Happy Go Lucky---and Remembering Those Ducks

Yesterday I was doing some shopping for Shortmama's Spring Swap, and of course I also found a little something for myself--an inspiring set of earrings from one of my favorite stores, Stuff. I love Stuff because it features the work of local artists, sells lots of environmentally-friendly, or "green" things, and there are always plenty of unique gifts to choose from.

(it may be hard to see, but the top one reads "lucky" and the bottom one reads "happy.")

I splurged on these as a reminder, because sometimes I get so bogged down by the daily grind that I forget how lucky I am.

This time of year the grass is getting greener, the birds begin singing their sweet songs again, and our allergies turn us into snotty, sneezy fools. And I'm reminded of the ducks that befriended me in late March of 2005.

One day while I was getting a drink in the kitchen, I heard some quacking coming from my front door. I thought I was simply delusional from all the fertility drugs coursing through my veins. But I looked out the window and sure enough, saw this pair cruising my front yard:

They let me get close and feed them by the 2nd day (I'd prepared with lots of cheap Wonderbread just in case).
We don't have the photos to prove it, but they also later ate the bread right out of my hand...

(I look like total crap, but in my defense I was going through a lot and was in a funk)

These ducks were the only reason I got out of bed every day during the last week of March, 2005. It was the end of the road---our second round of IVF (in-vitro fertilization). I was convinced that like all the other things we'd tried before, it was going to fail. But the ducks kept coming back each morning. I concluded that they were a couple, a male and a female, and sure enough I discovered their nest nearby with several eggs inside.

These ducks were sent to me. We needed each other. We needed hope. Just as they were foraging for food and tending to their eggs, my own little embryos were growing in a Petri dish in the lab:

Those ducks kept me alive that week. I looked forward to their visits and waited anxiously for them each morning. They didn't disappoint. I talked to them, told them about my fears in low whispers while they gobbled the hunks of bread from my hands. Their dark, probing eyes consoled me while tears dripped down my cheeks. They quacked that things were going to be alright. They embraced me so easily and so fully that I began to feel my dream of becoming a mother was just within my reach.

Then we got the happy call from the embryologist that we were ready to go. My doctor transferred two really good lookin' embryos to my uterus. And during my mandatory bed rest afterwards, my mom (who flew into town to make sure I remained horizontal) faithfully fed my ducks for me.

About 18 weeks later I looked like this:

And now we have these (pictured with The Father Load):

We are indeed happy. And lucky.


Pouring My Heart Out....

Shell over at Things I Can't Say has started a new tradition, and while I'm trying not to do too many memes, this one appeals to me and allows me to really write. To see what it's all about please go pay her a visit!

Yesterday I played tag with my daughters. We ran around the basement wild-eyed and laughing, stopping every few seconds to gasp, gulp and breathe. I watched their little-girl legs pumping and Izzy hitched up her curdoroy pants with one hand as she raced into the toy room with her wavy brown hair flapping behind her. I was "it," and made loud monster-like growls as I galloped after them to the tune of their high-pitched shrieks.

I tagged Abby first and swooped her up into the air with my arms around her little waist. Overtaken by a fit of infectious giggles, she was unable to speak. I quickly set her down on the carpet and took off running to the opposite side of the room again with Izzy hot on my heels. We ran in endless circles around the pool table, dizziness setting in. I pretended to be on the verge of collapse and allowed Abby to catch me again.

"You're it, Mommy," she sang happily, her eyes dancing.

Then I just stood perfectly still for a moment and memorized everything: the backs of those little-girl legs again; the flapping hair; the slightly sweaty smell of them; the red marker on Izzy's left hand and the slick, shiny thumb Abby took out of her mouth only when she was running.
Suddenly I was overcome with emotion.

You see, I have not played tag with my children in far too long. I have been too depressed. I have not delved into it too deeply here in my blog, but those of you who know me well know what's been going on.

Things are starting to look up. Slowly, I am changing. It is my hope that they will not remember the bad spots. That they will soon forget about the funk Mommy has been in. And even if they don't, I pray that they will forgive me and someday understand.

(my happy 'lil Jayhawks---before the big loss)

(watching cartoons upside down in jammies & slippers)


Write On: How I Met My Husband, or, Chivalry Isn't Totally Dead

Tattoos and Teething Rings gave us some writing prompts for her new Write On gig. Tats is one cool chick and she recently sent me a neat book, Judaikitsch: Tchotchkes, Schmattes and Nosherei, just because she's nice like that. Thanks, Tats! Go check her out and link up!

Anytats, the prompt I've chosen to write about is:

How did you meet your husband/wife (or boyfriend/girlfriend)? Was it love at first sight? Did you think he/she was completely obnoxious? Maybe it was your worst date ever?

In October of 1999, some friends asked if they could set me up on a blind date. I reluctantly agreed. George and Laura are dear friends and a darling couple, and for years I baby sat for their three daughters regularly. As most of you know, I am Jewish by birth, but until I met George and Laura I didn't really begin to embrace my Judasim. They inspired me to start learning everything I could. They included me in their weekly Shabbat dinners, invited me to services with them, and I often celebrated Jewish holidays at their home as well.

George is a surgeon and one of his interns,"D," also Jewish, was lonely single and asked him over the high holidays if he knew "any nice Jewish girls." George replied that as a matter of fact, he did. Laura scribbled my name and digits on a tiny piece of paper and discreetly pressed it into D's palm. He still has the small scrap stashed away somewhere. She also wrote my age and that I was a grad student.

D called me soon after and he we talked for an hour. At the end of the call, he asked if I'd like to meet him for dinner. I quickly agreed and grabbed my planner so we could discuss dates.

"How about tomorrow?" he suggested.

Whoa, Nelly. I squashed down the fear that had catapulted itself into my chest and squeaked out, "Sure!"

Fast forward to the following evening. A black Honda Passport pulled into my driveway promptly at 7:00 p.m. I'm dressed in a grey twinset and a navy blue skirt, but my hair is still dripping wet and my dog, Keats, is having a coronary at the prospect of company. I'm flustered and answer the door leaning over to hold my dog back and afraid to look D in the face.

"Please-come-in-make-yourself-comfortable-excuse-my-dog, he-will-calm-down-after-you-let-him-hump-your-leg-for-a-few-minutes. I'm-going-to-finish-getting-ready-now, mmm-kay?" I say in a breathless rush as I dash back to my bathroom, closing the door quickly behind me and letting out a giant sigh of relief all at once. He's cute!!

Once I've finally managed to stop sweating under the blow dryer make myself presentable, we leave my apartment. D actually has a nice car which may as well be a Mercedes compared to my ex's 25-year old heap of green he affectionately called "Esmerelda." D takes it up another notch by gallantly opening my door for me and closing it once I settle myself in. As he walks back around the front of the car, I suddenly know this is a man---not a boy---that I am going on a date with. My stomach starts doing flip flops.

During dinner at a quaint little Italian place, D tells me his entire life story regales me with tales of his childhood over soft candlelight. I try to ignore the Eggplant Parmigiana (my favorite) on my plate because I'm too nervous to stuff my face in front of someone I've just met. The check comes too soon, and D refuses my offer to split the bill. More brownie points for D!

Big score for this guy so far. Not only did he come pick me up in his nice/clean car, he opened the door for me. He let my dog hump his leg and then he paid for dinner! This guy is a keeper!

I'm not sure I knew immediately that he was The One, but it didn't take long. I'm lucky he didn't dump me after our second date, when he took me to see American Beauty on its opening night. I was worried it would be sold out, so en route to the theater, I told him, "The speed limit is 40, but you can go 50," and he laughed at me while he gently accelerated.

As we shared popcorn and peanut M & M's, I kept stealing sideways glances at him. I liked what I saw. When he dropped me off after the movie, he was apparently going to let me go inside without a kiss. But I wanted him to know how I felt, so I planted a big one on him. Yes, I kissed him first!

I suppose that first kiss sealed the deal. We got married on December 1, 2001!


Greetings from The Father Load, a.k.a. A Post Written by My Hubs!

He finally did it! Here it is in its (mostly) unedited glory! It's long, but it's worth it.


Hello everyone, it's "Hubs" which is my blog name ever since I had a patient (yes, I am a physician) begin a consultation in my office by making multiple references to my private life. I felt like I was being stalked but that day triggered my interest in Erin's blog. I have never been very interested or exposed to the blog world. I am mostly a limited voyeur on Facebook and use it as an opportunity to occasionally make fun of my friends and post pictures of activities and family. I have never used Twitter. It annoys the crap of me when I am on the computer (usually reading about sports or cars) and that damn tweet noise causes me to flinch sending everything around me to the floor.

Until I started reading Erin's blog over the last few months, I never really understood what it is all about. All I know is that it is frequently hard to get Erin on to the next activity without a stop at the computer. I have learned to understand and respect what she is doing. I am very impressed with the number of followers she has and the blog identity that has developed. I have often criticized Erin in the past for devoting so much energy toward writing to a group of strangers instead of writing the book she has always talked about. She almost had me convinced this was going to happen when she read multiple books about how to write a book. I firmly believe in her ability to write an award-winning book that would allow me to retire when I am ready. I understand now that the audience are regulars and not strangers and that many of her readers are people we know personally who are reading this very post. With that in mind, I proceed cautiously yet somewhat openly...

Erin and I met on a blind date in 1999 when I was a surgery intern in New Orleans. If I were to think that I fell in love with her then I was probably just in love with myself because while extremely cute, she maybe said two words. I went on for a couple hours telling amusing tales of drinking and debauchery. I am sure I tried to ask Erin about herself but was greeted with the same one word answers to all questions that she still uses frequently when meeting new people in an uncomfortable setting. She also still has a hard time making eye contact with people. She may have had me with the message that was on my answering machine already when I got home that night. Or it might have been on date #2 when we were on our way to see American Beauty. She was very anxious to see this movie and she told me "The speed limit is 35 but you can go 45." At that moment for some odd reason I thought to myself, "Can I spend the rest of my life with someone this pushy?"

These were not typical thoughts of mine at that period of my life. It was my first time living away from Kansas City. I felt like I had moved to college for the first time and was intent on living the good life in New Orleans. I was only a few months in to residency and was unfortunately doing all the easy rotations first. I would later get a rude awakening. But nonetheless, at that point I was devoted to hitting Bourbon Street on Monday nights with my friend, JB. Two years later at a Chief Resident dinner I would be reminded that I once asked if I could not be on call on Wednesday nights because that was always the party night at Superior Grill. I digress. Erin initially pretended to like going out and partying with me while reeling me in but this would eventually become a bone of contention in our relationship. Erin was good for me though because her advanced maturity helped me become serious about my residency.

Some of Erin's previously mentioned traits can make it difficult for people to meet her. As she writes in her blog, she carries around the scars and baggage of her adolescence. When meeting new people, Erin often thinks or assumes they don't like her but I observe that it is the other person who probably thinks Erin does not like them. She doesn't understand that most people have the same issue trying to make new conversation when meeting. She doesn't recognize that if someone says, "Oh you are from the planet Umizoomi and that's where you met Hubs" that that is an opening for a topic of conversation. Instead she will respond, "Yes" while making eye contact with the wall. She wonders why that person is talking to someone else the next moment. I have given her a hard time about this for years and now you have that insight too.

Erin has become a much more confident person over the years and especially since motherhood. When given a task, she is a take charge person. She is certainly in charge at home. She doesn't try to keep me from doing things I want to do like play golf or occasionally stay out late with friends. It is more on the level of telling me what I can and can't do around the house. i.e. toilet seat down, placement of coasters for drinks, recycling, don't vomit on the floor from drinking too much. I did that once while Erin was in her first trimester and had extreme morning sickness. My response was, "I thought that's what we do when we are pregnant." Not so funny. As far as a marriage is concerned, we have a very good balance of family and individual activities. Erin has become involved in so many activities serving on several boards, taking classes on Judaism, organizing activities at our temple, etc. that she is frequently gone on her own more than I am.

Erin is an amazing mother. We are so lucky that she is a stay-at-home mom. As I am writing this, she is in the living room reading books to the kids. We try to spend 20-30 minutes doing that most nights before bed, but right now it is 10 am. Despite her recent battle with depression, she still got up every day and pushed on with the kids, laundry, making dinner, etc. I am glad she has the blog because it is a good emotional outlet for her.

Erin is also a pain in the ass. Her lack of self-esteem can be exhausting. I remember all of her references to how ugly she thought she was when we first started dating. I told her repeated times that simply was not true because I only dated hot chicks. Erin is about 5' 9" and looks like a supermodel when she wears a dress. And as someone inappropriately commented recently, she does have a killer rack. In her absence, people frequently ask me, "where is your gorgeous wife?" or something to that effect. She goes to Jazzercise about 5 days a week and makes protein shakes for breakfast. When it is not winter, I run about 4 days a week. She has also just about made me afraid of flying with all of the anxiety she can generate during a rough flight. It is sometimes hard to distinguish between turbulence and her near seizures.

Erin is very into all things green and organic. We were at some friends' house for dinner last night and I asked where I should dispose of a beer bottle. Jen disturbingly looked at Erin like a deer caught in the head lights before telling me to put it in the trash. Erin is so into recycling that she makes pick-ups from her friends' houses when necessary. She has started juice pouch recycling programs with her friends, in the neighborhood and at our temple.

A random note about Piggy. I gave Piggy to Erin about 10 years ago in my absence while on an away rotation doing trauma surgery. Piggy has been in bed with us ever since. Years ago, she said, "I guess eventually when we have kids, I will have to stop sleeping with Piggy." Yeah right. Truth is that I would probably miss Piggy too. So would Monster who tries to hump him every chance he gets. Erin's post about a day in the life of the Mons was my favorite.

I recently met a few of Erin's "bloggy" friends during Snarkler Weekend from "over at" this blog and that blog. See, I have even picked up on some of her blog euphemisms. They probably thought I was kind of lame, but I was just trying to stay out of the way. I was also on call and did 30 operations that week.

I think I am actually a lot of fun (for some people). I have always placed a lot of importance on my friends. A lot of my good friends are still from high school but an equal number are new friends that we have met along the way since moving back to KC. I love going to Royals and Chiefs games. One of my favorite days of the year is opening day of the Royals when the same group of my high school friends still in KC take the day off to tailgate for several hours ahead and then go bowling afterwards. So fun. I play golf on most Sundays. I once qualified at the Midwest districts for the regional competition in the World Long Drive Championship. Distance never made me the golfer I want to be.

I am somewhat obsessed with cars, and to the dismay of my entire family, I take a car to the race track several times a year. I love my job but if I think I missed my calling as a race car driver. If I could do it all over again, I might have pursued a driver racing development program when I was 18. I love music and I am known for carrying my portable ipod player from room to room in the O.R. The coolest band of all time is Tool. I have driven such places as Des Moines, IA to see Phish two nights in a row and to Red Rocks in Colorado to see Blues Traveler and Widespread Panic on the 4th of July. I have been brought to tears by Pink Floyd at Arrowhead Stadium. I had a short lived career in a rock band during college. I had hair down to my shoulders because it was the grunge era.

I used to snowboard but not since breaking my leg about 13 years ago. Recently while in Colorado with our good friends Tiffany and David, I was prohibited from making my return to the mountain. Instead, David and I went snowmobiling, which was amazing. We went up a gondola to have brunch and I told everyone that it was absolutely burning my soul not to be on the slopes. I guess I am somewhat of a thrill seeker but this is curbed by the reality that I have a family. I feel fortunate to be alive considering how reckless we were (until my early 20's.) This scares me a lot as a parent now. The same guy that once gave someone the finger (age 17) for telling me to slow down while blazing down the street in my Plymouth Sundance Turbo is now yelling at those kids too. I love to be outside. Whenever we are out in Colorado, I almost convince myself that nothing material matters and that I would be happy with nothing but nature's surroundings. It is a very liberating feeling temporarily.

Favorite drinks: coffee, Boulevard beer, Diet Coke, my Bloody Marys, Crown. Restaurant: Cafe Europa, Red Snapper, D'Bronx. Movie: Point Break, Batman Begins. TV Shows: The Shield, Gossip Girl, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage. Cities: San Fran, Aspen, Naples. Collect: shoes and watches.

It was almost a deal breaker when we bought our first house and the guy wanted to take the basketball goal out of the ground to take it with him to his multimillion dollar new house. You see, I tend to get what I want. Despite growing up privileged, I have worked very hard for everything that I have. I am a shrewd negotiator and I am not afraid to look someone in the eye and demand what I am after. I can call a car dealer's bluff with the blink of an eye. I have said in the past, "If that is your lowest price, that's fine, but I am going to go to every dealer in town until someone gives me this car for what I want with the wood grain package." I knew it was the last day of the month and by the time I was done, I had that car at invoice with a free wood grain package, and they drove the car to my house since I did not have a way to get Erin's car home. I didn't even have a check to pay for the damn thing.

Timberland used to have a lifetime warranty on all products. I purchased one pair of shoes which led to a free new pair once a year for about six years and one winter jacked led to not only another new jacket but a leather jacket, as well. My friends always made fun of me for this but they admired it too. You just can't be afraid to go after what you want in life. I have never had any regrets and feel like I have always done things to the fullest. I am also very responsible and have always planned for the future. When I was in 7th grade, I was so stressed out about homework because I think I must have thought it was going to affect getting into college. That's funny considering that when I was a freshmen and sophomore in high school I never studied.

This freestyle writing (not rambling) reminds me of a writing class that I took in high school. This particular writing class was the semester following another writing class with a different teacher. We thought we were savvy enough to adapt the same papers for the second class. One of the papers was about my genitals. While a friend got an "A" on his paper about his scab collection, I got a "D" on mine. We had a college student teaching assistant whose derogatory comments were longer than my appalling paper. Anyway, after getting caught plagiarizing, we were asked to write a bonus paper. I wrote about everything that came to mind just like this blog. I got an "A."

My very favorite activity is when I have the chance to hang out with the kids in the morning. I like to drink coffee and read the newspaper while they watch cartoons. Abby even makes fun of me by occasionally shaking a section of the paper while shouting "Let me read my newspaper!" I don't get to do it often enough and I feel badly every time they ask me why I am not going to have breakfast with them.

I have enjoyed writing this and I will try to answer some of your best questions...maybe...

Thanks for reading!

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