Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nathan joins the family

On November 11th, we were blessed with a healthy baby boy. Nathan Benjamin was born at 7:51am November 11th, at 7lbs 4oz and 19 1/2 inches.

It all started on the evening of the 10th. We went into the hospital once contractions were frequent enough. We weren't dilated very far, so they had us take a walk around the hospital for an hour to see if things progressed. Unfortunately there had been no change in that hour, so they sent us home around midnight. We returned about 4am and got checked in and prepared for delivery. Beth got set up with an IV of antibiotics and they started the epidural, which relived her pain and gave her a chance to take a short nap. When our doctor arrived an hour later she was already fully dilated. Water broke shortly thereafter and after only 35 minutes of pushing, our son was born early Wednesday morning. The whole process went smoothly and both mother and baby did very well.

We stayed in the hospital for two days. Nathan picked up nursing fairly quickly and was a good sleeper. We had visits from our immediate family and our pastor; just enough visits so we didn't feel overwhelmed. I spent the first night in the hospital. The pull out bed wasn't very comfortable, but it worked, and I was glad I could be there for his first night. For the second night, I went home and Nathan went to the nursery so mom could get some good sleep. He slept for two four-hour stretches and had to be woken up each time to feed. By Friday afternoon we were able to go home, and as soon as Nathan was asleep, so were we! Everything else could wait.

I've been fortunate enough to be able to spend the last two weeks off work, and be home to adjust to life as a new dad. Being that Beth and I have had plenty of exposure to babies, everything has pretty much matched our expectations. There have been plenty of diaper changes, late nights, and changes to how we spend our time. Overall, he's been a wonderful baby. He feeds a lot during the day, but usually manages to sleep 3 to 4 hours at a stretch at night, so we've been able to get enough sleep so far.

We're also getting him used to going different places and being around people. He's a good traveler, falling asleep quickly in his car seat. We've taken him to grandparents' houses, some shopping trips, and a couple doctor visits. He's very healthy and is gaining weight quickly. We've also enjoyed having occasional visitors here at the house, and some generous gifts of meals. We had his first holiday get-together for Thanksgiving at my folks' house, and tonight we'll take him out for our first big dinner at a restaurant for Beth's sister's birthday.

Although Nathan doesn't do much these days, it's been great having all this time to get to know him and figure out our new life with him. Some of the best times I've had have been him sleeping on my chest while we lay on the couch or recliner. The time has flown by already. Even though it's been a big change, at the same time it all feels normal and the way it should be. Monday I'll be returning to work. It will be nice to go back to my regular routine, and interesting to see how I'll have to adjust. I expect I'll be more tired, and miss my family, but it should be good back to supporting our family again.

We're looking forward to watching him grow and develop, and see how are lives change along the way. Welcome to the family, Nathan!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Homebrew Demo at Barley John's

Saturday gave us a day of beautiful weather and sunshine, perfect for cleaning up leaves, taking a walk, and getting stuff done. Throw in a 4 hour get-together over lunch to learn about brewing beer and call it a day.

The Minnesota Homebrewers Association hosted an event from 10am to 2pm on Saturday for National Teach-A-Friend-To-Homebrew Day, held at Barley John's Brewpub in New Brighton.

The event started with a toast to Jimmy Carter, who legalized home brewing in 1979. We raised glasses of Barley John's beer, and commenced brewing. They brewed three different beers, taught use "newbies" and got everyone involved in the process. I got to see how to brew from grain extracts, and saw some of the equipment and process used in all-grain brewing. To sweeten the pot (or brew kettle?), three brewing equipment kits were given away by Brew & Grow, Northern Brewer, and Midwest Supplies.

As somebody who's gotten started with wine & mead, and who knows a lot of beer brewers, I was curious. Plus I do enjoy a unique beer from time to time myself. This event let me learn more, meet some cool people, and see how it's done. I have to say I had a great time. I don't think I'm ready to join the club, but they do seem like a fun laid back group. I don't have the equipment or the time to take it up just yet. For now I'll stick with my wine & mead. Thank you to the MN Brewers for the afternoon of fun & learning, and the tasty burger from Barley Johns.

2009 Pumpkin Carving at the Workbench

This Halloween I decided to tackle pumpkin carving with some serious tools. None of the flimsy plastic tools for me this year. Tools I was familiar with, that could easily handle a little pumpkin flesh. While these are not necessarily child-safe, it was much easier for me to be creative this year with tools from the workbench.

I had more ambitious plans since we had three pumpkins to start with, but a few cold nights froze two of them, so they were no good for carving. But we still had one!

After a light pencil sketch on the pumpkin, the carving began with a utility knife. I set the blade to a shallow cutting depth, and cut an outline of the shapes to be shaved down. This was enough to pierce the skin to make room for the next tool, the chisel:

With the eyes & mouth chiseled down smooth, next came the spade bits for two uniform pupils in the eyes:

To tackle the detail on the teeth I used a mini hack saw, designed so the blade protrudes outward. This makes it easy to stab, and the serrated edge cuts much better than an ordinary kitchen knife. The narrow but flexible blade also works well turning corners as you cut. It almost seems safer than a long sharp blade to me. This made it easy to cut out the gaps between teeth, as well as cutouts in the eyes:

Finishing touches to the teeth were added with the utility knife. A sharp blade made for easy shaving & smoothing of the corners of the teeth:

The finished pumpkin: