December 27, 2011

Spontaneous life-changing decisions

(I'm going to ignore the fact that I haven't posted anything for more than a month. I'm already thoroughly disappointed in myself that I haven't used this blog as a way to document my pregnancy. But work is crazy, the holidays are nuts -- you all get it, right? Sigh. OK, moving on.)

When we found out we were expecting, after we did the whole "OMG!" tearful hug, dance-around-the-room, "I can't believe we're going to be mama and daddy!" thing, T and I had a serious talk.

Decisions needed to be made.

Where would the baby's room go?

Breast milk or formula?

Which college football team will this baby be forced to root for?

You know. The really important stuff.

And somewhere in and around deciding that, although we're not planning to force our child to love the University of Virginia like Daddy, we are NOT raising an Ohio State fan, we decided we were not going to find out the gender.

"There are so few true surprises in life," T said convincingly, as I was kind of wavering back and forth. "You know: We're in the delivery room. You're screaming. I'm telling you to suck it up. And the doctor says -- OW."

(At this point I hit him. Obviously.)

His point, among the sarcasm: That moment, when the doctor says "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!" is one of the only real surprises left in life. Why would we want to deprive ourselves of that?

It made sense.

So. It was settled. We informed everyone of this decision shortly after announcing Baby G's impending birth, and were met with mixed reactions. Most folks were excited about our more traditional approach; our parents were annoyed they had to wait to buy gender-appropriate toys and booties.

But really, it didn't change much from our perspective. I'm not a fan of pink, so the nursery was always going to be blue, anyway. Our son would have stuffed animals; our daughter would learn to play catch. This was not the end of the world.

During our 20-week ultrasound, everything went as planned. We confidently answered "No!" when the ultrasound tech asked if we wanted to know the gender, and we got to see Squirmy doing his happy, squirmy thing on screen all the same. All was well. When the tech informed us that our child was stubborn (SHOCKER) and didn't want to show his/her face, meaning we'd need a follow-up ultrasound in a few weeks to get those measurements, we didn't bat an eye. Easy peasy.

When that 22-week ultrasound rolled around, the plan was on track. Goop on the belly, Squirmy squirming, ready to roll.

Except this time, when the (new) tech asked us if we wanted to know the gender, something weird happened.

I looked at T, we made eye contact and said, in unison, "Yes!"

Um, what?

We hadn't discussed this change of plan. Our minds were made up. No one was wavering on the way into the doctor's office.

Apparently 9+ years of marriage means your brains are melded to the point where you make spontaneous, life-changing decisions AT THE SAME TIME.

While we were still reeling from this apparent simultanously 180-degree turn, the ultrasound tech said, casually, "Oh. OK. It's a boy."

...

Just like that.

No big deal.

A boy.

A BOY.

BOY!!

We stared at her in disbelief. (For some reason, we'd both become convinced we were going to have a girl.)

Our shock must have been evident, because she felt she needed to drive the point home by creating this picture, with an arrow conveniently pointing to the evidence at hand (click to enlarge):


(She also wrote it in block letters at the top left, with three exclamation points, in case we STILL hadn't wrapped our brains around it after leaving the office. Smartass.)

I looked at T. He looked at me. We stared at the tech. She snorted. We cried. And grinned. And laughed. And asked, "Are you sure?" about five million times.

(We would have reacted this way if it'd been a girl, too, you know. We are emotional schmoes, regardless of gender.)



**********

So today, as I arrive at 31 weeks (!!) please allow me to scream from the rooftops: WE ARE HAVING A SON!!

We are so incredibly thrilled.

I've been feeling great, aside from some low back pain (this boy -- BOY! -- loves to lay looooow in my belly, and apparently stand on my spine) and massive heartburn (duh) and occasional weepiness-interspersed-with-yelling-for-no-reason (triple duh). The child is moving around all over the place and has perfected the one-two punch maneuver, in addition to the somersault.

Life is good.

I have many other things to share, but this post is long enough. For now, let me leave you with a few more pictures of our boy.

First, a profile shot:



Are you as bad at deciphering ultrasound photos as I am? Here's a labeled version; he's facing left (click to enlarge):



And yes, that's his leg extending straight out over his head in the shot above. He is in this position for every.single.ultrasound. I tell T this means he's going to be a ballet dancer. He prefers to think "kicker for the NFL." :)

Profile shot number two, in which T swears there's a pretzel floating around with the child:



And finally...the bottoms of both of his feet. I mean... COME ON.

November 7, 2011

The tiniest ballerina

As is often the case these days, my niece was at my parents' house when I called last week. At some point during our conversation, my mother or father will inevitably ask her if she wants to talk to "Auntie Shan."

(She calls me Auntie Shan. Not "Shannon" or "Aunt Shannon." "Auntie Shan." HOW CUTE IS THAT?)

And because she is three and has a very short attention span, she will grab the phone and we'll have a very short and mostly one-sided conversation wherein she tells me what she's eating and other three-year-old conversation topics until she's tired of me and she says, "OK, thanks for calling Auntie Shan, bye bye!" and hangs up on me, usually in mid-sentence.

I adore her. :)

The news du jour during our most recent call? "I start dancing, Auntie Shan!" And this time she didn't mean in my parents' kitchen.



Seems our little ball of energy is channeling her inner fire into a ballet class for tiny wee ones at the local health club.

Since she is three and going through the normal orneriness that goes along with that age, it was a toss-up: She'd either be super into it, or she'd be that kid in the corner jumping off a pile of mats while the teacher is leading the rest of the class in a round of plies.

Fortunately, she chose the former.




(They have to wear special outfits and shoes, and wear their hair in buns. Can you even stand the cute?)

No word yet on whether or not my brother is becoming a "Dance Mom." I'm betting it's only a matter of time.

October 17, 2011

Miss Understanding


Our internet service was down all day Saturday.

Because we have internet-based phone service, that was out all day Saturday, too. But since we both have cell phones that worked perfectly well, we weren't really that concerned about it. Plus, we knew we could check our voicemail once the service came back on, AND our phone service offers a voicemail transcript email service as well. We were totally covered.

When the service was restored, we checked our voicemail and listened to this message from Tommy's dad, who was calling from the Virginia Tech football game:


"Hi Tommy, this is your daddy. I'm just giving you a call.


How 'bout those Cavaliers? How 'bout those Hokies?


Talk to you later. Bye, I love you. ...how do I close this thing?"

(That last bit was him figuring out how to hang up the cell phone. Hee.)

And when we received the email transcript of this missed message? Here is what THAT said:


"Hi Tommy, this is your daddy. I'm just giving you a call.


Will you go hear little ears for the oldies?


Talk to you later. Bye, I love you. Supposedly."

Bahahahaaaaaa.

October 5, 2011

Wisdom

I think maybe it comes from being an only child for so long before my brother was born.

I've always been bossy, and I've always known what I wanted.

In first grade, Ms. Yoder asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Every other girl said either "nurse" or "teacher." I said "actress."

When I was 10, my best friend Pam and I wrote out our life plans. (We were extremely ambitious -- or deluded -- for 10 year olds.) They went something like this:
  1. Graduate from college.

  2. Become zoologists or veterinarians. (I'm not convinced we understood that numbers 1 and 2 were related. We just knew we were supposed to go to college for some reason.)

  3. Meet and marry handsome men (professions optional) in a double wedding ceremony (obviously).

  4. Move to Africa, so we could study jungle animals. (We had no idea what this entailed, but I'm pretty sure I was envisioning living in a zoo that someone else would maintain for us while we got to pet the tigers whenever we wanted. That sounds awesome, doesn't it?)

  5. Have kids on the same day (obviously).
And...that's where it ended. Not surprisingly, our life plan closely resembled a fairy tale -- there were no actual details. Our husbands had no discernable qualities other than being handsome and being willing to put up with our propensity for living with elephants, and there was zero concern for what everyday life would be like. Would any of us know how to cook? Who would pay us to do this ridiculous job? Who cares? Wheee!! Let's go play Barbies now.


**********************************************************

My life today? It's not a fairy tale.

We live in Ohio.

There are no tigers.

I write for a living instead of gracing the stage on Broadway or living a constant African safari.

My husband is handsome, but that's where his resemblance to my 10-year-old fantasy husband ends.

Our life is so much better than I was ever even able to dream it.

About 10 years and two months ago, my now-husband took my hand and led me into the bedroom of the house we'd just purchased together.

With a tell-tale small white box in his hand, he got down on one knee and said, "Baby, I just want to ask you one question." As I gasped and started getting teary, he looked up at me and continued, "Would accept these earrings for your birthday, and then help me up off the floor? My knee hurts."

Sneaky and mean. I forgot to put that on my list of husband pre-requisites.

10 years ago today, he got down on one knee again, with another white box in his hand, and he asked me for real. He claims I took forever to answer. I was just making sure there was actually a ring in there this time.

And then, exactly one year later, we did this:




And although we of course had plans for our life together, I don't think I ever really thought about what day-to-day life would be like.

How much football there would be.

How little cooking I would do.

How many times we'd argue.

How much hard stuff we'd have to endure and work through and somehow come out on the other side of.

And how not once, not even once, would I consider my life with anyone else.


**********************************************************

When I think about the last nine years, I cannot believe we're the same two people in those pictures up there.

Together, we have grown calmer. We have gotten saner. We have weathered anger and sorrow and boredom and hilarity.

We have grown up. We have grown together. We have become SO MUCH BETTER.

This husband of mine...I wish I could adequately explain how special he is. Not many people know him the way I do; he's quiet and keeps to himself quite a bit, and he saves the best parts of himself for those who know him best.

I could write paragraphs and pages about the times he's built me up when I felt completely worthless, and the times he's held me as I cried and felt utterly hopeless. About how his faith has saved me (and us) more times than I can count. About his amazing, unfaltering belief in me that leaves me staggered and awed.

All those things are true.

But I'd rather tell you about this morning, when he woke me up at 5 a.m. to watch me read a note he'd written for our anniversary, watching me, eyes smiling as I got to the parts that made me laugh uncontrollably. (It takes a lot to make me belly laugh when I can barely see out of both eyes.)

This man wrote me three pages explaining how much he loves the "mundanity" of our lives. The way I never let him finish singing a song. The way I constantly drop food on my boobs. The way I spend days in my pajama pants that say "Big Money" all over them.

The fact that, in just five and a half months, we'll be calling ourselves Mama and Daddy. (Oh...I cannot tell you how just the thought of that makes me just shiver. And cry. Both in a good way.)

This man, this man I married. Our marriage. It's imperfect and weird and often smelly and mostly loud and occasionally rocky and sometimes so calm it might look completely boring.

I love it and him so much I feel my heart is exploding. (Probably all over my boobs.)


**********************************************************

There's no way to adequately say how much, but baby: I love you. This year is going to be epic and scary and insane and sleep-deprived. I cannot wait to do it all with you.

Happy anniversary.

September 26, 2011

Weeks 15-17: STAY OUT OF MY PREGNANT WAY. (And good stuff, too.)



Want the whole baby scoop? See all previous posts here.


******************


First things first: It's been a few weeks since I last posted, let alone gave some kind of baby update. You know. Life. Work. Lots and lots of work. My day job is rewarding but demanding, and it's been especially demanding of late. Something has to give, and unfortunately, this blog is usually the first thing to go. It cannot be helped. I'm sorry. (And also sorry that, as a result, this post will be kind of long.)

And that's about all the apologizing you'll get out of me because the theme for the last few weeks has been Laugh Cry About Nothing Yell About Something Stupid PREGNANT SHANNON SMASH Cry More Laugh Hysterically Rinse Lather Repeat.

In other words: Moody.

OK, let's just say it: BITCHY.

My husband looooooooooves this part of pregnancy.

:)

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't aware of it; I am. But to some extent it feels like I just can't...control it? To me, it feels like PMS turned up to 11. In any case, I am on the verge of tears and/or yelling all.the.time and it is super fun for all of us.

However, physically? I'm feeling really, really...good! So good, in fact, that it's been a little unnerving. I commented to my mother a week or so ago that I kind of miss the nausea and constant exhaustion because at least that let me know stuff was happening. Then that mostly went away, and I felt mostly normal (well, except for the aforementioned Exorcist Bitchfacedness), and I kind of missed it.

(Only I could find a way to complain about NOT feeling like I'm going to puke. Therapy, I need it.)

Only physical complaint: I've now hit the inevitable point where I need to pee every 5.3 seconds. As Two Pretzels will tell you, I find this INCREDIBLY annoying. (I hate stopping what I'm doing to pee; I don't like to be interrupted.)

All right. Enough about the (very inconsequential) negative. On to the positive!

I AM FEELING THE BABY MOVE.

This actually started around the end of Week 14. It felt like something was tickling me from the inside. My thoughts:
  • There is absolutely no way I'm feeling the baby move this early.

  • I'm a big girl; big girls don't feel movement this early.

  • I just have really weird gas.

When I had that really weird gas around the same times every day for a week and a half, I finally gave in and accepted that either A) I am the gassiest human being on the planet (still debatable) or B) OMG I AM FEELING THE BABY MOVE.

Allow me to state the obvious and say this is The Coolest Thing Ever, and knowing that it will only get stronger and cooler is, well, really really cool.
(The baby has stolen my vocabulary, apparently. And my thesaurus. Sticky in-utero fingers.)

For me, this is making the pregnancy seem really, truly real. There is a person in there, and he or she is tickling me. Well, more likely punching me, but his or her fists are teeny-weeny, so it's more like fist smashes, but from a tiny soft angel. Angel Smashes. Yes.

And speaking of teeny-weeny, since we last spoke, Angel Smash has breezed right past the navel orange and avocado and is now the size of...an onion! Although you must picture an onion that's about five or so inches long, which, to me, seems like an awfully big onion. But whatever.

Allow me a moment for reflection: I cannot believe we're almost halfway there. It seems like a dream. On one hand, it feels like we've known about this pregnancy FOREVER (T asks me daily, "Is it time for the baby to be born YET?" We're excited). On the other hand, there's still SO much to do, that I'm actually happy we still have 5.5 months to go.

Thankfully (happily, gratefully), I'm now on vacation, so we'll be doing a lot of things over the next two weeks:
  • Clearing out the eventual nursery (which is now, as my mother puts it, our "Employees Only" room

  • Checking out childcare options in our area

  • Finding out what kind of classes are available at the hospital we're using

  • Figuring out what furniture and other big items we need

  • Registering for baby stuff

  • Talking about names (but still not sharing any, so don't get excited)

  • NOT finding out the gender

We do have our 20-week ultrasound next Friday (not quite 20 weeks, but close, and I'll be across the country during week 20), and I can't wait to see Kicky Magoo again. I don't even care that I'll have to turn away at some point: I just love seeing him or her thriving in there. It will never get old.

Next week, I'll give you my lament about finding maternity clothes for the, um, more voluptuous expectant mother. Hint: You should really like looking as if you're on safari. At least that's what clothes manufacturers seem to think.

September 8, 2011

Entertain me.


I don't have an iPad.

But my generous little brother is lending me his for a few upcoming business trips, so I can see how I dig it.

So, here's what I need from you experienced 'padders:

  • Which (preferably free) apps will keep me entertained on a six-hour flight to Seattle?


  • Which are your favorites?


  • Which ones are waaaaay over-hyped and not worth the time/money?

I like doodley-type apps, puzzle-type games, simple games like Angry Birds (which I do already have), word games, etc. But, I'm willing to give pretty much anything a look if you think it's a must-have.

Clue me in!

September 6, 2011

Baby Q&A: Week 14


Want the whole baby scoop? See all previous posts here.


******************


So, this week's theme is thus:


No, our child is not forming a People's Justice League from within the womb (although that would be kind of awesome). He or she (according to "What to Expect When You're Expecting," that is) is now, in Week 14, about the size of a clenched fist.

I shared this factoid with T the other day, and we both were rather freaked out that our baby is still so tiny. Even though I'm not really showing yet, we still forget often how teeny-weeny he or she really still is. For whatever reason, we just envision our bambino as a full-term newborn and it kind of flips us out to remember we're still dealing with someone who's just a few inches long.

So, how are you feeling about pregnancy in this, the 14th week?
Honestly? It's still a little weird. Since I'm not showing, really, and I can't feel movement yet, it often feels a little like, "Helloooooo, baby...anyone in there?" I told T it almost feels like the baby lives in the ultrasound machine, and we have to go to the doctor's office to visit him or her. :)

Does this mean your nausea and extreme exhaustion is waning?
Why, yes -- yes it does. I still have my moments with both -- vegetables still kind of gross me out -- but for the most part, my appetite has returned to normal, and I can go most days without a nap.

The biggest difference I'm noticing as I head into the second trimester is that I'm no longer just eating because I know I have to; I'm actually eating because things sound and taste good again. This is both good and bad: I'm finding it harder to eat what I should because I'm craving starchy snacky food. I think this'll be my biggest challenge in the foreseeable future.

Um, are you at least taking a multi-vitamin so your baby has things like feet and brain cells?
YES, smarty-pants. I'm not completely ignorant to the ways of nutrition. And I am trying really hard to get a balanced diet full of fruits and veggies and Omega-3s and whatnot. I just have a day here and there where all I want is Captain Crunch cereal. BACK OFF.

O...kay. This may be a good time to ask if you're experiencing any of the famed pregnancy moodiness of late?
What? I'm sorry, I was over here crying and couldn't hear your question.

So...yeah. I am finding myself rather moody (or, as T so lovingly says, "moodier than usual"). About twice a week (and sometimes more), I'll find myself totally bummed out about something, real or imagined (often the latter), and will be utterly inconsolable for an hour or so. T, bless him, is learning how to navigate these mood swings -- namely, to hug me, pat me on the back and say, "I know, baby. But it'll be OK."

(He is less good at navigating my sudden outbursts of groundless anger that I, naturally, direct right at him. Well, why DID he load the dishwasher THAT WAY, anyway?! I mean, really.)

How are the dogs handling all of this? Do they know you're pregnant?
Mmm...not really. As I've told a few people, our dogs are far too self-involved to notice. We're not seeing any overprotectiveness or gentleness that I've heard others talk about. Essentially they just want to make sure they get fed, and occasionally they will deign to snuggle with me, but no more than usual. It'll be interesting to see if this changes in the next six months.

Have you told folks at work yet?
Yes -- unfortunately I had to clue them in quite early, as I had to travel for work in my 8th week and I knew it would affect things somewhat. I have two more out-of-town trips planned for my fifth month (with my doctors' full OK, of course), so I'm glad my co-workers can be in the loop and understand when I want to crash at the hotel after work vs. whooping it up at happy hour. (And they do; I have awesome co-workers.)

OK, last question: What's the best piece of advice you've received so far?
Hands down: Just relax. Relax and enjoy pregnancy for what it is, whatever it is for you. Don't worry too much about everyone else's advice, listen to your doctor, do what feels right for you. I am trying to take all of this to heart and not stress out, although it's hard (I am a fretter by nature).

More to come!

September 1, 2011

Exaggerated crises


Our air conditioning is out.

I don't really understand the particulars, but essentially it just keeps running and running and running but no cold air (or any air, period) is coming through the vents.

It needs some serious repair, that much is evident. But we'd decided to "ride it out" since it's basically fall, and we need a host of other more immediate expensive things in preparation for a March baby (including, but not limited to, a new washer, new windows and propane for, y'know, heat for the winter).

The Weather Channel says it is 87 degrees at my house, and it feels like 92. I don't really understand heat indexes (indices?) but my own pregnant ass is telling me that 92 is a joke and it is HOT AS BALLS in my house.

(Note: This is a technical term used by meterologists. Don't look it up. Just trust me.)

So: Windows are open, fan is on, conference calls are being had while I'm sweatin' (although, sadly, not to the oldies). But I FEEL LIKE I'M DYING.

(Am I dying? Most decidedly not. Am I incredibly spoiled because many people who aren't even in third-world countries only get to experience A/C when they go to the supermarket? Most definitely. But I'm hot RIGHT NOW and therefore need a solution.)

Things I am considering to cool off after work:
  • Breaking into the (now closed for the winter -- WHY?!) county pool and having a one-woman pool party until the cops arrest me for trespassing

  • Taking a cold shower and then lying on the bed, spread-eagled and whimpering

  • Whining until someone buys me ice cream and then feeds it to me

  • Constructing a suit out of ice cube-filled Ziploc bags and parading through my neighborhood wearing nothing else

  • Crying, allowing my tears to lower my body temperature

  • Getting the dogs to fan me with palm fronds (will need to invent prosthetic thumbs)

If anyone has less humiliating suggestions (that don't involve telling me to just get over myself, because I know, OK?), please lay 'em on me.

August 31, 2011

We don't forget or leave behind; we grow.





I’ve spent a lot of my adult life defending our relationship with our dogs.

“They aren’t kids, you know.”

"They’re JUST ANIMALS.”

Mmhmm. Thank you, well-meaning friends and relatives.

Listen, I get it. Dogs ≠ children. They can’t take care of us when we’re old, they can’t tell us what they’re thinking, we’ll never watch them grow up and leave the nest and become doctors and lawyers and whatever else.

But, do you know how they are EXACTLY like children?

They’re mischievous, they love to play and they can make a toy out of ANYthing.

They do the craziest things that make us laugh until we pee our pants (sometimes literally).

They poop and puke in the most inconvenient places, at the most inconvenient times.

They put EVERYTHING in their mouths.

They love to snuggle.

They’re completely dependent on us for food, water, shelter, discipline, structure, care and love.

And they somehow know the exact moment we need a quiet, warm presence next to us, comforting us.



****************



This morning (Tuesday), I took Ozzie to the vet – the time has come in our young dog’s life to have his, ah, equipment adjusted, shall we say.

And although I didn’t strap him into a car seat, and he was wearing a leash instead of a uniform, and he was, well, going to get the boys chopped off instead of learning about sharing and cooperation, I couldn’t help but compare the experience to my friends who’ve been dropping off their little ones at school this week.

He was a trooper in the car, although he hasn’t had many car rides in his young life. He sat quietly, looking all around, as I told him what a good boy he was being and chattered on about how everything would be fine, and we’d pick him up tomorrow, and everything would be as good as new.

When we got to the vet’s office, he sprang from the car and skipped up the sidewalk and through the front door with his usual joyful lightness, greeting everyone enthusiastically in the lobby, nubbin tail (and entire backside) wiggling at top speed.

It wasn’t until the vet tech took the leash from me, and he turned back and looked at me, confused, that he realized something was up. Up to now, he’d been on an adventure with his mama, in a car with his mama, meeting strangers with his mama. His dark brown eyes looked concerned.

"…Mama?"

I told him he was a good boy, and it was OK, and then he disappeared into the examination room while I confirmed his pick-up time with the front desk.

And then I walked outside, a lump in my throat, and got in my car, feeling kind of oddly empty and more than a little guilty. (Seriously, how do parents of human babies DO this?? You have my eternal kudos.)

I called the vet just after noon, and was told he was in recovery, doing just fine, we can pick him up tomorrow as scheduled. After all, it’s an incredibly low-risk and routine surgery for a male dog.

But tonight, as it’s just T and Murray and me sitting here on the couch… Our family has a little hole in it. Until tomorrow, when it can be the four of us again.

(These are the moments when I feel the losses of our other beloved pets the most.)



****************



Now that we’re expecting our own little HUMAN baby, we’ve started talking a bit about how our relationship to our dogs will inevitably change. They won’t be the center of our world anymore. They’ll have to share us, bigtime, with someone who’s even more dependent on us, who will get most of our snuggles and pats and coos, who will always get to eat before they do.

But today was a good reminder that they are just as much a part of our family as they always were, and always will be. They won’t be squeezed out or shoved to the side as our family grows. They’ll be right in there with us, growing too.

August 29, 2011

Baby Q&A: Week 13



So, it seems it’s now my turn to continue our bloggy tradition of pregnancy-related Q&As, and I am more than happy to oblige. Although my day job makes it hard to blog regularly (clearly), I’m going to do my best to A) make these updates weekly, and B) not let my blog become ALL about the bambino.

This I solemnly vow to you. Or, you know, let’s see how things go.

****

So, you’re pregnant!
Um, yeah – I think we’ve covered that.

Oh, sorry. So…how far along are you?
I am 13 weeks today! Just at the very end of the first trimester. According to a variety of sources, our baby is about the size of a peach this week.

(I'd love to be the one assigning visual imagery to fetus size. "This week your baby is the size of a football, if it was deflated and rolled into a tiny coil!" Clearly I missed my calling.)

How have you been feeling?
I’ve been very lucky so far – although I’ve had kind of a mild, pervasive queasiness throughout the first trimester, it HAS been very mild, and I only threw up once. Otherwise, I’ve just been incredibly exhausted – I’ve been taking lots and lots of naps. (Often on the weekends I’d only wake up to eat.)

But, overall, I’ve been feeling pretty good! As my grandma said, "Pregnancy agrees with me." :)

Any cravings or aversions?
No cravings to speak of – certainly not the pickles-and-ice-cream combo that everyone seems to think is SO HILARIOUS. I don’t really like the smell of meat, although I haven’t had any problems eating it.

Actually, vegetables have been the only thing that have turned my stomach while I’m eating them. Obviously I can’t get away with not eating veggies, so there’s been many a time when I’ve forced myself to chew, chew, swallow, grimace my way through a plate of spinach or pile of green beans. Blech.

And…when are you due again? You started out saying March 5 and now your header just says “March.” What gives?
Yeah, apparently my due date depends on who you ask. My doctors have told us both March 1 and March 5, and they keep changing their minds. Pretty much every due date calculator we’ve tried says March 5, because my cycle tends to be 32 days instead of 28. We try to tell the doctors this, and some of them hear us and some don’t (they also say we’re measuring a little ahead of the March 5 date). So the “official” due date is March 1, but we think it’s a little later.

Do we really care this much? Um, no. (Although March 5 is T’s birthday—and my grandpa’s birthday—so that makes it kind of cool.) And the likelihood of the baby being born on its due date is slim anyway. It’s just annoying that the doctors can’t get on the same page and listen to us.

Anyway. This is why we’re just going with “March” at this point.

How does T feel about everything?
He would probably roll his eyes at my choice of words, but I would describe him as “over-the-moon excited.” I’ll go on and on about this more in a future post, but: For a man who’s never been around many little kids, he is just made to be a daddy. (Watching him play with my niece is just the best thing ever.)

As far as the actual pregnancy goes, he is incredibly doting and attentive to me, slightly overprotective (although he claims this is because I’m incredibly clumsy; there may be some truth to this) and completely involved. I think he knows more about pregnancy and childbirth than I do at this point (he’s a researcher). I could not ask for a better partner in all of this.

OK, let’s hit the top three questions everyone is asking you right now:


  1. Are you going to find out the gender? We’re still debating this, but we’ve pretty much decided we are NOT going to find out the gender until the baby’s born. As T says, “There are so few true surprises in life, and one of the big ones is being in the delivery room, and hearing the doctor say, ‘It’s a ____!’ Why would we deprive ourselves of that?” Well said, husband. I love the idea of finding out the same day we meet him or her. So far people are either really annoyed by this (as our neighbor said, “I need to know whether to buy regular camo or pink camo!” Oh, dear Lord…) or totally supportive.


  2. What names are you thinking about? So…that’s the other thing. Regardless of whether or not we find out the gender ahead of time, we will not be sharing our potential names. This is partly because we don’t want any negative comments from the peanut gallery (however well-meaning), and partly because we like the idea of keeping that as something that’s just ours until the day. I’m sure this will be another controversial decision, but it’s ours to make – so there.


  3. Why did you wait so long to have kids? Hoo boy. We are hearing this a lot right now. I will probably write more about this at a later time, but for right now I’ll just say two things: A) We are 34 and 36, not 50, and B) this baby is coming along at the exact right time for US. And we are incredibly happy, excited, thrilled and grateful for this blessing.

So…this is getting kind of long. How ‘bout you end this week by telling us a random fact about your pregnancy?
All righty then. Random fact: I found my first gray hair EVER during my 9th week of pregnancy. True story. You’d better believe I will lord that over our future child when he or she is old enough to tease about those things.

Just a final note: Thank you all for all your wonderful comments and for sharing our excitement the way you have been. I could not ask for a more supportive network, and I can’t wait to pick your mommy brains, both during this pregnancy and once the little (appropriately camouflaged) bundle arrives!

August 26, 2011

Conversations with T

We're finishing our basement.

The other day, I returned home from work and T greeted me in the driveway.

T: Hi. So, you're a writer: Which sounds worse, "I hate something" or "I loathe something"?

Me: Um...I guess hate is probably overused, so "loathe" would probably get your point across more strongly.

T: OK, cool. I LOATHE the paint color you picked out for the spare bedroom.

:)

I love him.

(And yes, the color is staying, despite his LOATHING. Lucky for me, he'd already finished painting by the time he figured out how much he hated it. I win!)

P.S.: Thank you all so much for sharing in our baby excitement! I swear this weekend I will write more. This week has been insane. Love y'all.

August 23, 2011

We're getting a new roommate.

A tiny, squishy-faced roommate.

Whose breath smells like rainbows.

And who's guaranteed to completely turn our lives upside-down...



(Waving hello.)

...in the very, very best kind of way.

ETA: March 5, 2012

Our hearts are full to bursting.

More to come. Much, much more to come.

:)

August 16, 2011

There are friends, and then there are friends. (Alternate title: Happy birthday)

(Before I start I want to say: I don't think it's an actual birthday cake, but how great is this cupcake caterpillar?? I wuv him. Anyway. Pretend he's a birthday cake. 'Kay?)

Friendship is funny.

When I met Kylee (of Two Pretzels) fame, she was a college freshman with a mass of reddish-brown hair piled on top of her head, adorable clothes and a giant smile. I was going through a massive transition in my life, and she was one of the first friendly faces I'd seen in a loooong time. I'm sure we weren't friends instantaneously, but it felt like it.

What I remember most about the early days of our friendship is that we laughed.a.LOT. We co-edited our college newspaper, and every week we were up until 3 a.m., trying to meet our deadline, editing hopelessly unreadable articles from our columnists and singing Sting songs in ridiculous accents while our friends brought us Taco Bell.

Our office was at the very tippity-top of the oldest building on campus, and the only bathroom in the entire building was in the basement, only accessible by traversing three flights of stairs through a pitch-black building. We only braved the trip as a pair, taking turns clutching one another and clutching a gigantic umbrella that we wielded against potential predators. (I still have that umbrella. It's a formidable weapon.) Those are still my favorite memories of college, bar none.

And then I graduated. She transferred. We emailed all the time, but we rarely saw one another. We moved in with our respective boyfriends. Then we married them. Then she moved to Mexico.

Through all of life's changes, this was a constant: Kylee was as close as an email or an instant message (we did a lot of the latter in pre-texting days). And she was really THERE. She is not a friend who always leads in with "GUESS what HAPPENED to ME, OMG, my drama my drama my drama." She wants to know what's happening with you. Not only that, she actually CARES, AND she remembers the details of what you told her last time.

She thinks about you when you're not in constant contact.

She prays for you.

When you get sick, she will recite a poem to you about germs in tiny bowling shoes.

She will be outraged with you. She will also tell you when you are being unreasonable. :)

She has an amazing, full, wonderful life. She's a wife and mother and daughter and sister and, I swear, probably has more friends than me and every other friend of mine combined...but you'd never know it to talk to her. That doesn't sound right; what I mean is: Kylee makes you feel IMPORTANT. As though she has all the time in the world to listen to YOU and think about how to help with whatever you're going through. I'm here to say that I truly have no idea how she does that. It is truly a gift.

Today is her birthday. She is, like me, a Leo, so I know she loves her birthday and being the center of attention. :) (That's something else that's amazing about her: She loves to be the focus of the room, but she makes sure you're the focus, too. How does she do that? I have no idea.)

This has been an especially challenging year for me, both professionally and personally. And while I have an amazing husband, supportive family and wonderful friends, I'd be lying if I didn't attribute a big part of the fact that I'm still standing here to my friend, this birthday girl.

Kylee, I want to tell you: I CHERISH you as my friend. You inspire me for many reasons, in many different parts of my life, but I especially want you to know that you inspire me to be a better friend. There is really just no one -- in my life, in LIFE -- quite like you. You deserve every little bit of happiness that can be squeezed out of one life, and I hope that today, you get as much as you can of that. With your C and your girls and your Ferg, I know you will. :)

Thank you for being my friend -- for the past 14 years and until we're old and can't remember who we are anymore. I absolutely love you to pieces!

August 9, 2011

Just because...


Just because you've never seen an acorn finger hat...
...doesn't mean you won't want to hug this one.

(Cozy Memories)

Just because I rave about sauteed vegetables...
...doesn't mean I wouldn't throw them in the river if you handed me these nachos.


Just because Dolly Parton is pretty much a caricature...
...doesn't mean she isn't also freaking adorable.


Just because you don't use spell check...
...doesn't mean you shouldn't just know how to spell "didn't" off the top of your head (for the love).


Just because things are on the internet...
...doesn't mean they should be. (Click at your own risk. No, really.)


Just because it's cheesy...
...doesn't mean it isn't also capital-A Awesome.


Just because Goodfellas came out more than 20 years ago...
...doesn't mean it's still not the best movie of all time. (After Clue, of course.)


(GapingVoid.com)

(Sorry, Mom.)


"Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar." -Edward R. Murrow


Just because I have no one to give these cards to...
...doesn't mean I'm not still buying 50 of them and wallpapering my house with them.



Just because I haven't written here in almost a month, and I still haven't posted about 45,000 pictures of things like food I've grown, crafts I've made and me seeing NKOTB live in concert (oh, yes I did)...

...doesn't mean you should give up hope.





Please don't leave me.

At least not until we eat some nachos.

July 12, 2011

Real brothers...

...sleep together...


...stare out the window at birds together
...


...sleep together some more...


...play together...


...look insane together...


...aaaaaand sleep together again...



...attack together...
(although admittedly one is doing the attacking and the other is BEING attacked)


...annoy each other...together...


...wait patiently for Daddy to return together...


...did we mention sleep together?





Yep. Despite the fact that Ozzie's still learning that "Go get the bone!" doesn't mean "Jump on Murray's head and bite his face!" it's official: They're besties.

June 20, 2011

Sometimes heroes are reckless

I am a daddy’s girl.

I could deny it, but honestly’? There’s no point. My mama’s my best friend; my dad’s my hero. This is the way of the world.

We grew up in the country, and Dad is a real DIY kind of guy – I really can’t remember a time when we actually HIRED someone to fix or build anything we needed around the house. So, when an especially hilly part of the property needed to be leveled out so grass would grow, there was no “Let’s hire a team of people who are trained to use earth-moving equipment. Dad came home one afternoon with a Bobcat on the back of a trailer, and that was that.


It's like the Smart Car of bulldozers.



I was about 8 years old, playing in the yard, watching my father happily push dirt around in this tiny bulldozer while Mom and my baby brother chilled in the house. I watched him coax the thick tires up the bumpy hill, chopping up sod and leaving dark brown earth in his wake.

Then, I heard the sound of the engine change from a low growl to a higher-pitched whine. I looked up from my “Barbie Climbs a Tree” adventure to see the Bobcat wobble, then lean, then completely tip over, with my beloved daddy trapped inside.

He landed with a crash, and I could hear nothing but the engine whining and the sound of screaming – the latter of which was coming from me.

I was absolutely positive my dad was dead.

I ran, screaming and crying, toward the house, apparently to inform my unsuspecting mother that she was now husbandless. She emerged, my baby brother on her hip, blinking and confused, as I explained that the Bobcat had crushed Daddy and OMG WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DOOOOOOOOOOOO??!!!

And…that’s where my memory of this incident abruptly ends. I’m assuming this is because my mother decided I was too hysterical to be of much use and sent me inside to recuperate while she helped my very-much-still-alive (albeit bruised) father out of the toppled machine.

What I’ll never forget, though, is that feeling of watching him tip over and the absolute certainty that that was the end of him.

And, unfortunately, I’ve had that feeling more than a few times since then.

Four times within the next 10 years, my father was involved in car accidents that, by all rights, should have killed or at least maimed him. Each time, he managed to walk away with little more than a few scratches and the occasional broken rib.

(I’m realizing that this kind of makes it sound like he’s a crazy drunk driver, or at the very least a careless one. While I know the former isn’t true, the jury’s still out on the latter – when the reasons progressed from “I fell asleep” to “A flock of geese flew in front of my windshield! No, really!” we all became a bit suspicious.)

The thought of losing him was so profoundly devastating that each time, I would have nightmares for weeks that he was suffering horrible deaths, being ripped out of my arms, crying out in my sleep until he came into my room and proved to me he was still alive.

In 2001, just a month after 9/11, he had open-heart surgery. Afterward, in his hospital room, I watched him sleeping, hooked up to 500,000 tubes and machines and monitors, and marveled at how frail he suddenly seemed.

I hated that thought. He’d survived crash after horrific crash, kidney stone surgery that nearly ripped him in half, and a quadruple-bypass was going to knock this man down?

I should have known better.

Today, at 64, he’s just as alive and vibrant as he ever was. Yes, he complains about his back a little bit more than he did 25 years ago. But he’ll still golf 18 holes, joke around with his family and carry my niece proudly through a room to show her off. He still offers advice and gives perhaps the best hugs EVER.

And he still tells me when my attitude needs adjusting. (That still kind of annoys me, Dad.)

The long and the short of it? Today, my dad is still as much of a hero to me as he was when I was a kid. He’s still one of the only people whose opinion actually matters to me. Hearing him say “Good job” or “I’m proud of you”? Still some of my finest moments in life, ever.

Dad, I know I told you about 100 times over the weekend, but allow me to say again in this public forum: I love you. You are the best dad a girl could ask for. And so many of the wonderful things in my life today started with you and the hero you’ve always been to me.

Happy Father’s Day.

And please be careful. :)

June 7, 2011

Swindled

When we moved from a Columbus suburb to what we lovingly refer to as "the boondocks," "the middle of nowhere" and "BFE," it took us a while to venture out. There isn’t much around here except your standard fast food fare and the occasional locally-owned restaurant, and this was, frankly, kind of a bummer.

But we’re not a couple who cooks much (frankly, we’re lazy), and one can only eat so many Lean Cuisines before breaking down one’s door in search of ANYTHING that hasn’t been flash-frozen. But where to go? How to keep our money in the community vs. padding the coffers of Mssrs King and McDonald?

Enter: The local greasy spoon. Every community has one. Yes, the floor is dirty. Yes, there are trophies on the wall, covered in dust, from softball championships won 20 years ago by pot-bellied, mutton-chopped locals. Yes, the menus are covered in cracked, curling plastic that’s brown around the edges.

And yes, the food is mostly fried.

{Insert Homer Simpson drool-moan here}

It took us a while, but we found our greasy, dirty, fried-food-having haven. We’d go about once a month and bask in the goodness that was their burgers, onion rings and 24/7 breakfast. The owner was a grizzled, surly old man who sported perpetual five-o’clock shadow and growled things like, “Hell, no – I hate that bitch,” when we asked him if he bought his meat from the local butcher.

It was everything we’d dreamed of and more.

Said owner, grizzled and surly as he was, took great pride in the fact that he made most of the food himself, and was forever trying to get us to eat his famed homemade desserts. “You know you want some!” he’d bark at us every time, describing his from-scratch chocolate cake and homemade pies before finally surrendering our check when we pleaded overstuffed bellies.

One Friday night, after sharing a booth with our neighbors (ambience provided by the requisite trophies and plaques from the early 90s and some novelty hot sauce bottles), the owner gave us his usual dessert song and dance routine. “Caramel apple nut pie,” he said in a voice I’m sure he thought was seductive. It wasn’t. But the description of the pie was.

“What the heck,” K and I decided. We’d split a piece of caramelly-appley goodness, warmed up just a little, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

The first bite was a revelation. Cinnamon-spiced apples, just the right amount of sweet and tart. Caramel drizzled along the top and popping up every so often in the middle of a bite. Roasted walnuts breaking up the sweetness and adding some crunch. And the crust. Oh, Angels of Pie, the crust. Buttery, light, just the right amount of crumbly.

It was a masterpiece.

We were in awe of this man, with his wild white hair and eternal scowl and, apparently, culinary genius. (True to form, when we confirmed that he made the crust itself from scratch, he said, “Honey, I do everything in this place except the customers. Heh heh heh…” Ew.)

K and I bought the rest of the pie on the spot and spent the next two weeks telling anyone who was listening that the next master pie chef was wasting away in rural Ohio, serving home fries to Nascar enthusiasts.

My best friend, B, swayed by my tales of confectionery wonderment, decided she wanted to try the homemade pie firsthand. She raved about the (admittedly amazing) burgers and onion rings, and when it was time for the pièce de resistance, she nearly melted into the scratched-up vinyl of the booth.

“This is the best pie I’ve ever had!” she exclaimed to our waitress. “Do you think I could buy the rest of the pie so I could take it to work with me? My coworkers would love this.”

The old crusty man wasn’t working that day, so there was some confusion about how much one charges for a whole pie. We waited patiently while our waitress worked it out with the cook on duty. Pretty soon, the waitress emerged from the back, holding this in her outstretched arms:



B and I looked at each other, dumbstruck.

“Wait,” I said to the waitress. “So he BUYS these pies?”

“Yep!” she said, completely clueless as to why my face was turning redder by the second. “I need to ask him where he buys these – they’re SO good, right?”

Yes. They are SO good. And apparently the only people I have to thank for that is "Chef Pièrre" and the good folks at Sara-freaking-Lee.

June 6, 2011

A very special birthday!

I met my best friend, B, about 16 years ago.

We were singing in our college select choir together, and when said choir went on tour, we just kind of...found each other.

We bonded over our love of music and the fact that we thought it was HILARIOUS to add "crack" and "hole" to the end of people's names.

(I really, really wish I was joking about that last part.)

I've written before about our friendship and what it means to me, and that bond is only growing with each passing year. I tell her often that I think of her as a sister, and that's really true: There aren't many friends who will be truly, brutally honest with you, be there for you NO MATTER WHAT -- having that in your life is a GIFT.

B is an amazing person. She's an incredible singer, a ridiculously-talented photographer and hands down one of the funniest people I've ever met. It's not an overstatement to say that being her friend has shaped my sense of humor. If I am ever funny, it's largely thanks to my friendship with her.

She's gone through a lot the past year, and I can't remember ever being so proud of her. She's a class act, a true and loyal friend, and one of my very most favorite people in the universe.

B, happy, happiest of birthdays!! I take great comfort in the fact that you are taking on year 34 just a few months ahead of me, to make sure it's safe. :) I love you absolutely to pieces, and I hope this year is your best year yet. I cannot wait to see what this sisterhood looks like in another 16 years.

Love,

Shanhole

May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Paws of Fury

"You will play with me, even if I have to SIT on your FACE!"




"Oh, yeah? Two can play at this game, buddy. How ya' like me now?"



The Four Paws of the Apocalypse, finally at rest. Briefly.

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