« January 2004 | Main | March 2004 »

February 01, 2004

The Baby Farm

Fabulous Babe and I both work full time. At this point neither of us are planning on staying home with Junior. Our only option at this point is to look to daycare.

Friday afternoon we made our first foray into examining daycare. We visited the local franchise of one of the national daycare establishments: The Baby Farm.

The woman we met was friendly. (She has a child interred there we discovered.) We saw some parents coming and going and then exchanged weird and slightly strange greetings with the staff. We witnessed the sea of white cribs and walked through the day of what Junior would experience were we to begin bringing him there. (Lights always on, music playing in the background, etc.) The tour took about 30 minutes.

The cost? $245 a week. Go ahead and gasp, I did.

The Racetrack neighbors have previously mentioned splitting the cost of a Nanny. I'm 50/50 either way. The Baby Farm has a slightly Orwellian feel to it but is impressively regulated by the state. I'm unsure of a Nanny's licensing and regulation requirements but think it would be a far more intimate experience for the kids.

Fabulous Babe and I both were raised at home. Maybe that is what gives me jitters. My fears aren't rational so much as they are trying to find the best solution to our situation.

Posted by Jim at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

"Another great Italian restaurant? Twist my arm."

Saturday started with the two of us going to get my car from the dealer. The problem was that the arctic like conditions locally had caused my power steering fluid to explode inside my engine compartment. (No I had never heard of it happening either.) Everything was under warranty but it was still a pain in the backside. They towed it in on Friday and was ready by Saturday morning. Fabulous Babe dropped me off then headed to the gym.

I went to a local model train show but didn't have the time to spend that I had planned. I bought a couple of small things but left early. (I didn't feel good.) I headed home to get some more errands out of the way, actually beating Fabulous Babe home.

FB showed up about 10 minutes after I got there. After lunch she settled into her couch/nest and passed out. I did some reading and took a nap as well.

We ate dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Minnesota. Mrs. Minnesota works with FB and she and her husband have a son who's 8 months old. We met them at their house and then went to dinner at another of what seems to be the endless great Italian restaurants in the Twin Cities. The food was great but the portions were a bit small. (I had to have two desserts. Had to I tell you.) We traded pregnancy stories and listened to stories of what awaited us.

After dinner we headed back to their house and played with their son. (He seemed to like being pushed across the countertop while I made engine revving noises.) As my dad's mom says "He's as cute as a bugs ear" and smiles with that wonderful cheer that only a toddler can manage. We realized it was both late and snowing so we headed home.

Posted by Jim at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

Going Toastal

We're all settled in bed.

The covers are up. Fabulous Babe is lying on her side breathing softly as I hunker down. Her most favorite guilty pleasure after "The Real World", "Survivor", is wrapping up. It's just about time to go nitey night.

"I'm hungry."


"Didn't you hear that? That's my stomach. Can you go make me some toast?"


"Sure thing."

Downstairs I go. The cats are roaming around and give me that "Ha ha! You had to get out of the warm bed to come down here and make toast!" look.

I stand in the kitchen standing on the cool wood floor as the Toaster Oven does its thing. Pretty soon it *dings* and I'm on my way back upstairs lugging the plate of toasty goodness. (Cinnamon, sugar, butter and a dash of honey.)

FB sits up in bed and after the handoff begins woofing it down.


"No problem."

"I didn't mean to go toastal."

How can I be annoyed with a woman that clever?

Posted by Jim at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

Weird Guilt.

I got a call from my friend The Astronomer the other night.

He had called around Christmas and my attempts to reach him since had been unsuccessful. As luck would have it he caught me first.

We were chatting and catching up when I mentioned Fabulous Babe's pregnancy like he knew. I instantly remembered that I hadn't had a chance to tell him yet. There were a couple of reasons: I had spoken to him preciously when FB was pregnant but it was still early in the pregnancy. The other reason?

He's in the middle of the final chapter of the book of his marriage. There aren't any kids involved but its still an unpleasant experience.

I was in their wedding in Baltimore. Some of the highlights: I walked his grandmother in law into the wedding and someone okayed spike heels for this southern matriarch for soggy Maryland turf. Every step I had to lever her out to the sucking sound of mud underfoot. Meanwhile his soon to be wife, now soon to be ex-wife, got tanked before the ceremony and by the time the reception started they needed the Hubble just to see her in orbit around Pluto.

With far more evidence as time has passed I'm now of the opinion, shared by most of their friends, that she's a self centered, emotionally crippled, manipulative witch.

But I digress.

So I hadn't said anything and let slip. What does he say?

"I'm so happy for you. The last I saw you were single, lonely and working and just living by yourself in your apartment. Then you moved to Canada and met Fabulous Babe. You fell in love and you got married. You followed her to Seattle and now the Twin Cities. You have a great house and now you're having a child and I couldn't be happier for the two of you. I want that and thought it was going to happen. It still will just a little later than I expected."

I was speechless at first. I stammered through an admission of feeling guilty. That of the two of us I thought he would have been the one to have kids first and that with everything going on in his life I hadn't told him. He just shut me up and said nice things about me, FB and Junior.

I still felt guilty. How did I ever wind up with friends this great?

So here's my resolution:

I had some serious surgery in Baltimore. When I needed a ride from the hospital his (then) wife gave me a ride back to my apartment while he drove my car. Before we got in her new Eclipse she emphasized that I was not to be sick in her new car. I remember spending the entire ride praying through clinched teeth that I wasn't sick. Head swathed in bandages I clutched a plastic bag with all my might and when we got to the apartment I stumbled / ran to the bathroom and threw up like there was no tomorrow. I remember between my gasping for breath she thanked me and then left.

He was so decent on the phone the other night that if they ever develop time travel I'm going to go back and be sick in her car. I told him this Friday night and he laughed. A lot.

It's the least I can do for a friend.


Posted by Jim at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

Getting Pregnant Vol. 8

"Let's go."


"We have work to do."

"I thought we took care of this last night."

"Yes we did. This is simply increasing the odds in our favor."

Posted by Jim at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2004

Way Cool Moms Vol 1.

Women, already one of the most amazing things in the universe, possess that unique ability to transform themselves into Moms. Every once in a while they upgrade themselves beyond Mom status to become Way Cool Moms. Moms who distinguish themselves from the pack. Moms who just do something so nifty and unusual it redefines who they are.

When I was going to school the local college library had a woman who worked part time helping out. She was married with two children roughly my age. She was polite and well read and always quick to smile. Of all the librarians she was easily the friendliest and most helpful in the place.

I left for University and didn't make it back to the college library until I needed to find a book for some research. It was holiday break and the library was pretty slow. The same staff was all there and I simply assumed she was either on break or off that day while I was puttering around the stacks. Then she walked into the library and all hell broke loose.

She was wearing a stewardess uniform with matching bag.

Turns out that in 1970 she had been a stewardess for Delta or United. (Can't remember which.) She had had the job for a few years but had fallen in love and had then gotten engaged. When this happened she was asked to leave her position. Annoyed but with little recourse she left.

2 years later a class action suit was filed on behalf of the women wronged by the airline(s). Receiving a letter in the mail she signed on and promptly forgot about it.

Flash forward 24 years later. An overnight envelope arrives at her house bearing news of the terms of settlement for the lawsuit. Participants could settle for, if memory serves, one of the following: a small amount of money, some tickets or a career and pension.

That's right. The airlines agreed that any of the stewardess wrongly fired could come back and take all the training classes. If they passed they could then have their old jobs back with full credit for the years worked and years missed towards their pensions. In her case a training period and two years of work would result in a pension worth the result of a full 30 year career.

None of us, library staff included, had known about her previous career. Seeing her there beaming from ear to ear in her uniform with little hat it was easy to see. (As a lark she had adopted the same hairstyle as when she was originally a stewardess, now a silver haired version of That Girl.) She had taken leave from the library to complete the training. She hadn't told anyone so that if she had not passed no one would be the wiser. (Only her husband had known.) Having passed with top grades she had earned her wings she was now home for the holidays and had only stopped by to turn in her resignation.

Can you imagine the kids coming home for Christmas only to find out that Mom was leaving to catch up with her dream of being a flight attendant?

"Hi kids. Nice to see you. I'm off for Greece!"

I always thought it was one of the finest examples of karmic balance I had ever heard of. If anything it was great evidence of nice people finishing first.

I have no idea where she is now. All I know is that in the pantheon of Way Cool Moms there should be a special statue devoted to the mom who may have had to put the dream on hold but never let it die.

Posted by Jim at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2004

"Stick with yellow and green for now."

Fabulous Babe is feeling sore this week. She's pretty confident that Junior is going through another growth spurt. It hasn't been accompanied by the Great White like feeding frenzy from a couple of weeks ago but there's obviously something happening.

We walked across the street and visited with the Racetrack neighbors tonight. They're having their house painted and it's coming along nicely. They're leaving the baby's room alone for now.

The big news: They had an ultrasound today. While all bets are off for a while the tech told them it looks like they are having a girl. Woo hoo! The tech made sure to tell them to not buy anything non-returnable yet. While the most obvious indicator was absent from view that doesn't mean that it might not be lurking out of frame.

It's late and I'm tired. Time to evict the cats from my spot in the bed and get some sleep.

Nitey night.

Posted by Jim at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2004

"And there's room for me where?"

Fabulous Babe had another long week.

As days went by she kept getting more and more tired. Making things worse she wasn't able to sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time the last few nights. By weeks end she was done. When she came home tonight she had a bath and passed out.

I'm trying to do my part. I've mastered sleeping on the edge of the bed. The cats, equally co-operative, have taken to sleeping on the foot of the bed around my feet.

A friend of FB's recommended a "body pillow" for better rest. She came home with one tonight and its in the bed next to her. I have no idea if it will work but I'm all for anything that helps.

Posted by Jim at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2004

It's like Thanksgiving!

Q.) How do you know when the baby is almost due?

A.) When your wife's belly button pops out like a turkey when it's done.


Posted by Jim at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday fun.

Busy day.

I woke up early with the body pillow wedged tightly in my ass and Aida laying on my pillow by my head. (Tosca, her spot taken up by the new pillow, had given up and wandered off in the middle of the night.) Fabulous Babe was sleeping soundly. I gave up on sleeping in and rolled out of bed.

First chore of the day was a diagnosis of the snowblower. The orange beast of snow tossing hasn't worked as well as it should and a call with the company gave me some ideas. After 45 minutes spent with the manual I finally reverse engineered what I needed and got it fixed. It only took me 20 minutes to scrape our entire drive clear. I was throwing snow 20-30 feet and surrounded by a billowing cloud of ice crystals. It was glorious.

FB and I headed off to lunch after I cleaned up. After eating we went to a furniture store to have a look at cribs. Amazingly, it seems that Babies R Us have completely taken over the business from traditional furniture stores.

FB had wanted to go look at wallpaper for the baby's room at some point. Today she was feeling up to it and off we went. We went to Home Depot first and she paged through book after book looking for the perfect pastel combinations. I saw some neat patterns that were shot down with "The Look" and figured that I might stand a chance of the Pirate Ship pattern later on in Junior's life.

Not finding what we were looking for there we headed to ANOTHER store specializing in wall decorations. More of the same. We saw some things I wasn't too offended by and eventually FB was feeling tired and Hell hath no fury like standing between a pregnant woman and her nap.

I bought FB a copy of "Under the Tuscan Sun" for a mushy night of estrogen cinema. In yet another sign that I married the right woman she would rather watch the NHL talent competition tonight than the movie. She so rules.

Tomorrow morning we have tickets to the Volunteer concert at the Ice Palace. ("You were suckered into spending hours in the freezing cold. Maybe this will make it up to you.") The Barenaked Ladies are playing so that should be good fun.

We're going to be easy to spot. We'll be wearing our Maple Leafs Jerseys.

Woo hoo!

Posted by Jim at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2004

Barenaked Ladies perform! x 5

It's Sunday, eh!

Sunday morning saw us putting our best Canadian feet forward. We got up and got dressed for the Barenaked Ladies "concert" at the Ice Palace.

Let's see: NHL All Star Game, Barenaked Ladies, etc. That can only mean one thing: we wear the Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys!

That's right. We looked like a scary pair of identical clothes wearing dorks. Me in my Captain's jersey, (Go Mats!) and Fabulous Babe in her jersey and matching Roots hat. (That she's had since before Roots hats became cool thank you very much.) We looked so Canadian we were actually accused of BEING Canadian at one point. (By a chain smoking lesbian no less.)

When we got to the Ice Palace the crowd was pretty mixed. Volunteers from all walks were there but we managed to get about 10 feet from the stage before the show started.

Let me explain that it wasn't really a show. It was them performing the same intro piece 5 times until the wonks at ABC were satisfied that they had what they needed for footage.

It was neat to see them perform though and they are a really tight band. They weren't expecting the cold though and it was one of the few times I watched a Canadian complain about the cold. (Lol!) They would immediately thrust their hands back in their pockets as soon as the cameras were off and hop around the stage in an attempt to stay warm.

The best part was singing along with the song that got trimmed from the American broadcast of the NHL game. Yup, ABC denied Americans the benefits of a great rendition of Stompin' Tom Connors "The Good Old Hockey Game."

I got pretty misty singing along at the top of my lungs while bewildered Minnesotans looked at FB and I. If only Don Cherry had been there instead of the mullet sporting announcer I could have died happy. Alas some things were not meant to be.


None the less I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't include the lyrics. Here you go:

Hello out there, we're on the air
It's Hockey night tonight
The tension grows, the whistle blows
And the puck goes down the ice

The goalie jumps and the players bump
The fans all go insane
The home crowd roars, Bobby scores
At the good old Hockey game

Oh! The good old Hockey game
Is the best game you can name
And the best game you can name
Is the good old Hockey game!

Second period
Where players dash with skates a flash
The home team trails behind
But they grab the puck and go bursting up
And they're down across the line

They storm the crease like bumble bees
They travel like a burning plane
We see them slide the puck inside
It's a one-one hockey game

Oh! The good old Hockey game
Is the best game you can name
And the best game you can name
Is the good old Hockey game!

Third period, last game of the playoffs too!
Oh take me where the hockey players
Face-off down the rink
And the Stanley Cup is all filled up
For the champs who win the drink

Now the final flick of a hockey stick
And on one gigantic screen
Well the puck is in - the home team wins
That good old hockey game

Oh! The good old Hockey game
Is the best game you can name
And the best game you can name
Is the good old Hockey game!

Copyright Stompin' Tom Connors.

5 times! Even though it was getting a little thin to hear "One Week" for the 5th time I never got tired of singing the above chorus.

After that we went by the store, bought a couple of pucks and headed home to watch the game.

Posted by Jim at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

Chez Racetrack

The Racetrack neighbors had us over for dinner Sunday night.

It was a chance to eat and see their their newly painted home. (They went all out with sweeping deep blue and warm earthtones.) They had been waiting to paint and decided to act now before the summer and their impending arrival.

Dinner went quick and was delicious. (Lasagna with cheesecake. I gained about 2 pounds.) The Scrabble game afterwards tested the ability of the tired and pregnant. I won but only due to luck of the tiles.

At one point I mentioned that be it girl or boy Junior will probably play hockey. (How you can escape it in MN is beyond me.) It was then pointed out to me how expensive kids playing hockey can be. How much time is involved.

I thought about that long and hard last night while I was trying to fall asleep. It's not that I want Junior to grow up to be the next Domi. (Especially if Junior is a girl.) It's not that I want to change into one of those psychotic Hockey parents. I just want to Junior to have a normal life and with us living here the odds are it will involve hockey.

Although it would be kinda cool to have a son on the Maple Leafs. Might get some good seats occasionally. ;)

It's not that I want to raise a jock of some kind. I just think sports are important to character and the life lessons are huge.

Hmmm. Mrs. Canadian Hotness, FB's friend in Ontario, used to teach power skating.

Better stop there. Might have to go buy the kid some skates.

Posted by Jim at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

More Guilt.

During the All Star Game I got a call from a good friend of mine in Canada. (There's a weird Canadian theme running through Sunday.) He was watching the game and he figured I would be watching it.

I hadn't talked to him before Christmas so I clued him in on Junior. He was really excited and happy for us.

During the conversation he mentioned that they been expecting but lost the baby a month or so ago. (He and his wife already have a beautiful little girl.) He seemed ok but it was still weird. By my figuring they were due around the same time as FB. Ugh.

Today I had to get my dentist appointment moved around due to the impending ultrasound on Wednesday. My regular dental tech had just gotten pregnant when we were just starting to try. When I called today I asked how she was. After some quiet answers from the staff on the phone I finally realized that things hadn't gone well.

"Did things with the baby go badly?"

"Very badly."

After I heard how badly, beyond your worst nightmares as expectant parents badly, it was like a sucker punch. You don't know what to say but you feel like you should say something. You want to do something but that is as pointless as trying to hold back the tide.

I know for every bad story the odds favor more good stories. It just doesn't make the bad stories any easier to hear.

Posted by Jim at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

Who are you?

Every once in a while I have a look at the site traffic coming into the website.

In a way it's the only feedback I have. (Since you my dearest readers aren't using any of the comments sections very much at all.) It tells me how often you visit and how long you stay. It tells me a bit about where you work and where you are. (I've racked my brain to figure out who I know in Europe.)

When someone links to here I see a pretty big spike in visits. (Tip of the hat to you.) Same too when I seem to strike a chord with the search engine spiders. (As I type this I am entry 6 on a search of "Barenaked Ladies Ice Palace" on Google.) It may be the closest thing I ever have to fame.

The original purpose and intent of the site was to serve as a means of updating our far flung friends and family. At this point I'm pretty sure the regular readership has now outgrown that by leaps and bounds. The "regulars" are from all parts now and I've almost given up trying to figure out if I know you or not. I'm just glad you stopped by. The more the merrier so don't hesitate to pass the link around.

If you have the time I'll ask some questions: How did you find the site? What do you like? What can I do to make this better? Feel free to email me or post something in the space below.


Posted by Jim at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2004

Ultrasound part 2.

Well it's officially Week 20-21. The time has come to find out how things are coming along. 10 fingers? 10 toes? All will be revealed courtesy of a Phillips ultrasound machine.

It's been weird the last week or so counting down to today. Our hint at what to expect came courtesy of our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Racetrack. They had a nifty series of printouts that showed the baby's face and some other features. After that night time really started to crawl. It seemed like today was never going to get here.

I met Fabulous Babe at the hospital. When I got there she was standing and filling out paperwork. I also noticed she was doing the one legged "I have to go!" hopping dance. Turns out she had downed a huge bottle of water for the ultrasound and was now suffering the consequences. I started chuckling as soon as I saw her.

"It's NOT funny."

I stood corrected.

After that we had another 5 minutes of details to go over and finally got to go back to the Ultrasound department. After another 5 minutes of waiting FB was sitting on the edge of her seat. When we got to go back to the room with the machinery she was in agony. The technician told her to go to the bathroom and when FB left I struck my deal.

"I want to know what it is but she doesn't."

"Ok. We'll see what we get."

FB came back and soon she was up on the table. A half a pint of slightly warmed gel and we were off to the races. The technician turned the machine onto FB's stomach and...

My heart almost stopped.

Right there on the screen was our baby. A little tiny person. Not the blob from the last time that seemed to kick and fuss a little. This time Junior was moving around and waving his or her hands.

Part of you wants to reach through the monitor and just touch what that black and white image represents. It's like x-ray vision you dreamed about when you were a kid but with a reward unlike any you ever thought of. A payoff bigger than any lottery.

You don't think about politics or religion or college educations. You don't think about skinned knees or bedtime stories, diapers or learners permits. It's not a "life" it's YOUR CHILD. Your son or daughter.

You think that somehow you had a hand in making that little bit of life in front of you. That everything your parents and grandparents and great grandparents struggled and worked for has paid off. That your life is now going to be radically different in a strange a beautiful way. You head races as you think about all this implies.

All of this occurs in about 10 seconds by the way.

You're quickly brought back down to earth by the "tour" of your baby. A tour you want more than anything else to be uneventful. A tour whose soul purpose is to look for defects.

It starts with the heart. You count the chambers of the heart as it beats in front of your eyes. You watch as your baby's brain is laid bare in a search for abnormality. I'm holding FB's hand as measurements are taken and compared. You see one hand and then another appear before your eyes like a miniscule skeletal prop as you count fingers. You look at the umbilical cord and pray there are no internal organs protruding from the stomach.

It goes on this way for almost a half an hour. Each "thing" measured is another milestone of normality. After what seems like an eternity there isn't an inch of your baby you haven't seen. That's when you let go of your breath. That's when you can say it.

Junior is perfectly normal. As healthy as can be.

Freeze frames capture each view. Your child is spelled out with the precision of a 5th grade Kodak slide presentation. The head. The hands. The feet. (Which it kept placing against FB's bladder.) Everything in slightly out of tune fuzzy detail like television before cable.

FB had to get up and go to the bathroom a couple of times during the session. The technician and I traded notes. We knocked it off when she returned. FB was never the wiser.

When FB got back we would continue the scanning but it was mostly recreational. By end of the hour we had prints of some of the better scans. They may not be ready for American Photographer but they're fine by me. I put one up over my desk at work. All I could think was that the next 5 months are going to pass pretty slowly. The next 18 years after that way will pass way too quickly.

As for the sex you have to wait until June.

I made a promise.

Posted by Jim at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

"Hey! You! Change the channel!"

Fabulous Babe is starting to feel Junior kicking.

She thought she felt it a few days ago but it's getting to be more pronounced.

Tonight when I came upstairs I found her plotting her Oscar party (PJ's are manditory) and watching ER. I sat down next to her and she rubbed her stomach.

"It's kicking a lot more."


"Yeah. I'm noticing it a lot more."

All I can figure is that somehow through the layers of skin and fluid the kid has had enough exposure to ER to drive it over the edge. With my luck it's probably asking for BBC America.

Posted by Jim at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2004

Refrigerator Madness.

We moved here two years ago in March. In that time our house has become our home. We love everything about it.

Everything but the refrigerator.

This cursed piece of Sears engineering began pooping out on us shortly AFTER the warranty ran out. After numerous service calls we got Sears to agree to replace if we had ANY more problems.

Saturday it died again.


I woke Saturday to the cry of "my juice is warm" which is never a good thing.

After 3 and a half hours of work I got it working again. I only had to throw out about a quarter of what was inside of it.

My call with the company went well today. I explained that my pregnant wife wasn't very happy about losing her juice and smoothie fixings. I asked them if they had any idea what living with an angry pregnant woman was like.

They promised a replacement immediately.

I think someone on the other side of the phone must be a dad.

Posted by Jim at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

"There it goes again!"

Junior is getting restless.

In a little under a week the little tyke is starting to move around a lot more than previously. Kicking, shifting, moving around, etc. It's almost like Junior has decided that since we had a peek there needs to be some sort of floorshow nightly.

This leads to evenings like tonight:

"There it is."

"There it is again."

"Oh. There it is."

"There it goes again."

It won't win an Oscar for best screenwriting. It's more like listening to someone who's just discovered they can do something weird but cool. Like rolling their tongue or hanging spoons off their nose.

I try to nod in appreciation but can honestly say that I will never know what it's going to be like. The closest I have to compare to what Fabulous Babe is talking about is the gas I get after eating a whole pizza by myself.

So I listen and smile. Sometimes I tease. Mostly I just sit here and think about how strange the changes must be that FB is going through.

Until recently the morning sickness and wretched misery of physical changes have hidden what has really been going on. As Junior grows that changes. Your fear of becoming attached to something that might not happen gradually falls to the wayside. Instead you begin to grow more and more attached to this untouchable object that you have a unique connection with.

You begin to love something that you have never seen but one day will.

Posted by Jim at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

To nerd or not to nerd.

I'm wrestling with a fairly serious issue:
How much exposure to all things nerdy do I allow Junior to have?

In my old job I can say that I have seen the absolute dregs of what humanity can become with unchecked forays into the world of obsessive compulsive nerd behavior. People that went unwashed for days. People whose social skills were non-existant.

These are the sorts of people who take Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, Star Wars, Comic Books, Roleplaying games, toy soldiers, model trains, computer games and hundreds of other things way to far. You may not see it often but when you do it leaves a lasting impression.

Before anyone howls in protest I know you can take anything too far these days. There are people in just as much need of help over their gambling, sports, lawncare and their cars as the things I have talked about above. For whatever reason the above just seem to draw more than fair share.

I know some of this is concern of mine is driven by a desire to have a child with a long, successful, fruitful and joyful life. I also know that they will be drawn to what they like in ways that I will never try to control and never should. I'm not finding the right words here so I'll try to cover the bases.

I want Junior to realize that reality has so much more to offer than what is served up these days for entertainment. That Gibbon's history of Rome is made all the better by the fact that real men and women lived the tapestry of rich history that his books represent. That the modern day comics and paperbacks are pale shadows of the original myths our ancestors told huddled around campfires.

I know that sounds lofty. I know that children have to grow up at their own pace. While I know that I've indulged in some of the above I would like to think that my experiences have been fairly well balanced. I know when to paint toy soldiers and when to try to kiss my wife, much to her annoyance. I know when to run trains and when to do dishes. I loved Star Trek as a 3rd grader but find the re-runs to be painful beyond measure now.

I can't begin to guess what "normal" will be 15 years from now. I know I'll be called all sorts of things under Juniors breath and that I will be accused of not understanding how things are.

I just pray the kid figures out early on that reading beats the hell out of watching any day of the week.

Posted by Jim at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

Punching cattle

Busy week here at the homestead.

Fabulous Babe has been punching cattle at work pretty late the last few days. (She was at work from 7:30 in the morning until almost 11:00 last night.) She's let herself get run down and is now sick with a head cold. The talking in her sleep is almost legendary. Things went well today with what she was working on so there's some reward.

FB feels so bad that when she crawled into bed tonight I gave her a clue about her upcoming birthday surprise. No details per se. Just a ray of hope that will give her a ray of light at the end of the tunnel:

"It involves travel." "You may need some new clothes."

That's it.

I've been pretty busy with work this week as well. It was a long day today that gave me a headache so bad I could hardly see when I got home. Friday promises to be pretty eventful. Tomorrow I go to the dentist.

Aida and Tosca, our cats, are being pretty chatty. They wander through the house squawking and squeeking and chirping to no one in particular. Odds are its because the level of attention for polecats has declined below the acceptable levels. Tough nuggies.

I did lean down and put my ear to FB's tummy tonight. (A ridiculous mental picture.) I listened but only heard gurgling and complaints that my ear was cold.

Go figure.

It was almost 40+ degrees here today. It's supposed to snow another 6 inches over the weekend but who cares. The weather can do whatever it wants. We here on the frozen midwest tundra got the notice today from the landlord: Keep your chin up citizen. Spring is on the way.

I have things to write up for the site but bear with me, it might be another day or so before I can do it. With FB's work schedule and illness I'm doing more than my normal double duty of work around here.

Posted by Jim at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2004

Punching Cattle Part 2

It hasn't been the most restful of weekends.

Fabulous Babe worked all weekend. When I say all weekend I mean the majority of her waking hours were spent at work. As in Saturday she worked from 8 in the morning to 1:30 at night.

She's passed out now. She got home tonight around 7:00 and started trying to relax.

She said the baby was kicking a lot. Odds are Junior was trying to get across the message I was thinking: "You're sick! You need your rest!"

I did a lot of the things I have been needing some free time to tackle. Our bedroom toilet no longer wakes me at 5:30 with an annoying trickle. My train layout saw some modest progress. Mostly things that I needed some lonely time to tackle. I also ran food up to the FB's workplace. She was pretty drained.

It's Monday tomorrow. I wish FB had another day but it's more of the same tomorrow.

Posted by Jim at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

"Jim! I'm Pregnant!"

You may remember where I decided we needed to take a new approach to this conception business.

About a week after that I noticed Fabulous Babe is glaring at me while drinking a lot of cranberry juice. It was that "You did this to me!" look. The kind that causes milk to spoil if it passes between the eyeballs and their target. A look that says "Urinary Tract Infection" and is reserved for the cause.

"Sorry Hon" I said with great sheepishness.

That Sunday afternoon we headed off to lunch at Famous Dave's. During lunch FB complained she wasn't feeling any better. We decided to head over to the medical clinic that our provider has.

We get there and after waiting around a while we finally meet the doctor. Turns out he's 80+ and only works weekends. He asks us the symptoms. We explain we are trying to have a baby. He doesn't make the honeymooner jokes. They leave to run some tests.

After sitting there for a while I have to go to the bathroom. As I leave the mens room I am looking around and suddenly FB runs up to me.

"Jim! I'm pregnant!" (In a voice more surprised than anything else.)

"Well that's what we were shooting for right?"

Turns out that when the doctor came back in he confirmed the UTI and then added a "Well you're also pregnant" on the end of it.

FB, being an accountant by trade, immediately called for an audit.

"Are you sure?"

The doctor with a great deal of practice then showed her the results and ended the debate.

That was it. That's how I missed it. Some of the most important news and the doctor couldn't even wait until I was in the room. Instead I found out standing in the doorway of the mens room.

It doesn't matter. The news is what was important. Junior was on the way.

Posted by Jim at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

About our cats

When we were stuck in the tiny little apartment we first lived in together Fabulous Babe began a subtle campaign to convince me that we needed a cat. It went something like this: "I want a cat!"

I, being allergic, was not really keen on this idea. None the less men do strange things too make the women they love happy. I found myself paging through picture after picture of orphans and waifs that needed a home. Sure enough I soon found a kitten that was described as "playful" and "into everything" named Aida. Figuring this would meet the need I went ahead and called the number listed.

The woman who was fostering the litter said that the kitten was litter trained and now eating solid food and was available for instant adoption. However it was explained to me that Aida and her sister were the last two kittens in the litter and they didn?t want to separate them. If I wanted Aida I was going to have to take Tosca.

Having "SUCKER" tattooed on my forehead I went from no cats to two cats in one phone call.

They were born the weekend we were married which is ironic. They've also grown into a couple of characters. Aida is trouble at every turn and "talks" constantly. Tosca is the more affectionate of the two and is so laid back you would think she?s in a coma.

They're in for a big change in June. I'm not sure how to prepare them. I've read that you bring a blanket home from the hospital before you bring the baby home so they get to know the scent. We'll see.

I do know that every time they wake me in the middle of the night I just think to myself "Keep it up. My revenge is but months away."

Posted by Jim at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)

"The right sort of girl"

I was walking through Target the other day and saw a father with two little girls. (Ages 5 + 4 at a guess.) The youngest was pointing to a display and said:

"Daddy Daddy! It's him! It's him!"


She crouched into a hunch and then pointed at the box and did a spot on imitation of Gollum: "My precious! My precious!"

I laughed so hard the youngest got embarrassed, turned red and hid around the corner. Her father was laughing as hard as I was. I complimented her to him and he said it was her favorite movie.

Posted by Jim at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

Sleep with the occasional lack of oxygen

Junior is either the next Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers.

I say this because Junior was practicing his or her dance steps the other night and driving Fabulous Babe up the wall.

We both turned in early last night to catch up on some sleep. Little did we know that Junior had just received the new correspondence courses covering the Foxtrot and Tango. Pretty soon FB was in full thrashing and tossing mode.

At 2:45 she woke me up with "Give me the covers back!"

Around 4 in the morning FB moved the body pillow and it decided to try and crush the life out of me. It was like being trapped in an episode of the old Patrick McGoohan tv series "The Prisoner" where the big white balloon like thing Rover is running down Number 6.

Mercifully my life was spared when FB snatched it back and rolled away with it accusing me of taking it. It bothers me when FB refers to the body pillow as "My Precious!" and clutches it wildly. My beloved wife the closet Gollum. (Much like the little girl the other day at Target.)

After that FB settled into a nice snooze. I on the other had had to begin dealing with Aida who mistook the activity as an invitation to begin head butting me and purring at me as loudly as possible. This only further enraged FB.

A queen sized bed was never meant for a pregnant wife, a body pillow, two cats and husband.


Posted by Jim at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2004

I bought a stroller...

That's right. I bought a stroller. Have a look:


All I figure I need to do is slap a handle on the back and we're good. Plenty of room for diapers and bottles. It's perfect for a trip to the zoo.

Strangely enough Fabulous Babe isn't buying it.

The truth?

I used to have a Miata. My beloved 1990 Polar White was my pride and joy. She had been with me everywhere and had crossed the country a couple of times. (Top down through the Vail pass.) She's the car that transported the engagement ring to Seattle when I headed out to propose to FB. She was my pride and joy.

Before moving here we took a look at our inventory of vehicles and decided it would make more sense to have a 4WD in the garage. FB wasn't giving up her sporty and speedy V-6 2 door Accord. (This is the car I have to shoo car tunerz and street racing types away from in the parking lot. They always drool.) After what seemed like a lifetime I donated baby car to a charity auction.

In the two years since the pain never dulled. Last year my friend, the Best Woman, mentioned that she might get a NEW Miata and let her old one go. I got her to agree to letting me have first right of refusal. She called a week or so ago and said the time had come to get serious.

I wasn't really looking to spend any money on another car right now. We're saving up for the summer. (FB will probably take 8 weeks of with Junior.) However the price worked out to be less than I thought. With that I went to FB.

"Go ahead and write the check but You have to pay for it."


Off to Ebay I went. A week later the Bank of FB is happy and I am making room in the garage for a late March arrival. Woo hoo!

I told the Best Woman that the odds are Junior will be driving this at their Prom. Until then...

Zoom Zoom Zoom!

Posted by Jim at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 29, 2004

Candle, both ends, etc.

Friday could not get here soon enough.

The cattle punching was pretty successful. Fabulous Babe and her co-worker, Wonder Woman, seem to have done a pretty amazing job that paid off. Unfortunately the toll was pretty heavy. Exhaustion has been dogging FB's steps for a while and finally caught up by weeks end.

Junior is starting to have regular tango lessons in the evening. Just when FB should be winding down from work she's being pummelled internally.

FB's still exhausted from the hellish hours last week. We both know this but it's a little hard for her to come to grips with sometimes. She snapped at me on Saturday night after some lemonade spilled in the new fridge. (I made the mistake of trying to clean it up and discovered I she wanted to do it.) I know she doesn't mean what she says but Saturday night it was easier to get out of the way. Hell hath no fury like a hormonally fuelled pregnant volcano.

I try to give FB the best support I can manage. From cleaning up the place to making sure the toilet roll spindle never runs dry. (Always stock at least 24 rolls of extra fluffy.) Part of the job is shrugging off the stuff like Saturday night.

I know that this baby is the hardest thing that FB has ever undertaken. I just hope that we get through the next four months without it being any harder on her than it has to be.

Posted by Jim at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)