11.05.2011

tell it like it is.

I had a coffee date with a good friend from Bend today. It was not only refreshing to see her face, but also to know that I am, in fact, still able to carry on a little adult conversation. I know this because of 3 things: (a) she doesn't have kids and yet left without that glassy-eyed look of boredom, (b) we covered a myriad of topics having nothing to do with Fancy Nancy or spit-up, and (c) I finished my coffee. While it was still hot. [Okay, warm. But it was 45* outside.]

As we were waiting for my coffee, my daughter spilled her milk. (In her defense, if they're going to call drinks kid-friendly, the manufacturers should all get together and decide once and for all whether these 'kid-friendly' drink cups are going to need to be squeezed or sucked through a straw. Because if you're 2, you'll always choose the other one and it's just plain mean to keep switching it up.)

In any case, it prompted me to look at my friend and share a thought I have at least once every day: "When I look for a way to sum up being a mom, I think to myself, 'of all the things I read and was told about being a parent, no one brought up the fact that parenthood means you have to teach someone how to pee in a toilet'."

There must be an unspoken rule between moms that since you had to suffer through it, learning by trial and error, you're damn well going to make certain the next chick suffers the same fate. It's just plain mean.

I hereby break the evil cycle-of-silence.

1. While your nursery may be full of cute little baby clothes, your baby doesn't start out cute. It poops really weird colors right out of the bat. You'll think the child swallowed a pound of tar because, at first, that's exactly what the poop looks like. And it smells like burning tires. Also, the baby comes out looking like a lizard.

2. Like this little person? Good. They're going to be your roommate. For 18 years (probably more). And if they wake you in the middle of the night screaming like Steven Tyler, you can't call the cops, move out or take them to see Judge Judy.

3. Regardless of the monetary savings and bonding that takes place while breastfeeding, at some point you will pray that your child will suddenly develop an allergic reaction so that you can have the satisfaction of shoving your husband out of bed at 2am because it's his turn to bottle-feed.

4. No amount of organizing or obsessing will negate the inevidable plethora of 4-foot baby toys you'll trip over in the middle of the night while trying to sneak up on the little sleeping angel.

5. You will, in secret, tirelessly search wikipedia for some foreign illness to contract that makes it impossible for you to be the one who gets up in the middle of the night to put the binkie back in and re-swaddle the little monster.

6. You will pretend to forget having read the choking hazard warnings on the binkie packaging while examining it's ventillation holes to see whether you can string through a strip of duct tape and fasten it to the back of your baby's head.

7. Those quiet pops and snaps your ankles make that you will never have noticed before become land mines that wake a baby out of the most deep sleep, whereby the idea of holding your pee for the rest of the night suddenly seems the better option.

8. Get HBO. Because infomercials are even more pathetic in the middle of the night. HBO plays 80s movies like Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club. Completely worthy.

9. Strange older women will not only give you unwelcome and unwarranted opinion disguised as advice, they'll also touch your child without asking. Carry mace.


10. Nap when the baby naps. This is crap. Bake a pie, take a shower or order something over HSN. It's your chance to feel normal for a minute. You can sleep later. Like when you're 70.
 

9.20.2011

the straw that broke it.

Several months ago my husband interviewed for a position in Seattle. The position he started 4 weeks ago. No, there wasn't a 4-month background check investigation that uncovered some unsavory past life...or some poor planning that led us to the late start. They hired the other final candidate and that was that. Except she didn't work out.

Which brings us to August. Me? 8 months pregnant. David? Re-interviewing. Me? Freaking out. Him? Freaking out. Great. Same page. Let us continue.

Over the course of the last several weeks, my fab friends and supportive family have been closing ranks and selflessly helping me get through the seemingly impossible: an inter-state move, 9 months pregnant, without my husband. As Ethan's due date has been fast-approaching, the questions have been geared less toward, "What can I do to help?" and more toward, "How are you? You look so calm. I have no idea how you're keeping it together."

Well, for those of you beginning to wonder if I contained some abnormally gross capacity for stress, today I dropped my basket.

Sunday afternoon my husband, my MIL and I were loading up the last of the things from our Lake Oswego home into the U-Haul bound for Seattle. I went to the car to load it up with a few things I needed to get ready at the hotel (a.k.a. 'home' for the next several days until baby comes) for my shower that was to begin in a couple of hours. The key fob wouldn't work. Now if you're anyone else, you're irritated. But me? I'd seen a lot worse the last several weeks. This didn't even register on the stress-ometer. So I did the old-fashioned thing and manually unlocked the car with the key. Then it wouldn't start. The lights were on (literally) but no one was home. Then the key wouldn't come out of the ignition.

Digging into my vast array of auto-knowledge, I assumed it was the battery. We found a neighbor willing to jump it. No dice.

If you're anyone else, you're pissed. This stubborn german car is messing with your schedule and your life. You need to do your hair, makeup, get dressed, and have to be there in half an hour. Me? I'd seen worse the last several weeks. And we had a plan: my MIL called AAA and they were going to meet her after my shower to see what they could do. David went to the hotel to watch Emily and relieved my mom to come pick us up for the shower.

Great shower, by the way - so laid back, so fun, it was just my speed that day. My friends were so gracious, told me I looked great (total lies, and I love them for it) and gave generously to a woman who is basically abandoning them in less than a week. Thanks, ladies. I'm going to miss you.

AAA couldn't get it to start. They couldn't get the key out either. Now if you're anyone else, you're freaking out. Me? I'd seen worse the last several weeks. So I did the natural thing and had them tow it to the dealership. They open at 7a the next morning, and surely there's a perfectly logical explanation. A perfectly logical and inexpensive explanation.

Then, with a slap to the forehead, I remembered I drive a german-engineered vehicle. I think those little jackasses must have a "Screw with Those Idiot Americans Department" whose mission is to find the most expensive way to wire a vehicle so if you breathe wrong it costs your first born to even run the diagnostic. Which is, naturally, required to diagnose the problem that will inevidably cost thousands more.

But I digress.

We head to dinner to celebrate my husband's and MIL's birthdays. While we're waiting for our food to arrive, my MIL gets a call on her cell. She goes outside. She returns. It's AAA. They're telling her the dealership is closed (Really? Closed at 8p on a Sunday? Didn't see that one coming.) and that they'll need a credit card to pay for the overnight storage fee. I kindly explained to the dispatcher that I had spoken with the driver prior to towing my vehicle, we agreed he'd leave it at the dealership, it was my responsibility to make contact with them as they would be closed for the day, and that (most importantly) I would not be paying a storage fee. Now if you're anyone else, you're frustrated and likely sitting down with the foot of your hand on your forehead and your elbow on your knee while on hold. But I'd seen worse the last several weeks. A few moments later, she came on the line and confirmed everything I'd said. I pleasantly ended the conversation and headed back to dinner.

The one morning I've had to myself in ages, in my own hotel room with 5 pillows, 3 different door locks and a 'do not disturb' tag on the door, I woke to an alarm. I needed to catch our service advisor the second he walked in that morning to tell him about the car so he could rummage around in his bag of tricks and find the perfectly logical and inexpensive explanation I was certain would be forthcoming. I apparently called a moment too late and he was already off and running. So I waited until 7:30 when his scheduler showed up. The one nice thing about these german-engineering-dealership-types is that you always get to deal with the same service advisor and the same service tech whether you come in for floor mats or with a massive electronic failure right before you're due with your second child and a move to Seattle.

Again, I digress.

Twenty seconds after I hung up with the scheduler briefly explaining the situation, Adam (our trusty service advisor) called. He has a 3 year old and a 21-week old. He said he'd immediately triage my misbehaving car, and could obviously hear the familiar and eerily calm pregnant lady tone in my voice. And, a bit of good news: he had a loaner for me. --Good news because if I went into labor before my car was fixed we could have a smidgen of a problem.

Several hours later we had nothing close to a logical or inexpensive explanation. He couldn't get the car to repeat the prior day's glitches, but not to worry! He did find an old service bulletin describing a similar issue several other vehicles had experienced, and that it could be repaired by replacing a large portion of my electrical system. Now, if you're anyone else, you're passed out on the floor. But me? I'd seen worse the last several weeks. No problem.

My MIL did a little digging on the internet and found that while Adam's theory was sound, there was an alternative and far less expensive solution that would require a little extra attention on my part when I started the car and put it in gear, but would cost exactly $0. Perfectly logical and inexpensive explanation in mind, we decided this was the route we'd go until we got up to Seattle and had the time/energy/mental capacity to have it properly repaired. Done and done.

Hardly a cloud in the sky, this morning we packed a picnic for our last playdate with Emily's playgroup and drove to the dealership to pick up my car. It started like nothing had happened. The playdate was fun and I was, finally, beginning to feel relaxed. We (and by 'we' I mean my MIL, godblesshersoul) finished the last of the touch-up paint in the house and turned over the keys. Such relief. Right up until the moment we got on the I-5 onramp toward the hotel and my dash lights went out. And the gauges failed. And the power steering went out. And the turning signals wouldn't work. In 5pm rush hour traffic.

That's when I dropped my basket. Thankful the dealership was still open, I called Adam: "tell me what to do." I actually used those words. I had nothing else in my bank to use to combat the stress. I was suddenly on empty. The contractions began and so did my lower ligament pain. Thankfully, they both subsided a few minutes before pulling into the dealership, albeit nearly a half-hour later. I asked my MIL to take care of Emily and went inside. I told him in no uncertain terms what time frame we were dealing with, what I needed him to do and by when, handed him my keys and began transferring our items, yet again, from my car to the loaner. Sometimes it's having control over the small things that helps keep your you-know-what together.

It's likely we'll be running some kind of loaner vehicle circus between tomorrow, the hospital and Seattle, and back again to pick up my car once it's finished being repaired. It's probable it will involve several thousand dollars in parts and labor, plus the inevidable few hundred un-foreseen funds for some 'clips' they needed to pin this part to that. It may not even fix the issue, which would be a real treat, because at this point they're making (and I quote) an educated guess as to what will take care of the issues. Of all the times in my life I can think of, I have to say this is the absolute LAST on my list of convenient moments in time for this to have taken place.

Someday soon I hope to write about the other dozens of rediculous occurrances that have dotted the landscape as of late and, up until this afternoon, had made me thinking, "no problem. I've seen worse these last several weeks", as if I was Winnie the Pooh contemplating the rain. If I hadn't been here to witness it myself I'd never believe it. But for now I'm going to pick up my basket, and call it a day.

9.08.2011

holy crap.

Months after Emily was born, I remember sitting on her bedroom floor, looking up at my husband and saying, "Holy crap. We have a kid." He smiled and nodded, as if to say, been there, thought that. Of course if I'm being honest, I still find myself looking in the rear view mirror at my now 28-month-old singing The Wheels on the Bus and think that very same thought. Holy crap.

Today I sit here 38 weeks pregnant watching Dr. Oz (who, by the way, is talking about how to cope as a woman over 40 thanks, buddy) leaning back at a135-degree angle on David's hotel bed, thinking some familiar thoughts: Holy crap. I'm pregnant? When did that happen? How...? Never mind. Someone stop the train and let me off for a minute. And while you're at it? Please stop the moving train, the new job train, and the when-the-bleep-did-I-turn-33? train.

People have been asking me lately how I'm doing. It's a loaded question, and there's no short answer, so I really appreciate them even asking. The totally false and yet completely honest version is that I'm fine. Now if you're a man, you think that's the end of the story (hence, the totally false version). If you're a woman, you realize no woman uses the f-word unless she means it. It's like Pork (the other white meat): fine is the other f-word.

When I was selling real estate I operated at a different pace. That normal was different than today's normal. Then-normal was a higher base level of stress, a faster pace of activity and a constant multi-tasking way of thinking. The biggest thing I remember changing once I became a SAHM was the stress level. Probably because the other two didn't change that much, they just looked different. For example, as we got into a routine I could feel my stress go down - and better yet, stay down. However, the fast-pace and multi-tasking just changed their appearance: from showing 15 houses in 4" heels to leaping over the exersaucer to catch the toddler before whacking her noggin on the corner of the trunk. Good thing I gave up the heels with the office.

How am I doing? I feel more stress than my biggest closing month ever in real estate. --Which also happened to be the same month I was personally dealing with my largest family crisis to date and the month I was getting married. The difference is that I'm pregnant, and that's something I take very seriously. I refuse to let the circumstances around me affect the health of this baby. So, I'm doing my best to take in today. Tomorrow is tomorrow.

How am I doing? I voluntarily shipped off my husband to begin a life we couldn't because there was no way we were giving up our fab OBGYN and hospital 6 weeks from Ethan's due date. He's my best friend, the grounding presence in our home. Just imagine for a moment how super-calm it is in our house right now. Super-calm like a freaking EF-5 tornado.

I don't have a to-do list. I have several. I had to break it down into categories. I have a baby TDL, a moving-out TDL, a moving-in TDL, a household-stuff-that-has-to-get-done-whether-we're-in-the-middle-of-a-move-or-not TDL, a yes-i'm-grateful-for-the-design-contracts-but-I-had-more-time-last-month-when-we-first-talked-about-this-uber-huge-project TDL and an Emily-survival TDL. I need a freaking personal assistant to organize the to-do lists.

What I know is it will all get done. Ethan will be born. I have an inordinate amount of help. My husband rocks and brings me to tears with pride. And if it doesn't all happen as gracefully and with as much order as I'd like, I'm pretty certain I'll be the only one that notices.

So these days we survive by way of videos to Daddy, dress-up in jammies and high-heels, and chocolate ice cream fixes whenever we darn well please. Can I get an Amen?

video

Family beach trip and one last relaxing vaca for Daddy.

Shopping in her closet with her baby...and heels...and jammies.

Because shopping is an event.
(Easter dress, dress-up hat, new shoes - that's all her.)

Early-morning flowers delivered by the hotel bellman from that wonderful man I married. Not sure whether it makes me miss him more, or less.

8.08.2011

ode to costco.

As I pulled into a parking space at the grocery store earlier today, I realized I remembered nothing about the trip from the house. Nada. Apparently, my subconscious had taken over and driven us there, safely. Or aliens did it. Because I was in such an exhausted haze I couldn't even muster the energy to try and remember if I remembered the trip. Ugh.

Slumped and a little cock-eyed in my chair, I adjusted the rear-view mirror as low as it would go and asked Emily if she wanted to go grocery shopping.

"Hmm. No thank you, mommy. I want go to Costco."

I knew I had a brillilant child. I put the car in reverse and mustered the energy. It was just across the street. Thank God.

Costco is a wonderful place. They have a bazillion parking spaces, which means you hardly ever have to parking-stalk to get a decent spot. Unless you shop on a Sunday, in which you could easily confuse it with Disneyland in the middle of July. Also, they have double-lines separating the spaces so you're safe from door dings even if you park next to a dualie with wide mirrors.

Given my sad state, I grabbed a cart before we got out of the parking lot. I sank my 5'1" frame over the fabulously wide handle until my forearms were flat against it and I was barely putting forth any effort to push us along. Emily cracked up thinking I was trying to play. We were set.

Costco is unlike any other grocery store; there is so much more to see, and therefore no need to bring a bag o' tricks to get you through it. There are plenty of happy, smiling people in black polos speeding around in their Reeboks at a breakneck pace, which alone is enough to occupy a 2-year-old's mind.

There is a jewelry section...through which you can wheel your shopping cart , thankyouverymuch (i.e. your child). And who doesn't like shiny things?

There are oodles of clothes. Princess dresses. Ironless Men's shirts. Baby clothes. Women's activewear. Tacky chino pants not seen since the late 90s. Tutus.

Then there are the toys. Perfectly displayed so your kid can see every detail eye-level from the shopping cart. Which, to your typical shopper, sucks. Today, it was entertainment. I was moving slowly anyway, so Emily got to oogle all she wanted. Win-win.

I've never taken the time to figure out what kind of schedule those sweet little old ladies are on that give out the samples, but today they showed up. And we didn't have to wait in a single line. Or wait for anything to be prepared. There wasn't a single sample that wasn't kid-friendly. It was absolutely sample-shopping bliss.

Lunch a la Costco:
- turkey breast drowned in Yoshida's teriyaki sauce
- buttered whole grain toast disguised as white bread
- dried mangoes
- fro yo

Completely balanced.

Usually we don't get out of Costco for less than $150, but today I only bought 2 items: chocolate shakes (in lieu of making breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, breakfast, lunch, snacks...on days like this) and rotisserie chicken (it's what's for dinner, babe). Total was $20.48. For someone who doesn't carry a change purse, finding exactly $0.50 in the little pocket where I keep my cell phone to accompany the $20 I had on-hand was totally awesome. I don't know if I would have remembered the PIN to my debit card if my life had depended on it.

I handed Emily the receipt and we trotted toward the exit. Emily started wiggling: "Smile? Smile?" Ah, yes. The last few times we had been to Costco the person at the exit with the highlighter had drawn a smiley face on the receipt and handed it back to her. Today was no different. *sigh o'relief*

An hour after arriving, we got in the car: two completely satisfied shoppers. Thank you Costco.

7.25.2011

teaparwees.

There is this aisle in every grocery store where you can find all kinds of sugars, flours, baking soda, chocolates, corn starch and these pastel-colored sugary decorations for cakes. Not long ago I referred to it as the mystery aisle. As in I don't bake, am seriously phobic I'll burn down my house, and therefore am just going to skip over this one and pretend I have no idea what's down there aisle. Brownie craving? No problem. I knew just where to find them: toward the front of the store in a fancy little display right next to the fresh-baked chocolate cookies and apple turnovers I never knew I definitely needed.

Then followed the I don't bake period. I had discovered a love for cooking, food, and how fun it was to experiment in the kitchen and come up with something for which people came away asking for a recipe. Cooking? Yes. Baking? [In a cheesy Italian accent] Faaget abaaut it. I wasn't dumb. I knew my limits. Well, mostly. There was that one time I tried deep frying rice noodles and caused a kitchen fire. But I digress. In the IDB period I had overcome my total denial of it's existance, yet continued to avoid it because when I peered in from the threshhold, pretending to be interested in the latest version of Cheerios that was on the end-cap, I could clearly see most women down there knew exactly what they were doing. You know the type. The super-mom with 6 kids in matching, hand-sewn outfits, all of whom manage to behave while grocery shopping? Yeah, that just wasn't going to happen.

My demise began when, not long after we moved to Portland, I began making treats for David's weekly staff meetings. [Sidenote: Not only is this an excellent way to make your husband's employees love him, but it also comes in handy when his boss has a mouth full of sweet teeth.] Lucky for me, we had a stash of flour, sugar, baking soda and salt at the house, in addition to a shelf full of stellar cookbooks. Alas...I eventually ran out of sugar. Drat.

I'm happy to say I have recovered from my baking-aisle phobia and can now enter without intimidation. And those scary ladies? They're actually quite helpful. Did you know it's called The Baking Aisle? Yep, there is an actual name for it. Who knew?

We grocery shop on Monday mornings after we hit the gym because of two reasons: (a) my husband hates grocery shopping, and (b) most people there are moms and retirees. My favorite grocery-shopping crowd. If Emily has a meltdown, it phases no one. They've either been there or are going through it. This morning we hit the baking aisle to pick up some dark chocolate chips for these evil loaded rice crispy treat thingys for David's staff meeting tomorrow. But we also needed marshmallows. Did you know these things come in chocolate, multi-colored, strawberry, plain, large, extra large and mini? That's quite an industry.

I slowed at the front of the aisle, where we usually breeze on by. I looked at Em's face and waited for her to realize where we were. She looks over at the mallows, back at me, back at the mallows, and screams, "TEAPARWEES!" Then, she immediately forces herself to calm down, puts her arm out, palm up, and says, "please Mommy, marmawows for teaparwees?" Of course as soon as I smiled back she let it out: the classic Emily giggle. The kind of giggle that comes with an all-over body wiggle and a smile that reaches to Texas.

What is a tea party without snacks? And lumps for the sugar bowl? She goes all out for teaparties. She invites us and a couple of her stuffed animals, and sits us down. She goes to her dress-up stuff and decorates Daddy with a tiara (which is almost always on backwards), choosing who is going to wear the floppy blue hat and who gets the Pollyanna-ish bonnet with the ribbon in the back [don't worry, honey, after much internal struggle I am choosing not to post the photo]. She pulls out her dishes: a tea pot, sugar bowl and spoon, creamer, napkins, plates, tea cups. She folds the napkins into triangles and hands them out. Then she serves everyone tea, asking them whether they'd like one lump or two of "sugar" (enter: mini mallows), doing likewise with the cream. It's absolutely one of her favorite things. Daddy's too, make no mistake.

So, in a sacrifical-lamb sort of way, I suppose it's good that I overcame my Baking Aisle issues. Because what is a tea party without the marshmallows?



7.01.2011

High Maintenance.

There was a time when the only circumstance under which you'd find me in a shop with baskets of plush toys and brightly colored cardboard books was because I had a client whose kiddo was having a hard time with their move, and I was seeking some goodies for a care package.

No, the shops I frequented at that time were of a slightly more grown-up variety. The kind where if a woman entered with her 2 year-old, she received immediate and constant attention. The retailers would nod at one another and slyly follow her around at a 10-foot distance to ascertain whether her child was going to be a bull in their china shop. They were full of pretty, shiny things. Glass and silver, newly polished and openly displayed. Silky collections of clothes and gobs of fabulous shoes.

Since a year ago when Emily began walking, the only circumstance under which you'll find me at one of those pretty, shiny stores is with my 2 year-old strapped in (tightly) to a stroller with plenty of snacks. For instance, I lost my sunglasses less than a month before we went to Hawaii this past May. Just days before our trip I sucked it up: I packed up the stroller with what had to be a pound of goldfish (a sure thing in our house), dried cranberries, water, a powdered juice packet, and the promise of a treat if we survived the excursion. We headed to the sunglass store at Nords where I made sure the attendant overheard my pep talk with Emily about our special treat afterward if she sat in her stroller while Mommy shopped, and went for it. All of a sudden I knew exactly what I wanted, was able to recall in great detail exactly what my lost glasses looked like, and 5 pairs later I was done. I had never found a pair of sunglasses so fast in my life. Not exactly the slow, 'let's try something new and exotic' (before we go back to the same old thing), type of sunglass shopping I had done in the past, but successful nonetheless.

Last week a girlfriend of mine who is roughly 9 months ahead of us kid-wise sent me a text I'll not soon forget: "Wanna do a kid-swap next week?" Seriously, as much as I loved her before, the woman is a genius. A freaking genius. For a week I daydreamed and formulated my plan.

THE RULES:
1. Starbucks.
2. Thou shalt not plan anything that can be done [properly] with a 2 year old.
3. If it isn't raining, you will be outside.
4. If it is raining, you will be outside.
5. Thou shalt enter stores with pretty, shiny things, and look back and smile when no one is following you.

So I decided on the only place I could think of that was Amanda-friendly and kid-unfriendly. NW 23rd. If you're familiar with this part of Portland, it requires no explanation. 23rd is a wonderful street of shops and historic homes in the Alphabet District of Northwest Portland, between Burnside and Northrup. There is a Starbucks at one end, Restoration Hardware in-between, and dozens of boutiques along the way. About the only part Emily would enjoy is the bumps in the sidewalk from the old, shady trees.

As romantic as it sounds, I realized why being a stay-at-home-mom is far more affordable than I originally thought it would be. If you don't enter Pottery Barn, you don't buy anything at Pottery Barn. If you aren't invited to view the new bath collection upstairs at Williams Sonoma [A dream, by the way. I'm totally moving in.], you can't buy anything you suddenly can't survive without. I had snatched a great street-side parking spot just a few storefronts down...which came in handy as I had the need to carry my bags to the car after leaving each shop.

In my defense, I texted David as I was spending all his money. He didn't reply, come to think of it, until hours later...but he did come home last night. So I suppose I can toss the receipts, right?

6.21.2011

perspective.

A little perspective is a great thing, albeit painful if you're the one receiving it. But, today I needed some and therefore got some. It's like when you buy a car and suddenly everyone is driving the exact same banana-yellow Yugo. How is it you didn't notice all these copy-cats before? Certainly they must have just purchased theirs because it's unfathomable that you hadn't noticed all of them out there until just now.

Saturday I was 26 weeks pregnant. The baby's organs are well on their way and those cute little fat rolls are starting to form under his skin. By this point most pregnant women have completed their genetic testing, done their glucose tests and feel like they're headed toward the home stretch: the 3rd trimester. Home free.

With Emily, I had some moderate nausea the first couple of months [thank you, husband, for holding my hair] but after about 10 weeks started to feel like a million bucks. I was that annoying pregnant lady who felt great, looked pretty good and was able to maintain the work slacks hemmed for my plethora of 4" heels clear through to the end. It wasn't until the last half of my 3rd trimester that I felt some serious exhaustion and discomfort.

This pregnancy couldn't be more different than if I were wearing Birkenstocks to fashion week [Sorry Bonnie, they're not cute. Even with socks.]. I had some moderate nausea my first couple of months, then a couple months of feeling great. Now I feel super-stretched out and can't sit in one position for more than 10-15 minutes because my back starts talking back to me. My hormones? What the bleep. Sobbing [no, seriously, not crying...sobbing] to the freaking Pretenders on the way home from the park? Who are you and what have you done with my body?

Today it was 75* by noon and Emily and I had met up with some moms at the fountains in downtown LO. Perfect day, great ladies, fun kiddos, cranberry orange muffins. Bliss. The conversation noodled around, and at one point I re-joined the conversation (after convincing Emily duck poop was not cooler than the fountains). A few months ago, a mom I've come to adore miscarried right about this same time in her pregnancy. She was sharing how she was grateful for the physical abnormalities that followed because it was easier to deal with than the reality of the situation.  She had been far enough along that she had all the typical post-partum symptoms; but no baby to get her through it. Suddenly my aching back just didn't seem like such a big deal.

After the Pretenders incident, we got home and I put Emily down for a nap. She was exhausted and went down early, thank God. I didn't want to have my little meltdown in front of the peanut. As I stood in the kitchen with my hands on my forehead in total disgust with myself, I realized this wasn't the first time I had this kind of a moment. When I was mid-way pregnant with Emily, a friend who was also pregnant (and also several weeks ahead of me) had miscarried. I realize now that I can barely count on two hands the number of close friends who are either unable to get pregnant, stay pregnant or who have experienced a late-term miscarriage. Perspective? I can never find a good thesaurus when I need one...there must be a stronger word.

It's no secret I'm a Christian. Not a bible-beating Christian, but what my husband and I refer to as a beer-drinking Christian. I think we're relatively normal [look, I said relatively], but there's also no doubt in my mind this universe was no accident. And so I believe having had the privilege of knowing these women, often during these painful moments, has meaning. If it's to give me some perspective, fine. If it's to appreciate each day whether or not I feel overwhelmed by hormones, that works. If it's for some unknown reason, I have no doubt God will smack me across the forehead one day and show me what I haven't yet realized.

A. A view or vista. // B. A mental view or outlook: "It is useful occasionally to look at the past to gain a perspective on the present" (Fabian Linden).

video

6.16.2011

father knows best.

Sunday is Father's Day. When I was a girl, it meant buying those cheesy-poof snacks from the Avon lady in the antique looking metal tin, delicately paired with an obnoxious tie my Dad would be obligated to wear at least once a month. In public.

I can hardly remember my 20s being anything short of a decade that gave solid validity to every grey hair on my parents' heads. But then came this man named David. Suddenly my career-minded singleness was a blip in the rear view mirror. One date and I was hooked. He was perfect. Don't get me wrong, he is flawed. But he's perfect for me. He is kind, loving, compassionate and patient. He has incredible strength and is like a hot mug of cocoa on a snowy day. He calms me. And, lucky for me, he adores me too.

One day 2 years ago he made me a Mommy. He's knocked me up again, naturally, because he's way too great of a father to stop at just one. If you don't think you can love your husband one smidge more than you do...wait until he holds your baby. And kisses her on her wrinkled little forehead. And says, "Hi. I'm your Daddy."

I'm a solid sleeper. And if I wake at night, I can't get back to sleep. This comes in handy with a newborn that doesn't sleep a lot, but not so much with a 1 or 2 year-old that's just having a rough night. Stay-at-home mom's can't exactly grab an extra shot in their Starbucks and take it easy at the office the next day. So David, a feat of nature, gets up when she does. He sweeps her up and sings Twinkles until she is safely back to sleep in his arms. Sometimes he stays for extra cuddles, just to be sure. He never complains. If anything, he relishes the time between just the two of them.

At no time in my 20s did it ever occur to me that the sexiest thing about a man would be to see him hold my child. Not once back then did I think hearing my husband tell me I was beautiful as I was desperately seeking a comfortable sleeping position would make me forget about my aching pregnant body.

At 30 I became pregnant with Emily. At 31 she was born. At 32 I became pregnant with Ethan. And at 33 he will complete our little family. And just a few days ago, I decided to stop taking my Dad for granted.

Monday my Dad came for a visit from Bend. Bend is a wonderful place. It's like a breath of fresh air. And so is my Dad. Watching him with Emily reminds me how much fun I had as a kid...and why. My mom is an amazing woman, but my Dad was always the fun machine. He made funny noises, funny faces, and could drive his car without it's key. [Awesome!] Some things never change. During one visit last year I looked over at the cackling to find he had put a sock on each of his ears and was making elephant noises. My daughter never fails to laugh her hardest when he is here to visit. He doesn't take himself too seriously. He can take a completely ordinary action and turn it into knock-down fun.

Tuesday we went to meet our playgroup at a park in Tualatin. He followed Emily around the whole time, playing with her and making sure the bigger kids didn't run her over. She can, of course, hold her own, but who would take that protective-Grandpa-duty away? At one point one of the moms said to me how she'd never allow either of her daughter's grandparents to babysit. They didn't get the toddler thing. They weren't fun. Another noticed how my Dad was helping her son with a toy but doing it in such a way that it made the boy think he was doing it all by himself. The moms were in awe. Suddenly, I realized: my cool Dad was now a cool Grandpa. My daughter was going to benefit from all the awesomeness I grew up with. How cool was that.

It's amazing what some time and perspective will do. Thanks to you both. And may you enjoy a very happy Father's Day.

6.10.2011

houston, we have a problem.

6:30a . I awaken to my handsome husband kissing my forehead to say goodbye as he leaves for work.

[Let's just say it went downhill from there.]

7:24a . I shoot out of bed to the realization that I must have fallen back asleep.

*profanity*

7:25a . My beloved routine of having a little 'mommy time' before the kiddo gets up crumbles before me like a stale rice cake.

7:30a . The sunshine of my life greets me with a 'hallooo mommeee!'

7:31a  . The sun quickly sets as she races past her bathroom in defiance, screaming NOOOOO! diaper OOOOOON todaaaayyyy!'

7:32a . Time Out. A. Really. Long. Time. Out.

Awesome.

7:49a . A glass of milk is prepared to ensure some peace and quiet while breakfast is prepared.

8:05a . Breakfast. Not mine, hers. Because to avoid even the slightest chance of an aftershock, I give in when she asks to trade. Seriously, yogurt and cheerios is fine. Yum.

9:15a . We head to the gym and figure the morning is behind us.

Silly me.

11:20a . I walk in to the playschool to pick her up. She bolts out the opposite door into the lobby. I turn the corner just in time to see her pick up the water pitcher at the coffee counter and pour it all over herself and the floor. But mostly herself.

Double-Awesome.

11:21a . We head home for a change of clothes.

11:34a . We head back home because I forgot the list of things I need at the store, taking a quick look around for my mind. Nope.

11:47a . As we're driving to the grocery store (on the highway at 40mph), a silver sedan bolts out from the right right in front of me, turning left. Apparently I had a sign on the top of my car saying, Don't worry about it - I have great brakes. Even the cars next to me honked at him out of sheer outrage. I gasp and try not to freak out.

*massive profanity, albeit silently in my head*

11:48a . We pull in to the nearest parking lot because Emily is frightened and curled up in her carseat.

11:50a . We collectively decide on the only logical course of action: shoe shopping.

12: 05a . Bridgeport Village. I consider kissing the sidewalk.

1:30p . This year's jellies in-hand, we head home for naptime and a hormonal melt.

2p . I drop my head onto the Betty Crocker cookbook as I realize even a chocolate chip cookie recipe isn't going to help.

2:05p . I partake in the only junk food in the house not requiring Betty: Wheat Thins, a few slices of cheese and a Diet Coke.

2:08 . I realize the one thing missing in my little pity party is a good gossip mag.

2:10 . Thank God for Days of Our Lives.

3p . And Dr. Phil.

6.02.2011

whoa, nelly.

I know, two blog posts in two days. I could write every minute of the day if it weren't for this cute little blonde obsessed with tea parties.

Today's bedtime routine was the same as every other day: bye-bye toys, a story (read twice), songs, prayers, bed. But this afternoon prayer time was different. Usually I say the prayer, thanking Jesus for the super-fun playdate or picnic with our friends, or whatever else we did that day. But today she interjected some ideas and I couldn't gather myself enough to say another word.

Me: "Dear Jesus, thank you..."

Emily: "...for Daddy. And work. And his friends..."

Every morning Emily asks if Daddy is home, and I say he's at work. The other day she looked a little sad at my response so I tried explaining how Daddy going to work it means Mommy gets to stay home and play with Emily. Also, we make treats for his staff every week and talk about how they're for his 'friends' at work. I figure it's a good lesson in sharing and self-sacrifice, as giving up a plate-full of homemade treats every week is a pretty big deal whether you're 2 or 29(ish).

She continued, "...and Bailey, and Brystol, and helping."

I nearly lost it. Helping? Are you serious? She's 2. Helping.

Then this smile came over her face: "And arms, and leggies, and tummies and doctor. And eyes, and mouth, and hair, and hands."

She had this sincerity in her voice, as though she genuinely realized her eyes, mouth and hair were blessings. When all I could do was smile, she reached out her arms to give me a squeeze. (The best squeeze, where she holds you as tight as she can and says, "squeeeeeeze!")

If there's one thing I want my prego-brain to remember about today, it's that having a child around reminded me that the small things in life are a blessing. (That includes you, peanut.)


video

6.01.2011

scooping up the field mice.

My kid loves to sing. She'll sing to her dolls and hum while playing, but mostly she wants to sing along with an audience. More often than not, Miss Independant wants me to start her off and then (for lack of a better term) shut up and smile. She's so polite about it, first showing me the palm of her hand and then, "mommy, no please."

All my life I've heard grown-ups refer to being a grandparent as "payback". This euphoric look would pass over their faces as they'd rub their hands together at the mere thought of their babies having babies. But I argue that these satisfied grandparents had it backwards, and missed all the fun the first time around: children are an excellent excuse to get back at your parents.

So when Miss Emily wanted the mom-bank to suggest a song to sing during a car-ride the other day (and my mom just happened to be present), I leapt for the opportunity.

Me: "How about...'Little Bunny Foo Foo'?"

Emily: *perplexed stare*

My Mom: "Oh, n...."

Me, cutting her off: "Little bunny Foo Foo, hopping through the forest, scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head..."

It goes on, but it's basically a tale of an insubordinate rabbit that goes through the woods terrorizing these poor field mice. A 'Good Fairy' comes down, gives him 3 tries to shape up, and threatens him with her turning him into a 'goon'. The best part is that once the Fairy returns to wherever it is that she came from, the rabbit goes back to doing exactly what he was doing before: giving the singer the opportunity to repeat the annoying little tune as many times as they see fit. Which, if you're me, looking forward to the pure, unadulterated joy I experience when seeing my mother's painfully squinting face as I sing this little ditty, is a lot. *bwwaahaha*

Unfortunately, after the 7th or 8th round we arrived at home and the song came to an end. (Looking back it was probably a good thing because my husband was also in the car, and this song is only funny if you're the one singing. While nearly worth the marital conflict, it probably wasn't.) As we're exiting, my mom says to me, (in this I'm still your mother tone of voice) "You know that song is a testament to bad parenting, right?" Which wasn't really a question, of course. Drat.

Alas, she's right. I mean, who gives a misbehaving kid 247 chances to "be good", as the song goes? Even 3 chances is 2 too many in our house. Double Drat.

Still, seeing that squinty look on my mom's face as she genuinely tried being irritated while her uber-cute granddaughter discovered a new song was totally worth it. I win.

Step aside, Kate Spade.

First pair of flippies. Thank you Poppy!

The seasoned traveler.

Scooping the ice cream out of Daddy's hair. Oops!

5.11.2011

two of a kind

Back in the days when I was working (with clients other than 36" tall variety), I regularly moved at a pace only now seen if Emily escapes my grip in a parking lot. One day in August 2008 I had an hour to spare in-between appointments and it dawned on me that I was late. Two weeks late. We had been trying to get pregnant for 6 months (this time), but it wasn't happening. I had made an appointment to begin the first stage of fertility treatments and thus had put it out of my mind. I headed to Fred's, one of the few places you could grab a Starbucks, a pregnancy test, and experience a clean bathroom.

If you've ever had a positive test preceeded by several negative ones, you know that the head of R and D at First Response has to be male. It takes the full 3 minutes for the stripe to tell you you're not pregnant. Conversely, it takes exactly 1.5 seconds for a positive result to appear. It's the only time I've ever taken a clothed seat on the throne in a bathroom stall, and also the only time I've been grateful it was available. I didn't know whether to break into the ugly cry, shout 'woopeeeee!' or happy dance. So I did them all, as quietly as I could.

A few moments later I tucked the test back into it's package and safely inside my purse. As I left the stall praying I could drive to my next appointment without getting into an accident, I heard a familiar voice. It was my pastor's wife. With all 3 kiddos in tow. And then another familiar voice. A good friend that worked at the in-store WAMU branch. Lovely. I handed out quick hellos and bum-rushed the door.

I did manage make it to my car without spilling it, where I waited out the remainder of my spare hour to compose myself before heading to my lunch appointment. Ever wish you had a camera crew following you like the Kardashians? Me either. Except at that moment. What a photo op.

I had a moment of clarity in the car and realized it was Friday. The Friday before Labor Day weekend. For someone who had been praying for that second stripe as long as I had, there was no way I was waiting 4 days to confirm via blood test. Enter stage left: best nurse ever. She managed to squeeze me in to the lab that afternoon, rush the results to my OBGYN and call me with the news before the lab closed at 3p. I'd never been so excited to see the sharp end of a needle. I even got a Hello Kitty band-aid from the lab tech.
 
My pregnancy was great; I had never felt better. Other than some nausea in the first 2 months, that Mary Poppins clown had nothing on me. Then the kicks began, as evidenced by this post in February 2009. I had two outstanding baby showers and wham! baby Emily came into our lives.

...

Fast forward (I'm talking the super-fast fast forward button with 3 arrows) two years and here we are. May 2011. 20 weeks pregnant. Up until yesterday, my pregnancies had been mimicking one another. A little nausea the first couple of months. Carrying it in front. Feeling great. Craving the occasional Outback bacon cheese fries and gallon of Tillamook Strawberry ice cream. So why did I keep finding myself calling the baby 'he'?

Yesterday, in similar fashion to what we did the first time around, we planned a date night and ventured out for a little delayed gratification. Our ultrasound and check-up appointment was at 3:20p, dinner reservations at 5:30. The ultrasound tech hid the photos that showed the baby's gender and my Dr. bit her lip. After receiving news I was carrying a super-healthy baby we headed out for El Gaucho, one of our favorite Portland restaurants. The top-secret results made it to the maitre-d's hand still rolled up tight, in a bag with 2 bibs we had found in Hawaii the week prior: one pink, one blue. Instructions were for her to read the results, wrap up the corresponding baby bib and lay it on us after dinner.

before

Now, it wouldn't have been so bad if the hostess hadn't greeted us already knowing the purpose of our visit. Or if the manager hadn't stopped by to congratulate us and say how excited he was for us (twice). Or if two servers in addition to ours hadn't managed to wiggle in for our tableside service to chat up the nervous parents. By the time our server (whose name was Emily) brought the fruit and cheese plate at the end of our meal I thought I was going to jump out of my skin. I threatened David with the idea of waiting until the birth, upon which time he grabbed the bag off the table and gave me the look.

It was a BOY. A real, live male to bring his G.I. Joes to Em's tea and dress-up parties. I knew he was a boy! I knew it. I didn't get that feeling with Em, but weeks ago I just knew it was a boy. Thank God we were on vacation at 18 weeks and had to wait until now for the ultrasound, because there is n-o mistaking the difference between our first baby's ultrasound and this one.

the restaurant even threw in a cigar with an 'it's a boy!' wrap

proof!

high five to the 'rents

yanking the food bell

sucking the thumb
As you can see, he put on quite a show during the ultrasound. It took the tech 10-15 minutes of poking and prodding to get him to stop yanking the 'food bell' (aka umbilical cord) long enough to get a clear shot of his heart.

ethan michael  ::  due to arrive september 23, 2011

4.15.2011

put on your big girl pants.

Emily makes me feel like a kid. This morning, for example, she takes her blue crayon to my bathroom mirror with the kind of abandon that would put the most liberal of artists to shame, forcing me to step out of the room and swallow my laughter before taking the crayon box into the dreaded "uh-oh toys" area. But what did I really want to do? Grab carnation pink and join in. Then I remember my husband and the massive pregnant-belly-sized pot of boiling water I'd be home when he realized what I'd done. Aw, nuts. Uh-oh toys it is.

We now have a Big Girl in the house. No more binkie. Big Girl bed. Big Girl chair. Big Girl snacks. Big Girl plates. Big Girl tea parties with real marshmallows. She makes a hundred 'choices' for herself each day (the carefully crafted kind that we give her to choose from). Where is my baby? Someone stop the presses. Yeah, now would be great. Thanks.

She knows how to use a Blackberry. This isn't news in the Lenke house, however. She sent Daddy her first text around 15 months. She has rearranged contacts for me, and called my friend Emily Wells on several occassions to say hello. She also knows how to look through videos and photos. Several times a day she'll come to me with my phone and say, "veeyos?" or "photows?" I call up the menu and off she goes. Last night David was cuddling with her looking through old videos and he said he couldn't believe she was ever that little. Me? I can't believe she's this big. I still think of her as this baby peanut with the bright blues and big smile, weighing in at 6lbs 15oz.

As if I needed another reason to love her, my OBGYN is loving and gracious with Emily. Last month at my checkup Dr. Stewart offered to put the monitor on Emily's tummy and listen to her heartbeat, just like she had done with the baby in mommy's tummy. She was excited until she got up on the exam table and froze. Every other day since, it's been (while lifting up her shirt or dress to whoever would take notice) "baby dawtor? Emi tummy? yeah!" Let's just say she was dragging me out of the elevator toward the doctor's office this morning.

(please excuse the I-just-stuffed-a-huge-strawberry-in-my-face face)

Em grabbed the jelly before Dr. Stewart could get to it, and hopped up on the table. She lit up like a kid at Christmas. Naturally, I immediately called David and said we needed to begin saving for medical school.

4.03.2011

twenty questions

Now that my baby bump is freaking h-u-g-e in comparison to when I was at the same point in my pregnancy with Emily, I am often approached by women: "when are you due?", "is it your first?", "how are you feeling?", etc. [The latter is my personal favorite because, naturally, I'm going to enter into a conversation with a TOTAL STRANGER about the comings and goings of my internal organs during this experience. Mmkay.] But most often the question is, "are you going to find out what it is?" followed by the inevitable "what do you want, a boy or girl?"

It seems like a natural question to ask, but answering the same question a thousand times got me thinking. Do I even care whether it's a boy or a girl? I mean really care. There's always the politically correct "we'll be happy no matter what the baby is" answer, but what about the deep down in your gut "holy crap, what if we have a _______" answer?

David wants a boy. Sorry to blow your cover babe, but there it is. He wanted a boy the first time, actually. But it was a fear-driven response, not a logical one. Every time we'd pass a group of high school girls, see the cheerleaders at a football game, or click past a lipstick commercial his blood pressure would rise, he would look at me and say, "we are NOT having a girl!" He was completely serious. And completely freaked out. It's a good thing we didn't have a cute little blonde-haired blue-eyed baby girl with so much personality she fills the room.

Let's move on shall we?

Being a stay-at-home-mom was never in my 5-year plan. It wasn't ever going to be in my 5-year plan. It just wasn't on the priority list. And alas, there I was with a beautiful baby in my arms, unable to think about anything else. I have the best job. Ever. Seriously, show me another job where you get to play with Strawberry Shortcake (whose hair smells EXACTLY the same, by the way), have playdates every day (total toss-up as to whether these are more fun for the grownup or the kiddo) and get to cut the crust off your peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

For example, yesterday afternoon we realized it was getting close to bedtime and Emily had energy to spare. David asked me, "any ideas how to get her to burn it off?" Moments later she was accessorizing me with beads, sunglasses and headbands for our dance party of Al Green, a little Green Onions and our personal favorite, Ray Charles. David, while certain he needed to remain stoic to preserve his man-card, couldn't help but laugh with us. So fun.

So when the first brave person asked me whether I wanted a boy or girl, I had two thoughts. First, I looked down at Emily and thought, "I have my girl. Whatever's next is the icing." That's how I feel. I have this awesome girl to play with, dress up with, show how to love the Lord and someday respect and admire her husband. If that isn't the cake, I don't know what is.

The second thought I had was to deck the woman. I mean, if we're being honest here, let's be honest. Do I know what I want? I want a healthy baby, you nut job. I want my friend that can't get pregnant to feel what it's like for the flutters to turn into kicks that wake you up at night. I want my friend that just miscarried at 24 weeks to wake up from her nightmare. And while we're at it, world peace. What a question. Next time I begin a similar conversation with a prego I pray I remember to keep it in perspective. "What do I want?" How about "what a blessing." I think next time I'll try that on for size.

3.14.2011

a straight line

I have two favorites during the day: waking up my daughter with today's episode of "Where's The Binkie?" (includes a very serious search of her crib, tossing in the air her bed toys and eventually fishing it out from behind her crib with her golf clubs), and late night chats with my husband on the couch as we pretend to watch whatever is on TV. Given the exhaustion of first trimester pregnancy, our chats the last several weeks have given way to examining the backs of my eyelids.

Baby Bean and I are into our 13th week and thus at the threshhold of the lovely, I feel no pain--bring it on!, second trimester. The last few nights I've actually made it to bed without falling asleep on that uber comfortable shoulder. And so I was available for last night's chat.

"You know, you think you're going along on a straight line, and then Wham! something comes in your path that causes you to turn directions. It becomes this major change, leaving us feeling as though we're headed in a completely different way than we were going; but what's really happening is God is telling us how to stay on His straight line."

[Sidebar: I love my husband. He shows me up in the wisdom category all the time, and I just spoon it up.]

A slough of circumstances brought us to Portland the fall of 2009; none of which made sense at the time. The only thing we knew is God laid out the plan and made it work, undeniably. At the time our lives felt like a go-kart race; twists, turns, and really bad steering (ours, naturally). But once we made the decision to move everything fell into place. I know that sounds as passe as grandma's fruitcake, but there's simply no other way to say it. Nothing was left to question, it all worked.

The luxury of hindsight [Something I personally wish was sold at Costco. In bulk.] has shown us that we are capable of handling the next bend in the road, and so now the prayer becomes that our eyes will be open to see it when it next comes.

3.08.2011

a matter of character

Today my character came into question. Not because I told a massive lie, or because my super-secret mob ties finally came to light, but because of an interview. It got me thinking, what makes for a person's character? We all know that character is one of the few things in life that is slowly built over time, and can be demolished in an instant. Is character a sum of your parts? A quilt made of your life experiences? Or is one's character made up of the things no one really ever sees?

My senior year in high school I took an AP English class, in hopes of skipping ahead a few credits once I got to college. (Bad idea, by the way. It gave me a false sense of security when it came to choosing a 200 or 300 level language class my freshman year. Eek!) The final assignment was a paper comparing two subjects. I don't recall how I came up with the subject, but I compared the Catholic Church's seven deadly sins with modern-day ideas of right and wrong. I chose comic strips out of the Sunday paper to exemplify the modern view of these sins. For example, Garfield = gluttony.

Is your character defined by the most striking part of our personality? How often do we judge a person by the part of them they wear on their sleeve? Obviously Garfield was fat. And lazy. But there were moments he was nice to Odie, right? I'd like to think I'm one of those enlightened folks that can see beyond first impressions and not pre-judge. But then I find myself up-and-down-ing the woman in front of me at Starbucks. *face slap*

I wonder if perhaps a person's character should be defined by the flaws. The wrinkles. The things no one talks about unless you're in close quarters with a best friend. If I drew a timeline on a page, starting with my birth and ending with today, what would the hashmarks represent? Maybe the time in high school that a friend betrayed me and I snapped out of childhood naivete. Or perhaps the conversation I had with a sorority president about what 'kind' of girl they wanted in their pledge class, and what compromises I made as a result. Or the day I turned down a sure-thing for a huge risk that turned out to be the best career move I could ever make. I remember what I was wearing, who I was with and where I was when each of these things happened. They shaped my character, for better or for worse. And yet I struggle -- what is my character?

Some of the most fascinating people I've known were content with who they were; the kind of people that make you want to get to know them because you knew they had a great story. I had a client years ago that walked in to our first meeting with slightly worn sneakers, jeans a few inches too long, a polo shirt that hugged his belly, and a baseball hat worn confidently on the top of his balding head. I knew nothing but his name and that he was looking to buy a ranch. While we were out touring properties, I had to step out for a call. I later learned he eaves-dropped while I shuffled some last-minute details of a closing for a first-time buyer. He decided right then to hire me as his agent because of the time I took to for a $150K client while touring a would-be $1.5M client. I never would have guessed that first day he was the retired CEO of a very large, very recognizeable international clothing company. He referred me the Ambassador to China, for heaven's sake. He was one of the kindest men I've ever known, and I am a better person for having met him. I think of him often when I see people treat others based on first impressions. That is a man whose character leaves little to question, even if he did wear his hat on the top of his head.

I'm still not sure what my character is. For now I'll go with Amanda. Stay tuned.

2.18.2011

to baby or not to baby?

About a year ago, my wonderful husband threw a stick into my front bicycle wheel and said, "I want to have another baby". It was as if he was saying, "we're out of milk" or something completely arbitrary. Being the level-headed rare find of a female I am, I ignored him. For 6 months.

I mean, what the heck was he thinking? Just months before we had uprooted our lives and moved to Lake Oswego. He was months into a new position with a new hotel, I was still navigating through being a stay-at-home-mom, and Emily wasn't yet a year old. I wanted to dump a bucket of ice water over his head.

Notwithstanding the previous completely valid reasons why his idea wasn't anywhere close to the proverbial ballpark, there was another. David and I are only children. Go ahead, bring on the jokes; we're used to it. Neither he or I have any idea what it's like to have a sibling, let alone how to guide an older child to accept a sibling. Or how to settle sibling disputes. Or manage anything that has the words "parenting" and "sibling" in the same paragraph.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, David has the ability to decision-make...and I have the ability to really slow him down. Thankfully, he is a patient man. So over the course of the last year I mulled over the idea of a second baby. I listened more intently to the struggles of my friends with two little ones. I watched relationships between sisters and brothers. I imagined turning points in my life and how they might have been different had I had the ear of a sister or brother.

One evening David & I were sitting on the couch and I told him I was ready. One of the nice things about my husband is I don't have to elaborate. He knew just what I meant.

After 3 months of waiting for our insurance to process our policy change, another to get on my Doctor's schedule, followed by another of super-fun-married-people-things, I sent David into the pantry to fetch some spaghetti sauce for dinner...



You should have seen his face. I never thought he was going to come out of there.

Today we had our first ultrasound. Baby is 9 weeks old, has a healthy 170bpm heartbeat, and was doing the wiggles for us. My Doctor gave me the thumb's up and said we were good to go.

Meet our little bean. Due September 24. *bigfatcheesysmiles*

2.14.2011

hvd.

Yipee! It's Valentine's Day!

*pwhthgh*

Excuse me, I just gagged.

I should be thinking of nothing but sunshine and roses on Valentine's Day, right? Neck-deep in pink Hershey's kisses, roses and sonnets. Well, I'm not exactly a roaring Valentine's Day fan. I'm not bitter from years of being without a decent smooch on the 14th day of February, I just think it's an overly commercialized excuse to gorge oneself in chocolate and then go back to the same old thing the following day.

It's like the 'Sunday Christian' I was growing up (eek...confession); begging forgiveness for my transgressions at 10am Sunday but sneaking out by 11am with my friends to hit the ice cream shop down the street just as it opened, then racing back before anyone knew we were missing. Valentine's Day is like a one-day hall pass whereby you cram in an entire year's worth of unconditional, undying devotion...and then go back to the same ol' thing the next. Enter stage left: *pwhthhwth*.

So today I'm going to be grateful for my family and forego the nausea of too much cacao and not enough sincerity. Sure, my family is weird. They have odd habits (you people know exactly what I'm talking about), wear socks with their Birkenstocks and get far too excited when I mention the word 'Skype'. But they love those they love unconditionally, and not many people do.

After sending me out for a morning to myself including an extra-long (and extra-needed) workout, my Dad sent me a text this morning: "HVD, I love this! :)" Translation: Happy Valentine's Day, and by the way I'm having a blast entertaining Emily...don't hurry back.

When I got back from the gym I found another text, this time from my mom: "Happy love day! xo".

Then there's my MIL; ours is a rare, close relationship sadly not often found on a wife's family tree. This morning's Facebook post: "I forgot to send Emma a valentines card so please give her a big hug and kiss from Baba and Pa. And a Happy Valentines Day to you."
With all the family feuding going on out there, I consider myself more than fortunate to have a family that loves me with the kind of love everyone could use some more of.

So in the spirit of the day, I'll say it...hvd. But don't go thinking it's going to become habit or something.

*pwhthhwth*

2.08.2011

letters to angie

It's been a while since I've blogged. Not because I don't have any material, but because every time I log on to Blogger my last post appears. I read it, it overwhelms me, and I give up. The crazy-cute thing Emily just did or the ironic moment I experienced that day retreats out of my memory and I close the laptop. Today I think I'm just sick of it getting the better of me.

My entire life I've heard the phrase, "be Jesus with skin on." Over time it becomes less meaningful and begins more to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher: "wau-wau-waaaau". But recently I've had the chance to step out of my comfort zone and give it a shot. And boy, did I pick a doozie.


I'm a planner. I know, I know...you're surprised. I'm also annoyingly cautious when it comes to decision-making. My patient husband sits patiently for months sometimes while we pray (and I mull) over an issue before I'm certain we have a green light. But when I heard about Angie and what she'd done, I knew instantly what I needed to do.

Letters are a lost art. I actually like writing letters. My friend Jane will tell you I mail her cards occassionally just because I find one so appropriately inappropriate I can't wait to stick a stamp on it. I write thank you notes because I think if a person takes the time to give a gift, they deserve a hand-written note. I would rather receive a thoughtful card than a gift, because I think they are quite often more sincere. So when I found myself thinking of her the day after the newscast, I traded in the living room at my in-laws for their guest room and opened my laptop. It took a little searching, but I found the resource I needed: Lane County Corrections Inmate Mail Rules and Regulations. What a laundry list.

So I found a regular, non-roller-ball ball point pen, some regular unblemished paper and began. It wasn't hard to find the words, they just came. I told her she was loved, she was forgiven, and that she had someone to talk to if she needed it. I wrote down Psalms 119:105 and told her I had deposited $20 in her inmate account.

Selfishly, I was hoping for a response. When it didn't come, I told myself maybe mail took extra time for screening. After all, she's being charged with aggrevated murder. I could forgive Big Brother for reading the mail of those charged with that level of crime. Then I reminded myself it wasn't about me. Idiot.

I wrote the second letter two weeks later, and the third two weeks after that. The third letter was the shortest of them, as I was beginning to second guess this little endeavor. Did she even want to hear from me? Was I bible-beating someone who didn't want to hear it? Lucky for me, I have a husband who not only encourages me but also tells me when I'm being rediculous.

Then one day, I checked the mail.


It might not look like a thick envelope to you, but to me it weighed ten pounds. I sat it on my desk and waited for naptime.

She had replied to each letter. Each and every letter, the day she received it. [The jail apparently won't give an inmate a letter's envelope, just the contents. I went on to learn people have been known to lace the envelope sealant with drugs. And I had written the return address on the envelope. So she begged the mailperson to write down my address for her so she could write me back.]

I don't want to betray her trust, so I will say only this: the thing that continues to strike me is that she sounds exactly like the girl I remember. For a plethora of reasons, it makes perfect sense and is also nothing short of a tragedy. I wonder if God brought me into her life because I still know her as the sweet 16 year-old high school sophomore.

The only thing more sad than her crime is that I am the only person talking to her about Jesus. Her family has abandoned her, no one has come to visit, and she is dumbfounded and lost. So I will continue to write and pray for the right words. Wish me luck.