Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bell Photo of the week - Week 17

This is the first week where I have really felt like I am getting bigger in a short amount of time.  Along with having an itchy stomach quite often, I've been awakened by  round ligament pain which is, I'm assuming, from sleeping on my side with nothing under my stomach. I still have not definitely felt the baby move so I guess I will just have to keep waiting for that to happen.  I decided that showing only the profile only tells half the story, so I've included a second picture that definitely shows the growing bell. 

Before moving to Denmark, my friend Rachael came to Texas for one last weekend together before I left.  While we were in the Gap, I was looking at the sale clothes, but was soon informed by a saleswoman that I was actually looking at maternity sale.  After my initial embarrassment, I realized that all of the shirts were less than 5 dollars.  "What a great deal" I thought to myself. I had already heard about the clothing prices here so I decided that I would spend a few dollars and buy some maternity shirts in advance.  While I have not yet been wearing them, I will add that I have tried them all at least once...with a lumpy sweatshirt baby.  Special is the only word that comes to mind...One can't be taught such great poses such is this one:

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's a....

Boy!  The night before the ultrasound, I was worried that the baby would be sleeping and the midwife wouldn't be able to get a good look at his/her gender.  The next morning I was drinking lots of water and orange juice in hopes of getting lots of movement. Within the first minute she asked me "So, what do you think you are having?"   Well, even I could see it was boy so I guess I had nothing to be worried about!  We posted the actual ultrasound on Facebook and several of our friends mentioned how he was quite the exhibitionist! My dad's view was that he was probably sitting modestly and that the midwife was just a voyeur! I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion! Anyway, Ed and I are really excited about the yet unnamed gentleman joining our family.  I am the oldest and grew up always wanting an older brother so I secretly hoped it was a boy...but if it would have been a girl, I obviously would have been really happy about that...I mean, have you seen baby girl clothes??  And, not only that but mothers and daughters always have at least one thing in common--they are both girls!   Speaking of clothes, I ordered my first baby item ever when the gender was still a mystery.  Before I was pregnant, we'd refer to our future unborn children as 'cubs', as in bear cubs. Well, this little number was on sale at Old Navy and I guess if we would have had a girl, she would have been wearing it with a skirt and blue bow!

Novice Sushi Maker

Since being taken over by an unborn human that has demanding taste in food, I have regularly craved rice and vegetables.  Normally vegetarian stir-fry is good enough but in the last couple weeks, I have been craving sushi-not the raw fish kind, just california and vegetarian rolls.  I don't know how this escaped my knowledge, but there are several sushi restaurants in town.  I didn't know this though until after we went to Hamburg, where I requested that we eat at a restaurant with sushi.  Having sushi once seemed to make the craving worse!  So the night of our second ultrasound, where we learned we were having a.....baby, well, let's just say we were celebrating so we went to Bar Sushi in downtown Kolding for dinner.  It was great, but really really expensive. (not that that was surprising- most dining-out meals are expensive here)  In Destin, we went to a place where one roll cost between $6-8 dollars.  Here, one vegetarian roll was 80 DKK- USD equivalent of $14.  I won't go into more of the prices but will just say that I was inspired to make my own sushi since I was still craving it but not prepared to shell out $30 for 2 rolls. 

I easily found all the necessary supplies in the Asian aisle at the grocery store.  I'm not sure how much the mat, nori, etc set me back but I would guess it was probably the equivalent of 1 additional meal for myself at Bar Sushi.  I watched several videos before deciding to use this website as my instruction.  I also documented my attempt at sushi-making through a few pictures so I will include those in this post for humor more than information. 

I started by rinsing the sushi rice (not sure what kind of rice this is but it says 'Sushi Rice' on the bag so I will stick with that) for about 10 minutes.  This may have been overkill but I can say that after soaking and boiling the rice, it was sticky--which is believe is fairly important factor in sushi-making. 

While the rice was cooling, I wrapped my mat in cling-wrap because I was going to be making 'inside-out' rolls and it was recommended to do this in order to keep the rice from sticking to the mat. 

After the rice cooled, I divided my sheet of Nori in half and put the shiny down on the mat (so the rough side was facing me)

This would be the rough side of the Nori
I dipped my hands in water (to prevent the rice from sticking) and then formed a ball of rice and placed it in the center of sheet.

I dipped my hands in the water again and attempted to spread the rice out to the edges of the sheet.  In retrospect, I think I did not spread the rice thin enough because my sushi rolls seemed very rice-y and were difficult to roll--maybe because of the excessive rice. 

I flipped the sheet over so the rice was facing down and begin adding my filling.  I did make and use my own spicy mayo--though I don't know that it was terribly necessary since I end up putting a lot of wasabi and ginger on my rolls--but it did taste good on the few rolls that I ate without wasabi. 

The next picture would be of the attempted roll but I had my hands full trying to shove the cucumber, avocado and carrot into a tiny cylinder... Something wasn't quite right with my final product. Sauce and vegetables were squirting out the sizes, the nori sheet was visible at the seem, as well as some additional escaped avocado.  It was pretty ugly.

But, I wasn't going to give up so I ended up making 4 rolls in total for the practice, and because I had bowl full of rice.  My final roll looked like slightly improved..though I'm pretty sure I've never seen a green stain on the rice in a restaurant.

The final step was cutting the them.  One of Ed's friends told him that he puts his sushi in a freezer for a bit to harden them up before cutting. I tried that but was probably too impatient because they were not very firm when I did cut them.  They certainly aren't winning any beauty contest anytime soon.  I suppose I could have trimmed the loose carrot when I was slicing them.

Looking down reveals a few more flaws...too much rice,  seriously misshapen rolls,  (though this partially from when I sliced them--it was sort of like slicing a warm loaf of bread-no matter how gently and quickly you attempt to saw through the top crust, it seems that the rest of the loaf manages to be crushed in the process)  oh and how about the guy in the upper right hand corner- his filling seems to be spilling out of the top of his friend to the left.


And with the wasabi and ginger.  Those could be twin names to someone into quirky baby names now that I see them together in print :)  

So, for my first time, I think I did alright. They were edible, tasted good, were semi-healthy (I don't think mayo screams healthy which is why I added that semi to the front of healthy :) and didn't cost more than going out to dinner.  I'm going to call this attempt at sushi-making a success!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


The end of March seemed downright Spring-like here. It was sunny and each day seemed warmer than the previous.  Since the weather was getting better and the days longer, Ed constructed a fenced-in area for Scout around a small section of the yard off our backdoor. Because Scout was going out, we started going out as well and sitting on the patio while Scout was patrolling the border.  We eventually decided that it would be really nice to actually have a place to sit (aside from the ground) and maybe have a place to eat few meals in the summer. And thus the hunt for the perfect outdoor table ensued.  After literally visiting every single store in the Kolding that had any type of outdoor furniture, we picked a table.  The table was reasonably priced but none of the reasonably priced chairs looked right sitting next to the table. (trouble with dining chairs seems to be a re-occuring theme for us)  But, like the last time we had a table but no chairs, I didn't worry about it. I figured the chairs would find us.  Ed picked up the boxed and disassembled table on a Friday afternoon. We were going to Ikea the next morning to buy a mattress for the baby's future sleeping cage so we figured we'd check out their outdoor chairs while we were at it.   Saturday morning rolls around.  I crawl out of bed expecting to see another sunny, blue sky day...but no.  It was sleet-snowing (a wintery mix if you want to be technical about it) Yes!  More sleet and a touch of snow!!  On the day that we were going to set up our new table, a table purchased with sitting in the outdoors in mind! Well, I wasn't going to let that put my Ikea trip on hold so we set off despite the gray skies and rain (it changed to just rain after awhile).  We ended up finding chairs and shoving four of them in the back seat of the mouse car (yes, that alone is a miracle-I should have taken a picture of that! I should mention they were already assembled--I wasn't shoving boxes in the car, it was a stack of chairs)  Somewhere between the morning winter-fest and our return from Ikea, the weather went back to being spring-like! Ed set up the table, I attached the feet to the bottoms of chair legs and now the outdoor dining set is complete and ready for warmer weather!
See Scout. He loves his new space and has managed to not destroy anything yet.
So, the shortened version of the post: The morning we chose to assemble outdoor furniture was the same morning the last unexpected wintery weather arrived.  Irony.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

First true pregnancy post

I'm definitely not one who has many pictures of myself in a swimsuit on Facebook or anywhere on the internet for that matter, but I've decided that I am going to document the ''bell's'' growth sans any covering because 1) at this point, one would be hard-pressed to see any change in size with a shirt on 2) there's a human growing under the skin! It's pretty awesome.  3) If in the end, I do end up having stretch marks, dark lines etc, I think I should remember that! Now I have decided to leave off my head though for a number of reasons: my stool stacked with 12 books to add additional height to the camera is tall enough.  I'm not going to make the stack of books 20 tall to document my face, my face that is not benefiting from that 'pregnancy glow' So, without further delay...The Bell 
14 weeks, 2 days

16 weeks, 2 days
Some people have all the skills when posing for their self taken belly photos.  I seemed to have missed out on that skill so I'm sure there will be plenty more awkward arm poses to come and maybe a few non-self-taken pictures will eventually make their way to the blog, though I don't seem to be any more skilled in posing in that department either! 
and this was actually on 15 weeks and 2 days-i wasn't home to take the picture in my usual spot. 
 As far as how the rest of the pregnancy is going and has gone, I am happy to report that what everyone says about the 2nd trimester being the best trimester is true.  My night nausea is gone, I'm not eating every five minutes and I can still sleep comfortably. (not that that was an issue in the first trimester, but I am a dedicated back sleeper.  I'm trying to transition to sleeping on my side but I always seem to wake up on my back) I even think that my wild hormonal mood swings are maybe less wild but Ed would be the one to ask about that since he was the unfortunate recipient of my highs and lows.  The waistbands of my pants were uncomfortably tight fairly early--around 9 weeks so I bought a belly band to extend the life of my non-pregnancy pants.  While I was initially excited that it worked, I quickly discovered that the 2 bottoms that attach the band to jeans are a bit inconvenient for someone who is now making frequent trips to the bathroom.  My thoughtful friend sent me a pair of maternity pants from Ross and I bit the bullet ordered a couple pairs from Old Navy and the Gap. And there are always leggings.  If only pajama pants were acceptable clothing for public outings...

We had our 2nd ultrasound after Easter.  It was neat to how different the baby was from weeks 11 to 16.  The spinal cord and ribs were clearly visible.  The baby was hiccuping and swallowing. The brains 2 halves were there and the arms and legs were looking much more human-like.  Oh, and the gender is now known....!   I think I will just have to wait and share in a different post though :)   

We've have actually purchased furniture for the babies room--a crib and a large, 16- cubed bookshelf from Ikea that will act as both a closet and a bookshelf (and will probably store many other baby-related items since there is no closet in the room). We're are using an already owned desk for the changing table and are still looking for a rocking chair. After we find that, we will just need all the many baby items that are necessary in order to take care of a baby.  It is actually a little bit overwhelming to think about it all!   

Well, I think that is about enough pregnancy talk for a post! Hope you're all enjoying the spring weather wherever you are!

A Second Look at Hamburg

At the end of November, I went to Hamburg with some new friends that I have made in Denmark.  I wrote a post about it, but really, I felt like I didn't have anything to say because I had spent most of my weekend there in various shopping locations--indoor and out.  Not that there was anything wrong with that trip, but I came home feeling like I had been to a city, but hadn't seen what the city was 'really like' (I know that's impossible to do in a weekend--I lived in DC for 6 months and was only beginning to see what it was really like) .  Around Easter weekend, Ed had a few days off of work and the dog kennel thankfully had an opening so we decided to go back to Hamburg for a couple nights.   

Before moving to Denmark, I doubt I had ever thought to myself "I would love to visit Hamburg"  While it is the 2nd largest city in Germany, it doesn't have the any big tourist attraction that an American would want to see--i.e. it's not a Paris, London or Amsterdam (maybe this is different for someone who has grown up in Europe and I am sorry if you are an American that has Hamburg at the top of your 'must see before I die' list! ). Anyway,  Ed is a huge fan of TripAdvisor so he spend several hours searching for the best hotel and what we could do in the city while we were there since it is not the season of Christmas Markets and Glühwein.  The number one thing to do in Hamburg according to TA is a museum called Mini Wonderland (watch the video if you have time! it's awesome!)  Well, we couldn't deny the fact that it was the top tourist attraction so we booked our time slot and set out Friday morning to see this giant Mini world.  Once arriving, I could totally see why this thing got such amazing reviews.  Unfortunately it was Easter weekend so it was packed! 

The lights would go down every 15 minutes or so and then it would 'be night' in the whole area.  Of course Las Vegas was in the America section

 It was fun to look at all the tiny little people and what they were doing. Some were doing perfectly normal things, while others, not so much!  Men cutting down trees that fall onto a house, a parking lot gate closing on the hood of a car....I think one could spend hours here if there were not the crowds of people!  When and if we go back, we will probably pick a middle of the week day in hopes of there being a few less people to contend with for rail space to peek at the sights.
 Our favorite part was the airport.  All the planes in this picture will eventually taxi to the runway and take off.  Others will land and take an empty gate.  I took a video of it but it really didn't turn out well so I will just let you watch the video on the Mini Wonderland website to see the planes in action.

 Mini Wonderland is near the water and several of Ed's colleagues recommended taking a boat tour through the loading docks of the port to see all the giant cargo ships up close.  We found only 1 tour company that offered the tour in English and we were there just in time so we set sail to see Europe's 2nd largest shipping port after Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  While taking pictures, it seemed like the pictures could convey the massiveness of each of the cargo ships but upon returning home and looking through the pictures, I realized that pictures did not do the size of the ships any justice!
View of the port from near the boardwalk

Mærsk, the Danish shipping company

I think this is a Chinese company.  The tour guide said it would take a boat of this size 21 days to sail from the North Sea to Hong Kong

 While we were going by, containers were being loaded and unloaded from the ships.  Our household goods sailed across the Atlantic on a ship like this.  After seeing all the hundreds...thousands of containers, we were kind of amazed that we ever saw our couch and dining table again.  It's amazing that they can keep track of all these moving boxes.

A South Korean company

Neat view through the lane of ships
I had to add this last picture because the boat we were sailing on was about the size of the small boat in this picture. Not a big size difference or anything :)
Our last big stop of the day was to climb the tower of St. Machaelis Church.  I think walking up to the top of tall structures with narrow stairs and stone walls is quickly becoming my favorite thing to do in Europe.  I'm trying to convince Ed that it is a good idea to visit Florence when I'm 7 or 8 months pregnant and walk/climb to the top of the Duomo. He doesn't seem convinced though....

 This only took us about 12 minutes though--wasn't too bad.  I've been using the elliptical or 'cross-trainer' as the Danes call it everyday for about 30 minutes but even that can't prevent huffing and puffing after 12 straight minutes of stair stepping.  The views from the top gave a neat perspective of the cities layout though so the climb was worth it. 
Port, St. Pauli and the infamous Reeperbahn in this direction (I don't think I actually wrote about the event that made the Reeperbahn infamous in my mind but it was interesting to say the least! )

The city center to the left side of the picture (Rathaus is the tower with green roof)

Warehouse district (with Mini wonderland) in the brick buildings in the background

And a few more pictures that both Ed and I took earlier in the morning.
Rathaus in the spring. Last time I was here, Santa Claus was flying over the square in his sleigh being followed by a strange plastic cloud with a seat for an angel who was along for the ride (I didn't get it either-I'll just include a blurry picture to show you)
Okay, now for a few pictures from Ed's camera (after my Santa Claus rabbit trail) and then I will close this picture-filled look at Hamburg!
Lake near our hotel- The George.  Great hotel, by the way. Nice rooms, fast check-in, underground parking garage.

Spring Daffodils in the morning

Kuchen, breakfast of champions- and coffee--real coffee for me :)  Obviously not all the time but I was on vacation!

Notice the banks of this waterway--it rises and falls with the tide despite being around 100 km from the North Sea

Mini Wonderland

Plane taking off--ignore the phone in hand.  They couldn't be avoided

Looking down the boardwalk (i guess the boardwalk isn't in the picture but this is where the water meets the land

Ed's favorite thing. He took a video but it's not on Facebook so I guess I can't share it here

I will never forget sunglasses again.  I'm like a mole in the sun after living in Denmark for a winter (notice the bell--what Ed has taken to calling my stomach.  I'm worried about the names if this size is considered a 'bell'!)

St. Michaelis from afar
At the entrance of St. Michaelis