Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm glad I spoke to Peter before I broadcasted my ignorance over the interwebs

I've been doing a few little crocheting projects lately. Some of them are gifts, but I want to post pictures after I give them away. Anyways, on one of the hats I was making I wasn't sure if my measurements were turning out quite right. The hat is essentially a circle so I set out to determine the circumference of the circle so that I could be sure that I was proceeding correctly according to the pattern. This required me to excavate long-buried portions of my brain to uncover those geometric equations related to circles that I learned back in the 10th grade.

After some mental digging, I uncovered some remnants! For example, circumference equals pie times radius squared! Circumference is what I was trying to find so I set out to apply this handy equation that had turned out to have some purpose despite what I may have thought in high school.

So there I was happily calculating. It is strange that I didn't think to google any of this, I just trusted in my good ole memory. A memory which never was much for storing up equations correctly. Based on my figures, my hat's measurements were correct! I was all set to write about my use of geometry in crocheting on the blog. I thought it was a funny combination. The juxtaposition conjured up images of crazy cat lady rocket scientists wielding their protractors and crochet hooks. Fortunately, however, I tarried in posting about my geometric prowess.

Later I was proudly telling Peter about my math accomplishments. I'm not gifted in math but he is. I thought he would be super impressed with me and my equations. So I explained to him what I did and he kindly explained to me that the equation that I used determines the area of a circle, not the circumference as I had thought. Circumference is calculated by 2 x pie x radius.

Darn it! Not only did I use an incorrect equation (and totally failed to impress Peter with my shining intellect) but the faulty equation that I used had actually given me the numbers I was looking for. That meant that my hat's measurements were also incorrect. For crying out loud!

So, there you have it, kids: stay in school (and pay more attention to geometry than I did) because you never know when those equations will come in handy. And you don't want to be forever messing up your crocheting projects with incorrect equations. (Since all the kids are real big into crocheting these days...)

And now here's what you really came to the blog to see:

He always smiles when he sees himself in the mirror so I've been trying to capture that on camera. But he didn't want to look in the mirror because he was too busy looking at me with the camera.

He finally did look in the mirror. Here he's all "I think, therefore I am."

There's that sweet smile! Although the picture is a little blurry...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ginger Crinkles

I tried the first of my fall baking line up, ginger crinkles. They were very well received by Peter and the women in my Bible study. I also thought they were delicious. I don't know, though, if they'll make the cut for my Fall Favorites. Fall Favorites is an elite group reserved for those recipes that make all your taste buds say "wow" and then eat so many that they have to unbutton their pants. Nothing personal against ginger crinkles. But I just don't know if they've got what it takes. I'll have to wait and see how the other recipes that I'm planning to try will measure up. But they were really good cookies and they're not bad for you. They're not really health food but not totally devoid of nutrition. They have wheat germ in them and you could substitute whole wheat flour for white flour. You probably already have most of the ingredients on hand. I'd recommend them.

Meanwhile, this little boy has a future in trampolining:

He loves to jump. And he's the cutest, jumping-est, jumping bean this side of the Mississippi (and on the other side of the Mississippi :o).

Friday, September 24, 2010

(This must be read with a Long Island accent)

Hey yous guys. I've been meaning to get on this blog and give a big thank you to my Manhattan aunt Jennifer for giving me a great start to my library. I've never been to visit her in New York. But I know I would love it. And I know I would fit right in. I mean look at this picture of me. Do I look like a native, or what?

Here I am at my desk

Takin' a coffee break

Most of yous probably don't know that I got a little side gig doin' some book reviews for the New York Times. Anyways, aunt Jennifer is in the big publishing business in the Big Apple. Basically, if you want to write a book, you gotta go through her. Since she knows all the good books, she sends 'em to me to review. Here are two of my favorites:

First on my list is this book called "Alphabet". This one is a nonfiction book about, what else?, letters. The story might seem familiar to some of yous but it has some surprises. I'm here to tell you that you may think you know about letters but you have no idea. Come on, which of yous can tell me an animal that starts with a U or an X. That's what I thought. And there's a surprise ending because the Z is not a zebra. I'm not gonna to tell you what it is because I don't wanna spoil it. This author puts a fresh spin on an otherwise overdone subject. Great read.

This next one called "Have You Seen My Cat" is a freakin' epic. It's a fiction book about this kid who loses his cat. The plot twits blew mind. This kid is looking all over the world for his cat. I couldn't put it down! I literally had no idea where this kid's cat was or how the story would resolve. I really empathized with the guy too because there are cats goin' in and outta my line of vision all day long and I never can keep track of 'em. I can't give away too much in case you read it. But it's an adventure. I highly recommend.

Where is my cat?

So there you go. Those are my picks for your literary enjoyment. It pays to have friends in high places. Thanks again, aunt Jennifer, for all of my books!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I got my card reader back!

And I am so excited. I don't know if you all have missed pictures of John. But I sure have missed posting them. I think my mom was avoiding me for a while because I kept on hassling her about sending it back to me. Thanks mom! Sorry if I was a nuisance! It was my fault for leaving it in SA.

Now, naturally, I must post some pictures! These are from our trip to SA over Labor Day:

We went to SA to visit my good friend Jennifer who was in town from NYC.

Here we are at Beto's. Jennifer, her mother Nancy and me. This is one of my favorite restaurants in SA. Jennifer and I have been friends for about 12 years now! Which seems like a long time. We were both in theater together in high school and acted together in many plays.

John and me at Beto's

John is so cute. I know I'm biased. He's asleep right now but looking at these pictures makes me want to go wake him up and kiss his face! Must. Resist. Temptation.

Baby John is watching you!

John would not stop sucking on Nancy's hand when she held him. It was hilarious.

I got these huge sunglasses. Peter thinks they're over-the-top. But I like the bug-eyed look! Also, the real reason I like them so big is because they provide sun protection for most of your face! Because Peter thinks they're so ridiculous, I was going to take them back but they were unanimously voted in by my mother, sister, Jennifer, Nancy and Corinne (my sister's friend). So I kept them.

More pictures tomorrow!

Poor Naive Me

A few weeks ago when John started rolling from back to tummy things got a little more complicated for me around here. He would get trapped on his belly, much weeping and gnashing of teeth would ensue (his weeping, my gnashing of teeth), I'd rescue him, put him somewhere else for a while but the cycle would repeat whenever I put him down on the floor to play. I thought, and wrote on this blog, that I assumed things would get easier once John learned to roll back the other direction- I thought I wouldn't have to be rescuing from his tummy so often.

Well as of this week he's now rolling both ways.

Did things get easier as I had assumed? Au contraire!

He's rolling into walls, rolling under the bed, rolling into close proximity of power tools.

Who would have thought that a person whose only means of locomotion is rolling could get to so many places? If I would've known the extent a person could travel by rolling I might not have taken the trouble to learn to walk!

Anyways, when John started rolling one way it took me all day to mop the floor. I was planning to mop the floor today and I anticipate finishing sometime around Christmas.

I think it's safe to say that, regarding children, I should never assume things will become less complicated. They might get complicated in a different way. But probably not less so.

But we're having oodles of fun and I love being with him everyday despite the fact that it takes me months to do what a childless woman might do in 30 minutes.

(Just so you know why it takes me so long to mop, the entire house, except the bedrooms, is tile. So I mop almost the entire house. It is somewhat of an undertaking. I didn't want you thinking that it takes me hours to mop just the kitchen....and I am slightly exaggerating. I might be done before Christmas.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guess What Today Is!

Fall! It's here again. Only, unlike last year, I'm still sweating through my clothing. Last September around this time I was lamenting getting out of bed in the chilly weather. Well, it seems that I'm still lamenting getting out of bed. Though I don't have cold weather as an excuse. Turns out that getting out of bed is unpleasant no matter the clime. Though I do have a newborn (is 4 months still newborn?) so that's part of the problem. (It's not a problem that I have a newborn but the newborn contributes to the problem of me not wanting to wake up.)

If you were reading this blog last fall you might have read some of my Fall Favorites recipes. I don't know why I love baking in the fall so much more than other seasons. But I do! Here are some recipes that I plan to try this fall:

Molasses Spice Cake

Ginger Crinkles

Caramel-Pecan-Pumpkin Bread Puddings

I'll let you know how they turn out.

Bring on the apple cider and hot chocolate! And, mark my words, we're going to use our (completely unnecessary) fireplace even if it gives us heatstroke!

Friday, September 17, 2010


One of our neighbors pulled up in front of our house last week ostensibly for a friendly chat. Peter was outside poking around and I was weeding the flower beds. He started commenting on how property values are being dragged down by people not maintaining their their houses and gardens. He made a few references to some of our other neighbors and pointed out various violations of deed restrictions. He then went on to say that the homeowners association is worthless and doesn't adequately enforce its rules. Then he got to the point of why he actually pulled up to talk to us when he said:

"For example, the weeds on your fence. You might get a letter about that but nothing more."

A letter. That's all. You know, instead of being publicly stoned like we deserve.

In the interest of full disclosure he was right, we do have some unsightly dead weeds on the top of our fence. But I thought his smug passive aggressiveness was hilarious. We need to take the weeds down. But really, I'm a new mom and we moved across the country a few short months ago (I know that excuse is approaching its expiration date...). My husband has less than one day off per week and spends two nights per week at the hospital. I'll get to the weeds when I get to the weeds, thank you very much!

I wish I had my card reader to post pictures of what he was talking about. Because we're not actually letting our property go to seed as he was implying. Rather, we're in the midst of some improvements that I'm so excited about! On Friday when Peter was off we bought two varieties of rose bushes, a few fruit trees (orange, satsuma mandarin and meyer lemon), and some other flowers and herbs. I'm so excited about getting them planted! I think fresh fruit and flowers make the best decorations. The roses we chose are good for cutting for indoor arrangements. And cooking with fresh herbs is always nice.

Then for the rest of the day- his one day off for last week- my wonderful husband spent outside doing the back-breaking work of digging up and sawing off tree roots that are in the flower beds to get them ready for planting. I'm so thankful for him and all of his hard work on his day off! He was using a chainsaw to saw off the roots. I've never used a chainsaw and I know I would have amputated one of my limbs if I'd had to do it (and I doubt I would've done a good job of getting the roots out either. So I would be in the unhappy position of being armless and still having flowerbeds unfit for planting). But most importantly, he got the dead weeds off of the gate!

I'm hoping to cultivate a green thumb because thus far everything that I have tried to grow has perished under my neglect. But I'm going to turn over a new leaf! I have to. Because if I let the flowers die and the weeds take over I'll probably get a letter from the homeowners association. I've been warned.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

4 Month Stats: The Largest 4-Month-Old in the World

We went to Baby J's 4 month well baby visit today. He weighs 19 lbs 3 oz and is 27 in long. On the card they gave me documenting his growth they noted that he is in the 100 percentile in both categories. Am I right to understand that this means that he is larger and taller than 100% of all four month olds?

That's right folks! On this blog you are privy to the goings on of the largest 4 month old in all of creation! I'm going to go ahead and sign him up for the Guiness Book of World Records and then have him join the circus. Soon you can all order your Baby John: Largest 4-Month-Old in the World t-shirts. And then we'll start selling his memoir. I'm pretty sure he'll hire a ghost writer for that.

Anyways, all is well. Nothing to report except that he's the biggest 4 month old on God's green earth.

While at the pediatrician's office I saw an advertisement for an invention called BabyPlus. I roll my eyes at a lot of baby equipment. (Though I am also the proud owner of plenty of baby contraptions so I can't roll my eyes too vehemently...) But this I thought was extra eye roll worthy. It is a "Prenatal Learning System." A Prenatal Learning System! What? Really, it is a wonder that the world ever produced an Einstein, Galileo, Picasso or Mozart without the BabyPlus's "prenatal education curriculum" (they actually use those words). I looked at the website briefly, it appears to be a audio recordings of heart beat sounds. Maybe there's some validity to it. I didn't read through their entire website ( I probably couldn't get through the entire website because of my short attention span which is probably the result of my mother not using a BabyPlus when I was gestating.).

There are testimonials of people who used the BabyPlus (It won't just give you a baby, friends, it will give you a BabyPlus!). They are, of course, writing about how their child is the most brilliant, charming, and thoughtful baby on the planet who was born doing high order physics and cooking with arugula. But who doesn't think that about their child? I, for one, think that my baby is the smartest, biggest and cutest baby in the world and I also think he can do as much high level math as any 4 month old. But he didn't have the advantage of the BabyPlus. Do you know what I think made him so brilliant? All those cinnamon rolls I ate. (I am not even kidding, I could feel him getting smarter with each glucose-skyrocketing bite.)

I think I'm going to let my baby focus on banging toys on the ground and save the education curriculum for later.

I will post pictures just as soon as I get my card reader back. I have to show you his thunder thighs. They are so cute! Wouldn't it be nice if thunder thighs were also cute on adults?

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Deep is the Ocean, How High is the Sky?

John is 4 months today. This also happens to be the 7th anniversary of the day my father died. Which might seem like it puts a morbid spin on things. For some reason this year I've been feeling a little down on the eve of this anniversary- more so than in the past. It's funny the way grief ebbs and flows but really never leaves you. But it's not a morbid thing for me. The reason why can be best summed up in these verses:

"For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:53-57

John was named after his grandfather, my dad, John Wallace Pennycook.

A few weeks ago Peter and John and I were all snuggling and Peter remarked to John, "I'm so proud of you!" I asked Peter what he was proud of since John's accomplishments thus far have been limited to those things that have also been achieved by nearly every other person on the planet. Peter replied, "it doesn't matter what he does I'm just proud of him." That's how I feel too. I was proud of his first bowel movement and his first burp. I was proud when he laid there like a helpless sugar lump and I'm proud now that he's rolling over. It's not anything that he does. Or rather, it's everything that he does. I just love him.

When Peter said that I realized that that is the best way I can describe my relationship with my own father. It didn't matter what I did. I knew he'd be proud of me no matter what. There are so many other qualities about my father that made him admired by all who knew him. He was very smart, friendly, energetic. He was the very definition of "people person." He loved music and nature. His house was always open to friends. So I appreciate many things about his character. But many times I've asked myself what made him a great father. (Because I want to try my best to be a great mother.) What I return to again and again is that I didn't have to work to please him. For someone like me who is a people-pleaser, always concerned about offending someone, never quite sure if people like me, it was such a comforting thing to have someone like him in my life. I didn't have to worry what he thought about me, whether I was good enough, if he would still feel the same way if I utterly failed. That brought me so much confidence and stability.

Ultimately it is only God who can accept and love us totally unconditionally. But in giving us parents and children, we see a small glimpse of His love which is so much richer and all-encompassing than ours. His love which is fully expressed in the person of Jesus Christ.

A few years ago I was listening to some 9/11 memorial coverage on the radio and someone quoted a song called How Deep is the Ocean, How High is the Sky?, by Irving Berlin in honor of their loved one who died in the attack. I loved the words. It immediately made me think of my dad.

How can I tell you what is in my heart?
How can I measure each and every part?
How can I tell you how much I love you?
How can I measure just how much I do?

How much do I love you?
I'll tell you no lie
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

How many times a day do I think of you?
How many roses are sprinkled with dew?

How far would I travel
To be where you are?
How far is the journey
From here to a star?

And if I ever lost you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Short-term memory

John and I went to San Antonio last weekend and had a lovely time. John got to meet his Manhattan aunt Jennifer (He also has an Austin aunt Jennifer). And we got to see some friends and fun was had by all. Unfortunately, I left the card reader for our camera at my mother's house so I won't be posting any pictures until I can get it back. Which makes me very sad because I love to post pictures of John!

On the way back to Houston John became fussy. It was time for him to eat so I pulled over into a gas station to feed him. As I picked him up out of his car seat I felt that dreaded wet, squishy feeling on his body that let me know that he had had an Excrement Explosion (jazz hands!)! (Everything seems more fun with jazz hands.) I began to survey the extent of the situation. Let me tell you, it was a doozy. Poop was smeared from his feet to his shoulders, there was a lake of poop in his car seat. I had to basically give him a bath with wet wipes in the front seat of my car. Him screaming and squirming all the while. I couldn't help but laugh. I finally got him and the car relatively clean (very liberal definition of clean), got him fed and back in his car seat. I got back in the car and we were on our way. I looked down and saw that I had a glob of yellow baby poop on the front of my shirt. Motherhood is the best if you like human waste and bodily fluids!

He has gotten into the habit of pooping every other day. And on those days he produces roughly the amount of waste produced by a small army. The diapers are just no match.

John's latest milestone achievement is rolling from back to front. Of course I am beaming with pride every time he does anything but this new skill has added a layer of complication to our lives.

As you may have gathered from last post's photo essay "The Downward Spiral of Tummy Time," he does not like to be on his belly. I used to be able to lay him down on a play mat to bat and grasp at dangling objects and he would stay content for a long time- maybe 20-30 minutes. Now he rolls over, becomes trapped on his belly and quickly becomes mad at the world. At which point he neither wants to be on his tummy or his back, held or put down, walked around or bounced up and down. In short, existence itself seems to tick him off.

The funny thing is that when he finally does calm down and I put him back down the first thing he does is flip back on his tummy! The short term memory seems not to have kicked in yet. It's so cute and pitiful how vulnerable he is. All he can do is flail his little arms and legs and shake his head vehemently. Then I flip him back over and repeat the entire cycle ad nauseam. I can't wait for him to be able to roll from his tummy to his back. Because this new state of things requires much more intervention on my part than the "helpless sugar lump" phase that he has been in. When I had to go console him every five minutes yesterday it took me 8 hours to mop the floor!

But I got that floor mopped, by golly! It was a lesson in perseverance.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Last Friday Peter and I were driving out of town for a church retreat. John was in his car seat in the back crying. He's not overly fond of being in his car seat, especially when he's tired, which he was at the time. It's typical for him to fuss for a while in the car and then fall asleep. So that's what I thought was going on as we drove around looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat before we got on our way. Finally, after much crying on John's part, I glanced towards the back seat. To my dismay I saw that the sunshade of the car seat was completely covering his face! The sunshade on our car seat is really flimsy and has a lot of extra fabric, it's really quite a worthless accessory. But it sort of does keep the sun out of his face. At least when it stays in place. I had opened it before we got into the car to shield him from the sun. But it ended up collapsing over his face and that's why he was crying! I felt so bad! But it got me thinking that I'm thankful that, unlike me with my human limitations, God knows when his children are in trouble and has promised to help them. Mercifully, He's not just sitting around sipping his coffee hoping we'll fall asleep so that He can have some peace and quiet! Rather, he loves to meet our needs. Thankfully I can rest knowing that I will mess up plenty of times as a parent but John and I are both ultimately in His infallible hands.

And now, may I present to you, The downward spiral of Tummy Time, a photo essay in three parts:

The first minute or so is happy...
Then consternation sets in. How much longer must I endure?
Finally frustration and capitulation. Accompanied by many tears.

He really doesn't much enjoy tummy time. I'm not sure why. Despite my continual reassurances that life will be very tedious indeed if he does not learn to lift his head up. I hope the fact that he only does two minutes of tummy time per day won't prevent him from crawling.

Notice Theodore in the background laying in the same position as John.
Often he won't smile at me when I have the camera out because he's busy studying the camera.

Recently someone told me that John looks like a fat version of me. And others have agreed that he resembles me. That makes me so happy because he is the apple of my eye! I'll have to post some pictures of our baby pictures along side his soon.