Friday, September 25, 2009

What's for dinner?

My paternal grandmother was an inspiring woman. Grandma Rose was always learning a new skill, trying to improve on the many gifts and talents she already possessed. It seemed that every time we visited, she would pull me aside for a quick piano lesson. She always had a list of ready questions - how do I count this measure? what does maestroso mean? how exactly should this passage sound? When I was in college, she would frequently bequeath old cookbooks (how I came to be the proud owner of the Crisco cookbook) and new recipes. I know she watched (and frequently recorded) cooking and painting shows. When she passed away, we found more evidence of her quest for knowledge and self-improvement. Books about improving your voice. Books about drawing and painting. Books about nature. Books about God. 

I was recently going through some of those passed-on recipes. Since I have more time at home now, I've been enjoying finding my love of cooking again. (It's hard to love it when you don't have time, energy, or anyone coming home to it). I have many standard favorite recipes, and cookbooks and blogs bookmarked with new recipes. In honor of grandma, I think I will share a clip from one of my favorite cooking shows, and tonight's dinner inspiration. Bon appetit!

Finding my voice

*Edit from yesterday: So, I just re-read yesterday's post. It sounds awfully whiny. I'm so sorry! It was not my intention to complain, but it was my intention to give voice to my feelings. I suppose yesterday I needed to complain just a bit. I'm feeling much more optimistic today. I know that the more days my little guy gets to cook, the better off it will be for him. I would rather have a healthy baby and a safe delivery than risk his health because I'm a bit uncomfortable.

I took a class in college that has surprisingly stuck with me these many years since. It was my first year writing class, and I still think about it often. It may be because I have a love of words (much to my dear husband's amusement). It may be because the written word has greatly influenced my life. It is not surprising to me that my chosen field of work is based in language. And I will admit I have a mild obsession with pens and new journals. 

One of the things Professor Taggart emphasized in that first year writing class was finding our voice. He encouraged us to write in as many different contexts as we could. As homework, we were to send a letter every week (he never read them, he just put the addressed envelopes in the mailbox for us). We were to keep a journal. I'm sure he would have encouraged blogging had it been a common form or written communication then. 

As I've been reflecting on that class this past week and its impact on my life, I realize how lax I've become in my writing. I have become a lazy writer. I used to write in my journal at least weekly - even during graduate school. Since entering the professional workforce, my journal writing has become sporadic at best. I used to write letters weekly (real letters - the kind with an envelope and a stamp). Now the only envelopes that go into my mailbox usually have checks in them and are addressed to the electric company. Even my blogging has taken a desultory direction. I'm ashamed. 

I have noticed a conjunctive decline in my reading as well. There are days when I don't crack open a book that doesn't relate to my work. Who is this person I have become? 

So, I'm changing my tune. I'm searching for my voice. I've missed it. I'm promising myself that I will do more reading and writing. I hope you notice a difference here too. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dialogue: "I hate waiting." "Get used to disappointment."

Patience may be a virtue, but it's not one that I possess in great quantity. I hate waiting. It's not something I've ever been very good at. I was raised to be punctual (almost to the point of paranoia). I hate being late for things - for class, for work, for church, for bed. I get sweaty palms and a racing heart. Usually, I putter until the appointed hour for departure. I keep busy, finishing off projects, practicing the piano for a few extra minutes, reading a good book (but not really being able to focus on it). 

Today we went to the doctor hoping for a more defined ETA for our little bug. I left feeling deflated. 

No change. 

For the last three weeks the report has been the same. 1 cm dilated. 50-70% effaced. Head at 0 station. No change. 

I guess there’s no outward change, but my body feels different. I feel an increase in my energy levels (on the whole). My abdominal muscles are constantly sore (like I’ve just done 100 sit-ups). I have less room for my internal organs (like my lungs, and my bladder). And it’s like I get a daily deep tissue massage . . . from the inside out. And I feel like I’m sitting on a bowling ball most days. 

None of these symptoms are unique to me, but they give me hope that the end is not far off. The most interesting symptom is the “nesting” instinct. I’ve spent my days catching up laundry, dusting corners, sorting piles, getting out the autumn decorations. I still have a rather long list of things that I could and should be doing, but I’m finding it to be increasingly difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. Instead, I’m distracted by the waiting. 

I find myself wondering what he’ll look like. What he’ll smell like. What he’ll sound like. I want kiss those little fingers. I want to suckle and swaddle and nurture. And then I get all anxious again because I’m a victim to a timetable I have no control over. 

And then I get anxious that I’m not ready for the next step. I worry that I won’t be able to figure out this mothering thing. Will I really feel that unconditional love that women talk about? The thought is far to abstract for my finite mind to understand without the concrete weight of a baby - my baby - in my arms. Am I ready for the paradigm shift - to go from counting weeks to counting months? Am I fit to help this little soul find his path in this big world? Am I equipped with all I need to remind him who he is? Waiting is not good for my excessive sense of worry. 

Therefore, this week, since I am doomed to waiting, I am determined to put this anxious energy to good use. After all, there are some definite advantages to being home and “in the interim.” To list a few:

  • Mornings with Brent. We actually have regular time together for the first time in months. It’s been nice to start the day together.
  • Discovering the art of snacking. Since there’s only room in my stomach for about 1/4 c. of anything, I am becoming a professional grazer. 
  • Having time to read. I’m re-discovering Charles Dickens and finding the discovery to be literarily delicious.
  • having time to find my voice again. I’ve been missing writing. A lot. 
  • Having time to be self-sufficient. I bottled chicken this week. All by myself. For the very first time. Self-sufficiency has got to be one of the best feelings . . . hmmm, “if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”
  • De-cluttering. I breathe so much easier when my house is clean. It’s a good feeling. I can enjoy perpetuating that feeling while I have the energy to do so.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Swine flu claims it's first celebrity victim. I think we all know who gave it to him. 

Saturday, September 19, 2009


This made me smile today. 

I'm getting so excited for General Conference!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If you're going to San Francisco . . .

Brent and I had the opportunity to travel this weekend to San Francisco. It felt so good to be out of town and away from the brain noise that life has become. I think we both needed the break. Brent starts school tomorrow, so we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the growing Hill family before life became crazy again. 

We drove up Thursday night and stayed overnight at Kris (Mahoney) Dahlin's parents' house. They were good enough to share a bed with us for the night. I love Kris, and Brent and I both were fast fans of her new husband Jon. Friday morning we had breakfast at a delicious little restaurant and then headed into San Francisco. We got there right in time to check into our hotel and walk down a few blocks to the Embarcadero where the San Francisco symphony was giving a free outdoor concert. 

The Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero

My charming husband
We walked or took the bus everywhere in the city. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people offered up their seat for an obviously pregnant woman. We made lots of friends on the busses (which meant that we, unfortunately, had to backtrack to get to our original destination) including a family from Paris who were part of a house-exchange with a family from San Francisco. They had a darling five-month old son. We met a couple from St. Louis in for a conference about antimicrobial therapy. (Well, the wife was - the husband was there to see the sights). We also met a young visiting historian from England who was in the states to study the history and memoirs of the CIA. (His doctorate was on MI-5 and MI-6). Riding the bus certainly added flavor to our trip. 

On Friday we went out to see the Golden Gate Bridge. What a fascinating structure! Brent had never been there either in all of his traveling to San Francisco, so it was a treat to be able to see it together. (It was a good thing we went Friday. You'll see what I mean later).

Sorry about the hair . . . it's a little windy out there. Yes, that is a 36 week baby belly. I was told I was a brave woman for walking all over San Francisco in that state. While I got tired quickly, I still feel much like my same old self.

Friday night we ate some delicious cuisine in little Italy (made by bonafide Italians) and retired to our room early. (After all that traveling, I was plum-tuckered out). Sorry - no picture of the room, but I assure you it was quite comfortable. 

We slept well until about 4:15 in the morning when a flash and then a crash resounded. I was awake almost immediately. At first I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. Surely, that rumble was just the sound of the dumpsters being emptied on the street below us (the city is full of sounds!). But, then I heard another crack and the thunder rumbled through the sky scrapers like it would echo through a canyon. It was amazing! So, I just laid back and enjoyed the patter of the rain and the rumble of the thunder. 

We got another little round of the storm later in the morning. The thunder was so loud that it woke Brent up. Brent's immediate words were, "Please, don't let the other plane hit us!," but I assured him it was only a thunderstorm. A glorious thunderstorm. (The first one I've heard in almost two years, actually). Saturday's weather was a bit drizzly, but we enjoyed it! It was such a nice change from our Bakersfield dustiness. 

The Transcontinental Building - where does it end?
Jon and Kris Dahlin. I love these people!!!
Brent just couldn't keep out of the display. Can you blame him?
Unfortunately, the camera was dying by this point. So, no pictures of the funny sea lions, but here's one more happy picture of us. We had a great trip to San Francisco!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Many have been requesting pictures of my ever blossoming belly. Sorry the quality isn't better - I need to get some taken outside. However, this gives you an idea of how big I'm getting. I'm definitely feeling pregnant. Here are some of my "symptoms":

  • I itch all the time.
  • My little guy loves music. He starts a wiggle fest whenever I turn on music. It’s been fun to see how he reacts differently to different kinds of music - hymns vs. Michael Buble vs. Beethoven vs. James Taylor. The funniest part is that if I start to sing, he almost immediately stops. 
  • Weird cravings? Just Slurpees and cornbread 
  • Whereas it used to be fun to feel the little squirt squirm around in my belly, it's started to take on a slightly uncomfortable edge. It's not bad, but it's definitely not like it used to be. 
  • Brent has to be ever patient with my emotional instability, and he does so. 
  • I'm getting so excited to meet this little guy!