Archive for July, 2009

Cranky Closing

We closed on our new house yesterday.  We weren’t sure we were going to be able to close on schedule as there were a number of miscommunications with the bank that had us scrambling until this week.  (See previous post: Life in a Post-Regulation World.)  Plus, there were some issues in the papers filed: the lawyers’ office wrote the WRONG ADDRESS on the deed and when I called them to have this corrected, the paralegal said she would correct it, but she was quite snippy with me.  Don’t we hire lawyers to dot their I’s and cross their T’s?  This wasn’t a mere typo, but the complete wrong address with the wrong street, in the wrong town, in the wrong county.  Sloppy work.  Don’t we have the right to have our house deed with the right address on it?  Hubby and I will register our displeasure with the bank, who hired these bozos.

All in all, this closing was quite a bit more stressful than when we bought our house in Portland.  We still like the house a lot and the sellers and realtors were very cooperative, but the bank and the lawyers were less than optimal in this whole process.  So we went through the empty house last night with a smudge stick to purify the place for good spirits.

We’ll have the house cleaned and do a few projects (painting the nursery, possibly install hardwood floors in the bedrooms) before moving in.

In happier news, baby has been kicking quite regularly.  Hubby even got to feel the kicks!

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Grilled Blueberry Muffins

One of the culinary discoveries we’ve made here in New Hampshire is the grilled blueberry muffin.  There’s a little Mom & Pop restaurant around the corner from our office in Salem, NH, called A & A Restaurant.  The A’s stand for Asian and American, and it’s run by a Korean family.  I wandered in here one day in search of something Asian, as I was in withdrawal from my SF Asian food scene.  Their menu had a mixture of American lunch stuffs and Korean/Japanese bento boxes.  It was simple fare, but hit the spot.  Hubby and I go there once a week now.

My mother told me that A & A have wonderful homemade blueberry muffins, so Hubby & I went to check try it out.  When we ordered our muffins, they asked, “Would you like them grilled?”  We had never heard of this, so we thought we’d try it out.

Basically, grilling is how they’re reheating the muffins after they’ve cooled off.   Instead of sticking it in the microwave, they cut the muffin in half and grill the flat sides so that there’s this crunchy crust of toasted muffin.  Very tasty.  

I might try this at home, maybe we a slab of butter.  Yummy.

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Four Wheel Drive

We bought the Subaru Forester.  Last weekend, Hubby made an internal list of pro’s and cons of our family car choice and the best value was easily the Subaru.  As much as Hubby had his heart set on a Eurovan, his paternal instinct kicked in at the thought of his wife and child being stuck in a blizzard in a used car that would need regular maintenance.  A brand new Subaru Forester would be the same price as a good used Eurovan, but the Subaru would be solid and reliable.  Plus, it comes in a manual transmission, which both Hubby and I prefer.  (Hubby says this is the reason he married me, because I was a chick who drove stick on the hills of San Francisco.)


latest addition to our family

latest addition to our family


This week, we also heard from our realtor that all our ducks are lined up to close on our house next week.  The plan is to move into the house next weekend.  We’re discussing whether to do a little work on the house before moving all our stuff in, but the move should happen pretty soon.  I think my parents will miss having us in their house, but we’re only a 10 minute drive away.  This is better for everyone’s sanity.

Big life changes all at once.  Does it ever end?  But it’s better for us to get all this stuff done before even bigger changes happen in December.

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The Arc of a Story

We are currently 20 weeks pregnant and people have been asking us if we know the gender of the baby.  At this stage, an ultrasound will show the baby’s gender.  At 10 weeks, we had genetic testing performed through chorionic villus sampling (CVS), a procedure that analyzes the baby’s chromosomes.  The CVS detected the baby’s gender at 10 weeks.

We decided not to learn the baby’s gender before the birth.  I should say I decided not to know and Hubby gave in to my wishes.  Hubby felt that more information would decrease his anxiety and knowing the baby’s gender was one piece of information that would help.  However, I felt I wanted the surprise of meeting the baby when he/she is born. 

Several years ago, a friend of mine, pregnant with her first child, announced to the world that she was having a baby girl and her name was going to be Isabel.  While I was happy for her, it felt as if I was told the story’s ending without reading the book.  It almost felt like cheating. 

I’m sure for my friend and her husband, Isabel’s arrival was the most joyous event of their lives and the fact that they knew her gender and name did nothing to dampen that joy.  But I like reading the whole book, getting to know the character, his or her trials and surprises, and the nine months’ of gestation that will form this young person.  To me, uncovering the baby’s gender at birth is part of that discovery.

Another couple went into their child’s birth with six names, three for each gender.  When their baby girl was born, they decided she looked like a Cordelia.  I liked how they let the baby have a say in her name.  So right now, that’s our game plan for naming the baby.  Let the baby play a part in writing his or her own story.

All this being said, Hubby really does want to know the baby’s gender, but is conceding to my wishes.  Good Hubby.

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In Search of the Family Car

After living in San Francisco, where I took public transportation or rode my bike around, and where we almost sold our beloved red Mini Cooper to experiment with the car-less urban life, we now find ourselves in need of a second car.

There is very limited public transport in New Hampshire, and none around the winding roads of our new house.  There are no bike lanes either; we have yet to see bikers riding along any of these roads.  Plus, I imagine it would be quite difficult to bike through 2 feet of snow in the winter.  So after seriously reducing our carbon footprint, (which, despite the noisy streets and gang violence, was one of the perks of urban living) we find ourselves forced to pollute the atmosphere once again.

This second car will be deemed the “family car.”  With baby coming and with expected frequent visits from the grandparents (on both sides), we decided a solid people mover would be a good investment.  This people mover must also be able to withstand a New England winter, so a 4-wheel drive vehicle would be helpful.  As good liberals, we would want something with decent gas mileage, possibly a hybrid.  Minivans scare me, primarily because they are an icon of bourgeois suburban hell.

For a few months, Hubby has been salivating over the possibility of the Eurovan MV Weekender.  This is a Volkswagen camper bus, complete with a pop-top roof.  Fully tricked out, the Eurovan includes a sink, a small refrigerator and stove and will sleep a family of four.  The idea is that we could eventually drive the Eurovan to the tip of South America for our grand family adventure.  In its non-camping state, the Eurovan will seat 7 people. Unfortunately, the last year the Eurovan was manufactured by Volkswagen was 2003.  (More recent Eurovans are essentially Dodge Caravans, which do nothing for us.)  So we’d need to find a used 2003 Eurovan in good shape.  Not without its challenges.

Today, Hubby is exploring other options, including the Subaru Forrester (hipster, outdoorsy, solid car, will last us forever), Mazda Tribute Hybrid (great gas mileage, but not easy to find in our area), Honda CRV (seats 7), or the Ford Escape Hybrid (gasp! an American car?).

But I think a big adjustment for us is the whole idea of the family car.  Now we’ll need to worry about a baby car seat and whether it’ll fit into the car, along with the grandparents, and the car needs to be reliable enough to plow through 3 feet of snow and not break down on the way to the hospital.  Does such a car exist?

Or maybe we’ll just buy another Mini Cooper.  This one in British Racing Green.

the ultimate off-roading family car

the ultimate off-roading family car

A few updates:

“Yellow Wood Drive” was approved as our new road.  Turns out the town planner is a big Robert Frost fan.  He wrote: “I admit I look forward to having a new family in town who appreciates Robert Frost and doesn’t ask me if he’s Jack’s younger brother.”  Go poets!

After a particularly bad bout of heartburn yesterday (bad cramps, nausea, light-headed, almost fainting), Hubby insisted I call the doctor, who told me to take Pepcid AC.  I took one this morning, along with a cup of yogurt, and no heartburn.  Hooray for drugs.

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This week, I have been battling some bouts of heartburn.  Typically, pregnancy heartburn is more common in the third trimester as the uterus pushes all the other abdominal organs out of the way, but for some reason, heartburn is hitting me now, at 20 weeks.  It’s not painful, but quite uncomfortable and renders me mostly useless in the mornings. 

Maybe it’s payback time for having a relatively easy first trimester.  Bummer.

Last night we had dinner with a friend who had gone through natural childbirth twice.  (Her children are now in their 20’s.)  She said the image she kept in her mind was that of pregnant African women who would give birth while working in the fields.  After the birth was all done, they would then pick up their baskets and keep working.  

Okay, I’m soft.  I may have lived 2 years in a developing country, hiked 250 miles through the Oregon wilderness, and lived in a cabin in the woods without electricity for a year, but I can’t handle a little heartburn.  Labor won’t be pretty.

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Where Two Roads Diverge

Our real estate agent emailed us that the address of our house was about to get a new street name.  Currently, the house is on Mammoth Road, but there’s a long driveway leading to our house, which is not visible from the street.  The town fire department wanted these long driveways named so that the houses would be easier to find.  Our private drive was about to be renamed “Paradise Way,” a name chosen by the current owners of the house.  Our realtor advised us to contact the town planning director if we wanted something different.

Hubby and I thought “Paradise Way” was rather blah.  We called the planning director, who told us that “Paradise Way” had already been approved by the town selectmen, but if we could get him our suggestions within the next 24 hours, he would submit them for consideration. Given that we would be the new owners who had to live with the new street name, he was sure the town selectmen would take our preference into account.  We got the impression the town planner was not too thrilled with the name “Paradise Way” and would be happy to hear other options.

What a great opportunity to name a street!  We were given the following parameters: (1) no names of people, dead or alive, (2) no non-sensical names, and (3) no names that sound too similar to an already existing street name.  We were encouraged to think about local history and references.  So after a bit of brainstorming, we came up with the following list:

1.    Yellow Wood Drive

In reference to the Robert Frost poem “The Road Less Traveled.”  Frost had deep roots in New Hampshire and is beloved in this area.  Plus, Hubby and I liked that we would live on a road less traveled, as this is how we like to live life.

 2.    Juniper Road

On our short list of baby names for girls, but we figured the town would let this slide because Juniper is also a plant.  Of course, our kid could grow up with an ego because she had a street named after her.

 3.    Story Lane

In honor of my literary love, the short story.  We tossed around “Storybook Lane,” but decided that was too cheesy.

 4.    Cardinal Way

For my alma mater, the Stanford Cardinal—the color, not the bird.  But also a pun on “Cardinal Rule.”  Go Card.

 5.    Silverton Street

Hubby’s home town in Oregon, which is, according to him, the center of the universe.  ‘Nuff said.

We zipped off our suggestions to the town planner.  The next morning, we got the following verdict: “Juniper” and “Cardinal” already existed as street names.  “Story” was too similar to “Lory,” an already existing street name.  But “Yellow Wood” and “Silverton” were good possibilities.  He particularly liked “Yellow Wood” and the Robert Frost reference.

Hopefully the town selectmen will agree.  Our first venture into small town politics!

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Retreat and Planning

Hubby and I are house-sitting over the weekend for some family friends who are visiting China for a month.  These friends live in a beautiful home in Goffstown, NH, about 40 minutes away from my parents.  The house is recently remodeled with high ceilings and large open rooms.  It’s not a tremendously huge house (about 3000 sq. ft.), but it’s laid out well and there are many built-ins, so it’s architecturally comfortable, yet interesting.  Hubby has always liked this house and he’s very particular about his architecture.  Bad architecture makes him feel viscerally ill.

Hubby has spent most of the weekend trying different scenarios in his head to maximize energy efficiency for our new house.  He’s talking geo-thermal and solar (which doesn’t seem like it will work well in the winter) and looking at all the tax incentives we would get for installing efficient green energy systems.  New Hampshire is not like the West in that green energy is relatively untapped here.  Hubby could be blazing a new trail for the region.  We were told, however, that our new town has a reputation of being somewhat more “hick” than surrounding towns; our neighbors may see us as crazy hippie Californians and may not take too kindly to us trying to combat global climate issues.  Change is scary for some.

I have learned to let Hubby think and dream his ideas, no matter how wild and impractical they may seem.  At some point, he will settle on an appropriate, cost effective course of action, which may or may not involve geo-thermal heating and solar panels.  I do sometimes have to remind him that he will probably be less motivated to undertake these house projects once the baby arrives and his parents are not nearby to help him with major construction like moving the furnace and renovating the duct work, for example.

We will be house-sitting in Goffstown for the next few weekends until we close on our house.  We’ll  see what Hubby comes us with in the meantime.

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House Inspection

House inspection yesterday.  It looks like things are in good shape.  The furnace and hot water heater are 26 years old, still working, but will probably need to be replaced soon.  This makes Hubby happy because his brain is clicking on about high-efficiency heating and better insulation.  Projects are good, but can we get them done before the baby arrives and winter hits?

Here are a few photos:


Long driveway.  House is set back from the street.

Long driveway. House is set back from the street.

Living Room

Living Room


Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

2nd Bedroom, aka Baby's room

2nd Bedroom, aka Baby's room


Kitchen.  There's a wine cooler!

Kitchen. There's a wine cooler!


Dining area

Dining area


View of guest suite

View of guest suite




Plus 8 acres of forest

Plus 8 acres of forest

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We had our first appointment with our new OB/GYN here in New Hampshire.  We are currently 19 weeks along.  They did an extensive fetal survey with the ultrasound.  Baby is 12 cm from head to rump and approximately 9 ounces.  The ultrasound showed the baby moving quite a bit, but I have yet to feel movement, unless I’m mistaking it for gas.  All tests show the baby is developing normally.  The doctor says I have the uterus of a 25-year-old.  

I tend to get a wee anxious between doctor’s visits, when I am reassured that the baby is doing fine.  I suppose that will change once I feel the baby moving–perhaps so much that the baby may keep me awake at night.  Hubby says I kick at night and maybe the baby will make me kick more.  Poor guy will never get any sleep.  We must buy a king-size bed.

We are almost half-way through our pregnancy and the reality of baby is starting to feel more real.  I’m very excited.  Hubby even more so.  Though I do wonder if I’ll be a good mother.  My family has a tendency towards helicopter parenting, which is not optimal.  We’re Chinese, you know.


Baby Bean at 19 weeks

Baby Bean at 19 weeks



Baby seems to have quite a prominent nose, which must be attributed to Hubby’s genes.  Hope Baby inherits my palate, though.

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