Blog Archive

Monday, August 30, 2010


Edward always alerts me to grammatical errors in my blog posts. Today was no different; this is our most recent gchat conversation:What else are annoying little brothers for?

Just Another Weekend

For the first time in about 3 weeks, I got to SLEEP IN. Dave's been sick for the last few weekends so I had to be on full time Eddie-duty, whereas normally Dave takes that on for me so I can have a much anticipated break. On Saturday Dave took Eddie to have bagels downtown for breakfast. I still had to wake up to nurse him in the morning but after that I got to snuggle back down in the covers until I felt like getting up. It was pure heaven.

Saturday afternoon was relatively much so that I can't actually think of anything we did in particular. Dave and I ran a few errands in Woodland with Eddie (buying more chicken feed and dog frisbees at Tractor Supply Company, went to Target to buy toothpaste for Eddie, and to Michael's to buy more yarn since I'm trying to learn to knit). OH! How could I forget? We ORDERED WINDOWS!

Windows have been one of my top priorities since we bought our house. We have the original, single-pane, aluminum casement windows...I swear if you look at them wrong they'll just crack. Flies and wind come through, even when they are "closed." Worst of all they are UGLY. I've also wanted to paint the house since the day we moved in, but that had to wait until we replace the windows since we'll have to redo all the stucco around each and every window. And since windows are super expensive in terms of both money and effort Dave made me wait. (Granted, we had to save enough money for them...and lucky for me, Dave was prompted to get them done this year so we can qualify for a hefty PG&E rebate).

There are 10 windows (and one sliding glass door) on our house and we only ordered 5 so far. The others will require some major overhauling before we can even figure out what size we want.

On Sunday I decided to get up with my boys so we could have a family breakfast at IHOP (gross I know, but we honestly love it). Eddie was such a good boy and sat in his high chair the whole time our food was there. Ever since he started crawling he's lost interest in eating (for me anyway, he'll always eat for his non-parental caretakers, Cassie and Morgan). And it is even worse now that he can walk. There have been very few times when Dave and I have both been able to eat our entire meals without wrangling him in our laps or taking him outside to play while the other one gets to eat.

That afternoon Dave made and installed a cabinet door for the garage sink so Eddie won't be able to get into all the cleaning products I have stashed under there. He also installed another paneled door in the hallway (goodbye ugly 1950s overly-painted doors with hideous brass knobs!).

With Edward's help I made a double batch of zucchini muffins for the freezer, started some more fruit leather in the dehydrator (apple-pear-cherry-blackberry), did lots of laundry and other cleaning.

I'm super excited about this coming weekend--Labor Day--because we're going to Gualala for honey harvest, blackberry picking, swimming the dogs in the river, and a trial run of apple pressing. This will be the last time for a long time that we'll get to stay at the Coast House where we lived last year during maternity leave last year--as of September 15 it will be rented out. It'll be nostalgic for us to stay there this particular weekend since it will be the one year anniversary of us living there. (As nice as it was to live there, I'm so glad it isn't our permanent home...I'm made for hot weather, not foggy coastal climates!)

Friday, August 27, 2010


Isn't this such a great picture?

It needs no words other than: it was taken on Friday, August 20, 2010 when Eddie was 12 months and 1 week old.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Last Note Card

Remember those school fundraisers where you'd have to bug everyone you knew to buy wrapping paper, crappy jewelry, and tins of cookies and nuts? Every time our school would have one my mom would let me pick something out for myself (and she'd buy about 20 rolls of wrapping paper for herself...).

In seventh grade I picked this mug and set of note cards:I still love the mug. It says, "The greatest natural resource any country can have is its children." So, so true!

I used the last note card as a thank you note for one of Eddie's birthday gifts. It made me a little sad since I've had them for so long.

...And it also made me realize what a weird freako seventh grader I was...this was such a 55 year old woman thing to buy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Save the Date

I just scheduled my SVT ablation procedure for early November.

Once this is all done I can finally qualify for life insurance.



I haven't been updating as much as I'd like, largely because by the time all is said and done (i.e., we're fed, the babe is bathed and bedded, the house is tiddied, and dishes are done) the last thing I want to do is sit at a computer. I'd much prefer getting into bed or lying on the couch to read a book. Right now I have about 3 books going: Packing for Mars, a history of Jumbo the elephant, and The Uncensored Bible.

So to catch up only a little:

Two weeks ago my good friend, Kaitlin, her kiddos, and her youngest brother came to visit us. It was really fun! Iva, her 3 year old daughter, was a big help in the kitchen with the pizza and bread we made. Asher, her 1 year old son, is really good at picking tomatoes and throwing grain to the chickens. I can't wait until we get to go visit them (just have to find a good time...heart surgeries, weddings, and pregnancies are getting in the way at the moment...).Last week Michael brought Zennie over to visit. We hadn't seen her for a while and it was so fun to see how much she's developed. She is on the verge of crawling and "talks" constantly. Michael wanted to play Magic cards with Dave so Eddie, Zennie, and I went out to look at the garden and the chickens and to play in the sandbox.
Yesterday Edward, Dave, and I took Eddie and the pooches on a walk through the UC Davis ag fields. There's a nice path shaded by tons of olive trees. We stopped near the little airport to eat our picnic lunch. It was quite nice.Dave's been sick since Eddie's party--first it was just an inner ear infection (doctor said viral, suck it up and wait it out) but now it seems to be a sore throat, cough, and maybe still an ear infection. Sigh...poor Dave. Last week he probably could have worked, but he couldn't drive for being too dizzy, so he just stayed home instead. He's going to the doctor again today and then will probably drive up since he's not been dizzy for a few days.

Honey harvest is coming up. A few months ago Peggy started asking around about baby sitters up in Gualala so both Dave and I could help instead of taking turns with Eddie. I'm super excited about harvest this year--not that there will be a lot of honey, but because I haven't helped since before I was pregnant. Eddie's not had honey yet, but now that he's old enough that botulism isn't such a concern, I'm looking forward to his first taste off my finger.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Melon Tasting

I signed up to be on a cantaloupe melon tasting panel in the pomology department. At first I just thought it'd be something fun to do, to break up a day of work since the pomology department is next door to my building. But then I found out that we get snacks at the end of each session AND we get paid $5 for each session. Nice!

We started with a handful of "training" sessions with the other panelists so we could come up with about 5 testable attributes for aroma, texture, appearance, and taste. Everyone had to agree on the general magnitude of each attribute for several trail melon samples so the researcher could be sure that the data we're giving her is "real."

Now we've moved on to doing actual taste testing--we each sit in isolated booths and test about 5 samples each time. Between samples we have to "rinse" our mouths with a cracker and water. The sessions are dependent on the melons' ripening out in the field so each week we're emailed with an approximate schedule and then we have a 3 hour window during which we can come in to taste them all. Eddie's had to come with me a few times during my days at home. He just plays on the floor and eats left over melon samples or other snacks that the researcher gives to him. It's pretty awesome.

This study is part of a larger Specialty Crops Research Initiative program--you can check out the news story that aired this morning here and read more about it here. I'm such a nerd...but I just love knowing that I am contributing to scientific endeavors like this (since the results will eventually benefit everyone).

Hopefully I'll be able to sign up for other panels, too. I know there are sometimes wine tasting studies and having a wine drinking break in the middle of the day doesn't sound bad at all. =)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Party!

On Sunday we had a huge party...for Dave and me! Since first birthdays (and usually second birthdays) are more about the parents than the oblivious child, we figured it was best to throw ourselves a party. Why waste all that energy, effort, and money on a baby's birthday? He has no idea what's going on anyway. So the "theme" of the party was Congratulations-to-Julie-and-Dave-Because-They-Survived-Their-First-Year-of-Parenthood. Clever, I know.

We really wanted to take a bunch of friends out to dinner while Eddie stayed home with a sitter. But since we're not billionaires and can't afford to do that, we instead decided to throw a party ourselves at home, since a little money for groceries can feed a lot more people than at a restaurant.

I started cooking on Saturday afternoon and made TONS of food. We decided to have a gyro bar--so I made filafels (out of black eyed peas and grated zucchini instead of chickpeas), two kinds of hummus, basil/mint/dill tzatziki, grilled lamb, and grilled chicken. We also had Mexican bean and rice salad, Chinese chicken salad, sangria, and cakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes...and a special cake for Eddie. I made sure to have vegetarian food and gluten free foods so everyone could have something to eat. The gluten free cupcakes were even dairy and corn free!

Our nights/weekends baby sitter, Jacob, came back to Davis from Berkeley for the day (he's at home for the summer) so he could help at the party. The idea was that Jacob would whisk Eddie away to the park after we did his cake and sang happy birthday so Dave and I could have some adult time alone with our friends...but Eddie didn't nap well so we just kept him at the house with us. And Dave missed the party. Oh well. I still had a great time.

Dave didn't feel well (dizzy and his ear was bothering him) so he actually missed 80% of the party because he napped almost the whole time. Poor guy, I feel bad that he missed singing happy birthday to Eddie and watching him with his cake...but at least he got some rest.
We had something like 25 adults, 4 babies, and 3 big kid here. It was really touching how many people took time to come over and celebrate with us.

When I gave a little "thank you" speech to everyone I actually choked up a little, especially because Dave wasn't out there with me. It seems unreal to me that:

1. We have a baby in the first place.
2. He's soooooooooooooo cute/wonderful/precious/makes my heart melt every time I look or think about him.
3. He's already ONE year old!

But then as explained Eddie's cake to everyone and I laughed at how silly and weird the whole thing was.

It seems that parents always choose a cake shape/decoration based on their child's current cartoon character or hobby obsession. For a one year old, the choices are quite limited. In Eddie's case, the choices were me or my breasts. He loves to be in my arms all the time and he also loves breast feeding. Being the weirdos we are, we chose the latter. And it just so happens that we have a breast shaped cake pan left from a bachelor party a few years ago.

Turns out I'm not the only person who has made boob shaped cakes for their child's party--weaning parties as a rite of passage for older kids to stop breastfeeding are not uncommon and there are oodles of cake and frosting recipes online using breast milk. So Eddie's special cake contained breast milk (but the cupcakes the rest of us ate did not).
Eddie was HILARIOUS with his cake. After we all sang to him and I blew out his candle, he paused to survey his sugary treat. Then he fondled the pink marshmallow "nipple."

Then he dove at it with both hands. It was such a guy thing to do.

The rest of us ate boobie cupcakes (cream filled, of course). They were delicious!Lots of special people came to celebrate with us. It was especially great to have Dyani here so we could gab with all the other mamas about her own bundle who will be here in January.

Once Dave was feeling better, he came outside and hung around with the other daddies. (Nothing is more attractive than seeing men care for babies, especially your own husband caring for your own baby. Seriously sexy.)

As always, there was a lot of prep work for the party (all the cooking) but it was totally worth it. Even though our invitation said "no gifts," several people made donations to Eddie's college fund. I haven't tallied up how much we'll be able to invest this year but Dave and I are already talking about coming up with some equation involving Eddie's age to calculate how much we'll give him each year for his college fund. He'll always get a fun gift, of course, but we're hoping the monetary gift will help him learn delayed gratification--and the joys of being nerdy like us since we'll get him to do the calculations each year once he's old enough. I bet Dave will even having him calculating out the compound interest earned to date and the total value of the fund for when he's 18. Haha!

So congratulations to Dave and me! We did it! It was a great year by any estimation.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Labor of Love

Eddie was born one year ago right this minute!

I had noticeable contractions for 41 hours, my water broke 54 hours before birth, and I had to push for over 6 hours to get him out. And it was so, so worth it.

I really, really, really cannot believe Eddie is our child and that he came from my body. This past year has been so wonderful, bewildering, fun, and only sometimes difficult. Even though I'm a single working mama 57% of the time, it has always been a joy to take care of my sweet boy.

When I'm at our home computer later I'll post some pictures of him throughout the past year. But for now, here's a picture of the birth announcement cards we mailed out:

I love you soooooooooooooooo much my sweet Edawadawordaweirdawhatawalkamus! (That nickname requires a whole post of its own...)

(I scheduled this post...I wasn't sitting here waiting to click publish...)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lactation Study: Done

For the last year we've been part of a UCD lactation study--Eddie and I were study subjects. The researchers just got approval for a 4 year extension in funding so we'll definitely sign up again when we have our next baby (even if we adopt the next one and breastfeed it--which we'd definitely do--they said we can participate!).

The study is looking at the effects of breastmilk sugars on the flora in babies' guts. Just last week the NY Times had a story about this project. And here is the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings paper where the information was originally published.

It feels really good to know that our efforts contributed to this type of work! (I can't be sure our samples contributed to the results in this publication since it was done in November of last year. But I know our data is part of the study so we'll have contributed to future works.)

I found out about the project from a fellow grad student, whose girlfriend is the post doc on the study. He asked if I'd like to do it and then had his girlfriend contact me. When I took child birth education classes at the local baby store, I heard about it again from the lactation consultant teaching the breast feeding part of the course.

So in my third trimester a lactation consultant came to my house, interviewed me to find out about my dietary habits and breast feeding history (my mom told me I didn't fully wean until I was 5 years old!), explained the study goals and how to collect samples, and had me sign a consent form. I was given a giant bag full of vials, tubes, swabs, and tongue depressors (for scooping up baby poop).
What's my reward for all this? Well, it made me feel like I was being scientifically productive during my stint as a full time stay at home mom. I was paid in Target gift cards as monetary compensation, too. But the BEST part (and the real hook for me and Dave) was that we got unlimited access to lactation consultants throughout the study. And let me tell you, with all the problems we had with feeding Eddie in the beginning, we definitely used this resource! And every time I came down with mastitis (4 or 5 times over 10 months--once REALLY badly) I was able to talk to them for advice. (In our town, lactation consultants bill out at $80-100/hour so we were really, really, really glad to be part of this study.)

For the past year we've had big bags of vials and a calendar of sampling dates sitting on the kitchen counter next to the spreadsheet where we keep track of Eddie's routine (eating, pooping, peeing, and most importantly, sleeping).
In the beginning we had to collect samples quite often:
But as time went on, the sampling became less frequent:
And some months we didn't have to do anything:
Every once in a while the study coordinator would come collect all our samples, give me the Target gift cards, and check to see how things were going. Having seen Eddie since the day he came home from the hospital, she liked being able to see him grow up. (She's also part of the on-campus breast feeding support group so she gets to see him there, too.)

It seems unreal that Eddie is nearly a year old already. I remember during his first week at home, sitting in the bed in the middle of the night trying to get him to breastfeed before finally finger feeding him some milk with a pipette (he wouldn't latch on), knowing that I'd have to go pump again after I finally got him to fall back asleep...and I thought to myself, "GOD this sucks! I thought breast feeding was supposed to be easy! And I can't believe I agreed to do this for 51 more weeks!!!!!!!!!!! I will never make it" (I had committed to one year both for the study and for myself, unless Eddie wanted to breastfeed longer than that...which apparently he does. Thank goodness breast feeding became the easiest thing in my life after about a month.) My gosh, how those 51 weeks flew by!
Breast milk, saliva, and stool samples (all Eddie's) were collected in designated vials, labeled, and stored in the freezer in a collection box.
I gave blood and saliva samples to the study (I'm glad that was all the bodily fluids they required from me!).

Dave was so supportive of our participation in the study--he'd remember when to take samples and would work hard scraping up the liquidly breast milk poops to get enough into the sample vial (they needed a teaspoon). Whenever a lactation consultant came to help us with breast feeding, he was right there with me, asking questions and learning techniques on how to get a better latch. I hope he takes pride in his contribution to the study results, too. He was definitely my breast feeding partner!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chicken Fricassee

Last week my brother called me and said, "Stop whatever you're doing. This is important." I got a little worried so I pulled the car over and parked. Then he told me he was at the store and needed to know what he could buy that would cook quickly and goes well with rice and vegetables. To someone like me, that is SUCH a hard question to answer because there are TOO MANY answers! We settled on salmon fillets sauteed in a hot pan with whatever seasonings he could find in the cupboard.

But first he asked me how to make "that one chicken thing Daddy and you used to make when we were little that has wine." (Chicken fricassee.) I explained the process, simple enough, but he didn't have time to buy wine because in NY alcohol isn't sold in grocery stores so he'd have to go all the way to another place for is so lame.

Growing up, my dad made chicken fricassee a lot. This is a cooking method whereby meat is browned, then braised in a liquid until very tender. We prefer using chicken thighs because they will not get too dry during the long cooking period. And our favorite cooking liquid is white wine.

Every week I make a list of all the random "stuff" in my fridge that I need to use up--left overs from previous meals, extra veggies, etc. This time I realized I had all the stuff needed to make chicken fricassee--baby carrots, chicken thighs (from the deep freezer), two partial bottles of old champagne from weeks ago, three giant mushrooms, and red onion.

So here's how its should make some!

1. Brown skinless chicken thighs over medium high heat in a pot with a little oil.
2. When you turn the meat to brown the second side, add some minced onion. 3. Remove the meat to a plate. Add the veggies, and a touch more oil if the pan it very dry. Turn the heat down to avoid burning the browned meat residue on the bottom of the pan. The veggies will release a lot of moisture quickly so it shouldn't be a problem.
Stir, and add a pinch of whatever seasonings you like--we tend to use bay leaf, thyme, celery seed, pepper, minced parsley.
4. Add enough wine (or water/broth-wine mixture) so that it comes about half way up the sides of the meat.5. Return the chicken to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. You'll know when the meat is done when it starts falling off the bone. You should still have some liquid in the pot.After browning the meat, you could always dump everything into a crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.

This is super good served over rice.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Train Trip to Reno

This last weekend we took a family trip to Reno--via train. My dad's cousin, Celeste, lives in Reno and her Army MP son, Justin, was going to be in town visiting with his son and his wife. Celeste planned a nice big BBQ so everyone could meet each other and hang out. The last time I saw Justin he was about 5 years old and he was directing traffic for us while we crossed the street in San Francisco on our way to the Palace of Fine Arts to feed the ducks. That was my only memory of him. Obviously now he's a strapping soldier (unfortunately I didn't get a single picture of him).

Anyway, since the BBQ was on a Sunday afternoon we decided to swap our work days around so we could return home on Monday instead of Sunday night to keep Eddie on a good bedtime schedule.

So Saturday morning my mom, dad, Dave, Eddie, and I had breakfast in downtown Davis at Black Bear Diner (used to be Bakers Square). We all took turns eating, feeding Eddie in his high chair, and letting our weird child entertain himself by madly pressing all the buttons on the juke box.Our train was about 30 minutes late arriving at the Davis station, which turned out perfect because Dave and I had time to run home to pick up a small fan before we left. (We always have a fan on in our bedrooms--Eddie's, too--to block out noise. And blocking out noise is always a concern when you're staying in a casino hotel in Reno, no matter what floor your room is on!) The Davis train station is so nice--there are all sorts of places to sit and play.Once on the train we got to our assigned seats, which are SO MUCH BETTER than airline seats because you have tons of room. Plus since you're allowed to be up and moving the whole time Eddie was happy because he could roam.

By noon our big breakfasts had worn off so everyone but my dad went to get some lunch in the lounge car. Once we were done eating Eddie sat on top of the table and played with our empty drink containers for a good 40 minutes. I love how even the simplest things can entertain someone who doesn't know any better--kids generally don't need expensive, new play things that are marketed specifically as "toys." In fact, we only brought a tractor, a sparkly pink ball, and one texture board book along for him to play with. We know from experience that plastic cups, bottles of hotel shampoo, washcloths, and hotel ice buckets are far more interesting to Eddie than boring every day toys from home. (I do make a point of rotating his toys at home every couple of weeks to keep them fresh and fun--for both me and him.)

We arrived in Reno late afternoon on Saturday and walked to our hotel (even my mom walked!). It was so amusing to me to see my parents trotting along the Reno streets, amongst casinos and cigarette smoke. They totally don't belong in a place like that (neither do us Bowers, actually).Our college friend, Kaitlyn, works at the Silver Legacy and got us a discount on our hotel. It was only a 4 minute walk from the train station so it was perfect! The hotel provided a crib for Eddie...and I was less than impressed. It was an icky metal one that look like it came from a 1950's hospital. Luckily it was small enough to fit in the bathroom area of our room so Eddie could be separated from us, just like at home. We plugged the small fan in and he slept wonderfully.Saturday night Kaitlyn and Brady and their two kiddos (Jack and Maddie) met us for dinner at one of the restaurants in the casino. We hadn't yet met baby girl Maddie--she's soooooooooo dang cute. My dad held her most of the time, fed her, and she fell right to sleep in his arms. I swear, Maddie and Eddie were the only reasons he put up with being down in the casino at all.
The next day Eddie took a nice long nap after we swam in the freezing cold hotel pool before Celeste picked us up for the BBQ. Since her grandson is almost the exact same age/size as Eddie we didn't even need to bring a car seat with us since we just stuck Eddie in his cousin's seat.

Seeing everyone was great, and we met so many new people I had trouble keeping them all straight. It was so much fun for Eddie and Justin's baby, Gavin, to play together--in the baby pool, in the dog crate, and crawling up/down/up/down/up/down the stairs in the house. Monday morning Eddie played on the rent-a-computers in the hotel lobby while us adults slurped down to go coffees and pastries. We got to the train station about 30 minutes before our train was supposed to arrive, only to discover that it was 7+ hours late. HA! We got a refund on our return tickets, walked over to the Hertz desk at Harrah's next door to the station and rented a car. My mom and I drove to Walmart to buy a car seat for Eddie (dang it, shoulda brought ours after all!), then fetched the boys, and we drove back to Davis. Including gas, the rental car option was almost exactly the same price as our 4 adult tickets on the train. So it all worked out just fine.Eddie didn't mind his new seat at all. I couldn't find seats in my price range that could be used both directions so I opted for a big boy seat since that'll end up being the most useful in the future. We haven't turned his current car seat forward facing yet (we're waiting until his birthday since technically he's supposed to be 20 pounds AND one year old) so this was fun for him. On the way over the summit we made a pit stop at a little park--Eddie nursed and had some crackers, we played in the river, and the adults used the nasty pit toilets. Over all it was an awesome trip. Since the Davis-->Reno train is near the beginning of the California Zephyr line I think it will always be pretty much on time. Going back the other direction, however, it will probably always be late--all the late starts and mechanical problems stemming from it's origin in Chicago really add up by the time it gets to Reno. For more than 2 people, it makes the most sense to drive our own car...but the train sure was fun and relaxing...for most of us!