29 (Again)

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Today I turned 29.

Weeks pregnant, that is.

I'm actually turning 34 in 27 days.

34. That's a real adult age. That's one year away from 35, AKA The Deadline. The date I've been working against since I started stalking husbands at age 15.

35 was the dark looming cloud that hung over the edge of the Earth. The only people who knew what lurks on the other side were all old.

If I wasn't married with a couple of kids by the time I was 35 I might as well go ahead and start collecting cats and teaching them how to wipe my 90-year-old ass. Lucky for me that privilege now falls on Ellie's shoulders.

But now that I'm here it's actually not so bad. I have all my friends here with me. And, truth be told, I don't feel any different than when I was 25. The main differences are that I make out with the same guy every night and there's a baby pool in my back yard.

In fact, I think 34 is the new 44. Wow - 44. Yeesh.

Sweet Summertime

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Me: Oh, hi Ellie. Would you like some of my peach?
Ellie: (Yanking said peach out of my hand) Nice peach. Get your own.


I made the mistake of leaning in for a bite and almost lost my nose. All I could do was sit helplessly while my beloved juicy peach was devoured. To the pit.

Of course the appropriate way to take care of summertime peach aftermath is a quick dip in the baby pool.

I love summer. Almost as much as I love peaches.



Chip Off The Ole Block

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On Friday Ellie and I had lunch with Heidi, my friend from high school. There are only four such people in the world: Heidi, Jenny, Sallie and Megan.

Click here to find out why.

See?

We decided to meet at a Mexican restaurant, for obvious reasons. Click here for the obvious reasons.

See?

We began reminiscing about old times, which usually includes discussing our days of scrubbing toilets at McDonald's and afterward driving around in her truck smelling like McFries stalking the cars of the boys we liked, leaving prank notes on their windshield.

Anyhoo, like clockwork, after about 30 seconds Ellie demanded that her presence be appreciated and warned me that if we didn't immediately start paying attention to her she would tell everyone in the restaurant that I once forgot to buckle her car seat. Ok, it actually happened like 10 times.

"Can she have a chip?" Heidi asked.

Hummph, PUH-LEEZE. Can she have a chip... I thought, rolling my eyes. Just wait until you see what my amazingly advanced daughter can do. Why don't you throw her a REAL challenge and pull some nickles out of your purse? In fact, hang on a moment while I stand on my chair and make a quick announcement:

CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! PREPARE TO BE AMAZED! COME ONE COME ALL AND WITNESS THE AMAZING ELLIE AND HER ADVANCED TABLE FOOD EATING ABILITIES! AT ONLY 13 MONTHS SHE WILL EAT THIS CHIP, ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT FOODS TO CONSUME WITHOUT TEETH, BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES! AFTERWARD YOU MAY BOW DOWN AND PAY HOMAGE TO MY MAGNIFICENT MOTHERING SKILLS BY PLACING BURRITOS AT MY FEET!

The chip immediately went from her fat little hand into her greedy mouth, and Heidi and I resumed our discussion.

Then I heard it - something that sounded like an alligator being dragged across gravel coming from Ellie's direction. I looked at her and my stomach dropped - she was choking. At least I was 80% sure she was choking.

Now, I will say that I have imagined myself in this, and countless other scenarios where I come out looking like the hero, hundreds of times.

Other scenarios include rescuing an elderly driver from a Little Debbie truck that just crashed into the median and is about to catch on fire, and afterward I am rightfully compensated for my bravery with a lifetime supply of Zebra Cakes.

My mind raced back to our infant CPR class, where we sat in the same chair for four hours looking at a slide show of horrible baby scenarios and even got to practice expelling an invisible object from a plastic baby. A plastic baby that is nothing like the 24-pound, squirmy, clingy, frantic baby making a noise like an alligator being dragged across gravel who has somehow finagled her leg in a pretzel-like fashion through the side of this God damned high chair.

Finally the chair released her leg and I lifted her out and gave her three firm thwacks on the back, praying the chip would just land on the floor. But when I turned her over the chip was nowhere to be seen and Ellie was just looking at me very confused and still making the alligator on gravel sound.

The fact that my efforts were not working immediately sent me into REAL panic, whereby I tossed her across the table like a hot potato to Heidi and screamed "DO SOMETHING DO SOMETHING DO SOMETHING!"

Heidi looked at her and said, "Umm, I think she's brea..."

To which I quickly cut in and screamed "YOU'RE WRONG! YOU'RE WRONG! SHE'S NOT BREATHING SHE'S NOT BREATHING DO SOMETHING!"

So there we were, in the middle of the Mexican restaurant, me holding Ellie's feet while thwacking her back, Heidi with both hands in her mouth, and Ellie wondering why we're trying to take away her precious chip.

All this time there was a flurry of people in my face, telling me what to do. The fat woman at the table across the room screaming something, the waiter who barely spoke English in my face saying "ewater?" It was all a blur... a panicked, messy, dizzy, sweaty, frantic blur.

Finally either the chip dislodged or Ellie decided she had enough and started crying, to which everyone in the restaurant started applauding, making me painfully aware that what we had just done was already racking up hits on YouTube. Ellie spent the rest of the meal (you didn't think this was enough to abandon the burrito I had coming, did you?) clinging to my shoulders, crying into my neck, wondering why her chip had betrayed her.

As I sat there, eating my burrito, shaking, listening to her judgemental sobs, aware of the dozens of eyes fixated on our table, all I could think was that this was not how this was supposed to go down.

I want a do-over.

90 Seconds of Awesome

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I really try not to overload you with cute pictures of my daughter and tell you every detail of her life, but I took this video yesterday and can't stop watching it.

If I had any reservations about two in 16 months they are gone.

Bring on baby #2. And 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7.

video

365,684

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I'm going to make a confession. Ever since Ellie has been born I've been doing something that I'm pretty sure falls outside the realm of what most people consider normal behavior. Actually, there are a lot of things I do that fall outside that realm. Examples include "Breakfast Cabaret" and "Nothing But Cheese Tuesdays".

But this is a bad kind of not normal that has been terrorizing me for the past year and it seems to be getting worse. Ok, here goes... please read without judging.

Every time I see a dangerous or potentially harmful situation, my brain immediately puts Ellie in the middle of that situation and I have a mini panic attack.

For instance.

Watching Mad Men, when Don Draper's Dad got kicked in the face by a horse I cried myself to sleep because I couldn't get the image of Ellie being kicked in the face by a horse out of my mind. What if we're at a petting zoo and I'm not paying attention? Or God forbid she becomes a vet?

Every day when we walk to the pool we have to cross over a small lagoon and I am terrified by the thought of her falling out the back of the wagon, rolling 10 feet across the bridge and into the lagoon. I almost have to literally shake the thought out of my head.

And last night I noticed our oven has a self-cleaning feature. I know, I know - I don't cook but the ONE time I used it some cheese dripped off of the frozen pizza and who wouldn't choose the self-cleaning feature over taking the rack out and wiping it up with a paper towel? But the door locked and it got really hot, and all I could think of was what if burglars broke into the house and put Ellie into the oven and turned it on and I couldn't open it to get her out?!! Aaaahhh!

With every word I type I can feel my inner panic ticking up a notch, as well as the voices in your heads acknowledging that this is indeed NOT normal and clicking "unfollow".

Is she ever going to get kicked in the face by a horse? Probably not. And I've got her strapped in so tight to that wagon that her toenails are purple by the time we leave the driveway. And, as my Mother-In-Law found out the hard way, I keep the house alarm on at all times. Burglars would have about 20 seconds before the police show up. Not really enough time to grab a baby and put her in the oven, especially when I unleash my mad Karate Kid leg sweeping skills.

Anyhoo, to put it in a nutshell, I am petrified something bad is going to happen to Ellie. And I know that any of the above scenarios, or the thousands of others that rattle around in my head, have very slim possibilities of coming to fruition.

But what does have a real possibility of coming to fruition? That we will careen off the highway and perish in a ball of flames because I can't wait five minutes to return an email about a weekend trip to the lake that's happening in two months.

In my previous life at the advertising agency, I looked at the time in my car as a great way to catch up on emails and texts. I justified it as multi-tasking but I can't tell you how many times I would look up and be in a different lane. Or crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

I knew it was dangerous, so I promised myself that when I got pregnant I would ban texting and emailing from the driver's seat altogether. But that little ding of a new message is like a drug, and when I got my Blackberry a couple of years ago it was like I was upgrading from pot to heroin. I would tell myself that it might be an emergency, like if a family member died or Nick was getting attacked by wild dogs a text would be an appropriate form of communication.

Texts and emails are never emergencies.

Then, I promised myself that once the baby came I was really going to do it - no texting, emailing or dialing while I was driving. But I'm telling you, it's like a drug and like any good addict I made excuses until I relapsed. And actually with a baby it's gotten worse, because I'll do things like the Jason Bourne backwards-facing front seat to back seat nose swipe, or search the backseat for a toy that she's dropped and crying for.

My wake-up call came yesterday when I was dialing the phone and looked up and had to swerve because I almost drove into the lagoon that I was so afraid of Ellie falling into from her wagon.

At that moment I decided that I'm going to make my car a distraction-free zone. That's it - I'm going cold turkey. I even took Oprah's No Phone Zone pledge online - I'm number 365,684.

Here's my promise, to myself and my family.

I promise NOT to do the following from the driver's seat while the car is in drive:

Take my cell phone out of my purse for any reason, including to text, email, dial or map my location
Turn around and face the back seat, unless I hear choking or mooing
Gawk at billboards, accidents, prostitutes or anything else interesting on the side of the road
Dig in the console for a CD, even if I'm having a massive Snoop craving
Eat anything that requires a utensil
Balance my checkbook

Yes, I have done each of these things.

And, you know how I feel about people pushing their causes and beliefs onto other people, but just know that if you hit my car while texting then I will blog about you until my fingers fall off.

If you would like to take Oprah's pledge with me, click here.

And rest assured there's one more alert driver on the road.

Precious MOMents

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So I was extremely nervous for my Mom to read my blog post from Monday, where I offered nothing but a completely accurate recap of our weekend trip to Planet Ozark. After 24 hours of sweating it out because I didn't get a call back, I finally had the chance to speak with her about it:

Me: Sooo... did you read my blog on Monday?
My Mom: No - I've been so busy - we've had Khale (my nephew/her Grandson) all day and he's been playing and...
Me: (cutting in) Ok... well you have to promise you won't get mad when you read it.
My Mom: What! Why? WHAT DID YOU WRITE? HANNAH! WHAT DID YOU DO?
Me: Well, everything I said was completely accurate.
My Mom: Oh my God... I am going to drive up there and kill you. That's it. I'm starting my own blog.

After giving this some thought, I actually think that this sounds like a great idea to help my Mom kill some free time and I've taken it upon myself to provide her with some thought starters:

Salza, and why it's fine to feed to 16-week-old babies.

What's wrong with the way I say salza? Isn't that how you say it?

Why do all the good kids grow up and move so far away and the other ones move back into my guest room?

1002 casseroles

Trust me - I'm a doctor. No, I didn't go to medical school, but I raised three kids. It's the same thing.

Really? I can put pictures from my camera onto my computer?

Only jerks live in the city.

Why aren't my kids pregnant yet? I know they're still in the hospital from the other one, but they have a private room, don't they?


Just kidding, Mom - you are awesome and because of you I laugh instead of cry when the voices in my head tell me I need to iron my curtains.

Just remember that you created this monster.

Cringe

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Recently I've been spending quite a bit of time perusing the hundreds of millions of other blogs out there and yesterday I stumbled across the most horrible thing I've ever read. It's from a woman named Sarah Brown who writes the blog Que Sera Sera. She hosts a night in New York and London called Cringe, where adults stand up in front of audiences and read passages from their high school diaries.

But I thought, "What the Hell?" and decided to share some noteworthy highlights from my high school diary with you.

Sike.

Four words in and your eyeballs would claw themselves out of their sockets, run outside and jump into your BBQ pit and light themselves on fire.

However, reading through my diary does make me wish that I could go back in time and have a little chat with myself at that age. If I had to put it in a nutshell, here are the five things I would tell my 15-year-old self:

1. Pay better attention in history class. In the future there will be many times you'll have to look a lot smarter than you really are and people are SUPER impressed with all that historic shit.

2. Prom is SO overrated. I can't stress this enough. In fact, just skip the prom and read some of them there history books.

3. Put. Down. The. Scissors. For christ's sake. Your head looks like a mushroom.


4. You know that body of yours? The one you're always crying and complaining about? Well, you're right - it's not great. But it could be worse. And it will be. In 15 years everything will be about 3 inches lower than it is right now. But the good news is that your skin will eventually clear up.

5. Other than that, you're doing a really good job. This is as bad as it gets. And don't worry - your prince will come, and so will your princesses. It will just be a little later than you think so don't panic.

My Little Gnome-Mad

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Being a Full-Time Mom in the summer is a whole different ballgame than being a Full-Time Mom in the winter. The fact that when we wake up and there's not 50 feet of snow barricading the door shut or wind chill of -50 slapping our faces means that we have an exciting world of opportunity waiting for us to explore right outside our doorstep. And believe it or not, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know St. Louis in a whole new way.

And by whole new way I mean that I was unaware that there was anything in this city besides buildings that serve food and delicious liquids that make me want to take off my shirt and sing in front of an audience of complete strangers.

It's just the two of us explorers which is nice, because if either one of us have a meltdown we have a mutual understanding that we just pack it up and leave. Or pack it up and go to Ted Drewes.

However, the side effect of our dynamic duo is that there's no one to take the pictures to commemorate our trip, so I have a bunch of pictures reminiscent of the traveling gnome phenomenon.

This is where Baby #2 is going to come in handy in September. I'll teach her how to point and click in no time.

Here's just a few shots from our recent adventures, and yes, she's crying in the last one because the custard is gone. It was an extra large.

Oh, and for more fun stuff to do with your kids in St. Louis, just click here.








Beware the Locals

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This weekend my family and I celebrated two wonderfully momentous occasions:

1. The birth of my beautiful nephew, Tucker, and
2. The subsequent slow but sure deflation of the life rafts attached to the kankles my sister has been walking around on for the past 9 months

She had the baby in Columbia, MO, so that meant an overnight stay for Nick, Ellie and me at my parents' house on Planet Ozark.

While I'm sure most of you have visited Planet Ozark at one time or another for a little fun and water recreation, I actually have the pleasure of being related by either blood or marriage (or, thanks to my Grandparents who happen to be first cousins, in many cases both) to several of its inhabitants.

Over the past 16 years I've done my best to shake my roots and it's now nearly impossible to tell just by looking at me that I have any genetic connection to Planet Ozark. However, the one birthmark that I cannot scrub off is my middle name - Jo. It's a dead give-a-way so I keep all diplomas locked away safely out of public sight.

For those who have not had the pleasure of visiting Planet Ozark, it is a beautifully peaceful and serene habitat teeming with wildlife species not found in the city, including the Toothless Fatty Stink. You can tell the females from the males because the females have dark moustaches.

Other differences you may notice are that the Wal-Mart accepts rabbit pelts as legal tender and you can have your welfare check directly deposited into your meth dealer's bank account to save time and hassle.

Anyhoo, as most conversations do our after-dinner family discourse turned to who has shot what since we saw each other last, and the mandatory viewing of my Dad's newest 4-legged friend on his Wall 'o Death.

There are certain topics that I've deemed off-limits on this blog, including religion, politics and Keanu Reeves movies. But in this case I just have to lay a little groundwork by telling you that everyone in my family graduated from the George Bush school of self defense - "Rifles for Everyone!" and I attended the school of watching the Karate Kid enough times to believe that a leg sweep will disable even the most skilled and hardened criminal.

Though I will admit that this theory has been disproved several times when Nick is hogging the bathroom mirror.

So the conversation continued:

My Sister: I'm excited because one of my police friends gave me his gun to keep in my house in case there's an intruder!

Me: Ummm, I really don't think it's a great idea for you to have a gun not registered in your name in your house. In fact I think if you actually shoot someone with it then legally speaking all bets are off.

My Mom: No, that's the best way because there's no paper trail! You can just shoot someone, throw the gun in the lake and then call the police and tell them that you have no idea how that dead person got in your living room and there's no way to trace the gun back to you!

Monday, June 21 2010

Dear head nurse working at Bothwell Hospital the night of July 26, 1976:

The jig is up. I don't care about the reason for the baby mix-up at the hospital - I'm sure you were overly tired, maybe you slipped a little whiskey in your coffee or maybe you decided to sample some of the wonderful pain pills. Whatever. No one blames you. It was a different time back then. I don't care and I won't tell.

I know that my real family is probably sitting around an environmentally friendly fire somewhere, sipping Bourbon and discussing the Age of Enlightenment and its effect on 18th century literature, how important it is to ensure cultural diversity in the workplace, their upcoming trip to Europe and how much they love our President. And all the while they're wondering why their daughter is wearing nothing but deer antlers and a Rebel flag.

Please. Make it right.

Sincerely,

-Eleanor (that's what I'm pretty sure my real parents would have named me).

Black Eyed Hannah

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This morning I returned home from the gym (yes, I still go to the gym every morning, but only to combat my five a day Frosty habit) to find this cute little bundle of Black Eyed Susans outside my garage.

I'll admit it - I had to browse through a lot of Google images before I identified what brand they were.

I immediately recognized them as a part of the bunch that was mercifully transplanted from my yard into my neighbors' a few weeks back. Except now they actually had colors and petals and leaves and weren't feeling around the yard for a stray razor blade to end their miserable flower lives.

I'm still trying to pinpoint the identity of the clear, odorless liquid in the bottom of the milk carton that seems to be their life source.

Initially I was extremely touched by what seemed to be a friendly and innocent gesture from our neighbors, but now I recognize it for what it really is. An undercover operation to infiltrate the yard perimeter and rescue the tomato plant.



My Sister's Keeper

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Dear God,

Yes, this is the same girl who used to pray that her little sister would be kidnapped in the night by a gang of gypsies never to be heard from again.

Well, things change and I like her now.

And you're going to either have to put her into labor soon or burn down every Chinese buffet in the state because she's on the verge of exploding.

Sincerely,

Hannah

To C Or Not To C

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Being pregnant is a little bit like sitting on death row. Every morning you wake up, take a nice stretch and look at the cute little birdie singing her morning song on the tree branch outside your window.

Then, out of nowhere you suddenly remember that you're one day closer to the dreaded inevitable... the day you will have to expel an 8 pound human being from your body. And at that moment the little birdie turns around, looks at you and says, "You're fucked!" and flaps away.

The day is coming and there's nothing you can do about it. This thought haunts you every hour of every day until it actually happens.

At the grocery store: Holy shit - that huge turkey is the same size as the human being that I'm going to have to expel from my body.

Out with your friends: Sweet Jesus - this bowling ball is the same size as the human being that I'm going to have to expel from my body.

Watching TV: Somebody put a bullet in my brain - Mini Me is the same size as the human being that I'm going to have to expel from my body.

FYI - other things around my house that weigh 8 pounds:
Ellie's stroller
Our flatscreen TV
Load of laundry
Five power drills
Eight Double Gulps
Magazine rack full of magazines
Bundle of firewood
Footstool

And there is no nice way to expel a footstool from your body.

With Ellie I had a C-section, which, after 30 hours of labor and months of waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, scratching at the invisible bugs on my arms brought there from the mind numbing obsessive thoughts of the disasterous life-long effects on my Nether Lands from expelling an 8 pound baby from my body, did not seem like such a bad option.

And it wasn't until the pain medicine wore off.

Once the pain medicine wore off I was certain I would never be able to stand, walk, cough, drive, laugh, sneeze, sleep, move, pee, poop, think, blink or eat peanut brittle again. I felt like if I even breathed too hard I would anger the stitches and they would break apart and the huge gaping hole in my abdomen would start screaming German profanities at me.

I would live out my days sitting catatonic in my Craftmatic adjustable bed holding a pillow against my stomach watching Golden Girls on a full bed pan begging Nick to just pull the trigger.

But consider the alternative. My friend "M" has done it both ways and swears that a vaginal delivery is the way to go. But then two weeks after her last son was born her uterus fell out while she was taking a shower. Apparently it's not uncommon, and it's caused by something called "purple pushing".

Ooooookkkkkk. I don't know about you, but I don't think those two words belong in a sentence together at all. However, when my brain sees them sitting side by side like that, holding hands and leering at me like those creepy little twins in The Shining, my mind starts to shut down and let my alternate personality Ted the construction worker take the wheel for a few days.

She's very sensitive about her uterus falling out so I haven't asked her if she's changed her vote.

I consider myself lucky that for the most part my Nether Lands have remained trauma-free, save for the time when I was 15 and I technically lost my virginity by attempting a scissor kick off the high dive at Peony Park. Had it been Medieval times my stock would have plummeted after that ill-fated afternoon.

IF we ever decided to have sex again (and that's a big IF) I would have to hand Nick a little hand drawn map describing what has been moved to where.

"Oh no, that's not a rhinoceros made out of silly putty. I think that's actually attached to my body. And I think you're supposed to do something with it."

For weeks I've been thinking about an "Option C", and I brought this up yesterday at lunch with my friends Dan and Jeff, who immediately came up with a very viable option, as if it was something they too had been concerned with for quite some time.

The uterine zipper.

Once the baby is ready to come out I would simply lay on the operating table and my doctor would unzip my stomach, pull out the baby, and then -zip- done. When my uterus isn't being used to grow babies (some day I promise there will come a time when it will be baby-free) I could use it as a handy pouch to store sandwiches and pencils and combs and stuff.

The uterine pouch would work especially well for storing warm lunches, like roast beef and pot pies.

Problem solved. I'm mentioning it to J.T. (my trusty OB) at my 28 week appointment on Monday. I believe this may be the start of the birthing revolution.

Love Letters

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Dear Ellie,

In honor of your turning 13 months old, here are just 13 of the 1,000,000 things that I love about you.

I love that:

A. You sometimes grab the sippie cup with your teeth and give your head a quick and vigorous shake back and forth when you drink it, like you did with your bottle when you were a baby.
B. You're not into hugging and kissing, but you'll give me a nice pat on the shoulder every now and then. You've definitely inherited my need for personal space.
C. I can wet, gel, pomade, hair spray, mash, stomp, steam roll and lick your hair down but when it dries it still stands straight up on top, as if you were just struck by lightning.
D. You squeal and wave your arms whenever you see a dog or cat, but then immediately look up at me to make sure I saw it too.
E. The closed-mouth smirk you have that reminds me of your Dad that gives him away when he's up to no good.
F. Your crib could be burning down around you, but if I were to sing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" you would still put your fingers together and try to do the motions.
G. You are quick to applaud yourself for a job well done.
H. The little white whisker that keeps growing out of your cheek, although I've plucked it like 1,000 times.
I. You look so grown up with a pair of tennis shoes on, but you look so little when you sleep.
J. You are the only one who always laughs at my jokes.
K. The look on your face when you hear the garage door opening and know that your Dad is about to walk in.
L. You can eat an entire Chipotle burrito, though the aftermath is wretched.
M. And finally, I love how patient you've been with me over the past year, and that you've stuck with me through mistake after mistake as I learn how to be a Mom. Your little sister definitely owes you a beer in about 20 years.

Nick's Skids

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So lately I've been feeling a tiny bit guilty because Nick's friends have been reading my blog and subsequently bombarding him with phone calls asking how I have room in my purse for both my wallet and his balls.

Admittedly, perusing back through my posts I realize that I maybe painted an unfair picture of the Force that is Nicholas, so today I am graciously stepping aside and offering him the stage to issue a rebuttal.

Before I hand over the mic, though, I would like to say just one thing to hopefully redeem myself as I dust off his testicles and attempt to sew them back on.

While he certainly has his quirks that I have no problem exploiting for your entertainment, Nick inspires me every day to see the world through a lens of kindness and compassion, and not a day has gone by in the last 6 years that my stomach has not hurt as a result of the contagious laughter that follows him everywhere. He has also held on tight and ridden the rails of this crazy train o' hormones that I've been driving for the past two years.

Choo choo!

So, here it is, unedited and unadulterated... Nick.

Recently, I had been told by some of our friends that Hannah is a very good writer, and that her blog can be “so funny.” The statement is always followed immediately by provocative questions about what I did in bed the other night. Whatʼs worse, is that they all have this sh+t-@#ting grin on their faces, like they know how dependent I am on the motion of the ocean. Of course, we are always out at a bar, or a party, where I have no access to the Internet to look into this sudden mass-opinion that I am some kind of callous, color-blind, selfish masochist. So, I smile and take it; like a color-blind heel.

I was pleased that Hannah decided to do this whole web-site, blogging thing. She enjoys writing, babies, and has a masters in marketing, so this was like a perfect marriage of all her hobbies and skills. Most of all, it keeps her busy. The busier she is, the less likely she is to take Elliot to the emergency room for every cough, and the more likely I am to get though the door after work without being assaulted for news from the outside world. I did like the attention, but she would tear at my clothes. The desperation was scary, and a little contagious. Now she barely notices that I walked in the door; there is no enormous guilt trip waiting at home for me every time Iʼm 5 minutes late from work. The problem was solved. Until I read what she has been writing.

I would describe myself to be a cross between Pierce Brosnan and Omar Epps. This, however, is not the online persona I am projecting. She had asked if she could put some of the stuff I have said before in the blog, and I have nothing to hide, so I said “Sure, no problem whatsoever. Tell the world the story of me so they may be jealous.” What she has done is to twist the facts to improve her role as the selfless and devoted heroin. Yes, I am color-blind. And yes, I did dress our child to look like a Saint Charles Hoosier; however, I did dress her. How many dads out there can say they did that? And I did consider coercing her to walk at 14 months with some aggressive maneuvers; but I was interested in her development.

This whole parenting thing wasnʼt supposed to be easy. When Elliot was born, I was told by every single dad out there, all of whom could probably care less if their daughter walked or wore clothes, that “your life will never be the same.” It wasnʼt what they said, but how they said it, as if they knew how important it is to me that the size of the wand matters far less than the magician who makes the magic. Well, it turns out that life actually has changed.

I just think of every way that we had spent our free-time prior to having children. We would go to the pool, lounge in a chair for hours, maybe have some beer. Weʼd meet friends for dinner, stay for drinks at the next place afterward. Maybe Iʼd sleep in tomorrow. Now, we can still go to the pool, but after just 2 minutes the first visit I discovered with horror that the toddler wants off the lounge chair, and I had to go with her. An hour later, I was in the pool longer than I have been in the past ten years. I can also go out for dinner and a drink, but my priority moves from trading jokes and insults, to steadily shoveling food into Elliotʼs bottomless mouth to avoid the impatience alarm from sounding. Occasionally, I can move my gaze up to see if my friend is still there. If they havenʼt left, the look of shock tells me they are unable to create a decent excuse to leave yet. I havenʼt figured out if that appalling shock is related to the amount of food something so small is capable of eating, or if they cannot believe what I have been reduced to. A manservant for an infant, who will have me cleaning all of this food out of her diaper in 4 hours.

So, I guess I live in a glass house now, which is acceptable if we all agree that it has been a rather ungraceful and sorry exercise in parenting because my skills were sharpened to be sophisticated and charming in a world of lounge chairs and penthouse parties, not as a manservant.

My Woody

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As I've mentioned before, I am much more laid back with this pregnancy than the first. This new laid-back lifestyle involves eating lunch meat, a piece of sushi here and there and actually stepping out of the front door and breathing oxygen not from a tank. It also involves the occasional glass of wine, which my doctor said was fine as long as I wasn't chugging Mad Dog 20/20.

I assured him I hadn't done that since last Halloween at my fancy friend Paula's party where I dressed up as a retired Hooters girl. It was necessary because it went with the costume.

I'm the one getting my nipple tweaked by Superwoman.



Anyhoo, I totally understand that we as human beings have a natural instinct to butt into other peoples' business, especially when we sense something might be in danger. For instance, I once called 911 on my ex-boyfriend's roommate because he was shooting birds with a pellet gun in their back yard. Poor, defenseless birds. Still makes my blood boil.

Oh, and by the way it was in Cape Girardeau, where the concept of shooting little animals out your back door for fun was born, so the police just laughed at me.

Therefore, when ordering a glass of wine at a restaurant or bar, I know it will be served with a big fat side of The Stigma in being the pregnant girl in the bar drinking a glass of wine. And I've come to accept that.

But come on, it's not like I'm snorting coke off a stripper's tits, people.

So this past weekend when I met my fun friend Angie at The Wood, a new bar in Maplewood, I decided to belly up and order a nice cool glass of The Stigma.

This quickly became my new favorite bar for three reasons:

1. I get to watch awesome live bands (and I LOVE live bands) for free.
2. While watching live bands I get to eat a very large stack of delicious onion rings. A staple in the diet of any pregnant woman.
3. The refreshing glass of wine came completely Stigma-free.

Walk of Shame

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Last weekend when we were getting ready to stroll around Old Town St. Charles I asked Nick to get Ellie dressed so that I could finish getting ready. When I went to find them in the back yard, Ellie was still wearing her pajama top with a random skirt.

My lesson for letting my color blind husband, whose greatest fashion trademark is wearing his t-shirts inside out, dress our daughter.

Me: What is she wearing?
Nick: What? It's yellow and yellow, so it matches!
Me: Well, actually it's green and another green, and she's still in her pajama top.
Nick: Yeah, together with her baby mullet she's ready for St. Charles!

And that is meant with nothing but love to my St. Charles homies. You know I have my own private seat at the County Fair Demo Derby.

My New Flyer

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In light of the fact that I spend the majority of my waking hours answering the same five questions over and over, I am going to have the following flyer printed and available for distribution later this afternoon:

1. September 15.

2. Yes, I REALLY have three months left. You look really ugly with your eyeballs bulging out that far, by the way.

3. No, I don't know how it got this big.

4. Yes, I'm sure there is only one in there.

5. Heh heh heh yes, I am familiar with the Hindenburg. You're quite funny. And old.

Land of 1,000 Hostas - Part 1

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This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the big move into our new house with a one-month-old. Yes, I said one-month-old. That last part is significant. Everyone told us we were crazy, and they were absolutely right.

There were times when I'd black out for a moment, and I would come-to and find myself standing in the backyard with a vase on my head singing Barbara Streisand songs into a bottle of ketchup.

I have organizational OCD, which means that I can't go to sleep at night until everything is in its place. This applies to everything from the remotes in the drawer (silver on the left, black on the right) to ensuring the receipts from the past 7 years are in correct chronological order in the cabinet. And I know what you're thinking, and no, it hasn't changed with kids.

The good news about this is that I single-handedly unpacked our entire house in about 36 hours, all the while praying to God that the C-section stitches placed in my abdomen a mere four weeks prior stuck tight. I didn't want Nick coming home from work to discover the final scene from Braveheart lying on our kitchen floor.

The bad news is that Ellie started soliciting adoption from area packs of wolves because she realized her Mother was bat shit crazy and would rather make sure the DVDs are properly alphabetized than tend to her basic human needs. Just wait, girl - it's in the genes.

We finally did get settled in, and save for the 20 additional bathrooms we'll need to add at some point for the houseful of girls I'm going to bear, it's pretty much perfect home. Oh, I didn't tell you? Oh yeah, I roofied Nick on our first date and removed all of his male-producing sperm, just in case things worked out between us. It was a routine practice in my 20s.

However, there is one little problem with the house that rears its ugly head during the spring and summer months - our yard springs to life and rivals the Roji-en Japanese gardens. This is a problem because I am incapable of keeping anything green and leafy alive. Trust me, I tried many times in college.

To be continued...

All Right Stop...Collaborate And Listen

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When you have a baby, you spend the first six months of its life putting it through a battery of tests to make sure the doctors did not miss anything with their evaluation. For instance, with Ellie I shined lights in her eyes and banged pots and pans next to hear ears to make sure she was not blind or deaf. Then I sprayed pepper spray in her face to make sure she had good reflexes.

She passed all of those tests with flying colors, which was a good thing because I was already very preoccupied with her other big problem – the fact that she was covered in fur. I'm not talking a light dusting of hair – no, this was full blown brown fur from the top of her head down her forehead covering her ears down her neck to her back and her across her shoulders.

She looked like she had a little baby fur mullet.

The nurses all told me it would go away but I knew it wouldn't and there she will be on her wedding day, in her beautiful flowing white gown, tufts of fur sticking out the top and by that time cascading down her back and out the bottom of the dress. In fact, we'd probably have to cut a hole in the butt for her tail.

She'll be forced to marry the only man who will have her – some blind dude into beastiality (do NOT Google that word to find out how to spell it, by the way).

But eventually it did fall out, and we were problem-free, or so I thought.

Last night Nick and I went for a walk, and after a while we took her out of her stroller to let her work on her walking skills.

Nick: Yeah, I've been watching that left foot because I noticed it was turned in when she was born, and I think... well...

Me: (my inner Mother freak out springing to life) W... W... what? You think what?

Nick: Oh, it's no big deal, she'll probably just need to have corrective shoes for a little while, that's all.

He said it like he commenting on the weather. CORRECTIVE SHOES? I don't want my kid to be the kid with corrective shoes! She would be different, and when you are in school, different is BAD.

Trust me, I looked like Vanilla Ice with acne and braces when I was in high school.

I'd prefer to have the fur back – at least I can put little bows in it.

Run Ellie, Run!

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Me: Wow - Ellie is almost about to take her first steps!
Nick: Yeah, I think she just needs a little motivation.
Me: Hmmm, that's a thought. You mean like putting her blankie on the other side of the room?
Nick: No, actually, I was thinking more like stuff from that movie "Saw".

This is going to be a long 18 years.

What Can Brown Do For Me?

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Is there anything more still and peaceful than the wondrous beauty of a sleeping baby?

The answer is yes. It's the cold lifeless body of the UPS man if he ever honks that God damned horn again outside my baby's window between the hours of 2 and 4pm.

I hope you die a slow and horrible death. In fact, that goes for you too, stretch mark cream maker, and you - cellulite diminishing lotion maker. False hope is so much worse than no hope at all.

Puttin' the P in Pool

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Ellie always looks so adorable when she's emptying her bladder.

Of course you can't see it, but I'm sporting snow pants and a parka behind the camera so as not to scare the little children.

A Day in the Life of a Twit

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Nick: What are you doing?
Me: I'm working on my Twitter strategy.
Nick: What's Twitter?
Me: Ummm, well, hmmm. You know, it's... umm... basically, you get followers, and you tell them what you're up to and share stuff from the web.
Nick: That sounds horrible and pointless. Why would anyone waste their time with something like that? And what the hell is a Twitter strategy?
Me: Well, I'm trying to figure out how to get followers without people feeling like I'm spamming them.
Nick: What's spamming?
Me: When you get a bunch of followers and tweets from casinos and strippers and porn sites and stuff.
Nick: I want a Twitter.

Pillow Talk

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In case I haven't mentioned before, Nick is a minimalist with a capital PSYCHO. Everything I've bought since we've been married I've had to beg or barter for and I find myself constantly explaining things like why we have to buy baby wipes instead of using the wash cloths we already have, and that both the toothbrush and toothpaste are necessary items in our medicine cabinet. No, you just can't use one or the other.

God help my girls if I ever die - they will wear nothing but loin cloths and slumber on a bed of twigs.

So, when I woke up a couple of weeks ago feeling like a viking had left his battle axe lodged in my spine, I knew I was going to have to buy a body pillow and I knew it wasn't going to go well.

Nick: What's that?
Me: It's a body pillow. I'm 25 weeks pregnant and my belly is huge and I need it so I bought it so get over it.
Nick: But we have like 50 pillows on the bed already.
Me: I tried. They're not long enough.
Nick: Then use me.
Me: You're too bony.
Nick: (Exasperated) UUUUUUUUgggggghhhhhh. I'm going to use the toothpaste.

So you can imagine my surprise when I came back from my first of 37 trips to the bathroom that night to find him fast asleep and spooning with the pillow.

Me: (Whispering) Hey, Nick, can you give me my pillow?
Nick: No.
Me: I'm not in the mood for this. Give... me... back... my God damned pillow.
Nick: Don't talk like that in front of Clarise.
Me: You named it?
Nick: Her. I named her. Now get your own pillow.

And with that he rolled over with the pillow and the covers, leaving me, our unborn child and the battle axe in my spine lying there, cold and in pain.

And all I can wonder is if there's a judge in the world that would not rule in my favor.

Foiled Again

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Ok. So I'm about to say something and you're either going to nod your head in complete agreement or you're going to drop what you're doing, get in your car, drive to my house and stick a lit cigarette in my eye.

Here goes...

There are a lot of kids out there that I don't like. In fact, if we're being honest, I would say that I want to give a good shake to approximately two out of three. By the way, this blog will be destroyed should I ever be investigated by the state.

IknowIknowIknow - all children are magical creatures, I believe that children are our future, Jesus loves the little children... I get it.

But I think you know exactly which kids I'm talking about and even as you're extinguishing your cigarette into my retina I know that deep down you feel exactly the same way.

They're the kids who scream through your entire dinner at a restaurant. The kids who throw themselves on the floor at the grocery store. The kids who ask you when your baby is coming even though you gave birth two weeks ago.

Naturally, when I see a kid that I don't like my dislike automatically extends to the parents. You know, because they are horrible people for raising a kid that sucks.

Before I had Ellie OF COURSE I was positive that I would never have a kid that sucks. I would have a well-mannered, funny, cute, smart, charming-at-all-times kid. The kind of kid that does not exist but there was no doubt that mine would be the first.

Yesterday my single friend Carrie came over to cut and color my hair and Ellie woke up from her nap about 1/2 way through. No sweat, I would just bring her downstairs and let her quietly play in the playroom for an hour or so. Because she doesn't suck.

Unbeknownst to me, I had actually brought Damian the child demon, son of Satan, downstairs. There was an uncanny resemblance - the demon child had done a very good job with the imitation. The minute I put her in the playroom and closed the baby gate her head spun around and she started speaking Latin.

What the hell? Just before she went down for her nap she was laughing and blubbering and talking to her stuffed animals and reading books about quantum physics.

I whipped my foil covered head around and looked at Carrie and saw a very familiar look in her eyes. She thinks Ellie sucks. Once someone thinks your baby sucks, they also think that you suck. And once you both suck, it's nearly impossible to un-suck.

By the time Carrie left and sped home to sew her vagina shut, Ellie's head had spun all the way off and lay next to her Hello Kitty vanity while her headless body continued to flail and kick the baby gate.

How had this happened? Where had this child demon come from? I had never seen her hit anything, and she was throwing right hooks at the baby gate like it told her she looked fat in her prom dress.

And, almost on cue, as soon as Carrie's car pulled out of the driveway, Ellie smiled, crawled away and started quietly playing with her toys. I was left standing there, wondering what the hell had just happened and where I had gone wrong as a parent. Like so many parents before me, I had been defeated.

At least my hair looks good.

A Day in the Life

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Our dinner conversation last night:

Me: I have some bad news - the car needs new brakes and it's going to cost $600.

Nick: You know, mechanics are like veterinarians.

Me: Go on.

Nick: Well, you take your dog into the vet, and the vet says it broke its leg, and it's going to cost $1,000 to fix. Then you think "do I REALLY need to fix its leg?" It's the same with a car. The mechanic says it's going to be $600, and you think, "Do I REALLY need new brakes?"

Me: There are so many things wrong with that statement that I don't even know where to start.

Nick: You going to finish that chicken?

The Heat is On

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I had Ellie on May 6, which, in my humble opinion, is the optimal day for giving birth because it was only hot for one day during the entire pregnancy. Unfortunately said hot day happened to be May 4, and also the day that Nick and I decided to walk around the zoo for hours to try to induce labor.

I like to refer to this day as "The Day My Soul Melted." As we walked through the scorching heat I prayed for my water to break because I thought it might bring some momentary relief. At one point I distracted Nick by telling him that there was a polar bear behind him so that I could jump into the penguin tank.

When we finally made it back to the car he had to strap me to the top because I had turned into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and my limbs were so swollen that my knees and elbows wouldn't bend and I could no longer fit in the front seat.

That one worst day of my pregnancy with Ellie is what I have dealt with every day for the past two weeks, and what I have to look forward to for the next 104 days. I've been spending a fair amount of time comparing shipping costs on guillotines.

Thank God that we live within walking distance to a pool, but this presents another, ahem, more sensitive pregnancy issue. The issue of, shall we say, personal swumsuit maintenance?

With Ellie I was never in a swimsuit, or even shorts for that matter, so shaving was never an issue. I did take a stab at it once a few days before her birth, so as not to scare the nurses. I just waved the razor around, sort of taking blind swipes everywhere on my body. Upon inspection with the hand mirror I saw what appeared to be the Batman insignia shaved into my Nether Lands. The more I tried to fix it the worse it got. One of the things I do remember clearly as I laid on the operating table before my C-section was the nurse telling me that they had to shave me, grabbing the razor, pulling back my gown, looking confused, and putting the razor back down without saying a word.

On our first visit to the pool last Saturday I thought maybe I could get away with not shaving, but when I took off my cover up I heard a little girl scream across the pool and tell her Mom that there was a tarantula crawling out of my bathing suit.

Ok, point taken. No need to broadcast it, little girl.

This is serious business, people - I'm scarring little children for life. I considered getting a bikini wax but I heard that your skin is more sensitive when you're pregnant and it could result in a bad rash. I'm out of options - I think it's time to call in a favor with Nick. He's the only person in the world who is legally required to love me no matter what.

Jaws

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You're gonna need a bigger boat.

The Name's Bond. Mommy Bond.

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My favorite part about going out to dinner every night (yes I know - I polish my Mom of the Year award daily) is picking out the perfect table for which to eavesdrop. I'm like a kid in a candy store. Ooooh - a group of girls - love the catty gossip. But look over there - it looks like that married couple is on the verge of a huge blow up. Wait... wait... hold the phone. I spy what might potentially be a first date. Jackpot.

And, just in case the conversation at the next table turns stale, I have become so proficient in my craft that I can read lips from one hundred paces.

As interesting as it may be to hear a two-hour recap of Nick's daily adventures performing fistulograms on 85-year-old men (don't get excited - it's not what it sounds like), the conversation at the next table always calls to me like a siren song.

At first I try my hardest to listen to both conversations, but suddenly I find Nick looking at me, like he's waiting for an answer to a question, and I have to ask him to please repeat everything he's said for the last 10 minutes. We've finally gotten to the point in our relationship where he can look into my eyes, and though they are staring into his, their unfocused glassiness gives me away and he knows I'm deep in the throes of spying.

So you can imagine my excitement, my ecstatic ELATION of unparallelled heights, when I discovered that if I put the baby monitor on just the right spot on the deck I can pick up the cordless phone conversations of my neighbors. In the interest of privacy I will not name names, but I can tell you that the cable guy will be somewhere in the neighborhood on Thursday between the hours of 10am - 2pm.

Ok, I have really boring neighbors, but that's what I get for living in The 'Burbs.

Now, in addition to this being a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, there is one other small drawback - my daughter could be eaten by a gaggle of geese in her crib upstairs and I would not so much as glance up from my book.

But that's a risk I'm willing to take.