Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm Thankful for

Posted by PicasaThese were some of my favorite pix from today.  Loving being around my whole family, wish all my cousins and aunts & uncles were here, too, but nice to be with my parents & brother & Tasha.  Oh and Bert the cat, who I'll have to take a picture of.  William has not met a pet yet, wonder what he will think of the introduction!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

William's first bath

His cord finally fell off last night so William had his first bath today. He liked it, seemed quietly interested in the water. This in contrast to his sister, whose cord fell off after only a few days, so had her first bath shortly after coming home from the hospital, and screamed during it.

"Helpful Lauren" assisted with checking the water temperature and getting a washcloth. We used the Burt's Bees wash, same kind we used to use for Lauren. I just love how it smells, like baby cologne.

Yesterday when the cord fell off, Lauren noticed it first while I was changing his diaper. "Oooh, Mommy, look!", she said and her eyes got big as she pointed. I thought she was pointing at something else, and started reiterating that he is a boy and has different parts than she does. "No, no, no, I know all about that! Look, his CORD FELL OFF!". Then we had a few minutes where we couldn't find it. I did not want a surprise if it had fallen into the couch cushions or on the carpet or something. Yuck! It turned out to have fallen into the toe of his pajama sleepers. So we threw it out. I get sentimental about some things, but body parts is not one of them. So we won't be saving it for the scrapbook. ;)
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Sunday, November 07, 2010

musings on brothers and cars

i am in the middle of a situation with my brother and i've been thinking a lot the past few days about the complexities of the brother-sister relationship. even when people say "i love him like a brother", no you don't. you can't possibly understand it unless you have a brother.

the situation is that we are buying a used car of a certain make and year, and he happens to be an expert on the level of Steve (steve, will you comment and disput this?) at BMWs, so i had been asking for his help and advice. he lives in san diego and at the same time as i found a car in LA worth looking at, which had a few problems which we could fix for about $700. he found one in san diego of the same year and model, similar mileage, but with no known mechanical problems. his car was grey, the one in los angeles was dark blue, so for simplicity, we shall refer to them from here on out as "the blue car" and "the grey car". anyway, he was also looking for a car for his girlfriend, and he decided that this grey car was a great deal, and sound, etc. and it would be perfect for either of us. so he bought it, we didn't make a move on the blue car, waited to hear if his girlfriend liked it and if she would take it, or not.

unexpectedly, the blue car's owner called and said she was willing to let us have it for $700 less if we were still interested, but we needed to let her know in the next day or so, and if not, she would relist it. meanwhile, word from san diego was that my brother's girlfriend liked the car and was "90% leaning towards keeping it". i hadn't seen the grey car, and we decided to go for the blue one, so we called our mechanic, dave, and the car's owner, and set up a monday appointment for dave to inspect the car and give us his estimate for fixing the power steering pump and window motor.

then later that day, my brother called with the news that we could have the grey car, because his girlfriend didn't want it. she had decided she did not want a 4 door car because she would "feel like someone's mother". (i AM actually someone's mother so 4 doors is a requirement for me!) i told him thanks, but we were already planning to buy the blue car, unless dave found any unforeseen major problems with it.

little brother was not happy with this news, and was now stuck with another car (i should mention he has 1 parking space in his garage, and has his girlfriend's Bug, his old BMW convertible and his new BMW all parked there, playing musical chairs in his condo's guest parking spaces).

then ryan found out i told peter no on the grey car, and suddenly decided maybe the grey car was the better choice, and that anyway, it wasn't worth upsetting my brother over, for the sake of familial relations, etc. so he called him up and my brother agreed to wait until monday, after dave's report, to do anything about selling the grey car, so we could have it if we didn't like the blue one.

we then went down to san diego to look at the grey car. it was okay, everything worked that was supposed to work, and it only had 1 owner who kept very anal records about every repair, but it also had very worn seats and some sizeable dings and dents in the doors. the grey color was so blah. it looked shabby compared to the blue car. but i agreed to drive it and test it and consider it. we drove it and i immediately noticed that it pulled to the right slightly. my dad, brother and ryan were all in the car with me and the theory was floated that maybe all of the weight was unevenly distributed, causing the pull, because it wasn't pulling before. anyway, it also didn't seem to have as much pep as our black car, but then again we have a sport model and also don't usually drive with 4 adults in the car.

my brother replaced a vaccuum hose and then after that when we test drove it, it was shaking a bit when it was idling. not good. anyway, so we left the car in san diego and then when i got the report from dave about the blue car, the positives seemed to outweigh the negatives. we decided to get the blue car and go ahead with the repairs. earlier in the day, i'd talked to my brother about what dave said, and told him how we were deciding, and asked him what he would do if we didn't want the grey car. he told me he could either convince his girlfriend that she does want it, or could probably sell it for more than he paid for it.

when i called to tell him that we were buying the blue car, he sounded so disappointed. he just said "oh" and then was silent for a bit. and kind of sighed. so now i am feeling so guilty that he has one more thing to deal with unloading this other car. it's funny, as a child, i probably got joy out of the minor tribulations of my brother. i must have, i remember tattling on him and being delighted if he got in trouble (as he was for me). but at some point that all changed. now i don't want him to even suffer any mild discomfort, even for a moment. i can even remember the exact moment when i realizedmy feelings had changed. he was in college and he got in a street fight with some townies from new haven, defending a girl he was walking with. they ganged up on him and punched him, breaking his nose. when he called to tell me about it, i was so mad. i wanted to get on a plane and find each of these people and kick them in the crotch. no really. i was furious.

my mom grew up with an annoying little brother, too, and for her, the moment she grew up and out of the bickering part of their relationship was when he was about 10 and got in a serious car accident and was in a coma. she told herself that if he ever recovered, she would be nice to him forever. he made it out and went on to become one of my favorite uncles. :)

anyway, back to my brother-we are very, very different people in a million ways. i'm more like my dad and he's more like my mom. he love to play golf and soccer and team sports and i love sports i can do by myself. but in weird little ways, we have things in common. loving black olives and good italian food. shopping deals online (but he has WAY surpassed me in his bargain hunting!). figuring out how to break bad news to mom (phone call i got in college:"i crashed mom's car, how should i tell her?"). being sad when the dog died. (but dealing with it in different ways, him not showing it and me getting teary eyed).

anyway, because he is just like my mom, i know that if he is sad/mad/disappointed in me for not taking the grey car he went to so much trouble to get, that he might be upset about it for a day or so, but he will get over it.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

In case you were wondering...

...I'm still pregnant!  No, I didn't have the baby and forget to post about it. ;)

Everyone keeps hoping I will get "the burst of energy"/nesting instinct that means I'll have the kid soon.  Not really happening, I've just been feeling enormous and lazy.  But I have been cooking!  If you were to come to my house right this second, there's a nice garlicly smell throughout.  There are black beans in the slow cooker.  Here's the  recipe:

Frijoles Negros (Black Beans) in the Slow Cooker

Use this as the base for a pot of soup, or eat the beans with rice,
use them in a black bean dip or refried black beans.

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed, drained and picked over to remove debris
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
8 cups low-sodium  vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Tabasco or other hot sauce

Place beans, cilantro, onion, garlic and broth in the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 12-14 hours, or until the beans are soft.
(The range in cooking time is because it is difficult to overcook
these, so you are safe leaving them longer.)  Taste and add salt and
pepper, and a squirt of Tabasco, if you like.

The recipe is from Dorothy Reinhold, who has a great blog called Shockingly Delicious.  She has not posted the recipe there, though, it was on an email list.

Here is my vegetable broth recipe from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant (Cookery).

Vegetable Stock:

4 small/medium unpeeled potatoes, quartered
4 small/med carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 apple, seeded and chopped
2 T apple juice
2 bay leaves
18 peppercorns
15 cups water

Put all in large pot and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, then run through strainer/colander to get the stock. Freeze what you don't need for recipe. It's not an exact science. If you have extra of some vegetable or not enough of another, throw it in.

Because I'm weird, I like to eat the mushy potatoes & carrots leftover from the stock.  Mmmm, yum!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wrigley update: Almost at the finish line!

Hello from week 38 of pregnancy.  I'm waddling around, wincing quite a bit and feeling like a beached whale. I feel huge, yet there is a dress from when I was pregnant with Lauren, which I remember outgrowing when I was 8 months pregnant then, and it fits me just fine now so I'm not as big as in 2006.  A week and a half ago, when I was at the midwife appointment, I had not "dropped" yet, and with a bellybutton check at Jill's baby shower (Jill is my friend who is due on 10/26), hers was lower than mine and she had dropped.  This past week, our bellybuttons were level again and the nurse-midwife said Wrigley's head is low in my pelvis, sitting right on my bladder.  TMI, but this is why I wake up 5 or 6 times in the night to go to the bathroom. 

Even though his head is low, his legs must be long because he is still able to kick me in the ribs and in fact, is doing that right now as I type.  We are pretty much ready for him, equipment-wise.  Today I got an infant bathtub and Moses basket, washed out the bedding and set it up so that he can sleep in there when I'm downstairs on the couch.  I finally installed the infant seat base in my car, but if the carrier is snapped in, I have the move the seat forward to fit and then *I* can't fit around the steering wheel with my belly!.

I had a panicked hour browsing the car section of Craig's List and checking my (measly) stock portfolio to see what bigger vehicle I could afford.  Really like having a small sedan, don't want to move into SUV or mini-van territory over one eansy weinsy tiny infant, but can't drive crunched up.  Then Jill reminded me, the belly will not be there when the baby is, all will be fine.   So my car can stay...for now...until the broken locks (must lock each one by hand) and the musty smell on the carpet and the shudder when I apply the brakes, and the occasional inopportune times when the key just will not turn in the ignition until I am about to cry out of frustration and then it finally works (easily, as if it had been working properly all along), and all the other little things add up to eventually drive me nuts and then I get a new one.  But nope, I'll probably keep it until something catastrophic happens to it.  So I better figure out the carseat configuration soon!

But back to the giving birth, labor plans, etc. I'm at the point where I am not making social or work meeting plans for the next few weeks because I don't want to be unplanning them.  With Lauren, I didn't feel the first contraction until 12 hours before she was born, then that first one jolted me awake, they came every 5 minutes and I was off to the hospital.  With Wrigs, I have been feeling them all month, but no pattern to it.  So when I think about the birth, I envision lying in bed asleep, then waking up suddenly.  We have this scenario rehearsed.  Our friends Minty & Lawrence are on standby, so we can drop Lauren off at their house on the way out to the hospital.  Then my parents will come up and get her from their house and take her back here.

But if I go to the hospital during the daytime while she's already there, Lauren is going to stay at her school all day through naptime and afternoon class, until my parents can pick her up there.  If it happens this weekend, tomorrow or tonight, Ammy is here and can just watch her.  The thing is, I don't think he'll be born in the next few days because I have felt this exact same way all week and nothing icky has happened yet.  Also, no nesting instinct, which last time I didn't think I had but in retrospect, I was seized with the urge to paint the ceiling of the kitchen, which I don't feel like doing every day!

Anyway, that is the latest and greatest with the Wrigs.  For any interesting news, keep checking this space!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Guest post from my dad: 10 Things to do at Friends' Houses

For those of you who said you would really like to meet my dad, read the list below.  Maybe you want to meet at *his* place!

You're probably not going to want to post this on your blog, but here are 10 things you can do while visiting friends' houses:
   1.  Reprogram their robotic vaccuum cleaner to go on in the middle of the night.
  2.  Stick a toothpick in their front door keyhole and break it off.
  3.  Replace the sugar in their little bowls with salt.
  4.  Place a bottle of Budweiser hidden on the top shelf of their freezer.
  5.  Tuck a sausage behind the cushion of their sofa.
  6.   Put their house up for sale on Craigslist really cheap, then ask the buyers to call late at night because you work until 11 p.m.
   7.  Print a "Quarantined" banner and tape it to the bottom of their garage door. (They'll never see it because the door is shut when they are home and only open briefly when they leave).
    8.  Turn their backwash plumbing switch on for the swimming pool and see how much water will drain out during the normal filtration cycle.
    9.   Put an open can of tuna on their engine block and close the hood.
   10.  Change the message on their answering machine to:  "You have reached the Contra Costa Sperm Bank.   To make a deposit, please press one, again, again, again, again, yes, again, again, oh baby, again, again, almost there, again."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Guest Post from my dad: Flu Shot

On Saturday, your mom and I went to Chargers' Stadium to get our flu shots.  You drive around the outer perimeter of the stadium parking lot until you come upon some tents. After you show the proper identification, they give you flu shots while you drive past.

You never get out of the car during the hour-long process ...unless you need to use the porta-lets.

You can imagine how much trouble I got into.  Halfway through the caravan, a nurse stopped us and asked
if we were here for flu shots.

"No," I said, "We thought we would get here a day early for Sunday's game."

At the next stop, the asked if we had any allergies to shots.

"Shots!" I said.  "I thought this was the Elks Club car wash."

So it went until we finally got up to the front of the line and my cell phone rang.

It was a recorded advertisement advising me that I was now eligible to have my arteries replaced under an experimental program. No really, new arteries for free!

So I stayed on the line and dutifully hit "1" when it came time to leave my name and number.
I left the name Oscar Predavaducci at 619-9004-44302.

Believe it or not, they called me again on my cell phone this morning to confirm that Oscar Predavaducci had an appointment to get artificial arteries.

I saw this once on an e-mail, but I never thought it would actully work.

I told the lady that she had reached a secure, encrypted phone for the National Transportation Safety Board and that I was investigating at the site of a downed helicopter.

"Do you know anything about this crash, ma'am?"  I asked.

"No, No!" I just called to confirm an appointment with one of our clients."

"Who would that be? I asked.

"Uh, um ... Oscar Predavaducci...I'm not sure how to spell it."

"How well did you know the late Mr. Predavaducci?" I asked.  "Did you have a recent disagreement with the victim?"

"What?  No I didn't even know him.  I just solicit names of people who would be eligible to for our services."

"And how did you get Mr. Predavaducci's private, unlisted phone number that happens to be on the "do not call list"?

"I don't know, my supervisor isn't here right now.  Would you like to call her back?"

"Let me get this straight....You called an unlisted number on the do not call list to the deceased victim of what is now shaping up to be a felony murder.  You did so, crossing state lines, which is a federal offense.  I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask for your exact location and that you remain on the premises until our agents  can get there."

She hung up on me.

How rude can these solicitors be?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Schleich party

Today I had another MomSelect party, this one was for Schleich figurines.  10 kids between the ages of 5-9 were invited to our party at the nearby playground, to play games and try out Schleich figurines.  They each took home one, plus a gift bag with a pig keychain, some coloring sheets, and a brochure of Schleich products.

Schleich is a German-based company, and they have a whole world of little fantasy creatures called the Bayala line, which you can buy online or at toy stores, Target, Toys R' Us, etc.  They also have tiny farm animals, sea creatures, dinosaurs, and a series with knights and other royal figures.  Lauren's liked them ever since last year when she saw this unicorn figurine at the toy store and desperately wanted it for Christmas.

We did a little research and found out that the line was from a European-based company, so conformed to EU standards.  So while we wouldn't necessarily want her gnawing on the toys, if she did, at least we knew they would be lead-free and safer.  At her birthday she asked for a fairy figurine from the same line and thus the collection was born.

In exchange for hosting the party today, she got another figurine and we also got to keep the Shadow Rock Elf House you see above.  At the party, the Elf House had center stage and the kids played with it.

They also ran around and played games.  A favorite was hunting for the unicorn horn (a paper towel roll or toilet paper roll covered with tin foil.)
They also colored on coloring sheets, which you can print on Schleich's website here.

At the end of the party, kids were pretty tuckered out!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this blog posting, however, MomSelect and Schleich provided products for this review and for the party guests.  I have also previously bought Schleich products myself and I heartily endorse them!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Before I could post about the first one...

...she lost the second one! Two baby teeth gone in 4 days! On Saturday, we were at Nonna and Poppy's house and Lauren lost her first tooth. It had been loose for a few weeks. 3 weeks ago, Dr. Schwartz told me that her teeth would probably fall out within the next 2 weeks. I had not even noticed they were loose! Nor had Lauren, but once she knew, she kept wiggling them. When we were visiting my parents last week and in the pool, my dad reached into her mouth and took it out. It was only hanging on by a thread anyway. It didn't hurt and Lauren was very excited.

We hadn't decided whether we were observing the Tooth Fairy ritual or not, but the dentist decided for us, telling Lauren that the fairy leaves money under the pillow but *only* if the teeth are clean and have been brushed every night. Lately toothbrushing has been a nightly struggle, so anything to help ease the battles...

Anyway, Lauren left this note:

(add it later when I'm not so tired)

and in the morning, she found $1 and a brand new Hello Kitty toothbrush. A few days later, I found Lauren's tooth in my purse in a ziplock bag, so the tooth fairy must have returned it so that I could keep it in the nice little ceramic box Aunt Marguerite sent, along with the first lock of hair.

On Monday night her tooth came out while she was eating ice cream after dinner at the kitchen table. She was so excited that she immediately called Nonnon, Poppy and then Uncle Peter and then Ammy. They were all happy for her. She wrote another letter to the tooth fairy asking what she looked like. In answer, the next day under her pillow there was $1 and a beautiful vintage Victorian hand mirror with an illustration on the back of a cupid/fairy creature who, we all surmise, *must* be the tooth fairy!
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Medela Party part 2: Pumping tips

As I mentioned in the previous post, I hosted a MomSelect party for Medela with some pregnant friends this week.
   I know a lot about pumping and Medela's products because I went back to work full time with my Pump in Style when Lauren was 8 weeks old.   At peak, I pumped at home in the morning before I left, then at work 2 times, and then once in the evening after Lauren fell asleep.  I went through a lot of trial and error so I learned a lot about pumping.  Here are some things I learned:

   - Morning pumping always has the most milk, and less comes out as the day goes on.  This is normal.  If at the last pump of the day, not much is coming out, fiddle with the pump's knobs to get the letdown reflex more than once and keep drinking water throughout the day.
   - You need to set aside about 15 minutes to pump, but much of that time goes to disassembling and sterlizing the pump parts.  If you use a double pump, you'll get twice as much out in the same time.  I used to use an Avent Steam sterilizer when at home (makes a great drying rack, too) and the Medela Quick-clean Micro-steam bags when at work or traveling.  Medela has since come out with some special Quickclean wipes that I can't wait to try, as they will save time in the clean-up/sterilizing phase.
   - You don't have to just use the bottles that come with the pump, you can fit many other brands on and pump directly in using the bottle the baby will drink from.  I had Dr. Brown's bottles and the narrow size fit the pump perfectly.
   - I found it easier to pump into bottles and dump the milk into the bags, because if I needed to set everything down, the pump set-up comes with little yellow plastic "feet" that the bottles stand on, so they won't tip over.  Set down the bags before they're full, and they might just spill.  You don't want that!  Also, don't overfill the bags, they might leak.  (They show the limit line on the bags, but if you have just a little extra, it's tempting to keep going...)
   -  Milk comes out better if you are fully relaxed, easier said than done!  But to help, lock the door of the room where you're pumping, so you don't have to worry about Bob from Accounting barging in. ;) And have a magazine or something mindless to do so you're not stressed while pumping.  Pictures of the baby help the letdown reflex, too.
     - When organizing the milk, put the most recent milk in back and the oldest in front.  You can label the date with a piece of masking tape on the bottle, or write directly on the bags if you're freezing them.  I kept a Sharpie in the pump bag, it was easier than pressing with a ball-point pen.
      - If for some reason the pump does not seem as effective after awhile, change out the membranes.  They are little white pieces that are only $1 each and they can wear out after awhile.  Really easy to pull them out and put new ones on, takes half a second!

   If you have any questions or suggestions for other moms, feel free to post a comment for me and I will do my best to answer.  Another great resource is Medela's webpage.

   Final tip:  If you end up having extra milk, consider donating it to a local mom in need.  Milkshare is a great resource for matching donors with recipients.  It is illegal in most states to sell breast milk, so you cannot accept money for it, but the recipient should provide you with milk storage bags, a cooler (if you are shipping the milk) and perhaps other things that you need in conjunction with pumping.

Medela party: Part 1, my breastfeeding tips

On Tuesday, Ryan took Lauren to a Dodger game (Matt Kemp bobblehead night, yay!) and I hosted a party for some of my pregnant friends. 
    This was my first MomSelect party, and it was sponsored by Medela, a company I happen to be a huge fan of, so it was right up my alley.  Medela gave me goodie bags to give the guests, which contained Breastfeeding Information Guides and:

    -  Tender care lanolin
    -  Quick clean wipes
    -  Disposable nursing bra pads
    -  Quick-clean Micro-Steam bags

    Here are some photos of us, (note, it looks like we're getting drunk but they're all mocktails!)

    With Lauren, I went back to work full time at 8 weeks and I got tons and tons of use out of my Pump in Style Advanced breast pumpMedela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump.  I had so much milk I ended up donating the extra to three other babies.  
    Here are some of my breastfeeding tips, things I was doing anyway, that I later learned increase milk supply:
    -When you are still in the hospital, have the nurses watch you feed the baby and show you how to do the correct hold. 
    - If you have a Boppy pillow (my favorite) or My Breast Friend, bring it to the hospital so you so you can practice using that too. 
    - Ask the nurses for the pumping kit from Medela, they will probably give it to you for free and then you save $56!  It has all the attachments, membranes, etc., that you need to hook up to a rented breast pump but it also works on your Medela pump at home and then if you need any of those parts, say while you are washing one set, you have extra.
    -Consider meeting with a lactation consultant while you're in the hospital and a few days after you get home, to make sure your baby has the latch down right.  If you do it while you're there, it should be covered by insurance as part of the hospital stay.
     -If it hurts when the baby nurses, get help!  Lauren had nursed so hard on my left side that I had a very painful blister, and that is when I discovered the nipple shield.  They have them in the hospital or you can buy them online, but they're not available, say at CVS, Longs, RiteAid, Albertsons, Vons, Ralphs, etc. (Yes, I did go on a desperate shopping trip one night to all of those places!)
     -Remember to drink tons and tons of water.  I went through cases of Perrier and Pellegrino, my favorites.  I was also eating lots of oatmeal because I like it, but that is supposed to boost milk production, too.  Also Mothers' Milk Tea tastes pretty good and couldn't hurt.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this blog posting, however, MomSelect and Medela provided products for this review and for the party guests.  I have also previously bought all of these products myself and I heartily endorse them!