Apr 30, 2014

25 Weeks

The baby is... closing in on two pounds these days.  According to the weekly update on baby center the average baby at 25 weeks is about a pound and a half, but according to the ultrasound tech my baby was 1 pound 10 oz last Wednesday.  I don't know how accurately they can tell, but if she's right then I figure a week later we've got to be getting close to 2 pounds.  I don't know if that means maybe I'm a little ahead of 25 weeks, or if I'll keep on going right up to my due date or past, and just have a big baby.  I know Chris was big, and I think I was 8 pounds and some change.  As long as we make it to a healthy full term baby, I don't really care- it's going to hurt coming out no matter what!

I'm feeling... totally exhausted.  All the time.   Well, most of the time- I do have bursts of energy.  I'll mention it to my doctor next time I go in, but I have a feeling she's going to say something like "Yeah, you're pregnant," again.  As I mentioned yesterday I'm trying to manage it a bit by eating snacks more frequently, and eating more protein and less sugar.

Cliche (or not!) Pregnancy Symptoms... I was thinking about this one the other day, and I'm feeling pretty lucky these days.  Of all the potential symptoms I've read about, I really don't have any aside from being tired and having to pee a lot (not counting the first 4 months of nausea, of course).  So far no swelling, no itchy skin, no stretch marks, no leg cramps, no varicose veins.  I rarely have heartburn, and when I do Tums knocks it out pretty easily.  I sometimes have trouble falling asleep at night, but only if I slept in that morning.  I'm sure some of these symptoms will hit eventually, but I'm enjoying their absence while it lasts.

Oh wait.  How could I forget the mood swings?  I literally cry every day.  Occasionally it's something that probably would've got me anyway, but usually it's something totally ridiculous.  I almost burst into tears yesterday when I couldn't find my cookies.  Yeah, you read that right.  Chris hid them so Dear wouldn't get into them in the morning (yeah she does that now, it's awesome), but he didn't tell me where, and I wanted them to take with me while I drove around doing errands.  I eventually found them, and that's probably the only reason I didn't cry.

I bawled while listening to This American Life on Monday.  I could've avoided that one, but I figured I was going to cry eventually that day anyway so I might as well do it over something worth while.  If you're looking for a tear jerker I suggest you click the link above and listen.  This week's episode was called 'Death and Taxes,' and it's a good one.

I'm enjoying... podcasts and audiobooks.  We haven't had much downtime lately.  Between the 5 of us, it feels like we've got appointments and errands every day, and I can't for the life of me seem to get a handle on the grocery situation.  I always forget something, or fail to notice we're getting low on something, and the result is one of us heading back to the grocery store every 2 or 3 days.  On the plus side, all this driving around means a lot of time for podcast listening in the car.  I'm powering through them so fast I also added an audiobook to my phone, Freakonomics, so I would have something to listen to when I ran out.

I'm looking forward to... ticking off all the boxes on my checklist.  I've got 5 weeks left before the kids get out of school, and a list of things I'm hoping to have done by then.  I have my daycare license and the privilege of watching two awesome kids when they're out of school, so for as long as possible I'll have 5 kids hanging out with me all day every day, and I don't want to have to worry about breastfeeding classes and dentist appointments by that point.  I also want to shampoo the carpet and transplant the tomatoes before then, but Chris has already committed to doing most of that for me since it's fairly heavy labor and hurts my back.  When it's all finished I'll just be hanging out with the kids, swimming, and waiting for baby.

Apr 29, 2014

Garlic Wasabi Almonds

I am hungry ALL. THE. TIME.  Not painfully hungry, just the sort of hungry that makes you grumpy and tired.  The "I need a pick me up" kind of hungry.  At first I tried snacking on things like fruit, cheese, yogurt, crackers, hummus, carrot sticks, and the occasional homemade baked good.  I'm trying to keep it healthy- I ate TERRIBLY in the first trimester, when I ate anything at all.  It kind of works, but I get tired of specific foods easily when I eat them repeatedly.  Then nothing sounds good, so I can't decide what to eat, so I put off snacking until I AM painfully hungry, and then it's a terrible downward spiral from there.

A lot of the classic prepackaged snacks (which are unhealthy anyway) do not sound appealing to me right now, because that's mostly all I ate when I was nauseated (chips, oreos, granola bars, etc...)  I went by Trader Joe's because their snacks have always looked appealing to me, but I ended up walking out with 3 different boxes of cookies and NOTHING with any nutritional value at all.  They had some flavored almonds that looked pretty good, but they were $5.99 for a 14oz bag, which seemed awfully expensive to me.  I decided that instead I would buy raw almonds from the bulk foods section at a cheaper grocery store, and I would make them myself!  (Of course when I got there they were $6.38 a pound, which is barely a better deal.  Maybe I should try Costco next time?)

I wasn't sure where to start, so I googled 'flavored almond recipe' and landed on this one.  I liked the sound of it, but I wanted to go for a garlic wasabi flavor, too.  Since I didn't want to make too much of anything until I knew I was going to like it, I decided to go ahead and toast 2 cups of almonds and mix up half of them with the seasonings in the recipe above (measurements cut in half, of course), and mix up the other half with my own seasonings.

Sorry for the terrible lighting/weird coloring in the pictures.  There's almost no natural light in my kitchen at any time of day, and I haven't figured out how to compensate for that yet.  (I just crank the exposure way up in photoshop so you can see anything at all.)

So I toasted 2 cups of almonds in a dry pan.  Over medium high heat it took me about 5 to 7 minutes to get the delicious toasted almond aroma.  Then I set them aside.

In a small bowl I mixed 1tsp olive oil, 1 tsp wasabi powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp mustard powder and 1/4 tsp garlic powder.  I added the mix to the pan and set the heat at medium, then I added back 1 cup of almonds.

I stirred them around until they were evenly coated in flavoring and starting to turn a darker brown color- it smelled amazing.  I simply rinsed the pan between flavors- no need to scrub it clean.

I set them out to cool for a while before I put them in jars.  They still looked a little wet, but despite being sealed up in jars all night they were perfectly dry and dusted with seasonings the next day.

I tasted them last night (loved 'em) and ate some more today, and somehow they tasted less salty today.  Maybe I'll add more salt next time, but I like things pretty salty, so if you make them at home you should probably stick with half a teaspoon until you've tasted them.  Also, I taste way more garlic than wasabi, and I was kind of hoping for it to be the other way around.  Next time I think I'll just do a pinch of garlic and see how that tastes.  I'll probably toy around with the flavored almond recipes for a while, so if I come up with anything out of this world I promise to share.

Apr 28, 2014


Why I love our couch: 4 of us and the dog lounging comfortably with room to spare.  Dear happened to be out at the moment, but even if she was home and the baby was out of my tummy rather than in, we all would have fit just fine.

Also, I love the library.  We have ten thousand books in our house- Chris and I are book hoarders, and a few people gave us quite a few books when we got the kids.  We also buy books as gifts every Christmas, but no matter how many we have that the kids haven't read, it's going to the library that keeps them interested in reading.

Sunday morning.  At 11am, no less.  The kids were off at a sleepover, so the house was quiet, and we were beat after staying up late the night before with friends.

Then we took a walk by the river.  We usually walk around the neighborhood, but with a five minute drive we got a change of scenery.

 Here's to a peaceful week.

Apr 24, 2014

I am not pretending, so please stop saying I'm not the "Real Mom"

My kids.

Our family.

It's complicated.  They struggle to figure out how to define our relationships.  They have bonded with us and they love us and, despite the occasional setback, they trust us- but it's not like they've forgotten about their biological mother and father.  They somehow have to fit both sets of parents into their definition of 'family,' and it's tough.  Then, every time they seem to have it figured out, they develop a little more and mature a little more, and it's like they have to figure it out all over again.

This process involves a lot of testing on their part, and I feel like it's my job to hold steady, not to over react, and to validate their feelings without invalidating my own.  The hard part is, every time they question my role in their lives- it breaks my friggin' heart.  It's so ridiculous because I know what they're doing and I know WHY they're doing it.  I KNOW that when Mister writes on a school report that he looks like "S" because she's his 'real mom' and I'm not and he "loves his mommy", it doesn't mean he doesn't love me or value me.  In fact, it's not really about me at all- it's about HIM working out HIS feelings and HIS confusion and HIS understanding of biology and family, and he needs a safe place to do that if he's going to have a healthy sense of self and if we're going to have a healthy relationship.  I KNOW.

But it still felt like a slap in the face when I read it at open house tonight.  And it took every ounce of strength I had in me not to go out to the car and cry.

Because if she's his "real mom," what am I?

When other people say it, I just get pissed off, but when my kids say it my gut twists.  I thought it would get easier with time- it hasn't.  I'd like to blame it on pregnancy hormones- but that's got nothing to do with it.

So I can't overreact.  I don't want to make him feel guilty, or confuse him even more.

Still, my feelings matter.

I believe in treating my kids well and I believe in teaching them to treat me well.  I think that our children will treat us like crap about 90% of the time because they're learning how to treat people, and they're practicing on us.  It's part of growing up.  So I believe in forgiving them, and even trying not to get angry or upset in the first place- but I believe in teaching them what is acceptable and what is not, because I think that however we let them treat us is how they're going to treat others.

So even though Mister's report wasn't about me, tomorrow I'm going to talk to him about the words "real mom."  Tomorrow, when I've had time and space to relax and think about it rationally, I'm going to tell him that it hurts my feelings when he says I'm not his real mom.  I won't even bring up the school report, and truth be told he probably won't remember it- but I'm going to tell him that I love him and he is my real son, and I'm going to explain to him that She is real, too.  I will remind him, again, that the difference between us is that she is his biological mom.

I'm going to do it because I don't think I have to, or should, hide my feelings from children completely.  AND I'm going to do it, because while I don't want to make light of their feelings for their biological mother or her importance, I also don't want them to define our mother-child relationship in their head as 'inferior' in some way.  I don't want them to think that they are less real to me than the baby in my belly.  They deserve a "real mom" in their lives today, every day- tucking them in at night and going to their open house at school.

So I will defend our relationship over and over again.  I will prove to them how important they are, over and over again.  And when they compare me or question me or push me away even in the slightest, I will bite my tongue.  And after they've gone to bed I'll cry.

Because that's just who I am.

Apr 22, 2014

I'm tired!

This week is all go go go, and I'm beat.  All 3 kids had dentist appointments, which equals a couple of hours in the dentist office 2 days in a row, just because that's how this dentist does things- it's awesome and not a terribly inefficient waste of time AT ALL.

I've got a doctor's appointment tomorrow, Slim has an end of the season baseball party, and Chris is giving a guitar lesson after work.

Thursday night is open house at the kids' school, which not only fills Thursday evening but means that any spare moments between school and appointments and parties and regular homework are spent hustling to finish science fair projects.  Slim was the only one required to do one this year, but the other two like to be involved and we like to encourage science and critical thinking, so there ya go.

Did I mention I was tired?  All the time.  Also the weather is actually behaving like spring which means we have warm days and cool days and rain and sun and I've suddenly completely forgotten how to dress myself at all.  I don't know if it's really a matter of things not fitting, or if my mind has just officially signed off for the time being.

Last thing- I realized last night that I only have 16 weeks left until this baby is born.  16 weeks!  When I think of all the things I was hoping to accomplish before then, it seems so soon!  Especially considering that last week was spring break and I was reminded that it is tough getting stuff done when the kids are around.  They're older and can do a lot of things for themselves, sure, but they're still distracting.  They want to chat and they need stuff and I want to play with them.  So really I only have about 6 weeks to do stuff- barring the things I HAVE to wait to do.  And I'm tired.

On the flip side- 16 weeks!  How exciting is that!

Anyway, busy is just the name of the game around here, and with the pregnancy I simply have to let things go.  When I spend the day carting kids around and helping with projects or whatever, I don't have the energy to do anything creative by the evening, and that's ok.

Growing a human being is exhausting.  Awesome!  But exhausting.

My grape vine in the spring- we did get a little bit of work done in our jungle of a backyard last Saturday, maybe I'll share more pictures of that this week.

Apr 16, 2014

23 Weeks

The baby is... measuring at just the right size, about as big as a large mango, and squirming more than ever.  I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and everything looked good.  My doctor did say that because of the position of the baby and the way it moved, they didn't get a good look at the heart during the fetal anatomy ultrasound, so they want to do another one.  Nothing is wrong!  It's just standard procedure, they want to see the 4 chamber heart, and the baby wouldn't let them get a good look last time.

I'm feeling... well, but I tire easily.  I made it about 3/4 of the way through the zoo last weekend before I was about ready to collapse.  I told the doctor that I have lower back pain if I do a lot of walking or cleaning or whatever, and her answer was, "Yeah, you're getting more pregnant now.  Try to take it easy."

Cliche (or not!) Pregnancy Symptoms... Well, I still have to pee every 7.2 seconds.  I also wake up occasionally with numb hands or fingers, which I read can be typical.  That was something that used to happen to me every once in a while anyway, so it's not particularly new or different.

I'm enjoying... this time without the baby, haha.  Honestly, I'm really beginning to appreciate how much easier things can be when your kids are older.  When I enlist their help with household chores, they're actually helpful.  It used to be that they needed to be taught, and having them "help" took MORE time, but now they've got most stuff down.  I've been more aware lately of how quick and easy many things are now that used to be quite challenging, and in a few months we're going to be back to square one.  Of course we'll adjust, and I'm sure the kids will be helpful with the baby, too.

I'm looking forward to... some of our favorite summer time activities, like visiting the farmer's market and swimming at the lake.  I've been dreaming for weeks about these tamales they sell at a booth at the market, and this Saturday I'm going to get some.  I'll have to wait a little longer to get in the lake (unless I want to freeze my butt off), but I'm really craving the 'weightless' feeling you have in the water.  These past couple of weeks I've begun to notice the extra weight I'm carrying around.  I can't believe how cumbersome this belly already feels when it's going to get so much bigger.

Apr 15, 2014

Lunar Eclipse 2014

10:59pm April 14, 2014
ISO 400, 1/1000, f/5.6

11:09pm April 14, 2014
ISO 400, 1/1600, f/5.6

11:20pm April 14, 2014
ISO 400, 1/1250, f/5.6

11:30pm April 14, 2014
ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6

12:10am April 15, 2014
ISO 400, .8, f/5.6

12:11am April 15, 2014
ISO 400, .4, f/5.6

I first heard about the lunar eclipse about a week ago when I was searching the internet for confirmation that the bright red "star" we were looking at was actually Mars (it was).  At the time, I thought it would be fun to keep the kids up to watch, too.  It would be late- from our perspective the eclipse was due to begin at 11pm and end at 2am, but they're on spring break this week and I thought we could hang out in lawn chairs and on blankets and maybe even make s'mores in the backyard.

Fast forward to yesterday- after spending a total of 8 hours in the car over the weekend and many more than that moving about the bay area together- I decided they needed to go to bed because I needed a break.  Thank goodness I had the foresight not to mention anything about the eclipse or s'mores or anything like that ahead of time in case I changed my mind.  Still, it was kind of a mom fail.  The eclipse was pretty cool and it would have been nice for them to see.  Thankfully there are supposed to be 3 more in the next couple of years, so we should have another chance.

I thought it might be cool to get some pictures, but I didn't think to do any research on the best way to accomplish that before the eclipse actually started.  Just to give you an idea of what I was working with, I have a Canon Rebel EOS T3i with the standard kit lens (18mm-55mm), and a tripod.  We had a great view of the eclipse right from our front doorstep, but there is a massive streetlight out there.  Chris made the brilliant observation that the moon was so bright to start off with, the shutter speed had to be quite fast in order to get the camera to focus.  (I was annoyed I didn't think of that.)  I skimmed a few tutorials online, and then I just played with the camera until I got pictures I liked.

On all the pictures I shared, I included in the caption the time and the settings my camera was set to.  Many of these photos have been cropped in photoshop, but I didn't make any other adjustments.

11:24pm April 14, 2014
ISO 400, 10, f/3.5

11:25pm April 14, 2014
ISO 400, 30, f/3.5

11:36pm April 14, 2014
ISO 400, 5, f/3.5

11:45pm April 14, 2014
ISO 400, 5, f/3.5

12:07am April 15, 2014
ISO 400, 1, f/3.5

12:10am April 15, 2014
ISO 400, .8, f/5.6

12:12am April 15, 2014
ISO 400, 5, f/3.5
At this point my camera was dying, we were exhausted, and according to the internet we'd reached the total eclipse and the shadow would soon begin to retreat, so we called it quits and went to bed.

If you'd like to learn more about what a lunar eclipse is, head over to Science Friday to listen to Ira, Bill Nye (the science guy!) and Andrew Fraknoi explain it.

Apr 14, 2014

Mini Vacation

We had a nice mini vacation this weekend.  We didn't have a lot of money to throw around, but we wanted to take the kids somewhere fun before the baby is born, so we set aside a little money from our tax return.   We stayed with relatives in the bay area, and went to a Giants game and to the San Francisco Zoo.  It was exhausting, but a lot of fun.  

These kids are good at travel- they were amazing in Disneyland, too.  Dear was a bit surly on the ferry ride to the ball park, but she snapped out of it.   Mister pushed the limits of acceptable behavior wherever we went, (mostly because he always wanted to run ahead- gotta be in front!), but it was totally manageable.  It is getting harder and harder for me to spend lengthy amounts of time in a car, so with the exception of one camping trip this summer, I think this was it for travel until the baby is old enough that we feel ready to take it somewhere.  I'm glad we did it.

My nephew J on the Larkspur Ferry- he swore he was afraid of boats, but he seemed to enjoy this one.

My dad, J, and Mister.

We lost, 1 to nothing- boo.

San Francisco Zoo

I think Christopher was trying to capture my girth. ;)

Apr 11, 2014

Friday Photo Dump

We had a busy week, and I spent some time playing with my camera.  I thought I'd share some of the photos here.

Babysitting for a friend- this little cutie is 6 months old.

Slim playing softball- she's good at it, too.

My niece, with whom I don't spend nearly enough time- and it's nobody's fault but my own.  She's a character, I can't believe she's going to be 4 this summer.

Friday evening dinner picnic at the lake.

Can't get over how clear and beautiful the water is.

This is what happens when you haven't quite figured out how to adjust your new lens in different light.

Chris is trying to take more pictures of me so when we grow old we have pictures from when we were young- and I'm trying to be less critical about how I look in pictures.

You can definitely tell I'm pregnant these days, check out that belly.