Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:03 pm

A bizarre little IM conversation I just had with a total stranger:

downhereatyourfeet: hello up there 4:55

Aprille: um…hi. 4:55

downhereatyourfeet: *waves up to you* 4:56

Aprille: you must be very short. 4:56

downhereatyourfeet: the size of your big toe, in fact. so please dont step on me. 4:56

Aprille: i’m sure you’re a lovely person, but i’m going to be honest with you: it’s 4:58 and it’s been a really long week and I’m just wanting to go home, not deal with somebody being cute. 4:58

downhereatyourfeet: well, feel free to put me in your purse and take me along 4:59


August mosaic

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:49 pm

Here’s the August installation of the 365 Days of Self Portraits project.  I can’t believe I’ve already finished month 8 of 12.  Once it’s over, I hope I stay in the habit of taking pictures every day, but it will be refreshing to focus on new subjects.  Maybe I’ll do Bisquito’s First 365 Days (presumably Bisquito will by then have a real name).

Anyway, this month was all about zombie body parts and vegetables.  Click the mosaic to see the individual photos.



Styx is rude

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:12 pm


Why does Styx have such ‘tude about technology? In one line they’re saying ” Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto / For doing the jobs that nobody wants to / And thank you very much, Mr. Roboto / For helping me escape just when I needed to” and the next thing you know they’re saying “The problem’s plain to see / Too much technology.”

Doesn’t sound like such a problem to me, Mr. Styx.

I broke off part of my toenail again. So stupid.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:11 pm

I am delighted about the sushi place that opened right downstairs from my office.  I’m not supposed to eat raw fish while preg (although that’s suspect—Japanese women do it at all the time and Japanese people are better than us in most ways).  Fortunately, the place has some non-raw options beyond boring California rolls.  My current favorite is the shrimp tempura roll.  Their miso soup is also really good and only $1 USD.  I look forward to a post-pregnancy visit when I can stuff my face with sashimi.  Yum yum.

It looks like it’s going to be a gorgeous weekend, which is nice because my parents are having their annual Labor Day weekend patio party.  My dad, who is a homebrewer, provides interesting beers for the occasion.  I plan to smell them.  I think it’s rained the last couple of years, which put a damper on attendance and joviality.

I have a date tonight, dinner and drinks (artisanal root beer for me, I’m guessing) with this cute guy.  I’ll dish about it tomorrow.


Moons over My Hammy

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:31 pm

Whooo, it’s been a long day.  It seems like I’m on about 35 committees and subteams at work, as well as leading my own team, co-leading a major project, and the usual beginning-of-semester craziness.

If I worked in the private sector (grumble grumble argle bargle) I’d make more money for this stuff.  Of course I’d probably also have to work this hard all the time instead of just some of the time, and I’d get less vacation.

The highlight of my day:  John, Darah, and baby Guthrie (aka Gus) gave us a really cute little baby shirt.  It’s so small, empirically, yet so big to imagine that the hand-sized person in me could one day fit into it.  Darah has been a great source of advice and reading material thus far, and now she’s gone and given us a gift.  What a peach.


I write the songs that make the whole world sing.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:21 pm

I had the coolest dream last night:  I dreamed I had actually written the last two Harry Potter books.  They were still marketed under J.K. Rowling’s name, but she’d hired me to do it because she didn’t have time or something.  I remember thinking, “Now I’ll know who my true friends are and who just wants to hang out with me because I’m incredibly rich.”

Chances are I got screwed in some one-time payment thing anyway, though.

Also, that thought was illogical, because if anything, it would be more difficult to know who my true friends were.


Fungus Walk 2007

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:15 am

The weather was so, so gorgeous this weekend. We had all the windows open and went out for a gentle hike around the Coralville Reservoir on Saturday. The downside is that my allergies are absolutely nuts, and the only thing I can take is Benadryl. That is good for sneezing and stuff, but it also makes me really drowsy, so I can’t very well take it during the day. It also doesn’t do anything for congestion. If anybody knows of a decongestant that’s safe for pregnancy, let me know. Everything I’ve found says it’s category C, which means don’t take it unless it’s really, really necessary.

Wait…isn’t Robitussin supposed to be okay? I’ll check on that. UPDATE: ixnay on the obitussinRay. “Studies on animals show adverse effect and toxicity on fetus.” Stupid animals, ruining it for everybody.

So anyway, it’s rained so much lately that the woods were really fungusy. Maybe you think that’s gross, but it was quite beautiful.

This is us, in case you didn’t know.


More fungus

My little slug friend

It was fun. We also went out to dinner on Saturday night with Jamal and Alyssa, and the smell of my crab curry was oozing out my pores for a good 24 hours after that. After dinner we saw Superbad, which was quite funny, and the acting was really good.

I was going to say something about par, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it make sense. I don’t know much about golf, but if you go below par, that’s good, right? But when you say something is subpar, that’s bad.

It reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Pierre, the sexy bowling instructor, is trying to make it with Marge. Psyching himself up in the mirror, he said (in a French accent of course), “You’re really going to strike out tonight!’


Stinky stinky

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:57 pm

Another thing that happened at the clinic today:

I was waiting outside the phlebotomy room (haha, my spellcheck doesn’t recognize “phlebotomy” and thinks I mean “lobotomy”) for my AFP blood draw. That’s a test that measures a certain fetal protein that’s present in my blood, and abnormal levels of it can mean an increased likelihood of certain birth defects. Anyway, the person in there before me was taking forever, and they had to bring in a specialized stabbing person to get it.

Then she came out, but I couldn’t go in yet because they were still dealing with her issues. Apparently she hadn’t peed enough into the cup, either. That woman must have been really low on fluids.

Also, she had some really serious personal odor problems. When they came out, she was standing right in front of me. I had to put my lap request form in front of my face because it was bothering me so much (pregnancy ups your smelling skills). I felt bad for her that they were discussing her personal medical issues, of which there were many, out in front of everybody. I also felt bad for her that she smelled. Maybe the water doesn’t work in her home, so she couldn’t shower or drink anything. Or maybe she was just gross. I don’t know. I was trying not to be judgmental, but it was tough.

When it was my turn, I went in and started to close the door behind me, but the phlebotomist said “Leave the door open. Please.” Yes, the smell was lingering.

People in the medical profession sure deal with a lot of disgusting stuff, and the nurses and nursing assistants don’t even get paid super-well for it. They spend a lot more time around the grossness than doctors do, too.

They work hard for the money, yo.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:49 pm

We had another midwife appointment today. It was good—we got to hear Bisquito’s heartbeat again, which wasn’t quite as emotionally stirring as it was last time, but it was reassuring to hear that everything seems okay in there. Supposedly I’m going to start feeling him/her move some time in the next couple of weeks, but I haven’t yet (it’s common in first pregnancies not to feel it until later), so the heartbeat was good news.

It took a little longer to find the heartbeat this time; the midwife said it’s because at this stage, they’re small but mobile, so sometimes they wiggle away from the doppler. In fact, at one point she heard a noise that she said was probably the baby moving. The heartrate was 153 bpm, which is in the normal range. It’s a little down from last time, but that’s expected because the baby is bigger now.

We scheduled an ultrasound for about 3 weeks from now, which is exciting. I think Bisquito will be big enough by then to look basically anthropomorphic. We didn’t have an early ultrasound (when he/she would have looked like one of the aliens from Mars Attacks!) because I’m low risk and we were pretty sure of the important dates. I’d been charting, see (taking my temperature every morning to look for the tell-tale temperature rise that indicates fertility).

Charting was fun. I made some interesting graphs in Excel. (Un)Fortunately, it didn’t take us very long to get pregnant, so I only got to chart for two months. The other day, I said to Denny, “I’m kind of sad in a way that I only got two months’ worth of data.”

He said, “I love you for saying that.”


Spam thinks I’m fancy

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:58 am

I got some targeted spam today.  I should share it with my boss; it sounds like I need a raise.

“If you are like most campus IT executives, the next several days will place significant pressure on your support operations.”

Lah-dee-dah!  I’m an IT executive!  And to think, I don’t even have an office.


16 weeks

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:22 am

I woke up this morning feeling different.

It’s my 16th week anniversary of pregnancy today, and for the first time, when I rubbed my belly, it felt like there was something going on in there rather than the general chubbiness I’ve been feeling for the last month or so.  My lower belly felt firmer and more definitely round, not just squishy.

According to one of my books (which might as well be called Things for You to Worry About During Pregnancy), I’m supposed to stop lying on my back at this point, which includes sleeping, reading, and tv-watching, all of which I often do on my back.  Apparently it can squash the vena cava and reduce oxygen flow to Bisquito.  I went to sleep last night on my side,  but as usual, I woke up on my back.

I’m not too concerned about it.  I’ve heard it can become uncomfortable to lie on one’s back later in pregnancy, just because of the sheer weight of one’s massive abdomen, but I’m not at that point yet.  I figure if it feels comfortable and natural to lie on my back at this point, it has probably felt natural and comfortable for women for thousands of years.  Since we still have a species and everything, it can’t be too awful.

As of today, Bisqui has all his/her major organs, eyebrows, fingernails, and can pee.  It’s weird to think of something peeing in me.  He/she is about the size of an avocado.  My friend’s mom once told me she dreamed she gave birth to a giant hamburger.  If I don’t stop hearing these food analogies, it might just happen.


Pablo Neruda is everyone’s favorite poet, but it’s for a good reason.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:11 am
Oda al tomate

by Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

La calle
se llenó de tomates,
la luz
se parte
en dos
de tomate,
por las calles
el jugo.
En diciembre
se desata
el tomate,
las cocinas,
entra por los almuerzos,
se sienta
en los aparadores,
entre los vasos,
las matequilleras,
los saleros azules.
luz propia,
majestad benigna.
Debemos, por desgracia,
se hunde
el cuchillo
en su pulpa viviente,
es una roja
un sol
llena las ensaladas
de Chile,
se casa alegremente
con la clara cebolla,
y para celebrarlo
se deja
esencial del olivo,
sobre sus hemisferios entreabiertos,
la pimienta
su fragancia,
la sal su magnetismo:
son las bodas
del día
el perejil
las papas
hierven vigorosamente,
el asado
con su aroma
en la puerta,
es hora!
y sobre
la mesa, en la cintura
del verano,
el tomate,
astro de tierra,
y fecunda,
nos muestra
sus circunvoluciones,
sus canales,
la insigne plenitud
y la abundancia
sin hueso,
sin coraza,
sin escamas ni espinas,
nos entrega
el regalo
de su color fogoso
y la totalidad de su frescura

Ode to the Tomato

(translated by yours truly)

The street
filled with tomatoes,
the light
like a tomato,
the juice
through the streets.
In December
the tomato
unleashes itself,
it invades
it enters through lunches,
it sits
on countertops,
among the glasses,
the butter dishes,
the blue salt shakers.
It has
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it.
The knife
into its living pulp,
it is a red
a cool
it fills the salads
of Chile,
it happily marries
the pale onion,
and to celebrate,
we drip
the essential
child of the olive tree,
onto its split hemispheres,
the pepper
its fragrance,
salt its magnetism:
they are the weddings
of the day
the parsley
boil vigorously,
the roast
on the door
with its aroma,
it’s time!
let’s go!
and on
the table, the waistline
of summer,
the tomato,
and repeating
shows us
its twists,
its canals,
its elegant plenty
and abundance
no leaves or thorns
it hands us
the gift
of its fiery color
and its utter cool.

If you’re wondering why he says December and not August, it’s because he lived in a different hemisphere.


Stuff I cooked

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:57 am

I feel like I spent all weekend cooking. It was cool enough out that it wasn’t such a miserable thing to do.

Saturday I made a peach pie, with Colorado peaches (my favorites). Denny sides with Missouri peaches, but I haven’t seen those in the stores this year, and the Colorados have just come in. The pie turned out really well. I was pessimistic about the crust (it was very humid out, which made for a sticky dough, and I was trying to listen to Alton Brown and not add too much additional flour). Denny later reminded me that I’m always pessimistic about the crust and it almost always turns out well.

Such was the case here. It turned out really well. You know how fruit pies can sometimes get a soggy, underdone bottom crust? I followed the advice of the Cooks Illustrated baking cookbook and preheated a hot oven (500F) with a cookie sheet in it on the lowest rack, the baked the pie in a glass dish on the hot cookie sheet. The temp gets reduced twice during the cooking process—once when you first put it in and another time halfway through.

This technique not only prevented the bottom of my oven from getting covered in burned-on peach spew, but it also made the bottom crust set up really nicely.

On Sunday, I went out between rain showers and picked as many tomatoes as I could lift in a bowl. I filled a huge stockpot with the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and bay leaves, and I let it simmer all freaking day. The house smelled great.

HINT: if you are making a giant batch like that, don’t bother blanching and shocking the tomatoes to remove their skins, and certainly don’t squeeze out the goo. It’s just not worth the effort, and it’s healthier to leave them in anyway (more fiber, doncha know). I smoothed mine out with a stick blender, but you could use a regular blender too, although you have less control over the texture.

If you’re really horrified by tomato seeds or the occasional tomato skin bit, you could strain it, but I didn’t bother. I just put it in containers and threw it in the chest freezer. Come winter, I’ll be able to do all kinds of cool stuff with it: add veggies, hot pepper, and maybe sausage for a nice pasta sauce…puree, strain, and add some sour cream for tomato soup…add a little tomato paste to tighten it up for pizza sauce…perhaps MORE?

I love having an arsenal of tomato sauce in my freezer.


Tuscan Moon

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:28 am

We ate at the Tuscan Moon last night.  Mark said he wanted to hear my impressions, and since there is nothing pressing to do at this exact moment (how unusual), I thought I’d write something up.

First, keep the context in mind.  Kalona, Iowa, is a tiny little town about 20 miles from Iowa City known mostly for its Amish Mennonite population.  Not everyone (or even most people) subscribe to that life philosophy, but it’s a visible enclave.  Other than that, it’s a pretty typical little town—cute-ish downtown with some nice local businesses, a few streets with pretty old homes, and lots of farmland surrounding it.  It’s more of a pork-tenderloin-on-a-bun town than a fois gras town (and don’t get me wrong—I appreciate a well-tendered loin).

The Tuscan Moon is an aesthetic gem.  The restaurant occupies a former hotel, and there is dining available on a patio and in several rooms on various floors.  The building is well-preserved and decorated in a pleasantly antique (but not cloying) style.  It would be a great place for a small rehearsal dinner or private party.  Also charming is the secluded bar/lounge upstairs, which would be nice to linger in before or after a meal.

The food is certainly above average.  I am dubious about some of its authenticity (alfredo sauce in a pasta carbonara dish?  Really?), but everything was nicely presented and was certainly a notch above a typical meal. I had what was billed as Rosemary Grilled Chicken.  It was served on a bed of fluffy polenta, which was the highlight of the meal and nicely balanced with a noticeable hint of rosemary.  The chicken was tender, moist, and juicy, but it was covered so liberally in a balsamic vinegar reduction that I couldn’t taste anything else.  Also present was a large serving of sauteed red onions, which were a little out of proportion.

Denny ordered a pasta “al diablo,” (another mixed metaphor—did they think people wouldn’t understand “a la diavola”)?  He had been warned by our dining companions that it was outrageously spicy, so he asked the server whether it was very hot.  He may have expressed concern, though he didn’t specifically ask that it be weakened for him; what he got was not spicy at all (and our dining companions agreed that it was much less spicy than when they’d last had it).  However, he still enjoyed the flavor.  I haven’t tried it yet, but he brought half of it home, so I might get to.

Also of note:  we didn’t personally experience it, but on Friday and Saturday nights they have live music, either out on the patio or inside, depending on weather.  That would be fun, because it’s very much a destination place.  Nobody ever made us feel rushed.

They seem to have a nice wine collection with a variety of types, including dessert wines (which, of course, I didn’t get to sample).  We were too full for dessert, but the choices seemed like a nice mix of traditional (chocolate layer cake) and more unusual (island spice cheesecake).

One small thing:  the non-alcoholic beverages were served in plastic cups.  Maybe that’s only the practice on the patio; still, I would have appreciated a glass.  It was a little jarring with the otherwise lovely environs.  The service was excellent; refills were offered frequently, and our server was happy to split our check and run two credit cards.

My general impression:  I would go back, but it would be a better experience if I could relax with a glass of wine for a while.  I think I would also get a steak; I could smell steaks from the kitchen and I bet they were fabulous.  I would like some more of that polenta, please.

I applaud the Tuscan Moon for bringing a classy dining option to an underserved area.  Go for a fun date night.


Tuscan Tucson

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:53 pm

Denny and I are going to Kalona tonight to eat at the Tuscan Moon. I’ve heard good things about it, and Denny’s cousin has been waiting tables there as a summer job before she goes off to college this weekend. I like going to Kalona because sometimes you see Amish people in horse-drawn buggies. They have those slow-moving vehicle signs on them. It’s weirdly charming.

It’s strange how the words Tuscan and Tucson are both geographical but have nothing to do with one another.

Also, you know what’s so good? Mint Mojito (although I’ve never heard of a mojito without mint) flavored Orbit gum. It’s almost as good as the real thing.

Actually, not even close, but I takes what I can gets.


Baby art

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:38 pm

I was thinking I might make an effort to not make this blog too pregnancy-centric, because much like one’s dreams, one’s fetus is probably a lot more interesting to oneself than one’s readers.

But…you know…it’s what’s on my mind. I like to look through my archives sometimes and see what I was thinking about on this day a year ago (answer: the weather and plane tickets), and it would be silly to not write about something I’m thinking about just because I’m worried people will get bored with it. It’s a big internet. If you don’t like what’s here, go watch some YouTube or something.


I am not a very good interior decorator. I think of myself as someone with decent aesthetic sense, but when it comes to decorating a room, I get frozen and have no idea where to start. This creates a problem when trying to figure out what to do with the baby’s future room. Then I was doing some surfing yesterday and came across the website WeeGallery.com. It’s this artwork that is cool in its own right, but is also purposely made so baby brains will be able to see it and find it interesting. Denny really liked it too, so we ordered some of the canvases. Here’s what we’re getting:

It’s not a full decorating scheme yet, but at least it will give us something to start from in terms of paint colors and furniture and stuff. I just noticed that it looks like the pig has some kind of skin disease. I think it’s because the artist thinks babies like repeating patterns. I wonder if that’s going to bug me now.


Oh, my little brain

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:18 pm

Sorry for the recent brevity and/or absence of posts.  It’s our busiest time of year at work (and will continue to be until early September), and when I get a few moments of downtime, I just want to close my eyes and lean back.

In other news, I have some snack food updates:

CVS-brand honey-roasted cashews:  disappointing.  I don’t know why.  I like cashews.  I like honey-roastedness.  These just don’t hit the spot for me like I thought they would.  Pregnancy is taking its toll on my sweet tooth, which wouldn’t be so bad except that I’m replacing my favorite sweets with my favorite salties, like, say, Cheetos.

String cheese:  good!  Convenient, high calcium, with some protein.  It’s really hard to find string cheese that isn’t individually wrapped at Hy-Vee, but the CVS store downstairs from my office (see above) that is my major destination for snack foods has some that is not individually wrapped.

Gummy bears:  seem like a good idea but make me feel gross.  I think it’s the sweets thing again.

Also, I feel like I take about a six hundred pills a day.  I take two calciums in the morning, two in the evening (I’m not a milk-drinker, see, and I know my limits when it comes to string cheese), a prenatal vitamin, a DHA supplement, and, um, a stool softener for reasons that are none of your damn business.  I guess this is all in preparation for when I’m old and have to take so many pills that I need one of those day-of-the-week containers.  I seriously don’t think my daily regimen would fit into one of those little cells, though.  The calcium and vitamin are really big.  I’m glad I’ve never had trouble swallowing pills; sometimes I have trouble getting one down, so I feel really bad for people who gag on them regularly.

Wow.  This was borderline incoherent.  See what happens when I get too busy at work?


Q.E.P.D., Ken in Instructional Services

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:13 pm

My buddy Ken is no longer with us.  He’s not dead or anything (so far as I know; I haven’t talked to him in like an hour and a half), he just changed jobs.

In fact, he’s still in our larger group, just in a different unit so I won’t work with him as much.  It’s kind of like when Denny moved into his newish job.  Still, I’ll miss having Ken just two cubes over.  He was always good for a trip down to the coffee shop or a good story about his kids.  Now if I want any of that, I’ll have to IM him first to see if he’s around.

Come to think of it, that’s what I did before.  Our cubicle walls are high.


Tiny Eyes

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:26 pm

I just found this cool website: Tiny Eyes. You can upload a photo and it simulates what a newborn, 4-week, 8-week, 3-month, and 6-month old baby would see. I think it’s awfully scientific or something.

The results are…a bit depressing.

The lower image is what 4-week-old would see. I’m just a blob of white (this is also sort of how I felt in Puerto Rico). At least Denny shows up a little because he has darker eyebrows.


The good news: no reason to bother wearing makeup for like 6 months at least.

It was a young Josh Brolin.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:11 pm

Do you remember that scene in The Goonies where Corey Feldman is listing all the cool things they should be doing, and then he finishes by saying, “But noooooooo!  Someone’s older brother had to screw it up.  Flunking your driver’s test?”

I’ve seen that movie about six thousand times, so I have the intonation of “But nooooooo!” cemented firmly in my mind.  If you, too, can recall it with very little effort, I invite you do so as you read the following:

I have had a very busy, stressful day at work.  We just finished a big upgrade on my project, and of course there were a thousand little things that didn’t go quite perfectly, so I’ve been scrambling around trying to get them tidied up before too many people complain.  It hasn’t been terrible or anything—nobody ate my lunch or mocked my ancestry—just busy and tiring.  This is the kind of day where, upon returning home, I would really enjoy going down to the basement, picking out one of the several lovely  bottles of wine in our wine rack, and pouring myself a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

“But noooooooo!”

(It’s really okay.  I can handle it.  I mostly just wanted a Corey Feldman quote somewhere in my blog.)

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