Sunday, July 29, 2007

Zuma zoom zoom

Jim often tries to get me to play new computer or video games that he thinks I'll like, and I usually wiggle out of it by saying, "Yeah, just what I need—one more thing to suck away my non-existent free time!"

So far I've avoided getting sucked into the Wii for more than a half-dozen rounds of Mario Party 8 with the boys—but then Jimmy (that little imp) got me hooked on Zuma. I just know his dad put him up to it. Jim told me about Zuma months ago, tried selling it to me on the basis that it's about a secret Mayan temple (so clever, knowing my weakness for all things Mayan) but I was strong, I resisted. So he got Jimmy to play it, and he became really good at it, and then he tempted me. Sigh.

And now I'm completely and utterly hooked. If I thought computer solitaire was bad, this is so, so much worse; it's like electronic crack. You can download a trial copy from PopCap Games if you think you've got the moral fiber to keep your habit under control, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I'm a skinny cowgirl

What a good girl I am; I just finished a tasty, nutritious lunch of boneless pork ribs, a spinach salad, a whole wheat biscuit, and a glass of skim milk. To chase it down, I indulged (guilt-free) in a no-sugar-added ice cream sandwich.

BGD (before gestational diabetes) I used to enjoy Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches and I recently discovered that they also make a version sweetened with Splenda. Now I can satisfy my jones for ice cream while still taking care of me and baby. Halelujah!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Think pink

In my distant childhood I remember loving to dress up and twirl around in a full skirt, pretending I was a ballerina. That was offset by a lot of time reading books about ancient Egypt and making repeated attempts to dig up buried treasure in my backyard. Sadly, my aspirations to become the world's first ballet-dancing archaeologist have yet to be fulfilled, but I still spend a lot more time in denim than in frills.

Over the years, I've eschewed wearing pink and other girly pastels in favor of more saturated hues like blue, black and red that flatter my coloring and harmonize with my personality—with the notable exception of a pink dress my mom made for me in 1984, which I absolutely adored and wore out.

Then, a couple years ago, I unexpectedly experienced a pink renaissance. After Jimmy was born, I lost a lot of weight and started to experiment with fashion. About that same time, I saw Funny Face (another Fred Astaire film, co-starring the incomparable Audrey Hepburn). Early in the movie is a musical number called "Think Pink" featuring the hilarious Kay Thompson as a fashion magazine editor extolling the virtues of pink.

While it would be a stretch to call it an anthem for my new wardrobe, the song got stuck in my head and when I was out shopping, it became a catalyst for stepping out of my comfort zone. Slowly I incorporated pink into my sartorial selections, although I usually chose shocking pink, fuschia or other vibrant shades. Here's a clip from that has the song in its entirety:

Now that we've found out we're having a girl, I'm starting to think pink again. Not that I don't want balance for her wardrobe; I've made sure to include blues, browns, purples and so forth. But I'm reconnecting with my inner pink-ness. On Wednesday Jimmy and I went down to Jo-Ann Fabrics in Yakima and I bought some fabric for sewing projects.

I finished the first project, a double-sided flannel receiving blanket, just yesterday.

Here's a closeup of the bow detail. Stay tuned for the matching dress (which I'm going to work on this weekend).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Poetry thursday 7.26.07

Total Recall

Most methodically my mind measures
isolated incidents, images ingrained into
countless convoluted corridors of consciousness
this is how it seems as I
reluctantly recall, remember and reminisce
summoning from somewhere
begging, beseeching, bringing back from beyond
the most
remote reaches of my recollection
twisted tangles of time that torment
wonder I want to
forget, flee from
what once was
a past that perniciously, perpetually pursues
from which there is
no escape.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I miss rain

The same day I baked chocolate banana bread, we got another treat: it rained. This spring and summer have been exceptionally dry here in central Washington; fortunately, we had a rather harsh winter with plenty of snow, so the reservoirs are full and we haven't had a water shortage. But rain in the middle of summer? Unexpected, to say the least.

While the bread was in the oven, Jimmy and I ran outside and enjoyed the cool, wet morning. I confess, it made me a bit homesick for Seattle. Born and raised in the northwest, I've always loved the rain, and while I enjoy living in an area that has four distinct seasons, I miss the lush green and quiet drizzle. For me, the grey days and steady, gentle downpour were somehow melancholy and comforting at the same time. Maybe because it was the perfect weather to go for a long walk by myself or curl up with a favorite book. For me, rain has a way of replenishing that goes beyond the obvious aspect of mere hydration... it feeds my soul, too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bad bananas gone good

Last month my good buddy Aubrey posted about how she hates the smell of overripe bananas. I'm with ya, girl! When I'm pregnant, no smell sends me over the edge faster. And when I'm not pregnant I'm still a banana snob, only eating those that are a bright, even shade of yellow with just a hint of green. Once bananas start to get those little brown spots, it's all over; they're consigned to the freezer until I'm in the mood to bake banana bread.

Not long ago, Jim found a recipe on that with some of his inspired tweaking, was really incredible. So good, I'm actually tempted to sit and stare at my bananas until they go spotty. Of course, I can't eat it now, but I'm waiting eagerly until we start our pre-Christmas baking frenzy. And in the meantime, I'm whipping up a batch because the temperature here is finally cooling down and I want to take some goodies to friends. If you live too far away to be on my delivery route, you should make some for yourself!

Chocolate Banana Bread

1 cup margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
6 bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup lite sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, cream together margarine, sugar and eggs. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking soda and cocoa; mix well. Blend in sour cream and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hello, cookie sue

Here's a profile shot of our little one; isn't she lovely?

Black fred or cookie sue?

Watch this space...

...for baby news! I'm having an ultrasound at four this afternoon. While I know I shouldn't get my hopes up about finding out whether it's a boy or girl, I confess I'm failing miserably.

Jim's family has a funny story: when his youngest brother Johnny was still little (maybe two years old), his mom was expecting Anna, their youngest. When asked what they should name the baby, Johnny, as the sensible guy he still is, gave it a great deal of consideration and then thoughtfully suggested names for both a boy and a girl: Black Fred and Cookie Sue. These being the days before routine ultrasounds, Jim's folks didn't find out whether they were having a boy or girl until the baby arrived. Apparently Jim was especially concerned about the gender of the new baby because if they had a boy, he was going to have to share his bedroom. He was at school while Anna was born, but his folks called and left a message for him at the school to put his mind at rest about keeping his own room: "It's a Cookie Sue!"

Black Fred or Cookie Sue... stay tuned.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Night and day

You learn something new every day (especially if you're me). This afternoon while folding my Friday laundry, I watched The Gay Divorcee with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and found out that one of my favorite songs, the old standard "Night and Day" by Cole Porter, was written for this particular film. The movie itself is an appealing light musical comedy with plenty of the duo's famous dancing (my favorite part).

In The Gay Divorcee, Astaire sings "Night and Day". Many others have covered it since the film came out in 1934, but my favorite version is by the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. Every time I hear it, I envision myself in a flowing gown, being swept away à la Ginger and Fred, dancing on my own personal cloud.

I have an mp3 of Ella Fitzgerald singing "Night and Day"; however, Blogger doesn't support sharing mp3 files. So I googled like crazy to try and find a link to a recording of it, but no dice. Then I remembered and got lucky. This isn't quite as smooth as the track I have on mp3, but it's still a wonderful live performance by a consummate artist of a beautiful love song.

Oh, and by the way— also has a trailer for The Gay Divorcee, which has a short clip of Astaire singing "Night and Day". That particular scene is charming; it's where he finally wins her over with the song and a romantic waltz. If you've never seen it, this classic film is worth watching.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hot hot hot

Here in central Washington the weather is starting to scorch; since Independence Day the mercury has crept ever closer to 100. Thank goodness for Costco; last week we sojourned to Yakima and picked up a window AC unit, so the heat has been tolerable.

If I were smart, I would camp out upstairs next to the AC with a good book and never leave that spot, but no. On Monday I went up to the Ensign Ranch with the girls from my ward for our stake Girls' Camp. I got comments from several people who think I'm crazy for going up there in the heat when I'm seven and three-quarter months pregnant. Maybe, but I really love spending time with those girls—mosquitos, flat air mattresses, and adolescent silliness nothwithstanding. I never fail to be impressed with the miracle of what they learn from camp: appreciating the beauty of nature, overcoming their differences, building new friendships, showing great kindness to each other and their adult leaders, and deepening their relationships with God. For all those reasons, Girls' Camp helps me feel recharged and even though I don't get to stay the entire week, I always return feeling spiritually strengthened myself, with more appreciation and patience for my little family.

I got back last night and discovered that while I was gone, Aubrey bestowed upon me a most illustrious honor:

In passing this on, I may fall under criticism for nepotism, but I'm just so tickled that my own sisters have recently started blogging that I want give this award to them. So Dory, Ruth and Meredith—YOU ROCK! Go forth and share the glory!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Big brother bedroom

As I look at that, I realize it sounds rather Orwellian, but no, there's nothing sinister about this particular big brother bedroom.

At the end of yesterday afternoon's marathon fabric wallpapering session (I'm still washing the laundry starch out from under my fingernails) the herculean efforts of myself, Jim and our painting angels finally came together.

I should have taken a real "before" picture, but the first time I thought to do it was after we started painting. However, here's a handly little composite of the previous color palette (gag).

This was the halfway point of the paint job.

Behold, the hideous wallpaper I wanted so badly to cover. Sadly, I was unable to do anything about the carpet. Supposedly brown is a neutral, but I don't know if the same can be said of brown shag. Oh well.

And at long last, let's open the door to Jimmy's room and see the finished product.

Look! There's the chest of drawers Jim painted last weekend. Doesn't it look great? The school bus painting was a birthday present a couple of years ago from Jimmy's Nana.

I made the roman shades (which Jim reinstalled in the new room) back when we first moved into the Big Red House, and for the past week I've been knocking myself out sewing a matching bedskirt...

...matching festive flags for the ceiling (which tie together the walls, shades and Jimmy's favorite train blanket)...

...and a cute matching sign for the door (in case you forgot who's room this is).

A few shots showing off my lovely fabric wallpapering job...

...and our picturesque yet functional ironing board (whoops—wait a minute!)

Here's Jimmy this evening reading a bedtime story to his dad; with a only little coaching, he can get all the way through the "Blue's Clues" easy reader My Pet Turtle. Bedtime tonight was a little more mellow than last night.

He was so animated about the first night in his big brother bedroom, it took him a quite while to settle down to sleep. His excitement was the real payoff for me. It was extremely satisfying to see how this new room makes him feel special and loved, and all the aggravation and work of the last month has been a very small price to pay.

Now I can sit back and take a little breather before I start planning for the baby's room...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Poetry thursday 7.5.07

It's been a while since I wrote anything new, and this poem crept up on me. I had been thinking a lot about my grandmother, who passed away in 2001, and wanting to write a poem about her—but also wanting to avoid anything forced, trite, or untrue to her memory.

One night I was laying in bed and thinking about our visits together, which were usually fun and busy, and I remembered what would happen in the quiet moments, when we were done with lunch at Friday Harbor, renting movies at Roche, or buying Martha Washington geraniums to plant out front. It took me a while to realize why I have such a fondness for Scott Joplin and Hoagy Carmichael tunes, but this is where it all began. So Nana, this one's for you.

Stardust and Solace

She played so many songs
on those sunlit afternoons we spent together
her brittle fingers flowing with
surprising strength and grace
purposeful across the keys
two I most remember
one with words, one without
melancholy melodies of longing, loss
I don’t remember her ever saying she missed him
but each note spoke eloquently for her
never having known passion
how could I know her pain?
yet somehow that soulful sadness of
Stardust and Solace
sang to my tender untried heart
echoing in its empty corners
and I tasted true love’s loss
before I ever fell.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Johnny tremain

It's a bit late in the game on Independence Day. Most of the day I've been working on projects for Jimmy's big boy bedroom. This morning Jim painted the dresser that I've been nagging him to do for the last week, and so I'm pushing to get all the necessary projects done for the room to be ready this Saturday. For the last little while I've been listening to the fireworks outside and trying to find relief from the heat (it's been 100 degrees here most of the afternoon) as I cut fabric for a bedskirt.

I was going to skip blogging today but then I got thinking about how much I love Independence Day. A lot of that love comes from being a history buff and being fascinated with the American Revolution, how an amalgamation of contradictory personalities came together and wrought such a remarkable chain of events. With a bit of embarassment, I have to admit that my favorite book about the Revolution is actually fictitious (oh, the shame)—but I've loved it since I was a kid and I just can't help myself. If you haven't, I highly recommend that you read Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. It's a great story, imaginitively told, and is one of my all-time faves. That, and it's a much easier read than 1776 (which I also love and highly recommend, but which is hard-core history and not for the easily bored).

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Swing is the thing

Get 'em while they're hot! Fresh Jimmy pix! We got some swing time in yesterday after going to the doctor's office for what has now become my weekly check up (thanks to g.d.). My blood sugar counts have been too high in the mornings so I'll be taking Glyburide a half hour before breakfast each day to try and bring it down. Other than that, things look good. I actually lost a pound over the last week, bringing my total weight gain so far for this pregnancy down to twelve pounds (I'm taking a modest bow because I've worked really hard to be fit and healthy).

And for what could be the silver lining of g.d.'s storm cloud: I'll be having another ultrasound the third week in July. So what if it's to make sure the baby doesn't get too big; I'm just tickled to get another peek at my hand-wavin', bladder-tap-dancin' progeny!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Visiting teaching

I know some of the folks who visit my blog aren't Mormon like me, so here's a brief explanation to get you up to speed. The women's organization in the Mormon church (which happens to be the oldest organization of women in the world) is called the Relief Society and one of the things the Relief Society does to look after the physical, spiritual and emotional welfare of its members is visiting teaching. As a visiting teacher, I'm assigned three women to visit once a month, at which time I present a brief inspirational message based on scriptural teachings, as well as spending time just visiting and assessing any special needs. Usually these visits are done with a partner, but I'm currently without so sometimes I take Jimmy or I go alone.

Over years of visiting teaching, I've found that I've developed fast friendships with the women I visit that go far beyond my official duties. Just last weekend, we had one of the ladies I visit over to dinner with her husband. They're retired hay farmers, have six children, are both in their eighties, and I love listening to the wisdom of their life experiences. The husband is eighty-seven and still bikes twenty miles a day; he's my inspiration to get back on my bike after this baby comes and start training for another triathlon!

This is one of the reasons I absolutely love my church; it's tremendous to be involved in visiting teaching, developing friendships and caring for other women and their families. I feel humbled to be an instrument in God's hands by giving compassion, companionship and service. I also get visiting teachers who come visit me. This week my two fabulous visiting teachers, Heidi and Becky, were there for me: within a day of me finding out about having gestational diabetes, they had both visited me, bringing a mason jar full of wild sweet peas and some cute baby booties, as well as their shoulders to cry on. They were also my painting angels; on Friday they finished painting Jimmy's new big brother bedroom! I was overwhelmed with their kindness and generosity.

I paid that forward this weekend by visiting one of my ladies who has cerebral palsy. It took us several months to really get to know each other when I was first assigned to visit her, but recently things just clicked and now we're really friends. I took her a little present yesterday, and then this evening I went back with Jim and another man from church who gave her a special priesthood blessing to provide relief for some pain she's been having in her knees. It took some doing to coordinate getting them there to do the blessing, but it was worth it to see the look of peace on her face when they finished. I sure love visiting teaching; what a gift to have these connections with other women.