31 December 2010

2010 Places

I slept in the following places in 2010:
Total states visited: 7
Total countries visited (but not slept in): 4 (Mexico, Belize, Honduras, British West Indies)

30 December 2010

Use it up . .

wear it out, make it do or do without. It's an L. family tradition, and it is one that I have adopted.

Which is why we had a toothbrush holder that looked like this for several months:
I dropped it on the tile floor of the bathroom long ago, and Eric glued it back together. It was only when I more recently dropped the soap dispenser on the floor and it shattered that we decided to go ahead and replace both the toothbrush holder and soap dispenser at the same time. The soap dispenser went into use immediately; the toothbrush holder was wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. I maybe should have taken and posted pictures of the replacements, but come on, they aren't that exciting. They are a toothbrush holder and a soap dispenser.

Now, if only I could find a way to drop the television so we could replace it with a fancy one...

23 December 2010

Where I've Been

Yes, I am still alive. My time also seems to be very consumed with a newborn. Who would have guessed? I have been wanting to post for a while, but what to write, what to write? I have this horrible fear that my blog, which has for the last three and a half years has been my place to express my thoughts on whatever I'd like, will become a mommy blog. I don't really have a problem with mommy blogs; I just don't want this one to be solely about the Mancub complete with pictures of every little thing he does and endless descriptions of his current habits (eating, sleeping, spitting up, dirtying diapers). Surely I can find more interesting things to say.

Only right now, not so much. My day consists of feeding, napping, cleaning up spit-up, changing diapers and making feeble attempts at keeping my flat liveable. Also, a lack of sleep makes it difficult for me to engage in any sort of political or philosophical discussion, despite the fact that I am still reading and listening to very interesting things.

In conclusion, I am still alive. I'm liking the mom thing, I just don't want to bore you out of your minds with descriptions of it. Or to bore you out of your minds with pictures, so here are just a few:

15 December 2010

A Little More than a Muffin Top

I think the word "awkward" gets thrown around far too casually. It's come to be used as a word to describe things that are not necessarily awkward but maybe are just plain strange or nerdy or something. So when I describe a situation as awkward, I really try to make sure that the situation was actually awkward.

On Friday night I went to the dinner portion Eric's work Christmas party. We stayed our first few post-hospital days with Eric's Grandma L., and she was very kind to tend the Mancub while I went to the dinner. I really wanted to go to the dinner because I hadn't yet met any of Eric's co-workers, and the dinner was being held at Tepanyaki, which is one of those Japanese grill restaurants like Benihana's where they grill your food right in front of you. These restaurants are on the pricey side, so I'd never been to one. The thought of missing out on such a free meal made me decide that I could pull myself together five days after giving birth to attend this function. I was (and am) still looking fairly pregnant at that point, but I did my hair and make-up and put on one of my nicer maternity outfits for the occasion.

As we waited for the employees and their dates to arrive, we all mingled and greeted each other. One of Eric's co-workers said to me, "So, are you so excited to have a baby?" I replied that I was very thrilled. The co-worker's date then said, "You should have told her you weren't pregnant, just to mess with her." To which I replied, "Oh, I'm not pregnant. I had a baby on Monday." I could see this dawning awareness on his face as he realized that he had just told me I looked pregnant, so I very quickly tried to remedy with, "It's okay. I totally still look pregnant. Easy mistake!" I'm not really sure if that actually made anything better.

The dinner was awesome, by the way.

Now enjoy some topically related Brian Regan (the whole thing is pretty funny, the related bit starts at 2:00):

13 December 2010

The Obligatory Birth Story

I have hemmed and hawed for longer than you can imagine about how much to write regarding the details of the Mancub's birth. I don't necessarily mind telling the world about my experience, but I also don't know how much people really want to know. I know that I really love to read about people's experiences, so I've ultimately included the sort of information that I would want to know, and I've left out details that I may wonder about but would never actually ask a person.

If you only want the watered down version, here it is: Epidurals are amazing.

I was admitted to the hospital for induction at about 7:45. By 8 my IV was going with pitocin (it is the synthetic version of oxytocin, which is what causes contractions). The nurse checked me, and I was about 1 cm. dilated and 90-95% effaced, like I had been for four weeks. I had hardly slept the night before, nervous both about my induction and my dad's heart surgery (which went great, by the way. He is doing well and on the mend.) Once the pitocin was going, I fell asleep and slept off and on for the next two hours. I could definitely feel the contractions, but they were no worse than they had been for the four or so weeks that I had been feeling them intermittently.

At about 10 my midwife arrived, checked me, found minimal progression and broke my water. During the next couple of hours my pain began to pick up, but I was able to handle it fairly well. I practiced my breathing techniques and tried to focus my attention on other things. I was checked at about 12, only to learn I was a mere 2.5 cm. dilated and 100% effaced.

For the next two hours the contractions intensified, and they came faster and faster, often only 30-45 seconds apart. I soon found that I was not dealing well with the pain, primarily because the contractions were coming so close together that I didn't have time to relax and regroup between contractions. I requested some pain medication and was given fentanyl via my IV. It started working very quickly and helped take the edge off the pain. It also made me fairly dizzy and extremely tired. Plus, it wore off very quickly. I was ready for another dose before I was allowed to have one. I started to try to walk through my contractions, but because I was on pitocin, I was basically tied to the monitors. I wouldn't have minded wandering around my room with the IV, but there wasn't a way for me to wander around with the heart rate and contraction monitors. Since I couldn't walk around, I tried just standing and swaying through contractions. Sometimes I would lean on Eric, and sometimes I would lean on the bed. My midwife brought me an exercise ball, but sitting was very uncomfortable for me.

I soon realized that standing was going to wear me out long before the real work of pushing would begin. I started to switch between sitting and standing, but this too was fairly exhausting. I got back in bed and proceeded to cry, primarily because I didn't know what to do. I knew I'd want an epidural at some point, but I was very worried I'd get it too soon, and it would slow things down, which would create a greater need for pitocin, which would then make me need a stronger epidural, which would then slow things down, etc. I think Eric really didn't know what to make of things at that point. I was having contractions so frequently that I didn't really have time to explain my concerns. I think he just thought I was in a lot of pain, which I was, but that wasn't really the source of my tears. I asked Eric for a blessing, and he gave me one.

I requested another dose of fentanyl, and as the nurse had warned, it wasn't as effective the second time. The next time she came in, I told her I wanted my epidural. I had no idea how much I had progressed, and I didn't really care anymore. The anesthesiologist was up in no time, and Eric took the chance to go get something to eat. I should make it clear that Eric is a fairly squeamish person, and he wasn't really looking forward to watching me go through the whole labor process with all its associated messes and pains. He had thus far done a great job. I really didn't mind that he was stepping out for the epidural. I wasn't the slightest bit worried about it, and I don't have anything close to an aversion to needles. They just don't bother me.

I had planned on telling the anesthesiologist that I wanted a very low-dose epidural, just to take the edge off the pain. I knew that epidurals came with these little buttons that you could push if you wanted to increase your dose, so I figured I'd start very low and work my way up, at my own pace, if I needed. But when the anesthesiologist was actually there and asked me if I had any questions, I told him I didn't, and he went to town. The whole thing went over without a hitch. When the epidural was in full-force, I couldn't feel a single thing. It dawned on me then that I should have told him to make it weak to start with, but it was too late.

The nurse checked me, and I was dilated 4.5 cm. It was roughly 2:30. I vaguely remember telling her rather enthusiastically that that cervical check (which I couldn't feel at all) was the best one ever. Then I fell asleep. At some point my nurse brought in a new nurse and told me that the new nurse would be taking care of me for the rest of the delivery. Mostly I just slept and slept. It was fantastic. I was going on only about 3 hours of sleep to begin with, and then the few hours that I had dealt with labor pains took a lot out of me. I was very glad to have a nap.

At about 4:30 I woke up, and my nurse came in and checked me again. She said, "You're not going to believe this, but you are dilated to a 9." She then told me she'd check with the midwife, but she'd probably be back in about an hour and pushing would commence. Eric and I started watching The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I bought for Eric for his birthday, and which has brought him hours and hours of viewing pleasure since that time.

As my nurse had told me, my midwife showed up about 5:30, and things were pretty much ready to go. I was given some instructions on how to push, and the work began. Only, it didn't feel like work at all because I couldn't feel anything. I was using a mirror, so I could see my progress, and I could see what my midwife was doing. She gave me lots of positive feedback and encouragement so even though I couldn't feel anything, I knew when I was doing things right. I pushed for about 50 minutes, and then I was finished. It was actually pretty easy, and not because I am awesome - just because epidurals are awesome.

I have to say that watching the head emerge was amazing. At first when the midwife pointed out that his head was visible, I wasn't sure that I was really seeing the head. I wondered if she could see something that I could not. Soon I could tell that it was his head, but it was such a strange version of a head, that it was still hard to believe. When his head actually came out, and there was a face on it, it finally dawned on me how real the whole experience was. Throughout the pushing phase I would look at Eric to see what he was looking at. He had expressed a bit of dismay that I wanted to use the mirror (I think because that meant he might actually have to see something), so I was curious as to whether he was watching me, glancing at the mirror, staring at a wall or what. It was really neat to look over at him right as the Mancub was born and see his expression.

When he was born, they placed him on my belly to clip the cord. We had already told them that Eric wasn't really keen to do that, and so I was caught off guard when they asked me if I wanted to. Had they told me in advance that they would offer, I would have taken them up on it, but at that precise moment it sort of freaked me out, and I let them do it.

I had stated in my preferences that I wanted them to lay the baby on my chest for skin-to-skin contact as soon as they had wiped him off a bit, but because there was concern that he may have breathed in some of his own fecal matter in utero, there was a special newborn team on hand who took him to a little corner of the room to observe him. They kept him over there for a long time watching him try to get his breathing under control while the midwife and nurse finished up the things they needed to do with me. They were very kind to be reassuring me that everything was fine with the baby, but to be honest, I wasn't worried. I knew that things could have been better, but I also knew that if there was anything serious going on they would have taken him out of the room altogether. The team decided to take him to the special care nursery to observe him for an hour, but before they took him, they let me hold him for about two minutes. It took about an hour for my nurse to finish things up with me, and we met Eric and the baby and the nursery nurse in the hallway and were transferred to our regular room.

The recovery has gone remarkably well, besides the hormonal fever that accompanied my milk coming in. I hadn't been warned that that could happen, so it sort of scared me when I became so ill the night I left the hospital. I was worried that I had some sort of infection, but when I called the midwife she knew without me telling her that my milk had come in. I have since taken my ibuprofen every eight hours, even when I haven't really been in any pain.

Overall, I've had a great experience. I was not thrilled to be induced, but things went swimmingly. I'm thrilled about my baby; I'm a stereotypical mother who thinks he is just perfect, and I shower him with cuddles, kisses and praise all the time, even when he is screaming about a diaper change or wanting a feed.

11 December 2010


The Mancub*:Born 6 Dec 2010 at 6:39 p.m.
7 lbs 4 oz
19.5 inches long

We're both doing great, and I hope to post more soon.

*Official blog nickname to be determined.

05 December 2010

Books for the Mancub (sort of)

It occurred to me several months ago that we would be buying a few Christmas gifts for a baby this year - our very own baby. As I thought about what to get the mancub, the practical side of me couldn't let go of the fact that this mancub will be less than a month old at Christmas and will primarily be interested in nursing, napping and being changed, not in Christmas presents. But the nurturing side of me wanted to make sure that we would have a story to tell the mancub about his first Christmas. Or at least in the future when he asked what he got for his first Christmas I would not have to reply, "Socks. Plus lots of attention from family members." I finally settled on buying him some books. Eric agreed.

Only, as we started shopping online for books, we quickly realized these books were only sort of for him. Eric immediately wanted to find good deals on any and all Bill Peet books. We ended up with:

I remembered a couple of books from my early childhood that I just adored, and I had to order them:

Plus, I've been wanting copies of Shel Silverstein's volumes of poems for ages. I did not order Where the Sidewalk Ends, but I did get these two:

It became even more evident to us when some of these books arrived and we sat on the floor poring over them that these books were for the mancub in name only. Eric and I are really looking forward to reading these books with him as he grows up, and we sure hope they become as much of a beloved memory of his childhood as they were in ours.

What favorite childhood books would you buy for yourself?

04 December 2010

Induction Schminduction

I did not get induced yesterday. When I called at 6:30 a.m. to find out what time I needed to come in, I was told that they already had had two emergency c-sections, plus a number of women who went into birth naturally, plus a few women ahead of me in the induction line. (I am at the bottom of the list until Monday, when I will be 41 weeks along, and thus "indicated" rather than "elective.") In other words, the labor and delivery ward was almost completely full, and they needed to save a couple of open rooms for the ladies who were bound to come in on their own that day. The lady, who had no sympathy for me whatsoever, told me to call back at 9. When I called at 9, I talked to a much more sympathetic lady who told me she was very sorry that I would have to wait until Monday to be induced. What she said was basically the same thing, but the way she said it made me feel so much better about the whole situation.

On the down-side, I was really looking forward to having my baby by now. My back is really bothering me, and I am anxious to get this baby out. On the up-side, I'm not actually looking forward to being induced. I'd much rather go into labor on my own, and this gives me a little more time to do so.

Plus, our company Christmas party was last night, and I totally would have missed it had I been induced yesterday.

Also, on Monday my dad is having triple bypass surgery, so if you are the praying sort, we'd both appreciate your prayers. It is a big day for our family.

01 December 2010

Christmas Carding

I decided many moons ago that this year Eric and I would be sending out Christmas cards. We have opted not to send birth announcements when the mancub gets here in part because I figured we can probably do a Christmas card every year, but we may not be able to do birth announcements for each kid. That may sound backwards since we will definitely have fewer kids than Christmases together, but I just anticipate that life with a newborn can get kind of crazy, and then all of a sudden you have a five-year-old you never announced to the world. But a Christmas card? Sure! And if we miss a year or two, no biggie. Most people will not notice, and those who do notice probably won't care. (You won't notice or care, will you?)

So you can probably imagine that when Shutterfly announced that they are giving out 50 free Christmas cards to anyone willing to blog about their excellent Christmas card collection, you can bet I jumped on the deal. If you are into sending out Christmas cards, you should do likewise.

I've used Shutterfly before - namely, to create a book about our near-year in New Zealand. We love that book, and we show it to just about anybody who is willing to look at it. And let's face it, most people who are invited to our apartment are polite enough to act at least a little interested in our book. (Thanks to those of you who have been coerced into looking through our New Zealand book.)

I'm a huge fan of Shutterfly calendars. Every year one of Eric's cousins makes a calendar for Grandma L. featuring the great-grandchildren. I'm thrilled that this year we will have a child of our very own featured in said calendar. Although, to be honest, we are BARELY meeting the deadline. (Look at all the problems your tardiness is causing, Mancub.)

I think the real deal for me, though, is the sheer quantity of Shutterfly Christmas card options. I am not artsy. Sadly, I do not do Photoshop, so the idea of mocking up my own card and having it printed is not really feasible. Fortunately, Shutterfly employs people who are good at such things, and there are a gazillion card options. I definitely prefer some over others, and that's the way it should be! Other people will prefer ones that I am not thrilled about, which is great because boy golly I'd be embarrassed if umpteen people sent out the exact same card as me. (Clearly, I have my priorities straight here.)

30 November 2010

A Post on Privacy

Every now and then I like to just throw out a few of my own privacy guidelines for my blog:
  • Please don't ever use my last name in your comments.
  • Please don't ever use my maiden name in your comments.
  • If you are referring to shared grandparents, please refer to them as I have in any given post - Grandpa and Grandma L., Grandpa K., Grandpa Van, Captain Jack, etc.
  • If you know what Eric and I are planning to name our child, please do not use this name (now or ever) in the comments. I plan on giving him a blog nickname, and right now I don't know what that is.
  • If you link to me, please just link to my first name or the name of my blog.
I hate to delete comments, and I like it when comments can go up in real time (as opposed to me having to moderate them). But I also like my privacy, and I don't want any creepy Internet stalkers to have an easy job locating me. I know that if a creepy Internet stalker really wanted to learn more about me, it wouldn't be that hard, but you know, I am going to make him/her work for it at least a little bit.

29 November 2010

40 Weeks

Last week I said that I just wanted to make it through Thanksgiving week, and I didn't really care when my baby got here because I was "feeling really good on a day to day basis." Everything changed this week. My back is killing me. I think it may be sciatica. I'm not really sure, and it doesn't particularly matter. Just know that there is pain. It started on Thursday and has really peaked yesterday and today, so I'm officially done with this whole pregnancy thing. Good thing my midwife said if I haven't had the baby by Wednesday we could schedule for an induction on Friday. I'll have a baby by this weekend. Huzzah!

(Don't let those fake-smiley-faced photos fool you. Standing makes me want to punch people, specifically the people who are making me stand.)

Also, a big shout-out to Megan for lending me her very nice maternity clothes. Seriously, most of the pictures of myself these last several weeks have featured her clothes, and I'm so appreciative of that!

24 November 2010

Soliciting Advice

This is the type of heater that we have. We haven't had to use these heaters yet, but I just turned one of them on tonight. Can anybody tell me anything about this kind of heater? I've never lived in a place with this kind of heater, and I want to know if they are likely to melt things placed to close to them or make fire hazards of things placed too close to them. When my mancub begins to crawl, what will be the best way for me to keep him from touching these things (if we are still using them by the time he starts crawling)?

And on a completely unrelated note - My hospital bag is pretty much packed. I based it on a list I received in my class, which seems to be pretty specific to the hospital where I will deliver. In reading various birth stories, I've discovered that there are a few items that are not on any sorts of list but that are good to bring. For instance, one friend mentioned taking her Boppy pillow with her. When I mentioned this to Eric's cousin, she said that was a very good idea because her arms really hurt after holding her baby so much in the hospital. So, what would you suggest (that isn't on the typical lists) that I take to the hospital?

23 November 2010

Rating Systems

When it comes to rating systems on things like GoodReads and Netflix, I am strictly by the book. Sometimes I wonder if other people are as well.

That is, when I decide to rate something, I hover over the stars before I select them to see what the website's definition of that number of stars is. (Above are the rating definitions used by GoodReads.) I rarely give any book five stars. Maybe that has to do with the same reasons I don't give out standing ovations. If you just throw out those sorts of compliments willy-nilly, they lose their meaning. When I finish a book and go on GoodReads to rate it, I really do stop to think about whether my like for it was just regular like or really like before I go clicking any stars. I know of one GoodReads friend who told me she was surprised by a rating I gave a book because she did not like that book, but then when she rated that book, she gave it four stars. I found it puzzling.

Netflix uses a five-star system, but their star ratings have different meanings. The options are "Hated it," "Didn't Like it," "Liked it," "Really Liked it," and "Loved it." I tend to really like Netflix ratings because they have a great algorithm for figuring out what other movies I might like. The only problem is coming at agreement with Eric about how we should jointly rate any film since obviously we share a Netflix account. Usually we are right on par with each other, but sometimes we are one star off, and there isn't an option for a half star.

Do you think much about the meanings of rating systems before you use them, or do you just select the star value that is most aesthetically pleasing?

22 November 2010

39 Weeks

There you have it, folks. One week from today is my official due date, and with Thanksgiving this Thursday, I figure we may as well wait until then. I've been 90-95% effaced and dilated to 1 centimeter for three weeks now. I'm excited to meet my kid, but I've sort of given up caring when he gets here. That may sound sort of mean, but I can't control when he gets here, and for the most part I'm feeling really good on a day to day basis, so whenever my uterus decides to kick him out is fine with me. And if it's November 29th or later, then that's all the better.

17 November 2010

Review: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Here's the premise: Can the author make enough money to survive doing unskilled jobs? It's an excellent premise, and for the most part I felt like Ehrenreich carried it out well and fairly. Even though she set rules for herself, like taking the highest paying job she was offered, and performing each job's tasks to the best of her ability, I felt like she was looking to fail. (Just to note, she worked as a waitress in Florida, as a maid and in a nursing home in Maine, and at a Wal-Mart in Minnesota.)

Don't get me wrong, Ehrenreich makes some very good points - like how difficult it is to get started from scratch. Many of the people she encounters live in crowded housing where they pay week-to-week rent rather than living in a small apartment. This is because they can't save enough money to make up the deposit and first month's rent required to live in an apartment. Because many of these people do not live in traditional apartments or houses, they don't have the cooking facilities necessary to eat good foods, so they survive on more costly convenience and fast foods. I think these are real, legitimate problems that people encounter, and working for minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage makes it nearly impossible for these people to rise above their lousy situations.

Ehrenreich makes excellent points about the ridiculous hiring processes for many of these sorts of jobs, and I think even makes some valid points about the uselessness of drug testing. (Don't tell my father-in-law I said that.) It's just that most drug tests are urine-based, which means they do not catch hard-core drugs, and they are easily cheated. While I disagree with her that subjecting an employee or prospective employee to a drug test is somehow degrading, I do agree that it doesn't matter a whole lot if your waitress, floor-mopper or clothes-folder is on drugs, as long as those drugs don't impair his/her ability to do his/her job. I mean, if we're talking about my doctor, I would like him/her to be drug and alcohol free while I'm being treated. But we're talking about people whose job failure is not really going to have a huge impact on anybody besides themselves.

Another good point is how expensive it is for these people to miss work when they are sick. First of all, they are hourly employees who do not have any sort of sick leave or compensation when they miss work. Second, if they have to go to a doctor, most of them have no health insurance and therefore completely lack the financial means to see a doctor - as if a missed day of work isn't enough of a financial burden. Not to mention the fact that many of these jobs are physically challenging and wear out the bodies of the people who perform them.

Where I feel that Ehrenreich really fails is in avoiding to point out the financial failures of her co-workers. For examples, she talks often of how difficult it is to get a smoking break, but never once mentions all the money these people could save by quitting smoking. She likewise mentions drinking on the weekends but fails to mention that water is pretty much free whereas alcoholic beverages are significantly more costly. She talks about the poor nutritional habits and fails to point out what cheap foods these people could buy that would be significantly more nutritious.

Listening to this book (I downloaded it as an audiobook) made me feel like I was watching a Michael Moore film - there are lots of good points, but because the opposing side is never addressed, and the author blatantly ignores her own argument's weaknesses, the overall work is only a small step above propaganda.

If you are looking for an opposing viewpoint, by all means, please go read Janssen's review, written in 2007. I remembered that she had read this book, and I was pretty sure that she had given it a favorable review, but I hadn't re-read her review until tonight. (I felt like I needed to make that clarification lest you think that I'm just trying to be disagreeable with my friend, which, yes, I am wont to do.)

16 November 2010

Adventures in Pregnancy

I know that when I don't put up a blog post for days at a time people probably start to wonder if I've had my baby. I have not.

I did, however, get to spend last night in the labor and delivery unit of the hospital where I plan to deliver. Only in my case, it is better called the "stave-off labor and delivery unit."

In short, I came down with some sort of bug that caused me to lose all my fluids. I couldn't even keep water down. It was really lovely. Earlier in the evening I had been walking in circles around my flat, hoping to walk the baby out. I wasn't feeling great, but I felt okay enough to walk around in circles. As the evening progressed I became worse and worse. Eventually my whole body started to ache, and I was having a whole bunch of non-painful contractions. When the nausea had first set in, I thought it might be a sign of labor because it isn't uncommon for women to become ill before they go into labor. But when my whole body ached and throbbed and I was having so many contractions that I could neither count nor time them, I called my midwife's office and the midwife on call told me to go to the hospital. (It's important to note that these contractions were not painful - just abundant. I was having them so frequently that I wouldn't even notice I was having one until I put my hand on my belly. If my nausea had allowed me to fall asleep, I would have slept right through the contractions.)

And so, at 1 a.m. I was admitted to the hospital, given three bags of fluids and some anti-nausea medicine. The contractions began slowing down within just a couple of minutes of being hooked up to the I.V., and by 5 a.m. I was sent home.

I am fine. I am still a little achey in general, but that is just because of the little bug I have. I've been keeping food and drinks down today, and I intend to spend all day in bed fretting about all the work I'm not getting done. Also napping. And reading. And lamenting the fact that I will not have the energy to spend my evening walking this baby out. (I really, really, really, really, really want him to come this week so he doesn't have a Thanksgiving birthday. Overall, I feel very good and could keep doing this pregnancy thing for a few more weeks, so my wanting to have him this week is all for HIM, not for me, just to clarify.)

10 November 2010

Convenience Foods

I was chatting with one of Eric's aunts a few weeks ago about groceries, cooking, grocery budgets and the like. She doesn't have any kids at home these days, and she and her husband both work full time. Back when her household consisted of four sons, three of which were teenagers at the same time, she kept her grocery budget impressively low. Now that she is older she readily admits that she and her husband eat a lot of convenience foods.

I told her that we eat a lot of convenience foods too, only ours our peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Or peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Also baked potatoes, bagels with cream cheese, scrambled eggs, various fruits, and occasionally even pasta.

So what are your convenience foods? And I'm not talking 20-30 minute meals; I mean 5-10 minutes meals. Do you buy frozen, pre-made meals? Canned soups and stews? Chinese take-out or fast-foods?

08 November 2010

37 Weeks

I feel very fortunate that I am just now beginning to have the "Get this baby out of me!" feelings. Really, to have made it to 37 weeks without that sentiment, I feel, is pretty lucky. And to be fair, most of the time I feel really good. I've had a bit of swelling in my ankles the last few days which has been more depressing than anything else. I've spent a lot of time staring at my once-cute little ankles and wondering whose ankles they'd been replaced with. I know, my life is very hard.

05 November 2010

Grandpa K.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Eric's Grandpa K. was a well-known OB-GYN in the area for many years. His picture is even up (twice!) in the hospital where I am going to deliver, so when Eric and I took our birthing classes and got a tour of the hospital, we stopped to take pictures of Grandpa's pictures.

The pictures aren't stellar because they were taken with Eric's phone. Plus the one photo has that really terrible glare. Not to mention that I was looking ESPECIALLY awesome that Saturday. We'll have to be sure we get some pictures before we leave the hospital with the mancub some time in the next month or so.

03 November 2010

Fatty Dairy Products

Eric and I fancy ourselves fairly healthy when it comes to our eating habits. One thing we try to do is figure out which foods are worth buying low-fat or no-fat and which foods need to be the real thing. We've found that we can tolerate and even like quite a few low-fat and no-fat dairy products.

We drink 1% milk. I just can't handle skim; it totally grosses me out. I prefer fattier milk, but I quite like 1%, and it is cheaper than the milk with the higher fat content.

We buy fat-free or low-fat sour cream, depending on the expiration dates. (Usually the fat-free sour cream expires a couple of days after our shopping trip, so we only buy it if we know we will finish it in time.) To be honest, full-fat sour cream is better than the low-fat and fat-free varieties. It is thicker and has a better texture. But, we're not eating plain sour cream by the spoonful. We mix our sour cream in with other things and use it as a topping where all that really matters is the flavor. For us, the low-fat and fat-free options are entirely doable.

We bought fat free cream cheese a few weeks ago, and it was terrible. I had some on my bagel and texted Eric telling him how bad it was. That night he tried some on his bagel and said he would prefer to have a plain bagel over that stuff. It basically had no flavor at all. We were unimpressed. However, we had been (and went back to) buying Neufchatel cheese. It is basically the same as cream cheese, but it has one third less fat. I highly recommend it. It tastes great and spreads easily, and it's less fat. Winwinwin.

What food products do you buy that are the low-fat or no-fat varieties? Which products would you never dare with the healthier options?

01 November 2010

36 Weeks

I'm probably going to have a baby this month. I know that you may be thinking, "Sherry, your due date is November 29, you could very well go over and not have your baby this month." And until Friday I would have agreed with you. In fact, until Friday when people asked me when I was due, I would either say, "around Thanksgiving" or "roughly the beginning of December." Because I like to be realistic. And realistically, this baby could come in December instead of November.

On Friday I had an appointment with my midwife, and she told me the baby had dropped and that he was very low indeed. And that my cervix has started thinning. (Oh, hi, you just read about my cervix. Sorry if you found that disturbing. You may have to get used to such topics around these parts.) So the ball is rolling. And to be fair, this ball could be rolling down a very gentle incline - meaning the he'll arrive close to the due date after all. On the other hand, my midwife also told me that it was VERY unlikely I'd go past my due date. So there you go. The baby is not going to stay in there forever.

31 October 2010

Happy Halloween!

I think I was a hippopotamus ballerina for like three years. I can't remember how long Steven was Raphael the Ninja Turtle.

As usual, I have no costume this year. I don't really do costumes. They are not my thing. I think Halloween is a kid's holiday, and I never have a reason to dress up. Plus I'm too lazy to bother. It was so much easier when my mom just went a found a costume for me.

30 October 2010

Real Estate Photos

Eric and I are shopping for a house. That is, we are saving our money and occasionally will search the interwebs for houses so we have an idea of prices for different areas and sizes of houses and such things. We anticipate being able to actually buy a house within the year, but we are not gung-ho searching yet. One thing that completely befuddles me are the photos people post of their homes.

Folks, I get that your home is not spotless all the time. (Neither is mine.) I get that you maybe are not a professional photographer. (Neither am I.) I get that you are maybe not particularly good at decorating. (Neither am I.) What I don't get is why some people are completely incapable of cleaning up a room, even a little bit, before they post photos of said room on the Internet. Aren't you trying to impress me? The cluttered counters, toys all over the floor, vacuum in the middle of the living room and pile of clothes heaped casually in a corner do not impress me. They make me think you are maybe not savvy on how to market a house. But really? Isn't it common knowledge to make something look nice if you are trying to sell it? Look at some of the photos:

I mean, really. Is it that hard to just clear the clutter out of the area you are about to photograph? I'm not even saying you have to actually clean! Just move the stuff out of the way, snap a photo, and put it all right back where it probably doesn't belong anyhow. And the thing is, a lot of times the things that make the photos look bad really could be easily remedied and would make the rooms look so much more appealing!

25 October 2010

35 Weeks

In case you were wondering, yes, this is how I actually looked today - in real life. We stayed the night at Eric's parents' house on Friday, and it seems as though I left my make-up there. Plus my morning routine currently consists of:
  1. Rolling out of bed.
  2. High-tailing it to the bathroom.
  3. Brushing my teeth.
  4. Brushing my hair.
  5. Finding something to eat.
  6. Walking to work.
So, I'm basically a fashion model every day. It's awesome.

24 October 2010

Great Pumpkin Cruise of 2010

I've written before about how much fun Eric is. We usually say that he is a little boy inside. In fact, this summer at the smaller L. family reunion, each family group was asked to bring an activity for everyone to enjoy. Eric brought water balloon launchers, and it was pretty awesome. While he was filling up over a hundred water balloons, his fingers started to get sore. He came into the living room of the condo where I was hanging out with his dad, his brother and a brother-in-law, and said, "Anyone who has a little boy inside of them should come help fill up water balloons." I replied, "I literally have one inside of me." But that is really just a tangent leading up to this year's Great Pumpkin Cruise.

I wrote a bit about the Great Pumpkin Cruises last year. This year we did it in three rounds - last Friday with Eric's friends, this past Friday with my friends, and Saturday with a huge flotilla of Eric's family members, plus a few extras. We had 11 boats and 31 people on the river. (Technically two of the people had to get off the river due to a screaming toddler. We were bummed the mom couldn't enjoy the trip, but we all appreciated the lack of unhappy toddler. Hopefully he'll be able to enjoy it next year!) There were some really fantastically decorated pumpkins, nobody tipped, and only a few canoes couldn't go in a straight line. We had a few other people who were planning on coming but bailed because of the impending nasty weather. The weather ended up being perfect, and I'm pretty sure that everyone who came thought it was worth their time.

Eric's hoping for a Christmas cruise this year, with battery-operated Christmas lights instead of jack-o-lanterns. I'm pretty sure it will be awesome, but I'm going to have a tiny baby, so I'll miss that adventure.

17 October 2010

Choosing a Medical Practitioner

Throughout my pregnancy, I've had several people ask me why I opted to go with a midwife. In short, my living in New Zealand for a year was the real instigator. Pretty much all women have midwives there. The midwives are certified nurses who specialize in midwifery. They deliver in hospitals, and if there are any sorts of complications or problems, the midwives transfer their patients to an OB. (At least that was my understanding.) I was visiting my friend, Makereta, on a couple of occasions when her midwife came for a visit. I was impressed with the level of care Makereta received and with the friendly nature of the visits.

Somewhere along the way I started considering going with a midwife when I returned to the States. I wanted to be sure I found a Certified Nurse Midwife, and not some hocus-pocus-get-out-the-shoelaces-and-boil-some-water sort of midwife. I learned that in the state of Utah CNMs are allowed to deliver in hospitals. This was important to me because although the risks of delivering outside of a hospitals are generally fairly low, it is not something that I felt comfortable with.

When I learned I was pregnant, I looked for a CNM located within a few miles of my apartment who was also covered with my insurance. I only found one practice, and I decided to give them a shot. When I called, I just asked the secretary to set me up with whoever was available. Yes, I was nervous. What if I didn't like her? What if she would want me to go all-natural when I didn't want that? At some point I realized that if I didn't like her I wouldn't have to see her ever again - I could just choose another practitioner. Easy! Fortunately, I loved my midwife from my first appointment. I feel really confident with her, and I have a good relationship with her. I can tell that she loves what she does, and that makes me more confident in her too.

When some of Eric's aunts (Grandpa K.'s daughters) asked Eric why I opted for a midwife, he told them it was because doctors aren't as good as they used to be. Grandpa K. was an OB/GYN, and a very prominent one in the Salt Lake Valley for many, many, many years. I have been with him before when patients have come up to him and expressed their thanks for saving their lives or saving the lives of their wives and/or children. If Grandpa K. could deliver my babies, I would definitely let him. But he is 91. He retired some years ago, and I don't actually think he is very interested in delivering any more babies, even if they are his great-grandchildren. I think that it has become very challenging for patients to find medical practitioners who are as thoughtful and loving as Grandpa K., and I think that the bureaucracy of the medical profession has made it very hard for medical professionals to be as thoughtful and loving as Grandpa K.

While the personal care I receive from my midwife is a large part of the reason I decided to go with her, there was also a great deal of practicality in the decision. Midwives are cheaper than doctors, and I don't really need a doctor. If any aspect of my pregnancy were high-risk, I'd certainly go see a doctor, but I don't really need one. Truth be told, I see our medical industry in the U.S. gradually turning toward qualified medical professionals who are NOT doctors to handle routine medical care. I just happen to be on the beginning of that curve.

With all that said, I, personally, did not select a midwife because I want an all-natural birth. I am counting on that epidural. I did not choose a midwife because I want to have my baby at home. As I mentioned, that thought sort of freaks me out. I did not opt to go with a midwife because I would have a better chance of her delivering me on the big day; that turned out to be a bonus. (With only four women in the practice, I have a better shot than if I went through a traditional OB/GYN practice which usually has several more practitioners.)

And there you have it. You don't have to agree with my decision, and that's fine. It was mine to make. Having had no experience with birthing a baby, I can't really say that a midwife is better than an OB/GYN. (And even if I did have experience, that evidence would be anecdotal rather than empirical, so I wouldn't base all your decisions on it anyhow.) I think in the end it won't matter a whole lot, but this is the decision that I feel comfortable with.

13 October 2010

Two Financial Books

I just finished reading Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. I am nearly finished with Fight for Your Money by David Bach. Even though I am not finished with the latter, I feel that I've read enough to write what I think of it.

First of all, I would definitely say that I recommend both of these books over Rich Dad Poor Dad. I found that the overall principles, particularly in Your Money or Your Life meshed much better with my overall philosophy on life.

Your Money or Your Life is a self-help book. It takes you through a series of steps (which, admittedly, I did not actually do) to help you get a grip on your relationship with money. It really gets you to think about why you spend your money. It also gets you to think about how much time it takes you to actually earn money, which is something I think a lot of people fail to do. Sure you know what your net and gross incomes are, but how much money are you really making? What if you factor in commuting? What if you factor in your work attire? What if you factor in the shopping sprees to make you feel better about your work?

From there, your are asked to look at each of your purchases and really consider whether they are helping you meet your life-long goals and ambitions. That might sound silly, but I think it is a worthwhile to ask yourself whether or not your purchases are really bringing you fulfillment. That was really the overall take-away for me - are my spending habits aligned with my goals, and are my financial habits making me happy?

There are many suggestions for people to find work they enjoy and to find ways to cut spending. One of the examples he uses is of a woman who bought a piece of land and bought a mobile home to live on. That was enough for her. It would not be enough for me, and that's okay. The point is for me to figure out what is enough and to get there without going overboard.

The book also talks about long-term investment options, and frankly I didn't agree with all of what he said in that regard. I do, however, agree with him on becoming educated about money.

Which is a great lead-in to Fight For Your Money. This book is a different kind of book altogether. I've been listening to it on audio. Ultimately, it's about how to not get ripped off. He talks about health insurance, life insurance, home insurance, car insurance, buying a house, buying a new car, buying a used car, leasing a car, renting a car, paying for college, saving for retirement, and virtually every other aspect of finances that you can think of. To be honest, I wish that I had read a paper copy of this book so that I could have skipped to the parts that were really applicable to me. Unfortunately, the CDs do not list the names of the chapters or sub-chapters, so it was hard to skip around and listen to the sections that were most pertinent to me. It is so useful, though, that I may consider buying an e-version of the book so that I can have it handy to reference when I am looking to save money in a particular area.

11 October 2010

33 Weeks

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think, "Holy cow! When did that happen?" And then I remember that this has been going on for a while.

I'm feeling good and getting more and more excited to meet this little person inside of me. I can't believe it is only about seven more weeks.

Eric and I took our second (of two) birthing/new baby classes on Saturday. We were glad we took them, but we think they could have been about two hours shorter.

Yesterday Eric said, "I wonder what he's going to look like. I can't wait to find out." And I said, "Um, you're going to have to wait."

Also, this dress is not really a maternity dress, but it totally works as one. Hooray for multi-purpose clothes!

05 October 2010

Time Machine

My work title involves the word "assistant." All of the assistants at the company are females - that is partly because many of us graduated from the BYU family history program, which has very few males in it at all. This past week a new assistant was brought in, and he is a male. He was actually brought on more as a record searcher and gopher to the assistants than a true genealogist. Our operations manager is a male, and when he talked about hiring this new kid he made a joke about how he hoped the new kid didn't mind being bossed around by a bunch of women. We all laughed because it was funny. But the more I thought about it, the more it agitated me.

The thing is, the former C.E.O. of our company (former because we were bought out by a larger company, so she still runs things but no longer has the title of C.E.O.) is a female. She is very bright and entrepreneurial. She has worked very hard to get where she is in life. And she has bossed around a lot of men to get there (and women too!). Before we were purchased by the larger company, we ALL got bossed around by a woman. I don't think it was really a problem for anybody, but the fact that we still joke about it as if it might bother some people is irritating. I couldn't help but think, "Um, if anybody minds being bossed around by a woman, I recommend locating the nearest time machine and going back a good 50 years or more so you will be able to finish out your career without being bossed around by a woman."

I'll just stay in 2010 and get bossed around by whomever pays me best.

03 October 2010

Banana Boats

The last two Fridays Eric and I have spent the evenings up Millcreek Canyon hanging out by a fire and roasting hot dogs and other food stuffs. This is a ridiculously cheap activity for us, and we love it. The weather is perfect for it right now, and we are enjoying watching the leaves change each time we go up the canyon.

A few years ago we took a camping class together (Does that sound like a blow-off class? It totally was.) where we learned about a really great campfire treat that we call banana boats. Maybe the original people called them banana boats as well, but I can't remember.

I haven't offered a recipe in a very, very, very long time, so this post is devoted to the makings of banana boats. While these are traditionally baked over a campfire, you can do them just as easily in your oven.

First, lay the bananas on their sides and take off a portion of the peel, but still leave it attached at the stem. (Technically you do not have to leave it attached, but it is easier if you do.)

Then cut out a portion of the banana to fill with whatever fillings you are using. (I have suggested fillings at the bottom of the instructions.)

(You should note that the purple blob in the corner of this photo is my belly.)

When you've hollowed out your bananas, they should look like this. Of course, you can hollow out your bananas more or less based on your preferences. It will be easier to hollow out your bananas if they are fairly ripe. But really, they are bananas. We're not talking about carving pumpkins, here. Just use a decent knife, and you are fine.

Once you've hollowed out your bananas the way you want them, fill them with the various fillings. In this case, we used peanut butter, fudge topping, marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs.

Place the peel over the filled in portion of the banana. This is fairly important because it will keep your filling where it belongs instead of getting all over the tin foil.

Then wrap your bananas in foil. Each banana should be wrapped separately.

Bake your bananas at 400 degrees (Fahrenheit, obviously) for about 15-20 minutes. You want the banana to be cooked enough that it becomes fairly caramelized. If you are doing this on an outside fire, you will want to put your bananas on hot coals and leave them there only about 5-8 minutes. Even if you don't cook them all the way through, everything will still taste really good, but the caramelized bananas are pretty much to die for.

When all is said and done, your banana will look kind of gross. But it will taste oh so yummy. (Eating it in the dark will help you not notice that it doesn't actually look particularly appetizing. I believe that is partly why it is usually a camping favorite.)

Filling suggestions:
  • Any sort of ice cream topping like caramel, fudge, marshmallow cream.
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • Peanut butter
  • Various types of jam
Anybody else is welcome to offer suggestions of fillers. Eric and I typically do marshmallows and chocolate chips.

My thanks to Priscilla for taking the photos during the making of said banana boats.