Monday, February 21, 2011

Christmas in February

This Monday morning was like Christmas morning for a simple reason: freshly baked cheesecake needs to be refrigerated overnight. The weather turned windy and cold, so I resorted to baking my most favorite dessert as a means of entertainment. Note that cheesecake in general is not my favorite, it's this particular cheesecake which has an extra layer of vanilla topping.)

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Another Christmas present was finding mini cans of Dr. Pepper at the nearby grocery store. We've been holding out for these forever! When we lived in Maastricht, only one of the 3 Albert Heijn stores in our neighborhood carried Dr. Pepper. By the time we moved to New York, all 3 did. Now, we don't drink that much Dr. Pepper, we only buy a few cans a week (or zero cans a week if the store doesn't carry the right size!). But I have a strong suspicion that selling a few extra cans probably tripled Albert Heijn's Dr. Pepper sales, which led them to offer it in the 2 additional stores. I like to imagine that when we left, we left a Dutch grocery manager in a state of utter confusion about what was happening to his Dr. Pepper sales.

On Thursday and Friday, I retired my puffy coat and happily wandered around the city in only a cardigan. On Saturday and Sunday, I unretired my puffy coat and we finally went in search of maternity clothes. Until now, I've been mostly getting by with a belly band and my normal shirts, but now I'm undeniably pregnant! Today, we wake up to snow! Puffy coat it is. Even bundled in winter gear, Zoltar has been recognized by 3 people so far, who offered the pregnant lady (me!) a seat on the subway. What's funny is that my winter coat is actually a child's XL, because the length was better on me and it was $100 cheaper than the women's XS version. Who knew that a kid's coat could fit a 6 month baby bump inside?

Luckily we decided to take a few pictures of Zoltar in Central Park before the snow hit today. (Now at 26 weeks or 6 months or -3 months old!) The park is still pretty dreary and gray, but there are only so many apartment poses that a fetus can make.



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This weekend we went to see the Oscar nominees for live action short films. It was so much more fun to bypass all of the big movies and see the categories and people whose accomplishments are usually highlighted with a small footnote. I thought that seeing these short films was an only in New York thing, but I was wrong! You can even see these bad boys in Duluth! So if you live in Duluth, we strongly recommend a trip to the movies!

And now, Nick, Zoltar and I have some cheesecake to eat.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Womb-book

Babies! Zoltar has a new cousin, his first and only, named Zoey Jane. We talked to my belly and shared the news, and I said in my Zoltar voice (which is uncannily similar to my mouse/ant voice) "I already KNOW, I saw it on womb-book."

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Zoey Jane and her proud parents

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And as for Zoltar, here we are together at 24 weeks!

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He is kicking more and more often. I've felt him for almost six weeks, and within the last couple of weeks, Nick has been able to feel him and even see my stomach move when Zoltar kicks. El bebe has also getting more and more demanding in his cravings. For the first few months my sweet tooth all but disappeared, and the only strange craving (which still persists!) was for extra scoops of Chipotle's mild salsa. See if you can tell what his highness wants lately...

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Breakfast foods: dairy, sugar, and fruit! The kid already has good taste- heavenly vanilla brioche French toast with syrup, berries, and marscapone cheese, which is a brilliant addition to balance out the sweetness. On Sunday, my lunch was a glass of chocolate milk, a milkshake, and a latte. Say what? As I type this, I'm waiting for my chocolate strawberry shortcakes to finish baking, and you can bet your ass there's dairy involved (sour cream topping!) I know this isn't just me looking for an excuse to eat; milkshakes aren't my style. Surprisingly, I don't eat as much as I thought I would as a preggo, because the baby is quickly taking over the stomach real estate that's normally reserved for extra food! Being pregnant with Zoltar is my firsthand experience with gentrification in NYC. When the ultrasound reveals he's opened up a miniature Starbucks in my womb, we'll know he's ready for a change of neighborhood.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pictures strictly forbidden

What better way to show off some recent New York adventures than with some prohibited photography? First off is the SNL studio at 30 Rock. We scored tickets about a month ago to see Gwyneth Paltrow, who is tall, pale, and slouchy in person. Pictures strictly forbidden! Unlike some places that don't bother to enforce their rules, the SNL pages were watching the audience like hawks. For the first time in a long time, people put their damn phones away. We had our chance to swipe a photo when a girl behind us went to the bathroom, which is apparently a big deal, so the page left to go with her.

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Next up is the Earth Room, which is a free art exhibit that's been around since 1977. It's a room completely filled with 2 feet of dirt. Really?! Really. Like a big flower pot, but without flowers, in a room in the middle of Soho. And now it's art. There are so many wonderful places that come and go in this city (RIP beloved Neuhaus chocolate on the UWS), but somehow a freeloading pile of dirt has managed to find shelter in Soho for more than 30 years. Go figure!

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For those of you who wonder how the city reacts to the blizzard, here is a hint. The sanitation department waits until the snow melts to pick up the garbage! Thankfully, it doesn't smell. The last time it snowed, we even walked past Christmas trees barely peeking out from their snowy graves. (You can see how tall it is compared to the awning behind it!)

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This photo wasn't strictly forbidden, but it's rude to take photos of strangers isn't it? And she probably doesn't have a permit to sell fur coats on the street, so let's keep it on the down low.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bacon Makes Everything Better

I've had a monster cold/cough for 3 weeks running, and am banned from taking any good medicine. I miss NyQuil, I used to look forward to being sick just because NyQuil sleep is so damn enjoyable! So what is a sick NYC preggo to do with a dreary day off of work? I slept in late, went to get my hair done and sought out the best pancakes in New York City. Blueberry pancakes with maple butter (!), bacon, and hot chocolate!

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Zoltar seems happy with my diet of fruit, veggies, sugar, and pork fat, that's what counts. I just bought Zoltar the cutest onesies ever, I will keep them in hiding until he's here to show them off! His drawers are almost full... of clothes, a memory box, stuffed toys, baby medicines. At 5 months, it seems like I've been pregnant for a really long time, but there is still so much more to go!

New York-tivities

Finally starting to show around 21 weeks!
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Over the long weekend, we bumbled about the city, trying to take in and do the things that we won't have time for when Zoltar arrives. Started out on Saturday with SNL! Lucky Nick won us tickets. Not too shabby. The rest of the long weekend we spent shopping, museum hopping, eating our favorite pizza and trying Persian food for the first time.
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I saw this adorable Metrocard rattle online and added it to our registry, but as luck would have it, we just happened to walk by the store that designs/makes it. It was fate! We try to teach Batman that the rattles aren't his. I rattle it by my stomach and say "Zoltar's" and then squeak one of his toys and say "Batman's" and let him bite it. Meh, I dunno if he gets it.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's a.....

BOY!!!!


Ted Brogan

Nick | Myspace Video

http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/59514868

Today we found out we're having a boy! He was bent in half, so there were some 3D pictures of his little feet kicking in front of his face (which do not photograph well.) This one is cute, he looks like a little anarchist giving a passionate speech.

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After the ultrasound we went out for lobster rolls and blackout cupcakes in Mr. Zoltar's honor. Then we came home and decided to practice with some of our new baby things- we swaddled a teddy bear and Nick proudly mastered the Baby Ktan.

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Is this heaven?

We left New York with no snow on the ground and returned to no snow on the ground. Hellz yea, we are lucky! Minnesota, on the other hand, seems to be getting colder and colder since we moved away. When we got to Iowa and got out into the 50 degree weather, I literally recited Iowa's marketing slogan, "Is this heaven?" Believe me, that was a first.

We spent a lot of time running around to see all branches of our families. I wasn't really showing much, but here is Zoltar with his girl cousin, who will be born January 21!

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Nick's mom also hosted a baby shower with Nick's family and some Des Moines friends. Everybody brought a book for Zoltar's library, so it was a lot of fun opening books, flight friendly gifts and pictures of the non flight friendly gifts!

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I kept everything in the gift bags until the very last minute since they were all so cute. I even packed a few of the bags in my suitcase so I could hang on to them for a little longer, until.... we got home and built Zoltar's dresser. It was sort of strange to be building something for a person who doesn't exist yet. We got a lot of baby things, but they are all so teeny that they only take up three drawers. We both thought putting together the dresser was a fun project; I think we're ready for parenthood if we're satisfied with spending a Friday night building a dresser!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Zoltar

Hey everyone, it's time to introduce you to our newest family member to be.

This is Zoltar at 12 wks, or 3 months, or -6 months, depending on your persuasion:
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Even I can admit that ultrasound pictures all look pretty much alike, so the camera phone versions will do for now.

So, that's our big news: I'm 18 weeks pregnant! The picture is about a month and a half old; it was taken right before I ran the half marathon in California. As you might imagine, running a half marathon is not particularly encouraged among pregnant women, and training is no fun during the exhausting first trimester, but I am really glad that Zoltar came with me on the run. When I was running, I imagined he/she was running around inside me like a hamster on a wheel. And when I got out of breath, I would imagine he/she flipped off the wheel and tumbled around like a lone sock in the dryer. Getting too out of breath is bad when you're somebody's sole source of oxygen, so this helped me remind myself to slow down until Zoltar turned from a sock to a hamster.

The first three months were pretty tough, my life was mostly limited to eating, running, peeing and sleeping like a baby (I woke up every 3 hours, whimpering and peeing.) Consequently, Nick's first three months involved a lot of kind and patient listening to my whines and scooping the cat litter. I'm certainly not adjusted to the idea that in about 13.5 years, we'll be the parents of a 13 year old, BUT! we're getting used to the idea that we'll soon have an infant to reckon with. The fact that infants turn into toddlers and toddlers turn into children, etc. etc. will be absorbed at a later date, but that's fine, since parenting is a learn as you go endeavor.

In just a few short weeks, we'll have another ultrasound and get to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl! I have absolutely no idea, hunch, intuition, or guess about what it is. Although we have already settled on a girl and a boy name, we're keeping the name a secret. Hence, during fetushood, the baby's nickname is Zoltar, this way we don't accidentally let the real name slip once we know the gender! We look forward to sharing that news with everybody soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Celebrations

"The pioneers, the immigrants who people the continent, were the restless men in Europe. The steady rooted ones stayed home and are still there."- John Steinbeck

The restless woman and accommodating man that we are, we traveled to Boston for a little Thanksgiving vacation. To be more precise, we actually spent Thanksgiving day in Plymouth, the birthplace of the holiday and the welcoming post for the aforementioned pioneers.
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Here is the infamous rock!

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I knew from the moment we saw this rock on wikipedia and laughed at its unassuming stature that we would not be impressed. And we weren't.... because it's just a moderately sized rock behind a fence! But hey, it's a kitschy thing to be in Plymouth on Thanksgiving day (much like Times Square on New Year's Eve) and we haven't shown much aversion to kitsch. Hey, look, a fake pilgrim!

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We were thankful for many things on Thanksgiving. Tops was successfully leaving Plymouth. With no taxi service, we basically had to beg strangers for a ride to catch the last bus to Boston. Thankfully a non murderer obliged us. (Side note: they were visiting from New York, who says New Yorkers can't be nice?)

It was our first time visiting Boston; we spent a lot of time wandering around different neighborhoods, which was fun and easy, since the city seems so compact compared to New York! We also did an early morning running tour along the Freedom Trail, which was a fun and efficient way to see everything.

Massachusetts Statehouse

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Boston from the JFK library

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Boston Harbor

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Last and kind of least, we walked around Cambridge. The Harvard campus somehow didn't meet any of the expectations I had for its beauty, with the exception of this church.

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Julia Child's former house! It's been remodeled and was last sold for $3.7 million.

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The rest of our celebrations took place in New York. First was the day I ate a creme brulee donut which was a celebration because it was the first day I ate a creme brulee donut. Holy shit. The top is carmelized and slightly burny and phenomenal. Whenever I start to daydream about living in a city with cheap rent, I find things like this to daydream about instead.

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And, finally, my birthday! Nick and I took the day off work to celebrate my birthday weekend. Starting with lunch at Jean Georges (3 Michelin stars if anyone is counting!) and it was fantastic. My favorite was the parmesan and mushroom risotto.

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I also took my first ride on the S train, which is one of the random subway lines that nobody ever talks about. It was really cool inside, I couldn't help but look like a tourist and snap a few photos.

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We also wandered around Grand Central Station, found the whispering hallway (you can whisper into the corner and people can hear you across the hallway), and the dirty rock that shows how the ceiling looked before the restoration.

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Next we went to tour the UN, and I stopped in Nigeria along the way.

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Cool doors to Kuwait's UN Mission

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El globe

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Gifts to the UN

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UN general assembly, where the shit goes down

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The rest of my birthday weekend was filled with more eating, with a friend who had her birthday on December 1, shopping, naps. Just the way it should be..... I'm almost 30, I only have energy for the essentials!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Big Sur Half Marathon

Even the best vacations include all the indignities of travel. My trip started with a 4am cab, and it went downhill from there; Cinnabon at LAX was the only bright spot until I reached my final destination of Monterey Bay, California and met up with my Iowa running compadre, Nicole. Our first order of business was to drive along the famous 17 mile stretch that runs from Monterey to Pebble Beach, passing by the ocean and through the country's best courses and biggest mansions.

Sand trap at Spyglass golf course

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California's famous Lone Cypress (which is also the Pebble Beach golf course logo)

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And of course, we had to fit a half marathon in there. We both finished, alive and well. My finish time was slightly faster than predicted by my marathon time. I was pretty happy about that, since my age rounds up to 30, and when I ran the marathon, it rounded down to 20.

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Nicole and me with our medals

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After the race, we drove to Big Sur and had a fancy lunch overlooking the ocean. The full marathon (which takes place in May) goes from Big Sur to Carmel, with the halfway point at Bixby Bridge. We were happy with our decision to run the half and drive the full.

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The next day we finished off our trip visiting the Monterey Aquarium.
Jellyfish

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Serious penguin

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We had a great time running around John Steinbeck's old home, next time I'll be bringing Nick with me to appreciate Pebble Beach.