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.

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