Oh Boy

This morning Mike and I went to my first check-up of the third trimester. At my last appointment the topic of a flu shots was brought up – and it was decided that I’d get one at this appointment. Goodie. I tried to find a loophole around getting the flu shot by asking for the nasal flu vaccine at Walgreens… no dice, that’s not for pregnant women. Ah well, it was worth a shot (pun intended).

The appointment mostly consisted of another ultra sound – where we got some more visual confirmation that Hans is still a he. So we’re feeling pretty confident in declaring that we are in fact having a boy, and not a girl with puffy lady parts. We also saw part of an arm, which is something we haven’t seen yet – so we can confirm that Hans has two legs, some toes, a head, abdomen, male genitalia and at least one arm. Oh the advances of “modern” technology… haha.

As the appointment was drawing to a close the doctor asked if we had any questions. I had a couple pertaining to when I’d transition to the new doctor and about my toes. Then:

DOCTOR: Okay, do you have any last questions for today?
MIKE: Yes actually, isn’t Sydney supposed to get a flu shot today?
DOCTOR: Well, it is recommended. Sydney, do you need a flu shot?
SYDNEY: (barely audible) yes…
DOCTOR: Great, I’ll send the nurse back in.
SYDNEY: Doesn’t Mike need one too?!
DOCTOR: If he wants one, but it’s not mandatory
(Doctor leaves)
SYDNEY: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I ALMOST GOT OUT OF HERE SHOT-FREE!!! (insert stink eye towards Mike)

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That Room

You know when you move into a new house/apartment/condo/space how everything eventually finds its place. Well, almost everything. There are some odds and ends that you’re not quite sure what to do with. It doesn’t make sense to throw it away, but it also doesn’t necessarily fit into your new space. So you collect all of those odds and ends and put them into one spot and just pretend not to notice them.

Mike and I have a few spots in our house that are odds and ends traps. There’s the guest room closet, a few of the bins in the basement storage area, and pretty much the contents of the media room. We’ve lived in our house for almost a year and a half – and those spots have never really been unpacked… or they were unpacked, and then repacked with things that didn’t have a home. I didn’t realize how much sifting I’d be doing these next couple weekends until it was my turn to empty my stuff out of the media room nursery (Mike took care of his stuff in that room earlier in the week). Thankfully, the emptying out hasn’t taken as long as I thought it would (I’ve only got a few things left in there and I’ve been sorting/emptying for about 2 hours). Somethings have had instant homes elsewhere in the house. For example, my yarn/knitting tucks nicely into two baskets that can be stowed underneath two of our living room end tables, the board games from that room have joined their fellow board games that have been living in the living room under the couch, and books from the shelves in the media room are being relocated to other bookshelves throughout the house (with the exception of the cookbooks, we need to find a place nearer to the kitchen that makes sense for them). There’s a pile of stuff that belongs in my office (I have a tendency to assemble/package things while watching TV) that is slowly making its way up to my office as I take trips upstairs (I tried making multiple back-to-back trips last night and it wore me out). There’s also a pile of stuff to donate and another pile of stuff to throw out on Mike’s newly discovered favorite holiday, Amnesty Day.

But then there’s this other pile, it’s got some crafting supplies, scrapbooks, a few knick-nacks, among other things. It’s routed to head up to the guest room (slash, over-flow storage for my office room) – which means that now I have to acknowledge and organize the stuff in that closet. And so the domino effect has begun. I’m sure after I tackle that room next weekend there will be stuff routed for the basement and I’ll need to reorganize down there next. I’ll consider my work completed when the ‘homeless things’ in our house have been pared down to only a few boxes instead of a whole room, a closet and a portion of the basement. Mike and I are by no means hoarders, we’ve just never taken the time to pare down – when we moved in with each other initially, we were combining a fully furnished apartment (mine) with a fully furnished rental house (his). Now that the media room/nursery is pretty much emptied, I’m feeling a lot more confident about the sifting/getting rid of stuff road ahead.

On the bright side, it’s a lot easier to get rid of stuff when it doesn’t have a home and has been tucked away for a year and a half. The cumbersome part is just finally making the time to sift/sort/get rid of.

Pumpkin Banana Fiasco

What started out as a well-intentioned quick batch of muffins, ideally ready before Mike woke up Sunday morning, turned into an all-morning affair 3 dozen times over. I remembered making some delicious pumpkin muffins last fall, but couldn’t remember where that recipe had disappeared to (perhaps it was on my phone before it was factory reset…). So it was off to Pinterest to drum up another pumpkin muffin recipe. I found an intriguing recipe for pumpkin banana muffins – since we happened to have a few bananas that were riper than Mike would usually eat, I decided that recipe would kill two birds with one stone. Thankfully, I keep some pumpkin spice and canned pumpkin in our pantry year-round, so whenever the baking bug strikes in the chillier months – I’m ready to whip up a batch of pumpkin something without a trip to the grocery store (If I were reading this aloud to Mike, he would say “mmmm, I love pumpkin something”).

Side note: one of my random pet peeves while baking is using too big a mixing bowl for the job. I know it’s not the end of the world, but the bigger ones are more cumbersome to clean/take up more space in the dishwasher (if I use the glass ones they’re dishwasher friendly). So when this recipe called for a “large” mixing bowl for the dry ingredients, I scanned the dry ingredient quantities and decided that the medium mixing bowl (#3 out of 5 in the set) would be just fine.

After tossing in the flour, I added 2 Tbsp of baking powder and 1 Tbsp of baking soda. Next came the remaining contents of the pumpkin spice, just about 2 tsp. Hold the phone, tsp… teaspoon. That’s what was written in the ingredients list next to the baking powder AND the baking soda – not Tbsp. Shoot.

I immediately went to my phone to look up if this was an oversight that could be ignored (like adding too many chocolate chips – definitely not a problem). Unfortunately, what I gleaned from the internet was that too much baking powder would make my muffins taste bitter, and too much baking soda would make them taste soapy. Mmmmm, bitter soapy muffins. The graphic designer in me immediately went into problem solving mode. I could scrap the whole thing… but that would waste the last of the pumpkin spice. Or, I could just figure out how many times over I’d need to make the recipe to accommodate the excess ingredients. Three. I really hoped that this recipe would be worth the three dozen muffins I was about to make.

Unfortunately, I could not get to the grocery store and back before Mike woke up, so there were no muffins for him prior to his Sunday morning basketball game. I only needed a few more bananas, some pumpkin spice, more apple sauce (so I would have some left over after the triple batch to bring with me for lunch during the week) and some more brown sugar. I picked up a larger-than-normal container of pumpkin spice… and a few extra cans of pumpkin for good measure… and some milk chocolate chips (the writer of the pin mentioned that chocolate chips were a lovely addition to the recipe).

After getting all of the dry ingredients successfully mixed in my medium bowl, I threw them into the KitchenAid mixer’s bowl so that they’d be ready for the wet ingredients to be added while the mixer was running. I decided to save on dirty dishes I’d use that same medium bowl for the wet ingredients. After all, if all of those dry ingredients fit – the wet ones should fit as well (to be fair, I decided to use the medium bowl back when I was making a single batch…) I’ll digress from the bowl for a moment to talk about the cans of pumpkin, but rest assured, we’ll be back to this topic.

I know how to use a can opener, I swear. But for some reason I just could not get our new-ish can opener to work properly (Mike and I broke our last one back in the Wilson house and had quite an evening trying to get into some closed cans containing part of our dinner ingredients). Even though the can opener wouldn’t budge, it did make a small slit in the side of the can. I figured that maybe a serrated knife would finish the job (Andrea and Kathy, don’t worry, for this experiment I didn’t use any of the good quality knives that you ladies bought us). It only took a few strokes of the knife to decide that that wasn’t a solid plan. Back to the drawing board. I found an old, somewhat rusty, old-school can opener (I’m not sure how that didn’t get thrown away when Helene was helping us figure out what kitchen supplies we needed doubles of and which ones we could toss/donate). I thought about trying to use the can opener part of it, but I didn’t want rust touching my canned pumpkins. Then I had an idea, I could use the not rusty ‘key hole’ portion and make little triangle holes around the perimeter of the can, and then remove the top from there. About 5 holes in I learned that the can will not hold up to any additional holes. I used a teaspoon to scoop out the contents of the can – careful to avoid the 5 sharp teeth that I’d created in the lid.

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This definitely slowed down the muffin-making process. After the cans were emptied, and the rest of the liquid ingredients were added to the mashed bananas, that medium-sized mixing bowl looked something like this:

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I had to mix very carefully to keep the contents of the bowl actually inside the bowl. I’m not going to lie though, I was pretty proud of myself for successfully mixing all of those ingredients in that size bowl and not having to wash a larger bowl, I believe my exact words were: nailed it!

Things were pretty much smooth sailing from there. The wet and dry ingredients were mixed together, three muffin tins were filled and moved to the oven, and most importantly, the result was delicious.

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I made one dozen without chocolate chips and the other two dozen with chocolate chips. The consensus has been that both ways taste great. Personally, I’d probably continue to add chocolate chips, but that’s just because why wouldn’t you add chocolate chips to muffins whenever possible?! I’d definitely recommend this recipe. The sugar content isn’t terrible and everything else is actually pretty healthy as baking ingredients go, especially if you do happen to use whole wheat flour per the recipe.

A few notes if you decide to make this recipe (in the link at the top of this blog entry)
• I used regular flour instead of whole wheat because that’s what I had in my pantry
• The muffins will be very moist – but that’s really not an issue since there are no eggs in the batter, also who likes rock hard muffins, gross.
• I used 2 whole cans of pumpkin for the triple recipe since I didn’t want to have half a can of pumpkin laying around the house.
• I used 1 whole bag of milk chocolate chips for two dozen muffins

Eat Your Veggies

Last night, when Mike got home, I was reading an article about getting picky eaters to eat using the technique of making fun scenes on the plate with the food. I’ve posted a few of the images below for your reference:

Images courtesy and copyright of Parents Magazine and Hilit Shefer http://www.parents.com/recipes/nutrition/feed-their-imagination

Images courtesy and copyright of Parents Magazine and Hilit Shefer
http://www.parents.com/recipes/nutrition/feed-their-imagination

SYDNEY: Mike, check out this article about getting picky eaters to eat based on food art… I don’t think that would work. The kid could just eat around what they don’t want.
MIKE: Who has time to make stuff like that?! I think the “Eat everything that’s on your plate because that’s what we made for dinner” concept works a lot better and takes much less time than making art on the plates.
SYDNEY: I mean, I wouldn’t even eat everything on some of those plates – like the hardboiled egg, cucumbers, and the roasted red pepper on its own – mixed into a pasta dish is a whole different story.
MIKE: Wait, you don’t like cucumbers?
SYDNEY: No.
MIKE: They don’t taste like anything.
SYDNEY: Yeah, they taste like cucumbers and I’m not a fan – just like I only like celery if it’s dipped into hummus.
MIKE: Celery doesn’t taste like anything either, how do you not like cucumbers and celery?

After Mike’s mind is sufficiently blown by my distaste of cucumbers and we discuss whether a kid should actually even be fed a stack of plain chives (image #3), we somehow transition back to discussing the artful plates and kids eating:
SYDNEY (in a joking tone): You better not ‘parent’ me with food in front of our kids…
MIKE: It’ll be easy, “okay kids, we’re all going to eat our hardboiled eggs – including Mom… because she loves hardboiled eggs.”
SYDNEY: And when it comes time for dessert, I’ll be like “okay kids, we’re all going to eat our ice cream, including Dad… because ice cream totally doesn’t make him sick” and then you won’t feel well.
MIKE: But I’ll enjoy the ice cream.
SYDNEY: Fine, then it’ll be “okay kids, we’re all going to drink our kefir…”
(Mike interrupts)
MIKE: You can’t give that stuff to kids – it’s gross and probably not good for them.
SYDNEY: It’s marketed to kids and it’s totally good for you.
And so started a long debate on kefir vs. yogurt vs. greek yogurt, eventually leading into a debate on whether or not Go-gurt is actually really yogurt. Side note, it’s not (in my opinion), the first three ingredients are cultured milk, sugar and corn starch.

The moral of the story, Mike and I won’t be making artful scenes out of food on plates, our children will not be drinking (shudder) Go-gurt and if Mike tries to get me to eat hardboiled eggs by using “setting a good example for our kids” – I will make him drink kefir using the same technique 😉

The Cobbler

This morning’s crisp Fall weather had me reaching for my boots (welcome back old friends). I remembered towards the end of last boot-season the heels needed some love – that I of course had not gotten around to giving them yet. So one of plans for this weekend will be to take my boots to the cobbler in town to have the heels taken care of… insert conversation with Mike here:

SYD: I’m going to take my boots to the cobbler this weekend to have the heels fixed
MIKE: What? That’s still a profession? I thought people just bought new shoes when their old ones wear out.
SYD: Helene takes shoes to the cobbler – she’s the one who suggested it. There’s one in town.
MIKE: That just seems like such a dated profession, I thought cobblers stopped existing 100 years ago.
SYD: Do you want me to just go and buy new boots? I’m happy to do so.
MIKE: No, take them to the cobbler – it’s just weird that that’s still a thing. Who else aside from your mom goes to a cobbler?
SYD: I’m sure if someone owned a pair of Christian Louboutin’s and the heel broke they’d take them to a cobbler.
MIKE: Anyone who can afford shoes like that would probably just buy new shoes.
SYD: Let’s say you were in a coma and unable to stop me from buying a pair of Louboutins and the heel broke, wouldn’t you want me to take them to the cobbler?
MIKE: If you paid that much money for a pair of shoes, they better last – the heel better not break.
SYD: So, about those new boots?
MIKE: Just go to the cobbler this weekend 🙂

Lows in the 2nd Trimester

The Chicagoland area has been experiencing one last burst of heat before we [hopefully] settle into a comfortable fall. While I still make it a point to walk my entire commute – on days of excessive heat, I allow myself the luxury of taking the bus to/from Union Station. Today was one of those days, it was already 80 degrees by the time I got into Chicago and I was zonked.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a string of 6 seats open at the front of the bus and quickly sat down so I could settle back into reading my book. What greeted my behind was a soggy surprise. The seat. Was. Wet. Like, really wet. I jumped up immediately and found a new seat, but the damage had been done: my butt was soaked. As someone who has always been wary of sanitary conditions on public transit (when I lived alone and commuted via the Green Line, I wouldn’t sit on my couch after I returned home from work until I’d changed my pants) this moment was a nightmare come alive.

Of course everyone else who almost sat down in the offending 6 seats (they were all wet) got a nice warning from my fellow passengers, who seemed to have already known this fact prior to my arrival onto the bus – but neglected to share their warnings with me. That just made the situation worse in my brain. What made it even worse was the fact that I’m pregnant, so my hormones are flying wild as it is and keeping my emotions in check has become a full time job. I did what any other pregnant woman on her way to work sitting in wet pants would do, I sat and cried on the bus. And texted my city-saavy boss, who I’d hoped would assure me that wet seats on buses were normal and that I had nothing to feel gross about. She was as grossed out as I was and told me that if I wanted to come in a little late, I could go buy some new pants (we were so on the same page).

In the past five years, when something has happened during the workday where I’ve needed an outfit change (1.5 inch hole in the crotch of my pants, underdressed for a work field-trip, sweating profusely at my desk for hours due to the design on the back of a t-shirt) I’ve just popped over to my go-to Ann Taylor Loft. It opens at 9 and there’s one fairly close to my office. Well, I haven’t been ATL shaped for a few months now, so that wasn’t going to be an option. No worries, there’s a Gap in the loop as well – and they have a maternity section – so I could pick up a pair of pants for fall and just wear them today. I was unpleasantly surprised upon arriving at the Gap to learn that it doesn’t open until 10am. Conveniently there’s an Old Navy a few blocks away from the Gap, and they too have a maternity section. And upon arriving at their doors I learned that they conveniently don’t open until 9:30. What’s a 6 month pregnant girl to do?! I should mention that at this point my bottom was still wet. In fact, let’s cut to the chase, it never dried prior to my eventual wardrobe change.

Before heading back in the direction that I came from (there’s a Target out that way) I checked Target’s hours and saw that they were in fact already open. Jackpot. I could pick up new underwear and sanitary wipes to go along with the pants – and hopefully feel human again. Well, sorta a jackpot, I learned upon arrival that there is no maternity section at this Target (no. joke.) So I ran through Target, grabbing a sundress on sale, some underwear, wipes and a pair of workout leggings (wasn’t sure how short this sundress would be with my stomach protruding outwards). I didn’t bother to try anything on because 1. there was no time and 2. once the [still] wet pants came off, I had no intention of putting them back on.

I got to work only 15 minutes late but very over-heated (my face was as red as it is when I finish going for a run). Without even stopping at my desk I made a beeline for the bathroom. The sanitary wipes and fresh clothing felt great, really great. So great that I didn’t care that the box of wipes had already been opened apparently and was missing half of its contents (they were individually wrapped thank goodness). The dress is cute and fits well enough (not ideal but it’s not wet pants so it’s great), it’s okay with the leggings – combined with the blue converse, well, you can’t win them all.

After about 30 minutes of calmly sitting at my desk answering e-mails, my face returned to normal and I stopped sweating. Now just to get some food in my system and today will be back on track.