Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our House ...

... is a very, very, very fine house.

Today marks Day 1 of Moving Day!! Not that I'm participating in this moving business, per say, as I am at work, supposedly finishing up my time here at the Vancouver campus and wrapping up with my final three patients.

But, still, it's Moving Day!!!

Paul, Chris, Nesta, and Alex drove up from Tahoe on Tuesday and got the keys to the new house first thing yesterday. They already started getting our stuff at the apartment staged and even somewhat packed for moving today and tomorrow. "The sooner we get packed and unpacked, the sooner we can start sawing wood and building things," Paul said. I like his style.

We took a couple loads over to the house last night, and it was SO fun to poke around and envision the now-empty house with all our own belongings and fantasy possessions in it. We brought Gizzy with us, too, and she seemed to like the place. If prancing around maniacally on the hardwood floor and running in and out of the front door counts as "liking" something. At least she didn't poop in the corner of the nursery or something.

We can officially sleep in our house on Friday night. Can't wait to see what progress has been made today. And I took a TON of pre-move-in photos yesterday to document our entire homeownership process ...

My mind is already swarming with decor and design ideas. I immediately went home and perused Pinterest, but that just made my motor run faster. Not a good idea before bed.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Just a Scare

Alex deserves the blue ribbon today. And I don't just mean a Pabst, but the real deal, a first place, all-star, supportive-husband-of-the-year award.

We had our first - I'm sure just a preview of many, many to come - parental scare. We spent the afternoon at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee, en route to the Reno airport for my flight back home after the holidays.

In order to keep the TMI out of the picture, let's just say I was worried that I might have been leaking amniotic fluid, gross details aside. I texted Rachel, who calmed me a bit and recommended I call my 24-hour OB nursing hotline. When I did that, they scared the bajeezus out of me and told me to get to a doctor immediately. That's when I cried. Alex told his parents while I quickly packed my bags, just in case we would need to head straight to the airport to catch my flight. I left the house without saying thank you or goodbye.

Once at the medical center, I checked in to the ER,and they immediately whisked me away in a wheelchair up to "labor and delivery." So .... Alex and I haven't done any sort of hospital tour, taken a birthing class, or even skimmed beyond Week 20 in our pregnancy books. Needless to say, I was NOT ready to be in a 'delivery room.' They stripped me neked, strapped some machines to my belly beneath a tacky little tube top, and scoped me with an extra long Q-tip. That first test didn't work. Take 2 seemed to be a success. An hour or so later, the OB came to chat me up and explained that the amniotic fluid test came back negative, and she felt comfortable advising me to go ahead and catch my flight home.

And here I thought I was going to get a valid excuse to not have to hop on that airplane.

Needless to say, everything with both baby and mama seems to be a-okay, and it was, fortunately, just a scare.

A Tahoe Christmas

I made a quick trip to Reno/Tahoe to spend the holiday weekend with the inlaws. No snow, not even a drop. Alex even went mountain biking one day. Funny to think since we got stuck hiking in the snow on the 4th of July. It was nice to celebrate with the whole Close clan. Good food, great company.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Granny Update

I received a voicemail from my cousin Ted this morning. He said he was calling on behalf of Granny because she "needed to return my phone call." I had thought we said our I-love-yous-and-goodbyes, but was pleased to take the opportunity to speak to her once more. She was more or less incoherent and her speech nearly unintelligible - due in part to being on speaker phone, and in part to her decline and heavily medicated state. The only thing I could make out, which caused me to burst out in laughter, "How much weight have you gained?" Just what every woman, pregnant or not, wants to discuss during the holidays. The creeping number on the scale. Pant size. Failing exercise regimen. WEIGHT.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

25 Weeks

I guess I'm really pregnant. Strangers have started to ask me when I'm due. Elderly gentlemen - particularly those veterans over the age of 60 who are being hospitalized for various ailments possible impacting their cognition - don't even blink before asking a young woman if she's pregnant. I'm ready to say, just to gauge their reaction, "I'm not pregnant, I'm just fat!" But I guess I could maybe take it as a compliment, that my body doesn't look like that of a fat person's, but more like someone willingly growing a baby in their belly! I feel great. She's kicking a lot. And she's enjoying the fresh mountain at Tahoe for the snow-less holiday. Life is good.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Losing a Generation

My dad texted me this morning to inform me that my grandmother, my last living grandparent, is now on hospice. He said she has only a few days, at most, and wanted to know if I needed her number to call for closure. Apparently, she is still in good spirits and is not requiring any additional closure from her friends and family. Normally, I can be sort of callous about these things. But truth is, if there's anybody in the family I'm most like, I think it's Granny. And this inspires me to formally say my goodbyes.

I find myself a bit saddened by her imminent passing. I don't remember feeling upset when my grandfather, my dad's dad, died a few years ago. Truth is, I can't even remember when that happened, whether it was one year or 4 years ago. I know I didn't cry. And I was surprised by how floored my brother was over his passing. I remember being sad when Popsi, my mom's dad, died, but only because that meant my Uncle Jeff was the only living member of his family. Again, I didn't cry, or attend any sort of memorial service.

But this time it's different. I don't know if it's because I feel that Granny is somewhat of a kindred. Or if it's because she's my last living grandparent. Or maybe even because she's one of my only female relatives. I wouldn't go as far as to say "I need closure," but I do feel inclined to call my grandmother and tell her how much I love her and how grateful I am to have had her in my life the past 30 years.

I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents when I was growing up. I have fond memories of spending summer weeks in Capitola, just me and Granny and Grandpa building sandcastles and feeding the birds. I remember loving the Santa Cruz boardwalk, especially riding the merry-go-round and throwing metal rings into a clown's mouth. I remember holidays spent at their house in Carmel, walking around downtown window-shopping and visiting the Monterey aquarium. I mostly remember feeling very loved by these grandparents. I remember that they were somewhat strict, and would scold me more often than I would have liked, but that they showered me with love. I was their only granddaughter after all, and lived relatively closer than the other grandchildren. I remember that my mom called them "Mom" and "Dad," and I grew up thinking I would someday think of my own in-laws as parents. I remember how much they adored my mother, and how in some ways they seemed to cherish her more than their very own children.

Granny has always been a pretty critical person. She has this sharp tone of voice, and I can still hear the shrill way she would say "Bill" when she was reprimanding Grandpa for something. Like holding the elevator door open for 5 minutes while waiting for an elderly lady to wheel herself down the hall, being more inconvenient than polite. I always sort of imagined Granny as the sort of woman who should have been born in a different generation. I'm not sure she loved being a stay-at-home housewife and mother, that maybe in a different life she would have been some sort of executive or something. She never exactly struck me as a happy person. Although she became much more agreeable and pleasant in her very old age, even after my grandpa died. I always wondered if she was sharp-tongued, critical, and somewhat unsatisfied because of the life she was forced to lead given her gender and generation.

I started thinking differently about Granny sometime when I was in college. It must have been freshman or sophomore year when they came to visit me at UPS. I specifically remember eating dinner out at a restaurant - I ordered a salmon caesar salad - and wanting to learn more about what Granny's life was like. Her childhood experiences, her family dynamics, her hopes and dreams, both those achieved and forgotten. Grandpa kept butting in, ever so chatty and wanting to share his own tales, when really I wanted to hang on Granny's every word. She was somewhat tight-lipped, and I don't think my hunger for her life story was ever really satiated. I do know at some point in the last 10-20 years I had the opportunity to ask my grandparents questions about themselves and audio record their answers. I'm sure those tapes are buried somewhere in the abyss my father calls a basement.

I tried phoning Granny this afternoon and didn't get an answer. I'm not sure if that means she's asleep, given the three hour time difference, or if I'm too late. I hope I get a chance to tell her I love her, and to remind her that life goes on, as both my cousin's wife and myself will be delivering the next generation of Hartman's in April. But she will be missed.

I did indeed get to speak briefly with Granny. I must have woken her from sleep, as she took more than two minutes after answering to orient the phone to her mouth. Her voice sounded different, I barely even recognized it. She sounded far away, like she was calling from a tunnel in Hungary or something. I told her I love her, and she replied the same. This went on, again and again, for nearly 5 minutes. Eventually I said, "I'm hanging up now. I love you. And goodnight."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cross Stitch Craze

Christmas gift for Paul and Chris. I know it looks like it took minutes, but really it took HOURS and HOURS. We decided to put Baby Girl in, even though I should have just made myself pregnant, but it was too fun to make a little one with pigtails.

Even with a flat tire I can find time to get in some stitches.

And the one for Rachel and Trevor and Logan.


Feeling like a whale. Trying to embrace my rapidly-expanding physique. Need to lay off the holiday sweets, I guess. Otherwise, still feeling great. That dip in my energy level and attitude was only temporary, thank goodness. I think I've got another 2-3 solid weeks before I enter the 3rd trimester, and I'm still crossing my fingers that I can sail through that one. Baby's kicking a whole bunch, but I mostly only notice it while laying in bed in the morning or at night. Alex can definitely feel her from the outside, and he gets so excited to play with her. Broke down and bought a new bra and some new pants, so I'm not stuck choosing between "skinny" jeans and sweatpants. Outfitting a pregnant lady isn't all the cheap.

My doggie doesn't care what size I am! She probably likes that there's more of me to cuddle :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Why I oughta ...

I had faith in you, Kenny. I trusted you, despite your Tahoe low-life-local appearance, your prison history, and your gout toe. And now, here we are, on the cusp of another $1800 Subaru repair decision, having still not paid back the first $1800 that we borrowed from Paul and Chris from when you fixed our car in July.

For some reason, I'm still giving you the benefit of the doubt. Alex is solidly convinced that the busted timing belt is your fault - either cheap parts or bad labor. I'm still holding out that once our Portland Suby mechanics get in under the hood, take apart the engine, and check it out, they'll be wrong and compliment our last mechanic on a stellar job of re-building. Still, though, this ain't free. And we ain't got the money to spare at this point in time.

Better watch out. Alex is going to be in Tahoe for the week, and if he learns this new repair is indeed by fault of yours, you might expect an egged house.

Househunting is So Over

Our loan has officially been approved. Inspection and appraisal papers have been signed. We are set to become first-time homeowners and Maplewood residents by the new year!

Our official closing date is December 30th. Looks like we'll be ringing in 2012 by unpacking boxes and settling into our cute new house. That, and painting walls, filling nail and screw holes, and scrubbing the oven as we move out of our old apartment.

To tide us over, here are a few photos of the new house from a real estate posting ...

Cute as a postage stamp! Bigger than it looks. We are thinking about building a front porch, putting in some window planters, and maybe adding a fence. Living room window is on the left, guest room window on the right. Upstairs window is the nursery. Lot to the right side is empty, and just to the left is our driveway, where we hope to build a carport of garage.

Living room. For now, we'll leave the wall paint colors. I'm just so happy it's not all sterile white or some gaudy wallpaper!

Kitchen view. Area to the left seems just about right for a small desk space or cookbooks.

Dining area. Not a formal dining room. View from the kitchen. Raised deck out the left side doors. Area on the right could be nice for a built-in kitchenette or something.

This will be the nursery! That's where I can't wait to nest ...

Master bedroom. Bigger than it appears. Needs some TLC in terms of sprucing it up and making it a mommy-and-daddy haven. Full bath to right of photo.

Deck, off dining area/kitchen. Needs some safety features put in place.

Nice and roomy backyard. Gizzy will love it!

Photos were taken from this real estate posting. It now says "sale pending."

The Little Dog Who Cried Wolf

It appears we have a case of the little dog who cried wolf.

We were so pleased with Gizzy (ourselves) over the last couple weeks because she recently started making this pathetic whining noise and shaking her head so her collar rattles in order to let us know she needs to go out. This was great! She did that one morning while I was still in bed, I woke up, let her out, and she took care of business.

But then last night was a different story. She did this noisy little song and dance every two hours. She never took care of any sort of potty business, but instead seemed ready to play! Now I'm not sure whether to ignore her attempts to get our attention, because we prefer the interruption to cleaning dog shit out of the carpet. But I refuse to reinforce her midnight attempts to be pet and play.

Then again, maybe it's just training for when the baby comes. I'm sure two straight hours of solid sleep will seem like a luxury in just a few months from now.

Monday, December 12, 2011


It appears that the tides have turned. The wind has shifted. The times they are a' changin'. ...

I am afraid my weeks of pregnancy bliss are behind me. Where are you, happy hormones?

I am starting to feel tired again, and I'm just now 24 weeks in. If the pattern continues in a downhill trend, that will leave me with just 12/40 weeks of feeling good - including the 4 weeks before I knew I was pregnant.

I had my first bout of "crazy hormonal pregnant bitch of a wife" this weekend. I was nitpicking at Alex Saturday and Sunday about his extremely annoying habits - obsessively fidgeting with his beard, picking at his nails, talking through inane decisions aloud, making eye contact with me while driving. Yes, the nervous tics and distracted driving occasionally annoys me, but not to a level where I rip him a new asshole to make my point. I am usually able to make myself politely heard every now and again. However, I was unable to restrain my criticism this weekend. And eventually found myself apologizing dramatically for acting like such an ungrateful wench.

Then again, I did indeed start my Saturday morning crying.

"I don't want to buy a house ..." I boo-hooed.
"I mean, I don't want to borrow or accept money from your parents to buy a house ..." I continued.
"It's too generous of them and it makes me feel like we're lying to everyone, like we're telling people we did it ourselves ..." More tears.
"It's gonna come with an emotional tax. Like it's their house, not ours. I want my own house ... I want my own family ..." Sob, sob.

Alex, ever the supportive one (at least, for the first 5 minutes of a Jo Breakdown). "It's going to be okay, babe. It will be our own house. And we are building our own family. You're not an island."

"Yes, I am. And I want to be. I want to live on the island by myself with my baby and my dog. It's just easier that way."

"Well if you're on an island, I'm not going to let you live there alone. I'll sleep on the atoll, and then sneak over to the island at night when you're sleeping to take care of you."

"The monkeys take care of me and they will not let you on the island, because I'm the queen and they listen to everything I say."

"Sorry, babe, but the monkeys are my homies. We drink whiskey together and build things. They want me on the island, too."

See what I mean? Crazy hormones. Got me talking about islands and monkeys and the like. Good thing Alex plays along with my antics, and wards of the evil in me with lots of hugging and cuddling, even when I try to squirm away from him. "I'm melting your icy heart," he says. Eventually I give in, like a child tired from throwing an epic tantrum, and rest my head on his shoulder, breathe a deep breath, and let the bad thoughts go.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I'm pregnant. 23 weeks along and feeling strong. Not much new, but can't break the weekly photo post now ...

Alex felt Baby Girl kick for the first time tonight! Finally, she gave him a sign that she wants to play. He was like a little kid who just heard a secret. With his palm pressed firmly against my abdomen, Alex felt little wiggles and squirms, and his eyebrows shot to the topic his forehead and mouth stood agape. He stayed very quiet, as if not wanting to interrupt the moment with any talk, or maybe to make Baby feel like she's the center of his universe - which will likely be true in just a few months. I was thinking how jealous I might be when my little buddy is outside of my belly and not with me 24/7. And everyone was right, feeling a baby's kicks is totally amazing and comforting and not at all like an alien invasion.

P.S. Dear Santa, for Christmas this year I'd really love a new bra that actually fits.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cutting a Break

Are you there god? It's me, Joanna.

I was was wondering if you could please throw me a bone.

I've got a lot on my plate these days, and I would like to think I'm actually doing a pretty awesome job at balancing it all. I've kept a good, light-hearted attitude about keeping my head above water with the new job, the pregnancy, buying our first house, my brother's accident and subsequent appointments, and all the financial stress in between. But a broken down car? Really? Leaving Alex stranded on a Sunday evening at the top of a mountain pass in the freezing cold? And then to have AAA deny towing the Suby because apparently my husband isn't on the policy? Really? Haven't I paid the used car gods enough respect?

Thing is, we can't afford much by way of car repairs right now. Not to mention we're still $1800 in the hole for having to rebuild the entire engine in July. I promise to work hard and keep being a supportive and loving wife, sister and daughter. I even promise to (finally) start building a functional savings account to be like a real adult and prepare for when things like this happen. But I was kinda hoping you could give me a little more time.

Also, you have a really strange sense of humor. But thanks for listening.

Friday, December 2, 2011


You know you're riding public transit when:

1) A man at the MAX station asks you for money, you decline politely, and he walks away mumbling, "It's because I'm black!"

2) Everyone at your Delta Park/Vanport bus stop/transfer quickly lights a smoke once they see the bus driver take a potty break.

And, 3) The person (lady, I think) across from you on the C-Tran bus through downtown Vancouver is drinking a 2-liter bottle of orange soda - for breakfast.

My immediate instinct is to judge and scoff, but really, I'm refreshed by the occasional public transit. It truly is nice to be reminded that not everyone sips their organic hot apple cider while driving their Subaru and listening to NPR or KINK on their way to a decent paying job. While this is my generally preferred mode of transit, I appreciate the variability and color that public transit sheds light on.

Plus, I got more knitting done during a single commute than I have in all of the last week.

Working at the VA, most of the patients I see are very, very different from myself. But they're not an entirely heterogenous group. Most are male, most are in the 24-40 or 60-80 demographic. All are veterans (obviously). Most smoke. Many drink. Most have mental health issues. Most are in very poor health. Almost all are white. Several are not well-educated, well-paid, nor well-groomed. Many have no real support system to speak of. Many are divorced; once, twice, or even multiple times. A few are homeless.

So yeah, their right-wing-blue-collar background contrasts sharply with my leftist-educated-upper-middle-class heritage, but it's still not as diverse a group as urban public commuters. On a regular basis, I love working closely with the veteran population. And I'll save bus rides for when I need a reminder of the rainbow of colors that the people of Portland comprise.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dear Daughter

Dearest Tilly,

I began to worry about you yesterday morning after a terrible dream that something bad had happened to you. I woke up scared that maybe you weren't inside my belly anymore. Or that you were in there, but that you weren't healthy or safe. I wasn't sure if I could feel you kicking and squirming anymore. I wasn't sure if I'd just gotten used to my rounder belly and lower abdominal sensations, or if something were truly wrong.

And that's when I knew how much I already love you. I realized I would be devastated if something were to go wrong. I feel like we've already made it so far together, and to think we're only halfway through a journey that begins before you even enter this world. We've got a lot of adventures ahead of us, Baby Girl.

Everything felt better when I got to hear your beating heart, at 22 weeks old, during my doctor's appointment this week. You are measuring just right inside my belly, and making me gain weight, supposedly in all the right places. I now weigh more than I ever have before. Even when I was in college and drinking too much beer and eating too much pizza. They say that's a good thing, since I'm working toward the goal of growing you a healthy brain. I'm not eating anything too weird yet. I love ice cream and tortilla chips just as much as I did before we created you. I actually feel pretty fabulous. You and that placenta gave me a run for my money weeks 6 through 14, but since then I've felt mostly like my old self. I'm tired after a day of work, but not too tired to watch Jeopardy!

22 weeks.

I can feel you moving in there!

I'm happy to know that you are indeed punching and kicking me in the liver or kidney, but I wish your daddy could feel this too. The doctor said it won't be too long before we'll be able to feel your movement from the outside. In the meantime, your daddy talks to you every night, and begs you to give him a sign that you want to come out and play with him next Spring. He is so excited to meet you - we both are - but he's getting all geared up to be the great daddy of an amazing daughter. I don't think he ever planned on having so many girls in his life, but he's already doing such a great job taking care of me, Gizzy, and now you.

Other people are excited to meet you, too. Your Grammy got a new job, so she won't be around as much as we'd secretly hoped once you are born. But your Auntie Rachel already agreed to help take care of you when I have to go back to work. And she's already so in love with you she's been knitting you several cute hats. Friends ask me how I'm feeling, and people at work and on Facebook are starting to know and tell us congratulations.

One of your future BFF's was born this morning, November 30th, 2011. AJ and Breezy Franzke delivered a healthy baby boy that might someday be your prom date. Or maybe he'll be more like a big brother. But either way, you'll be lucky to have him in your life. He doesn't have a name yet, but your daddy and I are already calling him Little Franzke and hoping he has a full head of red hair in no time, like his papa.

This is the growth chart I made for Baby Franzke.

Even though we get scared sometimes - about your health, our parenting - we are already so proud to be your parents. We can't wait to meet you, and we promise to do the best job we can to nurture you both physically and emotionally - and to always tell you that we love you. Which we do, to the moon and back.

Lots of love and hugs and kisses,

Your Mommy

***Note to Readers: We have not yet named our Baby Girl. We like to try out different names for a week or two, and see how they feel and if they stick. Tilly is our nickname for Matilda, which is on our current Top 5 list. So far it seems to be sticking a bit better than the others, but no decisions have been made. We still have a long list of names to try on for size: Cassidy, Francine, Mabel, Dahlia, Kennedy, Sylvia, Greta, Roxie ... In the meantime, we learned on that Millyis one of the 10 most-searched baby names, and that makes me doubly skeptical about one of our favorite names, Amelia. That, and the fact that, medically speaking, "amelia" means "without limbs."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking Care

Last night I was driving the Volvo back to my dad's to return it to its temporary home, after having borrowed it for the day, feeling kind of sorry for myself. With so much on my plate right now - my new job at the VA and taking care of patient needs; the pending house sale and taking care of business; my brother's injured brain and broken heart and taking care of his appointments and emotional needs; my growing baby girl and her plethora of upcoming needs - I started wondering, "Who is it that's going to take care of me???"

Alex is a Superman of a husband, but he doesn't take care of me the way I so desperately crave sometimes. I long for the empathy and comfort of a really good mama bear. The same way I feel when I have the stomach flu. I just want someone warm, loving, and maternal to come and stroke my hair, bring me crackers and Sprite, and tell me everything will be okay.

So yeah, I was feeling a bit woe-is-me-why-don't-I-have-a-mom, when lo and behold, my phone rings, and who is it?!? No, not my mom. That'd be weird. But my BFF Stac, the next best thing to a mom. I might not talk to her frequently, but she's got some inpeccable timing. And maybe even ESP.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Best Friends

I got to see both my CA-based best friends in the last week, although not at the same time. Their visits were short, but I love getting to spend any amount of time with these ladies. Both of these photos are shitty iPhone pics, and yes, we are out to brunch each time. Breakfast Club prevails, especially with friends in town.

Rach, Jo, Katie, and our little man Logan

Rach, Jo, and Erika

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Day

We had a nice family Thanksgiving this year, which was a departure from the usual. Not the nice part, but the family part. I haven't gotten to spend Turkey Day with both my dad and brother in quite some time. It was a treat to have Brian in attendance, but also as our chef du jour. The food was fabulous, as always, and the company even better. While everyone else clinked their wine glasses in a toast to good fortune and gratitude, I sipped away at my own fancy beverage of choice - sparkling apple cider. Yeehaw.

I have lots to be thankful for, this year and every year. Good health. A loving, devoted husband. A supportive, eccentric father. A healthy brother. A growing bean. Wonderful in-laws. My favorite four-legged friend. Amazing girlfriends. A new job. A pending home sale. Pinterest. Men's sweatpants. Gingerbread Cookie ice cream. The tv show Parenthood. And so much more.

Al rocks the double barrel to smoke the turkey and ham.

Brother, cousin, heifer.

The gang.

Proud soon-to-be papa.

Doting doggy daddy.

Father and son.

Gizzy and her first ham bone.

My love.

Sister and brother.

Jo and Katie, matching boots.

My 21 Run

False advertising, that title of mine. There has been absolutely no running involved in my 21st week of pregnancy. Or in the preceding 20 weeks. Or in at least 8 months, really. But there has been a lot of flatulance, tummy stretching, and feel-good hormones. Thank god for whatever those endorphins are that grace the second trimester, because without them, I'd be a hot mess about how much I look like those beached sea lions at Fisheran's Wharf in San Francisco. And I've barely even crossed the starting line of my growth spurt.

Alex keeps reassuring me, "You're beautiful ... You're not even that big yet. You're going to get soooooooo much bigger!"

Thanks, babe, thanks. And to top it all off, I got to spend the Day of Gluttony (aka Thanksgiving) with my brother's tall, thin, long-haired gorgeous girlfriend, and my adorable, petite, well-dressed cousin. Everyone kept saying how jealous they were of me for the excuse to eat whatever I want. Little do they realize that, in fact, I can eat even less now than I could before. My stomach, the actual organ, has a whole lot less space to expand. Although my belly appears large and in charge, there's a little munchkin taking up a significant amount of room. And she's only banana-sized at this point. What my family should have been jealous about was my awesome stretchy-waisted pants. Maternity jeans are sort of like a mullet - the whole "business down below" and "party at the top" kind of thing. I totally dig it.

So anyway, 21 weeks feels pretty good. I have a normal amount of energy (or, at least, normal for me), which means I can work, hang out with my hubby, and sleep my requisite 8-9 hours per night and feel just great. Then again, I STILL haven't worked in that whole exercise thing yet. I'm starting to actually believe myself when I say that walking the dog is good enough. But when I step on that scale next week at the OB, I'm going to wish I'd been "wogging" (walk jogging) and lifting weights or something. My nails are no longer long and beautiful, as being back to work has me back picking my nails. My hair feels the same wimpiness as pre-pregnancy. My skin hasn't broken out or anything, and I'm not uncommonly hairy. In fact, I'm my typical nearly-hairless self. My belly has changed, for sure. When I lie down I have to pick my head up to see my underwear over the curve of my tummy. And there sure as hell aren't any ribs or hip bones poking out anywhere to remind me of a skeleton under all this mass. I'm sleeping great. I'm actually more productive than ever, which I attribute to being back on a fulltime working schedule. My sex drive, or lack thereof, is the same as ever. And I'm as emotionally stable as I have been (since taking Zoloft). So pretty much I feel great, like my normal self, but several size too big. Like I wouldn't want to go to my high school reunion looking like this. Thank goodness for a liar of a husband and good friends who tell me I look great - because I think I've still got the uphill battle of bigness to climb for the next 19 weeks! Oh, but it will all be so worth it once I meet this little peanut of ours - I just hope she is as healthy and adorable as we picture her.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Soooo, I'm pretty sure we just bought our first house at a Burgerville in SE Portland. Yeah, you read that right, Burgerville. After a whirlwind of a day, we met our realtor at 8:30 p.m. last night to sign some more papers. Burgerville in SE was splitting the difference between where we were at dinner with the family, and where she was after work.

The sellers countered with an offer yesterday that included closing by the end of the year, and taking over responsibility for the current renters. Hell no. I've got enough on my plate with work, my bro, baby appointments, and now the house. There's no way I want any responsibility for approving a lease, then giving renters notice to get them out. In other words, I don't want anyone living in my house! So we accepted a second offer that did not include the renters and we'll close in the new year. So pending all the inspections, etc, we are likely new homeowners!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Making an Offer

We can check another first off our grown-up checklist.

It's like we're trying to pack it all in to one year (graduate school, new job, pregnant, etc), in case Nostradamus was correct and the world ends in 2012. So today we made our first ever offer on a house!

I tried to post a picture of our adorable little postage stamp house, but couldn't find the MLS report to steal a photo from. Is that a bad sign? Am I already demonstrating irresponsibility as a prospective homeowner??

We looked at "our" house, 7255 SW 54th Street, in the Maplewood neighborhood close to Multonmah Village, last Thursday in the dark. We liked it, and went back to visit on Saturday, with our friend, appraiser, and fake parent, Chuck, in tow. We loved it just the same. It has some cute curb appeal, but could use landscaping, a front deck, and maybe some better window trim. You walk in the front door, to hardwood floors in the living room. Straight ahead is a decently big kitchen, with an attached eating area. Not a formal dining room, but large enough to accommodate our 6-8 person table. There are two bedrooms on the main floor and a full bathroom. The stairs across from the bath lead to our humble little getaway. There's a master suite with full bath, and an adorable room-without-a-door that will first serve as the nursery, and eventually the grown-ups' office/sewing room. In other words, the upstairs is our own private hideaway (aside from the months/years we will have a screaming baby to attend to). Down the stairs from the kitchen is a full basement. It's half-finished, in that it's not gross to walk around, but is cold and not cozy to hang out. Eventually we want to put up some walls to segregate a laundry room, a shop, and a bonus room. There is a deck upstairs off the kitchen/dining area, with stairs leading down to a big, un-landscaped, yard. It already has some fencing, so Gizzy will be free to roam.

Alex and my tortoise-and-the-hare decision-making differences were profoundly clear when we decided we liked the house and wanted to move forward. I feared it was a race, and some other, less perfect young couple would swoop down and make an offer before we could. I was told "all the good houses go in a few days," and I didn't want to fall victim to this new wives' tale. Alex, on the other hand, likes to take his time, consider every possible angle, discuss and re-discuss the details of every architectural feature, hem and haw over a fair offering price - and then sleep on it. Fortunately, with the help of our realtor, Marcia, and our fake dad, Chuck, we were able to meet somewhere in the middle.

Which brought us to making our official offer - and a really yummy, realtor-paid brunch. We offered $290 on a house listed at $299. Alex wanted to offer $280ish, "given today's market," and I was willing to pay asking price. I just didn't want anyone else to take away my new dream house. Again, we met in the middle.

And more than anything - our excitement about possible home-ownership, the new neighborhood, painting our baby girl's nursery - we were pleased with our ability to come to a mutual, satisfactory agreement about the house itself, the asking price, and the process, despite having two totally different speeds. I love my husband and his tortoise-like ways. And I'd like to think my hare-ness complements him well, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

20 Weeks

We made it. Halfway point. I don't look very big here, at least not as big as I feel. Everything seems to be going swimmingly. I finally believe I'm pregnant. Instead of telling Alex, "I think I might just be fat/bloated/full," I've started to say, "I can't believe I have a baby girl in my belly!" I'm not sure if it's true kicking, but I definitely feel movement in my lower abdomen. It's not painful or even uncomfortable, but I am excited for the day when Alex can feel her kick from the outside. Again, then it will feel more real, and not like some psychosomatic interpretation of a uterine spasm or something. We've been talking girl names, and have about five in mind that we periodically try on for size. But I'm pretty good about finding something wrong with each one, like bad nicknames or associations with Alex's students. Then again, we have more than enough time. Patience, grasshopper.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Results Are In

Thank you to those who voted. We tallied 16 votes for Girl, and 6 votes for Boy.

Drumroll, please ...

According to the ultrasound technician, majority wins!

We are expecting a little girl come early April. Although I suspect she will be here right in time to keep me in the hospital for my 30th birthday. Little rascal. The above picture is of her labia. Let it be the first and last picture to circulate the Internet featuring any of her body parts. Seriously.

Here is her sweet little baby profile. She has a small nose - at least for now!

And here she is, just shy of 20 weeks in utero, wrapped like the little gift that she is inside my belly. We are so excited to meet her, but are happy to wait at least 19 more weeks for her to properly bake. In the meantime, we have time to think of the perfect name for our little bean.

Having a girl is exciting. Well, having a baby is exciting, and whether it's a boy or girl, we would be equally excited. But since we now know she's a girl, it's time to think like the parents of a daughter. First of all, I've already banned any clothing or paraphernalia featuring princesses, angels, or anything too girly of the sort. Plus my daddy still calls me Princess, so the name's taken. Secondly, I'm not about to go all pink on this new little baby of ours. I like pink just as much as the next person, but I'm not ready for the pastel hue to take over my life. We have all sorts of plans to raise this baby with a "gender neutral" parenting style, in that we want our daughter to learn both cooking and fishing, and the same goes for our son. But that won't stop me from dressing my 6-month-old daughter in tutus or dresses with leggings or even little Ugg boots. Sue me, I'm making up lost time for not being much of a doll-player as a little girl. As soon as she's old enough to assert herself and show clothing preferences, I'll stop playing dress-up and let her try out her own individuality. I'm excited for the development of a little girl, especially language development, since they typically start speaking and reading sooner than boys. I'm most excited to see Alex as the dad to a little girl. I can think of nothing cuter. He's sort of this guys' guy on the exterior, in that he loves sports, can grow a thick beard, and socializes only with a beer in his hand. But really, on the inside, he is all soft and gooey like a Cadbury egg. He can be sweet as pie, and is often more concerned with how other people feel (even if he is sort of dense in his actual interpretation of how he thinks others feel, namely, me). He loves cuddling, hugging, and any other variation of affection. And he has no problem talking about his feelings and expressing his love or admiration for those closest to him. Needless to say, while I hope this daughter of ours turns into my own little best friend, I suspect she'll be a bit more of a daddy's girl. Which is just fine by me. It will make for sweet daddy/daughter photos, at least.

Needless to say, we are thrilled and excited and deliciously in love with each other and our upcoming bean of a baby girl!

You Can Call Him Al

This is the man I call Al. Also, Father. He wore an entire camo ensemble to go "hiking," or as locals would say, walking, in Forest Park yesterday. That's right. I felt proud to be his daughter. And also ready to go duck hunting. When discussing possible baby names, Al said if he were to name a child these days, he'd go with something more international. "Like Mohammed. Or Carlos. Or Vy." Right, Dad. I'm going to name my pale, freckled white kid a name of Muslim, Latino, or Vietnemese origin. That wouldn't raise eyebrows. I appreciate the thought on making our little one a more global citizen, though.

Friday, November 11, 2011

For Me

I'm halfway there, and so far this is what being pregnant means to me:

I can eat a Luna Bar in the store, and pay for it when I check out, excusing myself for eating while shopping, shame free, by telling the cashier I'm pregnant.

My skin is now a size too small. I need a large or extra large for the next several months.

Driving home from Target, wearing sweats, eating CheezIts and candy while talking on the phone and driving 55 mph.

Forgetting to pay for one of my items at the craft store, and again excusing myself for my spaciness by telling the cashier I'm pregnant.

Coming straight home from work, and napping on the couch until my husband gets home.

Wearing Alex's pajama pants to bed. And all around the house. And outside. Every single day.

Constantly thinking about baby names. Even watching the credits of bad sit-coms in case they might have names I like.

Guilt-tripping my husband for playing disc golf and leaving his pregnant wife at home all alone on a holiday from work.

I shouldn't have to pick up dog poop. So I don't. Even if Alex isn't with me. Yes, I am now one of those people.

I can watch tv whenever I want and not feel guilty about it.

Carrying toilet paper in my pocket in preparation of the daily bloody nose.

Farting when I take my morning pee.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

19 Weeks

I've got a while lot of nothing to say this week, if you can believe it. I feel fine. I'm eating too much candy now that I'm back in an office. I still feel fat, not pregnant, until I see myself in photos. We're on the brink of halfway there, and I'm soooooo excited to learn the baby's gender Monday! Boy or Girl? Cast your votes now ...

Working Woman

I am officially part of the working world again!!! I saw my first patient in nearly 6 months!!! I get to score dozens of protocols for research!!! I have to wake up each day at 6:30 in order to walk the dog and arrive at work in Vancouver by 8 a.m.!!! Oh wait, that's the only part of re-joining the Rat Race that I am not a fan of. I long for you, sleeping in. That, and the fact I'm missing my 11 o clock date with Anderson every morning. Sigh. That pale-face-and-silver-haired fox ...

It's Day 3 as a true speech-language pathologist at the VA, and I am feeling oh so legit with my name badge, my own keys, and full access to the computer systems and patient files. I don't exactly have what one might call a "caseload" yet, but I'm working toward that. I did get dumped an inpatient in which nobody seems to want to work with. I saw him yesterday for 45 minutes, and I thought he seemed amiable and interesting. Verbose, greasy-haired, and injury prone, yes, but also cognitively impaired. Which means I get to rock out some APT attention exercises!!! See, this is love for a job. I'm hoping to get schooled quickly in the logistics and computer programs so I can amp up the pace around here. The Vancouver campus is a bit slower, in that my supervisor is less inclined to see swallowing patients, and more inclined for his research projects on reading comprehension and attentional lapses in OIF/OEF mild TBI patients. I'm down for both. I've been resting up awhile now, so I'm ready to roll.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

On the Hunt

This house hunting shit is an interesting mix of AWEsome and AWful. I like to make gross generalizations that Alex and I can't agree on anything, and we therefore have different values. How will we ever buy a house together? Or raise a family together!?! Melodramatic, I know. But here's the thing, I found two houses today that I liked, and my Nay-sayer of a husband says "eh" to both of them. I take it personally, like he is saying what I like is not good enough. Then again, he still thinks we are going to find a house for 250 with taxes less than 5 in walking distance to Multnomah Village that is over 2000 square feet. Unrealistic? I think so. The market is not that good. On the bright side, I'm less picky that I think I am. I just like a nice, benign house that we can nest comfortably in, grow into, and make our own home sweet home. Lucky for me, my smart hubby knows that this pregnant lady is more hangry than actually angry, so a Kettleman bagel and cream cheese with cucumber and tomato did the trick to diffuse any potential firefight.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

18 Weeks

We got to hear Baby's heartbeat and see shim wiggling around inside my belly! In the picture below, Baby's head is on the left, and torso on the right, view from the backside. Cute little butt, huh?!? No report on gender yet, but I'm still betting on a girl. We will know in just a couple weeks, and in the meantime we'll have to figure out a fun way to tell our friends and family the news.

And here is Baby inside my belly.

I recently watched an episode of the NBC sitcom "Up All Night," the one about the birth of their daughter. I think the show is kind of stupid, but I caught myself laughing at several scenes that I can imagine as being true - the perfectly planned birth, nothing going according to said plan, a single-minded obsessiveness with a headband, feelings of "what are we doing?!?" My favorite scene was after the credits roled when Christina Applegate and Will Arnett were heading to their car to leave the hospital; they were surprised, even offended, that the hospital would just let them leave with the baby, with no instruction sheet of any kind. "That's very negligent of them," she says.

I can say, unlike my 24-page wedding itinerary, I have no birth plan at this point. It's hard for me to even imagine what a birth plan might look like, considering that is one of the parts of this whole process that I avoid thinking about entirely. Ouch and gross. Enough said.

As for my pregnancy, I am 18 weeks along, and genuinely feel pregnant. Physically, I feel a constant pressure in my lower abdomen, like something is impinging on my bladder. I pee and poo more frequently than normal, which I think is cool. The doctor said everything appears healthy and normal - good low blood pressure, nice fast Baby heartbeat, good Baby movement, all four Baby heart chambers, etc. She did nag me a bit about my weight, which apparently is on the lower side of normal gain. First time in my life, ever, that someone has told me I need to pack on the pounds. Alex now thinks he can spike all my food with peanut butter. I swear that the measly 5-pound weight gain is more a product of fat replacing my muscle loss, rather than inadequate caloric intake. Trust me. I'm getting plenty of calories of all kinds - cookies, fruit, pasta, soup, cheese ...

P.S. Don't worry Giz, you'll always be our favorite four-legged baby.

Here she is, keeping it long and strong.

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