Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Holidays

Whenever there's a federal holiday, panic sets in. But it's not for the reason you're thinking of, it's because stores are either closed or have limited hours. So the day before a holiday, I find myself in grocery stores frantically stocking up on food we probably don't need because, God-forbid, the store might be closed for one stinkin' day! My year abroad in Germany is the most likely origin of this irrational fear. In Goettingen, where I lived and is true for most parts of Germany except maybe Berlin, most stores were closed on Sundays, including grocery stores.

This meant that my friends and I had to stock up enough food before Sunday in order to make it through the day, or else we'd have to eat out. And if you were a poor planner, or if you had just returned from a weekend getaway from another part of western Europe (which was often the case for us), we were stuck with nothing to eat or else a pastry from the one bakery that is open on Sundays (but only 'til 4pm). But I grew up in America, where stores open from 4am to midnight the day after Thanksgiving, and where you can count on places like McDonald's and Walgreens to be open on holidays. Capitalism at its finest, America is the land of 24-hour fast food chains, drive-through windows, take-out and delivery, and everything that is fast and convenient. No matter which holiday it is, someone is always working. Is this good for society and boosting family values? That's a topic for another blog, but I know I can't live without it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Is it too soon to blog about Thanksgiving if there are still 6 hours left in the holiday? This year, we ordered a Thanksgiving meal for a party of two to-go from Salty's (see menu). In my opinion, this was the best to-go menu thus far. In previous years, we have ordered menus from Marco's Cafe, New Seasons, and dined in at Huber's. Out of all of the aforementioned places, Salty's is the best thus far!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Free Time

One of the advantages of being a student is that you have a flexible schedule (i.e. you don't have to work 9-5). One of the disadvantages, on the other hand, is that you end up working more hours than the traditional 8-hour days (and obviously the lack of a paycheck also). Law school has been a busy time for us, but I find that in every semester, there are "pockets" of free time for us to enjoy. For example, I don't have any classes before 2:30pm so that I can spend my mornings with Nicole. This semester, Thursdays has been special for us as a family because Tom only has 2 classes on Thursdays and the first one starts at 2pm. As a result, we have really taken advantage of Thursdays to "sleep in" (baby permitting), run errands, go out for breakfast or lunch, and just being a cute little family together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Alright, now that SATC sequel is coming out, I can't hold this in any longer. Granted, most characters and scenarios in movies and TV are completely implausible, but Carrie Bradshaw's character is especially ridiculous. For example, in my latest Us Weekly, Carrie is depicted wearing a $435 Halston Heritage cocktail dress, Jee Vice's $170 Heated shades, a $865 Christian Louboutin's heels, and a $1,795 hobo bag. That is a total of $3,265 for ONE outfit, not counting the jewelry she has on!

Two theories on how she can afford her clothes: First, since she's now married to Mr. Big, who is suppose to be this uber-rich real estate developer, I guess her expensive ensemble is somewhat plausible, but the problem with this theory is that Carrie wore these classy coutures before she married him (and his money). Second, Carrie is able to afford all this apparel, as well as her mortgage on her Manhattan digs, on her weekly newspaper column. Unlikely. According to one internet source, weekly columnists get paid $75 per article, or $200 per week. Aside from the discrepancy between her supposed salary and her spendthrift ways, her column sucks. You couldn't even pay me to read her column (if it were real)! Have you ever noticed how each of her articles begin with a question that the show never answers? Stupid questions too, like, is the thirties really the new twenties? Or are men like dogs?

But will I still pay good money to see SATC II? Most definitely.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A collection of 3 random thoughts

So I thought I'd be supermom. Much to my dismay, I am not. I thought even with a baby, I'd have a spic-and-span house, a pie in the oven, and still have time for all my hobbies. I do not have any of these things, but I do have a healthy, beautiful daughter who is growing like a weed!

After "Vicky Christina Barcelona," I've finally made up my mind that I do not like Woody Allen films and I think I've figured out why. All of his female characters are these sexy bimbos who are easy to bed and otherwise weak in constitution of any sort. Obviously, the Academy Awards disagree with me, but I don't think we need to recognize Allen for his misogynistic movies.

I love eating lunch at Whole Foods (or similar gourmet grocery stores) because I love picnic-y type foods where I have the opportunity to sample a little of this and a little of that.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Our daily bread

Until recently, Tom and I have rarely agreed on bread. He prefers generic butter top wheat bread and my tastes are, well, fickle. One week I'd prefer rye, next week sourdough. But for now, it seems that we can finally come to an agreement thanks to Dave's Killer bread, a local bakery whose bread is yummy and nutritious. Even though I pay more for a loaf of Dave's Killer bread than I have ever paid for any other loaf, Dave's bread is worth every penny. Tom enjoys the freshness of the bread, made without any additives or preservatives, and I enjoy its nuttiness and seediness. Not only is his bread delicious, I can also feel good about supporting my local business. An added bonus is Dave's amazing and inspirational story about how he turned his life around after battles with meth addiction and spending 15 years in jail. Check out his bread and his website at: If you have not tried his bread, I strongly urge you to go out and buy a loaf - you'll love it!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Take Out

This has been a take-out sort of week. Between the intensity of my summer school class and taking care of Nicole in the mornings, there has been little time for me to cook dinner, much less anything else! Given the current heat wave, who would want to turn on the stove or oven anyway? (Tom does not eat salads either.) So we have been doing a lot of take-out lately, which, although they taste good is unfortunately not that good for you. Tom has been supportive in this regard by going out to pick up the food and picking up the tab. Here is what we had this week:

Wednesday - Panda Express
Thursday - Sweet Tomatoes (dine-in with coupon)
Friday - Red Robin
Saturday - McDonald's for breakfast and Old Market Pub for dinner

My mom will be here tomorrow and eating out for 3 will definitely be a lot more pricey than eating out for 2, so I finally dragged my butt to the grocery store and now our fridge is fully stocked with meals planned for every day this week. =)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Cupertino Inn

We recently had an occasion to stay at the Cupertino Inn in Cupertino, CA, right across the street from Apple headquarters (just a coincidence). Here's the thing about me: I have a fetish for hotels. The fancier the better. To me, hotels represent a true vacation. With swimming pools, an exercise room, room service, wi-fi internet, cable TV, a big bed, VCR with a movie library, a refreshment center, and AC, it's hard not to feel pampered and care-free. Staying at hotels also means that I'm not staying at home, which means I'm not surrounded by my usual environs of house chores and endless to-do lists.

Some hotels go above and beyond its usual call of duty and I would list the Cupertino Inn as one of them. Although it's rough on the exterior, caters mainly to business travelers, and one could see that the hotel was at its prime in the late 70's or early 80's at best, the Cupertino Inn had other amenities that make up for its shortcomings. Free food always wins me over. For example, its hot breakfast buffet is quite excellent. With its daily offering of waffles, cereals, juices, eggs, meats, pastries, toasts, fruits, coffee and tea, the breakfast bar is sure a crowd pleaser.

The best part, though, has to be its complimentary cocktail and hors d'oeuvres hour from 5-7pm daily. Do I need to say more than FREE cocktails? Unfortunately, my breastfeeding regime sort of put a curb to my alcohol consumption, but I did partake in some hot potato skins, taquitos, mini-pizza, cheese and crackers, veggie dips, and fruit. I also liked that the Cupertino Inn had a hot coffee and tea bar available 24/hrs a day. Oh and did I mention that they also have a complimentary limo service that takes guests to the airport?

I am also looking forward to our next vacation in mid-August and hotel stay at the fancy-pants Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver, BC, which is offering us a free crib, mini-fridge, and much much more! See:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Woes of Breastfeeding

By now, I could probably write a whole book on all of our breastfeeding woes. From the get-go, Nicole did not have a good latch. For example, she would only suck on the nipple, rather than the areola. A nurse introduced the nipple shield to help her better identify the nipple, which we are still using. Also, no one at the hospital emphasized the importance of breastfeeding right after birth which delayed my milk production. By Day 3, my milk still hadn't come in yet and Nicole was hungry so we started giving her some formula in a bottle. It is one of the worst feelings in the world when you know you can't feed your child.

By the time we checked out of the hospital, Nicole was 11% down from her birth weight (normal is 7-10%). We were told to supplement with formula and after a week, she had regained some weight she lost and was now only 5% down from her birth weight. We saw our first lactation consultant at this time and she basically scared us with childhood obesity and diabetes and told us to stop supplementing Nicole, which we did. The week following that was hard, because Nicole cried a lot and nothing we did calmed her. She would only stop crying after she had worn herself out. We saw another lactation consultant, who told us that Nicole was crying because she was hungry. Even though I was breastfeeding her 8-12 times a day, she wasn't getting enough from me. So, we went back to formula. To this day, we still feel incredibly guilty for not recognizing her hungry cries and under-feeding our poor girl!

Our next problem was that because Nicole was going back and forth between the bottle and the breast, Nicole struggled at the breast because she wasn't getting the "flow" that she liked. So, we went back to see another lactation consultant who taught me how to pump properly in order to increase my milk production. Things were going pretty well for a while and we checked in with another lactation consultant who prescribed Fenugreek - this herb that is suppose to increase mother's milk.

Our next challenge was getting Nicole to stop being a snacker (i.e. eating every 2 hours which was exhausting for me and my breasts) and being a more efficient eater. So we saw Kathleen, my favorite lactation consultant who is from Texas and who watches out for my best interest as well as Nicole's. She suggested a "Sane Plan" where we feed her 3 oz. every 3 hours. I still pump almost after every feeding and we are still supplementing with formula with the hopes that my milk production will eventually catch up.

So, 4 lactation consultants and 5 appointments later, our most urgent breastfeeding concerns are behind us but things still aren't smooth sailing. So stay tuned!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Birth Plan

Mama makes a birth plan and Baby laughs.

My birth of Nicole did not go as planned, to say the least. I had envisioned a natural birth, with the least amount of medical intervention as possible, even though I planned to give birth in the hospital with a doctor. I had also imagined that it would be a lot of hard work, but beautiful in the end and very worth it. The latter part was true enough, but the process was very different than the one I planned on.

My water broke at 4:30am on Saturday, May 2nd when I was in the kitchen, fetching a snack. After I woke Tom up, I called the hospital right away. The nurse said to make my way to the hospital in a few hours. After cleaning the house, grabbing breakfast at McDonald's, a decaf mocha from Dutch Bros, grabbing some last minute items such as snacks and tennis balls at Target, and taking a short nap, we checked in to OHSU around 9:30am.

After hooking me up to the baby monitor to make sure that baby's heartbeat was regular, the doctors checked to see if my bag o' water was indeed broken. Apparently a lot of women leak urine and mistake it for amniotic fluid. Unfortunately they weren't certain the first time they checked, so after a few hours they checked again to confirmed that yes, it was indeed broken. One unnamed doctor also checked my cervix (in a not-so-gently-way) and I was only 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated.

Now that my water was broken, the conversation turned to whether or not I wanted to start Pitocin, which I absolutely did not want to do because it interferes with your body's natural ability to cope with labor pains. I was more or less badgered into starting Pitocin, however, because my body did not start contractions on its own after my water had broken and there is an increased chance of infection for mom and baby if baby is not delivered within 24-hours after the water is broken.

I started Pitocin at 4:30pm and ended at 5am the next day (my highest dosage was about 60 ml) and was very frustrated upon finding out that after all that, I had only dilated to 2cm and 80% effaced. The doctors decided to let me rest and eat some breakfast while they pow-wowed on what to do with me next. The options weren't too good, in my opinion, complicated by the fact that I was Group B Strep (GBS) positive. The options were: 1) continue labor with Pitocin, except this time, the doctors were prepared to give me the full dosage. In addition, they would insert an intrauterine pressure catheter (IUPC) which would measure the adequacy of my contractions for at least 2 hours. If my contractions weren't "adequate," I would have a C-section (due to the amount of time that will have passed since my water broke). The risks associated with this option is fetal distress and a risk of infection to baby and me. My second option was an elective C-section and the downside of that is of course the longer recovery process.

I chose the latter option, because I felt like I had already gone through an entire night of labor and I didn't want to go through that again. Also, there was no guarantee that the first option would work, which would result in a C-section anyway with now an increased risk to baby. At the time of the C-section, I was only 3 cm dilated. Aside from the injection of the spinal block, which kind of stung, the C-section itself was not too bad and it was such a joy to hear my baby's first cry after what seemed like 10 minutes of doctors poking around. The worst part of the whole hospital experience, in my opinion, was the administration of IV penicillin through the hand. That hurt like a b****.

I can't say I wasn't disappointed or bitter about the whole experience. Tom asked me, knowing what I know now, what I would change. I wish I had the courage to let my body do its own thing, but I could not have known that everything would turn out ok and that the baby would be fine. In the end, we got a healthy and beautiful baby girl, which is all that any parent can ask for really, but I do hope that my next birth goes more smoothly.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Why I Love Powell's Books

The short answer is: because they buy back my books and cash in my hot little hands always make me super happy.

When Tom and I first met, we use to buy our books from Barnes & Noble because we had a B&N card which saved us 10% on each purchase. And when that ran out after a year, we bought our books from Costco. Then when we got married, we registered for a few books on and had been recycling the store credit from the registry ever since. In the summer of 2007, we did a massive overhaul of our stuff and sold about $400 worth of books to Powell's. Most of the big ticket items were Tom's fantasy and sci-fi books in paperback and we donated the rest to Oregon Women Lawyers (OWLS).

In an effort to make *more* room for the baby, I recently cleared out all of my German literature books. These are the ones I kept from college with the intention of going back to the language or picking up a German poetry book to read one day when I had free time (ha!). Ten years passed and I did not once open up these books. I really didn't think Powell's was going to buy them back, but to my surprise, they bought all but two. I was able to exchange this one box of books for $47 cash or $57 in store credit. I opted for store credit this time and exchanged it for "Healthy Sleeping Habits," "Baby Bargain Books," and "Lonely Planet's Alaska" (2009). A box of books that had been sitting on my shelf for 3 books on my wish list, plus $10 store credit? Not a bad trade-off I say!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Baby Showers

I know that some women have 4-5 showers. I..ahem...only had 3 and each one was different from the other and fabulous. Our first shower was in Texas (in January 2009), hosted by Tom's mom, and attended by most of Tom's family. Mary and Aunt Abby spent days decorating, cleaning, shopping, planning, and preparing for the shower. We really appreciate all of their hard work as the shower was a hit! Mary had this great idea of posting everyone's baby pictures on the wall and participants had to guess whose baby picture it was. I have to say...that was quite a challenging game!

Our second shower was in the Bay Area (in March 2009), hosted by mom and Helmut, where mostly our friends attended. The shower was held at Chef Yu's, a Chinese restaurant in Sunnyvale. Mom decorated our private room with baby items she knit, such as a baby sweater, teddy bear, and mobile. She also used her knit balls to decorate the table and gave them away to guests with children or those who are expecting. We ordered a half sheet of cake from a Chinese bakery that was quite yummy!

Our last and final shower was held in Portland (in April), where most of my female friends from law school attended. The theme was ducks, and yellow and white. I made a Caesar salad, a fruit salad, pesto penne pasta salad, veggie tray, and Is it really better than sex? cake using Paula Deen's recipe. I also ordered tea sandwiches and a dessert tray from Grand Central Bakery and served iced tea, lemonade, coffee, and water. The party favors were lemon-scented, duck-shaped soap with a Stampin' Up! image on the outside (of course) and we played 5 different games (oh my!).  

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Bay Area

I am reminded every time I come back to the Bay Area just how big the Bay Area really is. I can only imagine how its geographic giantity would stump those who've never been here. For example, yesterday I drove from Sunnyvale to Sonoma and back, covering over 200 miles in 1 day and neither of those destinations are considered the "tip" or the "edge" of the Bay Area. Having lived in Oregon for the last 3 years, I now consider a drive from Portland to Salem (45 min.) to be "far," and from Portland to Eugene (approx. 2 hours) to be a bona fide road trip.

In addition to its titanic territory, I am also reminded of how many people live here. Adding 1 hour to google map's estimates results in a more accurate travel time on account of the traffic. There are people everywhere - no matter what day it is or what time it is or which direction you're going- you will always get stuck in certain trouble spots. And of course, there are great reasons for living here as well, which explains the plentiful population - it's hard to beat world culture at your fingertips with nearly perfect weather all year round.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

3rd Trimester

Long gone is the "Golden Trimester," or more commonly referred to as the 2nd trimester. Now that I'm in my 3rd trimester, my recent list of complaints to my doctor includes back aches, hip aches, swollen feet, breathlessness, fatigue, acid reflux, and having trouble bending over to do anything! Ah, but in exchange, I got a big belly (this is very Faust-esque).

In mid-January, my doctor thought that I was measuring small (height of fundus), so she ordered an extra ultrasound just to make sure that the baby had enough amniotic fluid. The ultrasound revealed that my fluids were normal and that the baby was growing well. It was probably just a fluke that I measured small that one time - the baby could have been laying sideways.

At the end of January, not one, but TWO strangers asked me on the same day when I was due. I was so elated that I had tears in my eyes. Finally, someone had recognized that I was carrying a human being, rather than some junk in my trunk. If you'd look at me now, there's no denying it.

In February I did a glucose screening test to check for gestational diabetes. My doctor told me that my sugar and blood count looked good. In addition to a rotund belly, I can feel the baby move all the time. Like most fetuses, she's very active in the evening, right before I'm going to bed, and not-so-active in the mornings. I check her movement pretty regularly, especially after I eat something. It seems as if my left hand is permanently planted on the left side of my belly, where I tend to feel most of her movements. I think she also recognizes her dad's voice. The other day her daddy was singing an old country song to her with his hands on my belly and she gave him a nice strong kick. Oh baby, we love you so much already - we can't wait to meet you!

A couple of weeks ago, Tom and I also took a tour of the Family Birth Center at OHSU and we will be taking a weekend-long Childbirth class next week. I am also in the process of interviewing potential doulas and mom has booked her plane ticket out for the baby's birth. Uncle Rob & Aunt Marian's stroller and carseat (a baby shower gift to us) has recently arrived, and Tom's parents are looking to fly out here at the end of May. Things are shaping up in anticipation of the little one!

2nd Trimester

In November, I announced I was 3-months pregnant. Now I think it's only fair that I give my readers an update on my pregnancy. In mid-November my doctor did a "Quad Screen," a test that checks for neural tube defect in the fetus, including Down syndrome, and the test came back negative.  

My next appointment in December was on the one of the iciest days in Portland. Tom and I managed to get to the doctor's office and back on the bus but it took us about 3 hours! Well, it was a good thing we did though because we found out that we were having a little girl!!! Our parents, Tom's mom especially, could not have been more elated.

The rest of the 2nd trimester passed without much fuss. It really wasn't until the end of December that I started to feel the baby move, which was absolutely magical. In New Orleans, where we celebrated New Years, the baby was particularly active after some powdered-sugar beignets and chicory-flavored cafe au laits!  

Another noteworthy event - Mary (Tom's mom) threw us our first baby shower in Texas, where nearly all of Tom's relatives attended, including one of Tom's aunt from Alaska. It was an all-day affair and Mary really went above and beyond herself. We truly enjoyed ourselves.

My only complaint about the 2nd trimester was that I felt extremely chubby, but otherwise I did not feel physically prohibited. People who knew I was expecting could tell that I was pregnant, but I was dying for a stranger to ask me when I was due. I can tell you now...I didn't have to wait too long!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Grocery Shopping

The weekly grocery shopping trip is a chore I dread. But, it must be done as we gotta eat. I usually put off this tiresome task until Sunday, the day before the work week begins. I find that if I don't do it on Sunday, then it never gets done and my Saturdays are strictly reserved for "fun." My sojourn begins with Trader Joe's, where I like to buy our meats and other novel items such as marinara sauce, canned sardines, nuts, rice, and the like. I do not, however, buy our produce there as it sucks!

I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Winco, which is sooooooo cheap it's ridiculous. With the exception of meat and some gourmet items, Winco has everything you need. Unless you are shopping for a family of 10, Winco meats are enormous. The bad thing about Winco is that it is always crowded and there is really no good time to shop. If you go real early on Sunday morning, you run into employees with flat-bed trucks who are stocking items and blocking the aisle. If you go any other time of the week, you run into retirees and stay-at-home moms with their screaming kids. And if you go Sunday afternoon, well, be prepared to see everyone you know and their mothers there. So far, I've narrowed down a "decent" time to go and that is Sunday between 8:30-9:00am, for all of us sacrilegious folks. 

I occasionally do my shopping at Lamb's Thriftway (located conveniently across the street from our house but too pricey compared to Winco) for any last minute items I may have forgotten, or else New Seasons. I love New Seasons - it's like a gourmet foodie heaven there. But honestly, who in the world can afford to shop there regularly? Once I bought ingredients there for ONE meal for a party of four and it costed me $90 dollars. Ridiculous! However, having said that, I appreciate the wide variety of Brown Cow yogurt they sell there as well as their meats and breads. We also once ordered an enjoyable turkey dinner for two for Thanksgiving there and it worked out well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NOLA - Day 4

We began our last day in N'Orleans with breakfast at the hotel and packing our luggage afterwards. Then we strolled along Canal street while stopping at Starbucks to get a cold drink (decaf for me). We were both surprised at how hot the weather had gotten and the streets were littered with Utah and Alabama fans here for the Sugar Bowl. I thought we'd give Central Grocery Co. a third try since the store was closed the two previous times we visited. This time, it was open. We stood in a long line in order get a large muffuletta sandwich (pictured). 

We then walked along Esplande avenue hoping to catch the bus to the City Park. No bus came, so we finally waved down a taxi. The taxi driver drove us to a nice shady spot in the park and we ate our sandwiches and chips there. The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) had free admission until Jan. 18 for a special exhibit they were doing, so we were able to take advantage of the nice strong air condition they had while enjoying some art too. ;-) The best part was the free museum shuttle, which dropped us off blocks away from our hotel. I should mention here that we had the best experience at our hotel - the Quality Inn. They extended our check-out time to 2:30pm and were always so friendly and helpful to us. It is fitting that our little vacation should end the same way it began - a bus ride back to the airport.

Friday, January 2, 2009

NOLA - Day 3

Happy New Year!  Tom and I spent our New Years watching The Terminator and Tom's first Law & Order. I congratulated myself for staying up past midnight. On New Years day, we had jazz brunch reservations at Court of Two Sisters (pictured), a restaurant a classmate of ours recommended. They had over 60 hot and cold dishes with live jazz music playing in the background. 

After breakfast, we headed back to our hotel and did some laundry (romantic, no?). Due to some circumstances not within our control, we did not take a cruise on the Steamboat Natchez like I had planned. Everyone, it seemed, is in town for the Sugar Bowl, which resulted in crowded streets and tortoise-like lines that formed everywhere. We didn't do much for the rest of the afternoon except nap and going to Cafe du Monde for the third time (!!!).