Monday, May 20, 2013

Beat Beethoven 2013

Last weekend was Pleasant Grove's annual Beat Beethoven race.  This race usually takes place in September (which change was a bummer to Julie, as she was looking forward to being able to get back into running after The Speck's imminent arrival and being able to have a fun traditional 5K to motivate her to get back in the swing of things), but I guess there's this new series of Pleasant Grove races, and this one is now part of that, so that also means there were several changes this year.  The race itself (and the price) was more or less the same, but a lot of the other happenings were different.  For one thing, for whatever reason the turnout seemed to be much smaller than previous years, which might have had something to do with it being pretty cold and rainy that morning, but which I suspect had more to do with the change of season (it's just a nice race to look forward to in the fall).  The prizes and treats were cut way back (there actually hardly were any prizes at all, they did read off the names of the division winners, but not for really any reason except for people to hear their names), and the chip timing system wasn't as effective (the results you could print out at the [one] kiosk were 1:30 under time, which is always nice to see, but not really effective).  Also, apparently they didn't give prizes because you get points for each race in the series that you do, and then you get prizes after, but also apparently, that only counts if you don't sign up with the group rate.  ForGET it!!!  BUT, they did change the course just a little so it was much closer to a true 5K, and it was still a fun time which we kind of decided to do at the last minute (thanks for getting the group together, Melody!).

As far as I can tell, I placed 11th overall, 10th in men, and either 1st or 3rd in my division (they just read off a bunch of names for each age group and called my name last, I'm not sure if they were in 3-2-1 order or 1-2-3 order... I'm thinking 3-2-1, and I don't think there were that many guys my age ahead of me) at 21:20, 6:53/mile (results printout said 19:58, which is AWEsome, but I don't think accurate).  This is a little better than last year, and I don't really mind running in the rain, but if I had realized it was that cold I might have worn something a little more appropriate for inclement weather.  I'm more used to that course by now, which is good, but it was kind of a hard run, though it seemed to go by pretty quickly.

It wasn't even until much later in the afternoon that I realized that we didn't take a single picture.  Well, I can always just go back and find another race picture that includes Mom, Dad, me, Amber and Melody, and that will about cover it.  It was also fun to see Mandy, my friend of many many years since ye olde kindergarten days, after finishing her very first 5K!  May it lead to many more (shinsplints pending).

Also, I finally managed to get my hands on the shirts from last year's race, which for some reason took a very long time to find us, ha.

And that's about it!  Don't worry, Wife!  We'll find another race in the fall for you to train for!  But I don't know if it will be one of those Pleasant Grove ones.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Month of The Speck

(This one has lots of text, which is a change from the previous photo-heavy posts, but I think it's fairly interesting and worth documenting, so read on if you like!  I'm sure some will be interested.)

Now that the babymoon is all said and done and documented, the time has come to give a little update on the preparations for the imminent arrival of The Speck.  That's right, the month of May is well upon us, and that means that by the time the month is up, we will have a little one finally joining us on the outside.  As of this week (week 37 [almost last week by now, since that's how long this blogpost has been sitting waiting to be posted]) he's considered full-term, which means he could technically come any day!  We're not really expecting him for another week or two at least, but we're really hoping for before the 20th, right, Wife?  *fistpump*  Our big plan of going to Star Trek next week and its subsequent inducement of labor is still the hope, so we'll see how that goes.  In the meantime, I was thinking that maybe we haven't been documenting our preparations that thoroughly, and certainly not as thoroughly as many people do (though some perhaps document a little TOO thoroughly), so here's a little update of what's been going on.  The Wife has been posting some of her own great preparations and projects (here, here, here, here and here), but here are a few more general ones:

  • We're up to weekly appointments at the lady doctor (who is usually a man), which is ever so conveniently located immediately across the street from us (honestly, we walk ten yards and we're at the building).  Our insurance covers this clinic, so that's where we've been going, which means they have several doctors, and we sometimes see a different one every week, and whichever one is on call when we go into labor is the one who will deliver The Speck.  Some people might prefer having the same doctor throughout the process, but we're the type that don't mind and in-and-out kind of visit with whatever doctor happens to be there, as long as they're all qualified and appropriate, of course, which they all have (mostly) been so far.  We're just not very high maintenance as long as people know what they're doing, and the insurance coverage is pretty darn good.  Also, they did a great job of removing The Wife's tennis ball, so we have plenty of confidence in them.
  • Speaking of the tennis ball incident and previous struggles with fertility, there don't seem to have been any issues with that (*knocks on wood*), for which we are very grateful.  It's crazy how you try and try and there are issues and complications, and then when it finally happened, it really did just that and has been going along apparently without a hitch.
  • A couple of months ago we signed up for and attended a series of classes offered at the local hospital, which were somewhat interesting and informative, and mostly just helped us feel better prepared in general (though that Miracle of Life video... oh my).  Julie was... glad to be a little more prepared for the whole nursing scene too.  It's funny to think that pretty much everyone in that class by now has a little baby on the outside, since most people were further along than we were when we went to it.
  • We've been slowly accumulating baby things over the months, and we're just about finished checking things off our list!  We figured it would be easier to buy things piecemeal as we go along rather than buying everything at once at the very end, which would be just crazy and expensive to do all at the same time.  So we just picked up a thing or two whenever we did our weekly grocery shopping, also ordering the big things every week or two online (crib, carseat, play yard, stroller...), and then gradually putting them together as the time draws near.  (We didn't want to buy them all too early, since then they would just be sitting there in boxes for all that time anyway.)  The nesting instinct has kicked in, our house is getting cleaned and sorted out, and as of now the nursery is pretty much assembled (and appropriately separated from the office, though they share the same room), and it's looking great!  I can't wait to see a snuggly little swaddled bundle in that crib.
In there.
  • We also have plenty of clothes from sisters and friends and shower gifts and various other places, so that we've hardly had to buy any baby clothes at all!  (Thanks so much, sisters and friends!!!)  It's so nice to have plenty of things for him to wear at various ages, and we're definitely not 2 kewl for hand-me-downs.  The closet and dresser are in place and organized, the diapers and wipey-dipes are on hand, and there's also a nice little children's library building up.  Speaking of all this, my sisters and mom threw a really nice shower, and many friends and family were so kind as to attend.
Invitation art courtesy of Elise.  Love iiiit.  It's hanging on the bulletin board above my desk.
  • We've been keeping track of things we need to do, like find a pediatrician and pre-register for labor & delivery, and contact the insurance and work for the necessary paperwork for family leave and such.  Julie hopes every day that it will be The Day so that she won't have to go to work anymore (I tell her just to go as much as she feels like or feels able to do, we don't want her overdoing it!), and I look forward to my two weeks paid leave myself (I could technically take several weeks longer, but it's unpaid, and I do have plenty of vacation days, so we'll see what happens and how things are going).
  •  Julie has big plans to make some freezer meals for the crock pot and such, so we'll have plenty of ready-made and delicious things to eat when we don't have a lot of time to make something fresh and new, though we're also really looking forward to her mom coming to visit and my mom visiting too, and both of them making us delicious foods and treats (right, moms?!?).
  • We have plenty of movies stored up on our DVR and Netflix TV shows to catch up on, so if (when) we're up late nights and spending a lot of time at home we'll have plenty to occupy us while we're trying to keep a newborn occupied and happy and sleeping when he should be.
  • As far as the pregnancy itself, I have come to the conclusion that my dear wife is a pretty great pregnant lady.  She's a good sport and she's been active and even when she's grumpy or upset she tries not to let it get to her too much.  She has NO trouble sleeping (for real, she could probably sleep ten hours straight every night if she didn't have things to do each morning, and which she definitely does NOT take for granted), and after the first trimester [correction:  the first 20 weeks] she hasn't felt that sick (there's this short period every morning around 10 or 11 where she feels a little gross, but it always passes pretty quickly).  We've heard so many horror stories, and also dream situations, and so far she seems to me at least a little better than average, which is a great blessing to her, me AND The Speck.  She's had some of the usual symptoms and side-effects (no crazy cravings in the middle of the night though... remember what I said about sleeping great?  Though she still does like a few things to eat especially, like cheeeeese, though that's nothing really new), though I myself have been breaking out, putting on a few extra pounds, being unusually emotionally sensitive, feeling especially awkward and clumsy, having disturbing dreams and feeling really tired.  Sympathy symptoms?  I'm a believer.   Julie has been checking out and reading and studying from many books about various methods of delivery and rearing young ones, and it's been good to take bits and pieces from here and there and thinking of how we can adapt them to our own parenting ideas and such (though of course we have NOTHING to learn about parenting, since we already know it all and we will be PERFECT parents!  Aren't all first-timers perfect parents??).
  • A lot of people have been naturally wondering about his name.  All we can say right now is that we have a few ideas and have narrowed it down considerably, but we're not ready to reveal our idea(s) yet.  Don't worry, in just a few weeks it will all be clear, and don't worry, we're not going to name him something ridiculous like Zerrick or Tomaquino or Pilot Inspektor or Google or Holy Tnetennba or anything with an apostrophe (yes, these are all true names I have found in a brief scouring of the interwebs for unfortunate infant nomenclature [except for Tomaquino, I made that one up, and Tnettenba, which Moss made up]...  people... don't be ridiculous).  Apparently, occasionally some people don't decide on a name before leaving the hospital, so the nurses write "Male" or "Female" on the paperwork as the first name, and some go back and change, but I guess several thousands don't... Why.
  • As for The Infamous Speck himself, he's reportedly doing great, moving around a lot and keeping his mum on her toes (more like, keeping his mum sitting back with her feet up) and his dad on his too (gladly running about to respond to mum's every whim and need).  He's about 6.5 pounds now, and his heartbeat always sounds nice and strong, and he doesn't seem to be causing many contractions, real or otherwise, so who knows what that could mean, if anything at all?  It's still WAY exciting to me to feel his little movements and jabs, and it's great to know he's moving about plenty.  Sometimes I sing to him and sometimes Julie pokes him back when he pokes her, but often we just watch as he stretches his boundaries and makes her tummy nice and lopsided.  It's still amazing to me that there's this child inside of there just finishing up his cooking so he can join us in the outside world in just a few weeks.

My wife is not prego (that's spaghetti sauce), and she's not preggers (that's just stupid), but she is a beautiful and radiant pregnant girl with active, squirmy offspring inside of her, and she's doing a great job of creating the physical body for this human that our Creator has seen fit to bestow upon us.  I can't wait to take a more active and personal role as this child's daddy-o.  Keep going by, May!  And come see us soon, Speck!  Just a couple more weeks and you can join us out here.  It's a scary place sometimes, but I promise we'll take care of you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

California (Not Disneyland) Babymoon, Part the Second: Open Your Golden Gate

(For those wondering, the title of this portion, though of course a lyric from a fairly well-known standard, was actually in reference to Martin Short's memorable performance of it in Clifford, which I sang many times leading up to this trip, and which can be seen here.  You're welcome.)

Then after we finished our work activities and such, we were on our way to San Francisco!  We had a great time (Julie's first visit, my first in over a decade), and it was a just right vacation for us and The Speck.  We were able to find a nice old hotel for a pretty good deal right in the heart of the city and spend the day walking around (Pier 39 was basically a ten-minute walk away), and then wear ourselves out just in time to come back to our room and spend the evening watching TV and ordering Thai delivery and planning for the next day.  We had asked for suggestions from San Fran-savvy friends and family in case there were any gems that we couldn't miss while we were here, so we had a nice little itinerary planned, with a few alternates in case anything fell through or we didn't feel up to things at the time.
Julie and the Great Glass Elevator
See how great it is?!?
Only the fanciest of hotels for us.
What the heck, it's a (fairly) comfy bed in a (fairly) safe place.

And not a bad view!

And now I shall outline our activities in bulleted and photographic fashion:
  • The Jelly Belly Factory!  Of course our first stop was a family favorite (which I had never until now visited) right on the way from Sacramento to San Francisco.  We took the tour and had lots of samples and bought some Belly Flops and everyone loved Julie's shirt, which made its debut today.
The lobby!  They don't allow photos on the tour, so these would have to do.
Giant Jelly Bellies suspended in mid-air!  Wacky!
Just happy to be here!
Thanks, Poor Unsuspecting Soul/Volunteer!  It's always nice to be in pictures together.
I wasn't sure if I was in this shot or not.  Turns out I was!

Care Bear Stare!!!  And check out that stylish bathroom decor!
  • Then we drove to the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio (we managed to have a Disney vacation after all!!!).  I've been hearing about this museum and its many merits for a long time, so when we were going to be so close, I would have been truly remiss not to go there.  Not as many people know about this museum, but it's really nice and thorough and a great tribute.  It's run by his family, NOT the company, so it has a lot of information and displays about his youth and upbringing, as well as a great deal, of course, about his career and films and parks.  I admit that it did make me pretty happy to finally see that giant scale model of Disneyland, since we weren't able to make it there this time.  How would it be to just grow up in some midwestern town and then move to LA with basically nothing and then become this humongous film and TV success?  Crazy.  What if there were a theme park one day named Grahamland?  That sounds so weird.  I wonder if Disneyland sounded weird to him or his family ever.
(As a side note, if you're using GPS to go here, take note that there's a Montgomery Street in the actual city that is NOT the same as Montgomery Street in the Presidio... Yes, the museum was not THERE, were Vicki first led us... No.)
After hearing about it on so many podcasts, I'm actually here!


:x (More like :> )

What would I give to sit at this desk all the day long?

The view from the backside of the museum.  Pretty nice.

There was a bench... of... some significance.  Probably from Walt's hometown or summat.

Julie said to be napping for a picture like a hobo.  The sun was VERY bright on my eyes.

I don't know anyone who loves a diorama more than this girl, and this one is a DOOZIE.

The Skyway!!!  I miss it so.

This is us "at Disneyland" (hey, we do what we need to do).

It's almost like being there!

They had a stop-motion animation exhibit happening, and Wife found one of her favorite friends (though he's looking a bit underdressed).

This is the actual model they used in the movie!  But it's so itty!

  •  The next morning we went to the Aquarium of the Bay on Fisherman's Wharf (after a minor detour involving confusion about local transportation).  It was pretty neat, but also pretty small and expensive for the size and amount of creatures it has.  You would think an aquarium ON THE BAY would have more to offer, like a window into the bay or something.  We still had a good time, and we liked petting the little baby rays, though the handler was pretty sassy to the lady who was there with her little girls.
Tiny Alcatraz.

We initially planned to only get this close to the Ghirardelli factory.
Eat WHAT now?!?

Oooewwwhhh i c.

!!!!!  (The sharks inside weren't this big, but STILL.)

I'm always kind of fascinated by jellyfish (as you may recall from our visit to the Vegas aquarium).

She loves a diorama, but she also REALLY loves an aquarium tunnel.


So big!  She knows her fish from her Animal Crossing fishing experience.

Peek-a-boo again.  I had to not take too much notice of the fishes swimming like two inches from my face so I wouldn't be like, eep.

TWO tunnels?!?  Deluxe!!!


How can she love them??

The noblest (and most still) turtle in San Francisco.


They were so cute, they kept coming up and bobbing around on the surface like puppies.

So kewt.
Always on the lookout for a smart chapeau.

They did NOT have whales.  Harrumph.

  • We had an appointment to go to the Rock a couple hours later, so we spent a while walking around the Wharf and Pier 39.  There's lots of shopping and touristy stuff, which was fun, and lots of food, which was AWESOME, and a school choir performing (like my choir tour days of yore, though these ones were much younger), which was, well, bless their hearts.  I'm sure they had a great trip and enjoyed being in a choir, ha ha.
How long had we been talking about getting chowder in a bread bowl before this trip?  A LONG time.  It met and exceeded our every expectation.  Well done, Boudin.

I can't believe these dudes are still hanging out here.  I wonder if they're the same ones I saw when I was in high school.


This one was VERY territorial of its platform.
See?  It knocked off several audacious others just in the few minutes we were watching.

  • Thence to Alcatraz!!!  When I mentioned this as a possibility for this trip, Julie was preeeetty excited, and it turned out to live up to her expectations (and my memories).  It's interesting that a prison where people were so miserable (not that they didn't deserve it) is such a major tourist attraction, but it's still a neat place to visit.
A very nice view of the city from the ferry.

They are very welcoming.

We decided this bird was fake, but we still haven't decided exactly why.


It felt weird being all smiley and posey for pictures in such a miserable location, but you know, tourists do as tourists should.

This was mostly making fun of people who were posing all cute and totally happy in solitary.  Julie was like, whaaa?  So she tried it out.

One must respect the library!

Recreation yard... yikes.

There were so many birds and they were not shy.

Seriously, what a view!  It's not tempting to desperate-to-escape inmates at all.

"Just like Julia Child's kitchen!" - Wife  "Yes, but for very different reasons." - Me

She likes these California poppies a lot from her days of youthness.

On the ferry back.  'Twas rather windy.

  • Then we caught some more foods and caught the cable car (after a long wait and listening to a pesky busker) back up to the top of Lombard Street, where we observed and acknowledged its famousness and uniqueness and then walked down the other side back to get some rest.

Seafooooood ysplz.

She likes her fish and chips.  Alas, no mushy peas this time.  *sigh*  Windermere.

Grumpy waiting (like 40 minutes) for the cable car.

Jay kay i happee.

We thought it best not to hang on to the outside.  After a minute someone offered Pregnant Wife a seat.

It's so windy.  (Like, it winds a lot, not that there's a lot of wind... Oh, you know what I mean.)

Some people were driving down soooo fast.

But most took it nice and slow, as one should.  The HouseHunters fans in us wondered how expensive it was to live on this street.
  • The next morning we drove about until we found some Redwoods, which turned out to be at Muir Woods.  They were tall and big and Julie was so glad to finally see some like she always wanted to, and was completely satisfied with her experience visiting them.  It was nice to take a walk on the paved roads (though parking was a nightmare) for as long as The Speck would allow, and we talked about how nice it was to walk in nature and fresh air and sunshine and that we could both find enjoyment in things the other might mostly be interested in.
It's not really golden, it's not really a gate, but it IS really a bridge.

So big around!

Thanks again, Poor Unsuspecting Soul (Volunteer).

Wife has long wanted to see these big tall trees.

She liked them a lot.

I really wanted to climb over and take a picture INSIDE one of the bit hollow trunks.

Then we found this!

It went all the way through.

I was scared because some kids followed me trapped me in and I couldn't get back down.

And then we found THIS, which is even better.  The ranger lady passing by took the picture because she said "it's [her] job."

It's always a good time for a Senior Picture photo shoot.

I was getting creative with our Disney Princess fruit snacks.  After this a giant purple glass slipper was squooshed up against her chin.  Also, eurgh, I need to clip my fingernails in this.

  • This visit to and from the woods facilitated nicely a crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge, which crossing we ended up doing four times in all, trying to find a place where we could park and look around and take pictures.  But at least we definitely had a chance to drive across!
Back across we go!  I don't remember which time this was.

Pretty neat view of the bridge and the city.

First this side...

... and now this side!

She's here too!

Who or what is photobombing who or what?

That guy in the back totally walked RIGHT into this picture as we were getting ready to take it.  Notice your surroundings, people!

Then we tried again without him.

She likes this town.

Stoic fellows we.

  • Then, on a recommendation of a few people at work for a nearby beach, we drove just a few minutes down to Ocean Beach.  It was windy and a tiny bit cold, and the water was definitely freezing, as expected, but we looooooooved being there anyway.  I'm pretty sure it was our favorite part of the whole trip, even though we only spent an hour or two there and only waded in the water (that was quite enough, br).  I was surprised there was such a nice beach so close to the city!  It was the perfect way to spend our last afternoon there.
Yes, I'm one of those people who take these kinds of beach pictures.  It was just so nice.  And to think I used to even hate getting sand stuck on my feet and between my toes!

At the beach!


A twist on a classic.

But not without a small instance of the classic itself. this.  (Note that he's in the photo twice.)
Come, waves.

Time for some jumping pictures!!!  I was determined to get a great one and I did!

This was an in-between pose for the next one, but I thought it was funny anyway.

Leapfrog!  Never play it with unicorns.

Up, up and away!

Wife avec Speck even did some!  She had some air too!

Jumping Bump.

Oh I like the beach.


:D :D

Many a Poor Unsuspecting Soul was on hand, but for some reason it sometimes takes a while to find one anyway.

Sometimes I just do.

  • We couldn't decide what to do for dinner that night so we ended up at a fancy restaurant at Ghirardelli Square that I can never remember the name of, but it was fun and delicious and Julie had her second chowder-in-a-bread-bowl for the trip.
A bit Prom-ish, but oh well.

It was just as good as we could have hoped or wished (again, never as good as at *sigh* Windermere).
And then, after just the right amount of days and style of vacation for my trouper of a pregnant wife (seriously, I'm pretty sure she never complained or fussed or anything and was as great a traveling companion as ever, even with The Speck in tow), we drove back up to Sacramento earlyish the next day, turned in the car and flew home by the afternoon, so we could recoup and be ready to go back to work the next morning.  It was a very fun work/play babymoon, and we're so glad it just happened to work out, and that it was just a few weeks before the recommended/required date not to travel pregnant.  We didn't get to do exactly EVERRRRYthing on our list (Pixar, Fentons, more of [actual] Chinatown, some kind of Hmong food, which I couldn't find anywhere), but we did check off a lot of things in just a few days, and then that will give us things to do on our next trip there!  Now, work, when are you going to send us to London??  Julie's work did!!!  Ha ha ha.

And now the final stretch until The Speck at last makes his big debut!