Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I have no time to edit or make a tidy conclusion

Invaluable Baby Junk, Wynne and Erin edition. Here's all our favorite stuff.

1. Medela Pump In Style Advanced. We have a love-hate relationship, but without this pump, I couldn't give her any breast milk. I haven't used any others to know that this one is far superior, but I'm still fairly certain there's no better pump out there. It's as convenient as pumping can be. I'm able to have my hands free (thanks to Mike's patent-pending Sports Bra With 2 Holes Cut In It, so if you ever get one, forget spending money on the brand name "corset" or whatever, cause sports bras work perfectly). Plus Medela makes a million accessories that make breast milk storage very easy. And I hear good things about their customer service in the event that something is wrong with your pump, which is nice because you can't really wait a while for replacement parts like you can for, say, a toaster.

2. My Brest Friend pillow. I didn't get one of these until about two weeks in, from some terrific friends of mine who were so supportive during our nightmare breastfeeding stage. I had a Boppy to start with, and it was no fun trying to position her on it to nurse. It wouldn't stay up high enough so I ended up hunched over, and it sags in the middle and it just wasn't comfortable for us. I actually use it now as a sort of body pillow, and we get some use out of it to prop her up for tummy time, and despite the tag's admonishings, we've set her in it to nap, so I'm glad we have it too, but as far as nursing I found it pretty worthless. The My Brest Friend was such an improvement. It straps around your middle and clips in place so you don't have to hold it up, and it really supports the baby so you can have at least one hand free rather than needing both just to hold the baby in place. I don't nurse anymore, but if we were nursing exclusively, I would be using this pillow every day.

3. Miracle Blankets. We have 4 (from Uncle Johnny) and they are in constant rotation. People who aren't familiar with them are usually pretty wary of them, thinking we keep our baby in a straight jacket when "she just wants her arms free! i can't stand to see them pinned down! she's wiggling, it must be that her blanket is too tight and restricting! let her out!!" These people are nuts; swaddling is magical to babies. I am extremely reluctant to believe anyone who says their baby did not like swaddling. Wynne startles like a madman when her arms are free and can't stay asleep more than 5 minutes at a time. She'll bang herself in the face, scratch her eyes with her unwieldy fingers and scraggly nails (so bad at baby nail-cutting). And when she's fussy, swaddling is always the first thing we do to calm her down. It's not a pacifier in itself, but it helps her to stop flailing, keeps a fit from escalating, and gets her attention so we can do the other things that calm her down. I don't think I'll ever waste my time with any other sort of swaddling blanket. This one is specifically designed so that baby arms can't pop out (though she does manage to bend hers at the elbows sometimes, she still can't flail them all around), and I feel certain that none of us would be sleeping if we didn't have these blankets. Our moms, both of whom disliked the tight swaddle at first, have come around because they know how well it works.

4. White noise machine and hair dryer. We have a little white noise machine that runs on batteries (handy for travel but we have to change the batteries often) and a sound machine that plugs in that we keep in the corner of her crib that we turn on whenever she sleeps. She, and I wager this is true of all babies, does NOT like quiet. It's much easier to fall asleep, and more importantly stay asleep, with background noise. And when she's really fussy, all we have to do is turn on the hair dryer (on high. low isn't loud enough.) and she'll stop crying almost immediately. Again, some people think we keep it too loud, but it turns out babies are used to a decibel similar to that of a vacuum cleaner in the womb, so the noise has to be fairly loud to work.

5. Happiest Baby On The Block, a book (by pediatrician Harvey Karp) about calming fussy babies. I don't think there's any new secret information in it, but it presents things nicely so that I can understand them. Basically, the point is that until 3 or 4 months, babies are really still fetusy and not well-equipped for life outside the womb, so we should recreate the experiences they're used to in the womb. Sensible and helpful.

6. Playtex Vent-Aire bottles. We tried several (nuk, breastflow) and these are the ones that work best for us, despite their many many parts. No fun to wash, but really what is fun to wash? We use the wide bottles with slow flow nipples, because we wanted something that would be similar enough to breastfeeding that she wouldn't refuse to nurse, which is no longer an issue, but I still really like these.

7. Soothie pacifiers. We have The First Years brand ones and love them. We have several other kinds too and she'll take them just fine, but I like the soothie kind. As we JUST discovered, the Munchkin pacifier clips sold at Target will attach to these kind (with a little force) so they don't go flying whenever the baby lets go (which she does. a lot.), and in our house with concrete floors, and with crumbs and fuzz and my hair all over the floors, it's nice not having to chase after the thing and rinse it off every five minutes.

8. Footed sleepers that zip or snap. So much better than having to pull a onesie over a tiny baby's head. And who invented shirts for babies? There's nothing to keep them down around their bellies where they belong. They all ride up and bunch up under their armpits and you're constantly yanking the shirt down. For the same reason, gowns are hit-or-miss for us. I like having her in them at night so diaper changes don't wake her up too much, but they bunch too. Wynne pretty much lives in footed sleepers. The last few weeks, however, she gets really hot and sweaty in her carseat or when she's being held to nap, so we also use lots of short sleeved onesies to keep her cooler.

9. Pampers swaddlers diapers and Huggies wipes. For this baby, Pampers is it. We still get leaks (dirty diapers only; I guess this is bound to happen no matter what), but other diapers leaked with far less mess than Pampers. And I love Huggies wipes because they are very easily torn in two. I like working with a smaller square and feel like I can use the whole wipe more efficiently this way. I usually only need 1, torn in half, for wet diapers and 2 or 3 for dirty diapers. I want to switch to cloth diapers here shortly, so when we do I'll try to do a post about what we like and how it's going, but for now we're using disposables so we love Pampers.

10. Other brand stuff we use: Enfamil Lipil formula (it's sorta frothy, which for some reason makes me think it's gentle on her stomach), Earth's Best Organic whole grain rice cereal (flaky like instant mashed potatoes! i tried food processing brown rice myself but i'm gonna need a much sturdier blade to really pulverize that stuff), Trumpette baby socks (the only ones we've found that don't fall off), Rockin Baby sling (I love it, Wynne tolerates it in short doses; had to watch youtube videos to figure out how to get a baby in and out of it), Moby wrap (again, youtube videos are important. we used this a whole lot early on, now it's hit or miss), Chicco (evidently pronounced key-co) baby gear. We have a Chicco carseat, stroller, and play yard, and they are awesome. I really like the quality of Chicco products and that they have a variety of gender-neutral colors; Baby Luve bath covers, which cover her up in the bathtub so it's not all chilly and drafty on the parts of her that aren't submerged. I don't know what bath time would be like without them, and I don't want to know. We could probably use a large washcloth or a small hand towel to the same effect, but these are designed for a baby's shape and aren't as thick and heavy as regular towel terrycloth. We luve them.

So there you go. Lately, Wynne has been throwing the worst fits I've ever witnessed. She fights sleep every single time we try to get her down (except the middle of the night feeding), and it's gotten way worse this week. Hysterical red-faced screaming. I don't know if it's teething, some phantom pain I can't recognize, or just that she's chronically overtired, but y'all. It is sapping me of all my strength and patience, neither of which I had in abundance to start with. If I can distract her, usually with the hair dryer or standing in front of the bathroom mirror (she likes looking at our reflections) with the vent turned on for noise, sometimes the wailing will subside so that I can get her swaddled. Then I usually have to take her to a pitch black room (for us the bathrooms are the only rooms without windows) with some white noise, and rock her and pat her bottom (kinda hard) and smush her tight against me until she falls asleep. It's a production, and if it wasn't so stressful and terrible it'd probably be pretty funny. But I'm just throwing it out there in case it helps anybody else. Loud noise to distract her from the fit (hair dryer, bathroom vent, white noise machine, motorboat sounds, loud rattle- pill bottles work in a pinch), swaddle her (quickly! she hates being put down and having her arms pinned down- initially), pitch black dark room (no cracks of light, shadows, NOTHIN), pacifier, hold her tight so her legs don't feel free and she can't arch her back, rock/swing and pat her bottom and wait it out. Also lots of prayer thrown in there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Doing nothing all day takes up all of my time.

Wynne is 6 weeks old today, which both seems impossible and like it took forever. Currently she's hanging out with her Gigi while I pump. Most things I've read say you should pump for 15-20 minutes, but I find that milk is still coming (in tiny dribs; I rarely make more than 1.5 ounces per pumping session), so I usually pump for 30 minutes. It's no fun. It's mighty uncomfortable, and I'm tied down to one spot the whole time, unable to cook or clean or shower or even change positions, and I have to do it sitting up, otherwise the milk leaks everywhere and all is lost, and we're making do with a fairly old futon as our primary seating. It really doesn't offer a lot of support. And worst of all, I can't really hold the baby while I'm pumping, so I have to hand her off (often for a feeding, so someone else has to feed and burp her) and then she'll get comfortable and fall asleep, so I can't hang out with her again for a long time after I'm done cause I don't want to risk waking her up. I do not miss the agonies of nursing, but oh what I would give not to have to spend 4 hours per day pumping (to say nothing of the storage and clean-up afterwords). And we're still having to supplement with formula cause I don't make enough. I know it sounds awful to complain that I'm able to give my baby ANY breastmilk, cause I'm sure if I couldn't I would be furious with anyone who griped about it, but this is my situation and I am just saying, it wears me down. I can't help thinking every time I hook up the stupid pump that it would be so nice if all I had to do was pull up my shirt or mix up formula bottles when it was time for Wynne to eat. I'll keep pumping as long as I can, but I am not gonna be sorry when it's over. It's so good that babies are adorable, because some of the stuff I have to do for one is NOT cute at all. Wet and dirty diapers don't bother me, and I don't care when she spits up all down my arm when I'm trying to burp her (this is a feat, by the way. who knew? it sounds so simple in theory, but babies fling their little bodies all over creation and two hands is simply too few), but the lack of sleep is really catching up to me. I get pretty upset over what I know are actually very small things, and I have to really concentrate on enjoying middle of the night feedings instead of feeling sorry for myself for being awake and only having gotten two hours of sleep. Again, it's a well thought-out system, cause the middle of the night feeding is when she does the most smiling. This week her smiles are seeming more deliberate and intentional, rather than just those little sleep smiles we were getting before. I can't WAIT for my mama to see them when we go back for Thanksgiving. She will just melt.

Here's a picture of her in a precious pea pod outfit that Gigi made her. Tell me I don't have the cutest baby in the land.

At some point I'd like to write about all the baby gear we've found really helpful. Perhaps I'll get around to it before SHE has a baby. But no promises.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

And she smells yummy too

Hey don't be mad about how long it's been! Look at the squishy baby! This is our baby girl, Wynne Larue. She was born on the 4th and weighed 9 pounds 3.6 ounces (yeeouch!) and she is a precious ideal dream baby, except when she latches to nurse I nearly die of agony. I believe breastfeeding is important and special and I want to do whatever is best for my baby, but believe me when I say that I gave it everything I had, and for us, right now, it just is not going to work. So I'm pumping like a bandit and Wynne is getting breastmilk from bottles as well as formula from bottles and I no longer dread feedings or cry tears of fear and pain and despair onto her little punkin head. We are very, very happy, except it is misery being away from Mike and knowing all that he's missing and except for the times when I'm petrified that my supply is going to dwindle and dry up any minute now. But she really is the perfect baby. She sleeps like a dream and is so freakin cute that I don't even care that she likes to save up all her dirty diapers for the hours between midnight and 6am. Baby sneezes and baby hiccups are just about enough to do me in. And her little half-asleep baby smiles. Oh mah Lord.

Anyway this is about all I've got time for. Between feeding and pumping and washing and burping and holding and sleeping, my days are mighty packed. Full of love! It is weird and awesome having a baby girl.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Friends, I got nothin. I am so boring that even the Lord is like "meh," and he cares about everything. Here's what I know.

- Only 3 weeks til my due date. At my check-up yesterday I asked the midwife if she could estimate the baby's size, and after feeling around a bit she said maybe 7 or 7.5 pounds. If this seems normal to you, awesome, but to me it is hella scary. I was thinking she might would be 7 pounds when she came out and was none too jazzed about that, so now that I know we have probably passed that mark, I am extra freaky outy. I know millions of women do this, but I'm telling you guys, in terms of stretching and accomodating and expelling, it just doesn't seem possible. Also when asked if I was experiencing braxton hicks contractions, I said I don't think so, because there's been nothing especially unpleasant going on, but then she tried to explain how they feel by saying "it's like her rear end is pushing your belly and it gets hard for a minute," and I've been feeling THAT for about a month now. Soooo... I dunno what's going on.

- My right foot, and by about 5pm my left one too, is ready to cry uncle. Y'all, it is so puffy and fat that I can hardly wear a shoe. Any shoe. And I have the narrowest feet in the world, so in most shoes I've got a good bit of wiggle room. I know there are people who can't stand the sight of other people's feet, so I will spare you photographic evidence, but it is ridiculous.

- Fall. It is delicious, and it is coming. We've already made chili and cornbread, chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin scones, and cranberry apple crisp. Much to the dismay of grocers everywhere, it would appear, because apart from Ocean Spray NOBODY sells cranberries in September. I looked high and low for them yesterday, at two different stores, and they are not to be found. What gives? Why not have frozen cranberries year round the same as strawberries and raspberries and blueberries? With all this shopping and cooking I've been doing, it's no wonder my feet swell up like blimps, but you can't not cook delicious things this time of year. The SC State Fair is coming up, and pumpkins and apples and scarecrows and Halloween and Thanksgiving and orange and brown and yellow, and I'm just so excited I could pop. Everybody wear corduroys and drink out of mason jars and have desserts with apples and butter and oats and cinnamon and ice cream! (Once at a mexican restaurant my sister went to, the 'fried ice cream' was a blob of grocery store strawberry ice cream rolled in cornflakes. Cornflakes! Probably do not allow this travesty to be a part of your fall food library.)

- My Mama had a birthday last week, on the 11th. She does not read my blog, because she doesn't know of it, but she is just too great not to talk about. She does every single thing more patiently and thoroughly than I could ever have thought possible and she doesn't complain, and she always knows what's most important and always makes time for her babies, and she gets up every morning to walk on the treadmill, and she does my laundry, and she loves the Sound of Music and petits fours and James Taylor, and she makes room for dessert, and she can take care of everything, and everyone would be lost without her. Most especially me.

Here we are decorating my Christmas tree last year. If you can just ignore the fact that I'm wearing rubber gloves (the tree was stabby!). Also my weird shape (cookies are delicious!). Mama loves Christmas (it was her mama's favorite time of all), and I love her!

Monday, August 23, 2010

but not breyers ice cream. bleck.

I'm getting to the point where most of my dresses are a little too snug for comfort. So except for a few dresses that have a lot of elastic, I generally prefer shorts and shirts. It's tricky, because I can still get my pre-pregnancy shorts on (thank you Lord for this blessing; I assume it's compensation for the ankle swelling and stabby rib pains), but the button side and the button hole side are always about 3 inches away from each other, with no hope of meeting, so I have to use my belly band (which Erin gave me, and it is the single most useful pregnancy item I could imagine) to hold them up, and stuff all the extra material as flat as I can get it under the band. It's a little bulky, and every time I have to go to the bathroom I dread having to get dressed all over again, but my shirts mostly cover the unsightly part, and it's nice to be able to wear shorts, cause I'm not fond of the way my legs stick together in skirts and dresses.

My belly picture photographer left me in the lurch last weekend when he moved to Arkansas, so I'll need my parents to fill in for the remainder of the pregnancy, which is 42 more days. Forty. Two. DAYS. You know how sometimes your computer freezes for a few seconds and then does several commands rapid-fire to catch back up? That's how I feel when I think about how little time is left. Wha--- OMG42daysbutIdon'tknowhowtohaveababyletaloneholdoneandchangeherdiaperandgethertoeatandsleepwhatdoidowhenshecries.
On the whole, I'm not too stressed about the baby. There's tons of stuff I don't know, but I think that's probably always the case, and I'll just do my best and figure it out as we go. What I'm anxious about is that Mike won't be here with me for the first few weeks. He has to be in Arkansas to teach, and I'm having the baby here so that we can keep my insurance and the midwives I've been seeing all along, and so I can have help from our moms and families. They're experts, so it's not that I'm scared about doing it all ALONE, I just want Mike to be here too and not to miss out on stuff. I know there are tons of families who'd gladly trade for circumstances like ours, and all we can do is make the best of it until the baby and I can move out to Arkansas. I just wish things always went precisely like I wanted. Is that so wrong?

This weekend Mike's mom's friends threw me a baby shower, and it was fabulous. The food was great and we got TONS of stuff, and these ladies did the most awesome thing. While I was opening presents, one of them wrote down what the gift was and who it was from, and stuck it in a thank you note that they had ALREADY ADDRESSED FOR ME, so all I have to do is pull out the card, read the post-it to remember what that person gave me, and write the thank you note. I am the worst about thank you notes. Over half of my wedding ones are sitting at my house, thanking my friends and family from inside a cardboard box for the beautiful trifle dish. I always tell people NOT to write me a thank you note, because I know the trouble I have with them, and I have no interest in inflicting that on anybody. I am a very polite and thankful person, and I make a point to convey my extreme gratitude to people in person when receiving a gift, but thank you notes are just not my bag. I will do them for this child, though, so people don't think her rude. But she is gonna owe me. And with all the awesome stuff people are getting us, writing a note and buying stamps is the very least I can do. My aunt Julie even found us a Star Wars baby book. You can guess which parent will choose that one every night. And Mike's mom (GiGi to the baby) has already made the baby two quilts and she's not even HERE yet, so by the time she's mobile we should have her whole room padded a couple layers deep. My dad (Chief to the baby; he's a fireman) was not too far off when he said this child isn't going to need to buy anything for herself until she's forty. That's a lot of years to perfect her thank you notes.

She's been kicking and shifting and hiccuping like a banshee lately, and I fear that she's looking for more room to grow in there, when really, isn't 4 pounds more than enough for anyone to have to expel from their body? My belly button is stretching a little more every day (for some reason it really skeeves me out), so it can't be long now until it pops out. At my last appointment, the midwife told me that the baby is head down (woohoo!), so I suspect that the part of her that periodically presses against the middle of my stomach and makes a funny little protrusion is her rump. I also think she tends to stay to one side (my left), but still somehow she's taking up all my stomach's room, so I have to cut waaaay back on my portions at mealtimes, excpet usually I don't, and boy am I sorry twenty minutes later. And usually by the end of the day, I can't see my ankles anymore, and I have to get up 3 times every night to pee. Also I could fall asleep at any given moment throughout the day, and often do nod off at my desk. But that's it for pregnancy issues. So far she's been a very easy baby. And I can already tell she accepts ice cream in lieu of thank you notes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What do you mean, my mothering skills have more to do with how she turns out than my baby registry?

The last few weeks, all I've really been doing is registering for baby things. It's a little silly how much stuff there is for babies, and I'm doing my best to research what we really need, which brands get the best ratings, which things lots of moms seem to love, and where to find things the cheapest, but even with all that work, it's still just a big guessing game, because there is no guarantee that any of it will work for THIS baby. Maybe she'll hate being in a sling and love taking baths, or maybe the clown toy that ALL BABIES LOVE! will scare her senseless. (It is a little creepy-looking, I'll admit.) Having a baby is a lot like saying "you know my life's all right, but I could really go for some more mysteries and surprises."

Yesterday was my work baby shower, and we really raked in the goods. I've got some very generous coworkers, several of whom have had babies since I started here, and they know what they're doing as parents, so that's been great for me. One of the moms apologized for getting me something that isn't on my registry (stacking cups for the bath, one of which she says is really useful for rinsing out shampoo). I made no bones about informing her that I don't know WHAT I need, and she should feel free to make whatever suggestions she pleases. I'll take all the help I can get, here, people. Her daughter has made it safely to 18 months, and if those bath toys will put us on the same path, then bring them on!

In real estate news, our house is finally ready to go on the market! So say a prayer that we can sell quickly and for close to what we owe, because SC house mortgage + AR house rent + new baby - Erin's income is not a desirable equation. It's a great house, and I'm really going to miss it. I already do, in fact, though I know it's far from an ideal setup for a baby. The master bedroom is the only downstairs bedroom, so we'd have had to convert the closet (which is way big enough) into the baby's nursery for a while. And while that would have worked great and been totally fine with me and Mike, I don't think my Granny would ever sleep again if she thought I was keeping my baby in a closet. Speaking of the nursery, here is the one item we have purchased for it. Try not to die of cuteness.

Mike is getting ready to head to Arkansas to start teaching, and since I won't be joining him until October at the earliest, I feel like I need to make him a bunch of food to last him until we get there. Not that he's used to home cooked meals every day, but if I can't be there, I can at least send him with enough food that he can eat every time he misses me. I quite like cooking, but can I tell you how much better it would be if I could sit down the whole time? And not because I'm pregnant, either, although my ankles have started swelling at night if I'm on my feet a lot during the day (and my shins feel really tight- is this normal?). I just hate standing up for that long. For my money, standing is just something you have to do in order to get from one seat to the next. But it's tough to get things done in the kitchen without being on your feet, which explains how the inventor of Crocs is laughing all the way to the bank. Anyway so I'm trying to find recipes that freeze well, both to send with him and so I can fix a few things before the baby (for whom we still have not settled on a name) arrives. Got any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Here you go! Don't say I never do anything for you.

Hey look! Pictures!!

So the first one (below) is 17 weeks. I know there's a bra hanging on the door, and I'm sorry, but I can't crop things.
Then this one is 20 weeks. We didn't know it was a girl yet, and I have no explanation for the weird gaps that appear in my hair, or the lack of make-up. Or the horrendous pile of laundry. I wear that red dress on a weekly basis because it's really soft and comfortable and is one of the few dresses I own that hasn't become too tight for me to take a deep breath. Elastic is my closest friend. This one was 23 weeks, so now we know she's a girl. I do not know two people who are less inclined to take pictures than Mike and me. We are awful at it, which is why there's such a gap between weeks. Also the change of scenery is because by this point we had moved in with my parents to try and clean our house and get it sold. It's still not on the market. If you are fairly lazy before pregnancy, I can tell you now that you don't have a prayer of accomplishing anything when pregnant.

Here is 27 weeks. Raggedy Andy looks on, probably fearing for the well-being of the child who has this pale, frizzy goober for a mother.
And finally, here is 29 weeks. I'm really sticking out now and strangers ask me when I'm due and how I'm holding up in the heat. I do not ever advocate talking to a woman as if she were pregnant unless you are sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that there's a baby in there, but since I am in fact pregnant, I don't mind it too much. The pan on the stove in the background is mine, and it's glorious for cooking pot roast, but a few months back I scalded the fool out of it by turning on the wrong burner, upon which the empty pan was resting, and leaving the burner on for upwards of half an hour before figuring out a) why the pan of beans I was TRYING to heat was still cold, and b) why it smelled like hot metal and I kept hearing strange popping noises. I'd like to be able to blame this on "pregnancy brain," but I've been turning on the wrong burner on that stove for far too long on my own for that to be the case.

So there you have it. If we've learned anything from these pictures, it's that pregnancy has caused me to stop putting any effort whatsoever into fixing my hair. This does not bode well for my appearance once the baby actually arrives, so this may well be the last set of photos you ever see of me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

So do you have any frozen chocolate-flavored glucose drink?

Well Mike found the camera-to-computer cord, so I'm hopeful that soon I can get you people some belly pictures! Though I will say now, they are nothing special. I am not, for instance, wearing the same thing every time, or holding something that's equal in size to the baby, or taking pictures with any regularity, or any of that fanciness. So. You've been warned.

This weekend Mike and I hung out at his parents' pool with some friends of ours and their two kids, who are 5 and 6. For some reason the 5-year-old calls Mike Frank, which I find hilarious. And he announced to us that he was going to change into a girl. Named Teresa. Which Mike found hilarious. Kids are the best, right? And, out of the 6 of us, only I got sunburned. ::sigh:: I know. But I would like to point out that I applied Mike's sunscreen for him and HE didn't get burned, so. You don't have to worry about me slow-roasting our children. Only myself.

These days, I'm trying to map out a 4th of July menu and figure out if we can swing a beach trip before summer is up (it's not looking good for us, atlantic ocean) and register for baby things (us either, financial viability) and not eat all the chocolate ice cream in the land. It is so hot, and this baby is a chocolate ice cream fiend. The other night we went out for ice cream, and I ate all of my rainbow sherbet and drank about half of Mike's chocolate peanut butter shake. And that was after I ate half his onion rings. That might help explain why I got fussed at by the midwife this morning for gaining too much weight. : ( I'm up 23 pounds since my first appointment at 8 weeks and am on track to gain a pound a week from here on out. That makes 37 pounds by the time it's all said and done. Yikes. She did say I was "way underweight" to start out (which, HA and OH BLESS YOU), but right now I'm 5 pounds over what I should be. I do think I'm taking in more calories now than I ought to be, mostly in the form of starches and salt, and I know I'm eating more sugar than I ever have before, so I can cut back on that and eat more fiber so that I fill up faster. But, my question is, how feasible is it really to expect to LOSE any weight during pregnancy? I'm probably just going to have to work like a beast to drop the extra weight afterwords, right?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stop being so unpleasant, I'm trying to love you!!

My parents have been out of town this week, so I've had to plan meals not only for Mike and me but for my Granny too, since she's at a point where she can't really cook anymore. She'll put biscuits in the oven, sit down to wait, fall asleep, and wake up 30 minutes later to burnt biscuits. She can't stand long enough to mix anything up or even watch a pot, so she relies fully on meals we provide for her not just at dinner but also for her lunches, when we're all at work. And her memory is a little fuzzy, so she'll forget we've left her a plate in the fridge or not realize it's lunchtime and go all day without a real meal. It's frustrating for us having to take extra measures to be sure she doesn't starve or only eat snack food, particularly when my mom and I are both trying to get ourselves ready and out the door in the mornings, but mostly it makes me sad. Growing up, whenever Emily and I spent the night with Granny, she'd cook anything she could think of that we might possibly want. She would make huge meals for the whole family, all by herself, and never complain. She loved it. She still tries to be that person, offering to help in the kitchen and always asking "what can I do?," but she's just not capable of doing most of what needs done. I know she'd give anything to feel like she was contributing, and she can't stand feeling helpless or uninvolved, so I try to be patient and find ways to include her. I'll take all the help I can get, but when it takes 20 minutes to cut a bell pepper it's hard to classify it as 'help.'

She's also become a lot more blunt in recent years, making disapproving faces when she doesn't understand something we're making or hears that we're having any sort of pasta or chicken. (She does NOT like chicken, which she will passive-aggressively remind us of by saying "we've had enough of that lately!" when she hasn't had any in weeks. I guess maybe it doesn't have any taste for her so she's not interested.) She'll start eating from her plate the second I put it in front of her, even though nobody else has been served or seated and we haven't said the blessing. (Mike will attest that this sends me into a rage. OMG SO RUDE.) She struggles to breathe when she's eating, so meals are always a smack-y, noisy affair, and we can count on at least one bout of coughing and choking per meal. She takes pills with her meals but often forgets to bring them and will ask "did you remember my pills?" or say "we need a supper pill" and tap the piece of table where she wants them to be, as though it were anyone else's responsibility but her own and how could we be so stupid? And no matter how much is on her plate, she will finish every. single. noisy. bite. and then give us the "where's dessert?" face. Sometimes it's a lot like having a 79-year-old preschooler. I love cooking and I really love eating, but those tend to be the most stressful, tense parts of my whole day when Granny is involved. When I do get frustrated, like I was last night, I try to tell myself that she has done way more for me than I will ever do for her, and she doesn't WANT to be this way, and then I feel like a huge jerk for being short with her and give her extra ice cream with dessert and aim to do better next time, because when she's gone I don't want to worry that she so much as entertained the idea that we'll be better off without her.

Anyway I started writing this to tell you about the dessert I made last night. It was so awesome. I got the recipe from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. I bought blueberries on sale last week without a plan for how to use them and I didn't want them to go to waste, so I was really excited to find a recipe that wasn't for scones (so time-consuming) or pancakes (so blah). It's got pretty much the best name I've ever heard for a dessert, and it is delicious beyond my capacity to convey deliciousness. We had it with ice cream, because I was worried it would be cake-y and rather dry, but I wound up eating most of it by itself because it just didn't need any ice cream. And then I had more for breakfast. And I'm wishing I'd brought the whole pan to work so I could have it for a snack and lunch and then another snack too. Seriously, make some.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's true she IS growing!


IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!!!

We found out yesterday. And I can hardly believe it. She seems so REAL now!

Only a couple people are allowed in the ultrasound room at a time, so I went back with Mike and his mom first. The plan was for the three of us to find out what the baby is, then switch out and I would tell my mom and Emily. So the ultrasound tech did all the routine anatomy and measurements (1 pound 3 ounces!) and said "okay, we can switch out now." I figured maybe she was planning to do all of it over again for Mama and Emily, so I guess it didn't occur to me that hey, she didn't say what it is yet. Mike was like "uhh... when do we find out the sex?" Oh right. That. ::sigh:: Can't the momentous occasions in my life not be marred by awkwardness as a result of my not knowing what on earth I'm doing? I mean, what is my deal? Before me, has anybody in the history of babies ever attempted to shoo their husband and mother-in-law from the room before they've heard whether it's a boy or a girl?

So the tech starts looking, but our sweet baby had its legs all stuck together (mermaid baby?). I wish I could remember the tech's name, but hello, clearly I'm awful at this, so I have to call her the tech. The tech smashed the doppler wand around on my belly to get the baby to move around. It worked, and she said rather softly "it's a little girl!"

Y'all. I was floored. I actually said "no it's not!?!" because I was so sure she was going to tell me it's a boy. I had a very quick moment of prayer that took a lot less time to think than it takes to read through. "Does this pregnancy's awesomeness know no bounds? October, arguably the best birth month. No agonizing trials or years-long wait for my baby. No morning sickness, nothing worrisome or abnormal or painful. AND I get to buy tu-tu bathing suits and watermelon dresses???" I am seriously in awe of how much love God has for me. Back in April for my birthday, my stellar friend Brock gave me some ballerina socks for my baby. We had no idea what it was yet, but she said she just couldn't resist. And I thought Lord, if this baby is a boy, I'm going to ask that you take away my love for these socks. If I were a better listener, I'm sure I would have heard him being like "Woman. Stop stressing out. It's me, the God who loves you so much that I give you exactly what you need." I'm not proud that I had to be reminded of that, but I can't think of a more awesome way to be reminded.

And look what her aunt Emily bought her!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

He wants us to change our last name so he can be Dr. Danger. Would that fly in the Natural State?

Here is what I know about Arkansas:
1. It's the Natural State!
2. Razorbacks
3. It's about a 13 hour drive from South Carolina. Don't ask me how long a flight it is, because until Southwest comes there is no direct flight from here to there.
4. A tiny little university whose school of business you're all going to wish you could attend because the smartest, hottest, funniest professor of all times now works there.

What do you know about Arkansas?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Underwhelming You Monthly, Edition May

You know how sometimes you can feel someone staring at you, but you pretend you don't notice because you don't want them to be staring at you and you don't want to talk to them? That is what I'm doing when you come see if I've written anything new in the last four weeks. So. I've been very busy.

This week is the halfway point in my pregnancy! No real news-worthy updates I don't think. I felt the baby move for the first time a couple of weeks ago after an employee appreciation lunch, and since then it's been pretty quiet. A few pokey movements that could be a baby or could just be my insides trying to digest all the nonsense I send down there. I've got an appointment on Thursday, but at my practice they make you wait until 22 weeks to do the big ultrasound, so this week's is just a regular check-up and I'll go back in 2 weeks for the important one (therefore we have not yet registered for anything). I'm starting to show, but in a way that sometimes looks like baby (I find dresses to be most flattering) and sometimes looks like a girl who refuses to buy clothes in a size up because she's in denial about how well everything is fitting (t-shirts and shorts, you are dead to me). My mama and I went to Target this weekend and I bought three of the same cotton skirt because they're extremely soft and comfortable, so if you actually see me in person or pictures for the next few months, you should expect to see a lot of outfit recycling. I have taken exactly 1 belly picture, back at 17 weeks, which in truth looks the same as if I'd taken it 18 weeks before that, but I will begin regular photographing this week since I feel like I have something to show. Don't let me forget!

Also this weekend my mama and I painted a room in her house. Initially the plan was for Mike to help (a lot), but he got sick and spent the weekend developing an addiction to nasal spray, so we did it without him. All weekend. We had planned to go to a baby thing at a convention center this weekend but couldn't fit it in with all the painting. So every time I look upon those walls, it'll be a sweet reminder of all the things I still don't know about babies. Really though, I feel decently equipped because I'm not that different from a baby in a lot of ways. Mostly I want to eat, sleep, and play, and I've been known to pitch a righteous fit when something doesn't go my way. The hard part is just that now Mike will have to deal with two of us. Boy is he in for it.

Lastly, I bought some Crocs. In my opinion, Crocs are rather ugly. Particularly the traditional ones with the big fat blob with holes all punched in it. To my eye, they look silly on anybody's feet. So I tried to fight it, but when Emily told me how much better her legs and feet feel after a day in Crocs than in regular shoes, I couldn't resist. I don't know if I have a dreadfully low pain threshold or an unusually vigorous walk/stance, but if I spend more than about fifteen minutes on my feet at a time, it hurts. After a day at the mall or any kind of event that requires a lot of standing or walking, or being on my feet in the kitchen cooking, it's like I'm walking on raw, bare bones. Really unpleasant. So I bit the bullet and ordered some Crocs. I've worn them once when I had to stand up for about 30 minutes and several times to cook, and I can't be sure if it's all the shoe or partly the shoe and partly my brain thinking I'm supposed to feel different, but I can tell a difference. So I am currently debating whether or not to get another pair. And that's about all I've got going on.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm 0.12% baby! And 30% peanut oil.

This morning I had my 16-week doctor's appointment. Everything looked good, so it went very quickly. Just a little specimen and blood pressure check, then a fast and tiny heartbeat, and we were out of there. Oh yeah, and I've put on about 5 pounds in 4 weeks. I'm sure some of it is water, and although my pants are getting tight, my rings aren't fitting any more snugly, so I don't know how much to trust the scale. But it's still disheartening, and a little embarrassing, because based on what I reported as my pre-pregnancy weight, my chart shows a 9 pound gain so far, and sources say that at 16 weeks the average fetus weighs about 2.5 ounces. OUNCES. I can't even bring myself to do the conversion to know how many of those I've gained. And there's only one fetus in there, so I have no choice but to assign the other 4.9 pounds to french fries, chicken fingers, and cheese.

Basically, unless I want to give birth to a salt-encrusted deep-fried baby, I've got to take it down a few nothches in terms of sodium and instead have an apple or a salad or some air. That should be a cinch, particularly since we're having a cookout this weekend for Mike's birthday with steaks and twice baked potatoes and onion rings. I guess I ought to install some counter space across the arms of my treadmill so I can make dinner while I preemptively burn off all of those calories. Although maintaining a brisk clip and wielding a sharp knife sounds like a recipe for birthday disaster. But if I do end up in the hospital, at least I can request the no-sodium meals they give to heart patients.

I don't really think my diet is that bad overall. I've noticed my appetite has increased over the past few weeks and I'm eating more at every meal, so I know that's not helping. I could certainly stand to add in some daily exercise, and I need to lessen the frequency with which I go places that have fried food. As it turns out, I'm too weak to resist when it's there, so the best solution is to do more of my own cooking, which will be easier now that Mike isn't gone half the week. I hate buying groceries when we're rarely there to eat them, but now there's no excuse. Plus the longer I can make it in my regular wardrobe, the better, because I can think of a million ways I'd rather spend my money than on maternity clothes. Lucky for me, my mom and Mike's mom have given me several maternity shirts and a fantastic pair of maternity dress pants, and a lot of my shirts and dresses will work for most of my pregnancy. Erin asked if I was going to post belly pictures, and I'd be happy to, except there really hasn't been any change yet, but I guess what's the point of the pictures if there's not a starting point, so I'll try to remember to have Mike take one when I get home and put that up later. For you, Erin.

So in 4 weeks I'll go back for another regular checkup, and 2 weeks after that will be the ultrasound that tells us whether we'll be getting my little ponies or hot wheels at the drive thru! Except at Chick-Fil-A when I plan to always ask for the ice cream instead of the toy. Did you know you can do that with their kids' meals? Just thank 3 of my pounds for that tip.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm going to need to work on throwing a ball and making noises

I think this baby is a boy. People say your instinct is usually right, but I wouldn't really say I KNOW it's a boy or that I have secret mom instincts about it. I suspect it may be my brain's way of trying to gear me up for the possibility of not a girl, because I know absolutely nothing about little boys (circumwhat?), and their clothes bum me out. Erin and I have talked about this before. I feel like I've been to enough stores to have a pretty good idea what kinds of things are out there for boys. Sweet pastel-colored smocked jon-jons, and then onesies and shirts with cars, balls, tools, stripes, farm and sea and jungle animals, dinosaurs, monsters, nautical things, and "mommy's lil so-and-so." And that's about it. No skirts, no dresses, no ruffles or frills or pink or even purple. I know that this is a tiny tiny complaint, not the end of the world, some people have REAL problems, and hey, I can spend more money on my own clothes this way! But there's just something about a little yellow bathing suit with a tiny tu-tu sewed on, and you can't put your son in that. Can you?

So tell me what you (would or do) like about having boys. Also I am taking name suggestions, because currently my list reads like a bunch of last names. That end in -n. Names that end in -r are discouraged since our last name ends in -r also. We won't have the boy/girl ultrasound until the very end of May, so I've got a while to go before we know for sure, but I'm still trying to focus on the boy names and clothes and nursery designs in the mean time so as not to get my heart set on pink ruffly things. I absolutely won't be disappointed or sad if my baby is a boy, just to clarify. I don't have a preference for the baby itself; it's just that everything about boys is so new and foreign.

This week marks 100 days of pregnancy! So far I really have not felt pregnant, save for having to pee a lot more often. I haven't been sick at all, and I don't think I've gained any weight yet (or Mike is monkeying with the scale, and that would be all right), but the weight does seem to be distributed differently. My clothes fit a little tighter around the middle and it's harder to suck in my fat, but also I feel like maybe my love handles are being pulled forward, so I look a little worse from the front but a little better from behind. I get full a lot sooner, and between meals I have absolutely no appetite, whereas before I could pretty much always eat, so that's been difficult to get used to, though I wonder if that is how regular people feel all the time between their meals.

The thought of tomatoes turns my stomach and I don't ever want to see lasagna again, but other than that there haven't been any food aversions or noxious smells. I always want salty or tart things like fried or cheesy things and fruit and lemonade, but that was the case even before the pregnancy. So my diet hasn't been stellar, but certainly no worse than before. I try to get in lots of fruits to counteract all the veggies I'm not eating, since I'm not interested in bitter or earthy-tasting things like bell peppers or carrots or mushrooms or beans (unless they're covered in butter or cheese or dressing), or things that have a peanutty taste (which sadly includes Chick-fil-A chicken, since it's fried in peanut oil, but it's so salty and good going down that I eat it anyway). I haven't had any freaky dreams, but they all seem so REAL. Really vivid and like actual life. My aunt Pam had two dreams, before she knew I was pregnant, that I was having a baby girl, and she says she's always heard that the baby is the opposite of whatever you dream, so there's that. Really I think God knew what it was before I even existed, and no amount of Chinese lunar calendar studying or salty cravings or baby girl dreams or ballerina swimsuits is going to change that, so my prayers are mostly of the "help me find the best boy stuff and don't let me mess up our baby" variety. And of course I'm praying for a healthy baby. What's more important than that? Not ruffles, that's for certain.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Think I can recycle the gift for Mike's sister?

I know how boring it's gotten around here lately, and I am going to do a lot better starting next week. For now, I'm just popping in to say that I hope you have a fantastic weekend, cause I won't be back for a few days. Tomorrow we're headed down to Charleston for the weekend to celebrate Emily's and my birthday. We'll be 24! I got her a present, but I sort of feel there's like nothing I could buy to say just how glad I am that she's my sister, so Mike and I decided to make her something too. An aunt!

Monday, March 22, 2010

So who'd you vote for on Dancing With The Stars?

The only things I've been up to lately are cooking, watching tv, and sleeping. I've started to think I might ought to cut back on how much tv I watch, because at the end of the day I generally find myself wondering where all the time went and how I accomplished so little. But then I wonder how much more I'd really get done, because gang, I am lazy. And tv is entertaining. I just get the feeling that other people are getting more enjoyment from life than I am. I don't know. I tend to be a little bit jealous of pretty much everyone, so it's probably just that the grass seems greener on the other side, but has there ever been a case of somebody saying "I regret the decision to watch less tv."? Or "I shouldn't have left the house on this beautiful day in search of fulfilling activities."?

On the food front, to prove that I don't ONLY watch tv, last week my mom and I made some amazing Philly cheese steaks, despite not really following a recipe and never having cooked meat that way before. The key is butter. And we also made some reeeally awesome funnel cakes. Oh gah they were good. Then on Sunday night I made velveeta and rotel dip, which is always delicious, and my aunt Julie and my cousin Jessie made burgers that were exponentially better than any I've ever made. Why do other people's hamburgers always taste so much better than any I make myself? What do you put in your burgers? Mine always end up dry and only taste like pepper. Somewhere I saw a guy put butter in the middle of his burger patties to keep them from drying slap out on the grill, so next time I will try that. With a side of bacon fat.

The spring weather we've had this week has been making me want to cook out and also have a picnic, so Sunday I got to cross off cooking out (even though technically it was inside and on the Foreman, it was still burgers on the grill), and tomorrow I get to cross off picnicking! Some friends and I are having a picnic at the park after work, and I am pretty pumped about it. It's going to be so pretty out and I could really use some sun, not to mention delightful picnic fare.

Spring has also made me want to chop off all my hair, something like Jessica's from What I Wore, but curly hair is a real drag because if you pick a hairstyle that's intended for straight hair, it usually looks positively heinous in curls. That haircut of Jessica's is short and blunt and so sassy, but if I got it and then wore my hair curly, everyone would feel like they were watching the season of Felicity where she chopped off all her hair. Minus the goth friend and love triangle. Ultimately I'm probably not going to wind up doing anything to my hair and it'll just keep growing until only a professional can put down the split end mutiny. Which is probably what happened to Keri Russell.

Monday, March 8, 2010


This weekend Mike and I went to see a play with his parents, who have season tickets to a community theater. I've been going with them since we started dating, and there've been a few duds (Inherit the Wind? More like Inherit a Nap), but the plays are usually really fun and entertaining (Noises Off is my favorite so far). This month's, however, was a dud, in my opinion. A Streetcar Named Desire. I won't go into all the plot details, but it's about as far from a light-hearted night at the theater as you'd ever wish to get. Analytically speaking, I think the takeaway is not to marry someone with a different sexual orientation than your own, because if you do, when you realize it and blurt out in the middle of a polka that he disgusts you, the shame will cause him to kill himself, and that will send you into a boozy spiral of prostitution, foreclosure, and despair. And maybe don't name your kid Blanche, either. Both good suggestions, but Tennesee Williams took about 2 hours to get his points across, and here I've done it in 2 sentences. Let's move on.

Next month I'm responsible for creating a mix cd to send to 10 other people, and I am really starting to feel the pressure not to be the square who uses songs everybody's already tired of. These people are a special kind of hip (and possibly a little snobby, but don't tell them I said so) when it comes to their music. The 2 cd's I've gotten so far have had a combined 3 artists I recognized. So, I need some help. Do you have any suggestions? What are your favorite songs? My mix is probably going to be fairly odd, with some hip-hop and some light rock and some upbeat dancey songs and some mellow indie-rock stuff, so nothing is off limits, except country, and if I have to tell you why then you could probably benefit from a copy of my cd. Heh. See what I did there with the snobby music hipster condescension? Really, I will appreciate any and all contributions, whether they're obscure or everybody knows all the words. So help me!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

If you eat weird things, now is the time to confess

Recently I got to thinking about all the meals my mom made when Emily and I were younger that we haven't had in a while, so last night I made my mom dig up her recipe for chicken enchiladas. And they are every bit as delicious as I remembered. They're not fancy, and if you happen to be some sort of enchilada snob you probably wouldn't concede that they're enchiladas, but oh man. I'm sharing the recipe because it's easy and we loved them as kids and we were horifically picky eaters.

10(ish) soft tortilla shells
1+ lb chicken, cubed or shredded
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 8-oz tub sour cream
2 cups shredded mexican cheese
1/2 cup pureed salsa

Now I'm not sure if pureeing the salsa is an integral step, or if my poor mama did that because otherwise her children (and husband) would be like, "ew, what are these green chunks? ::gag::" It's up to you, but I didn't like chunky salsa then and I don't like it now, so we pureed it. Also the recipe calls for just 1 pound of chicken, but we actually used about 1.5 pounds, cubed, and could only stretch it to fit 9 tortilla shells. And even then they were a little skimpy, so I think in the future I'll use 2 whole pounds, and I'll shred it rather than cube it.

So what you do is cook the chicken, and while it's cooking mix together the cream of chicken, sour cream, salsa, and half of the cheese (that's 1 cup). Add the seasonings to the chicken once it's cooked (probably fine to do that at any point), then add a third of the sauce to the chicken. Coat a 9x13 (or whatever dish) in half of the REMAINING sauce, then spoon the chicken mixture into tortilla shells and roll 'em up like enchiladas, lining them up in the pan as you go. Once you've got 'em all situated, pour the last of the sauce over the top and cover it with the other 1 cup of cheese. Then bake it at 350º for 30 minutes.

You see what I mean about it not being complicated, or complex in flavors. But it's very good, if you happen to like casserole-type chicken dishes. I don't know why I feel the need to apologize for the dish. If you don't like the sound of it, just don't make it! And also, don't tell me, because what is worse than when people are grossed out by you?

Remind me to tell you about how I also ate peanut butter and cheese sandwiches when I was little.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anything for you, hush puppies.

When I got home from work on Wednesday I did the 30 Day Shred. I think it actually may have been day 30, but days 1-29 were almost a full year ago, so I get the feeling Jillian wouldn't be okay with me saying I completed the thing. It was pretty exhausting and I am still sore today. It's probably a good idea to do the workout when I've got more energy, rather than at the end of the day when I'm tired and hungry, but right now I just can't bring myself to wake up 40 minutes earlier to fit it in before I leave for work. Do you exercise in the mornings?

I used to believe that food was just too good, and I was going to have to bite the bullet and exercise more to balance out all the delicious salt and fat, but about 15 minutes into the shred yesterday I was singing a different tune. Please Jillian, I will stop eating french fries and bread if you don't ever make me do this again, oh God not the side lunges. And she even tries to dumb it down for me. "Beginners, follow Anita." I'd feel a lot better about her as a leader if she were also panting and grimacing and using her dad's work boots instead of those unholy 3-pound weights. (Anita actually uses 5-pound ones, which is a riot.) But I try my best to do as many reps as the girls do because like Jillian says, you can't do a 20 minute workout and take a break. It really does take the place of hours of phoning it in at the gym. Which is the same as saying, these 20 minutes are going to be harder than the combined total of all the other minutes you've ever spent being physically active in your life. I think what I'll do is alternate that dvd with plain old walking, and I'm definitely aiming to eat a lot more fruits and veggies and a lot less starchy junk every day. One of the bloggers I read has lost 15 pounds in 3 weeks just by changing her diet (as best I can tell, and I'm not saying that's normal or healthy or whatever. Just saying. Diet matters a lot.) So hopefully I can get rid of my belly jiggle for good. I like to think that once it's gone, it'll be easy to keep it off because I won't want to go back to being jiggly. We shall see.

Tonight we're supposed to get some snow!!! I have high hopes that this will be our annual snow. Of course it couldn't happen during the week so I could enjoy an extra day off, but Monday is a holiday, so we're going to go visit Emily! I'll be walking to and from Charleston, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And don't think she won't get the car in the divorce

Did you watch the Super Bowl? I spent most of it on my feet in the kitchen cooking dinner and cleaning up, which I wasn't too happy about. I tried to pick a menu that wouldn't require a lot of effort or attention (pioneer woman's amazing lasagna, plus garlic bread, salad, and a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake that I am very sad I had to share with anyone), and we prepared a few things ahead of time, but still somehow I only managed to catch about fifteen minutes of the game, but I guess that's for the best since the team I was pulling for evidently never got off the bus. Most of my family was rooting for the Saints since it would be their first win, but I've never really been an underdog fan. I have nothing against Drew Brees, but Peyton Manning is just the best. I did see the halftime show and a lot of the commercials, including the one for the Dodge Charger. Did you see that one? Oh, it made me mad. The commercial is a bunch of guys talking about the sacrifices they make for their girlfriends or wives, and the point is "since I do all that crap, I'm going to drive the car I want to drive." It's stuff like walking the dog in the morning, or being nice to his mother-in-law, or GETTING TO WORK ON TIME. And the slogan? "Man's last stand." As in, "In the face of your overwhelming control over every aspect of my life, the only shred of dignity and autonomy I have left to cling to in this world is that you get no say in what car I choose." Because left to their own devices, men would never be punctual or watch vampire shows. I just can't believe that's the commercial Dodge chose for the biggest ad opportunity of the year. That's the best they could do? A concept that blatantly alienates such an enormous demographic? What were they thinking? What woman sees that commercial and thinks "Huh. You know, they're absolutely right. We are so crazy and manipulative. Those poor guys. Thank heavens Dodge has created a product designed to give them a tiny ray of hope in their insufferably oppressive, emasculating lives."

I hadn't thought that Mike or I would ever have considered buying a Dodge, but I can tell you now for certain that we never will. I want no part of a company that thinks men have to defend their masculinity by ignoring their partner's input when making big decisions. I may not know much about relationships, but I know that resentment and selfishness are two good ways to ruin them.

Bad form, Dodge.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why does she always get to be Trini just because she's Korean?

Emily's coming home today!!! I'm so excited. Here we are in 2005, which is the last time we were together. (No, not really, but she really should come home more often. We have meat! (She doesn't get a lot of meat in Charleston, cause it's rather costy and she's got bills to pay.)) Sadly, our hair doesn't curl quite like that anymore. Or, mine doesn't. She straightens hers a lot, plus I haven't seen her in five years, so I can't speak for hers. But other than that, even now, I think we pretty much still look the same as in that picture. Not the same as each other. We're easy enough to tell apart, I think. Particularly these days, since if you see one of us in Columbia, it's a safe bet that it's me. If you see one of us in Charleston, it's not me. And in case that's not enough, if one of us looks like the secret footage of a fashion makeover show, it's me. If one of us looks hungry for steak, it's Emily. Simple, right?

In school, people who didn't know us well would have to know that Emily had the longer hair and the longer name in order to tell us apart. Except for Ryan Mercer, who told us apart because I "looked more like a clown." Thanks, pal! He tried to explain once that he just meant that my lips were more red (?), but why not just say that? He put his foot in his mouth a lot, so I didn't really take it personally. At least he knew who was whom. But that long hair long name trick doesn't really work anymore, because we both have long hair, so now when I run into somebody I haven't seen in a while, I think they just blurt out one of our names and raise their eyebrows like "did I get it?"
Once, in elementary school, one of the assistant principals wanted to split us up into different classes, maybe so the teacher wouldn't have to try and tell us apart? Or maybe because she just wanted to see how we'd do separated from each other? So she put me in a dumber class than I should have been in, where I got in trouble for answering the other kids' questions and had to stay in at recess with my head down on my desk. Really the only punishment there was the shame of having all the other first graders walk past knowing I was staying behind. While Emily got to be in the smart class and romp around at recess playing Horsey Court with her friend. She says Horsey Court wasn't a real game; they just ran around laughing and called it Horsey Court. For this and many other reasons, I am very glad she's my sister. I can't imagine being twins with somebody who just played Power Rangers at recess like every other kid.

Incidentally, if you'd asked either of us what our favorite movie was at the time that picture was taken, we would have said Uncorked, due in large part to this scene (not so much the last 20 seconds or so). It's an odd little movie but that song is so beautiful. Like Emily!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I mean, I have zero qualifications, but you have a dvd player right? So if you could just point me to my classroom...

I don't think it's a secret to anybody I know that I don't love my job. I don't understand much of anything about our state government, so I usually have no idea what anybody's talking about. I rarely get to interact with my coworkers (or anybody else, for that matter). The coworkers closest in age to me have all had babies since I started, so I'm usually the odd man out in group discussions. People with kids just love to talk about kids! And worst of all, I just don't feel like anything I do helps anyone or makes any difference. I really like my coworkers. When we DO go out to lunch together or talk about non-work things, it's always the highlight of my work week. But overall, it's a pretty lonely, unsatisfying, unfulfilling place. For now, quitting isn't a feasible option. But when I can quit, I want whatever I do next to be as far removed from this kind of work as it can possibly be. I have no idea what lease purchase means. I don't understand tax deductions, tax credits or sales tax exemptions. Weighted pupil units? CPI? School operating millage? Nope, nope, and nope. And even if I did know, I don't believe I would care. Maybe I'm asking a lot, but I want to feel like I'm knowledgable about, and interested in, my work.

One of the things I think I might enjoy is teaching. It's certain to be rewarding, and I doubt I'll ever have a minute to think "I am bored" or "man, I wish somebody would talk to me today." I always wanted to be a teacher when I was younger. But then I wonder if I'm mostly imagining the field trips and Magic School Bus episodes and field days and Charlotte's Web county fair and holiday parties and summers off, and ignoring the part about making lesson plans and being observed and dealing with all the problems students and their parents can have. Every job has its downsides, of course, and I suspect the good would outweigh the bad, but part of me thinks that maybe I'm just incredibly lazy and won't be happy in any job because I don't want to work at all. And unlike waitressing, teaching isn't exactly a job you can 'try out' for a while to see if you like it. Once they hire you, they're banking on you sticking it out for (at least) 9 months. Which might feel a lot longer if you realize kids are the worst and who needs language arts and why aren't there more Wishbones, thanks for nothing you lazy dog.

So! Who wants to hire me to teach some children?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fitness is nice but can we talk about how good cheese is?

So the walking group was wonderful. It was hella cold, but the trail was really nice and by the time we made our way through the whole thing we'd walked about 2 miles (then we walked a little extra so it ended up being 2.5ish). The club only meets once a month, so in the meantime I've got to find a way to get in some exercise on my own. So I've gone walking a few times at the indoor walking track at my church, which is free after you pay the one-time $5 membership fee, and there's always a cute old man working the front desk and he doesn't know that I haven't been through the "equipment use and care" session so I can even use the treadmills and eliptical machines in the workout area. I'm not one to skirt authority, but come on. I can work a treadmill and an eliptical machine without a 45-minute seminar. I haven't made use of those machines yet, because they've been in use when I've been. I've just used the walking track. It's pretty short- it only takes me about a minute or 90 seconds to make a lap around it, so that's not awesome, but it's indoors, and that's infintely preferable to having to be outside. I don't know how people go running outside in the winter. I don't know how they do it in any other season either, but don't your lungs and your nasal passages burn like fire? Maybe I can get past the exhaustion and the runny nose and the agonizing pain in my legs, but seriously folks, how am I supposed to BREATHE?

I've also been stretching more, and doing some ab work to try and shape up so that it's like a double surprise when I lose the weight. I'm skinnier AND I've got muscles. Out of my way! Erin e-mailed me an 8-minute ab workout, which seems right up my alley (8 minutes a day, and you can lay on the floor the whole time), but you've got to have a computer nearby to go through the workout and we are a 1-laptop household, so whenever Mike is gone or working, I just have to kind of improvise. I took an abs class at PC and there are ab workouts from the 30 Day Shred that I try to pull from, so I'm hoping to look just like my abs instructor Mellette or Jillian Michaels in a few days. I actually kind of like ab work. But it's not going to mean much without some (extensive amounts of) cardio to firm up the (really) jiggly bits.

In a mealtime story that doesn't further my fitness cause at all, last night I made a chicken pot pie. It required a great deal of chopping and stirring so I was anticipating some stellar results to match the effort. Unfortunately, it turned out more like soup with a little crust blanket on top. It tasted fine, but it was nothing to look at and there was definitely not enough crust. It seemed like way too much filling to fit in a little pie dish, so I put it in a big rectangular 2-quart pyrex and it was impossible to get the crust thin enough to cover the whole thing. It looked sorta pitiful. Imagine a murky brownish puddle with a grocery bag in the middle. Next time I'll just use two pie pans and it should be better. Except nobody will eat it because all they'll be able to think about is a wet trash bag. More for me! That's probably something Jillian has never said.

Tonight I'm going to do lasagna, and I've got higher hopes for it since I've made one before. And as long as there are noodles and cheese, you've got a winner in my book. Maybe I'll skip the trip to the grocery store altogether and just put noodles and cheese in a bowl. Lately I've been going to the grocery store just to get the things I need for one or two meals at a time. I can't decide if this is better than one big trip every couple of weeks. I feel like I'm spending a lot of money, but I don't buy things unless I already know precisely how and when I'm going to use them. How do you grocery shop?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Exercising in Winter: For when you want to be sweaty AND cold

This morning I woke up a little excited about the possibility of a two-hour delay for state government employees due to a forecasted "wintery mix," but when I turned on the tv, the meteorologist said there was barely even any rain, so "good news, the roads are clear and you should have a normal commute." Thanks so much Ken Aucoin, you faulty weather liason. It was such a letdown. Throw us a bone, weather gods! It hasn't snowed since that one night last January, and even then it wasn't enough to stick. Living in South Carolina certainly has its perks, but winter here is generally a dull, snowless affair. We're lucky to get one "snow" a year, and I can pretty well guarantee that no snowman has ever laid his charcoal eyes on the palmetto state. When Mike gets a job and we have to move away, one thing I'm praying for is that we go somewhere that gets some snow. (But not a lot, Lord; you know I'm not cut out for the bitter cold.)

Ultimately I guess it worked out in my favor, though, because tomorrow morning (forecasted high 42º) I'm going walking with my mom and some of her coworkers who started a walking club. Evidently the man in charge is called First Sergeant Pelley. I'm hoping this means there'll be a whistle. I really don't mind walking, so it's super-easy exercise, and I like being out in the sunshine in the mornings, which is something I very rarely get to do. So I'm going to wear my thanks-for-interviewing-for-that-scholarship-and-accidentally-throwing-one-of-your-rings-across-the-room-while-doing-so-but-we've-chosen-some-actual-smart-people-instead Presbyterian College hoodie with the pouch pocket stuffed full of kleenex, and I'll be sporting my new sneakers that are meant to help correct my (apparent) tendancy to walk a little crooked. Something about my right leg going too far to the center...? I forget. But it's sure to be good cold fun, and Sergeant Pelley is even bringing hot water for everyone, so we can have cider or cocoa when the walk is over. Or maybe he plans to throw it on us to get us to move faster. I'm not clear on that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reason #12 I'm glad I married Mike

(For clarity's sake, let me just say there are way more than 12 reasons why I'm glad I married you, Mike. Like how you always try out new nicknames. For example cookie sheet or tractor beam.)

The other night we went to see Sherlock Holmes with Mike's parents and his brother. After the movie we stopped at Barnes and Noble(s, as his family sometimes calls it) to kill some time before dinner. I was looking at cookbooks, and Mike came to get me because he wanted to show me something he liked. He took me over to the sci-fi/comic book/manga section, and when we got there (there were like 5 rather dorky kids sitting on the floor in the middle of all the shelves, reading various books from that section) he pointed to a book on display smack dab in the middle of the manga section. Asthma for Dummies.