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February 2006
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April 2006

So unfair.

Standing in line at the grocery store the other day ...

On my checkout lane: napa cabbage, pears, red peppers, asparagus, salmon, a lime, couscous, V8 Fusion juice, a purple onion.

On the checkout lane next to me: package after package of Ramen, Pop Tarts, sugary cereals, chips, soda, cookies.

What's so unfair? In my lane is a chubby woman (um, me) in her early 30s with two kids, dressed in gym clothes because she's at the grocery store after more than an hour of moving her tail at the gym, trying desperately to lose the weight that her kids have put on her body ... but all the gym and good diet in the world seem to be doing nothing. In the other lane is a woman who is a total young Dyan Cannon lookalike - skinny, wild hair, pretty face. Has a young boy with her and, when she turns around, is probably about six months pregnant. And so skinny she has to keep pulling her pants up.

Now, how is it that I do everything right and can't lose a pound? And this woman eats all that crap and yet is skinny and beautiful? Sometimes DNA sucks ass.


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So, it's been an interesting weekend. Lots of friends, but in a bittersweet way. First the sweet - which IS sweet. See the above pix? Those are my friends - Kirsten is hanging on my fridge because she came in the mail the other day. I totally emailed her, "Kirsten ... were you in my mail today? Hawking Great Clips?" To which she replied, "No way! It's out? They haven't paid me yet!!" To which I said, "Huh. Well, you're on my fridge." Hope Great Clips ponies up soon. And there's my other friend, Nisa, wearing the Her HOFness crown at our crop on Saturday. Seven hours of goodness with my crop friends. We added three new faces - Sandra, Jen, and Sue. We were missing Margie, Angie, Jen, Susan and Jes. It was still lots o' fun.

Then came today.

Rszhandnick Today we had to say goodbye to our friends, the Brandts. They are moving to Texas on Friday and I'm so sad. We met five and a half years ago when Heather and I both took our six-month-old boys to a Gymboree class. She and I were both transplants to Minnesota and lacking a family/friend support system. She asked one day if anyone would like to start weekly walks around Lake Harriet. I said sure. And that was it. We've had weekly play dates ever since. Henry and Nick have known each other pretty much all their lives and have been wonderful friends to each other. (They were also born four days apart at the same hospital ... we were leaving just as they were coming. Too funny.) And Heather has been such a good friend and sounding board and gossip-sharer and kid-swapper. Our boys know each other's house inside and out and are a part of each other's family. We had outings year-round, summer picnics, trips to the pool, cook-outs on weekends, sledding and snow days, parades and parks, a belatedly-begun game night ... we took turns watching each other's kids so we could have nights out alone with the hubby. We left the kids with the daddies so we could have girls' nights. We've drank our share of wine, laughed millions of laughs, been through through lots of tears, been a strong shoulder when a child just wouldn't eat/sleep/behave/cooperate/listen, been a sympathetic ear when a husband was a dink, commiserated over families, celebrated over good fortunes and happiness. And now they're moving to Texas.

I'm Texas-sized sad right now.

But this is an awesome move for them. It's perfect. They will be so happy. And in the past year the play dates have lessened as the boys started different schedules at different schools, and as Nick's little brother had his own schedule and Harper added a kink in the works on my end. The reliance on each other and commitment to weekly get-togethers has eased anyway, so the total loss of them won't be nearly as great as it would have been a year ago. But when they got ready to drive away from our house today, I felt teary-eyed as Heather and I hugged goodbye. And as the boys hugged goodbye. And at the thought that to see them again I have to go to freaking Texas.

But I'll go for them. Cuz that's what friends do.

Oh yeah. I love you.

Marc_2Marc woke up with a migraine today. He's been getting about one a week lately and it's both worrisome and irritating. Worrisome because this is my guy, here. My best friend. One of the three people I love most in this world. And when he's in pain, I can't stand it. I hate to see my big guy taken down by something so small it's cause can't be found.

But irritating because they seem to fall on days I have plans (eg tonight's dinner with my dear friend of the past six years who is moving to Texas in two weeks. Texas, I say! I'll never see her again! That's a hot, southern state!!). Not to sound completely self-centered, but the migraines seem to check my calendar and plan their attack based on how much I look forward to something. And, wrongly, I get annoyed with Marc for having the audacity to succumb on a day that's inconvenient for me.


But I can never stay annoyed with him for long, because then he'll do something so great, so wonderful that I remember he's my guy, my soulmate, the one I love, and that migraines or not, missed dinners or no, he's the guy for me.

Like tonight, watching the news, seeing a report about a big snowstorm brewing. And Marc says, "I hope we get it!" Now tell me, what other guy, on the eve of the first day of spring, would echo my inner wishes by telling the weatherperson he wants more snow. Yeah, I love this guy. And stuff like this reminds me why.

Gotta brag on my boy for a moment:

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Last night was taekwondo graduation ... Henry is now officially a blue belt, which means we just have brown, red, and red/black to go. He'll test for his black belt in December. December!! He won't even be seven yet!!

The way his school is structured, kids reach their black belt and then sort of "start over" when they reach a new age level. Not start over in terms of belts, but start over with forms and whatnot to "tighten the screws," so to speak, on their body position and sharpness of movement. This is quite the process. The instructors keep it fast and fun when the kids begin so they don't burn out and find it too serious and stressful. At first I was really unsure about that ... I'm all for the serious and stressful ... but it really works for Henry. He's so proud of his achievements and loves to go to class.

This kid adores his weapons. The forms he could take or leave ... he finds them fun but isn't too keen on practicing. Sparring he thinks is pretty awesome, but we haven't been too religious about sparring practice because he hasn't started tournaments yet. Board breaks? Yeah, he digs that too. But for Henry it's all about the weapons. His instructor told me one day that students tend to really excel at one of the three studies - forms, sparring, weapons - and Henry is definitely a weapons guy.

He did a great job at the graduation last night. Knew his camo form pretty well, demonstrated rockin' nunchukas skills, broke his board on his first jump front kick, pushed over the instructor during self defense demo. All that cool stuff. Then he got his blue belt and he just glowed. Ear-to-ear grin.

And look ... his black belt is now up on the wall, just waiting to be cut down in December. A little daily reminder what he's working toward.


I wish I'd known months ago!!

I've been saying for months - since we have a girl who loves her plug but loves to fling it out of her crib into the far corners of her room in the middle of the night - that there needs to be a glow-in-the-dark pacifier that you can find when only sorta awake at 3 a.m.

Well lookie here!!

But damn. I was hoping it would be my bazillion dollar idea.

Oh well. Off to Babies R Us to find these buggers.

Reflections on a Year

One year ago today - at 5 p.m. to be exact - I went into labor with the baby I'd wanted and for whom I'd been waiting and praying for the past two and a half years. As I sat in the armchair and timed my contractions, I couldn't believe the time was really here. That I was really going to have a little girl. That I was about to meet my last baby.

Amazing to think it almost didn't happen.

When Henry was born, Marc and I felt so completed by this little guy. He was the final link in our chain. The final piece of the circle. We felt done, even though we'd barely begun. Looking back, Marc would feel our family was perfect whether we had one kid or five, as long as everyone was happy and healthy, we could afford them, and he could still get in some quality time with the computer. I, on the other hand, was out of my mind with post-partum depression. I truly think my initial feelings of "Yup! This is it!" were triggered by my feelings of freefalling toward something bad. I didn't want to risk it again. I didn't want to go through it again. I didn't want to feel so isolated and afraid of a baby. I didn't want to lose my mind or my fragile grip on reality and my marriage. There were many days when I called Marc early in the afternoon, begging him to come home because I couldn't handle Henry. I truly have no memory of that. In my mind, I can remember bits and pieces of my time with Henry at home, but only after I began treatment with antidepressants. For seven months before that, nothing. Literally.

As I got healthier and got a stronger grasp on things, life got better. I thoroughly enjoyed Henry and our days together, the friends we made and the activities we did. Things were wonderful, and I started to feel this pang in my heart that it would never happen again. That I'd had one shot at being mommy to a small baby and I'd blown it. And I started to want another, though I was so scared of losing my mind again that I didn't say anything. I was too afraid to say it out loud because then the expectations would start, the questions from people wondering if we'd have another. Those began anyway around the time Henry was two and it was just assumed we'd have another, and by the time Henry was three the question came from everywhere. I couldn't handle it. I couldn't ignore the fact that I wanted another, but I couldn't ignore the fact that I was scared to death to try again.

Marc and I talked about it a lot and decided that we'd give it a try, we'd leave it up to God, and if we got pregnant we'd watch my reaction very, very closely. With Dr Zoloft on speed dial just in case. But one year went by, then another, and I didn't get pregnant. I was heartbroken and crushed, feeling that God knew I couldn't handle another. Henry was almost four, people were asking all the time about a second baby, and I had reached the end.

Marc and I said we'd try until Henry was four and then that would be it. The Christmas before Henry's fourth birthday I sent out what was apparently construed as a depressive missive, stating that we were done having babies, trying to get pregnant wasn't working, please don't ask us about it anymore. In my mind, it was self-preservation, though I think most people were shocked at the lack of a "happy yearly bragfest"-type letter. Not my style even on a good year, people.

Henry turned four in February and that was it. No pregnancy. We were done. But two weeks later I found out I was pregnant and that changed everything. We were shocked and ecstatic!! Until ten days later when we lost the baby. I was crushed beyond crushed. I was livid that God would give me a baby right on the deadline and then snatch it away. And I knew, I knew from the moment I peed on the stick that I would have a girl, and the loss of her felt deeply personal.

And then, a few weeks later, I had this epiphany: God wasn't being mean. God wasn't telling me it was over. God was telling me there was a baby for me, but now wasn't the right time. But I couldn't stop trying because of some stupid deadline I'd enforced.

Crazy or not, I believed it and that's all that mattered. We decided to move, we got our house ready, and the day it went on the market in July I found out I was again pregnant. And this time it stuck.

Nine months of puking later, Harper Lillan was born. And I truly felt, from the first moment I saw her, that she's my girl. She's the one who came into my life on the day I was meant to be done trying. She was trying to tell me that she would be mine, but I had to give her her own time and space. The way she looked at me - and the way she still looks at me - she looks right into me. I know that sounds like a bunch of existential hooey, but I know my girl. She was meant to be mine all along.

Everything I went through to have her, it all matters. It was all meant to be. SHE was meant to be. Like I tell Harper every day, I love this girl BIG. And I know there is something amazing for her to do on this earth, even if it's just to show me it was all worth it and I don't need to be afraid anymore.


ahhh ...

Snow!! Finally!!! We've only been waiting since December!

Heck with the fact that spring starts in a week. Heck with the fact that it was 60 degrees the other day.

We enjoyed every moment of it today, from the first moment I awoke at 6:30 and got giddy looking out the window, to the hours Henry spent outside sledding and playing, to watching Harper take her first header into a pile of snow and come up laughing - good girl!!

Snow!! Lovely!!

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It's happening.*

* If you are a fan of Bush, the Christian Right, or a pro-lifer, you may wanna skip this one. Or read another point of view and start thinking in a more compassionate light. Your choice.

South Dakota has banned abortion. The fear among liberals when Bush bounced into a second term and was in control of two seats on the Supreme Court is playing out. The tide to overturn Roe v. Wade is coming. And I'm sad and scared of the shape of things to come.

Having given birth to two children, and having gone through the months of feeling those little people rolling around inside of me and getting to know them, I can honestly say children *should* be given a chance at life if it doesn't conflict with the health of the mother. And that abortion shouldn't be used as birth control. And that in most arguments I can see both sides of the coin.

However ...

In cases of rape and incest the government wants to force women and little girls to go through nine months of daily reminders? The memory will be haunting enough without a physical slap in the face. They want to make little girls give birth to babies created out of fear and horror and pain? They want to make husbands watch their wives die, and possibly the babies too, because a health issue resulted in a fatal pregnancy but there was no way to end the pregnancy legally and save the mother? They think it's better for woman on welfare/on meth/in abusive relationships/who are abusive to their children have yet another baby?

I understand there are degrees of anything. A late-term abortion is truly a horrible thing, but one early on? When the pregnancy is little more than a blastocyst?  What about the long-running philosophical chicken-and-egg question of where the soul is - heart or mind? Regardless, there is a good three to four weeks after conception when the pregnancy is little more than a collection of dividing cells; there is no heart, there is no brain, there is no spine or fingernails or anything cute and cuddly.

Tell you what, let's pass the Morning After Pill and make it over the counter. That way, in a case of rape or incest the woman can take a pill and block the debate altogether. That way, in a case of a promiscuous woman who would use abortion as birth control, she could use this instead and block a pregnancy from occurring. That way in a case of a woman who simply cannot afford birth control let alone another child, she could scrape together what it costs to go to the pharmacy for a little peace of mind.

That's one thought.

Here's another: all you rabid pro-lifers out there ... promise to adopt the child that the little girl who was raped by her father is on her way to abort. Promise to adopt the child who is going to be born with so many handicaps that he or she will live in a vegetative state forever, or will have such severe handicaps that the birth parents can't afford proper care. Promise to adopt the baby whose mother was strung out on heroin for nine months. If every pro-lifer had adopted every aborted child since Roe v. Wade was passed, that would be nearly 58 million little lives saved. Granted, we would ALL then have to pay higher taxes because our population would suddenly swell. More schools would need to be built. Urban sprawl would be just a little farther along. Global warming might be a little more exacerbated by the extra carpooling. Landfills would be a little fuller because of all those billions of extra diapers. Healthcare would be stretched a little more thin due to more children in need of long-term care due to affects of birth defects. And there would be no end in sight.

And don't even get me started on the government getting to choose what is right for ME and MY life without knowing a damn thing about me. Who the hell are they to make such a decision?

Come on, people. Let's think about this a little bit. I haven't heard a single idea, a single argument out of pro-lifers that make me think I could be wrong. Don't override my decision-making process ... don't override my inate human ability to reason ... just put on your thinking cap and come up with a solution that doesn't involve government control of our free-will as humans. Let's think a little about human rights, about compassion and love, about reason and practicality, before we just make a blanket decision for everyone across the board regardless of situation. Why should what I do with my life and body be any cause for your intervention? Don't you have your own life to live??

Funny thing about Donna Downey ...

DdThere was a time when I really didn't like the girl. Not personally, mind you, but in principle.

I'd see all these layouts with her name on them in all these magazines, and in every one of them there was this great journaling about all the amazing things she did with her kids. And they looked perfect and her house looked perfect and I had no idea how she could be so perfect and manage to scrap perfectly at the same time. That irked me.

Then there was a little "episode" involving a contest and some shameless plugging and pimping. (You know the one I'm talking about Donna ... thanks for owning up to it! ;o) ) A personal pet peeve of mine ... winners should win on merit, not popularity. But hey ... that's just me.

Then a few little things happened. First, Donna gave up her scrap-for-hire biz and was looking for someone to take it over. I figured what the heck and sent her my info. She forwarded it on to her client and the client actually contacted me for further info. Nothing came from it, but reaching Step 2 felt like a big deal.

Secondly, I heard about Donna's blog and took a gander, and discovered that A) she wasn't perfect, and B) she actually sounded like someone I would absolutely hang out with.

So last week when my friend Sandra called and asked if I'd seen Donna was going to be in Minnesota for some classes and did I want to take one, I said sure and gladly looked forward to seeing what Ms D is like in person.

Holy cow. She's a hoot. Genuine and funny and bawdy and adorable and totally down to earth. Yeah, I'd definitely hang out with her and grab a beer if she was my next door neighbor.

And those perfect kids in the layouts? Turns out many of them were layouts for her client. They were her client's kids and her client's perfect life. But the client can't/didn't scrap. Sigh. All is right with the world.

And Donna, I'm so happy to say my first impression was a wrong one. You rock, and I look forward to talking to you for DesignerZine - your story is such a great one for designers to hear!