Wednesday, October 9, 2013
(Note: I doubled the recipe to take some for lunch. Below is the original recipe.)
1-15 ounce can pumpkin
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
1 apple, cut into small cubes
3 pieces turkey bacon
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
In a stock pot, combine the pumpkin, chicken broth, and cream. Cook on medium heat, stirring well for 5 minutes, then simmer. Sauté the apple in a little bit (1/2 tablespoon) of butter until soft. Cook the turkey bacon according to the package directions.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle cheese on top of the soup, then place the sautéed apples and crumbled bacon. Serve with bread. Enjoy!
Sunday, September 15, 2013
In addition to the usual worries, I was incredibly anxious by Sunday evening because Z started exhibiting signs of pink eye. Those gooey, sticky eye crusties plus my poor baby's swollen eyes was freaking me out. I wouldn't be able to take her to the doctor if she needed to go, which made me feel like a bad mom. Additionally, the cough/cold combo I'd been battling for a week was starting to feel more like bronchitis by the minute, and I was puffing on my rescue inhaler way more than I liked. I went to bed Sunday night hoping that when we woke up in the morning, everything would be perfect. Um, no.
An hour after going to bed, I was in a deep sleep, when R started yelling "SHE PEED ON ME!" Lily, our cat who's been spayed twice and battles bladder infections off-and-on, had indeed urinated on her father for no apparent reason. Lucky for me, my side was nice and dry, and Lily came and curled up with me. Girl power! R went to the couch, because our guest room is still a mess from when we painted our kitchen this summer (yes, we've procrastinated on cleaning that). After hearing him yell and fuss at the dog for 15 minutes, he came storming back in our room and turned on the light, deciding to change the sheets. He started doing it while I was still in bed, and I freaked out. Once the sheets were changed, the cats in the basement for the night, and the dog had a treat to calm down, we all drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
I awoke feeling like I had a fever. Z awoke with her eyes swollen shut. Pinkeye indeed. R stayed home with her and took her to the doctor for eyedrops. I went to work, where my first day was incredibly stressful. Things were very hectic because some large projects are nearing completion. As a result, people are stressed and have been working overtime. The high-energy atmosphere isn't anything I'm used to, so that was overwhelming. All day I battled chills and breathing issues and coughing. Getting off work at 5 was a totally new experience for me; at my old job, I left at 3, picked Z up from school at 3:30, and we were home most days at 3:45, giving us ample time to play and relax before the dinner-bathtime-bedtime routine. Not the case here. Right when I left the parking lot, I had a meltdown, wondering if I had made the right choice by starting a new job. I felt so guilty for cutting my time with Z by two hours each day. That's 10 hours a week. She goes to bed at 7:30, so when I get home at 5:30, we have little time to relax because of all of the necessities.
When I got home, my meltdown was in full form. I know I freaked Z out, because she was looking at me strangely. After I calmed down and ate, I went to Urgent Care to get some antibiotics.
As the antibiotics began working, and I slowly adjusted to a new office, new hours, new coworkers, new job, and new schedule for my family, I started to feel better. I really love the work. Z is in good hands. She loves her daycare and R picks her up early and they hang out every afternoon. I still wish I could somehow finagle my old hours, but that's not likely. After such an epic first day, I'm looking forward to a peaceful week.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Sunday, September 1, 2013
The Awakening by Kate Chopin (Yes, I realize it's a short story.)
Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce A. Tyldesley
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Good Thief's Guide To... (series) by Chris Ewan
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Iliad by Homer
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
The Odyssey by Homer
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pompeii by Robert Harris
Quentins by Maeve Binchy
A Rather... (series) by C.A. Belmond
Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart
Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer
Under the Dome by Stephen King*
Venice by Jan Morris*
The Vesuvius Isotope by Kristin Elise
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Xibalba Murders (series) by Lyn Hamilton*
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks*
The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman*
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Imagine you're going through your everyday life just being a normal person when suddenly a dome drops out of the sky, effectively trapping you, your neighbors, and your enemies in your small town. All of a sudden you're very aware of resources such as food and water and your fellow townspeople and their weird/creepy habits. You try very hard to keep your secrets and family safe. This scenario is what happens in Stephen King's novel Under the Dome, which has now been turned into a summer miniseries. It's my newest obsession.
You know when you're reading a really good book or watching a great series and you want to put life on hold so you can find out what happens next in the story? Well, this is what's currently going on with us. R started watching Under the Dome when it first premiered this summer. He kept telling me about how good it was and how we needed to watch it together. I finally watched the first episode and was hooked. We quickly caught up on all of the DVR'd episodes and have stayed up way too late watching the show.
I don't know how the series fares compared to the book. With other King novels that have been turned into film adaptations, I've been disappointed. So much of King's stories are psychological and scare the heck out of you while you're reading; some of that material just isn't easy to translate into a film. I'm on the waiting list at the library for Under the Dome so hopefully I'll be able to compare the two soon. Until then, if you need something to watch, I highly recommend this series!
Monday, August 19, 2013
Because of her history, we were referred to the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor at Children's Hospital. Z actually had her consultation on her first birthday, poor girl. At the appointment, they did a hearing test to see if the infections had caused any damage. Luckily, her hearing was perfect and she didn't fuss at all. The audiologists were impressed with Z's laid back nature and said she had made their job easier and had subsequently made their morning. Way to go, Z! Next we saw the ENT. Z's ears were perfect and there was no fluid from her last infection. The doctor said at that point, the surgery was optional, but if Z got another infection, she'd definitely need the tubes. We left feeling excited and hopeful that she'd never come down with another infection.
Fast forward 10 days: Z was fussy all night and woke up with a low-grade fever. I took her to the pediatrician, and surprise, surprise, she had another infection. It took 3 days for me to get through to Children's because nobody was returning my voicemails, but I finally was able to schedule Z's tube surgery for this morning.
The entire ear tube procedure is an easy one: the doctor merely inserts a tiny--and I mean tiny, since it's no bigger than the size of this 'i'--tube into the patient's ear drum, which allows fluid to drain out. When fluid is retained, it harbors bacteria and becomes infected frequently. Until the child's ear is fully formed, the fluid can't drain out. After 6-12 months, the tubes fall out on their own, the hole seals itself, and voila, you've got a happy kid with fully-developed ears. The tubes don't eliminate the odds of getting an infection, but they do make it easier to treat and often cut down on the number of infections a kid will have.
We had to arrive at Children's at 6:15 this morning. Naturally, I didn't sleep much last night because I was afraid we'd oversleep and miss the appointment. Z was also really clingy last night, probably because she could pick up on our stress. When we walked into the Same Day Surgery waiting room, it was packed! From the looks of it, there were a lot of kids there for procedures that were far more invasive and serious than ear tubes, so once again I realized how lucky we are for our healthy little Z. Our nurse came and got us and took us to the pre-op room. She went over Z's health history, listened to her breathing, checked temperature and weight, and printed off Z's hospital bracelets. There was a cool playroom down the hall so we went to play there; we also waited in the room and were able to watch Clifford, which made Z a very happy camper. The ENT's assistants came and talked to us, then the anesthesia general practitioner came in and talked about Z's overall health. The nurse brought Z a mixture of Tylenol and oxycodone, which Z sucked down. The nurse and general practitioner were impressed and said they usually have to fight kids to take the medicine; we call medicine "yum yums" and make a big deal out of it tasting good, so we've never had problems with Z taking her medicine. Before we knew it, the anesthesiologists came to talk things over and take Z. They asked what flavor of laughing gas Z would like--cherry--then they took her off. She didn't even cry or look back. We waited in the room for only 7 minutes, then the ENT doctor came back and said everything was great and went well. There was no lingering fluid from her recent infections, and no signs of permanent damage from the infections. We have to go back in 4-8 weeks for a checkup.
We went to recovery to see Z. She was really mad at the nurses but calmed down when we held her. She took a bit to come out of it, and was sleepy. She woke up for some graham crackers and water though. On the way home, she projectile vomited, which is very common after this procedure. We came home and she ate a bit, then went down for a nap. It's been almost 3 hours and she's still dozing. The girl never naps!
I'm just so glad this is over. Yes, it's best for Z to not be in constant pain or taking antibiotics constantly, but it's terrifying when your kid has to go under. There are risks anytime surgery is performed or anesthesia is involved. Yes, the procedure only took 7 minutes. Yes, everyone says it's harder on the parents than the children. It's still scary though. There's nothing like being down at Children's Hospital to make you realize how good you've got it, and how lucky you are for your biggest problem being ear infections.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
We went to the Zoo on Saturday because the weather was so gorgeous. We got there at 8:30 (when you’ve got little ones, they don’t sleep in on weekends so you don’t either) and had a blast! The Children’s Zoo is free before 9, which is very cool. Z had a great time looking at everything and petting the goats. She even brushed one!
In the morning, all of the animals are alert and moving around because they’ve just been fed. Even the large tortoises were slowly walking around their habitat. We saw the newest elephant, Priya, eating a tree branch. Although she’s a couple months old, she’s still tiny compared to her sister and mother. Z had fun in the snake house and liked knocking on the anaconda’s window and whispering to it.
Our little excursion made me realize how lucky STL citizens are to have such a wonderful zoo. I don’t think it’s really something we give much thought to because it’s always available to us, but having a free zoo that’s well maintained, operated, and exceptional at caring for animals is rare. The St. Louis Zoo also offers numerous programs, classes and volunteer opportunities.
For my sister’s birthday last year, we signed her up for the Zoo Parents Program. In this program, you can “adopt” an animal, and your membership goes toward providing the animal with food and care. All of the parents are prominently featured on flat screen televisions in the Living World, as well as on the zoo’s website. H is the proud mother of a red kangaroo; last time H visited the zoo, she saw her kangaroo with a baby in her pouch!
Bottom line of this disjointed post: it’s important to support our local nonprofits and their missions. We’re lucky to have such an outstanding organization so close to home.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Sunday, August 11, 2013
I'm currently halfway through my master's in Nonprofit Management. I'm really enjoying the classes and projects, but sometimes I wish I could fast forward and have the degree already. After a long day of work, coming home and getting ready for tomorrow, cooking, doing bath time and bed time and story time, the last thing I want to do is write a paper or do research about some aspect of nonprofits. I keep plugging along though, and reminding myself that the short-term annoyance will have huge payoffs. I really do like what I'm studying and I'm passionate about nonprofits. So that helps. I also have a wonderfully supportive husband who wants to start his MBA, so the sooner I finish my master's, the sooner he can start his!
My program is designed for working adults, so there are two courses taught per semester, and the entire degree takes two years because the classes are taught on a rotating basis. For some weird reason though, the classes that are offered this fall are the ones that were taught in the spring. So, I'm being forced to take a semester off. Not that I mind...it'll be nice to have a break. At the same time, I'm a little behind because I took two semesters off when Z was born, so having a break is probably not ideal. Oh well. I suppose I'll have more time to blog now that I don't have papers to write. Maybe I'll start some sort of artsy project. Or look into master's programs in art history or Egyptology (Who am I kidding? I've already looked into those and have made a tentative game plan.) What can I say? I really like learning.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Friday, August 2, 2013
|This is the street we walked down to get to the Arc de Triomphe.|
The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 and was a neoclassical interpretation of the triumphal Arch of Constantine in the Roman forum. We have all learned about Napoleon’s lofty aims to take over Europe, and by creating his arch, he solidified his role as emperor, or so he thought (the fact that he hadn’t won the battle was a moot point). The arch was built at the end of the Champs-Elysees, the iconic Parisian street that today is known for its high-end stores and world-class restaurants. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (from World War I) rests underneath the center of the arch.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Friday, July 26, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Surprisingly, I slept really well the night before we went to the hospital. I guess I knew it would be the last night of really good sleep I’d get for a while. I called the hospital to make sure they had a room available, and we got the last room! We got to the hospital at 7:30 in the morning. The nurses were all really friendly and had just come on duty and made it their mission for me to be comfortable and have everything go according to plan (or as close as it could). I got settled into my gown and got in the bed. They did an internal (worst thing in the world) and turned out I was already in labor and was having contractions, which I couldn’t feel. They said we would have been at the hospital regardless of whether I had gotten induced or not, so that was comforting.
Most of the day we just hung out and waited for things to happen. I tried to rest as much as I could and we watched tv and I read. Robin dozed. I got an epidural, which was no big deal. Even though I had been having huge contractions before that, I wasn’t feeling anything. We continued to wait. At 5:00, we heard screaming. The nurses in the hall were yelling for an epidural. We heard a lot of running and Robin peeked his head out—they were heading next door! We then heard screaming for about 5 straight minutes. We were joking that the woman should have gotten an epidural sooner so she wouldn’t disturb everyone. A while later a nurse came in to check on me and we asked what happened. Apparently the woman had gone to another hospital for an induction but was sent home because it FAILED. What? She was then on her way home when she realized that no, it actually hadn’t failed, and she was in full labor, so she stopped by the hospital. That’s how Peaches K. (Yes, that was her name, according to the white erase board outside her door.) had her baby within 5 minutes of arriving at the hospital. I still feel bad for her.
Around 5:45, I got really nauseated and actually threw up all over my gown and bed because it came on so suddenly. The nurses were thrilled and said that meant I was close to having Z! My doctor came in and did another internal and said “Well I’ll be damned; you’re dilated to 10 centimeters!” The whole crew came in and at 6:20 I started pushing. It progressed slowly and is really hard…even though you’ve never done it before;instinctively you know how to do it. At 6:55 my doctor came back in and could see I was getting really tired. He asked if I wanted to use the vacuum and I agreed. At 7:03, Z was born! She was gorgeous and was looking around and got mad when they cleaned her up. R cut the cord and took photos while they weighed and measured her: 18.5 inches, 7.4 pounds, and she scored 9/9 on both Apgar tests. After I got cleaned up, we snuggled for a bit and took our first family photo. My mom came and held Z before they took her to the nursery for her hearing test and the other things they do with babies after they’re born. The nurse ordered my dinner: hot dog, chips, andjello. I took a shower. The nurse brought Z back and we all settled in…then we couldn’t figure out the swaddle. We called the nurse and she showed us. Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t fall asleep. Z was whistling and making a lot of loud newborn noises and I was paranoid about watching her. R suggested Z spend the night in the nursery with the other babies so we could get some rest. Z was born one day before her due date. She’s a very punctual girl and likes to keep to her schedule.
The day after Z was born, my grandparents, mom and aunt came to visit. Z smiled for the first time. And no, it wasn’t a fake smile—she’s been smiling ever since. We got to go home the next morning. Getting Z dressed in her going home outfit was so scary. She was so tiny and I thought we’d break her. She didn’t even fit in her car seat. When we got home, we quickly fell into a routine, most of which included resting and watching the Olympics. My birth experience was very positive. I’m thankful I was not Peaches K. that hot day in July.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
I woke up the morning of November 23, 2011, the day before Thanksgiving, and took the test. It was positive. We were surprised, scared and excited. I went to work and could hardly concentrate on anything. Just to make sure, I tested again every day, multiple times a day, for the next 3 days. All tests were positive. I looked over my planner, which I’m meticulous about keeping, and calculated my due date to be Wednesday, July 25.
At our first doctor’s appointment a week later, the doctor confirmed a very strong, healthy heartbeat. He set up my next appointment for after the New Year and said we’d do an ultrasound at 12 weeks because the risk of miscarriage was significantly decreased at that point. We decided to not tell anyone until after the first trimester in case anything happened. Man, that was tough. I had started having all-day sickness and throwing up in the morning and at nighttime. I was sure my family knew something was going on since I was no longer drinking and was throwing up anytime we ate chicken. R ended up caving and telling his parents before we went to France, because, as he pointed out, they would know as soon as I wasn’t drinking wine. I somehow managed the trip to France and back, being surrounded by my family and best friends, throwing up a lot, being worried about a miscarriage, without anyone catching on. Whew.
We went to the doctor for the 12 week appointment and saw Z for the first time. The doctor confirmed only a single baby (thank you!) who had a great heartbeat and a large head…it was measuring 3 weeks ahead of schedule because of her big bilingual genius brain (that's what we decided). We got photos of the ultrasound, which we immediately fawned over and printed duplicates at Walgreens. For my parents’ anniversary on January 11, we gave them an ultrasound photo. My mom thought it was a picture of the glacier we had visited in France. My dad immediately knew what it was. They were thrilled! Next came my sister H, who was really excited to become an aunt. We then told our grandparents, friends, and extended family members.
The pregnancy progressed great. Z was growing well. I felt her earlier than is normal, about 18 weeks. She was a mover and shaker from Day 1 and was/is always on the go. I had a bout of bronchitis that required some medicine but besides that everything progressed smoothly. I started keeping a list of my cravings: pumpkin seeds, turkey bacon, Bread Co. everything bagels and cream cheese, lattes, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (I could eat a bag every day), Rich and Charlie’s salad, and fruit; and my aversions: anything involving chicken, especially creamy chicken.
At the end of April we bought our first home, and we moved in on May 5. The following Saturday, May 12, I was feeling weird. Really tired and crampy. I was exhausted from the move and unpacking everything, and we had had a lot of really hot days. I went to the bathroom and noticed a little blood. I tried not to freak out—I still had 2 ½ months until my due date—and called Robin. He and my dad were setting up for a family barbeque because my uncle was in town, so my mom took me to the ER. I figured I had a UTI and would get some antibiotics and go home. Uh, nope. I ended up spending the night in the hospital. Luckily the placenta was intact and there weren’t any tears. The doctors didn’t know what had caused the bleeding, but Z was her usual moving self and seemed great. I had been having contractions but wasn’t feeling them, which was good. After spending the night in the hospital and being released on my very first Mother’s Day, I stayed home for a week to sleep and take it easy.
Our birth class started in late June. We were the farthest along because the other couples weren’t due until late August, September, and even October. I was glad we registered late so that everything we learned was fresh in our minds. The class was pretty uneventful. We learned about the process of childbirth, watched some terrible videos from the ‘80s, and learned relaxation techniques. Our classmates were really interesting…there was one couple in particular we felt sorry for, because we were certain the baby was going to have a tough life: the mom, who was in her early twenties, was addicted to meth. They only came to one class and then we never saw them again. There was another couple that made class really interesting too. The woman, again in her late teens/early twenties, seemed like she didn’t really even want a kid, and her husband said as much. He was gung ho about everything. During the birth video, his wife sobbed because she was so scared. Everyone just sat and looked at her. Her husband didn’t even try to comfort her. I wonder how their kid is doing?
The rest of the pregnancy went great. I started to really show in mid-May, but I was still tiny. At my 39-week checkup on July 16, my blood pressure was sky high. My doctor ordered me to go to the ER to make sure it wasn’t pregnancy-induced hypertension. We hung out at the hospital for a couple of hours and everything went back to normal, so we were able to go home. At this point, it was mid-July, over 110 degrees every day (the hottest summer on record in St. Louis, AWESOME when you’re pregnant.) and I was so tired of being pregnant. We had everything ready: the nursery, clothes were washed, diaper bag packed, car seat installed…all we needed was our Z to arrive. I had my 40-week checkup on Monday, July 23, and once again my blood pressure was high—it was 150/100, which is very high for a pregnant woman. I didn’t have any of the telltale signs of preeclampsia, which include protein in the urine and swollen hands, feet, and face, but my doctor was still worried. He decided to put me on blood pressure medicine and I’d have to come in twice a day for the rest of the pregnancy to get my blood pressure checked out. He then looked at my chart and said “Unless you’d rather get induced? Tomorrow works for me if you’re free.” I immediately agreed and went home to tell Robin that we’d be going to the hospital tomorrow to have our baby.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
|Behr paint is about $33 at the Home Depot|
|Choose cabinet pulls, if you don't already have them|
|We still need to add the new toe kick and find a plug cover for that outlet near the ceiling.|
Our next project is to add backsplash and new lighting. We would also like to get a new stainless steel stove and clear up our limited counter space by putting the microwave above the stove. All of this will take months, but it's fun to think about, plan, and take time to find the materials we want.