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My shower was now a month ago.

Please forgive my tardiness in writing about it.  I was so overwhelmed by all of the generosity and love shown by our friends and families!  My friend Heather threw the shower at our church, and a lot of wonderful people showed up.  These were people from every facet of my life- my childhood, college, adulthood, family.  Even those who couldn’t come due to time or travel difficulties were there in spirit.  Stowaway truly was showered with so much love (not to mention gifts!).

In fact, the registries are now basically empty.  That’s a pretty good feeling.  I went out a couple weeks ago and purchased the rest of the cloth diaper supplies from Diaper Lab, a local cloth diaper store.  Then, that evening I went to choir only to be surprised by a small shower.  They had taken up a collection and purchased most of the same items I had bought earlier in the day!  So, I was able to return my items and save a bunch of money.  I guess that’s what I get for jumping the gun.  🙂  Okay.  You have to see these adorable diaper covers we got:

And, if Stowaway turns out to be of the female persuasion, I may be forced, kicking and screaming, to purchase this insanely cute one too:

This baby is going to have a very fashionable butt. 

What was I saying?  Oh yeah.  Shower.  So, my shower was exactly what I imagined it to be.  It was laid back and fun, there was a lot of good food, and everyone seemed to have a good time.  Heather brought a couple of lasagnas and several other friends also brought things.  My friends are great cooks!  I have never felt so completely supported and surrounded by love as I have during this pregnancy.

After the shower, my mom (who flew in from AK for this!) came back to my house with two of her dear friends (women I’ve known since I was a very small child).  I still remember fondly sleepovers and parties with these ladies and their children.  We sat in Stowaway’s room for a good portion of the evening admiring all the gifts I’d received, putting some stuff away, and generally starting to get the room in better order.  They stayed late, until husbands started calling and the drive back to their respective homes (in NH and ME) started to seem long for such a late hour. 

All in all, a great day.  Mr. Cookie and I feel truly lucky to have such a strong support network.  Stowaway is incredibly lucky too, because one day s/he will look on many of these same friends the way I see my mom’s friends.  All of you are treasures to me.  Thank you for being so giving of yourselves.  I am in your debt.


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The Best of Times: House

Has it really been three months since my last post?  My, how time flies when… well, when life gets tough.  I guess I stopped posting because for a little while there, with Mr. Cookie still looking for work and dealing with the frustrations of that, life just piled up.

Then, he got a job and things started looking up but I was out of the habit of blogging.  Sorry, guys.  I started this blog with the tagline “the best of times.”  And really, brief periods of down aside, this last year has been pretty great for us.  Even with the short dance with unemployment, we were able to tighten our belts, live mostly on my salary, and eat into our savings very little.  Which means, now that Mr. Cookie has been back to work for awhile, we have some news!

You guys, after a rather nasty and frustrating house search, I think we have found the home we will call our own.  It’s in a suburb of Boston that has the best of both worlds.  Quiet neighborhoods with incredible schools.  Easy access to public transit.  Proximity to a lot of our friends.  Biking paths, playing fields, and water.  Our offer has been accepted and now we’re just waiting on the inspection.  Here she is, folks:

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I might have had a little extra wine with dinner tonight.  Just some disclosure.  Still, that does not reduce the veracity of what I am about to say.  I had a professor in college my freshman year who taught the course “Science, Religion, and Reality.”  I took it hoping to connect my religious indoctrination with the scientific world (something I’d always had trouble reconciling) and instead wound up an Agnostic.  Yeah, it was a hard year but I wound up much happier and well adjusted for all the mental exercise.  My professor, one Patrick Derr, was the embodiment of the philosophical stereotype.  A lot introspective, focused on questions instead of answers, and a significant amount of boozy.  He used to bring a mug of coffee with him to each class which, halfway through the semester we discovered he liked to supplement with vodka.  Namely, the homemade vodka he had received as a wedding present when his daughter married a Polish man.

Back to me.  I had several goblets of wine tonight (what, I was making Coq au Vin and who wouldn’t imbibe when there was an open bottle of wine in front of them?).  Then, I ate dinner.  Then, I went on a long after dinner walk with Mr. Cookie during which he was much colder than I.

This year, if I can get my act together and if Mr. C can get a job, is the year we will probably start trying for kids (oof.  Or more likely kid).  Today, I had a very happy day of problem solving involving power tools and hand saws at the work day for the show I am currently stage managing.  Power tools make me feel like I have a purpose in life.  I had forgotten that until this show.  At one point, one of the actors who was helping me asked how I had gotten so good with building shit and I was really happy to tell him about my background as a Tech Theatre/English double major.  Everyone knows about the English crap, because I teach it.  But, let’s face it.  This year has been shit.  I’m exhausted.  These kids (I feel like) require a lot more energy and focus than past years and in some way it feels like my first year all over again (okay, not true.  Nothing will be as frustrating as my first year).  So, it felt really good to have someone be impressed by my prowess.

Back to the walk (damn.  If my students wrote with such crap transitions I would mark them own.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Most of my kids don’t float in the heaven of the grape).  I was talking to the Mister and randomly starting spewing about how I hope that no matter what, I want our kids to find their  passion.  I want them to find the one thing that makes them happy and fulfilled as long as it doesn’t  hurt society.  I never want to be the person who holds my kids back.  I want them to feel the same joy and excitement I felt today while wielding that circ saw and in giving directions to the two actors building the flat for the thrust.  That shit felt fucking validating, you know?

Yeah.  I hope you know.  I hope that all of you know what I’m talking about.  I hope all of you have something that gives you that rush, that intense joy, that feeling of belonging.  Because that’s why I’m supporting my husband in the decision to quit his job.  That’s why I know that one day when  he’s 60 years old he won’t leave because he’s not happy and feels unfulfilled.  Oh, heck yes.  Heck yes.  Find your passion, bloggy followers.  And don’t ever let it go.

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I wonder if I’m the only one who watches that show Hoarders and immediately afterward has a burning desire to purge my house of everything (or, at least, clean it).  I mean, really, they should market that show as motivation to clean.

For the years we’ve been living together, my husband’s talent for low scale hoarding has been a source of humor and also irritation between us.  When we first moved in together, it was boxes.  Every box for every appliance was kept and stowed in the coats closet, the office closet, the bathroom closets (oh, to have so many closets again).  I finally convinced him, after moving once and not using the boxes (his reason for keeping them- the Styrofoam in them was PERFECTLY! SHAPED! FOR EACH! APPLIANCE!) to get rid of them.  But, it doesn’t stop there.  I think Mr. Cookie should get a job as a product tester.  Now not counting because I recently purged our tub of excess bottles, at most times you can find between 2 and 4 cans of shaving cream and at least two kinds of facial wash (NOT my special, rosacea wash) in our shower.  You guys, I rarely even have as many products in the shower as he does.   A few weeks ago, I fell on the sidewalk and had a nasty case of road rash.  I tried out a doctor suggested at home remedy- a cut up pair of pantyhose and a maxi pad slathered with bacitracin.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was getting the job done.  Well, about a day after hearing me complain about how the pads I use are really thin and were providing little cushioning around my knee, he returned from CVS with no fewer than 3 different products for holding bandages onto joints and a couple different kinds of non-stick pads and gauze.  None of them worked better than the panty hose and pad and they now take up valuable real estate in our dining room hutch.  We have so little closet space in our current apartment (and none in our bathroom save the world’s tiniest medicine cabinet) that we’ve actually relegated two large drawers in the built in hutch for first aid, medicine, and beauty products.  It was a sweet gesture and I appreciated it at the time, but I know when we come to move we’re going to have to sift through all that stuff.

Maybe it comes of being a military brat.  We were never able to accumulate much because we were moving every couple of years.  Still, it’s easy to start collecting things.  I was doing laundry today down in the basement, staring at a bunch of shipping boxes my husband has saved (he’s been selling off old books and often has to ship them, so this is justified mostly) when I started to look around.

Believe it or not, this post was not written entirely to poke fun at my husband.  I realized I might have a problem too.  I collect things because I like to be prepared (and I don’t like wasting things).  For example, I have a large collection of gift bags.  These are not generally bags I’ve purchased, but rather, bags I’ve been gifted that I hold on to “just in case.”  I have used a couple, but mostly they are Christmas bags and I don’t have many opportunities to use those.  I also have a bunch of different sized tins.  One year, I decided to do a ton of baking at the holidays to give to friends.  We were living right in downtown Boston and I found it impossible to find tins for the cookies.  Mom happily told me “try the grocery store or WalMart!” except, there’s no WalMart in downtown Boston (we had no car) and the grocery stores don’t seem to hold the same suburban housewife values as my Mom’s.  So, when I moved and got a car, I found the nearest Christmas Tree Shop (really close!) and bought a bunch of tins.  I used most of them, but every holiday season I buy a few extra just in case the great tin shortage of ’06 should choose to repeat itself.  Plus, people often think the tins are so valuable (they really are dirt cheap) that after they’ve eaten the goodies inside, they give them back to me!  And who am I to argue with that?

I think this desire for preparedness comes of a desire to share and help (or so I justify it in my own head).  When I was in high school, all my friends knew I was their go to person if we were out and they needed something.  Change for a parking meter?  Yup, right here in my purse!  Tore your clothing?  No worries, here’s a travel sewing kit!  Chapped lips?  Hey, use my Carmen.  Too dark to find our car in the unlit parking lot?  I’ve got a mini flashlight!  The best part was that I kept it all organized in my purse.  My friends knew they could rely on me and once it became clear that that was my role, I always made sure I was prepared, MacGuyver style.

Now it has continued.  Except, between my husband and I, we probably need a low scale intervention.  I fear we’re just going to keep getting bigger places and then saying “hey!  Extra space!  Let’s get more crap!”  In fact, that fear often seeps in.  I own so. much. cake. shit.  Seriously.  It’s not just my husband.  I’m a hoarding monster too.

And the worst part?  I claim I don’t like “stuff.”  I told him to let his mom know I don’t want Christmas presents but was then lured in when he made several suggestions of things I’ve been saying I want.

I’m a hypocrite.  My storage space is bursting at the seams.  My travel sewing kit won’t fix this problem.

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Almost there

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the culture of weight loss and dieting.  How can I help it, with how immersed in it I’ve been?  The good news is, that after an early weigh in today I’m back on track.  In fact, given a couple more pounds, I will no longer be considered overweight.  That’s a pretty good feeling.  Your support and encouragement have really helped me along.  In an effort to push ourselves through this final stretch, Mr. Cookie and I came up with the idea to track our progress on a big ole whiteboard we’re keeping in our kitchen.  Not just our weight, but our body fat percentage, hydration levels, waist and thigh sizes.  I realize this seems extreme.  But we need extreme.

Both of us came from families where food was a form of comfort, not just sustenance.  Not to knock our parents or anything, because they did too many other things really wonderfully that we absolutely want to emulate.  But, that’s not how we want to raise our kids.  We want them to eat to live, not to eat emotionally.  This is something that Mr. Cookie and I both struggle with.  Having a bad day?  Let’s order some wings and a pint of ice cream!  I’m not saying that food isn’t love.  It is.  But there’s a difference between preparing a wonderful meal for loved ones and digging your way to the bottom of the Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting because your day wasn’t perfect.  We do too much of the latter.  And we’re out to change our habits.  Teach through example, right?

I am so lucky to have people who support me.  I know that in the past, Mr. Cookie and I have unintentionally sabotaged each other time and time again.  Whether it be baking that batch of brownies because someone had a bad day, ordering up two half moons from the Italian bakery down the street, or even just saying “I don’t know why you want to lose more weight.  You look great,” we’ve both done it.  You need support in such a mighty endeavor.

Women especially, I find, are quick to sooth each other by telling them what they want to hear.  Often, this is more detrimental than helpful.  Think about it.  If I was a smoker and was really struggling with quitting, was really having a hard time and was doubting myself, how helpful would it be if my girlfriend said “oh, you know, smoking is not that bad.  My grandpa smoked until the day he died at the ripe old age of 87”?  Because that is, essentially, what many of us are saying to our friends and loved ones who are trying to get in shape.  Guess what!  It is possible to be on a diet and be happy.  It is possible to be thin and healthy and happy as well.  And yeah, sometimes I have a low moment because things aren’t working out how they ought to.  But way more often than not, I’m optimistic and excited.

I want desperately to be a mom.  But I’m not just going to go out tomorrow and throw my legs up in the air.  Mr. Cookie and I know that you can’t plan perfectly.  Heck, it could take us months to get pregnant.  Or, magically, my birth control could stop working and we could get pregnant when we’re not expecting it.  And we’d be okay with either of those scenarios.  BUT we want to be in a healthy place emotionally and physically because we all know how hard it is to postpone  your fitness goals for after a baby comes along.  They take up a lot of time and I’ve known too many women who really struggled to lose weight after giving birth.  I want to be in a good place before my pregnancy so it’s easier to rebound after.  We also want to embody good, strong habits so we pass those on to our kids.  Not to mention, you know, the fact that if Mr. Cookie gets a new job elsewhere next year and I’m stuck here finishing our my contract with my school system, we could be apart for an entire school year.

And the last thing I’m going to say is this.  Diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol are all problems in our families.  Yes, we’re young.  Yes, all of those numbers look great for us right now.  But pregnancy does strange things to many women.  Heck, they’re even linking being overweight to PCOS (a syndrome where your ovaries frequently develop cysts that make it hard to conceive- guys, I’ve only got one ovary left!).  I realize that I can prepare all I want and there’s still a chance I could wind up with pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes.  I get that.  But I like odds.  And I know the odds are lower if I’m in the best shape possible from the start.

Can I get an “amen?”

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Sometimes, it’s important to take a step back and breathe deeply.  Especially when you’re mired in the frustrations of May in middle school.  So, when I got Sister Cookie’s invitation to come up to Maine for a barbecue in honor of two of her sons, I readily accepted.  Mr. Cookie was out of town and, wanting company for the long drive, I asked our good friend Campy to come with me.  We had a lovely day.

We saw this:

(he really was happier than this… I just didn’t get a good shot of it)

One of these:

A little of this:

And of course we can’t forget this:

Happily, there were also some of these:

And these:

Yes, Vati.  I just did that.  J9 can beat me up later.  You two look lovely.  And at least I didn’t use the one of you sucking face kissing.

Once we left the barbecue, he asked if we could take a road trip to OOB (Old Orchard Beach, for you non-Mainers).  I agreed and off we headed.

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Brick by Brick

On a wet and windy summer day three years ago, Mr. Cookie and I were riding our bikes through Portland, ME.  However, carrying camping gear and clothes through the rain and wind proved to be more tiring than our out of shape bodies were ready for.  Tired and dejected (and wet!), Mr. Cookie mentioned that he’d seen a sign for flatbread pizza a ways back and maybe we should head back and get some lunch.  Never one to argue with food, we did just that.

We walked in (Mr. Cookie would take this time to tell you all about how I tried to convince him that we should really go into the Irish pub next door instead) to a cheery, warm place with hand made art, wood hewn tables, and the friendliest staff I’ve ever run into.  But the part that drew our attention immediately was the clay oven holding court in one corner.  Perhaps the hostess saw how wet we were; perhaps she noticed the particularly rosy hue of our cheeks, but bless her heart she sat us down right near that oven.  We got to see our food cook while warming up.  The food was amazing.  The waitress was laid back and friendly.  The guy at the oven was outgoing and chatted with some children who came over to watch.  Did I mention the food?

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