Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Buttoning Your Pants is Overrated

Every day I'm surprised by how much growing I'm doing. Case in point: yesterday I got up and put on some pants and a sweatshirt to wear to work. When I get to work I change into scrubs. At the end of the day I go to change out of scrubs and put back on the pants I wore to work only to find that my original pants will not button around the girth that I have accumulated throughout the day. Will. Not. Button.

I've noticed this phenomenon that my belly is often bigger in the evening. I think that's pretty normal with fluid retention and such that happens throughout the day. Anyways, I thought part of the problem was that I had recently consumed 27 oz of water. So, I rode the train home, pants asunder, giving my water a chance to settle. I finally did get the pants buttoned at home. But, as the waistband was threatening to cut off circulation to the lower half of my body, I decided there is absolutely no reason that I needed to have my pants buttoned. So, for the rest of the night, unbuttoned they were.

I foresee maternity pants in my near future. ;o)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sweep me off my feet

Shortly before Christmas we received a package on our doorstep. Though we thought it might be a Christmas present, we declined to wait until Christmas morn to open it. It came with no card and very few indications of who might have sent it. Eventually we found in small print on the receipt that it had come from Peter's family. Since there was no note we weren't sure whether or not it had been intended as a Christmas gift or simply something useful that they thought we might need. Peter's family often sends us various practical household items at random. (Hi Joe and Diane! Keep the loot coming!) Not that it really matters whether it was a Christmas present or not. But we were initially skeptical of its usefulness because we knew it had been marketed via infomercial. And we all know that those products have some dubious claims. (Except for the Slanket, of course, which delivers in every way possible and has also apparently become the mark of trendiness.)

Anyways, I didn't get a chance to use this new gift until after Christmas but when I did, I fell deeply in love. Similar to how I felt when I made my first slice with my santoku knife.

This gift was the Swivel Sweeper. Apparently, my littlest brother in law, 6 year old Isaiah, saw the infomercial for it and became intrigued. And the Ness family ordered one for themselves and for us. I hear that Isaiah is quite taken with his as I am with mine.

I realized that my longstanding relationship with the broom and dustpan had been highly dysfunctional and I decided to break it off immediately. For some reason sweeping the old fashioned way seemed to take a long time and the broom bristles seemed to shed as much as they ever swept up. (Now I ask you, is it just me or does everyone have this problem with sweeping? Is the sweeping mechanism of my broom broken (as opposed to the structure which is definitely not broken)? Can a broom's sweeping mechanism be broken?) I would sweep and resweep creating small piles in which Theodore would usually sit. Then I would go around and sweep the piles into the dustpan. Trying to get every particle of dirt into a dustpan is as futile as trying to get Theodore a job at Starbucks. It's a good idea, but it's not going to happen. So I had to be satisfied with small amounts of dust, dirt, cat hair still on the floor.

The first time I used the Swivel Sweeper I made it through almost the entire duplex in 5 minutes flat. Possibly less. My perception of time might have been clouded by euphoria. And it was able to swivel into so many crannies! I'm sure there is still some amount of dirt and hair still left on the floor but the whole process was so much easier.

I've been happily using it ever since. It does a decent job of even picking up larger debris like cat food and litter.

I do wish there was a product out there that had the obliterating sucking power of a black hole whilst weighing no more than a fluffy marshmellow. The swivel sweeper falls short of "black hole" in terms of picking up everything. But nonetheless I'm so much happier than I was with the broom!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Smell a Cat

There is a conspiracy afoot. You might not know this but cat lovers the world over are out to convert every man, woman and child into crazy cat people (it is the 21st century after all, so we can't just confine it to ladies these days). You might innocently believe that you are going to visit a household with a cat. But there are very subtle brainwashing techniques in place- mostly employed by the various kitties involved. I can't tell you our exact methods because then I would have to kill you. But you might notice that you are slowly beginning to fall under the spell of the feline. Behold:

Jacob, well documented dog admirer lulled to sleep by purring Penelope.

Furthermore Jacob was later found to be teaching Theodore tricks. ( "Sit Theodore, stay, don't move. Good kitty!" Theodore is a master at the sit/stay trick.) This may look innocent enough but it is just the beginning. Soon Jacob will be crocheting doilies, eating a steady diet of worther's originals and feeding all the strays in his neighborhood (you know, crazy cat person things).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New adventures and old memories

From Peter:

This last week has been a wild ride. It started with great anticipation on Wed as we waited to receive an email notifying us if I had matched for a position in ophthalmology. Fortunately, a positive email came on Wed evening. Then came the 12 hours of waiting to find out where I had matched. Again, thank God we will be heading to a great program back at UT Houston. The next day, Friday, my brother came out for a few days of skiing. It was a wonderful time to spend with him and enjoy the snowy slopes here in Utah.

Jacob and I got a little bold and skied a couple of these chutes on the Upper Cirque (Snowbird)

By Monday night Jacob was gone and I shifted back into planning mode for our big move back to Houston. Since we will be there for 4 years, we are deliberating between buying a house and renting. Let's just say these sorts of decisions do not rest lightly on one's shoulders. The excitement and stress have made for a crazy week. Just a few minutes ago, I was searching through some old emails to find an old contact and came across some correspondence with a dear friend, John Griffin.

Back in June of 2007, John and his lovely wife, Erin, joined Leslie and me on a 2 week trip to eastern Europe. We initially set out to visit Leslie's uncle in Prague and then thought it would be fun to visit a couple other places as well. The 4 of us had a great time in Berlin, Split & Dubrovnik (both in Croatia) and Prague. It was a wonderful time with wonderful friends. Although John and Erin no longer live in the sweaty metropolis of Houston, we look forward to moving back to be around other such good friends that we made over the last ~4 years.

We took a day to visit a few islands off the coast of Dubrovnik.

The fresh seafood was actually quite good!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Really Nice Cookies

I discovered these White Chocolate-Oatmeal Raisin cookies last year around the holidays and really liked them. They have cinnamon and orange extract in them which makes the flavor unique. The recipe calls for a special Italian orange-vanilla flavoring but said orange extract could be substituted. So I used orange extract. I made a batch just yesterday but didn't have quite enough orange extract so I also added about 1 tsp of orange zest. You could probably get away with just using a teaspoon or two of orange zest if you didn't have orange extract.

I thought they turned out great, but don't take my word for it. Let's see what my personal test kitchen has to say:

Peter's brother Jacob (who went back for thirds and fourths- a compliment to any baker!)

Satisfied customers all around!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Before I became pregnant, I assumed that the process was a half and half proposition. Meaning, at 20 weeks I and the baby would be half as big as we would become by 40 weeks. This line of thinking turned out to be completely wrong.

At 20 weeks no one could tell that I was pregnant. Now, at 24-26 weeks (I'm including a range since the US revealed a 10 day discrepancy from my dates), I feel like I've grown more in the last month than I did in the first 20 weeks. I still don't think I'm too big. (Though Friday at work someone did mention that I was showing "big time" which was an unfortunate choice of words, I thought.) But I am indeed starting to show.

On one hand, it's nice to look obviously pregnant- It makes everything more real. On the other hand, I'm trying to savor still being a relatively normal size. I know there will come a time when I feel like a beached whale and when strangers will probably start asking if I'm having twins. (Note: This is never a question you should ask a pregnant woman, in my humble opinion. On the contrary you should comment instead on how well she looks and that you can't believe that she's 8.5 months along because she still looks so svelte! There's no need to label this as "lying." Because she probably does look svelte compared to Kate Gosslin carrying octuplets. Think of it that way!)

The baby's growth is even more incredible to me. It took him/her 5 months to get to 1 pound. And it will only take about 5 more to gain 6 pounds! Crazy!

I've been feeling the baby move a lot more now. And in more places. At first I only felt movement on my right side but now occasionally I feel it higher in my abdomen and on my left. At night the baby is more active. Sometimes when we're on our way to bed, I'll pull up my shirt and Peter can see my belly popping out where the movement is. He has felt the baby move also which is very fun for us! Part of me can't wait till May, part of me thinks I need about 10 more years to prepare and the other part of me still doesn't believe I'm pregnant (There is a person inside my abdomen?!?!)! How's that for some cognitive dissonance!?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Good thing I didn't spend too much money on coats....

... Because we won't be needing them for the next 4 years! If you haven't heard yet, Peter got an Ophthalmology (I never know if I spell that word right) residency spot in Houston. So we're moving back to Houston in June!

I, personally, would never choose to live in Houston of my own volition. I don't think Peter would either. But after living there for four years while Peter was in medical school, I discovered several redeeming qualities about it. Here are the things I'm excited about:

1. Returning to our old church, Baptist Church of the Redeemer
2. Year-round farmer's market, of which there are a few (oh my gosh, right now they have all of this delectable citrus. Beat that, Utah!)
3. Year-round outdoor running
4. Relatively short drive to San Antonio so that we will be able to visit our families more readily
6. Lucky Layla Yogurt. Best. Yogurt. Ever. (And bonus! It's locally made! I discovered this shortly before we moved and was grieved to be leaving it.)
5. Taco Cabana

On another positive note, I think the baby will have an easy time acclimating to the climate because the weather in the womb is very similar. (Hot and humid, right? Though with fewer hurricanes, I suppose.)

Overall we are very happy. We are very thankful that Peter has a spot at a good program and in just 4-6 short years he'll be eligible for gainful employment! Yeesh! This medicine gig is a long road! (Just to clarify, residency is employment but I wouldn't call it gainful. ;o)

After last year when Peter didn't match into a residency spot, he scrambled looking for what to do this year and found this job in Utah. I really don't know why God led us here for one year only to take us right back where we were. But, I'm very thankful for it. If nothing else, it was a very extravagant gift. SLC is the type of place we've dreamed of living. We love the outdoorsy lifestyle that is so convenient here. So we've spent this year enjoying the mountains, hiking, skiing, nature, 4 seasons, etc and we have relished every moment. So next year well be back to our eternal-summer lives. But we'll be close to home and we'll have good friends near and above all we'll be together. Peter and I have been on many adventures together and I feel like I would be happy anywhere as long as he is with me!

So, if you want to visit Utah and you need a place to stay, you should come before June. After that, you're always welcome in Houston!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

11 Onions before 12 PM

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I can't believe it's 2010. Time goes by so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was graduating high school. And that was almost 10 years ago! And this should be a year I will not soon forget! (If you don't know why then you should go back and read a few posts from October. ;o)

Anyways, I've been away for a while because we've been keeping ourselves pretty busy. And this weekend is perhaps the busiest of my life. At least in terms of the amount of cooking and cleaning I'm going to do.

During the cold months of the year our church has what they call "Soup's On." Every Sunday one person or family brings soup for the entire congregation and we all eat together after the service. It's not a very big congregation and not everyone will always stay for lunch so this is perhaps not as daunting as you might initially think. However it's still a lot of work. Each week the assigned family brings soup for about 60 people. Peter and I signed up for this weekend and we (I, for now, because Peter is skiing. But he will be back to lend a hand.) are in the process of whipping up some Minestrone with White Beans and Italian Sausage and some Creamy Tomato-Balsamic soup. Thus, I have chopped 11 onions before 12 PM today! That's hopefully the most onions I will ever chop in one day for the rest of my life!

If you are in the mood for soup, I highly recommend the Minestrone. We made it several weeks ago and were very impressed. It has such a good flavor!

We are also in the midst of a rather ardent and overdue cleaning blitz necessitated by the fact that we will have some guests over this week and Peter's brother is coming in for a visit on Friday. Our room and our second bedroom have become a convenient receptacle for all manner of household crap. We've made a rule not to have any clutter or belongings in the living room or kitchen since these are the rooms guests are often in. We're really good at that. But unfortunately a lot of the clutter simply gets piled away in the bed rooms which currently resemble New Orleans post Katrina (minus the water).

Next weekend should be more relaxing for me. Peter and his brother plan to start off with a little skiing. Get some more skiing in over the weekend. And then finish up with some time on the slopes. So I plan to sit at home drinking hot chocolate, petting my cats and reading books about breastfeeding. Cats, hot chocolate and books, those are three of my favorite things! How lovely it will be!... if I can just get past this soup. :o)