Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cell Phone Treasures from My Sis

My sister took more pictures of Josephine when she was a little Bean-let than I knew, and she recently sent them all to me. I realize not everyone needs to see even MORE pictures of my baby, but I just couldn't resist this self-indulgent post. Some are adorable and some are ridiculous. I love them all. Enjoy!

{still in the hospital!}


{love a sleeping baby}

{more sleeping, same day. such a life.}

{just snuggling}

{she used to ALWAYS sleep with her eyes open a little -- freaked me RIGHT out}

{she made this face a LOT}


{i wasn't prepared for this photo!}

{she used to do the mouth-open sleep a lot, too!}

  {she MIGHT have been comfortable}

{there are no words.}

All classic Bean. Thanks, Victoria!

Friday, February 24, 2012

13+ Weeks and Other Thoughts on The Second Time Around

I swore I wouldn't be this person. You know, the second-time-around pregnant lady who skips the Belly Book (yup, totally did it for Josie), the weekly (or even more frequent) blog posts, the constant jotting down of thoughts and memories and hopes for the baby's future. 

But I am. And I think I'm kind of okay with it. I'm sure YOU all are just fine without a weekly post that lists all the fun things happening in my uterus (Hey, my new kid already has fingerprints! But you didn't even know because I forgot to tell you!), and I am still sad that new baby might find this wealth of pregnancy details from Josie and feel neglected, but in reality, the reason it is happening is not because I don't care -- it's just because this is so familiar.

I won't go as far as saying it's easier, because it most certainly is NOT. This kid is just like his or her sister and is giving me quite the time, but with every symptom, I'm like YUP. Yup, I was so sick for three months that I begged for sweet release. Yup, blinding headaches that last for at least a week at a time without giving up. Yup, losing weight even though I produced a rather large stomach in a short amount of time. Yup to feeling lightheaded, exhausted, irritable, and so so sad for no reason.  I mean, it happened last time, and Jeremy sweetly promised if I got pregnant again there was no guarantee that I would have as terrible of a pregnancy, but what did I really expect? The same, that's what, and so far, it is painfully familiar but also sweetly familiar.

The only differences, really, are tied to the fact that I have less time to do things than I did last time. This is quite the double-edged sword, as it is good in the sense that I had less time to lay on the couch crying and feeling sorry for myself in the first trimester when I was SURE I was dying, but I also have less time to take care of myself. I have less time to read and read and read and scare the living crap out of myself each time I feel a twinge anywhere NEAR the baby factory, but I have less time to sit and think sweet thoughts about the baby and blog about the love I have for something that is only three inches long.

But man oh man, I really do love this three-inch long baby. And I remember the amazing moment when Josephine entered the world and just feel completely overcome with anticipation, knowing just how wonderful it will be. Last time I was excited beyond belief, but everything was one big question mark. I knew it would be wonderful, but I had no idea just how wonderful it could possibly be, and that knowledge gives me so much more this time around. I have a greater sense of calm, and even thought I knew last time in theory that it would all be so so so worth it, this time I know just how great my reward will be for all this yuck. 

As for me and the baby at this moment, I am definitely feeling better. I am still nauseated and tired and achey and all that jazz, but I am much much better than even a few weeks ago. I am down to taking my anti-nausea medication maybe once every other day (I try to save it for when it is REALLY bad), I am eating a wider variety of foods, and I spend much less time curled up into a ball, so that's all good news. However, I am really starting to feel the STRETCHING and my joints are already loosening up, making for a lot of pain (Seriously, do our bodies need to start prepping for delivery this early? It just seems ridiculous to me.). BUT, I am feeling better, so I am happy. Progress, my friends. And I made it to the second trimester! I made it!

Here I am, this past Monday, feeling better, and counting down to the third trimester! Bring it on, new baby! We are ready for you (Well, I am. Jeremy might have a different answer). :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: Faith

Jennifer Haigh's Faith is the story of a sister, Sheila, who comes home to defend the honor of her brother, Father Art, and investigate the claims against him when he is accused of molesting a young boy. The premise itself made me want to really read and really NOT read it, which I feel is something I don't come across too often, and I think really prepared me for the tone of the book.

Sheila, who is much younger than her brother, and therefore hardly knew him when he left for seminary, isn't all that close to her brother, yet when the accusations are made, she feels compelled to come get the real story. She finds her family divided -- some of them believe in his innocence unconditionally, and others cannot get past the vile nature of the claim and turn against him, despite their love for him. And this is the point of faith that the whole story revolves around -- we read about the faith of the Catholic church, the faith of Father Art, and explore the changes in the Catholic church over the past thirty years, but we also examine the faith of people in their family members and loved ones. It makes you think about what you would do in the same situation: Would you be able to have faith or would you need proof?

I think this book is for everyone: Catholic or not and whatever your feelings are about the management of the Catholic church, this is an interesting read that keeps you guessing until the end. It has a lot to say about human nature, the secrets that can destroy a family, and the life of the priesthood. I feel it does a very good job of exploring all the different types of people who become priests and the varied reasons they choose such a life. Many people might have formed an opinion about the priesthood (unfailingly positive or deeply negative) and might assume that only one type of person becomes a priest and he has the same reason everyone else does. I have never thought this was true, and this novel is a great exploration of the diversity you find, even in a world of rules and tradition.

Without giving away any more of the plot, it's worth the read. Haigh's style is interesting and keeps you turning the pages. The topic is one I would not have sought out, but I am glad I read it. 

Click HERE to see what others on the tour had to say.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Slow-Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Slow-Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I've been making this recipe for a little while now, and it just keeps getting better every time. I originally found the recipe here, and modified it to fit in my crock-pot (she has some industrial-sized one or something crazy) and made a few other changes. But THEN, what with the pregnancy sickness, I decided to make what I thought would be a "bland" version of this recipe (leaving out onion, garlic, and spices), and I LOVED IT. I thought it was better than the original. Maybe it's my pregnancy taste buds, maybe not, but I thought using only three ingredients really let the main flavors come through, and it tasted much more like the soup we used to always get at Bennigan's (YUM).

So, first up is the three-ingredient version, then I will give you my original version.

Slow-Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup

2.5 pounds russet potatoes, washed but NOT peeled, then diced into 1/2-ish inch cubes
4 cups of chicken broth
8 oz of cream cheese (I used low fat)

1. Add potatoes and stock to slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours.
2. Remove about half of the soup to a blender or food processor, add cream cheese and puree until creamy.
3. Add blended mixture back to rest of soup and heat through, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes).
4. Add toppings of choice! I added crumbled turkey bacon and cheese (and when not pregnant, some jalapenos).

Old version (still delicious)

2.5 pounds russet potatoes, washed but NOT peeled, then diced into 1/2-ish inch cubes
1 small yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled
4 cups of chicken broth
8 oz of cream cheese (I used low fat)
1/2 tablespoon each, salt and pepper (more or less to taste)

1. Add potatoes, onion, garlic, and stock to slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours.
2. Remove about half of the soup to a blender or food processor, add cream cheese and puree until creamy. Be sure to get all 5 cloves of garlic in the blender.
3. Add blended mixture back to rest of soup and heat through, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes).
4. Add toppings of choice! 

So, obviously, it depends on the taste you are going for, but the top version was just so much more pure and the potato and chicken flavors were much more pronounced than they were when they had to compete with all the onion and garlic. Also, like I said, the top version reminded me of the Bennigan's version, and the original blogger said her version tasted a lot like Houlihan's version, so if you are a fan of one or the other, you will know which recipe to try first. Either way, it's fast and delicious, and Josie said "YUMMMM" with every single bite with both versions. I love her stamp of approval. :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

She Learned THAT Word

I have a student who told me his one-year-old has been walking around saying "shit" likes it's going out of style. Sometimes I envy him. Josie finally learned the word that I was hoping she would never add to her vocabulary: "NO."

Welp, that's all for me folks. Where do you go from here? It's a constant no-fest around here.

"Hi, Josephine!"

"Daddy's home!"
"No. No no no."

"I love you!"

Except, I guess it's pretty cute that she actually say "Nah," and she usually says it in a very offhanded way. She hasn't shouted "NO!" with all her might yet; she just says Nah, Nah, Nah, all day long, like Eh, that's not really my preference, but thanks.

The first time she said it, I was at work, Jeremy was sitting on the couch, and she all stretched out next to him on the couch and she reached out her hand and started whining in the general direction of the coffee table. Jeremy picked up a toy and held it up, asking, "Do you want your giraffe?" and Josephine said "nah." He proceeded to hold up five more things and ask if she wanted it, and she said "nah" to every one. She ended up not wanting anything on the table, but was suddenly satisfied. You know, from all the negative responses. It just kept going from there.

My favorite so far has been one day right after nap when she was sitting next to me on the couch and we happened to catch ten minutes of The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That (which she LOVES; she scream GO! GO! GO! and cracks up), and as it ended, she just shook her head and said "no" over and over -- she was telling the show she didn't want it to end. Love that kid.

She has never really learned "yes" either, which might sound bad (like we are people who never say yes) but she learned "bubble" yesterday during what was probably only the fourth bubble bath she's ever had (She eats the bubbles. Every last one of them. So we space those things out.), so I'm pretty sure the kid just learns words based on other reasons, not how often she hears the word. At one point she would say "yah yah yah" while bobbing her head up and down to say "yes," but then she quit abruptly. Then, this week she started saying "Kuh" (we think she is saying "okay" since apparently I say "okay" a lot) when we ask her questions and she wants to give an affirmative. 

"Are you all done eating?"

I'll take it.

While the constant "nah" is not my favorite, she has also recently learned some other cute things that distract from her ability to say "no."

  • When Jeremy gets home from work, she still gets all excited and runs over and meets him at the door, but now when he takes off his ID and gives it to her to play with, she points at his picture and yells "Dada! Dada! Dada!" over and over.
  • She is REALLY getting into dress-up!

  • She was walking around on her tippy-toes last night at her 18-month well-visit. Tiptoes? Are you kidding me? It feels like she just learned to walk!
  • She can pull herself up to peek over the back of the couch:

  • I finally got one of her new dance moves on camera (you might have already seen it on facebook; if not, here is my dancing queen):

  • And finally, she also knows a whole heck of  a lot of animal noises and can point at some body parts, which we love hearing over and over. I didn't get all of them, and it spans three videos, but there were distractions like seeing herself in the camera and crackers and dogs. Such is life.

What can I say? She's the best ... even though she says "no" all the dang time. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cloth Diaper Poll!

Cloth diapering peeps, I have two very important questions for you:

1) What do we think of the bumGenius Freetime All-In-One One-Size Diaper?

bumGenius Freetime All-In-One One-Size Cloth Diaper
(I'm thinking snaps because I am having some velcro issues at the moment)

I'm not sure how new this diaper is, but it is the first time I am considering it, and having used cloth diapers for a year and a half now, the main feature I am attracted to is also the one that is giving me the most pause: It is all one diaper -- no stuffing, no inserts, just a solid ol' diaper that you toss in the wash.

I love it because YAY, throw it all in the washer and dryer and then it's ready to use! No assembling for hours a week! Double yay!

BUT, I fear it because I am currently doing another huge long strip on all my bG 3.0s (Through no fault of their own -- I can only assume -- these diapers are the bane of my existence. The 4.0s are awesome. Did I ever tell you how I solved that whole funk problem I was whining about before? I'm thinking I didn't, so maybe I will do that soon. Sorry for that tangent.) and have already spent TWO DAYS trying to get the inserts to an acceptable state. So, are the diapers really going to get clean enough if the inserts can't come out? 

However, in reading the description, it says the inserts are "semi-attached." What this means, I could not tell you. Maybe there's a video out there I can watch. And all this rambling was premature. But STILL, I love the opinions. So give them freely if you could.

2) Does anyone out there have any experience with cloth diaper "Pull-Ups"? I am considering them and wondered what the overall consensus was on them? Worth it? I'm sure it depends on how long your kid actually needs them before being fully potty-trained, which, unfortunately, cannot be accurately predicted, but anyone with experience who is willing to fill me in would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, clothies!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review: The Weird Sisters

Usually when I am asked to do book reviews, I get introduced to new authors, but this time I got offered a book that EVERYONE and their mother has been asking me if I'd read yet: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. The book centers around three sisters raised by a Shakespeare-obsessed father who return home to care for their sick mother and are thrown back into the issues and arguments of their childhood, so maybe it is because I have a Master's degree in literature, or maybe it's just because people think I'm weird, but they're all shocked that I haven't read it yet.

I'm not going to lie though -- I felt a lot of pressure once this book appeared and starting hanging out on my nightstand. I was sure I was going to have to keep my guard up, that this book would have little hidden references that only "literature people" would get, or that the book would be simple on the surface but that everyone would be talking about the hidden metaphors and whatnot and make me feel stupid when I was done reading because I had missed it all.

Thankfully, as soon as I began reading, I was assured that this was a novel I would love and it was not out to "trick" me. I did not have to be on guard; I just had to enjoy the ride. The sisters Bianca (Bean), Cordelia (Cordy), and Rosalind (Rose) were so real from the first few pages that I knew I wasn't going to be able to stop reading until I learned everything about them that I possibly could. 

The most interesting thing about this book is definitely the sisters, and the weird part is that they are flawed -- OH so flawed -- and they make it clear that they don't like each other at all -- how can sisters dislike each other as much as these women do? -- but somehow I still liked them, cared about their plights, and wanted to know how things ended up for them. It took me a long time to shake that "We really dislike each other" line that appears early in the book, because my sister and I might not be joined at the hip, but I would never characterize my feelings for her that way. It's just a sister thing, and these sisters don't have it. But in the end, that's one of the things that makes the book interesting, and the book is definitely unique in many ways, so it really all comes together and all makes sense in the end. 

I hate book reviews that give away the plot, so I won't do that. What I will say is Eleanor Brown is some who better write a LOT more books for me, and all those people who were telling me to read this book were definitely right.

To read more, visit the BlogHer: http://www.blogher.com/bookclub/now-reading-weird-sisters

I was given a copy of The Weird Sisters and compensated for this review, but it reflects my own opinions, because I'm mean and would tell you if I hated it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Review: Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife

I didn't know anything about Raymond Moody when I was offered this book for review, but I now know that he is a pioneer in the field of near-death experiences. I thought I was getting his memoir, but this book is hard to characterize. There is some information about his personal life, but not much. What the book actually entailed was a recounting of what triggered his interest in a topic, then how he conducted research, then what he wrote about it, and what he said in the book, and then it is repeated when he gets interested in another topic. In the end there are a few revelations about his personal life that tie into his decades of research, but nothing that gave me shivers or anything.

I was really on the fence the entire time I was reading this book, so I think I will break it down into reasons I liked it and reasons I didn't like it so much.

Positives: First of all, I had no idea that Moody actually coined the terms "near-death experience" and "out-of-body experience," among others. Once I knew who I was reading about, I was interested in his research, I really was. I also liked that if you had never read anything by Moody (like myself), he basically summed up his major studies and publications, giving you an interesting overview of his work. If you think you might be interested but not enough to read all his other books, then this book is for you. I was also very interested in many of his beliefs regarding the therapeutic purposes of near-death experiences, past-life regressions, and scrying. 

Negatives: If you have already read Moody's books, or plan to, a HUGE portion of this book is him repeating what is in those books, so if you are already familiar with him, you probably aren't learning too much from this book. If you're looking for details about his personal life or deep insight into his mind, I really don't think you'll find it here. In fact, I often found myself wondering if this was just a big promotional event to get his other books selling again, which made me swear to NEVER buy one of his other books. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like the function of this book was just to remind people that his books were best-sellers. 

I was truly fascinated by the way Dr. Moody explained these activities, his personal interpretations of them, and how he believes they can be used for therapeutic purposes, but I just kept feeling like I was reading the Cliffs Notes versions of his great works with a few bland transition stories in between. 

However, I do think some of these topics might be ones I read more about, even though they never interested me before, so in the end I suppose that makes the book a success, right? 

If you've read this or other Moody, I'd love to hear your opinion. If you'd like to hear the opinions of the other readers on this tour, click HERE for the schedule.

Friday, February 3, 2012


So ... I'm pregnant. Now that we're all caught up, let me tell ya some things. These  ... symptoms? I don't like to describe it that way. I mean, I don't have a disease, just something growing inside of me ... okay that sounds kind of disease-like, but STILL. These ... side effects? GUH. Someone tell me a better word. Moving along. The side effects of pregnancy are rather difficult for me, which makes me really glad that I blogged so g-d much on my baby blog the last time around, because now I can go back and be like, Huh, is it NORMAL to have a headache that lasts for 3 weeks without giving up at all? Oh yes, apparently it is for me, and last time the doctor said not to worry about it. Got it. And again and again and again ad infinitum with all the annoying things I am feeling.

One thing I did not have to go back to the archives to remember more clearly? The CRYING. Oh, the crying. 

I will freely admit that I was a crier before the knocking-up of it all, but I had gotten much better in the latter half of my twenties ... Veronica, no one is helped by you crying every time the Humane Society commercial comes on. Donate money or turn off the TV. Everything else you do is pointless. See how logical I had become? But these hormones -- they are NOT JOKING AROUND. Obviously my body is rather susceptible to these fluctuations, which is why I still can't bend at the waist without puking and I get dizzy in the shower, so why would I expect to not be bombarded with all these extra feelings.

Sorry. Couldn't help myself.

I cry ALL. THE. TIME. I cry on the way to work. I cry those three nights a week when I get home from work and see Josephine's little face in the monitor, knowing I wasn't home to put her to bed (it's not like she's putting herself to bed or something -- JEREMY is the one doing it, so it's not a big deal, but ... it just is a big deal). I cry if she wakes up in the night because I'm JUST SO TIRED, then I cry because I should be concerned about my BABY who is obviously having troubles and will also not be well-rested and happy in the morning, then I cry about crying while holding my baby in the middle of the night and likely confusing her. I cry a lot.

However, the biggest mistake I have consistently been making is watching GLEE. I started watching at the beginning of the second season, and so for the past few weeks I have been watching all of Season 1, which then immediately sent me re-watching all of Season 2. It's a slippery slope. I ask Josephine, "Want to watch the singing and dancing?" and she claps and screams. That means YES. She freaking LOVES that show and dances the entire time. 

Anyway, the problem is, that show makes me cry anyway, but now pretty much EVERY musical number shuts me down. For example, here is a short list of a few of the songs by the GLEE cast that made me cry in the past few days:

"River Deep, Mountain High" was one of the songs I listened to over and over the first time I was pregnant, and I know that the song is not really about this, but I just kept imagining this little person I had been dying to meet and had hoped and wished for for years and years, and I just knew that I loved her more than anything already, and I would love her more and more every day, and one day her and I would sing and dance to that song in our living room. Welp, I just started crying when I typed that run-on sentence.

Good god, then the glee kids sang "Born This Way" while one at a time revealing shirts that had something written on it that they used to not like about themselves but had come to accept. SOB SOB SOB.  Every show has a culminating musical number like this, where some big emotional climax is being expressed through song -- like I said, I cry when not pregnant, but every single song now makes me think of my kids. I hope my kids love and accept themselves and can ignore people who want to make them feel bad about themselves. Like I said, SOB.

Then there's this one: I played it for Jeremy, and he was genuinely confused at my tears. I know the verses are talking about something else, but the chorus -- "Tonight/We are young/So let's set the world on fire/We can burn brighter/Than the sun." I know it sounds like such an old person thing to say, but I didn't set the world on fire when I was young, and I truly hope my children burn brighter than the sun in the glory of their youth. I hope they do the things I was too scared to do. I hope they really live their lives, unafraid of what other people say, and do the things that will make themselves happy and proud and fulfilled.

And the Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"? Come on. I cry every time I hear that, even when I'm NOT pregnant.

It's just that combination of all those young voices and the dancing and the glimmer in their eyes. It kills me. Even songs like Bruno Mars' "Valerie" and John Legend's "Rolling in the Deep" send me into tears. When I told Jeremy that I thought the GLEE version of "Rolling in the Deep" was more moving than the original version? He almost lost his mind. I don't know what to tell you. I just can't help myself. 

Someone take away my Netflix. It's the only solution.

P.S. Obviously, I do not own the rights to any of the youtube videos or songs posted here. Take it up with youtube, not me.
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