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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Updates

To update 2 previous posts:

1)We got a dishwasher! It will be delivered on June 8th & is a Maytag Quiet Series 300 in stainless steel. We were looking for Whirlpool but since we were shopping at Home Depot and they had a big sale with 10% off appliances & free delivery, we went for it. They don't carry Whirlpool.

2)The early morning construction has stopped. Or I am sleeping through it. I notice it around 8:00 now, not earlier. I talked to one of our neighbors and she said it seems quieter because they are done drilling and jackhammering and those machines were the noisiest. Right now they're mainly removing dirt into a big dump truck.

Okay, really must get sleep now. The little girl is already in dreamland and making little giggle sounds. =)

The First Day of School

Tomorrow I start back at work again and it feels like the first day of school. You know that feeling when you're a little bit excited because you get to wear your new outfit, and see your friends again, but also kinda bummed because the summer is over?

Ryan just came in and said how happy he feels because for him it's like he's out of school for a month. I'm passing the baton, he has parent duty for the next month. We're not entirely sure what we're doing for daycare after that. Our moms are going to help out through the summer. But for June, Ryan has a month of paternity leave. Tomorrow he's going to bring Lauren to my office for lunch so I can feed her, and on Friday my mom is going to come up and help him.

Well, I need to try to get some sleep so I can get ready on time tomorrow morning. It's been a few months since I had to wake up at any special hour, so I've gotta adjust. All of the books said to start waking up at the time you usually go to work, a week beforehand, but I didn't go for that plan. I'll take my extra sleep where I can get it! ;)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Morning Construction Fun/Bureacratic Headaches

This morning at 6:30 we were awakened by the sound of bulldozers or some other kind of construction equipment, right under our window. There was a cute little craftsman house whose backyard abutted the side of our condo complex, so right under our window was their backyard. We used to be able to see their tulip tree, and birds chirping there. A few months ago they bulldozed it to make room for a condo project. That's happening a lot in our neighborhood. There was a cute Spanish style 1920 house up the street that also got bulldozed. Before they could start the project, they had to have a City Planning hearing, so the neighbors got notices about it. I called the City Planning office to find out how they could do this, in a neighborhood zoned R2. I thought that meant only 2 residences per lot but evidently it is something to do with the density, and 5 units is fine.

Anyway, the nice guy in the City Planning Office sent me a list of regulations the construction company had to follow. Notably, in the city of LA, you can only do construction between the hours of 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. and not before 8:00 a.m. on Saturdays. The contractor has to maintain a sign with a phone # of a human who will answer the phone 24 hours a day with information about the construction project.

Well, this site doesn't have any sign, and they were starting work WAY too early. I mean, what a rude way to wake up. I'd only just gotten an hour of sleep before that, after waking up to feed Lauren. The whole house woke up at 6:30. I went online to LAPD's website to get the phone # for the Noise Ordinance Enforcement Division. I called the # and got fast busies, and then a message that it was disconnected. So then I called the main line. By the time I'd looked up the number and waited on hold, it was exactly 7:00 a.m. The operator informed me that I was too late and I'd have to "catch them in the act" before 7:00. Grrrrrrr, if they'd done their job and posted the right phone # it would have been before 7:00!

(That's as frustrating as when you have to pay extra in a parking lot because the lot attendants are too slow so when you finally get there, the by-the-minute fee has gone up. Don't you hate that?!)

Anyway, so I asked for the direct line for Noise Ordinance and they gave me a #. When I called, it turned out to be parking enforcement. Then I got the idea to call 311, that new city information line. They told me to call City Planning. City Planning told me to call Building and Safety. I called Building and Safety, meanwhile googling the Planning Board's website for the memo about the property, so I could get the exact address & APN #. The person at Building and Safety had no idea where the street I told him was located. (Mind you, this is a somewhat busy street that stretches for maybe 2 miles!) I told him that address, I told him my address, and he could not find either one in their system so informed me that I did not live in Los Angeles City, and needed to talk to LA County instead. I told him that I certainly do live in LA City, paid LA City taxes and everything, and that he needed to look again.

He put me on hold and got his supervisor on the line. She also suggested I didn't live in the city of LA. She then got out her Thomas Brothers guide and tried to find my neighborhood. I gave her instructions based on the pretty large major freeway I live near, etc. and she finally found it. I read her the parcel # from the Planning Board memo, and she told me that was not a Parcel # (even though it said it was). Finally after a frustrating 20 minutes, she told me if I walked over and looked at the # of the building next door to confirm the number was right, and then called her back, she would look into it, but that she couldn't issue any kind of violation citation without the address being in her system. BTW, this was going to be a citation for their not having the sign, they can't do anything about the noise complaint, only LAPD can do that and they can only do it while it's happening.

Grrrr...I'm still not dressed and ready for the day yet, but when I do I will walk over and get the address and call "Sherelle" back with the info and probably nothing will happen. I forsee that tomorrow morning they will do construction at whatever ungodly hour they want, I will call LAPD, and they will do nothing (as they did when my car was broken into last year) and I will be frustrated again and will probably call the mayor's office to complain.

Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing? How do I get them to stop? "Stud-horse", maybe I can borrow your noise measuring device? I get so little sleep as it is with the baby that I can't really deal with these a$$holes underneath my window whenever they want making such a racket!

Oh and the irony? It's now 11:00 a.m. and they have been done working for hours. THey tend to work from 6:30-9:00 or something like that, and then leave.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sweet Lauren

Lauren is SMILING and GIGGLING a lot! I love it! It's funny how she smiles, it's like she's teaching herself how. First she opens her mouth really wide like a baby robin. Then she turns the corners up in a giant grin, then her eyes crinkle. Then she laughs. And then even if her mouth does something else, like take a pacifier, her eyes stay crinkled and happy looking, and sometimes she laughs so big that her mouth has to open and the pacifier falls out. She smiles the most in the morning after she's just eaten, and in mid-day when we're cuddling or playing with her infant toys.

She also has her "first words". We know she really is just making baby gurgling sounds and doesn't correlate the sounds to their meaning, but it's fun to pretend. She says "uh-huh" and "uh-uh". Sometimes they even make sense in the context of your conversation with her. Ryan swears she shook her head no and said "uh-uh" when he offered her the bottle and she didn't want it. And when my mom was talking to her on the phone and asked if she had a fun day, she said "uh-huh".

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"What Does Someone Like You Eat?"

I get asked a lot what vegetarians eat, and what I in particular have for dinner on any given night. It's really not as restrictive as you'd think. At restaurants that don't have a vegetarian option (rare these days) I've always ended up with as a last resort, grilled cheese or salad (bleck. places w/o veg. options don't do good salads!). At one Texas steakhouse I went to with my in-laws in Orange County, I had a baked potato. Not exactly a balanced meal, but it will tide me over until I get home and can make my own stuff.

So what do I tend to cook at home? Italian! Italian! Italian! I could have pizza or pasta every night for dinner and die happy. The week I spent in Parma was my stomach's favorite week of its life. ;) So I usually have whole-grain pasta with cheese, or I make my own pizza or calzones. Yesterday I made pesto pizza with whole-grain crust and smoked gouda & mozzarella. If you're interested, I could send you the recipe (but I made it up so not sure of quantities) or better yet, invite yourself over for dinner and I'll make it.

I also make a lot of Mexican food, but my versions are nothing close to authentic. I make quesedillas with whole-grain tortillas and the "Mexican cheese" pre-shredded from the grocery store, and salsa, sometimes refried beans and/or eggs also. I also do "Italian quesedillas" which I make up with Italian ingredients. This is usually fresh tomatoes from farmer's market, fresh basil from my garden, mozarella cheese and Parma cheese. I fry it in a little olive oil. If I have it, I'll add oregano, asiago cheese, pesto, Romano cheese, or other things.

For lunch, I like to have grilled cheese (light Irish cheddar or lite Jarlsberg on Milton's whole-grain bread toasted in the toaster overn) or baked potatoes with cheese.

If I go out to eat, I like to go to Asian places because I can't cook that cuisine. If I have to go to an Italian place, this sounds arrogant but I can usually cook pasta dishes better than the restaurant, so I never order those if I can help it. (With exception for really good Italian places like Valentino) Bad pasta is still better than the grilled cheese or a salad option some restaurants have, but I hate to think I'm paying $9.95 for angel hair in marinara sauce when I could make the same thing at home for about 50 cents and I wouldn't overcook it. ;)

Sometimes I get ambitious and make things from one of my hundred or so cookbooks (yes I have collected that many!) and one favorite is spinach souffle. It's this casserole type dish made with a bunch of different cheeses-feta, Romano, and cheddar, and spinach, eggs and breadcrumbs. Of course a few spices and olive oil too. I also love soups, and my favorite is my mom's minestrone, and next to that when I'm cooking it's Harira, an African stew. The Harira and Spinach Souffle recipes came out of the cookbook "Sundays at the Moosewood Inn" which is from the famous Ithaca vegetarian restaurant. If you're visiting Cornell you should definitely go.

Trader Joe's has great pre-made frozen vegetarian dinners. Their vegan tofu pad thai is THE BEST and half the town agrees with me because they are almost always sold out when I go to buy it. Their spinach lasagna is good but takes forever to microwave, something like 15 minutes, so what's the point? You could make your own by that time!

I eat lotsa pasta, whole grain, whole wheat things, and fresh organic produce from farmer's market whenever I can. I love to buy pounds and pounds of fresh strawberries at the Tuesday Culver City farmer's market and take them home, chop them up and freeze them and use them in smoothies. One simple smoothie I make often is strawberries, milk, and protein powder. If the strawberries were extremely ripe when frozen, that's all you need. If they're not quite sweet enough, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Are you hungry yet? :)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy first Mother's Day, 1 day late, to me and Suzy and Leora and Gabi and Kari and anyone else I am forgetting who had their first baby this year. And to the old-timer moms who are pros at this parenting stuff by now, too! And of course to my own mother and mother-in-law and to various maternal aunts, etc...okay, I will stop the list. Happy Mother's Day to everyone!

Lauren's gift to me was that she chose Mother's Day to do her first interactive giggly smiles right at me while making eye contact. It was so cute! Ryan also got me some shoes and a book, and he's paying for us to get our family portrait done and some professional pictures of Lauren by herself, which is what I really wanted most of all.

The book and shoes were a nice gift, I picked them out so they were just perfect! ;) One good surprise about having Lauren is that I feared my feet would get bigger in pregnancy or afterwards. I dreaded going up because I'm already a size 10, which is fine on a 5'9" person, probably a good proportion, but once you go ABOVE that size, it's "special order" time and a lot of hassle. I almost never see size 10 1/2 shoes. Luckily this growth spurt did not happen, although it happened to my mom and to other people I've heard of. But man, I would have lost my whole shoe wardrobe! Such a close tragedy averted!

I'm not Imelda Marcos, but I do confess to a love affair with Kenneth Cole and flings and flirtations with Nine West, Bass, and a long-distance love affair with the LLBean catalog shoe page. Uncle Peter's gift to Lauren (one of many) was a box containing her first shoe wardrobe. She got some tiny white sneakers that say "soccer", some black Mary Janes, pink sneakers, gray flannel clog looking shoes, and something else I am forgetting since the box is in the other room and not in my field of vision. So there's hope that this may instill in her an interest in footware and I may have a shoe-shopping buddy in the coming years! (Besides Jenna, I mean, who has done an admirable job thus far!)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

2 Firsts

Lauren had her first giggle while awake today, and I had my first experience ever of paying over $50 to fill up my tank. Yup, midgrade gas is at $3.49/gallon.

Monday, May 08, 2006

dishwasher info

this is gonna be a quick little post so i can throw away a scrap of paper where i have this stuff written down. we need to get a new dishwasher because the crappy one that came with the condo and looks like it was made in 1981 when our place was built, doesn't work very well. it pretty much just disinfects dishes, not really washes them. anyway, i happen to have a very good childhood friend whose dad owns an appliance store. (well actually i have 2 childhood friends whose dads own appliance stores!) so per my parents' advice, i called him to ask what he thought i should get. here is his advice:

Get Whirlpool or Frigidaire, since Whirlpool now owns a bunch of other brands that are really made by Whirpool (I think he said KitchenAid, Maytag and Kenmore) so you might as well save a little money and get the Whirlpool, rather than pay for the KitchenAid advertising, etc. The crappy one we have now is a "Hotpoint" and he doesn't recommend that brand, nor GE. He says for $325 we should be able to get a decent dishwasher and that the new ones out now will all wash our dishes, not just disinfect, and for our purposes we won't really notice much difference if we spend more.

if you love or hate your dishwasher, please post in the comments with the info or email me. i'm not gonna get around to buying a new one for another week at least. thx! :)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Just for Men: the Secrets of that Female Rite of Passage-the BABY SHOWER

Okay guys, here it is. This is like being at a sorority hazing. I'm going to let you in on the secrets of baby showers. Usually men are not allowed, so they have no idea what actually goes on at these things besides the opening of presents. Having now attended probably 10 of them including one yesterday that is fresh in my mind, I feel qualified to describe the typical event to you.

First, you get an invitation in the mail, usually with ducks on it or in pastel colors. There may or may not be hints in the invitation as to where the person is registered (Babies R'Us and Target are the big 2) and there may also be a command to "bring diapers!". So you RSVP, go off to the store and pick out the presents. Note that if you aim to go to Babies R' Us, first of all there are not any in Los Angeles any more. There are some in the Valley and in the South Bay, but none in LA proper, or other Westside cities. But anyway, you can go to Toys R Us, which is the sister store. There are still plenty of those on the Westside. There, you can get a copy of the registry by waiting on line at customer service, which is akin to being at the DMV.

When you finally get to the front of the line, you can ask to have a registry version printed which shows only the items available and in stock in the store. I highly recommend this because Toys R' Us will have only about 2 of the same items as the ones your friend picked out from the bigger Babies R' Us. I can tell you which two, even. The diaper genie and the "boppy" pillow. My audience reading this post consists of some people who don't have children, so let me explain both items. Each one will be around $20-$25 so is a good base gift to get and then add some cute little items to go with. The diaper genie is a kind of trash can for smelly diapers which seals in each diaper with a twist of garbage bag around it so it doesn't stink up the nursery. The boppy pillow looks like a giant neck pillow, and goes around the mom's waist for propping up the baby while breast feeding. It's also good later for the baby to do "tummy time" on. Tummy time is a half hour a day exercise babies are supposed to do so they use muscles which would be weakened if not, since with new SIDS (crib death)information, doctors now advise not to put babies on their stomachs EXCEPT for this supervised "tummy time". Ok, I digress big-time but I knew you would not know what any of this stuff was so felt the need to explain. I wish blogger had footnotes and yes, I could make some but I don't have that much ambition.

So anyway, you buy the gifts and show up at the appointed place and time. As you walk in the door, you will be greeted by the host and given some kind of item, a pin or necklace or clothespin, (let's say it's a pin) and told that there is a game where you cannot do _X__ or your pin will be taken away. Anyone can spot you breaking the rule and can take your pin. The person with the most pins at the end of the shower wins a prize. The rule is usually "no crossing of legs" and no saying "________". The "________" can be "baby" or "cute" or anything else the host thinks up. What I usually do is give up right away and let the first narc type personality "catch" me crossing my legs, get my pin and then I don't have to think about it again.

Women from all generations will be at the shower, and everyone will be on their best behavior so as not to offend Granny. You will hear phrases you never hear your friends otherwise utter, like "oh my goodness", but you will NOT hear "the f word". Typical food is finger sandwiches, chips and dip and punch and cake. The cake is almost always done in, again, pastels. White cake with buttercream frosting is standard. Other games include crossword puzzles with baby words, fill in the blanks with nursery rhymes, and the memory game where you look at a tray full of baby items for 10 seconds and then write down as many as you can remember. Yesterday's shower had two that were new to me: guess which melted candy bar is in the diaper (melted Snickers, etc. stuck in a diaper to look like poop), and "gift-opening bingo". The host had found this game at a party supply store, I guess, with pre-printed Bingo squares with words like "bibs", "pink dress", "desatin", "teddy bear" and if she opened a gift appearing on your bingo card, you got to cover it with a sticker.

If the guest of honor has either not gained much weight or is not self-conscious about it, you may get the game of guessing her weight or waist size. Sometimes the "guess the waist size" game is done by ripping lengths of toilet paper into a length corresponding to the anticipated waist size of the pregnant person. "Guess the baby food flavor" is another popular game, which is played just like how it sounds. Also "what is this white powder?" (not ever cocaine, because of the above mentioned Granny effect) which can either be powdered milk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, talcum powder, or cream of tartar.

One game that makes a nice photo op is the "chug the bottle". Everyone gets a baby bottle filled with apple juice and has to suck it out through the nipple. Whoever finishes first wins.

The highlight of the whole shower is for the mom-to-be to open all of her gifts and everyone oohs and ahs over everything. Miraculously, people manage to choose different presents, even without a registry. Although she'll get a lot of the same type of thing, (onesies) I haven't yet seen a mom open the identical pink dress from more than 1 person. One person, usually the host or another close friend, acts as the stenographer and keeps track of who gave what, for the thank-you notes. Later it will be all a blur so the list comes in handy.

After the presents and cake, people start heading out the door and there is always someone who neatly folds the gift bags in case the mom-to-be would like to reuse them. Then the men of the house start appearing home again and eat the leftover cake. That's pretty much it. Now you know what goes on!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

i love her but...

it is getting really boring being home all day with the little girl. i'm really missing work. i wish i could return from maternity leave early, part time right now so i would have something interesting to do and some adults to interact with and something to challenge my brain. it's hard because the baby doesn't even smile yet so she's pretty much either eating, sleeping, or looking at me with a vaguely annoyed expression. i feel like i don't know what she wants beyond that, if i am supposed to be teaching her things then i don't know what she's even absorbing. she is too young to play with any baby toys yet and she won't sit through a whole book yet.

today i finally got out the baby sling and wore her in it. then she fell asleep but when she woke up and saw where she was, she got really mad and screamed. a few days ago i went to the bathroom, leaving her asleep in her basinette for a couple minutes, and when i came out she had awakened and was screaming. those are 2 of the few times i have heard her really scream in anger (the other times are in her car seat) so i guess she hates waking up in a different spot than where she fell asleep.

i feel guilty for not loving this whole being at home with the kid thing, but i just don't love it. i love HER but being around JUST her all day is not fulfilling. i'm all for attachment parenting, i just don't need to BE the attached parent. if it makes other people feel complete to stay home with their children, then they should. but for me, it is like 'groundhog day' in this endless loop of boring, wake up, feed baby, change baby, back to sleep, wake up, feed baby, change baby, make breakfast, feed dog, change baby, do dishes, feed baby, make bed, do laundry, feed baby, take shower, bathe baby, feed baby, change baby, pay bills, check email, feed baby, take out trash, fold clothes, feed baby, change baby, walk dog, make lunch, feed baby, change baby, check email, feed dog, pump while baby naps, make dinner, feed baby, change baby, etc.

i guess part of it is that in my "i'm not at work" fantasies, i am always keeping myself busy with other challenges. i'll finally teach myself PERL or i'll go out and explore new parts of the city, or reorganize my postcard collection and list some on Ebay. none of this can happen with an infant, and i can't even explain to you why it can't, except to say that babies take up soooooo much time and energy. it took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive to malibu on sunday night (this should take about 40) because besides the 405/101 bottleneck, there was also the Lauren Must Eat NOW screaming problem, so I had to pull over and feed her. The first time I pulled over, by the time I got off the freeway and found a secluded place, she had cried herself to sleep. She woke up half hour later when we were almost there, and i pulled over again and fed her then.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

justifiable homicide

Those of you who know me well know that I am a force to be reckoned with upon awakening. I require 10 minutes minimum of "me time", in which to stare into space, shake off my dreams, and get ready to face the world, starting first with facing the microwave to make my morning tea. What you may not realize is that I also can have entire conversations (cranky ones) in this 10 minute period and not recall them at all later. My husband realizes this, so it was with dismay that I found myself awakened by his voice on the phone at 9:45 this morning. This after having been awake half the night feeding Lauren, and having only just fallen back asleep for the marathon 2 hours at longest stretch.

See, last night Ryan had a screenplay contest entry to submit which needed to be postmarked on May 1st. I helpfully volunteered that there is a post office by the airport which closes at eleven p.m., so he had more time than he thought. Well he used this time, every last second. I was helping him from about 8:30p-11. One printer jammed, so we ran downstairs and hooked up the spare. We had a moment of despair when we couldn't find a 3-hole punch (his original plan was to drive all the way to Westwood, borrow the one at Kinkos, and then drive down to the post office, all in the span of half hour). He decided to just submit it on regular paper. All sorts of paper jams and other mishaps ensued, as you might imagine.

It was a very stressful time. Lauren slept through this. Her grandpa watched her for us. When I got back at midnight and woke her up to eat (guys might not understand this part but if the baby doesn't eat every 3 hours or so, the momma is in pain. we look like dolly parton, which is not as pleasant as it sounds), she would not get back to sleep right away. She then was up half the night wanting to play and chattering, and eating, eating, eating, which meant I was up half the night as well.

This morning when Ryan was getting ready, he said "I know this is going to sound mean because probably you didn't, but I slept SO WELL last night!" I wanted to shoot him, but I did not. I smiled sweetly and went back to sleep UNTIL the phone jolted me awake at 9:45. I didn't answer it. It kept ringing. Like 8 times in a row. So I got up, and it was him. "Hey, I'm really sorry to bother you but I left my planner at home, could you please check it and see what appointments I have this morning?". This meant I had to get up and look around the house for it. I spent a good 10 minutes searching the house and the planner wasn't even here. It is probably in his car. Why can't he get a Palm Pilot like the rest of us?!

Of course, when I got up, I was sleeping next to Lauren, which meant she woke up too. So then she was awake and needed to eat so I couldn't get back to sleep. So here I am, 3 feedings later, 1 dog-feeding, and 3 loads of laundry & 1 dishwasher emptying and reloading later, typing this.

Did I mention that on Friday, I actually had a medical problem from being so sleep-deprived? I started seeing spots and got tunnel vision. There was a ringing in my ears and a pain at the front of my head and my hand was going numb. I thought I was having some kind of stroke or seizure until Ryan reminded me I had slept about 2 hours that night and probably 3 the night before and very little the rest of the week. So I slept it off and woke up feeling better. But it was, literally, a wake-up call. I need to make sleep a priority. So dear readers, if my husband calls me again and disturbs my precious sleep, and then you read about his homicide in the papers and think what a nice man he was and how shocking it was that I could do something like that, now you know!