Sunday, December 28, 2008

Safe furniture

It's been a while since the last post, and a lot has changed: I left my job to stay home with Henry full-time, and we have been having a great time together! (But I admit, I am always really glad when Brad gets home from work and I have another grown-up to talk to.) Henry is 5 months old, a real little person, and he cracks me up.

I love his sweet smile and laugh, and he happens to laugh a lot while on our beloved changing table.

So, today, I am scouting out more adorable organic baby clothing (Speesees brand, if you're wondering) online, and I come across news that says there are high levels of formaldehyde in products by the manufacturer of our changing table/dresser combo.

This is our dresser, only ours is in black. It's the Jardine Olympia combo unit.

That article lists the biggest offenders of formaldehyde emissions, and our changing table/dresser combo isn't on there. But does that mean it's safe?

With our carpets, and builder's paint on the walls, and curtains bought with "eco-friendly, energy-saving" thermal backing (that I now realize is made of PVC), and various cheap furniture throughout our house, I know there's more off-gassing happening than I'd like to think about. Hopefully we can change that one piece of furniture at a time.

But I was hoping for the baby's room to have as fresh a start as possible, to have at least one room in the whole house that was "safe." It ticks me off that it's not as safe as I thought--and that these manufacturers have been selling their products knowing what they contain and not warning consumers. And it ticks me off that we've got a solid wood piece of furniture that cost upward of $400 and it might still be unsafe!

Of course, I'd rather not re-buy a different piece of furniture. Then again, I'd also rather not wonder constantly just how "low" the levels of toxic chemicals are. I hate that parents even have to wonder about the safety of products--but I'm really glad that there are people out there watching out for this, and making the companies change.

I hope that if Henry decides to have kids, he won't have to worry about the chemicals in baby food, bottles, clothing, furniture, or homes. I'm sure parents will always worry. But hopefully it won't be about something that should get fixed now, at the turn of the century. I'm very proud to live in a state that's a leading force in making that happen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beetle and a baby-carrier

Despite my previous post's wonderings about the implications of genetic testing, I am still also concerned with the more pressing matter of getting around town with Henry in the Beetle. I love looking in my rearview mirror and seeing Henry's reflection in his own little backseat mirror. He seems to like looking around, out the back window, and he still loves to snooze while I'm driving.

The only problem is actually getting him into the car. As of 4 months of being a parent, I maintain that it's doable to have a Beetle and a baby--but I now realize that bench-presses really should have been and important part of my pre-baby planning!

So, I have a Peg Perego 2007 Primo Viaggo car seat (in "revi black"--white dots on a black background. Henry LOVES looking at the dots!). There's room for the car seat in the back of my 2003 New Beetle--it's just hoisting it back there that is the challenge with the 2-door Beetle (OK, it's a hatchback, so techincally it's 3 doors. But you know what I mean.)

I just surmised a probably unscientific weight for the carseat. (weighed myself, then held the carseat and weighed us both, found the difference. Makes sense, right?) I determined that the carseat, by itself, weighs 10.4 pounds.

Henry now weighs about 15 pounds (using the same method). No wonder my back's sore! That's 25 pounds of baby + baby-protection I'm manuevering past the folded front seat and into the back!

Sometimes, I opt to crawl into the backseat and place or retrieve Henry from the carseat, instead of taking the whole thing out. I think that will be my new preferred method...unless he's sleeping. Then I will hoist him, carseat and all, until my muscles completely give out, rather than wake him up!

So, it's very possible to travel with the baby and the carseat in the back of the Beetle. But I am starting to see (or feel, I should say) the intrigue of the less stylish but easily accessible minivan (or a lighter-weight car seat)!

Not that I'm trading in the Beetle any time soon, or opting for a lighter carseat, either. (Although it would have been nice if this seat could have been stylish, safe, AND lightweight. I guess I'll settle for safe and stylish, though.) Besides, Henry clearly appreciates the mod look of it, and for now, that's worth some heavy lifting. We'll see if my back agrees with my aesthetics.

jeans and genes

I tried to find some decent-fitting pants today, as Brad wandered Ann Taylor with Henry, looking wide-eyed at all the bright and sparkly holiday clothes, and very happy facing out (finally!) in the Baby Bjorn. I was unsuccessful in finding any jeans (or other pants) that were better than the maternity pants I was currently wearing. So yes, I am still wearing maternity pants!

Anyway, after Henry was sleeping soundly tonight (maybe dreaming of colors and shapes he'd never seen until visiting today's Christmas-decorated mall!), Brad and I settled onto the couch to watch DVR'd shows we'd been meaning to catch up on. Brad fell asleep almost instantly (he got up with Henry last night so I could sleep some more!). I, having had a nap AND a Frappucino this afternoon, took this as a sign it was a good time to watch my recorded Oprah of the day.

One of the topics of today's show was 23 and me, a company that seems to make it shockingly easy to find out all about your genetic history and predisposition to traits and diseases. It was like I was suddenly watching a sci-fi movie. But it was just Oprah.

It's amazing to me that you can get this information for $399. I know it's a lot of money, but you'd have this information about yourself for the rest of your life--and maybe the information you get could make your life better. Or not.

I didn't opt to do any genetic testing while I was pregnant. The only condition I was concerned with, due to a slight family history, was one I'd had the test done long ago for anyway, and I wasn't a carrier. I just didn't really want to know any more. And, as crazy as this sounds, not only did I not want to find out the baby's sex before it was born, but I started to think--toward the end, after having many ultrasounds--that maybe I shouldn't even be getting so many ultrasounds. Maybe it's not good to intrude on what's still a mystery. (OK, they were necessary for health reasons, so of course I would have gotten them. And I did like peeking in on the baby. But I started to feel a little weird about it.)

But, I'm still interested in the concept of this DIY genome kit.

Maybe the difference now has to do with wanting to protect myself and my family however I can--and now that we're all here, if I find out I have a likely chance of getting, say, osteoporosis, I could make myself and future children eat a lot of organic milk. (Or whatever could help prevent that.) You get the idea.

On the other hand, percentages are not guarantees, and maybe learning there's a good chance of a certain condition would only make you focus on the negative, and be afraid of it. I don't know. How could you know if the results would make you confident or worried?

It is undeniably, crazilly futuristic, though. I am still impressed at the amazingness of e-mail or IM, sometimes (seriously!). So this just blows my mind.

I wonder what kind of traits it tells you. I'm sure it covers many diseases, but what else? Can it delve into nature-vs.-nurture topics, like "natural" talents or skills?

I don't know if I'd ever do the test. But it's pretty intriguing to know I could. And it would really take the family tree concept to a whole new level.

Friday, October 24, 2008

On the town

Henry, the Beetle, and I have been getting out a little bit more--mostly using our feet (and the stroller), but also driving around.

Ready for a trip!

I took Henry to my office for the first time (well, the first time when my coworkers were actually there), and he provided me with the very educational experience of changing my first diaper in the trunk of the Beetle. It was just loaded with experience.

Then, when I had the diaper changed and my baby was smiling at me from the trunk of my car, and I was feeling quite pleased, he peed before I could get the new diaper on him. Another learning experience.

And yet another, more embarrassing one (for me, anyway) this afternoon:

I venture to Target, just me and Henry. He is a dear and doesn't even make a peep the whole time we're in the store, even though he wakes up halfway through our trip. I get to checkout, manage to have a little bit of conversation with the checker and the person in line behind me, pay for everything, and stride confidently to the doors. A great trip! I am so satisfied with myself. Then I hear, "Ma'am!" and turn to see all of my purchases in bags, waiting for me at checkout.

I thought I was doing much better on sleep, but apparently not.

(As a side note, as the checker is yelling, "Ma'am!" and waving me down, I turn and some guy next to me says, "Your shirt." I looked down and saw nothing wrong with my shirt, so who knows what was going on there. I actually don't want to know.)

Just when I start to feel like I've got it together, another "learning experience" pops up and makes me feel that having it all together is a hopeless endeavor. I think I just have to be glad that Henry and I both ended up successfully buying things and getting them home, without either of us crying. And that at least if I had to forget something on the shopping trip, it wasn't Henry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Adventuring out: Beetle, baby, and me

Henry is now 2 months old, and my post-baby posts have been, um, a little sparse. As I'm returning to feeling more like myself again (or at least, a version of myself who can live on a lot less sleep), I hope this will improve!

But we have now had some adventures out of the house!

I admit, I haven't had the guts yet to face my ultimate fear: going to the grocery store with Henry by myself. I just can't quite get over the thought of having my cart loaded up with frozen food, only to have Henry start screaming uncontrollably. Then I have to decide: do I rush out of the store as fast as I can (what I would want to do), but leaving my cart abandoned? Or do I try to get it together, calm him down in the store, and finish the shopping trip? (The latter is more reasonable sounding, but a lot scarier!)

Anyway, I have at least ventured, just me and Henry, to the next most terrifying public place: the mall. This trip required the stroller. But I can now say, from personal experience, that you can fit a baby in a carseat AND a stroller into a Beetle...but it's not gracefully done (by me, anyway).

The only way I can get the stroller to fit is by putting it in the back seat next to Henry. And that involves either hoisting it in through the trunk, or angling the thing in through my driver's side door. Both are difficult. I should have taken up weight lifting!

On the other hand, I have to say, I felt greatly accomplished when I did manage to do this and stroll around with my baby out amongst other actual people. I felt like a pro. (That is, after I realized that I couldn't take the escalators with the stroller and had to locate the elevators in the parking garage to actually get into the mall.)

A much easier feat is going on a walk in the park. This excludes the Beetle from the fun, but it does save gas!

Henry on our first walk, just the two of us.

[EDIT: The sun shade is down only for photographic purposes...he's safely covered up during the walk!]

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ready to roll

Our baby arrived--exactly one month ago today!

Henry at 4 weeks old

Henry Carter was born on July 16 at 5:57 a.m. in Davis. We had a safe and fairly quick labor--so quick that we even surprised the nurses at the hospital when we returned so soon after they sent us home. In fact, if we'd stuck to the recommendation to stay home and monitor the contractions, as Brad's coworker Jennifer has pointed out, I would have had a REALLY interesting blog entry--since I might have delievered the baby in the car on the way to the hospital!

Fortunately, all turned out very well, and Henry is healthy and keeping us more busy than I ever thought possible. Well, maybe "busy" isn't quite the right word--"constantly attentive," perhaps?

It's much harder than I ever expected to be a parent. I didn't think it would be easy, of course--but it was impossible for me, pre-baby, to know the feeling of being "on call" 24/7. Unlike other jobs, you can't exactly tell the baby, "I'm sorry, my shift is over." Well, you could tell him that, but it probably won't matter!

Henry is a very sweet baby, though he seems to have the patience of Donald Duck--he's very easygoing and content until something sets him off, and then he's got a few seconds until he blows! Fortunately, he calms down pretty quickly. And he's adorable. Even when he's screaming (depending on my mental state), I think he's pretty cute--his mouth is just all gums!

Today, on his one-month birthday, he took his very first car trip in the Beetle. Brad expertly installed the second car seat base into it last night, and we all went out today on a big adventure--to Babies "R" Us, where we had to argue a bit about their strict return policy (before they let us do what we wanted, thank goodness--I think Henry's well-timed crying outburst might have given us an advantage), and to my office, where I retrieved most of the plants at my desk so that Rebecca isn't more burdened than necessary with caring for them while I'm gone.

Henry seems to like the car, and his carseat, and he likes to move.

Henry likes to move even when he's laying down--he's batting toys and scooting!

When we've ventured out in the car previously, we took the Prius, and I sat in the backseat with Henry while Brad drove. Today, we had to take the Prius to get repaired (more on that below), so we each took a car to the repair shop. I peeked at Henry in the mirror many, many times--although I couldn't really do much while driving when I saw his little head had fallen sideways in what looked like an uncomfortable position! But I also couldn't do much to console him when he started crying at every stoplight. Once we got moving, though, he quieted instantly. He's got the need for speed. Guess he got used to that on our daily commute!

As for the Prius's repairs: As you might know, last week I went on my first outing by myself in six weeks (having been put on modified bedrest for high blood pressure for about three weeks, pre-Henry's considerate early arrival, and then having been on my own self-induced house stay after he was born). It was great. It had been so long since I'd driven myself anyplace that I felt like I did when I first got my driver's license!

I'd had such a fun outing (to acupuncture) in the morning that I thought I'd go on another one, down the street to the store, in the afternoon. I took the Prius that time--and am blaming what happened next on a severe lack of sleep. I didn't pull the car far enough into the garage when I got back--and closed the garage door on the Prius's bumper!

So, I insisted we pay for the Prius to get fixed ASAP. I could not stand to see the Prius's shiny bumper all scratched up knowing that I made such a silly mistake!

Thankfully, today's outing went much more smoothly. As we were driving home, it was surreal and wonderful to see my usually empty backseat filled up with my new little family: Brad and Henry. And a lot of plants.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Well rounded

...and I'm not talking about the Beetle!

Me at 34 weeks

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nostalgic for what you've got

It's a weird feeling, but one that I've had pretty much since I was shocked and overwhelmed and thrilled when I saw that second little line on the pregnancy test stick: total elation mixed with a feeling like the time was going by too fast.

The baby went from being a wish to a little line on a test I could see to someone I could talk to and feel, and then communicate with. It's a crazy, incredible concept, and I feel like my brain never quite got caught up to how fast the baby was growing and becoming its own new person.

It takes almost 10 months, which, in the beginning I figured would give me plenty of time to relish being pregnant, but now that I am only a mere 42 days from the estimated "due" date, I'll say what I've been saying since the first week I knew: I can't believe it's going by so fast!

It makes me nostalgic for being pregnant...when I still am! I don't know if that's nutty or just appreciative, but whatever it is, I'm glad the baby, and me and Brad, are enjoying the ride together.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fat quarters of fun

I don't think I got the sewing gene from my mom and grandma. My last project is a half-completed, almost-cute cover for Sparky's cage, which I abandoned about two years ago (I also had plans for embroidery of Sparky's name on the front, after I finished the sewing). Then we got Nina, and I realized I was never going to make TWO cage covers, so forget it!

But I still like looking at fabric, and my mom's making me a baby quilt, so it's working out well for me. (OK, I guess she's technically making the baby a quilt, but I get to pick the fabric!)

Etsy has so many cool fabrics available from its sellers, and the best part is that my mom has instructed me to get "fat quarters" (quarter-yards of fabric--I'm learning already), and I really just like saying "fat quarters." There's something supremely satisfying about getting "fat quarters of fabric."

Here's some of what we're going to use so far. It's going to be a fun modern-patchwork quilt!

"Apples and Pears" by Alexander Henry, from seller SewGoodFabrics

"Geometric" by Free Spirit and Prints Charming (haha!), from seller PlumTickledFabrics

"Hot Couturier" by Robert Kaufman, from seller PlumTickledFabrics

And this is fabric for a pillow to go on the NurseryWorks yellow rocker:

"The Drawing Room" by Anna Maria Horner, from seller PlumTickledFabrics

Baby owner's manual

Not post-related: I have been sick with a nasty cold for the past few days. Let me just say, being pregnant with a cold is even less fun than usual. But I think the worst is over (I don't have a fever anymore, and I can sit up for more than a few minutes without getting pooped!). I think the baby must be feeling a little better, too, since it's been going nuts moving around last night and this morning!

Anyway, unfortunately I wasn't feeling well for Brad's first "Father-to-Be" Day. Brad had said he didn't want/need any presents, so that left me no choice but to get him stuff that I like, such as the Baby Owner's Manual!

It's pretty funny, and proves that clearly, many people are strangely drawn to comparing their babies with their vehicles. The only problem with it is that it is styled so much like an owner's manual that my eyes start to glaze over automatically when I first open it up. But it's also a lot cuter.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Prius and presents!

My cousin and two oldest friends (oldest meaning length of time they've known me, not that I'm saying they're old...oh, you know what I mean) threw me an awesome baby shower recently at my mom and dad's house. I loved getting to visit with people I haven't seen in a while (and with those I get to see every day, too), and having them all in one place was a very fun, unique experience. It was kind of like the wedding, only with more comfortable clothes.

And, a benefit to seeing everybody...presents!

Fortunately, a lot of people came to celebrate and filled the house. The living room was also full of gifts, all so cute and beautifully wrapped. (I have to say, I think baby stuff tops wedding decorations in downright cuteness.) I hope everyone wasn't totally bored with the extensive unwrapping involved, but it was exciting for me!

The exciting part for my dad came when it was time to pack the new presents into the Prius. There were skeptics, but I had faith that the Beetle's magical storage powers would transfer to the Prius. (Since I had just paid $55 to fill up the Beetle the day before, I was in an extra gas-saving mood, and thus, drove the Prius to my mom's house.)

I was right!

Everything but the awesome (but cumbersome) high chair fit into the Prius. No U-Haul (or SUV) required! OK, so I couldn't really see out of my back window on the way home, but all the more reason to stay in the slow lane (and save some more gas by going slower, too!).

Thanks for filling my heart with love, and the Prius with presents, everyone. You made it a great day.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Driving, allergies, and the teacups

I've been pretty lucky. While Brad has always suffered from seasonal allergies, I have managed to skate around them. Last year, my eyes were a little itchy, and I took some drops for a few days. This year, though, I thought I'd get away completely free and clear. But, I've been having this on-and-off vertigo/spinning feeling for the past couple of weeks, and today my doctor thinks that it's because of fluid in my ears caused by allergies!

I would never have guessed. I'm not sneezing or having watery eyes or a runny nose, or any of that other unpleasant stuff I see Brad going through. Apparently, my body reacts to allergens like I'm always on the teacups at Disneyland. (And it's not that fun anymore.)

I could probably even deal with it for the most part, except the small matter of driving myself places. Like work. If I could teleport to work, I probably wouldn't think of taking the prescriptions. But, my sick days are already dwindling, and I think spring is going to outlast them. (Which is good--I love spring. But probably not good, allergy-wise.)

The problem with the prescriptions I got is that they're "class C" pregnancy drugs--which means that they've had bad reactions in the animal research studies, but since pregnant women don't get experimented on, nobody really knows how they affect fetuses. They could be totally fine, or they could not be fine.

I asked my doctor if I could try Claritin first, which is a "class B" drug, meaning it doesn't seem to cause birth defects. He said sure. I'm also going to my first acupuncture appointment next week since becoming pregnant, so I hope that might have a good effect, too. It would be great if I could try acupuncture before Claritin, but then again, I do need to drive myself over to acupuncture in the first place. And to work in the week in between now and my appointment.

I wouldn't have guessed that needing to drive would create such a drug dilemma for me! But it's yet another fascinating example of how closely I depend on my Beetle (and how disturbing it is not to be able to drive myself around)...and how unsettling it is to not know what the "right thing" is when matters of the baby are involved.

Wish me luck! I'm definitely ready to get off the teacups.

If you're interested in allergies and pregnancy, or medications in pregnancy in general: Dr. Spock's website has some good articles here and here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Baby's room: we hit a roadblock

We were all set: Brad had on an old T-shirt and shorts, he'd taped around the baby's room, and covered up the carpet with a tarp. I circled around for the momentous uncracking of the paint lid to see the color we'd picked out for the baby's room. And it looked just like I wanted! And it was eco-friendly, too! (Even though I was going to leave the painting to Brad, when we've painted rooms in the past, traditional paint has made me dizzy and wheezy, so we stopped using it and have used the Sherwin-Williams' Harmony paint, to pleasant results, ever since.)

He started painting the baby's room, and I was delighted. I admired our lovely paint can, and looked at label again before leaving Brad to do the hard work. And then I realized that their "GreenSure" logo was not actually the "Green Seal" logo I had thought it was. And then my morning got a lot more frustrating.

After some googling, I discovered that Sherwin-Williams created its own in-house certification for their GreenSure designation, which they claim meets or exceeds the Green Seal standards for low and no-VOC paint (Harmony says it's a no-VOC paint).

The Green Seal website doesn't list Sherwin-Williams' paint. So how can the paint have met the standards, but not get listed?

Now I'm on a mission to find out what is going on with these "green" certifications before "we" can continue painting. Nuts. Looks like our Sunday is taking a detour.

Afternoon update:
OK, so after some MORE googling, I found this article about eco-friendly paints from Martha Stewart. (Yes, I am putting my trust in Martha Stewart.) About the Sherwin-Williams Harmony paint, it says:

This zero-VOC formula earns Sherwin-Williams' in-house GreenSure seal, which designates paints that meet or exceed Green Seal standards. (They forgo third-party certification.)

The article also says:

Some companies skip certification to save money, so you can also look for VOC levels directly on the can.

And that can says it's got ZERO VOCs on it, so it better be right! (Of course, that's not included any that get added with pigment, but that's true with all paints.)

So, apparently the Harmony paint really doesn't have VOCs in it, which is really what I wanted to know. And apparently they have decided, for whatever reason, to not get the Green Seal certification, maybe to save some money, as the article suggests. I gave Brad the go-ahead to get on with the painting today, so it is commencing now.

I hope it's the right choice. It drives me nuts that I try to make good decisions, and then sometimes it's not even clear what IS a good decision!

And it seems that this is even tougher when it's anything to do with baby-related decisions. If we were just painting our bathroom or something, I wouldn't have really cared about what seal was on the paint can, as long as it said it didn't have the VOCs in it and I've had a good experience with it before. But add in the baby factor, and all of a sudden, I'm freaking out.

I want to make the best choices, especially when it comes to environmental and health matters, but sometimes it is so confusing to know what those are.

So, I am hoping we're doing the right thing. I have a feeling this paint issue is probably just the beginning of a lot of similar dilemmas, which hopefully I will be able to resolve without so much freaking out. And googling.

For future painting projects, though, Ideal Bite has a list of paints that are all Green Seal certified, so there should be no question of what's in them (and hopefully less Internet searching involved!).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Baby room making

Brad has overwhelmed me with his unceasing energy and determination in clearing out our excess "stuff" from the house and garage. I'm really glad he's able to move heavy furniture and the like with my only "help" being to sit and point at where I want things to go. Although we definitely could have used an extra few days on our already long weekend, we finished clearing out extraneous boxes from our garage, and last night, Brad finished clearing the stuff (to donate and/or sell) out of the future baby's room!

We put the yellow chair in there, and Brad built and set up a new bookcase. The only things left in the room now are all baby related! (And am I a little scared that we have managed to fill up the the bookcase and baskets that go on it already with baby things? Yes, I am!)

But getting the space cleaned out and then put together again with a new purpose makes a huge difference. Of course, I KNOW I'm pregnant. I am reminded every minute of every day that a new person has already made his or her presence in our lives. But somehow seeing all of my favorite kids' books lined up on a new person's bookshelf made me misty-eyed (OK, I cried) in a whole new, more real and wonder-full way. (Yes, I hyphenated that to really emphasize it! What can I say, my hyphens were stiffled at work today!)

So, we've got our "Lime Granita" colored paint ready to go, and will have a bunch more to do around the house to get ready. I can't believe we'll have a new person living here soon! But it gets more believable when I go in the room we're making for the little one, and see the tiny chair I used at my grandma's house, waiting for someone new to occupy it. It's certainly been a while since I've been able to sit in it!

In the meantime, although it's way too easy to get caught up in the future, I'm trying to remember to enjoy the present. And I'm really enjoying Brad's abilities to fold baby clothes and push around a huge dresser in the same hour, and to be just as excited as I am about how lucky we are right now and to look forward, too.

(I guess this doesn't have much to do with the Beetle. Although in the spirit of sprucing up, I have been playing with the wheel finder on Big O Tires' website.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blockbuster and a baby

Tonight, we saw I think the first movie in a theater since I've been pregnant! I had to see the new Indiana Jones movie on opening night. So, the baby's first big-screen movie was Indiana Jones.

Since we don't usually go to the movies, it was a big deal. Brad produced giant packages of Hot Tamales (for him) and Junior Mints (for me), got popcorn in a tub, and the biggest fruit punch drink I have ever seen. I seriously think that drink weighed more than the baby weighs right now!

Popcorn, Junior Mints, and fruit punch was my movie theater treat of choice when I was little. It's not a combination I have very much now (fortunately for me, I'm sure!). I lasted all of about two minutes into the pre-preview commercials (I remember way back in my day when you had to just make conversation with your movie partner before the previews started...) before I cracked open the Junior Mints package. But, as soon as I had the magical combination of all three items in succession, I instantly felt seven years old.

I know scent is supposed to be the most powerful sense in triggering memories, but I think my candy/popcorn/sugary drink combination has to be high up there for me.

I told Brad I felt like I was seven, and he laughed and said, "Seven instead of twenty-seven and pregnant?" I said, "Yeah!" The magical time-traveling properties of movie theater food.

Maybe it was the plot (which I never really followed, even though I thought there was too much action and not enough character stuff), or maybe it was the fact that once the instant sugar buzz wore off on me, it seemed to go directly to the baby, who kicked and moved and often stepped on my bladder. But whatever it was, I found myself staring down at my moving abdomen and grinning away, vastly entertained by my own body, oblivious to whatever Indy was doing onscreen. (Which is really saying something for me, and anyone who knows of my once-overpowering Harrison Ford obsession.)

It was a really entertaining evening. But since I had more than enough action-adventure wiggling around in my own body, Indy's adventures didn't really impress me like they used to.

I realized, as I zoned out on yet another probably important plot detail while staring at my stomach, that the candy and punch and popcorn had made me a little sick. Then I got some more big kicks and remembered that, much as my senses might have tricked me temporarily, I'm really not seven, or seventeen (about how old I was when I saw my first Indy movies, on tape).

Harrison got older, Indy got older, and I got older...and, although I have to say that Harry has crossed the line into not crush-suitable anymore for me, I'm glad to be twenty years older than my candy made me feel! I am twenty-seven and pregnant, and very glad to be both. Although it was fun to take a brief little trip back in time with the mystical snack food combination, and seeing a new Indiana Jones movie, I am quite happy to be back in the present day. (And the next time I go to a movie, I'm going to remember that I don't need to eat quite so much of that popcorn/Junior Mint/punch combination to get a little thrill!)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Test-driving the delivery

OK, so it's probably not possible to really take a practice spin on labor and delivery. But Brad and I did recently take two hospitals' maternity area tours, and I am definitely glad for those "practice laps" around two of our local hospitals. The interesting thing is that the hospitals are both from the same health group (rhymes with "Butter"), but the experience at each was so different.

Of course, in an emergency, any hospital is a good hospital. I have gone to what I now know is not my preferred hospital in the middle of the night, received excellent care there, and been reassured by the friendly, competent nurses that all was well. Emergencies are a separate thing altogether.

But, hopefully, labor will progress in a relatively calm state, and I will be glad of having a choice of which hospital to go to. I am so glad to live within driving distance of the hospital in Davis, with its birth center, because I greatly preferred that one to the one in Sacramento.

The Sacramento hospital--although it's the hospital my current OB works out of, and which contains very knowledgable, pleasant nurses that I've encountered--was also just about the complete opposite of the Davis one. And not in a way that was the right fit for what we were looking for.

I'll give a small example of this: Today was the first over-100-degree day of the year in Sacramento, but not nearly the last. Unfortunately, it was uncomfortably warm at the Sacramento hospital--inside. As in, no air-conditioning warm. Inside the hospital! I asked about the temperature controls for the labor and delivery rooms, and was told enthusiastically that every room had a fan (we're talking a 12" tabletop fan here) and ice chips available. I'm all for natural birth, but this was pushing it.

I realize that temperature isn't everything. Maybe in labor, you couldn't care less what the room's like and you're totally inwardly focused. Really, I suppose you just need a place where you feel cared for and safe.

But, come on! A fan and ice chips is the extent of comfort that a major medical center in the state capitol can offer birthing women? (And the partners, labor support people, and medical personnel who care for them?)

Although I will miss my OB, I feel so much more comfortable in the Davis center (temperature-wise, but also, more importantly, in a general outlook on giving birth). I will gladly be driving farther to my new healthcare team in Davis.

Even though it won't be as convenient for going to work and my check-ups in the same day, I'll take a place where I feel comfortable, albeit with a longer drive, any day.

Test-driving the hospitals made the choice incredibly easy. But what I kept wondering as our tour group shuffled around the different hospital floors tonight was this: Why weren't the other women and men "kicking the tires" a little bit while they were taking their own tours?

Nobody asked any questions! My temperature question was the only one asked, and even that was a frivolous question compared to my greater questions, which I would have asked about if Brad and I weren't so sure within three minutes of the tour's start that this wasn't the place for us, and that I was hot and wanted to get out of there. Maybe everyone else on the tour felt the same way. But I suspect not everyone had ruled out the place.

I understand being shy and all, but it seemed the other ladies (and men) were way too content to just accept the conditions of the hospital, with absolutely no questions asked. Anyone buying a car would ask more questions and demand more answers from the salesperson! We're not talking about mileage and free floormats here--it's a huge, life-changing milestone in life that may or may not involve some major surgery. (And, not to keep focusing on the comparatively minor detail of the climate, but I seriously doubt anyone would even get a new car now that didn't come equipped with an a/c!)

Now, maybe I'm pushing the whole "car/driving" metaphor here. But maybe not: What did we spend proportionately the most time discussing? The fact that the hospital's hourly parking rate had gone up, and detailed instructions on where to find said parking lot. Not about the hospital's general approach to labor and delivery, or C-section rates, or episiotomies, or hospital policies. Nope, we barely even made a dent in anything of substance. I don't think that is the fault of the person leading the tour--she's the spokesmodel. Her job is to get you to like the place. The "consumers" here are the ones who need to be more involved and proactive in learning about what they're going to get.

Perhaps the other tourists liked that hospital. Maybe it was what they were looking for. Just because a place isn't the right fit for me doesn't mean it's not the perfect place for someone else. Or maybe there's an insurance limitation on where people can go, and it's their only option. But I would still have hoped to hear some questions from the test-drivers about what they can expect on the road ahead.

We left the tour, glad to live so close to Davis, and so close to a hospital with a birth center as its inspiration. It's worth the drive for me. And it was well worth the test-drive to know that for sure.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Babies as bumper stickers?

We were having a discussion at work a couple weeks ago that has been knocking around in my head ever since. It was about bumper stickers that are designed seemingly for the sole purpose of annoying a large amount of people.

Rebecca mentioned one she'd seen (I believe plastered on a Hummer or other very large vehicle for a suburban area) with a message to the effect of, "I use up all the gas you save driving your wimpy small car." We all groaned. I said, what purpose could there be in that sticker, other than to provoke people?

On the other hand...

I think this shirt is pretty cute.

(Shirt sold on Tiny Revolutionary, linked from Cool Mom Picks.)

I think it's adorable, but I'm not sure if I want to put it on my kid. I like its message. But is treating your baby like a bumper sticker a good idea?

I don't know. The most "bumper-sticker-ish" I've gotten so far is to register for an outfit that says, "Save the planet (I'll need it later)" printed on a onesie. But I might chicken out on that, too. For one thing, it sets up a pretty high standard for ME! I feel like if I'm not driving the Prius and using the disposable biodegradable diapers we hope to be able to use on a given day, I can't in good conscience put the kid in that outfit.

Even though I think it's a good message, there is the chance that it's a little too similar to that pro-gas-guzzling bumper sticker that fueled my ranting. I'm all for freedom of speech and for making a statement, but I can't decide if I want to see the written equivalent of a sound bite on a bumper sticker or on my own baby.

I think it's too much thought to put into a piece of clothing that is destined to get thrown up on almost immediately. I think I'll un-register for the "message" shirt and add another plain organic onesie to the list instead.

Monday, May 5, 2008

This rocks!

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with the Beetle, other than the fact that both my selection of the car and this chair were largely based on wanting to at least have some fun when I bought both big items.

I had registered for a very comfy glider/rocker chair thing from Babies "R" Us. The black wood matched the other black wood furniture we had pointed out scanner-gun at, and after wandering around "BRU" for an hour, and in desperate need of a seat, that glider seemed pretty good to me. I waved the scan gun at the barcode listlessly while I drank some water and propped my feet up.

"You know, that chair only comes in this check/plaid-type fabric," Brad told me from the next glider over.

The chair was serviceable and available. I scanned it anyway.

I tried to overlook the gingham print that covered the cushions. Not that gingham is bad (it is downright cute in some settings!), but it doesn't exactly blend in with the tiki-meets-space theme Brad and I tend to gravitate toward in our decorations.

But I deleted that glider online as soon as the site would load once I saw...this rocking chair!

Yes, it's true, I suppose someone might have bought me the glider on the registry, and it would have saved us the money. But what would become of that glider when the baby doesn't need to be rocked any more? Or is too big to share the chair with? I couldn't envision gingham-covered puffy cushions in the living room, or the very traditional chair itself living in any room of ours but a baby's. Chucking a chair or selling it for $15 at a yard sale just didn't seem like reasonable options.

Buying this did!

OK, so maybe my view of "reasonable" isn't exactly right-on.

We got it in the lemon yellow color. I had sensible design-advice thoughts echoing in my head during online check-out: "Always buy furniture in a neutral." I scoffed. What's the point of laying out some cash for a major purchase if it doesn't give you a little thrill?

Well, I do understand a little bit more now what the point is. At least when it comes to buying online, I think the point is that you also don't have a color shock when you place your brand-new yellow furnishing next to an existing ultrasuede purple couch and a green velvet chair!

Other than possibly needing to wear sunglasses when in view of these three furniture pieces at the same time, the new chair is awesome. By the time it's ready to rock and roll into the living room, maybe by then new parenthood will have taught me to embrace the unexpected and love it even with the rainbow effect it produces. (Or maybe it will be time to get it reupholstered.)

Either way, I love the rocking chair's amazing coolness in the future baby's room, and I love that somehow I feel cooler by sitting in it. Everyone tells me that I have no idea how my life will change when I have a baby, and I have no doubt of that. Who could have predicted that even in pregnancy, I'd get so excited about a rocking chair?

Sunday, April 20, 2008


We've returned from our "babymoon" roadtrip down and up the California coast. Of course, we had to stop at Disneyland, but it was also really great to get to take a leisurely, scenic route down highways 101 and 1. California is a pretty nice place to live!

We didn't take the more gas-hungry Beetle, but our Prius was about due for a vacation, anyway.

First stop: Monterey and Carmel, for some lunch and frolicking.

First night's destination: Avila Beach.

I'd never even heard of this town before searching for a good stopping point along the coast, but it was tiny and charming. I feel like it's the kind of place we'll go back to in 10 years and it'll be a huge resort destination. For now, though, we found super friendly locals and really good ice cream (mint chocolate chip with Oreo crumbles!).

And we found an awesome hotel: Avila la Fonda. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in the lobby's kitchen: Check. Fireplace in room: Check. Giant whirlpool tub and nicer bathroom than mine at home: Check and check. We were off to a good start!

Next stop: Disneyland!

My first New Orleans Square "Courtyard of the Angels" portrait in which I am visibly pregnant. (When we last went in December, the day after I found out I was expecting, you couldn't exactly tell in the photos just yet!)

We spent the weekend in LA, going to some great museums. My favorite was the new Broad Contemporary. It was so playful and non-serious, and even Brad enjoyed the exhibits! (Which is really saying something for a "modern" art museum.)

But I will not post all my pictures. I am too lazy to do that, so I am saving my energy for pictures of our last stop: the incredible, tear-inspiring Ventana Inn at Big Sur.

We knew this would be a pretty nice place. Just look at our Prius's view from the parking lot!

In-room fireplace: Check. Enormous bathroom with window in the shower, to see view of mountains: Check. Kate crying in delight when she sees the upgraded room's view from the private porch and hammock: Check.

Brad figures out how to light a real wood-burning fire. (Hey, we only have a gas fireplace at home!)


Then, onto one of the highlights (and there were many!) of our one-night stay at the Ventana: my first-ever massage! It was a prenatal massage, involving a very pleasant masseuse, and a whole lot of funny pillows I arranged my body parts in. Plus, the massage room I was in had an ocean view. Sighhhh.

On our last morning of the trip, we strolled the trails winding through nature-y areas on property, and then I went swimming in this pool, which I had all to myself. OK, so it was about 60 degrees outside, but there was no way I had this pool and my pregnancy swimsuit waiting for me without using them! The water was about 80 degrees, so it was really as lovely as it looks.

And then on to home. Thank goodness for a roadtrip!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Can a bassinet fit in a Beetle?

I am delighted with the baby goods that are already being sent my way, for loan or for permanent use! After coming back from our wonderful, in-state vacation (I will post some roadtrip pictures in the next blog), I returned to work to find a bassinet in my cubicle!

A nice thing about the pregnancy hormones is that I am able to pretty much forget about anything within half an hour of learning about it, so fun discoveries are an exciting surprise all over again shortly! Somehow, despite walking around the bassinet all day every time I got up from my chair, I forgot about it until my observant coworker Rebecca pointed to it at five o'clock and asked if I might need any help with it. I looked at it like "Hey, where'd that come from?" and thought that yes, I would need some help.

So Rebecca, my cubemate Shaida, and I wheeled the thing out to the parking lot. I couldn't imagine why we got a strange look from one of the occupants of the next building, unless he thought there was an actual baby in it already and I guess it might have looked a little odd that we were seeing how far we could let the bassinet coast along without pushing it.

Anyway, I confidently popped the Beetle's trunk open, Shaida and Rebecca confidently hoisted the bassinet up and in...and then the Beetle's curvy back window shape did not want to bend up further to accomodate the bassinet's square legs sticking up.

Things looked less promising. But I was certain that the Beetle does have magical storage powers, and I could tell that Shaida and Rebecca's sheer determination would win out over any setbacks in having a small car. With some fanagling by Rebecca, and some hands-on backseat folding by Shaida (who somehow figured out how to fold my backseat flat in a way I couldn't even remember how to do)...


Conclusion: A Graco bassinet CAN fit into a Beetle. It just might take a little help from your friends. (Thanks, friends!)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Can a stroller fit into a Beetle?

This question kind of reminds me of the David Letterman skits where they ask "Can I guy in a bear suit hail a cab?" and that kind of thing. Only probably not as funny. Unless you happened to be watching me and Brad while we maneuvered our new stroller into the Beetle in various positions to see if it would actually fit in there.

I figured I should make a post about this question because Brad discovered, through the magic of some kind of blog tracking, that someone actually ended up at this very blog after typing that question into Google, and until now, my Beetle and a Baby blog has completely failed that person in answering his or her question! So, here goes (and I am sorry to the anonymous person who came here looking for that knowledge that I didn't post until now):

It seems that a 2007 Peg Perego Pliko P3 Freestyle stroller (doesn't that sound like a car model?) CAN in fact fit inside a Beetle, but NOT inside the trunk. Unless you were to remove the wheels or some such thing, but I think that would kind of undermine any convenience of the stroller's one-handed folding features. (The Peg Perego will however, fit inside a 2007 Prius's trunk quite snugly but completely.)

The stroller CAN fit in the Beetle's interior, and seems to fit just perfectly (if awkwardly) squeezed in the backseat, next to where the carseat would go. We will have to do another test drive of both the carseat and the stroller in the back at the same time to make sure, but all seems good for now. I had high hopes for it fitting in the empty front seat, but it seems to fit better in the back.

Of course, as soon as I was delighted that my beloved stroller would fit in any way into the Beetle, I was then immediately plunged into confusion over whether it would make me a terrible mother to put a stroller in the car next to my infant. I freaked out, until I asked one of the experienced moms I already know about this, who assured me that sometimes it just has to happen that way. Whew. I would also like to add that the stroller is pretty well wedged between my driver's seat and the backseat, and seems not to be too much in danger of becoming a projectile object.

Anyway, the stroller question is just another example of how the Beetle has raised not only some practical considerations about transporting a kid and its stuff, but also how little I know about what is acceptable parenting! Fortunately, some reassurance in this case could be found in another Beetle driver (who is also a mom). :)

Making space

Of course, Brad and I will have to contend with the Big Question of how we can create the "metaphorical" space in our lives for balancing time once our upcoming family member arrives. Right now, if we feel like lounging around all afternoon and eating too much leftover Easter candy (such as we did today...OK, Brad did accomplish some organizing-type tasks as well), we can just do it. Perhaps that's not the best example (or use) of our current freedoms as just a twosome, but it does sort of illustrate the point that we'll need to rethink how we think of our "free time."

But the matter I'm thinking more about lately is of making more physical space. For some reason, most baby equipment takes up waaay more room in proportion to the baby's actual size than I think could possibly be necessary. It seems the smaller the person, the larger stuff available to keep him or her contained/entertained/stimulated/soothed.

Our big projects for upcoming weeks involve making more physical room in our house for the third person who will be living here. (Mostly involving clearing out clutter and reorganizing to make what's left fit together better.)

As with a weird amount of baby-related realizations, this one was provoked by the Beetle. As I was squeezing my expanding body out of the Beetle, past our bikes and tools lined up against the garage wall, I realized that I don't see how we'll be able to get a carseat in and out of either of our cars when they're both parked in the garage, since I'm having difficulty now just getting an extra few inches of my waistline out of the car door without running into something!

(I would just like to point out here that having a a small vehicle like the Beetle is a good thing in this situation. Our neighbors who have trucks or SUVs can't even fit more than just that vehicle in their "2-car" garages.)

So, I hope we'll be able to resolve the storage and space issues in a way that makes everyone happy. Maybe when we do that, we'll be better able to tackle how to sort out all that metaphorical time/space stuff, too. I'm thinking the solution to that will involve fewer afternoons sitting around eating candy, which is probably a good solution for most problems, symbolic or otherwise.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Secret-keeping Beetle

Our Beetle was our vault on Friday, and contained a valuable secret known only to God, the universe, and the ultrasound technician whose name I forget at the moment.

We had the halfway-point (20 week) ultrasound last Friday morning, in which Brad, me, and my mom stared at the screen in amazement for almost all of the 45-minute exam. The rest of the time the ultrasound-er told us when to look away, since Brad and I are still hoping to keep the little one's gender a surprise until it's born!

I don't know what my mom and Brad were doing to distract themselves while the big secret was being broadcast, because I had my head turned away with my eyes shut, and only occassionally opened them to peek at Brad to make sure he was peeking at my mom to make sure she wasn't peeking at the screen.

The ultrasound-er didn't help any when she kept exclaiming, "Okay, REALLY don't look right now...yup, I can definitely tell what you're REALLY don't want to look now." My eyes were actually tearing up from all the willpower it was taking me NOT to look (or to tell her to knock it off with the taunting!).

In any event, we all made it through the exam with our honor intact, and I was feeling confident and proud of us for having toughed it out. And then the ultrasound-er gave us some pictures from the one separate one, taped (with only one flimsy piece of tape) in an envelope. "Just in case you want to open it later," she said. It had "Gender!" written across it.

We couldn't decide what to do with it, but since I knew it wouldn't last long with me or my mom together all day, I hid it in the Beetle (which Brad was driving that day). And there it remained until I placed it in a drawer all by itself, still sealed shut, only with a lot more tape around the edges now.

But really, I am now more excited than ever to find out the big surprise after the baby's born. It's more than miraculous to have a baby floating around poking me from my insides--and for me, knowing the sex wouldn't make it any more miraculous. There's a whole, brand-new person in there! How could it get better than that?

But I am glad that the Beetle was the perfect secret-keeper on that very tempting first day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Babymoon roadtrip

Brad and I drove to Southern California on our honeymoon in our Beetle, and, although we hadn't planned on it, it seems that we might be making another road trip...for a "babymoon"!

We had planned a big trip to Paris and the Netherlands...two months before we found out we were expecting a much bigger event! (That would be the baby.) I'd been optimistic about still flying and having a great time on the trip, but in the last month, my doctor's warnings and my own paranoia were really starting to make staying grounded a much more fun option.

Still wanting to take at least a little bit of a vacation before shifting organs make urinating my number-one priority, our solution: give our Disneyland Annual Passes one last workout as a twosome, and take another celebratory drive down south!

We're "planning" on driving down and back up the coast. (I say "planning" because I have a feeling that being "sure" of any "plans" is not really going to mean the same thing ever again!) Our trip will be in the Prius, since the Beetle, as much as I love it, is something of a gas-guzzler. But I hope the Beetle's festive spirit will follow us down the coast.

Of course, I guess that with a babymoon, there isn't a ceremony before you leave, and your friends don't get your car all decked out like for a honeymoon, but that's OK. This time, for this drive to LA, we've already got an extra person cheering us on.

We can be tourists in our own state, right? I've never been to Big Sur before, so I think yes.

Baby Needs a New Pair of Speakers

A miraculous event happened to me this morning, and it happened while I was sitting at one of a dozen red lights on the backroad I take to work. (I like to take the backroad because I like seeing the sheep grazing by the road. This morning, I saw baby sheep!)

While sitting at the light, listening to a generic but upbeat rock-type song (I can't even remember what it was, or who the band was--it was a song like you might hear at a "cool" dentist's office), I realized the music was a little too loud and reached to turn it down...when I felt three little poke-poke-pokes from my abdomen. From INSIDE my abdomen.

I have felt the baby-to-be flipping before, but these were definitely little pokes! So of course I turned up the generic rock song and giggled at the kid, until the light turned green and I noticed the guy in the truck next to me was looking at me funny.

As I eventually merged from my backroads adventure onto the freeway via a curvy onramp (and turned the radio back to a reasonable volume), I realized that whatever crummy wiring I'd been tolerating in my Beetle's speakers had long since gone completely nuts. It's been like this for probably two years: most times that I turn a corner, or even change lanes, one of the speakers cuts out. It eventually settles back into place, and then I forget about it, until I make another turn.

I have no idea what this is about, other than that I can't stand the thought that I might have blown out my FOURTH pair of speakers in one of my cars. I think this is ridiculous, though, so I am maintaining that there is faulty wiring that's causing the bad sound quality in the Beetle. I can't explain the other three sets of speakers in Suzi.

So, while I have somehow accepted this fact about my driving experience in the car, I realize this shoddy sound is not acceptable for the kid! What if it will be the next great composer or musician? It deserves clear, digital sound (whatever that might be). I think a new set of speakers is clearly in order...for the baby, of course.

Some mega-watt inspiration from a Beetle owner at Crutchfield Advisor.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Our new arrival: the carseat!

Finding a safe, seemingly "easy" to use, and somewhat stylish carseat was daunting. (OK, "daunting" as far as a slightly extravagant baby-related purchase can's still 90% fun!). Fortunately, I finally found one that met all of those criteria--and then it was discontinued. But, by a small but appreciated car-related miracle, it came back in stock long enough for me to buy it myself, and mark it off my own baby registry!

It arrived at work this week, and of course, I made all of my very generous and kind coworkers (thanks for reading, by the way!) admire it inside its enormous box. And then I asked the very kind and generous lone male in our group to "help me" carry it to my car, meaning I would unlock the car while he lugged the thing all the way out to it, and then lifted into the hatchback. (Thanks, John!)

Now, in Babies 'R' Us, the carseat seemed to be one of the more lightweight, not totally huge models. In its my Beetle...well, I'm not quite as convinced that this thing is going to fit! Just the box was almost a tight squeeze. Although the box is a lot bigger than the actual seat, right?

In keeping with our new pregnancy motto...we'll just have to wait and see!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beetle Mania at the Wedding

While I was flipping through our wedding albums (we've got one album of pictures from the wedding photographer, and one of candids from various attendees), looking for photos to use in the last post, I discovered a startling statistic:

We have a total of 22 photographs in our wedding albums that feature the Beetle!

I had thought my preoccupation with my car started in recent months, when faced with dauting questions like "Will a stroller even fit in the trunk?" But it seems that it's actually been going on for a while...I just didn't notice it before now!

The last picture of our wedding...and the last picture of our Beetle on our wedding day!

No time to get my nails done on the day before the wedding...I had more important things to do, like hot-gluing a veil onto my Mickey Mouse antenna topper! Hey, the Beetle had to look good, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Can you have a New Beetle and a new baby?

Hi, everyone! First, a note: This is an insanely long blog post. It's just my "intro" to my blog, so please note that this won't be typical. Future posts will be much more reasonable in length! Back to the post...

I am currently, excitedly 16 weeks pregnant (the weekly update says the baby is about the size of an avocado this week). My husband, Brad, and I managed to contain our giddiness for starting a baby registry (or two) until last weekend, where we took turns going nuts with the scanner gun at Babies "R" Us and Target.

Now, in our enthusiasm for adding baby stuff to our registry, we scanned with wild abandon, with three restrictions in mind: 1) the baby's gender is a surprise (for now, at least), 2) I am all for non-electronic-music-spewing toys, and 3) our family cars will be a Toyota Prius and a VW New Beetle.

The Toyota Prius seems like an amply large family car to us both. To me, it seems enormous.

My first car (that I held onto until this last year) was a 1992 Suzuki Swift (named Suzi, for her abbreviated name on the car registration). Suzi was a spunky, spirited, candy-apple-red hatchback, which my dad and I made as spiffy as we could: fat tires, new paint, an added CD changer (her tape deck wasn't going to cut it), three different sets of nice speakers over the years (after they somehow kept blowing out), and even a new, shiny chrome tailpipe in the back.

My dad also added some mechanical stuff I didn't really understand, but I think she ran better because of during all my years of driving to high school and then on my 20-mile commute to UC Davis. I was assured she always had top-of-the-line spark plugs and a K & M Supercharger filter. I never really understood the true significance of those types of things (making it all the sillier that I have started an automotive blog!), but I did appreciate their result: Suzi was very forgiving of me when I learned to drive a stick-shift, she always was quick off a "starting line" (aka, a green light at an intersection), and she always fired up every morning.

I joked that I was going to buy some BMW Z3 logos to put on her, since she felt like a sports car to me, but she didn't need logos; she could zip around plenty without them.

Plus, she had amazing powers of storage space; far better than a sports car. With her back seat folded down, I could fit any giant art project needed for one of my classes inside. When I pulled up to the ceramics studio to haul home some enormous sculptures I'd made, the class TA admired Suzi and said that she had a similar car, and they were "the best little cars!" because they could hold anything. Suzi was definitely like the Mary Poppins' carpet bag of automobiles. She even held a 4-foot-high "sculpture" I'd made of my interpretation of pop-art-style swiss cheese, with room for me and Brad (who had to help me carry the cheese from UCD's art building to the parking lot.). Since I made the cheese with holes (naturally), I could even see out of the back window (sort of).

But, when I got my first post-college job, which would require a much lengthier commute until we moved into our house, it was time to buy a new vehicle. On my 23rd birthday, we went car shopping. I drove a Civic, but that particular one had no spirit to it. The dealer tried to convince me it was sporty because it came in red. Well, I already had a bright-red car that was punchy enough, thanks.

Then I did a test drive for an adorable, curvy, seemingly massive (to me) black 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle, that I couldn't stop thinking about all night. I wanted it, and looked up all the safety data that night to convince myself it would even be safe (it was). We went back the next day and got the same Beetle I had taken for a test drive. Even though it already had some miles on it, I had gotten attached to that one (OK, and they were all out of another color, but I wouldn't tell the Beetle that).

I then drove the new New Beetle right to the nearest Circuit City, because it needed a CD changer added, too! Go figure.

It was instantly clear that while Suzi had been a feisty female car, the Beetle was definitely a boy. It felt surprisingly, reassuringly heavy on the road, and, although it too was a hatchback, it seemed to command a little more stay-off-my-bumper respect from other drivers. Everyone tailgated little Suzi. Maybe only every other driver tailgates the Beetle.

Just as Suzi was my high school and college car, the Beetle was my "grown-up" car. It took me an hour each way to my first job. It took us to our wedding (we drove there together), got decorated by my bridesmaids with all the "Just Married" paraphernalia, and then took us on the most fun trip ever down I-5 to Disneyland for our honeymoon (instead of being tailgated, it seemed every other car beeped at us, had its occupants hanging out the windows waving and grinning at us, and giving us thumbs-up). And then it took us home from our honeymoon, and to our house! It was definitely my "grown-up" car.

When Brad and I wanted to embark on the biggest trip of all--having a kid!--we knew it was time for a four-door car. He sold his first car (a Mustang), I sold Suzi (to a friend of my parents, who I am assured loves Suzi as much as I did, and is even more interested in making her fully tricked out), and we bought a futuristic, snazzy, undeniably awesome Toyota Prius. To me, it's the ideal family car: lots of doors (well, more than two!), plenty big inside, and hopefully helping the planet that my kid will inherit.

When we found out we actually were expectant parents, I could already imagine a carseat in the Prius, and us reveling in all of its space and convenient door access to the backseat. I felt like it was practically a limo.

So I was surprised when we'd burst out with our upcoming baby news. I expected some of the questions: "When's it 'due'?!" (August 1), "Is it a boy or a girl (we don't know yet, and are trying to hold off on finding out to keep the surprise, if we can), and, "Are you getting rid of the Beetle?" Huh?

When my parents asked me, I could understand: My dad has spent many frustrating weekends and summer vacations working on the Beetle, and he now has a garageful of specialty European tools to prove it. It's strange that for a car that was originally so easy to work on by "the people," the New Beetles seem intentionally designed to be taken to the dealership to have even a should-be-simple battery replacement done. I thought there might be a little (understandable) relief in both my parents when they asked if the Beetle was headed for someone else's garage.

But so many people asked me if we were planning on trading in the Beetle that it was almost a routine question. How would we have room? Where would the baby stuff go? Is it really safe?

The Beetle, released in the U.S. in 1949, was originally conceived of by Hitler and intended to be a family car. Maybe a two-door hatchback could still be considered a family-sized car in parts of Europe, but in present-day California, it seems that no less than an SUV is the expectation for middle-class parents-to-be. (And let me just say here that I freely admit how lucky I am to be able to weigh the merits of different automobiles for fun. Having any sort of reliable transportation is pretty amazing, when you think about it.)

Brad and I hope that the Prius will be our primary car, but I'm planning on the Beetle remaining my car for errands, with and without the new arrival. I'm hoping that we'll find that it is entirely possible, practical--and even more fun!--to have a new baby and a New Beetle.

Let's find out how it goes!