Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kaua'i: Part 4 - Kayaking, Mud, & Saying Goodbye

It's the last day of February and it's kind of hard to believe that we were in Kaua'i at the beginning of this month. So much has happened between now and then - the culture-shock of returning to work, Back Beat on Valentine's Day, and finding a new place. So, before March begins, I'm finishing up the Kaua'i series with a recap of Day 5: our kayaking and hiking adventure and some goodbye photos.

Originally, we wanted to join a kayak tour up the Wailua River, however, the tours booked up fast, so we opted to rent a kayak and do a self-guided tour to the Secret Falls. It was a sunny, windless day - perfect for outdoor activities, and the views from the river were gorgeous. Once we got going, we were happy that we went with the self-guided tour instead of a group. We got to paddle at our own pace, which turned out to be surprisingly fast considering one of us is pregnant, and the other one hasn't kayaked before. We didn't want to risk our phones, so the only camera we brought was a water camera. The quality was a little eh. Also, I suck at taking water camera pics:

Whoops, here's the only pic of Joe kayaking (now you see why he's our main photographer)
The View Paddling Up the Wailua River
The banks of the Wailua River are lined with trees, so every now and then we'd come across a giant leaf floating in the water. Then I would feel frenzied paddling on one side of the boat, the boat would nearly capsize, and suddenly Joe's paddle would be hovering near my head, with him shouting that he had a "present" for me. By the time we ended our kayaking journey, my feet were covered with a pile of giant, wet leaves that he had collected along the way. He's still sad that I left them in the kayak instead of bringing them home with us as souvenirs.

Every now and then, either in Joe's quest for leaves, or because we're just not excellent kayakers, we would veer toward the tree-lined river bank and have to overcompensate by frantically paddling toward the left. Whenever this happened, Joe would shout out in an Australian accent, "Aye, lads! Brace yourself for impact!"

After about two miles of paddling up stream, the river forked and we continued to the right, paddled a short distance through a narrow, tree-lined stream, to a little beach filled with kayaks. This is where the real fun began: hiking through mud. Joe asked the kayak rental employee if he could wear sandals on the hike and the employee laughed and said he would only come back with half a shoe because the trail is so muddy. So Joe wore his old sneakers, and I wore old hiking boots. In the beginning of the hike, it was mildly muddy/slippery, and as we were trying to step carefully through the mud several returning hikers, with mud-streaked faces, passed by laughing and said, "It only gets worse!" They weren't lying.

Before we even got to the real muddy part, we had to cross a stream, using a rope to steady ourselves:

The path continued upstream and this is where the terrain started getting very muddy. At first we tried to avoid the giant mud-puddles in the middle of the path, and stick to the sides, but eventually Joe realized that stepping directly in the sloppiest parts of the mud was actually less slippery, because your feet got suctioned to the ground. After nearly a mile of trekking through mud, and stopping to let children and old people pass us by, we came to a muddy hill that literally went straight up at a 90 degree angle and was about one or two stories high. So that was the end of the hike for me. Our end destination was supposed to be the Secret Falls, but I was not hauling my pregnant self up that hill, so we spent some time in the peaceful stream instead:

Despite not reaching the falls, I'd say our first joint kayaking adventure was a success, and I think I made it pretty far up that trail carrying Ezzy around in my uterus. We did come across one other brave lady on the muddy trail who put me to shame - she was carrying her baby in a strap-on carrier on her chest. Of course, it was at that moment that Joe slipped and nearly took down the pregnant lady and the new mother in one swoop. Luckily, we all came out unscathed. Then it was time to head back: exhausted, hungry, bug-bitten (Joe), and sunburned (me), but very happy overall.

The rest of our day was mellow, we ate, and then did one last photo shoot of "our beach."

It was such an amazing vacation. It's probably the only time we will visit Kauai, since there's still so much of the world to explore, but we could not have asked for more beautiful scenery or fun adventures. Other than the double rainbows (we saw surprising few rainbows for how often in rains in Kauai), we managed to cross everything off my Kauai wish list, and then some. To cap it all off, here are a few more collages of some of my favorite Kauai memories.
Ezzy in Kauai

Beautiful Kauai Scenery

Joemance, Kauai-style
Next time we go on vacation, Ezzy's going to be strapped to one of our chests, taking it all in - only nine weeks to go!

Kaua'i: Part 1 - Turbulence, Roosters, & a Luau
Kaua'i: Part 2 - Waterfalls, Whales, & Malasadas
Kaua'i: Part 3 - Snorkeling, Fern Grotto, & Robinson's Island

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spontaneous Date Night: Clippers vs. Bobcats

After yesterday's house-hunting blog the day took a turn for the better. First, we got some really good news: our application was accepted at one of the places we looked at! Trying to plan a nursery and buy stuff for the baby is hard when you don't know where you'll be living in a month, so that was a HUGE relief. Before we made a final decision we did some research on the crime in the area, and we decided it's perfect for us. There was almost no crime other than a bicycle theft. We compared that with where we currently live and there were several car burglaries in the last week alone. That's not too surprising, since my car got broken into while parked on the street last summer, but it definitely made us happy to be moving out of there asap.

Check out the new place:
Some things we're excited about at the new place:
1) It's a house, not an apartment - so no sharing walls/ceilings/floors.
2) It has two bedrooms and two full bathrooms, which is mandatory for us.
3) The kitchen is huge! Both of us can actually be in there at the same time. There's even room for a table in the kitchen, and we can still walk around.
4) Hardwood floors - no carpet at all. I think that makes cleaning so much easier (especially since we don't own a vacuum).
5) There's a nice walking path that circles a lake right down the street. We haven't actually seen it yet, but plan to check it out this weekend.
6) More space. We aren't exactly sure on the square footage, but it seems several hundred feet bigger than our soon-to-be old place. Now we have the new, welcome issue of finding furniture to fill up all that empty space. I see some thrift store/swap meet/garage sales in our future.
7) We won't need to use the freeways to get to work. And Joe can come visit us on lunch during my maternity leave.

As if having the house issue settled wasn't enough good news, the night got even better. Joe found really cheap tickets to the Clippers vs. Bobcats game that evening. We likely only have a few more months to take advantage of being able to do spontaneous date nights, so we nixed our original plans of gym and Dance Moms. After work we met with our new landlord and paid our deposit, then we headed straight to the Staples Center. Dinner was some typical game food: pizza & popcorn (zebra popcorn, to be precise - probably the most delicious popcorn ever). And then we watched the Clippers beat the Bobcats. Exciting! Watching an actual game as opposed to one on TV is so different. The time flew by, whereas I always feel like they take forever on TV. The crowd is so entertaining. The girl next to me was nearly hysterical every time #32 (as she called him) made a shot. Then there were all the kids dancing and hamming it up for the cameras. Ezzy felt like he was getting in on the fun too, dancing around on my bladder for most of the first half.


Earlier I was reading this blog about how planning dates gets so much harder after marriage, so I'm very thankful for all the fun activities Joe thinks up all on his own. That's how he earned his own special word: Joemance :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weekend Recap: House Hunt & Hiking

This weekend was dedicated to house-hunting, which meant spending the equivalent of one and a half work days doing the following: 1) making lists of places the met our criteria: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, no upstairs/downstairs neighbors; 2) making what felt like dozens of phone calls; 3) driving the least efficient, most zig-zaggy route possible to view five different places; 4) filling out three and a half applications (we're still working on the one that's approximately 4 pages long). Joe's mom was nice enough to come with us, and along the way we stopped off at Lemonade for some sustenance:

All that house-hunting effort, and we still don't know where we'll be living in a month. Thankfully Sunday was more play, less work. We started off with our new post-Hawaii Sunday ritual of breakfast at home and some lazy time, followed by a hike. This week we were exploring the Santa Monica Mountains, which turned out to cover a lot more area than we realized. According to the internet, one in seventeen Americans lives within a one hour drive of the Santa Monica Mountains. Since we were actually hoping to hike somewhere near Santa Monica, we chose the Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades.

Compared with Runyon Canyon, Will Rogers Park is a lot more scenic, less-crowded, has better parking (though they charge $12 in the lot, but there was plenty of street parking), the trail is wider, and because of the proximity to the ocean and shaded trails, it's a lot cooler. All in all, it was a great day with lots of photo ops:

Bee on a Flower - a brave shot for Joe

30 Weeks Pregnant - only 10 to go!!!
little boxes on a hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky...

Not sure what those rainbow streaks are, but I kinda like 'em


After the hike it was time to time to refuel at Greens Up. I think the last time I went there was after a workout with Joe that involved me running up a hill with weights in my back pack (pre-pregnancy). It's a build your own salad place and their serving sizes are HUGE. They give you an industrial-size mixing bowl full of all kinds of fresh, organic ingredients. Joe got the Thai salad with tofu, and I went for the spa salad, which has lots of fruits, spinach, almonds, and an apple dressing:

1. Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach, fruit salad, & veggie pigs in a blanket
2. Iced tea & strawberry lemonade at Greens Up
3. Giant salad at Greens Up
4. Menchie's Fro-Yo for dessert

Mmmm, getting hungry just looking at that. After that it was on to the second part of our new Sunday ritual: errands, chores, and relaxing. By the end of the day I was just under 15,000 steps. Joe says the steep parts of our hike really counted as 25 steps each though, so by his calculations I'm probably closer to 17,000 steps.

Monday, February 25, 2013

30 Weeks Bump Update + 2 Trimesters of Bump Pics

30 Weeks Pregnant at Inspiration Point (Will Rogers State Park)
Baby Ezra is about the size of a head of cabbage now - 15.7 inches long and almost 3 pounds!

Here's another fun pregnancy symptom/fact that points out this week: "Thanks to hormonal changes, your ligaments are more lax, so your joints are looser, which may also contribute to your balance being a bit off. Also, this relaxation of your ligaments can actually cause your feet to spread permanently, so you may have to invest in some new shoes in a bigger size." :( But I like my old shoes...

Total Weight Gain: Much MUCH more than Ezzy's 3 pounds.
Symptoms: I feel heavy and my organs feel squished. Also, I had a little bit of heartburn over the weekend plus some recurring knots in my back. Our dolphin back massager was one of the best investments ever:

Best Moment of the Week: We had several walking dates this past week - one at the Rose Bowl, and one at Will Rogers State Park. When so much of the rest of the world is dealing with snow and ice, it would be wrong not to take advantage of our 70 degree weather.
What We're Reading & Watching this Week: We are over Weeds. That show took a turn for the worse around the 3rd/4th season. The characters became really annoying and the plot was far-fetched and not remotely humorous. All the reviews we read said to get out now and not waste anymore time, so we moved on to the Walking Dead, which is amazing so far (we just started season 2).
Food Cravings: I had a peanut butter cup and ice cream craving (which was satisfied with Menchies fro-yo on Sunday), as well potatoes, and I got this Safeway brand "french toast" bread (bread with little pockets of maple syrup) that I used to make the coconut french toast last week. Lately I've just been eating it straight out of the bag and it's delicious.
Exercise: Still walking a lot.
What I Miss: Not being winded going up a small hill. I used to hike/walk stairs all the time and feel fine - now I feel like an 80 year old with asthma.
Happy or Moody? Happy & irritable - so I guess moody.
Movement: Yep, all the time. He's a little acrobat.
Looking Forward to: Finding somewhere to live. Fingers crossed!

And just for kicks, here's my progress pics from the first two trimesters:

I forgot what my abs looked like. I remember that in the first few months we would wonder why it was taking so long for my bump to grow. Now there's no doubt that Ezzy's in there and growing. Right around month 5 my stomach started growing exponentially - and it seems like every week it's noticeably bigger than the last.