Captain America

I met Captain America on my second day of college. Classes hadn't even started yet. I got invited to someone's house for movies, and ended up sitting next to him. He told me if I got thirsty he had some Pepsi I could have. He and his roommates gave me a ride back to campus, and we all stayed up late talking. At some point I realized my keys were in my dorm room, and the dorm systems were now locked. I called my roommate and left a few messages, and when she got in she said she'd meet me to open the door. I remember overhearing a conversation between Captain America and his roommate over who would walk me home, and CA saying, "No. I'll do it." Well. So he walked me to my dorm door, and my poor sleepy roommate let me in. I hoped it wouldn't put a damper on our roomie relationship, since we'd known each other for all of a day.

The next day I called over to his apartment to see if they would show me around so I could figure out where my classes were. I completely mispronounced his name. But they still helped me find my classes. Captain America and I hung out quite a lot that week. By the end of it we were dating. A year later we were engaged. Ten months after that we got married, and that poor sleepy roommate was in the wedding (I don't think she was sleepy anymore).

Today we've been married for 12 years. Twelve. We were such babies when we got married. We've got two, almost three beautiful girls. We've made a couple of big moves (big for us). We've both had a few jobs. We've figured out everything about being grown-ups together. Fourteen years after meeting him, there's still no one who makes me laugh harder. And there's no one I'd rather figure out life with.

So Captain America, I love you, and I'm thankful for you. I'm thankful for everything these 12 years have brought us, and for every year God sees fit to give us. I think we should aim for 75. We can totally live to our late 90s, right?


It's the final countdown...

I'm sure you're all as sick of this pregnancy thing as I am, at this point. Good news! Only 4 weeks left (I hope).

Yesterday it would seem I forgot I was pregnant at all, and thought I could whip through Sam's Club really quickly. You know, grab one thing from every corner of the store. Just really quickly. Zoom, zoom. By the time I got to the checkout line (did I mention it was 5 p.m.?) to stand and wait for eternity, I was feeling it. The baby was going nuts with the kicking. I was getting some braxton-hicks. I had to just stand for a moment and hold on to my stomach. For a minute I thought, "Shoot, what if someone notices me and thinks I'm going into labor?" And then I thought, "Sweet! Maybe I'll be able to move ahead in line!" To no avail. I don't know if you're aware, but when we're waiting in line to check out anywhere, we are all completely oblivious of each other.

I get a little punchy in that last month (it's probably the whole 9 - but particularly in the last one). I hope it isn't just me. When I was pregnant with Natalie I was working with a couple college-age guys. We had three pregnancies at one time in our office. Our office of about 10 people. Those boys learned more than they wanted to learn. I admit, on more than one occasion I enjoyed stopping a conversation saying something like, "Hang on - contraction," and watching the clock. I knew I wasn't in labor. But it was good practice for timing contractions, right? And the panic on their faces was just precious...

So I'm kind of looking forward to my hospital tour later today. Maybe someone will think I'm in labor. Plus I'm hoping that knowing a little more what I can expect when I get there will CALM ME DOWN. I have never gone into labor on my own, and it petrifies me. PETRIFIES. I'm all about pulling out our datebooks and finding a good day for baby havin'. Thursdays or Fridays are nice. A little whiff of some pitocin, and off I go. Having my water break at Target? Not so high on that. Going into labor at 2 a.m. and rounding up childcare? No thank you. And then getting sent home with false labor? Not so much. Walking around my house deciding if I'm in labor? I'd rather not.

Here's to hoping I can sway the doctor to my way of thinking. I know - good luck to me.



A couple of weeks ago I felt a little nesting freak out. Much to Captain America's dismay, the mood has passed. Poor guy. I remember with Ella & Natalie he was so excited for me to nest. So hopeful that I would throw out all my clutter in the middle of the night while the carpets dried from shampooing. No such luck.

And now, it's August. It's too hot to clean things. It's too hot to do much of anything but put my feet up and read a book with a bowl of ice cream. Yesterday, however, the humidity really broke. For the first time since May, we spent 24 hours without air conditioning. IT WAS LOVELY. I think I said so every 15 minutes or so. "This is so nice." "This is just so nice."

I think I have my own brand of nesting: avoidance. Now that I can still breathe when I step outside, I'd like to take a road trip. Something tells me it wouldn't really be that fun. Not in real life. Probably I'd swell up like a giant balloon after an hour in the car. I'd have to stop every 30 minutes to pee. I'd be even more uncomfortable not sleeping in a different bed. I'd be irritated that we all had to go to bed at 8:30 sharing some hotel room with the girls. Where they wouldn't sleep either. They'd get tired & cranky and beg to swim in the pool. I'd have to don a too-small maternity swimsuit, and look like a potato sausage bursting out of the casing.

But the ideal version in my head seems delightful. Some sort of late-summer adventure, the last with there just being 4 of us. MEMORIES. Something on the North Shore of Lake Superior, where we'd sit with ice cream in one hand and toss rocks into the lake with the other. After feeding half our donuts to the seagulls that morning, ignoring the locals silently cursing us for feeding those stinking, shrieking birds (I can say that - I've been one of the locals). Eating wild raspberries while we hike the trails to various waterfalls. Sitting on uncomfortable rocks watching the lake, and feeling your entire body just slow down.

With only about 5 weeks to go til my due date, I'm guessing my ideal version couldn't make it into reality. I mean, sometimes I need a nap because taking a shower has worn me out. But the whole avoidance thing sounds so nice. Right now I'd much rather load up the van with some luggage than with boxes for Goodwill.

Maybe I'll just have another bowl of ice cream, for now.


O Pioneer

I've been reading pioneer girl fiction again. This time it was a Lauraine Snelling book. I often enjoy her because they take place in North Dakota, on land and in weather with which I am familiar. So it's easy for me to imagine. I'm so pregnant. Easy is good.

I always start the pioneer girl fiction a tinge envious. Life was so simple. You had clear cut jobs to do, and the motivation was survival. It was easy to rely on God and give Him the proper thanks for success, because you could just as easily lose it all in a fire, storm or drought as the neighbor down the river did. It was probably easier to live your life in focus; without tv, internet and ipods vying for your attention. When the fanciest mode of transportation had to be fed & watered.

And then, inevitably, someone in the book will give birth. And I will end every sentence I read with "Thank you, Jesus, for modern medicine. And air conditioning." I've been trying to temper my "wah, wah, I'm ginormously pregnant in sauna-like humidity" by thinking of my pioneer sisters. Giving birth in the soddy. While Husband milked the cows, because cows must be milked. When you were lucky if a neighbor wife could come help you, but if it was threshing season, you might just be lucky to have an 11-yr-old around to catch the baby while everyone else worked all hours just to get the wheat up before it rained.

No air conditioning. No drugs. No doctor (unless you were very lucky). No hospital monitors keeping track of you and the baby. No nurse bringing you peanut butter toast at 3 a.m. and taking the baby so you could sleep. NO AIR CONDITIONING. Just your 12-yr-old niece and some willow bark tea.

My pioneer sisters got married when the house was finished, not when the $10K dress could be altered and the DJ was available. But the barn came first. If they were ginormously pregnant through the summer, they still probably wore a long skirt and long-sleeves. Not only for fashion (and the modesty it demanded), but because there was work to be done in the fields and gardens, for which your skin should be covered. Livestock to be fed. Bread to make from scratch. Preserves to be put up and meat to be cured for a very, very long and harsh winter. Dinner to make for the threshing crew. Clothes to sew for the baby.

So I lay on my bed with an assortment of pillows, under my ceiling fan with the air conditioning blasting. It's the middle of the day, but I feel just a little tired and like it might be nice to put my feet up. And I read a chapter or two about the pioneer woman. Slaving away from dusk til dawn for the good of her family. While I sip some iced tea or lemonade with ice cubes that appear magically in my freezer. And keep tabs on the design jobs coming into email on my Blackberry. And I'll think about where we can maybe go out to eat, because it's too hot to cook and I just don't feel like it.

Somehow, I'll still feel a little hint of envy for her life. While I roll over and adjust my pillows to get more comfortable, and better feel the air conditioning.


Pending Pending

Some friends of ours recently had a baby and while they had the first name picked out, they weren't quite settled on the middle. So for a little while on Facebook she was "Autumn Pending." At the rate we're going, we may just have Pending Pending.

It's not that we aren't looking. We just aren't finding. I have read, front to back, the baby girl names in THREE baby name books. THREE. I'm having a bit of trouble. Anything I see with any excitement Captain America meets with a "meh." And vice versa. And really, there's nothing either of us likes enough to put it into negotiations.

It's such a challenge, because we were so sure about Ella & Natalie. I'd wanted a Natalie my whole life, but around month 6 with Ella it just wasn't right. So we opted for Ella as our girl name. We found out Natalie was a girl at 20 weeks, and from that moment she was Natalie. This child is a mystery. She's had three due dates. She has no name. Not that she needs it right now, what with not being born and everything. But eventually, she will be born.

My children come from long lines of people who don't use their given names (too many to list, really). For some reason, I then feel completely pressured to come up with a name that will be used in all stages of life.

So, let me amuse you with my freakishly precise baby naming criteria (all about personal taste, I take no issue with other people going against these):

  1. No names in the Top 15 popular baby names (heck, or the Top 20-50 if I could help it).
  2. Preferably nothing that can also be used for a boy.
  3. I generally am attracted to older names. But not really old. More like Ava than Hepzibah.
  4. Nothing longer than 7 letters (slightly scarred over watching poor Natalie learn to write her name).
  5. Nothing with a bizarre meaning that I'd hate to saddle the kid with for life.
  6. Nothing that sounds like one of the existing names in our house (no Isabella, since we have an Ella, not Madeline since we'd have Maddy & Nattie, etc).
  7. I'd love to avoid something she will have to spell for people her entire life.
  8. It should kind of "go" with Ella & Natalie.
  9. Nothing that easily lends itself to a mean nickname.
  10. Preferably nothing that the teacher looks at and wonders "How on earth do I pronounce that?"
  11. Nothing sports related (been there, done that, thank you, Captain America).
  12. Must keep in mind what her initials will spell (preferably nothing).
  13. Nothing that first brings to mind some sort of famous person. Like Hillary.
  14. Something that works on a small child as easily as it does a 40-yr-old doctor or CEO, or a grandma. Not that my child needs to be a doctor, CEO, or a grandma, but I want her to have options and be taken seriously. If she wants to be taken seriously.
  15. No names that put a lot of expectations on her, like Patience. I mean, I'd love for her to be patient, but it would stink to hear all the time "With a name like Patience, you'd think you could wait a little longer for dinner," or something.
Honestly, I don't even think this is everything, but it's what I remember right now. Which, given my morning out in the humidity is impressive. And you can see how I've put myself in a bit of a pickle with all that choosiness. Something is going to have to give, and I'm ok with that. I'm just hoping a name comes along that I love enough to say it's worth breaking some criteria.


Not that I've ever been a morning person...

I'm well into trimester #3 now (OH MY GOODNESS, IT'S AUGUST, AND BABY COULD EASILY COME NEXT MONTH). It seems mornings are my biggest challenge. I have a lot of trouble dragging myself out of bed. Not like I've ever been a morning fan. Ask my parents. And then ask them why Dad thought it was a good idea to wake me up by saying, "Sarah, it's time to spring out of bed like a newborn gazelle." Especially when I didn't think high school was anything worth springing out of bed for in the first place. Certainly not like a newborn gazelle.


Seems this trimester is sleepier than the rest. I spend the entire morning yawning. Sometimes I give up and lay down for 20 minutes or so. I got my biggest taste of it on our Big Trip. Part of the Big Water Festival is a 5 & 10K race. Don't jump to conclusions - I'd never run it myself. But my aunt & uncle usually come up from North Carolina to run in it and then threaten the nieces with uber sweaty hugs. Family people that we are, we usually go down to watch the runners come in. And hope to avoid the sweaty hugs. Maybe while we eat some mini-donuts. This year I was standing about, when I started to get a little dizzy. Then I started to get really dizzy. Then I sat down and couldn't really lift my head up off the picnic table. While trying to remember where the garbage cans were for when I lost my breakfast. If I could walk to them, which I didn't think I could do. Never losing sight of the fact that all the people around me had just run 10K, and here I was "I need to lay down..." and feeling silly.

Small town to the rescue, yet again. My sister called her husband at home, and he came down to the park to pick us up. While we waited, she grabbed a high school friend, who is now a doctor, to accompany us to the other side of the park until he got there. After a few glasses of water and a little lie down, I felt fine again.

Needless to say, the mornings are not my friend.


More lessons from the Big Trip

Don't get me wrong, we've loved where we're living. It has treated us very well. And I'm almost used to having Wisconsin plates on the vehicles. Almost.

There are just certain things that only happen in a small town. Some of them are fabulous. While we were in town on the Big Trip, I made sure to get our mini-van in at the local dealer to check over. Because they know me there. And I know them. When I dropped it off for the oil change, etc, I said, "Oh, can you check the thing you just fixed on my mom's car? She thinks it's doing the same thing." She said sure. She knew exactly what I was talking about. I didn't need to say who I was, or who my mom was, or what kind of car she has, or what the problem had been. Not unlike the last time I was there, when the service person asked if I was going to wait there and I said I'd go to my sister's instead, and then they called me at her house when it was done. I didn't say who my sister was. They know.

After a few fixes, they determined I also needed a couple of tires. So the next morning I took the car out to the tire place in town. The owner came out, took a walk around it and said, "Yep. We'll put two new ones on the front and rotate the front to the back." Done. No tire shopping. I remember going out there with Captain America a few years ago, when the current owner's dad was still alive and running it. "Do we need to pick tires out?" {chuckle} "No. You won't get the most expensive, but not the cheapest either. Something middle of the road." Oh. Ok. It's the same story now. They'll just take care of it, and you'll be perfectly happy with what you get. That's why we go there.

I had all sorts of other lovely small town moments while we were there. Parents of Ella's school friends stopped to say hi to her when she wasn't even with me. A preschool friend of Natalie's stopped by my parents' house, because they knew we were staying there. I got to see friends from high school, three of us largely pregnant.

I'm glad we are where we are, but I'm also glad to be from where I'm from.