April 2008

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As you probably know, Jon Boy is starting a masters program at BYU. He starts summer term, or June 23rd to be precise. My due date is May 30th. Sometime between when the baby is born and July 1st, we need to move.

I’ve moved before. I’ve moved on tight deadlines before. I’ve moved while working full time before. I’m pretty good at moving, if I say so myself. I do worry a little about doing it with a newborn while recovering from giving birth, but mostly I’m optimistic. My mom will be coming out for a week to help with the baby, and she’s said she’ll help pack while she’s here. Also, babies have a tendency to sleep a lot when they’re brand new. Of course, I’ll need to sleep a lot as well, but I think there will still be a half hour here or there when I can pack. Besides, Jon Boy can always help out too. And I’m hoping to arrange things such that I don’t need to cook at all from the birth of the baby until moving day.

What I am stressing out about is finding somewhere to live. See, I have absolutely no intention of driving an hour each way with a newborn and a toddler in tow just to view apartments that might not be any good anyway. I won’t have time or patience for that in the first weeks of the baby’s life, even if I weren’t trying to move too. Which means I need to find a place, have a contract signed, before the baby’s born.

Babies have a tendency of being born at rather inconvenient times. What if he came May 15th instead of May 30th? To be safe, we really need to have signed a contract by May 15th, then. And May 15th is about two weeks away.

With this in mind, I’ve been searching faithfully every day for more than two months on Craigslist, KSL, and BYU’s site for apartments. Here’s what we need:

  • Something opening up in June
  • Two or three bedrooms
  • Air conditioning or swamp cooler
  • Washer/dryer hookups (we have our own, so a washer and dryer in the unit is no good either)
  • A dishwasher or really cheap rent and a place to put a portable
  • Some sort of grassy area that isn’t a postage stamp and isn’t right on a street (for Lego and eventually Duplo*)

Here are the problems:

  • Apartments opening in June are almost impossible to find right now. They’ll probably be easy to find, say, at the end of May and in early June. I can’t wait until the end of May. I definitely can’t wait until early June.
  • Apparently, apartments meeting even conditions 2–4 (let’s say we give up on the yard) are extremely rare in Provo. Funny, I would have thought most people want air conditioning and dishwashers. A heck of a lot of people want to do their laundry at home. I just don’t get it.

The good thing is that two-bedroom apartments are pretty affordable down there, and a lot of them come with some utilities included.

I found one place that looked perfect. It advertised a yard with a sandbox (yay!), it met all our requirements, it opened up in early July (Jon Boy said he’d be fine commuting to school for a week), and it looked pretty nice from the outside. Then we found out that the couple who was going to move in July had decided to stay. Nothing opening up after all. So sorry.

Then yesterday, I found another place. The price was about what I’d expected to spend on a two bedroom, but it’s got three. I’d given up hope on three bedrooms, actually. It has all the necessary elements: dishwasher, central air, fenced grassy area far from the street, hookups. It has some nice extras too: a covered parking space, lots of storage, and double sinks in the bathroom. It opens up June 1, so we’d have to pay for two or so weeks when we didn’t live there, but I’m okay with that if it means we get to live somewhere great.

The only problems are ugly, dirty carpet (no worse than we’ve had before, though, and now we have two area rugs) and small bedrooms. Really small bedrooms. All three are the same size, which is about 8′ x 10′. They’re small enough that we won’t be able to fit all our nice bedroom furniture in our bedroom. I think we can get the crib, toddler bed, changing table, dresser, and toys into the boys’ room, but I’m not 100% sure. The third room would be our office (yay for Jon Boy having a private place to do homework!), so we might be able to put extra bedroom furniture (my huge dresser) in there.

Everything logical in me says to go for it. So what if the place where we sleep is tiny? So what if a few toys make the boys’ room look totally cluttered because there just isn’t room for it? The living room and kitchen are plenty big, so we can just hang out there most of the time. Or outside.

The manager just called and said they’d like to sign a contract with us if we’re interested.

Why is it that I don’t know if I am? It’s so close to perfect. I have two weeks to find something better, and I suspect I’m just not going to. Definitely not something with a fenced yard and three bedrooms.

But a part of me is thinking, we’re going to live in Provo for two to three years. I don’t want to spend that whole time feeling cramped and unhappy with where we live. (With two kids in a two-bedroom apartment, though, I don’t know how we’ll really feel otherwise no matter where we live.) I want to sign a contract for a place where I can feel satisfied enough that I don’t feel the need to move again until Jon Boy’s done.

*sigh* I’m probably just getting cold feet about making a big decision.

One thing that kind of intrigues me is that every family seems to eat a little differently. There are the gourmet chefs, the never-cooks, the picky eaters—but even among those who eat fairly “normal” (normal to me, that is) meals each night, I’m often surprised when I find out how different any given family’s normal is from ours. So for this post, I’m going to list a pretty generic week’s worth of our meals. I’d love to hear what you eat on a regular basis as well! And if anyone wants to start swapping recipes, we can do that too.

Homemade Pizza

We love this so much we eat it about every two to three weeks. I make my own dough and sauce, but I use extremely easy (and good) recipes for both. Not to boast, but some have said that my pizza is better than restaurant pizza. I don’t know that I agree (it’s certainly better than Little Caesar’s), but it sure is fun to choose your own toppings.


This isn’t the healthiest meal, but we do it pretty often as well. It’s just really fast and easy to make, it makes very few dishes, and everyone likes it. Some nights, that’s enough for me.


Nothing fancy, just ground beef, canned mushroom soup, sour cream, and a little paprika and Worcestershire sauce for flavoring, served over noodles. I always have canned green beans with mine; I literally can’t eat the meal without the green beans. Sometimes I’ll eat a whole can by myself. Mmmm.

Variations on a Taco Theme

About once every two weeks, I do a variation on tacos: tacos, smothered burritos, beef and bean enchiladas, etc. I love Mexican food, so I often have another Mexican meal each two-week period as well, but it’s usually more difficult to make.

Chicken, Rice, and a Vegetable

I mix up my chicken recipes so I don’t get totally bored. Our family’s kind of unique in that Jon Boy doesn’t like potatoes, so we eat a lot of rice and noodles. Rice is healthier and easier, so I tend to make it more often than noodles. I think my current favorite chicken recipes are the Pepper Lime Chicken from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and a concoction of my own wherein the chicken is breaded in herbed breadcrumbs. For the latter, I like to play with the herb combinations depending on my mood.


We’re not big breakfast eaters, mostly because we have a hard time eating a lot right after we wake up, and we’re in too much of a hurry in the mornings to do more than cereal anyway. But I love breakfast foods, so I just make them at dinnertime. 🙂 Pancakes, waffles with strawberries, French toast, German pancakes, omelettes, breakfast burritos . . . yum!

Black Beans and Rice

I only make this about once a month, but it’s one of my favorite meals, so I had to list it. It’s easy and nutritious, and once again, everyone likes it. I love to put canned mandarin oranges, salsa, tomatoes, coconut, and hard-boiled eggs on top. Jon Boy prefers sour cream and cheese on his. I love customizable meals for families because everyone has their own tastes, and it allows the family to eat together without arguing over what to have as much.

Bonus: Jambalaya

Another one we eat about once a month. I’d probably make it more often, but with bacon, kielbasa sausage, and chicken in it, it’s not the cheapest meal to make.

So, what are your staple meals?

I’ve been in a bit of a stuff-purging mood lately. I don’t want to move things we don’t need and never use, and I don’t want to store them anymore either. With this in mind, I am trying to sell two nice lamps. I have them listed on Craigslist and KSL. I have had at least half a dozen people email or call me about them. Some have sounded pretty interested, to the point of asking for my address or trying to set up a time to come buy them. Still, over six weeks later, no one has shown up. It’s like there’s a curse on them. The most recent almost-buyers have included a woman who said she’d come on Saturday but never showed up and never called, a woman who was second in line if the first woman didn’t show up on Saturday but now apparently can’t afford them, and a woman who said she’d come last night. Then again, the woman from yesterday did call today to say she just had to work late and would try to come tonight instead.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’ve been kind of on a reading kick lately. I don’t usually have tons of time to read, but since these books are (mostly) short, quick reads, I’ve been able to read several of them at once. Most I have found on the Reader’s Choice shelf at my county library.

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich

I had heard this was wonderful from an acquaintance at church, so when I saw it at the library, I brought it home on impulse. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s nothing terribly deep, but as far as romantic comedies go, it really satisfied. The main character’s life is going fine until she interviews a quilt psychic and receives an impromptu reading of her own—saying that everything’s going to change. Soon she finds herself “towered”: her relationship with her best friend possibly over, her mother suddenly back in her life and asking forgiveness, and her job gone. She returns to the psychic, whom she believes is responsible, and ends up finding herself and finding love.

I loved the sassy, witty heroine and the strong voice of the author. The novel was well plotted with great supporting characters as well. Other than some language, it’s pretty clean as well, which is a bit of a plus for me. Grade: A.

The Serpent and the Rose by Kathleen Bryan

Encouraged by the success of randomly picking a book from the Reader’s Choice shelf, I asked Jon Boy to grab me something else from there when he went to the library. Since I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, he picked up a fantasy novel. While The Serpent and the Rose wasn’t bad, however, I kept finding myself wishing it were something else. It seemed rather simplistic with too soft a voice for the subject matter, in my opinion. There was forbidden romance at the heart of it—a duke’s heiress and a farm boy, both of whom have magical powers in a world where magic is well structured and cultivated. The boy’s magic is wild and untrained, however, and he ends up being pivotal in a battle between good and evil where the bad guys aren’t following any of the rules. Elements of the romantic and magical link between the two main characters were lovely, and I did generally enjoy the characters. But nothing was new; the book was your ordinary, run-of-the-mill fantasy. The Serpent and the Rose was the first in a trilogy, but I don’t think I will be reading the rest. Grade: C+.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

I’ve enjoyed Shannon Hale’s work since I read her first novel, The Goose Girl, about three years ago. Austenland is completely unlike the rest of her novels, though, in that it is a) not fantasy, and b) written in a much different style. To give you an idea, here are the first two sentences from the inside flap: “Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare.” For all fans of Colin Firth, Jane Austen, and witty dialogue, I highly recommend this book. It’s short and sweet. Oh, and it has one of the best summations of the orange–purple relationship (Peircian Semiotics) that I’ve ever read. Grade: A+.

The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker

If you’re looking for a fascinating, if tough, nonfiction read, this is it. I’m finding I can’t read more than about ten pages at a sitting before my brain starts leaking out my ears, but I really am enjoying it. Pinker examines features of language (mostly English) in depth and presents theories about how these features betray the way we think and who we are as human beings. Really, really interesting stuff. I just need to finish the book. 🙂

My maternity shirts are getting too short to cover my stomach. The bands on the pants start too loose to stay up on my tummy, and then magically become so tight and restrictive that I wear them under my tummy and still hate them. Too many of my shirts are too tight in the bust or just make me look like a beach ball. My favorite shirt right now is a shirt I bought in a juniors department clearance sale. It’s plenty long enough and billowy enough to get me through pregnancy, but somehow it’s also somewhat flattering. Why can’t the designers of my real maternity shirts get a clue?

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