Friday, November 05, 2010

We are moving!

I'm not typically superstitious but decided to wait until the time actually came to spread the news over the Internet. Nate took a job with a private company in Boston, so we sold our house and are moving to Boston! We are headed out of DC in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow, going in opposite directions for the next two months. My dad is en route to DC on a flight right now, and he and I are taking the girls south to Charlotte. After spending Sunday with my family there, I will go on to Atlanta with the girls on Monday (my 31st birthday!) and spend November and December with my mom. Nate is driving with our cat to Boston and starts work there on Monday in Waltham. We haven't found a permanent place to live yet, so he will continue to look once he gets there.

It has been a difficult decision for us to leave Washington and all of our great friends. I must say we were both thinking twice about the choice after saying goodbye to David and Caroline a few days ago, but now that the move is in motion, we are doggedly determined to make it work. I am thrilled that Nate is enjoying his work so far and that he finds it challenging, which never could be said about his time in the government. I just hope I can find something equally great to do there.

I am so looking forward to my two-month "vacation" in Atlanta. I hope I will see many of you while I'm there! It feels to me like everything is changing right now. Fall is in full swing with the leaves changing color and the days growing chilly, three of our friends are having babies (yay!), and my birthday is just around the corner. Soon it will be Thanksgiving! I have much to be thankful for right now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Squeaker!

video

Charlotte is such a happy girl. At 6 weeks old, she weighs 10 pounds, which is a gain of almost 2 pounds in a month! She had her first vaccines today, which most of you probably know by now is always a tough call for me. I am particularly glad she got her pertussis (whooping cough) shot though because there is an epidemic right now, and it can be fatal in infants. She is such an easy baby! What you see in this video is her typical demeanor. When she gets hungry, she "squeaks" to let us know (what I call her mini-cry), and she quickly drifts off to sleep after the meal wherever I set her down.

Sorry for the shaky video quality. She was kicking my arm a lot, and we use a little handheld Flip video camera, so it can be tough to keep it steady.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Waiting

This is my favorite poem about waiting, and I wanted to share it today, as I sit and wait...

Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it hath sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.

~John Burroughs

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Preparing the nest




This has been a hectic but fun summer. I took an online anatomy class (not very fun), which ended last weekend, threw 3 baby showers for friends (fun), and went back home for a vacation (very fun). These pictures are from last weekend's baby shower for our friends David & Caroline. We were lucky that it wasn't too hot, and it was a great time to meet and hang out with a bunch of David & Caroline's DC friends.

Poor Vivi has had a heck of a month with teething trouble. She got 6 teeth at once, which led to canker sores, drainage, and eventually an ear infection. She is finally feeling a bit better today, so we are hoping we've seen the end of the teething domino effect. We have decided to start her at day care next month because we think she's ready to be more mentally stimulated. Our nanny has done a great job providing a warm home and loving environment for her since she was six months old, so I will be sad to take her away from that, but I know she's ready for a new challenge and to interact with children her age and older. One of the things we will lose in the transition is her speaking Spanish on a daily basis, so I have chosen to put her in a weekly Spanish immersion class called "Hola Baby!" I am looking forward to seeing her sing songs and play in Spanish because we have trouble getting her to speak it with us at home, even though our nanny says she speaks it well at day care.

The countdown is on for baby #2! I have only 2 1/2 weeks left before my due date, and we're both excited but a bit incredulous that this pregnancy flew by so fast. We are VERY excited that my mom is coming in at the end of the month because she's a big help to us, and we're not quite sure yet how difficult it's going to be to take care of two kids. People tell us frequently that we, and Vivi, are in for a big change, but my guess is you can't really know what it's like until you experience it for yourself. Nate took me on a surprise date night last Saturday to Palena Restaurant in Cleveland Park, and we had a great time eating an over-the-top expensive meal and pretending we're not normally at home playing with blocks and singing "Old MacDonald."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Farmer's Market Heaven!


Before I became a mom, I used to be into things like food and photography. Remember that? Well, I'm still into them but it can be a lot harder to find the time to talk about it. I am going to change that up this summer and start sharing some of my great food finds. This morning Vivi and I walked to the Falls Church farmer's market...at City Hall if you're a local Virginian. It's about 2 miles from the house, and I'm really thankful we live so close by. We both had such fun eating yummy snacks and listening to the amazing bluegrass/folk/Americana musicians who came. Next to a few weekends ago, this farmer's market was in another universe. It was probably the best local farmer's market I've ever attended (I'm not counting Eastern Market or Dupont Circle as local, although clearly those are great ones). We got spring onions, leeks, kale, gorgeous and colorful swiss chard, bok choy, arugula, fresh bread, pastries, milk and yogurt, a pork shoulder, bison burgers, and bison sausage sticks. And all of that was only about $60, which to me is a steal. I easily would have paid that or more at Whole Foods. I would have gotten so much more if I could have carried it home! Nate is in Philadelphia for his last regatta today, but next weekend we are able to go together, so I will be in trouble. I can't resist all of the amazing foods.

Cooking Light has their excellent "summer cookbook" in this month's issue, so I'm looking forward to using it to figure out how to cook all of the interesting veggies I got. No cranberry beans this time, but I'm on the lookout next week. Plus, I really want an herb garden so will return for basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and a few others. And if you're into food like me and haven't heard it yet, you should really give NPR's Splendid Table a listen. I've been enjoying it for the last hour while I blog. I'm really excited now to go out and find orange blossom water. One of her guests described a bunch of ways to use it in desserts and even with swiss chard! My mom used it when I was growing up, so I have such fond memories of that beautiful small french blue bottle with the cursive writing. Nate's parents are in town for Memorial Day weekend, so perhaps we'll take them to the Lebanese butcher up the street to get a goat leg, and I can look for it then. If you haven't tried curry goat, you're missing out! It's fantastic, and I really trust a Halal butcher to care about where his meat came from and how it was treated. You're not going to find a goat around here that hasn't been grazing grass, that's for sure!

My next food mission that I will blog about...make the perfect fizzy mint limeade with my own home-grown mint. I had a version of this at the fantastic DC restaurant Founding Farmers, and ever since I have dreamed of making my own similarly delicious concoction. And now that I'm pregnant and can't enjoy the bounty of summer cocktails, cold beers, and beloved vinho verde (again, if you haven't tried it, go out and get some today! It's a Portuguese white wine that is slightly carbonated, very light, and extraordinary...and they sell it at Trader Joe's for $5!). I tried out a limeade recipe at the baby shower my friend and I threw for friends last weekend, but it just wasn't what I was hoping for...slightly brown in color and much too sweet.

Update on the kid


Genevieve turned two on April 30th, and she's definitely beginning to show signs of rebellion. But mostly it's hilarious to see her furrow her brow and shout "No! Mine!," so it's easy to overlook. She still eats just as much as she ever did and the same huge variety, so I'm no longer worried as I once was when people would say "Oh she eats well now, but just wait until she's 2 and can decide for herself." She'll eat nearly any vegetable I put in front of her, unless it's something I can barely stomach myself like steamed spinach (bleh), and she'll even eat in any restaurant we've taken her to, including Afghan, Vietnamese, Salvadorean, etc. Basically, I think her rule of thumb is that if we're eating it, it must be good. Occasionally I'll treat her to an organic burger and olive-oil french fries from our excellent local fast food place (Elevation Burger), but her most frequently requested meals (the request in Vivi-talk is "How 'bout....?") are fish fingers, eggs, or soup, plus veggie, tomatoes, cheese/yogurt, and fruit. Yes, she eats all of that at every meal. At her 2-year well-child visit, she measured a whopping 37 inches...literally off the charts in height--the nurse said "Occasionally I'll tell a parent their kid is off the chart when they're above the 100th percentile, but this child is literally off the page, so I'll just have to write in her height," and she's 85th percentile in weight. Oh, the joys of bean-poledom begin.

For those of you who are interested in her potty-training skills (a surprising number of people seem to be, unless they just consider it polite conversation to ask me whether she still uses diapers), we are just approaching the actual attempts to go in the mini-potty. She's had a potty and the books for months, so she knows what it's all about, but now the trick is just to get her going in it. Meanwhile our nanny is content to let her wear diapers until she's three, so it seems this is going to be my journey alone (oh, and Nate's...ha! no, I kid. It will be mine alone).

I've had a busy couple of months, but I know family love to get these updates, so I'll do my best to keep up now that I'm no longer traveling the country for work. I have one last trip (a drive! thank goodness) to West Virginia, which I'm really looking forward to, as it's a beautiful part of the country and only 4 hours away. I'm 25 weeks pregnant today with baby girl #2, and I'm still feeling great. My weight is exactly the same as it was last time, so I'm feeling good but guilty for not working out more. I still have thank-you cards to write for Vivi's gifts, so if you haven't gotten one yet, hang in there! I am printing pictures this week and will send them ASAP. Speaking of pictures, I'm going to upload some now and some videos, so check back soon for those. The best is Vivi diving into her birthday cupcake face-first. Daddy's little champion eater!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My kid is cool


I know lots of my friends are rolling their eyes at the subject of my post, since I probably never stop talking about how great Genevieve is. But it's true! Last night, I didn't get to sleep until 2am because she was coughing so much. Yes, on the surface, I admit this doesn't sound like a "good kid" moment. But the experience reminded me of how blessed I am for two reasons: 1) Although she coughed almost nonstop from 11:30pm to 2am, she never cried or complained a bit, and 2) Since she was 5 months old, she has slept from 7pm to 7am almost every single night, with rarely an issue. Who has a kid this great?! This must be why we are crazy enough to have another one...I can only hope that child will be half as cool as this one.

Monday, March 22, 2010

high fructose corn syrup: why you should avoid it

There are lots of great books with chapters about corn, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and why it's bad for your body, so I won't write too many details in this post (see links to books below). But if you aren't interested in reading those resources (here are some links to research articles on Wikipedia), I'll give you some quick sound bytes of facts. This way you can fight back against those commercials (paid for by corn producers) that would have you believe that just because you can't remember what's bad about HFCS, it must be ok!

Here are your quick sound bytes:

  • HFCS is metabolized more slowly than sugar and isn't able to be processed normally by the pancreas, which can lead to diabetes.
  • You won't feel full when you eat HFCS, which can cause you to overeat and has contributed to the current obesity trend.


If you are interested in learning a bit more about the above facts, the following paragraph is written by a MD and comes from this webpage. It gives the information in basically the same way I would, so I'm including a direct quote:

"Food manufacturers like high fructose corn syrup because it's cheap, it's super sweet and it has a long shelf life.
Unfortunately, once it's in your body, there isn't much good to say about it. It disrupts your metabolism and puts you at higher risk for diabetes in many ways.
Once upon a time, doctors actually recommended fructose to people with diabetes because your body absorbs it more slowly. It also doesn't cause the same spikes in blood sugar that glucose does. It turns out that these "benefits" are actually part of the reason behind the dangers of HFCS.
Your body absorbs fructose more slowly because it has to be metabolized by the liver, unlike glucose, which can be absorbed and used by every cell in your body. Because it's only metabolized in the liver, fructose doesn't trigger insulin production in the pancreas. So, rather than being used by the cells, fructose is usually stored as fat.
High fructose corn syrup is so hard on your liver that it can actually cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). One of the complications of NAFLD is insulin resistance.
In order to use fructose, your body must contribute a number of minerals such as magnesium, copper, and chromium. Depletion of these minerals, especially chromium, interferes with insulin production and use... and that's the first step toward diabetes. HFCS also impairs the function of insulin receptors on your cells. That leads to insulin resistance, and again, a higher risk of diabetes.
Finally, when you eat HFCS, it doesn't make you feel full. People who eat a lot of HFCS-containing foods are likely to consume more calories and become overweight or obese. Obesity is another risk factor for diabetes."

Although a few studies have determined HFCS is the same "nutritionally" as sugar, there isn't enough of an evidence base to prove this theory. And even if it is the same as sugar, I think it's best not to eat a lot of sugar either! I'm proud to say that at 2 years old, Genevieve has still never had a sip of juice and doesn't know the meaning of the word (don't ask me about french fries). Even all-natural juice provides only empty calories when compared to the fiber provided in eating whole fruit. I think it's a good idea to cut back in sugar too.

I certainly don't place all the blame for rising rates of obesity and diabetes on HFCS; increased serving sizes and levels of highly processed food, combined with less physical activity, carry their fair share of culpability. But my beef with HFCS doesn't stop with the nutritional consequences. I am also fed up with America's strange love affair with corn and am ready for the country to cut off the subsidization of the crop. Until then, we will continue to see corn in nearly 100% of processed food.

You can read more about HFCS and the history of corn in these books, which I highly recommend:
1. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
2. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.

I also recommend watching the documentary "Food Inc," as it provides some visual aids to some of the points of both of the books above. "Supersize Me" is another great documentary, well worth watching if you still haven't seen it yet. A movie was also made of Fast Food Nation, but I would recommend reading the book instead. Happy food hunting!

Author's Note: About a year after I published this post, the New York Times covered the topic of the toxicity of sugar. Clearly, there is more to worry about than just HFCS.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

reducing your exposure to bromine

I just read a very interesting article about bromine. The quick low-down is that we are exposed to this chemical in many ways, such as in bread, soda, pesticides, plastics, and personal care products. Among other nasty health problems, bromine has been linked to schizophrenia, cancer, and thyroid function problems (due to low iodine, a bromine side effect). I thought I'd share some of the tips the article mentions for how you can avoid it in your life.

Seven Tips for Avoiding Bromine and Optimizing Iodine


Trying to avoid bromine is like trying to avoid air pollution -- all you can do is minimize your exposure. That said, here are a few things you can do to minimize your risk:

  1. Eat organic as often as possible. Wash all produce thoroughly. These actions will minimize your pesticide exposure.
  2. Avoid eating or drinking from (or storing food and water in) plastic containers. Use glass and safe ceramic vessels.
  3. Look for organic whole-grain breads and flour. Grind you own grain, if possible. Look for the "no bromine" or "bromine-free" label on commercial baked goods.
  4. Avoid sodas. Drink natural, filtered water instead.
  5. If you own a hot tub, look into an ozone purification system. Such systems make it possible to keep the water clean with minimal chemical treatments.
  6. Look for personal care products that are as chemical-free as possible. Remember -- anything going on you, goes in you.
  7. When in a car or a building, open windows as often as possible, preferably on opposing sides of the space for cross ventilation. Utilize fans to circulate the air. Chemical pollutants are much higher inside buildings (and cars) than outside.


Here are some of the ways bromine is labeled on commercial products: potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), methyl bromide, and polybromo diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), among others.

Basically, if you see brom- as a prefix or suffix to a chemical name, avoid it. Next up might be a post about why high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) IS bad for you, since I'm growing increasingly irritated at the recent commercials sponsored by corn producers that tell you it's ok.

Update: I did write that post about HFCS. You can read it here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Apron Strings


Well, I've debated how to share our news, since it inevitably makes its way to the faceless masses of Facebook, with which like many others I have a love-hate relationship. But I do want to share the news with friends and family (and those of you I owe phone calls to), so what better way to do that than a public display of my family's personal life on my blog! If you haven't figured it out yet, we have baby number 2 on the way. I'm almost 14 weeks along, and the blimpiness is already under way. I count my blessings daily and thank God that it has been so easy for us to decide when to grow our family. We are both thrilled and are now awaiting with bated breath for the time we can find out the gender (still another month away...ah the suspense!). I don't think I need to tell you which Nate would prefer, but he will of course love another Genevieve too. The big debate in our household right now is the naming, which will get even more heated when we know whether to pick boy or girl names. I won't tell you my favorites yet, but instead I'd like to use Facebook/the blog for its greatest utility and throw a poll out there to you. What names do you like? We'd like to try to keep it a bit shorter this time. To get the ball rolling, I'll tell you what Nate's rowers (8th graders through sophomores) came up with for a boy: Ulysses. Nickname: "Double U" (or I suppose it could be "Dubya" if we go Texas-style). Pretty creative, huh?

Let the naming begin!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Aftermath

video

This is a video of the aftermath of this week's huge blizzard. If you're seeing this on Facebook, you have to click "original post" to get it to take you to the blog.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A muppet named "Burp" and other joys of toddlerdom

I admittedly have been lax about sharing videos since Nate has been back from Iraq. But I just had to share this one, where I finally caught it on tape that she calls Bert (of Sesame Street) "Burp" and Cookie Monster "Cookie's Water." Ok, so it's probably much funnier to me, but I've been waiting since she was born for the hilarious toddler word mix-ups, such as my little sister's "Skinny Pig" (i.e. Guinea pig) and "Baby Soup" (as in "bathing suit"). Guinea pig must just be one of those hard words to understand...Vivi calls them "Piggy pigs."

And of course, the main theme of the video is the "clean-up" game. If you're wondering, no I do not suggest this as a game. She just grabs whatever napkin she can find and starts cleaning off her doll's mouth...or, like in this video, the walls and floor. It's really amazing how quickly children pick up their gender roles. Yes, I did buy her a doll with a stroller and a shopping cart, but this is only after she started putting her stuffed animals in a box and pushing them around the house. Clearly, I did not precipitate this game.


video

I can't quite explain how thrilled I am that family and friends are finally slowly jumping on board with having children! I was beginning to wonder if we would be the only Gen X parents under 35. What's in store for us this spring? We're contemplating selling the house in case DC is experiencing a mini-bubble related to the $8k refund. Plus, when we have basement water issues, it doesn't exactly leave us feeling warm and fuzzy. But then again we are finally content, and Nate is adjusting to the neighborhood. Having said that, I just got an advertisement on our front door by a major company that is ONLY written in SPANISH. Really???

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