Monday, February 27, 2012

Thinking about turning it into an opera - ?

Hi, Dad. Hi, Mom.

Sorry about the lapse in blogging... again. You always did have to bug me to get anything done... remember?

Anyway, Bo ran away last night. It was the third day in a row. I blame it on Brian, though it's happened under my watch in the past so maybe I should just call it even.

Last weekend we lost the remote control to his electronic collar, which allows us to give him a friendly little 'beep beep' when he gets too far and we want him to come back. So since I have no way of controlling his behavior off-leash, I take him on leashed walks around the lake. More effort for me, but that way I get exercise and he gets to pee on everything. But what Brian does is... trusts him. Takes him out off leash and expects him not to run. And most of the time this works (Bo listens to Bri much better than me) but this past weekend Bo was in a runnin' mood. Boom! gone Friday. Boom! gone Saturday. After about 45 minutes each day, I got a phone call from a neighbor who saw him barking at another neighbors dogs through the fence. Off we trot to fetch our pup.

(Incidentally, we live in a fairly forested area and think Bo just enjoys chasing squirrels while he's out. Not cars. He'll pull this little trick where he hangs around for a good ten or fifteen minutes, being a good boy, and then sneaks off in 30 seconds.)

Both times, I said: "Babe, you can't trust him to stick around without his collar." "I know.... I should kick his butt." (Brian never kicks Bo's butt. Bo has Brian wrapped securely around his paw-knuckle.)

So Sunday evening, Brian took Bo into the backyard (unfenced) to chop some wood with his new ax. As I left for the grocery store, I heard, "BO! BO!? BO, COME!" Yup. Gone again.

When I got home, he was still gone. "Did he at least have his collar on, with the tags?" Nope!

So at this point, we're the world's worst pet owners. At least he's fixed... at least he's not aggressive... at least I can find a few excuses to not make me feel so bad. 

Only, he didn't come back in a couple hours. At 10:30, it was bedtime, and he still wasn't back. "Should I drive around?" I asked Brian. "No," he replied, "he's fine." "But it's cold tonight," I said.

"Serves him right. He can sleep outside for being such a punk."

We've had this conversation once or twice before, and it's always turned out fine, so I said, "Okay, I'll trust you."

But in my head, a million thoughts crowded in: He's lying by the side of some road with a broken leg. He's been captured by animal control and they're going to euthanize him. He's lying dead by the side of the road. He's in the middle of the road about to be hit by a car. What will I put on our "Lost Dog" signs? Which picture will I use? How many will I have to print at Kinko's, and how much will it cost to get them laminated so they hold up in the rain? What will I do if he's not sitting on our porch in the morning? How will I bear the sight of his food bowls, his dog bed, his half-eaten bag of kibble, or his box of toys? What will it be like to vacuum dog hair and not see it come back? What will I do if Bo's not around to smush his wrinkly, fat face between my knees for petting, or to throw his Kong at my feet each morning? "Fill this!" What will I say to my parents? His pet-sitter? My friends? The people who love Bo? "We let him run away and he never came back"? Will my baby grow up never knowing the Bo that mama was always yelling at during the pregnancy?

I asked Brian, "Do you mind if I get up a few times in the middle of the night to check for him?" His reply was, "Yes, because I need to work tomorrow! Let him sleep outside."

It took me a long time to fall asleep. The litany of worst-case scenarios kept rolling through my mind. Brian was not worried about Bo at all - he put in his earplugs and was soon sleeping peacefully. Brian's not worried, I reminded myself. Everything always turns out fine when Brian's not worried.

When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed about Bo. I dreamed that he was sitting on the front porch the next morning with a tub of hand-picked wild raspberries as an apology to Brian. Brian ate the raspberries and forgave him.

Around 2 AM, I heard whining. I crept out of bed, gently closed the bedroom door, and checked the front porch. Empty. Had that been my dream? I walked to the back deck and there he was, sitting petulantly at the door and whimpering. I cracked it open and he shoved his way in: it's cold!

Without a word, I toweled his feet off and he shook his coat exuberantly. He smushed his face between my knees for some petting, but I was in no mood to do more than pat his head. I made sure his water bowl was full, shut the basement door so he couldn't sneak downstairs to sleep on the couch, and tiptoed back into the bedroom. I drifted off again to the sound of Bo vigorously wolfing down the bowl of kibble mixed with bacon bits that Brian had saved for him from dinner.

The next morning, I told Brian, "Bo came back." His face lit up. "He did? Did you let him in?" "Yeah, he woke me up with his whining. I hope you don't mind."

Of course he didn't.

Brian walked out of the bedroom, saw Bo lying exhausted on his bed, pointed to him and yelled, "'Pologize!" Bo was so tired he could barely stand, but he stiffly walked over to Brian and wagged his tail. Sorry.

He'll be out cold on the living room floor until about eleven or so, I would guess. Then we'll take a short leash walk around the lake. I do not need to learn this lesson again.

Bo's secure in the house. All's right with the world.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why I Don't Want to Know the Sex of the Baby

We live in an amazing age. When else has technology enabled us to buy cans of stackable potato chips, check the current weather in any part of the planet, make video rental stores a thing of the past, and magically erase heretofore impossibly removable stains from the perfectly flat, impeccably painted drywall in our effortlessly temperature-controlled homes? NEVER! I would hazard to guess that even the wise guys who threw the Tower of Babel together hadn't developed an affordable and safe method of surgically enhancing one's buttocks or purchasing fifty-pound bags of dog food (delivered free, to your door) with the click of a button.

All this to say, why wouldn't we be able to create a window into the body when one has never existed? Why wouldn't we be able to watch our fetuses (feti?) play around in their pods of amniotic fluid? Of course we can peer between its legs and figure out if it's a boy or a girl before it's even able to survive outside the womb! So why don't I - lover of Pringles, Netflix, Amazon, and - want to find out what kind of baby I'm getting?

I'll tell you. These are my reasons. Their listed order does not indicate their ranking of importance, AND I should say, this is just me. Other parents feel differently and that is TOTALLY fine.

1. People who wait until the birth to find out the sex are said to be on Team Green (vs. Team Blue for those who find out they're having a boy and Team Pink for those with girls). Anyway, I like the color green way more than blue or pink. Simple choice.

2. I find that my friends' births are more exciting for me when they don't know what they're having. How much more exciting, I've surmised, will it be for me if I'm the one having the baby? Waaaay more, dude.

3. I feel that knowing only the sex of the baby is knowing only a tiny facet of who the baby will really be, like receiving a few sentences of a love note in the mail rather than reading the entire letter at once. I think it would be tempting for me to hear the sex and then build expectations around that one aspect of my child's personality before it even had a chance to be born. When this little one kicks me at night, I smile to think that God is developing my baby continuously, at every moment; the design of its hair, cheeks, eyes, body, and soul is still in the works. While I know that a newborn baby is not a fully developed personality by any stretch of the imagination, I'd rather meet the whole package when it's ready to emerge rather than steal information ahead of time. I love the anticipation of that.

4. People say, "I could never wait; I'm too much of a planner." Well! I'm no fly-by-the-seat, wispy-brained valley girl, thank you much! To that I say, "I could never find out ahead of time. I'm even MORE of a planner and I don't want to shortsightedly purchase everything in pink or blue in case God gives us another child and it's different than the first." Believe it or not, it's possible to plan for a baby without knowing whether it's a mister or a miss!

5. I feel a bond with women throughout history who spent their pregnancies not knowing whether their babies were boys or girls. It's my way of living a tiny part of history, of understanding a piece of a world that didn't have cell phones, medical advancements, televisions, cars, or food unrecognizable in nature. Not to mention, pregnancy isn't that long. It's not a matter of years, just a few months.

6. Brian wanted to find out ahead of time, but thankfully he let me have my way. Honestly, he was part of the reason I wanted to wait, because I know he'd like to have a boy first. He says that he wouldn't be disappointed if he found out at the ultrasound that Baby Dubs was a girl, but I can imagine the difference in his demeanor if he heard "boy" instead of "girl." I can imagine bright excitement versus an accepting grin. BUT I can't imagine that happening at the birth. I imagine a big, old lit-up face at meeting our baby, boy or girl, and a happy voice announcing the news to everyone in the room. Waiting is worth that!

7. I'm planning a natural birth. I'm hoping for one, sure, but I'm also delivering where there are no drugs for the pain. So I had better be able to do it! And I'm hoping that not knowing ANYTHING about the baby will give me a little bit of an extra incentive to PUSH!

8. I like to drive other people crazy, too! When I don't know, NO one knows! Muah HA HA!

9. I'm enjoying not feeling pressured to fill a closet with gender-specific clothing. Part of me would love to buy specific things for my son or my daughter - but Lord willing, I'll have a lifetime do do that. So for now, I'm not breaking the bank buying heaps of tiny clothes that may be unbelievably cute but may also be worn once or never. (I'm breaking the bank buying other stuff, though.)

10. Finding out the sex ahead of time makes it really tempting to name the baby ahead of time, too. For some people, this may not be an issue at all, but for me: what if the baby is born and doesn't LOOK like the name I've been calling it for months? What if I paint its name on the nursery wall, but suddenly the name doesn't FIT? OR - what if the ultrasound tech was completely wrong to begin with, and suddenly I'm mourning the 'loss' of the child I thought I'd been bonding with for 20 weeks? I'm willing to let this little baby be a sort of nebulous, abstract presence in our lives until BOOM - it arrives!

11. I have NO maternal feeling, no instinct, no clue. A few old wives' tales point to girl, and a few point to boy. I could not guess one or another for the life of me. Which makes it totally more of a surprise!

12. Everyone seems to have a little more apprehension about raising one sex over another. For me, I have apprehension about raising both. Being a girlish girl myself, will I know what to do with a boy? Being a wife and a homemaker, will I set an example good enough for a girl? For me, finding out the sex ahead of time would give me extra time to worry about the future. But I know that I won't feel apprehensive when I hold my baby for the first time. I will just feel bliss, and hope, and quite possibly the determination to be the best mom I can be, whether it's to a son or a daughter.

13. When I hear others announcing that they found out at the ultrasound ("It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!"), I feel a secret thrill of happiness that even though their surprise is over, mine is still on its way. I used to think that it would be the same 'surprise' either way, and technically it is, but it feels different and more secret when you're on Team Green. Maybe it's the extra 20 weeks of waiting, or maybe it's the fact that at the birth, not only do you find out the sex of the baby, you also see its chubby cheeks, find out whether it's bald or got lots of hair, find out its weight and hear its cry for the first time, too - all at the same time. Ahhhh, I can't wait!

I'm so thankful to be able to look forward to that moment. I know there are no guarantees in life, but all signs point to Baby Dubs arriving in late May. Right now, that arrival feels like it's going to be the most amazing minute of my life. Whether it's a boy OR a girl. It's going to be a baby, and that is going to be an incredible miracle no matter how you look at it.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chicken Lemon Soup with Rice

Photo credit Cooking Light.
One of my mom's favorite books to read to us was Chicken Soup with Rice.

I can hear her voice reading the words:

"In January
it's so nice
while slipping
on the sliding ice
to sip hot chicken soup
with rice.
Sipping once
sipping twice
sipping chicken soup
with rice."

Chicken soup with rice, so the book goes on to say, is delicious any month of the year. January, March, July, October... it's a cute book. And who doesn't love Maurice Sendak? You should get it.

Not a big fan of the way noodles eventually go mushy in a bowl of soup, I always thought that chicken soup with rice was the BEST kind of chicken soup. Now, of course, I know that there are other delicious kinds of chicken soup. But chicken soup with rice is easily still one of my favorites.

But with the addition of lemon? OH, boy. That reminds me of evenings with friends at National Coney Island, eating a $1.50 bowl of lemon chicken rice soup, or of my boss at Dairy Queen bringing in a pot of his mom's chicken lemon soup. It was always amazing. (My boss's mom's was better than the restaurant's.)

I've never tried to replicate it. I suspected that it wasn't as easy as making chicken soup and then adding lemon juice. That would be... weird. Plus, the soup I remembered didn't have any of the regular 'chicken soup vegetables'. Don't ask why I didn't look up the recipe online. I guess it just escaped me.

Until I received an issue of Cooking Light magazine in the mail and saw THIS! A recipe for traditional Greek 'avgolemono' - chicken lemon soup with rice!

That week, we had a whole grilled chicken for dinner on Thursday night. There was one bone-in breast left over, as well as a bunch of bones on our plates and whatever was left on them. I pulled any extra meat off and covered the bones with about 12 cups of water. It simmered the rest of the evening and the first half of the next day. When I strained it, I tossed the bones and decided to FINALLY make this soup.

Thank the Lord, I doubled it.

Chicken Lemon Soup with Rice

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 1/2 cups Chicken Stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice (I used half wild rice and half brown)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I used bottled)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil (I didn't use either of these)

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes.
2. Add Chicken Stock; bring to a boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes. (I let it simmer for an hour, because of the heartier rice.)
3. Combine juice, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly pour egg into broth mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken to broth mixture; cook until mixture thickens and rice is done (about 3 minutes). Top with parsley and basil.

OKAY. This is my new favorite soup. 

Brian hated it.

We had it for lunch on the weekend. I was on my eighteenth half-mug-full (everyone knows that if you don't fill up a bowl, only half a mug, then the calories don't count) and I kept saying how delicious it was. "What is that?" Brian asked. When I told him the recipe, he made a face. "That sounds gross. Lemon doesn't go with chicken!" FINE with me, was my reply! More for me!

But went to the stove to get some. "If you don't like it," I told him, "dump it BACK into the pot. Don't waste it!" But he finished his bowl, and then went back for seconds! "You must like this soup," I said. "That's your second bowl!"

"Eh," he replied. "Not that much."

I flipped out. "What's wrong with you?! This soup is AMAZING! I love it! If you don't like it, stop EATING it... for crying out loud!"

"Lemon and chicken aren't supposed to go together," he said again. "Meat isn't supposed to be sour. Any time meat is sour that means it's bad. So why would you want to make it taste that way on purpose?"

"You are crazy," I declared. "First of all, you are not allowed to eat any more of this soup if you don't appreciate it. Secondly, you know this meat isn't spoiled!"

"Well," he replied lightly, "if you have to remind yourself that it's not, while you're eating it, that cuts down on the enjoyment."

"You are crazy!" I said again. "A lot of times, people pair meat with something sour. That's why marinades always have vinegar or citrus in them. It's called FLAVOR. PLUS, don't you put pickles on your hamburger?"

"That's different," he said stubbornly. "That adds a little zing."

"So does sauerkraut... mustard... horseradish... salad dressing..."

"Those are all disgusting," he said.

We haven't spoken to each other since then.
(Kidding! But... he IS crazy, right?! Or is it me?)

SO, you tell me... do you agree with me, or with the Bri? If you agree with me, make that soup!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

THE Gestational Diabetes

I don't have it.

I really, REALLY don't have it!

I had gotten myself ALL worked up. I mean, I was thinking, How could I have done this to myself? What's wrong with me? Don't I know how to eat better? Don't I KNOW that a grain-free, whole-foods diet is best? Haven't I spent months sitting up on That High Horse, being all: 'I'm going to eat strictly whole foods and an all-natural diet if I can get pregnant!'? And then I go all Kraft-mac-and-cheese and Kit-Kats because I can't stomach anything healthy and of COURSE this was going to happen and HOW could I have done this not to MY body but to my poor baby?! Who is NOW going to come out on a sugar high with Mrs. Butterworth's for blood!?

DISCLAIMER: I know that you can't 'give yourself' gestational diabetes. I know that it is perfectly manageable. I know that my baby would be fine and healthy. But who can think rationally when flaming hot Cheetos their baby's health is at stake?

Lately, I have been intensely thirsty... like drinking 2 gallons of water a day. I cannot get enough water. So last Sunday morning, after my second trip to the bathroom in an hour, Brian asked, "Have you asked one of the midwives about that? I think that's a symptom of diabetes."

Silly Brian! I replied. That's only if you're thirsty for grape juice. "No," he said. "It's when  you're 'deathly' thirsty for anything." OH.

So I asked my friend at church, who had had GD with both of her pregnancies, if I should be concerned. She grimaced and said, "Yeah, that's how I was. I HAD to have water right away, and when it hit, I couldn't get it down fast enough."

Cue panic. That's how I feel ALL THE TIME!

She asked me how far along I was. I told her, 24 weeks. I asked, "Should I request the test at my next appointment? Should I do the three-hour, just to be safe? Should I stop at the drugstore on the way home and get a blood sugar test kit?"

She advised me to definitely ask for the test at my next appointment, four days later. She very helpfully wrote down the diet she'd followed when she was diagnosed. "Don't worry about testing your blood at home, because you don't know what to look for. Just follow a good diet and get the test done as soon as you can."

This was Sunday. Right after my little cup of grape juice and my little communion wafer, I swore off white flour, sugar, and anything delicious. That evening, when I served Brian chicken and pasta with sundried tomatoes and tomato-basil cream sauce, I looked longingly at his plate while I ate a salad with hardboiled egg and cold chicken. The next few days, I drank coffee with no sugar, ate lots of eggs, measured little piles of almonds and gazed wistfully at the grapefruit in the bowl on the dining room table.

On Wednesday morning, I ate leftover chicken from the night before and I arrived a prompt half an hour early for my appointment. I drank the glucose drink.

(Incidentally, I don't know why people make it out to be so gross. After foregoing sugar for a few days, I was all yeah, baby! This stuff rocks!)

The midwife told me that I wouldn't get a phone call if my results were good. "No news is good news," she said. If - as I suspected - the news was in fact bad news, I would get a call in a few days.

When the next few days went by without a phone call, I thought I was home free.

Until Friday night, when I saw I had a voicemail. And when it began, "Hi Maegan, this is Jenny, one of the midwives at the birth center. Your glucose test results came back in and....."

My heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach. I felt the thud. Crap.

"... results came back in and they were actually on the low side. Normal can be as high as 140, but yours was at 56, which is closer to hypoglycemic. So we really want you to make sure you carry a snack with you and eat every one to two hours so that you don't get dizzy or shaky. Give us a call if you have any questions. Have a good night!"

I coughed/choked out a "HA!" I replayed the message. It was so weird to be fully expecting one thing and then to hear the opposite. I ran into the bathroom and played it for Brian in the shower. I called my mom. I called my friends. I wrote a blog post. I danced.

I spent the rest of the night dancing around the house, saying, "I don't have the DIABETES!" and "I need to eat MORE sugar!" and "The midwife says I'm TOO skinny!" and "Now I can have chili-cheese fries!"

Disclaimer: I "know" that hypoglycemia isn't good. And I "know" that my reading doesn't mean I need more SUGAR. And I DEFINITELY know what the midwife thinks about my considerable weight gain. 

But forget that! TONIGHT, we are having pasta carbonara!

P.S. That's a great recipe. But if you make it, add an extra couple eggs and a splash of cream.