25 March 2012

Austin Restaurant Week: Brunch at Cru

It's that time of year again where the prix fixe menus come out and my eating-at-home willpower all but disappears.  Yes, it's Austin Restaurant Week.  This time around, the beneficiary is Meals on Wheels and More.  The past two ARWs we went to Urban: An American Grill and McCormick & Schmick's for brunch.  Since these were both successful endeavors, we decided to try brunch again and we weren't disappointed.

This time it was a bit trickier with Ramona, but after asking twitter whether or not it was a good idea to bring a baby to a wine bar, I received the helpful tip to call the restaurant and ask.  Cru said that they totally encourage families to eat there, so Colby, Dustin, Ramona, and I made our way to the Domain.  We had a reservation for which we were almost 15 minutes late, but they seated us anyway.  It was such a nice day that we decided to eat outside.

Ramona had no preference between indoors and out.
Part of my motivation for brunch was to have my first alcoholic beverage in nearly 10 months.  I've always been a lightweight and taking a year-long hiatus from the booze didn't really help that.  Colby, Dustin, and I all ordered mimosas, which seemed on the strong side.  So strong, in fact, that I made it about 1/3 of the way through mine before I quit and gave it to Colby.  I could feel the Asian Glow coming on and I really didn't need to get drunk at brunch.

Party time!
The prix fixe menu included the cocktail, an entree, and a dessert.  I got the croque madame, Colby got the steak and eggs, and Dustin got the eggs benedict for our entrees.   The steak and eggs were excellent.  I had to fight Colby to get a bite.  My default argument for anything now is "I was in labor for 23 hours and she weight 8 lbs 9 oz".

The croque madam consisted of a croissant with smoked ham, gruyere cheese, and a bechemel sauce all topped with an egg.  Unfortunately the bechemel sauce had separated a bit, but considering the strong flavors of the gruyere and ham, it didn't really matter.  And adding an egg with a runny yolk to pretty much anything makes it more delicious.

Dustin got the eggs benedict, which he said that he liked.  Colby took the picture, which is why only part of it is pictured.

For the dessert course, Dustin and I both got berries and cream, which was served in a cookie-like tart shell.  I really really liked this.  The creme was actually a citrus mousse and it paired nicely with the blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry sauce.

Colby, being the chocolate-fan, ordered the molten lava cake with raspberry coulis and creme anglais.  He said that he liked it too.

23 March 2012

Terms of Service

A few people have pointed out that I don't post many pictures of Ramona on facebook and it's true.  I posted one phone picture from the hospital and then a few links to this blog and that's been it.  In terms of twitter, it's been random phone pictures, but nothing I really care about.  I've posted the most pictures here on the blog and there are reasons for all of this.

Interesting... tell me more.

Mostly, I'm writing here to say that we're not going to be posting pictures of Ramona on facebook.  Sure, the odd picture might end up on facebook, but I'm uncomfortable with their terms of service, terrible privacy practices, and for practical purposes, there's no point in buying a super fancy camera and having all the pictures compressed.  That's not to say that we don't want to share pictures of Ramona, but I'll do so here in this blog and also on a separate website on Shutterfly, here:

Shutterfly's terms of service aren't perfect either, but the site isn't used as a social media outlet in the same capacity.  Part of the reason for the separate site is to have a place to dump photos to the grandparents who understand the internet (so, mostly my dad) and to other interested parties (hi, Chris).  The other reason is that I'm not ready to declare this a mommy and food blog.  I'm toying with starting a separate one, but we'll see.

21 March 2012

Max's Wine Dive

For the past couple of years, Colby and I have been going to some pretty fancy (read: expensive) restaurants for my birthday/Valentine's Day.  This year, though, was destined to be a bit different.  It's not that I don't love a fancy restaurant, but with my inability to eat sushi, charcuterie, and a good rare steak at the time, the options were definitely narrowed and I didn't really have anything to wear.  Enter Max's Wine Dive.  We found a reservation on Open Table, which was nice, since we knew we wouldn't have to wait.  

The menu at Max's is divided into large plates, small plates, and seasonal small plates.  We decided on a small plate, a large plate, and a special large plate.  The small plates range in size from a tapas-sized serving to something that could easily be turned into a meal with a side salad and a glass of wine.

We started with the pan borracho, a savory bread pudding made with wine, chicken stock, prosciutto, and a ton of cheese.  It was delicious, if not crazy filling.  It's definitely on the large size and something that you should split amongst friends.

pan borracho

Since it was Valentine's Day, they had a special menu from which Colby ordered the venison meatloaf.  It was served with sweet potato fries and corn bread.  Colby really enjoyed it.  I thought that the fries and corn bread were really good, but I'm not a huge fan of venison.

Venison meatloaf+sweet potato fries, surprisingly hard to get a good picture of this
I ordered the fried chicken, which is Max's specialty dish.  Believe the hype.  It was awesome.  The chicken is soaked in buttermilk and jalapenos and you can taste the heat from the jalapenos.  The skin is crispy and not too greasy and the inside is tender and flavorful.  It was served with mashed potatoes and collard greens.  Those were probably some of the best collard greens I've ever had.  Then again, my experience with collard greens is limited, but they were definitely tasty and mashed potatoes are always delicious.

fried chicken+collard greens+mashed potatoes
We ended the meal with an apple and sweet potato crisp.  It was served with  vanilla bean whipped cream.  It was good, but not nearly as spectacular as the rest of the meal.  I really enjoyed this dinner and we'll definitely be back in the future since I can, you know, enjoy the wine side of the equation  now.

sweet potato and apple crisp

19 March 2012

Kome Part 1

Colby, Dustin (my brother-in-law), and I went here while I was still pregnant.  Most of what I had was pretty good, but I'd like to try it again a couple times before I give a final verdict since it doesn't seem fair to evaluate a sushi restaurant without having tried anything with raw fish in it.  Also, I really want to try their ramen.  So for now, here are some pictures with my sleep-deprived comments.

obligatory artsy shot of the restaurant's name

Pork and vegetable gyoza - $5
 The gyoza were tasty and I have nothing of merit to really say about them.
Swamp Roll - $7
 I found out the hard way that I'm not a huge fan of pickled okra in my sushi, but it was interesting.
Rock'n'roll - $7
I got this minus the sprouts, since those aren't pregnancy friendly.  Definitely my favorite.
Tarantula - $14 (I think)
 Dustin got this.  I think he liked it.
Endo in New York - $12
Colby got this.  He wasn't a huge fan, but I couldn't try it because there's actually raw fish in it.

15 March 2012

Right. Because this is a food blog and not a mommy blog...

...so here's a picture.  9 months is a long time to go without smoked salmon.

14 March 2012

Ramona: A labor of labor

...also love, but mostly 23 hours of labor.

Now that I've had a chance to do crazy things like take a shower and eat a complete meal, it seems like it's time to share the birth story.  This post is all baby, no food, and potentially gross depending on whether or not you tend to get the vapors about things that involve bodily functions.  (Interesting aside: apparently only women could get the vapors, because having a penis totally means that one is immune to hysteria. ::insert eye roll here::) Moving on... This is quite long and almost more for Colby and me so that we can remember this, but I wanted to share it here.

I suppose we should start this story in the beginning.  My blood pressure started to increase towards the end of the pregnancy.  My OB noted this and was mostly okay with what they were until it started to rise towards the 135/85 level.  Combined with the fact that I no longer had ankles, I had been getting headaches, and was excreting protein in my urine, it all pointed to pregnancy-induced hypertension.   This is just a fancy way of saying that I was getting pre-preeclampsia.  My pregnancy troubles actually began even earlier, with pregnancy-induced insulin resistance (aka pre-gestational diabetes).  Gestational diabetes and preeclampsia both warrant an early induction.  Even though I didn't technically have either one, my super anti-intervention OB team and I decided that my body was pretty much done with being pregnant and that I should be induced at some point during the  39th week.

We still wanted to do this as intervention-free as possible.  Colby and I had taken a Bradley Method course , which very strongly emphasizes natural birthing and the use of relaxation techniques instead of drugs and procedures that lead to unwanted outcomes like c-sections and vacuum extractions.  One of the least invasive ways to induce labor is to do a membrane sweep, which consists of a doctor inserting her finger in the cervix and lifting the amniotic sac off of the cervix.  This releases oxytocin, the multi-purpose hormone that helps the uterus to contract during labor.  I went in for a membrane sweep on Monday February 27.  My blood pressure was on the high side, though not technically at preeclampsia levels, so my doctor sent me to labor and delivery to be monitored and possibly induced right then.  Fortunately my blood pressure went down and I was sent home on orders of modified bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy.  The induction was scheduled for the next day for many reasons, not least of which naively included avoiding a leap year baby. 

those peaks on the bottom plot are contractions

After a rather sleepless night, we made it to the hospital at 6:30 the next morning and by 8:45 AM, the doctor broke my water in the hopes that it would jump start active labor and finish dilating and effacing my cervix.  After that, we ate breakfast and started walking the halls in hopes of making the contractions work better.  Every half hour, a nurse came in to monitor the fetus, my contractions, and my blood pressure.  Around noon or so, my contractions became a bit more regular and a lot more painful, but I was using the Bradley relaxation techniques to get through them.  Unfortunately, my blood pressure continued to rise, so I was confined to the room so as to not increase it.  After a couple hours, the contractions got much stronger and my ability to relax through them greatly declined as my blood pressure steadily rose.  It didn't help that my uterus hurt between contractions as well.  They checked my cervix again and I was only dilated to a 6 after hours of pain.  I kept scream-crying through the contractions for another hour or so when the doctor checked again and found that I was only dilated to a 7.  At that point, my blood pressure was in the 150/90 region and every time I had a contraction, it was worse.  We started to talk about pain management because every time I had a contraction, my blood pressure went scary high.

I opted to take fentanyl, a fast-acting narcotic that would "take the edge off" the contractions.  It definitely worked right away and my blood pressure stabilized.  The downside was that it only worked for about an hour before the painful contractions started up again.  Fortunately, it can be taken once an hour, so I got a second injection.  It turns out that repeated use of the drug makes it less effective, and this one only lasted about 30 minutes before the scream-crying started again.  At this point, Colby may or may not have been punched in the stomach for saying, "It's okay, you can do it" one too many times. *ahem*.  I got a third injection which worked for about 15 minutes and then when my blood pressure reached 175/115, the jig was over and we needed to do something a lot stronger for the blood pressure.

My doctor offered the option of magnesium or an epidural.  Magnesium works to regulate the blood pressure, though it offers nothing for pain. It also has a whole host of side effects and requires you to have a foley catheter inserted after birth in order to make sure it all gets excreted through the urine, or else other complications arise.  The epidural, aside from pain relief, also works to lower the blood pressure.  At many hospitals, the amount of medicine administered makes it so that the blood pressure drops too low or the mother can't effectively push through contractions.  This often leads to c-sections and is one of the biggest reasons why I didn't want one.  Also, the idea of someone dicking around in my spinal cord isn't the happiest idea ever and things like epidural headaches that last for weeks and paralysis aren't high on my list of things that I'm okay with.  However, something needed to be done about my blood pressure and pain relief was an added benefit.  The biggest immediate downside I faced was that I had to remain in the bed, though at that point, I couldn't really move anyway from all the pain.  They catheterized me, but took it out before the pushing stage.  The doctor made Colby sit down so he wouldn't faint.  Apparently some people pass out from watching.

After a couple hours, I started getting a headache and my nurse gave me some tylenol.  I could still tell when I was having contractions, but they were no longer painful.  My blood pressure was dropping and it seemed like things were going well, but I still wasn't dilating as quickly as they'd hoped, likely because my uterus was tired.  My biggest objection to pitocin is that it can make the contractions way more painful and that sometimes causes people to get epidurals.  Since I already had the epidural, I was on board with speeding things along because at that point, it was late and I still wanted to avoid the leap year baby.  Midnight passed and it seemed like that wasn't going to be an option.  The nurse took my temperature and saw that I had a mild fever.  Since I had taken tylenol earlier, it masked what was likely a higher fever from an infection called chorioamnionitis, which is an infection of the fetal membranes and often happens when your water has been broken for a long time.  It's easily taken care of with antibiotics, but the biggest risk is that it can be passed to the fetus.  Because of this two things needed to happen: after birth, the baby needed to be taken to the NICU for her own course of antibiotics and evaluation and I needed to progress to delivery soon or else we'd have to start talking about c-sections.

After upping the dosage on the pitocin (and the epidural), I was finally dilated to 9.5 cm, with an anterior lip, meaning that my cervix was unevenly thinned.  At this point, we were also afraid that she was going to come out "sunny side up", but the doctor I talked to the doctor about having her do some magic while I pushed and she agreed.  We wanted to try to get my cervix to fully dilate and make sure that the fetus wasn't under stress, which was starting to happen.  Around 6:30 AM (24 hours after I arrived at the hospital), I started pushing and managed to get my cervix ready and the baby turned.  They were a bit concerned because the fetal monitor showed that the heart rate was high, but then they realized that it was MY heart rate that they were monitoring, which was higher than the baby's.  I pushed for 30 minutes and at 7:00 AM, we welcomed Ramona Dolores into the world.  I was pretty dazed and was adamantly demanding to breastfeed, until someone pointed out that she was still attached, via umbilical cord, to the placenta and that it was still inside me.  Colby cut the cord, she was placed on my chest, and I tried to breastfeed and generally spend time with her for her first hour of life.  She was then taken to NICU to be evaluated and then administered antibiotics to ward off any infection she may have caught during labor.

in the NICU
Meanwhile, I knew that something was wrong with me.  It turns out that I began to get "red man syndrome" from the vancomycin they administered during labor for the infection.  Somehow, they gave it to me too quickly and my hands were burning and my face began to swell.  Eventually the swelling subsided, I was taken from the delivery room to the normal room and then FINALLY allowed into the NICU to see the baby.  I got to feed her for real this time and hold her while not in shock.  It was quite surreal.

In fact, the entire experience has been surreal.  I'm not sure if this is from all the postpartum hormones or the lack of sleep.  Things definitely haven't gone the way that I imagined they would, but we're adjusting and growing together.  The goal of the Bradley method is to have a healthy baby and a healthy mom and aside from some jaundice that lingered a bit longer than we would have liked and a contact rash from the tape they used to hold the epidural in place (seriously, what the hell?), that was our end result.  Thanks to everyone for the well wishes and support!

10 March 2012


There's a birth story in the works, but I wanted to share this first. Kimchi was very much confused at the sound and then smell emanating from Ramona's diaper, so she thought she'd investigate.

04 March 2012

Ramona, where have you been?

Ramona Dolores Hollek made her way into the world at 7:00 AM on February 29, 2012.  While nothing went according to the plan, the end result was a healthy baby and my favorite picture ever.