Monday, April 30, 2007

Dear Martha Stewart,

What do you do when you have eight people RSVP that they will attend a party you're throwing and two (one-third of the expected guests), don't show up at the last minute and never call to cancel?

What do you do when your other guests are sitting around waiting for these two people to show up, the table is set, the water pitcher is about to leave permanent condensation rings, the refrigerated lemon bars are wilting, the homemade whipcream is deflating and the candle wax is piling up by the minute?

For argument's sake, lets say you went out of your way to purchase extra table linens to accommodate these guests. Lets say you spent an entire week taking time to plan this party. To haul two extra chairs down two flights of stairs for these guests. To empty out a closet to get to the giant box with the leaf for the dining room table that otherwise would not have been needed if those two had just declined to come in the first place. To tire out your already exhausted pregnant body and make enough food to serve eight.

That's two more placemats, two more chargers, two more plates, two more champagne glasses, two more water glasses, four more forks, two more knives and spoons, two more sorbet dishes, two more napkins and two more napkin rings that you wouldn't have had to set out. And wash by hand. And put away. And get angry at the sight of them.

Not to mention the two extra chairs and the table leaf again. Not to mention that you could've had an intimate table for six instead of a weird table for eight with two empty seats. Not to mention that you could've made two desserts instead of three. You know, saved money on the ingredients, saved the time making them, saved gas and energy and the entire planet from global warming not having to bake that extra dessert for your fabulous dessert party. That two people didn't show up for. TWO.

And what do you do when the entire event was one of the no-show's ideas? It was HER suggestion. SHE wanted you to throw the party. SHE hinted that it was your responsibility.

Do you take a salad fork and poke a tong into the beds of their fingernails? Or use a butter knife to carve out their corneas? Or maybe use the silver platter to slam them on the back of the skull?

I wouldn't want to break etiquette here, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

The hostess with the mostess (anger),
Kelly

Not like I took an extra night off from work or anything

Eff My Chemical Romance.



MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE


MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
MUSE
CANCELLED
BRYCE JORDAN CENTER

My Chemical Romance and Muse have cancelled tonight’s concert at the Bryce Jordan Center due to illness.

Tickets for tonight’s cancelled concert will be refunded automatically if purchased by a credit card.

Both bands apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused but look forward to getting healthy and playing at the Bryce Jordan Center in the future.



P1012749
Eff 'em.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Waiting for the guests to arrive ...

P1012738
I had wanted to get pink placemats and napkins,
but I'm glad I didn't find any. I'm absolutely in love
with these beautiful blue hues.


P1012739
Even with all the preparation stress, I love throwing parties.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Home Sweet (falling apart one thing at a time) Home

Well, the honeymoon is over. No, not for me and my husband. For us and our house.

The one-year anniversary of the day we signed the papers to our very own property is quickly approaching. We were so blinded by excitement that the potential downsides didn’t even occur to us. We wouldn’t have a crummy landlord! We could paint the walls! We had a yard!

Part of the loan application process included a test to ensure that we were well aware of the many financial responsibilities of homeownership. We were given a book to study that included things such as how to design a budget plan, how an old roof should be replaced before ugly carpet and how we should have a savings account with a three-month income reserve.

We passed the test easily, but most of the advice went out the window with our down payment.

Because of a home inspection, we knew the house was in good shape. The only black mark on the report was the gutters. The 101-year-old gutters were rusted through in more than a few spots.

But who wants to invest in gutters? I mean, they’re designed to blend in. To be inconspicuous. Not to stand out. I mean, it’s like buying boring socks instead of a fabulous pair of shoes.

So like novices, we put it off. It could wait a year. We invested in new appliances, instead.

When winter hit, we knew we had made a terrible mistake. The gutters sprung another leak right over our back walkway — the one we use regularly to get to our vehicles. All that snowing and melting created a dangerous three-inch-thick sheet of ice at the bottom of the steps.

By spring, we couldn’t call a gutter company fast enough.

The professionals were here and gone within a week, leaving behind a network of shiny seamless gutters that even our immediate neighbors would be hard-pressed to notice.

But the relief I felt was immeasurable. It was as if a giant weight I hadn’t been aware of had been lifted off my shoulders. Our house was whole again. No more major expenses in sight.

Well, until the wind caught the back screen door and slammed it against the porch, blowing out the glass. Or when the front doorknob seized up and died. Or when I came home last week to a kitchen floor with standing water.

It would’ve been blissful to have been able to pawn off all of those problems with a simple phone call to a landlord.

Fortunately, we’re becoming more handy with each passing disaster. Sure, we wouldn’t attempt to attach gutters, but now we know where to take a door panel to get glass replaced. Or how to install a new doorknob. Or how to dismantle a sink and tighten a hose.

I guess owning a house is like all relationships in life: It takes a little elbow grease to keep things running smoothly.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Super Regeneration Woman

One of the best parts of pregnancy is, without a doubt, the fact that my skin looks amazing. If I get a blemish at all, it comes and goes within a night. Or sometimes even a nap.

That alone is enough to make me want to stay in the first trimester for the rest of my life. I mean, I can't remember the last time my skin looked this good. Maybe my second birthday.

Of course I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about here, but I chalk it up to the increased quantities of blood my body is circulating at any given time. That and the folic acid supplement I'm taking, which apparently helps create new cells. It's the only reasonable explanation I can come up with, anyway.

Since becoming a streamlined network of veins, I've noticed other things, too. My hair is growing like crazy. If I don't visit my stylist soon, I could play Cousin It in an "Adams Family" reunion special in, oh, a month. Two tops.

That said, my eyelashes have never looked better. Fuller. Longer. More fabulous. Granted, it also comes with faster-growing leg and armpit hair, but did I mention my eyelashes? They are totally worth the extra time with my razor.

My fingernails are a spectacle in themselves. For years and years, I paid a nail salon $45 every three weeks to give me the look of the nails I have now. For the first time in my life, all 10 are at a uniform length and strong enough to withstand slamming them in a door. I know because this happened recently and none of them broke. In fact, they get so long that I actually have to file them down.

Did you hear that world? I FILE MY NAILS BECAUSE THEY GET TOO LONG. Not because they get a tear or snag. Not because one breaks and I have to even it out. Because they're too long. I choose how I want them to look. I DECIDE. Not my nails. They do what I say. I'm the boss.

Again, this also comes with rapidly growing toenails. But did I mention my fingernails? Totally worth the extra time with the toenail clippers.

And if I get a cut, scrape or bruise? Psh. My body takes care of it in half the time it used to. It's almost as if I can will myself to heal. Like if I stare at the paper cut intensely, it just closes up.

So instead of people referring to me as "pregnant," I've decided I'd prefer to be called: Super Regeneration Woman.

It's so superhero-ey.

Now all I need is a cape.

......................................................................................

And just for fun, I've added a baby development ticker on the bottom of my site. Not so in-your-face as the top of the page, but interesting if you're curious to know that the fetus is now the length of a small box of raisins. Okay, maybe you don't care. But the baby likes it. So it stays.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Making his public-access television debut

Jerry recently befriended the creators of The Underground TV, a local show "dedicated to promoting unsigned artists from across Pennsylvania." But let there be no mistake: Judging by the look of their site alone, they've never featured any unsigned country singers or wannabe pop artists. They like hard rock. And they eat chips of metal for breakfast.

If there's anything local hardcore rock enthusiasts love more than wearing head-to-toe black and throwing the devil horns, I've discovered they love their radio rock jocks. Especially Jerry.

So when Jer was spotted at one of the shows they were filming for an online battle of the bands competition, they turned the camera on him in between sets.

The result is pure Jerry -- never one to shy away from the spotlight. Even when it's forced on him without notice, he won't disappoint.

So, if you're interested, check out Jerry's brief stint the show's latest episode. (And if you're as impatient as I am, it's about 6 minutes, 30 seconds in.)

And, incidentally, the guy on Jerry's right is Voz. You know, the one woken abruptly by Easter Toby.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Typed with sticky glue fingers ...

Must. Finish. Bridal shower. Crafts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On quarantine

Jerry got sick a few days ago and I'm absolutely terrified of getting it. Although his symptoms are mild -- sore throat, cough, just feeling lousy -- I don't want any virus attacking our fetus.

So he's been extra careful about covering his mouth and cleaning up after himself while I've been disinfecting every surface with germ-killing wipes and washing my hands every 30 seconds.

We're also trying to avoid general germ-transferring physical contact, which I've discovered is very difficult for us. We're usually very free with our affection be it hugs, high fives or even just holding hands while sitting on the couch watching TV.

The hardest part has been sleeping in separate rooms. Even though we don't go to bed at the same time, I always enjoy crawling next to him after work and whispering "good night." Sometimes he stirs enough to have a brief conversation, other times not, but it's just comforting being beside him.

The change in our nightly ritual has confused Toby to no end. He's not sure who to crawl into bed with, so we usually leave the doors open and let him decide as the mood strikes. Sometimes he comes and goes between beds two or three times a night, which, to me, says every time he wakes up, he checks to see how the other person is doing. And I love having such a loving dog.

Our tactics might seem extreme, but so far, so good. I don't want to jinx myself, but I can't ever remember a time when one of us was sick that the other one didn't get it shortly thereafter. This time, however, it's been at least four or five days and I'm feeling fine and Jerry is showing signs of being on the mend.

I'll probably give it another two days just to be sure, then he can clean the sheets and disinfect the bedroom.

But the thing I'm most looking forward to is one of his bear hugs.

Monday, April 23, 2007

FINALLY!

Mornings like these make working nights pure bliss. It's already beautifully warm and sunny -- perfect for eating breakfast outside and playing with Toby in the grass.

I think I'll go do that.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

11 weeks and 2 days

The past few weeks of this pregnancy have been blissfully uneventful. According to all of the literature I've read, my hormones are finally leveling out, leaving me feeling much more like myself and less like a walking ball of unpredictability.

Thankfully, the water works have dried up. I no longer cry watching wrestling with Jerry or hearing exuberant little kids describe what they got in their Easter baskets. In fact, except for the time a friend described how a visitor turned on her porch light, igniting the bird's nest above it and frying all of the little babies while melting the siding off the front of her house, I haven't cried in awhile.

Well, except for that one time Jerry and I were laying in bed and he was reading aloud "What to Expect While Your Wife is Expecting," adding his own hilarious color commentary after practically every sentence. I started laughing so hard that I had to sit up to breathe, then the laughter inexplicably turned to uncontrollable sobbing while I screamed "I'M ... A ... FREAK!" in between forced breaths and wiping my soaking face on the comforter.

My food cravings have diminished somewhat too, but I'm still eating much more than I used to. Just ask my coworkers who watched me hork down three sloppy joes at work last night. Granted, I only used one side of the bun each time and they were consumed in what I've decided to call "pregnancy grazing" over a few hours, but I still felt like a complete cow. A cow who seriously needed another bun half topped with sloppy joe mix. And carrots. And cucumbers. Dipped in ranch dressing.

Because of this, I've often described my appetite as "ravenous" to those who ask how I'm feeling. The food aversions are thankfully far and few between at this point, and although I still have to be pretty choosy about what I eat, it's been weeks since I spent time making an entire meal only to be completely nauseated by the sight of it.

I'm not quite showing yet, but I know I won't be able to say that for much longer. All the books I've read say the waist is the first to go, and well, I don't have to dig out a measuring tape to know that my middle is expanding -- my pants attest to that. My wardrobe now consists of two pairs of nice pants, one pair of jeans and skirts. Everything else is just too tight. (Although I have cheated and looped an elastic hair band through the button hole then around the button. When paired with a long shirt, no one is the wiser that I'm a huge cow.)

Yes, yes, I know I'm not getting fat. I know the weight gain is mostly because my uterus has grown from the size of a small apple to the size of a large grapefruit. And that my digestive tract is much more conducive to bloating and gas these days. But right now I don't look pregnant. I just feel round. Or maybe like a square peg with round pants.

According to my scale, I've gained six pounds during the first trimester. In an ideal world, I was only supposed to gain two or three, but I'm not going to beat myself up for having multiple sloppy joe sandwiches. Forcing myself to not have another one would impede my ability to function properly. It would consume my thoughts if I couldn't consume the sandwich.

Fortunately, I have discovered a place where everyone is pregnant and hormonal, which makes me feel understood. I've been frequenting a message board on a pregnancy site. And although some of the women are complete idiots who only have things like "CAN'T WAIT 2 C BABY!" to contribute, others share their insight, their fears and their honesty.

Sure, it makes me feel better reading the 11th week message board and finding out that some women have gained 13 pounds already. And I love that everyone feels amazing when they see their own blinking lightning bug for the first time. But mostly it's reassuring to know that every pending mother worries. About everything. Even the ones who didn't have a prior miscarriage. Or the ones who have already been through this before.

To that effect, I've been trying to keep my fears in check -- especially the completely irrational ones. I no longer freak out at the slightest cramp or flutter, but I can't say I'm not checking for blood every time I go to the bathroom. I'm hoping that will stop once I make it to the safety net of the second trimester next week, where the chances of miscarriage diminish to about one percent.

In the meantime, I'm trying not to change my 12-week appointment solely out of superstition. Jerry and I are supposed to meet with the same doctor who diagnosed my miscarriage last time. And although she is one of my favorite doctors at the practice, although she will completely understand what we had to go through to get to this point, I have nightmares that she tells me this pregnancy is no longer viable. Like she is the harbinger of death.

Rationally, I know I'm being ridiculous. I know she has absolutely nothing to do with what's going on inside my body. And if I don't face her and end my silly superstition now, I have the potential to avoid her for the next six months. The doctor I love. And if she happens to be on-call to deliver babies the day I go into labor? Well, I would really be freaking out then.

So I will spend this week pushing aside my fears, enjoying the fact that I feel like a human being again and not just a host organism, begrudgingly looping my hair elastics through my pants as I shove another sandwich into my mouth -- all the while waiting to see that blinking light again.

Friday, April 20, 2007

How Jerry spends his free time

A few weeks ago while I was downloading videos to our hard drive, I discovered some creations I hadn't seen before.

Jerry's creations.

He made three music videos, all set to "Black Cadillacs" by Modest Mouse, and each one is a little different. They improve in succession, so I'm guessing he kept going until he liked what he saw. The third one is by far my favorite. Although there's a little more blank wall time, there's a larger cast of characters, too. And it takes time to set one character down and pick up another, so I can overlook the dead space in lieu of more variety.

Without giving too much away, he uses Hoops & Yoyo, my favorite duo from Hallmark's e-card line. My friend Courtney and I always send each other these cards, so as a housewarming gift, she mailed me a hand-holding stuffed version of the characters who sit on my desk and brighten my mornings -- mostly because Toby goes nuts trying to bite their heads off every. single. day.

I have now been trying to upload this video for more than 30 minutes and it keeps giving me a "connection error," so we'll see how much patience I have.

But, I promise you, this one will be worth the wait. When I watched it again this morning, I was laughing so hard that I had to wipe my eyes on my sleeves.



Apparently I blocked out any memory of the making of this footage, because, as Jerry points out, I peek my head in the doorway less than a minute into the song. I honestly don't remember noting what Jer was doing. I was probably just checking to make sure the dog wasn't ripping the soles out of any of my shoes. Because if Toby isn't underfoot, he's usually destroying something that goes on my feet.

Anyway, did anyone else find this as stupidly entertaining as I did? Or is it just me?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lots to do before they say 'I do'

For me, the summer of 2007 will forever be remembered as the summer we spent all of our meager two weeks of vacation time attending weddings because Jerry and I have seven -- yes seven -- nuptials to attend.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm not sure which, we can only attend five because two conflict with others. There wasn't any particular way we decided one over the other, mostly we just weighed whether the couple was able to attend ours, whether or not I'm in the bridal party, our proximity to the event, and how much we'd have to shell out for lodging, meals, gas, etc.

I think we've finally managed to make hotel reservations for all of the long-distance ones, but the checklist of things to accomplish between then and now is overwhelming.

In fact, it's actually been keeping me up at night -- but not in a bad way. It's more of a "Crap! Did I RSVP to that shower yet?" kind of way. Plus, in keeping with my bridal attendant duties, I'm helping to host a shower for my friend Timberly, who did such an amazing job throwing me a shower two years ago that I'm determined to return the favor. And I'm also hosting a smaller shower for a close friend at work, Jen. This party is in less than two weeks. At my house. Which is a complete mess at the moment. Filled with dust elephants and dog hair.

So, while simultaneously tracking RSVPs and coming up with different games for both showers, I'm also trying to finalize a menu for the party at my house, come up with a workable timeline on how I will get everything done including grocery shopping, making the food, cleaning the house, shopping for the party, decorating ... and taking my daily pregnancy nap, too.

Believe it or not, I'm not complaining. I'm loving every minute of it. Not only does it remind me of the hectic must-get-things-done pace of planning my own wedding, but what better way is there to spend your free time than by sharing momentous memory-making events with your friends? And there's never any better motivation to make your house look its best than inviting people over. (And I need all the incentive I can get these days.)

So, back to my checklist. And if anyone has any to-die-for cookie recipes that aren't too complicated, please feel free to share. I'm trying to round out my dessert party repertoire.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Under the big tent

Last weekend, while having breakfast together, I noticed an ad in my newspaper for the circus and mentioned to Jerry how fun it will be to take our child to see all the animals and buy them glow-in-the-dark swords and cotton candy.

He, of course, asked why we needed to wait that long to go. After all, who doesn't love the smell of elephant urine?

So we went.

I have to admit, we did feel a little ridiculous when Jerry placed an order for two tickets and the guy asked, "One adult, one child?" But we didn't care. Elephant urine or bust.

By the time we found our seats and summoned some cotton candy, we were having a blast. I'd be lying if I said all of the screaming and crying children didn't make me rethink this whole "procreation thing," but when one of the elephants did a little booty shake and the room erupted into overzealous laughter, I couldn't help but smile. I guess those moments make up for the ones when they scream because they can't have a Scooby-do inflatable doll AND the blue alien.

Plus it didn't help that the kid sitting behind me pinned my hair to the back of my seat with his knees then abruptly jerked his body to see the python snake, forcibly ripping half of my follicles out of the back of my scalp. I kind of had a vendetta against anyone less than 4-feet-tall after that.

But when I looked down a few rows of seats and saw a brother and sister sharing their popcorn and pretzel with ease, pointing to all of the animals and enjoying every second of their surroundings I thought ... well, frankly I thought, "Phew."

P1012713
Nothing better than cotton candy at the circus.



P1012715
Jerry demonstrating how not to get his fingers sticky.



P1012719_2
A white female Bengal tiger.



P1012725_2
The elephants being prepared for rides during intermission.



P1012728_2
The crazy lady dangling by her hair.



P1012735_2
This doesn't have to do with the circus, per se, but it is sort of a circus.
Here is Jerry's Sirius car radio tuned into Howard 100 giving a
message of "Vote for Sanjaya" with the number. And, yes, Jerry is
so obsessed with seeing this guy win that he called for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hits close to home

I'm not sure there's any reason to add my voice to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of others all around the globe talking about the shootings yesterday, and yet I'm compelled to all the same.

Part of me wonders what there is to say that hasn't been said already. I mean, we know the words: tragedy, rampage, senseless violence, massacre, needless loss of human life.

But, like any other struggle, be it mental or physical, personal or just taken personally, I find writing helps make sense of what can't otherwise be explained.

I didn't find out about the news until late in the afternoon. I had just woken up from what is quickly becoming a daily pregnancy habit of an afternoon nap and went to my computer -- a much more established habit. When I refreshed my homepage, the words "Shooting rampage at Virginia Tech" filled the screen.

For a brief moment, the world stopped. I don't recall having any immediate thoughts other than feeling overwhelmingly upset. Upset that the weapons we have invented enable anyone with time, money and an agenda to play God.

I clicked on the link and immersed myself in the few details that were available at the time, then I jumped to another news site, then another and another.

One of the most vivid memories that will stay with me isn't any individual photo or eyewitness account, but the overwhelming coverage provided by the students and faculty themselves. It is absolutely amazing to me that we live in such a technologically savvy era that a teenager outside the building was able to pull out his cell phone and capture video of police swarming the grounds while the sound of 22 gunshots can be heard in the distance.

As I spent the rest of the afternoon glued to the unfolding details of the case, I found myself wishing that I didn't have the night off. Not only did I want access to the dozens of stories and images that The Associated Press moved, but like any other historic moment in U.S. history that I have been alive to witness, triumphant or tragic, I wanted to be a part of it. I guess that instinct is what drove me into the news business in the first place.

When my mother called a few hours later, she voiced the one fear I hadn't allowed myself time to process.

"When you send your children to school, you worry constantly about so many things," she said. "But this? There are no words. I can't even imagine what those families are going through."

And that's it. That's the heart of it. America has invented a type of violence that hasn't really been replicated anywhere else: Someone with a point to prove collects ammo and opens fire in a densely populated area, most often schools or malls. And the families and friends of the innocent victims are left with nothing but questions that likely won't ever be answered.

My fear is that it's only going to get worse. Now other confused adolescents and adults who feel that the world has wronged them have another story of inspiration. Another death toll to beat. Another anniversary to mark.

It scares me to no end.

Because I have a little heart beating inside me.

And I never want to know what those parents are going through.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A menacing intruder

Although central Pennsylvania missed the record-breaking winter storm that is affecting much of the northeast today, we're still having very strange weather for April. We didn't get the 12 to 16 inches of snow most area forecasters predicted, but flakes have been falling intermittently between the sleet and rain.

This morning I woke up to crazy winds that sounded like it was about to shatter all our bedroom windows. Because I worked last night and the weekend reporter wrote a story on the weather, I knew we were in for gusts up to 60 mph throughout the day.

But poor Toby didn't.

When I let him outside for his morning bathroom break, he nearly toppled over before he could get all fours on the ground from the last porch step. And I know it's wrong to laugh, but I couldn't help it. Then I watched from the doorway as he stumbled around in the yard looking like a drunk after a long night of too many rounds. The wind just tossed him in all directions and he couldn't secure his footing.

Then the funniest thing happened. The bird feeder, the one he looked at lustily all last summer trying to mentally concoct a way to reach the stale bread I filled it with, toppled over onto the ground when a particularly strong gust swept through the yard.

You would've thought his arch nemesis just invaded his territory. Toby absolutely freaked out. Within seconds, the hair on his back stood up and he was barking at the plastic contraption with every bit of energy his tiny body could muster. He circled it, he growled, he jumped up and down, he barked some more.

After a few minutes of warning the inanimate object that he was in charge, Toby felt brave enough to close in and sniff the intruder. But just then, another gust of wind kicked up, flipping the bird feeder in Toby's direction.

And wouldn't you know that it nipped him right in the nose, sending our otherwise ferocious dog running back to me in a panic.

Bird feeder: 1
Toby: 0

Maybe next time, Toby. Maybe next time.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Game show trivia

I woke up this morning remembering fleeting snippets of a dream where I was swimming with dolphins and hosting a crazy new rock star "guess the name" game show. I'm not exactly sure how the two were related, but maybe the winner got to play with marine creatures rather than win an obscene amount of money or something. Because dolphins are THAT cool.

Anyway, as Jerry went downstairs to take Toby outside, the cognisant me tried to remember details of the game. By the time the boys rejoined me in bed for our lazy Sunday morning ritual of waking up slowly, I had some questions prepared.

"Hey, so I just invented a game in my sleep," I said. "Wanna play it?"

"Do I really have a choice?"

"No."

"Then sure."

"Okay, so it goes like this: I say some words and you have to use the clues to guess the band name. ... Ready? 'A clam surprise is rocking out.' "

"WHAT?"

"Pearl Jam! ... Get it? A clam surprise? Rocking out?"

Then he proceeded to stare at me with a blank look that said, "Maybe if I pretended I was dead, she'd leave me alone."

"Don't worry. I have another one. ... 'Rock, pucker face.' "

"Huh?"

"Stone Sour!"

"Okay, yours suck. Let me do one. ... 'Seventy-two hours, prayer before dinner.' "

"Math Jesus."

"Math Jesus? MATH JESUS? What the hell kind of band name would THAT be? No, it's Three Days Grace."

"Oh. Right."

"Where'd you get 'math' out of seventy-two hours?"

"You know, every time I hear numbers, I immediately think of how much I hate math."

"Whatever. Wack job. Let me do another one: 'Betrayed Jesus, worships Jesus.' "

"Church face."

"No! Judas Priest."

"My turn: 'Flowers your mom got on Easter, the guy my friend Andrea's engaged to.' "

"Tulips something?"

"No! Those were lillys!"

"Oh. Lilly Alan."

"Yay! We got one!"

"My turn: 'Nickname for a bathroom, my hot dog's second name.' "

"Shitter wiener?"

"No! John Mayer. As in the Oscar Mayer wiener song ... 'has a second name it's M-E-Y-E-R.' "

"That's baloney."

"C'mon, you remember the song."

"I know! That's what I'm trying to say! The song's about baloney!"

Anyway, we got better as the game progressed. Here are some others we came up with:
  • Can't hear, cheetah: Def Leppard
  • Pastel red: Pink
  • Square root of 81, a type of measurement, things that grow on your hands and feet: Nine Inch Nails
  • Stumble loops: Slip Knot

Then I got a little obscure.

"Thing that drops on character's heads in cartoons, place where men pee in public."

"Anvil urinal?"

"Can't it be called a latrine, too?"

"Sure. So Anvil Latrine? What band is that?"

"AVRIL LAVINE!"

"Okay you officially suck. I'm not playing anymore."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An e-mail from my Aunt Glrr

I know I've mentioned my Aunt Glrr numerous times, as she is the one who graciously set up this site for me. And I'm pretty sure I told the story about how I gave her the nickname Glrr, but just in case, I'll provide a quick refresher: Apparently I was learning how to say the word "girl" and when I saw my aunt, I immediately pointed and screamed "GLRRRRR!" So I've called her "Aunt Glrr" ever since.

Anyway, as much as everyone says I am exactly like my mother, I have more than a lot in common with my aunt. And although there couldn't be two more strikingly different individuals on the planet, despite the fact that they shared the same womb, I like to think that I couldn't have two stronger female role models in my life. (Well, they're only trumped by their mother, my amazing, can't-capture-her-awesomeness-here-if-I-tried grandma. And I know they will both nod in agreement when they read this.)

Well, my aunt and I have been corresponding through e-mail the past few days, mostly her commiserating in my complete lack of knowledge and, therefore, absolute terror at the thought of having the task of not killing our baby with simple incompetence. And the e-mail I received this morning came with the perfect reassurance. It's a story I hadn't heard before about bringing my cousin Dietrich home from the hospital. And the reassuring part is that I know he survived. I see him at family gatherings and holidays.

I wrote back and asked her if I could share the e-mail, but I'm incredibly impatient and I want to share it NOW. So I'm just assuming that she'll be okay with it. So, without further explanation, here is the e-mail. Not only did I laugh out loud, but I can easily picture this being me in a few months.


When I see the Hummer-like baby strollers in the mall now, I think back to the flimsy little umbrella-style stroller that your mother used for you. That was all there was in those days!

You will always worry that you are "doing it wrong," because that's part of being a parent, but the kids will tell you, in one way or another, if you need to change tactics.

Be prepared for triumphant laughter from your mother when you tell your daughter she can't put posters on the wall of her bedroom.

Anyway, here's a little story from my first weeks as a mom. You were living across the street from us on Lake Road, and you called Dietrich "Baby Glrr."

The first day that Dietrich came home from the hospital, the furnace went out. Just what you want when you have a 3-day old baby. We got that fixed pretty fast -- amazing what people will do for a new baby.

Maybe two weeks later, I put some bottles on the stove to boil/sterilize (I was breast-feeding but also using some bottles to get him used to it). It suddenly became apparent that Dietrich needed changing, big-time. I took him upstairs to change and when I was just about done, I smelled something odd. I thought, "Damn it, the furnace is acting up again!" After another minute or so, I realized that the smell could _not_ be the furnace. I basically tossed Dietrich into his crib and ran down the stairs.

The pot I had been boiling, the bottles in it had boiled dry and was RED HOT. I mean GLOWING! This was a Pyrex dish -- and I know you have experience with them! I grabbed some oven mitts, planning to put the dish in the sink, but the minute the oven mitts touched the dish, they both burst into flames. Then I had no choice but to run out the back door and toss both the mitts and the dish in the snow bank, wherein the dish exploded!

So there I was standing behind the house, looking at a smoking hole in the snow as Dietrich is screaming his lungs out upstairs, and I thought, "Mom was right! I _AM_ going to manage to kill him before he's even a year old!"

But, as you know, he still lives. And I haven't set anything on fire or blown anything up since. Yet.

Take heart. You've got the most natural Mom in the world (yours) to model, and you've got me to tell you what NOT to do!

Glrr

Thanks Glrr. I needed that.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Yes, I said 'Aw' for every one of these things

We have already received so many adorable gifts from our friends and family that it's hard to imagine that we aren't completely prepared for this baby yet. Well, maybe not mentally, but certainly stuff-wise. I guess it's just hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that we'll need so much to welcome a tiny living being into our home. You know, necessities. Like adorable matching outfits.

Here is the beginning of our baby arsenal in no particular order:

P1012690
This is a magnetic frame for our ultrasound pictures.
We got it in the mail from my mom this week.


P1012695
This is the softest stuffed lamb that we got from Jerry's mom on Easter.


P1012697
This is the softest stuffed bunny that we got from one of my coworkers.


P1012698
We got these from Jer's sister, Amy, on Easter.


P1012700
This adorable duck stuff just makes me so ridiculously
happy when I look at it. We got it from my friend
Courtney, her mom, Maryann, and Court's husband, Matt.


P1012703
One of my favorite things to look through when I was growing up
was the pregnancy book my mom kept about me. Now I have
two to fill out for our child. The one on the left is from Maryann
and the one on the right is from my friend Timberly.


P1012705
We got these cute little jungle animal-themed things from
our friends Amy and Roger who also have welcomed us to
plenty of hand-me-downs from their two daughters.


P1012706
These also came from Amy and Roger and I think they're hilarious.
They're water resistant, so they wipe up easily. Genius. Because
it's kind of hard to read here, the one on the left says "leftovers."


P1012709
This is the one present that Jerry and I have purchased so far.
The bear on the left is my childhood bear, Brownie. I loved him so
much that there are places on him that all the fur has rubbed away and
the stuffing is flat. I wanted our child to have a similar bear, and I
couldn't believe I found such a close match. It absolutely thrilled me.

Incidentally, these photos were all taken in what will become the nursery. Right now it is a mostly empty room that we call "the office" because it has a lone desk with our computer on it and a plant stand. I'm trying to decide whether to keep the green wall color and accent with pink or blue, or just go for the gender-defining colors themselves. Fortunately, I have a few months to worry about all that, I guess.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Desperately trying to roll with the (abdominal) punches

Well, there goes my sanity again. At even the slightest worrisome sign, I immediately jump to the worst conclusions.

I've read on numerous pregnancy websites that increased milk intake can sometimes lead to bloating and gas, and man have I been drinking more milk lately. It just tastes so good.

So, as of this moment, I'm trying to blame the cow juice and not assume I've had another miscarriage.

This morning I couldn't Google "first trimester cramping" fast enough. Last night I experienced horrible pains while I was at work. It was like my entire abdomen was waging a war against me. My stomach hurt, my intestines were working overtime filtering what felt like gigantic air bubbles, and I had period-like cramps, too.

By the end of my shift, it was uncomfortable to walk, sit, stand and exist. I found myself running to the bathroom more frequently than even is normal for me at this point. Then I'd just sit there, trying to expel the gassy demons inside me while sort of praying at the same time. Even the least substantial farts felt like pure bliss, and I felt so thankful that most of the late night news crew is men and there were only three other women likely to walk into my nightmare. Fortunately for all of us, none of them did.

When I got home, I was worried out of my mind. The cramping continued throughout much of the night and even woke me up at one point it was so bad. My eyes and mouth shot open in pain in the darkness, but I somehow managed to fall back to sleep despite all of my worrying.

The good news is that I feel much better this morning. The better news is that I haven't experienced any bleeding or spotting at all.

But damned if any pregnancy websites really help me with this quandary. Some just dismiss it as a regular symptom of the first trimester. Others predict sudden and spontaneous miscarriage. (But don't bother worrying, there's nothing you can do about it.)

I did have painful cramping like this in the sixth week or so without consequence, so that's helping to keep me sane a little, too.

All I know is that the end of this month can't get here soon enough. May 1 marks the start of my second trimester and even though it's a small benchmark, it seems like a major destination at this point.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I can't even reread this for errors because it makes me sick

I have a love/hate relationship with food these days. Actually, no, it's more severe than that. It's a worship/despise relationship.

Granted, I've come a long way from my full-blown morning all-day sickness where even a whiff of the wrong scent could send me running to the nearest receptacle to dry heave over it until tears, if not my stomach's contents, came out.

And while we're on the subject, let me take a moment to say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for the women who battle that horrible feeling for the duration of their first trimester. Frankly, after experiencing it for two solid weeks, I questioned how the human race has thrived, let alone survived for all these centuries. I mean why would any woman voluntarily go through that more than once? Where even catching a hint of a coworker's perfume can force you to reach for the trash can under your desk.

Thankfully, those days seem to be behind me, but I'm also a long way from my "normal" pre-pregnancy appetite. Or what was normal to me, anyway. You know, mowing down dill pickle spears like a wood chipper.

Now my food intake is much more delicate. I have to pay attention to my gut -- literally. If I'm iffy on even the idea of a particular food, I need to stay away from it. And, strangely, things I used to love, now I can't even stomach the idea of, let alone actually put a forkful of it near my mouth. Other things I couldn't tolerate have become completely palatable.

Take ice cream, for example. If there ever was a food I could live on if it actually had somewhat decent nutritional content, ice cream would've been it. Now? Can't touch the stuff. The thought of that, ugh ... I can't even think about it. Don't make me.

But salsa? Forget about it, the hotter the better. Before I would dip a teensie corner of my tortilla chip into the most mild of sauces. Now the chip is merely a vehicle to get piles of the hottest stuff into my mouth. And I don't even flinch.

Our grocery list has changed, too. These days it has bagels and cream cheese on it. Why? No clue. Haven't wanted a bagel in years. Now I need one. Every morning. Before my cereal. And my afternoon snack. Then lunch. Then my nap.

I don't know if I have cravings, per se, but I do know that once I get an idea in my head about what I want, be it gnocchi with piles of chunky tomato sauce, a cheese enchilada from my favorite Mexican restaurant or a strawberry fruit smoothie, I will not stop thinking about that thing until I have it. Okay, yeah, they're cravings.

And when I finally have that food? Finally taste that deliciously satisfying first bite? It's like I'm experiencing the perks of having taste buds for the first time ever. It is so good that it's not unusual for me to reenact the diner scene from "When Harry Met Sally." Only I'm really enjoying my meal that much. Those enchiladas taste THAT GOOD.

But it's a delicate situation. I know the precise moment the craving has been satiated. When I feel like I've had enough, I honestly can't take another bite. If I do, the meal that had me nearly groaning in pleasure just moments earlier could find its way fighting to re-emerge. It's so on and off that sometimes I have to physically cover the food with a napkin so I can't see it. Other times I actually have to get up and walk away. I'll clean the kitchen later when I can stomach the sight of scraping the rest of my bagel down the garbage disposal.

At the very least, this new experience with food makes for quite a daily adventure. Sometimes I can spend an hour making an entire meal and not want to eat it. Other times I'm running to the grocery store in the middle of the afternoon for ground beef because nothing in our overstuffed refrigerator looks ingestible. Which also requires sending Jerry to get a new propane tank even though it's 30 degrees outside because I want a burger. From the grill. Today. Right now. With two slices of Velveeta. TWO.

I wonder what awaits me today.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A bladder matter

If a woman's pregnant body was a math equation, I think it would look something like this:

Boobs > Bladder

In other words, the boobs are directly related to, but inversely proportional to, the bladder.

Or, in other, other words: I think part of my bladder has inexplicably found its way into my boobs. Or something.

Because I certainly can't explain all the peeing. I mean, where is all this liquid coming from? I don't remember drinking enough throughout the day to send me running to the toilet every 62 seconds. It's like as soon as my bladder detects that even the slightest amount of space has been filled, my brain receptors tell me it's time to go to the bathroom. Again. Right now. If not sooner. Or you'll find yourself in a very embarrassing situation and people will start calling you Miss Piss Pants behind your back.

Once I'm there, I get a few blissful seconds of relief. But that relief feels good. Unzipping-a-too-tight-pair-of-jeans good. Taking-off-those sky-high-heels-that-you've-worn-all-day good. Sitting-down-on-a-bench-at-a-mall-to-eat-a-warm-salty-pretzel-after-a-long-afternoon-of-shopping good.

But as soon as I stand up and zip up, the clock starts ticking again. I know I'm on borrowed bladder time and that the toilet and I will be seeing each other again soon. So soon that it's ridiculous to flush every time that I go. If I did, not only would someone from the local water authority show up at my front door asking to check whether a pipe burst, but I'm pretty sure whatever reservoir our community runs off of would dry up. It would spark a huge investigation because all the fish and aquatic life would die, then an angry mob would pound on my door demanding an explanation. And all I would be able to say is, "Hold on a sec, I've gotta pee."

So I flush, on average, every four times or so. And that seems to amount to one non-pregnant trip to the bathroom. Of course, this only applies to my own toilets at home. When I'm in public, I flush every time -- because I don't want people whispering the words "forgot" and "flush" behind my back. To hell with water conservation. I have a reputation to uphold. One that involves basic personal hygiene.

The nights are the worst. If I didn't get up at least two times to stumble to the bathroom, I'd end up having to change my sheets every day. That, and depending on where my dog has wedged his tiny body, the morning might require some puppy shampoo, too.

So when I start dreaming about waterfalls or swimming pools or whatever it is that wakes me up with an immediate urge to expel my bladder, I oblige. I battle grogginess, darkness and door frames, because otherwise I would find myself asking a sales associate somewhere if they make plastic sheets for queen-sized beds. A, uh, friend of mine wants to know.

And during these frequent bathroom jaunts, I can't help but wonder where my bladder capacity went. I know there's the scientific explanation that my body is now a whirling pool of fluid that handles twice the amount that it used to in order to sustain this new life I'm carrying. I also know that this new life is encased in my uterus, which is neighbors with my bladder.

But all that seems so, I don't know, mumbo jumbo-ey.

I prefer to think that part of my bladder migrated up to my chest cavity and took up residence in my breasts. Because God knows my cups runneth over these days. And that is an explanation I can wrap my head around, if not my bra.

Monday, April 9, 2007

A few moments of quiet

I'm torn. Toby is still so exhausted from running around with our niece and nephews all day yesterday that he actually stayed in bed when I got up this morning -- an absolute first.

This chain of events frees me to write in peace, without a little dog jamming his face between the desk and my knees and pawing at my legs incessantly until I pick him up. It also frees me from having to type around a 13-pound body on my lap while it stretches to sniff at my orange juice glass, then gives up and circles and circles until it finds a spot to collapse and make my legs go numb. And it later frees me from having to play tug-of-war with my feet when he eventually brings over his stuffed rainbow trout and wants me to step on it while he tries to free it with his teeth. Over. and. over. again.

And all of this would be great if I didn't want to do a picture post today of some of the photos I took during our Easter celebration yesterday at my mother-in-law's house. Because, the thing is, my camera is downstairs. And if I even think about walking down the steps to get it, even entertain the thought for more than just a fleeting moment, Toby will spring to life.

Why? Because I might be going to the kitchen. And that is where the food is. Or, worse, I might be going to the door. To abandon him. Forever and ever. And ever.

So, here I sit, trying to take advantage of this rare Toby-free morning, and all I can think to post about is those Easter photos. And maybe how the new pastor at Jerry's church somehow worked in a story about demons and hell during her, um, interesting sermon about the rebirth of Christ.

Aw hell (and demons), I can't sit upstairs all day.

Let the crazy begin.

P1012675
This photo will forever make me laugh. Why? Because moments
earlier, Jerry had taken a photo with me. And he is so used to sliding
his hand down my back and grabbing my ass during posed photos
that he momentarily forgot he was standing next to his mother.


P1012677
Little Miss Emily got a rainbow butterfly outfit from
the Easter Bunny. And apparently butterflies need to
fly. Off the stairwell banister at grandma's house.


P1012681
This was where I personally witnessed the fastest chocolate gorging
of all time. Not even professional timed eaters could've beat these kids.


P1012686
Jer's mom made a bunny cake and I made "blondies," a take-off
of brownies only the chocolate is in the pastel M&Ms. Mmm.


P1012687_2
Ben discovered he could decorate his head with plastic eggs.
I nearly fell out of my chair laughing trying to take this picture.


P1012671
And here's Jerry in the most bargain shirt and tie I've ever purchased.
The tie was 40 percent off and I had a free $10 store grand-opening
coupon. The shirt was originally $52, but it was on clearance for
(drum roll please): $8! I know, I know. I amaze even myself sometimes.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Toby

Last night, Jerry and a few of his friends went to a Mushroom Head metal show. I knew at least the couch would be filled when I woke up this morning and apparently so did Toby.

At 6:30 a.m. when Toby felt he wanted to be let outside, he shoved his front paws into my teeth and yawned his huge trap right around the bridge of my nose, alerting me to his decision.

But when I opened the bedroom door, instead of rolling around on the carpet for a few minutes and checking to see that all of his limbs are functioning properly like he usually does, Toby shot down the front stairwell, also unusual considering we use the back stairwell to get to the back door so he can run in the back yard.

When I rounded the corner, I found out why. There was Toby standing directly on the chest of our guest, Voz, head bowed, staring intently into his face.

"Hi Toby," Voz managed in a groggy fog.

"Oh hell Voz, I'm so sorry!" I said, flying down the steps to pluck Toby off his otherwise would-be-sleeping body.

And as I carried my overly inquisitive dog to the back door, I couldn't help but think that the situation would've been much funnier if I had gotten a chance to don Toby with the purple fuzzy bunny ears I have laying around somewhere.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Pregnancy Jerryisms

After I demanded that we get Mexican food immediately, if not sooner:
"I'm going to want to keep you pregnant forever. All you want to do is eat and sleep. It's like you've turned into me! ... And I'm awesome."

While browsing through a baby store because we just couldn't help ourselves:
"Oh man, some of these toys are so COOL! ... Um, do we have to wait until the baby's born to get them? I mean, we should probably test them out first for safety. Or whatever."

When he spotted a little dress embroidered with "Daddy's Little Girl":
"Yeah, don't tell anybody, but I guess having a girl wouldn't be completely horrible."

Friday, April 6, 2007

Annual egg-dying debacle

Last night, we decided to decorate Easter eggs. Jerry had purchased two dye kits: a SpongeBob-themed one because, oh, he completely abhors the show, and a crazy awesome paint-it-yourself one that made my creations look so awesome that I momentarily considered quitting my job and selling boiled egg art for a living.

As usual, Jerry announced that he would be making an egg for "everyone," which usually means he busts out the wax pencil, scrawls a name on an egg and dunks it in a color he thinks is indicative of that individual. Toby got orange and a creepy lamb sticker that sort of looked like him if he had an enormous coat of wool. I got a blue one that was supposed to be purple, but the dye sucked. Then he made a general one for both of our moms that actually used the blue dye.

When he put a fourth one down and announced that everyone was taken care of, I figured he had made one for himself. Instead, I looked at our drying spot -- a cooling rack with a cookie tray underneath -- to see he had labeled a yellow egg "FETUS."

"Aw, of course, fetus!" I said.

But he couldn't leave it at that.

"Maybe I should make that one better," he said. "It's too boring."

Then he proceeded to pick up the fetus egg and drop it on the table, causing the shell to crack on impact.

"YOU JUST DROPPED OUR BABY!" I yelled, laughing.

A very concerned look spread across his face. "Aw, man!"

"It's a good thing you never had to carry around an egg in school for home-ec class or you would've failed!"

"Now what? Do I eat that one and make another one for the fetus?"

"YOU WANT TO EAT OUR FETUS?!"

"Wait, I ..."

"AND YOU DO REALIZE THAT YOU CAN'T JUST MAKE ANOTHER ONE IF YOU DROP THIS ONE, RIGHT? I MEAN, IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!"

I guess I just couldn't resist having a little fun at his expense. I mean, the situation was just too full of analogies not to take advantage.

As is tradition, we stood back and assessed our creations when we were finished and picked out our favorite egg.

The fetus egg won hands down.

Flaws and all.

P1012652
This photo just needs a thought bubble: Decisions, decisions ...


P1012660
Toby was being so good that we let him sit at the table with us.


P1012666
Our two-dozen creations.


P1012668
My bargain river rocks.


P1012669
Our nut bowl is all dressed up for Easter!


P1012653
And I know two Toby photos might be a bit of an overkill,
but this one came out too funny not to share.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Brain Barf

I seem to have quite a few nuggets floating around in my brain that probably could be developed into individual posts of their own if I tried really hard, but, um, today is my day off and I just feel like emptying my head so I can think more clearly. Maybe I'll call it Brain Barf.
  • It is singlehandedly my fault that it is snowing in central Pennsylvania in APRIL. Why? Because I took my snow scraper out of my car and stored it in the basement a few days ago. So apparently Mother Nature decided to throw back her head and have a good laugh at my expense. ... You win, madam. You win.
  • To decorate our house for spring, I bought some lovely faux flowers (faux sounds so much prettier than plastic) to put in the big glass vase in our dining room. Well, without anything to anchor them in, they were falling all over. So yesterday at Target I found some beautiful polished river rocks. Then I looked at the price. Normally I am a huge Target fan. In fact, I think heaven must look a lot like the inside of a Target store: clean, bright and uber trendy. But Target wanted $7.99(!) for a teeny box of rocks. So I gave the rocks the middle finger and went to JoAnn Fabrics. There I found the same rocks for $1.99 each. You let me down Target. You let me down.
  • Having satellite radio still rocks my world. FCC-deemed "naughty" words aren't ever deleted out of my favorite songs, and the sheer volume of stations is amazing. I can almost always find something I like. And rocking out to 80's music when the mood strikes is so ridiculously fun for me. I still check out my local stations, particularly Jerry's, but I heard something the other day that absolutely infuriated me. Our pop station was playing Fall Out Boy's "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arm's Race." For those of you not familiar with the lyrics, they are: "This ain't a scene, it's a God damn arms race." Well, when it got to the hook, the station bleeped out God. GOD! Not damn. Damn was okay. But put God in front of it and GOOD GRACIOUS THE WORLD IS GOING TO END. This makes me want to kidnap a religious fanatic, tie them to a chair in my basement next to my snow scraper and force them to listen to the unedited version of that song over and over until their ears bleed.
  • I don't usually talk about work, but this is something that has stayed with me for days and is too good not to share. After my column ran in the paper, a reader called to congratulate me on my pregnancy. She left the most beautiful message I've ever received in my entire life. On it, she explained that she had a miscarriage when she was about my age, and her doctors told her that she and her husband would never have children. Ten years later, they were blessed with a daughter who is now 48 and has two daughters of her own. She explained that never giving up hope is what kept her going and because of her loss, she knew to cherish every moment of her child's life because, to her, it was so precious. Of course, by the end, my eyes were leaking like a faucet. And she only left her name, so I can't call and thank her. Instead, I'll do it here. Thank you Mrs. Crawford. You touched me more than you'll ever know.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Pass me the tissues before I kick your ass

I've never been much of a cryer. In fact, I used to think my tear ducts were defunct. It took extreme situations like getting dropped off at college for the first time or breaking a finger to get me to shed even the slightest tear.

But now? Now? With all these stupid girl hormones coursing through me? Forget about it. I cried watching WRESTLING. Yes, wrestling. As in professional wrestling where steroid-laden men hurt themselves on purpose.

But one of my favorites was bleeding. Bleeding real blood. Yes, Jerry has explained to me numerous times that these men load up on aspirin to thin their blood before a match, causing it to leak out of their face with gusto when they get slammed in the forehead with a metal folding chair. He has also explained that they get split open so many times that it takes little to nothing to do it. And besides, he says, they're getting compensated enough financially to wipe up the mess with hundred dollar bills.

And yet, even knowing all that, Shawn Michaels was hurt. And before you get all, "Woa, um, Kelly? You watch wrestling? Enough to have a favorite?" on me, I can explain. Jerry is an avid fan. I would say he's a rabid fan, but I don't want him to sideline me to the ground and put me in a sleeper hold.

Anyway, Jer took me to a live show when we first started dating, and with his radio connections, we got to escort his station's contest winners backstage to meet a few wrestlers.

Well, I couldn't have been less interested. I mean, I wouldn't have been able to pick out any of these people if they passed me on the street, so I was the only one backstage without that crazy obsessed fan gleam in their eyes. Not to mention I was the only one with a vagina.

So when I met this one wrestler and he blatantly started hitting on me in front of my future husband, not only was Jerry pumped that one of his childhood heroes wanted to sleep with his girlfriend, but I sort of thought it was cool that someone famous thought I was hot.

Here's where my memory gets a little fuzzy. I thought the person hitting on me was Shawn Michaels. But I guess it was someone else who looked like Shawn Michaels. Either way, even though we were sitting ringside and I should've been able to discern whether it was the same person I had shaken hands with moments earlier, I remember watching Shawn's match thinking, "That guy totally loves me." And, thus, my favorite wrestler was born. Even though, um, I guess it wasn't him.

And as our relationship progressed -- mine and Jerry's, not me and the wrestler -- I became more knowledgeable about pro-wrestling. And even though I have a hard time signing up for every pay-per-view, it's Jerry's "favorite day of the whole year." I mean, "The undertaker is 14-0 for Wrestlemania and he's going head-to-head with Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship!"

With that kind of a buildup (and Jerry selling it by saying it in a pretend crazy wrestler voice and pumping his arms like he was the one going up for the title), I agreed to watch it with him.

Everything was going fine until Shawn started bleeding. Not only am I squeamish about that sort of thing, but it was almost as if I could feel his pain. Not the physical pain. A deep emotional pain of having to earn a living by getting hurt every week on national television.

So I cried.

And when Jerry asked in his oh-so-concerned way, "What the hell is wrong with you?" instead of explaining the intricacies of how a long career of wrestling could foster some deep-seeded emotional issues, I somehow got to the root of the problem and voiced it accordingly.

"I'M PREGNANT!"

It was screamed in sort of a "DON'T FUCK WITH ME OR I'LL DO WAY WORSE TO YOU THAN MR. KENNEDY CHOKE SLAMMING THE EDGE THROUGH A METAL LADDER OFF A 20-FOOT DROP!"

And I'm pretty sure I got my point across: Don't make fun of my tears that I can't explain or prevent or I'll literally bite your face off the same way a female praying mantis eats her mate.

Now go get me a tissue.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My little lightning bug

When the nurse ordered an immediate ultrasound after I told her about my sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms, flashbacks of all of my previous experiences cluttered my mind.

I had four of them last time: the first that detected no heartbeat, the second on a higher-resolution machine that also detected no heartbeat, the third a week later that showed no fetal growth, and the fourth in the emergency room after my surgery looking for blood clots.

Somehow I managed to put one foot in front of the other and walk into the same room with the higher-resolution equipment and hope that history didn't repeat itself.

The doctor seemed frustrated that she had to leave another patient to tend to me, but kindly mentioned that she understood after having a miscarriage of her own.

I hadn't realized I was holding my breath until she announced there was a heartbeat. I literally shot up on the examination table and she had to tell me to lay back down and be still. She had explained that she would gather the data she needed then turn the monitor to show me, but those few minutes seemed like days. Meanwhile, Jerry was getting a good look over her shoulder, and even in the darkness, he couldn't hide his joy.

When she turned the monitor, it feels strange to say, but I immediately felt connected to that little bean. And although I hate the reason behind it, it was amazing to see our embryo in that much detail. Most expectant mothers never get to experience anything like that during their entire pregnancy, let alone in the first few weeks.

The equipment was 4-D and the doctor swiveled all around the embryo, showing every curve and bump from the side, around its back and up the other side. Although it only slightly resembles a human form at eight weeks, she pointed out every feature as she went, explaining exactly what we were looking at.

The heartbeat was amazing. It reminded me a lot of a lightning bug. Only instead of glowing uniformly, it glowed in waves from the chest to the head, thumping wildly and coursing through its tiny body.

The head was easily the same size as the rest of its body and had dark indentations where the eyes will be. There were no appendages yet, but little emerging bumps indicated where the arms are starting to form.

The spine was a narrow ridge that hadn't flattened out into any sort of a back yet. It was the thinnest part of the body, then it widened out tremendously to support a bulging chest cavity and head.

We even saw the placenta and umbilical cord and she examined my ovaries which gave enough detail for her to determine that the egg came from the right one. Then she made a joke that our baby would grow up to be a Republican, and Jerry said, "Well it can just stay in there, then."

I didn't want it to end. I could've stared at that screen all afternoon. Fortunately, she printed out a few pictures for us to take home that now have a prominent place on the front of our fridge.

My regular eight-week exam was yesterday. And although I didn't get the good equipment this time, I know I won't ever tire of seeing that little neon green light swoosh around on the computer monitor. No matter how blurry.

And I don't think I'll ever look at lightning bugs in the same way ever again.

P1012650_3
Baby, meet the Internet. Internet, meet our baby.
(And somewhere, 20+ years from now, a shrink is listening.)

Fruit cocktail

Today I had an insatiable urge for fruit.

How insatiable you ask?

I just got home from work and inhaled an entire pound of strawberries over the sink. AN ENTIRE POUND.

And, sadly, I almost started in on the fresh pineapple, but I figured Jerry just might kill me if he didn't get a bite of either.

That and I'd hate to experience that fruit cocktail out the other end.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Going public

I always thought I was good at keeping secrets. Other people's secrets? No problem. My own? Forget it.

I can't tell you the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders just from being able to talk freely about what's going on with me. Many of you are not alone in making the assumption I was pregnant before I announced it. While one of my coworkers was flipping out saying, "I can't believe it!" another said, "Oh, I can. I've known for weeks." And my friend Courtney, who I finally broke down on the phone with, confessing all of my fears before my appointment, said she knew something was up because I always sounded like I had much more to say.

And I know it's still early. I'm only 8 weeks, 2 days (but who's counting?) into my pregnancy. I know we should've waited until the end of the first trimester to start telling people -- and that was our goal -- but I NEVER would've made it. Never.

So this weekend was cathartic for me in more ways than one. I was finally able to tell most of my family and friends, my coworkers, the entire readership of my newspaper and the Internet. I'd say that's pretty much ripping the band-aid off.

Now it's time to go public with the few things I had written privately throughout the four weeks I had to keep my big news a secret. I hope it makes up for my lack of posting the past few days. I've put them in chronological order from when we found out to an anecdote from the waiting room of our first doctor's appointment. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Whispered conversation while we were in the obstetrics waiting room

"Oooooh. SCANDAL!"

"What?"

"So I was wondering about the high level of PDA from those two over there and then I figured it out."

"Oh?"

"Only one of them has a wedding ring on. ... She's his pregnant mistress."

"Jerry, oh my God. When you're that pregnant, your fingers swell and you have to take your rings off."

"So even your fingers are gonna get fat?"

"Yes."

...

...

"Can I call you fatty fingers?"

"Only if you want me to stick my fatty fingers in your eye sockets."

"IF THEY'LL FIT! ... FATTY FINGERS!" (erupts into laughter)

"Okay, I'll just use our steak knives instead."

...

...

"Um. Point taken."

This week's newspaper column

Ever since I saw that little plus sign on the pregnancy test, I've been wondering how I would tell people. Or, rather, when I would feel comfortable telling people.

There's nothing like a previous miscarriage to put things into perspective. Even though our little embryo is developing rapidly every second of every day, I know it's fragile. That life can be taken away with as little explanation as, "It just wasn't right."

The months after my surgery were difficult. My body healed much more quickly than my heart, but eventually, my husband, Jerry, and I were ready to entertain the idea of children again.

Although we wouldn't admit aloud that we were trying, it became difficult just seeing other new parents -- especially the ones screaming at their toddlers in front of us at the grocery store. I wanted to pull them aside and whisper, "Be grateful."

I guess it just didn't seem fair. I don't smoke. I don't drink. I exercise. I eat right. And yet, in the end, none of it mattered.

So this time around, I was much more cautious and guarded. We didn't tell anyone right away, except for our parents, and we swore them to secrecy.

As much as a part of me wanted to climb on the roof of my house and shout the news to anyone who could hear, another part of me remembered the pain of losing our first pregnancy, and it forced me to keep my feelings in check. I tried not to get too attached to something I knew I had little control over.

But, oh, I got attached. We both did. Within a few short weeks, we had names picked out, mentally decorated the nursery and even started imagining what our little bundle might look like.

Reality set in again when I got sick and my pregnancy symptoms started to wane.

Sure, I was grateful that the scent of Jerry's daily tuna sandwich didn't send me running for fresh air, but a sudden loss of symptoms was what tipped us off to trouble last time.

My heart broke. I couldn't concentrate on anything until our appointment a few days later.

When a familiar nurse greeted us with a hearty "Congratulations!" it took everything not to burst into tears. I told her about my suspicions, and, because of my history, she immediately ordered an ultrasound.

Jerry accompanied me into the exam room, and a doctor there explained matter-of-factly that she would be checking the "viability of the fetus."

With little fanfare, she announced there was a heartbeat, but I had enough enthusiasm for everyone in the entire building as I screamed out with joy.

When she turned the monitor to show me our blinking blob and pointed out the head, eyes and arm buds, an inexplicable range of emotion washed over me.

I know it's still early. I know we have months and months to go, but my faith has been renewed.

I have three odd-looking ultrasound photos to prove it.

I'm pregnant. And now I can say it loud and proud.