Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tire trouble

I know. I know. You're probably all like, "Psh! What gives? Where's all the periods and quotation marks she promised? Screw this. I'm outta here."

But, in my defense, I woke up to a flat tire this morning. And being a Saturday and all, most auto shops close at noon, causing a very hectic start to what should've been a relaxing day. And as fun as it was helping Jerry put on my spare tire before I've even wiped the crust out of my eyes, I'm pretty sure it was trumped by having to sit on horrible plastic chairs while waiting in a room that smells like tire rubber and car fluids. Next to a crazy woman who talked to her purse.

And now I must cleanse the stress from my body with some chicken wings.

Because nothing says stress-free like eating food someone else prepared.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Promises, promises

I will write more tomorrow, I swear. Lots of sentences with words. Maybe some long words like "supercalifragilisticexpialadocious." And definitely some short words like, uh, "uh." Maybe I'll use bold lettering. Or italics. Or maybe even WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Regardless, there will be lots of these (.) and some of these ("). It'll be awesome.

Until then, feel free to comment even more to the degree that Dr. Phil sucks. I had no idea Jerry Springer or Tyra had such competition for the title of Most-hated Talk Show Host. I guess because they don't pretend to do anything other than suck. Openly. In public. On national TV. EVERY DAY.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Argh

As usual for me, the morning brings with it a much better mood. I'm so effing dramatic sometimes.

Yes, I still feel like shit. And, in fact, my symptoms that had miraculously disappeared yesterday to the point that I was even able to go out in the yard and trim back a few bushes before their spring growth, now have returned. With new symptoms. My right ear has reclogged. And now I have a sore throat, too. A sure sign of even more symptoms to come.

I already used my first sick day ever this week. Yes, EVER. I don't know why, but I hate taking sick days. I guess I want to prove that I can do it. Rain, shine, snot or diarrhea. And I even asked to go home last night when my work was done instead of staying until everyone was finished because my throat felt like it was closing in on itself. And I'm pretty sure my foul mood was infectious.

Nothing has improved, per se, but I know I can't sit around and wallow in it. It is what it is.

Maybe Dr. Phil will have some "inspiring" words today.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I've stooped to watching Dr. Phil

There's a lot going on in my life right now that I can't write about ... for reasons I can't write about. And not having this blog as an outlet is only adding to my stress.

Sure, I know I can write privately. And I've been doing that somewhat, but it's just not the same. I know I shouldn't need feedback to write. I know I shouldn't need other people to weigh in and tell me everything will work out, but I guess I do.

So I've just sort of stopped. If I can't write about what I want to write about, it feels forced. And I don't enjoy it.

Oddly enough, I don't realize what a healthy thing this blog has been for me until I stop writing. Instead of spending that hour or so every morning reflecting, I've been sitting on the couch watching garbage morning television. I can almost feel myself slipping into mush. A bland blob of blah.

Sure, I realize I'm a little depressed at the moment. Depressed out of worry and frustration because of a situation that is out of my control. And the worst part is I can't talk about it. I can't write about it. And yet it consumes almost every single thought of every single day and night.

And just for the record, Jerry and I are fine. My family is fine. Toby is fine. There are a lot worse things I could be going through. I know I have a lot to be thankful for.

Maybe I'll write more when I can.

Monday, March 26, 2007

So sick

Vertigo. Vomiting. Doctor-confirmed virus.

Not fun.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jerryisms

Starting to come to the realization that maybe the central Pennsylvania delacasy that is scrapple isn't all that appetising:
"This stuff makes Spam look like filet mignon."

When even Toby rejected it:
"Well, if there ever was a reason not to consume something, THAT is it."

While reviewing his MySpace friend requests:
"Someone wants to be my friend named 'Dick Sandwich.' … APPROVED!"

Friday, March 23, 2007

Play date

The weather was the warmest its been in months yesterday, so warm that some of our neighbors had their doors open. And because I had the day off, Jerry and I opted to take Toby to my mother-in-law's house to run around in her gigantic yard for a bit.

She has been watching Jerry's sister's dog, Sparky, on and off throughout the winter, and that cute little puggle that I fell in love with two years ago has gotten big. He is easily twice the size of Toby and barrels at full speed everywhere he goes with enthusiasm and raw energy to burn.

The dogs have played together a handful of times, but they always have to be reintroduced very carefully to ensure there isn't a blowout. Both males are somewhat dominant and what Toby lacks in size, he makes up for in determination and by using his head.

For the first 30 minutes, it was basically an intense game of chase. Sparky took off running at full speed and Toby followed, making smaller circles when he noticed Sparky turning, trying to cut him off and pounce. They didn't pay attention to anything in their path, barreled through the flower gardens sprinkled throughout the yard, plowed through piles of leaves Jerry's mom had just raked and almost forgot to stop every time they got to the fence.

I felt tired just watching them, but they were loving every minute of it.

Jerry filled up a container of water in hopes of getting them to take a break, but Toby isn't good at sharing. Sparky didn't seem to mind, just sort of shoved his head in and drank while Toby shoved his head in his crotch to sniff. But when the situation reversed, Toby very clearly made it known that it was NOT OKAY. Teeth were bared, barks were exchanged and it reaffirmed my understanding that sometimes its the little unassuming ones you have to be careful with in life. Small doesn't mean pushover.

We also learned, very clearly, that Toby is territorial with me and Jerry. If either of us were paying the slightest attention to Sparky, Toby firmly stepped in and nudged Sparky aside as if to say, "They love ME, not you. MEEEEE."

And just as they started up again, wrestling around in the last patch of snow in the yard, gulping down huge bites when they couldn't make it back to the water dish, Jerry kept saying, "See? See how great it would be to have two?"

All I had to do was hold up my hands, square the chaos off like a picture frame with my hands for him to look through and say, "Now picture that in the dining room next to the china cabinet."

Besides, as much as Jerry thinks Toby would love having a playmate, I'm convinced he loves being the center of attention. He hates sharing. Even just for a few minutes. Water, our affection, treats, anything.

But I'll admit, there's nothing funnier than watching two dogs frolic like idiots.


P1012636
Totally making out.

P1012630
I absolutely love Sparky's expression in this one.

P1012634_2
If I didn't know any better, Toby looks ferocious!

P1012646
Toby was so tired, he couldn't control his tongue.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Daredevil Jerry

Just for the record, the pickle juice-chugging contest was not an isolated incident. Jerry, on a regular basis asks, "What will you give me if I _________." Mostly it includes ingesting strange substances like our leftover solidified bacon grease, chugging a glass of gravy or sometimes it carries over to our grocery trips where he randomly holds up a can of salted pig lips in the international aisle with a gleam in his eye.

My answer is always the same: "Nothing." Why? Because I know he'll do it. He needs no incentive from me. His mere love of the absurd and thrill of a good dare is reason enough.

In fact, on one of our very first dates, we went to an all-day outdoor concert event. During one particularly less-than-thrilling act, we opted to take a walk and see if we could scrounge up a slice of pizza. On our way, we passed a church trying to take advantage of the huge crowds by holding a fundraiser. A donut-eating contest fundraiser.

Jerry took one look at the contestants and said, "I've got this."

A few minutes later, I was watching him stuff entire donuts into his mouth at a time, smearing glaze all over his face and hands, loving every second of it. It was at that moment that I likened his head to a Muppet. It hinges at his jaw, opening up his entire face. And, incidentally, he won. By more than an entire dozen.

So when he noticed that I had eaten the rest of the pickles during our lunch together yesterday, I should've known not to sarcastically suggest that he drink the juice.

"What'll you give me?"

It immediately turned into a dare. After he spent about 15 minutes making fun of me for finishing the pickles, that is. He called me a wood chipper. I LIKE PICKLES OKAY? Always have. Kosher dills. I don't know what makes them kosher -- I guess the way the cucumbers are slaughtered -- but back off. They're salty and awesome and, well, awesome. It's every man for himself in this house when it comes to food.

After he tired of the wood chipper joke, he got really quiet and said, "No. Seriously. What'll you give me?"

"Um, nothing."

But when he picked up the jar with determination I screamed "WAIIIIT!" I mean, at least let me get the video camera. Sheesh.

And I'm glad I did. That video is so Jerry. Particularly his showmanship. I laugh out loud every time I watch him wave his arm as if to mentally prepare himself for the task ahead. Then about to take a sip ... Nope. Not yet. Another arm wave just for good measure. Then he takes a deep breath and squints his eyes shut like he's about to cannonball into a frozen lake.

If I get nothing else out of that video camera, I'd say it already paid for itself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Singlehandedly explains why I wanted a video camera

Crack(er) dog

To deal with my morning sickness, which really is a complete misnomer ... I mean, the name is so wrong that I need to stop abruptly right this very second and say exactly how wrong it is. "Morning" my ass. I have it ALL DAY. It should be called all-day sickness. Or forever sickness. Or if-you-come-anywhere-near-me-with-that-disgusting-smelling-microwave-lunch-of-yours-I'm-going-to-retch-all-over-your-shoes sickness.

Ah. Much better.

Anyway, to deal with all-day sickness, I've taken the advice of every pregnancy website known to Google and started munching on crackers when I'm feeling queasy. And it really does help. Something about that little bit of salt, but otherwise bland, inoffensive substance that helps me stop taking funky breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth like I'm running a make-believe marathon in my head.

And even though it's insufferable for me, I'm pretty sure it's Toby's favorite part of my pregnancy. I mean food? In bed? First thing in the morning? Before even going to the bathroom? Or sometimes at 3 a.m.? In the middle of the night? For no reason whatsoever?

Without fail, every time I reach for the little plastic baggie beside the bed, before I'm even able to loosen the entire seal, Toby emerges with vigor from whenever he was sleeping under the covers and pops up right next to my face, ears perked at full attention.

Even in the dark I can feel him staring at me. And maybe its wrong to give him a 4 centimeter crumb off the end of every cracker, but his fanaticism for those tiny specks of food and the delicate care in which he plucks them from my fingers and the dainty little bites he takes, chewing each one with a crunch even though he could easily swallow it whole, makes me laugh every time. And I think Toby's antics are just as cathartic as the crackers themselves.

Toby might not be the most well-trained dog on the planet. I mean, I realize that he jumped up and grabbed an entire barbecued chicken breast off a table once and started horking it down in front of my entire family while they screamed and pointed in horror. But he does know a few tricks:

Sit.
Stay.
Wait.
Down.
Combat morning sickness.

And how many dogs have that one on their list?

And a nickname is born

One of the greatest things about Jerry's new schedule is that we have afternoons off together. And our daylight hours are filled with much more productive activities than our former post-midnight hours which mostly included sitting on the couch and catching up on our DVR recordings.

Now that the weather has been a little nicer, we're taking epic walks with Toby, wandering around our still-seems-like-new town, making random turns to see where it takes us.

A few weeks ago, we came upon a sprawling defunct factory -- a gigantic faded tan metal building more than three blocks wide.

"I wonder what they used to produce here," I said.

"I don't know, but Ben and I call it the 'Fuck Factory'," Jerry said.

And just as I was about to ask why on Earth they would call it that, immediately jumping to conclusions in my head, wondering why the local high school kids would dare do something that intimate behind this gross building without even the slightest bit of scenery, I saw it.

There on the side of the sprawling wall was a bit of graffiti: FUCK.

And I just started laughing. I mean it was the most unassuming piece of vandalism I'd ever seen. It's barely a foot tall and scrawled in drippy black spray paint with the worst penmanship imaginable. And that was it. Nothing else. No crazy graphics. No initials taking pride in their work. No bold color. Nothing.

"Apparently they felt like they got their message across," Jerry said.

"I guess so. Not 'Fuck this place' or 'Fuck you' or 'Fuck off' or anything. Just 'fuck'."

"Props for getting to the point, I guess."

A few paces later, we came across another "F," but nothing else. Apparently two fucks would've been too much. The author obviously decided that it would detract from the bold statement of the first one. A second one would just be gratuitous. Not as intense.

Or maybe the spray paint wielder didn't think people could handle it. Like one more profanity might make people's heads explode. The first one would cause women to faint, covering their children's eyes in horror. But a second one? DARE THERE BE A SECOND ONE?! No. Anything but THAT! GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD.

Or maybe they just ran out of spray paint. But I don't like this theory. I like to think the person had plenty more and opted not to use it. You know, showed a little self-restraint. Saved some of their destructive tendencies for other buildings and other potential audiences.

Either way, Jerry and I had an interesting time coming up with possible scenarios leading to the lone profanity.

And I may never find out what was produced there, but I'll forever call it the Fuck Factory.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My nightmare was someone's reality

I've always been intrigued with history, particularly American History. And I'm not sure why, probably because it affected a generation that is still alive to talk about it, but WWII is absolutely fascinating to me.

I've often wondered what the world would be like today if the Germans had won. Or what the global population would be if the war hadn't ended all those lives. Not to mention the obliteration of the majority of Poland's Jewish population.

Strangely enough, I didn't really start getting into it until after college graduation. In fact, I can remember the exact moment I started taking time to learn about it on my own. It was one of my first assignments as a reporter, and I had to interview veterans for a Veterans Day story. Instead of focusing on any one person in particular, I opted to sit around at the local VFW for an afternoon, listening in on people's conversations and asking the men questions about the things they experienced.

It was an eye-opening afternoon. Some jumped at the change to regale a new audience with their old stories. Others refused to even talk about it, the pain still visible in their eyes.

I left realizing that I hadn't ever asked my own grandfathers about their experience at war and it shamed me. Because neither are around anymore to talk about it.

There are snippets of conversations that I remember. I know my dad's dad was on the front lines, but I don't even know what combat group he was with. And I vaguely remember him telling me that his entire platoon died when their tank rolled over. I guess my grandpa had gotten an assignment transfer just days earlier. My mom's dad was a reporter. I'm not exactly sure to what capacity, but I'm pretty sure he was embedded. My brother got his war trunk and all his memorabilia when he died -- to which I was insanely jealous.

Ever since that afternoon at the VFW, I've paid closer attention to our war veterans. Part of my job includes proofing my paper's obituaries, and it always saddens me to see another WWII vet gone, taking a major part of our history with them.

So when Jerry and I were walking through our local video rental store recently, checking out the new releases and realizing that nothing really jumped out at us, I started going up and down the alphabetical aisles in hopes of spotting an oldie but goodie that I'd always had good intentions of seeing.

Then I found "Schlinder's List." Jerry hadn't seen it either, so we rented it.

It took a few days to get around to watching it, which wasn't a problem because we had it for a week, but now it haunts me. Every time I become emotionally involved in a real-life story like that, it seems to take a few days to recover. I dream about what it must've been like to live in a concentration camp, never knowing if tomorrow will be your last day. To be persecuted solely because of your beliefs. Beliefs you were born into.

One line in the movie stood out in particular. The title character Oskar Shindler says, "War brings out the very worst in people, never the best."

Even if that is the case, I absolutely can't comprehend how that many people were convinced that the Jewish people were an inferior population. That they were somehow less than human and that killing them was not only acceptable, but the right thing to do.

I guess at the core, people are weak. All it takes is a strong leader to give them a goal and a purpose. Even if that purpose is pure evil.

And real stories like that, stories of survival despite the worst kind of adversity ... well, stories like that humble me.

Thinking about all of this woke me up for the second night in a row. Maybe now that I've gotten it out I'll be able to sleep.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Photos I've been dying to share

P1012627
The latest addition to my shoe collection. I wasn't sure
if they were fun or freaky, but I settled on fun.


P1012620
The bridal shower invitations I made for Timberly.
(Shown here with the oh-so-lovely blobbed out vitals.)


P1012624
And Jerry and I discovered a stuffed animal that looked EXACTLY
like Toby when we went to a candy shop. Yeah, we had to have it.

Must. Not. Puke.

Well, my blissful morning sickness-free days are over. The hormones have kicked into high gear and although I never puke, I walk around feeling like I should be carrying a bucket with me -- just in case.

The nausea is the worst when I have an empty stomach. So when I woke up yesterday to find a gallon of milk with only a swig in the bottom, making my morning bowl of cereal an impossibility, I nearly cried. Right there in front of my fridge. With Toby looking at me like I'm a complete idiot.

Jerry got home from work an hour later and I nearly mauled him when he suggested grabbing a bite to eat before we hit the grocery store. There's no way I would've made it walking around in a wonderland of sustanence on an empty stomach, trying to ignore the fact that I might hurl at any moment.

But it had to be breakfast. The only thing that would be better than a bowl of cereal is a huge pile of cheesy eggs, a stack of pancakes and an entire gallon of orange juice. And if there's any way to convince Jerry to leave the house on a weekend, Denny's is it.

So after stocking up on a Grand Slam, Jerry and I reluctantly agreed to get groceries. But for absolutely hating the chore, we sure do a good job of filling a cart.

Then, about halfway through the store, I realized that a really full stomach is no better than an empty one. When we approached the seafood counter, I nearly retched at the sight of it. And, ironically, I'd been craving a fresh cut of salmon all week.

By the time we made it to the store's mid-way point I wanted to die. The sight of all that food was making me sick. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed, take a nap and forget about the fact that I need all this disgusting edible stuff to survive.

I tried hanging in there, but Jerry could tell I was waning. (Probably because I got really cranky and kept complaining about how I needed to vomit.) So we picked up the pace at his insistance that "I need to get you outta here," realizing that he didn't want to tell our cashier about a cleanup needed in aisle 19.

The only moment I felt really good was the bread aisle. My sense of smell is rediculously strong these days and it was as if I walked into a bakery. It smelled like my mom's kitchen after she makes a batch of her oatmeal bread and it soothed me.

Strangely enough, by the time we got to the checkout, I was hungry again. So I started scanning our purchases to see what I'd dig into as soon as we got home.

Most of it still didn't look appetising, which depressed me to no end. But there, amid the pile, was a shining jar of goodness. Oh! And some of that, too!

Then I realized how utterly cliche I was.

The only things I wanted in our entire obscene grocery purchase was pickles and ice cream.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Because it's been a long time since the last rant

Dear people who know me in "real life" who have recently discovered this website,

No, I am not naive enough to think that the Internet is a private place. I am, in fact, well aware that anyone can read what I write here. Even you. And maybe even your mom. Or the 14 other people you e-mail this URL to thinking that you're in on something.

I hate to break it to you, but this site has never been a secret. Those who know me well often hear me talk about my blog or the many friends I have met online. And even though I write about some very private moments, my innermost fears and my sex life, I am not ashamed of any of it.

Actually, it's the exact opposite. I take pride in what I've written here. I was even approached a few months ago by a major international book publishing company about writing a nonfiction piece sharing my cynical, yet hopelessly optimistic take on modern weddings. The rep and I didn't exactly see eye-to-eye on the details, so it didn't pan out, but the opportunity arose solely because of this blog. And even if nothing else ever comes of it other than the camaraderie I get from people who comment when the mood strikes, that's fine with me. The personal satisfaction outweighs any snide remarks you can think of.

That said, I don't expect everyone to understand blogging. Hell, I used to be one of them. I mean, it's a strange thing. Possibly a little vain on my part and a little voyeuristic on yours, but if you don't like being a part of this amazing form of communication that's sweeping the globe, that's connecting people who would otherwise never meet, that's making people who have irrational fears or weird fetishes or trying to overcome adversity realize that they're not alone, then go make use of your favorite search engine and look up "monkey gonads" or "toe fungus" or "Justin Timberlake naked" or whatever else it is you do online.

And just to prove that I'm totally okay with sharing here, even knowing that people I interact with on a regular basis are reading, my favorite brand of tampons is Tampax. With the cardboard applicator. You know, to do my part for the environment. I'm not quite up for wearing a cloth baby diaper like my crazy Women's Lib professor did in college, then rinsing it in a bowl of water and using the bloody mess to feed my plants ... but, hey, to each her own.

So, in short, welcome to my blog. Feel free to leave your angry sarcasm in a comment rather than whispered behind my back.

With love,
Kelly (aka novelle360 ... then again, you already knew that)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Conversation while Jerry was playing a video game

"You named your boxer 'Hymen'?"

"Yeah."

"As in the female anatomy part?"

"Yup."

"Dare I ask what the first name is?"

"Buster."

"Oh, you're just not right."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Check out these really fun ... HOUSEPLANTS!

Why is it that the thought of having a baby is so appealing, but the thought of having full-blown children terrifies me to no end?

I guess because even with the never-ending dirty diapers and round-the-clock care, babies won't remember if you screw up. And they haven't learned to talk yet, so they'll never call you on it. Kids, on the other hand, are damn smart. And they'll be the first one to tell you if you're doing something wrong.

So when Jerry called me from work Saturday morning to ask if we could watch his sister's kids for a few hours that afternoon, my heart seized up. Amy and her husband wanted to go to the annual home show and knew their kids would rather die than look at siding and grout samples.

"But our house is even less exciting than that!" I said. I mean, we have nothing to entertain kids with. NOTHING. Well, besides Toby. But I didn't think we could expect him to enthrall a 13-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 3-year old for four hours. As in, "Here you go kids! Play with the dog! We'll be over here being boring adults and paying our bills and balancing our checkbook and stuff!"

"It'll be fine," Jerry said. "I told Amy to pack some stuff for them. Besides, it'll only be a few hours. When it's time for them to leave, you'll wish they could stay longer."

Right. This coming from the guy who has the easy end of the job. He'll sit with the two older boys and play video games while I have to entertain a toddler with house plants. Maybe we could pick off the dead leaves. WEE!

But I knew there really wasn't a decision to be made. I mean, they're the best kids on the planet and that's what families do. They help each other out. Besides, maybe sometime in the future we'll need them to watch our kids while we go check out siding and grout samples.

When Jerry got home from work, he found me in a panic. I was upstairs in the attic, frantically digging through boxes we haven't unpacked since the move, trying to find the lone box of crayons I know we have. Somewhere.

"What are you doing, crazy lady?" he asked.

"We have crayons! I know it!"

"Kelly, relax," he said, laughing. "It's not a big deal."

"It IS a big deal! I don't know what I was thinking wanting children! We're outnumbered, they'll swarm us. Do we even have enough food in the house?"

But there wasn't any more time for pep-talks. The doorbell rang. We knew because Toby flew down the steps barking like a maniac.

On the way to the door, I couldn't help but remember that I was babysitting by the time I was a teenager. And I was damn good at it. I've had so many parents tell me over the years that I was their children's favorite.

What's changed? I guess the knowledge that I can ruin them. In the course of a few hours I can completely destroy their chance at a stable future. Just by accidentally swearing or something.

In a matter of seconds our quiet home became a war zone. The guys plopped on the couch and hooked up their game system while Little Miss Emily decided it was time run around chasing Toby until she caught him, all the while screaming at levels detectable by our neighbors. In a 14-block radius.

As predicted, Jerry hung out with the boys while I played with Emily. I asked her to show me what was in the bag she brought. Toys! Glorious toys! First we did a Strawberry Shortcake puzzle. Then we played a retarded version of Dora dominoes. Then we played with her freaky polar bear-looking stuffed animal that snored and whined and moved its limbs, sending Toby into an epileptic fit.

And that was it. The bag was empty and we burned about 22 minutes. Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

So we played dominoes again. And tucked the bear into one of my silver serving bowls and found a really, really, really quiet spot ... shhh ... for it to sleep in on the kitchen table. Then we set the oven timer for five minutes later so we would know when to wake him up.

Then Emily reached into her bag and pulled out a Strawberry Shortcake video. A video! An HOUR-LONG VIDEO! So we went up to my bedroom, plugged in the mini DVD player and chilled out on the bed. But trying to keep Toby and Emily from killing each other while balancing the DVD player proved to be a difficult task. First of all, if the disc bumped and I had to watch that "berry berry fun birthday" crap a second time, I just might kill myself. Second, Toby and Emily have a lot of limbs. And when all eight of them are flailing around in a wrestling match of sorts near my face, I'm not pleased.

Miraculously, we made it through the video with only one bump and restart. I am now dumber for having watched it, but Emily seemed very pleased with the "fun little baby DVD player like in her car." Whatever rocks her boat.

Next, I realized I was starving and stupidly decided I couldn't wait another hour until the kids were gone. So I asked everyone if they wanted anything, mentioning that I had made a fresh batch of homemade chili the day before. What I should've done is gotten out a notebook and written down their orders, waitress style. Because, of course, everyone wanted something different.

Nate: "Um, I'll take some popcorn if you have it."
Ben: "I'll try the chili, please."
Emily: "Chili. Um, ew, it looks gross. Maybe grilled cheese? No wait! ... Peanut butter and jelly. No wait! ... Are those cookies? Ooh! And string cheese! Wait! ... Is that popcorn?"
Jerry: "I'll eat the four sandwiches you just made for Emily that she suddenly decided she doesn't want anymore."
Kelly: "Can I eat now?"

And even though I'm pretty sure more popcorn kernels ended up on the floor and in between our couch cushions than in anyone's mouth, and even though it was crazy and hectic and I was absolutely EXHAUSTED after only a few hours, I did have a good time. There will be much less hesitation the next time.

But after the door closed and the three of us realized the whirlwind was over, I swear even Toby looked slightly relieved.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Putting the 'blood bath' in bridal shower

Well, the next time I need to summon positive energy, I'm going to ask you, Internet. Because the invitations came out amazingly. No, better than amazing. And I've inflated their wonderfulness to the bride so much that she's going to expect them to crap golden nuggets that can be redeemed at her gift registry for kitchen gadgets.

I guess the situation is much like the movie "Jurassic Park." After all the hype, I expected to actually get my lower half ripped off at the torso by a dinosaur. And I didn't. So the movie was a huge let down.

Lifelike my ass.

Although many of you expressed interest in seeing pictures that attempt to capture the greatness that are these invitations, I can't post any. And not because an image won't do them justice. Which it won't, but that's not why. I can't because I want Timberly to get hers in the mail first. So however many days it takes to send an envelope from Pennsylvania to Nebraska ... well, that's how many days you have to wait to see their awsomeness.

The fact that I got everything done in one day was completely contingent upon Toby and the lady at the Target customer service desk cooperating. And much to my relief, both did. Well, for the most part.

I had just gotten done watching a "Surviving Motherhood" episode for no other reason than to make myself appreciate my stress-free child-free days. And this particular episode focused on a toddler with serious separation anxiety issues. The mom couldn't even put her in a stroller -- she had to carry her daughter and push the stroller at the same time. Shoot me.

Then I looked down at the dog in my lap who follows me more closely than my own shadow and realized if he had vocal cords that enabled him to cry when I set him on the floor, he would.

So when I went upstairs to work on printing out the invitations and Toby stayed behind to eat some breakfast, I chalked it up to my good dog ownership skills. Toby would so not be like that baby if, well, if he was human. He can occupy his own time. He doesn't need me every second of every day.

But when Jerry came home, I quickly discovered what Toby had been "occupying his time" with.

My slippers.

Which were shredded into a bazillion pieces all over the hallway and stairs.

And what did I do? I promptly blamed Jerry for leaving the closet door open. Bad Jerry.

Two completely destroyed slippers later, I had all of the invitations printed out and constructed, all of the envelopes addressed and stickered with postage and my return address. The only thing missing was the little slip announcing that the couple registered at Target.

Enter Janice.

When I explained to Janice at the customer service desk later that night that I am helping to host a shower for my friend who just registered at her store, she smiled and started asking completely absurd questions like when the shower is and what I'm planning to decorate with. I felt like telling her she wasn't invited, but then I realized that Janice was the difference between mailing the invitations today or next week. And I do not deal well with a task lingering on my to-do list.

I needed those friggin slips.

So I obliged and explained how we would be eating cake or something, which I'm sure came as a huge surprise. I mean, cake? At a bridal shower? HOW NOVEL!

After painting a detailed picture of what each place setting would look like and giving her an idea of what I would be wearing, she seemed willing to hear me out. I explained that my friend received the slips in her registry package, but seeing that she lives in Nebraska and all, it posed a problem. Because I need them now. Today. Right this very second. From you. So reach your chubby little fingers into that drawer to your left and pull a box out for me before I bludgeon you with my 40-pound purse.

"Well, normally you have to call this toll-free number and request a pack and they come in one to two weeks."

I felt myself wind up like a batter about to slug a fast pitch.

"But I suppose I could check to see if we have any here," she said. "Considering your circumstance."

"Thank you," I said, feeling my shoulders loosen slightly.

And then she pulled out a box. "It looks like it's your lucky day!" she said. "We have one left."

I couldn't help but think that, no, no it's actually Janice's lucky day because I didn't need to resort to physical violence. This bridesmaid doesn't mess around.

"How many do you need?"

OH, GIVE ME A BREAK LADY! JUST HAND ME THE BOX! I mean, what was she going to do if there weren't enough? Magically duplicate it with her mind powers? Besides, the thing was huge. At first glance, I estimated there were at least 50 slips in there -- plenty for my 28 invitations.

But I didn't say that. I just thought it. Instead, I said, "I need 30."

THEN SHE PROCEEDED TO UNWRAP THE PLASTIC, OPEN THE BOX AND START COUNTING.

And the plastic almost got the best of her. I mean, she wrestled with it for at least 45 minutes. I was about ready to reach out and grab it from her non-dexterous fingers and run for the door when she somehow managed to pry it open WITH HER TEETH.

Yes. With her teeth.

Then she sorted through it like a bank teller doling out cash, counting each one back to me to make sure I was getting what I needed. Thankfully, when she got to 20 and discovered she wasn't even halfway through the deck, she suddenly realized what I had known immediately just by looking at the container: THERE ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH. Then she shuffled them together, spent another 45 minutes trying to cram them back into the box and handed it to me.

"I hope you have a lovely shower."

Damn. She just HAD to be nice, too. Just ratchet up another notch on my guilt belt, lady. Thanks.

So, long story short, these invitations are awesome. Totally worth a pair of slippers and a verbal sparring session with Janice at Target.

And if anyone says otherwise, I will use the invitations to paper cut them to death.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Busy fulfilling bridesmaid duties ...

Must. Make. Perfect. Bridal shower. Invitations.

I only have three spares, so please keep your collective fingers crossed.

And to help balance out this girly task, I think I'll listen to some of Jerry's death metal.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sorting through old brain files

The Sunday columnist at my newspaper wrote about earliest memories this week. She asked people she cared about what event or moment most stands out from their childhood.

Not surprisingly -- well, to me, anyway -- many of them were negative. I mean, it's easy to remember traumatic events that shake you to your core, regardless of age. Others were very positive, just a cozy memory of family and home.

It got me thinking about my earliest memory, and I have so many that I can't specifically pinpoint one. For me, the few years that I can remember my parents being married and living in the house they built together is as far back as it goes for me. And maybe its because I'm very nostalgic by nature, but I've held onto all of those memories with all of my might.

There's the time I refused to eat scallops at the dinner table, because, well, they looked and tasted like nasty gross brains, and my mom yelled at me and told me to go to my room.

Then there's the time my brother left his dump truck Matchbox car on the stairs and I stepped on its sharp teeth the next morning and thought I was going to die.

I remember laying on my stomach in the sunshine on the blue carpet in the family room under the bay window and looking at my dad's Pink Floyd record covers.

I remember standing in the kitchen with my dad late at night and watching a mommy possum with her babies on our back deck.

I can still picture all of the deer that would eat the apples in our back yard and I imagined that I lived in Barbie's castle.

I remember playing "bank" with my brother through the slots in between the steps because it was the '70s and the staircase didn't have a back -- that would've been conformative, man.

I remember my dad giving my brother and me a bath after dinner while he drank a beer. And he'd always give me a sip when I asked for one.

I remember when my parents put an addition on the back of our house and they allowed us to draw on the wood subfloor before the carpet went down.

When the hot tub went in, I thought we were the richest people alive. On Saturday mornings, my brother and I would watch "PeeWee's Playhouse" from the hot tub and drink orange juice out of plastic champagne cups.

I remember playing "Grease" on the rusted cars in one of our overgrown gardens. I would stand on top of the cars and point my finger and shake my hips like the high school guys in my mom's play did during the rehearsals I got to watch.

There were so many memories that I had a hard time expressing everything to Jerry last night as we were laying in the dark, trying to fall asleep.

I had asked his earliest memory, but he needed a minute to think about it. In the meantime, I rattled off all of mine.

"Okay, I got it," he said.

"Let's hear it."

"I don't remember what I was doing or why I was there, but I remember standing in the back yard. I was wearing gay little white short shorts and a blue muscle shirt with white stripes. I was on the grass next to the walkway, kind of near where the turtle sandbox is now. I think I was 4."

"Annnnd ... ?"

"And that's it."

"THAT'S IT?!"

"Yup."

I started laughing so hard that I could barely breathe. The fact that Jerry's memory has no emotion or event attached to it is just so ... so Jerry.

"So you basically remember an outfit."

"And that it was summer."

Boys.

What's your earliest memory?

Friday, March 9, 2007

F#*@ing videos!

Okay, so I don't quite have it down to a science yet, but I'm getting there. Posting a video is a series of small complex tasks combined with a little luck, a little faith and a whole lot of swearing.

After I watched the videos we shot of Toby playing in the snow, I smacked my forehead and wondered why I had promised to share it. Not only was the footage horrible, but I think it's one of those things that falls under the category of "a face only a mother could love." If I've ever been sure about anything in my entire life, even more than knowing years ago that Lance Bass was gay, I'm sure that the entirety of this video is only enjoyable to the people who were there to experience it as it unfolded. And even I caught myself yawning.

But, alas, a promise is a promise. And at least five of you expressed (or feigned) interest.

So here it is. My second video. I've titled it "White stuff" and it's a thrilling 24 second clip of Toby rooting around in the snow and me forgetting how to zoom and just walking over for a shaky close up, instead.



I'm this close to figuring the whole video thing out, so I decided that having another go at it would help solidify the steps. Plus, my voice sounds so strange and manish in the last one that I wanted to prove I'm not on testosterone hormone therapy and undergoing a sex change. This third video presents a whole new set of challenges, though, because I'm wearing Jerry's two-tone brown hat over top of a bunchy ponytail, a red hooded sweatshirt and my purple coat. My only excuse is that I woke up less than an hour earlier AND I'M IN MY OWN BACKYARD (aka cut me some slack).

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The disappearing ball

Despite Punxsutawney Phil's prediction of an early spring, we got another winter storm Monday night in central Pennsylvania that filled our yard with about 8 inches of snow.

As Jerry was shoveling our back walkway the next afternoon, he discovered an interesting new game. The snow was light and fluffy but perfect for packing, so he formed a ball and tossed it, sending Toby running. But when Toby got to the spot where it landed, he became confused, so he just dug his face into the snow and rooted around for a few seconds, then popped his head up covered with white, looking thoroughly confused.

After a few rounds of the disappearing ball, Toby became so obsessed with actually biting it, that as I packed the snow in my hands, he jumped up and chomped into the snowball, biting and ripping and tearing at it until it disintegrated.

And, yes, we got it on video.

I haven't even watched it yet or loaded it on the computer or edited it or tried to upload it, so maybe I'll have it functioning here by 2018, but I'm hopeful that it's even more impressive than Toby's asylum-worthy eating habits.

I need to see the light

I'm having a really difficult time allowing myself to embrace this pregnancy. As excited as I am, I can't help but think about all of the potential problems that can arise. Not to mention the vivid memories of the physical and emotional pain I went through just a few short months ago.

Yesterday I called to make my first prenatal appointment, and I ended up voicing all of my fears to an unsuspecting receptionist. Fortunately, she was a new mother, herself. A new mother who experienced three miscarriages before giving birth for the first time a few months ago. With her advice that the best thing I can do is to relax, take care of myself and take naps, I took a deep breath and vowed to do just that.

But like a lot of things in life, it's easier said than done. On the days that I have continual cramping, I worry that I'm not developing right and something is wrong. On the days that I don't experience any cramping at all, I worry that the baby stopped growing and something is wrong. Basically, no matter what, I'm worrying.

I'm just waiting to see that flicker of light on an ultrasound.

Then maybe I'll be able to let go of my fears.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The name says it all

I think it's pretty much common sense that hairdryers are for drying hair. I mean, the name practically negates any confusion, right?

Well, SOMEONE PLEASE TELL THIS TO MY HUSBAND.

If Jerry could tuck my hairdryer away in his toolbox and get away with it, I'm pretty sure he would. Because, to him, the hairdryer is a much more useful apparatus than its name denotes. I mean, just think of all the possibilities! Heating your boxers so they're toasty warm on a cold winter morning. Spill water on the couch and know your wife is going to freak? No problem!

But the coup de grace came when we asked to borrow a carpet steamer from my sister-in-law. Jerry took care of everything while I was at work, and I came home to a sopping wet carpet. And when I say "sopping wet," I'm really not exaggerating. A marine animal easily could've survived off the water in between the threads. If the square-footage was a little bigger, we could've invited a killer whale to stay in the guest bedroom.

Apparently Jerry didn't know that you had to switch the vacuum from "spray" mode to "suck" mode and go over the same spot a few times to pull the water back up. I guess he assumed that the machine was smart enough to do everything at once.

So, long story short, we ended up with a carpet that squished if you dared to walk on it. And if you were in socks, they absorbed enough to look like you had stepped directly into a swimming pool.

Unfortunately, the guest room is the one room upstairs without a ceiling fan. We tried tossing down every towel in the house and stomping on them furiously, but all that did was create a lot of dirty laundry. The carpet was still reminiscent of something that got caught unexpectedly in a torrential downpour.

And, to make matters worse, we had guests coming in two days.

The first day we did nothing. We assumed 24 hours would dramatically improve the situation.

It didn't. Shamu still would've felt right at home.

I was absolutely freaking out, but Jerry remained calm. He told me not to worry about it. He told me the carpet would be dry by the time I got home from work.

In hindsight, I should've asked how. As in, "How, exactly, do you plan on making that room inhabitable after every other reasonable attempt has failed?"

But I didn't ask. I desperately wanted to believe him.

And when I got home that night, he partially kept his word. One small corner of the carpet was perfectly and suspiciously dry. The corner nearest an electrical outlet.

He had used my hairdryer.

And, ladies, I know I don't have to tell you that hairdryers are sort of a necessity -- particularly in the winter. And I know I don't have to tell you that a good hairdryer isn't a cheap piece of equipment. I also know that I don't have to tell you what happens if you use a hairdryer for an extended period of time on its highest heat setting.

Yup, he pretty much burned it out. Either his wrist got tired from trying to dry the carpet. Or maybe the cord wouldn't reach any further. Or maybe he noticed the funny burnt smell that it started emitting. Or maybe it was because the air flow was reduced to a wheeze.

Either way, he put the dryer back in its spot in our vanity and pretended like nothing happened.

Only, the next morning, I figured it out.

And, ironically, when my parents came to visit the next day, my mother didn't pack her hairdryer, knowing she could use mine. And right as she was lamenting how I needed to buy a new one immediately because "one of these days it's just not going to work and you'll be sorry," it didn't turn on.

It died right then and there. When both of us had hair as wet as the carpet had been. And, sure, it's funny now, but if Jerry hadn't been at work, we would've strangled him with the fried hairdryer cord.

The good news is that I think he's learned his lesson.

And for all the other men out there, let this be a lesson to you. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: "Hairdryers are for drying hair."

My work is done here.

Last toaster post, I promise

We ran an interesting story in my paper today, and when I found out about it during our daily meeting to decide what goes on A1, I nearly couldn't contain my laughter.

Yes, the toaster is celebrating it's 100th anniversary.

I think everyone should honor the milestone by setting theirs on fire.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Karen and Richard

Okay, so far we've only told our parents.

And Karen.

The lady who did our taxes.

Because you try keeping a straight face when Mrs. Tax Deduction asks if you're planning on expanding your family and secretly you know it's expanding right now in your uterus.

It was our second go at filing our taxes jointly and H&R Block somehow managed to entice us again, well, what with its close proximity and promising to do all that pesky math and all. So we walked the few blocks to the local office, and even though we got chastized for not making an appointment, Karen fortunately had a last-minute cancellation and squeezed us in.

She immediately reminded me of a "Saturday Night Live" character -- someone who dresses insanely conservative, has the world's best posture and looks as if she spends all of her energy trying to contain her itty bitty laughs.

So Jerry and I made it our mission to get her to crack up.

"Did you replace your furnace, any windows or storm doors?"

"We screwed up replacing our front storm door so badly that we had to buy a second one. Does that count as one or two?"

Little laugh and a straight answer.

"Do you have any dependents?"

"Just our dog who follows us around more closely than our shadows and whose fragile spirit would die immediately without our love and affection."

Bigger laugh.

"Do you have any foreign investments?"

"Does funding an Islamic terrorist cell count?"

Huge laugh.

Score.

After all the paperwork was completed, Karen couldn't help but go over ways we could get a bigger tax return next year. She mentioned replacing our windows to an EnergyStar brand. Or installing solar panels on our roof. Or buying a hybrid vehicle. Or putting money into a Roth IRA account.

"Then there's the simple tried-and-true method of having a child," she said. "And, if you have it by Dec. 1, you'll get the credit for the whole year. ... Although, I guess your time is running out for that."

Jerry and I just looked at each other and smiled.

"Lets just say, hypothetically of course, that we do have a baby by the end of this year," Jerry said. "What kind of tax credit would that earn us?"

"Yeah, hypothetically, if we were to have a baby on or around, oh, Nov. 10," I said, referencing my due date.

"Well, then you'd automatically get $1,000 back," Karen said.

And maybe Karen can't really let loose and laugh freely on a regular basis, but she can pick up on subtle hints.

"So is all that really hypothetical or are you expecting?" she asked.

"Yeah, we found out three days ago," Jerry said, and quickly added, "but we're not telling anybody but our parents. ... Well, and now you, Karen."

She giggled in her controlled, stifled sort of way, inexplicably got up, walked to a nearby filing cabinet and came back with something encased in plastic.

It was a bib. An H&R Block bib that says, "I'm a new tax deduction."

"Aw," I said, not being able to help it. I mean, why is it when I see any baby stuff, the word "aw" immediately flies out of my mouth?

And even though H&R Block took all of our miniscule tax return and more in fees for its service, we did get a bib. Well, that and the company-branded pen that I "accidentially" stuck in my purse after signing all those documents.

On the way out, we stopped at the front desk to pay the older guy who chastized us for not calling ahead. And when he saw our bib his whole body relaxed, his face brightened and he asked if we were expecting.

Okay, so we've only told our parents.

And Karen.

And Richard.

P1012617

No video, but ...

Although I let down the entire blogging community by running to get a fire extinguisher instead of my video camera when my toaster oven caught on fire, I did remember to take a few post taco-combustion photos.

Hopefully this will ever-so-slightly redeem this website. I mean really, what was I thinking? Trying to save my house and all of my posessions? So stupid! Clearly the right choice was to capture footage of the kitchen succumbing to flame and taking the entire structure down with it.

Please take solace in the fact that I have learned my lesson, (as outlined in the following handy numeric list).

PRIORITIES DURING A POTENTIAL LIFE-THREATENING DISASTER:
1. Grab your video camera.
2. Record the chaos and devote ample footage to how your dog nearly dies of panic.
3. Save yourself (only so you can blog about it).
4. Save the dog (only because it creates somewhat of a feel-good ending).

Now if only I could solidify it with a catchy slogan like "stop, drop and roll" ...

P1012611
Mmm ... charred tacos anyone?


P1012608_2
Jerry emptying the fire extinguisher while Toby watches intently.

Monday, March 5, 2007

From toaster oven to toasted oven

When the directions on the box of your family taco dinner kit include, "WARNING: DO NOT HEAT TORTILLAS IN TOASTER OVEN BECAUSE THEY CAN IGNITE," you should heed that advice.

I know because I nearly burned our house down.

It was the day after one of our favorite meals, tacos, and we had leftovers for lunch. Jerry likes soft flour tortillas and I like the hard corn ones, so we usually buy a taco kit that includes both. When it came time to reheat everything, it seemed silly to warm up the entire oven for three little shells. And the microwave wasn't an option. I knew they'd either become too hard to chew or rubbery and not separate when I tried to take a bite.

Enter the toaster oven.

Now, I should preface all of this by saying that I've never caused a fire in my toaster oven. A frying pan? Sure. Just ask my college roommates about the time I had to hold a flaming pan out the kitchen window while screaming for help. The regular oven? Almost. Just ask my mom about the time my friend Katie and I started making pumpkin seeds in junior high and then decided to go to the mall and leave them smoldering for hours. And hours. One of those electric skillet thingies? Don't even get me started.

But the toaster oven? Let's just say it would be very difficult to choose my favorite piece of equipment in my kitchen -- almost as hard as deciding on a favorite flavor of ice cream -- but the toaster oven would be right up there in the top five. It toasts! It bakes! It broils! Waffles! Hot sandwiches! Tater tots! And much, much more!

No, the toaster oven has never let me down. It does it all. If it had feelings, a sense of humor and could compliment my butt in a pair of jeans, Jerry just might have a little competition.

So when I needed to reheat my three measly taco shells, the toaster oven looked at me and said, "Fire? Psh, I can handle it. BRING IT ON."

And everything was going fine for the first few minutes. We had gotten out all the condiments, reheated the meat and poured drinks. Jerry's soft tacos were constructed, on a plate and ready to consume. But just as I was reaching to open the toaster oven door and pull out my victorious, perfectly browned shells and construct my own meal, it happened.

Sooner than I could say, "Oh shit," I saw one of the shells turn black and ignite. And those suckers burn fast.

Within seconds, all three of the shells were little furnaces of flames. We had been using the counter space right in front of the toaster oven to prepare our meal so it didn't take long for Jerry to notice, too. Well, his proximity and the fact that I started screaming some incoherent rant about "Ahh! Ahh! Oh my ... SHIT! FLAMES! WHADDOWEDO?! WHERE'S THE THINGIE? SERIOUSLY, WHERE'D WE PUT THAT RED THINGIE? THE FIRE THINGY! CRAAAAPPPP!"

I think what I was trying to say was this: "Excuse me, Jerry? In case you haven't noticed, I accidentally set my taco shells on fire. Would you be so kind as to help me remember where we put the fire extinguisher?"

Instead, he just started blowing on the flames from above to keep the fire from spreading to the cabinets.

Fortunately, I had a moment of clarity and remembered that the fire extinguisher was in the little pantry nook on our basement landing. It's cool and dark, the exact requirements for storing such an apparatus according to the label on the side of the package. (And if you even THINK about wondering why I heed some package directions and not others, I will drive to your house and hit you over the head with my charred toaster oven.)

Anyway, as I was frantically sprinting back up the basement steps, fire extinguisher in hand, trying to figure out how to remove that infuriating plastic red pin that prevents it from working properly, I didn't mentally prepare myself for the nearly 2 foot-tall flames that I would see lapping at my genuine wood cabinets when I rounded the corner to the kitchen. I think I lost about 30 seconds because the sight stopped me dead in my tracks as the image of my entire house being engulfed in flames slammed me.

Fortunately, Jerry reached out and grabbed the device from my hand, ripped the pin out with his teeth, stood back and gave the toaster oven a quick blast.

Then he realized his fully constructed and perfectly unburnt soft tacos were sitting on a plate in front of where he just sprayed a stream of deadly toxins.

"Ah! My TACOS!" he yelled, taking a second to move them to another counter before blasting the toaster again.

And as soon as those suckers had ignited, the fire was out. Other than a black soot mark that I can easily clean up, my amazing 102-year-old cabinets were spared.

Then I realized I was standing in a cloud of smoke and fire extinguisher juice and started gagging on my way to prop open the back door and stand on the porch.

As Jerry used pot holders to bring our smoldering toaster oven outside, I just started laughing.

"Did that really just happen?" I asked. And we stood there in our socks, with the burnt remains of one of our wedding presents and laughed.

It took a good hour to air out the downstairs, but I'd consider that a victory compared to the disaster it could've been. The next day we replaced our toaster oven AND our fire extinguisher.

And now I can say, without hesitation, that my favorite appliance for my kitchen is "that red fire thingie."

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Dealing with the excitement (and fear)

When Jerry and I started trying to conceive again, he made me promise that I wouldn't tell anyone that I was pregnant this time around until the 12-week mark. Statistically, if you make it to the second trimester, there's a very good chance that the baby will be carried to term.

Reluctantly, I promised. I'm an open book, so the next two months are going to be very hard for me. As my body goes through ridiculous changes, I'll only be able to write about it privately, without even my closest friends to turn to.

So we agreed to tell our moms. And we swore them to secrecy.

This time around, we didn't tell them with any fanfare. We're a little more guarded, a little more cautious.

Last time, for Jerry's family, we said we were going to redecorate the office and asked for opinions on the paint swatches we had chosen -- pink and blue. For my family, I made buttons for everyone with pink and blue trim and the words #1 ____ (whatever their relationship would be to our child). I wrapped them and had everyone open them simultaneously at my grandmother's 80th birthday party.

So it seemed anticlimactic to whisper the news in hushed tones over the phone to my mom yesterday, but I know she understands. I wasn't sure I was going to tell her right away, but it was practically bursting out of me.

At my insistence, Jerry agreed to tell his mom. In his words, he "doesn't want to put anyone else through that type of pain again," but I reminded him that our mothers would want to know and help us no matter what. And when we stopped at my mother-in-law's house for a few minutes to share the news, she said, "I'm glad you told me. Now I can pray."

The realization that I'm pregnant again hasn't quite sunk in completely. Some moments I'm running through names in my head and others I'm absolutely terrified. It's simultaneously all I want to talk about and something I need to ignore for fear of fainting from the weight of it all.

Then there are the insecurities. Will my body hold up this time? Am I eating well enough? Will I be a good mother? Can I even DO this?

Plus, to make matters worse, I fell two days ago. It was first thing in the morning and I was walking down the stairs to let Toby outside. I was groggy, not quite functioning properly and felt my left heel graze against the lip of a step and slide. My other foot shot out from underneath me and I slammed down the bottom few steps and landed with a thud on the kitchen floor, skinning both of my elbows so badly that the wounds look like a second-degree burn. I just sort of sat there in shock, trying to regain my breath and holding back tears. My arms were numb from the impact and my body hurt all over.

Now I can't help but wonder what's going on inside. And it scares me to no end.

But I guess a big part of pregnancy is having faith. Having faith that things are going to work out alright.

I'm going to try very hard only to worry about the things I have control over.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Sometimes it's all about the trip, not the destination

Apparently walking across a shopping center parking lot from one store to another instead of driving is a lot like crossing miles of frozen tundra on foot without food, water or proper protection.

Well, to Jerry, anyway.

When Jer suggested Friday afternoon that we go to one of my favorite sandwich places for lunch then stop at a few stores to pick up some necessities -- new socks for him and a hairdryer for me -- I agreed. It was a beautiful day in central Pennsylvania, almost springlike, and it was my first day off after eight consecutive days of working, and nothing sounded better than a frontega chicken panini from Panera Bread and a visit to Target. I mean, that's what I expect heaven to be like. Frontega chicken sandwiches and Target stores as far as the eye can see.

During lunch, I remembered that I had a coupon to the arts and crafts store right across the parking lot. And I knew that Jerry would agree to accompany me if I promised to go into the adjacent pet store, too.

On the way to his car, I suggested we walk, instead. After all, the sun was shining and I had recently let a gigantic hunk of rosemary foccia take residence in my stomach. Besides, if nothing else, Al Gore would be proud we conserved gasoline. And Al Gore was the hit of the Oscars.

So Jer and I began our trek. And we didn't make it 10 feet before he started complaining that "This was a BAD IDEA." Mostly because we came to a foot-high ridge of snow aligning one of the cement traffic lane dividers.

"MY FEET ARE WET NOW!" Jerry protested after seemingly stepping directly into the snow pile on purpose.

"Shake it off, mister, shake it off," I said, laughing. Then I summoned my best Rob Schneider impression. "You can do eet!"

Ten steps later, he started complaining that he was cold. "Um, I would've worn a winter hat if I had known we'd be entering the Olympics after lunch."

"What? Are you seriously comparing this little walk to an Olympic event?"

"Yes. ... My hair is blowing all around in my face."

"We're on a mountain ridge."

"Exactly."

"Exactly, what?"

"Only a car can withstand these winds."

"Oh, you're crazy. We're almost there. It'd take longer to walk back to the car, now."

"Yeah but then we'd be at the car."

"So?"

"And we wouldn't have to walk back."

"Oh my--"

"I CAN'T SEE! MY HAIR'S ALL IN MY FACE. ... WALKING SUCKKKKS!"

"We take Toby on walks all the time!"

"That's different."

"How?"

"Because that's not in a parking lot."

"So?"

"And Toby gives walking purpose."

"A store destination isn't purpose?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because that's a driving destination, not a walk."

"You're a pain in the ass, you know that?"

"This walk is a pain in my ass. Seriously. I think I pulled an ass muscle. I'm gonna die. Right here in this parking lot. I'm not gonna make it. This is the end for me."

"Yeah, you're probably right. It's amazing we've already survived these Arctic winds and huge ice bergs."

"By the way, I don't give you permission to live off my carcass."

"You wouldn't have to give me permission. You'd be dead."

"You'd defile my dead body against my wishes?"

"YOU'D BE DEAAAAD."

"Fine. I'd find explosives and blow your body up just for fun."

"Where would you find explosives in this desolate wasteland?"

"I'd hike back to the car and drive and buy them."

"At Target?"

"Oh yeaaAAH! WHY DIDN'T WE JUST GO TO TARGET, AGAIN? THIS SUCKS!"

"Look. We made it. ... Wanna go in the pet store first?"

"Totally."

99 percent accuracy

After all the pain and mourning that came with the loss of our first pregnancy, I never thought this day would come -- and certainly not so soon.

The months from October to February were filled with some serious soul searching and candid discussions about whether or not Jerry and I were ready to put our faith in our bodies' ability to expand our family and our hearts' ability to let go of the frustration and anger from our last failure.

This time was nothing like the easy-going, casual decision to stop using birth control that resulted in our first positive home test. It became a mission. And we gave it our all.

The 15 days after when I calculated my ovulation to be were the hardest. I tried not to look too hard for signs, tried not to mentally invent changes in my body. But sometimes they were there. Sometimes my breasts felt tingly. And other times I had distinctive cramps in my lower abdomen that normally only accompany my period.

And, yet, I almost convinced myself otherwise. I didn't want to get my hopes up. I didn't want to suffer through the agony of thinking I was pregnant when I wasn't.

Instead, I poured myself into pregnancy research. I checked the odds and reality kept me grounded. A woman and man in their late twenties, even with the most well-functioning systems, only have a 25 percent chance of getting pregnant each month. Over a year, those odds increase to almost 90 percent, which is a little more comforting, but I didn't know if I could survive through the stress and anxiety of getting my hopes up every 30 days, only to be let down.

In my late night online travels, I started reading other women's baby blogs. I felt so comforted knowing that I wasn't alone in my sudden and all-encompassing desire to experience motherhood.

Of course, I'd never say I'm glad I went through a miscarriage. It was, without a doubt, one of the most painful situations I've ever experienced in my entire life. But, like most difficult times, I grew more than I thought I could. It strengthened me as a person. It's given me perspective and resolve.

Now I know, for the first time ever, that I actually want a child. Before I just felt scared, confused and unprepared. It took me at least a week to come around to even accepting the idea that I was pregnant -- and even longer to embrace it.

It also made me understand what a blessing it is even to get to the point of a positive pregnancy test. Sure, I continually replay in my head the comforting words of my doctor, "A lot had to go right to get this far," but I didn't really understand it until now. I didn't understand the crushing feeling of dealing with your period when you're praying for a baby.

And there are hundreds of women who dedicate entire blogs documenting their struggles to conceive. I had no idea about all the shots and drug therapy and hormones some women have to inject into themselves day after day, month after month, just in hopes that one of their ovaries will produce one egg. Not to mention how the egg would have to be harvested, mixed with their partner's sperm and implanted into their uterus -- if they have a deep enough lining to even support a pregnancy.

All of it just humbled me.

So I spent my days filled with cautious optimism and my nights filled with comprehending the likely inevitability that I would be breaking out a box of tampons in a few days.

But none of the normal pre-period signs showed. I didn't have the usual light spotting in the days leading up to it. And, yet, I tried harder not to get my hopes up. I knew from experience that my mind is powerful enough to suggest to my uterus that I shouldn't get a period. And many of the women who participate in online pregnancy forums write about how they often delay their period by days, sometimes even weeks and months because they "think" themselves pregnant.

When I felt myself getting excited at the possibility, I buried myself in a distraction. I refused to get my hopes up. At least not consciously.

So when my period didn't arrive on the day I expected it to, I was prepared with a test. Jerry and I had purchased a generic box at our local grocery store while we were stocking up on groceries. It was half the price of the name brand boxes, contained two sticks and still boasted 99 percent accuracy. I had read on the directions that the first morning urine typically contains the most pregnancy hormones because they have a chance to build up in the bladder, so I set everything out the night before, just in case.

Even though the directions recommend waiting three minutes to read the results, I placed it on the back of the toilet, sat sideways on the seat and watched the entire time. At first, it was clearly negative. One horizontal line indicated a negative.

At that moment, I realized my heart had been beating into my throat. It slowed as my heart sunk. I had been mistaken. I had invented all of those symptoms in my head again. What an idiot.

But then, just as I let out a sigh, another vertical line began to appear. It was so faint, it was almost undetectable. Then, as a few seconds passed, it became more and more clear. It was a plus. A plus! A POSITIVE!

And there, sitting on my toilet, I started to cry.

I was so overwhelmed with joy that I couldn't even move. Then, as soon as the immobility came, it passed. I bounded into the bedroom where Jerry was still sleeping, hopped knees-first onto the bed, turned on the lamp and shoved the stick in his face saying, "Jer, Jer! We did it!"

He broke into a huge grin and grabbed me with all his might.

Today is the day that we break out the sparkling white grape juice. I bought the bottle the day before my surgery and vowed that we'd celebrate when we conceived again.

Because even though we're scared. Even though we're well aware that what we have can be taken away, today is a reason to celebrate.

I'm pregnant.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A public service announcement

A lot of you have been asking if Jerry's radio show is available online. From what I understand, web streaming is in the works, but not running yet.

Instead, I can direct you to a few recordings that Jerry compiled for the show's new MySpace page.

Normally, I would warn you here, say something about how the views reflected in Troy & Jerry in the Morning are in no way indicative of novelle360. But I laughed my ass off when Jerry played the clips for me yesterday afternoon. And, unfortunately, I was brushing my teeth and sprayed Crest original paste all over the sink and mirror and wall in front of me.

So consider yourself warned. Don't listen and brush at the same time. It could save your life.