no fair!

It's a cruel twist of fate that January 1st, the day that many Americans choose to mark a new beginning in their lives, is one that's pretty much given to the slovenly, bloated recovery from last night's excesses. Kind of setting us up to fail there, eh holiday system?!

Also, as a New-Year's-Day side note: mimosas taste even better without the champagne in them!

an open letter to skiers

I would like to offer our apologies to the cross-country skiers of eastern Massachusetts: today we made a special effort and managed to walk on top of ski tracks in three separate locations. I do feel badly about this, of course, but even with all our footprints the snow still looks dry and wonderfully slippery to a well-waxed ski, so I think folks should be alright. It's not, in any case, like the tracks had much holding power in the powdery snow, but there's still the principle of the thing. We did our best to avoid the better-looking tracks, but in some places the paths were very narrow and damage was unavoidable.

We very much enjoyed the walking, anyways.

4 months 2 weeks

I had hoped to post a holiday picture of my now looming belly, but unfortunately my camera broke this weekend, so you will all have to merely imagine 15 pounds of newly minted fat, goo, and baby poking straight out from my mid-section. As mentioned in the title, I'm not quite half-way with this pregnancy thing, but I've already gained half the weight I'm supposed to! Yeah for overachieving! Actually, mostly yeah for Christmas cookies.

I spoke yesterday with a friend who just gave birth two weeks ago, and she was all, "Are you showing yet? I didn't show until 8 months, and then I found my belly really annoying, like I couldn't tie my shoes anymore." And I was like, um, I have to sit down to tie my shoes and I'm already coming up with contingency plans to avoid bending over. I'm only five-feet tall. I'm showing like I'm smuggling a bowling ball.

All this description is not to complain, however, only to remind the universe that short people show sooner, no I'm not having twins, and if I drop my napkin please someone bend over and get it for me before I pull out my back thinking I'm some spry athlete. Still, it's all in good fun, and a year of pregnancy is shorter than many other hellish things you could live through, like three years of grad-school, or many prison sentences. Well, any prison sentences outside of LA.

standard witch-prevention procedure

Today being the twelfth day of Christmas as I count it, we took down the tree just before bed this evening. Well, it was just before bed for Leah; I've stayed up long enough to write this post here. Thrilling, isn't it! In any case, I always thought that the reason for not keeping the tree up past the end of Christmas proper was to ensure that, at least as you began moving it out of the house, more needles were on the tree than on the floor. This year, though, I heard an alternative justification: that if you leave your tree up too long—past the beginning of Epiphany, that is—witches will take up roost. We wouldn't want that! Now, I can't find any mention of this belief anywhere on the internet at all, so it may just be one family's superstition (or joke); still, I see no reason to take chances! So down the tree has come, though we will surely miss its cheery light.

And I have to say, in any tree discussion, that this year's model was the best one we've ever had. Not only was it a nearly perfect cone shape (except where we had to trim the top to fit it in the house), it stayed green and healthy the whole season. Too bad all our cameras are broken, so there are no pictures of this truly wonderful tree.


All that I need to know about motherhood I learned from the dog

Though I may be a bit apprehensive about the upcoming birthing process, I'm mostly pretty excited about becoming a mom to a real live human. You see, I've already been a mom for several years now - to a feisty puppy Rascal. And so, I feel entirely prepared for the role of parenthood on that basis. Don't get smug; I know there's some more intense schedule-shifting involved with the human variety of child, but motherhood is motherhood whether it comes to babies or puppies. To prove my point, here are a few lessons I've learned from Rascal about being a mom:

Lesson 1: Mommy love is very intense.
Because a mommy is in charge of the well-being of her babies (puppy and human), the love she has for them is like adult love but more crazy. This gives puppies and babies the ability to hurt your feelings very deeply, unlike husbands with whom you can share rational language. They can also fix your feelings when they're broken. The love you have for them is just that powerful, even if they're big jerks.

Lesson 2: Loving people is scary.
The people you love might die some day. This is a bummer. This can make mommies crazy sometimes. But there's nothing to do about it either, and when you try to do something about it, you make EVERYONE ELSE around you crazy. So suck it up.

Lesson 3: Life as a mommy is boring and awesome.
The puppy gets three walks a day, two meals, sometimes a playing outside, and lots of cuddles in the evening. Every day you wake up is a day to be filled with walks and cuddles. This is not the stuff of novels. But it's a really nice life. Similarly, life with a baby will be mundane. It will need feedings and poopings and mostly just that on repeat for a while. Somehow, like three walks in the same woods, this will be somewhat fun.

So in conclusion, to all those people who feel the need to warm me about sagging breasts and persistent fatness and sleep deprivation (and by the way, to I go around telling them that since they're old they're likely to only get less attractive over time?) To all these bitches I say, Bring it on. If I hadn't wanted the entire kit-and-caboodle of motherhood, I wouldn't have gotten off the pill and had all that sex when my cervical fluid was fertile. I know what motherhood is all about, and I like it just fine.


TVMA (Doorbell)

You know how TV shows have to have a warning for sex, language, or violence? I wish they would also show a warning if there's going to be a doorbell sound at any point in the show. Because Rascal heard that noise seven minutes ago and he's STILL BARKING...

Prayers answered in 2008

So, I was listening to an online sermon from a church we don't go to because we go to a more boring church where I have to teach sunday school.... anyway, this preacher was suggesting that we take a moment to think back to prayers that God answered for us in 2008, as a helpful way of encouraging us that some of this prayer stuff is actually working. I can think of a couple big and a couple little prayers that God answered for us recently, so I've taken a brief cross-section and arranged them in order of difficulty:

Difficulty level: easy
God cured my psoriasis.
About a month ago, I was brushing my hair in front of the mirror and getting annoying with my flakey scalp, which I recently learn was a result of psoriasis, which is like dandruff but incurable. So I was thinking about this annoying but not particularly dramatic condition, and I thought: "Hey, this sounds like something easy that God could solve. God, thank you for curing my psoriasis. I trust you to free me of this condition, in the name of Jesus Christ." The next day and since then, my head hasn't been itchy. It's not a big deal, but it's nice to know that God doesn't only care about you when you have cancer.

Difficulty level: medium
God got us pregnant as soon as we asked
Actually, I'm not sure of the difficulty level on this one since I have no past experience in the matter, but I do know that after several prep months of praying for the right baby at the right time (and getting off the pill and all that) we were immediately blessed with a very strong and healthy pregnancy the first month we tried.

Difficulty level: hard
God got Dan a job
The waiting for this prayer to be answered was pretty hard, although God did help us along the way with assurance that all would turn out okay. In the end, Dan snagged a job at the moment he needed (also the moment we needed health insurance) and it's been a positive experience for him, not only because it's a good school system but because everyone he works with is at different stages of pregnancy, so it puts a nice perspective on our own situation.

So that's a sampling of prayers answered in 2008. Also, lots of times I asked God to bring back an errant Rascal and He obliged, and similarly I have asked God to help me through a lot of things related to the pregnancy, from getting through a walk in the woods to helping me poop. So mostly God has been very faithful to us in 2008. Good prep for 2009... where I'm envisioning some whoppers coming.


Pad Thai is magic food

Whenever I eat Pad Thai, I am amazed by its ability to provide a seemingly unending amount of food. At restaurants it comes out to the table heaped high on the plate, thanks I suppose to the stickiness of the rice noodles and whatever other goopy things they put in there; I eat until I'm full and still feel like I haven't made a dent. For take-out the effect is even more dramatic, as one serving easily fills bowls for both of us. And it turns out that the home-made stuff has the same effect, whatever the number of servings predicted by the recipe may say. Perhaps the UN World Food Program ought to look into harnessing the phenomenon in some way?

making navigation fun like it would be on the computer

I know it wasn't quite in accordance with our proclaimed home-made Christmas, but I had to get Leah a little in-car GPS navigation machine. Had to! It's just what she needs to be able to get places she hasn't been before, and now that we've managed to get it set up it's working great. We brought it along on our trip to IKEA this afternoon, even though I was driving, and I really appreciated having it along; I don't need it to get where I'm going, of course, having a fantastic innate sense of direction and things like that, but was it ever fun to watch the map scroll by in real time! In fact, it reminded me of nothing so much as an old computer game I had some years ago, called, I believe, F/A-18 Hornet. The graphics are similar in quality, and it's just as much fun watching the roads drift by on the GPS as it was zipping over the desert of Iraq in my virtual fighter jet. The system is so good that from time to time I stopped watching the road and just followed the turns in the road as depicted in that little four-inch screen. Fantastic!

prayer for recess

It doesn't seem like the elementary school children are going to get to play in the snow at all during school hours. The policy, as I understand it, is that if even the wind-chill is below 20°F we all have to stay indoors; naturally, as that wind-chill rating is reached any time the air temperature is 26° or below and there is any air moving, we have a great many indoor recesses during the winter months. As what I think about the popular reaction to what's described as "cold weather" is well known around here, I won't reiterate it further.

In any case, even if we did manage to get outside the poor wee bairns wouldn't have an easy time having any actual fun. No picking up snow, no standing on snow piles, no going on the ice (or any vaguely ice-like patches of slippery snow), no sliding down the hill any other way than sitting up facing forwards... whoosh! Far be it from me to question the wisdom of the administration as expressed through the will of the recess aides—the liability is not mine, nor the need to handle any potential parent complaints—but I do take exception to the self-righteousness with which a few of the authorities enforce the anti-snow-fun diktats. I'd be amused to hear what their own winter recesses were like, lo these many years ago. A little different, I'd be willing to bet. Me, I harken back to the recesses described by Mark Twain and Laura Ingells Wilder, where the kids got kicked out of the schoolhouse for an hour or so and had to fend for themselves without any rules to keep them safe. As long as enough youngsters survive to ensure the continuation of the species, isn't that good enough for us?


experimental cookery

I was just thinking, as I started to make chocolate chip cookies this evening, how it was a shame that I never experiment with the recipe. Not on purpose, at least. Here it is some ten years since I started making cookies for myself (though there was some overlap in that time with mother-provided examples), and I haven't varied the ingredients that go into the choc. chip for all that time. My thinking every time I want cookies is pretty much, why mess with a good thing?

Tonight, however, I soon found that some experimentation was perforce required, since we had only one egg rather than the two required by the recipe; even more so because all the other ingredients were already together when I made the discovery. So I made a few other modifications to try to at least keep the amount of liquid correct, and with some trepidation put the first batch in the oven.

Sadly, the experiment did not in any way produce better cookies, though I suppose it did have some utility in demonstrating that eggs make the end product soft and chewy. And I guess I'll probably manage to choke down this crispy batch anyways, somehow.


putting the \"sweat\" in sweater

Last night Leah noticed a sweater on the shelf that I hadn't worn in some years, a sweater which she had in fact given me for Christmas. Why not? Well, the problem is it's kind of warm... in fact, the warmest garment I have ever worn, including my winter coat. An acceptable answer.

Well, when today dawned at two degrees below zero or so, I figured there was no better day than today to try it out again, and so I did. At least, I wore it when I was outside; I would not have survived if I had kept in on in the classroom, which anyways is kept at about 80°. Even outside though, I must say I was well more than warm enough when I was walking with the dog, to the extent that I had to take off my hat and mittens to keep from overheating completely. At under 10°F. Now that's an impressive sweater!

Not kidding about the shortness thing

My bff Oona had asked me to shoot a picture of my preggo belly to keep her updated on the fatness watch, because, you know, girls are nice like that. I had planned to confine the image location only to email, until I read another blog post that made me HOPPING mad. You know, on that blog that I claim not to read. Anyway, this tall skinny bitch is about the same amount as pregnant as me, except she has the advantage of being tall, anorexic, and a complete raving lunatic. Then (watch out, pics NSFW unless you work in medicine or porn,) there's me. Even with the leg muscles to prove I'm still spinning, I look like I'm about to give birth to a soccer team. Jealous?

reactive thinking

It snowed today, a whole lot more snow than last Sunday, when church was canceled due to a storm. So today, with two and a half times more snow by inches and about four times more by hours, we did have church. My theory is this: enough people complained about not having it last week, when we obviously could have—the snow had stopped by the time the service would have ended, and it wasn't more than three inches or so anyways—that they hesitated to call it off this week, when they probably should have. Now that's management for you.

Still, some folks managed to come even with the snow, and we had a fine time, so I suppose it was all for the best.


Old but pertinent.

Happy Martin Luther King Day, my favorite holiday where nothing exciting happens. Only, we all get to think about how individuals can effect huge changes in society, and then get killed when society decides it isn't ready for that much change. The MLK celebration at my school on Friday was very uplifting, and it gives me hope for the future to think of all these children growing up with ideals of anti-racism and non-violence and equality; at least as long as I don't think too much about their rich parents!

I nog, you nog, we all nog you ration

So apparently alot of people were pretty excited about this inauguration thing today. I knew about the two million or whatever in Washington, but I was unprepared for the level of attention it got here in town. We showed it in the schools (though not to my little ones) and I hear some children even stayed home to watch the festivities on their family big-screens. Us, we figure it's historic and all, but that was something we celebrated after the election. Now we're waiting for some legislation! (and don't really care what color Michelle Obama's dress was, either).

Still, cakes all over the place, for inauguration parties at school and at church; I'll take that! Why can't we get a new president more often!


feeling chills

I felt cold all day today. All the time that I was inside, that is—outside was sunny and warmish and very pleasant. I figured it was because the heat was turned down low, but it wasn't until a few minutes ago that I realized it was actually all the way off, at least downstairs. The upstairs thermostat, which is the visible one, was set to 55°F, and upstairs felt four or five degrees warmer, so there you have it. Also, when I turned the non-visible downstairs thermostat on—to 50° or 52° or whatever the lowest setting is on that analogue machine—the furnace immediately came on. So, a new record for coldness in the squibix household; I'm claiming 49°F. Woohoo!

a different kind of telltale

A while ago I described our wind-up clock situation, in which the clock served as a representation of the degree to which we had things under control—housework and work and things like that. Well, I'm happy to report that today, a year and a half or so later, things are different. The clock is nearly always running, and in fact things are so regular that the dog has identified the winding of the clock as a signal that it's time to go upstairs to bed. When he hears the click-click-click of those little gears going, he hops right off his comfy spot on the couch and runs right upstairs, to claim a good location on the bed before anyone else gets a chance to get themselves set up there. I believe that he is hoping that one day we might allow him to take the pillows for ourselves, and maybe even decide to sleep down on the puppy bed...

half way to baby!

We're into the cruising part of pregnancy, where nothing much happens for two months except I continue to get fatter. I feel great, like a normal person even, except for this frontal protrusion which is about the size a duffle bag. I said on Tuesday to my healthcare provider, I'm much more excited about being a mom than I am about being a fat lady. Oh well. That's like saying you're excited about college for the drinking, but not for the going to class. Suck it up, fratboy!

Also, we've started to feel the baby kicking, which is very exciting. To celebrate, we played him/her 30 minutes worth of good music (Ives, some jazz, some bluegrass...) She didn't react much to the tunes, but then she started kicking when we turned it off. I dont get it; did she like it or not?