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Tuesday
Jan102012

Random Stuff I Want To Say

As Alexis and I sat curled up on the couch, I tried to find *something* on TV for us to watch together. I'm going to start having violent thoughts about most every kid that's on The Disney Channel if I have to watch much more of their antics, so I started searching through a couple of the major networks for something worthwhile.

Of course, the local news was the only thing I could find.

I paused on one of the channels for a moment. Alexis turned to me and said, "Momma, you better change the channel. If I watch the news I worry about death and dying too much and then I don't let you sleep."

If she ever decides to go into sales, LOOK OUT. She can put some serious spin on absolutely anything.

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If you haven't read the comments on yesterday's post, you should. It's unanimous: asking a woman about anything related to having a baby is a bad idea.

You guys are amazing. Thank you.

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There are two giveaways currently running around here:

Somebody is going to win. Why not you?

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I'm still working on getting my photography site ready for public consumption, but in the meantime I am booking photography sessions for January and February. Sessions are $75. That will get you 5-7 edited images on a CD along with a release to have them printed wherever you would like. Email me at burghbaby (at) gmail.com to schedule a session. I have openings just about every week day and a few weekend spots as well.

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Also still available are private photography tutoring sessions. $100 gets you one hour of personalized instruction. Email me at burghbaby (at) gmail.com to schedule.

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On January 31st from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, I will be running a course entitled "Getting Started With Your DSLR." The course has been developed specifically for people who have a DSLR, but who are stuck in automatic mode. The goal of the course will be to help you inch away from automatic. I will cover the essential camera settings and when to use them, I'll give you an introduction to the basic principles of photography, and we'll spend some time talking about how you can immediately improve your photographs.

The cost of the 4-hour course is $75. Seats are limited, so if you are interested, please email me at burghbaby (at) gmail.com for more information or to enroll.

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The husband-type-person has entirely too much vacation time, so he's currently muddling through yet another "use it or lose it" week. His mission has been to clean out the storage room and YOU GUYS. THE STUFF HE HAS FOUND.

There is going to be a post or two or ten about some of the craziness. So far Milli Vanilli-style shorts, an NKOTB t-shirt, and an anatomically correct-ish Barbie have all led to entirely too much laughter.

Just you wait.

Monday
Jan092012

Far Too Many People Have Been Hurt By Good Intentions

They say there's no such thing as a dumb question, but that's not true. There is such a thing as a dumb question.

"When are you guys going to start your family?"

"Are you going to try for a girl?"

"Are you pregnant yet?"

"Shouldn't you be working on baby number two by now?"

They're all dumb questions. Unless you know the story, it's really none of your business. You shouldn't ask.

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Many of my friends have stories that go along with why their families are the size they are. The stories are so varied and often filled with sadness and tragedy and heartache. They aren't unique, though. Their stories are the same stories that belong to many people.

And some of my friends have stories that go along with why their families are the size they are, but their stories are filled with joy and contentment and conscious decisions. They aren't unique either, as many of the stories are shared by many people.

The problem is you can't know who is walking around with unfulfilled dreams in their pocket and who is perfectly happy with their fertility situation.

And, frankly, it's none of your business.

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"When are you guys going to start your family?"

Oh, sure, it's an innocent question. A conversation starter, if you will. But, really, if you ask a woman who has fought through years of fertility treatments and heartache that question? You're a jerk.

No. Really. You're a jerk.

Just don't ask. If she wants to tell you her story, she will.

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"Are you going to try for a girl?"

Aw, that's cute how you think that because someone has two boys, she must not be satisfied with her  family. Certainly she can't be satisfied until she has a girl, right?

Wrong.

It doesn't matter what the situation is, but perhaps she is happy with her family exactly as it is.

Perhaps she doesn't have a choice in the matter. Maybe thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in fertility treatments has gotten her where she is and she's  just over-the-moon happy with those cards she's been dealt.

Maybe she had a pregnancy you don't know about. Maybe she relinquished custody of a little girl long before she was ready to start a family.

You just might be shoving a dagger in her heart when you ask that question. I know you mean well, but is it really any of your business?

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"Are you pregnant yet?"

Wow. So you think it's OK to ask a woman that question? You don't think maybe she would tell you that she's pregnant if she were ready for that little bit of sharing?

What if she suffered a miscarriage just weeks ago? You can't know by looking at the woman, but you might see a glimmer of sadness pass through her eyes as you stupidly throw your words in the air.

Or maybe she desperately wants to be pregnant and has spent the past several months charting and testing and peeing on sticks and she has no idea what is wrong, but it's not working. Nothing is working. How is she supposed to respond when you ask her if she's pregnant?

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"Shouldn't you be working on baby number two by now?"

That's cute how you think that's any of your business. Maybe it took over five years of trying to get baby number one and maybe she's just incredibly grateful that she was given that gift.

Maybe pregnancy is miserable for her.

Maybe pregnancy is dangerous for her.

Maybe another pregnancy just isn't in her cards.

You don't know.

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In ten years of trying, we've been blessed with one beautiful, smart, vibrant little girl.

We think we're incredibly lucky.

 

Sunday
Jan082012

Hot Chocolate This Way And That Way

There are dozens of different ways to make hot chocolate, but if your way includes the box of pre-packaged "cocoa," STOP IT.

Here's why.

I don't know. Maybe I'm crazy, but "corn syrup solids" sounds like the sort of thing I prefer not to consume. And don't get my started on the "dairy product solids" and the vegetable oil because I'm trying not to think about them.

Yeah, I know. I'm turning into a hippy or something. It's not really a new revelation, which I can prove because that box of crap hot chocolate mix?

Yes. So. That. Always check the expiration date on processed food before eating it in my house. Heh.

Anyway, there's really no good reason to buy the crap hot chocolate because it's super easy to make without the corn syrup solids and such. And, no, I'm not going to tell you to whip out a double boiler and a candy bar and ask that you figure out the exact right temperature to make that whole thing work out. That's too much work for me. Instead, I present to you a few EASY ways to make hot cocoa, one of which might be confused for "healthy." Sort of. At least you will be able to read all of the ingredients.

First up, the not-exactly-healthy-but-OH-MY-WORD-SOOOOO-GOOD hot chocolate.

Nutella Hot Chocolate.

Yeah, you heard me. Nutella Hot Chocolate.

This one is ridiculously easy. You heat up some milk (in the microwave is fine) and you stir in a few spoonfuls of Nutella.

That's it.

I promise the Nutella will melt just so long as your milk is warm enough. You can always throw it back in the microwave if you need to.

Regardless, THAT is my favorite way to make hot cocoa. By a mile.

My second favorite way is to make my own dry mix. You can scale this recipe to make as much or as little as you would like and you can adjust it according to your own tastes. Want less sugar? Go for it! Want super-chocolatey hot chocolate? Do it! Want to stick to only ingredients you can pronounce? You can do that!

It's a 3-4 ingredient list to make your own hot chocolate mix.

You start with dry milk.

You add some powdered sugar.

Add a little bit of unsweetened cocoa.

And then comes the step where you can get all wild and crazy.

The fourth ingredient is optional as its purpose is to make the hot chocolate a little creamier. If you don't care about that and would rather stick to a "pure" recipe, by all means, skip it! (If you skip it, your ingredients list for hot chocolate will be: milk, cocoa, and sugar. Perhaps not the healthiest list since sugar is never a good thing, but the ingredients are certainly far less processed than what you buy in the Nestle box).

If you want to go with a version that is close to what comes in that box that expired four years ago, go with plain old non-dairy creamer as your fourth ingredient. Or! Or! You can get wild and crazy and use a flavored non-dairy creamer. I had Vanilla Caramel on hand the last time I made hot chocolate mix.

Once you have your three or four ingredients in the bowl, just mix it all up.

Tah-dah! Your own hot chocolate mix!

You can get fancy and make some to package up for gifts, or just make it for yourself. I personally make a fairly small batch (exact measurements are below) and put any extra in a storage bag for future use.

It tastes *so* much better than store bought hot chocolate. And the best part is that you can alter it a bit so that it is exactly what you want it to be.

Oh, and if you want to get REALLY brave, try making it into a Mayan Hot Chocolate. Use your regular mix (no funky flavored non-dairy creamer) and add a bit of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper.

It sounds crazy, but when it's all mixed up, it's AMAZING.

You won't even need whip cream or marshmallows for the Mayan Hot Chocolate. It stands alone just fine.

So, the recipes:

Nutella Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk
2-3 spoonfuls of Nutella

Heat the milk in a microwave-safe mug. (In my microwave, it takes two minutes for the milk to be hot enough to melt the Nutella.) Gently stir in the Nutella until melted. Enjoy!

 

Hot Chocolate Mix (makes approximately 4 servings)

1 cup dry milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons non-dairy creamer (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well-blended.

To make the hot chocolate, heat one cup of water. And 1/2 cup of hot cocoa mix. Stir until well blended. (Obviously, you can adjust the amount of hot cocoa mix you use according to how you like your hot cocoa. This is the ratio that works for us.)

 

Mayan Hot Chocolate

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup Hot Cocoa Mix
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper

Just mix it all together and enjoy!