL debts. Is there anything you can change? Cut? Anything you can live without?
I have to say that doing this step was a HUGE eye-opener for us. And it actually felt pretty empowering to know that we were taking control of our finances instead of just floating on every month.

2) Save $1000 in an emergency fund. And do this fast, like in 2 weeks, or at least less than a month. This gives you an emergency cushion in case the car needs repairs, or you have an unexpected expense. Make sure it's fairly liquid (i.e. you can access it if you absolutely need it) but also make sure it's somewhere that you won't be tempted to touch it (i.e. don't put it in an envelope in your kitchen cabinet - you will use it for pizza).
It turns out that we already have a cushion, which I was pretty surprised to discover. It actually made me feel pretty good to know that we did have a cushion in case anything went wrong.

3) Create a Debt Snowball. List all your debts from smallest to largest. Put as much money possible toward the smallest debt. Sell stuff, take on extra hours at work, do whatever it takes. Ignore things like interest rates and just make the minimum payments on all other debts. In this step, you are trying to make progress and motivate yourself, so the faster you can pay something off, the better you feel and the more motivated you are to continue paying off your debts.
This step for us was also a big eye opener. We don't really have any credit card debt, but we have a car loan for about $10,000 and student loans that together are about $50,000. This means we are over $60,000 in debt! Can you believe that? Luckily for us our student loans are in deferment while we're postdocs, but as soon as that job is done, those student loan payments will come roaring back at us. And I thought we were totally good on our car loan because we qualified for a loan with 0% interest. But we all know nothing in life is free. Turns out that our $228 monthly car payment includes $25-30 in "finance charges"! We are being charged 10% of our monthly car payment in fees! We were duped! No wonder they tell you to pay cash for a car! It also turns out that one of my student loans is higher interest that I would ideally like to be paying. Good thing I decided to look these things up and figure this stuff out.

The Plan: Scrimp, sacrifice and put as much money toward the car loan payment and the student loans as possible. Then go on to tackle the rest of our student loan debt, and hopefully be debt free in a couple of years! Sound impossible? Well, think of it this way. We can say that we have an extra $2000 a month. If we put ALL this money toward the car payment, we will have it paid off in 5 months! This means that right around the time I am having a baby, we can mark our first goal off the list! How cool is that? The high interest student loan is for about $7000. This means that about 4 months after the baby is born, we can mark our next goal off the list. I don't know about you, but being able to knock out two HUGE debts in less than a year is pretty motivating!

A Couple Problems: Obviously, we are having a kid. This can put a wrench in the best of our intentions. Once we are fully involved in daycare, at least $1000 (probably more) of our extra money will be devoted to daycare alone. Plus there are other expenses that we likely can't entirely anticipate. Doctor's appointments. Supplies like diapers or formula. Clothing, etc. So obviously, this budget thing will have to be re-done on a monthly basis. However, just knowing that we have our emergency cushion makes me feel quite a bit better. There are also some other things that I need to work on anticipating (like the price of childbirth), I can honestly say that I am starting to feel so much better about our financial situation. I feel like we are finally in control of something that I have struggled to understand or do something about for a very long time. And it feels great to know that we can actually pay off our student loans before our kid needs to take some out. Heck, we might even be able to save up for college for the kid now (which was a distant pipe dream in the past).

Other things to work on: We also have an excess of stuff, for lack of a better term. We have to get rid of a lot of stuff to make a nursery, and I am SO looking forward to purging a lot of our things. Call it my crazy second trimester! I am going to try to sell as much as I can to generate as much cash as I can to either put toward preparations for the kid or paying off our debts. I can honestly say that I sleep a little better at night, knowing more about our financial situation, and I am really looking forward to getting this Debt Snowball running!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Angelina's Double Mastectomy

I have to admit that I read, with relative awe, the opinion article by Angelina Jolie in the NYTimes the other day. If you haven't read it, you should. Link here. I have always been somewhat of a fan of Jolie. I like the way she operates sometimes, and I like that she defies convention. I also like that she decided, of her own will, to have kids. I always admire people who think outside the box. I also like the fact that she does a lot of humanitarian things throughout the world. While I don't always agree with her causes, I think it's meaningful that she uses her voice to bring attention to causes that matter to her.

In her opinion article, she talks about her choice to have a preventative double mastectomy because she harbors some mutations in a gene linked closely to breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2 - these are pronounced "Bra-Kah"). I think it's very brave for a woman to come forward and to talk about how her body is not perfect. Especially a woman who literally maintains her body in a particular manner as to contribute to all of society's fantasies. The choice to have a double mastectomy, or any elective surgery, is admittedly an extremely personal one, and I applaud her for her honesty and her candor.

A few things struck me when reading this article. As a scientist, I thought it might be helpful to put down my thoughts.

1) What Jolie has is a mutation in BRCA. All humans, men and women, have the BRCA genes. They are proteins that repair DNA when it's been damaged. What Jolie has is a mutation in those genes. Making her proteins faulty. Or unable to properly repair DNA.  For a biologist this is an important distinction.

2) Mutations in BRCA are not explicitly causative of cancer. Some mutations in BRCA are associated directly with cancer, others are not so clear. Similarly, although BRCA is almost always talked about in conjunction with breast cancer, mutations in BRCA can also contribute to other cancers of the body as well (meaning, a double mastectomy can reduce your risk of cancer, but not eliminate it). Cancer is caused by any myriad number of ways including mutations in important DNA repair proteins. However, the presence of a mutation is not necessarily indicative that cancer will develop.

3) The cost of testing for mutations in BRCA is outrageous. Jolie admits that the cost for testing is $3000 in the US. This is a cost that is likely NOT covered by insurance. This cost is OUTRAGEOUS and needs to come down now. The problem in the case of BRCA is twofold. Firstly, rates of sequencing regions of DNA have been steadily decreasing over the last five years, meaning this cost should drop significantly. If more labs can sequence BRCA, then the cost should come down, right? Wrong. A company called Myriad Genetics decided to PATENT mutations in the BRCA genes (how the hell you can patent something that occurs naturally? I will never know...) and not share those mutations with the rest of the scientific community. This allows them to be the only company allowed to do genetic testing on BRCA. This upsets me immensely, obviously.

4) We need to have a conversation about health care. I think I'm beating a dead horse at this point, but we need to talk about health care coverage for women. We need to talk about whether preventative, reconstructive, double mastectomy is covered by insurance (I am sure it's not in many cases). We also need to to have some large scale studies to determine whether double mastectomies actually prevent cancer (there was a huge rash of radical hysterectomies in women in the 1970s-1990s when a pap would come back abnormal - hey! if you're not using it, get rid of it, right? This led to a large number of women being on hormone replacement therapy, which can cause an increased risk of breast cancer....seems like a Catch-22 if I've ever heard of one). We also need better screening for those other cancers, namely ovarian, which is often not caught until it's too late.

5) We need to see women as more than just tits and ass. Reading the internet can often cause me to lose all faith in humanity in a few short minutes. I applaud Jolie in her decision, but I'm upset by the callous reaction both men and women have had to this article. While I realize that Jolie is in a unique position as an actress, famous person, rich person, etc, it's disheartening to hear commentary about her personal decision that is not supportive, or that is based solely on her looks, her body, or her ability to bear and nourish children. I hate to state the obvious, but her personal decision is her personal decision, whether that be to have children, to have a boob job, to have a double mastectomy or to have a tattoo. In a perfect world, we would recognize her bravery at coming forward to talk about her experience, we would value the telling of her experience for what it is, and we would hope to god to never be faced with such a daunting choice. And this obviously goes not only for our judgements of Jolie, but also for our judgments of other women in the world as well.

Altogether, I think Jolie is brave for coming forward about her decision. And I think it's something the world needs to talk about.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Review Tuesday: Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth 

I had the good fortune to come across this book at a garage sale when we first moved to Silicon Valley. About a dollar for a book? Man, you can't get any better than that! This book is a collection of short stories by Lahiri, and most of them focus on some aspects of first generation Bengali-American families. The book is divided into two parts, a collection of 4 short stories in the beginning, and then a collection of a few chapters that tell the story of two people, Hema and Kaushik. I found this book to be absolutely fascinating, from beginning to end. Each story is about 50 pages, give or take, so it's short enough that you can get through a story in an evening if you choose. While the stories focus on unique challenges faced by first generation immigrants to the US (how to reconcile your home culture with that of American culture, how to deal with different traditions, how to find your spot in this new, uncharted territory), they also focus on basic human relationships, and the things that happen on a day-to-day basis. There's the woman who is dealing with the death of her mother, the birth of a new child and a cross-country move from Brooklyn to Washington. She's also trying to connect, or establish, some kind of a relationship with her father. There's the woman dealing with being the perfect daughter, and the alcoholism of her brother. There's the long married couple who goes away without their children for the first time in a long time, and who fail to connect (or reconnect). There's the roommate who loves his roommate from afar, and then learns something that could change her life dramatically. And then, there's the story of Hema and Kaushik, the final several chapters that close the book. This story gives snapshots of the lives of Hema and Kaushik who meet at a very young age because both their families are part of the Bengali community in Boston. The chapters follow the two characters through their lives, and their eventual reunion, all the while touching on the tragedies associated with life itself. There's cancer and remarriage, love and love lost, travel and intrigue, success and defeat.
Lahiri has an amazing ability to develop characters that are so real, you think you know them in real life, and you absolutely find pieces of them in you. The characters are involved in the mundane ways of their life, yet the stories are fascinating, intriguing, and you are left wanting to know more about the characters long after the story ends. This book is not a feel good book. It's a book about life and how different people deal with it. About how fragile our existence is; how death and tragedy touch us all. Yet it's somehow uplifting, if only in the calm reassurance that, no, life and relationships are not easy. And to appreciate the little victories that come to us every day.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up

This past weekend was both lovely and HOT! And then cold....
  • On Friday, I headed to the doctor for another appointment. I got to hear the baby's heartbeat (super fast!)- everything seems normal and on track. I've got a pooch of a belly, and I do not like ANYTHING on it. Like waistbands. Even underwear can get uncomfortable. I'm thankful for the few pieces of maternity wear I bought, and the enormous bag of maternity gear I borrowed from Randi. It's awesome to have mommy friends :) I've even taken over my husband's elastic waistband shorts (strictly for home wear). Lordy, I know I look good!
  • On Saturday, I went and got my haircut at a salon I had a Groupon for. The woman who cut my hair was Assyrian from Iran. I loved chatting with her and I was immediately at ease. I am always super nervous about getting my hair cut at a new place, mostly because I have really thick hair and I've had some terrible haircuts in the past from people who had no idea what they were doing with thick hair. However, I think it turned out pretty nice. She cut about 2 inches off, and evened everything out and gave me a nice blow out. I had a good time being pampered!
  • Saturday afternoon, we headed to Josh & Andrea's for a crawfish boil. It was a great time! I had never had crawfish, and I had never met most of their friends, so it was a really fun time to put faces with names, etc. We ended up literally closing the place down. I was kinda worried I would be bored since a lot of people were a little drunk, but it was actually a great time. I found that I need some kind of drink in my hand to make me feel normal at parties. In this case, I carried around my water bottle, which is totally acceptable here in crunchy granola Northern CA :)
  • On Sunday, we headed to the Farmer's Market and walked around the Mountain View Art Fest (or "Fart Fest" as my husband likes to call it!). It was a nice walk about town and then we headed home. I spent the rest of the day doing laundry and puttering around the house. The wind became ridiculously fierce (but thankfully cooler), which left me feeling pretty tired and stuffy. I just took it easy for most of the day and started to read the book The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy, recommended by Randi. It is often laugh out loud hilarious, so that is great.
  • This morning marks the beginning of one of my favorite times of year. All the bike races! Alex was up at 5am to watch the Giro d'Italia, one of my favorite races to watch. We cheered on our favorites during our morning routine (while also enjoying the amazing scenery that is in Italy!) and it was a great way to start the day.