October 2011


Twenty-Seven Weeks (9/26/2011):  I am due three months from yesterday (that means Christmas is very quickly approaching, if you haven’t done your shopping yet…).  Yikes!  Unfortunately, the start of this trimester was not great.  Not 2 hours into it, at 2am, I woke up with extreme back pain.  Not sharp stabbing pain, but a strong-dull ache from my jaw down both sides of my spine to my pubic bone.  I couldn’t get comfortable. Finally, after being up for 2 hours, I threw up which made me feel better and I was able to get back to sleep.  I hope this is all part of some mysterious illness that will go away tomorrow, because so far the third trimester is not going well at all. 😦

Smiling 🙂

Twenty-Eight Weeks (10/5/2011): Maybe I am destined to spend this trimester complaining.  Sorry in advance.  The morning sickness is back.  Not running to the toilet with chance of dehydration style, but wake up neaseated and can’t get going, don’t want to eat, total blahs until 10am style.  It’s pretty frustrating, but doesn’t make me want to get the baby out any sooner.  I am more than prepared to wait the 12 weeks to go, because I am TERRIFIED that the exhaustion I experience now is nothing compared to having two.  Praying for that super-adrenaline shot that comes along with new momma-hood.  That happened before, right?

Something good to report: I am back at yoga and loving it!  I am trying to work out every day, walking yoga or swimming, and my recent cold has reminded me of the extreme importance of doing lots and lots of kegel exercises.  I have been doing well with the advance planning for meals and have been getting dinner on the table each night at 6 – let’s see if I can keep that up!  Lots of date nights on the calendar for this month, so looking forward to that.

Bump, Bump, Bump. With pregnant Penang friends.

Twenty-Nine Weeks (10/14/2011):  I’m just going to vent for a minute…it’s not fair that my morning sickness is back, with a vengence, well into the third trimester.  Not fair that I haven’t slept through the night for various reasons (Miles getting up, sore back, having to pee, wanting to puke, or being hungry) in two weeks.  And definitely not fair that moms don’t get sick days!  Oh, to call in (to who?) and say, I am really run down today.  I need to take a day off.  I had no idea how good I had it with 30 sick days, 15 vacation days, a sabbatical every 5 years and only expected to be there 40 hours a week!  I have to say though, no one at AMD ever greeted me in the morning like my little man, mo-ninn mama.  I love my job!

Onto pregnancy news.  Did I mention this baby is crazy?  I am keenly aware of his/her position at all times, because barely 10 minutes go by without some major kicking action.  Still turning cartwheels, but the favorite place to kick has migrated to just above my belly button (which I’ll take over a blow to the pelvic bone any day!).  I also had another birth-dream: The birth was easy, and I was holding a little baby girl, who looked a LOT like my sister Mariel.  I was checking her over, fingers, toes, ears, eyes…and a penis?  This wasn’t a girl after all!  Anyway, I also got a name idea out of the dream, so we’ll see if that pans out to anything.

Thirty Weeks (10/22/2011): The sickness passed, and this week is much better.  I did lots of cooking, and eating!  There were four of us due in this 2 month period, and now there are three!  My friend Fi (far left in pic) gave birth to a (surprise) baby boy this week.  He is so sweet, but I am having some major anxiety about birth now.  Like up in the middle of the night thinking about it.  Not sure if its worse the 2nd time, to have an idea of what is coming, or if its the hospital with all it’s interventions that has me freaked out.  One thing everyone assures me – this labor will not be as long as with Miles (28 hours).  Well, I still have 2 months to go, no need to fret over something I can’t change.

30wks - Date Night bump.

Face, and a creepy open eye.

Foot (L), Cord & Hand (R)

Thirty-Two Weeks (10/31/2011):  I am missing a golden opportunity to paint my belly orange and go out in a bikini top as a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.  Oh well.  Another baby joined our group, meaning there is just one more friend to go before it’s my turn!!  The freak-outs and sickness stopped and I have had some good sleep the past week.  Feeling pretty good, although the belly seems to be getting in the way.  I have slammed doors on it, gotten stuck between cars, and almost put it in our oven a few days ago.  It’s definitely sticking out there.  Went to the doc last week and saw some chubby cheeks on a LONG (50 cm = 20″ already!) body.  I complained of all the down low kicking, but it seems the baby is now head-down but folded completely in half with the feet near the head.  Still lots of moving, but not of the quite as acrobatic variety.

Going out of this month with a much better outlook than I went in.  Thank goodness!  Everything is going well, and we MIGHT even have decided on names!  No spilling the beans, but all our likes (we have 2 for girls and one for boys) are 5 letters long.  Interesting, since Miles is also 5 letters.  The number of syllables varies, though.  OK, enough hints!  And no guessing!

32 Weeks

Oh, Baby.

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Here’s something orange for Halloween.  Tell you what I would do with it:  trick your kids into swapping you all their reese’s peanut butter cups and mini snickers treats for these much healthier alternatives!  There’s sugar on top, I’m sure you can pull it off.  No dress up, jack-o-lanterns or TorT here for us this year, maybe next year we’ll plan something.

Right, these muffins.  They are interesting.  It’s not a cakey type muffin; instead the sweet potato lends a chewy denseness that is quite pleasing.  The color remains pretty orange, even after baking.  I am convinced a sugar sprinkled top is the key to all delicious quick breads, especially when they are this healthy.  Miles gobbled these down.  Enjoy, and eat a PB cup for me!

Sweet Potato Muffins (adapted from Williams Sonoma)

  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 lb total), the deep orange kind
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest of one orange
  • 3 Tbsp cinnamon-sugar
  1. Peel (unless organic, then just wash thoroughly) and chop sweet potatoes into 1/2″ dice.  Cover with water and boil until soft, about 10 minutes.  Drain well.  Puree in food processor, then spread on a plate to cool quickly to a handle-able temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.  Prepare your muffin tins (I made 6 large and 24 small muffins) by greasing or spraying with non-stick.
  3. Whisk together flours, spices, baking powder and salt.
  4. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, milk and orange zest.  Add cooled sweet potatoes and beat until completely combined and smooth.  Add flour mixture and stir with a spoon until just incorporated (slightly lumpy).
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them right up (this stuff is too thick to run around the pan).  Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon-sugar.
  6. Bake 15 (small) to 25 (big) minutes.  Cool slightly then trade them for the good stuff.  OK, have one yourself too.  With butter, please.

Look at this cheeky little boy!  I am really relishing in his sweetness at this age, although “no” is more and more common, he really does have only pure intentions in his heart.  Love! ❤

  • Bean Counter.  Miles is learning to count!  He likes to count “beans”; a bean being anything smaller than a rock that is not a rock, like a seed or a pinecone, or a shell.  He extends his index finger and knows where to start: “unnnn..doooo”, it stops there and goes to erratic pointing at all the beans.  The other day he busted out with an “eight!” when I was counting and got past 7.
  • Who, What, Where?  This month, Miles developed standard answers to the W’s: Who? Ada. What? Apple. Where? Up.
  • Bus or Truck?  On the way to kindy each morning, Miles and I have a game.  He chooses one or the other, and I get the leftover.  Whoever sees their vehicle first “wins”.  He can also identify a motorcycle “mo-turrr” and a taxi.  This game was modeled after the game he plays with Tim each night: Bird or Dog?
  • Morning, Sun!  Each morning, Miles gets very excited at the appearance of a huge red ball over the sea “Dun!!!”  He waves and says good morning.  At night (and he discovered even during the day) he searches the sky for his second favorite, the moon.
  • Sleeping seems back on track, for the most part.  At least it is pretty consistent, 10 hours at night and 2-3 in the afternoon.  Thank you!
  • Food.  We started off the month with Miles insisting he would only take food off a spoon or fork he personally delivered to his mouth, and ended it with him dumping out the contents of any plate or bowl onto the table/floor eating only when we shovel it in for him.  Favorite food: fish!  And yes, I am a mom that hides veggies.
  • Potty!  Miles is using the potty for all his #2’s and I can take him out of the house without diapers for short periods if I explain he is not wearing diapers and he can’t poop or pee unless he is on the toilet.  Still uses (disposable now) diapers at daycare and during sleep.  But it is a step in the right direction.  Slowly, slowly.
  • Other…Miles LOVES to play in the sand, “beeeetch” is his favorite destination; favorite toys are a tea kettle & cups, bus with sesame st characters, anything with wheels; singing is also a great distractor, although he is most interested in new songs, I am constantly challenging my memory and coming up with something he hasn’t heard before; “preparation” for the new baby consisted of reading a story where the big brother’s bed was relegated to the new baby, we think he is getting it, because he HATES that book now and refuses to read it; naked time is all the time around here, as soon as we get home it’s shoes off, shorts off, dipe off (at Miles’ insistence).  Unfortunately, it’s extending to outside the home, hope our neighbors don’t mind a naked boy running around the pool!

One summer up at the cottage, our neighbor introduced me to Jello brand no-bake cheesecake.  A bit of melted butter goes into the crumbs for the crust, and you whip the powder with milk until thick, pouring into the pie plate on top of the crust.  Chill and enjoy.  So easy, and with the variety of flavors including French Silk, we were going for these almost every weekend up there.  I grew to love cheesecake (there was another incident I recall that involved the leftovers of a mixed-cheesecake platter in the back of our fridge, I remember how many pieces I ate, and I am not going to share that with you).  While I know the Jello boxed variety is far, far from kosher, I reminisce about the ease of preparation.

Fast forward almost 2 decades and I am no longer on the ‘processed foods’ wagon.  For one, I know it’s not healthy.  Two, in Malaysia, it’s not available.  So when I saw this recipe on my recent food blog obsession, My New Roots, I had to try it out.  Some of the terms might be off-putting or scary, so let me translate: ‘raw’ = no-bake (no hot oven in sticky Penang); ‘vegan’ = no $6 packs of cream cheese (no other expensive dairy either).  Also, how can I not feel good about serving this up to my play group and their tinies: dried fruit, nuts, honey as sweetener, antioxidants of berries, the miracle of coconut oil… The taste is not exactly Jello-style or cheesecake style but better: creamy, tangy, with a punch of salt from the crust. Healthy, delicious – I don’t even feel bad having this for breakfast!  Not that I ever avoided that in the previous no-bake arena.

No Bake ‘Cheese’ Cake (from My New Roots)

  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cup cashews, soaked 5+ hours and drained
  • Juice of 2+ lemons
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • seeds from one vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Berries or Flavoring (I used 3 Tbsp pomegranate syrup, but can also use 1 c fresh/frozen berries, 3 Tbsp cocoa powder, etc)
  1. Prepare a 7-8″ springform pan with parchment on the bottom, or line a pie plate with plastic wrap.
  2. Pulse dates, almonds and salt in a food processor until fine and crumbly.  Check that you can press it together with your fingers, if too dry, add a few more dates.  Pour into the pan and press to make a crust.
  3. Combine honey and coconut oil and heat gently until totally liquid.
  4. In blender, combine cashews, lemon juice, honey/oil and vanilla and blend until liquid and smooth.  She warns it takes a powerful machine to do this, but if your blender can make a frozen margarita, I bet it can handle it.
  5. Taste to correct lemon juice.  It should have a bit of tang to it.  I ended up adding another half a lemon’s juice.
  6. Pour 2/3 of the cashew cream on top of the crust and smooth.  Blend up the remaining cream with your flavoring, then spread that evenly on top of the other.
  7. Freeze until solid.  Remove 30 min prior to serving (or 10 minutes, if your “room temperature” is 85 with 100% humidity.  Slice, top with accentuating garnish (I chose pomegranate seeds, but you can go for other fresh fruit or chocolate shavings), and serve.
  8. Prepare to continuously assure your guests, no – there is no dairy in it.  Or avoid this confrontation by eating the whole thing yourself.

I told myself that I would look into daycare for Miles when I was 6 mo pregnant or he was 2, whichever came first.  Well, I was 6 months along last month, Miles was 19 months old, and I didn’t realize how ready I would be to get a tiny break in the mornings as well as a bit of reassurance that the new baby might get momma for a few moments, alone, each day.  So I looked around and found a little local Waldorf school run by the most patient and wonderful couple (their kids are also there).  While unfortunately Miles’ trial period at the school coincided with a major sleep regression ridden, needing momma laden time in his life, he took immediately to Teacher Lin and Uncle.  The first weeks were tough – I would drop him off for an hour a day and often he would cry, a lot, until I came back for him.  But they held him, and distracted him, and his friends reported on his progress (“Miles crying, misses Loworl”), and each day got a little better.  Friday I dropped off an excited boy (“Miles, where are we going?” “DIN-DY!!!!”), who walked away without crying (“Momma bye-bye”).  It was water play day, afterall, and there was a big inflatable pool all filled up.

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Tim loves veggie burgers.  We’d order them all the time in Austin.  After a waitress once stated “its better with bacon,” we made that our standard order.  You’d be surprised how many servers see no issue with a veggie patty plus bacon, I suppose its not an uncommon vice.  What we have learned from countless orders is that veggie burgers come in a wide spectrum of flavors and textures.  There’s the firmer TVP soy-based variety to the soft bean version.  You can get strong umami flavor of grilled mushroom, or a flat, bland paste that makes you extra glad you added bacon.  I’ve had similar results with at-home attempts.  The epic fail of an early Moosewood effort at lentil-walnut burgers to my crown glory of Cook’s Illustrated’s spectacular labor of love burgers I swore I could only make once due to the hours involved (but if you love a vegetarian, I do encourage you to give these a try).

Here in Penang, there’s not much in the way of burgers in general, let alone ones of the veggie persuasion, and I won’t even get started on bacon (its not really a thing here, with the majority of the country eating halal), so at-home will have to do.  And it did (does?).  Tim proclaimed these the best burgers he’s had in Malaysia.  The texture trends toward the looser, but the flavor is complex and deeply satisfying.  The masa harina crust adds a welcome crunch as well as a delicious Mexican note to compliment the chili powder and cumin.  Although we ate these as burgers, I called them patties, as I can see frying up little nuggets to fold inside a tortilla along with some guacamole and red onion to make fantastic tacos.  They will not work on a grill, but the mixture lasts a day or two in the fridge making for an easy indoor dinner.  I like these with avocado, sprouts, tomato and a smear of whole grain mustard.  I am going to go out on a limb here and say these don’t even need bacon.

Note: If you have some masa harina around from your forays with homemade corn tortillas, by all means, use it here.  It really adds something.

Black Bean Patties (adapted from Vegetarian Times)

  • 2 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp chili powder (for making chili soup)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 5 stems cilantro
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & Pepper
  • masa harina (or fine cornmeal), for coating
  1. Combine items beans through cilantro in a food processor.  Pulse several times until roughly chopped.  Add egg, salt and pepper to taste and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Pulse a few more times until mixture comes together, but still has a few chunky bits in it.  Move to a container and refrigerate.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add a coating of oil to the pan.  Form patties by the heaping large spoonful, coating each side with masa harina.  Fry for a few minutes a side, adding more oil as necessary, until crispy on the outside and heated completely through.  Remove directly to your waiting bun or tortilla, and enjoy.

Here’s Miles, with his lady friends.  Gorgeous girls, can’t blame him 🙂

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