Sunday, March 21, 2010

Desert Bloom


Neil and I went out to the desert today so he could take some "before" photos. Enjoy!

 
 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

3D/4D

Well, thanks to those who weighed in on whether I should get the 3D ultrasound. My Dr. sent me to an imaging center where they made me a 20-min. video, switching between regular 2D ultrasound and 4D (live action) ultrasound. They also printed up some 3D stills (below). I feel bad -- I started to get bored during it, but come on, that's a long time to watch grainy, nondescript images on a screen.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it while I still have the choice, but Rosemay, you were right, they're really freaky looking!

And I'm kind of bummed she does not look cute at all! In fact, it looks like she only has FOUR TOES! I've been reminded that most babies look a little funny when they're born and that most 3D ultrasounds are not true reflections of how they'll eventually look -- they're smushed into a tiny space, after all. Click any image to enlarge, at your own risk.




She apparently likes to chill with her arm up beside her head and her foot under her chin.

And in even bigger news, literally and figuratively, I had these images done 10 days ago, on 3/10. At that time, both the ultrasound tech and my Dr. counseled us that according to their measurements, she already weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz. and would gain 1/2 to 3/4 lbs. a week until she is born!

Reminder: I'm due on Tues., 2 weeks from when that calculation was made.

Umm, so we're not going to think about what she might end up weighing at birth. But they did say her head and tummy are normal circumference, so that's a relief -- apparently she has really long legs and arms. Where'd that come from??

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ono Grindz

We went to L&L for plate lunches the other day. Oh my, it was soooo good! And way less greasy here than the one in Laie -- everything was made to order, none of that lo mein under a heating lamp.

Even so, L&L is one of those places, at least for me, that you can only go to once in a looong while -- when you are suddenly hit with a craving for it! So after we saw an L&L the other day, I started really jonesing for some chicken curry katsu. I am still really surprised how far L&L has spread on the mainland, I had no idea. And lucky that our paths crossed on this trip!


It was really fun to be in the restaurant, surrounded by foods and people from the islands. Yes, there were Polynesians there. There were posters on the wall for a hula sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines; photos of plumeria lei-wearing little hula girls performing in Waikiki; a calendar from Bank of Hawaii, etc. Hand-written posters under the marquee menu advertising that they have mana pua, poke, haupia, etc. And choke Hawaiian Sun drinks!


I couldn't decide between kalua pig or chicken curry katsu. Then the girl taking my order said, "You can always do half and half." Yess! Neil got the Spam and eggs. We may have to head back over there before this trip is done. You know, once we build up another craving.

Monday, March 15, 2010

People of Wal*Mart

We've all seen the People of Walmart site, right? Well, I snapped my own pic of some People the other night here in Mesa.
Just settin' up the ol' dish; settlin' in for the night.

I shouldn't make fun -- I don't even have cable at home, let alone on the road. Wait, I don't even own my own home. Or $180,000 motorhome. And Neil always mentions his dream of taking an Airstream trailer across the U.S., overnighting in Walmart parking lots since they allow that. So maybe this will be us one day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mom and Dad's October Trip to Buenos Aires

Five months ago my parents came to visit us in Buenos Aires. I never got around to posting the pics, and it's been rainy here in AZ, so let's check out sunny BA!

We took a bus tour of the city.

We stopped by the Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada. The President's offices are here, and the balcony made famous by Evita.

We went by the Art Deco-style Kavanagh building, once the tallest building in South America.
We saw some typical Argentine schoolboys in Recoleta.

We went to the famous Recoleta Cemetery.



We visited Eva "Evita" Peron's tomb there.


Throughout the cemetery, many of the tombs are like little rooms with doors and windows and the coffins right there visible inside.

We went down Avenida 9 de Julio, "the widest avenue in the world." As you can see, that's debatable, as it's broken up by medians. The obelisko is on this street (what looks like a smaller version of the Washington Monument).


We passed this modern archaeological site under a bridge. The billboard at the very far left has pictures of people who were "disappeared" during the Dirty War. I think the iron sculpture of figures going up the beam supporting the bridge has something to do with that. There are two archaeologists you can see in this pic who were working on the site. I think they may be recovering remains of people who were disappeared, but I'm not sure; I'm curious and need to find out more about what's going on here.

We saw this interesting bas relief in La Boca neighborhood.

At the end of our bus tour, we walked to one of my favorite places, Volta, for ice cream!!!

Then we walked to the Ambassador's residence so my parents could get a tour.


I was only four months pregnant here!

Detail of the engraving behind us in the picture above. I like the quote.



The banquet hall. I've been to a couple lunches here -- several leaves were taken out of the table for those events though!
We toured the gardens behind the residence.


Looking at the back of the residence.
The pool.

Back in our neighborhood that night, we walked a couple blocks to this great place that makes fresh pasta and sauces. They have a statue of Luciano Pavorotti in the window, naturally ... (?) so my Dad had to get a pic of my mom posing by him :)
It was a really fun trip, if I do say so myself!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gettin' My Craft On

I've made a few projects in my time here, which has been a lot of fun and reminds me how much I enjoy doing little domestic crafts.

Neil's sister Lisa (left) taught me how to make flower headbands for the baby girl. She has two little girls of her own who wear them and they're adorable. One of Neil's other sisters, Becky (right), has two boys including the one standing by Lisa. No headbands for them :(


Pardon my Glamour Shot here.

Neil bought me this monogram decoration on a trip he made to the States way back in Sept. I finally got around to making something out of it! It was originally painted white, but I bought a sheet of scrapbook paper to cover it, and with the help of my mother in law's craft supplies, painted it black, and Mod Podged the paper on it. I think it turned out really well!


At my baby shower, my dear friend Silvana gave me a gift with a beautiful, tiny card, handmade in Madagascar. I wanted to use it as a decoration for the baby's room so I brought it with me on this trip to find a frame for it. I found this one on clearance at a home decorating store! It's nice because if I ever take the card out, it's like a time capsule with a personal message to me and the baby inside.


I found these fabric scraps on clearance at another home decorating store, and I thought they were too pretty to pass up.
But I have no idea what I am going to do with them. There is enough to make one of those simple, gingerbread-man-with ears-shaped teddy bears that we learned to make in middle school home economics. Does anyone have any cute, clever ideas for what I could do with this fabric for a baby's room??

Future project: I got this frame at Target. It's big enough for a 3"x3" picture. I just thought it looked so cheery. I hope to put a picture of Neil, me and the baby in it for her room.

Tiny Dancer

Neil's youngest sister, Clara, just turned sweet 16. She is quite the dancer and is living my ballerina dreams! We went to her modern dance competition on Saturday. Here is a little clip of part of one of her performances. She's the one on the far left.

video

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Here and There

AJ reminded me of a post I've been meaning to write. After we arrived back in the States a few weeks ago, there were some things I definitely noticed about this place that are so different from Argentina:

- Leaving Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, I noticed all the cars around us on the freeway were shiny and new. Seriously, every car seemed to be 5 yrs old or newer.
- All the cars around us seemed to be on autopilot, smoothly driving in straight, almost pre-determined paths down the wide lanes of freeway asphalt. No crazy weaving, cutting off, lack of turn signals, etc.; no cars recklessly speeding past or others barely sputtering as we passed.
- Everything seemed clean, expansive and well maintained: the freeway, the desert beyond, the shopping centers visible off the exits.
- There is just so much room here, everything is spread out and big. I think the fact that it's Arizona is a factor, as things are much more cramped back in VA/DC.
- People are SO FRIENDLY here!!!! It is a widely known fact that Argentines (or at least Porteños (people of Buenos Aires)) have no concept of customer service. This is no secret; they openly admit it themselves. In contrast, I am really impressed being here and walking into a store, restaurant, etc. and being greeted and welcomed with a SMILE and asked if I need any help. WhaaT?!?! Nice! And then checked up on and receiving polite, helpful responses to any questions I might have.
- Which reminds me -- I don't feel paranoid driving or riding in a car. I don't have to lock the doors when I get in or hide my purse under the seat.

I never told you about this -- I like to paint a pretty picture of Buenos Aires, because it is 99% amazing. But petty theft, often with brandishing of firearms, is EXTREMELY common there. You have to lock your car doors and hide your purse, or you will definitely be targeted for robbery. "Smash and grab" robberies are really common: One day on my drive home from work down a main, 4-lane highway, I was at a stoplight and two guys on a moped, the classic smash and grab m.o., rode by slowly, between the lanes. The guy on the back was casually looking in the windows of the cars they passed. It immediately raised my suspicions. At the next stoplight, I heard a "CRASH!!!" sound coming from my right and then a woman screaming. I looked a couple lanes over and behind me, and there was a lady in a nice pearl-white SUV in a tug-of-war with the aforementioned moped passenger over her white designer purse. He had seen her alone in her car, apparently with her purse on the passenger seat and he had smashed her window to grab the purse. Cars all around us were honking their horns, but nobody got out; these guys likely have guns. The lady ended up wresting the purse from him, but he had her cell phone. He jumped on the back of the moped and while the light was still red, they sped to the front of the four lanes of cars and cut across all the lanes of traffic to turn left and get away up a side street. My last image of them was the guy on the back examining the cell phone with an evil, evil grin on his face. I was shaken and angry that those things happen and drivers are just like sitting ducks for these violent robbers. I was vigilant with safety and security measures before, but it made me more paranoid after. Many people have their windows tinted almost black so robbers can't see in; I am going to get that done to my car when we get back. You also have to watch for that kind of thing just walking down the street in certain areas. So it is nice being here where I can relax and let my guard down a bit.

- People here in AZ seem to have an obsession with the new: There are constantly new housing developments and shopping centers going up because people want a house that's newer than 5 or 10 years old. The sad thing is that there are a lot of shopping centers that look new and nice enough but that are vacant and abandoned because business has moved on to the newest, latest shopping center; the vacancies also show that the growth has exceeded its ability to be supported by the local economy. So it's sad seeing the effects of the economic situation here.
- You can hear a lot of variety on the radio station. I know ClearChannel is the Devil, but catchy pop beats are more fun and perilously addictive than all '80s, all the time, which is what you get in Buenos Aires.
- Stores have insane variety, quality and freshness of products. And good prices!
- I get bored at night because nothing is open late and there is nothing going on.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Taking Inventory

Well, I'm still here chillaxin' in AZ. I have a sniffly cold :( Maybe I shouldn't have been so proud when I scoffed at getting H1N1 or seasonal flu shots ... Nah, I made the right choice, I'm sure this is just a cold.

I laid out by the pool today to try to dry it up. You can't argue with 75 degrees and not a cloud in the blue, blue sky. I got in the pool and moved around too, which felt good. And we just took a walk down to the In-N-Out Burger for dinner. Well, that was around 5:00, and I know I'll have to eat again before I go to bed. Neil is teasing me that I'm eating "fourthmeal," which is a concept I find disgusting that Taco Bell is using in their advertising. Anyway, I have an excuse, right?

We have borrowed a lot of things from Neil's sisters to use for the baby during our stay here. And we have TONS of baby clothes and blankets. We took a couple of childbirth classes, so I think we're as armed as we can be there.

I still have a nagging list of things we need/want to get for now and/or ship home:
Our own (not borrowed) infant car seat, a cute car seat cover, a regular car seat? or get it later?, a B.O.B. stroller, B.O.B. infant car seat adapter, cloth diapers, Noggin Nest (don't want a flat head, do we?), an iPod and dock for relaxation music in the hospital (no, we don't already have these! Sorry Dad, my iPod and dock from 2004 died long ago :(

Oh yeah, and a name. We don't have a name yet for this little girl. Sure, we have ideas, but nothing solid. Hmm.

Three weeks till the due date, but I am hoping to go over. Come on baby, I've got a good thing going here out by the pool, don't cut it short! ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Road Trip: Las Vegas

We went to visit our friends in Las Vegas and I saw the Strip for the first time!

We left the hotel parking lot, filled with anticipation :)

And drove through a lot of desert.



We crossed the Hoover Dam, but we didn't stop, I just snapped pictures from the car.



They're constructing a new bridge.

We finally arrived in Las Vegas!!!


We went to Caesars Palace.

All the hotels had been elaborately decorated for Chinese New Year (Feb. 14).







We went to the Bellagio, which was my one must-see in Las Vegas. Ever since I saw Ocean's Eleven, I've wanted to see the magnificent, choreographed fountain in front and the glass flowers on the lobby ceiling!

video




The Bellagios's atrium was filled with live orchids, trees, lanterns, etc. to celebrate Chinese New Year.


Our gracious hosts and friends, Collin and Rosemay.

See the little panda on the bamboo?


After the Bellagio we went across the street and had dessert crêpes in "Paris."