the last 24 hours: a list

1. I am sick. 

I am also pregnant. 

I’ve decided pregnant sick is the worst kind of sick, because a) I cannot take anything strong enough to treat my symptoms, b) I’m worried about the little kiwi, and c) I already feel kinda off because I’m growing a human being.  Temporary solutions are going to involve hot tea for my throat, a little bit of caffeine for my headache, and hugging the humidifier that we just picked up at Bed Bath and Beyond.

2. That humidifier?  $100 Sharper Image machine.  We just picked it up for $20 because it was a display model, and one of the only ones left in the store.  I call that a win.

3. We’re about to start remodeling our kitchen.  May 9th, to be exact.  We’ve been saving for a while, and we realized that if we didn’t do it before little one arrived, it might never get done.  And it NEEDS to get done.  Bad.  I’m fairly certain the previous owners let their dogs use the kitchen drawers as a chew toy.

4. Speaking of the kitchen, our new microwave arrived today!  Get this: it’s a drawer.  Instead of having one built-in above the countertop, ours will be built in below.  It’s still in the box, but we’ve decided it’s remarkable.  We’re like the Jetsons.

5. On our way home from the doctor, we heard that Snoqualmie Pass was closed at exit 34.  We live at exit 32, so ours is the last exit you can usually take when the pass is closed.  The Pass is typically closed because they’re doing a controlled avalanche, but apparently the one today came unexpectedly.  Skiers were trapped, a car got buried…and all of this resulted in a 3 mile traffic pile up.  This never, ever happens.  There are usually several semis parked on the shoulder, but this was unreal.  We had to drive the last half mile on the shoulder just to get off the interstate.

6. I’m falling in love with this humidifier.  I’ve been sitting by it for the last hour and a half, and it’s turned my dry, hacky cough into a slightly less painful wet, hacky cough.

7. At the moment, I’m quite irresistible.

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this time I have an excuse…

I know, I know.  Worst blogger ever.

But this time I have an excuse.

I looked back at the date of my last blog post: Friday, January 7.  On Monday, January 10, Joel and I learned that we are going to be parents.  I took the test first thing that morning, certain, absolutely positive, that it would come back negative, but that would be okay because it was still a few days, maybe a few weeks early and I could just take another one later but if I didn’t do it today it might drive me crazy so…

I’m pregnant.

indescribable emotions.  Utterly indescribable.  I know women with children are fond of telling women without children and pregnant women all about the feelings, emotions, “just wait until”s, but I’m not even going to try, because it would just sound cliché and not even come close to capturing the emotion of the moment when that little stick pops up the word “pregnant”.

Joel was outside with the dogs, so I grabbed this book I’d been holding onto for this moment.  I think it was a Dave Barry book about parenting that I’d wrapped a few days earlier…so maybe I knew before I knew?  Who knows.  Anyway, he came back in and I handed him the gift.  I think he was confused at first, but a split second later his face registered recognition.

“Wait.  Does this mean…?” he trailed off.

I handed him the stick.

I don’t remember much after that, aside from hugging, crying, and doing something I swore I’d never do: take pictures of the pee stick.  Every time I see one of those pictures on facebook, I am immediately cognizant of the fact that someone had to urinate on it, so I’m essentially looking at a picture of their morning toilet, but I guess you can now add me to the list.  In retrospect, I’m glad I took the pictures.  The batteries on those digital tests run out quick, and eventually you find yourself questioning whether or not it really happened. 

This was especially important when I went to the hospital the next day to take a confirmation pregnancy test, only to have it come back negative.  Turns out the tests you can buy at the store – at least the E.P.T. brand – are more sensitive than the ones my doctor uses.  After that test result, I immediately went to the store and bought two more boxes of tests, used all of them, and stared at those pictures we’d taken Monday morning.

Don’t worry; a week later the doctor’s office was on board.

I went through that entire first day, and probably following week, in a daze.  I was a little tired, and a little emotional, but nothing too bad.

Enter week five.

The short version of the story is that I’ve spent the last two and a half months feeling like I had the flu.  I wanted to blog about everything I was feeling and thinking, but 1) we weren’t telling everyone yet, and 2) I came home from work each day, forced down dinner, and went to bed by 8pm.  Never, ever in my life have I felt so bad that I didn’t want to eat, and for the first time, it was something I HAD to do in order to feel better.  My hips and back were already starting to hurt, so I bought a body pillow from Target.  I repeatedly found myself questioning all the lunatics who claimed to “love” their pregnancies, who glowed from day one, who couldn’t wait to be pregnant again.  Liars.  What on earth had happened in the brains of these women that they had forgotten this first trimester?  Why do women do this to themselves more than once?  HOW DO WE AS A SPECIES CONTINUE TO REPRODUCE?!

Yeah, yeah, when it’s all over you have a baby, you forget, it’s worth it.  I get it.  But you cannot tell me in all honesty that those first three months are not torture.  You feel horrible, you’re probably not telling anyone why you feel horrible, and as much as you hate being pregnant, you continue to have this gnawing feeling in your gut that it’s not going to stick and…

Well, that’s what happens if you’re me, I guess.

Other highlights from trimester one:

* I’ve decided what they say about dogs sensing pregnancy is true.  A few days to a week after that positive test, I was laying in bed, preparing to go to sleep at 8pm sharp, when Bentley crawled up next to me and put his front paws over my side so he was straddling me.  I thought he was preparing to jump all the way over so he could either snuggle or steal the armchair beside me before Cooper got to hit, so I scratched his ears and said hello…and a second later realized I felt something warm, too warm, soaking through my nightgown.

Bentley was marking his territory.

He’s had accidents over the last two years, to be sure, but never had I stretched my imagination so far as to dream that would happen. 

And I wish I could say that was the last time.

A month or so later I was sitting at the dining room table, probably chatting with Joel while he worked, and Bentley “asked” to come up in my lap.  This usually start as a pitiful stare, turns into pawing, and ends in a whimpering howl.  I invited him up, and he attempted to curl up and get comfortable, which is challenging enough for his 25 pounds when I’m not growing a baby gut.  A few minutes later Finn came by, and, in a jealous fit that is common for the “mama’s boy” of our pack, he wanted up, too.  His request comes in a manner similar to Bentley’s: stare, paw, whimper.  Never one to turn away a puppy, I invited Finn up as well.  Somehow Finn managed to wiggle between my belly and Bentley, and B eventually got fed up with it and jumped off my lap.  A few seconds later, I was marked again.  I didn’t even notice, but Joel did, and promptly attempted to put a stop to it.  But as we all know, once you break the seal…as far as I can figure, Bentley got mad when Finn came between me and him, and wanted to let Finn know who I belonged to.  Aren’t we all glad that’s not how human relationships work?

Bentley also “marked” my mother when she was here.  We still haven’t figured that one out.

Someone told me that the dogs know I’m pregnant, but they assume I’m having puppies, naturally.  It explains Bentley’s marking, and Finn’s fiercer-than-normal overprotectiveness.  Not that he ever wants to leave my side, but lately it’s been a little ridiculous.  I tried to drop him off at puppy daycare the other day, and he went limp like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum when the counselor tried to take his leash.  I’m hoping that this will translate into some degree of protectiveness over the baby, and we’re seeing signs that it will.  When our nieces and nephew came over a few weeks ago, the littlest treated Finn a bit like a stuffed animal, and he took it all in stride.

I could continue to recap the last few weeks, but I think I’ll save it for later…mostly because I’m getting another one of my throbbing, second trimester headaches from sitting in this desk chair in front of my computer.

This baby better be cute.

I might be a genius

Of course, if I were a genius, maybe I would have thought of it sooner.

One of the most dreaded responsibilities hubs and I have as dog parents is nail trimming.  You might think it’s poop duty, but you’d be wrong.  It is absolutely, without a doubt, nail trimming. 

I think we’re fairly lucky in that our dogs put up with a lot of poking, prodding, and general disrespect for their personal space.  I’ve seen more than one kid grab on a little too tight to Finn’s ears, and he usually gives a quick grunt before licking the little one to giggles.

But for whatever reason, every time I’ve tried to clip the nails of one of our furry housemates, it turns into World War 3.  The worst offender, as you might imagine if you’ve read my blog over the past year and a half, is Bentley. 

Our journey down the path of chaos usually begins when I lock him in the kitchen with me, away from the other two pups.  He usually sniffs around, wags his tail, and as soon as I pull out the treats he sits on the floor and waits patiently to run through his shallow bag of tricks…okay, he has five, so maybe not so shallow, but also maybe not always so patiently with the waiting.  Things go smoothly until I pull out the dreaded red clippers. 

He knows what they are.  He knows what their intended for.  And my ever-hungry, stomach-driven beagle doesn’t want to be in that room one second longer than necessary with those medieval torture devices.  He immediately starts clawing at the door. 

I try talking to him soothingly, throwing treats in his direction, but it usually only works long enough for me to make a grab at his scruff before he runs in the opposite direction.  I finally manage to corner him and sit us both down on the floor, but at that point it becomes more of a wrestling match between me and a small, angry greased pig.

I can’t tell you how the job finally gets done, because I don’t one hundred percent remember.  I may very well have blocked it due to some mild form of PTSD.  I do know at some point, usually a half hour later, we emerge from the kitchen, Bentley at a sprint, me at a slow, defeated trudge.  I’m usually able to get at least one half of the claws clipped, and by then we both need a break before going for round two.

Tonight, though, was magical.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I finally had an epiphany:

Peanut butter.

We have a jar of peanut butter in our house at all times, and use it whenever the boys need some mental stimulation and we need a break.  Load up a Kong, and they’re good to go for about 20 minutes…or if you’re Bentley, an evening, as he finishes his and then stalks the other two until they abandon theirs, eventually collecting all three in a corner and protecting them like a hoarder, licking them until their bone dry.

I started with Finn so the scent of peanut butter would get Bentley interested.  It went smoothly, as it usually does with Finn, with the exception of the two hounds standing outside the kitchen door howling. 

When we were done, I wrangled Bentley past the other two, shut the kitchen door, and laid a spoonful of peanut butter on the floor next to the clippers.  He looked at it cautiously, and then our eyes met, and we both knew: the war was over.  He could not resist the delicious, sweet, fatty (well, reduced-fat) goodness that lay before him.  I gave him a few licks of the spoon and then went to work while his tounge worked to get the peanut butter off the roof of his mouth.  Whenever it seemed that he was about to succeed, I would give him another mouthful of peanut butter, and in five minutes we were finished.

It was beautiful.

Cooper was a little sad to be left out of the action, but I wanted hubs to be able to experience some of my genius when he gets home, so I decided to leave one for him.  It’s only fair.

you are NOT getting those shoes

 This year I got $100 cash for Christmas.  I usually get gift cards to a few select stores that I frequent, but not often cash, so 100 bucks…pure freedom, right?  I decided to finally make good on my threats to buy a few new pair of shoes, and on Monday I trekked over to the Bellevue Nordstroms to check out some TOMS. 

For those not familiars, TOMS Shoes is a company that makes simple, comfortable shoes, and for every pair sold, a pair is donated to a child in need.  They call it the “One For One” movement, and it seems like the company has exploded in the last several years.  Every twenty something I know seems to have a pair, and they’ve gone from the simple Argentinian alpargata design that they started with to wedges, boots, and a wedding collection. 

Here, watch this:

So in summary, TOMS is a great company that takes American consumerism and uses it for good.

And they sell shoes at Nordstroms.

So anyway, I shot over to downtown Bellevue on Monday after my Seattle Humane Society shift.  This meant that I was wandering around in my uniform, smelly vaguely of dog and puppy treats, and covered in hair and fur.  No big deal, though, because it’s Monday night, so surely the mall won’t be crowded, right?

Oh, it’s the Monday after Christmas?  I forgot.

The place was packed, and by the time I trekked to the shoe department I was starting to doubt my decision to leave the house at all.  Women were all over the place, tossing boots in the air and bustling about with four and five bags tucked under their arms.  I quickly found a display of TOMS, though, and was promised that someone would be by to help me shortly. 

“Shortly” might be an overstatement, because it probably took ten minutes for a salesperson to free up.  I stood by my shoes, waiting for help, refusing to move should I lose my place in line.  As I loitered by the table, a young adult, probably early twenties, approached the table with her mother.  I think the first thing I noticed where their coordinated black velour sweatsuits.  The girl picked up a pair of TOMS and said, “Look, mom, I need a pair of these, too.”  They’d obviously already done a bit of shopping, judging from the pile of bags in their hands.

“Oh, no, you are NOT getting those shoes,” said the mom.  My eyebrows went up, but I continued to stare straight ahead, not acknowledging that I could hear their conversation.

“Mom, why not?  I need a pair of flats for when I go to the bar.  I’m not wearing heels,” said daughter. 

“Uh, because their ugly, that’s why.  You can’t wear those to a bar,” retorted mom.  I continued to stand, now a bit awkwardly, wondering if they realized that I was, in fact, hoping to purchase a pair of these atrocities.  They had continued back and forth for a minute or two when a salesperson finally approached.

“Did you need a size?  What can I get for you?”

“I need these red TOMS in an 11,” I said, resisting the urge to look at the mother daughter duo.

The clerk walked away, and mom immediately burst out laughing.

“Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I did that,” she laughed.  “Here I am trashing these shoes, and you want to buy a pair.” 

Well, duh, I thought, that’s why I’m standing here, but I just smiled and assured her it was okay.  Daughter, though, immediately saw an ally.

“These are great, right?  I mean, I can totally wear these to a club, with jeans and a cute shirt, they’d be perfect, right?”

“Yeah, that would look great.  They’re super comfortable…” I trailed off, but mom picked up.

“How old are you?” she asked, putting her hand on my arm.

“I’m thirty,” I muttered.  I hadn’t said the number out loud since my birthday in October. 

“Well, I’m older than that,” she proclaimed, obviously refusing to share her true age, even though she’d just asked the same of a complete stranger.  “I can’t wear those, right?”

“Well, I don’t know, I guess that’s up to you…” again, trailing off.

“But mom, I’m not you,” daughter pipped up. 

“No, you’re not.  See, if it were me I’d be looking at a pair of shoes like THAT.”  She pointed to a pair of tan boots with three-inch heels that probably would have hit her mid-thigh.  Me, about mid-kneecap.  “I was wearing a pair of those when I picked up James.”

Who is James?!

“Well, mom, that’s not what I want.”  Daughter looked at me again for support.

“You know, for every pair  of shoes that’s purchased, they donate a pair to a kid in need.”  It’s probably safe to assume they hadn’t picked up that tidbit, right?

Right.

“Oh, really?  Well, I guess that’s nice,” said mom, clearly still not a fan.

It struck me in that moment that these two, like many other shoppers, had no idea that they were potentially changing the lives of children in other countries by purchasing a pair of these shoes.  In some countries, a pair of shoes means that a child will be able to go to school, will be safe from a number of life-threatening parasites and illnesses, if nothing else will get a small measure of self-esteem from being a little more clothed than they were before. 

But also, TOMS are great for clubbing.

Strange.

“Well, I guess it’s up to you,” mom finally conceded.  They wandered a little bit, and by then the clerk had returned with my size.  I tried them on and got ready to leave.  Daughter made eye contact as I turned around.

“Good luck,” I smiled, and started to fight my way back through the flying boots and crush of bags.

Dear Finn

Hi, sweet baby boy.

I’m sure you’ve probably read some of the letters I’ve written to your brother about his behavior.  He gets into a lot of trouble, right?  I mean, you know that just from living with him.  He shouts, he gets his nose into spots it shouldn’t be, he’s generally ornery and often a little bit awkward.  But he’s worth the trouble…isn’t he?

But you, little one…aside from a few anger issues, you’re quite nearly an angel.  Sure, you get a little upset sometimes, usually when you’re scared, but for the most part you just follow me around the house, silently watching me move laundry from the washer to the dryer, or chop onions in the kitchen, or type on my computer.  You’re much more content just to be near me and stare with your soulful black eyes.  This is in contrast to your brother Bentley, who could often care less what I’m doing unless it involves food, and Coop, who tries to get near me but often ends up knocking over a chair and startling himself in the process.  Even as I write this the two of them are outside howling at some unseen enemy, and you’re curled up in a tiny ball of gray at my feet.

You’re a great companion.  And a great listener.  I can tell you’re into whatever I’m saying because you look right at me and cock your head to the side, probably so you can hear better through the little afro you’ve recently been sporting.  I appreciate your attentiveness, especially lately when I’ve had so much on my mind.

Do you know I’m about to turn 30?  In human years, that is.  That must seem crazy since most dogs you know will only live to 15 or so…I mean, you and Bentley and Cooper will only pass after your Papa and I move on, of course.  You’d never make us go on without you.

Anyway, I’m turning 30 in a few short weeks, and it feels strange, but not for the reasons I thought it would.  It feels strange because I’ve realized I actually don’t care.  Or maybe that’s not right…I care, but I’m not feeling the angst about 30 the way I did when I turned 25, 26, 27, 28, or 29.  This is especially funny because half of my anguish over turning 25 was that I was only a few years away from 30, which was technically middle-aged, which would mean I was closer to being 60 than I was to being a newborn, which of course meant the end of my life was right around the corner.

I know, I’m a little dramatic.  Don’t look at me like that.

Besides, the point is that now that 30 is actually here, I’m not that worried about it.  I hesitate to even say this out loud, but…I think I’m looking forward to it.

When I do a quick assessment of my life, I’m not where 20-year-old, or even 25-year-old Paula thought I’d be.  If you’d cornered me in college, I would have told you the plan was to go to grad school, work in higher education for awhile, and eventually make my way to a dean of students position, and possibly someday serve as a university president.  By 25 I would have shaken the presidency notion, and would have laughed at the 20-year-old who imagined staying close to home.  I would have told you by 30 I’d have moved up in the ranks and would hope to hold steady at a director level job, where I’d still be able to interact with students, and wouldn’t have to worry with too much administrative work.

I would NOT have told you I would be an administrative assistant and living in the wilds of North Bend, Washington.  Because that, dear Finn, would mean that my career path had hit a “road closed” sign with no chance for a detour, and to the insecure, questioning 20-something that I was, that would have felt like disaster.  The younger version of me swore that she’d never do something for a living that didn’t give her some degree of self-worth and contribute to the greater good.

But here I am, sitting in an office everyday, working a job which, while not at all terrible or hard, is also not at all fulfilling.  I suppose I contribute to my boss’s greater good because I help manage his schedule and budget and department.   But do I have a daily and direct impact on the lives of students?  No.  Do I hold the hand of someone struggling with depression?  No.  Do I stay up late talking to young women who are trying to figure out to balance their future careers and relationships?  No, and in fact last night we went to bed at 10pm.

And you know what, sweet boy?  It felt wonderful. 

It felt wonderful because my life now has a degree of normal to it, and in that normalcy I’ve found some time for me.  I now have hobbies, and dogs, and when I leave my office each day I leave my office, and don’t merely transport it down the hall with me.  The last year and a half have allowed my soul to settle, which has allowed me to get to know myself, and…I’m not so bad. 

So even though I’m not where I thought I’d be as I neared 30-years-old, I’m very happy.  I’m even looking forward to my birthday, because I think it will signify the official, numerical end of one chapter of my life as a new one begins.

As for ideas about what my 30s will bring?  I’m a blank slate.  I have no big plans, only a few nice dreams, and it feels like there is more room to take whatever comes, be it kids or new careers or more dogs.

Okay, okay, I’m sorry.  No more dogs. 

I promise.

Love,
Mama

toe warmers

Don’t these people look happy?

This is my most recent project.  It’s single stitch all the way through, and the yarn it calls for is terrible and scratchy, but if it succeeds in creating a nice, warm bag for my perpetually cold feet, then I don’t even care.

Here is a link to the book of patterns from Amazon.com.

pitiful

image

This morning Cooper was adorable. Or at least as adorable as 70+ hound dog can be. He was darting back and forth through the house, occasionally turning to look at us and see if we were following. He followed Bentley, pawing at his head, and even put up with Finn nipping at his heels.

And then Joel left, and took the little guys with him, and from the bathroom I watched as Cooper slowly deflated. First he followed Joel to the door, then when the door shut and Coop realized he wasn’t tagging along, he slowly wandered into the bedroom with his tail and ears dragging. He stared out the window for about five minutes before dragging his lanky body into the old chair and flopping his head over the armchair.

I’m certain he was pouting.

And it worked, because for a moment I considered trying to sneak him into my tiny closet of an office.

Then I realized it would be hard for me to get anything done with a miniature horse trying to sit in my lap.