Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm really tempted...

To go pick up this maternity coat from Target. It's $40. I do have one maternity coat, but it warm, and the one above is wool. I also do have a regular pea coat that I can still wear unbuttoned, but because I'm wearing it unbuttoned, it just looks like I'm huge instead of pregnant.
What's a girl to do? Probably not do anything for weeks, until I finally decide to buy it and discover that they've already sold out in my size...

Burning Question of the Day: Spanking

Do you, or will you spank your children? Why or why not? And more interestingly, do you judge other parents who have an opinion that's different than yours?

The child conduct clinic has released findings that in the US, 63 percent of parents physically discipline their 1-to 2-year-olds, and 85 percent of adolescents have been physically punished by their parents.

On the other hand, in 2001 the UN launched the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, with a target of 2009 for achieving that goal.

For me, working with kids in foster care, I think it's important to first define what I mean by "spanking". When I'm talking spanking, I mean with an open hand, to a clothed bottom. In the State of Oregon, spanking isn't illegal--unless it leaves any sort of mark. Then, it becomes child abuse.

Now that that's clear, personally, I think it depends. It depends on the child, for one--Justin says that he remembers singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" to his parents once before getting a spanking. I think it's pretty clear in that circumstance that spanking wasn't going to be the most effective form of discipline for him.

However, there are times when I think that spanking may be the logical and natural consequence for behavior--specifically when that behavior could cause physical harm to themselves or another (i.e. swinging a bat near another child). I'm not sure that I would use spanking as just a general method of conduct correction (i.e. "stop screaming or I'll give you a spanking"). For some reason, in my opinion, spanking would probably only be effective from about ages 3-8. I don't believe in spanking teens or infants. I think at that point, there are just other forms of discipline that are more effective.

Honestly, spanking probably won't ever be my first choice in terms of discipline. I feel like through work, I've learned some great alternatives to spanking for even the most defiant children. But I'm not sure that spanking is ever anyone's first choice.

That said, because I guess I have kind of a middle-of-the-road approach to spanking, I don't have a lot of judgment towards parents either way. I actually think that I'm probably more judgmental towards parents who don't tend to discipline their children at all--yes, discipline is mostly about teaching, but sometimes, it also requires a consequence (whether that's a spanking or a timeout, or being grounded)...which doesn't always seem to happen. The only time that I DO get really worked up over spanking is when I see parents spank a child under 1, or when they're using a belt or other object to spank, and spanking hard enough to leave marks.

So again, what do you think? Do you/will you spank your child? Why or why not?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pregnancy Post: Week 29

Holy cow, I can't believe that I'm 29 weeks already! Assuming I go to 40 weeks, I now have 77 days of pregnancy left. Even better, I officially have 41 or fewer days of work left!

Lizard is now approximately the size of a butternut squash (or about 2 and a half pounds and 15 inches long). This week, her bones are developing, which may explain the fact that I seem to be craving milk, cheese, and other things containing lots of calcium. Lizard's spleen has also begun to work this week. I still don't really know what a spleen does, but it's undoubtedly important somehow!

As far as I go, I'm tired all the time, crying all the time, have heartburn all the time, I feel like my bump is oddly shaped, constipated, and my ribs hurt all the time. Soon, I might need Justin to help push me up off the couch. It's not pretty, but it's the truth folks! Still, oddly, it's almost like it just becomes the new normal. I'm not really even all that grumpy about just is what it is.

I guess the bottom line is that I'm just happy that she's still baking away, and kicking away. We had a case at work this week with a baby who was born at 24 weeks gestation, and is doing okay, but is obviously very fragile and still in the NICU. It boggles my mind to think that this would translate into me giving birth over a month ago. Holy manoley.

This afternoon, I have to do the one-hour glucose test. Cross your fingers and say a little prayer that I pass! Also, I don't even want to know how much I weigh now!

I'm also trying to get a little issue with my FSA worked out at work. My boss and I have a different understanding of how the flex spending accounts work--essentially, since our plan year runs from mid-calendar year to mid-calendar year, I have already used more of my flex money than I have contributed, or will contribute by the time I leave in December. She believes I will owe the company the difference between what I have used ans what I have contributed. My understanding is that there is a risk to both the employee and the employer with a FSA--i.e. if I don't use all the $, the employer gets it. If I'm laid off, I am no longer able to use those funds. BUT, if I leave the company having used more than I contributed, I'm not liable for what I didn't actually contribute. For what it's worth, we haven't continued to use the flex funds once I said I wouldn't be returning...though I do believe that legally, we could. Anyway, all the research I've done backs up my opinion, but I'm still waiting for my boss to give the final ruling.

In other news, the nursery is coming along spectacularly! I'm not going to post anything other than detail pics until we're done, but I had to share the latest nursery development, which is that my mom finished the bedskirt and fitted sheet for the crib:

I am LOVING how they work with what we've got going on in the rest of the room so far. And I really, really love how the majority of the nursery is either hand-made, or hand-me-downs. I can't wait to tell Lizard all about the family members who helped with her room :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wedded Wednesday: Purpose of Marriage

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Head over to Marital-Bless to see more Wedded Wednesday bloggers.

Last night in our couple's Bible Study, we talked a lot about the purpose of marriage. In order to make it work, I think that it's important for you and your spouse to be on the same page about what marriage means, and WHY the two of you are married.

Most Americans would tell you that the purpose of marriage is to make each other happy. And being happy in marriage IS important, even crucial. But what if the purpose behind marriage wasn't necessarily to make us happy, but to make us holy?

We've been talking a lot about Gary Thomas' book Sacred Marriage, which is formed around that exact idea. If you're interested, you can download the first chapter of the book here.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a quote to ponder...

"For the Christian, marriage is a penultimate rather than an
ultimate reality. Because of this, both of us can find even more
meaning by pursuing God together and by recognizing that he is the
one who alone can fill the spiritual ache in our souls. We can work
at making our home life more pleasant and peaceable; we can
explore ways to keep sex fresh and fun; we can make superficial
changes that will preserve at least the appearance of respect and
politeness. But what both of us crave more than anything else is to
be intimately close to the God who made us. If that relationship is
right, we won’t make such severe demands on our marriage, asking
each other, expecting each other, to compensate for spiritual
emptiness" (p 24).

Lunch Break Photography

I decided to spend my lunch break taking pictures yesterday. Unfortunately, I was only able to take pictures for about 14 minutes before it started to rain--again. Still, I think I got some interesting shots. Though, these detail shots were REALLY making me lust after a 50mm f/1.8 lens. Sigh....

You know what else is funny? I used to hate.hate.hate. taking pictures of people. In all my photography classes, my one picture of a person was always the portrait assignment, and then I wouldn't shoot another person the rest of the term. Somewhere along the line (probably when I started dating Justin and hanging around our niece and nephew), I started taking pictures of people. Now, it feels weird NOT to have people in the frame!

Click on any picture for full size...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A few things....

- I fell asleep before Lie to Me finished last night. Anyone want to tell me how it ended?

- Speaking of sleep, I cannot get enough. On Sunday, I got up, got ready for church, and had to take a nap again before we went. People keep telling me that it's "normal" for this stage of pregnancy. This may be true, but it's really kind of difficult when you're still working. Regarding sleep, people keep telling me, "You just WAIT until the baby comes!!!" Yes, I know, I won't be sleeping much. I'm a zombie now, I'll be a zombie then.

- I discovered a great no-knead bread recipe. Click here. You can substitute some of the white flour for whole wheat flour. I topped one of my loaves with cheese, and J proceeded to eat pretty much the entire thing with a beer on Saturday night. Justin is a sucker for beer, cheese, and bread.

-Last week, I also froze a couple batches of Ropa Vieja, which is a Cuban beef stew, to toss in the Crock Pot. The name of the recipe translates to "old clothes"--there's a story that a family was so poor that they had no food. The father decided to try and make a stew out of his old clothes. His love conquered all, and it was the best tasting stew ever. Unfortunately, I can't quite say the same for this recipe, because I had to doctor it quite a bit. We're talking 5 or 6 tablespoons of cayenne pepper, quite a bit of chili powder, and I am NOT a spicy food gal. Next time, instead of the tomato paste, I think I'd substitute a can of Rotel or something similar to give it more heat. In the end, we ate it over rice with cheese, and it was pretty good.

-I need to do some photography. Heck, I'd even be happy just taking pictures of leaves, but the weather has been so non-cooperative lately, that hasn't even happened.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weigh In: My Furniture Arrangement

This is our living room, and how it's been arranged since we moved in (excuse the messes!). I'm thinking that I'd like to change things up a bit, for several different reasons, one being that there isn't any place that we could actually put a Christmas tree--lots of people have suggested to just put it right in front of the window, but that wouldn't work for two reasons: (1) there is no outlet anywhere on that wall, which would make plugging in lights a pain and (2) we usually sit together on the big couch to watch TV, and the Christmas tree would directly block the view of the TV.

Here's what you need to know:

-This isn't a sectional--it's actually a sofa, loveseat, and ottoman.

-The TV in the lower right hand corner is sitting directly in front of a small half-wall. It isn't long enough to put either the sofa or loveseat in front of without it looking really weird.

-The TV hook ups are actually on the wall with the floating shelves, which means we're currently running cords all along two walls.

-Just out of the picture on the wall with the floating shelves is a door leading out to the garage. The loveseat in the left of the picture provides a walkway out to the garage (there are also bookshelves lining the wall behind the loveseat), adjacent to the door outside.

Here's what I'm thinking:

-I'm thinking about moving the sofa that's currently on the wall with the floating shelves to the wall with the window. I measured, and the sofa is just about the same length on the window. I don't mind having the sofa in front of the window.

-The loveseat would stay approximately where it is, so that you could actually look at people on the sofa and face them when you're talking.

-The TV would move to the wall with the floating shelves (where the hook-ups are)

-When it's time for Christmas, the tree would go essentially where the TV is now--in the corner between the sofa and the half-wall.

What do you think? Do you see a better layout option? On one hand, we'd lose a bit of floor space, but it's going to be awhile before we have a walker who needs that! On the other hand, I feel like having the couch and loveseat face each other might make things more "cozy"...
Edited to add: I don't know WHAT is up with pictures on my blog today! But this one has been fixed!

Sleep toward Heaven and Handle With Care

I've been back on a bit of a reading kick lately, and polished off two books in the last week!

In Sleep Toward Heaven, we meet three women who lead very different lives--a 29 year old female awaiting execution on death row in Texas, a 29 year old doctor from New York who has just lost a patient that she was close to, and a Texas librarian struggling to reclaim her life after the death of her husband.

It was a little slow and melodramatic at first, but keep reading--there's much more to the story than first meets the eye.

This is one that I'd definitely recommend reading--and when was the last time I said THAT?!

Now, I think some of you probably remember me saying that I like Jodi Picoult, but that we've been on a break. This was partially because I've read almost all her books and was getting tired of her writing style (and could usually pretty quickly predict the ending of the book). I've had this book for awhile, but haven't read it because it's about a very fragile baby--a baby with brittle bone disease. And for my own sanity, I've been trying to stay away from books where babies have the propensity to die. Anyway.

From the inside jacket:

Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Promises break.
Hearts break.

Every expectant parent will tell you that they don’t want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they’d been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of “luckier” parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it’s all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She’s smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow’s illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?"

Overall, it was shaping up to be a half-decent book. But I couldn't help but thinking 'I've read this before!' and it wasn't until the last chapter that I realized that I had read this book before. Or virtually the same book, also by Jodi Picoult. It's My Sister's Keeper...even the endings are strikingly similar [and ps--please no spoilers about the ending of my Sister's Keeper...I know there's at least one person who reads this blog that's currently in the middle of it!]. I'm really sad about this. I was counting on this book to be the one that sent me back into Jodi Picoult's arms. Unfortunately, I just can't recommend it, unless you haven't (and won't ever) read My Sister's Keeper. 'Cause really, that's the better book of the two.

So what about you all--what are you reading?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Burning Question of the Day: Top 5

Anyone who knows me knows that I have pretty eclectic music taste. I will listen to almost anything, unlike my picky husband who is a total music snob! But, I have a feeling that his snobbery comes from the fact that he actually sees chord progressions and whatnot in his head when he listens to music, and he can tell if the song would be better with a different chord or rhythm, or whatever, and it bugs him. Anyway....

What are your 5 favorite songs of the moment? They can be new, old, any genre...what are you listening to?

Mine go like this:

1. Wheels- Foo Fighters
2. I'd Need A Savior- Among the Thirsty
3. Down the Road- Kenny Chesney and Mac McAnally
4. Stickshifts and Safety Belts- Cake
5. Camilo- State Radio

What about you?

PS- ETHAN...have you heard the State Radio song?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pregnancy Post: Week 28

Holy cow y'all. At 15 weeks, I was pretty darn skinny! If you would have asked me whether or not I thought I was skinny pre-pregnancy, I would have told you HELL NO. And at 15 weeks, I felt like my baby bump was totally obvious to everyone. Now, I can't help but laugh! Nothing like pregnancy to make you feel thin!

This week, Lizard is between 2-3 pounds. When I was at the doctor the other day (GP, not the OB), she told me that Lizard is "essentially done cooking" and is now just "plumping up". Speaking of Lizard, many of our family members and church ladies are expressing their dislike for the nickname "Lizard." I tell them that we like that nick-name, but if they don't, they're welcome to call her Liz or Lizzy--not Liza, or Ella, or Ellie, or Beth. I don't understand those being nicknames for Elizabeth (except for Beth, but if I wanted her to be named Beth, I would have named her Beth!), but that's another story.

In other news:
-The nursery is coming along...I just need ideas for what, if anything to do on the walls that don't have the mural. Floating shelves? Frames with wall art?

-Back pain is near constant.

-Did I mention that last Friday the waiter asked me whether I was pregnant or "just really liked beer"? Justin says that in retrospect, he should have looked at me and loudly said, "YOU'RE PREGNANT?! When were you going to tell me?!" I have to admit though, as far as pregnancy comments go, that one is probably the funniest and most unique. The waiter is just lucky that I was in a good mood that day. Any other day, and I just as easily could have cried.

-Sweet Justin told me he's been praying hard that I have a good night's sleep, and for the first time in months, I slept for more than 3 hours at a time last night. Speaking of last night, I remember rolling over and feeling this weird kicking by my stomach. While I was sleeping, I remember thinking, "that's not what Lizzy's kicks usually feel like!" Then I realized that I had rolled over onto the cat, and she was kicking me and trying desperately to get my big belly off her. Sorry Bones!

-My hair is a big frizzy mess. I am really tempted just to toss it in a pony-tail for the next 3 months.

-I HATE the taste and consistency of plain, organic yogurt, but I've been eating it like it's going out of style to try and ward off any nasty side-effects of the antibiotics that I'm on (and thankfully, I'm feeling much better). Blech! I mixed the most recent batch with applesauce to try to make it taste a little better, but no dice.

-I'm beginning to get a linea negra. But here's the funny part--I had surgery a couple of years ago to remove my appendix, and they went in lapriscopically right above my belly button. Consequently, I have a small scar right above my belly button. The linea negra goes from my ribs, down to the scar in a nice straight line, then the scar makes it jutt over about an inch, making it go completely around my belly button. It's just funny that the lines totally don't line up at all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Violinist on the Subway

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007: The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100. This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The question is: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?
Note: The photo included in this post is the one that I received in the email telling this story. The photo is not mine, and I do not know of it's origins to properly credit the source. If you are the source, I am happy to give you photo credit!

Wedded Wednesday: Love and Care for Each Other

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Head over to Marital-Bless to see more Wedded Wednesday posts!

In my hometown, there was an elementary school teacher, who was also a football coach. He was loved by almost everyone who had him in school, and even most of the kids who didn't. He had battled with cancer for quite awhile, but always seemed to pull through and go into remission. While my brother was on the football team, the cancer came back, and spread quickly. The boys made it to state that year, but the coach couldn't attend because he had to be hospitalized. Somehow, it was arranged for him to get a live video feed of the game to his hospital room, and he helped coach the game via phone. Everyone knew that he didn't have much longer to live. I wish that I would have been there to hear his pre-game talk--I've heard that it was incredible. One of the things that the coach was famous for saying, and told the boys that day before he passed away was to "Love and care for each other." It's such a simple thing, isn't it? But it's also the most important thing.

That statement has kind of taken on a life of it's own in my little town. All of the football shirts being sold through the booster club now have that quote on the back of them--and it really is quite something to look down into the stands and to see hundreds of backs that all bear that gentle reminder. For me, it's a good reminder in my marriage to stop, and think about that sentiment--are my words and actions loving and caring? Does Justin feel loved and cared for?

So for today, take a minute to think about that simple command--to love and care for each other. How will you show that you love and care for others today?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Favorite Meal: Chicken Picatta

So, I am home from work and antibiotic-ed up. I didn't have full pneumonia, but it was headed that way. I planned to go in to work today, but after I couldn't stop crying last night (for no good reason other than I was just exhausted), Justin made me promise to stay home today. So I did, and I'm still trying not to freak out about having to use two-day's worth of my precious PTO. Anyway. I found this post that somehow apparently never got published back on 10/8, so here you go!


Last night, I made one of my most favorite dishes--Chicken Picatta! It's so lemon-y, butter-y, and wine-y...and totally delicious. I keep telling Justin that all he has to do to make me swoon for weeks is to make me this recipe. So far, no luck. Anyway, this is actually my younger sister's recipe, from when she used to work at a kitchen shop and help teach cooking classes.

Now, this particular recipe calls for a "dry white wine"--I usually use whatever mid-priced white wine the grocery store has on super clearance. This time, I used Mad Housewife Chardonnay. I couldn't stop giggling the whole time because the bottle was so hilarious.

Although I really wanted a glass, I didn't taste the wine by itself (yet), so I'm not sure if it can stand alone, but it worked great in the chicken! Anyway...on to the recipe!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded until thin.
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup flour for dusting
1/2 cup dry white wine
2-4 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons capers, drained
4 tablespoons butter
Fresh lemon slices

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour into a Ziploc bag, and insert chicken pieces one at a time to coat. Spray a saute pan with non-stick spray then add vegetable oil and heat. Saute chicken 2-3 minutes on one side, flip over and cook the other side 1-2 minutes with the pan covered. Transfer cutlets to a plate, and place in the microwave or oven to keep warm. Pour off fat from the pan. Deglaze the pan with white wine, and add garlic. Cook until the garlic is slightly brown and the liquid is nearly gone. Add broth, lemon juice, and capers. Return chicken to pan and cook one more minute each side, or until juices run clear. Finish with a pat of butter and lemon slices on each piece of chicken.

Once, I skipped garnishing with butter. Don't do it. It isn't Chicken Picatta without the buttery-lemony-garlic flavor. I usually serve over wild rice or angel-hair pasta. Some places add mushrooms to this recipe, but I firmly believe that mushrooms have no place in buttery-lemony-garlic heaven. The end.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pneumonia and other Snippets

-So, have I mentioned that J and I have been battling colds for probably a month? I actually thought mine was allergies related to the fires around here, but my symptoms never went away and the smoke has. Last week, Justin started to sound REALLY bad, and kept coughing until he threw up. Finally, on Friday he went to the doctor and has either pneumonia or walking pneumonia. Now, I'm starting to sound like him with a dry, non-productive cough, and it pretty much hurts to breathe. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about whether or not pneumonia is contagious, but I'll probably go have the doctor listen to my lungs today to make sure they're all clear. I've been grappling with whether or not to do this for several weeks, but any time I make the decision to go in, I suddenly feel much better and don't end up going in. Today is no exception, but I will probably make myself go anyway.

-I think I'm going to attempt to freeze some meals here in the next couple of weeks. Any suggestions for good, freezable dinners?

-I finished We Were The Mulvaneys over the weekend. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, but not so much the end. Who wants to be an observer to a family crumbling apart? I kept expecting them to pull it together, but it just got worse and worse!

-We are out of hot chocolate, and I want some really bad.

-I am much more interested in knitting baby booties than I am in finishing either one of the baby blankets. I totally appreciate the sentiment that I should open an etsy store, but unfortunately, I'm not quite speedy enough to do that yet. Right now, if I sold them for the going rate of $10, I'd only be making like a dollar an hour!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mary-Jane Baby Booties

I don't really think of myself as being crafty--I can't draw, I'm not good at scrapbooking, I can't make my own cute holiday cards or crafts. In high school, I taught myself how to knit, but I was essentially confined to square and rectangle items...scarves and blankets. Even then, as Lisa, Sara, and Ethan can attest, my blankets weren't really always square either. And I most certainly could NOT read a knitting pattern!

Recently, I've discovered that you can look up almost anything to do with knitting on You Tube. It makes it so much easier to understand! So, I've been branching out a little bit in terms of what I'm trying to knit. Last weekend, Justin's mom gave me a bunch of her grandmother's knitting needles, a quilted knitting needle case, and a bunch of baby yarn as a belated birthday present. I decided to try and make some baby booties. Here's the first pair that I made:

I was surprised at how simple they were, and completing them gave me the confidence to try some mary-jane style booties (pattern here). I spent a little bit of time on You Tube figuring out what the heck "ssk" and "kbf" meant, but once I did, I whipped up these puppies pretty darn quickly:

Top view:
I ended up modifying the pattern a little bit because I just could NOT figure out how to do a couple of things. But overall, I think I did pretty well! I am impressed with myself!

And's 12:45am and I'm awake. Don't ask. Sleep hasn't been returning my calls lately. I think he wants to break up with me, but I'm not letting him go without a fight!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Burning Question of the Day: Think Back

This BQOTD is courtesy of Sara, one of my roommates from college that stalks the blog....

Think back 5 years ago from today. October 16, 2004. What was going on in your life? Where were you working and living? Where did you think you were going in life? Is it where you've ended up?

In October 2004, I was just entering into my 2nd month of my first year at PLU. I was very happy that I got along with my roommate Lisa and our neighbor Sara--I was just a little bit suspect about Lisa's love for Britney Spears! Going into PLU, I was essentially a vegetarian, though I'd occasionally eat non-red meat. About in October, I went out to dinner with either Lisa or Sara and accidentally ordered pasta with meat sauce instead of marinara. I was poor, and couldn't afford to waste the meal, so I ate it anyway. I was in agony all night...but I realized how tired I was of trying to make vegetarian meals in the cafeteria, and that's the story of how I came to eat red meat again!

In terms of school, I was taking all general ed classes, and for the first time in my life, I was actually having to work at them to do well. In terms of work, I think at that time I was running the photography darkroom. I didn't have a major picked out, but I was thinking about pre-law.

Justin and I had been dating for about 5 months, and I had just found out that he was not coming up for Family Weekend over Halloween, and I was a little bit crushed. Still, I was really excited to see my parents over Family Weekend and to have my sister stay with us for a night and go out on Halloween with us.

At that point, my life felt so up in the air. I had serious feelings for Justin, but I wondered whether we'd be able to make it through the whole long-distance thing. At that time, I didn't forsee myself transferring back to school in Oregon, so I was figuring we'd have four years of a long distance relationship (more if I went to law school)--could we do it?

I remember kind of feeling like I was at a crossroads--I could quit school, go home and get married, and start having babies right away like a lot of people I knew, OR I could continue in school, and become some big-shot laywer who lived alone in the city. I felt like it was option A or option B, but what I wanted was really a mix of those two lives, and I didn't know how to make it happen. I didn't know how it would all work out, but I'm glad that it all happened the way that it did, and I honestly have no regrets.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pregnancy Post: Week 27

Okay. So I think Kristal is on to something about the baby bump looking much smaller with clothes compared to without clothes. Case in point: these two pictures were both taken after work yesterday. And yes, the second one is black and white to better hide my stretch marks.

Here's what's going on this week:
-About half of my pregnancy books now say that I'm in the third trimester (the other half say the 3rd trimester begins at 38 weeks). If you divide 40 weeks by 3, that's 13.333, which means that the second trimester should end at 26 and 2/3 weeks, so I'm just gonna go ahead and say I'm in the 3rd tri, mmmkay?

-Lizard now weighs about 2 pounds, and is about 14 inches long (over a foot!). Survival rate for babies born now is about 85%, with medical intervention. Because there's such an increase in brain function this week, some experts say that it's likely that babies begin to dream. Also, she's kicking the crap out of my cervix, and let me tell you...that is a WEIRD sensation!

-I realized a couple of days ago that in 10 weeks, I'll technically be considered full term, and had a little bit of a freak out. I so do not feel prepared or ready for this!

-Heartburn. Leg cramps in the middle of the night. Shooting back pain. Changes in vision. And remember that weird pregnancy rash I had? Yeah, that's gone, but now my skin is peeling off every place that the rash was. Justin also informed me that he thinks I'm developing a linea negra. Thanks babe!

-At the end of the month I have to take the 1 hour glucose test for Gestational Diabetes, and I am SERIOUSLY freaked out about it. If I end up having GD and have to eat a diabetic diet for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will flip shit. I am half considering eating a pre-diabetic diet for like a week before the test to make SURE my blood sugars aren't tweaked out, but I kind of feel like that's cheating.

-I am not exercising nearly as much as I'd like to be. By the time I get home and cook dinner, I am absolutely exhausted. More and more, I'm coming to accept walking around Target on my lunch break or grocery shopping as "exercise".

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Work Decision.

This post has been a long time coming...and I'm almost scared to write it, because I have a feeling that there are a lot of people who read my blog that probably won't agree with the decisions that we've made. However, after an incredible amount of talking, prayer, and planning, we have made the decision that we believe we are being called to make. Be prepared...this post is going to be a doozy!

In early September, I wrote about a Bible Study that J and I attended, and part of it was based on Genesis 26:12. The question that we as spouses were supposed to use for discussion was:

What is God telling you and your spouse this year? Should you be doing something else, or even be someone else? Is your current job, or your current lifestyle what God is calling you to do? Do you want to argue the point (or pretend you didn't get the message), or are you willing to trust God's guidance?

This was a great blessing for us, because I think we were both feeling like we were supposed to be moving in one direction, but were having a difficult time doing so, because the logic didn't make sense to us. Though, I'm sure it didn't make much sense to Isaac either when God told him to pack up everything and move to Egypt, even though he feared for his life in doing so. Still, God blessed him because of his obedience. This thought, coupled with a lesson out of Esther really has become our rock over the last couple of months.

Justin and I priced out daycare in our area, and discovered that after daycare, I would be bringing home about $350 a month working full-time. I could make virtually that same amount working a two or three nights a week or over the weekends at a part-time, minimum wage job. I have no qualms about even working fast food if need be--at this time in my life, my priority isn't where I'd be working, just that we have the opportunity to provide for our family. Actually, I kind of think I'd enjoy something like working at Barnes and Noble!

The other big issue for us was insurance. We will likely be putting Lizzie on a private insurance plan. I will be applying for one as well, though we're not sure whether or not I'll qualify due to my allergies. If I don't, I can be added to Justin's work insurance plan. It isn't a great plan by any means, but it's better than a catastrophic-only plan. Some of the part-time jobs that I'm considering also have opportunities for insurance. And we're fortunate enough to have plenty of good health care clinic locally that work on a sliding scale.

So, we ultimately decided that I will not be returning to work once Lizzie is born. And once we made that decision, I can't tell you how completely at peace I felt, even though there are still some details up in the air.

Although some people advised us against this, I've told my bosses that I won't be coming back. I had a bit of a hard time with this, not because I'm unsure of my decision, but because it just seems so presumptuous. I don't really like to think or talk about this, but the truth is that not everyone goes into labor and leaves the hospital with a baby. Late loss happens. Still birth happens. It's a scary thought. Still, I won't let myself go through this preparing for the worst. So, the best thing in this situation was to tell my bosses early rather than later, and here's why:

First, my maternity leave is unpaid anyway, so it isn't as though I'd be "losing" that income. Second, my position is one that really takes about several months, if not a year, to learn. By telling my bosses now, they'll be able to bring someone on in the next month or so, to train alongside me for at least a month. This is really the best thing for the organization as a whole, and I don't want to burn any bridges there--I wouldn't mind going back at some point later in my life at all!

Now, as I said, there are still some details up in the air. Even with me working part-time, I'm not always entirely sure how we'll make it all work--it's a pretty big cut to our income. However, that's something that we'll have to deal with either way. Whether I'm working at this job and paying for daycare, or working part-time elsewhere and not paying for daycare, we'll be taking a cut to our income. That much is unavoidable. It's hard not knowing exactly where I'll end up working--but, I have to trust that doors will open when they should, whether that's through a part-time job, or photography, or whatever.

I don't usually do well with details that are still up in the air. But one thing that's been a tremendous help is for us to just to take a cue from Esther and consider what is the absolute worst thing that could happen? And when we look at it that way, it's suddenly a lot less scary. For us, the worst thing that could happen would be that I couldn't find a part-time job anywhere, and at the same time, Justin would lose his job. And then we'd have to exhaust all of our savings without either of us being able to find employment anywhere and exhausting unemployment. And then, we would have to be unable to find anyone to rent out our house while we lived with family while searching for jobs. And then, there's a chance that our house could be foreclosed on. And let me make this clear that while that's certainly NOT something that I ever want to happen, and would do everything in my power to prevent, it also wouldn't be the end of the world. We would still have each other, our faith, presumably our health, and families willing to support us during that time. And it's a lot less scary when you look at it that way. But I'm not gonna lie, it's still a little scary to make a move into such unknown territory!

Morning Chuckle

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Link Love: BHG's DIY Advice

How's that title for some alphabet soup, lol?

Anyway, I was pointed to Better Homes and Gardens' DIY Advice website a couple of weeks ago, and I've finally taken some time to sit down and see what sort of things they're able to help with, and I'm pretty impressed! They have sections on carpentry, drywall, plumbing, electrical, painting, and flooring, just to name a few. Check it out!

Speaking of DIY, what's the next project that you plan to tackle around the house?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Snippets

-I knitted my first baby bootie last night. It was also the first thing I've really knitted following a pattern, and it wasn't straight! AND, it only took about an hour to make! If you knit, check out the pattern at Ooo Baby Knits.

- I cannot even begin to tell you how thankful I am to have today off as a paid holiday! I'm vacillating between whether I want to just sit around all day, or clean the house from top to bottom. I'm thinking that I'll lounge around all morning, and maybe clean this afternoon.

-The nursery mural is done, and I am beyond excited, and can't wait until I can show you guys the whole thing!

-If you missed the Bacon Jalapeno Popper Dip recipe over the weekend, check it out (it's the next post down). Seriously, I don't even like jalapenos and I can't stop eating it!

-I'm totally stepping outside my comfort zone tonight. I was invited to a birthday party for some of the girls that I go to Bible Study with. I like all the girls, and I'm acquaintances with almost all of them, and they're all very nice to me, but they're also just a very tight-knit group, and sometimes I just feel like I'm on the outside looking in. It's not necessarily anything that THEY do, they've just all known each other for so long, and most of them are also in a young mom's group, that they have a ton of inside jokes, and they already know all about each other...and I can hardly keep their names straight! Anyway, Justin's the more "social" one between us, and sometimes I have a hard time opening up and being outgoing when I don't know anyone that well. But it will be good for me to be a little uncomfortable in this situation, I think. Plus, I'll get some sweet potato fries out of the deal!

-We found a dresser for the nursery. It was Justin's growing up, and actually his dad's before that. It's currently wood, but for some reason, Justin has NO PROBLEM with us paining it! It was his idea, not mine! We're making progress people! Also, Justin mentioned to his mom that I'd love to paint the table that we inherited from them, and almost all of his family said, "Yeah! You should totally do it!" Now, Justin is starting to seem somewhat on board with either painting it, or staining it to match our hutch and painting the kitchen cabinets white. I just have to make sure we do the dresser right so that I can convince him!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bacon Jalapeno Popper Dip

A co-worker of mine recently gave me a bunch of jalapeno peppers because she knows how much Justin LOVES jalapenos. The peppers weren't big enough to make Pioneer Woman's Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers, so I decided to try and make something else that would have similar flavor, but I could use the peppers with. Justin was being nice this morning, and so I took on attempting a Bacon Jalapeno Popper Dip, based on the Jalapeno Popper Dip from Big Red Kitchen.

Overall, I think it had pretty good flavor (and I don't even really like jalapenos). There ARE a couple things that I'd do differently, but I'll tell you what I did this time, and then tell you what I'd change:

-8 oz cream cheese, softened
-1/2 cup mayo
-1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a pizza cheese blend 'cause that's what we had)
-1/2 a jar of Hormel Bacon Pieces
-1/4 cup or so sliced fresh jalapenos with seeds OR a 4 oz. can of sliced jalepenos
-2-3 tablespoons jalapeno hot sauce (look near the Tabasco sauce)
-1/2 cup bread crumbs
-Another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. I used the pizza blend again, but I think parmesan would've been better.
-1/4 stick butter, melted.

Preheat oven to 375. Combine the cream cheese, mayo, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, bacon pieces, jalepenos, and hot sauce. Stir well with a fork until completely combined. Add more jalapeno, bacon, or cheese as you think is needed (I shot for an even consistency of all).

Combine bread crumbs, parmesan, and melted butter. Mix well, and add to the top of the dip mixture. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to overbake, or the mayo will separate. The breadcrumbs should be brown, and the dip just bubbling.

Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos.

Okay. Now for my notes. So, I thought there were just too many breadcrumbs. Next time, I'd probably reduce the breadcrumb mixture by half or just omit it completely. I would also definitely use Parmesan cheese with the bread crumbs instead of shredded cheddar or whatever else. I baked the dip for exactly 20 minutes, but I probably should have left it in a little bit longer...I freaked myself out about the mayo separating! Lastly, if you're making this for more than just snacking around the house, I'd probably double the recipe.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Burning Question of the Day: Universal Healthcare

Healthcare has obviously been a big news topic lately, and I'm curious to hear what you all think about universal healthcare.

Some of you may know that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not have a universal healthcare system. Would you support moving to a universal healthcare system? Why or why not?

Friday Morning Fun...

One of the TV shows that Justin and I have become addicted to this year is Glee. I know what you're thinking...I didn't have ANY interest in it whatsoever when it came out. But we ended up seeing an episode somewhere and we both thought it was absolutely hysterical.

This episode in particular, we were both laughing so hard we were crying. Especially since my brother's football team has their own song number that they do when they win--though it isn't nearly as good as this.

So, sneak away somewhere, turn up the volume, and take a look:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pregnancy Post: Week 26

Two bump shots this week--both taken on the same day. Why? To show you guys the weird phenomenon like I like to call the "shape-shifting bump". Sometimes, I have two little bumps, sometimes, I have one bump. Thoughout the day, it can look both big and small. I feel like I'm carrying low. What do y'all think?

In other baby news, we now have a nickname for the little bambino, and it's a pretty funny one--essentially, Justin usually adds "erd" or "ard" to the names of all our nieces and nephew (and sometimes other family members too). No, I don't know why. Payton is "Payterd", Logan is "Logard", and Shelby is "Shelberd". We've previously told Payton that she could call the bambino Lizzie instead of Elizabeth if she wanted...on Saturday, she told me that she wants to call the baby "Lizard". I think I like it!

Other than that:
-Lizard is now almost 2 pounds, or roughly the size of an eggplant.
-She's now beginning to open her eyes in utero--which will be blue when she is born (did you know almost all babies' eyes are blue at the time of birth?!), and will likely stay that way since J and I both have blue eyes.
-Pretty sure I've been having Braxton Hicks. Thankfully, they aren't painful.
-I've been having serious heartburn, which is apparently related to Lizard's hair growth. Maybe she'll come out with a full head of hair?!
-I've been having some abdominal pain and discomfort, but I'm pretty sure it's just due to things moving and stretching around. I haven't had any pain that causes me to double over, so I'm not too worried.
-The kicks had previously been pretty hard, and J was definitely able to feel them. However, the last week or so, I haven't been getting as many hard kicks, but have been getting lots of flips and the "popping bubble" feeling from early on. I wonder if she's changed positions?
-My work is throwing me a baby shower in November! It's my first one, and I'm excited!
-My boobs are out of control. They've grown a band size and two cup sizes already, and it appears they plan to just keep going up. I don't even want to *think* about when the milk comes in!
-We've made a decision about whether or not I'm going back to work, but you'll have to wait to hear more about that later...

Next week, I'll be in the third trimester. HOLY COW!!! In fact, I'm officially in the double digits in terms of days left to go--98!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wedded Wednesday

So, this training that I've been at for the last two days is really draining mentally and emotionally. I just don't have the energy to look or type for any particularly enlightening thoughts about marriage. Instead, I thought I'd share this cartoon, which ABSOLUTELY cracks me up, because in some ways, it is so Justin!

Instead, I thought I'd ask y'all a question or two about marriage:

1- What has been the most surprising-in-a-good-way thing about being married?

2- What has been the most difficult or unexpected part about being married?

3- How is being married different than dating, in your opinion?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Snippets

-Thank y'all for your kind words about the nursery--Renee really did a FANTASTIC job with the mural. I'm excited because this is the first time in decorating that I feel like what's in my head is actually translating to what's in the room, and I am so, so, excited about it.

-For the next two days, I have to be at a Sex Abuse/Sexual Assault training all day. Oye. At least I get to come home at night to decompress. I think I'll take my baby blanket with my to knit.

-Have I told you guys about Justin and Chinese food? Essentially, he hates it. I love it. And when there's a blue moon and we actually do go out for Chinese food, Justin orders the same thing every time, and his order cracks me up--Mar Far chicken, hold the Mar Far sauce, with Sweet and Sour sauce on the side instead. I have tried to tell him that his order is the same thing as Sweet and Sour chicken (with the sauce on the side), but he still orders the same thing every time. And I laugh hysterically every time. Anyway, I found a recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken and made it Sunday night (I doubled the sauce and added way more brown sugar), and he actually liked it!

-Meals for the rest of the week are Taco Puffs, Chicken Picatta, Bean and Rice Bowls, and Homemade Pizza.

-The "n" key on my laptop keyboard is going out. Rut roh!

-Doing photography as a job has always kind of been a pipe dream for me. I'd love to make a living doing it, and I'm considering really trying. I've dabbled with it before in the past, and it hasn't really fallen into my lap, which I know is to be expected any time you're trying to establish a new business. Still, I am terrified that I will fail. Because to me, failing would almost be worse than not trying at all. Because if I hadn't tried, it still exists as a dream that's a possibility in my mind. If I try and fail, I don't even have that!

-I tried to go to Target yesterday to buy some point black knee-high boots. I buy a pair there every two years or so and LOVE THEM far more than when I've actually bought designer brands from Macy's or elsewhere. Sadly, my calves are now too fat for the boots and I cannot zip them up. I need to find another pair somewhere or find another solution, because I seriously wear black pointy knee-high boots about 4 times a week to work during the winter.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Nerd

Have I mentioned that I'm a big book nerd? I am constantly reading. Right now, I'm reading We Were The Mulvaneys, which I've read before, but I think when I read it (middle school), I was too young to grasp some of the significance. It's really is like reading it for the first time. Anyway, I've been having a hard time finding books that I'm able to get into lately.

I searched online, and found an online book club's list of recommended reading (classics not included). Unfortunately, I had read, started to read but didn't like, or just plain had no interest in almost all of the books (see below).

So tell me...are any of the books that are still white worth the read? Are any of my purple (started but couldn't get into) books THAT GOOD that you think I should give them a second shot? Have another suggestion that isn't on the list but you think I might like?

Purple-Started, but didn't like enough to finish
Red- No interest

Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Gilded Chamber by Rebecca Kohn
Wicked by Gregory Macquire
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Skinny Dip by Carl Hiiasen
The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson Culler
Better Homes & Husbands by Valerie Ann Leff
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Gods In Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
The Whole World Over by Julia Glass
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Lucky by Alice Sebold
Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner
The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That by Lisa Glatt
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Middlemarch by George Eliot
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
My Life in France by Julia Child

Marley & Me by John Grogan
A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
Three Junes by Julia Glass
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
Good Grief by Lolly Winston
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Beach Music by Pat Conroy
Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
Diary by Chuck Palahniuk
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Twilight Series
by Stephanie Meyer
Outlander Series
by Diane Gabaldon

Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
Jesusland by Julia Scheeres
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philipa Gregory
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Shopholic Series by Sophie Kinsella

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Any book by Jodi Picoult (well, all except her most recent, which I own but don't want to read yet).

Nursery Sneak Peek

Just a little teaser for now, since it isn't done! Renee came over on Saturday to start on the tree mural, and I'm absolutely loving how it's coming together. Hasn't she done a great job?! I can't wait to see what it looks like once all the leaves are added on! At first, I was a little nervous about going with the darker wall color, but I'm loving how it looks with the white, and with all the white in the room, I don't think it will be too dark at all. I can't wait to see everything all together.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do for a rug for this room...I was thinking some sort of fluffy white rug, with a texture like this:

What do you guys think? Do you know the perfect rug that would work in the room?

Other than that, we're still working on layout a little bit. I'm sort of leaning towards putting a dresser/changer in the closet, since there's so little room in the actual room itself. I think that would probably work okay...we wouldn't have to worry about shooting pee all over the clothes like we would if it were a boy!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Review and Snippets...

- I read Anthem by Ayn Rand two nights ago. In one night. It was the shortest book I've ever read, and not really in a good way. I mean, I knew it was going to be a short read just based on the size of the paperback itself, but what I didn't realize was that the little bitty paperback was actually the book twice--once, the original story, and then also a version with Ayn Rand's corrections and revisions hand-written in. So, the actual story was only about 100 pages.

I had high hopes for the book, because I LOVE dystopian literature like 1984, A Handmaid's Tale, Cat's Cradle, etc. Plus, this book has over 250 five star reviews on Amazon. It's been touted over and over as a book that every American should read. Unfortunately, I just wasn't that impressed. The concept of individuality being banned by law was an interesting one, but um, Yevgeny Zamiyatin wrote a book called We, long before Ayn Rand wrote Anthem, that's almost exactly the same story. Reading Anthem, it really felt like blatant plagarism of We. Maybe Rand had never actually read We, but the main plot points of the story were just so similar that I had a hard time just reading the book, and not thinking about how similar they were. So, overall, I give the book a thumbs down. There are MUCH better offerings out there when it comes to dystopian literature--don't waste your time!

In terms of Snippets, here's what I've got:

-I was really excited to have a potential photography job from a complete stranger. She's 32 weeks pregnant with twins and her photographer backed out on maternity shots for this weekend. She wanted to know if I was available to do some any time this weekend. I emailed back and told her that I was available any time Sunday. She emailed back and said, "Oh, well I really wanted Saturday, because we're free at about noon, and that's when the light will be best, so I just went ahead and booked somebody else. " Well first of all, if you wanted Saturday, that would have been a good thing to say, not "any time this weekend". And actually, noon is not a good time to shoot at all, but whatever. Little bitter!

-I think my allergies from the smoke have turned into a cold. J has one two, and we're quite a pair.

-Football game tonight! My bro keeps trying to get me to paint my belly for the game. I told him that if they make state, I would...but from their record so far this year, I'm thinking that I'm in the clear!

-Renee is coming over to paint the tree in the nursery this weekend! I'm really excited! The boys are also assembling the crib....things are starting to come together! I still need to play with the layout of the room a little bit and figure out how a dresser/changing table would best fit. I struggle with always wanting to push furniture up against the walls...but I'm wondering if the glider might actually work best a bit away from the wall, more towards the middle of the room.

-The other day, Justin mentioned that our cat Bones always seems lonely, and wondered if we should maybe get another cat to keep her company. Of course, I'd love to get a kitten, but do cats really like to be in packs? I've always thought of cats as individualistic. Plus, what if they hate each other?!

Burning Question of the Day: Giving A Child Back After Adoption

In the past couple of days, a mother has made news with her article on New York Times' Motherlode blog about her decision to give up a child that she had adopted. You read that right. This mother adopted a child from South Africa who had been abandoned by the side of the road, and 18 months later, the mother decided that they weren't bonding, and so she went to an agency, and found him another home.

You can read an article about the situation here, and the mom's blog about the situation here.

Today, I'm curious what you guys think about this situation. Did Anita do the right thing by recognizing that she couldn't parent her adopted son, and consequently giving him up for adoption? Do you think she should be commended, or criticized?

I wish that I could say I was unfamiliar with this circumstance. Unfortunately, most of the teen cases that pass my desk are situations in which the teen was actually adopted, but when they reach those difficult teen years, the adoptive parents drop the kids off at child welfare, and say that they can't do it anymore.

Now, these are unquestionably difficult kids--they're often experimenting with drugs, stealing, having sex, and are pretty defiant. But my heart aches so often for these kids who more than anything, need someone to love them unconditionally, as a parent should.

The child that Anita adopted was unquestionably a difficult child who needed an extremely skilled set of parents, and probably needed to be the only child in the home. Frankly, I wonder why the agency approved the adoption in the first place. It's good that Anita recognized that she didn't love her adoptive son as her own, and consequently wanted to get him into the arms of someone who could, but on the other hand, 18 months is NOT much time when you're dealing with a child who has attachment problems--it can take YEARS of family interaction therapy.

Personally, I think a commenter on the Motherlode blog said it best when she said, "The question lingering in my mind is: If you had instead given birth to a difficult son after five daughters - a son who wouldn’t attach due to autism, for example - would you have put him up for adoption?"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pregnancy Post: Week 25

First of all, thank you to all my blog readers! Almost all of the outfit from today's post was courtesy of my first check from BlogHer Ads, which means that each and every one of you who come to view my page are directly responsible. Thank you!

But my weekly picture might as well look like a hot air balloon.

That's right folks, I feel like a blimp/hot air balloon/any other extremely large object pumped full of some foreign substance. The fact that one of the church ladies exclaims, "OH! It's the FATTIE!" every time she sees me does not help. She is not trying to be mean, but it is giving me a complex. Which means that this post is going to be largely dedicated to something that most pregnant ladies (or current mamas) will sympathize with, and most non-pregnant ladies will roll their eyes about (don't feel bad, I was an eye-roller too when I wasn't pregnant)--pregnancy weight gain. This post is going to be whiny. Feel free to stop reading now...I won't be offended. My goal with blogging about my pregnancy isn't to give you the puppies and rainbows account--it's to give you a real account of the joys and frustrations. And this week, weight has been a major frustration for me.

To give you some history, weight has always been a struggle for most of my family members. Most of us are large both in terms of height, and stature. That fact, coupled with being a rower in high school, led me to have a pretty distorted view of myself and my weight. You see, rowers are a lot like wrestlers in that they're always trying to cut weight. One of my coaches in high school was openly bulimic, and encouraged the team to make themselves throw up on the scale if we were above weight (you race in different weight classes). My other coach, was extremely health conscious, and used to have us record every bit of food that passed through our lips during the season. A few days before a race, we were given a list of exactly what we were allowed to eat and at exactly what time. It was ingrained in our heads what weight we "should" be, and what weight we should not go over, and it's still hard for me to see the scale go above that number. In high school, I didn't ever feel thin or fit, but looking back on pictures, I was pretty thin. When we got married, I felt fat and disgusting because I weighed more than I did in high school, but looking back, again, I was in pretty good shape. My BMI was at the upper end of "normal", but not terribly.

Just prior to finding out that I was pregnant, I had started seriously running. My BMI had creeped up into the "overweight" range, and I was trying to get myself back "under control" ASAP. I found out that I was pregnant, and although I was incredibly excited, part of me was disappointed, because I didn't want to start out a pregnancy "overweight". I had a number that I had determined that I never wanted to reach in my head, and I wanted to lose weight prior to becoming pregnant to ensure that I wouldn't reach that number. Now, I should probably mention that this wasn't something that my doctor had recommended or was concerned about (he still hasn't said a word), this was all something that was self-imposed, and was a by-product of my distorted self-image: at the time, and presently, when I look in the mirror, I see someone who looks just like the contestants on Biggest Loser...when they first arrive. People could tell me day in and day out that that's not the case, but it is what I see. Maybe it's what I'm afraid of.

Anyway, I did a lot of soul searching when I discovered that I was pregnant, and decided that I'd try my best to eat well, and keep to the recommended 20-25 pound weight gain over the course of the pregnancy (again, not doctor suggested, self-imposed). I had been doing pretty good with the weight gain as of my appointment earlier this month--about a 7 pound total weight gain as of my 20 week appointment. Yeah, until I went to my appointment yesterday, and had gained 10 pounds since the last appointment. Putting me at 17 pounds total gain, and above the arbitrary number that I did not want to reach. According to the online pregnancy weight gain trackers like Baby Zone, this puts me well above the maximum amount of weight that a person who began their pregnancy overweight should have gained. This is no doubt due to the increased pizza and ice cream that I've been eating, because it's what I'm actually hungry for. This is also no doubt due to the fact that I haven't been walking lately due to the fires and the fact that the air had been deemed unsafe. BLAH!

I know, you're all probably rolling your eyes and thinking "Meredith, get over yourself. You are growing a BABY. You don't need to be concerned unless your doctor tells you to be concerned, and if you are concerned, stop eating so much danged pizza!" The rational part of my mind is telling myself the same thing. I remember thinking the same thing reading the blogs of other pregnant women who were complaining about their weight. But let me tell you...I am eating my words now, because it is HARD. It's hard to feel like you have no control over your own body. It's hard to flip a switch and go from being all-focused on not gaining weight to being absolutely content to gain weight, because you know it's what your baby needs. And it's HARD for me not to wonder if I will ever be able to get the weight off post-pregnancy, and freak out imagining weighing this much for the rest of my life.

Don't get me wrong...this pregnancy is a blessing, and I am so grateful for this little life. But the reality is that I've just had a bit of a hard week mentally with this pregnancy weight-gain business...
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