Thursday, December 29, 2005


Owen’s mom recently purchased a gently used juicer at an auction. I know what you’re thinking…used? But, apparently, all her co-workers decided to all take in the stuff they didn’t want any more and put it in a silent auction at the office, the proceeds of which were to buy new Christmas items for the office for next year. She bought the juicer because it was like $4 and she thought that it might be really nice for the baby to have fresh, delicious, nutrient-filled and preservative-free juice. Owen and I were kind of intrigued. It’s the kind of thing we’d never buy for ourselves but that we’re more than happy to play with. The term “play” is important because it didn’t come with an instruction book.

This morning, because I am home sick for day #3, Owen decided to make me some fresh juice. We’d bought some juicing oranges at the grocery last night, and some frozen cherries and strawberries to try out with it too. Owen took a moment to look up the recipe online (during which I held back and kept silent a moment of joyful ridicule…apparently there’s more to it than “squeeze the juice”) and then took to cutting up oranges and popping them into the juicer. For mine, he also put in a few strawberries.

The strawberries came out all foamy and thick, but this didn’t bother me as I thought it gave them a bit of a smoothie effect. I scooped some up with my finger and it was delicious. The oranges also came out a little foamy. This, we assumed, was because the juicer “juices” them at such a high rate of speed that they just get themselves whipped into a froth of delicious excitement. He poured the contents of the two small glasses we’d been using into a large glass and stirred them into a lovely pinkish-orange foamy concoction, all thick and juicy. Truly, it looked fantastic. I took a sip…and nearly gagged. Actually, I did gag. I nearly threw up. It was AWFUL. BAD BAD BAD.

Because it is human nature to want to taste gross things (“Oh my God…this is disgusting…here, taste it”) and also, I think, because I am sick and my senses of taste and smell are out of whack, Owen tried it too. He promptly gagged on it as well and, without a moment’s hesitation, poured the whole thing down the disposal.

It turns out that in all that recipe reading (which now occurs to me may have actually been a very worthwhile use of time), he somehow missed the part that says, “First you have to take the skin off the oranges.” By the time we’d come to that conclusion, though, the morning juice-making allotment of time was well used up and we had to move on to making breakfast and getting ready for work. Owen made his lunch and I was left to clean the quite literally powdered orange rind out of the juicer.

Here’s a crafty little sidebar: when combined with water, orange rind dust makes a pleasant-smelling clump of clay-type substance. I (and you too!) may want to experiment with it as an artistic medium in the future.

We are not defeated, though! We have vowed to try making juice again just as soon as a.) the juicer and all remnants of the putrescence we tried to call juice has been thoroughly cleaned out and sterilized by the dishwasher, b.) we have time to try again and c.) we forget how truly awful that first batch was. After all, we’re part of the e-generation. We ought to be able to figure out a friggin’ juicer… recipe or not.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Hello everybody! I hope you all had fantastic holiday weekends full of family and new memories. (For related taled of holiday debauchery, see Amy's Blog). Owen and I sure did and Sam especially did. Not even born yet and he’s spoiled rotten – he got his own bag full of Christmas gifts from members of the entire family (including a "my first MP3 player" from Aunt Rachel and Uncle Jeff)! Just as Owen did for himself when he was a kid, he insisted on laying all Samuel’s loot out in a picturesque array on the floor so it could be studied and admired. He then decided we couldn’t put any of it away until we took a picture.

We had quite a crowd opening gifts at HL on Sunday: 1 great grandpa, 1 great grandma, two sets of grandparents (that equals 4 of them), 11 of my generation (this includes spouses) and 5 of the generation we like to call the great grands – and that’s not even counting Sam! We also had six more people for dinner. What a houseful!

I feel I must apologize to them all now for being less than chipper on the big day. I was up all night on Christmas Eve not out of excitement, but due to severe pain in my left ear and a sore throat. After having finally made it to the doctor this morning, she has told me that I have “Severe Sinusitis” and am in the running for a bonus ear infection. She sent me home from work today and told me to take tomorrow off too. So, for once, I am writing from home. It feels odd.

But, back to the fun part! I also wanted to just sent out a preliminary thank you to everybody (the real thing will be coming along soon, promise) for once again being so generous to us this season, especially our parents.

Among his favorite items, Owen received a KISS bowling ball. I was unable to get my hands on it to take a picture (I think it may very well be in our bed where he’s been sleeping with it), but it is quite a sight to behold! He also got a handheld police scanner, which, he says, is quite enjoyable to listen to. We live just across the street from the local fire department and now he gets to know all the happenings. His buddy/golf league partner/bowling league cohort Kevin, says he has spent many an enjoyable evening hearing his ex-girlfriends getting picked up for DUI’s and the like. I also made him a book of essay's from NPR's "This I Believe" series, which we both love and which I highly recommend. They don't have a book out (yet) and so I copied and printed all of them and then bound them into a binder so we could keep adding them as they air new ones every week (check your local listings - ours is on Monday mornings). Owen also received, though he has generously offered to share it with Sam, a small nest full of baby dinosaurs. There’s a story behind it, but I’ll leave that for him to tell if he ever writes on his blog again (I’ll remind him).

Sam also received a number of baby-sized KISS items: a bib, a cap, a onesie and a twp-piece set. They’re quite funny though I have to admit that I don’t know anybody else who shops for their
baby at Hot Topic. Our thanks to Laura and Grammy Sylv for those awesome items!

P.S. The two-piece set says “Rock and roll all night” on the shirt and “Potty every day” on the rear-end of the bottoms.

As for me, my favorites were mostly smaller in nature. I got an iHome stereo into which I can plug my iPod to listen to in the kitchen. It has fantastic sound and also picks up NPR extremely well. One of the coolest things I got was a doorstopper in the image of the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East (from the Wizard of Oz) still wearing the Ruby slippers (this would be after the house fell on her and just before Glinda gave the slippers to Dorothy).

I also got several games (I LOVE family game night!) and a few books. My favorites of the books are the children’s books (nothing new there!): one called “Mooses Come Walking” by Arlo Guthrie and one called “Nothing but Miracles,” which is composed of pictures and the poem of the same name by Walt Whitman excerpted from his 1900 larger poem called “Leaves of Grass.” It’s an absolutely beautiful poem that seems to be especially appropriate during the holiday season. Perhaps it strikes a chord with me as I feel the kickings and flutterings of my unborn baby boy, who truly is a miracle, by any definition. (Whoever says that science and religion are a world apart ought to take a look at reporductive medicine - nothing but miracles!)

Nothing But Miracles
By Walt Whitman

WHY, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with anyone I love, or sleep in the bed at night with anyone I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the ships with the men in them, What stranger miracles are there?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Behold...the power of genetics

Yesterday, Sam and I went for our six month checkup. The doctor says that everything is coming along just as it should. She did have one problem, though. She had a hard time getting a clear sound of his heartbeat. He wouldn’t sit still long enough for her to get a measurement of it. She’d get it for a second and then he’d bounce away. Then she’d poke around for a minute, locate it again, and have it for just a second before he’d bounce away again. I think I’m in trouble.

Absolutely Velma-riffic

Both Velma and Elfie despise winter with every ounce of their furry little beings. Velma often seems particularly offended by the snow and, most mornings, will refuse to put all four feet on the ground. She will hold one front paw up off the ground and tucked into her chubby little tummy as if to demonstrate that it is so freaking cold that she simply cannot bear having all four paws in the snow at once. It is simply too much to ask of her.

We love our cats. We do what we can to give them all the little creature comforts they deserve…within reason. (We have determined that snow blowing the entire yard is not within reason, sadly for them.) It turns out that they are part feline, part camel, and are constantly thirsty. This has proven to be a challenge here in northern Michigan because, as you might have guessed, it gets cold here in winter. Wet things outside tend to freeze when it’s 7 degrees outside. Now, because we are a good kitty mama and daddy, we bought them a heated water dish so that they would always have nice, unfrozen water to drink. The dish doesn’t make the water hot or anything, it just keeps the water temp above freezing to keep it liquid.

If you are a science geek like me (who recently got very upset with C.S.I.’s Gil Grissom for wrongly using the term “terminal velocity”), you might know that because of the humidity and the variation in temperature, standing water that cannot freeze tends to evaporate rather quickly (lake effect snow, anyone?). It follows naturally that, though the bowl holds 2 cups, between being ingested by the cats and the evaporation needs to be refilled every other morning to keep our babies in fresh water. This morning it was empty, as scheduled.

Also this morning, Velma made a brilliant discovery. There is never any snow inside the water dish. AND…when all the water is gone, not only is the bottom of the dish nice and dry, it is also vaguely warm. She then determined the empty water dish to be an absolutely perfect perch, keeping ALL FOUR paws nice and dry and, yes, even perhaps a little warm.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This is dull because I am too tired to be clever...

I am now back at work from my long weekend off. One of the nice parts of being grant-funded is that holidays have to be figured into the budget from year to year no matter when they fall. This means that, for example, when Christmas falls on a Sunday, there are two paid holiday days (Christmas and Christmas Eve) that fall on the weekend and, therefore, must be used at some other point during the pay period. I took my two Christmas holidays this past Monday and Tuesday in an effort to give myself some down time to wrap up loose ends before Christmas. I have my two New Year’s holiday days next week. Yay!

Saturday, mom, Rachel and I went to the salon for our girls spa day. Mom got a massage and Rachel and I got facials. This one didn’t hurt as much as last time because I was sure to tell the lady that I have sensitive skin. Rachel’s only complaint was that her lady put some kind of mentholated cream on her feet and she was cold much of the time. Mom could hardly walk after her massage…but she kept the masseuse’s card and plans to go back. After we were done at the salon, we went out for lunch and then met the boys at the theatre to see The Family Stone. Despite the fact that there were parts of it that were surprisingly sad, I liked it. It reminded me a lot of my family and parts of it really hit home but, on the whole, I thought it was good. After the movie, we raced home for quick dinner and then had to get changed to go to the ballet. Mom, Rachel, Jeff and I saw The Nutcracker. We had 5th row seats and I enjoyed it a lot. For the last couple of years, I have gone to the ballet at Christmas and I like the way it makes me feel so festive.

Sunday morning we all went out for breakfast together, which was nice. We got to revisit the Flap Jack Shack that caused so much trauma a few years back when we were too snowed in to make it to Houghton Lake for Christmas. None of us has ever forgotten that Christmas. Then Owen headed home and we all went back to the house. Matt replaced the faucet on mom and dad’s sink and I don’t know what else happened because I went to take a nap. Mom woke me up in time for a whole-family game of…um…the name of the game is slipping my mind. I’m drawing a complete blank. It was fun, though. The first time in a LONG time I can remember playing with the whole fam-damily. Oh, I know…it was “Imaginiff!” After that, everybody left and mom and I went to do some shopping and rent March of the Penguins. It was really good and I highly recommend it.

Monday mom took the day off and so she and I spent the day running errands with Joe. We’d originally planned to go paint pottery, but the place was closed. Instead, we took Joe for a haircut and also to run a few smaller errands. He was very displeased to discover that HE was the reason we were at the salon and grumbled at the stylist the whole time, even though I told him that she was a professional and she wouldn’t let him look stupid. I figured he’s young and naive enough to believe it. Her one saving grace was that she put gel in at the end, which Joe thought was VERY cool and made his haircut a little less dorky (but only a little). He also informed me, at age 9, that he now likes rap music (though he had no idea who Snoop Dog is) and also that he would like a spiked cuff for his wrist. He wanted to know what the rap stations around here are. I told him that we don’t have any up here and he was happy to settle for a country station. So he’s not that hard core. Yet.

Joe really wanted Grammy (what he calls my mom) and I to take him to see King Cong. I suggested that, perhaps, Grandma Kit might like to go with him to watch the 3-hour cinematic feat (since she is very big on beating out the rest of us and doing all the big, expensive things with him, I figured it served her right….um…I mean…it could be her privilege/penance).

Yesterday morning it was time to get up and get things packed up and cleaned up so he could go spend a couple of days with Grandma Kit before Christmas. We got him up and dressed and, most importantly, got his hair gelled (mom bought him some at the grocery after we went to the salon). Because I am practicing being a child-rearing expert, I told him as he was eating breakfast that I was going to go shower and then afterward he and I would need to get all his stuff packed up. However, by the time I got out of the shower, he’d done it all himself. So then I told him that he could watch TV for a few minutes while I dressed and then we would need to make his bed. By the time I was dressed he’d made his bed (both side of a big double bed) all by himself. It looked fabulous – he’d even remembered to put on the decorative throw pillows. Best as I can figure, it must have been the hair gel.

Catching up...

Just so you don’t think I’ve been ignoring this blog on purpose for the last…um…few…days, I wanted to make sure you all know that, in fact, I HAVEN’T. I have been writing down my blog idea almost every day. What I have been neglecting is actually sitting down and typing them up. There, I admit, I have dropped the ball. However, because I have been taking notes, I am now well-prepared to catch you all up. Only now it turns out that I can’t remember why I put some of these things on the list as they seem very dull and uninteresting and so my blog will be shorter than I’d thought. You can thank me later.

First, Owen’s company Christmas party was two weekends ago. People always complain about company Christmas parties and how much they suck but, really, I think it is their spouses who ought to have first dibs on the complaining. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself. I did, actually. I had a very nice time. His co-workers are all very nice and were all very eager to meet me (something about “the woman who can keep him in line” I heard…). I have to say that they’re a touchy-feely lot…I was given hugs by people whose names Owen couldn’t remember. As we were among the last to arrive, I choose to believe that many of them were already well into the egg nog. Also, I will have to remember that, next year, I will have to take my ball gown out of moth balls as it was VERY fancy…and I’m not kidding about the ball gown thing. Luckily, I have the excuse of the lack of ball gowns available to pregnant women to help cover up my faux pas this year. Whew!

I also wanted to mention that the owner of Owen’s company took some time before dinner to go through each division’s achievements through out the year and kind of pep them up for the year to come. Though he would never write about it on his own, I wanted to mention that Owen is the only person in the company (which includes 4 separately staffed divisions) to be mentioned by name. Even though he blew it off, I was and am very proud of him for all his hard work. At the beginning of the month he was promoted and is now the Director!

I also wanted to mention the food at the party. The salad was covered in condiment, so I could not eat it. It didn’t bother me as I expect this at almost every dinner. Owen and I RSVPed for the prime rib, which was pretty good. For dessert they served carrot cake, and that is what I wanted to talk about specifically. I am not a fan of carrot cake…and I’d had my heart set on some sort of sinfully rich chocolate something dripping in whipped mousse and chocolate sauce. But instead they served carrot cake…and in my opinion they might as well have served squash. The notion of parading a vegetable as a delectable and naughty dessert is just perverted…and offends me to the core. Vegetables and desserts come from two completely different food groups…and it’s a sham to try and sneak carrots into the one with all the fats, sugars, white flours and calories. It’s almost as offensive as how much fat there is in an avocado. Fat in a vegetable? You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

Next on the agenda: I am feeling very pregnant…and, moreover, very rotund all of a sudden. Christmas Day will also mark the six-month mark for the baby and I. (This past Sunday was 23 weeks.) It all seems quite sudden that I am not unable to find a comfortable position in which to sleep and also that my back hurts almost all the time. Incidentally…it isn’t really a secret anymore that we’ve decided to name the baby Samuel Evar Robert. I know, I know, two middle names. But we couldn’t pick just one and both felt that we’d like to recognize the significance of our Grandpas in our lives. So, two middle names is it, like it or kump it. Let’s hope he’s smart enough that he only has to take the ACT once or else he may spend the better part of his life filling in the little bubbles to spell out his name.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My new career as a fashion designer

Guess what? The hat I knitted for our auction, about which I have recently posted, sold at the auction last night for $24! Look out Milan, here I come!

Seriously, though, I wonder if I might be able to sell some to local children's botiques.

Lunch Break

Well...I have been making a list of imnportant and noteworthy things to write about when I have the time but, for now, I have done the cheater blog and am posting another one of those survey things that seem so prevalent these days. I like to answer them because I like to think about the questions. I also love to read them about my friends and family because they always seem to offer some little insight or some little something I didn't know about them before. They're fun. So here's mine. From Owen. Who stole it from Andrew Andrew.

Name? Sarah
Birthday? October 11

Current location? In my office at work, hiding behind a massive stack of donated Christmas gifts for a local family
Eye Color? Bluish greenish grayish (nobody can ever tell me)
Hair Color? Reddish brown. More red than usual lately…of its own accord.
Height? 5’1” on a good day (and taller when I wear my big-girl shoes)
Right Handed or Left Handed? Right
Your heritage? Scottish…and other less important nationalities (if You’d asked my Grandpa Em)
The shoes you wore today? Esprit shoes Owen called “cute” this morning. Freshly polished, even.
Your weakness? Sweets…and I’ve recently been told that I have inherited my mom and grandpa’s soft spot for helping the needy.
Your fears? At the moment? Never losing the weight I’ve gained in pregnancy.
Your perfect pizza? Ham & black olive with a sauce that’s not to sweet and a thick crust.
Goal you would like to achieve in 2006? I’d like to secure a teaching job.
Your most overused phrase on an instant messenger? I don’t know…haven’t used it in forever.
First thoughts upon waking up today? F*cking alarm clock. Is it Friday? Sh*t I hate Wednesday.
Your best physical feature? My imposing, super-model height. Heheheh….or my hair
Your bedtime? Usually sometime between 9:30 and 10:30
Your most missed memory? I miss my Grandma so incredibly much
Pepsi or Coke? Caffeine-free diet Coke until junior's born...and then regular Diet Coke.
McDonalds or Burger King? I’m ultra picky…so I will only eat McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries or BK’s cheeseburger.
Single or Group Dates? Dates? I hate dates. Raisins are okay, though. And I LOVE dried cherries.
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea? Neither…ick
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate…except ice cream. Can’t gag down the chocolate ice cream.
Cappuccino or Coffee? I repeat: neither…ick
Do you smoke? Never…not even once
Do you swear? On occasion. I like to save them up and then use them when it counts.
Do you sing? Sure do…but only when nobody’s listening ‘cause I suck.
Do you shower daily? Why, do I stink?
Have you been in love? Sentimentality alert: Yes…I love my husband more than anything…and I’d be lost without him. Funny, since I’m often lost WITH him.
Do you want to go to college? Always. I love college. I’d do nothing but go to classes the rest of my life if I could afford it.
Do you want to get married? I think I’ll stick with this Owen. Thanks for asking, though.
Do you believe in yourself? I’ve always believed that I could do anything I wanted if I was willing to work hard enough for it. It’s motivating myself to get up off my ass that’s the hard part.
Do you get motion sickness? Sometimes if I ride way in the back seat of a van (like in the 3rd seat).
Do you think you are attractive? Honestly? Not really.
Are you a health freak? Nope. Too expensive. Plus, I like Oreos WAY too much.
Do you get along with your parents? Exceptionally well. With my in-laws too. I’m way lucky.
Do you like thunderstorms? They’re okay. I hate when they wake me up, though.
Do you play an instrument? Somewhere my 6th grade band teacher is laughing at you for even asking. My piano teacher too.
In the past month have you drank alcohol? Nope…not since our waitress in Chicago accidentally gave me a loaded daiquiri and then nearly started to cry when I freaked because there was alcohol in it.
In the past month have you smoked? Eh…no.
In the past month have you been on drugs? Just my prescriptions
In the past month have you gone on a date? No…we used to go to the movies all the time but lately it just seems like we’re too busy or too tired…usually both.
In the past month have you gone to a mall? Yeah…a lot.
In the past month have you eaten a box of Oreos? Well…not in one sitting, if that’s what you mean…
In the past month have you eaten sushi? Sushi is a violation of my “nothing that has ever lived in water” dietary rule.
In the past month have you been on stage? No
In the past month have you been dumped? No
In the past month have you gone skinny dipping? Yikes! It’s December in Northern Michigan. Are you freaking nuts?
In the past month have you stolen anything? No
Ever been drunk? Um…yeah…but not since two summers ago.
Ever been called a tease? (this is me blushing) Yes.
Ever been beaten up? No
Ever shoplifted? No
How do you want to die? Honestly? Quietly, at home…and before my kids or my husband.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Able to pay all my bills and get rid of all my debt.
What country would you most like to visit? Russia…without a doubt.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Feelin' fruity

Well….I know I haven’t done a good job keeping up this last week or so, but things have been kind of hectic gearing up for our Holiday auction at work so, all my blogging time has been eaten up by actual work. Yesterday I didn’t even get a lunch break. Anyway…because I’m not able to volunteer to work the evening auction (too much cigarette smoke), I decided to make a donation. And I actually made it. It’s nothing big or special, but it’s all me.

Also, just a little upddate: this Sunday marked 22 weeks for me and the baby.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I almost forgot!

I almost forgot my weekly update! Our little boy is now 21 weeks along. Click here to read all about it!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

White Christmases: quaint or overrated?

This past weekend, Owen and I went to our little town’s Christmas Open House. On this night, the downtown merchants stay open late and have special sales and serve all sorts of little treats and goodies. And booze. You can get anything from spiked coffee and cocoa to wine and champagne, if you’re willing to brave the crowds. It’s a pretty good time, kicked off by the quintessential small town ceremony: the lighting of the community Christmas tree. There’s also the K of C selling cocoa and monster-brats, the community bean pot to benefit local charities and the high school’s steel drum band playing in the street.

There’s not much more surreal then huddling up to listen to a steel drum band play in 20-degree temperatures with 20 mph winds swirling the snow. In fact, the band had to take a break after every song to clean the snow off the drums. Apparently, it throws the sound off. And, apparently I’m tone deaf. In any case, imagine all the fun of listening to a steel drum band without the hassle of going someplace warm to do it. And, if you’re really lucky like me, you can wake up the next morning and, instead of having a sunburn, you can have a windburn. Yay!

We also did our holiday decorating this past weekend. As always, our Christmas tree sports an eclectic combination of vintage/antique ornaments, homemade ornaments from our childhoods, sports ornaments and modern licensed character ornaments. It’s very “us.”

Our outdoor decorating did not go quite as planned. Having only enough extension cords to do one bush, it was our determination that all the lights would go on that bush. It was also our determination that we did not have a ladder, and so all the lights go about as high up as Owen could reach. Then he got the bright idea of throwing the spool of lights up over the bush to put some lights up higher. Then he promptly ran out of lights. The result? Let’s just say that, in the dark, with the lights on, our bush looks like somebody spilled a bottle of Viagra right underneath it.

P.S. We got 14” of snow last night. We both got stuck trying to get to work this morning. We’re supposed to get 5” – 10” more by 6 tonight. We got a new snow blower this afternoon. Yay!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Now that I have a little more time, let me tell you all a story. As you may have noticed, Owen and I found out that the baby is a boy. Actually, people seem quite impressed by his ultra-sound photos and have expressed to me, on numerous occasions, how well-endowed he is (we’re still talking about the baby here…). In fact, after hearing the office scuttlebutt about it, my boss, who would make a darn good female softball player, if you know what I mean, marched into my office and demanded to see proof (this is the woman who only recently acknowledged that I’m even pregnant). “I want to see his penis,” she told me. Since I’d hate for ser to suffer rejection the first time she ever asked, I took out the photo and showed her. She studied it for a moment, looked up at me, glared at me for bringing yet another ass-hole male into the world, and walked out of my office. Apparently she didn’t like what she saw.

Anyway, upon finally finding out the baby’s sex, I somehow managed to convince Owen that we should go make him (the baby) a bear at the Build-A-Bear Workshop when we were in Mishawauka for Black Friday. I have secretly always wanted to do this. I’m not sure why. After going there Friday, I have begun to question if it might be that I’m a closet masochist.

The moment we walked into the store, we both began undressing. Not out of any desire to go to jail, but we had to lose a few layers because we were now in tropical heat. Imagine…19 degrees outside with 50 mph wind gusts and sweating buckles at Build-A-Bear. There was a line but, given the staggering lines we’d been seeing all day, it didn’t seem bad. 20 minutes later, we had not moved one step and neither one of us could take any more of either the uppity yuppie couple in front of us who talked endlessly about some lecturer or the 17-year-old couple who were so disgustingly sweet I thought I might vomit (“Baby, how about we record your voice saying ‘I love you’ so I can hug it and hear you all night?”) or the speed-freak 7-year old at the sound station in front of us who kept pressing the talk buttons in rapid-fire succession, not even letting one message finish before she pressed the button again (“I…I…I…I…I lo…I lo…I…I…I love you.”).

While we were waiting, an employee came by and gave us a barcode to put inside our bear. “That way if it gets lost,” she said, “It will always come back to you! But make sure you name it and make it a birth certificate if you want us to mail it back!” And then she was off. Owen and I looked at each other, both of us feeling as though we had been slimed by sweetness. “Mail it back?” I asked him. How will they get the barcode? They’ll have to gut him…how charming. I can just imagine some basement somewhere with knee-deep stuffing on the floor where they gut these bears to find their barcodes.” “Are we really going to make it a birth certificate?” Owen asked, alarmed. “Hell no,” I said. If it’s gone, it’s gone. And then, wonder of wonders, the line began to move and about 5 minutes later, Owen and I were standing in front of our bear surgeon.

Now, we had been watching the drill while we waited…and the drill is that they make you press a foot pedal to blow in the stuffing and then you choose a little stuffed heart for it. Before you can shove it in, though, you have to do all kinds of things to it. There didn’t seem to be any particular script but, among the things I heard were, “Rub it on your arms so it never gets cold,” “Rub it on your head so it never has a bad hair day,” “Rub it on your cheeks so it always has a smile” and on and on. I made a mental note to tell her she ought to tell the kids behind us to rub it on their you-know-whats so it doesn’t get VD. You then shove the heart into it’s back and pull the stitching tight. In it’s back….whatever.

After we’d filled ours, I grabbed a heart out of the bin-o-organs and smiled at the surgeon. “Now we can just shove it right on in there, right?” I said, hoping to avoid the shenanigans. She looked at me, disappointed, as though I’d ruined her favorite part. She then hesitated, smiled tentatively, and said “first you have to kiss it.” I stared at her. She smiled at me, gauntlet thrown. This was not up for discussion. I wiped it across my mouth and handed it to Owen. “You too,” I said. He stared at me. I stared back at him. Reluctantly, he kissed it and then we handed it back to her so she could finish.

By this time the line at the checkout was as long as the first line had been, so we decided that Owen would go wait in line while I picked out an outfit for our bear. While I was off wrestling with 6-year-olds for the last pair of blue jeans, Owen waited. The barcode lady returned to him, asking him cheerfully what he’d named his bear. “We didn’t,” he said, matter-of-factly.” She looked horrified. “You mean you didn’t…” “Nope,” He interrupted her. “We don’t care.” “But…then….what did you put on the birth certificate?” “Didn’t make one,” he answered. “The bear doesn’t care.” She looked hurt, let down, like her belief in the goodness of humanity had been brutally shattered…and then forlornly moved on.

At this point, I returned, outfit constructed. Owen was smiling. “What?” I asked, knowing better…he hadn’t smiled since we passed through the doorway. “Oh nothing,” he answered. “I just told her we didn’t make the bear a birth certificate because it doesn’t care.” I smiled back at him. “Communist,” I said, and we both had a good laugh.

We actually got our bear two outfits…an every day one and a SPECIAL one…a Pistons jersey. Now that I think about it, though, it wouldn’t surprise me to come home one day to find that Owen had tried it on the baby…just to see what it might look like.