Wednesday, June 30, 2010


i realize this is pretty laura ingalls wilder of me (fitting, considering my 2nd grade obsession with those books), but john and i have decided that we will be a CD family when the little one arrives. yes, that's right. we are going to use cloth diapers. (pause for gasping, general shocked expressions, laughter, disbelief and assorted other reactions) actually, i'm not too nervous about the process. my mom used cloth diapers for me and my five siblings, and she managed just fine. john's mom also used cloth and speaks very highly of the whole experience.

we arrived at this decision for a multitude of reasons, which i'm not really going to get into right now because i truly believe... to each his own. i've spent enough time on babycenter threads to realize that pointless name calling for people's personal choices gets you nowhere. and i'm not taking up advocacy for cloth diapering. it's just something i want to do.

but now, on to the dilemma. cloth diapers have come a long way since my mom and MIL were padding me and the hubs' behinds. back then, there weren't a lot of choices (i'm told), and the routine consisted of some gerber white cloths, pins and plastic pants. voila! done! double up at night and everyone was happy. fast forward 25 or some years and now there are a plethora of choices to make. should we get all-in-one diapers? they look like little pants and fasten with velcro or snaps, eliminating the need for pins and the top cover. if i go that route, should i invest in some inserts? (a cloth strip that's placed inside the diaper to catch the messiness and protect the diaper) how many inserts do i need? should i stick with the basic pre-fold? how many diaper covers will i need then?

the other issue is that a lot of places don't sell all the cloth diaper supplies you need. there are specialty websites you can access to stock up on the essentials (,, etc.), but mainstream retailers like target or babies r us have limited resources. you can get the all-in-one diapers, but no inserts. you can get cloth diapers, but no covers. i'm hesitant to shell out the money on a "diapering system." those run around $150-$300 and boast all the supplies you'll need to diaper your baby from the day you bring her home until she's potty-trained.  while i know that's much less than what i'd spend in disposable diapers, it seems like a lot of money to throw around when i'm not even sure if i'm going to like the particular brand.

after extensive research (and i do mean extensive), i've come to the conclusion that i should try a few different options and figure out which one i like the best. the good news is that the modern cloth diaper is both cute (see below)

and adorably named.  the little specimen above is a fuzzibunz, which also happens to be one of the most highly rated options out there. 
but anyway, if you're still awake, the point of this post was to inquire about your own experiences with cloth diapering.  do you know anyone who's used cloth?  do they have any recommendations?  if so, please let me know!  after all this diaper research, i'm (haha) pooped!

snakes and snails and puppy dog tails?

or sugar and spice and everything nice?

well, tomorrow's the big day... the 20 week ultrasound.  i seriously feel like it's christmas eve! 

guesses?  predictions?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


found a package of pork sausage in the freezer, and decided to check out a recipe from my williams-sonoma cookbook that i hadn't tried before.  it was excellent.  while eating i found myself reminiscing about our trip to italy last august (yeah, it was that good!)  even john agreed, and reminded me of that fabulous dinner we had for his birthday at this little hole in the wall restaurant in rome.  that meal culminated in the most amazing dessert to ever touch my lips: flawless tiramasu.  anyway, i'm getting all distracted; you can find the recipe here.  for convenience's sake, i've reproduced it for you.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

Ingredients:  (my adaptations appear after the asterisks)

  • 1/4 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs (*i used dry, store bought)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 lb. pork sausage, casings removed
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 large shallot, minced (*did not use; the little bean is not a fan of onions or garlic)
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Fresh marjoram leaves, chopped, plus whole  (*i used dried marjoram)
      sprigs for garnish
  • 3 garlic cloves (*did not use)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (*did not use)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large can (35 oz.) plus 1 small can (12 oz.)
      plum tomatoes, chopped, with juices
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb. spaghetti


To make the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk and mix well. Add the sausage, beef, egg, ricotta, one-third of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the shallot, nutmeg, cloves, a good sprinkling of marjoram and 1 garlic clove, minced. Mix briefly with your hands just until the ingredients are well distributed. Season well with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into small balls 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, pour in the olive oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. When it is hot, add the meatballs (in batches, if necessary) and brown well on all sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray to drain.

Discard the oil in the fry pan and wipe out any burned bits. In the pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs. olive oil, add the onion and sauté until soft and lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Slice and add the remaining 2 garlic cloves and sauté about 1 minute more. Add the wine and simmer until it is almost completely evaporated. Add the tomatoes and juices. Then add the broth and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the meatballs, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 7 to 9 minutes. Drain the pasta well and put it in a warmed large, shallow bowl. Add a sprinkling of chopped marjoram to the sauce, remove the bay leaf and pour the sauce over the pasta. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently. Garnish with the marjoram sprigs and serve immediately. Pass the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table.
Serves 4.
bon appetit!

Monday, June 14, 2010


i think the universe has its way of righting itself, in many respects.  i'm not going to take this so far as to say that i believe everything happens for a reason (because i really don't think that's true), but i will say that a lot of times it's surprising how things come about... how opinions, ideas and philosophies can change... how you might find yourself 180 degrees from where you started. 

but lest you think i was about to tap into my bachelor of arts in philosophy roots, here's a disclaimer: i'm just going to point out a few semi-ironic, semi-funny, interesting twists that i have observed as of late.

(1) remember several blog posts ago when i mentioned how i had observed teen gals getting in on the leggings as pants phenonmenon?  well, judgmental judy (me) is doing a little backtracking.  while on a maternity shopping spree with my cousin, i happened upon a pair of leggings with an extra large, low-rise stomach band and they are the most comfortable pair of "pants" imaginable.  can i wear them with a suit jacket to court?  is it appropriate to peruse the produce aisle of a grocery mart while donning preggings?  (john calls these leggings "preggings," as in leggings for pregnant people.)  how old is too old to wear preggings in public?  i know that heidi klum and nicole richie and all the other size 0 celebs are sporting preggings the whole 9 mos. (and beyond), but is this the sort of thing i can get behind in iowa?  or will it seem like i'm pretending to be 21 again?  i think the key is the top worn with the preggings.  it needs to be long enough to cover the entire expanding bump as well as the expanding rump, right?  but with both of those areas covered, am i in the clear?  if nothing else, i've already decided that it's acceptable for me to traipse around the house wearing my preggings with old t-shirts of john's.  if anyone comes to the door, i will either (a) hide -- depending on the identity of the caller or (b) explain that my mom and dad aren't home right now and i'm not supposed to talk to strangers.  thoughts?

(2) while at my parents' house for game 5 of the stanley cup, i became quite chilly and (gasp) stole a pair of grape colored sweatpants from my dad.  they are very comfortable and i have been wearing them all week (when i'm not at work and when i'm not wearing the aforementioned preggings).  now never in my life did i ever think that i would get to the stage where i was sharing clothes with my dad.  i also never thought that i'd become so much like him.  (i find myself lecturing my younger brothers and sisters with the same addages i've heard my dad mention time and time again).  but spouting off the same cliches as dad is not quite the same as borrowing fashion trends from him.  i am afraid that come november, i might be donning that plaid elmer fudd hat and matching jacket set of dad's that my sister and i teased him relentlessly about during christmas a few years back.  what's next?  blaze orange sweatpants in public?  a pheasants forever sweatshirt to a date night dinner?  i feel like this is a downward spiral, and i'm powerless to stop it.  the only thing i can say is that old "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" thing is becoming all the more real to me, and i'm going to stop judging because who knows where i'll find myself in a few months.

(3) tippin' the scale(s).  i am not a person who weighs herself regularly.  i know about what i weigh, from yearly physicals or from the occasional bout of boredom where i decide to hop on the scale at the gym, but truthfully, i could go approximately 365 days in between dates with the scale.  and it's not because i dread seeing the numbers.  i just don't really care that much.  if i feel good, and my clothes feel comfortable, and i'm happy, i'm not too concerned with my actual weight.  well... i wasn't too concerned with my weight.  now i seem to have an odd obsession with weighing myself and fixating on the new number that appears on the scale.  i am trying to keep this weight gain in perspective... but it is a tad unnerving.  i never thought i'd be the one weighing myself morning and night, just to see what, if anything may have changed during the course of the day.  ohhhh, how things change.

and speaking of changes... to snip or not to snip?  no, my husband is not considering a vasectomy just yet.  (we'll let this baby thing ride its course before we make any big reproductive decisions).  i have been considering the future of my wedding dress, and was thinking about having it made into a baptism gown (if the baby lives up to its aunts' hopes and wishes and turns out to be a girl).  thoughts?  i have tried, on two separate occasions, to commission my grandmother as seamstress, but she tells me she just can't bear the thought of cutting into my dress.  my aunt jana thinks i should re-think, too, because what if my daughter wants to wear my dress someday?  from the time it was cleaned and pressed following our wedding, my dress has been hanging, untouched at my parent's house.  i haven't even set eyes on it since we left for our honeymoon.  i loved the dress and it was perfect for the big day.  but the big day is over, and (see #3 above) i'm not getting into that dress anytime soon.  i can't really think of a good reason why i'd ever need it again.  and it could be a really special heirloom if i use it to make my daughter's baptismal gown.  (DISCLAIMER: if baby bean is truly a she.)  no final decision needs to be made just yet since the little one has not made his/her debut (and if the baby is anything like its parents, it will probably arrive fashionably late).  just throwing this idea out there.  let me know if you have any strong inclinations either way.

'til next time...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


there's this scene from the movie garden state, where zach braff's character says something like, "maybe that's all family really is.  a group of people who miss the same imaginary place."  the quote resonated with me the first time i saw the movie back in 2004.  i was in the beginning of my junior year of college, and i had reached that point where going home was wonderful and something i looked forward to, but also awkward because so many things had changed.  my little brothers and sisters were all growing up, and had their own lives and schedules, and during each visit, i seemed to reach a point where i would long for the "way things had been."  i think it was harder for me because i was the oldest, and i had this idea of my family and what was important, and selfishly, i guess, i thought that even though i was growing up and changing and becoming a new person, everyone else was going to stay exactly the same.  i believed i'd come home and share my exciting stories and adventures and a captive audience of younger siblings would hang on my every word.  it was something to take in when i realized they had their own adventures to share. 

since then i've always thought about this quote when i am struck by a big change or a conversation that leaves me wondering, "whooooo is this big, tall man discussing the stanley cup?  this cannot  be my baby brother, the little boy whose hand i held at the grocery store, this tiny baby whose diaper i remember changing."  when my sister got engaged on christmas eve, and my other sister and i danced joyfully around my kitchen, screaming and shouting and toasting with champagne, i remember a split second where i thought back to this time in grade school.  my sister and i would pretend to be vacationing at some exclusive resort with our "husbands."  we'd be in the "lounge" of the resort (aka, my parents' living room) and we'd have this conversation complaining about our make believe husbands and how we deserved a night out while they watched our babies (dolls) upstairs.  and i thought whoooaaaa... how everything comes full circle.

it's a beautiful, sometimes slightly painful, but really wonderful process to watch these little people become bigger people with dreams and goals and personalities and buttons that get pushed.  i guess i'm speaking about my siblings like they're my own children.  and to an extent, i always think of them that way.  the oldest of six kids, i was made to be responsible for my brothers and sisters at a young age, and, as i remind them from time to time, i can't just turn that off. 

it's unbelievable how fast times goes by.  i look at pictures of my youngest brother from his birthday last august, and in the span of another school year, he seems to have become someone new.  he now towers over me (but at 5'2", most people do) and he has opinions and goals and decisions to make.  yesterday, while we were sitting around enjoying a cook-out at my parents' house, i thought, i wish this could all slow down.  my siblings are eager for their next big adventures and are anxious for all the wonderful things the future holds.  cathy is planning her wedding, chris just moved into a new house with his friends and got a new dog, marty is off to ames tonight with my husband for his orientation at iowa state, jessica is settling into her own with a bustling social life and college decisions looming on the horizon, and clayton is gearing up for summer hockey and the thought that soon he won't be a freshman in high school anymore.  as i watch them confront all these new changes and challenges, part of me wishes time could stand still, just for a little while, so we could all enjoy more of those family walks on sundays that we complained about when we were younger.  maybe a few more family dinners where dad made us eat ridiculous portions of spinach and beets.  maybe just one more family vacation to canada, where there seemed to be endless fighting, but later we'd treasure the trip as a favorite childhood memory.  maybe just one more afternoon spent wading in the creek south of our house, pretending we're enjoying the amenities at some private beach.  between everyone's work schedules, sporting events and social obligations, it's rare that we all get to spend a day or weekend together. 

i find the little one in utero makes me a little emotional these days, so maybe this reflecting is related to that, but i already feel slightly overwhelmed about losing precious moments.  i feel like i wasn't careful enough to treasure all these special moments and times that i was given growing up in a wonderful family with two parents who loved and supported me and five siblings who were my closest confidantes.  i find myself searching for ways to slow things down when my baby arrives in november.  i'm so busy now, with weddings and birthdays and graduations and firm obligations that weeks and months pass by in the blink of an eye.  all of the sudden, i am coming up on my one year anniversary with the firm.  i'm a practicing lawyer, licensed in two states, and i am often struck with this thought... where did this all come from?  i am truly blessed and lucky to have the husband, family and friends i do, but sometimes i wish i had more time to appreciate them.

i am a litigator.  i work in a fast-paced environment where there are always briefs to be drafted and motions to be filed.  more and more, i find myself waking up in the night thinking about x, y and z that have to be accomplished the next day.  i'm so focused on the tasks at hand that i feel like i'm missing special moments that i should be treasuring.  i feel like so much of my life is controlled by this never-ending to-do list.

maybe it's enough that i pause long enough to type this blog entry, to think about the people who have supported me and loved me and helped me get to where i am today.  maybe just recognizing that i am blessed and that i need to prioritize these moments of reflection is enough.  or maybe it's not.  i don't know.  there is the fear that i'll wake up in 30 years, maybe on the day of my son or daughter's wedding and think, "ooohhhh shiiiit.  i wish i would have stopped to smell the roses more."  the whole career vs. family thing is a constant mental struggle that i don't think will ever go away.  it's about working at the balance over and over, and it's not an exact science.  i struggle with it now.  i know it won't be easier after my maternity leave ends.  and i can't help but feel anxious about it, but then wasting time feeling anxious is so unproductive.  this summer i am working really hard to treasure the special moments that come along, no matter how busy and hectic my calendar gets.  i'm not great at relaxing.  i'm used to deadlines and events and schedules, and when i stop to sit quietly for awhile, i often feel uncomfortable, as if taking time to breathe, to pause is "cheating."  i'm trying to be better with this.  i really am.  i hope that everyone takes the time to treasure the beautiful moments of wonder that we all experience.  maybe this blog will help me to do just that.