Textcerpts: Soccer

I’ll admit it: I’m caught up in the USA World Cup craze. I got caught up in it last time around, and I have no shame. NO SHAME!

USA! USA! USA!

YEAH CHICAGO!

Grant Park viewing party in Chicago – how UNAMERICAN! (via csnchicago.com)

I find myself tapping the “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” rhythm to myself when I’m thinking. If someone leaves a long enough pause after they say the word “I”, I will immediately scream “BELIEVE”, whether they intended that space to be filled with that word or not. I love it, and I love that the country is caught up in it.

Even if you don’t like the sport itself, the excitement is contagious.

And that excitement is why the column Ann Coulter posted (I refuse to link to her actual article) about how liking soccer is a sign of the country’s moral degrade (what ISN’T a sign of it, is what I want to know) is SO hilarious to me.

My favorite quote? (Though there are SO MANY to choose from…)

“I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer,” she wrote. “One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.”

Now, having had great-grandparents who did, in fact, emigrate from other places, I guess I’m part of the non-English-speaking morally-degraded populace to whom she refers. The fact that some of my great-grandparents emigrated from England doesn’t change the fact that they, and I, need to learn English, apparently. We’re commie infiltrators, and there just isn’t anything we can do about it. I get it, Ann.

However, my husband’s family has been in America since, literally, the 1600s. On both sides. His family has been farming in southern Virginia since that time, pretty much, up until his parents. My husband played soccer in high school, and actually does watch games on our extra subscription to the Fox Soccer channel, in addition to keeping up with rugby. According to Ann Coulter, though, he can’t exist. HE CAN’T EXIST.

Even though it’s my husband’s birthday today, I immediately decided that this charade of his existence needed to end now. Who is this “husband” I married? Is our marriage even legal? I immediately texted him with my concern.

And so begins a new segment on this blog I’d like to title “Textcerpts”, mostly because the conversations TLH and I have are absurd. And it’s part of why I think we work so well together.

Without further ado, the first textcerpt. I title this one: Soccer.

textcerpt soccer conversation

I love my husband. Happy birthday, traitor.

P.S. USA! USA! USA!

Iced Coffee: It’s SO much easier than you think

Summer, amIright?! Phew. Whoa. Hot. Words. Hard.

I can’t lie, though. I generally like summer, even if being pregnant seems to make it blaze with the heat of a thousand million burning suns. And one of my favorite things about summer? Drinking iced coffee without feeling like a dang lunatic. The thing is though? I could never quite figure out a good way to make iced coffee at home. My problem came that iced coffee typically needs to be brewed a lot stronger so you can add the ice and milk and have it still taste good. (I normally take my coffee black, except in iced coffee, where I like milk in it, perplexingly. I’m complicated. Deal with it.) Brewing a pot of coffee and then sticking it in the fridge risks cracking the coffee pot, and that meant a TON of waiting and effort.

french press 1And then, this article came into my life from The Kitchn. It explained a new, eye-opening method for making iced coffee: making a cold-brewed coffee in the French Press. LIGHTBULB. The trick is making it the night before and sticking it in the fridge to brew.

TLH and I use the French press exactly “not as much as we should because the coffee is so darn good from it.” Literally, that is what we say every time we either talk about the French Press or someone asks us how often we use it. If you’re in the market, we got this one, for reference on size.

If you’re a true coffee “connoisseur” (cough, snob, cough) you will hear that you need to grind your own beans to a less fine consistency so the grounds don’t seep through the sieve when you press the coffee down. But, I am here to say, I bought this Gevalia coffee pre-ground, and it worked just as well. My concession to the French Press is that I buy “better” coffee for it because you actually can taste the coffee more.

Vive la revolution!

iced coffee 2

This is the least pregnancy-friendly top shelf ever (beer, prosecco, coffee), but I had JUST gotten back from out of town, so…that’s an excuse, right?

Now, the actual making of this is so simple I’m about to make your head explode. Here we go:

  1. Put 1/3 cup of coffee into the French Press
  2. Fill with ~1.5 cups cold/normal water (not hot water like you would normally make a French Press brew) = I put it up to that silver line and stir it up
  3. Put the top on and don’t press it down
  4. Set the coffee to steep overnight in the refrigerator

What?! WHAT?! That can’t be it, right? But that’s it.

The next morning, press your coffee slowly (that’s the real trick with the French press), put in a bunch of ice into your cup, and then make your coffee to taste! What I like to do is fill it 1/3 of the way with ice, 2/3 of the way with the coffee over the ice, and then add in some milk and vanilla. I’ve tried peppermint extract as well and that was good too!

I can’t explain to you how easy this is. Five minutes in the evening and pure, unadulterated iced coffee in the morning.

Bliss!

iced coffee 3

Here’s the full recipe in a more readable format, if you want to save it!


Iced Coffee (Courtesy of The Kitchn)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup coffee
  • 1.5 cups room temperature/cold water
  • Milk (to taste, I probably put in 1/4 cup or so)
  • Vanilla (optional, to taste, start with maybe 1/8 teaspoon and go up from there)

Directions:

  • In a French Press, put in 1/3 cup coffee and add water to it
  • Stir
  • Chill overnight – unpressed – in refrigerator
  • The next morning, pour coffee over ice and add milk and vanilla to taste

Happy iced coffee-ing!

Pregnancy Heartburn: Oh, it’s real.

If you have never been pregnant before, I am here to explain something and guarantee that this will happen to you at some point:

  • Someone tells you about a symptom they got during pregnancy.
  • You secretly evaluate all their health and life decisions and previous medical history.
  • You curse yourself for being judgmental, but secretly stop caring after approximately 1 second.
  • You decide that there is no way that you’ll get that symptom.

hell-noHopefully you’ll be right. Or, you know, a better person than me.

These symptoms you will hear about can range from back pain to kankles to hemorrhoids (ohmygod please don’t tell me about those if you got them or didn’t get them) to nausea to, I don’t know, blinking too much. Apparently if you have any malady in the 9-month period while you also happen to be supporting another life form, it’s a pregnancy symptom. The bummer of it is that most of these maladies are, in fact, pregnancy symptoms. However, at hearing many of them you will secretly go, “Nah. No way. Not to me. I [insert whatever lame excuse you think you have here that will make you avoid whatever symptom you have heard about: do yoga, meditate, run, don’t run, already have a child, don’t already have a child, have a mom who didn’t get that, have a dog, only eat non-processed food, once punched a grizzly bear straight in the face, etc.].

The fact of the matter is this: no matter who you are or what you do, there will be side effects to growing a human for nine months, and other than the stronger hair and nails which I did not receive thankyouverymuch, they can make you curmudgeonly and angry.

The latest one of these symptoms that I secretly swore to myself there was no way I would get is heartburn. I had never, ever, ever had heartburn before in my life. My husband would get it occasionally and I literally would sit there and ask him what it felt like when he got it. Let me tell you, he loved that. It was his favorite question to answer, explaining what his aggravating pain was while he was having it. Boy oh boy, did he ever not get annoyed with me on that one for the better part of a decade we’ve been together. I’m sure I’ll love it just as much when he asks me to describe what labor feels like.

so-mad-i-couldBut heartburn? Not me, man. Spicy food? Bring it on. Whatever else brings on heartburn (fatty foods? citrus? air? I don’t know, really)? More, please. And then one day as I was eating my “Thai spicy 5/5 spice level” curry” from our favorite Thai place in town the heartburn hit me like a semi running down my esophagus.

“Something’s…wrong,” I said suddenly to my husband, as I wiped away the tears from eating my too-spicy-even-for-me-or-maybe-it’s-that-hyper-sensitive-five-senses-thing-I-have-going-on-now food.

Being an actually caring and wonderful person who just also sometimes happens to jump to the last possible outcome of any situation, he sat up and went in one breath, “What? Is it something with the baby? Are you okaydoweneedtogotothehospital?!”

(Do you see why he’s my favorite tax lawyer husband? I have decided to find this jump to conclusions thing he does endearing, else it would drive me out of my mind.)

I calmly replied that no, I don’t need to go to the hospital, it’s just that I feel this intense…pain…in my chest all of a sudden. That didn’t help the situation.

Then it clicked for us at the same time. “Wait,” TLH went, starting to smirk, “Wait. Does it feel all…burny?” “YES! And it’s hard to swallow and it just generally is painful all up in here,” I said motioning toward my chest in an up-and-down gesture.

I’ll give it to him. TLH managed to hold back the laughter he had built up for the last six and a half years in karmic retribution and said something along the lines of, “well, the first step is to put down the curry. The next step is just to take it easy, take some Tums, and just rest.” I could see the smirk through the back of his head as he walked away, though. I could see it.

Folks, I had no idea that heartburn was so obnoxious. It’s just annoying enough to make you curmudgeonly, but just below the point where you feel like you can actually complain for an extended period of time, which makes it even more annoying, actually. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve gotten it a few times since, and will probably get it again.

Despite my vows to stop looking everything up on pregnancy websites due to my general annoyance at getting riled up at fear-mongering articles, I did break down and found out that apparently “Well over half” of pregnant women get heartburn “at some point during pregnancy.” First of all, that’s a ridiculous range to give. For all the pregnancy websites’ articles they claim to research (“Is loading the dishwasher safe???” Spoiler alert: of course it is, idiots.), you’d think they could at least give a number. But supposedly due to the extra hormones, positioning of the baby, and then any other number of just weird things that happen when you’re pregnant, you’re more likely to get heartburn while pregnant, even if you’ve never had it before, or have an excuse in your head from your list of lame excuses you’ve contrived for everything that won’t happen to you while pregnant. The Internet didn’t tell me that last part, but I felt like it should have.

I think the worst part is that I feel ridiculous complaining about it, knowing so many other people have had heartburn problems for a significant portion of their adult lives. It’s a lot like seeing a movie everyone has seen way too long after everyone has seen it, but still wanting to talk about it because it’s new to you. “So…I just saw E.T…” I might as well be saying to people.

The thing is, despite all your preparations or mental fortitude of mind over matter, sometimes matter takes the cake over mind, and that’s just how the cookie crumbles. Or how the Thai-spicy curry burns your esophagus. Whatever metaphor you choose, it’s how it goes.

Just have the Tums ready.

How to break in a pair of Birkenstocks

After trodding all over London last week, I came back and immediately ordered a pair of Birkenstocks for my next European adventure in August. I figured that since the aching back and hurt feet symptoms are actually real during pregnancy, I might as well get some sandals that actually offer support.

In terms of support, it doesn’t get much more orthopedic than Birks. My only problem was that my vision of Birks consisted entirely of granola-eating-drum-circling-dreadlock-sporting-live-in-a-tent hippies. However, after seeing half of Londoners in Birks that are actually semi-cute I decided to take the plunge and get myself a pair of the “less ugly going for more of the maybe-it’s-so-ugly-it’s-cute-kind-of-like-pugs” Birks.

birksSpecifically, these.

I saw these all over London worn by not tourists, mind you, and thus by breaking-in adventure began.

I am here to tell you exactly how to break in your Birkenstocks with maximum success.

Step 1: Open box. Look at Birkenstocks inquisitively and wonder if they really are ugly-but-cute-like-a-pug or just ugly.

Step 2: Put Birks on feet and agonize over fit. Wait for husband to get home, have him analyze and assure you that they literally couldn’t look more perfectly fit to my foot if they were made for me. (Tip: order a size below. I’m a 7.5-8ish, leaning toward 7, and got the size that is a 7-7.5, or a 38 in those “European” sizes.)

Step 3: The next day when you go to walk your husband to work with your dog, wear the Birkenstocks on the 2.2-mile (total) adventure. This will ensure that even if you begin to wonder if maybe shorter bouts of breaking in might have been better-advised, there will be no escape.

Step 4: At mile mark 1 on said walk (aka, halfway), really begin questioning your logic here, since you already knew that Birkenstocks are notorious for needing to be broken in.

Step 5: Remember the review on Zappos.com that claimed they “didn’t need breaking in like other Birkenstocks!” Despite no other review claiming this, remember that if it’s on the Internet it must be true, and if this person took the time to write a review, then clearly they must have the same feet as you.

Step 6: Vow to find the person who wrote that review and question if they know what breaking in actually means.

Step 7: Arrive back at home with a slight blister from a 2-mile walk in un-broken-in Birkenstocks, perplexed at what the hell you were thinking.

Step 8: Know that even though breaking these damn shoes is a terrible ordeal now, they actually will feel amazing and worth the exorbitant cost, because the support that is sucking your life force out of your feet now will be the best thing ever when my feet and the sandals finally come to terms with each other.

Step 9: Pack for a 5-day trip to Florida. Leave out Birks to wear through the airports. Because clearly, what your feet at this point need the next day is to walk through the terminals of Atlanta’s airport.

Step 10: At 4:30am when waking up to rush to the airport, definitely do not think twice about slipping those little Birks on your feet the next morning. You haven’t had coffee yet, so feeling to your extremities will dull your senses anyway.

Step 11: Arrive into Atlanta and trod through the never-ending terminals wondering if these damn things ever truly DO break in, and when is it? And seriously, are they ugly-cute or just ugly?

Step 12: Question all life decisions to this point. Commence existential crisis.

Step 13: Get a croissant. Because you’re still pregnant, after all. And even if you weren’t, you deserve one.

Step 14: Avoid the bathroom mirror at all costs. Not only does pregnancy seem to eat some of the makeup you dumped on your face at 4:45AM, but your shoes seem to be eating the rest of it, somehow. Do not compare yourself to a gremlin for fear of insulting gremlins everywhere.

Step 15: Arrive at your destination, which also happens to be your mother’s house in Florida. Mutter incoherently about the mistake these damn sandals were and what the hell were you thinking buying such a luxury item due to your vanity and stubbornness in never wearing tennis shoes in tourist places “like a typical American”. Go eat some grapes. And then a cookie because clearly grapes were never going to satisfy that craving you’re having for a cookie. Because, again, pregnancy. We need to be honest with ourselves here.

Step 16: Tell the Birks that we just need a “little break” for a little bit and you’re going to be going back to your Rainbow flip flops for a little while. Assure the sandals that it has much more to do with the fact that you’re going to be around pools and sand and they are far too high-brow for such activities.

Step 17: Wonder if you always talked to your shoes, or if this is a result of three years of working from home and too little human interaction.

Step 18: Assure your mom’s dog that this definitely isn’t due to a lack of interaction, and you’ve probably always talked to inanimate objects.

Step 19: Eat another cookie.

Step 20: Come back to the Birkenstocks. Look at them. Remember the amount of money you paid for a pair of flat sandals and put them back on your feet.

Step 21: Grumble to yourself. The healing process is not complete. You need more time, okay?!

Step 22: Take the sandals out again. Put them on feet. Realize that, oh, this is what the hype is all about. You get it now. It’s all clear!

Step 23: Wonder if the shoes are singing or if it’s actually angels from above. Oh, no, I just hadn’t turned off my Pandora radio. No wonder the angels sounded eerily like Matchbox 20.

Step 24: Wear Birkenstocks incessantly. Applaud yourself for such a genius move in planning on how to avoid wearing tennis shoes “like an American” while walking through Belgium and Luxembourg at 32 weeks pregnant.

Step 25: Realize that no matter what you do, you’re still pregnant and back pain is just a way of life. There is no magic bag of beans for the side effects of growing a human. Though, for the price, the Birks could at least vacuum a few times a week to earn their keep.

Travel summary: London and Edinburgh

We’re back.

I don’t want to be back.

weather_june_charlotte

You have GOT to be kidding me.

Especially when the weather forecast looks like this in Charlotte.

We took a redeye over Friday night, arrived Saturday morning, and didn’t stop walking as soon as our little feet hit the ground in London. We averaged over 10 miles a day walking and I never wanted to stop, despite sore feet. Seeing TLH’s parents was an extra special treat since they live over in London 60% of their time, and we made a firm commitment to come over as much as humanly possible from now on.

Side note: I will never, ever, EVER stand down from this: walking everywhere (or as close to everywhere you can) is life-changing. Walking is good for the heart, the soul, and the mind. You see things you would never get to otherwise if you’re passing by in the speed and isolation of a car. When you are in a place with life on the streets, the streets are alive in a way that bring life and heart to a place that cannot be replicated by a destination you can arrive at only by car. I am not talking about “taking a walk/hike” in a park/mountains, etc. I am talking about walking as a lifestyle. I am talking about walking out of your house/apartment/dwelling abode and being able to get to places on foot while having other places to visit in between. (I recently finished a book about this phenomenon – called walkability for those who aren’t urban planning nerds – and will probably write more in depth about this later because it is something so near and dear to my heart.)

Anyhow. Ahem. Back to the trip.

We tried to do a range of tourist sights and explore more non-touristy neighborhoods, since places crawling with tourists tend to make my head explode after a while.

And apparently, while I wasn’t looking, my “bump” decided to become a real life bump.

Also, refreshing: in the UK people don’t assume you’re fat. People instead actually comment on your baby bump and wish you congratulations instead of assuming that you’re generally fat or bloated. It was awesome.

We did some main sites like St. Paul’s, Westminster, Tower Bridge, walking around Buckingham Palace…and I think London quite agrees with me.

photo 2

St. Paul’s Cathedral – seriously, where did that bump come from?

photo 1

Buckingham Palace. We happened to pass by right as the changing of the horse guard was taking place, which apparently is miraculous timing.

Tower Bridge. In case you were confused.

Tower Bridge. In case you were confused.

We also explored some other neighborhoods, notably Shoreditch and Spitalfields, where we got to see some amazing outdoor markets, including the flower market.

The flower market on Columbia Road in Shoreditch.

The flower market on Columbia Road in Shoreditch.

Um, FATE.

Um, FATE.

Another market in East End. Can't get enough.

Another market in East End. Can’t get enough.

We also made our way up the coast on a train to Edinburgh. While the weather was decidedly Scotland, I have decided that Edinburgh might be one of my most happy places on earth. The city is “best seen on foot” as said by every local we ran into, yet it was decidedly manageable. Also a plus? The tourists seem more “contained” to one area, which means that it would be extraordinarily liveable. I want to move there tomorrow. TOMORROW, I SAY. Though, of course, I say that about almost every large city I visit and would move to London tomorrow, too.

The other plus of Scotland? Finding the adjective “wee” the most precious thing I have ever heard (as the Scots say that for EVERYTHING), we have started referring to the Woodlet as “Wee Connor”, which is a step in the right direction to admitting that there is a human being arriving in October.

TLH tried and, to everyone’s shock, loved haggis, which is clearly disgusting. He also bought a tweed jacket, so as I figure it, we’re halfway to being locals.

Seriously, c'mon Edinburgh. Share the awesomeness around. You have too much.

Seriously, c’mon Edinburgh. Share the awesomeness around. You have too much.

See the smile? IT CONTINUED AS HE ATE THE HAGGIS.

See the smile? IT CONTINUED AS HE ATE THE HAGGIS.

Protip: get maternity outerwear. Otherwise be prepared for awkward cutting-off points in your clothes when your bump develops. This PSA brought to you by this picture.

Protip: get maternity outerwear. Otherwise be prepared for awkward cutting-off points in your clothes when your bump develops. This PSA brought to you by this picture.

Overall? A+ trip. I can’t wait to go back, which says a lot as my travel inclinations are to go to places that I have never been. The next time I’d love to do more of the countryside and maybe spend more time in Scotland.

Til next time, Europe! Which will be in August, when I’ll be extremely large and in charge but hopefully Luxembourg and Belgium will be willing to feed me plenty of chocolate, waffles and French fries.

P.S. I took this picture of this dog at a pub we stopped in in East End. It is worth noting that I have never seen a real-life incarnation of Yoda before, and it is something that will haunt my dreams forever. I love him.

photo 3(2)

How many months pregnant am I? How to stop doing math wrong.

Someone told me recently that pregnancy is actually 10 months long, not 9, because it’s 40 weeks, and 40 weeks with 4 weeks per month = 10 months. If you Google “how many months pregnant is X weeks” you will get the same flawed math across the Internet.

Yes, folks. Flawed. I said it. Flawed. No, it’s not even flawed, it’s WRONG. I know that math is intimidating to some people, but I am here to help.

First, the 4 weeks in a month thing. Let’s debunk that. Stay with me, but here’s something you should be comfortable with: every week has 7 days. If you multiply 7 days*4 weeks…that will give you the amount of days that is. Which is….28. There is precisely one month in a year with 28 days: February. The rest have either 31 or 30 days. So far, I hope you are following me.

So let’s take this a little bit further.

Here are two other indisputable facts that don’t require math: there are 365 days in a year, and 12 months in a year. Now for the math. If you apportion those days out equally across the months (that’s 365 days/12 months) that comes out to…30.42 days per month. THAT is why some months are 30 days, some months are 31 days, and why February is 28 days – it’s to even out that .42 nonsense across 12 months (and it’s also why we need February to be 29 days every 4 years).

So if you go for 40 weeks of pregnancy…that’s 280 days. Divide that out by what we just learned, that across a year there are actually 30.42 days in a month (so that means divide 280/30.42)…that’s 9.2 months. Considering that full term is 37 weeks…you can do the same thing….37 * 7 = 259 (that’s the length of 27 weeks in days), then divide by 30.42 (the length of a month), and that’s 8.5 months.

So, on average, that means that pregnancy is anywhere from 8.5 – 9.2 months, which 9 months is a pretty good average.

Have I lost you?

Well, shoot. Let me make it up to you and give you a trick.

google_degree_conversionDid you know that Google has a native conversion tool in it? For instance, if you go to Google and type in “3 tablespoons in cups” or “5 meters in feet” or “18 degrees celsius in fahrenheit” Google actually will just do the conversion for you? Yup, that’s right. And it works for almost anything, INCLUDING WEEKS TO MONTHS.

Here’s what happened when I typed in: 22 weeks in months:

google_month_conversion

Ta da! Did I just make your life easier or what? So many people think that 22 weeks, well, 20 weeks is 5 months, then add 2 weeks, 5.5 months pregnant! But that’s wrong! I’m barely over 5 months pregnant (SERIOUSLY?!?!?).

If you prefer to do math the old way, then I will give you the formula, too. So taking all that we deduced before…here you go…here’s what you do:

(Number of weeks pregnant * 7) / 30.42

There ya go! Easy peasy.

So everyone, please, for the love of all that is real math, stop saying there are 4 weeks in a month and using that math to deduce how many months pregnant you are. 

Capiche? Okay, we’re cool now. Happy math-ing!

Have bump, will travel: to London we go!

Tomorrow marks 22 weeks of pregnancy (which is ~5.1 months pregnant) and my favorite Tax Lawyer Husband (TLH) and I are headed off to London!

TLH’s parents live about 60% of their time in London nowadays due to his mom’s career and after 2 years we are finally going across the pond on vacation to see them and the city. We depart Friday night from Charlotte, fly nonstop to London, and will leave the following Sunday back for Charlotte. Being back in a large, walkable city again will no doubt do incredible wonders for my psyche.

Some of my friends have asked me if I’m worried about travel while pregnant, or have said that they would never travel past a certain time in pregnancy (or at all!), but since I’m a generally healthy person and my doctor isn’t even the slightest bit worried, I’m going for it. If anything, taking a week off work and walking nonstop for 9 days will do me and the baby a world of good. In about 4 months I will never be able to travel as a non-parent again. Why not enjoy it? In late June I’m going down to Florida, in July to Austin, Texas, and in August I’m going to Belgium and Luxembourg and then to the DC area. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and traveling is one way to enjoy it to the fullest.

Apparently pregnancy is turning me a little Buddha-esque. I guess it makes sense with the belly.

I can’t spend 9 months sitting and worrying about everything that might go wrong. It’s just not in my blood.

So, with that being said, away we go! I’m packing my raincoat and an umbrella and plenty of room in my suitcase to buy adorable British clothes for the Woodlet. 9 days of uninterrupted, no-work-emails-under-any-circumstances, unadulterated awesomeness.

Do I really have to come back?