viva las vegas

Also titled: What I learned About Myself in Vegas. And What I learned About Vegas in Vegas.

Subtitled: Don’t Eat at Sketchy Buffets

>>First: I am a diva.

While I grew up with a family that tent camped and pop-up camped our way around the country, I found that my heart is really in the penthouse, luxury suites or other similarly outfitted high-end hotel rooms.

I had an inkling about my diva ways on a few previous trips with Frank.

***Trip One: The Econo-Lodge somewhere between Chicago and Atlanta.

Scene: Hotel room had been freshened up with a coat of paint. This same coat of paint was applied without consideration to everything in the room: door frames, moldings, walls, vanities and ceiling, making the experience of being in the room akin to being a stick figure drawn on a piece of paper.  The bedspread was from circa 1974 and, likely, that was also the last time it was washed.  I pointed to something on the floor that looked like a blood stain and decided that I didn’t want to ask “Is that a blood stain?” out loud.  Sometimes, you just don’t want to know the answer.

Experience: Horrific.  Even though Frank had stayed at some pretty nast-tay hotel rooms in his time with a regional airline, this one was pretty epic.  He dreamt the entire night of bugs coming out of his eyes, ears and mouth.  Yes, this one got to him.  Needless to say, we did not inquire about a continental breakfast as we ran out of the hotel bright and early in the morning.

Famous Last Words: “Babe, can you believe I got this room for only $35 a night?”  Yes, sweetheart, I can.

 

***Trip Two: A Hotel with a Guitar Shaped Pool in Nashville.

Scene: Similar to the Econo-Lodge, the mosaic of stains on the carpet and the very dated bedspread were not the welcome you would hope for anywhere. Especially disconcerting were the eight missing ceiling tiles over the shower, revealing the hotel’s plumbing and the sound of our neighbor brushing his teeth.  It’s like having someone else in your room… without having someone else in your room.

Experience: Thank goodness we only stayed there for one night.  I was barely able to zip my suitcase as I ran for the door in the morning.

Famous Last Words: “But babe, it has a guitar-shaped pool!”

It’s important to have those two hotel experiences as a backdrop for this trip.  My sweet, thrifty Bohemian husband loves himself a good deal.  So when he said he was booking a hotel for the trip to Las Vegas, I carefully asked, “So, uh, you didn’t get any… deals for the room, did you?”

Knowing the hotel experiences he’s put me through in the past, Frank enthusiastically said, “NO! No deals.”  I knew then that this would be a good trip.

When we walked into the hotel room at Vdara in City Center, I was not disappointed. A suite, this room had a full kitchen, a family room, a bedroom and a very large bathroom.  Frank, the connoisseur of mid-range hotel rooms was dually impressed and quite pleased with himself.

AH, Vdara!

AH, Vdara!

This refrigerator is bigger than our refrigerator at home!!

This refrigerator is bigger than our refrigerator at home!!

The view of the Bellagio Fountains at night from our room.

The view of the Bellagio Fountains at night from our room.

Daytime view of the fountains and the strip.

Daytime view of the fountains and the strip.

In addition to a gorgeous room, we had a gorgeous view of the Bellagio fountains, the new Ferris Wheel and the strip.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better!

>>Second: When Vegas is Good, it is SO GOOD.

Upon arriving at the hotel, marveling at its splendor and checking out the free cable, Frank announced that we had reservations at swanky Sage in the Aria Hotel.  I had read a few reviews of the restaurant online before we traveled and heard good things.  I was excited!

The ambiance of the restaurant is lovely. Intimate and private, we were seated at a table tucked in the corner of the restaurant.  And the lighting was great: my skin looked awesome. Boom.

The waiter took our drink order – a mocktail for me and the real deal for Frank – and hurried off to leave us with our menus. After much discussion and deliberation, we decided on creamy chestnut soup for starters.  Frank had the Braised Veal Cheeks and I ordered the Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin.  Because you know – bacon makes everything better. (full fall menu for Sage)

After we ordered, the most magical thing happened: a wonderful young man arrived at our table with a tray of bread.

“Tonight I have for you a bacon roll and a French baguette,” he said, showing us the still-warm bread in his tray. “May I suggest that you take one of each?” Yes, yes you can suggest that. And yes, I will take both pleaseandthankyou.

The warm rolls were served with whipped butter and sea salt. The bacon roll was the perfect ratio of buttery, fluffy bread and savory, salty bacon.  I should’ve asked for two of each.  I am pregnant, you know.

After eating the bacon roll, I was concerned that I couldn’t love the baguette nearly as much. But much like you always love your second child as much as your first, I couldn’t imagine my life without the baguette. The French would’ve been proud.

Then there was the spoon.

Our waiter brought out two soup bowls and nestled inside was a spoon containing the perfect bite of … something. I will never know fully what it was that I ate at that moment – except that the flavor explosions went on forever. Fresh, vibrant, colorful – it was as though I had never truly eaten before. There was also a unicorn in the restaurant and it was also magnificent.

After the spoon came the bowl of creamy chestnut soup. Featuring some sort of pork happiness, currants and mushrooms and topped with the most lusciously creamy soup, every bite was an adventure in and of itself.

I think Frank was also at this same dinner with me.  I can’t be too sure at this point.

Our main course came out with not as much fanfare as it deserved. Beautifully presented, the portions were very un-American. But the flavor? The flavor and texture was big and bold and very, very American. That bacon wrapped pork loin was likely the most delicious piece of meat I have ever eaten. Ever. Amen.

Frank claims that his veal cheeks were the most delicious and tender pieces of meat he’s ever enjoyed, but at this point in the dinner I’m still not sure he was there. I only had eyes for the pork.

When the waiter came back and inquired about whether we wanted dessert, we sheepishly said no. There was simply no way we possibly left room for dessert and we felt we would do the dessert a grave injustice if we attempted to eat more.

While we were waiting for the check, the waiter brought out two warm shot glasses with a hot white chocolate and peppermint drink. If you could drink happiness, that’s what it tasted like.

We left the restaurant content and sad. Content because of a fantastic meal. Sad because we knew that we were unlikely to find another meal in Vegas that would match Sage’s greatness that night. We just didn’t know how right we were.

>>Third: Not all Buffets are Created Equal

When Frank and I were first dating, we took in our fair share of buffets.  We enjoyed the Stadium Club buffet at the United Center, the Easter buffet at the McDonald’s Lodge, a birthday buffet for Frank’s mom at the Drake in Oak Brook.  These are all pretty classy buffets.

I sensed that my dear husband was not acquainted with anything other than the occasional Chinese Buffet and the lovely, fancy buffets that he enjoyed growing up.

Several times while we were dating, Frank mentioned wanting to go to Old Country Buffet (OCB).  I couldn’t understand – I had been to several similar buffets growing up and never really enjoyed them for anything more than their soft serve ice cream with sprinkles.  I’m a simple girl, really.

After hearing him talk about the magic that must be the OCB several times, I gave in and we went to an OCB.  Frank’s excitement was palpable as we walked up to the door – and I watched that excitement drain from his being as we checked into the restaurant and surveyed its offerings.

Fruit flies, overcooked chicken, fake mashed potatoes, limp looking vegetables… the scene was food devastation. Frank filled up a plate, refusing to acknowledge the food horrors in front of him.

He sat at the table and tenuously began eating the food on his plate.  He ate the nearly entire plate of lukewarm, tragic food – a noble skill that probably later saved him from giving me honest feedback on quite a few dishes I served to him during our courtship and early marriage (not to worry, I pretty much stopped cooking…). Then, he gave the buffet a sidelong glance, shook his head in the general direction of the food massacre, and said, “You know, this really isn’t as good as I hoped it would be.”

That sad disappointment still lingers on Frank’s face when we pass an OCB to this day. You can practically hear the strains of “What Might Have Been” faintly playing in the background as we cruise by.  “We can’t go back again… there’s no use giving in… and there’s no way to know, what might have been.” Godspeed, OCB. Godspeed.

I wasn’t thinking about OCB when we booked tickets to see Million Dollar Quartet at Harrah’s Casino.  Vegas buffets are legendary – I didn’t think you could go wrong.

Oh… But you can go wrong. So wrong.

Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas more closely resembles several football fields of bad man cave poker tables gone wrong than a Las Vegas Casino.  The casino feels like swimming through stale beer and a haze of old cigar smoke.  It feels like time marched on and trampled the casino underfoot.

As we approached the buffet entrance, I was haunted by this nagging voice in my head that said, “EMILY! It’s the OCB! Don’t do it!”

I ignored that voice. The buffet was free. It was included with our show tickets.

“Free is good!” I reasoned with the voice. “FREE IS GOOD!”

As we presented our tickets to the cashier, I cheerfully inquired, “So what is your favorite thing at the buffet?” Her response, while also cheery, should’ve served as a warning, “Oh, I say just start with the dessert sweetie!”

I should’ve heeded her warning.

As we waited to be let into the buffet, the greeter handed Frank and I oversized utensils.  I realized they were going to take pictures of us with these utensils. It had the ominous feeling of a “before” photo in the making. I held the fork, he held the spoon.  For the first picture, we smiled.  For the second picture, the greeter encouraged us to pretend to hit each other with our utensils.

If that isn’t foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.

We walked the buffet, trying to figure out what looked delicious and determine our strategy for best navigating this buffet. I quickly found that nothing looked good.  After a few sad perusals, I was happy to see some Mexican food at one end, so I went over to sample that.  I figured, how can you mess up Mexican food?

You can.

After lifting the lids off of several pots, I decided to just have three corn tortillas, some cheese and a small smattering of a meat product.  I added mashed potatoes and some over-dried turkey to my plate and called that dinner.

As always, Frank returned from the buffet with a full plate. I nibbled the tortillas, dumping the questionable meat on the plate. I ate the mashed potatoes.  I couldn’t bring myself to approach the turkey.

I decided to take the cashier’s advice and hit up the dessert area, hoping for better results.  I had a small cupcake and cookie.

Meanwhile, Frank cleared most of his plate. “I mean, it’s not great,” he said, pushing his mostly empty plate away.

The punchline to this joke of a buffet?  Frank slept soundly while I sat on the floor of the bathroom in our hotel room puking. Frank 1. Emily -2.

>>Fourth: In Vegas Old is Old.

In sweet, quaint midwestern towns, old becomes quaint.  Grandmas in sweater sets and polyester pants are cute, even when they are stealing cookies at the buffet.  Grandpas wearing plaid pants and faded sport coats are sweet, even when they make strange remarks and wink at you.  I expected in Vegas that the older parts of the strip would be quaint in much the same way.  I hoped that it would feel like the ghosts of Sinatra or Bob Hope or other famous old dudes might still be hanging around, throwing dice at the Craps tables.  Alas, that was not the case.

In Vegas, Grandmas don cocktail dresses and Naturalizers and it’s not a good scene.

We went to the old school Tropicana Hotel to see the Laugh Factory. The first thing to know about casinos in Vegas is that they allow smoking.  The second thing to know is that the newer casinos have much more effective air filtration systems. The older hotels smell and feel like the inside of an old bowling shoe: smokey, musty with a faint hint of Lysol.

If the ghosts of Sinatra or Hope or anyone else were hanging around in old Vegas casinos, I was not about to find out. I am a diva, after all, and I preferred the shiny new Vdara/Aria/Mandarin to the old strip.

>>Fifth: Sometimes Smaller is Better

Before the debacle at Harrah’s, Frank and I went on a mission to find a place to have delicious cocktails and appetizers prior to dinner.  Frank was pretty insistent on getting over to the Mandarin Oriental.

And this is why:

The view of the strip from the Mandarin Oriental.

The view of the strip from the Mandarin Oriental.

We enjoyed this front-row view to the twinkly lights of Vegas from a plush couch while sipping our drinks (tea for me, a cocktail for Frank) and noshing on calamari.  It was truly a highlight for both of us.

***

I didn’t love Vegas before we left on our trip.  I’m not a Vegas girl.  When presented with an opportunity to go on a trip, I suggested Vegas because I knew they had wonderful restaurants, a few good shows and I was hopeful we would find a hotel with a decent bed. With twins and work and being pregnant, sleep is a precious commodity!

I still don’t love Vegas after our trip.  But I did love spending time with Frank, eating great food, seeing entertaining shows, and wandering through overpriced designer stores and marveling at $5,000 red high heeled shoes. At that price range, the stores are more like museums displaying fine art than actual retail establishments, as far as I am concerned.

I spoke to a few local Vegasians. I asked them what they liked about their town. Universally, they loved the food and entertainment. Our cab driver from Sweden raved about the seafood at the buffets. But they all cautioned about gambling in a way that suggested that they knew people personally who had fallen into the gambling black hole, never to return again.

When I asked if they had ever been to Chicago, most of them had not.  “It’s cold there.”

Oh, how you’re missing out.

“Las Vegas is the only town in the world whose skyline is made up neither of buildings, like New York, nor of trees, like Wilbraham, Massachusetts, but signs.”
– Tom Wolfe

It’s good to be home.

a requiem for diet coke

Subtitled: A Eulogy of a Love Affair

Like all classic love affairs, it began innocently enough.

A glance across the room in high school.  A night at the movies in college.

By the time I graduated from college, I didn’t really notice that Diet Coke had left a toothbrush at my place, started taking over a shelf in the medicine cabinet and began adding itself to my grocery shopping list. By the time I was working full time my insatiable need for Diet Coke had taken hold, seemingly without warning.

A can at breakfast. A fountain drink at lunch. A mid-afternoon pick-me-up. The discovery of Diet Dr. Pepper.

It didn’t hurt that the first office I worked at had a veritable pipeline of Diet Coke in the form of company-supplied-and-maintained soda fountains.

Assessing future employers based on access to diet caffeinated cola products became practically my top priority in my job hunt.  I was only stymied by the fact that most companies don’t include “access to coke” in job descriptions.

Fear not.

Directors who knew me knew that my productivity, when bolstered by diet caffeinated cola, was that of five semi-hungover employees.  Directors who loved me understood that Diet Dr. Pepper was my hands down favorite diet caffeinated cola.

See, I spent much time analyzing and rating my preferred diet caffeinated colas, resulting in Diet Dr. Pepper winning every time, followed by Diet Coke from McDonalds (has to be – nothing compares), followed by Diet Pepsi in a 20 ounce bottle or 12 ounce can followed by Diet Coke in a can.

I wrote a poem about Diet Coke.

At my first job.

My first grown-up job.

I did that.

And? My director thought it was a lovely poem and hung it on her wall.

It’s a disease, people.

Of course, as my love affair with diet caffeinated colas heated up, the buzz about the suspect ingredients also started building.  Around the time we started to try to have children, the diet caffeinated cola love affair was peaking, but it was nearly impossible to ignore the mounting evidence that some of the ingredients were not good for me.

I almost felt shame every time I heard the pop and the “pssshhh” of the can opening.

Almost.

Most doctors seem to agree that women trying to get pregnant and those who were already pregnant should cut the caffeine.

So, I quit.

It was easy to quit. Too easy.

I heard myself say these words, “See? I don’t need Diet Coke. I can quit at any time.”

You may have heard those same words on A&E’s Intervention or you know, any show about drug addiction.

I was “clean” for my entire pregnancy with the twins.

While in the NICU, Carrie had an apnea incident (basically she forgot to breath) and I heard one of the nurses mention that babies who have chronic apnea incidents are sometimes put on caffeine. And I thought, “what if I drink some Diet Coke, pump and give it to her via breast milk  Maybe that will help!” Mom to the rescue!

So I called my old flame Diet Coke.  I wondered what it would be like after all that time.  Would there be the heat and the passion that I remembered?

Oh, that first blissful sip.  It was so good. So bubbly. So cold.  So fresh and delicious.

Ahhh.

But the innocence was gone.  I knew better.  I knew the scandalous ingredients.  I knew too much.

I tried to keep my torrid affair out of the public eye.  I knew there were others who would judge.  Others who knew that I knew that they knew that I knew that Diet Coke has some pretty nasty crap in it.

When I went back to work, I started a bad habit of going to McDonald’s for oatmeal in the morning – and oh – a Diet Coke.  Only $1 for 32 ounces. I mean, why not?  The small, medium and large are all priced the same.

It would be tragic to pay the same as a large, but only get a small.

And then I discovered that the twins loved Oatmeal.  As a mom on the run, Oatmeal became the perfect breakfast food on the go.

And some Diet Coke… in a giant tub… with a straw.

After some time, I noticed that I was needing some more diet caffeinated cola around lunch. Plus, sandwiches always taste better with diet caffeinated cola.  We have a vending machine that sells Diet Dr. Pepper.  In 20 ounce bottles.

If you’re doing the math with me, you’re probably noticing that on most days I was drinking 50+ ounces of diet caffeinated deliciousness – often well before noon.

So this New Year, I decided to give it up.

Go cold turkey.

I challenged the part of me that said, too casually, “I can give it up at any time.”

And so I did.  I discovered tea and coffee.  A more “mellow buzz” if you will.

I sip. I try to drink water.

Today, I found myself thinking about lunch.  I usually think about lunch about 2.4 seconds after I finish breakfast.  So, there I was, thinking about lunch… and how delicious a large Diet Coke from McDonald’s would be.

I didn’t cave.

And just like that, I realized that I was over Diet Coke. We had our moment in the sun, but our season together was over.

One month, twelve days, 20 hours, 41 minutes.

Fair thee well, diet caffeinated cola products.  Fair thee well.

:: and scene::

stages of Weight Watchers

I was talking to my friend Ginger*, my on-again-off-again Weight Watchers (WW) buddy.  I have noticed a pattern emerging from our many trists with the evil dub-dub.

1. Grief. Right before you log on to WW.com to sign up AGAIN, I think “Did I have my last hot dog FOREVER? How about one more large cheesy beef with extra cheese, hold the veggies of any kind except for french fries (which is totally a vegetable) with extra cheese – make that orange cheese?” It is anguish and sadness that comes and goes when you least expect it.

2. Anger. Ginger is currently dealing with anger.

“Wait, how many points do you get?” she asked me on the phone tonight. “THAT IS TWELVE MORE THAN I GET!”

I could hear the rage pouring through the phone.

“Well, yay for me, Ginge, I’m fatter than you.  Woot!” I tell her enthusiastically, hoping to distract her.

“And I have to budget for JACK DANIELS!” she wails. “Do you know I ate a Smart Ones Cheeseburger snack burger FOR DINNER tonight?? It was four points.”

“Wait, four points?” I ask, concerned. “I counted it as five points today when I had it for a snack.”

I hear rustling in the background. “Wait. You’re right. Five. Hold on – that was your SNACK? I don’t even get a snack!” she continues hysterically. Then I hear gulping. I assume it is the aforementioned Jack Daniels.

3. Delusion. About partway into day three, I start telling myself that I really am not THAT bad off. Who cares if I have to use a rubberband to close my pants and I’m not even pregnant?? Whatevs. I can live like this.

4. Horror. This usually immediately follows delusion when I see a picture of myself now or step on the scale. Horror also has a lovely subcategory of shame-spiraling: I will never leave the house again! WHAAA!!!

5. Acceptance. This usually happens on a day when I’ve been distracted by reality TV long enough to forget to eat an entire chocolate cake.  And I think, “Wow, how do I have so many points left for dinner?  This is amazing and WW is an awesome program!”

The important thing when it comes to successfully participating in WW is to try to live in stage #5, until you can get your dear friend Ginger on the phone so together you can experience #1-4.

Otherwise, I usually just eat a chocolate cake and pour dark hershey’s syrup directly into my mouth.

And yet, I’m not really sure why my pants stopped fitting. Curious.

*name has been changed to protect the somewhat innocent…

… Also, Ginger would like you all to know she’s moved on to Vodka…

how’s it goin’?

Welp, I’m holding fast to my New Year’s Resolutions – sticking to the old Weight Watchers routine and working out. I was hoping everyone else at the gym would have less resolve, but apparently they are all just as resolved as I am.  Which means I have to park in overflow.

Which really, is probably for the best, right?  I mean, I’m going to the gym to WORK OUT, right?? It always cracks me up to watch people fight over parking spots to be closest to the gym door. (which I can understand if you have children/babies/etc to carry into the gym…)

So following Weight Watchers and doing the Couch-to-5K program is going alright, but I am finding it somewhat difficult to adhere when trying to juggle working full time, two babies, Frank and sleeping. Eating well requires planning and thought. Mindlessly popping food into my mouth is not going to shed the pounds.  And getting to the gym, even for a simple 30 minute work out, requires a ton of planning, too. Who has the kids? When will I eat? Do I need to go somewhere afterwards that requires me not to be a sweaty mess?? Ugh.

We use Cozi.com for all of our calendaring and tasks and shopping and meal planning needs.  It’s pretty awesome.  And they have an app – because – really – who doesn’t? It has been really helpful in getting us on the same page and it has been helpful in planning out our weekly meals.  But wowzahs. It takes a lot of coordination to keep this ship a-sailin’.

So there’s all of that.

I’ve also (foolishly?) agreed to run a 5K in May with my amazing friend Jamie because if she is going to go run a 5K and she has two kids, then by-golly, I am going to get on that bandwagon.  Plus, she’s responsible for inspiring me to do the Couch-to-5K program.  I blame her for all of this madness.

Smooches to Jamie!

And if that is not enough, Frank is probably going to run it while pushing the babies in the jogging stroller.  He’ll still probably beat me across the finish line because he’s a mad crazy runner, but whatevs.

The point is, I really have to do this Couch-to-5K thing every week because man-alive, I am totally not ready for the run if I have to do the run tomorrow. I could probably sign in for the race, get to the starting line and then dry heave from panic.  Too much info?

Yeah, probably.

Onward!

happy new year!

So, here we are in 2012. Frank is already disappointed because he believes he was promised flying cars by now. He has been drowning his grief in ham, cheese and a variety of pastries we absconded with from his mother’s house.

Since I keep track of pretty much all of the highs and lows on this blog, I don’t feel like it is necessary to rehash the entire year.  I mean, you can probably guess that the beh-behs were the highs... and accounted for a few lows, too. (like, the barfies, the no-sleepies and the poopies)  But hey, I’m gonna go ahead and say that we finished 2011 with way more checks in the “awesome year” column than in the “holy crap, what happened???” column.

Now that 2011 is in the rear view mirror and 2012 is the date I will be reminding myself to write on all of my documents from here on out, I think it’s always positive to kick off the new year looking forward.

In the vein of a fresh start, I am back on the running bandwagon (Couch to 5K, baby!) and am starting the weight loss circuit.  After stalling out just over 12 pounds into it during the middle of last year, I’m ready for a do-over. And of course, proceeds from this round will still go to ending human trafficking.

So, there’s that.

Because I enjoy being cliche and having New Year’s Resolutions and all that, especially resolutions relating to weight loss and working out, I will undoubtedly need to post every stinking day about my resolutions and what I am doing to acheive them.

Until I stop achieving them.

And then, if my previous behavior is any indication, I will hide out and post cute pictures of my beh-behs. You know, to distract you from burning questions like, “So, Em, how’s the weight loss?” or “Hey, did you run today?”

My beh-behs have a hard time with flashes:

Carrie trying so hard to keep her eyes open...

Ellie. She hates me for taking her picture with the flash on.

Seriously, Mom? TURN OFF THE FLASH!

WHY???

So yeah, weight loss and working out.

But I think if I work on those two things, that will just continue to improve the quality of life for my family and for me.

Aunt S didn’t realize that she was helping us get in the mood for a healthier new year when she sent us coordinated pink Puma track suits.

We're ready to go jogging!!

Now, if only I could find these in adult extra long.

Happy New Year, world.

 

100 joys (88-90)

Another day, another chance to rack up a few more joys before the end of the year!

joy #88

Frank’s enchiladas!  Oh, sweet heavens to Betsy – they are SO good!!  And tonight were Frank’s best enchilada’s yet!  Now, I must confess, the above is not a picture of his actual enchiladas.  I lack the skill and self discipline to 1) take an appetizing food picture and 2) stop myself from diving in so that I can find the camera and snap a picture.  Just trust me, his enchiladas are outstanding and I could eat them all day long.  And since there are leftovers, I just might…

 

joy #89

Godiva.  Heaven on earth.  Especially when you belong to their club where you get a free truffle once a month.  Holy cow.  We had a dinner guest this evening who brought a box of chocolates from Godiva.  Frank and I tore through that box like we’d never seen chocolate before – it was SO good!  It’s like having an adult Disney World in your mouth – so much fun, you can hardly stand it!

 

joy #90

Listening to NPR brings me joy.  Seriously, it does.  I don’t know what it is about NPR’s microphones, but all of the reporters sound the same.  A subtle lisp on the “s” sound and a slow, steady, deliberate way of speaking that says, “What I am saying is LIFE changing.  Listen carefully.  Once you hear about Joe the donkey in Brazil that carries cocoa beans, you will NEVER be the same.”  Listening to NPR makes me feel the same way I do when I pick up a leather bound book in a mahogany librarythe distinct feeling that I am being enriched and improved.  But just to be sure, I try to balance my NPR time with a little bit of conservative talk radio.  You can never be too careful!  I remember in one day, I heard a report on conservative radio about a study that was done regarding teenagers and how biased and horrible the study was, and then I flipped to NPR and heard a vastly different type of report on the same study.  I don’t know who is wrong or who is right – I didn’t care enough to research it – but let’s just say, I listen to both channels with the same level of cynicism.  Gotta be fair and balanced and all that jazz.

 

100 joys (81-88)

Oh yeah, just two more days left in 2010 and I have 20 joys left to document…. Where do I begin?  Oh, yes, the only logical place to begin: Birthing Class.

joys #81

You might be saying to yourself, “Did Emily just post a baby doll with an umbilical cord and placenta (aka Joy #81)?”  And I would have to say, “Yes, yes I did.”  So on Monday, my dear friend Allison was all like, ” Emily, let’s have dinner this week and do something fun and girly!” (Allison is just fun and girly like that.)  I looked at my calendar and I said, “Sure, Allison – let’s get dinner on Tuesday… oh, and you can come with me to my birthing class.” I mean, what could be more girly than babies?  So Allison, always up to the challenge, said, “Sure!”  I think she might have agreed out of morbid curiousity.  And oh, how my class did not disappoint.

I knew going into the night that we would get to watch the 1979 classic, “We’re having a baby on film!” starring Daddy Mullet and Mama “Farrah Fawcett” Hair (aka Joy #82).  However, what not even I was  prepared for, was the instructor’s VIVID recreation of the birthing process in a monologue called, “Me pretending to have a baby in front of the class complete with grunting, breathing and commentary (aka Joy #83).”  Just for those of you trying to imagine this scene, picture a 65 year old woman wearing bright pink lipstick, a dark pink top and black slacks, sitting on a chair in front of the room with the above pictured doll + placenta on her lap as she tries to “push” them out.  Her re-enactment was so vivid that at one point I wanted to encourage her, “Keep going!  I can see the baby’s head between your knees!  You’re almost there!”

I could barely look at Allison’s face (which was a combination between mildly horrified and moderately amused) for fear that I might laugh out loud.

Which leads me to Joy #84 that unfortunately came at someone else’s expense.  See, since I’m having twins, I get to take the class early (hey, I’m a ticking time bomb!  Who knows when these kids are going to explode out of my body!) So while I’m only 25 weeks, some of these women are just days away from delivering.  Sally (not her real name) across the room from us was 34 weeks along and, it appears, just realizing that this baby she’s been carrying around is going to come out and it’s not going to be an altogether attractive experience.  While watching the movie, I’d look across the room and watch Sally’s as shock, disbelief, disgust and horror flashed across her face in a series of expressions that were priceless!  Ask me how I feel about all of this in 10 weeks, though…

 

Joy #85

I found a new favorite blog (I have a lot of favorite blogs… how can you pick just one???).  This woman is HILARIOUS!  I love reading her posts about her twin pregnancy (she’s delivering tomorrow at 32 weeks – if you can, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers) and I love how she words things.  I want to be her friend.  We could go shopping and she could say funny things and I would laugh.  It would be amazing.  But I think that it would be weird to be like, “Hi, I like your blog, be my friend.”  So instead, I’ll just lurk.  And you should lurk, too.  You will laugh until you cry, I promise!

 

Joy #86

Now that it is officially winter in Chicago, I have found joy in the fact that it will be another year before it will be winter again!  And, the days are getting longer, too.  Anyone else ever wonder why the shortest day is not also the coldest day?  And, vice versa, the longest day is not the hottest day?  Think about it – December 21st is usually frosty, but it’s not until mid-to-late January that it is painfully cold…  And likewise, you can still have some pretty cold days in June, but during July and August in Chicago you can cook an egg on the sidewalk (I wouldn’t eat them, though – I draw the line there).  It’s called thermal inertia!  The earth is still cooling down in December, but after a few months of shorter days, we get to our coolest.  It takes a while before the days get long enough to affect the temperature.  I think it’s pretty cool!

 

Joy #87


Ah, the cell phone.  My marriage would not be the amazing marriage that it is today if it weren’t for God and cell phones.  See, God teaches us both about grace, forgiveness and love while cell phones help us communicate those principles to each other.  With Frank gone as frequently as he sometimes is, sometimes our only contact with each other is via our phones.  Thank goodness for roll over minutes and unlimited nights/weekends!

 

Joy #88

So I believe I may have mentioned before our love-affair with Oberweis milk.  We love it.  YUM!  But tonight my joy is less about Oberweis and more about not having to cry over spilled milk.  Specifically, after purchasing my milk today, I picked it up from the counter and the bottles clanged together and then one BROKE.  Shattered.  Milk started spraying out of the bottom of the bag, all over the floor.  I stared at the bag in stunned silence.  Woopsie!  The check-out lady couldn’t have been nicer and went and got me a new bottle and sent me on my way.  Such a joy!