Blog Archive

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Middle School

Last night my brother drove me to the mall so I could buy a dress for my party using my babysitting money.

How "middle school" was that sentence?!

Lame, but true.

Our baby shower is this Saturday and seeing as the only maternity clothes I own are jeans, jean shorts, tank tops and t-shirts, I headed to the mall to buy a dress. I'm casual by nature, but all baby showers I've ever been to have justified slightly dressy clothes.

I bought this dress because it was the only one in the store that didn't have an empire-waist sash. Those sashes may look good on some pregnant people, but it just made my very prominent belly look even more like a circus tent than my bathing suit does. I definitely carry this baby directly out in front of me.

Unfortunately, the shoes I wanted to wear with it don't fit my fat feet anymore. Hopefully I can wear them after I birth this baby. I've never had a chance to wear them yet!

I was supposed to meet Edward back at the Game Stop store where he was looking at the video games. But when I got there, he was no where to be seen. Having left my phone in the truck (I didn't have a purse with me since he picked me up from school and carrying my hot pink backpack around the mall is just too middle school), I had to use a pay phone to call him. Those are few and far between in malls these days!

I dialed his number and it said "please deposit $1.10 for 3 minutes." Holy crap! I had no choice, so I started dropping my quarters in. Something was wrong with the phone and the money would just pop back out into the tray. But the phone still thought I'd deposited the money! So I just redeposited the same 2 coins until it was satisfied and made my call. How weird.

It turns out Edward left Game Stop because the salespeople were hounding him to buy stuff. He kept telling them that he was just looking but they were so insistent that he finally just left and went to Sear's to check out their (crappy) patio furniture.

After the mall we went to Lowe's and bought some nice wrought iron patio furnishings (2 small square tables and 6 chairs) and a neato fire pit. I was super excited to invite friends over next week so we could make s'mores over the fire...but then I realized that I can't eat chocolate. Boo. At least everyone else can. I'll be just fine eating toasted marshmallows.

When we got home we put on Greenday's Dookie album (again, so middle school) and assembled the furniture. It look me longer to take all the packaging off the presassembled chairs than it did for him to bolt the tables together. Around 10pm we finally went inside and I made dinner (pan-fried salmon and baked lemon pasta from The Pioneer Woman website). It was soooooooo good. And then we promptly went to bed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Three Short Years

Wow...Dave and I have been married now for 3 years. Crazy. Part of me feels like we've been married for much, much longer but another part of me feels like it has just flown by--like our wedding celebration was yesterday.
Three years ago I never imagined:

1. That I'd be 7+ months pregnant with our first child (we had agreed to wait until I was done with school),
2. That Dave would be working in Gualala full time/permanent basis and living away from me,
3. That we'd be homeowners who were *almost* done getting the house the way we wanted it,
4. That my mom would be fighting stage 4 cancer,
5. That I would have a heart problem that landed me in the hospital...or
6. That I could be this happy despite those issues!

Life is great as long as you ignore the small, stupid stuff and focus on the "big picture" of overall happiness and your life goals being fulfilled (which means you can't be lazy and expect things to just happen for gotta work for them!).

Monday, June 22, 2009

33 Weeks

I just had to take a screen shot of the baby ticker is hilarious!

My hands and feet feel like over-stuffed sausages today. I've found that I'm most swollen after a long weekend of physical labor. And this weekend was no different. I helped dig and shovel in the front yard for the new flagstone paths, set up some more irrigation, hauled TONS of pea gravel to the back yard in the wheelbarrow, etc. Edward and I are hoping to get about 5 flagstones installed each day after I get home from school. That way Dave won't have to help much on Friday (he really wants to reorganize the garage instead). And this weekend we'll all be in Livermore for our baby shower so we won't have a chance to work on the house much. The good news is that the work on the house is nearing completion! Our Pre-Baby To Do List is pretty much complete. Yippee! (I admit, though, that I have added a few things to it...but even those are almost done.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to Build a Patio in Expansive Soil: Part I

Other than getting new windows (which will happen before the end of 2010 because we can get an energy conservation refund of up to $1500), one of the things I've wanted most for our house since we bought it was a patio in our "BBQ yard." FINALLY after over 2 years of living here and countless rainy days of wiping off muddy paws that come into the house after potty time outside, we have our patio! The only remaining dirt out there will soon be landscaped or covered up with some sort of pavers for a walkway. So my dream of no more muddy paws is close!

This little triangular-shaped yard is directly outside our dining room, through a big sliding glass door. It sat unlandscaped for two years and was dry, dusty, ugly. Because there were no plants out there, the dog pee and poop stink would linger--I will never again take for granted the billions of soil microbes that eat that stuff up in lawns! As it was the only yard visible from our pretty dining room, you'd like we would have done something with this yard ages ago. But we never did, until now. It was an embarrassing site for sure.

Last weekend my dad came up to help us create the patio. He and I designed the patio using Autocad several months ago. (The good thing about waiting for so long to build the patio is that once we got around to actually doing it, we were 100% sure of the ideal design.) Because Davis has expansive, clay-rich soil, we knew that pouring a solid concrete slab would not work--it would just crack. So we decided to use concrete post bases (that will eventually hold posts for a shade structure) with pressure treated lumber running between them. Then we'd lay pavers inside the wood/concrete border. No worries about expansive soil or drainage!

My dad made the concrete forms for the pilasters in Livermore and brought them up here--they were really cool because they had notches in them to accomodate the wood and everything.'s how we built the patio, step by step:

Friday, 6/12/09: Daddy and I went to Home Depot to buy all the stuff we needed (except concrete mix) for the patio project--sacks of Portland cement (so named because the original cement mixture resembled the smooth stones found on the island of Portland near the British Isles...or something like that), treated lumber, metal form stakes, etc.

Saturday, 6/13/09: Dave and my dad cleared all the junk out of the yard while I babysat Teo. Teo and I came over before his nap to see how they were doing.
Then, using the Autocad drawing with all the specific dimensions, they hammered stakes at the appropriate places to mark where the pilaster forms would go. String was drawn between the stakes so they could measure all the diagonals and whatnot to ensure that it was all square.
My labmate dropped off our lab's motorized auger the week before, knowing that we were going to be doing this project. Although it was only a 4" diameter auger (we needed it to be about 6"-8") and the idle was scewy, it was such a help. Much better than digging the whole thing with post hole diggers--especially when you want your holes to be at least 3' deep.
Teo did not enjoy the loud motor on the auger, so he hunkered up against my dad for comfort since I was busy snapping some pictures. He's such a cutie: as my dad said, "he's terminally cute--like he stepped right out of a Norman Rockwell painting."
They used the post hole diggers to widen each hole. And then they laughed at Ruby when she dropped her ball into one while exploring.
And yes, that's our shop vac--Dave used it to get the last bits of soil out of each hole that he couldn't otherwise reach.

By the time I got home from babysitting around 4pm, they had begun to set the wooden forms over each hole.
This was a time-consuming process because not only do the forms have to sit over each hole, but they have to be exactly level in each direction and have their centers in the exact right spot relative to all the others. Metal stakes were screwed to each form to hold them firmly in place, lest they shift when shoveling the concrete inside them.
Hunger, diminishing daylight, and no concrete mix ("con mix") prevented us from pouring the concrete that night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Post Coming Soon

We've had quite a crazy week...Dave took the whole week off to get lots of stuff done around the house and my brother decided quite suddenly to stay with us for the summer (with his darling pooch). So life has been crazy but wonderful. I have TONS of home improvement updates that I'll post later (with pictures) once things calm down a bit.

Right now I'm dealing with 3 broken instruments (two are in my actual lab and one is a departmental lab, but I'm one of 2 students who is "in charge" of the instrument). Two of them MUST be fixed ASAP--the departmental one because there are lots of users signed up to run it and the lab one because I need to use it. That soil organic matter conference is coming up very soon and I need to run a few more samples so I can put the data on my poster.

So much to do!

Ok, I finished my "second breakfast" so I should get back to work. The thought of soldering the actuator switches inside the $100,000 thermal analyzer is really daunting...but it's gotta get done and I'm the only one here to do it. Oh, the joys of being a graduate student...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Boob Juice

Thursday night I went to the "breast feeding" portion of our childbirth education classes. Dave is in Gualala so he couldn't go. The lactation consultant giving the class was this fabulous hippie who still gives her presentations with slides instead of PowerPoint. I was sitting behind the slide projector and the fan was loud and distracting but it brought back memories of childhood.

At the beginning of the class she asked each of us to introduce ourselves and tell her what questions we already had about breastfeeding. Many ladies were curious about how to handle pumping/storage for going back to work.

My question was, "how can something so natural go so wrong that people stop breast feeding because 'it just didn't work'?" I admitted that I've probably read too much online junk about breast feeding; I've read SO MANY women say things like "breast feeding was really, really stressful and as much as I wanted it to do it, it just didn't work for me and my baby."

What doesn't "work" about it?

The instructor admitted that with breast feeding it is hard for the mother to gauge how much her baby is getting (where as with a bottle of formula you know exactly how many ounces it sucks down). She also said that most women who quit do so during normal times when their milk supply changes (like their breasts pass that 3-week maximum volume period of being perma-engorged) so they assume that their milk has dried up. Not so. Only about 2% of women are physically incapable of producing enough milk for their infants.

She also said that most women who get stressed out about breast feeding don't go to their doctor or a lactation consultant for help and give up instead.

Davis is a breast feeding town, though, and there are consultants on-call at the Mother and Baby Source store, the hospital, and even on campus. She said that Davis has one of the highest percentages of exclusively breast fed babies in the USA--something like 67% of all 6 month old babies are still exclusively breast fed here. It makes me happy that there is so much support and encouragement for it here.

I just hope that it works out for me and Eddie. I'm not sure we could afford formula anyway so I'll gladly fork over $80/hour for lactation consultant help until we get it "right" since that education is a LOT cheaper than formula in the long run. Besides I'll take any reason to snuggle and stare at my sweet baby--breast feeding seems like the best way to bond.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back Ache

My big belly is making it so hard to get enough sleep. I've tried all manner of pillow placement (between my knees, under my belly, etc.) but nothing works for long.

In high school I had to go to physical therapy because I was having back pain every morning. After hours of strengthening my stomach muscles, the therapist suggested that the problem was that my back just didn't like "remaining static" for 8 hours. Or that my bed was the problem. A pillow between my legs worked for a while. The mattress I was sleeping on at the time was my grandparents' OLD (and I mean OLD--from, like, the 1950s) and saggy. Knowing my dad's back acts up on soft beds I started sleeping on the floor because my parents wouldn't buy me a new mattress. After many, many months I FINALLY managed to convince my mom to let me get a new mattress. Ta da! My back was much happier...then I moved to college and had to sleep on nasty plastic soft mattresses again.

This time I know it is my belly. I completely wake up every time I want to roll over since it takes so much effort to do so (which is often since I'm a trasher). And I have to haul whatever pillow I'm using along with me.

Two-to-three times every night I have to pee, too, so I have to haul my big self off the bed (our bed is pretty high off the ground so it isn't easy). My back was bothering me so much when I got up for my regular 4:30am bathroom break that I seriously considered just getting up and doing something. I thought "is it crazy to mop the kitchen floor at 4:30am?" I decided it was.

The dogs have figured out this "Mama doesn't sleep well" pattern and they come up to my face for snuggles a lot when I roll over. Well, Ruby does. Potatoes sleeps right next to me, under the covers like a human, with his own head on a pillow. So he pretty much gets snuggled all night anyway. I swear, my dogs are not spoiled! =)

Potatoes will start crying/whining for breakfast as soon as it is light outside. Normally I get up with the light anyway (so I end up sleeping a lot more in the winter), but these days I'm so tired from crappy nighttime sleeping that I try really hard to ignore him and go back to sleep. I force myself to stay in bed until he stops whining because I don't want him to think that he can just whine and then get breakfast. =)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Belly Shot: 30 Weeks

I've surpassed the 12 inch mark and am nearly at 13!
I found out yesterday that I've been denied life insurance because of my tachycardia (rapid heart rate episode back in February) being "worsened by pregnancy." I'm not sure that's totally accurate since it didn't even happen until the pregnancy, but whatever. I don't make the rules. Once the baby is delivered I can have an ablation procedure done to scar the tissue in my heart where the "bad" neural pathway is located. That should take care of the problem forever, in which case USAA will let me apply for life insurance again. So that's the good news.

Other good news about insurance: Dave called his employer-sponsored insurance provider and they said that the baby is fully covered under his policy for the first 31 days of life. And then we have within the first 30 days of his life to sign him up on Dave's plan if we want to. Even though it is SUPER expensive we might still do that for his second month so I can have some time to recover and regain my bearings before having to wade through the Kaiser application process. But we'll see. Three hundred dollars is enough money that it will probably act as an incentive to get off my butt and sign him up for Kaiser sooner rather than later.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Flagstone Porch: Part Two

This was SUCH a good weekend!

First, I finally got the sod laid in the utility yard (it is the designated dog potty zone) while Dave had lunch with his old Big Four Accounting Firm friends.

Second, our college friends, Kaitlyn and Brady, came over for dinner on Friday night.

Third, my friend Justin came to stay with us on Friday night and Saturday. I haven't seen him in what seems like forever and hanging out with him was tons of fun. He even offered to help us lay the flagstones on the porch! It was great to have his help, since my belly really gets in the way when I try to bend over.

They started by filling the wooden frame with sand, then Dave tamped it down with my dad's new vibrating plate compactor. I included this picture so you can see just how ridiculous I look in my work clothes. My shirt almost doesn't cover my belly anymore.
Then they set to work playing "flagstone tetris," trying to find the best layout of stones and filling in the gaps with smaller pieces.

"Hmmm...where does this one fit?"
After pizza for lunch, I helped them level all the stones (it was pretty tedious) by lifting each one and adding/removing sand. Then we swept sand between all the stones and then watered it so the sand would settled and compact a bit more.

I think it looks SO good! The stones are wet in this picture...

I can't wait until we have the flagstone paths leading from the porch to the driveway and the side yard done...of course, I wanted to get those paths done this weekend but ended up rototilling the giant front garden bed instead. I also used the tiller to remove the remaining lawn where the paths will go. I'm going to plant something between the stones (probably creeping thyme or moss) and don't want the grass to grow there anymore.

People have really started to stare at me when the walk or ride their bikes by our house...I guess they aren't used to seeing a 6 month pregnant lady tilling and shoveling! =)

Flagstone Porch: Part One

Last weekend Dave and I set to work on creating an extension to our front porch. The existing concrete porch is very small, with hardly any room to park a stroller. Since we want to lay flag stones for a walkway in the front yard, we decided that creating a flagstone porch would be nice.

Here's what it looked like before we began. There was a 4" thick concrete walkway hugging the house that we had to remove. Whoever built these houses wasn't thinking when they designed this walkway...who walks in a 90 degree turn?
Dave manned the sledge hammer while I put my weight on the pry bar to lift the slabs of concrete up off the ground so he could smack them and then I hauled the pieces to a pile near the garbage can. It only took him about 2.5 hours to get it all done.

The concrete was poured around the base of the water line near the garage. Hoping we wouldn't break the pipe, Dave carefully chiseled a line around it before sledge-hammering the concrete away. Luckily it didn't break...but even if it had we could have fixed it. After all, he works for the water company! (When we eventually replace the driveway--it is massively cracked--we'll replace the entire water line, all the way back to the meter.)
Then Dave installed a wooden frame of treated lumber, much like he did for the gravel paths in the utility yard.
Then he tamped down a bunch of aggregate/road base.

By the time he got that part done we had to get showered and ready for our first birthing class.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Julie + Dogs + Thunder = Awake at 4AM

California is experiencing a random, not-so-normal thunder storm right now. The worst of it has passed over Davis already. Around 1am I awoke to bright flashes of lightening and a shaking dog jammed up next to me (Ruby). Knowing it would likely mean rain, I got up and closed all the windows, turned off the box fans we have hanging in each window, and took the doggie door out of the sliding glass door track. I put Ruby back into the bed, right next to me and pet her until I fell asleep. Then the thunder started around 3:40am. Ruby was gone and I found her hiding in the closet--poor baby girl. The noise was REALLY loud and there was no way for me to fall back asleep. Not to mention that Potatoes was now jammed up against me in the bed.

I stood on the front porch for a while staring at the pouring down rain--the smell of rain on soil is one of my favorite things.

Then I realized I was starving so I made a snack.

Now that I'm wide awake an hour later (thunder is gone) I thought I'd post some pictures of my darling fur babies for your viewing pleasure. =)

Potatoes resting his big head on my belly:
Ruby, my weird baby girl who never fails to make me laugh:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


For the past few weeks I've been comparing health plan benefits, costs, etc. for little Eddie. Since I have graduate student health insurance through UC Davis I have to buy a policy for the little guy because Davis doesn't offer dependent insurance. The school used to, but the policies were literally prohibitively expensive (given what little graduate students are paid) that the program was dropped since no one signed up for it.

My policy covers all my OB/GYN stuff related to the pregnancy--including the delivery at the birthing center. The baby, on the other hand, is only covered for delivery-related problems during the first 31 days of his life. Meaning that his first well baby check up isn't covered and if any problem arises (illness or emergency) that is not directly related to a problem encountered during delivery then he's not covered.

When I learned this several months ago I thought, "no problem, I'll just buy him a policy through Kaiser or Blue Cross or something." So I've spent countless hours comparing health plans. Deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, co-pays...blah, blah, blah...those terms literally haunted my dreams for a while.

I finally settled on one of a few Kaiser plans--I have no personal experience with Kaiser but talked to a bunch of people here in Davis who use it and they all seem to like it. The Kaiser hospital is in Sacramento (about 15 minutes away) but the medical offices are here in Davis, which I really like since I like doing as much in-town as possible. Kaiser is WAY cheaper than Blue Cross, Health Net, or Aenta.

I tried to find out the estimated cost of a policy for our baby-to-be with the online calculator, but it wouldn't work for someone who isn't born yet. So I called to find out the mechanics of buying a policy for a newborn--do I sign him up ahead of time and just call to "activate" the policy once he's born? I was clueless.

The lady on the phone informed me that they (and most other insurance companies) don't even offer insurance policies to infants until they are 31 days old. I asked why and she said "because most babies are covered under the mother's policy for the first 31 days." Well, mine won't be. Babies are automatically covered from the day of birth if either of their parents have policies with a given insurance company. (Birth and adoption are apparently the two things that allow someone to join an employee-sponsored plan during non-open enrollment time periods.) Well, Dave's dad doesn't offer insurance to dependents since it is such a small company. And mine "employer" (the UC system) doesn't either.

So what the heck am I supposed to do to make sure my baby is covered for the first 31 days???

The lady suggested that I get a temporary policy for that time period and she transferred me to a Medi-Cal consultant. But we're one of those families whose income doesn't fall within the range for no-cost/low-cost Medi-Cal, nor do we qualify for Healthy Families or AIM (supposedly the "mid-income" health insurance options).

Of course we can (force ourselves to) afford to pay for a private policy for Eddie...but no one will sell us one! What the HECK are people in our income bracket and job situation supposed to do???? Simply postpone doctor's visits during the first month and hope for the best? There's no way I'm taking that risk with my baby!

Dave is working with his office manager to find out whether or not he can simply sign the baby up on his work insurance policy and have the full cost deducted from his paycheck. (Most companies at least partially subsidize the first few dependents on employees medical insurance, like by paying for half the cost or something. But really small companies like his dad's simply cannot afford to offer that.) Hopefully we'll be able to sign him up for this super expensive policy (~$300) for at least the first month and then switch him over to a Kaiser plan later.

My GOD our country's medical insurance is so completely screwed up. It shouldn't be this difficult for someone who can actually afford medical insurance to get medical insurance. Right?

Almost 12 Inches!

Wow, my belly has almost hit the 12 inch mark on the Belly Chart. (Of course, the rest of my body is covering a good portion of those inches regardless.)

I wonder just how far out my belly will be by my due date?

I can pretty much expect my feet to feel swollen for at least some portion of every day. The books all say to drink more water to avoid swelling (seems counter intuitive) and I'm really trying to chug down as much as possible. Other than that things are great! I can feel Eddie move all over my belly--sometimes at the top and the bottom at the same time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saving the Planet...One C Atom at a Time

Like any good soil scientist, I'm doing my part to fix global warming: I'm sequestering carbon. (My preferred C sources include cheese and fruit.)

This is the last shirt my friend Yumi made for me (the slogans were my idea).

I think I might get myself a silk screening kit from Dharma Trading Company so I can make funny onesies for Eddie and hooter hiders for myself. =)

Lake Berryessa

This weekend Edward returned to Davis on his way back down from the Oregon Caves, where he went on a mini vacation with my mom and aunt and uncle. We decided to go to Lake Berryessa on the boat. Since the boat has been sitting out in the sun for the last 10 years the weight limit has faded away. So I looked it up online and found out it was only 600 pounds. After tallying up our weights I realized that even without the boat/car battery and all our stuff we'd be at 610 pounds. Oh well! We didn't sink (far from it) and had a grand time. Toward the end of the day, however, the wind picked up so it did take our dinky trolling motor longer to get us back to the launch ramp. The water was too cold for us humans to swim, but the dogs worn themselves out fetching sticks from the water.

We ate our traditional Nugget Market deli sandwiches and cookies on the beach and drank lots of homemade lemon-lime soda. Yummy! Even Potatoes got a little nibble of Dave's sandwich...

Edward made sure to tell me numerous times that I looked ridiculous in my maternity bathing suit. Whatever, he's just jealous that he doesn't look like a circus tent.
Going to the lake is always fun (more so when the water is warmer so we can swim). Hopefully Edward will get his own boat when he moves back to California so more of us can go fishing or venturing out on the lake for swimming.