Thursday, December 6, 2012

Her very own playroom

I am excited to share that we have plans to have a dedicated space for Caitlin to call her very own playroom.

Our current guest room is very large and with a small full sized bed and a computer in there, a lot of good empty space goes wasted.  Our laziness gets the best of us and that free space ends up being the dumping ground for things that we don't know where they go... such as a plastic 6-foot Christmas tree, a 40 pound box of timothy hay, and a large stockpile of good cardboard boxes I cannot part with.

We have plans to partition the room so the guest area is more private and cozy and the remainder of the room will be dedicated for Caitlin and all her toys.  Currently, it's a pain having Caitlin roam and crawl around the house since it's hard to keep the floors sanitized and spotless every minute of the day, everyday.  The last thing I want is for Caitlin to get sick from ingesting germs or bacteria or salmonella (from the turtles) or guinea poop (from the guineas).  With a smaller room dedicated for Caitlin, it will be easier to keep the floors sanitized and there will also be less traffic in that area, so it should stay clean longer.  I also hate how our living area has been taken over by baby toys -- I think they should start paying rent.  It will be great to exile all of Caitlin's toys to the playroom.

I am very excited and I can't wait to get the playroom set up.  I hope to get everything done this weekend.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our very first pictures

I found a folder on my desktop called "Very First Pic".  It contained 2 very old pictures of Jeff and me from back in June of 2006.
I vaguely recall scrounging through my digital photos about a two years ago, trying to round up the earliest photos that Jeff and I took together and it appears that these 2 are it!  I don't remember what I planned to do with these photos, but the project was apparently forgotten and abandoned on my computer desktop.

Might as well share them here!
Ah, don't we look so young?

 the 2 of us.. pre-lasik days. hehe
 

I still remember this day...  We went strolling together down 3rd Street Promenade (in Santa Monica) together for the first time, then we walked over to Ocean Ave, across the street from the Santa Monica Pier, and had lunch at an upscale restaurant (I think it was Italian)? I remember feeling really embarrassed because we were under dressed (look at Jeff's AMD t shirt!!).  I don't remember what we had for lunch but I recall getting some type of ceviche for appetizers (odd since ceviche isn't Italian).
Don't remember the name of the restaurant and whether it still exists, but looking at the photo, it appears to be near the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Ocean Ave, next to Sushi Roku (love this place!)

I'm thinking we should go back soon and look for it.

-----------
UPDATE:
After looking on Google Maps and Yelp, I think the restaurant is called Ocean Ave Seafood.  And it appears to be an American seafood restaurant, not Italian.
Looking at their menu, I saw a "Baja Ceviche" on their appetizers list, so that has to be it! And the patio photo on Yelp looks familiar and could be where our photo above was taken:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dominate Dragons with Git

If you have not done so already, head on over to the Hulu Tech Blog to read Jeff's post about the benefits of using Git. 
Read the post here: Dominate Dragons with Git.
Jeff's arguments are well thought-out, well-written, amusing, and incredibly convincing. 

If you have no idea what Git is, it is a version control and source code management system for software development, and is far superior than other version control software out there such as SVN and CVS.  If you have no idea what any of that previous sentence meant, then maybe this post isn't for you, but head on over there anyways and show some support.  =)

And if you are wondering who is that talented artist that drew the adorable dragon illustrations.... well, that talented artist is me  =D

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our Dominican Republic trip

As you already know, we went visited Punta Cana (in the Dominican Republic) in mid-October for a destination wedding.
I have mixed feelings about that country.  On one hand, the beaches are quite pretty, and I really enjoyed the warm, humid weather and the rainy afternoons.  On the other hand, I found the locals and the towns to be quite a culture shock, where the locals are constantly trying to swindle a buck or two off the tourists (and their own locals as well?) and the town is so dirty, poor, and noisy.
I can now understand why visitors would stay at a resort (even if it costs $300-$400 per person per day), because you get to enjoy the beautiful land and ocean without having to deal with the actual people that live there.

Here is a not so quick summary of our one week trip to Dominican Republic.
If you haven't arleady read an earlier post about our trip to the DR, read it here.

Getting Around:
Because we flew into Santo Domingo, which is a 3 hour drive from Punta Cana, we hired a driver to drive us to and from the airport.  I am really glad we did this since not only is driving 3 hours after spending almost 10 hours on an airplane really sucky, but driving in a foreign country where people drive like a bunch of maniacs is not safe either (you will see drivers disregarding the lines on the road, 5 people squished onto 1 motorcycle, cars at an intersection going at it like a free-for-all... it's complete chaos).

During our 8 day trip there, we also rented a car so we could get around Punta Cana.  While driving, we noticed that there were always people bunched up on the side walk next to speed bumps.  Turns out, people do that to try and hitch a ride on large trucks that have to slow down right before the speed bumps.  Like I said, the poor locals was a huge culture shock.

Things We Did:
Us folks with kids didn't do that much.  We went to the nearby beach twice (literally, a 1 minute walk from our condo), went to the Hard Rock Casino Resort twice (and we got food poisoning from the resort. More on that later), and we went out to dinner once (at Capitan Cook. I've never tasted seafood so fresh).  The folks without the kids did other stuff like cigar shopping and clubbin'. I thought I heard talk of some folks wanting to go zip lining but no one ended up doing that.  Jeff and I brought our snorkels but we didn't go snorkeling either.  Somehow, 8 days in Punta Cana just wasn't enough.



The lovely beach

The Wedding at Hard Rock:
Our cousin's wedding was held at the Hard Rock Casino Resort (I heard if you stay there for 4 nightsw, you get a free wedding?  Maybne we should renew our vows there?) and the night before the wedding, there was a cocktail hour at the resort.  Because it was held at a resort that we were not staying at, we had to buy a Day Pass to be able to enter the resort, and with the Day Pass, we would also have access to food and drinks and entertainment. The Day Pass was $90 per day per person, and unfortunately, since I had a grumpy baby in tow, I didn't get to use the Day Pass to my full advantage. 

The cocktail hour was held outdoors by this beautifully lit pool that had a shallow area that people waded through.  There was tray pass hors d'oeuvres and an open bar.  We got to mingle with the bride and groom to -be and their families and meet the fellow wedding guests.  Maybe an hour after arriving to the cocktail hour, Caitlin started crying a lot since it was past her bedtime, she was tired, and she was getting overstimulated from all the people trying to interact with her.  So Jeff dropped me and Caitlin off at the condo so I could put Caitlin to bed while Jeff returned back to the resort to eat dinner with the rest of the wedding gang.  I asked Jeff to bring me back some dinner but after waiting until 12:30am, I was done waiting for Jeff and crawled into bed.  Apparently Jeff had his own adventure after dropping me off... something about getting lost on the drive back to Hard Rock and all the restaurants except for 1 being closed at the resort. 
Stole this pic from the groom's facebook

The following day was the day of the wedding.  The ceremony was at 1pm on the beach at the resort.  From what I recall, the wedding must have started late because I thought we were going to be late to the wedding but once we arrived there, we still had to wait a bit before the ceremony started.  I was impressed by the number of wedding guests that attended considering that it was a destination wedding.  I would estimate, about... 60 people (could have sworn I saw 6 tables of 10 at the reception)?
The beach was so HOT since we were in DR and there was very little shade.  But by looking at the bride and groom, you couldn't tell how hot and humid it was since they looked stunning.  Jeff, Caitlin and I stood off on the side (with another family with a young baby) since we didn't want Caitlin to risk ruining the wedding.  Caitlin fussed a bit near the end but luckily, no one heard her. Phew!  I tried my best to keep Caitlin happy by feeding her some chilled bottled water (it was sooo frikin hot. geez) but it wasn't cutting it towards the end.  The entire ceremony lasted no more than 15 minutes (as I predicted!) and family photos followed afterward.  The reception was later in the evening so Caitlin and Olivia took an afternoon nap in the bride's parent's hotel room, then we all attended the reception.  The reception was a sit-down dinner with the typical events: first dance, toasts, cake cutting, dancing.  Our table was situated next to the speakers so we spent most of our time not at our dinner table since we didn't want the babies to go deaf.  As a result, I missed the cake that was served and someone swiped our wedding favors.  Towards the end of the wedding, after many of the guests had already left, Caitlin started getting exhausted and fussy so Jeff, Caitlin and I headed back to the condo while the rest of our group stayed to hang out with the bride & groom and their family.  I feel a bit bad that I didn't get to mingle with them on either of the days, but with a young baby that needs to sleep and she cannot sleep on-the-go, it's hard.


I stole this picture too

The Food:
After a week in DR, I still can't figure out what the local cuisine is there.
We did take-out for dinner on a few of the days, and for one meal it was Italian seafood and risotto (Italian cuisine), one meal was empanadas (Portuguese cuisine), and another meal was... I don't even know what that was... it was something like grilled fish and chicken sandwich and french fries (an attempt at American cuisine?).  The one meal that we did eat at a restaurant (Capitan Cook) didn't seem to belong to any cuisine, it was simply seafood (which you pick and choose while raw, kind of like at a super market) then they grill it for you.

The food that we ate at the Hard Rock Casino resort was typical resort/cruise line/cafeteria food: American.
The remainder of the trip, we went grocery shopping at the Super Mercado and cooked in our condo.

And after this trip, I have one piece of advice for you:  Don't eat resort food! 
After eating food from the local shacks, restaurants and grocery stores, we were all fine.  No tummy issues.  Towards the end of our trip, when we ate at the Hard Rock Resort for the wedding, 4 out of 7 of us in our party (me being one of them) got sick with food poisoning.  We were all still feeling the effects of it for 1-2 weeks after our trip.  It's kind of odd since usually, travelers are advised to avoid local food & drinks and to only eat resort food/drinks.  It should really be the other way around.
Upon returning home, the ill people got antibiotics and probiotics to remedy their tummy troubles except for me.  I was too busy and tired dealing with Caitlin's jet lag and swaddle weaning that I didn't even have time to think or deal with my stomach problem.  There were several times that I had to dump Caitlin somewhere while she wailed for 30 minutes while I sat on the toilet.  When I emerged from the bathroom, I simply got on with my day and didn't even think about my stomach issues until the next time it churned.  It was sad times for the two of us. 

The Flight Back -- this day was a doozy:
The day we traveled back home was hectic!  No one had time to eat!  Jeff and I were up for almost 24 hours the day we returned home.
The day all started at 6am when Caitlin woke up due to the sunrise (which led her to wake at 3am CA time when we returned from our trip).  After feeding her we started packing since we couldn't pack the night before as we returned late from the wedding so we put Caitlin straight to bed.  We can't pack with her in the bedroom -- she would wake up.  We checked out of the condo at 8am even though we were still in the middle of scrambling to clean up the condo at that time.  Around 8:30am, we left for our 3 hour drive back to the Santo Domingo airport.
Once at the airport, we had to wade through the crowds and find our proper place to check-in and board.  We had no down time eat or use the restroom since by the time we made it through security (they made me remove Caitlin from my baby carrier and scan the baby carrier before going through the metal detector. wtf? You don't have to do this in the U.S.  Maybe they have no idea what a baby carrier is and thought it was a bomb), it was time to board our flight.  And of course, I was "randomly selected" for a more thorough check before boarding the plane, so the plane was waiting for me.  I say "randomly selected" since the only people selected were people that didn't look Dominican/dark skinned.  The flight to NY went smoothly, Caitlin slept like an angel (it just so happened that the flight coincided with her usual nap time) while I watched "The Five-Year Engagement" and Jeff watched "Snow White and the Huntsman".  
 SDQ --> JFK
When we landed in NY, we didn't have a gate so we had to wait while they prepared for a shuttle to shuttle us off the plane to the gate.  Once we finally arrived at the gate, we had to go through Immigration.  The line for US Citizens was LOOONG but luckily, our family and Connie's family got to go into the "family" line which was very short.  We were in and out of there quickly.
While we waited for the rest of our party (who were not in the "family" line), we got our luggage from baggage claim. (Since it was an international flight, they didn't automatically transfer our luggage to our connecting flight).  After waiting around forever for the rest of our party, we decided to continue on to our next flight since our connecting flight was earlier than the other folk's flight.  After we went through customs and re-checked in our bags for our connecting flights, we were greeted by a long TSA line.  At this point, we realized that our connecting flight was already boarding (for some reason, we thought our flight was at 8pm but it was really at 7pm) so TSA let us go through the fast lane.  If it wasn't for the family-line at Immigration, we would have surely missed our flight -- traveling with kids does have its perks! 
After getting through security, Jeff and I tried to run as fast as we could to our gate, and holy shit, I had no idea JFK was that large.  We were running and running and the airport just kept getting bigger and bigger!  I heard "final boarding" for our flight on the overhead speaker and I was freaking out -- with a baby, I absolutely don't want to miss my flight.  Jeff was able to run but I had so much trouble as I was holding a baby and trying to hold my diaper bag and pull a rolling carry on.  Thank god one of those golf carts that drives old people around stopped and told me "Get in the cart!".  I hesitated for 1 second, glanced at Jeff who was already a speck in the distance, then hopped into the cart.  I told everyone "thanks" for stopping to pick me up and that that my flight was about to leave.  The kind elderly folks on the cart asked the driver to skip their gates and take me straight to mine.  I explained to everyone about my tight connecting flight from an international flight, and others shared to me their stories of how the airport also screwed them over in the past while flying with a baby.  I was dropped off at my gate, waved goodbye to my new friends, telling them I would "hug them all if I had the time", and boarded the plane.  Jeff arrived about 30 seconds after I arrived. We plopped into our seats exhausted and defeated.  The plane took a while taking off, but luckily, Caitlin was in high spirits and the air pressure change during take off didn't bother her at all. When Caitlin's fuse eventually ran out and started crying, I nursed her on the boppy and she slept the entire flight (it just so happened that the flight coincided with her bed time).
When the plane landed, there wasn't a gate for us so we had to wait on the damn plane for an additional hour! Argh!  My coccyx hurt so bad from sitting in the same position for 7 hours.  It was past 11pm by the time we arrived at the gate.  After picking up our luggage and getting a ride home from Jeff's co worker, we arrived home past midnight.  After settling in and putting Caitlin to bed, we had our first meal of the day -- instant ramen.  By the time we showered and crawled into bed, it was past 2am.  Remember we started our day at 6am EST (which is 3am PST), that meant we were up for nearly 24 hours.  It was a really long day, but it was great to be home.

Pictures: 
I already put in a lot of time uploading the pictures to Picasa so you're going to have to look at them over there.
Punta Cana - Dominican Republic

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween has come and gone and we have the exact same amount of candy as when we started, since we completely missed the trick-o-treaters! 
That's what happens when you take your kid out trick o treating for the first time and you forget to leave a bowl of candy out on your door step.
Well, we actually made off with more candy than when we started since Caitlin got some yummy candies while trick o treating.
I read online that the shelf life of hard candies is a year (even longer for gobstoppers, which we have a bunch of), so perhaps we can re-use these candies next year?  lol.

Here are our Halloween pictures.  Jeff and I didn't dress up, but Caitlin was a baby elephant this year.  We actually already have her costume for next year too -- ladybug costume from Carters, which I got for 70% off, with an additional 15% off since the tights were missing.

 On all fours like an elephant

I carved the large pumpkin.  It's supposed to be The Count (from Sesame Street).  It doesn't really look like him so you're really going to need to use your imagination. 
For some reason, I thought Jeff's favorite Sesame Street character was The Count, but I got all mixed up.  He actually likes Oscar the Grouch.
Jeff carved Caitlin's mini pumpkin, Cookie Monster, which is Caitlin's favorite.


Trick o treating for the first time.


Caitlin holding her own Halloween bucket, which is filled with candies! 
No, I didn't help her hold it.  She is just that strong.


So happy trick o treating





Caitlin's neighbor/BFF, Peggy 


Family picture!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Greetings from the Dominican Republic!

We are in the Dominican Republic this week to attend a cousin's wedding and we arrived a week early to do a little vacationing.

We are sharing a condo with some family members, which is much cheaper than staying at a resort, which is $300-$400 per person per night!  Food and entertainment is included but there is no way I can eat my money's worth in crappy resort food, and with an infant in tow, I wouldn't be taking advantage of the entertainment either.
We haven't left the condo that much since I'm pretty beat from the flight (5.5 hours from LAX -> JFK, then 4 hours from JFK ->SDQ, then 3 hours car ride from SDQ to our condo in Bavaro), and we need to stick around in the afternoon so Caitlin can take her afternoon nap.  I don't mind of course, I don't think vacations should be cramming a million items into a tight schedule and hating every waking minute of the "vacation".
At the beach, 30 meters from our condo

Yesterday, we finally emerged from our "air conditioned" condo (it is in quotations because the AC sucks, but still better than no AC!) to go to the beach.
The beach was lovely, and the water was warm (unlike the Pacific Ocean).  The water is not crystal clear the way it was in the Bahamas last year, which was kind of what I thought it would be like (Bahamas, Carribean, the gulf, same thing).

It was Caitlin's first time touching the ocean, and unfortunately, she hated it.  She looked worried at first, then started whining.  So I just held her, and I felt Caitlin cling onto me tighter every time the waves came in.  Maybe after a few more tries, she will get used to it.

Bonding time for the cousins! 
Photobombed by the Infantino Horse
on the lower-right

And what was Caitlin's first airplane ride like?
Let's just say... if I had a choice, I would NEVER do it EVER again.
On the plane ride from LAX to JFK, it was a red eye flight and the flight was at 9:30pm, which is about 2 hours after her bedtime.  Caitlin was exhausted and pissed.  While people were still boarding and getting settled in their seats, Caitlin was bawling the entire time and inconsolable.  Maybe if we were able to get up and pace up and down the aisle, she would have been ok, but we needed to stay seated in preparation to take off.  Everyone seated around us were very polite and kind to us, but I can tell they were a little worried they would get no shut-eye on the flight.  I offered ear plugs to our neighbors and gave a bag of chocolates to the flight crew.  I held off on nursing Caitlin until take-off since you want the baby to suckle during take-off and landing to clear their ears when the air pressure changes.
Once the plane started taking off, we laid Caitlin across the Boppy which was on my lap, latched her on, and placed a nursing cover over her.  Caitlin's body spewed across my lap onto Jeff's lap.  Caitlin quietly nursed for several minutes then eventually dozed off and she slept the ENTIRE flight! woohoo! Both Jeff and I were too scared to move during the entire 5.5 hour flight, fearing we would wake her.  Caitlin eventually woke up after we landed, when people were getting their carryon items from the overhead compartments and leaving.  She was all in smiles.

I wore Caitlin in my BabyBjorn during our 2 hour layover and we enjoyed breakfast at one of the restaurants.
The flight to SDQ sucked a lot.  We were unable to get our seat assignments until right before we boarded the plane.  All 3 of us (Jeff, Connie, and me), were all split up on the plane and we were all assigned window seats, which are incredibly cramped.  Once again, Caitlin started crying before take off since she didn't want me to be seated.  The old man next to me spoke zero English and kept staring at me and Caitlin and also kept staring at me as I pulled out my breast to nurse Caitlin during take-off.
Como se dice "F*ck off" en Espanol?
Poor Caitlin, there was no room in my window seat to accommodate her laying down to nurse.  The Boppy is already wider than the width of my seat.  With Caitlin laying down to nurse and nap, her head partially went onto the other guy's area so she kept getting her head bumped.  Caitlin's butt hit the window of the plane, so I had to wrap her legs around my waist, bending her in an "L" shape. Since the Boppy didn't fit in my seat, I kept squishing it in my seat to make it fit, but the Boppy still kept sliding out from beneath Caitlin.  It was all a disaster.
Caitlin fell asleep while nursing before the plane even took off since it took like 20 minutes taxiing the runway.  Caitlin slept maybe 45 minutes, due to the terrible cramped conditions.  I'm pretty sure if she had the freedom to stretch out like on the first flight, she would have slept the entire duration of the flight.  The flight was 4 hours so she spent the majority of the remaining 3.25 hours of the flight crying.  Towards the end of the flight, we thought it would be good to try nursing Caitlin again but there was just no room to nurse in my seat. Connie asked the flight crew if I could sit in one of the empty 1st class seats to nurse and the flight crew said 'yes'.  So Caitlin nursed for a bit but then cried because she didn't want to nurse anymore.  This was right about the time we were landing!  Uh oh! Babies need to suck to clear their ears from the change in air pressure!  Now what?!  As it turned out, Caitlin didn't even notice we were landing.  She sat around smiling at the faces Jeff was making a few rows back, and it was a very easy landing. phew!
I wore her in the Bjorn again to get off the plane , through baggage claim, and through customs.  Caitlin slept a grand total of about 6 hours that "night", which is about half of what she usually gets.  We were so busy traveling to our condo and settling in that it was too much stimulation for Caitlin to sleep again later in the day.  Because Caitlin got half the amount of sleep she needed, AND she missed her nap that day, that night, she was too overtired to sleep and cried for 1.5 hours in her crib before finally falling to sleep for the night and it was close to midnight.  (Overtired babies are too wired to sleep!  You don't want an overtired baby...)

I really don't want to fly ever again.

-----EDIT: 10/18/2012-----
I completely forgot to post up the video of Jeff "taking care" of a giant cockroach that was in my bathroom in our condo.  It was such a fiasco since we weren't sure how to dispose of the cockroach without having to touch it or risk it getting away. 
In the end, it was a great success!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

We are *so* LA

How are we *so* LA?
We just hired a gardener to come mow our postage-stamp-sized lawn twice a month.

My husband came from a place (New Jersey) where his backyard was over an acre in size and they mowed their own dang lawn.  Him and his mom came out to LA and both laughed at how everyone in LA hire gardeners for their teeny tiny lawns.

After 3 years of trying to maintain our lawn ourselves, we gave in and hired a gardener today.
It is not the size of the lawn that makes lawn mowing on the regular basis hard.  The hard part is finding the motivation to pull the gardening appliances out of the garage (which is located in our backyard), then push them through our driveway, which is completely blocked off by our 2 parked cars, to the front yard.  This motivation wasn't extremely hard to find before we had a baby, but now that we have baby Caitlin, when we have a couple minutes to ourselves, dealing with the lawn is the last thing we want to do.

The final "push" that caused us to hire a gardener, is that our neighborhood is not entirely thrilled with our "overgrown" lawn.  Last week, the guy that maintains the church grounds (across the street from us) politely brought up the topic of referring a gardener to us.   And this morning, he was banging our front door at 8am wanting to introduce us to his gardener.  After a quote of $40 per month (pretty good!) we hired him on the spot.
Our "overgrown" postage-stamp-sized front yard that our neighbors have a problem with.
There isn't more to our front yard.  That is seriously how small it is.
 
We previously had a gardener for 1 month, when we first moved into our house (apparently he was hired and I didn't even know about it).  He charged $90 per month and he came once per week, which was completely overkill.  I canned him as soon as I realized he was hired and draining us almost 100 bucks every month.
Based on that experience, I am more than happy to pay $40 per month for this guy to come twice per month and not have to worry about our lawn (and neighbors) anymore.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Apparently, it was our 3-year anniversary yesterday

It was our 3-year wedding anniversary yesterday, but we all forgot!
I just remembered right now as I was looking at the calendar.  So sad!!
This baby sleep training thing is consuming our lives.

Happy 3 years of marriage, Jeff.  =)  Here's to many more (unforgotten) anniversaries to come.
Wish we were doing this right now

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beach and Park

Summer is coming to an end!
Luckily, we got to squeeze in 2 small adventures before summer comes to a close.  These last 2 weekends, Jeff, Caitlin, and I crawled out of our hermit cave, shielded our eyes from the harsh natural light that we have not seen in what seems like years, and dragged our pasty selves about outdoors.

You see, we (or at least I) are not hermits by choice.  With Caitlin being short-tempered, and you don't know when she is just going to flip out and become hysterical, it makes going out in public very difficult.  And when we *do* go out, they are only brief trips, doing things we *have* to do like pick up a few groceries.  I actually get uncomfortable when people ask me if I "take Caitlin places, like the park or Mommy-and-me movies".  I find it difficult to explain that Caitlin doesn't exactly behave a lot of times, so going out is a huge chore.

Well, two weekends ago, cousin Connie invited us to join them at the Santa Monica Pier and I 'm glad she did.  We had a lot of fun and it was Caitlin's first time at the beach!  And the best part was, Caitlin patiently sat through lunch and made it to the beach and back without flipping out hysterically.  In fact, quite the opposite, as she was full of squeals and smiles the entire time.  Caitlin also didn't ask to eat, which was great since I don't really know how to breastfeed when it's not done in my bed. 



Last weekend, we took Caitlin to Clover Park in Santa Monica to soak up some grass and sun.  It was such a beautiful day.  Caitlin had a little fun, but maybe 30 minutes later, she started complaining so it was time for us to pack up and go.  Oh well, at least we all had fun during those 30 minutes!


Sadly, I don't foresee us venturing outdoors in the near future (bummer, since tomorrow is Jeff's birthday and Caitlin's 6 month birthday).  We are on lock-down in this house since we are now training Caitlin to be on sleep/eat schedule(I actually HATE the idea of putting a baby on a schedule, but since Caitlin just can't settle into her own routine naturally... unlike other babies... we have to do it for her).  If you look at her schedule, you will see that throughout the day, she gets put down for a nap every 1.5 hours.  It's difficult to feed Caitlin, leave the house, hang out, and return home, all within 1.5 hours.  And Caitlin's new bedtime is 8pm, with a nighttime routine starting 7pm, so there goes our night life!  =(  How in the world do people with babies go out?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Termites

~11 months ago, I wrote about our house having termites and it would cost about $1500 to fumigate.
Well, we never got around to it and I figured that, if I just didn't think about it, maybe they would go away!  (oh, the solution to all my problems...)

It appears that I cannot continue pushing the termites to the back of my head because this afternoon, when I stepped into my bathroom, what did I see in my bathtub?

TERMITES!
'

We are getting our house (the wood) treated for termites this Friday.  I am having the guy that sprayed our house for ants and spiders last week (and 3 years ago) to come take care of our termites too.  Fumigation would have costed $1500-$1800 with this guy, but he said he can simply come treat our wood, which is easier and takes less time, and only costs $550! 
I think how it works is, once the wood is treated, when termites eat it, they will die. 

Let's hope this is the last time I have to think about termites for the next few years.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Need to get 3 things -- where to begin!

We have 3 big things we need to buy, but doing the research to find what we need at a great price is a lot of work! 
Where to begin?!

We need to buy:
1. King sized mattress with king sized bed frame and bedding without breaking the bank.  The mattress must not jiggle when someone shifts in the bed.  The bed frame must not creak when moving in the bed. 

2. A good steam mop for under $100 that doesn't damage hardwood floors.  My Swiffer just pushes dirty gunk from point a to point b.

3. A guy to spray our house with poison (without killing Caitlin and the guinea pigs) since I'm sick and tired of ants, spiders, and mysterious creepy crawlies invading our home (see photo on the right).  The last time we got our house sprayed, we paid $30.  I would like something in that price range again.  =]


Please send suggestions my way.  =D

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dominican Republic!


It's been decided!
The plane tickets are already booked!

Jeff, Caitlin, and I will be vacationing in the Dominican Republic this Fall!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Visitors and Caitlin's first big adventure!

Wow!  What a week!
Last week, Bruce, Kathi, and Yao stayed over at our house and we all had so much fun and got so much done!

What did we (ok, I didn't really help much with the home improvement but I'm still going to say "we") do?


Installed a screen door over our front door!
Horray!  The screen door blocks out flies and mosquitoes and does not look crazy ghetto like those black security doors.


Threw a 4th of July BBQ that I didn't even know we were going to have!
So months ago, we threw around ideas of throwing a 4th of July BBQ for the left coast cousins.  However, everyone said that they couldn't make it, so we figured we weren't doing a bbq.  Two days before 4th of July, Jeff announces that we are having friends over for our bbq.
What?  What bbq?
We head over to Costco that day to pick up food for our bbq.
The follownig day, we have more guests invited to our bbq!  Hmm, I hope we have enoughf ood.
The day of the bbq, we learn that 2 more people were joining our bbq. -_-'  I head out to the grocery store to pick up more food.  Thank goodness grocery stores are open on 4th of July!


Cleaned out and organized the garage.
Looks much better now!
Is anyone interested in buying our chandeliers?  $100 or best offer =)

Cut our old front door and used it to level out the guinea's cage.
Guineas got an upgrade!


CAITLIN'S FIRST BIG ADVENTURE
With so many visitors, it made sense to all make a trip down to visit Connie and her family!  (afterall, her daughter is Caitlin's bff. hehe).
I was a bit nervous about this trip because Caitlin always cries during car rides (yes, even when the car is moving), and the trip down to Irvine is 1 hour one-way.
On top of that, Caitlin is already a grumpy baby.  When she is out is about, she rarely naps, and when she doesn't nap, she is even grumpier.

Overall, Caitlin did pretty well.  Much better than I expected!
On the drive down, Caitlin did not cry until we were almost there! Wow!  We kept all the windows down and that seemed to prevent her from crying.  in the middle of the afternoon, after I fed her, Caitlin took a 45 minute nap at Connie's house!  I was so impressed because usually she is a light sleeper, but she slept through everyone's talking. She must have been exhausted from the drive down. =)
We went out to Fashion Island for dinner and took pictures at the Koi pond, and Caitlin napped for maybe 15 minutes during dinner time (not bad not bad.. I'll take what I can get). 

This is a re-enactment of some photo these 3 took years ago. I have yet to see this photo.


Olivia + Caitlin = BFFs 4 ever

Family!

Then we went to 85C for dessert.  (I got 30 dollars worth of pastries.  Mmmmm.)
We headed back to Connie's house after 85C, and what did Caitlin do?  She did quiet-alert! Wow!  It was already past 9pm, and she had a big day, but instead of being grumpy, she laid around playing with Olivia's toys and she even laughed a bit too.  =)
Sadly, Caitlin cried the entire hour on the drive back home.  We skipped Caitlin's nightly bath and put her straight to bed at around 11:15.  Caitlin fell asleep quiet easily and slept for 8 hours before her first feeding.
I love it when Caitlin sleeps so well!  We need to go on adventures more often! hehe

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The not-so-neighborly neighbor

I have been living in my house for 3 years and I have never met my next door neighbor!
Of course, this is no biggie. I am told that he works night shifts so he is never up and about during the daytime. Ok, that is understandable.

Earlier this week, I had Caitlin strapped to my torso and we were going for a walk around the neighborhood. On my way back home, I passed by my next door neighbor's driveway and saw that my neighbor was in the driveway!  It appeared that maybe he just got home and decided to stop and pull a few weeds from his driveway before heading indoors.

In my head, I thought "Oh good!  I finally have the opportunity to introduce myself and Caitlin to the neighbor".  I stopped on the sidewalk at the end of his driveway and said "Hi!!".
The neighbor stopped pulling weeds, stood up, looked at me, crouched back down, and resumed plucking at his weeds.
I spoke a little louder "Hello??".
No response.
I resumed walking and went home.

Wow.
I don't think anyone has ever been so rude to me.
It's one thing to ignore a person trying to strike up a conversation, but how in the world can a someone ignore a person wearing a tiny baby in a cute pink hat trying to strike up a conversation?  And if you are going to ignore a person, then just pretend that you didn't hear them!  Don't stand up, look the person in the eye, and then ignore them!!

I think now I know why I have never met my next door neighbor in the 3 years that I have lived here.  And it's NOT because he works night shifts.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Want to see how big I got during my pregnancy?

When I was pregnant, I donned the same gray dress every month, stood in the same pose every month, and had Jeff take a couple of pictures of me.
What for?
So I can see how much my belly grew every month!

I put all the pictures onto one sheet so you can compare side by side. hehe

I would have really preferred the lighting to be the same in all the shots but I'm not that talented.



I gained a total of 25 pounds during my pregnancy, which is actually the amount I was supposed to gain for someone my size (I didn't go under or over the recommended amount). 

Despite gaining the optimal amount of weight, Caitlin's birth weight was 6 pounds 1oz, which is considered very small compared to the average birth weight in America (which is 8 pounds).
I think that goes to show how big (*ahem* fat) the average American person is, and people are gaining WAY too much weight during their pregnancy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Brand new heating, a/c, and ducts!

We finally did it! After 2 years of no heat and no a/c in this house, we finally got brand new heat and air conditioning units and ducts.  It made sense to change all 3 since the central heat and air were so old, it made no sense to repair them, and the ducts were so old and torn that they had to be changed as well.

I was reluctant to get our central heat/air fixed since it is just so expensive!
Shortly after the central heat broke, we had a HVAC guy come see if he could repair it. He had some guesses on why it was broken but nothing concrete.  And he said that if he were to replace the entire heating unit, it would be $9,000.  He did not provide an estimate for a new a/c and ducts.

Last summer, after the gawd awful back and forth with Sears Outlet regarding our broken refrigerator, they offered to send out an HVAC guy to our house for free heat/ac consultation and 20% off the purchase, as a consolation.  The quote that Sears Outlet gave us for just the central heat was also around $9,000.  And if we also wanted new a/c and ducts, the grand total would be $15,000 for all 3 and they would take 20% off the price if we booked that same day. 

That seemed way to expensive so we decided to stick with no central heat and air, and the poor guineas endured through another warm summer and poor Jeff endured through another cold winter (me? I think West LA weather is awesome year round!!).

Spring of this year, Jeff decided that we should fix the central heat and air anyways since it would make the house difficult to sell.  And if we have to fix the heat and air before we sell the house, might as well do it now so we can enjoy it too.  I reluctantly agreed, mentally preparing myself for a gaping $15K hole in our bank account.

Jeff pulled up 5 HVAC places on Yelp with glowing reviews, and booked free consultations with 3 of the 5 places (the other 2 charged for the consultations! ridiculous!). 

The first guy came and said that it would cost $8,600 for the heat, a/c, and ducts.
My jaw dropped.  That is way less than $15K!

The second guy came and seemed more professional than the first guy, and kept talking about how their company's focus is on quality.  The thought that crossed my mind was "Quality? hmm... sounds expensive...".  His quote for new heat, a/c, and ducts? $8,750!
Wow!  That's not much more than the first guy AND you get quality.

The third guy forgot he had an appointment with us so we had to reschedule.  Hmm.. not very professional already... He did not wear booties upon entering our house (while guy #1 and guy #2 did)... Hmm, not very considerate either.  However, this guy was running his own mom & pop business and seemed like a honest and friendly guy.  +1 there. 
After he did a quick look around our house, his quote for new heat, a/c, and ducts was $4,975!

Whoa!
For ~$3,600 cheaper than the other folks, I don't care how dirty he gets the place!  Hire some cleaners and there will still be extra money in our pocket!
We booked him the same day and scheduled for the install the next day.

It was estimated to take 2 days to get the work done but it ended up taking 3 because the workers were 2-3 hours late every.single.day.  Being punctual is apparently not their thing.  This also meant 3 days of loud noises and banging around the attic, which meant 3 days that Caitlin couldn't get any rest.  And at the end of the 3 days, the house was indeed, very filthy.

But we now have brand new ducts and working central heat and air for 1/3 the cost that we would have paid 1 year ago (the benefits of a crappy economy? good timing? who knows...)! 
We also have additional vents cuts into the ceiling of some rooms for more effective cooling.  How lovely!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy 3rd Year House Anniversary

Today is the 3rd year anniversary of the day we got the keys to our house!

Ok.  It seriously feels like just the day before yesterday, I was reluctantly house hunting.  And it feels like just yesterday that I was blogging that it was the 2nd year house anniversary, complaining that it felt like just yesterday I was blogging about our 1st year house anniversary.

When we bought our house in 2009 , we qualified for the First Time Home Buyer Tax Rebate (I think it was $7K), but the catch was that we had to live in the house to for 3 years.  Glad to know that as of today, that $7K is officially ours to keep.  =D

We haven't done much to the house this year since I spent about half of 2011 being pregnant.  But also, since we got a lot of major work done on the house the first 2 years, it's smooth sailing from here on out!
Family photo in front of our house!
(Caitlin was 7 weeks old here)

What kind of stuff have we done to the house within the last year?
Well..

  1. Put up dry wall in the garage.
  2. Leveled out the grassy area in the backyard.  Previously, if you were frolicking in the grass in our backyard, a sprained ankle was guaranteed.  (We didn't buy the house like this.  When we hired some guys to run the electrical wiring underground in our backyard, those idiots failed to put back all the soil that they dug up!  Then grass grew over the trenches...) .
  3. Got a new front door.
What changes do I foresee for this upcoming year?
  1. Get a screen door for our front door, so mosquitoes and flies don't get into the house!
  2. Get brand new heating and air conditioning unit installed.  (We have HVAC guys coming over tomorrow for a consultation!).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Health insurance is a pain in the butt!

As we all probably already know, the health insurance system in the U.S is pretty broken!  I have once tried to explain the concept of health insurance to my friends in the Philippines and they couldn't even wrap their head around how it works.

During my pregnancy, I had switched health insurance several times and it was all pretty annoying, ultimately ending in my health insurance refusing to pay for my 9 months of prenatal care!  Luckily, it is all squared away now, but it was all very frustrating!

It all started last summer when I was pregnant and needed an ob-gyn for my prenatal care.
At that time, I was on Jeff's insurance policy, which was with United Healthcare. 
We were on an HMO plan so I had to go to my primary care physician to "confirm" that I am pregnant, then get a referral to an ob-gym from her.  This meant that, the ob I was referred to is the one I was stuck with (oh the beauty of HMOs....) and I was referred to Plaza Towers Ob, which is a medical group, rather than 1 ob-gyn.  I ended up seeing 6 different obs during my entire pregnancy, and not 1 ob even bothered to remember my name.

Oh well, that part is not so bad, I already knew what I was getting into since we have an HMO.

In the Fall of 2010, Jeff switched jobs and the health insurance at his new company was Anthem Blue Cross.  When Anthem Blue Cross issued us our health insurance cards, I was not on the policy and all the information on the health insurance card was incorrect (such as, it said the co-pay was $15 even though it should have been $5).
After calling Anthem, it turns out that Anthem was confused because Jeff used to be an Anthem policyholder back in 2008 at his last job.  So when Jeff joined his new job and was back on Anthem again, they used his 2008 information, and that was also why I was not on the policy (I was not on Jeff's health insurance back in 2008 since we were not married yet).

Finally, we got every thing clarified with Anthem, but during that process, I had to delay my prenatal appointments with my ob-gyn, *AND* get another referral from my primary care physician to the ob-gyn.

On March 1, 2011, Jeff's company switched health insurance and automatically moved us from Anthem to Cigna.  Keep in mind I was 8.5 months pregnant at this time and I delivered 14 days later! With our Cigna insurance, it is an "open hmo" plan, meanng, we can just show up at our specialist's office without getting a referral from our primary physician.  And from what I recall, we were told that our ob-gyn (Plaza Towers ob) was in-network
Oh how perfect!
Or so we thought...

1 week after Caitlin was born, I got a call from Plaza Towers Ob saying that Cigna was refusing to cover the cost of my prenatal care, and possibly also not covering the cost of the delivery either, since they were considered "out-of network".  And I had to call  my insurance to appeal the decision.  Now, the cost of prenatal care was $6,300 and the cost of the delivery at the hospital was $14,700", so this was a lot of money we are dealing with!

That is so frustrating and it did not help that I had to deal with this so soon after delivering a baby!
I had to call Cigna and appeal their coverage denial.  I figured, worst case, if they still don't budge, then I am forking over the $20K bill over to Jeff's employer since they switched health insurance companies on us so late in my pregnancy!  We really didn't have much of a choice.

I called Cigna and drafted a letter of appeal with the rep on the phone.  My letter of appeal included arguments such as:
  • I have been using this ob-gyn for the entire duration of my pregnancy
  • The employer changed health insurance on me so late in my pregnancy
  • We were told that our ob-gym was in-network
  • My ob-gyn was actually "in-network" with Cigna until January 31, 2011, which was only 1.5 months before I delivered
The letter was submitted and would take up to 5 weeks for review.  The rep on the phone also informed me that the hospital we delivered at (St Johns Health Center) was indeed an in-network facility, so the coverage that was denied was only for my prenatal care.  That's great news!

A couple of weeks later, I got a letter in the mail from Cigna stating that after reviewing my letter of appeal, they decided to cover my prenatal care!
Horray!

I'm glad that was all taken care of.  That was a big headache.


Friday, April 27, 2012

The Loquat Heist

Loquats are underrated.
Hell, I bet you don't even know what a loquat is.
Even blogger is putting a red squiggly line under the word "loquat", thinking I misspelled "loquacity".

Well, loquats are one of my favorite fruits, up there with watermelons.  It kills me that it's impossible to buy these sweet, juicy, fruits at the super market or farmers market. 
I have to resort to stealing.

I found a loquat tree during one of my late afternoon walks around town and I noticed that all the fruits were ripe and falling to the ground!  Apparently whoever owned the house next to this tree was not taking advantage of the fruit it was bearing!
I'm too shy to go knock on the door and ask if I could harvest their fruit and I was even too shy to pluck 1 fruit off that tree in broad daylight.

There was only 1 option left...
I had to pull a loquat heist.

Last Sunday night, after Caitlin was put to bed, I grabbed a plastic bag and a pair of scissors and strolled back to where the loquat tree was located.
After plucking a few that were within reach, I realized that I had a pretty full bag!  That was fast!
If you look at the tree though, you can't even tell I plucked any!

I have been merrily eating these fruits these last few days.  I just hate that they are very tedious to eat (you have to remove the peel, which requires 2 hands!  When you are holding a crying baby in one arm, it's close to impossible to do!).

I think for my next house, it is a requirement to have a loquat tree in the yard.
And a third arm/hand would be good too.

Ruby chirping like a bird

Many people don't know that guinea pigs can actually chirp like a bird!  Yes, this is different from their typical "wheeking" sound.
Not many people have witnessed their guinea pigs chirp either.

Luckily, I have witnessed Ruby chirp on a few occasions (Marbles have never chirped), and I was able to capture it on video today!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Newborn Photo Session

Remember when I was 35 weeks pregnant, I did a maternity photo session with Nicole Loggins Photography?  Well, that was a 2-parter, since we also were booked to do a newborn photo session with her once Caitlin was born.

The day I gave birth to Caitlin, I messaged Nicole and let her know that Caitlin has arrived and to pick a date to do the newborn photo session (ideally, within the baby's first 7 days).  We decided to do the photo session on Tuesday, March 20, making Caitlin 6 days old that day.

Because Nicole requested for Caitlin to be naked for the photo session (since clothing can look bulky on tiny newborns), we heated up the room to an uncomfortable 88 degrees!  After feeding Caitlin, she fell asleep for the entire duration of the photo session, making the session very easy!  Typically, a newborn photo session takes 6 hours because the baby will wake up, cry, want to eat... etc.  But because Caitlin slept the entire time, we were able to finish the session in 2 hours!

Caitlin was placed in all sorts of cute poses and dressed in plenty of pretty head bands.
I discreetly snapped some behind-the-scenes shots of the photo session.
Caitlin doing one of the poses
 

Jeff lending a helping hand, blowing bubbles


We have Caitlin's newborn photoshoot photos uploaded to our Picasa:
Caitlin Photoshoot

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spin off blog

We have created a spin-off blog, where we will share the details of Jeff and Jen's new life as parents and raising a baby.  Not everyone is interested in reading about things like that, so we don't want to bombard our Adventures of Jeff and Jen blog with it.

The spin-off blog called The Adventures of Jeff and Jen: Raising a Family

If you are interested in following our adventure in learning how to be parents and following the development of Baby Caitlin, please subscribe to our new blog:  http://jenandjeffyangfamily.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Baby Caitlin's Birth Story

**WARNING: very long, detailed, and descriptive post! 
Read only if you have 71 hours to spare!**


As you probably already know, we have a new addition in our family!  Baby Caitlin arrived at 7:30pm on Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
It was so perfect that Caitlin arrived on her due date (March 14) because that day is Pi Day!
Did you know only 5% of babies arrive on their due date?  As a result, I was pretty sure I would not get a pi day baby, so this was such a pleasant surprise. 

Typically, babies are born shortly after the mom goes into labor.
What most people don't know, and what most of the nurses at the hospital did not believe, is that my labor actually started the Sunday prior!  At the hospital, several nurses asked "when did you start feeling contractions?".  I said "Sunday night".  And a common response that we got was "No, really.  When did the painful contractions start?".  And my answer was still "Sunday night".

So here is the story of our 4-day journey to Caitlin's arrival:

Sunday (March 11) to Monday (March 12):
All day Sunday, I had terrible cramping and aching in my lower abdominal area.  Of course, I did not let that cramp my style! Jeff and I spent the afternoon going out for Chinese food for lunch, walking (slowly) around Rodeo Drive, and eating Sprinkles Cupcakes.

On Sunday night, after crawling into bed, I was unable to sleep because the cramping got worse and the painless contractions suddenly became painful.  Jeff took notice that my painful contractions were coming roughly every 10-20 minutes.  Around 2am, still wide awake and watching the clock, I noticed that the contraction frequency increased to every ~7-16 minutes.
I finally gave up on trying to sleep and got out of bed at 4:30am and watched early morning news.  At this time, contractions were coming every 5-9 minutes.
I secretly hoped that the baby will arrive soon.

By the time morning arrived (~8am), the contractions subsided and came randomly (sometimes, once every 5 minutes, or once every 45 minutes, or nothing for 2+ hours).
I was disappointed that all the regular contractions the night before was a false alarm.
I spent the day trying to get some naps in to make up for loss sleep, and cleaned the house in preparation for baby's arrival.

Monday Night (March 12) to Tuesday (March 13):
Sleep was impossible Monday night!
The pressure against my butt and pelvic area was so painful that I was unable to sit down at all.  Laying down was painful too so I literally spent the entire Monday night to Tuesday morning pacing around my house, watching more crappy early morning news.  Walking helps induce labor so I hoped that my pacing would induce labor, as well as burn some additional calories.
The contractions arrived every 5-10 minutes throughout the entire night, until around 8am and the contractions slowed down (again) to about once every 10-15 minutes.

(Notice the trend?  That the most painful, frequent, and regular contractions occurred during the night time.  Labor slows down once morning arrives). 

Jeff left for work at around 11:00am but he returned home at 1pm to take me to our weekly prenatal appointment.  Normally, I drive myself to the ob appointment but considering that sitting down was painful and I would probably hit a car during every contraction, it was best that Jeff escorted me.
At the prenatal appointment, the ob said that I was 3.5 cm dilated, and the non-stress test machine showed that I was contracting every 10 minutes.  The ob said that labor is near and her recommendation is to walk around to induce the labor (I've already been walking!).  She also said to go to the Labor & Delivery at the hospital when I have contractions that are 3-5 minutes apart, for at least 1 hour.

We returned back home and Jeff spent the afternoon with me rather than going back to work (how sweet of him!!). 

Tuesday Night (March 13)
We spent the evening living through my contractions as they became more and more frequent.  We killed time by finishing up items on our to-do list, such as cleaning the guinea cage, tidying up the house, getting the dishes done, etc.  We picked up Thai take-out (pad thai and thai bbq chicken) for dinner.
When counting the time between my contractions, the contractions were not 3-5 minutes apart.  Instead, the contractions kept being bunched into triples, like (5 mins, 5 mins, 5 mins), then a gap (of like, 8 mins) of no contractions! 
Despite that, Jeff thought that I was must in active labor and said we should go to the hospital that night.  We both showered, flossed, brushed our teeth, and notified my friend that I was going to the hospital and to please come take Marbles and Ruby to his house.

I was nervous that I would show up at the hospital and they would send me back home because I was not contracting at the "3-5 minute" rule.  That would be embarrassing...
It was around 11:30pm when I made sure all the windows and doors were locked, turned off all the lights  in the house, and piled into the car.  (Jeff already packed our hospital bag into the car earlier that day). 

Our drive to St Johns Health Center was not any different than any other drive to any other destination.  Movies and TV always glamorizes the drive to the hospital when in labor -- the laboring mother grabbing her belly, screaming her husband's head off as he speeds to the hospital. 
That would be cool... but no, that's not how it happened.   It was a typical quiet evening drive down the 10 freeway.

It was after-hours, so we had to enter the hospital through the Emergency Room entrance.  We left our keys with the valet and strolled up to the maternity department's Labor & Delivery.

At the check-in desk, the receptionist asked what we were doing there.
Um, I'm at Labor &Delivery?  Maybe that means I am in labor?
I told her that I was having contractions and would like to check-in.
The woman took one look at me and did not believe me. Once again, this was not like in the movies where a laboring woman is wheeled in, in a wheelchair, screaming and panting.  I would expect the receptionist to know better.

She stuck me into a small, crappy, temporary room to examine me and confirm I am in active labor before checking me in.  The nurse checked me and said I was 4cm dilated, which confirms that I am in active labor, and that I was contracting around every 4 minutes.  It was close to midnight when I was checked-in.

Wednesday (March 14!) Labor and Delivery Day!/Pi Day!
We waited in the temporary room for about an hour, while we waited for a birthing suite to be cleaned and ready for me.
 
At 1:00am, we moved to my private birthing suite, which was equipped with goodies such as a flat screen TV, a couch/bench/bed-thing for the dad-to-be, a rocking/glider chair, and a bathroom.  Of course, I wasn't in the mood to take advantage of any of the amenities.
We were left to my own devices, so Jeff napped while I was wide awake, groaning though every contraction.  It sucks that I was tethered to the bed, hooked up to a machine and an IV drip!  Which genius invented that? It's easier to handle contractions while standing or walking around!

At 2:30am, the nurse checked me and said I was 6cm dilated! Wow, that was fast!

At 3:30am, I was 7cm dilated and I caved and requested for an epidural  =(. 
I was really disappointed in myself for opting for painkillers, but the thought of continuing on without it really frightened me.  I don't know why I felt frightened but I was. Maybe because I did not know what to expect?
Also, my body hurt so badly from being in labor for so many days, so I really wanted some relief.


At 5:30am, my water broke.  I wish my water broke at home, like in the movies.

At 9:30am, I was 8cm dilated.  Apparently, I only dilated 1 cm in 6 hours, which is very slow.
This is suspiciously similar to Sunday night and Monday night, when I was painfully contracting through the night, and by morning, labor slowed down or stalled.
 
Lunchtime came and passed, and no food for Jen.  =(  Jeff got to eat a breakfast burrito for breakfast and a burger for lunch.

At 2:00pm, I was 9cm dilated, which is a relief, since even though labor was progressing slowly, at least it did not come to a halt.

Around 3:00pm, we watched Crazy Stupid Love on the hospital TV.  It was quite amusing and I love anything with Emma Stone in it.  Sadly, I was pretty nauseous throughout the afternoon and vomited, which is quite common during labor

At 4:00pm, I was 9.5 cm... almost there!

At 5:00pm, I was getting impatient that I couldn't eat or drink.  I asked Jeff to be the good husband that he is, and sneak me some soda from the cafeteria.  He brought back some Pepsi, which I happily drank (I'm normally not happy about Pepsi. lol) . 

At 5:30pm, the nurse strolled in and confirmed that I was fully dilated (10cm.  YES!).  When she wanted me to start practice pushing, nausea set in again and I vomited all the Pepsi!!! 
Whoops.
I hope she did not notice that the vomit looked like smuggled-in soda.

After a few practice pushes, I was ready to deliver the baby.  I was feeling the urge to push (my epidural was not very strong since I still felt some contractions was able to feel the urge to push), but I was afraid to push on my own.  I wanted a damn doctor to show up before I start pushing!  Where the hell was the doctor?

At around 6:00pm, the nurse called for the doctor to come deliver the baby (What? Barely? Wish she called sooner).  Unfortunately, the doctor was at another building and had to walk over.

Finally, at 7:00pm, the doctor arrives.  Took her long enough!  It really should not take her an hour to walk from the building next door. 
She still dilly-dallied for a bit and had me do some more practice pushes.  I was so ready to deliver the baby already.
She told me to take breaks between practice pushes so I don't wear myself out, as pushing typically takes 1-2 hours and the mother gets worn out before the baby is delivered.
But for me, it actually felt really uncomfortable to take a break in between pushes.  I just wanted to keep pushing and get this sh*t over with. 

Maybe around 7:15pm, they took apart the bottom of my birthing bed, so the baby could be delivered.  Because I kept pushing without many breaks, the doctor asked if I stayed active during my pregnancy.  Um, I hate to admit it, but I fell off the 'healthy' wagon midway through the pregnancy.  lol.

Jeff got to watch the baby crown.  When I asked him what it looked like, he said that he saw a lot of hair, and it looked like when you have shampoo in your hair, all wet and mashed up.  The doctor held up a small mirror so I could get a glimpse of the crowning as well.  It was pretty amazing.

After 15 more minutes of pushing, baby Caitlin arrived at 7:30pm!

The ob cut the umbilical cord since it was around Caitlin's neck, then let Jeff cut the umbilical cord stump shorter since we previously requested for Jeff to cut the cord.  Caitlin was immediately placed onto my chest while nurses came in and dried her off.  I remember thinking how "odd" it felt, for something so warm and wet to lay on me, and it moves!
I overheard the nurses saying that the baby looked "big" and maybe was an "8 or 9 pounder".  (we later learn they were terribly off).  

Not long after the delivery, they had Caitlin try nursing and Caitlin nursed like a pro!  What a relief.  I have heard horror stories of people taking several hours to try and get their baby to learn how to latch (and ultimately giving up), so I was expecting the worst.

Finally, the nurse measured and bathed Caitlin.  Caitlin weighed a measly 6 pounds 1oz and measured at 19 inches long.

Jeff picked up chicken wings and burger and fries from the cafeteria for us to enjoy for dinner.  Both were so delicious but maybe it was because it was my first meal after not eating for 23 hours.  And despite all the excitement of having a baby, Jeff still remembered to pick up a slice of pie to celebrate Pi day!

After I finished eating dinner, we packed up our stuff and migrated from the birthing suite to my private postpartum maternity suite.  The suites seemed so much like a hotel room, that I actually kept forgetting I was in a hospital.  In my dazed and confused state, I kept thinking Jeff and I were in a hotel room on vacation somewhere, but for some reason, my body hurt, we were sleep deprived, and there was a newborn baby bumming it in our room.  =)



The happy family

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Maternity Photo Session - Update

As you remember from my last post, we had some maternity photos taken and I put up a sneak preview of the photos.
I just got my hands on the actual photos so I uploaded my favorites to Picasa (with decent resolution for your viewing and downloading pleasure).

Maternity Photo Session

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Maternity Photo Session

Three weeks ago, we did a maternity photo session with Nicole Loggins Photography.

I learned through one of my Meetup groups that this family photographer was looking to expand her portfolio into the maternity and newborn photos space.  I contacted her right away and signed up for both a complimentary maternity photo session and a newborn photo session (boy, I feel greedy. teehee).


I searched the internet for "maternity photos" to get an idea what I will be getting myself into.
After looking around, I was afraid we would end up doing something very naked, like this:

Or something very limber, like this:

Or something that included a gun, like this:

To our relief, the photographer, Nicole, only needed tasteful photos for her portfolio.  PHEW!

We did the outdoor photos at the nearby park, Cheviot Hills, and we did the indoor photos right inside our living room (she brought her portable photography studio.  It was very cool to see a studio get setup and broken down so easily!).
Nicole's photos look great and we felt very comfortable with her (not awkward at all!).  If you are in the Los Angeles area and looking for a family photographer, I recommend looking into her.  =)

To see a preview of our maternity photos, you can view it on her blog HERE.

The newborn photo session is next! 
The session will be held sometime within the first 7 days that the baby is born.  How exciting.