A Huckoween Special

Every year a street in our neighborhood throws a giant Halloween party. The whole place gets decked out, an apartment of dancers puts on a trapeze show from the fifth floor of their brownstone, and families come from all over the city to trick or treat.  Brandon and Huck and I decided to take a little walk to see what all was up. Here is what we saw.


{Peter Pan's girlfriend Moby.}

And then I came home and ate my fill of fun-size mini Huckleberry toes. 

Happy Halloween to you!
From me and the B and my little Boob Vampire


Two Drifters, Off To See The World

Henry August Holbrook
Born Tuesday, October 26 at 1:42AM
Seven pounds, one ounce, nineteen and a half inches long

It was a few hours before we were to check out of the hospital, and we were drowsily watching the tug boats on the East River out our window, Huck and I, as storm clouds blew past in the sky. My mother's flight from Portland was delayed by those heavy clouds, and I was wondering whether we would get pizza for dinner when she finally landed, and as I thought about clouds and pizza I stroked my lips softly along the top of this warm, brown, fuzzy head--this brown fuzzy head that somehow belonged to me--inhaling his soft baby scent, feeling like every muscle in my body was smiling.

The clouds suddenly parted above the river, and out peeked the most brilliant rainbow. It arched from Roosevelt Island, over our little recovery room at NY Presbyterian Hospital, to some unknown rainbow's end, like a fulfilled promise. Just the day before, as I labored to deliver my own fulfilled promise, my mom texted me to tell me that the Portland skies were filled with rainbows, for my Huckleberry friend and me. And now the rainbows had come to New York. And as I looked down at that brown fuzzy brown head of mine, under that bright, beautiful rainbow, I thought I could hear the Spirit whisper to me that he was mine, and that he'd been saved just for me. That I was made to be his, too.

Baby Huck, it is so good to see you. 
We have been waiting for you for so long. 
Your mama loves you.


My wife is a superstar!

Well... He's here! He's beautiful; he's all we could have asked for and so much more. Natalie was courageous and amazing and I love her so much. What an incredible night.

Welcome to the world, little Henry.




Well, I am still pregnant.



If you'll be in Utah near the end of November, 
go to the Bijou market for me and tell me all about it!



I am still pregnant.

I mean, all in all, it wasn't such a bad day to be pregnant.
But I can go into labor now, right? Please??


What They Don't Tell You Is

Early labor contractions are way boring. 

Just now, after having two contractions 7 minutes apart and getting really excited and then going a full 20 minutes before the next one, I flipped my iPod contraction timer app the bird.

It felt really good.

When I called my mom to complain she said, "Why do you think so many women clean their house when they're in labor? What else are they going to do?"


It Was On Amsterdam

"I can't remember if it is on Columbus or Amsterdam . . . "

I am staring into a puddle on the street.

"I'm pretty sure it's between Columbus and Central Park West," Brandon says, peering at a gargoyled building in the skyline.

"Wait, on a cross street?"


"What are you talking about?"

"The Texas BBQ?"

"Oh. I'm thinking of that chicken place with the red and white checkers . . ."

I can't remember what it was called, but it looked good that one time when we walked past and it was dark out, and there was that cute family sitting there, and where were we at the time, exactly?

"Oh." Brandon looks up and down the street. "Is that what you want for dinner?"

And then we stand around looking at each other, and at the people bustling around us who know exactly where they are going, and then I shrug. Is that what I want, I wonder? I've never eaten there, and BBQ could be pretty great, too . . . and then I realize with a frown that this is quickly becoming one of those evenings.

When Brandon and I lived in Moscow and had a rare night out on the town, this is usually what happened. Twenty to thirty minutes of aimless driving about, rolling past restaurants, searching our souls for a spark of gastronomical inspiration, entertaining endless hypothetical questions about what sounded good before we'd finally pick something. This fancy little ritual caused such stress unto my being. Some nights it felt like we'd never eat dinner. Ever ever again.

"Is this the place you were thinking of?" Brandon asks near a red awning.

"No, but let's see what they have anyway," I say. I am always looking to end these jaunts as quickly as possible. Being hungry, while being pregnant, while also having a bummed out left knee . . . it's not going so well.

"Hmm, burgers start at $9.50. You really want a burger?" Brandon ins't willing to commit.

I do really want a burger, it's true.

"Try the chicken place?" I say with a deep sigh. I am playing the game, I hate playing this game. I stare wistfully into the menu board.

"Besides, these burgers come with a side of rice," I say, and I make a face. That settles it. Burgers and rice, that's weird.

Ten blocks later, still no chicken place.

"Well, it's not on Columbus," I say definitively, my left knee buckling every other step. I am not waddling! But yes, there is some . . . limping. Last week my left knee decided it was finished being pregnant, and to please let it know when the baby is out, and until then it is on vacation in the Bahamas, sipping fruity drinks or something and reading trashy novels. The rest of my joints carry on in silence while my left knee is a diva. I understand where she is coming from, if I could go to the Bahamas until Huck was born I think that would be great. Instead, I carry on in (relative) silence too.

"Maybe it's on Broadway?" Brandon says but I know it's not on Broadway, and I remind him that we saw it on the way to Cafe Lalo, which is between Columbus and Amsterdam, and so why would it have been on Broadway, I just can't remember the cross street, it could be 74th, it could be 84th . . . Where even is Cafe Lalo? Did we pass it already?

Finally, there it is. On Amsterdam. Brandon spotted it first after passing two Newsstands where he had to stop and ask his requisite two questions: 1. What is your price for a soda? (Some places are $1.50, some are $1.75,  it is this great mystery), and 2. Do you carry Mountain Dew? (Nobody carries Mountain Dew.)

"The Chirping Chicken? That's what it's called??" I feel a sense of outrage. No wonder I couldn't remember where it was, it is a fried chicken place masquerading as Chinese food!

We get on line and order our burger and our chicken and while we eat Brandon announces his chicken is good, he'd come back again.

And then I think, as I eat my burger and rub my bum knee, I guess I'd come here again too. 

Now that I know how to get here.



Here is a really fantastic way to spend an afternoon in the Village:

First get a Falafel at Mamoun's, a little hole in the wall on MacDougal Street. There is a constant line snaking out the front door. Best falafel I've ever had, and it's barely three bucks!


Next you get a Belgian waffle at Go For A Bite. Get the strawberry banana with chocolate sauce and maple syrup and whipped cream. Ahh-mazing.

Then go and listen to some adorable hipsters at Washington Square Park.


Six And Two

I have had this post draft sitting in my Blogger queue. It says, "My Holbs likes to cook with soy sauce." And nothing else. I opened it yesterday and thought, where was I going with this one I wonder?

Lately The Holbs cannot use the restroom without Barnaby following him in. The two are simply inseparable. Sometimes Brandon will shout at me from the bathroom, "Is Barney waiting for me?" and if the answer is yes (the answer is always yes), he will crack open the door to let him in and Barney's ears will perk up with excitement.

It is so weird.

I spent a good chunk of my morning having my Huck examined. Doctors were concerned he was measuring small so the nurses sent me to the ultrasound wing for a quick peek. And then there he was, this big old baby in my not very big abdomen, and the Tech did her voodoo and decided he looked to be right about six pounds, two ounces. Not small. Just right.

"Well, you're free to have this baby whenever you'd like," is what she said. And then I got all sorts of crazy ideas!

The air outside was crisp as I waited for a taxi that felt right to me, and suddenly the Autumn air and my six pound fetus were conspiring together.

"It's only, like, fifty blocks--let's walk!" whispered the breeze through my hair.

"Maybe we shall go into labor!" shouted my irrational 37-week hormones.

"I weigh six pounds and two ounces!" my Huck reminded me.

So I texted my husband the plan:

I am going into labor today! Possibly. But probably not! Keep you posted! 

And then I saw an H&M across the street and decided not to go into labor until after I had checked it out.

It was a very good day to walk down Central Park South, because I got to stroke five velvety horse noses and experience one very deep and significant emotional connection with a chocolate brown lover of a horsey, who is probably called Lloyd (if these things are up to me).

I love to walk past the horses parked on Central Park South. There is something so sweet to me about a working animal, and the pride they must take in their work, and the stalwart way they carry themselves. But also it always makes me feel very sad, and I always want to pull an Elliot and free all the frogs in the science lab. Run wild, horsies! Maybe one day I'll work up the courage to tear through that place, setting them all free, never to haul a tourist through Central Park again.

I didn't go into labor, and I didn't free any horses, but I did have some salad bar at the Whole Foods, and I even made it home in time to walk my dogs past tall piles of garbage before the garbage trucks came by.


Finding The Space

I am huge. There is not enough room for me in this tiny apartment! I turn around and I am smacking into walls. I try to squeeze through doorways but I suspect these doorways have shrunk!

I am big, and I make the trek from the bed to the bathroom six times a night, at least. Not because I have to, but because I want to, to break up the monotony of laying in bed all night unable to sleep. I do so enjoy the first three times I roll s-l-o-w-l-y from my left side to my right, bringing my pillow groupies with me for propping purposes, because at least it's interesting. But soon it starts to get old, so I start to think up excuses to use the bathroom, and sometimes a good idea comes to me halfway there and I stop to check my email, or eat a mini Snickers, or see if any of my neighbor's lights are on and I can catch them naked.

I discovered this morning with great alarm that it only takes me seven steps to get from one end of my apartment to the other.

Where in five-to-seven steps does one stash a baby?

I still can't believe there is a completely cooked person going on in here. A whole person! I can't get over this. How is he fitting in there? Things must be getting awfully cramped for him these days too.

We are full term now and on the one hand, I would very much like to not be pregnant anymore. I have wanted to be pregnant for so many years that it is quite disturbing to suddenly think of tampons with fondness.

We only have one drawer in our kitchen. I think about this sometimes because it's ridiculous. It's not even a drawer, really, it is a mini drawer. Who can get by on just one mini drawer for utensils? Me, I can do it. But it is barbaric! One drawer for utensils? Definitely barbaric. Also kind of thrilling, my sharp steak knives mingling coyly with my sweet and nice cereal spoons. It's an adventure every time I need a fork. Don't get stabbed!

One time Brandon went for a fork and shouted, "This drawer makes me sick!"


Lately the conversations I have around town go like this: Congratulations! When are you due? What are you having? Do you have a name picked out? How are you feeling? Do you have a stroller?

I do not have a stroller.

I am looking about the apartment (it is probably 400 square feet, maybe) and not only do we not really have the budget for a stroller, we don't even have room for a stroller. So I've been telling myself I don't need a stroller, and that really cool girls like me are better off without a stroller. Except that, I super need a stroller. I need a stroller.

And so today, we bought a stroller.

So, actually, yes, I do have a stroller.

And it's just like I thought. There's really no room for a stroller up in here. It's just, right there. You can see it from everywhere.

Hi, stroller!

But it's like this. I came home from grocery shopping in the rain yesterday toting two grocery sacks, a paper bag from the hardware store, my purse, the keys to my apartment, my cell phone, the mail, and a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper (necessity), and the second I opened the door and the dogs rushed up to say hello to me I thought to myself, "How am I carrying a baby in this scenario? And, where am I putting him once I get inside?" (Quick glance about the floor, eyeing the couch, watching the dogs scurry excitedly from one wall to the next), and then I thought to myself, OH BOTHER, I DO NEED A STROLLER.

So, we have a stroller. We picked it up on 95th and Amsterdam, it works from infancy through 50 pounds, and it is going to be our swing/bouncy seat/grocery cart/SUV/high chair/place for snacks/Forever 21 shopping bag holder/baby storage system.

And, okay then. The baby can come now.

Because now I have somewhere to put him.


Twenty Eight!

Hey it's my birthday! 

We spent the afternoon wandering from one You've Got Mail location to the next. 
It was a Meg Ryan kind of birthday. 
It involved a lot of eating (and a lot of being pregnant) in a lot of different places. It was pretty great.

Magnolia cupcakes for lunch. 

Gray's Papaya on West 72nd Street.

Cafe Lalo on West 83rd Street.

Pancakes at Good Enough To Eat.

Thanks for the perfect day, husband!



Guess Who Else Has A Birthday This Week?

Peter Pan! He is five today. Five!

This is our long-standing family birthday tradition. I hope you enjoy my large pregnant butt in the freeze frame, and my large pregnant face for the remaining two minutes. There's just really nothing I can do about it.

Happy Birthday, Pete!

Thoughts On Moscow: The Blessing Of A Late Bloomer at 36 Weeks

I wanted to write something about Moscow, Idaho. About what it was like to live in Moscow, and what it was like to leave Moscow, and about the four years in Moscow that have changed me so much, and about how I hardly recognize myself after Moscow, but about how it is in only the very best possible ways, and about how much stronger and better I am because of Moscow.

But instead, I am am going to tell you about my peonies.

I always felt a dear kinship to the peonies living along my fence in Moscow. Those peonies, bless their hearts, never could seem to blossom on time.

I suppose it isn't true that I was a late bloomer, because the fact is, I wasn't. I was a near-early-to-normal bloomer, having grown hips where hips belonged by the time hips were expected, but I can't shake the notion that somehow a late bloomer I am nonetheless.

Just like, for instance, my peonies.

Three summers ago I accompanied my husband to every nursery in the great panhandle of Northern Idaho. His mission was to landscape the vast and barren stretch of earth extending southward from our fence to the curb, and mine was to purchase the perfect flowering shrub. A shrub that would turn me into a true woman. A shrub that I could put into the ground and nurture, thus establishing my own flowering roots in the soft earth of Idaho. That summer I discovered a deep love for blue hydrangeas, purple blooms of lilac, and also that summer was when I learned that the peony, my very favorite flower, is actually something which comes from a bush. My eyes were opened! Peonies for all!

Under the sun-drenched sky I lovingly pored over peony bushes, contemplating colors, bloom sizes, every possible possibility, before finally selecting my peonies. Three in pale pink, and one in deep fuchsia. I planted them in soft, rich dirt under a gentle June sun. Those peonies held deep promise for me and I was beside myself with peony dreams.

And then, nothing happened. My peonies went into the ground and stared into the sun and drank up all the water I lovingly gave them and just sat there. Oh, their stems grew tall and their leaves grew bushy, but those buds remained small and shut tight, unwilling to open or blossom or do anything spectacular. And I was so puzzled. Down the street, lazy bushes of peonies would heavily droop to the sidewalk, burdened with their blossoms, sagging with the weight of their easy fabulousness. I just couldn't understand it.

And then I realized that my peonies were taking after me.

Those four years I lived in Idaho I was struggling with my own blossoming. I was struggling to find meaning in my faith, struggling to find balance between work and my dreams, and even more profoundly, I was struggling to fulfill the very basic purpose of my creation.

I was that slow little peony bush, watching the other peonies bend and open and bloom, unable to unlock the secret for myself, frustrated and confused and incredibly sad.

But this is what I will remember about my Moscow: Each and every August, months after the other peonies in town had blossomed and faded and died, my own little peonies would finally burst open.

Three in pale pink, one in deep fuchsia.

And every August I would rediscover a hope caught up inside of my chest. Hope for my own eventual August.

So, happy August to me.