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video vednesday: tuna. eggs. doritos. cheesecake. tamale. see ya.

you can borrow my cd's.  not one every day.  you can try my kwanzaa cd's.  they're not yours, and you don't have to take any of them.




(still no sign of the tiniest van voorst.  todd's hoping he'll show up today so we can have a leap-day baby.  i'm hoping he'll show up today so i can stop having to act all pregnant and can start roller-derbying, drinking large quantities of margaritas in a piping-hot sauna, smoking cigarillos with my chicas, eating unlimited amounts of sea bass, and preparing for my upcoming full-contact arena football games.  pregnancy has put a wrench in all these hobbies for far too long and i, for one, say ENOUGH.  because what is life without all the bass i can eat?)

a few of my favorite things...

...about the kitchen.  (and one of my less-than-favorite things.)




this is, by far, my favorite room in the house.  mostly because it's the most finished room in the house, and i can't stand the chaos and sparseness of about 85% of the rest of this place.  (slow and steady is not my style.) 


okay, so this is our main counter space, which i've decorated with ball jars and a bunch of garage sale finds.  see the tomatoes on the windowsill?  i took this picture in september and am just now getting it up. also, that window only looks out to our lovely stairway wall.  there's a skylight above our stairway, so we do get some daylight through this window still, which is nice.


here's the other side of our kitchen.



here's a random shot of my fresh produce bowl.  who doesn't need a terra cotta bowl from jamaica glazed in questionable and likely not food-safe glaze to hold their fresh fruits and veggies?  also, i bought those bananas at aldi's over two weeks ago, and the coloring in this photo is very yellow-generous.  not sure they'll ever ripen.




on the other side of our kitchen, we have an area that i think was originally set up as a breakfast/eat-in area, but we're using it as a seating area.  since our home isn't open-concept, this is really great for when we have people over - i can be cooking and they can be chilling.  or, on really good days, THEY can be cooking while i chill.  (who even says 'chill' anymore?!)  also, i took that picture of the chairs while crouched under my island.  behind-the-scenes much? 


i love this built-in little nook thingy, but i have had the hardest time arranging it.  the upper two...quadrant...things are still a work in progress a year after moving in.  the wheat grass in the bottom quadrant is dying, which is honestly why i chose to post photos now - i didn't want to have to replant that stuff yet again.  looks great right at first, but it dies off really quickly and in the meantime requires tons of haircuts.


ANNNND...last but not least, my less-than-favorite part of the kitchen.  remember when i complained endlessly about mentioned the hole in my kitchen floor? i'm guessing you haven't been able to find it in these photos and think i'm a big fat liar.  well, joke's on you, cynic.  take another look-see:


looks normal, right?


still kind of normal, but you might be able to see where this is going.


and there it is.  from outside our house, you can see that these windows go way below the floor line, for whatever reason, so our curtains are hanging a good two feet below the kitchen floor.  and you can see through the window where our kitchen floor stops and our basement ceiling begins.  sweet.


one last shot from the driveway to help convince you this thing is real and no-nonsense.  IT WRAPS AROUND TWO SIDES OF OUR SEATING AREA.  no joke, people.  dead. serious.

once, i was outside lighting the grill, and i heard atticus screaming in the kitchen.  i looked up, and penelope was smashed up against the glass with her legs dangling into the basement and her torso stuck in the kitchen. (which tells you the gap between the floor and the window glass is about the width of a daredevil one-year-old.) atticus was (understatedly) quite alarmed and would FLIP. OUT. anytime penelope would venture into the back corner of the kitchen after that.

it was pretty funny.

anyway.  that's our kitchen for you.  huzzah.  

the real reason i'm tired of being pregnant.

it's official, y'all.  i am so. over. being pregnant.  thinking about being pregnant for one more day makes me want to be all blkajeoijreglifesucksliuboiuwoei.

yes, i am out of breath and suffering from my body's inability to regulate its own temperature.  and yes, i'm tired of being starving and eating and eating and still being starving.  i'm tired of craving muffins when i can't eat them and having to eat pot roast instead.  i am tired of having to wake up in the middle of the night to make a big production out of just rolling myself over.  and i'm tired of shaving my legs way more often than necessary (in my opinion - todd hasn't seemed to mind the frequency) just in case 'today is the day' and i don't want a nurse to see me all hairy and whatnot.

but really, the reason i'm THE MOST tired of being pregnant?

so i can get coffee during the parents' equipping hour at church without having to first scan the coffee crowd for Judgmental Coffee Lady.  i would like to drink coffee in peace and the only way that can happen is for this kid to shoot out.

the coffee bar is on the way into parenting class, so i like to stop there on my way to our table and sit with my yummy, decaf, too-heavily-loaded-with-half-and-half coffee warming my hands and making my breath smell like a den of wild animals.  and what is so wrong with that?!  but oh, no.  if JCL (otherwise known as My Personal Archnemesis) is standing there getting coffee - which she inevitably is, and full-caf at that - i have to bypass the coffee bar, go to my seat first and then roll my violet beauregarde body all the way back there.  and then what if there's a big long line? or what if JCL is still there? or what if i'm late to parenting class because i had to backtrack at about the opposite of the speed of light? WHAT THEN, COFFEE LADY?! 

because the last time i found myself getting coffee with her in my general vicinity, i was the recipient of a slightly-jocular-but-really-deep-down-mostly-serious comment about how as a preggo i should not be drinking coffee.  and she has eight kids of her own, so she should know.

i did not tell coffee lady about the many many cravings for $1 large fountain drinks at mcdonald's i have indulged in to appease my uterus.  or how for the first trimester the only thing i could keep down was frappaccino.  oh, no, coffee lady.  this child is good and wired already and my half cup of decaf coffee every wednesday is not going to change that.  call me a bad mom if you want, but do it behind my back and let me get my coffee in peace.

which she will hopefully do once i'm not pregnant anymore, merely nursing, and still drinking coffee.  but by then i will also be bringing thermoses of red wine with me every wednesday to chase my coffee with, just to make sure she has something to rebuke me over.  as well she should, honestly, if i'm drinking wine from a thermos at church.  i'll give her that.  

these are a few of my favorite things...

...about the kids at this moment.

penelope rubbing her ear with the corner of her blankie.  she has this blankie she LOVES that is fuzzy with a satin binding.  she always finds the very corner and rubs her ear when she's tired or in need of comfort. 

atticus gently disagreeing by saying, 'i think we do.'  sometimes he uses this to be obstinate, but frequently he's just trying to disagree nicely.  the other day todd asked him what he wanted for lunch, and he responded with 'pineapple.'  not seeing the two pineapples on the counter waiting to be cut, todd was like, 'i don't think we have any pineapple.'  and atticus just looked up at the counter and said, 'i think we do.'  turns out, he was right.

penelope calling all her sparkly shoes her 'party shoes.'  not sure where she picked this up, but she only calls them party shoes.  and requests to change into a different pair of party shoes every 10 minutes.

atticus asking of every pine tree we see growing along the side of the road, 'maybe that's my christmas tree?' he is still having a hard time living without the presence of our christmas tree.  not understanding that todd sawed ours into tiny pieces and carried the pieces out back to disintegrate, atticus must believe our tree just meandered down the street for a change of scenery.

penelope's understanding of colors and letters.  every color is orange or purple.  she can identify her letters, but when she sits down to read a book she just says 'A-B-C, A-B-C, A-B-C,' as though that's the story.

atticus' developing understanding of and concern for my emotions.  he'll ask, 'you really frustrated mom?' and, 'you really happy now mom?'  if i drop something, he'll say, 'are you okay?' and out of the blue he'll say things like, 'how are you doing now, mom?'

penelope's obsession with glasses.  she loves pointing out other people wearing glasses, and will request her glasses in the morning, asserting that 'glasses see better.'

atticus expressing that he wants some toy or book by saying, 'i need that at my home.'

penelope getting tired or overwhelmed and just breaking down to ask for a nap.  i'll ask her if she wants to eat lunch first or color with crayons, but she'll just get her blanket and doll and yell "NAAAAAP!"  girl knows what's good for her.

atticus taking a cue from todd and frequently saying, 'thank you for cooking my food.'

penelope exhibiting classic birth order traits and saying 'i _________, TOO!' to everything.   atticus will say something, and regardless of what it is, she asserts that it's true of her too.  "i'm hungry."  "i hungee TOO!"  "i'm a horse."  "i horsey TOO."  "i tooted."  "i toot TOO."  being a firstborn myself, i'm already bracing myself for the day when he gets fed up with her copycat antics and starts fighting back.

atticus pretending he has a baby in his tummy.  he'll make me put his hand on his belly and then he'll suck in really fast and say, 'see? he kicked you!'

penelope picking up things we've taught only to atticus.   she knows so much of the catechism that we've taught atticus, just because she observes.  what did john the baptist say? WEE-PENT.  who made you? jesus.  how old are you? three.  (that answer's a little less universal.)  the other night we went to a chinese restaurant and i told penelope to say 'nice to meet you' to our kid-loving hostess, thinking she'd simply repeat after me.  instead, she stuck out her hand for a handshake, looked right in the girl's eyes and said, "NYE-A MEEYOO." 

atticus' resistance to being called shy.  he's started asserting that he's not shy, he's brave.  so heaven forbid you call him shy.  the other day at the eye doctor, he asked me what the assistant's name was.  i said i didn't know, but that if he was wondering he should introduce himself and ask her name.  he chose not to, so i asked if he was feeling shy.  he corrected me by saying, "i'm not shy, i'm brave."  then without skipping a beat he said to the assistant, "hi, i'm atticus.  what's your name?"  ...only he covered his eyes with his hand the whole time.

penelope's funny little run.   she runs with her arms extended behind her and her wrists flexed up, like some kind of funny little bird.

atticus consistently staying dry during naptime.  he's down to just one diaper overnight and undies the rest of the time.

penelope's hair being long enough to do stuff with.  sure, it's a water-spout ponytail or a simple clip, but it's something after her being SO BALD for so long.

both kids requesting finneas' song before bed.  we choose a hymn for each of our kids and we sing these to them each night.  lately they've been wanting to hear finneas' hymn, too.  (if you're wondering, atticus' hymn is 'nothing but the blood,' penelope's is 'before the throne,' and finneas' is 'rock of ages.')

penelope demanding a piggy-back ride from todd by yelling, PIGGIES NOW! PIGGIES NOW!

atticus requesting to play with my hair before nap.  i'm not new.  i get that he's just trying to manipulate a little extra time out of me before having to lay down for nap.  but this physical-touch-loving mama is more than happy to let him drive his trucks through 'the dirt' and pretend to buzz my hair off with the toothpaste tube.

the kids are at really fun stages right now.  they're starting to play with each other and talk to each other.  often, i will hear atticus say something and ask him to repeat what he said, and he'll say, 'i'm just talking to sis' or 'i'm just asking sister,' like, you are not invited into this conversation, mom.  he'll even read to her sometimes, and on mornings when the trash truck comes, they'll stand at the window together and he'll put her arm around her and say in his most maternal tones, 'see the trash truck, sis?  see it?' 

love. it.

life sucks sometimes. just admit it.

last week i had one of those days.  you know. 

the curtain rod fell down, spilling my lacy white sheers into the hole in my kitchen floor that leads directly to a crawl space in the basement.  which meant i was picking bug carcasses and spiderwebs out of those stupid things for fifteen minutes after first having to haul my preggo load of a body into the crawl space to retrieve them.  (also, this fiasco made me right livid about the fact that the Hole to the Abyss even exists in my kitchen to allow for such things.) i fought penelope tooth-and-nail over eating her breakfast (she is a stubborn little thing who would live on milk alone).  atticus discovered i threw away one of his masterpiece coloring sheets from church and guilt-tripped me into digging it out of the trash and hanging it, shriveled and covered in garbage stains, on my fridge.  i tried printing out my birth plan and instead ended up screaming at the printer.  i spilled tea on my brand-new-to-me, vintage, hand-crocheted tablecloth.  which ended with penelope running around the house yelling "CRAP! CRAP! CRAP!" in imitation of yours truly.  my laundry smelled like old stale water because i left it in the washer too long.  and to top it all off, at the end of the day when things are supposed to start looking up, i dropped a wooden puzzle piece on my face and split my lip open.  (don't ask me how i managed to do that.)  and the self-pride i awarded myself for not dropping the f-bomb like it was hot was tainted by the fact that god heard about a million of those bad boys inside my head, even if my kids didn't hear them come out of my mouth.

one of those days.

and all i had to be grateful for that morning was that i still had stuff to be grateful for - my sweet kids, my husband, the fact that i have indoor plumbing.  and it helped a little to think about those things, but sometimes mornings just suck even when you're grateful. 

and that's cool.  just admit it.

i think sometimes as christians we get shamed into thinking that if we were just more joyful, just more grateful, that all of a sudden those things don't even hit our radar.  our printer goes berserk?  we speak a blessing over it.  our kids refuse to eat? our first response is a prayer of thankfulness that we're wealthy enough for our kids to even have that option.  our curtains are full of mummified centipedes?  we praise god for his infinite creativity in making both centipedes and the mummification process.  and also thank him for how clean our curtains usually are and also for the opportunity to slow down and work with our hands.

anyone else not even remotely close to being this kind of christian?  just me then?

not that those aren't noble things to strive for.  but sometimes i think it's okay to just say, 'god, my morning is a piece of crap.  thank you jesus that there's something more to life than forcing eggs down my child's throat.'  just knowing that christ died for my sin, that eternity is waiting for me, that god not only remembers that i'm dust but he also lived on this earth and experienced some pretty crappy days of his own, makes it a little easier to not pull my own teeth out at the futility of it all.  and funnily enough, god meets me in that place.

one of the really beautiful things about jesus is that he doesn't wait for you to be more patient or more joyful or more thankful before he gets down in the muck with you.  he said it's the sick people who need a doctor, not the healthy.  it's the people who can't make it through the day without recognizing their need for him because so. help. me. if one more thing goes wrong i'm going to scream.  it's when you realize that there has to be more to life than just the crap that hits you in the face all day that you're able to turn to jesus.  because he's the only thing that makes this life about anything more than it is at its worst.  so honestly, i think jesus is not only cool with you freaking out over your sucky day, he actually loves it when you freak out over your sucky day if you use it as an opportunity to turn to the cross.

anyone else having a sucky day and brave enough to admit it? 

video vednesday: at forward, number 13, he's a scorpio and a horrible dancer... joakim noah!

 

this is not a profound list, but it's long, and that's what counts.

i am a reader.  i always have been.  in fact, i used to get in trouble in elementary school for reading during class.  anyone else have a hard time figuring that one out?  so did eight-year-old paige.

anyway, as i've gotten older i've stayed true-to-form, although i've hit a bit of a snag: i start like a million and a half books but then the responsibilities of keeping my kids alive and bathing occasionally get in the way of me actually finishing any of them.  enter: The Best Idea of 2010.

in 2010 i started keeping a list of books i read throughout the year.  not only did it help me look back and remember what i'd learned, but also motivated me to not invest a week of time into reading 200 pages and then lose interest before reading the last 30 pages.  the one drawback of this strategy is that i end up forcing myself to finish reading books that i realize a third of the way in are downright stinkers.  but this only happens occasionally, so it's no reason to scrap the baby with the trash.  or whatever.

so here are the books i read in 2011 - books i read from start to finish and did not just skim.  i feel like i have to add that caveat because i spent plenty of time in books that are not on this list, much to my dismay, and my goal was to finish 30 and only 25 made the list.  but i still feel like i accomplished something:

1. Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup

2. Farm: A Year in the Life of an American Farmer by Richard Rhodes

3. Traditional Kitchen Wisdom: Techniques and Recipes for Living a Simpler, More Sustainable Life edited by Andrea Chesman

4. Kitchen Garden Planner by Darrell Trout

5. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder*

6. Disciplines of the Home by Anne Ortlund*

7. The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith*

8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee*

9. The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour

10. This Old Farm: A Treasury of Family Farm Memories edited by Michael Dregni

11. The Practice of the Presence of God, With Spiritual Maxims by Brother Lawrence*

12. Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild by Mary Kassian

13. The Maker’s Diet by Jordan S. Rubin

14. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder*

15. Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish*

16. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

17. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell*

18. Stocking Up III: The All-New Edition of America’s Classic Preserving Guide by Carol Hupping

19. Rodale’s Guide to Growing Fruits and Vegetables Organically, ed. By Jean M. A. Nick and Fern Marshall Bradley

20. The Big Book of Home Learning: Volume 1, Getting Started by Mary Pride

21. Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad: A Style Guide for Every Woman by Shari Braendel

22. A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence by Hirsh-Pasek, Michnick Golinkoff, Berk, and Singer

23. Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson*

24. Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

25. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (read this twice in a row)*

*books i can totally envision myself reading again.  a couple of them are re-reads from prior years.

anyone else accomplish goals they'd like to brag about? you are highly encouraged to do so.  just one of the many perks of reading this blog.
 

hopefully this will be the last pregnancy update post.

we are now about a week and a half away from my due date.  (twelve days to be precise, but who's counting?)  and i am so. ready.  i find it so funny that god figured out a way to end pregnancy that makes you go, 'sleepless nights with a newborn?  breastfeeding around the clock?  sheer exhaustion?  hemorrhoids that won't quit and a six-week long period?  boobs leaking all over my shirt in public?  GIMME.'  but however god works his wiley ways, they're effective.

and this time around i'm going to try a natural birth.  not sure how it's going to go - some days i'm all, 'yeah! let's do this!  consider birth CONQUERED!'  and other days i'm all, 'what in the world am i thinking?! i can't do this!'  so we'll see.

i've been working like a whirlwind, trying to get stuff ready for finneas to come home.  i've been nesting pretty hard, mopping my basement and cleaning out my microwave and storing up forty meals (yes, forty.  it's seriously compulsive) for postpartum days.  his little clothes are all washed and folded.  his little beds are all made (and i even made him some new flannel sheets for the little antique cradle he'll get to sleep in). 

and yet...he's still not here.  atticus was five whole days late, so my due date may even come and go with no sign of him.  but regardless, the midwives won't allow me to go over two weeks overdue (and i'm WAY freaked out by pitocin, so i'll let him wait it out inside there as long as i can before they force me to force him out)...which means that he will DEFINITELY be here in three and a half weeks or less.  (sidenote: anyone read in the bradley method book about his patient who was THREE MONTHS overdue and then gave birth to a six-and-a-half pound baby?! whut.  pitocin doesn't freak me out enough to endure twelve months of gestating.) 

anyone else feel trapped in their own home?

i've been asked several times over the last week or so if i'm able to get out much with the kids.  not exactly sure how to explain myself, i give a simple 'no' and leave it at that.  but inside i'm really saying, are you kidding me?!?!

when we just had atticus and we lived in town, i'd take frequent trips (near-daily, i'd say) in the early afternoon to distract him from that grumpy period between morning and afternoon naps.  we'd hang out at lowe's or hobby lobby or the library, or take a walk, or whatever.  i actually really liked getting out.  i had a friend who had her second baby shortly thereafter, and i remember thinking, is it really so much harder to get two out of the house than it is one?  two coats instead of one.  no big deal.  right?

WRONG.

now that i have two (nearly three, which will make this so much more accurate, i'm sure) i almost never leave my house.  even to play outside or take a walk.  getting them dressed and ready to go? impossible.  leaving the house without having to turn around to take someone potty or change a poopy diaper? glorious to imagine.  getting to where we're going and not feeling completely stressed out over keeping track of, and refereeing fights between, and keeping fed and well-behaved and quiet and occupied two hurricanes children?  unheard of.  the promise of just getting them buckled into their carseats without having an aneurism? naive to entertain.

i'm sure it helps (or hurts, depending on if you think i'm turning into a recluse) that i'm a homebody to begin with.  i really like being at home and going other places kind of wears me out.

plus, like i said, i have two kids.  which means i'm rarely wearing clothes that aren't pajama's and/or my husband's.  my hair is NEVER brushed.  and at this point in time, i shoot for a shower every two to three days.  even just hearing the doorbell ring incites panic that someone might see me.  go out into public? yeah right.

so yes. we leave when we have to.  (weekly OB appointments?! are you kidding?  especially considering those are the ones where they prefer to do internal exams? no thanks.  i'll show up and MAYBE remember my urine sample - and pray it didn't spill in my purse, but even if it did, it's not like everything else i own isn't covered in someone's urine - but no way are we doing internal exams with my kids in the room.  they (and i) don't need to deal with the trauma of them being given a close-up, eye-level shot of their original point of entry.)  and there seem to always be random doctor/eye doctor/dentist appointments that come up.  and then there's wednesday, where we run all our errands before eating out and then going to children's church.  whew.  so we definitely get out...but not more than i absolutely am forced to.

am i the only one who was completely blindsided by the lack of mobility and spontaneity that stay-at-home momming affords?

hey there GF-ers.

does that sound super derrogatory to anyone else?  just me then?

i've been eating gluten-free for a little over a year now, which is how long it has taken me to get comfortable recommending anything at all in regards to products or recipes.  there's kind of a sharp learning curve (at least there was for me) and yet you're supposed to figure all this stuff out when you're carb-deprived and therefore delirious from starvation.  what's fair about that?

most people i talk to who have eaten this way say that after a while they get pretty used to it, except there are a couple of things that they still yearn for.  this has been true in my case, as well.  i would say my strongest nostalgia comes at the thought of a krispie kreme or a chocolate chip cookie.  desserty, cakey things.

also, chewy bread.  chewy, chewy bread....dipped in oil and vinegar...

now that my mouth is entirely filled to capacity with saliva, let's move on.

so i set out to find a recipe for GF bread that actually tastes - and feels - like regular-people bread.  and i have to say, it took quite a while because GF bread mostly STINKS.  it's all crumbly and dirty feeling and generally tasteless.  and in all reality, it's a slap to the face because it seems like the world is saying, 'so you'll never get to eat real bread again? sucks for you.  and also, the best bread we can come up with for you instead is actually worse than the prospect of never eating bread again."

WELL, NO LONGER, WORLD.

i found this recipe online, and set about making it.  and y'all, i have been making it nonstop ever since.  i will even admit i make three loaves at a time and freeze them because it's SO NICE to have real-people bread on hand.  (i even made it into rolls and served them to my real-people family for thanksgiving, and they really liked them! not in a, "this is good for gluten-free" kind of way, but in a "this is good" kind of way.)

likely-unnecessary logistical information about this bread recipe:

i will say it calls for A LOT of maple syrup, which is really expensive.  to get around that i've cut it with some water, or substituted some or all of it with honey.  i wouldn't cut either of these too much with water, though, because it gets a little bland if it's not sweet enough.

also, it's kind of expensive to make, especially if you don't typically cook/bake gluten-free and don't just randomly have millet flour and xanthan gum laying around your house awaiting use.

my friend marnie successfully substituted apple cider vinegar for the white wine vinegar because...well, who really has a bottle of white wine vinegar just sitting in their cupboards?

i knead mine in my kitchenaid (the dough is indescribably sticky) then bake it in bread pans.  i'm pretty sure you could use a hand mixer to knead it instead.  i don't know if it would work in a bread machine or not.

****

well, there you have it.  my first official GF recipe-share.  anyone else have any surprisingly successful attempts at cooking gluten free in a way that doesn't make you want to kill yourself over the blandness and weird-texturiness of it all?

video vednesday: now, i'm emotionally compromised and i'm all, OMG...becky's not even hott.



register for THIS, not THAT.

todd has a friend who has been asking us to put together a registry so that he can have the opportunity to bless us...which is crazy generous and humbling. (who begs you to put together a list of stuff because they're dying to give you a gift?!  i wish i was more like him.)  so we went to target to put stuff on our list and left with a total of 18 items on there.  five of which were boxes of diapers and wipes.  and the rest of which were comprised of some baby shampoo, diaper cream, and a couple of baby gates to replace the falling-apart ones we currently own.  it's a short, boring list.  (i could have made it longer, but i figured we should be responsible for buying our own nursing bra stuffers, hemorrhoid relief products, and giant maxi pads.  i'm nothing if not willing to share the load.)

and yes, i did put a couple things on our list that i have lived without but that would be really nice, like a rocking chair and some swaddler-whatsits (i've always used normal receiving blankets, but both my kids have LOVED being swaddled, so if finneas is the same, it might be nice to have some on hand to make things easier.)

i thought i'd put together a list of things the registries act like you can't live without but you really can (and arguably should).

1. specialized diaper pail or system.  your house will smell like baby crap no matter what you do or how much money you spend on something gimmicky.  keep your outside dumpster close to the door and toss dirty diapers there, or just get a normal cheapie lidded trash can and empty it regularly.

2. cutie patootie slings.  get the mammoth, ergonomically-designed kind.  anything flimsy or one-shouldered will only get used occasionally and for short spurts at a time.  migraines will abound.  my personal recommendation is the moby wrap, although it is a bit awkward to put on and take off but boy howdie is it comfy.  (when you put your baby in it, it's like you've got a 10-pound cloud strapped to you.  it's still 10 pounds, but something ought to be said for the fact that it's a cloud.)

3. full-on outfits for really new babies.  they sleep like 20 hours a day at first, so the closer an outfit resembles pajamas, the more likely you are to use it.  and covet it for yourself.

4. expensive baby detergents and stain removers.  this one might be a bit more controversial, since i know some babies have really sensitive skin and some detergents are especially harsh (anything with live enzymes in it, like tide, might cause more problems).  but i would say more than anything it's fabric softeners and dryer sheets that are irritating to sensitive skin, and just avoiding these and using your normal detergent is way more economical.  plus then you don't have to wash baby clothes separately from the rest of the family's, saving on water usage.  basic baby hygeine on a budget? boom, roasted.

5. baby toys.  maybe a couple to hang from the carseat.  but i swear they'll ignore it for the first six months and after that they'll only want to chew on your tupperware instead, so why bother?

6. a special bathtub.  while convenient, it's unnecessary if you keep your kitchen sink clean.  i'm thinking about getting rid of our baby tub, but i'll make that call after i see whether or not the convenience factor is worth keeping it around.

7. tons of noisy and/or bulky 'holding' devices.  yes, you definitely need a couple.  probably a swing or bouncy seat, an exersaucery-thing and a bumbo.  but i promise you will not need an exersaucer, a johnny jump-up, a jumparoo and a walker.  pick one and pocket the cash and the extra storage space that the other ones would suck up.  i would recommend getting something that's easily moved from place to place and not too bulky to be centrally located in your most-used rooms.  my kids LOVED the bouncy seat that my friend jamie picked up for me on the side of the road by someone's trash can.  babies aren't real housewives.  they're happy to use whatever works even if you found it in a dumpster.  (or on craigslist, which is another great option as long as you don't get yourself raped, pillaged or murdered when you go to pick it up.  craigslist is getting scary.)

8. most things labeled 'baby einstein' or 'genius infant' or 'teach your baby to sign in binary.' i really believe that the things babies need to know and are capable of learning, they're equipped to receive without fancy or expensive stuff.  they like faces.  they like being talked to and held.  they like looking at random stuff.  mostly, babies are equipped to like stuff that is FREE.  which means New Baby and i have a lot in common.

9. those weird, puffy crib quilts.  they're really cute, but no one ever puts them to use because they don't seem warm and they are quite likely to suffocate a child to death.  both valid reasons to not invest tons of money in one, in my opinion.

10. specialty dishwasher attachments for bottley things. i never put my bottles/accessories in the dishwasher because i was always afraid that the water spots on them were old, dried milk.  yuck.  plus, if you only have a couple of bottles or if you don't run your dishwasher every day (both true at our house) you're probably going to need to reuse a bottle before the dishwasher could get it clean anyway.  buy a two-dollar bottle brush and rinse everything well and you should be set.

11. those weird head-to-toe snowsuit things.  newsflash: babies do not play in the snow.  and in the 3.2 seconds it takes to get them from the door to the car, most can be effectively bundled with a hat and a warm blanket or two over the top of the carseat.  or gimmickier, but quite effective, a bundle me.

12. specialty bath toys. a cup, some tupperware, a spoon.  maybe some dish soap bubbles when they're older.  and done.

13. baby powder. i do not know anyone who uses this.  i don't even know what it's for.  i would also lump in large jars of petroleum jelly in here.  not sure what it's used for other than lubing up rectal thermometers and about a weeks' worth of circumcision care, and in either case it's very concerning if you need such a large jar of it.

14. half the weird stuff that comes in a baby grooming kit.  you will get a cheapo but very effective baby hairbrush at the hospital.  ditto for a nose sucker thing.  and any time your baby needs a medicine dropper, it will come with the medication.  and what anyone uses tweezers or tiny scissors for on a baby, i don't know.  why spend the extra money on this stuff?  the major exception is baby nail clippers - NECESSARY. and how.  get the kind that are normal-hand-sized with a tiny clipper on the end (ours have big bulbous handle things), not the kind where the whole clipper is tiny and you can't see what the crap you're doing.  you will bloody your kid's hands faster than something really fast.

15. wipes warmer.  your kid will just be thankful (or should be) that you're not making them crawl around in their own crap all day.  cold wipes teach character and gratitude, that's what i say.  (plus wipes warmers just remind me of whatever adam sandler movie it is where they give him a hot towel on the plane and he doesn't know what to do with it so he just wipes his face and puts it back in the bowl.)

16. baby bath robe.  i can't even imagine when a baby would wear one of these if you have a hooded towel and, you know, clothing for him.  except for in the evening when he's also wearing a fedora and smoking a cigar while reading an antique, leather-bound copy of milton.  so maybe consider investing in one if your baby prefers to spend his leisure time thusly.  otherwise, un.necessary.

17. specialty make-your-own-baby-food-at-home gear.  do you have a blender or food processor and some ice cube trays? you're set.  or do what i do and skip the baby food phase altogether and just mush some normal-people dinner up after a while.


it's so funny when i think back on the things i thought i HAD to have as a first-time mom.  and how was i supposed to know any differently? the people telling me what was 'necessary' were the people making sweet, sweet moolah off my purchases.  it feels nice to look back over the things i've used and the things that have gone unused and be more confident of what all i should keep around and what stuff is a waste.

anything else that should make the list?  anything on here that you've actually gotten a lot of use out of?

why i couldn't tell you what 'niche' this blog fills.

when i get the time, i really love reading blogs.  i've noticed that over the course of january, a lot of bloggers were evaluating and re-evaluating the reasons that they continue to blog and i felt encouraged and inspired and also kind of shallow because i never think of stuff like that.  i just...blog.

i started this little guy when i was pregnant with atticus and still working...which seems like FOREVER ago.  and i basically just used it to update our four readers on pregnancy- (and later, baby-) related news.  then i went through this stage where i used it to tell people how to save money...which also seems like forever ago.  (anyone else remember frugal friday and that one time i tried to make my own dishwasher detergent? i'm way lame.)  then todd used it to update everyone on how much money he made picking up cans from the side of the road every week.  then he stopped picking up cans and the blog kind of went quiet. 

so all i'm really saying right now is that i don't really ever think about why i blog.  if pressed, i guess i would say that it's so that when i see an eighty-year-old guy in running shorts, i can be all, i bet there's a blog here somewhere.  so i have no direction for where i'm going because i just kind of...blog...and that's it.  and i can't promise frugal friday (or something equally as lame) won't show back up again.  because i just kind of blog about whatever i feel like.  (wouldn't it be AWESOME if i could manage a whole segment on candid photos of old people in shorts?!  i should teach atticus how to spell 'goldmine' so that when i come up with ideas like this he can cheer me on.)

but that's the fun part of all this.  in real life, at church, at home, you make some fergie reference or you tell your husband you want to braid your beard and you get a weird look.  but on the internet, you get more readers, some of whom are all, i know where you're coming from and i want to braid my beard too.  which makes me feel loved and understood and also makes me feel sorry for them because i bet they feel just as misunderstood as i do sometimes.

so that's why i blog.  for readers with beards and no other reason.  and that is more than enough for me.

2012!!!!!!

happy friday.

i'm wondering if a few of you early-bird readers noticed i didn't have this blog set to auto-post this morning.  and i'm wondering if any of you wondered if i'm in labor.  it's probably wishful thinking on my part because a) who monitors what time i blog? and b) i'm still three weeks out and i doubt that's 'close enough' to my due date for anyone to even think about anyway.

except i'm thinking about it.  and thinking about it.  and thinking about it.

holy cow, get this kid out of me.

yes, friends, instead of blogging whenever i have the time and setting it to post in advance, last night i took a bath, read a birth book and went to bed.  then i slept for ten hours, woke up exhausted, rolled my potato sack of a body out of bed, and here we are.  i'm ready for a nap.

anyway, if i spend too long blogging, it will not go anywhere good and you will merely realize that i've kind of become some half-human, half-hyena life form that laughs hysterically one minute then rips you limb from limb to eat you raw the next.  not pretty.  so i'll leave you with this most current and deceptively cheery looking preggo update photo:

goals for 2012.

i have finally - this week - polished up my goals for 2012.  are they so set-in-stone that i'm prepared to print off my list, laminate it, and then enter into some kind of obscure contractual agreement regarding it?  um hardly.  but it's done-ish, which is all i can mentally handle right now, so we'll call it done.

the thing with me and goals is that i'm a pragmatist.  i don't set goals for myself like 'be a better cook' or 'get awesome at being adventurous.'  the thinker in me immediately says, how that crap will i measure that to see if i'm actually succeeding?  how will i keep myself accountable? and at the end of the year, how will i know if i actually pulled it off?  because what the heck is the point of working to achieve something that you later can only assume you've accomplished?  I NEED CONCRETE EVIDENCE OF WINNING.  it's easier to rub in other people's faces when there's the possibility for some kind of trophy.

i also tried to be diligent this year in not being too lengthy or ambitious in my goal-setting.  i would love to say i'm going to read my bible every day.  but i know myself and my life and it's just not going to happen.  which means i'll end up scrapping the resolution entirely after about a week, which doesn't end up doing me any good.  so instead, i tried to pick goals that would challenge me but not be so out-of-reach that i give up before i even start.  (ex: 'run on the treadmill once a month' is more likely to at least be entertained than 'develop the upper body strength of a greek - or even american - gladiator.'  less flashy, yes, but more likely.)

i'd love to set goals about trying new things in the kitchen or making all my soaked-grain breads from scratch.  but hello, realism.  some things can wait until next year or even for years before i'm able to allow them to take principal priority.  right now, i try to feed my kids enough to keep them alive and not so much that we end up either broke or with kids who weigh more than i do.  goal accomplished.  moving on.

and finally, i did set some goals that are just for fun and have nothing to do with serving my husband or keeping my kids from starving to death.  because every new year needs a little sass.  (that motto is copyright of paige van voorst.)

so, without further ado, here we go:

Christian:

Finish my bible read-through plan.
Read the Bible at least three times per week.
Spend quiet time in prayer at least three times per week.

Wife:
Complete the husband encouragement challenge at least once.
Pray through ‘the power of a praying wife’ at least twice.

Mom:
Read to kids daily; check out library books regularly (twice a month).
Pray for kids during personal prayer times.
Pray with kids at least once per day other than at dinner and bedtime.
Read Bible stories to them at least three times per week.
Develop a plan for introducing homeschooling and catechism/scripture memory lessons.
Only have the computer out one morning per week while the kids are awake.

Homemaker:
Make and hone a weekly routine that I stick to.
Make the bed at least four times a week.
Focus on craft room/home school long-term organization and planning.
Clear horizontal surfaces (counters, table and floor) before Todd comes home.

Other:
Learn how to most effectively store photos off the hard drive.
Design family photo albums and be ready to strike like a cobra when a sweet deal on printing comes up.
Finish learning how to quilt, and finish Penelope’s.
Read 30 books.
• 3 parenting
• 3 wife-ing
• 3 nutrition
• 3 homeschooling

will they all happen? no way.  but they're a good jumping off-point to getting me at least a little closer to the kind of person i hope to be at the end of 2012.
 
anyone else out there a realist with goals like 'eat easy mac only three times a week or less'?  

video vednesday: batman! batman! batmaaaaaan!

now THAT'S what i call a good bumper sticker.

i have posted before about how ridiculous i find bumper stickers, because usually they're trying to be persuasive or funny or vaguely sexual... and usually they fail at all three.

HOWEVER.  my mind was changed yesterday as i was driving home from my OB appointment and there was a van with a straight forward, no-nonsense bumper sticker that read, dogs love eggs.

well, who can argue with that?  no one, that's who.  everyone's on board with your point, it's not overtly trying to be funny, and i am pretty sure it's not sexual... so i declare that bumper sticker the winningest bumper sticker i've ever seen.


losingest bumper stickers:

1. anything that has to do with the rapture.  (come on, christians.  let's not, shall we? unless you bumper sticker your hand mill, in which case i would chuckle.)

2. anything that has to do with cowgirl/sex double entendres.

3. campaign paraphernalia from years and years ago... minus extra points if the politician lost that particular year.  (your bumper sticker apparently had no gravitational influence on the opinion of the voting public.  mission: failed.)

4. anything (other than the winningest bumper sticker) that has anything to do with pets.  or eggs, for that matter.

5. anything that declares you're some kind of greenie weenie.  minus extra points if it's on a prius.  just because it's especially superfluous.


anyway.  i just thought i'd use this wonderful tuesday to commend 'dogs love eggs' guy and encourage us all to be a little more like him in our bumper sticker choices.

them's fightin' words.

i'm in a fighting mood today, so i figured i would make some blunt and polarizing statements.

1. i strongly maintain that butter, certain sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, and red meat are fantastic for your health.

2.  i vote conservatively and also i think fox news is THE. WORST.

3. i don't trust the medical industry.  or the government.  or the food industry.  or the news media.

4. i am willing to entertain the idea that we never actually landed on the moon.


anyone else with me?

thwr: a lesson in positive thinking from todd van voorst.

todd: i bet most people think of potentially having a disability as a bad thing.  they put it in the 'con' column, but they get to park closer to the door at church.  and i'm like, COME ON, let's keep our heads here people.  we're christians, the last bastion of silver lining in this world.  we should be like, 'see a chipmunk eating a nut? winter's not so bad.  spring is just around the corner.'


and that's how we roll. 

if you can't make fun of politics, what can you make fun of?

actually, a lot of things apparently, since i rarely talk about politics on my blog and i also spend a lot of time making fun of stuff on my blog.

politics is (sounds wrong, but i swear the grammar is correct) a touchy thing, you know?  it's a powerful vehicle to talk about and see accomplished a lot of the things that people feel super strongly about.  and while, yes, just like pretty much everything else in life i'm pretty opinionated on the topic, i don't really like to breach the issue much on here.  maybe it makes me a coward or a loser or something.  but probably it makes me a beautiful heroine with sparklingly white teeth.

that being said, though, i came across the following picture the other day and could not resist.  i would like to preface the posting of this photo by saying i actually really like newt and hope he smashes his opponents to tiny bits wins the election.  but that's just me (and hopefully enough other people to make it happen).  okay, disclaimer aside:



this actually convinces me even more that newt should win.  anyone remember the time when dwight maced roy to protect jim?  fearless.  remember the time when dwight interrogated everyone in the office regarding a joint found in the parking lot? dedicated to justice.  remember the time when pam was upset and dwight asked her if she was pms'ing pretty hard? compassionate.  now that's the kind of paper salesman and also president i can get behind.

which is why i'm launching my own newt superpack ads sometime in the near future that adopt the following as their tagline:

"newt schrute '12: dismantling the obamney campaign one logical, well-articulated argument (and also one well-timed spray to the face with mace) at a time."

now THAT'S a winning campaign slogan.  why has no one thought of this before me?

video vednesday: i poop at parties, but peoples don't know because i close the door.



i want to go to parties with jennifer just to make observation.  she poops at parties.