Friday, December 29, 2006

The family Christmas jam

In years past, siblings have spent Christmas with in-laws and my brother-in-law has been deployed. So this year, it was truly a rare and special occasion to have the entire family together on Christmas Day. My father herded us all in front of the fireplace for a family photo. Among us, there were three digital cameras on time delay to capture the moment. Here is a video that my brother-in-law put together using the photos taken a few seconds apart.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I know, it's the day after Christmas. But I just wanted to share some photos from our first Christmas with our son, Danny. Enjoy!

Danny's First Christmas

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Baby Bomb

Here is a photo of what my family room has become:

Jim used all four of these seats this morning to try to sooth the little beastie.

In general, we have way more adult chairs than we need. That's the joke around our house. My living room looks like a furniture orphanage ... we keep adopting stray pieces of furniture. Now my family room has four baby seats scattered about the room. In every room, there is some evidence of baby ... a pacifier, a bottle, parts of a breast pump, baby hats, a sweatshirt, a burp cloth, a dirty diaper, wipes.

How can something so small generate so much stuff? And, come to think of it, how can something so small generate so much laundry? It feels like I do laundry every day. The upside is that the noise from our washing machine sooths the little beastie. Our machine is pretty old and it sounds like it's going to launch when it gets going.

The little monster also generates quite a bit of trash. Before baby, we put our big trash can out to the curb every other week and even then we would have only two or three bags of trash in it. Somehow we've managed to put a full trash can out to the curb every week since Danny's birth. It can't all be diapers. My theory is that I have little time to sort my garbage into recycling and composting piles. I guess over the years we've built up pollution credits by recycling, composting, reducing consumption and reusing what we could. Now that we don't have that kind of time, we're cashing in our pollution credits.

And here's a new photo of Danny Boy:

"My eyes are open and I'm thinking seriously about screaming my head off ... but first I must rest."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The little monster

Our son's personality is starting to emerge, ever so slightly. We've been calling him the little monster because, well, he's been crying and fussing a lot and he wakes up every time we start a meal. But we've also noticed that he grunts and growls a lot. And we're starting to discern when he's going to start wailing and when he's just growling to communicate with us. He even growls in his sleep, which has become pretty cute since we've figured out when he's going to growl himself awake and when he's just growling in his sleep.

Here's a photo of him sleeping (Thank GOD!) in his vibrating seat:

And here he is hanging out with Daddy:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sleeping like a baby

Whoever coined that phrase is a moron. "Sleeping like a baby" conjures up images of a blissful state of sleep. HA! Here's how my little one sleeps:

He sleeps for two and half to three hours at a time at night. Most moms I've talked to think that's just great. However, he grunts, fusses and snores in his sleep to keep me guessing and awake for at least part of the two and half to three hours he's snoozing. He won't sleep in the bedside bassinet, so he ends up nestled up next to my chest because if he's more than a foot from the source of food, it's a MAJOR crisis!

Maybe sleeping like a baby should be redefined. And since he's a perfect angel when other people are around, I just thought I would share a photo of one of his not-so-perfect moments!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The diaper-changing song

I decided a long time ago that I wouldn't be one of those moms who rode around in a minivan with Sesame Street songs or a nursery rhyme CD on a continuous loop. My child would listen to the music that my husband and I loved. Every time I heard "The Wheels on the Bus" or "Pop Goes the Wiesel" I would cringe and twitch. I couldn't stand the idea of having those songs playing over and over and over again in my college-educated brain.

We discovered last week that the little munchkin likes to hear John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" when he's having his diaper changed. He's fond of the rest of the CD, too. It turns out that you can go just as bat-shit insane with John Denver songs playing in your head ... constantly. This week, we've moved on to Johnny Cash and he seems to like "I Walk the Line." Gosh, I hope I don't get sick of the Man in Black. That would be a damn shame.

And here's the obligatory picture of the already overphotographed first born:

What are you looking at, Uncle Tim?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The 30-second Christmas tree

Last night, Jim, Danny and I went out to get our Christmas tree. In years past, we have picked the tree after a half-hour stroll through the aisles at Home Depot. My husband selects trees, twirls them and I provide commentary. This year, Jim picked up one six and a half foot Douglas fir, twirled it and I said, "Tag it and bag it." Funny how your priorities change when you are tired and toting a newborn around.

Contrast that with today's outing. We decided to bust out the stroller and take a walk around the block with the dog and the baby. It took us a half an hour to get the baby ready, the stroller ready, and figure out the baby bunting thing that you can attach to the stroller. Go figure. It used to take us 30 seconds to get ready for our walks.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Slow is a four-letter word

Slow sips of water. Slow trips to the bathroom and up and down the stairs. Slow, small bites of food. I'm trying to take it slow and easy. After all, I am recovering from the equivalent of a 50-mile hike in one day. I start the day with good intentions -- eating slowly, walking slowly, not bending and lifting too much --but by day's end, I've managed to wear myself out. I'm not very good at this slow thing.

Our first week with Danny was full of ups and downs. Jim and I both managed to catch a stomach virus. Jim had it Tuesday and I had it with a vengence on Wednesday night. I was throwing up constantly and trying to take care of a baby. Thank God my mother was there. It was the worst night of my life (and that's saying a lot for a woman who just endured 40 hours of labor largely unmedicated).

But we are learning some funny things about our son. Such as:

  • He sucks his index finger, just like his father did as a baby.

  • He HATES the vibrating seat.

  • He likes to be held so he can see your face.

  • He enjoys my John Denver, Cat Stevens and Neil Young CDs.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The booby has left the building ...

Tonight, Danny is one week old. My husband insisted that I pump and get out of the house for an hour. Bless him.

I cried the entire way to my destination. Leaving while my infant son cried was the hardest thing I've done in a while. When I returned, my husband was feeding him. Jim said Danny looked at him as if to say "You can do this, too?" Yes, son, Daddy can feed you, too.

Danny is nursing very well. He's had plenty of practice in the past week. I'm beginning to feel like a big booby with a head.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

They found us, part 2 ...

We arrived home Saturday to find our mailbox stuffed with a package from our dear friends at Enfamil. Apparently, they wanted to make sure that we had some of their wonderful product, just in case the breastfeeding didn't pan out. I told Jim to get it out of my sight. He tucked it away in a cabinet.

Believe it or not, I'm pretty laid back. But even I can see how frustration in the early days can lead a new mother to try formula. You worry that the baby isn't getting enough. You worry that the baby will never latch on properly or quickly or without yelling at your boob for five minutes. Coupled with lack of sleep, inadequate help and poor nutrition, a new mom can get frustrated easily. Fortunately, I have good help, excellent nutrition and am getting enough sleep. I really haven't slept more than three hours at a time since I got pregnant, so this isn't so shocking. The only difference is that now I'm up for an hour and a half or so while Danny feeds and settles back down. He settles back down quickly when Jim is sleeping next to us, but cries a lot after he leaves for work. It also helps that he's getting better at nursing while lying down.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A day past deadline

After 40 hours of labor (yes, you read that right) broken up with an eight-hour morphine-induced sleep, Daniel James Meehan arrived on December 1 at 9:01 p.m. I went into labor on my due date, November 30. He weighed in at 6 lbs 7 oz and is 20 inches long. He has a full head of hair and he even has side burns!

And what an amazing roller coaster those 40 hours were. I know why they call it labor ... it was damn hard work. I read that it's the equivalent of taking a 50-mile hike in one day. Does this mean I won't have to exercise for a while?? We all survived and here are a few photos of our newborn son. Enjoy and I'll post more later (after I get some sleep).

Monday, November 27, 2006

The lost art of waiting

In a culture with few suprises left, waiting for a baby to decide when it's ready to be born can be tough. But as anxious as we are to have this baby, I get the feeling others are more anxious.

We've encountered many people lately who just don't understand why anyone, in this day and age of scheduled deliveries, would actually choose to wait for labor to start naturally. It's as if we are inconveniencing them by choosing the natural approach. Some people have asked whether this will be a scheduled delivery or why we don't just go in for an induction or a C-section.

Here's why we won't do that:

Childbirth (and child rearing for that matter) is not something that can be neatly fit into over-scheduled lives. For the past three years, Jim and I have purposely under-scheduled our lives in anticipation of having children. I don't work full time, we don't have bad debt, we live very simply, Jim doesn't work super long hours at a demanding job, we aren't involved in a lot of activities. In fact, we moved to North Carolina to get away from the bustle and high cost of DC life. We felt that lifestyle would negatively impact the quality of our life with children.

So we wait. We nap, we laugh, we walk the dog, we watch movies and favorite TV shows uninterrupted, we go out for coffee, we clean and organize our home inside and out. And we enjoy these last few days or weeks together as a childless couple with a very unhurried, simple lifestyle.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Adventures in nesting

Mopping a floor should be one of those household tasks a woman my age should be able to do at least adequately and without mental gymnastics. But alas, I always end up mopping myself into a corner, then getting frustrated with the entire process when it seems that all I'm doing is pushing dirty animal-hair laden water around my kitchen floor. And, yes, I did sweep the floor before I mopped. Tip: Never, ever have a white kitchen floor (or walls for that matter).

I just mopped my kitchen floor and attempted to bleach my white, but dingy, kitchen walls. I'd say I'm probably nesting. Everytime I look around, I see a cobweb in a corner or on the ceiling and that just won't do. As for the kitchen walls, nothing short of painting them will satisify my need for clean walls right now. I've even put together a menu for each night of this week, despite the fact that I may be having a baby one day this week or at least, GOD PLEASE, before my gallon of milk expires on December 5.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

They found us ...

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is not to malign anyone who chooses formula. As a writer, editor and someone who has worked in public relations, I am always analyzing marketing material. I am particularly interested in marketing material that seems to play into people's fears.

In this week's mail, I received a lovely little booklet from Enfamil, a baby formula company, titled "Getting ready for a very special delivery." I expected a booklet full of information about formula and the benefits of using their brand in particular. What I got was information about labor and delivery and breast feeding. Very nice, but why is a formula company supplying information about breast feeding?

Then, in the very center of the booklet was an advertisement for their formula. The ad talked about "supplementing with formula," specifically their formula because it was found to be the closest to breast milk. What they don't tell you is that if you supplement breast milk with formula, your breast milk supply will begin to diminish. Supplementing with formula is the first step in weaning your baby and turning you into a baby formula customer -- which is what they want.

Incidentally, this is the same formula company that supplies what they call a "Smart Bag" free to women in hospitals all over the country. Here's how they describe it: Customized design for breastfeeding moms; lots of storage room; a sample of Enfamil LIPIL Infant Formula, should you decide to supplement with formula. I fail to see how any bag would be specially designed for breastfeeding moms. All you need to breastfeed is a boob. There are no special supplies to buy, much to the chagrin of the baby marketing machine.

Isn't this kind of like Philip Morris publishing booklet about the dangers of smoking and including an advertisement for Marlboros? Or a food company supplying health information, but telling customers that if they must eat unhealthy, use our product because it's better for you than other junk food?

So, now the baby marketing machine has our address and they seem to know that our "big day is almost here." That phrase was printed on the first page of the booklet. How did they know? Scary. I'm curious to see what else turns up in my mailbox.

Monday, November 13, 2006

School at age 3?

Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.
(1874) Benjamin Disraeli

The News & Observer published an article in today's paper about an effort by researchers at a UNC Chapel Hill institute to start children in school at age 3. The child development institute is pushing for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system to host a prototype. The institute's interest is in getting people to see the education of 3- to 4-year-olds in public schools as the norm.

Some scholarly articles on the institute's effort point to research showing that early intervention with children leads to higher achievement later in their education. Intervention? What exactly would the school system be intervening in? The word intervention connotates that what's being arrested is always a bad situation and they are the saviors. In some cases, yes, they may be giving an impoverished child a chance she otherwise would not have had. But why then should every child, even the ones whose family life affords them infinite benefits that the state could never provide, be subject to school at age 3? Why do these scholars assume that a classroom setting is better than family- and life-centered learning and development in every situation? Does this mean that all children should be subject to classroom learning because some children don't have the advantage of a stable, loving home?

This goes to the heart of my opposition to state-mandated education. The state wants to replace the family as basic unit of society. In my opinion, a stable family, in whatever form it may take (that's a WHOLE other post), is the basic building block of society. It's not the state's job to raise children for the sole benefit of being cogs in their machine. It's a family's responsibility to raise the next generation to be whatever it wants to be.

Even the language used by the article's author is a frightening testimony to just how "normal" society considers the government's "right" to educate our children. He writes "[The school] would take 750 students, from 3-year-olds to fifth-graders, from the Seawell assignment zone." Note my emphasis. We seem to think it's just fine for the government to take our children for their grand (failed) social experiment that is the public school system. Nobody questions the system, they just let the system push them around, until finally, one day, they will find an excuse to start educating infants.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The 20-second panic attack

It's starting to dawn on me that at any given moment we are less than 24 hours from our entire lives changing ... forever. Luckily, the fallout from these realizations lasts about 20 seconds or less. Today we are childless, the next day we will have a baby and be parents. It's a scary thought even though we've had nine months to get used to it. At least I managed to make a decision and actually purchase diapers in the past few days.

Jim's 20-second panic attacks are all about his new job right now. On November 15, he is opening a brand-new corporate cafeteria in RTP. We're hoping that I don't go into labor before then. In fact, Jim has put in his request for me to go into labor on Thanksgiving Day since he'll have a four day weekend. I'll talk it over with the baby and see what we can do about that, Daddy.

Looking back, life-changing events seem to have happened for us in sudden and unexpected ways. Three years ago, Jim was looking for a new job in a very good job market in Maryland, but was finding nothing. Within three weeks of looking for a job in North Carolina, a very tight job market, he found one — after he'd been turned down for a job it looked like he would get. That same fall, we were set to move from Maryland without a contract on the townhouse, which had been on the market for nearly two months in a very hot seller's market. An hour before we left, we stood in our empty kitchen with the real estate agent signing a contract for more than our asking price. As I searched for a job that fall, my resumes went unanswered and I was turned down for a job at a newspaper I once worked for. About 10 months later, I got a job at Pulitzer-Prize winning newspaper — where I worked in college — just as the other newspaper was being bought out and my old colleagues were being laid off.

Those are just a few of the reasons our panic attacks last only about 20 seconds. There are countless other stories that I have deposited in what I call my "bank account of faith." God has always given us what we need, when we need it — and when we're ready for it. I'm convinced we'll all be fine.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The countdown has begun

We had an appointment at the birth center today. Danny is doing great. His heart rate is good (140 beats per minute), my blood pressure is low (112/64) and my weight gain is nice and steady (only 12 pounds so far!). The midwife thinks Danny is about 6.5 to 7 pounds right now. He has dropped down quite a bit and is head down. In fact, he's dropped down so far that I visit the bathroom these days whether I need to go or not - I just think of it as a pre-emptive potty break. The bathroom is my new office.

I think I'm nesting, too. This week, I've done a lot of investment cooking. I've made chicken broth, meatballs and chicken pot pies and all are going into the freezer. The pantry is stocked, organized and all the contents of my fridge, freezer and pantry are catalogued so I know what we have. I actually alphebetized my spices and oils and vinegars so my mom can find her way around my kitchen when she's here. If you think that's just a little obsessive, you should see the instruction notebook I have for her! The baby's clothes and blankets are all washed and folded. The baby first aid items are all lined up. The Thank You notes are all written. I've also sewn a few things for Danny. I made a boppee cover, a sling and a baby bunting.
Timmy's cat Penelope was the sling tester ... hehe. She was a good sport, sort of.

But other signs point to a bit of "unreadiness" on my part. My birth center bag is packed, but not zipped. I can't bring myself to buy diapers yet. I go down the diaper aisle, look at the choices, flip out and go home. And I let my gas tank get dangerously low despite knowing that I could go into labor at any time. It's almost like I want to drive with no cash, no map, no cell phone and a low fuel light on just because it may be the last time in my life I can get away with it. Jim insists I get some gas in the Volvo tomorrow. Okay, fine!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bad parenting 101

Here's a quote from a parenting magazine I was browsing through today:

"If I don't have time to feed my one year old, I just give her a scoop of cottage cheese in a mini ice cream cone."

WHAT?? If you don't have time to feed your one year old, you probably shouldn't have had children in the first place.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Our lucky day

It turns out that Jim and my lucky day just happens to be Friday the 13th. Lucky for me, him and all who know him, he was born on a Friday the 13th in 1973. And as recent events have unfolded, Friday the 13th turned out to be an exceptionally lucky day for us.

Let me explain:

On Friday, Oct. 13th, five days before he was to start as an executive chef for a retirement community in North Raleigh, Jim interviewed for a chef manager position at a corporate dining facility in Research Triangle Park. From there, things moved exceptionally quickly (especially considering it took more than two weeks for the North Raleigh job to come through.) On Saturday, the man he met Friday called to set up an interview with a few more people. On Monday, he interviewed with some higher ups. By the end of that meeting, they told him they wanted to offer him the job. On Tuesday, one day before he was to start his job in North Raleigh, they offered him the job. So now, he had two jobs. Boy, the quality of our "problems" just keeps getting better! He called the man he was to start work for the very next morning and declined the job.

Now, this is the job that he and I have been hoping and praying would come along for quite some time. Great hours, better pay, fantastic company (Aramark), little to no weekend work and when he leaves for the day, the kitchen is closed (read: NO PHONE CALLS TO COME IN AND COVER SHIFTS). The company is investing a lot of time and training in him before the account opens in mid to late November.

With the baby coming, this is a big relief for both of us. Not only is this a big pay raise and an excellent career move, the schedule and location is very compatible with family life. The hours are compatible with my work schedule so we don't have to pay for or worry about child care, and he will be working about 6 miles from home. He may even be able to ride his bike to work.

Another benefit of this turn of events? Jim got an unexpected and much needed week off from work. It was great to have him home. He spent a lot of time in the kitchen practice cooking and was able to put a bunch of meals in the freezer for when the baby comes. Ah, the benefits of being married to a chef! I love it!

I can't wait until the next Friday the 13th rolls around.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's a Daoust thing

The neat thing about having a spouse is that they often pick up on quirks that you didn't even know you had. For the past month, my younger brother, Timmy, has been living with us. So now, my husband has not one, but two Daousts to observe.

The other day Jim asked if anyone in my family ever actually sat in chairs after noticing that my brother and I often just dump our belongings onto the nearest chair. Other quirks? We both leave unfinished glasses of water all over the house and leave the kitchen cabinet doors open (despite both of us having cracked our heads repeatedly on these doors). Another weird thing? Most people enjoy reading a good book, the newspaper or a magazine. Timmy and I? We love to read cookbooks.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't say eclair around a pregnant woman

Last night, I had my first intense craving. I'm almost nine months pregnant and really haven't had any intense cravings, just some mild cravings for sushi and mexican food and cucumbers and cottage cheese and big salads and grilled cheese and tomato soup and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then there was that night in Ocean City when I had to have a hamburger and almost had a meltdown in the restaurant when they didn't have hamburgers ... okay, well maybe I have had some cravings. But last night, for the first time, I went WAY out of my way to get exactly what I wanted.

Jim made the mistake of mentioning a really good eclair he had at a coffee shop in Durham. Bingo! So we stopped by this shop on our way to someplace else and they didn't have eclairs. Jim honestly thought we could go our merry way without fulfilling this quest. Rookie father-to-be mistake -- I'll cut him some slack. We drove to our intended destination and I remembered that Mad Hatter bakery was nearby and asked Jim to drive there. He didn't feel like it ... WHAT????? So I dropped him off and drove there myself.

I found large scrumptious eclairs at Mad Hatter bakery and probably the worst customer service I've EVER experienced. I let them know it, too. A little digression ... they had a customer comments box with a pen attached to it, but no paper anywhere in sight. Who do they think they're fooling? I found some paper and wrote them a sweet little note.

Moral of the story: Don't say eclair around a pregnant woman and expect her to drop it. She won't -- until she's downing a nice, big creamy, chocolaty eclair.

Right now, my husband, Chef Jim, is in the kitchen making a big batch of eclairs.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Pregnancy Surcharge

Tonight I went to the drugstore in search of some cocoa butter lotion for my stretched out, itchy, burning tummy. I found the assortment of cocoa butter lotions ... on the bottom shelf. Hello?? Pregnant lady here ... if I have to bend or squat it's not so easy getting back up these days. Could they make this any more annoying?

As a matter of fact, they could and did. Cocoa butter lotion specifically for stretch marks on pregnant bellies cost $5.99 and cocoa butter wasn't even a main ingredient. The third ingredient was cocoa butter seed extract. So I searched around a bit more and found a $.99 4 oz. tub of cocoa butter lotion that actually had cocoa butter as the second ingredient.

The other product I've been searching for is some sort of suspender or belly belt to help keep my pants from falling off my non-existent waist. At the maternity store they wanted to sell me a belly belt that looks like a tube top for $22. Yeah, right ... why not just get some sock suspenders and attach them to the top of my pants and the bottom of my bra? In fact, there is a product that will do this ( and costs $13 for a pair. This is basically just suspender clips - available at any fabric store for $1.50 a pair - plus some 3/4" elastic. Any idiot can put these together for less than half what this Belly Up company is charging.

Any product with the word pregnancy slapped on it seems to be subject to a surcharge.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Why didn't anyone tell me ...

... that when pregnant:

  • I'd get at least a quarter of my exercise running to and from the bathroom because my son is now doing a headstand on my bladder.

  • I'd get at least another quarter of my exercise pulling up my pants because my waist and my hips are the same width.

  • It would feel better to exercise than not.

  • My entire pelvis would be so sore some days that it would feel like I'd been riding a horse all day long.

  • My belly would feel bruised from the baby kicking me.

  • I would spend at least an hour total each day just watching my belly move.

And can someone please reassure me that my esophagus is NOT going to burst into flames one of these days?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's not Harry Potter's fault

A mother of four from the Atlanta area is asking the Georgia Board of Education to ban the Harry Potter series because it promotes evil and fosters a culture where school shootings happen. Her solution?

Students should instead read the Bible.

Now, besides the obvious separation of church and state issue here, another obvious question arises. How much violence has been associated with the religions since the dawn of mankind? And is it not such closed-mindedness displayed by this woman that is at the root of much of the violence and ignorance we see today and have seen for centuries?

A few illustrations (recent and historic):

  • 19 hijackers claiming allegiance to Allah and Islam crash into buildings to punish people for not worshipping their way.

  • Members of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas protest at the funerals of Iraq war soldiers to show that God is punishing America for homosexuality.

  • Eric Rudolph bombs abortion clinics killing doctors, nurses and others because God is against the killing of unborn children.

  • The Catholic church tortures non-believers during the Spanish Inquisition. (As Jon Stewart so eloquently noted in a recent broadcast "The Catholic church regrets that so many non-believers were so flammable.")

  • The Crusades kill millions in an effort to spread the love of Christ. And Islam is no better -- their holy book advocates spreading their beliefs by the sword.

Could it be that the current wave of violence is provoked not by Harry Potter or any other "secular" missives but by the close-mindedness of religions worldwide that seek to force their particular brand of "goodness" on the world?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Practical math

A word problem:

To make your own baking powder, you need two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda. If you need 5 tablespoons of baking powder, how many teaspoons each of cream of tartar and baking soda do you need?

Furthermore, if you drove 9 miles roundtrip to the grocery store to buy a $1.19 can of baking powder in a car that gets 22 miles to the gallon and gas costs $2.50 a gallon, how much money have you saved by solving the first word problem?

See, these are the kind of math problems that are useful. With the price of gas being what it is (and I believe this current drop in prices is going to last until about five minutes after the polls close on Election Day), I try to figure out the second half of the above word problem on a daily basis.

Oh, here's the answer ...

  • 5 teaspoons of baking soda to 10 teaspoons of cream of tartar

  • Money saved: $2.29 (cost of the gas was 1.02, baking powder $1.19 plus .08 tax.)

Of course, my husband spend that money on a cup of Starbucks coffee and an Almond Joy the very same day!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Little known pregnancy fact ...

If you try to put your pants or socks on while standing up, you could tip over. Don't laugh, it almost happened to me yesterday.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How to get a man to eat fruit

  • Step 1. Clean out the refrigerator so that it is free of clutter.

  • Step 2. Put all fruit in clear plastic or glass containers in front of everything else. Important note: DO NOT, under any circumstances, put the fruit in the draws specifically for fruit in your refrigerator. He will never find it and it will rot.

  • Step 3. Any fruit that can be left out on the counter should be put in an attractive bowl, neatly arranged and in plain sight.

Tonight, my husband pulled out the bowl of grapes (in a clear glass bowl) and munched on them while watching television. Amazing. I've been trying to get him to eat fruit on a regular basis for at least four years. As my father often says, his world is only one row deep. So, remember, if they can't see it, it doesn't exist in their world.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thrust into the Dark Ages

I've had a scary day.

My computer crapped out and left me without Internet all day long. Then I went to make bread in my breadmaker and that crapped out on me, too. I managed to actually make two loaves of bread from scratch this afternoon, but restoring the computer and the Internet took considerably more effort, gnashing of teeth, several cursing fits and a few broken pencils. My poor husband finally fled the family room to get away from the very angry pregnant woman. And apparently, the baby doesn't like it when I'm angry, either. He's been elbowing me for about a half hour.

All in all, I've decided that making bread from scratch is much more relaxing that trying to restore my connection to the outside world. Something about kneading and punching the dough is very satisfying.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

That's one magic mole ...

A gem of a quote in the News & Observer from Dr. Tom Andrus, a dermatologist in Raleigh, on skin cancer:

"Everybody's heard of the guy who has a mole and wakes up dead at Christmas."

It's the magic Christmas mole! We should all be so lucky. Too bad you can't edit quotes ... oh, how I'd love to sometimes.

Friday, August 11, 2006

That pregnant glow

Ever wonder why some pregnant women just seem to glow? Let me tell you ... it's a thin sheen of sweat. Yes, I know, most of you are hot, it being the middle of a muggy summer and all. But my body temperature is about a degree and half higher than normal. Last night, I stuck my head in the freezer. If I could have, I would have crawled right in. Wednesday night I sat in my underwear under two ceiling fans eating ice cream and drinking ice water. Next, I think I'm going to immerse myself in a bucket of icy cold water. Maybe I'll just visit my husband at work and spend some time in his walk-in fridge and freezer.

Speaking of which, our vacation was wonderful. We got back Saturday night from spending a week on the Maryland seashore. Most of the time, we were on Assateague Island visiting with Jim's family from NY and MD. The ocean water was ice cold and it felt great. But by the end of the week, the horseflies were unbearable. The last day we actually ate our lunch in the ocean to avoid being swarmed by flies. There were horses everywhere, even on the beach. They even got into the occean.

We also visited with our old friends Howdy and Cecelia, whose place we stayed at in Ocean City. It had air conditioning, an absolute must for a pregnant womean! I've posted a few photos below from last vacation without children. Enjoy!

The horses are friendly and curious on Assateague!

Move along horsie ...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Capt. Stuebing 1997 - 2006

On Friday we made the difficult decision to put our 9-year-old cat Capt. Stuebing to sleep. I was fortunate enough to find a veterinarian who does house calls exclusively. This allowed Stu to die at home, in comfortable, familiar and loving surroundings instead of after a car ride to a sterile, unfamiliar veterinarian's office.

You can read more about Stu's diagnosis and his story in earlier posts. I am too emotionally spent to talk any more about this, but if you have any special memories of Stu, feel free to post them.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

After you, dear, I insist.

So, it's 1:30 in the morning and I'm sleepless, hot and having so-called round ligament pains which feel more like torture.

Speaking of torture, I'm watching Bob the dog and his "wife" Smuggles the cat sit nose to nose three inches from each other stalking some sort of bug on our living room floor. Now, none of them, the bug included, make any sudden moves. Bob and Smuggles eye each other as if to say "You first" ... "Oh no, you go ahead." Smuggles then tentatively paws the bug, the bug plays dead and Bob nudges it with his nose. The bug then moves a few inches and the whole process repeats itself as the trio works its way across the living room floor.

Watching this little drama is almost better than playing Solitaire.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Caution: Church Van

I saw these words on the back of a church van the other day and wondered what exactly they meant. Here are a few ideas:

  • Caution, we may try to convert you.

  • Caution, we don't want you hethens to corrupt us.

  • Caution, we don't want to get into an accident and die.

If the last idea is their meaning, why should they consider themselves any more special than anyone else driving on the road? We're all deserve to drive in safety.
How about this for a sign:

Caution: Human beings on board.

And, besides, I thought that they all wanted to go to heaven? If they died in a car accident, I'd think it would be a blessing for them. Maybe the sign should read Please hit us, we want to see Jesus.

Any other thoughts on this bizarre warning, feel free to add them.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hell hath no fury ...

... like that of a pregnant woman made to wait more than an hour for a 10-minute face-to-face with a doctor who rushes her through an appointment.

Honestly, this is the most anxious and furious I have been since I've been pregnant. It's probably no coincidence then that the baby kicked me for the first time yesterday when the nurse was trying to find him (or her) with the fetal monitor. I guess he (or she) knew that mommy didn't like the nurse too much.

On Monday, Jim and I began our childbirth classes. We are using the Bradley method, which focuses on nutrition and exercise during pregnancy and learning relaxation tools to use in labor. We want as few doctor interventions as possible. When I asked the doctor if nurses at the birth center are familiar with the method, he said it depends on the nurse.

I've called a birth center in Chapel Hill to arrange to transfer my care. This birth center is run by women and it's very clear upfront about its philosophy (which happens to be my philosophy). They also have BIG whirpool tubs and they let you go home a few hours after the birth. It's really a no brainer. I should have gone to Chapel Hill in the first place.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Jim vs. the washing machine

Last week, our washing machine began leaking. So instead of throwing in the towel (no pun intended) and buying a new washing machine, Jim took on the machine. Turned out it was just a leaking duct. Here's how he fixed it:

1/2 tube of superglue Fix-All
1/2 roll of heavy duty tape
8 hours over two days of sweaty, washing machine wrestling

Caution: Skill in close combat is essential as you may be wrestling with a machine at least twice your weight in a small enclosed space.

Jim basically took the back side of the machine apart, fixed the leaking duct and put it back together. Voila! Now it works again! Thank goodness, because with our little laundrymaker due in November, we really can't afford a broken washing machine.

Money saved: about $500.

Feel free to try this at home.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Damn that Mr. Rogers

This morning I was watching the end of Sesame Street, eating cereal and trying my hardest not to puke. And then Mr. Rogers came on. (No, he didn't make me puke.)

I haven't seen Mr. Rogers in years. And lucky me, today's topic was about pets who have died. And Mr. Rogers held up a picture of his (dead, I assume) cat, Sybil. He said, in that soothing, everything's-going-to-be-okay voice, "I'm sure glad that I got to be her friend for all those years."

So I burst into tears. If our kitty wasn't sick, I may have burst into tears anyhow, just because I'm pregnant and cry when I can't open a jar of salsa. This was really sad, but I was able to laugh at myself at the same time.

My buddy Stu has had quite a life. For those who don't know the saga of Stu, it goes like this:

In the summer of 1997, my sis and I were taking a road trip to New York. It was the last time Jax and I spent together as sisters before she got married that fall. We stopped for gas and cash (in those days, I thought nothing of traveling with no cash and no map) at the North Carolina border on I-95. As I walked into the store, a little orange kitten with enormous ears popped his head out the trash can and cried at me. I looked back at my sister and asked, "Should we keep him?" I don't remember what she said, but a few minutes later we were back on the road with a squawking kitten in the car. He endured the road trip with us and made it back to North Carolina.

Jax was going to keep him, but she was living at home. My mother grew tired of the boisterous kitten and soon he was on a plane to New York, where I had moved that fall. Since then, he has moved with me at least nine times, three of those times being interstate moves. He's been on an airplane, in a car more times than I can count and in numerous hotel rooms. He's lived with three other cats and two dogs. He's killed his share of birds, moles, rabbits, lizards and various insects. He's been with me through many boyfriends although Jimmy is the only one he's ever really liked (and that's one of the reasons I married him, HA!).

Stu has been with me through a period of my life that has seen the most change. At times, being responsible for him was the only thing that kept me from going off the deep end (and those of you who know me know what that means). He's had a good life and he's been a good friend.

I really hate to think he might not be part of the family when the baby comes. But I'm with Mr. Rogers on this one: I'm sure glad I got to be his friend all these years.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A diaper and a boob

With my energy level returning, I thought it would be the perfect time to make a list of what this little one will need. Let me just say, I want to avoid having my house taken over by baby gear. Sure, the parents among you are laughing. Stop it ... you were probably once this idealistic.

So a girlfriend loaned me a copy of Baby Bargains. The book rates all possible baby products telling you what you really need and what you can do without, what the best products are and the price ranges. From here, I made a list, put it in a spreadsheet (stop laughing. I LOVE Excel.) with columns for brand preferences and prices and whether it was something we should buy, borrow or register for.

Then I had a mental meltdown the first time I actually saw a crib in a store. It was rickety, the wood was too shiny and I couldn't get the side rail down. Then there's the bassinet that my sister loaned me. It's mocking me. I struggled to put it together and it too feels rickety. Thinking about strollers makes me twitch. Most of them are made to collapse for easy storage, but that fact makes me pretty uneasy. I have visions of the stroller collapsing with the baby in it.

I took a little break from baby gear browsing. It was making my head hurt. I looked around my house and wondered where I will put all this stuff "they" say I need. Then I remembered what a woman once said at a baby shower.

"All you really need when you have a baby is a diaper and a boob." Well said. But I think I still want a crib.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What is the greatest threat to our freedom?

People often talk about freedom, what it means and who exactly is protecting or threatening it, especially on Memorial Day during a time of war. I greatly appreciate the sacrifices our military makes on behalf of us all. The War on Terror fought in Afghanistan and Iraq is being fought for our safety and security here at home. Those wars are being fought to ensure the freedom of others. Our enemies are not trying to take away our rights, they are trying to take away our life and security.

But being the linguistic person that I am, I do wonder how exactly those sacrifices are protecting our freedom - as our current administration is fond of saying. Do we believe that militias of armed Muslim extremist will force our women into burquas and our families into mosques? Do we really think that our government will be overthrown? (Well, maybe it should, but I'll save that for another post.)

The military protects only our right to live in safety and security. Safety and security are subset of the concept of freedom overall. So, I have to ask, whose protecting our other freedoms? Certainly not our government.

Whose protecting our private property rights? Certainly not the Supreme Court, which decided that the rights of private development can trump property owners when it will benefit the tax base. That should make every property owner in America tremble.

Whose protecting the right of parents to educate their children in the manner they see fit? Certainly not the government which insists on compulsory government schooling or some other form of education that it deems fit. Here they have trumped a parent's right to determine what a proper education is.

Whose protecting my right to use any herbal remedy, including marijuana, that I see fit? Certainly not the government which insists that herbs used safely for centuries and proven less harmful than some legal substances should remain illegal.

And just who is our government protecting? The rights and interests of corporate America and itself. It is protecting its own right to extort our money and educate our children to preserve its own power. It is protecting the rights of corporate America to ensure the re-election of politicians who will do their bidding. At this point, expecting the government to protect our rights is like expecting the fox to guard the hen house.

Last week, I heard someone say that we should thank the government for giving us the rights we have. This is backward thinking. It is not government that gives us rights. Our Declaration of Independence says that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights ... by our Creator.

When I reread this document recently, it struck me that our founding fathers believed that government was not an absolute power, that it can and should be abolished if it becomes destructive. They believed government was not the endower of rights, but a guarantor of the rights with which people are born. The founders of this country instituted this government to protect the rights with which we were born. The government does not allow us to have rights. We have designated our government to protect our rights. And when people begin to think this way again, I wonder just how much our government will be able to get away with.

The bottom line: It is our responsibility to protect our own rights from encroachment by our government. Our Declaration of Independence puts it squarely on us. That's why it's imperative that we keep a watchful eye on what our government is doing in our name. That's why a free press is crucial. That's why its important to vote. Too bad our children aren't learning that in the government reeducation camps.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Missing: One waist, fat from my legs and butt

If anyone sees these items, let me know. Actually, I think the missing fat from my legs and butt has shifted to my waist. And I haven't gained an ounce, yet.
I'm still puking. In fact, this morning, I was puking into the garbage disposal and my husband is so used to this that he just silently worked around me in the kitchen.

I'm not sleeping quite as much. Too bad. I really enjoyed sleeping 12 hours a day. Another unpleasant side effect? The pressure from my growing abdomen is pushing on a nerve and making my left leg numb. So ... the baby is literally getting on my nerves. I'm sure it won't be the last time.

Welcome to my fourth month of pregnancy!

It's starting to sink in that we are having a baby. We are now staring down our last summer without children. Saturday, we took off for the lake on a moments notice. Definitely something we can't do with a baby. I predict a very spontaneous summer ahead.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bad news, good news, bad news

The bad news: Captain Stu does have cancer. His biopsy came back showing that he has a rare form of cancer in his spleen.

The good news: It doesn't appear to have spread at this point and he is a good candidate for surgery to remove the spleen. Post-op, he can live anywhere from three months to three years. What we want to avoid is another internal bleeding episode.

The bad news: I have to convince the vet that all we want is a splenectomy and endure the litany of procedures and regimens that they will inevitably try to pressure us into.

You know, I'm starting to really resent veterinarians who use pressure tactics to drive up the cost of care, especially when your pet is in a medical crisis. The bottom line for us is this:

Yes, we care about our little guy. If he is going to die of cancer, we want him to be as comfortable as possible and have a good quality of life for the remainder of his time with our family. We already know what we are willing to do for him. I don't want a battery of tests run so that you can give me options that I'm not interested in. I'm not springing for chemotherapy for a cat, precious to me as he may be.

Tomorrow, I'll be talking to an oncologist and a surgeon about our next steps.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stu, the wet food fiend

Stu had an ultrasound today which showed that his spleen, and thankfully only his spleen, is rife with little growths or tumors. We are awaiting the results of a biopsy on the spleen to see just what these growths are.

Meanwhile, his belly has been shaved. And he is still a little dopey from the sedative they gave him for biopsy. And he's stalking us, begging for wet food. I'm afraid he's going to attack us.

We'll know tomorrow what the biopsy shows, but the bottom line is that we want his spleen to be taken out. Cats apparently do very well with abdominal surgery and can live without their spleens.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Rumors of Stu's demise

Our nine-year-old cat, Captain Stuebing, appeared to be on death's door this past weekend. After noticing Friday morning that he was not quite himself ... rather lethargic, for a cat ... I took him to the vet. She diagnosed him as severely anemic with a mass around his spleen that could be a tumor. I was advised to take him to the Small Animal Emergency Room for an ultrasound. He made it through Friday night on pain medication, but still very obviously in pain. On Saturday, I took him to the kitty ER.

Their diagnosis was the same, but to do the ultrasound, they wanted to check him into the hospital ... at a cost of about $3,000. I asked her for pain medication (for the cat) and took him home, fully expecting him to not live through the weekend. They told us he was likely bleeding internally.

We made him comfortable on an electric blanket (his body temperature was dropping) and gave him pain medication. By Saturday night, he had started to perk up. By Sunday, he was himself again ... and by that, I mean, swatting at the dog, begging for wet food, smacking our other cat around and perching himself on my now-very-sensitive belly and chest. The vet thinks that his tumor stopped bleeding and he reabsorbed a lot of the blood he lost over the weekend. But we're by no means out of the woods. He will probably start bleeding internally again soon.

We're having some tests run early next week. Our vet gave us a much more reasonable price to figure out what's exactly wrong ... $600 v. $3000 ... hmmmm. I wish she had given us that option before we took him to the kitty ER.

The prognosis:

If it's a tumor that can be removed along with his spleen, he has a good chance of living for several more years until the cancer catches up to him ... if it is indeed a cancerous tumor.

So, rumors of Stu's demise are premature, if not exaggerated.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It's been a long time

I know, I'm a very bad blogger. But I have an excuse. I've been busy growing one of these ... and by that I mean, sleeping 12 hours a day, and puking, eating and going to the bathroom the rest of the time.

I started a new blog, just so I could post photos. Normally, I'm not a photo posting kind of person. But now we have something other than pets and home construction projects to photograph. I cried when I saw the sonogram. I'd had nightmares that we'd have the sonogram and they wouldn't find anything.

We found out we were pregnant on Good Friday. And I say "we" because "we" are both having a baby. I just happen to be growing it. After two years of trying to get pregnant, I was extremely relunctant to take a pregnancy test. We've been disappointed before. But three weeks overdue on the monthly bill is hard to ignore. So I took the test, and brought it down to show my husband. His reaction? "D'uh. What did you think was going on?" Of course, he is thrilled and so am I. We've waited a long time for this and we are grateful to those who have kept us in their thoughts and prayers.

We are due on November 30 and we will find out the baby's gender by the end of June. We'll keep you posted.