Archive for January, 2006

ooof!

Monday, January 30th, 2006

We just came home from Timberlodge Steakhouse. We got a gift certificate for Christmas, and Joe had suggested that we spend it on a birthday dinner for me (just a tiny bit late) so I agreed. I went in planning to order a nice, chocolatey dessert but was foiled by the stomach full of baby that was already in there before I threw in the salmon and the baked potato. I’m so glad I stopped eating with my plate half full, because at the moment I feel like I’m going to explode! I would so love to evict this baby right now.

Poor Joe had a long night – got home at 5-something this morning after his Exchange project at work totally bombed, and it’s still unresolved. Even after sleeping most of the day today, he’s still exhausted. Thankfully, it is his turn to read to Julie tonight and i have a few minutes of peace to surf the ‘net.

Back to the baby thing for a moment – I met with our doula for a while over coffee today, and it was great catching up with her. I’m so glad we’re going to have a support person there, and she’s a fun lady to hang out and chat with. That’s one more thing checked of the list of stuff I really should do before the baby comes. I was looking at Julie’s birth pictures and thinking about that moment when I first got to meet her…

It was SO sweet. Even under imperfect circumstances of laying in an OR being sewn up and having only one hand free with which to touch her…it was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. I can’t wait to share that moment with our new little girl.

Single Parenting

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

My, oh, my it’s been a long couple of days. I have a new respect for single parents, and a renewed respect and affection for my dear husband who does more for my life than I tend to notice on a daily basis.

Poor Joe has been slaving away all week and all weekend so far on installing a new server at his office. As tends to happen with these projects, things have not been going all that well, but apparently at least they made the right backups before they got started. Backups that they’ve had to revert back to – um – FOUR TIMES now. On his behalf, let me just say ARGH! And cursed may be Microsoft’s name.

The biggest and best thing that Joe does for me on a daily basis is to provide some hope of relief. On a normal day, no matter how hard it is or what is going on (for example, and hourlong tantrum over which color balance ball she gets to play on even after I’ve told her she can have either the blue one or the green one or oh, hell just take both of them) I know that come 6 or 6:30 Joe is coming home and will deflect at least some of the toddler energy from my poor exhausted self. He won’t outright take over and there is a good chance he’ll go hide in the bathroom for a little while, but at least he will be in the house. Just having my husband in the house makes life oh-so-much-better.

Just knowing all day long that he will be back home in time to keep us company during dinner and to give Julie an extra boost of loving attention before bedtime means more than I realize most days. I mean, I count on him to fill the gap on the days when my energy ran out around 10 a.m. and the rest of the day has been coasting on fumes doing my best not to explode at the little monkey when she digs her little elbow into my hugely pregnant tummy for the 20th time even after I’ve told her 19 other times that she’s hurting Mama.

So, tonight is the second night in a row that I’ve fed her dinner and put her to bed by myself. She saw him for a few minutes this morning while he got ready for work and made some coffee. It really wasn’t all that bad for my part. It was just another day with my lovely little girl, there were no major tantrums or explosions. We even had a little friend and his mom over to play for a couple hours and a good time was had by all.

I treated us to a dinner out at Pho 79, where we were greeted warmly by the owner who recognizes us as regulars and always says how he remembers seeing Joe and I when I was pregnant with Julie, how we brought her in with us when she was an infant in the bucket car seat, and now she is a big girl who doesn’t even fit in the high chair and eats her very own bowl of #8 pho (rare lean beef and noodles). It is so cute to watch my little girl slurp up her pho – she loves trying to use chop sticks and is pretty good at it for a two year old.

Joe called a little while ago and broke the news that they are starting their fourth attempt at this crazy install job. Who knows when he will be home? He sounded tired and maybe a little lonely, and probably a little guilty for leaving me alone with our monkey for two days straight now. I told him the truth – I am glad he is getting this over with before the new baby comes, and I hope this fourth install works out so he can come home and relax and not have to worry about it during our babymoon. I just wish there were something more I could do to help.

Update from the Sidekick

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

I am so freakin’ tired! We had a pretty good morning, mostly because I didn’t rush things and let Julie run around naked for almost two hours while I got showered, dressed, made the beds, and took some extra time to put away and reorganize all the toys and books upstairs.

That train table we got her for Christmas is somewhat of a disappointment since she likes to take all the pieces apart and scatter them around rather than drive the cars on the track as intended. Joe keeps promising to put it all back together and then not doing so, which is frustrating to both Julie and me. So I did it myself finally.

By the time I got around to dressing the kid, it was pretty much lunch time and I managed to avoid a tearful wrestling match by promising that we would read books and play some more once we got the clothes on.

We heated up and ate leftovers for lunch, and I made the debateable decision to finish off with a few clementines that we shared even though she had some yesterday and they are known to give her the raging diaper rash if we let her have too many too often. But I wanted some, and it would be plain cruel to eat them in front of her without sharing. Diaper rash be damned.

Here we arrive at the interesting part of the day so far, and the explanation for why I would be typing a blog entry with my thumbs on a teeny tiny cell phone keyboard. We absolutely needed to run to a grocery store across town from where we live. The curry powder I use in a certain recipe that Joe requested is only available here. Now, Joe couldn’t care less if I made that recipe tonight. But we like this recipe, and I need to buy this brand of spice eventually, and it’s not going to get any easier to run across town when there are two tots to cart around. Not to mention that my fried little brain doesn’t want anything to do with thinking up something else to feed the family tonight – especially since I’ll be off eating yummy diner food.

So, despite a horrid little tantrum over the fixing of hair and the putting on of socks shoes and coat, I managed to wrestle the little monkey into the car. Its a cross-town drive, and was absolutely no surprise to me that the little nap-fighter conked out on the way here. No way am I going to wake her up and stick her in a shopping cart ten minutes after she falls asleep. I want a bit of a break! Especially since I got very little sleep myself last night.

Which leaves me sitting here in the Kowalskis parking lot watching a sleeping toddler in the rear view mirror. I only wonder if I could get away with closing my own eyes for a few minutes. Did I mention how tired I am? Very tired. Exhausted. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as we were on the way out the door, and I look like an old hag. So if I were to lean my head back and snooze for a minute, would I wake up to some well-meaning shopper tapping on the window to make sure we’re okay, or in this modern, cold day would they look the other way and leave us alone?

Probably a moot point as my monkey has just stirred in the back seat. Time to wake her up and go shove her in the shopping cart.

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Today is my 33rd birthday. I’ve already had my chocolate cake. It was wonderful. I made my amazing chocolate cake as cupcakes Monday (recipe available here) and took them with me to ECFE class yesterday morning. They went over quite well…but there were plenty of extras for me to eat on Monday, all day yesterday and this morning. There is even one final, lonely cupcake sitting on the counter right now waiting for my next snack attack. I do love the chocolate cake, and it makes a fine birthday present to myself – especially since I’m reveling in my beached whale status at the moment and not yet actively trying to shed the extra pounds.

I’ve already gotten my present, and it is proving to be a rather fun one. The MP3 player Joe bought for me is good for carrying around quite a handful of CDs on, Julie seems to like the effects of being able to ask for the music she wants in the car, and I’m even trying to motivate myself to organize music to take with me to the hospital when Baby Sophie arrives. Hint: There will be no references to Rubber Duckie, Sesame Street Platinum or otherwise.

Tonight, I have plans for going out to dinner with the Knitting Night girls at the Edina Grill, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them and eating delicious high-end diner food, probably including the Steak Salad Murphy, some sweet potato fries, and very likely a share in their brownie sundae, which is killer and to be eaten only in the company of someone else who will enjoy it too. I think the knitting girls will oblige. We do normally get together at each others’ homes and at least sort of pretend to knit. I get the occasional question about “what do I do next here?”. Really, it’s just a chance for us to all catch up with each other, socialize, gossip, and of late discuss pregnancy, babies, toddlers and all things related to being relatively new moms.

It feels a little weird leaving my family behind on my birthday, but seeing as I’ve already had my cake, my present and my birthday dinner, I may as well go have a nice time with some friends and it will probably take the pressure off of Joe to make me happy on my birthday.

Wanna know what would really make me happy? Getting this baby out of my body! No, I have not yet reached my due date. But I am definitely within the window of safe natural delivery. It could happen today, tomorrow, next week, or even three weeks from now. The anticipation is killing me. Not to mention the last-weeks-of-pregnancy discomfort. The reflux has subsided somewhat – I think because the baby has dropped. I also seem to be able to breathe a little better. On the down side, I’ve got this constant cramping thing going on down there; I’m having braxton-hicks contractions day and night, which makes sleeping interesting, especially when I now have to get up at least once a night to pee…and shh don’t wake up the kid while you’re doing it or she’ll be climbing into bed next to me saying “I want to cuwwle” in her cute little toddler voice. Who could refuse that at 2 in the morning when you’re half asleep and there are an unknown few number of nights before a new baby will be taking over the bed? So what if I’m waking up every morning with an aching body and eyes glued together begging for another couple hours’ worth of sleep?

It’s funny, I don’t really want to share a birthday with our baby. I want her to have her very own special day that is all her own, and I want to do my best to always make it a truly special day for her as long as I live. Joe is not ready for this baby to come out yet. He is excited to meet her, but he is also extremely busy at work and trying to wrap up a couple of projects before he goes on baby-vacation for a week or so. Somehow, I doubt he would really, truly be ready for this baby even if I managed to hold her in for another month. But he will be ready for her when he holds her in his arms for the first time just as he was with Julie.

Speaking of which – that is what I’m really looking forward to. Holding this new little person in my arms, nursing her, staring at her, loving her the way a person never realized they could love someone till they hold their first baby in their arms. To kiss her and hold her tiny hand, to smooth her little hair down, to wipe her tiny little butt, to protect her and keep her safe and warm. I can’t wait to dress her in tiny clothes made with love, to take pictures of her and show her off to the world.

I have to think and talk about this in order for the little aches and pains of pregnancy to seem at all worth it right now. I have to boost up my excitement about this baby as a person so that I will have it as my strength to hold onto while I experience labor and delivery for the first time in my life. I am a little nervous about that these days…not so much about my body and soul being able to do it. I am nervous about dealing with the hospital, the nurses and the midwives. At my last appointment, the midwife dumped the news on me that they will be wanting to break my waters and use internal fetal monitors on me pretty much as soon as I arrive at the hospital. So NOT COOL! Once they do that, the pain of contractions supposedly increases markedly, and my mobility will be extremely limited to in the bed and right by the bed. As someone who is dedicated to a non-medicated birth, this is something that makes me less than happy.

Joe and I have been discussing and practicing delay tactics. First, we will not head to the hospital till I’m really seriously in deep heavy labor. Second, we will ask to wait another hour or so if the external monitors show nothing wrong. Finally, we will tell them that we need a few minutes to talk things over and/or pray about any interventions they are insisting on before we let them do anything. This will allow us to discuss things with our doula, who is not allowed to make a peep when the hospital staff are in the room. One of the doulas suggested the prayer thing the other day. She said hospital staff usually run the moment you mention anything involving religion. So what if our religion happens to be “the church of keep your prying interventions the hell out of my body”?

I’m starting to wonder why I didn’t just plan a home birth. It’s too late now, and really there is a great reason why I’m giving birth in a hospital. I want the NICU and the OR right there just in case there is a problem. I do have a slightly increased risk of uterine rupture since I had a c-section the first time around. It’s a very slight increased risk and somewhat debatable at least according to our doula, but it’s the reason why they want the internal monitor. One thing I don’t think they’re taking into account is that as long as I’m unmedicated, I think I’ll know it if my uterus starts ripping itself to shreds. I think it is the moms who are laying there numb from the waist down with an epidural who need to be told that something is wrong. But that’s just me.

In the end, what really matters is that we have that healthy baby. Second priority is to avoid a c-section so that I can have a faster recovery and get back to caring for my toddler quickly. Having a nice touchy-feely birth experience is a far third priority, and as set in my thoughts as I sound in the last paragraph, I am also busy preparing myself to do what it takes, be it internal monitors, smiling sweetly at meddling health care professionals, or even a c-section to achieve priority number one.

Runaway Reading List

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

I am sitting here staring at two stacks of books and the word “why” keeps coming to mind. Why did I bring all these books into my home right now of all times? Why did I think I had enough time or energy or interest to get through these books and glean something useful from them NOW? Hm. Good question.
It’s actually one stack of books, divisible into categories in two different ways. One is the source – library or Amazon; and the other is the subject – food alleries or toddler entertainment. I’m not even considering, for purposes of this post, the fun reading material like New Yorker magazines or the Sunday paper; and there is one other book that’s somewhere near the top of my current reading that is worth mentioning, and will lead me into some of the answer to the “Why” questions.

Sitting on the kitchen table is a copy of Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon. Joe and I both read it when I was pregnant with Julie, found it immensely helpful and motivating. If you’ve ever wondered why a woman would choose to give birth without pain medication, this book will explain it all and then help you understand how to do it. It’s a great book, and when Joe asked me a couple weeks ago if I could find him a copy I checked the library website (they didn’t have it) and then clicked on over to Amazon to buy a copy. It’s a good book to have around anyway – in case a friend is interested in borrowing it – but when Joe shows any interest in supporting me better in the childbirth process rather than simply whimpering when I tell him how many more weeks till my estimated due date I choose to support that interest full throttle. Now it’s sitting on my kitchen table, and I’ve been reading a few pages here and there while Julie and I eat a meal.

Well, you go to Amazon to buy one thing, and you can’t get away with just that one simple book. First, there’s the super-saver shipping. It makes no sense to buy one book for $12.92 and then pay something like $6 in shipping charges when you can just go pick out another book for about the same price, arrive at your $25 minimum, and get shipping for free. Those sneaky Amazon marketers know what they are doing! So I started poking around.

I picked out a book or two off my wish list. I remembered a recent conversation about toddler-activity books on an e-mail list to which I belong. Of course, I couldn’t just go ahead and BUY those books outright. First, I checked the library’s online card catalog to make sure I couldn’t borrow them for free. For some the answer was yes, others no. The other thing that tends to happen when I go shopping at Amazon is that those suggestions they make after you choose an item are all-too-tempting. Clever marketers again. So you look at a few more books, check the library, go back and decide to buy another, maybe stick a couple more on your wish list – it’s a vicious cycle really.

Before I knew it, I had ordered an additional four books from Amazon and placed holds on three more books and a CD from the library on top of the two books and three CDs I had already checked out. Yowza! Well, I’ve already returned three of the CDs. They were more children’s music that I can live without owning. We listened to the other CD today. It was pretty good – good enough for me to recommend it. Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Fishes Little & Big: Animal Folk Songs by Pete Seeger. So those are out of the way.

On to the toddler activity books. The only one I’ve actually looked at so far was “The Wiggle and Giggle Busy Book” by Trish Kuffner. It would be great for someone planning a toddler party or who runs a daycare, but most of the activities in it require several kids or require several props that you either have to buy or spend significant non-kid time to prepare. Not quite what I was looking for, and it’s going back to the library. The great joy of borrowing books and music from the library is finding one you don’t like. So easy to return them with no regret for having spent money on something you’ll never use but will have to either store on your precious shelf-space or find someone else who wants them.

The other two books are “Games to Play with Toddlers” by Jackie Silberg and “Montessori Play and Learn” by Lesley Britton. The former is a library book due in a couple more weeks and the latter is mine. I’ll go ahead and at least skim the former soon-ish and if it’s good, perhaps it will go on my Amazon wishlist. Anything that I own at this point can wait till after the baby is born and the wee-hour nursing sessions that I remember from Julie’s early days. I managed to read several very long novels while nursing Julie, and although I will be a bit more distracted and a bit more experienced with nursing while asleep, I bet I’ll have some time to peruse a book or two.

On to the allergies! Any time I talk about allergy cookbooks, I have to start by mentioning The Food Allergy Survival Guide, which is far and above the best one I have found so far. The big problem I’ve run into is that we have multiple allergies to deal with, and that it’s pretty easy to find a book that avoids *one* of the problem foods like dairy, wheat or eggs – but that they tend to rely heavily on substitutes involving soy or they throw a lot of cheese in to cover up for whatever else is missing, or they use nuts and seeds in everything, or that the recipes just sound disgusting. I’ve tried several of the recipes from the FASG and they’ve all turned out really well. Every recipe is truly free of the eight major allergens (which thankfully Julie’s pretty much fall under). The one tiny problem with this book is that the recipes are all vegan, and we are a decidedly non-vegan family. But the baked goods RAWK!

I took a few minutes this morning to skim through one of the library cookbooks. I am SO glad I didn’t buy this book. It’s called the “Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook”, and promises “More than 150 recipes that are Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free and Low in Sugar”. Well, there are some recipes that fit each of the single ingredient-free promises in the book but not very many that were free of all those things. There was dairy over half the recipes, the author substituted spelt for wheat in a lot of cases (spelt is just a genetic variant of wheat!), and there was NOTHING in this book that I would want to cook for Julie. NOTHING! Can you feel the hate coming off the screen? I was pretty blown away with the stinkitude of this book.

I am looking forward to at least skimming through “Food Allergies and Food Intolerances” by Jonathan Brostoff – It’s not really a recipe book, but more of a guide to what they are, how to identify them, and strategies to identify and treat them. If it’s any good and my fried little brain can handle it, I may end up having to buy this one, or at least renew it at the library to get through it. Also from the library is “Cooking Free” by Carol Fenster, and it claims that its recipes are for people with multiple allergies.

Finally – the two cookbooks that I bought and am almost afraid to crack open out of fear that they will compare with the dreck I mentioned above – “The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook” by Marjorie Hurt Jones – she claims to include Over 350 natural food recipes free of all common food allergens, and god bless her if she is telling the truth. “The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread” by Bette Hagman – and I will be satisfied with my $12.24 investment if this book contains ONE recipe for a decent daily table bread that Julie can eat. Again, I’m afraid to look. I have all bits crossed that she hasn’t used dairy products and/or eggs in all her recipes. I suppose I’ll have to look one of these days.

My biggest motivation in my recent cookbook shopping-spree is to find bread to make for her. The rice bread we buy in the freezer section at the co-op is expensive, and since it’s frozen, the slices tend to stick together making it almost impossible to pry them apart without breaking them. My darling MIL suggested leaving the precious loaf out on the counter to thaw so that they would come apart more easily, but the whole reason the bread is frozen is so that it won’t go stale. Once thawed, it would be useless if not eaten within a day or at most two. Julie is the only person in the house who eats this very-expensive stuff, and I’m sure as hell not going to feed her an entire loaf of it in two days!

I find it extremely amusing that I’ve decided to go on this recipe search – and don’t get me wrong, I’m also always in the market for main-dish recipes that the whole family can and will eat. But that I’ve gone looking for recipes NOW. Now that my freezers are finally crammed full of meals for us to eat after the new baby is born because I know I won’t have my act together enough to plan and prepare fresh meals every night for the first little while. And – hahaha – isn’t it funny and cute that I think I’m going to find time and energy to try making something NEW and different – what a hoot!

Well, that’s the long and long and longer of my story. I’d much rather be reading blogs and discussion groups on the Internet, I’d much rather be staring at a Sudoku puzzle or catching up on those New Yorkers which I love to read but do come every single week whether you’ve finished the last one or not.

Lazy

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Tonight’s dinner was fajitas. They were tasty-yummy, even despite the fact that we use corn tortillas instead of flour ones because of Julie’s wheat allergy. Joe is putting Julie to bed as I type, and I really should be in the kitchen putting away leftovers and cleaning up, but I am feeling Lazy – with a capital L. So instead, I’ve just checked all my favorite websites and blogs for the tenth time today and am now writing this.

I have been feeling Lazy all week, really. I just don’t want to move my giant body. I want to sit still and mindlessly read the Internet, or work on a sudoku puzzle (evil addictive things), or stare at the TV. I don’t even really feel like knitting . I want to be a good mom. I want to enjoy these last few days and weeks with Julie as a single child. I even checked out from the library a couple of books about things to do with toddlers. But I haven’t read them yet because I’m feeling Lazy.

Today we were going to go back to the library and pick up some books and music I have on hold (I love online library catalogs!) But at 11:00, when I finally had us both full of breakfast, everything cleaned up, taken a shower and both of us dressed, Julie was more interested in staying home and playing with the new box of crayons we bought yesterday than going out anywhere – even the library, which she loves. She gets a new box of crayons every couple of months, after the nice pointy ends have rubbed off the big, fat toddler crayons, after half of them have broken and the other half have been peeled of their paper in a fit of toddler boredom/obsession.

So I said “Okay – this is a fight I’m not going to pick” and wandered off to check my e-mail again. Bad mama. To be fair, I did try sitting with her and coloring for a while, but she wants to sit on my lap and color, something that is extremely uncomfortable for me at the moment. Worse, she wants to tell me which color to use and share the same coloring book…which would normally be endearing except that I can’t reach around my belly and her little body to even see what I’m supposed to be coloring. So I fake it for a few seconds, then stop and sit there and talk to her about the picture till she notices that I’m not participating in the actuall laying on of crayon. This lasts for about 15 minutes, and then I squirm away and go check e-mail.

Later in the day, after lunch and more play and nap time, she peeled my eyes open and said “Go library”. I looked at the clock and it was 4 already and I had to tell her no. Maybe tomorrow. If you’re still interested after I drag you along with me to my midwife appointment.

On the good news front, Joe told me that his mother called and offered to cook Bibimbahp – and I’m sure that’s not spelled correctly, but it’s an awesome korean dish that she knows I love – for us Sunday night in honor of my upcoming birthday. YUM! And may the unknown powers of the universe bless her for remembering my birthday and offering to celebrate it in a way that I will enjoy, even if it doesn’t involve chocolate cake. We used to go out to eat for all the birthdays, but a couple of years ago I told her that I would take her home cooking over a restaurant meal any time – and she not only remembered but is willing to cook her awesome food for me! That’s the love, people.

On that happy note, I’m off to clean the kitchen. After one more run through my favorite websites.

Belly!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Just a quick little picture-post here. I keep mentioning my beached-whale status and all my friends and kind acquaintances keep telling me I look fine yadda yadda. Well, I thought I’d post a picture from my perspective so you can get an idea of what I’ve been seeing lately.

That’s my belly, taken two days ago. Notice the perspective of how HUGE the belly is compared to the long skinny feet poking out down on the floor. And you can only see my toes because I’m leaning over to show you how nicely they are painted. I really need to get myself in for a pedicure in the next few weeks because I don’t think I can manage to contort myself that way again before the baby is born. As it is, I’m going to be very proud of myself if I manage to shave my legs once more in our teeny tiny shower. Also notice, I’m standing in the hallway between our upstairs bathroom and bedroom. You can see the wall on the right and the bathroom door on the left. I FILL UP the space.

A Day of Running

Friday, January 13th, 2006

No, not actual running, you fools. I’m nine months pregnant. No way in hell you’re gonna catch me running! Today was a day of running errands.

First, I have to confess to a nice juicy white lie. If you’re reading this and you’re part of the Kang clan, please suffer me the indisgretion and help me keep my little secret that I’m about to share with you. I’m pretty sure the in-laws don’t read this blog, and Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this, sorry but learning the evil truth ain’t gonna kill you either. Here’s the awful truth.

Last week at my midwife appointment, everything was A-OK healthy again – my blood pressure is low, my pee is clean, the baby is head-down with a good heart beat, and never mind what the scale said, the midwives don’t seem all that concerned that I’ve eaten my way into beached-whale status. The nice one I’ve been seeing most often didn’t even cluck when I confessed to eating several handfuls of M&Ms the night before, despite the fact that they give me a headache. So, even though I’m to the point where I should be visiting them every week, I offered to skip a week, thinking why hassle with dragging the in-laws down from their sub-subburb, driving down to the Hub(which is a gawd-awful strip mall in South Minneapolis), sitting in a waiting room full of weirdos – uh, interesting people – peeing in a cup and all the other fun prenatal checkup stuff that you do during your 10-minute visit just to be told that everything is fine again? Why not save the insurance company a few bucks and maybe keep our premiums from going up quite so much again next year? And the midwife said fine. She’s pretty cool. She made sure I had all the right phone numbers to call in case anything interesting happened in the intervening two weeks and sent me on my way.

And here’s the really interesting part. On the way home, I realized that this would mean Julie would not see her grandparents for two more weeks at least, and in fact it would have been three since the next appointment happens to fall on a day of the week in which MIL works, so I’ll be dragging Julie along to the appointment with me. The Joy. I decided to LIE to them and make up a fake appointment during which I would actually go have a nice cup of coffee and do some knitting, or perhaps run some errands. So that Julie could spend some quality time with her grandparents, who she loves and needs to strengthen her attachment to so that she won’t freak out when I leave them with her while I’m in the hospital squeezing out a new sibling for her. I called Joe to run it by him, and he disapproved of the plan (I was going to LIE to his PARENTs after all) but I did it anyway. Long story long.

So today was the day. I left my happy kid with her happy if slightly groggy grandparents. I drove to the DMV and renewed my drivers’ license. Oh, thank GOD I didn’t have to do that with Julie in tow. I mean, I’m guaranteed to get a crappy picture, but at least I got to try to smile the right way for the picture without worrying where Julie was running off to. I went and had my nice cup of coffee and a pastry at Panera. I headed over to the library, planning to finally sign up for a card and check out some books on fun things to do with toddlers. They don’t open till noon, though, so I sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes and knitted on a sock while listening to NPR. The joy – 20 minutes of news and knitting without pissing of the child who wants to listen to Rubber Duckie for the third time in a row instead. Then, I realized it would be a great opportunity to get my car washed because Julie is afraid of the car wash and it was an incredibly warm, beautiful day. Did that, and then headed home.

Julie was happy to see me, and MIL had gotten her dressed. Yay! One less wrestling session with my little monkey while I feel like I’ve swallowed a giant egg. MIL and I had a nice chat and tour around the kitchen and Julie’s room, and she actually seemed interested and attentive when I showed her all the food and snacks and stuff for Julie to eat when the big day comes and they are in charge for probably at least 24 hours. This has been a major source of anxiety for me over the last few months – would they accidentally poison my kid with food she wasn’t supposed to eat out of ignorance stemming from inattention to my preparation and guidelines? Apparently, the answer is a lot closer to probably not than I feared.

As it was almost noon, I whisked Julie out the door as soon as they left to meet up with our meat pick-up. We order meat once a month from local farmers who make several delivery stops one day a month for people to come pick it up. Minnetonka is the closest one for us, but there is only a half hour window to get there from 12 to 12:30. We got there at 12:31 and I didn’t see their pickup with trailer, so I assumed we were too late and planned to catch up with them in Minneapolis at 4. This sparked an afternoon-long conversation with Julie about how we “missed the farmers” and how she was “going to walk and find the farmers”.

Instead of going straight home, we stopped at the library and got our new cards, picked out the books I was hoping to find, as well as some children’s music CDs (as if we don’t have enough already) before we headed home for lunch. Julie and I tend to be late lunchers. I managed to sneak in a 1/2 hour nap – just for me since Julie refuses to sleep during the day and I refuse to fight with her about it. As long as she agrees to play quietly upstairs and let me rest, I figure we’ll make it work out once the baby is born too. We’re pretty well baby-proofed up there, and Julie is pretty great about playing independently sometimes for up to an hour . Remember, I’m 9 months pregnant and haven’t been sleeping so well. I NEEDED that half -hour nap!

Time to go look for the farmers again. I plugged in my new MP3 player yet again and we headed east. Julie was out within 10 minutes and slept for the hour-long car-ride and pickup process. Poor thing opened her eyes when we pulled into the garage and said “We’re home again. Go find farmers?” I had to break it to her that we had already found the farmers and gotten the meat, and that she had slept right through it. She asked to “eat something else”, which meant time for a snack and I obliged.

Here is a part of my day of which I am particularly proud. Despite Sesame Street being overrun on PBS by the Alito hearings this evening, I still managed to cook up some pepper-steak and rice for dinner. And everyone ate it without complaint. We had a visit from some people picking up a desk that I had freecycled, Julie had a bath and Joe put her down, and now the evening is mine to clean up the kitchen and do who-knows-what-other-chore-or-entertainment.

Whew! Have I bored you to tears yet? Let me share one more thing.

Footnote on the interesting people in the waiting room: The midwife practice of which I am a patient has a great track record for natural births. They are the best in the Twin Cities, at least as far as I’ve been able to find, especially if you want to stick with a hospital birth. They have an 85% success rate for VBACs, 90% if the current baby is not breech. Considering that the national c-section rate is 27% overall – for anybody having a baby at all – that is downright amazing. And they have been nice to me. They have an extra five minutes to talk to me if I have questions, they don’t talk down to me, they treat me like a human and not like some kind of gestating farm animal. The only thing is that they deliver at the county hospital, and they practice at a clinic that is largely patronized by people on state assistance. So, it’s always an interesting crowd when you go in there and people with all kinds of disabilities, mental and otherwise, are sitting there often moaning or shouting at their caregivers who are waiting with them. There are also many poor or working-class hispanic families and other people of color, and then me – the middle-class housewife sitting there knitting or playing with her Sidekick till it’s time to pee in a cup.

Last time I was there, there was a woman in a wheel chair with a cast on her foot yelling loudly at her caregiver when I came out of my appointment and stood in line to make my follow-up appointment. I found her a little scary. In front of me in line was a woman with a little girl about Julie’s age, also trying to schedule follow-up appointments. She had to set the little girl down to pull something out of her purse, and I thought the little girl was going to cry. So I squatted down and chatted with her, trying to block her view of the scary woman and keep her distracted long enough for the mama to get her stuff done and get out of there. It worked.

I don’t mind going there at all – I find it interesting in a way, and I think it is good for me to be exposed to all kinds of people, and try to work on my stupid phobia of the disabled while I’m at it. I just hope nobody is screaming in the waiting room next week when I have my own two-year-old in tow.

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

No, it is not my birthday yet. But I got my birthday gift from Joe last night. A few days ago, he approached me with a choice…either he would get me the Canon printer I’ve been drooling over, or an MP3 player.

I love my husband, and he has grown so much as a gift-giver since I’ve known him. It is obvious that he tries pretty darn hard to think up good gifts for me, and I can’t say that I am all that much better than him at finding the right thing always. I do have to brag that he claimed this last birthday of his was The Best Birthday Ever and I’d like to take credit for most of what made him happy. Anyway, part of the fun of a birthday present to me is the surpise of getting it on your birthday. To Joe, I know, the sooner you can get your hands on a new toy and start PLAYING WITH IT, the better. Plus, I think, once he’s made up his mind and picked out a present, he wants the instant gratification of seeing the person happy about getting it. As hard as it is, I really enjoy the anticipation of waiting for the birthday, and celebrating it as an EVENT.

I admittedly have birthday issues. Too many bad birthdays as a child when there were weird fights or blowups, when I got crappy it’s-the-month-after-Christmas-and-the-bills-are-due gifts instead of the comparatively cool stuff that my October-born sister got, and WAY too many birthday cakes that were not right – when all I wanted was a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and some vanilla ice cream, I usually ended up with German Chocolate, some flavour my sister liked, or on one spectacularly weird occasion, a liquor-flavored thing from an expensive bakery. All cakes I’m sure I’d appreciate today as an adult, but not back when I was a kid, and not even today for my birthday.

But back to the story at hand. While the printer is very attractive – I love Canon ink jet printers for photos, and am on my second one at the moment. The newer version has a much higher resolution and some additional features like an extra tray so you can have photo paper and regular paper loaded at all times as well as auto-duplex ability. But when I’m honest with myself, I’m pretty happy with the one I have already, and I do most of my photo printing via shutterfly, which is less expensive in the long run and much more convenient when you’ve put off printing photos till you’ve accumulated a need for 300 prints in one sitting. (Like after a year of not printing out the photos and then deciding to make albums for the grandparents, an uncle, and oh-by-the-way catch up the scrapbook for the kid before the new kid is born.)

The MP3 player seemed more useful since I have an ancient stereo in my car with a tape deck and no CD player. I’ve transferred most of our children’s music CDs to tape, but most of them are one CD to a side of a tape, and when Julie wants to listen to Sesame Street Platinum again without having to hear Wee Sing first, it’s not a pretty sight. So this is definitely something I’ll use on an almost-daily basis. Even though one could argue that it’s not really for *me* since I’m not the one who wants to listen to Sesame Street Platinum – as much as I’d like to be, I’m just not the audiophile that Joe is. I wish I were more able to get into music, but for the most part my preference is NPR in the car, and I do enjoy some older music as well as some of the stuff that Joe exposes me to. I just don’t think about it very much unless it’s put in front of me, and even then, I have a hard time “getting” some of the newer stuff. Embarassing, I know.

But Joe brought home my new toy last night and cracked it open for me, set it up on the computer, even ripped the un-ripped kid’s music CDs to MP3 and transferred it over to my new little toy. He also bought me a converter thingie that looks like a cassette tape that one plugs into the thing and lets you play it in the car. We tried it out today on our brief trip to the Rec Center to play with the other kiddies. It’s a pretty cool little toy – one that lets me istantly gratify the kid when she wants to listen to Rubber Duckie for the third time in a row.

Honey, if you’re reading this, thanks for the new toy. It’s wonderful. And sorry, but I have to admit I’m a little disappointed that I won’t have much birthday celebration to look forward to. Maybe we’ll all go out to dinner using the Timberlodge Steakhouse gift certificate we got for Xmas. Nice not to have to cook, but steak is not my favorite meal – it’s yours. I’ll get my damned chocolate cake, but that’s because I signed up to bring ECFE treats the day before my birthday and I’m going to make my own awesome chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing.

This bitterness I’m feeling in my semi-shrivelled little heart is not because my husband gave me a lovely birthday gift a few weeks early. It’s leftover shit from a crappy, bitter childhood (one that was much crappier and bitter than getting the wrong present or kind of cake, but that I’m not going to discuss in such a public venue).

The upside is that I have had another wonderful year of my adult life to celebrate. I got to be a stay-at-home mom to a wonderful little girl who loves me and asks me to “kiss it” when she bites her lip or tongue. I got my way on the new house we bought, including designing my own newly-renovated kitchen. We are all healthy, we have enough money to get by, plus enough for expensive little birthday toys and we went on a frivolously expensive vacation since my last birthday. I have a huge birthday gift coming up in another month – the gift of a new baby to love and hold and appreciate no matter how hard it will be, and the knowledge that it will all be worth it. And I have a husband who loves me, whom I trust implicitly, who puts up with all my little quirks and tells me I’m beautiful and sexy even when I’m pregnant like a beached whale.

If only I can remember and hold on to all of these wonderful truths and many more that make my life rich beyond belief…If only I can continue letting go of all the “gifts” my family of origin gave to me…I think I can. It will be a Happy Birthday.

What’s for dinner?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

For lack of anything better to talk about, I am going to tell you about the fabulously simple dinner we had tonight. It’s the fabulously simple dinner we’ve been having about once a week lately. Fabulous because everyone eats it happily. Faboulous because it’s guilt-free and nutritious. Fabulous because I can make it in about 20 minutes, so if naptime runs into Sesame Street/cooking time, I can pull this out of my hat instead of leftovers from the freezer.

Are you ready to hear about my fabulously simple meal?

A spinach salad with chopped red peppers, cucumbers and carrots. Topped with ranch salad dressing for me and Joe, some poppyseed stuff that I found that’s safe for Julie but *looks* remarkably similar so she doesn’t get it that we’re having something different.

Chicken breasts, pounded flat so that they cook evenly and I don’t accidentally kill one of my family members with salmonella poisoning (as Joe accused me of doing the one time I didn’t pound them out and he got a raw spot in his. ooops!), then sprinkled either with Montreal Steak seasoning or Emeril’s Southwest Essence. mmm…salty goodness. I went with Emeril tonight. Then, grilled on the indoor grill for 8 minutes on each side, or until there is no more pink. Juicy-tender! I’ve also taken to slicing or chopping these up before plating them just to double-check the doneness. I really would like to live down the salmonella-poisoning-attempt incident in this lifetime.

If I’m feeling really enthusiastic, like tonight apparently, I scrub some potatoes, poke some holes in ‘em, throw them in the microwave for 5 minutes while the oven heats up to 400 and then cook them in the oven till the meat is done. That way you get the baked-potato-not-from-the-microwave texture without the hourlong wait for baked potatoes. I even had some sour cream in the fridge for mine. Joe doesn’t like sour cream on his, and Julie can’t have it, but she’s happy eating hers plain anyway. And asked for more – get this – “tomato” several times. She doesn’t like raw tomatoes, she was asking for potato. So Cute! Kind of like the way she says “picpic” instead of “picknic”.

And that, dear readers, is my fabulously simple dinner. I think I can eat it once a week for the forseeable future. If I had readers who actually posted comments, I would ask you to post your fabulously simple dinner menu. But I’ve resigned myself to having readers who only comment casually about posts they read days/weeks/months later when they see me in person or talk to me on the phone.