Happy Birthday Charity!

This is a brief shout-out to Charity, who recently turned 25!

Happy Birthday!

Here we are at lunch: (Not the best picture of us by any means. But, hey, it was self-taken since we couldn't flag someone down to take it.)

And here is her birthday party: (the picture of her blowing out candles unfortunately did not turn out.) (There were other people there as well but we didn't take any other pictures.)

Popcorn Popping on an Electric Stove

I love popcorn. It is one of the best treats ever invented. I am perfectly capable of devouring enormous quantities of popcorn single-handedly.

I blame my mom.

She is also a popcorn fiend.

But this isn't about her.

This is about fluffy, buttery popcorn and all of its marvelous wonderousness. My life has been forever changed.

So I'm not a complete idiot. I was perfectly aware that not all popcorn comes from little paper bags cooked via "the popcorn button" in the microwave. I mean, I had heard of air poppers.

What I didn't know is that it was entirely possible to cook popcorn YOURSELF...ON THE STOVE. Thanks goes to Charity who shared this little piece of wisdom with me.

A few weeks ago Austin and I went over to Charity and James' to watch a French postapocalyptic film about cannibals called Delicatessen. (Verdict: Weird, but interesting. And the French are weird.) Anyway, being the good host that she is, Charity had made some homemade popcorn that was absolutely delicious. Seriously. Best. popcorn. EVER. I was shocked to learn she had made it entirely herself. "It's easy," she insisted. "I must know how this was done!" I declared.

And she told me.

Flash forward a few weeks later. I got a massive craving at like midnight on a weekday to make popcorn....Only to discover that popcorn does not have an indeterminable shelflife. Since Austin and I were married, we had kept popcorn kernels in a cute ceramic jar aptly labeled "POPCORN." I opened this jar to discover green, moldly kernels. Apparently, two years wrecks havoc on corn kernels kept in ceramic jars. In dismay, I threw out my kernels, determined to try again soon.

The next time we went grocery shopping, I joyously bought a bag of kernels. Shortly thereafter I, Tracie, "Homemade Popcorn Virgin," attempted to pop my own corn.

Holding and shaking the pan, I giggled and delighted like a child learning the joys of riding a swing for the first time. Every pop!pop!pop! filled me with utter joy and wonderment. Afterwards, I melted butter and poured that (along with a smidgen of salt) on my popcorn. It was the best thing I have ever tasted.

My life has been ruined now, however. I will never be able to enjoy microwave popcorn again. (Particularly not the horrible, tasteless, bland, generic crap that Walmart now sells instead of the respectable ACT II.)

For those of you who have not yet experienced this wonder, do yourself a favor and pop your own corn today. Your taste buds will thank you.


Lots of food for me to eat

What, you say? This was a month ago? Well, poppycocks. Deal with it.

Austin and I had a fun Superbowl Sunday. We went over to Tyler's where we each made our own individual pizzas. (Ty, your white sauce rocked. Send me the recipe and the pizza dough recipe STAT.) To show you how important the game was to me, I cannot now remember who even played. I do remember that it was a pretty exciting game to watch. One of the best in a while. Though I still don't really care for sports all that much. I enjoyed Bruce Springsteen's Halftime show and the super-cool-3D-commercial-product-promoting commercial break. (Lol, actually it was fun watching stuff in 3D at home.)

Before the game was over we headed over to Jan Beckstrom's (Austin's first cousin once removed) house and visited with Justin (his second cousin slash best friend). A good time was had by all.

And here are pics to prove these things happened: (Except the second part. I have no pictures of that.)

Mason getting messy eating a chocolate strawberry. Notice his cast. He had just broken his arm. :(

Grandpa & Tyson

Justin looking very attractive

Cheryl, Mason, & Sophie

HayLee & Preston

All the yummy ingredients

Tay making his pizza

Two very attractive people making pizzas

Yummy pizzas cooking

I would ask how your Superbowl Sunday was, but it was so, like, forever ago that it would be, like, totally stupid to even ask.

(Special mention goes to Mom who actually took most of these pictures. :) )


Boy Oh Boy

Austin and I recently went in for our twenty-week ultrasound. I was really nervous for several reasons. Like other obsessive, neurotic (or otherwise normal) people, I constantly worry about the health of my baby. Am I getting enough nutrients? Is the baby growing? Does our baby have some weird birth defect? Has our baby stopped growing? Am I going to lose the baby? These fears have been compounded upon due to the fact that I have not yet felt the baby move. :( (Still stressing about this one as I am coming upon 22 weeks here.) I was also nervous because we were finally going to find out the sex. Though I (and many others) have been convinced it's a boy from the beginning, I was a bit anxious to discover for sure.

It was SO relieving to see our little baby. There were two arms, two legs, toes, fingers, a belly, head, back, spine, brain, heart, and other organs. I can't begin to relate the relief that it looked like a baby (albeit a very small one) instead of a mutant. Since many of you know that I really wanted a girl, I was curious to know what my reaction would be when/if I found it was a boy. When the technician announced that it was positively a boy my first reaction was "tell us something we don't know." But secondly, and most importantly, I realized I really didn't care that I wasn't having a girl. I was having a boy! My boy! I was having a son. And then I began to cry. It didn't matter anymore that I wouldn't be buying ribbons or bows. I'm going to be a mom. I've realized for months that I'm having a baby but this was the first time it really hit me that I'm going to be a mom. The mom of a little boy. And he's going to be MY boy. (And he's going to be SO cute. :) ) Anyway, after the relievement of hearing that our baby is totally healthy and normal and he has no abnormalities, it was finally time to spread the good news!

Austin called his parents right away and let them he was having a son. I wanted to tell my family in person, but it would have to wait a day because Austin had evening classes the day we found out. This meant I had to keep the news on the downlow and try to keep it from leaking on facebook. This also gave me a day to figure out how I was going to tell my family. After searching online for a while for ideas, which was mostly fruitless, I came upon the idea to use cupcakes. I bought vanilla cake and frosting and dyed the cake batter blue. The frosting I divided in half, dying half pink and half blue. So the insides of the cupcakes were blue and I frosted half the cupcakes with pink frosting and the other half with blue. The idea was that they were to pick by frosting color what they thought I was having and then bite into to discover what it really was. But I thought this was a bit too simple so I also decided to write a poem. I couldn't let the family think Trent was the only one who knew how to write a clever riddle! (Backstory: Trent wrote a riddle about what they were naming his first daughter for the family to solve.) Anyway, I wrote this poem:

in june I will come to join
the McNeil family, true.
now i ask the question:
am i pink or am i blue?

Ask me many questions,
for i will never tell you lies.
i will be a Beckstrom;
this is no surprise.

Others may ponder,
am i daddy's girl or mama's guy?
you'll just have to keep on asking:
am i an x or a Y?

if you are stumped
and no more suspense you can take,
go ahead and take a bite
out of my delicious cupcakes.

Can you solve it?

Hint: Look for the capital letters.

Solution: The capital letters spell out IM A BOY

I actually was surprised that no one deduced the actual solution. (Though many were suspect that the Y was capitalized when the X wasn't.) I had everyone bite into the cupcakes at the same time and everyone discovered the blue cake! Yay! I was having a boy!

Here is our ultrasound pictures. We also got a DVD but it only recorded half of the actual ultrasound, which means it doesn't include the best shots or the shot where we discovered it was a boy. So, I'm glad we at least got a picture of it.

I'm having a little boy! We can't wait till June to meet you!

New Year

It is now February. But that doesn't mean I can't make New Year's resolutions anymore. In fact, I hope that we all constantly make and strive to meet goals all year, not just at the beginning.

I wanted to briefly give an account of my New Year's Eve. The McNeil family (and some on Cheryl's side) had a lovely party over at Tyler and Cheryl's. There was good food and good company. Austin and I (and by that I mean me) planned some games. They were well-received. It was good to see a group of adults laughing that hard. Highlights include Austin miming giving an elephant a bath and my dad screeching out "Baby, if you love me, won't you please, please smile."

At midnight we had the countdown and Austin and I kissed:

We then had some brief, but really cool, albeit illegal fireworks courtesy of Tyler.

The next day we spent some time with Heidi, Aaron, and Will, and then went out to dinner to Red Robin with Brittnee and Matt. The day after this I started throwing up and then didn't stop. I thought it was pregnancy-related at first until I realized it wouldn't stop and I couldn't keep anything down, not even water. Austin was really worried about me and the baby. We thought I may have to go to the hospital to get rehydrated. Fortunately, after about 18 hours (and a blessing and many prayers) I was able to keep some water down. Several hours later I was able to keep other liquids down. I was then on a liquid diet for another day or so. Apparently I picked up the stomach flu somewhere. Poor Austin also caught it eventually, though he recovered faster than I did. This was how we started out the New Year. :)

And now for my resolutions:

1. Establish my priorities. Make time for what's important and get rid of the things that are not. Specifically, I want to start making it to all my Church meetings and make time for daily scripture study, weekly FHE, and monthly temple attendance.
2. Organize my home and prepare for the baby. This includes getting rid of stuff I don't need, getting the stuff I do need, and making any other preparations.
3. Exercise, eat well, and take care of me and baby.

That's about it for now. I hope to make other goals later this year. It's very weird to be pregnant because this is the first year EVER in my life that I haven't made a goal to lose weight. I've struggled with my weight since I was about ten (except for like a two-year period between the ages of 19-21). It's weird to see the scale going up and be okay with it. I will soon be heavier than I have ever been in my entire life, even when I was overweight in high school. I know all of this is necessary weight, but it's still a little difficult on my psyche when you've spent your life trying not to be overweight and working so hard to see the scale get lower. It's strange to think I've ranged in size SEVEN different dress sizes since I've reached my full growth.

I hope I will be able to lose baby-weight when the time comes. Not because I'm obsessed with being thin (because I've never been obsessed with "thinness" itself), but because I'm obsessed with finally being healthy and happy. I'm not fully happy being overweight nor am I fully healthy. And with my family history, being overweight is not going to make things easier. I ironically wasn't happiest at my thinnest either (which some people said was too thin). It was also way too difficult to stay that thin. Staying that thin meant eating next to nothing and getting several hours of exercise a day. Too much work. I was happiest at the weight considered "healthy" for my height. I wasn't a stick or perfectly toned. I still had a small belly roll at this time, but I felt good and I looked good and I could do what I wanted to do with my body. And that what real health is about. It isn't about the number or the size but how you feel in your own skin and being able to do what you enjoy doing without hinderance. It's about your heart, your lungs, and all of your body being able to work the way they're supposed to. And to do all this you don't need to have the society-depicted "perfect" body. But that's just my two cents.

Happy belated New Year everyone!