Category Archives: Gettin’ by

Freetown bound. No wait, we’re already here.

We have indeed arrived in Freetown. I have walked 10k+ steps every work day since I’ve arrived. I’ve also lost five pounds, which is pretty incredible considering that I eat DELICIOUS CARBS AND OIL for lunch every day. And dinner. And snacks. Mmmmmm.


Our kitchen is awesome. We can actually fit all of our tupperware and dry foodstuffs and dishes and pots and pans INSIDE the cabinets for the first time since Bertrand and I started dating.


Pretty magical.

So. Food. Fitness. Family. Foreign Service. I’m not going to announce any plans on here, because, as loyal readers know, I’m not actually capable of commiting to anything whatsoever in my personal life. It’s so strange that I’m so good at project management in the professional sphere, but so bad at it at home. To this day, I wake up surprised not that Bertrand and Jasmine are in my life, but that I actually managed to commit to marriage and parenthood.

Foreign servicewise, I am livin’ the dream.

Familywise, Jasmine is the cutest cute cute that ever did cute. Bertrand is as solid as a rock. And we are damn happy to be back in the West African heat.

Fitnesswise, I’m no longer training for a half marathon. Not that I ever was. Next week, I’m going to get into the office even earlier so that I can leave on time. I don’t mind not being home when Bertrand and Jasmine are sleeping, but every moment I stay late in the evening is a moment with my daughter that I’m going to regret not having when she’s older.

So no gym. We’re back to workout DVDs, my friends. 30-day shred, here I come.

Foodwise, I’m going to be ordering a lot off of Amazon (and <3 <3 <3), and making a lot from scratch. And eating a lot of fruit.

On (not calorie) restricted eating, for a good cause

I’m only going to talk about the baby on Thursdays. One day a week. That’s my New Year’s Blogging Resolution, and I’m sticking to it.

Except that having a baby has affected every part of my life, and sometimes it’s damn hard to talk about anything else without talking about her.

Like food.

Baby J* has a food intolerence, an intolerence that gives her crazy-ass gas and sometimes diarrhea. Brand new baby has diarhea on the day after Christmas? Guess who spent December 26 in the ER. :-P We don’t know what it is. Her doctor doesn’t know what it is. But everyone’s universally agreed that something I eat messes up her immature digestive system and that I should cut it out.

The Internets are full of lists of food to avoid while breastfeeding. Thanks, Internets, for giving me more Mom guilt, as if I don’t have enough already. I’m on a strict elimination diet, and guess what! It works! Baby J no longer has gas or diarrhea or gastrointestinally provoked colic. Of course, Mama T is hungry and cranky, but that’s actually not as important as actually being able to sleep at night.

Things I can’t eat:

  • Broccoli and related vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions and garlic
  • Citrus
  • Beans
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine the doctor said to go ahead and have a cup of coffee in the morning if it didn’t appear to upset Jasmine. THANK YOU LORD I CAN CONTINUE TO LIVE.
  • Peanuts
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Beef
  • Soy

The biggies are foods that are hard to digest (veggies, beans), foods that irritate the digestive system (caffeine), and common allergens, including cow proteins. Do you know how freaking hard it is to find processed foods without soy in them? EVERYTHING HAS SOY. Soybean oil. Soy litchen. MSG. Soy is in breads, crackers, cookies, and even frozen veggies.

So whatever. I eat a lot of sausage (pork and turkey), fruits (apples, grapes, bananas), chicken, innocuous vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, green beans), and carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes).

Breakfast was delicious: crumbled sausage on a sweet potato with maple syrup, and coffee with vanilla almond milk. I didn’t take a picture because I had already eaten everything by the time I’d finished reheating my coffee in the microwave. Yeah, I microwaved my coffee this morning. Don’t hate.

Needless to say, it makes watching what I eat an excercise in frustration. Avoiding anything with soy or dairy in it is hard enough, not to mention the raw veggies I have to avoid. I’m just not interested in freaking out about POUNDS and the SCALE and OMG FITNESS, when it’s all I can do to get enough calories to breastfeed Jasmine every day.

*Not a blog pseudonym; we call her “J” around the house. Bertrand’s “B” (prounounced “bey”, as in the French letter B), and I’m “T”.

Happy one week birthday, Jasmine!

Bertrand and Jasmine

Jasmine’s a week old today! After a rough start, she’s now thriving.

Briefly, after a week of irregular, painful contractions that weren’t bringing me any closer to active labor, I asked my doctor if we could induce. Once the pitocin was introduced, my doctor discovered complications that meant that a vaginal birth would be very bad for the baby, and WAM BAM THANK YOU MA’AM, an hour later, the cesarean was done, and Jasmine was born.

I’ve made jokes on Facebook about having Grandma down the hall, but moving in with my parents for my maternity leave is the best thing that Bertrand and I could have done for ourselves. Sure, it means that we have to actually get dressed, shower, and keep up with housework, all struggles for parents of newborns, but it also means that Mom and Dad (now Grandma and Grandpa!) are around as resources, babysitters, and shoulders to cry on.

So what now?

1) I’m back to blogging. There are 11 days to Christmas, and I’m going to blog every single one of them.

2) This isn’t going to become a Mommy Blog. Sorry. Baby-J is certainly the cutest baby in the WHOLE WORLD, but she deserves her privacy just as much as anyone else.

3) Food and health are back on the (writing) table! My doctor put me on a (non calorie restricted) low sodium (thanks, postpartum and post-operation swelling), high fiber (thanks, post-operation digestive … issues), high protein (postpartum weight control), diet.

I’m exhausted. Bertrad’s exhausted. Jasmine’s the sweetest cutest thing on the planet.

We’re happy as can be.

Day 3 of not-labor

Apparently, there is “pre” labor, “active” labor, but also “false” labor. By anything but “active,” my doctor means, “incredibly painful contractions that aren’t quite close enough to merit a visit to the hospital.”

Today is Day 3 of regular contractions that aren’t actually getting me anywhere. 1 out of every 10 minutes is spent in agony as my gut clenches and gets ready to push the baby out. 9 of every 10 minutes are spent comfortably ensconced in my parents’ house, waiting for “real” labor to begin. Happy fun times, let me tell you.

In the meantime, Bertrand and I have been entertaining ourselves with my shiny new camera.

<3 <3 <3


Sausage, apple, smoked cheddar, and Wheat Thins

My very pregnant shadow

Belly shadow I


Strawberries and cottage cheese

Damn, I should eat like this every day.

Accomplish one task per day.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been creating life for 36 weeks now. Oh, I’m sorry, does the reference to “creating life” sound smug? That’s because it is! Smugness is my only defense against the frustration I’m feeling right now.

Accomplish one task everyday.

Advice to live by, given to Peace Corps Volunteers newly arrived in Benin. I discounted it then because I was in a situation where I could accomplish much much more. Today, with a belly the size of Alaska, achy joints, a lot of soreness, and no possibility of drugs to relieve the discomfort, I’m happy to get one thing done in a day, no matter how small.

Friday, I finished an online class AND applied for my diplomatic passport, AND went grocery shopping. Total walking = about 2.5 miles.

Saturday, I went to brunch AND went to Costco. Total walking = 1.5 miles. I’ve used a pedometer in Costco before, and some days we walk almost a mile inside! Yesterday, only half a mile.

Today, I brunched (again!) AND went to L.L.Bean. I didn’t get the waterproof boots I was hoping to get, as pregnancy swelling apparently has made my already-fat calves too fat for even L.L. Bean Wellies I wanted. I did, however, get some cold-weather baby clothes. I now have no more excuses to freak out about having a baby during an American winter.

I’ve been pretty laissez-faire about food during my pregnancy, focusing more on variety and getting a lot of fruits and vegetables, rather than paying attention to saturated fat and calorie content. Bertrand got some bad news in regards to cholesterol from the doctor the other day, and I’m now in the home stretch, so we’re going to start paying close attention to diet again.

Wings, broccoli, and sweet potato fries

Dinner was baked wings (B’s, pictured, were smothered in BBQ sauce), broiled sweet potato fries, and steamed broccoli sprinkled with delicious cheddar cheese. I probably could have done without following the healthy meal with pumpkin spice ice cream, but hey! pumpkin obsession!

36 weeks on Monday!

Costco pizza <3

Costco frozen pizza is superior to anything we can get delivered here in Crystal City. Yum. As spending time on my feet gets progressively more uncomfortable, we’re getting more and more enthusiastic about dinners that don’t require any effort to make. Like pizza and salad.

Pizza and salad

Last night we went to a good-bye party for some of my colleagues who are heading out to post this week. My burgeoning belly makes for great conversation, especially since I have no patience for glowing happy OMG pregnancy is AWESOME narratives. I’m uncomfortable. My legs hurt. My abs hurt. My groin hurts. And I can’t sleep through the night because I ALWAYS HAVE TO PEE.

On the other hand, I’m creating life, and that’s kind of awesome.
34 weeks

And here’s a bonus photo: Bertrand saw snow for the first time last weekend!

Bertrand in the snow

Out of town visits and granola madness

Liz was in town this weekend, and instead of spending a couple of days exploring DC, we holed up in my apartment and tested granola recipes. I’d made up my mind to make Christmas presents this year, but wasn’t sure if granola would be a) feasible time-wise and b) classy and pretty enough.

Trust me, it’s both.

We started the day with homemade pumpkin spice lattes, before getting to work!

Pumpkin spice lattes

My plan was to test 5 different recipes: pumpkin spice, apple cinnamin, vanilla blueberry, orange cranberry, and coconut almond. We got out lots of oats, flax, sweeteners, nuts, and dried fruits, before getting to work in my tiny kitchen. Yum.


Pumpkin spice was a success! I’d already found a great recipe, and knew how to modify it to make things a bit more … pumpkin-y. It turned out really well.

Pumpkin spice granola

Before finishing up the apple cinnamon granola, we went out to lunch at a creperie in Pentagon Row.

No crepe, just beer.

Bertrand was disappointed to discover that his smoked salmon was actually a smoked salmon salad, but Liz and I had delicious delicious crepes.

Mushroom creme crepe

By the time we got home, post lunch, grocery store, and beer run, I was exhausted! We were able to finish up the apple cinnamon and vanilla blueberry granolas before friends came over for dinner, but didn’t get to the last two on our list.

Apple cinnamon granola

Bertrand made Beninese food for dinner, and we washed it down with pumpkin beer.

Pumpkin beer w/ a honey cinnamon rim

I’ve tried to convince him that he should write up his recipes, but he really doesn’t have any. He’s a good cook, but does everything by feel. He can’t tell me how much broth, salt, or oil he uses in anything at all. No Beninese cook I’ve ever met actually mesures. Everything is done by taste, smell, and feel. I wish I could cook like that!

On baby gear and being a control freak

Maybe you haven’t noticed this, but I’m a control freak. I’m a planner. The better I’m prepared, the better I can handle the unexpected and unpredictable when it happens.

At 32 weeks, I’m starting to worry. About everything. Ever-steady Bertrand is not. He never freaks out about anything, which is an excellent foil to my high-strung freak outs. My need to control is manifesting itself by an intense need to research, plan, and debate baby gear.

“Bertrand, do you think we need two strollers because the Bob’s going to be so bloody big? What are we going to do on the airplane?”

“Bertrand, you know how we’d decided we weren’t going to get a crib, because we’ll have the pack-n-play, and our stuff might not show up to Freetown for at least six months? Well, I want a crib.”

“Bertrand, how many bottles should we start out with?”

“Bertrand, how do you feel about feminine diaper bags, since you’re going to be at home with the baby for the first few months? Do you think you and I should have our own, or should we share?”

“Bertrand, do you think we ship baby food to Freetown, even though we spent $300 on a food processor so that I could make it myself?”

“Bertrand, do you think we have enough cold weather gear to get us through the 10 weeks before we leave for Freetown?”

“Bertrand! Bertrand! Bertrand!”

He listens to me, offers a well reasoned point of view, then hugs me and tells me that everything is going to be OK, no matter what equipment we buy or don’t buy. We keep reminding ourselves that babies grow up with no gear, no posessions, and no “stuff” all over the world, but dammit, we want things to be perfect for Lucky.

Also, baby gear is fucking adorable.

Pumpkin granola and a day on the National Mall

PeaPod, you are my new best friend. Not only can I get groceries delivered to my door, I can get them delivered before 8 in the morning on a weekend, which means that I can spend the morning cooking and the afternoon hanging out, instead of spending the morning grocery shopping, and the afternoon cooking.

First up! Pumpkin spice granola! I stuck to the tried and true 2 Peas and a Pod for this first-time-in-America batch. The recipe makes about 5 cups.

Pumpkin Spice Granola II

Second up! Pumpkin chocolate chip granola bars! Again, sticking to the tried and true.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Both of the recipes can be made without applesauce. For the granola, just up the pureed pumpkin. For the granola bars, substitute chopped apple that’s been simmered in sugar and cinnamon, and up the pureed pumpkin. I also added almonds to each to increase protein.


Third up! Delicious lunch. Roast beef on Russian bread, Granny Smith apples with almond butter, Baked Lays, string cheese, and some sort of pumpkin pastry I got from Whole Foods. Every lunch should be this delicious.


After eating, Bertrand and I headed out to the National Mall to get our sightseeing on.

Lincoln Memorial

We spent a few hours just wandering.

Washington monument from the Lincoln

Dinner was a creamy lemon asparagus chicken pasta … thing. It was delicious, but the recipe needs some tweaking before I post it. Happy Labor Day!


I haven’t been blogging because I hate this blog. There. I said it. THIS BLOG MAKES ME CRAZY. It is annoying (like me), neurotic (like me), and damn unfunny (unlike me). I’ve written enough “I can’t find my voice” posts to sink a damn battleship.

The strange thing is that I have a few “fitness buddies,” with whom I exchange emails privately. I love the emails I send them! They are funny. Eloquent. Feminist. Honest. Yes, neurotic too.

While I’m figuring things out (and freaking out about a possible furlough at work), here are some links I’ve liked over the past few days:

Food is cheaper because costs are “externalized”. Marion Nestle’s excellent explanation for how American food stays so cheap compared to the rest of the world. Do you not read Food Politics? You should!

Lentil Loaf, on Feed Me I’m Cranky. I’m making this for dinner tonight! Oh, protein, I miss you so!

Free-Market Solutions for Overweight Americans. Matt Ridley examens healthy living vouchers as a solution for obesity. I’m not convinced, as better and universal access to healthy foods, health care, and education would do largely the same thing, but with much less cost and negative externalities. Oh, I’m sorry, is my progressive showing?