Tuesday, November 24.

T plus 4 days. Yep. Still pregnant. Actually slept well last night, well, after I fell asleep after four this morning (after having sushi at 2am and pineapple at 3am). We’re still solidly stuck in at base camp. Hoping desperately we don’t make it to our next sherpa visit on Thursday.

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Monday, November 23.

T plus 3 days. As much as I enjoy backrubs and hot chocolate at 3:30 in the morning, base camp would be a happier and more comfortable place if Epsilon would join us on the outside.

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Sunday, November 22.

T plus 2 days. Watching favorite movie last night didn’t inspire Epsilon, was hoping the “Flight of the Valkyries” scene of Apocalypse Now would have got her moving. Nope, she’s still as snug as a bug in a rug at base camp.

Epsilon

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Saturday, November 21.

T plus 1 day. Up late listening to foxes yelping and what I can only guess was a Lapwing calling right outside my window. Epsilon showing no signs of budging from base camp today. Hopefully the grey lifts before sundown for a vigorous constitutional down the wooded trail and back.

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Saturday, November 21.

T plus 1 day. It’s after midnight. I’m officially overdue despite my efforts to convince Epsilon otherwise.

Epsilon

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D-Day.

T = 0 days. Here we are, Epsilon and I are still hunkered down. Starting to lose track of days, it’s grey and dark again. Armed with fresh supplies, we may just camp out on the ball or take another nap.

log addendum: at least the sun made an appearance today.

Epsilon

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Thursday, November 19th.

T minus 1 day. Another grey day at base camp. Attacked in the night by a ravenous white ermine. Caught in the glow of my flashlight while pirating cheese. The Sherpa should arrive by noon. Hopefully we’ll make some progress on the ascent.

log addendum: Laying in supplies at base camp. Sherpa feels we may still be here a while. Conditions not favorable for ascent yet.

Epsilon

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Wednesday, November 18th.

T minus 2 days. Grey and windy day. Epsilon and I are still sat at base camp. Dreamt last night that Mark told me she arrived while I was sleeping. The Sherpa visits tomorrow, will the ascent be made possible?

Epsilon

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Tuesday, November 17th.

T minus 3 days. Still pregnant. Raspberry leaf tea supplies running low. Hope to reach summit by weeks end.

Epsilon

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39 Weeks!

Epsilon @ 39 weeks!Okay Epsilon! We’re starting to get really impatient waiting for you to make your debut, which will be any day now right?

Epsilon
Musings & adventures

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Full On Waddle Mode

It took me an hour to waddle to the post office and hardware store and back, normally it’s a 20 minute walk round trip. Looking forward to having my body back.

Epsilon

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The Lotus is a Family Car, Right?

It figures on the weekend where both cars are off the road, I need to make a trip to hospital. The Lotus was the easier of the two for Mark to fix. We captured the hilarity of a near full term pregnant woman entering an Elise.

Epsilon

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Status Update

Sometimes, a Facebook status update should really be turned into a blog post. Mark’s from tonight after we made multiple attempts to attend a friend’s Bonfire Night party for Guy Fawkes day:

“Our cars obviously wanted to stay home. In the pouring rain, our Smart developed a miss (when you only have 3cyl and 600cc to start with, it’s significant.) So we limped back home. Deb, a gamer, wanted to go. So she eased her way into the Lotus. I put the roof on… only to find that clutch pedal had gone all mushy. Roof back off. Hoist Deb out, and we’re in for the night.”

It is pretty comical for me to get into and out of the Lotus right now, think “shoe horned.” The only way I could get into and out of the car involved getting me in first, then putting the top on, then removing it again for the extraction process. I certainly was not up for trying our remaining mode of transport, the Super Blackbird motorcycle. But it would have been truly Denovichin’ showing up to a party, 38 weeks pregnant, in the Lotus and bottle of gin in hand.

Perfect timing, yes, for both of our cars to be off the road right now. Epsilon, don’t get any ideas and just stay put for a minute!

Epsilon
Musings & adventures

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Epsilon in Action

Epsilon looking like she’s going to burst forth Aliens-style from my belly. She takes my breath away at times when she’s this active.

Epsilon

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35 weeks 2 days

35 weeks 2 days

Due date is a month away now! I’m glad I went on maternity leave when I did. My sleep has been completely disrupted over the past six weeks or so and seemingly getting worse. I’m grateful for being able to just sleep in and take naps. I’ve been taking antenatal yoga and aquanatal classes, which are wonderful, particularly in the pool where the weightlessness gives my back a much needed break. I’ve been meeting up with the women from my NCT course and going to the NCT meetups (aka “Bumps and Babes”) which has been so helpful in meeting people and learning about all the local resources available to me. It won’t be so isolating when there is something going on everyday of the week where I can get out with her and see familiar faces.

We’re ready for you Epsilon!

Epsilon

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Pierogies

After the inspiration hit to make and freeze large quantities of pierogies this past week, I realized I had never actually recorded this recipe. The inspiration hit while I was tagging and labeling the photos from my baby shower, which my mother-in-law had made a batch of home made pierogies for part of the lite buffet. They were so good and I then realized it had been months since Mark and I had had any and we were over due to make some. The nature of the dish and the recipe lends itself to just making a lot and freezing batches.

Rolling out the doughFor the dough, generally use my usual fresh pasta recipe. Mark thought it tasted a little too strongly of olive oil, so for this batch we substituted with vegetable oil.

Pasta Dough

10 oz. flour (by weight)
3 eggs
1 oz. oil

Using a tsp cookie scoop for even fillingI combine these ingredients in my mixer and mix until they just come together in relatively smooth ball, it doesn’t take long at all. I then remove the dough onto a floured surface and gently finish the process until you’re left with a silky ball of dough. Again, this doesn’t take long. Cover in plastic wrap and let the dough rest while you take care of the potato filling.

Potato Filling

There is no great secret to this. Make a batch of mashed potatoes. Then add as much grated cheese as there are potatoes. This particular batch of cheesy potatoes we used two blocks of Red Leicester, one block Double Gloucester and one block of Mature Cheddar.

Over 70 pierogies made = well stocked freezerIt’s not an exact ratio. Keep adding cheese until it’s cheesy enough. Some like only a small amount of cheese (heathens), but we tend to go heavy on it. Longhorn style colby cheese was what we typically used in the US. And if you want a non-traditional pierogie… you can use just about any filling you’d like, from meat, to sauerkraut, to cottage cheese… whatever. I’ve never bothered experimenting… because the nostalgia factor is significant in my enjoyment of the pierogie, anything different is going to have a hard time being better.

Once you have the filling made it is time to roll out the dough. I use my old school hand cranked pasta machine. I divide the dough ball into four and take each portion down through the size thickness 8, 6, 4 and then 3. Lay the sheets of pasta on a lightly floured surface.

Cook until they floatDole out the cheesy potato filling. I use a 1 tsp cookie scoop to ensure even distribution of filling and ease of folding the tasty packages of dough. Space the dough balls an inch or two apart, leaving enough room to fold little packets. Slice the dough between the filling scoops and brush the edges with a little bit of milk, this help seal the dough when you fold it over and pinch the edges together. Any extra dough can be trimmed off and the pile of trimmings can then be re-rolled to a few more pierogies out of the dough.

This is the point you will want to freeze them. I divided them up into bags of 10 pierogies. They may be small, but they are deadly. Five pierogies is a sizable portion.

Toss in pan with carmelized onions and butter, enjoy!To cook and serve you will need to caramelize and onion in butter. Be sure to take the time to properly caramelize the onion, it is well worth it. The pierogies themselves are cooked in boiling water, toss them in and they are finished when they are all floating. I like to just give them a minute or so on the boil after they’ve reached the float. Once the onions are ready add one last pat of butter and add your drained pierogies and toss to generously coat in butter and onions. Enjoy immediately as a side or as we did, as the main meal!

Cooking

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Admin

One would hope, now that I’m on maternity leave that I’ll have time to catch up on the backlog of posts half written and photos to update. There may be a flurry of activity of back-dated entries, as is my custom, to have events chronicled by date in this blog. Which reminds me to spend time with Blurb putting together the latest book compilations of our blogs and photos before Epsilon arrives.

Admin
Book making

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VIP Opening of DC2 or where I met Prince William

Deb on the screen and in the "fishbowl" labI made HRH Prince William laugh. How you ask? I was approached by one of the Directors of the museum two weeks ago. My presence was being requested to man the SPA in the new Darwin Center for the VIP opening day, “are you available to work that day? We have some very important VIP’s coming and we would like you to be there.” Even though I would officially be on maternity leave, I would make an exception and come back for this. I didn’t know who I would being seeing that day, I was only told to provide a brief biography of myself and describe the work I would be doing. Later that week, the afternoon session of the VIP day was then referred to as “the Royal bit.” There were rehearsals and walk throughs scheduled and even a debriefing on Royal protocol followed by yet another run through. I was told the Prince would have three minutes scheduled at the SPA to talk to me. He would know information about me and was going to ask questions.

HRH Prince William opens the Darwin CenterI made HRH Prince William laugh. How you ask? It was with the answer to one of his questions. Having asked me how I liked being on display, I said it wasn’t so bad, especially when children ask questions. He then asked what sort of questions are asked and I was honest, the number one question when you’re sitting there poking pins through insects and surrounding them with brace pins is, “are you torturing them? are you hurting them?” and he laughed a genuine surprised sort of laugh and then asked about what sort of more serious questions are asked. To which I explained about amateurs and beginners looking for advice on collecting and preparation techniques. It was a fun experience.

I stayed in the SPA for the rest of the evening, entertaining questions from other VIP guests. These included Trustees of the museum and who had very different questions and concerns than what the public would ask. Certainly, the whole issue of, “You’re not going to get much actual work done in there with people interrupting you all the time,” seemed at the forefront of their minds. I also fielded many completely irrelevant questions such as, “Judging from your accent, you’re not from around here are you?” and of course, despite my trying to camouflage it, “So when’s the baby due? Are you having in it in the UK?”

Without the promised break in visitors, I was famished by the end and was hovered over the remaining hors d’oeuvres as the Director of the Museum, with tears of pride in his eyes, toasted everyone involved after the guests had left. Again, a fantastic way to spend one of my last days at work.

Museums
My life with bugs

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My Life With Bugs

Remember a few months back I posted about being filmed for an exhibit at the museum? Well, this is it! This short video is part of one of the exhibits, “Making It Part of the Collection” in the new Darwin Center which opens to the public this week. It airs outside the “SPA” (Specimen Preparation Area) a windowed lab where the public can interact with staff as they work. At the rate museums change exhibits, I’ll be there for quite some time and am glad to be a part of it :)

“Watch Deborah Denovich, scientific preparator at the Museum, as she demonstrates how beetle specimens are prepared before they can go into the collections.”

My life with bugs

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France: Canal du Midi

We’re off to France for a week of floating down the Canal du Midi between Toulouse and the Mediterranean with a couple of friends of ours! Epsilon is one well traveled fetus!

Travel
Travel: France

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Maternity Leave

British Natural History Museum during half termToday was my official last day of work before I start maternity leave. Although I will be returning on the 14th and 15th of this month to take part in opening events for the new Darwin Center. I’ve made an exception to be a part of the VIP and public openings and it should be a lot of fun. Just you wait to see the posts I make from that week! Hopefully soon the website will go live that also features the preparation video I star in that will be an exhibit in the Darwin Center for years to come. A fantastic way to show friends and family who will probably never make to the museum in person to see it and a sampling of the odd job I have.

I chose to start my maternity leave at the earliest date allowable, eleven weeks before my due week. High on the deciding factor: the three and a half hours of commuting a day. It’s already uncomfortable for me. But other factors contributed too.

It was a bittersweet day as I was tying up loose ends and cleaning up my work space. It really has been an amazing experience to be a part of this museum and this department. I’ve learned so much, met some truly remarkable people and hopefully have left a positive contribution in my wake. Even though today I knew it wasn’t going to be the last time I would be there, I was sad as I walked away from the building today. I hope to return, even for a brief stint, before we return to the US sometime next year.

This has been a big part of an exciting chapter in my life. But soon, the next chapter will begin and the plot is taking a wildly unexpected turn.

Epsilon
Moving Abroad
My life with bugs

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Pittsburgh and Baby Shower

We were in Pittsburgh for nine days where we saw our family and friends. More importantly, they all got to see me “in the family way.” It was a busy and hectic visit, but a good one. I’m in the last month I can fly, so we needed to get a visit in. The next time Pittsburgh sees us we’ll be a tiny family of three.

It certainly was weird to be in our home town and having to stay in a hotel. I’ve never been a guest in my own city before. Getting free upgrades to business class on both the outgoing and return flights was a huge bonus. I was worried I would be so uncomfortable flying at this point. But having seats that completely reclined to beds, real pillows, fillet mignon for dinner and so many other niceties went a long way. Epsilon’s first trans-Atlantic flights were done in style.

Cupcakes!  Chocolate brown and pink were the color theme of the day!I had a baby shower at my aunt’s and we now have so much stuff for Epsilon! Our flight returned this morning and already I have all of her gear unpacked, sorted and put away. I’ll get to the washing of her little clothes once I’m on Maternity Leave, which I gave my notice the week before we flew home to the Burgh to start in September.

Some nice family photos to be posted soon.

Epsilon
Hiking
Travel
Travel: United States

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France: Paris

Deb and Epsilon, 23 weeks, 5 days in the CatacombsWe are back from a mini-break to Paris. I do have to say that I particularly enjoyed the hassle free travel on the Eurostar. Posts and photos forthcoming! Here’s a teaser photo, me and Epsilon in the Paris Catacombs (23w, 5d).

Travel
Travel: France

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Paris: Sacre Couer to the Eiffel Tower

Today involved a bit of a whirlwind of sight seeing: Sacre Couer, the (albeit very short) funicular, Arc d’Triomphe, strolling along the Champs Elysee, purchasing an outfit for Epsilon from a shop along the Champs Elysee (have I mentioned how much more fun it is to clothes shop for Epsilon than it is for myself?), viewing impressionist art at the L’Orangerie, having a dinner cruise on the Seine, having fois gras for the first time and finally visiting the Eiffel Tower at night. This is a day better told in photos:

Deb and Epsilon with Sacre CoeurArc de TriompheMark, Deb and Epsilon on a boat cruise of the SieneMark, Deb and Epsilon with Eiffel Tower

Historic Sites & Monuments
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Travel: France

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France: Paris – Catacombs

Bones stacked in the CatacombsToday’s mission: we set out in search of the perfect baguette. We ended up doing pretty well on that front, it wasn’t perfect, but it was mighty tasty. As were the other pastries we sampled. We walked through Luxemburg park and enjoyed our food finds on our way to visit the Paris Catacombs. By far the coolest “touristy” thing we have ever done or visited. You start your way down a very long spiral staircase and hike through empty corridors for distance, long enough to start having you think, “where are the skeleton’s, there are supposed to be skeletons!” But once you come upon them, it is striking just how many bodies were moved into these passages. This is the underground network of caves and corridors from an old limestone quarry which is now home to millions of human remains. Millions.

Later in the day we finally met up with Ethan and Liz, had a lunch involving more crepes. We walked around the island where Notre Dame sits, visited the crypts and set out to find this Berthillion ice cream shop Liz remembered. The shop itself was closed, but many vendors in the area sold the rich dessert. Mark and I both opted for the “salted buttered caramel” flavor. It was almost a little too salty. I glad we spent most of the day walking, with a diet consisting mainly of pastries, crepes and ice cream for the day.

Dinner involved another hike but we were rewarded with good food for our efforts. We had several places in mind after searching menus online. But it turned out our top three picks were closed. Not just for the day or the evening, but they had signs posted that they were closed for the owner’s to go on holiday, for the month. It worked out in the end and I was able to practice some French, although my accent quickly gives me away and I am then spoken to in English.

Caves
Historic Sites & Monuments
Travel
Travel: France

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