Wednesday, January 17, 2007

No More Quiet Weekends

The cry of a newborn baby boy filled the birthing room at Evergreen Medical Center at 4:30 pm. Doctor Arleta Lewis handed the baby to a nurse, who very quickly whisked him away to be cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket. Doug’s worried face watched her attend to his son, until I squeezed his hand as another contraction wracked my body. The other one was coming!

We sat in a hot tub, with the jets pointed firmly at my lower back, and waited. One more contraction, and I could feel the baby moving. Three contractions later, our daughter was born.

Dr Lewis pulled the baby from the tub, and the nurse handed our son to Doug. She took our daughter from Dr. Lewis. Arleta delivered the placenta, and declared that I was doing wonderfully. The nurse returned with the baby, and placed her in my arms. Doug and I cried and kissed and said hello to our new little ones.

Eventually, I had to get out of the tub, and it took two nurses to help me out of the tub and into my bed. When I was settled in, Doug handed me my son, grabbed his daughter and scooted next to me on the bed.

Molly Lynn was 5 lbs, 7 oz and 18 inches long. Ryan Douglas was 5 lbs, 9 oz and 18 1/2 inches long. Ten little fingers and toes on each child, and two perfect little noses and four rosy cheeks. Molly had my mouth, and Ryan had his daddy’s eyes.

Doug called everyone we knew and announced the babies weights and measurements like they were Easter hams to our family and friends.

Jack asked why they weren’t named “Arwen” and “Legolas.” Truth is, I suggested “Eowyn” as a middle name, but when Doug didn’t know who she was, I stopped suggesting names from the Lord of the Rings. Molly is a fairly common name, but also was my little homage to Harry Potter.

We spent the rest of the night learning to feed twins, sleeping, and talking to family and friends. Molly and Ryan ate and cried and we tried to figure out what was wrong. When they finally fell asleep, we stared in wonder at the new little miracles that had been bestowed upon us. I fell into an exhausted, but contented sleep that night.

The next day, after a thorough examination from the doctor, Doug and I were escorted to the parking lot with our babies, and we headed home. They were so tiny in their little car seats.

Chris met us at the door. She had been watching Pugsley and Wednesday. Pugsley was now full
grown, but not grown up…he bolted out the door and attempted to climb into the car as we detached the car seats from their frames. I blocked him from jumping up, and he hopped up and down and ran between the front steps and the car in smaller and smaller circles, until he had led us to the front door. We stepped inside, where Chris was barely managing to constrain a wiggling Wednesday. We put the babies on the dining room table, and Chris put the pug down.

I gave Chris a hug and introduced her to her neice and nephew. She said Jack was going to be so jealous that she got to see them first!

The dogs ran and yipped and chased each other through the entry and dining room, until Wednesday stopped short, sniffing. She barked, a short warning bark, to let us know something had changed. Chris jumped. Doug and I laughed. Molly cried. Wednesday and Pugsley tilted their heads.

I picked up Wednesday and scratched her ears. She sniffed the air over the babies. We had been introducing smells of baby lotion and shampoos for several months now, and making sure that Pugsley and Wednesday did not cross into the twin's room. She knew the scent and started backing up. Molly cried again, and Wednesday wiggled her way out of my arms and ran into the kitchen, peeking through the door and barking. Pugsley followed her into the kitchen before we could get our hands on him!

Chris stayed for a couple of days and helped out until we got a good routine going with the babies. Pugsley and Wednesday finally learned to sleep in their crates again. They would bark when the babies cried and more than one early morning was spent trying to calm the twin that had been sleeping until the dog barked at them.

Doug went back to work a few days after the twins were born. He worked half days for awhile, and I was really grateful when he walked in the door! We each were in charge of a kid, and handled the feeding, diapering and napping until bedtime.

The pugs were not so cooperative. Once, Wednesday jumped on the couch and tried to sit between me and the baby when I was changing diapers. The resulting mess was disgusting, and made me very glad that I had tile floors in the living room. We changed the babies in their room from then on.

We also made sure we spent time with the dogs without the babies around.

One night, Doug and I laid in bed with our babies sleeping between us, Wednesday and Pugsley snoring in their crates. He looked me deep in the eyes and said, "I guess this will have to pass for quiet weekends now!"

Ryan inhaled stiffly and we braced ourselves for a scream, but he only sighed and drifted back to sleep. I said, "We'll take as much quiet as we can get!"

The Announcement

My father’s surprise birthday party was going to be starting in twenty minutes. My cell phone rang, and my dad was on the line complaining that my mother was trying to get him to go out, when he wanted to stay in and watch football.

The horror!

Wednesday barked at Pugsley.

Dad asked why the dogs were with me, and I told him we were on our way to a friend’s house. I explained to him, again, the wonders of TiVO and sensing that he was not going to get any sympathy from me, he unenthusiastically agreed to record the game and go to lunch with Mom.

As soon as I stepped out of the car at my brother’s place, Jack spotted me. He ran up, threw his arms around me, and asked if it was a boy or girl. I told him we would find out next week. Then I told him to keep it quiet.

“Quiet-er. It’s part of dad’s birthday present. I’m giving him baby booties.”

“Why? They aren’t gonna fit him.”

“They’re not for him to wear, smarty.”

“He’s gonna do cartwheels!”

“Then we better tell the waitress to clear out some tables. And somebody go get me a video camera. America’s Funniest Home Videos won’t be able to pass this one up!”

“Oh, ha-ha. He’ll be at the restaurant in twenty minutes.”

“Thirty. I just got off the phone with him. He’s complaining that mom want’s to go to lunch, so I walked him through recording the Seahawks game.”

“Gotta love TivO.”

“Best Christmas present we ever gave Mom!”

We unloaded the dogs and said our hellos to my niece and nephew. Taylor was almost three and Patrick was 11 months old. Taylor and I had invented a game where we squished each other’s noses, so most of our time was spent squishing and making squishing noises. Patrick wanted in on the fun, so we included him in the game too.

Chris came out from the bedroom, and said, “You’ll have to do better than that if you don’t want anybody to know.”

I threw a furious glare at Jack, but he shook his head. “If you want to keep this quiet, Loony, you better show up after dinner! That sweater doesn’t hide anything!”

Jack and Chris played with Wednesday for a few minutes, then I introduced our latest four-legged family member, Pugsley. Jack rolled his eyes and made me promise that I would only do this to the pets, not the kids.

“You named your son after our great aunt. You have no room to speak.”

“Patrick. Not Patricia.”

“Yeah, okay. He’s still gonna be called Pat. Just like her.”

“Not if Auntie Lynn wants to live.”

“Alright, you two,” Chris interjected. “Don’t make me turn this car around!”

“Speaking of cars,” Doug said, checking his watch, “we have five minutes to get to the restaurant if we wanted to get there ahead of your parents.” We locked up the dogs, piled in our respective cars and Doug followed Jack through town to Frankie Doodles.

Our great aunt Pat had decorated one whole wall of the restaurant, with the brightest, flashiest decorations she could find. A mylar banner sprawled across the wall above our bright fuschia table, boldly announcing my father’s age to the world in fluorescent orange. “Happy 60th Birthday!” Brightly colored hats and noise makers littered the table, and bouquets of balloons flanked the seating area. Floyd was pleading with his wife to stop spraying confetti everywhere. Pat told him to mind his own beeswax. He just shook his head and shrugged as he picked his seat.

“Holy shitake mushrooms!” Jack stopped dead in front of the table and declared it to be the gaudiest thing he ever saw in his life. Doug, Chris and I nodded in agreement. It was perfect!

Dad and Mom arrived ten minutes later, and he pretended to be dismayed by all the fuss, but we all knew better. Everyone kissed their hellos, and we found our places at the table and started eating.

Chris handed Patrick to me and said I should start practicing. My mother looked at me funny, but I busied myself with opening a jar of strained carrots for my nephew. He sat in his high-chair with his mouth open like a baby bird. Soon enough his face was covered with strained carrots and bits of chicken sticks. Chris just shook her head.

When dinner was barely finished, Jack announced that it was time to open gifts, and shoved my gift into dad’s hand.

“Kinda wide, don’t ya think? Did you pack each one in its own box?” Jack spoke in that low voice he gets when he wants to talk quietly. Naturally, everyone at the table heard him.

Dad pulled two little white baby booties from the box and the whole table erupted with congratulations and squeals of joy. Doug announced that we were due in March or April, and that we’d find out next month if we were having boys or girls. At this, Dad looked back into the package, and pulled a second pair of booties from the wrapping.

Gasps of “Twins!” ran around the table, and my mother started snapping pictures. She does that when she get’s emotional and there’s a camera around. I rather deftly diverted attention back to my father and said, “Next present!”

Our audience swerved their heads back to my dad, who gleefully opened the large, flat package from my brother; a custom built dashboard for his 1953 International TravelAll. “Brushed aluminum!” We girls rolled our eyes at each other, while the boys ogled the car parts. For several years now, my father has been restoring old International private passenger trucks and Scouts, but he was having a hard time finding just the right dash board for his own truck. His perfectionism had given him a good reputation and his restored trucks were keeping him busy. When Jack told me what he was getting for Dad, I had no idea what he was talking about, but seeing it in person, I had to admit, it really was beautiful.

After the presents were opened, my mom gave me a big hug and told me she was so happy for me and Doug. “But,” she said, “I’m really happy for your Dad and me. We’re going to be grandparents again!”

She asked if we had picked names, and with a straight face, I told her that if we had boys, we’d name them “Gomez” and “Fester.”

Quiet Weekends

It was a warm Saturday night in Seattle, and Pugsley was in a ball, snoring loudly on my lap as I sat reading. Curled up on the couch reading the final Harry Potter with growing excitement and dread, I stopped every few pages to quietly mourn that this would be the last book, and chastise myself for being such a nerd.

My husband had gone upstairs to bed hours before, shaking his head and muttering about losing his 35 year old wife to a 17 year old who doesn’t even exist. I love my husband heart and soul, but he married me knowing full well how obsessed I was with the Boy Who Lived. He thinks it’s because the young man who plays Harry in the movies is cute. Truth is I lost my heart to Harry long before Master Radcliffe was even considered for the role!

At 3am, I finished the final Harry Potter book, weeping with loss. I always feel a little sad when I finish a new book. There was an especial sadness this time, knowing this was end of the series. I said a silent prayer for Jo in her time of loss, and then blew my nose.

Pugsley jolted upright at the sound, and nearly fell off my lap. He stretched his little puppy legs and yawned. I gently snuggled him for a second, and he licked my face. I carried him upstairs to the bedroom, and he had almost fallen back to sleep when I put him down in front of his crate. He hopped in reluctantly, but soon settled down and began snoring again.

I woke Wednesday up to get her off my pillow, and she staggered to the foot of the bed, collapsing dramatically in a heap and promptly started snoring again. I joined my husband under the covers, and dreamed all night about a dark wizard, and a boy with bright green eyes.

The next day, I went to the various Harry Potter fan sites on the internet. I read the editorials, the message boards and found solace in the grieving community of fans who had spent the better part of the last two years anticipating what would happen next. Of course, we all want more, but out of respect for Jo, the consensus was that we would not ask.

My husband peeked in the office to check on me, and I noticed he had his waders and fly rod.

“I love you!” I yelled.

“I love you too, Babe. Be back in an hour or so.”

“Okay. Have fun! Did you take the camera?”

“Yes. I’m taking the dogs.”

“Great. Don’t let Wednesday teach Pugsley any bad habits out there!”

“Yeah, right. See you later!”

The sound of felt wading boots receded, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of two sets of dog claws scrabbling on slate tile. The door shut quietly and the house was silent again. I finished checking the editorials on Mugglenet for new entries, and commented on a few message board threads before shutting down the computer and heading into the kitchen.

I put a pork roast in the slow cooker with a packet of onion soup mix and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Then I pulled a shallot, two yellow squash and two zucchini out of the fridge and sliced them into a bowl. I minced three cloves of garlic, and tossed them with the vegetables and a tablespoon of olive oil.

I happened to look out the window to our backyard where my husband was standing 10 feet out in the river, our pugs cavorting along the shore line and digging holes in the dirt. Our fawn colored pug, Wednesday, was turning a dark shade of brown as she splashed in the river bank, and then rolled in the dirt. The black puppy, Pugsley, was quickly fading to brown as he copied everything she did. I opened the back porch door and they came bounding up the hill like excited pre-schoolers showing their mommy a new discovery.

Doug waived at me from the river and I waived back. It was our signal that the dogs had scared away all his fish, and he’s going a little way upstream to try elsewhere. The evening hatch would be starting soon, and I didn’t have much time. I put the bowl of veggies into the fridge, donned my waders and vest, and locked the dogs in the mud room. I walked down the steep hill to join my husband in the river.

I picked a nice fat Hemmingway and clamped down the barb. Doug gave me an amused look when he saw the fly. He knew it was my favorite. I walked upstream about 10 feet, and observed the hatch in action. Large stone flies were landing on the water, depositing their eggs. The lucky ones flew off again. The not so lucky ones were sucked under. I watched the stretch of river for a few seconds and made my cast. My fly drifted along lazily on top of the water where I had just seen a rise. Two casts later, a 15 inch trout sipped it, and I called out to my husband to show him my catch. He took a picture, and I let the fish back into the water.

Doug handed me the camera. He walked upstream from me about 5 feet, cast once, and caught a 22- incher. The show off.

He has been fishing since he was four years old. He is a fish magnet. On charter boats, he is always the first to catch a fish, and he always catches more fish than anyone else. He took up fly fishing in his twenties to give himself a challenge. Any fly fisher will tell you that there are going to be days when you will not catch anything. For Doug, those days were when he was teaching me, and only got to demonstrate techniques. Even then, the line was tapped…

We caught several more fish, dutifully captured them on memory card, and spent the rest of the twilight hours trying to keep from inhaling swarms of stone fly hatchlings. Just after sunset, we began the long walk downstream, then up the hill to the house. Thankfully, I put the porch light on before I walked down. Many a Sunday evening has been spent walking up that hill in the dark, trampling the ferns and tripping over gnarled tree roots.

When we opened the back door, the pork roast had filled the house with a delicious aroma, and both of us felt our stomachs growling. The roast was not quite done yet, so we gave the dogs their weekly bath. We had a dog shower installed in our mud room during the remodel last year. The look on the contractor’s face when we told him our idea was worth the price of the installation. Basically, it has all the features of a regular shower enclosure, but three feet high. Finding the door was the hard part.

The dogs love shower time. Wednesday runs in little laps around the floor, and we have to try to keep them from licking the soap suds off each other. We each grabbed a towel and I grabbed Wednesday. We dried the wigglers as best we could, and I stuffed both of them into their pajamas to finish the drying process, while Doug sautéed the vegetables I had prepped for him. Pugsley immediately started chewing on the left-front sleeve of his pj’s. I sprayed some bitter apple on the sleeve. He took a bite, shook his head and started smacking his lips. He sneezed, sniffed the sleeve and gave it an experimental lick. He shook his head and sneezed again. Out of compulsion, he sniffed the sleeve again. I sprayed the right sleeve before he discovered the other side tastes better. Wednesday sniffed the air, wrinkled her nose and trotted over to the door.

The dogs followed me into the kitchen and I set out the plates and silverware. Then I grabbed their food bowls. Pugsley ran in excited little circles until I said, “Down.” He dropped down and stayed very still. As soon as I touched the bowls, Wednesday ran into the other room. She sat on the other side of the door and peeked around the corner. I set the full bowls in their crates and called them. Pugsley ran straight in and started chomping away. I closed his door and called for Wednesday again.

She had her head turned resolutely away from me, but had her ears cocked back toward me, and then would sneak quick little sideways glances to see where I was. I called her again, and she grudgingly turned around and laid down. I pointed at her crate and said “Come.” She licked her chops and sat up. I snapped my fingers, and she seemed to resign herself to eating in her crate and reluctantly hopped in. By the time we were done, Pugsley was already finished and was rooting around to find a comfortable sleeping position.

Serenaded by two snoring pugs, Doug and I enjoyed a romantic dinner where I regaled him with the fantastic events of the book, we talked about the fish we caught, and discussed what we were going to do with the leftover pork roast for the rest of the week.

I did the dishes, and Doug updated his fishing blog and uploaded some pictures. We got done around the same time. I let the dogs out of their crates in the kitchen, and they scrambled up the stairs. I took Doug’s hand, and led him upstairs to our room.

“My temperature is at 98.7 tonight,” I romantically whispered in his ear.

“You’re hot,” he whispered back in a teasing whisper as he nibbled my ear.

We tried again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Ghost in the Office

I gave my company WAY TOO MUCH notice that I was leaving. Now I sit in a closet with the marketing items, wondering if I can sell them on eBay, or if they're really useless to anyone outside the business...

The other half of my day is spent wondering if I can just shut the door to the marking closet and sleep, or if anyone would notice if I did.

My contribution to the company now is limited to sorting mail. But soon, that will be taken away from me too.

The only person that has spoken to me so far today is the receptionist when I arrived this morning and we both mumbled hello. Now, when I pass through the lobby, we nod and smile at each other.

One person, who I thought I was friends with, came by with her new baby last week. I found out from someone who asked that afternoon if I had seen the baby. I hadn't. I didn't even know she had been in the office!

I take days off to interview for other companies. Just yesterday, I was flown out to Scottsdale for an interview with a company that has an opening where I'm moving. It felt more like an interrogation than an interview. I still don't know what to think about the job, but I told them I was interested. I've still got a month to generate some excitement or feeling about it.

In the meantime, I linger in this office like a ghost. The ghost of Kristie past...