Monday, August 24, 2015

It's a...

Since the day we announced our pregnancy people have had only a handful of questions; When are you due? How far along are you? and the biggie What are you hoping for? (um, a baby?)

The first two were easy to answer, the last got complicated because no matter how many times I professed that I wanted a healthy baby, people argued that I MUST have a preference (I don't think I ever have had a preference).

I of course have a few issues with this. First, anyone who has read my blog about the first trimester knows that I want nothing more than for this baby (regardless of gender) to be healthy. Secondly, if you know me slightly better, you know it took a little while to get pregnant so we are just extremely grateful to have a baby on the way. Period. And finally, if you know me very well, you know that I am a feminist. Meaning, I  advocate for equality between the sexes in terms of political, social and economic factors. It doesn't, by any means, mean I hate men or burn my bras (except that one that could milk a cow, it deserved it). In fact it is the opposite, I love men and women as amazing people who contribute differently to the world in beautifully profound ways and both should be recognized for their outstanding contributions. Put simply, I will always fight for equality for people as a whole. We ALL have so much to offer, why should we pretend that anyone is better than the anyone else?

So, you can understand how with my background and beliefs I honestly think we are blessed with either gender. I can also say, I have no intention of letting my child's gender determine how they are raised. I want to raise a well rounded child that can take care of themselves in the real world in various capacities. Change a tire, cook a gourmet meal, know what a Phillips is and mend a tear in their jeans. You could see how both my knowledge base and Andy's expertise can help develop these traits in a child? Again, regardless of gender.

So why find out the gender? Couple of reasons actually;

1. Name fight cut in half
2. Fun for shopping for clothes (the nursery will be neutral but the clothes don't have to be!)
3. Wanting to feel pregnant
4. Being able to answer that last question definitively so people don't insist I have a preference.

So, on our 4th wedding anniversary we held hands and cried tears of pure joy in what might have been the most special moment in our lives so far. We had our anatomy scan (a detailed look at baby) first thing in the morning, the tech took a billion photos of our strong healthy beautiful baby--a blessing in itself. Then at the very end she took that last photo to tell us gender.

Without further adieu, who is passing on their baby booties?


Lets all join in cheering for Baby Girl Pekema. She might take over the world; be warned.

These are my baby booties, crocheted for me at birth by my Great Grandmother "Granny Annie"

Mmmm, a doughnut the local bakery made for me. 

We found out her gender on our 4th wedding anniversary.

18 weeks exactly on our Anniversary

We can't wait to see her in these.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Just the Tip

Ever since buying the car, I have been annoyed by the exhaust tip.  It sticks out at a slightly odd angle and it has a straight cut on it.  It looks unfinished.  That had to change.
I started by removing the identification plaque, that was welded oddly close to the outlet.

I then used a rubber band to visualize the angle of cut I wanted and traced the line.

I tried a number of different tools for the cut, but eventually settled on the good old fashioned hack saw.  I didn't quite follow the line, but it came out great.
The last step was to drill a hole for the silencer to be secured to.

Weight Savings:  3 oz.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Underbody Aero Part 6 (of 5?)

Last time I wrote about underbody aerodynamics, I had finished my completely flat bottom on the Miata.  On the first long drive, a serious problem became very clear.  I was retaining A LOT of heat, and my puny NACA ducts were not able to cope.
I was driving down the freeway in the evening and the cabin was getting hotter and hotter.  When I finally parked, I felt the floor pan and it was too hot to keep my hand on.  I was worried the gas was going to boil in the tank.  Serious heat.  That spurred an emergency removal of the center section in the parking garage.  Not easy.

I took off all the belly pans for the big round of maintenance I did and they stayed off while I contemplated what I wanted to do to address the heat problem.
After staring at the underbody for a while, I decided I should make a heat shield to protect the body, driveline, and fuel tank from the exhaust heat, and hopefully reflect it downward.  I plan to also cut a bunch of vents in the belly pan to let the heat out.

The heat shield started with another scrap sheet of aluminum about 3' x 5'.  This was going to be a serious heat shield.  The front would go above the catalytic converter and the rear would extend past the differential.  It would put my pitiful sheet-metal skills to the test.

I needed to make a U-shaped channel in the sheet, with the front having a flat bottom to clear the cat and the rear being round to hug the exhaust pipe.  I used a precision guide to get the correct radius.

After some man-handling, I had the basic shape.

Now I had to bend the sides back down to create the mounting flanges.  I got two boards and clamped them where I wanted the bend.

With a little help from the trusty dead blow, the bend came out well.

The second bend went well too.  At this point I was very pleased with how things were going.  It looked shockingly professional and was going very smoothly.  Unfortunately this is the prettiest the heat shield ever looked, because to get it to fit required quite a bit of "massaging."

Next I removed the rear portion of the exhaust and a chassis brace.

These photos of the initial test fit should give you a better idea of what the heck I was doing.

 I was trying to avoid removing the center section of the exhaust, but I eventually had to come out.  I started with the puny existing heat shield for the cat.

As expected, the fasteners did not want to cooperate.The first one came out without too much of a fight, but it did destroy its threads.  The second was a bastard and forced me to work for it.

 After starting to unscrew, the bolt jammed and I sheared it off.

 Luckily, I was able to remove the remaining bit with a pair of Vise-Grips.
I don't think threads are supposed to look like that.  It could be a weird Japanese pitch.
 Remember my pretty metal work?

It didn't last.  This was after the first of about 36 adjustments.

I consoled myself by starting the car with the exhaust removed.  Don't worry about the videography; focus on the sound.  So refined!

More shaping and the addition of holes for the exhaust hangers.

Mounting holes added.

Stainless steel mounting hardware.

The new bolt for the exhaust was hitting the heat shield that surrounds the cat.

So I hacked off the offending piece.

This is that the final installation of the heat shield.

And here it is with everything reinstalled.  It's a thing of beauty.

After a lengthy hot-weather drive to Joshua Tree and back, it seems to be working.  The floor pan didn't heat up any perceptible amount.  Great success.

Monday, August 17, 2015

So, Nudist Colony?

I'm 17 weeks along (nearly halfway!) and it still feels like this pregnancy is all in my head. Everyone is lying and I'm just getting fat right? Between 18 and 20 weeks we will found out the gender (Get your bets in) and I should start feeling the baby move consistently. I am hoping that makes it all more real for me and I'm sure Andy is looking forward to that too. Don't worry, as soon as we know the gender we will update you guys; don't expect any talk of names though. Learning our child's gender will be the start of the EPIC BATTLE of selecting a name. This is the one time in our relationship where we just can't seem to agree. At all. So, if baby comes and there isn't a name I won't be surprised.

I think it will be my stomach entering the room first very soon.

I had a glimpse of the glorious second trimester energy, it was spectacular. I didn't need a nap, I was able to get a brisk walk done and even did all of my housework. I felt like myself again until the next day when my body was screaming at me to nap the day away. I obliged. 

Lets talk about that body for a minute. I lived in a world of beautiful oblivion before becoming pregnant. I thought the only real change was the belly. That is the only change I ever noticed when my friends were pregnant so therefore, that must be the case. It isn't. For me, my hips expanded a measurable distance (yes, already and yes, it is painful). It may not be noticeable but it means that my normal pre-pregnancy pants don't go over my hips at all anymore. I had to forget about using a belly band just to cover the zipper portion, some women can. I can't. I also curse at my various adorable normal pants that I may never wear again. Sometimes in the wind you can hear the faint screams of "no skinny bitches" echoing from my closet. I'll adjust.

Note: I have Never been, nor will I ever be a size 0.

On a serious note, we must discuss my bellybutton. I loved my pre-pregnancy button. It was so stinking cute. A perfect innie in my book and just the right shape. Now? My button is a totally weird, oversize mess. I am fairly certain that sucker is going to be an outie anytime. It is already showing signs, I just hope it recovers. Andy's contribution to this discussion? "Oh yeah, that thing is a goner".   
Here is a note to any future parents, women: if you are pregnant, get maternity clothes whenever you want. As early as you need to or as late as you want. Men: Encourage your lady to go shopping if you find them with their pants half pulled up sitting on the floor crying. It happens. Get their beautiful changing bodies to the store. Ladies, don't be afraid to be comfortable, maternity clothes have made me feel like myself again. There are absolutely affordable, cute, and comfortable maternity clothes that will fit you even if you are still on the smaller side. For me, because I'm super tall, I found the full panel (a stretchy bit that covers the belly) worked the best for me. They allow me to adjust length easily and keep my growing belly covered even when my shirts aren't quite long enough. Also, they seem to keep my shirts from riding up. I was able to find work pants at Motherhood Maternity and casual clothes at Old Navy. I didn't feel comfortable buying maternity clothes online because of my odd sizes but now that I've tried some on I am much more confident in my online shopping. I highly recommend seeing what works for you before hitting the web.

This is a full panel, so comfy. So hold my shirt downy. :)
At Motherhood Maternity they gave me this awesome gift bag of coupons and samples with my purchase; it included a Shutterfly coupon (YES!). Also, it had a few newborn disposable diapers and a Nuk pacifier. My first thought was, why are they giving me these? I'm serious. They are sitting on my desk right now looking at me and I still feel like they don't belong.

Please tell me I'll realize what is happening!!!

In summary, I will continue to hold off on joining a nudist colony for now. I am definitely feeling better and will pace myself getting back into my normal groove. And finally, my bump hits things because I'm not used to it sticking out so far. Another adjustment. I'm sensing a trend...

Until next time my lovelies. I'm off to eat. Again.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

One Down, Two to Go

As you may have heard, I am in the process of growing a human. I'll be 15 weeks tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to the "energy" and "cuteness" of the second trimester. Right now I'm just a tired, hot mess with frizzy, tropical storm hair. I guess that is partially due to this crazy weather, but with my new found excess of emotions, I'm blaming the baby; just don't mention this to him/her.
Forget makeup and bras they just aren't going to happen. Sorry.

Moving on. Since the first trimester is this cloaked-in-mystery time in a couples life, I figured I would treat everyone to a recap of the last 14 weeks.

It mostly consisted of one: find out about pregnancy and two: hold breath for 12-14 weeks.

I will indulge those who are a bit more curious. I asked as many women as I could before I got pregnant what it felt like to be pregnant. I never got a satisfactory answer and now I know why. I can honestly say, as a pregnant woman, I feel like myself but tired and nauseous. Also, I spend an unusual amount of time just trying to figure out how I actually feel. Is it gas? Am I nauseous or is that hunger? It is a strange feeling not understanding what my body is saying anymore. Luckily, the nauseous portion is starting to take a back seat and I'm understanding my body again (turns out, it's just always hunger).

When it comes to the spectrum of world's worst pregnancy to the easiest and best, I seem to fall somewhere in the middle but closer to the good end. Yes, I have been consistently nauseous but I've only lost my cookies a couple times, and only at night. That is a win in my book! So, for now (I have a whole lot of pregnancy left to go through) I am extremely grateful to be pregnant and feeling pretty darn good (and tired). I'm hoping that soon I will "feel pregnant," to have it hit me that we are about to have a child, or you know, be parents. I am also hoping that this "pregnant feeling" will be just like I always imagined. I'm sure you all think it's the same feeling, the uterus glowing with new life and I don't know...maybe a mythical unicorn horn? A girl can dream.

Thank you Scrubs for perfectly capturing how I see pregnancy.

Fun Fact: I had a 30 second panic attack as I sat at the dinner table feeling like a stuffed sausage, realizing this baby is only going to get bigger. I burst out saying "Oh God, where is it all going to go! There isn't any room left!!" I was convinced a human is not prepared to grow another human any bigger than the size of a large lemon (baby's current estimated size). But, after I said it I remembered my very beautiful, strong, mommy friend was in the process of giving birth to her second baby. Yup, people, she has done this twice!! I don't know how but I am starting to realize that my body is going to show me. Not going to lie--I'm a little afraid. Luckily I have an amazing circle of mommy friends that laugh mercilessly at me as they nod in agreements with my discomforts.

Another fun fact? All pregnancies are exactly the same - in only two ways. You grow a human and you birth a human. Every other aspect is vastly different from woman to woman. Even all of my blessed "easy pregnancy" moms have varied stories from start to finish. Want to hear some of my funky pregnancy stuff? Ok, here is the short list of stuff that stumped my Doc.

1. I started showing much earlier than I ever thought possible. At eight weeks my clothes stopped fitting, I only looked like I ate a large burrito but to me it felt immensely different from my everyday life. The bump wasn't bloat, it was there day and night and only got bigger. At 14 weeks, maternity pants became a must. I thought momentarily about joining a nudist colony; it still isn't entirely off the table.

2. I get a ridiculous twitch in my uterus. No matter how much water I chug or how many bananas I take down, I still get the twitch. It is a muscle spasm that is strong enough to make me jump. My Dr. has no idea why it happens. So, I just drink more water and lay down until it's over.

3. Lets talk TMI. At 10 weeks my boob sprung a leak. Why yes my dear friends, that IS early. Very early. My Dr. just laughed at me and said, "well, welcome to pregnancy." Oh, and no one told me so I'm going to tell you (if you aren't one of my well informed mommy friends) colostrum (early sort of breast milk) is OILY. It doesn't dry people! And it doesn't wash out. The stuff leaked through a bra and my tank top while at work. Luckily it didn't soak through my dress. Don't worry, it was funny and the next day I switched to soft stretchy forgiving maternity bras. No more leaks! That horrible bra that could milk a cow? I burned it.

I sprung a leak.
On the less hilarious, not so bright side, Andy and I learned why people wait to discuss their pregnancy until the end of their first trimester. This is not for the faint of heart.

The terrifying: After we found out about Baby P, we wanted to scream it from the rooftops. We let our parents in on the info right away but because the second line was so light we thought it best to tell siblings etc. after the Dr. confirmed the pregnancy. Then, at the delicate point of week five, we spent six hours in the emergency room with a "threatened miscarriage."  That scary, horrible name is what they title ANY woman that shows up with bleeding during pregnancy. I'm pretty sure that whole day was our worst nightmare. We completely lost the desire to tell anyone about the baby, and just wanted to sit quietly until the first trimester was over. Luckily, just past six weeks I went to my regular appointment and there was baby. Baby wasn't just growing, baby had a heart beat and was measuring a few days ahead. I have never been so happy. It was like finding out I was pregnant all over again and I could breathe a little. (Side note, the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically once you see the heartbeat)

 If you thought that was the worst of it, I'm sorry. It wasn't. I've really taken to napping after work and one dreamy afternoon I received a phone call from a mystery number. I assumed it was someone calling to tell me I won a cruise. Yay (sarcasm). I'm not sure why I answered the call but I did. It was a woman's voice, she said "You tested positive for cystic fibrosis; you are a carrier and this puts your baby at risk for having the disease." I immediately thought, oh, sorry lady, you have the wrong number. So, when she asked if I had any questions I said no, we hung up and I went back to sleep. Andy woke me up when he got home and then it all hit me. That was my Dr. and she was giving me the results of one of the many blood tests they ran. I told Andy what she said and again we were in a numb silence. A few days later I got a call from genetics to set up counseling and testing for Andy. They explained that if Andy wasn't a carrier then the baby wouldn't have the disease so Andy had a simple blood test and a few weeks later, the results were in. Andy and his super genes is NOT a carrier!!! Knowing our child won't have to live daily with such a horrible disease is such a relief. We still have to wait for the rest of the genetics tests to come back but having one ruled out is fantastic.

As I bid adieu to the first trimester I am awash with gratitude to have made it this far, excited for the weeks to come, and absolutely over the moon that I have so many wonderful people in my life to share this with. I do have a few final parting thoughts. First I would like to say to the aforementioned circle of mommy friends (or in other words, life warriors) please bestow your knowledge upon me. I am not worthy and mostly confused. Finally, that fun little bump of magic I have? Lets just say I love my belly rubbed, I always have and if my friends and family want to enjoy my glowing unicorn having bump, by all means my lovely people, enjoy! We'll see how I feel about strangers.