Friday, January 30, 2009

The Week Ahead

Curse you, NOAA. I curse your name.

Snowed In

I feel like I've been inside my house for a thousand years. I also feel like every single time I've had any sort of social plan this month, the weather has thwarted this plan. Like the other day, when I wanted to do burpees in the living room (not that this is very social) the freezing weather decided to make our garden hose explode. Lord knows how many hours the water was spraying and freezing all over the side of our house/driveway/car before I got it all shut down. That was cool.

Or today I was supposed to meet an old teammate and her baby for lunch, only we got 3 inches of snow so far, it's not showing signs of stopping, and each of us lives atop a hill with no way of traversing in between.

I have this sinking, terrible fear that I will be unable to leave Pittsburgh this weekend and miss a very important happening in Lebanon (not to mention the pot pie war). Or if I do get out, I'll get stuck out and miss watching the super bowl here with the Steeler Nation.

January, I have had enough of you. You need to end. Right now. Immediately. Get out of my face and take your damn sub-freezing, snowy, awful weather with you. You have outstayed your welcome. Git!

In other news, this house arrest has awarded me ample time to work on my first sweater. I have the back, front, and half of one sleeve complete. Probably my stomach will be too big to wear it by the time I finally finish it...have to wait until next winter I guess. Or I could let (*make) Corey wear it...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Old Man Winter? I defeat you!

It's snowing again. On top of the ice and snow from yesterday. I don't think Corey and I are going to escape the neighborhood anytime soon, as the unplowed brick side streets aren't conducive to driving. This was fine with me, as I'm still in my pajamas completing a productive day working from home. And it was fine for Corey, since he could ride his knobbly-tired bicycle to work and beat even the delayed buses. But what about Crossfit?

I mean, heck, it's day 24 of the burpee challenge and we just finished Painstorm. We can't take a day off now! I feel very excited to say that I am undefeated by this winter storm. Thanks to the kettlebell I got for Christmas and Corey's pull-up bars in the basement, we are going to complete Barbara from home tonight. 5 rounds for time of 20 pull-ups, 30 pushups, 40 situps, and 50 squats.

I have my exercise ball all set to go for the situps so I don't squish the baby and am fully prepared to subsitute Good Mornings with the kettlebell if I can't finish the pullups. Neither gestation nor snow will keep me sedentary today, I tell you! I will overcome!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

True Love

I was out of town this weekend and missed Corey's birthday. I felt terrible about it, and even more terrible when I drove through 4 hours of snowy disaster along route 70 from Columbus, OH to Pittsburgh to get home on Sunday. I was in such a foul mood our Sunday evening was not what one might call quality time spent together.

So Monday I was determined to hang out with Corey. I went to the early Crossfit and endured a PainStorm workout, came home and wanted to visit my long lost, now older husband. But he needed to ride his bike. Since it was 18 degrees outside and the basement is too cold for me to hang out these days, Corey brought Bianchi upstairs and rode in the living room so we could hang out while he did his cardio!

(note the excellent use of the old, useless phone book to support his front wheel so it's at equal height to the trainer. Note also the disgusting sweat towel he had thrown on the sofa, which I promptly relocated to a less gross spot)

I was so excited to just spend some time together, time that has been on short supply these past few weeks and will continue to be until after Frost Bike (for him) and AWP (the writing conference I'm attending). But the most exciting part of all was that we both still managed to work in some cardio and retain our health. I think the baby could tell and knows that he or she had better not be a couch potato.

I wonder if I'll still be excited about this event 2 years from now, when the bike is still set up in the living room?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fued's A-Brewin'

First, some background information. My brother-in-law is a devout vegetarian, has been for years. My sister is not quite a vegan in that, from time to time (like when she's pregnant) she can be convinced to eat some poultry that was raised sans cage, antibiotics, or hormones with a vegetarian diet. Certified Humane chicken or turkey, in other words.

This couple is coming home to Lebanon for a visit, bringing my nephew along. The only meat he has ever consumed is sporadic dosages of this C.H. poultry. Sami, my sister, is a phenomenal cook who spends many hours preparing flavorful and hearty (if small-portioned) meals to suit their diet choices. I often say if I had my sister around to cook for me all the time, I'd be vegan no sweat. It all tastes that good.

Anyway, like most kids from Lebanon, my sister grew up eating chicken pot pie. For those people not from Lebanon, our version of PA Dutch pot pie is different from your vision. We eat something more like chicken noodle soup, only with very, very wide noodles and big chunks of potatoes. Some people put Karo syrup on top of it, which I have never done and find gross. Also, it is often served with a side of dandelion salad and bacon dressing.

My Nanny makes the best chicken pot pie in the world and likes to have the entire extended Hatfield clan get together frequently to eat it. We made some at my house when the clan came to Pittsburgh last winter, for example. Nanny has the best heart and intentions in the world and tried to make the pot pie vegetarian so Richard, my BIL, would eat it. This means she boiled the chicken to make broth and then picked the meat out and ate that separately.

My mom tried to explain that Richard still won't eat the pot pie (and probably I won't either) and that we would bring something different for him to eat. Nanny, who just turned 80 and grew up during the Great Depression, doesn't get it. Meanwhile, my dad and younger sister are all freaking out that there won't be chicken in the vegetarian pot pie that the vegetarians won't eat anyway. Why can't the chicken be on the side? They want chicken, God damn it! (Nanny, again with her big heart, thought perhaps to serve hot dogs and sauer kraut as a side dish to make everyone happy)

I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know why my grandma made the pot pie a week in advance, I don't know how to turn down this meal without being ungrateful and rude, and I don't know what the hell will happen when all my aunts and cousins and uncles show up and discover there is no chicken in the vegetarian pot pie the vegetarians won't eat. Probably people will yell (they would yell anyway...there's a lot of people and voices will boom). Probably Richard will try to calmly explain his dietary choices and be drowned out by the SuperBowl pregame shows on the tv. Hopefully nobody will cry.

My hope is that in the end everyone will appreciate how much work and thought my grandma put into such a big family gathering and what it really means for someone of her years to give such consideration to everyone's choices. I mean, imagine telling someone who grew up during times of ration that there are people turning down perfectly cheap meat? It sounds a bit crazy to me, too. I wonder if we can bring over a pack of veggie dogs, stick 'em in buns and eat them with mashed potatoes and nobody will even notice? I guess we'd have to make the mashed potatoes, too...

Friday, January 23, 2009


For the past 3 weeks, I've been doing the 100 Burpee challenge. This means that on day one, you do one burpee, day 2, 2, all the way up to 100 burpees. I didn't even really want to participate, but the whole Crossfit program is doing it so I finally became really interested. What if I really got to a point where I could do 100 of them??

Today is day 19 for me, only I have to do 19+20+21 since I'm going away this weekend to a pretty un-burpee-conducive place. I don't know if it's because burpees are hard or because I'm pregnant, but I am really struggling this morning. I'm trying to do 10 every half hour as a break from work, and it takes me forever to catch my breath afterward.

I take some solace in knowing I'm not alone. There's a whole blog set up about the burpee challenge and lots of ruggers are doing them around the country. I even convinced my friend Kelly E to burpee along with me! But I'm not going to lie. This is hard. And cumbersome.

There's just something about having set this goal, though. Eventually I'm going to be dedicating over a half hour of each day to burpee-ing, and that's great! I'll have this huge baby bump and have to shift the pushups to planks, but I'll still be trying.

I think this is the hardest physical goal I've ever set for myself. Corey and I had talked about doing a biathalon this summer, before we knew I was pregnant. Since I can no longer do that, I'm glad I have something to work toward as he begins training in earnest for the marathon. On to burpees 21-30!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

9 Month Evaluation

It's been awhile since I really sat down and evaluated myself and my work progress. So here's another stab at it.

I have gotten better at this. I still have a lot of downtown, which is uncool, but I'm getting really good at re-pitching stories, respinning stuff I've already written in an attempt to resell and reuse that research. I also took a training class for a local volunteer radio program, so on down weeks I'm going to commit to writing radio stories. I won't get paid, but who can't use a little radio writing exposure?

I would say this is an overall improvement, but I am still reticent to feel satisfied until I've come to a place where I don't have downtime. I want a steady stream of paying work, ether. And I will not rest until I have it. (Unless rest counts as internet surfing, which is technically story research, right?)

I've done really well in this aspect. I started writing for online publications, done more corporate work, branched out into other markets. I'm still working on this and sending out cold letters of introduction, but I'm happy with what I've done here.

I feel really settled into the fact that I love to write about health/fitness, food, and the environment. I've been really lucky to get lots of story assignments that generally combine 2 of those 3 aspects. This is working well for me, but still leaves space for me to write about other things for various clients.

I wanted to feel depressed about this, but earlier this week I landed an assignment in a major national pub. Granted, it's a dinky 175 word piece, but it's a national clip and I'm stoked about it. I will have an additional piece in Ode, too.

On the unlucky side, some of my local clients are drying up. I need to use this setback as an opportunity to push for more national exposure. I'm doing a good job getting this via internet work. It's that lofty print magazine goal that hovers over my head and calls to me. I want you, Rodale. I want to work for you and write for you. I must keep working and get ready to be there.

I exceeded my financial goal for 2008 by $3,000. This is exciting. Because I am a worry wart and because I have a baby inside my body, I can't help but panic about 2009, mostly because I'm not off to a good start financially. I'm making it. Getting by, if you will, and even saving a Simolean or two, but a living wage (to me) means being able to buy maternity pants without having to trade all-you-can-eat crabs with the rugby team. I'd feel better if my income were more steady. I know this is the life I chose and the anxiety and cashflow drama is generally part of the freelance career.

But I take what I learned from Michelle Goodman seriously and want to rise above the ebb and flow, making what I do a viable, steady business that I can love without as much anxiety over my bills. Corey says I'm not being patient with myself and that businesses take years to get established. He might be right, but since when have I ever been patient about anything?

Given sporadic income spurts and periodic downtime between gigs, I'm still giving myself a B. Always room to improve!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mark the Plumber=WIN

We finally called the plumber to deal with our water woes that began a few weeks ago. Mark showed up bright and early at 830 this morning and began calling me "young lady."

He stuck some sort of pressure valve on the basement sink and we quickly learned that our water pressure is actually higher than that of a fire hose. Over 150 pounds of pressure per square inch flow through our copper pipes every time we turn the spigot. Mark said he was surprised more of our fixtures hadn't been leaking or exploded by now.

Since our previous owners, famously odd contractors, built drywall around the water main to the house, Mark had to saw into the wall to fix the broken pressure valve but then he helped with a preventative measure and installed an "expansion tank" so we have lower pressure now. Around 50 pounds per square inch. It still feels like we have plenty of water, but now the faucet doesn't jump like a startled puppy when I go to rinse my hands.

Thanks to the awfully cold weather cracking our valve, we caught a potentially disastrous situation before it ruined our house. Yay for Mark!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Best Gift Ever

For Christmas, Corey and I agreed our gift to each other would be a romantic date-type event. Our original thought was an overnight at a bed and breakfast with some snow-shoeing, but copious weekend travel plans and awful weather made us rethink that option. We went with tickets to a Penguins game instead.

One day last week, the heavens opened up and my friend Laura decided she was not using her season tickets so we got awesome seats for face value! What a good friend indeed. We chose the Friday night game against the Anaheim Ducks. As luck would have it, Sid Crosby was injured and not playing, which made Corey very sulky that we did not choose the Wednesday game earlier in the week. This would turn out to be the only sour patch of the night.

We trudged in the 6 degree frost to Mellon Arena. Laura hooked us up with a secret parking space that was not only free, but away from the bottleneck of post game madness. Another victory.

Plus, the arena was well heated. We spent 3 glorious hours NOT wrapped in blankets or hats or gloves. It was worth it just for the warmth on that deathly cold night, which continued to get better.

Shortly into the first period, the jumbotron alerted us to the fact that Jeff Reed was sitting near us!!! You wouldn't know this from watching him on TV, but he has very tall, bleached blond hair shaped like Troll Doll hair--all spiked out and wildly pointy. I was slightly alarmed to see him with a beer, like 'hey Jeff Reed! Don't get wasted and dehydrated cuz you have important work to do on Sunday!'

When I went to the bathroom after the first period, I stumbled a bit upon leaving the lavatory and who should be walking past me in the hall, also tripping over his too-long pants? Jeff Reed!!! You would think I would take this opportunity to discourage him from refilling his beer, but I did not. I scampered back to my seat to report to Corey.

At this point, the night becomes a big, hazy smog of joy as the announcer informed us that our entire section won free potato chips. Free! Chips! Can you think of anything better to give out to a starving pregnant woman at a hockey game? I can't! I'll tell you what, those were the best damn chips of my entire life. Corey grabbed two bags from the box, so we each ate 1.5 bags and nearly died of joy.

I'm not even surprised the Pens won the game. How could they not, with the fates being so generous? After it was all over, we scuttled up the hill to our car and made it home in under 15 minutes. No traffic jams or honking like the suckers down the hill were dealing with. Not us. Filled with chips and Steelers sightings, we had enough energy to go home and watch TV before bed.

Truly a Friday to remember forever and the best gift I've ever gotten.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And Again

Yesterday I got up pretty early, knowing I had only a small window to go to the grocery store. I spent an hour drinking fruity tea and planning out our week of meals and the corresponding shopping list. I had already snipped coupons from the paper the weekend before, so I had those ready to go along with a gift card. I got dressed, brushed my teeth, asked Corey for any additions, and headed to Giant Eagle.

I pulled into the parking lot, pretty darn proud of myself for conquering my pregnancy brain and remembering all the cloth bags. I sort of skipped a little as I neared the produce, reached into my pocket to pull out the list and start shopping. Then I remembered that the list, coupons, and gift card were on the dining room table.

I must tell you, this was a low moment in my life. I'm still recovering from the events earlier in the week and the realization that I am really and truly going to be helpless left me in tears. Of course, everything makes me cry these days--from commercials to produce sales to songs --but I am not generally in public when this happens.

I tried calling Corey, but he is comatose when he is asleep and just snoozed right through my four phone calls. I had to recreate the list from memory and drive home, sort of dejected. I did an ok job, but the experience left me feeling really blue the whole day.

I told Corey I really need him to be my partner through this process. When I leave the house, I need him to review where I'm going, what I'm supposed to have with me for such excursions, etc. Like how he helped me remember my wallet when I left for a radio writing class later in the afternoon, because I can no longer remember such things on my own.

This is going to be a long, arduous process.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How Could This Happen?

I forgot to go to my midwife appointment yesterday. Just forgot to go. It was written on the calendar in the kitchen. It's a pretty important thing, a midwife appointment. You know, to verify that the human being I'm gestating is doing ok. Seems pretty monumental. But I forgot!!!

I discovered the forgettal at around 7 last night--way too late to call and deal with it. That meant I had to suffer anxiety overnight and into this morning. I'm anxiously awaiting 830 so I can call and deal with this.

Corey can't understand why I'm so upset. He thinks people miss appointments all the time. And he's right. But I am NOT those people. I'm just better than them. It's in my genetic makeup. I keep appointments. Always. And they live in my brain regardless of whether I write them down. Not only do I remember all my appointments, but I remember Corey's. In high school, I had a flaky friend and I used to remind HIM of his appointments...for CHEMO. Katy does not just forget things. It's appalling.

The worst part is this is the second time this has happened in a one week period. Last Wednesday, I was supposed to go see the new slavery exhibit at the Heinz History Center with my friend Libby. We talked about it for weeks, even discussed the day before: meet there at 1230.

So at 1230 Wednesday, Libby calls. I'm in my pajamas, teeth unbrushed, working on a draft at my desk. Completely oblivious to our plans. I had to race down there, fight the parking gods in the Strip, and explode, breathless, into the museum.

I feel like someone has hijacked my body and I'm standing outside, pounding on the door, begging to be let back in. I just don't recognize myself and it makes me afraid, honestly. What else have I forgotten? What editor is sitting out there furious with me for missing a deadline? What interview subject is pissed that I missed an appointment? Whom have I forgotten to invoice???

I read that pregnant women become forgetful and drop things, but I never believed that something so integral to my being, my iron trap memory, would fade away from me. This is a terrifying wakeup call for me. Something very, very complicated is happening in my body and I'm not sure how to make it through.

Just called maternal fetal medicine and talked to Kim on the phone. She said, "'am? Your appointment is for January 21. It has not happened yet..."

My God, what has happened to me?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Maternity Clothes

Me: I got new pants
Corey: Let's see
(I put on the the living room)
Me: What do you think?
Corey: (Looks. Turns back to the Eagles/Giants game)
Me: What? You don't like them because they have a big elastic band instead of a waist?

Today I am wearing maternity clothes. I didn't really think I had grown enough of a belly to warrant such things, but after trying on the clothes in the store and realizing how comfortable they were, I actually became excited to wear them full time.

My shirt? It actually fits over my bosom. I'm not completely self conscious about the taut material stretched to the bursting point over my gangas. Instead, I'm just sitting back in my chair letting my belly slurp over the top of my elastic waist pants, hidden by the extra long, flowy material of my comfortable shirt. The pants are jeans to the outside world, but I know that instead of a fly there's a 2-inch thick blue band.

Remember that episode of Friends where Joey wears Phoebe's maternity overalls and calls them his turkey pants? I think that I have found my own turkey pants, only I'll use them for rice and big bowls of pasta. This is the best outfit ever.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Water Woes

I'm taking a time-out from fretting about my boobs to fret about our plumbing. I feel like this weekend, everything in our house that could leak water began to do so.

It all started Saturday, when Corey felt productive. He scraped paint away from the vent controls, so we can turn off the heat in the bedrooms we don't use. "Hey! I turned off the heat in your office," he told me. As if I don't spend 8 hours a day in that room five days per week. "Don't forget to keep the door closed."

So then he tried to address the snoring sound our toilet makes. It's a very loud snore, and has been getting worse lately. He discovered that the snoring sound is not a malfunctioning valve as we had thought, but actually a slow water leak. This explains, I think, why our water bill doubled last month from $20 to $40.

My entire upstairs bathroom is dismantled and the water to the toilet is totally turned off, and it's been this way since Saturday. For a pregnant lady, this is a nightmare. I feel like I'm on Survivor when I have to walk down 2 flights of stairs to pee in the middle of the night. I've been trying to parch myself before bed so as not to have to walk through the heatless rooms in my pajamas. I told him if he doesn't turn the toilet back on today, I'm peeing in the tub.

The lag in toilet fixing is understandable, though, because the kitchen sink started to leak. Not just a subtle drip, but a steady stream of water flowing, flowing, flowing into the sink. So he had to fix that. And then as he was finishing the job, the fridge water spout began to explode all over the place. So he was examining that until well past midnight last night.

After a weekend of panic, we have one repaired sink, but still have a snoring toilet and aren't able to use the water dispenser in the fridge until we find out why the water from there is leaky and brown. Could be, perhaps, more upsetting than hard-to-contain breasts. Maybe.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"They Don't Make That Size"

Today I went on a mission: Laura and I drove to Ross Park Mall to have the Nordstrom ladies give me a professional bra fitting. My mother predicted my band size would be smaller than I've been wearing but the cups would be bigger. I thought the opposite, perhaps in a deep rooted hope of easier shopping?

Anyway, the super friendly woman hauled me into a dressing room and got out the measuring tape. She looked at the bra I was wearing--frayed at the middle, boobs squirting around all the sides--and said, "Do you...always wear bras like this?"

As it turns out I wear a 34DDD or 34F, depending on the bra company. While it's great to know this for sure, it's also really upsetting because, well, it's just damned near impossible to find bras in this size in the actual store. Most women with jugs this ample have wide backs, too. These pregnant boobs make me a problem shopper.

I quickly realized that I loved every single bra the woman at Nordstrom brought in for me to try on. I stood there with my nipples exposed to a complete stranger as she lashed me in to bras with actual lace, pretty bras in my size. Even the Oprah bra fit and looked nice. But then I realized they were $88. Each. Beyond my price range to say the least.

So Laura and I went to JC Penneys and asked the sales ladies there if they happened to have anything in a 34F. "No way!" the woman said. "Where'd you even get boobs like that? I'm not sure they even make that size."

Her co-worker protested. "No, no. They do. My grand-daughter is that size. If, sometimes, we get one in, I usually take it for her."

I scuttled off to the maternity section, sad. When I came back to pay for my goods, the sceptical woman had indeed found a bra in my size. When I tried it on, it didn't look pretty or lacy or European, but darn it if my rack didn't feel stable and secure in there. Plus it was on sale for $22.50.

All was looking up. I had a bra to tide me over until the internet could provide a few more. Things were good. Corey even asked to see this freak of nature boob satchel. Which is how I discovered that the sales woman neglected to remove the electronic security tag from my bra. I almost cried.

"It's ok! Don't be upset," Corey reassured me. "I can dremel that shit off." And he went down into his man cave. I heard whirring, grunting, and five minutes later he brought up a wearable tit-sling, smelling slightly of gun powder but tag free. Mission accomplished.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Lately, I've been upset about boobs. I would say the distress began in earnest the week of Christmas, when I finished the "Fight Gone Bad" workout and the body part that hurt the most was not my lungs but my nipples. One of my least favorite side effect of pregnancy is the boob pain. Fifteen minutes of exertion, and my chest was screaming, literally stabbing knives into my guts and making me want to die in a way nothing really ever has before.

My boobs held the center of my attention that entire day, and I noticed two things: my largest Frog Bras no longer fit and my tremendous tatas also squirted out the sides of my Hallelujah bra. These are the sorts of names bras have when they are large enough for my DD, unpregnant boobs. Swollen with second-trimester progesterone, I'm now entering the territory of bras with names like "Last Resort." Bras with buckles, straps, scaffolding. Over the shoulder boulder holders, if you will. Emphasis on the boulders.

Because man, do I have boulders. And they aren't even full of milk yet! I don't know what the hell I'mg going to do to contain them. My friend Laura had bigger boobs than mine pre-pregnancy. She has to special order her bras from England. Sure, I could go to Olga Warner with the old, Mennonite, mustachioed ladies and buy something beige. One of those, including underwire, would be ok for teaching or even grocery shopping.

But what the hell am I supposed to wear to exercise? Even before a baby swelled my bosom, my boobs would fall into my mouth during inverted yoga postures. They practically punch me in the face when I'm running. Is it too much to ask for the country to make big, sturdy bras for athletic endeavors? Why can't I go to Dick's like the rest of the athletes and actually try on my bras before purchasing?

Some of my buxom friends double up the flimsy little paper things from Wal-Mart. They buy like 80 of them at a time and wear them until they fall apart--two to three minutes probably.

This isn't a solution. That's at best a compromise.

I want bras. I want sturdy, compressing bras for my now DDD breasts. I'm not even asking for something pretty or something Tyra Banks would wear. Just something that keeps my boobs in the middle of my chest and my nipples still so they don't fire off another round of shrapnel into my body when I do burpees.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Gracias, In Laws!

Corey's parents got us some pretty sweet presents this year, too.

The first and most significant was a collection of gift certificates to Trader Joe's. We've already enjoyed some delicious strawberry licorice, countless produce and cereal items, delicious chocolate, and many yummy things for our pantry. This present goes nicely with the new Alice Waters cookbook Billy bought for me (in addition to the videos...). Talk about a family working together!

I think I can speak for Corey and say his favorite gift was the super rad puzzle his dad had made for us. It's a MAP (Corey LOVES maps!) of our neighborhood and the very center piece of the puzzle is our house. This puzzle piece is, in fact, shaped like a house.

The best part of this puzzle was the fact that there is no photograph of the puzzle to work from. You have to use your knowledge of which streets link with which waterways or alleys, intersecting which boroughs. Not only did we challenge ourselves with extreme puzzle assembly, but we also learned some more about the area in which we dwell. We put it together on the dining room table and can't quite bring ourselves to disassemble it and put it away yet. I might "accidentally" knock it on the floor when I'm sweeping tomorrow so we have an excuse to put it together again.

Thanks, Herb and Onion!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Thank you, Billy!

Billy, my Brother In Law (BIL...get it?) is next up on my gratitude list. His is the gift that will give for a long, long time. For Christmas, he gave me a case of CDs. Those CDs contain every episode of Survivor ever filmed, including reunions and bonus interview episodes!!!

I freaking love that show. I get very caught up in it. I remember when I began college and the first season aired, I just didn't understand why everyone made such a big deal about it. I avoided watching it on purpose because I didn't want to be one of THOSE people. Heck, my rugby coach even ended practice early the night of the finale. My rugby coach, who believes that rugby should never, ever be canceled, ended practice early on in the months leading up to the national championship.

Now, years later when I'm totally hooked, I can see why. That first season was amazing! And so was season two! And three! And eight! (I don't watch in order, necessarily)

Since I received the present, I've watched 1.8 seasons. I find I stay up much later than I want to and linger longer than I want for lunch and breakfast breaks, trying to cram in episodes while food simmers or laundry dries. While I will be taking a small rest after I finish season 8, I know that I will enjoy this gift for...probably ever.

Thanks, Billy!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Thank you!

This is the first of a series of posts thanking people for A+ presents this holiday season. I'll start with my mom, because she is the grand marshal of gift-giving, a veritable Santa Claus. This year she gave me three things that fill my small world with light and love and wonderful, wonderful happiness.

The first is a set of fleece sheets. That's right. Fleece. Sheets. She felt so sorry for her grown child, sleeping in a house with the heat turned low and turning to rice buddies for warmth in the winter months, when even flannel sheets feel icy. Pittsburgh is slowly changing over toward winter misery, what with icy rain and days that don't creep above freezing. Corey and I climb into bed each night and nuzzle under blankets that feel like sweat pants. An entire bed coated in sweat pants! The fleece doesn't ever feel cold to the touch. It's immediate warmth from the moment you dive in each evening.

I worried that the fleece sheets would be staticky or make me sweat in the night, but these thoughts were in vain. Fleece sheets are better than chocolate. Better even than dark chocolate. If my house were on fire and I had time to grab only one thing--fleece sheets or my sleeping husband--I'd take the sheets. Seriously. They're that good.

Next she bought me a new pair of slippers. The old slippers I had were blue, over-the-toe old lady slippers that were ugly and kept the majority of my foot pretty cold. These were also from her, and I wore them for years because they were Uggz. Then they fell apart. Now I have new ones, with sort of hard soles that I can even wear to the grocery store if I want to traumatize my little sister. I'm wearing them right now. My feet are happy about it.

The final wonderous gift from Ninny was a set of YakTrax. These are little metal thingies that you stretch over the bottoms of your shoes for walking around during slippery days. Today was one such day, with the sidewalks coated in ice, a sheet of glass. I strapped on my Yak Trax and scooted down the hill whistling, silently judging the old ladies who stumbled on the steps on Hampton. Ha! If only they had moms who loved them like mine does, they'd have no problems.

Ninny became concerned for our unborn baby ever since I told the story of how Corey fell asleep on the sofa instead of salting the walk and I slipped one evening. I don't even need to worry anymore provided I have my YakTrax in my bag. I'm good to go, even if wearing them leaves scratchy marks on my hardwood and makes me walk even more awkwardly.

So, from the bottom of my warm, safe heart, I thank you Ninny for these miraculous Christmas gifts. I think you have outdone yourself, if that's even possible.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Last night, the episode of Extreme Makeover in which the Pittsburgh Rugby Club volunteered aired on ABC. Unfortunately, none of us got any air time. There are a few additional scenes and little videos here, but I didn't see any of us there, either. That's ok, though.

It was a pretty awesome thing for so many of us to come together to volunteer for such an endeavor. While the set was very heavily patriarchal and macho-dominant, it was sort of mind boggling to watch so many facets of construction come together and work at the same time. Not to mention, you had people from a zillion different construction places coming in every few hours and taking over where their predecessors had left off. It was like one mustachioed dude would work on a column for a few hours and then another one would slip in on the next breath. Very interesting.

One thing I did enjoy in the episode was the time the camera spent on the doors and the tile in the master bathroom. I carried all those damn wooden doors into that house and let me tell you! They were awkward. And that tile is deceivingly heavy. I could only carry one of those squares at a time. Luckily there were like 10 of us on tile duty so it didn't take all night to get it upstairs. I was bummed that they never showed the kids' bathroom, because that included some more tile that was certainly unwieldy and heavy.

It occurs to me in hindsight that perhaps my exhaustion and exertion at carrying doors and tiles was due to the fact that I had become pregnant just before we volunteered for that experience. So the baby also helped the Slaughter Family in utero! This baby has played rugby and done some volunteer work. Seems like a winner already.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year--With Functional Pictures

I hate New Year's Eve. For me, the best part about it is usually going to bed at the end of a strange night. There's all this pressure from everyone to party and to make said parties extravagant and wild. I just don't like it. I never have fun (Although one year the Angels had a party at Dr. Parker's house and we ate mushy homemade pizza and Corey fell asleep on the couch and the team silly stringed him. That was fun...).

This year I was very excited at the prospect of spending the new year in State College. Corey had to do inventory at his bike shop and we would spend the night with Team Drayton, with whom we would also enjoy the Rose Bowl. Since Team Drayton has a young baby and I have a baby inside, none of us expected a big to-do for New Year's Eve. It was fantastic. We wore sweatshirts and played 80s Trivial Pursuit and ate spaghetti and yogurt.

Then, just as we were getting sad at the failed health of Dick Clark, Sergio had an explosive poop and puke while Corey held him. We counted down to the new year as Britt and Jordyn frantically ran around scrubbing onesies and grabbing wipes and holding Serge, who started to pee, too. As fireworks began blasting and startling the baby, we drank champagne and disposed of the diaper. Then we watched The Dog Whisperer and went to bed. I couldn't stop smiling, such was my joy.

On New Year's Day, Corey counted bike parts for hours while Serge took a nap on my lap, clad in a dinosaur costume.
I walked around for awhile and ogled the brilliantly amazing ice sculptures in State College, watched some sad football, and ate a chili/peirogi feast. All in all, the best new year ever.