Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Baby Update

Last Friday, I had my first official prenatal appointment. It was such a different experience than what I had when I was pregnant with Carlee. This doctor sucked. Seriously. Everything sucked. The exam (ladies you know what I'm talking about,) was the worst one I have EVER gotten. Then, when he finally got to the ultrasound part, the first machine wouldn't work, he couldn't figure out the second one forever. After which, he took over 15 minutes to find the baby! I was so scared something was wrong, I mean seriously, it's not that big in there. He finally found the baby, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw his/her little heart beating. Then the machine wouldn't let him measure the length of the baby in order to verify the due date. Another doctor came in, and it turns out he wasn't even in the right setting, so doctor #2 changed it, and the picture (which was fairly good,) was lost. He had to start all over.

He couldn't find the baby (again) and when he finally did (again) the picture was horrible. He couldn't even get a measurement. So, he scheduled a radiology ultrasound appointment in order to confirm the due date. uh... those suck. I have to drink 2 liters of water 1.5 hours before the appointment, drive all the way to base on a full bladder, wait for them to call me in, and sit for an hour scan. Did I mention they're going to have to do one of these between 18 and 20 weeks anyway? Yeah, I've decided to cancel the first one, and just wait. I saw her/his little heartbeat, that's all I needed to see. Anyway, so that was the appointment, oh and I had to get blood drawn (again) because the doctor thought I might have something going on with my thyroid. (But he wasn't sure....) ugh. Yeah, I think I'll be changing doctors for the next appointment.

Here she/he is!!! (you might have to squint.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

PhotoClub Trip #1: Caltagirone

We were super busy today. This morning we volunteered at our MOMS Club Beach Clean Up in Gela. That was really cool. I'll post another update on that, when my friend sends me the pictures she took.

What I do have photos of today, though, is our first ever Photography Club's "field trip." For our first, we chose Caltagirone to photograph the area around the city's main attraction of Scale di Santa Maria del Monte, which is a set of stairs with 142 steps tiled with hand painted tiles (no two levels, or tiles for that matter, are exactly alike.) We had a blast and thankfully Carlee was so well behaved, even after being in the sun and sand all morning! It was so much fun to spend time with people who also love photography, people watching, and of course eating! We found a little pizzeria with awesome bruschetta pizza and lemon granita! (*edit* I originally said gelato, but it was in fact granita, a flavored shaved ice type of treat, not ice cream.) Very nice! Here are my favorite pictures from the day:

I loved this window.
I love how the guy is looking at the clover in this one:

I think this is going to end up being my signature photo. LOL
This was us at the very top of the stairs (our first time ever climbing to the top!)

These were at that little pizzeria... I so wish they had been vegan. :) But they were very pretty.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Crocs spending Earth Day in the Wildflowers

Yesterday, my friend Angie called me and said, "It's a gorgeous day! The haze has finally lifted!" (We'd been waiting for that to happen....) "Do you want to go for a drive?" I thought about it for a few minutes, debating (because I thought it was closer to lunchtime than it actually was.) When I finally noticed the time, I happily agreed.

It was such a great way to spend Earth Day, to notice the little beautiful things... even in wildflowers (what some would call weeds,) on the side of the road. Here are my favorite pictures. I am not really great at landscapes, so I only have a few that made my cut (in no particular order.)

She was scared of bugs, but there were none, it was just the flowers....
What happened to my nature baby?

This one is my favorite ^

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

What are you doing to make a difference? Today should be the day you take a look at how you're living and decide if there is anything else you could possibly do to live better for the environment.

The most effective way you can help the planet is.... to go veg! (Or at least eat less meat.) How is this so, you may wonder. Well... it's true. Raising animals for food consumption not only wastes so much of Earth's resources, it also pollutes, and adds enormously to green house gases. A 2006 United Nations report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, Hummers, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

*Click on paragraph titles to read the whole article!*

How meat eating affects our land resource:
"According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institute, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed every minute, much of it to create more room for farmed animals. Of all the agricultural land in the U.S., nearly 80 percent is used in some way to raise animals—that's roughly half of the total land mass of the U.S.10 More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals."

"In the United States and around the world, overgrazing leads to the extinction of indigenous plant and animal species, soil erosion, and eventual desertification that renders once-fertile land barren."

How meat eating affects our food resource:
" This is why more than 70 percent of the grain and cereals that we grow in this country are fed to farmed animals."

"The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth.19 About 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.4 billion people, could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone."

How meat eating affects our energy resource:
"E, the respected environmental magazine, noted in 2002 that more than one-third of all fossil fuels produced in the United States are used to raise animals for food."
*In 2002! Imagine what it is today!*

"Most of us turn off the lights when we leave a room and attempt to conserve energy in other ways, but eating meat is the most inefficient and resource-intensive thing we do. If we Americans cut our meat consumption, our oil problems would be drastically reduced. "

How meat eating affects our water resource:
"It takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. A totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year."

How meat eating affects our rainforest resource:
"According to the nonprofit group Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of the Amazon rainforest were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms."
*This has continued since then to today!*

How meat eating is polluting our planet more than any other source of pollution:
Fecal Contamination:
"According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the run-off from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined."

"Animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire U.S. population, roughly 89,000 pounds per second, all without the benefit of waste treatment systems. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, animals on factory farms in America produce 20 tons of fecal matter each year for every U.S. household."

Water Pollution:
"The EPA reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement have polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. Besides the environmental problems caused by farmed animal waste, the dangerous fecal bacteria from farm sewage, including E. coli, can also cause serious illness in humans. "

"The pollution from animal factories is also destroying parts of the world’s oceans. In the middle of the United States, streams and rivers carry excrement from animal factories to the Mississippi River, which then deposits the waste in the Gulf of Mexico. The nitrogen from animal feces—and from fertilizer, which is primarily used to grow crops for farmed animals—causes algae populations to skyrocket, leaving little oxygen for other life forms. A 2006 report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone”—an area in which virtually all the sea animals and plants have died—is now half the size of Maryland. In 2006, a separate study by Princeton University found that a shift away from meat production—as well as Americans’ adoption of vegetarian diets—would dramatically reduce the amount of nitrogen in the Gulf to levels that would make the dead zone “small or non-existent.”

Air Pollution:
"A study in Texas found that animal feedlots in the state produce more than 14 million pounds of particulate dust every year and that the dust “contains biologically active organisms such as bacteria, mold, and fungi from the feces and the feed."
"The EPA reports that roughly 80 percent of ammonia emissions in the United States come from animal waste."

How meat eating affects global warming:
"A 2006 United Nations report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, Hummers, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined."

Even if you can't imagine living without eating meat, how about at least eating vegetarian once or twice a week? That's not hard is it? If everyone in our country did that, demand would drastically go down for factory farmed animals, and all of these bad affects would lessen!

Other things I do (and you can too!)
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Buy used if possible!
Natural Cleaning (there are a ton of recipes on the internet, I'm just getting started out with this, and I love it.)
Using a water filter (like Brita) instead of buying water bottles.
Cloth diapering (I am going to be doing this with the next baby, I really wish I had done it with Carlee.)
Take your own reusable bags to the grocery store.

But of course, the main thing that helps is eating more of a plant based diet.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's okay... You can drool...

Veganized Strawberry Shortcake!!
And oh my goodness... It was delicious! I wish I had that contraption on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so that I could send it to you through the tv or better yet the computer since that seems to be what's closer at this particular moment. :)

For the strawberries and shortbread, I used the recipe on the back of Heart Smart Bisquick box, needing only to replace the milk with soymilk. The last of the fresh strawberries from the market last week were quickly washed and sliced. And for the whip cream, I used the recipe off the back of the EnerG Egg Replacer box. I think I should have whipped it a little more, but I got a little impatient. lol It tasted wonderful though.

A few other things I received with the same order as my EnerG Egg Replacer were Tings and Tofu Scrambler. The Tings are so good, that it's dangerous. We find ourselves snacking on them when we should be choosing much healthier options, but for once in a while, they are a really nice treat (and of course they are much healthier than eating Cheetos. blech.) We had the tofu scramble tonight for dinner along with hash browns (and the strawberry shortcake for dessert.) I know a little scarce on the veggies tonight, but trust me, we had a load of them for last night's dinner. :) Anyway, it was really good! (If you are someone who hasn't read my past blogs, I LOVE eating breakfast for dinner!) I was pleasantly surprised with the scramble's seasoning mix, but a little disappointed that the box only comes with two packets. I guess I'll probably be sticking to the scramble recipe in VWAV, which I like just as much and it is a lot cheaper than buying the premade mix.

Monday, April 14, 2008

first unexpected preggo comment and red rice

I was walking to the store with Carlee to get some rice for a project, and a lady that I know saw me and waved. I waved back, and when I reached her, she bluntly said, "You look pregnant."

hunh. All I could think was... "Wow. You're so lucky I actually am."


As for the rice project... This week I'm working with Carlee on the letter R. She picked the letter. :) I made her some red colored rice (instructions here) to use to glue on letter Rs that I cut out for her. She loved the project, and then continued to play with the left over rice by "cooking" it at her little kitchen set that she begged for me to bring downstairs. :D

As soon as Tony walked in the door, I had to warn him, "Don't be mad," I said.

"Yeah, don't be mad, Daddy," said Carlee.

Tony looked around cautiously, "Uh, why?" I showed him what I made for Carlee, and he shrugged it off. It was not until right before dinner time, while he was sweeping up rice for the 6th time since he got home, that he admitted, "Ugh, that rice is an OCDer's nightmare."

I couldn't help but laugh.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friends + Food = A Good Time

Today, we went to a BBQ at an Italian friend's farm in Niscemi. It was so nice to be out, although it could have been a bit more sunny. The clouds were making it a bit chilly all day. We had great food, the vegans in the group (there's 5 of us now!) had grilled boca burgers on Italian bread, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and all the fixings. I made a yummy potato salad that everyone loved. I was so happy with how it came out. There was also chips, bean dip, and an awesome homemade salsa, and a noodle salad that was so delicious. Grilled artichokes made an appearance (they're farmed right there!) and grilled corn on the cob as well. We enjoyed all the company, and watching all of our kids play with the Italian kids was priceless. Carlee made a new best friend that she didn't want to leave. :)

I would love to have a farm like that, but even having something small that would sustain our family would be nice. They have artichokes, tomatoes, orange and lemon trees, fennel, squash, and honestly I don't know what else! Anyway, everyone had a blast. I hope we get to do it again soon. We're also planning on going to a nearby beach in a few weeks, to clean it up for Earth Day. I'm looking foward to that. Here is a pic from the guys' chicken fight today:

This was hilarious to watch. Tony and his partner won both times. In the picture, Tony is on the right on top fighting Carmello on the top left:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

new lens

yay! my lens is on the way!

Experimenting with Aperture Priority Setting!

Tony and I (and my friend Ang and her husband and our other friend A) recently joined a brand new photography club here in good old Sigonella, where we pretty much jump on any chance to do something fun. We attended our first meeting/class/potluck on Saturday the 5th. Our first "homework" assignment was to research the aperture setting on our personal camera, and to experiment with it creating two pictures: one with a narrow depth of field (where only a little piece is in focus) and one with a wide depth of field (where a larger piece is in focus.)

Yesterday, after playing with the camera, I was really frustrated because every picture (whether on the aperture setting or the shutter setting) looked the same! And I couldn't figure out how to change the aperture anyway. Well, after a while I headed indoors (as I was working on Carlee and flowers,) and I decided to *gasp* read the manual. I found the page... and turns out there's a nifty little wheel that I was supposed to be using. LOL. I didn't know that applied to the aperture setting. Well, I got really excited to try it, and my battery decided to die.

So, today, I tried again. And none of my pictures were working. The narrow depth of field pictures (low F stops) were coming out fine, because the shutter was fairly fast. All of my wide depth of field pictures (high F stops) were coming out blurry and I couldn't figure out why. On top of that, for some reason, when in Aperture Priority setting, my camera only wants to focus on the right third of the picture frame. I don't get it. I don't see anywhere to change that. When I switch back to automatic, it lets me focus anywhere. Very weird...

Finally this afternoon, on another attempt I brought out my tripod. Still, they were coming out blurry. You see, at the moment, I am using my 55-200mm lens because my shorter one is broken. I am not used to using this longer lens, and every breath, every movement is amplified with a longer lens, and especially when trying to shoot wide depth of field pics when the shutter has to stay open longer. It finally clicked.... the timer! duh. So I finally got my pics to come out right.

My subject ended up being simple since I was seriously about to throw this lens at the window. haha (not really.) But in the end, I'm happy with it as my first successful attempt at the different depths of field. Maybe I'll try again with some different subjects later. I really had wanted to do one of Carlee holding out a flower, one focused only on the flower and the other focused on both Carlee and the flower.. so we'll see. I definitely need more practice anyway.

Overall, I am just so excited to finally be out of the automatic setting! And I seriously need to order a new 18-55mm lens. Anyway, here are the pics:

Narrow Depth of Field
1/20 sec at F/4.8

Wide Depth of Field
1.3 sec at F/25
(no wonder I couldn't hold it still long enough!)

My camera is a Nikon D-50 that we bought a little over 2 years ago... a nice camera if you know how to use it. lol... I'll get there, I promise. :0)

a new art table!

I have been looking for a good table for Carlee to do her artwork at, and this is perfect! I found this at a garage sale on the way to the park for a MOMS Club lunch. Three other moms were already there, so thankfully none of them wanted this. One did however get this nifty sandbox table that I would have bought as well. But then again, I've been planning on just getting a shallow storage container to put on top of the coffee table. I recently saw on a blog that a good thing to use is colored rice, much easier to pick up than sand. I'll have to make some of that for Carlee. Anyway, she loves this already. I can't wait to get it set up upstairs with all her art supplies readily available. *edit* So I googled this set, and at Target, it's $80! I paid only $15. :D Very nice!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sneaky Viruses....

About two weeks ago, Carlee came down with this cough. She wasn't acting sick or anything, so I assumed it was just allergies, as she usually does come down with them around this time and in the fall here. Anyway, about a week ago, Tony came down with the same cough, but over the course of yesterday and last night, it got really bad. For some reason he got hit by this bug a lot harder than Carlee did.

So he called me this morning and tells me he's coming home early from work in order to go to the doctors. The appointment took forever, and I knew that wasn't a good sign. He finally came out, looking all pale, and said, "It's a viral strain of pneumonia."


Which means, he probably got it from Carlee, since she had the cough first. He asked if we should take Carlee in, but the doctor said to not even bother as long as she was acting normal, eating, and drinking, because there's nothing they could give her. She has to fight it off. Tony asked if they were contagious, and the doctor said, "Well, you were around a week or two ago. Two to three days before you start having symptoms is when you're contagious."

sneaky sneaky viruses.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Five Love Languages

I just finished reading this book: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and all I can say is WOW! I am seriously so glad that I was introduced to this book now and not years and years later. It is an eye opener for marriage.

Tony and I have been married for a little over 4 years, and things are going good, don't get me wrong, but sometimes (of course) we look at our life together and think, "Geez... what's changed? Because something has." Now, I know that we love each other, but some days it just felt like we were going through the motions of life. It personally seemed to me that Tony didn't want to take the time to show me that he loved me. I tried showing him, I would want to spend time together and do things together, but he didn't seem too interested. Some days it broke my heart.

What was the problem? We speak different love languages! I have never even heard of such a thing before this. How could someone think love was something different from what I thought it was? Isn't it the same thing? I equate love to quality time spent together, focused one on one time, simply being together doing whatever. Turns out, this doesn't mean much at all to Tony; his love language is Acts of Service! Duh. No wonder. He sees acts of service (such as me cleaning, doing laundry, cooking for him) as my showing love. I never thought that that would be the main thing that showed I loved him. And believe you me, I am not the world's best housekeeper. A spotless house is not high on my priority list, I'd rather be playing with Carlee, doing something creative (i.e. making a bigger mess) or generally just having a good time. Why waste time meticulously detailing the house? Now, I do normal stuff, but having things out of place, Carlee's toys on the floor, clothes that stay folded in the basket for longer than they should, a few dishes in the sink until I get to them, honestly doesn't bother me. So this revelation is a hard one for me. This whole time that I've been ignoring certain things for so long, I've been telling Tony, "I don't love you."


And it's so hard for me to wrap my brain around, because acts of service doesn't equal LOVE to me! But I have to accept that it does for my husband, and I really want to express my love to him in his language. So, I will be trying even harder to be better at the house stuff, which is also cool, because I'm getting into natural cleaning too. Anyway...

My love language is Quality Time, which is what I thought it was for everyone. This is also why when Tony could have cared less about just sitting down and talking with me, it really stung. Now I see. Tony will be reading the book this week. I'm really looking forward to having a discussion about it. I've already started on my end, the kitchen looks marvelous, the floors are mopped, and dinner was pumpkin waffles that Tony wanted... all because I love him.

Obviously, I highly recommend this book. :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

An afternoon in Ramacca

Today we went to Ramacca's artichoke festival. We finally found some grilled artichokes! Can't you tell how ecstatic Tony was?!? (We went to Niscemi's artichoke festival about a week ago, but went too early in the day, and there was no grilled artichokes to be found.) Ramacca's festival this year seemed a lot bigger than last year, but it could be because we went during the day this time when the huge market was still open. There were so many pictures I wanted to take, but since Carlee's stroller was full of 8 kilos of blood oranges (5 euro) and a whole crate's worth of artichokes (2 euro,) I was having to hold her hand and make sure she wasn't kidnapped by gypsies (just kidding.) But I didn't want to lose her in the mass of people that's for sure.

The day was nice until after we ate, and then Carlee caught sight of a balloon unicorn she wanted from a toy vendor. ugh, I dread facing those guys, they will pretty much shove things in your kid's hands to make you buy them. Well, that's exactly what he did, he immediately took the unicorn off and handed it to Carlee. Tony asked how much. "Five euro," the guy said. 5 EURO! for a plastic balloon toy thing! (Right at this minute, 5 euro is $7.86!) Tony took back the balloon and gave it to the guy. He went down to 4 euro giving it to Carlee again. No thanks, Tony gave it back. I think he went down to 3 euro (which I think was what he was charging Italians to begin with) and which I would have paid but we were trying to walk off. He caught up with Carlee and gave it to her again, angrily saying, "Regalo!" (a gift!) ugh. He knew we weren't going to walk off without giving him something for it. Tony ended up giving him a 2 euro coin. He angrily said something to Tony about how we could just afford to eat the artichokes and pay for that but we couldn't pay for a balloon animal.

Ohhh I wish I knew more Italian. I mean seriously there's a big difference between lunch for 2 and 1/2 people costing 4 euro (for 8 grilled artichokes) and paying 5 euro for a balloon toy that was cheaply made in China, and will inevitably end up in the trash. Plus I would have reminded him that for us, the euro is way more expensive that what they are used to, and if we didn't want to buy a toy, then that's our choice as a consumer, so tough. oh I don't know... Sometimes I think we're just getting a little burned out on being here. Just a little.... lol. On a more chipper note, Carlee fell in love the unicorn and played with it all afternoon while we cooked dinner. I did feel like we should have paid 3 euro for it, but if the vendor would have just asked for 3 from the beginning, instead of trying to get the most out of the Americans, he would have gotten the 3 euro.

these are AWESOME!

I can't WAIT to get one of these for Carlee!

These are in the All Services Exchange Catalog for only $99! The age requirement is 4, but I think Carlee will be okay. You know, it's never too early to start a good workout regimen. You know, indoor walking and indoor cycling?

I mean... I guess I could just go for a walk with her outside... or ride bikes with her to the park... but...



Thursday, April 3, 2008

I hate the Internet....

it's such a time sucker.

I really should set a timer. All this time after I put Carlee to bed, I could have been doing something productive. Cleaning (well, I did get the kitchen done,) or better yet, cardmaking, or even better finishing Carlee's BABY SCRAPBOOK!!! geez.

where is that timer anyway?


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I crack myself up...

I posted this on my friend's myspace (she's moving soon and I already knew she was preggers.)

"OMG you're PREGNANT!?! AHHHH!!!! CONGRATS!!!! :) I'm going to kidnap you and keep you hidden in our Harry Potter Closet, don't worry I'll move the catbox somewhere else."

I couldn't stop laughing at myself. If my mom or sister were here, they would have laughed at me laughing, and then I would have laughed at them laughing, and then we wouldn't be able to stop laughing... I miss that.

wow. okay, that went from funny to sad in about .2 seconds! *Miss you two!*

On another note, I had my first "appointment" yesterday. I had to get up at 6 AM to get ready, and wake Carlee at 6:30 to get her ready. After waking up, Carlee said, "Mommy, my eyes are tired. Are we going on the plane?" Anytime she gets up really early, she relates that to us getting on the MAC flights at 3 AM. :( We finally left the house at 7 AM to get to base by 7:45 (the time I was told to get there.)

Well, I was the first one there. I did my huge paper work packet, and waited and waited and waited for the rest of the girls that were included in my group. The first "appointment" is more like a class with speakers such as the WIC people, a nutritionist, visiting nurse, etc. Then you get bloodwork done, then you get a one on one with the nurse, and then you finally get to go home. Anyway, the rest of the class didn't show up until 8:30ish, then we finally got started. If I had known that I would have slept in. I was bored anyway, only one of the girls is a first time mom, the rest of us had had kids already. It did remind me of when Carlee was firstborn though. I caught myself daydreaming about those first few days, and thought, "Oh yeah..." *smile* I can't wait. :D

Anyway, so things are going good. I'm at 7 1/2 weeks *Due Nov. 16th!* (so if you can, send positive thoughts and prayers because I'm still so early.) My weight is good (I've put on 2 pounds). I'm slightly showing, but you wouldn't notice it. Only Tony and I can see it, well, because we know what my tummy looked like before. :) My BMI is good, eating is great, exercise is good, etc. No morning sickness as of yet, the only effect I'm feeling is being tired at the end of the day. Really tired. I told Tony, it wasn't like this with Carlee. He said, "Well, Sheena, when you were pregnant with Carlee you didn't have an almost 3 year old Carlee to run after." LOL I'm really excited about this pregnancy. I'm so much more health conscious than when I was pregnant with Carlee (and even then I was somewhat health conscious,) and I really feel like it's going to make a big difference. I can't wait to see how much of a difference.

Hope everyone is having a good week!


Remember the crow on Secret of Nimh? He would love my U card. :) I went to another class last week that was completely filled up and so worth it. We made my two favorite cards yet, both in one night. We were warned that we would end up going home covered in glitter, and we didn't leave disappointed. Here are the cards:

I hate how my scanner focuses on the embellishments... but oh well. And I'm horrible at putting them on the scanner straight... lol Anyway, aren't those adorable? I had a good time, and am really enjoying the girls that are in my stamp club. I was really quiet the first few times I went, but now after getting to know them, I'm laughing and cracking jokes as much as they are. It's a lot of fun.