Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh Well

It turns out that you should ask yourself a question or two before committing to posting everyday for a month. The first of these questions is, "will I be in a small rural town in Northeast Arkansas for any amount of time this month?" If this answer is yes, you should then ask yourself, "will I have access to internet at all?" If the answer is no, maybe you should rethink the posting everyday plan.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

On Hysteria and Turkey

I sounded angry yesterday, huh? Don't know why. It was just meant to t be a "look at my neat birth center" post. Let's chalk it up to pregnancy hormones, shall we?

One more day of work and then Thanksgiving break! I will also be chalking up my hoarding of pies to pregnancy hormones. What a neat excuse this is turning out to be!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Other Reasons We Do What We Do

So I mentioned a few things we love about the midwives before, and I guess I should revisit that and explain why we chose one in the first place. It is a surprisingly touchy subject, though I am not entirely sure why. I virtually never bring up our plans because I get two reactions. The first is defensiveness from people who think we disapprove of their way of having a child, which we absolutely do not. The second is, "oh, you'll never go through with that." THAT being natural childbirth, or breastfeeding, or cloth diapers, or whatever has come up.

It is just so rude! Think it if you must, but don't say it out loud.

I KNOW we might not do all of these things when the reality of the situation hits. Childbirth is unfathomable and unpredictable, breastfeeding is difficult and painful, cloth diapers are extra work. Dur. But is there any harm in planning it the way I would like for it to occur?

Phew! Having said all of that, let's get back to the point. Why did we lean toward midwives and natural childbirth? Sergio was born at a birth center with a midwife. His mom really enjoyed that experience. My mom had my brother and I naturally as well, though I don't believe it was necessarily planned that way. I have two good examples of women who managed just fine. It is a matter of if they can do it then I can do it too. Another reason for the midwife is the amount of information I have gathered over the last few years. If the pregnancy and delivery remain low risk then I will have much more control over labor than I would in a hospital. Small things like being able to move around the room, sit in the shower, walk around outside, eat, and drink, to big things like whether or not to induce labor will be within my control. After the baby is born I can hold her for as long as I want before passing her off for inspection. Do I want to wait to cut the umbilical cord until it stops pumping blood, or even hours later? I can do that if I so choose. And I can leave as early as four hours after I give birth. The whole thing is set up to give parents ultimate control and to promote intimate connection with the newborn. These are still just a few of the reasons, but I am rambling.

Why did we choose this particular birth center? Well, take a look.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kickin' It

I began feeling the baby move around nineteen weeks. I thought it would begin more gradually than it did, but instead found myself awake at about 4 am one day giggling at a decidedly new sensation. It has gotten stronger and more regular over the last two weeks, and Sergio has been able to feel her moving around about three times now which he is thrilled about, of course.

I wish I could be more romantic about this process and write poetically about all the new things the baby does. For the life of me, though, I can't find a better description of the movement than, "it feels a lot like gas bubbles." I come by this honestly since the first thing my mother asked when I said I thought I was feeling her was, "it feels a lot like gas, doesn't it?" We are a sentimental family.

I am enjoying the moving. Every little while I get a quick moment of connection and reassurance that everything seems to be going along okay. Sometimes she fills up a boring moment. I was standing in class the other day waiting for something to do when she went nuts right up around my belly button. This is much higher than I normally feel her. I pushed on my stomach where I had felt her and she stopped moving. As soon as I let go I received a mighty kick. We did this two more times. It was most likely entirely involuntary, but it made me feel like she had accomplished something cognitive. And it made me laugh.

The only downside to this whole thing is that she seems to think my bladder is a toy. I don't really mind that too much, I guess, since it in no way affects what I eat. I love food.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good Old Fashioned East Texas Gumbo

We made this gumbo recipe tonight and it was really really good. You should make it also.


1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1 pound hot smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, cut into cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
3 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
3 cups cooked chicken, previously roasted
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions
Hot Sauce, optional
4 cups cooked long-grain white rice, previously cooked


In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and stir in the flour. Stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate.

Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4 to 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the sausage, chicken, salt, cayenne, pepper, and bay leaves and stir well. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the stock and stir well to combine with the roux mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and green onions. Ladle into deep soup bowls. Serve with hot sauce, if desired. Place a scoop of rice in the middle and serve.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Into the Fire

The teacher that I assist went home sick about thirty minutes after arriving today.  It was urgent and entirely unexpected, so I was thrown quick sub notes and wished good luck.  Class had already begun.  

Complete terror is facing a class of thirty fifth graders for two hours and trying to hide the fact that you are reading the notes for finding the area of a triangle under the overhead projector.  I bet she is getting a lot of calls for homework help tonight.   

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Comfort Foods

These are my favorite foods; Pho and Menudo. One has raw beef thrown in it and the other has tripe. They are both spicy and delicious

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Because You Couldn't Live Without These Details

5:30 am:  Alarm goes off.  Hit snooze.
5:39 am:  Alarm goes off again.  Roll out of bed and find my glasses.  
5:39-6:20 am:  Shower, get dressed, makeup, dry hair, eat breakfast, check email, wake Sergio.  
6:20ish am:  Leave the house.  If I leave even a minute after 6:30, I will miss the morning meeting.  
7:00 am:  Attend morning meeting.  
7:02:  Meeting ends.  Make copies, pass out morning work, try to look busy until 7:15.
7:15:  Kids come in the room.  Help students with morning work until my tutoring kids arrive.  
7:30:  Tutoring kids arrive.  Rush them to get breakfast and morning worksheet and then hassle them endlessly to finish morning work in time.  
8:00:  Send kids back to class.  Help organize binders and hassle them to finish opening activity.
8:05-10:00:  Hassle one student all class long to stay on task.  I actually sit at his desk with him.
10:00-10:45:  Teach opening activity, check morning work and homework with new class.  
10:45-12:00: Roam around the room to keep kids on task or to help them out.  I am not supposed to sit during this time unless tutoring a child.  Find LOTS of students to help so that I can sit.  
12:00-12:30:  Lunch.  I wait at least 10 minutes to warm up my food.  Then I sit in the car for fifteen minutes while I eat so that I can make any calls I need to.  I have to go back in five minutes early in order to pick up my second round of tutoring kids, who are always let out of class early.  
12:30-1:15:  Tutor five kids
1:15-1:45:  Tutor seven kids that are all on different levels with different abilities.  
1:45-2:00:  Planning period. Make copies, file, grade, etc.
2:00-2:30:  Teach the opening activity, check homework and morning work with final class.
2:30-3:00:  Tutor three boys that DO NOT want to be tutored.  Don't I understand that yet?
3:00-3:45:  Roam around the room helping the last class.  Look for kids to help so that I can sit.
3:45-4:15:  Pull my last tutoring kid to help him with his homework.
4:15-4:45:  Roam the room and help kids with homework.  Tell 3o kids over and over that they MAY NOT go to the bathroom.
4:45-5:00:  Walk kids outside and yell at 100 car riders that there is no talking while waiting on parents.  
5:00-?  Make copies, file, parent meetings, staff meetings, etc.  

I work 50 to 57 hours a week if we have saturday school or I have to go to meetings.  I get paid a starting teachers salary.  You wish you were me.  

Monday, November 17, 2008

Copy of famed Lincoln letter turns up in Dallas

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,--

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Step Closer to Velour Sweatpants

On my to do list today:

scrub the bathroom
do all the laundry
clean the kitchen
wash the sheets
vacuum the floors
buy toilet paper, tums, and fat pants

I had varying levels of success. The kitchen and bathroom are done, but the floors and laundry are only mostly done. The sheets are clean but the bed is still unmade at the moment. I did manage to hunt down the maternity department of Gap. It was in the very back corner of the Baby Gap, strangely enough. I then discovered the unadulterated joy of stretchy paneled pants. Pregnant or not, everyone should be wearing these things. They are silly comfortable.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


According to Wikipedia, on this day in 1864 Sherman burned Atlanta.  Now don't we all feel a little more prepared to appear on Jeopardy?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some Reasons We Do What We Do

I just spent about a half hour casting aimlessly about the internet trying to find something to post today.  I was hoping to find some sort of topic I could put my own spin on or just steal outright (like a game to link, not a post to plagiarize, sheesh).  But I didn't find anything that would work. Bummer.  
We went to our monthly midwife check up today.  I love going to a midwife.  We walk in for our appointments and I go straight to the bathroom where I check my own urine and weigh myself. After that we might chat with the office manager, who is two weeks more pregnant than me, or we might go right in with the midwife.  No waiting.  We see different midwives every time so we can get used to everyone.  It is nice because when I call to ask a question I can talk to anyone.  Half the time I just ask the office manager because she knows every detail of our pregnancy, too.  It is all very personal and cozy.  Our appointments generally only take about ten minutes anymore.  Measure the stomach, listen to the heartbeat, ask/answer a few questions.  All of this is reason enough to choose a midwife over a doctor, at least for us.  None of these reasons is why we originally sought out a midwife, though.  I'll save that for another day since I need to stretch a little material over the whole month of November.
I learned today that I have to begin eating two eggs a day.  Great.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

300th Post

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred.

We have consumed items in bold.  Won't try items in italics.
It's hard to believe the number of things on here that we haven't eaten. Well that's a challenge then.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Physics, Baby

This game should take up any time you have available.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Glad I am Beyond All of This

I once promised to tell you everything that set off my gag reflex for the first sixteen weeks of pregnancy.  I realized when I tried to write that post that I was still much too close to that period for reflection.  But then today I ate 10 chicken nuggets and a small Frosty for lunch so I think it is safe to say that I have moved beyond the vomit stage.  

Top ten things that made me puke:
10.  Bad breath, including my own.
9.    Brushing my teeth (anyone see a predicament here?)
8.   Eliot's "business"
7.    Most food smells
6.    Standing in the shower
5.    Anything in my mouth for too long, including my own teeth and tongue.  Especially food bits found sometime after the meal was over.
4.    My own saliva
3.    Vitamins
2.    The smell of vitamins
and the number one thing to cause me to puke...
1.     Items in my nose.  I puked every single time I blew my nose.  I puked in public once when a tiny hair from my head tickled my nostril.  I puked many times just thinking about the times something touched my nose or got stuck in my nose or I realized I might have to blow my nose soon.  It was awesome.  

P.S. If you are still thinking of trying this yourself one day, I will tell you what helped a little as well.  The smell of shampoo, the smell of laundry detergent, lemon, ginger, pudding, clementines, and saltines.  However, I no longer eat any of these items because I associate them so closely with unpleasantness.  Fair warning.  Oh, and Zofran and Phenergan.  In fact, mostly just these helped.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Suck It, Pregnancy

Dawn is 20 weeks pregnant today. That's half way, pretty much, for all you out there. And as one who can count himself as a bystander to this wondrous spectacle, the next 20 are bound to be better for Dawn.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Name.

I have always spent an inordinate amount of time thinking of names.  Names for hypothetical children of my own, of other people, of pets, of other people's pets, etc.  Since I know that everyone obsesses about names like I do (Ha!), I will tell you how we finally picked our baby names.  

If I had a child when I was under the age of ten (let's suspend rational thought for a moment), I would have named it Carson.  It worked for either one!  I liked this concept, as evidenced by my gender unknown pet parakeet at the time, Parker.  

Around fourteen I would have named my twin girls Autumn and Tatum.  I no longer have anything to say about those names.  

I loved names like James and Edward at this point for boys, but where is the fun in that?

Around sixteen I switched to Wesley, Trent, and Spencer.  

And then you marry someone and realize that they might not agree that their child should be called Nico or named after your great Aunt Gert (I don't believe I actually have a great Aunt Gert, but I did have a great Grandma Myrt).  And so you have to come together on names in some way.  Had Sergio had a child at any time growing up, it would have been called Jake.  Nothing wrong with that, but it never took hold with the both of us.   At first, it was easy.  We loved the names Aiden and Isabelle when we first married.  But then the whole world named their children these names.  Okay, how about Wyatt, Jasper, or Henry.  Same thing.  

Not only all of that, but we are not the first to have kids in our families.  Not by a long shot.  On one side of my family alone I have roughly thirty young cousins, nieces, or nephews that all have two names each.  Can't use any of those!

So, in response to all of this Sergio and I began taking action a couple of years ago.  We wanted traditional names that could stand the test of time.  We wanted names that we could see our children growing into as adults.  We wanted names that told a story, that could work for a professor, an author, an athlete, etc.  And we wanted it to be unpopular.  

In order to accomplish this we spent lots of time taking any name that struck our fancy and plugging it in to the social security administration baby names website.  This site tells you how popular a name has been in the last 100 years.  This process is remarkably hard for boys since the names "B" and "Linda" have been in the top 1000 boy names over the last 100 years.  Just finding a boys name at the bottom of this list is good.  And that is how we finally settled on three options for our kids.  Rosalind (isn't on the list), Burl (hugely unpopular), and Amos (on the list, but low).  And there you have it.  

I have lists of names for everything from dogs to ferrets to case anyone ever needs an idea for anything. 

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Eighties or okay?  I don't really care, I guess.  I just really needed a haircut.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Practice Environmental Law

Today was a typical friday at EPA, and by that I mean that no other attorneys were around. So in an effort to take up some time I walked a half mile to the "grassy knoll", that's right the original "grassy knoll", where Kennedy was shot and where conspiracy theorists abound. It was really an interesting time, there are "X's" where Kennedy was shot, you are allowed to walk on the actual "grassy knoll" and you can go up to the 6th floor of the former book depository where Oswald set up shop. Again just a typical day for me. 

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Okay, sure.

Strange things are happening to my belly button.  In turn, I am having strange dreams about said body part.  Once a night I wake up from a dream that an old man's nose is growing in place of my naval.  And it is really super sensitive to everything.  Like air.  I dream that my belly button is a male schnoz that hurts much like a bad toothache.  Is that normal?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Did You Know Area = Length x Width? I Had No Clue

Somewhere around the ninth grade I finally figured out division.  Not in math class either.  I was on my second round of pre-algebra at that point and I spent most of my class time writing terrible short stories that were most likely slightly disturbing.  Angst and all.  Anyway, I don't remember learning anything in that class at all, but at some point that year I wrote out a long division problem and solved it successfully out of boredom.  
In the last three weeks I have learned my times tables.  Yes, I could multiply before, but I never had need to spout off all my threes in a row, or my nines.  In fact, for the first time in my life I can do my nines without using my fingers.  I am sure my second grade teacher would be proud.  I know I nearly caused her head to explode at the time.   
And now I am assisting in a 5th grade math class trying desperately to hide the fact that math still makes me hyperventilate.  How is that going?  Last thursday I leaned over to the 10 year old on my right and asked how you find perimeter before leaning to the ten year old on my left and explaining how to do so.  

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

History Has Been Made

And we couldn't be happier.  

Poetry, Yuck!

Election Day, Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
Twould not be you, Niagara--nor you, ye limitless prairies--nor
your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite--nor Yellowstone, with all the spasmic
geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing, 
Nor Oregon's white cones--nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes--nor
Mississippi's stream:
--This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name--the still 
small voice vibrating--America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen--the act itself the main, the quadriennal choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd--sea-board and inland--
Texas to Maine--the Prairie States--Vermont, Virginia, California, 
The final ballot-shower from East to West--the paradox and conflict, 
The countless snow-flakes falling--(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity--welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
--Foams and ferments the wine?  It serves to purify--while the heart
pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Something Is Happening Tomorrow...What Is It again?

At long last it is election eve.  We are all a twitter.  Anxious and nervous and excited and hopeful and many other emotions wrapped up in a big messy ball.  While we wait Sergio is reading everything election related he can get his hands on.  He would stay home glued to the internet and television for the next two days if he could.  

This is really worth reading no matter your political leanings.  And it is short (bonus!).

Go Vote!

Obama/Biden '08!  (Oh, you knew we couldn't hold it in forever.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Beginning of a Month of Senseless Posts

We realize that everyone with access to the internet has already done this, but it is funny.  So here you go.  

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Belated Happy Halloween and Weekend Headlines

We just managed to carve our annual pumpkin this year.  We put it on the stoop around 8:30 last night.  Since we pretty much missed Halloween altogether we decided to make it work for two occasions.  

It is an elections pumpkin as well!  That is the democratic donkey, in case you can't quite see. Here is another picture just in case.
In other news:

Eliot finally got a haircut and seems SO happy.  

After a two month interview process and three week working probationary period, I officially have a job.  Almost as a teacher.  I am a teaching fellow in a 5th grade math class.  I don't really know how that happened but I would appreciate it if you would stop laughing.  

Sergio and I early voted this week.  It was our first experience in a booth since we normally are either absentee or mail-in ballots.  It was thrilling.  If you haven't already, make sure and vote on Tuesday.  

Today is Nikki's birthday.  Happy birthday, Nikki!