Wednesday, November 30, 2011


We had our mini-re-org at work. I was mostly unaffected. I wanted to be left alone to do my job, and that’s been done. However, they want me to move my desk closer to …something. I don’t know. I guess they want me to give up my very remote office in the plant to come to our main office building and work in a cubicle.

I’ve had my own office for 8 years now. I have to say that I am a fan. It’s not a status thing because my office is in a trailer and it’s far from luxurious, but I love it because it’s quiet, no one is around, and it’s private. And mine.

With an office, I have always just pumped at my desk and gone right on working. I never felt guilty about the 40-45 minutes a day spent pumping since it was also productive time. The building they want me to move to does not have a lactation room (and I am pretty sure cubicle dwellers do not pump at their desks). Even with a lactation room, I would have to leave my desk and go to a room and just pump (I guess I could bring a book). But there is no lactation room. And I really don’t want to be that woman who agitates for what the law allows. And I don’t want to pump in the bathroom because it’s a bathroom in a factory. It’s not a place I’d want to feed my baby. I’ve told my boss my reasons for not wanting to move to the cubicle, but I am not sure he understands what a large deal it is for me. And I am blowing it totally out of proportion in my mind, because….

Transference. According to Wikipedia, transference is “the redirection of feelings and desires … toward a new object.” Basically that means, I am worried about something else, but that something else is too hard to think about so I am worried about whether I am going to end up pumping in the janitors’ closet with a wedge holding the door shut while I try to keep housekeeping out by pushing on the door and saying “There’s someone in here.” (True story, by the way, from someone who works in the building where they want me to move.)

I still hadn’t heard back from my doctor about whether he was able to order the fetal DNA test, so I called today. The assistant said it’s not ordered according to my chart but she would check with the doctor and get back to me tomorrow. And then it’s at least 2 weeks after that before I have results anyway (if they can even get me this cutting-edge, brand-new test). And then even if the DNA is good, it could still be cystic fibrosis, CMV, or toxoplasmosis (more tests I guess I should have). And I’m worried. For a variety of reasons. But the biggest reason I worry is that I won’t be a good enough mom to a special needs child.

I re-read the email Sarah Palin (you don’t have to be her fan to read this next part) sent to her family shortly before Trig was born. She believes in God. She sounded so accepting and loving toward her son both because he is her son and also because he is a creation of her God. She just sounded so “at peace” with the whole situation. I don’t know whether I can live up to that. Her email is lovely, though, so I am going to quote some of it because it does give me something to strive for (even for my “perfect” children and even though I don't believe in her God). She wrote the email to her friends and family as if it was from God.

They were told in early tests that Trig may provide more challenges, and more joy, than what they ever may have imagined or ever asked for. At first the news seemed unreal and sad and confusing. But I gave Trig's mom and dad lots of time to think about it because they needed lots of time to understand that everything will be OK, in fact, everything will be great, because I only want the best for you!

This new person in your life can help everyone put things in perspective and bind us together and get everyone focused on what really matters.

The baby will expand your world and let you see and feel things you haven't experienced yet. He'll show you what "true, brave victory" really means as those who love him will think less about self and focus less on what the world tells you is "normal" or "perfect". You will grow and be blessed with greater understanding that will be born along with Trig.

Every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome.

Some of the rest of the world may not want him, but take comfort in that because the world will not compete for him. Take care of him and he will always be yours!

Many people won't understand... and I understand that. Some will think Trig should not be allowed to be born because they fear a Downs child won't be considered "perfect" in your world. (But tell me, what do you earthlings consider "perfect" or even "normal" anyway? …)

Many people will express sympathy, but you don't want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this.
So, I guess one of my worries is that I just won’t be good enough to be Muse’s mother if it turns out that Muse faces special challenges. Of course, intellectually I know that the chances of anything being “wrong” are low. And of course, my brain knows that I will be an awesome mom regardless (who will pump breast milk in her car, if necessary). But. But, I worry. It’s what I do. I am sleeping and working and having 18 people for dinner (someone brought an extra guest…YAY) and shopping for Christmas and keeping myself very busy so I don’t have time to dwell. But….when I am in the car by myself driving home, I worry. And sometimes, I cry.

I think back to when I was pregnant with Chuckles a million years ago. He wasn’t a big mover. I’d often have to drink some hot cocoa to get any movement out of him for hours on end. I worried. But when he was born, I was so connected with him. He looked just like his ultrasound profile photo that I recognized him immediately. I knew his cry. We were so connected. I loved him so much.

When I was pregnant with Bobo, I assumed it would be the same. It wasn’t. He moved in utero. A lot. All the time, really. When he was born, he didn’t look like his ultrasound, he didn’t look like his brother, I didn’t recognize him (though I did know his cry). The love wasn’t instantaneous this time. It took a while, but eventually, I came to love Bobo just as much as I loved Chuckles.

So, I wasn’t sure which way it would go this time around. Muse moves quite a bit. Probably more even than Bobo. I have these ultrasound photos (now in 3D, which they didn’t have with Chuckles). Muse seems to look like Bobo. Maybe I will recognize him when he’s born. Maybe I will know his cry in my heart as soon as I hear it. Maybe he will look like Bobo but have Chuckles’s coloring. Who knows? I am sure I will love Muse (either immediately, or eventually). I am sure I will protect him and do everything I can for him. But I am fairly certain I won’t be a perfect mom.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Menu

If you were coming to my house for dinner tomorrow (and you totally should because there is going to be way too much food for just the 17 of us), you would be dining on the following menu, which I share in the interest of regional diversity. I hear that in the south, they call stuffing “dressing” and sometimes make it with corn bread. I hear that some people have macaroni and cheese as one of the side dishes/casseroles. I even learned about people who eat, gasp, ham on Thanksgiving.

Appetizer course:
  • Veggie tray with dip (including black olives that children must, by law, wear on their fingers and then eat off)
  • Spinach Dip and Hawaiian Bread

Main Event:
  • Turkey (creole butter injected, cajuned on the outside, deep fried in peanut oil)
  • Gravy (homemade but without pan drippings I can’t quite remember how to do this…I’ll figure it out)
  • Hungarian sausage made by the little old ladies at the church down the street, possibly sauerkraut and pickled beets to go with it (totally not my thing, but everyone always enjoys it)
  • Salad (from a bag but I’ll homemake the dressing)
  • Rolls (heat and serve, or possibly Pillsbury from the tube, I delegated the purchasing of the rolls to a family member)
  • Mashed potatoes (with garlic, butter, and heavy cream)
  • Sweet potatoes, candied with butter and brown sugar
  • Stuffing made with giblets (from my mother-in-law)
  • Stuffing made with sage and celery (made by me)
  • Green bean casserole with French’s onions on top
  • Broccoli Cream Corn casserole (which is a cross between a quiche and a soufflĂ© and has bacon on top)
  • Corn, buttered (also delegated because I don’t care for corn, but I have heard that children like corn)
  • My mother is bringing something…I don’t know what it is…she said it has green Jell-o and pistachios in it. I’m not a huge fan of Jell-o salads myself, but she assures me that it is not a holiday without this.
  • Cranberry Jell-o (which I made for my's his favorite cranberry and so easy)
  • Cranberry relish (which is so good…I begged my mother-in-law to make it)
  • Cranberries from a can, turned out into a pretty dish, with the can marks still clearly visible 
The After-Party:

  • Pumpkin pies, 2, with whipped cream from an aerosol can
  • Apple slices, sheet cake size
  • Pumpkin crunch, possibly…I have the ingredients but I’m not sure I’ll make it
  • Various coffees, creamers, egg nogs, hot cococa, whiskey, rum, Kahlua, and Bailey's for the Irishing
  • Champagne, Korbel or Frexinet
  • Beaujolais Nuveau or a Heritage White (served with dinner...water and milk for the children, the pregnant, and the recovering alcoholics)
Skipping this year:
  • pecan pie
  • extra pumpkin pies
  • sweet potato pie
  • deep fried Twinkies (done in the oil before we put the Cajun turkey in)
  • any new recipes at all except for the thing my mom is bringing

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Clarification: I feel like I should say that we’re doing OK. I mean, nothing is certain in life – ever, and certainly, we don’t know that anything is ‘wrong’ with this pregnancy. In fact, it is highly likely that everything is fine. We just don’t know. And for an information junkie, like me, you might think that was a recipe for crazy-making. But it’s not and I’m actually OK. If I was just saying that and didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t be sleeping well, but I am (when Bobo’s cough lets me).

The reason I’m OK: let’s assume we get a worst-case diagnosis (which we probably won’t but this is just for argument’s sake). There are worse things in the world than congenital CMV, Down Syndrome, or cystic fibrosis. In the grand scheme, problems with your baby go from the mild like having a baby elf ear to anencephaly with a whole lot of middle ground like asthma, albinism, and left-handedness (joke!).

So, really, we’re keeping it all in perspective. There are conditions that I would find much more frightening, and there are cases where we would opt for the amnio. And we even agree that there are conditions that would cause us to terminate.

So, the less-than-totally-reassuring ultrasound was on Tuesday. Thursday was my regularly-scheduled ob appointment. My doctor is originally from Long Island (his practice was in Hauppauge for years) so we small-talked about my recent trip for a good while (and the relative merits of dividend stocks versus bonds versus funds of stocks/bonds…good times at the ob). Then I hopped up on the table for my Doppler. I told him I went for my Level II and blah blah blah. He said the placenta thing was no big deal but if it’s not him performing the c-section to make sure my husband mentions it. Then I told him about the two soft markers, and he asked how the amnio went. He was shocked, *shocked*, that we had elected not to do it (and frankly, so am I). I told him my husband was not in favor of it, and I had to defer to him a little on this one (so not like me) because the benefit, in this case, did not outweigh the risk to the pregnancy and Muse.

I asked my ob if I could get the MaternitT21 test. He said, “Sure, if you tell me how to get it for you.” I handed him a piece of paper on which I had written the company’s name, phone number, physician ordering info, etc. He said someone (like a drug rep except, I guess it would be a test rep) had been in to talk to them about it. He said he hadn’t reviewed the journal articles and didn’t know how accurate it was (I said I have but I don’t know how reputable the journal was). So, we talked about that for a bit, and he said he’d call and find out how to get the test for me. Since someone had been in to talk to him, I assume that we are close enough to Chicago metro to get the test. He hasn’t called back yet.

If I don’t get the fetal DNA test, we might elect to have the amnio after the next ultrasound if the soft markers persist. Ideally, I would like the amnio at 36 weeks. If it sends me into labor, no big deal (well, actually 4 weeks premature is a tiny bit of a big deal in a boy but you get the idea). The results take 2 weeks so we would have them before a scheduled c-section at 39.5 weeks. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll probably take the umbilical cord blood at birth and have tests run on it. It’s a plan. And I do better with a plan.

In other news, Bobo had his 3-year well-“baby” visit. He got his new Prevnar-13 vaccine and I could not possibly be happier about this. My husband took him for the visit, so I actually got a call from the exam room to follow along with the appointment. I had guessed that he no longer had an ear tube in his right but still had one in his left. I WIN! Woo Woo. That’s just how it is (he had done the tiniest big of tugging at his right ear on the plane and I noticed a very small amount of drainage from his left during his recent cold…so I figured right side is closed up now and left is not). He passed his eye chart exam, his pulse is good and strong, his blood pressure was fine, he didn’t need a lead screening again. He is 36 pounds and 39-1/4” tall. Those are both between the 75th and 90th percentiles, so he’s proportional. He has a head cold (which we knew…see also, the coughing). He is on track and on target for everything. And every time someone tells me this, I am so happy because we had been so worried about him. But no more.

In different other news, in between the ultrasound and the ob visit, we had Chuckles’s parent-teacher conference. Not the most amazing conference I’ve ever had about him. The teacher asked us what our long-term plan is with him, “With all his eccentricities, are you going to put him in a lab school?” Uh, no, we were hoping you were going to teach him something here in our suburban, well-regarded, well-funded school system. Guess not. We’re holding on to hope for 3rd grade when they finally start the clustering by class for kids of same ability.

Chuckles is a handful, this much I know. He’s bright, but he is not a hard worker (or maybe just not self-motivated yet). He’s easily distracted and chatty (but I keep telling myself, he’s 6…seems normal and typical to me). He needs to learn about the joy and value of work. He’s never had to work at anything in his life (nothing, really..he’s athletic, has friends…once he gets over the shy thing, artistic, funny, somewhat musical, and smart…he even cooks and has family members ask him for the recipes he’s invented). I would really like him to have a teacher who would challenge him (as his father and I do…we do not accept that he’s only a kid and let him go on not knowing about internal combustion engines or WWII). I think if properly challenged in a classroom environment, he could learn about struggling to understand a concept and about the reward/payoff that comes with mastery. You don’t get that sense of accomplishment when someone asks you to count to 100 or tell time to the hour when you’ve been doing that for 3 years. I do understand about state standards and being measured against a standardized test…that’s how our school district got well-regarded, but this is my kid and I really would like them to teach him something.

So, he has an enrichment folder, but he needs to be self-taught and self-motivated to complete it in his free time (while also being expected to do the regular grade-level work…which I was assured is mandated by the state curriculum law). He feels a little punished because he has to do “more” work than the other kids. The teacher said he should feel grateful for going to such a good school that even offers him these opportunities. I see her point, but I think I understand Chuckles’s point more. He does not like to be singled out (that’s the shy). However, there is at least one other kid in the classroom with a folder and he likes her so I told him that he needed to step up and get some of the work done because she was getting ahead of him (very competitive, that child). We’ve already seen some improvement on the folder front, so we’ll see how it goes. And I already know who I am going to request/suggest he get as a teacher next year.

In other, other news, I have 17 people coming to dinner on Thursday and we’re frying a Cajun style turkey (again). We get raves over the turkey every year so we just keep hosting the holiday.  I can't wait to turn the cranberries out of the can onto a pretty crystal plate.  That contrast is the highlight for me.

Things for which I am thankful:  my family, our health, our love.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Level II

I don’t know where to begin, so I will start in the middle. It seems like the right place to start.

As I mentioned, I am AMA (queue forboding music). One of the perks of being a geriatric pregnant person is the Terrorist Threat Level Orange ultrasound (aka Level II). Because I live in a major metropolitan area, I have my choice of several maternal fetal medicine practices. I opted to go with University of Chicago because of geographical proximity (and it’s not like U of C is Joe’s Ultrasound Quik Shop).

I have been extremely satisfied with their practice (even the billing that’s all messed up is corrected quickly and cheerfully). Because well over half of all births in Indiana are paid for by Medicaid, my regular OB’s office often feels like one of those overcrowded trains in other countries where the people are crammed into the train with a very nice but firm stick (I’m thinking bullet trains in Japan and stereotypes of India). We’re all crammed in there together. The MFM practice is calm. Relaxing even. Well, it was once we found the volume knob on the TV.

So, on Tuesday, they scanned Muse for an hour. The ultrasound tech said very few things during this time. I kind of prefer a guided tour of my uterus but since he was typing captions on the photos, I was able to keep up. 4CH means a 4-chambered heart, CX is a nice photo of my 4.75 cm long cervix, Chor Plex is tasty, tasty brains and so on. Because this is a MFM practice, you go from the ultrasound room to a meeting with the doctor to go over whatever they saw (which I like to call the part where they just tell you your baby is big, beautiful, and they wish all their patients were just like you). However, we couldn’t go right in to see the doctor because he was delivering triplets just then. So, we had to wait. No biggie. They told us to go get something to eat and don’t bother coming back for at least a half hour.

So, Mr. Long-Suffering and I went for chili cheese fries and a chocolate shake at 10 am. I don’t think I could have looked any more like a stereotypically pregnant person if I had been holding my back and walking around barefoot. When we got back, The View was on TV (see volume adjustment). As a total aside, the correct answer, when asked “Are you sexually attracted to children?”, is “No.” I would also accept “Hell no!” or “Oh my god, no.” Anyway, it was only a few more minutes and we got in to see the doctor. He went over all the photos but they weren’t in the order they were taken and they weren’t in the order on his review sheet. Three kinds of pictures were saved for the end.

The first was the photos of the placenta. Apparently, Muse has a two-lobed placenta that does not cross the cervix. It’s a minor concern in a planned c-section. If it was undiagnosed, a vaginal delivery, crossed the placenta, or had umbilical insertion in the connecting tissues or on the smaller lobe, it could be a concern, but in a planned section, it’s fine. It is worth knowing about, though, because it’s important that both lobes are removed to avoid retained placenta and all the pain and blood loss associated with that.

Next, we looked at the heart (4CH). There must have been 30 pictures of the heart and Doppler blood flows thereof. The heart has an echogenic intracardiac focus. This is just a small area of the heart that is brighter (white) than everything else. It could be a small calcification or something – nothing of clinical significance. It could also be a soft marker for Down Syndrome. It’s a weak soft marker (depending on the study, it either doubles a woman’s risk or makes it up to a 1% chance).

Lastly, we looked at the bowel. It was echogenic as well. An echogenic bowel can be caused by one of several things: nothing at all, the fetus swallowed blood during a bleeding/spotting episode earlier in pregnancy, cycstic fibrosis, toxoplasmosis, CMV, and Down Syndrome. At this point, I really had wished we’d been able to do the combined nuchal screening and blood tests. As he rattled off possible casues, I had an answer for everything. My bleeding was between 3.5 and 5 weeks, which is before the fetus had a mouth so could not have swallowed blood. I am not a carrier of CF (checked while pregnant with Chuckles) so even if my husband is a carrier, the baby does not have CF. I was negative for toxoplasmosis in August, our cat lives indoors, and I haven’t been cleaning her litter, and I wear gloves when gardening and wash my hands afterwards. I donated blood (which pregnant, actually) and am negative for CMV, and Bobo does not go to childcare or pre-school. I do not visit elderly relatives in nursing homes.

And Down Syndrome. I told the MFM that I had the quad screen done, and I screened negative. I did not know my specifc numbers. My age related risk is 1:270. The receptionist called my OB. The office said my chart was down in medical records and it would take a half hour to get it faxed over. Ok, then. In the meantime, we went over family history, I was given a neuro exam to check the 12 nerves of my face, I had to breathe and be listened to. We were offered the amnio. We said we’d like to wait on the other test results before we decided. My husband (out of nowhere) said that the amnio results aren’t actionable, so why bother. I contradicted and said that we might choose to deliver at a different hospital if we had a known problem, plus I might make support arrangements for nursing if there were going to be any issues (though lip and palette are both cleft-free). The doctor merely said he had to offer it, but that he could talk statistics and odds with us. He said that no one really knows for sure but an echogenic focus in the heart and bowel are both weak markers for Down Syndrome. Possibly, they increase the background risk (not the age-related risk) by perhaps up to 10x (he really did hem and hawa nd perhaps and possibly that much...the studies just aren't there). He said that it isn’t really known how much, but it does increase the risk.  I asked about the MaterniT21 test (it's looks for fetal DNA in the mother's blood.  It's highly accurate and non-invasive).  He said it wasn't commercial.  I said that it's been commercial for a month but has limited availability but is available in Chicago (apparently, not at U of C, though).  It's only $235...if you can find someone to give it to you.

I said that I would want to amnio if my "new risk" were greater than my age related risk. My husband didn’t want it no matter what but said that it was ultimately my decision. I asked the doctor whether placental placement in my specific uterus meant that the procedure was riskier than typical (answer: no). He asked us about blood types (both O+) and allergies to metals (yep, nickel) and drugs (yep, penicillin), etc.

Then we were asked to sit back in the waiting room. After an hour of that, I called my OB’s office and asked where my test results were. Many, many happy smiling patients and families clutching ultrasound photos came and went in the time we waited. Each of their consults lasted about 10 minutes. Ours had already been more than half an hour and we still weren't done. At this point, I was so happy I had eaten. Then the doctor came in, called my OB’s office, read them the riot act, and our results were faxed over. My age-related risk of Down Syndrome is 1 in 258. My Age+Screen result is <1 in 5000. So, even using the worst case scenario numbers of 10x increased risk, we’re still only looking at <1 in 500. That’s >499 in 500 are genetically normal. We opted not to get the amnio, and left the office about 5 hours after we had arrived. I am getting re-scanned in 8 weeks to follow-up on the heart.

That’s all I know.

Oh, actually, I convinced my husband that even outside of termination (or, interruption, as the doctor put it), results of an amnio are actionable. I convinced him that if there were a heart defect, I would prefer to deliver at the hospital where any necessary surgery could be performed. I wouldn’t have to be separated from him and the baby while they were transferred (or something). Though, my husband did say he would like to ride in a helicopter (but not with a critically ill neo-nate).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lawn Guy Land

Hi all. I’m just back from my first-ever trip to Long Island and the Hamptons. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, “What’s a frugal girl like you doing in a place like that?” Well, it’s simple. It’s November. The off-season is a great time to travel to expensive vacation destinations.

I felt like an explorer to a foreign and strange land trying to find out everything I could about Lawn Guy Land in the 2 days I was there. This was my first-ever trip to eastern NY. I had been to western (or Upstate) New York before but the Finger Lakes is not exactly the area people think of when they think of New York. I did not go to New York City firstly because I was staying 60 miles away out on the Island and secondly, because the marathon was going on and I wasn’t running it.

Let’s start with the day of departure. I left Chicago via Midway airport. Security through MDW was fine on a Saturday morning. Chuckles’s awesome car seat did not fit through the x-ray and was subjected to advanced interrogation techniques. I almost wish they had waterboarded it because it is just that dirty. I brought my umbrella stroller to hold the two car seats plus diaper bag. It did a serviceable job.

Our flight was not full so we had the whole row to ourselves. Car seats are only installed in the window seat. The way the belts buckle on your lap means that the buckle is directly in the middle of the children’s backs when the seat belt is used to install a car seat. Bobo was quite enarmored with unlimited access to apple juice and tiny bags of cookies (and fruit snacks). The kids were awesome fliers.

It was a clear day and I could see the following things from the airplane: all of Chicago and its skyline, my work, where we take our wave runner on Lake Michigan, Michigan City, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, Ohio, Lake Erie, Ontario, Cleveland, Buffalo, Niagara Falls!!!, Lake Ontario (that’s 4 of the 5 Great Lakes…just HOME, no S), Albany, mountains, snow, Connecticut (which has lakes with some kind of odd shading in them like maybe depth changes or algae), Long Island sound, the car ferry, and finally the airport.

When we arrived at Long Island’s MacArthur Airport in Islip, we stopped to go to the bathroom and by the time we got to baggage claim, the whole thing had cleared out already and they were paging us to get our luggage. Very quick. Our rental car was an HHR. I ordered a full-sized car and this is what I got. I thought I would be getting an Impala or similar. The HHR was tiny with awkward to reach LATCH points for the car seats. Turns out, car didn’t have breaks either and my husband returned it the next day and got us a 4-door Ford Fusion, which was really nice and roomy (with good acceleration and satellite radio).

On Sunday, we drove out through the Pine Barrens to the Hamptons. I did not see anyone rich or famous. Actually, I may have seen rich people but they don’t wear signs indicating as such. I did not see anyone being trailed by a TV crew for a reality show. Everything seemed very old (or new but looks old). We saw churches that were founded in the 1600s. We saw a graveyard that I wanted to check out to see what the dates on the head stones were, but we were killing daylight what with the changed time and all so we needed to head. I saw BMW of the Hamptons, Lexus of the Hamptons, Audi of the Hamptons, Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar of the Hamptons, and then not a quarter mile down the road, I saw K-Mart (of the Hamptons). It was a very nice looking K-Mart and had (faux?) cedar shake shingles and a low roof line. We also saw a Crab Shack (not Clementes, link unavailable) on the side of the road. Based on the traffic right there (and the pedestrians crossing the highway), I would guess the food is pretty good. It looked like it was situated quite near a tide pool.

We went all the way to Montauk, which has a lighthouse that we climbed. We saw THE END (that’s what they call the easternmost tip of the state). Next stop: Lisbon, Portugal. The weather was glorious, especially for November. We spent a fair amount of time at the beach, which was rocky looking at shells and rocks and driftwood. It was high tide at about 4 pm, so there wasn’t much to the beach. We all touched the water (though I had touched the Atlantic Ocean before).

At this point, the sun was starting to set so we headed out to a local restaurant right on Lake Montauk where we watched the sun finish setting over the bay and I ordered my first-ever market price lobster. Turns out, I am not a fan of plain lobster. I like lobster bisque and lobster ravioli and lobster with pesto and pasta, but just a steamed lobster is not my thing. Pity.

On our trip back for the night, we needed the defogger for the rear window so both Mr. Long-Suffering and I were looking down at the stop light. When I looked up, the car in front of us was already through the intersection. Refreshingly, the car behind us had not beeped the second the light turned green.

The next day, we went to the zoo and then to Port Jefferson to watch the car ferry come and go from Connecticut while we ate lunch (crab cake on a bun and seafood bisque). Apparently, there are people who commute on the ferry every day. I hope there is a monthly pass.

We enjoyed the waterfront and Port Jefferson Harbor. It was low tide while we were there so there were a bunch of docks over land (and many of the other docks float as they might in a reservoir). I found it odd that on Sunday it was high tide at 4 pm and on Monday it was low tide at 2 pm, but then it was explained to me that Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean have vastly different tide times and levels. I found that disturbing. Aren’t they connected and not all that far apart?

Lastly, we headed to Cedar Beach at Mt. Sinai Harbor and hung out at the beach throwing rocks into Long Island Sound until the sun set. This time, it set over land, but it was still gorgeous. The weather had been wonderful (cloudless, cool but not cold).

That night, we were told we should try pizza. Now, I have lived most of my life in Chicago, where we know pizza. I loves me some Giordano’s or Edwardo’s, Lou Malnati’s or even Uno’s. So, I was skeptical. Once in a marketing seminar, I learned that the corridor from Chicago to Milwaukee is the only place in the country where frozen pizza sellers sell sausage pizza. In fact, many of the Chicago style deep dish pizzas have a sausage disk on the bottom, then a 6” layer of cheese (slight exaggeration), topped with sauce. So, we called and ordered 3 medium pizzas (cheese, “sausage”, and pepperoni). We were informed that their “pies” only come in one size. OK then, I guess we’ll take those. Also, a serving is called a “slice” not a “piece”. In Chicago, we say “peace-a-pizza” as all one word. I felt like an anthropologist in this strange and new world.

When the pizza pie arrived, we opened the box and were faced with these enormous triangles. You see, in Chicago, deep dish is served in wedges of the circle (then eaten with a fork and knife), but flat pizza (thin crust) is cut into squares (or as close to squares as one can cut a circle). So, here we were with these huge slices of pie that you do not eat with a fork. Apparently, you are to fold it so you can eat it. The sausage was not little pieces of cooked meat but more like an Italian sausage link cut into very thin slices a la pepperoni. It was different – salty - but not bad. I still prefer deep dish (and in fact, we are having that tonight because we have out-of-town guests for Bobo’s birthday party this weekend…he’s (sniff sniff) three).

On Tuesday, we headed back to the airport and did some mid-island (non-coastal) sightseeing in Patchogue (which I think I can finally pronounce thanks to repeated corrections from our host/tour guides). I’ve traveled in the US a bit, but this was only the second time I had ever seen day laborers standing around on the street waiting for work (the other time was in Vegas back during the housing boom…they would hang out at Home Depot and wait).  Chicago is union territory.  I think you could get your construction site firebombed for picking up day laborers. 

Long Island was much different than I expected. I had heard that it was densely populated and somewhat suburban. It did not feel either. It felt exurban-to-rural where we were. Maybe if we had been in Western Long Island (Nassau County) instead of Suffolk County. There were no sidewalks, everyone had septic instead of sewer, the water was unfluoridated, the speed limits on the roads (which were never straight or in a grid) were crazy-high, the mailboxes were down at the street and not on the houses, and hardly anyone had a garage let alone a two-car garage or an attached garage. Overall, I’d say we liked it. It just was not what I was expecting when I was thinking about suburbs of NYC. Maybe I was expecting Levittown.

Oh, the weather clouded up for the trip home so there wasn’t much to see from the plane but we did go closer to NYC and I saw bridges and probably the Statue of Liberty (which I had really wanted to see on this trip…I can’t say for sure I saw it, but probably). Once back in Chicago (where people are surly and rude…unlike on Long Island where everyone was nice and smiled), Bobo melted down in the airport, flung himself to the ground, and promptly got run over by some woman’s rolling suitcase. I’d say she was tailgating.

By the time we got to baggage claim, our luggage was the only luggage still on the carousel, but no one was paging us and helping us get our things together like they did at LIMA airport.

All-in-all the trip gets a thumbs-up from this would-be anthropologist (and apparent cultural historian/architect).

Now, you tell me:  How do you like your pizza?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Livin’ on a Prayer

Bobo wanted to quit trick-or-treating pretty early. He had a yellow sucker in his bag and could see no reason to go on. I mean, if I go home, I can have that sucker now, right?

Also, why oh why does Bobo, when given a choice out of a big bowl of candy by a kindly neighbor, choose Mounds or Almond Joy? Have I not raised him right?

Chuckles got in with a roving group 6-year old boys and ran roughshod over the neighborhood. I (and the spare candy bag and glow sticks) caught up with him a half mile away and made him trick or treat back toward our house so he could go to the neighbors’ (and the house that had a haunted tent on their front lawn that you had to go through to get to the front door).

That haunted tent house was much too scary. For me.

There was a car in the driveway with two mannequins and a red strobe light. Then in the tent there was dim lighting, a smoke and fog machine, chain saw noises, and as you were walking through the part with spooky, murderous mannequins, one of them jumped out screaming at me. With a chainsaw. Scary.

The guy with the chainsaw didn’t jump out and scream at the little ones. He saved that for me. Lucky me.

Snickers…it really does satisfy.

But 11 Fun Size Snickerses (is that the correct plural?) does not satisfy 11 times more. It just leaves me wondering when I can have an egg or some cheese or something with protein.

Also, how many peanut butter cups does it take to equal a serving of peanut butter?

Any candy that had the potential to remove Chuckles’s fillings from his head was confiscated and brought to work. My co-workers’ dental bills are not my problem.

One might wonder why I would even allow a kid who already had 2 fillings eat candy. I asked the dentist how a kid who brushes every day, flosses, and uses fluoride rinse got cavities. The answer was that it appears to be a genetic weakness. Whenever there is a genetic weakness in the children, I blame their father.

Our local utility sent us an energy usage analysis where we were compared to our neighbors (on a per square foot basis) to see our energy usage.  Apparently, there is an entire psychology thing to this…some kind of keeping up with the Joneses thing. My husband and I were quite smug about our exceptionally below average energy consumption (which is higher now that there are people in our home all day and we keep the thermostat up overnight for the child who refuses to cover himself with blankets (name redacted)). I bet back when we were DINKs who kept the thermostat low, practically off during the day, and kept it cold at night, we would have been considered positively miserly. We were the 1% (of lowest energy users).

Because we have a third son coming (soon!) and two already-active boys who show no signs of stopping eating, we “need” a new refrigerator. A bigger fridge. Much bigger. A fridge that is half crisper drawers and can hold 12 pounds of apples per week. Our current fridge is about 10-ish years old and came with the house. It’s about 17 cubic feet. We have a wall on one side of the fridge hole and a counter/cabinet on the other. There is 35-5/8” of room there. We found one 23 cubic foot model that will fit there. And we bought it. It’s pricey, but much cheaper than moving the fridge locale, which is what I was going to do. Expensive tall fridge is cheaper than mini-remodel. And it will save us over $100 a year in electricity. At that rate, it will almost pay for itself by the time it stops working in 15 years. Pay back period. ROI. Buzz Word Bingo. I’m surprised I got the capital outlay approved, but husband is far too smart to argue with pregnant wife. Smart man. Very smart.

On Halloween, I was the room mom (parent, but I have yet to see a dad) for the class party. There were 4 of us. I ended up just taking over because we had an hour and six activities. I am ruthless with a schedule. We finished on time barely…I had some super-short intervals on the CD player for hot pumpkin.

The saddest thing happened at the party. We were doing some Freeze Dancing. I was operating the CD player (Monster Mash, Witch Doctor, Purple People Eater) and would periodically stop it to make sure everyone froze. Two kids weren’t dancing. One said he just didn’t want to. The other was not allowed to dance. I felt bad that we planned a fun activity and the poor kid had to sit out. Had I known we would could have skipped the dancing and done two rounds of hot potato instead. I am going to email the moms for the other two parties and let them know.

As to the title of this post: Ohhhh, we’re half-way there…Whoah, Livin’ on a Prayer. 19.5 weeks down. Only 19.5 weeks to go.