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.)


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.


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


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.