and I leave all my precious jewels to nicole

I used to get sick all the time. I had lots of ear infections as a little kid, resulting in 2 sets of tubes. I had strep throat at least 2 or 3 times a winter until I got my tonsils out when I was in my mid 20s. but since then, I only feel ill maybe once a year. (not counting morning sickness.)

because I have to do my presentation on friday, and because I just had a 5 day weekend and anyone who takes off after a 5 day weekend is suspect, of COURSE I got sick yesterday. it started in the morning after feeling a twinge of nausea. it progressed through the day, but I had lunch anyway. ravioli and asparagus. I didn't think I'd make it till the end of the day, but I did. I got home and had some leftover oyster crackers from nicole's visit. then it really hit me.

here's the TMI moment. oyster crackers, ravioli, aspargus, all in a bowl on my lap since the toilet bowl was, shall we say, otherwise occupied.

I hate being sick.

I slept on the couch for most of the night, but went upstairs when I thought I heard bella cry. I put her in bed with me when she did wake up and I woke myself up later drenched in sweat. I went back downstairs and watched murder she wrote while softly moaning and quelling the nausea.

I couldn't take today off because, duh, presentation. so I dragged myself in at noon to finish it, and it's finished. but I am having a hard time staying, since the nausea has diminished somewhat but the bug has moved to the lower GI. IF you know what I mean.

oh, the fates...they are mischievious little pixies, aren't they?

pukingly yours...

(thank me, because originally it was "excrementally yours")


up the ante

it is tuesday, and I am severely procrastinating. I have a big presentation to do on friday, which has to be completed by thursday. which is the day after tomorrow. my bowels clench with the thought. though here I am blogging.

remind me of this when I start bitching about trent leaving a project till the last day.

thanksgiving was nice despite my sweet potato casserole not making it to the table. leftovers the next day with my chosen family (my friends) was great. we got a driveby carpet installation (ie, not planned) on saturday and on sunday, sean took bella to joe quick's house to watch the game and I got some me time, which I spent at walmart and target. monday, nicole and noah came to hang out and have lunch. and all the while I was worried about this presentation.

which is has to be completed by thursday. the day after tomorrow.

and here I am blogging.

bella is talking up a storm lately, asking for nanas by name, saying night night when I turn off the light, saying bye bye when I pick up my purse, giving her baby doll kisses and saying "ahhh-ahhhhhh" to her while rocking her, and doing alot of mimicking. she thinks all food is "hot" now, and says so, and waits for me to blow on it. I'm also teaching her the word "yucky" so that she won't put random stuff in her mouth. (I almost typed random shit, which would be more fitting, since I once had to call a pediatrician to ask what I should do if my son ingested a fairly large quantity of dog poop...I think I mentioned that before.)

so did I mention today is tuesday? and here I am blogging.

okay. okay. I have to get to work. sigh.

maybe I'll just post about my ingrown toenails.....

I HAVE TO GET TO WORK. okay. okay. alright. bye.


ties that blind

I just read a post and article by nicole that were really quite stirring. rebecca and amanda and katy are all having thanksgiving dinner together out in utah. lonna and ethan are foregoing the relatives to tofurkey it alone. it got me to thinking about where I would want to spend thanksgiving if I could spend it any way I want. if I were to surround myself with the people who I am thankful for and who in turn are thankful for me.

I started writing many paragraphs about how disappointed I am in some of our family members - some of whom (my mom) haven't seen bella more than 5 times in total in her lifetime. but I guess the point of thanksgiving isn't wishing you had more to be thankful for, but being thankful for what you do have. it's not easy for me. I want the type of relationship that nicole talks about with her family, but no one seems to be very interested. so I am very bitter. but I have to put that aside for a day and be thankful.

having spent many thanksgivings and christmas days alone, I can be thankful that today I have 2 places that have invited our family to dinner. knowing several people whose parents have passed away, I can be thankful that mine are still alive and healthy. seeing blogs where women are lamenting their inability to have a child, or having lost pregnancies and children, I can be thankful for my two kids. being friends with a person who is going through a rough separation from his wife, I can be thankful for my marriage and husband. reading about people who have terminal illnesses who aren't able to leave the hospital to have thanksgiving dinner, I can be thankful for my own health. watching people still homeless and poor after hurricanes, I can be thankful that I have my home. hearing that the unemployment rate is going up again, I can be thankful that I have my job. understanding that people are cutting off their fingers and putting them in chili so they can sue wendy's, I can be thankful that I can still type. clicking over to go fug yourself and seeing what some people are wearing these days, I can be thankful that I have my sense of taste. you get the picture.

while it sometimes takes a day of thanks to be on the goddamn calendar for me to think in this way, I am thankful for everyday little things on a daily basis. the beauty of an orange mum, bella's tiny lips, when trent tells a joke, seeing sean give bella a bath, the cat licking the dog's fur, a single perfect oak leaf gently breaking away from a branch and flitting to the ground, the smell of cut grass and burning leaves, back scratchers, the first sip of a freshly opened soda, getting the perfect picture, making someone smile. because these are things that no one can predict or control, I feel like I am even more thankful for them. families make a choice as to whether or not they choose to be involved in each other's lives. sometimes, their choices are disappointing. I find that focusing on my own children and husband and the things immediately surrounding me and being thankful for those things allow me to continue to tolerate the things that make me upset.

I'm not sure what kind of person that makes me. however, I am thankful that I am alive and able to make mistakes and be bitter and have revelations and smell those burning leaves. I guess that's pretty important.



we are BACK. I'm sure you were all just on pins and needles waiting.

anyways, so before I get into the weekend, I want to share that on thursday, I came home as usual. I walked in the front door and through the front room to the baby gate that separates the treacherous stairs from the middle room (family room? living room? I foroget which is which so one is front and one is middle) and saw sean was walking out of the kitchen holding bella's hands as she walked too. and then....he let go. and she continued walking! through the middle room to the gate, arms up, wanting a hug. she can officially walk!! (and then, since sean obviously already knew, I had to tell someone - and so I called nicole. and then in the brief period that it took me to pick up the phone and dial and wait for nicole to answer, I realized that I was not actually as happy as I thought I was. in fact, I had to cut the conversation short so I could go bawl my eyes out. my baby, my last child, can walk. I still don't know how I feel about it.)

and here we go on the magical murder mystery tour. so jim thorpe is a coal mining town. there is a railroad there and a huge lump of anthracite coal in the "town square" as a reminder that this was a thriving coal town at the turn of the century. asa packer was a railroading king, and basically built the town. his mansion still overlooks it and is the mansion that nicole talked about when she and mark and noah went up during the fall foliage festival. the mansion that we stayed in and where the murder mystery took place is the mansion right next to asa packer's - the one he built for his son, harry packer. (funnily, the driving directions concluded with "make a slight right, and we're the second mansion on the left.")

it was way more interactive and involved than I had imagined. which is good, because the weekend wasn't cheap. in a nutshell, the mystery itself was very fact-based. we learned a ton of history about the packers, the town, the way the railroading and coal towns operated, and about many of the other prominent families in town. it was very thorough, with 24 guests participating. the mystery consisted of a 2+ hour briefing on our characters, background, and the actual murder scene. following that scene, we each got character-specific instructions for the next round of "play" which was the following morning after breakfast. that was another 2 hours. after that round, we got new instructions and info, and we broke for the day and reconvened at 6pm, before dinner. after that round, we got our final instructions and reconvened after dinner, where we replayed the murder scene and found out who was guilty. the story revolved around asa packer's final will revision, where he stated that if his eldest daughter mary did not marry by her 40th birthday, his fortune would go to L. and then he died, not elaborating on what L meant. mary hastily found a groom to marry her just before her 40th birthday so that the L revision wouldn't go into effect, but someone murdered her groom.

the only non-factual part of the story was the killing of the groom. everything else was true, though unflattering to the packers. and it was utterly intriguing. people those days were really quite fucked up. it makes me feel a little better about our own dysfunction.

in the end, the killer was none other than me. I wound up solving the murder (about 30 seconds before everyone else realized it). it was really a ton of fun.

the house itself was magnificent. you could look at and touch everything. apart from making several more bathrooms, the rooms were as true to the period as possible. the furnishings downstairs were all period, and the wall coverings (lots of wallpaper) and lighting fixtures were either original or reproduced from originals. the ornate floors were original as were all the door and window moldings, which were stunning. the stained glass windows were original and the owners knew alot about the house itself and its history. they had owned the building for more than 20 years and had saved it from being demolished. though the asa packer mansion had a trust and could not be torn down, the trust didn't extend to the harry packer mansion or the carriage house (which is where we stayed). the mansions across the street belonging to other prominent families had not been spared; in fact, one house was used in the 50s as "fire practice" since the volunteer firefighters saw very little action and loved to set shit on fire to see if they could get the fire to stop. the kemmerer mansion was torched with furnishings, stained glass, and all for this reason.

so the mystery was great, the house was divine, the amount of history I learned was priceless. let's talk about some of the less-wonderful aspects of the weekend.

bob. bob is the owner (along with his wife) and also does the mystery. the first thing we heard bob say when we arrived on friday had multiple uses of the word "shit" in it. I can't remember what he said but I remember thinking it was odd that he cursed so much. this issue only magnified itself as the weekend wore on. I think he managed to insult every minority througout our stay. he almost missed dissing the blacks, but at the very end, he did mention that he had some "black folks" up the weekend before, 4 couples (or 8? I don't remember) and it was strange to him because usually the blacks come up with white chicks but these were all black. and he had to make sure he didn't assign their characters as servants or hired help because they'd bitch and moan.

the funniest instance was when he was explaining to the group that the lowest class citizens of the era were irish. they were the cheap labor, they drank alot, they couldn't read or write, they stunk. he went on and on and on about it. it definitely was in keeping with the time period, but I don't think bob counted on the fact that ONE OF THE PEOPLE IN THE GROUP WAS ACTUALLY FROM IRELAND. oh, how we laughed. wryly.

I do have to say that as the weekend wore on (and as f bombs were dropped, along with any manner of cursing - and you know I can curse with the best of them, but this guy didn't know any of us and he was a goddamn innkeeper) he sort of became like a crazy uncle who says shit and you just look at each other and shake your heads. I'm certain that his ability to make us all feel that way is the only reason why he hasn't had the shit beat out of him yet.

the other glaring complaint was the food. dinner on saturday night is included, and you are told to dress as if going to a fancy restaurant. shirt and tie, that kind of thing. we all dressed accordingly. so you'd expect a really good dinner. the meat dish was chateau briand, which is basically a big ole roast. it was too pink for me (which means it had any pink on it at all) so I skipped it. the rest of the meal consisted of pesto ravioli, scalloped potatoes with sour cream and chives, mixed vegetables, and baby carrots in a butter sauce. now, many of our fellow diners raved about the meal, but I doubt any of them are as familiar with convenience foods as I am. I am the queen of boxed foods. it may make me a bad mother and an unhealthy person, but I do love the stuff. one look at the potatoes and I knew betty crocker was in the hizzouse. sean had one bite and knew. we have these things like once a week. the mixed vegetables? totally the stir fry mix from green giant. you know, the one that comes with baby corn and water chestnuts that you're supposed to cook with soy sauce? and the giant also supplied the carrots in butter sauce. I could then surmise that the ravioli (very dry ravioli) was probably frozen.

breakfast was no different. the bread was very obviously from the store made to look like fresh baked, the potatoes were pre chopped and frozen, and even the bagels were still icy in the center. for god's sake, they couldn't even get fresh bagels.

so the food was decidedly NOT b&b standard, the owner was a kook, but all in all we had a great time.

before we left on sunday, we took a hike up to the cemetary to say sorry to all the packers whose dirty laundry we had aired in one of their own houses. it made the whole experience much more personal to see the gravestones of the people who we were just depicting. we then kept the morose mood rolling by going and seeing harry pottery (yes, I know it's harry potter) before picking up bella.

a busy weekend to be sure - not much relaxing - but loads of fun nonetheless.


side effect

I just realized that the side effect of her not waking up to nurse 50 times a night is...

engorgement. and leakage.

a ride on the flying pig

so this'll be my last post (unless I get really inspired later) until probably tuesday, as this weekend we are going to the poconos for our murder mystery anniversary weekend. I have off tomorrow to take bella and magguillis to my dad and kkkkkkkathy's and then we leave as soon as sean gets home from work, around 3:30ish. I think it's going to be c-c-cold up there, and speaking of cold, you'll notice I refrained from saying that Kathy might put my dog to sleep without me knowing.

let's get to last night. so we put the crib up in our room, as you know. and I've been putting bella in the crib, as you know. well, tuesday night was sort of hellish in that bella went to bed at 10:30, woke up at midnight, woke up again at 2:30, again at 6:30, and again at 7:30 for good. nursing all the while. so I braced myself for a tough night again last night, especially since at 10:30, she had no signs of being tired. in fact, she was wanting me to chase her around and kept making the sign for "eat" and pointing to the cookie crisp.

so I nursed her to sleep, which took about 15 mins, and put her in the crib. her eyes opened. I silently prayed. she fell back to sleep. so I climbed into bed and rather rudely pushed sean away because just for a little while, I wanted to stretch out (which is relative in our bed) and just lay down with no one and nothing touching me. we eventually put the dog on the bed and I fell asleep. I woke up at midnight. nothing going on. so much nothing going on that I thought something must be wrong. but I went back to sleep. a few hours later, I wake up again to nothing. so I check bella to make sure she's still alive, because it's impossible that she's sleeping this long. because this has never, ever happened. so then at 4am, I giddily wake sean up (and this is important, because the man has to be up at 4:30 for work. you know how you hate it when you wake up just before your alarm goes off? well, I gave that present to sean this morning.) and I tell him that bella has not woken up once so far tonight. and I am so giddy that I can't get back to sleep, which worked out because I gave myself a coughing fit that woke her up. I nursed her for 5 minutes, she fell back to sleep, and I put her back in the crib. and she did not wake up again until I had to wake her up at 7:45 to get dressed to leave.

hallefuckingluiah! now if it just happens again tonight.

in other news,

I started the above sentence thinking that if I'm not going to be blogging for a while, I may want to get out all my thoughts now so that I have room for more ideas for blogs in my head, but as I typed that comma, I realized...there's nothing. I got nothing.


happy birthday, flagless

sean just informed me that today is maggie mcallister d'puppy's 4th birthday. happy birthday, sha-puppy!

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you know, sadly, I don't have as many pictures of maggie now as I used to before bella. I used to take so many pictures of the pets that we have whole photo albums (4 of them) devoted to them. and now I had to scan way back to find good ones. and they're not all that good.

the silver lining? I found this old picture of trent:

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somewhere in the middle of AP and CIO

when trent was 2 weeks old, he caught his first cold. he was tiny and I was scared; I was 18 and it was early march, and we had ice storm after ice storm and the roads were impassable. as any mother will tell you, the first cold is the hardest, because you feel like you're not doing anything right and it could be fatal. times that by 10,000. so, instead of keeping him in the cradle, I put trent in bed with me that night. and in a few days, the cold cleared up, but I kept trent in bed with me at night.

I kept trent in bed with me at night until he was 6 years old. partially because for 6 years, we lived in one-bedroom apartments because that's all I could afford. and partially because I liked having him there, and he liked being there. I had no live-in boyfriend (or any boyfriend that could stand to be around trent, but that's a post for another day) and we only had each other. he was comforted by me and I was comforted by him. it was the two of us against the world.

when he was 6, I moved into an apartment with 2 bedrooms and I felt that it was time for him to have his own room. he was entering first grade. he felt the same way. and we've been fine ever since.

when sean and I talked about having a baby, he said that the baby would be sleeping in its own room. none of this co-sleeping. but I loved co-sleeping with trent. however, I didn't know what it would be like sharing my bed with a husband and a baby, so I said that I'd meet him halfway and we'd buy a co-sleeper basinette, which we did.

and then baby bella came. and we kept all her acoutrements in the cosleeper - wipes, diapers, extra pajamas, breast pads, tissues...and the cat loved it too. but there was no baby in the cosleeper. the baby was in our bed. and it's been like that ever since, with neither sean nor I complaining.

but recently, with this tendonitis flaring up and with the realization that bella is a total sweater (meaning she sweats A LOT), I've come to the conclusion that 6 years in our bed is not going to happen. a baby and a big husband and me on a full-sized (not queen, not king) mattress, usually with a dog and a cat, is too much. I sleep on my tiny sliver of bed and I wake up constantly. not to mention that bella is still nursing 2 - 3 times a night simply because my boobs are right there in her face.

so, we dismantled the crib and moved it into our room. it's a good starting point. bella's room is now a playroom, and she's slept in her crib the past 2 nights. she has woken up quite a bit, and I get her back to sleep and put her back in the crib. I've been really tired, but I hope it's all worth it when she can sleep on her own through the night. we'll see how it goes.

tonight, sean and trent are both going to the eagles' monday night game. I get bella all to myself. what will we do first? play with the baby doll and then rip maggie's fur off, or rip maggie's fur off and then play with the baby doll??


knock knock

it's me again.

so I was just reading other, more professional blogs. you know, by people that everyone knows? so here's my internal monologue and my "epiphany." god, I am such a fucking dork.

god. this is funny. why can't I think of shit like this? am I inadequate or are these people, like, superhuman? I wonder if these people actually talk like this. like all witty and shit. I wonder if they stutter. alot of the people who sound good on the internet are really kinda crappy in person. I bet they're crappy. what do I care if they're crappy? I wish I were that witty.

you know, [name withheld] thinks I am really funny. he laughs at me all the time. but he's kind of stupid. anything sounds witty to him.

I should hang out with [name witheld] more often.

I guess the key to sounding real smart and witty is to hang out with people who are stupider than you.

I can be such an asshole in my head.

the short short

the sixers - fun. bella had fun banging on the glass and watching the lights, just like at the flyers game.

the arm - I went to the doctor's yesterday and I have tendonitis. me and nicole are tendonitis twins. only mine is in my forearm. the rx for that? nothing. a wrist brace that was prescribed but "probably won't work since it doesn't cover the part of your arm that actually hurts." well thanks, doc. he said, though, that I could try an ace bandage. excellent.

the baby - she's so animated lately with making faces. and noises. she does this one "meeeum, meeeum, meeum" that is adorable.

the other baby - he said his cell was good, but the other kids used more creative stuff. one made a cell out of a bowl filled with hair gel in which he suspended various things that were supposed to represent cell parts. and one made a cake and decorated the top to look like a cell. I told him that his cell was probably way more detailed. hair gel?

the biggest baby - just kidding, seaner. he's doing well, I think. we haven't connected much this week. I hope over the weekend we can slow down. at least next weekend is our anniversary celebration weekend (a month late) and we're going to participate in a murder. I love killing people.

maybe more later?



not much is going on lately. I need to have an armectomy because I am not ergonomic enough. I seem to be developing something painful with my mouse arm. it's not my wrist per se, it's more of a forearm thing. I don't know. it hurts though. why don't they make mind control mice?

bella's been doing well. slowly, her top teeth are coming in. she's going to look so different with little chiclets up top. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I imagine I'll feel this way when I finally realize that she's growing hair on her head. whenever that'll be. I'll be looking at my little baby and realizing she's a big girl when she finally grows hair on her head at age 15.

trent once again procrastinated on a project, but he got it done in time for today's class. it's a model of an animal cell. I tried to stay out of it and let him sink or swim, but I found myself running to the craft store for extra long straight pins and helping to perfect the golgi apparatus and sawing a gumball in half to make the nucleolus. kids are nuts.

sean's even doing well, though he's constantly upset about his weight. while I want to support him, I can't go back to counting weight watcher points. wait, didn't we have this discussion already? I think we did. my latest attempt to help was to hide all the halloween candy. they'll never find it.

I'm doing okay, though I feel myself slipping into PMS zone. the depression only lasts for a week to 10 days per month (which, by the way, is 1/3 of the month) but it gets pretty intense and I am already feeling tired and hopeless about it. and bella shows no signs of wanting to wean - conversely, she now grabs at my shirt when I get home as if she's been deprived of physical contact her whole life and it all comes down to the moment that I whip it out. so any medicine that could help is going to have to wait.

we're all going to the philadelphia 76ers game tonight at the FU center. (it hasn't been the first union, aka FU, center in a while, but what is better for philly sports than a big FU?) my company has box seats and our whole department is going and taking kids and spouses and whatnot. it should be fun. free food. free drink. people ogling my kids. and I hear there's a basketball game too.

so yeah. arm falling off, depression, animal cells, teeth, dieting and FU. that sums it up nicely.


the downloading

finally, I downloaded all the pictures from both bellaween and noahpalooza.

first, bellaween. this is the best picture I have of bella in her costume. I guess it just didn't occur to me to take pictures of all of us in our full costume, probably because I am an idiot.

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trent looked excellent as hercule poirot, but the mustache was bothering him. however, he still looks dapper with his drink.

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sean's dad bill looked suspiciously like he was in blackface, but I am pretty sure it was just camo paint. my black wig looks shiny.

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bella's cake turned out excellent. I ordered it over the phone, and had no idea what it was going to look like. I just told them to make it cool and halloweeny.

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so on halloween proper, after trick or treating, we gave bella her birthday tastycake.

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and she LOVED it.

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and then there was noahpalooza at nicole and mark's. I didn't get a ton of shots of noah, or of anyone, for that matter. but here's a couple, starting with the view of noah I seemed to have most, as there were so many people vying for his attention.

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everyone was doing little photo shoots with noah, including jen.

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even though you saw this cake on nicole's blog, or was it jen's? anyways, here's another picture.

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and last but not least, my biggest contribution to the party, the "bucket of meat". this was toward the end of the night. or my night, actually, as the night itself wore on till 1:30. I think that the lack of meat in the bucket of meat shows that the bucket was a resounding success. trays of meat may look nice, but no one can resist the bucket. except, of course, all of us who have meat issues. lonna/ethan/nicole/me, I'm looking at you.

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party in the hizzouse

so we partied. sean drank beer, cause he's cool. I drank soda, cause that's how I roll. and we partied hard. way into the night. I'm talking TEN O'CLOCK, people. yeah, you WISH you were me.

noah's party saturday night was way cool. there were tons of people there, including little babies like janette's baby jules, who looks so much like his dad perry that I thought perhaps janette had perry miniaturized. bella had her little tweed skirt on in the hopes of catching noah's eyes, but he was too engrossed with partying. I told her to get used to it.

I am so tired today. maybe I am teething. speaking of, bella FINALLY sprouted her top two teeth. both at the same time. they had been seemingly about to erupt for weeks now. maybe she'll let us get some sleep finally. sunday morning, she was up at like 5am. so I declared that we'd be moving to pillowtown - we went into the living room, put up the gates to lock ourselves in, spread a blanket, got all the pillows off the couch, and let bella play while I shamefully hoped that sean was watching her while I dozed off. when I woke up to move to the couch, sean, bella, maggie (the dog) and kitchen (the cat) were all curled up in various areas of pillowtown, sleeping. awwww.

okay. I really want to get my pictures downloaded tonight. I'll try real hard.


selfless and selfish

the best part about keeping a friend from childhood is getting to see how different that person becomes. when I first met nicole, it was jr. high, and we were both awkward in our own ways. we wrote notes to each other where we talked about how much life sucked sometimes and whether our parents would agree to drive one of us to the other's house, since we lived on opposite sides of the universe, both of us being on the fringes of the school district in opposite directions.

our high school years weren't spent in constant company, but we were close enough. nicole had her own friends and her own thing going on, and that was punctuated by her long, permed blond hair, which I still think looked stunning on her. college days came and while I was in my black hole dealing with trent and what was probably a good bit of PPD, nicole kept in touch from pitt, where she started out. brett and I went out to visit, and she loved showing us the city of pittsburgh. I think she just loved the city, having grown up in the woods.

eventually she moved to philadelphia (into the tiniest apartment I have ever seen in my life, where she was fairly poor; I remember buying her groceries after hearing that she was eating cheerios and peanut butter - again; while she worked at the garden for a mega bitch and was going to temple) and then out to rockville maryland to be with the band. when she told me she was sort of dating (loosely termed) the bassist, I figured it was part and parcel of the band experience. when it was clear that "it's serious", I was excited to welcome mark into the fold.

nicole was a friend to me when I had very few friends, and even when things were distant, she persevered with our friendship, something that I'll always be grateful for. she called even though I didn't, she visited even though I wouldn't. but even though our friendship bloomed (especially when she got me a job at cdnow) and grew, I always felt like there was one area of my life that she and I just couldn't connect. when she said she and mark were talking about marriage, and subsequently children, my heart turned over. none of my friends had children, and this was the one thing that I always felt made me somewhat of an anomaly with our group of friends, which by this time included jen and jon o, theresa, and lots of other folks.

so it was with a bit of selfishness that I longed for nicole and mark to marry and procreate. I wanted a mom friend desperately and who better than nicole? she and I would email each other every day, talking about the most mundane things. like paper towels and what we made for dinner. she was always attentive to my mom stuff, like what sport trent was playing or what he did that was cute, but I longed for commiseration.

when she told me that she and mark (now her husband) were trying to get pregnant, I was thrilled not only for her, but for me. I know it's selfish.

and now, today is noah's first birthday. I know I should be going on and on about how cute noah is and how much he's changed mark and nicole's lives and how they are great parents, but I don't think I have to say all that. they know. people who know them know. today, selfishly again, I wanted to remember the day I made my first and dearest mommy friend. I want to talk about the transformation between a young girl in a turtleneck and vest, to a college girl looking for god, to a rocker with black hair and thrift store clothes, to a working woman running her own household, to a wife with a sweet husband, to a mother.

happy birthday, noah, and happy first mother anniversary, nicole.

Open Letter to a Doula

Sean here. All is well. Bella is 1 and feeling much better after her doctor's visit. Her diaper rash is clearing up, and she's not as cranky as the day she received three needles. She's fine until I administer the antibiotic, though. It pains me to see her in such anguish. Her face gets so red, and she cries so much. She constantly looks around screaming as if she's getting tortured and is waiting for someone to help her. I don't even know how the seemingly short-tempered folks at daycare manage to give it to her, but as long as she gets it and she is unharmed, I like to not think about it. I hate it, and she hates it too.

I just went on a tangent about the downside of giving Amoxicilin to Bella after starting off saying that all is well when I really just wanted to make a post about the doula story. What I have is the letter that I wrote to the owner and founder of the doula service. It paints the clear picture about what happened. I have to warn you, though. It is very long and drawn out because I was very angry and desperate to get my point across. After all, a refund was promised to us, and months had gone by in which we were totally blown off.

[patrice here, just adding a bit for clarity. a doula is sort of like a professional birthing coach. she is supposed to be trained in massage and pain management and is supposed to act as a champion for the parents, ensuring that the birth situation that we want is what we get from the hospital staff. she doesn't deliver the baby like a midwife does, she just helps the mom. except our doula, denise. she showed up an hour before bella was born and made sean leave the hospital 10 minutes after bella was born to go home to get the checkbook and write her a check. looking back at it, you'd think I'd be less angry now than I was then...but I'm actually more angry. anyways.]

Here is the letter:

February 20, 2005

Dear (Doula service owner and founder),

I'm not sure if you are aware, but I have been trying to call you over the past week. The only success I have is connecting to your voicemail. So far, I have not received any calls back from you, which is becoming quite tiresome and frustrating after how long this ordeal has remained unresolved. The ordeal to which I refer is our hiring of (doula) through (doula business) and the lack of a full refund that you offered. It would bring me great relief if I could discuss the matter of the refund with you.

Our days with our baby have been very enjoyable, but there is a lingering sense of discontent that we cannot get over. Since this discontent was created by the less than satisfactory services not performed by (doula), we now expect a refund since you offered it. This was not our initial request when we contacted you to complain about (doula), but since you offered it, we don’t expect anything less. The total sum that we paid for our Doula service was $750, which we are not requesting since $150 of that sum was on account of our mistake of paying (doula) on the side, but I’ll get to that. Overall, what would be acceptable would be if we could bring closure to this matter and put this whole situation behind us.

It is no secret that (doula) did not fulfill her duties. Our expectations were far from met, and yet, we essentially paid full price for a service that was performed at a small fraction of its efficiency. Because of this, you told my wife, Patrice, that we will be receiving a full refund, which should have been for $600. What we weren't expecting was a check for $150, which is the same amount that we gave to (doula) on the side. While we regretted this decision to pay her separately, we were willing to live with our mistake and accept the loss of the $150 if we were to receive our $600 refund. But, instead of getting the $600 back that we paid to your business, you unexpectedly gave us a rebate of $150 with no discussion as to “why only $150?” If you later discovered that giving us $600 was a mistake, then you should not have said anything to us at all. You got our hopes up, and now, we are further annoyed with your business and its practices.

According to your letter, $150 is the "total amount (doula service) profited from our birth Doula services." I'm confused because this seems to be the amount that (doula) profited from us. During your conversation with Patrice, you advised that we cancel our check written to (doula), but at that point, it was already cashed. She pulled one over on you and made some cash on the side with not much work to show for it. Call it an overpriced tip, if you will. Be that as it may, I don’t understand how (doula service's) profit was only $150 when you told Patrice that you stopped payment on the paycheck that was written to (doula). If this was true, than how did you lose any money if (doula) wasn’t paid? You certainly cashed our check for $600, so if (doula's) paycheck was cancelled, didn’t (doula service) profit $600 instead of $150? The check for $150 seems like measly consolation money meant to make up for the extra money that we paid (doula), who went behind your back to make an extra dollar from us, your trusting customer.

It was disgusting that (doula) put so much emphasis on money in our very first meeting. She explained to us that you were not paying her enough and that it would mean a great deal to her if she could take advantage of the cost range set by you, which I think was between $600 and $800. Her idea was to have us pay (doula service) $600 and give her $150. After asking us not to let you in on her secret, she then talked about how she couldn’t wait to go into business for herself. Based on her shady business practices, I can’t imagine her doing very well for herself after you cut her loose. It was appalling to witness such greed and/or desperation in a person, who used the birth of our child as a business opportunity instead of credible employment. With this being our first meeting with her, we weren't sure what to do since we didn't know her. But, we figured that if she was sent by your reputable organization, then she must be alright. We were wrong in thinking that this must be how things get done in the Doula market.

Even with your rebate, we still wound up paying the full price of $600 for your Doula service, which included the following disappointing highlights:

-(Doula) not answering her phone when I initially called her at 3:20am as we were leaving for the hospital.
-(Doula) constantly calling my cell phone throughout the morning for updates on how Patrice was doing. Mind you, we were in the hospital under a lot of labor pain and stress in a place where cell phones are not even permitted to be on. If she was acting so concerned, then why didn’t she stop what she was doing in favor of driving to Lansdale and earning her paycheck? Imagine my humiliation in explaining to the nurse why I was breaking the hospital rules by using a cell phone to talk to my Doula, who should have been in the room for as much of the labor process as possible.
-(Doula) conveniently showing up an hour before Bella was born when she should have been there for at least 7 hours of the labor process as hired. Acquiring $750 for one hour of work rivals that of a professional athlete or Hollywood actor. It just isn’t justifiable.
-(Doula) putting us off in favor of what she had planned that Sunday morning (i.e. church service, more sleep, etc.).
-(Doula) abruptly expressing that she wanted to leave immediately after Bella was born so that "she could get back to church".
-(Doula) suggesting that I go home minutes after Bella was born so that I can get my check book and write two checks (one for [doula service] and one for her personally). After witnessing the delivery of my beautiful daughter into the world, the last thing on my mind was to leave the hospital and the moment to pay her. But she insisted even after I suggested mailing the money. To this suggestion, she huffed and puffed that it was going to take too long to get paid. She neglected to mention that payment was to be submitted during the postpartum interview.
-(Doula) calling two weeks after Bella's birth and suggesting that her postpartum interview can be avoided as long as we tell her, over the phone, that all is well with mother and baby. If the postpartum interview is part of the service that we paid for, then why did she AGAIN find a way around doing what was expected of her? If you didn't know that, then I'm not surprised since she told me that she was going to tell you that she came to our house. In (doula)-fashion, she asked me to play along. “(doula service owner and founder) doesn’t need to know that I didn’t come to the house,” she said. This was the last conversation I had with (doula), and hopefully, the last ever. I was so disgusted with her at the time of the phone call that the thought of her coming to the house again to see Patrice and Bella would be prolonging the haunting of the mistake we made in using (doula service's) services. When she found a way of getting around visiting us again, it was worth it, in my mind, not to see her again. Plus, I thought that it was going to cost us more money if she came out. I had no idea it was part of the service, which was already overpaid.

As you can understand, I am very upset about this whole situation. When Patrice explained it to you, she was delighted to tell me that you seemed very understanding at the time. You told her that we would be receiving a full refund by Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving passed, and the money was nowhere to be found. What we received weeks after Thanksgiving was a portion of something that was supposed to make us feel satisfied and justly compensated for our trouble. Instead, it further irritated an already nagging feeling that we wasted our time, money, and precious moment of Bella's birth by associating with (doula) and your business. Now, when I look back at the best moment of my life, I unfortunately have to also remember (doula's) presence and how gypped I felt that we paid so much for someone who was supposed to make the experience go smoothly. It’s unfair that I feel as if the best thought in my memory is tainted by this nonsense.

Your refund was supposed to help us feel like we didn't lose anything financially (except for the $150 that we were swindled out of by [doula], which was our fault for being so gullible). As you know, labor is a very hectic experience, and your service is intended to reduce the stress and tension, not magnify it. We were expecting to get assistance during the painful and stressful time of labor. Instead, Patrice's and my level of stress was increased, and Patrice's pain level was almost unbearable especially since she previously discussed not having an epidural in favor of (doula's) massage technique. She held out for as long as she could for (doula's) arrival, but due to her absence, she had to resort to an epidural instead. This wasn’t part of the birthing plan that we previously discussed. Ironically, the epidural didn't work anyway. This wasn't (doula's) fault, but that situation could have been avoided if (doula) was there for Patrice's pain the entire time as planned.

Can you please give me one good reason why you went back on your offer of a full refund? Why do you feel like we are not entitled to it? Based on what you know about our experience with (doula service), I'm very interested to hear what you have to say. You can either reply to my email, but I prefer a phone call so that we can put this horrible experience behind us without further delay. We feel like fools when we tell people how much we paid for a Doula service and what we received in return. I don't want to file complaints with the Doula Association or spread the word to people in the market for a Doula that (doula service) is not the way to go. Least of all, we don’t want to pursue this matter legally, but we will do all of the aforementioned if we do not receive our customer satisfaction.

I heard that you are a very nice woman, (doula service owner and founder), and I don't mean for this all to seem like an attack on you or your integrity. I'm sure you run a legitimate business that mistakenly let a greedy, deceptive, inefficient, and incompetent Doula slip through its cracks. We know that you are not personally responsible for our grief, but with the way this is being dragged out, you are not helping the situation the way we thought you were capable. I thought that you were going to help us get over this per your conversation with Patrice, but instead, this situation still breathes, and I'd like it to be over. We expect a resolution.


Sean Milligan

What eventually wound up happening is the doula service's business manager made a phone call to us a week later stating that a full refund was not "financially feasible for a company of such a small size." He also said that the owner and founder made a poor business decision in saying that we're getting a full refund, and that he had the right to override her. I should have given him the Peter Parker line, "I'm sorry. I missed the part where that was my problem." I mean, really. If the owner and founer of the business says it's alright, where does this guy get off telling us that he cancelled out her decision? Probably because the owner and founder had second thoughts, and instead of telling us personally, she used him to hide behind. I was at the end of my rope, so I handed the phone to Patrice, and she let them have it. Long story short, they gave us 3 more payments a month apart for $150 (except for the last payment, which they forgot to send...I had to call them to remind them...assholes). End of story (and post; thanks for reading).


bellaween and other new words

we had such a great time on sunday at bellaween. when I first got to the banquet room at the sons of italy, I was really quite depressed. instead of the black tablecloths and orange cloth napkins that I thought we were getting, there were white tablecloths and orange and black paper napkins. the room looked stark. the lights were really bright. after I decorated, the room still looked a little bare and a little disappointing to me. I went home and put on my witch costume and when I returned, there were already quite a few guests. they had dimmed the lights and put on the music that we brought and things looked much, much better.

as I had hoped, many people came in costume. nicole and mark were visitors to jurassic park with their newly captured dinosaur, noah. my brother roy, who is a mechanic, and my sister in law carol, who is a dog breeder, dressed up as each other. and shockingly (but excellently) my brother ed allowed my nephew zachary to dress up as skipper to my sister in law nicole's barbie. seeing a little kid in drag is fun...and when the family is hardcore born again christian, it's even better. my mom brought her costume and left it in the car and instead came as "a person in jeans". way to go. my dad said he was dressed as an old man. my stepmother kkkathy let me know that for the occassion she wore her push up bra, so draw your own conclusions there. sean's mom dressed as a desert soldier and sean's dad dressed as a jungle soldier. it's not hard to figure out that they have a son in the military. even sean's grandmother, mojam, dressed up in a phillies hat and a red mask. hey, it's better than nothing. and, of course, not to disappoint, jen and jon came as venus and serena williams. seeing jon in a sports bra - well, words are not adequate here.

of course, our little family was all dressed up too, with bella being the baby witch, me being the mommy witch, and sean being frankenstein. trent was hercule poirot as planned and of course everyone thought he was charlie chaplin. he just went with it after a while. though I am proud of him for being something that no one else really knew and not being self conscious about it.

we had cake (after sean's microphoned announcement that said "fire BAAAAAD, cake GOOOOOOOD") and food and everyone seemed to have a good time, even if my stepmother commented on how the music was terrible. (not everyone likes ozzy and the misfits, what can I say. this is what happens when sean makes the playlist.)

halloween was successful as well. at the last minute, some of trent's friends invited him out to trick or treat, which was nice. bella had her very own tastycake (tastycakes are important in our family) and LOVED it, and earlier in the day, sean had taken her to pick out her own birthday present. it was a plastic dog from playskool that she absolutely loves. he also got her the TMBG here come the ABCs dvd, which she watched for all of 10 minutes. sean and I were quite entertained by it, though, and actually rewound some of it to watch again.

tuesday, I took bella to the doctor for her 1 year checkup. she had been a little snotty but wasn't really cranky and had no fever, but it turns out that both ears are infected. so we're on the amoxicillin. she fucking hates that stuff and I can't blame her. it's vile. she also got her flu shot and a chicken pox vaccine and had some blood drawn for routine tests. you can imagine how cheerful she was after all that. we also learned that she's cleared for takeoff for whole milk (which we buy from merrymead farms, where we went to the fall festival, because their milk has no growth hormones) and all table food. and they want us to forgoe the bottle in favor of sippy cups. we're transitioning to milk in bottles first and then will tackle the cups, which shouldn't be a big issue, except for the fact that she loves to play with the cups and doesn't always drink from them.

we also found out that she's about 18 and a half pounds. she's gained one pound since her 9 month checkup. I've started to worry. because that's what moms do. I know it's going to be no big deal, but now I feel kind of desperate when I feed her. even when she signs "all done" I try to cram more food in her mouth. it's aggravating and nerve wracking.

to end this on a good note, she's started signing more and saying more words really clearly. she can now sign all done, more, eat, and her own version of no. she says baby really clearly, as well as hi, bye-bye, and my favorite: poopy. clear as a bell. when she's pooping, I usually say "are you pooping? are you poopy now?" she did it last night and I asked her if she was poopy, and she said "POO-PEEEEE! POOPY! POOPY!" you gotta love it.