Thursday, December 11, 2008

Everything seems to be up in the air at this point

Just a quick note to say I'll be on hiatus for a week-ish. We're moving this weekend and we won't have internet (aieee!) in Richmond until the 27th. Friggin' Verizon. But we'll be staying with my dad and stepmom for a few days over Christmas, so there should be some opportunity to get online then, I hope.

In case I don't get to say it at the appropriate time, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukah and a Kickin' Kwanzaa and a Groovy Winter Solstice and all that. Nolan knows that Santa will be looking for him at Grandma and Pappy's house, so don't worry about him. They will have a tree and decorations up, and we'll bring our stockings.

Hope y'all's holidays are happy and healthy. Best wishes for 2009.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Shellfish is an abomination

Just in case y'all haven't seen this yet...

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

JB as JC. Awesome.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sleep on the left side, keep your sword hand free

Yes, we're all still alive. Sorry for the lack of updates (is it my imagination, or is that phrase in every third post on this blog?) but we've been crazy busy lately. We're arranging movers and signing a lease, connecting utilities and making doctor's appointments, returning rental cars and packing boxes. Yea, I say unto thee, we are busy as fuck.

But enough about all that. What I really want to do today is chronicle more...

[insert 60s educational filmstrip music]

...Indignities Of Pregnancy!


Starting with boobs.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a fan of boobs, they are one of the pinnacles of human evolution, I agree with you there. Playthings, food sources, sex there anything boobs can't do?

But occasionally, as when you are pregnant and throbbing with 33% more fluid volume than in your non-pregnant state, the boobs can become...a bit much. Take my boobs, for example. Please. (Ba-dum-bum.) No really, I would give anything to have detachable boobs right at this moment. (That was the alternate song lyric title source for this post - King Missile's "Detachable Penis." But I wasn't sure anyone would get the connection.) They are so incredibly, enormously unwieldy and...big. They're heavy. They're itchy. They're cumbersome. It would be a relief to just rip them off via a handy velcro strip and put them on the nightstand while I sleep.

I have had to buy new bras, of course, but not too many new bras, because you don't want to go investing in the complete spectrum of 38 DDDs when a month later you will have outgrown them and need to invest in even larger bras. (The advice for new bras whilst pregnant is completely contradictory to new bra advice normally - you want to buy them so that the bra fits well on the smallest set of hooks, giving you theoretical room to expand as your boobs expand, whereas in a normal new bra situation, you want the bra to fit well on the largest set so you can tighten the bra as the elastic starts to stretch out and not support as well. Or something like that. And lingerie purveyors of the world, can we please standardize our friggin' bra sizing already? Is it an F cup? Or a DDD? Consistency, please, people!)

KB put one of my newer bras on his head the other night (yes, his entire head fit in one cup - granted, he has a smallish head, but still) and starting shouting, "Pilot to bombadier, pilot to bombadier, we've reached altitude! Fire away!" All he needed was a scarf and some goggles.

But he is quite happy with the boobage, he says. There are men out there, I'm told, who are truly not fans of the generous cleavage, who much prefer their women to be card-carrying members of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, but luckily for me KB is not one of them.

The only good thing about having ginormous boobs is that they make my ginormous belly look somewhat proportional. And even that benefit will go away as I hit months 8 & 9 and proportionality goes out the window - total strangers start to look worried about sharing the subway with you, lest they be unwillingly conscripted into service as midwives.

(And no, I haven't taken any belly pictures this time around. It just hasn't seemed as novel. Or necessary.)

And...let's see, what else, besides the standard heartburn, insomnia, frequent urination? Oh, there's the pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome. That's fun. Because of the afore-mentioned increased fluid volume, the nerves that pass through the wrist are squeezed, causing shooting pain, numbness, and that lovely pins-and-needles feeling. That'll wake you up at night. So now I wear a nice beige elastic "wrist positioner" to bed every night, with velcro tightening straps that always manage to get caught in the sheets. Yay!

Plus there's the fact that I now weigh more than my husband. Granted, this is not difficult when you are married to a beanpole like KB, as I am, but it is sobering nonetheless. I have gained less weight this time around than I did with Nolan (a fairly universal trend, it seems, gaining less weight in a second pregnancy - perhaps because Mommy is too busy chasing Offspring #1 all over hither and yon to put up her feet and eat some bonbons), but I have gained a fair amount. There must be some subconscious inherited-from-the-cavemen genetic edict that states that the "natural balance" of things is Man: Big :: Woman: Smaller making me feel bad for being more massive.

Pretty soon there'll be no room left in the bed for KB. I've got The Belly, The Boobs, and 47 pillows strategically stacked, folded, layered and tucked to create the optimal sleeping environment for me and Doodle. Sleep on your left side, so as not to put pressure on the inferior vena cava. Elevate your right arm, to try to reduce the carpal tunnel symptoms. Strap on your wrist positioner. Tuck a pillow under your giant belly to support it so your back muscles aren't twisted too much. Tuck another pillow between your knees so your hips aren't torqued. Now, don't move. Breathe deeply. Try to get as much sleep as possible before you have to get up to pee in four hours.


Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's black, it's white

As usual, the Onion said it better than I ever could...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

He's been king now for so long; his days are numbered

Just came from doing my patriotic duty and voting.

Polls weren't too crowded - I went at 10:30 am to avoid the pre-work rush and the lunch-break rush. Saw a neighbor working one of the tables and was momentarily envious. I feel like this is the kind of thing all this moving around shit has robbed me of - the chance to get settled enough to actually start living life and doing things I want to be doing, like volunteering at the polls, rather than busting my ass polishing the fucking stainless steel in my kitchen every time some yahoo wants to take a look at our house.

But anyway. I digress. (No! Me?)

It's weird to me to think of anyone actually wanting to be president, especially with our country in the condition it is now. I think you have to have some kind of low-level insanity going on to even consider taking on that kind of stress. "Economy in ruins? International regard for our country at an all-time low? Health care a shambles? Sign me up!" Fucking crazy, man. So the idea of intentionally voting for someone who not only wants to be president but thinks they can DO something about all that's just amazing.

We need to figure out a way to get the most qualified person who couldn't want the job less into office. The guy* who just wants to be at home with his spouse playing Scrabble or whatever. Who's not interested in establishing some sort of Washington legacy of power to continue his "vision." Who would be motivated to get things done quickly with minimal bullshit so he could go watch the football game. (Who also, of course, happens to have decades of experience dealing with economic issues, international governments, and multi-billion dollar corporations. You know, that guy.) Someone who would have to be nominated by his peers, not someone who would announce his candidacy on a televised talk show with a series of bulleted talking points. And the panel of peers who nominated him would have to explain why he was the best choice, rather than have the guy himself do it. (I think that's what bothers me about McCain's incessant repetition of his supposed "maverick" status. If you have to say it about yourself, dude...I just don't buy it.)

I think that may be what's appealing to some people about Sarah Palin (not to me, mind you...I'm just saying.) That "regular Joe" shit. "Hey, she has a vagina...I have a vagina...she's just like me!" Of course with Palin it's all marketing, she's just as much into cronyism and under-the-table dealings as any other politician. But there's definitely an appeal to having someone represent us who's just like us. I think that's what McCain was hoping for - an identification that would go beyond politics.

That also may be why Obama does so well even with people who have no idea what his policies are or what effect electing him will have on the country. People see a multi-racial man raised by a single mother who has worked hard and ascended the ranks of society to become a candidate for President. That's the embodiment of the American dream, right there, is what that is. He is more like the population of this country than the decades of old white men who have been representing us for so long are.

Will he be a good president? I hope so. I just voted for the man. But he obviously wants it, too. He's not going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the White House going, "Nooooo! I just bought Cubs season tickets!"

This theory (such as it is) also applies to parenting, by the way. I now have several acquaintances, both friends and family, who have announced their decision to deliberately remain childless. And I totally respect that - kids upend your life, in more ways than you can ever hope to predict. But I also feel like it's a bit of a loss for the kids, because at least these people have thought about it, you know? They took the time to look at the pros and cons and decide what was best for themselves, and someone who can do that could do the same for children. And probably do a lot better job than the nineteen-year-old and her boyfriend who go "Oops, we're pregnant...guess we'll get married." offense, Mom.

OK, I'll shut up, now.

Except to say to Dru and Rose and Ebony I wish I could be voting in Cali today, man.** My NO ON 8 would be heard 'round the world.

Thanks for reading.

*I mean that in a pan-sexual way, of course. Can we all just agree that "guy" means any person? Male or female? I appreciate that some people have tried really hard to have "gal" mean the same sort of thing, only for women, but it just ain't working, folks.

**Ditto for "man."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This town ain't never been my home

So it's decided. We are definitely moving to Richmond, Virginia. We are driving down again the weekend of the 8th and 9th to look at rental houses and preschools, and we will most likely be moving the second week of December. (Awww, yeah....moving during the holidays. Sweet!)

I am sad about leaving Princeton. The town itself has been a really good fit for us - if KB's job had been more his cup of tea, I have no doubt that we'd have stayed here for good. I dropped off Nolan at his English school this morning, and as I was driving home admiring all the fall leaves, I noticed the entire block of the street I was on had Obama signs in their front yards. Every single home. And I smiled. (I would have taken a picture, but as New Jersey just passed legislation allowing cops to ticket you for driving while talking on the phone, I'm pretty sure driving while trying to take a cell-phone picture is, you know, bad.) Not that I'm into conformity or group-think kinda politics, but it was sure nice to see.

But I think Richmond is going to be good as well. It's a good-sized city, it's pretty cosmopolitan, lots of cultural stuff. It is The South, though. It's not the deep south, not by any means, but it is most definitely The South. This is the region of our country that I know the least about and have the least experience with, so this should be interesting. I've been calling folks in the 804 trying to find us some rental houses to check out, and for awhile there no one I talked to really sounded like they were from the south (or sounded like my stereotypical idea of what people from the south talk like - think Sally Field in Steel Magnolias) until I got one guy named Birch who said, "Yes, ma'am" after every sentence out of his mouth. I got off the phone and said, "Now that's what I'm talking about!" to KB.

So please forgive me if I slack off on the posts for a bit. (I know, I know, excuses excuses.) I need to find a home for us and a preschool for Nolan and an OB for myself and work on getting this house ready to sell (ugh) and still keep doing all the stuff I normally do every day for our family. So I may be infected with slackitude for the next little while.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's hear it for my baby

Welp, it's another boy.

In case you can't see it, the ultrasound tech helpfully labeled the picture "Boy!!!" and inserted an arrow pointing to the, uh...area of interest.

He is healthy, has all his parts - good palate, good brain, good spine, good heart. He's very active, apparently - I can feel some movements, but both the ultrasound tech on Friday and my OB on Monday were like, "Whoa! What's he doing in there?" As if I have some idea. Knitting? Rearranging the furniture?

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that it's not a girl. So why can't I just come right out and say, "I'm disappointed"? Because that sounds so fucking...harsh. I have to couch it in semi-polite terms and say, "If you asked me, if you really want to know, if I'm being honest...I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed." Somehow that seems more palatable.

And it's not just that I want another girl on the "team" in our household, although that's part of it. I'll be surrounded by penises and I'll never win the Toilet Seat Default Mode war now. ("Down!" "Up!" "Down!" "Up!" "Duck season!" "Rabbit season!") Right now my only ally on the feminine side of things is Lola, and if you've ever met Lola, you know that she's not exactly an asset on the balance sheet of life - she shits on the rug and her favorite hobby is chewing her toes.

It's more that I'd really like to have a girl so I can teach her all the things I think are important about being a girl and then being a woman - all the stuff I screwed up or wished I had known more about or fought harder for (or against). Then again, maybe it's best that I don't have a daughter - I just re-read that last sentence and it sounds like I'd be trying to live my life over again through my daughter. Not a recipe for success. (Whatever "success" is when you're raising kids.)

I was really hoping for a girl, I guess. I just looked at my list of possible baby names for this kid, and there were 11 girls' names and 2 boys' names, both of which are leftovers from the list we made for Nolan. That's a pretty good indicator.

Another big thing is that if we want to try again (for a girl) after this baby, that will just delay my return to the real world by another few years. Sigh.

I'm sure I'll get over it. I'm sure I'll love this kid just as much as I love Nolan.

And I know Nolan's going to be a great older brother, notwithstanding tonight's going-to-bed conversation. We were sitting in the rocking chair, talking about our day, our usual nighttime routine, and in the middle of his typical stall tactics, he comes out with "I don't want your belly to get bigger and bigger and bigger." So I say, "Why?" thinking it will have something to do with him not fitting on my lap anymore. And he says, "Because I'm not ready for all the crying."

Me either, kid. But it comes with the territory.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Judy in disguise

Well, you knew it was inevitable. KB is nearsighted, I'm nearsighted, now we come to find that The Boy is nearsighted.

We went to a pediatric opthamologist last week, and her exact words were, "This isn't the strongest prescription I've ever written for a three year old...but it's close." So we went to the optician the next day and Nolan picked out frames - it was a close decision between purple Power Rangers frames and the bronze ones he eventually decided on. I would have gotten him the purple ones if he really wanted them, since he's the one that has to wear the things, but in my heart of hearts I'm glad he picked the plain bronze ones.

Isn't he painfully, painfully adorable?


My little nerdling.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Livin' it up at the Hotel California

So I'm sure you've all heard about this.

My first thought upon hearing he wanted to delay the debate was this.

It's bush-league psych-out stuff.

Woo! You got a date Wednesday, McCain!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I've given up fags and drugs now, baby

Welcome to Caroline's Cavalcade of Random Occurrences and Tidbits


What I Would Be Twittering Were I The Twittering Type, Which I'm Not

-A crow died in our backyard last weekend. It was the strangest thing. I was taking a nap (huzzah!) in our bedroom, which is at the back of the house with windows facing the backyard. I wasn't quite asleep and I heard this commotion of squirrels chattering with that angry noise they make when there's a neighborhood cat perched on the ground underneath them. I didn't think much of it until I heard this big THUMP on the ground shortly thereafter. I looked out the window and saw this dark, unidentifiable shape on the ground and figured I'd better take a look. KB and Nolan were outside raking leaves (in the front) so they didn't see anything, of course. I put on some pants (I get comfy when I nap) and shoes and went out in the back to find a giant, recently dead crow on the ground under one of the trees. (I'm not sure what distinguishes a crow from a raven from a blackbird, exactly - if it's only size, then this bird was on the large crow/small raven end of the spectrum, I'd say.) It didn't appear to be injured or mangled in any way. It was just dead. I don't know what the squirrel commotion had to do with the crow's death, if anything. I made KB come around and pick it up with a shovel and put it in a garbage bag.

Dead crow. Gotta be bad karma or bad feng shui or something. Yeesh.

-At lunch the other day Nolan kept making this "Ffffffffffff" noise with his teeth and lips. I tried to ignore it at first because I thought it was his way of provoking me - we've had a lot of discussion lately about why spitting at the table is Not Appropriate Behavior and I was pretty sure he was trying to see how close he could come to spitting before I started telling him not to do it. So he's going, "Fffffffffff" and concentrating really hard and I'm ignoring him and finally he looks at me and says, "Mommy, why are there no flames coming out of my mouth?" Apparently he was trying to breathe fire.

-Nolan is attending pre-school five mornings a week now - two at his Chinese pre-school (where he went to summer "camp") and three at a regular old pre-school. We've taken to calling the regular pre-school his "English" school to distinguish it from his Chinese school. I feel like we're Amish. "Be careful out there among them English, son!"

-There was a sign on the door of Nolan's (English) pre-school classroom the other morning that said "[this class] has 1 case of head lice." All I could think was "Already? Already with the head lice?" Next up: Pink eye!

-My Omega-3 vitamin supplement is made from fish, flax and safflower oils, but somehow, it's only the fish oil I taste when I burp later.

-If any one of the four of you who read this blog knows anything about Richmond, Virginia, please pass it along with all haste. Richmond is next up on our list of Places We May Move To. We're going down there the weekend of the 4th and 5th to check out the living situation (KB has already had one successful interview) and my assignment is researching beforehand to find out what, exactly, we might like to check out whilst down there.

-The ice maker on our fridge broke. This is the third kitchen appliance to break down in the nine months we've owned this house. Remember how awesome the kitchen looked in those pictures? How space-age and modern and upscale? Yeah, that's 'cause all the appliances are friggin' "prestige" brands like Miele and Sub-Zero and Wolf and cost like, three times as much to repair. So, we are back to making ice in trays, since $400 to repair an icemaker seemed a bit steep, considering we'll probably be moving in a few months. (What was also a pain was that we had to actually go out and buy new ice cube trays to use. What happened to all those stray ice cube trays we accumulated over years of moving from apartment to apartment? Who actually has to BUY ice cube trays? Don't they just reproduce on their own in the privacy of the freezer compartment, like wire hangers do in the closet?)

-My birthday was good. I got to go into NYC for a haircut at Devachan, which specializes in curly hair. Not only specializes in it, but proselytizes for it. They are very pro-curly. They don't want you to straighten your hair. They want you to be happy with your curly hair. The owner of the salon wrote a book about curly hair. They have their own special line of products for curly hair. I like them a lot, but a haircut alone is upwards of $120, so this was a rare and wonderful birthday treat for me. Now my hair has an actual shape to it, much more vertical volume and much less Rosanne Rosannadanna action going on.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You were bigger and brighter and whiter than snow

Okay, so these pictures are about three weeks old, but since I hadn't put them up yet, I figured what the hey.

It's nice that the baby is looking more like an actual fetus and less like a cheese doodle (which, incidentally, is what we've been calling it - "Doodle.")

I won't have the ultrasound that everybody's interested in - the one that determines the sex - until October, so my four loyal readers will have to wait a few more weeks for that information, I'm afraid.

Everything went very smoothly - this ultrasound was looking at the brain and the spinal cord to check for defects like spina bifida - and the baby looks completely normal thus far. I'm not considered a "high risk" pregnancy because I'm 33 (for a few more days!) and will be 34 when the baby is due. Once you're 35, that's the magic cut-off date when you're considered "high risk," for some reason. Like so many things in life, the magic age when you're suddenly deemed qualified for something (to vote, to drink alcohol, unknowingly put your fetus at risk for Down Syndrome) is pretty damned arbitrary.

I love this close-up of the baby's head. That swirly thing in front of the baby's face is not, in fact, the umbilical cord, although it does kind of look like that. It's the baby's two hands held up right in front of his/her face.

There were a couple times during the exam when it looked like the baby was trying to get his/her thumb or hand into his/her mouth, which was pretty cool to see. It's amazing how early they start making voluntary movements like that.

Also, look at the schnozz! This time around the kid definitely got Kevin's nose.

Alrighty, that's all I got for now.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Don't you know which clothes even fit me?

In which post I try to link disparate topics and sum up the past few weeks without having any reliable segues whatsoever.

Alllllllrighty then.

So: We went to Canada for a week, stopping along the way (okay, so it wasn't really along the way so much as it was a giant detour) in Boston to visit friends we hadn't seen since we'd moved last year. We tried to cram too much into our 24-hour visit to Beantown, and so left ourselves feeling rushed and almost as if we hadn't really seen much of our friends. But, short as it was, it was great to see everyone, and it did make me a bit nostalgic for Boston. And god, how I wish we had had the GPS when we lived there. It would have saved many hours and tears.

Then, we drove to Canada. Or, to be more accurate, we drove as far as we could and stopped to spend the night in Utica, New York because we were tired and the drive that should have taken two hours on the Mass Pike instead took four.

(Note: When you are road-tripping with a pregnant woman and a recently potty-trained toddler, your bathroom stop quota will rise not linearly, as you might expect, but exponentially, since no one in the car ever has to pee at the same time and all sudden urges to pee must be treated as emergencies.)

We got to Alan and Kathleen's house on Charleston Lake in Ontario the next day around lunchtime and hung out for a few hours, and then KB turned around and drove BACK to Syracuse for a second interview there and a first interview in Rochester. So he was basically working the first two days of our vacation week, and since I was stuck in the house all day with Nolan, I was working too. (I think I need to get better at communicating my expectations to people - I was sort of envisioning, "Ah, vacation! Relaxing on the porch with a trashy magazine and a glass of iced tea! Maybe KB and I can get a date night in!" and instead it was more like being at home, except without any of the familiar resources of home like the library and the car.) We definitely did have some good times later in the week - going out on Alan's boat and going to the beach, that kind of stuff, but then we had a

MAJOR TRAGEDY. Well, okay, it was, in retrospect, more of a minor tragedy, but it was horrific at the time. We were going to the beach with Kathleen and her grandson Duncan, who is 4 (and a younger brother to Alexander, 5, so he delighted in having someone younger to play with [read: boss around], and Nolan was thrilled to try and keep up with him). We had just parked the car and gotten to the beach and were walking along to a picnic table (when I say "beach" you have to picture a forest-y rocky hilly weedy lakeside beach, not a big open sandy ocean beach) when Nolan slipped on a rock and hit his mouth. Big-time. On the rock. Screaming, bloody, wailing horrible horrible-ness. When we finally got him calmed down enough to look in his mouth, one of his two front teeth was chipped and the other was at a wonky angle. We didn't know what to do. We're in the middle of rural Ontario, Canada, and our son had some apparently disfiguring damage to his mouth. Kathleen told us about a dentist she'd gone to in this tiny neighboring town, so we decided to try there and see if they'd take us as an emergency. So we drove for about 35 of the longest minutes of my life with Nolan wailing the whole way, "I don't wanna go to the doctor! I don't wanna go!" and me sitting in the backseat trying to comfort him.

But when we did get there (and I gotta be honest, the town looked like a shithole) the dentist was great. Nolan totally calmed down and she was very good with him. She gently took a look and cleaned his mouth a bit, and then we had an x-ray taken. She said it didn't look like the tooth's root was broken, so it probably won't die, but it will be crooked (and may possibly discolor) until his baby teeth fall out when he's six or seven. She said the only big problem will be if the jawbone ankyloses around the injured tooth, which will make it hard if not impossible for the adult tooth to push its way out, so if that happens we may have to have it extracted.

So we left the dentist's office with a prescription for ice cream and popsicles to reduce the swelling (the first time in my life I've ever gotten THAT from a dentist) and a recommendation to check in with our regular dentist when we got home. (And a bill for $139.95. For everything. Emergency exam, x-rays, everything. Thank you, Canadian healthcare!) I looked like an extra from a horror film, because I had blood all down my shoulder and back from holding Nolan when he was screming.

But, he's okay. On the whole, it wasn't such a MAJOR tragedy. It was very scary and upsetting and I felt like a lousy mother for not protecting my kid, but overall, everything's fine. KB says the crooked tooth will give him character, maybe it will make him look like a kid other kids won't want to mess with. I think it makes him look like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, but at least it will only be until he's six. Or seven.

And we did get in one non-horrific trip to the beach the next day where we re-visited what we dubbed The Rock Of Doom, complete with Nolan-contributed bloodstain on it. We had some swimming lessons with Kathleen and some boating with Alan and some kayaking around their little bay, disturbing the turtles, and then it was time to come home.

So that was our trip to Canada.

Note the lack of segues.

Maternity Clothes 2: Electric Boogaloo

In other news, I have had to drag my giant Rubbermaid bin of maternity clothes out of storage, as none of my regular clothes are fitting properly anymore. I've been using the rubber band around the buttonhole trick for a couple weeks now, but I guess it's time to give in. I don't even really have a belly yet, it's just that my waist seems to have decided not to exist any longer. It also feels as though this is happening a LOT sooner than it did last time around, but at least I'm able to resurrect some clothes from storage rather than being completely unprepared. Some of the leftovers are going to be completely useless, of course, since this baby will be in a totally different season than Nolan was - I'm gonna need a lot more big-belly warm clothes for December and January. But I was generously given a huge stash of leftover maternity clothes from my friend Sonya, who had her new baby Paul in July. She's worn them through two pregnancies and is like, "Get them outta here! I'm never wearing them again!" so I was the lucky recipient there.

Sadly, Sonya and Ben and Spencer and Paul have moved to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (Sadly for us, not for them.) They are starting their new life there where Ben is a professor at Gettysburg College and Sonya will be starting in a private medical practice. Nolan will miss Spencer, I know, and I will miss their company big-time. The last time we saw Spencer Nolan was having a fit of pique and refused to give him a hug goodbye, which just served to remind me how in-the-moment kids are compared to adults. Ben and I are like, "Nolan, give him a hug! You're not going to see Spencer again for a long time!" and Nolan's like, "Whatever." To him, it was just another day playing with Spencer, and if he didn't feel like giving him a hug, he wasn't going to give him a hug, god dammit. Future be damned.

All right, I gotta stop now. I started this post over a week ago but Blogger kept crashing and refusing to save and I had to keep starting over until I quit in a fit of frustration (gee, I wonder where Nolan gets it) and now it's SEPTEMBER and I need to write about pre-school and Kathy our Chinese babysitter and "Hair" and that's just too much for one entry. More later.

Thanks for reading.

(Also, can I just say that in the Clash song from which this post takes its title, I love how, even though they are all punk and anti-establishment and revolutionary, et cetera, they still manage to use correct grammar in the line "Exactly whom I'm supposed to be..." That's just so British and awesome.

Okay then. Carry on.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Long and dark, shiny and black

So believe it or not, KB and my mom and aunt and I went to see Bruce Springsteen play at Giants Stadium on Thursday night last week.

I've never really considered myself a Springsteen "fan," although I can certainly sing along to plenty of his songs, and I've never had any special antipathy towards him, either (like I do towards, say, Rod Stewart). I've never owned any of his albums myself, but both KB and my mom have a lot of them, so I've listened to plenty of his music and become, if not exactly a fan, then an appreciative listener. He has a sort of workman-like quality to his music - no frills, no fancy effects or over-produced noise, just basic, instrument-based rock and roll. His earlier albums are especially classic, and there's a quality of street poetry to his lyrics that reminds me of Tom Waits in a way.

So last December, my mom mentioned that she'd like to see him play and if she got us tickets would we be interested in going? And I was like, "Oh, okay. Sure. I know KB will want to go." So we got our $80 nosebleed tickets and I forgot all about it for six months. And when Thursday night rolled around, I can't really say I was all that jazzed about going - I'm still feeling pretty tired from the placentasmithing and I was coming down with a cold (which I'm just now getting over, thankfully, but of course KB has it now), so the prospect of driving up the Turnpike, standing up and screaming for three hours and getting home at one in the morning wasn't exactly floating my boat.

But boy, am I glad we went. The man knows how to put on a show, even when you're so high up he appears to be 1/8 inch tall and you have to look at the Jumbotron to see what the heck is going on. He's gotta be pushing 60, right? I mean, he and most of his band (for it was the full-on E Street Band Experience) have been making music for like, 40 years or something crazy like that. And he (and all of them) just so genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself, just playing music and having a good time. And they just powered through them! He didn't stop for a lot of stage patter, there were no "We're gonna take a short break" announcements - they played nonstop pretty much the entire three and a half hour show. It was pretty impressive.

He did kind of milk the New Jersey thing a bit - apparently this was the last time he'll ever play at Giants Stadium (they're tearing it down and building a new stadium 50 feet away. Ah, progress.) and he did a lot of "It's great to be home in New Jersey!" kind of stuff, but the crowd ate it up. It's funny, there seems to be a certain level of irony inherent in many of his songs, and I think it's fair to say a large part of the crowd was kind of oblivious to that darker layer of his stuff. Kind of like when Ronald Reagan wanted to use "Born in the USA" as his campaign song, and Bruce turned him down - Reagan didn't get the whole bleak, disaffected thing that song has going on. Ronnie heard the fist-pumping "Booooooooorn in the USAAAAA!" chorus and thought he could ride that wave, never mind that the lyrics are about a man who's been used and abused by his country. So there were a lot of T-shirt and Crocs-wearing, pot-smoking good old boys in the audience who didn't quite get the, how shall I say, deeper aspects of the music.

(It took me a while to realize that people in the stands were not, in fact, booing him throughout the show. They were yelling "Bruuuuuuuuuuuce!" I would hear all this booing and be like, "What's the problem, people? Let him play "Brilliant Disguise" if he wants to!" until I realized what was happening. Duh.)

Apparently, the band have a repertoire of 250 songs that they can choose from at any given show, and they take requests from the audience - you have to hold up a sign with the song you want on it, and he walks around and takes the signs from people and brings them back to the band and they all go through them and pick out which ones they want to play. So it was a nice mix of what they wanted to do and what the audience wanted to hear.

And he did play the one song I wanted to hear, which was "Rosalita." I love that song. We were talking about it before the show, what songs would we really want to hear, and when I said "Rosalita" my mom was like, "Oh, don't count on it. It's rare for them to play that one, apparently." (She watched the 60 minutes special with Bruce on Sunday, so she was the authority.) But it was the final song of the show! It was awesome.

And we didn't get home at one in the morning. We got home at three in the morning. There was a propane tractor-trailer overturned at exit 16W on the Turnpike (which is where the Meadowlands is) so everyone was late getting to the concert. It was supposed to start at 7:30, started instead at 9:30, and he played, including encores, until one in the morning. And I stupidly wore brand-new (cheap) sneakers and got blisters from walking from BFE (where we parked) to the stadium and back.

And I'm STILL glad we went. The man is a class act, all the way.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Have you come to raise the dead?

I blame Rose.

She invited me to join Facebook, the pervasive social-networking whathaveyou that seems to be all the rage with the young'uns these days, with the tempting phrase (and I quote) "Dru and I are on this, Joy. Come to the dark side."

So I joined, figuring it would be just like Friendster or one of those other faddy things that I would be interested in for a few days and then give up on.

But no! It has been...actually, quite good. Time-consuming, but good. I hate filling out all those personal information questionnaires that these sites always seem to have, where you have to concisely sum up your entire being, personality, life, interests, beliefs, pants size, astrological sign, height, weight, sexual preference, et cetera. Who can do that in a few paragraphs?

Initially I figured it would be a way to keep in touch with my legions of cousins, since they are members of the aforementioned "young'uns" demographic, and while it has served that purpose admirably well, it has also gotten me back in touch with tons of other people, from as long ago as high school and college all the way through LA and NYC and up to Boston. It's pretty nice to see those familiar faces and find out about what's going on in their lives. Some friends you don't mean to lose track of and are immensely happy to hear from when you do get back in touch...

Number one among them...Janet! YAY, Janet!

I know the four of you who read this thing know which Janet I am talking about and need no further information, but should you like to be nosy and find out about her life (does it even count as being nosy anymore when we all put our lives up on the internet for everyone to see?) she can be found at

We caught up on the phone this past Saturday, and I can't tell you how comforting it is to know that out there in Wisconsin is someone who understands why leaving an answering machine message consisting only of Homer Simpson's thought process ("Dental plan!" "Lisa needs braces..." "Dental plan!" "Lisa needs braces...") is an act of purest hilarity.


Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Inside you the time moves and she don't fade

Well, we had the first ultrasound on Friday (after much wrangling with our crappy insurance company over whether or not they would cover a first-trimester ultrasound) to pinpoint the size and age of the embryo, because my OB wasn't sure after the oh-so-fun manual exam and my periods were irregular before we conceived, which means it's hard to narrow down the due date. TMI, you say? Sorry. So, the ultrasound:

The day we had it done (Friday the 18th) the embryo measured a size consistent with it's being 7 weeks 5 days old, which means I'm a little farther along than we initially thought. Which is good, because it means this wretched period of all-encompassing fatigue and pervasive nausea will come to an end earlier! Woo-hoo!

For those of you who, like me, are having trouble visualing just what the heck is in those pictures, here is a photo of an embryo of the same age:

It's mostly head at this point, as you can see.

That little round ball to the right side of the ultrasound photos is the yolk sac (not pictured in the photo), which will soon become detached as it ceases to serve its purpose (which was to generate new blood cells - that function is being taken over by the liver and the bone marrow).

Kind of freakish, isn't it? Did you even know human beings had yolk sacs?

It was nice to get the ultrasound, though. I've got the symptoms and the positive pregnancy test and all that, but it's still great to see the little sprout on the screen to confirm that all is well. (And that there's only one in there. Which there is. Whew.) We got to see the little heart going wubbity wubbity wubbity, which brought an involuntary tear to my eye.

It's pretty damn strange to have another living creature incubating inside you, even one that you made yourself and greatly desire - I think that's why there are so many horror and sci-fi films that directly or indirectly reference that fear of the alien creature inside of us.

For (an obvious) example, the movie Alien. What could be more explicit than the worm-like chest burster literally tearing someone apart as it makes its way into the world? How many women have had that nightmare in the days before they give birth? And in the third installment, when Ripley realizes she's been implanted and throws herself into the big steaming vat of molten metal, the chest-burster tries to escape and she clutches it to herself in an overtly maternal gesture. Perhaps the aliens (or the pursuit and attempted elimination of them) are Ripley's substitute for children - I think she has a daughter back on Earth (it's been awhile since I've seen the films) but she's in hypersleep so long that her daughter has already grown old and died.

In any case, the H.R. Giger designs for the first Alien (or "xenomorph" as they seem to be referred to in much of the online fan sites I've been browsing through) are strikingly similar to some early embryonic photos I've found. Although Giger always said he didn't get any inspiration from naturally occuring animals, the similarity is still there, and is enough to make you think, "Just what exactly is this thing growing inside me?"

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(For those of you who can't tell, the TOP photo is the Xenomorph...)

Or take The Fly, for another example (the 1986 version, that is, starring Ebony's favorite jazz musician boyfriend). The scene where Geena Davis is having a nightmare about her pregnancy with Jeff Goldblum's increasingly bizarre-acting Brundle(fly). She has a horrific labor and basically gives birth to a giant maggot, whereupon Brundlefly crashes in through the window and steals the little grub away. Although the scene doesn't actually occur in the reality of the film (she's dreaming), it is potent imagery nonetheless. What exactly happens when you combine two creatures' DNA to make a third creature? And how do you know there won't be some mistakes along the way?

I could go on and on, I suppose. Rosemary's Baby. The Omen. (The 1976 one with Gregory Peck, that is.) It seems to be a common theme in horror/sci-fi, perhaps because pregnancy is such a common occurrence in the world, and there are millions of parents and soon-to-be parents out there going, "What the hell is going to happen to us now? What are we bringing into the world?"

Or maybe it's just me, watching too many movies, as usual.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 14, 2008

There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do (once you find them)

No, no, I didn't fall in a ditch. I am perfectly fine, other than the simmering nausea and bone-withering tiredness.

I've just been taking every opportunity I can to nap, and that has seriously cut into my blogging time. And my fiddle-practicing time. And my reading time. I think I'd rather nap than do just about anything else these days.

But, thankfully, this only lasts another month or so (or it did last time) and then we'll be on to the second trimester when I'll hopefully feel much better.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Brass monkey junkie, that funky monkey

Did I forget to mention that I purchased some monkey puzzle tree seeds off Ebay and planted them? I did? Typical.

Well, they've sprouted. Or rather, four out of five have sprouted. It took about six weeks for them to do so, during which they just sat there, inert (or so it seemed) while I wondered if I had just blown 12 dollars on duds. But now they are actually showing signs of growth, which makes me happy.

I have no idea if they will grow successfully here, but I think they're just the coolest-looking trees, so I'm willing to give it a try. Of course, I'll be leaving them in their little pots for the time being, as I have no idea yet if we're going to be staying in Princeton or moving on. Apparently, they've very slow-growing trees, so hopefully I'll be able to cart them around for a while without having to commit to a planting spot.

We first saw a monkey puzzle tree at the Barnes Foundation, an art museum with extensive gardens in Philadelphia. While we (KB, my brother Kevin and I) were walking around the arboretum we saw this tree that looked like an escapee from a Dr. Seuss book, and when we read the little identification card it said, "Monkey Puzzle Tree." I had this faint recollection of reading an Agatha Christie novel as a teenager - something about Hercule Poirot approving of monkey puzzles because they didn't shed their leaves - and wondering what the heck a monkey puzzle tree was. And then there one was in front of me. They had trimmed it to emphasize its Seussian qualities, and it was really quite striking (I wish they had a picture of that specific tree on their web site, but of course they don't and I didn't have my camera with me when we went.)

So now I am the proud owner of four monkey puzzle seedlings and one inert seed (although it may yet sprout - apparently they can take up to two months). We'll see what happens!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I said Ouch! This really hurts!

Well, the freaking out has commenced, of course.

I found out about the pregnancy much earlier this time than I did with Nolan (I think - I really can't remember exactly.) I just knew something was up and took the test much earlier, whereas before it was a definite surprise situation. And now since I'm feeling pretty okay and normal, other than some tiredness, I'm starting to worry that something is wrong with this pregnany. People always tell you that if you feel bad (nauseous, exhausted, irritable) when you're in the first trimester it's actually a GOOD thing, because it means the hormones are flowing and your body is doing all the things it's supposed to be doing - building a placenta, storing up energy, et cetera. So of course my emotional brain is ignoring the known fact that it's really early yet and is instead freaking out about the lack of sickness.

In other words, I'm feeling bad because I don't feel bad. Brilliant!

Some couples wait to tell other people that they're pregnant just in case something does go wrong and there's a miscarriage. We tell everybody we know on the theory that, should something go wrong, we'll probably need the support and good wishes of those very same people, so why not blab now? I'm not a very competent secret keeper anyway, and I'm certainly not very good at hiding it when I'm feeling bad (as KB can testify), so why even try?

That's one of the big ironies (or perhaps, to be grammatically correct and not fall into the Alanis trap, one of the paradoxes) of early pregnancy - you feel tremendously crappy, you're constantly exhausted, cranky and nauseous, but you don't LOOK pregnant at all. There is no way for anyone who doesn't already know to tell that you're pregnant, so no one treats you any differently. All you want to do is lie down on the floor and take a nap, but everyone else around you expects you to be acting normally - handling your workload, talking intelligently in meetings, not appearing to fall into a coma periodically.

This drove me crazy early in my pregnancy with Nolan - every workday morning I would walk the mile to the T station and if I failed to get a seat on the train, it was all I could do not to crumple to the sticky floor and weep piteously. But no chivalrous man would give up his seat for me because I didn't look at all pregnant (of course, truth be told, not many men gave up their seats even when I was hugely pregnant - it was mostly sympathetic older women who had obviously been there, done that) and I didn't have the self-possesion to say "I'm pregnant. Please can I sit down?" The time when you really need the break, no one will give it to you.

So that's the reasoning behind my tell-everyone-now strategy: Maybe I'll get some sympathy. It's all about me. (Actually, it might get KB some sympathy, too. Maybe I'll start marketing T-shirts: "I'm in my first trimester. Pity my husband.")

Of course, since I haven't started having any morning sickness yet and am torturing myself with the possibility that I've already miscarried and just haven't realized it, I can now also feel guilty (in this purely hypothetical future situation) for putting everyone on red alert, garnering sympathy and then failing to actually, you know, have a baby.

I can't win.

(Also, in case you didn't know, the reason you get so friggin' tired [besides the fact that you're growing a brand-new entire human being in your body] when you're busy placentasmithing: By the end of pregnancy, the placenta, on average, weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. That might not sound too impressive, but just you try spontaneously generating 3 pounds worth of blood vessels and connective tissue, and see how you fare.)

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nausea, oh, nausea, and we're gone

Oh my.

(As KB said when I told him, "That didn't take long.")

I'm glad we had our Saturday night of sushi and beer before I found out.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sleep a lot, eat a lot, brush 'em like crazy

Hey hey! We got vegetables!

I noticed the first peas tentatively showing their faces a few days ago:

On Tuesday I coerced Nolan into going out into the garden to check out the peas, and we picked the first one!
(I love that picture - I love how solemn he looks, like he senses the gravity of the occasion: The First Pea From Our Garden.) Then, of course, we ate it:

Nolan does what he likes to do when he eats pea pods, which is open it up and eat all the peas inside one by one, then crunch the whole pod into his mouth and eat that. (Isn't that required when you're a kid? Some sort of kiddie by-law? "Article 9, Section b: Any child coming into possession of that vegetable commonly known as a pea pod shall hereby be compelled to split open said pea pod by insertion of the thumb along the seam and consume, one by one, all the individual peas contained in said pod. Consumption of the pod itself is optional and left to the gustatory inclination of the individual.")

So we should have lots more peas coming soon:
And the green beans and tomatoes have also started to get flowers, finally, so I'm expecting those to start fruiting (vegetabling?) soon.

Now I just have to figure out what exactly I'm going to do with all these vegetables. I really have no big plans, food-wise, so I guess I'd better bone up on my tomato/pea/green bean recipes. I'm going to make some Dilly Beans from the green beans (according, of course, to my mother-in-law's great recipe) which are basically like pickles, only with beans instead of cucumbers. They are excellent and addictive. But I only have twelve canning jars, which I have a feeling is going to account for about 1/3 of my bean harvest, so I'd better do some research.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Party time! Excellent!

So Nolan's party was last weekend, and it all went swimmingly. Literally. It was ungodly hot, unfortunately, and the humidity was about 99.999%, but the family and friends rallied quite well, much food was consumed and we had a good time.

I was running around like a crazy person most of the time (as opposed to my usual sanguine self) so I didn't get a whole lot of photos. Alas. But here's what I got:

Nolan asked for cupcakes instead of a regular birthday cake this year, so I made him two kinds: Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. My mom found this cupcake display thingee at one of those humungous discount party supply stores, so I set them up on that and got some candles that spell out "Happy Birthday" to stick in the cupcakes. Of course, I have no photo of us singing and Nolan blowing out the candles, because I was holding him at the time. Alas.

Here Nolan is playing with some of his party guests, including cousin Nathan, whose 1st birthday party we went to last month. I only have this photo because my stepmother, who owns the exact same model camera that I do, accidentally picked up mine instead of hers and took a few shots with it. Which was fine with me, as now I have some pictures of actual party action. Note the highly realistic lobster bath toy my mom is holding. We plan to take that sucker to the community pool this summer.

Cut to: opening the gifts.

As you can see, he really scored, loot-wise. I think I'm going to sneakily spirit away a percentage of the toys and hide them in a closet, then see if he notices. If he doesn't then I can sort of portion them out later in the year, like for long car trips or plane trips for the novelty effect. I really need to go through all of his toys anyway and cull the ones that are no longer age-appropriate.

Opening a luau-themed book and a hawaiian shirt from Cool Aunt Jen. (Nolan's reaction to all clothes-related presents was pretty much the same: complete indifference. He also got a pair of socks from Grandma and Pappy that were tossed aside like so much discarded wrapping paper.)

Opening a kid's play tent from Auntie Erica and Uncle Jeffery. This was a big hit - because what you really want on a 100-plus degree day is a small structure you can crawl into to really concentrate the heat and humidity. Your own personal sweat lodge, really.

Thankfully, Pappy and Uncle Kevin set it up right away so Nolan and Nathan could commence sweating in earnest!

And that's about all I got.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

We'll eat a lot of broccoli and drink a lot of beer

Happy 3rd birthday, Pooter Man! I love you more each day.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The yard is nothing but a fence; the sun just hurts our eyes

On this rainy Wednesday I thought I'd share some garden pix with y'all, as promised, since I can't be outside working in said garden at the moment. (I took these a week ago.)

This is the kitchen garden, looking out from the barn-style doors on the back end of the garage. The house is on the left (duh) and the windows you see are the guest bedroom and the master bedroom and master bath. The open gate at the end goes out into the back yard. As you can see, the near end is a patio with paver stones, and then there are more pavers that make a path through the center of the garden (with a little island right in the center). The whole thing is fenced in, which is nice for keeping the deer out (we do see them, even in the middle of Princeton as we are).

This is the 180 degree opposite view, looking from the gate back towards the garage and the house. To the right are all the tomatoes - some in containers and some right in the ground. We (meaning KB's mom and I) weren't sure about the soil quality so we fudged by putting some in containers. This way we'll be sure to get some good tomatoes even if the ones that went in the ground don't make it. Also on the right you can see the potting bench - that was left here by the previous owners, along with lots of tools and empty pots, which is nice.

Here you can see what's behind the open garage door. Below the light on the left side of the frame is a clematis vine that was also left here by the previous owners (I wouldn't have known what the heck it was if Ann hadn't identified it for me). The window you see is the kitchen window right above the sink - I put the daisies in the window boxes. On the ground underneath are some containers with maple tree seedlings that I brought with us from Quincy - I wanted to put them in the ground wherever we settled, so we'd have a little piece of our first house with us. Guess I may have to wait and see before I do anything with them now! There are also a couple containers of herbs - sage and mint, which I understand (again, from Ann) you shouldn't put in the ground because they are aggressive and will take over your garden.

Speaking of herbs, this is the little island in the middle of the garden that I've christened Herb Island, seeing as how it consists solely of herbs. (I'm clever like that.) I've got rosemary right in the center, and then basil, parsley, lemon thyme, plain thyme, and cilantro all around it. Since I took this picture one of the cilantro plants bit the dust, leaving one survivor (but that one seems pretty healthy - although it's flowering - is that a good thing? If I want to use the leaves? Should I pinch the flowers off? I dunno.)

This is the right side of the patio - you can't really see it very well, but at the bottom of the frame there's a table there which, once I clean off all the accumulated gardening crap, we can use to have coffee or whatever out here in the mornings. The big container on the left has three jalapeno pepper plants in it, which seem to be doing well. The big plant is another leftover, which we believe (i.e., we have no real idea) is another variety of clematis - the woody portion of the plant is intertwined with the lattice of the fence, so it can't really be moved without hurting the plant.

These are a couple close-ups of that mystery plant showing the crazy flowers and an enterprising spider who decided to build his home there. Which is fine. We like spiders. They eat the bad bugs.

This is the left side of the garden under the windows - in front are a row of marigolds, which supposedly are good for repelling squirrels and bunnies and other critters (both of which we have in abundance in our yard) and in the back are green beans and peas that I grew from seeds in that little garden kit.

And speaking of spiders, here's a big daddy long-legs on one of the green beans. I have no idea if daddy long-legs count as spiders in the gardening sense (meaning they're good because they eat other bugs) but I'm going to leave this guy be, I think. The beans and peas seem to be doing well so far, so what the hey.

On the right, the lettuce seedlings awaiting transfer (which, a week later now, are HUGE and need to be planted!) and on the left, the tomato seedlings which I'm letting gather their strength (two of these have also bit the big one since the pictures were taken). Both of these I grew from seeds - the other tomatoes we cheated and bought as plants from the garden store. So we'll see how they do compared to each other.

And here's the above-mentioned tomatoes. The one in the back on the right is a volunteer, meaning he just showed up with all the other weeds that were in the ground already this spring. I decided to give him a chance, and didn't yank him out. As long as he doesn't give the other tomatoes any gross bugs, he can stay.

Alrighty, that's all for now. Lots more garden stuff to discuss, but this is enough pix for one post.

Thanks for reading.