Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dog Kennel

I have to rave about something. We found the best boarding place for our dogs! We've had a few bad experiences boarding our dogs while we've gone on vacation, so we were a little nervous trying this new place in Broomfield called the Colorado Dog Academy. But they ended up being so wonderful!

We warned them that Loki is afraid of other dogs (and thus gets aggressive with them), and that she and Tyr can be kenneled together, but she needs to be fed separately from Tyr. They said "No problem. We feed them separately as standard practice, and we get dogs in here all the time that have issues with other dogs." We also warned them that Loki has an anxious stomach, and again their response was "Happens all the time. No problem." Immediately we felt at ease. We got no phone calls from them while we were on the cruise, so we assumed everything went smoothly.

When Jeremy went to pick the dogs up on Monday, we realized how amazing these people really were. Their kennels are all side-by-side and have chain-link separating them, and apparently Loki was having a hissy fit because there was a strange dog next door. So what they did was they separated Loki and Tyr, put Loki in the end kennel and Tyr in the next one over as a buffer between her and the other dogs. Problem solved. She chilled out. Also on the first day she was there, she busted her tail open (remember, this happens to her all the time because of her breed's tendency toward "happy tail"). The kennel workers just cleaned her up and taped her tail -- no problem. And all of this was no extra charge -- they didn't even charge us for two kennels!

It is so rare that I find a business that is so well-run. It's great to know that we have trustworthy people to leave our dogs with while we're away.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Caribbean Cruise

We left for Orlando on Saturday afternoon and stayed the night at the airport Marriott. Not much to say there except they had a pretty decent breakfast bar. LOL.

Sunday morning we hopped in a shuttle and went down to Port Canaveral to catch our ship, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. Royal Caribbean won't allow anyone under the age of 21 to room alone with a child, so we had to arrange it so Emily's twins were technically in one room with me, and Jeremy and Emily were technically in another. This wasn't a big deal except I had to check the twins in at the port. Again, not a big deal except David was having a hissy fit in his stroller, so I had to hold him while filling out customs and immigration forms and juggling three passports. Let me tell you, nothing tastes better to a teething 6-month-old than a passport. So long story short, all 14 of us got checked in and made it onto the ship, no problem. The room Jeremy and I shared was pretty standard -- big enough to feature a king-sized bed, a couch and a vanity. The bathroom was the size of our coat closet at home. But it was cozy. That night we did some gambling in the on-board casino and looked at the art gallery (which had some amazing Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir, Agam and Max pieces for sale).

Monday we were at sea all day. Jeremy and I took it pretty easy. When the ship is moving, it's pretty windy on the decks, so we didn't venture to the pools. We explored the ship -- there were dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops, a climbing wall, three pools, miniature golf, a gym, a running track, a library, and this "Flow Rider" thing where you can surf/boogie board right on the ship! We also gambled a little more in the casino and walked around the promenade to do some window shopping. Monday night was also our first formal dinner (you get assigned two nights of formal dinners in the restaurant, and it is required that you dress up).

Getting ready for our first formal dinner on the cruise...

Not bad for 6 months pregnant, huh?...

Tuesday we docked in Labadee, Haiti. It is touted as Royal Caribbean's "private island", but the truth is it is actually part of the island of Haiti. It is directly north of Port-au-Prince. It is a very secluded tourist spot, though, so it was unaffected by the recent earthquake, culture-wise. The weather was perfect, in the 80's with humidity around 55%. We all spent a ton of time in the water, floating on these foam mat things. We all slathered on the sunscreen, but for everyone but me, it came off in the water. I must have different skin or something, because everyone got burned but me. The marketplace in Labadee was pretty typical for a Caribbean island -- some handmade things, a ton of made-in-China crap, and every sales person trying to convince you to go into their shop. It's kind of intimidating, especially if you actually decide to buy something because then you have to negotiate with them. At least they don't grab you or shout at you like I hear they used to do.

After we got back on the ship, I went to a seminar on art collecting. It was so interesting! I absolutely fell in love with a Yaacov Agam piece called "Rainbow Blessings", and I don't even normally like modern art!

Labadee, Haiti, from the top of the ship...

Our ship, Freedom of the Seas...

I just thought these steps were cool looking...

Anthony was obviously not impressed by Labadee...

The water was PERFECT...

Wednesday we docked in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It was about 85 degrees with 55% humidity -- very comfortable. Most of us had already been there, so we all kind of went our separate ways. Jeremy and I chose to go into town and walk around. Our main goal that day was to buy a few bottles of Rum Cream, which we fell in love with the last time we were in Jamaica, and which they don't export. Walking from the ship into town was hilarious. Jamaicans are somewhat pushy when they have something to sell you, but they're not obnoxious -- however, I swear they allll want to sell you pot. Jeremy and I kept score. He got three offers for "Bob Marley" and I got one. We stopped in at John Crow's Tavern and had a glass of Rum Cream (yes, I know I'm pregnant, but one tiny glass won't hurt anyone), then we found a shop that sold bottles of it and bought three to bring home. Jeremy and I have been to several places in the Caribbean now, and we both agree that Jamaica is our favorite place. The weather, the culture and the activities are better than we've found anywhere else. We talk about going back again for a week to do and see all the things that we missed the last two times we were there.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica, from the top of the ship...

Walking around Ocho Rios (the best pics of Jeremy are always when I sneak up on him)...

Thursday the ship stopped at Georgetown, Grand Cayman. At this port, though, the ship couldn't pull up to the island, so we had to take a ferry from the ship to shore (called "tendering"). Jeremy, his dad and Frank went SCUBA diving, so I went shopping with Janet and Jennifer. I wasn't that impressed with Grand Cayman overall. From what I saw of it, there wasn't a lot of natural beauty. It was covered in buildings, and what nature there was was low and bland. They did a pretty good job of adding interesting visual elements in Georgetown, though -- white picket fences that stood out against the blue sky, sculptures here and there and pretty fountains. It was also very hot, there, with higher humidity than Jamaica or Haiti. Actually it reminded me somewhat of Mexico. I got Baby Girl her first stuffed animal there -- a pink and purple seahorse.

I think Jeremy had a way better time there than I did. He saw a manta ray on his dive, which is not native to the area and VERY rarely seen. Apparently the one dive master that didn't get to see it was really ticked that Jeremy saw it and she didn't. And even worse for her, he got amazing pictures of it. Once he downloads it from his underwater camera, I'll try to remember to post it here.

I'm not posting any pics of Grand Cayman from the top of the ship, because frankly it's not that impressive. But Georgetown itself was interesting, especially once the clouds burned off...

Fountain in Georgetown, Grand Cayman...

Friday we docked in Cozumel, Mexico. Jeremy goes there every year on a dive trip with his buddies, so it's practically his second home. We decided to do an excursion to Tulum while the rest of the family met up with Gabriel, a dive master/family friend. Just remember when I explain our trek to Tulum, I am 6 months pregnant and it was 90 degrees with 80% humidity in that part of Mexico. Be impressed with me. Be very impressed. So we met our tour group in the theater on the ship, then took a 45-min ferry ride from the ship to Playa del Carmen. Playa is pretty, with white sand beaches, but it is also very Americanized. It seemed like the kind of place you would go if you didn't want to stray too far from your comfort zone. We walked through the square and got on a bus with about 20 other people. Our tour guide was not good -- he was difficult to follow and didn't explain things very well. But we made it onto the bus okay, and during the hour ride to Tulum, we got a little history lesson. Tulum was HOT. Barely a breeze to be found. There is a shopping area right near the parking lot that you have to walk through to get to the ruins, and I kid you not, they CHARGE to use the restrooms. It was about a half a mile walk to get to the ruins, and there was virtually no shade. At one point we passed by a dead coral snake, and the guide jumped like someone had poured ice down his back. I laughed so hard! When we finally got to the ruins, it was crawling with people. I don't know if I got more than a handful of photos without strangers in them. Of course, it was spring break and we were in Mexico -- I suppose I should have expected it. The ruins were so amazing, especially against the backdrop of the bright blue water. You could still make out the carvings on a lot of the buildings, and there were huge iguanas crawling all over the crumbling rock. I tried really hard not to let the throngs of tourists ruin my time there -- I have little patience for crowds, and even less for rude people (which make up 90% of tourist crowds).

After taking the bus back to Playa, then the ferry back to Cozumel, we had just enough time for Jeremy to give me a quick tour of his second home. I really wanted to do some shopping there and pick up some souvenirs for a few people (and get myself one of those flowy Mexican shirts!), but we had to be back on the ship before it left the port. So I got what photos I could and we caught a taxi back to the ship. About 7 hours out in the Mexican heat, my feet were swollen and my back was giving out, but I made it! I even managed to maintain enough energy to go to an ice-skating show after dinner. Yes, there was an ice skating rink on our ship. The skaters were Ice Capades rejects, but the music was great.

Jeremy in the Mexican jungle...

BIG iguana in Tulum...

The ruins of Tulum are right on the water...

The town square of Cozumel, Mexico...

Saturday we were at sea all day. It was very relaxing. I watched the nieces climb the rock wall, stuffed myself silly at the buffet, and caught up on my reading. On Sunday when we were at the Orlando airport waiting to board our plane (I need to mention this -- Southwest open seating BLOWS), a freak lightning storm hit. We were about 2 hours late getting on the plane. I called Della while we were sitting at the gate, just to check in because she had been checking on Cairo and the house while we were gone, and she said that the snowstorm that hit on Tuesday took out our neighbor's tree... and narrowly missed my truck. If that tree had fallen the other direction, my truck would have been crushed. Talk about some luck!

24 Weeks (6 months)

I promise I will blog about the cruise soon. But for now you're going to have to settle for pics of my 24-wk belly. You still can't tell I'm pregnant from the front, but from the side (especially when Baby Girl is in certain positions) you can sure tell now!

24 weeks:

And for reference, 20 weeks and 15 weeks:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Meetings, Script Frenzy and Squat

Meetings starting at 8am should be illegal. Especially when they are 6 hours long. This is one part of my new job that I reeeeally don't like -- lots of meetings. I was so spoiled for years working behind the scenes, not having to attend these things.

I'm going to try Script Frenzy this year. I thought it was in February, but it turns out it's in April. The challenge is a 100-page script (film, TV, stage, graphic novel, whatever) in 30 days. I'm feeling pretty good physically, I've got a good story idea, and I'm comfortable with the screenplay format... so why not try it? This is the last April I'll be child-free, after all.

We did squat for St. Patrick's Day this year because we're broke. There were a ton of events going on up here, but they all seemed to cost money. Boooo. I can't wait until we're not broke anymore. At least Jeremy got his unemployment check situation sorted out. I was stressing BIG time when his check didn't come through this week. Oh, and we received a profit sharing check from the company that laid him off -- and the dang thing bounced! I suppose we shouldn't have been surprised. After all, they let go the guy that was keeping them afloat.

It's dumping snow outside. Time to go on a Caribbean cruise with Jeremy's family!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BellaBand, New Music and a Cluster

Do you know how hard it is to prepare for a Caribbean cruise when you're not quite at the maternity-clothes-wearing stage, but you can't fit into your regular clothes either? Don't even get me started on trying to find a SWIMSUIT. But I found the most wonderful invention ever, and it's saving my life when it comes to fitting into pants: the BellaBand! Oh what a wonderful little device! I hope every woman is paying attention to this post so she can go out and buy one during her next pregnancy. It's a lifesaver.

This week has been nuts at work. One of my teammates is out, so I'm backing her up -- but that's not what is making the week so crazy busy. It's like spring has made people wake up and come out of the woodwork. I've gotten more requests for promotional landing pages and banners this week than in the entire last month. I am trying to get everything wrapped up before I leave on vacation, but that has not been an easy feat.

I got a new piano book this week. It's a Narada new age sampler. Challenging, but do-able -- and so pretty! I have had a lot of fun practicing this week. Sadly I have not done any writing or artwork. :( But truthfully I've been busy with other things after work, so it's not like I'm vegging out in front of the TV (though that does sound nice...).

Last night we met Jeremy's family in north Denver at Cinzetti's. I ate way too much, as I always do. But what's a pregnant lady to do at an all-you-can-eat buffet?

This week has been a clusterf*** in regards to our finances. Jeremy's unemployment check didn't come through, and he's trying to sort that out. The IRS says he owes taxes from 2007, but can't explain why. We also owe taxes for 2009 -- but try to figure THAT out when he was out of work for half the year. Kaiser double-charged us for his CPAP machine. And finally, Verizon charged us $80 for the 43 emails he sent during his time in Mexico. Don't believe their website when they say it's $.005/KB! It's a lie! And time is getting short in regards to Jeremy's job situation. His unemployment runs out in May. He's got some ideas for businesses he wants to start, so I have been encouraging him to get going on them before he's out of time and ends up taking a low-paying labor job to pay the bills. Send good thoughts our way...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekend? What Weekend?

I need more weekend. I am not prepared to go back to work tomorrow. But we go on the cruise soon, so that's cool! I hope it's a relaxing vacation. We're going with Jeremy's family, and they are "no rest for the wicked" types. Usually I love that because I want to see and do EVERYTHING, but these days a few hours reading on a beach sounds better than anything.

My parents came up on Saturday and we all went on a tour of Celestial Seasonings in Boulder. I have always wanted to do that, but never got around to it before. It was so fun! We got to taste different teas, see how they are all made... and the best part was we got to go into the "Peppermint Room". That's where they keep all the mint. Two seconds in there will clear your sinuses for a week! It is quite the experience. After the tour we did some shopping in their gift shop. I need to remember that's a great place to get unique gifts for people... there were tea sets in there I would love to get for our nieces (and eventually Baby Girl, too), teas that aren't on the market yet, and really cool teapots, jewelry and bath-and-body products. I got a new kind of Badger Balm called "Clear Mind" (I'm addicted to their "Sleep" balm for my lips and nose at bedtime, and their "Evolving" balm for the skin around my eyes).

After the tour and shopping, we went to ModMarket for lunch. Their cashew butternut squash soup was sooooo good, but their vegetarian tomato bisque was to die for. They have lots of salads and flatbread pizzas to choose from, too, or you can build your own. We'll definitely be eating there again soon!

I don't remember where our Saturday night went. I remember eating a lot of Easter candy, though. LOL. Oh yeah, my new pastel pencils arrived in the mail on Saturday, so I played with them Saturday night. My pencil work (even pastel pencil) is much more crisp than my soft pastel or acrylic work. I like it, but I think I want to combine the pencils with the soft pastels next time and get a more expressive result. The Loki picture in my last post was what I did Saturday night.

The time change didn't throw me off too bad this morning because lately I am wide awake at 6am. But since I refuse to drag my exhausted body out of bed that early on a Sunday, I slipped in and out of sleep until 9:30 or so, then got up and walked to church. I do love walking to the UUF on a quiet Sunday morning -- it makes me feel spiritually connected before I even enter the door. After service, I went to my prenatal yoga class. My teacher was very excited to find out I was having a girl (I missed class last weekend so spend time with my bestest Josey, so I didn't get to tell her until today). I am bummed I won't be able to attend for 2 weeks because of the cruise. Maybe they have a gentle yoga class on the cruise I can do... hmm... I'll have to find out.

My high school pal Emily and her husband Matt came up to visit us tonight. The last time we saw them was on our honeymoon -- they were honeymooning in Ireland at the same time we were, so we met up in Newgrange. It's been tooooo long since we've seen them! It was great catching up, and we had a yummy dinner at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place, Si Senor.

The four of us in Ireland:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daily Art

I read a lot about artists doing daily sketches, or daily paintings, or just daily art, period, and I keep thinking this is a good idea. Kind of like my daily (almost) writing practice, the thought is to improve skills, build confidence and make a habit out of the creative activity. So, I'm going to try this.

I made a little tool pouch last night from some spare fabric and hot glue (which made me realize a sewing machine would be my next semi-expensive purchase). That art book I got yesterday recommended this as a way to make art more accessible -- and frankly my Virgo nature loves organizing so much that creating this little artistic arsenal was wayyyy too much fun.

Here it is opened up:
And here it is rolled up:

I thought about posting my daily sketches/paintings here... but let's be realistic. I'm not so good at sticking with those kinds of commitments. So I'll probably post batches now and then. But here's my doodle for the night, just cuz I had my phone camera handy:

Free Art Lesson Downloads

I found this online and wanted to share it with my fellow creative (or wanna-be-creative) readers: http://www.artistdaily.com/media/g/freemiums/default.aspx

There are some great lessons/articles there to download for FREE, and almost every possible medium is represented.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Art Escapes

I bought this book today. Look out for some fun new art projects!

Also, I discovered Create TV (it's a PBS station, so everyone has it) recently. So I've been getting even more ideas from some of the fun programs there -- not just art, but gardening, writing, fabric crafts... I feel like I'm just brimming with ideas right now, I don't know where to start. I do a little here, a little there... and I wonder if I should try to focus on one thing a bit more. But at the same time, I want to take advantage of this energy and try EVERYTHING!

I stopped going to A.R.T.S. Anonymous a few weeks ago. I felt like it wasn't inspiring me enough, even though I loved being around other creative types. It was a good experience, though, and I still might go back. It made me realize what I need in an art group -- inspiration and hands-on learning. The Boulder Art Association has a meeting once a month, and often they have artist demonstrations. I'll probably try going to that in April. But I keep thinking I'd like to start my own group, too. I don't know too many people up here yet, so I'm not in a position to start a group just yet -- but once I'm more established here, I might attempt it. It usually takes me a year in a new location to really start making friends, so I'm not stressing about it yet.

When I was at the bookstore today, I also picked up Kristin Hannah's Firefly Lane, on the recommendation of a friend. I'm taking it on the cruise with me. Since I have an e-book reader stocked full with reading material, I only allow myself to bring one real book on trips anymore -- and this one was my choice for this trip. I'll let you guys know if I love it as much as I hear other people are loving it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Jeremy's Eyes -- Pen + Wash

Jeremy is in Kansas City until Thursday, helping his dad with one of the businesses out there. I miss him. So he was the natural choice for my latest pen & wash piece. :)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Josey's Visit

Josey came up to visit today. It's the first time she's been up here since we moved. We started by going to brunch at the Huckleberry in Louisville. After we'd stuffed ourselves with yummy food, we headed into Boulder. We drove by the campus and parked near Pearl Street. Then we spent a couple hours shopping and eating sweets. Powell's Candy Shop and Haagen Dazs were some highlights. :) Finally we stopped by North Boulder Park so I could say hi to one of my old yoga buddies who was visiting her daughter here from Colorado Springs.

I do love to have visitors. There are so many fun things to do here (especially come spring/summer), and I love to show off our new home. I hope people come to see us more often once the weather stays nice!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Only in Boulder

Jeremy and I had a big day today. Okay, well it wasn't a "big" day, necessarily, but for an easily-exhausted pregnant woman it was pretty big. We left the house right after lunch and went into Boulder to do a little shopping. Jeremy has decided he wants to get back into shape -- and of course my natural response is "OMG! Yes! I'll do ANYTHING to keep you motivated!" Today that consisted of getting him some new CDs and walking shoes. You've never met a man that loved to buy new things like this guy. He was a very happy camper.

After that, we went to the one comic shop that Boulder has to pick up two comics that had mysteriously disappeared from Jeremy's perfect collection. Again, I had a very happy husband. There was a girl in the shop with a poodle mix -- a very well-behaved dog that had one blue eye and one brown. A girl and a dog in a comic shop. Only in Boulder.

Next on the agenda was a chili cookoff/beer tasting at the Upslope Brewery. It's a small brewery in north Boulder that neither of us had ever heard of, but I had been reading about this event on some local Twitter and RSS feeds for the last week. Jeremy had been looking forward to it for days. Sadly he wasn't feeling too good today, so he had to miss out on the $5 bottomless bowl of chili -- but he did try two beers and we hung out in the back of the warehouse listening to the live band and soaking in the sunshine. As we were standing there, we noticed a lot of couples our age with babies. I had to laugh -- only in Boulder do you bring a baby to a brewery. I love it, though! Most of the babies were happily sitting on daddy's hip, or comfy in a sling on mommy's belly -- no fuss, no muss. Life obviously hadn't stopped for these couples -- the baby just became a part of it. I guess for so many years I worried about a child stopping my life, a life I loved dearly, that it is reassuring to see it doesn't have to be that way. I look forward to Baby Girl being a part of my everyday world.

So, buzzed on microbrews, Jeremy decided he wanted to make his patented "Hobo Dinner" tonight. It's basically a bunch of veggies and spices with hamburger meat (or for me, Boca ground crumbles), wrapped in tin foil and thrown on the grill. He was quite proud of his cooking -- and rightly so. It was delicious!

On a side note, Jeremy has taught Baby Girl how to headbang. I witnessed it firsthand during the ultrasound yesterday, so now I know what she's doing when I feel a particular type of bump in my belly. I feel the need to crank my new age music to swing the music odds more in my favor now. If I have two people in this house listening to Mudvayne, I might go nuts.

Friday, March 05, 2010

It's a Girl!

We had our 20-wk prenatal appointment today with the high-risk specialist to check on the baby. They got us in and on the ultrasound right away, thank goodness -- none of that "the doctor will be here in a moment" and waiting for 20 minutes hoopla we're used to. We were thankful for that, because we were SO anxious!

The doc looked at the spine, the skull, the limbs, and especially the heart (remember a few weeks ago, Baby's heart rate was slow), and everything looked perfect. No signs of any trouble. The heart rate is now up to 141, even! And then he pointed out... the girl parts! I was in shock. I asked "Are you sure?" He said "Oh yes, look here between the legs, that's where the boy parts would be, and those are labia." I looked at Jeremy in surprise. I kept thinking the baby would turn and the doc would say "Oh no, I was wrong!" But no, he kept saying it was a girl.

I am still in shock. I was so convinced I was having a boy. My mind has not wrapped around "girl" yet. But I am so happy! SO HAPPY!

Jeremy's response was "Yeah, I knew it was a girl. And she's going to be a daddy's girl, too." As that sank in, I realized... CRAP! He's totally right. The way he is with his nieces, I'm screwed. LOL

So here are some pictures of our little girl!


Baby foot!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Pen + wash sea turtle underwater

Reference photo (Jeremy took this in Cozumel):

Really Rough Night

Holy crap. My body is FURIOUS with me for having to sleep on my side all the time now. That kidney pain from last week? Yeah, I've identified it. It's mid-low back muscle spasms. I had them again last night -- this time center and left. I was in AGONY. I ended up having to sleep propped up with a big back pillow piled with my regular pillows so I could be on my back. After about 30 minutes, the spasms stopped, my muscles relaxed and I was able to get to sleep. Not the most comfortable sleeping position, but it's wayyy better than back spasms!

Oh man, and the dreams! I had the weirdest dreams! I think because we're so close to finding out the sex of the baby (and I have been guilty of watching Ru Paul's Drag Race) the boy/girl question is in my subconscious. Last night's doozy of a dream involved my first really serious boyfriend in high school being a hermaphrodite. And he wore a dress.