Missouri Observations

  • I see as many billboards promoting billboard advertising as I do promoting other products. I'm guessing that means that billboard demand here isn't very high right now, since promoting billboards is probably what they do when they don't have paying customers.
  • They sure seem to like trivia nights here. I know of three different ones that are upcoming.
  • Grocery store names are weird here. Schnuck's, anyone?
  • The drive down I-70? Not very interesting.


A few little changes...

We updated a few little things on our blog today that you might not have noticed. One was the "About Us" box which now shows our new statuses in life, including mine as a housewife/homemaker! I first wrote that down last week on our lease application and honestly, it felt weird, but not bad. It's a big life change that I'm still pondering but once I get it all sorted out in my mind, I'm sure I'll be talking about it more.

The other change was in our little baby ticker. Since you aren't as obsessed with Nigel as I am, you probably didn't notice that the baby has un-aged. When we met with our new midwife, we talked about the due date that I had been given by my doctor before. I wasn't happy with it since I charted and had better information. Unlike the doctor, she listened to me and took my date as the more accurate, and later, one. Then when she measured me, I came in right at where the later date would have put me so it was a nice confirmation that I was right and the doctor was wrong. Take that, doc!

Now, it probably won't be a big deal, as I'm of the opinion that babies tend to come when they are ready, which is really a huge span of time. If anywhere from 38-42 weeks is normal, why do we insist on giving a baby a due date and not a due month? But it was important to me and as annoying as it is to go back it time right now, I have a feeling that it will be a lot less mentally frustrating to go back now than if I get to 41 weeks and feel like I will have to kill someone if this baby doesn't come out right now. Plus, it lessens my chances of being induced if Nigel does turn out to want the whole 42 weeks. So while I was at 23 weeks, I' m now at 22. Which doesn't mean anything to you unless you happened to look at the ticker last week and again today and got confused, which I do realize is highly unlikely but I wanted to make sure :-)


Recent Personal Milestones

  • First time living in a town with a Waffle House.
  • First ownership of a washer and dryer.
  • Largest package of toilet paper ever purchased (36 rolls).
  • 4th different state driver's license (ND, UT, TX, MO).


We're here!

We made it! Everything has actually gone very smoothly but moving just takes a lot out of you. We got into town last Wednesday, had our first Bradley class that night, found a place to live on Thursday and moved in on Friday with the help of my dad and brother. We spent the weekend unpacking and getting all those little things that you don't realize you need until you move (We went to home depot three days in a row!). Sunday morning I woke up and realized I had overdone it a bit on Saturday and my back was not happy so we mostly rested but I did tell Craig where to hang pictures and move boxes too while laying on the couch. Monday we met with a midwife, got our library cards, and hooked up water and electricity. Yesterday we got our new drivers licenses and registered to vote and finally this morning we got internet again!

It's been a whirlwind week and I have a million things about the last week that I want to fill you all in on, but I'm afraid it will have to wait a bit longer. We have a bit more settling to do first.


Why crochet is better than knitting

This is the silly little blanket I started in the fall of 2008. I finally finished it a week or two ago and the end results- ugliness.

It's not that the blocks are uneven. I knew I would get better as the project progressed and I'm okay with the first couple being lopsided. But the stitching that was supposed to be "invisible" is not and makes it look like Frankenstein* put it together. It's actually worse than it looks in the picture, I tried to hid most of the bad parts. I guess Nigel won't care too much but I do not think it was worth the many many hours I put into it. I could look up better stitching directions, take out the piecing yarn and try again, but I already hate this blanket and am ready to be done with it.

On the other hand, I got this done in just four days and love it!
It wasn't a coordinating pattern set, I just found two I liked and used the same yarn. The stitching is different but it still looks like it goes together. And it isn't completely done. The last step will come when the baby is born. What you see above is the boy version. The girl version involves flipping the hat so it has a little rim (it's hard to see in the picture) and then sewing a flower to the jacket and another to the hat. Then I will attach the button to the gender correct side of the jacket.
I was planning on waiting and buying pink yarn for the flowers if/when I needed too but I made that one flower to practice and Craig and I both decided we liked it with just two colors. Now I just need to make one more but with the colors reversed for that hat so that I am fully prepared for both gender possibilities. Except I forgot and returned the book with the pattern to the library. Now that we are moving, I guess I'll probably just have to find a different flower pattern online somewhere and use that. But since I still have 4+months to go before May, I'm pretty sure it will be done in time.

*You do know that Frankenstein was the scientist and that the creature often referred to as Frankenstein is actually Frankenstein's monster, right?


Drugs I've been taking : Part II

I know you have been waiting on pins and needles for me to reveal my favorite supplement so without furthur ado - it's cod liver oil!

Yep, the same stuff you grandparents told you stories about having to plug their nose to take. It sounds gross and well, it kinda is. But man is this stuff good for you! I had to give it a post of it's own just to fit it all in.

It's got all those omega 3 fatty acids you hear about so often without the worries over unsafe consumption of fish (most brands test for mercury and this study backs the idea that it is safe). It also has lots of Vitamin D and A.* . Studies show cod liver oil is good for your heart, eyes, and skin. I even found these abstracts on pubmed saying it's associated with a lower incidence of depression and may even help your survival rate if you have a solid tumor or lung cancer! I don't watch Oprah, but if I did, I would have seen Dr. Oz recommending it.

And the news for mommies-to-be is even better. Studies have shown a correlation between a mom's cod liver oil intake and decreased rate of the babies Type 1 diabetes, favorable brain development and IQ, and decreased rates of asthma and eczema.

So why wouldn't you want to take cod liver oil? Well, like I said, it sounds gross. But not as bad as you may think. Nowadays you can get flavored and emulsified cod liver oil. We take the TwinLab Emulsified Orange flavor (available for $6.41 at Vitacost which is the cheapest place I can find, our local health food store has it but for quite a bit more). I started with the mint flavor and it isn't horrid but we like the orange better.

We take a spoonful during our meal and quickly follow it with a bite of something tasty. It smells worse than it tastes. I've also heard that taking it mixed in with orange juice or quickly followed by orange juice works well for encouraging kids. Over the holidays I took it in front of my family and even my mom was skeptical, but really, if I can get Craig to take it, it's not that bad! Once little Nigel starts solids, he/she will start taking it too. I've heard a number of moms say that since their kids have been taking it since they were babies they actually like it. Maybe that will be the case with Nigel. I won't say that Craig and I like it but we both think it is important enough that we will deal with a little unpleasantness.

Picking a brand is tricky too. Most drug store brands are not worth the few dollars they cost. They are almost always bleached and deodorized which removes the natural vitamins so then have synthetic Vitamin A and D added back at unsafe levels. This can lead to toxicity and overall ineffectiveness.

You want to make sure that whatever brand you use has the natural vitamins in their proper ratio (1:10 D to A), that is has been tested for metals, and is the least processed you can find. Fermented cod liver oil is even better. Right now for us the cost is prohibitive but I hope to be able to switch over soon. This Weston Price article talks about cod liver oil basics and has brand recommendations. The type we use, Twinlab, is listed as a "good choice" while the fermented brand such as Green Pastures that I have heard great things about is listed as one of the "best" choices. I would recommend Twinlab as a good brand to try when just starting out. So get out there and take some cod liver oil!

*For you fellow pregnant moms that have been warned about Vitamin A - as long as the Vitamin A in the cod liver oil are naturally occurring, not synthetic, you don't have to worry about the baby having toxicity effects. This article talks about the good effects of Vitamin A on a fetus and explains the controversy better than I could.


Drugs I've been taking during my pregnancy - Part I

Okay, drugs may have the wrong connotation, but I do want to the share the supplements* that I currently use. Two of the three I've actually been taking for a while longer and always meant to talk about but never got around to it so even if you aren't pregnant, you still might find this useful information.

My philosophy about supplements is that they shouldn't be necessary if we were all eating the perfect diet. Except that nobody actually does eat the perfect diet so a few well chosen supplements can be useful in one's overall healthy plan. The well chosen part is important because they are drugs and you can't just trust a bottle because it says "all-natural." There are a few other herbs and teas that I've heard a lot of good things about but until I find a mid-wife whose opinion I trust, I'm not going to take them. But I feel pretty confident** in these three:

Pro-cycle PMS Formula (Pre-natals):

While these aren't technically "pre-natal" vitamins, they are what I take all the time and they work as a pre-natal too. Although I try and get everything through my diet, it's got the folic acid, vitamin C and Bs that I need just in case. They do have high amounts of some specific vitamins but after doing my own research and having both my doctors check them out, they've been approved. Both doctor's noticed that they were high in vitamin A but upon further inspection they realized that it is actually beta-carotene, a pre-cursor to Vitamin A. You might turn a bit orange if you eat to much of it, but no worries about the baby.

I first heard about them in the book Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon and through her ties to the CCL and I order them through this website they recommend. The website isn't the most modern, but I like knowing I am supporting a pro-life company. They are also a bit expensive but I know exactly what I am getting and what I'm not (no sugar, oils, aluminum, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, etc) with my money.

I take the full dose (4 pills/day) and probably will continue as long as I am pregnant, nursing or could become pregnant - so basically the next twenty years. Craig has been taking another all purpose vitamin from the same store, Adrovite, although he only takes 4 pills a day (out of the recommended is 6 for those). Now that his job is done for a while, reproductively speaking, he'll probably finish the bottle and stop for a while.

Floradix is an herbal and iron supplement. Most preggos suffer from anemia during pregnancy but I've known women of all ages that consistently struggle with this, especially ones that are very health conscious or vegetarians because they aren't eating buckets of red meat each week.

This is a great solution because it doesn't have that nasty side effect that so many other iron supplements tend to inflict (cough, cough, constipation, cough). If you have tried standard iron pills but haven't noticed a difference, it might be because they aren't being absorbed. I haven't had my iron tested except for my initial pregnancy blood tests but I started taking it as soon as I felt like my morning sickness would allow and I definitely feel a difference in my energy level on the mornings after I take it (with dinner) and those when I forget. It's expensive but I would rather spend money on an iron supplement that works and that my body can handle than spend less money on something that doesn't work. It tastes a bit a weird, like you soaked raisins in water overnight and then drank the water. Not bad, just weird.

I've saved my favorite supplement for the Part II but I'm going to be a bit secretive and not tell you what it is - yet. Stay tuned!

*Doesn't that word sound so much nicer?

**But of course, I have to issue the disclaimer that I am not a doctor so don't just take my word on these things but ask whoever you are most comfortable getting medical advice from and don't sue me if it doesn't work out.


Cleaning Tip: Oven Burner Pans

Since you were so nice and shared your mini-blind advice with me, I wanted to reciprocate and share my oven burner pan cleaning trick with you. Actually, I'm pretty sure I got this from Amanda but couldn't find the post on her blog to link to. Luckily, it is really simple so I was able to remember it from when I used it the last time we moved.

Take those yucky burner pans and stick them in a big pot of water. Then bring the water up to a boil, let it boil for a few minutes, then turn it off and wait for it to be cool enough to handle. Now just wipe them clean. I used a bit of Barkeeper's Friend to get the really bad chunks off but it only took maybe 5-10 minutes of wiping to get all but one sparkly. Ironically, that was the one we had wrapped in foil. It looked better going into the water than the others but I think the foil did something weird to it and it came out all tarnished so we just bought a replacement. But we still saved a few bucks since we didn't have to replace the others.


Quick Question for y'all

Does anyone know the best way to clean mini-blinds? That is one of my least favorite move-out tasks. I spend tons of time on such a little thing and they never even look clean afterward.

So what's the secret? Vacuum with attachment (Thanks to Craig's parent, we know have one of those!), dry rag, soapy rag, some secret hint revealed in a women's magazine that I somehow missed but everyone knows but me?


Foreign Affairs Friday: Internet

The big story this week is Google's announcement that it no longer wants to go along with Chinese requirements that it censor search results on its Chinese website. It agreed to do this when it entered China four years ago as a condition of gaining access to its market. This announcement comes after some parties in China tried to hack into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists there.

I think this is a good move by Google. The internet is a great boon to the people of the world, but a great threat to authoritarian regimes, because they need to control information, and the internet is very hard to control. In places like Iran, when protests erupt, the government hinders or shuts down internet and cell phone networks, in hopes of preventing coordination among protesters. China tries to limit access to information not approved by the government, like the truth about Tiananmen Square. Google's move is a public rebuke of internet censorship.

In Thomas Friedman's latest paean to China (he thinks quite highly of their government), he explains that the Communist Party "has a political class focused on addressing its real problems" (unlike the US, he implicitly says - but he has a point there). However, their biggest problem is maintaining control over the populace while keeping the economy open to the world. It's easy to keep people in the dark in North Korea when your economy is completely severed from the rest of the world, but China has to maintain business contacts abroad and internet access domestically to keep its economy running. But these contacts allow subversive information about topics like democracy and natural rights to percolate through society. China's government must keep the lid on the pressure cooker of informed, unhappy citizens in order to stay in power.

This is where the US has some leverage. While we are limited right now in what we can do militarily and financially, we can achieve results with some technology. As Nicholas Kristof suggests:
China’s Netizens scale the Great Firewall of China with virtual private networks and American-based proxy servers like Freegate. (The United States should support these efforts with additional server capacity as a way of promoting free information and undermining censorship by China and Iran).
Secretary of State Clinton will be giving a speech on internet freedom next week, and it's clear that her office is in discussions with Google about its position in China. Hopefully Clinton will forcefully support freedom of the internet, and announce that the US will take steps to ensure that citizens of repressive nations can regularly access it. This would be a low-cost step to help support democratic movements in these countries. If such efforts were to assist in getting rid of the Iranian regime, for example, or force more openness in China, that would be of great benefit to the United States and the world.


A pretty good day

So yesterday was a pretty good day. It happened to be our third anniversary as well as our last doctor's visit here in town. The appointment was early enough that it didn't make sense for me to go to work but late enough that we got to sleep in an extra few minutes and eat breakfast in bed. In all honesty, Craig has brought me breakfast in bed almost every day for the past 4 months, but this time he got to stay and eat with me instead of having to go pack my lunch (Yes, I know he is amazing and I am being totally spoiled).

Then we headed off to the doctor's where everything was good. I got a little bit nervous when she took a few minutes to tell us the heart rate with the Doppler. I knew I had just felt Nigel kick a few minutes earlier so I was almost sure everything was fine but pauses never seem good. Eventually she explained that she kept finding the heartbeat but then the baby would do a flip and she would lose it and she was having to chase him/her around. After that I could breathe again. We had a quick lunch then I had to head off to my third to last day of work.

After work, Craig picked me up and we went out to dinner at a local burger place. It wasn't fancy but they are always ranked the best burger in the area and we have meant to go try them since the last time we lived here and never made it. Finally we did! I'm not sure it was the best burger I ever had, but it was good. And so was the chicken fried steak. Yum.

We then ran a few fun baby errands. Shopping around target and picking something out for Nigel together (and scoffing at the ridiculous baby and toy items available for purchase) and then picking up a book from Barnes and Noble that we need to have for our first Bradley class (next week!) and finished with ice cream. The whole night was pretty casual but it was so nice to get out of our box filled house, have fun and focus on us... and Nigel.

I keep reading things that say it is very important for you and your spouse to take some time during the pregnancy and first year of new parenthood and get away from baby stuff. Go out to eat and don't talk about the baby, they say. I'm sure they would have frowned on us spending our anniversary looking at baby things. Well, we try, but we want to talk about the baby all the time. We also talk about other things but at some point the conversation will come back to Nigel. Just like when we were engaged, we wanted to talk about the wedding. We can't help it and I think I've decided that I don't care what the experts say, at least for now. It was our anniversary and I think it was perfect.


New Sights to See

Things I am excited to see in the Missouri area:
In addition to these, I reckon we'll also need to go see the Gateway Arch, but that goes without saying. Also, the Truman Library would be on this list, but I've already been there.

Any other suggestions?

I Like to Move it

Ah, the new year. A time when people look back on the past year and think about all that the next year might bring. For us, it's going to bring changes and lots of them. Most people would probably say adding a new baby to the family brings enough changes for a year, but not us. We've decided to add another big one to the mix and move to a new state.

Yep, we're moving! You might not have known because he's not into personal stuff like that, but Craig graduated in December and now he has to start working in the real world again. So off we go, this time to Missouri. (We'll be attempting to keep our new location no more specific than that for privacy reasons but who knows how long that will last since inevitably we will want to talk about some local issue. Oh well, we'll try at least).

We've never even visited this area, but that's okay. It is within 5 hours of where my 'rents live which both us and them are thrilled about, especially with Nigel's coming. Craig interned for the same employer, but in a different office, last summer so he is pretty sure he will enjoy the work. For a little while we knew he had a job offer with them but not where it would be which made me nervous as most of their locations are in bigger cities. I knew that would inevitably mean either a high cost of living or long commutes, neither of which is very appealing, but the whole time Craig has been in school we have really been trusting God to open the right doors for us and praying that he would help us make the right decisions for our future. If that meant a big city, so be it. The place we got, we didn't even think it was an option so when it was offered to us, I really felt like God was giving us even more than we knew to ask for! It is their only office in a smaller city and I've heard good things about the area so I think it will be a great fit for us.

Plus, while we love College Station and A&M, we're ready to get somewhere and get settled. Next week is our third anniversary and this will already be the 3rd state and 5th home we've lived in - crazy! I always thought my life would be more settled after leaving my military family's household but nope. I'm not complaining because it has enabled us to have many great experiences. We've always made good friends that I feel like God hand picked for us in our different situations which is a blessing, but it is hard to leave them and start over again making a new life for ourselves. Leaving is bittersweet and right now I'm concentrating on the sweet parts and pretending that the bitter parts are not happening yet.

We are actually leaving town in just over a week and it's been a little bit stressful working out the details, although I know it will all come together in the end. We have a few posts saved which will be going up over the next week while we are busy finishing work, packing, driving up there, finding a place to live (no, we won't have one until we get up there so if you want to pray about that, we'd appreciate it!) and getting settled but I don't know when we'll be back on here after that. Hopefully not too long because I want to be able to tell you about all the good things we love about our new home!


A Very Honest Mistake

This apparent typo in a Reuters article about newly-reported questionable racial comments by Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid is funny, because its so true:

"I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments," Reid said in a statement.

Reid said he has been a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Obama and has throughout his career worked to promote adversity in his home state of Nevada and in the Senate.

Yeah, it's supposed to say "diversity." It will probably be fixed soon, but I think its more accurate as written now (see, for example, the health care bill he's pushing.) This adversity he promotes is a major reason his Senate career might come to an end this year.


Snow much fun

I've become an old fuddy-duddy. I used to love the snow but now, in general, I'm not a fan. Maybe it's because snow used to mean fun things - snow forts, skiing, sledding etc. Now it just means I have to drive very slowly and shiver until our car finally heats up, normally about 30 seconds before we reach our destination.

So when it started snowing in North Dakota, I stayed inside Craig's parents home. I actually didn't step foot outside from Tuesday until Monday morning, and only then because I had to walk to the car. And my plans were about the same for my stay in Kansas with my folks.

But my mom had different ideas. She really wanted us to make a snow man. She kept saying it would be fun but I knew the real reason, she thought it would make a good photo op. And she was right. But we also ended up having a good time making a snowman and tossing around a few snowballs.

A good enough time that we decided to stay outside and go tobogganing down what my brother affectionately calls "suicide hill" (don't worry, I mean "we" loosely, I just watched and took pictures).

(This is my favorite picture. While right now I'm being lazy and just posting SOOC shots, I know it will be great with some cropping but I am really going to have to spend some time with photoshop to try and get rid of the orange stuff!)
The "kids" - Craig, me, my (baby?) brother Ben, my brother Rick and his fiancee Windsor. By this point we all have wet pants and cold feet but I think we hid it well for a nice family photo.

So I had my one day in the snow and I will admit it was nice. But now I'm glad to be back in Texas where a sweater coat is all the coat I need.

P.S. Why didn't someone tell me my hat looked ridiculous. I probably would have still worn it because I didn't have another one and warmth trumps fashion, but it still would have been nice to know.


Another Way to Exercise

I think it is a good move for the NFL to encourage kids to get off their butts and exercise. But why do they insist that kids play for 60 minutes per day? They could just as easily get that exercise through work. Mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, and mopping the floor burn calories just as well as playing football. I would support such a program.

The NBA, on the other hand, would probably launch some sort of program to encourage kids to commit crimes in order to stay healthy (running from the cops burns calories, too, I guess).

PS: I think it's neat that three out of this weekend's four NFL playoff games are rematches from last week. What are the odds of that?


2009 Recap

I had a nice deep "start the new year" post planned where I went over this past year and all I learned and yada yada yada but I'm not in a pensive mood right now so I decided I would do that next month when my birthday comes around.

Instead I am going to do this superficial blog recap carnival. You just post the first line of the first post of every month.

January: We went with my in-laws to the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto, KY a few days ago to learn all about their bourbon-making process.

And despite my dislike of bourbon (and 99% of alcoholic beverages for that matter), I enjoyed myself.

February: When reading the sorts of hippie books and blogs I tend to read, sometimes you get the feeling that everything you touch will kill you, especially in the kitchen.

And it's gets worse when you start reading about hippie baby stuff.

March: I think it is fairly widely known that we like free stuff.

You don't have to be a long time reader to know that's the truth.

April: This commercial is great.

Now that's a statement you don't hear all the time, but at a second glance, you'll realize it was sarcasm.

May: Whew, I am sure glad it is May.

I'm pretty sure I'll be saying that again next May but for entirely different reasons.

June: I finished!

My May-Day Grocery Emergency challenge that is. This is the end to what I think may have been my most thought-out, well written series of the year.

July: Okay, now that you have a idea of how I feel about food, what do we really eat around here?

Oh, this was part of another series, the Nourishing Beginnings one. This has reminded me that I had a lot more to say about the subject of eating and now that I can talk about it again, I think I'll have to follow through with those post ideas.

August: I talked about kefir a bit when I first got my grains but wanted to wait until I was proficient before passing on my know-how.

Water Kefir, how I miss thee. You died while I was too sick to feed you but I'll be starting you up again soon.

September: We currently receive Money magazine here at the BRC household.

This is no longer true. After a while we found the articles to be repetitive or not applicable to us.

October: In the past week, I've read two different blog posts about Twilight.

Twilight. It's still my guilty pleasure. I can't help it.

November: Well, I'm back again and I lied, all I have to talk about is Nigel.

But it's a pretty good subject so expect that trend to continue in 2010. On a related side note, you may have noticed that the widget's "days so far" is now greater than the "days to go" meaning I am theoretically over halfway done being pregnant. Yah!

December: We had a good but noisy Thanksgiving with my family.

Ditto for Christmas.

Well, that was fun. Going over old posts reminded me of why I like to blog and what I like to blog about. Let me know if you do something similar on your post, I'll love to read your recaps.


We're back!

Whew, we made it back from our whirlwind tour late last night. After my last post, I got better but the weather got worse. Finally, a day late, we were able to make it out of North Dakota and down to my family where we had our second "Christmas." Our luck improved and we had a nice visit there, seeing some extended family, visiting museums and having fun in the snow. I'll probably do a post later with pictures but right now our home looks like a bomb exploded and I promised Craig we would go see Invictus this afternoon so we've got a lot of work to do. Until then, Happy New Year!