30 April 2009

StrollerFit

I went to my first StrollerFit class on Monday. It may seem easy, especially since Jonas passes the 60 minutes like this...*


Be not deceived. It was akin to a 24 S.E.T. class I used to love/dread, but with 20 extra pounds of poor-pregnancy-eating-habits and a stroller and a kid. The moms there are in great shape--not just fit, but toned as well--which gives me great hope.

Instructor Crystal kicked my butt and made me want to puke. For the next two days, it was unreasonable to expect me to answer a knock at the door within 3 minutes. And let's not even talk about sitting down, widening my stance as if I were pregnant again. No pain, no gain, right?

(I'm assuming the no gain part comes from the gross impossibility of making my way to the pantry to find something delicious to eat).

I went again today. I thought Instructor Crystal was bad until I met Instructor Kim. She worked me so hard I peed my pants.

That's not figurative.

*Patrick's arm

28 April 2009

Book Review: The Black Flower

The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
By Howard Bahr
267 pages

I questioned how much I could like this book. The back cover boasts that it is "written with reverent attention to historical accuracy," so when Bahr begins describing the clothes of the soldiers in the first few pages, I imagined the rest of the book would be an account of the intricacies of war. 

This is not a war strategy book. 

Bahr focuses on the lives of particular individuals within the Confederate Army and magically weaves what could almost pass for a series of short journal entries written by different people. The novel is a snapshot of the war, focusing on the bloody battle that took place in Franklin, TN (November 1864) and focuses deeply on the themes of death and personal suffering.

It is gruesome and horrid and has a realistic vulgarity that made me wretch at times. And somehow it is still poetic, poignant, and intense.

One passage I found particularly powerful, not so much for the beauty of the writing but for the reflection it evoked is when the battle commences. After amazing visual imagery and a lengthy buildup to the battle, Bahr shares Bushrod Carter's thoughts as the first shell bursts:
And in the field of trampled grass, amid the false twilight and the rush of living water, Bushrod Carter looked at his hands. He was not afraid now--the worst of that was over, back at the foot of the hills when they could see the long plain stretching out before them and the works where the Strangers waited. He was not afraid, he just wasn't ready, and he knew that if he had a hundred years he would be unready still. Too many things to say, too many thoughts he hadn't shaped yet, too much life. So he looked at his hands, and through them he offered up all that he was and ever had been: all things he had made, good and bad, all the faces he had touched, all the bright threads that had passed through his fingers in his little time. It was the best he could do, it would have to be enough (The Black Flower, Bahr, pg 65, emphasis added).
This battle took place 5 months before the end of the Civil War. How often did these thoughts run through Bushrod's head? And the beauty of that last line--it was the best he could do, it would have to be enough--isn't that what this life is about? I also love the deep symbolism of Bushrod examining his hands. There are so many gospel references to hands: feeling the prints in Christ's hands, Pilate washing his hands of the sentencing of Christ, becoming instruments in His hands.... It adds a deeper element to Bushrod's deathbed deliberation.

I don't think "enjoy" is the right word for this novel; the subject matter is too sobering to be enjoyable. It is beautifully written and I am anxious to read Bahr's other novel The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War.

Reader beware: the use of war language is "historically accurate", if not "reverent."

27 April 2009

Copycat

People offered the proposition that perhaps Mary-Kate is copying Ozzy.

I propose that she is not imitating the Prince of Darkness, but rather the Chosen One out of sheer excitement for this summer's blockbuster.



Who's with me?

No Sweets Please



Our household is no longer accepting goodies.

Patrick and I entered into a competition with one another on Saturday. With the exception of a few designated holidays, we are no longer eating candy, ice cream, chocolate, desserts, or other sugar-filled delights. When Patrick cracks, he has to do the chores I dread most for 2 weeks.

So if we're at a game night with you, please don't be offended when we pass on the fresh-baked snickerdoodles. And don't feel bad about eating them in front of us or having nothing to offer. We're there for the company, not the sweets.

And don't hate us when we're skinny either, cuz that's sort of the point.

24 April 2009

DIY: Yogurt, Baby Food, Applesauce

I'm sort of a hippie mom. Or at least much more than I would have anticipated. I am open to delaying vaccinations (which after research I only delayed this one); I plan on nursing past a year if baby-man wants to continue; if we are blessed with another kid, I will probably do it epidural-free and try hypnobirthing; I experiment with homemade cleaners / laundry detergent / baby wipes; I don't really care for meat and am basically a flexitarian; and I have really really really wanted to try out cloth diapers since Jonas was born (for economic reasons, environmental reasons, sensitive-Jonas-skin reasons, and see-I-told-you-I-could-do-it reasons).

And lest you think I'm part of the "let's plagiarize cjane and hope no one finds out" fiasco, I was reminded of my hippie tendencies by Lara.

These sorta-hippie tendencies lead to a lot of Do-It-Yourself projects. In an offering to other DIY-moms, here are 3 of my favorites:

Part 1. Plain Yogurt (recipe source)

You're looking at homemade mango yogurt. Yummedy-yum-yum.


Jonas loves yogurt, but that Yobaby stuff is outrageously expensive. Plus, I can't stand how much trash it generates for just a little bit of yogurt.

Ingredients.
1 qt whole milk
1/4 c live-culture yogurt
1/4 c powdered milk
mix-ins
sweetener

Directions.
1. Pour milk into slow cooker. Cook on low for 2.5 hours.
2. Unplug slow cooker and let sit for 3 hours.
3. Whisk in yogurt and powdered milk into 1 cup of warm milk. Return to slow cooker and stir.
4. Cover slow cooker with heavy towel to insulate.
5. Let sit 8 hours or overnight.
6. Add any desired sweeteners or mix-ins

Notes.
* Lasts 7-10 days
* I halved the original recipe
* I added powdered milk as a thickener. Original recipe did not use it
* After the first batch, you can use your homemade yogurt as a starter about 5 times before buying more store-bought yogurt.
* I hear you should start with whole milk until you get the hang of it and then start on lower-fat versions.
* Consistency is a little runny, much like nonfat plain yogurt
* The longer it sits, the tangier it gets

Benefits.
* I have control over any added sugar. The only sugar is in the milk and the fruit I add
* Homemade cost: ~$1/qt; Yobaby cost: ~$5.75/qt. For real.
* Easy.
* You get to use some of the 16 pounds/person dry milk you don't know what to do with

Disadvantages.
* Despite its ease, you need to be close to home until you are ready to let it sit



Part 2. Homemade Baby Food.



I'm a big advocate. All my tips and tricks were learned from Wholesome Baby Food. The only thing I changed is that I cook the veggies in the CrockPot rather than in the oven. I throw in just a little bit of water (somewhere between 1/4 c to 3/4 c; different amounts for different vegetables due to water content; I guess and usually have to add a bit more) and cook on high. Everything is done within 3 hours. I put them in ice cube trays and we're good to go.

Cost comes out to about 14 cents per jar compared to 45 cents per jar. It's a commitment, but worth it because I know what is going into my baby's body. My only warning: if you use frozen vegetables and fruit, check out the ingredients. A lot of them have added salt and sugar. Lame.




Part 3. Applesauce from Cannery Apples. (recipe source)
I dislike opening up a jar of applesauce when I want to substitute for the oil in baking because I have too much left over. Solution: make it myself. Plus, it's another way to incorporate food storage into our daily routine.

Directions.
1. Mix equal parts apples and boiling water.






2. Let sit for 5 minutes


3. Blend. (that's a bottle of eXfuze behind the blender, not a green leaf inside of it)



4. Sweeten to taste and enjoy.

I don't typically sweeten mine (especially if I'm baking), but I usually add cinnamon if I just want to eat it plain.

Next DIY Project: Soy Milk here and here

And somewhere between my DIY projects there will be many more posts. Here are some of the thoughts bouncing around my head:
* Love Affair Rekindled
* Book Reviews: Culinary Edition, Wuthering Heights, One More Day, Memory Keeper's Daughter, Wednesday Letters, The Screwtape Letters, The Black Flower
* Easter
* Tea Party Afterthoughts
* Move it or Lose it
* Stealing Beauty
* Harwin Shopping District
* A Day with a Dietitian
* In-town in-laws

Stay tuned.

The Best Day for a Heart Attack is Trash Day

The city comes to our street quite early on our designated trash pick-up day. When I heard the rumblings of the truck at my next-door neighbor's, I raced out to deposit an unusually disastrous diaper. I left Jonas examining the many wonders of his hand.


I returned to a water-soaked counter top and this.


I cried out loud enough that he stopped trying to put the electric phone cord in the water.

I'm pretty sure I need to add defibrillators to my 72-hour kit.

22 April 2009

When did he grow up? Part 2

At five-months-old, I couldn't believe how big my baby was getting. Five months later, I marvel again at how rapidly the boy changes. He's beginning to look more and more like a kid, not just a baby (sniffle).

Jonas' birthday photos have been absent for quite a few months, but neverfear, I am still taking them. Look at these changes. Birth, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months



And look Jonas, this is how big you will be when you turn 28. Happy Birthday Patrick!


(No, that's not a mustache. Just a trick my little point-and-shoot likes to play when the lighting is dim).

15 April 2009

I should have had a child 5 years ago


Hope your tax day is filled with deductions and tea bags. Hope to see you at the tea party tonight.

PS This really really really bothers me. They imply they are not a gigantic part of the problem. It's not an Obama thing; it's a government thing. That includes you RNC.

14 April 2009

The skinny

We've witnessed miracle after miracle over the last few weeks, with our family being the main recipients. Here's a brief rundown of recent events that lightly touch upon March's tender mercies. It is quite the incredible story so if you can't wait until it is published in the Ensign (j/k...sorta...I'm considering submitting it), let me know.

Week 1 (March 9-15)
Monday. Offered position as live-in caretakers that will cover all of our expenses.
Tuesday. Accepted offer and will begin April 1. What do we do with our house that has been on the market for a year?
Wednesday. Jonas gets sick. Trip to DC cancelled
Friday. J offered second job
Sunday. Family visits our ward and has no place to live (living in a hotel since Tuesday). Looking for somewhere to rent and will probably move into a home within ward. We meet them because of canceled trip

Week 2 (March 16-22)
Monday. Family's house falls through. Calls at 6 pm and asks to rent our home for exactly what we need.
Tuesday. Move with 24 hours notice. Patrick at work most of the day.
Wednesday. Finish moving out. Jonas begins crawling. Patrick still at work.
Thursday. Exhausted. Attempt to get organized
Friday. Camping for the weekend.

Week 3 (March 23-28)
Monday. Begin our new job. Patrick receives 60-day notice. Make a thousand doctor appointments before insurance runs out.
Tuesday. Early childhood interventionists assess Jonas. He is 2-3 months behind for nutrition and physical movement (started catching up because of the crawling); at a 4-month-old level of development for emotional, social, cognitive.
Wednesday. Jennifer asked to prepare 13 games for 300 children for the stake activity on Saturday.
Saturday. Set up games at the stake activity. Miss the Family Fun Walk. Run (bouncy walk) 5k instead.

Pictures to follow. Eventually.

07 April 2009

Jonas Has An Announcement



For those of you unfamiliar with baby babble, that translates into "Last night's Jimmy Eat World online Clarity concert was outstanding. I can see why it's Mommy's favorite album of all time."

The latter half of his conversation means "Vote for Auntie Jennifer...every day until, well, I'm not sure. Auntie Jennifer, will you please leave a comment informing us of when the contest ends? "

Jonas' Auntie Jennifer is in desperate need of winning one of these


If I would have known about the contest, I would have entered first, but now I can only hope she wins so I can come over and admire her craft monolith. But I will only be able to admire it if you go vote. Auntie Jennifer is falling behind.

Go to this website right here and vote. She is entry #3. No need to scroll through all 79. NUMBER 3. Yes, that's right. You want to vote for number 3.

Seriously. Go vote right now. And tomorrow. And every day until ________ (TBD). Auntie Jennifer needs your votes in a bad way.

Thank you. We are all waiting with bated breath for an Ordinary Victory.

PS Jonas really does have an Auntie Jennifer. It is not my alter-ego or some creepy way of referring to myself in the third person.

(Manual directions to vote if you want to explore the site and don't want to use the direct link: theoriginalscrapbox.com ---> Retail Stores ---> The CraftBox Giveaway ---> Vote for Entry #3)

PS Part 2
I will eventually get a real post up.