Wednesday, December 28, 2011

3AM Worries

Here I am at 3:30 in the morning, can't sleep, and Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch is my friend. Some thoughts I've had lately, which I dare to share here.

It goes without saying that having a child is a highly emotional process. This re-realization has hit me squarely in the past few weeks as George's arrival is coming closer and closer. Originally my due date was set at January 25, but that date has gotten moved up and changed a few times, and Dr. B has now predicted that George could come as early as the beginning of January (my estimated date of birth is January 7). At my last appointment he expressed concern that if I had bought Fiesta Bowl tickets, I would not be allowed to go. I told him to call me crazy, but traveling to another region of the country at 37 weeks pregnant hadn't seemed fun or smart so I planned to watch the game from home. (In the words of Homer Simpson, "I'm no genius! Or are I?")

Anyway, as the time is drawing more near, my emotional instability is becoming ever-present. With the first pregnancy I was crazy with worry about the baby's health, how delivery would go, what kind of pain I would experience, and questioning my own personal fitness as a parent. These things are of less concern to me now, having gone through this process before, but I have actually experienced a whole new set of worries this time around with George...worries that I never expected, because how can one expect complexities that have never existed? To be brutally honest, I spend some of my time worrying, "What have we done? Nothing is wrong with our lives! Why are we changing things up?" I worry that Silas will feel betrayed, as though he wasn't good enough and so I needed a stab at a second child. I worry that my children will hate each other. I think, what if I don't love George as much as I love Silas? I find myself imagining 'Sophie's Choice' situations and then begin feeling conflicted and guilty. This is all crazy and yet normal, right? I wouldn't really know since I have never given birth to a second child.

Family members and close friends to which I have confided have reassured me that all will be well. Most of all, BJ has been amazingly supportive, as ever, and has listened to my fears, wiped my tears, and promised me that the second we meet this child all of this worry will fall to the wayside. He said, "Just wait until you hold him. He'll be so little. He'll have brown hair and brown eyes." BJ reminds me of why we wanted this in the first place: because we have SO loved being parents to Silas that we just wanted to double the fun and begin the experience all over again. I sound like a crybaby, as I am fully aware of our incredible good fortune that we have had not one, but two healthy pregnancies and can expectantly plan for this second child, and I'm sorry if this sounds insensitive. In the end though, it admittedly is a "bittersweet" experience, to use the words of my good friend Emily. On one hand we look to the joy of welcoming a new little boy into our home, and on the other hand I kiss my oldest little boy goodnight every night, wondering when will be the last night his face is the only little face that I kiss, and for some stinking reason I feel a sadness that our time as a family of three is coming to an end.

I am holding out good hope and anticipating that four will be wildly better than three, though. =)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Funnies

BJ and I agree that with each passing day, Silas causes us to love him more and more. I don't know how it happens or how it is possible, but this crazy little boy has me bursting at the seams with love for him, and it grows daily as he demonstrates new little pieces of his personality. Christmas this year was so great with him. He lapped up the entire season, exclaiming with enthusiasm each day about Christmas lights, ornaments, trees, elves, Santa, you name it. The last two days have seen the opening of many presents, which is also something he has grown old enough to enjoy. Our only hold-up was that he was typically so enthralled with the gift that he just opened that he wouldn't want to move on to the next one, which can cause delays in gift exchanges.

A couple of funny stories:
This morning we were at church with BJ's parents, and Silas sat in the service with us. BJ's dad is an usher at their church so frequently is out of his seat until well into the service, as he is responsible for seating others, tithe collection, etc. Silas could NOT understand why Pop kept walking by and waving but would not stop to sit with him. During the quiet prayer time, of course, Silas decided to be vocal with his confusion. He asked, "Pop? Go? [His question of "Go?" is typically accompanied by holding his hands palm upward in a questioning air, and he did so here.] Pee-pee?" And so it became apparent to those sitting around us that Silas thought perhaps Pop had left once again because he needed to go pee-pee.

In opening numerous presents over the past few days, Silas would become frustrated to rip the wrapping paper off of a toy, only to discover annoying obstacles such as shrink wrap, ties, and inhibitory boxes that prevented him from immediately playing with his new discovery. Initially I would say something like, "Hang on buddy. Dada needs to get a knife." This would be followed by BJ quickly swooping in and solving the problem with a pocket knife so that Silas could play with his new toy. By the end of the evening last night, Silas had become a pro at the present-opening scene. He would rip the wrapping paper off and then immediately look to Dada or me and expectantly ask, "Knife?" This transferred to this morning as well, and all day long Silas presented his request for the knife when trying to get into a desirable.

I know these aren't great pictures because they were taken with my phone, but they illustrate the joy of a little boy playing with his new toys. The frog is courtesy of Sommer, Pete, Ellie, and Owen, and was met with a blood-curdling shriek of delight as he ripped it out of the box and then promptly began hugging it and playing "horsey" on it. The second picture shows just how stereotypically male my little boy is, as spending time with trucks, trains, and airplanes is one of his favorite past-times.

Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Big Boy Bed

BJ and I knew that being blessed with children close together in age would necessitate changes in our home that we might not otherwise have forced, such as getting Silas out of his crib and into a 'big boy bed,' as we have called it around here. The decision that we made was to leave the nursery intact for Baby George and move Silas over into the office, which we have changed into a bedroom for a big boy. We know that we could have bought a second crib, but we decided that 19 months was big enough for a transfer to an actual twin bed. This twin bed is actually one bed in a bunk-bed set that we eventually hope to construct for the boys to share while (fingers crossed!) hopeful Baby #3 occupies the nursery someday. We prepared in every possible way for this transition... A friend of mine suggested weeks ago that I get Silas adjusted to a pillow, so I went the next day and bought a regular-sized pillow and put it in his crib so that Silas could get adjusted to the idea of staying in one place in the bed. We bought a special Elmo pillowcase to give him a sense of company ("Melmo" is his favorite), and we bought tractor and truck sheets for his new bed for him to admire. We took him into his new room for a week before we had him sleep in there, and we spent time playing in there and really building up the 'big boy room.' As it was, he was ready to move into that bed before we were really ready for it, as we were waiting for a Friday night when we both didn't have to work the next day in case it didn't go well.

Well, those fears have not come to fruition, as Silas has welcomed his new room with open arms! I am beginning to learn that I don't give my son enough credit. We had anticipated countless trips of leading him by the hand back to his room because he had come running out at inappropriate times. After all, he can easily slide out of the bed where the railing ends, and he certainly knows how to open doors now. However, nine nights into this and he hasn't come running out after us a single time. Not once! There is no fussing at bedtime or naptime. He sleeps well in the bed, mostly with his head on the pillow, and in the morning when he wakes (or after his nap is finished) he comes traipsing on out with his "ninny" (also known as his blanket) to see what's up.  (Usually in the morning, "what's up" does not include BJ, Tex, or me.)

Here's the big boy room, all completed. =) We chose an animal alphabet theme and Silas seems to like it. His temporary night light for the month of December is a Christmas tree on the dresser, which will be replaced with a lamp at some point in the new year. Hope all is well with you, friends!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


One of my dearest friends in this world is a marvelous young lady named Sommer. You can read about Sommer from past posts here and here if you're interested in her aura. =) We live a long distance from one another, but we typically communicate on a daily basis, so I feel very close to her even though our visits are not as frequent as I would like. Most recently BJ, Silas, and I visited Sommer and her family in June/July of this summer, at which point we both had one child nearly the exact same age and we were both expecting another as well. Sommer's son Owen was born in August, and he is the only baby I have knit a blanket for. (My own second son George will be the second recipient of an imperfect Jenny creation.)

Those of you who have wondered about the woes of our past month will find your answers here. Sommer's son Owen has recently been diagnosed with leukodystrophy, which we have learned is a disease that, in Sommer's words, is "devastating and life-limiting." BJ and I are obviously broken-hearted and grieving for our friends and for Owen's precious but short life here on Earth. Specifics about Owen's prognosis and symptoms are not my business to share on this blog, but for those of you who are interested in Owen and Sommer's story and their ongoing journey, Sommer has made the momentous decision to begin her own blog. She has consented that I share this blog with my friends, her only condition being that I don't criticize grammatic content. As if. =) Sommer's account of loving Owen can be found here:

In trivial news, here are a couple of things that I have made lately:

1. An alpaca basket-weave scarf for BJ. He looks so handsome that he simply needed a soft, handsome scarf to match.

2. Homemade marshmallows. I can't eat the packaged kind because it is made with light corn syrup, which frustratingly contains vanilla. We special-ordered vanilla-free corn syrup that came in the mail earlier this week though, and so now my hot chocolate has huge, gooey vanilla-free homemade marshmallows floating in it. Yum.
* Note: This is not actually a picture of a mug of hot chocolate with a thousand floating marshmallows. I may be crazy, but I'm not that far gone.

 3. A fool of myself in excitement over the success of OSU's football season this year. I can honestly say that I cared less than ever about this Bedlam game in light of the above-mentioned recent events in our lives, but I tell you, what a pick-me-up it is to win a Big 12 Championship and taste the first-time sweetness of a BCS bowl. BJ and I are pumped!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Shift In Perspective

I've never written an entry like the one that is about to unfold, but I figure what the heck? You're all my friends, and will hopefully still love me anyway if I dabble a little into religion. I'd like to say first-off that those that know me well know that I am an advocate of tolerance. Among my closest family members and friends I see proclamations of atheism, agnosticism, devout Christianity, Buddhism, questioning, and the "I don't give a rat's ass" attitude. All of these I respect in each of you. My faith has been a journey of ups and downs too, particularly within the last year and most extremely in the past month.

So here is the shift that has taken place in my perspective (which I do not proclaim to be the truth, as I am a human and have limited understanding): God has the power to intervene in whatever He wants to do in your life and in this world. However, He is not going to do it. God is not mean and He has not purposefully given you, me, or anyone else woe; He grieves with us when we grieve, and He provides comfort to us in times of sorrow and trial. He does not make a habit of providing miracles, however, and praying for them is counterproductive. I think of all of the times that I have made "prayer request" lists at Bible study meetings, presented my own requests to the Lord, or told friends that I would pray for their specific need (i.e. God please change this-and-this situation..please! please!). I think of it now as a waste of time. Whoa! This sounds extremely cynical and borne out of anger, but I promise it is not coming from an angry heart. It's not even really coming from a disappointed heart. What it's coming from is a personal epiphany that, although God loves me dearly and wants to be in communication and relation with me, He is not going to work miracles in my life, small or large, simply because I ask him to. People will make the argument to me about the such-and-such time that God cured a disease or God helped their football team win or God did a "God-thing" that only God can do. Maybe. That's a big maybe to me. What I really believe it is is a fluke of nature. Sometimes things spontaneously remit in nature, sometimes it hits some random thing and flies some random direction and perfection is created...but that doesn't mean that it's a "miracle" that God bestowed on us. Like the Robert Griffin 3 pass in the OU-Baylor game a few weeks ago that hit off a defender's hand and sailed 40 yards downfield perfectly into the arms of a waiting receiver that was NEVER the intended target but then ran on down for a beautiful and fluky touchdown, sometimes crazy stuff happens! Cool when it does! But I'm not going to spend my time praying for it because I don't think God willed it to happen.

Do I think that God is able to intervene in all things? Absolutely. I just believe He is less willing to do so than I formerly envisioned Him to be.

Do I think that prayer is thus a waste of time? Heck no! If I thought that the only benefits of prayer were for the answering of my prayer requests, what kind of follower would I be? I believe that huge benefits come from a person choosing to engage with God in communication. God can provide untold amounts of peace, comfort, wisdom, enlightenment, happiness, and self-control. Simply spending time with Him in earnest can bring these things to your life and mine through Him, and I see the benefit of asking Him to bestow those same kinds of comforts onto friends and loved ones who are grieving as well.

All of this to say, if you are my friend and you present me with prayer requests, I will tell you sincerely now that I will not pray for your situation to change because I have no faith that God is going to make that happen. I believe God is there for you though, and I will commit to praying for you that you might experience His peace and comfort as you struggle with your trial, because THAT I believe He will do. I don't know why God doesn't intervene more, but I don't believe it's because He doesn't care. And I will NEVER believe it is "His will" that something horrible has happened in your life, so you will never hear me say that, friend. God does not have a plan, in my opinion, that involves 18-year-old girls dying in car accidents, wars killing loved ones, or hideous diseases robbing us of our faculties.

Enough then. So how many of you have issues with me now? =)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas in November

For reasons that I am not free to share in this public forum, BJ and I have had a difficult, stressful, sad November. While those in our immediate family are healthy and fine (including little George), things in the world as we know it are not as they should be. Consequently, we have had bouts of tears and grief daily, and we also have the sad understanding that it is only to get worse for some time. Learning about the OSU plane crash on Friday morning was simply the straw that broke the camel's back for me. Yesterday morning we woke up needing a plan.

That's when BJ put on the new "She & Him" Christmas album and announced that the Christmas season is coming early to our family this year. Never in our eight years of marriage have BJ and I partaken in any kind of Christmas festivities before Thanksgiving, instead making ourselves wait until the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving to officially begin the greatest season of all. Right now we have a different perspective on life though, and we figure that we ought to seize the days we have and enjoy them. If that means letting ourselves look ahead to Christmas fun five days early, so be it. So yesterday we listened to Christmas music, and when the three of us went to Chick-Fil-A for dinner, I splurged and ordered a seasonal Peppermint Chocolate shake. This morning Silas and I made a trip to Target and perused every aisle of the gaudy but exciting Christmas department, although we did not make any purchases (yet!). I sang Christmas songs to him while we scooted the cart around and he happily pointed out trees, lights, and Elmo ornaments. And tonight we have plans with BJ's parents to indulge in Mexican food and then spend an evening in the Yukon park looking at their awesome light displays.

We are realistic and know that this by no means heals our heavy hearts. However, this is one coping mechanism that our little family of three has chosen to employ during a difficult time, and sometimes that's what happens in life: you can't control the things that suck, but you often have the ability to control SOMETHING. And also, since I control this blog, I am posting pictures that make me happy. You may look at them or not. =)

Take care, friends.

Silas happily sporting a foil hat.

Tex in his usual positions.

Silas and me one year ago.

 Learning about zoo animals on Friday with our friend Vicky.

Keeping warm at the zoo.

Recuperating from the zoo...

'Cooking' in the kitchen this morning while we made cereal, waffles, and coffee. =)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good Stuff

I wasn't sure what to title this post because it covers ground on a couple of topics, but because the topics are fun, there you go. Good stuff. First off, some good friends of ours had a baby last week, so we made a road trip to western Oklahoma to visit them and meet Baby Roxie. She is adorable and good times were had yesterday. Roxie's older brother Miles is a playmate of Silas', and also the same boy that I knitted the OU scarf for. We were able to get the boys together to show off their college scarves, but the picture is certainly sub-par. I had envisioned an adorable twosome with arms around each others' shoulders, grinning for the camera. What we really had were two cranky toddlers who were enthralled with their "prizes," which were little bowls of M&M's to make them sit still momentarily. Ah vell. Here are the Bedlam Boys (in case you're not from Oklahoma, the rivalry between OSU and OU is called Bedlam):

The second topic of this post is pomegranates. Oh people, let me tell you how I love fresh pomegranates in the fall. In my book, these delicious fruit seeds are rivaled in taste only by fresh pineapples. I have noticed over my adult years that when I talk about pomegranates or eat the seeds in public, people typically have no idea what they are. I thought I'd spend a short time discussing their goodness and how best to prepare the fruit. The pomegranate itself looks like this in your produce aisle:

When you cut it open, you'll find that it has lots of seeds inside that resemble red corn kernels. The seeds are the edible part of the fruit, while the skin and the coarse white bits that hold them in place are not.
Getting the seeds out can be a laborious and quite messy process, but BJ and I have found a method that cuts down on both of these problems. Start by quartering the pomegranate, and be careful when doing so because the red juices really will spill onto the cutting board. Wear a crappy shirt or an apron just in case.

After you've cut into it, work with one quarter at a time. I put a mixing bowl in the sink and fill it with cold water. Then, take a wedge of the fruit, hold it in your hands underwater in the bowl and begin digging the seeds out. Some of the seeds will want to cling to the white part, but most will fall straight to the bottom of the mixing bowl while the whites pieces that you don't want will float to the top. Separating it can take a little bit of time but it is worth it! Once you have all the seeds out, just start skimming the floating white bits out of the water and into the sink to discard. Dump the seeds and water into a strainer to lose the water, and pick through the seeds to get out any major bits of white stuff that you missed. Then, grab a spoon and dig in!

This weekend we have been so busy with cleaning out the office, which is officially an empty room now! It won't be long and it will be Silas' big boy room. We also watched good college football, made and enjoyed a delicious eggnog recipe by Alton Brown, and sold a bunch of things on craigslist and Ebay. I am feeling pretty good about us right now!

Monday, November 7, 2011


For those of you who are not local friends, you may or may not have heard that Oklahoma has had a series of earthquakes the past couple of days. The epicenter for these earthquakes was a little town named Sparks, Oklahoma, which (according to Google Maps) is 56 miles from where we live. I would certainly not describe our experience as dramatic, but it is fair to say that we were shaken up (pun fully intended)!

On Friday night BJ and I both came down with the dreaded GI bug that seems to be getting passed around telepathically around here. Silas contracted it more than a week ago, but BJ and I had remained unscathed so we had hoped that it would pass us by. Not to be, however. Eight days later we were both sick with it, but at least it wasn't long-lasting or ridiculously hideous, as some GI bugs tend to be. On Friday night BJ and I slept in separate rooms (because of the illness), and at 2:13AM I woke up to experience the first earthquake but BJ did not. This one registered as a 4.7 on the Richter Scale and succeeded to shake our walls and rattle all of our doors. Tex and I both flew up to sitting positions, but once it was done ten seconds later I was too weak to investigate and thus went back to sleep. BJ and I met in the kitchen at 5AM that morning and looked on the internet to confirm that it was an earthquake, but he had not felt it.

Saturday was our recovery day, and we spent the entirety of it team-working with Silas, eating chicken noodle soup, and lying in the living room watching endless football. Seriously, College Game Day was on in the morning and football did not go off until the conclusion of the OSU game at 10:45 that night. (As a brief aside, the Cowboys pulled off an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. The urgency of the game zapped nearly every ounce of strength I thought I had until...)


At 10:53PM, BJ and I both (still sitting on the couch of course) felt the first shakings and heard those first rumblings, and we both just looked at each other. My thought process to him, Marshall- and Lily-style, was "See? This is what it was like last night." We both seemed to think it was cool. For a few seconds. And then it didn't stop. In fact, not only did the shaking not stop, it began intensifying and getting louder. Light fixtures were swinging and the ground was most definitely shaking beneath our feet. It's safe to say that we were both scared at this point and I shouted, "Silas!" as the responsible mother I try to be. 28 weeks pregnant, I'm pretty sure I leapt over the arm of the couch (an unwise move, as it would prove to be once adrenaline had worn off) and ran across the house followed by a frantic Tex back to Silas' room. The earthquake was most intense at this point and I remember feeling the ground shaking under me as I ran, and once I threw open Silas' door, well, he was sleeping peacefully in his crib. There was actually a smile on his cute little face. I stood over him for a few seconds ready to grab him, but the earthquake started dying down. Since it was far less intense, I jogged back into the living room where BJ was and we both stood there, and I stupidly said, "It's still shaking!" And then it stopped.

And that is our earthquake experience, friends. Quite likely the largest earthquake our family will ever experience, as it was the largest in Oklahoma history: 5.6 on the Richter Scale. No damage, no injuries (minus my ridiculous pregnant-woman soreness within three minutes of the earthquake's conclusion). Just a scare and some phone calls to family members while we continued to watch our light fixtures swinging about for minutes after it all ended.

This photo sums it all up nicely. Enjoy your day, friends!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The OSU Scarf

I have finished my latest knitting projects, which were collegiate ribbed scarves for Silas and his friend Miles. In a previous post I mentioned that Silas' scarf would be, of course, in OSU's majestic orange and black, while Miles' is in the rival colors of OU, maroon and white. (OU faithful refer to these colors as "crimson and cream," but really it is maroon and white. I suppose I could also begin calling OSU's colors "ebony and mango," but nah.) One more collegiate scarf, in OU colors, has been requested for another of Silas' friends, and I will be sure to post a pic of that gorgeous little girl when she has her warm OU scarf around her neck in the next month. I'm now working on a navy alpaca basket-weave scarf for BJ. Needles are happily clicking!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Game Day Chili

Our first foray into chili experimenting has come! As a Christmas gift last year I received a one-year subscription to Better Homes & Gardens, a magazine which I have quite come to enjoy. I think this means I'm old. Nonetheless, with each issue I receive I find at least a couple of recipes that I would like to try, and in a recent issue there was this recipe for Game Day Chili. I was intrigued by the ingredients of this recipe, which included dried plums, paprika, cloves, and my all-time favorite food...chocolate. (If you're looking at this recipe online, I think you need to also look up the recipe for chili seasoning puree, because that is a mixture of ingredients that you are required to make as part of this recipe). Overall, the recipe was not difficult to put together and then it went into the slow-cooker for several hours, which left me lots of time to play with my boys and watch some good old college football.

Overall, this chili recipe was agreed to be just alright. It was honestly a little bit too sweet, and the sweetness was slightly strange. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy sweetness in a chili, but this recipe just seemed like a little bit of overkill. BJ especially does not like sweetness in a chili recipe, so he was not impressed with this one. One thing to keep in mind is that some chili becomes better as it stands. BJ and I have a tradition of always eating chili dogs with our leftover chili the next day for lunch, which is usually during a nice NFL game on Sunday. We both strongly believed that Game Day Chili was better the next day on top of hot dogs than it was the night before. It really did improve with some standing and chilling.

Grades for Game Day Chili
Jenny: B

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meeting AB

I have referred in a previous post to our family's favorite TV chef, Alton Brown. Alton has a show on Food Network called Good Eats, which we have been watching as a couple for years. BJ is undoubtedly the bigger Alton fan of the two of us, but my allegiance to Alton runs deep because he uses the concepts of science and applies them to delicious cooking; thus, in my mind, he is solely responsible for my husband's transition from Hamburger Helper to real cooking. With the help of Alton, we are now a solid team in the kitchen, and some of our favorite Alton classics include soft pretzels, cheese soup, seedy crisps, cheesy poof, homemade brownies, and knock-your-socks-off apple pie, which BJ bakes nearly every Thanksgiving.

Yesterday we had a very cool opportunity to meet Alton Brown at a book signing in Oklahoma City! It was his first trip to Oklahoma and we had it on our calendar from the first announcement of it. BJ in particular was quite excited to meet his favorite chef and tell him thanks for everything. I seconded with a hearty thank-you of my own. Overall a neat experience and a minute or so to make pleasantries with a man who has definitely had culinary pull in our house for about the past six years.

On other fronts, this has been an exceptionally busy fall for us. There has definitely been a lot of play time, but we've also been putting quite a bit of effort into transforming our home so that it is ready for a second child. Our office had essentially become our "junk room," as my friend Jamie coined for me the other day, and it was truly an apt description. We've spent parts of the last few weekends working hard to disseminate office contents to other places in the house, trash, or a donation pile. Each room in the house has been gone through to create more space, and part of our process has been realizing that we could use our space much more effectively than we have been. We have nearly emptied the office and then will turn that into Silas' big boy bedroom, so that George can have the nursery that Silas currently occupies. All good things.

We've also been to a pumpkin patch, watched Oklahoma State have an awesome football season and rise to #3 in the BCS rankings, baked a number of fall specialties (including pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, chocolate-covered peanut clusters, bourbon cranberry compote, and pumpkin mac-n-cheese), and read tons of books. Silas' favorite activity seems to be reading books, and I'm not kidding when I say that sometimes BJ and I read 75 times a day to this child. He has a rotation of 10-15 books that he just can't seem to get enough of, and it has been a joy to watch his love for books being born. I have absolutely no idea what is normal for a 17-month-old in terms of vocabulary, but he is also talking up a storm now, typically just one to two words at a time. His communication is effective though, which is good for all of us, and BJ and I have counted in the ballpark of 80 words that he has down pat. Fun times!

I finished his OSU scarf and will post a picture of him wearing that shortly as well. =)  Here are a couple of pics from the pumpkin patch. Hope you are doing well, friends!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Quest for Chili

BJ and I have established a delicious goal for the fall of finding the perfect chili recipe. During the fall and winter months he and I have enjoyed chili and various soups every since we were first married and surviving those Minnesota winters. Traditionally we have used a box chili, but this fall I had an itch for more; BJ, who loves to cook just about as much as I do, was totally game when I suggested stepping outside of our box o'chili and expanding our horizons to chili recipes that are perhaps spicier, meatier, sweeter, bean-y-er, and/or all around better. I figured I may as well incorporate our quest into the blogging effort. Friends, we are welcoming recipes! If you have a chili that is tried-and-true or perhaps a chili recipe that looks good but you've just not found the time to try, send it on to us and we will give it a look and perhaps a taste. The exception here is white chicken chili recipes, which I will not accept. Let's get real people; white chicken chili is really soup, not chili. The chili must be red!

We decided to start our quest with a baseline, for which we chose our traditional box o'chili. For years we have used Carroll Shelby's Original Texas Brand Chili Kit.

The meat that I use is either lean ground beef or ground turkey, but for our baseline grading we used ground beef. I also added onion that I cooked with the beef, a can of tomato sauce, water, and two cans of beans. For this tasting I used a can of red kidney beans and a can of pinto beans, because how can you go wrong with pinto beans?

As an aside, I know that I took a picture of a finished bowl of our chili kit chili, but I sure can't seem to find it. Sorry.

The verdict: The chili isn't bad, that's for sure! We've chosen this as our easy, go-to chili for years, and with good reason. You can make it as spicy as you'd like because you add your own desired amount of cayenne. With our additions of onion, beans, fritos, sour cream, and cheese, it's not a bad place to start. I think it can get better though.

Jenny's grade: B
BJ's grade: B

Send us recipes!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Graham Crackers! Airplanes! What a Duo!

Some people that I know are really into the organic food movement that seems to be sweeping parts of the country. Honestly, I'm really not, but I understand and appreciate the value of wholesome ingredients in the foods that we eat. At the risk of offending people on either end of the spectrum, I simply have to say that we squeeze in what fits into our lifestyle, attempting to make it as healthy as possible without completely breaking our budget. Silas eats processed foods like Cheerios, but he does not eat chicken nuggets and french fries every day (especially not in the place of his vegetables!). When my friend Stacy from Minnesota blogged about some graham crackers that she makes for her kids from a site called, I checked it out and decided I had to give it a go!

Here is the recipe for these graham crackers. Silas eats lots of graham crackers, and since the recipe promised that they were easy I thought, "Why not?" one day during his nap time. We were not disappointed! It all blends together quickly and easily in the food processor, and then you roll out the dough and cut it into shapes of your choice. As you might recall from the last post, Silas has a bit of an appreciation for airplanes right now, so ours are airplane-shaped, courtesy of a $1 cookie cutter found in a toy store. They are delicious, as are most foods that contain honey and cinnamon, and I know what ingredients are going into them. One adjustment I have made is increasing the amount of whole wheat flour from 1 cup to 1-1/2 cups, and accordingly cutting down the all-purpose flour from 1-1/2 cups to 1 cup. Don't doesn't make them too dry! Would this face lie? He only has one in each hand.  =)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Portland: Belated Part Two

Well, we made it back from Portland a week ago and have had a busy week in the meantime. A recap of random bits from parte dos of our trip:

  • BJ had to work less in the second half of the week, and Silas and I were happy to see him a little more. We tried a couple of new delicious restaurants and also a tried-and-true favorite of BJ's from last time, Deschutes Brewery. None of the food in Portland was disappointing.
  • Silas and I (through no fault of Silas') ventured into the nearby Ben & Jerry's far too many times, but it was necessary for George and me to get our fill of "Coconut Seven-Layer Bar" before it was no longer available to us on a daily basis. (Have I mentioned that we are naming the baby George? Well, George it is!) I also could not resist a taste of their new flavor, Schweddy Balls. The teenagers who were operating the store seemed to be under the illusion that the "Schweddy Balls" skit from SNL was "all the way back in the 80's." Part of me was just realizing I am old, but part of me was protesting, "It was Alec Baldwin and Molly Shannon! It wasn't that long ago!"
  • Silas and I also continued our sweep of the sugary goods offered by the city by visiting the renowned Voodoo Doughnuts for breakfast one day. Voodoo was highlighted on the Portland episode of "Man v. Food," and it did not disappoint.   
Fortunately Silas was more interested in this guy than in partaking in my Raspberry Romeo doughnut.
  • Silas and I also hit up the downtown branch of the Portland library system and joined some local toddlers in weekly storytime activities on Thursday. It was pretty fun and kept Silas entertained for 40 minutes, which was beyond my expectations for his attention span!
  • Perhaps it is a testament to the fact that I am now an old woman, but one evening in the hotel I had to get out of bed and knock on the door of our neighbors' room and ask them to please keep it down. For the second time on the trip I found myself in deliberation: on one hand I realized I am just plain old now, but on the other I'm protesting, "It was 11:30 at night and those frat boys would NOT stop roaring with laughter every 20 seconds!" Even Silas, my champion sleeper, was not handling it well!
  • Have I mentioned that Silas is fairly obsessed with airplanes? Well, he is. You can imagine his excitement every time we take him to the airport to see airplanes (which he calls "mare-mays") and then, gasp, BOARD an airplane and go into the sky! It's just all too much for him to take sometimes, and he spends the majority of our layovers looking through the floor-to-ceiling windows at the mare-mays parked at their respective gates, screaming in excitement "Mare-may!" for all passersby to hear. So our travel day back was pretty kickin'. Speaking of kickin', OSU also kicked Texas A&M that day in College Station, so a grand day was had by all of us.
BJ and I have somehow not readjusted to Central time yet, which is pretty unfortunate for our day-time energy levels. For example, last night we stayed up until 2AM, which is absurd and hasn't been done since Silas was born. Exactly what we are thinking, I truly have no idea. Fortunately, we own a son who is chillax and slept until 9:40 himself this morning, meaning of course that BJ and I also slept until 9:40.

Last update is that all those naps that Silas took in our Portland hotel resulted in my finishing Baby Owen's blanket! It turns out that nap-time is a wonderful thing when you get to use it for something fun and not things like housework and dinner preparation. Who knew? Of course, I made the bonehead move of quickly mailing the blanket off before taking pictures of it, but Sommer has graciously texted me a few pics of her kids enjoying my quite imperfect creation. Owen would make any blanket look good though!

I am currently well on my way to creating a collegiate-style ribbed scarf for Silas, in orange and black for OSU of course. His friend Miles will soon be sporting his own too, though in OU's maroon and white colors. I will post a picture of the boys in their rival scarves upon completion! Hope everyone is doing well!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Portland: Part One

This week we are in Portland, Oregon. I haven't been to Oregon since our honeymoon eight years ago, and it is nice to become better acquainted with the city this time around. We did so much traveling around the state during our honeymoon, from Portland down to Crater Lake and back up the coast, that we only spent about two days in the city itself and I never really got a feel for it. When BJ told us earlier in 2011 that he needed to attend a week-long conference in Portland and asked if Silas and I wanted to join him, I didn't have to think for two seconds before exclaiming an affirmative.

Portland has been fun with Silas. Fortunately, BJ had no obligations on Sunday, which was the day after we flew in. We hit Powell's Books, which is a must for any trip to Portland, and we honestly could have spent quite a bit more time in there than we did. Our 16-month-old had had enough though, and who could blame him? He scored lots of stellar reading material from the children's section as a thank-you for his patience. We also hit the International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Children's Museum, and the most kid-friendly microbrewery you can possibly imagine (seriously: an area to play with your kids, a delicious and organic kids' menu that any parent would be nuts about, and practically instantaneous service).  Since BJ has been working longer hours the first few days of this work week, Silas and I have gone quite a bit of it alone, but it hasn't been dull. Even just putting him in the stroller and walking around downtown (where our hotel is) is constant stimulation for him, and every 20.3 seconds he points and excitedly proclaims the presence of all kinds of hubbub: metro trams, buses, dogs, airplanes, babies, you name it.

Here are some pictures of my child enjoying Portland. Feel free to pass them up if you are nowhere near as enchanted with my child as I obviously am.

 The Race for the Cure was passing directly by our hotel, so we joined in for the fun for a few blocks!
Silas is pulling rose petals from the water fountain at the International Rose Test Garden. From the look on his pleased face you would never know that it was pouring down rain.
 At the 'water works' exhibit of the Portland Children's Museum.

 Driving his very own ambulance at the Children's Museum! Vroom-vroom!
 On the way to breakfast with daddy and mama on the transit system.
 Busting out of his hiding place in the hotel closet when he knows he is caught.
The Waterfront Park along the river had two equally compelling components for Silas: a water fountain and a flock of pigeons. 
He should be napping here, but what a fun game to stand up in the crib and make faces at mommy instead of sleeping!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Knitting Frenzy

What feels like many years ago, I promised my friend Sommer that I would knit her baby-boy-to-come the first-ever baby blanket that I would make. I couldn't promise perfection, which I'm sure she was not expecting, but I did promise the blanket. And then I began knitting said blanket.

Months have passed. I feel like a terrible friend. Owen was born at the end of August, and while I know this blanket would really be too heavy for the summertime (even in Massachusetts), I would have loved for that blanket to be there waiting for his return from the hospital. Alas, it was not to happen. The pattern that I am using for this blanket comes from my father-in-law's cousin, the fabulous and wonderful Jeannie. Although I have only met Jeannie twice, she has been more instrumental in my life than she likely realizes. A couple of weeks after Silas was born, she mailed a package to our home containing a blanket that she knitted for him. This blanket, in conjunction with Facebook status updates from a close friend's sister about how cozy and awesome knitting is, spurred me to learn the trade, which is exactly what began last Christmas when I asked for knitting supplies as gifts. So thanks to Jeannie and Jill, for introducing me to knitting. But that is an aside. So, Silas has this very cool blanket knitted by Jeannie, and after learning the basics and knitting SEVERAL projects in 2011, I finally decided I was ready for my first baby blanket, and Sommer was my target recipient. Naturally, I wanted to knit the same blanket I had come to love in our home, knitted by Jeannie. I asked her for the pattern, bought the yarn, and quickly began struggling. My floundering continued, and thus my motivation waned, for several months until I got to see Jeannie in person in Indiana a couple of weeks ago, incidentally on the very day that baby Owen was born. Jeannie quickly set me straight on what I had been doing wrong, and just seeing her again and scheming with a fellow knitter (of whom I seem to know very few) was so rejuvenating for me that I haven't stopped working on this blanket since! I am now well into the fifth ball of yarn, and the blanket will only take just short of six balls. (Skeins I should say. Sorry. It looks like a ball to me.)

So hang in there, baby Owen! It's coming! My goal for completion is October 1, and I don't think that is unrealistic at this point. I haven't blogged about knitting in forever, so probably some of my friends didn't realize that I was still going strong. Never fear, readers, needles are still clicking. =)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Right Words

"And all the stars were crashing 'round
As I laid eyes on what I'd found."

BJ and I were listening to one of our favorite albums, "The Crane Wife" by the Decemberists. If you've never listened, you simply should. What a fantastic piece of work. Two of the songs chronicle the old tale of the Crane Wife, in which a poor man finds a crane with an arrow in its wing and nurses it back to health. In her gratitude, the crane then takes on a human form and repays the man, unbeknown to him until much later. The above quote is from the first song of the tale, and it is simply the closest I have ever come to putting into words my love for my son since the beginning of his life. Of course words can be so inadequate, but this line from the Decemberists reverberates through me every time I hear it; it causes me to think of Silas, the little miracle that I "found," that somehow landed in my lap and changed every landscape of my life.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

*To the tune of the song sung by the Whos in Whoville on Christmas morning*

"Fahoo fores dahoo dores
Welcome football, football day!"

I'm not sure how things could get any better. I know a 16-month-old cutie who is running around our house in an OSU football jersey and carrying a football. College football season is ushered in officially this weekend, GameDay is on in our living room, the sound of marching bands and roaring crowds comes from my television...ah! And to somehow make things even better, meteorologist Rick Mitchell has boldly announced that Oklahoma City has seen its last 100 degree day of 2011. We've only had 59 of them this year, for crying out loud! Tonight a cold front is whipping across the state and tomorrow's high is 7-9. 79! What is this? Oklahoma plus seventy-degree weather equals, in the words of our fabulous Aunt Amy, "no matchy." The cool temperatures are expected to stay awhile, and somehow Tuesday's low is predicted to be 50! That's 50 whole degrees colder than it is right this minute.

To further improve the situation, we are gathering with BJ's family tonight to celebrate with a fantasy football draft while listening to the Oklahoma State game on the radio, and I have prepared an appropriate fall dessert of apple crisp for the occasion. I am hoping to hear many cries of "Goodnight Vienna!" from my favorite announcers.

Giddy giddy giddy. Thank you, dear Lord. And Go Pokes!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


We were in need of a good weekend around here. The weekend before last was abysmal, as my poor mom was in a decently-awful car accident, caused by an uninjured idiot of course. The weekend was filled with long mornings, afternoons, and evenings in the hospital, long waits in surgery waiting rooms, and watching our beloved mom suffer from breaks in her elbow and arm. By the start of the weekend, let alone the end of it, we were all emotional and tired. (Mom is doing okay now but has a long recovery road ahead of her! She is such a trooper!) This last weekend, we needed some good things to happen around here, and they sure did!

The weekend began for me on Wednesday afternoon, when I got off work quite early and joined Silas over at Grammy's house. The boys (BJ and his dad Terry) soon joined us and we ate pizza at BJ's favorite pizzeria. And that was just the start!  The next day, Thursday, was like Christmas to me because we had our all-important ultrasound to determine the health and sex of the baby. My friend Linzy calls this ultrasound the "big," but she is evidently hipper and more into the lingo than I am, since she schooled me on that term. Our "big" revealed an extremely healthy-looking boy, in case you have been living under a rock and haven't heard my world-wide proclamations of joy! This was particularly exciting news to me since I was very much hoping for another little boy. More on that later.

Thursday night we arrived late into Indianapolis (by plane, of course, because we are not the kind of masochistic crazies that would wish ourselves a cross-country car ride with a 16-month-old). BJ's parents accompanied us on this trip since it was to visit Terry's family in Indiana, and we always have a fun time meeting up with our kin-folk up that way. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins abounded, and we spent three great days catching up with all of them and enjoying some amazing outdoor time. Highs were in the low-80's, which was a good 25 degrees lower than what we have become used to, and we could hardly believe the crispness of the weather as we spent hours upon hours outside.  We could hardly bring Silas in because all he wanted to do was play in the yard with the dogs and Aunt Jeanete's toys! I even enjoyed a nice 15-minute jog without getting hot. It was simply fantastic.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, but as I drove to work this morning, sans Silas for the first time in nearly a week, I spent the drive reflecting moments from the great weekend and remembering that this coming weekend is also going to be a long one. For a family-girl like me, there will be nothing I will enjoy more than four whole days with my boys. All of them. =)  Below are some pictures from the first night only of our journey. I guess I didn't take any more pictures with my camera after that.  Oops.

Our hotel the first night we arrived, at 1AM. Silas had caught his second wind and didn't go down until 2:00. Ugh.

Silas enjoyed both of the plane rides and was particularly excited to sit with Pop.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

On The Road Again

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I was really forcing myself to jog after Silas was born in order to lose the baby weight and stay in shape. I participated in the Edmond Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day and then in the Memorial Marathon Relay in May, in which I ran nearly all of a 10K leg. Nearly. Well, the pregnancy with Baby Oot began immediately after that 10K, and once I was five weeks pregnant I was no longer able to jog because of the nausea and excessive heat in the state of Oklahoma. (At least we kept taking long walks every evening to stay in semi-shape.) Now, fortunately, both of those are quite diminished! The nausea seemed to go away almost overnight with the arrival of the blessed Week 15 two weeks ago, and the heat has also died down a bit, with highs now just in the upper 90's instead of the upper-Hells. So Thursday night I hopped back on the jogging train and went only eight minutes before I made myself stop, so as not to overdo it. Then last night I ran ten minutes before I made myself stop. It's so encouraging that my body keeps feeling as though it can go, but I want to ease back into this.

Disclaimer: If any of you out there is paranoid and thinks I shouldn't be jogging since I didn't for several weeks, fear not. Jogging has been Dr. B approved, provided that I jog only at night until it cools off and that I take Tex with me for protection from evil-doers. If it sounds like Dr. B is a father of five children, it's because he is. End of Disclaimer.

Jogging with a pregnant belly is pretty weird, I will definitely say that. I have never jogged this big before, and it is a new experience. You know how your legs start burning when you jog? Well, when you are a large-bellied pregnant woman such as myself, you feel that exact same burning in the muscles of your very large stomach. I'm sure you wanted to know that, so you're welcome.

I'll keep you updated on my progress! And as of this time, the next formal jogging goal is, once again, the Memorial Marathon Relay in late April of next year, which is exactly what I need to get those baby pounds off once Oot is born in January. Fellow teammates so far are BJ, my mom, and Amber. That's right, Amber. You. Shazam.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"He Keeps on Growing, (Slipping Through My Fingers All the Time)"

Silas has been such an interesting little guy lately, taking the world in and learning new things every day. He is now stringing two words together at times (such as when I say to Tex, "Get back!" and Silas repeats "Get back!"), identifies loved ones in photos, points excitedly at "Tees!" (trees) and "Burbies!" (birdies) while on our nightly wagon rides, and points to his nose when asked. Today when we were watching the conclusion of the PGA championship, he clapped when everyone else on TV applauded Keegan Bradley as he accepted his trophy.

This afternoon, however, Silas was not to be amused. I thought maybe it was because he was short on sleep, having missed his morning nap and then snoozing for only an hour and a half this afternoon. But the wailing ensued all afternoon, despite sippy cups, snacks, cuddles, and playtime. Finally I said to BJ, "I think he's cutting another tooth." To which BJ replied, "He is not. He's just tired." I wrestled my boy down on the couch and pried open his mouth, which only made the wailing more deafening, but led to the surprise of Silas' second canine tooth poking through the gums. His 14th tooth making an appearance! The funny part about the whole sad affair that had us laughing and laughing was, as I stood Silas back up and gave him a hug, I gloated to BJ, "See? Mama always knows." And Silas, through his tears and misery, heard the word "knows" and pointed to his nose mid-wail. Now if that's not a little ham, I just don't know what is.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our Very Own Library

No doubt my favorite two grown men in this world are my (awesome) husband and my (awesome) Dad, whom I still call Daddy even though I am 30. Those two have always both taken excellent care of me, and as the years pass I love them both even more all the time. So can you just imagine what these two guys can come up with when they put their heads together and get cracking? Well, I can give you a hint, and it ain't no small thang. When this mama said that we need to give up our office to make a bedroom for Silas since his nursery is about to become someone else's nursery, and when it became evident that the only place to move our office is into our bedroom, and when I said there is no way that our four bookshelves are all going into our bedroom because that is neither romantic nor relaxing, these two guys thought, "Let's build her a library with a built-in style!" And that is exactly what they did over the past week. All I had to do was sit, direct, and draw up some plans of what I wanted, and now I have this absolutely charming feature inside of our enormous bedroom.

When I save up the money, there will of course be a ladder to accompany this veritable monster of a bookcase! As I heard jokingly muttered in my direction numerous times as labor was ensuing last week, "Could you have designed a bookcase that is any bigger than this?" Clearly there is no need for other bookshelves at this time! Our nicest bookcase will now belong in Silas' room for his own books, of which he has many, and the others are being given away or sold. Gone will be the easy-chair in our room, replaced with a small, contemporary desk for the computer. And as for Silas' new room! Well, that will be the fun part. At the end of August we will find out if Oot is a boy or a girl, and then we will know how to decorate Silas' room. It's important for us to find out the sex of this baby because, if all goes as planned, Silas and Oot will be sharing that room someday while Oot3 is in the nursery. If Oot is a boy then we are free to go with any boy theme, such as sports and robots. However, if Oot is a girl, then we will do a gender-neutral theme such as a castle, where one side can be for a prince and the other for a princess.  Changes are taking place in this household, folks, and we couldn't be more pleased about it.

On a separate note, BJ and I were fortunate to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary over the weekend (a little early, as our anniversary is actually today), and we spent part of our evening seeing "Crazy Stupid Love" with Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, and Ryan Gosling. I am raving about this movie, people. To my taste, it was certainly one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a long time, and it is perhaps my personal favorite. This is absolutely not your typical romantic comedy though, so buyer beware. The character development is careful and rich, creating characters that are much deeper than you typically see in romantic comedies, thus lending a substance to the plot that makes the journey that much more delightful. While I truly think that this movie will be enjoyed by a wide audience, I do believe that it is especially to be appreciated by people who have spent a long time plugging away in a committed relationship. And, while I know that eight years isn't long for a marriage in the grand scope of things, I thought this movie experience was appropriate timing for a couple who has remained true and steady throughout those eight years, and all the while bringing out the best in each other.

Can you tell I'm still in love? =)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

112 Degrees

I don't think I've spent a whole lot of time griping about the heat we have had this summer in Oklahoma. I actually believe they are calling it a "heat dome," although I fail to grasp the technical meaning of this phrase. I've been sucking it up and dealing with the heat without much complaining for a few reasons:
  • I don't want to look like a second-trimester-whiny pregnant lady when there are women about to give birth dealing with this same heat. The fact remains, however, that the heat is nauseating.
  • I love living in Oklahoma and don't want to gripe about this great state. I lived so far away for four years and don't have the heart to gripe about my homeland because I have come to so appreciate it.
  • What's the point? There's nothing I can do about it. Whining only makes other people whiny.
But today I feel kind of whiny. I think this heat is finally catching up to me. I always used to tell people when we lived in Minnesota, 'It's not the cold temperatures that get to me. It's the LONGEVITY of the cold that gets to me.' I remember specific days in Minnesota winters when the temperature was a blustery -25 degrees with a windchill at -50. On those days it was absolutely necessary for my wussy butt to take an extra scarf to breathe into or else my Southern lungs would have crystallized and shattered. But it wasn't those days that got me down and blue; no, it wasn't those days at all. It was the days in late February, and even late March, when I was speaking on the phone to loved ones in Oklahoma who were wearing shorts and grilling and enjoying the sun, and I still had months of winter to endure. THAT was the killing point for me, the times when the high temperature of the day was still below zero, and it was like that for 17 days in a row before (yay!) a high of 6 degrees was predicted in the forecast.

Now I face a similar exhaustion, only the temperature is in the other extreme. It's something like 40 days now this summer in OKC that temperatures have been over 100 degrees, and here is the forecast for the next seven days:

The great Nero Wolfe would say, "Confound it!" So confound it, I say! It's hot, and I'm ready for the fall! And from this moment forward I have decided to exchange all whiny thoughts to anticipatory dreams of the fall: orange leaves that fall and crunch, grilling out on the porch, sips of cider (I mean hard cider, so that's why they are merely stolen sips), pumpkin candles, baking, holidays, pomegranates and apples, light jackets, and FOOTBALL! It's coming! Hang in there, fellow Oklahomans! And Texans! This cannot last forever!