Sunday, August 28, 2005

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish...

This weekend, we spent about two days with our very good friends Cathy and Kevin in beautiful downtown Frederick, Maryland. We drove up on Saturday, arriving about 4pm, and we leave tomorrow (Monday) as soon as they kick us out.

Athena has done very well in the car. The drive up was about six hours total including a Ruby Tuesdays stop and a McDonald's "Shake Your Sillies Out" stop. Then today, we drove her an hour to Baltimore to take her to the National Aquarium, which she really seemed to enjoy. She especially liked the sharks and the electric eel tank, which had lots of brightly colored plants.

The dolphin shows have been cancelled, since they just welcomed a new baby dolphin into the school (or whatever you call a group of dolphins). But we did get to see other dolphins (not mommy and baby) as they swam around and played. Finally, we ended at the "petting tank" where Athena met a sea star, a crab of some sort, and some rocks.

After the aquarium, we headed over into the inner harbor to meet Chris' sister and her husband for an afternoon dessert. They live just outside of Baltimore and were kind enough to drive in to meet us.

After returning to Frederick today, we decided to go out to eat for dinner and walked a few blocks to a local brewery/grill. Athena was being a bit squirrely, so at Chris' suggestion, I offered her the lemon from my water. She started nibbling on it immediately, and much to our surprise, she actually ate large chunks of it, rind and all!

Then, I ordered the Fish and Chips, thinking she would have some fish. After picking through some of my french fries and some of Chris' pizza, Athena discovered the tartar sauce. I will admit that this particular tartar sauce was quite nice, as it included lump lobster meat, but I am still surprised at Athena's next move. She picked up a fry, dipped it in the sauce, then sucked all the sauce off of it. We laughed, and then she went back for more. Needless to say, several french fries and a couple of ounces of tartar sauce later, we cleaned her up and headed out. Is there any nutritional value to tartar sauce at all? I sure hope so!

Anyway, a good time has been had by all. We hate to leave, and I'm always so sad when we do part company with them, as they really are the sorts of friends you'd like to have living down the street from you rather than several hours away. But we shall return... and probably in greater numbers next time! So be prepared, Bruce family!

Friday, August 26, 2005

An Update on the Walrus

Soon after I finished writing my last post about being constantly full and not being able to actually eat, I shut down the old laptop and noticed that the pain in my tum-tum was decidedly different. What is that? Is that... HUNGER?

Soon, I was in the kitchen, devouring anything I could put my little paws on, including a tube of Pillsbury biscuits (I did bake them first). And I felt okay. I thought perhaps the worst was behind me.

But alas, although now I am not uncomfortably full all the time, I am having a hard time knowing WHAT I am. Am I hungry? Am I pukey? Am I full? And if I think I may be hungry, anything I think to eat makes my stomach turn.

So this morning, I loaded up on carbs. Bread, really... okay, to be more specific, another tube of Pillsbury. After that, I felt perfectly awful. I almost couldn't go into work (I'm on a night shift tonight). I took a 45-minute nap (all that time alloted me) and struggled to get dressed and get in the car. As I drove into work, it dawned on me... hmmmmmmm... maybe I should have some PROTEIN! I tell you, a pregnant woman is a brilliant woman, n'est-ce pas?

So I got some chicken strips (I couldn't be late for work) and munched on as many as I could without filling up or getting sick. I ate them slowly, and I only got one down. Later, I went back and had another one during a meeting full of remarkably tolerant people (KFC has a pretty strong odor... not much you can do about it). Now, the final strip is in the fridge and it is calling me.

This protein plan seems to be working. I am also wearing my sea-sickness bracelets, so it is easier to tell when I am hungry vs. when I am just not feeling well. I'm still not in tip-top shape, but at least I don't feel like if I take a step I will collapse.

Now, a question for all those out there who have been through this (or perhaps those of you in the medical field). I have had cold chills almost every day since I found out I was pregnant. And it's been in the 90s here. I can't find any medical documentation of why this may happen. I do NOT have a fever... I have checked several times. Does anyone know what's up?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I Am the Walrus

Okay, I promise I will not lean this blog toward a pregnancy blog... well... no promises actually, but I really will try to mix it up. Today, however, I speak to you about pregnancy.

I am officially ten weeks pregnant. That is 1/4 of the way done. 75% of this pregnancy is still ahead of me. So why do I feel like a giant walrus?

You may remember when I told you about my cravings, that unlike my first pregnancy, this pregnancy has me eating every two hours. Well, as of two days ago, that is over, my friends. Yesterday and today, I have barely been able to eat breakfast and lunch, and I haven't been able to eat dinner at all.

I am not feeling nauseated, really. Let me describe it the best way I can... Picture eating Thanksgiving dinner. Now when I say "eating Thanksgiving dinner," I mean starting with the little olives and pickles and corn cob thingies all the way through the potatoes, stuffing and turkey (for my vegetarian friends... extra helpings of the potatoes will be fine), then CONTINUING IMMEDIATELY on to dessert -- pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, or any combination you may normally enjoy. You know that feeling you have right after you eat all that? As if you might explode if you simply pointed gently at your belly? Now, imagine feeling like that ALL DAY. You feel that way while you sort books out of boxes onto carts, as you bend down to the bottom shelf to retrieve that title for a patron, and as you walk across the library just to get to the breakroom so you can sit down for a cotton-picking minute. Are you miserable? I thought so.

So at lunch time, I still really wasn't hungry, but since I was scheduled to be on desks all afternoon, I knew I had to eat something -- last chance and all. I had a Chick-fil-a sandwich and then forced down about four waffle fries, simply because I paid for them, dammit... I needed to eat at least a few! And I have been paying for it ever since. All day, I feel like a giant walrus must feel... flopping around on flippers dragging that huge belly across the floor. I have been WADDLING today, and I'm not even showing! I can't wear my pants anymore, though... apparently my belly remembers what it is supposed to do, and it is doing it right now... way before it is necessary.

So I don't have slimy skin, a big moustache, or long pointy tusks... but I am the walrus... koo koo kachoo.

Monday, August 22, 2005

One Day We'll Wonder When She Will Shut Up

Athena is talking now. It's only a word here and there... Mommy, Daddy, doggie, kitty, see, yes, no, baby, and she does this little Tim Allen grunt for "What?" She isn't constructing sentences yet, but she's right on track for language.

She also cries a lot more frequently than she did. She gets very frustrated very quickly (not unlike her parents, I have to admit). For instance, tonight she was trying to pull her beloved train out of the toy box, and had not quite lifted it past the top of the box. Therefore, it kind of hung up on the thing, and rather than lift it further, she fussed. However, when I said "Lift it up more," she did, and successfully obtained said train and stopped said fussing.

In the spirit of saying a positive, then a negative, then a positive, I must say that she gives the most fantastic hugs now. You can ask, "Can I have a hug?" And she smiles really big and toddles over to you very fast and throws herself into a full body hug. It's quite lovely, I have to say. All those months of thankless nursing are finally paying off a year later.

Her hair is still very long. I have not given in to the urge to cut it. And I think I will be able to hold out until we go to Disney. The ladies at daycare managed to put it up in pigtails the other day. I tried, but couldn't manage it. But then, you know me and hair...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Today, My Sister Nearly Blew Up

Although it has only barely made the national news, there was an explosion in San Francisco today. A transformer under the corner of Post and Kearny blew up, injuring ONE person! Just one! With a big fireball and everything. Linda works one block away and heard/felt the blast. She called us immediately thinking it would be all over the news and that we would freak out... which we would have, had it been all over the news. As it was, I still had to dig around on four hours after it happened.

But anyway, she is fine, most of San Francisco is fine (although the woman who was injured was apparently severely injured), and life seems to be puttering on as usual there. I'll be curious when they identify the cause of it. I just imagine some little cockroach walking across a wire and setting off the chain of events...

There is a better, longer story here if you are interested...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Tribute to My Husband

The other day, my friend jl (a frequent commenter on this very blog) completely out of the blue, started telling me how great my husband is, mostly as a father, but also as a husband. And she happens to be a lesbian, so in my mind, this is really quite a tribute. She has seen him with me and with Athena, and I was so impressed to hear her say such great things about him. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who notices. And again, tonight, he did something worthy of public praise.

When I was pregnant with Athena, I took great pride in the fact that I had absolutely no unusual cravings. And I really didn't. I certainly craved fried shrimp or Mexican food from time to time, but as anyone who knows me knows... that is completely normal. I also crave a nice red, juicy cheeseburger from time to time, which sucks when I'm pregnant, because I'm only allowed a pinkish, not-really-juicy burger.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, this has not been the case this time around. About three weeks ago, I had to have some green olives or I was simply going to explode. I did, in fact, go to the store and get a jar... ate about five, and haven't touched them since. Still, it did feel good.

Then two weeks ago, I got a MAD craving for chocolate eclairs (with custard... not those cheap Harris Teeter knock offs) at about 9:30 at night. I was sorely tempted to head out to Wellspring to get one, but I wasn't sure they were open past ten, and it would have taken me just about that long to get there, so I talked myself down from the ledge and didn't give in.

Last week, I started craving yellow cake with chocolate frosting. The cake mix kind. Duncan Hines, pudding in the mix. I could have made one, but it seemed downright silly to make a whole cake just so I could have enough to squelch a craving. Finally, after three days of trying to push it out of my mind, I went to the store and got a small cake, but the closest they had to what I wanted was marble cake with that white sugar icing. I had a piece, and hated it. It's still sitting on the counter downstairs. I need to just toss it.

But tonight, I carried out the ultimate stereotypical scenario. Athena was about ready for bed, and all I could think about was a Nutty Buddy. You know the ice cream of which I speak? Those cones coated with chocolate on the inside, then filled with vanilla ice cream, then dipped in chocolate and nuts at the top? And I couldn't put it out of my head. I had already taken a bath, so I was in my robe. I debated... should I get dressed and go out to get one, or should I ask Chris? I have really been trying not to play pregnancy cards with him, as he really doesn't fall for it anyway, and I don't feel an overwhelming need to make him miserable whenever I am miserable. Don't get me wrong... sometimes I do just that, but it isn't intentional, I swear.

Anyway, this is why I sing the praises of my soulmate tonight. Because he put on his shoes, grabbed his keys, and, after explaining to our neighbor why he was heading out (I have to say that if I were him, I would have told someone too... somebody needs to be the martyr in this), he went to the store and bought me a whole box. In fact, he did one better and bought the Klondike brand, which has that pseudo-chocolate-esque stuff down the middle of the vanilla ice cream. YUM!

And to my credit, despite the fact that I was not at all hungry and was, in fact, feeling a bit overfull, I ate a whole cone, and I felt BETTER after doing so. So it really was medicinal... not just some wacky craving that really did not need to be acted upon.

So I've done it. I've sent my husband out at night to get me ice cream. Fortunately, I didn't wait until midnight or anything. It was only 7:30. But all the same, I love the man for doing it. I love him for many reasons, but he HATES to go back out at night for anything... especially to go to the grocery store.

Thank you, honey. You are da' bomb!

The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

This is a book that Oprah once chose for her esteemed book club, which would normally make me resist it with every bone in my body. I am not one to want to follow the crowd when it comes to reading...

However, my book club selected this book, and I read it from cover to cover. It was depressing, yes, just as any Oprah book usually is, and just as Anita Shreve usually is, but the style and language were easy to read and really engaging. Through a combination of "here-and-now" chapters and brief flashback chapters, a woman discovers that her recently deceased husband (a pilot) was leading a double life. Worse yet, she never even SUSPECTED a problem. This raises all sorts of philosophical questions about trust and secrecy and sharing in a relationship. It also reminds us how important it is to really communicate.

Maybe I'm sentimental because I'm pregnant, but I would recommend this. It's a good summer read, since it goes so quick, but I wouldn't recommend reading it while on a plane. The pilot dies in an explosion over the Atlantic. Not really something you want to tuck into at 30,000 feet.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


One of the side effects of early pregnancy that I felt last time AND that I am experiencing again this time is sleep. You may ask, do you mean you sleep all the time or do you mean you can't sleep? And to this I say, yes.

Basically, I cannot stay awake very well for more than two hours at a time. Obviously, I do it, because it is generally considered poor form to sleep at the reference desk or while checking in books. However, on a day I don't work, I generally take a nap in the early afternoon (often the same time as Athena) and then on any given day, I generally have trouble staying up past nine pm.

But then, I find myself waking frequently in the middle of the night due to my overactive pregnancy bladder, and then I can't get back to sleep. Like now, as I write this at 4:30 in the morning, munching on Triscuits. The Triscuits are not meant to help me sleep, except for the fact that they will hopefully stop the intense hunger I am suffering, which will, in turn, make it possible for me to return to peaceful slumber.

The insomnia hasn't actually been too much of a problem over the last week, because Athena has been waking around 2pm for no apparent reason (perhaps teething, perhaps nightmares) and wailing uncontrollably until one of us goes in there to comfort her. To get her back to sleep, we have to rock her for hours (usually two to three hours) and we have been switching off in this task some nights. There have been some nights when Chris has just done it himself, bless him, since she seems to calm faster and easier in his arms. But I certainly have done some time in the rocker. Often, after that period of rocking, I am able to sleep through the rest of the night with no incident.

Tonight, however, Athena is sleeping like an angel (do angels sleep?!) and here I am, cramming crackers into my face and wishing I could drift back to dreamland. I am counting the days until the second trimester, when my body will supposedly return to a fairly normal state... unless you count the lump that will form in my abdomen. But I'll take a lumpy tummy over this any day...

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Rabbit is Dead

You may or may not know the old story about how a woman used to know she was pregnant. There are several versions floating around out there, but basically, a woman's urine would be injected into the rabbit. If the rabbit died, she was pregnant. Or, another version of the story says that actually the rabbit HAD to die, because they had to look at her ovaries to see if she had reacted to the pregnant woman's urine. I'm thinking that either way, I'm certainly glad we now have little sticks to pee on. Poor bunnies.

So yes, the proverbial rabbit is dead. We are expecting a wee one round about March 21. Then our family, as far as I'm concerned, will be complete. Chris still makes noise about a third, but I've told him he can have the third one if he wants.

So far, this pregnancy has been more difficult than my first. I started feeling sick at about three weeks, which is before you can technically do a home pregnancy test. I finally took the test a few days before you are really supposed to because if I hadn't seen that little plus sign, I was going to call the doctor to have my head checked. The nausea was really significant.

And last time, I could barely eat. I lost a good ten pounds in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Not true this time, unfortunately. I'm maintaining a steady state of overweightedness. Joy. And I have to eat every two hours or so from waking until midnight! And I'm craving cake. *sigh*

I have included our first ultrasound in this post. When we did this with Athena, we saw a little black and white fuzzy lima bean on the screen with a little E.T. heart lighting up as it beat. So this time, Chris and I were certainly looking forward to seeing our little plantlife, but we weren't going in with high hopes. And, as we started out, everything looked the same as before. The machine seemed newer and fancier, but it was the same black and white blur on the screen. Then, the technician flipped a switch and... what's that? A HEARTBEAT!!! Normally, you can't hear a heartbeat until the 10th or 12th week. And there it was. Strong and regular. And then, just when we were sure the surprises were through, she announced it was a 3-D ultrasound! She flipped another switch and we were presented with images like the one I've posted here. A lima bean no more, our little offspring clearly has a head, little arms, little legs, and a little tail! (That tail does go away... we all had one). This image really doesn't even do the images we saw justice. The still shots are not as clear as the motion. (Oh, and if you are wondering, the little blob toward the bottom left is the yolk sac -- baby food).

So there's the big news! Chris thinks it's a boy, and I have to side with him (even though I really want another girl) because this one has been so different. However, I hear that no two pregnancies are the same... which is really unfortunate. My first pregnancy was a breeze. I was really hoping for a repeat.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

How Not to Sell Me Something

First, I should apologize for taking so long to post an actual interesting story rather than just book reviews. We are having some issues with our wireless network (again) and I haven't been able to plug in with the laptop. I'm home sick for the morning, so thought I would seize hubby's computer, which is hardwired in, so I could share this little tale with you.

Last Monday afternoon, I called Chris at work and explained that my Mexican Craving Gland had taken over control of my body and the only hope to cure it was to go to La Rancherita for dinner. He agreed, which was odd in itself, since he normally fights going back out to dinner once he is home... and also since we are broke and promised ourselves we wouldn't eat out so much. But, he also knows that once the Mexican Craving Gland takes over, well... all hopes of a normal home life are gone until it is stopped.

So I arrive home Monday night at my normal 6pm-ish (damn commute) and I am pretty much starving. I dart into the house, planning to scoop up the baby and toss her and Chris into the car to head back out. As I turn the corner into my living room... what's this? A twenty-year-old blonde, cute and freckly college kid is in my chair! And she has... what's that? A SALES portfolio.
Muttering a small curse under my breath--part of this curse was dedicated to my husband's endearing weakness for cute sales people--I smile and allow myself to be introduced.

She's selling an "educational kit" designed to help me teach my child at home. Yippee. I'm starved. So I say, none to kindly, "Look, I am starving and need to eat now. Could you possibly come back another time?"

"Oh SUUUUUURE," she purrs... and we set up a time for tomorrow evening. We go get Mexican food. I am happy.

Tuesday evening arrives, and so does she. This time, and this is partially my fault because I actually agreed to the time we arranged, she arrives just as dinner is ready. So she sits at the kitchen table while I stand in the kitchen cutting up the baby's chicken, and she launches in...

"So do you KNOW what I LOVE about APEX?!" she coos. We have already learned that she is from Montana.

"No... what?" I take the bait.

"People here are SOOOOOOOO interested in their kids' eduCAtion!"

Oh brother.

"Did you know that children learn more between the ages of 0 and 5 than at any other time in their LIFE?!" she continues...

I nod. I did know that. I am a parent, and I studied to be a teacher. I've read a book or two.

"Well, is little Athena in daycare?" she asks.

"Yup." I offer, helpfully.


Oh, good. I am so relieved that the 20-year-old approves of my choice for child care. Of course, it turns out that she was setting me up.

"You know... most daycares today won't even put the ALPHABET up on the wall, because they don't want to make the kids who are less able feel bad that they can't read..."

Um... what?! "I'm sorry... I don't mean to call you a liar or anything, but I assure you that we pay quite a bit of money for a daycare that we researched pretty thoroughly. And I have seen alphabet flash cards in the room for the two-year-olds. They DO teach children the alphabet, among many other things..." I'm getting pretty annoyed now, and my food is getting cold.

"Oh." She tries another angle... "So have you lived in this neighborhood long?"

I'm thrown a bit. "Three years."

"So you must know..." and she opens up her book and starts rattling off my neighbors' names. I only barely recognize one or two, but apparently, this tactic is designed to make me bow to peer pressure. If ERIC down the street bought this product, then I must buy it too! Steam is coming out of my ears.

"So," she pauses, "are you interested in seeing these books and software products."

Now, I am normally very nice to sales people, as I used to be one. But I NEVER knocked on doors without previously being invited in. And I am watching my egg noodles get cold. There is very little in this world worse than cold egg noodles. So I turn on the mean meter.

"To be perfectly honest," I say, "I am not interested. However, you have come a long way, and I am willing to at least look at what you have. But I will tell you up front that I will probably not be buying."

I have to give her credit. She doesn't take it personally and she plows ahead. "What if I tell you how incredible affordable it is?"

Now, you and I know that I just admitted we really didn't have the money to get Mexican food the night before, so I am tempted to say, "you mean less than $20?" But I refrain. I DO say, "I would like to see the quality of the books..."

She opens her bag and produces a book. I have to admit, the books were nice and colorful, and I certainly see that if I were homeschooling, they would really come in handy. But since I turn over an amount of money equivalent to a second mortgage to pay other people to educate her all day, I am not really thinking we need these, even a little bit.

Then she describes the software. This software (a collection of CDs) is designed to be used when she is in grade school. Like 4th-6th grade. 4th grade is 10 years away for her. Miss Montana called in "an investment in the future." I call it "coasters" since I am fairly certain any application I buy today is not going to work on my computer in 10 years. I mean, 10 years ago, I was using a Mac Performa with a 2X CD-ROM drive. Oh, and did I mention that they are all about science? I'm equally sure that science will change a bit in 10 years. As a librarian, I wouldn't recommend an encyclopedia that was more than 5 years old... So I'm failing to see the value in the "value added" products in this package.

So I ask her the price. She gives us the spiel about how much people would expect to pay for this number of books (citing that picture books cost $25 each, mind you -- I'm a librarian, so I kind of get them for free, at least for a little bit at a time). She comes up with something like $1200, which I imagine is true for the number of books and coasters we would be getting. Then, drum roll please... she announces it can be ours for $450!!! The best part is, I can pay now, and the books will be here by the end of the summer! Whopee!

So I politely decline her offer to take my money, and she looks me square in the eye, opens her own eyes wide, and says, "Don't you want to help your CHILD?!"

I almost threw the cold noodles at her. Fortunately, Chris shuffled her out the door while I muttered to myself about how people are duped into spending way too much on their kids. Then I look around my house and remember that I am one of those people. I may have passed up this one, but I know I won't escape forever...

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Traveler by John TwelveHawks

Don't you just hate it when you really look forward to a book because you have heard so many wonderful things about it, and then the book turns out to be a total turd? Alas, this is what happened to me with The Traveler.

Basically, The Traveler = The Matrix. There are chosen ones (well, really one, when you get right down to it, but there are several with similar talents) and there is a Vast Machine that gives all the people on Earth an illusion of freedom when it is really all a mock-up. Only the Travelers can see other realms, and therefore reach enlightenment. And the Harlequins have sworn to protect them through all time.

But The Brethren have wiped them all out (except two Travelers and about four Harlequins) and... oh, forget it. You know the rest.

This book is the first in... wait for it... a trilogy... that has already been sold to... wait for it... a major motion picture studio. The only thing that makes this book remotely unique is that the author may actually believe this stuff. He lives "off the grid" (no credit cards, phone numbers, etc.). Apparently, he doesn't want the Vast Machine to know of his whereabouts. Apparently, he doesn't think they will notice all the money spilling over to him from the major motion picture studio. Apparently, he hasn't been taking his meds.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I shall try not to put any spoilers in my review. However, you may comment all you would like and include spoilers. That said, do not open the comments window unless you wish to read spoilers.

My review...
Harry. Brilliant. Dark. We knew that person had to die eventually, didn't we? Is Malfoy as bad as he wants to be? Is there a more complex character out there than Severus Snape? Harry and the gang hook up. More angst in one chapter than in a whole Sweet Valley High book... oh, but it was GOOOOOOOOD angst.

When did my little Harry grow up to be such a man? *sigh*

When is book seven coming out? Isn't it a shame this has to end one day?