Saturday, December 31, 2005

My new year's resolutions

Since a few other blogging friends have posted their resolutions for the year, I'd better do mine too. Not much a person on making or keeping resolutions, but it will make me think and set some goals.

* This year I plan to get the rest of this maddening pregnancy weight off my body. Hopefully by autumn I will have it all off, cause it seems like the breastfeeding is keeping the fat on and I plan to nurse until Aidan's at least a year old.

* I would like to get control of my sweet tooth (hence help with the weight loss). That can start NOW.

* Become disciplined in practicing my yoga in conjunction with my powerwalking exercise regimine.

* Do my artwork on a regular basis and get good at it!

* Get my hands and nails back into shape, though difficult with the extra cooking and cleaning I do. I can still try!

Those are the main things that I need to work on. I just need to print this list out and post it on my fridge so I can be reminded daily and continue to work on these goals.

Happy New Year everybody!

Our spending day at the mall

We were very good! The only thing not on sale was my two desperately needed nursing bras, but they were still under $25 each. Just like a grocery store, I went in with a list and did not have the intention to buy anything that was not on that list.

We got our memory foam mattress pad on sale, but it was still just over $100. I felt OK about spending that because our mattress was only $150 and most mattress sets are over $500. It's SOO comfortable! I didn't feel so achy and sore when I woke up after two nights sleeping on it. I also got my needed socks and the wedding gift for our friends in the UK. This was a very high month for our spending, but nothing we bought was frivolous or unneeded.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Baby in a basket

For those who couldn't see these pictures on Aidan's web gallery, here are the baby in a basket pics. His Teddy bear is wearing the little shirt Aidan wore in the hospital when he was born.

A happy boy!

I got published!

My letter to the editor in the Nation Newspaper in Bangkok was published yesterday! I've been in touch with the co-author of the book Bangkok Inside Out, Guy Sherett. I met him once a few years ago in Bangkok through a mutual friend, but never stayed in contact. I did remember him when my husband bought me that book and I recognized his name and picture. Anyway, this book has since been banned from sale in Thailand by the Ministry of Culture. I wrote to Guy my support for his endeavors to get his book back on the shelves and he then encouraged me to write to the editors of several newspapers in Thailand, so I did. And he just informed me this morning that my letter was published in one of them. Here's the link, scroll down about half way and below my letter is another letter of support. Here's the link to the original letter written about this issue. Below is the text of my letter if you don't wish to link.

What are the culture police so scared of, really?
Re: “An open letter to Culture Minister Uraiwan Thienthong on a provocative book”, Letters, December 19.
I’ve lived in Bangkok for four years and had the opportunity to meet Guy Sharett, co-author of the book “Bangkok Inside Out”. Sharett is an articulate, respectful person and his book speaks the truth about Bangkok, in all its funny, sad, beautiful and ugly ways. But none of the subjects were written with disrespect. My Thai husband was the person who actually bought this book for me and he really enjoyed it. I’m saddened that the Ministry of Culture is banning this book because I feel it truly enriches the Bangkok experience for tourists, expatriate workers, and the Thai people who get a foreigner’s perspective. Please encourage the Ministry of Culture to reverse its decision and allow the sale of “Bangkok Inside Out” in bookstores again.
Amy P.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Many pictures to share!

Golf has updated the photo album, most are pictures from Thanksgiving, the combo birthday party and Christmas. The last picture is so cute, with Aidan and a friend in the laundry basket. That one was taken a few days ago.

My yogic plans for the new year

I walked by the Alameda Yoga Station yesterday and picked up their new 2006 schedule and they did add the $5 community class. Every Monday from 12:15-1:15. I confirmed with Golf that he can watch Aidan for an hour and a half once a week while I do this. I can easily ride my bicycle there! But new classes don't begin til after January 3, which is a Tuesday, so that means I can't start at the studio until the second week. Til then, I'll do my videos. I did about half of one yesterday. First off it was all Aidan could handle. I had him in his walker right next to me while I worked out. Secondly, I was TIRED! I gotta start out slowly and hopefully by the time I go to the class, I'll be better.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Getting back to Yoga

My friend Melanie made a comment on my last post, saying I was the best investment to the health of the household, and she's right. My backache woke me up this morning at 5:45, even before the baby woke up! This is it, I must get back into my yoga practice, and this is the perfect week to do it because it's stormy and rainy and I can't go walking. There is a nearby yoga studio that I can ride my bike to. They say they have a community class, which is usually about $5 and it's offered once a week by the other yoga studios I've seen online. I didn't see a community class in the schedule for this one, but it's listed on another page they have so I'm going to give them a call. I cannot afford $15 a class. Who can?!?! So if I can go once a week and do other sessions with some DVD's I have, my aches should go away within a few weeks.

A yummy day

Yesterday just before going to the store, I noticed about a pound of mushrooms sitting in the vegetable bin and I knew we had to get them eaten quickly before they went bad. Whenever I have veggies on the verge of going bad, it's a soup day. So I concocted a really yummy soup off the top of my head that you might like with all the stuff laying around in your fridge and pantry.
Incidently, I never knew the fine merits of sea salt. Chefs and foodies say it makes a big difference in taste and I always thought salt is salt is salt, but I bought some a few weeks ago and I must say it does make the food taste better. Anyway, here's the recipe for my Emergency Mushroom Soup -- vegans and vegetarians can easily adjust the ingredients.

1 lb white or crimini mushrooms
5 dried shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup dry barley
1 peeled carrot
3 leeks
1 can cream of celery soup
2 tbsp butter
chicken broth
fresh parsley chopped

About an hour before preparing, place the shitake mushrooms in a cup of hot water to reconstitute. Then prepare the barley: rinse well and add to 3 cups of boiling salted water.

Cut the green tops off the leeks and rinse well. Slice thinly and drop them in a large pot on medium high heat with the butter. Let them get soft.

In the meantime, run the peeled carrot and mushrooms through the slicer of a food processor. Keep about six mushrooms to quarter for added chunkiness if you prefer. Slice shitakes and keep the water they were soaking in. Add the mushrooms and carrot to the leeks. Salt and pepper to taste (again the sea salt and fresh ground pepper is best.) Cook til the mushrooms get good and juicy.

Add the can of cream of celery soup and enough broth and water to the consistency you want (thin or thick soup). Taste to ensure it doesn't become weak. Add cooked barley. Cook for about 10 more minutes and add as much fresh parsely as you want.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The week's agenda

We decided to lay low until the shopping frenzy declines and life returns to normal before we head out into the vast wasteland of the shopping mall. Aidan's got his first portrait appointment at JCPenney's on Thursday and while we're there I'm doing some more shopping.

I have to get a wedding gift for my Thai friend A, who is marrying a Sri-Lankan British man and is in the UK with him now, enjoying the frigid, snowy weather. Her wedding date is January 14th and I already know what I want to get her but I can't say here in case she reads this, but I will say it'll be warm and cozy. :)

I have two pairs of socks left that I can wear with shoes. TWO. The rest are big wooly ones that I wear around the house instead of slippers. So I'm going sock shopping.

I have two nursing bras that I've interchanged since the day Aidan was born and they are getting WAY worn out and Mervyn's didn't have anything I liked, so I hope JCPenney has something. Afterall, I'm only halfway done with nursing!

My backache isn't going away, it returned after my stretches, so we're going to look for a memory foam mattress, about two inches, because my research came across reviews that said anything thicker doesn't do much good. I want something like a Tempurpedic mattress without the expense of one.

And just like everyone else, our expenses were up this month from birthday parties, Christmas dinner and other things, so January is belt tightening time.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Since today is the 25th I'm wishing all who celebrate a Merry Christmas! We're laying low this year, but last year I had a blast in a pub in Bangkok with my fellow ex-pat teachers, our Thai partners and Aied, our good friend and colleague. It was my first English style dinner. I was also four months pregnant with Aidan. You can see pictures here. Scroll down a bit for photos. Many of them are still working at my old school, so if you're reading, Merry Christmas to you!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

All ready for Christmas!

Since we aren't doing much for Christmas this year, preparing for it was a breeze. We're having dinner with a friend at our apartment and I finished all my grocery shopping on Wednesday. I knew that every day after that would only get busier and I did NOT want to get caught up in huge crowds at the grocery store.

I plan to take Aidan to JC Penney on Thursay the 29th to have his first portrait taken. It's long overdue -- he's seven months old already!

Neighbors: Golf and I were tossing and turning as our noisy neighbors were talking loudly after midnight last night. We can hear everything through our thin walls and the fan we turn on to drown out little noise was not loud enough. I've befriended them and they are very nice people, but they are clueless to the noise they make and I couldn't take it any longer. I knocked on their door and asked them to please keep it down a little. They were very nice about it, I just hope they remember to keep it down in the future. Gotta keep that neighborly friendliness! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Getting 'that baby' to sleep

For the last two weeks we implemented a sleep strategy that worked at getting Aidan to put himself to sleep. After rocking and nursing didn't put him back to sleep in the middle of the night, we just left him in his crib to cry, going in every 5 minutes to comfort and pat him. This is not crying it out, since we go in to reassure him. Then last week we extended the time to every 10 minutes. He's been going to sleep on his own within 15 minutes now, and most nights he sleeps through. However, recently he'll wake up and need his bippy (our word for pacifier) to go back to sleep and now we've fallen into the trap of him needing it to fall asleep. He'll wake up two or three times a night needing to be plugged back in. This is also an unacceptable sleep habit, so we're going to take away the bippy for night time sleeping and he'll only get it during the day. Last night he cried for an hour, from 4-5 AM with us comforting him unsuccessfully every ten minutes. Finally at 5 I took him to bed with me and nursed him and we all got some more sleep. Five AM is the latest we'll try to put him back to sleep on his own. Later than that I might as well just get up with him. I hope by the end of the week he'll be able to sleep without his bippy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My aching back

For several weeks now -- maybe even MONTHS at this point, I've woken with an achy back and when I lay on my bed on my back, the lower part hurts too much to stay in that position. Never used to be like that. I had considered getting a memory foam mattress pad because my sister has a Tempurpedic mattress and when we stayed at her place for Thanksgiving, we slept on her bed and it was VERY comfortable.

Anyway, yesterday I tried spending a few minutes doing some yoga stretches to stretch out my back. Just the simple child's pose made me feel a crack or two in my spine. Then I crossed my legs in a sitting position and bent over, elbows on the floor. All this while Aidan was playing around. I felt SO much better. Well, I tried it out this morning and laid on my back. No pain! None at all! I'll do this every day to keep those kinks out of the ole backbone! And best of all, it costed me NO money. HOORAY!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Season Finale

I'm hooked on Nip/Tuck, thanks to my friend Michelle in Bangkok, who bought the first season on DVD and lent it to Golf and me. Now every Tuesday night I try desperately to stay up from 10 - 11 PM to see it. Tonight the season finale is on and it's a two hour special. SOMEHOW I must stay awake til 12 midnight and hope to God the baby will stay asleep tonight. I'm having coffee tonight about 8:30 and that should do the trick. :)

The sweetest commercial

I'm not a person who cares for advertising, but a commercial came on TV yesterday that brought tears to my mommy eyes it was so precious. I just looked online and you can see it here. Get your tissues out! I think before mommyhood I would have thought it really sweet, but now I get all emotional about it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Raining n pouring

We couldn't get out to that Dunsmuir house on Sunday because it was raining as hard as it does in Bangkok, only difference was that it was much colder. Today was the first day in three days I could go out for a walk with the baby. Nothing like fresh air!
Hmmm... hate to be such a bore, but there isn't much to write about as of late.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Holiday happenings

Today Golf, Aidan, and I are going with my friend Carolyn to an Oakland estate called Dunsmuir that has an annual Christmas tour. Carolyn suggested it, as I've never heard of this place before. It looks beautiful and something nice to do. However, it's POURING rain this morning and I don't know if it will still happen for us. I'll give an update later.

Aidan had his first fever two days ago. He felt SOOO hot, but he was still active and lively, just not as much as he usually is. Yesterday he was just fine, so I hope he's inherited his mother's good health and ability to recover quickly from illness. Golf and I are never sick (knock wood) and so I hope our healthy genes have passed on to our son.

All right, I'm off to have some of my home made banana nut bread for breakfast and I need more COFFEE! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Considering more options

I really want to live in a house. I want a workspace for my upcoming art business (a garage in other words). Golf needs a room where he can have his office space and close the door to shut out any disturbances while he works. It would be lovely to have a yard for Aidan to play in. Our own laundry room -- need I say more? There are very few house rentals in the Bay Area. When a person pays from $700K to one million dollars, yes, one million dollars, for a three bedroom house, renting it for less than $2,000 a month is not possible. So I asked my husband to consider moving back to Sacramento in about a year and rent a house for the about the same price we are renting this apartment. For a little more money per month, we can get an extra bedroom, a back yard, laundry facilities and a garage. And no noisy neighbors behind your bedroom wall!!!

So the dream was to be able to buy a house, but in our time frame we'll at least get to LIVE in a house, if only a rental. But it will have to be in Sacramento. While I absolutely love living in the Bay Area, my DH and I have to make choices, and we have to decide what is really important. So far our housing choices are becoming more important, now that we have a baby. We're going to see how often Golf has to go to work on site. So far in our almost four months here, he has had to go on site for work only two days. I think getting a hotel for those days if we were in Sac would be well worth it. We're giving it another year in this apartment to scope out how his business develops. And I might be saying hello to Sac once again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

On the fast track to 40 now

I turned 36 years old yesterday. My god, I'm now sliding down the hill toward 40. But at least my dreams have been fulfilled: I got to do some travelling to exotic countries doing brave things, I got to live abroad for a number of years, I met the man of my dreams, got married and now I'm a mommy to a beautiful little boy. I can relax now and enjoy my life. The anxiety that used to keep me awake and turn my stomach at nights no longer haunt me. Fortunately it's not just me who gets older! :)

We really didn't do much at all yesterday. Golf's been extremely busy with a work project that's due in a few days, so I just did housework and took care of the baby. I decided to forego the trip to the art store until Golf is done with his work so I can go alone and shop leisurely. I'm nervous about beginning my business, as all things that may profit, there is risk involved. But I must try and one of the major factors of its success is simply getting out there at craft fairs, actively doing ebay, keeping a beautiful website that takes payment, and going out to owner operated boutiques and stores. So I'll go to the art store by Monday next week and spend as much time as I want browsing around and getting what I need to get started! It's always hardest for me to START, but once I get going, it all becomes very easy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Off to the art store today!

If all goes as planned, I would really like to get to the art supply store today to get all the paper I need and some more paints and brushes and paper preparation materials. I'm so excited! I'll be on target for my goal of being up and running by the end of December.

Now to practice and get good at my collage making endeavor, I need time. Lots of it, and with a baby, husband and household to care for, I don't get much. I need to make practice pieces and then I need to create enough to get some quality stock to sell. My goal is to have that stock, or be nearly there, by Aidan's first birthday in May. By June, I need a website up.

Writing down my goals for my business has certainly helped big time. I know it's a key strategy for any flegling business. I'm so grateful I have this opportunity to make my dream a reality.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

One HUNGRY baby!

Golf took this photo just after I pureed an entire Kabocha squash for Aidan and hadn't put them in the ice cube trays yet. Had to give Aidan a little taste and he LOVED it! That bowl fit into two ice cube trays and should last a couple weeks, at least. The boy will likely eat 3 to 4 cubes (equal to one tablespoon) each time. Today I bought fresh spinach at the farmer's market, washed it, steamed it and pureed it. It's SOO dark green! I hope he likes it, but he may not be able to eat it til next month. Fortunately it keeps for two months. I pride myself on making my own baby food.

Pic from 3 years ago

The first school I worked for in Thailand put up a new website and I saw they used a picture of me. Cool! This is my second grade class and my co-teacher is Khun Aow.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Thai Father's Day

Today is a national holiday in Thailand for two reasons. Number one, it's His Majesty the King's birthday and he's 78 now, if I'm not mistaken. He's the longest reigning monarch in history! And to honor his birthday, the Thai people have made the day Father's Day for all dads in the country. (Mother's Day is the Queen's Birthday) My former school has some photos and a touching video on their website. Just click on the Father's Day link on the right. The camera icon shows the photos and the video icon the video. My good friend and former colleague, Michelle, an eighth grade teacher, made an excellent post about the school event on her blog along with some pictures.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A fun little party!

Yesterday I had a great party! It was so much fun. In the afternoon, Melanie and Daryll arrived in the afternoon and we snacked on hors d'oeuvres: mini quiches and mushroom pastries, veggies with dressing and grapes. Mellie brought a baked kabocha squash with pumpkin seasoning and I sliced it into small slices that made eating easy. They also brought a lovely pasta dish with fresh parmasan cheese and a wonderful tasting white wine they got in Napa. Golf made a prawn Thai style stir-fry that had garlic, chili and green beans served up with steamed jasmine rice. Carolyn and her good friend Jamie arrived about 3:00 and she brought a delicious chicken pot pie. It wasn't quite hot so I turned on the oven to reheat it. But we decided it was fine as is and chowed down.

After the food was gone and I got the kitchen cleaned and organized again (thanks to Daryll's help!) it was time for birthday cake! I bought an ice cream cake and just had "Happy Birthday" written on it since three people were celebrating (Golf, Carolyn and me) and I opened the gift that Mel brought. She gave me a set of shampoo, conditioner and hair treatment from Sephora. She also got me a Japanese cherry blossom gift set which has perfume, bath oil with sake, and flower petal face mask. Man, my Mellie knows very cool girlie girl gifties! I'm gonna take a nice bath and let Golf care for the baby for a little while this morning!!!

Golf got a cool Star Wars shirt and a Best Buy gift certificate. He never got birthdays when he was growing up and he said that this year was his best birthday of his life. :) :) :) Carolyn got a nice little travel set with shampoos, body wash and other yummy things for the body. Mel and Daryll were SOO generous Thank You again!! :)

Then we finished our cake and took a walk down to City Hall for the tree lighting ceremony. There was a tap dance troupe with Christmas tree costumes and it was a lot of fun to watch. A brass band played, and there as also a stage with music afterward. Then Santa Claus arrived, and in Bay Area style, he arrived in a eco-car sort of golf cart looking thing. I don't know what else to call it, but it was cool looking. The countdown came and the tree was lit. Before then Aidan fell fast asleep and missed the whole thing. He sure loved people watching before then, though.

When we got home, though, I discovered I left the oven on for the pot pie! OOPS! When our oven reaches it's set temp, the light goes off, so when we left, I didn't think the oven or stove was turned on because of no lights. I only heard it tick here and there when we got back and that's how I made that discovery. At least there was nothing in it, but it was still a waste of enerty. But all in all, it was a GREAT day.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Baby changes

We're currently weaning Aidan off his swaddle. I never liked doing it past two months and recently we've also been concerned about him getting cold. In his swaddle we could use a blanket, but now he pulls his blanket over his face since his arms are free. So yesterday my mom bought him a fleece sleep sack and underneath he wears his thermal underwear. His little hands still get cold, since the sleep sack just has long sleeves.

Aidan's also been waking up in the middle of the night and we've been trying to get him to fall alseep again without rocking or nursing. Night before last it took us two hours -- I did nurse him and he did not fall asleep, so we put him back to bed and it was back and forth for an hour and a half. Last night he woke up at 4 AM and we thought it wasn't worth it to spend two hours getting him to sleep again by 6 AM. So I took him to bed with us to nurse and nap. I got some more sleep. I think we'll try to put him back to sleep if he gets up before 3:30 AM.

We cannot let him cry it out as we are against that method. So we've been giving him a bippy (pacifier) and patting his butt, then leaving the room. If he whimpers we leave him, but once the crying starts we come in and comfort him without picking him up. Putting himself back to sleep when he wakes up during the night has got to be a huge major obstacle for parents!

Got a book at the library about making your own super baby food. I'm already doing it, but any additional info I can get my hands on is good.

Gotta go now! Have an appointment at the DMV to get my name and address changed. Hope they let me keep my old picture!