Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who We Really Are

I'm a Carlisle! I found out through TwilightersAnonymous.com. Which Twilight Male Are You? Take the quiz and find out!

I'm a Esme! I found out through TwilightersAnonymous.com. Which Twilight Female Are You? Take the quiz and find out!

Photographic Exploits

By the way, yes, my posts will always use a serifed font and Ashley's will always use a sans serif font. That way you can more easily tell who's writing...not that it's that hard.


We are officially kicked into high gear with the camera now. Specifically, our new lens came in. Oh, yes. Let the bokeh flow. I woke Ashley up to take a first picture with it (no flash used, and it was very dark inside).

So much bokeh, in such a small room. The new lens is great and sharp and it blurs the background like a champ but it does have one fatal flaw: it's mortal. In other words, it doesn't have optical image stabilization. Canon doesn't make any prime lenses with optical image stabilization. I don't know why, actually. But if they did it would probably be out of our price range anyway. So we're going to get a dang tripod.

And then I figured out how to make my own remote control for the camera by splicing a spare hands free cell phone cable and some cable for...I think a TV. It works like a champ

(The reason you can recognize my face is because this picture was taken using the old lens. Insufficient bokeh.)

Actually, Ashley doesn't love my invention. I don't know what she has against it. My first version was made of exposed wires that looked really scary. We're going to get a real remote control--like, without wires--for it soon.

It's actually a very cheap item, but I say if you can rig your own...

EDIT: We decided our second pick for this picture was too cute not to post. This is the face we make when we say "Oooooooooh." Which it turns out we do frequently.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moment of Panic

The Bad news: Last night when I crawled into bed in my sweet, sweet relief from the day's exhaustion and to cuddle with my honey I totally forgot to set the alarm and we woke up 10 minutes before Grant was supposed to leave so he could catch the El (public mass transit train) into the city for work.

The Good news: Right next to the El stop two blocks away from us is a Metra (commuter train) stop and there is a morning train that allows him to leave 25 minutes later than normal and yet arrive in the city at the same time, and his walk from that station isn't much longer.


*You might wonder why Grant doesn't just take the Metra all the time if there is so much extra time for him to (and the train itself is much quieter, much nicer and stops much less frequently than the El). He's got a pass from the university that lets him ride the El and anything else on that system for free until the end of the semester in December, so we shoot for that.*

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Little Secret

Now, to the naked eye, this might just look like another picture of me and my much-discussed pregnant belly. The viewer might think I'm simply smiling from the joy of impending motherhood.

And it might be that, but it's also so very much more.

There is a reason I'm smiling and it's not just because I'm tickled pink to become a mommy in a few months (and despite all my moaning and complaining, I am actually happy and excited for our little girl to arrive). I'm smiling because I was reminded today yet again that there is a God in Heaven. No, I'm not going all evangelical on my non-Mormon friends and family, I'm just telling you the facts.

You know how I know there's a God? I know because sometimes an idea pops into my head and I know that it didn't come from me--I just ain't that smart on my own.

I have put off buying actual maternity clothes for quite some time. And thanks to a wardrobe stocked with low-rise pants and extra long shirts, I can get away with it fairly easily, modestly and comfortably.

However, Sundays are a different issue. Though at first it was fine, now when I wear this awesomely cute and goes-with-everything skirt I have to pull the dang thing all the way over my belly to get the zipper up which means it hits my legs a lot higher than I'd like. It's not immodest, I just don't think I have very good legs so I like to keep em covered.

While I was in the bathroom after Sunday school and before Relief Society I noticed that my skirt sat just where I wanted it if I gave up on the zipper when it was about halfway up.

I examined my outfit. I wore a long, tight-fitting black undershirt and my loose maternity blouse. At first I whimpered when I noticed how comfy it was unzipped, but then God hit me upside the head with a brilliant idea. And then I just smoothed out those shirts on top of my unzipped skirt to see how it looked.

So that is why I'm smiling in this picture and have been since that moment in the bathroom. You totally can't even tell my skirt is gaping open right underneath my hand because it's shamelessly unzipped. I have been so dang comfortable all day long!

No, I'm not smart enough to have figured out "Just don't zip it up because no one will be able to see it anyway" on my own. We've got a (Mormon) friend who commented here that he knows there's a God and He loves us and wants us to be happy because of elliptical machines. It's totally true, and this is another example.

This smile is the look of sweet, sweet relief.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Right Equipment for the Job

As many of you know I have been interested in photography for some time. Well, at least interested in cameras and camera technology. I'm on like my fifth-point-and-shoot camera right now. Unfortunately for a long time all of my pictures have looked exactly the same: me pointing the camera at myself while in my house. Or maybe pointing the camera at myself and one other person. There's something that just feels wrong about having a really exceptional camera and nothing to capture with it. I've never really been one for taking artsy pictures of flowers and sunsets...if I want to see that I'll just download a picture off of the internet.

Well, Ashley and I are beginning to look with an expectant eye at the new addition to our family, and that means pictures! For several years I have been shopping, thinking about, and talking about getting a dSLR camera. The big ones with the interchangeable lenses and awesome photographic potential. In preparation for a whole new level of need for photography, we agreed to get ourselves one--the new Canon XSI. And it came in the very morning we left for our trip to Saint Loius to hang with Heber's family. I think I took hundreds of pictures of Ashley driving on that trip. Look down to the description of our trip. The two pictures of Ashley from the post about out trip to Heber's were taken with the new camera, the rest were of the old (I was too afraid of damage to take it hiking...besides hiking is supposed to be about ultralightness). Such great pictures.

The first thing you observe about pictures from an SLR camera (besides the shocking lack of CCD noise present even in low light pictures and the complete absence of red eye) is that focusing really matters. That is, one of the advantages of those big lenses and sensors is you get a big hole through which the light comes, measured by the aperture. With large apertures, you can take pictures in very low light, but the dept of field of the focus is much smaller. In other words, if the focus is just a bit off, whatever you were hoping to take a picture of will be blurry. This is actually a very desirable feature in portrait shooting because you want your subject to be really crisp and to blur out the stuff behind them. That blurring is called bokeh, and it's a major difference between professional looking shots and snapshots. Both of the pictures of Ashley from the trip below show significant bokeh. The picture of Ashley walking down the street illustrates the kind of bokeh our new camera is capable of as well.

Large aperture is typically the limiting factor. All reasonable lenses are able to decrease the size of the aperture so that the depth of field is increased (like for landscape pictures) as much as you want. The downside of this is just that less light gets in so the shutter potentially has to remain open for longer, potentially blurring the picture. That's why lenses with a large aperture are called "fast" lenses, I guess. Because for the same shot, a large aperture lens requires less open shutter time to get a good photo. Aperture is measured by f stops, where a larger f means a smaller aperture, but they are not comparable between cameras because of the different sensor size. For example my point and shoot does between f2.8 and f8, but my dSLR kit lens, which does between f3.5 and f22 or something takes in about four times as much light at each aperture. Also the scale is not linear, so for example f2 takes in twice as much light as f2.8, while at smaller apertures the difference in numbers is greater: f22 takes in twice as much as f32.

Anyway, large apertures are really good for indoor shots and portraits, and this camera has already proven itself in that regard very well. However, we are having a dang baby soon, which means we will be wanting to take lots of indoor shots (without a flash) and portraits. That means the possibility of getting a lens beyond the kit lens. The kit lens is a decent little zoom lens that will take you from what your eye sees to a 4x or something zoom in. The aperature is limited to f3.5 when wide open and when zoomed it can only do f5.6.

We have done some looking around for good lenses and found one thing: lenses are crazy expensive! I'd like to replace our kit lens with a similar lens which can do f2.8 at all zooms and has about the same zoom power, but the dang thing costs $1000. That's almost twice what the camera costs! And it's not particularly a luxury lens. Those cost several times as much.

However, it turns out that if you get a lens that doesn't zoom, called a prime lens, you can really do better. First of all, there are fewer moving parts and it can be really optimized, so it can get clearer and sharper, and it's easier for them to build in a large aperture. The physical lens is smaller and lighter and it's much cheaper. The cheapest available lens for large apertures is the Canon 50mm 1.8 II lens--it's a serious budget lens, but with rather good clarity. The 1.8 means it can do f1.8. That's a big aperture compared to what we have now. And 50mm is much like our lens when it's zoomed in. So comparing at similar zooms, the prime lens takes in approximately 10 times as much light as the maximum amount our current lens will do, which is like 4 times what a point-and-shoot camera can do! That means pictures in low light situations with no flash, perfect clarity on what it's focused on, and bokeh up the wazoo.

So we bought it.

It's supposed to arrive on Tuesday and I find myself really itching to get it. True family life requires true photographic skills. Ashley and I do pretty well for ourselves right now, but add a little baby that's got more cuteness in her tiny little hand than we have in our whole bodies and you need to take photography to the next level.

You can't really rush babies out of the womb, but you can go crazy preparing for them!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Rant of the Day

This book hit shelves about a year ago, and I like it because it educates the general public about making healthier choices. But I also really don't like it because it pins America's health problems on the restaurant industry. These "criminals" load their menus with entrees crammed to the brim with calories, sugar, sodium, trans fats, carbs and all other things evil in food. Did we really need a book to figure this out people? Their goal is to make money, they'll do that by having delicious food and unfortunately quite often delicious food is easy to make all the more yummy by adding unhealthy ingredients. You know why 85/15 lean beef tastes better than 95/5 lean beef? There's more FAT! And that fat means more flavor.

People aren't getting heart disease and getting obese because of one meal that's worth a day's caloric intake in one sitting. It's happening because people are choosing this stuff over and over and over again, making it a lifestyle instead of an occasional treat. And that's exactly what eating out should be, an occasional treat. Eating out frequently promotes family disunity, overspending and unhealthy eating. It's not good from several perspectives.

I found an article online today (here's a link from the site I read it at with lots of information from the book, but I couldn't track down the exact article later) by the writers of this book with things like criticizing Papa John's for not having thin crust pizza and keeping their cheesey breadsticks on the menu. Hello! Some people hate thin crust pizza and maybe other crave cheesey breadsticks! And that's just fine! I'm not going to have health or weight problems from pan crust pizza if I only eat pizza once a month, but if I have it twice a week it just might expand my waistline more than my fetus-growing uterus. True confession--I know darn good and well that part of those 15 pounds I gained last month came from the Chicago-style stuffed pizza I brought home from work and I chose to eat at least piece a day (sometimes 2...okay once 3) instead of a piece a week (which was totally possible because I individually wrapped up the slices and threw them in the deep freeze). My dumb choices, my extra weight.

There are a few principles I do agree with. All restaurants should have their nutrition information available because people should have the option of knowing exactly what they're eating. When I find something I like at a chain I research it so that I can weigh the taste of the meal against the calories it costs me to have it, and I think America should have that option. And the book is right, there are lots of menu choices that are very deceptive. Having a salad doesn't always mean you're having a healthy meal, you have to pay attention to what's in it. Is it roasted veggies and lean protein like grilled chicken, salmon or shrimp with a vinaigrette or is it cheese or fried tortilla strips, steak or bacon and a creamy dressing on that bed of lettuce? Don't be surprised that the latter can have 1,000 calories or more. So restaurants should be under pressure to release nutritional information, absolutely. But those calories can be reduced dramatically by ordering it without those tortilla strips and putting the dressing on the side (they always give you less than if they slathered it on themselves and YOU have control over how much goes on). And I'm down with books like this encouraging people to make choices like that.

However, I don't think restaurants should have to take the worst things off their menus. I think the pressure should be on the consumer to take a second look at what they're choosing to eat. They should be allowed to make an informed decision about what they put into their bodies. But we shouldn't attack restaurants for having 600-1200 calorie sandwiches because it's not shame on them for offering it. It's shame on us for eating it time and time again. It's a no-brainer that a desert with the words, "Chocolate" and "Paradise" is going to have an insane amount of calories (1,600, to be exact) but you share it with one or two girlfriends and you compensate for it somehow, dingy.

And I feel justified in saying all this because I've been obese and I know that it happened because I didn't take any responsibility for my lifestyle, I wasn't born that way. At my heaviest and for a startlingly long period of time after I started losing weight, my BMI had me defined as "morbidly obese" and I got there by having a whole sandwich and a whole salad at Panera for lunch and then a pasta dinner with creamy sauce at the Macaroni Grill later the same week. I know better now. Eventually I figured out, only eat half of what they bring you and don't take it home. Plan it out, it's not that hard. I decided I wanted to bust out the waffle-maker someone gave us tonight and try it out for the first time so I packed Grant salad for lunch (topped with cherry tomatoes, a handful of chopped almonds and tunafish with his favorite vinaigrette) today and I'll have something similar. It's okay to have waffles for dinner, just plan for it.

So, there's my rant. Grant's already heard it. Many times. But I feel better sharing it with the general public now.

Now, you'll have to excuse me while I go work out. We are having waffles tonight for dinner.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Trip to the Other Farnsworths'

Well Ashley and I have been making a lot of promises lately about traveling places and hanging out with people. We had a long weekend opportunity, so we took the time to visit our most accessible relatives, the Farnsworths (my brother Heber)!

I had been promising to go out camping with Heber for some time. This was my big chance to experience his hobby: lightweight backpacking. And for me to hunt around Missouri, where apparently there are WILD TARANTULAS! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So here's how it went down:

First of all, there's the issue of getting down there. Ashley is a bit of a home body but nothing compared to me. I think in my family (my descendants, that is) we will most likely do family reunions by video conference because I really don't like to travel. We talked about taking the trains, which is something I have enjoyed at times, but ultimately, for more than one person taking the car is the best way to go.

Anyway as many of you know I hate driving, so we had Ashley drive out of Chicago, which is always a very stressful experience. She's so great about that. I did a lot of open road driving down in the corn fields, but Ashley is the one who does the heavy lifting when it comes to driving. Thank goodness for. And for GPS also, by the way.

So Heber and I walked around a really big lake. Well, to me it looked pretty big. It was about 11.6 miles around. For heber, that's a walk in the park, or less. But remember, this is the guy who runs half marathons and then comes home and does yardwork because it wasn't a strain for him. Anyway it was good having some good brotherly bonding time. Heber is 12 years older than I am so he rememebrs me from my childhood, but I only have vague recollections of him ever living in the house. I think we discussed most of the major problems the world is facing. Now if only we were the benevolent dictators of the world.

You can see we are carrying backpacks. But this was ultralight backpacking. I mean, everything was titanium or some kind of lightweight foam that was just recently invented. I could walk around the earth with the pack I was carrying. Of course, mine was exceptionally lighter than his because he carried all the water. Actually the fact that he was carrying that much water was a bit strange to me considering we were at a lake and he had a filter. Maybe he knew how incredibly sqweamish I would be at the thought of drinking water that has only been passed through a rough filter, s0 he would have to bring along some real water. Heber actually did drink some of this lake water. I still get the heebie jeebies about this. I mean, I considered urinating in that same lake.

It was really pretty, though (yes I took this picture...actually two that I stitched together digitally)
It was a real lake, to my eyes, but it was not a real mountain range. If mountain ranges were people on a beach, the Ozarks would be the 90 pound weaklings that get sand kicked in their face. I mean, "mountains?" Anyway, they were pretty enough, especially to someone like me who has only seen green things for the past few years of his life, and even then not that much because I live in a giant, crowded city.

The right way to backpack is to sleep out in hammocks at night. That's right, hammocks. Heber's backpack magically turned into padding and I had a roll of foam that I slept on. My hammock was the close one with the bug netting.

Hammocks are pretty comfortable, for a few minutes anyway. Actually, what I was really missing was a pillow. I wonder why I never thought to bring one? Anyway comfort wasn't really the problem. Heber and I both have nasty sleeping problems. In his case he wakes up at noises that are barely audible to normal human ears. In my case, it takes several hours of tossing and turning to get to sleep. Not really a good combination, in retrospect. Heber slept for short bursts between when I was rolling around and stuff. I slept between 3:30 and 5 (on accident).

Actually I'll tell you the real reason I didn't sleep much that night: paranoia. That's right, even with full knowledge that the most dangerous animals in the Ozarks are probably muskrats, I sat around all night listening to the trees dropping acorns and imagining a bear sniffing around our campsite. I kept telling myself that there are zero scary things in the dang Ozarks, but it turns out that I'm not as rational at that time of night as I am at other times. So anyway, there it is. I'm afraid of the dark.

Actually, I sleep in earplugs every night so I don't hear Ashley's breathing or the traffic outside. I wonder why I didn't think to take them on the trip.

Anyway, hiking is not really about the sleeping. We cooked on an alcohol stove that weighed about as much as my toenail clippings. We saw about 5000 mountain bikers freaking out because they didn't expect hikers on their bike race. We searched in vain for wild tarantulas that we could capture and bring home to keep as pets (hope springs eternal on that one). I came home with some wicked blisters and a wierd limp (that was the Ozark's way of saying that I'M actually the 90 pound weakling on the beach). I'm definitely the pansy in the family, despite the fact that I weigh about 40 pounds more.

Patient Ashley was at home getting to know her new in laws (she is adjusting so well to being a Farnsworth) and was waiting eagerly for me to return and save her from yet more compulsive games of word challenge.
Oh, and we saw some longhorn cows!

A Lovlier Baby Bump

So I already knew that I'm gaining weight, duh. I'm pregnant. What I didn't know was that I packed on a whomping 15 pounds in a single month when I weighed in last week at my doctor's visit. I started crying on the spot. That's as half the weight I wanted to gain total and I knew it wasn't because of the extra blood I'm pumping or the one-pound fetus I'm growing. Yep. Halfway through pregnancy and she finally weighs pound, don't ask me how that works.

The nurse didn't help. She remeasured it to double-check and gasped in shock. Lady, you do this all day and some women gain like 80-100 pounds. I ain't the first chick who put on 15 in a month. Shoot, I think I did that my freshman year of college without growing a fetus. As she wrote it down she clicked her tongue and shook her head saying, "You're gonna be in trouble...the doctor is totally going to put you on a diet."

I calmed down after talking to the doctor and she convinced me I won't starve either of us or digest my baby if I take some control over my hunger to keep myself from turning into a bloated sea cow between now and Valentine's Day.

But we're talking serious now, people so I went home and weighed myself as soon as coming home from the office so that I'd know the difference between our scale and theirs. Ours registers at 4 pounds lighter. *sigh* But, now I had a baseline so I know exactly what to expect going in for my next month's visit.

And I felt a lot better when I weighed myself in the same clothes exactly 24 hours later and was 4 pounds lighter yet. But no, those mysterious 4 pounds couldn't have disappeared before my appointment, could they? Cruel irony.

So the Battle of the Bulge is going into high gear. I'm limiting myself and letting my stomach growl and since Grant is working and we're on a normal schedule, it's a lot easier. I've been hitting the work-outs too and I'm kicking trash and taking names in breaking a sweat on that blessed elliptical. I'm back up to my 45 minutes and I'm making it a point to walk at least one errand a day on top of escorting Grant to and from the El. Back to my dieting mode of no eating after dinner (but I'm not cutting desert--I never did cut desert out entirely, just the proportions), keeping better track of how much water I'm downing and limiting myself to my 3 meals and 1 snack in between. I'm surprised at how good I feel considering I spend more time hungry now than I ever did dieting.

But there has been a huge difference in my bump, and although Grant can still pinch the layer of fat insulating my uterus, we definitely have both noticed that it's hard pretty close to the surface.... Here's an updated pic (by request for my sister):

The first is the one we took just a few weeks ago, and I wore the same clothes to illustrate the difference. Whoa!

This is the first week people have started touching my belly, but so far it's all been people I know who already knew I'm pregnant and just "You're so cute!" and I'm okay with that. I've already decided that if a stranger ever tries it I'm going to do it right back and say, "Yeah, it feels weird that I'm doing this, isn't it? Same for me."

But with the bigger bump comes bigger movements. Grant can feel her through my clothes with just his hand. The first time it happened it freaked him out when he realized how big she was. I was thinking, "Dude, you snuggle with this belly every night. You've seen the size it's getting."

He likes to show me his bump too.

And it is pretty impressive, I must say.

I'm enjoying the joke while we're still the same size. In a few weeks I'll be able to neatly rest my fingers on my bump and his will disappear with a normal breath.

But that's okay. Deep down I'm even okay with gaining weight. I mean, I am pregnant so it's allowed. If I were just a newlywed faattie that'd be a totally different story.

But if you're pregnant, it's okay to outweigh your husband. Even if it is a little crushing to your ego and makes you hesitate to take pictures with him.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Difference between men and women...

Well, I'm pretty proud of the difference in our little apartment since converting it from the Farns' grad school bachelor pad to Casa de Farnsworth Familia, which I've already tooted here.

For Grant, there have been a lot of changes since we got married (for me too, naturally). Some of them are because being a bachelor is different from being a husband. Some of them are because living with a man is different than living with a woman.

Since he started working last week, I've taken the time he spends away from home to make our place a bit improved one project at a time. My first duly entitled "project" was the microwave. Something I've been meaning to get to since we moved in six weeks ago but haven't gotten around to somehow.

These pictures really don't do it justice. It was sick. I recommend clicking on it to expand the image to get the full effect.

So after a significant period of time on my tiptoes (the microwave is on top of the fridge because that's the only place we can put it that will let us plug it in somewhere that won't blow a fuse every time we want to use it and something else and in retrospect I should have stood on a chair for the task), some amount huffing and puffing (I might have even broken a sweat *blush*) and no chemicals to prevent asthma in our growing fetus (just hot water and a clean dish rag, ladies)...


Now it absolutely glimmers! Especially if you see the before and after side-by-side. In the immortal words of Joey Lawrence, "WHOA!" I feel like it's worthwhile to actually wipe up something that splatters while it's heating...a habit I've had for quite a while and felt gross about giving up but let's be honest, people. It was so disgusting I couldn't even tell when something I was taking out of the dang thing had splattered.

Grant is often bemused by things like how I feel soooo much better if the bed gets made and the sink stays wiped out. But even though he doesn't get how it could possibly affect my mood and make me so darn cheerful, even he noticed a difference in how sparkling and immaculate the microwave was when he got home from his first day of work.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mighty good man...

I just wanted to take a few minutes to say some things about a really amazing guy I know. I happen to be married to him. :)

From the moment he proposed, he has made it very clear that he takes his role as a husband very seriously and it's made him a great one. A pretty amazing one, actually, though he has always made great effort to be helpful whenever he's around. His attitude about marriage and his role in it has been a significant factor of the foundation we've built on that has made ours an incredibly happy one. He especially goes out of his way when someone's not feeling well...which is something I've really come to adore about him as I've carried his child! I could go on and on about the things he does that make my life easier and more comfortable, not just as a pregnant lady but as his wife and the object of his affection.

He takes dang good care of his little family and I really want him to know how much it means to me.

This week he started a new job downtown, doing the very un-Farns schedule of getting up at 6:50am and putting in 8 hours at an office. I wake up with him because I know it's probably easier for him to get up if he doesn't have to alone and to get us on the same schedule. I make him lunch while he gets ready and sit down and chat with him while he eats breakfast. The first day we got up and had enough time for me to make him pancakes but he decided he'd rather have cereal or a shake and the extra 10 minutes in bed. :) I walk with him the couple of blocks to the train to spend a few precious minutes with him before he leaves for the day and kiss him goodbye before he mounts the platform to the El...at least for now. That might be more challenging with an infant...and when I'm 17 months pregnant in the freezing Chicago winter.

So this is my public announcement of how grateful I am to Grant for all he does. He'll go out of his way to make you feel in all ways comfortable in his home, he changes tires when potholes reek havoc, he bugs you to take care of things that don't affect him but he knows will make your life easier if you do them, he hacksaws through U-locks holding bikes hostage when--ahem--someone has lost the keys to it, he fixes furniture and a million other things to go out of his way to be just an all-around swell guy. I know there are things he'd rather be doing with his time than slave away programming downtown, not the least of which would be sleep in and hang with me. But he's doing it provide for his family and he does it cheerfully.

Most of all, in word and deed, he makes me feel incredibly Loved by him every single day. If he's half as good at loving his daughter as he is at loving his wife this little girl is going to grow up convinced she's the Princess of the whole wide world...

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it many more times yet, but to quote the lyrics of Salt 'N Peppa, "What a man, what a man, what a man--what a mighty good man. Yes, he is."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Six degrees of seperation in action!


A long time ago (okay, really only six years but it feels like a lifetime ago sometimes) I was living in Jersey chillin' with some fellow nannies and 5 of us became pretty close.
Viola. Ashley, Joni, Kelli, Mindee and Karen. Kelli and I weren't members when it all started, but Joni, Mindee and Karen were all very vital players in the process that changed that. That God knows how to multi-task, I'm telling you! We actually only all lived in Jersey together (Karen and I even started out on the same dang street!) for a few months but in those few months we shared the sweet spiritual experiences that led to Kelli and me getting baptized.

Shortly after that sweet day, nannies started moving on to get married, finish school or just get away from lousy East Coast employers. Flash forward five years--I've been home from my mission for five months or so and I'm sick of missing all of my friends, so I take Labor Day weekend to go out West and visit them. And since I'm out there anyway, I decide what's another few hours of driving to hang out with Kel for a little while? So I drove up to her in Pocatello that Saturday night and spent Sunday with her. After church there was a gathering with some of her family's friends, including a couple just like Kelli and Scott attending ISU and expecting their first in a month or so, a little girl. We girls talked for a while around the kitchen table while the boys were...I don't remember what they were doing because I was having a dang good time! Kelli and her husband were good friends with this particular couple, they lived in the same building in an apartment on the floor beneath them and the wife taught the Relief Society lesson at church. It was a really nice day for all of us and I headed out of town early in the evening to make another pit stop before hoping back to Chicago.

Fast forward another year--I've married Grant and Kelli and I and this girl have all started blogs of our cute little families and we all have links posted to the blogs of other friends and family members who blog. Turns out, that super nice, super cute girl I sat with around Kelli's table last year is now totally my in-law! She left a comment on our blog mentioning it and I couldn't immediately figure out who she was until I navigated to her blog and saw her picture. When it came up Grant confirmed, "That's my cousin!" and even before he announced that I could see the family resemblance, and I have no doubt that our little girl will have similarities to their adorable little one.

I even clicked over to some of our other family members' blogs and was really excited to see the links of both our blog and my newly discovered in-laws' posted in the list together. Whoduv' thunk it?

When I told Grant's mom she simply said, "See? You were supposed to be in our family."

It's a dang small world! Or small church, however you want to look at it...

How neat!

Friday, October 10, 2008


*Disclaimer--this is not my stomach, it's just a picture I found to use for this post*

Okay, so we don't have feet imprinting from the inside out--but something SO cool happened last night!

I was talking to Grant's med school brother Seth who mentioned in passing how cool it was when he could start seeing their baby move from the outside while his wife was pregnant. I was very intrigued with this idea and started to wonder when/if we could actually see our little girl move. I mean, she's growing so quickly. She already weighs a whole pound and I can definitely feel a difference in the movements I'm feeling now and what I was feeling at first. She's totally getting bigger and stronger. A few days ago Grant was even able to feel her just with his hand (he usually puts his cheek on my belly) when she randomly started kicking waaaay up where I didn't even know my uterus had expanded to above my belly button.

So last night while Grant was playing with our new camera (yes, we bought a new camera even though both of us have great point-and-shoots we're having a dang kid and we decided before we even got married to blow some cash on a new camera before our first child was born) which turns out, only one person can do at a time. I had just laid down which meant that the disco ball in my womb turns on and baby starts to party like it's 1999. So, thinking about what Seth had said I pulled up my shirt and started watching my belly.

Turns out, you can totally see your own heartbeat on your stomach--neat hunh? So first I focused on watching that to get used to watching the rhythm of both that and my breath. But then, she started moving and I could totally see it! All of a sudden I'd see completely noticeable bumps from the inside! Some of them even knocked my pajamas. I kept saying to Grant how neat it was and finally convinced him to set the camera aside for just two minutes and watched.

He was skeptical at first, but then we had a HUGE one. He perked up with excitement and plunged his face down to settle it on my belly so he could feel her move. Which, was very effective and he felt her whole disco routine right on his cheek. Actually, she kicked him so hard at one point I saw his head jerk up off my belly.

It was the coooolest thing! I was tempted to take a video to post...but because by the time I got that far in my thinking she had calmed down a little and the inside bubbles on my skin were happening farther and farther apart and I knew it would take a while to get a perfect little video of it. And, let's be honest...my belly ain't the sexiest thing in the world even when it's not fat and pregnant-aited out. I decided to spare you.

So, now I'm much more happy about pregnancy. She's so active and I can feel it all the time and even see it sometimes. I'm also really glad that Grant can feel it too. This is totally the miracle of Life stuff everybody was talking about.

And I've decided that even though it makes me look like a big weenie and a whiner (which...I actually am, but pregnancy exacerbates everything from my bra size to my personality quirks) I'm glad that I'm so open about my complaints. I'm glad because every time I am, someone who's had a baby speaks up and says, "That totally happened to me! Here's my story..." And then I feel sane again.

So thanks to all my Mommy friends for sharing your horrors--I mean joys--about bringing your own miracles in! It helps me out a bunch to know that I'm not the only one!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You can't DO that to a pregnant woman!

I have always been a tender-hearted sensitive girl prone to cry.

But thanks to our growing baby girl, the waterworks just go absolutely bizzurk these days...

Sad stories do me in. But the worst has been when we watch a movie and romantic male lead dies. Twice in the past week I have turned to Grant at the end of the movie absolutely losing it, making him promise not to die before we're old (but I won't give away the movies so I don't spoil it for those who haven't seen them). When I say, "losing it" I mean it, man. We're talking full-out body-shaking sobs that leave the whole side of his shirt soaked with my tears and snot while I just let go.

But he's pretty great about it. He's never, ever once told me I'm acting a little pregnant and might be over-reacting. He just scoops me up in his arms and wraps me up in Love until I've calmed down, saying soothing things, smoothing my hair and stroking my back.

At least I know I'm not alone. I accompanied Grant downtown last week while he interviewed for a job he'll be starting next week and knowing I had at least an hour on my hands I meandered through a bookshop at the El stop we took and couldn't resist splurging on a copy of Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy (it's funny and true...but it is by Jenny McCarthy and thus not always exactly G-rated). She wrote all her weirdo pregnancy experiences down and used her celebrity status to make a few bucks in the process and one of the chapters was devoted to her sobfests, especially after movies. When she went to see Moulin Rouge by herself, people asked her if she was okay while the credits were rolling, she waited until the theater completely emptied out because she didn't want anyone to see that she had absolutely no composure over herself and she had to pull over when she tried to drive home because she just couldn't pull herself together.

And the movies we're watching are a lot better than Moulin Rouge (but don't get me wrong, I liked that one, too).

Grant and I have a pattern established with our Netflix and we get a disc of Friends in between every movie we get (only through the first season so far). I think we're going to have to very carefully evaluate the list of movies we get to prevent future meltdowns during the credits.

Actually, I think we might have to abolish movies entirely and space Friends out with some other sitcom.

It might be the only way to keep our tissue consumption at a normal level and prevent the salt water stains on his shirts from me bawling into his shoulder.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kids say the darndest things...

Grant and I were at Target yesterday to pick up a few things and while we were cruising the isles, a little boy about two and a half was drifting from his mother and wasn't paying attention to where he was going.

His mother noticed he was about to bump into me and said to him, "Be careful! That lady has a baby in her belly so we need to watch out."

The child stopped and stared at me in amazement. "A baby?" he asked.

I smiled (part because he was a cutie and part because I was relieved to look pregnant), "Yeah, there's a baby growing in my belly."

"I want to see!" He was delighted with this concept.

"Well, we can't see her right now, she won't be born until February--right on Valentine's Day." Though it didn't occur to me until a few minutes after this all happened that a two and a half year old doesn't remember when Valentine's Day is...

"Can't see her?" he asked, confused and almost a little sad. The whole time he split the focus of his eyes between my bump and my eyes.

"Nope, we can't see her yet, but she's right here," I told him, rubbing my swollen belly.

"Can I feel her?" he asked boldly.

I grinned again and nodded. He took the remaining step toward me and pushed both of his hands as high up as he could against the bottom of my belly before running away announcing to his mother, "I sqaushed her!"

Grant and I both chuckled.

He also let me drag him into the infants section to look at baby girl clothes--I'm pretty sure it's the first store we've been in since we found out it's going to be a girl. At first he protested, telling me "We don't have a baby yet." I puffed my belly to him and declared, "We have more than half of one!"

He actually even started showing me things. Though I think that may have partly to been to see if he could make me cry on site. However, he did seem a little taken with the tiny hats and noted, "Our girl is going to need that since she'll be born in the winter." Yeah, especially a Chicago winter.

I was thinking about the little boy for a long time after we got home. I wonder if he ever asked his mother, "But how did the baby get in her belly?" He was the younger of the children she had with her so I'm sure he hasn't seen his own mother pregnant with a sibling.

That will be an interesting conversation for them...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Battle of the Bulge Begins!

Elliptical machines have long since my best friend. When I started losing weight, first I concentrated on my diet and changing my eating habits and 20 pounds later I added 45 minutes a day on my employer's elliptical, conveniently located right outside my bedroom door. With the combination I took off another 70 pounds.

So I'm pretty excited to have one in our apartment!!

We "browsed" Craig's List just to see what was around and this one came at a pretty good price that we were even able to knock $50 off the asking price of! We looked it up and the average rating was 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon...out of over 200 reviews. And the work out gets me going just as well. Although...I do have to admit pregnancy and getting out of shape neglecting the gym for my husband's company have taken it's toll. I'm working my way back up to 45 minutes and I certainly am not near the resistance level I once had (but not because the machine isn't up for it!). I realized how bad it was getting while I was on the phone last week and I got winded because I was folding sheets while talking to my friend.

But, along with being around 10% of the cost of the one in my employer's basement this beauty has got something else the ones I'm used to working on don't and it is a beautiful thing. Complete silence. Not so much as a rustle. If someone wanted to watch TV while working out on the one my employers bought they had to turn the volume ALL the way up AND put on the captions because if the show had a quiet part you couldn't hear it. Not at all a problem here, folks! No joke, a baby could be sleeping in the same room and I can work out on this thing. Actually Grant could be sleeping in the same room and I can work out on this thing, and that's saying even more. In the words of James, the middle child of the family I used to work for: It. Is totally. Awwwwwwesome.

On our 2 month wedding anniversary Grant bought me a car.

On our 3 month anniversary, he bought me this sweet, sweet elliptical trainer.

For 4 months I hardly know what he'll pull out of his sleeve...not that I married him for his sweet, sweet gifts. Though, they are definitely a perk to being married to the Farns.

I do know that this machine is coming JUST in the knick of time. My latest weirdo pregnancy symptom is absolutely insatiable hunger! If Dieting were an Olympic sport, I'd be a gold medalist, I know the difference between actual hunger and eating because you're bored or know it tastes good and want more. But I will have my square meal and then an hour later or so my stomach will literally start growling! So I'll wait it off, just to make sure I'm not bored or have my mind on something yummy in the fridge I want to eat, but it just gets worse!

So. I'm giving in. I'll still eat healthy (when the pangs hit last night at 10 o'clock I had a plain salad with skinless chicken breast, thankyouverymuch) but dang it, I'm pregnant. If I'm legitimately hungry I think I should eat!

And thanks to my oh-so-sweet husband buying me this elliptical I can do it guilt-free.

Life is definitely goooood.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Babies on the brain...

I've had babies on the brain for quite a long time. I've always been inclined toward children and actually one of the reasons I pursued being a nanny was a love for having close bonds with children. I really miss all three of those kids and their unique personalities. Just before I left on my mission I was having lunch with a childhood friend and during our conversation I mentioned to her a change I was noticing in how I saw babies. "It used to be that when I saw a cute baby I'd go, 'Awww' and think 'I want one someday'. Now I see one and think 'I want one now'." She nodded and stated of her own experience, "It's true. There really is a biological clock ticking."

We were 23 at the time.

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, it's put a whole new spin on my perspective toward motherhood. First, it's just a little weird that suddenly my body is serving it's unique purpose. That Grant and I were able to put a baby together quite amazes me. Neither of us had any reason to believe that we couldn't...but it's still a little shocking to us that we did.

And since I found out I was pregnant looking at babies suddenly took on a whole new meaning in and of itself. I stopped sighing inside longing for one and realized with a little smile to myself that I was growing one.

Grant's attitude about it all really helps me look forward to it. A couple of weeks ago he was sitting across the room scrutinizing one of his tarantulas and I commented on the flow of thought I was having. "We're married." "Yup." "And. We're having a baby...that's so weird." He looked at me with a content gaze and told me, "That's amazing." I almost cried on the spot.

But...between the two of us I think I definitely think about her more than he does. I mean, I can't go too long without a physical reminder of what's going on. Whether it's walking past the mirror and noticing my bump, feeling her squirm around in there (most actively just after I've settled into bed to go to sleep) or taking my supplements with my meal I get reminded all the time that I'm pregnant. All that stuff is less noticeable to Grant, y'know?

Finding out we're having a girl also puts a new spin on things. Going through possible names has been an interesting endeavor...good thing we have until Valentine's Day to figure it out.

I also stop conversations with comments like, "Oh NO! We're having a GIRL! She's going to grow up and boys are going to want to DATE her! Uuuuuugh."

And we wonder which one of us God is playing a joke on by giving us a girl first. It could be me. I was sure He'd give me five boys since I've spent so much time complaining about them. It could be him, though. God certainly does have a sense of humor.

But of course, the overwhelming feeling we have is sheer delight. We're not just married, we're having a baby. And we're not just having a baby, we're having a daughter.

We can not wait to meet her!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's a GIRL!!!!!

We went to the ultrasound people today and now we don't have to call our baby "it" any more because we know we are going to have a girl!!!!!

We are so excited. Now we are all looking for girl clothes and a girl name.

I took my camera in there and used its video mode to try and get a shot of what was going on. I think it tells the rest of the story. We will try to scan the images they printed off for us soon and post them.

Our Finned Friend

Anyone who has known me since I was a child knows that before tarantulas, before academic decathlon, before computers, was the great obsession in my life: fish! (ok, this was after dinosaurs, just for full disclosure purposes)

It all began when I was 18 months old or something and my mother used to sit around with me watching the family fish for hours. But that's a different story, and honestly you have to ask someone who was old enough at the time to know about it now.

Although that hobby has sort of exited its active phase, it's still been coursing through my veins, latent, for many years. Once I get a real house, I'm also getting a fish tank. So far as a single man I have avoided starting up with the fish again. That's how much self control I have.

But then I married into a fish. Ashley had just recently bought this little betta before we were married. It's named flotsam. When I married her it was sitting around in one of those glass bowls that's actually a flower vase withthese marble-rocks being sad. Why was it sad? It was sad because it was breathing its own ammonia and nitrates and getting really sick. and there wasn't much oxygen in there. Frequently it would hurle itself against the glass in a way that made us get out of bed and wonder what the heck just went bump.

Anyway we were at walmart and we totally found this fish tank with a filter, hood, light, etc. $10. So we bought it. Contrary to popular opinion, the primary purpose of undergravel filters is not to trap particles that float around in the water in the gravel (which ours totally does not do because our substrate is so...course), it's to push water continuously past a solid surface. When a solid surface, such as the surfaces of our pebbles, has water pushed continuously past it, colonies of bacteria grow on the surface which eat ammonia and nitrates and keep your fish healthy. People who have bettas and they always die are probably killing them with ammonia poisoning. The bubbles associated with this kind of filter and other bubblers add oxygen to the water. They don't do so directly despite popular opinion, but by stirring up the surface of the water, which is where the oxygen is mostly absorbed.

Anyway, our little fish tank is ammonia free with a nice bit of bacteria working its magic and well oxygenated. Flotsam doesn't do kamakazi moves against the glass any more and to our eyes seems to be a pretty content little fish. Such a good investment. Thank you walmart.

We were so happy with the whole setup that we bought a little tankmate: a dwarf african frog. You can see it up in the front corner of the tank at the top. So cute!

Little things like this just somehow mean so much to our little family. Our little two bedroom life is so small in some ways, and yet so perfect.