Monday, January 31, 2011

Nook vs. Kindle

This is actually more of a Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon debate.

And in my experience, Amazon wins hands-down.

You see, we bought a Nook the day after Thanksgiving because I thought I wanted one for my birthday. I then decided I didn't really need it, so we refused the package and it was sent back for a refund, which was all ok'ed by the Barnes and Noble customer service support team.

That was two months ago, and we have yet to see the refund from Barnes and Noble after repeated emails and answered questions.

Amazon refunded our initial Kindle purchase very promptly, after we accidentally ordered it back in 2009. They have also replaced our [self]-broken Kindle. TWICE.

I would say if you are in the neighborhood for an eReader, go with the Kindle.

And as I write this, I'm contemplating buying a Nook color. But it's half-price.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tim's take on ME Protests

Cait posted on these first, and referenced that she was not the informed one, so I feel the need to post too. I'm actually not all that informed, but I've been thinking about these a lot and so here it goes (I'll try to keep it short and sweet):

Some main questions:
1) Can these protests succeed? Tunisia seems to have accomplished their main goal of ousting the President and some of his cronies. Egypt? The protesters seem to have demands besides the removal of Mubarak. Smart because there are a lot of Mubarak's in Egypt ready to take his place. But even getting Mubarak gone will be tough. Maybe they can get some of their other demands, like a better minimum wage? Yemen, which had it's first big protests today is even more of a question.

Egypt seems to be picking up steam, but it's so chaotic that it is hard to tell. Will the Egypt military side with civilians, like in Tunisia? The world is watching.

2) If they succeed, what will be the results? Will someone take over these movements for their own purposes? Will they descend into chaos (God forbid another Somalia)? Or will they, which is the highest hope, result in a move towards democracy in a part of the world that has been stuck for so long? I would love a move toward democracy, but all that I've studied in the ME makes me doubt.

3) How will the west react? The US has been in a tough spot, especially in Egypt, because they have supported Mubarak as an ally for a long time. I'm watching US positioning with almost as much interest as the protests themselves. It doesn't seem like all our support of Mubarak has made him listen to us much. What will we do if democracy comes to Egypt and they elect a lot of Muslim Brothers? Will we continue our policy of supporting democracy as long as no one who hates us gets elected or will we back up our claims of unconditional support of democracy no matter what its outcome?

I've got lots of questions and a fair amount of cautious optimism. No matter what happens, at least the part of the world I study continues to be fascinating. Watch al Jazeera's live feed. If anyone has looked good throughout all the protests, it's them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Egyptian Revolution

I'm sure many of you are wondering about our silence on our dear country's revolution in the making. Honestly, I've been thinking about it a lot lately and we've been having many discussions in the evenings about the implications of the Arab world revolutionary phenomenon. I was brought to tears watching this overly sentimental video Bridget posted:

She points out the obvious one-sidedness of the video, and I agree to some extent. In discussing the matter with Tim, he told me about how when he spoke with a lot of Egyptian friends, they were very hesitant to discuss Egyptian politics (they loved talking American politics though), and if you ever openly criticized Mubarak or any aspect of the Egyptian government, you were admonished immediately. Since I did not get a chance to have long political discussions in Arabic, I don't have firsthand knowledge of the state of mind of the Egyptian people in regards to their government. I do know that Mubarak has been in power three decades, Egypt has one of the most bureaucratic systems I've ever experienced, and its people are poor, jobless, and frustrated. I remember hearing once about the minimum wage for government workers being somewhere around 1500 pounds (approximately $250) and I can't even imagine trying to live off of that!

Not to mention, there are thousands of bored police officers hanging around the city, who usually have nothing better to do than chain smoke, watch mini-TVs, and stare at Westerners walking down the street. The Egyptian police and military seem to be reveling in the excitement and power that comes with quashing revolutionaries.

In private, I pray that the revolution does not turn too violent, that our friends in Maadi will be safe. The faces of Hamdi and his children, the old smoking couple at the Maadi Club, the sweet woman who invited us to her daughter's second birthday party, our little friend Heidi who adored Amir and her father Said, they keep coming to me over and over again. I know it seems unlikely at this point that the revolution will turn bloody, but it worries me just the same.

I'd love to hear your take on the Arab revolutions of late -- like I said before, I'm not all that knowledgeable past what I've been reading in the NYT and listening to on the Guardian.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FHE, Bean Museum

Family Home Evening on Monday night was spent exploring the Monte L. Bean Museum. Theodore loved the animals and even got to touch a boa constrictor.

As soon as we walked into the museum, his eyes lit up and he got this huge grin on his face. And he promptly toddled over the trash can. Of all things?? He grabbed this piece of paper out of the trash and insisted on carrying it around. I think he wanted to do the scavenger hunt that was printed on it.

He loved touching the fur on the animals. I'm not sure the rules of the museum as far as touching goes, but no one seemed to care.

Can you tell something is different about him?! Yep, he's a legit bi-pedaling human being now.

Sorry the pictures are sideways. Can you rotate pictures once they are already uploaded to Blogger?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This post is about fashion

Over Christmas break, my mom took me shopping. I bought new clothes (gasp!) after not having any new clothes for approximately 5 years. I really have not had a wardrobe overhaul since high school, and you know what, it feels awesome.

Because no longer am I wearing American Eagle hoodies and very saggy jeans! I have clothes that fit and actually make me look like an adult. I've been inspired by a few very fashionable blogging friends, but mostly Kayla.

My favorite purchases of the spree were two beautiful pairs of skinny jeans from Banana Republic. Skinny jeans are great! They accentuate my already-skinny legs! I think I lost about 12 inches from my thighs by not wearing baggy jeans. They are flattering and incredibly comfortable, and I can't believe I've waited so long to wear expensive jeans. And what's better... they weren't expensive. One pair was like $15, and the other was around $20. Thanks, post-Christmas super sales. I also got this great wool sweater/jacket thing for a great price at some department store. I love that it's 100% wool, it's comfy and I think it looks really nice. Here was my first work outfit post-Christmas shopping spree (I even accessorized !!):

Jeans- Banana Republic; Shirt- Urban Outfitters; Scarf- Egyptian street vendor; Sweater- Department Store.

Not the best picture. I was playing around with iPhoto and couldn't figure out how to revert to the last saved picture so the colors are all funky.

Next up on the purchase agenda: awesome boots to wear with my skinny jeans. Still searching for the perfect pair.

On my next fashion blogging attempt: Tim's vintage Swedish Army wool pea coat.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Child spacing

I'm worrying a lot recently about how we will space our kids out. I'm not really worried per se, just thinking. I really am not ready for a baby now, though I feel like the pressure is on to start at least thinking baby-making thoughts. And by pressure I mean only from my mother who gives me the "what about all those little spirits?" guilt on a regular basis.

Here are my thoughts - I need Theodore to be: a) potty-trained, b) weaned and c) sleeping through the night before I can even think about that first trimester. Let's face it, if the next first trimester is anything like the last first trimester, I will need a good night's sleep and to NOT be changing poopy diapers for 4+ months. But the other part of me is of the thought that if I'm going to be awake with Theodore might as well add another one to the bed, right? I'm up anyways nursing him, might as well just stack them up on the breasts and feed two birds with one chest - *cringe*.

Even though everything can be related to autism nowadays (whatever autism even means), I came across a new study that linked having children close together to higher prevalence of autism. I haven't read the actual study, just the blog post on Babble, so I'm not sure if it's even sound.

Will this affect our child spacing in the future? Probably not. But now gives me a witty retort to my mother's comments about having more babies besides the whole... "my body, my family, my decision" spiel.

What influenced your decision to have additional children within a certain time frame? Was it an overwhelming desire for another baby? Wanting to keep your kids close together? Wanting them to be far apart for your own sanity? I'm telling Tim we should have a baby while I'm on my parents' insurance, and he thinks that is the worst reason ever. And since he does the majority of the child-rearing these days, he gets more say. But really... I'm not planning on another for a while. I want to go back to school next year, so having another baby would add undue stress to our mix. And we're all about simplification. Babies = complication.

At the same time... how can you resist this??

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekend notes

I kept thinking all weekend that I would have Monday as a holiday, even though I knew it would not be. Luckily, Tim has no class so he gets the day to hang out and play (and also catch up on school work...)

Even without Monday as a holiday, it was still a lovely weekend.

Friday night we ate butternut squash soup. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. 'Nuf said.

Saturday, we went to our stake's emergency preparedness activity. It was actually really interesting, we even went home and updated our 72-hour kits, which were seriously out of date (think: newborn onesies and diapers... wouldn't exactly work, even in a pinch) and also had some unnecessary things like shaving cream and razors (I don't think Tim will need to shave), a brush (which I don't even own in regular life), etc. I guess my mother-in-law (who made the kits for us) wants us to look presentable in the emergency. Saturday night, I was walking to the grocery store to use our Wholly Salsa $2 off coupons before they expired, and I ran into Austin and she came with me to the store. It was great to catch up, I forgot how much I love her.

Sunday, we went to the family ward rather than the married student ward, and I think we are convinced, except for the minor detail that 16-month-olds aren't allowed in nursery yet... so we had to trade off going to class since Theodore is no longer interested in being still for longer than 30 seconds. I really like the family ward though and am now questioning our decision to ever go to the student ward. Family wards are diverse! Interesting! Women breastfeed in sacrament meeting! There are funny old ladies with gambling addictions in Relief Society! Awesome.

Sunday evening, our new friends Linda and Nick came over for dinner. I made Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato Medley and some me-invented Middle Eastern lentil soup. Oh, and homemade bread. The bread actually turned out great, I was worried because I kept walking between the computer and kitchen and put in some wrong ingredients and then was trying to calculate in my head and compensate and praying that it worked. It was a little dense, but tasted pretty delicious. And actually my bread machine kind of sucks so I made the dough in the bread machine and let it rise and bake in a bread pan in the oven. Worked MUCH better than the bread machine. Looking back, I would have probably attempted naan, maybe next time. Linda treated us to some of the best peach cobbler and vanilla whipped cream I've ever tasted as well. Nick and Tim got along great too... they both love fantasy novels so Mistborn/Brandon Sanderson was a topic of discussion for at least half an hour. Now I am obliged to read the series so Tim and I can remain a happily-married couple.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tuscon Shooting

I feel like I can't get back to blogging without talking about this. I've been doing the required NYT readings on my kindle (for free) and the front page has been on this issue big every day. Something about this story has really stuck with me. I feel like it is going to have a big immediate and long-term impact on the political discourse in the US. I'm still sifting through what I think about this, but here are some posts that I have liked and will reveal some of what I'm thinking.

First off, I feel deeply for everyone effected by the shooting, including the family of the shooter. It's a tough time and I'm praying for them.

The one I've been thinking about the most is about why no one is talking about terrorism in relation to this incident. If this had been committed by a Muslim or an Arab no matter what his background there would be plenty of talk about whether it was a terrorist act or not. Connected to this is this Slate article comparing Sarah Palin's comments about the shooting with the building of the "9/11 Mosque." I agree with Mrs. Palin that the Tea Party does not deserve collective blame for the shooting, this guy was not typical of even the most conservative Tea Partiers. But I think, especially on the issue of the 9/11 Mosque and with terrorism generally., conservatives have definitely been guilty of placing collective blame on 1/5 of the worlds population for the acts of 13 extremists.

And then unrelated to the other two, here is an article talking about how near impossible it will be for the Loughner to get off on an insanity plea. Apparently that is a lot harder nowadays. All he can hope for is to avoid the death penalty. Maybe I'll use this topic to talk about the death penalty sometime, but not now.

That's it. Any thoughts or helpful or interesting links? I know there is a lot of emotions connected to this and apologize if I have offended anyone, but I tried to express my feelings in an appropriate way.


I usually do not want clothing items so intensely and am perfectly content with my rather outdated and hand-me-downed wardrobe, but these are beautiful.

And I really want them.

I LOVE my Tom's, they are the most comfortable and versatile shoes I have ever owned.

And to have them in boot form.... ah!

Thanks, Kayla, for ruining my frugal habits.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Veggie quinoa soup with dumplings

Sound incredible!?

It was.

5 carrots, sliced
5 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced

Saute the three above in a little EVOO until onions are translucent.

Add enough vegetable stock to cover veggies (I used water and veggie bouillon cubes). Bring to a boil then simmer 5-10 minutes. Spice as you like (I used thyme, sage, oregano, parsley). Add 1/2 cup quinoa, simmer for 10 minutes. Add additional veggies (green beans, peas, corn... I used zucchini as we had some frozen from the summer garden). Add water to about an inch above the vegetables.

Make these dumplings (double recipe--I did and we probably could have even made more).

Salt and pepper to taste.


I wish I had a picture to display. The soup was so creamy and the perfect flavor. Dumplings could possibly be God's gift to winter soups. I will be making regularly.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sometimes I feel like giving up on the crusade, but then I am redeemed

How can a Labor and Delivery nurse stand in front of a roomful of expectant mothers and claim an epidural is "totally safe for mother and baby"? And tell a group of impressionable women that Pitocin is like God's gift to laboring women?

But, if I can just say one thing: Linda Peterson is officially my friend. She gave a breath-taking speech on natural birth that left me in tears and beaming at the same time. You go girl.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Adventures in sleeping

The past few nights have been rough in the Caring home. Poor little guy is getting his four sharp teeth in (no idea what they are called) and they have been killing him. Last night we managed a five-hour stretch (!!!!) after a healthy dose of Baby Tylenol, but if we don't keep him drugged he is up every hour. We hit an all-time low this week when he taught himself to throw up so we would pay attention to him in the middle of the night. What possesses a 16-month-old to do that? We were trying to get him to sleep in his crib again, but no luck. He hates it. We really need a second bedroom.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

16 months old

He's an avid reader.

He's trying his best to walk.

He loves the snow...

pulling things out of drawers...

and being naked.

(with Annabelle Grass)

(with Evie and Rosie, Valerie Hudson's little girls)

(with Alice)
He's a real ladies' man.

He's a maker of messes...

and a natural-born baker.

Time flies when you're raising a child, am I right?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maternal mortality RISING

One of the most frustrating statements to me is when people tell me: "hospitals are the reason women aren't dying in childbirth anymore, you should be grateful for them, home births are SOOOOO dangerous and you will DIE if you have one..."

Besides the fact this statement is annoying, it's just plain ignorant.

Maternal mortality is actually INCREASING in the United States.

Non-necessary inductions and c-sections are a speculated (though convincing) reason for this rise - not to mention motherhood obesity/diabetes and lack of prenatal care due to insurance issues. It still floors me how blasé we have become about c-sections - considering they are MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY (and I know, I know, 15% of births do need to end in c-sections and they are completely necessary for a healthy outcome... but our rate is a little over twice that, meaning that more than half of c-sections in the United States are not necessary). For instance, when I worked at the women's shelter, there was a young girl with a new baby who had a c-section a few days previously. She showed up at the hospital barely in labor with no place to go because her boyfriend had kicked her out. Rather than helping her find a place or simply letting her continue to labor at her own pace (or even just sending her away to walk around the mall or Wal-Mart or something until she was REALLY in labor, which sucks, yes but is better than the risks associated with a c-section), they did a c-section a few hours later with no absolutely NO medical indication. Poverty + lack of education = poor medical outcome.

But what do we do? How do we disseminate information? How do we educate women on the their choices? How do we change the attitudes of [some] doctors and the environment of [most] hospitals and the fact that hospitals are businesses and want money and c-sections=money? Why are practices still occurring left and right in the United States when the World Health Organization has deemed them more harmful than helpful (routine induction/episiotomy, lithotomy position, etc.)?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vacation times

Christmas Break was... not relaxing. There was too much football and trash accumulation for my liking. But that's ok, because it was entertaining and interesting and full of family and Wii and shopping.

We played at my childhood park:

Tim went to the zoo with Theodore and cousins:

We witnessed a rocket launch:

(Photo Credits: Sister Lauren)

I bought wayyyyyy too many clothes (correction and clarification: my mother bought me way too many clothes for my tiny closet/nonexistent dresser).

We got really lame family pictures taken, but my mom loves them so I guess that's all that matters:

(can you tell it was nap time for a certain toddler?)

(Photo Credits: Picture Perfect at Columbiana Mall)

We visited wonderful friends (the McLean family, the kids I used to nanny for, who I shared a delightful afternoon with) and had one wonderful friend visit us (my high school friend Alice who is now a real adult with a full-time job and her own house!). I wish I had more time to see others since I don't anticipate returning to South Carolina anytime soon (especially after the flight on the way home, no daddy to help and a fidgety and unentertainable 16-month-old). But we definitely got enough of the people we went home for... mom/dad/siblings/niecesandnephews. Lauren's kids were delightful and I don't think I ever realized just how much I love hanging out with my sister-in-law. Of course, there was also the amazing holiday dinners and lunches provided by my mom/grandma/aunt. I missed collards and black-eyed peas for New Year's Day feast. YUM.

My family was super helpful with Theodore, there was always someone willing to play with him, give him a bath, feed him lunch, and change his dirty diapers. My mom was great and put him to bed (aka: laid in her bed with Sesame Street on until he fell asleep) on the nights I wanted to play games. And I LOVE to play games. I don't know why we don't do it more often, but the nightly routine of Phase 10, Rook, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers was so much fun (and overly competitive).

And though I won't miss the constant stream of criticism and parenting advice and Styrofoam plates, I will miss my family and the togetherness (and the dishwasher and bath tub). We may not be perfect and we may fight like we hate each other, but we really don't.

2010 Blog Stats

2010 was a great year here at I think it was mostly due to the Egyptian adventures keeping our readers' attention... our stats have been pathetic as of late, but I have been awful at blogging this semester. Our life has just become... mundane. But we're happy with it at the moment and I'm sure things will pick up in the new year!

This year, our blog had:

22,138 visits
5,193 unique visitors
1:00 is the average time on site

28.52% was direct traffic
69.33% was from referring sites, the top ten being:

2. Facebook

The top searches that led to our blog were:

1. tim and cait blogspot
2. tim and cait
3. timandcait
4. huraches
5. stuff mom never told you
6. stuff mom never told you podcast
7. mormon mommy blogs and randall and christa's world
8. tim and cait blog
9. cait and tim

(kind of boring...)

but if you go down the list...
11. drinking breast milk
13. neil patrick harris brother
14. circumcision
19. love my kids hate my life
23. i hate my kids (??)

The top posts of 2010 were:

1. I said sexualize on TV
2. My brother-in-law is Neil Patrick Harris
3. Huraches and a return to running
4. Circumcision Revisited
5. This post is about sex