Sunday, February 27, 2011

A little poke here, a little prod there ...

I saw my oncologist this past week and had a great visit (sentimental and sappy post to come).  I ran into one of the oncology nurses that administered my chemo over 5 years ago and it was great to catch up.  He was thrilled to see I'm expecting and the entire office staff was doting over the baby bump.  I see my oncologist every four months and it's crazy to think that I'll be a Mother at my next visit!  Of course the entire staff insisted I bring Baby Kelly with me, if possible. 

My appointments these days are pretty routine.  Weight, blood pressure, temperature, bloodwork.  How are you feeling?  Any noticeable lymph node enlargement?  Night sweats?  Any other symptoms or issues?  Then we move onto the physical exam.  Because it's my lymph nodes that are affected by the cancer cells, they check my neck, underarms, abdomen and spleen.  Since I'm so special and such a fun, easy-going patient, my doctor always has a medical student or resident with him (read:  really it's the cancer that is special in the case of my diagnosis, but I prefer to think it's because I'm so awesome). 

This time was no different in that a third year medical student was with him.  Having several close friends that are doctors I never mind having a student examine me at these routine appointments.  We went through the usual round of questions, this time also discussing how I met my doctor's wife at a Junior League meeting, and then started the exam.  My doctor listened to my heart and lungs and then palpated my neck and underarms.  Then he looked at the med student and said "OK, why don't you check her abdomen and spleen for swellling."  I seriously almost peed my pant when he said that.  I mean, how, with this belly do you poke and prod anything except the belly? 

The med student was very professional and gently prodded around my "bump" and reported that she felt nothing out of the ordinary ... other than the the small melon that I'm growing ...

Friday, February 25, 2011

What's Cookin': Blackberry Cobbler

My contribution to our Valentine's Day dinner was a delicious Blackberry Cobbler, recipe courtesy of my friend Carrie.  Carrie and I met through mutual friends when she was in Medical School and most recently her fellowship landed her in Cincinnati for a few years at Children's Hospital.  We've since bonded over our love of good local food, Broadway performances and the TV show Glee.  During our latest Glee date I supplied the salad and pizza and she brought a wonderful cobbler.  (Mike took the Glee date as a cue to assemble the crib ... a win-win for everyone)  I knew the cobbler was a hit when Carrie and I both went back for seconds and Mike looked as though he'd just lost his puppy when I told him I sent Carrie home with the leftover (she needs fuel to save children's lives!).  The recipe couldn't be easier and I would think you could substitute any berry of your liking.

Easy Peasy Blackberry Cobbler

2 pints fresh blackberries (or any other fruit of your liking)
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rinse fruit and put in a greased 8x8 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle fruit with lemon juice. 

In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar and egg to form a crumble.  Sprinkle crumble over the fruit evenly.  Drizzle butter over the top of the crumb mixture. 

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until bubbly at the edges and the topping starts to turn golden brown. 

Enjoy with vanilla ice cream to make your tummy very happy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I fought the law ...

... and I won!  The "law" in this case is our county auditor and the "fight" was our property value assessment as used to calculate our semi-annual property tax.  It really wasn't a big ordeal since we bought the house in April and had a recent appraisal and settlement statement; just filling out a form and gathering the supporting paperwork with a notarized signature.  But it still feels nice!  I've mentioned before that the housing market was definitely in our favor when we sold our home (only a small gain, but no loss!) and bought this home; and that remains true for the assessment.  I joked with my Dad that this will allow us to set up a college fund for Baby Kelly, but in all honesty, I'm not sure exactly how much we'll save over the next few years (my rough estimates are about $750 per year).  That said, I'll take what we can get as diapers and daycare aren't cheap : )

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's the thought that counts

Dealing with a pregnant, hormonal woman can't be easy from the other side ... the emotions, the side effects, the lack of feeling "pretty" in anything you put on, the worry about the upcoming birth and child raising ... I extend a kudos to Mike for trying his best, he definitely gets an A for effort!  Unfortunately the stars don't always align or stick to the same grading scale. 

A few months ago he arranged to have flowers delivered to me on a day I was working from home.  Upon arrival that evening he was surprised I hadn't called to thank him or gush over how much I loved the gesture.  That's because they never arrived.  I told him to call the florist and cancel the order, and we could treat ourselves to a nice dinner out instead.  Fast forward a few months ...

At 5:05pm on Monday, Valentine's Day ...

Mike:  Did you have any missed calls today at work? 

Me:  Nope, none, today has actually been pretty quiet, why?

Mike:  No reason ... well, OK, I had flowers sent to your office, they assured me they would arrive by 5pm ... are you sure they didn't arrive?

Me:  Nope, our secretaries are awesome, they definitely would have called me ... and it's after 5pm now so our doors are locked, there's no hope for delivery today. 

Mike:  Dang it!  I can't believe this happened .... AGAIN. 

Side notes:  He'd used a national floral company this time in hopes they'd have their act together ... and all hope wasn't lost as he purchased me a gift certificate for a massage (definitely will be used ASAP!) and also made dinner that night (his wonderful Vodka Pasta!).  Definitely A for effort and almost perfect execution : )  I have since let my pregnancy hormones out on a deserving party (for once) and sent very stern note regarding our dissatisfaction to the national floral company. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What's Cookin': The perfect chocolate chip cookie

I have long been in search of "the perfect" homemade chocolate chip cookie ... not that I really searched that extensively since I have a low patience level for baking cookies period.  Mike's Mom makes a great cookie, but I can't get her recipe to turn out in my oven ... some recipes are best left to the master, I suppose.  So, while this post does contain a recipe, it's also the story of my journey to find the perfect homemade chocolate chip cookie ...

To start from the beginning, I joined the Junior League this year in an effort to get more involved in local volunteer efforts and to meet women in my own community.  So far it's been a win-win and I'm very glad I took the plunge.  I was worried that my responsibilities would include a lot of "meetings" and other administrative "things," but I've been pleasantly surprised at how they are able to mix the two.  For example, in December in lieu of a regular meeting I spent two hours cleaning donated toys in preparation for a toy sale allowing low income parents to provide Christmas presents for their children.  In January we made fleece blankets for the local Ronald McDonald house and this past month we had the option to learn, first-hand, about fellow JL members making a difference in our community. 

Bake me Home is an inspirational charity, founded by two young girls as a way to give back to a homeless shelter they were already supporting.  They started by providing a jar of layered cookie mix to families that were "graduating" from various homeless shelters in town.  They have since started a family portrait program for these same families and are also sending cookies to troops overseas (if you know of someone serving, a $30 donation will do the trick).  It was simply inspiring to hear how much of an impact something as simple as bringing a family together, through food, can make.  And the thought process that went into their Tote Bag program is amazing ... from providing all of the supplies for the cookies, including the baking gear, to a grocery gift card to help start in building a pantry, to toothbrushes and toothpaste (items not covered by food stamps), it's really amazing. 

So, a few weeks ago I trekked to a local church in lieu of a general meeting and heard more about the organization from the founders and then the small group of us assembled a few dozen cookie jars.  I was happy to make a donation to such a good cause and in return was offered a jar of the mix to take home.  I dare you to find a pregnant woman that would say no to that offer.  I thought the jar in and of itself was a great concept (all dry ingredients ready to go with only needing 2 eggs and stick of butter!) and I hope to replicate for friends and family during the holiday season. 

My sweet tooth beckoned yesterday and knowing the mixing process would take only a minute or two, I went to work.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I don't what it is about this recipe, but these cookies are just delicious.  They baked up in the amount of time the recipe stated (usually cookies my oven take much longer) and were the perfect amount of crunchy and soft.  So, give this recipe a try sometime ... and if you're feeling generous donate to this organization so that they may continue their fantastic work;  it's a win-win : )

Bake Me Home Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup oatmeal (quick oats)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 stick melted butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together with a large spoon. (Mix by hand for best results)  Drop spoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-12 minutes. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies (using my cookie scoop, I got 2 1/2 dozen).

For best results, we do NOT recommend using insulated cooking sheets.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Different house, same routine ...

Last year Daisy intrigued me with her interest in the Puppy Bowl and I thought it was just a fluke.  Not so fast ... as I replayed a portion the other night (it gives me warm fuzzies after a rough day), she perked right up again and "watched" for almost an hour.  At one point she even walked behind the TV to see if she could find the puppies and join in on the fun.  Milo watched in for a few minutes, but then started meowing, I'm sure trying to tell me that TV will rot all of our brains and our time is best spent doting on him ...

2011 ... new house, same obsession

We start the bad habits early in the Kelly household ...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

While you were out ...

Milo is definitely a cat of a different color.  We think that if he were a human he'd be Monk ... very loveable, but definitely quirky (I'd go into detail, but then you'd all be nominating me for the Crazy Cat Lady of the Year Award).  Ever since moving into the new house he's had a thing with "investigating" ... he is obsessed with the basement, both the finished and unfinished parts and hates that we don't leave the door open at all times for his access.  He is obsessed with closets and feels that any closed door is shut because there is something super-exciting going on.  He routinely opens the lower kitchen cabinets, peeks his head in and then moves along with his daily routine. 

Fast forward to when we returned from our trip to Florida last month.  We have a wonderful neighbor that watches the cats when we are away ... she goes over daily, feeds them, plays with them and generally spoils them.  She left us a note this last time saying she couldn't find any of their toys and hence brought over a new one for them (now Daisy's favorite).  As we were putting our luggage away and unpacking in general we noticed the doors and drawers to the dresser and nightstand in one of the guest rooms were opened.  Odd ... and a little creepy.  Did Margo open them looking for cat toys?  Not where you think one would look and why would she be upstairs anyway?  We closed the drawers and went about our lives ... until a few days later when we noticed they were opened again.  Cleary the result of Mr. OCD.  Gee ... wonder where he gets it from? 

Nope, not a ghost or nosy neighbor ... just Milo : )

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making our House a Home: The Nursery (Part 1)

We lucked out when we moved into our house in that not much needed to be updated.  We recently tackled the the powder room and one of the guest rooms and all we really had left was preparing the nusery for Baby Kelly.  I've mentioned before that the previous owners had an obsession with paint in any and all shades of green; well, the nursery was an odd room out in paint color and came to us in a nice neutral beige, but don't worry, we found out as we were working that the color prior was a "nice," very bright, lime green. That said, the beige didn't necessarily fit Baby Kellly's nursery taste (aka, Mama Kelly's taste), so we went to work redecorating.

The room came with a chair rail and hence the idea to have wainscoting installed popped into my pregnant brain;  but nothing fancy, just beadboard (aka panelling) that would be an easy clean up when the room is converted to a playroom down the road. One simple word didn't make it into the conversations Mike had with our contractors ... "beadboard." So, upon returning from a prenatal massage earlier in January, I found the nursery totally finished with traditional wainscoting.  No problem to someone with average hormone levels ... afterall ... it's nicer and actually what I preferred, but figured it would cost more than we wanted to spend on the project. 

The Plan (easy peasy, just hang
and be done with it)

The Result (except ours needed to be caulked
and primed before being painted)
So, remember above I used the term "average hormone levels"?  Yeah ... that wasn't me that day.  That coupled with the "tragedy of the Ann Taylor pants" had me in tears.  Never to worry ... after caulking for almost an entire day and a little elbow grease the room looks great and was totally worth the extra time it took to finish ... and yes, I realize I have one of the best and most understanding husbands in the entire world (I promise I'm not buttering him up ... he doesn't even read the blog, ha).  The silver lining was that our contractor had surplus crown molding from a job earlier in the week and installed it for just $50 more (a steal if you ask me!!).  We sitll need furniture (ordered this past weekend), but we're off to a great start ...

Before (yes, this room was used to house some of our laundry)

After ... a nice soothing yellow and some lovely wainscoting : )
Perhaps the neatest part about this project is that the best is yet to come ... on or around May 28 the final accessory will be put into place  : )

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Baby Bump: 24 weeks

My how time flies ... and how Baby Kelly is growing!  Topping out at about a pound and a quarter and 12 inches long (length of an ear of corn) we have a mover and shaker.  I started to feel distinct and regular movement last week and the baby seems to be most active in the afternoon / evening.  My doctor assured me this week that I won't feel anything strong at this point, but will notice more active movements over the next month as the poundage is packed on. 

I had a pretty good 23 week appointment ... a bigger weight gain and another slightly elevated blood pressure, but candidly I haven't been eating or working out the way I should be.  I needed to hear that to literally get my butt in gear and exercise will help with both.  A regular 4-5 days a week doing cardio or yoga and focusing on portion size and quality of food (fruits and veggies and not giving into the sweet tooth as much) should be just what the doctor ordered.  Otherwise I'm measuring right on track and we heard a very healthy heartbeat.  Next month is the initial glucose screening and hopefully I "pass" the first round and don't have to advance to the 3-hour test. 

Baby Kelly continues to move through the produce section ... carrot to spaghetti squash to mango to corn.
** All sizing pictures courtesy of **

"Fun" (but totally worth it) side effects include the beginning stages of waddling, indigestion like no other (this baby better have a full head of hair!!), being out of breath much easier than before and more regular headaches.  Regarding the gender ... we still don't know the details, but I have had two distinct dreams about delivering a baby boy. Mike and his Mom have also had dreams that I had a baby boy, so more often than not we default to calling the Baby a "him."  We'll be elated either way, but it will be interesting to see if our minds were playing tricks on us or not : )

This weekend we painted the nursery and ordered the crib and I am really excited to see it all come together!  The nursery has been a bit of an exercise in patience for me, with three out of town weekends in a row in January and unexpected extra work required with the wainscoting.  I may or may not have had a nervous breakdown last week over the fact that I HATE having an unfinished project.  I'm a bit OCD as is, but mix in pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep and you would have thought the world was coming to an end.  Luckily a full blown crisis was averted by a supportive husband : ) Stay tuned as we finish the nursery, start birthing classes and continue to tour daycare centers, and in the meantime, enjoy some "bump" pictures.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

You can call her Gigi in a few months ...

On January 25 my wonderful Mother turned 29 for the 31st time : ) My original (pre-pregnancy) grand plan was to throw her a surprise party in Lexington, but that morphed into a nice dinner out with family, which morphed into a dinner "in" once the UK schedule showed the Cats playing at 6pm on Saturday evening. So, we went back to our roots and ordered BBQ with all the fixins' from Billy's (I did make some homemade baked beans) and cupcakes from Gigi's (no coincidence, ha). A mother-daughter manicure and pedicure started a wonderful afternoon / evening and coupled with great company and a win from the Cats, it was a wonderful way to celebrate a VERY special lady!

And, if you haven't had a Gigi's cupcake, try to swing by their Richmond Road shop ASAP.  We sampled the Birthday Surprise, White Midnight Magic, Red Velvet and Kentucky Bourbon Pie varieties and all were De-li-cious (with a capital D)! 

You know it killed me to order fewer cupcakes than the stand would hold,
but 24 cupcakes for 10 people seemed a bit extreme : ) 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ready for some Fooooottttbaaaallll??!!

I married into the "dynasty" of Steelers football, so it's only fitting that Baby Kelly help cheer on the team to victory starting early.  The picture below was taken before the AFC Championship game two weekends ago (22 weeks) and because of the win, we'll have to sport the shirt again for good luck on Sunday.  Thanks to my MIL for keeping me somewhat stylish while building my yellow and black sports wardrobe ... and for picking a shirt with enough give that I didn't have to buy anything new this year to show team spirit. 

Here we go STEELERS!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Danny Ocean comes to town

For those of you waiting for just the right reason to visit Cincinnati ... other than meeting Baby Kelly this summer, of course ... perhaps a little George Clooney stalking will get you to town.  He was spotted today scouting for locations for a movie he's shooting here in March.  There may even still be timd for you to be an extra ...

From his days on Roseanne to ER to the Oceans series, I just think he's fantastic all around.  And, the doctors do recommend exercise while pregnant ... I think that literally running down a celebrity should count  : )

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wanted: Anything but Winter

Dear Mother Nature,

I've held my tongue long enough.  Seriously, what is up with the weather this winter?  I would formally like to request a reprieve.  Granted we (in Cincinnati) were spared the wrath of your latest storm and I'll take a little ice and wind over what the rest of the Midwest is seeing, anyday, but still, come on!  If I hadn't heard that Punxsutawney Phil was predicting an early spring, and if I wasn't carrying a child, then I'd seriously be popping Prozac like Tic Tacs (the orange variety, anyway).  I need to find out if those sun lamps are safe to use while pregnant ... I'm thinking not, so I'll just stick to ice cream for the time being to help ease the pain. 

Was it the aerosol hairspray I used in the 80s to take my bangs to new heights?  Was it the fact that I didn't force my parents to recycle in our home earlier?   What can I do to make up for my past transgressions to get our weather patterns back to normal?  Furthermore, if we're going to see global warming in full effect, where was all of this precipitation last summer when my lawn was as brown as shoe leather and my new landscaping was in dire straights? 

I realize that I'm one of many that are cursing your name and asking the same questions ... hopefully there is power in numbers.  If not, I'll just start that sun lam research ...

WARMEST regards,
Your friend, Jen