Put those dreams on hold

If you didn't know, this weekend was the NFL Draft.  Brian watched diligently for several hours on Saturday and Sunday, commenting occasionally on the prospects of our local team.  Sunday evening he got a call from our Navy friend W.

Brian:  Once again, nobody called me up for the draft.  

W:  And you waited by the phone all weekend.

Brian:  I'm firing my agent.


Get on the bus

Okay, so the conversations at work these days tend to revolve around just how high the price of gas could go by summer.  It was a little obscene to put about $30 worth in the tank earlier this month, and it only came up half full.  And I drive a Honda.

My car doesn't get used at work - it just sits in a parking garage all day.  One of my co-workers mentioned riding an express bus that gets to work on time in the morning and arrives back in plenty of time to pick up Helen at daycare.  I did a little investigating on all the different schedules, and I learned that I've got a lot of options.  There are a couple of express bus schedules for the regular commute, which gets me to a spot downtown only a block away from my office door.  In case I need to run home during the day (i.e., Helen's sick at daycare), there's a local bus that takes a little longer but leaves every half hour.  I've also got a great option for those  monthly doctor appointments that take me right past my doctors office.  I decided this was worth a try, even for just a month, and if I hated it I could go back to driving.

After two days I was hooked.  Public transportation gives me a lot more flexibility than I had imagined, and while I'm without a car during the day, I DIDN'T NEED IT ANYWAY.  Lunch is usually within walking distance, or I can ride with co-workers if we're heading somewhere together.  Errands after work?  I never really had time since I was picking up Helen from daycare and had to race back in crazy traffic.  I can plan ahead a little better, and combine trips on the weekend or evenings. 

This first month, I saved a lot of dough on gasoline.  Half a tank of gas lasted me through 2 weeks, instead of a full tank per week.   Parking costs downtown dropped significantly, too.  I expect in all to save about $150 this month, and as the cost of gas goes up, it will be even more.

Anyone else out there figuring out a way to save on gas?  Feel free to share in the comments.  


More Cows

We traveled to Uncle J and Aunt L's farm this weekend.  Helen has been jonesing for about 2 weeks now, begging us to take her to see the cows.  Once we arrived, I discovered why.  Turns out the cows got busy last summer, and there were 7 baby calves running around the field.  
You could say they were a little hungry at this point.  As soon as we came into the yard, they gathered at the fence.  They get to eat all the grass they want right now, but I think they wanted a little bit of feed.  Instead, they got a little bit of Helen.

Here is a picture of some calves.  They are a little wild and won't let people pet them.  This is as close as we got.

This cow seemed fine with posing for a picture.  I don't know why.

Farm living is the life for me, especially when the weather's nice and the people are friendly.  Aunt L did a great job of hauling out all the stops to entertain a very tired little toddler.  I wish I could explain how much that meant to me, since we had arrived without any resources of our own.  I guess I was expecting the cows to take over the show.

I promise I won't take so many cow pictures the next time I'm there.  I am probably the only person who finds these animals fascinating in photography.  I didn't get good shots of them this time because the moms were hanging back with the babies.  I learned that one of the moms had lost her cow (she tried to deliver by herself in the middle of the night) and I felt a little pang of sympathy for her.  It must be the most horrible feeling to stand in a field full of those calves, and not have your baby by your side like all the other moms did.

I gave Helen a little extra squeeze that night when I put her to bed.


Songs I Have Learned

Helen & I were reading a book that happened to have a few lambs on one of the pages.  Helen started singing, "Baa baa black sheep have you any wool, yessir yessir, bag full."

I've heard her sing more of the song before, so I encouraged her. 

Jennie:  "... One for my ..."

Helen:  "... maksa ..."

Jennie:  "... one for my ..."

Helen:  "... Jane ..."

Jennie:  "... and one for the ..."

Helen:  "... little boy ..."

Jennie:  "... who lives in ..."

Helen:  " ... the drain."


New to me

Recently I traveled home to collect a few giant bags of maternity clothing from my sister.  I quickly discovered that the wardrobe she and I have cobbled together over our first pregnancies ballooned during her second one.  She was the recipient of many clothes from her co-workers, which has all been passed along to me.  Sweet!

Okay, so after sorting through all the bags, dumping the motherload of clothing I can't wear for the next 6 months, and replacing it with tummy-friendly options, I just have one question for my sister:  which one of those losers bought the skinny jeans from the maternity store?  Seriously, it's a skin-tight jean, in a gorgeous dark denim, with a large elastic tummy band around the waist.  No one, and I repeat, NO ONE who is giving birth the near future (i.e., 20 weeks or less) should be allowed to purchase something like a skinny jean.  Seriously.  (One exception:  if you have a personal trainer who visits your house each day, because you appear regularly on a large movie screen in several hundred cities.  Other than that, no skinny jean for you.)

Yeah, they're still on the hanger in my closet.  I'm trying to decide who I want to scare with them.  My husband?  My sister?  Someone needs to see my calves & thighs shoved into this laughable idea of a clothing item, with the basketball tummy topping off the whole picture.  Then they'll know EXACTLY why I'm freaking out.  I tried them on before I knew what I was getting into, and I had to peel them off.  Reminded me of my single days, when I still fit into that awesome pair of jeans I was wearing when I first met Brian.  Six months after we started dating, I couldn't go anywhere near them without hearing some giggling from the hanger. Today, they're still hiding in the back of my closet.  They, like me, eagerly await the day that the breastfeeding metabolism kicks into high gear, and I lose like 50 pounds in 2 weeks.

What?  It could happen.  and every woman out there knows  exactly what I'm talking about.  We're all guilty of saving that one outfit that made us look like a rock star (or at least, we thought we did), and hoping against any kind of rational hope that one day, we'll rock it again just like OLD SKOOL, YO.

But if you are a mother who talked to me at any point during the first two months of Helen's life, you might be aware that the breastfeeding thing will be a bit of a challenge for me.  So, cross your fingers that things go much better this time around, because Mama needs a new pair of jeans. 



The day of our ultrasound, Brian & I were trying to figure out how to tell Helen about the coming baby. Or her impending doom. We thought we knew how she'd take it, but we couldn't be sure.

Brian: Helen, we've got some very important news for you that's going to change the rest of your life.

Helen: I've got Fruit Rollup tongue!

Not sure if the folks in my generation and/or their parents have seen Fruit Rollups lately, but these things have morphed into my mother's worst nightmare. They look and taste nothing like fruit anymore. Remember how they vaguely resembled flattened strawberries, complete with the seeds? Now they're dried up sheets of Kool-Aid. Plus, they have these edible bluish-greenish patterns printed on them that can create a tongue tattoo. Of course, at the tender age of almost 3, she doesn't have the patience to figure out how to make a tattoo stick to such a rapidly moving object. She just shoves a Fruit Rollup in her mouth in about 2 bites flat. So, now she's eaten a 6-inch square of flat red sugar, and her tongue and lips are slightly blue. I can't tell if she's unable to breathe, or if she's seconds away from bouncing off the walls - neither of which is a great prospect.

Anyway, I started all of that to mention that Helen is so excited about this baby.  She tells me all the time, "Mom, I love your baby."  She wants to name it after one of her daycare teachers, and she tells anyone who asks that her mommy has a baby in her tummy.  She's thrilled to be a big sister, and she insists that she will share her toys with the baby.  We've learned a little lesson in how to hold a baby with her new Cousin M., and after seeing her pregnant aunt at Christmas, then visiting in the hospital and hearing that the baby came out of her tummy and now we can hold the baby - EASY, BE EASY, VERY SOFT, THAT'S IT - she really, really gets it.

So, a special thanks to my sister for going through all of this ahead of me, and for being a perfect object lesson for Helen.  You knew you did this for a reason, right?  I'm sure you're thrilled you could help us out.  

One of Helen's classmates at daycare will have a little sister next month, so they've been comparing notes in class, I think.  The other girl wants to name her little sister "Tutti-Frutti."  Wow.  Not so bright at this age, are they?

Helen lifts up my shirt at the slightest whim and tries to "see" the baby through the belly button.  I've put her hand on my belly to see if she can feel the baby kick, but of course the baby doesn't even try to kick once Helen's noise level approaches my torso.  I should use her as a calming effect more often.  I've noticed this baby kicks FAR more than Helen did.  The ultrasound was a hoot - at one point it looked like the baby was riding a bicycle, she was kicking her legs so much.

Speaking of which, Helen was an unexpected guest at our second ultrasound. She was sick that day, banned from daycare for a fever, and I had no one who could stay with her.  Nor did I have enough notice to change the appointment.  I promise, I am not in the habit of bringing my toddler to a doctor's office that doesn't have a pediatrician in it.  She was threatened within an inch of her life to be good that day, but I shouldn't have worried.  She was fantastic, even if she didn't quite get what the ultrasound looked like.  And I don't blame her - those things are notoriously hard to see for the uninitiated.  The pictures ended up in her room, where she can look at them as much as she wants, and as I was putting her to bed tonight, I found them under the covers.

That girl is excited to have a sister on the way.  I just hope she remembers to maintain this level of excitement later on.


The Long Walk, Part Duh

So, it's time once again to show you all pictures from Brian's latest foray into the western United States and the Desert of Insanity - also known as Bataan Memorial Death March.  In case you don't remember or weren't reading around this time last year, I'll link the blog entry here.
Twenty six point two miles of marching, with a 35-pound pack on his back, not to mention loads of life insurance riding on every single step.  This year the participant numbers jumped from 4K to 5K.  This thing is really getting to be huge.  Some people were apparently a little confused about which uniform to wear, and possibly which war we were currently fighting:

I enjoy the pictures that Brian takes of the course, including all the folks up ahead and their footsteps left behind in the sand.  The majority of the course is rough terrain like this, which many athletes will understand makes the event that much harder on the body.  I won't even discuss the waiver they got everyone to sign about not suing in case they step on unexploded land mines.  So, what's left?  I think it's important to note that the sun was rising as everyone headed out.  Yes, they got this many people up for this event while it was STILL DARK OUTSIDE.

They ran into the same bagpiper this year, and chatted him up.  It turns out this guy is from Canada, and does a couple of these events every year.  He has a fantastic mustache, and he pipes his way through every single march.  He said it's a great way to meet people.  I would also bet it's a great way to get folks in front of you to march a heck of a lot faster. 

Here's a nice picture of the relief station along the route.  I would imagine this water would be a much more welcome sight than even the gorgeous American flag against the beautiful clear blue sky.  

I have to say that despite all the joking that Brian & I do prior to this event, mainly about the life insurance proceeds and how very much that income would mean to me, I couldn't be prouder of him.  He came home with a record finish of 20 minutes faster than last year, and a much quicker recovery time.  I know being around all of these military folks for a weekend must be so inspiring and a big boost to the patriotism (even though most of the conversation center appears to fixate on how to fit a trip to Hooters in the schedule).   The fact that the race is increasing in participants so much shows what a quality event this must be.  I may sound like I'm joking when I say I could think of a million ways to enjoy a weekend that involve less than 26.2 steps around my house, but I am thrilled he could enjoy something called a Death March this much.   
So, lots of love and big hugs to my husband - I'm so glad you're back.  I've just got to head out and return this little vacation home I picked up.  Be back soon.


General Update

Old news from January:  I have a new nephew to cuddle with, strangely enough, also named Cousin M.  I'll have to figure out something to call him, like M the Younger.  Or M the Louder.  We'll see how that goes.  He's a real cutie pie, as Helen says, and he already loves his Aunt Jennie.  Keep an eye out for his baby pictures, because I'll have about a billion.  A few of them may even be of someone other than me cuddling with him.

The same weekend he was born, there was a small snowstorm in town, and Helen got her first chance to toss a snowball at her mom.  And her Nana.  And her Grandpa.  Oh, it was a lot of fun for everyone to watch, and thank god My Precioussss was quick enough to get this shot:

I'll give you extra points if you noticed the purple mittens lying on the ground nearby, and thought to yourself, "Oh dear, Jennie - the gloves are off now."  Yeah, I know.  It's truly a metaphorical picture, AND a literal picture, at the same time.  There's got to be a word for that situation, but the only one that occurs to me is "irony."  Also, "doom."  Because for strange some reason, I can't get the Darth Vader theme out of my head.


Cruisin', on a Sunday afternoon

Brian and I had been talking with some friends in New Orleans about joining their group of friends for a cruise to Mexico.  Brian & I have never been on a cruise, and honestly, we were a little nervous.  It seemed like spending a lot of money to sail around with 2000 people we didn't know, and would we like it?  Opinions varied widely, especially when I looked at the internet.  His parents are big fans of cruises, and they talked us over the Cliffs of Indecision by volunteering to keep Helen for us.  So in December, we booked our 5-day vacation for the end of February.
This, by the way, is the first vacation we had from Helen since we went to Montreal in 2006.  So, needless to say, we were a little excited about getting freed from the shackles of parenthood.

And then, that pesky little ultrasound.  I sure know how to make my side of a trip to Mexico really, really cheap.

Anyhoo, in February, we headed down to New Orleans and discovered that the group we joined up with contained 15 born & bred natives of the Crescent City.  So, even if I could drink, I wouldn't have been able to keep up on my best day - and for those of you who can say "I knew her when" - that includes my 29th birthday.

(Don't ask, "Which one?"  I mean, the FIRST one.)  

Yeah, those guys were hard-core!  

But we had a great time on the cruise, and we shouldn't have worried about it for a second.  Yes, they do charge extra for drinks (including sodas) but after a while, all thoughts of "extra spending" melted into the background.  There was plenty to do and see, and we enjoyed meeting all the new people.

I especially enjoyed my afternoon naps.  It was so nice to have an 8 pm seating for dinner, because I could head back to the room and take a siesta before getting ready to eat.  Our crowd was seated each night at 3 tables close together.  We ended up sorting out with one table full of married folks (us), another table full of either newlyweds or more settled singles, and a third table of the wild single crowd.

The second night on the ship was Formal Night.  We all got gussied up and as we were enjoying the appetizer course, I heard someone making that jangling noise of the silverware against a wine glass.  Turns out it was a young man from the wild singles table.  Once he had the attention of several tables around us, he stood up, then got down on one knee and offered a ring to a girl at the table.

We, of course, all knew that it was fake.  But the rest of the night, people kept stopping by their table to say congratulations to the "happy couple."  The married folks at our table dreamed up a pretty fantastic breakup scene for later in the week (i.e., another girl tossing a drink in his face and shouting, "I can't believe you're marrying that whore!"), but it never happened.  I guess on a cruise vacation, you have time to dream up the wild scenarios, and plenty of friends to help you carry it out.

Our cruise included 2 days in port, one in Cozumel and one in Progresso.  We ended up spending both days at the beach with most of the crowd.  I got a little bit of sun, even.  It was very warm and very relaxing, and I really enjoyed getting to know all these new people.  Also, butchering the Spanish language by ordering food & drinks.

The last day in port, we all got back on the ship late afternoon, and as we pulled out to sea to go back to New Orleans, I noticed the wind picked up quite a lot.  The water was pretty choppy, even though had been very calm all day.  Not having been on a cruise before, I was surprised to feel the boat moving occasionally, and instead of making me sick, it made me very nervous.  I wanted that boat to STOP. ROCKING. ALREADY.  And normally, it didn't last very long, or if I moved to a different part of the ship, I couldn't feel it.

However, sometime that night, we sailed right into a large storm front.  I woke up around 5 am to feel the boat rocking tremendously.  Finally I got up to look out the window and saw nothing but huge waves with white caps.

The captain came on over the loudspeaker a few hours later to tell us that we had sailed overnight through 14-15 foot waves, and currently we were in 10-foot waves.  He said the storm front stretched across the Gulf, and he had no choice but to go through it.  The weather was pretty miserable on deck (60 degrees, very high winds), but he expected that it would calm down after lunch.

Later that morning we went to get some food.  I had a lot of trouble walking a straight line down the hall, and there were little sickness bags stuffed into the railings every few feet.  And after lunch, there were tons of room service trays lining the halls.  I don't think many people on the ship left their rooms.  It was pretty miserable, and although I wasn't sick, I was definitely freaking out.

I found out that back at our house, they had snow, and directly south, big tornados at my parents' house.  So, it was a pretty big storm system, and I'm glad we all came through with no trouble.

Helen and Brian's parents were waiting for us at the airport.  She had been a great little girl for them all week, and I was so proud to hear that they had a wonderful time playing with her.  She only asked about us a couple of times, and finally her Nana told her that we were on a big boat.  But since they were getting her two Happy Meals at a time (we must have TWO toys, after all), I don't think she had a problem with us being gone.  

Seeing her at the airport was the best thing - I realized how much I missed that little girl, and I was so happy to give her a big hug.  After her grandparents left the next day, she spent the next couple of weeks saying, "Mom, thank you for getting off the boat."

No problem, sweetie - no problem at all.

So, it's been a while.

I have been a little remiss in updating you on the latest and greatest in the Wyatt family.  We've had some excuses.

Well, only one, really.

And she's due on August 4.

More to come ... including stories & photos from a week-long cruise vacation.