“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
--- Douglas Adams

Friday, August 31, 2012

Birthday Boobs and Living Without Regret

There's a blog traffic viewer I use that records the key words and search terms people use to  find my blog. I have to admit I don't get very much stranger-traffic this blog. I don't really get much traffic at all. I have a few faithful readers, but for the most part, I know who they are. The stranger-traffic I do get is usually accidental hits from people looking for other people's pictures I've stolen from my own picture searches.

There are some search terms that people use really puzzle me. One such term is "Birthday Boobs."
I can figure out why one might land on my blog by searching this term. Being over 40, I have yearly mammograms. My birthday is in October. October is breast cancer awareness month, and for the past few years I've written about getting mammograms. Makes sense that if someone does a google search about "Birthday Boobs," "Happy Birthday Tits," "Mom Boobs," and the like they would come across my blog. What I'm puzzled about is WHAT THE HECK ARE BIRTHDAY BOOBS?

I did a search on the Urban Dictionary and found that Birthday Boobs are the act of sending pictures of boobies, naked or clothed, to a birthday boy or girl.

Huh.

That's not the crowd I was targeting, but whatever.

On the total flipside of the spectrum, but equally puzzling, there's this poem. I don't know who wrote it or what the title is, but when people type in the phrase "life is too short to wake up with regrets" they sometimes end up on my blog looking at a summary of August 2010. I can't figure out why. There's no tie-in like there is with the Birthday Boobs thing.
Anyway, here's the poem in its entirety.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
Love the people who treat you right.
Forget about the ones who don’t.
Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands.
If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy.
They just promised it would be worth it.


 Nice poem.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

On the Risk of Paying for it Later

 





One of the many fun things pregnant women deal with during the later stages of pregnancy is heartburn. The growing baby inside of me, to make room for herself and all her things (fluid, placenta, cord, etc.) has to push my guts and organs either up or down. My stomach is now located, or it feels like it's located right at the base of throat. Most, if not all meals and snacks give me varying degrees of heartburn. I have tums stashed in every room in the house in case I need quick relief. I have to evaluate each meal before consuming it. What's the risk of heartburn with this meal? Is the heartburn I will get for this meal acceptable? Sometimes what constitutes "acceptable" is the degree of heartburn something will cause, but most of the time, like tonight, what constitutes acceptable is a combination of how much I'm craving the meal in front of me and how hungry I am.

A bunch of years ago I worked at an awful restaurant. OK, it was a good restaurant with an awful work environment. The place was owned by two men. One ran the front of the house, one ran the back. The staff at the front of the house had been there for quite some time. They were a loyal staff and most of them were happy. The staff at the back of the house didn't fare as well. After being hired at this place I learned that the position I was hired for was open because in one day, right before opening, seven members of the kitchen staff walked out. That should have been my first clue that I hadn't made the best career decision in taking a job there. When I finally did quit, I walked out in a super big huff, making a big scene. I got home in tears. When I told my boyfriend (known today as Hubby) that I had quit, he took me in his arms and said "Thank God, I hated that job."

As bad as the job was, I learned a lot about food preparation and fostered some rockin' knife skills. One of the dishes I had to make used tomatillos. At the time, I knew what tomatillos were, but I had never cooked with them before. I used to make a great soup there using pork and tomatillos. I don't remember the exact recipe, but I do remember the method used to make it. Over the years I've played with it and have come up with a yummy dinnertime tomatillo-laden treat.

Today I was craving some sort of manifestation of that dish. See, it's never the same thing twice, but that's OK. We're cooking, not baking.

Sometimes it's a soup. Sometimes it's a stew. Sometimes it's served over rice. Tonight it was served with potatoes. It's always served with tortillas, lime slices and either sour cream or plain yogurt and Cholula hot sauce (Tapatio is a good substitute, Valentino is not)

I knew right away, at the very birth of this craving that I would have wicked heartburn. My craving was so strong and I enjoy this dinner so much, I decided the level of heartburn was acceptable. I would be paying for it later, but I would just have to tough it out. This dish is too yummy.

Tonight's Tomatillo Stew
a bunch of tomatillos, outer husks removed, quartered
some smashed but not chopped cloves of garlic
some carrots cut into bite sized pieces
some onion halved and cut into slices
potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
salt and pepper
pork stew meat
flour
white wine
chicken stock

Sweat the tomatillos, other veggies and s/p together. Add a little bit of stock to the pot if it looks too dry.

While the veggies are sweating, get some pork in tiny bit sized pieces. I used stew meat. This dish does not call for yummy pork chops. It calls for stew meat or odd cuts of pork. There is no need to cut up your beautiful chops in to bite sized pieces for this dish. Go cheap. You need some connective tissue in this dish.
Coat the pork with some seasoned flour (for my GF friends, I've used rice flour for this instead of all purpose and it works great, but tonight I used AP flour). Fry up the pork in a single layer in a pan. When the fried up bits are a nice color, turn off heat and transfer contents to the sweating tomatillo pot. Add some white wine to the frying pan, turn the fire back on and get all the yummy fond off the bottom of the pan. When all the fond is removed and the wine is cooked, transfer it all to the sweating tomatillo pot. If you have more pork left to cook, repeat the deglazing process after each batch of pork frying. The white wine used here matters a bit. You don't want to use something you wouldn't normally drink and you don't want to use a super oaky chard. Oak will make the dish taste tinny. Tonight I used a mid-priced Reisling. It worked out pretty well. After all the ingredients are in the sweating pot, add some chicken stock (or veggie or whatever) until the ingredients are just covered. Cook the whole thing until all the ingredients are all happy together, the flour from the fond and the pork is cooked, the connective tissue has broken down and you have a nice yummy stew. Serve with tortillas, sliced radishes and sour cream (or crema or plain yogurt).

Super yummy. Tonight I made a big batch so I can freeze it and have handy comfort food at the ready for nights I don't feel like cooking after the baby comes.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Termite Queen: Andrea's Rules for Bed Rest




I've sort of been on modified bedrest.

I had a bit of trouble with the idea of it, but am slowly coming around and I'm almost ready to admit to my doctor that she did the right thing by forcing me off work.  Hubby said I needed to embrace it and be like the termite queen and let him and The Kiddies do  my bidding while I cook Chicken Pie a bit longer.

I just finished up my first full week of being off work and taking it easy. Doc said I don't have to stay in bed, and I can sit up, hang out on the couch instead of in bed, get up and make myself a meal, live my life, but with a bit of caution. I have to monitor my blood pressure and if I see it's creeping up, I know I'm doing too much and I have to cut whatever activity that was raising my BP out of my routine. I've already eliminated some things. I'm not allowed to drive. I can go to, but I can't participate in hula class. I can't go to Target or walk down to the beach. I can do small things, though. I went to parent night at The Girl's school. I also went to a wedding. OK, the wedding was probably a bit much activity for me, but I wasn't going to miss it and when I got home, my BP was OK.

In being on quasi-bedrest, I've learned it's very easy to neglect one's personal hygiene when one does not have to be anywhere but the couch or the bed. Then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think egads! my family has to look at this? And what's that smell? Is that me?

So, in wanting to keep myself at least a little bit more attractive, keep me feeling good about myself and in wanting to not look like I've given up or have gone to seed, I've created a few rules I must follow everyday, just to keep myself a bit sane, and keep myself from becoming a stinky frumpy mess.

1. Shower - showering every day is important, not only so I don't stink, but sometimes the hot water on my back gives it a big relief from the big belly it's supporting right now. It also prompts or encourages me to follow some of the other rules listed below.
2. Hair - maintain a root-free existence. This isn't a daily task, but I don't want roots in my pictures at the hospital with the new baby. Also, I can't just throw it in a pony tail and call it a day. I have to take the time to brush it. As a side note, I've been going through this weird phase I want a haircut. There's this weird phenomenon where pregnant women want to cut their hair. I'm not sure if it's just a pick-me-up because we feel so big and yucky at this stage or if we convince ourselves that getting a haircut will make us look more normal and feel less pregnant. Whatever the case is, it is usually a bad idea to cut your hair at this stage. Just wait until after the baby is born.
3. Make up - I'm not a habitual make up wearer. I tell The Girl that make up is like jewelry. Some days you need none. Some days you need a little. Some days you need a lot, but you never ever need it to be beautiful  I have this uncle who is missing an arm and a bunch of teeth. The only time I ever saw him wearing his dentures or his prosthetic arm was at weddings and funerals. (maybe he wears them more often and it's just my perception that he only wears them on occasions that usually dictate having to wear a tie. I haven't seen him since I was junior high. I could be way off the mark) I'm not going to say I'm like him only wear make up to weddings and funerals, but I definitely don't put it on daily. The event has to sort of rate a certain level before I put on make up. I decided on the days I get to go out and do something, even if it's just to my doctor's office, I am going to put on some make up, even if it's just mascara and lip gloss.
4. Getting dressed - It's so easy to not get dressed. I can't go anywhere. I wake up wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt. Why not stay in it? Not wanting to encourage the frumpy-ness creep, I've decided I have to change every day out of the jammies. It's OK to change from one set of yoga pants and t-shirt to another, but a clear line has to be drawn as to what is pajamas and what is daytime clothing. Being comfortable is necessary but I can still maintain a level of comfort without compromising proper grooming.
5. Doing one thing a day - I'm not really allowed to do much, but I feel like such a slug not doing anything. I decided I have to do one thing  a day. Today I walked a block to the produce market, bought some veggies
and came home. I also did a half-ass Shery Bobbins type cleaning job on the kitchen. Tomorrow I plan on asking Hubby to bring up all the laundry that needs to be folded and I'll fold it while watching bad TV. Maybe I'll get lucky and Mother May I Sleep With Danger or The Disappearance of Vonnie will be on the Lifetime channel.

At this posting I'm 34w4d. So close yet so far away. Pray that I stay healthy and Chicken Pie gets to stay in the oven for at least another 3 weeks.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

33 weeks, 5 days

So the other day the doctor put me on maternity leave. I'm so bummed about this and am working hard to convince myself that I'm not a failure for going on leave early.

The first 27 weeks of my pregnancy were pretty darn text book. I really thought this would be a piece of cake.

Then week 28 hit, literally. The Boy and I were watching the gymnastics Olympic trials. He got a little too excited and did a flip on the couch and landed square on my belly. As a precaution the L/D department at my medical practice suggested I come in and get checked out. While there, I mentioned the headache I'd been having and the medical team quickly switched gears and decided to admit me. I ended up spending the weekend in the hospital with one of the doctors telling me I'd have Chicken Pie by the end of the week, and another telling me that my situation wasn't as dire as the first doctor had said but I probably should stop working.

I told the doctor that as long as I had a choice, my choice was to keep working. I was going to work until I no longer had a choice.

I did all the right things. I stopped hula dancing. I stopped driving. I started monitoring my blood pressure and enduring nightly calls from a nurse who checked on me (ok "endure" is the wrong word because the call only takes 5 minutes and for the most part isn't a big deal, but there's this one nurse I can't stand and I'm always happy when I answer the phone and its not her). I told work that my departure was going to be sooner rather than later. That my plan to stay until 38 weeks was going to change and they should find a temp for me now. They did. The person they sent was definitely not the right fit. I started feeling better. I think work stopped seeing the urgency in getting me a temp faster and because I was feeling better, I think I stopped seeing the urgency as well. I finally got a new temp. This new temp is supposed to start tomorrow. Trouble is, I'm not going to be there tomorrow.

At my last appointment I saw a doctor I hadn't seen before as my doc wasn't available. This new doc put me of work. There was no changing her mind. I tried to explain to her that I get bad white coat fever and while my BP is high at the drs, it has been good at home. She said if my BP was good at home, I should stay home. I tried to tell her my temp was starting tomorrow and I wanted to be able to spend even a few days with him. She stood her ground and still insisted on taking me off work.

Now, I've never considered myself a workaholic, but I do consider myself loyal and I hate putting people in a bind. I know that the health of my baby is way more important than making sure a conference room is set up on time. By staying at home I'm keeping my baby and me healthy and safe. I just feel an extreme amount of guilt that I'm not living up to all my responsibilities.

I'm hoping tomorrow, when I wake up without an alarm buzzing at me at 5am, but instead by a 4yo telling me he's hungry or wants to watch Caillou I'll feel differently. And here's to hoping Chicken Pie stays in the oven for at least another month.




Monday, August 6, 2012

Not quite there yet: An Open Letter to Straus Creamery

organic banana ice cream


Last Saturday I went a familiar journey for my family. We got burritos for dinner. This enterprise always seems to take more money out of my pocket than it should but such is life, eh?

Here's how it goes.
The Fam wants burritos for dinner, all except The Boy who would rather have pizza. No worries, there's a pizza place down the street from the burrito place where we go that sells by the slice. A slice of pizza that he will eat is way cheaper than the burrito he won't, right?

Here's the sequence of events that causes the trouble -

I drive to the street where the taqueria and pizza place are located and park the car.
I go into the pizza place and order The Boy his slice (single slice of pepperoni) plus, since I really like their salads and their bleu cheese dressing, I get one of those, but I can't just get a small salad, what if my family wants some of the salad, too. I have to buy a large because I'm not going to share a small salad. There's $15, (tax and tip included) out of my pocket. This place is super yummy, but a bit pokey. I have to order the pizza first to maximize my time.
While they are making my pizza and salad I walk over to the taqueria and order my burritos. I get The Fam's usual (Chile Relleno Burrito for me, Super Carnitas for Hubby and Bean/Cheese/Rice for The Girl). $18 out of my pocket, again, including tax and tip.
While my burritos are being made I go into the little market that separates the pizza store and the burrito store. This little market is a little pricey, but great. I'm not complaining about the prices, really. It's a little independent market that has a great produce department (they always seem to have a really great and diverse selection of apples), interesting candy, great sodas with interesting flavors, and really good ice cream. Their beer selection is a little lacking, but there's a liquor store on the corner so, no worries. I usually hand over a good $20 to this place each time I visit.
I go back and pick up my burritos, then walk over to the pizza place and pick up The Boy's dinner and my salad.
I go home.
All in all, it's about a $40 dinner, about $10 a head. Expensive dinner for just going out and getting burritos, but pretty yummy just the same.

OK, so here's my complaint / observation from last Saturday's adventure.

Being that I'm just about 32 weeks pregnant, and have gained less than 10 pounds total, I gave into a craving and got some ice cream for dessert. I toyed with getting standard Chocolate, and then something fruity like Strawberry, but then something caught my eye. Straus Family Creamery Organic Banana Ice Cream with Brown Sugar and Chocolate Chips. It sounded really interesting and really yummy.  The flavor brought me back to when I was a kid and we'd be at summer camp and make these things called "banana boats" where we'd carve out a canoe in a banana and stuff the canoe with chocolate chips and marshmallows, wrap the whole thing up with foil and throw under the camp fire's dying coals while we ate dinner. After dinner we would dig out our bananas and eat them while they were still too hot to eat, we'd all burn our mouths, but they were super yummy and we'd be mad we couldn't have more than just one.

My intention was to put The Boy to bed, then crawl under a blanket with The Girl, two spoons and a pint of ice-cream and watch "Say Yes to the Dress" or something like that.

What could go wrong?

As it turned out, nothing really went wrong, but it didn't really go right.

I liked the ice cream better than The Girl did, but I didn't go crazy for it. It definately didn't bring me back to my "banana boat" days. I could see where they were going, but they weren't quite there yet. The bananas tasted like Banana Flavor and not enough like Bananas, much like Laffy Taffy flavor, the Brown Sugar wasn't subtle enough and the Chocolate Chips tasted a bit waxy (although I find that most chocolate chips in any kind of ice cream, in any brand has this texture / flavor - it's a problem that plagues every creamery, not just Straus).


This ice cream was definately a winner in the making, but not quite blue ribbon yet (or Gold Medal yet - we are in the middle of the 2012 olympics, afterall).

I suggest they take it off the market, do a little bit more R/D and bring it out again later. Maybe lighten up on the Brown Sugar, add more bananas (and banana chunks?) and remove the chocolate chips in favor of adding a chocolate ribbon. Ribbons seem to be better crowd pleasers than chips.

In the meantime, I like the Straus brand and trust it to make yummy things. If I see another flavor that strikes my fancy, I will most certainly buy it without hesitation.




Thursday, August 2, 2012

Third Time Around the Block

I was talking with someone about what I still needed to buy for the new baby. She assumed that because I have a 4 year old that I had everything I needed. My response was "I was 37 when The Boy was born. Why would I have another kid? I got rid of everything as soon as The Boy stopped using it (or he broke it)."

Here I am, 4 1/2 years later and 8ish weeks away from my due date with baby #3. 

With Baby #1 I was over the moon happy. I was 27, been married for almost a year when we found out about The Girl's pending arrival. I told everyone I knew as soon as the stick I peed on turned pink. Today The Girl is the most extraordinary person on the planet and I'm forever grateful she's mine.

With Baby #2 I was more than a little freaked out about having a baby at 37. It took me a few months to get over the shock. Once I hit the second trimester I was in full acceptance and happy about my little bundle-to-be. After a few little stumbling blocks resulting in some time in the NICU, The Boy is happy, healthy, creative, fun, loving and as energetic and stubborn as they come. I'm so happy God chose us to be his parents.

With Baby #3 I was calm when I found out. It was an unexpected surprise God gave us, to say the least. I was reserved, but happy.

I have to say I never thought there'd be a #3, I never considered a #3 and certainly never planned for a #3. I feel remarkably blessed to be able to do this again and welcome this new baby with open arms.

Yes, I know I'm older and will be just days away from my 42nd birthday when the little Chicken Pie is born. Yes, I know there are more complications involved. Yes, I know I'm not the hot little number I was when I was 27 so this event is harder on me physically (and mentally). Yes, I know I have no money, so how the heck am I going to provide for her. Yes my house is small. Yes, I know all this stuff. I'm not ignoring it. I know it's there. In fact, It's easy to get freaked out about all the negatives and sometimes I have to talk myself down off the water tower and remind myself that God is in control and I can handle this.

All that said, I am really grateful that I get to experience this at least one more time. Being pregnant is really kinda cool when you stop to think about it.

Sure there are the not so fun parts, like the morning sickness in the beginning, being dead tired for the first 16 weeks, hungry all the time, but unable to eat; having super-smell so everyone and everything makes you gag; then later having ankles the size of hams and not being able to fit into your shoes (although wearing flip flops all day is nice); getting carpal tunnel in my hand / forearm; being monitored for pre-eclampsia every single day; the back pain; the fat fingers; the weight gain (thankfully, I've gained less than 10 pounds and I'm at 31w2d at this posting); peeing when I sneeze or laugh or cough; getting anemia then the constipation that comes with the iron supplements I have to take; other complications that made the doctor tell me I can't drive or hula dance until after the baby is born. It's not all cute little booties and foot rubs.

But get this - I get to grow another human inside of me, one that I made (with Hubby's help, of course). I get to feel her squirm around inside of me, watch my belly dance at night. I get to feel her cutie little hiccups. I'm responsible for making sure this little-bunch-of-cells-turned-human has a safe journey in her development. Then, I get to hold this little baby that I baked inside of me, smell her cute little head and call her mine. That's so cool.
The whole process, even including the discomforts, is pretty remarkable and I feel really blessed that I get to experience it again.

Welcome now my friends to the show that never ends

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Nice Pictures - Where'd you steal them from?

Some of the pictures in my blog were taken by a photographer called Julie Michele. Some of the pictures were either taken by me or someone I know. Some of the pictures were ripped right from the internet, mostly from google image searches from photographers to whom I may or may not give credit.

Rest assured I make no money from any of it.