Thursday, July 31, 2008

Our latest home maintenance project

Today we stained our deck out back. It was a miserable experience, to put it kindly. It was 90 degrees in Iowa today with 75% humidity. We worked from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m straight through and sweat a few gallons between us. The clouds mercifully came out once in a while to shield us from the sun. Also, the deck stain ran out when there was only about half of the floor part left to do. The paint stores sell only in gallons, so that was another $40 for $2 worth of stain that we needed... The plus side is that it will last at least two more years at which point we'll be selling the place and moving to a new house that doesn't have a deck.

Also, our air conditioning picked the most humid week of the summer to break down. This is our thermostat today:

Yep, that's 92 degrees inside the house. The joys of home ownership... ;-)

UPDATE 08/02/08: We got the AC fixed yesterday. The furnace needed a new blower moter. The parts and labor cost only $350. Not bad!

Babysitting Gig

On Wednesday we got to babysit Caleb Teed - he and his family live down the street from us and are good friends of ours. He is the best baby we've ever watched. He is always cheerful, never cries, keeps himself entertained, and is very good-natured.

He enjoyed very much playing with the exercise ball:

Monday, July 28, 2008


It's what guarantees us political scientists a job...

"Stuff White People Like"

This is good for a chuckle:

It's a satirical statement on "white culture" in the United States (and by that, it means "the sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading liberal elite" white culture). My favorites are #5 (we have a lot of those in Iowa City), #20, #44, #62, #81, and #100.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Johnson County Fair

Last night we visited the Johnson County Fair. Not quite as elaborate as the Iowa State Fair that we went to last summer, but still stereotypically and quintessentially "Midwestern" enough to satiate our appetites.

We got to bond with barnyard animals...

Eat high-calorie fair fare (get it?), specifically, hamburgers and a funnel cake...
I also got to rub my pregnant wife's feet after walking around all night... (it takes effort when they're that sore!)

And we finished the night off with some patriotic fireworks:

They'll make Midwesterners out of us yet!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Washington Post article on political scientists

This article came out in the Washington Post today. It's about a book that a few prominent political scientists recently published on American voting behavior:

The first person they quote, Michael Lewis-Beck, was our graduate advisor last year. He's a very nice, and very smart individual.

If you've always wanted a glimpse into what it is I read and study about all day every day but were afraid to ask... this article will do the job. It talks about the extent of political knowledge among average Americans (very low) and if it's sufficient to still make competent voting decisions.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Projects

As part of our ongoing summer renovation series, we did a deep clean/reorganization of our garage. As you can see, we threw out several old boxes, consolidated the contents of several others, hung a bike up from the ceiling, assembled some shelves, hung up the tools on the walls, swept the ground, etc. It looks half-way decent now. Also pictured is our front door. We filled a crack in it with wood putty and repainted it. I had never taken a door off its hinges before, nor had I ever disassembled a doorknob/deadbolt apparatus. I'm learning all sorts of domestic stuff this summer.
The next series of projects includes a cleaning/reorganization of the computer/office room as well as trying to seal a leak in the roof...

Root Beer Floats

Whoever said that catering to your wife's pregnancy cravings was an inconvenience was sorely mistaken...

Grad School - Here I come

I (Katie) am officially a Hawkeye! (That is the mascot for the University of Iowa). I've been so busy with classes, projects, papers, and readings that I haven't even mentioned on this blog that I am a grad student. I started classes on June 23rd and I will finish this "semester" on August 1st. I am taking two classes (Principles of Course Design for Second Language Instruction and Learning to Teach Second Lanuages I) that will help me work towards my ultimate goal of earning my master's in Foreign Language Education.

It has been good for me to see school from the student's perspective again. The classes are pretty demaninding, but I have enjoyed learning new things and taking time to ponder on education and my own philosophies. So far I am not failing, woo hoo!

Ben thinks it is funny to see me studying and worried about grades, he likes riding on the bus with me to school as well.

My plan right now is to take a full semester of classes in the fall and hope to finish early before our little girl arrives. Then I hope to take at least one distance ed course in the spring semester. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama on bilingual education...

Responding to a voter in GA who'd like more bilingual education, Barack Obama said:

"Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they’ll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.
You know, it’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], ‘Merci beaucoup.’ Right? You know, no, I’m serious about this. We should understand that our young people, if you have a foreign language, that is a powerful tool to get a job. You are so much more employable. You can be part of international business. So we should be emphasizing foreign languages in our schools from an early age, because children will actually learn a foreign language easier when they’re 5, or 6, or 7 than when they’re 46, like me."

Read more if interested:

Labor of Love

While in Utah, Ben and I were able to talk my mom into coming back to Iowa with us. We told her that Ben cooks well and that Iowa is beautiful. Somehow we were able to convince her to come with us. She survived the long drive and then went to work. While here she helped shop for materials, made a window treatment for my arch window, made curtains for my living room, made another set of curtains when she didn't like the first ones, sewed a cover for my weird shaped body pillow, sanded everything that needed to be painted, painted the baseboards, closet doors, glider, ottoman, and window sill in the baby room, recovered the glider with cute yellow fabric, made alphabet stencils, cut out the stencils, stenciled an alphabet border around the room (in two colors), touched up the border and animals, helped out in general, was great company for me, and overall was an excellent slave. I am so grateful that she came and I really enjoyed having her here. She is amazing and accomplished so many things in the two weeks that she was here. On Saturday we took her to the train station and we had to say goodbye. We will miss her greatly! I really appreciate her willingness to sacrifice for us. She worked long days and spent much time high on a ladder with her arms in the air. I hope that she thinks it was worth it, because I am overwhelmed by how great everything turned out. Here are some pictures.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Slowly but surely...

... I'm gaining a basic competence with this whole "home repair" thing. Observe:

I put in the bottom shelf shown above. It's more complicated than it looks.

Installed a sliding screen door in the back... also more to it than meets the eye.

And the coup de gras:

A new ceiling fan downstairs. The impressive part was undoing the electrical wiring for the old one and rewiring it for the new one. First time electricking for me, and fortunately it worked. It took only took two and a half hours from start to finish.

It's a girl!

We are so excited to know that we are having a girl and that we no longer have to call her an it. And no, I haven't purchased any girl clothes yet. I am trying to restrain for now.

Our ultrasound was yesterday. She 'bebecita' was somewhat cooperative and we saw some amazing footage of moving hands and feet. Her head was down, though, so we couldn't get a good profile shot.

I am just so relieved that she looks healthy, normal (as normal as an alien might look), and has no noticeable problems. Phew!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Photos from sibling's weddings

The interested audience for these links is probably pretty small, but I'm very proud of my little brother and sister for their respective weddings last month so I'm putting links to their pictures:

Jennifer and Christian engagement pictures:

Jennifer and Christian wedding pictures:!).html

Michael and Stacy engagement/wedding pictures:


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Drumming Up Business...

This last Tuesday I went to a dentist appointment at the College of Dentistry here at the University of Iowa. A top-notch establishment, in my view. It seems they're never at a loss for patients. After my appointment was over I went to exit the building and noticed in the main lobby the reason for their good fortune in business - there was a huge plate of tooth-shaped cookies, each with a thick layer of sugary frosting... free for the taking! Now I know why this is such a prestigious dental school... ;-)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Finally back

We recently returned from our exciting tour of the Western States. I am going to try and sum up the trip with some brief notes, although I won't bore you with all the details.
First, the most important news is that I am feeling a little bit better now that the trip is over. I experienced "parenthood" up front as we played and were attacked by my sister's three cute boys, entertained Denali in long car rides, woke up to her throwing up in the hotel room at three a.m., taking her to San Diego Zoo, catching Isaac's spit up in my mouth and all of my clothes, playing "phone" with Katelyn, etc. Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for this mom thing, I am definitely nervous.

We are excited to find out soon whether or not we are having a boy or a girl. Ben, my mom, and pretty much everyone that we have talked with wants us to have a girl, for some reason I have thought all along that it will be boy. We'll see.

Our trip began with a long (through the night) drive to Utah. We stopped at Fort Bridger in Wyoming on the way home and got this great picture of Ben.
We stayed with my Aunt Lori near the airport and she took us there the next morning. Thanks much! We flew to Los Angeles and spent several days with Kimberly and her family. We really enjoyed spending time with them. The boys treated us like royalty and they even let us play Mario Cart with them. I "let" them beat me every time. :) We also enjoyed going to pool and eating at In-n-Out. Here is a picture of me with Kimberly and her two boys Nathan and Bryce (Jeffrey is at school).
On Thursday we met up with Ben's family and they drove us down to San Diego. In addition to a beautiful wedding ceremony in the San Diego temple for Christian and Jennifer Mansfield, we also got to see some of the sights and enjoy the perfect southern California weather. Denali enjoyed playing in the pool, playing in the pool, and playing in the water at the beach. We were especially delighted by the food and ate at many fabulous restaurants that were shown to us by Ben's step-dad, who is a San Diego native. Yum! Here are a few pictures.

The next Monday we flew to Utah. Our plane was delayed several hours and we didn't arrive until one in the morning. I got sick on the plane and was miserable for the entire flight. Ben was sweet and tried to console me.
We then spent the next week and a half visiting friends and family in Utah. It was good to see everyone. We appreciate those of you that fed us and entertained us while we were there. It was so good to be with everyone, and we were well taken care of, which can be attested to by our expanded waistlines. We enjoyed seeing:
Kristy and her family; thanks for the dancing show and for the fun game of Cranium
Ken and his family; those were the best kabobs we've ever had and Shawn Boardin is sure cute
Jenny and Christian; even though they were newlyweds they found time to hang out with us- Christian let me use the "pregnancy" excuse for everything
Grandma and Grandpa Wight; they took such good care of us that I wanted to move in. We also got to hang out with Jacki while we were there.
Janna and her family; thanks for the scrabble game and for all of your help
Clay and Naila and fam; we enjoyed seeing these friends from the Spanish branch, they fed us a fantastic dinner.
Dustin and Paola and fam; They also fed us yummy Mexican food. (We lucked out this trip) The boys are growing so fast and they all seem to be doing well.
Michael and Stacy; They were busy preparing for the wedding, but we still got to spend quality time with them. We are so excited for them.
Lora (Ben's mom) and Big Mike; She spoiled us rotten and was fun to visit. Mike was an awesome guide and chauffer on our San Diego trip.
Lonna and Max (My parents); They let us stay in their home and even vacuumed up all the cat and dog hair. Ben had fun getting up early every morning to go walking with my mom.
We also saw many of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and Ben's family as well. We briefly talked with Ben's friend Patience and we crashed a Spanish Branch barbecue. Fun!
On the 26th of June we had the privilege of attending the sealing of my cousin Janae to Nate and the sealing of Michael (Ben's brother) to Stacy. We had some neat experiences and are so excited for these new couples. Here's a photo of Mike and Stacy.

That's probably enough for now. I'll try to post soon to add more details.