Stick a fork in me

cause I'm done!

I'm now considered 'term' which means the baby is done, even though my official due date isn't for a few more weeks. My belly has started dropping and I've been a wee bit dilated for a couple of weeks, so it could be anytime now. The inexactness of it all is one of the things that bothers me most. I'm a little bit anal retentive (No...an anal retentive accountant? Who would have guessed?) so I'm not comfortable with not being able to plan out how this whole thing will work.

Anyway, my birthday was yesterday (25! How did that happen?!) and I got lots of cards and good wishes and emails and BEAUTIFUL flowers, along with a gift certificate for another prenatal massage and some books and tea, which are all on my list of favorite things. My birthday always leaves me feeling very loved and blessed. I'm so lucky!



El Arroyo's billboard this morning:
Our bathrooms are senator-free.

Poetry Thursday

B found this poem and sent it to me yesterday.


Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
what your heart beats loudly for
what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.

-Sheri Hostetler



It's too bad that someone set the Burning Man on fire early. It kind of screws up the climax of the event for thousands of people, etc, etc. However, the booking picture of the guy who did it made me smile.


Monster is ready for poker night

Does this signal the return of Laundry Day pictures? Only time will tell.


Good news

You certainly can't tell by looking at me, but my doctor told me this morning that I had lost two pounds since my visit last week. That is apparently normal for the last few weeks of pregnancy. I know it's not a big deal, but do you know the last time I looked at a scale and the number was smaller instead of bigger?

Actually, that's a moot point because as of a few weeks ago, I can't see the scale anymore. Someone else has to tell me what it says.

Are you kidding?!

On Friday, I got a jury summons. They can't make me have jury duty at 8 1/2 months pregnant, right? I got a statement from my doctor with my due date, and have faxed it in, but I'm waiting to hear whether I get a pass.

I feel kind of bad, because I'm all for doing my civic duty, but I really don't think anyone would appreciate stopping the trial when my water broke. Or for that matter, pausing every five minutes for me to take a bathroom break.

The last time I got called for jury duty was about two years ago. I sat for a week on an awesome trial about whether an antique gun was fraudulently claimed to have been owned by Buffalo Bill Cody. There were hostile witnesses and historians and last-minute evidence and we all got to play with the gun. It was like an episode of Perry Mason. I wouldn't mind another experience like that, but I don't think all trials are as cool as that one.


Words calculated to inspire terror

  • Your baby is almost ready and most likely, so are you! The only organ still to mature is the lungs. While certainly you are both growing anxious to meet, remember that each day (up to 42 weeks), that your little one stays within your womb will multiply his chances to breathe on his own.
  • If he hasn't already, this week your baby may drop into the birth canal. While breathing for mom becomes easier, walking may be the exact opposite!
  • Fat is dimpling your baby's elbows and knees, and forming creases in the neck and wrists.
  • His skin is growing smooth and, shall we say it, "baby" soft.
  • His gums are very rigid. It won't be many months before you'll see his teeth.
  • He has a fully developed pair of kidneys and his liver has begun processing some waste products.
  • Your child's average size is now 18.66 inches (47.4cm) and 5.78 pounds (2622 g). Between now and birth he will gain about an ounce a day.
  • On one hand, I'm so sick of being huge and tired and achy and not being able to do anything that I am completely ready to have this kid. On the other hand...I guess you can never be ready to have a baby. The thought it still just so overwhelming. I haven't gotten past the miracle that somehow B and I, two separate and distinct people, have created a brand new human being that has never existed on Earth before and is a combination of both of us. Babies are such a common part of life that you never really stop to try and wrap your mind around the complete weirdness of it. Also, everything is just a big unknown. I know my life is going to change forever in a few weeks, but I don't know what to expect. It's a scary feeling. But I can't wait.


    Poetry Thursday


    We ate from the dish of eyes
    and as eyes met, making out
    light by darkness, we hungered:
    the dish is a questioning of the dish

    We drank from the cup of hands
    and as hands met, reaching down
    for what was up, we thirsted:
    the cup is a questioning of the cup.

    We slept in the bed of flesh
    and as flesh met, melting back
    to the lost action, we kept
    forgiving, and for good: no questions asked.

    -Richard Howard


    I'm not proud of my state.

    BTW, has anyone noticed that for an avowedly unpolitical blog, I can't seem to keep my mouth shut lately?


    That poor dog!

    I just imagine Sebastian or Monster's reaction to falling out of an airplane...


    Genoise *updated*

    Genoise is a sponge cake. It is made by whipping the crap out of some eggs and sugar and vanilla and then very gingerly folding in pastry flour and butter. I forgot to take pictures of this whole process, but it was very stressful for me. The Book kept reminding me to BE GENTLE and DON'T LET IT FALL. I guess I did an ok job.

    Genoise is both drier and crumblier than most American sponge cakes. For that reason, French people usually soak theirs in liqueurs or jams or chocolates or other super decadent stuff. I decided to use mine to make a strawberry shortcake. A French strawberry shortcake. You might even call it a sablé de fraise. Or something.

    Anyway, if there's one thing I can make, it's homemade whipped cream. A spoonful of yogurt is my secret ingredient.

    I am not capable of icing a cake to look nice.

    Genoise tastes okay. It doesn't taste as good as angel food cake. Or regular white cake. But it was pretty good, as is anything that is topped with strawberries and whipped cream. But I don't think it was as fluffy as it should have been. I guess I wasn't gentle enough. I'm starting to get frustrated with The Book. For all the work I'm doing, these recipes should taste better dammit! I might skip out on the rest of the 10 basic recipes and go find something fun to make. After all, once the baby is born I will have to quit eating rich desserts at least until I can fit into my old jeans again.

    *Update* Apparently all this cake needed was an overnight soak in strawberry juice and whipped cream. Because I'm having my second taste now and it is YUMMY!


    Last piece

    The glider and ottoman we ordered over a month ago finally came in. It's the last big thing we needed, so I'm feeling a little more relaxed about being ready.

    I guess the baby senses that we're ready for him too; for the last few days he's been trying his hardest to tunnel out my left side.


    Baby update

    Not very long at all now. This Monday, I start going to weekly doctor visits until the big day. I've started drinking lots of raspberry leaf tea and practicing my yoga breathing in preparation for labor. If I can avoid having to be induced, then I'm going to try to go natural. Not because I'm all romantic about natural birth and all that, but because I don't like all the wires and tubes that go along with an epidural. Nor am I happy about the idea of being stuck on my back in bed for the whole process. But then again, I might start begging for medicine at the first sign of real pain. God knows I didn't complain about the IV when I had kidney stones. I guess it's hard to say when you really don't know what the experience will be like.
    • The average baby weighs almost five and a half pounds now.
    • Most babies born now will survive and without many long-term problems.
    • Fat accumulations plumps up the arms and legs this week. These layers of fat will help him regulate his body temperature. They also provide those cute little dimples on elbows and knees!
    • His hearing is fully developed, so be sure to talk to your son. Do you find yourself speaking in a high-pitched tone? That's okay since some studies show babies respond better to higher pitches.
    • It's getting crowded! Your baby is now taking up most of the uterus and you may even feel like your chest has run out of room! Soon enough though, baby will move down and you'll be able to breathe easily again (just not walk so easily! Ha!).
    • Your baby is 18.2 inches (46.2cm) long and weighs 5.3 pounds (2383gm).
    • The testes have completed their descent in males.


    Poetry Thursday

    Summer Farm

    Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass
    And hang zigzag on hedges. Green as glass
    The water in the horse-trough shines.
    Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.

    A hen stares at nothing with one eye,
    Then picks it up. Out of an empty sky
    A swallow falls and, flickering through
    The barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue.

    I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass,
    Afraid of where a thought might take me - as
    This grasshopper with plated face
    Unfolds his legs and finds himself in space.

    Self under self, a pile of selves I stand
    Threaded on time, and with metaphysic hand
    Lift the farm like a lid and see
    Farm within farm, and in the centre, me.

    -Norman MacCaig


    Not worth it

    Choux paste is totally not worth it. I should have listened to Crystal.

    To make choux paste, you start out with a boiling mixture of milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt. Then you add a bunch of flour all at once and "stir vigorously." It turns out that you need substantial core strength to stir this stuff.

    Then, while it's still hot, you scrape the dough into a bowl and start mixing eggs one at a time. All I can say is thank god for my stand mixer because my arms were too tired to stir by hand anymore at that point. By the time you get to the fifth and sixth egg, the dough is nasty and viscous and sticky. But it looked just like in the book, so I guess I did it right.

    I attempted to put the dough in a pastry bag with a spatula, but I think most of it ended up elsewhere. Namely on me and the counter tops. And the floors. And the dogs. And the oven door. And who knows where else? But enough made it into the bag for me to squeeze out A LOT of fancy little quarter-sized blob things.

    I brushed them with a beaten egg and then popped them in the oven for a half-hour. By the time they came out, I had still not finished cleaning up the sticky dough from the rest of the kitchen. In fact, although I made these on Sunday night, I'm still finding bits of dough here and there.

    The puffs turned out beautifully. They were shiny and puffy and hollow in the center, just like they were supposed to be. But they didn't taste very good. They didn't taste bad, just not good. They were chewy and bland and, well, not tasty. I had made some vanilla and chocolate pudding to fill them with, but in the end, I decided that the pudding tasted better by itself (or at least with some Nilla wafers and bananas), so I ended up using the puffs as dog treats for a couple of days and then dumping them.

    But at least I remembered how good Jello Instant Pudding is!

    The next recipe is supposed to be meringue, but the book says to not even try it in humid weather, so I guess I'll do that one right after I move to another city. So next? Genoise. What is that, you ask? I have no idea. I'll figure it out this weekend.


    Spider belly

    This guy built a web in the doorway from my bedroom to the back porch. When I tried to take a picture of his back, he got scared and skittered away so that I can't figure out what kind he is. But you can compare him to the blinds in the door to see how big he is. I think he's probably getting quite plump on all the stupid moths that are always crashing into the windows and door.

    And here is a much less welcome creature. She spent yesterday evening lounging in the front yard and driving the dogs crazy. Her eyes glow because she's evil. The second picture is when I caught her heading toward the rose bushes that are just starting to recover from her last visit.


    Pie, part two

    Yum, peaches and raspberries. How can you go wrong?

    For the first pie, I had rolled out the dough directly on my granite counter tops. B suggested that perhaps a chilled surface would have worked better, so this time I put some cookie sheets out and filled them with bags of frozen vegetables while I made the pie filling. By the time I was done, the granite was nice and cold. And sure enough, this time the dough rolled out fairly easily and mostly stayed in one piece. I was even able to get a little fancy with a kinda-sorta lattice top.

    This pie was definitely prettier than the last.

    Until I cut into it. I should have listened to all those people who commented on allrecipes.com who said it worked better to drain the filling for 15 minutes before using it.

    Still, the crust was good. And the filling was good, even though you had to use a spoon. Perhaps this pie would have done best served over ice cream?

    BTW, links to the recipes I used can be found here (apple) and here (peach).


    My sister is trying her hardest to ensure that her nephew does not end up with the same lack of fashion sense as his parents.


    mmm, pie

    For unknown reasons, I made a sudden decision last week that I should know how to bake. Maybe it's a nesting thing? Some unconscious desire to be June Cleaver? Because I need to gain even more weight? Or maybe it's just because I like desserts. B, in typical health-nut fashion, was less than thrilled. Anyway, I decided that I would start going through my mom's Baking with Julia book, which claims to be "a full course in the art of baking," and trying to master the recipes one at a time.

    The book starts with what it calls the 10 basic recipes. I assume this means the 10 basic French baking recipes, because they include things like choux paste and genoise, which don't seem all that basic to me. Anyway, the very first recipe is for pie crust. The great thing about the '10 basic recipes' is that they each have a few large pages devoted to explaining every last detail and giving helpful hints. I assembled my ingredients with care - even going so far as to use Julia's recommended brand of flour for it's higher protein/gluten content.

    I followed the recipe exactly. The butter and shortening were chilled in the freezer and the water was icy. The book had an entire paragraph about how to mix the dough in a mixer instead of by hand. I figured that was safer and easier, so that's what I did.

    When the dough was made, it seemed suspiciously fluffy, but I scraped it out of the bowl, wrapped it in plastic, and put it in the fridge to chill for a day or two. Yesterday after work, I took half of the dough out to make two crusts. I 'generously floured my work surface' and even remembered to dust flour on the rolling pin. But something went wrong. The dough looked right, but every time I tried to move it, it just fell apart. I finally splashed a little bit of water on it and it stuck a little better, but there was no way to make a pretty pie crust out of something so delicate.

    While I was doing that, B was peeling and slicing apples for me, even though he would have rather been doing almost anything else in the world. We piled the sliced apples in the bottom pie crust, and then managed to get the second barely-together crust over the top and cut some slits in it. Then we cooked a mixture of butter, flour, brown sugar, white sugar, and a little bit of water until it was nice and syrupy. This we poured over the top crust so that it soaked through the crust and coated the apples.

    It is a very ugly pie. There is no French elegance here.

    But the parts of the crust that were covered in the syrup caramelized into a sweet, crunchy goodness. The parts that were not covered in syrup came out flaky and buttery and tender. The Granny Smith apples were just tart enough to hold their own in the syrup. I eschewed all modesty and exclaimed more than once to B and our friends who were over for dinner that "wow, I make some damn good pie." No one disagreed and our friend Tsvi proclaimed it the second best apple pie he had ever tasted.

    Tonight, I will find out whether that was beginner's luck. I will use the remaining dough to make a peach-raspberry pie. If it works out, I will consider that a pass and will go on to the next recipe - choux paste. Anyone up for cream-puffs next week?

    DL has a name!

    After months of agonizing, we have finally decided on a name for the baby. He will be Kestrel Atticus Scott and we will call him Kess. A kestrel is a type of falcon and Atticus is obviously referring to Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my all-time favorite books.


    Poetry Thursday

    Summer Rain

    All night our room was outer-walled with rain.
    Drops fell and flattened on the tin roof,
    And rang like little disks of metal.
    Ping!-- Ping!-- and there was not a pinpoint of silence between them.
    The rain rattled and clashed,
    And the slats of the shutters danced and glittered.
    But to me the darkness was red-gold and crocus-coloured
    With your brightness,
    And the words you whispered to me
    Sprang up and flamed-- orange torches against the rain.
    Torches against the wall of cool, silver rain!

    -Amy Lowell



    I have generally tried to stay away from politics in this blog. I usually think of it as a useless pursuit. I hold the cynical belief that anyone who can get themselves elected in this country is not someone who should hold that kind of power. But somehow, it doesn't seem to be a political statement anymore to claim that George Bush is insane. I guess it's just obvious.

    Take this article from the NY times. I agree with Bush's statement that lower taxes and prosperity generally go hand in hand. However, you can't just cut taxes and then increase spending on domestic issues and then go start expensive un-winnable wars in every country you can possibly find even the slightest reason to bomb. You just can't. And you can't just claim that the economy is doing just fine and wish it so. I just hope we can get someone (anyone) else elected before Bush hurts this country beyond recovery.


    So I'm in a meeting at work. I'm talking and pointing to things on my laptop. All of a sudden, DL decides that he would much rather I sat down. So he kicks me right in my (rather sore and stretched out) belly button. Hard. Hard enough that I kind of gasped and half doubled over for a second. And then I noticed that everyone was still watching me. What could I say? "Sorry, he just kicked me." And then I kept going.

    I have a feeling that this kid is going to be a handful. Sometimes I imagine a toddler version of B running around and it kind of scares me.



    The black and white stripey bug that B found in our backyard is an Ironclad Beetle. Not a whole lot is known about them except that they are found from Central Texas down into Mexico and that they are really neat looking. What a great year for bugs!


    Thanks to the rain, I'm getting to see bugs that normally wouldn't hang out at my house. For example, this huge dobson fly was on my porch, even though we don't live anywhere near a water source. Isn't he awesome looking? He was at least 3 inches long. There was also a funny black and white stripey bug out back, but I haven't figured out what kind it was yet.


    Scanning project back on!

    A few years ago, I spent a long time working on a project to scan all the pictures from my family's photo albums, crop and do minor fixes on everything, and then make sure that everyone had copies of everyone else's pictures on CD. I finished all of my mom's and grandma's photos (I assume my dad has thrown away any pictures of us) and made it through two of B's mom's albums. I love the fact that I have copies of pictures from when my sister and I were babies, of my Grandpa in the navy stationed in Korea, and of my parents as teenagers. I was also really enjoying going through B's family photos one by one and getting to know his family history. Many of the photos I have scanned are faded and the colors are off. I'm amazed at how much I can improve the pictures and I feel like I'm preserving things that might otherwise be worthless soon for being in such bad shape.

    When we moved to our house, the project was put to the side in favor of more immediate and more urgent house projects, but I've been meaning to get back to it for awhile. Now that I'm not able to be quite as active as before, I've finally hooked my scanner back up and gotten out the albums that my MiL let me take a few visits ago. Along with a few albums from when B was a kid, I got a few boxes of loose photos. This is my favorite so far: it shows B as a punk teenager with his grandpa, about to graduate from TAMS.

    I think it's absolutely amazing that our son will be able to see all his family pictures from both sides anytime he wants.

    Dark Lord Update

    Getting closer and closer...! DL has kindly been trying to help me get ready for my upcoming schedule adjustments by refusing to let me sleep for more than an hour at a stretch. It's either that, or my ribs offend him somehow.

    I am also swollen and beginning to resemble the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.

    However, it's all worth it now that I can feel his little butt and hands and feet. And I just realized a day or two ago that he recognizes B's voice. When he hears it, he turns and then is still as if he's listening intently.
    • Amniotic fluid is at its highest level during your pregnancy.
    • Your baby's head size has increased 3/8ths of an inch due to rapid brain growth.
    • Neurons and synapses are developing in huge numbers -- forming connections in your baby's brain will give him the skills he needs to thrive as a newborn. This week, he may be able to coordinate sucking and swallowing with breathing.
    • While most of his bones are hardening, his skull is quite pliable and not completely joined. The bones will be able to move slightly to make birthing easier.
    • You baby takes intermittent deep breaths -- of water! That's okay, though since he gets oxygen from the placenta. This breathing exercises muscles and encourages her lung cells to produce more surfactant (a protein essential for healthy lung development).
    • If your baby is a boy, his testicles will be descending from his abdomen into his scrotum. Sometimes one or both testicles won't move into position until after birth.
    • Your infant is now 17.2 inches (43.7cm) long and weighs 4.23 pounds (1918gm).



    Busy busy busy, no time for poetry! In the meantime, here are some pictures of the wall project progress. Things are going very well, and it's making us nervous. So far, no one has set the yard on fire, no one has gotten drunk and hurled debris all over everything, no one has installed anything upside down or backwards, and there is a suspicious lack of Taco Bell wrappers and coke cans scattered about. What kind of contractors are these? I hope I'm not jinxing us by posting this...


    Looking down

    It has been awhile since I've been able to see my feet.

    Bad news

    Uh oh. Governor Perry just appointed a creationist, Don McLeroy, to head the Texas State Board of Education. I worry that B and I might have to someday debrief our son every day when he comes home from school. Or at least give him early training about the Flying Spaghetti Monster...

    This is from an opinion piece in the Statesman:
    In 2001, McLeroy and a majority of the board rejected the only Advanced Placement textbook for high school environmental science because its views on global warming and other events didn't comport with the beliefs of the board majority. The book wasn't factual and was anti-American and anti-Christian, the majority claimed. Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities were using the textbook, including Baylor University, the nation's largest Baptist college.
    Here is a quote from McLeroy's own website (btw, have I ever mentioned that the abuse of quotation marks is one of my pet peeves?):
    Thus, the most amazing "orthodoxy" which dominates the educational establishment "leviathan" today is the slighting of "facts and knowledge" for emphasis on problem-solving and critical thinking. Problem solving and critical thinking are secondary skills.
    Thanks god for term limits, at least.