Monday, July 21, 2008

It's A . . . Boy!!

So today we got the big news. We had our ultrasound, which was pretty involved since we had it done by first a sonogropher, and then a perinatologist who brought with him a med student intern. The sonogropher thought it was a girl, and even took a cute little bum picture of our little guy and labeled it "girl," (I'm sure that will come back in the form of teasing from his father and/or siblings some day), but he had been making the gender labeling difficult by having his legs crossed the whole time. Finally he opened them up while the perinatologist was checking everything out . . . and he is definitely a boy. I was pretty shocked, but now I'm excited to have a little Randy-let running around our house. Plus he will have a little boy cousin a month older than him (my cousin Sarise is expecting in October), not to mention little Sammy and Henry who won't be too far off in age. If Mandy finds out she is having a boy, we will be on our way to a little Johnson baseball team!

We feel very blessed because so far my health has been better than I could have expected and the baby is by all signs a perfect little guy. I was a little nervous before I got pregnant, not knowing how my body would react to such big changes, whether or not my arthritis would be a big problem. But our Heavenly Father has really looked after Baby Boy and me--I've only had one real day where my arthritis flared up, and it resolved itself without my having to take medicine for it. Our baby is a feisty little guy, and seems to take after his daddy so far. He doesn't like to go to sleep at night, but decides to start kicking and doing gymnastics right when I am about to drift off. Boys!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rice to Die For

On Saturday I needed a quick meal to take to Randy at work, and I didn't have a lot in the kitchen. Compounding matters, I didn't have a lot of energy to make anything too fancy or time consuming. So after about fifteen minutes of sitting on the couch like a beached whale, staring at the kitchen, I finally came up with something, and it turned out pretty delicious. (I base my deliciousness-factors based on how soon after I make something Randy asks for it again.)

I ended up taking a nine by nine glass pan and layering the bottom with refried beans, then adding a small layer of cheese (still trying to convert Randy to the soy cheese) and some salsa, then topping it off with some rice that I kind of winged--but turned out to be a keeper. We ended up eating half of the pan just with chips that night, and then I made the rest of the pan up into burritos the next day. So here's how I did the rice:

I took a cup of white rice, and placed it in a medium kettle with plenty of water and one vegan bouillon cube (it is like fake chicken bouillon, so if you aren't crazy like me I'd just use chicken). Then opened up a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo, and chopped up about three, and threw those in the pot as well. You want to make sure you get a little of the adobo in there, because it adds this great flavor. Then I just added a dash of salt and some fresh ground pepper, and let the rice boil down until the water had evaporated and the rice was tender--about twenty minutes. And voila! Smoky, yummy rice that works great as either a side dish or an ingredient in burritos etc. The next time I do it, I want to chop up some cilantro and green onion, a few roma tomatoes and squeeze lime over the top, mixed with a little salt and pepper and add that as a garnish on the rice. But in a pinch, the quick way like I did it still turns out surprisingly good!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


So, it is really hot here. Pushing 100 degrees, so my brain is pretty much fried. In lieu of something more creative, here is something fun I got from my friend Robyn. I had a hard time picking one memory about her . . . we were pretty spastic our freshman year of college!

Here are the directions: 1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember! 2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you. If you don't want to play on your blog, or if you don't have a blog, I'll leave my memory of you in my comments.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pink and White Basketweave Scarf

I have been waiting to find out whether we are having a boy baby or a girl baby before I start in on any big projects, but I needed something to keep me occupied in the meantime. So I looked through all my leftover yarn and decided to make a scarf. And here is the end result. I don't need any more scarfs, so I'll put this one away to give as a gift this fall/winter. Who knows, maybe it will eventually end up on Etsy if I can't figure out who to give it to :o). Now the hard part comes . . . waiting until a week from Monday when we finally get the big news! I'm going to have to find some small projects to keep me busy until then. I have some fabric to make into a receiving blanket and some burp rags, so that will last me one or two days. I saw some really cute ideas on Melissa's (an old roommate) blog that I would like to try . . . we'll just have to see if I can find some inexpensive supplies . . . I especially want to make the cloth sandwich baggies, the crayon case, and the shopping bag.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Book Reviews

So one activity I have been up to enjoying while in between being asleep and/or puking my guts out for the last few months has been reading. It was kind of nice to catch up on all the books that I had bought over the last few years and never had the time to read. I am reaching a dangerous zone though . . . I have only one or two more books before I will be wanting to hit the bookstores . . .

I first read Toni Morrison's work in my post-modern American lit class a couple of summers ago when we read Jazz. I expected to be impressed with her work, which I was, and had been meaning to read more of her work but hadn't until I picked up this book. This was a slight departure for her because she takes on a masculine viewpoint for the majority of the work. The title is bit misleading--it references not the Judeo-Christian biblical Solomon and his love poetry that has been debatable in the Canon for centuries--but a colloquial children's song recited by youngsters in the deep south. I once heard Morrison described as a historical revisionist, not in the sense you may be familiar with where crazy people believe there was no Holocaust etc, but the term applies to her in the sense that where history has been written by the "winners," she has attempted to open up a past that has been largely without a voice. The novel opens up in 1930's Michigan, and spans into the 1960's. The heart of this novel is a journey of self-discovery for a man who is emotionally isolated, disconnected--both from the people that ought to be the most important to him, as well as his cultural and familial history. The book takes on issues of race and justice, as well as socio-economic struggles for blacks both with and without money. In this novel her characters are disturbed, searching individuals--and most of the time the main character, Milkman dead, is not a likeable fellow. But what makes this work great is her storytelling ability (I was reminded a lot of the tradition of Zora Neale Hurston) and the power of a cultural and family past over a person and their destiny. I recommend this book to anyone who has read/enjoyed Toni Morrison in the past, or that is interested in African-American literature. It is a tragedy, so don't approach this book with expectations of anything lighthearted or a simple "fun read." It is complicated, at times disturbing, but worth it.

This book I came away from with very mixed feelings. In a nutshell: Nabokov is without a doubt one of the most talented writers I have ever encountered. But after reading his work and some articles written by him about his work and purpose for writing, I have some significant issues with him. I read this book because it is on all the lists for the greatest works of the twentieth century, and I was further interested after having read Azar Nafisi's book, Reading Lolita in Tehran (which is not all about Lolita, they cover many major works including Pride and Prejudice. I highly recommend Nafisi's book by the way). Most people are familiar with the basic concept of Lolita so I won't get into many of the disturbing details of the plot--basically it is about a man who is obsessed with young girls and who kidnaps a young girl of about 14. She does escape by the way. Anyway, I would not recommend this book to many people. If you are a serious student of literature and have been trained to read books like this, then go ahead. Nabokov is without question a masterful writer. I simply disagree with his purpose for writing. I quote, "I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction, and despite John Ray's assertion, Lolita has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art . . . is the norm" (Nabokov 314). I also do not like "didactic" fiction, but I feel that Nabokov confuses such fiction for any narrative with a moral center. This disturbing subject I believe he took on simply as an exercise in art--to see if he could pull of something that no one else has. I am more of a proponent of William Faulkner's view on literature, which he elaborates on in his famous Nobel Prize winning acceptance speech. Here is a link-- I highly recommend reading it

After reading Lolita which I found to be a rather depressing work, I needed something of a pick-me-up. I had read Erdrich's novel, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse so I knew and enjoyed her writing style. I was not disappointed in this novel at all. Erdrich possesses such a charming prose style that is simply put GREAT storytelling. She is a Native American author and so she draws on fascinating lore and folk tales that had me completely enraptured. Her characters span across many of her novels--there is a family tree you can follow between many of her different works. I recognized many of the characters from the book of hers that I had read previously, but the subject matter wasn't tired or contrived. She manages to tell a fresh and interesting story of love, forgiveness, revenge, and ultimately a story of finding identity. It is a relatively short novel, only about 200 pages, and one I highly recommend. I warn you though, her novels are rather addictive. I am now going to have to read the rest of her works . . . again Randy had better keep me away from the bookstore . . .

This next book I probably would never have picked up except that it was sent to me by this book club that I used to have a membership in. This was a very early effort by Capote (most famous for his novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and his groundbreaking work In Cold Blood) so it isn't as polished as some of his other works. I knew going into this book that Capote was a very interesting character himself, but this work surprised me--especially the ending. In any case, it was a very short read--I think I read it in an evening--and I probably won't pick it up again. Granted, it isn't really my niche in literature (white, male, privileged) but aside from that the style and the character development just didn't really do it for me. I am interested in reading In Cold Blood in the future, but aside from this and the other short works I've read by him in the past, I think my Capote limit in literature has been met. If anyone out there disagrees with me, feel free to offer reading suggestions and I will take you up on it.

This book I read because 1. It had been sent to me by the aforementioned book club, so it was on my shelf and 2. I was slightly curious to see what all the fuss was about. I had heard one scathing review by one of my literature professors, Zina Peterson (who happens to be Hugh Nibley's daughter, and pretty much just as brilliant) who gave us a fifteen minute impromptu lecture about the time this novel was big about why she and her father thought this book was complete nonsense, badly researched, etc. So while most of the world has read this book by now and I know it is completely old news, I picked it up anyway. Plus when you don't feel well enough to go to the library, the phonebook starts to look entertaining. In any case, I agree for the most part with my lit professor. It isn't great literature, it is at most entertaining on the level of a great many "best-sellers" of the action/intrigue variety that get made into major motion pictures. The most interesting parts to me were the symbology explanations and the codes, although coming from the theological and ontological background that I have, I tend to arrive at rather different conclusions than the author puts forth. I have always been fascinated by how what I view as eternal truth or pure religion has been mangled and transformed over the years, and found its way into various belief systems and epistemologies. It is interesting for me to see how what I view as truth has been interpreted by other people and other faiths very differently. In any case, as long as you go into this book with a firm grasp that this is indeed fiction, (Mr. Brown in his introductory notes would have you believe that this work is closer to life than fiction) I wouldn't mind recommending it as an easy summer read. But on the other hand, there is so much GREAT fiction out there, why waste your time on the mediocre? Unless of course you are in bed sick, counting the ceiling tiles . . .

And last but not least, I read Baldwin's famous novel, Go Tell it On The Mountain which was really unexpected and interesting to me. I'm not sure I know what I expected going into this book, other than a vague perception that it might be somehow akin to Native Son or Invisible Man. Instead, I found myself thrown into a pentecostal revival that reminded me so much of my experiences on my mission with the black folk in the Galveston projects. This book is all about religious fervor, self-discovery, faith, intermixed with race and social issues. Baldwin's writing style is very engaging, colorful, and full of life. It sweeps you up with the characters, good and bad alike, and shifts perspectives back and forth to offer rounded viewpoints of who these people are, and how they became the way they are. The ending left me a little hanging, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. This novel is a powerful window into the black experience of mid-twentieth century Harlem, and I would recommend pairing this read with Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

June Update

Well, the first trimester is over, and I have to say that it really wasn't that bad. I say this now, because I pretty much don't remember the last three months. I vaguely remember puking a lot, sleeping a lot, and driving Randy crazy because no food EVER sounded good (this is still a bit of a problem). But in between my boring life (my brother in law Matt recently said that I sounded like a grandmother, what with all the napping and the knitting) a few things of interest did manage to happen--in spite of my beached whale syndrome.

The first exciting thing was that over Memorial Day weekend we hit the sales with our tax rebate money and a gift from my parents and finally graduated to a real bed. For those of you who haven't visited our house, we didn't exactly have a lot of furniture when we moved in. We also didn't have a lot of extra money and didn't want to go into debt, so we opted to go kind of ghetto and we slept on an air bed since we moved in at the end of last August. It worked fine until I got pregnant and started having a hard time sleeping on the inflatable wonder. My dad had been wanting to give us a bed for some time, so I finally caved and let him spoil us.

The one down side . . . our cute chinchilla can now run and hide under there if she is ever wiley enough to get away from me. Eventually we will build some kind of frame around the edge to prevent this, but for now I guess I just have to be faster.

Randy got us an amazing deal at the RC Willey outlet by purchasing our other two items at the same time. Randy really wanted to get me a glider rocker for Mothers' Day, but discovered at 11:30 p.m. the night before that Walmart doesn't sell them. At least in their stores . . . you can find them online. Anyway, we shopped around and found this one at RC Willey that we love. I tested it on baby Sam, and he seemed to approve :o)

Our final part of the shopping spree was a clothes dryer. We have had a washer since last fall, and had been hanging all our clothes up to dry on a drying rack. While the process was extremely eco-friendly, it wasn't the most time efficient. Plus it was a little awkward trying to dry large items such as sheets. Needless to say, I was a very excited girl to finally have my laundry process streamlined, especially with the prospect of all those little baby clothes that will be coming this winter.

The final piece of furniture that we added we didn't purchase, it was delivered here by some friends of ours who took a family vacation in their suburban down here from Salem over the holiday weekend. This cradle was built by my parents when they were expecting me, and now it is waiting by the side of our bed for our little one. The picture really doesn't do it justice--they did an incredible job. We are very excited to be able to use it this winter!

And speaking of the new addition, my parents have been wanting to see a picture of their pregnant girl. There really hasn't been a lot to see for the first three months. I was so sick at the beginning that I lost weight, and I really haven't been gaining it back yet. So far the grand total is 2 pounds. But I am finally starting to show--at least I can tell, I'm not sure if other people really can. So here is a picture anyway of the tummy progress so far. Personally I feel like I have eaten a huge Thanksgiving dinner that just won't digest . . . it is a very strange feeling I'm trying to get used to of having my stomach stick out like this. I haven't moved on to maternity clothes yet, I am just starting to look chubby in my regular clothes.

The other big landmark we passed was feeling the baby move for the first time. About a week ago I felt the little squirm/flutter, and that has been exciting--for me at least. Randy is jealous because he can't feel anything yet. We will get to see the next picture of Baby Johnson (Randy affectionately calls it Marvin) on the 21st of this month . . . so feel free to place any last minute bets on what we're having.