9.28.2009

I'd Blocked This Out

But somehow while I'm living the 4 am insomnia dream right now, I
remembered all the trouble I went through in airports with Val's
breastpump. We'll be taking at least 3 plane trips next year, which
means that my new-to-me breastpump will be joining us.

I've been searching for something, anything that says the TSA has
figured out what the hell breast pumps are since I last travelled with
one. So far, I'm not coming up with much.

I will not forget how many times ALL of my hand-washed, to the point
where I washed them so much my hands stayed cracked and bleeding for an
entire winter, pump parts were examined closely. Nor will I forget the
guy who decided that said parts needed to be laid out directly on their
table for closer inspection. And I can't even really go there to
describe Phyllis the TSA agent at PHX who inspected every item in our
carryon bags as if we really did have something to hide, simply because
we'd stupidly brought peaches packed in syrup and 2 ounces of water in a
sippy cup for then-year-old-Val.

So I'm trying to read ahead and I really can't tell if anything's
changed. The addition of family lanes in most airports has to help,
it's certainly made things a bit smoother when we travel with Val's
bulky carseat and stroller. (As an aside, we braved travelling with the
Sunshine Kids Radian last month. Though it's not the easiest thing to
carry, it was by and large, totally worth doing. It'll harness Val to
80 lbs and having her sit in it on the plane meant she could access the
tray table for the first time in her life!)

By the end of my year breastfeeding Val, we'd flown a bunch of times and
I did learn one thing: put all the pump parts in a clear plastic bag so
if Bob the Screener needs to see them, he can do so without touching
them. The first time we fly as a family of 4 will be to Vegas for the
hockey tournament, hopefully we'll be able to gather many members of the
team to go right behind us in line. If nothing else, we won't feel
rushed by some self-entitled white guy (SEW-G) with a laptop up our
asses as we go through the line.

I do think travelling through airports with a stroller and 2 carseats is
pretty much going to suck. And that's before you factor in the
breastpump that some overeager TSA agent will decide is actually a
bomb. Even though it says, right there on the faceplate 'breastpump.'

Before we go, I'll do what I can - print out every posted rule from the
TSA website, coordinate with fellow Burninators to go through the line
behind us, put my parts (heh, I said 'my parts') in a clear bag. Not
sure what I'll do about an ice pack, that's apparently still up for
debate. But in the end, I think it's all still up to how informed the
agent we get to deal with us is and how much I'm able to keep my cool.

9.22.2009

It's That Time

Now that I'm starting to get kind of huge, it's getting more obvious to
the General Public that I'm pregnant. Thus far, I've been able to wear
my regular clothes and those kind of hide things. But I'm running out
of clothes that fit so I'm turning to clothes that don't hide things as
well, busting out the giant shirts that I don't need at any other time.

Ugh.

Anyhoo, now that I'm sporting this basketball-esque belly, I'm
remembering why I was so interested in hiding my pregnant-ness.

Because well-meaning people cannot resist the urge to ask the following
question: 'how are you feeling?' Not to mention the ever-popular
variation: 'how's it going?' followed by 'what are you going to name the
baby?'

Boy do I not feel like answering any of those. Because the truth is
this: first and foremost, this pregnancy is a gift from God, Andrea's
insurance and modern medicine. It's a gift that I'm still not fully
convinced that we've gotten. At any moment, all of the pain and
heartache that carried us to that IVF might come spilling out to said
well-meaning person (usually a stranger/acquaintance). And I just don't
feel like sharing that kind of pain on the fly. Thanks, tho.

The truth is also this: my back hurts more than it did with Val at this
point, my stomach feels stretched to a point where I just do not see how
it could get any bigger, I'm exhausted all the time, I've somehow pulled
a muscle in my crotch and my lady bits are swollen in a way that I can
only pray will resolve itself after this child arrives.

Do you really think the young, male preschool teacher at Val's school
wants to know ANY of that? I'm guessing no. And I'm not about to
share. So I grumble and limp/waddle away in as polite a manner as
possible, only to be accosted by the same question from another young
teacher not 5 seconds later.

I remember at this point with Val being ready for her to arrive, for
people to stop asking about me and start asking about her. I do not
grow tired of telling people how Val is doing, that's for damn sure. I
imagine that when this baby comes, I'll feel the same way about her.

Until that time, mere weeks away, I will continue to brace myself for
the question and experiment with polite but terse ways to answer. Rest
assured that I'm groaning on the inside.

Please don't let this post indicate for one second that I'm not grateful
as hell that we're actually at this point. Rather, it's the opposite,
that I'm so grateful I can't put it into words. Even if I do hurt in
many ways right now.

Not How I'd Pictured It

When I was in grad school, I spent a ton of time reading Alice Sebold's
The Lovely Bones, which is a fantastic, heartbreaking, wonderful book.
Unlike most books, I read it more than once, taking myself into the
world between the living and the dead that Sebold describes in such an
exquisite way. Back again and again I went, looking for clues about
where my Alice might be. I found so much comfort in the passages
describing that space that I couldn't seem to put the book down.

I decided to combine my love for this book with a giant assignment for
grad school, so I did a massive end of semester project on it. I paired
it with her non-fiction book, Lucky and compared it to essentially
everything we'd read over the course of the semester.

I had hoped that piece would be Amazing, just Amazing but that was when
I learned that you can actually spend too much time with one thing.
Eventually, it can sort of take over your thoughts and your life to the
point where you just can't see through the fine mist that it creates.
At that point it's impossible to reach through that mist and find the
brilliance.

So that's what happened to me. That book changed my life in about a
thousand ways. I stood up and read my Grand Project in front of the
class, not fully understanding how I'd gotten too close to the book.
When I got a B in the class, thanks to that project, I was devastated.

It's been a few years since I learned that particular lesson but
apparently that wasn't enough time to put aside all of my own demons
around this book. When I saw a preview for the upcoming movie version,
hearing the words 'Susie Sal.mon' literally took my breath away and
brought me back to that time.

And I have to say, it's not a time I'm particularly keen on revisiting.
Ever. So it was hard to watch a very Hollywood-ivied preview of a book
that had touched me so very deeply.

I wanted to shout two things, at the same time: please, turn this off
now, and then THAT IS NOT HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE. But I didn't.
Because one or both would be futile since nobody's listening to
in-theater protests these days and to explain even a portion of what I
was feeling at the time was more than I could explain before our Feature
Presentation began. I sat through that damn preview but wasn't
surprised when the mere thought of it woke up in the middle of the night
realizing I still have more to write about those books.

And I do. But for now this will have to do. And I'm pretty sure I
won't be seeing the movie.

9.20.2009

Where She Came From

Our continuing efforts to get the house ready for both the new baby
(what?) and the stream of visitors that seem to follow, we did more work
around the house. Part of this was cleaning off the top of this
ginormous computer hutch that needs a new home (anyone? It's very
handy, I swear...). It had all kinds of pictures of the dogs, Alice's
raincoat, pictures of the dogs we've lost and other crap.

I moved Ellie and Alice's ashes to the same spot we have Zeus and Gus'.
Val was full of questions about who they all were. I explained who
Alice was without crying and we looked at a picture of her.

Later, she asked me to tell her the story of our dogs, of why we now
only have 2, of how they all came to us. She followed along, and I got
to explain how special, how unwanted Gus might've been to other
families, but how so very lucky we were to have had the big guy in our
lives for almost 5 years.

Just telling their stories made me miss them all. Interestingly, it's
Gus who I seem to miss the most these days. Makes me think that
whenever we're in the market for another dog, I'll seek out another big,
old guy who needs a home more than the whippersnapper in the next cage
does.

Val listened intently to my recollection of our canine timeline, then
claimed that Rainie is her dog. I guess that leaves Patrick for us.

I can only hope that Val paid attention to my rescue message and that
she knows our family first grew by four furry feet at a time.

I Know You All Love Me

But really, as I troll the internets and see long, lovingly-formatted
lists of what people are watching on TV this fall posted on their blogs,
I can only wonder one thing:
Who really cares?

And of course, I can only assume you'll thank me for not posting mine.
Because people, it's just TV.

9.12.2009

Um, well

At the moment, George seems to be a bit bigger than her sister was at
this point. She's currently measuring 2+ weeks ahead, something Val
never did. George also has a fondness for getting into funny positions
that really hurt for me.

Thanks, kid. Yes, I know that we asked for this. Someday I'll look
back on the notion of your wee/giant bony ass poking me in the stomach
(said ass generally rests at the very top of my stomach, right between
the ribs. That spot hurts pretty much all that time) and laugh. But
right now, these remaining weeks seem awfully long.

In other news, Val's new school year started. She stayed in her class,
but the class moved into a different classroom with different teachers
and different kids. Make sense?

Yeah, me neither.

She had the choice of 2 classes, one with a teacher she really likes and
one with her best friend from her old class. She chose the friend and
they've been inseparable all week. They hold hands at circle time and
spend as much time as possible together.

If that's not the cutest thing ever, I just don't know what is.

The other good thing about this switch is that Val's weird cough has
stopped. I tend to think there's some weird shit in the other classroom
(it was in a different, much older building across the way) that was
causing it. For the sake of the other kids who are now in that room, I
totally hope I'm wrong.

The thing that worries me is that she's now back with most of the kids
from the 2 year old classroom (kids who are now 3). The Hitter, he's
there. The Overly Affectionate Girl, she's there. These kids are fine,
however, it's clear to me that Val does better with older kids. Right
now, it's like it was before, Val and her good friend are among the most
verbal in the room.

This summer, we'd watched her reading and language skills explode (she
can make up a story based on anything, a blank book, a Lego brochure,
anything with pages) while she was the youngest kid in the class. I can
only hope that continues.

Twice this week, she didn't want to leave when I picked her up. I guess
you could say she's having a good time.

9.06.2009

Highlights

- Val running over to me while playing in the huge water area at
Lego.land, giving me a kiss, then running off
- watching her dance to the musical fountain there
- andrea and I standing there like idiots, marvelling for the thousandth
time at how fucking cute our daughter is
- val jumping in the ocean for the first time (dipping her feet at our
closest local, freezing beach)
- celebrating our 1st anniversary as a legally married couple
- knowing that our 13th anniversary as a family is tomorrow
- watching the sheer glee Val experienced many times a day on the trip.
- the day we left, we commented that George hadn't started getting the
hiccups yet. She started that night.

Lowlights

- at the very end of the last day, I was bone-tired from all that
walking. So much so that my right leg started to get numb on the final
walk to the hotel on our last day.
- the beds were so high, I had a hard time getting into/out of bed
- I forgot my Tums. I've hardly needed them this time but of course, I
REALLY needed them while we were gone

9.05.2009

Last Chance Saloon

Val's school was closed at the end of this week as they get ready for
the new school year. That meant one of us needed to take 3 days off
this week since we remain quite short on backup childcare.

The original plan was to just hang around the house and Do Things. But
then Andrea mentioned San Diego and I found supah cheap flights on
Southwest. Andrea followed up with discounted Lego.land tickets and I
rounded out the experience with yet another decent rental car deal
thanks to the Entertainment book. At the very last minute, I found a
deal on a hotel that had a badass kid pool area so we were all set.

It turned out that our hotel was literally across the street from
Lego.land. I'd been so focused on the 'cheap+excellent youth aquatic
facilities' part that I didn't notice this. We ended up walking, our
trusty Inglesina stroller (courtesy of the Burninators, and we do thank
them each time we bust out the stroller, even now, 3 years after their
most generous gift) up the road and to the park. Score! No paying for
parking!

The park itself is seriously cute. Val is now just barely tall enough
for almost all of the rides so over the course of 2 days, we did just
about everything she could. The waterpark section is huge, ginormous
and big. We all got sopping wet both days. At this point, I feel like
I'm still soggy even though I'm pretty sure I'm dry.

We spent our time marvelling at Val's cuteness and amazingness. Because
in about 2 months, she won't be our main focus anymore. We're so aware
of this and are doing everything we can to treasure this last bit of
time as a family of 3.

I am trying not to think about the fact that the next overnight 'trip' I
take will be to the hospital.

9.04.2009

One

Today marks one year since Andrea and I got married. It was a lovely
day and has been a lovely year since. As you know, Prop h8 cast a giant
shadow over our glee and will continue to do so until something changes
for the good.

That said, there's nobody I'd like to share my life with more than
Andrea. I feel extremely grateful that we took the opportunity to share
our love in a public way, especially since that right was taken away so
soon afterwards.

May the tide continue to turn and may any other couple who chooses be
granted the right to share their love publicly as well. When that day
comes, when all families have this same right, then, I think, I'll feel
less bitter about the way hate took center stage last fall.

For now, I remain hopeful, and happy at home. I'm also still, relieved
every day that Bush has left office. Obama may not be perfect but he's
no longer making my family a target of so much ongoing hate-based
legislation and rhetoric. I cannot tell you how large the weight of
that was on me, I didn't know myself until Bush and his ilk left
Washington.

I can only hope that when the tide turns and the conservatives are in
power again, that my family is not a
target this time around.

Humor me now, and think of your first wedding anniversary. Imagine
having all this shit wrapped up it that day. Then find a way to tell me
we don't have a long way to go.

That said, happy anniversary, honey. I'm so very lucky to have you, to
have our life together and now, to have 2 anniversaries to share with
you.