Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If only we still had leftover wedding cake

When I told people how we would be celebrating our anniversary, they looked at me quizzically, and often followed with the question, "Really?"

Sure, home renovation doesn't sound like the most appealing task to some, but it's a favorite activity in our house. Besides, the changes we had planned were in effort to make room for our anticipated family addition. And if that's not exciting for first-time parents, I don't know what is.

If someone had asked me and Jerry on our wedding day what we would be doing two years from now, we couldn't possibly have predicted it. And call me cheesy, but I think it's kind of romantic that we honored the day by painting our baby's room.

Well, and the office.

Jerry had been saying for weeks, months even, that we should reconsider making the front bedroom into the nursery instead of the office. But I don't think I ever really heard him. Or, more accurately, listened.

That room was finished. We ripped it apart less than six months ago, tore down the drop ceiling, replastered the walls, repainted everything and redecorated. It was perfect. All we had to do was call the cable company to install a wire for our Internet access and shove the desk in the corner.

But the day before we had planned to paint, I took a hard look at both rooms and tried to envision where everything would go. Then I got out my tape measure and realized the desk would be a little tight in the front room. Well, a lot tight. Like barely fit tight.

I'm usually really good at understanding spacial relationships. Give me 50 random dirty dishes and I can make everything fit into a dishwasher with ease. I can pack a car to perfection. In the same way, I can look at an empty room and tell you with surprising detail what will fit where and how to maximize space.

Not the desk though. It was much deeper than I had realized. So then I started rethinking everything. I walked back and fourth between the front and back rooms enough that I should've worn a trench in the carpet. Then I stood in each of the doorways, hand to chin in contemplation, trying to re-envision everything.

Jerry was right. The front room should be the nursery, the back room should stay as the office.

Unfortunately, that meant a lot more work. Now, instead of painting one room, we would be painting two.

But we did it. Thanks to a new non-toxic, odorless "green" environmentally friendly brand of paint, I was able to help. I even called my doctor again just to be sure.

We packed all of the upstairs furniture into our master bedroom, primed and painted both rooms.

Then we celebrated our hard work and two years of marriage with a seafood extravaganza: stuffed mushrooms, crab cakes, king crab legs, red grapes, and a big loaf of Tuscan bread with olives, marinated red pepper strips and huge hunks of fresh mozzarella.

After cleaning up our dirty dishes and the paint mess, we topped off the evening with pudding pops in our backyard. Sitting in the cool night air watching the lightning bugs was such a rewarding end to a fantastic day.

And even though Toby was exhausted from keeping an eye on all of our activity and not being able to nap, he frantically paced underneath the table between us hoping to time it just right and be able to lick our popsicle sticks as we finished.

Frozen treats are his favorite.

In the year that we've owned our house, this room has been a mostly
empty mess consisting of a desk, a plant stand and our clutter du jour.

When we primed the walls, Jerry spelled out my name with the roller.

And he didn't forget Toby, either.

The true sign of Internet addicts? Making accommodations to leave
your computer running in the middle of the room. After we finished priming
Sunday night, Jer hopped in the shower and beat me to the desk chair.

Apparently it was exhausting trying to keep an eye on our progress.
Here is Toby, with a splotch of white primer on his back, taking
advantage of the bedding from the guest room being on the floor.

I would like the record to show that I'm always right. Jerry paraded
for the lighter shade of green and I caved at the last minute. But when
we got home and put a little on the wall, it looked a lot like neon ogre piss.
So Jer went back to the store to get the green my original gut instinct told
me would be perfect. And, um, IT TOTALLY IS PERFECT. And,
therefore, by attribution, I AM PERFECT AND ALWAYS RIGHT.

Jerry painting what will now be the baby's room.
I've decided to wait and post pictures until we have
all of the nursery furniture and it's mostly complete.

The office/guest room turned out amazing. We already knew this paint
color was perfect because, um, we used it in the front room six months ago.

It now feels like an actual room for the first time since we've moved in.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Year 2

Dear Jer,

Today is our two-year wedding anniversary. I'm not sure how it happened so quickly because I remember the details of that day so vividly that it could've been last week. And, yet, at other times, it feels as though we've been married a lifetime. I've wrapped my world so completely around yours that the thought of what today would've been like if we hadn't met makes me feel unwhole somehow.

Sure, we have our moments. We wouldn't be human if we didn't. You know, times like when you're driving and you leave the windshield wipers running at full blast after the rain has tapered off and my head wants to explode as I mentally count how many motorized swipes it takes you to finally realize that you're dealing with a dry surface. Or, you know, the times you have to control your eyes from permanently rolling into the back of your skull when I ask that you put certain glasses in certain spots in the dishwasher just to appease my neurotic tendencies.

And then there are our knock-em-down, drag-em-out fights -- usually over something completely minuscule, but seemingly important enough that both of us have to prove that we're right on that particular topic. I like to think that for passionate people like us, we need a few fireworks on occasion.

Besides, they never last very long. What I love most is that right when we're both seemingly at the end of our rope, somehow we start laughing. The apologies come soon after, but the insane laughter where we start playfully making fun of each other's arguments is my favorite. It's like intense speed-round fighting with a huge payoff at the end where we finally see where the other person is coming from, mixed in with a laughing-induced ab workout.

That said, I am forever willing to put up with things like overused windshield wiper blades and you wasting energy while standing with an open fridge as you take your sweet-ass time eating a whole pickle. Because even though I pick on you about those things constantly, I try to make sure I tell you how much I appreciate the good stuff, too.

Like the little notes you stick on the kitchen cabinets some mornings before you leave for work. Or how you sneak up behind me while I'm making a sandwich and give me a great big bear hug. Or how you automatically start rubbing my feet when I stretch my legs out while we're watching TV on the couch.

Then there are the big things. How you constantly tell me you love me. How you make me feel like I am the most important person in your life and the only girl alive. And how you prove time and time again that you would do absolutely anything for me.

I can only hope that I make you feel even half as valued as you make me feel when I walk into the home we've created to find you and Toby waiting to greet me. Those are some of my favorite moments of every day.

And how do you say thank you for that? Especially on the "clock" anniversary? I know we agreed not to get each other gifts because anniversaries are about celebrating each other, not putting that love into a monetary possession, but if I could, I'd buy you a whole Best Buy store. THAT's how much I care. (And just THINK how many of those gadgets come with internal clocks.)

I know in the grand scheme of things we're still newlyweds, so I guess it's not silly for me to hope that we still feel the same way about each other on July 30, 2055. I can't wait for the weddings we'll attend that summer. I envision us cleaning house with bouquets on all of the anniversary dances.

But who knows what the future holds? Just yesterday you and I were remarking how much our lives have changed in the past two years. They probably won't ever change that drastically in such a short period of time ever again.

I guess I don't care where we are or who exactly we become -- just as long as you're the one constant in my day-to-day life. And that we sometimes wake up holding hands like we do now.

Happy anniversary, Jer.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

The reality of my due date

Our good friends Jen and David just purchased their first house a few days ago, and in the ensuing craziness that usually follows all of that paperwork, they asked to borrow our computer for a few moments Saturday afternoon to print out and sign one more addendum for their real estate agent.

When they came over, I led them up to our home office/soon-to-be nursery/catch-all room to explain the few quirks with our sometimes finicky printer.

And, being that it is in the process of becoming a little girl's room, there are signs of that change all around -- mostly in the form of tiny pink things and a growing collection of children's books.

Jen, of course, owning a set of ovaries, stopped abruptly at the door and started fingering all of the little onesies we've collected, exclaiming how cute they are.

David, of course, owning a set of testicles, tried to feign interest.

"So when are you due again?" he asked.

"November 10th."

His eyes grew wide. "Oh man, that's a SATURDAY."

"Wow. You're good," I said. "And I thought I was counting down a little prematurely. You were able to pick the day of the week out of your back pocket. I'm impressed."

"Well, it's a Penn State game day," he said.

And suddenly it all made sense. Around here, when I tell women I'm due in November, they immediately eye my belly and make a snap judgement as to whether or not it is an acceptable size for how far along I am. When I tell men I'm due in November, they automatically think of football season and how my going into labor might possibly affect a GAME DAY.


"How's Jerry feel about that?" David asked, smiling.

To his credit, David worships his alma matter. And, like many other PSU grads around the country, a big part of that worship centers around the football stadium in the form of season tickets and tailgating. There is a saying around here that Penn State fans bleed blue and white. And if there's anyone who if cut open started leaking a stream of those colors (and maybe even burst fourth in the fight song as if it was bottled up in his heart), it would be David.

"Well, I'm pretty sure I don't care how he feels about it," I said with a smirk.

"And if you're a little late, you might go the next day during a Steeler's game."

Nevermind what I might be doing. That I might be mid-crap when I start feeling labor pains. Or maybe driving on the highway when the first pangs strike and the shock is so great that I have to really concentrate not to wreck my car into a concrete bridge abutment, taking out my one mode of transportation to get to the hospital for help delivering an 8-pound being OUT OF MY VAGINA.

Yeah, THAT would be no big deal. But if my water breaks right as Troy Polamalu catches an interception? UNACCEPTABLE. I might as well scoop it up and put it back in. The birth of our first child can wait until the buzzer rings at the end of the fourth quarter.

I mean, my uterus should at least try to be considerate.

And I might as well promise now to do my best to bleed blue and white when the doctors opt to give me an episiotomy.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lincoln lets me sleep like a log

There's a new love in my life. We met a week ago and we've been sleeping together ever since.

But don't worry, Jerry doesn't mind. In fact, he encouraged it. Insisted even.

It's my body pillow.

I named him Lincoln.

We found each other at a giant home supply store in the bedding section. Although marketed to college students, Lincoln practically jumped out of the bin screaming "I'm up for the challenge of supporting a pregnant belly!" Or maybe he just sensed that he would have less of a chance of getting bar stank and vodka-laced puke on him at our house. Or actually having his pillowcase washed more than once a year. Either way, I'm pretty sure the attraction was mutual.

But he was a little pricey. With a new baby on the way, all seeming frivolities suddenly dry up. If Jerry thought I had an insane lockdown on our spending habits before, it's now become as tight as an isolation cell in Alcatraz: what comes in, rarely goes out.

And even though sleeping has become more than uncomfortable now that I have boobs for the first time in my life and a tiny being inside my belly who prefers to dance when I'm ready to rest, spending 30 bucks on a pillow just seemed ridiculous when we have piles of them sitting unused in our guest room.

I figured I had made it this far without a special pillow. I could make it another three months and three weeks. (But who's counting?)

Jerry, however, grabbed Lincoln and headed for the cash registers. On the way, he yelled back instructions for me to pick out the pillowcase color I wanted before he stomped back and selected the ugliest one there just to make me twitch.

"Because I know you'll be picky about that even though it won't be visible," he said, laughing.

Psh. Like he knows me or something.


Beautiful soft blue pillowcase it is then.

When we got home later that afternoon, I was exhausted and ready for a nap. I pulled Lincoln out of his protective plastic bag, tossed him on the bed and laid down next to him on my left side, flopping my right leg over top.

Bliss. Pure bliss.

All of the increasing pressure on my spreading hip joints and knees was relieved. My belly felt supported for the first time in months and even my boobs got an extra little lift. I hadn't intended to fall right asleep. I wasn't under the covers. I hadn't even loosened my ponytail. But I was out before Jerry could even ask for my reaction.

Since then, Lincoln and I have become inseparable. Not only was he worth every penny simply because of the type of sleep he affords me, but he has provided a few added services, as well. I like to think of them as little bonuses.

His mere presence on the bed often keeps Toby out from between my ankles. Toby now prefers to burrow under the sheets and rest his head on Lincoln, instead. And, my favorite bonus, Jerry doesn't have as much room to stir, leaving the covers miraculously in place all through the night.

Yes, Lincoln is the perfect bed companion. He always gives, never takes. He doesn't mind being passed around. He's very clearly comfortable with men, women and even animals -- or even all three at once.

Pregnant or not, everyone should have a Lincoln in their life.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Novelle in shorts

Because of traveling for the wedding, being sick and gobbling up a 759-page book in two consecutive days, there have been a lot of little things that I haven't been able to write about recently. Blogging has become such a part of my life that I sort of take mental notes when something happens that I want to post, but sometimes it piles up and eventually I lose grasp of why it was so important to me in the first place.

I have managed to hold onto a few tidbits over the last couple days, so I'm going to try and regurgitate as much as I can before I lose another golden nugget. Like a hilarious Jerryism muttered under his breath while we drove to Harrisburg. It was so good that I actually wrote it down on the back of our directions ... then promptly threw it out when we got home. Damn. That one had me laughing for hours, too. And I haven't the slightest clue even what it was about anymore. Something spurred by road rage, I'm sure.

So, here it is, a race to empty my mental notes before they drain out of my still-iffy left ear:
  • Did you know that pregnancy really is 10 months? I'm not sure who came up with that whole 9-month lie thing, but I could strangle them. Every book and website is different, so I've strictly been going by the calendar: I got pregnant at the beginning of February, which would make July my sixth month. But when I asked the nurse what month I'm considered to be in, she sort of looked confused and answered "I guess five" -- even though we were there for our SIXTH four-week checkup. And if you go by weeks, a pregnancy is considered full-term at 40 weeks. How many weeks in a month? Usually four. Forty divided by four? That's math even I can handle: ten. TEN MONTHS. Please pass it along.
  • We got another glimpse of our growing daughter and, yes, she's still a girl. Jerry made sure to ask that she still had "a hamburger and not a hot dog," to which I envisioned him someday saying, "Wipe your hamburger, honey," and then having one very confused, wide-eyed child when we fired up the grill later that night. She is so big now that the nurse globbed the warm ultrasound jelly all the way up to my ribcage, and she had a hard time getting a full fetal image on the screen. As I expected, our daughter was not cooperating and was still lying spine-up, making a clear image of her heart more than a little difficult to obtain. In a last-ditch effort, the nurse sort of pushed the wand against my belly in rapid succession to get her to respond and she flipped just enough. The whole thing left Jerry joking about how stubborn and strong-willed she's going to be, but I have a feeling the joke will be on us in a few years.
  • Conversation with the bookstore cashier while Jerry was paying for our copy of "The Deathly Hollows":
    " Would you like the free poster with that?"
    "Um, no."
    "You sure?"
    "It's free."
    "I'm sure."
    "Aw, c'mon Jerry, we could hang it above the bed in the bedroom."
    "If we start putting posters up, then I'm definitely getting a UFC one for the living room."
    "No poster it is then."
  • While we were in Harrisburg, we decided to roam around a few of the shopping centers before coming home. To kill time before lunch, we stopped at an Old Navy and perused the newborn section. I'm still very uncertain about the whole clothing size issue. If she's big, we won't need much 0-3 months stuff. If she's little, we may need it for awhile. And because it's going to be cold, do we buy the current short-sleeve stuff in a 6-12 month size? Or the 3-6 month size? I have no idea. So, because of my inexperience and total confusion on the subject, we've stuck to basics like onesies. They're cheap, she'll go through them like diapers and whatever size we buy will fit her at some point. We spotted an awesome one on the sale rack with a giant alligator stitched into the side. Next to it was a pile of matching rattles also on sale. So we bought the onesie for the baby and the rattle for Toby. Wouldn't you know he completely loves it. Carries it around and shakes his head violently just to hear the beads tumble around in the center. He'll always be our first child.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In sickness and in health

If being sick sucks, and being sick in the summer supersucks, then being sick in the summer while pregnant supersucksalot.

I know I've been lucky. I've been very healthy throughout this entire pregnancy, and during all of my monthly appointments, all of the doctors have remarked how smoothly everything is going: the baby's heart rate, ultrasound images, weight gain, blood pressure, all of the test results --everything.

So when I felt a sore throat coming on Sunday night, I tried not to panic. Instead, I slurped down a red popsicle to numb the ache and went to bed early.

No luck. I woke up Monday with a full-blown sore throat, two very swollen glands on the left side of my neck and an infection in my left ear. My being pregnant didn't really change anything other than my level of worry. I'm not the type to quickly reach for over-the-counter remedies stockpiled in my medicine cabinet, and calling my doctor is even more rare. Usually someone has to force me to go against my own will. So not being able to take anything wasn't really that much of an issue.

Fortunately, I had the day off and opted to lay low, take lots of naps, stay hydrated and hope for the best. Jerry was wonderful and did everything from bring me oatmeal in bed to make a run to the store to stock up on some easy-to-digest staples for the house.

The next morning, miraculously, I was feeling much better. The sore throat and ear ache were gone for the most part, but I was left with a lingering bout of indigestion that made me miserable for the rest of the day.

I kept somewhat confined to my bed, trying to immerse myself in J.K. Rowling's colorful imagination, but the roilings in my midsection had me running for the bathroom almost as soon as I regained some level of comfort again.

It was unbearable. On top of the gurgling in my intestines and an upset stomach from as little as juice and crackers, the baby was kicking and moving furiously. It felt as if a war was being waged inside me, completely independent of anything I was doing. I had no control over any of it -- the growlings, the sputters, the kicks, the flips and punches. I just looked down to see the sporadic lurches poking out of my skin while trying not to vomit what little I had managed to force down that morning.

The only good thing was the baby's movements, as uncomfortable as they were with the added bowel issues that day, were comforting. I knew she was okay.

I kept a close watch on my temperature and managed to go to work in desperate effort to save my few sick days for maternity leave. I got ill a few times in the bathroom, but sent out a silent thank you to the individual who had the foresight and authority to put a couch in there. Even five minutes on it here or there has saved me from having to take refuge in my car or consider going home on more than a few occasions.

Today has brought even more improvement. My throat and ear feel almost back to normal and my stomach felt strong enough this morning to attempt a bowl of cereal. So far, so good. But I'm certainly not taking my health for granted.

I know I won't be able to protect her forever, but I'm sure going to try to do my best. Especially while she's still a part of me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Flipping pages

Can't. Put. Last Harry Potter book. Down.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kiersten & Jeremy's wedding

The wedding was lovely, but more importantly, I think I FINALLY have everyone's names down, including their relationship to one another, in Jerry's extended family. I've now seen all of his relatives on at least three occasions, and I'm proud to say I'll be able to explain to my daughter how she fits into her father's side of the family.

Jerry's cousin, Kiersten, being walked down the aisle by her dad.

Jer with his mom and sister outside after the ceremony. (Because I was
complaining that I only have one outfit to wear to all of these weddings,
in a show of solidarity, Jerry said he would wear the same suit and tie.)

The newlyweds.

The mother of one of the bridesmaids made their
wedding cake, and it tasted as good as it looked.

The groom is a professional bowler. Hence the groom's cake.

Bouquet toss.

Garter removal.

Last call at the bar.

Jerry and me being stupid in the hallway at the hotel.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More nuptuals

Today we're off for yet another wedding -- this one in Harrisburg, our state's capitol. Jerry's cousin is getting married and it's bound to be a good time because most of his family will be there.

And Sunday, while we're there, Jerry and I are going to stop at Babies R Us and look at cribs and changing tables and hopefully find a more affordable upholstered rocking chair. Hopefully. (But I have a feeling I'll just have to drag Jer out of the toy department. I'm pretty sure the main reason he wanted to have a child was so he could play with all the cool toys.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Maybe a padded cell would be downright comfortable for the next few months

I've had some pretty strange dreams before, but the baby-related ones I've been having as of late make me feel certifiable.

Take last night's, for example. I was going to the doctor for my six-month checkup and the baby fell out. She was wrapped in a cocoon of blubbery body substance that looked a lot like fat and seemed completely content. She didn't cry or fuss, just sort of stayed in a non-animated state, unaware of her change in surroundings.

I, of course, was completely freaking out. I ran into my doctor's office too scared to even scream for help. It was almost as if I couldn't find my voice. But when I got inside, I noticed that a young Indian couple were having a sonogram done in the waiting room. And their baby was lying on the floor in a pocket of blubbery fat, too.

The doctor just sort of poked around the fat, moving it aside at times to illustrate what he was seeing. The couple laughed and "oohed" and "aahed" when appropriate.

Somehow, I suddenly became aware that it was completely normal for the baby to slip in and out of me on occasion. I just needed to stuff her back in.

So I tried to find an unoccupied exam room to attempt it on my own. When I didn't have any luck, I knocked on a door with an "Employees only" sign.

Here's where it gets really weird.

Adam Sambourg opened the door just enough to poke his head out. You know, the newby actor on "Saturday Night Live." Right. I know. Strange isn't the word.

He was wearing scrubs and apparently was a friend of mine from college. I shoved him aside and asked for help. We went into a tiny well-lit room where he watched in horror as I shoved the baby back inside myself. The walls were blue and it had a large mirror where I could see his reflection clearly. I never looked directly at him, just through the mirror.

And that was it. I woke up to tiny kicks in my abdomen.

The dream analyst in me can decipher a lot of it. I'm off to my six-month appointment this morning, so that isn't too much of a stretch. The Indian couple might be because Jerry and I discussed getting Indian food for lunch today. And Adam Sambourg? We watched some oldie but goodie "SNL" clips on YouTube at work a few nights ago. Plus, the blue room felt a lot like the vanity-area in our house.

But the baby falling out? Coated in blubbery fat? And shoving her back in?

Fortunately, I don't think they make straight jackets to accommodate pregnant bellies.

Although, maybe they should.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Really? You doubted me?

Of course we got video of Toby snagging pears off the tree! I had been out in the yard pulling weeds (hence the horrid outfit, please don't judge), Jerry spotted him in action when he got home from work and immediately ran to get the recorder.

There's more video of Toby really straining to get a few off the higher branches, but I chose this clip because it illustrates everything: pulling one off the tree, playing fetch and digging in.

If you look closely, you can see other pears with the tops chewed off scattered all around the yard. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Feeling a little fruity

Toby likes pears. Actually, he loves them. A love so deep it's almost unnatural for a living being to feel that strongly about an inanimate object.

We have a wonderful fruit-bearing pear tree in our backyard, and even though it produced a mass quantity of bulbous edible orbs last year -- enough for me to bag them and hand them out to all of our neighbors after saving a few dozen for ourselves -- Toby didn't really pay any attention to them. I think because he was too enamored with our lower-to-the-ground cherry tomato plants at the time.

Well this year, the tomatoes didn't grow. I didn't realize it was one of those "plant them annually" type of thing. My thumb is about as green as a silver crayon. Jerry jokes that my specialty is killing things, feeling guilty, then working frantically to nurse them back to life.

So without any bite-sized tomatoes to rip from the vine this summer, Toby discovered the pear tree. I'm not quite sure how, but I think the idea literally hit him on the head when one of the weaker ones dropped off a branch prematurely.

At first, they were too hard and flavorless for him to treat it as anything more than a glorified ball. So we'd toss them around the yard and he'd run and fetch, much as he would his mini tennis balls inside.

But inevitably, they grew and softened. And Toby discovered that they taste good when he sinks his teeth in. Now, instead of playing fetch, he happily lays in a sunny patch of grass, holding onto the thick end with his front paws and gnawing on the fruit from the top down. All over the yard are remnants of his snacking -- tiny pears with the tops chewed off.

Occasionally, he'll sneak one past us into the house. I can usually tell because he makes himself scarce to indulge in his latest victim. One time a few weeks ago while I was downstairs reading a magazine, I heard a series of dull thuds upstairs followed by frantic feet. When I walked up to investigate, I saw that Toby was tossing a pear high into the air with his mouth, jumping in excitement at his own creativity and running to retrieve it. The thuds were when the pear slammed against a wall.

I was laughing too hard to ruin his fun. I let him play until he tired of the game. We found the disgusting remnant a few days later in the corner of the kitchen floor near his food and water bowls. It was black and sort of fuzzy from being tossed around on the carpet. In fact, Jerry mistook it for a dead mouse. I just leaned over, picked it up and tossed it in the garbage with a single-syllable explanation: "Pear." Jerry understood immediately.

By now, most of the weaker fruits have fallen, and Toby has grown frustrated with the drought. Rather than take it lying down, he decided to spring into action. Literally. He jumps and spins and strains and works his tiny body to the extreme to pluck pears off the lower branches.

It's absolutely hilarious.

And more times than not, he's surprisingly successful. He loves the game of retrieving them as much as he loves the fruit, so sometimes he'll collect as many as he can, then play with them all at once.

As much as I love pears, no pear pie or pear sauce or pear cobbler is as enjoyable as watching Toby enjoy them.

I may never plant cherry tomatoes again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

WORLD WIDE week 23 photo

I'm always perplexed when people chide me for trying to be responsible about using the web. Sayings like, "YOU put it out there and it's WORLD WIDE," make me want to strap that individual into a tattooist's chair and pay to have the words "Captain Obvious" permanently inked on their forehead in reverse so they can read it clearly every time they look into a mirror. Or maybe just a simple "Duh" would suffice.

Is that what the first two w's stand for at the beginning of nearly every web address? Thank you for enlightening me. Last I checked, it's not 1982 anymore and the dawning of Al Gore's Internet creation.

The fact that I'm trying to be cautious about what type of personal information I release shows I take it seriously. Sharing details about my dog's eating habits is a lot different from handing out a direct address to my house with one of those little MapQuest bubbles that says "END HERE."

That said, I also know that 99.9 percent of the people who frequent this website have nothing but the best intentions. As cheesy as it sounds, I consider you friends. And many of you are damn stealthy when it comes to sending a gift to my little lightning bug to help welcome her into the world. The whole WIDE WORLD.

Unfortunately, Jerry and I have decided not to post direct links to our registries. Yes, we're probably being overly cautious, but it's simply a matter of comfort level. Nothing more.

On the other hand, if you've already deducted enough to find them on your own, we'd be the furthest from offended. If you'd feel more comfortable checking in first, e-mail me at novelle360@hotmail.com. I love non-spam. (Although some of the subject lines on those penis enlargement hawkers really make my day.)

Instead, I've added a PayPal button to the side of my page. And for those of you who have already generously sent a gift, I can't thank you enough. I'm humbled by your love and support. I honestly am.

To keep it more WORLD WIDE web friendly, I thought of a way to let you guys have a hand in choosing a gift. If we get enough contributions to add up to something substantial, maybe I'll put a poll on here and let you vote on what we purchase. Just a thought.

And now, a bambino update via 23-week belly shot:

23 weeks
It turned out a little blurry for some reason, but
I'm glad. You can't see my chipping nail polish as well.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Maybe next he'll pull on my ponytail

"What's on your nose?"

"I don't know. You're looking at it, you tell me."

"Something brown ... brown noser."

"What is it?" (wiping tip of nose frantically)

"I don't know ... BROWN NOSER!"

(Runs to mirror)

"Ugh. Jerrr ... those are called FRECKLES."


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Festive indeed

There is something so nostalgic about this one particular arts festival that is held annually in our area. From what I understand, it was born out of frustration with another, much larger festival when it started getting too exclusive and denied entry to local artists.

So they formed their own and vowed to hold it the same weekend every year out of spite.

Dueling festivals, I love it.

Although the primary festival is nothing short of breathtaking -- literally from all the walking you have to do just to cover all the booths, demonstrations and exhibits; and figuratively in regard to the amazing art -- almost everything has to be appreciated for the brief moments we spend browsing. The only thing in our price range is the overpriced food.

So instead, with only a few simultaneous hours between us this weekend when we weren't both working, Jerry and I opted to attend the "other festival." I joke that you're supposed to say it in hushed tones. Much like you'd say "other woman."

The weather was perfect, if anything, a little hot. It's held on a large open field in one of the historic Victorian towns that I'm so fond of in this area. To me, it's the perfect size. No maps or diagrams required, just a gigantic oval to make your way around with the food vendors placed ideally in the middle.

I think one of the reasons I like it so much is because the size suits my indecisive nature. It is completely acceptable for me to walk away and mull a potential purchase after seeing something I like. It's not difficult to relocate a particular tent or go the short distance to find it.

As we started in a counter-clockwise direction, I couldn't help but relax and enjoy the day. There's something so wonderful about looking at handcrafted items that someone painstakingly took the time to develop, honing their skills over the years.

Ever since I was little, I wanted to have a booth at an arts festival. I can easily imagine sitting on a stool at the rear of the tent, practically fading into the background as I watched those who were drawn in to look at my creations. I can't help but think that would be personally rewarding somehow. I have a million ideas of what I would make. Maybe I'll join a festival circuit when I retire and Jerry can be my numbers guy. I'd definitely need a numbers guy -- all my former math teachers would vouch for it.

I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy just taking it all in, but I could've spent hours capturing things like the hands of the old man who sells homemade brooms with natural knotted tree limb handles. We walked past as he was putting one together and I was struck by the beauty of his hands -- rough yet dexterous. They seemed so accustomed to making brooms that they worked at a frantic pace, almost independent of his aging body.

Then there was the kettle corn apparatus -- a gigantic cast-iron cauldron that popped thousands of kernels at a time. I watched as a pair of women worked seamlessly together to make enormous batch after enormous batch. One would combine the ingredients and stir until the pot filled with fluffy pieces, then together they'd put all their weight into tilting the steaming metal at a 45 degree angle where it would empty into another huge container to cool. The other would take off her worn oven mitts and scoop it into various sized bags, some as long as 5 feet, and sell it to those waiting patiently for that first delicious bite.

Another thing that struck me were the festival-goers: parents pulling toddlers in little red wagons, teenagers flirting over sugar-coated funnel cakes, the retired couple sharing a huge bucket of potato wedges for lunch, or even the twentysomething who decided dogs weren't the only leashable pets to spend the day with outdoors -- he brought his bunny -- which, noting the circle of little kids squatting around it, was a big hit.

Jerry and I took our time and just sort of meandered. I scoured every tent with even a hint of pottery hoping to find a replica of the spoon rest I broke. Sure enough, I did. I raised both of my arms over my head in triumph and gushed to the artist how appreciative I was that he decided to come back this year.

For the first time ever, Jer and I were drawn to the tents with children's items. We browsed through handpainted mirrors with ballerina slippers, whimsical picture frames and decorative electrical plates. But one tent stood out more than the rest. A woodcarver was selling toys made out of different colors of wood that he combined and whittled and smoothed to perfection.

It was a tough decision, but we opted on a pull toy shaped like a bumblebee. The wings spin as the wheels turn. I absolutely adore it.

To me, that toy encapsulates the festival. There's something romantic about it. It was made with love and attention and is designed to last for generations.

You can't find that at any mall.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Work in progress

Well grrr. I thought linking to my registries would only reveal our last name, but it also displays our hometown, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that. Granted, everything else is hidden, including our address and phone number, but it's not a decision I can make on my own. I have to discuss it with Jerry.

In the meantime, I was able to figure out how to add a PayPal button. And just in case some of the detectives among you clicked on it and assumed that the e-mail address was my last name, it's not. Anymore anyway. That was my maiden name and the only things left of that identity are Express mailers, credit card offers and that PayPal account. I'm in the process of updating it.

Ironically, I did a search for my maiden name at one of the places we registered and it seems she and I have a lot more in common than just our names. Not only are we having babies within months of each other -- that apparently are both girls -- but we also selected some of the same items. If she didn't live on the other side of the country, I think I'd try to contact her. Just because.

The rest of today promises to be a good one. Jerry and I are going to spend the afternoon attending a local arts festival trying to replace the handmade artisan spoon rest my clumsy pregnant self destroyed a few months ago. I swear I'm not making it up that "increased clumsiness" is a noted pregnancy symptom in all of my reading material. And they're not kidding. Some days I'm proud of myself for placing one foot in front of the other properly.

Lets see if that holds up for an afternoon of walking.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tying up a few loose ends

There is something I overlooked in the past few weeks and a few ongoing questions that pop up in your comments. And because I like to think of myself as a thorough person, I've decided to take the time to rectify one particular gaffe and respond to some inquiries. Then I have a few random nuggets just for fun.

  • In my attempt at documenting the gifts we have received throughout the course of my pregnancy, I left one VIP out. I'd like to blame "baby brain syndrome," but, well, I just screwed up. I thought I had posted about it in the previous round of gift pictures and neglected to add it to the most recent. To make up for it, I will add even more emphasis by using all caps:


AWESOME!!! (Sorry Gisela! Love you!)

  • Many of you have inquired about the names we are considering for our daughter. As much as I would love to be able to share our thoughts on this difficult process, we have decided to keep it a secret until she is born. There are two front-runners at this point and frankly, it could change right up until the moment we meet her. I have visions of a nurse at the hospital coming into my room, slamming down a book of baby names and telling me that I'm not allowed to bring her home until she has a name. To put it into perspective, you've seen how much I'm agonizing over the decision to select nursery bedding. Now multiply that by INFINITY.
  • Many of you have also suggested that we get a post office box so you can mail us presents. While I am completely humbled at these requests, I am the type who doesn't want one more thing to worry about. Like checking in at the post office regularly. (I barely remember to open our mailbox and grab the paper every morning.) But I also understand how exciting it is to be part of welcoming a new baby into the world. And, lets face it, you guys know more details than most of my casual acquaintances in "real life." So, I've discussed it with Jerry and come up with two potential solutions. I'm pretty sure our last name is out there at this point, so I could just tell you where we've registered. The other option is to get a PayPal account and you could contribute to the furniture we need to buy. Or maybe both. Thoughts?
  • And now ... drum roll please ... a few random thought nuggets. With pictures!

    Buying stuff for babies is just fun. Take this garbage can
    for example. I mean, it's a GARBAGE CAN. But it's so cute
    and adorable that I just couldn't resist getting it for the nursery.

    I have narrowed down the wall color to green. Six shades
    of green to be exact. "But Kelly," you say, "um, the walls are
    already green in that room." Yes. But not the RIGHT green.
    It's a little too ARRAGH! in there. I'm looking for more of a
    subtle green. Or you can agree with Jerry and look at the paint
    swatches in frustration, rake your fingers through your hair
    and exclaim, "THEY'RE ALL THE FUCKING SAME!"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I am woman, watch me morph

The human body really is an amazing thing. Well, I guess I should specify that the female human body is an amazing thing. I'm sure men's bodies are amazing, too. But blah, blah, blah, theirs don't do half the crap ours does. Like bleed for a week at a time throughout our entire adult lives and not die.

Frankly, I'd like to see Houdini attempt that. Sure, disappear again. Whatever. Pass me a tampon before you go.

Then there's the whole "fostering the creation of new life" thing. The changes my body has undergone in the last few weeks alone are nothing short of mind blowing.

Did you know that my uterus is now a few inches ABOVE my bellybutton? What male organ stretches to 10 or 15 times its original size? (And men, don't flatter yourself. Even the porn stars among you can't claim that.) I mean, it's crazy to think that in a few short months, something that was, for the most part, undetectable inside my body has grown and stretched and can now be felt throughout my entire midsection.

Where did the other organs go that used to take up that space? I know they're in there because I still process food and liquids. But the fact that they just sort of shove to the side when required, but still manage to function properly is downright commendable. Even the biggest and most successful companies throughout the world struggle with that kind of teamwork. Take note of my stomach Microsoft! It's HUMBLE.

Because of those changes, the consistency of my stomach area is now hard yet pliable. It really does feel like there's something firm in there, like the ubiquitous basketball. But it still has some give to it if I decide to push on it a little. You know, just for fun.

I've been poking around more because the baby is finally big enough to poke back. I'm not sure if she's doing it intentionally or if it's just sort of a reflex response, but it's amazing to interact somewhat with this thing inside me. I now feel her movement all the way from my pelvic bone up to my ribcage. And my belly officially shakes visibly when she stirs. And, men, don't say you understand. It's nothing like gas. Even the really bad bouts after making the regrettable decision of downing an entire baker's dozen of chicken chalupas from that 2 a.m. run to Taco Bell after the bars closed last night.

And my boobs? Completely picking up on what's going on below them. Again Microsoft, take note of my boobs. They're not even in on the conversation and yet, fully aware of the details without even so much as a briefing by their department head. Now THAT'S communication. Take your overpriced iPhone and shove it. I have amazing boobs. Call them iBoobs, if you must.

Not only have they nearly doubled in size, but even my nipples have changed. Drastically. They're bigger and darker and, well, more alert than usual. I'm pretty sure they sense things. Like a storm coming.

It's like hitting puberty all over again. I'm completely enamored with what my body is going through. And, like a teenager who just filled out her first training bra, I'm obsessed with checking out the progress. So obsessed that while inspecting my areolas sometime last week, a little clear fluid came out.

I wish I could tell you that I handled that discovery with grace and poise. But I didn't. Not even close. The rest of my body spasmed in shock and nearly fell over backwards screaming at the absurdity of it all. Liquid. Coming out of my nipples. LIQUID!

Then I did what any woman would do in that situation. I ran to the computer and Googled "nipple clear discharge." Apparently it's called colostrum. It's a form of milk produced by the mammary glands late in pregnancy. And it's high in carbohydrates, protein and antibodies and low in fat. I was going to give Microsoft the point on that one for helping me determine what the hell it was, but, um, I'm squeezing antibodies out of my boobs. And if I packaged it in a container, I could stick one of those giant LOW FAT claims on the front. Yeah, I still win.

So, unexpected nipple liquid aside, the female body is nothing short of an amazing network of team players and expert communicators.

Disagree? I'll shoot colostrum in your eyes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Andrea & Alan's wedding

Jerry was less than thrilled with the height of the hotel shower door.

All dressed up and ready to party.

I heart human ingenuity for man-made fibers that stretch.

Thanks to my overly timely husband, we got to the wedding venue
30 minutes early. So, here's Jerry looking dapper outside the winery.

Unfortunately, I wasn't brave enough to open my camera during the
ceremony. It makes too much noise. So here are the newlyweds right
after. Sadly, this doesn't capture the gorgeous lake a little to the right.

The bridal party overlooking grape vines on the hillside.

Love, love, loved their cake.

Here is the bride and groom during their first dance. Being an anal
editor, I couldn't help but alert the staff that they had misspelled the
groom's name on the sign. They had Allen, not Alan. But they fixed it.

We sat with the coolest family who happened to live in my hometown.
Here are the youngest girls who, after sitting very well for a very long time,
decided to have a little fun with their salad. They were "tanning." I laughed,
pulled out my camera, then pulled a bean sprout off the little one's cheek.

Jerry embracing the Ithaca area with an Ithaca Brown Ale.

Andrea and Alan were understandably high commodities
for the evening, but we managed to get a picture with them.

The next morning, my mom and grandmother drove down
to take us to breakfast. They also came bearing gifts. This
is a cute little snuggly I'm told is called a "bunting" that my
grandma made with fleece fabric. Jerry asked for one in his size.

Me, my belly, my grandma and my mom in the parking lot of
Friendly's. It was so great seeing them -- even if just for a few hours.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Pregnant + vineyard + open bar = SUCK

Well, we're up unusually early to drive to Ithaca for our friends' evening wedding at a vineyard in New York's beautiful wine country. The weather should be perfect, and I seem to recall that the RSVP cards had excellent dinner selections. I think I remember something about porcine mushrooms. And there's nothing better than dainty, flavorful mushrooms.

Toby doesn't know it yet, but he's in for a mini weekend at my mother-in-law's house where the yard is vast and the dog biscuits are handed out frequently. I hardly think we'll be missed.

But best of all, because Ithaca is only three or so hours from my hometown, my mom and grandma offered to meet us at our hotel Monday morning to take us out for breakfast before we head back to Pennsylvania.

I'll be back with pictures soon.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

More miniature stuff

Because we're starting to think about registering for my baby shower next month, I keep saying I had no idea something so small could need so much stuff. And, lets face it, we haven't even scratched the surface of necessities like baby wipes, special "no tears" shampoo and obnoxious distracting plastic play sets.

Another thing that has overwhelmed me is the generosity of people since we've announced that we're having a baby. The thoughtful gifts keep rolling in. Here are the latest:

This is the second item Jerry and I have purchased for the
baby. It's a kit to frame her first prints -- hands or feet.

I think these are absolutely adorable. Jerry's sister got these for us
after we found out it was a girl. They're socks with rattles on the top.

This came from my good friend Christy after she
read the blog entry about my "little lightning bug."
Hormones be damned, it was so thoughtful that
I cried. I can't wait to find a spot for it in the nursery.

Jerry's good friend got us a NOFX onesie. For our little rock chick.

My coworker Kate made this fantastic bib for us. So cute!

And this I just can't get enough of. A woman who
listens to Jerry's morning show sent this awesome
diaper cake to the radio station. I had heard of these
before as baby shower gifts, but I had no idea how
much they resemble a cake. The topper is a stuffed Mini
and a washcloth "lollipop." Check out her site, here.
I'm not going to want to ruin it to use the diapers.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Sometimes images are just better than words

Every time we've gone swimming in my mother-in-law's pool this summer, I've found myself saying, "Ugh! I wish I had remembered to bring the video camera!"

Not only does Toby play volleyball, but he's recently taken to the water, too. Last summer he absolutely hated it. Hated it more than when we eat a meal without sharing. Especially when he's employing his saddest "I'm practically emaciated over here" stare.

Now he's a little older and his instincts have kicked in. So much so that all four of his legs start twitching in the doggie paddle motion before he even hits the water. It's nothing short of hilarious.

Fortunately, we remembered the video camera for Toby's volleyball debut. And although I have almost five minutes of footage of everyone in the pool taking turns tossing the ball at Toby's head so he can volley it back, I cut it down to a manageable 30 seconds or so.

And, of course, I got the doggie paddle.

And some things are just better captured in picture. Here's
Sparky happily floating on his raft (aka Toby-Free Island).

This was when I accidentally backed my tube too close to the
edge and Sparky took it as an invitation to hop aboard.

Jerry and Toby sitting in the grass, watching the
boys pretend to destroy each other with cap guns.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Having a blast

For our Fourth of July holiday, we created our own fireworks.

First, we made the most fantastic discovery that Toby can play pool volleyball.

On a day-to-day basis, he is one of the most gentle, easygoing and loving dogs, but get him around another dog, three kids, a pool and a slew of activity, he becomes a berserk alpha male, despite his small stature.

It's almost as if his entire personality changes. He becomes this overly alert, eager animal who wants nothing more than to join in every group activity while simultaneously keeping his cousin Sparky away from any affection Jerry or I might happen to bestow upon him. It drives Toby crazy. If one of us decides to pet Sparky from the edge of the pool, Toby will run furiously at full speed and head butt him out of our hands. Then he'll stand there for a few seconds as if to say, "MINE." Frankly, it's one step short of peeing on our fingers to mark his territory.

The other most noticeable difference is that our usually quiet dog, who only occasionally gets riled by the neighborhood dogs to the point that he'll bark and make himself heard, becomes much more vocal poolside. Especially when the boys play volleyball. He will run back and fourth along the concrete, following the ball's every move, barking and shaking in tense anticipation.

I never understood it until yesterday when Jerry's sister, Amy, happened to toss the ball to Toby.

He volleyed it back with his snout and wagged his nub furiously.

So she tossed it again.

This time it was a little over his head so he leaped up, arced his back and managed to hit it back with amazing accuracy.

My dog plays volleyball!

It was a game neither party tired of for quite awhile. The kids took turns tossing the ball to Toby and he happily nudged it back. Over and over and over again.

In the meantime, Sparky developed his own pool trick. I'm guessing it was borne out of frustration with Toby's aggression, but Sparky, who is a little bigger, more subdued and clumsier than our dog, decided to work around his take-it or leave-it attitude about swimming and hopped in one of the kids' inflatable pool boats. There he could float on a mini island of uninterrupted bliss without any of Toby's demanding rules.

In fact, Sparky got so comfortable floating on the raft that when I unknowingly backed the inner tube I was in close to the edge of the pool, Sparky took it as an invitation to come aboard and leaped on.

Despite the crazy dog antics and overcast weather, our Fourth of July holiday was a relaxing one. We swam most of the afternoon; took a dinner break for short ribs, ranch chicken, corn, potato salad and trimmings; set off some fireworks; then switched on the paper lantern lights, put the outdoor fire pit to use and Amy quizzed us about our nation's founding using a few fact books she brought.

Did you know there were more than 100 weekly newspapers in circulation among the original 13 colonies?

Me neither.

Emily, who at age 4 became frustrated that she couldn't answer many of the questions, kept screaming, "I want one!"

Because Amy had just asked a question about the Liberty Bell, I used it as inspiration and asked Emily what state the Liberty Bell is in. Then I gave her a hint that it's the state she lives in.

After giving it considerable thought, she perked up and screamed, "PENN STATE!"

I laughed until my sides hurt. Close enough.

And the last bit of holiday craziness didn't reveal itself until this morning. Jerry just got home from work with his hair soaking wet and gigantic splotches of water all over his shirt and shorts.

"So, you might wonder why I'm wet," he said, giving me a kiss with his still-wet beard tickling my chin.

"Yes, you might say that I might wonder that."

Apparently Jerry has been so disciplined in his exercise regimen that he has not only lost weight in his midsection, but also in his fingers. Including his ring finger.

With all of the dog volleyball and dog rafting and poolside U.S. trivia, Jerry didn't notice that his wedding band had slipped off in the water.

He said he noticed sometime at work this morning, drafted the help of everyone in the building and even reached armpit-deep into the men's room trash bin, to no avail. But a quick stop at his mother's house on his way home revealed a small silver object at the bottom of the pool.

Who needs professional fireworks when you can create your own?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I may get Jer the puppet for his birthday

Here is me overly excited to find The Chair. But I don't think we will be
getting it because the price tag is just not as awesome as the seat itself.

Jerry was more excited to play in the kids section of another store ...
with a duck hand puppet. He put on a whole show.

Here's Toby sitting beside me at the computer. Now that we've invested
in a new desk chair that doesn't groan and squeak, Toby has his very own.
Because whatever I'm doing in the morning, he wants to do it with me.

21 weeks
My 21 week belly shot in my glorious maternity jeans.
Thankfully, I started expanded upwards, not outwards.