Four Things For Which I am Grateful

29 August 2013

Before I get all chipper, let's wallow a little, shall we? 

I'm super emotional this pregnancy. I kinda don't know myself.

Yesterday, Jacob had the day off and when we came back from swimming, he asked what was for dinner. I said I didn't know, and I wasn't hungry. He proceeded to heat up leftover pasta for himself and the little man, and when he brought the food to the table, I broke down in a puddle of tears and ran to the bedroom. 

He eventually came and sat next to me on the floor. He held me, and said he was sorry, and I mumbled something about him and Jake ganging up on me. I don't know. I've already forgotten. It was one of my more admirable moments to be sure.

Jacob is going out of town this weekend for his cousin's wedding, and I won't even be able to text him. I expect to spend all of Saturday and Sunday in a crumpled mess.

I really just need to make a shirt that says "Only Sympathy Will Be Tolerated" and wear it for the next eight weeks.

Eight weeks! 

I haven't been doing a great job counting this pregnancy, and on Tuesday I was SURE I was 33 weeks pregnant until my BabyCenter app notified me differently and clocked me at a disappointing 32.  

So I cried. 

Ok. Ok. Alright. Enough is enough. Getting off the Complain Train. Onwards to:

Four Things I'm Grateful for Today As Evidenced in the Pictures Below

My little person.

A balcony where he can pour water in and out of various containers. 

The pool guy (not shown) who enraptures him and gives me a solid ten minutes of uninterrupted coffee drinking and blogclicking every morning.

And my garden.
Now I'm off to my stay-sane activities of the day: churning six quarts of cream into butter, sewing my flat diapers into prefolds, and making date-sweetened horchata. (I know!! That sentence makes me want to be my IRL friend, too!)

Happy Thursday! 

(And go love on Jessie the Early Bird, because she's a hoot and a half and more pregnant than anyone should ever have to be.)

Five Favorites: Games

27 August 2013

Finally jumping in with Hallie again since it's been way too long. This week will feature the games beloved of my family of origin.
- 1 -

4 players (without the expansion pack)

My family first played Settlers of Catan about eight years ago when my older brother brought it home after discovering it through his first boss out of college.

I imagine most of you are familiar with it, but for those of you who aren't... It's a four player game, and if everyone knows how to play and isn't TOO argumentative you're looking at about 90 minutes of commitment. Sorry, Monopoly and Risk people, I can't play board games that last for days.

Settlers actually plays a somewhat crucial role in my love story - even though it didn't make the official one - because after we first played Settlers together Jacob considered breaking up with me. Isn't that sweet?

Playing games with my family is such a charming experience, Jacob could hardly stand it. When my family plays games we're uber competitive, conniving, begrudging, and unforgiving. And the less a game brings out those qualities in us, the less likely we are to play it.

You ready for some more of our favorite games?

- 2 -
(2 - 3 players)

This is the game we play with my Nana, my father's mother who lives next door to my parents.

My grandmother teaches little kids to play card games as soon as they are old enough to hold a bridge hand. I think she taught me how to play Cribbage at age 7. And she's still teaching me how to play Bridge.

Playing Cribbage is full of nostalgia for me and I suspect it always will be so I can't really speak to how "objectively" fun it is. It involves a fair amount of addition, so I suppose it's good for developing numerical skills. You get points for every grouping of cards that add up to a sum of 15. Jacob calls it a "math game" and hates it.

The best Cribbage hand is three 5s and a jack in your hand and then cutting the deck to expose the fourth 5.

In her 93 years, my grandmother has never gotten that hand, but she's dealt it to her opponents twice. One of those opponents was me five years ago. The memory exists in my mind in slow motion. The family was visiting me while I lived in Rome, and we were on a train to Assisi. My grandmother and I were playing a relatively lackluster game of Cribbage. I picked up my six cards and discarded two of them leaving me with the three fives and a jack. I think I showed it to my brother who was seated next to me. His eyes got huge. I cut the deck and there she was: the fourth five. My mother screamed and said it was a miracle, and the family was generally in a hooplah because we all knew that I was holding a once in a lifetime hand.

The commuters on the train thought someone had died. Jacob was completely confused and equally embarrassed at our lack of train decorum.

My grandmother just said: "Shit."

It's a really great game.

- 3 - 

4 - 15(?) players

I looked around to find the rules of this card game, but I wasn't successful. I found one game called Scum that was almost the same but not quite. I think there's a drinking game that's very similar to it, and I've run into people who have other names for it. But we call it "Scummy," and it's my family's traditional group game.

Scummy is great because the rules are simple and little people can join in alongside the big people rather seamlessly.

Scummy is also great because your decks don't have to be complete. This is probably the reason it has survived so well in my family where the only full deck of cards was hidden in my mother's sock drawer and you couldn't really even count on that.

You distribute the cards - however many you have amassed, jokers included - evenly among the players. It's probably best to have around 13 cards per person.

The objective of the game is to get rid of your cards. The lowest card is a 3 on up to K, Ace, 2, and Jokers are the highest (suits don't matter.)

The first player (in our family this is always the matriarch, so Nana usually) puts down whatever cards she wants. Mostly likely her lowest, a 3. The next player must simply put down a higher card. The next player puts down an even higher card and so on until someone either plays the highest card, a joker, or everyone passes. Then the last person to play gets to start the next round. It is crucial to start rounds because it's the only way to get rid of low cards.

The only other rule is this one and it is simple: Let's say Nana puts down a pair of 3s, then the next person must play a higher pair, say two 5s. The same thing applies to 3 of a kind. If Nana starts the play with three 7s, the next person must play three of a kind that are higher than 7, like three Jacks, and if they don't have three of a kind higher than 7, they must pass.

The rules are simple enough. Various strategies become clear after you play a few hands. The first person to get rid of her cards is called the King (90% of the time this is Nana) and the second person to go out is called the Queen. You then keep track of the order that people go out until the very last two people. Second to last is Scummy's Mate and the last person to go out is Scummy.

For the next round everyone sits according to the hierarchy. The King sits in the King's chair and starts the play, the Queen next, and on down to Scummy's Mate and Scummy who are at the end of play. But before the next round begins, Scummy must give his best two cards to the King who in turn gives him her two worst cards. Scummy's Mate must surrender his best card to the Queen who gives him her worst.

But how will Scummy and Scummy's Mate ever get a leg up in the world? And the answer is they won't. They will wallow in poverty for the rest of the night and complain loudly while the King sits and commands the play smugly and quietly from the throne. It's awesome.

Once I can remember a player rising from Scummy to King in one hand, and my family still speaks of that game as the stuff of legend.

- 4 -
Papelitos / Fishbowl

Fishbowl is a loud interactive big group game. It's basically Taboo meets Charades meets Memory. I found some rules for this game, and mostly we play according to those rules except we play our rounds differently

1. Taboo Round
2. Charades Round
3. Password
4. Noises (you make sounds/sing songs until someone guesses right)
5. Charades under a sheet (in which the actor is under a sheet while doing his Charades, this round was thought of by a drunk person and is perhaps best played by drunk people)

If you ever play this with my family you will have to get comfortable with the word "poop" because I have one brother - I won't give him away completely but he's my only other married sibling - who is apparently still 13 and thinks there's nothing funnier than getting old family friends to act out and say things like "Poop Poop Pee Pee Poopie." It's all very classy.

- 5 -

2 Players

Pairs is a speed card game also known as Super Speed and Wikihow does an admirable job with the rules.

I'm a really fast Pairs player. The only person who's beaten me in the last ten years is my little sister because she's a pretty bomb Pairs player herself. 

That said it gets a spot next to Settlers in the "And Jacob Eventually Forgave Me and We Lived Happily Ever After" pile. 

I first taught Jacob how to play Pairs while visiting him in Portland while we were still dating. He'd taken me to a charming coffee shop and we'd raided the game shelves for a deck of cards. He isn't much of a card player so I offered to teach him a couple. I can't remember the other games we played that day, but we definitely played Pairs. Jacob admitted that it was kinda fun. I agreed even though I wasn't having the best of times because in the interest of bringing along my new student, I was playing V E R Y slowly. I thought this teaching tactic was clear, but apparently it wasn't. And after a few rounds, Jacob asked: "Are you going easy on me?"

I was a little taken aback and fumbled out that he was a new player and I wanted him to get some practice in, and he interrupted--

"DON'T go easy on me." 

So I didn't. I didn't go easy on him at all, and I don't think he laid down a single card before I beat him. At which point he dropped his cards on the table and said.

"We're never playing that again."

And we haven't. 

Happy Wednesday, ladies and uncles! Go see Hallie for some more favorites.

(Also, the Amazon links up there are affiliate links. I'm determined to become a big financial player in the family four cents at a time.)

Life at Home: Skies are a Little Gray but at least She's Blogging

26 August 2013

School is starting, and I'm waking up to the fact that I'm still at home.

We are mostly settled into our new apartment. Pretty much all (??) of the little annoying administrative pieces of moving are taken care of. Vehicles are purchased and paid for and registered. We have our Texas drivers' licenses. I have an OB. Our health insurance situation, now that Jacob is self-employed, is finally sorting itself out. And my days are filled with little bits of laundry and loading and unloading the dishwasher and watching a toddler and feeling...weird about it all...and...not fulfilled.

Oh. I said it. That felt good.

I've never felt strongly about staying home with my kids nor have I felt strongly about working outside the home. Life just sorta happened. When we had Jake, I had part time work that was a perfect fit for our needs in LA. Now we're in Houston, and I'm not working. Instead, I'm waiting for the time to tick by before I move in with my folks in five weeks where I will spend three weeks playing Cribbage with my grandmother while I wait for labor to start.

This is just a season. And unlike many seasons, I can see the end and I don't have to do anything to help it approach. A baby will come and disrupt life irrevocably, and I will abandon these frustrations for completely different and more legitimate ones. I know all this, but I'm still having trouble living this season well. 

I spend my free time trying to feel productive, but instead of embarking on the dozens of little projects that have waited patiently for this exact kind of moment in my life, I bumble around on the internet trying to find the answer to my funk but I end up just feeling lost, reading blogs, playing Candy Crush.

We're in a difficult place I suppose. I'm not living in a space that I'm inspired to make beautiful because we will only be here temporarily. Jacob's work is slowly picking up, but it will be a while before we feel the financial boon of that. I'm stressed about money; I'm worried that I'm letting whatever semblance of a career I had just sort of fizzle out; I'm not sure how happy I am just staying at home with tiny people, and I feel guilty about that.

I mean. I have like the awesomest kid in the world. I have moments when I look at how beautiful his face is and I can't hardly stand that I get to be around something so beautiful all the time. I get to be around someone who when he wants to get out of his high chair and will call out: "I'm stuck! I'm stuck!" and then after we get him out, will say: "I'm fixed!"

A kid who used to eat his food and then ask me where it went. Now he's figured it out of course and says proudly: "I ate em all. They're in my belly button!!"

But then the next minute I'm completely bored at his neediness, and I'm doing everything I can to get him to play alone with his motorcycle so I can go and waste more time on the internet. I used to live for the reprieve of nap time, but now nap time is a black hole of What The H am I Doing With My Life meets Place Holds on All the Library Books.

So there you have it. I bet you never imagined how exciting it would be when I finally posted more than twice in a week. Wonder no more. 

(But please come back. I promise I won't always be like this. I really only did this so that next week when I'm out of this funk and finally succeeding in making the world's most beautiful loaf of sourdough, that I will photograph on a wooden cutting board next to some rosemary and glowing in the orange of evening, you can all marvel at my phoenix from the ashes trick.)

But until then. Until that blessed day. 

I feel ya, little bud.

7 Late Takes

24 August 2013

- 1 -
Jumping in for the quick takes today because half of my blog is quick takes and I wouldn't want to skew the average. 

Truth is, ladies (and Michael...and apparently Mac,) I need a framework because I'm hurting for material.

Good Ole Robert Frost famously said that "To learn to write is to learn to have ideas." You don't know HOW that quote plagues me. I like words a lot. I think I'm moderately good at stringing them together, but I'm pretty much chronically suffering from writer's block.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend of mine soon after she'd started her blog.  She was telling me about how before beginning her own blog, she'd only followed two blogs - neither of which, if I remember correctly, were related to mothering or her Faith - and she was thinking about how somebody needed to write a blog about raising Catholic kids and how much she'd love to write such a blog. So she did just that. Then after she started her blog, she found this big community of Catholic mom bloggers and dove right into the fray.

I was washing dishes as we chatted, and I remember staring into the sink basin and realizing something. You see, I would never have had that thought process. Every idea I have is followed by this thought: Git yourself on over to the Google and find all the other people who've already done this better than you. And Google never fails me.

I kinda already knew that about myself, but what I hadn't truly realized before that moment was that there were people who probably didn't think that. Or laughed it off. Or figured their perspective was still worth something. Or I don't know. But the important thing was, THOSE were the people doing things. My kind of people are still staring at blank screens.

INFJ, in case you wanted to know (even though I have no clue what that means and I'm afraid to find out.)

- 2 -
So I will attempt to squash all the annoying naysayers in my head and plunge forward.



See all the trouble I'm having? It's really hard to believe because I'm totally an oversharer in real life. I hoard my alone time, but when I'm with people I talk way too much and don't ask nearly enough questions. 

If you know me and disagree, I direct you to my husband. One time after I'd just finished communicating something - and taking probably five minutes too long to do so - I turned to him to get a response.

He looked at me blankly.  Then his face was guilt-ridden and he said:

"It's not that I don't care. It's just that I didn't think what were you saying was very important."



I love you too, dear.

- 3 -
Here is a photo. 


This is the stuffed animal Jake has named after my brother, his "uncle lobert".

Rob Scotts Wedding

"Uncle Lobert" is on the right. The resemblance is truly striking.

- 4 - 
The guy on the left up there is also my brother. He got married in April and I'm only now just getting to facebook to steal photos for you all.

Scott Jordan Wedding 3

Scott Jordan Wedding 4

Scott Jordan Wedding

Scott Jordan Wedding2

Was there ever a more stunning wedding?

- 5 -
This week also involved making butter because my Houston foodie endeavors have not rendered a good butter source yet, but they got me a STEAL on cream from pasture fed cows.  If you've never had butter from grass fed dairy you're missing out, friends.

 Here's the little man shakin' it real good.



- 6 -
In other food news, I have found an awesome egg source. Aren't they lovely? Some of them are blue!

Our Egg Lady lives in a very old house with her father and she positively obsesses over her chickens. She must have forty and they all have names. You get the sense she doesn't get out much, and whenever we go pick up our eggs she won't stop talking and we have to interrupt her to leave. (I'm pretty sure I'm not like that if you just glanced back up at my "oversharing" admission in number two.)

- 7 -
This week also involved NOT thinking about these things:


600 sightings have been reported across Texas in the last month. I saw four in the last week. Two in Fredericksburg and two outside Uvalde. 

They are literal bloodsuckers that come feast on you while you sleep. Nicknamed the Kissing Bug because they're drawn to the warmth and carbon dioxide of your breath. 

They often carry a parasite that can cause paralysis and death. I know. I KNOW. And we live here on purpose. 

Go enjoy some other takes now. (Just don't tell Jen about the Kissing Bugs. And if you do, at least be encouraging, and tell her that despite an attraction to domestic animals, they like dogs better than cats.) 

30 Weeks and Other Words

14 August 2013

So. As promised. I'm giving you a 30 week bump picture. I have wet hair in the picture after having washed my hair for the first time in - wait for it - 9 days.

Before you unfollow me, know that I usually wash my hair for church on Sunday - a la Ms. Martha and Jacob's Mennonite relatives - but we were running late to church on Sunday so...yeah...God got the dry shampoo treatment. (And of course by dry shampoo I mean straight cornstarch. Because I'm like that.) And I didn't get around to the epic wash till Tuesday.

The people who know me in person can now fill up the combox assuring the rest of you that despite all these habits, my hair doesn't typically look like a greasepot, my legs aren't that hairy, and I don't have body odor. Or they can lie. Or say they love me anyway.

But back to baby #2. The little girl. (Even though I dreamed two nights ago that she was a boy. I checked twice in my dream...But I don't put much store in pregnant dreams, because while pregnant with Jake I dreamed that he came out as a full grown American Indian in authentic do with that very useful piece of info what you will. Sorry for the dreamdeets, Grace.)

The story of this pregnancy has been the lameness of finding an OB here in Houston that would take both me as a late transfer and my not so popular health insurance. It's a long, drawn out story of time spent on hold with OB practices and medical records departments and ends with me deciding to skip Htown's medical mecca altogether and opting to deliver in my hometown. Basically, I'm running home to my daddy to make everything better.

Dad's a doctor in this little town of ten thousand people about four hours west of Houston, and the moral of this story is that both my dad and little towns are awesome. Not only did I spend almost zero time on hold in the process of setting this up, I ended up with personal cell phone numbers of hospital employees in case I had any more questions. 

I'll have my first appointment with my new OB - an old family friend - tomorrow, and the offspring and I will move in with my parents at the beginning of October when I'm full term and wait for the debut of our little lady in the same hospital where my parents' oldest daughter made her debut some 28 years ago. 

And because you all clicked through to see a pregnant lady here you go.


Just me and Mr. Camera Shy being all kids of genuine.


And here's me at 30 weeks with the Jakester

7QT: Keeping it Classy

09 August 2013

Because we're not ghetto at all, and you definitely want to be our friends.

- 1 -
Here's how our move went down.


LA to TX. Really and truly.


My grandmother graciously offered her garage so we could avoid the rain for the couple days that we pit-stopped at my parents' house. As we geared up to head to Houston, she watched Jacob and my brother wielding the ratchet straps and we had the following conversation.

Nana: "This reminds me of that Henry Fonda movie." 

Me: "Grapes of Wrath?"

Nana: "Yeah... But this is worse."

She then went inside and came back with some money.

- 2 -
And then my clothes started literally falling apart. The sole of my shoe fell off at the end of a night on the town with some old college buddies. For Sunday brunch at some new friends' house, after I spilled water all over myself and the couch, I managed to rip my shirt, and I mean like 5 inches of a tear not on a seam. This would of course be a bigger deal if my shoes and shirt weren't 7 and 8 years old respectively, and if 95% of my life weren't spent in a tank top and cut offs.

- 3 -
We found a syringe under the seat of our newly purchased car.


Shiver. Squirm. Dry heave.

- 4 -
Maybe just maybe. Papa Jacob took the little man on an errand sans diaper bag, and maybe that was a VERY bad idea that ended up with him rinsing out a pair of little person shorts in the bathroom, and just maybe an employee at the place of business teased Jacob about knowing what our son ate for dinner the night before.

 - 5 -
Perhaps on our first night in our cheap new apartment - as we slept on the floor with our pillows stuffed in XL t-shirts -  after long debate we did a test that involved going into the kitchen, turning on the light, and letting the number of roaches on the counter decide whether or not we'd try to find a different place.

- 6 -
And as God is my witness, I will someday acquire a piece of furniture from some place other than Craigslist...or the curb.

But until then, the house becomes a home the cheapskate way.


- 7 -
And for #7, I'll break with this lovely trend and give you an offspring update.

Little man has been doing a lot of this

and this


and not as much of this

or this


as he'd like.

He's also been insisting on a lot of selfies of us howling. 


So yeah.

I promise to follow up shortly with some info about the soon to be second born. We're approaching 30 weeks which means I can link back to one of the three preg photos I took last time around and won't that be cute?

Off to Jen's for more links.
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