23 Weeks …

Here’s what Joe looks like in there at 23 weeks. He has eyebrows already, can you believe it?

I’ve been enjoying some really crazy mood swings lately. Tonight at the dinner table, I burst into tears for no reason at all. Patrick took me to the couch and hugged me until I felt better, and managed not to laugh at me until I had cried it all out.

Later, when I felt Joe kicking, I pulled my shirt up and stared down at my belly for a few minutes. I noticed that my belly button is turning inside out, but somehow it came out, “My umbrella is turning inside out.” This caused me to laugh so hard I thought I was going to hurt myself. Hormones are fun!

The nursery is all painted now, and it’s so cute! Patrick noted that it matches the cover of Joe’s first book, which Patrick went out and bought for him as soon as we found out we were pregnant:

New Ultrasound Photos!

Joe cooperated fully with the ultrasound tech this morning, letting her get all the shots she needed of his little heart and kidneys. His heart was pumping away in there and I could see all four perfectly formed chambers. What an amazing thing to see!

Once all the organ-examining was over, the tech got a few fun photos for me to take home. Here’s his baby face in profile — you can even see a little eyeball!

He’s looking to the upper left of your screen. Look at that sweet nose!

He was quite the wiggle worm, moving all over the place. He yawned twice (who knew they yawned in there?) and at one point had the back of his hand draped dramatically over his forehead, like “Enough already!”

Oh, and I do believe he’s developing his father’s feet:

Hello Again

More than a week since my last post! Sorry about that.

We spent the weekend in chore mode, running to Lowe’s and Home Depot for various little projects. Patrick has started painting the nursery (a lovely apple green, to go with the green dots in the bedding) and can be heard in there at night with the doors closed, singing at the top of his lungs as the brush goes back and forth.

As for me, I’ve been getting organized by starting our taxes, laying out the year’s budget and getting rid of old files. Sort of a beginner’s nesting phase.

Ooh, I’ve also found a new favorite Web site. Paperback Swap lets you list any old books you have lying around (they don’t have to be paperbacks, despite the name) and other users can request them from you. When someone requests yours, you drop it in the mail (at the super-cheap media mail rate) and get a credit to request one from someone else. I listed 20 books or so on Friday night and this morning I’m headed to the post office with 10 of them. So that’s 10 books I get to order in return. I’ll never pay for a book again, at this rate!

Speaking of books, last week I finished Water for Elephants, which was set in a 1930s traveling circus. What a lovely book — I highly recommend it.

Now, I’m the last person on Earth to finally read The Kite Runner, a story of two boys who grow up together in Afghanistan in the 1970s. On Saturday morning I came to an incredibly heartbreaking scene and had to put the book down and have a good cry. It’s supposed to get happier toward the end. It better!

On Saturday night, I was on the couch reading next to Patrick when Joe suddenly gave me some fierce kicks in the belly. I pushed my waistband down to see if I could see it from the outside, and I did! I grabbed Patrick’s hand and put it there so he could feel. Of course, Joe immediately stopped. Then as soon as Patrick took his hand away, BOOM BOOM, Joe kicked me again. It’s happened every day since and while I love staring at my belly and seeing the little lumps pop up, I wish Patrick could see and feel it too. Soon!

This morning I have an ultrasound, a follow-up to the one we had two weeks ago (was that just two weeks ago?) so that they can get a better look at Joe’s heart. I hope I’ll come away with more photos to share (of the cute profile variety, not the scary Skeletor kind).

Life is Good

You ever have one of those moments where you think, “Man, it just doesn’t get better than this,” even though nothing out of the ordinary is going on? Last night was like that for me. The house was clean, Patrick and I were in bed reading, the dryer was humming away in the background, Lola was snoring at our feet, and Joe was doing a little bedtime water ballet. Everything was perfect.

That’s the sort of quiet moment I know we won’t have many of for a while after May, so I made extra sure to savor it!

Earlier, we had cleaned out a bookshelf in the guest room, getting it just a little closer to being Joe’s room. I’ve been looking at crib bedding, and while a lot of it is cheesy or downright scary (would YOU want to wake up with a Care Bear staring you in the face every morning?), I think we’ve found something that’s cute and a little more understated. What do you think:

It’s also gender-neutral, which is great in case Joe gets a little sister in a couple of years. We don’t want to buy all-blue now and then have to buy all-pink later on.

Ooh, we saw a really good movie yesterday: The Orphanage (El Orfanato — it was in Spanish with English subtitles). It was all kinds of scary, but there was a very touching backstory behind it and I thought the two were very well balanced. Plus, the whole thing was filmed in Catalunya, the region of Spain where I spent a high-school summer as an exchange student.

Still, with a guy down the row not only leaving his cell phone on but answering it mid-movie, and the family behind us not only bringing a 4-year-old to a terrifying movie but letting her talk through half of it, I’m even more convinced that they should just start releasing movies directly to home viewers. If that bad behavior is going on in the matinee foreign film, imagine the shenanigans in the Saturday-night showing of some blockbuster. It used to be fun to do the whole moviegoing experience, but now I prefer to watch movies in the quiet of my own house, thank you very much. And not miss anything if I have to pee. So God bless you, Netflix.

My sister is coming to visit on Feb. 2-3. The three of us are going to see Ira Glass at the Modlin Center (on the campus where I work) and then the next day she and I will go see this:

That should scare the bejeebies out of me, don’t you think?

"Soldier Town"? The horror!

Yesterday we opened up our local weekly newsrag to find this letter to the editor (please note the last sentence):

Tattoo parlor is in wrong location in Colonial Heights

To the Editor:

In a recent letter, Donna Delong asked, “Why is it OK for these establishments (tattoo parlors) to be on one end of the Boulevard and not the other?” There are two parts to the answer to her question. First, the new location of USA Tattoos is not on the Boulevard, but on Sherwood Drive, the primary access road to the Sherwood Hills residential community. Secondly, as with all real estate matters, the answer is location, location, location.

If this business were sited on the Boulevard, it would be just another establishment amid the commercial clutter. But on the access to the subdivision, it becomes part of our neighborhood, and conveys a (negative) message about the character of the residents.

Both Ms. Delong and Jan Childress, the owner of USA Tattoo, expressed surprise that some in Colonial Heights perceive tattoos negatively. But given the historical association of tattoos with the flouting of authority, gang violence, the biker subculture and prisons, I believe that the stigma is well earned. People who use their bodies as signboards are sending a message to anyone who sees their tattoos and they should not be surprised that some view their “ink” as narcissistic vanity. Ms Childress said, “We don’t intend to do anything to displease them in any way,” but establishing this “business” at the entrance to our neighborhood will most certainly cause a reduction in the value of our homes.

More important than the value of tattoos is the apparent inability of the city administration and city council to protect our properties and property values. They can legislate on signs, find a way to inspect (invade) private property that is offered for rent and police grass height, but they can’t control what I consider nuisance commercial operations. The payday loan, used car, pawn and tattoo operations that seem to be overrunning the Boulevard are a blight on this community, though they may be “legitimate” as Mayor John Wood said. Legal and desirable are not necessarily the same; unless one holds the opinion any commercial development is good development. Somehow, transforming a commercial operation from a doctor’s office to a tattoo parlor ought to be a change in use as defined in the zoning ordinances, and tattoo parlors, like other less desirable, though “legitimate” business, ought to be prohibited along the access roads to or within close proximity to neighborhoods.

Adult book stores and “Gentlemen’s Clubs” are also legal under the Code of Virginia. Given Wood’s and Delong’s standards, are we to expect these in Colonial Heights as well? City Council needs to act now to tighten the zoning laws, to prevent the expansion of Fort Lee from turning Colonial Heights into another “Soldier Town” in the pattern of Fayetteville, N.C. or Killeen, Texas.

Bob Haugh
Colonial Heights

I’ll bet you $50 this guy has a “Support the Troops” sticker on his car somewhere. But God forbid his precious Colonial Heights (which is no Beverly Hills, I might add) attract any of those icky uniformed types to his neighborhood. Egad!

Patrick (who didn’t grow up in Fayetteville as I did, but gets just as worked up about this stuff) fired off this letter to the editor:

To the Editor:

Bob Haugh recently wrote a letter in the Voice lamenting a tattoo parlor opening near a residential neighborhood. Good for him to use the freedom of the press to express his first amendment rights! I’m sure more people read what he had to say than saw the little duck inked on my ankle.

He did, however, lament Colonial Heights possibly turning into a “Soldier Town.” An odd choice of complaint, considering the origin of the town’s name. I can’t speak for Killeen, Texas, but I do know Fayetteville, N.C. and I’m guessing Bob hasn’t spent too much time there, or perhaps he was overcharged for a lap-dance one night. There are a bunch of soldiers in Fayetteville, sure, and some ignorant people, too. But as Mr. Haugh showed, they’re everywhere.

Fayetteville does have a few strip clubs, a few tattoo parlors, and a public house or two where people can escape the barracks and get a pint of beer. Queen Noor of Jordan didn’t seem to notice them when she was in Fayetteville to hear the symphony. My in-laws don’t pass them on the way to their favorite Turkish restaurant, and the 70,000 people who attend the annual International Festival don’t seem to mind. Heck, when I ran into Tom Clancy and Ross Perot at the $25 million Army museum downtown, they were raving about the place. President Kennedy didn’t complain, nor did President Johnson or either President Bush, about the All-American City. The dozens of national champion college sports teams are cool with the town, too. They probably like the professional basketball, hockey, baseball and football.

My wife and I love Colonial Heights, and we’re glad we moved here, but I agree with Mr. Haugh that there’s room for improvement. Maybe if we all try real hard, and enough soldiers move to Fort Lee, we can end up more like Fayetteville.

Patrick Tremblay
Colonial Heights

Do you see why I love this man?

Joe's First Outfit

My co-workers Nick and Val surprised me with a little gift when I came in after the ultrasound – Joe’s first outfit! (They had a “Betty” outfit tucked away too, just in case!)

How cute is this:

When I laid it out just now to take the photo, Patrick asked what “Flat Joey” was doing. Hee.

On Saturday, I’m cashing in the gift certificate he got me for a prenatal massage.  He’s even picking me up so that I don’t have to worry about driving once I’m all relaxed.

Then on Sunday, I’m going to start cleaning out the guest room to officially make it a nursery. There’s so much to do! I want to get started right away so that we’re not totally overwhelmed when the manic nesting phase kicks in ….

It's A Boy!

This morning’s ultrasound revealed what we’ve been dying to know — Champ is very much a boy, and a healthy one at that!

(Grrr … scary Skeletor face!)

As soon as the tech pointed out a little tushy and some legs, Patrick looked and said, “So it’s a boy?” I was sure the tech was going to say, “No, that’s his foot” or something. But after a few seconds of waiting for me to get with the program, she said, “Daddy’s right — it’s a boy!”

So, now that that’s settled, we’re pretty sure we’ve got the name squared away: Joseph VanderClute Tremblay. (I’m already calling him Joe!)

Joseph is the middle name of Patrick’s dad (and all his dad’s brothers) and VanderClute is of course my maiden name. I like the idea of being able to pass that on. (My dad said, “Are you sure you want to saddle a kid with a middle name like that?” Hello, you saddled me with a last name like that! At least Joe will only have to write it out if he wants to.)

Now, the shopping begins!