Category Archives: Us

Stuff that has to do with us specifically. You know, personal stuff.

Baby Betting: Birth Weight

We’re taking bets on how much Sprout will weigh at birth! Email Megan or Ben to get in on the action. Winner gets bragging rights and a photo of baby (which they would probably get anyways. Okay, so the prizes are lame. I have no excuse.)

To reserve your square, email either Megan or Ben, or comment on this post!

Helpful Information:

Studies are starting to show that birth weight tends to follow the father, although not always. Ben was 6 lbs 11 oz at birth. Average weight at birth in the U.S. is 7 lbs 11 oz, or “6 to 10 lbs” which is not so much an average as a cop-out.

At the 20-week ultrasound, she was about one pound (although weight readings by ultrasound are notoriously inaccurate). Since then, her growth has been tracked by fundal height, which is supposed to be roughly 1cm per week of pregnancy. She has been perfectly on track (neither larger than average nor smaller) since then.

5 lbs 6 lbs 7 lbs 8 lbs 9 lbs 10 lbs
0 oz Ben Meg Sean
1 oz Stephen T.
2 oz
3 oz Kristy Ruth S.
4 oz
5 oz
6 oz Mark Chappell Lauren K.
7 oz Beryl Morganne
8 oz Megan Gerson
9 oz Maryann
10 oz  Nimitz
11 oz
12 oz Lauren P.
13 oz
14 oz Margie
15 oz

Baby Betting: Birth Date

We’re taking bets on when Sprout will choose to arrive! Email Megan or Ben, or leave a comment on this post to get in on the action. Winner gets bragging rights and a photo of baby (which they would probably get anyways. Okay, so the prizes are lame. I have no excuse.)
Helpful information:

The standard calculators that assume all women have perfectly regular cycles puts her due date at Sept 23. The midwives adjusted calendar, which takes individual cycles into account, puts her due date at Sept 28. Only 5% of babies are born on their due dates, with 80% born between weeks 38 and 42. Babies are full term after week 37, and not actually overdue until after week 42. The majority of first babies are delivered during the 41st week. Women in Megan’s family tend to have their babies two to three weeks early or on the due date.

The calendar is on Google Calendars. If you’d like, you can add it to your own calendar.


Our latest "butter" container, complete with problematic curl

Everyone has their funny little quirks, their little habits that they perform without even understanding what they’re doing or why. Well, eventually you understand what you’re doing, but you have to be way more self-aware than I am to figure out the why as well. I am convinced we all have these quirks. I know I have several.

There’s one that Ben and I share which has sort of gone to extremes this week. It goes totally unsaid between the two of us, but we’re both totally complicit in it. I’m talking about our butter* curl.

Smart Balance comes in the little tubs (for baking, we use Earth Balance, which comes in sticks and is great for baking but tastes like plastic on bagels). When you first open a tub of butter**, you are greeted with this beautiful liquid surface, nice and smooth with a slight dome to the top. And sometimes, a little tiny curl in the center where it was poured in. Looking at this curl makes me happy, so the first few times I use the tub, I get my butter from the outside ring, leaving the curl undisturbed. Ben seems to be doing the same thing; we don’t discuss this, it’s not a plan. It just happens. Usually, by the time we’ve gotten everything on the top, one of us has taken the curl and we move on with our lives with the rest of the tub, spreading it like normal people.

Close up of the... problem.

Well, this tub has gotten ridiculous. It was a beautiful, towering curl. So we were able to avoid it more easily. We’re now halfway through the blasted thing, and there’s still this big curl in the middle! And neither of us will touch it. It’s just… there. Staring at me, not quite perfect anymore, but not going anywhere either. And we’ve gone this far; am I going to be the one to move it? To disturb it? I couldn’t. So… now what?

*Okay, yes I know it’s not butter. If you’d prefer, I can say “Smart Balance Buttery Spread Margarine” every time. Or you can just hush and go along with my little fiction and we can use a short 6-letter word instead. With me? Great. So, butter.

** Or buttery-flavor substitute.

Honeymoon Journal: June 23 & 24

June 23: Day One

4:30 am EDT

After going to bed around 1:30 (early for us), we got up at 4:30 to finish packing and clean up before meeting my Dad at his house to go to the airport. We got to BWI by 6, then headed through a surprisingly crowded security to wait for the plane. No issues meeting & boarding our 7:30 flight, and the flight itself was uneventful. Ben slept through most of it, and I even managed a brief half-hour nap.

9:15 CDT(?)

We landed in Denver around 9:15 local time and ran to the nearest sports bar, two gates away, in time to catch the last 15 minutes of the US vs. Algeria game, the last of group play, and even witness the winning goal! We had a rather unfortunate experience with a waitress having a bad day (many tables were ordering little, and so she had no patience to look through the menu for non-dairy options with me). After speaking with the manager, we headed further along the terminal to find a more pleasant lunch option.

Lunch ended up being a very tasty turkey sandwich for me (and a depressing muffin from the angry sports bar for poor Ben). We played cards in the terminal until we saw they had begun boarding without any announcements, and caught our group’s boarding just in time. This was to be our long flight, with two movies and meals available for purchase. We bought a couple chicken wraps (quite tasty), and I slept for a good 3 to 4 hours. Ben dozed only briefly, having slept through the whole first flight, so we were about even on sleep. The movie, “Ghost Writer”, which had played on our first flight, was the second movie on our second. We hadn’t watched it the first time, so we did the second. The crew played a “Halfway to Hawaii” game, where passengers guessed what would be our halfway point on the trip. We were close, but not close enough, and did not win the CD. We landed at 3:15, and headed off the plane to breathe Hawaiian air.

3:15 Hawaii Time

A shuttle waited to take us from the terminal to baggage claim and ground transport. We found the Waikiki shuttle in time for them to close the doors in our faces and drive off without us. This gave us the first of two early lessons: we always will miss the first bus by mere seconds. We were told the next bus was in 20 minutes, so we decided to wait. And wait. At 4:00, we got onto the shuttle, which finally left ten minutes later, nearly an hour after we’d landed. Lesson #2: Hawaiians have no concept of time.

With traffic, it was 5:00 before we got to the hotel. The Ilikai is pure Art Deco on the outside, and total 1990s luxury in the lobby. The rooms are somewhere in between, but comfy suites, so I’m not complaining. We had a fully equipped kitchen and a balcony overlooking the ocean (with the tennis courts sort of obstructing most of it). As we had little intention of hanging out in the hotel room, this was not a big deal.

The weather, of course, was grey and cloudy. It figures that our first day in Hawaii would be drizzly grey. Still, though, the bad weather there beats a DC summer hands down!

After settling in briefly, we headed out to find dinner. A lovely walk along the beach later, we found the Royal Hawaiian shopping center (outside the hotel of the same name). Ben saw a sign for “Chibo” that leapt out at him, so we checked the directory to find its exact location. The full name: Okinomiyaki Chibo. We had to go.

A couple years back, Meg gave us a recipe for Hiroshima style okinomiyaki, and it’s become a house favorite. Chibo specializes in Osaka style. Plus, they have the added advantage over us that they know how it’s supposed to turn out. We’d never had okinomiyaki cooked by anyone other than ourselves. So, not surprisingly, it was the best okinomiyaki either of us had ever had! We decided at that point that if we had the time, we had to come back to try the yakisoba.

After dinner, we wandered around the touristy shopping area, buying nothing but making mental notes. We headed back to the hotel. We were both exhausted. Local time was 9:00, but after figuring out that we’d been up for more than twenty-two hours with only brief naps, we decided we could live with the shame of an early bedtime.

June 24: Day Two

8:30 am

Ben and I got up “early” to catch the Japan vs Denmark game. After a solid 12 hours of sleep, we both felt much better. We watched the first half of the game, then decided to head out and find breakfast. We ended up back in the touristy area at a place called Moose McGillicuddy’s. The name alone meant Ben had to see what it was about. Turns out, that meant local style food, including fried rice for breakfast and eggs on everything. We left with our bellies full.

Originally, we wanted to start with a visit to the Arizona Memorial, but the concierge said we ought to be there by 6:30am just to wait in line! Instead, we decided to check out the Dole Plantation by way of public transit. We got TheBus schedule from the concierge, and walked over to the Ala Moana shopping center to catch the 52.

Just like the airport shuttle, we saw the bus pulling away as we arrived, so we settled in to catch the next one, twenty minutes later. We had a fantastic conversation with a gentleman sitting across from us. Danny had lived on the island on and off for nearly 40 years, and as a result, had some great tips on things to see and do. The bus ride took us nearly two hours, so we had quite a long time to talk with him, as well as getting to see the parts of Oahu where people actually live.

We finally arrived at the Dole Plantation to take a tour and see this World’s Largest Maze. With our experience with winery and brewery tours, we were expecting this to be similar. See how they make stuff, see where they grow stuff, taste some tasty things. Oh no. Not here.

See, first of all, you should know something about Dole and Hawaii. Dole is a large part of the reason that Hawaii is no longer mostly inhabited by native Hawaiians. Dole did the typical industrial revolution corporate game of importing poor people from all over the world and practicing indentured servitude. Ok, so we got amazing Japanese and Portugese food in Hawaii as a result, but Ben and I unknowingly had taken ourselves to a museum celebrating indentured servitude. It was weird.

The second thing you need to know before heading to the Dole Plantation that we did not know is that Dole no longer grows pineapple in Hawaii. No, seriously. They have a huge plantation museum dedicated to the pineapple and we did not get a single taste of pineapple all day. And when we went to go purchase some candied pineapple or something tasty to bring back as a souvenir, all the stuff said on the back “Grown in Taiwan” or “Made in Thailand”.

Also, going through a gigantic hibiscus maze in the shape of a pineapple sounds like a lot better idea when you’re not lost somewhere in the middle, trying to go by the “just pick a wall and follow it” theory of dungeon-crawling. Contrary to popular belief, gaming skills do not always translate well into the real world. We did get out and we weren’t technically “lost”. I was able to find our path on the little map they gave us later, and we did pretty well. But it was an hour in the sun and we’d run out of water.

The highlight of the trip up there, however, was the little farm stand outside the plantation. There were two locals with a couple tables of actual Hawaiian-grown produce outside. We bought a bag of sugarcane and two lychees to snack on. We’d never had fresh lychee before. The guy selling them instructed us on how to eat them. After our eyes bugged out at the amazing deliciousness of it and we got ourselves composed again, we purchased a one-pound bag and he gave us the recipe for lychee martinis (peel lychee and put in baggie. Add gin or vodka. Place in freezer. Eat. Do not drive.).

We headed back on the bus, which took another two hours, and decided that we needed to rent a car if we wanted to leave Honolulu again. The bus dropped us off at Ala Moana center, which is sort of like a mall only, in true Hawaiian fashion, it has no roof. It was about dinner time, so we wandered around looking for a place to have dinner. We stumbled into a ramen bar, where we were among the only white people present. This spoke well to its authenticity. We sat down and placed our orders. They had two beers on draft, Kona Fire Rock Ale and a Kirin Ichiban. I asked what sort of beer the Kona was (since I’m not fond of IPAs). The waiter said, “It’s a draft.”

“Yes,” I said, “but is it an IPA…?”

He looked at me oddly. “It’s a draft beer.”

“I’ll have the Ichiban, thanks.”

The food was great, as was the beer. We carefully watched the people around us to see how we were supposed to tackle this giant bowl of noodles and broth. After some studying, we were feeling brave enough to try the newly learned techniques on our own and were rewarded with a very tasty meal.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to plan the next day out, and crawl into bed.

Happy Birthday, Lilit!

Note the paws gripping the knee for dear life. If she holds on tight enough, the hat might go away...

Ben indulged my whims today in a major way, which is one of many reasons why he is so wonderful. See, Lilit turned 14 today (I think — I know it’s some time in April, and a few years back, I picked an arbitrary day because, well, she won’t know the difference).

I asked Ben if we could make her a birthday cake, which we did. He got out some of the ground pork to defrost while I was at work, and when I got home, we mixed it with some matzo meal (good breadcrumb replacement), put it in a mini cake pan, and baked it. It came out looking sort of like a hamburger, only with a lovely caramelized top. And Ben asked for party hats, so I made party hats for the three of us. Lilit was less than pleased with her party hat, but the cake pretty much made up for it. She liked that part.

SnOMG: Calm between the storms?

Hey look, we found our cars finally.

"Parking lot". See also: "car burial mound"

Well, we’ve begun to dig out finally. But yesterday, we decided to first brave the outdoors for the sake of a walk. My friend Niki lives just down the street from us, so we decided to hike over. And hike really was the applicable word.

Once out in the parking lot, we were able to figure out which one was Ben’s car. It seems that there was a bit of color showing on the side of the cars opposite our window. Also, it appears that he was parked right next to me. So much for guessing.


Too beautiful to disturb...

On our way, we passed the playground. It was absolutely covered in snow, and looked like a fantastic romp. But when we got closer, it was just… too pristine to mess up. So instead of sliding down a snow covered slide and romping across a bridge that looked like it couldn’t bear the weight of another flake, we sat briefly on a bench and admired the view. If you’ve ever sat on a snow covered bench, you’ll understand why I emphasize briefly. Thus, on we moved.

We followed our street (decently plowed down to about 2″ of snow, slush, and ice) out to the side road, where the plows had made some progress. We could walk on the one-car width lane along with the few other people who were out and about (all on foot). You could even begin to see cars along the side of the road!

N. Laurel Road, mid day Saturday

Look! I see a sideview mirror!

So along we went, making our way over to Niki’s house. We crossed an absolutely deserted All Saint’s Road which, despite being closer to categorized as the “main road” was less well plowed than our street. Hell, it was less well plowed than our little court!

Once at the intersection, we came to a conundrum: Niki’s house is around the back of her court, so we could either continue down the semi-plowed road and then double back across the possibly-yet-not-probably plowed court, or we could jump down the hill and blaze a new trail.

We jumped.

I think you can see where this is going. We followed a set of footprints till we got down the hill (finding the snow to be brushing over the tops of my knees). At the bottom of the hill, we had the choice of going around the backs of the building or hoping the front sidewalks were dug out. They were not. And the footsteps ran out. I had the lead, which meant I was the one who had the shock and horror of suddenly discovering that 33″ of snow and my 31″ inseam are really not an appropriate match. I mean, I had two layers of pants plus a heavy knee-length coat, but it just reaches a point where it doesn’t matter anymore. Especially when we turned the corner up to Niki’s sidewalk and I fell in. Perhaps “fell” is the wrong word. I really sort of just sat down accidentally. But it’s very difficult to stand up when you have nothing to push up against. Ben dragged me back up and we trudged the last painstaking feet to her shoveled walkway.

After a particularly warm and pleasant visit, we trudged back home (simpler and more populated than the way over). Once again on Gold Dust, we met our across-the-hall-and-downstairs neighbor and had a great chat with him. Ben decided to go back out and start digging out his car just in case his artistic director decided to make the poor choice of having a superbowl-sunday-snowpocolypse matinee, and I went inside and made cookies for the guys.

Dinner was a very hearty bean soup, courtesy Meg’s recipe. We substituted garlic powder for dehydrated onion (having none of the latter and much of the former), smoked paprika for cayenne (same problem), and added some sausage we had in the fridge. Because we like to stretch our proteins farther, we served it over rice, and ended up with a VERY filling and satisfying meal. Thank you, Meg!

So now we’re going to hunker down again and watch the superbowl, which is the second game that we’ve been able to watch together since we decided to start following football last winter (oops). Maybe baseball season will go more smoothly.

Oh, and if you’re interested in snowfall totals, please see NOAA’s official numbers here. We are in N. Laurel, and Elkridge — which got pounded the hardest with a disgusting 38.3 inches!! — is where my folks are.

Plagues! part two

So I just blacked out for three weeks.  Where was I?

Ah yes!

Plague the 4th– Rhinoviruses.

fear me!

This has been a localized, Megan-sized plague for the most part.  Poor lady!  Just when we turned our keys in at the old place, they swooped in.  Little beasts have been munching on her brains* for weeks now.  Do you know any good, quick, congestion-clearing tricks?  She’s tried everything short of Liquid Plumr.

Plague the 5th–  Chairs.

no, fear me!

You wouldn’t think chairs were a problem, but you’re you, and we’re us, and sometimes our problems don’t make sense.

Looking around the room now, I see no fewer than eight chairs (inc. two stools) and a couch.  There’s another stool in the bedroom, two chairs in the storage closet, four folding chairs stacked in the sideboard, three gaming chairs in the coat closet, and four patio chairs on our deck.  Oh, and there are three chairs in our cars now to go out to family storage, on top of two more folding chairs that already went away– but forget those.  Let’s just talk what’s physically in the apartment.

Per Heiney’s Law, the furnishings in a one-bedroom apartment should not exceed S =  3.5 B, where S is the number of individual ‘seats’ in a domicile, and B is the number of butts possessed by leaseholders or permanent occupants.  As Megan and I each possess only one butt, S = 7 should be our target; enough seats so that we can have a few people over (5) in a comfortable fashion.  A larger party than that, and people will be standing or shifting position frequently, and excess furniture will only get in the way.

Include all the chairs stored in the apartment and count the couch (conservatively) as only two seats, and what do we find?

S = 24

Twenty-four.  Megan and I would need 6.86 butts apiece to justify this many chairs.  (Assuming that we, as multi-butted or ‘poly-gluted’ people, would still have single-butted friends.)

Don’t let this happen to you.


All said, we made it through the move alive and sane.  Takes more than a few plagues to keep a good couple down.   Thanks to everyone who helped or supported the move directly; and to the rest of you, thanks for your thoughts.


*That’s how colds work, right?

New Apartment Update

So I’ll leave it to Ben to finish up his list of plagues (oh yes, he’s not done. This has been a momentous move), but I thought a minor update was in order. We’re starting to sort things out here, and it’s been fantastic that we both had the time away from work to get this move finished. We are officially finished with the old apartment and only have one place that all our things are stored (other than parents’ houses still, but those are on the list for later this year).  This move has been educational, to say the least. (See: list of plagues.)

We invented a word! (Or, at least, I think we invented it.) Intoxistupification: the point where you’re just so mentally exhausted that you feel slightly drunk and no amount of sleep helps you recover. It also leads to an earlier time for stupid-o-clock, the time of day when everything becomes hilariously funny for absolutely no reason.

The cat has decided she’s settled, at least. See, a cat only needs a few things to make a place home, and this morning she found the last one. First, she needs a place to eat. Second, the litterbox. Third, hiding places (and ohhhh do we have plenty of those. At the moment, the apartment is a kitten’s playground!). Fourth, a couple of people she doesn’t loathe. Fifth, her favorite toy. Now that the toy has been located and there is sufficient floor space to romp in, she’s happy. Life is good. Lilit needs nothing else. Except maybe a patch of sunlight occasionally, but the nice big windows provide that all day long.

Today’s project is to get the kitchen usable. We’re about halfway there, I’d say. There was some purging during the move, but I think the list of appliances to shed will be growing. Anybody need a pasta maker in great shape?

Plagues part one

So, I’ll admit, no rain of toads or river of blood, but our move has been marked by what are think are reasonably characterized as the ravages of a vengeful deity.

Plague the 1st: Snow.  You know the Snowpocalypse that blanketed the news and people’s cars last week?  We were supposed to rent our U-Haul on the very Saturday that was all going down.  U-Haul called us in the morning to ask “Are you really sure you want this truck?”  Like good gentlemen, they didn’t penalize us for pushing our move date back, so we rescheduled for a hopefully less snowy Tuesday.  Not getting the truck left us staring down the barrel of:

Plague the 2nd:  Boxes.  On Friday night, we’d brought over lots of boxes of a wide assortment of things, but no furniture.  “We’re getting the furniture on Saturday,”  was the rationale.  So when we couldn’t get the truck on Saturday (or leave the apartment), we were surrounded by boxes with no place to unpack them.  Visions of boxes have filled my head all through the Christmas season.

Plague the 3rd:  Mold.  In the process of cleaning out our old apartment, we found a mess of tasty blackish mold growing on the wall under the headboard of our bed!  That explains this blacklung we’ve been having.

(update– the management is not blaming or charging us for the mold, which is excellent and reasonable .  Except now Megan’s grandfather doesn’t have any fun lawsuits to conduct.)

More to come…

Visual Guide to 2009 Travel

Visual guide to our 2009 Travel