Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Nevada Day (or Halloween)!

Today is the date on which Nevada officially became a state. So we close the schools and eat lots of candy. We also took Ella trick or treating and then to a Halloween party complete with bounce house, popcorn, haunted house, and a cake walk! We even managed to get in a snack of carrots and hummus.

Ella's costume was supposed to be a cat, but she refused to wear the ears so she just looked cute in a floufy leopard print dress. I thought about giving her a black nose and whiskers, but she rubs her face too much. She would've ended up looking like a hobo or something.

We started our evening trick or treating with Ali and David Keyser. The dads braved two 2 year olds and a 1 year old while the moms stayed home and handed out candy. David was about the cutest thing I've ever seen in his alligator vest!

We hit up the party next, but it was too dark for photos by then. We did get some good video, which I'll upload later. And yes, that baby/doll goes everywhere with us!

I'd say we wore Ella out -- she beat us to the door when we got home, headed straight for her room and was in bed under the covers (still in her costume) by the time I managed to get my purse hung up!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Charging for Paperwork

My husband is planning to take 3 weeks off from work to stay at home and help when the baby is born. Thanks to our friendly Family Medical Leave Act, he can take up to 12 weeks off -- all unpaid, of course. His employer will allow him to use up to 6 weeks of sick leave to get paid while he is off. One of the forms required for FMLA leave has to be filled out by our doctor. If it is not filled out, no FMLA leave is granted. The doctor's office charged us a fee to fill out a two-sided form that took about 10 minutes. Basically we either paid the fee or he doesn't get leave from his job. Nothing like not having any options.

I was more than irritated to be charged for paperwork. On the one hand, we used the doctor's employees to fill out the form and employees cost money. On the other hand, given that this is an OB's office, they should probably expect most patients will need an FMLA form filled out. If we had needed copies of my file or had a 5 page form to fill out that would take significant time, I could understand a fee for the time. Probably the better option for a doctor is to just add the fee to your delivery fee (without publishing it as such) and look like the good guy.

We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but as you can see from this chart**, we are way behind in the world in parental leave.

** I tend to take info on Wikipedia with a grain of salt, but from other reading I've done, this is probably pretty accurate.

CrockPot Applesauce

I have been obsessed with apples lately. I am generally not an apple eater at all, but I recently discovered Honeycrisps and Galas and fell in love! Since apples are in abundance and on sale right now, I decided to try my hand at applesauce.

My mom always made her own applesauce so I started there. Unfortunately, she uses a food mill for her recipe and I don't have, nor do I have any desire to own, a food mill. Then I saw a recipe for applesauce in the Crock Pot and since I have a couple of those already on hand, why not.

I pretty much used this recipe from A Year of CrockPotting only I didn't measure any ingredient except the water and the brown sugar. I even lost count of how many apples I had put in (I think it was around 8 or 9). I used Gala apples, peeled with a peeler and cored/slice with that round gizmo you push down on. Dumped the slices with the ingredients in to my CrockPot, stirred, and cooked on low for 6 hours. It made my home smell like an apple pie was baking all day long! Once finished, I used a potato masher to make it in into applesauce.

YUM! This stuff is DELICIOUS! Even my applesauce-hating hubby liked it (at least enough to eat a spoonful). I think the addition of the vanilla really adds to the flavor. I added 1/2 cup water and next time I either won't add any or only add a 1/4 cup because it was a tad too watery for me.

Galas are on sale again this week so I'm going to make a major batch (or two) and then freeze it for later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

36 Weeks

Yesterday the doctor told us that he wants to do an amnio at 36 weeks (I am currently 34 weeks) and deliver the baby if all is well. That news took me by complete surprise. I knew we wouldn't make it past 39 weeks, but I figured we'd make it to at least 37 weeks! The issue is that my blood pressure is not coming down and while I have no signs of preeclampsia, he is still concerned. He doubled my medication intake, which was already making me sleepy and dizzy, so I'm in great shape today.

I, of course, have mixed feelings about delivering at 36 weeks. First and foremost, I don't want a baby with problems from being born too early. But that said, Ella was born at 37 weeks and had no issues whatsoever (well, she had hip issues, but that had nothing to do with when she was born). On the other hand, running around after a 2 year old while drugged up has been more than difficult and I feel like Ella is getting cheated big time.

Has anyone delivered at 36 weeks or know much about delivering that early?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Problem with Being 2

The problem with being 2 is that everyone tells you what to do when you just want to do what YOU want to do. This morning Ella went trick or treating at a senior citizen center with her friend, Ali. The only problem was that Ella REFUSED to wear her costume, which I had to hide when I got it out a few weeks ago because she wanted to wear it then. So I gave her a choice of the pumpkin shirt with a skirt or the "piddy dress" as she called it. She chose the shirt/skirt combo. Sigh.

I sent her costume along with Ali's mom just in case Ella changed her mind. Sure enough, she came home wearing the costume. Unfortunately, she was not in to getting her picture taken at that point. She took off the ears and I didn't paint whiskers or a nose on her, but you get the idea.

Crock Pot Oatmeal

I have been so lazy about breakfast lately -- we've been eating cold cereal for months. A few weeks ago I ran out of Cheerios and now all I have is sugar cereal, which is reserved for weekends only, so we've been eating a lot of toast! I've been meaning to try making oatmeal in the Crock Pot for a while and finally got my act together Sunday night to prepare it. I used the recipe from Southern Plate as a guide (although I've seen it elsewhere as well). I made mine with steel cut oats (I prefer them) and used all water (so 5 cups) instead of milk because frankly, it's cheaper. I am not a fan of raisins, but Ella likes them so I added in a few handfuls of those, too. I put it all in my smaller Crock Pot (I think it's a 3 or 3.5 quart) and cooked overnight on low for about 12 hours. I didn't use the water bath method. I just dumped everything in and turned it on.

I think I cooked it a little too long because the oatmeal was very sturdy -- I prefer mine a bit moist. You can add a tad more liquid or cut the cooking time by a few hours (I'm guessing). I like creamer in my oatmeal, though, so it was all good. We mixed in brown sugar and cinnamon. There was plenty to go around and we had enough for this morning and definitely for tomorrow with just two of us eating it.

I loved waking up to a nice hot breakfast with no effort on my part whatsoever! We will definitely be having this often

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Trip to the Mall

I decided on Friday that it was time to make a trip to the mall despite not wanting to be on my feet for too long. First, we needed to vote and avoid long lines on November 4th. Nevada offers early voting and the mall near our home is the closest polling station. Second, I had a few coupons for free products and I wanted to use them before they expired or I have a baby.

The voting was a breeze even with Ella. No line (although it was really busy!) and Ella had fun pushing the "buttons" on the screen for me. We have officially cast our vote for the next President (and other miscellaneous items).

The shopping was even better. I spent $3.00 plus tax and received $35.50 in merchandise: two Wallflower plug-in thingys and two hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works and a pair of underwear from Victoria's Secret (in the bag as I'm not one to flaunt that stuff on my blog). I received a coupon for a free pair in the mail from VS with no other purchase necessary!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bedtime: What A Nightmare

Since the day she came home from the hospital, I did everything they said to do to make your child a good sleeper. She never once slept with us in our bed. I put her down to sleep while she was still awake, but sleepy. She never, ever was rocked to sleep or put to sleep while eating. We stuck with a bed time routine without variation. It worked! Ella was easy to put down, never cried herself to sleep, and would go to bed at 7 PM and sleep for 11-12 hours at a time. That is until a few months ago when chaos broke loose.

My adorable little sleeper turned in to a monster at bed time. We didn't change a single thing -- she changed all on her own. Suddenly, she would cry for HOURS in her bed at night. She wanted something to drink in bed with her. She'd fall asleep late (I'm talking between 9-10 PM) and wake up early (around 6 AM) and be a crank all day long because she was exhausted. We stuck to our guns -- consistent routine, no TV in the evenings, 7 PM bedtime. It did not work. So we made some changes -- many contrary to what they tell you. And it worked.

1) We slowly tried out later bedtimes to see what worked. 8:30 PM seems to be the golden hour when she is tired and ready to sleep. It is MUCH later than I like, but it works. She is asleep within 20 minutes (usually).

2) We added TV in to our nighttime routine. It worked for a friend so we gave it a shot. We found that we have Thomas the Tank Engine on-Demand, which Ella loves. The episodes run about 5 minutes long so two are perfect pre-bed watching.

3) We changed our schedule. We used to eat dinner at 5 PM sharp for a 7 PM bedtime. Now we eat between 6-6:30 PM. This has been extremely difficult for me to get used to! It seems so late to be eating dinner. I also added in a larger snack between 2-3 PM so we can all make it to that later dinner time.

4) We scheduled daily outdoor time. We are lucky that Daddy gets home around 2:30 PM everyday so we can go to a park and run around for a good 2 hours. It has been very difficult for Ella to get outside to run around due to limitations of one vehicle, pregnancy, and the weather. Now as soon as Daddy gets home she asks to go "bye-byes". Sometimes I stay home, sometimes I go with them.

In general, the changes seem to be working. Ella is asleep before 9 PM, is waking up around 8 AM, and is in a much better mood during the day. Now let's hope the new baby sibling doesn't throw too much of a wrench in to the works!

Monday, October 20, 2008

From Meat to Wheat

I have recently had an interest in cooking more vegetarian dishes. I am very concerned about the amount of hormones and antibiotics found in mainstream meat products. Buying organic meat, however, is way out of our price range. Or maybe it isn't if I cut back on the amount of meat we eat. I know that in general Americans eat way more meat than they need. I also know from my Weight Watcher days that our serving sizes of meat are at least twice what they should be. I'm thinking it is time to cut back.

My sister was kind enough to send me the cookbook in the post below as well as a book on becoming a vegetarian (if I wasn't 8 months pregnant I'd get up, go get it and tell you the title, but I am 8 months pregnant so I'm not moving). It has been very informative to say the least. I haven't done much research yet on-line, but I am anticipating a lot of info there as well.

I have very few vegetarian recipes in my menu routine and so I'm doing research, collecting recipes, and preparing to make some pretty significant changes to our diet once I am capable of cooking full time again (i.e. once I deliver this baby!). If you have any resources, I'd love to peruse them!

I asked my Jewish raised husband (meaning lots of meat and fried food) if he would mind going vegetarian. I really wish I would have had our video camera because the look on his face was truly priceless (as I figured it would be). He did agree, however, to cut back on meat and see how that goes.

Monday, October 13, 2008


We had one of our twice weekly doctor appointments today and FINALLY got some good news. Our baby is HUGE! I am roughly 32 weeks and the baby is measuring 34 weeks. Add to that a very high level of amniotic fluid and yeah, I'm huge! The good news is that the large measurements mean that my high blood pressure is not affecting the baby's growth. Because the baby is so big and obviously healthy, we are down to one appointment a week. And because bed rest tends to make babies even bigger, we are now trying to avoid that at all costs.

We will still deliver immediately if my blood pressure acts up, but for now, all is quiet. Just for posterity, I had Mitch take a picture today and I'm actually going to post it. I don't have any from my pregnancy with Ella and wish that I had taken at least one!

Pizza Night

One of my menu staples is homemade pizza. It is inexpensive, delicious, and filling. Add a side salad and you have a yummy meal any day of the week. Pizza is also very easy for kids to help with -- Ella has taken a keen interest in helping Daddy make pizza!

Homemade Pizza
1 Cup lukewarm water
1 package dry yeast (or 2.25 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
2.5 -3 Cups flour (we use white or whole wheat or a combo)
2 Tablespoons oil (we use olive oil for taste)
1 teaspoon salt

Mix yeast, sugar, and water. Let sit for about 5 minutes; mixture should be bubbly after 5 minutes. When using yeast, err on the side of cooler water. It may take the yeast longer to activate, but if the water is too warm it will kill the yeast.

Add the rest of the ingredients and knead dough right in the bowl (or on the counter if you want). Add more flour if needed so the dough is not sticky. Leave dough in bowl anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours. The longer it sits, the more bread like the dough will be. We let ours rise for about 15 minutes as we prefer a less bread-like dough. Punch down dough after rising and spread on to your preferred pan. We use a jelly roll pan with a Silpat underneath. Add your favorite toppings, sauce, and cheese.

We bake our pizza at 500 degrees for 10-15 minutes. We use a high temp because we live in the desert and our low moisture affects our dough. You could lower the temp to 450 degrees if you are in a moist climate (pretty much anywhere but here!).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Christmas is Coming!

And because I know a lot of people who read this blog are frustrated with the consumerism surrounding Christmas... I came across Advent Conspiracy today. We have already decided to cut way back on gifts this year. My true dream is to celebrate Christmas like the family on the TV show 7th Heaven -- the gift had to be homemade. Someday....

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