Open Letter to Those Who've Gone Before Me

Posted on 4/30/2007 11:30:00 AM
How is it that I asked Dr. Google dozens and dozens of times both during the last pregnancy and this one about a series of symptoms I was having and never found anything remotely resembling "round ligament pain"? But I signed up for some random weekly pregnancy newsletter a while back and just had this emailed to me. I simply can't bring myself to admit that Dr. Google, my long and trusted friend, has failed me.

Using the correct phraseology, I get hundreds of hits: eMedicineHealth; Baby Center; American Pregnancy Association; and even WebMD, where I spend about half my online time, honing my skills until one day I become Fake Doctor Alice. But none of these sites came up a couple of days ago when I was desperately google-ing (or is it googling?) "pain pregnancy groin stabbing help help I want to die"?

I've never heard of this condition before and every mother that I asked about it looks at me like I'm not the brightest spark and says they never experienced it. From what all the articles say, it doesn't seem all that uncommon.

I guess not knowing anything about it before hasn't really affected me one way or another, because basically, I've gleaned the following treatment advice from all my reading:

  • take some Tylenol (because my non-medical school degree-holding mind didn't think of that already)
  • try to ignore it ("Why did you just collapse to the ground when you got up to go to the bathroom, Alice?" "Oh no reason.")
  • take it easy (can you take it easier than not getting out of your chair for six hours?)
  • sleep with your legs in a slightly bended position (um, does anyone not do that?)
  • if it hurts when you do that, don't do that (now stop me if you've heard this one: a guy walks into a Doctor's office with a duck on his head...)
  • it won't do you any good to complain about it; you are stuck with it until you deliver (maybe I'll complain a great deal and see if that will help, just in case)
I got brave and spoke to my real-life physician, who pretty much gave me the same list above, but with a practiced-knowing-nod-of-the-head-while-cleaning-his-glasses that I'm sure was honed to a fine, spindly point during that Bedside Manner Class he took in medical school.

I had this with The Dormouse, but it didn't really start until about month eight and got worse and worse as the pregnancy wore on. So having this now, in whatever-the-early-month I am, worries me. By my calculations, at month eight I'll be hanging upside down by my knees from the ceiling fan, screaming and wielding a broomstick at the men in white coats who've come to take me away.


Seriously, does anyone have any experience with this? I would much appreciate some recommendations other than "Here's some crap you already know".

Signed,

Desperate Enough to Ask the Interweb

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Inappropriate Songs (volume 12)

Posted on 4/28/2007 08:27:00 PM In:
Somewhere in France, Georges Bizet is rolling over in his grave.



And a longer version for those who dare:


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TV Is Now My Child's Tutor

Posted on 4/28/2007 12:50:00 PM
We went over to a neighbors' house the other day to bring them some brownies that we made as a Project (Project starts with a capital P in our house - there is nothing more important). I figured out that while it was a fun activity to make brownies, when you're done making brownies, what you've got is a big pan of brownies and then the only thing to do is eat all the brownies. I decided I did not want the brownies in the house so we took them to our friends across the street.

While there, our friend found some PBS kids' programming to watch on TV to entertain The Dormouse while we talked. It was a show I know nothing about - aimed at older kids and focusing on math skills. The live action woman and the cartoon characters were all trying to solve some basic algebraic functions.

"If I need to have five balls and I know I already have two, then how many more do I need?" *writes on screen 2 + X = 5, etc., etc.*


We weren't there watching for more than ten minutes and most of that time, The Dormouse was running around pulling stuff out of drawers in their house and it seemed only half paying attention to the television. I've never seen the show before nor have we had it on in our home.

The next morning as I was getting breakfast, she was circling the kitchen and adding numbers like she'd been doing it all her life:

"Momma, two plus two is four, right?"


"That's right honey." *thinking she'd memorized it from somewhere*

"And Momma, one plus two is three."

"Honey, what are you doing?"

"I'm adding Momma."

It then became apparent that she wasn't just repeating stuff that she memorized as she started illustrating with her fingers exactly how to add. "Aaaand three plus two is one, two, three, four, five... FIVE; four plus three is one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.. SEVEN; one plus three is one, two, three, four... FOUR."


When I dropped her off at preschool that day, I asked if they had been working on any addition concepts. The teacher looked at me like I was waaaaay to anxious to fill out that college application form and said, "Um, no." Like duh, lady, we're just happy to get them to wash their hands after going to the bathroom. I, wisely I think, left out the ensuing story about her adding on her fingers. It didn't seem appropriate.


I assumed that KoH had probably taught her the concept of addition because I certainly had not, so I sent him the following email:

Did you teach The Dormouse to add?
She's been doing it all morning:

2+2=4
3+8=8
4+4=8
1+4=5
etc.


He replied:

No. I did not teach her.
If I'd taught her to add, she'd know that 3+8=11.


Smart aleck.

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This Makes Up for the $1400 Repair Job on the Car We Need

Posted on 4/26/2007 12:58:00 PM
So - after an appointment with my regular OB yesterday, in which he bad mouthed my Perinatologist for allowing three weeks to go by before I got the results of the nuchal translucency test, I got a call today from the Perinatologist's office with my amniocentesis results - a mere seven working days after the test. Exactly when he said I'd have it.

Report: "Everything is within normal limits."

Translation: No chromosomal abnormalities. No triploidy, no trisomy, no genetic disorders. No Down's Syndrome, no spina bifida. Also: I do not carry the gene for cystic fibrosis (how did I make it through the last two pregnancies without ever being tested for THAT?).

I'd been feeling less and less dread about this in the past week or so, but still, it's very nice to know for sure.

And now... what you're all really dying to know:

Suck on that KoH, you've been wrong three times now.


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And When She's Five, She's Moving Out

Posted on 4/26/2007 06:10:00 AM




















We finally went
to dinner with a friend last weekend to celebrate that pesky unniversary. We found a new one of those hibachi restaurants where the chef cooks everything at your table. The dude pulled out all the stops - from tossing a shrimp into The KingofHearts' mouth to building a volcano out of onions and lighting it to simulate an eruption. We also ordered a giant plate of sushi. I, of course, did not eat any of it, just in case anyone was wondering.

When we are out in public, we are always challenged by people who don't believe us when we they ask how old The Dormouse is and we answer with the truth. Not only is she not threatened in the least by speaking to people she doesn't know (something that actually concerns me quite a bit when we are in crowded places), but she also talks a lot. I attribute this to the fact that we are just verbal people and because of the constant yammering that goes on in our house, she's picked up a vocabulary and expressive language ability well above her age level. I still remember the day a year or so ago when we were in the ball pit at IKEA and another mom tried to get us kicked out of the "under three" area because she was bragging that her kid (the same age as The Dormouse) could count to three and was therefore going to be the next President of the United States. To show off this ability, she tried to get her son to count balls. The kid didn't successfully show off his prowess counting past one to the growing crowd of onlookers (aka me), but The Dormouse wanted to get into the act and counted to twelve. Lady was certain I was lying about her age.

Whatever the cause, it's funny that people for some reason think that we feel it necessary to be economical with the truth when we report her age. Like she's really five and I'm just desperate to have you, the stranger on the other side of the table at the Japanese restaurant, be duly impressed by our parenting abilities because our kid repeated the word sayonora when someone said it to her. There is nothing in life that fulfills me more, you know.

Girl at the restaurant to me: "How old is she?"

Me: "Three"

Girl *surprised*: "Really?"

Me: "Uh huh."

Girl to The Dormouse: "How old are you?"


Dormouse: "First I was one, and I was a baby. Then I was two and I was a child. Now I'm three."

Girl: "What does that make you now?"


Dormouse: "A Big Girl."

Me to KoH *loudly so girl across the table could hear*: "Give her the car keys, please, she's driving us home."

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Um... Huh??!?

Posted on 4/25/2007 10:58:00 AM

"Momma, look I found this rock on the floor."
*hands me a tiny pebble smaller than a pea*


"OK - honey, I'll throw it away."
*I reach for garbage can*


"Noooooooo!!!!! Don't throw away my sweet rock! Waaaaaaaaah!!!!"
*leaves room, sobbing*

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Spring Has Sprung (Finally)

Posted on 4/24/2007 10:34:00 AM

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Worst Pedicurist Ever

Posted on 4/24/2007 09:07:00 AM
In case you were wondering...

This is what you get when you let a three-year-old paint your toenails:

Be forewarned.

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Needing Some Work in the Imaginative Play Arena

Posted on 4/21/2007 06:58:00 PM
Picking up The Dormouse from preschool yesterday, I spied her and some of the other kids gathered around a table completely engrossed in a project. Having a couple of minutes to spare, I pulled up a tiny chair and sat down next to them with my knees touching my chin to watch what they were doing. The activity was some kind of set of interlocking blocks (similar to these or these). Each child was intently focused on making something different out of the blocks.

One of the kid had stuck together a whole series of long, thin blocks in alternating colors and said, "I'm making a sword."

Another had put together an archway (or at least the closest thing to an archway that you can create with square and rectangle blocks) and informed me, "I'm making a bridge for cars to drive over."

"Mine is a snake, ssssss.... sssssss..." another informed me.

Yet another had some amorphous collection of different colors and sizes put together like an amoeba that kept changing shape. "This is Donatello - he's a Ninja Turtle - Yee Haw!" he beamed as the ahem, 'turtle' took a swipe at me with his ninja sword.

Looking over at The Dormouse, her structure was composed entirely of yellow square pieces of the same size, which she had connected next to one another in a large, thin sheet. "What are you making honey?" I asked.

"A floor."

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Something I Never Said to My Mother

Posted on 4/20/2007 09:12:00 AM


"I want to play a Sesame Street puzzle game."


"Honey, I don't have a Sesame Street puzzle game."

"Well, why don't you go online and find one?"

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Join the Evolution

Posted on 4/19/2007 09:23:00 AM
Every so often, The Dormouse makes one giant leap forward on the developmental scale. I'm sure every mother notices this in their kids. They go along being a wobbly, tenuous, tip-toer and then one day they just begin walking like a senior citizen trying to beat another into the line at the Old Country Buffet. Or they go from communicating in one and two word phrases to complete sentences and correcting you on your own grammar and pronounciation in the course of a day or two.

We've noticed this over and over in her short few years with us. She'll plateau and be the same cute baby for several weeks or even months, and then one day take a giant leap forward like a mutant in X-Men and become... a child.

It's getting harder and harder to put our finger on just how the leap forward is being made because the changes are now less "hey, she learned to talk" and more "wow, she just doesn't seem like a little girl anymore."

She made one of those leaps this week. There are no particularly new skills; her personality, demeanor and speech just suddenly became much more mature. She started participating in conversations in a more active way than before and is paying a lot more attention to her environment - to the point where she repeats the dialogue from television commercials that I'd barely recognized were on in the first place. Great - now I will have two of them in the house to deal with, quoting movies and inserting all the words to every commercial, even though I've muted the TV so as not to hear the Geico caveman commercial for 800 kajillionth time.

Last night, this was the announcement she made: "Mom, I want to tell you something about my life. Yesterday, I was scared of monsters, but really there are only monsters in books and movies and they are not really real."

A little while later, she walked into my room and announced: "Mom, I'm going out. I'll be back a little later."

Sure, honey. Did you want to borrow the car keys too?

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Drawing to an Inside Straight

Posted on 4/18/2007 02:30:00 AM
Yesterday, we finally got the results of the nuchal translucency screening that I had done almost three weeks ago. This is the ultrasound/blood test that is done three weeks before amniocentesis so you have some idea of what to expect and/or test for a few weeks before you can actually do an amniocentesis. Basically, it's an early screening so you can start to make decisions almost a month earlier in the pregnancy. Please note that yesterday was also the date of my amniocentesis. (Note to self: next time a doctor says 'we should have the results back in a week', place heavy emphasis in your own mind on the word should and remind yourself that it's a good thing that your decision to continue the pregnancy would not change whatever the results of the screening may be.)

The phone rang yesterday mid-day as I was dressing The Dormouse to go to a friend's house where I was going to stash her for my doctor appointment. The nurse from my perinatologist's office was on the other line: "I just wanted to let you know that your test results are all within normal limits."

Me: "Well, that's good news."

Nurse: "Do you have any questions about the results?"

Me: "Well, yes, but I suppose I can ask them two hours from now when I'm in your office for my appointment, right?"

Nurse: "Yeah, that'd probably be the easiest thing."

According to my doctor, my risk of having a child with any trisomy is now something closer to 1 in 300. (That's down from the odds of 1 in 8 that they gave me based on my age and medical history before the results of the NT screening.) The Risk of Down's Syndrome is now something closer to 1 in 1000. (Adjusted from 1 in 30, before the screening.)

Of course the NT screening doesn't do squat to detect the tripliody that my first daughter had, so while it's nice to know my 'chances', we wait to breathe easier until the results of the amnio come in. That "should be about seven to ten days" (translation: you'll be waiting three weeks if you wait a day).

Aside: For those who care and are unfamiliar with the Wonderful World of Chromosome Disorders, trisomies (of which Down's Syndrome is one) are disorders in which there's one extra chromosome because a chromosome splits improperly during early development. Triploidy, tetraploidy, pentaploidy, etc., are when there are whole extra sets of chromosomes present.

What's amazing about all this is that they have it all down to probabilities that this doctor has memorized and ready for retrieval at the tip of his tongue... like an announcer for a poker match. While he was talking to us, reciting off probabilities and ratios, I kept hearing in my head Dave Foley's voice narrating from the Loser's Lounge on Celebrity Poker Showdown. "Now, it looks like she's starting out with pocket aces, Phil Gordon, do you think she should go all in?" "Well, Dave, if she draws another ace on the Turn, her probability of beating Judy Greer's two Jacks goes up to 1 in 20. But after that if Judy pulls one of those jacks that we haven't seen in the Showdown so far on the River, then she's looking at 75% for winning this hand."

The physical procedure of the amniocentesis is ultimately no big deal - especially if you've had two previous cesarean sections and no longer have any nerves attached in your abdomen. But I'd forgotten that I can still feel pain in the inner muscles surrounding my uterus, so I started out watching the needle insertion in my belly all
blasé thinking wow - I can't even feel that - no big deal and then was suddenly all whoa - hey there's a giant needle sticking me.

Ultimately, the procedure went well and then I tromped into another room to be stuck with needles two or three more times just for good measure. The highlight of that part was when the doctor stood over my right shoulder yammering on while the nurse prepared to give me a rhoGAM shot in my left arm (because if I haven't already complicated the process enough, I'm also rH- and have to have a series of immune globulin inoculations in order to keep my blood cells from attacking my possibly rH+ baby) . Suddenly, he abruptly stopped talking and looked at the nurse, who was patiently waiting for him to finish his speech and said, "You know, I'm standing here talking to her to provide a distraction while you give her the shot, so maybe you want to stick her now?"

I don't really have an end to this post. I just, for the first time in fifteen weeks, feel like talking about it. Maybe because I'm encouraged by the results of the screening, maybe because I'm still worried... who knows? I'm just constantly reminded as we go through this process once again, what a miracle it is to have a healthy baby - or even a baby with relatively minor problems. With a million and one things that could go wrong, it's incredible to me that they don't more often and that more women don't really concern themselves with the stuff I think about every day. Sometimes, I get irritated with women who pop out kids like a healthy child is their right and due, never concerned that anything could be wrong, because they don't have any concept that it might. Women who are more concerned with the gender, the eye color, or whether the baby's birth date turns out to be this month or the next because they don't care for the current gemstone. I know it's stupid of me. If there are women out there who don't feel the need to worry about things like chromosomes and screenings, more power to them. I really do wish them a care-less world. In fact, I generally don't discuss my experiences with other moms and moms-to-be because I think most people have enough to obsess over. But what I pick up on sometimes is a general lack of respect for what an amazing gift it is to have a child and how incredibly grateful we should be when everything does go right. I got lucky once - I have a sweet, bright, vibrant little girl to watch grow up and see who she's going to be - and I'm now pressing that luck again. I just hope that I haven't pressed too hard. Phil Gordon would be so proud.

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The Wild Things Are In My House

Posted on 4/17/2007 07:44:00 AM In:
The Dormouse has somehow been corrupted by that whole "monsters under my bed" thing lately. I don't know where this came from. In her three years, she's never been afraid of the dark, monsters, or being left alone in her room before. She's watched Monsters, Inc. repeatedly with no adverse effects, and read a plethora of monster related books like Where the Wild Things Are and has never had trouble separating the ideas in fiction from reality. She knows that there are no such thing as monsters and will qualify that idea as "silly" whenever given the chance. But it seems in the last couple of weeks that something has changed. Personally, I'm always ready, willing and able to blame one of the rug rats she goes to preschool with for putting ideas into her head. It's just so much easier to believe that some other person's kid taught her all the bad habits she's ever come up with, you know?

Lately, the KingofHearts has been putting her to bed more often than not because I can't seem to stay awake past 7:00 pm. And the last few nights when he's done this, she's made some reference to needing a light on or worrying about monsters in her room. I don't really want to start the night light thing mostly because if there's a light on in her room, she will simply play around in there after we leave and close the door and find things to do that involve not going to sleep.

KoH, thinking he'd be really clever the other night, got out a glow in the dark stick that had been sitting on the kitchen counter and broke it to start all the orange glowy magic inside. He gave it to her to keep with her in bed and told her it was monster repellent and as long as she had it near her the monsters would stay away.

Clever, you may say? Perhaps, but those things don't last forever - in fact they don't last a whole night.
(She later woke me up at three am to report that her glow stick wasn't glowy anymore and she needed another one.) When he reported this after putting her to bed, I immediately had visions of being forced to buy hundreds of the damnable things for the next five years' supply until one day in 2023, when someone came up with a patent for actual monster repellent and she would then sleep voluntarily again. Clever, he may be, but practical, he ain't.

As I was arguing the wisdom of "starting something he couldn't finish", we heard a blood curdling scream coming from the Dormouse's room. When we went in we found the closet door wide open; The Dormouse standing in the middle of the darkened room, sobbing, glow stick in hand; and the cat cowering in the corner.

Here's apparently what happened:

Earlier in the evening,
KoH finished bath time and grabbed a pair of clean pajamas out of the closet. While the closet door was open, our all-black cat sneaked into the closet to poke around as cats are wont to do. When KoH was done readying the girl for bed, he closed the closet door, not realizing there was a cat inside. Cat was happy and content to stay there for awhile and said nothing. But after about an hour, when they had turned out the light and we all imagined that The Dormouse had gone to sleep, the cat got bored and began scratching at the closet door to be let out.

This scratching woke The Dormouse who, confident that her new, bright orange, glowy stick would protect her from any and all threats, got out of bed to investigate the sounds in her room and opened the closet, glow stick clutched tightly in her hand. Cat, seeing bright orange, glowy stick, but still wanting out of the closet, ran as quickly as she could for the door and between the legs of the opener of the door. Then, finding the bedroom door closed, cat headed back between the legs she'd just come through, scaring the ever loving daylights out of the holder of the glow stick. The brave investigator screamed back at the monster in the closet, who was now hissing and scratching at her ankles trying to get free and away from the scary, orange, glowy thing.

That's where we came in.

I guess at least that means we don't have to buy a gross of glow sticks for the next several years.

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Love is Patient and Kind, But Also Practical

Posted on 4/16/2007 10:31:00 AM
Sharing a moment yesterday:

Dormouse, sitting on my lap: "I love you momma."

Me: "Really? Do you know how much I love you?"

D: "Uh huh, um... five."

M: "Five is many. How much do you love me?"

D: "I love you eighty, twenty, seven, zero, zero."

M: "Wow, that's a lot. In that case I must love you more than five."

D: "How much?"

M: "I love you to the moon and back."

D: "Well... I love you eating ice cream."

M: "I love you riding horseback in the mountains."

D: "I love you walking in the crunchy snow."

M: "I love you walking in the rain and splashing in the puddles."

D: "Well, you're gonna need some boots."

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Ten Years (Seems Like Twenty)

Posted on 4/13/2007 05:20:00 PM In:
Yesterday was my tenth wedding anniversary. Or rather, my unniversary, because I pretty much postponed it. It was raining cats and dogs in the morning, we have a backyard filled with manure that needs to be either tilled under or decorated with a horse, and the car broke down. Aside: why oh why, car karma gods, can we not go one year without some major problem with a vehicle? Just ONE YEAR? That horse is looking better and better. I've been fighting a cold and too much work for a week, not to mention the fact that my hormone-addled, pregnant body thinks 6:00 pm is bedtime these days, so I hadn't gotten out to really even think about what to get/give/do/say for my husband. My plan was to go shopping on Thursday while I was supposed to be working at home and get something to have ready for when The KingofHearts got home. And maybe I'd make a cake or something. Or buy a cake. Yeah, that's more likely.

But since his car wasn't working well, he took mine to work so as not to get stranded on the Beltway in the rain, which limited me to web surfing for his gift and using leftover Easter cookie dough for cookies instead
of a cake.

The tenth anniversary is aluminium (who comes up with this stuff anyway?). We've got a lot of tin cans around the house and I did entertain the idea of building him a giant pyramid of Diet Coke. But I was going for something romantic (wha ha ha... me... romantic... I make me laugh) and since it would take a few days to have this delivered, I decided that I would buy him a camera. A few weeks back, I gave him my camera to take a picture in the mall of something funny that I would later turn into a funny blog post (see how THAT idea came to fruition) and he smacked his arm against something as he walked away and dropped my beloved free camera that was given to me on the concrete floor. It hasn't worked since. So I thought I'd get him a camera to make up for all the grief I gave him about breaking mine.

About 11:30 am, as I was paging through the Best Buy website trying to decide which one to order, the door suddenly opened, KingofHearts walked through into the kitchen and kissed me as he place a big bag in my lap. In it was...

you guessed it...

a camera.

It was our very own Gift of the Magi story, except I didn't have to do anything and I could use the gift he got me. So better.

It's still hard for me to believe that I'm a married woman, much less one that has been married longer than most marriages last. It's incredible to me that that weird guy living next door to me ten years ago who watched me leave for work in the morning and kept telling his roommate "there's just something wrong with her" is now the man with whom I choose to share my life. Oh sure, he irritates the crap out of me now and then, but even now, he's the first person I want to tell when something goes well in my day and he's the last person I want to see at night when I'm complaining about what didn't.

It has not been an easy ten years. We've been through a lot and I know it wasn't what he bargained for when he first asked me to marry him and I said no and then he asked again... and again... and again. (In fact, I don't think he even bargained for that part.) Other women would have been the starry-eyed romantic he wanted, had fewer reproductive issues, been more supportive of his tendency to obsess over hobbies, enjoyed talking on the phone, joined him in his never-ending quest for friends and social events and been less cynical about it all in the process. But I'm not sure I would have gotten through some of the trials and tribulations of the past ten years with my sense of humor in tact without him by my side. Even today, I still love just going to the grocery store with him and bantering about whatever in the car on the way. I'd rather do that than go to the nicest dinner at the nicest restaurant in my best clothes (and that's not just because none of them fit).

I love the life w
e have together, no matter how many stupid things go wrong, and I love the family we've fashioned: our beautiful daughter, the friends and supports we've found here, our actual families out west...

So here's to ten years - it only seems like twenty.


.

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There's Nothing Like Being Told Off By a Toddler

Posted on 4/12/2007 10:03:00 AM
I rented this video of cartoons for The Dormouse and played it this morning. I can't even remember why. The worst thing about Netflix is that I put stuff into my queue for a reason: someone told me it was good, I was interested in the body of work of a particular actor, I read something about the symbolism of a scene or its groundbreaking performance and couldn't live without seeing it...

But.. I have like 50 or 60 movies waiting to be watched in my queue, so by the time I finally get a movie, I've
totally forgotten why I wanted to watch it in the first place and tend to not be in the correct frame of mind when viewing certain picks because I can't remember why on earth I would rent THAT. So with about seventy percent of the movies I watch, I end up sitting at the edge of my chair, staring at the television for two+ hours, going "Huh??!?"

It'd be different if the KingofHearts had added the choices and I could accuse him of poor taste in rental picks, but he never logs into the account. So I have only myself to blame for the veritable plethora of surprisingly bad movies I've suffered through lately. (And don't even suggest that I just send them back without watching them... I need to get my money's worth - even if it means they're only playing in the living room while I do dishes in the kitchen.)


Anyway, all that is a long explanation as to how I have no idea why I needed for The Dormouse to see these Kevin Henkes cartoons, but felt compelled to play every one of them on the DVD for her anyway.

The DVD was a series of 10 minute shorts and once each one ended, I had to queue up the next one and hit play (we thus far have not given The Dormouse opportunity to learn how the remote works and I'd like to keep it that way for at least a while longer - it the one place in my life where I can still feel in control).


In the middle of one of them, the phone rang and I got distracted by a conversation with my mother. The episode ended but I was only aware of this subconsciously, and didn't think to start the next one while I was talking. I was also able to ignore the repeated "Mom, Mom! Maaa-uuummm! MOMMY!!" protests that were rumbling up from the peanut gallery a few feet away from me as I gabbed on.


Finally, in desperation, she stood up out of her chair, marched to the television, put herself in between me and the screen, placed one hand on a hip and with the other tapped loudly on the television screen with a plastic spoon while enunciating slowly as if I only had the slimmest grasp on the English language: "FO-CUS ON THIS!!!"

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That Probably Goes Without Saying

Posted on 4/11/2007 09:04:00 AM
Our latest game in the car is identifying the instrument playing on the radio. I know what people are thinking... Newsflash: Music Geek Forces Child to Become As Socially Inept as She Was Growing Up. But whether you believe me or not, the game honestly wasn't created or prompted by me, initially.

I listen to a variety of music in the car as we drive... alternative, classical, classic rock, you name it. But my commuter's favorite is NPR. I don't watch the news on television (too repetitive) and I don't read the paper (too time consuming - actually receiving the paper in my neighborhood requires a daily call to the Washington Post Circulation Office) so pretty much ninety pecent of my exposure to what's going on in the world is through NPR while I drive to work and back.

The Dormouse, however, isn't interested in enjoying thoughtful, in-depth news reporting and always asks for "music please" when she tromps her muddy shoes all over the back seat to enter the car. And then, whatever station I happen to be in the mood to tune it to, becomes a part of the game. "Momma, that is a guitar, playing." "That is a man singing." "Those are violins playing."

She's actually gotten pretty good at it. On the classical station, she can point out the piano, violins, cellos, basses, flutes, trumpets, and a variety of other instruments. She still has trouble with clarinet, oboe, and some of the brass instruments, but truth be told, they don't often play completely exposed solos in an orchestra, so it's hard to get a chance to hear them when not covered up by a whole lot of other folks.

This morning on the way to preschool, she was picking them out particularly well and identified the "tiny triangle instrument" playing in the background of the Litolff Piano Concerto that I didn't even notice until she pointed it out.

"Great job, honey," I said, "that's absolutely right!"

"Yep, momma... I'm always right when I can be."

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Mmmmmm.... Gluten

Posted on 4/10/2007 10:30:00 AM
We were invited to another family's house for dinner last night. When they called to ask us a couple of days ago, I said "yes". And "thank you". As both those things were difficult enough in and of themselves for me to say, I thought I'd done my part. I wasn't given any instructions to prepare and bring a course so I didn't think another thing about it.

When we got into the car to leave last night, my husband, who is really the girl in our relationship, could not abide showing up at their door without delectable baked goods in hand.

"What are we bringing?"

"Nothing, I guess."

"They said not to bring anything?"

"No, they didn't say
to bring anything."

"You mean you didn't even ask if there was anything we could bring?"

"No. They didn't tell me to bring anything."


"Well we should bring
something."

"Why? They've already prepared the meal and all we've been asked to do is show up. What more is required of us?"


He rolled his eyes at me and motioned to pull into the parking lot where there was a small organic market I'd never before set foot into to secure precious baked goods so we would not be laughed out of existence when we showed up empty-handed. (
Sometimes we both agree that I was meant to be born a man and just stood in the wrong line when God was handing out testicles. Of course, you know what that says about him.)

I stopped the car in the loading area and let KoH go in by himself. He, after all, would have the better scoop on the appropriate thing that we weren't asked to bring. After the hippie family with eighteen kids came in and out of the store eighteen times, my husband finally emerged with not one, but two of the least offensive pies I have ever seen or heard tale of in my life. The following text was emblazoned on each package (seriously - not joking here):
  • No Wheat
  • No Gluten
  • No Refined Sugars
  • No Dairy
  • No Corn
  • No Hydrogenated Oils
  • No Additives
  • No Preservatives
  • No Soy
  • No Cholesterol
  • No Trans Fat
  • Non--GMO (I had to look this one up on wikipedia - it eiter means Genetically Modified Organism, General Medical Officer, or Glenn Miller Orchestra - I'm not sure which)
  • No Nightshades (Nightshades??!? because now I gotta worry about belladonna in my food?)
  • No Grain Alcohol
  • Vegan
  • Made in Maine (because where else?)

"Is there any pie in there?" I asked as we pulled out of the parking lot and the hippie family got out of their Volvo and headed back into the store for the nineteenth time.

When we showed up at the door with not one, but two pies, they looked at us like we were crazy. They'd already prepared cupcakes and an activity of cupcake decorating for the kids as dessert. Each of the adults ate a small piece of pie to be polite, but what I really wanted was to eat spoonfuls of frosting and jelly beans straight the can like the rest of those lucky kids.


The pie itself ended up being pretty good, if unlike any pie I'd ever had before and despite my compulsion to repeat ad nauseum to anyone within earshot, "You know what would make this pie better? Gluten!"


After a lengthy argument about who should take home the rest of the pie, we lost and now have two nearly complete Fantastic Health Food Voyage Pies in our refrigerator. Vindication. Take that KoH! *Spikes pie on kitchen floor and does victory dance under imaginary marriage goalpost*

I'm eating some of the blueberry pie for breakfast, which, I figure is healthier than anything else in my entire house... combined. But what this pie really needs to go with it? Gluten-flavored ice cream.


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Unringing a Bell

Posted on 4/08/2007 07:32:00 PM
I have a confession to make.

I've fallen for another man.

It happened years ago... before I ever met my husband. When I was a young, impressionable teenager -- a fascination I've never quite been able to give up despite being happily married for ten years now. Over the years I've been in the same room with him on several different occasions and have paid quite a bit of money to enjoy his company.

The one major impediment to our relationship is that he doesn't really know I exist and I've never... what's the technical term for it?... oh yeah... met him.

But now, he's won the Avery Fisher prize and I think it's high time we met. He can probably support me in the manner to which I'm accustomed (that is, not much) and he needs something to do with all the money right?

Since I was a teenager and Joshua Bell first arrived on the classical music scene, I've been fascinated with this guy. It started as mostly awe and envy for the coolest instrument I've ever seen.

But then he started with the rock star like album covers and making classical music seem accessbile and enjoyable to young people. He was my age and made it seem like there was actually a future in the stuff I was interested in - not just high brow passtimes for old, rich dudes. The fact that he was a hell of a musician didn't hurt any either.


This weekend's Washington Post has a fascinating article about him, classical music, talent, beauty and whether or not we recognize or acknowledge it when we see it in our daily lives. It's a bit long, but a really interesting read if you're up for it.

I wonder if I would have recognized him had I been at the Plaza that day. Probably not, I'm ashamed to admit - even as often as I've seen him in person and in photographs. I know I would have recognized that he was talented but would I have stopped to listen? I'm not sure. Like most, I get caught up in the "gotta get to work" mode and feel like I can't take time to notice things or enjoy them on the way, which is a shame, because what a performance I would have missed.

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When Did Mother Nature Turn Bi-Polar?

Posted on 4/07/2007 06:38:00 PM
Early last week, the KingofHearts came home with tickets to a baseball game that he'd won in a drawing at work. It was Opening Day of the Nationals' season and it was 80 degrees that day. Perfect baseball weather. That night, we slept with all the windows open and put away all the winter blankets. Even after that as we lay in bed, we discussed finding a lighter comforter or bedspread for the bed because it was too hot in the house to fall asleep.

Three days later, the high was 38 degrees. Undoubtedly, THAT was the day the tickets he won were for.

Undaunted, we went to the game the evening before last anyway. We put on every stitch of clothing we owned and sat in the bleachers of RFK Stadium to watch Washington get beat by the Diamondbacks. (You might expect that the Arizona team might have less success in the cold weather, but no.) As the temperature crept down to freezing with no signs of holding steady - and as I discovered that while concessions at that venue say they have hot chololate for sale, they do not bother to stock any even when they know two days in advance it will be cold, Cold, COLD but instead walk around yelling "Warm beer! Hot beer!" - we finally surrendered to the elements and left in the sixth inning before one of the four of us froze to a seat and needed a spatula to pry his/her hind end away from the frozen plastic.

This morning, there was an inch of snow on the ground.

I've always heard the expression if you don't like the weather in Washington, just wait a couple of days, it will surely change. But this is ridiculous.

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Maybe That's How You Spell It In Farsi

Posted on 4/05/2007 09:37:00 AM
"Momma, momma! I did it!!!!! I wrote flowers! Right here on this paper."

*shoves paper in my face full of crayon markings and proceeds to point out each letter*

"f - o - d - o - i - i - h - q - r - a - d - o - a - See momma? That spells flowers... floooouuuuu-weeeeers. See? I wrote it."

I guess we need to go ahead and pay for the next six weeks of that phonics class.

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Is That Dead Fish I Smell, Or Just a Lack of Etiquette?

Posted on 4/04/2007 02:57:00 PM
I have been outed as a preggo.

A couple of weeks ago, KingofHearts was talking to a friend at church about maybe going out to lunch at a local Japanese restaurant we like. In the course of conversation, he said, "Well, it would be better to go on a day that Alice isn't home because she doesn't eat sushi."

What would you think if someone said that... that they simply didn't like sushi? Me too. We're not that close and this dude doesn't know anything about my eating habits, so it's the most likely conclusion. A lot of people don't eat sushi. A lot of people don't like sushi.

Or maybe he said "can't eat sushi", I don't remember. But either way, 'can't eat sushi' could mean:

a) I'm allergic
b) I dislike it thoroughly
c) I throw up when thinking about eating raw fish on cold rice
d)
I have a moral objection to eating raw animal flesh
e) I haven't been able to eat fish ever since that traumatic goldfish incident in college
f) my grandparents were held in a Japanese internment camp and sushi always reminds me of the injustice
g) I prefer my raw fish fresher - straight from the guppy tank at Wal-Mart
h) I can't help but feel one of the fish might be Nemo, caught as he was making his way home to his father
i) I just watched Happy Feet and my life has been changed by it's conservation message

I pointed out to my sometimes clueless husband, that I could certainly go to a Japanese restaurant and order something off the menu that wasn't sushi, but apparently that never occurred to him... or he secretly wanted to expose me. Probably the latter.

Well, apparently this guy told his wife, who then apparently decided that my not eating sushi of course had to mean I was pregnant and then proceeded to tell all the other nosy women at church. Then two weeks later last night, we got a call from a whole other person in a whole other family who said, when KoH answered the phone, "Hey, I hear Alice can't eat sushi, I guess that means she's pregnant. Congratulations!"

What is it about needing to be all up in other people's business? Not enough Brittney Spears and Anna Nicole gossip on TV these days and so people have to fill their time with my life? It's a poor substitute, let me warn you about that right now.

I know this isn't a huge deal... it's not like I'm a teenager who got knocked up in the back seat of a Chevy and was trying to just 'go away to summer camp' before anyone noticed. People would eventually figure it out - even if I never said anything. But why am I, the preggo in question, not allowed to choose the time and manner in which I disclose my current condition? Why is it necessary for people to call me up and say, "I know something about you... wink, wink, nod, nod, know what I mean?" like they've just beat you in the race to discover a cure for cancer?

We have tried to keep this news a little close to the cuff for our own reasons. Close family and friends know, but given our past history of having a child with a genetic disorder that is described as "not compatible with life", we calmly and rationally chose not to make a big announcement before the results of some of the genetic testing we have to go through, only to have to make another big announcement when and if we found out something might be wrong. In a very weird way, I feel like I lucked out with the great kid I have in The Dormouse (our second daughter) and am pressing that luck in wishing for a another healthy child. And because of that, I have not even spent a lot of time discussing the pregnancy here - I just don't know how to feel yet or talk about it and won't for another few weeks.

Interestingly, the few people at work whom I've shared this information with have been inCREDibly respectful of my wishes and have even asked me if it was alright that they share the information with their husbands before doing so. Am I unreasonable to expect the same consideration from people with whom I go to church?

If I had been on the receiving end of the phone call, I would have certainly either told her it was none of her business or even been a little more creative with the comments:

"Who told you that?"
"If I'd wanted you to know, I probably would have told you."
"I know I've gained a few pounds, but geez!"
"Well if you call having a four pound tapeworm pregnant, I guess I am."
"Yes, but I'm not telling anyone until we figure out who the father is."
"I'd really rather not discuss the alien abduction that led to my condition."
"Oh that? Angelina Jolie rented out my uterus."
"Guess that doctor who tied my tubes is gonna be paying me a settlement."

immediately come to mind. But my oh-so-transparent husband got caught off guard and fessed up. So now I have to endure four more weeks until the amniocentesis - talking about this pregnancy with people I'm not close to and don't feel supported by while not really even knowing how I feel about it myself. I know it should bother me less, but it really cheezes me off.

I have always been told you should not ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you see a head emerging between her legs. I think that's a good rule of thumb to follow. Even if you have pretty good evidence to the contrary, it's not appropriate to ambush them with their own revelations. Just sit back and wait for them to bring it up.

That is all.


*climbs down off soapbox, dusts off pant legs, stomps away*

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Happy Feet

Posted on 4/04/2007 09:15:00 AM
I finally saw one of the most hyped, over-marketed movies of 2006 yesterday. I rented it for The Dormouse and me to watch, and since I'm assuming that there might be a few people out there who are as behind the movie watching times as me, I thought I would write a review so that others too might know of the feelings I had while watching this masterpiece of cinematic animation. So with no further delay, here is my review:

Happy Feet (2006)

....


....


What the f***?!??


The End

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A Rose by Any Other Name is a Lily

Posted on 4/03/2007 09:50:00 AM
Early on in the pregnancy with our three year old, I felt free to discuss the names we were thinking about with others. I got; "Ooooooh... I HATE that name.... and here's why...." Then a treatise on why that was absolutely the worst name anyone ever thought of in the history of mankind would follow.

I've always been amazed by people with the cojones to make comments like that to someone - especially a stranger. I mean, when you meet someone new for the first time and she says her name is Monica* your first response is never to suck air through your teeth and say, "sssss... Monica is such a... common name, isn't it?". But I can't tell you the number of times someone in line at the Post Office would say, "What will you name the baby?" and then comment on exactly why they couldn't allow me, a perfect stranger, to go forward with whatever abnormally wrong name I was thinking about at the time and how it was wrong, Wrong, WRONG and no one has ever been wronger, Wrongy McWrongster.

My brother was always quick with whatever mean-spirited nickname kids in school would come up with to tease and demean her. I think he never quite got over having his named rhymed to a body part when he was in first grade:
"If you name her Anna, they will say 'Anna Banana'."
"If you name her Stella, they will yell, 'Hey Steeeeeelllaaaaa!'"
"If you name her Madge, they will say, 'Hey where's your Palmolive? You're soaking in it!'"

Yeah, some of his protests were a bit out there, but if you ever want to know how some bratty kid will eventually make fun of a name you're considering, my brother is the person to ask. The problem is, he can think of a silly kids' taunt for literally any name. He's even got one for my name - and my name doesn't rhyme with anything. So there weren't really any names that would pass muster with him. His opinion didn't deter us from any of the names we considered back then, but it did give us wholly new inappropriate nicknames for our kid. Bonus.

My mother just had ideas of her own and preferred flowers:
"Well, that's okay, I guess, but wouldn't you rather name her Lily Rose? Or how about Daisy? I love Daisy. Oooo... Amaryllis! Knifophia? ....Clematis?"

Friends had more visceral responses:
"Oooooo, I knew a girl named Julia in grade school.... I HATED that girl. She was mean. So I can't stand that name now."

Strangers in the grocery store also amazingly had opinions on what we should name our unborn child:
"Oh... Eileen? Tsk... I wouldn't go with that... too much like the serial killer Aileen Wourmos."

I finally figured out that names should simply not be discussed until it was all official. After weeks of grief, we made a blanket policy that we would not discuss possible names with anyone. ANYONE. No matter how close or far removed they were from our family. It was a bigger secret than the Manhattan Project. That was one piece of advice I gave to Monica when she was expecting: don't tell anyone the name. Not even me. I trust myself no further than I can throw me.

We didn't really settle on a name until a few days after The Dormouse was born. Until that time, we called the baby Spot and Rover whenever my mother tried to weasel the name we were actually thinking about out of us. This irritated her to no end and made me smile. I'm evil that way. But after the second day in the hospital, when the nurse came in for the fifth time with the birth certificate and a pen and my doctor announced, "You know after four days, all unnamed babies go home with me.", we decided that it was time to declare to the world what the name would be.

We had narrowed it down to several that we liked before heading to the hospital, but even then hadn't been able fully decide ourselves. I know it sounds weird, but with our first child we knew what her name was before she was born. She told us. I can't describe it so I won't try, but we were both confident that that was what she wanted her name to be. The Dormouse gave us no such assurances and if she knew her name, she wasn't telling. I was learning toward one or two, but completely without confidence about any of them. Once I met her, I pretty much immediately knew what her name should be, but hesitated because I knew it would be a source of consternation with friends and family. Ultimately, I tried to talk myself out of it but couldn't. It means something to me and I will be able to talk to her when she's older about why we chose that name for her and hopefully she will carry the strength I find in that name with her as she grows and makes choices in her life. I hope she'll be as proud of it as I am.

Once it was on the birth certificate, we figured people had to stop complaining about the name because now it wasn't just a random name, it was The Baby's Name. But even then, it was an if-y thing and we endured well-wishers who kept reminding us that we could still change the baby's name legally up until a year after birth. Did you know that? I did not.

My mother still isn't fond of it, and prefers to call The Dormouse by a version of her middle name. Which I think is great. One of the reasons we chose the names we chose was so that she would have options of what she wanted to use without having to resort to being called Julie A, to distinguish her from Julie B and Julie C in her kindergarten classroom. There aren't a lot of easy nicknames for her first name, but her middle name lends itself to all kinds of shortened versions and diminutives, all of which I like and use. I figure when she's older, she can chose the one she wants and have her friends call her that. It shouldn't affect us at home much anyway, because we more often used the pet names that float around in our house: porkchop, cita, dormouse, mug, goofball, kid, ratgirl... etc. (Yes, she will have a thick skin by the time she goes to public school.)

Since the last baby was Spot, we are calling this new baby Speck. We have learned our lesson and won't be sharing any of the names we are thinking about with any of our family until it's official on the birth certificate. Just don't ask.

*names used in this post are for the example only and none are actual names we were considering... please do not be offended if this is your name. Unless it's Monica - cause everyone hates Monica, right?

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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