Friday, September 26, 2008

Nutrition


For many reasons, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Grant when I got pregnant. But if I knew him the way I thought I did, one thing was for sure--he was going to be having a say in what would be going into to my body as long as his child would be growing in it.

I've been pushing for healthy since I started losing weight five years ago. But now, I'm taking so many supplements that I need a week-long pill box to keep track of it (that's another "fun" factor of pregnancy, sometimes I lose my mind and can't remember what I've done in a day).

All pregnant women should be taking at least what is in my left hand (a nice, generic prenatal). But since I'm carrying the child of the Farns, I take what's in my right hand (a b-complex, iron, 2 calcium, 2 vitamin C and 3 fish oils and my prenatal).


What have I gotten myself into?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Miracle of Life

I know, I know. My waist isn't even really "big" and I'm still only in that awkward stage of showing where to someone who doesn't know me, it's just looks like I'm fat. Cute. I can still hide it pretty easily by wearing loose-fitting shirts and the like, although my bump is starting to protrude from my over-sized work-out t-shirts.

But that's only where the Fun begins...

There are certain things I knew to expect and that all the books and websites say. My first symptoms were stock-standard. Very first there was breast tenderness, but what they forget to mention is the reason they're tender is that they're busy doubling in size. At least the tenderness part is over. Just have to wait to wean a baby to get a normal size back...but by then I'll be pregnant with the next one.

And our friend Fatigue...suddenly if I didn't set an alarm, I could sleep for 11 hours, wake up and then take a nap just a few hours later. I think I might have spent more of that portion of pregnancy asleep than awake, to be perfectly honest.

Eventually morning sickness kicked in. I didn't actually vomit all that much, but I spent a couple of months wanting to. Constant nausea...the only way to stave off throwing up was to eat just about every single hour because although I pretty much always felt sick, I wouldn't actually get sick until I went too long without eating. And "too long" was usually more than 2 hours. There were a couple of times Grant started kissing me doing the affection husband thing and without warning I ran to the bathroom to hurl. Boy were we grateful when that passed.

After my first doctor's visit I had to have the obligatory blood work done. I had never given blood before, so I was nervous already. And we went immediately after the doctor's visit so I was already pushing my 2-hour max. And since it was my first blood work for my first baby they literally pulled out at least 15 vials they were going to have to fill. I closed my eyes after 5. When they did start taking blood, immediately I felt the color drain out of me as my body went limp and broke out into a full-body sweat--I'd never experienced anything like that in my life--and the moment the needle was out I leaned over into the trashcan beside me and threw up. These two tiny Asian women who were taking the blood got ice packs and handed them to Grant and led us to a dark room with a cot and commanded him, "You! Hold these! On her head! Don't let her move! She can't leave until she better! Sit with her! You! Now!" Turns out, Grant's specialty is nursing the ill and he did everything he was instructed and more. While I was in the washroom providing a urine sample he asked them how often someone reacts that strongly. They said at least once a day, especially among pregnant women.

That made me feel slightly better.

And then...Holy Hormonal Craziness, Batman! Ohhhhh, your friend and mine. Whether it's Grant telling me about some nature show he watched and I burst into tears or I watch Legally Blonde and go on a passionate tirade about how Elle Woods is a woman we all can look up to and teach our daughters to emulate (but with modest attire), you just never know what to expect from me. I've always been inclined to have strong feelings and been an emotionally driven person, but this is just ridiculous.

Frequent urination. Hasn't gotten sooo bad yet, knock on wood. But still. I never got up in the middle of the night and I haven't slept through one in months. Sigh.

Food cravings. So, a week or so ago there was the post about the whole container of french onion dip in one sitting, right? Well, I'd like to attribute that to pregnancy, but I'll be straight up. I totally would have done that whether or not I happened to be growing a baby.

Flatulence. Grossly excessive flatulence. I'm embarrassed to have driven Grant out of the bedroom. More than once. And he's a guy. A guy with a very high threshold for gross--the man raised roaches for crying out loud...

I already told you about my waistline. I think already having been so large that has actually been kind because the skin has already been stretched out. I'm wincing while I wait for my long-since healed stretch marks to turn an angry red again...it seems like it will only be a matter of time. One of my new cousins said she was impressed I was still wearing normal pants at all. Honey, first--most of the waists are low and I leave the button unbutton half the time. Second, over the past year I've gone through several phases of sizes. I almost cried in the dressing room when a size 6 brand name eased on oh-so comfortably. And by the time I got pregnant I didn't even undo the button or zipper to pull on/off all my jeans because they were so loose. Now, see above where I leave the dang things UNbuttoned for my own comfort. I won't be in those much longer.

And then there's weirdness. Like a nosebleed in August when we live less than a half mile from Lake Michigan. ?! Seriously?! Looked it up, oh yeah. Right there in the list of symptoms in the month I was in when we consulted What to Expect.

About a month ago I started to notice my skin was kind of itchy. It started on my belly and then spread all over my chest, down my sides and across my shoulder blades. Dry skin. Again, what on earth? Dry skin...in August? In the midwest? What is going on? Well, it wasn't just dry it started to literally just come off me in huge gross flakes. Like a sunburn that blistered and started to peel, it was so bizarre. I had to start having Grant lather the whole top half of my body down in generous amounts of intensive lotion multiple times a day. That one seems to have been short lived though...it peaked after a little more than two weeks and has since cleared most of the way up.

Oh--and this is while I'm still in the "best" part of pregnancy. I can only imagine what's ahead! My doctor showed me how my uterus is all the way up to my belly button now and she showed me which diagram of a side view internal look at a pregnant woman on the wall that corresponded to. I couldn't believe that the baby was already that big! Where am I stashing that, even in this belly?! She laughed and said that by the end I'll be feeling like I'm carrying a 12 pound baby when I'm really carrying a 6 pound one.

Well, it's fun to generate sympathy and comic relief at my woes...but there have been moments when neither Grant nor I can argue that it really is a miracle. Maybe the whole experience isn't the awesome wonder everybody talks about, but there are moments.

Like going to the doctor and hearing the heartbeat. I never get sick of that. We both started crying at the first ultrasound. A few weeks ago I could feel all sorts of crazy things happening in my abdomen but I just could not pass gas to relieve it for the life of me when I realized...oh wait...that's not gas. That's a dang baby!

And that's what you get after all the blizting of your body...a baby. That really does make it a miracle, I reckon.

My Lovely Baby Bump

I've been complaining about how obvious it is to me that I'm pregnant and first, you need some background knowledge. It's actually a shame that I'm writing this part because it's Grant's favorite thing to tell people. Literally. Total strangers, the first thing he'll say about me.

"My wife used to be a total fatty."

It's true. I was kinda chubby as a kid and things evened out a little with puberty but I never took super great care of myself so when I stopped doing sports and graduated from high school but just kept eating whatever I wanted. Well, you do that for a year or two....

Yup. That's me. At almost my very, very heaviest. Well, eventually I got sick of that and a couple of months after this picture was taken I came down with the flu and was sick for a week. In that week, I lost 4 pounds and I just decided, "I'm NOT putting that back on." And I kept going with it. Over the next year and half I lost about 90 pounds. I put some back on while serving in Hungary (almost 30--yuck) but I got home and just went back into the ole weight-loss mode and not only lost the "mission souvenirs" I trimmed a few more off. Thank you, step aerobics! I actually lost another few pounds after this picture was taken this past February.

So, it's not because he's making fun of me, or even that he has no sense of social grace. He's just proud of me and in awe that the long-haired girl used to be the short-haired girl.

Well, then the long-haired girl got pregnant.

Okay, I won't even touch the engorgements happening north of my uterus, although those have long since become problematic. But the long-haired girl used to have a flat belly. I don't remember how long ago it was I was in the shower and realized...I couldn't suck in my gut anymore! I could make it smaller, but not altogether disappear. The shorts I'm wearing in this picture? Totally put them on because wearing jeans was making me miserable. Even low-rise jeans that don't come up very far.

Grant took a long series of pictures in a row and this was not a face I made posing for them (they were mostly quite smiley--I think he put his camera on continuous and I wasn't expecting it) and yet it was perfect to describe my feelings at times. Especially concerning my waistline.

Don't get me wrong. Pregnancy is a...gift. And I feel guilty that it happened so easily for us that Grant jokes all he has to do is look at me sexy and we'll have a baby because I know there are so many women out there who would kill to have babies as easily as me. But those women have flat tummies. I realized a few days ago that I will be spending the entire next decade either gaining or trying to lose pregnancy weight if all goes according to plan.

Good thing I have experience with weight-loss and know how it's done. First key of preventative maintenance, healthy diet. Well, for the most part, check. Though I never have quite curbed my emotional eating... And of course, gotta exercise, which unfortunately has definitely slacked off since we got married.So we're calling in the heavy artillery.

We're expecting delivery of our own elliptical trainer tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Becoming a member of the family...

When I met my sweet mother-in-law last December (little did I know...) she was raving about the Twilight series. Then I married Grant and I came to learn that pretty much all of the women in the clan whether immediate, extended or married in have read everything by Stephanie Meyer. I made the joke that even changing my name wouldn't make my joining the family official until I had read the Twilight series.

So Jackie sent me the whole dang set!

I've been reading them at work (because I work insanely slow shifts) and the mailman and I have even become buddies. When he came in to the deliver the mail saw me reading the first one, his eyes lit up and he announced, "I jus' finished readin' the EEE-clipse!" Yes, that's right. Not "eclipse" but "EEE-clipse".

Grant has been feeling a little left out, so I have started reading them to him, especially on evenings when we haven't received a red envelope from Netflix. We're having a lot of fun with it. We even found some trailers for the movie coming out later (my mailman friend has the screensaver for it in anticipation) and he's promised to take me. I'm already looking forward to it. He's even more eager to finish the book.

I enjoy pointing out to him all the ways we're like Edward and Bella, and reading them for myself, really.

But we're only a few chapters into Twilight and I'm only halfway through Breaking Dawn, so no spoilers in the comments, please!


However, this is just one of many examples of the time I'm having enjoying settling into being married to Grant. Including all the customs that come along with joining his family and turning into part of it.

Now there's a pillow top...

Before I married Grant, he had some interesting sleeping patterns (I know, ironic this is coming from the person of whom we have photographic evidence sleeping with her eyes open). Although I found most of them unusual, I did learn quickly that these are simply one group of the many quirks and idiosyncrasies that make up the Farns--and you love and appreciate him for them, or you'll never be able to be close to him. There's the odd hours, the black-out curtains, the earplugs but to me what was most comical was his insane quantity of pillows.

The man would just totally barricade himself into that loft surrounded by as many pillows as he had. I was boggled that multiple times in the months we dated he'd pick up another pillow at Wal-Mart on an outing there. I mean--you can only have so many, right?

Well, he uses slightly fewer pillows now...because now he surrounds himself with pillows on one side and a wife on on the other. He'll snuggle up next to me, which is really sweet. And then I get up in the middle of the night to pee (thanks to our friendly, neighborhood fetus) and come back and notice there is literally less than 12 inches of mattress space between him and the edge of the bed I'm going back to. He literally crams us into less than half the bed.

I'm pretty sure one of these days I'll actually fall out.

It's difficult to interpret this as him being a bed hog, because I know it's not about that. He really just wants to be close to me, and that is very sweet. I just hope I still think so when I'm 17 months pregnant with his child. By that point though I think I'll be through with repositioning myself into the nook exactly big enough for my body on that tiny space of mattress and he'll wake up with me on the other half of the bed we're not using.

But I didn't realize just how many pillows we had (and granted, I brought a few into the marriage that had been donated from my old employers when I was a nanny) until I stripped them all to wash all the linens in the house in one fell swoop.

If he used a normal number of pillows, we could literally line enough extra ones over the mattress and slap a cover on it to make our own pillow top.

See for yourself.
He looks cozy though, dudn't he? :) I love that guy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Forray into the Culinary Arts

One of my contributions to our marriage is a $2000 set of cutco knives. It's a lot of high quailty knives, suitable for someone who is very serious about food. And food preparation. Strange that they are associated with me at all.

It turns out that in the first four years that I owned those knives I used them pretty much just as conversation pieces. I cut my fingers with them (during demonstrations) more frequently than I used them to cut food. Those knives were seriously wasted on me.

Then I married Ashley. She takes food to a new level. Since our marriage we have had so many wonderful things to eat, which I had never heard of before. Eating good food is one of the perks of being married.

When I visited Seth last time he shared with me a secret of manhood: men have to cook too. Steak. Lots of steak. Preferably over some kind of actual fire.

We have a Sam's Club membership and we realized that you can buy steak in packs of 15. This was totally my chance to become a real man! Ashley and I have been eating steak every other day for a little while now. And I do the cooking!

The first day we baked it in the oven after applying a bunch of seasoned salt. It turns out that bottom round steak has a tendency to get tough--like, thank goodness for cutco steak knives and good teeth. So with the next batch we marinated it in balsamic vinegar and then cooked it at a really low temperature. It turns out that balsamic vinegar is awesome in a salad but it's weird on steak. We continue to try something new every other day. Mmmm steak.

I had to learn what marinating is, and that there's such a thing as meat tenderizer (I thought it was a hammer with points on it, not a chemical). Next up to learn: the definition of brazing. It's not broiling, it's not boiling, it's brazing. Mmmm brazing.

I also shared my one recipe with Ashley: fried potatoes. You have to cut them just right to let the savor truly resonate, no just slicing it perpendicular to the long axis of the potato. And you have to grind pepper over it, no getting the pre-ground stuff. In fact, you have to hand pick the pepper kernels, the way I do. And that's extra virgin olive oil (extra extra virgin, also from Sams Club).

I feel like getting a cookbook or even watching cooking shows.

Mmm cooking. Now it has been definitively shown that marriage changes a person.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Read this quickly and then move on

I bought some more tarantulas. I don't want to draw too much attention away from other blog posts that are more interesting below. I'm keeping a gallery of them at http://picasaweb.google.com/gvfarns/tarantulas.

They are cool.

Grant as a Girl


If you ever wondered what I would look like as a woman (you know you have), photo editing software has helped us out.

Here we have Ashley's body and my face.

Frankly I think she's a prettier girl than I am.


EDIT: Next project will be to put Ashley's face on a picture of a super pregnant woman. Then she will be able to get all the sympathy and attention that she so desperately needs and no one gives her because she still has her girlish (though suddenly voluptuous) figure.

Our Home!

One of Grant's favorite movies of all time is The Incredibles. A few days ago I heard him reference it as he said, "Y'know how she calls him up at work and she's so excited about how she's unpacked the last box and they are officially moved in and he says that they moved three years ago? I'm starting to feel like that in our apartment."

So...while all of our boxes aren't unpacked, we've got everything in a state of working order that I'm not too ashamed to post. To be perfectly honest, there's really only the extra room left with a bunch of random things I need to organize and find homes for somewhere. I can't take all the credit, it's been a real team effort. Grant did all the huffing and puffing to move furniture and tearing down things he'd built and such. He's put a lot of work into transforming his bachelor pad into our home. So proud!

We really lucked out because basically all of our furniture came from a friend in Grant's department and school. He moved to London and his stuff wasn't worth enough to him to take it with him. When he told Grant he could come have some he kept saying, "It's total garbage, you probably won't want anything, but I'm just throwing it away so if you do want something, you can have it."

Most of what we got was nicer than what we would have bought if we had decided to go shopping.

To save myself lots of headaches I'm not going to post all the Before and After pictures. But I'll still talk about what I did...I'll try to keep it non-confusing.

We'll start our tour in the bedroom. Not because it's the first thing you see when you come in, but because it's where the hugest transformation has taken place.
First, the Farns' old grad student bachelor's bedroom... The site of many good times for our family before the Pollock-Farnsworth merger.

Notice the necessary arrangement of having all of one's possessions in a single space (ie: a piano in a bedroom). Notice the homemade loft bed. Notice the less than stylish although perfectly functional collection of stackable plastic drawers.

But now, Casa de Farnsworth familia!

Well, I know there's a book on the windowsill (turns out I married a vampire who's allergic to light and that is our way of compensating for the light that leaks through because we have to disrupt the black-out curtains for the AC--yes, the black-out curtains) and the wastebasket is full but look! A REAL bed with a headboard and everything! Matching bedside tables AND lamps for them, is that adorable or what?!

And this picture is actually 2 he digitally stitched together. Ladies, not only does he savy in digital photography, he does the dishes, takes out the garbage and waits on me hand and foot. I know, I know. What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man. Yes, he is.

He used to spend all his time at his computer, but we put the dresser with his clothes in it by the door instead. You know it's his because his fedora-wearing parrot is on it. Mine has body sprays and the Twilight series on it. Mine's also taller because my wardrobe consists of more than a dozen blue oxford shirts and kahkis. I legitimately need the space.

I actually had to put a lot of work into revamping the bedroom closet. No more food storage. Bye-bye laundry detergent. Seasonal clothes and bedding only.

It was so weird as we were lying in bed one night and we realized that our bedroom was just that...the bedroom. We never hang out in there. We only sleep and stash our clothes. We're so old married people, aren't we?

Moving on... Well, the living room is dramatically different as well. Grant hosted manys the scrapbook parties here in this very room. It was basically only furnished with a futon and bookshelves. I don't think I've ever actually seen that little table. He probably found it in the alley and used it for the picture to make the space look more filled than it actually is. You really can't appreciate one of my favorite changes in this room, but just to the right of this doorway on the floor was where they kept his microwave. They actually had a reason for putting in in this room, as the electricity in this place has a very low capacity and when they had the thing in the kitchen the breaker would often blow.

But now...the microwave made its way to the kitchen where it belongs (a simple extension cord does the trick of keeping our circuits happy). We traded in the futon for a leather loveseat and put in the Papa Bear/Mama Bear computer workstation. There's a TV for our occasional Guitar Hero fix.

I've got a weird look on my face because Grant decided to take pictures while I was eating a fried egg sandwich and I have egg yolk dripping on my fingers and chin. Yuck. Glad you can't see it, at least.

The little table is nice so we can pull up a chair and have a place to eat but one problem with this apartment is that there's just no good place to have an actual table and chairs set up.

My biggest pride of the kitchen can't be appreciated in the picture we took. When I moved in, all the dishes were over the stove. The very first thing I did was move them over the sink and put the pots and pans over the stove. It's so satisfying because it makes so much more sense.

And the bathroom really isn't that incredible...but I put in a woman's touch by adding a fabric shower curtain and it makes a world of difference.

The last room is a little embarrassing because it still needs a good deal of attention. It was once the roommate's bedroom but now it's our...everything else room. We're doing pretty well, though. The piano is plugged in, the desk is ready to be organized so it can be our sewing/writing by hand/whatever table. Obviously, we need a bookshelf in there. We're working on it... And it won't take me three years. I've gotten a lot done in three weeks, actually...

But the extra bedroom will come in pretty handy in the not-so-distant future.

After all, we'll need a place for a crib.

The least noticeable but most significant addition to Casa de Farnsworth familia...

We're finally getting around to officially announcing it.

WE'RE PREGNANT! Well, one of us is. Grant likes to stick out his belly and pretend sometimes. But then he can suck it back in. I can't do that anymore. Every time he does I just sigh and think, "Lucky."

It's pretty fun to join the ranks. I've been dying to tell stories of my horrors--I mean joys--of being an expectant mother.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In my defense...

I offered it to him at least THREE TIMES. He seemed revolted by the idea, as if he were thinking, "Why would I ruin a perfectly good potato chip with that hud?"

The container wasn't that big. I made sure to get the small one, even though it was less economical. It looks at least twice the size it actually is in that picture. I'm pretty sure Grant adjusted the angle to make it look like that so he'd have a funnier post.

Part of the reason I actively decided to finish it in a single sitting was so that I wouldn't be tempted to buy more potato chips to finish off the dang container and thus start a vicious cycle. I might have been the only one eating dip, but we were both scarfing chips.

I had a small bowl of granola, a nectarine and a wheat bagel to eat up until that point of the day and it was 5pm when we got home with the dip. I was starving when I sat down with it.

I've been craving the dang dip for over a month now and the anticipation of finally satisfying it was no small force in inhaling it once I finally got it.

Nobody only eats one serving of anything according to the little chart on the product. There are those among us who can't even manage to eat one serving when they come in single-serving packages. Just sayin'...

I haven't had this stuff since I was in college. That was seven years ago. I won't buy it again for probably that long.

And I offered it to him. He totally turned his nose up at it.

Just. In my defense, y'know. He's having a ball with this.

Intemperance

Ashley has long made fun of me because of a few eating habits I have. For example, if I buy a box of ice creame sandwiches or popsicles I will eat one after the other until they are gone. Frequently in one sitting. She was also shocked to learn that when I bought a box of 48 snickers at Sams Club I was able to eat the whole thing over the course of about a week. Yes I haven't been known for my temperance when I do start eating (or a number of other things either). I balance that out by forgetting to eat most of the time. Or at least I have in the past.

Well I have finally obtained photographic evidence that I'm not the only one. Today Ashley said "I'm really feeling French onion dip" so we bought some. Then we sat down and she read me a chapter out of Twilight while she took a few Ruffles and dipped them. She's such a good wife. Anyway at the end of the chapter I learned that when Ashley gets a craving, SHE REALLY GETS A CRAVING. That container of dip never even had a fighting chance.

In her defense she offered it to me several times, but declined. I was planning on having some later. It never occurred to me that a whole container of dip could be eaten in a sitting.

According to the label there are 8 servings in a container that size. Or at least there were. :)

Let's be clear. I'm not saying she's a fatty or anything. She's more than welcome to get fat if she wants. But she did eat ALL THE DIP without leaving any for the rest of the family.

I love Ashley so much. I have to take a picture any time she does something funny so it doesn't always seem like she's the normal one in the family.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Quality Time


I know there have been requests to see the new apartment...actually we should have some pictures up later today to satiate the curiosity of those wondering what a woman's touch has done to the Farns' bachelor pad.

The first thing we set up when we got here was our computer desk.

Funny thing, since being married we both spend significantly less time online. We do still check our email every day...and here you can plainly see us getting our daily fixes.

His of arachnoboards and mine of Facebook's Word Challenge.

What cracks me up about the set up is how we have Papa Bear and Mama Bear monitors--we didn't even plan that one.

More pictures to follow soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Want to grow old with you...


By the time our wedding rolled around, Grant and I realized we hadn't made sufficient time to get rings in order. So, we made a back-up plan. We took the bus to Wal-Mart and purchased 2 silver bands for $12 each, just in case. In the end decided to use my solitaire for the ceremony and the back-up band for him.

And this solitaire, for those of you who haven't seen it up close, is pretty much the world's most perfect ring. Absolutely gorgeous! And, as it just so happens...exactly what I've always wanted to sport.

We finally replaced Grant's back-up ring with a titanium band that arrived last week. He's in heaven to finally have a comfort fit band! We also got me a small band to go with my solitaire. He was a little confused at this request at first but I explained that if someone sees a solitaire, they ask, "When is the big day?" but if they see a solitaire and a band, they know the Day has already passed. It's probably silly that such a thin band of gold made me feel much more married, but somehow it did make it more official.

So I often find myself gazing at my married woman's left hand...pleased as punched and so happy I could purr on the spot. It's also comforting to notice Grant's. It's interesting to me how slapping something on his left ring finger makes him seem like much more of an adult than a few months ago.

We'll eventually replace these rings with matching tungsten carbide bands (it's been his dream for quite some time and he says I'm the perfect girl for him because I'm not only tolerant, but enthusiastic about the rings he's wanted to give the one he'd marry for years). But even these "newlywed" models seem so beautiful and perfect to me...

Being a married person, marriage takes up a great deal of my brain space. Since the wedding I've been working at a nursing home as a receptionist, and as it turns out, there are lots of opportunities to see married people.

The first couple to take my notice was a man who lives at another assisted living facility and his wife lives where I work because my building provides more medical care, which she needs. So, an attendant comes every day with him in a taxi and he comes to the nursing home to visit her every single day and we have a taxi come pick him up and take him and his attendant back to where he lives. He uses a walker and he moves slowly even then, but he comes.

Then there was another couple, they were British, who lived together in an assisted living facility not far from where we are but the wife had to have surgery and needed to be in a place where she could have medical supervision for a couple of weeks. He was tall and robust and able to come by himself, and he too showed up every single day. He would bring her down to the patio in her wheelchair and he would introduce themselves as "the newlyweds". Only married sixty-six years.

There is another man, with whom I've developed an actual friendship. His wife is also recovering from surgery although it's not clear how long she's going to need to be here. He comes twice a day. First in the late morning and he stays for quite a while, then again in the evening, just before she goes to bed--sometimes he's not sure if she'll still be awake but he'll check all the same. He says after sixty-three years of her being the house manager, he's finding it difficult to do her job. Last night he went to a Thai restaurant he read about in the paper because he had passionately loved the food when they took a 4 week trip to Thailand together years ago. He mentioned it to me when he left in the afternoon from his first visit. Then he came back several hours later with crab rangoon he'd brought back from the restaurant.

Grant and I are actually a famous couple in the place ourselves. I always work in the evenings or on the weekend, exactly when he's not in the office working on his dissertation so in his loneliness he often comes to visit me. He's such a common figure there that one day when he decided to stay home my whole shift at least four people asked where he was or if they'd missed him. Two residents, one co-worker and at least one visitor who comes in every day noticed.

Seeing all the other couples often makes me think of growing old with Grant. And we've already decided that if the time comes one of us needs to go into a place, we both want to go. I hope I never have to leave him like the other wives I mentioned...but if I did, regardless of whether he was still at home, or in another place waiting for me to rejoin him, or making his way with an attendant and walker...I'll bet he'll come and see me every day.

And that's what I see every time I glance at his left hand or mine...it's a whole lifetime we have to look forward to.

I can't wait to grow old with Grant.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New additions to the family!

We've had a very stressful week on a number of levels. Ashley has been working every evening from 3-11pm and we haven't had much time together, my research has been really intense, and there are a bunch of other things that have really been getting us frazzled.

So Ashley and I took today off to just be together all day and decompress. It has been one of the best days we have had together yet.

We started off taking a long car trip which I have wanted to make for some time and only now could because...well, we just got a car. We went to the Chicago all animal expo. It was a windy, difficult trip, but thankfully we have GPS, which handled most of the difficult stuff.

Basically the expo is a bunch of reptile and bug vendors that get together and sell stuff a couple of times a month. It was a blast!
Yes, you guessed it. In those containers are the three new additions to our little family. A beautiful Brachypelma smithi (Mexican Redknee)


You will notice that we took a picture of this little guy (or girl, we don't know) in its container. That's because this tarantula is one of the most aggressive hair flickers I have ever seen. Tarantulas are the porcupines of the bug world. The hair on their abdomens is kind of like fiberglass but worse. When they are scared they flick it at you. It can make your skin itch like nuts and don't even ask about getting it in your eyes and nose. That's why tarantulas are chilled out about biting. No need when they are covered in itchy itchy hair. Anyway, this one's a hair flicker, so we haven't handled her much.

And we got a close relative of the smithi, a spider chosen because Ashley liked it, our new Brachypelma emilia (Mexican Redleg).

This species is very similar to the smithi in the sense that they are known to be avid hair flickers, but ours so far has been a real cool customer. We like her.

She's also likely to be due for a molt.

And we got a really neat spider of a completely different variety. Avicularia Avicularia. The Guyana Pinktoe. Arboreal spiders like Avicularia live in trees, so our spends all its time on the walls of its enclosure and that's normal. From what we have seen it's a lot more active than we are used to in tarantulas. They are real friendly and don't flick hair, but we were a bit surprised because it is significantly faster than other tarantulas. Make that much faster. And it can jump. We practically jumped out of our skins when we started nudging it toward the new container it was to be in and it totally jumped out of my hand. Actually we have held it subsequent to that first encounter and every time we get a little shocked by its speed and jumpiness. When it hears anything, it jumps. When it gets scared, it runs quickly upward...as in TOWARD YOUR FACE. It's so fuzzy and gentle, though. For some reason I find it much less intimidating than other tarantulas, despite the fact that it's clearly the most difficult one to actually handle that we have.

We have fed them all and this one is the most interesting to watch eat. We have a little bit of a hard time getting handling pictures because it is very active and we are always on the alert for it to take off and hide somewhere. This is in stark contrast with our original tarantula, Stella (G aureostriata) who just holds still in your hand. If you nudge her insistently, she slowly puts one leg forward, and then another.

I (Grant) spend a lot of time researching and discussing tarantulas on the internet, and I've always wished my tarantula 'collection' consisted of more than just one tarantula. Now I have four and am officially a tarantula enthusiast. And Ashley is too, you know...community property.

Granted, tarantulas have a limited appeal to a general audience but we like them, and Ashley has been very tolerant of my interest in them. We had been wanting to go to the expo for some time, and we finally made it down there. For the rest of the day we walked on the beach, watched a few movies, and in general have just done the living for which we work the rest of the week.


This is what it's all about. For as long as it's just us, anyway. :)

PS here's a video of Stella (our original tarantula) eating. For anyone who has ever come seen her and she refused to eat. Watch fast... the action is at the beginning.

video

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A few notes on grooming the Alpha Male...

If you haven't read about it yet, you're going to need to scroll down and read the post before this one first.



The first time I talked to Grant outside of church, he finally got me to come to one of his scrapbooking parties and I stayed after everyone else had gone home and talked to him. It was then I noticed the very weird stray hairs sprouting from his nose and I stared at them throughout the entire conversation, which lasted a couple of hours if I remember correctly.

Flash forward a few months: we've been dating a little while and we get into a...heated discussion and the result is we both feel there are small things we could do to be more presentable. He got me to buy a more feminine watch and every day shoes (both of which do look nicer) and I took free reign on those darn nose hairs (and in between his eyebrows while I was at it).

He still seems to have a hard time believing that his nose sprouts whiskers-so I show them to him each time I get one. He's less fascinated with them than I am.

And sometimes he puts on a brave face. Sometimes he goes into convulsions when I attack a zit that he swears is "attached to my central nervous system!" But always he lets me know he's had enough by saying "Ow!" in a very high-pitched voice that makes him sound more like a kitten than a person every time my finger so much as grazes his skin, let alone finds an offending clogged pore.

But...he is a very good sport about it I've gotta give him that. Just don't let him know I do it because it drives the me crazy to look at his nasty nose whiskers and not because he's the alpha male and it's a sign of respecting his authority.