Friday, January 30, 2009

The name game

Boy have I been lazy on the blog front lately; these last few weeks have been very busy in the Killer household I'm afraid (see # 11 below...more on that to come). And yet both Dave and I have found the time to fill out some more internet memes that are being passed around. Personally, I love reading these because generally these type of facts do not come up often in the brief conversations we normally find ourselves having with our friends (or family for that matter). The one below is zipping all over facebook and the "25 Things" below have been filled out by Dave.

25 Things about Dave

1) I grew up 4th+ generation in Cowlesville, NY, a VERY small rural town just east of Buffalo, with no stop light and more cows than people. My dad and grandfather ran 2 generations of a plumbing and heating business, and my great grandfather was a farmer. We lived across from a corn field and dozens of acres of uninhabited woods behind us that I loved to explore for hours on end. I feel a very strong connection to my past and the people that came before and who are a big part of me.

2) I wouldn't trade my small town childhood for the world. The lake-effect snow was wondrous as a kid to play in, and the people I grew up with are really great.

3) I rode the bus daily 9-ish miles to school in Attica, another rural small town (but bigger than Cowlesville). Our high school was across the railroad tracks and just a skip from the maximum security prison. During soccer practice after school we could hear the music and announcements from the prison yard loudspeakers. I remember a couple field trips in high school to talk to inmates.

4) My mother grew up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and her family ran an ice cream and burger shop called "Imperiales". During the 1960s there was a series of revolutions after the dictator was overthrown, and the US marines were called in to keep the peace. Their house was on the front lines between the American and unstable areas, and she lost a cousin to a grenade that was thrown into their house. She met my dad when he was in the Peace Corps in 68/69. I remember as a child her taking the oath of citizenship at the city hall in Buffalo.

5) I wish I could speak Spanish, and converse freely with my Dominican relatives. It seemed normal as a kid traveling there, it's now I realize how lucky I was to be exposed to such a different culture, all the smells, foods, people, and experiences.

6) It amazes me how smells are so strongly associated with memories. I can still smell the musty, creaky old wooden floors in the Cowlesville post office (closed long ago, town too small to support); hot rank garbage (of all things) takes me to the hundreds-year-old narrow, crowded colonial streets of Santo Domingo outside my grandparents old ice cream shop; the smell of gasoline and oil (depending on the ratio!) takes me back to riding for hours along in a backhoe, loader, trucks, tractor, or bulldozer with my grandfather as a kid.

7) I think about my grandfather, Paul North Kilian, all the time. He was the kindest, gentlest, most caring person one could have the honor to know. His self-sufficiency, work ethic and inventiveness was inspiring. I have some tools that were his and they are priceless to me. We lost him last year, at 90, and to see all the people that came to remember him, and how much he meant to them at his memorial in Attica was moving. If I could be a fraction of who he was, then I will have lived a very fulfilled life.

8) I am looking forward to meeting North Miles Kilian, our son-to-be, who is due in early April. I wish he could have met his great grandfather. I am excited beyond words to be a daddy.

9) Although it took me years to meet her, I am so grateful for the life that my wife Sonya and I have built together, and look forward to our next chapter: parenthood. When we met I felt like I had always known her. I hope she realizes how much I appreciate her.

10) I've always been an optimist, and tend to see the good and humor in any situation.

11) I'm a project person: I always have a project or ten going on around the house, and love to continually improve on something. My wife must have the patience of a saint every time I get a hair-brained idea. This week I got mad at all the drafts in our house so decided to tear down some drywall to insulate a bedroom, and have been caulking all over the house like I'm on crack.

12) Our dog, Jake, is going on 13 and rides with me to work daily, and sleeps just a few feet from my desk. He's happy as can be as long as he's with his people and LOVES to travel, and is giddy to ride along in the kayak. I'm cherishing the short time we still have left together, he's a good buddy.

13) I've never been much of a yakkity phone person. Guess I'm a little on the introverted side, but just 'cause I don't call often, that doesn't mean I don't care or think about you.

14) I make pancakes every Sunday morning. LOVE them. My mom did the same for us growing up, but on Saturday mornings. My grandfather would come up to have pancake breakfast with us and then we would load all the trash for the weekly trip to the dumps. I also love French toast but can't make it to save my life.

15) Clutter and mess makes me uneasy. One side effect to moving into an older house with very little closet space has been the paring down of 'stuff' quite a bit. It's freeing. Although, to be fair, I hoard hardware in the garage, and have bins full of random parts, nuts, bolts, etc. Never know when they might come in handy.

16) I think anyone who is running for President must have travelled beyond the confines of our country. The more cultures and countries they've been exposed to the better. The world is a small, small place and to think any one nation can go it alone without deference to this spinning globe as a whole is ludicrous.

17) Although the world is a small place, I wish we had more time and $ to see and experience more of it.

18) I feel eco-guilty if I throw away even the smallest scrap of paper without recycling it. I look forward to becoming less dependent on non-renewable resources. Someday I'd like to install passive solar heating panels or other forward-looking efficient technologies as time/budgets allow.

19) I'm a sucker for outdoor activities, like camping. I've enjoyed exploring the natural beauty of NC and can't wait to introduce North to it.

20) I LOVE road trips almost as much as our dog Jake. They refresh the soul. My mind is a huge file cabinet of happy memories of camping and other crazy adventures.

21) Jackie Chan cracks me up.

22) I'm a photo geek, and left to my own devices, could happily spend hours documenting any given event.

23) Very rarely do I not have background music going. or iPod on shuffle mostly.

24) I miss my friends and family who live outside NC.

25) I've really enjoyed reading every one's versions of this list, and diving deeper into people's personalities. I know there's some overlap, but if you have the time to knock out a list of your own and share it, I'd love to read it.

So that's the end of Dave's meme. I understand if you need to excuse yourself to go blow your nose and wipe your eyes. If anyone would like to share their 25 things (or even 10 things, 5 things or 1 thing) in the comments section, we'd love to read them and learn more about you!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cherry poppin' meme

There is a thing called a "meme" that "bloggers" do on the "internets" when they get "tagged." Got all that? In other words, friends send out lists of questions they'd like other friends to answer to see what their answers are. My friend Callie, mother to the most adorable baby in the world that I would like to put in my pocket, recently tagged me on a meme. So here goes nothing!

I am: sad that it's Sunday night and tomorrow is the beginning of a new work week. Not to get all Garfield on you (because Garfield also has a severe disdain for Mondays as well), but Mondays make me want to sleep in my suspiciously litter box-shaped bed and eat lasagna all day just like that comic cat. Speaking of which, I don't seem to remember Garfield ever using the litter box. The cat eats lasagna for Pete's sake---surely that would cause him to use the litter box at some point! You're asking for a lot of suspended disbelief on the part of your readers Jim Davis.

I know: that it was stupid to talk about Garfield up above. Now everyone is going to think I have lame taste in comics. People will assume I crack up laughing at Cathy and Family Circus comics now that I've expressed a deep rooted familiarity with all things Garfield. Nonetheless, when I told Dave I was pregnant, I wrapped up 2 of my positive pregnancy tests in Family Circus comic strips because it seemed festive at the time.

I won: many first place ribbons when I was on the swim team in 1981. Granted I was only six and competing against myself, but I still won. So I'm pretty sure I know exactly what Michael Phelps success felt like at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 because I've lived it.

I have: lovingly saved all of those first place swim ribbons in a scrapbook I made when I was about 11. Apparently, my accomplishments at 6 were pretty important to me. I just pulled the battered scrapbook out to check the date on the ribbons and discovered I also collected matchbooks. Note to self: keep an eye on your kid if he start collecting matchbooks because he's probably up to no good just like you.

I hate: that I'm not a kid anymore. It seems like I wasted my childhood by spending all my time wishing I was older. So I hope to be able to rekindle some of my inner child while raising my little boy.

I miss: living close to my family. Who knew that the 80s hair band Cinderella would sum it up so perfectly by scream-crooning, "don't know what you got till it's gone." So true Cinderella, so true. Also, I can't believe anyone ever took you seriously with a band name like Cinderella. Were the other good Disney character band names already used up?

I feel: my little boy karate chopping me in the belly button as I type this. One day I will zurbert him in his belly button in the name of revenge

I hear: Ladysmith Black Mambazo playing on my favorite internet radio called Radio Paradise that I stream through iTunes. Paul Simon worked with them on the Graceland album. Although I can't understand what they're singing about, listening to them fills me with joy every time.

I smell: the bleach residue left on my hands from scouring my stove this morning. These days when I finish tasks like that I get all sentimental thinking in my head, "this may be the last time i scour my stove before the baby arrives." Yes, that's right. I find myself creating ridiculous amounts of meaning out of mundane household chores. Last week, I may have started weeping while cleaning behind our toilet for what might be the last time.

I crave: a piece of wedding cake, which sounds really specific now that I type it out. As if a regular piece of cake wouldn't do and the cake I desire needs to be first mushed into a bride's face to appease my craving. When really, let's face it, I'm pregnant. A piece of cake that my older brother licked or claimed to have farted on in an effort to mark it as his when we were kids would probably be pretty delicious to me right about now.

I search: for ways to make people laugh often at my own expense.

I love: the sweet little life that my husband and I have built together. I never expected to find this kind of happiness and I hope to never take it for granted.

I care: deeply about how our actions today impact the future of our children. This is my driving force to put forth the effort in any given task like water conservation, composting or recycling even when it seems like a lot more work for me in the long run. I hope to teach my child these lessons so they become not the exception but the rule.

I always: interrupt my husband and I would like to publicly apologize to him right now. It's a bad habit and I'm a very bad person. I'm sorry.

I believe: that man is inherently good.

I sing: in weird voices to amuse my husband while I work in the kitchen. At least I like to think that it amuses him. Perhaps it annoys him and he secretly wishes I would stop and lays awake at night wishing he had married a normal girl. Naaaa

I write: emails to people that I never send. Sometimes writing things out helps me make sense of the jumbled thoughts floating around in my head. But I'd feel bad actually sending it to someone and asking them to read all of that crap.

I lose: my temper often in traffic and I hope I am not teaching the baby any bad habits or blue words.

I never: say never now because life can always throw an unexpected twist at you. But I've gotten pretty good at eating crow over the years too.

I listen: to the advice of my elders more now than when I was younger. Sometimes I'm even smart enough to follow it.

I am scared of: losing my loved ones. I can't even think about it without tearing up...

I need: to go blow my nose now. Thanks last question

I am happy: that I am surrounded by people I love.

Wow, this was fun, thanks for tagging me on this Callie. I laughed, I cried, I ate chocolate chips while filling it out. Now I'd like to tag my friend Jenny to enjoy it as well.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pancakes and politics

I am very pleased to report that all the vegetable eating and suppressing of the sweet demons within paid off for me this morning. I had an appointment with the OB and I lost a pound since I was last weighed by them three weeks ago! I squealed like a stuck pig when I saw that number appear on their scale and my happiness was not squashed at all by Nurse Ratched. (I joke, she's actually very sweet).

She logically informed me, "you probably lost weight because you've been fasting for your glucose test today."

I politely said, "that very well may be the case, but please just let me have this temporary joy at not GAINING anything this week okay?"

She had a point about the fasting, just not a very strong one. My glucose test was at 8:30 AM and I was only required to fast after 5:30 AM this morning. Not much of a hardship considering I do not find myself sleep-eating twinkies very often. I admit I did wake up hungry this morning, but I think that's more my brain knowing that I couldn't have anything even if I wanted it. I opened the fridge first thing this morning to get some water and found the leftover blueberry pancakes rubbing butter and maple syrup all over their delicious cake skin. As I softly shut the door on temptation, I whispered to them, "soon pancakes soon....I will be back for you."

The results for the glucose test won't come back for a few days and in the meantime, I am going to make a batch of brownies with applesauce. My rational is if I have gestational diabetes, I will have to eat healthy for the next 10 weeks. I'd best enjoy my brownies while I still can---just in case. I'm not worried about it either way since I've been trying to eat better anyway. Matter of fact, having a diagnosis would really be a good swift kick in the ass to eat right, no excuses. From what I understand about gestational diabetes, it is often a precursor for developing diabetes later on in life. So if I would find out about such a condition early, the more time I would have to counteract it through preventative measures now, the better.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I happen to have the day off. For once, working the schedule of the stock market pays off (take that people that get the week off between Christmas and New Years)! But today is different than all the other MLK Days I've had off in past years where I was mainly happy that I didn't have to go to the office. Today is weighted with the significance of Dr. King's dream coming one step closer to reality when Barack Obama is sworn into office tomorrow. Congratulations America for making this day possible!

I've never seen such excitement for an inauguration in my lifetime. While I am not normally a proponent of lavish ceremonial displays (and some would argue rather effectively against such displays especially in times like the current economic crisis), I don't see how Obama's inauguration could be conducted any differently. The inauguration has been chosen to be a very public and therefore extremely expensive event, which largely seems to contradict some fiscal philosophies Obama campaigned on to win the election. But tomorrow is an historic day and it should be treated with fanfare to recognize all the people and years of struggle that made this day possible. I don't think it's so much a celebration of Obama the man, but the celebration of a people overcoming on many levels. Tomorrow marks the end of eight years that some of us would rather forget. And for many it marks a new day that has been a long time coming; a day they never thought they would see forty years ago. To suppress the festivities would be stealing the meaning from such a hard fought victory.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The battle within

What I'm about to announce here on my blog will probably incense quite a few people. Before I say it, I want everyone to know I'm not trying to stoke the fire on this issue. I'm well aware that after I say this, some people will judge me and make assumptions about the way I live my life. From this point onward they will liken me to a pansy (A pansy, by the way, is an extremely hearty flower that can survive the winter. So I'm not sure what genius started using pansy to mean weak, but he obviously wasn't well read in botany.) But here is my hot button statement of the day: it's really cold outside.

Ouch, I can hear the moans and groans of my loved ones up north from here in the 18 degree south. And I distinctly heard my mom just utter, "Oh come on! I'm sitting here surrounded by 2 feet of snow and she's complaining it's cold out! Pshaw!" For the record, I've never heard my mother say "pshaw" but I create the dialog here in blogland.

In other news, I'm trying to eat more sensibly lately. I fell into a bit of scale shock after my last doctor visit (conveniently scheduled right after the holidays) and have been motivated to eat more fresh vegetables and to exercise. Mostly, it's going well, but I'm having a hard time breaking my nightly dessert habit. You see, when I first became pregnant, I had to break several bad habits overnight to protect the baby (smoking, drinking, crack, etc). The easiest way to do this was to replace all of those bad behaviors with eating brownies and ice cream. But I'm pretty serious about not wanting to pack on much more weight for the next 11 weeks. It is a hard struggle with myself though. Last night the internal dialog in my head went something like this:

Belly: "Do we have anything sweet in the house? Hmm, there are those oreo truffle things you made at Christmas, cereal, cinnamon bread, candied pecans. Anything sound good?"

Brain: "Shut it! You just had dinner. You're not even hungry. There are no hunger pangs running through you."

Belly: "Maybe I could just have some chocolate milk then? That's not even a solid! And I bet it would hydrate us."

Brain: "Here have some water then Miss I'm-suddenly-super-concerned-about-the-hydration-needs-of-my-body."

*takes a swig of water

Belly: "Um, your baby needs calcium. I can hear him from here, he's crying for chocolate milk."

Brain: "Belly! Don't you dare bring the baby into this! That's a low blow! He's just a baby! And I will not be manipulated into giving you sweets!"

After about an hour of listening to these thoughts run through my head, I finally relented and gave the belly a piece of cinnamon raisin bread---but that's it! I can't tell you how tiring it is to be me and have to listen to these crazy organs all the time. Seriously, it's like there are multiple children living inside me with the way they all behave.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lucky number seven

So I’ve finally reached 7 months and I’m happy to announce that I officially walk like a cowboy. I wouldn’t say so much that I waddle when I walk as I saunter like someone that's been straddling a dusty horse since 2 days west of here. If I happened into a store that sold boot spurs, I would snatch them up right away just so the full effect of my cowboy saunter could be witnessed by all. I wish western saloons were not obsolete, so I could mosey on into one and order a shot of the hard stuff while glaring at the onlookers that were trying to avoid my gaze because I was dressed in black. Because hello, being dressed in black in a spaghetti western means I’m the bad guy---the pregnant bad guy in this case.

When I first encountered this pain in my pelvis that forces me to stroll around in such a bad-to-the-bone manner, I thought maybe I had done something to deserve the pain. Like, maybe I had been split-walking in my sleep or something. Then I realized this is the pain that those that came before me refer to as their pelvis splitting apart. I'm still amazed that as soon as I find out one of my symptoms has happened to someone else, it somehow makes it much more tolerable to deal with. Feeling like what I'm going through is normal lessens the pain and inconvenience of it all I guess. Plus, I've always wanted to be a cowboy, which helps make the pain easier to swallow.

So 81 days to go, which is pretty alarming. I stepped out my front door this morning and saw some tulip shoots starting to emerge from our flower beds. I smiled as I realized by the time those flowers bloom, we will have a new member of the family to admire their pretty colors. The closer we get, the more Carpe Diem my philosophy becomes.

Maybe all those doomsday naysayers are finally taking a toll on me. You know the ones that warn in foreboding tones, "you better sleep now, because you will...NEVER...SLEEP...AGAIN! mwuahaha." Or the ones that pop your happiness balloon and declare, "you better enjoy it now because pretty soon you'll have a baby and your life will change."

Really? My life will change you say? That hadn't occurred to me. Thanks for keeping me on the up and up in terms of what to expect. I was thinking that Dave and I could maintain our current lifestyle filled with hookers and weekend heroin binges. I don't know. Maybe people think we live some uber exciting life that doesn't work well with raising a family? I just hope that I don't become one of those prophetic bubble burster sorts after I've given birth. Don't get me wrong, I fully expect my perspective to change once I've become a mom, I just hope to not become a killjoy in the process.

So until I see those tulips open their buds, I'll be attempting to sleep late and indulging in all the hedonistic pleasures I can get away with while being pregnant. In other words, I'll be watching reality tv and eating bonbons.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Creating a budget friendly nursery

Over the past couple of months, we've been gathering some basic supplies needed to make life with baby easier. Between getting up early for yard sales and consignment sales in the fall, stalking craigslist and an obligatory trip to Ikea, we've put together a nursery we hope will make our little boy happy and comfortable.

Because I am particularly proud of how we put this room together for less than what many new parents choose to spend on a crib alone; here is the breakdown of what we spent on our nursery:

2 gallons low VOC paint from Lowes---$56
Crib (including mattress!) was purchased from a friend---$75
Dresser was purchased off craigslist---$75
Glider and ottoman purchased off craigslist---$60
Bookcase & green cloth toy baskets from Target---$60
Steel lamp & orange shade from Ikea---$27
Orange circle rug from Ikea---$9
Steel shelf from Ikea---$20
Paul Frank alphabet flashcards from Amazon---$10
Bamboo blinds from Lowe's---$50
Natural wood frames from Jerry's Artorama---$13 each

Of course, none of this would have been possible without my favorite husband. He did all of the painting, measuring, drilling, and assembling while thinking about the little boy that will soon help him on such projects in the future.

So baby, if you're reading this, we want you to know that we are prepared for your arrival. And until you're ready to make your appearance, your father and I will be hanging out in your nursery dreaming up ideas of what you will be like.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Let's see how powerful the people really are

Thus far in our preparation for baby, Dave and I have saved a huge amount of money by purchasing gently used goods through consignment, yard sales and craigslist. The idea of being forced to pay retail for these items strikes me as absurd and essentially throwing money away. That is why I am so concerned about some new legislation scheduled to take effect February 10 called the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act.

CPSIA is an ill-conceived law created in response to the increased amount of items arriving to the US from China that contain lead and other harmful materials. In a nutshell, the law states that items for children under the age of 12 must be submitted for lead and phthalate testing in order to be lawfully sold. This testing is expensive though, running between $100-$300 per item and in effect destroys the item being tested in the process. Any items that are not tested by the February 10 deadline will be considered hazardous and will be destroyed. Any manufacturer caught selling an item without a certificate of testing will face hefty fines.

Now let me talk about how this law will effect me personally. It will become more difficult to purchase secondhand items. That is if any secondhand sellers are even prepared to take the risk involved in the first place. Purchasing hand crafted items for my child will become a quaint memory from the past. We will be forced to purchase our child's durable goods from the large retailers that can afford the cost of the testing. Moreover, I predict higher prices on those items. After all, someone has to pay the fees for all that testing and I bet it will be the consumer that will get the shaft. 

Of course, I realize I am overreacting to this law to an extent. It will obviously be a logistical nightmare for the government to regulate such a law, especially on a local garage sale level. I mean, will the police really start cruising suburbia on the lookout for rogue sellers pushing black market baby clothes to eager buyers?

Furthermore, I fully understand that this law was passed in an attempt to protect our children from poisonous materials. Had it been written in a sensible manner, I would applaud the effort. But the fact of the matter is, this law will make it more difficult and taboo for a new mother like myself to have easy access to secondhand clothing. American consignment shops specializing in baby clothes and other items will be forced to shut their doors. American sellers of children's items on ebay and craigslist will be forced to cease and desist that activity. American handmade sites and stores will be forced to close because even if they could afford the testing, all of their items are considered one-of-a-kind and therefore would all need to undergo the same testing process that would destroy the item. Large companies will be forced into bankruptcy because they cannot afford to test thousands of items and thus cannot get rid of their existing inventory. Meanwhile, there will be NO regulation in effect for sellers from other countries selling to the American public. This law will force us to buy from retailers and from non-regulated foreign sellers of secondhand goods---thereby continuing the import of poisonous materials. The very activity the law is attempting to prevent! Seriously, are fools running the government or what?

If you are interested in making an attempt to stop this law from taking effect until it can be constructed in a more well-thought out and applicable manner:

Please sign this petition.

Or better yet, click any of the links below to:

Write to your member of Congress!

Write to your local Representative!

Write to your local Senator!

Ask the Consumer Product Safety Commission a question about this new law!

*Edited later to add*
The CPSC released a clarification on their website that states resellers of children's products "are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards."  Whew!  That's a big load of my mind!  Thanks to Michele for the head's up.  

Now I just hope they readdress the small business owners that will be effected by this law.  Apparently, when the law was initially written, they were also exempt. But Congress shot that exemption down and the law was later passed with no exemption for small business or handmade artisans.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that they come to their senses soon.