Monday, December 25, 2006

It Begins

According to my parents’ original itinerary, Bump should be picking them up at the airport right now.

Instead, he’s going to pick up their luggage.

As you may recall, thanks to my Evil Genius Brother, my parents are coming for a week. They would have left yesterday, but that’s a whole other story involving my mother and a commitment to teach Sunday School for the month December. (That sound you hear is me sighing heavily.)

So, original itinerary: arrival at National by 2pm today.

I should point out that establishing the first itinerary was no easy task. Apart from the whole Sunday School thing (Did I mention it was a class of one student? Trade your days with the January teacher, gah!), my mother frets and dithers about making her connection in Minneapolis every time she flies. It’s not just a nagging concern she has, I’m talking “losing some sleep over it” worry. (That was me sighing again, accompanied now by eye rolling.)

Yesterday on the phone, in order to put her a bit more at ease, I tried to explain that even if they did miss their connection, there are tons flights from Minneapolis to the DC area, and they would still get here without problem. Not only are there multiple flights to National every day, they could catch a plane to Dulles or even BWI as a backup.

My mother called me from Minneapolis this morning, and I was certain she was about to tell me they had missed their connection and had no idea what to do. Instead, she said the flight was overbooked and asked if they should consider volunteering their seats for free tickets. Since they’re coming again once Akutaq emerges, Bump and I advised them to take a later flight. A few minutes later Mom called back to say they had been given two $300 vouchers and first-class seats on a flight to Dulles that left in two hours.

Pretty sweet deal, huh? Granted, the set-dollar amount vouchers are slightly less fabulous than round-trip tickets, but I still thought they made out pretty well. They wouldn’t drink as much booze on the flight to Dulles as an Unpregnant Me would, but they promised to have a drink or two (it’s free, you know. And they’re Dutch).

Yeah, you knew that was too easy, right?

The flight to Dulles was cancelled. Not because it wasn’t full (as Bump and I speculated) but because Northwest Airlines didn’t have a flight crew available. Mom’s gate agent suggested it was due to an ongoing labor dispute with the pilots, and an entire planeful of Christmas Day travelers were scrambling to make other arrangements. Two ticket agents were helping as many people as they could, and long lines of people waited for phones to other reservation agents.

Mom and Dad are now scheduled to land at 10:10 this evening at National. Mom is regretting her decision to give up their seats in the first place, while Dad still insists they won the jackpot.

Incidentally, I’m with Dad. If someone offered you $75 per hour to sit in an airport, would you do it? It’s better than the meat packing plant pays, is all I’m sayin’. Plus, the initial deal of a two-hour wait for a first-class flight and $600 was a no-brainer, and it was impossible to predict the cancellation.

Now, sitting in an airport isn’t the greatest way to spend Christmas Day, particularly when you’re waiting to see your only grandchild. But there are plenty of restaurants and shopping options at MSP, so it’s not a terrible place to be stuck for several hours. My parents took one small tote bag as a carry-on, so they aren’t lugging around tons of bags. And as I pointed out to foreshadow our trip next Christmas, they don’t have two screaming kids with them.

“Yeah, I just have Dad,” Mom replied.

Somehow, I’m certain this is all my brother’s fault.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

You May Stop Scoffing At Me Now

I’ve always had a special feeling about January 17. I sense I’m forgetting something on that day, like a friend’s birthday or a significant event I should be observing. It turns out to be nothing, just a funny feeling that goes away without incident.

Today at my doctor’s appointment, we set a tentative date for induction.

It’s January 23.

(See what I did there? I made you think I was gonna say January 17, but then I went and said January 23. I’m sure there’s a literary term for that, but I think in blog-ese it’s called Wasting Your Damn Time.)

(Heh.)

I have dedicated myself to eating more salads because I’m hugely fat according to the doctor’s scale and any objective measures of the term. You know, like “pants size” and “additional stretch marks” and also “visible huge fatness.”

So upon my arrival at work I immediately ate a Goo Goo Cluster that my colleague brought me.

Salads, indeed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Grumble Grumble Move Grumble Grumble

My office is closed the week of the 25th, which means I’ll be home while my parents are here without burning any vacation days. (Yay.)

As a result of the Democratic takeover of Congress, we’ll be moving offices. On the 26th. (Great.)

This isn’t such a big deal, as we don’t have to be present during the move. In theory, I can just leave the old office on the 22nd and show up at the new one on January 2nd. (Right.)

I’m spending this week packing up my office amidst constant badgering by my colleagues that I shouldn’t be lifting that binder and constant worry from my husband that I’m overdoing it.

I’ve been told to get the intern to box up my stuff, but I just can’t bring myself to ask him. First, I would feel like a total shithead doing that, and second, sometimes he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean.

Our offices are currently tucked away in the basement and are not glamorous. Our windows look out into a concrete moat and we’ve got a great view of some pipes. I’ve got a pigeon nest outside my window, and despite multiple efforts to get rid of it, its inhabitants still festively decorate my pane with their own special flocking. Happy holidays to you, too, Pigeons!

But we’ve all got private offices.

I’ve heard multiple comments about how great it will be to move up out of the basement and into the “nice” offices. We’ll be close to the hearing room and have high ceilings and when we look out our windows, we’ll actually be able to see what the weather is doing. Everyone’s office will triple in size. But they will no longer be private.

Details have yet to be determined, but I’m going to have at least one office mate. Possibly four.

I’d like to think I’m not the kind of person who is shallow enough to care about office space. Who’s closer to the window, who’s got an extra five inches of space, who’s got a bigger desk? Who cares. As long as the work gets done, what does it matter?

Except I’m totally that shallow.

I’m really demoralized by the idea of moving from my cramped, dingy office (with a couch and an easy chair and a mini fridge and a door that closes) to a soaring space with lovely drapes and crown molding (where I can’t discreetly watch your YouTube video or scratch when it itches in an inconvenient place and I have to overhear my colleague tell the doctor that mystery rash is crusting over).

My big worry is that after my too-short maternity leave, I’ll need a place to pump. In my current office, I scrawled the words “Privacy Please” onto a post-it note and slapped it on the locked door. I’ll have to work out something else in the new space, which I hope does not include having to pump at the nurses’ station or in the bathroom.

I’m sure I’ll adjust, and everything will be fine, but right now this is just giving me something else to be cranky about. I haven’t decided what to do with my plants because I don’t know what my new office will look like. And what the hell am I going to do about my fish?*

*She’s a guppy. Her name is Stump. She lives in a one-gallon tank in my office. Should I trust the movers, or instruct them to leave her in place and come get her myself on the 2nd? What if the new inhabitant of my office holds her for ransom?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fucking Hormones

Yesterday as Lumpyhead and I went to K-Mart -- wait, I can explain. I have a perfectly reasonable excuse for why I was going to K-Mart, I just . . . can't tell you about it. It involves Bump's Christmas present and -- (sigh) oh God, that sounds even worse. Yes, I got Bump's Christmas present from K-Mart, but it's not what you think. I mean. . . oh, never mind.

So, while Lumpyhead and I went to K-Mart (shudder), I heard the world's worst Christmas carol on the radio.

Have you heard this one? It's called Christmas Shoes and it's about this kid who perpetrates a fast con on some chump in a department store. The kid tells the mark he's buying some shoes for his mother, who is dying, and when he comes up short on cash, the mark forks over the difference. A few minutes later the kid exchanges the shoes at a different register and uses the money to buy meth.

The song is sung from the point of view of the mark, so you don't hear the "chump" or "exchange" or "meth" part, but it's obvious that's what is going on.

The mark should tell the child that if mama's really dying, she doesn't want shoes. Seriously, no one's gonna see her shoes, even if it's an open casket. Use that money to buy some concealer, which is what she really wants to cover up that death pall she's sporting.

Mama wants to look her best if she meets Jesus tonight? Of course she does. I mean, we all know how judgy that guy is. "Girrrl, you did not wear those old things to come see me. It's my dad-damned birthday, and you show up in last season's hospital slippers? Oh, oh no you didn't."

(Aside: why does Jesus always sound like a gay man from the South in my head? Is it just me, or does he sound like that to you, too?)

I realize I should have snapped the radio to another channel immediately when this horrible song came on, but for some reason I didn't. "This is called Christmas crap," I cheerily told Lumpyhead.

Then I started to tear up.

This has got to be rock-bottom, right? Welling up over the Shittiest Christmas Carol Ever on the way to K-Mart -- it can't get any worse than that.

I mean, I'm uncomfortable and large and Akutaq is kicking a lot. I've got heartburn and stretch marks and puffy hands and swollen feet and faux-sciatica pain, but this? This I will not abide. I will not allow this pregnancy to turn me into the kind of dickhead who cries over shit on bad radio.

What's worse, that craptastic anus pimple of a song was stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Level 2 Code Brown That Deserves a Higher Rating

Bump and Lumpyhead came in for Sagittarius Lunch today.

Four of my colleagues have birthdays in late November/early December. We used to call it Girls Lunch when we all went out together. Eventually we invited two other (male) colleagues, but still called it Girls Lunch. The boys have moved on to other jobs, but we still invite them to Girls Lunch and they come when they can. One of the women has retired, but still comes back in for the lunch. The December edition of Girls Lunch is Sagittarius Lunch.

Bump and Lumpyhead came in early, and we had our picture taken in front of the Capitol Christmas tree. We hope to include the photo in our holiday cards, provided I don’t look too dumb and Lumpyhead doesn’t have visible boogers or anything.

Then we went to the gym, where we signed Bump up for a spouse membership. On the walk over, Lumpyhead got to see a fire truck and an ambulance, sirens blaring, which was obviously awesome. While we signed a few papers at the gym, Lumpyhead played with a big yoga ball, which was obviously even awesomer.

Yeah, it’s not enough that we have one Unused Gym Membership in our household, we gots to have ourselves TWO.

Except Bump is actually going to use his membership. I’m not sure how much pumping iron or treadmilling he’s planning to do, but the gym nearest our house has child care. So, for a mere dollar per child per visit, Bump can drop Lumpyhead and his eventual sister off and go hide in the locker room for an hour if he needs a break. He could spend some time on the elliptical machines or circuit training, but if it were me, I would just hide in the locker room.

We planned to take the metro from the gym to the restaurant. It’s just one stop, but we thought Lumpyhead would enjoy the train ride. But there was smoke on the metro or something and the trains weren’t running, so we had to walk.

Hey, you wanna know why it’s called Capitol Hill? Because it's on a big damn hill. You know what’s not funny? Making a big fat lady hike up a hill.

We saw more fire trucks and police vans and other siren-y flashy vehicles, which I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about pointing out to the baby because I was hiking up a big damn hill.

We had a nice lunch once we finally reached the restaurant, and I think Bump was only dumbfounded by the conversation once (when these women get together, the chatting can quickly become frank, inappropriate and indecent). Towards the end, Lumpyhead pooped.

Bump quickly finished eating while we discussed how to handle the diaper change. We knew the restaurant didn’t have a changing table, so Bump decided to bring Lumpyhead back to the jeep and change him there; it was naptime anyway. Soon Lumpyhead started to fuss, then actually reached for me saying “Mama” (which he never does, so whee!). When I picked him up, a cup and a half of spanakopita filling fell out of his pants.

Only it wasn’t spanakopita filling.

Then there was, um . . . more.

Bump scooped him up and took him to the jeep. I cleaned up the mess, wiped down the high chair, and mopped the floor.

When I finished and washed my hands, I looked out the window and didn’t see Bump anymore, so I finished my lunch with the Sagittarians, who didn’t seem fazed by the shit interruption in the least. In fact, they ordered cake.

A few minutes later, I caught sight of Bump so went out to see how he was doing. He had encountered some difficulties himself, and I felt really bad that I had missed him earlier and hadn’t gone out to help him.

I found out it was a Level 2 Code Brown, escaping the diaper from Lumpyhead’s right leg. It contaminated not only the high chair and the floor, but also the jeep, the diaper bag, and Bump’s pants – in addition to Lumpyhead’s clothes and shoes.

Impressive.

How does he do it? Blueberries, apparently.

Bump went home to put Lumpyhead down for a nap. I went back to the restaurant and returned in time for the chocolate cake. It was really good cake.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Some Tips on Securing Lumpyhead's Entertainment Dollar

A few things really grab Lumpyhead’s attention. The first time he watched Sesame Street, for example, he was riveted. He stood stock-still and stared at the TV for a good 20 minutes straight. He has a similar reaction to the Monsters, Inc. opening credits, what with the jazzy music and the flying doors and such.

For full-on hilarity, however, we turn to the first few minutes of Ice Age. We tivoed it from a Spanish language network and never watch it beyond the first five minutes. But when that squirrel-like animal goes bouncing down the mountainside, Lumpyhead is guaranteed to laugh out loud. (The promo for the Univision version of Deal or No Deal that comes on before the movie amuses me every time, so maybe I shouldn’t be making fun of the boy for finding something funny after he’s seen it seven times before.)

Why is slapstick so awesome to a one-year old? I admit that we usually laugh when Lumpyhead falls down, but what is it about some flailing animal thumping down a hill that Lumpyhead finds so fricken hysterical? How does he already know that is funny?


Yesterday, I came home to Lumpyhead intensely focused on Aaron Neville singing “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon” with Ernie. We’re usually suckers for Lumpyhead’s every whim (Lumpyhead started rocking out when he heard Stevie Wonder over a store’s PA system, so Bump bought a Stevie Wonder album. Lumpyhead was transfixed by the music in the movie Ray, so we got the soundtrack.), but Bump is drawing the line at an Aaron Neville CD.

After the expressed preferences for Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, I considered introducing Lumpyhead to Ronnie Milsap, just to see if it was the blind pianist thing that Lumpyhead found so captivating.

I’m not sure if Lumpyhead really likes Aaron Neville, or if he just recognizes him from the Little People video that came with his farm playset. (Yes, Aaron Neville sings on the Little People video. “He was available?” is always Bump’s sarcastic reaction to this fact.) Bump may not be the only one to find this horrifying, but I’m going to cop to liking Aaron Neville. Lumpyhead may get that new CD after all.

So forget the Ronnie Milsap experiment. With the arrival on the scene of Aaron Neville and the constant cries for Elmo (“Meh-mo! Meh-mo!”), I’m beginning to think you have to be a black man to win the boy’s favor.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Last Donut

I declined the last chocolate-covered donut this morning, much to Bump’s delight. He put it on a plate in the living room, expecting to share it with Lumpyhead while they watched TV. On my way out the door, I handed Lumpyhead the donut. I was tickled by how funny he looked, whole donut in hand, walking around and eating it like a big kid.

When Bump saw what I had done, he expressed his concern with such phrases as: “you gave him the whole thing?” and “he’s gonna get chocolate everywhere” and “our carpet is in bad enough shape as it is.”

He took the donut from Lumpyhead, who was understandably, um, dismayed.

Perhaps I should explain that Bump’s idea of sharing a donut with Lumpyhead includes cutting the donut up into small pieces and hand feeding them to the baby. It does not include giving a toddler the whole damn donut and letting him run. I should also explain that I can’t eat those donuts without getting chocolate all over myself, so I probably should have reconsidered the whole “Here, Baby!” method of donut feeding.

Because Lumpyhead’s whining was becoming a frantic “GIVE ME BACK MY DONUT, YOU BASTARD!” plea, Bump carefully gave him another bite, catching the spilling crumbs and chocolate coating in his hand. This clearly was not satisfactory to the baby, who just wanted his damn donut back.

I suggested we put Lumpyhead in his high chair and let him feed himself the rest of the donut. I finally left for work, about 20 minutes late, and Lumpyhead had already triumphantly plowed through half the donut. I’ll be surprised if Bump got any of that donut at all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Would a $3 Drink Make Me Less of a Dumbass? Probably Not

Last night Sarah, Devra, Aviva and I attended a forum about blogs and marketing.

Elisa gave an interesting presentation, and I met some other cool bloggers.

I would say that I “met” Devra and Aviva, but I feel like I already knew them. I was really just confirming that they were the women pictured on their blog, and not, oh, I don’t know, a middle-aged Portuguese man in a cheerleading outfit and a fourteen-year-old boy using an author mom as an avatar. You’ll be relieved to know that Devra and Aviva are who they say they are (or maybe you’re disappointed by that, in which case: sorry).

Things I learned last night (other than Devra and Aviva are not being impersonated by internet wackos):
  1. One hour will elapse in the time it takes you to drive from the Hill to a place in Upper Northwest. One. Hour. (gah!)
  2. When you’re following vague directions to a destination that turns out to be wrong, it will take you awhile to get where you’re going.
  3. While searching for a particular street, make sure you know what street you’re on, just in case you are already on the street you are looking for. (Yeah. I’m a Dumbass. In my defense, at the time I was insanely jealous over somebody’s upcoming fancy dinner reservations, so I was a little distracted. (Ha! I sure showed her. She may be getting a fancy dinner soon, but last night she had to pee and was stuck careening around the streets of DC in my car.) Look, it’s the zoo! Again.)
  4. 19th and Calvert? Is a different place than 24th and Calvert. Just so you know.
  5. A restaurant that seats you outdoors on a December evening doesn't really want your business. (While yesterday afternoon was beautiful, last night was, um, brisk.)
  6. Paying $4 for a drink with no liquor in it is something only a Dumbass does. (I, Dumbass)
We were told the restaurant was also hosting a group of bloggers from a medical conference as well as some DC bloggers. I thought that meant folks from DCBlogs were there, so Sarah and I introduced ourselves, only to barge our way into a conversation with some random guy from the medical conference, who probably thought we were insanely creepy. I’m almost positive DCBlogs was not there.

But we made a new friend.

Okay, not really. We walked away, much to his relief, and now I can’t find his card so I can’t even plug his medical-y “WebMD meets MySpace” bloggity blog. Sorry, dude.

So that was my Crazy Night Out with the Girls. I was home by 11.

(Dear Akutaq,
That is not how A Crazy Night Out is supposed to be done.
Love Mama)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Send More Donuts

Lumpyhead still looks like peasants are terrace farming his head, but either I’m getting used to it or it’s starting to grow out, because I’m no longer instantly reminded of Karl from Sling Blade every time I look at him. (The pictures don’t do the bad haircut justice, I’m telling you.)

I’m abandoning my family tonight to go carousing with these degenerates. Well, it would be carousing, except that I’ll be sober the whole time. Being pregnant sucks.

In other news, I’m eating like a woman possessed. At dinner last night, I out-ate Bump. Despite feeling uncomfortably large, I’m hungry all the damn time. I had a chocolate-covered donut for breakfast, a banana, some grapes, then another donut. (I'm not sure if the chocolate covering on the donuts is a mitigating factor or an aggravating one.)

In related news, I’m outgrowing my maternity pants.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm Kind of Glad They Don't Let You Wait at the Gate Anymore

As Lumpyhead reaches certain age milestones, I find myself measuring them against where my brother and I were in the adoption process.

My parents know more about my brother’s biological family and circumstances than they do mine. I arrived when I was 14 months old, and heard - as a bedtime story - the tale about how they drove to Minneapolis to get me. They waited for the great big bird to land, and then eagerly watched baby after baby parade by.

“That one’s a boy, keep looking.”
“A girl! Is she ours? Nope, someone else’s name was called.”
“Twins! Cute.”
“Is that one ours?”
“How about that one?”

My parents had received a couple of pictures of me, but the photos weren’t recent and they couldn’t recognize me by appearance. Anxious, hopeful people around them were replaced by overjoyed new parents being introduced to their children. Amidst squeals and tears, eventually the number of people in the gate area began to dwindle.

My parents started to worry that I wasn’t on the plane.

Then, the last passenger off the plane carried a child, and my parents finally heard their name called.

When I flew home from college, back when my parents could still meet me in the gate area, they would invariably make some reference to me being last off the plane that first time. If I had a seat in the back of the plane, I would hear “you’re always the last one off” before “hello.” If I was assigned a seat somewhere in the middle, they would express surprise that I wasn’t “the last one off the plane this time.” Every. Single. Time.

I would roll my eyes and think, “Do you have to make that comparison every time I get off a plane? Jesus, it’s been twenty years.” Now I’m not sure why I thought that was so dumb. Why wouldn’t you be reminded of such an important moment in your life, when you became a parent again?

When we brought Lumpyhead to Minnesota in July, he was 14 months old. This coincidence did not go unnoticed by my mother. Or me.

My brother arrived when he was 18 months old; Lumpyhead is 18 months old now. The difference between the toddler he is now and the baby he was four months ago is astounding. I wonder how much babies retain, how much they’re influenced by their surroundings. While I have no memory of arriving in a new place or bonding with new people, I don’t know that the same is true for my brother.

While we both had some separation anxiety issues growing up, I think Ron’s transition was more traumatic than mine (more on Ron). When I consider the difference in Lumpyhead’s cognitive abilities between July and now, I’m amazed the experience doesn’t affect Ron more. Or, maybe it does, but in ways that are more subtle than conscious memories.

At any rate, Lumpyhead is in for a pretty significant change soon himself: the arrival of his sister. I wonder how that will impact his world or change his personality. Will he remember being the center of the universe before his sister arrived? Will he resent her? Or will he only know a world where she exists, tagging along behind him and trying to steal his toys?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Baby's First Bad Haircut

I think it's safe to assume we will not be returning to Cartoon Cuts in the Springfield Mall.

The place is called "Cartoon Cuts." You were expecting what, exactly?

The Awful, Too-Short Bangs.
Hail Ceasar!


The Too-Short and Oddly Tiered Sides
"I like them french fried pahtaters."


I couldn't really capture the horrible "layering" on the top and back.

Yes, it's a bad haircut. Now please stop following me around with that damn camera.

Today's solution: product. Bump is mildly horrified that the boy is sporting the wet look, but it makes him look slightly less ridiculous. But only slightly.

If the gel doesn't work, we'll try something else.


Looks like there might be more baseball caps and coffee filter yarmulkes in Lumpyhead's future.

Don't worry Mom, it will grow out. Eventually.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Someone Alert NACCAS

Cripes.

I came home yesterday to a very goofy-looking Lumpyhead.

Let me remind you, I have a pretty rigorous standard for goofy.

Armrest cover on the head? Wearing a floppy cow? Dressed like a Viking? Not goofy.

Lumpyhead right now, with nothing on his head? Goofy.

Bump took Lumpyhead for his third haircut yesterday. By all accounts and as evidenced by the train wreck on my son’s head, it was a disaster.

Lumpyhead wouldn’t eat breakfast, so arrived at the salon cranky and hungry and proceeded to howl through the whole haircut.

Maybe cutting the hair of a screaming child is just an impossible task, but good lord, those two years at an accredited cosmetology school were wasted on the poor stylist Lumpyhead visited yesterday.

The bangs are way too short and look like they were lopped off by a drunken tree trimmer. The “layering” on the top of his head may have been achieved by a weed wacker, or perhaps a flowbee. The back is uneven.

I was pressing Bump to bring Lumpyhead back to the salon today and demand someone fix it. Bump thinks the haircut is too short to be repaired, and all we can do is wait for it to grow out.

If I can capture the horror in a photo, I’ll post it tonight.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wait. What? How Did That Happen?

Because my mother was grousing about missing Lumpyhead (a trip in October didn’t work out, so she hasn’t seen him since July), I suggested she and my dad could come to DC for Christmas. I told her I would keep an eye out for tickets, and sometimes cheap fares pop up if you’re willing to travel on Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Last week, my brother called. “So you’re having Mom and Dad out there for Christmas?” he asked.

“Yeah, if we can find cheap fares,” I answered. “Does that screw up your plans? I know you were planning to go home.”

I suddenly worried that I’d yanked the Yulerug out from under him. “It’s not definite, though. Would you and Penny like to come, too?” I offered.

“No, no,” he assured me, “I want to help you pay for their flight.”

Turns out I gave him a perfect opportunity. He and his wife could avoid the eight-hour drive to our little hometown. He wouldn’t have to spend Christmas in the middle of nowhere with the nearest liquor store 20 miles away. He wouldn’t have to think of an excuse for why he didn’t want to go to church on Christmas morning. He and his wife could relax at home – parent-free – and enjoy the holiday with their cats and my sister-in-law’s family and all the beer they wanted.

The bastard pawned our parents off on me, while still managing to look like the good guy.

Brilliant.

Jerk.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

He Has A Certain . . . Zest For Living

I decided to share a clementine with Lumpyhead, and I let him carry it from the kitchen to the living room. It looked remarkably like a small orange ball, so he was pretty stoked about holding it.

I asked if he wanted to eat it, assuming he would hand it back to me. Instead he quickly took a big bite out of the thing, getting a little flesh, some juice, and a whole lot of peel. He dutifully munched away while I panicked and asked Bump what I should do and contemplated prying Lumpyhead’s jaw open because OhmigodHeAteThePeel.

Then Lumpyhead looked at me like I was the meanest woman in the world, spat the chewed up peel out onto the floor, and wouldn’t come near me or my evil fruit for a half an hour.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Visible Peculiarities: None

So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Rather, I had that going for me at one point.

Bump was organizing files this weekend, and in my feeble attempts to “help” (i.e. throw away five sheets of paper and make him find places to file the rest of the garbage I feel the need to keep), I came across this nugget. It was in a stack of papers my parents had given me that included my baptism records and elementary school fingerprints. The document contains some immunization history, and I think it’s my visa for the flight from Seoul to Minneapolis 34 years ago.
And to think, all this time I've been blaming Lumpyhead’s hairline on Bump.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Code Brown

Lumpyhead slept until 8:30 yesterday, but woke up this morning at 6 am with a Level 4 Code Brown. I would prefer a waking time somewhere in between. Without the pantsful of poop.

Code Brown Classifications:
Level 1: Simple Code Brown, fully contained
Level 2: Code Brown with containment breach in one location
Level 3: Code Brown with containment breach in multiple locations
Level 4: Code Brown with containment breach in multiple locations, outside contamination
Level 5: Code Brown with multiple location containment breach, outside contamination of more than one layer

There are some circumstances that may seem to fall outside the classification system. For example, what if the containment breach is in only one location, but soils multiple layers of clothing/bedding/upholstery? Still a Level 2 in my book. Why? Because I’m guessing that a containment breach in just one area means the diaper shifted or was applied poorly - in short: Operator Error cannot cause a Level 5 Code Brown.

By my scoring, most large disasters are Level 4; a true Level 5 is an impressive feat. Are you Oxy-Cleaning more than one item in addition to the child’s clothing? You may have a Level 5. If the containment breaches occurred not because of diaper gaps, but because the sheer volume of diaper contents exceeded capacity, then you may be dealing with a true Level 5.

And while this morning’s Code Brown required mitigation procedures on Lumpyhead’s sheets and my shirt as well as his pajamas, if I hadn’t picked him up and held him for several minutes, my shirt may have avoided soilage. Thus a Level 4.


We have several options for stain removal in our house. For little bitty don’t-worry-about-it stains, I have this spray treatment from Melaluca that I received as a gift. It works okay, but since you don’t know if the stain is out until after you’ve washed the item, the treatment is iffy. While this treatment gets points for ease of use, results are uncertain and delayed.

We soak the majority of stains in a heavy solution of Oxy-Clean, which is pretty reliable. Bump thinks the folks at Oxy-Clean are missing a major marketing opportunity by not touting “Works Great on Human Feces!” on the label. It also removes many food and grass stains.

Zout is the BFG of stain-fighters. We usually use it as a last-resort because it may cause fading, but if Zout doesn’t get the stain out, the stain’s not coming out.

What’s in your laundry arsenal? Got something we should try?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Baby's First Booger

Well, I guess that's not entirely accurate. He's obviously had boogers before, but this was Lumpyhead's first of the Pick Your Own variety.

Bump and I are so proud.

Lumpyhead has been sticking his fingers in his nose for awhile, for no particular reason, other than they fit up there neatly. But this weekend, for the first time, he drew his finger out of his nose and it had something on it.

He happily brought the booger to Bump to show him, busily pointing to his newly mined treasure with his other hand.

So, U-Pick Baby Boogers. I'm so glad I have this blog to document these important milestones. Hope your Thanksgiving weekend was equally eventful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An Update (Finally. Not That I Have Anything of Note to Say)

Work is crazy. I’m huge. Akutaq is doing Tae Bo* all the damn time.

Bump and I are staying put for the holidays. Several years ago, we instituted the Christmas rotation - Minnesota, then Maine, then DC - and refused to travel for Thanksgiving (except for that time we went to Turkey, because, duh, when else would you go to Turkey?). The first year we Thanksgivinged in place we told both families we weren’t coming home, but they were welcome to come to DC. They all took us up on the offer, and Bump made Thanksgiving dinner for 14 people in our tiny apartment.

The next year, we told them we weren’t coming home, but left out the part about them being welcome to come to DC.

We don’t really have our own traditions yet. Bump’s local relatives always invite us to join them for Thanksgiving, and sometimes we do. When I was pregnant with Lumpyhead, Bump and I had a quiet dinner alone, and afterward we cautiously rejoiced when I didn’t throw up. Certainly the best DC Thanksgivings were “Orphan Thanksgivings.” Because the travel window for Thanksgiving is short and there are so many Hill staffers on small budgets, Washington is full of Thanksgiving Orphans. Someone would organize a potluck meal attended by a random assortment of people our age, with lots of wine, some football, and a predictable descent into drinking games.

No one there longed for their families, or if they did, they didn’t show it. In our view, the people celebrating Thanksgiving with their families were the suckers stuck sitting across from Crazy Aunt Gladys who spits when she talks. We were playing Tic-Tac-Beer with the cute intern and still got to eat turkey.

Remembering those holidays makes me miss gatherings of distant friends: those people in your address book you rarely see but who always make you say “we really should get together with them more often” on the way home. It seems we barely have time to get together with our close friends now, and I’m unwilling to substitute my limited time with Lumpyhead for a few hours with cordial acquaintances.

Thanksgiving will just be the three of us this year. Bump is planning the menu and timing it around Lumpyhead’s nap. Someday I’ll teach Lumpyhead and his sister the rules of Tic-Tac-Beer, and who knows, maybe it will become part of our family tradition.

*Honestly, could that guy be any scarier? [shudder]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Snakes. Why Did It Have To Be . . .Snakes

So, after the Raisiny Toe Nibbling Scratch and the Curious Wearing of the Hat of Wrong, Sunday night had more to offer.

Bump came up from the laundry room and announced, “There’s a baby snake in my laundry basket. That or a really big nightcrawler.”

Now, the fact that Bump was not squealing at the top of his lungs at this point is a great credit to his self-control. Bump does not like . . .critters. (He hates picnics because he feels like you’re just eating out there among the bugs, and really, why would anyone in their right mind choose to do that? While you can justifiably throw creatures out of your house, if you’re out there in their territory, you can’t really complain if they come crawling up on your blanket now, can you? We don’t do a lot of dining al fresco.)

We have lived in our apartment since September 1996. The most interesting laundry room incidents to date involve lost quarters and a stolen space heater. I couldn’t believe there was a worm in the laundry room, so I went down with the camera.

My brother raised nightcrawlers for bait when we were kids, and I think of worms as friendly creatures. I thank them for aerating the soil when I see them in the garden, and take their presence as a sign of healthy dirt.

Can you see it between the laundry baskets? I was pretty sure it was the biggest nightcrawler I’d ever seen.

Then I thought it might be a little scaly for a worm, and maybe its head was a little too pointy. So I moved the smaller basket.

Yeah, definitely a baby snake.

Bump joined me in the laundry room as I was trying to convince the snake to slither into the trash can. When Bump walked in, I asked him if I should take it outside instead, and he quickly affirmed it was a much better idea to take it outside.

So I brought the laundry basket and baby snake up to the landing and dumped it out onto the sidewalk, where it slid away to be eaten by a mongoose or something.

What? Are there no mongeese/mongoose/mongooses in suburban DC? Well who the hell thought there would be a FUCKING SNAKE in suburban DC, huh? (I have no idea what natural predators snakes face, I just guessed at the mongoose thing. I’m even too lazy to look up the plural.)

Maybe a neighborhood cat will hiss at it and scare it, or even attack it and bring it half-dead to the unsuspecting owner as a gift. Maybe the snake will be collected with the wet leaves on the ground and pulverized into mulch. Maybe it will be swept into the sewers.

Look, all I’m saying is that there was a mutherfucken snake in my mutherfucken laundry room, and while I handled that shit right quick (look at me, defending my family’s soiled socks from the terrifying threat of nature), it creeps me out more than a little bit.

Because (Bump stop reading now) Baby Snake equals Mama Snake, and Mama Snake don’t bother having one baby at a time, if you know what I mean. I’m picturing the storage unit beside our laundry room as some sort of staging area for Arlington Snake Invasion 2007.

Maybe this snake was just one of many sent out on Sunday night to gather information on our capabilities. Right now, it’s joining its brothers and sisters to analyze the data and bring their evil plan one step closer to launch. They’re probably even grooming their own candidate for the 2008 election.


Alternative titles for this post: "Why Sarah Will Never Come to Visit Me Again," or "Why Bump Is Never Returning to the Laundry Room Without His Trusty Snake Fighting Equipment"

Oh, by the way, this is Bump’s Trusty Snake Fighting Equipment:

Bump returned to the laundry room with grocery bags and a pair of tongs. I promised I wouldn’t make fun of him, but I have no idea what those tongs were for. First, I’m pretty sure the snake was too small to be grabbed by a pair of tongs, and second, that sumbitch was fast. There’s no way we slow-reflexed, squeamish citydwellers were going to be grabbing it with some glorified tweezers.

The keys were my contribution. We usually just leave the door ajar when we go to the laundry room, but I was certain it would be an incident like this that would lead to a post entitled "How My Husband and I Locked Ourselves Out of the House. . .

"In the Rain . .


"While Our Baby Slept Inside. . .

"With His Crib Surrounded By Snakes . . .

"Who Were Aggressively Seeking Contributions for SnakePAC08"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sunday Turned Out To Be A Very Bloggable Day

After the Raisiny Toe Nibbling Scratch, Lumpyhead actually donned the Hat of Wrong.

While he’s usually reluctant to wear anything on his head, lately Lumpyhead has been asking Bump to put the armrest covers from one of our chairs on his head. The armrest covers were Lumpyhead’s nemesis for awhile - every time he would spot them in their regular position he would claw them down. They could be on the floor, in the chair’s seat, or in a crumpled heap on an end table, but god forbid they be on the arms of the chair.

Now, they only serve one purpose: headgear.

When Lumpyhead walks around the house with the armrest covers on his head, we think he looks like a little Pharaoh.
“Oh look, here comes Amenhotep.”

The Hat of Wrong has been floating around the toy bins since I put it on Baby Tad. On Sunday night, Lumpyhead decided he wanted to wear it.

He would leave the room to check himself out in the mirror in the hall, laugh at his reflection, then return to the room.

That hat is so bad, a 17-month-old recognizes it as ridiculous.

If the armrest cover is a Pharaoh headdress, the Hat of Wrong is an Amish bonnet.

Bump: He looks like Kelly McGillis in Witness.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Series of Possibly Unwise Decisions Led to Why My Upper Lip is a Little Swollen

In the past, that title might have been led to an interesting story. Like how I got into a bar fight or tripped after drinking too much. Sorry, not today.

When Lumpyhead gets bored at mealtime, he likes to pull his foot above tray level in his high chair. He often tries to put food between his toes, but because he hasn’t mastered fine motor skills yet, he usually drops the food on the floor.

On Sunday I thought it would be fun to indulge him, [Ding! Possibly Unwise Decision #1] so I helped him put the raisins he was eating between his toes. He thought it was funny. So did I, honestly. He looked like he was getting a pedicure.

Yes, he ate the raisins after they had been stuck in his feet.

We can often convince Lumpyhead to keep eating if we have a little of whatever he’s eating. The convincing factor is ratcheted up a notch if we let Lumpyhead feed us. So I ate some raisins from Lumpyhead [Ding! Possibly Unwise Decision #2], which probably means I ate some Foot Raisins, too.

Lumpyhead thought this was all very, very funny, and honestly, how can anyone resist a laughing baby?
The only choice you have, really, is to try to make the baby laugh more. And since I’d already probably eaten a few Foot Raisins, I started nibbling his toes. [Ding! Ding Ding Ding! Really, why not cut out the Raisin Middle Man and just eat baby feet?]

So while I was maniacally nibbling baby toes, Lumpyhead scraped me with a sharp corner on his big toenail.

How do you begin to explain a scratch on your upper lip that resulted from raisiny baby toe nibbling?

I’m just gonna pretend it’s not there. Stop staring, okay?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Knit What??

A couple of weeks ago, on a night when I wasn’t too tired to see after Lumpyhead had gone to bed, I decided to knit a hat for Akutaq. I thought it would be cute to plunk a hand-made hat on her conehead after she was born; her first pictures could be in something other than standard-issue hospital garb.

I liked that while I was knitting the hat, I felt I was building a connection to the baby. She would kick or roll and I would think, “This is for you, little one.”

When we found out about Lumpyhead, I knit booties. We mailed them to our parents with a note to call us, and that’s how we told them I was pregnant. The booties were a quick project, each one taking only a few hours. Knitting them was fun, each stitch was part of a secret we were sharing. I didn’t worry about how they turned out - no one was ever going to wear them, so I didn’t care how big or small they were - I just needed to end up with two that were about the same size.

I am not an expert knitter by any stretch, but I know how to do the basic stitches and can usually limp around a pattern enough to complete a project. While I won’t learn to play bridge - much to Bump, Aunt Bob and Pete’s frustration - because I’ve labeled it an activity for old people, knitting I’m fine with.

So, here’s a dilemma: when you’re not very good at knitting, you tend to chose easy patterns. Easy patterns tend to be ugly.

The booties? Yeah, the booties were ugly. But they looked like baby booties, which was the sole point of their existence. (Heh: bootie, sole. Get it? Get it!?) I found a hat pattern in the same book the booties were in - a horrid but useful little pamphlet called “First Steps in Knitting” that I probably bought at a Walmart in Minnesota. (What’s that noise? Could those be warning bells? Naw, I'm sure it's nothing, I'll just ignore it.) I happily set off, using a pretty variegated pastel yarn that was girly and soft.

The end product was, well, dismal. The hat only took a couple of days, so at least I didn’t waste too much time on it. Instead of creating blocks of color that meld into one another, the variegated yarn looked muddy when knitted. The hat’s shape is odd, it would need a good deal of blocking to look round. It’s dimensions are . . . off. The pattern said it was sized for a newborn, but dear god, if I gave birth to something with a head that fits into that hat, I think I’d split in two.

So I did what anyone in my situation would do: I asked a talented knitter to whip up a proper hat for Akutaq.

But I think the hat I made looks quite ghetto on Baby Tad. (You know, as ghetto as a pastel baby bonnet can look.)

Baby Tad: I’m so mortified to be wearing this abomination. Remove this purported headgear at once!

(Whatever, Baby Tad. You cry “Let’s snuggle!” at irregular intervals, like you had any street cred to begin with.)


A note about the title: I was very sad to see the YKW blog go dark, but if you're looking for a little fun, go browse their archives.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It’s a Good Kind of Screwed, I Guess

I’m okay, I’m okay.

Sorry to scare some of you out there (but thanks for the nice emails of worry, I feel so important. And like such a drama queen).

Democrats won control of the House, which means my job changes significantly. We have to expand the staff, manage new tasks, and - you know - govern and shit.

There’s so much stuff I don’t know, I don’t even know how to begin learning what I don’t know.

It’s as if someone tossed you the keys to the Arizona Cardinals’ front office last night and said, “Okay, Dumbfuck, here you go. Good luck with that.” For all your self-proclaimed fantasy football prowess, I’m guessing you would have no idea what to do next.

You gonna make some trades there, Bigshot? Where do you start? Were you just planning to call Alan Faneca and Orlando Pace, assuming their home numbers would be in the rolodex on the desk in your office? Hell, you don’t even know where your new office is, much less what is in there. Do you know what sort of salary cap issues you’re dealing with, or the terms of the current contracts? Does the players’ union have something to say about this transaction?

While you’re spinning, I should ask if you plan to keep the coaching staff, or bring in new people. Who are you going to bring in? Your brother-in-law and that guy from Accounting who consistently places in the top five in your office fantasy league? What about that dude who seems to have a knack for getting a good draft position? You know, the one who always names his team something borderline-offensive. Helpful hint: You might find that all the reputably good coaches already have jobs. What makes you think they want to come work for you?

You'll need to look into media contracts, the ad budget, stadium revenue, and recruiting prospects, for starters. And the cheerleading director, who got your number somehow, wants to know if you’ll consider expanding the squad by four.

While for some people this is very exciting, I would describe it as terrifying.

Oh, and I should remind you that in the middle of the transition and turf claiming and first-time stumbling, I’ll be having a baby.

Screwed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Holy Shit

I'm so screwed.

Erection Day

Heh heh. God I'm an infantile jerk.

There was this very odd man at the polls, complaining loudly about how he was going to miss his bus. It was the 75 bus, from Columbia Pike, and it left at nine o'clock. I know these details because the dude kept repeating them.

At first I thought he just had a very loud mutter, then I thought he was angling for someone to let him cut the line, then I came to the conclusion he was nuts.

"I'm gonna miss my bus. It's the 75 bus, and I have to catch it on Columbia Pike. It leaves at 9. If I miss it, I get into work a half an hour later."

Finally, a poll worker smiled at Batshit Bus Guy and said, "But at least you get to vote." It quieted him for about 45 seconds.

"I'm gonna miss my bus. It's the 75 bus. I'm gonna miss it because I'm waiting in this line."

Lumpyhead voted with me and Bump, although he got much more attention when he was voting with Bump. "Awww, look at the baby." "He's helping to push the buttons." "He's the youngest voter we've had today."

No one noticed when Lumpyhead voted first, with me.
I think Lumpyhead gets more attention when he's with Bump. I can't decide if it's a guy thing (eh, mom with kid, no big deal. But dad with kid . . . let's see if he drops it), a race thing (Asian woman = invisible), or a resemblance thing (while Bump is clearly Lumpyhead's dad, I'm starting to think I could pass for the nanny. The guy taking the exit poll remarked on how much Lumpyhead looked like Bump while I was filling out the survey).

Or maybe it was because the voters in line could see Lumpyhead over the voting machine when he was voting with Bump.
It could also be that Bump took the photo of Lumpyhead and me discreetly, while I was busy futzing with flash and standing in the middle of the room taking the picture. But I think I got a better picture, and really, isn't that what matters?


I Got Yer Poopy Fog Right Here

When Nonlinear Girl said that she missed getting an "I voted" sticker, I offered to send her mine. Unfortunately, I realized she would get it a few days after Election Day, when it might be odd to walk around wearing an "I voted" sticker. Also, the sticker I got today said "I voted in Arlington" which probably wouldn't do her much good, either.

So, this is the best I can do. Here's your sticker, Nonlinear:

As we took this photo (and I took part in the exit poll), Batshit Bus Guy hustled by. "His vote counts, too." Bump reminded me. I don't know if that made me feel better or worse.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Those Darn Insurgents

On Friday evening I caught an All Things Considered piece on the war and the election. It profiled Minnesota’s First Congressional District - my home district and where my parents vote - which covers the entire swath of southern Minnesota.

You can hear the whole story here. It runs a little over eight minutes, but you gotta at least listen to the part where Michele Norris talks with Pat Scoggin, a resident of a Rochester retirement home.

--

Okay, if you can’t or don’t want to listen, Ms. Scoggin closes her interview by saying, “But I don’t like so many people being killed over there, it’s just terrible. And I just wish they could get rid of those darn insurgents.”

When I heard this, I laughed out loud.

Not because Pat’s sentiment is ridiculous (even though it sounds a little ridiculous), but because Pat could be channeling my mother. The accent, the inflection, the simplicity of opinion - it was like my mother had joined me in the car.

Let me defend Pat for a minute. I’m sure she had a variety of ideas on why the social and political climate in Iraq fosters an insurgency and what factors need to come into play for violence to end. We just didn’t hear them. Or maybe not, but for a Minnesotan woman of a certain age, “that darn” anything is about as colorful as language gets. Those are strong sentiments you hear Ms. Scoggin uttering.

What I’m trying to highlight is that, if you’ve got a limited number of expletive options in your arsenal, you have to use what you’ve got. “Those darn insurgents” is the Little Old Minnesotan Lady equivalent of “those goddamned cocksucking douchefuckers.”

This is also my way of telling you that I’m so preoccupied by tomorrow’s outcome, I find it difficult to concentrate. Ordinarily I’d say that elections don’t change my life that much, but this one could profoundly impact my world. I'd ask you to keep your fingers crossed for me, but I'm actually not sure which result is better.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Halloween Recap

I didn't get very many good pictures of Lumpyhead and Aunt Bob's Little Guy on Halloween, which I'm mighty bummed about.

They were ghosts. Aunt Bob made their costumes.One reason I didn't get any good pictures was because Lumpyhead really wouldn't wear his costume for very long. Another reason was that I kept trying to capture the Christmas lights we put under the tulle, and I never could get the lighting/flash/no flash thing right.
Two years ago, I made ABLG a chicken costume, and he was probably the cutest thing I had ever seen. Unfortunately, I missed most of the fun because I was pregnant with Lumpyhead and spent the entire evening perched on the side of my bathtub. Aunt Bob and Eebie brought The Chicken over to my place, where I gave him a cuddle and some candy, watched him strut around while my heart melted, then swiftly returned to vomiting.
But how cute was he? So cute.
Last year, Lumpyhead was a lobster. ABLG was a chef, and carried around a pot to collect his candy. He would get very upset, however, if anyone suggested he might cook his trick-or-treat companion.
(This would be a great picture if it weren't for the Bud Light. Yes, I drank a Bud Light. The lapse in judgment was captured on film digital media. I'm embarrassed about it. Let's move on.)

Watching the parade of children who come by Aunt Bob's place is really fun. Even more fun is sitting on a bench, having a beer and some warm appetizers while little goblins and princesses chirp "thank you" after being prompted by their handlers.

Less fun? Chasing after a running toddler while trying to prevent him from bolting into the street, tripping over a tulle cape, or strangling himself on battery-powered Christmas lights. He didn't understand the whole "put on this funny outfit and people will give you candy" racket. Maybe he'll be more into it next year. (Yeah. Next year. When we're also hauling around a 10-month old. That'll be great. Great.)

But even less fun than that is puking all night and taking a short break to receive a pity visit from the World's Cutest Chicken.

So, this Halloween might not have been as much fun as last year, but it was much, much better than the year before that. I've got my fingers crossed for next October.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Proof My Husband Loves Me

When I was pregnant with Lumpyhead, Bump sent me into work every day with healthy snacks like carrot and celery sticks, whole fresh fruit, or little containers of cottage cheese.

Each morning I would have to ‘fess up if I hadn’t eaten yesterday’s snack to avoid creating a snack backlog. Of course, if the previous day’s snack was still in my fridge, it didn't mean that I had gone hungry. It meant that instead of eating my carefully packed nutritious nibbles, I had gone to the vending machines and eaten two bags of Fritos.

Now Bump is a little too busy in the mornings to worry about what I’m eating at work, which means I don't have to sheepishly report that I ate two Hostess apple pies.

But yesterday, he sent me into work with . . .

a bowl of fruit salad


and Easy Cheese.




I'm pretty fond of Bump, too.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

OCD at IHOP

There’s an International House Of Pancakes by my obstetrician’s office. This is very dangerous. “Pregnant woman” plus “pancakes” equals “rooty-tooty fat in the booty.”

For the most part, I can resist temptation (but only by taking the route that doesn’t go past the place). When I was pregnant with Lumpyhead, Bump came to every OB visit and we made several post-appointment IHOP stops, particularly during my last trimester.

I can remember sitting at that restaurant, nervously anticipating Lumpyhead’s arrival, while Bump freaked out about much we still needed to do. I started dilating six weeks before Lumpyhead’s due date. Three weeks before I delivered, the doctor told us I could go into labor “any minute now.” The first time she said this it translated to Bump as “Gitcher ass directly to Babies R Us and buy everything you can fit in the Jeep. Maybe rent a U-Haul.” I talked him down over the course of eggs and a waffle, and he didn’t immediately sprint to the store upon returning home. (He did, however, become singularly focused on painting Lumpyhead’s room.) We heard the “any minute now” line for the next three appointments, and we eventually stopped getting worked up about it.

Today Lumpyhead and Bump came to my OB appointment. They came to my last appointment, too, and Bump and I were reminded that we vowed then never to take Lumpyhead to the OB again. Like last time, we spent over an hour waiting for the doctor while trying to keep Lumpyhead 1) from being flattened by the waiting room doors, 2) out of the speculum drawer, and 3) away from the biohazard disposal.

But Lumpyhead found my doctor very entertaining, and we all got to go to IHOP afterward. Lumpyhead ate hash browns and eggs and sausage (sausage! Wheee!) and toast. While we waited for our order, he played quietly with the little containers of coffee creamer.

Bump and I looked over to find him carefully making sure all the creamers were oriented the same way. At one point they were all upright, at another they all were bottom up, but lazy creamers who were rolling around on their sides were quickly brought in line. We intentionally knocked over a couple to see what he would do. We got The Scowl and an annoyed grunt as Lumpyhead repaired our devastation.

I’m afraid he inherited this from me. When I was little, whenever I wore something with a drawstring or cord, the hanging strings always had to be the same length. My grandmother occasionally teased me about this, even when I was in high school and had obviously outgrown the need for order. She said she would tug on one end to make it longer, just to watch me obsessively even them out.

Maybe everyone has some compulsive tendencies? The clutter that overwhelms my house is headache-inducing, so it’s not that I’m tidy. I would say that I don’t exhibit many OCD characteristics, but then there is the matter of Aunt Bob’s birthday cake:


Please ignore for a moment that it looks like it was made by someone who was drunk or blind, possibly both. I was neither when I made it. I tried to blot out the numbers so you can’t tell how old Aunt Bob is, which makes the cake look like it has odd boobies or creepy eyes. It’s bad enough that the thing is lopsided, I feel lousy about subjecting it to further indignity.

I was busted by a six-year-old at Aunt Bob’s party, who had been staring at the cake for about 45 minutes straight, hoping her sheer force of will could compel it to be served. “There's a pattern in the M&Ms!” she announced. “Red brown yellow brown blue brown green brown orange brown.”

Her mother was very proud. “They've been learning about patterns at school. I'll have to tell her teacher she recognized a pattern.”

There is no such charming explanation for why there is a pattern in the M&Ms, except that I am a huge dork. Further evidenced by the girl trumpeting, “There’s also a pattern around the bottom! A different one!” What a little narc.

You may also notice that all the “m”s are facing toward the cake. This was actually trickier than creating the pattern, because I had to eat all the M&Ms that were facing the wrong way. It occurred to me later that this was unnecessary; those M&Ms weren’t facing the wrong way, they were simply for the other side of the cake. Oh well, lesson learned.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Fish Face, Headstands and The Scowl

Fish Face
Lumpyhead started making this face. We have no idea where he picked it up, or why he does it.
Just what he needs, for his cheeks to look thinner.

Headstand
He’s also started doing this little tripod thing. At least it seems to make him happy.

Happy? What I mean is: it cracks him the fuck up.

Scowler Monkey
Lumpyhead scowls. Often. It’s usually when Bump or I fail to comply immediately with one of his demands, or when one of his toys vexes him, or when he’s just not pleased with the way things are progressing.

Bump and I tried to replicate it the other night after Lumpyhead had gone to bed. Usually when we mimic Lumpyhead, one of us is dead-on (which figures, since he probably inherited it from somewhere, right?), but neither of us could do it justice. We thought it was odd that neither of us could convincingly reproduce The Scowl.

The big, sweet smile is fleeting, but The Scowl? The Scowl he’ll hold for as long as necessary.

Oh, and I’m Fat
I’ve already gained 30 pounds this pregnancy, and I’ve got a trimester to go. The fat trimester.

After telling Teresa at lunch on Friday that “at least my hands and feet aren’t swollen this time,” my hands promptly puffed up like frightened blowfish.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Need A Parenting Tivo

As a working parent, I’m not surprised by the sense that I’m missing out on a lot of Lumpyhead’s life. I expected to feel this way. I’m gone for at least 10 of his 12 waking hours during the day, which means I will not be around for stuff.

But lately I feel like I’m not taking full advantage of the little time I get to spend with him, and I didn’t expect that.

On those mornings when Lumpyhead rises before seven, I blearily get him breakfast and spend our first fifteen or thirty minutes together trying to shake the cobwebs out of my head. On those other mornings when I leave before he wakes up, I spend all day pining for those few minutes - foggy or not - that I didn’t get.

When I get home at night, I’m always a little droopy. I feel like I have to power through the hour or two I spend with Lumpyhead before putting him to bed.

I want to be enthusiastic and energetic when I’m with Lumpyhead, able to invent games and sing songs and play.

Instead, I’m tired and boring and slow. I have a tough time heaving my expanded self off the floor to follow Lumpyhead when, after tiring of our current activity, he goes prattling off to another part of the house.

After he’s been asleep for awhile, after I’ve been fed and have spent some time staring at the TV, I miss him. I get a second wind and want a do-over of those minutes when he played with his toys and I just sat beside him with my head on the ottoman. I wish I would have spent that time better.

Rather than watching last night’s episode of Lost, I want to be showing him which stacking cup is blue or encouraging him to say Grandma or giving him kisses. But he’s asleep.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Royal Netherlands Embassy Cordially Invites You

Several years ago I got a strange call at work, asking me if I was of Dutch heritage, by any chance. The Netherlands Embassy was hosting its first annual Congressional reception, and in order to build attendance, they were calling all the people in the Congressional directory with Dutch surnames and encouraging them to come.

I offered how my great grandparents on both sides of the family were born in Holland, and my father still swears in Dutch. The woman sounded very excited when I agreed to attend.

I was sure that on the night of the event, the hosts would take one look at me and ask me to leave. I met the Dutch ambassador, who exclaimed happily upon reading my nametag, "My! Where did you get such a Dutch name?"

"From my parents," I replied, unsure how else to answer the question.

"Of course you did," he said without missing a beat. Then he smiled broadly and looked a little sheepish. (And that's why he's an ambassador. Diplomats come back with things like "Of course you did" and still manage to look charming. If I had done something like that, I would have just stood there, mouth agape and puzzled, until the other person wandered off.)

It turned out to be a huge party, with lots of herring and Heineken and tulips. They shouldn't have worried about boosting attendance; the place was packed. Nobody cared one bit if any of the guests had a drop of Dutch in them.

But I walked around like I was special, because the Embassy had called to invite me.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Probably Now Owe Harry Belafonte Sixty Bazillion Dollars in Royalties

In full flaunt of copyright laws everywhere, I present to you:

Sooo Big!
Music credits: Jump in the Line, composed by Stephen Somvel and performed by Harry Belafonte




I’ve replaced the audio of the footage so you won’t recoil in horror at the sound of my squealing voice. I think I managed to edit out most of my big butt.

Also behold the World's Skinniest Child. I swear we spend all day following him around with food. We're trying our damnedest to fatten him up, but we haven't had much success. We're limited by the following factors:

1) Lumpyhead won't eat meat. I've been hesitant to tell you about this, because I'm a little horrified that Bump and I seem to have produced a vegetarian child. Bump and I are both dedicated carnivores ("A meal without meat is like a day without sunshine."), and while I know some very nice vegetarians, they puzzle me. ("What do you mean you don't eat meat? Not even bacon?") Bump and I are just so flabbergasted when the boy won't eat sausage ("But it's sausage! It's made of pork! Pork is good!") we don't know what to do. He refuses chicken. He spits out ground beef. He likes tofu. [shudder] We don't know how to begin to prepare tofu. I mean, once you've laughed at it, what do you do next? At the Chinese barbeque hosted by Bump's brother-in-law, Lumpyhead tore into the tofu. We order it for him when we go out, but we're both a little too intimidated to try to prepare tofu at home. Plus, it would mean one of us would have to endure the embarrassment of standing in the checkout line at the grocery store with tofu.

2) Lumpyhead loves fruits and vegetables. He'll eat cherries until his stomach explodes. If he's refusing everything else, he can be convinced to eat some green beans or edamame.

3) Lumpyhead has bottom issues. Hence we don't want to stuff him with cheese. We've just started giving him bananas, because he loves them (see #2) and they don't seem to stop him up.

We try to butter everything. We've replaced most of his water with juice or milk. We're constantly haranguing him to Eat Something. He does like sweets, but a lunch of brownies and M&Ms doesn't seem like a good idea, even though the baby would be all for it. Any suggestions, other than putting half and half in his sippy cup?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Should I Have Tried a Limerick Rhyming “Gurgle” with “Burgle"?

Yesterday was a shitty day.

I went to another funeral. A friend and colleague’s father fell ill a few weeks ago and passed away on Tuesday. Even though the service was three hours away, I decided to attend. I worried my friend would feel alone during this difficult time, and if a few hours in the car was all it took to show a little support, then it seemed the least I could do.

Bump and Lumpyhead were going to accompany me, (I mean, com’on: a toddler, a six-hour car ride, and a solemn, tearful event scheduled right smack dab in the middle of naptime? What could go wrong?) but I ended up going by myself. It’s not that I came to my senses about the plan to take Lumpyhead, (“We could go to Monticello after the funeral. And there will be farm stands along the way, we can buy pumpkins and pick apples! It will be an Autumnal Road Trip, the envy of scrapbookers everywhere.”) rather, we had a plumbing emergency that required the involvement of a professional.

I was saved from my own stupidity by a clogged drain.

For the past couple weeks, the tub has been making ominous gurgling noises when we flush the toilet. We addressed this problem in the usual fashion: by muttering “that can’t be good,” shrugging, and walking away. We eventually switched tactics from Ignore Ignore Ignore to Liquid Plumber Down the Tub plus Plunger in the Toilet along with a sprinkling of Hopeful Incantations. Shockingly, that didn’t work either. (You’d think that a haiku containing the words “flush, toilet, drain, and shower” would do the trick, but no.) We called a plumber and $250 later, we’ve got a shower that drains and a toilet that flushes. I think Bump might have paid $250 simply to avoid taking Lumpyhead on the Autumnal Road Trip/Funeral Trek of Doom, but we got working plumbing for that price too. Bonus.

Because of the midday “strange man in the bathroom making lots of noise” activity, Lumpyhead napped late, so when I got home we decided to go out to eat. We went to a Salvadoran place close to the house, where I once had a dish so hot it made the back of my eyeballs hurt. I keep ordering it, but it hasn’t been that hot since, and I’m always a wee bit disappointed.

We ordered plantains and flan for Lumpyhead, thinking he could also have bites from our plates. He rejected both of his dishes, of course, instead only opting to eat the maraschino cherry from the flan and the tomato and beets from our salads. He also ate some yucca and sucked on the lime from Bump’s beer. That kid is a little weird.

Afterward, I decided I needed some pie, so we went to the diner next door. When I was about halfway through the pie, Lumpyhead dropped a deuce most pungent. There was no changing table in the mens room (I never thought to look in the ladies room, I was focused on pie) so Bump took him outside, where Lumpyhead’s bottom continued to rumble and Bump’s eyes continued to water. We had to drive home with the windows open.

For a shit-themed day, it actually wasn’t so horrible. The trip to the funeral was quite pretty, it was a sunny day and the leaves are turning. The funeral was sad, but since I didn’t know the deceased I didn’t feel as though my insides had been ripped out. The worst part for me was when, during the VFW’s graveside service (the deceased was a WWII veteran), I realized similar rituals were probably being observed all around the country. Rituals not for eighty-year old men who had lived full lives, with caskets surrounded by grandchildren and frail friends; instead for men younger than me who had so much more life to live, with caskets surrounded by parents and grandparents and friends who can still easily sleep off a two-day drinking bender.

My toilet flushes reliably, and I didn’t have to change Lumpyhead’s Level 2 Code Brown. Bump did it, imploring the little guy to find some middle ground between a poop every two weeks and thrice-daily old man hobo shits.

It was a pretty good shitty day.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm Really Embarrassed by This, So Maybe I'll Just Tell the Whole Internet About It

NPR, please, for the love of god, bring back your regular programming.

I know I've complained about this before, but pledge drive week has a surprisingly hefty impact on my life. I can't listen to the NPR shills after the news at the top or bottom of the hour, so I surf around the dial until I find something that doesn't make my ears bleed.

I took a break from futzing around with the stations when I had to merge or do some other driving-related task this morning. A few minutes later I realized that I had wiped out on a station playing Howie Day's Collide.

And that I was humming along.

I think it was an acoustic version. It's still stuck in my head. I'm gonna need an intervention or something.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Baby's New Tricks

Lumpyhead can say Mama. Consistently. And he seems to be referring to me when he says it. I’m considering this a big milestone.

When Bump or I tell Lumpyhead that we love him, he responds by saying “Mama.” I’ve taken this to mean one of the following:
1) He equates love with me. Yay.
2) I often follow “I love you” with “Mama loves you” so he’s starting the next line in the litany.
3) “Mama” can also be interpreted as “Right back atcha, babe.”
4) He has no idea what Mama means and is just throwing the term about willy-nilly.

He also clearly and reliably says “Spongebob,” but only when he means Spongebob. I’m trying not to be offended.


Lumpyhead has started shaking his head, which sometimes means “no” and sometimes means “I want to shake my head vigorously back and forth and possibly fall down.” He grins when he does it, but is very peeved when you misconstrue the headshake as no when he doesn’t mean no. Like when you ask him if he wants a grape and he shakes his head so you don’t give him the grape and then he’s all “Where’s m’damn grape, Woman?”


Last night’s new trick: signaling “touchdown.” It sounds very cool but sadly, in practice, the trick is actually sing-songy and annoying. I ask, “How big is Lumpyhead?” and trill “SOOOOO big!” when he raises his hands above his head. It’s something my mother used to do, and the sound I make when I say the last part splits my eardrums and bugs the crap out of me. But it’s awfully cute to see the boy tramping about the house with his arms in the air.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Spy

On the drive in today, I saw a fellow commuter brushing his teeth.

That’s weird, right?

I see a lot of amazing things on my way to work that no longer strike me as incredible.

The Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument? They blend into the background. A convoy of black SUVs with flashing red and blue lights? Boring. The grey-green helicopter headed for the South Lawn emblazoned with the words “United States of America”? Not much more noteworthy than United flight 600 headed for National Airport.

But a middle-aged man driving an old Toyota while brushing his teeth? That’s worth telling you about.

I have so many questions. Was he using toothpaste? Where could he spit? How would he rinse? Why didn’t he wait until he was no longer behind the wheel? He couldn’t take care of this before he left the house?

If this is the most interesting thing that happens to me this week, should I be relieved or worried?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Video

That loud popping noise you heard was me getting my head out of my ass on the video front. It was wedged in there pretty firmly, so you can imagine the difficulty I faced in removing it.

Behold:

Lumpyhead tells my parents about Akutaq


Lumpyhead tells Bump's Mom about Akutaq


Lumpyhead gets licked by a ribeye

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Easy Cheese

My friend Joel, the World Champion of Medieval Catapult Firestarting, sent me a link that outlined the contents of Easy Cheese. There's nothing like a description of embalmed cheese to really get me excited. And did you know that the fluted piping tip on processed cheese food is not just to make the cheese look pretty? It also serves as an Idiot Guard, so if you place the tip directly on top of the cracker and squeeze, the Brilliant Canister of Yum will still dispense its wonderful goodness.

Damn. And here I worried I'd have nothing to post about today.

Now I need to find some damn easy cheese. And some crackers. It's also remarkably good on tortilla chips. And apples.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Snippets of Weekend Conversation

Bump: Tampa Bay lost again.
Me: Poor Sarah.
Bump: Yeah, poor Sarah.
In unison: [snickering]

I don’t mean to make fun (okay, maybe a little), because I really do feel sorry for her. Do you know how sad it is to go to her house and bear full witness to the four of them, all cutely decked out in their Bucs jerseys, watching their team lose? It is really, really heartbreaking. You can smell the chicken or ribs or whatever Gabe’s got cooking, which is divine even when you’re nauseous, but then must watch the writhing and garment-rending and gnashing of teeth. It is quite horrific.

And kind of funny. In an anguished, cannot-watch-but-cannot-avert-my-eyes sort of way.

--

Me: Can you say Mama?
Lumpyhead: Mama
Me: Can you say Papa?
Lumpyhead: Papa
Me: Can you say Grandma?
Lumpyhead: [blinks]
Me: Can you say Grandpa?
Lumpyhead: [blinks]
Me: Can you say Nana?
Lumpyhead: (whispering) Nana
Me: Very good! Can you say Mama?
Lumpyhead: (grinning) Papa

Already he's a comic.

--

Bump: So, you gonna be wearing that bobby pin from now on?
Me: Yeah, probably. At least for a little while. I know, it looks dumb.
Bump: It’s not so bad.
Me: It looks pretty dumb.
Bump: [pause] Maybe a little dumb.

I have a hair issue. I've developed bangs. Well, pseudo bangs. Let's just say it's not good. If you've got any advice that doesn't involve me looking like (more of) a complete dope, let me hear it.

--

The following is as reported to me by Bump; I was taking a big fat nap at the time. Lumpyhead has a set of blocks with little shapes inset in them. One is round, with a blue and yellow ball inside.

Lumpyhead: There's a ball trapped inside this damn cylinder (voiced as "Uhh!).
Bump: Is that a ball?
Lumpyhead: Get it out (also voiced as "Uhh!", as Lumpyhead hands Bump the offending item).
Bump: Yeah, that's a ball.
Lumpyhead: No. Get it out of the cylinder. Set it free so I may play with it (again, "Uhh!", accompanied now by angry gestures).
Bump: Do you like that ball?
Lumpyhead: Get. It. Out. (you can guess)
Bump: Yeah, it's stuck in there
Lumpyhead: GET IT OUT NOW! (like before, only louder)
Bump: I'm afraid I can't get it out of there.
Lumpyhead: NOOOOO! Get it out, Father! Set it free! (louder, and now with whining!)
Bump: [briefly considers breaking the plastic cylinder to set the ball free, then reconsiders as it is perfectly sized to lodge in a baby esophagus.] Sorry, Little Guy. That ball is stuck in there.
Lumpyhead: [wails]

The thing is, when we actually understand what Lumpyhead is saying, he gets very excited. He doesn't have many words, so when we interpret "bah" correctly as "Read some of those enchanting books to me, please," he gets a very wide grin on his face. Bump describes Lumpyhead's expressions during the above conversation as the "Yes! You understand!" grin mixed with the "Why do you fail to comply with my demands?" scowl followed by the "Woe is me!" whine/wail.


How was your weekend?

Friday, October 06, 2006

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Pregnancy-Related Bitching and Moaning, Already in Progress

Both Amalah and Holly told me to go read Emily this week, so like the obedient drone I am, I complied. Emily is expecting her first baby in the next few minutes, and her posts reminded me how excited and full of wonder I felt when I was pregnant with Lumpyhead. (Also completely out of my mind with worry and fear, but we’ll gloss over that since we’re being all nostalgic and shit.)

It’s different this time.

I expected this pregnancy to be different, but I miss the exhilaration. I feel bad about the lack of curiosity. Am I already giving Baby #2 less attention?

I used to obsessively check Babycenter’s pregnancy timeline, cursing that they only gave me an update once a week. Once a week? I want to know what’s happening now! Surely there must have been some new development since Tuesday. How about new liver cells? Tell me the baby has grown new liver cells. Or maybe the baby has grown from a small kidney bean to a medium-sized kidney bean. I need to know these things!

This pregnancy, I’m not even completely sure how far along I am most of the time. 22 weeks, right? Yes, 22 weeks. Or something like that. In my defense, last time the pregnancy coincided perfectly with the NFL season, so I could just ask Bump, “Which week was it on Sunday?” and know how far along I was without having to count back from the due date.

Last time I religiously slathered my belly with a shea butter cream twice a day. I knew I couldn’t really prevent stretch marks, but certainly the cream couldn’t hurt. I was also itchy all the time, and I felt like putting the cream on was addressing the issue, even though it didn’t really help.

This time the itchiness is gone, and I’m a lot less uptight about stretch marks. (If I didn’t get them the first time, I probably won’t get them this time, right?) I thought I saw some stretch marks the other night, but it turned out it was just an imprint from a wrinkle in my shirt.

Last pregnancy, as soon as I could justify it, I pulled out the maternity clothes to accentuate the “look, it’s a baby not a beer gut!” tummy bulge.

Now I gripe constantly about maternity wear. Can I get something that doesn’t do that weird wrap thing over the chest and therefore expose my goddamn navel from the neckline? How about something that’s not fucking pink? Why do all these shirts need to be ironed every time they come out of the wash? Don’t get me started on pockets.

So I’m schlumping around in my regular polo shirts, because most of them still fit. (Hint: maybe this means you’re wearing your regular clothing too big, Dumbass)

I’m feeling large. You know when you’ve eaten waaay too much spaghetti and really need to unbutton your pants or put on sweats or something? That’s how I’m feeling. I’m hoping this sensation goes away pretty soon, because I’m sighing a lot.

I spend a lot of time thinking, “Did I feel this way last time? Isn’t it a little early for this?” I remember being miserable the last month of pregnancy, how is it that I’m already sleeping in Bump’s recliner?

Akutaq is kicking pretty vigorously, especially at night. I get home, chase Lumpyhead a little, and put him to bed. Then I sit on the loveseat with my puffy feet up, rubbing my distended belly and exhaling loudly, thinking, “I could really use a vodka martini and a can of salted mixed nuts.”

On a brighter note, the nausea seems to have abated.

On an even brighter note, It’s Aunt Bob’s birthday tomorrow!