Thursday, July 30, 2009

Iowa City Mexican Restaurant Review

Iowa City is great if you want Asian food, vegetarian meals, or pizza. Its selection of Mexican restaurants, on the other hand, while plentiful, are not worth either the time or money, in my humble (yet educated) opinion.

However, Katie and I are pleased to add another restaurant to our list of approved Mexican restaurants in Johnson county. "EL CACTUS" recently opened in Coralville. It's located at 104 1st Ave. Despite it's rather unfortunate gringo name, the food was as authentic as anything either of us has ever had. Katie thought the beans and rice were especially good. Even though it wasn't listed on the menu, they had horchata for me when I asked for it (with free refills!) Abigail even enjoyed the food (not that she's very discriminating at this point in her early eating career...)

So we highly recommend to all our Iowa friends to make it a priority to visit El Cactus in Coralville if you're hankering for some carne asada or chimichangas.

Finally, our list of Approved Mexican Restaurants in Johnson County, compiled over the last three years, now includes the following, ranked according to awesome-ness:

  1. EL PATIO - West Liberty (they take only cash - no check or credit, but it's worth the inconvenience. Doesn't hurt to speak Spanish, either.)
  2. PLAZA JALISCO - North Liberty (lots of seafood dishes)
  3. EL CACTUS - Coralville (see description above)
  4. LA REYNA - Iowa City (south of HW6) - they have an authentic restaurant attached.
  5. IGUANA'S GRILL in North Liberty / CAFE IGUANAS in Hills. I'm not really sure if they're separate restaurants or not. Either way, they're both good.

So It Begins...

To those who are interested: I sent off my first batch of job applications today (to start in fall 2010). Four small, liberal-arts schools in New York, Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky. It's the beginning of what's sure to be a long and arduous process toward graduation and future employment...
Also, because I know our Rocky Mountain family members are interested: so far there's not a single job opening any further west than east-central Texas. And I'm fairly certain I'm not going to get that job. Hopefully more will pop up throughout August. University faculty lines are slim pickins this year with the economy being in the shape it is. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What's Summer Without watermelon?

Can you tell that the juice is all over her arms, the Bumbo, and the floor? Her diaper was red by the time she finished, but just on the outside.

Her new trick is taking off her bib. I try to enforce the rule that she doesn't get any food unless her bib is on. She loves to take it off, so it's a constant battle right now.

Busy Summer

I have been so busy this summer with school, student teaching, ABIGAIL, fun trips with Benjamin, callings/responsibilities for my church, spending time with friends, house projects, cleaning, babysitting for friends, planning a baby shower for my good friend Rachel, and making baby presents. I've done pretty well with most of these projects, cleaning has gone by the wayside, however. Warning to anyone who wants to come visit: please call ahead. :)

I don't consider myself to be the most crafty person, although I do have a little bit of creativity. I am especially proud of the things that I made for Rachel's shower, which was a huge success. First, I based the invitations on a design I had seen made for a baby announcement. They were a lot of fun to make. Thanks to Tawnya for helping me to sew them all together. The invitation part can be pulled out and used as a reminder for the shower.

Next, I decided to go all out and make a blanket. I have little experience with blankets, but was optimistic. I was floored by how well this turned out. I am really proud of it.This is called a rag quilt. One side is flat and soft while the other is frayed and full of texture. I made sure to go slow and my diligence paid off. If anyone else sees this and wants one, just know that I am not making another one of these any time soon. They are TOO much work. The worst part was cutting all the edges at the end so that they would fray in the wash. Thanks to Ben who helped me finish this last step because my hands hurt so bad that I no longer could hold the scissors. Then I had to use a lint roller to clean off all the lint. I had no idea that flannel was so staticky. Here it is.
Here is an example of a jeans blanket I made over five years ago. Notice how the squares don't line up. This time I used a rotary cutter to make uniform squares and then I pinned the strips to guarantee that the corners would line up. I wasn't sure that I could do it, but it turned out pretty well.
I am also in the process of making another blanket (different kind) for my new niece. Pics will come after she's seen it. :)
There are so many other things that I also want to do this summer, we'll see if I can find the time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

President Monson and President Obama

President Monson and Elder Oaks met with President Obama yesterday and gave him a copy of his genealogy. I suppose that's one of the perks of being president: other people do your family history research for you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

For Kimberly

Thanks for the dress, even if you don't remember what it looks like. :)

Here's a picture of her in her cute overalls borrowed from Michaela (many of her outfits are borrowed from Michaela).

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer Camping Trip 2009

Every summer since Katie and I have known each other we've gone for a camping trip of some kind together. They've ranged from the minor (weekend trip with the fam up Logan canyon) to the extreme (week long southern Utah trip 2006, Mississippi Great River Road Minneapolis, MN to Nauvoo, IL 2007). There was one small exception of last summer, but Katie says she that since she was pregnant she had a good excuse.

So this summer we wanted to get the summer camping tradition back on schedule. Small detail: new baby to deal with. We weren't 100% sure how she was going to deal with the great outdoors for an extended amount of time (no crib to sleep in, different environment, bugs, etc.). So we camped in nearby Kent Park (just a few minutes north-west of Coralville) and stayed only for two nights.

How did Abigail do? See for yourself:

She had a great time. She loved being outside and didn't cry for one second the entire two days that we were there. She was thrilled to see all the trees and animals everywhere. She busied herself by taking in her environment, practicing her budding crawling skills, tasting some grass, etc.

Here are some more Abigail pictures. They're arranged in no particular order. I was going to order them in a logical sequence, but since Blogger is the WORST layout formatter in digital existence, it is much more difficult than it ought to be to simply move pictures around. So I'll keep them in the order they were plopped in and add the appropriate captions:
Do you like how even when she's sleeping she still has the toy clutched in her hand?

Playing with Mom in the tent...
Sleeping in the tent. Doesn't she look comfortable?
Here, Mom is holding her so she can get a close-up look at a huge ant hill. Cool, huh?

I made Katie go on a four-mile "death march" (as she calls it) our first morning there. It was pretty, though. Utah might have nice mountains and canyons, but the Rocky Mountain west has nothing on the Midwest in terms of beautiful GREEN everywhere. When Katie's mom visited last summer, I remember she remarked, "even the weeds on the side of the road here are pretty!"

As always, Katie took charge of the camp fire. She had not one, but two "one match" fires. Pretty impressive.

They have a big lake at Kent Park - we went wading in the water. Although it doesn't show in her facial expression, Abby enjoyed it.

Abigail with Dad. She loves riding on my shoulders.

Taking a short break on the grass by the lake.
On the whole, Abigail did great and behaved well enough that we just might take her again sometime. We enjoyed ourselves as well. It was a welcome respite from the daily routine this summer of dissertation writing (Ben) and Spanish class homework (Katie).
Maybe when we're out in Utah in August someone could arrange a short camping trip for us??? (Hint, hint.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Isabelle Lily

I know that she's not my child, but she's family and I already adore her. What a beautifully perfect little girl. We are so glad that she is healthy, even though she's spending a few days in the NICU just to make sure. By all accounts she is a great baby and her family cannot get enough of her. I hope that she is able to go home soon, I remember that having a baby in the NICU can be physically and emotionally stressful. I will mention, however, that I loved having a nurse at my beck and call when I had questions or when I needed help.
Abigail will get to meet her new cousin in about three weeks. Yea!

Abigail on the Back Porch in her New Pool

Thursday, July 9, 2009

For her Seventh Month Birthday. . .

The grandmas and grandpas sent hugs and kisses.
Aunt Jenny sent new clothes.
The mailman brought junk mail.
The newscasters forgot to mention this momentous occasion.

Mom took her to the doctor to confirm that she has an ear infection, she does. Mom gave her Tylenol. Mom also cuddled and entertained her (cranky baby) all day.

Dad played with her all morning and took some cute pictures.
Here she is with her first real bedhead. Yes she is eating her shoe, she loves to eat shoes. She rarely wears them on her feet. When she does, she still manages to get them into her mouth.

But Uncle Mike and Aunt Stacy win the prize. For Abigail's seventh month birthday they gave her a. . .

COUSIN !!!!!

We couldn't be more excited about the arrival of this little girl and we hope that she is doing well after making her debut five weeks early. Why couldn't Abigail have been so anxious to be born? Do you recall how difficult it was for Benjamin and I to choose a name?, imagine having five less weeks to do it. So now you know why the child is currently nameless. Maybe they should let Denali choose. LOL!

Monday, July 6, 2009


If you are short on time, fast forward to the end. The movie is ONLY two and a half minutes long, how could you have anything better to do than to watch our amazingly beautiful child in this movie.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

We are so grateful for the country that we live in and for the freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy. We had a wonderful fourth, despite the moody weather. We got some yard work done, the house cleaned, hosted a barbecue, and enjoyed some great fireworks. Thanks to all our friends who came and spent it with us at our house. I hope you enjoyed the quiz that Ben gave on the founding and the Declaration of Independence. Maybe next year he'll actually recite the whole thing, as was initially advertised. Thanks to Kelly and Brett for giving us their grill. It is AWESOME!
The fireworks were great. Abigail LOVED them and watched with open mouth the entire show, she didn't even seem phased by the explosions, even though they were extremely loud.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Swinging, Standing by "Herself," Sliding and Sleeping.

Perplexing Ethical Dilemma...

Here's a tough question: should the children of deceased fathers who were conceived posthumously using modern fertility methods qualify as "survivors" and thus be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits?

That issue has come up recently here in Iowa. It's fascinating:

Katie and I have talked about it for a few days and we haven't been able to come to a satisfying answer. There are very good arguments on both sides. A summary of some of those arguments can be found here:

What do you all think?