Monday, July 27, 2009

"I Didn't Know I was Pregnant!"

Sadly, one of the harsh realities we faced during our recent family vacation to beautiful Wrightsville Beach was living without our TiVo.

It was during the down time, taking a break from the sun-n-surf, that we experienced life as we once knew it. Gone was our limitless supply of “Mythbusters” and “Seinfeld” reruns. Instead, we were forced to watch regularly scheduled programming -- at its regularly scheduled time. We watched the All-Star Game live, without fast-forwarding or back-8-ing anything. (At one point Amelia asked Dave who Albert “Poo-holes” was.) Did you know a baseball game can last FOUR HOURS?

However, there are other things that absolutely should NOT last four hours, according to the Cialis ads we were forced to watch between every inning.

We learned that people are tuning in with enough regularity to keep shows like “18 and Counting” (about a woman who, in my opinion, could stand to give her vagina a break for a while) on the air.

But it was the show “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” that really grabbed our attention.

In IDKIWP, women spend half an hour recounting the time they thought they had gas, only to fart out a 7-pound, 7-ounce surprise.

Having given birth four times myself, I could not imagine nine months of expanding waistline, swollen ankles, and an unquenchable craving for Mexican food without questioning the cause. And passing a baby is NOTHING like passing---

“I wonder if my patient will be on,” Dave casually tossed out from behind his iPhone in the living room of our condo-by-the-beach, breaking my train of thought.

Ah yes, that poor woman…

Within the last 15 years, in one of the four places he has trained and/or practiced medicine, a woman came into Dave’s office complaining of gas pain, weight gain, and constipation. She feared a tumor.

Obviously, he asked if she might be pregnant.

“No, absolutely not,” she told him. “I’ve taken three tests in the last couple of months, and they all came back negative. And my periods are pretty regular,” she added.

To be fair to her, she was a bit overweight and would not have noticed a protruding belly as much as Nicole Richie probably did. To be fair to Dave, she was a bit overweight and had just assured him she was not pregnant.

Dr. Dave asked her lie down for her exam. He listened to her abdomen through his stethoscope and heard some rather odd sounds. He pressed around her large intestine and did, indeed, feel a mass he felt should be x-rayed.

While she sat in the exam room waiting for the results of her x-ray, nervous about her potential tumor, Dave stood outside her door, looking at the x-ray film that clearly showed a growth, but not the kind he was expecting. This one looked to be about 6-7 pounds, something she had likely had for 8-8 ½ months, with legs and arms, and a head engaged in her pelvis.

Yep, the tumor was a baby.

“How did you tell her?” I recall asking Dave that night at dinner.

“I told her that the good news was she did not have a tumor,” he said, “and that the condition was temporary.”

He had explained to her that the x-ray showed she was pregnant, pretty far along, and that she was welcome to sit in the exam room to collect herself for as long as she needed.

“Is she still sitting there?” I had asked as we cleared the dinner table.

“No, we got her an appointment with an OB. She should deliver within a few weeks. Maybe two.”

And now this story, and countless others that cannot possibly vary a whole lot, are available for viewing on Discovery Health.

Which gives me hope that one day, someone will pick up my idea for a reality show involving regular women in a room with a hot pan of brownies, a selection of designer swimsuits, Megan Fox, and duct tape.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Boarding Pass Out

“Are you okay with being seated in the emergency exit row?” the ticket attendant asks me as I board our plane home from our week-long family vacation.

Overcome with joy at the prospect of not only sitting four rows behind my travel-weary children and husband where I am free to finish my book and eat all the leftover peanut M&M’s in peace, but in a row with actual LEG ROOM, I consider French-kissing the man as a sign of gratitude.

But instead I just smile.

“Mm-hmm, I’ll be just fine.”

After helping Dave get the kids into their seats, I continue on my way to spacious row 14 aboard our two-hour leg back to Midwest College Town after a glorious, heavenly week at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where I managed to keep from flashing the beach this time.

(Though I came close. And it would have been ugly. Bikini bottoms were not made for body-surfing. Fortunately I figured that out and corrected the malfunction before I stood up.)

I am in an aisle seat, with the window seat to my right unoccupied. Across the aisle to my left, I notice two college-aged guys wearing biceps, er, I mean, color-coordinating ball caps.

The flight attendant approaches.

“Hmph. Lot of kids on this plane. School must be out or something."

On a Saturday in July? Ya' think?

"Are ya’ll okay with the emergency row duties?”

We apparently stare at her blankly.

“All you really have to be able to do is be over 18 and understand English,” she smiles.

We nod. I can’t figure out how old she is. The legs say 30, but the face says 72.

“In the event of an emergency landing…” she begins.

Oooh, a scrunchie, I notice as she turns her head to point to the door. Stacy and Clinton would have fit if they saw this.

“… remove the door… “

Deceptively young? Thirty-nine, maybe?

“… and just throw that door right out of the plane… “

I look at the door, and I look at the guy across the aisle.

In the event of an emergency landing, I will beg him to take the door off its hinges and throw it right out of the plane for me.

She is easily 54.

“…easier to get the door off if you keep your seatbelt on… “

No, she’s only 42. Maybe 43. And in need of a makeover. And there’s no way I’m asking that guy to sit next to me throughout this flight so he can stay strapped in his seat and throw the airplane door for me. I might not be qualified for this row after all.

“… health problems, back problems, neurological disorders… “

But if I tell her I’m not sure I can remove the door and throw it out of the plane myself, she might make me change rows. I could lose everything. My alone time, leg room, free reign of both arm rests.

“… so let me know now if you don’t think you can… “

What if I’m placed between the Bicker Sisters (my lovely daughters) again? I haven’t moved my purple bracelet in three whole days, I can’t risk breaking that kind of streak by spending two more hours stuck on a plane with my own children! And what if the bald guy in front of me from the last flight --- who spent most of it reclined into my lap, leaving me to wonder if he expected a full facial and a shoulder massage (though I would really have rather played connect-the-dots with the freckles on his scalp, given a Sharpie and the opportunity to slip him an Ambien) --- is in the seat in front of my new one, waiting for that cucumber eye treatment we never quite got to? And what if, because of the switch, my dear and loving husband gets put in macho man row just because he can bench press an airplane door, leaving me to fend for myself in row 10??

And she has got to be pushing 65.

I feign confidence, smile, and decide to just bank on this plane landing on three wheels on a runway as planned.


(Scroll down for July 13th's story, "My Attempt at a Complaint-Free World")

Thank you to Judi at Lines Composed... and JenJen at Jen's Voices for this Major Award!

I am supposed to list ten things about myself that no one knows and then tag ten bloggers with this award. But I think everyone I follow has already received this one! I have some great links to the right, however, to a few of my favorites and tag anyone reading to partake if desired.

As for the ten things about me that no one knows, that is impossible, as I am one of the least private people I know. So, instead, I will list for you some of my rules I live by:

  • Do not buy clothes that require ironing unless you think there's a chance you might wear it on "Oprah"
  • Do not buy any home decor you don't love enough to dust
  • Always keep emergency feminine supplies in your car (ladies and ultra-sensitive men only)
  • Ice cream belongs in the dairy food group
  • Video games make children highly uninteresting
  • Uninteresting children are at risk for becoming uninteresting adults
  • Halloween costumes are for grown-ups too
  • I should not be allowed to use glue guns without proper supervision
  • Technically, anyone can karaoke
  • Obviously, not everyone should
Have a great week!

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Attempt at a Complaint-Free World

In an effort to be more like Jesus and/or Buddha, I decided to take part in a movement called “A Complaint-Free World.”

This experiment is the brainchild of Kansas City pastor, Will Bowen, who challenged his congregation to give up complaining for 21 straight days. Participants are asked to wear a purple rubber bracelet. Each time they complain about something, they are instructed to move the bracelet to the opposite wrist to help them become aware of their habits. Eventually they will stop complaining for an entire day. Supposedly they will even be able to keep it up for 21 whole days in a row.

Pastor Bowen has nearly 6 million bracelets in circulation world-wide.

I have kept a diary of my progress and, one day, hope to join the ranks of recovered complainers…

Bracelet on, positive attitude intact, I take the kids to the pool. Whining ensues, I stand strong. Pre-teen kid belly-flops right in front of me, I give thanks for the cooling sprinkles of water that now run the words on my magazine. Snack bar’s smoothie machine breaks down.

Move the bracelet.

Bracelet on, positive attitude intact, I drive to Target. Behind a 100-year-old woman. Ten below the speed limit. With her blinker on. And I simply say a silent prayer that no one in her path dies. Bracelet stays.

All of Target’s checkout lines are four people deep. I take the time to play “I Spy,” looking for a magazine that doesn’t feature Michael Jackson. (Martha Stewart Living, btw) Bracelet stays.

Get home from Target to find I left two gallons of milk in the bottom of the cart in the parking lot.

Move the bracelet.

Bracelet on, positive attitude intact, I flip on the TV to watch Paula Deen turn a pound of butter into an edible orgasm, when all of a sudden, “We interrupt regular programming to bring you the memorial circus – er – service for the not-so-newly-departed Michael Jackson?”

Move the bracelet. Repeatedly.

(And I can’t help but wonder if, somewhere, Pastor Bowen is doing the same.)

Start my period.

Move the bracelet.

Bracelet on, positive attitude in pieces, I realize the past four days had more to do with PMS and decide to take on the challenge with a renewed state of mind.

Unfortunately, this is not the best day to try on cute new bikini for upcoming vacation.

Move the bracelet.

And go back to Target for an iced grande mocha latte with a side of brownie slab. And milk.

Bracelet on, feeling balanced and rational again, I take the kids on a long hike in the woods where I ingest no fewer than seven spiderwebs and spot two live snakes. With all my might, I give thanks for the beauty of nature, and the bracelet stays.

We come home to eight loads of laundry I had yet to fold and a living room floor covered in Styrofoam peanuts I had yet to hide from the dog. I give thanks for the life in our home, and the bracelet stays.

I tuck our kids in that night and get ready for bed, landing on a toilet rim, as the seat has been left up. For the 254th time.

Move the bracelet. Which, in my opinion, is better than flushing it.

Opt for a day of rest, just like Buddha. Leave the bracelet on my nightstand and enjoy a day free of complaints.

Obviously the bracelet must be the problem, as I hardly ever complained before it showed up.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Tree Grows in College Town

People, I have been patiently waiting EIGHT long weeks to share this one.

And before I go any further, I must begin by saying that my Dear and Loving Husband possesses many skills and great qualities. He is a fantastic husband and baby daddy. His dedication to learning to play guitar is inspiring. He can sew up bloody body parts without gagging. And he really is quite the gardener.

In spite of the following story.

We have a large window in the front of our house, between our garage and our front porch, with some shrubs and flowers and mulch, very suburban-esque and rather inviting.

But something was missing. It needed some height. Something to provide just a bit of privacy, but with style. Pizzazz. A little ornamental foliage to stand out among our otherwise khaki neighborhood.

Dave decided upon a Japanese maple. I agreed without hesitation as, so far, he had batted nearly a thousand with his lawn, garden, and landscaping choices.

(Except for the cottonwood he tried to plant in the front yard last fall. He dug it up from along a bike path early one morning and brought it home. It hung on to one dead leaf all winter long and, despite Dave’s pleading and begging, never turned green again.)

(But we don’t talk about that.)

As he began his search for the perfect Japanese maple, however, Dave found they could run hundreds of dollars more than he had hoped to spend on this tree that would greet visitors and passers-by alike, providing all who view our house with a first impression of its inhabitants. He had all but given up hope, when he came across a website selling trees – root, trunk, branches, and leaves – online for only forty bucks.

Did I mention online bargain-shopping is another one of his many, many strengths?

I was the only one home when the delivery was made. The FedEx guy came to the door sporting the same cross-eyed grin I got when he brought me my Miracle(-less) Suit last year and holding a box that appeared to contain a golf club.

“Good luck,” he chuckled.

Too afraid to open it, for fear my two brown thumbs would rub off on it, the boxed-up Japanese maple waited for Dave to free it and plant it later that evening.

The day rolled on like normal, picked kids up from school, broke up a few fights, made dinner, begged people to eat it, and cleaned up the kitchen while watching the “Idol” finale. (Adam was totally robbed)

It was during this time that Dave unpackaged and silently planted his tree.

“Well, they said to give it six weeks to really fill out,” he told me as I walked to the window to see it.

I stifled a laugh the best I could.

“How much did you pay for this?” I asked, looking at the supposed Japanese maple. I had never seen anything like this. Planted in the ground. By a grown up.

“Six weeks,” he replied, “not another word for six weeks, please.”

So I have kept this little gem to myself.

Until today.





This is what grows (I use “grows” loosely, mind you) in front of our house today.

Do not confuse the “tree” with the dowel rod holding it semi-upright.

Dave suggested we give it time.

My mom suggested we give it Viagra.