Sunday, January 29, 2006

Babyville, party of three

This past weekend, Owen and I and our two moms spent incredible time and energy getting the nursery and house ready for Sam. Owen and mom spent all day Saturday painting the nursery and also putting a fresh coat of white on the crib, dresser and a set of bookshelves. Truly defining the phrase "above and beyond," mom got up at 6 a.m. today to finish. Everything looks fantastic. We even had time go paint pottery today while we waited for the last of the paint to dry. Here are some pictures...

This is the more "done" side of the room. We're not finished yet (we don't quite have all our furniture yet!). Things you may notice in this picture: the bookshelf contains "Bear," Owen's favorite stuffed animal from childhood, and "Mousie," who was mine. A discerning eye may also pick out George and Martha, a pair of hippos, and Toot and Puddle, both sets of little stuffed animals from fantastic children's books. The drawer fronts on the dresser were still a bit tacky, and so we left them open so as not to have them painted shut. The red and purple guy is a warthog we bought him in Chicago when we were just 12 weeks pregnant.

This is the crib and some of Sam's new friends. He has two "Ugly Dolls" monsters which Owen and I both love. There is also a little white goat that we bought the day we found out Sam was a "he" and a little bear dressed in blue that we bought for him in Chicago when we went to celebrate our anniversary in September. The purple critter is a dragon.

These are a few of the pictures we're planning to hang when we get more of the furniture in place. The one the upper left is a picture of David from Dave Shannon's No, David! - a FANTASTIC book. The one below it with the couch was a gift to me way back from my German sister, Steffi. I don't imagine she ever envisioned it in a nursery, but it seemed perfect. It's an odd size and they wanted $200 to frame it, so Owen and I cut the mat and framed it ourselves. I think it looks pretty good and cost less than 1/4 to do it our way! I painted the one on the right on a large piece of canvas I bought for $7 on clearance. I copied the cover of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. It's not perfect, but I think it's okay.

You may be noticing that children's books are a bit of a theme for us. We don't really have any one particular thing going, though. Besides the children's books, there are quite a few dinosaurs/dragons/monsters and, to add some interest, a fair amount of baseball items. We decided that one particular theme would be too limiting...and so we've just gone with things we like.

While mom and Owen were painting, Cathy and I spent the day cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen. Our goals were to make it a.) clean, b.) efficient and c.) capable of storing things such as bottles, etc. The kitchen now looks fantastic AND you can eat in it without fear of getting a bacterial infection in any open wounds. I don't have any pictures of that because, really, I know you all only want to see the baby stuff. I know I like looking at it much better. (No offense to the kitchen!)

I want to thank both my mom and Cathy for working so hard and helping SO MUCH. There is absolutely no way we could have gotten this all done so well or so quickly on our own. THANK YOU! I also wanted to thank Owen, because I know how much he hates both cleaning and painting and he did it all with minimal complaining. In truth, he spoils me rotten, tying my shoes for me and getting me snacks and the like so that I don't have to get up out of the chair (it's a bit of an ordeal because we're fudging the coffee table and a huge pillow for an ottoman as I have been ordered to spend more time with my feet up due to swelling).

One final note: Sam crossed the 29 week mark today. The time is simultaneously flying by and dragging by, and I'm not sure if I want delivery day to come tomorrow or if I want it never to come. I am leaning strongly towards the former...we're both so excited to meet the little kicker.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Confessions of a reluctant poster girl...

When I wrote my piece on Choice, I had no idea whatsoever that it would be read by so many people or receive anywhere near the attention it has attracted. I don’t say that as any sort of defense – I stand by what I said. However, I wrote it directed to a specific audience: my family. Up until Sunday, they were the only people who read my blog. Well, them and people who I assume got lost and ended up there by mistake.

Had I intended this piece to be a hard-hitting expose, I’d have written it as such. As was my intention, however, it was written more as a confessional piece than a raging manifesto. We have an unspoken truce in my family…some of us will be liberals and some of us will be conservatives…and we’ll agree not only to disagree but never to engage in political discussion. Why? Because we like each other…and because we all know there are other, more appropriate venues for tubthumping than, say, Christmas dinner. What I did was sort of a violation of the truce…and I somewhat expected to pay the price for it.

I am going to unequivocally state, though, that it is my resolution that this blog will not change one iota in nature despite the recent political attention it has attracted. So, dear readers, if it’s quirky snippets, crock-pot recipes, ultra sound photos and the occasional rant you’re looking for, you’re welcome to stick around. But this has not been, and will not become, a politically-oriented blog. I’m sorry to say that you’re going to be stuck reading about doctor visits and the like for the time being. I will not be engaging in verbal combat with angry readers…and will restrict my interactions with those people to their own venues.


And, Jake...if you're reading...I'm kind of sorry for being so harsh with you yesterday. I still think you're a pig and all, but I do have some mighty powerful hormones running the show these days. If it makes you feel any better, I'm a little grumpier than usual with everybody.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Dear Jake...a Blog For Choice Day response

I wanted to take a moment to welcome all the new "faces" who have passed through these last few days, thanks to the Blog For Choice Day event. I hope you'll stick around. Now...on to business

I come from a newspaper family. I know how easy it is to get into an editorial page pissing match (forgive the lingo) over political issues. And though I swore I wouldn’t do it with regards to my Blog For Choice day post, I feel that this comment cannot go unanswered, even though I appreciate the initial compliment. I am deeply, deeply offended. And whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, you should be too. After all, pro-lifers, he calims to be one of you...

jakejacobsen said...

Wel said! I disagree, but I found your arguments interesting and compelling.

One detail I would like to expand on. The reason the US leads in teenage abortion is illegal immigration and anchor babies. Remove that from the equation and the figures drop dramatically.

Dear Jake:

I had intended to begin my response to you by indicating that I’m sure you are a nice but misguided person. Please notice the past tense in that sentence. I’ve changed my mind. I checked out your blog. Turns out you're a malignant gorwth on the soul of America...

Am I reading your comment correctly? Are you actually telling me that, because of their citizenship standing, all those “dead babies” created by the “illegal” population DON’T COUNT?

That, because of their skin color IT DOESN’T MATTER?

That we should discount the experiences of all those people (who you say drive up the abortion rate) simply because they have not yet jumped through all the right hoops to attain American citizenship or because they were born someplace else, despite the fact that they live here, breathe this air, walk on this ground, work (some of them for disgustingly low wages), go to school, pay taxes (some of them do!), participate in social services and generally constitute a portion of the culture at large?

That is one of the most bigoted comments I’ve ever heard. They shouldn’t count…they’re not technically American. How deplorable. I would think that a pro-life individual would be against the death of any fetus/child, not just the ones who are American citizens. You, sir, are a festering black eye on the already mangled face of the pro-life movement.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

January 22, 2006...A Revalation...

What follows is a post that, unlike many of my posts, is not any way playful or joking. It is completely serious and I put incredible thought and effort into writing it. If, after reading the first paragraph or two, you decide that you would rather not read the rest, I understand and would only ask that you scroll down to the section labeled "Choice in my own life" and read that.
~Sarah~
Coming out:
Today, January 22, 2006, I’m going to do something that will surprise some of you. It may shock some of you. It certainly has the potential to disappoint, offend and even upset some of you. While I will be sorry if you are disappointed, I hope that you won’t stop reading this blog entirely. I also hope you will respect what I have to say.

Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. As an avid reader of Feministing.com, when I saw the open call for bloggers to participate in their Blog for Choice Day, I knew it was time.

Today I am “coming out,” as it were, as a person who supports the Pro-Choice Movement. You should understand that it has taken me a very, very long time to come to this conclusion. I wrestled with conflicting feelings about morality and social justice for many years because I was a person who would never want to have an abortion, and who would never counsel my friends and/or loved ones to do so unless absolutely necessary.

I know what many of you who know me must be thinking…how could I, who am now 7 months pregnant…how could I feel this way? I can assure you that it has been with significant consideration, research and introspection that I have reached this position. Let me explain.

The background:
Where I work, we see women every day who live in situations ranging from unfortunate and disadvantaged to truly desperate and terrible. Some of these women have been sexually and/or physically abused, sometimes repeatedly throughout their lives, often by the individuals they should have been able to trust most. Some of them are inescapably poor with no education, no job and no prospects. Some of them abuse drugs and/or alcohol. Some of them are young, still in school and still children themselves. They have upset and disappointed their families who then abandoned them just as the father of the child has abandoned them, leaving them to face pregnancy and motherhood virtually all alone. Many of these women believe they are in no shape physically, socially or mentally to carry or parent a child. It is my firm belief that we must respect the fact that they understand their own situations and personal limitations better than we do. As free citizens of this county, we must respect them as capable, decision-making adults, even if it means giving them the benefit of the doubt sometimes.

It is a common misconception that “pro-choice” is synonymous with “pro-abortion.” I have never in my life heard of anybody who was pro-abortion or who got pregnant just so she could have one. Nobody wants to have an abortion. Nobody. Nobody is proud to have had one. Make no mistake: whether or not to have an abortion is an awful choice to have to make. Nobody wants to make it. People who choose it view it as the better alternative for themselves. What does that tell us about their other options?

Some people would say that having an abortion is “taking the easy way out.” I disagree. People who choose abortion have almost always made an incredibly difficult decision. Many of them will live with sorrow and regret for the rest of their lives. Many of them will never, ever forget the day they put their decision into action and many of them will observe the child’s would-be birthday for the rest of their lives. I fail to understand how this could ever, in any way, be construed as “easy.” Clearly, people who claim this to be the “easy way” have no understanding of the complexities these women face in their life situations. Rather, they sit in judgment, seeing the world from only their own perspective. I’m not sure whether that’s fortunate or sad for them.

I would gladly cheer the day when abortion was no longer a necessary alternative in our society. That day, however, is a long way off. Before we can even consider eliminating abortion as an option, we must first give women better options. If we provided women with better alternatives to abortion, there would be no need to outlaw it. For me, being pro-choice means that I support giving women as many positive, healthy choices as possible. If we gave women several good alternatives, they wouldn’t need to look to tragic alternatives such as abortion. There are numerous improvements our society must make in order to put in place better options for women carrying unwanted pregnancies. It is my unwavering belief that, by choosing to simply condemn women as selfish and immoral instead of making these societal changes and putting the social programs in place to help them, our society takes the easy way out. These changes include, but are not limited to, the following:

Scientifically based, accurate sex education:
It is fundamentally unfair for our society to first deny young women (and men) the opportunity to learn the entire, scientific truth about sex and then castigate or condemn them for not understanding or planning for the consequences of it. The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy of any country in the developed world. Experts say that restriction to sex-ed, contraception, and condoms fuel this rate, while in European countries (who have less than half of the amount of teen pregnancies) teens are educated about and given confidential access to contraceptives. Government funding of abstinence-only programs has existed for well over 20 years. This past year, the Bush administration provided nearly $170 million to fund groups that teach abstinence only.

Recent studies compiled by the U.S. Congress report that not only are abstinence-only programs not giving students the whole truth, they are giving them boatloads of untruths. Many students participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been told outright lies, such as that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals can result in pregnancy. Though these programs are heavily subsidized by the federal government, the information given to students often directly contradicts the findings of government scientists.

Teens who learn about sex in abstinence-only programs refrain from having sex by an average of only two weeks longer than those who learn in comprehensive programs. In addition, 88% of teens who have taken “virginity pledges” still end up having pre-marital sex. The major problem, however, is that when these teens do have sex, they often fail to use safe contraceptives because they haven’t been taught about them. They are also more than twice as likely as conventionally educated students to experiment with “non-intercourse” forms of sex, such as oral and anal sex.

Though parents, education administrators, politicians and conservative interest groups claim that sex education encourages kids to have sex, studies have found that students in a comprehensive, scientifically-based sex-ed classroom do not become sexually active more often or earlier, and they use contraception more consistently, giving them better protection from both pregnancy and STDs. The simple truth is that we make tremendous efforts to keep students ignorant about sex and contraceptives and then condemn them when they become pregnant and choose not to deal with it how we might like them to.

One final thought: if these kids don’t learn about contraceptives at home, and they don’t learn about them in school, where can we expect them to learn about them?

Enforcement of paternity and child support:
It is far too easy in this country for a young woman to get pregnant and for the male who helped to get her that way to just disappear. Even “intelligent design” supporters acknowledge that human beings are made up of two sets of thirteen chromosomes and that half of those come from the “father.” Without his contribution, there would be no baby. And yet, all too often, because of the biological determination that females bear offspring, the father is able to simply walk away while the mother is left to handle the consequences alone. Too often, by the time the child is born, the father disappears, escaping his fair share of the consequences of their actions. I see absolutely no reason why, in this technological day and age, the responsibilities of paternity (such as paying child support) should be allowed to evaporate into the air. It is widely acknowledged that our current system is over-stressed, proof that the problem is enormous. It is categorically unfair to hold only the female partner responsible for the results of a mutual sexual encounter. It is far, far more unfair to hold a survivor of rape, abuse and/or incest responsible for a child when she was given no choice in the creation of the child. In fact, she is pregnant because of one of the most intimate and horrific personal violations known to humankind.

Social supports:
Because women are so often left to bear the brunt of child-rearing alone under our current system for enforcing child support, it is also critical that we develop better social programs to support both single moms and women everywhere. Deciding to keep a baby rather than to abort it becomes much easier when the mother can depend on programs that offer decent health care, rent and utilities subsidies and subsidized daycare. We cannot first say that a woman must carry a child to term and then say that she ought not to have chosen to have a child if her life was so challenging. That’s hypocritical.

The state of Michigan has many supports available to both single mothers and families who need assistance and who quality financially. That support, while looking fantastic on paper, is often unavailable to those who need it most because of loopholes in the way the law is written. Recently, I tried an experiment with the electronic Michigan Assistance and Referral Service (MARS) online to see what a typical single mother is able to get via public assistance. Here are my stats for the purpose of this experiment:

Hypothetically, I am a single mother, 28 years old, with a 4 year old dependant male child. We are both on Medicaid and have no disabilities or chronic medical problems. I do not smoke, drink excessively or have any social life to speak of. If I made minimum wage, that would be less than $11,000 per year…a sum I think we can all agree is ridiculous. So let’s say I make above minimum wage and am able to bring home $15,000 per year (A little over $7 per hour) before taxes. Since I have lost contact with the father of my child and his child support payments are not currently being enforced, I have no other supplemental income. I pay $600 per month for an apartment that includes heat, water, cooking fuel and trash removal. Because my child is 4 years old and not yet in school, I pay $25 per day for daycare. (This is the rate for the daycare owned by the nonprofit I work at.) That’s about $500 per month (or $6,000 per year).

According to MARS, my child is eligible for WIC (food vouchers) and that is all. I am not eligible for WIC, childcare subsidy or any kind of rent/utility assistance. I now have $1,250 per month to pay for rent ($600), daycare ($500), other utilities (phone, maybe cable TV), food and household items, my car and car insurance payment (so I can get to work), and basic needs for myself and my child such as clothing.

You may have caught on that my rent and daycare alone totaled $1,100…leaving only $150 for the entire month to pay for telephone; food for myself and for what WIC does not provide for my son; toiletries and basic cleaning items; and incidentals such as sheets, towels and clothing. I probably cannot afford my car – I will have to bum rides to work from friends and co-workers and hope that I can make it on time and don’t get fired for being late or absent. And I cannot afford things like books or toys for my child. (Click here to try MARS for yourself)

Explain to me how we can unequivocally state that, for this woman, this was the better choice. We do not live her life. We do not walk in her shoes. Most of us don’t know what it feels like to spend 40+ hours per week doing jobs that the rest of the country consider beneath them. We cannot know how difficult this life is for her. And yet we tell her that she should choose it as the better alternative. How do we know? The truth is that we don’t know…we just presume to.

Choice in my own life:
I’m sure many of you never knew this, but I have faced making a decision about abortion in my own life. About 10 months ago, Owen and I had all but given up on ever having a child of our own and were looking towards adoption. We’d just had devastating information from a reproductive endocrinologist, informing us that we would never conceive without the aid of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Because of the cost of the procedure (anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000) we knew that, at best, we would only be able to try it once. The success rate for IVF is poor; many people must try more than once or twice for it to work.

Even as I dealt with the crushing likelihood that I would never biological children of my own, had you asked me I would have told you that it was neither my place nor my right to force any woman to carry a child in a situation she did not believe to be the best for either her or the child. Even though it would have been women who carried an unwanted baby to term and then placed it up for adoption who could give me the family I wanted for myself, I still would have told you that it would have been undeniably selfish of me to require that of her.

My mom, bless her heart, advised us to seek a second opinion about our situation, which we did. The new doctor explained to us that there was another option that we could try before IVF. We could try an aggressive form of treatment that involved hyper-stimulation with injectible fertility drugs. The upside was that, compared to IVF, it was much less expensive and almost entirely covered by my insurance. The down side was that, because of my condition, we were at a very high risk of what doctors call “high-order multiples,” meaning 3 or more babies. Before he would agree to treat us, the doctor required that Owen and I make a determination about how we felt about what is called “selective reduction” or abortion of fetuses if there were too many. Would we want to try to carry 3, 4, 5 or even more babies to term? Or would we want to “selectively reduce” down to one or two? The issue was incredibly complicated. Carrying them all would mean severe risks not only to my health, but also to that of the babies. High-order multiples are often born with multiple severe health problems. Many times, one or more of them do not survive. Selectively reducing the number, however, would allow the remaining babies to grow bigger and healthier and would give them a much better chance of survival and a healthy life. It would also be risky in the short run, endangering the lives of all the babies. I would also be better for me and the surviving babies in the long run.

There I was, desperate for any baby, given my first glimpse of hope in a long time, and I was supposed to decide in the midst of that desperation if I could abort some of them – some of my babies – if there were too many. It was a decision we wrestled with for weeks. I can honestly tell you that, though Owen tells me we did technically come to a decision, I can’t remember what it was. It doesn’t matter. Like so many women who face the possibility of abortion, there was no good choice…no positively right answer. All we could do is hope for the best...hope that we would never have to act on our decision. I was very, very lucky. Thanks to the very close supervision of my doctors, I conceived only one baby and never had put any choice into action.

Conclusion:
That is how I can sit at this computer 7 months pregnant with a child I consider to be a medical miracle and tell you that I am, in fact, pro choice. I have faced the very real possibility of having to make that choice. I recognize and am thankful every day for the incredible luxury life affords me, and that so many of us take for granted. I am educated, I have a supportive husband, I live in a nice house, I work at a job that pays decently and am surrounded by a family that loves and supports me. And yet, none of that made my choice the least bit better or easier. I cannot imagine facing a similar decision under worse circumstances.

I am blessed with the ability to have this child and to know that I will be able to take care of him and give him the things he needs. I also consider myself blessed because I can recognize how lucky I am. I truly pity those who cannot see beyond the limitations of their own privilege to acknowledge and attempt to understand the lives and lack of good choices so many Americans have to choose from every single day.

I also thought I would mention that Owen also posted a blog entry in participation with today's "Blog for Choice." Click here to read it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Today's Doctor Visit

Sam and I went to the doctor again today (I can’t go anywhere without him, you know) for a checkup. On Sunday we will officially be 28 weeks along, roughly 7 months. It’s kind of hard to believe.

The doctor says everything is fine and normal. I should stop lifting things at work and make sure to elevate my feet whenever possible to keep swelling down. Both she and my family doctor (whom I saw yesterday) noticed and commented on it. She again put her little magic machine on my tummy and Owen and I could hear his heart beating once more. I asked if there would be another ultrasound but the nurse told me that, unless there is a problem, there will be no more. I was kind of bummed. I’ve been spoiled by all of them and was hoping to get another, more updated peek at him before April. They also sent me to the lab for what will hopefully be the last of my lab work: a 1-hour glucose test to make sure my blood sugar is fine. The phlebotomist did a terrible job – missed the vein and began to dig around with the needle. I freaking hate that. It hurts.

The doctor also says things are “coming along” enough now that I am to go in for a visit every three weeks.

I am really looking forward to next weekend when mom and Owen will be painting the nursery and putting a fresh coat of paint on the crib. It’s nice to see things finally coming together in there and having it done will do wonders for my insomnia.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hay...how cool...

My my my it’s a beautiful world
I like swimming in the sea
I like to go out beyond the white breakers
Where a man can still be free (or a woman if you are one)

I’d like to give a big, friendly shout-out to Colin Hay (formerly of the group Men at Work) for remembering to mention the fairer sex in his song “Beautiful World.” Perhaps many of you have already noticed and I am way behind the curve. Or perhaps you didn’t notice either. In any case, thanks, Colin!

P.S. (Totally unrelated) How is it that it is only 10 a.m. and I have only been at work for two freaking hours? It feels like I've been here for days...

Simply the best...

Warning: this blog is largely about cleaning and cleaning products. It is most likely quite boring. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For the past several months, our house has been driving me slowly insane. There have been all these projects…nothing huge but also nothing really small, just things that have really needed to be done. The problem is that we’ve not had much time in the last few months to work on them. This past weekend they all ganged up on me, giving me the just about worst bout of insomnia I’ve had yet. So, Owen and I have made a “to do list” and have been working on it in evenings and on weekends.

Yesterday I tackled the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink. It had gotten so bad under there that stuff was just heaped up and you couldn’t find anything. So, I took everything out, wiped it down, and put it back in a more organized fashion. It was in doing this that I rediscovered a tiny sample-sized bottle of Simple Green. Actually, I rediscovered a number of things, but most of them are too disgusting for me to admit to out here in the blogosphere. Believe it or not, it had come in a package of free sample stuff we got at a maternity store in Chicago way back in September.

I set it on the counter, thinking I might be able to use it on some of the kitchen because we’d run out of Clorox spray. When I’d finished with the cabinet, I sprayed a little on the counter and wiped it down. Now, our stove had been bugging me for a LONG time. The problems with it are many. For one, somebody who shall remain nameless and who lives in my house is a very sloppy cook. S/he hardly ever remembers to wipe up sinks, counters or stoves when finished cooking. This is compounded by the fact that the stove is a gas stove and the pilot lights, which stay permanently lit, keep parts of the surface of the stove warm enough that stuff really cooks on badly if not cleaned up routinely.

Our stove hadn’t been cleaned since…um…a long time, and it has been driving me crazy. So last night I sprayed a little Simple Green on it and *Poof* half an hour or so later the stove was looking like new (no exaggeration). The big feat, though, was that I also used it to clean the hood. This is no small task. I’ve tried using soft scrub, bleach, you name it, to get off that slimy coat of cooking residue that always seems to land there. But, seriously, all I had to do was spray on a little Simple Green and wipe it off with a rag – no joke.

Disclaimer: The directions on the bottle say that to use the product at full strength is to dilute it 1 part to ten parts water. For gentler cleaning, use it at 1:30. I used it straight from the bottle. So I’m hoping the stove hasn’t melted away by the time I get home. Not that it matters TOO much…we mostly use the crock pot nowadays anyway.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Weeping Beauty

Weeping beauty. That’s Owen’s new nickname for me. He calls me this because in my current state I can, at any moment, burst out into tears over anything…or nothing. And I do mean that literally. But it would seem I’m not the only one.

Yesterday, on the way to Owen’s mom and dad’s house for church, we had quite an interesting moment. We took the back way, winding, hilly country roads that are not nearly as well-traveled as those of the highway. We like to go that way. Yesterday, on the way, we could see from quite some distance (I would say almost a mile) that a herd of what we suspected were deer were crossing the road. As we neared, we could tell for sure that’s what they were. Because we’d seen them from so far away, we began to slow down well in advance of them. By the time we were within 20 yards of them, we had stopped. They continued on, completely ignoring us as they crossed from the woods on one side of the road to the woods on the other side. Once they’d all passed, which took about 2 or 3 minutes, I’d say, we continued on.

When we got to the house, we discovered that we were early and so we decided to work on our menu for the week as we waited. Since Owen’s mom and dad use the same crock-pot cookbook that we are so fond of, we decided just to look through that one to make our shopping list. As I thumbed through the pages and Owen played secretary, he paused a moment a looked up at me. “You know,” he said, “Last week was about the best week of meals we’ve had in a long time. And it was the healthiest too. It’s so nice to come home to real food.” And with that, he gave a sniffle and brushed away a tear. I stared at him for a moment, doing my best to respect his male sensitivity and not to laugh. But after a minute, he said, “Cripe…I’m crying over deer and crock-pot recipes. What the hell is wrong with me?” So then I had to ask him… “Are you pregnant too? Because crying all the time is totally my gig. You stole it.”

And he calls ME weeping beauty…at least I can blame my hormones. I guess for him we have to blame “sympathy” hormones.


P.S. Sam hit 27 weeks today. Check it out.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What a crock!

Okay...because the topic has come up a lot lately in both conversations and on the blogs of which I am a regular reader, I have decided to share two recipes with everybody. They're crock pot recipes...and they're very good. They're from a cookbook Owen and I got for Christmas from his mom and dad called "Fix it and Forget it Lightly." NOTE: If you're my dad, and I very much doubt you are (for one, the odds are against you. Also, reading this would mean you were on the 'net and I KNOW BETTER), but if, by chance, you are, please read the title as "Fix it and Forget it." The food will no doubt taste much better!

This frist one is among my favorites of the new things we've tried lately. If you serve it with rice (We like the Lipton Rice Medley, chicken flavor), it is even better.

Super Easy Chicken
Ingredients:
4 frozen bonless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 package dry Italian dressing mix
1 cup chicken stock

Directions:
1. Put the chicken in the crock pot. Sprinkle the dressing mix on top and then pour the chicken stock over it.
2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. (Sounds super easy, huh?)

This one is Owen's favorite. He likens it to red beans and rice.

Beef and Beans
Ingredients:
2 1/2 Lbs. beef, trimmed of fat abd cubed into small pieces
1 15 1/2 oz. can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 1/2 oz. can of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 14 1/2 oz. cans of diced italian-style tomatoes (the ones with onion and garlic), undrained
1/2 tsp. black pepper.

Directions:
1. Put everything in the cooker.
2. Cover and cook for 8-9 hours, until beef is tender.
3. Serve over rice.

See? Way easy and very tasty!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Potpourri

I have several things to talk about today, so I decided to whip us all up a nice little batch of blogger potpourri.

Yesterday, Owen and I found out that we have been pre-approved for our mortgage. Apparently, all we have to do now is show the lender that Owen wasn’t lying and we will be able to officially own the house we live in. We’ve been living here for close to two years with a rent to own deal in place. Our rental agreement expires on April first (notice that’s two weeks before Sam’s scheduled debut) and I was freaking that we were going to end up having to move if we didn’t get something in place soon. Though it’s not the house of our dreams, it’s the house where all our stuff is right now, and there’s something to be said for that. Also, we love the lot and the location and it has a lot of potential. It’s also a fairly decent location for the golf shop.

In other and almost as exciting news, as of today, the contract for our beach house for the summer is currently en route. Translation: vacation is ON. Amy, our rental negotiating agent, has done a FANTASTIC job selecting and negotiating this year’s location and gets major kudos for her negotiating prowess. Well done, Amy! It’s a brand new house, 500 feet from the ocean with 9 bedrooms, 9 baths, 2 pools, 2 hot tubs, two game rooms and an elevator. It sleeps 23. Click here to check it out. Paradise, here we come. It will be Sam’s first vacation. My only fear: how can we ever top this? I’d hate to have his vacation experiences peak when he’s two months old.

Vacation countdown: as of today we’ll be there in 22 weeks and 3 days. (Sounds a little better than 157 days, doesn’t it?)

Public declaration: I hereby refuse to go back to work from my maternity leave under any circumstances until I have spent my week at the beach.

Unrelated topic:

Last night at Lamaze, things started to get weird. The instructor wanted me to “breathe into your spine.” I do not know how to do this. Instead, I just concentrated on simultaneously blocking her out while also not falling asleep there in the dark with my two pillows, my comfy mat and the soft music. Actually, I only had one pillow as the “partners” were given permission to lie down and relax as well and Owen inadvertently stole one of mine. Also, I was careful not to laugh out loud.

Also last night we were given a list of affirmations for us to use to build ourselves up for the big day. There was a list for both the moms and the partners. The Instructions say to “write them down many times during the course of week” and also to “say them out loud and use your name in the sentences.” Example: Sarah is a strong and capable woman. I wish all the affirmations were so…um…comforting. Here, however, are a few choice selections of what I feel are the more…well…comical affirmations:

I am welcoming my contractions. (Who are we kidding here? I’m terrified of them and, if it were acceptable, would almost prefer a general anesthetic and then waking up the next day with my baby there waiting for me.)

I embrace the concept of healthy pain. (Again, who believes this crap? Parenthood is looking more and more masochistic to me every day. I embrace the concept of anesthetics and analgesics. )

My uterus is strong and dependable. (This sounds to me like a Chevy commercial. Are we planning a cross-country trip in my uterus? Notice it doesn’t mention cargo space. “My uterus is cramped with very little leg-room and no trunk.”)

Though I love to make jokes about Lamaze, it is also true that every time we go I end up crying at least once. I have no idea why, but I do.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Baby updates...

I know what you’re thinking…it’s Sunday. Is Sarah at work on a Sunday? Not on your life. And then when am I doing, you ask? Well, I am actually blogging at home. Crazy, huh? I think it must be the hormones.

Also, because it’s Sunday, I thought it would be a good idea to give a baby update.
As of today, Sam the man and I are 26 weeks along. We’ve recently passed a few milestones in the whole pregnancy thing.

For one, Owen and I went to our first Lamaze class last Tuesday. It went pretty well, all things considered. Actually, it went astonishingly better than I thought it would when the instructor began by whipping out a hand-knit model of a uterus. I know what you’re thinking and no, I didn’t make it up. And, for the record, just in case you’ve never seen an actual hand-knit model of a uterus, they’re red and white striped. Who knew? And all this time I’d imagined it to be a sort of fleshy pink or red color. I’m so glad to have learned not only the early signs of labor but also that the uterus is so fashionable that it could almost be considered an accessory. We actually learned a few things at Lamaze, to both of our surprise. We’re not too good at being new age and, after the Yoga business, were afraid she was going to tell us to breathe through our eyelids or something. So far this has not happened. But I am also not positive it won’t.

Something else I learned: It would be better for me if I pretend that I’m going to go through “natural” (a.k.a. drug-free) childbirth while in class. I learned this when, as part of the introduction, the instructor asked me why I was there. I flailed for an answer as I thought my reason for being there ought to have been pretty obvious to a professional such as herself. I admit I kind of panicked and so my answer came out sort of like this, “Well, I want to see the hospital and the facilities and I also want to get the lowdown on the whole childbirth process…you know…when I can get my epidural and stuff.” This brought on what people in my family like to refer to as “the laser look of death,” and a momentary panic that she might already be planning to file a 3200 child abuse reporting form with CPS (Child Protective Services) on me. Her response was pinched, as though is barely escaped her lips without the accompaniment of a stinging stream of venom: “There will be NO SHOTS given. We will be discussing alternative pain management techniques in this class.” My response? Smile, nod and pretend to have just made a hilarious inside joke between myself and the rest of the militant “natural” childbirth nazis.

Another milestone we’ve passed recently is that this past weekend Owen and I drove to Grand Rapids with my mom to register. Mom, Rachel and I hit Target and Babies ‘R’ Us on Saturday morning and, by 4 p.m., had compiled a list of things that should theoretically make this whole baby thing easier. I say theoretically because I spent most of my (and by my I mean “our”) time at Babies ‘R’ Us trying to figure out which stroller/car seat combo was small enough to actually fit through the mail-slot-sized opening of the trunk of my car. And believe me, it’s no picnic finding a stroller that will fold up to less than 17”. I didn’t make that up either.

(At this point I’d like to send out a consumer alert: though the 2005 Chevy Cobalt is a lovely car that comes in fantastic colors, it has an appallingly small trunk opening to a trunk that is actually decent-sized. It also has an absolutely terribly engineered heat system for those of us in the northern climates. I had my brother, our resident car expert, check the duct system to make sure there wasn’t a clog or something and he informed me that there is, in fact, no heat duct on the floor of the driver’s side. Disgusting, eh?)

But, back to the registering, it went pretty well and I have to give big thanks to Mom and Rachel for a.) coming along and offering stellar advice, b.) not abandoning me when I felt the need to spend half an hour looking at diaper bags because I couldn’t find one that was feminine enough and yet masculine enough and c.)helping me to figure out the mechanical workings of the “travel systems” while also ensuring that they fit our ridiculous size standards. (BTW – proof that some things are just genetic: my sister did the exact same one button-accidental collapse of the exact same stroller as I did back at Thanksgiving. We didn’t register for that one because we figure that, if two educated and intelligent females can collapse it accidentally then Owen would be destined to accidentally send poor Sam flying across the mall parking lot some day by mistake.)

I also wanted to thank Katie (though I’m not sure if she reads this or not) for loaning us her high chair. We brought it home this weekend and have figured out all the levers already! Thanks, Katie, for sharing.

Next week we go in for another of our “big visits” as the OB likes to call them. Among other things, she will be ordering more blood work to check my blood sugar levels. She tells me that if I pass this one, I’m almost completely in the clear for gestational diabetes. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to have ultra sounds that day or not but, of course, as usual, I will post them ASAP if I do.

Alas, I am late for bed now and must go. Have a good week, all, and I will do my best not to slack so much that I don’t post every day or so.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Karma comeback...

According to Wikipedia.com, Karma literally means "deed" or "act" and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction which governs all life. Karma is not fate, for people act with free will creating their own destinies. According to the Vedas, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil. Karma is not punishment or retribution, but simply an extended expression of natural acts. The effects experienced are also able to be mitigated by actions and are not necessarily fateful. Not all karmas rebound immediately. Some accumulate and return unexpectedly in this or other births. In religions that incorporate reincarnation, karma extends through one's present life and all past and future lives as well. Interestingly, the “Law of Karma” is sometimes (thought rarely) taught in Christianity as the Law being mentioned by Paul of Tarsus in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (15:55-56).

Example: You like to watch America’s Funniest Home Videos. You like to laugh at people when they get hurt or when they get one of those fake lotto tickets that makes them think they’ve won $10,000. Then, let’s say that, for Christmas, somebody gives you a scratch-off lotto ticket. Say it’s one of those $5 tickets…and you and your…um…“friend” both get one. Let’s say that you and your friend scratch them only to find that you are the proud holders of lottery winning totaling, say, $85. Now pretend that you spend almost two weeks thinking about what you’re going to do with your half of the money, which you consider “mad money” since it was a gift. You fantasize about all the things you can buy or do with your half and it makes you giddy just to think about it. Then imagine you go to the store to cash them in only to find out that you hadn’t read them right…and that instead of winning $85 you have actually won $5. You might think that karma had just sunk its teeth right into your rear end. Hypothetically speaking, of course…

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hell freezes over...

The organization for which I work is currently involved in a large fund-raising event in order, theoretically, to raise money and awareness for domestic violence (I have my doubts with regards to our “partnering” businesses). Today I attended yet another planning meeting for the event, this one to plan how best to recruit volunteers to help us pull off the event. What follows is an actual, unscripted and unedited account of a portion of one conversation between my boss and me.

Her: Sarah, I want you to contact local high schools to see if their ski teams might be interested in taking on our cause as a project.
Me (knowing where this is going): Is there going to be any way for us to make cross-country ski equipment available to volunteers who might be interested in helping but who don’t own skis?
Her: Well, we might be able to find some for one or two people, but we can’t outfit a whole big group of people or anything. Why, do you have an idea?
Me: Well, yes, but you know that the schools up here are all small enough that they don’t have Nordic ski teams, right? All we have are downhill teams. Only big schools and schools in the U.P. have Nordic teams.
Her: What about the local ski leagues?
Me: Well, again, I believe that most of the organized leagues in this area are downhill.
Her: (heaving a big sigh and then saying with irritation in her voice) Look, Sarah, to some extent, skiing is skiing, okay?
Me (giving up): Yeah, okay…I guess you’re right.

I suppose if you’re not a skier or at least from someplace cold, this little interlude won’t make much sense to you. If you do happen to be a skier, you’re probably laughing your ass off.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Lists

When I first found out I was pregnant, I TiVo’d a show on Discovery Health called “Birth Day.” It chronicled the birth process for various women in various situations. People kept telling me I shouldn’t watch because it would just scare me, but I had an intense curiosity and needed to see it over and over again. Then, one day, I decided to quit watching it because I wasn’t sure if I cried every time because I was touched or because I was just scared witless.

Recently, I have enjoyed watching “Supernanny” on ABC. It’s not the greatest show, but there’s a part of me that enjoys watching the terrible parents struggle with the outrageous little monster-children the created (see “Word of the Day” entry, below). I also like watching them get dressed down by Jo, who is always kind but honest with them. However, last night I watched an episode about a family of three boys that was absolutely insanely out of control. It made me wonder if, perhaps, I should stop watching “Supernanny” because it’s scaring me witless again.

Here is a list of things I can no longer do since I have become pregnant and, following, a list of things I still can do. I decided to take an inventory but I’m sure I forgot several things from both lists.

I Cannot:
-Make it through one single day without spilling food on my clothing
-Make it through a day without walking into/tripping over something
-Make it through a night without waking up to go to the bathroom and/or have a snack
-Remember something that happened 24 hours ago (at the very most)
-Construct a sentence entirely comprised of real words
-Tie my shoes without worrying about possibly vomiting
-Ingest caffeine (I have decided that chocolate doesn’t count)
-Sit through an entire movie at the theatre without squirming
-Sit through a Hallmark commercial without crying

I Can:
-Climb ladders at work to replace light bulbs, retrieve boxes of toner, etc.
-Carry heavy items (such as fax machines and vacuum cleaners) around the office
-Crawl on the floor under my desk and take my computer apart
-Sleep at any point during the day including at my desk during my lunch break or while waiting on hold with vendors
-Irrationally demand compliance with asinine requests
-Wear pants big enough to house a village of pygmies

-Explain with perfect logic why I should be allowed to carry a rocket launcher in my car specifically to use on people who cut me off anf/or who do not use turn signals.

Word of the day

Schadenfreude (n.)

Pronunciation: shä-den-froi-de (click here to hear the pronunciation)

A malicious sense of personal satisfaction, delight or enjoyment in observing or hearing of the misfortunes of others.
Etymology: German, from Schaden (damage) + Freude (joy)


You'd kind of think, given the nature of American pop culture, that more people would know this word. Try saying it out loud. Go ahead, it's fun to say! Add it to your vocabulary today!