It’s a…

I’ve been seriously remiss in updating the blog, which doesn’t surprise me or, probably, you. The holidays were a little crazy, with too much travel, and a lot of trying to get work done before I left. The upside is that there’s plenty of news to share and lots of new kitchen toys to show you (and to use for new recipes).

But first… baby update! We had our big ultrasound on December 21st. Zack and I knew ahead of time that we wanted to find out the sex of the baby; I’m impatient, and he sees it as a surprise either way, so we agreed. I could barely focus on anything or sleep as the day approached (what’s my due date going to be like?), and luckily I’d scheduled the ultrasound first thing in the morning. We got to the hospital early and I had a quick visit for the NuMoM2b study, which I really ought to write about sometime. Then we were off to imaging.

When I first saw the baby on the screen I felt really happy and noticed that the head and neck are a lot more defined now than they were around 13 weeks when we had a dating ultrasound (and certainly more than at 5 and 7 weeks, when the baby was invisible and a peanut, respectively). After what seemed like forever of taking measurements, the tech asked if we wanted to know, and we said yes. 

Baby Hoho is a boy! We both thought so and have been calling him a he for a long time now, but it was nice to have confirmation. I feel OK now buying him outfits, and apparently so do other folks; he got some VERY cute things for Christmas. He was wiggling and curled up and hiding under my belly button, so they could hardly get any of the other images they needed, but apparently he has no problem displaying his junk for all the world to see. I’m not going to put that picture on here because, you know, privacy, since the internet is forever. I will share this profile picture though:

Image

 

This is my favorite of the images, because you can really see his nose (my aunt says it’s like my maternal family, which makes me feel happy, since I thought that too) and his cute lips there. I can almost tell a little of what he’ll look like.

We have more scans coming up, including a 3D scan sometime later or in the 3rd trimester; these are all part of the NuMoM2b study, which is pretty great. Anyway, he’s a boy! Yay! A really cute boy. It all seems more real now and I can’t wait to meet him.

Initial Impressions: Wittlebee

It’s no secret that I love getting stuff in the mail. I’ve done Birchbox, Glossybox, Beauty Army, Julep, Sample Society, Jewelmint; I participate in BzzAgent and Influenster so I can try things, and a large part of my enjoyment lies in reviewing things I get and talking about them with friends. I was delighted to discover that the curated subscription box is such a big thing now (Grace maintains a great list of the available boxes) that there are baby-themed boxes available. And there are few things more squee-inducing than tiny clothes, except maybe getting a surprise selection of tiny clothes in the mail, so for my first foray I chose Wittlebee (referral link here and throughout, except where noted; you can get a $10 discount by using it, and I get some type of credit). The subscription is $39.99/month, including shipping, and you get six items in each box.

When you join the site, you fill out a style profile, much like… well, every other subscription box. You have to choose boy or girl clothing; to me, this is a slight negative, because there are lots of cute, neutral clothes available, and I hate the whole “girl Legos are pink” phenomenon and things related to it. Since we don’t know type of genitalia Hoho will have, yet, I just selected “boy” and placed a note to the stylist that we’d like neutral clothing, since we don’t know. I indicated 6 month sizes, since I’ve heard babies outgrow the 0-3 month sizes fast, and indicated animals, patterns, and stripes for style preferences. They sent the box out within a couple of days — indeed, before the stylist had read my note. I joined on November 26, they shipped my box on the 28th, and replied to my note on the 29th. So, our first Wittlebee box was a “boy” box. I was a little disappointed that they took longer to read the note than they did to ship, but they did reply and will send neutral boxes in the future. Except I’ll have the big ultrasound before the next one ships, but more on that anon.

The shipping took forever. Well, a week, but that feels like forever these days. I don’t think it’s that far out of the range of other subscription boxes; I’m just impatient, and I wanted to get BABY PRESENTS! in the mail, even if I ordered them myself. That’s the nice part about curated boxes; they’re a surprise, and so it really does feel like getting a gift. At any rate, the delightful bee-logo’d box was awaiting me last night after work. I impatiently waited for my husband to finish feeding the cats so we could sit down and open it together. I pretty much squealed with delight when I saw the contents.

wittlebee201211So, here’s what we got:

  • Rabbit Moon button-down long sleeve shirt with a rocket ship(!) embroidered on it. This is easily my favorite thing in the box. It’s just so cute, and I do think that either a boy or a girl could wear this, although I think it’s styled for boys. I couldn’t find this exact item for sale, but similar shirts from Rabbit Moon seem to run at least $25. The only thing I don’t like about it is that the embroidery has no backing, so without something under it I fear it will irritate baby’s skin. Still: CUTE. Estimated value: $25
  • Three-piece outfit from ??? I’m going to have to look up the details on this later, because baby brain made me forget. This is so cute and has black sweatpants, a maroon and white striped shirt with black collar (with snaps at the shoulder, hurrah), and a maroon dirt bike printed hoodie. The hoodie is the only thing that really screams “boy” to me in the box, and honestly, I’m not sure why. It’s not quite my style, and isn’t animals, stripes, or prints, quite, but the shirt is striped, so I’ll give them credit for that. The outfit altogether is adorable, and the shirt and pants are just so casual and fun. Since I forgot to look up the brand, I can’t really search out the price, but it seems to be of nice quality so… Estimated value: $35
  • Grey cotton jersey pants, fairly heavy, with a Wittlebee brand tag. These are cute, although not my favorite color, and they’re just a little bit off from the spaceship shirt. Still, they’re nice enough. I think these are American Apparel rebranded, but I’m not 100% sure; I’m basing the value on that guess. Estimated value: $12
  • Navy blue long-sleeve onesie. I have no idea why I love this so much; possibly because blue is my favorite color and it’s just so tiny. Although I put it on my stomach, at which point it didn’t look so small. I’m hoping the 0-3 month clothing is smaller because it gave me a moment of panic, if we’re being honest. It also has the shoulder snaps (I’ve heard these are handy) and is a fairly heavy, but soft, cotton knit. This is also Wittlebee branded. Estimated value: $12

So, six items, three of which are already an outfit, and I’m guessing the value here to be $74 or thereabouts. Not at all bad, although I would shop sales and be unlikely to pay full price. I used a discount code as well, so for $30 including postage I got to have a ton of fun opening baby clothes in the comfort of my own home. I think the black pants, blue onesie, and rocket ship top might make a cute outfit, as do the grey pants and blue onesie. So that’s three “outfits” right there.

I give them fairly good points for matching my preferences, although I like cute animals a lot better than dirt bikes. I’m still kind of irrationally disappointed that I couldn’t get that gender neutral note in there before they shipped a box, because we don’t know yet, and I feel like we’re jumping the gun or something by ordering clothes labeled “BOY.” This is, of course, completely illogical, but there it is. They encourage you to leave plenty of style notes, so I’ll be doing that, and we’ll see how and whether it improves — but there isn’t anything in the box I wouldn’t put on my baby no way no how, so, it’s not like we’re starting from a bad place.

Obviously I don’t know yet how the clothes fit or how durable they might be, since Hoho has another 24 weeks to go in there.

I’m definitely planning to keep my subscription, and would recommend the service. One caveat, though; I recently got an email from Wittlebee’s founder, and he asked that subscribers skip December to give them a little time to get things together. They’ve grown faster than expected (something that plagues these services, I’ve noticed) and are going to a waiting list for new subscriptions. I give them big props for stepping back and saying “Look, we need to regroup” rather than just sending out worse and worse stuff, later every month (I’m looking at you, Birchbox), and never replying to emails. Just be aware that they are sending out December boxes for those that want them, but if you’re signing up as a new customer, I might be tempted to wait until January due to that email. I went ahead and skipped December, so I won’t have

You can get $10 off if you use my referral link to subscribe to Wittlebee. If you prefer not to use referral links, you can subscribe by going directly to their site.

15/16 Weeks

15w2dlabeledAfter long years of waiting, Z and I finally got a positive pregnancy test on September 12, 2012. I was so excited I was shaking, and then it didn’t seem real. It still doesn’t, and I’ve had three ultrasounds. I can’t feel baby move yet, and that bump depicted above only appeared at the end of last week, so around 15+2. It’s really only noticeable if I wear certain maternity clothes. I love it but at the same time, I’m not sure I don’t just look fat. It’s hard to believe there’s actually a baby in there.

We do have a home Doppler, and it’s gotten easier to find Hoho’s heartbeat. That’s reassuring, but I seem to forget about it quickly. I feel ungrateful, but I had really convinced myself this would never happen. I also never see babies, for the most part, so it’s like it’s all theoretical. Or something. You might look at that picture and go “oh, definitely a bump!” but if I showed you a picture of myself today you’d probably say, “hm… maybe that outfit just makes you look dumpy.” So I’m impatient for the next thing — feeling kicks; the anatomy scan; looking undeniably pregnant rather than fat. I’ve been urged not to want to rush through pregnancy since it’s such a short time, and before I was pregnant, I really thought I’d agree with that. Yet here I am wishing I could just fast forward to the part where I have a baby on the outside and I can really get to know him or her. I guess I don’t appreciate potential as much as I could. Is the baby silly or serious? Lots of hair or no hair? Does he like to snuggle or is she standoffish like me?  What will the cats think?

Symptoms, in case anyone gets here via Googling, are largely subsiding by now. Pregnancy has made my asthma much worse and I had to add a Flovent inhaler to my routine; it’s helped a lot after two weeks of twice-daily use. Previously, I felt like there was an iron band around my chest and I could never get a good breath. I have heartburn that might kill me except for the miracle of Prevacid. If I don’t keep on top of it, I also get super nauseated. I pee all the time; I thought there was a break coming for that, but so far, it’s minimal. I still wake up several times in the night to visit the restroom.

I feel guilty for not being super excited about everything that’s happening, but it turns out I didn’t want to be PREGNANT all these years; I just want to be a mom.

A New Nest, With Egg!

Long time no see, huh? Let’s try this blogging thing again and see if I manage to stick with it. I didn’t seem to have much to say when I was living by myself, but now, not only is my husband here, but we’re in a new apartment AND there’s a baby on the way! Almost five years exactly since we started trying, with some obvious breaks, we are very, very excited to meet Baby Hoho (like the monkey from Kai Lan, guys, not the defunct snack cake) at the end of May.

And so, hello. Again. Forthcoming are probably rambling thoughts on pregnancy, reviews of various stuff, recipes, and whatever springs to mind. I will probably talk quite a lot about pregnancy and babies; just fair warning. I am having a hard time even thinking about all that TTC and such, although I’ll post a bit about it, I expect.

Review: Brownberry Health-full Breads

Disclaimer: I received a coupon to try Brownberry Health-full breads for free as part of a BzzCampaign through BzzAgent. This is a program where you take surveys and they match you with companies who would like you to try their products and provide honest feedback.

First of all, long time no see! I apologize for that. I haven’t had that much to say since I’ve been living on my own, and cooking and homemaking just isn’t as exciting when there’s only one person involved. I have, however, been getting back into Once a Month Cooking a bit (I’ll try to post more about that soon). I also joined Weight Watchers at the beginning of the year. So far I am down about 15lb, and a lot of it is a result of cooking and eating at home.

When I received a campaign invitation to try the Brownberry Health-full breads, I was pretty excited, since they’re high in fiber and protein. This is great for Weight Watchers. I find a lot of the light whole wheat breads to be pretty icky (too squishy, no flavor) so I was hoping this would be a great alternative.

As you can see, there are three varieties available. I had a bit of a hard time finding them but finally tracked them down at the larger Giant Eagle (grocery store) near my house. I selected the 10 Grain variety since it looked good to me, and I have been using a Nickles (local bakery) bread that’s similar and which I like.

I was really pleased with the texture of the bread. It has a nice crumb; it’s not too squishy and soft but not hard like a baguette (well, obviously). The crust is deliciously chewy and the topping adds a lot of flavor. So far my favorite sandwiches have been:

  • Turkey, cheddar, apple and onion slices, and dijon mustard;
  • Hummus and veggies (spinach, carrot shreds, olives, tomatoes, whatever is on hand);
  • Grilled cheese with sharp cheddar and a little garlic.

It also makes great toast for breakfast, and helps keep me full a bit longer thanks to the protein content. I would definitely recommend this bread. It’s a little pricey, so watch for sales or coupons, but I like it the best of all the “healthy,” whole wheat breads I’ve tried.

Here’s my turkey sandwich mentioned above:

Turkey, cheddar, apple, onion, and dijon on Health-full 10 Grain

I’ve basically been eating a sandwich for lunch each day, and the bread is good enough that I don’t get bored. I’ve got a second job interview this week so hopefully I’ll be working outside the house soon. That means packing a lunch, and it’s easiest for me if I can follow the same pattern most days. I’ve tried making the sandwiches a few hours ahead to see how they hold up, and as long as there’s a buffer (like light mayo, mustard, hummus) between the bread and the fillings, it doesn’t get soggy too fast.

I definitely love this bread! I’ll be posting more in the future here too, I think, and maybe I’ll finally update my site banner, ha ha.

Five-Minute Fondue

No, seriously. Having worked at a certain fondue restaurant for a number of years, I could probably now make fondue in my sleep. But it doesn’t really take all that much practice, and — here’s the thing — it’s faster to make than Velveeta dip. You do not need a special pot. You don’t even need a double boiler. Since I made “Mexican” fondue tonight, that’s what we’ll go for first; look further down for other variations.

“Mexican” Fondue

  • 1/4 cup beer, cheap is fine, room temperature and preferably a little flat
  • 1/4 cup salsa, from a jar? Fine.
  • 1T minced garlic
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese* — about two cups, maybe more, maybe less
  • Flour
  • Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cilantro (all optional)

*Note: At least at my grocery store, pre-shredded cheese costs the same per ounce as a block. I find this handy for omelets, nachos, and last-minute fondue.

Put the shredded cheese in a bowl and toss with a tiny bit of flour. You just want a light coating on the cheese.

Meanwhile, put the beer, salsa and garlic into a nonstick skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir and bring to a simmer. Once you’ve got reasonable bubbles going, add a tongful of cheese — about a meatball’s worth. Stir! After that melts, add a little more cheese. Keep going, a half cup or so of cheese at a time, stirring all the while, until you have achieved your desired thickness. As long as you keep stirring you shouldn’t have problems with burning. This doesn’t take very long. If you want, you can do this all in a double boiler, but it takes longer; same with a microwave.

 

Once the cheese is melted, keep stirring and cooking for another minute or so, just to cook the flour taste out. Take it off the heat and add worcestershire (a dash), hot sauce (same), cilantro, or whatever you please. Stick it in a bowl and eat.

That was fast, right? So, now that you’ve got that down, you can also try:

Swiss Fondue

  • 1/4-1/2c white wine
  • 1T garlic
  • 1t mustard powder
  • shot of kirchwasser (optional)
  • Shredded Swiss (Gruyere is good) cheese
  • flour
  • pepper

Cheddar Fondue

  • Same as the “Mexican” fondue, but with less salsa, more beer, and mustard powder. Oh, and pepper.

Once you get the hang of this, you can really try any combination of liquid with any old lot of cheese you might have lingering about.

 

Various and Sundry Updates

I keep meaning to be better about updating here, and I keep failing. To the point where last year’s October banner is almost appropriate again! So I’m putting a reminder on my Google calendar to see if that reminds me to post more often. I have to admit I’ve been pretty bad about reading blogs lately, too.

I did get a betta, and I named him Finnick Odair. He’s living happily in an Aqueon MiniBow 2.5 gallon tank. I took the filter out because last week, he jumped up onto it. Fortunately I heard the jumping sound and retrieved him, but until I can figure out how to block it off, he’s filterless and getting more frequent, larger water changes. Here he is, flaring at his reflection in a mirror (which is not there all the time; never fear):

The house had really gotten out of hand. I’ve been struggling with my OCD, which I’m not sure I’ve mentioned here. Anyway, I has it, and it’s been pretty bad lately. Sometimes I get to feeling like most of the house is “contaminated” and I can’t touch things, and then get focused on cleaning one particular little area to the detriment of everything else. I’ve been slowly bringing it back around and doing more general detailed cleaning. It’s still really difficult, though. If I could afford to hire someone to come in and do a rescue clean, I would, so I could just keep it up from there. One of the major issues is my lack of furniture and closet space, so I’m trying to keep control of the clutter by getting rid of things that don’t have a home and that I don’t really need, anyway.

This weekend, I got a couple of new things: A Swiffer WetJet (on sale, with coupons, for $8ish), and a full size sheet set. For $6.24. Thanks, Target! I rearranged the bedroom furniture so it’s a little more open and it feels a lot nicer, too.

I haven’t been cooking much at all due to the aforementioned OCD issues. Most everything I eat has to be in a “safe” package. So, while it wasn’t originally my intention to talk very openly about these struggles, it’s about all I’ve got right now. Finances are super tight while I look for another job, and stress increases my anxiety.

I wonder if setting a project every other day and blogging about it would help?