Thursday, May 29, 2008

Delusions of Grandeur

I've been watching too much of the Food Network...

I am tired of making the same old dinners, and eating the same old PB&J for lunch. I've recently started having little sparks of ideas regarding my cooking. There are so many foods out there that I've never even heard of, let alone tried to cook! I'm thinking my next hobby is going to be cooking.

It's a little scary. Over the years, I've grown quite confident--maybe too confident--in my ability to bake (especially cookies - see today's endeavor, Exhibit A). I've just never thought of myself as a good cook! I struggle when it comes to making dinner every night. I can follow a recipe, though, and I think this is what will help me in my new goal.

Exhibit A: (Doesn't it make you want a tall glass of milk? :) )

I'm going to start small. Starting next week (we've already got meals planned for the rest of this week), I'm going to choose a new recipe I've never made before that challenges me in some way and teaches me a new skill. I'm especially going to look for recipes that involve things I've never cooked fish, for example. I'm now officially a 'stay-at-home-mom', so I can even try meals that take a long time to cook, because, for once, I have time! It will be exciting! Don't worry, I'll keep you all updated with how things go here on the blog. I may have monumental failures, but if anything, it will be amusing.

Speaking of food, Paul reminded me that I promised to let you know how his hayashi rice was. It was delicious! It's very tame as far as Japanese food goes (in Japan it's known as "kid food"), so I didn't have to be brave this time. :) It's very similar to Paul's curry in both texture and taste. It's not spicy like curry, though. The thinly sliced beef we bought at Uwajimaya was very good. I told him it could use more potatoes (you know me and potatoes) and less meat as far as proportions go, but it was very, very yummy! With Uwajimaya this close, Paul is going to make a Japanese dinner once a week now. He's thrilled about it. And even though I'm apprehensive, I'm excited to try new things, too. Once again, I'll keep you all updated. :)

And finally, before I post this, I must share this cute picture of James that I took today. :) He's starting to like being on his tummy a little more. He still hasn't figured out how to roll back over once he's on his tummy, though.

I'm sad because all the cute pictures I take seem to be a bit blurry. Maybe my next undertaking will be to learn more about photography!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Well, let me say right off, we didn't finish unpacking this weekend. Oh well. However, we did do a few fun/productive things!

First thing Saturday morning, we decided James absolutely needed some kind of toy or device to keep him happy when I have to do something other than hold him. Before we moved, Paula and Brian had been letting us use a couple of their things that Becca no longer used (a bouncer and a playmat). I've been feeling their absence since we got here. ;) Over the last couple weeks, James has been very grumpy, and he has recently started screaming almost every time I lay him down on a blanket to play. We've been planning on investing in some kind of baby thing for a while now, and I've been looking at all sorts of "devices". James is a pretty active little guy, so I started looking at exersaucers and other jumper-type entertainers. They all started at four-months of age, and James will be four months old next week, so we figured it was a good idea! We ended up buying this Baby Einstein activity jumper:
The seat spins around so James can play with things on all four sides, and the entire middle section is attached to four springs, so he can jump up and down. Paul and I thought it looked like fun. :) Here he is putting it together:

We were thrilled that when we put James in it he smiled and started playing with the toys in front of him! It seems we made a good choice! :)

He's still a tad small for it, so he gets frustrated after playing for a short time, but we think he'll be able to play in it for longer amounts of time as he gets older. We also bought a cheap vibrating chair to replace the bouncer he used to like. So far we haven't had as much success with that one. He may have outgrown the "Calming Vibrations". I'm glad it wasn't too expensive!

Other than that, we played our Wii and read a lot from Inkheart this weekend. It was very relaxing. Paul especially enjoyed sleeping in. :) Don't worry though! In between all the relaxing and playing, we finally finished one room in our apartment: the kitchen! It's the only room in the apartment that's completely settled in (many are close, but none of them are finished). It's such a relief to have a usable kitchen! Here's a picture:

I can't wait for the rest of the apartment to be settled, too.

Oh, and in case any of you were wondering, James' blanket shenanigans continue to amuse us (I promise I didn't put the blanket on his head):

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We Love the Pacific Northwest!

Here are two reasons we have found to love it here so far:

Reason #1: WinCo Foods

The coolest grocery store ever! It's cheaper than most other grocery stores because they only accept cash or debit cards, and they make you bag your own groceries. And they have an AMAZING bulk foods section. You can buy the typical bulk items such as nuts, dried fruit, and candy. But do they stop there? Oh no! They have dry ingredients like flour, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, sugar, cocoa, etc. They have muffin mixes, brownie mix, cereal, granola, snack mixes, popcorn, goldfish crackers, pasta, rice in many varieties, wasabi peas, and many more! They have a station that will crush peanuts or almonds right before your eyes and make fresh peanut butter or almond butter. They have a honey station that claimed there were even bees inside it making honey right there. I think they were joking, though...maybe. You can even buy fructose! I didn't know you could actually buy that stuff. It's so cool to be able to buy as little or as much as you want, and it's way cheaper than buying the packaged stuff.

Anyway, Paul and I did our shopping there last night, and we got a week's worth of groceries for 58 dollars! That's a big deal for us! (It helps that Oregon doesn't have any sales tax. :) )

WinCo actually stands for Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon, but I hear it's biggest here in Oregon.

Reason #2: Uwajimaya (Try saying that three times fast! Or even once! ;) )

Yes, Paul experienced heaven today. It's a humongous Japanese grocery store! Huge! Paul said it feels just like being in a grocery store in Japan. On top of all the food that Paul is bursting to make me try, it has things that even excite me! They have Japanese dishes, artwork (though I wish they had more than they do), candy, and, well, pretty much everything. There's a Japanese bookstore inside! It's a bookstore company actually from Japan. They even have a great selection of children's books in Japanese. Paul was like a kid in a candy store. It was great fun.

He's going to start making Japanese food more often. The store has a website with authentic recipes, and that's exciting for Paul because he's been wanting to make things, but he doesn't have recipes. This week's Japanese dinner will be hayashi rice. Paul's been craving it. I'll let you know what I think. ;)

Other things that we purchased this time included my favorite Botan rice candy (yum!), a Japanese sports drink called Pocari Sweat (yes, it has the word 'Sweat' in the name...don't worry, it doesn't taste like sweat), edamame, natto, gyoza, melon bread (SO good!), another drink called Calpico (they call it carupisu water), mochi ice cream (little balls of ice cream wrapped in smashed rice), thinly sliced beef (Paul's stoked about that one), and nori maki arare crackers. I will not be trying that last one...nori means seaweed, and seaweed is most definitely not my favorite thing. I'm sure we'll be visiting that store quite often in the future!

Yes, there are many non-food related reasons to love it in the Pacific Northwest, too, but we like food!

Friday, May 23, 2008

What James likes to do...

James likes to...

...roll from his back to his stomach and get stuck there because he can't (or won't?) roll back over. (The blanket he was on is in the bottom corner of the picture. Sorry for the low quality picture, I took it with my phone.)

...flip upside down in bed (the top of his bed is to the right of the picture).

...pull blankets over his face. his fingers.

...sit by himself on a chair.

He's doing new things all the time, and it's adorable. I'll keep trying to catch more of them on camera. This is all I have for now.

Also, I will eventually (hopefully after this weekend!) post pictures of our apartment! I haven't been able to get much of anything done during the days when it's just me and James. He's been fussy lately for some reason. I still think we're almost done, though! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Our trek to Oregon (continued)

I had Paul fish me out a cord for the camera out of his big box of cords so I could upload the pictures from our trip. Here are a few good ones (the rest can be found here).

The drive through the gorge was amazing. I swear there were 50 different shades of green on the mountainside. These pictures don't really do it justice since we were on the road.

Apparently there are some amazing hikes around here with waterfalls everywhere. We're planning on buying a good carrier for James and taking him on some adventures this summer. I'm sure we'll get better pictures then.

This is the view of Mt. Hood from the freeway. We saw it from above when we flew in to find an apartment in April. It's very impressive. I hope it doesn't erupt any time soon!

Our new couch! I didn't mean for it to be red (though red's my favorite color :) ). It was the only cover that we both liked. I intended to get a more neutral color, but oh well. Bold it is!

Here's the cute picture of James (the blog entry wouldn't be complete without at least ONE!)! He doesn't just lay on blankets anymore. I spread out the blanket and put him in the middle, turn around for two minutes, and he's like this! It's hilarious. I'm thinking we have to baby-proof the apartment much sooner than we anticipated. :)

Anyway, things continue to progress on the settling in front. We met our new ward today, and they seem very friendly. I'm so grateful for the church and that we have this built-in network. It makes me feel much less alone while we're so far away from our families.

Paul set up our Wii finally, and he's currently playing Mario Kart against people from all around the world. Crazy times.

More stories soon to come! Goodnight!

Friday, May 16, 2008

We are officially Oregonians.

This is the first moment I've had to post to the blog since we got here. Things are going well, albeit slowly. It's incredibly hot here (we're talking 90's with humidity), and we don't have air conditioning, so I feel like I'm melting. James keeps getting less and less clothed. He's currently asleep on the floor in just a diaper. :) Luckily it's supposed to cool down next week, so I have hope. If the heat keeps up, I think we may just give in and buy a second window air conditioning unit for the living room (we already have one for the bedroom, but we haven't been able to set it up yet).

The trip out here went amazingly well. It didn't feel too long because we split it up into two days. James slept almost the whole way (woo hoo!). Paul was so great. He drove the truck the entire time. And the drive was gorgeous! I have a few pictures that I'll post as soon as I can find a cord for the camera. Until then, here are a couple that Kristina took:

This is our graffiti-clad U-Haul truck! It was good to us, but we were all too happy to be rid of it. ;)

And, here's an ADORABLE picture of James that Kristina took just before we left Provo.

Thanks to everyone who helped us with our move! There's no way we would have been able to do it without the help of Kristina, Diana, Paula, Brian, and the guys from the ward who helped load the truck.

More updates to come!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Moving Day!

Well, we didn't get as far as we planned. :) I'm currently posting from Jonathan's computer in Bountiful. See, it took all day to clean our apartment (I knew it would, we were behind), and we didn't get started on the road until 5:00pm. Right as we got to Bountiful we hit rush hour traffic, so we decided to stop for dinner at Arctic Circle with Jonathan and Kristina. We started talking about it, and we realized there's no reason for us to make this trip needlessly stressful. There's no reason we can't take an extra day to get there. So, instead of stressing about staying awake and pulling in to Boise at almost midnight, we got to spend a relaxing evening watching a movie with Jonathan and Kristina. AND we get to have a full night of sleep (as long as James cooperates...cross your fingers!)! Tomorrow will be totally laid back because the truck's all packed and our apartment is behind us now. Man! I should have taken some pictures of the apartment when it was empty! Oops.

Anyhow, because the cord for the camera is packed somewhere in our 14 foot U-Haul, I once again do not have a relevant picture. Here's one of James thinking he's hot stuff (he's already like his dad!) :


Friday, May 9, 2008

Things are happening!

We have officially gotten rid of our ugly (and uncomfortable!) couches! Paul even got a tad nostalgic as he loaded them on our friend's truck and said goodbye. :) I'm so excited that they will not be making the trip to Oregon with us. Paul's Mother's Day gift to me is that we get to use our tax rebate on a new couch. It's a big splurge, but it will be fun!

In other news, I took James to the doctor today because I felt a tiny bump under the skin on his neck when I was feeding him this morning. The doctor said it's probably just a swollen lymph node or a small cyst, but to watch it. The exciting part is that we got to weigh him! I always like seeing how much weight he has gained. Our big baby is now 14 pounds 6 ounces! Almost six and a half pounds heavier than when he was born!

And, because I can and because I don't have a more related picture, here's another cute one of James, this time playing with his daddy:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Family Blog!

With our move to Oregon imminent (five days!) I figured it would be good to start our family blog. (You guessed it! I'm avoiding all the packing!) I've been meaning to do it for quite some time now, but I could never think of anything to write about. Hopefully we'll be doing all sorts of exciting things in the upcoming weeks and months that I can post about. Oregon is very beautiful and full of fun things to do, so I'm optimistic in that regard.

Anyway, I'm hoping this will be a good way to keep family and friends updated on our life since we're moving far away. As with many new-family blogs, I imagine it will end up being mostly about James, but I don't think our families will mind...especially the grandparents. :)

And, for your enjoyment, an obligatory picture of our cute, baby James: