29 August 2008

Mover and Shaker

Speaking of food (see recipe review below), Ceín mentioned that he likes pictures of the "taquito wrap." This post is for you, Ceín!

This is where I laid him down...

...and this is where I found him.

The first picture was staged (I took it after he woke up, which explains why the taquito is so loose). The second picture was not. I found him lifting his legs in the air and grunting as he worked on shifting positions. Mobility may come earlier than I am hoping...

Recipe Review: Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

My dear friend Sarah occasionally posts recipes on her blog (thank you!), which is where I acquired this one.

1) A great way to get rid of that old banana
2) Quick, on-the-go snack (and a quick recipe, too)
3) Relatively healthy alternative to banana bread

1) almond extract and molasses flavor is fairly strong if you're not partial to them

Patrick doesn't like almond extract, so I substituted vanilla the second time I made them. I also replaced the molasses with an extra T of honey and enjoyed them more the second time around.

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

Dry Ingredients--mix in a medium bowl and set aside
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
2 T wheat germ (optional)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 tsp cinnamon

Wet Ingredients--mix
2 egg whites
1 banana, mashed
1/2 c plain, nonfat yogurt
1/2 c applesauce
1 T honey
1 T molasses
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 375º F. Grease muffin tins with cooking spray.
Gradually beat dry ingredient mixture into wet ingredients. Stir until well blended. Batter should be lumpy. Pour into muffin tins and sprinkle with oats.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. Yield: 12 muffins

Nutrition Facts.

Cals: 80, Fat: 0.33 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 89 mg, Carbs: 16 g, Sugars: 6 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 3 g

27 August 2008

What a Life!

When we went to the temple, the weather was pretty unreliable. We went from trying to find shade, to finding shelter from the storm every few minutes. Jonas, of course, was none the wiser about his royal treatment.

26 August 2008

Book Review: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn

Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
2 stars
Twilight, Book Level 4.9
New Moon, Book Level 4.7
Eclipse, Book Level 4.5
Breaking Dawn, Book Level unpublished (I assume it's right around 4.5-4.7)
I just read all four in the series, but instead of reviewing each one,

I’d rather lump them into one big novel. Granted, the first three were much (MUCH) better than the last, but they all had a general blah factor for me.

PROS. One thing I absolutely LOVE about the Twilight series is that it has so many self-professed “non-readers” actually delving into literature. For me, the greatest value in her work is seeing so many people read. The literary mediocrity is almost nullified for that reason alone.

1) Zero character development. They were all flat and thus, unable to relate with.
2) Details were either scattered or lacking, making it difficult to make predictions. I often found myself wondering if this was a clue, or if it was just poorly written.

Breaking Dawn. Hmm. Such a strange addition to the series, it requires its own little bit of commentary. This was rather far-fetched, even for a werewolf-vampire story, and by far-fetched, I mean not well-supported. Fantasy fiction typically has that “yeah right, like that could ever happen” feeling because that is the defining factor of the genre.

If I had not just had a baby, I don’t think I would have understood her decision to keep the growing unknown in her belly. Granted, that is a feeling that cannot be fully understood if you have never been in that situation, but Meyer made no reasonable rationale for Bella’s strong conviction. Jacob was the closest to explaining it when he remarked that it was “so Bella” to be a martyr. In addition, who wrote the middle of the book? The beginning and end went together (albeit, they were still boring). The middle was a completely different story (um, did the Jacob/Leah thing have a point? Because that could have been good) and I’m not really sure why it was included (although it was more entertaining).

Big Disappointment Number 1.
How anti-climactic! The Volturi is the all-powerful vampire ruling class. They have ruled for 3000+ years and have a guard of deathly proportions. And yet the final “battle” turns into an argument between Caius and Aro. And Bella saves the day with her amazing self-control (which, by the way, was not her strongpoint in her mortal life). And they lived happily ever after.

Big Disappointment Number 2.

Jasper. He could have been an AWESOME character! I just wanted something more. Anything. He has an intriguing past, real weakness, and an analytical mind. Please. Challenge me with a dynamic character. I can handle it.

Big Disappointment Number 3.
Edward’s mind-reading ability was a cop out (but didn’t have to be). “I am not going to let you figure it out, I’ll just tell you what everyone is thinking because I didn’t put enough clues for it to make sense and for you to figure it out on your own.” Again. Please. Challenge me. I’m begging for it.

Overall, the vampire love saga was a great idea written by the wrong author. Paradoxically, the books are lengthy, yet the details are limited. And unfortunately, imaginary worlds with immortal beings and shapeshifters need slightly more detail than, say, a story about regular kids (Mike Newton and Jessica Stanley) attending high school. Most people already know the nitty-gritty of high school. Worlds made up in someone’s head need to be fleshed out a little more for the general population to understand and relate.

All in all, these books didn’t live up to the hype (for me, at least). I say, forget Edward Cullen and his smoldering eyes. Here’s a real dream man who does live up to all the hype.

Book Review: La Línea

La Línea by Ann Jaramillo
Book Level: 4.3
4 stars

Miguel (15) and his sister Elena (13) are from a small village in Mexico. Their parents left for California seven years prior and have finally made enough money to send for Miguel. On his way to cross la línea (the border), Elena sneakily follows Miguel and tries to go with him. The novel follows them, highlighting the dangers they face on their journey.

This novel made today’s political climate even more confusing. Illegal immigration is such a fiery topic right now and I certainly have strong opinions about what should be done. Without giving away any of the story, this put a very human face on illegal immigration and shed light into the sacrifices made by both sides of the argument. Portions of the novel are written in Spanish, but there is plenty of context to figure out what is being said if you are not an hispanohablante. This novel made me ponder and I would recommend it to anyone interested in
1) illegal immigration and/or
2) a good adventure story and/or
3) a fairly easy read that makes you think

22 August 2008

Dynamo vs. Real

If you have never been to a Dynamo game, I highly recommend it. First positive: when we arrived, a parking attendant initially told us the lot we were in was off-limits (it was right next to the stadium), but upon seeing Jonas, he let us stay there since we "had that tiny baby and all." Second positive: You know it's going to be a good time when you walk in and they are playing the national anthem...on an electric guitar. Seriously, it was even better than arena football. Third positive: I have been dying to go to Mexico since we moved here, but I no longer need to. I felt like I was in another country, especially with the pep bands singing and chanting en espanol. All in all, good family fun. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have season tickets (and would be more apt if the stadium wasn't in third ward). And even better--we won! Houston 4, Salt Lake 3.

The Spanish 12th Man

Pinatas double as hats.

20 August 2008

101 Things To Do in 1,001 Days

This idea has been going around for quite some time, but I decided to finally take advantage of the "101 Things To Do in 1,001 Days" craze and really put my mind to some active goal-reaching. I left a few open spots for any goals that may come up along the way. So for the next 2.75 years (Thursday, August 21, 2008 until May 19, 2011--the day before I turn 29), I will be working on the following...
1. Visit another country
2. See Old Faithful erupt
3. Visit Dallas
4. Visit South Padre Island
5. Visit Arches
6. Visit Goblin Valley
7. Visit Four Corners
8. Visit Connecticut

Experiences and Activities
9. Attend Dickens on the Strand
10. Attend a hockey game
11. See a Meteor shower
12. Pro sporting event
13. Horse races
14. Dog races
15. Buy a stranger a meal at a restaurant
16. Write Congress person
17. Write to two former teachers
18. Write to the elders who baptized me
19. Go shooting
20. Visit a farm
21. Visit the funeral museum
22. Watch The Manchurian Candidate (Sinatra version)
23. Go off-roading
24. Go to the zoo
25. Take a mud bath
26. Try wakeboarding
27. Go on a canoe trip
28. Keep a New Year’s Resolution that is actually a sacrifice
29. Complete all items on my “Houston Experiences” list
30. Attend the temple each month unless distance prevents doing so

31. Watch a film in Portuguese
32. Speak Portuguese with Jonas for at least 3 hours per week
33. Complete Portuguese Course 1
34. Complete Portuguese Course 2
35. Complete Portuguese Course 3
36. Complete Portuguese Course 4
37. Gospel flashcards for Jonas once/month

35. Visit a family historical site
36. Record my music
37. Digitize parents’ photos
38. Create a family album for parents’ photos
39. Write my personal history
40. Create a new family tradition
41. Create a family facebook for Jonas
42. Digitize my old photo albums
43. Create photo books for old albums
44. Complete Jonas’ baby book
45. Journal about the 200 Haves and Have Nots
46. Journal about each goal I complete

52. Notarize wills, living wills, and power of attorney
53. Create a proper address book
54. Photocopy and organize documents
55. Decrease line of credit by $10,000
56. Cook 20 freezer meals in one weekend at least 2 times
57. Have a money-free weekend at least 5 times
58. Create Jonas’ 72 hour kit
59. Patrick’s 72 hour kit
60. My 72-hour kit
61. Put together an “evacuation box” and hurricane readiness box
62. Store six months worth of food
63. Create family budget and evaluate each month
64. Implement at least 10 things into my regular living that increases my frugality
65. Allocate emergency fund in right places

Making My Brain Bigger
66. Use a portion of my Americorps award
67. Read The Odyssey
68. Read the entire Standard Works
69. Read 5 classics
70. Participate in a book club
71. Present at an academic conference
72. Complete my curriculum vitae
73. Update my resume
74. Create power statements for all of my jobs and volunteer experiences
75. Memorize The Family: A Proclamation to the World
76. Read From Good to Great
77. Read The Work and the Glory
78. Maintain my GT certification
79. Become EC-4 certified
80. Take the GMAT
81. Personal Finance Course 1
82. Personal Finance Course 2
83. Personal Finance Course 3
84. Read 10 personal finance books

Physical Health and Fitness
85. Reach desired weight
86. Run ½ marathon
87. Climb Mt. Timp
88. Take a dance class
89. Do a pull-up
90. Run a marathon

91. Become CPR certified: adult
92. Become CPR certified: infant and child
93. Make a Halloween costume
94. Make a piece of jewelry
95. Learn to drive stick shift
96. Learn 30 hymns on the piano
97. Learn 10 new songs on the guitar (and record)
98. Try 20 new recipes
99. Make a blanket
100. Learn basic mending
101. Learn to make my own cleaning supplies

17 August 2008

Tender Mercies

The past week has been filled with tender mercies that have left us incredibly grateful for the love of our Heavenly Father. In no particular order...

1. This little man slept 7 hours. In a row. We've been paying for that night ever since, but now we know it's possible.

2. Patrick's family had to say good-bye to Shelby last Saturday, but it was a very peaceful departing.

3. These beautiful twins doubled Chandler and Heather's family this week. When we learned of their little miracles, I relived the tears of joy when we learned Jonas would enter our family and when we found out Jonas would have a little Hakanson cousin as well.

4. Patrick helped Sylver learn about the gospel as he took the discussions. On Saturday, we accompanied him to the temple while he received his endowment--such a special moment for this man of faith. I wondered what I would do for those two hours while Jonas and I waited outside. It turns out our former bishop's daughter was getting married at the same time so I was able to be the extra hands (read: purse holder, bouquet holder, messenger, granola bar provider, etc.) you always wish you had on a wedding day.

5. We see more and more of these precious smiles every day.

05 August 2008

Book Reviews: Steve & Me; The Best Test Prep

Steve & Me
By: Terri Irwin
5 Stars

I loved this book--not for the literary value (frankly, Terri Irwin is not an incredible writer), but for the sheer honesty and candor. I felt I was reading her journal and could sense the great love shared within their marriage and within their family. Prior to reading this account of the Crocodile Hunter's life (from the perspective of his soulmate), I did not know much other than the fact that he was Australian. Throughout the course of the book, I grew to love him and his family. It even made me want to go out and save the whales. [sidebar: For those of you who don't know, I am not an animal person. Not a hater by any means (I still have a soul), but I didn't grow up with them so they are unfamiliar territory that I have never EVER tried to familiarize myself with. end sidebar]

If Terri Irwin's goal was to demonstrate the loving nature of her husband as well as promote the conservation efforts around the world, she accomplished it in a very unpretentious, gentle way. I've been converted. I don't know that I will be one of the Irwin Wildlife Warriors, but I am slightly more aware of WHY people love animals the way they love their own families.

This is a light read that I would recommend if you are interested in learning more about their lives (which is fascinating). However, sentimental folks beware. I postponed reading the last two chapters for a week and a half because I knew the outcome and felt as if I was losing a personal friend. Lame, I know. But I'm good at making personal connections while I read and I submit that as a Reading teacher, I was just fulfilling my professional duties in relating to the text.

The Best Test Preparation for the TExES 101 Generalist EC-4
Test Preparation Reference

I took the EC-4 Generalist exam Saturday morning. While the manual suggests a 7-week study program (4 weeks if you want the "fast track"), I only allocated 4 days. The manual comes with one diagnostic exam online and a second inside. It was rather boring, but I got a 93% so I can't complain. Now I can teach any subject to your Pre-K through 8th grade children in the state of Texas. Booyah.

Thanks Edouard

School closings
Below are closings as reported to Eyewitness News by schools in the Houston area.
YES Preparatory School: Closed Tuesday

For those of you who don't know, I am currently working for YES Prep Public Schools in their Teaching Excellence Program as a mentor to two first-year teachers. Helping these new teachers makes me miss being in the classroom, but I love being with Jonas too. I'm grateful I can still stay in the education field, if only in an advisory capacity.

I am especially thankful I get to work at YES Prep. One of my professional dreams is to open my own charter school in an under-served community; YES is currently the best model I have seen so far. Check this out:

YES Prep Public Schools exists to increase the number of low-income Houstonians who graduate from a four-year college prepared to compete in the global marketplace and committed to improving disadvantaged communities.

Ranked #38 of Top US High Schools by US News & World Report
Ranked #1 public school in Houston by Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report and the Houston Chronicle.
8 years in a row: 100 percent of YES Prep’s graduating seniors were accepted into 4-year colleges.
It's free
88% of YES students are first generation college-bound
80% of YES students are economically disadvantaged
95% of YES students are Hispanic or African American
Most students enter YES at least one grade level behind in math and English

I am a lucky woman.

02 August 2008

Two Months? Really?

One week, one month, two months.
Weight: 10 pounds (up 3 pounds) - 20th percentile (up 10%)
Length: 22 5/8 inches (up 2 inches) - 25th percentile (same)
Head: 14 7/8 inches (up 1 inch) - 10th percentile (same)

Hey look, my bellybutton finally showed up!

And here's his "almost smile"

A Note on the Videos:
We tried to email these videos to our family because they are most likely unremarkable to anyone unrelated to us. Unfortunately the emails didn't go through so we posted them despite how boring they may be. Of course, you are more than welcome to view them--just be prepared that there is not much other than normal baby noises that our family doesn't get to hear (but we wish they could)...

August 2 (2 months old). Jonas' cry has turned into a piggy squeal. He also has one where he throws his head back and actually says "Wah!" Still trying to capture that on video...

July 13 (6 weeks old). On his activity mat. And yes, that is milk coming out of his mouth at the end. And yes, I still continued to record. And no, I don't think that was the right thing to do.

July 9 (5.5 weeks old). Hiccups. One full minute of diaphragm spasms. Nothing more, nothing less.