Friday, September 28, 2012

early september

I was getting so close to catching up with these blog posts, and then I got distracted... That seems to be a trend lately: I've been a little scattered and ADD. I have trouble getting myself to focus on photo editing and blog writing, because I keep thinking of other things to add to my to-do list or to check online. Pregnancy brain, probably. In any case, it's time to get this posted.

Early September is about the time the weather starts to feel more like summer around here, which is pretty much what happened this year too. Good thing, because I still have to go out for 30-minute walks every day, and that's much more enjoyable when it's not too chilly. Steve and I got our walking in right after lunch on the Sunday that began week 36. We went to the butcher shop to get some meat for the rest of the weekend's meals: a chicken and a big pork chop. As usual, we passed Noe Valley Pet Co. on the way, and this time I took a picture of the vintage dog statue in the window.

After that excitement, came even more excitement. I drove us downtown to the financial district (eek) and circled the block a few times while Steve retrieved our crib mattress and a couple other baby gifts from his office building. We loaded it all in the car and got it back to the house without too much stress. I wasn't looking forward to making that trip, since we usually avoid driving downtown at all costs, but it was really nice to be able to put a mattress and mattress pad in the crib after over a week of seeing just the bare wood bottom of the crib. (Thanks, Bruce and Bonnie!)

246/366 vintage french bulldog

Monday was Labor Day, and for once, we didn't have any plans. We had had so many baby classes, appointments, and nursery-related errands/tasks to attend to the previous weekends that it was strange not to have anything we needed to accomplish that day. Nothing except the daily walk, that is. Steve and I decided to go for a stroll down Valencia Street in the afternoon, which would also provide an opportunity for a picture. I found my photo op in the window of Aldea Home, where there were some interesting puppets peeking out of a desk drawer.

247/366 sock puppets

Also on Monday, Steve made some gazpacho. For a long time, we had been meaning to try making it again, and there were finally good tomatoes available. We chose the recipe from Orangette, which seemed to be pretty similar to the Jose Andres recipe that I had also bookmarked, minus the sherry. It came out really well—very refreshing—but I waited until Tuesday to photograph it. I had taken pictures of our previous gazpacho attempt using our tall shot glasses, and Steve suggested that we put this gazpacho in something different. We found some old-fashioned glasses that we liked on the CB2 website, but the store didn't have them in stock when Steve went to get them after work on Tuesday. Instead, he got a couple cheaper glasses, which I used for the picture. They're a little votive-like, but they're still a nice size for little desserts or soups like this. 

248/366 gazpacho

Our glider for the nursery was delivered by Room & Board on Wednesday morning. It was very exciting; we finally had a seat in the baby's room! That called for another nursery picture, featuring the chair and the cubby shelves again. You can also see a bit of the new curtains, which we hung on Saturday. They're still a little wrinkly, but I figured that gravity would slowly work that out.

249/366 a new chair

Our decal for the wall also arrived on Wednesday, so I busied myself with sticking it on the wall above the crib on Thursday. I had planned to get out the level and use it to make the decal straight, but then I realized that it wouldn't matter that much, as long as it looked somewhat organic. So I just used the string that I had hung as a substitute for the bunting, and I made sure that the ends of the two branches on the decals hit the ends of the strings in the right spots. The great thing about these wall stickers is that they can be stuck and re-stuck multiple times, because I definitely did a lot of re-sticking before I was satisfied. 

250/366 decal preview

On Friday, I somewhat reluctantly made a trip to my local post office. This is not one of the more pleasant post offices where I would go to buy stamps or send packages, this would be the ghetto post office where they hold my packages hostage after leaving notices. (I suspect they don't even bother knocking half the time...) I was going to make Steve come with me on Saturday, since that post office isn't within walking distance, but I was bored enough that I ended up going on Friday. Besides, I was curious to see what my friend Kim had sent. The actual driving there and finding parking wasn't too bad, but it really took longer than it should have to get my package. There was a long line of people waiting with slips like mine, and the 1-2 people working the counter seemed... less than stellar. It was, as Chrissy would say, a "circus show."

But I got my box eventually and brought it home. Inside was a woodland print bin, a set of three board books, a baby blanket, and a onesie. After opening it all, I loaded it back into the bin, put the whole thing in the crib, and took a picture to use for the day's shot. The funny thing about the woodland print is that the animals on it are the very same ones I chose for the four baby animal prints above the cubby shelves: deer, raccoon, squirrel, and fox. It should be great for holding toys.

251/366 from kim

And... Saturday. Steve and I went to Noe Valley for a sushi lunch at Hamano, and I took pictures in the window of one of the antique stores on the way back. We also made a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond that day, which involved circling the upper level of the parking lot several times to find a spot. (It shares a parking structure with Trader Joe's, which is probably just asking for trouble...) We eventually found a place to stow the car and got what we needed from the store, but it wasn't a very photogenic trip. I was glad to have the Noe Valley pictures already "in the can."

252/366 time!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

one more month down

Week 35: the end of August. The week started with our all-day Childbirth Preparation class on Sunday. This was the long one, from 9am to 5pm, although we were finished by about 4:30. It was also the class where I was the least sure what to expect going in. When I think childbirth class, I tend to picture awkward scenes with hugely pregnant women, sitting on the floor, doing stupid breathing exercises. Ours ended up being less painful than that. We only spent a little time with breathing, and it wasn't quite as ridiculous as the stereotypical Lamaze stuff. There were also some massage and relaxation techniques that we practiced—more ways to get through the contractions during early labor. The rest was information about what's actually going on during labor (including the baby's positioning and related vocabulary), some explanation of the possible complications and solutions for them, a couple videos of different births, discussion of the pros and cons of epidurals, etc. I think it was all helpful, but we'll see just how helpful it actually was when I go into labor. Hopefully that won't be for another 6 weeks or so from now.

I got my picture of the day taken before class started that morning, since Steve and I found a parking spot quickly and wanted to kill a little time before going upstairs. We walked up the block, scouted out the place Dan and Carmen had recommended for lunch, and then stopped to look at (and take pictures of) the windows at The Ribbonerie. The Ribbonerie was closed that early on a Sunday, but I had been there once before, four years ago. It was where I bought the ribbon for our wedding favor boxes and for the sash I wore with my wedding dress. For some reason, they had more sewing-related objects in the window than actual ribbons, but those things made for good photo subjects anyway.

239/366 threaded

I met with the nutritionist on Monday to discuss changes to my diet following the gestational diabetes diagnosis. But I mentioned all that in a previous post. When I returned, I went out to get my daily walking in and hunt for a picture. I opted for Valencia Street, where I took a picture of some of the toys in the Aldea Niños window. On my way back, I stopped at Aldea Home and Aldea Niños to look around, so it ended up being appropriate.

240/366 cardboard critters

Tuesday's walk took me to the ghetto neighborhood pharmacy first, to try to get my prescription filled for my blood sugar testing supplies. (Walgreens stopped getting along with Blue Cross last year, which makes trying to get prescriptions filled around here much more obnoxious.) After hearing that I would need to return the next day to get my stuff, I proceeded to walk around that end of the neighborhood for a change. I wasn't very excited about any of the pictures I took, but this shot of bamboo reminded me of the pattern on the Benjamin Moore Natura paint can.

241/366 bamboo

Wednesday afternoon was my ultrasound to check the baby's size, but I fit in my daily walk before I had to leave. This time, I went to the butcher shop to pick up some ground venison for burgers, and then I stopped back at the pharmacy on the way home. Again, not a particularly awesome picture of the day. I've done that walk several times before, so it's not very inspiring to me anymore. The best I could do was a shot of a mannequin head with a wig and hat in the window of the party store.

As far as the ultrasound goes, I didn't bother posting any of the resulting pictures. It's kind of hard to make sense of them now that the baby's bigger. It all went fine, though. He might be on the large size for his age, but it's pretty difficult to tell that with much certainty. In any case, my weight and belly measurements are right where they should be.

242/366 a jaunty cap

On Thursday, I took my walk to Noe Valley so that I could go to Whole Foods. I've figured out that it's easier to make myself walk 30 minutes when I actually have a goal in mind. Thursday's goal was snacks. I got yogurt and hummus at Whole Foods, even though they're both available at the store a block away from the house.

I happened to see a very large stuffed bear laying in the road on Guerrero when I was walking there, so that was the picture I took for the day. I'm not sure what the story was, but there probably was one.

243/366 bear down

Friday's picture was not taken on a walk, for once. Chrissy had asked me about nursery pictures, and I snapped a shot with my phone that morning to text to her. I had planned to wait on posting pictures until I was practically finished decorating the room—for maximum effect and because things were still quite far from done at that point. However, the phone picture was actually kind of cute. With the crib and the shelves in place, there were finally some features to use in framing a shot. I decided I would shoot that angle with my real camera and use it as my picture of the day. I put clothes in the drawers of the dresser that afternoon, so I guess it still had something to do with what I did that day, even if the dresser wasn't in the picture.

In this shot, you see the crib with the twine I hung on the wall to check the length of the bunting that I planned to order. And then the cubby shelves with a few items in and on them. There will be containers in four of those cubbies, and I'm sure I'll rearrange the others with books and toys several times before I'm satisfied for the final picture. On top of the shelves is one of the four framed baby animal pictures that will ultimately be hung above, and I'll be switching out that lamp. I ordered one lamp for that spot, decided it was too tall to accommodate the animal prints above it, and then put it in the living room instead. The lamp in the picture is one I've had since undergrad, and that's what used to be in the living room. A newer, cuter (and shorter) lamp is on its way, along with the cubby boxes and the rug.

244/366 nursery in progress

Staying with the nursery theme/setting on Saturday, I used the top of the baby's dresser as my background for the monthly calendar shot. I'm really liking the look of the light wood in the nursery, so it wasn't too difficult to convince myself to incorporate it into this month's picture.

245/366 september

And that was August! Here's the mosaic:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

baby registries & nursery progress

The very busy weekend following our anniversary continued with an appointment at the Giggle store on Sunday to meet with one of their consultants. The idea was to go over our options and fill up our registry. I had already started the process online and added some stuff, so our consultant was saying that she felt guilty that she wasn't more help in getting a lot more put on there. However, there were several items that we would be borrowing or inheriting from Dan and Carmen, leaving less that we needed to buy new.  The purpose of the consultation for me was more to see things in person and try out the strollers we were considering. That part was quite helpful—even if I knew more about our stroller of choice from watching a YouTube review of it than the consultant did. When we left, the consultant added the items that we had discussed to our registry for us. Of course, I went home after that, checked prices against those on Amazon, and moved things over to our Amazon baby registry if they were cheaper there. :)

It was nice to finally get the registries off the ground, though. I had been dragging my feet a bit, not wanting to shift my focus to the mountain of baby gear research until the big project, the office-to-nursery transformation, was well on its way. I also didn't want to commit to the big things, by putting them on our registries, without doing the research on them first. There are still a few items, like baby monitors, that we haven't settled on yet, but at least the Amazon and Giggle registries are suitably populated with gift ideas for those looking. With our shower set for September 15, it was definitely time to get on that.

232/366 giggle

Meanwhile, the monumental nursery project was making good progress. I painted samples of three colors on the walls the previous Friday afternoon: Soft Chamois, Seapearl, and Dove Wing. Soft Chamois was a little too green, Seapearl (the color of our hallway walls) was a little too pink, and Dove Wing was the clear winner with a happy medium. I had hoped to go get the paint from House of Color on Sunday afternoon, but they're closed on Sundays. Luckily, Cole Hardware also carries Benjamin Moore, and they're open 7 days a week. They're also located a little closer than House of Color, so we were able to walk there on Sunday and bring back the paint we needed.

On Monday, I finished the taping of the trim, and then I managed to get the entire first coat of paint done. All of this took me from about 1:30 to 6:30pm. It was a good thing that I thought to stop and snap a picture of the paint can towards the end of the brushwork, because my usual tactic of waiting to come up with a shot until I was done painting (and had showered) wouldn't have worked out so well.

233/366 painting the nursery

The painting continued on Tuesday, but I was only able to do the second coat of brushwork around the trim. I had an OB appointment at 5pm, so I needed to be cleaned up and ready to go much earlier than I had the day before. I also needed to get my picture of the day taken so I wouldn't have to worry about it later. I got that set up after my shower, using the hard-boiled eggs that Steve had made for me as my subject. The eggs were fancy, colored ones from the farmers market, so I'd waited to dig into them until I had time to take a picture. For my background, I selected one of the napkins that Steve got me for our fourth anniversary—the "linen-versary." 

234/366 an egg of a different color

I got Wednesday's picture done even earlier, noticing in the morning that one of the dying tulips from our anniversary had taken on an interesting shape in the vase. That was good enough for the day, so I was able to go back to painting in the afternoon without worrying about taking more pictures. I got the second coat completely finished with the roller, removed the tape from around the trim, and admired my work.

235/366 past its prime

Thursday was all about the nursery furniture. After Steve got home from work on Wednesday, I had him move the cubby shelves back into the nursery from where they were temporarily residing in our bedroom. Then, while he was cooking dinner, I moved (or dragged) the Ikea dresser components in there. Steve actually started putting together the dresser that night, while I was in the living room, but it took me a while to notice. He got the whole frame put together, and then he had to stop when he got to a part that required the use of a hammer. It was definitely too late for loud noises.

On Thursday morning, he mentioned over IM that he had turned the frame over in case I wanted to attach the backing while he was at work. (See picture below.) I attempted it, but it turns out that I'm not very good at hammering small, easily bendable nails into hard wood. I successfully got one in, in between ruining two others, and decided to leave the rest for Steve to do. Instead, I tackled the 6 drawers. I had much better luck with those, since the only hammering involved was with large plastic dowel-screw things that went into pre-drilled holes. By the time Steve got home and finished the backing, I was on the last drawer.

After completing the dresser, we put together the crib too. With the help of the estimated delivery dates listed on, I had planned to order the crib for delivery on Friday. But then, when I hit "refresh" on the webpage on Wednesday, I noticed that the price had suddenly dropped by about $90. I couldn't believe my luck. It had been the same price for months, ever since I had started researching cribs, and then it happened to go down when we were about to buy it! So just in case they sold out or the price went back up in the next day, I ordered it right then. It arrived on Thursday morning, less than 24 hours later, and the very kind and generous UPS guy brought it upstairs for me, even though they're not supposed to do that. (I guess it pays to look pregnant!) If he had come at the normal time, Steve probably would have been home to carry it up the stairs, but the UPS guy was eager to get the big, heavy box off of his truck before noon.

236/366 furniture assembly

Friday was somewhat less exciting, since there wasn't much to do in the nursery for the time being. I went out for an afternoon walk to Bi-Rite to get some exercise, take some pictures, and buy some snacks. On the way to the store, I passed an old Ford truck in the neighborhood. I had seen it around before, but it happened to be in a more picturesque location this time.

237/366 f100

And back to the nursery-related pictures for Saturday. Steve and I went to Room & Board after lunch to order our glider, since that was last big piece of furniture remaining. I had decided on the chair and the color, so all that remained was trying it out one last time and committing to it. I snapped a picture of the it in the store to use as my picture of the day too. That's the color we got—the in-stock color—although we didn't bother with the ottoman that goes with it. It was actually delivered today, and now we have somewhere to sit in the baby's room!

238/366 the glider

Monday, September 3, 2012

anniversary week

From my birthday week to our anniversary week...

Sunday, the day after my birthday, Steve and I went to see the matinee of Legally Blonde, the summer YTC show. This would be the summer show that I did for the last seven years or so. But not this year! I was kind of glad that I didn't do it this year, what with the various OB appointments and all the work that I had to do on the nursery. I would have been insanely busy. Also, had I done the summer show, I would have had a performance the night of my 30th birthday. I enjoy doing shows, but I'm glad I got to celebrate by going out to dinner with friends and family that night instead.

Anyway, I felt that I should go see Legally Blonde, since so many of my former students were in it. They ended up doing a great job too, especially considering how much singing and dancing they had to learn in roughly five weeks. The show was at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City, rather than at Bayside Middle School as in years past, so I was able to get a nice shot of the marquee for my picture of the day.

225/366 legally blonde

Monday's shot was an easy one of the onesie we got from Elan at Contigo on my birthday. It has an image of a pig paperclip, like the ones they use to attach the check to their postcards. (Steve and I are big fans of the "pig-perclip.") And it says "Contigo" on the sleeve. It's 6-12 month size, so the baby should be able to wear it for a while next summer. 

226/366 contigo onesie

On Tuesday, I started priming the nursery at long last. I still hadn't decided on a paint color, but it was time to say goodbye to the Mt. Rainier Gray (blue) that used to be our office color. For the day's picture, I used my various swatches and one of the baby animal prints that had arrived on Monday. There was the rug sample, the fabric swatches for the chair and the crib skirt, and the paint color options for the wall. Chantilly Lace is the color of the trim, and I had narrowed it down to Dove Wing and Seapearl for the walls themselves. After stowing this pile safely in the closet, I managed to get all the rolling done for the primer that day. I had to finish the brushwork the next day, though.  

227/366 swatch heaven

After doing the last of the priming on Wednesday afternoon, I cleaned up and went out to dinner and a show with Steve. For dinner, we tried Claudine—the newest addition to Claude Lane. It was good, but I think I prefer its sister restaurant, Gitane. The food at Gitane is just a little less California and more interesting Spanish-Portuguese-Moroccan.

Then, we saw War Horse, and it was amazing. As interesting as the story was, I think the production design, the use of live music, and the puppetry were the best parts. The horses were really cool and surprisingly life-like. It made a good final show for our season subscription, especially since we didn't renew for next year. I would have liked to go see Book of Mormon in November, but I suspect we'll be busy with other things then...

228/366 claudine

Speaking of things we probably won't have time for again for a while, Steve and I celebrated our anniversary on Thursday with a very long and fancy tasting dinner. This was our fourth anniversary already. (The Beijing Summer Olympics were going on when we got married.) For the first couple anniversaries, we did wine country trips. For our third anniversary last year, we ate out at a couple fancier restaurants downtown instead, since we were going to Europe a month later. This year, wine country would have been somewhat pointless, with me not able to drink, so we went south for a 24-hour babymoon instead. For years, we had been meaning to go eat at Manresa, but its distance—an hour away in Los Gatos—was a bit of a deterrent. We didn't want a repeat of The French Laundry, when I had to drive us home from Napa after a big 4-hour dinner, all sleepy from food and the wine I had had. (Steve had had more wine, hence me driving.) So our anniversary gave us a good excuse to finally go eat at Manresa and get to a hotel room nearby, saving me from having to drive us home again.

Steve took the afternoon off of work that Thursday, and we headed down to Los Gatos to check into our hotel. We walked around the little downtown area for a bit, but dinner was definitely the main event. There were many courses, and we were actually there for about 5 hours. All the food was amazing—see Flickr for the pictures and dish descriptions—and I somehow managed to get through the meal without too much extra help from Steve. I may be pregnant, but I get full faster these days... Steve got the best Manhattan he's ever had, as well as the wine pairings with dinner, and I got a very refreshing passion fruit spritzer before switching to water for the rest of the meal. When it was all done, we had a nice walk back to our hotel room.

Overall, I'd say Manresa makes my top 5 list for meals in the Bay Area. Like Coi, one of the restaurants we visited last year for our anniversary, it has two Michelin stars. However, I think Coi pretty easily wins over Manresa as my very favorite. Both have lots of the innovative, produce-driven food that I love, though.

229/366 fourth anniversary

My picture of the day for Friday was of the front of the Toll House Hotel, where we had stayed the night before, but that wasn't really the most memorable part of the day. I had originally planned for us to walk around downtown Los Gatos a little more that morning before driving back towards the city, but we decided that we had seen enough of the area the day before. Besides, I was eager to check out of the hotel and get to our next destination: Ikea! Rather than going across the Bay Bridge to the Ikea in Emeryville, we stopped at the one in East Palo Alto on our way home. There, we got the pieces for our "Mandal" dresser for the nursery, which just barely fit in the back seat of our car.

When we got home, the bamboo frames that I had ordered for the nursery prints had arrived too. As I had suspected, the white mats that came with the frames were way too cold a shade of white to work with the baby animal prints.  So while Steve did some work from home that afternoon, I went to Flax for some replacement mats. The ones from Flax were reasonably priced and didn't look so blue-ish purple.

230/366 toll house hotel

Our extra long weekend continued on Saturday with Newborn Care class at DayOne. Taught by a postpartum doula, we learned about what to expect immediately after birth and after the hospital stay. And then we got to play with dolls. Actually, it was a quick lesson in holding, diapering, dressing, swaddling, burping, etc. While we were on a break, I took a picture of the table (and doll) that the couple next to us was using. I figured it would sum up the day pretty well. A decent amount of the material covered in the class was stuff I already knew, but it was good to have a refresher, learn a few things, and make sure Steve was on the same page.

231/366 playing with dolls