can you even stand the cute?

emmett richard's name

Many people have wondered how Mike and I came up with Emmett's name. When we were in Costa Rica in May, we spent hours floating around in the pool and in the ocean, talking about names. We didn't argue or disagree on names very much, we actually enjoyed choosing potential boy and girl names. We took turns going through the alphabet, saying a name starting with each letter, and they had to be names we hadn't listed in prior versions of this activity. Some letters, such as Q and Z, ran out of options quickly so we started skipping over them. But for more commonly used letters, it forced us to come up with slightly more obscure names. This is where Emmett came up. I don't remember which one of us said it, but it made our short list of names right away. It stuck, and it didn't take us very long after we got home to settle on it as the most likely choice if we had a boy.

For girl names, we used this game to come up with options for first and middle names. But for a boy, we only ever used it for first names. Emmett's middle name was always going to be my brother's first, middle or last name. We didn't settle on using Richard, his middle name, as Emmett's middle name, until a few weeks before he was born. We went back and forth between all three, knowing that we wanted to honor Greg's memory but also not wanting to saddle the baby with unnecessary baggage, which is why we decided not to use his first name. His last name, my maiden name, was under consideration too, because he was the only male child of my grandparents' only male child, meaning he was the only member of our generation to carry and keep the last name. I wanted to consider honoring the family name and carrying it on through Emmett.

Ultimately, though, we chose Richard as his middle name. We think it's a fitting way to honor my brother, my father (whose first name is Richard) and my grandfather (whose middle name is Richard). I hope Emmett will carry the name with joy and completely without pressure or baggage. I hope he will grow to know his uncle through me, through Mike, through his Nana and Poppy, and through the rest of our family, but never to feel as though he is being compared or required to live up to any memory, which is why we never would have considered any part of Greg's name as a first name.

I have already begun telling Emmett about his Uncle Greg. He's a good listener, and he likes it when I talk, sing and read to him. This morning, I was chatting to him about Greg, and told him that Greg's favorite hymn was Amazing Grace. I have avoided that song since Greg died, because of the memories. But this morning, when I told Emmett about the song, I sang it to him, the whole thing. Emmett settled right down and looked at me. He listened quietly through all the verses. I've sung it to him twice more today, and both times he was just as alert and quiet.

I can help Emmett get to know his uncle. But also, unexpectedly, Emmett has already helped me open my heart back up a little bit and re-learn to embrace something that Greg loved.

wordless wednesday: emmett's first cloth diaper

new emmett header!

A big huge thank you to my very thoughtful and talented friend latreash for designing this fabulous new banner for my website!!

Emmett and I are sitting around this morning, waiting for some family to arrive! My parents are coming, along with my Grandfather and my cousin Anna, to hang out with Emmett for the day. I am looking forward to the company, too, and I think we'll try and go out for lunch.

In the meantime, I've been telling Emmett stories about his cousin Noah. Sweet Noah died 4 years ago today at 11 months old. We miss him and wish Emmett and Noah could have known each other. We will do our best to make sure Emmett knows all about him. We remember him today with hearts full of love.

settling in

Emmett has been at home for 9 days now, and our little family of three has been enjoying 9 cozy days of quality time together. Sadly, Mike had to go back to work today. We took Emmett to his doctors appointment this morning together, where Emmett was declared very smart and developmentally doing things around one month old already! He stretches his legs and opens his hands a lot, instead of keeping them balled up. He has pretty strong neck muscles already. And he focuses and has a good attention span for people and for objects he sees. And he gained almost half a pound in the last week! He is doing perfectly and I guess he is eating enough, which is so good to know. He hasn't had a bottle supplement in a week now and we're settling into nursing. The only bad thing is his diaper rash, which just refuses to go away. She gave us a prescription cream to try so hopefully we can get rid of it finally.

Then we hooked him back into the baby bjorn carrier and parted ways at the subway stop Mike needed for work. He kissed Emmett and me goodbye and left us to walk to our train station and head home. I hated to see him go and I know he'll miss Emmett all day today as he dives back into a busy day at work.

Emmett and I will miss him, too. Mike has been a rock for me these last two weeks. I'm not sure I gave him enough credit in my labor story for how amazing he was. Mike was there every single step of the way with more care and support than I ever could have asked for. He knew what I needed before I did. That continued all the way through my hospital stay, and Emmett's NICU stay, and all our time at home. We have experienced Emmett's first two weeks together, every step of the way, and I am so grateful. There have been a few pretty rough nights, and some struggles already, but Mike has been by my side for everything.

He will still be by my side, and by Emmett's side, with as much love and support as ever, of course, but not with us for every minute of every day. So here we are, Emmett and me, our first day on our own. So far, he's eaten, and then spent some time sitting in his boppy that has a little toy gym attached to it, watching the hanging toys, while I picked up a few things and washed a couple of dishes. Now he's hanging out in his swing while I finish this post and then get my lunch.

I feel accomplished and in control at the moment (amazing how doing something so small can feel so huge!) but also utterly exhausted. I plan a walk over to the grocery store to fill his diaper rash prescription and pick up a couple of things after his next feeding, and then I think we'll relax for the rest of the day and wait for daddy to get home.

wordless wednesday: i love daddy

emmett richard's arrival

At long last, our sweet boy arrived and is at home! Emmett was born last Tuesday, November 24th, at 10:20am. He weighed 8lbs, 4oz and is 20 1/2 inches long.

My water broke at 6am on Monday morning, and we called the doctor and headed for the hospital. It wasn't my OB's on call day, but her office is in the hospital and she came to see us. She checked my amniotic fluid with a sonogram, which was low, did an exam, and determined I was staying. I still hadn't dilated past 1cm, though, and I wasn't having any steady or strong contractions. She gave me a Cervidil insert, which lasts 12 hours and should ripen the cervix in that amount of time in order to start Pitocin and induce labor. However, after only about an hour on the Cervidil I started having intense contractions, a few minutes apart. A couple hours later, the back labor started, which was far, far more intense and unmanageable. I handled these with Mike's support and by using the shower, the birthing ball and music until about 6pm. By then, I had dilated only about 1/2 cm more and the contractions were 1-2 minutes apart with even more intense back labor. I finally requested an epidural, which they gave me and I felt better and more in control quickly.

The epidural gave me a break, and allowed Mike to get out of the room for a dinner break and some fresh air. However, it was short-lived. The epidural never quite covered the entire area of pain, and I had a spot on my left side that wasn't being hit by the medicine, along with back labor that the epidural couldn't get. My legs remained numb, but they couldn't get the epidural level to rise above that, based on the way my body metabolized the medicine. The epidural runs a continuous drip, but if the pain isn't being managed properly, they will top it off, meaning they push an extra dose directly into the tube. After topping my epidural off several times to no avail, eventually the anesthesiologists decided to take it out and do a second epidural. The exact same process took place. My body just wouldn't respond well to it.

Over the course of the night, I had the two epidurals, as well as 4 or 5 bags of IV pain medication, which don't really take away the pain, but they do make you woozy and delirious so you don't really know what's going on too well. I despise that out of control, delirious feeling but it was the only thing they could do for me. I was so out of control with pain at that point anyway, they had to do something.

I tend to internalize pain, I don't vocalize it, I don't scream or yell when something hurts, I get quiet. So when I tell you that I was screaming and sobbing, you know that I was not handling it. I wouldn't, couldn't breathe, I was sobbing huge vocal sobs, and screaming when the back labor was most intense. To say the pain was torture would be a vast understatement.

I slowly dilated overnight, and at one point went from 5-9 cm in under 2 hours. Then I sat at 9cm for hours. During the evening and night, I had the Monday on call doctor instead of my regular doctor, but my doctor was on call Tuesday and she came in early in the morning, in my room by 7. She was with me except for a couple of brief breaks from then on until I delivered. She could see how strained and worn out Mike was and she told him she'd take care of me and sent him out for a short walk and a cup of coffee to recharge.

She refused to let me consider bailing for a c-section, kept saying I've come too far and been through too much to let that happen unless it becomes absolutely necessary. She wanted me to have a couple of hours of pain free labor, one way or another, to get me the rest of the way before I could push.

The anesthesiologists were called back in to give me a spinal. It was an injection of very strong pain meds directly into my spine to knock out the pain of my belly contractions and the back labor for about an hour and a half. I saw no way I could sit still for the injection, through the incredibly intense pain. But my OB held my hands, talked to me and got me through it. Mike arrived back to the room as they were finishing the spinal, in enough time to help me through a few painful contractions before the spinal kicked in. The spinal knocked me out, asleep, for an hour.

When I woke up, the agonizing pain was back in full force, but I was slightly more in control, and almost ready to push. Mike and the doctor and the nurses got me through the last stretch until I was ready to push. I pushed for only about 35 minutes, before Emmett's arrival! It seemed much longer at the time, but was actually quite short based on the fact that it was my first baby and based on Emmett's size. It was agony to push only during contractions, and to listen to the doctor talk me through it, but it was only through her amazing coaching and expertise that I didn't tear and I have only one very small stitch inside. She never once mentioned an episiotomy, and she forced me to stop pushing and helped me to stretch to prevent any tearing.

Emmett arrived at 10:20am, and we were so excited to find out he was a boy and to give him the name we'd chosen for him. He was placed on my chest, where he stayed for about 15 minutes or so, while they dried him and suctioned him and tried to get him to scream. He grunted a lot and he turned nice and pink, but he never really screamed. They pulled him out the the nursery to check him out, and Mike went with him. He wouldn't scream there either, and ended up being brought to the NICU and put on oxygen, which he had for about 24 hours before he was breathing well on his own.

Due to my being Group B Strep positive and ruptured for 28 hours before birth, along with the fact that Emmett had the cord wrapped tightly around his neck, they wanted to run tests and check him for bacteria also. I stayed in the hospital, in a private room along with Mike, until Thursday. I was discharged on Thanksgiving and we waited in the NICU with Emmett all morning to find out if he'd be coming home with us. They got the results of the bacteria culture back, and it showed bacteria. They weren't going to let him home, he had to stay for antibiotics and to be monitored while they ran another bacteria culture.

Emmett stayed in the NICU until Saturday, November 28th, when the results of the second bacteria culture came back negative. Based on his healthy behavior and look, as well as the shorter tests that had been done inbetween the two cultures, his doctors called the first test a contaminant and declared him healthy. We brought him home on Saturday and have been settling in.

We just got back from his first pediatrician visit, where he was declared healthy, alert, vigorous and perfect. He weighs one ounce more than he did when he was born.

Our only real issue right now is feeding. He's become lazy because of all the bottles he had when he was in the NICU and he refuses to latch on well or often. I am extremely frustrated and am having a really hard time with it. We came home with some tips and ideas from the pediatrician, and we'll give it our best shot. We go back in a week for a weight check and feeding update, and we'll go from there. This is going to be a long week and a definite struggle, but Emmett is perfect and Mike is home with us for the whole week, so we'll enjoy our time together and we'll get through it.

I didn't really intend to sit down and write Emmett's birth story just now, but it sort of flowed out so there you have it! Sorry if it's TMI for some of you. It felt good to get it all out. I guess the only thing left for today is to leave you with a couple of favorite pictures from yesterday and today!

nothing to see here

I'm still pregnant. Dreadfully uncomfortable. Lots of lower back pain and pressure on my hips. According to my OB at my appointment on Wednesday, I'm ready to go at any time. Contractions on and off Thursday and today but nothing steady. There was some talk of inducing me at my appointment this week if I'm still feeling so much back pain and hip pressure, depending on what my cervix is doing (she hasn't checked it at all yet).

This morning, Mike and I went to see The Christmas Carol. I loved it. You should definitely go see it. And if my endorsement doesn't have you convinced already, you should know that Westley does some of the voices. Awesome.

I've generally resorted to jigsaw puzzles at this point, to keep me distracted and give me something to focus on. I finished one 500 piece puzzle so far. My apartment is a mess and it is driving me to distraction, I hate it so much, but apparently not enough to muster up the energy to do anything about it. Mike is keeping up with laundry and grocery shopping and cooking, and other than that, oh well. It'll wait.


Whew, it's been a little boring around these parts since that hilarious and disgusting tale of rotting meat in the baby's room. Which I am happy to report has been thoroughly cleaned and Rug Doctored by my dad, who came and spent an entire afternoon here doing that while we were at work. Our carpets look awesome now and the baby's room is now meat and bug free and we're working on getting the room organized.

But anyway, three weeks ago I came down with a cold that left me run-down and tired all the time. Over a week ago, that turned into a viral throat infection which I am only now getting over. I've been a tired and worn-out mess, and haven't been around here much at all.

You know what we need to spice this place up?

An adorable baby, ready and willing to be bragged about and photographed for the benefit of this here blog.

I am now past the 37 week mark in this pregnancy, and am officially considered full-term. So, kid, anytime now. Your public is waiting.

In the meantime, if anyone knows where I can find the seasonal flu shot and/or the H1N1 flu shot (NOT the nasal one) in Hudson County NJ or Manhattan, please share. I have been unable to get either one because of my cold and throat infection. Now that I have the OK to get them, my OB's office is out of the seasonal vaccine and never had, can't get the H1N1 vaccine. I've been on the phone with hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and dept of health on both sides of the river and nobody seems to have either one.

it's still october but it feels like the holiday season has officially begun

Our senior year in college, Mike and I lived next door to each other in on-campus apartments with friends. We always had parties in their apartment so that we could keep a nice neat place to live. It was a very convenient arrangement, and it meant that they were in possession of all the party stuff, including the liquor cabinet and an enormous piece of plywood that served as the beer pong table.

During the holiday season that year, we decided it would be fun to have a big holiday feast, prepared and hosted by the 8 of us living in the two apartments. We wanted to celebrate together, since the campus shut down and everyone spread out in all different directions back home during holiday breaks. The beer pong table was the perfect size for the feast, so we went for it. We used both kitchens, cooked a turkey and the entire feast to go with it, served it on the beer pong table, and I think we fed more than 20 friends. It is one of my favorite memories from college, taking time out to celebrate the holidays with close friends, since we would never be together on actual holidays.

A couple years later, when Mike was in law school, we earned a free turkey at the grocery store. We didn't know when we'd cook it, since holidays are always spent traveling to be with our families. Then we remembered how much fun it was to celebrate with friends back in college. So we picked a day, cooked the turkey and invited our... friend. We had begun to make friends in the area, but really had just one person we spent a lot of time with -- Mike's friend Joe, from law school. So the three of us had a holiday feast together. The following year, we did it again, with a few additional friends and it became a tradition.

When we moved to NYC, it was put on hold for a year, since we were living in a studio apartment with no kitchen to speak of. The last two years, we brought it back and served about 6-8 friends each year, including two friends who had been at the previous dinner and moved from PA to NYC around the same time we did, their significant others, and a few new friends. We held it a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, and it is now known as the Pre-Thanksgiving Feast.

It has become one of my favorite traditions, and I look forward to it months in advance. This year, we held the dinner in October, since our own Turkey is due two days before Thanksgiving! I wanted to be able to enjoy it, without being too uncomfortable or worrying that we'd have to cancel if the baby is early. We went all out this year, invited a lot of people and figured we'd just stuff everyone in, crowd around, and make it work! We ended up with 16 people, and we had such a great time. Good food and good friends made for a wonderful day and I'm so happy about it. Sadly, Mike's friend Joe, who has been at all our feasts except the one in college, and his wife Cassie recently moved to the west coast and weren't there this year. We missed you guys!

I already can't wait for next year when we get to do it again, and share it with our almost-one-year-old!

We were so busy having fun, we forgot almost entirely about the camera, so we have almost no photos. Here are just a couple, including this year's version of the invitation Mike draws every year:

labor playlist ideas

Update: The follow-up to this post, including my list of songs and how it worked for me, can be found here.

I am starting to work on a playlist for during labor. If you have been through labor, whether you had music or not, tell me what worked or didn't work for you, or what you imagine might have been good music to have. If you haven't, I still want to hear your opinions and ideas.

I am looking for music that would be relaxing and uplifting, maybe motivating. I am going through my collection of music, deciding what might be good. But I also may download some new things, so anything is fair game.

Music is, of course, a very personal thing, and your suggestions may or may not inspire me. In fact, if it's too personal for you, feel free to comment anonymously. I'm not going to tell you what I'm thinking about including, because I don't want judgment on it. After I have the baby, I may share my playlist for anyone who might be interested, but definitely not before that.

I'm looking forward to some ideas to help me get this going!

misadventures in freezer cleaning (a.k.a. how not to prepare for a baby)

It's time for another guest post from my husband! You may remember his others, which can be found here and here, but this time I think he has outdone himself. Here's Mike telling the story of how we are bad parents already and we don't even have our kid yet. I was going to write this myself, but he beat me to it, which is fine except that if I'd written it, you probably would not get quite the same tone of passive innocence on his part. Also I may have one or two things to add as we go along, in which case you'll find me in this handy purple font. So, you know, you can tell us apart. Okay, buckle up, ladies and gents, this is a long one:

About four weeks ago (Saturday, September 12th) I decided to clean out our small chest freezer which is in a small closet in what will soon become the baby’s bedroom. Originally, I was only planning dinner for the evening and looking for something to make. Since the freezer was disorganized and almost overflowing and I couldn’t find anything to make, I decided that I might as well clean out the freezer and organize as well. That way, I figured, I could see what we had and more easily determine what Amy and I would have for dinner. Deciding what to eat is more my territory these days, given that Amy doesn’t usually care what she eats, as long as it is food. She mainly just eats to survive and grow our child; she doesn’t seem to crave much food (at least healthy-ish food).

That's true. And I'm 33 weeks pregnant and I've only gained 14 pounds. Go ahead and hate me. I would too, if I were you. Though I probably would have traded some of the 20+ weeks of morning sickness for a few extra pounds.

I started pulling out all of the packages of frozen food and putting them on piles—chicken, hamburger, corn, bread, ice cream, etc…. Once I had all of the food sorted in the small closet where the chest freezer is located, I looked at the expiration dates, or dates when I created the packages of food (e.g., the date I bought the 15 pounds of hamburger at BJ’s and created smaller, usable portions of meat—for tacos, spaghetti sauce or hamburgers).

Since some of the dates were too old for what I still deemed an acceptable period of time in which to each such food, I threw some of the packages of food out the closet door, into the second bedroom, the room which we are in the process of transforming in to a baby’s bedroom. There was some freezer burnt ice cream, some hamburger past its prime, some really old bread, and numerous other things which had gone uneaten too long.

Once I was done being judge, jury and executioner for all of our frozen food, those foods which were deemed still edible were loaded back into the chest freezer in an organized fashion—hopefully to be eaten in the near future, instead of me having to throw them away the next time I get bored and decide to clean the freezer.

After reloading the freezer, I exited the closet to collect those items of food which were chosen to live out their lives in a landfill, instead of in our stomachs. I picked up the packages, dumped them in a garbage bag and dropped the garbage bag down the garbage chute, hoping to never see them again. For anybody who has ever visited us, you may know that this is an unlikely hope, given that our garbage men and containers are anything but clean. On Monday morning, as Amy and I walked to work past the garbage dumpsters outside our building, one of the dumpsters was not closed completely and after the garbage truck’s attempt to empty it, some of my meat was now covering the parking lot. Gross.

Around Wednesday of that week, Amy noticed a gross smell coming from the baby’s room. It smelled like it was coming from the bigger closet in the room, at the opposite corner of the room from the freezer closet. The smell was rather disgusting—it smelled like there was a dead mouse in the closet. I was highly annoyed at the prospect of removing everything from that closet in an attempt to find the dead mouse, especially since Amy, her parents and I had recently moved everything out of that closet, organized it and rearranged it so that we could fit all of the baby’s stuff in the bedroom. So, I did a half-assed search, smelling around, moving things, but to no avail—I couldn’t find the source of the smell. We hoped the smell would soon go away.

That weekend (September 18th-20th), Amy and I traveled to Connecticut for Amy’s baby shower. Amy and I were discussing the smell with Amy’s father, he suggested that it was probably just a dead mouse stuck in the wall somewhere, he has that problem occasionally, and after three or four days the smell should go away after the mouse has had sufficient time to dry up. This seemed like a likely explanation, so we continued to hope that the smell would go away soon.

The next week, the smell came and went. Some days you could hardly notice it, other days it was very much in your face. Every day when I came home from work the smell was there initially, at least at some potency, but usually it wasn’t that strong, so we got used to it. Around Wednesday of that week Amy sent me an email when she got home from work to tell me she was a super sleuth. She was near the bedroom window and notice that the smell was particularly strong near the window, when the wind blew in. She deduced that the odor was coming from a dead squirrel or something outside our open windows. To cure the problem, Amy turned on the air conditioner and closed the windows. This seemed to help, at least a little bit. Every once in a while over the next couple of days we could get a whiff of the gross odor, but for the most part it seemed to be gone.

The following Sunday (September 27th) I was drilling some holes to hang a few things on the walls of our apartment. When I was finished, as I was putting my tools away in the same closet as the freezer, I pushed a large box that was half-way off the shelf back to its proper location on the shelf. As I was doing so, I felt a plastic bag under the box. Picking the bag up, to my surprise (and disgust) the bag was a Ziploc freezer bag with half of a chicken in it. The chicken, if you could still call it that, was green, moldy and liquid. Apparently, when I was cleaning out the freezer the bag got pushed under the box and never found its way back into the freezer. Holding back vomit, I showed the meat to Amy and told her that I found what I was cooking for dinner that night, almost causing her to vomit in my face. I ran the juicy bag of poultry to the garbage chute and deposited the bag down the abyss.

I did almost vomit. It was unbelievably disgusting. I may have also done some yelling and swearing that Mike is never allowed to clean the freezer again.

The floor where the chicken laid didn’t particularly smell, but I blanketed the area with Febreze in an attempt to mask and hopefully eliminate the smell. The apartment continued to smell slightly, but we just attributed this to lingering odor that absorbed in to the carpet. We continued to spray Febreze and air out the rooms, and figured after a while, the smell would clear out.

Another week passed, but the smell never quite went away. On the weekend of October 2nd-4th we traveled to Pennsylvania for my cousin Brian and Sarah’s wedding reception. On the way we picked up our baby’s new crib and dresser/changing table. Upon returning to New Jersey on Sunday afternoon, after our friend Eddie helped me haul the baby’s furniture into our apartment, we sat down in the baby’s room to assemble the crib.

As I was laying out the hardware in the middle of the room, I noticed two or three little black cocoon-like bugs. I picked them up and threw them away, assuming they came in on my shoes or something—hoping that they didn’t come from the furniture or mattress. After assembling the crib, Amy said she wanted to go to Target to get a few things for the baby. At Target I decided to get some air fresheners/odor absorbers, hoping that they would also help to eliminate the lingering odor.

For the first day or so, the new air fresheners seemed to be controlling and eliminating the odor. When I got home from work on Wednesday, October 7th, I found Amy in what she has deemed “full nesting mode”. Apparently I married a bird, and since Amy is almost ready to pop her “egg” out, she feels the need to build a nest. Fortunately, not all of it is made out of sticks and leaves, although the crib does look as though it was made out of twigs—very expensive twigs. As Amy was re-sorting the items located on a cube-shelving system, she told me that the odor was particularly strong near the end of the futon.

Apparently someone (me?) neglected to tell my husband that all pregnant women nest, and that he hasn't seen anything yet. Should we tell him about how he should be prepared to remodel the entire apartment over the next seven weeks to calm my crazy nesting frenzies? Perhaps not.

I was getting fed up with this odor nonsense, so I ripped the futon away from the wall and gasped at the grotesque sight before my eyes. At the opposite end of the futon from where I was standing was ANOTHER package of what used to be frozen meat. This time, however, it wasn’t juicy chicken stowed safely inside an impenetrable Ziploc freezer bag, but rather a pound of ground hamburger specifically portioned for tacos, wrapped inside white freezer/butcher’s paper. Such paper apparently is not able to withstand the intrusion of little white bugs/larva. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a roll of paper towels and the garbage can. I tried to pick up the package of hamburger but it was stuck. STUCK TO THE CARPET AS A RESULT OF LEAKING COW BLOOD ALL OVER THE PLACE! Disgusting.

I pried the package off the floor, leaving behind a nice big, gross red and black stain on the floor. Also crawling around the creamy colored carpet were numerous black bugs/larva and also little white larva crawling around. They blend in easily and are hard to see. I picked up and popped—spewing pus/bug guts—all of the black and white bugs that I could see. I vacuumed the area multiple times hoping to collect those that I couldn’t see.

So now, I have the task of trying to get ride of a juicy beef blood stain from my carpet before our baby arrives. Hopefully I will find some free time to rent a Rug Doctor to clean the entire baby’s room. Amy also plans to re-wash all of the baby clothing and diapers which she already spent so much time washing over the past few weeks, since most of them were stored near the futon, and may contain all manner of absorbed reeking smell and/or bugs.

You can guess how my fingers were itching to interrupt the last few paragraphs, but I refrained, in order to allow you to take it all in. Let me just be sure you understood that in our innocent unborn child's room there have been two, count them, TWO piles of rotting foul meat. Not to mention the bugs and the reeking smell and the fact that we have to Rug Doctor the room and I can't lift a damn thing to help.

And all the baby laundry I have to do again because I can't live with the fact that any of it might contain bugs or reeking smell. Of course, I'd probably be a lot more upset about that fact if I didn't love doing baby laundry. All those cute tiny things to fold!

Ages ago, when we first found the chicken, I told Mike I was going to write the story here. He said, direct quote, "You're not going to blame me, are you?"

Why, no, honey, NO! Of course not. You sweet, innocent thing, where in this could I possibly blame you? YES OF COURSE I'M GOING TO BLAME YOU, WHO ELSE WOULD I BLAME?

And that, folks, was before the second pile of rotting meat was discovered. Ahem. This was supposed to be Mike's post. I'll just let him wrap it up.

The only explanation for how this package of meat got under the futon was that when I was throwing the meat to throw away out the freezer closet door, this particular package took a nasty bounce and landed under the futon. Either that or the cat knocked it around and pushed it under the futon, which seems unlikely.

We don’t even have the baby yet and we have twice created an unsanitary place for the baby to live once it arrives. Hopefully the odor will finally go away now—what are the chances that there is a third package of rotting, rancid meat in our apartment?

wordless wednesday: diaper laundry

wordless wednesday: kitty burrito

Full story behind this is here.

restoring a little faith

This morning, I boarded the front car of a fairly crowded train and moved toward the seats. I hadn't even noticed that I entered through the door nearest the conductor, but he noticed me. Before I could even get in front of the seats, the conductor leaned over, tapped a seated passenger on the shoulder and asked the guy to get up for me. He was more than happy to do so and even helped make a pathway for me to get to the seat easily. Both men smiled kindly and waved off my thank you as though I shouldn't have even said it.

it's the little things

Aside from the morning sickness, heartburn and carpal tunnel, I have had amazingly few issues with this pregnancy. I know how lucky I am that I haven't gained a lot of weight, and that I still look mostly like myself, just add a belly. I'm not apprehensive about caring for a baby. I'm not even nervous about labor, at least not yet. I have remained pretty confident in myself and I've been able to basically continue doing all the things I normally do. When I tell you I'm doing well, it's the truth. When it comes to the big things, the things that matter, it's all good and I'm happy.

It takes the little things to defeat me, apparently.

It had been well over a week since I'd shaved my legs. This morning, in the shower, I decided to try and shave them, to make myself feel a little more human, a little less unattractive. It was hard, and frustrating. It was difficult to reach, and I felt unbalanced, and it took me a while. By the time I was done, I felt worse than when I started. Mike asked me, perfectly innocently, whether I was done yet and said I should have told him if I'd be a while in the shower, so he could go use the other bathroom.

Without any way to know it, he'd kicked me when I was down. I snapped, told him I was just trying to feel better about myself, to feel a little more attractive, and I didn't know it would take me forever, and next time I just wouldn't bother because there was no point anyway. Then I didn't speak to him until breakfast.

The whole thing made me feel like a complete failure. I felt ugly, and unlike myself, and on top of all that I couldn't even be nice to my husband, who did absolutely nothing wrong.

When we left for work, my mood started going downhill again. My short commute, which I've been doing in some similar form for almost three years, and is second nature, now feels to me like the most difficult task of my day. I dread it, because of the crowds, because people are so rude and push me and bump into me, and these days that makes me want to scream at them.

Today, I got on the train even though it was crowded because it looked like there was enough of a path through toward the seats that I could get close enough for someone to see me and give up their seat. It didn't happen. All the gaps filled in and I couldn't get near the seats, and I couldn't get back out the door onto the platform. I had no choice but to grab onto a bar, do my best to balance, and focus on staying fully conscious.

I made it okay, but by the time I got off the train, I was no longer able to hold back the tears of defeat and frustration. I feel so absolutely ridiculous that I can't handle a short train ride when I should be perfectly capable of it. I backed away from the crowds, waited for the platform to empty out some, wiped my eyes, and headed slowly up the stairs.

I put my brave face on and came into work. I will spend the day giving the impression that I am the perfectly secure, together, with it pregnant woman who can handle anything. I'll fight the crowds and I'll make it back home. And then I'll sink into Mike's arms and let go, and admit to what an incompetent failure I really am.

He'll help me through the weekend, we'll do things that are within my abilities and my comfort zone, and I'll get some projects done. By Sunday, I'll feel confident and like myself again. By the middle of next week, I'll start to drown in the same painful feeling of failure that threatens me this morning, and he'll have to pick me up, dry my tears, and help me back to my feet. Again.


(Stolen from Maresi. You should go to her website where you can watch an adorable video of my goddaughter who just learned to walk!)

1. Who was your first prom date?
Angelo. Went to elementary school with him, met him again junior year of high school at Aventura, and invited him. It was fun in a reunion with old friends kind of way.

2. Do you still talk to your first love?
I married him.

3. What was your first alcoholic drink?
Tequila shooters in Mamie's kitchen.

4. What was your first job?
The Rose Sullivan Shoppe -- my aunt's clothing store. Oh how I miss that store!

5. What was your first car?
The Dollar Car! A 1987 Dodge Aries, sold to me for $1 by Mamie & Grandfather for my 16th birthday.

6. Who was the first person to text you today?
no texts thus far today

7. Who was the first person you thought of this morning?

8. Who was your first grade teacher?
Mrs. Kaiser

9. Where did you go on your first flight in a plane?
Disney World with Gram, Mom, Jeanne & Ben

10. Who was your first best friend and do you still talk?
Anna, and of course!

11. Where was your first sleepover?
Either at Anna's or at Maresi & Katherine's, probably.

12. Who was the first person you talked to today?

13. Whose wedding were you in for the first time?
I've only ever been in one wedding. My cousin Sandi Lynn's, when I was in 8th grade!

14. What was the first thing you did this morning?
Gave the damn cat her medicine.

15. What was the first concert you went to?
Aside from school & church concerts, it was probably Radio 104 Fest at the Meadows in, I'm guessing, 1998 or 1999.

16. First tattoo?
Not yet.

17. First piercing?

18. First foreign country you went to?

19. First movie you remember seeing?
An American Tail! With Fievel! I think Auntie Bevie took Greg and me to the theater to see it.

20. What state (province) did you first live in?

21. Who was your first room mate?
Lynann, at Etown, with her crazy and more crazy and her even crazier family.

22. When was your first detention?
I never got a detention. Which is not to say I never deserved one.

23. When was your first kiss?
Yohann, junior year of high school.

24. What is one thing you would learn, given the chance?
I'd like to be fluent in ASL. I'd also like to learn Spanish.

25. Who will be the next person to post this?
If anyone does, maybe Thais or Meredith?

heartburn, lack of sleep, carpal tunnel, backache

In other words, hi, I'm 7 months pregnant. Welcome to my life! There are a lot of things I want to write about on here but I'm just so tired. So I'll just update you on what's going on with me in a sort of stream of consciousness way and that'll be my poor excuse for a post today.

-My heartburn is really bad. Like, awake for extended periods of time multiple times a night bad. No amount of Tums, water or milk helps. I just got a prescription for Pepcid from my doctor, so we'll see how that goes.

-It helps if I sleep propped up with pillows leaning against my husband pillow (not my actual husband).

-But then the back pain is worse than if I sleep on my side. Which, I suppose, is better than not sleeping at all.

-I'm tired.

-My back hurts. All the time.

-Did I mention I'm tired?

-The carpal tunnel is bad this week. I have always had carpal tunnel, and I'd heard it can get worse in pregnancy. But it hadn't until this week and now all of a sudden it's agony. Nothing the doctor can do for me except shrug and say it'll back off once the baby's born. I'm wearing my braces at work but that only goes so far in helping.

-Last week my cat Sierra, the fat one, was really sick. I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with liver problems, due to how fat she is. She's feeling much better now, and we're feeding her the diet food.

-She feels much better now because we have medicine to give her, which should solve the liver problems and then we'll be done with it. Two liquids twice a day. And a pill once a day for 30 days.

-In case you didn't catch that, I'll repeat myself: A pill once a day for 30 days.

-For my cat.

-If you have never given a cat a pill, I don't recommend you start. Holy crap.

-It involves dragging her out from under the bed, where she's hiding because she knows what's about to happen, wrapping her up in a towel like a little kitty burrito so none of her lethal arms and legs can escape, all while she hisses and tries to run away. Then you wrench her mouth open, shove the pill in and clamp her mouth shut so she has no choice but to swallow.

-Lather, rinse, repeat about 12 times because she is fast and will shoot the damn thing back out at you way faster than you thought she could ever move, before you can shut her mouth.

-Finally force her to swallow it, then squirt water into her mouth with a little syringe so she doesn't choke on the pill.

-It is a really good thing I love my cat.

-It's not all bad news! The baby's moving and kicking is pretty fun right now. You can see the rolling around on my stomach, and I feel pointy little limbs poking around everywhere.

-It's super annoying and painful when the pointy little limbs are up in my ribs or dancing on my bladder, but still pretty awesome.

-Mike and I are traveling up to CT today after work for my baby shower tomorrow. I am super excited about spending a weekend hanging out with family and friends.

-I will be back with pictures next week. Also I will try to get a picture of the kitty burrito because it's hilarious.

the same, and yet different

It was the same, this morning. The same as last year.

With one glaring exception. Today, wading into the 9/11 anniversary melee outside my office, I wasn't alone. I carry this baby with me, my future child, who makes it all at the same time easier and harder to be here. To sit at my desk and fight the urge of self-preservation to go home and crawl back into bed. To go about my normal routine in a show of solidarity, for our country. To do the right thing, for our children.

To remember. To learn from history. To honor heroes. Ne plus jamais. Never forget.

staring contest

I fought my way onto a crowded train this morning, with just enough room so I could wedge in and stand in front of a row of seats. I am starting to get huge and unwieldy, and it normally takes about one second for someone to get up for me. Today, though, I was in front of two young professional men, about 30 years old, one wearing a wedding band and one not. They wore dress pants and some form of blue/white patterned dress shirts, both sitting down. Neither was reading or listening to headphones, and both sat there and watched me approach, remaining firmly in their seats. I looked at them, and they looked at me, and as we entered into this staring contest, they each had about five more seconds before I started giving them hell about not bothering to get up.

I was so busy being annoyed at them, it took me a second to notice the guy down the row from them. He was about 50 years old, no wedding band, dressed in a very nice suit, carrying a briefcase, listening to headphones and reading a paper. Even through the headphones and the newspaper, he had noticed the other two guys keeping their seats. He went out of his way to get up for me and clear a path so that I could get over and sit down.

With a final glare at the two guys sitting down, I made my way over, grinned at the guy who got up, and started to thank him. He didn't even wait for thanks -- he nodded, smiled kindly and moved away to a place where he had room enough to stand.

I held back from hollering at the other two that they should pay attention and learn a thing or two. I really wanted to, but somehow I managed to keep my trap shut for once.

a rhode island vacation in photographs

my husband the tv celebrity

Last night, Mike went to the first night of the US Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium. It's the third year he's gone, for work, and has been able to sit a few rows back from the court and see some of the biggest tennis stars play. Last night's matches featured Venus Williams and Andy Roddick. Even I know those are big stars and I only watch tennis once a year, and that's to see if I can spot Mike in the audience on tv.

There he is! Blue collared shirt, top left. Pretty neat, so close to the action. What this photo does not show is the 10 year old girl who vomited all over the place a few seats away, or the fact that it took stadium personnel rather a while to get to it and clean it up. Last year, he ran into Martha Stewart. This year, a vomiting child.

Even weirder, though, and my main reason for writing about this, was the random lady who sat in Mike's seat when he was eating dinner. The group of them got to the stadium, found their seats, and went to a restaurant in the stadium to eat. Mike left his black fleece jacket on his seat while they ate.

When they returned, there was a lady none of them knew sitting in their box. She didn't belong in that section. And she was wearing Mike's fleece jacket over her legs. And had a bag of cheetos with her that she was about to eat. They kicked her out and reclaimed their seats and his jacket.

Mike texted me that he felt violated. I couldn't stop laughing about it, but really, I don't blame him. I mean, who does that? Sits in someone else's seat and uses their jacket? And plans to eat cheetos and drip orange crumbs all over it? I think it's incredibly bizarre and I can't figure out what would possess someone to think that was okay. Can you? Is it as weird as I think it is? Would you do it?

500 degrees and humid is exactly what a room full of pregnant women needs

I just got back from the OB, and the biggest news is that the air conditioning in their office is broken. It was hotter than hell in there. Perfect for a bunch of pregnant women hanging around. Especially when one of them is prone to dizzy spells and fainting in humid, hot weather and stuffy air. Awesome.

I sunk into a waiting room chair across from a woman that looked further along than I, and she was suffering and had been waiting a while because the doctor was behind schedule. Based on that, and the fact that every time I've visited their office in the late afternoon, it's been a long wait, I expected the worst. I got out my book and my water, texted Mike "OMG IT IS REALLY EFFING HOT IN HERE," concentrated really hard on not passing out, and settled in for the long haul.

I hadn't even read two pages when the nurse came to get me. Hallelujah! I guess that other lady was waiting for one of the other doctors. It was all downhill after that. I was out of there less than fifteen minutes later.

Normally I'm that pregnant lady, the one who comes running into the office yelling NEVERMIND WHO I AM AND WHEN MY APPOINTMENT IS PLEASE JUST GIVE ME THAT CUP because I always have to pee so bad by the time I get there. Always. But this is how hot and humid and disgusting and sweaty it is today -- I didn't even have to pee. Not even when I got into the office and they made me take the cup. And believe me, I have been drinking water. In the end, I managed to pee enough for them to test. I'm sure you're thrilled to know that.

It was all good news in the appointment. I am measuring well. I gained two more pounds, which brings my grand total thus far to seven pounds. The heartbeat sounds good, although the kid was far too busy wriggling all over the place for the doctor to get close enough in to hear it very loud! But that's good news, too.

Best of all, I do not have to go sit for the four hour sugar test! I passed my glucose test. PHEW. I am very glad not to have to do that. That should hopefully be the end of my relationship with Quest Diagnostics for a good long time. I've had about enough of them.

As far as I know, that other woman was still there when I left. I hope she's out of there by now and cooling off somewhere. I'm certainly thankful my doctor was on time and full of good news for me today.

Now if I could just figure out how to brush my teeth without dribbling toothpaste down my front now that it's become impossible to bend at the waist.

it's a wonder i can't injure myself while i'm sleeping. oh wait, i can.

Okay so waking up in screaming pain with a charlie horse probably doesn't count as injuring myself. But it feels like it. And that was yesterday morning, early, and I still have charlie horse pain in my left calf from it.

Just add it to the list -- I seem to be able to injure myself on anything and everything these days! I have no coordination anymore. I have always been prone to stubbing my toes, but I've now taken it to a whole new level. I could probably stub my toes on air.

Also I think it's officially time for me to stay out of the kitchen before I do myself serious harm. Twice in the last two days, I've hurt myself in the kitchen. I might be the only person ever to injure myself getting ice cream out of the freezer. I grabbed the carton, and it knocked into a tupperware container of frozen solid chowder, which fell out of the freezer and landed on my left ankle. It now looks like I have two ankles on my left foot, with the swelling and bruising.

Yesterday, I was getting out a dish to bake the banana bread Mike was making. The metal pan was between two glass pyrex dishes, so I picked up all three, took out the metal pan, and the top glass dish slipped and crashed onto the bottom glass dish, smashing into a million pieces and cutting my leg.

I think I should just sit back, relax, put my feet up and stay out of the way, don't you?

it's a boy? it's a girl? it's a boy?

For a few weeks, I had a strong feeling that the baby is a boy. I woke up one morning feeling that way and it stuck. I was sure. We even have a boy name or two that we really like now. At first we struggled with boys' names, not finding anything we'd even consider.

In the midst of those few weeks, we went to Ashley & Eddie's wedding. While there, a friend of theirs told me he's 6 for 7 on predicting whether babies are girls or boys, and told me I'm having a girl. His theory? I don't look manly, so I must not have the testosterone in my system that would be there if I were growing a boy. He did assure me that when he predicts a baby to be a boy, he doesn't share his reasoning with the expectant mother. Though flattered, I brushed him off and figured that theory is nonsense. An old wives' tale, just like so many others.

Last week, on two separate nights, I had two very distinct and clear dreams that the baby is a girl. So convincing, in fact, that I woke up the first time and told Mike that we're having a girl. No question, it's fact, end of story. And then I had the second dream, equally as convincing, a couple nights later.

My parents were here for the weekend, having spent the day Friday painting the baby's room for us. The four of us went shopping at Macy's on Saturday, which also has a pea in the pod maternity store inside it. While Mom and I were looking at maternity clothes for me, Mike flipped through some pregnancy and baby books, passing the time.

After we got back home, we gave my parents a spare key to the apartment, which we'll also be doing for Mike's parents, figuring they'll want to be able to get in and out when we're at the hospital in November. He had the key laying in his flat palm, and held it out to me. I grabbed it and handed it to my parents.

"It's a boy," Mike said. Utterly confused, we asked him to explain. He had read in one of the books that if a pregnant woman picks up the key by the thin part, with the grooves, it's a girl, and if she picks it up by the fat, handle part, it's a boy. Another of those old wives' tales!

I don't know whether it's a boy or girl, my instincts keep wavering back and forth. But I do know this: I am so happy with the decision not to find out, if only because the speculation and predictions and old wives' tales are so much fun to hear!


As of yesterday, I am 24 weeks pregnant. I have still gained only four pounds, but in the last couple of days I have officially reached the point where my belly is an obstacle, getting in the way when I try to do things. I reach for the dish soap at the sink and my belly bounces off the edge of the counter. I bend over to shave my legs and have to contort in crazy directions to reach. I dive down in the washer to pull out some clothes at the bottom and find my arms are shorter than they used to be. I turn over in bed and a beach ball prevents me from smoothly turning over in my sleep without waking up.

So far it's just a minor inconvenience, but it's definitely a sign of things to come!

odds & ends

Monday and today, when I got on the train in the morning, someone immediately jumped up for me so I could sit. Both were young women, I'm guessing about 23-25 age range. Both dressed simply but professionally. They were very kind and didn't even wait for me to thank them before moving away to find a place to stand. Yesterday, nobody would give up a seat. Everybody, after glancing up at me, was very busy keeping their noses securely in their books or papers, or pretending to be asleep. One girl's eyelids were actually doing that thing where they shake because you're trying so hard to keep them shut.

There is a story I'm dying to tell you about a person I barely know who is really challenging my patience. I've gotten into a fight with him on at least two occasions now, and his rudeness, arrogance and general above-everyone attitude has pushed me way past my limit and I can't ignore it anymore. Unfortunately, I can't tell that story here right now. At some point, hopefully I will be able to. In the meantime, suffice to say, I am normally a very patient and tolerant person, but I'm now yelling at people I hardly even know.

This morning I went to the doctor. Everything looks good, my belly is measuring properly, and no problems. It was a red letter day - the first appointment I've registered a weight above my pre-pregnancy weight! Finally, at 23 weeks, I've gained a total of 4 pounds. I have to go for the glucose test in a few weeks, I have to call about a hospital tour, decide whether we want to do childbirth classes, and we have some thinking to do about whether to bank the baby's cord blood. Other than that, all is well and I go back again in a month.

this week is a wedding sandwich

This weekend we're going to the wedding celebration for our good friends Alissa & Paul down in south Jersey. I am really looking forward to catching up with some of our old friends from college this weekend and I'm sure we'll have a blast.

Last weekend, we attended the wedding of our good friends Ashley & Eddie, up in Massachusetts where Ashley grew up. Let me just tell you, they know how to throw a wedding. Three days of fun, food, family, friends, and gorgeous weather. I mean, I don't think they actually control the weather, but everything worked out to make for a perfect celebration. Their families made us feel like we were part of the family, and we had a great time celebrating with them. The ceremony was beautiful (except perhaps for the videographer who turned up at the church during the readings and disrupted everything, but that's a story for another day). The reception was outdoors, under a tent in Ashley's parents' backyard and couldn't have been more fun. They are such a great couple and I couldn't be happier for them.

The only thing that might have made it better is if they had entered the church like this:

I'm looking at you, Alissa & Paul!

i wish i didn't have this story to tell

Ever since my brother died, I do this thing whenever I get really nervous, sad, stressed or worried. I sort of ball up my hand and rest my thumbnail in the indents between my teeth. It's completely involuntary, and for a long time, I didn't know I was doing it, but I did it constantly. I'm now aware of it, I catch myself doing it, and it's rare that I get to that point these days.

This morning, I caught myself with my thumbnail between my two front teeth on my walk to work.

I don't want to tell this story. With every fiber of my being, I want to shove it under the surface and pretend it never happened. But it's eating at me, and so I'm going to tell it. For me. Just to get it out there so I can move on. And also because I committed to writing portraits of people who give me seats on the train while I'm pregnant. But mostly this is just for me to clear my head.

I boarded a crowded PATH train this morning around 8:30. I stood in front of a group of two seats, both filled. A couple, mid-20's, looked like they were in a discussion. It was only a moment, though, before she noticed me and got up. He immediately said he was sorry, he didn't see me there. I really looked at them then, him sitting in the seat and her standing up. Neither of them looked like they were really focusing on anything. He made a couple of rude comments about how she could have been pregnant, too, by him or his friends. She told him to shut up. I didn't catch all the details, because I had my headphones on.

By this point, I was trying to ignore them; it was obvious to me that they were wasted on something. She dressed for a night out in a mini-skirt, leggings, belly shirt and large gold cross necklace, I admit I wondered what they were doing on their way to the WTC stop with all the commuters.

A minute later, she leaned toward me and said "Journal Square, right?" Journal Square is a stop further out in NJ, not toward Manhattan, where the train was heading. I took off my headphones and explained to her how to get off and transfer to the right train at the next stop.

She said okay. Then began grabbing the train handle and flinging it as hard as she could back and forth, yelling loudly about the fucking new jersey trains, fucking ridiculous, can't fucking figure them out, she was born and fucking bred in new york city. On and on. And berating him about taking them on the wrong train.

They were far gone and putting on a show. Their eyes were out of focus and their complexions were pasty and unhealthy.

This enrages me more than anything. To flaunt your dangerous and unhealthy habits in front of me is a slap in the face. I wrapped my arm around my belly and focused on the baby, ignoring them. I drew on the need to protect myself and the baby and I kept my mouth shut. But it took everything I had, and I mean everything, not to yell at them. Tell them my brother died of a drug overdose and if they didn't clean up their act and respect themselves, they would too. Tell them they have no idea what they're doing to themselves and they're assholes for not protecting the lives they've been given.

I kept silent. It's not my place to put myself out there like that right now, and it's not my business what other people do to themselves. But it's still not okay. It's just not.

They got off at the next stop to catch the right train and it went quiet.

i win -- at least for now

Comcast has, to say the least, put us through the ringer over the last few weeks. Without going through all the gory details, we have been given wrong information, horrible, HORRIBLE customer service, and waited around for them a full Saturday, a full Sunday, and a Tuesday afternoon (I left work early), and generally wasted way too much time and energy on something completely ridiculous and fixable. I have been thisclose to canceling service entirely and either relying on Netflix or trying to get Verizon Fios to come in this building. If you know me, you know how seriously pissed I must be to be actually considering living without cable television and HD channels.

Anyway, to make a long story short (too late, I'm sure), in the midst of one of my many phone conversations with Comcast, they had promised me that we would not be charged any installation fees. Well, our bill came last week, and surprise! $34.50 of installation fees have been charged.

Two seriously shell-shocked customer service representatives later, I win. They started out slightly apologetic with a side of annoyance at my long story, offering me a $90 credit distributed as $30 off each bill for the next three months.

I told them that was a good start and asked what else they planned to offer me. Much placating on their parts and refusal to budge on my part later, I finally agreed to their proposal to keep me as a customer. In addition to the $90 credit, they are refunding the installation fees, and we ended up with free Showtime for a year, $9 per month off our cable box and connection fees, and an additional $20 discount on this month's bill just for kicks.

I am relieved, honestly. I really didn't want to give up cable. I would have, but I'm glad I didn't have to. I love my 90210 reruns on the soap network Next Food Network Star and Ice Road Truckers. The moral of the story: fight for what you want and refuse to budge and you will eventually get what you want. Whether it was worth your time and hassle is an entirely different question.

We'll see what happens a year from now when these promotions and discounts run out and I have to start all over again. At least I have what I want for now.


I am working on a few posts, including my recent run-in with Comcast (Did I decide to cancel my cable? Stay tuned...) and photos from last weekend's family gatherings, 2nd annual family ladderball tournament (Who were the big champions this year??), and modified cousins' weekend. I couldn't have had more fun.

But right now I'm totally distracted by the active baby playing kickball with my uterus. It's the first time it's felt more like kicks and less like little flutters. I've totally lost my focus, so you'll excuse me if I just go back to enjoying that now.

giving in to cravings is fun

Bad: I just ate six ears of corn as my entire dinner.

Worse: I could probably eat at least three more.

what the joys of commuting mean to me

The woman sitting on the opposite side of the train, facing me, is chewing gum. She has dyed blond, feathered hair and she's wearing sunglasses on an underground train. She has one of those mouths where her front teeth, which are ever so slightly too white, are fully exposed whenever her mouth is open. She chews her gum with a wide open mouth, jaw rotating in frantic little circles, all the way to the last stop.

this dream was far from empty

I just woke up from a dream about my brother. It's been a long time since I've had any dreams about Greg, though for a while after he died, I had dreams about him all the time.

The dreams were always fairly simple and innocent, we'd be doing normal things just like he was here with us and it was the most natural thing in the world. I'd wake up from them and it would take some time before it hit me that it wasn't natural anymore. I only got to see him in dreams and photographs.

This one was no different, with one major exception: we told Greg he was going to be an uncle.

In this dream, he was the Greg in the picture above, lean and healthy and short hair. I was home in CT, visiting my parents. We went to pick Greg up, because he was taking a break from hiking the Appalachain Trail. Something he planned to do but never got to do. But he was hiking it in pieces, going north to south (most people travel south to north, which is most efficient, weather/season-wise). He'd made it from Maine to Virginia, in pieces, and was back for a visit. We had a short time with him and then we were dropping him off to meet someone he was hitching a ride with back to Virginia to continue hiking.

Greg was happy, smiling and laughing and talking about the trail. There were some things going on in the middle of the dream, just everyday normal things around the house. Then Mike and I told him that he was going to be an uncle. And here's where it gets slightly surreal, the first time a dream about him has ever veered from everyday life mundane things.

In response, he smiled this almost ethereal smile and said gently, "I'm already an uncle."

I think we got all the way to dropping him off with his ride back to the trail, but I don't really remember anymore of the dream. I woke up and a few minutes later, the dream hit me pretty hard, the way they always used to. Where it takes a minute to realize it was only a dream and Greg really is dead.

But what he said in the dream is really sticking with me. Was he trying to tell me that he already knows our baby? He's already watching out for him/her? I'm not sure, but I can tell you two things: That is a comforting thought. And that is the first time one of my dreams about him has ever veered even slightly into the surreal.

You know what the best part is, though? I got to see him smile, like he was right here next to me. Even if it's just for today, I remember my brother's smile.

portrait of someone who gave me a seat on the train

I can tell that I'm really starting to show, especially this week, by the way people look at me. I am interested in a sort of character study of the people who actually acknowledge me or offer to move or help in some way. Are these people just nicer or feeling generous that day, or is there something in their lives that particularly motivates them to care about a pregnant woman? I don't know, but let's watch these people over the next few months and see what unfolds.

This morning when I got on the train, a woman immediately gave me her seat. She didn't even ask me if I wanted it, she just got up and offered it to me. There was something that struck me as very sweet about her personality, even through that brief interaction, though she wasn't smiley and there was a slight air of melancholy about her, probably just the early-morning blues.

She was in her mid-30's and overweight, but not fat. She was dressed simply in a conservative black dress and a long necklace, with a calf-length black raincoat with khaki trim. Minimal makeup, and a lovely face framed by blond hair held loosely in a clip. She wore sensible sneakers for her commute. Over her arm she carried a frayed black tote bag, and in her hand a worn out Louis Vuitton handbag.

When I glanced at her left hand holding onto the pole, there was a simple ladies' wedding ring with a small diamond, slightly scratched up and well-worn. Below that, on the same finger, also very well-worn, sat a man's wedding ring.

what the joys of commuting mean to me

I almost kissed the girl on the train this morning who jabbed her husband in the ribs with her elbow and made him give me his seat.

A few minutes later, I glanced over and she was flipping through photos of a very small baby girl on her iPhone.

these two years have flown by

Happy anniversary, Mike. Here's to many more years of love, laughter and adventure.

ice cream

As a not skinny person, at least not in the last ten years, I am used to watching the scale, hoping for a shift of a couple of numbers. I am just not used to hoping for those numbers to go up. Seems a little backwards to me.

But as of tomorrow I am 17 weeks pregnant, and weight is starting to be of slight concern. Nothing to worry over yet, but definitely something to watch. I was down a total of six pounds at one point, then leveled off a few weeks ago at five pounds down, and have stayed there ever since. Until now - I have finally gained one of them back. I am only four pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight and it almost feels like cause for celebration!

This world in which I force myself to eat ice cream for the calcium, protein and fat is one I could really get used to. You know, minus the nausea and migraines, please. But, hey, baby steps! (Get it, baby steps? I crack myself up.)

what the joys of commuting mean to me

I rush down the stairs onto the waiting train and spot one open seat. One of the two large guys on either side of it has one tree trunk of a leg spread halfway across the empty seat. My newly visible bump and I move for the seat, with apologies and excuse mes, but he ignores me and doesn't move. So I'm wedged between the two large guys, with one of them rudely pushing his leg across my seat and spreading his arms out, forcing me into as little space as possible.

The only reason I endure this at all, instead of just standing up, is that I still get dizzy and faint on the train; that doesn't seem to be easing up along with the nausea. We finally make it to the last stop, and I try to get up and get out into the fresh air and open space, but the guy sticks his whole arm out to the side, blocking me from moving, until he hauls himself up out of his seat and plows out the door.

dave matthews band

Last night, I went with my cousin Sandi Lynn to the Dave Matthews Band concert at the Meadows in Hartford. We had great seats indoors, and I've honestly never seen a better live show. The guys are all truly amazing musicians, and I was struck by their talent and their joy in performing together. They played for about three hours, including the encore, and I barely even knew the time had passed.

It's been ten years since I've been to the Meadows, but I've never seen a DMB concert before. I had forgotten what a great place the Meadows is to see a concert. The indoors is intimate and fun. The whole complex is clean and well-taken care of, there are staff, security and police everywhere. They have everything pretty well under control, and I would imagine it has a lot to do with the history the Dave Matthews Band has in Hartford. Ten years ago, you may remember the riots that took place at their concerts in Hartford. I had just graduated high school that year, and had it on good authority at the time that several of my classmates were instrumental in starting those riots. Dave Matthews swore at the time that he would never be back to Hartford. He, of course, did change his mind and plays an annual two-night engagement there. But it hasn't been entirely without incident -- five years ago there was a mini-riot but it was curbed by police, and every year there are at least a few arrests. But the Meadows is well-prepared these days.

Dave was in a great mood last night, he was very chatty, and in fact has developed a sense of humor about the situation. They opened with a couple songs off their new album, and then took a break and he chatted with us. He pointed out the moon, which he could see coming out through the open back of the theater, and talked about what a lovely day it had been. He then said, completely deadpan, "All we need now is a riot," and then launched immediately into Ants Marching, a song from the days of that concert, with a huge jam session.

Overall, we had a great day and a wonderful time at the concert. It was completely worth standing on concrete for four hours while pregnant (which left me with ONE HELL of a charlie horse that woke me up this morning) and inhaling a little pot smoke (just add it to the long list of mother's guilt items that I can apologize to my kid later for), though it actually wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected. Watching the sheer joy and musicianship and talent of those guys was a real experience. Their old music was great to hear live, and the music from their new album is intriguing and good, I am looking forward to spending more time listening to it. And getting to see the bassist's two year old daughter, wearing an adorable little white and red striped dress and huge sound-blocking headphones, dancing with wild abandon and joy on the side of the stage was the icing on the cake! Can't wait to see them in concert again.

three krispy kremes is an appropriate mid-morning snack, right?

I am beginning to enjoy (SOME) foods again. You can still pretty much count out meat and dairy. But I am no longer eating only tiny bits of food that I can manage to choke down. There are certain foods I am actually enjoying now.

I innocently wandered down to the other side of the floor this morning, only to find out that two boxes of krispy kremes were coming out of the conference room, leftover from a meeting. I am on my third donut. They are SO GOOD. I guess this is one way to start gaining weight, right?

Please resist the urge to tell me how many calories and how much fat is in even one bite of a krispy kreme. I don't want to know, not even a little bit. Plus, apparently today is national donut day, so, bonus! I am celebrating a holiday. And there are no calories on holidays, everyone knows that.

welcome to the one week anniversary of me not puking up my breakfast!

It has officially been one week since I've had to eat a second breakfast due to the first one not sticking. That is not to say I am all better, because I'm definitely still very fatigued and run-down and often nauseous, but, BUT, it is a red letter day. I'd say the first trimester crap is finally on the downturn, two and a half weeks into my second trimester.

I had an OB appointment today, and all is well. Still haven't gained any weight, but I'm no longer losing weight so that's all she cares about for now. I'm not to worry about it. Heartbeat is strong and my uterus is poking up and out a little bit now, which I knew, because I can feel it now and there is a teeny little bump there.

I told her I've gotten a few migraines in the last couple weeks and there's nothing that helps them, oh let me rephrase that, nothing you'll let me take that helps them. She sympathized but didn't back down, which I knew was exactly what would happen. She told me to keep doing what I'm doing for headaches, which is take Tylenol and drink caffeine and wait them out.

Other than that, nothing of note. I go back in four weeks and I have to call and schedule the anatomy scan for 5-7 weeks from now.

i seriously do not appreciate your disobedience, child

I am a week and a half into my second trimester and none of this second trimester energy and appetite and glow and general wonderfulness I keep hearing so much about has made an appearance. I am totally wrecked by the time I get home from work, can barely trudge one foot in front of the other to make it home from work and crash onto my couch. I eat in tiny little meals all day long, whatever I can get down, but I am not enjoying food. I often eat a second breakfast before I leave for work in the morning, because the first one doesn't stick.

Is it too much to ask just to be able to enjoy a meal every once in a while? Or to have just enough energy to put the dishes in the dishwasher or clean a bathroom so that I am not living in a complete raging pigsty? Or to not get the urge to hurl nine times out of ten at the sight/smell of meat or dairy? Does this kid want to start out life with a protein and calcium deficiency? Let me tell you, in my family, a calcium deficiency is not a good thing, kid. Listen up for your first lecture. Osteoporosis or some kind of bone loss everywhere you look on my dad's side. Including my dad. Which, not really that common in men. So, calcium? And vitamin d? Pretty important.

I'm still down five pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, and hello, child, second trimester. Time to be gaining weight so you can grow healthy and strong! Please stop making me sick and tired and just let me enjoy food again? Pretty please with a cherry on top?

And for those of you who are about to tell me that you either never had morning sickness and wouldn't know what that's like?! Or that you were throwing up for NINE MONTHS and it never went away?! LALALALALALAI'MNOTLISTENINGLALALALALALALA

wordless wednesday: manuel antonio national park, costa rica

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