Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We're in the Finals!

FindingDulcinea is one of the three finalist for Mashable's Open Web Awards I mentioned last week. We really need everyone's help to get through the last round of voting.

Here's what to do: visit Mashable's Open Web Awards page and choose "Search and Social Search" in the first dropdown menu. In the second, choose findingDulcinea, and then enter your email address. Once you've done that, they'll send you an email. Click on the link in the email to be sure your vote has been counted.

You can vote once a day, and voting goes until Dec. 15. The winner will be announced Dec. 16. I really appreciate everyone's help.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hope You Had A Great Thanksgiving

Today I'm making a brief special plea. The site I work for,, has been nominated for Mashable's Open Web Awards, in the search and social search category. We're excited that so many more people might be able to see what a great site we have. These awards celebrate "major innovations in web technology," and we think the Librarian of the Internet is a great example.

Winners last year included Google, Facebook, Twitter and Meetup. Anyone can vote on these awards, and you're allowed to vote once a day through the middle of December.

I planned to install a cool widget that lets you vote right here from my blog, but I'm less computer savvy than I thought. It's a shame, because the directions my co-worker sent seemed very easy.

Anyway, please visit Mashable's Open Web Awards page to vote for us (once a day, ideally). We're in the "search and social search" category, and the company is findingDulcinea. Please note that once you've entered your email address, you have to confirm the vote by clicking on the link Mashable sends.

On a completely different topic, here's new mom lesson #4,257: Don't wear light-colored clothes when feeding a baby carrots or avacado. Especially if he has a cough.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Election Day Approaches

We're getting ready for Election Day 2008 at work, and it should be interesting. We've written several stories about all sorts of election-related stories, including individual races, trends and voting registration issues. We'll keep up our coverage through and past Election Day. Check out our site throughout the day and evening Tuesday (and every day, really) for the latest news.

I've included a picture of DJ's first Halloween costume. This year he went as a monkey. Well, we didn't do any trick-or-treating, and we were all under the weather for the family Halloween party. I did dress him up for his cousins' Halloween parade, though. It was surprising that he didn't mind being in the costume or wearing the hat. He isn't always a huge fan of hats.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today is a strange milestone: I’m spending an entire day at home all alone. My work schedule has changed (at my request) so I work on Sundays, and Tim took DJ to Pennsylvania for our niece’s Baptism. The house is strangely quiet, but I’m looking forward to taking a nap later.

It never ceases to amaze me how fast time passes. We’re nearly at Halloween, and I’m still trying to figure out what happened to September.

For DJ’s first Halloween, we thought about having a family costume. I probably should have used our feature on finding Halloween costumes on the Web to get what we needed, but after visiting several stores, I gave up and bought DJ a monkey costume. Our Monty Python and the Holy Grail-themed costumes will have to wait another year.

Speaking of Halloween, findingDulcinea has created a whole site devoted to the holiday. Read about planning a party, finding the right candy, and learn about spooky sites in Boston, Chicago and New York.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Welcome to the working week

This week I went back to work and the world kept turning.

To make things easier, numerous sources suggested starting work in the middle of the week, and having Tim drop DJ off at the day care center. So I worked from home on Tuesday, and went into the office for the first time on Wednesday.

After weeks of discussion, we got our commute down, with one car, two different commutes and a day care stop.

Saying good-bye to him in the car that morning made me a little teary, but then it was better. But by the time I got on the train that afternoon, I was antsy to see him. At the day care, he was fast asleep in the swing. He didn’t cry very much, the ladies watching him said.

It was strange to be back in the office, but everyone at work was extremely welcoming. They made a point to tell me they were happy I was back. It’s great to work with such wonderful people.

And speaking of findingDulcinea, have they ever been busy this summer. They have created an entire site devoted to the Olympics and another for this year’s election. Our election site features stories from key races around the country, profiles of battleground states, and guides to politics, this year’s presidential election, political parties and more.

They’ve also launched Encontrando Dulcinea, a Spanish version of our site. So far, guides include supporting military families, the New York City Survival Guide and baseball, with more to come.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Time flies when you're changing diapers

This is my last full week of maternity leave. It seems like I've been out for so long. Next week DJ starts spending three days at a daycare center. I’ll miss him, of course, but I'm okay with him going. Daycare teaches children many valuable lessons, and he’ll meet play mates of a similar age.

We visited the center Monday to pick up some forms, and one of his teachers immediately snapped him up. She played with him and introduced him to the other babies while the head teacher and I talked. He only cried when he came back to me, which seems like a good sign.

The idea of returning to work isn’t scary, but the logistics are worrisome. I’m trying to freeze enough milk for him without knowing how much he eats each day. I can only guess, judging by his pediatrician visit today, that it’s quite a bit. He’s in the 90th percentile for height, and the 75th for weight and plans to report to the Giants’ training camp soon.

Tim and I are also trying to work out how we’re going to drop him off, pick him up and have our respective commutes (bus and train) all with just one car. It will probably take the better part of a month before we figure that routine out.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Flying the friendly skies

This past week DJ and I flew to the Midwest to see my extended family. He met his great-grandmothers, great-aunts, a few cousins, and spent time with Grandma and Granddad. He was a hit, of course, and I got some great pictures.

It’s a trip I planned before he arrived, but as it drew closer, I dreaded the idea of taking him on a plane, and it being just the two of us, no bouncy seats, car seats, play mats or cribs, for several hours. Thanks to the exorbitant air fares, non-stop flights were out of the question, as was purchasing a seat for his car seat. So it was going to be me holding him through the airports and both flights.

Thankfully, all went well, for the most part. We traveled at off times (Tuesday afternoon, Friday morning), so the planes were half-full, which meant a pair of seats to ourselves on each flight.

There were some bumps. He became very fussy right before our first flight took off. Nursing calms him down, but I was trying to wait until we actually took off, since it helps babies' ears adjust to the pressure. As he completely lost it and started screaming, the pilot announced that we’d have to sit on the tarmac for an extra ten minutes since there were too many planes in the airport’s air space. That’s when I about lost it. We didn’t have to wait the full ten minutes, thankfully, and he calmed down.

On the way home, he cried all the way through the security line, drawing many looks from our fellow travelers. I knew what they were thinking: “Please don’t let them be on our plane.”

Would I make the trip again? Not just the two of us. It wasn't the destination, but the traveling. Next time, we'll make sure Tim is with us.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Food for thought

Something about motherhood that surprised me is the extent to which nursing has changed my life. DJ and I seem to be getting the hang of it, but there are always questions -- is he getting enough to eat? Is he getting enough hindmilk? Why did he suddenly start spitting up?

Besides the doubts, nursing is difficult work. Babies eat more frequently than their bottle-fed counterparts, as often as every two to three hours. That clock starts, though, when a feeding begins. So if DJ starts eating at 2 p.m., he'll need to start his next meal by 5 p.m. In the early weeks, nursing could take 45 minutes and doing anything else was tough. Now his feedings go faster. That schedule, thankfully, doesn't apply at night anymore. Now we're on demand, so if he sleeps seven hours straight (which he did two nights last week), we just wait until he wants to eat.

A nursing cover has also made life easier. Armed with it, DJ has eaten in diners, at Ikea, in his Dad's office, in his Mom's office, and even on a bus. That's the nice thing about nursing -- when he gets hungry, I just have to slip the cover over my head. We don't worry about preparing a bottle or making sure we have enough formula when we go out.

Clothing has also been a struggle. At first I stuck to button-down shirts, thinking they would make nursing easier, but they really didn't. And as nursing progressed, many shirts stopped fitting altogether. That was really frustrating, since the remaining baby weight already limited my clothing selection.

Trying to find something in my closet to wear to a recent baby shower was impossible. The only dresses that fit wouldn't have been suitable for nursing. I actually had to go buy a new outfit, which was a pain.

Speaking of pain, nursing isn't supposed to hurt, and doesn't, for the most part. In the beginning, as we were both figuring it out, there was pain. Even today there are occasional minor pains when he doesn't latch properly and we have to start over again, or if we've gone too long between feedings. I have been really lucky, though. Some friends and family who nursed endured quite a bit of pain to do so.

Even with these inconveniences, I'm glad I have been able to nurse, as it's a tremendous benefit to him and helps me feel more bonded. I hope we don't encounter any problems down the road that would make me have to stop doing it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The chaos is beginning to diminish

This week marked a few milestones for us. We moved into our house, and Tim, whose company has an extremely generous family leave policy, went back to work. Last week, we painted most of the interior and learned how little else gets done when watching a baby is the top priority. Family members helped us by coming to the house while we worked, which we really appreciated.

When they weren’t around, we took turns hanging out with him, but most of it fell to me, since I’m primarily responsible for feeding. I felt guilty about not helping with the house more, but Tim understood. Unpacking has been an extremely slow process, but we’re getting there.

Watching DJ all day is fun but tiring, and there are serious gaps in my childcare knowledge. I can't recall, for example, the words to the song "Pattycake." I also need to remember more children's songs to sing to him. I think he's getting tired of hearing "Old MacDonald" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." I bet there's a site online that could help me, and it's got me thinking about new guides that findingDulcinea could create for such a situation.

DJ is showing more interest in his surroundings, and if wet diapers didn’t bother him so much, he could probably spend hours on end looking at a window, the mobile on his bouncy seat, or the animals hanging from his play mat.

Besides cooing and making all sorts of noises, he's starting to smile, too. At first it was tentative, as his muscles weren’t sure what to do, but it's getting stronger. I hope to capture it on film soon.

This week, we also started acting like grown-ups. After months of talking about buying the Nintendo Wii and unsuccessfully searching for it, we ordered it on Father's Day, along with two games and extra controllers.

Once the ensemble arrived, though, Tim said he thought the money we spent could be used better elsewhere (he's absolutely right, but I, the less responsible one, didn't really think about that), so we returned it without opening any of the packages. He said the people at Circuit City were puzzled by the return.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Settling in

I meant to say this last week, but my apologies to those who have emailed or called that I haven’t responded to yet. I’m really behind when it comes to being social. I still have unwritten thank-you notes hanging over my head.

DJ is going to be a month this week, which amazes me. Here’s something I didn’t know about babies: some don’t sleep quietly. In the middle of the night, DJ coos, makes loud noises, and flings his arms out, hitting the sides of the bassinet. He cries out, but doesn’t cry, and does it all without waking up.

His bassinet is about an inch from my side of the bed, so I notice all these sounds. Earlier this week I mistakenly thought he was awake, so I got up with him when he started these little episodes. We were up every hour, and it was awful.

I talked to a friend about it, and she said some babies were noisy sleepers. The same day, I saw a question about it in a baby book, followed the advice, and things have been better.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A whole new world

I can’t believe two weeks have passed since DJ, as I’ll call him here, arrived. Our sense of time has dissolved so much that we didn’t even realize Memorial Day was here.

It amazes me that things we thought were important a few weeks ago, like checking email every day, just aren’t now. Our days have become a continuous cycle of feeding, changing diapers, changing his clothes once he’s soiled them, holding him, smiling and having staring contests with him. He usually wins.

He’s thrown us a few curveballs already. First, he inherited his father’s blood type, not mine, so there was a danger of jaundice. DJ’s pediatrician thought he should spend time under special lights in the hospital nursery. The lights are designed to help his body process the chemicals that cause jaundice. We planned to have him in the room with us the whole time, so that was disappointing. DJ didn’t seem to mind. In his diaper with cloth “sunglasses” over his eyes under the lights, he looked like he was at the beach.

We minded, though, especially when they had to test his blood every six hours.

And then there’s the nursing. In the hospital, my ob/gyn said his wife called nursing “the second hardest thing you’ll ever do.” She was absolutely right. At this point, nursing takes two hands. The books I read when I was pregnant didn’t discuss what to do when his little arms are flailing between him and me, or how to get him to open his mouth wide enough to latch properly.

It’s important to feed babies every tow or three hours, even if it means waking them up. At night, thankfully, we can let him go four to five hours between feedings.

I now know it’s nearly impossible to intentionally wake a sleeping baby, though there are a million ways to do it accidentally.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The waiting game …

It’s hard to know that your life is going to completely change, but not know when. Will it be an hour? Tomorrow? Three days? A week?

To describe us as feeling antsy is an understatement. We've got lots of restless, nervous energy, but can't focus much.

I still hold onto the fear that I may not realize when labor begins. I know you’re thinking: How could you not notice? It’s supposed to be the worst pain ever. Well, during pregnancy you spend a great deal of time in pain. Your back hurts, pains shoot through your abdomen, bones separate and ache, and then there are the fake contractions (like the real ones, but irregular). The real contractions the doctors told me I have occasionally experienced don't seem to match the descriptions I've read in the baby books.

Here’s what I've been thinking every 20 minutes or so for the last week: is that a shooting pain or a contraction? How long ago was that last shooting pain? Should I write that down?

And now you’re probably thinking, ‘but you’ll know when your water breaks.’ That’s true, but labor starts with a water break in a small percentage of pregnancies.

Every conversation with our families starts with “I’m not in labor,” and I can only imagine how they feel every time the phone rings.

Today we had unexpected entertainment at the doctor’s office. Our highly energetic nurse pantomimed me experiencing my first real contraction and her encounter with other parts of labor’s early stages (I won’t gross you out by elaborating but trust me, it was bad). She also described her problems with yeast and generally had the attitude of a motivational speaker who had just gotten in the employee lounge doughnuts.

The consultation was encouraging and moderately alarming at once.

Luckily, I don’t think we have too much longer to wait. I took a quiz I found in the findingDulcinea Pregnancy Web Guide, called “Am I in labor?” And of course I’m not in labor, as I write this, but the results were encouraging. Of course, the quiz could be completely wrong, and my enthusiasm just wishful thinking.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

On a spring Saturday...

What should you do when you’re nine months-plus pregnant and planning a move in the near future?

a. Indulge in the nesting instinct by decorating the baby’s room.
b. Pack.
c. Nap as much as you can.
d. Clean the apartment.

They are all good choices, but we spent Saturday at New York’s Comicon wandering around the exhibit hall, watching panels and marveling (and sometimes cringing) at the costumes.

We were there to see Doc Hammer, Jackson Publick, James Urbaniak and Michael Sinterniklaas talk about the Venture Brothers, one of our favorite shows. The third season starts June 1, so we saw a preview and listened to some occasionally very dumb audience questions. The panelists were quick to mock dumb questions.

We met some nice people involved with a fan site called the People’s Republic of Venture (they gave us stickers). I was surprised at the hundreds of people who showed up to see the discussion, but that’s good, because it helps assure a long life for the show.

The Venture Brothers are two teenagers, Hank and Dean. Their father Rusty grew up in the shadow of a super-scientist and adventurer, and he has spent his life trying to follow in his father’s footsteps (as one character described it, “20 years of amphetamines and failure”). The family also has a government-issued bodyguard with a license to kill, Brock Sampson. He’s on a mission is called “Operation Rusty’s Blanket,” and he likes to make grilled cheese sandwiches and perform monthly lice checks on the boys when he’s not killing henchmen.

They often clash with villains from the Guild of Calamitous Intent, and Venture’s arch nemesis is the Monarch, a man who dresses like a butterfly, has dozens of henchmen and a trust fund.

It’s a show that’s funny and wrong all at the same time. It’s also well-written, smart, outlandish, and you get the sense there’s a huge back story that will eventually be revealed, though that may not be the case. I’m willing to wait and see, though.

The comicon also had a panel of actors from Battlestar Galactica, another great show, (yes, we watch too much television) so we saw that, too. Though the program had listed a couple of actors who were supposed to appear, there were three others who showed up, which was a nice surprise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A little compassion never hurt anyone

Today I’ll share something I actually wrote with you, about blind people who are concerned about hybrid cars. Why? The cars are so quiet that they can’t hear them. Blind pedestrians use car engines as cues when walking around their towns.

The video in the piece illustrates the matter pretty well, but what has kept me thinking about it all day are the comments responding to blog posts about the issue.

Apparently some people can be compassionate for the atmosphere but not their fellow man. People actually asked whether any blind person had been run over by a hybrid car yet. I guess that’s the only way for anyone to know there’s a problem, when someone loses their life. Other people suggested the whole thing is part of a conspiracy by car companies, the government and others to keep the hybrid down and gas-guzzling cars thriving.

Those reactions reminded me of my time working in a county whose most vocal residents were unabashedly left-wing. They equated their left-wing status with being progressive, tolerant, and compassionate, and spent a great deal of time patting each other on the back about it.

For the most part they were compassionate, until it came to something they didn’t like, such as homeless people who had the nerve to panhandle in the shopping district or the idea of merging their glowing schools with another district that didn’t teach students Mandarin Chinese.

I've always been careful with my political leanings, given my past career, but I'll say now that I empathized with the left more than the right. The hypocrisy I witnessed in this liberal bastion, though, was stunning and it routinely drove up my blood pressure. When we moved, I was relieved I didn't have to deal with that anymore. Until today, that was the case.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's the little things

A few mornings each week I stop for a bagel and coffee at a deli on my way to work. When we moved up here and I started this ritual, I noticed two things:

- Bagels, as every transplanted New Yorker laments, really are better here. Don’t ask me why. I had always thought the complaints were a little irritating, but I understand now.

- The cashiers, without fail, put or try to put the coffee in the bag with the bagel. I’ve stopped at more than a dozen different delis in midtown, depending on my destination and route, and it’s always the same. They give me a bag with a bagel and my coffee in it. Is it a throwback to the days before the cardboard cup sleeves that keep us from burning our hands? I’ve never seen it done anyplace else except here. It annoys me because I assume, as a klutz, that I’ll do something that causes the coffee lid to come off and soak my bagel, thus ruining my breakfast.

If anyone has theories as to why this is standard practice, please share them. I’m baffled.

So I guess our big news is that we’re looking at condos and houses, since we’re planning to move anyway this summer. Whether we rent or buy depends on what we find, but there are affordable properties out there than I expected. It’d be nice to buy, since I’m tired of our nomadic lifestyle.

Much of our research for mortgages and homes, not surprisingly, has been online. I knew our site had a homes section, so it was one of my first stops. Sure enough, a whole section on home mortgages helped me learn what I needed to know.

Meanwhile, Tim wanted a site that would tell us how much homes in neighborhoods we’re interested in have sold for. He found exactly what he wanted in the Homes Web Guide.

And finally, our site’s features section has an account of our honeymoon to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Writing it made me want to go back, even though we were down there in June.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

This is one of my favorite times of the year ...

Our anniversary is Thursday, the first day of spring. I can't believe it's already been four years. Also, it's the beginning of the NCAA basketball tournament, also known as March Madness.

You can't grow up in Indiana and spend two years in North Carolina and not love college basketball. A few years ago, we spent a great weekend in Wilmington, NC, that included hours of watching the tournament. This year, one of my colleagues has created a great guide to the tournament for novices and experts. It covers the history and links you to news and analysis, which is particularly useful if you’re entering a pool. Best of all, this guide shows you where to catch the games online. As the guide points out, CBS can only show one game at a time.

It's also St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, another holiday I enjoy. Last year we spent the day in Asheville, NC, touring the awesome microbreweries there. This year we won't be celebrating quite as much. Another colleague created a guide to the day’s history, traditions, and where to celebrate. Be sure to check out 10 St. Patrick’s Secrets.

New Yorkers have also been riveted by the Eliot Spitzer scandal, and we’ve got some great pieces on that, too. Have you had a conversation with someone about why his wife was with him on the podium? Anyone raise the possibility that he, on some level, wanted to get caught?

In baby news, we attended a childbirth class yesterday. All the topics– natural childbirth, C-sections, epidurals, recovery – were condensed into six hours. The educator was great, and we learned quite a bit. We could have done without the birth videos, though. No detail was spared. We know what we’re in for when the time comes, and seeing it on the screen didn't help.

After class we talked about what we wanted during the birth, and agreed that making a birth plan and trying to iron out every detail now, (drugs or no drugs? Natural or C-section?) is useless. Many best laid plans have gone out the window because the baby or mother’s body has done something completely unexpected. Our attitude is we’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the baby out safely. If it means a C-section, fine. If I can do it without medication, great. If I can't, no big deal. I know it's going to be horrible pain like I can't imagine, but I don't know whether I'll be able to tolerate it. We'll see.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

When work comes home…In a good way

A few weeks ago my husband and I were looking at strollers online. We knew what type we wanted, but didn’t know which of the hundreds of models would be the best to tote up and down subway stairs. He said to me, “we need a stroller buying guide.”

At an editorial meeting the next week, I said something about the need for a baby gear shopping guide. My editors agreed and promptly assigned it to me. It is now up on our site and has buying guides, product reviews and funky baby gift sites.

While I worked on the guide, I found a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration video about car seats. The government is rating car seats on how easy they are to install and use. The short video raised all sorts of points that I hadn’t even thought of for car seat shopping. For example, does the car seat have instructions on both sides of the base? If you’re installing the car seat on one side of the car, but the instructions face the other, it could make the process much more difficult.

Yesterday we were at Babies ‘R’ Us trying to sort out some stroller and car seat issues. That video helped me figure out what to look for, and see some major differences between our top two choices.

Researching the guide also reminded me of a site a friend sent me a few years ago, called Rock A Bye Baby! This site turns rock and alternative songs into lullabies for babies. They have nearly two dozen albums from artists such as Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, U2, Tool and AC/DC. The albums are also available on iTunes, and I think we’ll download a couple.

In other little one news, he has a new nickname. He’s been extremely active the last week or so, but when Tim puts his hand on my stomach, the baby stops whatever he's doing. Within seconds of Tim removing his hand, the baby is at it again. For now, we're calling him Michigan J. Baby.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Milestones, good and bad

Last week started with dubious pregnancy milestones. I inadvertently wore a maternity shirt that didn’t cover my stomach. Luckily, I had a cardigan so none of my co-workers suffered. Another day, I had to ask someone for their seat on the bus.

We were stuck in the tunnel because of an accident. My back ached, and the woman I asked was kind enough to let me sit. Normally, our commute is short enough that standing on the bus is just an inconvenience.

Others have offered me their seats in the evening, but they are usually sitting in a window seat three or four rows back. Navigating past the other commuters in the aisle on a moving bus would be worse than just standing for 15 minutes.

Strangely, people have never offered their seat in the morning. I suspect there are two reasons for that. One is people aren’t as aware of their surroundings in the morning. I’m certainly not. Also, I’m always bundled up because it’s so cold, and the bump may not be as obvious. I don't mind, though.

On the brighter side, I started prenatal yoga last week, which went much better than anticipated.

And on Saturday, my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law threw me a lovely baby shower. There were cousins, family friends, and six of their daughters (5 under the age of 6) who were all adorable dressed in pink. The girls had a great time unwrapping the gift with me.

The baby received all sorts of beautiful hand-made blankets, adorable clothes and useful stuff: bottles, bath books, a swing, bouncy seat, stroller, that sort of thing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sorry it's been so long...

I’ll try to stick to a schedule of posting once or twice a week.

As I write this, I’m waiting for cinnamon rolls to proof before I bake them. We saw an episode of Good Eats a couple of weeks ago, and since then I’d been thinking about making them. Proofing, as I understand it, has something to do with using steam to wake up the yeast in the rolls after they’ve spent hours in the refrigerator. We’ll see how they turn out. I didn’t get the right kind of yeast, so it took about 12 hours for the dough to rise when the recipe said it would take two. Luckily we weren’t counting on them for Sunday breakfast.

We spent President’s Day weekend visiting friends in North Carolina. For those friends we didn’t see while we were there, I’m sorry. It was a short trip, from Saturday afternoon to noon Monday. It was pretty low-key – we just spent time with our friends and their young children, went to some favorite restaurants, and Tim played lots of Guitar Hero.

On the work front, findingDulcinea has a new project sports fans will enjoy. is a look back at the Giants’ and Patriots seasons, with some of the funny commentary, predictions, criticism and reverence surrounding these two teams. This site starts in the off-season and goes through each week, then quarter by quarter during the Super Bowl. And of course there's a roundup of the jubilation and bewilderment (depending on who you were rooting for) after the game.

Watch several clips, including two commercials from Reebok with the 1972 Dolphins (there’s nothing like covering your bases); comments from Michael Strahan and Eli’s appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Belly button watch, day 127: Still an inny. I think it's decided to stay that way.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

If you haven't been to findingDulcinea lately ...

We've had all sorts of interesting stories, and I have some recommendations. First, there’s a chilling story about a hospital that held infants until their parents could pay their bills. Luckily, a judge had the sense to intervene.

Valentine’s Day is Thursday, and we’ve got a guide to the holiday that includes its history, gift ideas, recipes, and ideas for a romantic evening. There’s also a section that highlights all the fun single people can have on Valentine’s Day.

I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, to be honest, and don't see a reason to go all out for it. We’re just going to have a quiet dinner at home. We bought a frozen duck today for it, and I’m looking forward to having it. All I have to do is find a cheesecake.

One piece I worked on is about three Mississippi lawmakers who proposed a measure that would prohibit restaurants from serving obese people. The bill drew lots of criticism, and state leaders say it’s not going to get anywhere. Mississippi has one of the highest obesity rates in the U.S.

Lately I've been sending guides and other items to some friends. One friend is going to Spain this month, so I sent her our travel guide. Another friend is planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, so I sent her our National Parks guide.

If you're looking to research a particular topic, take a look around our site, or ask me. We've cover health, religion, home improvement, finance, careers, travel, and just about anything else you can think of. Similarly, if you don't find a guide you think we should have, let me know. You know where to find me.

Belly button watch, day 32: Still an inny, but it’s just biding its time. I can tell.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Belly button musings

My belly button seems to be making a slow transition from being an inny to an outy. I wish it would hurry up and pop out already, as the suspense is killing me. Is it going to suddenly appear one day? When? Will it be huge and noticeable? Will it be ticklish, like it usually is? So far the answer to that last one seems to be no, so that's good. G-I-A-N-T-S GIANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That cheer is what Tim decided to contribute while I was away from the computer. He was a little bit excited about the Giants winning the Super Bowl. He spent most of the fourth quarter on his feet in our apartment, trying to keep himself occupied without throwing things. After they won Sunday night, we opened the windows and heard people yelling throughout Hoboken while crowds converged on Times Square.

We didn't go to the ticker tape parade today. It was threatening rain, the route was far from our offices in midtown, and by the time we were getting ready for work crowds had already gathered for the 11 a.m. parade. There's some talk about having a parade in Hoboken for the Giants who live here (I've heard Eli Manning and Kawika Mitchell live here, but I'm sure there's more), but I doubt it'll happen.

But going back to the pregnancy for a second, I seem to have grown quite a bit all of a sudden. I often lose sight of my shoes during the day. Over email, I asked Tim if he thought the bump had grown because I was feeling particularly whale-tastic (or Shamu-riffic, if you prefer) today. Surprisingly, he didn't respond. When I asked him later, he ignored me. I guess I shouldn't have eaten all of that ice cream last week.

Tonight's musical selection: The W.A.N.D, Flaming Lips

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Registration Fun

Today we registered for baby stuff, which wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. No one at Babies ‘R Us was injured while I was there, and Tim and were still speaking when we left. The pregnancy books warned that salespeople may use all sorts of tactics to push unnecessary items on us, so I thought it would be like buying a car. In actuality, the salespeople were far too swamped to bother us.

It was still somewhat overwhelming, though we were armed with Baby Bargains, a list of equipment my Moms group recommended, and advice from family and friends. We faced walls and walls of seemingly identical items. That confusion aside, we’re actually very lucky. As the last in the family to have kids, there is a ton of hand-me-down items that my brothers- and sisters-in-law are generous enough to share with us, which meant we had to register for less.

Today’s biggest sticking point, believe it or not, was the diaper bag. The bags I selected were too girly, while those he picked out didn’t look like diaper bags. I don’t know why I want something that looks like a diaper bag, but here we are. We left that for another day.

We also encountered plenty of items that no one needs, such as special plastic bags to dispose of diapers (they look like plastic grocery store bags). They even come with dispensers that look suspiciously like those found on dogs’ leashes. Do we use those when we’re out for a walk?

My absolute favorite was the Weeblock, a little athletic cup that is used when changing little boys’ diapers. When a baby boy piddle in the middle of a diaper change, the results can be disastrous for the person changing them, especially if he or she is running late or wearing dry-clean only clothing. For the person who wants to protect themselves, there is a whole line of Weeblocks, all with pithy sayings on them.

I think, for everyone's safety, we’ll just cover the baby with an extra diaper during changes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Name That Tune

The New York City Subway system has an interesting soundtrack. I'm not talking about the screech of the trains or classical music pumped in like they do at the Port Authority (or Christmas music that started the day before Thanksgiving).

No, these are individual musicians. So far, I've heard music from acoustic guitars, electric guitars, a violin, an accordion, a steel drum, a trombone, a saxophone, drums (the plastic bucket variety), a clarinet, and a keyboard.

I have also seen singers and dancers, but mostly in the Times Square station, where there is more space. People are more likely to play in the evenings, probably because they know none of us will be very appreciative or generous in the morning. Most of the buses and trains have an unspoken (no pun intended) quiet policy, and the subway is no exception.

The evenings are another story, especially Friday nights. You hear all sorts of music, and since it isn't on its original instrument and lacks lyrics, I invariably add an element of Name That Tune to my commute. The problem is that once I've figured out the song, it's stuck in my head.

And do you really want to have Christopher Cross' "Caught Between the Moon and New York City?" or "My Favorite Things" (on saxophone) in your head? Me neither. I've also heard the Jackson 5, and all sorts of other one hit wonders from the last three decades.

In other news, work is going well. Some of the interesting items my colleagues at findingDulcinea have been working on include a piece on a computerized dog translator and other studies into canine behavior. Dogs actually have more subtle emotions than previously thought.

Now if only they would devote similar research to cats, then I could figure out what mine is trying to tell me. I think it might be important.

Want to host a great Super Bowl party? Use our guide to watching the game. It includes hosting logistics (make sure the food table, if it's in another room, is still within sight of the TV) along with food and drink recipes. Anyone up for some Tequila punch? I have to pass, but it sounds interesting.

And if you have no idea what all the fuss is about, or are exasperated by a football-illiterate friend, send them our guide to Super Bowl 42. This guide includes the history of the Super Bowl, Giants and Patriots, as well as news and analysis for each team.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's good to have one Manning in the Super Bowl

There was quite a bit of rejoicing at our house last night after the Giants defeated Green Bay. Neither of us have ever been to the big game, and this year would have been ideal. The game is going to be in Phoenix, where some very good friends live.

If you are lucky enough to be planning a Super Bowl trip right now, use our findingDulcinea travel guide to make the most of your visit. Learn about day trips from the city, how to get around town, and what kind of Super Bowl-related entertainment is available.

We've been there a few times, and I'm always struck by how beautiful the city and surrounding mountains are. The people are nice, the food is great, and of course, the weather is lovely.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dispatches from the board

Tonight I’m sending my post from our dart night. Home turf doesn’t seem to matter so far, as we're about even with the other team, win-loss wise, about a third of the way into the competition. I was responsible for one loss, but my opponent was very good (she hit everything I was aiming for), which is a consolation.

We had an interesting story today about wine’s prices vs. enjoyment. A study in California showed that people enjoyed a wine if they thought it was more expensive. Other researchers, though, wondered if the subjects would have enjoyed the wine as much had they actually paid for it. This story is currently irrelevant to me, as you know, but good to know in the future.

Oh, and if you have the cold or flu, use our guide to help get better. This guide has links that tell you how to figure out whether you have the cold or flu, and how they are treated. There are also links to what remedies are effective, or will just make you feel better. Among my favorites: a WebMD quiz that helps you decide whether you should go to work or call in sick, and an Associated Press article about other countries' versions of chicken soup.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New York surprised me in two ways. First, the city was far more clean than I expected. Sure, Manhattan has plenty of mystery puddles and icky smells, as does Hoboken, but so did Washington. I expected something much worse. The second is people are much nicer, for the most part.

This morning, we were passing through the Port Authority Bus Terminal on the way to that Big Apple Institution, brunch, when a woman said something unintelligble to me, but followed it up with a smack on my hip (which didn't hurt) and very clearly yelled, "You whore!" I never thought I'd hear that at 10 a.m. on a Sunday.

We met our friend and his mother for brunch at a wonderful restaurant called Norma's.

Our friend's mother and aunt started a really cool business called Incredibly Edible Delites some years ago. There are stores all over the country, but don't be fooled by imitators. It was great to see them both again. Besides taking us out for a lovely brunch, they also brought several gifts for the baby, which was very generous.

After brunch we all went to FAO Schwarz. It was my first time in that store, and wow. We walked into the plush section, where we saw rows and rows of stuffed giraffes, polar bears, gorillas, cats, catepillars, dogs, catfish, tigers and leopards. The centerpiece was a display of giant mythical creatures, such as Cerberus, a Phoenix and a Griffin. Seeing all of it made me want to ressurect my long-abandoned stuffed animal collection. It was hard not to regress when looking at the Smurf figurines, board games, Barbie gallery and Harry Potter display. Really, who could resist a model of the Hogwarts Express or Dumbledore's hat?

While we were in the infant/toddler section, Tim said he understood why people get the urge to spend ridiculous amounts of money before the baby arrives. We caved slightly and bought an adorable stuffed monkey. A few baby gifts have had monkeys on them, so I think a nursery theme is emerging.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A room with a view ... normally

My new office is on the 28th floor of a building on Park Avenue South, in the middle of Manhattan. The entire suite is lined with enormous windows that face east, south, and west. The view is impressive, especially for someone new to the city. The Empire State Building is about two blocks over, and the gold dome of the New York Life building to the south is so close it seems like we could reach out and touch it.

We can see some of the city's many bridges, the East River, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. On sunny days we get “sunset alerts” so we don’t miss any of the beauty.

When you inevitably wonder why every post starts with an uneducated weather report, that’s why. It's hard to ignore what's going on outside, but it's one of my favorite things about the office.

Today, though it’s foggy, gloomy, and to the west, the world seems to end at a solid gray wall about a quarter mile away. I hope New Jersey is still there, or else my commute is going to be difficult.

The last couple of days have been busy with writing health guides and news. One of my favorites was a Beyond the Headlines piece about pet allowances in Japan.

My editor told me a story about an actress buying a lamb, thinking it was a puppy, and asked me to research it. It turned out to be an urban legend, but the “accounts” were funny, as was’s report debunking it. All of them are included in the above piece. This is what I enjoy about my job: being asked to research some of the most bizarre and interesting topics.

Another piece is about using a rheumatoid arthritis drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The case study is about one person, and research is in the early stages, so if it's approved, it probably won't be for a long time. But reading the account of the patient before and after his treatment was compelling, as were interviews with patients' family members.

Today’s musical selection: Simple Kid “Serotonin” from 2

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

You have to start somewhere ...

So I'll start with today, which is warm and sunny in Manhattan. And the sun definitely lifted my spirits after this morning, which started off with oversleeping, ironing and ill-fitting maternity clothes. And that followed a late night and a miserable showing in our dart game (0-3, a new low for me, I think). It's amazing what sunny weather and half-caff coffee can do.

Though many people seem focused on the New Hampshire primary results today, I'm not paying too much attention. No, something on findingDulcinea's web page caught my attention. On this day 36 years ago, the Queen Mary sank. You know I can't resist a good mystery.

Full disclosure: I write for findingDulcinea, but didn't write this particular piece. I'll periodically be sharing some articles, guides and other features I think may interest you. This site, for those of you who know me, is a big change from my newspaper days, but I find it fascinating. I hope you do, too.

For example, if you're feeling more civic-minded today than I am and want to learn more about the 2008 presidential candidates, check out our election guide.