Christmas Report

Filed 30 December 2009


Natalie Lovin Holbrook, Age 27
Gets her period Christmas Eve
After being a week late.


Amanda Lovin Gerig, Age 23
Contracts stomach flu
Spends all of Christmas in bathroom and/or asleep.


New Anthropologie Bag, Age Unknown
Holbsgrinch reports "Too Expensive, Return It!"
That night Barnaby pukes in Anthropologie Bag.
Anthropologie Bag now firmly belongs to one Mrs. Natalie Holbrook.


Holbs The Red, Age 32
Wakes up in the middle of the night feeling queasy
Threatens to barf in the car all the way home.

Anthropologie Bag is clean after forty-five minutes of scrubbing.
Anthropologie Bag reports numerous compliments.


We All Saw This Coming


merry christmas from the holbrooks!

Merry Christmas, friends

Love always,
I hope Santa Pan brings you something good.


For All My Ho-Ho-Hos

Somebody told me the other day that they wanted to see a picture of Peter Pan in a Santa hat for Christmas.

I am only too happy to oblige.

Dear Santa Pan,

I have been a very good girl this year.

For Christmas I would like:
a trapper hat like this,
and an Eames Rocker (in white please!)

(You get to ask Santa Pan for super extravagant things. That's just how he works, you know.)

* * * *

If you have been good this year,
and would like to tell Santa Pan what you want for Christmas,
I'd be happy to pass along the message


All That Glitters

The other night I painted my fingers a sparkly gold. I was reviewing my miles long to-do list, it really is miles long you know, and my exhausted brain suddenly clicked into survival mode. Paint your nails! my brain commanded. And you know me, I always do what I'm told (my husband wishes!)

I have a hard and fast personal rule on nail polish, which is that it isn't for me. My fingers are too long, my nail beds too wide. I inherited my hands from my dad, who inherited his hands from his dad, and so as much as I appreciate looking at my hands and being able to say hello to two paternal generations, it is not so much the excitement for manicures. During the Black Nail Polish Fad Of 2008 I looked like I was wearing olives. It was really depressing, I felt that loss from the bottom of my heart.

My sister Amanda has perfect nails, at least so my mother always told me growing up. She has the perfect nails and the perfect elastic skin. At the time I didn't quite get the part about elastics but now with a nearing-thirty face I am starting to see the appeal.

I put on the nail polish, because as it turns out, sitting for ten minutes with your hands out of commission is a good way to take a self-imposed meditation break. Sort things out, you know. Watch a little Charlie Brown Christmas.

I took my sparkly nails to work today and together we got to pinch lots of fat baby cheeks. Isn't that fantastic? I choose to believe my sparkly nails manifested those babies. I love the mall at Christmas time. I love the over-stressed moms who come in with their babies because I love nothing more than cooing at fat things and they love nothing more than a moment's peace while they smell body splashes. After a particularly grumpy fatty came by to woo me I told a coworker that the babies were making my ovaries vibrate. She looked at me like maybe I was insane which is so confusing because, don't your ovaries vibrate ever? To be fair she was only 19. And anyway, not hardly work appropriate conversation, your reproductive organs. I blame the nails. They're just sparkly, you know. Sparkles do things to the brain.

After work I let my nails escort me to the Old Navy where I have been hounding - practically stalking! - a sweater that I keep hoping will go on sale. It was not on sale (and they were out of my size) but that was okay because everywhere I went in the Old Navy everyone stopped to tell me how great my nails were. Old Navy loves the glitters! And I was realizing it was getting to my head but I liked this new power, these saucy new fingers.

Those nails just kept on being sparkly and I couldn't help but feel that I was bringing important Christmas Cheer to every place I went. But then a terrible thing happened when I tried to deposit a lousy check for $25 and the ATM ate my debit card. Those glittery nails themselves sent that card through the thing. That's when I started to wonder. 

When I got home Brandon decided to make me dinner. This is very kind of him because due to work and my attempts at holiday traditions my kitchen has been completely ignored lately. It's just the saddest thing. I go in there and all of the cupboards frown at me. They're all, "Oh, it's you," and I have to leave before they see the tears.

Anytime Brandon gets in the kitchen it is this grand to-do of culinary adventure. Every pan in the cupboard is used, every sauce in the fridge is consulted, and there is always a special ingredient that you are obligated to try and guess while you eat. Hmmm, is it coriander? Ginger? This time, it was onion flakes.

After dinner was finished we sort of looked at each other and contemplated our evening. I was thinking of Mutual and finishing a felt ruffle wreath and Brandon had visions of Tax Law finals and I knew what was probably going to happen to all those pans in the kitchen, and three times I tried not to say it, but the nails man, those damn sparkles made me do it.

"When I make dinner I usually do the dishes," I said. The minute it was out of my mouth I knew I was in for it. Who says that kind of thing? 

And then what happened?

My Holbspapi did the dishes, scrubbed the counters, and put all the sauces in the fridge back to their chilly spaces.

The sparkles have received a stay of execution.



At nine thirty on the nose my phone rang. I knew who it was and why they were calling before I even looked at the phone.

"Yes Dad, that is my high school prom date you're watching on TV."

"I knew I recognized that face," my dad said into my ear from the brown living room sofa with the red cabbage rose print. "What was his name again?"

That would be Ryan Alvarez. Singing and dancing on National Television, all light and magic and jazz fingers. He took me to prom once, and really, is there any greater hold a person can have on somebody than that?

I was so proud watching him up there tonight. We sang in honors choir together TEN YEARS AGO, and as soon as his group started singing I could pick out his baritone over the voices, since I used to sing right next to him.

(Becca, I know you went with him to senior prom where he was crowned Prom King and everything, but let's not get all catty okay? I say we can share him. If you would like. (Does that make us sister wives?))

Anyway Alvie, I just wanted to tell you this: Way to make good, buddy! I am so proud of you. My eleventh grade heart is just full to bursting.


This Post Brought To You By THREE Peanut Butter And Honey Sandwiches And Yes I Do Mean THREE

For your enjoyment, here is my Sunday in review.

Church was only one hour long today, on account of the "creche" that was going on all day in the cultural hall. Do you know what a creche is? Creche creche creche. If you are living in our house then you are finding as many excuses to say "creche" during the day as possible. "Creche" is French for "I Live In Idaho But I Am Still Cultured So Don't Call It A Nativity." Only but when you are living in Idaho it is important that you pronounce it "crush," otherwise nobody will believe that you really are living in Idaho, and wouldn't that be a shame.

This is the part of my blog post where I type about how there is lady in my ward who has three hundred nativities. THREE HUNDRED!  I can now die in peace having seen exactly what 300 nativities looks like in one living room, as Betsy the Flying Potato and I were tasked with bringing them from her home on Seventh to the church on Blaine on a Tuesday afternoon.

And anyway, one-hour church is an idea I can get behind. If you know what I mean.

After church Andy Carman stopped by to graciously lend his artistic eye to our 2009 Christmas Portrait. This was attempt number three at getting a decent picture for a Christmas card. You'd think that with just two of us in this majestic family that the chances of a good shot of both of us would be pretty good, but we have been foiled time and time again.

Sudden Subject Change!

During sleep-times I am like a sun with canine orbitals. At night in bed I am sandwiched by dogs and during the Sunday 3:00-5:00 nap hour if I so much as yawn while I sit next to the space heater I am suddenly sporting puppy saddlebags. There is something weird about these dogs and their need to be pillow-like.

This afternoon I snuggled up to Barnaby, we really spooned, I had him in a head-lock, and he lay there patiently like a stuffed teddy bear, like in actuality I was causing for all his little puppy dreams to come true. His head always smells like grape jelly. Peter Pan had the consolation prize that is the between-the-legs nest. When I woke up I literally could not move for puppy bodily interference. It was as if they needed me to stay there so they could sleep on top of me and thus fulfill the measure of their creation. But I had Peanut Butter and Honey Round One to attend to, and unfortunately they were very much out of luck. But like I said, when I sleep I am a dog magnet.

Tonight the student stake put on a rendition of selections of the Messiah. I am generally opposed to the married student wards on account of they have too many babies and that hurts my feelings, but I decided that Christmas cheer might be worth a it, so we got all dressed up. We braved the snowy roads. (Brandon braved them, driving like a maniac.) I surprised myself by crying all through it.

But which Christmas card photo should we send? Your options are:


involves bikinis + snow
circa 2008


involves a wise man + an angel
in a stable all forlorn


involves the snow + my house + the ghost of my sister-wife
also: poopy dogs


Ding Dong Merrily On High

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! That's what my lover Bing Crosby is telling me through my iTunes anyway. I believe him, that old rascal!

Christmas presents have been presenting themselves on our front walk all week long. Now, I am pro-gifts, in case that needed saying.

My mother-in-law Eldene sent a package of presents yesterday and the way you know you have a good mother-in-law is when you count up the Christmas presents and you realize that you have exactly one gift more than your husband. Thanks, Eldene!

Eldene's presents smell different and provide a whole new level of curiosities for the two dumber animals living in my house. While I was in the shower the other day, Barnaby got to the gift Eldene sent for my parents and gnawed off a corner of the packaging (spoiler alert mom, they're chocolates!).

Peter Pan also enjoyed a little joy-ride under the Christmas tree. Somehow, don't even ask me how, somehow Peter Pan found his present. The one intended for him, with his name on it. So he opened it. With his freaky canine mind control powers.

We found him on the bed merrily gnawing his new Merry Christmas bone and The Holbs turned to me all cornfused-like and said, Did you get him a new bone? and I said, Hells no!, because both of us know how weird Peter Pan gets with toys. It is best for Peter's fragile mental health that we limit new toys to Christmases and Birthdays. 

So I gently took the toy away with intents to rewrap. Peter Pan moped and whined and cried and wrote some emo poetry, then he found Barney's present under the tree and opened that. At which point we gave up and decided to let the dogs have their spoiled surprises early. Because, really.

I have a sore throat. These days I am a tragic mute. I have begun communicating with The Holbs entirely via eyebrow. Single eyebrow once means "Take the dogs out please babykins sweetie buns?" Double eyebrows twice is to mean, well, you know what it means.

Today at work I charmed a five year old boy into singing me the Rubber Duckie song while his mom sampled hand lotion. So obviously, I still got it. 



Today has been brought to you by: my Miley Cyrus wig-wam boots, finally getting Christmas presents wrapped, Peter Pan looming on the back of the couch like a vulture, and the letter D.


Team Peter

I came home the other day to total nonsense. I knew it was going to be nonsense the minute I stepped foot in the house, based purely on the looks on my dogs' faces as they met me at the door. Peter Pan was all sorts of anxious, giving me this look like, "Oh, my ulcer!" and Barnaby MacDuff was making his classic "WUH-OH!" face, which is really something to behold, you'd have to see it in person.

On this day it was the Christmas tree. The mess was ridiculous, but more than that, this was my tree. My tree is my trophy of womanhood! My tree is my tree! And that dog. That dog had crossed. the. line. I gave Barney the full force of my Fearsome Mom act, and he spent the next two minutes cowering on his pillow in the bedroom. (I can never be mad at him for too long, he's just so goofy!)

That's when I remembered why I like that other dog so much better, sometimes.

I met Peter Pan for the first time at Concourse C of the Indianapolis Airport on a snowy November evening. (How's that for an opening sentence!) I had flown to Indiana so I could pick up my firstborn, my love bug. I signed the papers and his breeder handed him to me, my little adopted child. He quivered and shook and buried his head right into my shoulder and sighed. And there, right there in the baggage claim, right there in Indiana, I became a Mother.

Peter Pan was raised in a tiny apartment in the sky. He peed on trees that grew in the cracks of city streets and he walked the Brooklyn Promenade along the East River where the world's tallest sky scrapers live. Peter Pan is my Woody Allen, my neurotic dog with control issues and an overly large nose.

There is something about Peter Pan that most people just don't "get" at first, is what I've been told. "Barnaby's so friendly!" people say while he dances around their feet. Then they look at Peter Pan and struggle to find something nice to say while he sits there analyzing their emotional makeup with his weird zoobie eyes. "Uh, he's handsome?" That's all fine with me, because I like my Peter Pan this way. He's like olives. He's not for everybody, sure, I get that. He's only for smart people.

Peter Pan has a way of looking at you that can be rather off-putting I guess, if you're not prepared for it. It is like he is seeing directly into your soul. He sees everything. He sees your hopes and dreams and what you ate for breakfast, he sees your deepest secrets, he loves you for them. If you aren't ready for something like that, well, too bad for you. His love is deep and unending. I am not exaggerating. Okay, maybe a little.

And anyway, Peter Pan doesn't come inside after a potty break with heavily scented poop breath. That's worth noting.

My very favorite thing is when somebody finally "gets" Peter Pan. Like they've been looking at him all their lives but suddenly they see him. It is a very spiritual experience. Like the one time when my little sister Alex finally let Peter sit by her and then she looked at him sort of funny and he entranced her just like that and then she went, "Oh! I get it!"

It really was a very special moment.

Sometimes I forget that Peter Pan isn't really a dog. I mean, he looks like a dog, and sometimes he does do rather doggish things, but actually he is not a dog. Take today for instance.

Today I was dancing about the living room telling The Holbs the more interesting parts of the thoughts inside my head while he tried to study. This always happens to me the minute The Holbs has something else to think about. Suddenly I feel like I have to tell him everything. Through interpretive dance! Barnaby was on the couch watching me flit about with panicked eyes while Peter sat primly next to The Holbs, possibly reviewing his outlines for spelling errors. Every now and then Peter would look at me like I was interrupting some important train of thought. (Come to think of it, The Holbs had that look on his face too, hmm.) So I asked Pete, I said, "Hey Pete! Am I annoying you or something?" And then he looked straight back at me, square in my eyeballs, and he told me he needed a snuggle. Clear as day! So I stopped my annoying bouncing about and scooped him up.

This is our little ritual. His breeder told me that I should hold him like a baby when he acts up. She had this theory about establishing dominance and such and I was all, whatever, holding him like a baby is sort of the reason I am adopting him? Win-win? All through his whackadoo puppy years I would scoop him up and calm him down and okay, rock him a little, let's be honest. Sometimes there was a lullaby involved, okay.

I held him against my chest today and felt his little pea-sized noggin drop to my shoulder. His long arms and legs relaxed and then he exhaled deeply. It was oddly calming. And then I remembered. This isn't just some dumb dog here. This is a highly emotional, intelligent creature. And I'm not just some human who can reach his ridiculously expensive dog food twice a day. I'm his momma.

So I held him and rocked him and rubbed his back a little, asked him how his day was, gave him kisses on his soft fluffy ears. I let out all the motherly instincts I had and let him soak them up for a bit. Afterward I felt less jumbled. That there is a true story.

That Peter.
I sure am proud to be his mama.


Natalie Makes Good

The fact of the matter is, it is cold outside. It is the kind of cold where any flakes that fall are just remnants of dead clouds. Cloud dandruff. Because it is cold. It is cold outside and I have nothing more to say about that.

I wasn't going to go running today. It is so cold that even the dogs don't want to be outside. Not at three thirty when all those punk junior high school kids are walking past our fence, and not even at five thirty when Jerry lets his dogs out and there is promise of a fantastic battle at the property line. It is that cold. Serious business cold.

I had grand plans for myself and the treadmill. We had a date, the two of us. My sneaks and that rickety thing, we were going to make beautiful miles together. In a heated bedroom. With Hulu on the laptop. And then The Holbs made this sort of off-hand comment. Something about being a wimp? 

Suddenly my afternoon contained one three-mile tour of the frozen tundra, with The Holbs that old stinker! Then I put on every article of clothing I owned. Cause it's cold!

I will skip the part of this story where I started off faster than The Holbs and he had to sprint to catch up with me. I will also skip the part where he complimented my form, and the part where I blasted it up the hill and didn't even stop once even though I really really wanted to, and the part where The Holbs had to pee in the porta potty on the trail.

What I will not skip is the part where The Holbs had a cramp in his side and I did not, because this merits some elaboration.

So, The Holbs, he gets this cramp, see.

Ow! he says. He slows down.

What's the matter? 

I have a side ache! He wheezes.

I stop. You have a side ache?! I am incredulous. This is the captain of the high school soccer team! The "I-Run-For-Fun!" guy. The "If You Run, Your Butt Might Shrink!" husband. This is the runner, and he has a side cramp? I checked for my side cramp. My side cramp wasn't there! Suddenly my husband has a side cramp and I do not, and . . .

OH-HO! I shout. I have just kicked my husband's trash.

You gonna be okay? I ask.

Yeah, he breathes heavily. It's just, it's right here. He points to his rib cage.

Are you having a heart attack? I ask.

No, no, just not used to running is all . . . I've been doing more lifting lately, because I don't have as much time at the gym because of finals . . .

Oh, well, see you at home, I say. I start to trot off. This is the part where I usually speed up, see, I call back, just to stick it to him.

Then I ran, hard. The Holbs nearly caught up with me about a block away from the house but I ran faster. I didn't even know my stumpy legs could go that fast! 

Later to show that I was a good sport I let The Holbs take me to the mall to get a chicken burrito, no rice. We toured the Christmas sausage store and sampled some cheese, we checked out the New Moon merchandise at the Hot Topic (seriously - ??), and then on our way out we passed a bassoon orchestra of sorts playing a Christmas concert in front of the local Ross Dress For Less. This bedazzled me more than trumping my husband at running! I immediately set to documenting this happenstance for time and all eternity on my memory card.

Then The Holbs waved me over. You will get a much better view from this angle, he said significantly. I did not know what he meant by that until I saw it through the lens.

Sometimes the world is just too good a place for words!


A Tale Of Two Snuggies

The Holbs has been trying to make me guess what he's gotten me for Christmas all week. This is how I know it truly is the Christmas season. The Holbs loves to pester me as the days count down to Yuletide because he derives a certain kind of pleasure from seeing me flustered. For the life of me I will never be able to really figure this out. I have elected to believe that I must be just darling when I'm angry.

"I'm going to get you something today!" he says cheerfully. "You'll never guess what it is! I have to go to Costco to get it!"

Something came in the mail from the other day. I was expecting some sheet music but it strangely was addressed to The Holbs. "Oh, that's because this is your Christmas present, I bought it last week. It's a book" he said with wiggling eyebrows as he opened the box. There I am standing by the front door trying desperately to avert my eyes while he practically waves it all over the place, my Christmas Surprise. "Wait, did you say you wanted the whole series, or just the first one?" he asks teasingly. And I'm all, Look Holbsbrotha, the surprise is all we've got going anymore! Don't you go messing with my Christmas cheer, Red!

Oh but there is more. So, first I walk the eight-year-old charge to after-school daycare (we have a new game called Hogwarts, where you go through the alphabet shouting out words from the Harry Potter universe - "Albus!" "Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans!" "Crookshanks!" This is much more fun than you're thinking it will be, especially when you whip out "Whizzing Fizzbees!" and your eight-year-old shouts in triumph). Then I take off for a very chilly run about the town. Certain parts of the sidewalks are frosted over and I blaze cautious paths through the thin ice, careful not to slip because there is nothing more pathetic and hilariously human than seeing a person falling down all over the place, you know. The miles are getting harder now that it's subarctic outside but I carry on courageously and all of that, dodge school kids who are tragically underclothed for their walk home, wave at every person who ever existed who drives past me, feel sorry for the whippet who is stuck outside but is curiously wearing a sweater, that sort of thing. When I get home my hands are chapped from the wind, my nose is runny, my chin is entirely numb, and the rest of me is a delightfully sweaty mess. It's pretty secksy, is what it is. It is in this condition that I check the mail and then stop to sort through it all in the living room.

And so: Yesterday a catalog came in the mail. "Oh look, a Snuggie!" I said sweatily to The Holbs, who was laying prostrate on the couch bemoaning his Bankruptcy final. Then I laughed at myself for being so clever, and also sniffed (runny nose). I still really want to get us matching Snuggie's someday, even though I know that it is stupid. I want to frame a picture of us wearing them together on the couch and holding our mugs of hot chocolate out like we're saluting, I think it would be perfectly wonderful. But also, who really wants a Snuggie? Nobody, is the answer to that question.

The Holbs obviously agreed, because he said in the most patronizing voice he could muster,

"Don't go buying us Snuggies, okay? Please?"

To which I responded,

(Facial expression indicating What-EVER!) "Give me a break, I would never."

He looked appeased and overly confident so I carried on with it,

"Not for $39.95, anyway."

And then I laughed some more, and wiped my nose on my tee-shirt. I was really on one. And then The Holbs blurted out,

"Okayyyyyy! I got you a Snuggie for Christmas! At Safeway!"

I looked positively aghast, I could just tell.

"It's leopard print!" he finished, driving the point home. Then he smiled real big, I could tell he thought he'd accomplished something really great there.

While I struggled to take this all in, this onslaught of information, I couldn't help but get caught on the last bit.

"Wait, leopard print?"

"You like leopard print!" His smile was getting wider.

"Yeah, I liked it ten years ago!" That Holbs, he didn't even know me ten years ago! 

Then I narrowed my eyes, because I started to remember that this is classic Holbs-Christmas-Weirdness behavior. He does this every year. He tells me he got me something ridiculous, then enjoys watching me get all flustered trying to find a nice way to tell him I don't want it, and then he tells me he was just kidding all along, or that he returned it and got something even worse. Then what I end up getting is something totally unrelated at all to any of it, and usually not nearly as exciting. You see, this is part of The Holbsauce's game. It's his Christmas fun. I like the Christmas Surprise, and he likes the Christmas Spousal Torment. 

And here is where we come full circle, for I was at the Safeway today. And what did I see there? Lo. A stack of Snuggies. Leopard print, front and center.

Curiously they are the exact dimensions of the red-and-white-striped Christmas present that is addressed to yours truly under my tree. Taunting me.

I suddenly have a very uneasy feeling about this Christmas.


The Flying Potato


Betsy is The Holbs's truck. He bought her off of some senior citizens our first month in Idaho. 

Once she was parked in our driveway and we'd had a chance to get to know her properly I asked The Holbs what we should call her. He answered without hesitation, as if he'd been thinking it over all afternoon. "Her name is Betsy. Betsy The Flying Potato!"

Betsy The Flying Potato is a 1973.5 Datsun Pickup. She is the oldest member of our family and as such she deserves a certain amount of respect. She shakes like the dickens when you start her up, she rattles in the third gear, she has no power steering, no cup holders, and no seat belts. You can watch the road pass beneath you through the holes in her floor. She has four gears and when going downhill I've seen her reach speeds as high as 55 miles per hour!

She can fit three people, but only if the one in the middle straddles her gear shift in a rather inappropriate manner.

The past couple of mornings have been deathly cold, and The Holbs has been taking the SUV to school instead of warming up our good old Potato and taking the time to scrape the ice off her windshield.

Poor Betsy, abandoned three days in a row by her one true love, just so Brandon can coast to school in a cushy black ride of rugged sports utility vehicleship. It's just really heartbreaking.

When I saw old Betsy sitting in the driveway this morning instead of my usual ride, Barry White (formerly known as Monica, but it has been explained to me by my redder half that the Xterra is actually a boy, excuuuse me), I fired off a text message.

You left me Betsy? Noooooooo!

But actually,  I love Betsy. Sure, she's inconvenient, but she is a classy old broad. Errands take on a whole new glimmer when we're out together. Her upholstery is torn but bouncy, so you kind of bob along down the road just-so. Groceries go in the back, things you don't want stolen go under the towel (Betsy doesn't really have doors that lock . . .) When it snows or rains you sometimes have to crank the windshield wipers manually with your arm out the window. You can't put a price on an experience like that!

Also you can't put more than ten dollars of gas in her tank on account of she has a hole in her tank.

People look at me differently when I'm in Betsy. I get hit on by guys with facial hair a disproportionate amount when we're together.

So when I was bustling about the kitchen later today doing nothing much in particular and I could hear her calling to me, it didn't take much to convince me to take her out for a joy ride. Don't you want a soda? she beguiled. I think you're running low on bread? And anyway I have found that there is just a certain kind of special satisfaction that you can only get from driving around an old beast while holding an icy soda in one hand, steering with your knee, switching gears with the other hand, and somehow managing not killing anybody.

Today she asked me if we could go harass The Holbs at school and leave notes for him in the the other woman (who is now a man, see above). Then she wanted to deposit a check at the bank. She let me fiddle with her radio stations and didn't complain much when I almost stalled her at the corner of Sixth and Washington.

Members of our ward tell us all the time how jealous they are of our ride. We're pretty sure if we wanted to we could start a heavy bidding war over her when we leave Moscow.

But part of me has already decided there is just no way we could ever leave her behind.


For Whatever It's Worth

December the first makes it one year and six months of this infertility. No babies, no babies, no babies. Just . . . tragedy.

Getting pregnant is like playing Russian Roulette, apparently. It's impossible to get pregnant!  The likelihood of falling pregnant in a cycle is something absurd like twenty percent. I had no idea that couples struggled, that it could be possible to go three months . . . six months . . . eight months before finally getting something going. It just didn't occur to me! My mother had no trouble, my aunts had no trouble, my cousins had the very extreme end of no trouble . . . 

Once I realized waht was happening I hunkered down. I prepared mysel not to get carried away in hopes. Where some people were expecting babies, I was expecting not-babies. Doesn't that just sound like a recipe for success?

Late last night as December crept slowly in I decided to honor the sadness properly.  I rummaged through my drawer and brought out the journal I've kept on and off through this whole endeavor. And wow, it was a sobering read. That journal, man. The pessimism in there nearly broke my heart. And what kills me is this - I am not a pessimistic person. What have I been doing to myself?

I think I have been confusing the Universe with my mixed messages. When I see babies it is like the bottom drops out from under me. When I see pregnant women I feel angry and alone, like I've been abandoned. When talk amongst my friends turns to mothering and labor stories and pregnancy complaints I struggle to hold back the tears. What am I saying to the Universe here?

Because, quite the contrary, I want babies! I want to carry a baby, give birth to a baby, nurse a baby, hold a baby, mother a baby... and  I have these instincts, they are telling me I will be good at it.

I want a baby the way some might want a sandwich. Hunger. That's the word.

Maybe trying to protect my heart by expecting the worst wasn't my smartest idea. Fatalistic self-determinism? Well, forget that.

I am adjusting my frequency. I am going to let my heart want this with everything it's got. The armor is down, the shields are away. The hope is big and I'm not going to protect myself anymore.

I have always believed that even when we have no power, we still have control.
We control our lives by the choices we make.
I am making a choice.
I am choosing now to believe that it is possible.



Lately The Holbs has been communicating to me via post-it note.

I find them all over the house, stuck to the most delightfully weird things (dishes in the sink?) usually hours after the message was intended.

Which, obviously, increases the awesomeness tenfold.


Thanksgiving, Report, Over And Out


The Smiths, who graciously provided the house and the bird, are immigrants of the Swiss nature. So, Switzerlandian. Then there are the Webbers who are invited as well and are made up of one-part Canadian to one-part Czech (marvelously heavy accent and all). Also invited are Lloyd's graduate engineering students, one from Iran and one from India.

The Holbs and the yours truly are bringing up the American contingent to this American holiday all on our lonely, which is quite the responsibility!

Este had asked me to bring the sides, and so here I am, literally and directly representing my country, the entire thing, coast to coast, through food. Such a task!

Naturally, I chose mainly orange dishes. Thanksgiving is a very orange holiday.  Here is a sampling of how my afternoon of foreign feasting fared:

So . . . is this pumpkin?

Oh, that's squash. Like pumpkin. But, squash.


It's a gourd?

(looks confused)

Would you like to try this instead?

These are pumpkin?

No, these are yams.

Oh. This is cheese on top?

Those are marshmallows.

(blank stare)


(look of understanding, then of concern, followed by waving of hands, international sign for no thanks, weird American.)

Cultural taste buds aside, I think it is safe to say my sides were a hit! Well, I liked them anyway. I kind of felt like a hero, an American hero! Where's my purple heart!

Because I am a smart cookie, I made enough sides to assure us of leftovers for the rest of November and on into December, leftovers being the best part of Thanksgiving after all, and then on Saturday night I received from the Heavens a stroke of genius and decided to cook us up a baby turkey. 

While Mr. Baby Turkey roasted up I reheated the sides, whipped up some stuffing (FROM A BOX!), and made a little gravy too. And then suddenly it was Thanksgiving again! So, we rolled with it. (I did not make any rolls.) 

Thanksgiving The Second:

Afterward we sat back and stared at each other,  shocked by this turn of events. It turns out, I can cook! Who could have seen that coming? 

And then I pulled out the Christmas tree. Lovin tradition.

The end.