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.