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Things I Love: Pregnancy Edition

12 Jun

I made a list that I’ve been emailing to my girlfriends about the things I loved during my pregnancy. It seems like it would be so much easier to write a blog post on my poor, neglected blog and then just send a link whenever someone else gets knocked up!

Most of these were recommended by a friend or something I came across during my hours and hours (and hours) of research. I love to research. The ONLY thing I didn’t research was the birth process itself – having seen a vaginal birth in action, I just didn’t feel the need to know too much. Good thing, too; I ended up having an emergency c-section!

Here’s my list:

Lucie’s List

Meg Collins, the woman behind the website Lucie’s List, seems like the kind of gal with whom I’d love to have a glass of wine or three. I initially found this one when my sister was pregnant and I was trying to figure out what the difference was between an infant car and a convertible car seat. Here are some of the things I love about this website:

– Simple, step-by-step guidance on what baby gear is out there, what to register for (and what to leave off the registry)

– Advice based on different lifestyles

– Updated pretty frequently

– Her weekly (or so) emails are a riot too, if you choose to sign up for them.

Expecting Better, by Emily Oster

The subtitle on this one is “Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know”, and I read it before I ever got pregnant. I wondered why some pregnant women avoided ALL alcohol, sushi, caffeine, soft cheeses, deli meats, and basically anything remotely fun, while others had some of these things in moderation without qualm. Ms. Oster is an economist, not a doctor, but when she found herself pregnant, she decided to go directly to the medical studies to find out what the risks were for all these behaviors and choices. It is fascinating to see what pregnancy taboos carry very little risk, while other activities with a more substantial risk (like gardening) don’t seem to garner much attention at all.

Maternity Clothes

I found the best maternity clothes at Gap and Old Navy. By signing up for the email list, I only bought when they had 40% off or more. They had sales pretty much every other week, so it was never a long wait. I would order about 10 to 15 items (different styles, different sizes) and then just return what didn’t fit. I made sure to read the return policy for everything before every order, just to make sure I was allowed to return to the store!

AVOID Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity. They were overpriced and the fabric was so gross and cheap. The black pants I got from Pea in the Pod (allegedly the ‘higher end’ line) began pilling after the very first use. By the time I’d had the baby, the fabric was basically all bumpy and pilled between my thighs. UGH.

I didn’t take advantage of it, but StitchFix now has maternity clothes! I wish they’d introduced it just a little bit earlier so I could have used it. This would be the perfect way to find some cute outfits for a baby shower, or even just something to spice up a boring maternity work wardrobe. The way it works is you fill out a pretty long questionnaire about your style, size, and preferred fit, and can even send a note to the stylist with any additional concerns. A stylist picks out 5 items that meet your needs and budget and ships them to you. If you hate everything, you can return it for free in the included return envelope, and you are only charged a $20 styling fee. If you like some of the items, you can return what you don’t like and you are only charged for what you keep (and the styling fee is credited back to you.) If you keep it all, you receive a 25% credit for the entire ‘fix’. As a fashion-inept, infrequent shopper, I loved StitchFix before pregnancy. It was even better for finding “pump-friendly” clothes for returning to work!

Baby Bargains, by Denise and Alan Fields

Despite the name and the flashy cover (“Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on baby furniture, gear, clothes, strollers, maternity wear, and much, much more!”) I loved this book for its comprehensive coverage of all the different baby brands and companies out there. Each chapter covered a different type of product for which you are shopping, e.g. furniture, mattresses, swing, etc. In each chapter, they listed the different manufacturers of the products, which companies owned which brands, and assigned letter grades based on product quality, customer service, value, where the product is made, and ‘eco-friendliness’. I referred to these letter grades again and again while trying to choose the best quality products for our baby. Despite the name, the highest rated products were not necessarily the cheapest; the authors have a philosophy that quality products that last are better than cheap ones that don’t.

However, one of the best things about this book is that the authors teach you how to look for good deals on your own. For example, many baby stores sell high end cribs for lots of money. The cribs are good quality and will last forever, however, many times the matching dresser or changing table is total crap. They give checklists on what to buy, advice about what gear is needed when, and basically it’s just a great book to read before you go out and buy anything for the baby. I bought it on iBooks so I could carry it around on my iPad for reference while we were registering.

If you are planning on breastfeeding and returning to work, or even if you aren’t, you might want to get a breast pump. Obamacare changes included requiring insurance plans to provide a free breast pump to every woman having a baby. Different plans offer different things, but I found a great way to navigate the confusion! I used a company called Aeroflow. Basically, I told them my information and they were the ones who did all the paperwork from my doctor and insurance company to get my pump. Then they sent me an email with all the choices I had to pick from, and I told them what I wanted. It was shipped to me, and it was all free. You won’t need to worry about this until 3rd trimester, of course, and you don’t want to get the pump too early (since the warranty starts when you get it.)
Registry
There are so very many places to register, and really, your personal preferences rule here. I just want to say how much I loved having a registry with Amazon and Buy Buy Baby. They both had great customer service, an easy return process (essential when you change your mind as much as I do), and reliably delivered gifts from across the country. I hate Babies ‘R’ Us and Target when buying baby gifts, and I would never recommend anyone register at either one.
That’s it for now. If I’ve sent you this link, it’s because I’m so excited for you and want to give you tons of unsolicited advice! Congratulations!
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Ten on Tuesday

6 Apr

Guess who wrote this week’s set of questions?  ME!  You may have guessed once you saw the completely random nature of the questions, or the possibility that one or two of them is a repeat.  Oh well, I’m still happy that I get to be a part of my fertile sister-in-law’s fun feature, Ten on Tuesday!

1.  If you could travel back in time, would you?  What decade would you visit?

Yes, I definitely would, but not to stay.  Just a visit.  It’s hard to narrow it down to one era or place, so I’ll pick three: the early 1800s in England, the 1920s in France, and the 1940s in America.  All because they were fun and social!

2. What was your best Halloween costume?  (fun to make? most creative?)

Polygamist Wife costume, Halloween 2008

3. Do you like your name?  If you weren’t called by your name, what would you want to be called?

My name is fine, but it’s just SO common.  Everyone in the 80s was saddled with a trendy moniker like Jessica, Jennifer, or Courtney.  If I could rename myself as an adult without any of the hassles, it would probably be to something a little more related to my family history and less trendy.  But as far as the name itself goes, I like it.

4. In the past year, what is the BEST recipe you made.  Please share it!

The Pioneer Woman’s Fancy Macaroni and Cheese.  MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.  <- that’s a link to the full recipe on her blog with pictures and everything.

Ingredients
  • 4 cups Macaroni
  • 8 Tablespoons Butter (Salted Butter)
  • 2 whole Medium Onions, Cut In Half And Sliced Thin
  • 10 slices Regular Bacon
  • 1 Tablespoon Bacon Grease (reserved From Bacon Slices)
  • ¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Or 2% Milk
  • ½ cups Half-and-Half
  • 2 whole Egg Yolks, Beaten
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • ½ cups Grated Gruyere Cheese
  • ½ cups Grated Fontina Cheese
  • ½ cups Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • 4 ounces, weight Chevre (soft Goat Cheese)
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook macaroni for half the time of the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Fry bacon until slightly, but not overly, crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Reserve grease.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet and then saute onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown and soft. Set aside.

In a pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter (and add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease for good measure!). Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 1 minute. Pour in milk and half & half, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick. Reduce heat to low. Add salt & pepper to taste. (Do not undersalt!)

Beat egg yolks and drizzle 1/4 cup hot mixture into the yolks, stirring constantly. Stir to combine. Pour egg mixture into sauce and cook for another minute.

Add cheeses and stir until melted. Add onions and bacon and stir. Taste for seasonings and add more salt if needed. Add cooked macaroni and stir to coat.

Pour into a baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until sizzling and hot. Serve with red meat or a green salad.

5. Look around – what is the nearest object or picture hanging on the wall?

The only thing on my walls is a mirror.  ONE mirror.  4 months after move-in.  Sad.

6. What was the last movie you saw in a theater?  Would you recommend it?

Avatar, and yes definitely.  We saw it in 3D, which was AMAZING.  Storyline’s kind of silly, but worth seeing.  That was months ago, so it’s about time we went to the movies!

7. Did you go to summer camp?  Will you/do you send your kids to camp?

I went to Vacation Bible School, which was about as close to summer camp I ever got.  I remember not wanting to leave home for more than one night or maybe weekend.  Based on Andrew’s amazing experiences, I’m pretty sure I will send my kids to camp.  Also, I’m planning to have children with Andrew, and he will definitely be sending his kids to the same camp he went t0, Lanakila.

8. What kind of ringtone do you have?

A beautiful Bon Iver song, Flume.  You can hear a bit of it on Amazon at the link.

9. Where is the farthest away from home you have ever been?

Australia and New Zealand.  Now, how to get back? 🙂

10. Has anyone ever written a song or a poem for or about you?

Yes.  A boy in college wrote a very sweet song for me.  And being the mature 19 year old I was, I promptly never went out with him again.  I’m guessing I was scared off.  I regret that!  If you are out there, Mike, I’m sorry!

Sunday Stills [where I’ve been the past few months]

21 Mar

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Homeslice Pizza, Austin, December 2009

Christmas 2009

Painting the new house, January 2010

Houston Zoo, February 2010

Gettysburg, February 2010

Lady Antebellum, Houston Rodeo, March 2010

the fun theory

12 Nov

Can we change people’s behavior by making the desired outcome more fun to reach?  This is such an amazing experiment!

Ten on Tuesday

10 Nov

1. What gift are you most proud of giving?

This one is hard to narrow down, because I LOVE LOVE LOVE giving gifts, and I try really hard to find the “perfect” gift.  However, the one that springs to mind is a Christmas stocking I made for my mom while I was in college.  Mom made all of our stockings.  They are beautiful, and I remember how hard she worked on them and how much time it took to make 4 of them (and then one for Chelsea, when she joined our family, of course!)  All that time, Mom used a plain red velvet stocking.  I surprised her Christmas morning by replacing her plain stocking with the new one I had made from a kit (the same company she had used for all of ours).  I sort of forgot to check what size the stocking was when I ordered the kit, and so now my mom’s stocking is about 3 times bigger than all of ours, haha.

2. What’s the best gift you ever received?

Okay, so I read some of the other answers.  Everybody said something sweet, like love and salvation, etc, etc.  However, I’m clearly not sweet.  The best gift I ever got was this computer I’m using right now.  My parents got it for me, and it has saved my sanity.  Second place?  It goes to the dollhouse my dad made me when I was little.  It was huge, intricate, full of beautiful furniture, and I loved it.

3. In honor of my husband: What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?

I’ve never broken a bone (knock on wood), but one time I fell through an attic trapdoor headfirst and scraped my back all along the stairs.  I wasn’t terribly injured, but it was scary!

4. They say everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. Who’s 15 minutes has gone on far too long? (The Gosselins are not acceptable answers, be more creative.)

New York, that chick whose real name is Tiffany from reality television.  Ugh.

5. You have 20 minutes and $1000. What do you buy?

An art deco style vanity with a big mirror.  Or a shopping spree at Target – it would probably only take about 10 minutes.

6. Tell me three blogs that I need to read.

Hmm, I read a lot of political blogs, so I don’t usually recommend them to people unless I know they would appreciate them!  Here are some of the others I like:

a. Brooke Schwab’s Photography blog My friend from high school/pledge sister who also happens to be one of the most in-demand wedding and event photographers in Houston (and elsewhere!)  She shares some of the “stories” of the couples she works with, as well as the best photographs from their sessions.  I hope if I ever get married I can afford to hire her!

b. A Texas Girl’s Adventures in Canada A Houston girl moves to Canada, adventures ensue!   A blogfriend with many of the same interests, and a fun writer.

c. Instapundit Fine, I couldn’t help myself – a mostly political blog.  Glenn Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee (the other UT) who writes about libertarianism, politics, media, technology, and other interesting stuff.

7. Would you rather go without pizza or ice cream for the rest of your life?

Ice cream, hands down.  I pretty much already live without it.

8. Would you rather go to a beach or a snowy mountain?

Beach.  Snow is a good background through the window when you’re cozy next to the fire.

9. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Total night owl.  I’m writing this at 11:21pm.  My brain doesn’t start to function until about 10am, after a Diet Coke.

10. What word do you always misspell?

I get “e” and “i” mixed up when I’m typing fast, but spell check usually corrects that before I even notice.  I’m a pretty decent speller.  I won the fourth grade spelling bee, even.  I got third place the year before by misspelling “fittness”.  [Yikes – don’t kill me!  The word “whose” is misspelled in Question 4.  :)]

Yay, I’m so glad I finally got to participate!  To read everyone else’s answers, including the originals at Chelsea’s blog, click the pic:

Good thing they didn’t wait for the cops…

6 May

or someone might have gotten raped.  And they all might have been killed.

College Student Shoots, Kills Home Invader

incredible.

10 Apr

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjx5_-SPhk0&feature=player_embedded

Religious fundamentalists make great hypocrites.

8 Apr

From Deceiver:

Juan Alberto Ovalle, hereby known as “that idiot,” faces two felony charges of attempted sexual assault on a child and Internet luring. When he’s not using graphic language to seduce a child, he narrates “a popular audio version of the Bible in Spanish” and produces a radio program for Focus on the Family.

He got caught trying to have sex with someone who he thought was a 15 year old girl in a child predator sting.

Denying it makes you look guilty of something.

8 Apr

Ed Morrissey’s been talking about “the bow” all week.

Personally, I wouldn’t have immediately have thought anything of Obama’s bow to King Abdullah.  After hearing that it was going against over 200 years of American diplomatic tradition for the President to bow to royalty, I thought maybe a bigger deal, but easily forgotten.  But the combined effort of Obama’s supporters, the media, and his Administration to deal with this is like watching the Keystone Cops.

1. First, it was said he dropped something or was picking something up off the floor.  This was allegedly why the media didn’t mention the gaffe in the first place.

2. Second, primarily from Obama supporters, the defense is:  “This is so stupid. A mistake or whatever.  Who cares?”  Unfortunately, after 8 years of lectures on how the world hates us because Bush is so imbecilic, I’m no longer persuaded by such an argument.  Particularly from the loudmouth hypocrites making it.

3. Finally, it’s the White House’s outright denial:

“It wasn’t a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he’s taller than King Abdullah,” said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Please. Don’t insult our intelligence.

Remember, Obama’s following Bush here.  People harped on his international gaffes all over the place, but you never saw this kind of orchestrated response to defend him.  Honestly, if people weren’t so eager to crown Obama as a blameless miracle man, a lot more of this stuff would just roll right off.

UPDATE:  Clearly, I missed some of the explanations.  From Sisyphus:  Top 11 Possible Explanations for Why The President of the United States Appeared to Bow Down Before the King of Saudi Arabia.

My favorite:

11. Staff placed the teleprompter too low

Go read the rest.

“Green” trend, beginning of the end

8 Apr

Vanity Fair drops its annual “green” issue after only three years:

“With so much else going on relating to the global financial crisis, we have been focusing on that of late”. Environmentalists are concerned that the decision may have an unwelcome effect on the perception of green issues. “It is vital that green living is not treated as a trend that comes and goes, but that it becomes part of the way we live,” says Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF.

It’s the price you pay when you rely on Hollywood and the fashion world to carry your message.  They’ve proven to be fair weather friends for nearly every special interest issue.  Remember when everyone wore red ribbons to the Academy Awards?  Or Farm Aid? Even Africa eventually faded out.

Via Tim Blair.