Friday, July 28, 2006

Fistulas, Friends, Food, and Fun

Here follows a report on our weekend “Up North”*, written jointly by Em, Brooke, Jen and Cait. It is worth noting that we had employed a complex and democratic process in which Sanna chose the first writer by drawing straws (and putting them in her mouth), thus choosing Emilin (no favoritism there) but Jen is a control freak and took over, so she’s writing first. - Jen

J: We’ve been discussing and planning this trip for a while, and I was really looking forward to it – but also, if truth must be told, a little nervous. Going away (really away) with three people we’ve known online and met a couple of (quite fun) times briefly was a leap of faith. What if they thought we weren’t cool enough? What if we just didn’t click for 4 days?

E: What if, by chance, no fewer than ten of my relatives, one surgical biopsy, two weddings, and a graduation party interfered with the joy that was to be our only vacation since 2003? We concluded that, come hell or high water, we could make it work. What were our other choices? Friday evening, after a long week, a short operation, and an even shorter recovery period, Jen, Cait, and Natalie arrived at our home. Let the vacation begin!

C: Jen picked up a rental minivan while Natalie and I remained trapped in familyville. As soon as we were able to escape, we drove to Emilin and Brooke’s, introduced them to Natalie, talked through some logistics, washed some diapers, and then crashed. The real fun began the next morning when Sanna and Natalie said their first hellos. Sanna chatted, bubbled, and tested Natalie’s toes to see how firmly they were attached. Natalie drooled and grinned, and occasionally added a word or two. The moms watched, played, and then remembered that they were supposed to be packing and loading the car if they were ever going to make it out of town.

B: Stories of loading the van and all the extra things we needed to do which pushed back our departure are not interesting to, well, anyone, so I’ll skip that part except to say that the van had New Jersey plates which I found odd. We talked and laughed (note: we did this a lot) and stopped for food (this too). When we got to the house, Sanna pulled Natalie’s socks off, Jen marveled at the amount of alcohol in the fridge, and the adults stayed up too late talking.

J: The next morning was a perfect vacation morning: sleeping in (to the extent possible with a 3-month-old and a 5-month-old in the house), lounging in pajamas, rolling over, reading, chewing on toes and toys, and bird watching and identification. Then we loaded the girls back into the van and set off in search of sights to see – or ice cream, whichever came first. To our delight, we quickly discovered an excellent ice cream parlor and fortified ourselves for the next leg of our journey to Lake Michigan.

E: The State of Michigan has established many scenic overlooks along highways for the purpose of endearing people to its sights. Some scenic overlooks are more of an attraction than others—some are simply an extra wide shoulder, and others include picnic tables, drinking fountains, latrines, and those binoculars on stands that cost a quarter. We pulled over at one of the wide shoulder scenic overlooks first, and there, to our horror, was a convertible containing a man and a woman making out! The nerve of those people, flaunting their sexuality! There were children in our car! Worse yet, the car had Nevada plates! …All that aside, it was at the next overlook, one with all the features previously mentioned, that I made and missed several phone calls to and from the hospital where my surgery had taken place two days earlier.

C: After climbing enough stairs to clearly establish how out of shape we are, especially when wearing children, we had a fabulous view of the lake. And cell phone reception from Wisconsin. Natalie carved** her name into the railing, and we moved on. We drove on to get a closer look at the lake. The girls slept through most of our initial walking on the beach, so we entertained ourselves by walking on the pier and trying to determine what creature created the bizarre hairy white splotches on it. When the girls awoke, we dipped their toes in the lake. By then we were getting hungry, so we left in search of sustenance.

B: We ate dinner at a little restaurant near the lake, although we did decline their special. After dinner we dropped Jen, Cait, and Natalie off at the house and headed to the ER. There we waited while a boy with a head injury, a girl with a fractured skull, two men who’d been in a boating accident, and one prisoner were treated. The ER doc called the same people we’d been in (and out of) touch with all day and told us to go home and call them in the morning. On the plus side, we did establish that there is indeed a Culver’s in Michigan.

J: The three of us had a quiet evening at the house (though I am EXCEEDINGLY capable of envisioning Very Bad Things and consequently stayed up very late, but not quite late enough, waiting for the NTM family to return). Given that all of the adults had been up past midnight, and the girls were up later than usual, we all slept late. This was a bit unfortunate, as we’d planned to get up early to take the diapers to the laundromat. (It is a very good thing if you are a cloth-diapering family to go on vacation with another cloth-diapering family, as they will not regard you as insane for wanting to spend a couple of your precious few hours watching undergarments spin around.) But more on that later. The babies were remarkable, allowing us (er, Brooke) to cook and eat a delicious breakfast before heading off on the day’s van odyssey.

E: After establishing that we did not need to launder diapers until the evening, we packed them into the back of the van in a delightful variety of used-diaper vessels (a trash bag and a few different sizes and styles of wet bags). This little trip we took, you know, was last weekend. In July. In the northern hemisphere. In a vehicle with windows. The greenhouse effect, whether or not you believe it is happening to the planet Earth, happens to minivans. We were rank. So we went to a world-renowned chocolatier! The people inside the chocolate shop were very understanding, all things considered, and they gave us samples and showed us around. I lactated in (but not on!) their driveway, and we bought many different kinds of truffles. On our way out, Cait called a family friend, and the chocolatier and her daughter gave us directions into town so we could properly get there.

C: We drove down a long, windy road past hippies camping in a meadow to visit Grandma Mary. She’s not my grandma, but everyone calls her that. She’s the grandma dyke in my mom’s circle of friends who moved to the woods of Northern Michigan several years back. In these years, she, her son, and her son’s partner have built an absolutely breathtaking homestead. I can’t come up with the words to describe the beauty of the trees, the structures, and the sense of serenity, so I won’t even try. Rejuvenated by the visit, we strapped the girls back into their seats, drove back out past the hippies, and headed for Sleeping Bear.

B: We stopped at a roadside cherry stand where all purchases are on the honor system and a big selling point is that the fruit is washed. We snacked on cherries in the van and drove on the Scenic Drive which featured 12 km (7.4 miles) of drive and 12 points of scenic. We walked out along the boardwalk and saw the actual Sleeping Bear Sand Dune. We also were implored to love God by people who don’t seem to care so much about the preservation of creation. Then we returned to the car where Jen and Em read through the brochure (featuring the metric system) rapidly because the girls were losing patience with all this into/out of the carseat business. The van was not getting any fresher.

J: After the girls ate, which did wonders to restore their patience, the moms – particularly the nursing ones – were hungry, so we headed to Glen Something***, home of the Cherry Republic. We snacked our way around the Republic (mmmm cherry barbeque sauce mmmmm) after which Cait was no longer desperate for dinner, but rather thinking she could eat sometime soon. The nursing moms, however, were still ravenous. Thusly, we looked for a restaurant, but everyone else in Glen Something was similarly hungry so the best we could do was an outside table next to a LOUD band in. the. rain. And poor Sanna’s moms would not let her eat.

J:****After dinner, and after the rain cleared up and the annoying band stopped playing, we loaded ourselves back into the van and left in search of cell-phone reception, laundry, and Culver’s, not necessarily in that order. The girls were, on the whole, marvelous travelers, but teeny (and not so teeny) babies have their limits. And they hit them. Loudly. (If you listen very carefully, you can hear two babies, one mom singing, one mom shushing a baby and one mom shushing the singing mom. You cannot hear the mom videotaping.)

E:***** On our way into Traverse City, land of Laundromats, Culver’s, and cell towers, I called my voicemail, only to learn that the breast clinic cannot be relied upon to do anything right (I should have removed the damn thing myself with a pen knife or a plastic straw), and they called the wrong phone number. Furthermore, they left an inadequate message a mere eleven hours earlier. For Pete’s sake. Already annoyed, I tried to work my magic on the dude at the Laundromat who insisted that we couldn’t possibly put in even one little load, even if we swore up and down to be gone before he closed. “If I let you do it, I’d have to let everyone do it, and then I’d have two hundred people outside those doors.” Right. Surely. What could I have been thinking? When he told Jen to “go buy some Pampers,” I threatened to run back in there and leak out of the fistula at him. Brooke went into the grocery store where there was a display (a display! (or, alternately, a display?)) of phone books, only after ensuring that Jen and Cait had me properly wrangled.

C: We decided to skip the diaper washing in favor of ice cream and sleep. We were getting used to the smell, and besides, it keeps car-jackers away. Yeah. ‘Cause there’s a lot of car-jackers Up North. Ummm…the smell keeps the mosquitoes away? OK, fine. We’re lazy bums who will do anything to ensure that we make it to Culver’s before it closes. But we were doing it for Moxie. And it was goooood. (Seriously, Moxie, we saw the sign for Culver’s on our way up and discussed it, and you, all weekend. But I digress.)

B: Breakfast the next morning consisted of corn on the cob, tomatoes and basil, parmesan cheese, three pieces of toast, yogurt, berries, cherries, and a partial bowl of cereal. You know, the food we didn’t want to lug home. We piled all our stuff in the van and headed home. On the way we ate lots of chocolate. We’d also washed the diapers, so the van smelled much better. There was much rapid unpacking of the van so it could be returned on time (or at least close). And then vacation was over. Only not really because we got back together to eat more chocolate and compose the longest blog post ever. We’re trying to decide where to go next summer and/or what city to all move to.

* “Up North” for those of you, like me (Jen), who are not from Michigan, means Northern Michigan. Not that little sticky-out extra bit of Michigan, but the part that would be represented by the back of your hand and your fingers. Michiganders, you see, have this disease, where they stick out a hand in greeting and say, “Where ya from?” and then point to a part of their hand, usually near the thumb.

** No, not really. Natalie is skilled, but not that skilled, and if she were, we certainly wouldn't encourage it. Who do you think we are?

***My picky-ass Michigan editors tell me (Jen) it’s actually called “Glen Arbor,” which I can’t tell apart from Ann Arbor. What-ever.

****Yes, it’s not supposed to be my turn. Right of Eminent Butt in the Typing Chair. So There.

*****Finally. Sheesh.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Didn't Think It Would Happen, Did You?

These are WAY overdue, and I'm not quite finished yet (Rebecca, yours are in the works, I promise!) but I feel that I cannot blog about our vacation until I absolve myself of my interview obligations. Remember to post the interview rules and ask for volunteers when you answer. Have fun!

For Jenny
1. You've already worn a great many occupational hats in this life, and are headed toward a new one. If you had to resume one of your previous careers, which would you pick and why?
2. What is your favorite thing to cook?
3. Have Ezra's experiences with gender changed the way you think of your own gender (and if so, how)?
4. What animal best represents you?
5. Describe your ideal vacation.

Now Blondie
1. How are things going with the GLBT center?
2. What has been the most interesting thing that has happened to you since joining the marriage rights suit?
3. Have you met anyone famous on an Olivia trip?
4. Do you knit in the summer or take a break for the heat? If you're knitting, what are you working on?
5. How did you discover Zrazy? What's your favorite song?

Calliope's Up:
1. What's one thing you really miss about Hollywood?
2. What have you learned from taking care of your Grandmother that you hope to use in parenting?
3. How has Photo Friday affected your life?
4. So how much was your purse worth with the super stash from Nurse P?
5. What would you put in a time capsule to be opened in 150 years?

Ash's Turn
1. How did you find our blog and what makes you read it?
2. What was the best moment of your wedding?
3. What stereotype about teen moms would you like to get rid of?
4. What's the funniest thing your daughter has done lately?
5. What is your dream job?

Thanks for your patience, folks! Hope you enjoy the questions. I am looking forward to the answers (whenever you can get to them...).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Jen's Sister and Bri!

In honor of your birthday, Natalie rolled over back to front. It was no easy feat, but she worked and worked and worked (and her moms strained several muscles in sympathy as they watched) and finally, finally made it over. Let the childproofing begin.

Google Birthday to Bri

So I thought I'd get you a virtual present for your birthday by doing a little Google Image shopping. It was a tough call.

Afraid this one's not allowed for you in the TWW...

...but who the hell wants to drink Pabst anyway?

I saw this one and thought, that's perfect! EVERYONE wants a headless princess for her birthday!


Then I found this - it's perfect

(though of course it needs a side of Coffee Haagen Dazs!)

But in the end, I decided to go with this one.

Because you KNOW it's what we will all be giving you, every morning from now through at least Tuesday.
Happy StatCounting! :)

Hope your birthday is glorious, my friend. And that they just keep getting better from here on out.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Motown is melting. Heat mirages rise from the streets, making the buildings look like a drab Dali landscape. The streets are deserted. People flock to air conditioning or sprawl in dark rooms, positioned just so in front of the fan. Sweat runs down your face, trickles into the small of your back, collects behind your knees. Detroit. Is. Hot.

The past two days of unrelenting heat have brought home to me the fact that I am spoiled, utterly and totally, when it comes to heat. I've never lived without air conditioning, and I am a big whiny baby when I am hot. It's a wonder Cait hasn't divorced me yet. (Oh, yeah, we're not legally married.) Poor Natalie, who has never spent more than a few hours away from AC, is knocked flat. She's nursing hourly just for the liquid. Cait is doing fine and kindly refraining from giving me too much grief. Today Cait's mom and her partner (who have a window unit in their room) took pity on us, buying a second AC unit for the guest room. I'm looking forward with GREAT anticipation to sleeping tonight. It may not work too well, as it's been jerry-rigged, but it should help.

I'd also forgotten how BIG time zones are, and how much that affects when the sun sets. Both Saturday night, when we stopped in Pittsburgh at Cait's grandma's, and last night, we were stunned to discover how late it was. We'd been tricked by the later sunsets into thinking it was earlier.

Despite the heat mirages and odd tricks of the sun, we're having a great trip. Natalie has met great-grandmas, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, dogs, cats, birds and friends galore, and has charmed them all. We're headed into the wilds of Michigan with friends later in the week, and hope to escape the heat in the cool, dark woods (where the sun will set even later, I believe!). Until then, you can find us in the nearest movie theater. Or bookstore. Or cafe. As long as it has AC.

*Although right now as she is reading over my shoulder, she commented, "You know, I survived many years here without air. At least one of them in the attic**."

**Yes, the attic. The guest room at Cait's mom's is the attic, and that's where we are staying. Bleah. (It's a lovely room, but heat rises and all that, you know?)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sea You Later

So, we've returned from the beach in time to turn around and leave again. Don't know if we'll be able to check in from the road or not. Wish us screamless driving OK? In exchange we'll leave you with a few scenes from the beach.

Catching the Wave

Cheeks and Mommy at the Beach

Napping in the Shade

Bathing, Bubbling Beauty

Friday, July 14, 2006

So Dangerous You'll Have to Sign a Waiver...

On average, I get my hair cut once a year. Right before school starts, I get it cut, so that I look decent for the beginning of school. Then it grows out through various stages of shag until I can't stand it anymore. When it gets to the point where it's always in a ponytail, I get it cut again. Wash, rinse, repeat. I like to look decent, but I don't have time, energy, or money to put that much into it. So, today I followed Summer's advice. My stylist was nice, and did a great job. Natalie was in heaven with the bright lights, shiny things, and lots of black and white. Yes, you have to sign a waiver saying you won't sue if the student injures you, but where else can you get a decent $18 haircut these days? I may upgrade to having my hair cut twice a year.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cue Elton*

Social buttefly that she is, Natalie already has many baby friends. (And MANY more that we can't link to 'cause their parents don't have blogs! Fix that already, willya?) She's met so many babies that are older and or bigger than she, and it's always fun to see what's in store for us in the coming months and years. (Laughing! Rolling! Sitting up! Putting in the binky all by herself! We can't wait...)

Today, though, things were a bit different. We took Natalie to meet our friends' new baby today. Ava was born on Friday and made quite an entrance, all 9 lbs. 4 oz. of her! The tables were turned and WE had the older baby showing off all the big baby tricks. (Smiling! Babbling! Standing in our laps! And shrieking, unfortunately.) We also got to pay back some karmic debts by bringing them food and running a couple of errands for them.

Tomorrow, we head off to the beach for a couple of days with my mom, and after that, we're off to Michigan to meet Cait's family and let Natalie get to meet another cool baby friend. Our Internet access will be spotty for at least the next week, so apologies in advance for minimal posting.**

*The first person to correctly identify the allusion in the title will win a prize, AddProb style. Loyal readers will know that means: yum!
**As if we'd been posting a lot lately! Ha! But I am indeed working on questions for the interviewees. Consider it my vacation assignment.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Just What I Did Not Want...

At the end of a lovely birthday morning, in which we ate waffles and Jen gave me a Moby Wrap to better carry our 15 pounder, we got a phone call. It was one of our credit card companies letting us know that someone had fraudulently requested a new credit card sent to a different address. They were able to give a frightening amount of identifying information, but were acting weird enough and missing just enough info to raise some red flags. We have no idea how they got our information. We're pretty careful not to put too much identifying information out on the blog or anywhere else, and are generally good about shredding things that we don't want to end up in the wrong hands. We've alerted the necessary people, and hopefully things will be OK. However, if you notice photos*, posts or other things being cropped, removed, or otherwise rearranged, it's just us trying to keep the bad guys away. Ick.

And now we're heading off to the pool, where we hope to return to our previously scheduled birthday fun.

*No, we don't think the Natalie Pays the Bills photo series was responsible--it didn't feature anything even remotely related to the fraud, but we did take it down so as not to take further chances. Sigh. I hate being paranoid.

The Candles on Last Year's Cake Must Have Been GOOD

What a difference a year makes. It's Cait's birthday today (29) and I just have this feeling that it may be the happiest birthday she's ever had. Happy Birthday, Love, from both of your sweeties!

Best Present Ever

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Whole-y Cow

On Friday, we got a fax from the adoption agency doing the homestudy for Cait's second-parent adoption. A draft of the homestudy is ready, and they sent us a review copy. It seems pretty standard (once you get past the ridiculous premise that Cait needs to adopt her own child, of course) with a lot of cookie-cutter language. One section describes our neighborhood and the community environs, reading in part "a farmer's market, and a Whole Foods* Grocery Store are [nearby]." This was the ONLY entity identified by name in the ENTIRE report.

Yes, folks, we're Yuppie enough to adopt a kid.

*emphasis mine