Thursday, December 30, 2010

My oh-so classy introvert

My parents were in town for a few days after Christmas, and one afternoon while my mom and I were on a tear getting the nursery cleared out, my dad entertained Allison with his laptop's video feature. It's obvious that she loved watching herself while it was filming, but it pales in comparison to the joy she got seeing the final product. She watched it so many times that she memorized all of her lines and screamed and laughed so hard she nearly passed out.

Normally a video of Allison would remain permanently in my camcorder for that miraculous day I don't have anything on my agenda. You know, 18 years from now. But because my dad is far less of a procrastinator than I am -- in fact, the mere thought of putting something off for 10 seconds instantly gives him a rash -- the video was e-mailed out to family, uploaded to Facebook and put on YouTube within a few hours.

Ahh, the information age.

Now no one needs to wait to see what a half-masticated raisin looks like in the mouth of a toddler.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

30 weeks

With only 10 weeks left until my due date, I realize I should probably be panicking about how little we have done at this point. The holiday season has been so busy this year it pretty much obliterated any productivity I was making toward getting ready for Bubba. I can't even settle on a paint shade for his room, and that's usually my wheelhouse.

It never escapes me how little I've been able to document this pregnancy. I won't lie, it's been incredibly hard this time around -- mostly for reasons completely independent of my expanding midsection. Besides the horrible ongoing morning sickness, which I'm chalking up to my body's reaction to the male hormones, I've also thrown out my back twice and had a raging case of poison ivy. It led to a lovely secondary rash that spread throughout my entire body and required numerous trips to a skin specialist and nearly hospitalization. I still have large scars all over my legs and probably always will.

So dealing with health issues, an overbooked work schedule, trying to juggle Allison's growing committments at school, Jerry's new responsibilities at work and life in general, time seems to slip away before I can blink sometimes.

And because I know so many families are in the same boat, that's one of the reasons I love my job so much. I love helping them freeze time for just a second. To capture a special moment that will remind them about where they were that year.

It made me realize I wanted that for us. I wanted at least one photo of us as a family during what will very likely be my last pregnancy.

So I made time.

I asked a good friend and photographer to take some photos for us while we were vising my family for Thanksgiving. It was bitterly cold and windy out, but Jerry and Allison knew how important it was to me. So not only did they make the most of it, but we had fun, too. Watery eyes, runny noses and all.

In the end, Scott gave us a bunch of great images I love, but one really captured us exactly. It's already hanging on our wall and if nothing else, I will always have this to remember my baby Bubba before I got to hold him in my arms.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Newspaper column

Rewind the clock about five years, and my real estate agent was mentioning something about the house my husband and I were touring being located in a flood zone.

I remember asking what the extra insurance might cost annually, but her answer didn't matter. Did you see that gorgeous built-in china cabinet in the dining room? What about the high ceilings? And so much closet space!

According to the seller's disclosure form we were given, the house had only flooded once in the past 11 years, and that was when remnants of hurricane Ivan pretty much washed out the entire region.

And, as luck would have it, the basement was completely redone afterward -- including a brand new furnace. Score!

The first year in our new home, we checked the sump pump every time the forecast called for dew. But after a few storms only produced small puddles in our back yard and not a drop indoors, we relaxed. To be honest, I had almost forgotten about it entirely.

So when my husband called with concern that all of our daughter's Christmas presents were in bags on the basement floor during the heavy rain last week, I nearly dismissed him.

Instead, I indulged his request to check. When I rounded the corner to discend the bottom steps to the basement, I stopped short. There was water throughout the entire space, and it was visibly rising through a small crack in the floor.

I think I managed to mumble, "Oh my God, I have to go" before hanging up the phone and dropping it on the landing.

Unfortunately for Jerry, I had slipped on his brand new sneakers to cover my bare feet during what was presumambly going to be a quick inspection. I tried gingerly stepping in what few dry spaces remained, but it was no use. When I opened the door to check the second room, more water gushed out, covering my feet up to my ankles.

The icy sensation wasn't the most shocking part. Seeing all of our things submerged in water was.

I tried to salvage the presents first and ended up holding up boxes of toys long enough for the water to drain out. Then I looked around to survey the rest of our belongings and I just wanted to cry. All of the things we had been storing for our soon-to-arrive new baby were soaked.

I felt totally helpless.

In a panic, I called Jerry back to tell him the news, which he had deducted on his own after my quick departure. A plumber was on the way.

Turns out the sump pump was working, but it was overwhelmed. The plumber extended pipes away from our house so it could drain to the street rather than recycle it back into our basement.

Then the fire department showed up. A friend apparently called on my behalf, and I couldn't have been more grateful. Three volunteers helped me pick up what remained on the floor, toss some of what couldn't be salvaged and devised a temporary fix for the problem areas. And being in my third trimester, that was an enormous help.

Jerry and a neighbor did the brunt of the work that afternoon, hooking up a second pump and directing the water to increase its effectiveness. Little by little the water started to recede -- taking with it my anxiety.

Now that the mess has been cleaned and the damage assessed, I feel incredibly fortunate. Not only did I learn a valuable lesson about where not to store things I intend to keep, I was overwhelmed by the help and support we received from our friends and community.

From dropped-off dehumidifiers to borrowed pumps and phone calls offering assistance, I spent much of that day just saying thank you. I guess sometimes it takes a small catastrophe to remind you about all of the important things in life.

If I'm ever in a position where I'm left wondering which is which, I'll know that the things I really need are strengthened by a few inches of water. The rest can be replaced.