Monthly Archives: April 2012

Best hike Ever?

Canyonlands. Not the best hike ever. But pretty cool.

Writing about hiking is hard… you take an amazing trip, are blown away by a place and want to tell people when you get home. You spend every step composing poetic, and probably circumlocutory prose to bring your friends right there into your experience. The you get home and you are, of course, woefully inadequate. You resort to clichés, and erase them, and then are left with nothing, so return to them, with your tail between your legs to avoid a blank page. So I will write very little, and just say

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Hidden Valley. Possibly the best hike in the world.

My friend recently ran the Maob ½ marathon in Canyonlands. I was all signed up, but unable to compete at the last minute. This was OK, we had an awesome hiking trip planned after. So I went to kill 3 hours at the closest trail to Moab I could find: Hidden Valley. Best. Single. Hike. Ever.

Hidden Valley Trail

I started with a 45 min steep hike up deep red rock.

Up, up, up

That was impressive enough, but as I got over the crest of the climb before me everything changed completely: a mile of the most intense blues and greys I have ever seen.

It seriously was like one of those Gladiator-type scenes where someone almost dies and a glimpse of their loved one in heaven sends them back. I am serious. The whole thing blew my mind. After a mile, there was another beautiful descent, but alas, I had to return to collect my friend at the finish line. I am resolved to return and complete the full trail.

*This* was the candidate for best hike ever. But we also explored:

Canyonlands

We didn’t venture into the main park of the park, but did explore a cool little trail to a bridge. I liked this trail because it was very different to the rest of the Moab landscape – verdant and marshy in the midst of red rock and desert. No best hike ever, but, pretty cool.

Actually, Canyonlands was better than I give it credit for

Arches National Park

Eh, famous for its, well, arches, but perhaps it was pregnancy nausea, or the inclement weather, or my too high expectations,  I was not blown away (metaphorically… in a climb to see one of the biggest arches on an exposed ledge, I was). But this park has several short trails where you can indeed see lots of arches, but often (although not always) from a distance.

The rest of the road trip, was just that: more road than trail. We hit 4-corners: a neat place where you can stand in 4 states at once,

One of the four states: do you know the other three?

and eat Fried bread (A Navajo classic)

before journeying onto Flagstaff,

Flagstaff

a very cool college town with some amazing and highly recommended gourmet food my friend treated me to.

It was a wonderful road trip: the kind Brits are not lucky enough to take in their homeland. And one of my only proper i.e. multi-day road trips. But… I should have written this post earlier, before the memory faded and I was left with just my ‘phone pictures, some awesome memories (did I mention Hidden Valley Trail?), five new pins in my map… and the newly dawning realization I still owe my friend $160 for the accommodation.

baa shíni’

Advertisements

My blogging absence…. meet Firework

Big Fat Positive

Big Fat Positive

I have been way too sporadic in my blog posts of late – and most of you know why. Welcome Firework – due November 5th. Of course, blogging seems like the ideal pregnancy activity, except that every moment not spent sleeping / fighting nausea I have spent trying to keep up to date with my work (have I managed? 90% there. I am getting better). Most people know about little Firework, but superstition stopped me revealing on my blog until 12 weeks (although the pics on facebook are somewhat of a public giveaway). Anyway –  a blogger’s tradition and a little Q&A to meet Firework.

Dates

LMP was January 30th, Firework was conceived on Feb 14th, and I found out I was pregnant 6 days before my next period on Feb 24th.

Why I tested so early?

Because it was Wes’ birthday 🙂

How I found out 

Well, I had had some weird early pregnancy symptoms – a 4-day headache, a pain in my lower back like I had been kicked, and my *ahem* went a weird dark red /purple colour (yes! really! it freaked me out and I was like ‘is this normal? Did it always look like this? Surely I would have noticed?’), plus I felt a pretty sharp implantation pains (I always feel ovulation as well). I knew the very earliest I could test fell on Wes’ birthday, so I figured: why not? It was the first month we had tried, so I bulk bought a pack of pregnancy tests, promising myself that when I got the inevitable negative I wouldn’t test until I was late, and then not again until I was late the following month. I didn’t tell Wes as I didn’t want to seem like a ‘crazy baby lady’ 🙂

Woke up before Wes on his birthday – POAS (peed on a stick) – put it down, set a timer and made myself leave the room. When the timer went off came back, and could not believe I saw a (very faint) pink line..

Barely visible first test (yes, I still have it)

Barely visible first test (yes, I still have it)

How I told Wes

I waited until he woke up, then found him drinking milk straight from the carton. I just went up to him and said “You know how we aren’t doing presents until later? I have an early one for you” and showed him the stick

What Wes said

He was overjoyed. Said it was definitely the best birthday ever. We are not really criers, plus were in a bit of shock. He smiled and was happy and asked how I was feeling (which back then was pretty normal).

How Wes has been

Awesome. He was cooking me dinner every night until I started throwing it up. He asks me every single night if there is anything he can bring me (and will travel for random stuff) and is more than happy to run about after me, just because I “can’t be bothered to get off the sofa”. It’s kinda true what they say: women become mothers when they are pregnant, men become fathers when the baby is born. It is so true, but it works, because while I worry and fuss about the baby, Wes worries and fusses about me. He hates seeing me sick, and can’t do enough to make me more comfortable. He’s a great father-to-be.

Emotional meltdowns:

Just three (I think that is less than usual). One: Early on when I was trying to let a drunk Wes into the house and I was struggling to find the key on his ring and he said “it’s the same as on yours” which was absolutely. the. meanest. thing. ever. Luckily some rational part of my brain decided that perhaps there were worse things, and before Wes could see I ran to the back of the house to ‘read in peace’ i.e. sob myself to sleep.

Two: I walked to breakfast with my friend Stella, giving a small heave on the way. They said the wait for breakfast was 40 mins, I was not happy but agreed. After 1 hour of waiting I put my head between my legs and sobbed uncontrollably. Stella took it well – offered me chocolate and space – and we were seated pronto. I got my ginger pancakes and all was well.

Three: I went into the boot (trunk) of the car and the lid-thing came down and hit – OK, tapped – me on the head. I started crying and didn’t stop for 40 minutes at the whole injustice of the thing. Wes remained calm, amazing sympathetic (if slightly bemused) and bought me crepes.

My parents:

Have been awesome. So excited – Mum is knitting a shawl and when I mentioned that I was waiting for payday to buy new bras that fit, my dad (DAD)whispered to my Mum and she said “we’ll get you some”. They have sent out  Dairy Milk, and my Dad (I repeat: DAD) rummaged around BHS for 32E bras for me 🙂

How the first trimester has been

Shiiiiiiiity (pardon my french). The first 6 weeks were fine – a lot of tiredness and mild nausea that just made me feel nice and pregnant and I thought was cool. I was actually more productive at work as I had stopped training for the 1/2 marathon when I found out (yes…. this is why I didn’t run) and was well rested. Then the real morning sickness hit, and I couldn’t keep liquids down, was throwing up at home, at work, out of the car…. I couldn’t focus at work, as I was just fighting waves of nausea…. I couldn’t keep down protein or vegetables, only cake, pasta, fries, bread, some cheese – which made me miserable. Then the Dr convinced me to take anti-emetics and my life came back. Now I am tired and sometimes nauseous, but my life is back. Now I quite enjoy it.

Exercise / eating

Yeah… I had this plan that I would go fully paleo when pregnant. Not at option when you can’t keep protein of veggies down. I also couldn’t therefore really lift, and after this epidemiological study decided not to run. Yes, Dr.s do say that it is fine to keep running, if your body is used to it, and yes, there have been many women who ran throughout pregnancy with wonderful, healthy pregnancies. And I applaud any women who decides to keep her fitness routine going. It is a personal choice and seemed to me that you were told not to run if your pregnancy was ‘high risk’ – however it also seemed to me that you only know if you are ‘high risk’ if you have signs of impending miscarriage, and sadly, by then, sometimes it is too late. So, for the first trimester only, as I didn’t know if there were any problems with the pregnancy or not, it was swimming only weeks 6-10. Now I have added heavy lifting back in (slightly lower weight for things like squats, absolutely no compromise in form, and no lifts above the head), and with my ob/gyn’s clearance will go back to running, doing couch to 5 K, hopefully this week.

Oh, and diet. Honestly? Atrocious. I crave carbs and sweets and often it is the only thing that quells the nausea. I start with a super healthy breakfast and so my best to stay that way – but I tail off when the nausea hits again.

Weight gain

1.5 – 2 lbs. Hopefully no muscle mass loss, as my strength has not taken a hit. That being said, I am a whale very early on bump-wise though – check out how quickly my belly ‘popped’.

5 weeks - 134 lbs

5 weeks - 134 lbs

11 weeks - 135.5 lbs

12 weeks - 135.5 / 136 lbs. How did this shoot out??

Scans

We got 2 scans, one at 8 weeks where we saw the heartbeat (and Firework looked like a squished frog). This was when we chose to tell everyone.

Squished froglet

And today, we had a nuchal scan (all looked good) at 12 weeks. Apparently I have a huge uterus – every u/s technician comments on it. It wasn’t always big, just grew very quickly. It’s a good thing – lots of room for Firework to move around. But Firework chose today to scrunch his / herself into the very smallest corner and hide away. The u/s technician tried to goad Firework into moving, but poking my abdomen repeatedly with probes and fingers, but this just made Firework scrunch up and hide even more and kick his / her legs (which was incredibly cute) while sucking his / her thumb (ditto on the cuteness). Firework is like Daddy: shy and likes to hide out in their own space. My invasive / exhibitionist genes are not showing yet 🙂

Scrunched child

Cravings:

Loads: berries with cream, mini eggs from Britain, ketchup, donuts (so bad for donuts), buffalo wings, oranges, ketchup, watermelon, ketchup, chips (fries) with malt vinegar and ketchup. More Ketchup.

Best thing I have bought for pregnancy so far:

My belly band is pretty rocking. But I am in love with a rented doppler. I was told not to get it, as some people say it is impossible to hear the heartbeat on your own early, or to distinguish it from other sounds such as your own heartbeat, or your pelvic blood flow. I called the company, and they said that if you are slim, you can hear it from 10 weeks – and it was just $25 a month, so I went for it. I heard the heartbeat the first night! It was easy to distinguish my sounds from Firework’s: my heartbeat and thus blood flow is 66 bpm – Firework’s is over 140! It is a little harder to distinguish between Firework’s blood flow and Firework’s heart beat, but hear you have 2 options: (1) listen for two separate but similar sounds or (2) accept that both are equally signs of a healthy baby. I didn’t use it too often – not a good idea in the first trimester, but lest there are any doubters, I did listen to the heartbeat and measure it as 154 bpm – and the Dr measured it as 155. So – proof that for me it worked. Here is little Firework’s heartbeat 🙂

Start of a new chapter

Us and our new home

Us and our new home

Oh, it has been way too long since I blogged. I have been sleeping a lot (A LOT), and that will be the subject of an upcoming post. As will everything that has happened since my last post: choosing and accepting a job, coming to several realizations about postdoc life, taking possibly the second best hiking trip of my life, publishing two papers, and (maybe the most dramatic and life changing of all) losing my trademark light blonde locks.

Most pleased with ourselves

Most pleased with ourselves

But, I will ease back into the blogging world, before full service is resumed, with a fairly easy post. We have had an offer on a house accepted! Signing on the dotted line still to come, but the offer / negotiations went smoothly and the actual signing should happen TOMORROW, so I am feeling optimistic, and throwing my superstitions to the wind and blogging about it before it is official.

We are just back from Houston, where we saw some 14 houses (all in one day!). We saw it all: a beautiful house in a neighbourhood so bad the realtor wouldn’t let me in the garden (seriously, he got all nervous and said “don’t wander too far” when I went into the yard, then panicked and went “Seriously…. Get in the house”) while a prostitute waved becomingly to Wesley from the corner. We saw a house in a beautiful neighbourhood that had scribbles on every inch of wall, and excrement (human) on the carpet. We saw a bunch of OK so-so places and some wonderful homes, that we were able to narrow down to two we were in love with and a two good back-ups.

The top two were quite different; one I had a really good ‘feeling; about inside, but it was single story and may have needed quite a bit of work. The other I didn’t feel quite so ‘at home’ in, but it was beautiful, in a better neighbourhood, completely redone for sale (complete with granite countertops and laminate floors) and a better family home. We put an offer in, received a counter offer and accepted, Huzzah!

So, it is 2 story. You walk into a large, laminate-floored dining room,

Large dining room

Large dining room (partially shown)

where we will have our new piano and dining table. That leads through to the kitchen, which is open plan to the sitting room.

Mmmmm.... granite and new appliances

Kitchen

The sitting room has a fireplace that we’ll never use in the Houson heat, and leads to a gorgeous sun room (with separate A/C), a laundry room, a toilet and coat closet. Upstairs we have 3 bedrooms: a large master with balcony,

From which I will read my books in the morning :)

From which I will read my books in the morning 🙂

and huge ensuite bathroom (complete with 2 sinks, 2 vanities and lots of space).

The second sink didn't fit into the frame (!) It is in the faux-granite top.

The second sink didn't fit into the frame (!)

Then two smaller rooms, a nursery

For little Firework when s/he comes

For little Firework when s/he comes

and my office / spare bedroom, which are joined by another full bathroom.

It is light and airy and quite perfect. (Don’t be scared by the bars at the window, it is actually in one of the safer neighbourhoods).

The garden is very pretty: beautiful roses growing up the back wall and a shed for Wes to hide away from his nagging wife and screaming baby the world 🙂 And a large garage for him too.

Man cave

View of the Man cave

So excited to move in, and can’t wait for y’all to visit. I have a video, but I have zero idea how to get it off my camera (!)