Wednesday, August 20, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Aaah. Nothing like a cup-a-tea and a Vegemite toast. It's love in a brown, yeastie paste (that didn't come out right).

Today, a package arrived from Australia from my, oh so, thoughtful and kind, cousin Tim. It contained two fresh and delicious tubes of the unforgettable Australian delicacy, Vegemite.

It's the perfect comfort, breakfast, or snack. This brings to mind all that is good in the world. All is right in my world again. I really could go on and on about this topic, but I will kindly spare you the garrulity.

This Folks is What We Call Progress

This is me hanging out in my GU Think Pink shirt, taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror ( I wear this awesome shirt 85% of the time when I am at home). That is a 24 weeks pregnant belly. It's huge. I am sure I did not look this round the belly first time I was pregnant even though I weighed 20lbs more (I compared a 24 weeks picture from Alexander's pregnancy). The muscles are just not as tight.

I am pretty excited to meet little Cristiana (I was given a bassinet today. Other mommas can check it out HERE) I am not sure if I am ready for life to change all over again. I was just starting to get the groove back. But, who wants to live in a groove the rest of life. Otherwise known as a rut. No, things just would not be interesting and challenging without a little fun like raising a family. Enjoy the wealth of this belly.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Indian Cooking

In the past three weeks I have made three different Indian dishes: Chicken Korma (Left), Beef Kofta (Center), and Vegetable and Beef Samosas (Right). The end results were all tasty and well executed. I am almost done with this Indian cuisine cooking spree. After last night's samosas, I am almost sick of it. I will explain why later in the post. However, I will not be satisfied until I have made a meal using coconut milk. For some reason, coconut is one of those things that adds a delightful, delicate, comforting flavor. It's one of those things that sets off something in my brain. (Other foods that do this to me include, Bay leaves, vine ripe tomatoes, sliced, with a dash of garlic salt, soft Brie and wine. )

Growing up, it was always my mom's thing to cook international food. She made Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, French, Irish and so on. Those were some of our favorites. She always took special care to procure authentic ingredients. She did not care if it took weeks to find the ingredients, days to prepare, hours to cook. It's her thing to think big, dream the impossible dream, and go outside the box. But, we all loved Indian food. My dad had a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern students over the years and after dinner at their homes, Mom was never afraid to get their recipes.

While I was in college, my mom and I were out and about in Spokane and found a book called The Complete Indian. I instantly had to have it. It has a recipe for just about any Indian dish you can think of and details on the Art of Indian cooking. Last month, Andrew and I enjoyed a dinner out in Dallas at an Indian restaurant. I thought to myself, I like Indian cuisine so much that I need to get out my cook book and learn to make some of these dishes, so that I can pass the experience on to our kids.

The Chicken Korma took half a day to collect ingredients, prepare and cook. It was a very meditative, contemplative experience for me. A lot of Indian dishes take a long time to make. That is part of the experience. Generally speaking, it's a very spiritual culture. Always when the scent of the aromatic spices hit my nose, and I know I am going to be quietly working away in the kitchen for a while, I feel the urge to meditate, pray and contemplate the greater things in life. It's a wonderful practice. I am sure there are other long process recipes from any culture that I could do this with, but currently the recipes I have that take the longest time are those in The Complete Indian.

To contradict myself, the Beef Kofta took no time at all. It took no more time than it takes to make brown rice (40 mins). I put the rice on to cook and commenced making these spice filled meatballs. I served them with broccoli and a cilantro yogurt sauce. The yogurt sauce was the perfect compliment to these meatballs. Andrew was quite pleased. Cilantro is his favorite herb.

The Samosas took the longest time of all to prepare; including the time it took to find wonton wrappers. There was a recipe for the dough to make the pastry shell, but I was not keen on the level of difficulty and time it would take. Further, I knew that wonton wrappers could be bought in the store and were the same thing as the dough. After a couple weeks of looking, I finally asked the right person. On Sunday afternoon, I made the beef filling and the vegetable filling and then simply put them in the refrigerator. Last night, we all came home together. Andrew, for some reason, was overly excited about the samosas and wanted to help. I stuffed the little packages and Andrew tended to them as they fried in the oil. Alexander stirred his own pot of water with green food dye in it on his little kid table. It kept him busy for the time we were cooking. When we were done he had a nice pot of duplo block stew. We ate the samosas with sweet chile sauce I found in the international food aisle at the grocery. It was another Indian food success.

With all the work put into this Indian food stint and how heavy the food tends to be, I am pretty much spent. However, like I said before, I will not be satisfied until I serve up a plate of food with coconut milk. Although, I am not limited to Indian food with this ingredient.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sling: His Friend and Mine

I just wanted to share my little precious moment from Monday night. Alexander finally decided to give the sling a try since he was needing some cuddling and a pacifier. We cuddled and made dinner. It was a special moment.

This blog picture also features:
-My almost 6 months pregnant belly (Cristiana in utero).
-Eleri's awesome turquoise, handmade, sling (I love the pleats--an essential feature).
-Theotokos Icon from Poland (Feast of the Dormition of Our Lady tomorrow--one of my most favorite feasts).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Voodoo Magic? (My Acupuncture Experience)

So, I went to the acupuncturist yesterday. We talked a bit. Then after a while she started sticking the needles in me. She did not warn me, but I guess I knew because she started wiping spots with an alcohol wipe. It was odd at first, but also exciting. When she put in the last one in my foot all the points she had put in started to tingle. I smiled and said to myself, “Oh, that’s it. She hit the happy spot.” Then a warm relaxing feeling came over me. She turned on the space age, relaxation music and said I am going to let you relax for twenty minutes. So, I sat there relaxing, thinking about various things; no cumbersome thoughts came to me. It was just nice. Then she came back, we talked a little more.

Honestly, I was having an “up” day in the first place, but I don’t think it compares to now. Since the treatment, I have felt alert, relaxed and genuinely happy. I feel like I can handle life again. I really feel different. I woke up and did not have to drag myself around trying to pull it together. It’s an exciting feeling. I feel like I have regained Renee.

She said that she thought it could take three to four treatments for the full effect. I expect at some point this nice little high will wear off and I willing be begging to go back. I have an appointment for next week.

She also recommended a high quality fish oil supplement to stabilize the situation. She said that since these two babies are spaced somewhat close together that my body likely hasn’t had time to fully recover and the fats I need for my own brain function are being taken from my brain for the baby’s brain. In my own speculation, I had been sick all winter, and was still breastfeeding Alexander, and had just lost 20 lbs. So, my body may not have been ready for this challenge. It all makes more sense to me now, since this came on early in the first trimester, probably just six weeks after conception.

I will have to see where I go from here. I took cod liver oil before I was pregnant with Alexander and another fish oil during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Then I read an article saying that cod liver oil has been linked to staving off post-partum depression when taken after birth (for all my currently pregnant pals, heed this advice). So, I took my cod liver oil and never felt better during and after pregnant with Alexander. But, after becoming busy and overburdened with motherhood and working, my fish oil habit dwindled. Further, I tried taking fish oil and omega-3 supplements in the first trimester of this pregnancy, but they made the nausea worse, so I quit. The lady I saw yesterday said that I needed to take a higher quality supplement and it won’t cause me so much trouble. I have got nothing to lose but my $40.

Diagnosis: moody pregnant lady syndrome
Prescription: fish oil and needles
Prognosis: good to excellent, time will tell

On a side note, this week Fr. Timothy told us that our prayers were good, but to listen more and simply be with God. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Just thought I would share, since I seem to be able to hear the homilies again.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Baby #2 Update

So, now I know why they call this a delicate condition. I feel delicate. Wednesday night I deposited myself on the sofa with no energy to do much else. Thursday after my appointment at the doctor's office I went home and collapsed around 11:00 am and was pretty much unconscious until 4:15 pm when I woke up stumbled to the bathroom, but vomited before I got there, then had to clean it up by myself before the baby boy got home.

I went to see my midwife yesterday. My suspicians were correct; after being examined and tested, there is nothing going on that is out of the ordinary--it's all within the range of normal. But, unlike an MD she made some helpful recommendations. I almost blurted out that I have begun to distrust Western medicine completey (not totally true). At the risk of my ego, I did blurt out a couple of other things in addition to the pregnancy discomfort I have been overly emotional, crabby and depressed. Which is huge to me, because this is no time for me to fall apart when Andrew needs me to keep things together at least until he has finished the PhD comps.

After she explained some things to me, she suggested counseling. I simply said, I think I was looking for a more holistic approach. She didn't skip a beat and referred me to an accupunctist/nutritionist and we made the appointment right there.

I felt relieved. I was starting to lose it there. Usually, when I go to doctors and I have a problem, but still fall within the range of normal they say, sorry, suck it up and go home, it will pass. I want to say, hey, this isn't normal for me, I am miserable and my problem has not been addressed. So, this time I am glad she had an idea of an alternative. My insurance might cover part of it and she is not that expensive anyhow.

I was not too keen on counseling because while it might be helpful to some, she had already explained it was due to hormonal changes, and I don't know how talking about it would help hormonal changes. She said that they don't give pregnant women medications for this right away. I was not mentioning it to her because I wanted medication anyway. I just wanted her to say its a deficiency in this..., eat more this...I have long thought that a lot of these things can be helped via nutrition etc. Since, I managed to help other physical problems in my life via nutrition and exercise. I'll admit, lately my diet has been deplorable--high fat, high sugar, high carb, refined, enriched foods. And Wednesday I took a walk and barely made it through. I was having contractions and ligament pain.

I also know why they say that each pregnancy is different. I took for granted what an easy pregnancy it was last time. I think that the difference is because I am having a girl this time and different hormones go into making a girl, i.e., I think I am getting too many female hormones like estrogen, the same hormones that give a girl p.m.s. It's just a theory. I'll see what the accupuncture lady says.

That's the update...and for all my preggie pals, hang in there. I know it's not all peaches and cream.


Well, I don't know why I am so slow on the uptake. But, I found out why I can't find vegemite. The FDA banned it about two years ago. That is what my mom was told when she went to World Market to pick some up for me. It's not an official ban, but Kraft Foods Australia is not allowed to import it until they resolve issues with the FDA. And, two years later we're still waiting.

Oh, sure they'll let in toys painted with lead, but they'll ban vegemite for a little extra vitamins. Word is that they banned it for it's high folate content (that's a B vitamin). Duh, they let us administer our own over the counter vitamins don't they? Just slap a warning on the label saying to be careful and don't use more than this amount in one day. Urgh. My mom (mum for the Aussies) and dad have said they will attempt to acquire a large jar from our relatives in Australia. My parents are usually slow to accomplish such tasks, but a vegemite shortage is considered high priority. I learned that customs won't stop personally purchased vegemite, but retailers cannot import it.

Fun Vegemite Fact: In Australia, Vegemite toast and a glass of orange juice is a standard hangover cure.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vegemite on the Brain Among Other Things

Need vegemite! Crave it! Love it!...vegemite toast and tea. vegemite toast with avocado and tomato, vegemite crackers with butter, vegemite broth...vegemite.

Where can a half Aussie, half American girl find a vat-o-vegemite? I have looked, but I haven't found any reliable sources of vegemite. Why has this delicious spread never caught on in America? Why do the Australians keep it all to themselves? Need it; want it; crave it. Full of delicious B vitamin nutrients.

Other Things:

Urgh, maybe it's nothing and I am totally being a wuss and need to take some acetaminiphen, take a bath and a nap, but I have had a lot of abdominal pain lately (increasingly more frequent over the past couple of weeks). Some of this should be normal and to be expected via round ligament pain and stretching out of the abdomin. But, it seems more than normal to me. It is definitely way more than last time. I am pretty sure that normal pains of pregnancy are not suppose to have you near tears and last for hours and days, even while I sleep.

This morning, in pain, near tears and starting to panic I called my midwife. She's not in the office today, but I talked to her. I am going to see her tomorrow morning. I had a regular appointment scheduled for this coming Friday afternoon, but while near tears it didn't seem prudent to wait to call. She said to go home if I feel I need to rest and if it gets worse to go into the hospital where she would meet me.

It's all subsided now, for the time being. I am now thinking that this is more likely to be something on the extreme end of normal. Like perhaps this is round ligament pain, triggering a muscle spasm followed by a Braxton Hicks contractions, or several contractions. All normal, yet all at once painful and concerning.

There is no other reason to think anything else is wrong. The baby moves plenty; no bleeding; no other signs of distress. Last pregnancy I became concerned about a lot of back pain. I didn't call the doctor. I used a heating pad and talked to her about it at a regular visit. She said it's normal, since everything is okay with my health and the baby's health. She said to get a weight belt to support the belly and it might help the pain. I never did get the belt. By the third trimester my back had adjusted.

All to say, this has been a concern to me, but it's probably nothing to worry about.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Litany of Humility

After being able to listen (quiet, well-behaved Alexander) to Fr. Timothy's Homily yesterday, I felt the need to pray this. It was a fire and brimstone, guilt inducing Homily. Andrew hates it when he gives such Homilies, because he thinks Father gives them a little too often. But, I think he does a good job bringing the scripture to light.

Litany of Humility(for private devotion only)

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should.

- Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val

Friday, August 1, 2008

Byzantine Catholic Evangelism

I just found this website yesterday. It is also linked to a radio station in which you can listen to previous broadcasts and a beautiful CD of the church choir. The radio broadcasts I listened to explain something about Byzantine Theology and the Theosis CD will allow you to experience Byzantine Liturgy. It's great introduction to Byzantine Catholicism. It made me very happy to look at this site. The church interior is amazing. It definitely will turn your thoughts to Godliness. The picture I posted on yesterday's blog was stolen from this site. Check out the rest of the church.