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.