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Virtual Beer Festival, Mars, and Another Zoo!

My maternity leave continues to be a fulfilling time with little Aaron and the whole family. After a bit of a sleep regression last week, as he approaches three months old he seems to finally be sleeping for longer stretches (4-6 hours overnight, rather than 2!) and we’re hoping this continues. As a long time 9-10 hours of sleep per night person, getting 4-6 hours per night myself has been brutal, especially when it’s chopped into several segments. I’ve been drinking coffee every morning to get going, which is unusual for me.

It’s not all kids all the time here though! I signed up to participate in a virtual beer festival last weekend, Juicy Brews Saturday Morning. It was breakfast themed, so they sent some whole bean coffee, kids cereal (and color-changing spoon!), a stuffed toy, and a whole box full of breakfast-themed beers brewed specifically for the event.

The event itself was handled over a YouTube Live stream, with participants in chat and sharing photos on Twitter and Instagram, and check-ins on Untappd. They had a variety of panels and discussions, from coffee making to art labels on craft brews. For my part, I did the breakfast and loaded up the stream on the TV in the family room so I could keep an eye on it throughout the morning as I watched the kiddos. It wasn’t until lunch when MJ joined me that I finally had a single coffee stout. Still, it was fun, and it’s really been fun trying these wild beers this week. About half the beers are fruity sours, a quarter stouts, and the rest are an array of ales. Some are really odd, like the one that tasted like a juice smoothie, or one I had the other night that was essentially a banana and maple syrup milkshake with 8% alcohol content.

I’ve also been getting familiar with a MacBook Pro running OS X that we’ve been using for family stuff, including video calls and virtual events at the synagogue. I will never give up my Linux laptops, I’m open source to the bone, but it has been an interesting experience from a technical perspective. Most of my pain so far has been just how different it is for ordinary tasks, and the muscle memory of special keys not being where I expect. The tactile feel of the keyboard is nice though, and from a practical perspective, there is some proprietary software that’s required for virtual things that isn’t built for Linux, so using it for that has been necessary.

One thing we didn’t need it for though was watching the latest rover landing! That we just loaded up on YouTube on the Roku on the TV in our family room. I was particularly excited for Adam to see this one, because in addition to it being his first rover landing, it has his name on it!

In other “media” news, I mentioned in my last post that I’d brought back my Wallace and Gromit fan site. Unfortunately for my credit card, that has also sparked a renewed interest in Wallace and Gromit collectibles. I’m not regretting it though, I’m really happy with my recent purchases and am still looking forward to a few coming. It also caused me to start reading the book about Aardman that was published a few years ago. This in itself has turned into a mini film-festival for myself. As I read through the book, I watch the shorts they mention, take in an episode or two of one of each series they talk about, and I have a whole pile of feature films to re-watch. It’s been a delightful adventure which I plan on writing about over on the fan site when I’m done, since Aardman themselves have published a lot of the shorts I’ve been able to watch on YouTube.

This week we went to another zoo! This time we got tickets at the Oakland Zoo, which was a much easier drive than San Francisco (about 15 minutes from home, versus 45), and the shorter drive was quite welcome. We went in the afternoon, picked up one of their speciality Town Zoo beers (beer again? hah!) and had a wonderful time visiting the animals and soaking in the views of the bay. I’m really glad these outdoor venues are open again, and the reduced capacity really seems to be working, there are still a number of people there, but it’s relatively easy to keep a safe distance.

I mentioned a couple posts ago that I’ve been losing weight through diet changes and exercising. I didn’t mention just how successful I’ve been. At the height of my non-pregnancy weight around this time last year, I was 237 lbs. Today I’m 197. That’s 40 pounds!

Breastfeeding has been a key factor in this success, since it burns roughly 500 calories alone, so I can over-shoot my weight loss calorie goals by that much and still manage to lose weight. That means I’ve been able to keep having a beer with dinner a few times a week and enjoying my favorite foods in moderation, and ease more slowly into this diet change, while still maintaining momentum and that good feeling of watching the numbers on the scale go down. I’m also lucky that I haven’t been as hungry with baby #2. A major part of my weight gain that brought me to my top weight was how ravenous I always was when I was feeding kiddo #1. I’m not sure what’s different this time around, maybe my body knows what to expect.

The other part of my success really is concern about my health. As such, I’ve been paying very close to the sugar composition of the foods I eat, and even the ones I indulge in, and have started to be more strategic about when and how I enjoy them. Learning about all this has made all the difference. I also bought a simple Fitbit and have been tracking my steps again, aiming for 7500 per day, which is helped by daily walks with the boys. This is the part of my lifestyle changes that I’m most concerned about with my return to work next month. It’s easy to carve out 45 minutes to walk a couple miles today, but once I go back to work? I’m going to be tired. I will work to make it a priority though, staying active is so important for my health.