31 August, 2011

Baking with Katie: Fried Rice

Katie? Who is Katie?  Katie is my rocking sister with some extreme kitchen creativity.  She writes about her life at Abbreviated Confessions of a Twenty-Something and her cooking at Better with Bacon. You can find her previous guest post called Copper Beech Balls, a maple sausage appetizer, here.
  Happy reading.  And even happier eating. 

So ya'll know about my butt/back injury by now (and are probably tired of hearing about it).  Well, in addition to me being out of the kitchen commission for a few days, Eric was gone on a retreat with our high school freshman class.  A weekend of mud pit, ropes course, photo scavenger hunts, hikes, s'mores, and lots of praising God.  He was just as exhausted, if not more than me.

Katie, being a good samaritan, and even better sister, offered to make us dinner Monday night.  When she asked what we wanted, I immediately knew it would be steak fried rice.  She makes *the best* fried rice and it's wheat/gluten free.

I get an in-house chef for the night.  She gets a gourmet dinner: steak from our "cow", Whole Foods veggies, Sesame Oil [you can ooooh and aaaah now] and organic brown rice

It's a win-win.

If you know anything about my sister, she takes life far less seriously than I do - and let's me photograph it.  Take for example, her "cooking show" from Monday night:

Yes, she titled that last photo as "my good side"

She also asked me to ask you to pardon her post-5-mile-run "look" (at least she legitimately ran the 5 miles, right!?!?).

After an hour or so of slaving over the hot stove, may I present you our fabulous gluten-free dinner?  Steak fried rice...

Be sure to check out her recipe .  And remember, in order for this to truly be gluten-free, you must buy gluten-free soy sauce!

Thanks again for the wonderful dinner (and lunch!), Katie!



29 August, 2011

Hello, Third Trimester - Pregnancy Update {Weeks 27 & 28}

How far along?  Twenty-Eight Weeks.  Hello, third trimester.

How big is baby? I've seen varying reports around the internet from 2 pounds to 2.5 pounds.  I am secretly hoping for an ultrasound at my midwife appointment on Wednesday.  I want to see her so badly, even if it's in alien form.

Total weight gain: +33 total.  Once upon a time I thought I'd only gain 30 pounds this whole pregnancy.  I'll be lucky to keep it under 50.  ;-)

Maternity Clothes? I can honestly say I didn't buy anything in the last two weeks! Mostly because I don't *need* it and a little because the cooler weather is coming soon and I need to save up for a few long sleeved things before baby comes.  PS: Of course Motherhood Maternity just now sends out a 40% off coupon...hhmm.

Stretch Marks?  I pretend that I am over it, but I'm not. They itch. A lot.  Basically new ones are popping up anywhere on my skin that'd (fortunately) be covered by a Bermuda short.  Lovely, huh?

Exercise: I was all set to start pregnancy yoga now that my back is feeling better, and then two days later this happens. Yoga is on hold indefinitely.  Actually, most activities are on hold.  Boo!

Sleep: Until the injury I had some great nights' sleep.  Now rolling over takes so much effort that every two hours I wake up completely to re-arrange pillows, but at least I've been afforded 7-8 hour nights.  Counting my blessings!

Movement:  Look out 2030 Olympics.  Baby girl will be there showing off her perfect flip-turn or synchronized swim (I think she's taking after her Nana).  She has perfected the art of waking me up with a jab, or making me laugh while public speaking with a belly roll.   

Eric loves it and feels for her all the time.  My mom (Nana) got to feel her this weekend too...my dad, however, was a little freaked out and passed on the opportunity.

Food cravings: I hadn't had any drop-everything-and-run-to-the-store cravings until last week I wanted Betty Crocker's Scalloped Potatoes from a box, and a glass of Orange Juice in the worst way.  I did it. I dropped everything and ran drove carefully to the store. Scalloped potatoes were $1 off.  I'll take two boxes, please.

What I miss: Ya know, things have been going rather swimmingly, other than the injury.  But even being injured gave me the chance to do the one thing I want the most - lay on my stomach.  My back doctor has a bed with a special "shelf" for pregos to lay belly-down.  I told her I'd pay her once a week just to come lay on the bed.

What I am looking forward to: As much as I hate the awkward attention, I am really looking forward to our baby showers.  I am anxious to get stuff set up and finally feel a little more ready for baby.

I am also looking forward to my 28 week check-up.  Not because I have to get a shot due to the Rh Factor, and have the glucose test (I beat the system, I dont have to drink the orange-goo....muhahaha), but because I am glad to catch up with my midwife and tell her about my back, the diet, and to start discussing labor plans, pediatricians, etc.

Milestones: Lots of movement from baby girl....I can't think of much else.  

Say What?
Most people say, "Are you sure there is just one in there?"  and "Are you even going to make it to November?"  I was pleasantly surprised on Friday with, "Oh you're so tiny - you look fabulous"

I spend Sunday morning with Connor, my 3 year old nephew, so we talked a bit about baby girl coming... I told him he had to wear his new Notre Dame shirt to the baby shower in 3 weeks and he said (after much pause and consideration) "But the baby can't take a shower, she's to leeet-le. She has to take a bath" So we discussed that a baby shower is actually a party.  I'm pretty sure he's even more confused.

Opening the door to me, "Betty! You're pregnant!" - My dad

Sweet moments:
Every night Eric talks to baby girl and kisses her.  It's super adorable. I also love that told her the other night that she and I can't gang up on him - no boys vs girls.  It's Mommy & Daddy vs Kids.  And that he'll kick her if she gets out of line.  Bahaha. Anything can be funny or cute if said in the right voice ;)

Make room for baby:
We finally decided to set up the second bedroom for the baby, as we'll probably be in the apartment for a while.  That being said we had fun picking out a room "theme".  After much deliberation and actually dragging   Eric around the mall, we decided on a The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme.  We're asking for the bedding from Pottery Barn Kids, which we know is a little pricey. We like that it's a theme everyone is familiar with, it's fresh, and can can be accessorized from just about any kids store or book store and not just Pottery Barn. (Fruit! Leaves! Animals! Bright Colors! Oh, my!) And the colors are easy to match, which is a huge deal for me.  So many of the bedsets we looked at had a one-off, hard-to-work-with color.  Bleh.

Besides, I have LOVED Eric Carle stories ever since Kindergarten when I read Brown Bear for the first time.

Oh, and THIS:
Every morning I put baby powder in a *ahem* few choices places to keep them dry in the Georgia summer heat... but put lotion on my stretch marks to keep the itching to a minimum.  Literally, every morning I can't help but thing of this scene from Friends.  "The lotion and the powder made a PASTE!"

A weekend on "bed rest": The story of my hiney-ache

This weekend I was going to catch up on sleep, clean all the things and go to the bank, attend a baby shower, and work on a sewing project at my parents house.

Instead my weekend turned into little more than watching hurricane updates and playing on Pinterest.  Granted I did roll in style at Club Corsetti: home made meals, warm baths, tv in my room, and a visit from my adorable nephew.

So just how did I find myself at my parents laid up in bed watching basic cable?

It all began on Tuesday - I had a great visit with the doctor regarding my back and am on the way to recovery. This isn't really part of the story other than I established a relationship with a doctor who could help with the events to come...

Thursday I took a step down the sidewalk at my parents.  I felt it.  A snap.  My whole groin area was on fire.  I sat down for a while and was soon able to walk it off.  I went to bed and woke up without any pain.

Friday I was telling Eric my plans for the weekend, since he was going out of town.  My plan including mopping our kitchen floor that was getting rather slick from accumulated cooking grease, clean the bathrooms, vacuum, dust, change the sheets, and pack up books to donate.

No sooner do I tell him these things...I find myself doing a surfing maneuver across the kitchen and kitchen rug.

I was able to brace my fall by grabbing the wall and oven handle.  But I heard it again, the same pop/snap feeling I'd had the night before.  Except this time?  I.could.not.move.  I was stuck in that position.

At first Eric thought I was being dramatic (who me?).  But when he heard the panic in my voice he realized the intensity of my pain.  With his help I waddled to a chair, hoping that like the night before I could rest a few minutes and it'd be fine.

Two hours passed and I knew I was done-zo.  I called my doctor on her emergency cell and she met me in less than an hour for an exam, massage, and a minor adjustment.  Holy. Cow. Ow.

She thinks I sprained and strained that muscle group / ligament in the groin area that holds the hamstring to the pubic bone to the glut & butt.  It's on fire. It has radiating pain.  I can't move side-to-side, go from sit to stand or vice versa, roll over, get out of a car, or even sit.

It hurts so bad it's funny.  I can't cry about it. I can't take pain medication because of the baby.  So I am enjoying the occasional epsom salt bath and additional magnesium supplements ( a natural relaxer).

Thank goodness my parents were in town this weekend. I stayed at their place this weekend so they could help me with routine tasks and keep an eye on me....and yes, help me out of the bed or off a chair.

The doctor said it would be a long road to total healing, as the intense growth of the baby belly in the next three months will keep tugging on these ligaments and muscles at a fast pace.  Hey, at least she was honest and told me the road to recovery is going to be slow and painful!

Sometimes I think God gives us incidents like to remind us that we need to rely on other people for help, to remember that sometimes we just can't get it all done, and that we need to rest once in a while

PS:  I switched to a new commenting system....let me know if you have trouble

24 August, 2011

What I am loving!

Our new toy
Do you see it in there?  Sandwiched between my Macbook, our refurbished Kindle (thank you woot.com) and my phone is our new iPad!  Eric's team got them as thank you gifts for a product launch.  We'd debated about getting one with Christmas money but decided we didn't need it.  But hey, who can pass up a free iPad2?  Besides it really enhances the yuppieness of our coffee table...

Hey Mom?  Can you add the ipad dock to my birthday wish list?! 
Then I can use it in the kitchen instead of my phone to read recipes ;)

Bravado Nursing Tanks

I'm not breastfeeding yet (obviously), but I'd heard from both Lois and my sister-in-law that this brand is totally worth the money.  So when the tanks came up at 50% off on babysteals I jumped on the opportunity to order two. 

 I am so impressed that they have my size (amen!).  For the first time in my life I have a shelf bra that actually fits!!!  So, yeah,  I've totally been wearing them already :)  Soft. Cozy. Supportive. And no, I'm not getting paid to say this!

Flourless Cupcakes

C'mon, did you think I could go dessert-less after this news? Please.

Not wearing my back brace

After my appointment with the massage/chiropractor specialist yesterday, she said I could go a few days without my back brace.  Freeeeeeedoooommmm!  She's going to be guest speaking at my Bradley childbirth class on Saturday and said she'd check on me then to see if I need to wear it or hold off.  Again, love this women.

Fresh Flowers
I had a rough weekend two weekends ago so I splurged on some flowers when I was at Trader Joe's they've lasted almost two full weeks.  

My Husband's Support

Eric has been awesome supporting me through the pregnancy.  He's on board with the husband coached natural childbirth and has researched using a doula from the husband's perspective.  He wrote the rough draft of our birth plan.  He agreed to the extra expense of having my back worked on.  He's gone without new clothes while I rebuilt a wardrobe.  He force fed me protein when I couldn't face it. He's patiently sat on the other end of the phone when I cried over things like cantaloupe, broken copy machines, and being hungry.  He excitedly woke up this morning to make me my first wheat-free breakfast.  He talks to baby girl every night and calls her beautiful.

What are YOU loving this Wednesday???


Linking up with Jamie at this kind of love

23 August, 2011

Wheat Free? Oh, my!

I had my meeting with the pregnancy massage and chiropractor specialist today regarding the horrible pains, pinching, numbness, etc in my back and hips.

What impressed me about this visit is the first hour was nothing but her asking me questions about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  Um, who gives that kind of complete medical attention these days?  Hardly anyone.

It was so refreshing to have a voice while talking to a doctor.  We went through some medical history, family history, injuries, allergies, and diet.  And then she asked me some questions that I thought were really random for a massage therapist / chiropractor.

She asked if I had a history of wheat or gluten allergies in my family, and then said "you've probably suffer from IBS most of your life, right?  And this back pain for years too?"

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Okay, so I didn't know I was visiting a psychic, though at this point I was tempted to ask her for some lottery numbers. She was good.

She said I probably do have some hip and back alignment issues from injuries, accidents, my flat feet (which are now flatter with the pregnancy, thank you very much), and the weight of the baby, but that the bulk of the pain is probably caused by....

drum roll....

a wheat intolerance or allergy causing inflammation.  She said in some people the inflammation will target a muscle group causing nagging pain for years.  She also said that it's probably why I'm so tired, and well...have always had issues in the bathroom.

You're probably thinking, "duh" - but I just hadn't put it all together.  We'd gone to a lower wheat diet because we have celiac disease in both sides of the family, but once I got pregnant and nothing sounded good to eat I resorted to eating big bowls of cereal, or jumbo batches of waffles as my main calorie source.  She seems to think that this has caused a build up in my system and it's rearing it's ugly head with insufferable back pain.

So here goes nothing - a few weeks of low wheat in take for me!

As much as I hope she's wrong (no more pizza? no more beer?), I really want to start feeling better :)

The good news?  Chick-fil-a fries are wheat free ;-)

21 August, 2011

On overcoming stress and perfectionism

I spent Sunday night and Monday night in tears. I woke up again on Wednesday at 5am having a panic attack. By Friday I hadn't slept more than about 30 hours during the week. I knew somewhere in the last 10 days or so I lost balance, perspective, and my health.

It's August. The most stressful month of the year for me. This week I've been particularly plagued by stress. For the last few years Eric has challenged me to "find a way to deal with it"(Thanks, that's helpful), so that these episodes are kept to a minimum.

After spending some time examining myself this week, I have found three ways for me to "deal with it" that are healthy and don't involve running (why is that everyone's answer for stress release?). From the sound of my week above, you'd never guess that I'm doing "better than normal" this year, but this year God decided to throw a few extras at me to really put me to the test.

Here are my new go-to solutions for getting me through tough weeks. (Obviously we are all guided by different set of priorities, moral code, job/family expectations, etc, so your pressures might be weighted differently than mine, yielding a different solution)

What's more important?
The week that I took a bus full of kids to camp in 95 degree weather while 14 weeks pregnant and I came down with the flu REALLY taught me this lesson. What is more important - for me to sleep or get the perfect picture of the girls? Was it more important for me to run to Wal Mart for a fan and healthy food or to play another ice breaker? Was it more important for me to let a not-diocesan-approved Dad drive the bus home or sick-little-me risk putting 16 kids lives in danger?

Once I realized it was okay to not do EVERYTHING; that I didn't have to be "perfect", and that I had a choice, my stress level went down.

I've learned to look back on this technique and apply it this week -

  • is it more important for me to have one-on-one meetings with parents or design fancy name tags for the kids to wear in class?
  • is it more important to have a color coded roster or to get home in time for dinner?
  • is it more important to go to another Braves game or have a restful night with my husband?
  • is it more important to make a farm-raised beef, organic dinner extravaganza or grab drive-thru just to make sure I actually eat today?
  • is it more important to buy prepackaged snacks so I can make a quick lunch or save the environment and money by buying in bulk?
Friday night at 6:30 I knew I had a good 2-3 hours of work still in front of me. I was so hungry I was shaking. I was so tired I felt drunk. So I asked myself, what is more important? Taking care of myself now, or coming back for a few hours on a Saturday?

Pray/Meditate/Take a Deep Breath
I work for a church. The phrase that drives me the most crazy is "Did you pray about it?" And when I look honestly at why I hate it, is because the answer is usually "no".

It wasn't until our Bradley childbirth classes that I learned how valuable a few minutes or even seconds of prayer, medication, or just a deep breath can seriously cleanse the mind and heart, and change your mood.

This week I've applied this concept at a few crucial moments:
  • Before I slam the door on the copy machine for jamming AGAIN.
  • Before I meet another parent complaining that the Confirmation retreat is the same day as Homecoming
  • Before I return an email of a parent asking if it's "too late to register" the day before kick off (5 months after registration began!) and after the name tags have (finally!) been made.
I found myself ready to tackle these "problems" with a smile and kindness rather than being frazzled and rude. A win-win and all it took was 15 seconds.

Perfectionism is Relative
We all have things that have to be done a certain way...sometimes to the point where we are blinded to another solution or option, and it nearly kills us trying to get it done that exact way.

What's funny, is that very few people operate under the same "perfectionist" code that we do. For example, I will stay up all night baking a dessert from scratch because I can't bring myself to make something from a box for a party. While other people throw some powered sugar on a box brownie mix. Some people go every two weeks to have their eyebrows waxed, while I have no problem letting caterpillars grow on my face.

At some point you have to take a step back from these things and ask - DOES IT REALLY MATTER?!?!

The answer is probably no, because no one else sees the value the same way you do. So let it go and grab some wine.

What are some strategies you use to combat stress and/or perfectionism?

15 August, 2011

25 or 6 to 4: Pregnancy Update {Weeks 25 & 26}

How far along? 26 weeks! Approximately 14 weeks to go.  I am starting to like the numbers on this countdown :)

How big is baby? The size of a cauliflower or chinese cabbage.  About 2-2.25 pounds, about 14.5-15 inches from head to heel.  She's getting tall like her daddy!

Total weight gain: About 30 lbs.  I've been rather hungry this week so I think another growth spurt (probably for me!) is upon us.

Maternity Clothes? My answer *should* be nothing new, but I did buy a $3.78 shirt off the clearance rack at Target....and turned around and bought REALLY expensive leggings at a designer maternity store, which I won't even tell you how much they cost because I almost cry every time I think about it. 

Stretch Marks? Deep Breath. Yes.  Though, honestly, I've embraced them and am over it.  They've stayed contained to under my belly button, to which my midwife has assured me means they'll all shrink and be hidden by my panties. (I might need to buy bigger panties.)

Exercise: I had a few really good walks these two week. Mom and I ran a ton of errands.  I went to the Braves game with some friends. It was nice to get some actual distance in.  I've been keeping up with my 2x a day stretches.  I think it's time to add the cardio video back in, or some hand weights.  My arms are getting flabby.

Sleep: A week of incredible sleep followed by a week of insomnia.  I got a lot of reading done, a lot of worrying done, a lot of late night to-do lists created, and not too much sleep.  However, this weekend Eric was out of town and I made a giant nest of pillows and cranked down the A/C and slept like a tired, exhausted pregnant lady baby. Bliss.

Movement: Ninjalina has been going crazy, especially the two days I didn't wear my back brace. During a staff meeting the other day my co-workers could see her kicking me from across the table.  The pastor was trying to prove a dramatic point and my co-workers were trying not to laugh watching my belly, which made the whole thing funnier.  Eric's also been able to feel her and see her even more.  He loves it!  And I love watching his face when he gets a good kick. 

Food cravings:  Ya know, I haven't really had anything noticeable lately.  My relationship with food is semi back to normal.  I don't enjoy cooking as much, but that's more to do with my back than with food.  I still eat a lot of fruit, cereal and fro-yo, (and I've been known to combine all three) but from what I hear, those are normal desires. 

What I miss: Beer!  There.  I said it.  I really miss the taste, the smell, and the buzz from beer.  I even savored a few sips of my sister's Mich Lite at the Braves game the other night.  Now that's desperation.   When the guys were home-brewing the other day I just wanted to stand next to the boiling hops and inhale. mmmm. (Never mind that hops and pot are close cousins...) This confirmed with Eric that he did, in deed, marry the right woman.

What I am looking forward to: The moment that we get to meet Baby Girl. Our Bradley class this week was on "Advanced Labor" and all I could imagine was that precious moment when our daughter will be lifted up and put in my arms and we get to see her for the first time.  Okay, need to stop. I'm getting all teary-eyed thinking about it.

Milestones: Seeing kicks/punches from the outside. Strangers commenting on my belly. People letting me cut in line for the rest room or check out. As for baby girl, she is now considered "viable", meaning if I delivered her today there would be a good chance she'd live (obviously with a lot of help from NICU).  It's like having a mental security blanket.

It's time to start working on our birth plan.  And interviewing doulas. We still aren't sure about using a doula (open to thoughts/suggestions/comments), but are reading up on some that have been recommended to us.

Say What? 

I've been getting a lot more comments from strangers, but my favorite moment was at the Publix Deli counter....

"I think that'll be all for me today"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, ma'am"
"She (pointing to my belly) doesn't need a sandwich or anything does she?"

And from my husband (spoiler alert, if you follow me on facebook you've seen this):

Eric: Dang it! Hurry Up! 
E: Who are you talking to? 
Eric: The bacon. It's just like Baby Girl...taking FOREVER TO COOK!

Sweet moments:  My dad added me and my sister-in-law to the family AAA plan.  He didn't want his girls and grand kids stranded.  And this way he knew a reputable company would come to our rescue. Thanks, Dad!!!  This is one of those gifts that I hope I never use!

Make room for baby: Many thanks to Alyshia for the trunkful of baby gear.  Her kids have out grown a few baby items and she passed them along to me.  We got a fancy bathtub, bouncy seat, bottle brush, and a bebepod with all the accessories. 

I took my mom to buybuybaby and Pottery Barn Kids this week to look at decorating ideas, patterns, colors, and a short list of particular items that I wanted her opinion on.  We found a super cute gender-neutral set of bedding / decorations for baby girl's nursery. (Yes, we finally decided to set one up for her!)  Mom checked my choice of stroller, diaper bag, crib, etc.  I figured 4 kids and 2 grandkids, she might know a thing or two about these things.  She's a great help.

My in-laws offered to buy us a crib, so we've been emailing them some ideas.  I am hoping to find a weeknight to go shopping with them because all the stores said delivery could take 1 day to 12 weeks. Not that baby girls needs a crib when she first comes home, I just don't want to deal picking it out when she does.

Oh, and THIS:

Every night I spend about 30 minutes having a series of really deep, belly rattling burps.  The kinds that come from the depths of your gut and leave you feeling as though you could eat a second dinner.  I find it entertaining. 

Three of my fingers (thumb, pointer, middle) on my right hand fall asleep multiple times while I'm asleep at night.  I wake up and have to shake my hand / move my arm to get them to wake up.  Dr. Google says it could mean that I have carpel tunnel or diabetes or both.  I'm hoping it's just poor circulation. 

**HELP, I am having a VERY difficult time photographing in our apartment. We have little natural light, and a mix of yellow & blue light bulbs.  Everything turns out yellow in pictures and then when edited is blue. Can anyone help me?  Thoughts on a white balance setting I should use, because "auto" just isn't cutting it? Any tips on editing? I use basic iPhoto or the Premium version of Picnik.  (Thought Photoshop Elements is on my bday wish list!)

14 August, 2011

On the Rocks

When we were in Maine this summer we saw countless stores selling these Whiskey Stones.

The idea behind them is that granite rocks stay cold for a while.  All you have to do is pop these bad boys in the freezer for a few hours before a party, and then in lieu of ice cubes in your whiskey you simply put one of these rocks.  This prevents melting ice from deluding your cocktail, or from funky tasting water skewing the flavor of your expensive malt.

They range from $30-60 per set.  Yes, for rocks. 

My mom and her friend decided, "Hey, the rocks at the beach are free" So they found a few stones, ran them though the dishwasher and tried it out.  Not too bad.

So Eric was determined to find a set of his own.

We now have our own set of Whiskey Rocks.

Don't have us arrested for stealing nature. Please and thank you.

13 August, 2011

Baking with Betty: Strawberry & Brownie Triffle

Looking for something fast and impressive to bring to a summer cookout?  This is one of my favorites and it's oh-so-easy.

Strawberry Brownie Triffle

  • 1 family sized box of brownies, prepared and cooled 
  • 1-2 pints of fresh strawberries (or other berries) washed, dried, hulled, and sliced
  • 1 large tub of Cool-Whip, thawed
  • 1 box of Instant Pudding, French Vanilla or White Chocolate flavor (optional)
  • a splash of milk (optional)
Preparation (optional):
This jazzes up the Cool-Whip a bit and really sets the dessert apart.  If you want to use heavy-whipping cream to make your own whipped cream instead of Cool-Whip you can! If you don't have time, or don't care, skip this step.
  • Pour a splash of milk (okay, it's probably like 1/3c) into a mixing bowl.  Pour pudding mix into bowl and mix with a hand mixer for a few seconds.
  • Add Cool-Whip and mix for about 30 seconds
  • Cut the brownies into small squares and crumble 1/3 of them in the bottom.
  • Smother with 1/3 of the Cool-Whip mixture, spread with a spatula
  • If you're looking for fancy presentation, this is the stage where you wipe the Cool-Whip mess off the insides of the triffle bowl (example of poor presentations = mine)
  • Add a layer of strawberries.  Of course, if you're looking for nice presentation you can line them up along the edge, though you'll definitely need all 2 pints to do that
  • Repeat two more times!
  • Garnish.

I love taking this dessert when I need to bring a dessert to a part because it can be prepared at home in the serving dish and then easily transported....put cling wrap on the top and strap this bad boy into it's own seat belt. 

What did I tell you?  Easy.  Impressive. Delicious.

Tastefully yours,

11 August, 2011

With suffering comes prayer and gratitude

One of the deacons at our parish recently lost his mother-in-law. It was a long, heartbreaking process.  In the end, he said that when you or someone you love suffers, it's God's way of reminding us that we need Him and that we need to pray.

This week has been exactly that for the Two Buerglers.

As many of us do, we coast on auto-pilot day in and day out. Nothing really wrong.  Nothing really spectacular.  We're lukewarm.  And that's exactly where God doesn't want us to be.  It even says so in Scripture (somewhere).

I often catch myself in these ho-hum situations and kind of look over my should and think, "Uh, oh.  Something big is coming.  God is going to move in my life in a big way".  And then I wait.  And BOOM. Something happens.

And often, when it rains, its pours.  God is dramatic like that.  At least in my life. And most definitely this week.

  • All summer Eric's company has going through a lot of legal/political drama that I cannot discuss. He's been very patient and strong through this whole process.  It's meant late nights, early mornings, off-site meetings, private emails, etc.  The end result is that several guys lost their jobs - guys in the same boat as us, with a family or just starting families - and  yet some how Eric's job was spared.  We have no idea how or why, but we are overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving.  The unfortunate suffering of all his staff, especially those now jobless, has called us to prayer.  Prayers of hope for them...and prayers of gratitude for us.
  • One of the deacons's wife lost her battle with cancer this week.  The amount of grief that our staff is going through is challenging.  She was an incredible lady.  I can only being to imagine the heartache of losing a spouse, especially at a relatively young age.  His suffering, our parish's suffering, has called me to prayers of thanksgiving for my health, my family's health, and for the life of my amazing spouse.  
  • My co-worker and very close friend went in for emergency surgery this morning.  She had a miscarriage that was bleeding out internally causing all sorts of complications.  The surgeons were able to save all her reproductive organs and gave her a good prognosis.  However, this is the second major complication she's had in their four years of trying to conceive.  Her suffering this week has called us to prayers of thanksgiving for our own baby girl growing in my womb.
Jobs, Spouses, Health, Children.

Things that I all too often take for granted.  While the timing sucks that all these happened in a week and yes we've lost a lot of sleep and tears over them,  I am so so so thankful that the Lord has called us to be grateful and to remember the abundant blessings we have in our lives.  

I know that someday our turn will come and the sufferings will be our own.  When that day comes, I hope I can see just as clearly that suffering calls us to prayer and gratitude.  I hope that our sufferings would be witness and a call to prayer for others as these have been for us.  God uses us in oh-so-mysterious ways.  And I love that about Him.

07 August, 2011

Fiesta! Musica! Cerveza! Risa!

For those of you new here, I recently moved from a full-time position at a Catholic Church to a part-time one.  I also work part-time for a friend's lawn maintenance company.  I do his bills, payroll, keep him organized, and any other odd jobs that he throws my way....

Like hosting a summer cook out for the six guys on our lawn crews.  I made the invitations in Spanish, thanks to Profesora Google (we all know Google is a female because she knows everything...haha), and a quick proof read by Chris, my boss.

We planned a tasty menu that was American in nature but would not be weird flavors to our Mexican guests.  Chris bought an assortment of tequila and beer, made some guacamole and some peach salsa. We were ready to fiesta.

Party night came and I was really nervous. Nervous because I can barely speak enough Spanish to find a bathroom in a foreign country.  Nervous because I didn't know if any of the guys would bring their wives or girl friends.  Nervous because I was afraid they'd talk about me and I wouldn't know it!

Fortunately, my have-no-fear husband, who speaks enough Spanish to get either a weird look or a laugh, came with me.

We walked in the door an hour late.  To my surprise we were the second couple there.  They were sitting quietly in the dining room while Chris was outside getting the grill started.

Eric introduced himself in Spanish and then introduced me.  As I was squeezing between the dining room chairs and kitchen counter with my baby belly to make my way to Chris and the grill on the patio, I got a little wedged in... whoops.  At that point, the other couple laughed.  I pointed to my belly and said "silly baby".

And the wife piped up, in perfect English, "When are you due?"

And then we all laughed!

After I greeted Chris I sat down with the couple, and we talked for a bit.  The wife translated to the husband parts of the conversation.  She admitted to me that she was really nervous about the party because she had never been to an American's house for dinner and didn't know what to expect.  I told her that I was equally nervous about going to a party where everyone spoke Spanish but me!  We became instant buddies.

The rest of the crew finally arrived and Eric offered them mas cerveza.  Dinner was served.  When the guys addressed the whole table for conversation, they spoke slow enough for Eric and Chris to understand.  I have learned to pick up enough words that I can at least get the topic of conversation, so I didn't feel entirely left out.

We made jokes about Chris mixing up the words for "Shrimp" (camarón), which we had for dinner, and "Fag" (maricón).  The guys thought this was a riot and we laughed about it throughout the night.

We retired to the basement to hang out.  The guys introduced us to their favorite band, Mana, to which we watched two dozen of his music videos on YouTube (projected on the TV).  

Eric taught them how to play ping-pong, which was great because I then could play and hang out without really needing to verbally speak.  The games got a little ridiculous and we laughed and laughed.

It's amazing what can be communicated with a few words of English, a few words of Spanish, and a lot of laughter.

Our night ended with the guys showing us their homes in Mexico via Google Earth and telling us about their families at home.

(without diving into a huge political debate I will say....) Working with a crew of Mexican immigrants the last 5 months has really shown me a personal side of the immigration laws some of the states are imposing. It has been my experience that the guys on our crew are working hard to support their families, and they are so gracious to have generous employers.


05 August, 2011

Baby Girl is on Lock Down

Wednesday was my 24 week check up.  My weight and blood pressure looked good.  Baby girl's heart beat was a nice strong 167 beats per minute.

However, when my midwife, Diane, started feeling my belly for the baby's position and noticing my stretch marks she started asking questions about my back.  Ah yes, my back.

If you've been reading my pregnancy posts for any amount of time you know how badly my lower back has been all-but-killing me.  To the point where by bed time I was nearly in tears and lifting my legs to get in the shower or to put on pants was a joke.  I explained to her the pinching, the aching, and the stiffness.

She said that it's obvious that I am carrying very low, which several people have told me. And that the baby is not really sitting down in my pelvis but out in front of it.  This is causing my back, not my pelvis, to do the heavy lifting of holding Ninjalina in place.  It's also causing my skin to stretch more than necessary because it's acting like a sagging water balloon with no support. Stretchy. Stretchy.

After she manipulated my belly and Baby Girl for a minute or two, she got the baby sitting in a little better of a position (relief already!) and sent me to the store for a Mom-Ez pregnancy band.

Fortunately, she could write me a prescription and have it covered by insurance.  I was about to pay any price for it, but now that it's "free" - even better!

I've been wearing it for about a day and a half and already feel so much better.  It comes with it's own challenges - like trying to take it off and on to use the restroom - and it's a tad uncomfortable sitting with bad posture (which I'm sure the forced good posture is an added help), but over all it has already removed about 90% of the pinching and stiffness.

The best way I can describe the way it feels is like having braces for my hips and back.  It's helping to rotate my lower back to tuck back into my butt instead of my butt sticking out to counter balance the added weight in the front.  It's a bit of a little tiring feeling with all the moving of my spine and muscles, but I know it's for the good in the long run.

Part of me is SO relieved to eliminate the pain and part of me is frustrated that my body isn't naturally carrying the baby in the position she should be.  I keep thinking, "if only my lower back was stronger" or "my core was in better shape before I got pregnant" this wouldn't have happened.  But then the other part of me says two things to counter argue (so it wins):  1) I've always suffered from flat feet and weird hip and back issues related to poor alignment so this is nothing new,  just exacerbated 2) At least there is pain relief without medication and the midwife knew of this "cure"

So as you see, it looks like Baby Girl is on lock down.  She's no longer free to just "hang out" anywhere she pleases, she's gotta snuggle down in my pelvis. Get cozy, Ninjalina.  We have 108 more days together!

03 August, 2011

What I am Loving!

1. Stuff My Nephew Says

Last week I went to the mall for lunch with Connor and my mom.  He brought he's measuring tape with him from home.  He was measuring the table, chairs, me, his lunch etc.  So I asked him, "Connor, what are you measuring?" he replied, "This."  That's become his standard answer and it makes us all laugh! 

Later my mom asked him, "Connor, do you want to take a nap in your bed at Nana's house?" "No, Nana, Aunt Kdadee left a big mess in-near"  "So where would you like to take your nap?" "In YOUR bed with alllllll the pill-yows"   

2.  Gap Maternity

I had kind of forgotten about Gap having maternity clothing because, well, I thought it was on-line only.  I stumbled upon their summer clearance + 25% off sale the other day.  New dress and skirt. Done.  I'd show you pictures but they're not online anymore. Sorry!

3. Ice Coffee

Pioneer Woman has got it down.  I made the batch exactly like she said, except I ground my own beans.  (I do have my own very fancy Burr Grinder, so course ground beans are easy and consistant) I also wanted to use some decaf, fair-trade, carbon-free beans that I had at home instead of buying some already ground beans from the store.  Snobby, I know.

Anyway, I didn't have quite the right strainer (but I did have the cheese cloth oddly enough!), nor did I really plan on how I was going to store 2 gallons of coffee, so I made a big mess.  However, once I sorted it out...I have been very thankful to wake up and have delicious coffee waiting for me in the fridge.

4. Time Machine, Lion & Office '11

After nearly losing my hard drive this summer, I broke down and bought a really nice external hard drive to back up my 3 year old Mac Book, using the one button back up, Time Machine.  It's nearing the end of it's Apple Care coverage so I thought I'd back it up and take it in for a few tweaks.  During this process I decided to up grade to Lion, which doesn't have many flashy updates, but it does have some minor improvements that I like.  

Well, Lion doesn't like my bootleg version of Office 2004.  My Dad bought an iMac a few weeks ago and treated me by buying the 3 license version of Office '11 so I could upgrade.  I rarely use it (I'm a Google Docs girl), but when I do, it's a very nice improvement to the '04 edition.  If you can splurge on any of these things, I recommend it!

5. Summer Up Dos


01 August, 2011

Twenty four oceans with twenty four hearts - Pregnancy Update {Weeks 23 & 24}

Photo taken in Maine, over looking Kennebunkport about 23 weeks

How far along? 24 weeks. 

How big is baby? grown from a papaya to a mango to an ear of corn! and this week along should have gained about 4 oz.  Remember when she was only 4oz?? Crazy!  I have a visit with the midwife on Wednesday to learn more :)

Total weight gain: I have been at +27 lbs for the last two weeks. It's fluctuated daily by about 2-3 lbs, but it's averaged the same number.  We'll see the "official" reading on Wednesday. 

Maternity Clothes? Yes! I actually dug out a baggy/stretchy non-maternity shirt today, but I probably won't be able to wear it again.  I've been keeping an eye out on end of the season clearances and bought a dress and skirt at Gap for next to nothing!  But I think I am on hold until I fall comes / I can see how much bigger I get because I might need to go up a size. eek!

Stretch Marks? Do I have to answer this? Sigh. (and I really did just sigh) My belly, below my belly button, now looks like jelly fish tentacles.  I just started taking fish oil and using 100% cocoa butter to help minimize any more and to reduce the itching.  PS: My nightly cocoa butter routine makes me crave brownies. mmmm.

Exercise: This has been a chore.  I am so hot. all. the. time. I tried to do my laps around Target today and started sweating. Ugh.  Eric's been helpful at reminding me to stretch and do my squats every night.  What a champ!

Sleep: While we were traveling in Maine and in Boston I was so uncomfortable, and hot (hello, heatwave and no A/C), but since we've been home I have the fan on high and my body pillow so I'm happy as a clam.  I've been sleeping a lot again, like 8-10 hours a night + 1 nap a week.  And I still feel exhausted.  Must be the heat and this little cold I'm fighting.

Movement: Baby girl is a dancing fool.  She loves to move at bed time and within minutes of my eating a meal or sweet treat. Her favorites are ice cream, cake/cookies, and Chick-fil-a sweet tea (which is a once a week treat!)

Food cravings: very cold ice water, iced coffee, fruit mostly apples and cantaloupe, and this week....I had a vivid dream about broccoli.  I actually ate seafood twice in the last two weeks.  I ate about a half pound of lobster and a half order of fried calamari.  However, both of these were very fresh. I still can't go to the seafood section of large chain grocery stories. vom.

What I miss: not having puffy hands and feet. not aching like an old lady every night. and seeing the skin under my belly button (what's going on down there?)

What I am looking forward to: oh my gosh...loving on my baby girl.  CANNOT WAIT!  Baby Nephew Zachary came to play this weekend and he was like crack.  I could not get enough of him and it made me want baby girl to be done cooking in the WORST WAY! Most mornings I ask her to cook faster so we can hang out.

Milestones: Eric felt Ninjalina kick for the first time while we were in Maine.  We were eating lunch at Shipyard Brewing Company.  Can you imagine his joy? haha.  He loves to hold my belly now and just wait for her to kick...doesn't matter if we're watching TV, sitting in Mass, at Bible study, or out to dinner...he'll just sit there with his hand on my belly.  I'm sure it sounds annoying but I LOVE IT! And I LOVE how excited he is about her :)

Say What? 

One of my older co-workers ran into me in the bathroom and asked, "So exactly how many times a day do you go to the bathroom?"  I wanted to say, "I can't remember my to do list, what I ate for lunch, or what I wore yesterday...think I can keep track of how many times a day I pee?"  But I refrained. :)

The night we got back from Maine Eric and I ran to Publix to pick up essentials.  As he finished paying, the cashier asked him "is she with you?" to which he nodded, "yes".  She said, "So I can ask you and it's not awkward...is she pregnant?" "yes"  "when are you due? what are you having?" Eric politely answered and as we walked out she yelled, "Have a happy pregnancy"  And at that moment I felt like I was in an Always commercial.  Eric turned to me and said, "Do you get that a lot?" 

By the way, everyone knows someone who has a birthday on or around November 21st. 

Sweet moments:  While we were at Mass in Boston and I was having a "I'm really hot and there isn't air conditioning in this 200 year old church" meltdown in the Narthex, a toddler came up to me and pointed at my belly and started saying, "Baby" "Baby"  and the mom looked at me with the if-you're-not-pregnant-i'm-really-sorry face.  I assured the mom and the toddler that I was in fact pregnant.  The little girl started clapping when the mom told her that I was in fact having a baby soon.

Make room for baby: Our registry at buybuybaby is a little more complete after spending the weekend playing with all of Zachary's things.  We learned a lot about pumping and bottles from Paige, and David even chimed in on his favorite baby items.  It was awesome to just pick their brain since Z is only 6 weeks old. We're a far cry from done, but we're getting there.  The guy helping me tonight said to take my time and not let my self get overwhelmed, which has been my strategy all along.

Oh, and THIS:  Between the swelling and humidity, I had to take my rings off while we were in Maine.  I've just kept them off ever since because I'm afraid they won't come off again.  Instead of my wedding & engagement ring I am sporting Eric's order of the engineer pinky ring.  It's stainless steel and it fits perfectly. I promised Eric I wouldn't be a bad engineer while I wore it.