This is my site where I will be sharing my thoughts, feelings and happenings. In the words of Austin Powers, "It's my happening, baby, and it freaks me out...yeah!" Enjoy!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Easy Rigatoni RECIPE

Here is a tasty recipe in the Prevention Magazine's "eat up slim down" cookbook by Jane Kirby, RD and David Joachim:

Easy Rigatoni

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
8 oz rigatoni
2 Tbsp (1/2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

Warm oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook 10 minutes or until tender. Add tomato paste and cook 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook rigatoni according to package directions. Drain. Toss with sauce. Serve with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 427 calories, 16 g protein, 65 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 68 mg cholesterol, 938 mg sodium, 6 g fiber

Diet Exchanges: 0 milk, 4 vegetable, 0 fruit, 3 bread, 0 meat, 2 fat

Sometimes I add 1 lb browned ground beef to the sauce (so then nutritional information is incorrect).


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay

We had tons of rain this week due to Tropical Storm Fay. It rained a little each day earlier in the week and then nonstop from Friday to Sunday with some strong winds at times. We kept hearing branches and pinecones fall on the roof and balconies. A few times we heard really loud thudding sounds but didn't see what had fallen.

The city was giving out free sandbags to anyone who needed them this weekend. At least 12 deaths in the US were blamed on Tropical Storm Fay. I heard that one utility worker died when a tree fell on him while he was working on restoring power to some homes. How awful!

Here is the creek behind our house on Saturday just before 1 PM (you can see a huge puddle forming on the lowest part of our yard between the creek and where I took the picture from our balcony):

And here is the creek behind our house on Saturday just before 3 PM (it totally flooded--the creek joined with the huge puddle and became one big rushing creek--and took over about half of the yard directly behind our house):

The runoff for the water from the highway is along our property on the other side of the city fence that runs perpendicular to the creek so that water was joining the flood party here:

I prayed that no large branches or trees would fall on our house or cars and my prayers were answered. This large branch fell outside our fenced area:

And this large branch fell inside our fenced area (thankfully it didn't damage the fence):

The water was all the way up to the 3 trees on the right for a couple of hours (a nice little patch of sand was left behind so maybe Alisa can play in it):

Unfortunately, our only banana tree that was producing bananas so far fell over during the storm:

The bananas were not ripe enough to eat so we are sad that we don't get to try any this year after all:

Here is a video of our flooded creek:

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Friday, August 15, 2008

New Paint Smell

Every time we come home after being out of town for a week or more our house smells new, like fresh paint. You'd expect a musty smell from being shut up so long, but for some reason, it always smells like new paint. Not real strong, but noticeable at first. I like it.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Flying with a Baby

We flew to New Jersey and stayed for 5 days visiting Craig's family and celebrating his grandfather's 90th birthday. Then we flew to Tulsa and stayed for almost 2 weeks visiting my family and attending my brother Greg's wedding. Then we flew home to Tallahassee, so that was 6 flights total (with 3 layovers).

The Tallahassee airport had a kids play area (rug with letters on it, wooden structure with activities like movable beads, mirrors, etc) at our gate and Alisa didn't want to leave it to get on the plane. What a great idea to help entertain the kids (though I hate to think how many germs are on all that stuff)! We were wanting to wait until the last minute to board the plane so she'd have to sit on my lap less so when it was time to go we had to quickly tear her away from the play area and she cried. She stopped crying once we made it to the ramp though.

We purchased our tickets online from and on the confirmation page it said we needed to call to have Alisa added as an infant in arms. We did that but apparently the person didn't do it correctly because we had to have it adjusted at each airport. Also, we didn't know ahead of time that we had to sit on the right side of each plane because that side has an extra mask that drops down if the cabin loses pressurization. So, we had to have our seats changed a lot too.

We checked a large suitcase for Craig & I and a small suitcase for Alisa. Unfortunately, ours was overweight (which we didn't think about till late the night before our morning flight but we didn't know what the fee would be). It was 11 lbs overweight so we had to pay a flat fee of $80. We didn't pack anything heavier than a pair of sneakers, so it was just that our suitcase was so large that it held lots of clothes, etc. The dumb thing is, even if it was just 1 lb overweight, they'd still charge us $80 (if that had been the case, though, we would have taken some clothes out on the spot and just carried them to save the money). And unfortunately, the fee has already gone up for that and for even checking regular bags (darn oil prices!).

We brought my laptop backpack (I had to bring my laptop to do some work) which also had books and snacks in it, Alisa's diaper bag (very necessary!), an umbrella stroller (so great for getting Alisa around at the airport and it fit easily through the security scanner machine, unlike many of the regular large strollers), and a special large backpack that held Alisa's carseat, booster seat and blanket. My friend recently flew to New Jersey and checked her baby's carseat and the airline lost it. Well, since you can't leave the airport unless your baby is in a carseat, I didn't want to risk that happening to us so we didn't check it. I ordered the carseat bag to make carrying it around in the airport easier (and it keeps it clean). Since we didn't buy a plane ticket for Alisa (she's free until age 2) and the flights were full, we just had them check the carseat bag at the gate along with the stroller.

We had to pay the $80 overweight fee again when we flew from New Jersey to Tulsa because our suitcase was 9 lbs overweight (I put all the heavier stuff in Alisa's small suitcase this time but it didn't help much...and also we had more in the bags because Alisa had been given tons of new clothes during our stay). We had talked about buying a small suitcase and paying the $25 fee to check it (rather than the $80 overweight fee on our large suitcase) but we forgot. Well, we remembered to do that before our flight from Tulsa to home (we knew we'd need another suitcase eventually anyway because we only had the two). Craig found a bright orange suitcase (hard to miss and reminds him of his favorite football team the Denver Broncos) that was on sale for 50% off. Instead of checking it though, we took it as a carry-on to avoid all fees. And the cool thing is, instead of having to shove it under the seat or in the overhead bin, he just had it gate checked with our 2 special baby items.

Getting through the security screening wasn't fun, but it could have been worse. We kept Alisa in the stroller until the last minute because the one time we didn't, she just wanted to run off and go exploring (and therefore cried when we wouldn't let her). So then we had to quickly fold down the stroller and put it on the conveyor belt with our other stuff (backpack with laptop removed for screening, diaper bag, carseat bag, shoes and my watch). We even had to take Alisa's shoes off and she was just wearing those soft moccasin-type shoes. At least I thought to wear slip-ons to speed up the process a little.

I was a bit nervous about flying for the 1st time with Alisa because I wasn't sure how she'd do on the plane (I figured she scream and cry to get down and walk around all the time). To our relief, she did pretty well since we kept her busy with books, snacks and toys. She spent a lot of time flipping through the airplane magazine, pointing to the letters and having me make the sounds for each one (it's been good timing with her recent obsession with letters). She did wiggle a lot but since she didn't have to be buckled in a seat I let her stand on my legs facing me while holding my hands for balance and then stand or sit on the floor for a bit (anything to keep her quiet and to keep her from kicking the seat in front of us). She laughed when the plane lurched a bit during each ascent and descent because it tickled her tummy. That was so cute! She waved and said hi to those around us, babbled and laughed at a baby that was behind us on one flight and at a lady across the aisle who was playing peek-a-boo with her on another flight. She even slept a bit on 2 of the flights. I tried to get her to suck on her sippy cup or chew some food to help pop her ears but she didn't always do it so thankfully she wasn't bothered by the pressure.

Alisa pooped in her diaper about an hour before our 2nd plane landed and it was so stinky (as is the norm these days). There was no place I could change her (she throws a fit and squirms a lot when I change her in public anyway) so we just had to wait until we got to the airport. I felt bad for the guy next to us (Alisa and I were sitting in the middle seat of the set of 3 seats), but what could I do? Her only outburst on the plane was while we were waiting to get off the plane. She wanted to sit in my seat by herself so she was trying to push/pull me off and was crying loudly because she wasn't getting what she wanted. She would have kept crying about it if I didn't either let her have the seat or pick her up and distract her. For the sake of the other passengers, I let her have the seat and I stood crouched over until it was our turn to get off.

I was so happy to find flight times that were not early morning or late evening so that we wouldn't have to wake Alisa up or keep her up late to get to the airport. All my initial searches had at least one crappy time and at least one long layover in the mix so I was shocked to find all good times with short layovers for the cheaper price when I searched again a few days later. I didn't think about her afternoon naps though. She was fussy during each of our short layovers because it was her naptime. She was tired, but since there was so much activity around us in the airport, she decided she wanted to walk around. It was a bit tricky since our layovers were short and we needed to get to our gate, go to the bathroom, change her diaper, get some food and eat it, all while she was trying to run off (though she was usually reaching for our hand so we'd come with her). We couldn't abandon our luggage, so one of us had to go to the bathroom while the other one tried to keep Alisa still by our luggage and then one of us ate while the other walked around with Alisa. It was pretty exhausting keeping up with Alisa at the airport and even just holding her on my lap on the plane, trying to keep her from crying and disturbing those around us. I was kind of on edge (internally) almost the whole time and later realized that I had been sitting in the plane with just my toes on the floor (instead of my whole foot) because I was trying to keep Alisa from sliding off my lap. I kinda got cramps and sore legs from doing that.

On the last leg of our journey (returning home) we were told that the flight was overbooked and since our boarding tickets only said "Seat Request" we had to wait until everyone had boarded to see if there was room for us or if someone would volunteer to give up their seat. That was scary because we just wanted to get home and weren't sure how Alisa would handle a 3-hour wait until the next flight. Thankfully, they called our names and we got to get on the plane. However, we ended up sitting on the plane for an hour before takeoff because just as we approached the runway, an employee noticed that a door had dropped open on the nose of the plane. We had to taxi back to the gate and wait for a mechanic to check it out. Alisa ended up falling asleep soon after and slept during the entire wait. I knew she really needed that nap so I was afraid to move and therefore sat somewhat stiffly for that hour, holding her awkwardly on my lap with one arm (where she had fallen asleep). I wished I had my book then but it was in the bag we ended up gate checking at the last minute.

Next time we fly we will have to pay for Alisa's ticket, but she will be older and easier to care for (though we might have another baby by then too). She will be able to sit still better and occupy the time by coloring or something. And she probably won't be such a messy eater (she got cheese & cracker crumbs all over both her hands, her face, her shirt, her pants, my pants and my shirt during several flights but luckily I had wet wipes handy).

Listening to Daddy's iPod at the Newark airport (8-03-08):