Friday, December 29, 2006

First Walk, Then Board

Another Christmas tradition in our family is skiing/snowboarding. Obviously, skiing is something you can do throughout the winter, but these days it seems that we only go at Christmastime. With work and other responsibilities, it's hard to find time to go, but you can usually squeeze in a trip to the hill during your Christmas vacations. Unfortunately, this is the case for a lot of people, and we all end up on the slopes at the same time. As a result, Christmas is the worst time to go out.

Yesterday, I went up to Solitude Mountain Resort with my brother and his two oldest kids. Solitude claims to have the smallest crowds, but the workers said it was still one of the busiest days they've seen so far. My brother, his daughter and his son have all been learning to snowboard this year. His daughter (A-L) has learned quite quickly and has become more skilled than her younger brother (A-S). Instead of waiting around for A-S to work his way down the hill, A-L and I went off and skied the whole afternoon together. Here's a picture on the chairlift:

A-L is only 10 years old (almost 11). I remember the Christmas 10 years ago when we saw her take her first steps. I spent much of that vacation walking her around my grandma's house, with her little hands clinging to my fingers. It's amazing to think that little baby has already grown old enough to be out snowboarding and to actually be pretty good at it. She had some big wipeouts, but she was lots of fun.

Maybe 10 years from now I'll be on the chairlift and fighting the Christmas crowds with my own kid(s). Hopefully, my joints will still work, since I'll be nearly 40.

By then I'll probably enjoy the break I'll get from waiting in line.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bowling Balls, Etc

Here are a few pictures from the last day or two. This first one is of me throwing a bowling ball with my brother's family in the student center at Idaho State University (in Pocatello) yesterday. If you look closely, you can see that my nephew and I are matching in our camoflage shirts.

The next one is a shot of R and the bowling ball she's hiding under her sweater. It's amazing how quickly her tummy has grown in the last few weeks. We look at that and we wonder how it can get much bigger, but we know that there are still 4 months to go. Wow.

This last one is the Hulk Hogan & Friends mural that was painted on the wall of one of the bedrooms in the house in Pocatello that my brother bought earlier in the year. I had to snap a photo of this sweet piece of art before they decide to paint over it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Smart Aleck Brother

We were riding in the car with my younger brother T tonight. R said, "Oh, I just felt a little kick."

I was quite excited. I told T, "I've still never felt the kick. I want to feel the kick."

T said, "I'll kick you, if you want."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day - Retroactive

I neglected to make a posting for week 21, since it fell on Christmas Day. It doesn't seem right to leave a gaping hole at week 21, so this posting has been made 5 days later to provide continuity.

According to this week's BabyCenter, the baby is slightly heavier than last week and a little bit longer. We're up half an inch to 10.5 inches, and up to 12 ounces from 10.5 last week. Being a child of the Metric System, I don't know much about ounces. Apparently, 12 ounces is 3/4 of a pound. I know about pounds...and inches. Despite the metrification of the masses, inches and pounds have persisted as the common measures of height and weight. Of course, official documents (like a driver's license) show centimeters and kilograms, which doesn't mean much to people.

BabiesOnline tries to reach out to the Metric Vote by providing the baby's length in both: 27-30 cm or 10-10.5 inches. But anyone who had one of those plastic yellow rulers in school knows that 30 cm is more like 12 inches than 10.5 inches. It is strange that they would bother to provide Metric and Imperial measurements on BabiesOnline without checking to see if they actually matched up properly. I guess Metric babies grow faster than Imperial babies.

Now we're all wondering what fruit is 10.5 inches long. Well, we just measured a jug of eggnog and it was exactly 10.5 inches long (26.67 cm). This seems like an appropriate comparison, given that it was Christmas Day.

I tried eggnog with a bit of Sprite mixed in and I thought it was fantastic. Give it a try.

We named the drink "Monkey Fizz".

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Dinosaur

Season's Greetings from the Christmas Dinosaur!

Yesterday we went to the museum of natural history with my brother and his family. While we were there, we saw the Christmas Dinosaur. Some people don't believe in the Christmas Dinosaur, despite the fact that I have photographic evidence. Some people say that the photos are actually pictures of me wearing a triceratops head. These people will never see their special wishes come true.

I wished that R would be able to get over her sinus cold, so that she would feel better.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sick At Christmas

We have a Christmas tradition in our little family. For several years now, R has gotten sick at Christmas. Sometimes, I get sick too, but the most reliable part of the tradition is that R gets sick.

We figure that December is one of the busiest and most stressful parts of the year for her. There is so much going on, and it begins to get stacked up several layers deep until we finally fly away somewhere for the holidays. She works like mad to get everything done, and then she just disintegrates for the actual holiday.

It's a combination of things: a student recital, buying & shipping gifts, church assignments, other loose ends, lack of sleep, colder weather, recirculated airplane air, cabin pressure, and probably many more.

This year is not much different. R felt a bit of a scratchy throat coming on two days before we were supposed to leave. So far, it hasn't really hit her, and we're hoping that it will narrowly miss, so that we can go see our little baby nephew, who has a sensitive lung because his other organs were in the way when it was supposed to be developing. We're still hopeful. Unfortunately, because R is pregnant, she can't take her favourite booster supplement that helps ward off colds.

Despite this slight nuisance, we are getting really excited about Christmas. We haven't done much decorating at our house the last few years, since we're usually not around for the holiday. Being at my brother's place has really helped to light a fire under our yule log, figuratively speaking.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a healthy holiday season. Hopefully, our little Christmas tradition will not spread to your family.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lucky Travellers

Back in October, we booked plane tickets to visit family for Christmas. We used flyer miles to book our flights at a leisurely departure time (11:30am) and congratulated ourselves on constructing such perfect plans.

Then we got a notice from the airline that our flight, which was supposed to go Ottawa-Chicago-SLC was changed to Ottawa-Chicago-Denver-SLC, but without really changing the times. I wasn't too thrilled about the idea, because I figured we'd have trouble getting out of Chicago on time and could miss our flight out of Denver. I called up the airline and they let me change to an earlier Ottawa-Chicago-SLC schedule, but we had to leave Ottawa at 6:55am. I wasn't too excited about it, but I changed it. You may remember last week's post about being on the phone with the booking agent when the phone was going wonky.

It's a good thing I changed it. Here's the notice that was on the United Airlines website last night when we looked at the travel forecast:
Denver snowstorm travel advisory

Due to the significant winter storm, Denver International Airport will be closed until noon, Friday, December 22. As a result, United is canceling all flights into and out of Denver until that time. Please continue to follow the suggestions below regarding rebooking on another flight. We continue to work to accommodate our customers and get them to their destinations safely and as soon as possible.

A winter storm in Colorado is causing flights to be delayed or canceled. In order to make your travel as smooth as possible, United is offering a ticket waiver from December 20-27 for those impacted by the storm.
As it turns out, every flight in or out of the Denver Airport today was cancelled or severely delayed. They say there is a huge backlog of people trying to get in/out for Christmas.

Man am I glad I called the airline.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

First Baby Video

As promised, here is the video from our Week-18 ultrasound. It's pretty fuzzy, especially after I uploaded it to Google. Oh well.

It's a boy!

BabyCenter Was Here

I check the logs for this blog on a regular basis. I find it exciting to see that people are visiting the site and it helps motivate me to keep writing.

Typically, you learn the following about a visitor from the logs:
  • IP address (and sometimes the company name)

  • Location of IP registration

  • Page(s) visited

  • Linked from
This is not a lot of detail about visitors, but sometimes it is enough for me to figure out who they are. For example, my parents live in Parker, Colorado (near Denver). When I see someone hit the site from Parker, I figure it's probably my mom. In places like Ottawa, or Calgary, it's nearly impossible to figure out -- unless the company name is included with the IP. I have a friend who works for Petro Canada, so I can tell when he hits the blog from work.

A few weeks ago, I saw an interesting visitor pop up from California. The company name said "BabyCenter". I couldn't believe it! Someone at had deigned to visit my little blog. What was more exciting, they came back and visited again the next day. I imagined a crowd of office workers gathered around a single monitor, reading the blog out loud to each other in total bliss.

I wondered, what had I written that had prompted this celebrity house call? Looking at the postings for those two days, I think I figured it out:

I had suggested that was a pawn of the corrupt avocado lobby (aka Big Guac). Whoops.

I haven't seen them back since.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bubbles and Kicks

Another successful visit to the kindly ultrasound people. Another baby photo, as well. This one isn't as clear as the last one, which is kind of disappointing. On the other hand, it is a neat demonstration of baby flexibility. If you look closely, you can see the the baby's foot is right in front of his forehead:

I certainly can't do that anymore.

The doctor came in afterwards and informed us that everything looked wonderful. The bones are the anticipated length and the spine and brain look healthy and intact. We got a few close-up looks at the heart, which was fascinating. The technician also corroborated earlier reports that the child is indeed a boy.

According to their measurements, our yet-unnamed son is slightly larger than average, corresponding closer to 21.5 weeks than 20.5. Perhaps he's got his father's enormous head, and that is skewing their calculations. The heart rate was 155, which is healthy. They also noted that he was very active during the scan. This is the reverse of our previous visit, when the child remained somber and contemplative, holding long poses for the camera.

I was amazed at how high the baby is sitting. In previous scans, they were looking just below R's beltline. This time, they were just below her solarplexus. It might have something to do with the extraordinary volumes of water R consumed beforehand, in her earnest desire to comply with all instructions. They did one one more scan with an empty bladder, to check on the location of the placenta. It is still apprears to be anchored quite low, so they will watch it closely as things expand.

"Expansion" is definitely the right term. This tummy is getting bigger every day, and it is very, very cute. Recently, the baby's kicks have gotten substantial enough for R to notice. What felt like little bubbles of air moving and popping turned out to be little feet moving around. The baby's forehead was probably itchy.

Unfortunately, the kicks are still small enough that I can't feel them, but I could listen to the heartbeat -- if I had a stethoscope. Apparently, after week 20 the heart is audible with a stethoscope. I don't have one, so I'll try the time-honoured eavesdropping technique of placing a water glass between my ear and R's stomach.

That's not so strange, you know. According to wikipedia, "Before the stethoscope was invented, doctors placed their ear next to the patient's body in hopes of hearing something."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ultrasound - Round 3

Tomorrow is ultrasound number three. This time, they are going to take a close look at the baby's neck and head. This is the alternative to having an amniocentesis, which we nixed previously.

Originally, we were excited about the ultrasound as a shameless opporunity to peek at the baby again. However, the other day I was speaking to a friend of ours (JS) who will soon give birth to her 5th child (or is it her 6th?) and she said that they haven't had an ultrasound for any of their children since the first one. She wonders if they're dangerous for the baby's health. I wonder if it's getting too hard on the pocketbook. The pictures are 5 bucks and the DVDs are $25. I really shouldn't get another one, but I'm tempted.

We told the other people in our prenatal class about the DVD, and they were pretty impressed.

Another thing JS told us about was her inability to get out of bed. Apparently, her stomach is large enough that she can't use her abs to sit up. Instead, her husband helps to roll her out of bed. That's wicked.


R's tummy is getting dramatically larger, but we won't start rolling her around the house anytime soon. I snapped a picture back on December 7 when she was curling her hair because I thought she looked cute in her maternity sweater. I'll take some more pictures soon so you can see the change:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hump Day

We have officially hit the half-way point. This is cause for celebration and trepidation. As R said last night, it's scary because now we start counting DOWN. And we all know what comes at the end of the countdown -- labour.

According to this week, the baby is supposed to be about 10.5 ounces and about 6.5 inches "from crown to rump." For the first time, they also provide a "head to foot" measurement, estimating a whopping 10 inches. The baby has already reached half of his birth length. No wonder that belly is getting larger.

No fruit this week. Babycenter left us high and dry. Luckily, I've learned a little bit about produce comparisons over the last 20 weeks. In my opinion, the baby is now about the size of a large, cultivated eggplant. This distinction is important, because cultivated eggplants (also called aubergines) grow larger than regular ones. They can be 12-25 cm long, which is about 10 inches. If you imagine the baby curling his feet under a bit, then you probably get the shape and size of an aubergine.

Have you ever tried Spam & Aubergine Casserole? Neither.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

How Not To Be Seen

R has two recitals each year for her singing students, one in December, the other in June. The Christmas recital was yesterday (Saturday). It is usually a stressful time for her, because she has to accompany the students in singing nearly 25 songs.

R had not told any of her students about being pregnant because she didn't want to lose valuable preparation time in their lessons talking about pregnancy. In fact, she hid it from them all the way until the end of the recital, when she finally made an announcement. She carried a binder around with her the entire time before the recital started, as a way to hide her bulging tummy. Nobody noticed. R picked up this handy trick from one of the piano teachers she works with. This lady managed to do a recital at 7 months pregnant without anyone noticing.

Eventually, people will notice. But if you don't say anything, they might feel awkward asking, in case they are mistaken.

We recently watched the Hugh Grant / Sandra Bullock movie Two Weeks Notice, which has just such an awkward situation. Hugh Grant interiews a prospective secretary and asks her a question about "the baby." The woman (who is obviously overweight) looks at him and says, "What baby?" Leaving him to "Hugh-Grant" his way out of the situation in his trademark uncomfortable way. If you haven't seen the film, you really needn't bother. Hugh Grant was funny, but that was the only thing going for it.

There are better ways to handle the situation, and R encountered one of them this week. At her other job, in which she helps record depositions and such for legal cases, she works with lawyers. This week, one of the lawyers (who obviously noticed her mildly protruding stomach) asked her if she had any children. This is a very diplomatic approach. I'll have to remember that one for the future. However, Hugh Grant should ignore this example and just keep doing what he's doing -- for the sake of comedy.

(For more detailed instructions about How Not To Be Seen, see the original video.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Polling Results

For the last week I have been meaning to summarize the results of the predictions we received regarding the child's gender. If I'd realized the quantity or the quality of the voting, perhaps I would not have bothered. Regardless, the votes are in and they have been counted.

It is worthy to note that the Chinese Lunar Calendar was incorrect, as well as traditional method of interpreting by heart rate. Congratulations to those who guessed correctly (3).
An honourable mention to those who guessed "one of each" (1) and "either" (1). I love democracy.

Historical Note: Today I made a presentation culminating 2 months of work. It was only 15 minutes long, but I managed to work in a plastic funnel as a prop. I did not poll the audience, but I think that at least 3 in 4 would say that they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the event. The other 25 percent are probably the type of people who would cast a ballot for "either" in a baby gender poll. You know the type I'm talking about.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Travel Plans Put On Hold

Here's my email to the phone company that I just sent:

Hello Customer Care,

I am currently a phone customer with your service. I have been having a problem on my phone line ever since I signed up with you a few months ago. It's as if the call is being put on hold, but I have no control over it. It is a terrible, terrible nuisance:

On a frequent basis, the conversation will suddenly be interrupted. On my end, I get a dial tone. On the other end, the caller gets music. It's as if they've been put on hold. If I hang up the phone, it rings again and the connection resumes. This will sometimes happen several times in the same call. Often, the caller gets confused and hangs up. We've lost several calls that way, and it must be addressed. I thought it might be a passing phenomenon, but it continues to occur. For example, I was on the phone with an airline booking agent this evening, and this happened FOUR TIMES during the call. It was between about 8:10pm and 8:30pm, Eastern Time.

I would call your office, but I spent 40 minutes on hold the last time I called. Please look into this matter and call me. Thank you.

I was calling the airline because they had changed our holiday itinerary by adding an extra connection. In the end, they changed us to a different flight, which leaves quite early in the morning. It was bad news, and the phone problem didn't make things any better.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If You Value Your Sanity...

"Make sure you sleep while you can!"

I hear this haunting refrain more and more frequently these days.  Most recently, it came from one of my coworkers, whose wife gave birth to their first child earlier in the year.  He did not seem himself.  His movements were somewhat jerky, and he seemed frayed around the edges.  For a full 5 minutes, he told me how completely exhausted he was, and how there was no hope for me.  Usually, my excitement allows me to shrug off any such concerns, but this guy actually started to get me worried.  That was the point.  He was trying to prepare me for impending bouts of sleep-deprivation.

Another one of my coworkers has a 7-year-old boy.  Over the 4+ years that I've known this guy, he's often come in late, dishevelled and somewhat disoriented.  Sometimes, he doesn't come in at all, and I hear that he's had to stay home for "family" reasons.  His wife isn't much of a morning person, so he's responsible to get their son up, dressed and off to school.  Sometimes, especially if someone in the house is sick, things fall apart.  On one occasion, when he rolled into work just before lunch with a 3-day beard, he looked at me and he said,

"If you value your sanity, do not have children."

Then he collapsed into his chair.  I suppose that was supposed to be a warning as well.  I have always figured that the positive aspects of raising children must completely outweigh any of the inconveniences.  I certainly hope that I'm right.  Some of these guys make me a little nervous.

Monday, December 11, 2006

From A to Zucchini

On several occasions in the past, I have found fault with the food comparisons. I hope to make amends this week. As you might have guessed from the title of this post, says this week that our baby is "6 inches, head to bottom -- about the length of a small zucchini." At first I found this statement strange, because I do not imagine the baby to be shaped like a sausage. But after thinking about it for a minute, I've decided that the baby isn't exactly round, either. If you are going to compare a child to produce, a zucchini is just as legitimate as an onion, or a kumquat or whatever.

Did you know that zucchinis (also called courgettes) are usually picked and eaten when they are quite immature? According to Wikipedia, "Mature zucchini can be as much as three feet long, but are often fibrous and not appetizing to eat." Zucchinis can be round, too.

With the recent knowledge that we're having a boy zucchini (and not a courgette), we sat down to look at some names. Saturday evening we trolled through an online database of names, beginning with A. An hour later, we reached Zachary & co and we still hadn't found any that we thought worthy of writing down. This is going to be a lot harder than we first thought. We are feeling the pressure to come up with something soon, mainly to stop our friends from calling the child "Parkin". If you think about it, you will probably understand why that's funny.

Here's a quote from YPWBY (p. 180) to keep you informed:
An easy way to check your iron level is to examine the inside of your lower eyelid. If you're getting enough iron, it should be dark pink.

In case you were wondering, the doctor said during last week's appointment that the baby is approximately 10 ounces, which is a hair above average for this stage. The heart beat was right on target. The only bad news was that the egg implanted a little low, meaning that the placenta might be blocking the exits when the time comes for the baby to vacate. This does not spell disaster, but they will be watching in future ultrasounds to see how close it will really be when everything stretches out.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Guess What? It's A ...


Today we got to sit back and watch one of the best movies I've ever seen. Within seconds of the beginning, we could see the grainy profile of our little baby. Elements of the skeleton were particularly visible, and we saw legs kick and arms move. It was fantastic. It lasted less than 15 minutes, but it was good from start to finish. In fact, it even had a surprise ending.

At first, the sonographer said that she couldn't tell the gender, because the clever child had crossed its feet tightly. However, the baby warmed up to us in the several minutes while measurements were being taken, deciding that we meant no harm.

The technician said, "You wanted to know the gender?"

I said, "Yes, if you think you can figure it out."

She said, "I think I already know." I had been watching the screen the whole time, but I still didn't know. Instead of just telling us, she provided us with irrefutable evidence:

It's a boy. A healthy little boy.

This is a special moment in history. We are bucking the trend in a big way. On my side of the family, there have been mostly girls. On both sides, every first-born has been a girl. Look at our siblings:
D's Brother- G B G G
D's Sister--- G B G B
D's Brother- G G B G G
R's sister--- G B
That makes a total of 15 children, 10 of them girls, 5 of them boys.

We are glad to help even out the teams, but really, we're just happy to have a swelling tummy with a cute little baby in there. We liked our little movie so much, we ordered the DVD. We have a 3-minute film of fuzzy little kicks and turns, and it's fantastic. We'll post a short clip soon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

One Day More

'Tis the night before the ultrasound,
and all through the house,
everyone is wondering,
is it a boy or a girl?

That is bad poetry, but it is very, very accurate. Our ultrasound appointment is tomorrow morning. That means this might be your last chance to guess whether the baby will be a boy or a girl. Several of you have already put your vote forward, so you don't need to vote again -- these aren't the Belarusian elections, after all.

We are pretty excited to solve the great gender mystery. We're also a little nervous, because this is a big day. Perhaps the better thing to say is:

...and all through the house,
everyone is very ner-vouse.

That sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Maternity Pants

R went out and bought herself some maternity pants at the Gap yesterday. They were marked down from $88 to $21 -- a fantastic value. What makes this especially impressive is that she bought them without anyone there to convince her that it was a good idea. That is usually my job. I don't need any encouragement to buy stuff. Quite the contrary, in fact. We make a great team: I tell her to buy stuff and she tells me not to.

The pants have a wide elastic band at the top which can be folded down if it's in the way, or worn right across the belly (R unfolded it for the picture). Since her stomach is not huge yet, she just folded it down today. R says it's so comfortable, she doesn't understand why all pants aren't made this way.

Look at that cute tummy!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ipomoea Batatas, Sweet!

vegetables seem to be the new thing. In the beginning, there were quite a few beans and nuts. Then came the fruit. The fruit have slowly been giving way to vegetables.

This week, informs us that our baby is the size of a sweet potato. Hang on -- it's the size of a large sweet potato. Let's make sure that is clear. The distinction is somewhat lost on me because I am not a big consumer of yams. In fact, all I really know about sweet potatoes is that they appear on the dinner table on Thanksgiving with marshmallows on top. When I was younger, I wasn't a big fan, but they've grown on me with age.

My stunted relationship with the sweet potato (called Ipomoea Batatas) is somewhat justified. Although the crop is indigenous to the Americas, 80 percent is grown in China, and half of that is used to feed livestock. The ones they don't eat or feed to their animals are exported to Japan and other countries of the Pacific. You see, people in the Solomon Islands eat 160kg of the stuff each year. Average consumption in the US is less than 2kg per year. That's 1kg at Thanksgiving and 1kg at Christmas, pretty much.

I hope to have a better relationship with this child than I have had with the sweet potato. I like to think I can learn from my past, and escape from the trappings of my North American heritage.

In other news, we had our first pre-natal class tonight. I probably should have spent more time on that, but the fruit-meter has become a bit of a tradition.

Our class has about 10 couples, and we are all due within May, give or take a week. It was fun to look around the room and compare tummies. R has a pretty good-sized tummy, so she represented us well. We'll meet every Monday until the end of January -- taking two weeks off for Christmas. I wasn't sure what to expect in the class, but it was fun and I'm looking forward to next week.

We're supposed to bring pillows and a blanket for "nap time." I'm not sure what that's all about.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Freezing Rain

Ottawa is a special place for many reasons: It is a blend of English and French culture, sitting right on the border between Ontario and Quebec; it has a beautiful canal and several rivers; and of course, it is the capital of Canada.

Even when compared with other capitals, Ottawa is still outstanding is several respects. According to Wikipedia:
- 7th coldest capital in the world (avg temp -1.3 C)
- 2nd lowest temperature recorded in a capital (-36.1 C)
- freezing rain is very prevalent

We had a heavy dose of freezing rain this afternoon. In a matter of about an hour, it had completely encased our car in ice. Unfortunately, I still hadn't put the ice scraper back in the car, and I didn't have any other suitable tools for removing the ice (ie: jackhammer). I found a bungee cord in the car and used the plastic-coated hook to scrape through the ice and slush that I was slowly thawing by running the engine. Luckily, it was still warm enough outside that it hadn't had a chance to freeze completely. Otherwise, I would still be there now.

Tonight is supposed to be the live outdoor Nativity Pageant. What a miserable night for it. Murphy's Law, I guess. A few years ago we helped with the pageant and it turned out to be colder than -30 C the first night. That's one the of the reasons why they moved it up to the beginning of December, I bet. I wonder which one is better? I think I'd take the -30 C, actually. Getting pelted by that rain is miserable, and it's murder to drive in.

Come and visit Ottawa sometime. We can't make any guarantees on the weather, but the chances are pretty good you'll get something new and interesting.