Saturday, November 29, 2008

Humble Pie

Since we got married, Court and I have rotated celebrating the holidays with each set of our parents. If we spend Thanksgiving with my parents, we celebrate Christmas with his. The following year, we switch which set of parents gets us for which holiday. Following me so far??

If we were to continue this schedule of celebrating in 2008, Thanksgiving would be spent with Court's family and Christmas with mine. However, because I am so close to my due date and we don't know when Grace will make her debut, Court and I are unable to make the drive to Boise for either holiday. So this year, we decided to host Thanksgiving and invite both sides of the family to our house.

This was a huge undertaking on my part (and a brave one on the part of all the family members who agreed to join us) as I have never so much as watched my mother prepare the Thanksgiving meal, let alone cook any part of it! Not to mention that I was going to do this all while 9.5 months pregnant!

Just like we love us some cake, we also love tradition and the Thanksgiving meal is packed with family tradition. We always have turkey but in recent years we've upgraded the turkey to a brined turkey which is heavenly! I highly recommend it if you haven't tried it. We always have bread dough pancakes for breakfast - an Armenian tradition - rolls made from homemade bread dough and butter noodles made from scratch. A few years ago, we added a sweet potato souffle to the lineup that has quickly become a family favorite. And, of course, the staples - stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies, salad and cranberry sauce. Dessert is always a plethora of goodies - cheesecake, spice cake, cookies and since I was in college - birthday cake - so we could celebrate my birthday while we were all together. It is a FEAST and according to my mother, it takes days of preparation!
I don't think I was mentally or physically prepared for the amount of preparation that goes into a meal of this magnitude. Luckily, my parents realized the absurdity of me cooking the entire Thanksgiving meal by myself, so my mom flew in a few days early to give me a hand. Thank God she did!! I don't know how the holiday would have turned out had reinforcements (my mom, dad and sister) not shown up a bit early to help!
My mom insisted that we start setting the table as early as Tuesday. We hand washed all the china, spread the table cloth, folded the napkins and searched my cabinets for serving platters, bowls and other needed cooking utensils. Of course, I was missing a lot of the essentials (as I had never done this before) so at 4 pm, we made a last minute run to Wal-Mart to buy things like candles, matches, platters, etc. Wal-Mart, one of my least favorite places on Earth, was utter chaos and my body, weighted down by 9 months of pregnancy, barely made it out of there in one piece. I was so relieved to get home, put my feet up and not have to go anywhere. Being on my feet all day, particularly the jaunt to Wal-Mart, caused my feet to swell beyond all recognition.

Wednesday morning, the cooking began! I made a Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake and my mom tackled the homemade bread (for bread dough pancakes and rolls) and the family favorite, Tex Mex Dip!! (Not the most traditional dish but definitely one of the most loved!!) Wednesday also included my dad, sister and brother all rolling into town - all bearing "gifts" for the feast. My dad brought the turkey all the way from Boise and my sister brought beautiful flowers from Seattle as well as many items one can't get at the local Safeway. Like I said, my family was key in making this a beautiful, EDIBLE meal!!
The big day finally arrived and I woke up REALLY early to get breakfast rolling. Much to my surprise, no one wanted any breakfast. They were all saving themselves for the main meal. So after shuttling all the breakfast stuff back into the fridge, it was time to start the turkey!

The general idea was to eat at around 4 pm with our guests arriving at around 2 to leisurely enjoy cocktails and appetizers. As with every holiday meal, this is not exactly how things went...

As I was the hostess, the turkey was my responsibility. At 11 am, the bird went into the oven making Thanksgiving officially under way. According to the directions, the several cookbooks I read - even Oprah - the turkey was supposed to be ready at 3:30. Perfect! That would allow time for the turkey to rest and then to be carved. So far, right on schedule!!

Everyone pitched in and helped prep all the side dishes. It required a lot of organization, effort and energy but I was having fun, especially with my family in the kitchen helping me. So far, all was going well and all was on schedule to arrive on the dinner table promptly at 4 pm.

But things didn't go according to plan - which they never do I have learned - on these momentous holiday occassions. Guests didn't arrive until after 3 pm and the turkey was done at 2 pm!! Or at least, I thought it was done. The meat thermometer indicated that the turkey had reached the desired internal temperature so I pulled it out, tented it in foil and hoped for the best. As I scrambled to get the rest of the other dishes pulled together, I set Court and his father to the task of carving the turkey. Much to my surprise, they announced the turkey was not done! Now the timing of the ovens and all the side dishes were thrown off - all the planning and organizing of how to cook 6 to 7 side dishes in two ovens was officially worthless and now we had to wing it. (Not my strong suit in the kitchen!) Being 9.5 months pregnant, stressed and hungry - I was, to say the least, a little emotional. But as my father has always told me, when you start crying, your brain stops working (he could write a book of these one liners I swear), so I pulled it together.

Even with the turkey snafu, with the help of my mom and sister, we were seated around the table by 5 pm, with warm food and slightly overcooked turkey in front of us! Although, I was upset that things hadn't gone the way I planned, all were fed and all were together so I will consider this a successful first attempt at hosting Thanksgiving.

I do have a whole new appreciation for what my mom has done the last 28 years - making the Thanksgiving meal all by herself WITH NO HELP! I give kudos to all those out there who silently trudge through the holidays, cooking, baking, prepping, washing, cleaning, etc. - all for a meal that takes less than a half hour to consume.
A BIG thank you to my mom for sharing all her secrets and for her endless energy, to my dad for his nose - he is able to smell when the turkey is done, my sister for helping me maintain my calm and for some comic relief and to Court, for doing ALL the dishes. I will never forget my first Thanksgiving as being hostess and I couldn't have done it without my reinforcements and a few bites of humble pie!

Friday, November 21, 2008

We're Baby Grace?

Much like Shelby in Steel Magnolias, pink is my signature color! Hopefully, it is Grace's too!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All Signs Point to Go

The ultrasound revealed that Grace is in the correct position to activate launch...I mean... delivery. This is good news because as much as a c-section would make life easier by allowing me to plan for her debut, I wasn't too excited about being sliced open. Sleepless nights have had me up watching shows like "Critical Delivery" on the Discovery Health channel and let's just say it probably is not a good idea to watch these types of television programs when you are three weeks away from delivery.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The End is in Sight

Thanks to CNN, Court and I learned a valuable parenting lesson this morning...

Don't let your kid near the edge of cliff!!

Now that that lesson has been safely tucked away in our new parenting brains let it be known that we are officially 30 days away from Grace's due date. The end is in sight!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Best Day Ever!

Three years ago, Court and I had the perfect day. We walked down the aisle in the beautiful Napa Valley. It was the best day of my life...

luckily, each day gets better and better!

Court, thank you for being an amazing husband. I love our life!

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ratatouille - kind of

I have long told my sister, Molly, to write a book. The strangest and funniest things always seem to happen to her. I swear if she were to write a collection of short stories of all the things she has seen and experienced, the pages would stretch from here to Seattle and back!

Because Molly won't write them down, I am am taking it upon myself to steal them. Yep, that's right. Because strange, funny and bizarre things RARELY happen to me and seem to always happen to her, I might just have to blog about her life to keep things interesting. (Besides, how much talk about pregnancy can one really endure - I know I am sick of it!)

So here goes the first of Molly's life adventures....

Last night Molly and a friend went to dinner at one of our favorite Seattle restaurants, Cedars. Some of you Seattleites/UWers might know it. It is on 50th in the University District and serves Indian food at college student prices.

So Molly and her friend finish their dinner and are getting ready to pay when the "decor" on the walls starts moving. (Mind you, the decor is a GIANT spider plant that has lived in this restaurant soooo long it now winds around the entire restaurant several times.) So the decor starts to move and out from the spider plant jumps a RAT! Yes, you read that correctly. A RAT! It jumped out of the plant and down onto one of the patron's tables and scuttled around the packed dining room. Molly - shocked and disgusted - screams "RATTT", jumps up and heads for cover. The owner quickly runs over to Molly to shut her up. To calm her down says, he says, "Don't worry. It was just a rat. Happens all the time."

WHAT?!? Happens all the time?! Not being able to hold back her shock and utter disgust, Molly tells the owner that having a rat in a restaurant is disgusting. Just for background, Molly and her friend have taken cover near the exit while everyone in the restaurant continues calmly eating. NO ONE else was alarmed by the fact that a rat was flying through the restaurant. In fact, one hippy-esque customer said loud enough for all the diners to hear that rats are one of the cleanest animals and that there was nothing to worry about. Yeah, that is why rats are directly linked to some of the most deadly diseases. Does the Black Plague ring any bells??

Molly and the owner continue to discuss the situation and Molly assumes that after such a horrifying experience, one can't be expected to pay? Can they? Well, the owner, now livid that Molly might be walking out on her bill, claims that all restaurants in Seattle have rats and that Molly must pay for her meal.

Molly, still horrified and verging on pissed off, reiterates that having a rat in a restaurant is disgusting. Her friend chimes in that this incident is on par, if not worse, than finding a hair in your food and one certainly is not expected to pay for that! The owner, who obviously can't fathom Molly's shock and awe, literally starts yelling at Molly to pay, calls her disgusting and then tells Molly she is no longer welcome in the restaurant. WHAT?!?!

Let's review. A restaurant - which is by no means clean to begin with, rat or no rat - just had a rat run through it's dining room, ON THE TOPS of tables while people are eating and Molly is the disgusting one who is no longer welcome to the restaurant? Where's Ashton? Where's the candid camera? Is this really happening?

Yes, in fact this did happen. At some point today, Molly plans on posting comments on and other websites that review restaurants - including the Department of Health. She's already sent something into the Stranger. I'll have to get more details because I can't wait to see what she writes. I will keep you posted.

Obviously, Molly will never go back, nor will I and I encourage anyone else who knows the place to keep moving.

Now isn't that story a bit more exciting (and tummy turning) than a quick story about how my fingers are so big and fat I can no longer wear my wedding rings or how the iron supplements I have to take make me nauseous?? Thanks Molly!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

35 Week Update

Yesterday, we had our 35 weeks appointment. Nothing too exciting to report except that I had my Strep B test (I will spare you the nasty details) and that the doctor still can't tell whether Grace is in the proper position to prepare for birth.

At our next appointment, the doctor will perform an ultrasound to see which way she is facing. The "hope" is that her head is down and her face is pointing towards my back...BUT...if she is breach, we could schedule a c-section instead of waiting around for her to make her debut. I am not worried or concerned (too much) about labor and delivery - it is the NOT knowing when she is coming that is driving me crazy! I mean, how am I supposed to to plan her coming home party when I don't know when she is coming home?!?!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Here!

Almost 30 years ago, my mother started a music box collection for me. Over time, it gradually grew and contained mainly Beatrix Potter characters like the one below. After telling my parents that I was pregnant, my mom packed up all of my music boxes for us to put in Grace's nursery - to carry on the tradition. Benjamin Bunny
(Send in the Clowns)

Much to our surprise, my parents also gave us THE most adorable and precious cradle a new baby could possibly rest her head in!

It arrived on Monday and we put it together Tuesday night.
(Luckily, it was much easier to assemble than the crib - there are no injuries to report.)
Doesn't this look familiar? How perfect is that!!

A BIG thank you to my mom and dad for adding just the perfect touch to Grace's nursery.
The cradle will be treasured and will hopefully be passed down to the generations to come.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thoughts on Election 2008

I am not usually one for politics. When the topic turns to politics at the dinner table, I usually tune out. They might as well broadcast one of those emergency warning tests that they play on the TV every now and then. "This is a test. This is only a test. Were this an actual emergency...


But this election is different. This election is far too important to bury my head in the sand and look the other way. Too much is at stake. The wars, the economy, the national deficit, our health care and education systems, a woman's freedom of choice! This time around, I am paying attention. I am interested.

I think I would be interested in this election regardless of being pregnant but part of my interest does stem from the fact that I am about to bring a child into the world. And like every parent before me, and every parent to come, I want the best for my child. I want her to grow up, to the extent possible, in a stable, healthy world. A stable and healthy world starts with choosing a stable and healthy leader.

I am not going to use this forum to tell you who to vote for (Obama) or who I am voting for (Obama) or why I think Sarah Palin as a VP is the scariest thing since... since...the absolute scariest thing you can possibly imagine! I'd like to - but I won't. Not here.

What I will leave you with is that by the time Grace is born, there will be an African-American or a woman in the White House! How amazing is that?! No matter your thoughts on the candidates this is an amazing turn of events for our country. Grace and all children her age will grow up not knowing any different. How that broadens one's perspective! How amazing to be a young black child and see Barack Obama as your President...and how as a young girl seeing Sarah Palin would cause you to think that someday you too could be President of the United States. (There. I did it. I found the silver lining of a McCain/Palin victory. *sigh of relief*)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

We may have taken it a bit too far...

Last night was Halloween and we had a spooktacular time. We went as Juno and Bleaker from the movie Juno.

Court can be seen here demonstrating how tough pregnancy is on a physically (and mentally) strong a man must be in order to endure nine long months.

If he only knew...

The cast of characters for the evening included:

Joe and Aimee

(80's Rapper and Minnesota Girlscout)

Tim and Kari

(Old Mexican Man and Cheerleader)

Amy and Jeff

(Devil and Hamburgler)