Thu Tu Koelling's Blog

Child Safety Seat at Packard Children’s Hospital

This week, my husband and I went to a car seat inspection at Packard Children’s Hospital. If you live near Stanford University and use a child car seat, it’s definitely worth making an appointment. At first I thought that it would be a quick appointment where they would show us how to install the car seat in the “best way.” It turned out that we learned different ways to install the seat, depending on circumstances, such as with or without LATCH or base. We also learned how to adjust and buckle the harness. Also, we learned how to put the car seat in and out the base without hurting our backs.

The amazing thing was that it was a free service. Appointment slots go pretty quickly so be sure to sign up a month before you need the appointment. If you are expecting, make the appointment for a month before the due date.

Gestational Diabetes: one of the best sucky things to have happened to me

Before I received my gestation diabetes diagnosis, I didn’t consider that I would fail the glucose tolerance test. I had passed every blood sugar/urine test that I had ever had.

When I found out that I had failed, I went through several emotions: shock, disbelief, denial. Even during the required nutrition education class I was bargaining, questioning the accuracy of the test as applied to Asians since much of research in America tended to be done on people of European descent.

Since I was not getting out of the diagnosis, I complied with the diet and took my blood sugar test four times a day. I had to log the results as well as what I ate. They provided a paper template but I dislike writing things down. I looked for an iOS app but none of them met my needs. I decided to create a Google Spreadsheet that had the same fields as the log they gave. To make it interesting, I added some statistics and charts.

My results were so good between the first and second meetings with my diabetes counselor that she said I could skip two or three days when it came to testing my fasting numbers. By that point I was hooked on data collection and did not want to mess up my charts by omitting data.

Although I got good numbers most of the time, I had bad numbers when I strayed too far from the rules of the diet. There was no denying that I had GD. I’m the kind of person who preferred to vary what I ate so I had to get creative to substitute foods for lower carb versions.

One of my favorite finds was almond milk. With cow’s milk, I did not like to drink it by itself; I would only drink it when it was part of a tasty cereal. I relished the taste of almond milk in a glass.

A couple of years ago, I thought a Vitamix would be nice to have, but I did not seriously look into buying it until the month before my due date. I was getting bored with the same old snacks, and believed that a Vitamix would encourage me to eat more fresh fruit. It was even better that it was my birthday and my husband offered to buy it as a gift (that we would share, of course). We have had it for a week but we have already made so many different and delicious things: various smoothies, soups, freshly ground wheat flour, slushies (that started out as ice-cream).

I have been less likely to feel tired, which I have noticed tended to happen after eating a lot of carbohydrates. My husband, who has been supporting me by participating in the diet, had made the same observation.

The GD diagnosis started out as terrible news but it really has encouraged me to eat healthier and I feel physically better in addition to knowing that I am avoiding having my baby suffer the effects of my potential to have high blood sugar. Although GD can result in bigger babies and changes in due date, my baby has been right on track and my OB said that the due date remained the same.

Name Change After Marriage

One of the many questions I had while preparing to get married was how long it would take to get my name changed. My driver license was going to require renewal this year so I figured I would get my name changed when I did the renewal. Since my wedding would be two weeks before the renewal due date, I was not sure if I could meet the deadline. It turned out that things worked out great.

The usual way of mailing in the marriage license could take a few weeks. I went to the County Clerk-Recorder in San Jose on Monday morning after the wedding and got a certified copy of my marriage certificate for $14. I thought that I would get the original in addition to that but it turned out not to be the case. My celebrant had highly recommended getting two copies to deal with the name changing process so I requested an additional copy.

I then headed to the Social Security Administration where I showed the proof of marriage and desired name change. I was told that I did not need the new SS card to show to the DMV because they would check electronically. However, he recommended waiting a day so that the computers would have time to get updated.

That worked out well because a few weeks earlier I had scheduled an appointment for the DMV for one day after because I did not know how long it would take at the SSA and I wanted to have time to spend with family members who would still be around on Monday.

The next day I went to my early morning appointment to the DMV. They were so fast at calling my number that I did not even finish filling out my form. The longest part of the visit was waiting in line to take a new photo. I was out of the DMV in 30 minutes. My sister in law from NYC was impressed that I returned so quickly from the appointment because they can’t make appointments at the DMV there.

Each office took about half an hour and no more than an hour to get things done.  I recommend checking the web sites of the respective agencies for any applications to fill out ahead of time. The DMV was the only office that did not have that option.

I would like to emphasize that this was my experience in Santa Clara County in California. Your experience might vary based on your location and its laws. I wanted to share what I learned to help out anyone else in my situation because I had trouble getting an answer to the question of how long it would take to get my name changed after getting married.

Kitty-Proofing the Bathroom

One of my cats, Mr. Knightley, likes to destroy toilet paper and eat plastic. That meant that I had to keep my bathroom door closed to keep him out of trouble. That was not great for ventilation after showers. For years, I looked for a solution that would protect the toilet paper and discourage him from eating the plastic lining of the trash can to no avail.

I have finally found two things that helped me to make it safe to keep the bathroom door unattended. I bought a toilet roll holder from Ikea that had a cover. It was a great find since every other solution I had seen cost much more than the $10 I paid for that one. It was very easy to install, requiring just two screws.

I found the trash can solution at Target. It is a round step can by simplehuman studio. The key feature is “smartbucket”, which prevents bag overhang. It was pricey for a trash can, but the peace of mind of mind that there is less plastic for my cat to find and eat makes it worth it. I am actually going to get another one today for another room in the apartment.

I hope that information helps someone who has a cat as mischievous as mine. :)

My New Bluetooth Headset: Discovery 925

I had had enough of my previous bluetooth headset. Once I got an awesome new phone, the old headset did not do it justice because I could not use it reliably.

Here were some of the pet peeves I had with my two-year-old headset:

  1. It was out of batteries when I needed to use it and did not have access to the charger
  2. The proprietary charger meant I had limited options when I needed to charge it
  3. I did not get enough notice before it ran out of batteries
  4. The over-the-ear design was a hassle if I wore glasses or had my hair styled in any way

Amazingly I was able to find a bluetooth headset that addressed my pet peeves. I have had my new headset, the Plantronics Discovery 925 for a few weeks now so I cannot remember exactly what brought it to my attention. Maybe it was because it was one of the newest models that Plantronics had. Nonetheless, here is how this headset is superior to the one it replaced:

  1. It came with a carrying case with a rechargable battery that charged the headset. I can recharge both when the headset is in the case. However, while I am out and about, the case comes in handy to charge headset.
  2. It used a standard micro USB charger. It came with two chargers… one for USB and one for wall charging. Since my Palm Pre also used micro USB for charging, it effectively tripled the chargers I had to available to charge either my phone or headset. That meant I could charge while I am at home or at work.
  3. There were two ways for me to find out when it was time to charge. If I hit the big button, it will blink an indicator and if the red light glowed, it was time to charge. While wearing the earpiece, an audible alert will bring attention to the need to charge.
  4. The elegant yet secure design did not have a loop to get in the way. This made it easier to insert into my ear and not have to struggle with my hair or ear.

I liked how it came in different colors instead of the usual black and gray. I decided to get gold because I liked the color and it was less obvious against my skin.

Plantronics listed the price at almost $150. I bought mine from for about half of that. I also got to use a gift certificate credit so that was awesome.

When I considered getting this headset, I envisioned the toughest use case would be my wedding day. My hair and makeup would be done. I didn’t want to run around holding a phone to my ear. This headset would answer the challenge because it would not touch my hair when it is in my ear. It would securely and comfortably enable me to do last minute communications. Plus, it does not look as ugly as most headsets tend to look. However, sometimes I would forget that I was wearing it so I hope that that will not happen during the walk down the aisle. :)

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