Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Home Again, Home Again

I've been at home with Alex all this week. He has RSV, a respiratory virus that's very contagious, so daycare insisted he not come in for a few days. He started getting sick on Saturday, when he had several coughing fits that led him to lose his bottle a couple of times. We still brought him to Simbang Gabi, a special Mass with Filipino touches at Eugene's family church. Alex started crying shortly after we arrived, so I spent most of the service in the bathroom trying to get him to eat. (I haven't converted and don't plan to, so missing the Mass doesn't bother me.) We noticed later that he was wheezing, and it continued on Sunday. So we brought Alex to the doctor Monday morning, and I've been home with him since.

Despite being sick, Alex has generally been in a good mood. Unfortunately, today he was really fussy; I think it could be due to teething. Hopefully he will get his two front teeth for Christmas! I haven't done too much besides tend and play with Alex and goof off on the computer with a new game. Today, at least I got to go to the grocery store while Eugene stayed home with Alex; it was nice to get out for a while. I also stopped by our house to drop off a few things and check out the paint job. The painters still have to finish a couple of rooms upstairs, but the downstairs looks much better now. I can hardly wait until Saturday, when we have some new furniture delivered. Maybe after that we can accelerate the moving a bit.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Updates

Remember a while back when I posted about my late night trip to the ER and follow-up ultrasound? Well, I finally got to talk to a doctor about the ultrasound. Yes, it's my gall bladder, and they recommend having it removed. So I've scheduled the surgery for January 9th. Let's see if I last that long; I had another attack last night, even worse than the previous ones. I didn't bother going to ER because I didn't want to put Eugene and Alex through another sleepless night like that one--and if I'm going to lie awake for three hours anyway, I may as well do it at home, where I'll be more comfortable. The surgery doesn't sound too bad, though I will have to stay overnight at the hospital. The sad thing is I'm looking forward to that; at least that'll be one night where I won't have to get up between 1 to 3 in the morning to provide Alex with "crib service." Recovery is expected to last up to a month. I won't be allowed to lift anything heavy, which will be a problem when I bring Alex to day care in his car seat.

Finishing up my novel is going more slowly than it did in November. Since we're trying to move and getting ready for Christmas, I'm writing mostly during my lunch hour, and this week I only did it a couple of times. Still, I'm making progress with the plot, as both of my heroines are in a bind. It'll be fun figuring out how to get them out of it.

As for the moving, it's going to take a while yet. At least most of the books are packed. But we still haven't figured out what colors we're going to use.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Exterior of the House

I couldn't figure out how to blur out the address, so that's why I made the picture smaller than usual. But this should give you an idea of what it's like. Too bad I didn't think to take pictures of the kitchen. Maybe I'll do that once we're all settled.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Christmas Party That Wasn't

Ever since I started working at my present job, I've been part of the Party Planning Committee. I do it because...well, most of my other co-workers won't. I've helped plan the open house we hosted when we moved to our current location, and I've been a part of planning the Christmas Party (now called the more-PC Annual Company Dinner) for several years.

This year it was going to be a grand affair, with our budget more than what we've spent before. We found a very fancy restaurant (they have baked Alaska on the dessert menu!), reserved a private room, and set up a several-course dinner featuring several different types of appetizers, a choice of entrees, and a dessert platter, with the menu custom-printed for us. We were even going to cover valet parking.

Then...the first winter storm of the season came through the Midwest today.

It took Eugene twice as long to get home as it normally does. Even going to the grocery store with Alex was hazardous (and I don't think he was too excited about experiencing snow for the first time). My parents were planning to come down from Wisconsin to babysit Alex while Eugene and I went to dinner, but obviously that was out of the question. So Eugene said he would stay home with Alex. That left me with a dilemna: should I drive to the party by myself or stay at home? Although I felt guilty about it, I decided it was best to stay home. If the main highway Eugene took home was slick, how bad would local roads be? I felt guilty knowing the fancy dinner would go to waste, though. But then my boss called, checking to see what our plans were. It turned out that only three people would be able to make it, so I doubt the dinner (which was scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m.) went on at all. I'm sure the restaurant will charge us full price anyway; they reserved the room for us, so they won't be able to make any money off of it tonight otherwise. In a way, it's too bad; I doubt we'll be able to reschedule anything. But I have to admit I'm glad to be home with my family, in casual clothes instead of worrying about what to wear (most of my clothes are in storage, so it would have been either a summer dress or black jeans with a nice sweater), baking cookies, copying music to my computer, and just relaxing in general. And I suppose in the long run, it's better for my company if we all show up Monday morning in one piece.

And Our Next Project Is....

Moving into our new house.


That's right; we closed on a house yesterday. (I took off from work early, so I didn't get to write during lunch. Instead, I brought my laptop along and wrote on the way to and from the closing.) We actually had the offer accepted back in October, but we didn't want to say anything until we had the keys in our hands, just in case the deal fell through.
We still need to paint and pack before we can move in, so it's going to be a while yet. In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the interior. (I have a couple of the exterior, but I need to figure out how to cover up the address. BTW, one of the regular readers of this blog will get a kick out of the name of the street. You'll find out more once we send out the new address.)
The foyer.
The family room. This is one of the rooms that needs repainting -- the yellow is much brighter in person!
The loft, where my new office will be.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Did It!



So much for Writing: Impossible. I, a working mother, wrote just over 50,000 words in a month. I honestly didn't think at the beginning of the month that I would make it, but after the first couple of days when I did meet the daily quota, I became determined to finish despite a couple of unproductive days. It took a lot of effort, but I caught up. The last thousand was a bit tricky because today was so busy; I'll blog about that in a separate entry.

I learned a lot from doing this. I found that lunchtime is a productive time of day for me; I can write over a thousand words then. I learned how to turn off my inner editor and just put words down on paper, even if they're filler or awkwardly phrased. In fact, it's fun in a way to just let loose. At the same time, I also discovered that night time might not be my "write time." My exhaustion catches up to me at night, making it harder to write. There are more online distractions; even more importantly, I want to spend some time with my family instead of being forced to the keyboard to meet quota.

Speaking of family, I'd like to thank Eugene for his support this month. He offered me encouragement and gave me the time at night to write. One Saturday, when I was still a few thousand words off target, he even took off early from the clinic so he could babysit Alex and let me write at the bookstore. Love you lots, hon!

I still have a fair amount to go before I finish my story, and then it's going to need a major self-edit before it's ready for other people to crit. I think I'm going to continue to write on my lunch hour but slow down writing at home. I'd like to spend more time with Eugene. Besides, I have a new project to work on. I'll post about it next....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christkindlmarket and Counting Down

I've been immersed in working, baby-tending, and writing so much I haven't had much time to blog. Still, I've surfaced every now and then to meet with friends and family. We got to see our friends Adam and Natalie (and their daughter Sarah) last week. It was great seeing you again! (waves) As for Thanksgiving, we celebrated at Eugene's aunt's house. There were a lot of people there, and unfortunately Alex didn't handle the noise well, despite our efforts (and Eugene's parents' efforts) to soothe him. He's also showing more signs of teething these days, such as chewing on things and drooling, so that doesn't help.

Despite all of this, we decided to try taking him downtown today to the annual Christkindlmarket in Chicago. This is becoming a family tradition of ours, so we were looking forward to it. We also thought it would be better to go now, instead of doing it in December when it might be even colder. I brought my camera along, but I only took a couple of pictures, which I haven't uploaded yet. One of the funniest sights was seeing all the pigeons gathered around a fenced-off memorial flame for fallen soldiers. I guess in the winter it serves a dual purpose, though some of the birds got so close to the fire I thought they'd roast themselves.

We stopped at some of our favorite vendors at the market. Eugene bought some pieces for our holiday village (we started collecting them last year), and I bought an embroidered runner for the holiday table. We didn't get any ornaments this year, though. Alex looked around for a while but then started getting fussy, even after I changed his diaper and tried to feed him. He finally fell asleep, which gave us a chance to eat. But we didn't stay too much longer after that. Alex was much happier when he woke up, so we stopped at my in-law's house so they could see him in a good mood. They appreciated the unexpected visit.

Writing Update: I'm over 40,000 words, which means I have less than 10,000 words to go. (To meet the NaNoWriMo goal, not to finish my story. My novels never turn out so short.) I have a lot to do now to start prepping for the holidays, but I think I can make my goal if I push. Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Back on Track!

I've been lagging on my word count for National Novel Writing Month since Day 3. (Between Alex and a party that night, I only wrote 50 words.) Since then, I've been struggling to catch up. Tonight, I finally did:

Target Word Count = 17 * 1667 = 28, 339
Actual Word Count = 28,435 (according to Word; I think the Count Validator for NaNoWriMo gives me a few extra words)

Given everything that's been going on this month, this is incredible. It makes me more determine to reach 50,000 words by November 30th. Hopefully I'll have some extra time to write over the long weekend, even if we have other things scheduled too. May the muse be with me, please!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm So Stoned, Duuuude...

I bet anyone who knows me never thought I would say that. (big grin)

After calling the doctor's office a couple of times and spending the last few days at work with my cell phone by my side at all times, I finally heard from my doctor. Well, techincally she didn't speak to me; someone else at the office called me while I was driving home from work tonight. The ultrasound I had on Friday "is consistent with gallstones." They didn't tell me much more than that; they just referred me to another doctor. So I'll call him or her tomorrow and see what's recommended. Maybe they'll be able to break up the stones instead of having to remove my gall bladder. From what I've heard from other people, however, having the gall bladder removed isn't too bad in terms of the surgery or the aftermath. I would have preferred not having two major surgeries in a single year, but you have to do what you have to do.

(Russ, isn't it odd we're both blogging about health issues at the same time? I don't know if I should start feeling middle-aged because of my health or youthful for using technology to discuss it.)

OK, I better get back to writing. Tomorrow is the halfway point for National Novel Writing Month, and I can't quite seem to close the gap between where I am and where I should be.

Still Waiting....

Thanks to all who sent good wishes/thoughts about my abdominal pain. In case you're wondering why I haven't posted an update on the situation, it's because I don't have an official diagnosis yet. I did go to my primary physician last Thursday, and she recommended an ultrasound, which I had Friday morning. Unfortunately, I don't have the results for that yet. I was supposed to get them Tuesday, but even though I called the doctor's office to remind them about it, my doctor didn't get back to me that night. Hopefully she'll call me on my cell later today. In the meantime, I do have medication in case I have another attack. I still feel some pain in that area (and I'm noticing other symptoms having to do with gall bladders), but it's nowhere near as bad as it was last week.

(And in case you're wondering why I'm blogging at 2:30 a.m., it's because I just finished giving Alex a nighttime bottle. He slept through the night a couple of times last week, but now he relapsed into needing a middle-of-the-night bottle. I hope this phase passes quickly!)

Writing Update for NaNoWriMo: I'm still slightly off pace. I should have reached 20,000 words on Monday, but I'm currently at 19,800 or so. It's frustrating because I'm only a couple thousand words behind where I should be; I should be able to catch up. I would catch up if I could write as well at home as I do on my lunch break. All I can do is keep at it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The News You've Missed...

Personal news from me, that is, since I've been writing instead of blogging.

Actually, I did very little writing on Saturday. Alex was doing his usual weekend routine of resisting a rest during the day, and that night we attended a birthday party for Eugene's cousin. Alex had a bit of a meltdown from fatigue, but even so, many of Eugene's relatives wanted to see him. Eugene's mom held Alex while he napped so we could eat and socialize.

Alex was again fussy Sunday afternoon, when we celebrated my grandmother's birthday at a Polish buffet. I have some pictures from that, but I haven't uploaded them yet. I did get to see my cousins again. Although they're not that far away, we haven't gotten together since the wedding or shortly afterwards.

On Monday, we lost power during the day. Alex's daycare lost power first; I got a call from them saying I might have to pick him up if they couldn't get it fixed. A few minutes after that, we lost power at work too. Luckily, the power was restored fairly quickly.

Unfortunately, I have to end with some not-so-good news. I wound up in the ER last night with abdominal pain. It started shortly before I went to bed and just kept getting worse until I woke up Eugene. (Alex was already up.) I felt bad about doing that, but it was necessary, and Eugene reassured me about that. The three of us checked in around 2:00 a.m. and stayed until 5:00 a.m. The pain got better, but my bloodwork came back showing signs of a possible gall bladder problem. I'm going to see my regular doctor tomorrow to follow up. Too bad I forgot to bring the lab results with me when I was discharged, as that may mean they'll have to repeat it (which I can deal with) or delay further tests. Maybe the doctor's office can get the results faxed over.

And Russ, I'm a day or so behind schedule with my writing challenge. I should be at 11,667 words by now, but I'll be lucky to break 10,000 tonight. Maybe this weekend will be better for writing, maybe not. I'll just have to do the best I can.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

So Far, So Good

I started National Novel Writing Month today (I blogged about it earlier). I actually started at 2:00 a.m., since Alex woke me up and I didn't get back to sleep right away. I also brought my computer to work and wrote during lunch, then I got another hour or so in after Alex went to bed. So far, I have over 1,800 words. I need to average 1,667 per day to complete this challenge, so let's hope I can keep it up.

As for writing like this, I'm forced to think less about what I put down and just focus on getting words on the screen. I'm writing a lot of cliches and repeating some words; this first draft is going to be too raw for OWW. But maybe this is a good way of learning how to write more quickly. I 'm sure this draft will need a lot of revision, as many of the scenes will be made up on the spur of the moment. The main thing is to finish the draft, though. Wish me luck that I can keep up this pace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Misled

It's not often that I get to leave the lab for other work-related duties, but today I did. Last week, I received an e-mail about a free seminar about managing your chemical inventory. It sounded like it might be useful, so I got permission from my boss to register, then obtained directions from Mapquest. The seminar was being held in a special science and technology complex in Skokie, near where Eugene grew up. Unfortunately, the exact address for the complex wasn't available from Mapquest; they gave me instead a range of numbers similar to that address. I printed out the directions anyway, then showed them to Eugene. He knew of the complex and thought the directions would work. He also pointed out to me that I would have to take one of the Chicago exits off of the highway (detour due to construction). Lovely; between that and the commute during morning rush hour, I started to dread this trip.

Eugene had to leave extra-early this morning, so he did as much as possible (e.g., prepare bottles for day care, fill out the sheet) to help me before he left. Alex wound up sleeping in; I had to rouse him to change him for day care. He wasn't ready to eat before we left, so, feeling guilty, I left him an extra bottle for breakfast. Then I got on the highway.

The highway portion of the journey wasn't as bad as I feared; traffic moved along steadily, and even though it was sunny, the sun didn't cause delays either for east-bound traffic. Even getting off of the highway wasn't bad, and I didn't have to venture into the city itself. In fact, it was easy to follow the directions, and I was on time--until they led me to a community college. I knew that couldn't be the place, so I tried driving around it to see if the street continued on the other side. No such luck. I drove around a bit more and came across the vet clinic where Eugene's dad works. I pulled in, thinking to get directions from my father-in-law. But he wasn't in; the clinic was closed until Halloween.

By this time I was late. I called Eugene at work and on his cell, then explained the situation. He gave me other directions to the complex, but that didn't work out either. I knew I had to be close, though, as I could see some industrial buildings in the area. Finally I pulled into a parking lot and walked around until I found the right address. I was about 40 minutes late by the time I found the seminar. At least there was still time for tea and cookies.

As for the seminar itself? It was essentially a sales pitch for a software/scanner combination. You can print out labels with barcodes for your chemicals and then track them with the handheld scanner. It seems like a neat setup, but it's too expensive for our small lab. Ah well, maybe I'll get some ideas for something we can do on our own.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Still Sick

It's been nearly three weeks (I think) since Alex and I got sick. We're both still congested, though I think I'm worse off than he is. I'm also beginning to wonder if I have a sinus infection. I have a headache that won't quit no matter how much Tylenol I down. Other people have it worse, I know, but this cold or whatever it is is pretty bad. If it's not better by tomorrow, I'll have to call the doctor.

Speaking of being sick, we almost didn't get to go up to Madison this weekend for our annual early Thanksgiving get-together with college friends. Alex had a slight fever Friday night. Luckily, we were able to bring it down with medicine, and since he was acting normally Saturday morning, we decided to go. We stopped first at a local pumpkin farm to meet with some other local families from a forum we belong to. Here's a photo of Eugene with Alex in his Halloween costume:


Alex handled the car ride up to Madison pretty well. He slept for the first part of the journey. We did have to stop and change him, but that didn't delay us too much. We went straight to the church where the dinner was being held. As always, there was a lot of food and a lot of fun. The kids, of course, provided most of the entertainment. As new parents, we spent most of the time sharing our experiences with the other parents in our group. We've definitely moved on to a new phase in our lives. Alex was quite vocal at times, and not in a good way. I think all the noise was too much for him. We gave him a bath when we got to the hotel, since baths seem to soothe him. We stayed in a nice suite complete with a microwave and mini-refrigerator for Alex's needs.
Sunday morning we had brunch with the gang before heading back. (The weather was too bad for going around campus. I guess we'll have to wait for next year to show it to Alex.) We visited my parents on the way back.
There isn't too much else to add, especially since I've been going to bed early for the last couple of nights. I did find this site which has some links to some cool videos on YouTube:
And you can watch one of the videos here:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

In case anyone needs proof I'm crazy, this is it.

I just signed up for National Novel Writing Month. If you haven't heard of this before, the idea is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. You're allowed to come up with notes and an outline beforehand, but you can't start writing the actual novel until November 1st. In order to meet the word quota, you have to average about 1,667 words a day. I'm lucky to make 300 words a day, and that was before Alex. If I get even a fraction of the way to the goal, I'll be amazed. But the idea behind NaNoWriMo (as it's abbreviated) is to focus on quantity, not quality. I'll need to change the way I write in order to make quota. Also, I'll have to bring my laptop to work and write on my lunch hour--something I told myself I'd do but haven't so far. Whether I succeed or not, at least this will give me some motivation to get writing again. I haven't done anything for a while (it's hard with a baby), and I feel the need to write. Besides, this gives me a good reason to stretch myself and work on something different from Paul Harrison or my Season Lords.

I probably shouldn't say too much about what I'm working on, but it's a fantasy novel, and the tentative title is Only an Owl. I'll be using the rest of this month for research and outlining.

Wish me luck with this new endeavor, and if I don't post much during November, you'll know why--I'll be saving my words for my story.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Not Really Turned On Again

Last night was the Genesis concert. (I blogged about getting tickets for this show back in...oh, I don't remember what month it was. My memory is as sharp as a damp sponge these days.) It was at the United Center downtown, so it was a big pain getting there. Although Eugene got home early enough to pick up Alex, traffic for me was pretty heavy, even though I left right at 5:00. Then we had to pack up everything Alex needed and bring him over to Eugene's parents so they could watch him. Again, local traffic was heavy, and we got there later than we planned. We rushed through setting up the Pack-n-Play for Alex and giving the grandparents last-minutes instructions, then we dashed off for the concert. We worried on the way in that we'd be really late, but luckily the traffic wasn't too bad. We did have to grab dinner at the United Center, since we didn't have time to get some decent food elsewhere. I did have pizza--something I've been looking forward to since giving up dairy in July (we thought Alex might be allergic to milk protein, but so far he seems OK), but this was a disappointment. Ah well, I can always make my own za.

Anyway, we did make it to our seats in time for the official start of the concert, which was of course delayed. We had a decent view; we were on the first level. Still, it was much easier to see the band on the screens.

Phil had some decent interaction with the crowd; from time to time, he brought out a digital camera to take pictures of the audience. The music sounded good, but for some reason I didn't get into it as much as I did the first time I saw Genesis fifteen years ago. Part of it probably was being exhausted and sick and still wound up from dashing all around. Part of it too was thinking about our son and wondering how he was doing; both Eugene and I had our cell phones clenched in our hands, waiting for them to vibrate. And perhaps part of it was not being familiar enough with the early Genesis songs. They played a bunch I didn't recognize, and I waited in vain for "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." But even some of the songs I like, like "Domino," didn't get a strong reaction from the crowd. (Of course, we did have fun watching the drunks dance.) There were some good points, such as the drum duet between Phil and Chester Thompson. And I did get to hear one of my favorites, "Invisible Touch." But although Eugene and I did need the chance to have some couple time, I don't think we got our money's worth. Good thing we didn't pay for floor seating.

By the time we got home with Alex, it was about 1:00 a.m. (And yes, he still woke up in the middle of the night.) Gotta wonder how I made it through the day without caffiene.

P.S. Alex is still sick, but he seems to be doing better. His teacher at daycare said he was in a happy mood today, and his cough seems to be improving. Eugene picked up a humidifer for the nursery; hopefully that will help clear up his congestion.

Friday, September 28, 2007

First Cold

Alex and I are sick.

I first noticed it Thursday morning around midnight, when I fed Alex. I noticed he was breathing heavily but thought he didn't have the bottle nipple positioned correctly. But then at the next feeding, Eugene noticed the congested breathing and coughing too. The breathing seemed better when it was time for me to leave for work, so I brought Alex to daycare. At work, I called the doctor's office and on their advice took him in. He doesn't have a fever or an ear infection (though when they cleaned his ears he cried much longer than he did for his shots), so that's good. The doctor recommended against medicating him at this age, so we're just treating him with a vaporizer and chest rub. Alex is quieter than normal, but he still smiles and wants to play. I feel for him when he coughs and sounds congested, but all we can do is comfort him and tough it out. He'll have many more colds and illnesses, I'm sure.

As for me, I hope Alex doesn't have my symptoms, which include a headache, chills, and a sore throat. I'm not sure who gave it to whom, but hopefully the antibodies in my milk will help him recover faster.

We were planning to go to Lynfred Winery's Octoberfest this weekend, but with Alex being sick, we'll just have to forego it this year. He's too young for a stein anyway. ;) But it is a shame being sick on one of the last nice weekends of the season.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Overdue Update

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I've been meaning to blog for a few days now, but it's been hard to find the time. Alex doesn't go to sleep until 8:30 or 9:00, and some nights we don't get to have dinner until after that. So there's not much free time here. Last Thursday, as I was tele-experimenting and doing household chores, I thought to myself that I'm living the life of a Victorian housemaid. I've read somewhere that they would work from 5:00 a.m. to midnight. It hasn't been quite that bad for me, but only by a few hours. Hopefully things will get easier as Alex gets older (or gets better about falling asleep when he needs it).

It hasn't been all work and no play, however. Yesterday we went to a friend's baby shower in Chicago. Alex went too, of course, and he and two other babies were the stars of the show. Eugene made his (well, Paula Deen's) mile-high apple pie. It calls for two dozen apples, but he could only fit twenty of them into the bowl he used to stack the apple layers. What a shame. ;) After the shower, we visited Millennium Park and took pictures of Alex by the Bean. Here's a shot:
























Today we ran a couple of errands (such as spoiling Alex with toys and new clothes at Babies R Us) and visited Eugene's family. While we were there, Alex grabbed a set of toy keys and waved it around. It's always cool to see him do something new.

Writing: I haven't done much, but I've thought of a new opening for Lennon's Line (I mean, Thine Own Self.) I like the new first line; it's the rest of the paragraph that's eluding me.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I Still Exist...

At least, I think I do. ;)

I've survived two weeks of being a working mom. The mornings are hectic, as Eugene and I take care of Alex and get all the things he needs for daycare ready. Then I have to hurry off to the daycare to drop him off. He cries in the car, but most of the time he settles down once we get there.

In some ways, it's nice to be back at work. It's stimulating, and I get to pump and have a full lunch hour all to myself without worrying about Alex. Not much has changed over the summer, though there are now four people in the lab. (The summer intern decided to stay on longer.) This means we have to be more formal about reporting on our projects, and we're also having lab meetings--with treats! I keep busy, but I still think about Alex when I have a chance.

The evenings have become...interesting. Alex smiles at me when I pick him up, and he seems to be doing well at the daycare. But once he gets home, it doesn't take him long to start fussing, and he does it off and on until he goes down for the night (around 8:00-8:30). I think he may be overtired, but he forces himself to stay awake to be with Mommy and Daddy. It's nice to know he wants to be with us, but he needs his sleep. The problem is getting him to sleep on his own--and to stay asleep once we put him in the crib. Alex naps well at daycare, but he won't nap on the weekends, and he's definitely overtired. I'm afraid we'll have to resort to letting him "cry it out" so he learns to sleep on his own. In the meantime, we don't get to eat until after Alex sleeps, so it makes for a long evening.

Although the past couple of weekends have been gorgeous, we haven't been able to do much because of Alex's fussiness. Hopefully we'll be able to help him get over that. And no, I haven't done any writing either, not even during my lunch hour. I'm too drained to write, anyway. Probably the best thing to do is wait this out and remind myself it'll get better eventually.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

It was a pretty busy weekend for us. Eugene took Saturday off, so he had all three days free, which was nice.

We spent most of Saturday baking an apple pie. Actually, I should say Eugene did, as he did about 99% of the work while I took care of Alex and did a couple of other things. Eugene tried a new recipe this time, one from Paula Deen that required twenty-four apples. He wound up using only twenty, but it still was a monster pie. In order to stack up the Tower of Apples, he layered thin slices of apples in a stainless steel bowl, which he then inverted over the pie crust. After it was done, he coated the top with carmel sauce and pecans. All of this and the strusel (?) filling made for one delicious pie.

So what was the reason for Eugene making a mountain of pie? One of our friends was celebrating her birthday Saturday night. We met her and several other people at a bowling alley. We brought Alex along as well. In retrospect we should have had my parents come down to babysit, as this bowling alley doubled as a club complete with music that was TOO DAMN LOUD. Call me old school--call me old even--but when I get together with people, I like to be able to hear them without having to shout. Alex tolerated it better than I expected as long as someone was holding him. Eugene kindly took charge of him so I could bowl. I used to bowl once a week with some of my co-workers at my previous job, but that was five years ago. I started the night with a scoreless frame, but I ended up with scores of 69 for the first game and 112 for the second. Ironically enough, I did better after ordering the Gutterball cocktail. For Alex's sake, we wound up leaving early.

Sunday afternoon we went to the Chicago Botanic Garden briefly, but again Alex wasn't quite up for it. We fed him, but he still fussed until we got back to the car, where he fell asleep. It was just as well we left a little early, as we had plans to get together with a couple we'd met in our birthing class. (See my Babies in Stereo post from earlier.) We grilled dinner and talked babies for several hours. It was nice seeing them again, and we may get together with them again later this month.

Today, after doing some chores around the apartment, we visited Eugene's parents and had another grillout. They hadn't seen Alex since the christening, so naturally he was the star. He was fussy again, but this time it seemed more related to hunger and to doing tummy time. (Alex gets frustrated when I put him on his stomach. It's supposed to help him develop his neck and arm muscles, but he screams more than he lifts his head.) At least he fell asleep (hopefully) for the night when we arrived home.

This is a bittersweet day for me; tomorrow I go back to work and put Alex in daycare. It's going to be a bit strange being on a regular schedule again after three months away. Of course, I'll also be undergoing "Alex withdrawl." It's a shame I have to spend so much time away from him just when he's really starting to notice things. I think ultimately we'll all be fine, but it'll be an adjustment for all three of us.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Baby Shower

Today Eugene, Alex, and I went to a surprise baby shower for my cousin's wife, Gina. This will be their second child, a boy (and possible play partner for Alex). The shower was held at my aunt and uncle's house. Although the weather was gorgeous, the house is next to a set of train tracks. As we opened gifts outside, trains kept passing by.

Gina's oldest child is a girl, so she needed boy clothes. She received plenty of them. We gave her a set of onesies, two bath towels, a pack of washcloths, some baby shampoo/body wash, and a pair of baby mittens I crocheted myself.

Alex was a center of attention throughout the day. He did well at first, but he had another episode of colic that required Eugene to comfort him. (Eugene could get a job as a baby whisperer--he can soothe Alex during one of his fits by walking him around the apartment.) He also seems to be going through a bit of a growth spurt; he's eating a lot today. There was another mother there with a six-month baby; she gave me some advice about colic and milk supply.

All in all, it was a nice day seeing my cousins again. We keep saying how we should get together more often; hopefully we can do so before the holidays.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Now This Is Getting Really Wierd...

I had to run a couple of errands today. As I drove to the bank, I noticed something grey had gotten caught in my windshield wipers. I thought at first it was a piece of trash, so I flicked the wipers to get rid of it. It didn't fly away, and it left gray streaks on the window. I couldn't believe it; it looked suspiciously like a mouse.

I took a closer took at it after leaving the bank. Sure enough, it was a rodent of some sort, with a furry tail. And it was obviously quite dead, though luckily it didn't stink. How the heck did it end up on my windshield? It's been a couple of days since I drove my car, so I have no idea how long it had been there. Perhaps the storms over the weekend had something to do with it, though it occured to me it might have been left there as a prank.

When I got home, I donned a pair of gloves, gingerly removed it (even though it was dead, I still had this irrational fear it would bite me), and placed it in the garbage. It was still clutching a leaf between its front paws. After thinking about it, I now wonder if it was a baby squirrel that had been killed by the storm. It might have fallen or been blown from a tree.

Of course, given all of the recent rodent sightings I've had, the writer part of my brain found a more sinister interpretation. It almost seemed like a warning, like something a mobster would leave in someone's bed. "The Mousefather," anyone? That could make a fun idea for a fantasy story: mobs among the rodents. Something else to simmer on my brain's back burner while I come up with a story to match this idea.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rodents Are Spying on Me...

Yesterday, as I was doing laundry, I spotted a chipmunk in the laundry room. It ran behind the washing machines when I entered the room, then it later escaped through a pipe. I saw it again when I returned to transfer the loads from the washers to the dryers, and I saw yet another chipmunk sitting outside my front door. Add to that the squirrel that comes up to my kitchen door, and we have a conspiracy on our hands.

Of course, I could be nuts.

(rimshot)

Wait, where are you going? I've got plenty more jokes where that came from.... Oh, that's why.

Anyway, it's been a rainy weekend. Yesterday, Eugene and I had planned to get dinner from the Whole Foods deli in Palatine and eat by a lake there, but we had to settle for eating at the store instead. Today was a lazy day; Eugene let me sleep in (I really needed it). We did go out to pick up a few things from Babies R Us, but that's about it.

Writing: I finished reading First Draft in 30 Days. This was written by a full-time author, and I think you'd need to be a full-time author to complete a detailed outline (which she considers first draft) in this time, especially since she devotes only one day to character development. Someone like me, who would be lucky to have an hour a day for writing, would need that just to work up the main character. I've never had much luck outlining novels before writing them; I'm more of an organic writer. Still, if I could learn to outline, I think I could finish writing a book more quickly. But it might be worth outlining some of my completed works to evaluate the strength of their various plots/subplots.

Monday, August 13, 2007

College Friends

As I was tending to Alex this evening while Eugene cooked dinner, I heard Eugene let out a pleased laugh. He'd checked his e-mail and found a message from our friend and fellow blogger Russ. Another friend of ours from college, Ed, was in New York City, and they were getting together tonight. Ed and Eugene were lab partners in undergrad, but it's been years since we've seen him. So after dinner we called Russ on his cell phone. He handed us over to Ed right away. It was great talking to him; we picked up where we'd left off. Russ did send us a photo of Ed and his wife over his cell phone, but I'll be nice and not post it here. ;) Hopefully one of these days Ed can stop by Chicago so we can see him in person. So Ed, if you're reading this, don't forget to send us pictures of your daughters!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Busy Days

There's been a lot going on lately, especially with Alex being christened this past weekend, but I haven't had much time to blog about it. Time to play catch-up.

I'll start with last Friday. It was a spa day for me: I got a massage, facial, and a haircut. A bit self-indulgent, perhaps, but the massage was sorely (no pun intended), and it had been a long time since I'd had either a facial or a haircut. While I was at the spa, Alex tried out the daycare center he'll be going to when I return to work in September. Although I felt guilty about it beforehand and worried a little at the spa, he did quite well. Apparently all of the teachers wanted to hold him, and he ate and slept just fine. Hopefully that'll continue when he's there full-time.

Saturday Eugene and I spent prepping for Alex's christening. I did laundry, and Eugene made a couple of fruit salads and prepared a special photographic display of Alex. We were up pretty late getting everything together for the big day. Although it was Beatlefest (well, The Fest for Beatles Fans, to use the proper name) weekend, I didn't go this year. Probably just as well, since Alex was fussy during the afternoon.

We got up quite early Sunday morning and were on the road by 8:30. The baptism was in Evanston, at the church where Eugene and I were married. We stopped by his parents' house beforehand to drop off things and change. Although we got Alex a christening suit in size 0-3 months, it was still too big for him. We had to roll the pants up several times, and the shoes were twice as big as his feet! Unfortunately, I had to wake him up to change him, and he fussed for a while until I fed him. We got to the church at the start of the Mass and sat in the front row, ahead of my relatives. We'd chosen to have Alex baptized after the Mass, in case he was fussy. Of course, he slept not only through the whole service, but also through the baptism itself. Even pouring water on his head didn't disturb him.

There was a big celebration at Eugene's parents' house afterwards. There was lots of food, including two roast pigs and a cake my parents brought (from a bakery). I was quite busy talking to everyone who came, but I didn't need to worry about caring for Alex, as everyone wanted to hold him. Again, he slept through most of it. The party went on for hours, with people coming and going. People were still there when we finally left. Unfortunately, I misplaced my camera, so I don't have any pictures. Maybe I can upload some of Eugene's later on.

Monday and Tuesday I spent mostly taking care of Alex (he had some episodes of colic again) and running some errands. Today was slightly different because it was Eugene's birthday. Both Alex and I gave him cards and some DVDs. We also went out for dinner. How do you think Alex did? That's right, he slept through dinner, and we were in a loud, noisy restaurant. He's still sleeping in his car seat as I write, actually. I hope he won't compensate by staying up until 2 in the morning again!

Writing: Still haven't done any fiction writing; heck, I can barely find headspace to think about writing. But I did submit a funny-but-true wedding story to a publisher Maria (see link at right) posted on her blog recently. They'll pay me $100 if they use it, but I won't hear anything until January. Hopefully I'll be back in the writing saddle by that point.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Eye Exam

It's been a couple of years since my last eye exam; in fact, it was the summer before I got married. (I wanted to wear contacts for the wedding.) So I figured I would take care of that before going back to work. My parents came down to spoil--I mean babysit--Alex during my appointment.

I stopped first at work to take care of a couple of things. I chatted a bit with a couple of my co-workers and my boss. The first thing my boss said to me was something along the lines of "You were fooling all along about being pregnant; there's no baby." I guess I'll have to bring Alex in sometime so they can see him in person.

I had a little trouble finding the place (they'd moved, and I got the address wrong), but I still made it on time. I had to wait a while before the assistant came to do preliminary tests on me and dilate my eyes. I didn't enjoy that part, but at least they no longer do the air puff test for glaucoma; I always hated that. I had to wait for my eyes to finish dilating before the doctor took me. She had nine-month-old twins, so we talked about babies during the exam.

My prescription didn't change, but I decided to get a second pair of glasses as a backup. I currently have Transition lenses, but I wanted to get glasses with magnetic clip-on shades for driving. The person I worked with was very helpful about suggesting what frames would look best on me. She picked about a dozen frames from their selection, but in the end I chose a pair I had found myself. They should be ready in a couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to getting them, and when I pick them up, I might swing by work and show off Alex -- if he's having a good day.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Babies in Stereo

The past couple of days have been a bit hectic for me. Friday I took Alex on his first major grocery shopping trip (as in spending an hour in the store, not just picking up a few things). He was awake but calm, which is good. I was also glad that he's not at the stage where he asks for junk food.

Yesterday Eugene and I took Alex to visit a couple we met in childbirth class. They had their baby, a girl named Anna, a week after we did. It was cute seeing them side by side in their car seats. During dinner, Alex and Anna were both cooing, and we joked that they were exchanging tips on how to drive their parents crazy. ("So, what's this colic thing about?") Unfortunately, Anna was overtired to the point where she couldn't fall asleep, and she showed it. Alex had a couple of crying spells too, though I've heard worse. But since we and the other couple were going through the same thing, we were all understanding.

Today we stayed at home. While Eugene tending Alex, I caught up on domestic duties: I did the laundry, baked bread, and made sorbet. Now if I can finish the latest review I'm currently working on, maybe I can get back to my own stuff.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Secret Squirrel?

We have a very friendly squirrel visiting our patio. He comes up to the screen door and looks into the kitchen as if he expects me to let him in for a cup of tea. Today I caught him digging in our flowerboxes, rooting around and rolling in the dirt as if he was a dog. It's probably a good thing I didn't bother planting flowers this year, as they wouldn't have lasted. (Maybe he was a dog in another life, who knows?) One of these days I'll have to take a picture of him.

Weekend Recap

Saturday was Harry Potter Day. I spent most of it (besides caring for Alex and doing laundry) either waiting for UPS to deliver my book or reading. I didn't get the book until about 3:00 p.m., and yes, I was impatient. It would have been quicker to drive to Walmart and pick up a copy, but I'd preordered because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to take Alex to the store (depending on how he was behaving). Anyway, I finished the book and the Sunday morning. Without giving anything away, it was an enjoyable read. I foresaw a couple of things but not the main plot points. That's one of the things I respect Rowling for, her plotting. She does a great job of using minor details to great effect.

Anyway, Sunday the three of us drove to Evanston and met with the priest at the church where Alex will be baptized. Afterwards, we stopped by the Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival. The weather was perfect for it. I bought a couple of silk purses (one for a friend) and a pair of earrings. Afterwards, we stopped at Babies R Us before heading home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Out and About

Would you believe I haven't filled up my car since May? I wasn't able to drive last month while I was recovering from surgery. But last week I was cleared by my doctor. Now I can take Alex to the doctor or run errands; I just need to time things so that he's sleeping. Last week I even got to go to the bookstore with him. We also managed to visit the Chicago Botantic Garden on Sunday with him. Although he kept us up during the night, he was quiet in his stroller. I didn't bring my camera because we had enough to haul around as it was. Eugene, of course, took his camera, so he may post some pictures when he has the chance.

Writing: Sigh, I haven't had a chance to do anything for a while, and two of my OWW critters have new chapters up. Do I work on that or my own stuff? And what project should I work on? It's too much for my sleep-deprived, post-partum brain.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Get Your Geek On

As you can imagine, I've been a bit busy since Alex arrived. It seems like as soon as I finish feeding him and putting him down to sleep he wakes up again. Plus I haven't been anywhere exciting; the last time I even drove my car was the day Alex was born. So that explains why I haven't blogged in a while.

Tonight on CNN's homepage, though, I saw something worth blogging about. There was an article about surprising things you can get for free. Among them was coursework at MIT. I guess this isn't really new -- other colleges are also offering noncredit online courses -- but I still found it cool. This would also be a good resource for science fiction writers looking to learn more about basic science or about something more advanced, like quantum physics or genetics. (They have biophysics as well, but that doesn't turn me on; I took it for my major, and it was a tough class.) There are also anthropology, language, literature, and even writing courses. I bookmarked the site, though I do have to wonder when I think I'll find time to do any of these courses. I suppose it would help if I stopped playing games and got to work. Even I can't convince myself learning about science is as relaxing as a game of Zuma, though.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Daddy's Bald!

OK, I'm a little slow on blogging this week. This picture was taken on Sunday. Eugene finally made good on something he's talked about for a while--shaving his head. Now Alex has more hair than his dad. ;)




Friday, June 15, 2007

The Kosher Mush Cake

My friend Heather came over to visit today. She wanted to meet Alex, so it was a good thing he was up when she was here. He was pretty well-behaved too (normally he only cries if he needs a diaper changed or if he's hungry). We talked about writing for a while, got a carry-out dinner from a local restaurant, and watched Finding Nemo. She also brought over dessert: a kosher cake with pineapples and strawberries. Unfortunately, the cake got a little battered (rimshot) during the drive over here, so we jokingly referred to it as kosher mush. It was still pretty good, though. Hopefully we'll have a chance to get together again before she leaves in July.

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Little Town...

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/06/11/wisc.shooting.ap/index.html

DELAVAN, Wisconsin (AP) -- A domestic dispute erupted into a mass killing in southern Wisconsin, leaving six people, including two infant boys, shot to death, and a 2-year-old girl with a gunshot to her chest.
A prosecutor said late Sunday no one was in custody but that police weren't looking for a suspect and no one else was in danger. Officials often use such language when the shooter is among the dead.
"What we have is a complicated death scene and we're investigating all the possibilities," said Kevin St. John, a spokesman with the state Justice Department, which is leading the investigation. (Watch police and neighbors describe what they saw and heard )
Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss said the shooting was part of a domestic dispute, but he wouldn't elaborate until autopsies were completed and the crime scene was fully evaluated.
Officers, responding to a report of shots fired, stormed an A-frame duplex Saturday night with weapons drawn, kicking in the door, neighbor Richard Heideman said. He saw two paramedics go in behind them and come back out minutes later.
"That's when I knew everybody was dead," Heideman said.
As the bodies were wheeled out, one onlooker dropped to his knees on a neighbor's lawn and threw his hands to the sky in prayer.
The 2-year-old girl was found in a nearby van, seriously wounded. A male family member who escaped the shooting was helping investigators.
Authorities have not released the victims' names, but Kay Macara said her 19-year-old daughter, Vanessa Iverson, was among the dead.
With tears in her eyes, Macara said her daughter went to the apartment the previous night to visit friends.
"My child," she said. "I want answers."
Also in the house during the shooting were the twin infants, their parents, and the mother's sister and her husband, said Sarah Iverson, Iverson's sister-in-law.
The 2-year-old sister of the twins, Jasmine, was in serious condition at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.
The father of the children, 22-year-old Ambrocio Analco, was one of the dead, said Marco Pastrana, Analco's cousin. He said the boys were 2 to 3 months old.
Monday morning, a cluster of teddy bears, stuffed bunnies, a dinosaur and candles stood under a tree outside the duplex. The landlord, Duane Brellenthin, said two sisters rented the upstairs apartment. He declined to name them, deferring to police.
He said they'd lived there about a year and a half, and he'd never had problems with them.
Pastrana said Analco no longer lived with the children's mother. Analco left Pastrana's house Saturday night to drop the kids off with her at the duplex, Pastrana said.
"It came to my mind that this was not true," Pastrana said. "But when I came here I went to talk to the cops and they tell me that he was dead, his kids were dead and one was in the hospital."
Neighbor Leandra Mena, 65, said she heard what she thought were firecrackers coming from the house around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
"I thought it was firecrackers because it's so close to the Fourth of July," she said.
Police cordoned off two blocks around the duplex for most of the day. On Sunday morning neighbors, some still bleary-eyed, clustered on the sidewalks, watching investigators move bodies out of the house.
Tina McKinnon, 37, lives about a block away and said there was never any commotion at the house. "The children were very pleasant," she said.
Delavan, home to about 8,000 people, lies in the farm fields and woods between Janesville and Milwaukee. The P.T. Barnum Circus, "The Greatest Show on Earth," was founded in Delavan in 1871, and statues of circus animals decorate the town square.


It's a little strange seeing a sleepy town like Delavan make the national news--and I certainly didn't want to see it for this type of story. At least I don't recognize any of the people mentioned here. My sympathy goes out to the family, and I hope the little girl recovers.

I spent my teenage years in Delavan, though the town has developed since then. Back in my day, Delavan only had about 5,000 people. Since I moved there in 1982, a dog track went up (though I think it's now a bust), and lots of new stores have sprung up too. There's also a much greater Hispanic population now; when I was in high school, there were only a few token minority students.

I still visit Delavan on occasion because my friend Liz lives there. I wonder what she and her family make of this story.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More Alex Photos



Feeding time.
How dare Mommy ground me to the bassinet?

His official one-week old photo with two Oscars.
















Monday, June 04, 2007

Surprise!

It looks like my last post here was on May 30th. That's ironic, given how much has happened since then....

I have had blood pressure issues during the pregnancy, so my doctors monitored me closely to make sure it didn't progress to pre-eclampisa. At my 5/25 visit, my blood pressure was quite high initially, so I had to do a 24-hour urine collection over the weekend. I dropped the sample off on Tuesday the 29th, had some bloodwork done, and scheduled a C-section for 6/11 due to Alex being breech. The next day, I visited the perinatologist for the ultrasound of the week. Everything looked good during the ultrasound itself. However, when the doctor walked in, he said, "You timed it just right." It turned out that my liver enzymes were too high and that I had finally developed a mild case of pre-eclampisa. Since I was at 37 weeks, he wanted the baby to come out within the next 24 hours. So instead of using the rest of the day to take care of a few things, I wound up in Labor and Delivery. (The doctor's office was in another wing of the hospitial, so we walked over to the main entrance and then Eugene took me in a wheelchair the rest of the way.) They checked me in, had me change, and put me on an IV. Meanwhile, Eugene had to go home to fetch some things (good thing we had the essentials already packed). Since I had had lunch, we had to wait until the evening for the operation. We made some phone calls, and I watched TV and read a little, but waiting was very difficult, to say the least. Finally, they prepped me and brought me into the OR. It was so cold in there I started shivering. That made me worry a little about the spinal (in case it didn't go in the right spot), but it wasn't an issue. I have to admit I did feel a bit depersonalized as they positioned me and drew the sterile curtain over my body. Good thing Eugene was there to hold my hand and stroke my hair. After the spinal set in, I could still feel my feet. I mentioned to the doctor, who then asked if I could feel her pinching me. I couldn't. They proceeded. I didn't feel anything except some pressure as they drew out son out. He came out at 8:35 p.m., screaming, which was a good sign--and very amazing to hear. His Apgar scores were 8 and 9. (These are scores used to determine how well a baby is doing.) Weight was 5 pounds 2 ounces; length was 18.5 inches.

As the doctor was sewing me up, she showed Eugene my uterus. Apparently mine is heart-shaped, which explains why our son never turned head down. Any more children we have will also have to be born by c-section. Eugene got to go with our son to the special care nursery (all babies born by C-section go there automatically) while I recovered. I attempted to nurse as soon as they brought our son to me. However, I couldn't keep anything down, even liquids, until the next day, when they finally stopped my IV. I stayed in the hospital until Sunday, June 3rd. During this time, we got to know our son a little better and decided to name him Alexander Aurelio, after his grandfathers. Of course the grandparents visited, and so did a couple of our friends. By Friday, I was already feeling much better, but it was (and still is) painful to get into and out of bed, sit down, or do other things. But it's worth it to have our son.

Here are some pictures Eugene took while we were in the hospital:

http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/r89/Photovet1997/Alexander%20Aurelio%20Almazan/

There are a couple on his blog as well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Catching Up

Our Memorial Day weekend was relatively quiet. Eugene attended a Nordic walking seminar Saturday morning; I'll leave it up to him to discuss that if he wants. That afternoon, we had our car seats checked to make sure they were installed properly. The technicians made a few minor adjustments, but overall Eugene did a good job with them. Sunday we visited his parents and got to enjoy the nice weather on their deck. On the way back home, we visited a couple of people we know through an Internet forum. One of them had given Eugene some advice, so he made a batch of cookies to thank her. We talked with them for about two and a half hours. We got home late, but it was nice to meet them. Monday morning we returned to Dinner by Design (I blogged about them before) and stocked up the freezer. I also got to talk to some friends. Not my normal holiday weekend, but it probably was for the best to take it easy.

Other than that, I've been busy with doctor's appointments and getting ready for the big event. I'm still working and plan to do so through next week. Writing has been going pretty slowly, but I think I got past a sticking point. It would be nice to post something on OWW before the baby comes.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Triple Tag

Seems like this is going around again; three of the bloggers I read regularly have been tagged in the past few days. One tagged me by name; the others by default of reading them. I guess I should play along:

From Sheila's blog--seven wierd things about myself:

1. I'm left-handed, but I crochet with my right hand. All of the pattern books are written for righties, so it was easier to learn how to do it right-handed than to switch all the directions over.

2. I write science fiction. Need I say more?

3. I'm not a girly-girl. I don't care about fashion, shoes, purses, or jewelry (other than a few sentimental pieces).

4. I've never seen American Idol, Lost, Heroes, or many other popular shows. TV just sucks up your time. (Well, so does the Internet, but I guess I enjoy that more.)

5. I haven't been to the movies in well over a year either. I might change that if we go see Shrek the Third this weekend, but it depends on how I'm feeling.

6. I built a DNA model out of beads and wire when I was a teenager.

7. I read science and English textbooks when I was a child. Hey, they were just sitting there....


From Maria's blog--eight random things/facts about me:

1. I didn't drink soda as a kid, but I became addicted to Mountain Dew when I was in high school. I finally gave it up a few years ago when the caffiene gave me problems.

2. My favorite scents are lilac and lily of the valley.

3. There's a statue of an Egyptian scribe on my desk.

4. Although my parents are German, I learned more of the language in school than I did from them.

5. I used to work at McDonald's. The first night I helped close the place, I tripped and got cut by some metal trays. I still have the scar on my finger.

6. I don't like coffee, but I do like tea.

7. I've been wearing my houseshoes to work for the past month due to my swollen feet.

8. I prefer unicorns to dragons.

Finally, from Sara, five reasons why I blog:

1. To keep in touch with old friends, many of whom I don't get to see in person very often. By reading their blogs and posting what I'm up to, I feel more connected to them.

2. To connect with other people who share my interests, such as writing.

3. To discuss writing in particular--how my latest work is going, what techniques work for me, and how I feel about my progress or lack thereof.

4. To express my views on the world or current events.

5. To carve out a small portion of immortality for myself on the Internet


Well, that was a lot to post at once. I'm going to bend the rules a bit here; I'll tag Russ, Eugene, and Sue to choose one of the above memes for their own blogs.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Missing Madison

"From you have I been absent in the spring...." Shakespeare, Sonnet 98

Normally I would be getting ready to drive up to Madison, Wisconsin tomorrow for WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention I've been attending oh, since 1998, I think. But not this year. It's too close to my due date, and the last thing I need to worry about is going into labor while I'm up there and fighting the traffic back to the Chicago area. It's hard for me to get around anyway. That won't stop me from thinking about Madison--the Farmer's Market, State Street, and all the other things I miss about my favorite city. Plus of course there are panels I could be attending, people I could be meeting or renewing a friendship with, and lots of books I could be buying. We do have things planned for this weekend around here, but it just won't be the same. The best I can do is log on to the WisCon website and look for updates. So please excuse my bout of self-pity and homesickness. There's always next year, of course, but that's so far away.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nine Months and Counting....

Tomorrow I'll be in my 36th week of pregnancy. Since pregnancy normally lasts for forty weeks, I will be officially 1.9 people (as Eugene likes to say). Due to various issues I don't want to go into here, my doctors don't want me to go past 39 weeks. I have to admit I'll be glad to be done a little early. This final trimester has been a bit rough. At least we're nearly done with the nursery. We still haven't picked out a name, though. To make matters worse, I can't find the list of possible names. Better clean out the desk this weekend!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dinner with Dancers

Well, friends from our tango class last year, anyway. We wanted to get together with our tango instructors too, but their weekends are booked for a couple of months. We got together at a place called the Bonefish Grill. The food was very good, especially the dessert--a warm, moist chocolate brownie with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. One of the best desserts I've had in a long time. We had a good time talking with our friends too. I didn't think to bring the camera, though. Hopefully we'll get together with them again after the baby comes.

Not much else to report otherwise. The nursery is slowly starting to shape up. All of the furniture is in; we just need to hang up a few more things and organize the place. We'll post pictures when it's done.

I haven't got much writing done recently; I've either been busy or not feeling too well. But I did remove the first half of Lennon's Line. It's still about 112,000 words, which isn't too bad. I'd like to keep it under 120,000, which should be manageable even though I'll have to add in some of the backstory. Of course, now I have to come up with a better opening paragraph. Hopefully I won't rewrite the whole story again!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Missing In Action....

Yes, it's been a long time since I posted; I guess I'm getting lazy. I haven't been up to much beyond the usual--plus of course getting ready for the baby.

Sunday was my baby shower. My mother and mother-in-law co-hosted it at my mother-in-law's house. It was a good-sized shower, with friends and family from both sides. We got a variety of gifts, including some handmade blankets and outfits. We also got our car seat and Pack'n'Play (a combination bassinette/playpen). We have some pictures, but I haven't uploaded them yet.

I'm behind on my writing and reviews as well. Maybe tomorrow I can get back on track.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wonderful Weekend

Yesterday was a spa day for me. I had a prenatal massage. Since my back had been bothering me all week, the timing was good for that, and it was nice to relax for a while. I also had a couple of other beauty treatments and got my hair cut. I probably won't have much time for the spa after the baby comes, so it's better to have my hair taken care of now and not have to go in for a while. Later, Eugene and I went out for dinner with some friends of ours. Both the food and the conversation were excellent.

Today we got together with another friend of mine, Heather. We went to Navy Pier, where we took a boat ride, saw an IMAX show, and walked around for a while, enjoying the weather. Later, we went out for sushi, though of course I couldn't have any. But by the time we returned home, clouds were coming. It's raining now; I hope Heather got home before the storm hit.

I have pictures from the boat ride but don't feel like posting them now. Perhaps I'll upload them tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Time for an Update

I've been slacking on the blog this week. Some nights I had a good excuse for doing so. For example, Monday night was the Billy Joel concert. Eugene and I went with Betsy, a friend of his from vet school, and her husband Ray. We had dinner beforehand and lingered so long that even though we were only a few minutes away from the venue, we had a hard time finding parking. We wound up having to take a shuttle bus from another parking lot. Good thing concerts never start on time. It was an enjoyable show; Billy Joel was at ease with the audience, and he played a mix of hits and some more obscure songs. I have to admit I was a bit more tired than I realized, so it was harder for me to get into some parts of the show. We didn't get home until about 11:30.

Tuesday we had one of our childbirth classes. It's part of a six-week long course, and we're about halfway through. We have breathing exercises to do (well, it doesn't matter if Eugene does them) and other things we're supposed to practice between sessions. I never knew pregnancy would require so much homework!

The last couple of days I've just been busy with other things, like working on my writing. Some info about that is posted on my other blog. I won't bother to go into it here, however. But there should be some other things to report on this weekend, so I'll try to post them sooner.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Few Pictures....

One of the swans at the garden.












Eugene takes time to enjoy the flowers.













One of the many flower beds.












And of course, what trip to the garden would be complete without an Oscar picture?

Back to the Garden

At last we had a gorgeous weekend, so Eugene and I went back to our favorite spot, the Chicago Botanic Garden. It was very busy today, as there was an antique/garden show going on. One of the first things we saw when we entered the garden was a pair of swans. We took a few pictures of them before seeing another pair being fed a little farther down. Eugene let me use one of his cameras, so I practiced taking some photos with it. I may try to post them later on after I finish installing a new card reader. Some of the fruit trees were in bloom, so I enjoyed sniffing the blossoms. The bulbs were going strong, but of course it's too early for roses.

We only stayed at the garden for a couple of hours and tried not to walk around too much. I sat down every chance I could. Even so, my back was killing me by the time we left. I guess that's only going to get worse the farther along I am.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

We're Baaaacckkk....

Finally, our Internet at home is up. We had to place a new order for Internet service, as the one call that I thought would take care of both the phone and Internet didn't work. We're gradually getting some other things sorted out as well. We've bought so many bookshelves at IKEA that we should get one free. ;) Once we get the nursery emptied out, Eugene will be able to assemble the crib and other furniture.

Speaking of home furnishings, we had planned last week to pick up some vacuum storage bags (the kind that you can pull air out of to condense bulky clothes) but couldn't find them at Target. While I was running errands today, I stopped at the Container Store and bought some. When Eugene came home from work, he also had a bag from there. I guess great minds really do think alike. We should be able to use them all, though, so we don't have to return them.

I had a request to report on how the meals from Dinner by Design turned out. We've eaten all but the beef brisket. Overall, we enjoyed them. The shrimp scampi was a little disappointing in that the shrimp were small and the shrimp/pasta ratio was too low, but it was good and garlicky. The pork chops and lasgana in particular were quite good. We plan to go back next month and possibly make more dishes.

Writing: I should probably put this on my other blog, but I have started to rewrite one of my books. I've also started revising a synopsis for Lennon's Line. I'm not sure yet when I'll start sending it out; it should probably go through one more edit/revision first, but I'm getting close to the point where I just want it done and out of the door.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dinner By Design

Net Update-Still not up at home. Our land line works only intermittently due to a damaged phone jack. Our apartment complex will take a look at it on Monday to see if they can replace it. I hope we don't have to call the phone company to have it fixed; who wants to pay for something that was already damaged when we moved in?


Anyway, on to the main topic for the day....

I found out about Dinner By Design through one of my online forums. It's a franchise where you can prepare meals to take home and cook. (You can freeze them until you need them.) All of the food is already chopped up or (in the case of the meat) premeasured for you; you just have to assemble it. I've heard other people rave about this place, so I wanted to try it for myself, partly to get out of my own "recipe rut" and partly to have some meals stocked up for when the baby comes.

My first session was last night. (You have to sign up in advance so they know what ingredients to have on hand.) One other customer was supposed to be there, but since he never showed, I had the place all to myself. In some ways, that felt strange (and I felt bad for the people running the place), but it was also nice not having to share space with someone else. There were five stations set up to prepare food (each with a recipe and all the ingredients), and some of them were set up for two entrees, so I can see that there could be a wait if the place was too crowded.

The employees were very helpful. One of them explained how the setup worked to me. He would have walked me through a couple of meals if I needed him to, but I've done enough cooking to feel comfortable enough doing it on my own. They assisted me in other ways, however; they brought me melted butter for some dishes that needed it, they gave me apple juice to substitute for wine in the shrimp scampi, and they cut up a panni sandwich so it was more manageable.

The process was pretty simple. I had selected six dishes in advance. They had a list ready for me, so I went up to each station, read the recipe, and collected any utensils I needed from a rack in the back. All of the ingredients were at the station. The meat was already prebagged in the amount that I needed, but the other ingredients, such as veggies and spices, were set out with measuring cups and spoons. Most of the dishes went straight into foil pans for freezing and baking, though there was one dish (a beef brisket) for the crockpot. The meals were easy to assemble; I think the hardest part was trying to roll up a stuffed flank steak. I just tied it in several places instead. When I was done with each dish, there were preprinted labels with cooking directions to put on each pan.

The whole process took about an hour and a half. I made shrimp scampi, a veggie lasgna, a beef brisket, Greek stuffed flank steak, a panni, and pork chops with peaches and stuffing. They had some premade side dishes in the freezer, so I picked up some vegetables and a brunch dish as well. I'm not sure how the cost worked out for the sides, but the main dishes came to about $3/serving.

It was a interesting experience. I wish Eugene could have been there, but they have to limit the number of people there to control space. (Guess that wouldn't have been a problem last night with the no-show.) Assuming we're pleased with the meals, we'll do this again. Eugene is already picking out possible entrees for next month. Maybe next time he'll play chef too.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Child Care Class

Our Internet still isn't set up at home; heck, neither are our computers. Hopefully Eugene can take care of that this weekend. It's frustrating being without the Net at home.

Last night we attended a newborn care class through the hospital. (We're also signed up for childbirth, CPR, and breastfeeding.) They talked about various things such as what the newborn will look like, how to hold the baby, how to give the baby a sponge bath, and so on. We had dolls, so we could practice doing these things too. Eugene has more experience with babies than I do, and it showed. This will definitely be a learning experience for me!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Quick Update

Yes, I'm blogging on my lunch hour.

We finished the move by Sunday evening. The main part of the move took place Saturday, when Eugene and his brother moved the rest of the furniture. We still had piles of smaller stuff to transfer, plus we had to clean the old apartment. But it's done, and I turned in the old set of keys last night.

Now we just have to focus on setting up the new place. There's not much I can do (or the Proud Paternal Pregnancy Police will let me do), so Eugene has to bear that burden. I already have my own. ;)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Movin' Out, Part One

Today we got the keys to our new apartment. Thanks to a co-worker who had a few friends and a truck, we were able to get a fair amount transferred tonight. Talk about a lifesaver! It really helped a lot, especially since one of Eugene's brothers has several exams next week and won't be able to help us after all. Luckily, a friend of mine also offered to help, so hopefully we'll be able to get it all done. It's much appreciated, since I can't do much. I can carry small things and clean, but obviously I can't lift anything. We have until Monday to finish, but we're working that day.

The new apartment has smaller closets than this one, so storage will be a challenge. The kitchen cabinets are deep, but narrow. At least the storage locker is much bigger. Also, we'll have a dishwasher--something I haven't had in an apartment in years. (I would always tell people I had a human dishwasher--Eugene.) But the important thing is that Baby A will get a nursery. That's more important than us having an office now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Dreaded Drink

I try not to say too much about my pregnancy, but today's visit to the doctor was worth blogging about. Today was the day for my gestational diabetes test. It's a simple one: you drink some orange liquid they give you, wait for an hour, then have your blood drawn. I've heard people complain that the liquid is sickly sweet, but I didn't think it was that bad. Eugene sniffed the bottle and thought that just the odor was bad enough. At least I didn't get nauseated, but that's why the doctor's office recommends having something to eat beforehand--as long as it isn't sweet. Hopefully I'll pass the test; if I don't, I have to do a special three-hour fasting version. But in the meantime, everything seems to be going well. The only thing is the baby doesn't want to move for Daddy. I'll call Eugene over when I feel the baby kicking, but of course the kicking stops as soon as Eugene touches me. OK, I admit it; the baby gets its stubbornness from me. ;) It's that Irish-German heritage of mine. Should be interesting to see how the Filipino-Irish-German all comes together.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Harmony Sweepstakes

Sorry I've been MIA the last few days; between work and packing for the move, I've been too tired to do much on the computer. I'm only now catching up with reviews and e-mails and so forth.

Eugene and I did get to go out last night with a friend of ours. We attended the Harmony Sweepstakes, a regional contest for acappella groups. I'm pretty sure I blogged about this last year, but in case you've forgotten, several groups perform for ten minutes in front of a panel of judges and a general audience. The winning group gets to attend the national contest. This year there were several groups, including one from Madison. I'm afraid Eugene and I were disappointed with their performance. Their songs weren't as good as the sound clips on their site, and they were very stiff on stage. We preferred a group called Home Free. They introduced their set as "all the wrong songs to sing in the Harmony Sweepstakes," and it was quite funny. We will never sing "YMCA" the normal way again. But the group that stole the show was Nightwatch, the 2003 Harmony Sweepstakes winners. They had a new act parodying Broadway musicals--and they performed in costume. (A witch, a cat, a masked man in a cloak, and a knight in armor. Hopefully you recognize the shows.) We think Home Free was in first place until Nightwatch came on. They won both the popular and judges' vote.

We spent most of today packing for the move, but since we ran out of boxes, we needed to get out and run some errands, which gave us a chance to enjoy the weather. I hope it's this nice this weekend too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Catching Up with Friends

Today I did something I've been meaning to do for a while: I contacted several of my friends. A few of my friends don't use the Internet or e-mail much, if at all, so I wrote them brief snail-mails with our new address. I also e-mailed someone I've meant to contact for a while to see how she's doing. When you're busy treading life, it can be easy to let people you don't see every day slip away from you. I tell myself every so often I should call my friends, but it can take me a while to follow through. I imagine once the baby comes it'll be even harder. It's still important, though.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Visiting My Parents

It's amazing how quickly time can pass without you noticing it; recently Eugene and I realized we hadn't visited my parents since Christmas Eve. Their anniversary (#48!) is this coming Wednesday, so it was high time for a visit. We therefore drove up to see them and my grandmother today. They wanted to go to Red Lobster for lunch, so we met them at the house and then all went up to Madison together. It's too bad we didn't get farther than East Towne. After lunch (which they didn't let us pay for), we stopped at a Babies-R-Us to show them some of the items we'd picked out. Mom already has a bunch of clothes already for Baby A. At least I won't have to do laundry so often. We hung around to have dinner with them as well and talked for a while before heading back. We got in about an hour ago. It's too late to pack tonight, but maybe I can catch up on my e-mail and work on my outline.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Packing Update and Cold Cards

Tonight we finished packing my paperback collection. It took about a dozen boxes. This does not include my hardcover fiction or nonfiction, let alone Eugene's collection of cookbooks, history books, or photography books. No wonder he said we should start our own library!

Cold Cards: Today during lunch one of my coworkers discovered someone had left a couple of business cards in the freezer. He also left them there because he thought it had been done for some reason. Later on, while I was making my mid-afternoon snack of half a bagel with cream cheese, I put the cards on the lunch table because it made no sense to me that they stay in the freezer. I'm sure this says something about our characters, but exactly what I'm not sure. I guess I need to blog before 10:00 at night.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Turning It On Again

My first concert was Genesis back in 1992, at Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. It was the summer after graduation, and I was working up in Madison and spending time with friends. We went as a group to the concert. Later on, I bought the live CDs to relive that time. So, fifteen years later, as the group reunites, Eugene and I knew we wanted to go see them again if possible. We missed the presale, but I updated my account information on Ticketmaster and hoped I'd be able to log on when tickets went on sale.

For some reason Ticketmaster didn't update my e-mail address, so it took me several tries to log in this morning. By the time I succeeded, there weren't any tickets left, even though it was still just a couple of minutes after 10:00. Still, I kept trying (and mistyping the verification code), hoping something would change. Something finally did, but it wasn't what I expected; they added another date. I immediately checked for tickets. Something else I never thought would happen did: Ticketmaster offered me tickets on the main floor. Despite the high price, I was tempted for a moment. If the seats had been closer--within the first ten rows or so--I might have taken them. But I figured I might not be able to see from twenty-one rows back, and I couldn't justify the price. So I let them go and found another pair on the lower level. They were still top price, so I searched on price and found a more affordable pair, still on lower level. This time I bought them.

The concert is in October, which will be about three-four months after the baby is born. Hopefully Eugene's parents will be able to babysit. (It's a bit strange having to worry about that.) If it doesn't work out, hopefully we'll have a chance to sell the tickets and get our money back. But it would be even better to go, as I'm sure we won't be doing any more concerts for a while after this one.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Accomplished

You know you're getting old when Saturday becomes a Chore Day, and it doesn't help when you can't even sleep in. I was up at my normal time during the week, so I just stayed up. But I did get a lot done today. First, I brought the car in to have the emissions checked (it's an Illinois thing). The last time I had to have this done was about five years ago in the summer; I had to wait for half an hour or forty minutes. This time, there were more attendants than cars, and I was done in less than ten minutes. (The car passed, which was no surprise, since it's not really that old and still has fairly low milage.) Then I picked up a few things at Target, bought groceries, and filled up the tank. After lunch, I ran a few more errands. By that point, I needed a break, so I finished a chapter review. I reviewed Sue's latest chapter and worked on a novel outline while we were at the bookstore tonight. And of course I bought several more books to add to the Towers of Unread Books. At this rate, I'll never read them all, as I can buy them much faster than I can read them! Now if I can only sneak a Book Day back into my life....

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Running Willy-Nilly

I've meant to blog in the last few days, really I have, but sometimes I'm too tired at the end of the night or too busy trying to work on outlines for my stories. But sometimes you just have to post.

For reasons I'd rather not discuss online, we've put off buying a house. Unfortunately, this means that we're still living in a small apartment. But last night, as I was discussing our lease with the landlord, I found out that there's a larger apartment available at a lower price. It's still a two-bedroom, but they're roomier than what we have now. (And the kitchen is bigger too!) That apartment would be available April 1st. After discussion, Eugene and I decided to make the switch. That means we have three weeks to pack and move. I can pack some things, but obviously I can't lift anything. Good thing Eugene's brothers are available to help us. Add to that the fact that we're starting childbirth/childcare classes next month, and it's no wonder that we're outracing headless chickens. I just hope this move doesn't turn out to be an April Fool's Day for us.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Visiting the In-Laws

Eugene and I visited his family today. We haven't seen them since January, and he wanted to show off my growing baby belly to them. We also brought over some things to put into storage. Space is already at a premium in our apartment, and with a third occupant coming, it's going to get crowded in here very quickly.

On the way, we stopped at a nearby baby store to check out a mattress for the crib. (The crib shipped to work last week, but Eugene still needs to pick it up.) We also looked at bedding; we're not quite sure what pattern we're going to get, but we'll probably buy it there instead of online. Now if we could only make up our minds about which stroller to get, we'd be doing well.

Sure enough, Eugene's parents oohed and aahed over their future grandchild. They didn't even notice my haircut until later, when we were having a late lunch at a Chinese restaurant. We hung out with his brother for a while and discussed a couple of other things with his parents before returning home.

Friday, March 02, 2007

No News Is Good News

Remember a while back I posted a blog entry about how some attention-seeking people ought to be shunned as punishment? Turns out out least some media sources are trying the idea. AP ignored Paris Hilton (a name I never thought I would use here) for a week to see what would happen. You can read about it here.

I'm a little disappointed it was a non-event in some ways, as she didn't do much that was newsworthy during the blackout. It would have been interesting to see if the ban would have had more impact. Again, I'm not sure if something like this would ever work, as it goes against human nature. But isn't human nature something we're supposed to rise above?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Link

"Topical Heat," Maria Zannini's writing blog, has now moved to Blogger under a new name, "Maria Zannini." Check it out!

(Ironic, isn't it, that I'm now using LJ for my writing blog? Someday I have to figure out how to add links to that template.)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Quotes of the Day

Some andecotes to amuse you...

I drink peppermint tea every day during lunch at work. (I used to switch teas, but I'm not sure which ones are safe during pregnancy, so I stick to peppermint. It was recommended by americanpregnancy.org, so I figure it should be OK. So far, Baby A seems to like it.) The particular brand that I like best prints quotes on the paper tag of each tea bag. Today I saw a quote I hadn't seen before: "A great man is always willing to be little," by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I wondered right away how I as a short woman should take this. If I'm involuntarily little, does that make me great? (Ha! I wish.)

On the way home from work, I saw a car with this bumper sticker: "Christopher Columbus didn't need directions...and neither do I!" Silly driver, I thought, don't you know Columbus was trying to reach the West Indies? I hope that's not where the driver wanted to go, as he/she will probably be as successful as Columbus.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Snowy Day

Today, the farthest I ventured was to the exercise room at the center of our apartment complex. With both snow and rain, I didn't want to go anywhere. Eugene did run a few errands, but we decided not to visit his parents as we'd planned. Perhaps next week. In the meantime, I baked a dozen rolls and CROWW (Cinnamon Raisin Oat Walnut Whole wheat bread), posted two crits on the workshop when it came back online, and finished going over the third draft of Lennon's Line. Oh, and I also ordered the crib and some more maternity clothes. So it was a productive day, but I'm still not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. Guess I need more luck the next time we go to Vegas. (grin)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Life List

Since I visited two states for the first time on this trip, I thought it would be a good time to update my state life list. I'm told I visited Arkansas when I was a toddler, but I don't remember it. I counted it anyway.



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Vegas Vacation, Part Two

OK, where did I leave off? I don't think I finished Day Three. Eugene and I had dinner at a nice restaurant in our hotel. Then we walked around the Strip for a bit. We wound up at the Belliago again so Eugene could view the Ansel Adams exhibit for himself. I wandered around and played video games while I was waiting for him. We finished the night by playing The Simpsons and eating sorbet.

Day Four

Wouldn't you know I'd wake up feeling sick again? I've heard of some women having morning sickness throughout their pregnancies, but I'm still inclined to think it was too much food. It wasn't as bad as before, but I skipped breakfast with Eugene and spent the morning resting. By afternoon, however, I was feeling better and decided to go around a bit. The weather was gorgeous, so I'm glad I was able to get out. I took the monorail to the Mirage to see their dolphin/big cat exhibit created by Siegfried and Roy. The trainers there interact with the dolphins, but they don't put on a scheduled show the way zoos or aquariums do. I watched them for a bit, both above and below water, before checking out the other animals. They were quite active for the middle of the day; in particular, there were two beautiful white lions, both male, that scratched trees and played with each other. I'm not the photographer Eugene is (and my camera has significant shutter lag), but I still got some shots I was happy with. There were also white tigers, black panthers, and leopards. I picked up some stuffed animals and gradually made my way back to our hotel to meet up with Eugene.

We took the monorail over to the Hilton (I think it was the Hilton) for dinner and the Star Trek exhibit. By the time we found a place to eat, it was a bit late, but we were still able to see the exhibit. Mostly it was a timeline of Star Trek's future history and artifacts from the show. There were also exhibits devoted to the aliens. The experience ended with a simulated shuttle ride; the premise was that the Klingons had kidnapped us from the 21st century in an effort to seize one of Picard's ancestors, and the Next Generation crew had to return us to our time. They had some neat effects; the ride started with us lined up in front of some doors, then the lights went out. When they came back on, the doors were gone. Unfortunately, due to my pregnancy, I had to skip the actual shuttle ride, since the motion was too violent. That just meant I went down to the gift shop right away. I picked up something for the baby and an autographed of Nimoy; Eugene bought a tribble to add to our stuffed animal collection. We then went to Quark's for chocolate fondue. An Andorian was wandering around, but he left before we could take a picture of him. Eugene still found ways to take pictures of Oscar with aliens.

Day Five

Today was the highlight of our trip: a visit to the Grand Canyon. Eugene skipped the last day of lectures for this. We set this up through a tour group that picked us up from our hotel. (Unfortunately, Eugene forgot his jacket on the bench; we weren't able to recover it later.) We met up with others at another hotel before boarding a bus to take us to an airport outside of Vegas. From there, we flew in a puddlejumper to the Grand Canyon. En route, we passed over the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. In setting up this excursion, I'd tried to take my condition into account and find a trip that wouldn't strain me too much. One thing I hadn't thought of, however, was that small planes are more subject to bumpiness than bigger ones. The flight was a bit rough; I was holding onto the seat with one hand and my belly with the other. Baby A didn't seem to have any problems, however.

When we finally landed at another small airport, we picked up lunchboxes and boarded another bus. It took us to a spot on the South Rim. We had about 45 minutes to walk around, take pictures, and visit the gift shop. It was colder than I expected; there was still snow on the ground. I felt bad for Eugene, but he wouldn't have fit into my windbreakers. The views were amazing, however. After we were done at that spot, the bus took us to a second stop at Bright Angel Lodge. We took a few more pictures and bought more things at the gift shop. Eugene replaced his jacket; I bought some Native American crafts. By this time, the sun was setting, and we had to go back. We did see an elk, but I wasn't able to get a good photo from the moving bus. The flight back was much smoother.

We arrived back at our hotel after 8:00. We didn't finish with dinner until about 9:20, so afterward we hoofed it over to a restaurant we'd noticed earlier in another hotel. This restaurant, the Chocolate Swan, has been featured on the Food Network, so of course we were determined to sample its wares before leaving Vegas. The treats were well worth it!

This was our last night in Vegas, so after our chocolate, it was time to pack. I'm amazed we got all of our stuffed animals into our suitcases!

Day Six

We had a mid-afternoon flight back to Chicago, but we got to the airport well ahead of schedule. Given how busy security was, that was probably a good idea. I did get my first pregnancy comment from a stranger, so I'm definitely showing. (At least no unwelcome belly rubs were involved.) Other than that, the flight was uneventful. We arrived in Chicago before the storm, luckily. It's not the best welcome back, but at least we weren't stranded anywhere.

We're poorer in cash but richer in memories. I doubt we'll be taking any more vacations like this for a while, so it's good we were able to take one now.

I have too many pictures to post on the blog, so you can view some of them here.

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