30 May 2010

A Whole New World

My dad asked me some time ago whether my reading tastes have changed since I was in high school. On the whole, when it comes to fiction, not really. I wrote a post roughly two years ago about what kinds of books I like best. Essentially, I really love a good plot and good characters. I am not a fan of particularly wordy authors, and I like to get straight to the point. This is how I was in high school, and it's pretty much the same today.

Where my tastes have really diverged, or perhaps "blossomed" would be a better word, is in my reading of non-fiction. I didn't read non-fiction in high school. Mostly we studied literature, and therefore read fiction. College really expanded my horizons and I learned that there was a great world of really interesting books out there. Because I like books driven by plot and story-line, my favorite non-fiction books tend to be about people and their experiences. This does not necessarily mean biographies, as many of the books I like are about a specific aspect of or event in a person's life. A few good examples are Left to Tell, Into Thin Air, Alive and Team of Rivals.

But I've also come to love other non-fiction books, as long as they are well-written and interesting. I've always liked to learn about things, and this really feeds my learning fire. Freakonomics blew my mind. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles thoroughly amused me while bombarding me with really interesting facts about the development of Chinese food in America. Some books advocate a specific lifestyle ($20 Per Gallon or The Omnivore's Dilemma), but many do not. I'm really fine either way. I feel like I'm educated enough to read a book, examine the argument and decide whether or not I agree with that argument. I just picked up a book that argues that the new movement toward local foods is actually not as good for the environment and not as healthy for us. I haven't started it yet, but I thought it would be interesting to hear a counterargument to what I've been hearing and reading for the last few years about local foods.

I'm reading a book now by New York Times columnist Gail Collins (though I usually don't read her editorials because I find them irritating) called When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. It is everything I love about a good non-fiction history book. It's well-written and clever. It's organized and the points are clear. She does a fairly good job (so far) of addressing multiple sides of any given issue. And it's about a topic I find truly fascinating.

So, yes, Dad, my reading tastes have changed since high school. I have discovered a massive section of the library called non-fiction. It's broadened my horizons, been endlessly entertaining and given me ample opportunities to feel educated and informed about topics I otherwise would have known nothing about.

29 May 2010

What should I do if the Internet fails me?

I promise not to make every post ever about pregnancy. But I've known for so long, and I've wanted to write about so much. Now is my time to ask for a suggestion.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought I should get a book. But then I started Googling questions that I had, and I found that my need for a book rather suddenly diminished. I could find answers to all my questions on the magical Internet. But, I'm not completely opposed to reading a book at some point. Perhaps a book on some method of delivery, particularly when I'm closer to delivery. Or a book about breast feeding. Or a book about baby sleeping methods. Or anything, really.

If you could suggest one book related to pregnancy/childbirth/and infant raising, what would it be? Are there any that you specifically wouldn't recommend? (A few details about what you liked and disliked about the books would be useful as well.)

28 May 2010

that brother of mine

So, remember my brother, Steven? He's one of those people that's just really funny. There was a time when he wanted to be a sports announcer/reporter/commentator. That faded away, and he went into marketing/business stuff. Well, he listens to this sports radio station in Dallas basically all day long at work. Sometimes he'll tell our other brother via Facebook about his questions and comments having to do with said radio station. (Our older brother also listens to said radio station quite a bit). I always see these exchanges back and forth on my news feed, but I don't pay much attention to them because they are usually about sports and teams that I don't really follow. He usually refers to himself as P1 Steven on this radio station and on its forums and whatnot, which I guess is why he always comments as P1 Steven on this blog. Like I said, I'm not really in the loop on this one.

On Fridays, this particular radio show on this particular sports station has a time slot where they don't screen the calls from listeners. They just answer the phone, and they respond to whatever crazy thing comes out of the caller's mouth.

Today Steven called and got on the air. His statement is very short, like five seconds. But it's pretty great. You can have a listen here. Enjoy.

27 May 2010


On my last birthday post, Jenny commented that she thought maybe I had gotten a baby for my birthday. This year, I will.


In 2006 we had a New Year's party with Abe and Erin and Janssen and Bart. I don't remember whether Abe or Bart proposed the toast, but we all toasted to having no babies in 2006. Seriously. This year, Janssen and Bart are having a baby in July. Abe and Erin are having a baby in September. And our baby is coming in November. This amuses me greatly.


This will be the tenth grandbaby on Eric's side. And it's 2010. This also amuses me greatly.


Around the time that I found out I was pregnant but had not yet told my mom, I was telling her about some sort of torture I wasn't going to put my kids through. I don't remember what it was. We definitely disagreed on whether or not this thing was torture. She said to me, "Well, you have to HAVE kids first." It made me all giddy inside.


Next time I plan on having a baby, I'm going to be sure to get a flouride treatment first. Because brushing my teeth was almost never a good experience for me. I'm a little worried about the status of my teeth now.


Eric insisted on buying me a pregnancy test. I took it one morning while he was still asleep after working late the night before. I was really surprised that it was positive, and I knew that there would be no way for me to keep it a secret from him. I mean, he bought the thing for me; he was bound to ask about it. So, I went downstairs, crawled into bed with him and said, "Let's have a baby in January." I'm not very good at counting.


One of my favorite bloggers announced just a few days before I did that she was twelve weeks along. I was very tempted to comment that I was too. I'm pretty sure that since we are due around the same time, this makes us bloggy-sisters or something. Or else it just makes me a moderately creepy stalker. (Since I DID go up and talk to her once while waiting for the Wicked lottery to announce us both as losers.)


It is hard to keep your pregnancy a secret when you are living with your in-laws. I failed. I will not go into that whole story, but I will say there were many times that Eric and I were down in our room and I was begging him to go find something for me to eat. Of course, he didn't know what I wanted. But I didn't know either. One day he joked about going upstairs and saying, "Hypothetically, if YOU were pregnant, what would you want to eat right now?" Then I said that maybe I should go upstairs and throw myself on the kitchen floor while screaming that there was nothing to eat. Eric's mom would reply, "But, there's plenty to eat! I bought all this food for you because I knew you were coming to stay with us for a few weeks." I would say, "But there's nothing for a pregnant person!" And they would all say, "We didn't know!" Then I would reply, in the most dramatic way possible, "YOU DIDN'T ASK!"

25 May 2010

Pregnancy follow-up

Thanks much for all the well-wishes. I am feeling really good now, and it feels good to feel good! On the whole, I was never that sick (especially considering that some women have all-day-sickness for their whole pregnancy.) I had to deal with some nausea and a lot of general exhaustion, but most of that let up while we were on our cruise, and now everything is great. (I should probably mention here that Eric was the best person ever in the whole wide world when it came to helping me figure out what I was and wasn't capable of eating. Also for removing undesirable smells from my general vicinity. And for listening to my whining. Because there was definitely whining involved. I think "unfailingly patient" is the most accurate description possible.)

We feel unbelievably grateful for our little human, and especially for the fact that our journey to this point has been very easy (although a lot longer than my post might lead you to believe). Sure, it hasn't been the traditionally easy way, but not having to go through anything more invasive than Clomid really is a blessing. Mostly I shared our story because I feel like a lot of people who deal with infertility turn to the Interwebs for support or with any questions they had. I was scared out of my mind about Clomid and whether or not it would turn me into a migraine-laden emotionally unstable basketcase. Thankfully, it did not. Plus, it worked, and I wanted to share that. I also wanted to let people who struggle with infertility know that they are not alone. Of course, you know you're not alone, but sometimes that doesn't help. And sometimes it doesn't matter, like when umpteen of your friends are all pregnant and having babies at the same time. And you find yourself wondering yet again when it will be your turn. I may have dealt with my infertility in an entirely different emotional way than you might deal with yours, and we may take entirely different lessons away from our experiences. But essentially, I've been through it, and lots of others have too. You really aren't alone.

23 May 2010

The Waiting Game

This post is being published today. But it was written on April 17, 2010. Read on.

In October my doctor started me on Metformin. It's a diabetes drug. I do not have diabetes. I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. For reasons that doctors can't quite explain, Metformin is often successful in treating women with PCOS and making their bodies do the right thing and ovulate. Metformin did not work for me. It made me nauseated 95% of my waking hours. I learned a lot of empathy in the month or so that I was on it; that is the one really positive thing that I can take away from that experience. I now know what it is like to feel sick so constantly that it really is an accomplishment to do something small like take a shower or empty the dishwasher.

After the Metformin debacle, my doctor transferred me to another doctor. That doctor put me on Clomid. Round one resulted in no side effects (which I was positively terrified about, thank you Internets). Round one also resulted in no ovulation. And I learned a valuable thing in that month: I really should get used to a lot of waiting. Waiting to start my next cycle so I could take Clomid. Waiting for day 21 so I could get the progesterone test (which, thankfully was a blood-draw test instead of a pee-in-a-cup test.) Waiting for the doctor to call with the result. Waiting to start my next cycle so I could do it again.

Round two was a higher dose. Day 21 came and blood was drawn. The progesterone test came back showing no ovulation. In fact, my doctor was surprised at how low my progesterone levels were. He said next month we'd do the usual progesterone test. Plus two other hormones. I was really excited about the cost of all this. Meanwhile wait until the next cycle. And because my body is historically insane when it comes to this sort of thing, the waiting could be for quite some time.

Day 45 rolled around. Not unusual for me to go this long, but I was beginning to wonder. And then of course I would push those hopes aside because I hadn't ovulated by day 21, so I couldn't possibly be pregnant. Days 50, 51 and 52 involved me leaning over the sink gagging while brushing my teeth. Now, that was unusual.

Day 53 was the day of a pregnancy test, which despite all the signs pointing to pregnancy (not all of which have been enumerated here), I did not believe would be positive. But I was wrong. And I'm due November 29.

And we couldn't be happier.

22 May 2010

Internet Scams

Several weeks ago I got an email from a friend of mine, Katie. The email basically said, "My family and I are in Wales, and we got robbed! Please help us. We have to leave soon and we don't have any of our documentation! Help!"

There were a few things that seemed odd to me about this email:
  • Some of the grammar and spelling were just a little bit off; Katie is normally the type of person who cares about such things, so this was a red flag.
  • I haven't been in really frequent contact with Katie since we worked together in 2007. Why was I suddenly one of her go-to pals?
  • I didn't remember Katie saying anything on Facebook about a trip to Wales, and I'm sure I would have noticed if she had mentioned it.
  • I decided to check Katie's Facebook page to see if I had just missed something. To my shock, she was completely gone from Facebook.
And that was the dead giveaway. Somebody had hacked into Katie's email account and sent an email to all of her contacts, using a slightly different email address than her own. They had changed her password so she couldn't get back into her account, and they had deleted her Facebook account entirely so she had no way of communicating with anybody via the Internet.

You've probably heard of similar stories. If not, this is your warning

And if you are one of the gazillion people out there who uses the same password for everything, you maybe want to stop.

And if you are one of the gazillion people out there who sends mass emails using the "to" field instead of the "Bcc" (Blind Carbon Copy) field, shame on you. You are opening yourself up to be an easy target for such things. (Not to mention that you are giving away the emails of all your friends and family members without their consent.) If you don't know how to send a BCC email with your particular email client, just google it. It should be pretty simple.

And that's my advice today on not getting scammed.

21 May 2010

Overnight Babysitting

My six-year-old nephew and nearly-three-year-old niece were supposed to come stay the night with Eric and me while their parents and older brothers attended the U2 concert in a couple of weeks. (This is the same brother who commented on a post last June that he would like to see U2 in concert). Sadly, the concert has been indefinitely postponed because Bono had back surgery. Eric and I were planning on setting up our tent in our living room to let the munchkins sleep in. This was an especially good plan for right now because we still lack any furniture to sit on besides four folding chairs. We also thought we could make a fort. Kids love forts. And that's when I ran out of ideas. Okay, truth be told, both of those were Eric's ideas. So I was out of ideas from the get-go.

Any other suggestions for making me the extra-double-super favorite aunt?

20 May 2010

Anonymous commenters

I rarely get anonymous comments. That's fine with me. I don't really mind anonymous comments, as long as the person who is commenting is not hiding behind the anonymous option so that they can say they disagree with me.

I fancy myself a reasonable person - a reasonable person who will not flip out if you disagree with me, especially if I am going to say something remotely controversial. I know going into that situation that SOMEBODY is bound to disagree with me. And that's okay. Just be civil. I won't hate you.

Like I said, I rarely get anonymous comments. But when I see dissenting anonymous comments on other people's blogs (particularly people who I tend to view as reasonable, and not crazy zealots), I get a little befuddled. Did the anonymous commenter really think that the blogger would hate and despise them forever for disagreeing with a post? Wouldn't you be MORE annoyed that a person couldn't just come out and say that they disagree with you? Have you ever commented anonymously (on purpose)?

What are your thoughts on anonymous comments?

(Yes, I do realize that simply by writing this post I am just begging for anonymous comments. Just remember that probably only the first one will be funny. So you better hurry.)

17 May 2010

Kiwis, Kiwis and Kiwis

When we got back from New Zealand a little over a year ago, we spent a good deal of time making a Shutterfly book of our photos from our ten months there. We really like to show that book to folks who are interested in seeing it. (And most folks are polite enough to at least pretend they are interested, which is very nice of them.) One thing I've encountered, not just in showing people our book, is that a lot of people do not know what a kiwi is.

This is the original kiwi. It's a small, shy, nocturnal, flightless bird. I never saw a live one of these in my time in New Zealand. There are many different breeds, but they have the same essential characteristics, namely that really adorable beak.

A kiwi is also a fruit (often called kiwifruit in New Zealand). It is brown or golden and fuzzy on the outside. The inside is green or golden with black seeds. They are really yummy and rather good for you.

And the thing that surprises people the most is that the people of New Zealand refer to themselves as Kiwis. If you mistake a Kiwi accent with an Aussie accent, the person you are talking to will probably say, "No, mate, I'm a Kiwi, not an Aussie." Okay, maybe they won't say that exactly. But they do refer to themselves as Kiwis. And it's not derogatory. How could it be? Those birds are really cute. And that fruit is really good. You can check out photos of some of my favorite Kiwi people here.

And one more thing. If you encounter something that is rather exclusive to New Zealand, like Pineapple Lumps, or Linley Dodd's Hairy MaClary series, you would describe that as "Kiwiana."

10 May 2010

Highlights of the Cruise

You walk a fine line when writing a blog post about a vacation. How many pictures do people really want to see? How many amusing anecdotes are not actually that amusing? Is blogging about my vacation the same as forcing people to look at slides of my photos? That seems cruel.

So, here are just the highlights:

Every night when the "Stateroom Stewards" came to tidy our rooms and turn down our beds, they left us towel animals:

Cave tubing in Belize:
Watching sunsets:
Playing with, feeding and petting monkeys, parrots and other wildlife in Roatan, Honduras:

Riding a zip line across the jungle in Roatan, Honduras:
The beach in Roatan, Honduras:
Swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman:
And reading on the deck (in the shade) any chance I got:

Exceptionally short post about my cruise

This is just to whet your appetite. I'll get more pictures posted tonight. The cruise was great!

06 May 2010

One-sided conversations with my fellow commuters

I'm on a cruise right now. What I am not doing is driving one hour to work and one hour home every day. And when I get back from my cruise, I am moving into my new apartment, and then i won't drive to work at all. Ever. Even in nasty weather. Because it really is faster to walk.

And these are all the things I will no longer be thinking during my commute (because I will be walking three minutes each way instead of driving one hour each way):
  • Hi dude. Let's try moving out of the left lane if we are going to go 55.
  • Oh, hey Mr. BigTruckMan, you riding my tail is not actually going to make me go any faster. So, take a chill-pill or go around me. It's not like there isn't room for you to do so.
  • Hi there, Mrs. HummerWoman. How's your gas mileage? I got 36.7 miles per gallon on my last tank.
  • Hmmm... Mr. GreenCar. Not really sure what makes you think it is safe to weave in and out of traffic like that.
  • Hey fellow drivers, that wreck is on the OTHER side of the highway. Maybe if we don't gawk at it we can keep our side of the highway moving along.
  • Why, hello there Little Gold Car, if you observe that car after car after car is passing you on the RIGHT, then you should probably move over a lane so they can at least follow the passing law and pass you on the left. Yes, I know they are going WAY over the speed limit. It's okay if you just keep going your speed one lane over and let them drive like maniacs on the other side of you.
  • You know, I get the allure of the HOV lane, but not so much if you are going to go the same speed as the stalled traffic to the right of us. Just because they have slowed down to 45 does not mean we have to! Our lane is clear!
Yep, won't have these thoughts in the six minutes I will spend walking to and from my apartment. And I'm relishing that thought.

04 May 2010

Where they died

It's not very often that I get requests regarding my blog. As in a specific topic somebody wants me to write about. But this week, my brother said he was thinking about my post from several months ago about my heritage. It made him wonder where all our grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents died. Being the kind sister that I am, I have compiled that list, again using the Ahnentafel numbering system.

4. California
5. California
6. California
7. Texas

My Great-Grandparents (furthering simplicity - born about 1890-1900):
8. California
9. California
10. California
11. California
12. California
13. California
14. Texas
15. Texas

And my Great-Great Grandparents (born approximately 1860 - 1880):

16. England
17. England
18. California
19. Illinois
20. Arizona
21. California
22. Alabama
23. Alabama
24. South Dakota
25. Iowa
26. Wisconsin
27. Wisconsin (probably)
28. Texas
29. Texas
30. Texas
31. Texas

I think it's also worth noting that I made this list using my original post. It made keeping the numbering system really simple. One thing that I observed (yet again) was how very normal my ancestors were in their migration patterns. They did very predictable things. The Scandinavians went to the midwest. The southerners moved on west to Texas. And lots of them headed to California, both before and during the Depression. There really was nothing particularly unusual about any of the migration patterns my ancestors followed. (Although, I do like to point out that my Irish ancestors came before the famine.)