Friday, September 30, 2011

World's best french toast recipe

It's General Conference weekend, my friends. A time for inspiring messages to help you stand a little taller, and decadent breakfast foods to make you feel a little fuller. This is my all-time favorite french toast recipe (coming from a girl who hated the stuff all growing up). I don't have any photos to tantalize you with--some things mustn't get cold in a photo shoot--but it looks something like this:

And makes you feel a little like this:

Sadly, we won't be making it this year--it calls for Great Harvest cinnamon swirl bread, and our nearest is a nearly an hour away--so make a batch or two for me, will you?

Best French Toast Recipe Ever

Mix together:
4 eggs
2/3 cup cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Dip slices of Great Harvest cinnamoon swirl bread into egg mixture and cook both sides on a hot griddle. Slather in that amazing buttermilk syrup recipe that you probably already have, but I'll post below just in case, and then add a dollop of whipped cream and then some banana and strawberry slices (to keep it healthy). Makes enough for 6-8 really thick slices.

Best Buttermilk Syrup Recipe Ever (you know this already)

Melt together in a pan on the stove:
1 cube butter
1 cup sugar

Then add:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla or maple flavoring

Continue stirring over medium heat until it gets all frothy white. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The birth story

Turns out this is kind of a long story. Whoops. (Also, I love parenthesis. You'll see.)

This story starts back in May. I attended a Mother's Day charity brunch and won the "expectant mother" raffle package. It included a few onesies, a couple of those decorated burp cloths that are cute but I don't really get, a carseat cover, and a hypnobirthing course. At that point, all I knew about hypnobirthing was that my coworker had done a similar program with her births. She had such a positive, empowering view of birth (even after two long, difficult deliveries of her own), that I was excited to learn more.

Ryan and I started attending the classes, and we were hooked. Total game changer. Did you know people who are allergic to anesthesia have used hypnotherapy to get through crazy surgeries? I'm talking slicing-and-dicing, hammer-and-chisel type surgeries. Incredible. Ryan and I started practicing relaxation methods that would help during the delivery. (Looking back, I wish we had practiced more diligently, but the little we did helped us immensely.)

Meanwhile, I began having doubts about the midwife I had been seeing. When I asked more details about the logistics of the actual delivery, she started throwing around some interesting stats. More than half of her patients were induced. Fifty percent of her deliveries ended with episiotomies because of sudden drops in heart rate. I'm not an expert, but those numbers sounded high. She assured me that she would only induce me if my water broke before going into labor, which doesn't happen often. Surely it wouldn't happen to me. But Ryan told me to go with my gut, so, at 35 weeks pregnant, we switched to a new doctor.

Fast forward a few weeks, and what do you know? My water broke at 2:00 on a Sunday morning. (My gut is so smart sometimes.) We were so excited. Free pass out of teaching sunbeams and sunday school! No correlation meeting! Oh, and right. We were gonna have a baby! Plenty to be excited about.

I started having contractions, but they were pretty random. Three minutes, then seven, then twelve, then two. I relaxed in bed while Ryan packed half our house to go to the hospital. We waited until 6 to start calling around--first the doctor (who said we could hang out at home until the contractions started coming more regularly), then our parents (who said get thee to a hospital are you sure you don't have to leave right now?), and finally the missionaries (who said woohoo we'll teach your classes).

Then we hunkered down and started watching movies. There was Stardust, then Nacho Libre, with Ryan faithfully timing the contractions (which were coming every 4-8 minutes) on his phone. By around 1 p.m., we were getting a steady stream of texts from family that either said
  • "so-and-so said that at such-and-such hospital you have to be admitted x number of hours after your water breaks so what are you waiting for?" or
  • "SO EXCITED!! CAN'T WAIT!! LOVE YOU :) :) :) :)"
  • or both.
Dr. Peterson (our OB) called to check in on us (and also to see if she could teach her primary class or if I would be having a baby then), and we decided to meet up with her after church at her office. (Seriously how nice was that? To open up shop just for us? I love that woman.)

She checked me a little after 4, and I was dilated to a 4. No fever, no infection, but also not much progress. We decided to head back home and prepare for an early morning delivery. On the way home from her office, my contractions started coming every 5 minutes or so. We stopped at my mom's house and had dinner. The contractions started coming every 4 minutes or so. We drove back to Katy and straight to the hospital. By then, the contractions were every 3 minutes.

I was so excited. He was finally coming! But when they checked me, I was only dilated to a 5. At that rate, it'd be another 7 or 8 hours before we'd have our little boy. Which was fine, I thought. Up until that point, I was able to relax and the contractions had been fine--tight, but not painful.

Soon after we checked into the hospital, I started to feel some pretty intense pain in my lower back. I tried to use the hypnobirthing techniques to relax, but I was having trouble focusing. After only a few contractions like that, I decided I couldn't handle that kind of pressure for 7 or 8 more hours, so I told Ryan to get that anesthesiologist in there, pronto.

While we were waiting (they said it would take him 30 minutes to arrive), I couldn't shake this overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom. I absolutely had to go. In my mind, if I could just go to the bathroom, all this pressure would be gone, and then there would be room for the baby to come. (I'm really good with human anatomy, if you couldn't tell.) I was all ready to go through with my plan when the nurse came in. She pretty much had to pry me from the bathroom and drag me to the bed, where we discovered I had somehow gone from a 5 to a 10 within the half hour.

I was immediately relieved, mentally and physically. You mean I don't have to do that for another 8 hours? I was back in control. We sent the anesthesiologist away, called the doctor, and then nurses started streaming in. Ryan was such a champ. He kept telling me how good I was doing, how much he loved me, how proud he was of me. Made me feel like I could birth a buffalo, I felt so good. But, yes, a baby would be better.

The pushing began, and the pressure from before was gone. I just kept visualizing our sweet boy in our arms. I can't say how long I pushed for--everything seemed to happen so fast to me--but in retrospect it must have been awhile because he wasn't born until 9:50 that night. I just remember the room being very quiet, with us chatting a bit in between pushes. At one point, they had me feel the tip of his head that was poking out. It was like a warm wet nerf ball--super soft and super strange.

With my last push, Dr. Peterson helped to pull him out with her hand. According to Ryan, it looked like his head was being crushed like a sponge (and where was his brain?!), but he didn't say anything because how do you word that without making the lady on the bed freak out? (Excuse me, but did you just deflate my son's head like a balloon?) Plus, it all happened so fast.

Everything was suddenly perfect. One moment he was just the tip of a nerf ball, and the next he was our son. In our arms. Red skin and wide eyes. This little life that we created. We were in awe of it all.

Ryan cut the cord--which has produced a beautiful belly button, I might add--and not long after, my mom came in to meet him and take the photo above. The next day we settled on his name. Beau Ryan Tingey. Fits him perfectly, the way he fits us.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's a Beau!

If we're not facebook friends (why aren't we??), then you may not know that the belly from my last post became the baby boy of this post. Two months and two days ago, to be exact. We tried our hardest to get him to hold out til 7.11.11, but he wouldn't have it and came a few hours short.

So much and so little has happened in the last two months. So much (he came! he cried! he rolled! he smiled!) and so little (we feed him. we put him to sleep. we clean his dirties. over and over.) that I don't know where to begin. But here's a start:

**Beau loves techno. Ryan's brother made a few songs on garage band before leaving on his mission (miss you, drew!), and only bouncing can rival the calming powers of those electric rhythms.

**Beau has peed on us about 23 times. He looks so innocent in his newborn photos, but 5 of those times happened during that photo shoot.

**When Mother Goose retires, Ryan would make an excellent replacement. The impromptu rhymes he sings to get Beau to calm down at night are pretty epic. Almost as good as Megan's "throw, throw, throw your beau" rendition.

**Beau sees dead people. He'll be looking right at you and then his gaze will turn to just above your right shoulder and change into a look of horror. This makes night feedings particularly spooky.

**I almost can't handle how sweet this little guy can be. When he curls up and falls asleep on your chest? It's over. Nothing sweeter. Except for maybe when he sighs in his sleep in your arms. Melt my heart. (Just one thing though--what's he doing in your arms? Give him back already.)

Anyway. Like I said, just a start. Up until now, the big battle has been Beau vs. the blog, and it's pretty obvious who won out there. But seeing as how Beau's got grandparents who live a gazillion miles away, I don't think I'm allowed to keep all this cuteness to myself anymore. Consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And the payoff

Thank you for all the comments! We're slowly making some ground here, and your suggestions are helping a ton.

Now. A deal's a deal, so let's start with this fancy glamor shot I took using my laptop's web cam at 11 o'clock last night, shall we?

Ow ow. Y'all are lucky I got dressed that day.

I'll put up some stories and ultrasound photos next -- just keep those ideas comin'!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The great bribe

If you're still stopping by here every so often, it's most likely in the hopes that I've either a.) posted a pregnant picture or b.) written something riveting about our lives. Meanwhile, I'm busy trying to figure out babyland and what stroller is lightest, whether or not a travel system is necessary, if crib bumpers are deadly or just cute, and what brand of everything is the best.


I'm proposing a bargain.

For every comment you leave that includes a tried-and-true (by you!) baby product recommendation (or stay-away-from-ation), I will post either a belly photo, an ultrasound photo, or an anecdote from our recent lives (and let me tell you, we've been exciting lately). I will also accept life-changing (cannot live without!) baby book recommendations, baby name recommendations (but only the awesome ones will count), and other general tips/tricks that have made your children brilliant and you fabulous.

You might think my proposal's pretty selfish -- that I will get far more out of your recommendations than you will out of seeing my 33-week baby bump.

You obviously haven't seen me pregnant yet.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pretty great

In the past couple months, we:

*visited some great sites and friends in a new city

*went to the greatest rodeo on earth

*fell in love with bread pudding

*won a pretty great door prize (42" wide)

*planted a garden

*made the world's greatest french toast

*drove to the coast

*uncovered a box of treasures

*listened to a prophet

*felt our son kick for the first time

Hope to share more details soon.

And maybe one reason you shouldn't move to Houston

Unless you're a fan of 3-inch cockroaches stopping by for a visit in the kitchen.

Don't worry. The situation is under (pest) control.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why you should still move to Houston

Just in case you thought I was hatin' on Houston and its uncomfortable commute, I thought I'd share the following stats with you, courtesy of (.gov means it's true):
  • If Houston were an independent nation, it would rank as the world's 30th largest economy.
  • Houston's overall after-taxes living costs are 12 percent below the nationwide average, largely due to housing costs that are 26 percent below the average.
  • Houston has more than 11,000 restaurants to choose from.
  • Houston has a Theater District second only to New York City with its concentration of seats in one geographic area.
  • Houston is one of five U.S. cities that offer year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.
  • More than 90 languages are spoken throughout the Houston area.
  • Houston is home to the largest rodeo in the world.
  • Houston has among the youngest populations in the nation.
  • Houston is home to the largest medical center in the world.
  • Only 21 countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product exceeding Houston's regional gross area product.
  • Only New York City is home to more Fortune 500 headquarters.
So sure, sometimes it's humid and hot, but we've got lots of good reasons to call this place home.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A two-month test

I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but at the last minute, we did sell Ryan's car. (Last minute as in, they handed us the cash, we handed them the keys, and then we hopped into our moving truck and drove to Texas.) I also probably didn't mention the fact that while buying our old car, they asked about renting our old townhouse and working at my old office building--I was sure a social security number/credit score exchange was next--but that's a topic for another post.

This post is about downsizing.

We went from being a two-car, two-person family in an 18-square-mile city to being a one-car (still two-person) family in a city that can take several hours to cross. (That's 8,778 square miles--bigger than the entire state of New Jersey. I know.)

It wasn't our plan to stay a one-car family. The Houston burbs aren't exactly a friend of public transportation and neither are the hot and humid summers. Plus, as the Salazar family saying goes, everything in Houston is "about 30 minutes away." We had planned to move to Houston and start Ryan's initiation into Texas/construction culture by getting him a nice big truck. And then reality settled in.

All of a sudden, there would be car payments. Twice the insurance. A couple tanks of gas a week, most of it spent in gridlocked traffic. Another car contributing to that traffic.

It's not that we can't afford it. But we're starting to wonder if we'd rather take a trip once a year than have an extra car to sit in the garage when we need it.

So our experiment begins. Starting this week, Ryan will be carpooling to work a couple times a week. The days that I have the car, I'll do our grocery shopping and errand running. My perfectly lovely (and accommodating--thank you!) mom and sister are humoring our strange little plans by offering rides on their way to Costco and other places.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure we can/should do it. Two months, sure. (We've pretty much been doing this since October, though this will be Ryan's first experience with the park 'n' ride.) But two years? More? Once we have a couple kids?? In a city like Houston, I just don't know.

Do any of you have downsizing experience in a city? Particularly in cities where the only buses that come by the house take you to the local elementary?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Since we're stuck inside

Walking with dad

A friend of mine introduced me to this awesome website. Have you seen it? Talented artists from all over post their art, and then, using their illustrations as inspiration, you create picture books. The pic above is from one of my favorites, PascalCampion.

You can create as many as you want and save them to your own profile. Plus, and you probably knew this was coming, it's FREE!

Here's my friend's profile with some of the cute books she's created. They also have a fun story contest each month, where you can win a Kindle e-reader and a $50 e-book gift card! My friend Tara won last month!

Anyway, if you're looking for something to keep your kids busy or for your own creative outlet--check it out! And if you do, send me your story. I'd love to read it :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Also, it's cold here

On the one hand, we've been having rolling power outages all day to conserve/spread energy around Houston, and it's been in the 20s all day, and with humidity it's colder, and Ryan's going to have to drive to work tomorrow on frozen roads with broken traffic lights and a couple million people who don't know what to do when ice meets tire.

On the other hand, I'm not in Chicago or Denver like my brothers and their families, where they live with millions of people who DO know how to travel on ice and snow but CAN'T because of the ridiculous amounts of ice/snow and the ridiculous speed at which said ice/snow is falling/torpedoing through the sky. Plus it's at least 20, sometimes 30-40 degrees colder there than it is here.

So... I'm probably not gonna get any sympathy here, am I?

Oh fine. I'll just put on another sweatshirt.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The time has come

Remember when a certain movie was filmed practically in my backyard?

Oh yes. That's right. It's finally coming atcha. Though I'm sorry to say, it doesn't look like this movie will be set in space like we originally thought/hoped.

Even without the space element, still just as bizarre as I imagined it would be. Coming to a theater near you, but probably not for long...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Home is wherever I'm with you

Found this on a friend's blog and had to share. Such a cute little girl -- I gotta get me one of those.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things we learned camping last weekend

Quick update: We did not vanish somewhere in New Mexico during our move to Texas, I did write 54,000 words in November, and we didn't actually go camping last weekend (it was November). But why delete a perfectly good post just because it's outrageously outdated?

I knew you'd understand.

* Caramel/vanilla swirl marshmallows are delicious. They taste roasted right out of the bag. Go get some!

* When you go camping, take whatever weather predictions have been made and quadruple their likelihood. So a 30 percent chance of rain would be 120 percent in camping land. That's about right.

* Despite all the dirt and bugs, there's something about nature that makes everything feel remarkably clean. Pure, even. Which is why we still ate our meat after it fell off the foil and into the mud.

* If you ever have the opportunity to stop at a Buc-ee's, you should do.

* Don't feel bad when all the Texans point and laugh at you (the former Utahns) for bringing too many coats and sweaters. You will be laughing in the morning, my friend.

* Nobody believes in roughing it and spending the night on the ground anymore. Ryan and I were the only ones who didn't have an inflatable mattress or blow-up bed inside our tent.

* You can keep a fire alive in the middle of a couple-hour long downpour, and your 4 lb. tin foil dinner can still burn crispy on a fire in the middle of that downpour.

* Never make fun of someone for making a 4 lb. tin foil dinner. Because when you're huddled inside a tent with 3 other adults, trying to eat the only dinner that didn't burn, you will be very grateful for the extra pounds.

Thanks, Julie and Doug, for bringing us along!