Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Competing Urges

Plants or naps?

Naps or cleaning?

Cleaning or reading?

Eating. No competition on the eating. Did I mention I eat every two hours?




I've turned into a bloody hobbit. At least my feet aren't furry!

BTW, I'm thinking of photographing my feet before I forget what they looked like in the non-swollen form. You'll be subjected to this, of course. Heh!

On the bright side, I've had a dream about the babies. Eek! It's the -ies part that gets me!

In the dream, they're 2ish and are riding about on matching red Radio Flyer tricycles. Caitlin currently has one, and clearly I bought or was given another to match. And the kids? One girl, one boy; one blonde, one brunette and I couldn't tell you for the world what they looked like or who had what color hair.

Apparently my psyche has skipped right past infancy. What am I trying to tell myself, anyway?

Ah well. More in 4 days. We're taking a break, since Caitlin is on Spring Break! See ya!

Look! I still have a sense of humor!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Quiz Time!

What eats every two hours?
  1. A newborn infant
  2. A vampire
  3. A woman pregnant with twins
Which of the following will gnaw off your arm if you don't feed it quickly enough?
  1. A newborn infant
  2. A vampire
  3. A woman pregnant with twins

Which of the following gets shaky and confused if not fed regularly?
  1. A newborn infant
  2. A vampire
  3. A woman pregnant with twins

Which of the following follows this pattern: eat, pee, sleep, eat, pee, sleep?
  1. A newborn infant
  2. A vampire
  3. A woman pregnant with twins
If you answered 1 and 3 to all of the above, you are correct!

Well, the twins?! thing is still blowing my mind. No, I'm not "excited" yet. I'm not sure when I will be. Some day, I hope. Right now though, let me put it into perspective for you - this is from Eric.

It's just like an unplanned pregnancy.

We were planning for one more child and that was supposed to be it. I had no intention of any more than that. That was as much as I was prepared to handle. For those of you madly in love with larger family sizes, good on you! You go get 'em! And no, before any of you get all excited about the idea: I am NOT having a fourth to "even it up". That was the most insane suggestion I've had so far.

Everyone seems wildly thrilled for us to be having twins, except for two or three folks that kept their heads about them. Twins seem like a thrilling idea until you're living it. It's more than just "Ooh! Free extra baby!", it's actually adding to the potential complications during gestation and birth. The possibility of them growing at disparate rates or coming too early and winding up in the NICU unit for days, weeks or months. The extra testing involved (2 amnios, remember?), the extra expense for the testing, the additional ultrasounds (although I'm looking forward to that part), the extra risk. I'm already a somewhat risky proposition just due to age. Adding twins into the mix doesn't lower my risk any. Extra school expenses, more gear, more "stuff", extra college expenses, an extra wedding....

And, for those of you so excited, keep in mind that we're the ones that will be raising them, breastfeeding them, changing 40+ diapers a day and having even less sleep than you get with a singleton. On the outside, we'll look like a mini circus, on the inside, we're likely to be crazed lunatics.

I'm sorry I sound all grumbly.

I'm glad that you're excited for us, just don't expect us to be excited for us until we know that everything is going to be OK. That time frame will be anywhere from 6 weeks from now (post-amnios) to 6 months from now (post-birth). Please don't expect me to accept magical thinking and your assurances that "Everything will be just fine!". You don't know that - you think that. You might even feel that, in your gut. I need to know. I need to be prepared. I'm trying to not worry (too much). I can't just ignore the fact that I'm pregnant with twins for the next several months or assume that everything will go swimmingly. I'd like to think I have an excellent chance at everything going well and that there won't be complications, but it doesn't mean things will work out exactly as I would hope them to.

Look, I'm scared and stunned. I'll get over it, I'm certain of it. In the meantime, keep being supportive, without expecting me to be all squeally, bright eyed excited. Tell me reassuring things without blowing off my fears. Don't ask me to skip testing or not think about all of the possibilities. Send me articles that talk about how my chances are better than I think they are (Cindy sent an article about new research on amnios suggesting odds are 1 in 1600 for potential miscarriages instead of 1 in 200, which helped!) and I will appreciate them.

I'm not worried about the parenting part. We've had loads of practice! I'm more concerned about producing healthy, full term babies. One level of stress will drop away in 6 weeks. Then it will be a matter of hitting a series of milestones throughout the rest of the pregnancy. Good weight gain, fetal movement, low stress, good exercise, that sort of thing.

Currently, I'm hoping for healthy. Next on my wish list is one of each sex. That would be pretty cool and something to be excited about. Caitlin could have both a younger brother and a younger sister! And I could use both of my names. I'm not going to concern myself with thinking up a second name for each sex until after the amnios. Then we'll know if I need to or not!

Finally, thanks. Thanks to all of you for the well wishes and congratulations and commiseration and excitement. We really, really appreciate it.

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Further Adventures of Woman with a Hatchet

A funny thing happened on the way to the Nuchal Translucency....

Since I'm of "advanced maternal age" I signed up for Integrated Screening, in which I would get an ultrasound and a series of blood tests in my 11th week to determine if I had any neural tube defects, trisomy or Down Syndrome issues. That appointment was yesterday. I've been wound up, nervous and paranoid that something was wrong since I haven't had a single dream about this pregnancy, other than the first one - the Tsunami. Yeah, I knew I was pregnant then, even if you didn't!

This lack of dreaming was kind of freaking me out, since with Caitlin, I knew right away that she was a girl. I had dream after dream of a tiny little, brilliant girl. Then we had the ultrasound which confirmed it. This time: nuthin'. So I've been waiting for this appointment so that I could put all of that fear behind me and get on with the gestating.

Let me lay the scene for you:

Darkened room, U/S tech at the computer, me laying on my back with warm goo on my ever growing belly and Eric to my left. I was looking at the tech, since we were chatting and Eric was looking at the monitor, mounted to the ceiling to my left.

Tech: (Moving U/S device, zip! zip! over my belly to locate the baby.) Did you know there were two in there?
Me: WHAT?!

Dead heart pounding silence.

Me: Are you KIDDING ME?!

Then I burst into tears.

Or wait! First, my brain exploded out of my head and ran screaming! It jumped into the car and escaped to the Bahamas, leaving me gravid (with twins!) and stunned (and crying) in the ultrasound room. Yeah! That's definitely what happened.

Then I looked at the screen, with my lower lip between my teeth, trying not to cry and failing miserably. Shocked. Distressed. Absolutely stunned.

My internal litany of "Please let everything be alright! Please let everything be alright!" switched over into "TWO?! What the hell?! Aaaaaaaah!" and then right after that into "Please let them both be alright!"

I kept looking over at Eric in disbelief. My head felt like it had just been wrapped in cotton and like everything was disconnected and farther away. Like at any moment I'd wake up from this dream (Finally! But what a doozy!). I was dreaming, right? Wasn't I dreaming? Was I really there, in the room, were those really my insides we were looking at and there were two babies in there?

What the hell?!

I am the Interrobang Queen today. Get over it.

I kept trying to blame it on Eric, but it was really obvious that there were two separate amniotic sacs and two separate placentas in there. Eric says I'm an Over Achiever. Apparently as you get older, your ovaries begin to fail and to compensate, produce more FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone - didn't know this would turn into a science class, did you?!) and are more likely to produce multiple eggs. Your periods get more erratic - no egg here, two there and we just hit the jackpot. Eek! Don't believe me? Look here.
What other factors affect the chances that I'll have more than one baby?
• Age: The older you are, the higher your chances of having fraternal twins or higher-order multiples. A 2006 study found that women over 35 produce more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) than younger women. Ironically, increasing levels of this hormone are a sign of failing ovaries and declining fertility. But FSH is also the hormone that causes an egg to ripen in preparation for ovulation each month, and women with extra FSH may release more than one egg in a single cycle. So while older women are statistically less likely to get pregnant, if they do get pregnant, they're more likely to have twins.

Still don't believe me?
Here's Baby A - the Difficult One. This is the one the tech had to hunt around for to get a good visual of the spine. Hey, did you know the one closest to the cervix is automatically designated Baby A? I didn't either! Hah! Learning something new every day! (Faints.)
Look! Twin B, the Easy One (Labelled already!) is looking upwards and those dots are its tiny hand in front of its mouth. Waving. At me. Hi Mom! Surprise!

This last shot is from "above", showing you two separate fetuses and the separate wall between them. They are clearly in two separate sacs, with two separate placentas and are extremely likely to be fraternal, very very unlikely to be identical and no, we don't know what sex they are yet, it's still too soon. Not everything has finished with the growing and the sealing and the developing yet.

Hello! How's YOUR Friday going?


OK. So yeah. Um....But now that there are two? Now we can't do the blood test because instead of being 96% accurate with its non-invasive self, since there are two!, it confuses the blood work and drops the accuracy rate to 70%. Do I need to know if everything is OK?

Do fish like water? Is the sun hot? Do you like to breathe air?

Yeah. So now, my choice is wait (and freak out for 7 months) or get an amniocentesis. Oh but wait! Since there are two! and they are not identical, we have to do two amnios. There is a risk inherent in each one. Now it's multiplied by two. How risky?
...the risk of miscarriage from amniocentesis is between one in 200 and one in 400, depending on the skill and experience of the doctor performing it. You'd also have a slight risk of uterine infection in the days following the procedure (less than one in 1,000), which can sometimes lead to miscarriage.

Yeah. There I was, crying again, having to make the decision to do the test, knowing I was introducing another level of risk. Instead of worrying about losing just one, now I'm worried about two. But I need to know. I need to know that everything's going to be just fine. So now I have an appointment to go back in 5 weeks for the ultrasound and amnioS and then 4 weeks after that for the 20 week, full body scan. They appear to have all of the appropriate number of limbs, but we get the full scan at 20 weeks. However, since we'll being doing the amnioS, we'll know 4 weeks early just who is in there. Is there both and Emma and a Brandon, or do I need to come up with one extra name for each sex?

Hey! Hah hah! Remember this post? Hah! It's so funny now, isn't it?

I was just KIDDING! (Shakes fist at Universe, which is clearly convulsed with laughter.)

Well, at least it's not kittens!

Oh and from what the doctor saw yesterday, everything looked good. Yay! (Tiny, weak cheering from the shell-shocked.)

Well! That was completely unexpected!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cute Overload

When I feel down, or find that I've read way too much news about death, bombings, rapes, and mindless evil, I go to CuteOverload to get over it. They had a link that I know some of you will appreciate.

It's so totally true. This would be why Caitlin's first word was "kitty", since we had three when she was born and kept pointing them out to her like damaged skipping records.

"Lookit the kitty! See the kitty? Niiiice kitty! Soft kitty! Pretty kitty!"

The next baby is also doomed to a similar fate, unless they both go into hiding when the baby is born. Oh well. They'll get used to it!

* Comic from xkcd.com.


I want a Mojito.


I can probably get Eric to order one and have a sip, but other than that, I think I'll have to make a limeade with mint. Lots of mint. The cats will love it!

You know what else sounded good? Hot dogs! Eww! I know! But they were good - from Wild Oats. Best I could do, hopefully they are low on cow lips and other unmentionable parts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hello! It's Spring!

That's right! Today is March 21st, the First Day of Spring! And we did have decidedly spring-y temperatures around these here parts.

Not only that - I got to poke around my plants some. Then, I talked to a very nice man about removing some evil trees.

Dum dum DUMMMMM!

The Shrub of Doom? Soooo last August! This spring the issue is: The Evil Trees of Stupidity!

The Original Owners of the House (aka the OOs) had a very utilitarian mindset when it came to the Original Gardening. The idea was Trees! and Grass! and that's it. Not just any old trees, either. Evil Aus Trees. Never heard of them? Neither had I. Know why? Because they suck! They grow like mad, have weak and brittle growth, attract aphids (And you know who likes aphids? Hornets! Yay! A two-fer!) and drop branches at the first sight of wind/rain/snow.

Why, oh WHY, didn't we rip them out when we first moved in 11 years ago?!

Because we didn't know any better and I'm a sucker for plants - that's why! No more! Eric has gotten so sick and tired of them that we're talking about having a tree service in to give us some quotes. Some quotes will be for trimming them back and giving them some sort of systemic pesticide to keep the aphids away. Hmm. Only there's three of these trees, you see, and the trimming won't keep them from being dumb, weak, fast growing, limb dropping, messy shade trees (They do, actually, provide shade just fine). The other quote will be to see how much it would be just to take all three of them out, grind up the stumps and get brand new nifty pretty trees put in.


Oh and the aspen in the front yard is on its last legs, too (I'm a bad Aspen owner!) so it will likely also have to be ripped out and replaced. I promise that I'll be good to the next tree! Promise!

The only really big downside to ripping out these trees is that a) there goes all that shade and b) it ain't gonna be cheap. Nuh-uh. Le Sigh.

The Tree Dude mentioned Lindens and Columnar Pears as replacements when I mentioned wanting trees that do something other than go green, yellow and fall off. I'd like a 3 season tree, ideally - something that flowers, fruits (for the birds), turns pretty colors in the fall and is neither weak, spindly, messy or likely to attract aphids and hornets by the busload. Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brillance' is starting to look pretty good for the aspen replacement. The linden doesn't look so bad for replacing two of the Aus trees in back for shade. Might be time to go visit some tree farms.


By the way, the apple tree that Eric moved for me in the fall that had barely any roots? It's perking right up this spring and is putting out new growth already. I think it will be happy in its new sunny home! Bunches and bunches of my tiny plants in the front yard are all coming back and the plants on either side of the stairs are perking up already. Looks like most everything has made it through the winter just fine. I need to get out there and do a whole lotta clean up, but I've been busy napping. That's gotta stop. Soon.

So...Happy Spring! On with the warm weather and flowering plants! Come on hummingbirds!

Doctor! Doctor!

I've got a doctor appointment tomorrow. They called yesterday and said they would squeeze me in (Read: I'll sit in the waiting room for a loooooong time until they can finally see me.) if I wanted. My other integrated testing date was set for early April so I said, Hell yeah!

So...I guess I'll go get rid of some of this unstoppable paranoia tomorrow! Yay me!

I have no reason to think there's anything wrong with me or The Walnut (or whatever size it's supposed to be now). Yet, I can't relax until I have someone in a nice white lab coat tell me that everything's fine, once they've poked me here and there, drawn blood and maybe done a really intensive ultrasound.

I'll let ya know how it goes.

Oh and in another week, the embryo gets to officially graduate to fetus status! Hooray for The Walnut!

Oh and last night? The first ever horking into the Porcelain God? Sucked. Let's not do that anymore, shall we?

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'm not a natural

guitarist. And I am sad and frustrated.

I'm trying really hard and I still get buzzing strings. I've got that sucker's neck in a deathgrip and all I'm getting is a sore thumb (and nicely calloused fingers).

Well, so much for my career as a rockstar! I'll have to stick to plants and photography.

Right now I'm drowning my sorrows in Earl Grey tea and a biscuit. "Cookie," Eric insists. What does he know? The Brits call it a tea biscuit and I'm sticking with them.

Humpf. Stupid fingers! Stupid guitar!

Thank you!

And thank you! And thank you! And thank you, too!

Many, many thanks for my friends and family that jumped onto the New Lens Fund. Thank you!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Mom and dad, Linda and Jim, Herb and Sue, Sierra and Scott, Dan, and Aunt Lenore. And many thanks to Jen and Paul for the game - it was great fun! Come over and let's do it again!

The lens is on order. Which lens? This lens: Canon 24-70mm 2.8L EF.

Oh yeaaaaaaa!

Now I'll stop whining about my 3rd party lens that won't focus properly anymore. Now my shots will be in focus again - immediately! What a concept! Ahh! Now for it to just get here.


Thank you. Not enough? Go here. No really! It'll make you smile.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Unrequited Puppy Love

My puppy did not love me, so I did not take it home.

I am saddened now, that my love was not to be.

Turns out that the one that I liked was the shy one. We put the leash on him (3rd visit) to take him for a walk around the store and he just wasn't that into us (Heh). He didn't like being away from his brother and he just lay down on the floor and looked at me with sad, shy puppy eyes.

Since my love was clearly not returned, I handed the leash and puppy back to the puppy wranglers.

Oh well.

Now, however, Eric is rubbing his hands together with evil joy that the concept of a puppy has now entered the picture. We're not planning on going out and looking anytime soon (that I'm aware of), but the thought is now there. Percolating in the back ground.

The cats are breathing tiny cat sighs of relief, even as we speak. Their space on the bed, still assured.

Now I will go and drown my sorrow in a small bowl of ice cream and some shortbread cookies.

It's my birthday!

Happy birthday me!

I have a song for the occasion:

It's my puppy and I'll cry if I want to!
Cry if I want to!
You would cry too, if it happened to you!

Yes, I did spend all night obsessing about the dog. I kept thinking up ways to have the dog. Naming the dog (don't even know what sex it is!). Walking the dog and such. Think, think, think.

Then today, after a yummy b-day lunch with Eric, I asked him if we could go back to PetSmart to look at the dog and see if I felt the same in the cold light of day that I felt last night. Weepy, to be exact, and wanting that black dog.


I'd like to tell you that I didn't. That I looked at the dog and said, "Who needs the hassle? Someone else will get it and love it." and then walked away.


Instead, I thought I'd do some more research. Asked the guy working there about it. Has it been abused? The info on the cage mentions Puppy Rescue - what was it rescued from?

Never abused, 4 months old, the two puppies are brothers "rescued" from a kill shelter in Nebraska by the Puppy Rescue folks. Hey, he's potty trained! And he appears to like kids and other dogs. Not spastic, loud or barky. Very even tempered and social. Not fearful. $90 for adoption, already had the first sets of shots and he's already "chipped". Not neutered yet, though.

Did I mention he's house broken?

Errr. Errr. Brain malfunctioning. Errr!

Has anyone else expressed interest? One other person, but they haven't come back.

Oh. Oh dear. OK. Well, I have to think about it. We're just thinking about it. I have two cats already. I'm just thinking about it.

We all say goodbye and Eric and I go get Caitlin from school. We discuss the Dog Issue on the way (not in front of Caitlin). Eric has had dogs previously and from time to time has suggested we get one. I've been the one that has been all "No! No! We don't need a dog! Dogs take work! Way more work than cats! Besides, what would the cats think?" Now, suddenly the tables are turning. Now Eric, who said "Absolutely not!" last night is moving to a neutral position.

He's become Switzerland.

Well, think of this and that and expense and new baby and yadda yadda yadda! I've already thought about all of those things last night when I wasn't sleeping and they're all trivial. Only two things really stand out: walking the dog in the cold winter (I'm cold right now and it's in the 60s!) and the expense. Yet...I've never regretted owning any of my cats. I've also never reacted this way to a dog before (or since Blackie, whom I loved dearly).

Is this my dog? Or is this just the hormones taking over my brain?

I figure that a) it would get us out of the house on a regular basis (Step away from the computers!) and b) I'd have the next 7 months to train the dog and get in the habit of having a dog. And that is a really sweet dog. Not drooly. And house broken. I mean, come on!

Talk me out of it! Please! Or something! Ahhh!

Otherwise I think I might just have a new dog.

For my birthday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


So we went to PetSmart to get catfood, since the cats are enamored of continued existence and like their kibbles. We're really good that way - we feed them! Regularly, even.

Inside the front entrance was a cage of puppies. A pair of 4 month old, German Shepherd mix puppies. One was mostly black, with a little white spot on its chest, the other was brownish with black streaks. We stopped to pet the puppies.

This was my first mistake.

These were sweet, quiet, endearing puppies. They weren't loud, frantic, nervous puppies. They said, "Love us! Look at how sweet we are!". They were evil that way. So I petted the puppies and then we moved on to collect the all important cat food.

We swung by the kitty section and said hello to the local inmates. We do this regularly, so I am inured to the loveability vibes of kitties. Also, having some already helps. I'm staying with two. Then we wandered over to have a look at mice and frogs and fish. We like to visit. Not unlike visiting the zoo, only less ice cream is involved. And lions. Absolutely no lions at PetSmart. Shame that. Of course, I'd never take a lion home, but if they had Ocelots, I'd probably get one in a heart beat.

Then, on the way out, Eric paid and I visited with the puppies again.

And god dammit if I didn't want the black one. Really bad. Very suddenly. And then I was crying/trying not to cry. I stood up and started doing the little jigging dance of I'm-fine!-No-really!-I-need-to-leave-right-now! So then we left, with me inexplicably in tears over a dog that kind of reminded me of my German Shepherd mix, Randy, who was a nice dog, but psychotic. Didn't remind me at all of Blackie (Very original name, I know.), who was a Border Collie and The Best Dog In The World!

I wanted that puppy for its very own sake; its soft eared, sweet natured, sniffy nosed self.

It's not like I'm worried the puppy won't find a home, I know it will. But I wanted it. For me.

And I need a dog like a need a hole in my head.


Fucking puppies!

Monday, March 12, 2007

About Kaboom

I was thinking about my cats yesterday and thought I'd regale you with cat stories rather than continued tales of "Whoa! I'm still sick!". Way more fun for all involved.

Domino has become the external face of Hatchet House: outgoing, friendly and looking for snuggles. Kaboom, on the other hand, is the cat you'll never see: nervous, paranoid but extremely snuggly with pretty much just me.

He seems to be a combination of previous cats - Pixel's skittishness, emotionally sort of like Xerxes, definitely her looks (although without the white tuxedo highlights) and his fur is pelt-like the way Dart's was: thick and rich. He is a great contrast to Domino, who will lay about with his belly exposed (he's confident and happy), but isn't really interested in you petting it. Kaboom never lays about with his belly exposed (Domino would probably attack), but when he hangs out with me in the bathroom, will stretch himself out so that he's an extra foot and a half long and will let me pet his side and tummy as long as I like. With my foot, even. Domino will put up with foot petting for about 2 strokes and then complains and walks away indignantly.

"I knew that you were part monkey but...Gah!"

I don't know about you, but my cats trained me long ago that I should never go to the bathroom alone. Started with Xerxes banging the door with her claws: bang-a! bang-a! bang-a! with her paw hooked under the door until I let her in. How could I possibly be safe in the little room with all the water alone? Then Pixel got in on the act and it's been all over since then. By the time Caitlin was born, the whole concept of having privacy in the bathroom was a foregone conclusion. So now the cats guard me while I shower. Or, maybe they just like saunas. Who knows? But when your hands are wet and drippy and a cat needs petting, that's where the foot petting comes in.

Kaboom is also a great masseuse.

No, really!

Late at night, after the umpteenth trip to the bathroom (And this is only the first trimester!), when I return to bed, I tend to pet the mostly sleeping Kaboom as I lay down again. He then goes into Snuggle Mode. He doesn't just walk up to my chin, lay down across my throat and get petted like Domino does, oh no. Instead, he walks up behind me, between Eric and I and I have to pet him over my shoulder (I like to sleep facing outwards). I scritch him and he purrs in my ear, then he settles down behind me and kneads my lower back, or my side if I'm flat on my back.

Knead, knead, knead. Ahhh!

He keeps his razor sharp claws sheathed and kneads away happily. It puts me back to sleep, knowing that I am well loved and kneaded by my cat. Hee!

He's pretty well mannered and never hollers about needing breakfast right now! in the mornings, but is the first to chase Caitlin downstairs once she starts moving. Unfortunately, since he's not top cat, he has to wait for Domino to choose which bowl he's going to eat out of first. After that momentous decision has been made, then Kaboom can eat.

It's tough, but he's well loved. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a cat in a house like mine.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Have you ever wondered

What happened to your childhood friends and playmates?

I was wondering about some of mine recently and discovered that a) the women are hard to find, what with name changes and all and b) sometimes your worst predictions about someone come true.

I was feeling melancholy and started poking around on Google, looking up the boys next door. Well, one I can't find at all. This makes me wonder what has happened to him or if I've completely forgotten how his name is spelled. It also reminds me that someone mentioned (oh, a decade ago) that he might have died. Or run away from the mob or something equally bizarre.

Another friend has turned out badly. He's doing hard time somewhere in FL for mail fraud. You know, I knew that boy would go bad when he started selling drugs during my first year in college. He wasn't doing the drugs, he was "just" selling them for the money. Because it was fast and easy. Now mind you, we didn't grow up that hard pressed for cash in Queens that he had any...uh...good? reason to be selling drugs. We were middle or lower middle class. No one was starving, he had both parents in his life and his younger brother. He even tried to drag his younger brother into it, but something happened to change the younger brother's mind about it.

I don't know what it was and my ego isn't so outsized that I think it was my hysterical reaction and hollering session during one of my breaks from college. My best friend told me what was going on and the two of us together went to town on the two of them. The memory of that confrontation is kind of fuzzy, but I was really upset and I remember the elder brother saying that drugged up people deserved what they got and he was just making money on them on their way down.


That was the end of that relationship, for me!

Over the course of the next several years I heard about him on and off from my friend - something about getting a girl pregnant, insisting on an abortion and then getting her pregnant again. I never said the girl was smart, either, since he didn't treat her well, but it's all part and parcel of his downward spiral.

Fast forward to a month ago when I found out his ultimate destination. Wow. Not very surprising, really, but wow. His younger brother, however, appears to be doing just fine in the music recording industry and is just as cute now as he was then.

Here's my question: Is it possible to stop a friend's downward spiral? What if, for instance, I'd been brave enough to tell my parents or his parents what was going on? I had no proof, mind you, so that and parental denial might have been a problem.

Have you ever faced a similar situation? How do I teach Caitlin to come to me if one of her friends (later, MUCH later in life) is going down the same path?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pregnancy and Gaming

I was reading a comic done by gamers that I had to share.

Penny Arcade has some very funny and bizarre comics. I have to admit that geek though I am, I don't get all of them since I don't have experience with all the games they refer to. I have to tell you though, the desire to eat unicorn has come upon me now and again.

Irrational food hatreds and sudden irrational food needs are part and parcel of being pregnant. I am totally guilty of making Eric drive to 3 different grocery stores to find just the right kind of doughnut. However, since I'm the one that's pregnant, he makes sacrifices for me.

I have to tell you though, the concept of a video game; a multiuser, online video game where you can get pregnant? What the hell? Bad enough it happens in Sims2, where you get to watch your tiny Sim throw up and eat like mad (I like how they spin around like whirling dervishes in order to give birth - if only!), but what exactly happens in Fable 2?

Must go find some unicorn meat - steak is losing its lustre!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Doctor! Doctor!

Got my 8 week appointment today. No ultrasound although I did cry all over the nurse who was doing my What Weird Diseases Run in Your Family interview.

I'm paranoid. I'm terrified something is wrong. I have no reason to be. I'm irrational about it. I fully own up to it.

However, I'm am also "of advanced maternal age", so there's a whole series of Integrated Tests that I can get starting around 10-14 weeks done by perinatologists that will answer all of my burning questions like:
  1. How many vials of blood can be drawn from me before I faint? Short answer: must be more than 5. Did 5 today and didn't pass out. Yay me!
  2. How many chromosomes does my baby have? We're still shooting for 23 pairs.
  3. Will my insurance pay for all of this testing? Vague answer appears to be: Yes, because you're so old!
Oh and there's a high resolution ultrasound in there, too, so I didn't feel too bad about not getting one today, although that would have answered the twin question.

So, the visit went well. Caitlin watched me get examined and I explained the inner workings of the female genital system to her with the poster on the back of the door as prop. She thought it was cool.

The doc said that I was normal, normal, normal for weight gain, showing already, nerves, fears, uterine size, illness and exhaustion. Then she sent me off to have my blood drained. Mmm mmm!

Do I feel less paranoid? Only slightly. I'm looking forward to the testing and the ultrasound. I'm looking forward to hearing the heartbeat - Caitlin should love that! In the meantime, it's pickles and doughnuts for me!


Irrational reasoning

Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Is it possible it's twins?

All of these questions will have to wait for their official answer at 20 weeks - some time in June. In the meantime, I will speculate wildly.

Why I think it's a boy:
  1. I'm nauseated daily. Could be testosterone poisoning, as Val put it. You'll have to search for her early pregnancy postings.
  2. I'm gaining weight like mad.
  3. This pregnancy is completely different from my first one with Caitlin. (Yeah, yeah - the "all pregnancies are different" crowd can go wait quietly in the corner.)
  4. I have a boy name I like, unlike the first time*.

Why I think it's a girl:
  1. I come from a pattern of girl, girl, boy, girl. My maternal cousins are girl, girl, boy.
  2. It might just be a completely different pregnancy. (You can come out of the corner now!)
  3. If it is a girl, I've got another great name**.
  4. If it is a girl, she is so grounded! Mommy doesn't like to be sick!

Why it could be twins:
  1. No dreams of either a girl or a boy.
  2. I have two names! Two names I like!
  3. I'm gaining weight like mad.
  4. I'm nauseated every day.
  5. It would make us insane.

So. Who knows?!

Might be kittens though.

* Brandon Reed
** Emma Rayne

By the way, I expect no complaints about the names. None. If you hate them, keep that knowledge to yourself. You'll get used to them eventually. Unless, of course, we have kittens. Then the names will change for sure. Eric says he reserves the right to change the names at any time, up until I'm actually giving birth. Lawyers - they like disclaimers!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Still Waiting for Spring

It stopped snowing for about a week. We had balmy temperatures in the 60s. I got to go outside and look at my itty bitty plants pushing their way up out of the ground.


Soothing green visions for the soul.

Then it snowed again.

Razza frazza fricka frat!

We need the snow. We need the water. I know. I know! But I am so damned over it! Can we just get on the with spring thing now? I want plants. And hummingbirds. And flowers. Mostly, warm sunshine and the ability to walk outside without whining about how cold it is.

On the bright side, that little window of warm melt showed me that my plants are okay and growing. Now I just have to wait a little more. Must be time to start a million more from seed.

I think I'll go do just that.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Angels in Argentina

As a follow on to the previous post, I have a story that is a perfect example of all the signals. I'm actually embarrassed to tell you this story, in many ways. It isn't a good example of my best thinking, but I learned a lot and after the book, I'm learning still more from it.

Way back in 2000, when I worked for The Man, I traveled a lot. One of my trips took me to Argentina to do some training. I went down with only one co-worker from the States and met a lot of good folks that worked in The Man's Argentinian branch. Determined to get some good sightseeing in, I got tickets to go to a dinner theatre Tango show. I love Tango! Love it!

I had asked my co-worker to join me, but he was uninterested. Since I wasn't going to let that stop me, I went on my own, after dinner. I took the hotel bus directly to the theatre, ate my dinner solo and did my best to not mangle the language. As I mentioned previously, my looks somehow manage to make me fit in almost everywhere I go. In Argentina, they thought I was a local (until I stretched my Spanish too far). In Brazil, they thought I was a local (until I tried to speak - Portuguese is similar to, yet nothing like Spanish). Even in Ireland, they thought I was a local, although at least there the language wasn't what got me into trouble, especially not once I started picking up the accent. Grand!

So I'm alone in a restaurant, enjoying dinner and looking forward to the show. The waiter came by at one point and mentioned that the man at the table behind me would like to buy me a drink. I turned around and waved thank you but can't remember that I accepted it. I wasn't drinking alcohol at that point. After some short time period, he invited me over to my dinner to chat. Being polite, I went. I didn't think much of it, other than being friendly with the natives and it being nice to speak to someone in English in a foreign land. We talked about doing business in Argentina, the show and marital status: I was, happily; he was divorced. Since we were all chummy now, it seemed kind of silly/rude to leave to go to my own designated seat in the theatre, especially when he managed to get us better seats together by slipped the waiter some large denomination of peso.

Can you see all of the signals? Forced teaming, loan sharking. Too many details. Typecasting came into play, I think and definitely refusing to hear "No".

There were "too many details" about his work and his divorce ("She was a cold woman"), but time has wiped most of the night from my mind.

We went in together and sat next to one another. He tried to ply me with drinks, but all I was having were Cokes. He sat too close to me for my own comfort. He kept trying to hold my hand. Not wanting to make a scene in a crowded theatre where I didn't speak the language, I kept taking it back. He even made a comment about how I was only married in America and I shot back, "NO. I'm married EVERYWHERE." He purchased the CD from the show for me and even got the waiter to take our picture together. I'm pretty certain that I threw it out, long ago, but you never know. It might be floating around somewhere, haunting me still.

I was so busy being polite that I was letting him sit far too close and had to listen to him try to sweet talk me back to his hotel! Clearly, trying to ignore the guy wasn't working. I couldn't figure out how to get away from him and yet continue to enjoy the show, so I stayed right where I was and tried to limit how and where he touched me - on the hand or on the knee.

It was awful. I was stupid.

I didn't want to embarrass myself by getting the waiter to move me. I didn't think that I'd be able to express it correctly in Spanish. Telling this guy "No" wasn't working. The end of the show was beginning to look a long, long way away.

Remember that I couldn't just leave - there was a bus that wouldn't be there until the show was over that would take me back to my hotel.

As the show finally wrapped up, I said goodbye quickly and went whipping out of the theatre ahead of the guy. I spotted two Germans that had been on my bus earlier and stood as physically close to them as possible.


The guy pulled around in his car and asked me to get in and that he'd take me back to my hotel. I said no.

I can't remember now, but did he "promise" to take me back to my hotel? Possibly.

He insisted, saying it was cold and I repeated my "No" and stayed right where I was next to the German couple. Finally, he drove off. Alone.

I returned to my room, shaken and furious with myself. What the hell happened to me?! Why did I let that happen?! Why didn't I just get up and walk away? It was as if the whole thing spun out of control little by little and I couldn't understand why it was happening.

Why was I so worried about being polite in a foreign land that I let some stranger paw at me - a married woman! - in a darkened theatre?

I called Eric and I cried all over the phone.

I still love Tango, but I'm not that polite anymore to strange men. I don't smile as much at strangers as I used to.

The best part?

His name was Angel.

Survival Signals

Per our short discussion in comments, there are a lot of creepy people out there, so how do you know what to look for in case of really creepy people? Well, The Gift of Fear has a few signals to look for:

  • Forced teaming: ...an effective way to establish premature trust because a we're-in-the-same-boat attitude is hard to rebuff without feeling rude. The detectable signal of forced teaming is the projection of a shared purpose or experience where none exists: "Both of us"; "We're some team"; "How are we going to handle this?"
  • Suggested defense: ...make a clear refusal to accept the concept of Partnership. "I did not ask for your help and I do not want it."
  • Charm and niceness: Charm is almost always a directed instrument, which, like rapport building, has a motive. Think of charm as a verb, not a train. If you consciously tell yourself, "This person is trying to charm me," as opposed to "This person is charming," you'll be able to see around it.
  • Suggested defense:I encourage women to explicitly rebuff unwanted approaches, but I know it is difficult to do. [Discussion about women in our culture expected to be "available" to men] ...it serves the man who has sinister intent by providing much of the information he will need to evaluate and then control his prospective victim.
  • Too many details: People who want to deceive you...will often use a simple technique that has a simple name: too many details....When people are telling the truth, they don't feel doubted, so they don't feel the need for additional support in the form of details. When people life, however, even if what they say sounds credible to you, it doesn't sound credible to them, so they keep talking.
  • Suggested defense: When approached by a stranger...no matter how engaging he might be, you must never lose sight of the context: He is a stranger who approached you. A good exercise is to occasionally remind yourself of where you are and what your relationship is to the people around you. With a date who stays beyond his welcome, for example, no matter how jokey or charming he may be, a woman can keep herself focused on context simply by thinking, "I have asked him to leave twice."
  • Typecasting: A man labels a woman in some slightly critical way, hoping she'll feel compelled to prove his opinion is not accurate. "You're probably too snobbish to talk to the likes of me,"... a woman will cast off the mantle of "snob" by talking to him. Typecasting always involves a slight insult, and usually one that is easy to refute.
  • Suggested defense: Silence. [Remember this is a stranger, what do you care what they think of you?]
  • Loansharking: ...the predatory criminal generously offers assistance but is always calculating the debt.
  • Suggested defense: ...is to bring two rarely remembered facts into consciousness: He approached me, and I didn't ask for any help. Then, though a person may turn out to be just a kindly stranger, watch out for other signals. [The author then goes on to make a lovely little analogy] There is no spiritually minded movement dedicated to lightening the burden of American women by carrying their groceries.
  • The unsolicited promise: ...is one of the most reliable signals because it is nearly always of questionable motive. Promises are used to convince us of an intention, but they are not guarantees.... The reason a person promises something, there reason he needs to convince you, is that he can see that you are not convinced.
  • Suggested defense: [Bring to your conscious mind that thought that] "You're right, I am hesitant about trusting you, and maybe with good reason. Thank you for pointing it out."
  • Discounting the word "No": Declining to hear "no" is a signal that someone is either seeking control or refusing to relinquish it. With strangers, even those with the best intentions, never, ever relent on the issue of "no", because it sets the stage for more efforts to control. If you let someone talk you out of the word "no", you might as well wear a sign that reads, "You are in charge."
  • Suggested defense: [Unambiguously say NO about whatever the issue at hand is. Don't use waffle words "I think,"; "I suppose".] When someone ignores that word, ask yourself: Why is this person seeking to control me? What does he want? ...the response that serves safety is to dramatically raise your insistence, skipping several levels of politeness. "I said NO!"
--From The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker

Think on those signals for awhile. There is so much more to this book, I clearly can't go into it online. Get it, read it, think about it. Teach it to your children, friends and family. Yes, a lot of these are the same signals that men use when "just" picking women up, but remember that it's all about context. Are you somewhere safe? Alone? Afraid?

Don't be afraid to be rude. Ever.

Read it and hone those instincts.
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