Archive for June, 2012

June 27, 2012

Free Money

Okay, so nothing in life is truly “free”. But lately we’ve had a couple of nice unexpected surprises that meant a few extra dollars we weren’t anticipating!

The first is my old phone. A few months ago I got my first ever smart phone. My last phone was a midrange phone, I guess? Prior to my last phone, I have always selected the free (technically subsidized) phone when I renewed my cellular contract. You can bet if it’s free with a two year renewal, it’s not worth anything by the time the contract is up for renewal again! Last time I renewed my contract I thought having the ability to use the mobile web would be useful because of all the conference traveling I was anticipating. At the time, one could subscribe to the mobile web on a per month basis even if they had a two year contract. I planned to only subscribe during travel times. What I didn’t anticipate was my cell phone company changing the terms of the contracts a few months after I purchased the phone, so once the mobile web was activated, it would have to stay on for the rest of the contract! I was so mad, I never turned it on.

I went a year beyond my contract expiration date before getting a smart phone. The phone, which was the cheapest phone with mobile web at the time of purchase, was now three years old. It was still actually worth something! My cell phone company offered a gift card (which of course I have to spend at their store) in exchange for the old phone. The gift card will, however, cover the cost of a cell phone charger for my cell phone that I was going to get anyway. Sweet!

Then there were the books. Oh man, did we have a lot of books. We made a giant pile of books to get rid of, out dated technical references, old travel guides to places we will never visit again. We thought they were worthless. In fact, we thought we would have to pay to have them recycled. (I hate to thought of anything still usable or recyclable sitting in a dump somewhere!)

I took a few books to the local half price book store., not sure what to expect. I had read they wouldn’t take books they couldn’t sell, which makes perfect sense. But I was wrong. They took everything – even said they would recycle some they were sure they couldn’t sell! I made $42 dollars in three trips. It covered the cost of the smog check I needed for my car. Yippee!

The nice guy behind the counter at Half Priced Books told me the ones they typically offer the most for are the current year’s best sellers. Last year’s best sellers are not as good, because everyone who wants to read it usually already has a copy. Some out of print books are in demand, but don’t count on those. Since I’m a bit of a hoarder, I tend to keep my books well beyond their lifetime. I don’t remember how many I brought in, but I’m sure it was at least 45-50 books.

We were going to get rid of the old cell phone and used books anyway, so it was really nice to get something for them!

June 25, 2012

Another Chance at Photos

There’s still no sign that Zippy will be making her appearance any time soon, so I took the opportunity to take a photo of Domingo and I together (which I haven’t done since Mother’s day!)

I know, I’m a walking cliché. At least I admit I have a problem… right? Here’s a few more that are less cliché.

I still don’t think I look very pregnant front the front, let alone a couple days shy of my due date! I did finally order a backdrop & backdrop stand, so I’ll be all set for some newborn photography!

June 20, 2012

Scheduling Fun

This has been a tough week for me. Despite what our midwife predicting we wouldn’t be going into labor anytime soon, my body tricked me into thinking I was going into labor twice this weekend. I was awoken out of sleep both times to tightening in my abdomen, but it went away and hasn’t returned. It seems like after months of trying to escape through my navel, Zippy has decided my belly is quite comfortable after all.

We are basically done with our To-Dos before Baby. We purchased a crib mattress and a set of sheets this weekend
I repacked our hospital bags (I ditched the multi-bag approach, and just went a single soft shell bag that can hold more and takes up less space). I even printed out a “where everything is packed” list, and color coded the pockets so Domingo can find things more easily. Overly organized and anal retentive? Maaaybe… At least I didn’t laminate the list. Yet. No promises if Zippy doesn’t get here soon. I even finished scrubbing down the bathrooms and the kitchen. The semester even finished, so I don’t have anything pressing research wise (although I could always find something research wise to do).

I’m now in a wait-for-something-to-happen mode. I need a distraction.

I’m looking to fill my week (weeks?) with activities I can’t do once Zippy arrives.

One option is to go see Brave. We’ve gone twice since I’ve entered the third trimester, once for the Hunger Games and once for The Avengers. Both times we went in the middle of the week, after the movie had been out for a month. The timing worked out great, we got a whole row to ourselves which meant I could easily make a bathroom run. Obviously, we won’t be waiting a month for this movie, but hopefully the theater won’t be too crowded on a weekday anyway. Going on a weekday also has other advantages. Using our regal crown card, there’s weekday discounts at the concession stand. Visa Signature is also doing a buy one, get one free movie ticket deal, but it’s for Fridays only so we won’t be able to take advantage of it.

Another possibility is the county fair. We’ve gone every year to look at the hand made crafts and photography. The plan was to skip this year because we were worried about the heat not mixing well with me being nine months pregnant, but so far the weather has been cooperating. Still, we’re planning on going on a weekday to avoid the crowds. It can be so busy on the weekend it’s hard to find a place to sit! They’re doing a promotional deal Tuesday, so that looks like a good day to me!

Zippy, we are ready and anxious to meet you!

June 14, 2012

More Time To Prepare

I guess I will have more time to do maternity photos and set up Zippy’s nursery after all. Our midwife was still reluctant to guess when Baby was going to make her appearance, but doesn’t think Zippy will be early. In fact, our next appointment is in two weeks, on her due date!

I realized I never update about the crib. There were more cosmetic defects to the crib than we originally noticed, but I’m trying not to let that bother me. (It’s hard, I’m a perfectionist.) It looks really nice overall, and is sturdy. It’s safe and that’s the most important thing. It took us five hours – spread out over the weekend – to get it together. I just didn’t have much energy, and moving around to get to all the screws wore me out. Putting together a crib at over 37 weeks pregnant was probably not the smartest idea I’ve ever had!

After we finished the assembly, I decided we needed to buy outlet covers before Zippy arrives. Sounds crazy, I know, but the crib is right near the back wall and the mattress will literally be 2 inches for a 6 plug outlet, even at the highest setting! Not good. While Zippy isn’t going to have the manual dexterity to roll over and stick her little hand through the bars yet, I don’t want to wake up one morning and learn she’s discovered a new trick. Baby could learn to roll over by four months, and flailing arms and fingers could reach the outlet. Since we don’t have the mattress yet, I have easy access to the outlet anyway. I’m also thinking about it now, whereas in six months I could forget the outlet’s there. I decided to just cover it and easy my mind.

See how close it is?! Crazy! I think the previous owner had the outlet installed so high (and with so many plugs) so the room could be a media center of some sort. There’s also a cable and Ethernet port near by, and a bookshelf/DVD shelf installed in the closet. Right now we have a lamp plugged into the outlet, which we’ll move, so we can finish covering all the plugs.

By the way, need a place to store extra outlet covers? Try a travel soap case!

What we didn’t end up doing last weekend was purchasing was the crib mattress. I need to check my coupons more often, because my 20% off coupon isn’t valid until tomorrow! Given the price of mattresses, that’s a pretty substantial savings. So now it’s on the agenda for this weekend. Apparently we still have lots of time.

I’m not sure how many opportunities I will have to take more maternity photos, since we are now full term! While I plan on continuing to take more maternity photos right up until Zippy’s arrival, I’ve noticed my energy level has dipped significantly in the recent weeks.

I am really happy with how these turned out. I was able to capture the moment, and I’ll always have these for myself. Sure, it would have been nice to also have professional photos taken. You can never have too many photos in my book! But, to be honest, I’m starting to get way more excited for newborn photos than maternity photos.

The nice thing about maternity photos is you have several months to practice. I think I’ve improved a lot over the past five weeks. And I should have. In total, I took close to three thousand photos throughout my pregnancy! Of course, many of them are near duplicates, blurry, or posses that didn’t pan out, but that will just be our little secret. I also retook a few of my favorites as my belly continued to expand.

I’m strongly considering a professional newborn photographer, since there’ll be less time to practice. Part of the reason I took so many photos is because I was using a remote and tripod, and it’s really hard to get everything lined up and framed correctly what you can’t see what you’re doing. I’d take five or six before taking a break to notice my camera was auto focusing on the wrong thing, or I was being cropped in a way I didn’t like! I wouldn’t need so many if I was behind the lens instead of in front of it. I predict Zippy will be less patient with me while I fiddle with the tripod.

Phia (the unicorn) has been with me for over a decade. She pre-dates college, and maybe even high school. My favorite part about this photo? Zippy is giving me a good solid kick (on the left side). She wants to be in the picture too!

Belly!! This is my third post with my bare belly exposed. The funny thing? I don’t think I’ve ever exposed my belly button pre-pregnancy. I’ve never even worn a bikini in public. I did wear a mid drift once in highschool, but my belly was hidden under overalls.

And, of course, the classic bump shot, in front of the window for awesome light.

So new tips after weeks of practice:

– Experiment different levels of zoom with each of your poses. I read somewhere that amateurs (like me) tend to take photos from too far back, where pros will step in for a close crop. I ended up doing a bare belly picture a few inches closer to the tripod than usual, and I really liked that extra closeness, which led to the hands in the shape of a heart photo.

– Don’t be overly worried about being creative. As you can see, I didn’t shy away from clichés like hands in the shape of a heart, colored ribbon on the belly or even the picture frame. True, I wouldn’t expect to see them in a professional portfolio (at least not without a new creative spin), but they give you a good starting place. They also ended up being some of my favorites.

– Definitely take photos whenever you’re feeling up to it. Once I hit 35 weeks my energy level tanked. I kept waiting for good days with good sun, but my energy level and the weather never really cooperated, so I don’t have many outdoor pictures. I should have forced myself to go out more. I also have very few with my husband after 30 weeks, which is my one regret. Thankfully I have some time left to fix that!

(Past DIY maternity photography tips are here and here)

June 8, 2012

Full Term!

We are officially in Baby Watch mode – Today I am FULL TERM! I think Zippy is excited too, because she has been active all day. I tried to get it on film, but instead got this photo of Lily.

Aww, Kitty wants to feel the baby move!
Actually, she just wants to sit on my bump and is about to climb up.

Zippy’s crib also arrived today. The box looked terrible. Really terrible. It was ripped in a few places to the point where the wood was actually exposed! I had a little pregnancy induced panic. Here we are three weeks from Zippy’s due date, and I’m trying to figure whether I should just return it or suck it up and deal with the possible damage. It’s an 82 lb item, and I’m 8 months pregnant! I couldn’t even get it over the lip of the entrance way and into the house. Neither Domingo nor I even have a car big enough to fit said box to take it to the UPS store, so we would have to arrange for a pickup. Luckily, the damage ended up not being as bad as I feared – only cosmetic, and mostly confined to the back of the crib. There are a few dents and scratches, but I can live with them being out of sight. I’m sure at some point Zippy will add her own wear and tear after a few years of use anyway, anyway! Tomorrow’s task? Assembly! This weekend’s task? Buying a mattress!

The other thing that arrived today was the Snap N’ Go stroller. The box was also pretty banged up, but not nearly as bad as the crib box, and the stroller was fine. It came in just a few pieces (stroller, front wheels, back wheels, travel tray) so I was able to put it together it myself.

I love it already! The Graco SnugRide just slid on the frame like it was always meant to be. I expected the Snap N’ Go would need to be adjusted, since it’s a universal stroller fame and not all infant car seats are the same size, but I had no problems with it. It folds easily, and has a smooth ride (at least in doors.) It’ll serve us well for the rest of 2012 and into 2013 I’m sure! I still look forward to getting a city mini some day, when Zippy is bigger of course.

I should point out that some online reviews said they didn’t feel the SnugRide fit onto the Snap N’ Go very securely, and recommend Graco’s own version.

Getting the crib assembled is the last major Baby To-Do. It’s not the last thing on our list, but it’s the last thing I’m stressing about. I will feel so much more at ease with it done and ready!

June 5, 2012

Car Seat Inspected

While we installed a car seat a few weeks ago, it didn’t feel very secure to me. The instructions indicated some movement was normal, but didn’t say how much. I didn’t want to risk Zippy’s safety, so I set up an appointment at our local police station and have our seat and the installation inspected for safety.

I’m so happy we did it! Turns out the base was secure enough, but we didn’t have it in the foot in the right recline position, so it wasn’t as safe as it could be. The police officer showed us how to attach it to the middle seat, something which I thought we couldn’t do on our car. She explained all the ways new parents tend to use the seat incorrectly, and how we could double check that Zippy was secure. Best of all – it was free!

I had previously been told that car seat mirrors aren’t safe, that they could fly off and hurt the baby in the crash. But I have an (irrational?) fear of forgetting Zippy in the car, and really wanted something to help me remember she’s back there. I figured I’d just make sure the mirror was extra securely attached. The police officer explained the problem with the mirror is that most infant car seats (including the one we had) are designed to tilt upward to absorb the impact of a front end collision, which would mean into the mirror. Her recommendation was to go with an angled mirror and have installed to the side – not directly in front of baby.

Since I had completed our registry, we already had the Diono at home. I had purchased it in lieu of the flat mirror alternatives for aesthetic reasons, so I’m glad it was the type of mirror the officer recommended. It’s a bit stiff, but that means it will stay in position without needing to be readjusted. The downside to setting up the mirror on the neighboring seat’s head rest is that they make it difficult to sit in that seat, but you can always unbuckle it if you’re driving multiple people. The driver likely does not need to see the baby in that situation anyway.

I was also curious about window shades. Since we live in California where there is limitations on window tinting, I wasn’t sure window shades, or at least all types of window shades, would be legal. Turns out they are fine, but, the officer recommended pulling the car seat’s canopy down completely so that it is touching the foot of the base to keep baby protected from the sun. She said if we still wanted shades, she recommended window clings rather than shades with stiff poles, as they could fall off the window and smack the baby in the face. Since Zippy’s seat is now installed in the middle of the rear seat, and likely out of direct sunlight, we’ll try the canopy approach first.

(Standard Disclaimer: When it comes to safety don’t take my, or any other bloggers, word for it. If you get your installation inspected by someone – and I recommend it, especially if you can do it for free! – go with the professional’s recommendations!)

Something’s changed. I can’t quite put my finger on, but things just feel different. The past couple of days my energy level is completely off, but I can’t sleep. Baby is heavy and low, and I can’t help but waddle a bit. I feel a tightening in my abdomen, especially at night, but I’m not sure if it means anything. Maybe it’s my body getting ready for labor, maybe it’s just Zippy getting so big.

This weekend we started packing our hospital bag. And by packing, I mean piling up things that are going to go into our hospital bag. We decided to go with two small ‘his’ and ‘hers’ bags, rather than one big bag, just so it’s easier to find things. We had previously discussed the idea of an extended stay bag that stays in the trunk of the car, just in case I needed a caesarean section, but it doesn’t seem likely at this point. Zippy is already in a good position, and likely to be on the slightly small side so the doctor has no concerns of her not fitting.

When it comes to clothes, I am 100% comfort over style – especially in a situation like labor and delivery. I’m also one of those people who likes to hoard things and keep everything in perfect condition. (Seriously, I was the kid who would ask for play dough for Christmas and then not play with it for fear of mixing the colors and turning them all brown. Or ask for the bejewalar and not want to use up the rhinestones.) Labor and recovery is notoriously messy. So I was on a hunt to find the most comfortable, old and worn out clothes in my closet that I could. That way I wouldn’t feel like I was ruining my “good” clothes.

My Bag
* Fuzzy socks & regular cotton socks – I predict I will only be wearing the fuzzy socks, but if I start to feel too warm I may switch.
* Slippers – Can’t walk around the hospital in socks, even those with non-slip skids, it’s a liability issue. I doubt I’ll want to put shoes back on.
* Two PJ options for the recovery – Well, two tops and one PJ bottoms. I’ve never nursed before, so I’m not sure what will make things more comfortable. I was deciding between a nursing bra and regular PJs, or a nursing tank top, so I figured I would bring both. The second option doesn’t take up much additional space.
* Robe and front zipping sweater – The robe is pretty light weight, so I decided to throw in a sweater since I get cold easily.
* Hair ties
* Chapstick – not sure if I’ll use it, but it doesn’t take up much space.
* Receiving blankets for Zippy – I grabbed two, one warm one and one thin one.
* A going home ‘outfit’ for Zippy – I just picked one of her onsies, and a sweater in case the hospital is cold.
* Toiletries
* Hairbrush

I’m not too worried about a going-home outfit for me. All my nursing clothes are also maternity clothes, and I don’t want to pack away any of them yet. I also strongly suspect I will prefer to just wear my PJs home. I know we will take pictures in the hospital & going home, but my PJ options are pretty generic, solid colors which will work fine. I may add clothes to the bag as we get closer to the due date, space permitting.

Domingo’s Bag
* Cold Hard Coinage aka Vending Machine Money – We got him a roll of quarters and roll of dimes to use in the vending machines. We checked out the vending machines at the hospital during our tour, they have a great selection of snacks, even including healthy options! Of course, they also have coffee and soda machines.
* Snacks – Speaking of snacks, we thought we’d pick up a few. Even though the vending machines are well stocked and the cafeteria has a lot of great food, having a few on hand for Domingo so he doesn’t have to leave seems like a good idea. We packed a few protein bars, trail mix and peanut butter crackers.
* Altoids – Our hospital tour guide recommended this one. Women in labor can be sensitive to smells, but Dad needs to eat. A good breadth mint is a must in her book. We’re also packing hard candy & gum for after labor.
* Slippers – We’ll be there for at least 24 hours, I’m sure he doesn’t want to wear sneakers the whole time.
* PJs – Just one set of PJs for him, since he doesn’t have to worry about nursing.
* Disposable shaver
* Toiletries

We will probably also pack a change of clothes for Domingo, at least a clean shirt or two. He can wear the same jeans he did when he arrived. It seems silly to pack clothes he may want to wear now given that we could be 5 and a half weeks away from meeting Zippy. And, again, it’s not like we’re going anywhere nice after the hospital – just straight home!

Other Stuff
* Camera Bag! – I know, big surprise with this one!
* Important Paperwork – We prefilled out our hospital admittance paperwork, hospital parking pass, and birth plan. (Our hospital has a multi-choice birth plan form, so our birth plan is not very exciting or detailed, which is fine by me. My plan is to have a Baby, however the situation dictates.) We purchased a document sleeve to put the papers in, and are keeping it on top of the hospital bags.
* Scrapbooking Paper In the document sleeve I also added a few pieces of scrapbooking paper. I’m told you can ask the nurse to take a foot print for you when they get one for the birth certificate. I figure it never hurts to ask!

We also created a weekend, since labor could be any time.
* Refill Lily’s long term food and water dish
* Double check stash of non perishable food and supplies for when we return home
* Double check all batteries (cell phones & camera) are fully charged.

It feels like we’re bringing a ton of stuff to the hospital. Then again, I’ve seen hospital check lists that include up to four sets of clothes for Baby (2 in Newborn size, 2 in 0-3 months), and three sets for mom and dad! As first time parents, it’s hard to predict what we will want to have with us. How much clothes do you need for 24-48 hours?! Here’s hoping we figure it out before Zippy makes her appearance!

June 1, 2012

Baby’s Month!

Dear Zippy,

Happy Birth Month, Baby! Well, that is if you decide to come on or before your due date. Your dad and I think about your pending arrival all the time. I keep going back to the labor prediction calculator I wrote. You only have a 24% chance of being a Gemini now, a 16% chance of being born before father’s day, and have slightly better odds of being a July baby than a June baby at this point since you haven’t arrived yet!

Mommy apologizes in advance for being a math dork. I’m afraid you’re destined for geekdome too. I promise it’s more fun than it seems. You’re dad is looking forward to teaching you how to use the computer, even though it will probably be a few years yet before you’re interested. He brought you home a stuffed unicorn toy from the last conference he went to. Of course, if you want to be a data scientist like Mommy, instead of a hacker like Daddy, I’ll be cool with that!

We went to the doctor yesterday. You are doing great! You’re heart beat is good and you are getting so strong. In fact, she said if you were to come today, you would be treated as “full term” even though you’d be on the slightly early side. She doesn’t think you’re coming in the next two weeks, though. (My labor predictor agrees, and gives you a 13% chance of coming before then.) You’ve been head down for a few weeks, and seemed to have dropped on Thursday, but you’re in no hurry to make your appearance!

The doctor also predicted you will be on the average to small side. She estimated you at 5 and 1/2 lbs (the average for your number of weeks gestation is just shy of 6 lbs). She said we should get plenty of use out of our newborn onesies. Of course anything is possible; you may grow a lot this month. You may even turn out to be a boy!

She also predicted based on your position that you will be a cuddle bug, and love to be swaddled. Mommy and Daddy fully plan on obliging!

Your dad and I previously decided our goal was to have your nursery ready by the time we reach full term. Given that we’ve been together for 36 weeks already, and we only ordered a crib yesterday, I doubt that will happen! The good news is your crib did shipped today (as did all the rattles and teeters Mommy ordered for you), and is due to arrive next Friday, so there’s still a chance we can meet our self imposed deadline. Do me a favor, and don’t come this week, okay?

With Love,
Mommy (Aka, the big squishy thing you like to tenderize from the inside)