Friday, November 30, 2007

Back in the Day

Growing up, we always had a live Christmas tree with lots of handmade and one-of-a-kind ornaments...there was the cotton ball snowman, the pipe cleaner candy cane, and those dough ornaments that look like cookies but are hard as rocks. Most importantly, there was a TON of tinsel. We placed it carefully, just a few strands at a time, that was the rule...but we covered nearly every branch. Our living room had a red, textured carpet, and I can remember what it felt like to run your hand over it to pick up the stray tinsel, hooks, and pine needles after the decorating was done.

Besides the ones I had lovingly made, I had several favorite ornaments. The brown styrofoam gingerbread men (complete with styrofoam house) topped the list, and I've been checking ebay on and off to see if I can find anything luck yet. There was a little metal bell that always got placed last, near the top of the tree, and of course MY angel. We each had one, my brother, my sister and me. I think my brother's was dressed in green, and had a young boy's face. My sister's had a blue dress, and looked like a grown-up to me. That seemed to fit in my mind, since my sister is 12 years older and I never did see her as a "kid"...I wonder if they still have their angels. In an effort to downsize her Holiday decorating, my Mom gave me mine quite a few years ago...she looks like a little girl with long blond hair, bare feet and a red dress, and she used to hold a little book of songs out in front of her. The book fell apart when I was maybe 10 years old, so I made another one (complete with the lyrics to "Angels we Have Heard on High") and glued it onto her hands.

This past Sunday, when we were decorating our tree, twenty-something years later, I handed my angel to E. The first thing she did was rip that book out of its hands. I'm not sure wasn't done in anger, the book just didn't belong somehow. Then she carried it around, giving it hugs and calling it "Baby". I should reclaim it for its own protection, but she loves that angel just like I did...I don't have the heart to hang it out of her reach. Every day I find Baby somewhere on the floor, and I put her back on the tree for E to find. I wonder what E will think in January, when we wrap Baby in bubble wrap and pack her away in a box in the basement. Perhaps we'll have to do that while she's napping.

Another of my favorites was a metal ball that played a bird call. It ran on batteries, I think, and sounded like a cardinal. I can't remember if it was my Mom or my Dad who hated it, but I was only allowed to leave it on for short periods...with no volume adjustment, that metallic sound just pierced your skull and reverberated there for hours. But I LOVED it. Our current tree has a little house that plugs into the lights and plays "Up on the Rooftop" also lights up and has characters inside who move around in circles. It is a significant advance in technology over the 1970s edition of the birdy ball, but will probably leave M and I feeling the same as my parents did. When we turn on the tree lights, the song starts, just one verse and it's over. E stands in front of the tree and dances, arms waggling, butt shaking, almost jumping but getting only one foot off of the ground. When it ends, she asks, "Oogain?", and I push the button to start the song over. Currently, my limit is 5 "Oogain"s, but her dancing is the only thing that keeps me from dropping the thing in the garage sale box.

For the love of children at Christmas...some things never change.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Com eto

I am not a perfectionist. Nevertheless, I sometimes become obsessed with imperfections. I sometimes worry about things that absolutely do not matter. I know that they don't matter, I know that I'm not perfect...I accept that I am a flawed human being, just like every last one of us. But darn it, when the obsession hits, it hits hard.

As a family present, I put together this, uh, thing, uh, that I don't want to say too much about because it's a surprise. Suffice it to say that it involved typing text, which I proofread about a hundred times before it was printed. The, uh, secret thing came in the mail yesterday, and it has a typo in it that is currently DRIVING ME CRAZY! I have looked it over a dozen times, and though it is beautiful in every other way, I cannot get past this mistake. There is a line that has the words "come to" in it, and I put the space in the wrong says "com eto", which sounds to me like Latin for "caused by eating" or "that chicken". Why, why, why did I not see this before I paid for this printing job???

Because I am imperfect, and so are you...that's the only thing that makes me feel better right now. My solace is that we are a club with 6 billion members. When I was in graduate school, my professor told me to let my thesis go and get it printed...stop obsessing and accept that there is at least one big mistake in it and probably many little ones. I remember thinking, "What? A mistake? Where? Show me so I can fix it! Please, for the love of God, help me find it so I can fix it before it goes to print!" That document is preserved forever in the MSU library, and it's (guess what) not perfect. My guess is that nobody will ever know...who reads these things, anyway? I think my mislabeled graph and poor use of semi-colons are safely hidden for now. When some poor wildlife grad student decides he has to read it for reference, let him laugh. He'll find his own mistakes soon enough.

I'm thinking of including a sticky note with the family present that says, "I know, I know. I was tired. I'm pregnant. Com eto myl ife andy ouw ill seeth at Iamju stlikey ou."

Monday, November 26, 2007


Every day, E continues to amaze us. I never thought I would get so much joy from watching her little gears moving...she picks up information and holds it until she needs it, then surprises us by using it at the appropriate time. Today using her Magnadoodle, she picked up one of the magnets and said "Tri-agle." Shapes? Really? Could she possible know shapes? So I picked up the square and said, "What's this, E?" She looked at it thoughtfully, and slowly sounded out "Ska-wayer." In all fairness, she didn't know what the circle was, but she did repeat the word and I'm betting she'll know it tomorrow. Two out of three is good enough for a proud Mommy and Daddy.

Uh, who are we kidding? We gush over just about everything.

She is putting together lots of words, and using them in context. Here are some of her most wonderful sentences and songs, overheard in the last few days...

  • Stop, Mommy, stop.
  • Twinkle, twinkle star...howonder you are.
  • Daddy cold outside.
  • Stop, Larry, stop.
  • Granpa do dat.
  • Opit. (Open it)
  • Baby cryin.
  • Stop, Bean, stop. No do dat.
  • Mommy read it.
  • Where Dora book?
  • Pa-cake pa-cake, roll it.
  • Stop, Gramma, stop.
  • Bear seepin.
  • Thanks, Mommy. Welcome.
  • Come on, Daddy.
  • Spider, spout. Rain, wash...again.
  • Teletubbies!

Okay, that last one is techinically not a sentence, but she says it with a tone that means oh so much more. I can't wait to see what she says to her new baby brother or sister...Christmas should be, well, interesting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Marge Inoverra

I am a scientist...I understand probability and statistics. But when it comes to a doctor trying to estimate the size of a baby in utero, I honestly think they're just guessing. Worse than that, maybe they're just makin' stuff up.

They say there's a method...number of centimeters of uterus translates loosely to number of weeks gestation. So when I measured at 29 weeks when I was actually 31 weeks along, they noted it on my chart. Then two weeks later, I had only progressed one week, and was now officially "behind". The doctor made another note, this one more ominous...I had to schedule an ultrasound to make sure the baby was growing correctly. The two options, she said, were that the baby was small, or in the transverse position (side to side instead of head down). "Was your first baby small?", she asked, hopefully. "Eight pounds eleven ounces," I answered. "Oh," she said, and made another note.

So I was not really worried, per se, I was more like, well, insulted. A small baby? Me? Small had somehow translated to "not perfect." If it was perfect, I wouldn't need an ultrasound, right? Well, we had the ultrasound on Wednesday, and the baby is NOT small. The baby is HUGE. According to the skull, abdomen, and femur, it's measuring at 37 weeks plus, when I'm just over 34. We got to see its beautiful face, chubby cheeks, and got to hear its PERFECT heartbeat...which, by the way, is on the low side. The old wive's tale that predicts the sex based on heartrate says that's a boy, as does the way I'm carrying.

On December 20th, at 7:30 in the morning, when they pull this baby out of my belly, I will not be surprised when they hand me a perfectly average sized girl. Hocus pocus, probablility, voodoo, whatever. Just remember, it's not over til it's over.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Daddy's Little Landscaper

My very favorite part of our weekend was a walk we took on Sunday took us about an hour and brought us about one block from the front door. E loves to walk the sidewalk, very, very slowly. The only thing that speeds her up is the occasional kitty, running for its life. She will give chase with her arms stretched out in front of her, laughing and screaming and full of joy. Otherwise, she moves at a snail's pace, picking up anything interesting off of the sidewalk, and quite often tasting it.

To her credit, the stick that she chose to taste during this walk DID look an awful lot like a pretzel, which she announced just before licking it. After deciding it was NOT a pretzel, she resumed her favorite activity, cleaning. She had a stick in each hand, one of which M gave to her as a walking stick. In her hands, each stick was a not-very-functional broom, sweeping the concrete clear of pine needles, leaves and rocks. At one spot, she worked for several minutes with one of the brooms to get a little pebble out of a crack...finally she bent down to pick it up and threw it away with a disgusted "Yuck".

The other job she had taken on during walks is weeding for the neighbors...she grabs at any little green thing growing where it doesn't belong, just like M. I don't know if she picked this up from him, or if it's genetic, but she truly is her Daddy's daughter. Maybe they're both photosynthetic, removing the competition for sunlight. Either way, watching them together, looking at leaves and picking at clover, is enough to melt my heart. The perfect hour ended with us sharing hot cho-loco-late in the warm livingroom, hers in a sippy cup so we could cuddle on the couch. Sunday afternoons are just the best, aren't they?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What a Crock

I have a few New Year's resolutions that just won't that has haunted me for years is the "No dirty dishes in the sink overnight" promise. Why is it that I just cannot manage this simple task? I WANT an empty sink, really I do. But each morning I wake up to a minimum of two or three bottles, a half-full coffee cup, a plate and a couple of spoons. Lately, the pile has been supplemented by the crock from my crock pot...the result of two resolutions at war with eachother.

The "Cook more in the crock pot" resolution is winning, I think. In the past few months, I've made meatballs, white chile, regular chile, pot roast, and beef stew...I'm pretty proud of myself. There is something so satisfying about the whole process, the house smells great, and we are always excited to have meals for the week. I found out this week, though, that my crock pot cooking method says a bit about my personality...and I'm not sure it's good news.

While talking up my culinary successes, more than one friend has pointed out that THE BEST part about the crock pot is that you can leave it (as in leave the house) and come back to a fully cooked meal. Leave the house? With a hot appliance on the kitchen counter, and nobody waiting with a fire extinguisher? I don't think so. I use the crock pot on my day off, or sometimes at night, when I'm sure to smell the difference between well cooked stew meat and burning kitchen countertop. I don't believe I am physically capable of driving away from the house with boiling liquids unattended. The funny thing is that I consider myself a fairly easygoing, spontaneous person. I am not oppressivly responsible...I lose my car keys as often as the next girl. So why this hangup?

I did a web search and I couldn't find ANY verifiable crock pot disasters. No house fires, no weeping, regretful cooks. The closest I came was that someone witnessed some smoke (possibly the food burning from lack of moisture) and a few broken inserts (the result of cooking with a half-cracked-crock). A few of the pages had debates that circled around whether you also leave the dryer on when you leave the house...I don't do that either.

Regardless, I'm sure I'll eventually read (or be the subject of) an email chain letter that goes something like this...

Keep reading, this happened to my neighbor's cousin, and I just want all of you to have the proper information. While cooking chicken soup with the TroyBuilt Model A3 Crock Pot, Jenny couldn't decide what setting to use. She pushed the buttons in this order...Low, Medium, Low, 2 Hours, 4 Hours, High, Low, High. On this, and many other crock pots, this is the code for "self destruct as soon as you hear the car drive away." She returned after a short shopping trip to find her kitchen countertop on fire and noodles on the ceiling. If she had been gone for two minutes longer, she would have lost everything. Send this message on to 17 people you love in the next 5 minutes, and you will receive a secret recipe for crock pot chocolate chip cookies. It works, I've tried it!

I will believe such an email, because it suits my needs. I'll send it on to my risk-taking, spontaneous friends, the ones who know me and love me anyway.

Friday, November 16, 2007

She's Photosynthetic

This morning, I put together the puzzle of my daughter, E. It all makes perfect sense now...she's not a baby after all...she's a plant. Read on for proof.

1) She will not eat. A few pretzels here and there, cho-lo-co-late, a bite of a banana, some peas. The amount of food she ingests daily could not support a consumer. She must get her boundless energy (we call her "busy") in some other way.

2) One of her first two syllable words was "ooside". Sometimes her first request in the morning is to go ooside. It doesn't matter if there's anything to do, or how cold it is...she will pace the sidewalk if she has to. We may need to put a growlite in the livingroom to make it through the cloudy winter days.

3) She keeps getting taller, but she's not gaining any weight. I think, like the aspen tree, that she is competing for sunlight. She is stretching upwards to capture the sun's energy, so she can turn it into "busy".

4) She is fascinated by all things botanical...blades of grass, little leaves, flowers. At first I thought she was a scientist. Now I believe that she is just making a connection to her own kind.

Thankfully, she is not yet green with chlorophyll. She is still human colored, and I think that will help her blend in with the rest of the babies. But Lord help me, I'll be checking her skin daily from here on out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jane! Stop this crazy thing!

We own a robot...his name is Robbie.

Ever since I saw them advertised several years ago, I've wanted a Roomba, a flat, circular robot vacuum. I was not convinced, though, that it would work well, or that it was worth the cost. But this summer, when it came time for me to spend my birthday money, I did a web search and found a video of the Roomba in action. I was sold.

Robbie arrived via in August, and he's been happily vacuuming the house ever since...okay, that's not entirely true. Robbie #1, well, died. He had a "cliff sensor malfunction", which caused me great sadness. This was my first clue that I was getting entirely too attached to him. It made me sad to watch him try to vacuum the living room, only to sense a cliff (ie. stairway) that didn't exist, and go into convulsions. He would manically try to back away from the imaginary hazard, eventually pinning himself up against a wall and stalling out. We tried to fix him, we cleaned his sensors and called customer service. But he couldn't be saved. We put him out of his misery in September, and (minus postage) received Robbie #2 at no cost.

By the time he died, E was already calling Robbie #1 by his name, so we didn't want to confuse her by naming #2 something different. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Nevermind that I was not ready to talk about where robots go when their cliff sensors fail. Although she saw #2 come out of the box, she didn't make the connection that it was a different Robbie, so we just went with it.

If you do a web search on Roomba videos, you will find crazy people who dress them up, use them to torment pets, and even give them life stories. I'm not kidding, these people are nuts. So when we treat Robbie like he's alive, I only feel strange until I remember the video on YouTube about the Roomba who meets a mop and falls in love. I think it's cute that E says "Hi, Robbie" when she walks by, and sometimes she even pats him like he's just another cat. Once in a while she hits the "CLEAN" button, and then panics when he beeps and comes to life. I do feel a little bad when he chases her out of the living room...but we are trying to raise a daughter who is tolerant of humans and robots alike. It is the 21st century, after all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Importance of Being Pregnant

First, let me say that my belly is a basketball. I am not huge, but I have that kind of belly that everybody calls cute. Note: It doesn't feel cute...but I'm trying to get used to the compliments.

The cafeteria seems to be the place where people like to comment and pay attention to my, ummm, condition. Just now as I was buying a decaf-mixed-with-cappucino-don't-judge-me, I realized that I had forgotten my wallet in my office. I asked if I could set the coffee aside, promising to be back in a minute. In my defense, another woman on line chimed in, "You look trustworthy!" I thought about that for a moment and replied, "Is it the belly? Pregnant women just look trustworthy, don't they?" The clerk and the woman laughed, but really, where could I go? Who could I outrun at this point? If I was going to flee the scene of a crime, it would just be to go home and take a nap. I think the police would find me fairly quickly.


Yesterday, at the exact same spot in the cafeteria, I said hello to a couple who had a little girl about E's age. She was absolutely beautiful, as are all baby girls when you have one of your own. As I was talking to them, the little girl walked up to me and snuggled into my legs. She put her head against my thigh and wrapped her arm around me, as if she was saying "Mommy". Her mother said, "She knows what you have there," and pointed at my belly. I just enjoyed the moment, and tried not to cry until I got back to my office...almost successfully.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Everybody Scream, "Hola!"

I have a love/hate relationship with Dora the Explorer. Watching E watch the show is pure joy...she jumps up and down, huge smile on her face, repeating "Say Map" everytime Dora asks her to. Sometimes she points at the screen to show me Boots (the monkey) or Swiper (the cleptomaniac fox), and I know she's trying to share some of her excitement with Mommy.

If you haven't seen an episode yet, let me tell you where the hate comes in...Dora does not speak, Dora screams. In the script, there must be seven exclamation points after every sentence she utters.

"Do you want to help me save the baby star?!!!!!!!"
"Can you say Abuela?!!!!!!! Say Abuela!!!!!!!"

Listen, Dora. I cannot learn Spanish, or any other language with you screaming at me like that. Please, shhhhh. Take it down a notch. And tell your cousin Diego to quiet down, too. The two of you are giving me a headache.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Happy Shirt

For as long as I can remember, I have had a piece of clothing that I refer to as my "Happy Shirt"...if it's clean, I wear it. It makes me feel good. It boosts my confidence. The Happy Shirt has taken many forms over the years. Once, my Happy Shirt was a white t-shirt with a picture of a golden retriever on the front. Another time it was a tank top that said "Can't Touch This"...strangely enough, it doesn't matter what the shirt LOOKS like on me. It only matters what it FEELS like. I can't tell you my surprise when I first saw the Seinfeld episode where Jerry introduces "Golden Boy"...his favorite t-shirt. Listening to the way he describes Golden Boy, I had some reassurance that I was not alone in my Happy Shirt concept. Some screenwriter, or maybe even Jerry himself, knows where I'm coming from.

For quite a while now, my happy shirt has been a red sweatshirt that says Lake Champion. I have no idea whether or not there even is a Lake Champion...that really doesn't matter. I got the shirt at a rummage store, where I paid $3 for an entire shopping bag full of clothes. This shirt means a lot to me, and last week I got yellow paint all over it in a mural painting fiasco. Why wear the Happy Shirt when I'm painting? I just COULDN'T take it off. I was in a foul mood, and I NEEDED that shirt. Now, it's ruined. It's time to move on.

Incedently, the last time I was at that rummage store, I picked up another Lake Champion sweatshirt, from the same table full of warm weather clothes. It feels "right", but it's gray...and very large. It works for now because I'm quite large myself, being a month and a half away from giving birth. But after the baby comes, I'll have to reassess. The next Happy Shirt is not in my closet, this much I know. But maybe it will be waiting for me under the Christmas tree.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Today I tried to do some Christmas shopping, because I really need to be FINISHED (no joke) by Thanksgiving. I vow not to buy a single Christmas gift after Thanksgiving vacation...not one, I mean it. So my plan was to drive myself and E out to a local church where I THOUGHT there was an alternative crafts sounded interesting, fair-trade items and local artists. I even told E that there may be cookies there (we ran out of animal crackers on the car ride). When I got there, there was not a soul around...wrong church? Wrong day? Bad Karma for lying to baby? I have no idea.

I considered continuing on to Target, but it just felt wrong...after all, the point of finding this crafts fair was to NOT buy mass produced, lead-containing, unfairly manufactured stuff. So we went home and took a nap. We'll go to Target tomorrow. Go ahead, Karma. Try me two days in a row...I dare you.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Really, I mean, Really?

She knows where the cho-lo-co-late is hidden. It's in the office, behind a door that stays closed to keep babies and kitties from wreaking havoc. This morning, when I opened the office door, she came running down the hall and swiped a handful of Peppermint Patties and tried to run away with them. I stopped her and put the candy back, and she threw her body on the floor in a fit of baby rage. Cinnamon cereal made it better, but only marginally. Girl knows what she wants.


At my doctor's appointment, there was a line at the check-out, where you make your next appointment and pay your bill. There are no chairs, but I leaned up against the wall dramatically while I waited, giant ankles swelling with every moment. The woman in front of me finished and I moved towards the booth, anticipating her departure. Then (for real?) this conversation transpired...

Woman (to receptionist): Before I go, could you see if you have any Transfomer stickers?
Receptionist: Are there any in the rack there?
Woman: No, I already looked, and I have a special request for a Transformer sticker.

Now mind you, there are plenty of OTHER stickers there, Lion King, Thomas the Train, generic animals and such. But no. She sends the receptionist back to look through the sticker stockpile while I sigh audibly and lean back onto the wall. Okay, I can see where E gets the drama. But really, woman. If the kid can't accept a FREE Thomas sticker, then go buy the right kind. Target is just down the road.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's My First Time.

Okay, well, here goes. I do like to write, but I can't seem to keep up with my journal...picking up the pen is just not working right now. I need a place to dump my thoughts, share good news, interpret my dreams. I'm hoping that this space fills that need. My short term goal is to post twice a week or more until December 20, the date that our second child will enter the world.

I have been thinking about blogging for awhile, but I was kickstarted by my daughter, E. Last week, she learned to say the word "chocolate", only she adds an extra syllable, so it sounds like "cho-lo-co-late". This word, in her little, 19-month old voice, is bouncing around in my head...soon it will be gone. She will be corrected by some well-meaning soul, and that extra syllable will be gone forever. And my heart will break. I desperately need to have a record of that syllable.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr