Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Polling the students

So once again I decided to poll this round of students to see what gender they think the Baby T-Rex is. Our votes came out 34 for girl and 82 for boy. Most people I have spoken with think this is a little boy thrashing around inside of me, I thought I would have a good idea, but I really don't.

I also asked the students for name recommendations just to see what they could come up with. Most of the students were not as wild as I thought they would be and a couple of them actually picked names that Matt and I are thinking about. Some of my favorite (funny) names follow:

Admiral Awesome Howard
Optimus Prime Howard
Cleaveland Howard (from the Family Guy)
Juan Javier Esteban Julio Howard
Chantz Howard

and my personal favorite from a student name Gerald...

Gerald Jr. Howard...

I think I will have to explain to him exactly why one would be called a junior...

Feel free to send on your recommendations...while we feel we are pretty set on a few names, we like to hear other options!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Deep Freeze

We have just acquired a deep freeze to make meals ahead of the Baby T-Rex coming to join our foodie family. If you have any great recipes or ideas for meals that freeze well please send them our way. You can leave them in the comment section for all to enjoy or email me!

Your resident foodie

Molten Chocolate Lava Goodness

One of the hottest (literally...because it is served warm) desserts around right now are the molten chocolate lava cakes available at numerous restaurants. I highly encourage you to avoid the cakes served at chains because in the case of the lava cake they are pre-made, packaged, and nuked cakes that do not resemble the warm, flow of cake that you can make with relative ease in your own home.

If you have been living under a rock and have no idea what I refer to when I mention Molten Chocolate Lava cakes you are truly missing out...if you love chocolate. The cakes are personal to two person sized, unless you are Matt's sister McKay who can polish off two or three of the larger ones on her own. The cake is a relatively light, soft chocolate cake that, when cooked properly, has a decent crust to offer a pinch of resistance before your fork cuts into the cake. Once you have forged that teeny bit of resistance you will find nothing for your fork to cut through because the recipe is designed to "separate" itself into baked cake and warm, gooey center. The center is thick and fudgy in consistency and has a decent overload of chocolate flavor. It is best served hot (so the middle stays warm and flows) and with your choice of sauces (we prefer raspberry), or as shown below with fudge ripple ice cream and fresh raspberries.

Butter your baking dishes (either 3/4 cup souffle dishes or I prefer a regular muffin tin).

Stir 14 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped (or just use chocolate chips), 1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter in a saucepan over low heat until the chocolate is melted. Cool slightly.

Whisk 6 large eggs and 2 tsp vanilla extract to blend. Whisk in 3 cups of powdered sugar until blended. Add the chocolate mixture and 1 cup of AP flour.

Fill dishes to top with batter.

Bake at 425 until the batter has risen above the dish, the top edges are dark brown and the center is soft and runny. For souffle dishes that is 18 minutes for cold batter or 15 minutes for room temperature batter. For the muffin tins I usually start checking them at 10 and it will take about 12 minutes.

Run knife to loosen the edges and let sit for 5 minutes.

Serve as elegantly (or not...McKay probably couldn't wait) as you can always simply dust with powdered sugar and serve with a mint leaf.

The batter can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in the fridge.

Any leftovers you have make sure to refrigerate and reheat (we usually nuke them chain restaurant style).


The difference of weeks and Belly painting round 2

So here we are with mere days/weeks to go. Matt and I were reflecting this past weekend on what we were doing 6 weeks into our pregnancy (going to Europe to visit 4 countries in 6-7 days) and what we were doing with 6 weeks left (not leaving the city and getting the house back in order). In all honesty looking back on things this has been the easiest trimester yet. Most people say that their second trimester was easiest, but that is when I was most tired. I have had really good amounts of energy and have been trying to take full advantage of that when possible. All in all, the time from 6 weeks in to 6 weeks left has flown by and I have not felt like much of the pregnancy has dragged on.

6 weeks in...obvious location

6 weeks left at the Cy-Fair ISD headquarters to be honored for last years award

After hearing suggestions from others, Jessica and I decided to spend more quality time together and to paint my belly again. We decided to do the world this time for a number of reasons: the whole history thing works, Mattie and I love to travel and this baby has traveled quite a bit, plus the belly is so darn globe like! I think Jessica did a great job and really enjoyed spending the time with her. She was a little surprised by my lack of talking, but I told her as the pregnancy is progressing I am turning my focus inward (not is just happening) and thinking a lot about what needs to be done.

Furthermore, Jessica got to feel the baby kick for the first time which she was convinced was not going to happen and we were surprised to see how emotional she was cute to see my little sister moved by such a "normal" thing to me now, but I know exactly how she felt. I am glad that Jessica has been such an enthusiastic supporter of the pregnancy so far. Mattie and I still are unsure if we or if Jessica (or my stepfather Fred) are more excited for this baby!

The arrow says "You are Here"

Lastly, we got a new addition to the family...a deep freeze on craigslist for $50! It was originally listed for $75, but she touched my belly and knocked $25 off the price without us asking! At first I was really excited, but now I am not sure how I feel about the use of my body for that kind of a discount... I am sure I will not mind when I am pulling meals out of the freezer after the baby is born for delicious and healthy suppers!

Back to the doctor for another scan and checkup on Thursday! Matt's mom is coming down to see the ultrasound and to bring our baby bedding!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Matt is the typical guy's guy who likes to work on cars, go hunting and fishing, and drink beer. I especially enjoy the second listing because it means that I get tons of fresh game and fish whenever he does go out. I really like when they go to the gulf to go fishing because even if he is not always successful at fishing he brings me home gulf shrimp (which I love). Matt and his dad (and more recently his brother and brother-in-law) have been hunting a lot in the area of their house. Not long ago, in addition to the deer they took down, they took down an elk as well. Apparently there are people in the area who have wild game as pets and when some of them escape they join the herds of deer.

Mattie's family always takes their food to Slovacek's in Snook for processing. They always do a good job breaking down the meat into steaks, back straps, roasts, sausage, and ground meat. They also try to tenderize the tougher pieces of meat which leads me to my post today.

We usually eat more on the Mediterranean/Italian spectrum of things, but occasionally enjoy a good old country meal. So we decided to do just that with wedge salad, chicken fried elk, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

Wedge Salad:
Cut an iceberg lettuce head into wedges. I personally think that unless this is your meal fourths is too big...I try to go for sixths to eights.

Top with diced onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, crumbled bacon, and either feta or blue cheese.

Most wedge salads come with a creamy dressing (I usually splurge and make ranch), but we have had it with vinaigrette too and it is still delicious.

Serve with copious amounts of cracked black pepper, a fork, and a knife.

I usually prefer romaine or green leaf salads, but the iceberg is perfect for this salad. It acts as a "boat" for serving the other vegetables that have been covered in the creamy dressing and cheese. Additionally, the soft cheese and tomatoes contrast nicely with the crisp cucumber and lettuce.

The chicken fried elk was fairly easy to make.

Take your cut of meat (if you are unsure of what cut of meat to use, look for something that is already tenderized in the looks like it has lots of wholes in it) and season it with salt and pepper.

I prefer to double dredge my frying meats so dip that sucker in flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), an egg and milk wash, then flour again. It makes the meat, once fried, extra crispy.

Heat an inch or two of oil in a frying pan, once hot gently place the floured meat in the pan. It is important that your oil is sufficiently hot for a number of reasons. I learned from Rachel Ray that the easiest way is to dip a wooded spoon into the oil, if bubbles appear it is hot enough. Make sure that it is hot because you will eliminate sogginess and a good golden crust will help from too much fat/oil entering into the meat. Once golden brown on both sides you can begin checking for doneness. This is obviously more important with chicken than it is with red meat, but you want a good amount of doneness with this too. Let the meat drain on a paper towel to soak up extra oil when done.

Serve with mashed potatoes, cream gravy, and green beans (we like to jazz up canned green beans with onions, mushrooms, and garlic powder). Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This is one big baby

We went today for what was supposed to be our last ultrasound. As I sat in the waiting room with a very full bladder I thought in a bittersweet way that this was the last ultrasound we would get until the baby was ready to come and we would get to meet him or her in person. When we were finally called back for the scan we reminded her that we still wanted a surprise on the gender. She began to take her measurements and asked me again when I was due. So, she re-took measurements and confirmed that I did not have gestational diabetes. She also asked us how large we were when born. She told us that as of right now, the baby is measuring...wait for it...6 pounds 4 ounces! And we still have seven weeks to go! The size of the head and belly are looking about 35.5 weeks, the length of the femur is looking about 36 weeks, and my uterus is measuring about 35 weeks. We were definitely mixed on what emotion to feel. I am personally happy that the baby is so healthy and could easily make it quite well outside the womb at any point. However, there are some developmental things that might develop better inside the womb too! My doctor decided it would be best for me to follow a restricted diet (no for the next two weeks and then she will get the tech to rescan. So this wasn't our last ultrasound.

Our thoughts on the whole thing is that so far this baby has grown in spurts. I think she happened to see us at the front of a growth spurt and that we shouldn't worry too much. We will see if I am correct or if she is correct in two weeks. Regardless of who is right, I don't think many people expected this baby to stay in the full 40 weeks. In the mean time, I am going to go eat a steak!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This is happening soon...

In our previous post we talked about the original stroller we received. This is it with the proud Daddy-to-be getting all ready to test it out.

We have two months or less (hopefully not more) to go! We stayed with my mom the past week so our 32 week picture is in a new and improved location. The belly has considerable growth, but at my last doctor visit I had not gained any weight which means the baby is taking all it can from me. As long as my uterus, and thus the baby, continues to grow the doctor said this is a good sign. We are finding it hard to believe that in about two months we will bringing our little T-Rex home with us. We are really looking forward to finding out who he or she is!

I like the shiny aspect of baby!

As far as how I feel, so far I feel great still. I am, of course, tired and my feet are swelling and I have some good pains in my lower back, but I am growing a I think all of those things are expected. I have recently found that a lot of people want pregnant women to feel miserable. After I respond that I am feeling great people look at me with great disappointment and sometimes disgust/disdain. It frustrates me that they expect me to mope around in despair while growing this little one inside me. I know my situation (in which I still feel awesome so late into the pregnancy) may not be the norm, but that doesn't mean you should be disappointed by this occurring. It also frustrates me when people ask if I am ready to pop (which I used to do and will no longer ever do). I am quite happy with this baby staying inside, getting stronger and healthier each day. There is no way I want the baby to come this early. And while we are expressing I am not having twins...and no I do not know what I am having!

The students have been very entranced by the belly. One student told me my poking out belly button looked like an eye! Other students become very concerned if I walk across the room to dim the lights or open the door and other students tell me not to get stuff off the floor. I thought I would be bothered by students touching my belly, but with the exception of a few who won't keep their hands away I have accepted an occasional touch from previous year students. The one exception to that rule is if they are perpetually tardy...I tell them I don't want my baby to get their late germs!

We go back to the doctor on Thursday for our final ultrasound (as long as everything checks out) and a checkup. This ultrasound will check the position of the baby (which I feel has moved into an up/down position) and how big the Baby T-Rex is. Until then, we will continue to try to get the people to finish the house and put it all in order...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Holy Cow...Renovations have exploded...

So it was my full intention to have a wonderful post about how great I feel with just 8 weeks left until our due date. It was my full intention to have a wonderful post about the process of the home renovations. I cannot do either of these things however because the house has gotten out of control. So I thought I would just post a few pictures of the mess that the house is in and ask that if anyone sees me pulling my hair out to stop me.

I am not the neatest person in the world, but this is ridiculous!