Saturday, August 24, 2013

Best Stroganoff Ever

This is tweaked only very slightly from my mother-in-law's recipe, so she gets all the credit for recipe-inventing skillz.

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
2 tbsp minced dried onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 to 1/2 can cooking sherry or wine (measured in the empty soup can)
1 cube beef bouillon
1 shake garlic powder
2 shakes ground mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 cup sour cream

1 bag egg noodles


Brown ground beef in a large skillet--I think mine is 12 inches in diameter at the bottom.

Add all other ingredients except sour cream. Heat until bubbly and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Tip: Put water on to boil for noodles as soon as you start simmering. When the water boils, your stroganoff is done.) (I boil my water on "medium" so it takes a long time. This would not work for Scott, who cranks the heat up to 11 when he boils water.)

Turn off heat and add sour cream, stirring to mix. Let sit until your noodles are done (You did boil water when I told you to, right?) and then add the noodles to the meat mixture and stir some more.


You can make peas as a side dish, but we love this stroganoff so much that we usually fill up on it and have no room left for vegetables.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Seven Quick Baby Takes: Adventures in L&D Triage Edition

Okay, so a (not very) brief "Why I haven't been blogging" tangent.

On Thursday, we spent about 5 hours at Mass. See, it was a Dominican simple profession Mass, because we go to a parish with Dominicans. The Schola was singing, because that's what they do. Middle Younger Brother and The Only Sister aren't officially part of the Schola this year, but they pitched in for the profession Mass. (Normally there is 1 tenor and 2 basses, so MYB was especially appreciated.)

Scott's mother had some kind of super-important errands to run, so she begged me to give MYB and TOS a ride to practice. I said I'd do it as long as they got dropped off at our apartment. (Due to the arrangement of house-apartment-church, picking them up from their house would have added 20-30 minutes to my drive.) So they were dropped off and we set out and managed to get there ALMOST on time even though I accidentally started driving to a different church at first.

So, 0.5 hours of driving, 1.5 hours of practice, 1.5 hours of Mass, a brief pit stop at the parish center for cookies and lemonade, and then 0.5 hours driving home. (We abandoned MYB and TOS at church because other family members could take them home.) Pretend that adds up to 5 hours, because it totally did.

Then I took a nap while Scott shaved his mustache and did whatever else he does--he had taken the day off because there was no good way to work around Mass. (He didn't shave his mustache off, he just trimmed it. He shaved it off one time and I told him if he did it again I'd stop kissing him until it grew back. I haven't got anything against clean-shaven, but he was mustached for the first year or so that we were married and I don't like changing my habits.)

Then we went to Liza Jane's for dinner. James (Liza's husband) was there, of course, as was Grace, who loves me better but was visiting Liza just this once. ;) We had fun and got home at the semi-reasonable hour of 10:30.

On Friday Scott went to work and came home at his usual time but then telecommuted for about 3 additional hours, because something blew up on some server somewhere. I made pizza and brought him some in the middle of that.

That night I woke up at 2 a.m. with really terrible heartburn and didn't go to sleep again until 6. (And then woke up for the day at 7:30, because my ancestors were dairy farmers. Stupid ancestors.) Tums did nothing, nor did sitting upright. So I just moped for 4 hours, basically. Tad did have a little dance party to keep me company, which was nice of him, considering that he's stealing all my stomach space.

Scott did get to sleep in until about noon, but nonetheless we were both looking forward to sleeping in on Sunday.

I woke up for a bathroom break at about 1 a.m. Sunday and Scott was still typity-typing in the living room. He said he was coming to bed soon and I said, "Hey, at least you get to sleep in tomorrow" and then shuffled back to bed.

At 4 a.m. I woke up for another bathroom break and felt weirdly uncomfortable. I will refrain from describing that any further for the sake of readers who are male and/or squeamish. I told myself that it was probably just a Pregnancy Is Weird thing and went to the bathroom, where I found quite a bit of bright red blood.

Yeah. Not within the realm of "Well, pregnancy is weird."

So I went back to the bedroom and woke Scott up and laid down and had him bring me his cell phone and very calmly called 911. As soon as I hung up I started shaking and having to try not to cry, though. I like having stuff to DO in a crisis and "lie still and don't eat or drink anything" is not really DOING much.

One ambulance ride later we were in L&D with a very nice nurse and after a while of the computer being slow or something I was finally admitted and put on the monitors and we got to hear Tad's little heart beating steadily away. That was a relief, let me tell you. Also, this kid is hilarious, because he kept hitting the monitors, which, as it turns out, make a sound like a dropped microphone when they're punched vigorously. So it'd go "thump-thump-thump-fwoosh-BANG-thump-thump-thump" and so on in that manner for half an hour.

Then the resident came in and checked me over (cervical checks are WEIRD, can I just say that?) and then went off to look at things on slides and we were left to sit there without even an angry monitored baby to keep us entertained. Fortunately we didn't have to wait long, and as it turned out I had bacterial and yeast infections. But my cervix was as it should be and I wasn't having any contractions, so yay! I got some prescriptions and orders to "rest as much as possible" and follow-up with my doctor at my next appointment. (Next Tuesday. If it had been farther away than that I think they would have made me schedule a separate follow-up.)

As it turned out, Scott's parents were with MYB at college orientation in Kentucky, so they couldn't exactly swing by and pick us up. Fortunately we managed to get ahold of EYB and he came and picked us up and didn't even keep Scott talking in the parking lot for an hour.

We ended up staying home from church because I didn't feel up to sitting through Mass. (Not to mention, I was supposed to be resting as much as possible.) Then Scott worked from home on Monday because he was feeling a little worn out from the events of the day before, plus I didn't really want to be alone. I made him carry my laundry basket and our giant bottle of detergent up and down the stairs so I could do laundry. (That was another thing on my discharge papers, no heavy lifting.) Otherwise I tried to leave him alone so he could, you know, work.

I was feeling much better by Wednesday, but I think God wanted me to keep resting for another day or two because I woke up from my nap that day with the worst sciatic nerve pain ever. Like, couldn't put weight on my left leg. It was bad.

Thursday I had therapy and needed to run an errand so I did those things (slowly and limpingly) and then came home and sobbed in frustration on account of being in so much pain. Fortunately it did ease up after a few hours of rest and a good bit of Tylenol, and I was clear-headed enough to think, "Maybe that new body pillow I just started using is throwing off my alignment."

So I reverted to my random assortment of throw pillows last night, and I have felt much better today. Therefore the poor new body pillow is on probation until further notice. And my kitchen is really messy.

I've been doing informal kick counts this week, even though I'm not really supposed to until closer to 28 weeks. Tad doesn't go for the whole "How about I eat something sugary and lie down, will you move?" thing (sometimes it works and sometimes he kicks me once, irritably, and goes back to sleep), so I try to be aware of when he moves throughout the day and note it down.

My discharge papers says that you should be able to feel 10 movements in an hour. Tad's hit that several times a day, every day, and sometimes he can get 10 movements in in as little as 5 minutes. (That was today, when I was trying to take a nap. And they weren't little movements either; he was enthusiastically moving his whole body back and forth.)

I love it, but I am also a little afraid of never sleeping again.

Teresa has taken the news of Tad being a boy much more stoically than I would have expected. I mean, she was still disappointed that Matthew was a boy and praying almost daily for this baby to be a girl, and then the ultrasound said "boy." I am told that she did some muttering during prayer time that night, but a few days later she said she was happy it was a boy, though she wouldn't be sad if it turned out to be a girl instead. (Apparently she's still holding out for "ultrasounds aren't 100% accurate".) Then when we visited about 2 weeks ago she spent the whole weekend talking to my belly and kissing it and patting it and asking questions about the baby. (She was horrified by the idea that he doesn't breathe. I had to explain how oxygen gets transported through blood and I'm not sure she really got it.) (No, I didn't go into the fact that he inhales amniotic fluid; I don't want her to be afraid that he'll drown or something.)

I now have a "Baby todolist" word document, which has made no progress because I've been busy dealing with crises. Still, I am trying to deal with my "Less than 4 months!" anxiety by overplanning, so does anybody have ideas for things I can/should do before the baby comes?

I also need to start making a list of things to discuss at my next prenatal. I hope the doctor doesn't have anyplace to be because I need to follow up to my L&D visit and discuss the glucose tolerance test (which is complicated by the fact that I'm still taking Metformin) and I kind of wanted to ask if he had any pediatrician recommendations because I like the "crunch" level at my OB's office and figured they know some nice semi-crunchy pediatricians.

All that is to say, I'm wrapping up these takes even though I can't remember everything I wanted to talk about, because I have Stuff To Do.

And here is a belly picture for your comparing pleasure. 12 and 16 weeks are here; 20 weeks is here. And this is 24 weeks:

I am not sure I really look any bigger than I did at 20 weeks, but it could just be that I keep switching outfits on y'all and therefore making comparisons difficult. I definitely look pregnant and not just fat in real life, because I've gotten three different comments about it in the past few weeks--most recently a pharmacist who told me I couldn't drink while on antibiotics, but... and trailed off. I helped him out with, "But I wouldn't be doing that anyway" and paid for my prescription.

Also, my bellybutton has been getting progressively shallower. I am observing this process with fascination and will make sure to keep you guys posted.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In which we extol the virtues of hand-me-downs

I did not mention in my last post that Scott and I went to visit my family this past weekend. As a result of said visit, we got a lot of baby loot that was left over from my younger siblings. Because it's my blog and I can, I am going to post pictures and descriptions.

First, a play mat thingy. This was one of Matthew's first Christmas presents, but he's outgrown it, naturally. Though Teresa (who is almost 7 years old, 48 inches tall, and about 65 pounds...) tried to claim it for her own as we were taking it out of the house. 

Second, assorted dangly/rattly toys. I think Tad is going to have enough toys now, at least until he develops some motor skills.

Second, a quilt with ducks on it. Teresa got this during her hospital stay before being placed in foster care (i.e. our house), so Mom says I'm never ever allowed to donate or regift it. So nobody eye it covetously. :)

Nextly, we have two Winnie-the-Pooh themed crib sheets. I think Mom and Dad got these when they were first licensed, because gender neutral. A lot of Teresa's stuff ended up being Pooh-themed as a result.

Then there's an infant insert for a car seat and an instruction manual. We'll get the actual carseat next time we go up.

(N.B. Used car seats are generally not recommended, but my conscience allows me to use a seat that is only 2 years old and was used lightly by people I know very well. I promise to actually read the manual, too.)

Lastly, we have flat cloth diapers, i.e. burp rags or whatever else I feel like using them for. Except cleaning. I have this weird idea that I don't want to rub my baby's face in a rag that might have Windex residue on it. Since my "cleaning rags" are exactly the same thing, I'm probably going to hem them or something to avoid any possible confusion. Adding a decorative hem to a cleaning rag seems kind of silly, but there are only 4 of those and about 14 of these, and I am very lazy. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Seven Weekend Baby Takes

Breaking news: My progesterone was 59 as of Thursday, which still isn't Zone 3 but given my history and so forth, Dr. M thinks it's appropriate to stop monitoring and supplementing it. I feel like there should be some exclamation points or something, but I'm a little terrified of being officially DONE. I told Dr. M it was like swimming without water wings. (He laughed.) "How will I know if it's high enough? I know, if you don't go into labor it's high enough." Him: "If you go into preterm labor you should call me." Me: "Well, I wouldn't call you first. But you probably have to put it in your database or whatever." Him: "I actually don't have a database. I probably should." Me: "It's science! Science is fun!"

Seriously, you'd think he has 7 young children or something the way he doesn't spend every waking moment obsessing about his job.

(I don't actually know how many children he has. It might be 8 or 9. I believe in having purely professional, personal-info-moves-in-one-direction relationships with my doctors--he knows how often I engage in marital relations; I don't know how many children he has. It works for me.)

Less breaking news: We had our anatomy scan a week ago Monday and I wrote a long and probably very boring post about it here. Short version: We're having what is to all appearances a perfectly healthy and robustly large BOY.

I'm very happy to be having a boy, but I would have been happy to have a girl too, and it's been a little odd taking all anticipation of girl-specific things, wrapping it up, packing it in lavender, and labeling it "Do not open until 2015." ("Unless you get pregnant by accident, in which case you can open this once you're done dying of shock.")

But mostly I'm just enjoying the prospect of using plenty of my favorite color without risking having a poor bald little girl get called a boy at every turn.

No telling yet if he's going to be blond/bald,
but both grandmas think he looks like me.

My mother offered to throw me a baby shower, which is particularly sweet since she is not at all fond of hosting parties. (My mother is what you might call a weak extrovert--she needs people, but she prefers to meet her needs by gabbing with small groups of familiar people in low-stimulation environments.)

Anyway, after the ultrasound I had enough "Hey, we might actually have a real live baby here in December" vibes to go make a baby registry. My shower guests should be happy, because I have about 5 million things that have an average price of about $20. (Except my godmother, who will complain about how I don't want nearly enough stuff and then buy me something extravagant that I never knew I needed.)

The cheapest thing on the registry is this, which is one of those things that I should totally just pick up at Wal-Mart sometime. Except first I need to use my spare pennies to buy breastfeeding supplies, because I am too prudish to put things like milk storage bags on a baby registry that will be seen by my brothers-in-law. (Okay, probably they'll let their wives/mother/sister do the shopping, but you never know.)

(I don't plan on doing a whole lot of milk storage, but it can't hurt to keep a bag or two on hand, right?)

The most expensive thing is this, because Ikea has inexpensive cribs and I'm already getting a carseat from my parents. You save $40 getting it off Amazon v. the Carter's website. I don't know if it's made of unicorn hair or what, but I think it's cute so it's on the registry anyway. It's been the thematic inspiration for a lot of the other stuff on there too.

Also, Tad got some more material possessions on Wednesday. (Up till then he had nothing but two sleepers to his name.) See, I was registering for cloth diaper stuff and everybody says you should get fleece liners to use when your baby has a rash so the cream doesn't damage the diapers. And everybody further says that specific-for-cloth-diapers fleece liners are a ripoff and you should just go to the fabric store and get your own fleece and cut it into rectangles.

So I went to JoAnn and got half a yard of ivory fleece.

It's awfully pretty for a future butt guard.

And while I was there I got a yard and a half each of a patterned fleece and a plain colored fleece, to make one of those knotted blankets. My younger siblings both have similar blankets that I made, so I figure I can continue the tradition.

I would have preferred something more pastel, but there weren't a ton of options with frogs on them. I became reconciled to this pattern when I stopped imagining a baby and started imagining a 3- or 4-year-old boy dragging the blanket everywhere. When I imagined that it seemed perfect.

(In a month or so, ask me if I've gotten started on the blanket yet. I don't want to be doing this frantically the first week of December when I'm far too huge to be crawling around on the floor with scissors.)

Conversations with my husband: Hormonal edition

Scene: I am having a weeping fit and Scott is abiding by our primary family rule, which goes: Do Not Engage The Crazy. (We're all sorts of politically correct over here.)

Him, randomly: "Do we have any ice cream?"

Me: "Nooooo."

Him: "See, that's the problem!"

Me: [laugh/crying] "This is why you need to learn how to drive."

Him: "Wait, what does learning how to drive have to do with ice cream?"

Me: "In the movies, husbands always drive to the store in the middle of the night to get ice cream for their pregnant wives."

Him: "But what about that grocery budget you like to stick to?"

Me: "They never have grocery budgets in the movies."

Him: "But we do."

Me: "Stop using logic."

I went to Star Trek: Into Darkness with Scott and EYB last week. I'm not sure why EYB invited me along, because I was very much the third wheel on their little man-date, but I enjoyed the movie.

(Scott and EYB can literally talk for HOURS without pausing for breath long enough for somebody to say, "Excuse me, but can I say goodnight and go to sleep?" On the plus side, the conversations they used to have at 1 a.m. in their parents' kitchen were the stuff of legends. I wished for a video camera many times.)

I think Tad was majorly startled by all the loud noises, though. I seriously thought I was going to have to leave...he wasn't disturbing anybody but me with his flailing, but I felt like a bad mom, terrifying my poor helpless fetus for the sake of a movie. Fortunately, Tad seemed to figure out after the first hour that the loud scary noises weren't going to do him any harm. Either that or he got tired.

A couple of weeks ago, I impulse-bought some sparkling cider at Aldi as a way of forcing myself to be optimistic about the anatomy scan. It went well, of course, so Scott and I had a celebratory dinner this past Sunday. Behold:

Cider, green beans, steak, and "skinny" mashed potatoes.

(Me: "Happy halfway through your wife being crazy and hormonal." Scott: "You mean you won't be later?")

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Seven Quick August Takes

I'm feeling very much at loose ends today because it's the first time I have gone a whole day without leaving the house since...July 22? I feel like I did something that day too, but maybe not. Before that was the car saga, and after that went like so:

Tuesday, July 23: I went to the movies with my sister-in-law, after promising her at my wedding that we'd do some girl bonding time once I got settled in. Let it never be said that I don't keep my promises. Eventually.

Wednesday, July 24: I went to the dentist.

Thursday, July 25: I got bloodwork done AND went grocery shopping AND got gas in the car.

Friday, July 26: I had a therapy appointment for the first time in almost 3 years.

Saturday, July 27: Babysitting as usual.

Sunday, July 28: Church.

Monday, July 29: Ultrasound!

Tuesday, July 30: Parish directory portraits.

Wednesday, July 31: Gas station, library.

Thursday, August 1: Groceries again.

I know some of you probably think, "So?" but I am a very sluggish little introvert and don't handle all this stimulation well. And next week I have bloodwork and therapy again and then we're heading off to my parents' place so we can go to a family reunion. (I already got permission to take the time off from my babysitting thing.)

So, yeah. I went to the dentist for the first time in two years, because I am a good mom. (At my first OB appointment they asked whether I'd been to the dentist in the last six months. Guilt, guilt, guilt.)

I liked the tech. She was expecting a little boy in 6 weeks (I suppose it's about a month now) so we talked about pregnancy and stuff. She blamed my bleedy gums on pregnancy, which was awesome. ('Cause I DO floss now, so they can't blame it on lack of flossing.)

Then the dentist came in and had to have everything explained to her twice and made disparaging comments about large families and said I have a cavity but I can just come back in six months (after the baby is born) and have it filled then. So I said okay and managed to go on my way without actually making a follow-up appointment. I'm not sure I'll go back, because I really didn't like the dentist and their exams are super expensive if you aren't using the new patient coupon.

(Conversation: "Do you want a boy or a girl?" "It doesn't matter." "Is this your first?" "Yes." "I guess for the second it matters." Then she stuck her hand in my mouth before I could talk about my husband's five brothers.)

(Maybe I'm just touchy, but if you're cleaning my teeth, your views on the perfect one-boy-one-girl family are not relevant.)

After six months of inactivity, I finally pestered my beta readers into returning the most recent draft of my novel. One of them (who had never read it before) thought it was depressing but really liked the ending and thought the overall plot had potential. The other (who had read the last draft) thought that it was awesome and structurally sound but a few things could be tweaked and there is an awful lot of tragedy but it's all part of the plot so what can you do?

When I next get time I am going to read through my own copy (which does not have distracting comments inserted) and then I'll go back and edit and see if I can't try to pull things together so that it doesn't seem like we're just grinding out one tragedy after another during a certain section of the book. It will probably go like so:

Convenient illustration from these Quick Takes.

Matthew has lately started calling Teresa "Sissy". (He calls Andrea by a passable rendition of her name; my name is still point-and-grunt.) Apparently this morning Teresa had a class at the YMCA (martial arts? I don't know) and he was wandering around the house periodically saying "Sissy?" He does not approve of her not being around to pester him.

He also holds his nose, waves his arms, and says "Stinky!" and "Ewww!" when Mom changes his diaper. Mom says she might be a little too dramatic about diaper changes.

My grocery spending for July came to $200.53. Scott reminds me that nobody cares about 53 cents and it's not like I haven't gone more than 53 cents under budget before. I have a bit of a perfectionistic thing going with my grocery budget, okay?

I think it's pretty impressive that I didn't do worse than that, though. See, back near the beginning of the month I got 6 pounds of ground beef on sale for 1.99/lb. I should have been suspicious, but I was not, and 4 days later I went to use some of the beef (and freeze the rest) and lo, it was rotten. I checked and the use-by/freeze-by date was 1 day after I bought the beef. No wonder it was on sale so cheap.

Anyway, considering I threw $12 into the dumpster, only going 53 cents over is pretty impressive, right?

(Yesterday I got beef on sale at Kroger--five pounds for $6.99! And lo, it had a use-by date of today. It's safely in the freezer.)

(Why did I just use the word "lo!" twice in one take? I don't know and I don't care. I promise I don't write like that in my novel.)

Over the course of the last month or so we somehow accumulated three sad, wrinkly apples that nobody wanted. So last week I bought some vanilla ice cream (that didn't help my budget...) and yesterday I impulsively made an apple crisp at 8 p.m. I should have saved it for today, but I was young and foolish back then and ate my whole portion--with plenty of ice cream--right before I went to bed.

Then I woke up for my usual 2 a.m. bathroom break feeling dizzy and sick. I drank some milk, because it was the first thing I thought of, even though I had this vague idea that something like juice or candy would be better if I was in fact experiencing hypoglycemia. Then again, I also had the vague thought that considering refined carbs got me into that fix in the first place, I shouldn't use refined carbs to get myself out of it.

Anyway, I felt better by the time I woke up again at 5 a.m. (And Tad obviously felt okay too, because he decided that 5 a,m. was a good time for a dance party. It's hard to sleep when you're doing that, child.) I suppose it could have been a random low-blood-pressure moment or something, but my money's on the apple crisp being to blame.

The moral of this story is not to eat giant bowls of dessert right before bed. And I'm totally failing my glucose screen, aren't I?

To end this take on a lighter note, here is a picture of some blueberry muffins that I made the other day (Reason #3 why I went overbudget: I splurged on some 1.25/pint blueberries):

Despite doing a massive grocery trip yesterday, I forgot to buy any meatless foods for today. So we're scrounging around finding things we can eat that aren't meat and sighing wistfully over leftover pork chops.

Scott worked for 11 hours today (he worked from home because he didn't have time to commute), so he was very tired by the time he got up to fix himself dinner. In the process of making a quesadilla, he accidentally spilled cheese all over the counter and was overwhelmed by the prospect of cleaning it up. I told him to just eat his quesadilla and see if maybe the cleaning fairies took care of it by the time he finished.

He thought I said "the cleaning furies" and I told him that might be a little more accurate, considering that sometimes I come back and demand recompense for my not-so-selfless-and-invisible cleaning efforts.

So, off to vengefully clean up some cheese. :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!