31 December 2012

2012 Books

I read 27 books this year. Eleven fiction. Sixteen non-fiction. Fourteen audio-books (More than half. Wow.)

My top 10% are:
  • Truman by David McCollough
  • Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
  • Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
1. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson - I really liked most of this book, but the ending wrapped up too quickly. I liked the writing, so I'll probably read more of his stuff.

2. The Children by David Halberstam* - The Civil Rights movement is just amazing. I am so impressed with the people who made it happen.

3. Brain Rules: 12 Rules for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School by John Medina* - Lots of interesting points. Definitely a lot of things to consider, but nothing particularly life-changing.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Read it again in preparation for the film. Didn't love it as much this time. But I still liked it.

5. Matched by Alli Condie - Good, not great. Will very likely read the sequels, though. I would love to have a dystopian novel without a love triangle, although I think in this case the love triangle serves a valuable purpose in that the premise of the book is essentially based on choosing your lifelong companion. Still, I'm kind of tired of love triangles. Can we not engage young women in other plot devices?

I was busy reading but not finishing Truman this month. I was also busy sleeping through my first trimester so reading was not top of my agenda.

6. Crossroads by Leon Jaworski - Really cool stories from a guy who has done a lot of good in his life. A little preachy, though.

7. The Stowaway by Karent Hesse - A fun read, especially the parts about New Zealand.

8. The Social Animal by David Brooks* - Ugh. I really wanted to like this, but it just didn't do it for me. Too bad.

9. Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman* - Could not stop talking about it. Must implement so many of these methods.

10. 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralick* - Nice sentiments but rather tiresome.

11. Bossypants by Tina Fey* - Pretty darn hilarious. I like Tina Fey. (Cannot recommend this book to everyone. In fact, cannot recommend to most people I know.) 

12. Truman by David McCullough - It is no wonder this book won the Pulitzer. It is an excellent read. I started it in 2009 and then picked it up in earnest earlier this year. 

13. Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt* - Very enjoyable. It made me want to read Wednesday Wars again. 

14. Crossed by Ally Condie* - A couple of people had told me they liked this one even less than Matched, so I went in with fairly low expectations. They were exceeded. I actually quite liked it and want to know how this story ends.

15. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert* -  I downloaded this on audio really not knowing what to expect. Then I realized it was the same lady who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and I was very skeptical, but I actually really liked it. I didn't agree with her on all things, but it was incredibly well-written and all-around good.

16. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty - I loved this book. I couldn't put it down, and as soon as I finished it I kind of wanted to read it again.

17. Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - I really loved this historical fiction, and it made me want to pick up a non-fiction book about Sally Hemmings and the children she had with Thomas Jefferson.

18. The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullough* - Really interesting. Ultimately glad I went with the abridged audio read by Edward Hermann rather than the 35-hour-long one read by some other less awesome reader.

19. The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy ed. by Leah Wilson - I liked this book. There were definitely some essays I preferred over others.

20. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell* - Very interesting. I might have talked Eric's ear off about the taste-testing portion.

21. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko* - Rich people live below their means. That's pretty much all there is to it. This book was interesting but could have been about half as long. I did love this quote, though, "It is easier to purchase products that denote superiority than to be actually superior in economic achievement."

22. Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides - In January 1945 some elite U.S. Army troops went behind enemy lines in the Philippines to rescue a few hundred men from a Japanese POW camp. This book tells about the men in the camp, from their lost battle in Bataan, to the horrifying Bataan Death March, to their years in the POW camp. In alternating chapters it tells about the men who rescued them. It is both gruesome and engaging.

23. The Angry Hills by Leon Uris - I liked but didn't love this book. It is a an easy read, and I breezed through it quickly, but the end had me rolling my eyes a little bit. I think that is to be expected with a spy-thriller, which I think this was. Sort of.

24. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe* -  Worthwhile for its historical significance, but definitely a morality tale. Sometimes that got a little old.

25. SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner* - This was fun and interesting. It kind of makes me wish I had taken a behavioral economics course.

I was busy reading/listening to three very long books this month.

26. Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie* - Ugh. Hated this one so much. And it was 27 hours long. A very painful 27 hours. 

27. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens - Really enjoyed this one. Dickens has amusing characters, which usually makes up for the excessive wordiness of his prose.

*I listened to an audio-book. 

2012 - In Review

This year's year in review for me:

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

This is kind of boring, but we refinanced our house. That was new, I guess.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Exercise regularly - Nope. (Being pregnant early in the year really threw that one off for me.)
Cook regularly - Yes, on the whole I maintained this one very well.
Organize the pantry - I got started on it but still haven't finished to my satisfaction.
Curtains for the sliding glass door and kitchen window - Yes for the first, no for the second.
Three blog posts per week - Nope.
52 books - Nope.

I'm not sure if I'll make any plans for this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes. I gave birth. And tons of my friends did. And I got two new nieces.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just America this year. But I did get to see Canada from the state of Washington.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
A housekeeper. Or maybe just somebody to organize my stuff. If I have a system in place I can generally follow it. (This is just wishful thinking, I know.)

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Last year, to this question I said, "October 6. It's a long story. Maybe I'll tell it one day. But probably not." Interestingly it's the same date for this year because that is when I gave birth to Felix.

8. What was your biggest personal achievement of the year?
I am really excited about some of the genealogical finds for my own family as well as some of my media interviews for work. Also, getting my toddler to say "please" and "thank you" with relative consistency.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I neither blogged nor read as much as I wanted to.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really. Pregnancy was really good to me this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I love my Baby K'Tan.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Eric's, Eric's, Eric's. He is the best.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Copying RA on this one - the Newtown shooter. Appalled? Yes. Depressed? Yes.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The house, of course. Also, a fair amount went into the back yard. (But considering that Eric did nearly all the labor, that was still relatively inexpensive.)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
How easily I got pregnant this time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
"Somebody that I Used to Know" by Gotye

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) Sadder (at this exact moment. A few work frustrations.)
b) About the same, surprisingly!
c) Richer, I think, but not by much.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Mindless computer stuff.

20. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Yes, with Felix.

21. What was your favorite TV program?
Still 30 Rock. What will I say to this next year when the show has been canceled?

22. What was the best book you read?
Truman by David McCullough. So long, and so worth it.

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Eric discovered a Pandora station featuring lullabies by Jewel and similar artists. I'm kind of in love with it.

24. What did you want and get?
An immersion blender! Seriously excited about that Christmas gift!

25. What did you want and not get?
A KitchenAid mixer.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?
I only saw three movies in the theater this year, and we canceled our Netflix for several months. There isn't a movie that I saw for the first time that really stands out to me.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28. Eric and I cooked dinner together and hosted his parents and sister (who was in town for Eric's dad's birthday.)

28. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Fewer migraines.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
New boots. Before that, maternity clothes.

30. What kept you sane?
Eric and instant messaging with a couple of friends.

21 December 2012

Winter Whatnots

Eric took Ike sledding for the first time last weekend. I did not join them because I had a cold, I had an infant, and I had to work. Next time I'm going to be the fun parent, though. There is a great hill by our house, so it isn't hard to pop over there, sled until the toddler is worn out and then come on home. Eric also started to build a snowman, until Ike got bored. That is why there is a large body of a snowman in our side yard. I fear it will never melt.

In other news, we refinanced our house and now have an interest rate of 3.25%. It's a great time to be new homeowners.

When we attended our ward Christmas party a few weeks ago I took Ike to say hello to Santa and to ask for a candy cane. He didn't care at all about Santa and was only interested in the "sucker." (Our ward has far too many children for Santa to sit down and listen to gift requests. Instead he roams walks around and passes out candy canes.) In general he doesn't understand Christmas. He likes the lights, and he likes the decorations, but he does not have any sort of great anticipation when it comes to the presents. He sees them beneath the tree, and he'll open them when we tell him to, but otherwise it has no impact. He also thinks that every bearded character in the nativity set is Jesus, no matter how many times we try to tell him that the baby is Jesus. He is pretty certain we are wrong.

We attended the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert with guest artists Alfie Boe and Tom Brokaw. It was everything I hoped it would be.

I haven't cooked a single meal this week. On Monday Eric brought food home from work. On Tuesday Eric brought food home from work. On Wednesday we ate dinner at Eric's parents' house. Last night we had the rest of the food that Eric brought home on Tuesday. Tonight we have another family function.

13 December 2012

The Yard (in a state of near completion)

I've mentioned that Eric had been working on terracing our back yard, which was essentially a hill. He started in March. He seems to be about finished now.

First there was the task of digging into the hill to make level terraces. Eric did this, and his dad came and helped a number of times. I also shoveled a few shovelfuls of dirt. But then I was like, "Oh, hey, pregnant. Exempt." Our soil is quite sandy, so the digging was not actually that bad. (I say this having not actually done the digging of the terraces, but I have dug holes for the compost, so take that!) Eric and his dad terraced his parents' back yard at their old house, and they both agreed that the digging this time was relatively easy.

Also note that some of the digging was done before we had extended our porch so that we could get access to the hill.

Next up was the collection of rocks. Eric called around to lots of local quarries and ultimately chose one nearby. He, his dad, his cousin with his cousin's buddy went to the quarry and filled an entire dump truck with rocks. They also filled a dump truck with broken concrete. (The quarry gave us the concrete for free since they planned on grinding it up anyway.) It was an absurd amount of rocks and concrete. And ultimately it wasn't even enough. Eric had to go a few more times to get some smaller loads in a pickup truck. We also bought a ton (literally) of nice pink rocks to add a little color to the gray walls. The pink rocks cost more than all the gray rocks combined. They are pretty fancy, I guess. Even Ike got involved in hauling rocks. He was so happy to be a helper.

And then there was the building of the walls. If you'll notice the big boulders - those were already in place when we moved in. And they are not very nice looking. The people who placed them clearly didn't do anything to try to make them fit together in a logical or aesthetically pleasing way. Plus they aren't a pretty color. Eric has planted some dragon's blood plants in between these boulders, and those plants should spread over the next few years and pretty much hide the ugliness of the lowest retaining wall. (He got the cuttings from a neighbor whose garden was being overrun by the plants he had put in between his rocks on his wall, so we feel confident that they'll cover up the rocks nicely.)

Eric built the walls very carefully. Each rock was thoughtfully placed and fitted. The tops of the walls and the two sets of steps are about as level as you can get. Each wall is incredibly thick because behind the rocks is a wall of broken concrete chunks, and in between the rocks and the concrete is where he poured the cement to keep the walls together. (You can sort of see that in the bottom right picture in the third collage.)

The lowest level is very narrow, and we'll probably put some plants that do not need a lot of water there. Then we don't have to worry about putting a sprinkler line along that level. There are lots of beautiful plants that thrive in the desert. (Eric has been checking out this website, so we've already got some ideas of what we'd like.) We aren't entirely sure what we'll do with the next two levels. I definitely want a few trees on the highest level to help with the intense setting sun that permeates my kitchen/dining/living area every afternoon all summer long. And we might put in a fire pit. ("We" obviously just means Eric, even though I can no longer play the pregnancy card. I'm sure I'll be busy keeping the children out of his way.) We've got all winter to think about it, and hopefully sometime next summer I'll be writing a post about our beautiful back yard.
And obviously this will be a place of many family pictures. We took the first one on Sunday so we'd have something decent for our Christmas card.

10 December 2012

Another Generation

When my brother came to town right after Thanksgiving, I took my oldest two nephews (aged 13 and nearly 15) to the Family History Library to be my slaves. I had been making a list of things (mostly of quick record pulls) I wanted to do there, and at some point I realized that my nephews could be really helpful. (By "record pulls" I mean getting the microfilm from the drawer, finding the specific record on the film, and then taking it to the computers to make a digital copy. The records should have all been very easy to find because I'd used online indexes to know exactly where the records were supposed to be.) Frankly, I don't think my nephews had a great time, but I did! That day we added one generation each to two separate lines on our family tree.

And then today I added another generation to another family line. (Plus when I was on maternity leave from work and didn't have anything to do all day I worked on my Danish family history and added a few generations to those lines). So it's been a really productive few months for my genealogy research.

At work I make interesting finds all the time. Some are certainly more interesting than others. For the most part, though, I haven't gotten to work on my own family history much in the last few years. Getting back to it has been a lot of fun. (It's been less fun for the people who have to had to listen to me go on and on and on about my research.)

Today my mom's cousin sent me pictures of the family Bible. In starting my research I found that a lot of what our family had said about this particular line that went back to the 1600's was attributed to information in the family Bible, so I wanted copies of what was in that. As it turns out, the book only has the information going back to my second-great-grandparents (Henry and Sarah). So it most definitely doesn't prove the stuff going back to the early days of New Amsterdam. But, it did provide some great information.

I had been looking (not diligently) for my second-great-grandparents' marriage date and place for a while. I knew it probably happened in one of the five boroughs of New York City, but I hadn't been able to pinpoint which one, and I knew it happened around 1868/1869. I really wanted to find the marriage because it was my best bet for finding the names of Sarah's parents. (Her death record, sadly, was not of any use to me in this regard, although it did confirm the family story that she died due to injuries sustained in a house fire.) The family Bible proved to be the connection I'd been looking for.

It stated that this couple was married on 3 August 1868 in "Williamsburgh, Long Island." With a little digging I found that what was most likely meant was "Williamsburg" near Brooklyn. Still, the fact that we had a specific place, and a relatively small place (by large city standards) was the key I needed. From there I was able to find Sarah in the 1860 and 1850 censuses with her parents. (Due to how common her surname was, I hadn't felt confident about possible matches I'd found before.) Not only that, but in 1850, 1860 and 1880, Sarah's maternal grandmother lived with the family, so not only do I have the first name for Sarah's mother, I have her maiden name as well.)

(If you made it to the end of this post you deserve a virtual high five, and you can now count yourself as one of the people who listened to me drone on and on about my family history.)

06 December 2012

Felix: Two Months

It's hard to believe I've been a mom to this little guy for two whole months. Felix is entering a stage where he's beginning to be more interactive, and we love it. Mornings are usually the best time to get smiles from him. It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does happen we are thrilled. One of my co-workers says that if she can get him to stop furrowing his brow, then she counts that as a smile.
He loves to sit upright and be held upright. His head control is getting better, so he can go for longer stints in his Bumbo chair. 

He spits up a lot. It doesn't seem to be as bad as Ike, but he definitely has reflux. I'm not going to cut out the dairy this time because I tried that with Ike and it was not worth the starvation. I've just resigned myself to cleaning up lots of spit-up.

This little guy is so cuddly. He loves to be held, and I love to hold him. I just recently got a Baby K'Tan, and I cannot say enough good things about it. We both love it. Felix also loves to be swaddled. Even if it isn't time to sleep I often swaddle him because it calms him down. He also loves his swing and finds it very soothing.

I don't have much bragging to do as far as Felix's sleep. He's a good napper. He's had a couple of six-hour stretches of sleep at night, but for the most part he nurses about every four hours. I would expect to be more tired than I am.

Felix looks a lot like Ike, but a lot of people say that he looks a little more like me than Ike did. I tend to agree.

We're excited for this boy to become more interactive in the next few weeks. I'm hoping as he becomes more interactive that his older brother will start noticing him a bit more.

Ike: Two Years

Ike is two! (Cue ominous terrible twos music.) He is such a fun little kid, and I love that he is in my family.

In the last month his vocabulary and pronunciation have absolutely exploded. So many words that used to sound like complete gibberish actually sound like the real words now. I especially love when he says any word that starts with "h" because he really drags out that breathy letter, and it makes me laugh.

Ike loves books. He can sit and look at books for upwards of half an hour - totally unattended. Of course, he likes to be read to as well, but he doesn't need a grownup on hand to enjoy a big stack of books. Books with animals are his especial favorites.

This little guy is obsessed with animals.He can make all sorts of animal sounds, and he loves to show them off. He can also name a wide variety of animals. He loves to watch animal videos on YouTube. (Not funny cat videos, but episodes of "Nature" and that sort of thing. Eric has trained him properly.)

Ike loves modes of transportation - cars, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, tractors, bikes, skateboards - you name it. He loves to point them out to us and shout the name of the object over and over until we acknowledge him.

He also loves the moon, the sun and the stars. I think his favorite color is yellow. (Usually when given a choice between different objects and one of them is yellow, he will choose the yellow one.) He loves milk and would drink only milk and eat almost nothing if I allowed him to.

He no longer sucks on his binkies because I cut the nipples off them. He still carries them around with him and takes them to bed with him. It's odd, but at least they are no longer going in his mouth, and that's what matters to me.

I'm so excited to see what this next year will bring with our little boy. Two years ago I never could have fathomed how much fun he would be.

05 December 2012

Black Friday Boots

Black Friday was almost two weeks ago, but I'm just now getting around to blogging about it.

I am not normally (or ever) a Black Friday shopper. I had been looking for some brown boots, and I recruited a friend to help me find some that were in my budget. On Thanksgiving night she texted me a photo of an ad for a shoe store about 20 minutes from my house. I told her that she was crazy and I would not be going to said store, which opened at 5:30 a.m.. As the evening wore on, I started to consider the idea more and more. I set my alarm for some absurd hour the next morning.

4:45 rolled around, and I promptly turned off my alarm and fell back asleep. A little after 5 I woke up again and got out of bed. I wanted to be one of the first 100 customers because then I'd (a) be sure to get the boots I wanted, which were in limited supply, and (b) get a gift card worth a minimum of $10 that could be used on that purchase.

I didn't get there early enough for a gift card, but I did get there early enough to get the last pair in my size. And I love them. 

They are normally $50, and I got them for $20. Totally worth the early morning.

30 November 2012

How to Avoid Running Out of Picture Space in Blogger

In the last month or so I've had two friends mention that they've reached their allotted space in picture storage on Blogger. Did you even know that was possible? I didn't. If you use Blogger, then your pictures are stored in Picasa web albums. To find out how much storage you are using, you can log in to Picasa and scroll to the bottom, where you'll see some text like this.
I've been writing at this domain for about 5 years, and I've used less than 20% of my storage space. This is, in part, because I do not post a ton of pictures to my blog. The other part is that starting a few years ago I started re-sizing my images before posting them to my blog. I didn't do this because of the space issue; in fact, I didn't even know about the space limit until very recently. I started re-sizing my images because they took so long to load, and for the most part I don't think anybody is clicking on the images to view the giant full size image anyway.

I copy the images I plan to put on my blog into a folder reserved specifically for images for my blog. This allows me to edit the images any way I like without messing up the original. From the "For Blog" folder (yes, that is actually what it is called), I open the image up in Microsoft Office's photo software. It's not the best software, but it does the job. (I also use Picasa for things like adjusting color and fixing red-eye because it works better than Microsoft's software. But when I'm just re-sizing, Microsoft is fast and easy.) Once the picture is opened, select Picture, then Resize. At the top you can see what percentage you are viewing the original image, and at the right you can change it by percentage.

I have also recently started using Picasa to create photo collages since Blogger changed the way you can work with pictures. I re-size the collages too because they also are huge. I learned how to create collages in Picasa with Janssen's brief tutorial.

So there you go. I'd hate for you to have to go to the hassle to create an entirely new blog because you've run out of space in Picasa. You can thank me later. Or now. Either works.

28 November 2012

Toddler Christmas Tree

I got this idea from Pinterest, but I didn't read the instructions. I just saw the picture and decided it was something I wanted to do. Eric didn't think that ticky tack would make the tree stick to the wall. He was wrong. Eric didn't think Ike would like it. He was wrong again. (In Eric's defense, he was a very good sport about helping me put the thing together considering he thought the boy wouldn't even care about it.)

I didn't manage to put on proper clothes or make-up that day. And Ike isn't matching because I let him choose his shirt, and it was time to do laundry. That is just how Mondays go around here.

26 November 2012


This Thanksgiving included:

A much anticipated sibling reunion:

Cousins, cousins, cousins:

 Grandparents and great-grandparents:

 A trip to see the lights at Temple Square:

First smiles from Felix:
Not pictured:
  • My 28th birthday, which was on Wednesday, and which I did not spend in the car!
  • Numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
  • Two Thanksgiving dinners - one on Thursday, and one on Friday.
  • A successful trip with my teenaged nephews to the Family History Library where we added one generation each to two separate family lines.
  • A new hand-me-down Christmas tree that is two feet taller than the last hand-me-down Christmas tree, and is thus not finished being decorated. Possibly pictures to come in a future post.

23 November 2012

Elf Ear

My baby has an elf ear. Is it not the most adorable abnormality you've ever seen?

Obviously we'll need to dress him up appropriately this Christmas.

19 November 2012

Heigh Ho!

Last week I went back to work with Felix in tow. I was really eager to get back. I am a better mom when I have time away from my toddler. I really like my job, and I genuinely missed my weeks away from the office. That probably seems crazy to some people, but there you have it. As a rule I do better at motivating myself around the house when I have my for-pay job to do. I'm not sure why that is, but it gives me enough stuff on my plate to get me going on the mom and wife stuff that needs to be done.
Felix has done really well in the office. He is as sweet and amiable as Ike was, and I'm insanely grateful I get to take him to work. I love that he and I get to have these few days of just the two of us, just like I had with Ike. It's the closest I'll get to having a first-child experience with my second child, and I get to have it because of my job. Who would have guessed?

08 November 2012

Fraudulent Activity

I have a rewards credit card with Southwest Airlines. A few weeks ago I got a call from the airline asking if I'd purchased tickets for November 5. In fact, I had. But the employee then wanted to verify the names on the tickets, and no, those were not mine and Eric's names at all. He then told me the charges, and no, that was definitely not us. So he canceled the charges.

I went ahead and called the credit card company to ask if I should get a new card or what the next step would be. The employee told me that I was absolutely welcome to have new cards issued. However, it was possible that whoever purchased those tickets maybe just miskeyed their own credit card number and we wouldn't have any more repeats of incorrect charges. She said that if it were her, she'd have the cards replaced, but ultimately it was my decision.

I didn't want to memorize a new card number, and I keep up with the charges on our card very regularly, so I figured I'd wait it out to see if there were anymore fraudulent charges.

Sadly, there were some more erroneous charges today, for a different airline, charging about $1400. I've ordered new cards.

Now I have to memorize a new credit card number. Everything about getting the charges removed has been so simple, and I have no complaints there. But memorizing a 16-digit number and 3-digit security code and new expiration date? Such a pain. Darn criminals.

06 November 2012

Felix: One Month

I'm sure you'll all be devastated if we take a break from the never ending election discussion to instead discuss that my baby is one month old today.

I never thought it would be possible to have a baby easier than Ike, but apparently it is. Felix is just super easy. Once we got past the first week or so of life, he became a much better eater. He is a great sleeper. Most nights he sleeps in four hour blocks. It's glorious and totally manageable.

While we visited my family this weekend there were many comments about how serious Felix is. He usually has a very serious expression, which I think is caused primarily by his frequently furrowed brow. It's adorable and adds to the old-man look that most babies have anyway.

He is a really cuddly baby and loves to sleep on my chest - something that Ike never did. I love to hold him, and he loves to be held. (And yet he's usually okay if I put him down, so that's nice too.)

Felix is really strong. He can often hold his head up for a moment or two at a time. It's wobbly, but he can do it off and on for several minutes. I think part of the reason he is strong is that he is tiny and doesn't have a lot of head to hold up. Even at one month old his 0-3 month clothes are still huge on him, and he wears pretty much exclusively newborn clothes still. I'm perfectly happy to get as much wear from those clothes as possible.

I am very much looking forward to seeing how this mellow little baby's personality develops and seeing what role he plays in our family. Adjusting to having another person in our family has been as seamless as you can imagine, and I'm really grateful for that.

02 November 2012

Freezer Meals

I wasn't smart enough to make food in advance of Ike's birth. I gained some IQ points in between his and Felix's births, though. This time I did a bit of food prep, and it made my post-baby life much easier.

For the most part, I didn't cook many meals that went straight into the freezer for later use. Instead, I froze leftovers. This did mean that in the few weeks leading up to Felix's birth I was more likely to have peanut butter sandwiches for lunch instead of leftovers, but it was well worth it when all I had to do was thaw and warm up food for dinner while holding a newborn in my arms and trying to negotiate with a hungry and cranky toddler. (Why is dinner time so difficult?)

Here are a few meals that I made and froze the leftovers:
  • Ultimate Beef Stroganoff from Mel's Kitchen Cafe - This is a hit every time we have it, and having the leftovers frozen and warmed up didn't change things for us.
  • Crockpot Sweet Potato and Blackbean Soup from Everyday Reading - We didn't lovelovelove this when we had it the first time, but we did like it. I liked the leftovers a little better, and I do think this soup will be added to my list of go-to crockpot meals. It's really nutritious and cheap.
  • Roasted Sweet Corn and Tomato Soup from Our Best Bites - Good golly I loved this so much both times. I really need to take better care of my cherry tomatoes next summer so I can make a bunch of this and freeze it.
  • Vietnamese Pork Meatballs  from Girl Cooks World - We didn't really care for these the first time, and we weren't crazy about the leftovers either. I made them because I was looking for a way to use some ground pork I had, and I love Vietnamese meatballs. They weren't bad, but they also didn't make the make-again cut.
  • Tortilla soup from Zupas - Okay, I didn't make this. Eric brought home a fairly large container from a work meeting, and it went straight into the freezer. We had this the other night, and I added a little bit to it from things I already had at home. Honestly, we both prefer my tortilla soup, but this was free and easy.
And here were the few that I made for the purpose of going into the freezer. (All of these came from Mel's Kitchen Cafe because she has a link with a whole bunch of her make-ahead meals. I'd made a few of her things before, so I felt like I could trust these recipes. Most of them are not strictly make-and-freeze meals, so I had to make a few adjustments here and there.)
Plus, we had meals brought in from neighbors, Eric's mom and Eric's grandma. We haven't starved, and it's been lovely.

29 October 2012

"I can wear that!"

I am not crazy about Halloween. (As I have mentioned the last two years.) I rarely dress up, and I don't get the big deal. But this year is different. This year I have a toddler who is capable of understanding the concept of Halloween. Last year we dressed Ike up as a monkey. We got the costume at a yard sale for very cheap, but we didn't go to any Halloween parties or take him trick-or-treating or anything. It would have been way over his head. He looked adorable in his monkey costume, and we were glad we bought it, but in general there wasn't anything particularly thrilling about Halloween with a non-walker and non-talker.

I saw a pattern for a crochet sock monkey hat on Pinterest, and I knew that this year my boys would be sock monkeys. I whipped up Felix's hat very quickly. He is a newborn, and he doesn't really have opinions. If he doesn't like his sock monkey hat, he has no way of expressing that sentiment. Plus, he lacks the coordination to take his hat off.

Ike, on the other hand -

Well, Ike doesn't really like to wear his sock monkey hat. He likes the idea of the sock monkey hat, but getting him to wear the hat has been a challenge. I've taken to bribing him with candy to get him to wear it. I don't like bribery as a parenting method, but I figure for a Halloween costume, it's okay. After all, the whole point of wearing a Halloween costume is to get candy.

Seinfeld has said it best. (You can watch the whole thing, or you could stop at about 1:10, since that is where the relevance to this blog post ends.)

On Saturday our city hosted a little Halloween activity at a local park. A whole bunch of local businesses came and passed out fliers for grownups and candy for children. Ike very quickly picked up on the concept. He didn't say "trick or treat" (or anything remotely resembling the phrase). Instead, he just walked up to the people with the big bowls and said, "candy." He was hit or miss with saying "thank you" on his own. Most of the time I had to remind him, and usually he was so excited about having another piece of candy that it took him a moment to thank the appropriate person. Several times he just thanked whoever was standing closest to him, regardless of the age of that person.

I wasn't able to get a great picture of Ike on Saturday. He was so excited he just couldn't be still. These two are the best I have so far, and they should give you an idea of his costume.

The hat was definitely the most elaborate part, and even then it was a simple pattern. The pants and shirt are just gray sweats. I used some plain white material to trim the arms and legs like a sock monkey. And because I wanted to still be able to use the sweats in the future, I did not sew on the trim. Instead I used double-sided tape. That's just how crafty I am.

24 October 2012

Review: Pandemic

We don't own this game, but we have basically stolen it from Eric's dad. We love it.

Pandemic is a different strategic board game than most. It's different because it's collaborative rather than competitive. Either everyone wins, or everyone loses.

The idea is that there are four diseases breaking out around the world. The players must prevent the diseases from outbreaking and try to cure each disease, by collecting city cards. These city cards can also be used to travel and build research stations (which are necessary to cure the diseases and are vital to traveling around the world.) Each of the players has a specific role that gives him certain special powers in addition to the basic powers that each player has. After each turn, the diseases grow in a few cities, so it's often a matter of two steps forward, one step back. Every so often an epidemic card pops up, and that adds a whole new city to the mix and increases the rate of disease growth, thus intensifying the challenges in the game.

One of the things I love about this game is that you can adjust the difficulty level within each game. Usually when we are playing with new people we'll make the game easier, but when we play by ourselves we make it as challenging as possible. Also, the roles are assigned randomly, so each game can have a different combination of special powers for the players. This adds a fun dynamic and means the players have to adjust the strategy for each game.

There is an expansion pack, and it provides several different ways to change the game. We've played the game with a couple of the expansion options, but mostly we are happy to play the traditional game over and over and over again.

And one final note. This game makes me want to travel. It's a little counter-intuitive, because why should I want to travel to these disease-filled cities? But, I do. It's doubly-odd that this game makes me want to travel even more than Ticket to Ride, which is a game that is far more about traveling than Pandemic.

22 October 2012

Au Natural

About a month ago I was listening to Pandora (Internet radio, for the uninitiated). Pandora is funded by playing ads periodically throughout the music, and generally they try to target the ads based on what you've stated as your geographic location, gender and age. I've been disappointed in the ads that are played most often for me. Generally they are for products or services I'm not remotely interested in, and sadly, there isn't a way for me to tell Pandora that they've pegged me incorrectly. (I really like that Hulu has a little button in the corner where you can indicate whether or not an ad is relevant to you.) The most annoying thing about Pandora ads is the overabundance of McDonald's commercials. I hate McDonald's commercials even more than I hate their food, so these are particularly aggravating to me.

But nothing can quite top the advertisements for a nearby clinic/spa place that features "natural" breast augmentation. My initial thought when these ads started playing for me was to question how "natural" any breast augmentation really is. Let's be realistic. The most natural thing for my breasts to do is to do whatever they do after I breastfeed a few kids for a year a piece. That's natural. Doing anything else to them is not natural. I'm not saying I'm necessarily opposed to women who do choose to have breast augmentation procedures. I just question whether any sort of intentional changes to what the body would actually do if left alone can be called natural. I do not think the two ideas are compatible.

Second, I am bothered by our obsession with natural things. Not everything in nature is good for you body, and yet, when marketing folks use phrases like "all-natural" something in our brains makes us think the product must be good for us. Poison ivy is natural. Rattlesnake venom is natural. Molten lava occurs naturally. And yet, I do not want any of these things in my body.

19 October 2012


When Felix was born, Eric made a few comments about how much he looked like Ike. I didn't see it instantly, but as he's gotten older and become less squishy-faced, I cannot look at him without thinking about how much he looks like his older brother. I'm excited to see if a two-year-old Felix looks like a two-year-old Ike.

17 October 2012

Review: Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides

Eric's dad read this and then recommended it to Eric. Eric had barely started it when he recommended it to me. We actually got the book on CD to listen to on our drive to Seattle, but sadly, the CDs were not in great shape, and they kept skipping, sometimes skipping entire tracks. That wouldn't do.

Even after returning from Seatlle, I was slow to start Ghost Soldiers. I had already listened to the first little bit, and I knew that the topic would make this book difficult to read. The book chronicles a group of soldiers who fought and ultimately surrendered to the Japanese on the Bataan Peninsula. Then they endured the Bataan death march. Then they were sent to various Japanese prison camps. At the close of the war, most of those who were somewhat healthy were transferred to prison camps out of the Philippines. Those that were not well enough to be transferred stayed at the prison camp near Cabanatuan. As it appeared inevitable that the Americans would be retaking the Philippines, the Japanese began mass executions in some of their prison camps in the Philippines. Some of the prisoners were able to escape and share their stories with the Americans.

When the Americans learned that it was likely that more than 500 Allied soldiers were likely to be massacred at the prison camp near Cabantuan, the Americans put together a top-secret rescue mission. The book alternates between telling about the soldiers interned in the camp and the Rangers on the rescue mission.

I read this book in just a few days. (In fact, when I was up very late having contractions, I went ahead and finished it off.) It was incredibly well-written an compelling. The rescue-mission itself was compelling enough, but add to it the group of people that were being rescued and everything that they had endured, and wow. Ultimately, the men who were left in the camp truly were the sickest, which made the rescue mission all the more challenging. Not only did the Rangers have to get into the camp, they had to get over 500 unwell men out and then across enemy territory and into safety.

With that said, this book is about men who are held prisoner by the Japanese for a few years. It is gruesome and sometimes difficult to read. The book chronicles what happened to the men's bodies when they dealt with long-standing malnutrition, lack of adequate medical treatment and difficult manual labor. It also gives excellent background into the fall of the Bataan peninsula as well as why treatment in Japanese camps was so bad.

The only thing I disliked about the book was the lack of footnotes or endnotes. The author, Hampton Sides, states specifically in his introduction that he didn't provide footnotes because he didn't want them to detract from the narrative and literary flow of the writing. That is understandable, but there were so many points in the book where I wanted to know exactly where he got little tidbits of information. At the end of the book there is a bibliography, but as a person who majored in history, and still regularly writes reports with hundreds of footnotes, I like to know exactly where every piece of information comes from.

15 October 2012

Thoughts on Breastfeeding

The title was your warning. If you're not interested, I'm not offended. Also, this is a long post.

I'm a proponent of breastfeeding. There are the innumerable health and bonding benefits, and also, it is free. Nursing Ike was a breeze. We both picked up on it very quickly. I did have really tender nipples for a few weeks, but other than that I never really had any complications or problems.

I wasn't naive about nursing, though. I knew that it didn't come easily for everyone. Some women's bodies don't do it as well as others. Some babies don't pick up on it as well as others. I've talked to enough women and read enough women's accounts of breastfeeding that I wasn't expecting things with Felix to be a walk in the park just because Ike had been so easy.

The major difference in nursing my two boys is that I was able to nurse Ike within about an hour of his being born, despite the fact that he was taken to the special care nursery for observation right after being born. Felix was under observationfor so much longer than Ike. By the time they brought him to me it had been about 6 hours since he was born. When the nurse first handed me to do skin-to-skin cuddling (right after birth), he was rooting around, but the nurse was fairly concerned about his grunting. I asked if I should nurse him, but she said it was important to get his breathing regulated first. But he didn't get his breathing regulated and had to go to the nursery and be put on a machine that helped dry out his lungs. He was only on the machine for an hour, but then he kept grunting periodically, so even when I finally got to go visit him in the nursery I was still told I couldn't nurse him. I understood why I couldn't but it was still stressful to me.

I wasn't worried that he'd go hungry. I was assured that newborns can go for several hours after birth without eating. I was worried about the bonding we'd missed and chance for him to start nursing and start figuring out nursing right away.

When they finally brought him to me to keep, we immediately tried to nurse. At first he didn't even try. I did the tricks of touching his cheeks and his lips with my fingers and my nipples, and he had no rooting response. The nurse suggested just doing some skin-to-skin cuddling. She said this might get him rooting around, and it did. That was a good first step, but even when I tried to bring his mouth to my nipple, he wouldn't latch on.

And I don't mean that he got a shallow latch or he wouldn't open his mouth wide enough. I mean that he just sort of wiggled his head around and wouldn't close his mouth around my nipple at all. After several minutes of trying we were able to get it worked out.

Which is when the contractions hit. After Ike was born, I had minor cramping when I breastfed him. Nobody had warned me about it, but the nurses explained that it was because breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which is the same hormone that causes the uterus to contract. Nursing would help my uterus return to normal faster. It was also a great way for me to know whether or not my baby was successfully nursing or just sort of hanging out there without actually getting any nutrition.

There was no cramping with Felix. These were full-on contractions. They were sometimes as bad as the ones I was having when I arrived at the hospital. They lasted pretty much the entire time I nursed, and then usually for a few minutes afterward. I was happy to know Felix was getting milk; I was happy to know my body was doing its job; I was not at all happy about these pains. Every time it was time to nurse I would cringe knowing what was about to happen.

The fact that Felix and I had been separated for several hours in addition to the fact that nursing was so painful to me, I think, made it much harder for us to bond. This lack of bonding made me feel guilty. The feelings of guilt did not help the bonding process.

By Sunday evening we seemed to have gotten things straightened out. He didn't latch on immediately, but for the most part he seemed to do okay with nursing. I decided he was probably okay to have a pacifier. Dumb.

Sunday night, just before Eric left, it was time to nurse Felix before sending him off to the nursery. He absolutely would not latch on. He had reverted back to that same odd behavior we started with of just sort of holding my nipple in his open mouth and wondering what to do with it. He was also getting very hungry and frustrated. I had to call in the nurse to help me. She gave me some great suggestions, like expressing a little bit of colostrum onto my nipple so that Felix would be enticed into sucking enough to get some nutrition. (Colostrum is apparently about as thick as honey and usually takes a baby about 10-15 sucks just to get a small taste. It would certainly be frustrating to deal with that if you were hungry RIGHT THIS SECOND!) Eric was able to get Felix nice and calm, and when he gave Felix back to me he was relaxed enough that he latched on, and patient enough to suck enough that he didn't quit in frustration.

When he was brought to me later that night, it was the same thing. Only this time Eric wasn't there to calm Felix down. And Felix was inconsolable with me, probably because he knew I was the source of the food, and I wasn't giving it to him. (Not for a lack of trying.) I called the nurse in again. She was able to calm him down, but he still would not nurse. We eventually decided to give him a little formula via a syringe attached to a skinny tube. He was given a teensy bit of formula, and it was enough to get him sucking on my nipple, with the tube also in his mouth. This worked, and I figured if we could just keep him in the habit of knowing how to suck, things would get easier when my milk came in.

During the next feeding he wouldn't nurse again. The syringe and tube trick didn't work. The colostrum on the nipple didn't work. Nothing worked. The nurse gave him formula from a bottle. I was too tired to beat myself up about it.

Later in the morning, it was much the same. Only this time the shift change had happened, and I didn't want to call in the new nurse, whom I hadn't even met yet. I ended up just caving and giving Felix a bottle with formula. This time I was too tired not to beat myself up about it.

So I was feeling pretty guilty about this, and then the day nurse came in. She probably had been informed about the nursing problems during the night. (In fact, the night nurse told me I'd be put at the top of the list for the lactation consultant who would come around in the morning.) The nurse recognized that I had given Felix some formula, and she asked what was up. I told her that I had just not been able to nurse, and I was tired, and he was frustrated and hungry, so I gave him some formula. She then warned me about the dangers of nipple confusion and all the reasons to stick with nursing and not give up. She was not attacking me in any way, but I was totally exhausted and very hormonal, and I just burst into tears. And I could not stop crying. I also told her that this meant my milk was coming in.  I did pretty much the same thing when the lactation consultant came in and when I talked to Eric on the phone. It was just not awesome.

The lactation consultant was able to give me some good ideas to help. She told me to call her in the next time I tried to nurse. The next time I started to nurse, I had her paged. By the time she arrived Felix had latched on okay, so she was able to observe his latch and make sure he could do it properly. (He could.) When I switched sides she watched and gave me more tips and pointers. She was really helpful, and she agreed that his impatience would be alleviated when my milk came in because he wouldn't have to work as hard to get some satisfaction. She also said to not use the pacifier anymore, which by that time I had realized was a mistake. She said to give it at least two weeks before introducing it again, which seemed like overkill to me. (He's been fine switching back and forth this weekend.)

Since coming home, Felix's ability to nurse really has improved. He latches readily and nurses thoroughly. I've been pumping as well, which has been helpful with the inevitable engorgement issues. I like the idea that one of these nights I'll be able to have Eric give Felix a bottle while I continue resting. I'm definitely going to wait until I'm 100% confident in his ability to nurse before we bring a bottle into play, though.

10 October 2012

Felix's Birth Story

I wrote this post and then realized its length was absurd. If you do not care to read it all, there are bullet points below the picture at the bottom.

On Friday night I started having noticeable, sometimes painful contractions. They began about 6:30, probably, and gradually picked up in intensity and frequency as the the night wore on. I ended up staying awake until like 3, timing them and making sure that this was the real thing. (In addition to the false labor I had blogged about from the Saturday before, I experienced a similar episode of regular non-painful contractions lasting almost seven hours the following Monday.) I knew this was really labor because the contractions were painful, were mostly growing in intensity, and were gradually increasing in frequency, albeit with a little variation in each of those categories. I eventually decided that maybe it was possible to sleep through some of the contractions, so I went to bed and slept off and on for about three hours.

Saturday morning we did last minute packing and room-arranging things. We got a hold of Eric's dad and let him know we'd need him to meet us at the hospital to pick up Ike. I worked through my contractions and used an online timer to see how frequent they were. I had two main objectives with going to the hospital:
  1. Do not arrive so early that I would be told to walk the halls trying to get things going.
  2. Do not arrive so early that I would be sitting around in a triage or labor room waiting for things to happen when I could be at home hanging out with my boy in his last few minutes as an only child and doing random last-minute things like dusting the coffee table and fireplace mantel.
When I had woken up at 6, things seemed to be progressing fairly quickly, and I thought we'd head to the hospital before the first session of General Conference started at 10. I was wrong. We stayed home and cued up Conference on the computer. When I had contractions I would stand up and lean over the arm of the couch and sway through them. They were painful but tolerable.

Sometimes Eric would try to talk to me while I was having a contraction, usually not knowing that I was having one. Once he asked me if I wanted some grapes. I didn't have the ability to answer yes or no, but I was somehow able to tell him, "I can't answer that question right now." In thinking about that after the contraction I realized that my ability to talk was not really hampered, it was my ability to think and make decisions - even one as simple as whether or not I'd like some grapes - that was totally impaired.

I hung out at home having contractions until about 11:30. I was hoping to make it through the whole first session of Conference (two hours), but at some point I realized that I would still have a 20-minute car ride, during which I'd have at least four contractions where I'd be forced to sit down. Sitting during contractions was an unbearable thought to me, so I wanted to go before the contraction frequency was too high.

We got to the hospital, and saw Eric's dad waiting for us. Eric helped him move Ike and his belongings, and I went into the hospital by myself to check in. I felt a little silly doing that, but it wasn't like Eric would be able to do much more for me than he was already doing. When I got to the reception desk I told them I'd been having contractions all night, and that they had been about 3-5 minutes apart for at least the last hour. Apparently it had been a bit of a busy morning, and they had to decide where to put me. There were no open triage rooms, so they put me right into a labor and delivery room and told me to change into the gown, etc., etc.

The nurse came in and started chatting with me. I have no idea what we talked about. Probably when my contractions started, how painful they were and that sort of thing. When she checked my cervix she was shocked, and told me that I was already dilated to a 7. I was also shocked. It had taken hours and hours of being on pitocin before I got to a 7 with Ike, and this whole labor had been so different than that. I figured that maybe I was up to a 6, based on my level of pain. The nurse very quickly got a few other nurses to start getting my deliver room ready. They told me I'd walked in so calmly they couldn't imagine I was as far as I was. Apparently some other laboring mom had come in earlier in near hysterics and was only dilated to a 3. I was feeling pretty tough. But not tough enough to tell them to skip the epidural. Amid the flurry of prepping the room, the nurse requested the anesthesiologist.

I got my epidural at about 1. It was very different than the last one. With Ike I literally had no sensation whatsoever from the waist down. I couldn't even wiggle my toes. With this one I could still move my legs, although not very effectively. I could feel the contractions still, so I had an idea of what was going on. The epidural was a little stronger on the left side than the right, but overall I liked that it basically took the edge off the pain without knocking out my feeling altogether.

At 1:40 I was dilated to a 9. I stayed there for a while, and at 2:25 my doctor arrived to break my water. (I had seen him momentarily twice before that point. I'm pretty sure he was delivering another patient right before me.)

The nurse kept checking me, and at about 3:25 the doctor came in. The nurse had made several comments about how low the baby was and how easy this was going to be. I told Eric I was going to do six pushes and have the baby. He did not believe me and asked how many pushes it had taken to birth Ike. I told him it was a lot more - almost an hour of pushing, but he was the first baby, and I was feeling good about this one. He was still incredulous.

I was right. Two contractions - three pushes each contraction - and Felix was here. He immediately gave a good cry, they wiped him down, and they gave him to me to hold. Then they took him away some more and did whatever else. Then they gave him back to me for some skin to skin contact. Unfortunately he was grunting an awful lot, so he got sent to the nursery for observation, like they had to do with Ike. He was under observation for almost six hours, and that was definitely the worst part of the day. But he's fine, and I'm fine, and everyone is fine.

Anyway, awesome labor and delivery. That is why I do not look like death in my pictures.

  • Contractions beginning Friday night about 6:30 and gradually picking up all evening and into the night.
  • Hospital at noon on Saturday.
  • Dilated to a 7 upon arrival.
  • Epidural.
  • Dilated to a 9 by 1:40.
  • Water broken at 2:25.
  • Pushing at 3:25. Two contractions, a total of six pushes.
  • Felix born at 3:34.
  • Easy peasy.

09 October 2012

He's Here!

Felix was born on Saturday, 6 October 2012 at 3:34 P.M. He weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and we're both doing well. (Ike is still at Grandma and Grandpa's, so he's doing particularly well!) I'll be writing a blog post about the birth story sometime soon.

06 October 2012

Big Day

I have never written it on my blog, but I've not-so-secretly been hoping Felix would be born on 6 October 2012. Written in the (stupid) American system it looks like this: 10/06/12. That's a nice looking number. But it's even better when you remember that Ike's birthday is 6 December 2010 or 12/06/10.

Yesterday my doctor stripped my membranes. I hoped it would work, but I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket. It didn't work with Ike.

Then I started having regular, painful contractions last  night. And they've kept up and are increasing. I'll head to the hospital in a little while. And I'll most likely have a baby today.

Now, to figure out his real-life name.

30 September 2012

38 Weeks

I just went twelve days without writing a blog post. You might think I had a baby in that time. I did not. See, still pregnant at 38 weeks and 2 days:
At my appointment on Wednesday  (just 2 days shy of 38 weeks) I was dilated to a 3 and about 80% effaced. My brother came into town that night, and I used his visit as an excuse to make a good Southern meal - fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, mashed potatoes (and Swiss chard so Eric wouldn't feel like he was about to keel over of a heart attack.) That night I noticed a lot more contractions while I was on my feet. Then the next night I tried to get my kitchen tidied up after the previous night's overzealousness, and also I cooked a carb-loading meal for my brother (he was prepping for a marathon for the coming Saturday), and I again noticed a fair amount of contractions. Both nights, by the time I settled down so did my uterus.

Then last night after going to the Relief Society broadcast, I was watching a movie with Eric, and I was having a lot of very noticeable contractions - also some that were hardly noticeable at all. This was different than the other nights where the contractions were going on while I was busy and on my feet. I really began to wonder if I was in labor. I even made Eric pack my hospital bag while I sat on the bed and timed contractions. Ultimately I was having contractions about every five minutes, usually lasting for at least a minute, but they didn't seem to be strong enough to merit going to the hospital. Plus it was late and I was tired and didn't want to harass a neighbor to watch Ike for what might ultimately be a false alarm. I decided to go to bed. If I was really in labor, then the contractions would wake me up.

I woke up many times during the night, but only to use the bathroom. No baby yet. And that's fine, because I really want him to have an October birthday, and now he will.

Also, in case you were wondering, I am measuring very small. This is for two reasons: (a) the baby is very low, so he's just not in my belly area as much and (b) he's just measuring kind of small in general. At 37 weeks the doctor was a little worried after measuring my belly and seeing it was small, so he did an ultrasound and measured Felix's head and femur. Based on those measurements it looked like he was measuring about the 18th percentile for babies at 37 weeks.

18 September 2012

A Weekend in Park City

There were several times last week when I was very tempted to write a post that said, "I'M GOING OUT OF TOWN THIS WEEKEND WITH ONLY MY HUSBAND AND NO TODDLER!!!!!!!!!!!" Except that I never wanted to announce to the Internet that I was leaving my house for the weekend.

But now I'm back, so I can announce that I went out of town with Eric this weekend and without Ike! It was delightful.

Eric's work had a little retreat that was really not at all work-related and all fun-related. We stayed in a nice hotel in Park City and ate great food. Eric and his co-workers got to go down the aerial ski hill thing. Here are pictures.

Eric went down the little hill a number of times. This picture is from his first jump. Apparently it's much harder than it looks. (All I know for sure is that if this work retreat had happened at a time when I was not so very pregnant, I would have been all over this activity, even though we would have had to pay for me to participate.)
 You can just barely see Eric in the shot on the left, but this was after he went off the "bigger" slope the first time. (It's the slope on the far right.) He is in the air and about to land in the pool in both shots. They fill it with bubbles right before somebody lands to help soften the landing. It's really quite clever.

 And here's Eric getting ready to go on the big hill a few more times.

And also we went shopping and bought Eric new clothes for his birthday.

And we watched the BYU vs. Utah game. In Park City. Probably the most hostile place we've ever watched the game. And to top it off we watched the first half in a bar with Eric's co-workers. Double the hostility. We kept pretty quiet. And then the co-workers decided to go out to other bars, and we watched the rest of the game in our hotel room while consoling ourselves with a Cadbury Fruit and Nut chocolate bar.

We were so excited to pick up our little boy. We expected him to be excited too, but he didn't really care that we came home. I guess that means he was in good hands. And also that he won't be bent out of shape when we pawn him off on relatives when Felix comes in the next few weeks.

16 September 2012

36 Weeks

 Here I am at 36 weeks and 2 days. I went to the doctor on Wednesday (35 weeks and 5 days) and the doctor told me that he didn't think I'd possibly go past my due date. (Baby head-down and very low. Dilated to a 2.) I told him I'd heard that before. (Reminder: I was told at 36 weeks with Ike that there was almost no chance I'd go past my due date. Then I was induced a week after my due date.)

So, yeah, we're getting another baby soon. I feel good. The baby seems to be healthy. Things are going well.

05 September 2012

Our Cars

We have two cars. One is a gold 1996 Mazda 626 that has over 215,000 miles on it. (Pictured on the right. On our wedding day, in case you couldn't tell.) Eric bought the car in 2004 with 96,000 miles for $2600. That car has rust stains on the driver's side door, which is why he is called Rusty. The other car is a red 1996 Plymouth Neon with at least 150,000 miles on it. We aren't sure of the exact mileage because the speedometer often doesn't work, and when the speedometer is not functioning, the odometer doesn't work either. We bought the Neon in December 2009 at an auction and promptly named it Dudley, fearing that he might be a dud. As it turns out, he has served us well considering how little we paid for him ($900 at an auction, and then another $800 immediately for repairs).

As I've mentioned before, both cars are in questionable standing right now. Ever since we bought Dudley he's had small oil leaks that haven't been worth repairing. We've had all sorts of repairs done on him, and eventually he won't be worth repairing any more. Rusty is just old and tired. Back in November we were informed that he had a cracked radiator and could go at any time. Thankfully, his time has not yet come. (We seriously did not expect him to live this long after being diagnosed with a terminal illness nine months ago.) We are grateful we've had plenty of time to build up our savings so when we have to buy a car it won't be a horrible experience.

I've spent a fair amount of time looking online at cars. One thing I'm really going to miss about Rusty is his amazing gas mileage. He gets about 36 miles per gallon. Consistently. Granted, Rusty spends most of his time on highways or other fast-moving roads. We don't do a lot of errands in that car. I've looked through ads that advertised cars with 30 MPG fuel efficiency as really great, and it makes me sad in advance.

One thing I am really looking forward to are the safety features of having a newer car. I really want a car that has the LATCH car seat hooks. They make Ike's car seat fit so much more snugly than I can ever seem to get with our seat belts. I'd also really like a car with automatic locks and possibly a little remote to unlock the doors and the trunk. I know that sounds so simple, but I've had a few times where I'm trying to unlock doors manually and my toddler goes bolting out into a parking lot. Usually the parking lot is not busy, but one time when leaving the hospital after doing some blood work he ran right out in front of a large truck. You would have heard from me if there had been an accident, so obviously there wasn't one, but it was still scary. I could use a little help from modern technology that could help me in preventing this sort of thing. (I know it wouldn't solve my problem, but it would be nice if I could hold Ike's hand with one hand and unlock his door with the push of a button using my other hand. This is my daydream. Do not ruin it.)

Dudley doesn't have a working air conditioner. So obviously the thing I most want in a replacement car for him is a working air conditioner. Dudley also doesn't have a radio, so it would be nice to have a radio in the replacement car as well.

In the meantime, we are enjoying having two functional cars for however long we have them. Fingers crossed that neither of them dies at a really inconvenient time - like on the way to have a baby or something.

02 September 2012

34 Weeks

I have been horrible about posting pregnant pictures of myself. Too bad. This is me at 34 weeks and 2 days. (The last photos were at 26 weeks and 2 days.)

I'm feeling really good and getting excited about this little person. Overall, this pregnancy has been easier than my first, and I'm unbelievably grateful for that. Fingers crossed that we can keep up the good feelings.

30 August 2012

Eight Greats

It's my mission in life to get people to memorize the names of their eight great-grandparents - their "eight greats" as I usually refer to them. My brother's kids have demonstrated that they are well on their way to accomplishing this. It really is not a hard thing to do.

I got Eric to memorize his in 2008, and he still knows them. I did this mainly because at some point in our marriage I learned that Eric had memories of a couple of great-grandparents, but he really wasn't sure how they fit into his tree. One in particular was amusing because he knew his great-grandmother Hazel simply as the "Raisin Grandma." This was because she gave the kids raisins. But who was the Raisin Grandma? Which grandparent did she belong to? Thankfully, his mom was able to inform us that she was Hazel, the mother of Grandpa K.

I did not know any of my great-grandparents because they were all dead before I was born. In fact, I didn't even know any of my own grandparents really. Without giving you a ton of details you aren't interested in, I'll just say that geography played a significant role, and both my parents came from not-awesome homes and were not particularly close to their parents as adults. My dad's dad died before I was born. His mother died when I was six; apparently I met her as a baby, but I have no memory of this. My mom's dad died when I was 10. He lived in California, and my lone memory of meeting him when I was about 4 is "old guy in a suit." In fact, when I saw a picture of him at my parents' house a couple of years ago, I said, "Who is this guy?" I think my mom was a little surprised that I had no idea who her own father was. I did know and have many memories of my mom's mom. She lived close to us with my mom's step-dad, and she was the only biological grandparent I really knew. (My mom's step-dad is pretty much the one I always refer to when talking about my grandpa.)

So, the point - Sherry did not know her grandparents, let alone her eight greats.

A couple of weeks ago most of Eric's family was in town because his brother came home from his mission. (Yes, it's been two years! He's back!) We had our 11-year-old niece stay the night with us before heading up to Park City. On the drive to Park City we quizzed her on all sorts of things. (She is, in fact, a geography whiz.) I quizzed her on her eight greats, of course recognizing that I could only name four of them. I told her she'd have to work with her mom to get the other four memorized.

As we talked about how impressed we were that she could name almost all four of her paternal eight greats, it dawned on us that she had met all three that she could name. The only one she couldn't name died in like 1955.

Lucky kid. That's what I say. (It also helps that she is the oldest child of two oldest children. The numbers are in her favor.)

Did you or do you know any of your eight greats personally?

27 August 2012

Mt. Timpanogos Hike - 2004

Today Heidi posted about her hike up Mt. Timpanogos. It reminded me of my own hike up Timp back  in 2004. The more I tried to remember about the hike, the more I realized that the whole day is actually quite fuzzy. So I whipped out my old journal, but it hardly gave any details at all.

Yesterday was awesome!!!! Heather, Eric (from such events a s camping, canoeing and FHE) and I hiked Mt. Timpanogos. We took all day. Well, it was about nine hours in total, but that was because we spent about an hour at the top just enjoying the view.

I've decided that I definitely am a fan of Eric. I would not be opposed to spending more time with him. :)

And then I moved on to other things. I'm a little sad that I didn't share more of my memories of the hike. When it really boils down to it, it was the lead-up to the hike that is really worth telling.

Heather (my roommate) and I had been wanting to hike Mt. Timpanogos for a while. Neither of us had a car. We had originally planned on doing the hike with our other roommate, Priscilla, who did own a car, but she always had school stuff she had to do on Saturdays. (If I remember correctly, she was taking some kind of film class that semester, and she always procrastinated viewing her movies so she had to go to Saturday's showing.) Eric and his roommates were in mine and Heather's FHE group.* Heather and I figured we could probably get some of those guys to agree that hiking Timp was a good idea, and one of them would be the driver. So, during the treat portion of our FHE that Monday night, I said that Heather and I wanted to hike Timp but we didn't have a way to get there. Eric promptly said that he'd go. (And by promptly, I mean, promptly. We hardly had to ask and he was chomping at the bit to take us.)

Like I said already, I don't remember much about the hike itself. Lots of talking and singing, and me having a hard time with my knee. And then I was incredibly sore for a few days afterwards. I also remember telling Eric the next day at church that I was really sore, and he told me that he was not. I did not understand how that could be. I appreciate that my wussiness did not deter him from falling madly in love with me.

And here are some truly terrible pictures that were taken with a disposable camera, (Remember the days when digital cameras were not yet the norm?) then scanned on a lousy scanner.

*FHE is Mormon lingo for Family Home Evening. When you do not live with your families and attend congregations full of single people, you are often placed in FHE groups, and you get together every Monday night for a lesson that is almost always followed by a fun activity and a treat. The fact that Eric and I met by being in the same FHE group is a very stereotypical BYU story.