10 Years of Feline Fun

Since I was a little girl, I've always shared my house with an animal companion or two.

When the hubs and I moved into our first apartment together 10 years ago, one of my stipulations was that we needed to find a place that allowed pets, and that we would adopt a cat. The hubs was a dog person. Luckily, he was open to sharing his house with a cat.

Shortly after we moved in, one of my coworkers at the time posted a notice on our company's intranet. She had found a pregnant cat wandering along the side of a busy road. She had taken her to her own cat's veterinarian's office, and the vet had graciously offered to board the cat until she delivered her litter. This had just happened, and there were now five kittens up for adoption. The woman who found the pregnant mother had decided to keep her.

After checking with the hubs (who was my boyfriend then), he agreed that we could adopt one of the kittens. One of my friends at work (hi Veronica!) came with me to the vet's office and planned to adopt a kitten as well.

Once we arrived, one of the veterinary technicians informed us that one of the kittens was already spoken for. My friend picked out her favorite, but I simply couldn't choose between the two gray (one light, and one dark) kittens huddled together in the back of the cage. They had their little legs entwined with eachother, and seemed completely bonded. Then and there, I decided to take the pair (one boy and one girl) home with me once they were weaned. Luckily, the hubs agreed.

Eight weeks later, we got the call that the kittens were ready to come home with us. Once I arrived at the vet's office to pick them up, I was informed that the woman who was to adopt their mother had backed out. My two kittens were the last to be picked up, and I couldn't fathom the thought of taking away this mama kitty's last two babies and leaving her there by herself. I called the hubs, and asked how he felt about becoming a three-cat household, when we had originally agreed on one, and then later two. Being the giving kind of guy that he is, he agreed to allow us to become "cat people." I took the two kittens home in one cage, quickly went out and bought another cage, and returned for the mama.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

10 years ago today, Claudia and Louie were born to Chubbie. The little family has never been apart for even one day of their lives, and it shows. The siblings love to snuggle with their mother to this day.

Louie is our prototypical "scaredy cat." He's a timid and shy boy who is not a fan of loud noises or sudden movements. Louie is not a fan of the hubs or of Isabella, as both are pretty loud, and Louie is most often in hiding when they're around. But Louie is also incredibly loving when he wants to be and enjoys hanging out with me when I'm home alone (which is pretty rare these days).

Claudia, his sister, craves love and affection. She was "Daddy's little girl" before "Daddy's human little girl" came around, and when the human daughter goes to bed, Claudia seeks out the hubs for some one-on-one attention. Claudia loves the sun, and like her mother, is extremely tolerant of Isabella laying all over her.

And because I couldn't possibly leave her out, here's Chubbie, the mama of the birthday kids. She's only a year older than they are (knocked up at the age of one, the hussy), and she is the most affectionate (and rotund) cat of the three.

When Isabella was born, I can't tell you how many times my relatives asked me if I was going to "Get rid of the cats," as if they were a cockroach infestation I needed to take care of. I have never for the life of me understood why people give away their animals or take them to a shelter when they become parents. I would read postings that said, "My wife just had a baby so we need to find a new home for our 12-year-old cat ASAP" all the time at my former employer's. I helped many of these cats find new homes by taking them into our home temporarily, and searching for suitable parents. Baring a horrible infant allergy or a suddenly violent display of behavior toward the new baby, there is absolutely no reason why animals and kids cannot co-exist. In fact, my daughter absolutely loves our cats. She cannot wait to see them when she gets up in the morning. And they are so incredibly tolerant of her eager displays of love.

So, happy 10th birthday, Claudia and Louie. It's been a great 10 years. Here's to 10 more.


Toronto was wonderful. Having only myself to look after (which is a big enough job all in itself) for over 24 hours was delightful. Sleeping in (until 7:30) was fabulous. Having a 22-gauge needle-free ass on Sunday morning was a joy. Dirty Dancing was incredible.

Leaving my baby, though? Not so great.

I dissolved into a full-on blubbering, hormonal mess as we were leaving on Saturday morning. Isabella was all-too-happy to see us leave, waving and smiling, and thrilled to have the undivided attention of my mom, as she always is. She wasn't sad or clinging to me or confused about what was happening.

However, from my reaction to leaving, you would have thought we were about to set sail around the world. I hadn't been apart from Isabella for more than six hours since the day she was born. I had put her to bed almost every night of her 20-month-old life. I didn't think I would react so emotionally, but I did. About 30 minutes into the drive, I regained my composure when I realized I didn't have to wipe a dirty butt, pick up thrown food from the floor, or read Toes, Ears, and Nose! for a whole day.

On our way to Toronto, we stopped at the IKEA in Burlington, Ontario (the closest one to us, unfortunately) because my mom had given me a gift certificate for my birthday so we could find some sort of storage device for all of Isabella's toys currently splayed out all over our living room.

We hit the "As Is" section of the store first, and we were thrilled to find exactly what we were looking for: a white cabinet with eight different sections, which fit the baskets I found elsewhere in the store perfectly. Best of all, it was 40% off because it has a few tiny scratches on it. So we paid $54.00 for it, plus the cost of the baskets. I haven't stashed her toys inside yet, but I can't wait to get everything off the floor. I also bought a small bookshelf and some office storage supplies for myself.

We hit a slight snafu when the cashier told us that my gift certificate was only good for IKEAs in the United States. What? Seriously? But I looked on the back of the card, and there it was, in plain English. This makes no sense to me (a gift card is a gift card, right?), so I guess I'll have to use it online instead, since I think the next closest one to us is in Pittsburgh.

Once we arrived in Toronto (such a hip city), we checked into the hotel, relaxed for a bit, and then went to Alice Fazooli's, a really nice Italian restaurant, for dinner, where the hubs consumed a Red Bull-vodka tonic, which I was told tasted exactly like a Smartie. Yum?

Then, we went to Dirty Dancing, which was awesome. The actor cast as "Baby" was phenomenal-the perfect mix of shy dork and willful teenager. The actor cast as "Johnny," while nice to look at and an incredible dancer, was a little flat. For me, it was hard to see why Baby would fall for him, while in the movie, Patrick Swayze oozed coolness and sexuality. That said, the music was incredible, as was the dancing, and the audience was totally into it, which made for a fun night. We went back to the hotel, watched Flip That House, and crashed. The next morning, we went to breakfast and headed home.

According to mamacita, Isabella did great while we were gone, and while she asked for us at times, she never cried. My little motor-mouth did sell my mom up the river, though, when I asked her what she and "grammy" did while mommy and daddy were away. She looked at me and whispered, "Watch Elmo!" and "Cookies on couch." So that's what you did while mommy was away, eh?

And now it's back to reality, to laundry and dirty dishes and impending deadlines. I missed my girl so much, but this trip to Toronto also made me miss pre-baby, travel-packed life we led before becoming parents. But it's also a huge comfort to know that I can leave Isabella with my mom again in the future and not have to spend even one second worrying about how she's doing. For that, I am really grateful.


Prior to Isabella's birth, the hubs and I traveled a lot. We usually planned one big vacation and then at least half a dozen weekend or three-day getaways a year.

The last time we went away was in May of 2006. We went to Skaneateles, NY, about 1.5 hours from home, and we spent two glorious pre-baby days walking around a lake, eating out, and sleeping late in a quaint village inn. At the time, we had no idea that it would be two years before we would again embark on anything resembling "a vacation." Of course, motherhood has been completely worth staying installed in my hometown like a quasi-cloistered nun for the past 24 months, but even nuns need to disrobe and go dancing (or maybe Dirty Dancing?) every once and awhile, right?

We're leaving this morning for our first night away from Isabella. We're going to Toronto to see Dirty Dancing and to stay overnight in a hotel that according to their website is neither filled with Sesame Street toys nor broken crayons of assorted hues. We will eat in a restaurant that I did not specifically choose based on my ability to cut and run with a screaming toddler with the least amount of disruption to other diners. And we will sleep in past 6am.

Would you like to know why we're able to do that?

Because as of today, I am DONE with my fertility med injections! Every single morning for almost three months, I have received some kind of fertility medication in the form of an injection. Every single morning for the past two months, my husband has had the pleasure of doing the injections into my (ever-expanding) arse at 6am before he leaves for work. My arse is battered, bruised, and has these mysterious hard deposits underneath the skin. I'm 10 weeks tomorrow, and instead of toting an arsenal of needles, syringes, and other drug paraphernalia over the Canadian border and possibly causing an international incident in the process, I plan on celebrating by treating my behind to an extra two or three hours of sleep.

Toronto isn't the Highlands of Scotland or Italy's Amalfi Coast, but it is an amazing city, and only three hours away from where my little girl will spend her 28 hours of parent-free living eating ice cream with her hands for breakfast and making her own stuffed animal by hot-gluing cat fur to construction paper. My mom is watching her. I am simultaneously grateful and terrified.

I expect to arrive home tomorrow refreshed and well-rested, and with a newfound appreciation for Elmo, Dorothy, and that creepy-beyond-words Mr. Noodle.

A Good Day

Being the chubbie-looking one in a waiting room full of perfectly rounded bellies belonging to obviously pregnant women doesn't do a whole lot for the self-esteem. I had my first prenatal appointment today and upon entering the waiting room, I was immediately reminded of how much I hate this "in-between" stage of pregnancy where instead of looking gloriously with-child, you look like you've been hitting the Haagen-Daz too hard.

The appointment was long (as the first appointment always is) and riddled with Q&A ("Have you used any illegal drugs since becoming pregnant? No? Come on! Not even pot? Wow! You've been good.") examinations of internal and external body parts, and a whole lot of paperwork. My longtime OB-GYN left the practice, so I am now the patient of the doctor who did my c-section. She rocks. So greatly does she rock that she gave me a slip of paper authorizing an extra ultrasound before my next appointment in a month, since she knows I'm prone to worry. I always thought it was asinine that insurance companies permit only two ultrasound for the entire pregnancy, unless you opt for genetic screening (which I'm not doing).

I told her than other than some serious exhaustion and nausea in the morning or when I haven't eaten in awhile, I've been feeling pretty good. She said my uterus feels nice and large, which is reassuring.

I have already gained 5 pounds since my transfer on March 5th. Of course, given my penchant for face-stuffing since becoming pregnant, I wasn't all that surprised. She said she'd like to see me gain about 30 pounds, which is more than I gained with Isabella. Hey, I'm 1/6th of the way there!

She's planning on doing a c-section during my 39th week (so probably November 17th, 18th, or 19th).

She didn't attempt to try and hear the heartbeat, because at 9w4d, it's just too early. However, I was unconcerned. Fetal dopplers you can use at home were made for anxiety-ridden, neurotic, and worry-prone women like me. Although I still maintain that I'm more relaxed this time around, the BabyBeat Advanced Technology Doppler is coming to stay at my house for awhile. I used it 422 times a day when I was pregnant with Isabella. I plan to dial down the crazy a few notches this time around and aim for once a day.

A free and unscheduled ultrasound made for a pretty good start to the day. However, news I received when I arrived home made the day that much better. It seems there are fresh pints of the aforementioned pistachio-pineapple frozen custard at my favorite ice cream place ready and waiting for me. And not only that, there's pistachio-cherry waiting there too. And how do I know this? The shop called my house and left me a message, of course! It seems my dear husband, stopping by after work one day last week, mentioned to the person on duty how his wife who was eating her weight in the frozen loveliness each night would be disappointed to know that neither of her two favorite flavors were available for purchase that day. The counter worker put our phone number on a call list, and when they made the flavor, they would phone us and let us know. And they did.

My doctor will be so happy to know that I've reached my weight gain goal by the 2nd trimester, don't you think?

Tread Lightly

Today is Earth Day, and while I am far from the poster-child for saving the environment, becoming a mother has made me even more concerned about the state of our planet than I was before.

Like most people, I operate on a budget. While the bleeding-heart liberal in me would like to donate entire paychecks to animal welfare and environmental causes, buy only organic food and clothing for my entire family, and drive a hybrid car, the penny-pinching freelancer in me won't let this happen.

But I firmly believe that no matter what your economic status, there are little things every single person can do to help the environment.

Here are a few suggestions of cost-effective (or free!) things you can do to go green:

1.) Buy (Some) Organics

Isabella's diet consists mainly of organic foods (always organic fruits, vegetables, and dairy). I've written before about why organics are an important choice for my family, but I recently stumbled across this alarming fact: According to the Organic Trade Association, an estimated 2.5 million tons of pesticides will be used in agricultural production this year alone. These chemicals contaminate groundwater, degrade the soil, and put harmful chemicals into our food chain.

While it's nearly impossible for anyone on a food budget to buy all organic foods, why not buy a few each week? Every little bit helps, and it's my experience that in addition to the health and environmental benefits, organic foods taste better than conventionally grown and processed food.

2.) Reuse Plastic Sandwich and Freezer Bags

I got into this habit when I began making Isabella's baby food and burning through plastic freezer bags like crazy. Assuming you haven't used the bag for something extremely messy or smelly, simply wash out the bag after its first use, dry it, hang it over your faucet handle to dry, and reuse it a second (or third) time. Sandwich/freezer bags are made from petroleum plastics, a nonrenewable resource, and they also produce toxic emissions while manufactured. By reusing bags and cutting down your consumption, you can not only help our air quality, but also save a little money in the process.

3.) Replace Halogen Light Bulbs with Compact Florescent Ones

I've been steadily replacing all my halogen light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs over the past few months. Compact florescent bulbs use 50-80% less energy, and last 6-to-10 times longer than halogen bulbs. They cost a bit more, but in the end, you're actually saving money because you don't have to replace them as often and you'll have a lower energy bill each month.

4.) Buy Products With Minimal Packaging

As a mom, I find it infuriating when I have to spend 15 minutes hacking through massive amounts of cardboard and plastic, twist-ties, and thick tape just to release a new toy from its packaging. The waste one toy generates is often three times as large as the toy itself. I've made a concerted effort to seek out consumer products with as little packaging as possible to reduce waste. I also buy in bulk when possible.

In addition, here are a few helpful links:

For a thought-provoking glimpse at the health risks associated with climate change, check out this post written by Amy (aka Asthma Mom).

Sign this Earth Day Network petition to ask Congress to cap greenhouse emissions and require utility companies to generate 30% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, in addition to other global warming prevention initiatives. (Thanks for the link, Amy.)

Please feel free to share your tips and techniques to help save our environment. I'm always looking for new ideas to do my part.

Happy Earth Day.

Isabella at 20 Months

Isabella turns 20 months old tomorrow. How can it be that this tiny baby

is going to be two years old in just four short months?

This past month marked the emergence of a fierce independant streak. She's always been a very "spirited" and stubborn baby, but in the past month, she's been able to vocalize exactly what she wants, which is nice in one way, and kinda sucks in another. We are deep in the throes of "Isabella Do!" There is very little she believes she cannot do on her own, including climbing a full set of stairs without assistance, dress herself, and take herself on a walk through the neighborhood, none of which she is allowed to attempt (although she can put on and take off her Velcro-secured shoes pretty well without assistance). This patience-less and stubborn mommy and her equally afflicted daughter are butting heads.

However, while the screams of "Isabella Do! can get really annoying, really fast, some of her other new tricks offset the independance struggles. She now loves to ask what people (and things) are doing, as in, "What Daddy doing?" and "What sippy cup doing?". Asking inanimate objects what they're doing is slightly hysterical, as she sometimes pauses waiting for them to answer her.
Another of her favorite vocalizations is "Hold Something! HOLD SOMETHING!" which is toddlerese for "Give me whatever you happen to be holding right now, or I'll whip off my diaper and poop in your shoe." And she's also started saying, "Mine," to which I have to try my hardest to avoid replying, "Honey, nothing is yours. I own you, all your toys, and even the air you breathe."
We're really trying to hammer home the idea of saying, "please" and "thank you," because a bossy toddler with no manners lands quite high on my "Stuff That Irks Me" list. Luckily, she seems to have picked it up fairly well, and now accompanies many of her requests with a "please" even when we haven't asked her to say it. (She's a little less forthcoming with the "thank yous," though.)
She's developed a sense of humor over the past month, and now says that things are "funny." If she falls down (and doesn't receive a mortal wound), she'll say "funny." Or if she sees something entertaining on Sesame Street, she'll say it then too. And she's started trying to make us laugh too, by putting a bowl on her head, or hiding from us when she knows we're looking for her.
Isabella can walk backward now, which is pretty amusing to watch. She can also run quite fast, and there's been many a time when I've had to take off at a full sprint toward her to prevent her from running into the street. Luckily, we live in a fairly quiet neighborhood, but I want her to learn that the street = danger.

This wouldn't be my daughter's monthly update if I didn't have a problem that needs solving, so here it is. A wicked little violent streak made its debut this month. She's hitting. A lot. This happens most often when she's frustrated, and is usually always followed by a maniacal laugh, as if she's enjoying pissing us off. How does one go about disciplining a 20-month-old in a meaningful way? I can't see a time out working at his point. And we're not doing the spanking thing. Any suggestions?
Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions last month for dealing with our food battles. I've decided to take some of your advice and adopt a more laid-back attitude toward getting her to try new things, and so far, it's working.

Current Likes: Drawing with sidewalk chalk, talking on the phone, and counting dogs in the neighborhood while on walks (oh yes, I said walks! More on this soon.)

Current Dislikes: Keeping shoes on, her parents

Fast Times in a Home Office

For the last four months or so, I have been slogging through life with a laptop on its last legs. Admittedly when I bought it almost 2.5 years ago, I opted for a cheap cost over a quality machine, because I was working full-time, and did 95% of my blogging, emailing, and surfing on my company's nickel. I used my personal laptop mainly for the odd freelance project on the weekend, and for looking up naked pictures of Jake Gyllenhaal.

I kid. Or not.

However, once I left the corporate life (and with it, my wickedly fast company-owned computer) to work from home, I realized just how inadequate my laptop was to getting anything done quickly. And when you're a freelance writer working from home with a toddler at your feet 24/7, there is nothing as important as speed.

In the last few months, my laptop problems have escalated. It would take 10 minutes to boot up in the morning. It would freeze for no reason and slow to an absolute and mind-blowingly annoying crawl at least a dozen times a day. It would take minutes to open email messages and sometimes sometimes several more minutes to send them. Its fans were running constantly, and no amount of compressed air I blew into the bottom holes of my machine was helping to cool it off or clean out the vents. I was constantly rebooting it in hopes that it would suddenly act like the power machine it was never built to be.

It didn't.

Soon it became apparent I would need a new laptop. When Isabella is awake and I need to accomplish something important on my laptop, such as emailing a client or one of you, I have seconds, not minutes to get it done. I cannot wait for a laptop that's crawling.

A computer whiz friend of mind checked out my machine and confirmed that it was, indeed, a piece of crap. I upgraded the memory (and I even installed it myself!) in the hopes of finding the cheap way out of my little problem, but to no avail.

So I bit the bullet. I went completely out of character and with a "go big or stay home" mindset I bought a business-class Dell Latitude D630 (a computer whose specs my friend selected for me). It has an 800MHz dual core (which means nothing to me except that I was assured this translates to FAST!), 4 gigs of memory, and a 120 gig hard drive.

I am officially smitten.

I can now send emails in no time at all. Web pages load in seconds. I no longer have time to fold a load of laundry while switching between programs or windows.

Can a computer change your life?

Oh yes. Yes, it can.

Babies in the Workplace

My initial work plans following Isabella's birth included a 14-week maternity leave, followed by three days working in the office and two days working from home. Soon after she was born, however, I realized that the thrill-a-minute life of the at-home mommy was too great a deal to give up, and I asked my manager if I could work at home full-time. He was a great boss, and agreed, but a needy baby and a demanding job eventually became too much for me to handle, and I gave up the needy baby. I mean, the job. I gave up the job. That's how I came to be a freelance writer.

Awhile back, a friend of mine sent me a link to this news video. Basically, it's a short piece from the national news that talks about a new trend where parents bring their young babies to work with them. Apparently, 70 companies nationwide have a formal "bring your baby to work" program in place. The arguments for such a program include higher employee morale (obviously, if your company is saving you tens of thousands of dollars in daycare costs, you're going to think they're pretty damn great), greater productivity in that parents aren't worrying that their infants are watching 10 hours of Baby Einstein videos in daycare because the precious bundles are right there next to them emailing "XfglhlhkFKGO!)#%*)$^()T()$^(%)" to their managers, and lower healthcare costs, because mothers can breastfeed their young babies longer, which may lead to reduced illnesses.

I watched this video and I initially thought, "Wow. Cool."

And then I reconsidered. Is bringing your baby to work really a good thing?

On a practical level, I see a Babies At Work program working in only a specific subset of office environments, and definitely not in one where employees interact face-to-face with clients. The office profiled in the video is a law firm. How exactly do the lawyers meet with clients with any degree of professionalism if there's a baby in the room with them?

I think the success of a program like this one also depends quite a bit on the makeup of the office. For example, this never would have worked in either of the two offices where I spent the first 10 years of my professional life. In the first, I worked in a giant cube farm surrounded by other writers and editors. Quiet was paramount and demanded of everyone. When employees did bring their wee ones in for a few hours during school breaks or when they were sick, resentment abounded. In the second, I worked in an office where 95% of the employees were middle-aged males whose wives did not work because they stayed home with the kids. To say a Babies At Work program wouldn't do well there is a drastic understatement.

And of course, from a purely selfish perspective, as an employee who suffered through two years of infertility hell, the last thing I would want to see and hear all day, every day is my office-mate's beautiful gurgling baby. Younger, unmarried employees and those without children might resent the presence of the bambinos too.

Obviously, our government and healthcare system has a long way to go in reforming laws and benefits for parents of young children. The maternity leave and childcare provisions in this country suck and need to change now.

But I'm not sure a Babies At Work program is the answer.

Telling Again

We didn't break the news about my pregnancy with Isabella until I was 11 weeks along. This was due to a number of factors, but mainly because I was scared shitless my entire first trimester, and to a lesser degree, for the other two. After over two years of unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant, I was absolutely convinced, until the very moment she was placed in my arms following her birth and declared beautiful and healthy, that something would go wrong. I didn't want to break the hearts of my family members and especially my grandma's by giving them the news too early (whenever that is) and then have to tell them later on that I had lost the baby.

The hubs and I didn't agonize over the right time to tell them this time around. And although I was somewhat nervous about breaking the news this early (and I do realize that to many couples who break the news before the pee stick dries, waiting until 8 weeks isn't early at all), I am much more laidback this time around.

I want to enjoy this pregnancy (which assuming all goes well, will be my last) from beginning to end. I spent way too much precious time of my pregnancy with Isabella convinced I was going to miscarry at any second. My first trimester was especially hard because I wasn't throwing up, I didn't really have food aversions (although I had plenty of cravings) and I didn't even really start showing until I was 18 weeks along (which is why I was able to wait that long to tell my former employer I was pregnant). I had so few signs that everything was fine with the pregnancy that my mind was working overtime convincing myself otherwise.

I'm determined not to repeat those mistakes. I'm not spending every free moment reading pregnancy books or Googling miscarriage rates. I am still nervous and praying every day that things continue to go well, but I am not obsessing.

This time around, my mom and my sister were in on the FET plan well before my transfer. They've known since March 17th that I am pregnant again. We told the rest of the family yesterday at my great aunt's weekly Sunday dinner.

We dressed Isabella in a "Big Sister" shirt.

We walked into my aunt's house, and my grandma grabbed her as she always does. She and my cousin took her into my aunt's back bedroom to take off her coat. The hubs and I stayed in the kitchen with the rest of my family.

It took my grandma about three seconds to come charging back into the kitchen saying, "Does this shirt mean what I think it means?"

We told her yes, indeed it does. Everyone was happy for us. We told the hubs' family on Saturday, and we plan to tell my dad soon too. His dog was recently diagnosed with cancer, and he's really going through a hard time, so it doesn't seem quite right to tell him right now.

And while it does still feel like an enormous responsibility to have so many people's happiness riding on top of my uterus right now, and I will admit to having a very hard time answering questions about plans for the future baby yesterday after telling my family, it also feels pretty damned good to share the joy that I'm feeling right now with the people I love most in the world.

March Goal Review and New April Goal

So somehow it's April 12th already, and I have yet to set a new goal for the month. However, I remain undeterred in my pursuit to live according to the Type A handbook, so I'm setting a new goal for next month anyway.

But let's review last month first, shall we?

If you recall, I set a singular goal of getting myself pregnant (not literally) last month. Whaddya know? I actually accomplished that goal, or rather, my doctor, a wad of cash, and a whole lot of luck accomplished that for me. All I did was take to my bed and pretend I was thinking positive thoughts the entire time.

So, if you're keeping track, since January I have accomplished 4.5 out of the 11 goals I set for myself so far this year. While I'm batting less than 50%, I will tell you that my desk, which I cleaned as a goal last month, is still relatively neat. Yay for me.

My new goal for this month is comprised of two separate but related parts. I need to start eating better, and I need to find a way to exercise.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions as to things I can incorporate into a healthy pregnancy diet. I know the baby will take what he/she requires and leave me as the deficient one, but I need to pay more attention to the foods I'm putting in my mouth.

I also need to avoiding eating half a frozen pound cake straight from the tin, which I'm sad to say made up the entirety of my lunch one day last week.

The exercise part might even pose a greater issue. I had to quit running the day before my FET. My last run took place on March 4th. For the two weeks between my transfer and my bloodtest, my doctor told me not to exercise. Presumably, I can start again now, but I won't return to running until after the baby is born. I know it's perfectly safe to continue with exercise that your body is already accustomed to, but I am paranoid.

So, for the last six weeks, my exercise regime has consisted of walks from the couch to the fridge. Granted, given my current eating habits, I figure I'm logging a good two miles a day, but this is still a good three miles fewer a day than I'm accustomed to.

"Take walks instead! It's spring! The weather is beautiful! And Isabella will love it!" you say?

I wish. Unfortunately, my hopes that my daughter's strollerphobia disappeared over the long winter were unfulfilled when I took her for her first walk a few weeks ago only to have to run for cover once she started screeching like a howler monkey to get out. Anybody need a practically brand-new stroller? I'll sell it to you for cheap.

I need to start finding time to get some semblance of exercise. I've contemplated joining the Y, but it might be a bit cost-prohibitive right now. And somehow hitting the treadmill for a walk in the early morning doesn't sound appealing, since I'm already getting up at 6am so the hubs can give me my injections before he leaves for work. Besides, who wants to walk inside when the weather outside is nice? So, this goal will require a bit of thought.

Are You Going To Finish Those?

In my non-pregnant life, I'm a pretty healthy eater. Now, by "healthy" I certainly don't mean that I consume salads comprised of endive leaves and baby spinach for lunch, disallow all foods containing refined sugar and white flour from crossing the threshold of my house, and measure my portions using a closed fist. No, if you're a longtime reader here, you know I am a super-picky eater and vegetables and I don't get along.

But in general, I tend to eschew crap food, and only eat it on a rare occasion. And on Fridays. All bets are off on Fridays.

And also, sometimes Saturday nights.

Moving on!

Since becoming pregnant, however, I have lost all my willpower and desire not to die from a massive heart attack at age 35. I am starving.


And before you you chuckle to yourself and think, "Well, of course she is! She's growing a person in her uterus. She's eating for two! Of course she's starving!" allow me to end the empathy right now. I am not snacking healthfully.

The other day I stopped at the store to buy milk (builds strong bones and teeth!) and whole wheat rolls (low in fat and high in fiber!). I also bought a sour cream donut and ate it in the car on the way home in approximately 60 seconds flat. WTF? My non-pregnant self, she who ran 25 miles a week, would never have done this in a million years. But when I passed the bakery section, someone else's hand (clearly, not my own) reached out, snagged the ring of trans fat, and put it in a bag.

Yesterday, I may or may not have eaten the remnants of my daughter's waffle off the floor of our dining room, even though I had just finished my own breakfast.

And then there's the pint of pistachio-pineapple frozen custard (not ice cream) from Abbott's (for those of you who wanted to know) I plowed my way through the night before my ultrasound.

Lest you think I am dining on snow cones and gummy bears for every meal, I will tell you that my main meals are fairly healthy. I'm consuming more dairy and fresh fruit than I normally do, and I'm making a concerted effort to add more protein to my diet as well. I need to eat more vegetables (or any vegetables), but disaster digestive side effects accompanied this endeavor when I was pregnant with Isabella.

I need to find a pregnancy diet I can adapt to fit my weird dietary quirks. I also need to eat healthier snacks. I'm more than open to suggestions.

Donut holes are way better for you than whole donuts, right?

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner

Last week, Jess asked what I received for my birthday.

I had asked my sister for a new purse, since she is all fabulous and stylish and sadly, I am not. She has taste in clothes, purses, and accessories that I admire, so I left my purse decision in her capable hands. She bought me this one, from Matt and Nat, a Montreal-based business that makes 100% cruelty-free bags made of no animal by-products whatsoever. Am now fabulous and stylish myself, apparently. Am also badass with a purse named Public Enemy. Thank you, Karrie!

The hubs did equally well. We are going to Toronto. Overnight. We're staying in this hotel, which we already know is quite nice because we've stayed there before. And we're seeing a musical. We are both complete musical theatre geeks. You name it, we've seen it. And on April 26th, we are seeing:

There's only one small 23-pound problem. It will be my first night away from Isabella.

I'm trying not to be all dramatic about this. To some of you seasoned moms, I know my apprehension about leaving her must sound completely lame. Obviously, mothers leave their children for well-deserved and much-needed vacations. But it will be the first morning I'll awaken without seeing this little face.

We're leaving her in the very capable hands of my mom, who is coming to stay with her for the weekend. And truth be told, Isabella probably won't even notice we're gone, because her grammy will likely occupy every second of her waking hours with art projects well beyond my limited crafty means.

I'm also quite certain we'll come home to a toddler hyped up on sugar from being fed cookies and ice cream with a Red Bull chaser for two days straight ("because that's what she likes!"), but I suppose that's a small price to pay for knowing your child is in good hands while you're gone.

Leaving her will be hard, but I also know that I need this mini-break. I really need it. Working from home with a very needy toddler all day, every day is by far the hardest job I've ever done. It is extremely physically and emotionally taxing for me. And now, with being pregnant and exhausted most of the day, it's even more difficult. The idea of not having to be responsible for a little person's daily care for almost 36 hours is incredibly appealing to me, as is the idea of being able to use the bathroom without having a companion in there with me.

April 26th also coincides with the day of my last injections (can I get an Amen?). This means we won't have to haul a cache of needles, syringes, and other drug paraphernalia over the international border, which I can only think will go a long way toward keeping me out of the Canadian prison system.

So I'm nervous about leaving her, but I'm also excited about my time away. A little time away from me is good for her, right?


After stress-eating my way through the greater part of a pint of pistachio-pineapple ice cream followed by a horrible baby-related nightmare last night, I was prepared for a really bad morning. Instead, I am ecstatic to tell you that after a close encounter with a condom-clad dildo cam, I am pregnant (still) will ONE healthy 7-week-old baby.

Frankly, I was shocked. The hubs was shocked. Even my doctor, who entered the room telling me I had "super-strength embryos" was shocked. All three of us were truly expecting twins based on my hCG numbers.

Instead, we saw one fetal pole. One gestational sac. And one gorgeous baby measuring in at a chunky 7w4d (I am 7w1day). We also saw the tiny little heart beating away. My doctor only measures the heartbeat if it looks irregular, so we didn't get a rate measurement.

I was discharged from my clinic's care today, and if all goes well with this pregnancy, today will have been my last visit to that office. If our luck continues, our family will be complete after the birth of this baby.

I have to continue with the progesterone injections, estrogen injections, progesterone suppositories, and baby aspirin until April 26th, when I will be 10 weeks. At that point, my arse will get a well-deserved rest. I might actually take it on vacation.

I am due on November 23rd.

And right now, all I'm feeling is incredibly and ridiculously lucky once again.

Where is This 800-Pound Gorilla You Speak Of?

Monday is my ultrasound. If you've been keeping track, I have employed the same method leading up to Monday as I did leading up to my first pregnancy bloodtest, and that is to try not to post, talk, or think about it too much .

Of course it's constantly on my mind, but as I might have mentioned before, this entire process for me is a series of baby steps (no pun intended). Yes, I received three pregnancy bloodtests with doubling beta numbers, so technically I am pregnant. But, I am a "show me the proof" kind of girl. It won't seem real to me until I see a healthy embryo (or more) on the screen.

I've had very little in the way of symptoms. I am wickedly exhausted a lot of the time, to the point where I really should nap when Isabella does, but I don't allow myself to do it. I have had a few random headaches, which is uncommon for me. And I feel really bloated. I've also had a couple times when I've felt nauseous. That's about it.

Believe it or not, I haven't been thinking about the possibility of multiples at all, strange as that sounds. If and when we see one or more roughly 7-week-old embryos, then I'll start to think about it once again. But right now, I'm solely focused on a visual pregnancy confirmation Monday at 10am.

Dog-Train Your Toddler in Three Easy Steps!

Isabella's toddler behavior has always been a bit Sybil-like. When we're out in public, she's usually extremely well-behaved, charming, and obedient. Her behavior at home? Not so great.

Of course, every toddler is prone to meltdowns, defiance, and whinyness. I'm under no delusions that my daughter should be able to sit and read quietly in the corner while mama takes a two-hour nap, or that she eat every vegetable on her highchair tray with nary a grimace.

But when Isabella has a tantrum at home, she has a tantrum, and there is nothing subtle or controlled about it. When she's upset, she starts by taking off running. This is usually accompanied by a long and drawn-out whine.

Then, she either hurls herself onto the couch, throws herself face down on the floor...

...or she contorts her body into the downward-pointing dog yoga position and holds in there for a good long time.

Sometimes, it takes a concerted effort not to laugh at her as her theatrics play out. Perhaps this is how Dakota Fanning got her start?

A few weeks ago, my mom was in town, and I was talking to her about Isabella's volatile little personality. My mom sees the little bugger only about once a month, so she refused to believe me when I told her that her precious princess and only grandchild was hell on wheels when pissed off.

Until she saw the little darling in action.

Then she came up with a fabulous idea.

My mom is a big fan of Cesar Millan, otherwise known as the Dog Whisperer. He has a show on the National Geographic Channel, and his schtick is that he helps dogs with extreme behavioral issues and their humans relate to each other. Through a series of pretty interesting techniques, he "rehabilitates" the dogs and helps their humans learn how best to control them. Bottom line: I think he saves a lot of dogs from being "dropped off" at the nearest animal shelter and then quickly euthanized because dogs with serious behavioral issues generally meet this fate.

One of Cesar's techniques is to quickly stop any bad dog behavior, be it an aggressive stance, growling, lunging, etc. with a quick and sharp "Tsst!" noise. The dogs generally stop and back away. He repeats it as much as necessary, and pretty soon the dogs he's rehabbing become used to hearing the noise as part of their training.

Check out Cesar using the noise with the former Mrs. Charlie Sheen's dogs.

Okay, can you see where this is going?

My mom thought we should try the technique on Isabella the next time she started one of her meltdowns. The next time Isabella started to go berserk, my mom looked her in the eye, made a two-fingered version of The Donald's "You're fired" hand motion, and said "Tsst!"

And guess what?

It stopped her in her tracks.

The whining stopped. The hysterics abated. She simply froze and looked at as if to say "WTF was that??"

And it has worked every time since.

Of course, the little smarty pants has started doing it right back to me, which is nothing short of hilarious. But at this point, I'd rather have a pisser for a kid than one waking me up from a nap on the couch with her fourth tantrum of the day.

The Unsexiest Woman Alive

I've never been a big Sarah Jessica Parker fan. While I loved her in Girls Just Want To Have Fun (with Helen Hunt, no less) in the 80s, I was much more interested in Miranda than Carrie in Sex and the City. For some reason, it's always been hard for me to separate her character's sometimes-grating personality on SATC with her real-life persona, so she's always seemed a bit precious and flighty to me.

That said, I must give the woman credit where credit is due. She's got incredible business savvy, a stable marriage (or so it seems), and a pretty cute kid.

She's also been named by Maxim as the Unsexiest Woman Alive.

I'm not going to reiterate what the bastion of quality journalism said about SJP here. It's sexist, and ugly, and degrading. But I believe their vile "Unsexiest" designation has a more subversive purpose than simply appealing to Maxim's base readership.

It sends the message to women (famous or not) that if you're not deemed beautiful, no matter how successful or intelligent you are, that's as bad an insult as you're ever going to get. Maxim's list (Sandra Oh and Madonna were also on it) was designed to knock down women with thriving careers and reduce them to a collection of body parts to pick apart for fun.

And what does a list like this say to us "average-looking" women? If someone as stylish and attractive as SJP is "ugly," then the rest of us might as well hand in our makeup bags and designer jeans. We're just never going to stack up to what society at large (or at least the editors at Maxim) deems beautiful.

As for me, I wouldn't mind looking as "unsexy" as Sarah Jessica Parker. She's a millionaire many times over, has a smokin' hot bod despite being over 40 and having given birth, hair I would kill for, and a hugely successful career. If that's "unsexy," sign me up now. I would also wager a bet that if a woman who looked like SJP showed an interest in the men who read Maxim, they would hardly go running in the opposite direction.

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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  • "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." -Martin Buber

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