Sunday, December 28, 2008

They Embarrass Us, We Embarrass Them

In an email from Little Sister where she's talking about the Christmas gift she gave to nephew:

"I'm the boring aunt because I'm only giving books. Nephew looked at the book I gave him and said "I didn't want this!" When Older Brother said he might be hurting my feelings, Nephew looked at me, covered his face and said in a rather robotic tone "I-love-it.""

I wish I could do that sometimes.

In other news, any mother knows that the "Baby Industry" has grown almost as bad as the bridal industry. For this, we pay ridiculous amounts of money for things like diaper bags, onesies with cute slogans and any gadget that will make our lives easier. This sling is no exception and I am almost ashamed at how much these few scraps of fabric cost. Regardless, it makes my life soooo much easier when Little Husband (aka - The Milk Monster) has one of those days when he wants to be held and cuddled 24/7. I rationalize the purchase by mentally listing all the things I am able to accomplish once I stick his little body in this thing. Also, hauling around 8.5 extra pounds up and down the stairs doesn't hurt when it comes to shedding that pregnancy weight.



Here's a closeup of him hiding his eyes. I have no idea why he feels compelled to do so. Perhaps I'm embarrassing him. Reminds me of how, when I was a pre-teen, I would skulk around K-mart, hiding behind the racks because my mother forced me to go there and I didn't want anyone I knew to see me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'll Let Go When You're Okay

Rejoice

"You can do it, Sweetheart. Just one more series of pushing and he'll be here."

My baby doctor encouraged me from his position down there. Melek alternated between stroking ice on my forehead and curling up my shoulders as she assisted me in pushing. I, thanks to my BFF Epidural, felt nothing. I could barely tell where the baby was positioned in my pelvis. Still, I gamely pushed with all my might.

The "push series", as I call them, consisted of pushing as hard as I could for the count of ten, taking a quick break to inhale deeply, then repeating the process for two more sets. I had been in labor for almost thirteen hours and was pushing for three of those hours, but still I had plenty of energy. It turns out that after the epidural is administered you can basically sleep through the rest of your labor. Under the advice of our birthing class instructor, I slept as much as possible in order to store up my energy for when it was time to deliver. This strategy paid off tenfold.

Where was Husband, you might ask? He was out in the waiting room, eagerly awaiting the news of his son's arrival. Don't judge me, my friends. I'm just old-fashioned that way.

Although the push-series consisted of three sets, it took a fourth set to deliver Little Husband. By then the doctor had the vacuum in hand because Little Husband's head was turned to the side, firmly lodged in my pelvis. Everyone in the delivery room was crowded around, shouting out words of encouragement. There must have been seven or eight people cheering me on. It was a wonderful, positive environment. Can you imagine coming into the world with people cheering and clapping and celebrating your arrival? I cannot help but think that this will have a life-long impact on Little Husband. I will never forget the joy in that room.

Throughout my pregnancy I read many accounts of parents who did not bond with their newborn immediately after the birth. In some instances it took several weeks for the bonding process to occur. This was not the case with Little Husband. As soon as he was out and the doctor held him up, I fell in love. How could I not? With a head full of wavy dark hair, he looked just like Husband, and I love Husband with everything I've got. Then the baby cried his plaintive, little kitty-cat cry and my heart broke. This little being was mine and Husband's to nourish and nurture and protect and we weren't going to let him down. Not ever.

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Bewilderment

"And here is your room!" the twenty-something nurse chirped as she wheeled me into my post-delivery "sanctuary". If I weren't being wheeled in a wheelchair, I would have stopped dead in my tracks. While my previous Labor and Delivery room could have been likened to a presidential suite, the post labor/delivery room was more akin to the maid's quarters. A solitary, dismal, fluorescent light illuminated the tiny room. There was just enough room for a bed and chair. Someone had optimistically placed a folded up cot in the corner, but I couldn't imagine there'd be room for it. After settling into the bed, I pointed at the cot: "How on earth are we going to be able to extend that for you to spend the night?" I asked Husband. "Don't you worry about it," he replied, "I will figure it out."

We chatted happily while we waited for our baby to be brought to us. After the birth the hospital personnel took him to the nursery to clean him up and check his vitals. Three hours went by and still no sign on Little Husband. "I'm going to find out what's going on." stated Husband, and he marched off, my knight in shining armor. I laid on my bed trying hard to recover and not give way to needless worry. Still, I sensed that something was wrong. Terribly wrong.

Husband returned after twenty minutes (or so) with a grim look on his face. "They found a heart murmur when they were checking his vitals," Husband reported, "They need to administer some more tests."

The rest is too painful for me to write about at this time. I never, ever want to relive this day, the day after Little Husband's birth. It was the worst day of my life falling on the heels of the best day of my life.

****************************************************************************
Despair

The next day found us in the hospital nursery, witnessing Little Husband's Echocardiogram. Three technicians were crowded around a monitor as the lead tech traced a wand over Little Husband's bare chest. Clad only in a diaper, Little Husband wailed his tiny little kitten wail. Distraught at hearing my baby cry and not being able to comfort him, tears rolled down my cheeks. I kept my silence.

Thirty minutes into the test, the pediatric cardiologist joined the group of technicians. I watched him closely. Did I like this man? Did I trust him? I studied his body language in an attempt to determine that which I couldn't tell from the image on the monitor. What did the doctor see when he looked at the screen?

Finally the technicians dispersed and the cardiologist turned our way. "If he sits down, it's bad news." I told myself. I am constantly evaluating people this way. The doctor pulled up a chair. My stomach dropped.

"Your son has a heart condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot", the doctor told us. My heart broke as I listened to the doctor outline the basics of this heart condition. Little Husband would need surgery. Open heart surgery. I felt like I was going to faint.

"And if we do nothing?" I asked the doctor.

The doctor looked me right in the eye. "Then he will die."

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Distraught

After clearing my hospital room of visitors, Husband and I were finally alone that night. After the Echocardiogram, Husband had to leave to tend to some things at home. By the time he returned, it was dusk. We weren't truly alone until that evening. We held each other and I cried as we processed the situation.

Our baby was wheeled in by the hospital personnel. "Time for Little Husband to eat!" chirped the nurse. I pulled him to my breast as Husband and I continued to talk. Husband looked distraught. "Here," I told him, "Unbutton your shirt."

"What?" Husband looked confused.

"Unbutton your shirt."

He did as I asked. I took off Little Husband's undershirt and placed his bare skin against Husband's chest. I covered them in a blanket. "This will heal you," I told Husband.

Husband wrapped his strong arms around our baby and melted into him. He held his son this way for three hours.

"You were right," he told me as he finally handed back Little Husband. Still, I saw an emptiness behind his eyes that I knew I couldn't fix.

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Compassion

The next morning I woke up at 6:30 as the nurse wheeled Little Husband back into my room. I tried to sleep with him in my room, but his grunts and squeaks kept me up all night. At 4:30 am I rang for the nurse to take him to the nursery so that I could catch a nap. They brought him back at 6:30 am for his feeding.

In the early morning dawn, alone with my fears and dark imaginings, I cradled Little Husband close and wept. I can't ever recall feeling so alone and distraught in my whole life. The day nurse walked in, saw me weeping, and stopped in her tracks. Then she did something so human, it will remain with me for the rest of my life. She sat down on my bed, wrapped her arms around me and Little Husband, and she silently held us both.

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Hope

Husband returned a few hours later, showered and refreshed. We'd agreed after the first night that he would sleep at home rather than spend the night in my hospital room. The "visitor cot" was no better than a cheap army cot and extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, we live just down the road from the hospital.

My sadness was contagious and it immediately overtook Husband. He sat down next to me as I recounted my experience with the kindly nurse. We held hands and relayed our fears as we gazed at Little Husband.

Just then, my cousin, a retired pediatrician, breezed into the room (uninvited) and sat down opposite us. He appeared happy and his happiness was so uplifting, it was as if someone swept away the clouds. I looked at him warily, but already I was feeling better.

"You know, I'm not worried so neither should you be," he stated by way of a greeting.

Husband and I just looked at him, but we sat up a little straighter.

He continued by telling us all about Little Husband's heart condition in terms we could understand. He told us how common it is. He told us about the tremendous success rate of the surgery.

In short, he told us that everything would be okay, and that's exactly what we needed to hear.

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Helplessness

"I'm going down to the nursery to visit Little Husband." I told Husband as I slipped on my slippers.

Husband lifted his head slightly from his position in the recliner and opened one eye. "Okay--I'm just going to stay here," he said as he fell back to sleep.

Still in pain from giving birth, I slowly made my way down the drab hospital corridor to the nursery. I never knew why people hated hospitals until now. They reek of dreariness and despair.

Little Husband was relegated to the nursery for the remainder of our time in the hospital because he had high bilirubin levels (related to jaundice) and had to spend some time in phototherapy. It was 1 am.

I entered the nursery and once again my heart broke. Little Husband, clad only in a diaper, laid on a bare, Plexiglass table under the Bili lights. His little body was tensed in the fetal position and he wore a giant mask to protect his eyes. He looked tiny, helpless, and alone. I could only imagine his distress.

"Can I touch him, comfort him?" I asked the twenty-something night nurse. She cast a disinterested look in my direction and shrugged.

I walked over to Little Husband and stroked his hand. He clasped his tiny fingers around mine and held tight. I stroked his head, bare chest, tiny legs and feet. I whispered to soothe him and studied him for the first time. He has husband's toes. My hands. Long, long legs. A cute, little bow mouth. Slowly, his little body relaxed under my touch. It was as if he knew me.

Crying (silently, of course), I stayed with him for a very, very long time. I stayed with him until I was in so much pain that I could not longer stand.




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Bonding

The next morning I woke early and with a lump in my throat. My OB/Gyn had come to visit and was concerned about my blood pressure which had sky-rocketed. As we talked, the day nurse brought a tightly swaddled Little Husband in for his feeding. I sat up and eagerly accepted my package while still talking to the doctor. Finally, I looked down at Little Husband: fitted comfortably in my arms, he gazed up at me with the sweetest, most loving expression imaginable. He knew me.

It was shortly after this that I snapped the "Burrito Baby" picture which is why it's so special to me.



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Relief

Our first post-hospital visit to the pediatric cardiologist had both me and Husband very tense. I especially felt sorry for Husband as he was bearing the brunt of trying to take care of a very sick baby and a very sad wife. He had the weight of the world on his shoulders but he handled it with strength and grace.

At the doctor's office, Little Husband went through another battery of tests. After what seemed like a lifetime the cardiologist sat down to level with us. "Your son has a mild case of the disease," the doctor told us. "He should do just fine with the surgery."

For the first time since Little Husband's diagnosis, I exhaled. He was going to be okay!

As he stood up to leave, the doctor turned back to us. "In ten years this will all be just a bad memory," He told us.

I was so grateful that I wanted to dash over and hug him but I didn't trust my legs to support me.

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Joy

It's been three weeks since we brought Little Husband home, and each day with him brings about new joy for me and Husband. At this age he's not doing much, but we manage to find our entertainment in the little things. For instance, somehow Little Husband's tiny gastrointestinal tract has the ability to conjure up some mighty explosive "toots". Often just before he does so he will raise his arms in the "ejection seat pose" (aptly dubbed by Husband who used to be a pilot), toot (loudly) then emit a shriek as if the noise surprised him. Unwittingly, he's already quite the little ham.

This is him clamoring for more breast milk:



My mother came to stay for three weeks and was a source of immeasurable comfort to me. When I recounted to her how I was receiving criticism for responding immediately to Little Husband's cries, my mother listened patiently and then offered her opinion. "Sweetheart--your situation is different and some people don't understand that. You just disregard their advice and do whatever you need to in order to comfort the baby."

This is good advice, you see, because as morbid as it sounds, there are no guarantees with Little Husband. For this reason, I intend to cherish every day with him as if I may not get another. We will try to anticipate every need before he lets it be known; "cry it out" holds no place in our vocabularies. We will sleep with him in our room and we will thank God for the sleepless nights that we get to spend with him cradled tightly in our arms. When the surgery is done and he is deemed okay, then--and only then--will we let go.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Man Hands

Little Husband didn't get much from me in the looks department. In fact, he looks so little like me that my older sister demanded a maternity test. My saving grace is that he has my hands. In some instances, say, were I to have girly-girly hands, this would prove problematic for Little Husband. In this instance, as evidenced by the video, having hands like mine, i.e., "Man Mands", will never cause Little Husand one moment of ridicule. The real question is how I managed to escape it for so long. Why is it that no one saw fit to tell me that I have Man Hands? I have some very kind friends. I have to admit that I watched this video three times before I realized that it was me dressing the baby and not Husband!

Santa Did It!

I promise to write more about Little Husband's birth in my next post, but for now I have to take a quick moment to tell a little tale about Santa.

Today, at dinner time, Husband strutted in from the back yard, index finger pointing high. "I was RIGHT!" he declared.

My mother and I looked up from cooing over the baby and waited for him to finish.

"I was RIGHT!" he said again. "It was Santa! I was RIGHT!"

"Er...what was Santa?" I asked.

"It was SANTA who was throwing food over the fence all this time. I caught him red-handed!"

I couldn't believe it. For as long as we've been married some freak has been throwing food over the fence for our dogs. Several times Helicopter Butt has come inside coated in spaghetti sauce or other unidentifiable substances. While the dogs are thrilled with their new found booty, (can you imagine a pizza just dropping out of the sky?), the food has caused Le Pooch Grande to have an upset stomach from time-to-time. Not cool.

When it was first happening (and Husband was blaming Santa), I argued that no rational person would do something like that. I reasoned that it must be 'coons dropping trash from the dumpster. (Side bar: Husband then chastised me for using a racial epithet. I reminded him that it's not racist if, in fact, you are actually talking about raccoons.) I refused to believe that it would be any of our neighbors, even Santa.

I didn't see what happened this evening nor did I have a chance to grill Husband for the details, but I do know that Husband was setting up the BBQ in the backyard when all of a sudden food came sailing over the fence. Husband somehow managed to verbally accost Santa which is impressive given there was an 8-foot wooden fence between them. Santa admitted to all deeds, past and present, and Husband got him to agree never to do it again. Santa even felt generous enough in spirit to congratulate us on our newborn. No mention was made of the gift that Santa has for Little Husband, thank goodness.

I am proud of Husband. In the spirit of cohesiveness, I plan to have a word or two with Santa myself. Santa loves Le Pooch Grande and I intend to let him know exactly how many times he's made her sick. Perhaps I'll even mention the $225 we spent getting the carpets cleaned and disinfected after one particularly bad episode (LPG let loose in the baby's room, of course).

Oh yeah, Santa's on my list and he's been naughty...

Introducing Little Husbaaaaaand!!!

Here he is. I love him so much. I am a puddle.


He looks just like his daddy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hospital Update #2

Nothing new to report. Love the epidural enough to marry it. I can feel Little Husband inching his way down...

Hospital Update

Halfway dilated, dozing on and off...we're naming this child "Epidural".

Can't remember who I stole that idea from, but it's a good one. That stuff is liquid heaven!

Back to sleep...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Me and The Dogs Three

The dogs are on bedrest too...

The World is a Better Place

My mom's coming, my mom's coming! I wasn't expecting to see her until December! She must have heard the fear in my voice when I called her yesterday to give her the news. Knowing that she had six children, I feel as if the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. I can't wait to see her--she will be a tremendous help.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Regarding the Gum...

Regarding the mysterious gum in my hair, I've decided to pin the blame squarely on Melek. Here's my thought process:

Melek is a tall, leggy blonde (5'20"?) and probably weighs in the neighborhood of 102 lbs. I am a short, large-with-child brunette and weigh nowhere near 102 lbs. Obviously, Melek is jealous of me. I have deduced that when I hugged her good-bye the other night, she surreptitiously spat her blue, peppermint gum in my hair.

This is irrefutable as the only other two people to hug me that night were Husband and my 65 year-old cousin, neither of whom would be caught dead chewing blue gum.

I would chew blue gum, but I wouldn't spit it in my own hair, so it wasn't me.

I did once throw up in my older sister's hair while she was sleeping, but at least it wasn't blue. It was an accident, anyway. I still kind of feel bad about that.

Ah, the joys of bedrest! So much time to think and figure things out!

Ready or Not, Here He Comes!

It's inevitable: Little Husband will be arriving on Thursday. I'm glad that it's Thursday because Wednesday is Charles Manson's birthday and I don't want our precious child to share a birthday with Charles Manson. Who would?

Anyhow, I type this from my bed as I have officially been assigned bedrest due to early signs of preeclampsia. They're hardly noticeable, really, except for all the panting and wheezing that goes on whenever I climb the stairs (or put on a pair of pants). You'd think I gained 150 pounds, the way I carry on.

Anyway, we check into the hospital tomorrow night and on Thursday morning they begin induction. I am terrified of a long, painful labor but several friends got wind of this and have been calling with all sorts of calming advice. I'm much better now. I'm blessed with some incredible friends.

Wish me luck, my friends, as I segue into another chapter of my life. The most exciting and rewarding one, to be certain.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Preparing for Motherhood

“Honey, can you do me a favor and put the wash in the dryer? I just don’t think I can do it right now.” Bent over from more contractions, I headed for the stairs.

“Where’s the wash?” Husband looked like a deer in headlights.

I turned, ready to explain that the wash was, in fact, in the washing machine but decided that Husband needed to relearn some of that autonomy he’d mastered during his bachelor days. My being a housewife appears to have rendered him slightly helpless.

“I’m not even going to answer that question.” I replied, ever the diplomat. A surge of pain seared through my hips and lower back. I started up the stairs.

Husband figured it out quickly. In his defense, he’d actually misheard me the first time.

Yes, things are tensing up around here as we await the arrival of our baby boy. Last week the baby doctor spoke of induction next week, provided my cervix shows some signs of dilation. In honor of that, I went for a 2.25 mile walk with a friend with the hopes of moving things along. What a mistake that was!

Mid-way through our walk I could feel a familiar tingling in the portion of the sciatic nerve that runs in front of my shins. Now, the tingling doesn’t bother me as it’s not painful and is really just more of a nuisance. It’s when I bend slightly and the tingling turns to a shooting pain that I get distressed. After the first mile I was walking like a baby taking his first steps. At the two mile mark I was walking like a zombie: big clomping steps with legs straight, no bending at the knees. My friend, in her infinite kindness, pretended not to notice.

I can’t help but resent my body a little for its betrayal of me. This is the first time in my life that it has refused (with a vengeance) to do the things I command of it. Even yoga, the activity I do when I am feeling lazy, leaves me breathless and fatigued. I’m mad at my body for aching when I don’t think it should ache and giving out on me after only one hour of being awake (especially after a peaceful night’s sleep!). I once read that with pregnancy you learn a whole new respect for your body. This is true.

Yesterday I woke up with some light contractions but hopped out of bed anyway to brush my hair and my teeth. The hairbrush got caught on a tangle so I jerked it slightly to undo the knot. The hairbrush held fast. I jerked the brush again but still it did not move.

“What the…” I asked myself as I leaned forward to inspect the knot in the mirror. I spied something blue. Picking up the clump of hair, I brought it around to eye level only to find that somehow, in the dark recesses of the night, a clump of blue mass got stuck in my hair. I brought it to my nose and sniffed. Peppermint gum. My first thought was that I do not chew blue gum. My second thought? Husband.

“Did you by any chance chew blue gum last night?” I asked Husband, somewhat amused.

“No,” he said, looking up from his newspaper and coffee.

“Are you sure? No blue gum? No blue breath mints? Nothing blue?”

“No—you were with me all night. You know I didn’t eat any gum or candy. Why?”

I showed him the clump of blue stuck in my hair. He burst out laughing while I busted out the peanut butter.

How the blue gunk got in my hair is still a mystery, but I figured it was good preparation for motherhood as I imagine there will be many a time that I find some foreign, icky substance attached to me somewhere. Just as long as it’s not boogers. I can’t deal with boogers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mom, Why Did You Make Me Return that Mood Ring?

When I was approximately five years old (1976?) my parents took me and my older brother and sister on a trip to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. It was there in the first floor ladies' room that I found an elegant mood ring forgotten on a sink ledge. Thrilled with my discovery, I excitedly raced over to my mother and proudly presented my findings. My exuberance was quickly dashed, however, when my mother glanced at the ring and said in the same breath, "That ring does not belong to you. We will have to turn it in to the lost and found."

Dumbstruck, I numbly followed behind my mother and silently handed my precious ring over to a kindly security guard. Tears welled as I watched him place the ring in a box under his desk. Even at that tender age, I knew that if the owner never came forth to claim her ring, I still would not be named its rightful heir. I cannot remember anything else about that day for I was so upset by my great loss.

I have been obsessed with jewelry, specifically rings, ever since.

This past Saturday morning found me sleeping in until the delicious hour of 10:15. I padded downstairs to greet Husband and The Dogs Three. I put a pot of coffee on to brew and checked my phone for new email. Scrolling through the messages, I found one from my auto loan company. Since they send me a statement every month, I barely paid attention as I scanned the dollar amount applied to our loan. Then I did a double-take.

"Um...honey--did you pay off the car loan?" I asked Husband, eyes still glued to the contents of the email.

"No, why?" Husband asked.

"Because they sent an email saying that we paid "X" amount on the loan which almost pays it off," I replied. We have three years left on this loan so the amount is significant.

"It's a phishing email," Husband responded all-knowingly, "just disregard it."

"Hmmm...I don't know. It doesn't look like a phishing email..."

Way ahead of me, Husband pulled out his laptop and logged into the financial website.

"The check was mailed in so it's not like they drafted it from our bank account accidentally," he reported. "They must have applied someone else's check to our account by mistake."

Countless jokes ensued about how we should quickly pay off the remainder of the loan, get the title, swallow it, then plead ignorance. We even called my dad to see if he paid off the loan (as if he could--he's got six kids and doesn't exactly have the means to go around paying off all of our car loans nor is he given to favoritism). No answer from Dad but we knew what the answer would be. My mind flashed to that day at the Smithsonian.

"Dammit--looks like I'll be calling the auto-loan company on Monday," I declared. "No sense in bringing our son into the world with a pair of felons for parents." Husband readily agreed.

I called the financial company today and the customer service rep was wonderfully helpful. "Wow--you're so honest. I've never run into this situation before but I will remove the payment immediately while we research this."

My mood was sour as I silently cursed my parents for teaching me not to steal.

"Hey--has anyone told you about our rewards program?" the customer service rep asked me.

I brightened. "No, no they haven't," I replied. Rewards program? Were we going to get a reward for our honesty? Would it be money? That is so cool!

"Oh yeah," the rep expanded, "we have a credit card that gives you a reward with each purch..."

Disappointed, I tuned her out. In no way did it ever cross my mind that we would get a reward for doing the right thing, but I wasn't expecting a sales pitch for a credit card either.

As I type this I can think of only one way to feel better about my two great losses: Mama, I want my mood ring!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Baby Update

My older sis left a message the other day wanting to know how I'm doing and letting me know that she's been checking my blog. Obviously I haven't been as diligent about posting to it. No reason, really, except that I have this slave-driver Aussie boss who likes to send me random email at all hours requesting that I build spreadsheets with information that could just as easily be found in the pre-defined QuickBook reports (you know who you are).

Nah...I'm just kidding, really. I'm lucky if I log 7 hours per week at my bookkeeping job and that's somewhat too bad because I actually enjoy the work.

Speaking of crazy Australians, have you read this? Whatever you do, do NOT go to Australia and order a hot fudge sundae!

I have totally noticed that whenever I see something absolutely *crazy* in the news, it happened in Australia. Just an observation. Must be all those criminal genes.

In other news, we had our baby doctor appointment today where they performed another non-stress test to check Little Husband's heart rate (or whatever it is they are checking during this test). The baby doctor said his test results were "textbook beautiful". He also said that this baby doesn't appear to be coming out any time soon. "Oh, I predict he'll be here by Thanksgiving," the baby doctor said, "but I don't think he'll be early."

This was a tremendous relief to me and Husband. Tomorrow I will be 37 weeks pregnant and, quite simply, we're not ready! I mean, we're ready with the baby gear and the nursery and my hospital bag is packed and all that, but emotionally and intellectually and maturity-wise we are soooo not ready! You know, 'cause all that will magically change in three weeks...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Baby Update

Husband and I went to the baby doctor today and had our 35-week ultrasound. Here's our little man just waking up from a nap. He's starting to look like my side of the family. What chubby little cheeks!



He's a little on the small side but nothing alarming. I'll go in for tests next week to measure his movement. I don't know why they need to test anything--this child moves all the time! If I walk, he sticks out his left foot to, presumably, brace himself. If I'm sitting, he pokes out his butt. Tonight he was doing all sorts of crazy things with his hands. For a while there it felt like he was practicing his boxing technique!

I actually had a contraction right there in the doctor's office. As I started to lay back on the examination table, my pelvic area was suddenly seized with a tremendous pain. I thought it was a muscle cramp. "Just a sec," I told the doctor, "I'm getting a cramp but it's passing."

"Actually, you're having a contraction," the doctor told me, "I can see it when I look at your stomach."

He wasn't alarmed so I decided not to be alarmed either. The contraction gradually passed but geez--those things hurt like a mofo! I was actually dizzy and disoriented for a few seconds afterward. If that's what a mild one feels like, I'm not sure how I'd handle the severe ones!

Our baby doctor then went on to describe what Braxton Hicks contractions feel like. "Like mild menstrual cramps," he told us.

"Oh...like I was having on Sunday night." I looked to Husband for affirmation. He nodded. So I'd experienced the famous Braxton Hicks and didn't even know it.

What's next? My water breaks and I just blow that off too?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Am Pregnant Landscaper

Today, as I sat up in my office perch overlooking our front "yard", I found out why our lawn is riddled with trash from time-to-time: it turns out that the landscaping company who maintains the condo complex next door is using a leaf blower to blow all the parking lot trash onto our yard. Not fair! Our lawn guy was just here yesterday and he worked hard to make our postage stamp look green and clean and trash/leaf free.

Mildly amused and wondering how I could handle this situation with humor, I decided to put on an outfit that makes me look my pregnant preggiest. I then hauled tail out the front door, trash bag and tiny rake in hand (I chose the tiny rake to look most pathetic), and proceeded to clean up all the leaves and trash. As I set to work, I made it a point to subtly strain and groan each time I bent over. I was playing on the sympathies of the Mexican workers, you see. I found out long ago that Mexican men are true gentlemen and they hate to see a lady doing manual work. Time after time after time I have had a Mexican gentleman take over whatever task I was performing all the while saying, "This is not work for a lady."

Sure enough, the workers came rushing over, horror in their eyes, and cleaned up our front yard. The only things I can say in Spanish are, "I am not afraid of you", "I am going to punch you in the face" and, "Thanks, my best friend". I chose the latter since it was a little more appropriate than the first two. Hey--at the moment they were my best friends!

I was actually going to take a video of my buddies blowing the trash into our yard (for your viewing pleasure) but I was too slow on the draw. Next time. Of course, my hope is that the next time they're cleaning the parking lot with a leaf blower they will remember me, my pregnant belly and my tiny little rake.

Come to think of it, the next time I see them out there I should run out, set up a ladder and start cleaning the gutters. In December I should set up that same ladder and start stringing lights on the roof. Of course, the baby will be here by then so I'd have to put him in our Baby Bjorn. Either way, I may be able to get a lot of work done around here without having to lift a finger.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Addendums on Finances, Mothers in the Workplace and Motherhood

I heard this today and loved it:

"Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses because the Joneses are broke!"

Love it.

Also, Husband stayed with some friends in Dallas this weekend after the big UT/OU rivalry game (HOOK "EM HOOOOOOORNS!!!!). The wife was put on bed rest during the second month of her pregnancy and will probably continue to do so until the baby is delivered (she is 12 weeks pregnant now). She worked as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company and immediately after she told her superiors of her diagnosis, they fired her. I can understand that being on bed rest prohibits her from being able to perform the duties of her job, and I understand that she is of no use to them if she cannot perform her job, but dang that's cold. Now she is on an expensive Cobra plan that will run out after so many months (6 months? A year?) with no hope of joining her husband's health plan due to "pre-existing conditions" or something along those lines.

I'm curious--could she have filed for disability immediately after receiving her diagnosis in order to prevent being fired? Does anyone know? I heard of a pregnant co-worker doing that once and I always wondered if it was effective.

In other news, I think that Little Husband dropped over the weekend. I had some weird symptoms that I won't get into 'cause my Dad reads this blog and he probably doesn't want to hear about "icky pregnancy stuff" (even though he fathered six children) (all by my mother, lest there be any confusion). The most compelling piece of evidence that I have to support my "baby drop theory" is that he is no longer up under my ribs, I can breath more easily, my acid reflux is gone (no more squished stomach) and whereas I used to feel his kicks at the top of my belly, I now feel them in the middle of my belly. There you have it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mothers in the Workplace

This article made me seethe. In fact, it so struck a nerve in me that in an unprecedented move on my part, I dropped the paper and wrote to the author.

I'm not sure if it's the lack of support for mothers (read: families) in the workplace or the lack of support between women that gets me more. Probably the latter. I can tell you that one of the reasons I decided to stay home as a mother has to do with this very issue. Once-upon-a-time not too long ago, I was a VoIP installation engineer and worked almost exclusively with men. In fact, I'd say that during the last 8 years of my professional career, I worked almost exclusively with men. I cannot count how many times I'd witness one of these guys roll their eyes and say, "the receptionist (or office admin or recruiter or whomever) had to stay home today because one of her kids is sick."

"What else can she possibly do?" I'd ask myself. "She can't take them to daycare, she can't bring them to work and she certainly can't leave them at home alone!"

I'd then start thinking, "Why, in the workplace, do we not support families? Why are we pressured to place our jobs before that which is most important to us--our children's well-being? Don't these guys have families? Weren't they children once?"

It could be my imagination, but this sort of disdain was even more pronounced when the woman was a single mother.

Because I was only seeing this behavior from men, I figured it was a male thing. Of course, this logic is flawed since I didn't have any experiences with women for comparison. I did always assume that women would be more understanding. Now that I see it runs both sides of the fence, I am, well, discouraged.

It was after enough of these episodes that I realized that I intended to avoid this situation, if at all possible, by staying home with my children. Right now I am lucky enough to be able to stay at home, but next year--who knows? Husband works in a volatile career and anything could happen to his job. Anything.

In the meanwhile, I will thank the author of this article for shedding light on the issues that mothers in the workplace confront, and I will make every effort to thank God for each day that I am afforded the privilege of staying home with Little Husband.

My friends, if you ever hear me complaining about it please feel free to show a little of that woman-on-woman hatred and slap me. I'll deserve it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Counting My Blessings

This is a conversation I am 100% confident that I will never, ever have with my parents:

"Have me arrested, Mama! Have me arrested now! Have me arrested and just take all my money, Mama!"

This is a conversation that Santa is having at this very moment with his own mama. I know this because:

1) I truly am becoming the neighborhood busybody, and
2) He's having this telephone conversation at a rather loud volume with his front door wide open. One of my corner office windows overlooks his front door. Naturally I had to open my window so that I could better hear what he is saying. That's what makes me a busybody (that and the fact that I then broadcast the conversation on my blog).

I will keep a watch out for the police. After they come and haul him away, I probably should start digging around for all his money. Just a thought in these troubled times.

I am *so glad* that M2K2 cautioned me out of "hollering" at Santa for Little Husband's gift.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Creative Financing

"You know those baby bibs I bought at the consignment sale last Friday? The plastic ones that came in a pack of 14?" I asked Husband as I fixed dinner last night.

He glanced up from his reading material. "Sure."

"Well, something's wrong with them because they stink terribly. I noticed it when I opened up the package. I even tried washing them but their stench remained and even tainted the rest of the laundry so I had to throw them away. Maria even commented on it when she emptied the trash. They were made in China so Lord knows what's in them!"

"Well that's no good," Husband replied, "how much did you pay for them."

"Oh, they were only $2 so no big deal."

"A cup of coffee!" Husband declared. "You could just skip having a cup of coffee one day to make up for the loss."

I chewed on this thoughtfully for a moment.

"Better yet," I quipped, "We could just not feed the baby during one of his scheduled bottle feedings."

I'm not Done Yet

More on the Credit Crunch...

I jut spoke with a dear friend of mine whom I've known for over 14 years. He is a lawyer, financially responsible, makes an excellent income and is conservative in his spending habits. He makes it a point to save money and also contribute to his 401K each month. His credit rating is impeccable. He has one credit card that is paid in full, on time, at the end of each billing cycle. Yesterday he received a call from this credit card company. They told him that they are reevaluating his line of credit and are freezing the account until they can determine whether or not he is worthy of a continued line of credit.

He, being the responsible person that he is, has no other credit cards. Therefore, it's not as if his creditor is worried that he has too much accessible credit.

If this is happening to someone with a credit history like his, what about the people who use their credit cards as a lifeline? That is to say, what about the people who have no choice but to use their credit cards for staples such as gas, groceries, and utility payments?

Time for a plan B.

-------------------------------

ADDENDUM: I keep meaning to mention this but it continues to slip my mind. The Wall Street Journal had an article in it yesterday about credit card usage. I didn't feel that it was terribly informative and certainly not alarming so it was hardly worth a mention in my posts. One "fact" that they did mention gave me a lot of food for thought. They mention that we, as consumers, really haven't tapped into all our available credit (the exact quote is "Consumers aren't close to maxing out their cards") meaning that we are "fine" because we are not maxing out our credit cards. I beg to differ. Husband and I have two credit cards: one that we use (and pay off) regularly and one that we have in case of emergency. I can't remember the exact credit limit of the combined cards but suffice to say that it's somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000. Let me just tell you now that if we ran up that much debt we would be bankrupt in a matter of months just trying to meet the minimum payment. That's a fact. Okay, it's not really a fact, it's a guess. I haven't done the math. But, knowing our budget, there isn't much wiggle room in there for additional payments of any kind so let's say it's an educated guess. What on earth is going on here?!?!?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Letter from Nephew

Today I received a random letter in the mail from my four-year-old nephew. You know, the one who punched me in the gut when I explained to him that I am pregnant? Anyway, I can't decide whether or not this letter is meant for informational purposes only or if he is writing to appeal for my help in freeing his cat. Either way, I hate cats (which pits me against everyone else in my family) so this is clearly a problem. In fact, it gives me great pleasure to know that the cat in question is "trapped" and therefore cannot attack my head (this has happened a few times with other cats) or gouge my eyes out (hasn't happened yet but it very well could).




I am rather disturbed by the depiction of his mother in the far left corner of the illustration. Where are her arms? Her hair? Did the cat get them? Why is her head cocked to the side, an idiot's grin plastered across her face? My sister-in-law is no idiot, by God! And when did my young nephew learn to write so well?

Feeling the Crunch

I have long had a soapbox that I like to climb on from time-to-time that involves the ever-increasing use of credit cards to finance a lifestyle that some cannot afford. I do not hold myself above anyone else as I have been guilty of this behavior myself. It takes one to know one, so to speak. Still, in my single days with little more than groceries and rent to pay for, I often wondered how acquaintances who made far less than I did were able to afford $700 purses when I felt like I could not. It just didn't make sense. Somewhere along the lines we, as a society, were losing the conservative spending nature taught to us by our parents and grandparents in favor of the trappings of materialism. If not the generation before us, who exactly were we emulating?

Last Fall Husband and I took a trip to Vegas (I on business, he along for the ride). We stayed at MGM's Signature hotel on my company's dollar. It cost $200 per night which was far less than the going rate for almost all of the other hotels on the strip. We dined at the restaurants in the MGM Grand and spent a pretty penny to do so. In one restaurant there wasn't an item on the menu that cost less than $34. Everything was a la carte so the meal price added up very quickly. One steak on the menu actually cost $188!

Shocked by the prices of what is otherwise a very nondescript establishment, I glanced around to see what kind of people patronized this restaurant. They were almost all in their mid to late twenties.

"Trust-fund kids." Husband surmised.

"No, no way," I disagreed, "there aren't that many trust fund babies who would frequent this place---it's not glamorous enough."

That begged the question: if Husband at 45 and I at 36 felt like we could not afford this restaurant on our healthy, dual incomes, how could they?

"Credit cards." I told Husband decidedly. "They're maxing out they're credit cards."

But why? What was prompting this sudden movement of irresponsibility?

I still don't have the answer to that question but, in studying my own behavior, I can make a few good guesses. For instance, I'd never even heard of spending $400 on a pair of Manolo Blahniks until Sex an the City became popular. Through Carrie Bradshaw's character the show glamorized maxing out credit cards in the name of couture. Looking expensive was so damn important, the message told us, that it was worth missing a month's rent payment to do so.

(Note to Dad in case you're having a heart attack right now: I have never spent anywhere near $400 on a pair of shoes. I did on a dress once and felt stupid forever after, so I learned my lesson.)

Then reality shows joined the band wagon. Paris Hilton and her friends became en vogue and, with an insider's view into their lifestyles, we all craved a lifestyle that we could not afford. Or could we?

We opened multiple credit cards and simply transferred balances as the introductory interest rates expired. We made minimum payments and transferred money from savings as we struggled to cover our ever-increasing debt. We did this because buying nice things felt good and we craved the praise we received from our friends with each new purchase. The benefits were affirming and far outweighed the guilt we felt each time we saw our credit card balances rise.

After a while we just quit looking at those credit card balances as we continued to book those trips to Vegas and the slopes of Colorado. Multiple vacations in one year was the norm. We told ourselves that we "deserve it" and that we can "always make more money". We ceased putting money in 401K's and savings was a thing of the past. Who needs savings when our tech stocks will recover and once again catapult us to the ranks of millionaire?

Once upon a time, not too long ago, a LOT of people in Austin were millionaires on paper. They are no more.

This post comes about because I ran into an old acquaintance of mine at Starbucks this morning. (Side note: why am I frequenting Starbucks? I did the math the other day and realized that I could easily waste $100 a month if I gave into my urge to go every day. That's at least one week's worth of groceries for our household.)

Back to my acquaintance.

We were catching up on each other's lives and suddenly she looked crestfallen and placed her hand on my forearm. "You've always been responsible with your money," she began, "can I ask you for some advice?"

"Of course you can." I replied, failing to see the irony as I sipped my $4 decaf latte.

"I'm declaring bankruptcy." she whispered, glancing around with her head ducked in shame. "It just got out of control. I've tried everything to prevent it but it seems inevitable. I've had my house on the market since July but it won't sell. We just lowered the price yesterday and, if it sells, I won't make one single dime off it. I have $29,000 racked up on my credit cards and, with my child turning 18 this past summer, I no longer receive child support. I thought I was using it for her, but I guess I was using it to support my lifestyle. When I was married my husband made well over $200K, you see, and I guess I'm just accustomed to that lifestyle. I have a hard time cutting back. I really like nice things."

I murmured sympathetically. I do understand. Completely.

She continued. "I have spoken with two attorneys and we determined that the best thing to do is cash out my 401K and either use the money to pay off my car (which she bought brand new in 2006 for $40,000) or have my car repossessed and buy a newer model car that will last longer. What do you think? What would you do?"

Inwardly I was freaking out for my friend but outwardly I remained calm. Here's why I was freaking out: this woman is in her fifties and is going to cash out her 401K. What on earth will she do when she needs to retire? How will she replenish that money in time? Also, she bought a car, a nice car, for $40,000 in 2006. $40,000 is a LOT for a car! I can understand wanting a nice car, but the used car market is pretty good and far more economical. There are ways to afford things you want, if you're willing to put your ego aside. In addition, I distinctly remember her asking me for financial advice in 2006 because she was overspending. This was before she bought the car. What happened?

Then there's the issue of having a car repossessed. I remember not too long ago that having a car repossessed was something people kept to themselves out of shame. Bankruptcy too. Now, I guess, it's just so common that no one thinks twice about weighing the pros and cons of it over gourmet coffee.

"This is all my own fault," she confessed, wiping away her tears. "I mostly spent money on helping my kids and giving them the things they need. I mean, my daughter needed a new car for college so how could I not do that for her? And then there's my adult son who needs help from time-to-time. My 83 year-old mother has helped me out financially to the point where it should be embarrassing but still I am in this mess. My ex husband has even helped me out financially--he's given me thousands and thousands of dollars to get me out of these holes--yet I still have to sell my house and declare bankruptcy. I did it to myself."

My heart broke for her. Clearly she is responsible for the situation she is in but it is just as clear that she is willing to accept the blame. Her justifications were interesting. No college kids needs a new car, necessarily, but that's not for me to judge. What's worth considering is that she's having all this trouble yet not one major financial catastrophe has befallen her such as a serious illness or disability. What happens if it comes to that? What happens if you declare bankruptcy and then have something serious, like a huge medical bill, to pay? I honestly have no idea.

I do know, however, that given the right circumstances I--hell--any of us could be in her Manolo Blahniks.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Coming to Terms

“I’m almost full term!” I declared to Husband as I set down my laptop and stood up to make my point. “Full term!” I declared again, leaning towards him, fists clenched, eyes like saucers.

Husband glanced up distractedly from his laptop. “Full term?” he indulged. (Really, he was busy and I was distracting him with my banalities.)

“Yes! Apparently full term is 37 weeks and I am almost full term. Wwwwow!”

And with that, I did what any normal pregnant woman would do in a moment of extreme excitement: I ran off to use the bathroom.

Of Wayward Pizza Dough and Gentle Pushes

I continue to shake my head at the fact that I am now a full-blown 33 weeks pregnant. I think back to when I first found out and told Husband that we are expecting a baby. It seems like only last month!

We're almost fully prepared for the baby and are so excited although I definitely have my moments. For the most part this has been a good pregnancy save for those horrible stomach aches I get from time-to-time (the doctor says it's pregnancy-related and should cease after the little babola is born). Thank goodness for that!

This is why I get stomach aches:



At 5'2" tall and with legs that are long for my height, there isn't much room in my torso for the babola. Consequently, he's squashing everything. Look at the intestines in that diagram!

This past weekend was particularly tiring physically. Husband took me out on a romantic date on Friday night. We went to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner and then on to the lounge at The Four Seasons where our corner table allowed us to monitor the comings and goings of the beautiful people of Austin. Husband ordered a Merlot and I ordered a glass of skim (milk). I am so glamorous!

Saturday I attended a Pilates/Yoga fusion class at my gym. There was another pregnant woman in the class who was five months pregnant and obviously freaked out to be exercising during pregnancy. I felt sorry for her as she continually drew the instructor's attention as she struggled with each pose. Hey, I struggle too but for some reason the instructor left me alone. This is possibly because if I cannot do a pose and the instructor looks my way, I glare back defiantly as I perform my own modifications to the pose. Anyway, at the end of the class I heard the instructor tell the woman that the class "isn't really for pregnant women."

"Well I'm coming anyway!" I announced, butting into their conversation. "I only have about five good weeks of exercising left and I don't intend to give it up. There are only a few classes offered here that pregnant women can participate in and I think it's too bad that you're discouraging us from coming to this class. I find that the stretching alone is tremendously beneficial to my pregnancy."

I'm certain that I shot myself in the foot with this instructor. Next week she'll probably make the class harder just to show me that I can't do it.

Yoga aside, for some reason I was *exhausted* this weekend. We were pretty active so I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. Also, Little Husband is definitely going through some sort of a growth spurt so I was achy and tired most of Saturday and Sunday. I hate that feeling. I hate not being able to predict my body or, at times, my moods. I guess I'm not one of those women who embrace pregnancy. It's fine, but I don't love it like some of my friends did. I feel very lucky that I have an incredibly kind and understanding husband who encourages me to rest when I am tired and never makes me feel like a lazy sot if the laundry isn't put away the minute it comes out of the dryer. In fact, if he sees that I am aching he'll jump up and, after gently pushing me towards the couch, finish whatever housekeeping task I was in the middle of. Then he'll join me on the couch and rub my back. This is a good man.

I'm also lucky that Husband is incredibly understanding about the various moods that accompany late-pregnancy. Last night I felt like I was going to have a meltdown because the homemade pizza dough wouldn't stretch the way I wanted it to (feel free to laugh!). For some reason I did not have the resources to deal with wayward pizza dough and I about went over the edge. Husband, in his infinite patience and kindness, talked me down from the cliff and within minutes I was back to normal.

Yes, with pregnancy comes its ups and downs and I'm finding out how important it is to have that man by your side who will support you either way. At least three times per week I will walk several miles around my neighborhood or the lake. If he's home, Husband will join me. I've mentioned in past blogs that I treasure this time with Husband as we have our best conversations when we go for long walks. What I didn't mention is that during these walks, almost without fail, I will feel Husband's hand on the small of my back, gently pushing me as I struggle up the hills. I've never asked him to help me, he just does it. I guess you could say that he's literally "got my back".

This is a good man.

Monday, September 22, 2008

No you can't pinch an inch on meeeee!

So... I am sitting here reading email, absentmindedly pinching the side of my waist in order, I guess, to see how many inches I can pinch. Know how many I came up with? None! It turns out that when your belly is distended and stretching your skin all taut-like, there’s nothing left over to pinch. For the first time in months, I feel skinny!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I, too, live in a bubble.

This came to me in an email today from a local gym. I had no idea it was this bad...

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Femme,

A story from a friend of BodyBusiness...

On Saturday afternoon I was running errands and went to Randall's in Rollingwood. An older lady was holding the hand of a little boy and staring up at the store. I walked past her and thought she must be confused or something, but kept on with a cart full of kids and ice cream. When I got to my car and was unloading she approached me and with her voice quivering she asked me for a ride back to the shelter at Hill Country Middle School. She had walked over to Randall's looking for her husband, who had left the shelter hours before, and was with her 7 year old grandson. She was hot and exhausted. I gave them a ride to the school and saw the people there outside looking a bit sad in more than one way. The lady looked at me and said, "May I ask you one other favor?" Now, living in the bubble I do I thought she was going to ask for money. But, she didn't. She asked if I would pray for her and her family. She was so scared that they had lost everything. Her family had ridden the bus from Galveston and they were not allowed to return. Her daughter and 3 year old granddaughter were inside the shelter. Then she said she was going to pray for me, because God sent me to her at that very needed moment.

I left and drove out feeling empty. I felt like I should have done more, but what? I thought about that family all weekend and called the school today to see if they were still there. Their evacuees had been relocated to the Convention Center.

I called the convention center and wasn't able to get much info. They said the evacuees are being locked in and no one else is coming into their section. She referred me to the Austin Red Cross and the Capital Area Food Bank. The lady at the Red Cross said the Food Bank was providing all their food, but the Red Cross was taking care of their shelter and basic needs. I asked what they really needed and she said, "It's a bad, bad situation. They need so much." She said donations are needed to them of course. I thought about those little kids being locked inside and asked if I could take some toys up there and she said I wasn't supposed to, but she felt as though I wouldn't be turned away.

The Food Bank had a sadder story. As of TODAY, they ran out of money and food to support the 2000 (+) evacuees. They have nothing left to give until they get donations of money and food. The evacuees are going to be supported by random shelters and groups until something happens. I didn't realize how bad the situation was in Galveston until yesteray. Those folks may not be able to return home for a month. Can you imagine?

Donate online to American Red Cross of Central Texas: Click here.
View most needed items at the Capital Area Food Bank: Click here.

BodyBusiness will be collecting items to deliver to the Capital Area Food Bank from now thru Friday.
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I'll have to speak with Husband tonight to see what we can do to contribute. We can't let the food bnk run out of food--that's unthinkable.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Crushed It With My Bare Hands!

Today the lamp shade was delivered for Little Husband's new nursery lamp. This was good news because the lamp itself was delivered several weeks ago and has been sitting, bare and alone, on top of the dresser. These were shower gifts purchased at Restoration Hardware Baby so they aren't items that can be replaced inexpensively.

I unwrapped the lamp shade from its packaging and dashed up the stairs to affix it to its base. Not satisfied with the seemingly crooked angle of the shade, I worked the shade to try and straighten it out. The angle didn't change so I grabbed hold of the base and harp and attempted to align the shade by bending the harp. The next thing I knew, I heard a shatter and looked down to see the lamp base in one hand and the shade (still attached to the harp) in the other. I was crushed.

My first thought was that of Husband killing me for busting a brand new lamp. Being one of six kids, I am quite adept at covering up my screwups. If, for some reason, I couldn't cover them up, I'd blame one of my siblings. I didn't have this option as I immediately raced downstairs for the Krazy Glue. (Side note: my older sister, known as "Blank" in the comments section of this blog, was especially good for finger pointing purposes. One time when I was 9 or 10 I wrote myself a check from my mother's checkbook. I made it out in the amount of $1,000,000. When my mother asked me about it, I denied all knowledge and blamed my sister which was a pretty bold move seeing as how the check was made out in my handwriting.)

Krazy Glue in hand, I attempted to piece the lamp back together. Having no patience, I liberally poured glue all over the cracks and tried to set the pieces. It didn't look that great but the cracks were at the top of the lamp so I figured that the shade would cover them. Then I realized that Krazy Glue had dripped (and dried) all down the sides of the lamp as well so I busted out the nail polish remover.

Here is the net result:



Turns out that nail polish removes removes everything (i.e., glaze) from a lamp *except* Krazy Glue.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In-tro-doo-cing Little HUSBAAAAAAND!!!!

I had a DVD laying around the house that they gave us after our 28-week 4D sonogram. I decided to look at it today thinking it was just more of those creepy "Elmer Fudd in a Casket" photos that I really don't care to see. Imagine my delight when I discovered that it was actually video footage of Little Husband! Here he is sucking his thumb. He takes after his mother there, I cannot lie.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Football! Basketball!

Lately Husband has taken to lying his head gently on my belly at bedtime while talking to our son. Oftentimes Little Husband will move around and "thump" at Husband's head which never fails to delight us. Last night, however, Little Husband was steadfastly unmoving as we tried to cajole him into responding to our voices.

Then husband started talking about the upcoming football season and my son became a whirling dervish.

Tonight Husband laid his ear against my belly and again started talking to the baby but there was no movement. Then, as a test, husband said, "Football". The baby thumped against Husband's ear so hard that it physically moved his head! "Football! Basketball!" Husband called out. Thump thump replied the baby. I was incredulous yet laughing to the point of tears.

My hope is that the baby was responding to the excitement in Husband's voice as he named off his two favorite sports. My *fear* is that I am surrounded by sports nuts and will never again have control of the TV remote!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Neighborly

From my perch up in our office loft I stare out the window that overlooks our front yard and can't help but notice the comings and goings of my neighbors. I guess, unwittingly, I am the neighborhood busybody. Since my busy street is on a bus line there are a number of characters who pass by my house daily. Truth be told, I worry about them if I don't see them for a few days.

There's "Sundress Lady" who wears thin, brightly colored cotton sundresses and walks with an osteoporadic stoop that belies her years. She has the dull skin and gaunt frame of someone who prefers to nourish her body with drugs rather than food. Then there's "Crazy Box Guy" who can always be found wandering around the corner bus stop at 1:30 in the afternoon. With a file box tucked under one arm, he curls his free hand into a fist and pounds at the sky while cursing his enemies, real or imagined.

And then there's "Santa"...

I've mentioned my quirky neighbor Santa in a previous post. I see him no less than twice per day as he makes his way to and from one of the many bus stops that line our street. I always make it a point to wave and call out "hello" to him, even if he doesn't always return my greeting. Santa is quite a mystery to me as I can never quite place a pattern on his comings and goings. He leaves his house at all different times and never sits at the same bus stop twice. Some days I've seen him waiting for the bus for as long as two hours yet I've never actually seen him board a bus. I assume he has a job somewhere as he carries a lunch thermos and sometimes wears what appears to be a uniform. Other days find him wearing a ratty t-shirt and shorts. I can't imagine what type of job he's reporting to in that attire, but the lunch pail lends credibility to the fact that he's going somewhere that involves a lunch break.

While backing out of our driveway this morning I noticed someone stopped dead on the sidewalk, as if I'd cut off their walking path with my car. Embarrassed, I glanced over and saw that it was Santa and he was staring at me with a very level gaze.

"Hey there, how are you doing?" I called out, all friendly-like.

His rheumy eyes continued to stare at me as if he found it difficult to focus. Finally, in his deep east Texas drawl he spoke.

"Ah been good. It's a mah-ty nice da-ay. Say...Ah got sumpin' fer ya. It's fer the new addition to yer household."

For one confused moment I thought he was referring to the sunroom addition that we built last year. I was thinking that he intended to gift us with a potted plant, or something. Then I realized that he meant the baby.

"Well, wow!" I called out. "That's incredibly nice of you!"

"Ahhhh, ain' nuthin' to it. Ah, kind of found it, actually. Yew see, it has to do with some property that was stolen and then replaced. Ah cleaned it up good and got it workin'...yew see, some property was stolen but it didn't cost hardly nuthin' to fix it up...it'll be somethin' for your little baby to learn with over the years."

Stolen property? Cleaned up? What on earth...

"Well it's wonderful of you to think of us. I can hardly wait to see it."

"Okay now, well...yew just holler at me next time yer home and Ah'll bring it on over."

As unusual as the gift might turn out to be, I am touched. Unbeknownst to me, all this time we've been keeping tabs on Santa, he's been keeping tabs on us as well. In thinking about it, I realize now that his front window looks directly up into our nursery. He's probably seen me puttering around up there--moving a picture here, placing a lamp there, and dreaming of our little baby. Somewhere along the line, I guess he got caught up in the dream too.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Defining Wealth

"What's on your mind?" Husband asked as we walked along the shore of Seven Mile Beach.

"Oh, nothing!" I replied, a little too quickly.

Husband knows me better than that. "Out with it," he responded.

"Oh--it's really nothing. I was just worrying about Maria a little bit. I think she's having financial problems. I mean, her cell phone's been cut off..."

Husband groaned outwardly, knowing all too well what was on my mind.

"Don't worry," I assured him, "I'm not going to do anything about it."

The truth is, I was at that very moment planning exactly what I was going to do about it. I was going to find stuff to sell on Ebay in order to help her out.

"We can't save everyone, you know."

Husband was right. We can't. Still...if it was money that I earned from selling something of mine, then it wouldn't impact our family. Six months out of work and I still feel bad about blindly spending the money that Husband works so hard to earn. One day I will get over this, but for now...

"I was thinking about finding some of my stuff to sell on Ebay!" I blurted out. I can't keep secrets from him. "Then I could give her the money as...as a bonus, or something!"

"A bonus?" husband asked.

"Yes, I mean, she's done a fantastic job as our housekeeper so why shouldn't we give her a mid-year bonus. Honey, I really think she's in trouble financially and her daughter's birthday is coming up."

It doesn't take much to convince my sweet husband to do something nice for someone else. He is extremely generous.

"You don't need to sell your stuff, that's silly. Let's give her that bonus!"

A few days later I shyly (I don't know why I was shy about it) approached Maria with the money. I explained to her how grateful we are for all of her hard work and wanted to show our appreciation. Much to my surprise, she burst into tears.

"Oh God bless you, God bless you!" she said in her thick, Hispanic accent. "You have no idea how much I need this right now. May God bless you and give you much more! "

I was dumbstruck that my instincts were so right but aware enough to at least give her a warm hug.

"You absolutely deserve it," I told her.

A few nights later found us dining with some friends at a moderately priced Mexican restaurant. We only get to see this couple twice per year but still consider them to be dear friends. The conversations are usually lively and informative and tonight was no different as the husband half of this duo waxed eloquent about the real estate they just bought, the fancy cars they drive and the private school they send their children to.

"I mean, I make a lot of money--a LOT of money--and if I want to buy property and flip it for profit, why, that's good for the economy! If the politicians raise the taxes of the wealthy, then I couldn't afford to buy that second house which would be a shame because I am providing jobs for people!" The husband was on a roll.

Something told me that even if his taxes were raised, he could afford that second home. Something also told me that if the taxes of the wealthy aren't raised, then the burden may be distributed among all economic classes. My mind flashed to Maria.

I don't profess to be a Rhodes Scholar when it comes to political matters and I don't argue points that I myself don't understand. For this, I kept my mouth shut but inside I was churning.

Later that night as we walked the dogs I noticed that husband seemed down.

"What's the matter?" I asked him.

"Oh---I just wish I could provide for you more than I do."

"When you say 'provide', do you mean that you wished you made more money?"

"Something like that," he said.

I stopped walking, stunned. We *just* returned from a trip to the Cayman Islands. He bought me a piano for my birthday. Our home is nice, our cars are new and we eat out regularly. We have a housekeeper, for crying out loud! We manage all of this without going into debt. We want for nothing.

"Sweetheart," I stepped in front of him and looked at him earnestly, "You are a fantastic provider. Flawlessly so. You provide a loving home and immense security. More importantly, we have a happy home and you are the primary reason why!"

"I don't know about that," he hesitated. "I just wish I was as successful as some of my friends."

"Do not compare yourself with others for either you will become vain or bitter," I quoted.

"True." he replied, but I could tell that he wasn't convinced.

"Honey--first of all, you are successful. Second of all, we are wealthy--just in a different way. We may not have the tremendous monetary wealth that some of our friends do, but do you know what? Even if we did, there would always be someone who has more, so don't fall into those trappings. Instead, think about all the things we do have. We have our health. We have wonderful families. We have a great marriage, great dogs and a baby on the way. We have fantastic friends. All of these things mean so, so much more than a bank account that boasts seven figures. The truth is, there are far more complications tied to wealth than there is happiness. I love our life the way it is, and I love the way that you provide for us. You're home at a decent hour every night, you can take time off whenever you want, and you're never too tired to give yourself to your family. In my opinion, we are wealthy beyond measure."

I know I said a lot more than this because I talked non-stop for a quarter mile. When I know what I'm talking about, it's almost impossible to shut me up.

As his spirits raised mine sank a little. It always breaks my heart when I discover that something's bothering Husband. Glancing inwardly, I thought about that new car I've been hinting for. The home renovations I keep suggesting. The fancy gym I'd like to join. Husband always responds to these requests in good humor, but my materialistic streak must put a strain on him. When is enough enough? I realized that it is my actions that make husband feel like he's not making enough, and this has to stop. If there's anyone who needs to remember to be content with what they have, it's me.

I think about Maria and how she must feel as she makes her way through our home, carefully wiping the dust off all of our possesions. I think about the things I take for granted such as cell phones and birthday parties. I think about how wealthy Husband and I must seem from her perspective and I feel ashamed for ever wanting more.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Celebrations

Yesterday (which still feels like today since I am typing this at 1 am) I turned 37 and today Little Husband reached 24 weeks. A milestone for both of us since I don't like the number six and longed to reach the next age. As for Little Husband's milestone, well, it's always good when he turns a week older. Now I can sit comfortable knowing that I am officially 37 years old and that Little Husband has developed that much further.

I spent the day spending spa gift certificates which I found to be an excellent way to celebrate a birthday. My older sister eerily read my mind yesterday and sent me an e-giftcard for a one-hour off-the-charts pedicure. I literally opened the email minutes after thinking, "Oh yuck--I really need a pedicure!"

In other birthday news, the love of my life gifted me with a new love of my life--a full-size digital piano! I have wanted a piano ever since I was very, very young. Once upon a time my parents had an old, beat-up black upright but they got rid of it after repeatedly instructing my brother and sister and me not to bang on it (although our banging on it is probably not why they got rid of the piano). I loved banging on that piano and have missed it ever since.

After playing my piano for a few hours this evening I asked Husband if I could take it to bed with me but he said "no". He's unreasonable like that. I had to console myself by playing it for another hour after he went to bed. Now I need to give it a name...



Fortunately, this is not its permanent place of rest. The piano store sold husband the wrong stand so he is going to correct the situation after work today. He's also going to buy me a bench. Of course, in no time I will be playing like Harry Connick Jr. so a bench won't be necessary!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

There's Poop in There!

"I see now why your A/C hasn't been working properly," the repairman said to Husband, "someone's been dumping poop into your duct work.

Not surprised, Husband turned my way. "Aha," he said, "That's what we've been smelling these last few weeks."

"No, no--that was the dog and she was sick. We had that carpet cleaned already. Remember? It cost us $200!"

I was having a hard time understanding how Husband could forget that incident. It will be forever etched in my mind.

"Excuse me sir," I directed towards the repairman, "Would you mind telling me how you troubleshot this situation and any steps I might be able to take myself to fix it?" This is common question that I pose to repairmen. They rarely take me seriously and thus never seem to mind schooling me on the ins-and-outs of their trade.

"Well...I don't know. This is pretty complicated stuff." The gruff repairman looked dubious.

"Just an overview, then," I negotiated. "I know a little bit about A/C units and can even troubleshoot the LEDs on some models."

He relaxed. "Oh...okay. Normally I wouldn't take a little lady like you seriously, but you seem like you would absorb this pretty well. You see, it all starts with the compressor..."

Suddenly I realized that my head felt groggy and my speech was sluggish. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open. In fact, suddenly my eyes were shut and I couldn't seem to open them. My head weighed a ton and was pounding. I needed to lie down.

Then I realized I *was* lying down and my eyes wouldn't open because I was asleep and having a dream. A vibrant, lifelike, poop dream.

Yesterday my equally realistic dreams were about rats crawling in my bed.

Gotta love being pregnant.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Business Here, By God!

I contacted my Professional Business Coaching buddies in Florida to see what they could do for me. They not only "polished up" my hairstyle and dress, they also managed to polish 20 years off my face and body. Unfortunately in the midst of all that polishing they seem to have rubbed my eyebrows off, but I forgive them. Miracle workers!



I'm Calling "B.S."...

This woman is not pregnant.



Do you know how I know? Because I *am* pregnant and pregnant women can spot their own. Why do they take an emaciated teenager, slap a belly pad on her and stick her in a maternity dress? Where are the boobs? The bloating? The altered stance resulting from chronic lower back pain?

Judging from her belly if she were pregnant, she'd be about 8 months along and would NOT have stick arms.

Nope, not pregnant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Have Just Become *That Parent*

I just mailed off a preschool application for Little Husband. I do believe that this pregnancy has brought me to a new low. The next thing you know, I'll be attending fundraisers and rubbing elbows with tenured professors in order to secure his spot in the Ivy League.

No need to say it--I make even myself sick.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Business Where?

It's 2 am and I'm suffering a little mid-trimester insomnia these days so I decided to peruse the Internet for information about Perdido Key, FL. Perdido Key is significant because we plan to take a trip there in August. I stumble upon one of those chamber web sites and start clicking on all the links to see where they will take me. I click on the "Local Services" link which lists local businesses such as tax accountants, photographers, etc. This picture actually accompanied a business that specializes in "Professional Business Coaching".



I'm not saying she looks bad by any stretch, because she doesn't. I'm just saying that if someone coached me into that hairstyle, those sunglasses and that tank top under the guise of "polishing my professional image", I'd want my money back.

Then again, if I looked like her I probably wouldn't need my money back because I would have picked up some rich, Floridian retiree.

And while we're polishing our professional image, how about we polish the cover of that laptop!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Oh Yeah...

Yesterday, I walked four miles, then hiked another two. On Saturday I lifted weights for an hour. Today, I parked here:



I felt a little guilty so I arched my back and, for the first time in the history of my prenancy, attempted to look more pregnant than I am. Fearing that wasn't enough, I put my hand on my lower back and groaned a little. Regardless of whether I deserve rockstar parking or not, I intend to take advantage of this all. throughout. my pregnancy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kids These Days

"Aunt Femme, why can't we ride Space Mountain?" my four year-old nephew asked, his baby hand clasped trustingly in my own. "We can't ride because you're too little and I have a little, tiny baby growing in my belly," I told him.

This caught his attention as he regarded my stomach. We were in line at Disney World, waiting to board some sort of kiddie spaceship ride. Sweat was pouring from our brows as the sun beat down on us yet he was doing everything in his power to be a good little boy. I love my nephew as if he were my own.

Still thinking about the news I'd delivered to him, he reached over and patted my stomach. Then, he lifted the hem of my shirt ever so slightly for a peak underneath. Finding nothing of interest, he released my shirt and went back to patting my belly.

"There's a baby in there?" he asked in his innocent, little boy voice.

"There sure is," I told him eagerly. "Aunt Femme is going to have a baby in a few months!"

He thought some more and then...

He reared back and punched me in the gut.

I guess that's one way to knock out the competition.

---------------------------------------------------

Same scenario but this time I'm at Epcot by myself on a park bench waiting for Husband to get off some G-Force ride (I don't speak space lingo so forgive me if I worded that incorrectly). Since I have nothing better to do than people watch, I people watched my head off.

A mid-forties couple crosses my line of site and they look like something out of an ad for a Disney family vacation. Mom's got the "mom shorts" (loose fitting khakis that fall to her knees and rise to her naval) coupled with a modest, tucked-in polo shirt and a white sun visor. White socks and Keds top off the ensemble. Dad's wearing similar attire. These parents have "Ultra Conservative Bordering on Nerdy" written all over them. Their idea of kinky is using tongue. And their teenage daughter?

She was sporting a half tee, short, Catholic schoolgirl skirt and knee pads.

Something tells me that her parents didn't get the implication...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not-Exactly-a-Baby Bjorn

I realize that I am seriously challenged in all things baby and my complacent attitude hasn't helped matters any (I haven't read more than a few pages of the 20+ baby books that my wonderful friends graciously lent me) but I must admit that I am outright annoyed by how complicated most baby gear is. Usually I can just look at something and figure out how it works. Not where baby gear is concerned! The other morning I decided to take my Baby Bjorn for a test drive using The Little Rabblerouser as a model and I failed miserably. I couldn't instantly figure out how the straps connect so I just made up my own (extremely incorrect) way of connecting them. The result was a rather unhappy, uncomfortable, lop-sided passenger:



Not to be crude, but since only adults read my blog I will make an exception: Husband took one look at this picture and remarked that I need to "trim the hedge", so to speak. We're so classy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A/C Update

Something's terrbly wrong when the region's record temperatures are actually occuring inside your house.

Thermostat reading this afternoon:



Thermostat reading this evening:



Somebody needs killin'...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Terror at the Dog Park

"I've been shit on!"

Thinking I was hearing things, I turned to see Husband standing thirty yards away, under a patch of trees. The tree limbs sagged as a flood of grackles lit upon them. It was feasible that I heard correctly, however, something seemed off..

Husband remained rooted in place, staring at me plaintively. Then he took the hem of his shirt and began wiping his face with it. Hoping that it was just sweat from the 90+ temperature, I ran to him anyway.

"I've been shit on." Husband repeated calmly. "It hit my forehead, then down my nose, then on my chin." He continued angrily wiping his face and head, then glanced down at his soiled t-shirt. "I look like I've been working on cars all day," he grumbled.

Once per day I find another reason to admire my husband. This was today's incident. Had I been shit upon the face by a bird, I would have freaked the holy hell out, cut off my head, dropped it in a vat of boiling bleach and screamed for a portable shower.

"Let's walk over to the park," Husband said. Then he looked around. "Where are the dogs?"

In the excitement of the bird plop incident, all three of our dogs had disappeared. We weren't too worried because we were almost at the dog park but still...our dogs have a way of horrifying us and it usually happens when our guard is down.

Heading in the direction of the park, we began calling our dogs. One by one they materialized out of nowhere and joined our grand parade.

Running merrily ahead, Helicopter Butt spotted some potential dog friends and ran off to join them. Husband, Le Pooch Grande and Little Rabblerouser raced ahead to the field for a game of fetch. I moseyed along behind them, content to enjoy the breeze coming off the lake.

Twenty yards later I spotted Helicopter Butt. He had planted himself firmly between a couple who was sitting on a blanket, enjoying a picnic. Helicopter Butt started rooting around the picnic spread, obviously looking to steal food. Embarrassed by my dog's rudeness, I considered running over to intervene. Right then three other dogs joined the mix. "Serves them right for having a picnic in dog park." I thought to myself. "Who does that anyway?" Still, I picked up my speed as I headed towards Helicopter Butt.

Just as I got within ten feet of the blanket, Helicopter Butt lifted his leg and peed on their picnic. Horrified, the couple reared back, then swiveled their heads like periscopes as they looked for his owner.

And I? I kept walking, right on by.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Seven Day Forecast? 100 Degrees Every. Single. Day!

"...and the temperature went from 101 to 92 degrees after the rain showers so that's good news for those who needed a break from the heat."

"Break from the heat?" I asked the TV newscaster from my new permanent post in our sunroom. "Who are you kidding?"

I am bitter, of course. Ninety-two degrees is a break after the triple-digit temperatures we've been experiencing lately but I have a hard time seeing it that way due to the oven-like temperatures emanating from the second floor of our home.

Sunday night I started up the stairs to get ready for bed and was met with a wall of heat as I turned the corner on our landing. "What the...?" I asked myself as I hurried over to the upstairs thermostat. It read 78 degrees. "That's odd," I thought to myself, "I have it set to hold at 70 degrees (I can't sleep if it's over 70)--how can it be all the way up to 78?"

Then I remembered last Summer...

It was the day before our wedding, to be exact. We woke up to blue skies and birds singing and...a really hot first floor. Fortunately, we have two A/C units (one for each floor) so at least the sleeping floor was cool. There was no way I was going to sweat the night away on the eve of my wedding (not to mention that we had house guests). I set Husband-to-be on the arduous task of scheduling a repairman and thought nothing more about it. The next day the guy came and informed us that we had a broken compressor. "Yeah--I see this all the time with this model A/C unit," he told us. "Have you replaced the compressor on your other unit? If you haven't, you will soon!"

"Soon" came almost exactly one year later as I discovered this past Sunday. "Husband, come here!" I called. Husband walked over to the thermostat where I was standing. "See this?" I asked, indicating the temperature displayed on the thermostat. "This is a broken compressor problem. This is exactly what that technician warned us about last summer."

"No...it's definitely not the compressor." Husband replied, ever the all-knowing macho man. "I can hear air blowing and that wouldn't be happening if the compressor were broken."

Of course I argued with him for a while. As a field technician, I learned to quickly troubleshoot problems by identifying patterns. There was definitely a problem and it mirrored last year's broken compressor scenario. Husband grudgingly agreed to call the repairman the next day and we slept that night on top of the blankets and sheets.

The next day I was sick and slept most of the day away. I was feeling so bad that I called Husband at work and asked him to come home at 4 and wait for the repair guy because I couldn't get out of bed. He gallantly obliged.

Two repairmen came and spent over an hour looking at our A/C unit and compressor. I can't put my finger on why I felt this way, but at some point I got a vibe that they weren't very competent. At 6:15 pm they informed us that we had a faulty compressor and that they would need to order a new part. This was no problem since the upstairs was cooling partially--at least enough for us to sleep. We went about our night and thought nothing of it.

At midnight, I ascended the stairs, turned the corner on the landing and was met with a wave-like wall of heat that was stifling. I rushed over to the thermostat. It read 91 degrees.

"Holy crap!" I exclaimed. "Those bastards broke our A/C unit completely! No wonder they were in such a rush to get out of here!"

And so began our night of torment. We tried sleeping on top of the covers again, but it wasn't happening. Instead, we had one of those long, soul-searching conversations like the ones you have when you're first dating (it was fun!). At 2 am we relocated to the downstairs couch (Husband) and the sunroom couch (me). I tossed and turned but couldn't sleep for more than 20 minutes at a stretch (Husband slept just fine, thankfully). I needed my bed.

I mounted the stairs and braced myself for the heat. The thermostat read 85 degrees. I don't think I fell asleep, rather, I believe that I simply fainted for six hours. A least it was enough to get me through today.

I spent two hours this morning searching for a company that rents out portable A/C units but found none. Someone is missing out on a HUGE business opportunity. This is Texas, after all, and A/C units break all the time here. I called our A/C repair company and harassed them for a while. I even played the pregnancy card with the sweet, 20 year-old customer service rep which got me *nowhere* (she can't empathize--she's never been pregnant). Finally I resorted to making myself feel better by 1) leaving the house, and 2) complaining to anyone who would listen.

Tonight Husband is going to gallantly carry a mattress down the stairs (the thermostat now reads 92) and place it in the sunroom for me. Who knows how long it will be before the A/C unit gets fixed?

Of course, first thing tomorrow I will be busy harassing our repair company. I might even have to shed a pregnant tear or two.

Addendum:

Husband duly hauling The World's Thickest Mattress out to the sunroom.



My new sleeping quarters ala Princess and the Pea. I practically need a step ladder to mount the damn thing.