Archive for July, 2011

Fertnal: Kicking is now a team sport!

Friday, July 29th, 2011

July 27th marked 24 weeks pregnant with our two baby girls. On Friday morning, I lay on my side in bed for a little while, contemplating becoming vertical. Baby B was being active and I was enjoying feeling her move, when I suddenly realized:

“Wait a minute! I felt that kick in my wrist draped across my belly and not just in my belly!”

Bill was in our home office and I called for him to come join me. He crawled back into bed behind me and wrapped his arm over my side so I could press his hand against the top of my belly, and we waited. Sure enough, Baby B kicked again a few minutes later and Bill felt it, too. He later posted this as his Facebook status:

Felt one of the velociraptors kick today for the first time. Countdown to fatherhood well on its way…

Later that night, it was Baby A’s turn. We pressed Bill’s hand to the right underside of my belly and sure enough, Baby A kicked him, too.

They’re small gestures, I know, and these girls still have three months of growing to do. But the fact that they’re now big and strong enough that we can feel their antics outside as well as in is pretty damned exciting. And while our budget needs for Bill to find his next job soon, I am thrilled that he was home to share this experience with me!

Adventias: Yet another moving day

Friday, July 15th, 2011

The last time I wrote about our Gran’mom, her brother Frank had just moved from Las Vegas to Houston to live in the same assisted living facility with her. Sharon and I were both optimistic that having a sibling in the same building would be both reassuring and entertaining to both of them.

I’m sad to say that’s not how things turned out.

Best we can tell, Sarah is unable to internalize that her brother now lives in the same building. If Sharon or I get the two of them together for a meal or visit, and explain who’s who, Sarah understands who Frank is and they relate to each other. But most of the other times, he’s just “some old goat” who shows up at her door, wants to sit with her at meals, and meddles about what she’s eating or doing. Belmont staff told us that Sarah and Frank would escalate to bickering at each other in the time it took to walk together from her room and ride the elevator to the first floor, by which point, sitting together in the dining room didn’t work.

For Sarah’s part, she doesn’t remember these interchanges and is apparently not upset by them. But poor Frank is deeply concerned over the condition his big sister is in and really wants to help her stay as healthy and happy as possible. It really wounds him when she rejects him so callously, and it saddens me that we got them together too late to enjoy a robust sibling relationship. Sharon and I will continue to get them together for meals or other events from time to time, but daily togetherness isn’t working.

* * *

What’s more, it became clear that Sarah was becoming less copacetic in general. Some of the behaviors we/staff observed:

  • Refusing staff direction/help to bathe and/or change clothes, and wearing the same clothes nonstop for weeks on end
  • Telling staff she didn’t know where she’s supposed to be or what she should do, repeatedly
  • Standing aimlessly in the hallway, apparently uncertain where to go, and declining direction to join group activities
  • Standing in the middle of the dining room for 30+ minutes, unable to sit at a full table that she perceives as “her’s”, and unable to choose (refusing to choose?) an empty seat at another table instead

In addition, Sharon drove Sarah to lunch and observed:

  • In the car, Sarah declared, “Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen an all-white car!”, and then expressed the same revelation 20+ additional times during the 5-mile trip to and from the restaurant
  • At the restaurant, Sarah was repeatedly discomfited by their loud/gregarious waiter, and told Sharon, “If he ‘shouts’ at me one more time, I’m going to say something rude back to him!”

So two and a half years after we moved Sarah to Belmont, we made the tough decision that it was time for Sarah to leave the (large) “assisted living” section and move to the (small) secure dementia “Neighborhood,” where the higher staffing ratio provides more one-on-one direction.

Given that familiarity and routine are essential to help someone with memory impairment function, moving obviously poses serious challenges. We got really lucky in that the room available for Sarah in the “Neighborhood” was the same basic floorplan and orientation as her room upstairs, just a little smaller. That made it possible to move almost all of her furniture and keep it in essentially the same configuration. That was the first hurdle.

The second hurdle was figuring out how to effect the move with minimal disruption to Sarah’s existence, but we pulled it off on June 8, 2011. Sharon whisked Sarah away for a *long* (4-hour) “lunch” while staff moved her furniture and belongings to the new room, and Bill and I set everything up again, which went remarkably smoothly. Prior to the move, Jean and I talked with her about moving and while Sarah acknowledged the merits of having full-time staff help available, she said she “wasn’t interested in moving.” But once we brought her back to the new room, she didn’t get upset. She said that it felt “totally unfamiliar” but also thanked me profusely for all my help.

The next day, I went back to meet movers to pack and return Sarah’s excess furniture and clothing to her condo in Galveston. Thankfully, Jean met the movers at that end, saving me the 100-mile round trip. Two days of moving antics while four-months pregnant with twins was exhausting, and it took me two days of downtime afterward to recover. But I did what I had to do to minimize the disruption for Sarah.

disassembling #269

disassembling #269
Disassembling, packing, and moving out of #269

exploring #141
Sarah and Jean exploring #141 over the weekend before the move

pictures up
Pictures up in the same places feel familiar

Gran'mom in new room
Gran’mom in her accustomed spot on the loveseat, but in #141

Since the move, Sarah has not only come to meals without incident, she has even participated in the group activities, which is a welcome improvement. She is also now allowing staff to help her bathe periodically and change clothes almost daily. In general, she seems more copacetic than she did before the move.

As explanation, staff suggested that Belmont had become bigger than Sarah could process, which was overwhelming and agitating. But the “Neighborhood” is a smaller, more manageable scale, and easier for Sarah to wrap her head around. While I was very anxious about how she would handle the move, I am confident now that it was the right shift at the right time.

Fertnal: 22 weeks in and babies growing well!

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

As of Wednesday, I’m 22 weeks pregnant (out of 37-38 weeks) and I’m feeling it. My belly gets in the way when I bend over and sleeping on my stomach (as I did for the first 39 years of my life) is completely out of the question.

Bob's 22-week belly
Bob’s babies belly at 22 weeks

My uterus has expanded nearly to my rib cage and these girls are now squishing my digestive system. I’m having to learn to eat just half to two-thirds of a meal at a time or else it ends up in my esophagus instead of my stomach. (As an aside, I imagine this is what it’s like if one has gastric banding surgery for weight loss. It’s a little weird to have to change years of eating habits, but doable.)

I’ve also noticed my first Braxton Hicks contractions this week. It’s disconcerting to have my belly abruptly go from squishy to hard, and vaguely uncomfortable, too. But so far they’re only happening a few times a day. Dr. K reassured me that they’re entirely normal and nothing to worry about, unless the frequency increases to 5 or more contractions an hour. He encouraged me to drink more water because dehydration can cause contractions.

These girls are growing like crazy and Dr. K says “their growth is really good.” He estimates that Baby A is up to 1 lb 2 oz, which puts her in the 52nd percentile of all babies. Baby B is slightly smaller at 1 lb 1 oz, which puts her in the 48th percentile of all babies. If we were further along (i.e. 37 weeks), 50th percentile for all babies would be 90th percentile for twins, but this early the growth rates are still comparable. (As another aside, I wonder whether fetal percentiles have swelled during the last generation the same way childhood percentiles have swelled, in which case I wouldn’t want 90th percentile babies!)

Feel free to watch our ultrasound exam. Most of the 11 minutes is measuring skulls and brain structures and long bones and heart rates. But it also includes some amazing 3D motion video of each girl. See the first minute for Baby A, and 7:50 for Baby B. (For larger viewing, download the VGA-resolution Quicktime file (926 mb .mov) to your computer and play it locally.)

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Update: When I checked my twins pregnancy book, it said I should be drinking 8 16-oz glasses of water a day (a half gallon), which is about double what I had been managing. As soon as I upped my daily water consumption, I stopped having contractions. Phew!

Rick Perry and the American Family Association

Monday, July 11th, 2011

If you have access to HBO, you may have heard satirist Bill Maher lambaste would-be Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry during his weekly New Rules segment. Perry has recently been advocating prayer as an effective tactic to address public policy challenges:

Yes, our state executive has rented the 70,000 seat Reliant stadium to co-host a day of prayer and fasting on August 6, 2011. To co-host, he chose the Mississippi-based so-called American Family Association, which advocates against gay rights. As the Houston Chronicle reports, Perry’s day of prayer is drawing protests from religious and cultural groups alike.

I was mortified when I read about this in the paper, as I often am when I read about our governor. But beyond wondering whether St. Stephen’s would participate in the counter event, I did nothing. I lack the energy to take on any new causes, and I quickly blew it off. But now in the last week, in a weird confluence of events, I’ve somehow ended up on the American Family Association’s action alert email list:

  • The first email said, “Tell Congress to say “No!” to increasing the debt ceiling,” and rants about how we should just cut spending.
  • The second email accused Department of Veterans Affairs officials at the Houston National Cemetery of committing “outrageous actions of religious hostility and censorship” by monitoring funerals to ensure that religious individuals do not inflict their religious messages on other families who are burying their loved ones.

Based on Bill’s explanation in his essay on why the debt ceiling matters, I’m not excited by the first alert. Given that I’m a not-super-religious individual and wouldn’t want anyone inflicting their religion on me in a time of grief, I’m not very sympathetic to the second alert, either. And I won’t support any organization that’s opposed to equal rights for all individuals, including gays. Frankly, I’m bewildered how I ended up on their email list. But though I’m vaguely curious what they’ll rant about next, it’s time to unsubscribe.

Update: I wondered whether St. Stephen’s would react to Governor Perry’s exclusionary prayer event, and I’ve just learned that we are! An interfaith coalition from several institutions is pulling together “The Challenge” as an inclusive counter event on August 6, and its organizers are meeting weekly at St. Stephen’s. Gosh, I respect my church!

Bill on why the debt ceiling matters…

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Reposted from Facebook

I suspect most of the people to whom I am linked on Facebook will understand, at least broadly, the idea that the Federal Government not raising the debt ceiling is a bad idea. However, beyond the idea of “we need to keep the government open” or “we need to pay people’s social security,” many may not really understand why. Let me attempt to help out in a reasonably non-technical way.

A trip down history lane

The US Constitution, for all of its longevity and power, has a few very specific provisions in it, and one of those is the idea that spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives. The founding fathers did this because they wanted to ensure that the officials most responsible for authorizing the expenditure of the nation’s treasure were the ones who were most accountable to the people whose efforts and labors paid for it. Thus, if the House of Representatives started spending money in ways that were disliked by their constituents, they would hear it most quickly and most readily at the ballot box.This idea, of being directly accountable to the people, is a good one in theory. In theory, the House would be good stewards of the purse strings, constantly working to spend responsibly and raising sufficient taxes to pay for it all. Unfortunately, the ink was not even dry on the parchment before the nation’s first great debt crisis was upon us. As most of us remember from way back in the days of yore (aka High School Civics class), our current government is actually our nation’s second. The first government, the one that carried us through the War of Independence, did not really work all that well. There was a lot of squabbling over how the war should be conducted, how monies should be spent, and which businesses in which states should get which procurement contracts. In short, it looked a lot like the modern Congress, just with wigs.

Like our modern congress, the Continental Congress ran up a big foreign debt that was used for such trivial expenses as paying troops, buying guns and ensuring that farmers received compensation for putting food in the bellies of the people fighting the Redcoats — nothing serious like ethanol subsidies, bridges to nowhere and federal buildings named after themselves. While the Continental Army was successful (with a generous dollop of help from the French), the war was expensive and the United States were deep in debt to foreign countries. Unlike today, the United States economy was not “too big to fail”, so while many people were of a mind to tell the current bond holders to “stuff it”, the Constitution specifically acknowledged the prior debt (Article Six). What was a newly minted legislature to do?Up until the Civil War and the introduction of the income tax, the Federal Government operated in an environment where it was basically always short on cash. Given its limited ability to tax and the ascendancy of “States Rights”, few people really wanted to lend a lot of money to the government, so the Federal Government was a much smaller portion of our total economy than it is today. It still did some important things, but the specter of debt and borrowing was always front-and-center in the political landscape (not like today where the “Ways and Means” committee — aka Taxes — is separate and distinct from the “Appropriations” committee — aka spending). This state of affairs lasted basically up until the butcher’s bill came due for the major issue not dealt with by the Constitution: slavery. With the Civil War, the Federal Government needed money. It needed a lot of it, and it needed it fast. Welcome to the income tax. Oh, and before you get all nostalgic for the other side, they did something much more harmful to their economy since they didn’t like taxes: they printed money. A lot of it. So much, in fact, that a Confederate Dollar in November of 1864 in Houston was worth 1/50th of what it was in September of 1861. In fact, inflation had gotten so far out of hand that the Confederacy had to basically wipe away one third of its money by the middle of 1864 and issue new bills. Setting aside the moral environment in the south, think about how disruptive it would have been to your family and livelihood if the value of your money had suddenly been reduced by a third. But let’s not dwell on a possible future.

The Marshall Plan

From the Civil War to the end of World War 2, the United States experienced both a significant growth in the total size of its economy and also in the sophistication of its economy. We were blessed with a few unique attributes (large land mass, abundant natural resources, rapidly growing population) right as the industrial revolution got into full-swing. By the time of World War I, the US was the world’s largest economy. By the end of World War 2, the US was the only remaining undamaged economy among the then-developed nations. Into this vacuum stepped the Marshall Plan. With the Marshall Plan, the US re-built western Europe with the idea that getting their economies back on-track would keep them out of the hands of the Communists. This in turn created a huge demand for American products while also cementing the Dollar as the global currency of foreign trade and finance.

This last bit cannot be understated. Global finance is anchored to the US Dollar. The foundation of modern finance is the “risk free rate”, the market rate that provides the “cost” of money being transferred from people who have excess capital (aka money) to those who need additional capital (you know, money). Just like an airline, there are additional surcharges and fees that get layered on top of this for things like needing the capital over a longer time frame (so-called “duration”), or with a less-than-perfect borrower (“risk premium”), or to lend when the supply of money is increasing (“inflation premium”). In fact, modern finance is largely the systematic effort to identify, quantify and exploit sources of risk over and above the risk free rate.For its primary goal, most scholars agree that the Marshall Plan was a huge success. The US had economic dominance over the global economy for about 20 years from 1945 to about 1965. However, as the Vietnam War escalated, the US economy was somewhat diverted to the “guns” side of the “guns vs. butter” tradeoff, while the economies of Japan and Western Europe started to really get back on track.

Blowing sunshine in America

With Vietnam, the Great Society and a couple of oil shocks, a persistent but minor fiscal deficit began its metamorphosis into a significant structural problem. By the time the last of the celebratory champagne was drunk from Ronald Reagan’s trouncing of Walter Mondale, the deficit — the amount of money by which tax revenues lag expenditures — was running over $300 billion per year. And this was from a Republican President who, in 1980, railed against a Democratic one for running $60 billion a year in deficits.While the Laffer Curve has some very important insights into economic behavior, it ultimately represents a testable hypothesis, not an ironclad law. What’s more, it’s alleged test of lowering taxes rates in order to raise total tax revenue (something like a price elasticity for taxes) was conducted during a period of extreme Keynesian stimulus (e.g., the massive military buildup during Reagan). A couple of trillion dollars later, Reagan was effectively able to bankrupt the Soviet Union and its support network for its satellite countries, but before we could say, “peace dividend”, we were in the first of three successive wars in the Middle East.Of course, those of a Progressive leaning will want to offer up that during the Clinton presidency, the Federal Government ran a surplus. I suspect, in fact, that current politicians are looking at the Clinton-Gingrich showdown over the federal budget as a blueprint for the current debt ceiling fiasco. Unfortunately, actual data does not support the proposition of surpluses. Yes, Clinton did a LOT better than his immediate predecessors, but if you look at total borrowing, the national debt still increased each year under Clinton. Why the discrepancy?Much like when Regan’s economic team added the armed forces to the ranks of the employed, Clinton’s economic team included social security taxes as current taxes without recognizing any sort of long-term liability to offset the revenues. This would be the same as an insurance company taking in policy premiums for life insurance, but not booking any sort of expense against those revenues for the policies on which they expected to pay out. It may be great press, but it’s bad accounting.

Hitting the gas

With the bursting of the dotcom bubble, and related financial shenanigans, coincidental with the felling of the World Trade Center towers, and the subsequent wars in the Middle East, the US economy was effectively rescued from what should have been a massive recession and war-time footing by the Bush administration’s request to “go shopping”. With nominal deficits running $500 billion per year, a Republican administration again effectively pulled a page out of the Keynesian playbook, using large deficits to fund increases in government spending.

While Conservatives are quick to talk about the jobs created during Bush’s early years that coincided with decreases in marginal tax rates, they oddly seem to ignore that they did this without coming anywhere close to balancing the budget. It’s as if they think that saying “tax cuts creates jobs” enough times will make it true. Yes, there are ways to make tax cuts improve job growth, but blanket tax cuts aren’t it. You also need to cut spending by a like amount to make the Laffer Curve argument stick. That hasn’t been done — ever.

Instead, we have done the economic equivalent of “hitting the gas”. When the economy stopped responding to the existing stimulus (deficit), we just borrowed and spent even more. While this is good for near-term economic growth, it does so at the expense of long-term prospects (in economic terms, you are pulling demand forward). What’s even more interesting is that with the increased debt load, you add more risk into the economy since a greater proportion of income goes into debt service (i.e., interest payments). Where this truly goes astray is that with the greater risk, comes a greater requirement to ensure the economy continues growing. To continue growing the economy requires greater stimulus, and greater stimulus requires greater borrowing. In effect, what we have created, we, the voters, is a treadmill which is ever-increasing. Stopping will be painful, but the current “Great Recession” shows us just a taste of what life could be like once the treadmill breaks. We must responsibly slow things down…

Full faith and credit

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. The lack of basic economic literacy evidenced in the mass media appalls me. In the broader population, it is worse. I’ve spent a large number of paragraphs talking about the history of our debt, with only some tangential asides about why increasing the debt limit matters. Fundamentally, the issue with the United States government not being able to roll-over its debt and to increase its borrowings to meet its Congressionally-authorized (mandated) spending levels is two-fold:

First, is the damage it would do to global finance. As mentioned before, all of global finance rests on the idea of a risk-free rate of return. For good or ill, what bankers the world over have used for decades as a proxy for the risk-free rate are US Treasury Bills and Bonds. For these to come into question means a) finding an alternate risk-free asset, and b) re-pricing EVERY security based upon the new risk-free rate. This would be hugely tumultuous with credit markets seizing up while people tried to figure out which currency, asset or commodity might represent the best proxy for a riskless asset (Gold? The Euro? Oil? All seem to have upsides and downsides…).

Second, not raising the debt ceiling is the economic equivalent of “going cold turkey”. It is one way to break an addiction, but depending upon the drug and the depth of the addiction, the consequences of this can be worse, physiologically, than the addiction itself. Given the decades upon decades of deficit stimulus under which the US economy has been addicted, to remove such stimulus suddenly would not just invite recession, it would guarantee a significant depression. Imagine, people who had business built serving the federal government seeing their accounts receivable extended and order books slashed, people who rely on social security seeing their benefits cut, people whose businesses rely on either of those two markets see a softening of their business, etc. The primary effects would be bad enough, but macroeconomics is filled with the concept of a “multiplier” – the effects on secondary and tertiary markets away from the primary one. In other words, the ripple effects, as they are often called, would be more like tsunamis.

Not good.

Any one of these two primary effects would be disastrous enough. If one combines them, and multiplies them, then the result would be catastrophic. It would take us decades, as a global economy, to sort out the pieces. There would be winners, but there would be a lot of losers. Yes, we need to overhaul our spending priorities and taxation policy (less of the one, more of the other — pain for everyone), but we don’t need to do it in a way that threatens our economy so quickly after facing the brink of disaster. Please urge your congressman to do the right thing or do what the Founding Fathers intended and find another Congressman who will.

Fertnal: Exciting happenings in my belly!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

From my perspective, the growth of my belly isn’t nearly as exciting as the growth in my belly.

A month ago, I could only feel Baby B fluttering, down behind my right hip bone. Baby A was nestled way down deep in my pelvis and I couldn’t feel her. But now, everything has rearranged. The babies have grown so much that they now fill the space up to my diaphragm. (As an unexpected benefit, Baby A isn’t crowding my bladder as much, and I can now sleep up to 5 hours at a time. What a relief!)

As a result of all this rearranging, this week for the first time, I felt them both moving at the same time: Baby A in my lower abdomen and Baby B up above and to the right of my belly button. But that’s not the best part.

On Saturday afternoon, Bill and I were reclining on the couch watching stage 1 of the Tour de France, and Tibbs was sleeping on my belly. (It took him a week to figure out how to sleep on my ever-expanding belly without falling off, but now he has the hang of it. Clever Kitty!)

All was still, until Bill sneezed. Then two things happened:

  • Tibbs abruptly flinched. He didn’t run away, but he did jostle my belly.
  • Then a moment later, Baby B kicked back.

It was a small gesture, but it was plainly volitional. So our girls have become interactive. How cool is that?!?

A little found space!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

A while back, our friends Rob & Rachel discovered a mystery space in their house and were able to convert it into new closet space. Last weekend, Bill and I captured some additional storage space, too, but ours was hiding in plain sight.

Our master bedroom has a window seat. You wouldn’t know this because for 12 years now we’ve used it to hold our dirty laundry baskets. When we first moved in, I wasn’t sure what to store in it because I wasn’t entirely confident it would remain bug free. And once the laundry baskets were in place, I scarcely thought of it again.

window seat
Window seat in our master bedroom

Now that we’re trying to figure out how to make two baby girls feel at home in our 1,200 square foot bungalow, I’m feeling super motivated to look anew at all of our prior home storage decisions. Suddenly, it dawned on me that this window seat is a perfect place to store all of our backpacks, duffel bags, and totes:

bag storage
Newly reclaimed bag storage

We not only succeeded in getting some clutter out of sight in our bedroom; we also freed up a plastic storage crate that I can now use to store my favorite pre-pregnancy clothes that won’t fit over my belly again anytime soon. That’s good because I’ll soon need closet space for my fashion sheets and tents. ;-D

Fertnal: Bob’s big(ger by the day) belly!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Our friend Elizabeth is also pregnant, and she posted some adorable belly photos on Friday. Several of you have asked me to post some belly photos, too, so here you go (click for larger):

Bob's belly progression
Bob’s belly at 16 weeks, 18 weeks, and 20 weeks 5 days

My belly is almost as big as Eli’s now… except that she’s at about 34 weeks and I’m just approaching 21 weeks. Her son will be ready for delivery in 4-6 weeks; our little girls need to cook for another 3 1/2 months. At the rate I’m growing, I’ll be big as a house by the end of summer.

To be fair, Eli is super fit and I’m not; but I’m also big early to give our girls the best odds of going full term. A singleton pregnancy lasts 40 weeks on average. Twin babies are ready for delivery by 38 weeks, but the average twin mom only makes it to 35 weeks. Premature delivery not only makes for expensive NICU stays, but also significantly increases the risk of developmental delays. One of the strongest determinants of pre-term delivery is size: the slower the babies are growing, the more likely they are to come prematurely.

I’m working hard to feed these girls well now, to help ensure they stay in me until they’re fully cooked. So far it’s working: both of our babies consistently measure a day or two ahead of their gestational age, which is a very good sign. (For reference, they’re about 10 inches long now.) I’m doing well, but it’s going to get a lot harder.

Apparently, moms of singletons are able to eat enough to meet the nutritional needs of a baby throughout a pregnancy. That’s why there are lots of super fit moms who nonetheless deliver healthy, full-term babies. But that doesn’t work with more than one baby. First, multiple babies take up so much room inside that they crowd your digestive system early on, limiting how much you can eat. Already, I can no longer eat a full meal at one sitting; there’s just isn’t room in my stomach. If you have seen the meals Bill has been serving me, please know that I can’t actually eat all of that!

Second, in the final months of pregnancy, multiple babies require more nourishment than it’s physically possible to consume in a day. That means you better have some fat stored ahead of time in order to meet both their and your physical requirements. Over the course of this twin pregnancy, I’m supposed to gain between 40 and 50 pounds, and… gain it all by 28 weeks. Having gained 30 pounds so far, I’m ostensibly right on schedule.

So in theory, gaining all this weight is good for our babies. But while I understand that intellectually, it’s incredibly disconcerting to watch my belly expand by the day.

Happy belated Fathers’ Day!

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Here’s another catch-up post…

With babies on the way, June 19th was Bill’s first Father’s Day. The folks at Marble Slab were giving dads free scoops of ice cream with one mixin that day, so we met up with my brother and his family to celebrate Father’s Day. Much yumminess was had by all!

Bill, Izzy, and Chris
Bill, Izzy, and Chris

Shawnacy, Bob, and Sierra
Shawnacy, Bob, and Sierra

Happy belated Fathers’ Day, too, to my Dad and all the special men folk in our lives!

Tasty perqs of a husband at home

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Have I mentioned lately that I *love* having Bill at home all the time?

Of the 12 years that Bill and I have been together, he has spent nearly 10 of them on the road, working Monday to Friday in various US cities, most-recently New York. However, all that ended this spring. After several months working from home, his last day with Deloitte was May 27th. His next full-time gig has not materialized yet, and while our budget will be better if the next job comes along soon, we are both enjoying the benefits of Bill’s current freedom.

Unlike me, Bill loves to cook. He has always said so, but it didn’t happen often during the years he was on the road. Now that he’s home all the time, Bill has taken over our shopping and cooking. He was always a more creative cook than I am, and now that he has unfettered access to both our kitchen and the grocery, he’s getting more creative by the week. He’s out shopping as I write, and I’m eager to see what new tasty meals will come out of our recyclable grocery sacks next!

Some days Bill tackles whole meals, complete with festive presentation:

pork chops
Grilled pork chops, quinoa pilaf, grilled bell peppers and asparagus, with a salad of romaine, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Marinated grilled scallops with a lemon caper sauce, butternut squash soup in a sourdough boule, and a spinach salad with mushrooms, apples, bacon, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Other days our pantry foraging is supplemented with tasty treats:

tres leches with strawberries
Tres leches cake with giant ripe strawberries

The biggest bowl of homemade guacamole I’ve ever seen

Bill is making dinner again tonight (blade steaks, unless he found something more tantalizing on sale at the store), and he’s promised more homemade guacamole as an appetizer. My cousin Sharon is coming over, too, and she’s bringing her homemade mac-n-cheese. I can’t wait!*

*Literally, I can’t wait. These babies already have my stomach rumbling with hunger, so I’m off to find a snack. But Bill’s cooking later is going to be awesome! :-D