Thursday, November 25, 2010


We made the road trip home.

Food was eaten.  The belly was rubbed.  Baby Duck got to hear the volume of family conversation, mercifully muffled by amniotic fluid. 

There were a couple of mild family spats, lots of overeating, one small child meltdown, and at least two totally inappropriate comments from Nana.  (She doesn't mean to be rude, we all assure each other.  It's just she has no filter.)

In other words, it was a typical, lovely, slightly insane family Thanksgiving. 

I am not joining the Black Friday madness tomorrow, although I am certainly not above Black Friday madness.  Baby Duck just slows me down too much.  Maybe next year.  I did do a little cyber shopping and ordered half a dozen more BumGenius 4.0 diapers from Cotton Babies.

Tomorrow...  just a little bit of shopping around town, a family baby shower, and hopefully some quality time with cousins who were with the other side of their family today.

And those papers that need to be graded?  Let's just pretend those are going to grade themselves, shall we?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Eat Steamed Worms

Today was a day full of appointments--dentist, doctor, hospital tour.  Plus lots of errands.  The stack of grading that needs to be done?  Yeah, it's still there, needing to be done.  I am now using pregnancy-related-carpal-tunnel as my excuse for procrastinating.  And it seriously does hurt to write (not to type, though, honestly).

Anyway, we had the hospital tour lined up for this evening and David was running late getting home from work.  I was annoyed because he told me he'd be home at 5:30 and then never called or texted to let me know otherwise, so by 5:45 I was having visions of terrible car accidents, a fatherless Baby Duck, and my future in shambles.  In reality, David was not in a car accident, but was sitting at his desk, suspending kids from the school bus and making phone calls to several different parents (some of them more hysterical than others) to sort out a serious bullying issue.

He got home pretty tired and after telling him that next time he must at least text me to let me know he'll be late, I served up the dinner I'd made:  red beans and rice with broccoli.

I have no special recipe for red beans and rice.  I buy it prepackaged at the grocery store.  Then I steam broccoli (we're just now eating the last of our garden's bountiful production broccoli--it did remarkably well, which is more than I can say for our tomatoes) and once it's steamy, I sprinkle just a little bit of Penzey's Mural of Flavor spice mix over the broccoli.  Then I dish it up on top of the beans and rice and mix it all together.  It's simple and easy and absolutely delicious.  It is one of my favorite meals.  If I were single, I would probably eat it for dinner at least three times a week.

So we sat down at the table and David told me the story of his day and the bullying and the parents and I nodded sympathetically and chowed down on my rice and beans.  At one point, David's voice kind of trailed off and I looked up and asked him if his food was ok.  He said yes, it was good, and then kept eating and talking. 

Then his voice trailed off again.  Was he that tired?  He was forgetting the story in the midst of telling it?

No.  This time the food was not ok.

This time, there was a f&*%ing worm on his broccoli.

A small little white garden worm.  Maybe half an inch long.  Maybe not technically a worm, because I am pretty sure it had feet.

David announced very calmly, "There's a worm on this broccoli."

He held up his fork to show it to me.

And I totally lost my shit.

For some reason this statement--which was said absolutely without malice, accusation, or any tone other than pretty much objective commentary--made me burst into tears and start sobbing at the table.

I also gagged a couple of times because, obviously.

David got up and hugged me and said it was ok and that he should have washed the broccoli more carefully before he put it in the fridge.  I said that I had washed the broccoli again before I cooked it and he said that the worms must just really stick to the broccoli.

Which made me cry harder.

I really don't know why I was crying so much.  I was totally ruining my make up and we were supposed to be at our hospital tour in thirty minutes.  There was just something so horrifying about the idea that I had just consumed worms and also that one of the few times I try to prepare dinner for us, I manage to completely and totally screw it up.

Also maybe it was a hormonal thing?

We'd both sort of lost our appetites at that time, and we had to be at the hospital by 7:45, so David cleared the dishes while I went to the bathroom and mopped the mascara off my cheeks.  I was afraid that I'd eaten a worm (or several???) without noticing and David was trying to tell me that it would be good protein for the baby which really did not make me feel any better.  Gag gag gag.

We made it to the hospital tour on time but the whole time we were there, I kept feeling like there were worms crawling up my throat.  David assured me they would be dead and not crawling.  Somehow, this was not comforting.

David picked up Long John Silvers on the way home, but my appetite was totally gone and the smell of fried grease did not revive it.

I'm still not hungry but I'm going to try to have some yogurt and fruit while we watch Glee.  Baby Duck needs protein!  Not in the form of steamed worms, of course.

Although if you have to eat steamed worms, you might consider a sprinkling of Penzey's Mural of Flavor.  I'm sure it only improves them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What the Duck?: A Baby Shower

Yesterday was my first baby shower.  My friends threw it for me at this cute little tea shop place called "Thyme Out."  We had a little room all to ourselves with cupcakes and cookies and tea and soup/salad/sandwich combos.  It was really adorable.

 Me with the fabulous hostesses--Carol's due date is a week before mine.  We did not intentionally coordinate our outfits, but you know what they say about great minds.

My best friend from high school drove up from Louisville:
 Baby Duck kicked obligingly for Monica.  I peed five times in about two hours.

One of my bfs from college drove in from Columbia and some of my grad school friends were there and they all made me hope for Baby Duck that someday she has such great girlfriends.

The college girls.

And those girlfriends were very sweet about showering Baby Duck and I with love and good wishes and, oh, yes, oodles of paraphernalia for bebe.

 I loved that my grad school friends all gave baby books:

We in the English department encourage infant literacy.

Jamie and Beth surprised me with a gorgeous diaper bag:

You know what happens when you don't sit like a lady?  You end up having a baby shower.  Let that be a lesson to you.

This onesie (from Monica) reads:  What the [DUCK].  Sure to be a catchphrase around our house.

Jamie's 7-week old baby, Owen, was the only dude in attendance.  He was quiet and well behaved the entire time, but then we found him getting a little fresh with Monica:

Owen grabs for the goods.

At the end of the party, Beth's little girl, Lilly, made a guest appearance and Beth's husband was sweet enough to load up everything in my car so Monica and I didn't have to worry about it.  Instead, we played with Lilly.
Baby Duck already thinks Lilly is awesome.  Monica agrees.

 All in all, it was a sweet and simple baby shower and my friends were so generous.  After such a crazy semester, the most fun part was honestly just sitting down and having conversations with everybody about school and teaching and adorable new nephews and Thanksgiving plans and Christmas shopping lists.  I couldn't do without David and my family and the rotten dogs, but yesterday's shower made me so grateful for my girlfriends.

I want to give a shout out to my friend Stephanie, who would have been at the shower, were she not 37 weeks pregnant with twins and waiting to pop at any moment.  We missed her!

And now?  Now I am 32 weeks pregnant.  8 weeks to go.

It is November 21.  And January is right around the corner...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday was a Sick Day

Meaning I called in sick.

I wasn't exactly sick.  Not in the contagious sense.  Or in the awesome sense: "Dude, Inception was sick," as my students would say.

But I was freaking sick and tired.  Of running in circles.  And driving in circles.  And grading and grading and grading without ever finishing.  I returned 28 assignments to campus today for my students to pick up and I have 18 essays still in my bag waiting to be graded over the weekend.  Why over the weekend?  Because 40 more essays are coming in to me on Monday.  Yes, it is ridiculous.

Also ridiculous is grading all of these essays while wearing a wrist brace.  Even though I try to pretend they make me look badass like a superhero:

Watch my Wolverine claws sprout from my carpal tunnel wrist guards!  No, seriously, guys.  I'm so cool.

Really they just make my handwriting illegible.

My students reacted rather hysterically to me canceling class.  All I said in the e-mail was that I was not feeling well.  In return, I got lots of concerned e-mails about the well-being of me and my bebe.  (No one ever cared if I got sick when I was not pregnant.)  One of my students is from Korea and he told me that he has Korean grape and pear juice that is full of nutrients.  He would like to drop it off in my office because it would be good for me and my baby.  So now I have packets of Korean fruit juice.  Which is totally adorable, actually.  And the grape juice is actually quite delicious.  It's very concentrated, which makes me wonder if I was supposed to mix it with water.  But I can't read the packet, so who's to say?

Also unclear why the pear juice appears to feature the picture of a peach.  Haven't tried it yet.

Less adorable are the students who want to know how to cite images they find online and include in Power Point presentations and whether or not their approach to the next assignment is correct/appropriate/will get than an A.  The real answer is:  I have no idea leave me alone.  Instead I have to offer somewhat reasonable advice that doesn't sound like I'm spitting it through clenched teeth.  Sigh.

And while I did spend much of the day grading papers with my feet elevated above my heart, which totally kept my feet their normal size, I ended up spending the afternoon shuttling my two oldest children around to various appointments.

That's right.  I'm essentially pregnant with my third child.  Allow me to (re)introduce the elder Duckworth children:

Cooper and Little Mac.  Ages 4 1/2 and 10 1/2, respectively.

Little Mac had a hair cut appointment.  She bit the groomer.  Drew blood.

Cooper had to go to the vet because he has an infected nail bed on one of his rear paws.  So now he's on antibiotics and Little Mac is on the groomer's shitlist.

I drove them in circles from one appointment to the next, and ended up taking Mac with me to campus to drop off student papers when I finished grading.  She did not bite any one there, but got lots of compliments on how cute she is and seemed to really enjoy herself, so there were no consequences for being a vampire dog.

Also, the vet's office was crazy.  I have never been to a vet's office that was so busy.  So many dogs, so many people.  Cooper lunged all over the place and my carpal tunnel plagued hands could barely hold him, so I had his leash wrapped around my thighs while I sat in a chair.  Because it's not like pregnant women need to have circulation in their legs or anything.

Two boys ran around, getting all the dogs riled up, an old woman came in shouting for one of the receptionists to bring her ticket outside to her because she was parked illegally, a sick dog oozed a few drops of liquid poop onto the floor, and another massively overweight dog panted so loudly and so hard that the entire waiting room smelled like hot dog breath and I had a moment when I thought I might pass out. 

This vet is not our usual vet--we usually go to a vet in my hometown who charges next to nothing compared to the St. Louis vets.  But we go to this clinic in emergencies and since we don't request a specific vet (there are four in this practice) we always end up seeing this one guy who always seems to be stoned.  He appeared to be totally stoned again on Friday, but I really think that's just how he is naturally.  Very mellow and kind of crazy looking.  At any rate, he gave Coop antibiotics and didn't charge us for the exam, so I don't care if he was high or not.  Nice guy, that vet.

David and I had plans to go see friends that night after dinner, but he got home late because of a "work emergency."  Some kid fell and busted open his head and was bleeding everywhere and David was the only administrator there and the nurse had left already, so he ended up calling 911 and then cleaning up and describing the wound to the operator himself.  Then he had to call the kid's mom and wait for her to drive out from her job in the city.  So we had to reschedule our plans, which is probably for the best because my sick-day off was completely exhausting.

And now it's Monday again.

But even as my to-do list keeps getting longer, the end of the semester is creeping nearer!  Eventually these things are going to even themselves out!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Burglar Alarm

So this morning.

On Saturday mornings, I trot off to work at the learning center from 9-4 and unless David has a tee time scheduled, I usually leave him in the living room doing his PX-90 workout or working on his laptop.

Working Saturday mornings occasionally blows (especially on those gorgeous days I want to do nothing but go to the farmer's market and then walk the dogs in the park) but I get enough Saturdays off and I enjoy working there enough that I can't really complain about it.  Plus, I almost always come home to a clean house and a dinner plan, so having a house husband on Saturdays is actually a pretty sweet deal.

Today, David was heading up to Forest Park to participate in a 5K because a bunch of teachers and students from his school had entered as a group and he planned to run with them.  He left the house before I did, so he kissed me good bye around 8:15am.  At 8:45, I should have been in the car already.  I finally gathered up my lunch box, my purse, my school bag with another stack of papers to grade, my water bottle (for lunch), and my hot tea (EarthMother pregnant lady tea).

I had just shuffled everything around in my arms so I could pull the front door closed and lock it, when I realized that I didn't remember sticking my phone in my bag.  So I sighed, shifted my bags, water bottle, and tea around, and opened the door again.

As the door swung open and I stepped up into the house, I came face to face with a man dressed all in black standing in my entry way.

And what did I do?

I let out a blood curdling scream (seriously, it was the kind of scream that would have totally landed me the part of the girl who dies in the opening scene of a horror movie).  I launched my keys at his face--they hit his chest and fell to the floor.  And I stepped back outside the house and slammed the door, leaving him in my living room.

All of this happened in a split second, but in that moment, the rational part of my brain recognized that the strange man in black unexpectedly standing in my living room was, in fact, my husband.

However, the irrational part of my brain had already taken over and by the time David opened the front door to come out on the porch and apologize for scaring me, I was sobbing.  He kept hugging me and saying, "It's just me!  I didn't mean to scare you!" until finally I managed to stammer between sobs, "I know!  What is wrong with me?"

I think it was a moment when pregnancy hormones truly took over because it wasn't like he had startled me, making me surprised and then annoyed.  It was like a fight or flight moment of sheer panic followed by a hysterical meltdown.

Finally I managed to take some deep breaths and pull myself together.  David explained that he hadn't gotten registered as an official team member for the 5K, so he just saw them off at the starting line and then headed home.  He also apologized again, and then made fun of me for spiking my keys at his chest.  He's just lucky that my arms were full, because I was definitely aiming for the eyeballs.

I went inside to wipe the mascara off my cheeks.  I called the learning center to let them know I would be a few minutes late.  And I realized that my cell phone was already in my purse.

It was not the most pleasant way to start my day, but I do believe that shot of adrenaline made me more alert than any cup of coffee ever could.

And now we know that, should I ever confront a burglar, I will scream, throw something, and then cry hysterically.  I am so badass.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

67 Days

When I was first pregnant and giddy with excitement and not teaching four classes and working at a learning center and falling asleep at 9pm at night wearing wrist guards to help my ridiculous carpal tunnel, I signed up for all of these daily and weekly pregnancy e-mails.

The sort of things that say, "Your baby is the size of a blueberry!" and then "Your baby is the size of a grapefruit!"  They offer links to lots of sponsored products and articles that are more or less informative and eventually everything seemed to pretty much say the same thing so it eventually got to the point that I would quickly glance at whatever fruit-stage Baby Duck had hit this week and then delete the e-mail.  (FYI, Baby Duck is now about the size of a head of cabbage and weighs around 3 lbs.  Feels more like a 20 pound bowling ball, but obviously I'm not a medical professional.)

Today I got an e-mail that made me do a double take.

"67 days to go!"

What.  The.  [Expletive Edited].

On the one hand 67 is a lot of days.

On the other hand, the last time I noticed this little day by day countdown, I had something like 116 days to go.  67 is way fewer than 116 days.  67 days is practically NO TIME AT ALL.

Part of me is saying that 67 days is a lot of time to sleep in freaking wrist braces, but the other part of me is thinking about the nursery and the pregnancy checklist in my "Essential" pregnancy planner and the hospital tour and selecting a pediatrician and all of these things that I haven't checked off yet!  I ONLY HAVE 67 DAYS TO GO!

I know, I know.  A due date is a guesstimate--Baby Duck might come early or she might come late.  But still.  That number just stopped me in my tracks. 

67 days.

Before everything changes.  Before the dogs' lives turn upside down.  Before a full night's sleep becomes a distant memory.  Before we become parents. 

It's awesome.  And terrifying. 

67 days.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

30 Weeks

Baby Duck is the size of a watermelon.

OK, at least she feels that way.

Pregnancy symptoms include The Unspeakable, and also being really freaking tired all the time.

And here's a new one!  Pregnancy-related-carpal-tunnel!

I seriously thought people just made up that kind of stuff.  Something to complain about.  Sure, I was tired in the first trimester.  And I definitely had some nausea.  But it wasn't so bad.  I know they call the second trimester the "honeymoon trimester," but honestly, I just thought that I was good at being pregnant or something.  A little sciatica?  Eh.  Nothing prenatal yoga and a heating pad can't fix.

Wham.  Welcome to the third trimester, where my feet are exhausted from merely holding up the weight of my body.  Heaven forbid I fall asleep with one arm underneath me, because the weight of my torso will cut off all blood flow to that limb.  I have pregnancy fat round face and first thing in the morning?  I am nearly unrecognizable.  I'm slathering on black eye liner to keep my eyes from disappearing into my chubby cheeks.  Every time I change position from sitting down to standing up, Baby Duck gives me the old head butt that sends me running for the bathroom even though I just emptied my bladder twenty minutes earlier.  And this carpal tunnel thing?  Has had me waking up moaning from the pain in the middle of the night.  At least it's giving me a legitimate excuse for not writing so many marginal comments on student papers.  Depending on the time of day, I can barely grip a pen.  It's unbelievable.  If I weren't experiencing it, I would think I were making it up.

So, yeah.  30 weeks is not exactly comfortable.

But the awesome thing is that every time Baby Duck moves, I am totally reminded of why it's all worth it.  We haven't even met this baby girl and we are so crazy about her.  So whether she's flipping around my guts during a jury panel, or kicking me in the kidney while I talk about comma usage, or elbowing me in the side while we discuss Othello, it's a reminder of this amazing connection that we already have.  She might be a total pain--in the back, in the wrists, in the feet.  But I already love having her around.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Civic Duty

Things I Learned at Jury Duty:

* You cannot serve on a jury if you have committed a felony.  And if you stand up and shout that you have committed two felonies and also your brother is in jail right now, you can be pretty sure you will not get selected.  We all knew that dude would get to go home and I found myself thinking, enviously, Man, I wish I'd committed a couple of felonies.  Oh, wait.

* You do not need to be particularly sane to get called to jury duty.  You might get dismissed if you act crazy, but depending who's side you're on, I'm not fully convinced that an attorney would cut someone from the jury just based on crazy.

* People are surprising sympathetic to pregnant ladies.  And I totally milked it for all it's worth.  I got to move to the front of the line in the bathroom and I got to leave the court to take an extra bathroom break while the attorneys were talking to the judge in side bar. 

* Sitting in straight-backed, pew-like benches with no cushion is good for my posture but hard on my hips.

* People say the darnedest things to get out of jury duty.

The first case I got called up on was a personal injury case involving a woman suing a taxi cab company.  We were all asked if we had any really bad or really good experiences with cab companies that might bias us in some way. 

Suddenly, I was one of those people who say the darnedest things.  I stood up and said yes, the last time I road in a cab in St. Louis (which was several years ago), the driver was a maniac and he hit a dog and killed it and it was very traumatic for me.

The prosecutor asked me if I could set that aside and be fair and impartial.  I said no.

I did not add that I was hysterical after the cab driver hit the dog and once we got back to our apartment, I insisted David drive us back to the scene of the accident even though we had taken the cab initially because we had no business driving.  I thought we would find the dog and take it to the doggie ER and save it but we actually never found the dog.  Possibly because we were both totally wasted. 

So, although that would have been the whole story, I did not feel that was pertinent information to share with the court (with the internet, though, of course--totally different). 

Many people, though, do not have personal boundaries.  I heard about people getting sued for not paying bills, people who were in violent relationships, people whose relatives were in abusive relationships, people who have arthritis, who have four kids under the age of three, who think that only God can judge people and therefore they would refuse to deliberate if they were put on a jury.

Can you be held in contempt for that?  

So I got dismissed from the first jury but had to return the next day, where I sat on a panel for a criminal case involving domestic violence.  The defendant was in the room, which was totally creepers because he looked like a creep (a creep I would, of course, have presumed innocent).  His lawyer was obnoxiously assertive and repetitive, although I understood why he had to ask the same questions over and over again (because people are idiots). 

People said even crazier things in that panel.  The very attractive, well-dressed gentleman next to me stood up and said his sister had been a victim of domestic violence and he had no tolerance for men who are violent to women.  Then he stood up a few minutes later (out of the blue) to "also tell the court" that after his sister was hurt, he and his friends attacked her husband and kicked the shit out of him (I paraphrase).  He claimed he was not proud of what they had done.  Really?  Then why are you telling us about it?

One man fell asleep in the jury box and had to be awakened by the bailiff.  The same man later said that domestic violence cases don't belong in criminal court.  Instead, "they should go to church, get forgiveness from God, and have make up sex."

Everyone on the jury panel giggled at that except for me because I couldn't hear what he had said and then the bailiff yelled at everyone that we were still in court and then I had to ask the kid next to me (not the one who beat up his brother-in-law) what the guy had said.

One woman stood up to say that she had witnessed domestic violence when her son beat up his girlfriend and yes the police were called but her son was not arrested because he was gone before the police arrived.  His dad had picked him up.  She thought she could set that incident aside and still be fair and impartial in this case.  Uh-huh.  Sure.

One person stood up in the jury box to say he thought the defendant might look familiar, but he didn't know from where.  "Would that be a distraction for you?"  "No, probably not."  Evidently, he just wanted to share that with everyone in the room and steal another minute of our lives away.

Needless to say, it was a long day.  The bailiff was a young guy and he was very nice to me and told me to just wave my hand any time I needed a bathroom break.  He also asked me twice if I was doing ok.  It was almost odd that he was so nice but then another court officer explained that the bailiff's wife is pregnant, so he was obviously sympathetic, which I definitely appreciated.

At one point, the defense attorney asked if anyone on the jury panel would describe themselves as "emotional or sensitive."  I swear that everyone sitting near me swiveled their head in my direction!  So then I refused to raise my hand (even though I would probably describe myself as emotional or sensitive when not pregnant) because I was like WTF people just because I'm pregnant does not mean I am irrational or incapable of having an open mind about Mr. Creeper Defendant and his four previous felonies.  I mean, seriously.

At any rate, I didn't have to worry about it because I got dismissed from that trial as well.

I have to say, it was a most interesting experience but not one I would eagerly do again. 

And I pray that I do not get wrongfully accused of a crime because I certainly would have qualms about being judged by a jury of my "peers." 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back to Real Life

My jury duty service is over.  I sat on two panels and was selected for neither jury.  I confessed to having a bias in the first case and I perhaps appeared too "emotional and sensitive" for the second one--a domestic violence that I was especially relieved to get out of.  Who wants to sit there and listen to that?

Baby Duck did not get me out of jury duty, but she did win me sympathy from fellow jurors who always let me cut to the front of the line for the bathroom, and from the bailiff, who's wife is also pregnant.

Baby Duck is moving like crazy these days, so that kept me entertained during the long hours of sitting in the courtroom.  I wanted to point out to someone else that my entire abdomen was lurching, but it didn't quite seem appropriate.

Now?  Back to real life.  I got home from the courts at 5:15pm last night, David and I walked to the local elementary school to vote, and then I graded papers All.  Night.  Long.  It had to be done, and I'm glad it's over, but mercy.  I didn't get to bed until almost midnight.

I still have 30 more essays to grade, but they are much shorter and easier than the 84 I plowed through from Saturday morning until last night (yes, I am serious; no, I don't know whose brilliant idea it was to give my students these assignments or why they keep dutifully handing things in to me).

Anyway, I may try to give a fuller report on the full jury duty experience if I get through more of this grading.  I want to have it all finished by Friday afternoon, and I'm rewarding myself with a prenatal massage!  Seriously, I think I've earned it this week.