I'm in Heaven

Why, you ask, am I so blissful this lovely afternoon? Because I just had a meeting with a friend of a friend who cleans houses when she isn't working as a Labor and Delivery nurse and one of the best hospitals in Philly. After many recent discussions with my husband over the cleanliness of my house and my lack of desire to dust and scrub every day (or even every month), he finally broke down and said I could look into hiring someone. Now I know this is an expensive, unbudgeted, luxury, but if it will cause my husband to be less stressed and my house to be more peaceful, it's worth it. I will even give up my fast food breakfast and lunch habit if need be.

Finding someone trustworthy and reasonably priced seemed a daunting task. I only recently started really wanting this service as I learned that nearly ALL my friends...even stay at home moms with young kids...even people on shoestring budgets...had hired cleaning help. I had asked a few of them about how much they paid and for references, but hadn't called around yet. Then last week in my MOPS meeting (we had a speaker on organization), I saw a girl who had recently joined our group had a business card to one of my friends that had a picture of a broom on it. I got very excited and asked for the info, and got even more excited when my friend said she worked as a nurse with this cleaning lady and used her to clean her own house regularly. Finally someone I could definately trust...an educated, professional mom just like me, except that where I like to take pictures for people, she likes to clean and organize.

When I spoke to the woman on the phone she sounded really easy to get along with and very professional. She made me nervous when she explained that the first cleaning is usually very in depth, like to the point of moving furniture and scrubbing baseboards. She calmed my fears when she said "the first cleaning costs a little more, and it depends how big your house is, but not more than $100." That's IT? When she said she'd come by today to check out the house and give me a price, I quickly got embaressed by the inch thick of dust on everything, and the juice rings on the countertop, and the dirt on the stairs I hadn't vaccuumed in weeks. So I did a small bit of tidying up, but mostly just putting things in their place, which I'm pretty good at. I'm no clutterbug, despite whatever Mike says. Well the cleaning lady immediately commented on how NEAT my house was! I explained that it is not neat, it is organized, but it does not get scrubbed. She said, "Well for someone who doesn't clean much, you do a good job." And she completely sympathized with my being a pregnant, working mom who tires easily.

With every room I showed her, I winced at the dirt and dust and she exclaimed "Oh, this is EASY!" She does organizing too, so when she looked in my closets I freaked, but she said "Not bad at all." She asked to see the basement, which I told her is just for storage and we never use, but I told her how someday I would like to organize the mess down there. She actually thought I did a pretty good job of storing Nathan's old clothes, in diaper cartons, even if they weren't labeled. I think really she was just being nice. She was VERY nice, but not overly perky, just super cool. And when she told me the price for the first and following cleanings, I about fell over with joy at the affordability. She said she likes knowing that what she does makes people happy. That's exactly how I feel about my photographs.


File Under Political Rant

Ok, I have two issues in political news right now that have been bugging me (that's an understatement) and I need to get them off my chest. I know my opinions might seem predictable and partisan, but I do not drink the Koolaide here. The moment I first heard the facts of these news items it caused a visceral reaction in me, you can just ask my husband.

First up is the John Edwards campaign. There is something seriously WRONG there. Elizabeth Edwards was told last week that her breast cancer had metasticized and spread to her bones, and that it was now treatable but incurable. John and Elizabeth made the decision right there in the hospital, immediately after being told she likely doesn't have many years left to live, that they would continue John's campaign for President. I'm sorry, WHAT?

I understand that she doesn't want to be the woman that kept John from being President...but guess what honey, Hillary and Barak have got that covered already. I understand he wants to do whatever his wife wants him to do, but they have two very small children to think about. It's one thing to need someplace to direct your positive energy, something to keep working at and keep your mind off of dying. But running for President is not like any other job. They won't be home for months, if not years. Maybe it occurs to them that they won't win the primary anyway and their race will be over in just a few months. But that is precious time. John Edwards is not acting responsibly as the husband, father, and leader of his household. He's got his priorities mixed up and it's just one more reason he shouldn't be President.

Next issue up, the Attorney General Gonzalez fiasco. I call it a fiasco not because anybody in the white house or justice department did anything wrong, but because congress is creating a circus wasting MY taxdollars trying to get back at George Bush. I cannot believe this thing hasn't gone away yet. There's NOTHING THERE for them to investigate. The President can hire and fire whoever he wants of these US Attorneys. They weren't doing the job their bosses wanted them to do, so they got dismissed. Geez. This supposed contradictory email about some stupid meeting the AG MIGHT have been in about this subject? Well I guess we'll see what he says but I'd hardly call that a smoking gun. This whole matter just pisses me the f*** off. We have a war to fight, and a lot more important things to do than spending time trying to smear the President. He's done enough screwing up on his own, time to move on.

Oh yeah, and I keep hearing people say "Why won't Rove testify in congress under oath? Hundreds of Americans are proud to tell the truth under oath in court every day." Speaking as one who HAS been grilled under oath in court before...court and congress are not even REMOTELY the same. In court you have a lawyer to defend you and object to things and you only have to answer questions directly relevant to the case. In congress you are questioned by TONS of people and not defended and they can ask you anything they want. It's a night and day situation.

Whew...maybe I can stop thinking about this stuff for awhile now.


It's a Boy!

It's a Boy!
Originally uploaded by Mainline Mom.
Or as my husband says, "Another potential Penn State football player!"

We finally settled on a first name, but no, we aren't telling it.


20 Weeks

20 Weeks
Originally uploaded by Mainline Mom.
Tomorrow is the day of the big ultrasound. I am so excited I can hardly think straight. The kid had better cooperate.

Once we find out the gender, we can start thinking about names. We've decided not to tell anybody the name this time around. I like Neel's suggestion that my blog readers should get to name the baby. So feel free to offer up suggestions. Mike thought maybe we should have an NCAA tournament style name-off, throwing the top 64 names into a bracket and letting you guys vote.

Personally, my favorite way to name the baby is one Mike and I thought of months ago, while having lunch at our favorite resturant. When you order your food at Panera Bread, they ask you your first name. Then when your order is ready, they announce your name over the speaker. Nathan thinks loudspeakers are hilarious. We sat for an hour and listened to them call one name after another, and just gave a thumbs up or thumbs down. There were lots of Mikes and Jens, but several very unique names too. We agreed to twice weekly lunches at Panera to get a wide spectrum of names. Nathan gladly gave us his opinion too. If he liked the name and could say it, he would repeat it. That is considered a vote in favor from him. At this point we have not really agreed on anything.


The Sun is Shining

The ice on the driveway finally melted! I see a bit of grass poking through the snow. I drove Nate to school this morning with wet hair and didn't freeze to death! Spring is coming.

I'm just about halfway through this pregnancy. Thursday we should find out if it's a boy or a girl. I seriously can't wait to start baby shopping either way, I just need to know. Last night I had coffee with two girlfriends, one of whom just had a baby in January and one who is due in June. The girl due in June is having the same horrible sinus problems I am, and sleeping even less, and she works full time as a hospital administrator and has two kids at home. Poor thing. We spent a long time discussing our birth experiences as I expressed my conflict over whether to do a repeat C-section or try for a VBAC.

And last night I dug out the fetal heart monitor I bought before Nathan was born that never worked for me. It's basically an amplified stethascope, and I could always hear my stomach rumbling, my own heartbeat, and sometimes the baby squirming around, but never the baby's heartbeat. Well this time I have a lot less fat and a more toned tummy, plus I know where to look and what to listen for, and this time it worked. I found it and could hear the steady, rapid beat right along with my own. It's a wonderful sound and I drifted off to sleep listening to it.


Another Cool Meme!

I got tagged to do this Meme by Lori awhile ago but I've been delinquent in reading her blog so I didn't know it. I think it's pretty cool, and so far I've had an exciting life.

This list can make you feel as though you've done some pretty cool things in your life...or as if you haven't done enough. Which one are you?

Things I've done are in boldtype.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid (I'm counting Chitchinitza)
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children/currently raising child
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head (half of it)
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

I am tagging DCRMom because she loves memes.

Day of Rest

It is just rediculous that on St. Patrick's Day we have a driveway so frozen over with ice that you can't clear it. We did get to take Nathan sledding yesterday morning. Two trips down the hill and he was ready to go inside. Too cold for him, I think.

The mall was pretty empty before noon yesterday too, even a couple stores hadn't opened, presumably because their employees were snowed in. There were however, a mob of freaks running around center court in poorly homemade superhero costumes....apparently WWF was visiting. I have never seen an event at the mall so jammed with people, lined up 100 plus deep for autographs and photos and airbrushed tattoos. Thank goodness for all the rent-a-cops keeping the paths around the crowd relatively clear.

Before I forget...McDonald's has a new thing called a Cinnamin Melt...it is YUM.

So last week my seriously kooky neighbor (Sandy)walked over to visit my neighbor that just had a baby (Mary). Sandy says to Mary, "Is somebody around here pregnant?" (Around here is a very limited area, we only have about four neighbors who even talk to each other.) Mary replies, "Yeah, Sarah is pregnant." Sandy replies, "I thought so! I sensed it. We live on very fertile ground." Mary recounted this to me because for weeks she keeps commenting on how skinny and not-pregnant I looked. Winter coats and sweaters hide a lot.

Yeah, whatever. Sandy is a notorious snoop, a peeping Tom who watches us and our neighbors through our windows. She must've seen me recently outside looking pregnant. She is seriously strange. I DO look pregnant, btw. Not with a coat on, but last week it was warm enough to run around without a coat.

That movie Music and Lyrics is great. My girlfriends and I laughed hysterically at all the 80's music references. I think because we are exactly the right age to appreciate it. And I don't remember ever seeing Hugh Grant shirtless before....oh my, the man has been seriously working out.

March Madness has actually been a little fun to watch the past few days....although I wish I had actually filled out a bracket. It's so much more interesting when you are competing with your friends.



I have nothing profound to write about this week. My nose is so drippy and stuffy 100% of the time that I finally went to the doctor this week, who told me, as expected, it's pregnancy rhinitis and there's nothing I can do. It makes me miserable and keeps me up half the night, which makes for very bad blogging or wastewater plant designing. The rest of my body is feeling a lot better than it had been, which is a good thing. Going to yoga certainly helps. But I do fatigue pretty easily. Climbing the stairs leaves me huffing and puffing. Standing up gives me a headrush. After being so fit in the past year or so, this bums me out. I'm already looking forward to getting back in shape post-baby.

Tonight is movie night with the MOPS girls. We're going to see Music and Lyrics. It got a pretty good review by my favorite movie critic, Neel.

Mike says there will be no finished basement this year. This makes me very sad. I think we could afford it, but I don't keep a close eye on the money like he does. Babies are expensive anyway. This morning he said he wanted to buy a Powerball ticket for Saturday. The pot is $180 million. I am against playing the lottery, but I won't stop him. He asked me "If you won $180 million, what's the first thing you would do?" I said quit my job. He said "Besides that....bigger than that....wouldn't you want to buy something?" I said I supposed the first thing I would buy is a really expensive new car, like maybe a Mercedes SUV or something. He liked that thinking better. So while driving Nathan to and from school, I daydreamed about how I would spend that money. It was fun.

A huge chunk would first go to several Christian charities, like my church, my high school, my sister's company, Capital Bible Seminary, Eastern College, World Vision, Awakening Ministries. Then I would have to give some to my family....which got me thinking about how much is reasonable? Who knows. Then I started thinking about where I would want to live. My first instinct is a great big huge house in Lower Merion, in some gated community. But then I wondered if those kinda neighborhoods every have kids running around the yards or backyard barbeques or can you call your neighbor when you need a cup of sugar? There's something to be said for smaller houses closer together. I would never buy my own plane, I'd be perfectly happy flying commercial first class everywhere. Traveling would still be hard with two small kids, but we'd certainly do it. Afterall, our parents could retire and come along to help out. I think my first stop would be Disneyworld, just to see Nathan's face. His little smile makes everything worthwhile.


The Wedding

Originally uploaded by Mainline Mom.
Saturday was the wedding of the daughter of close friends of our family. I'm reluctant to mention that I babysat this girl and her sister when they were very small. She and I share the same, very common Biblical name. Ironically, she married a young man that shares the same, very common Biblical name, with my husband.

The wedding was very nice, but pretty low-budget and a bit chaotic at times, partially due to Sarah's very laid-back nature. She had asked an artist friend to take pictures but her mother wasn't sure what this photographer's qualifications were, so she asked me to take pictures as well. I was really excited for the opportunity, but glad I was not flying solo or under contract. What a learning experience! The other photo at least had a decent camera and lens, but came unprepared with no flash. She got the lucky job of shooting the bride's family portraits in daylight back at the house, which will at least make her look reasonably competent. Because I had a longer lens and a tripod I took the balcony, which turned out to be not such a great thing in low light with no flash allowed. But a few shots came out ok.

Fortunately I had my flash and homemade bounce card for the formal pictures. The other photog did a lousy job of directing people so I stepped in there. Most of the families had left for the reception by the time we did the formals. Did I mention it was the longest wedding I've EVER been to? Was supposed to start at 4:00....didn't....we didn't leave for the reception till almost 7 and it WASN'T because of the formals. And next time I'm asked to photograph a wedding, I'm driving myself so I'm not THE LAST PERSON at the reception. By 7:00 I was starving, dying of thirst, and my back was aching from being on my feet holding a camera so much.

But it was still great fun. I especially like bossing people around a little. If I had been the sole photog I would have been even more bossy, but I didn't want to step on her toes.

I definately do NOT want to do this for a living. Once in awhile for fun, sure.


More Snow

Pepper's Football
Originally uploaded by Mainline Mom.
Why is it snowing in March? Crazy. But at least my MOPS meeting is cancelled tonight, so if my church doesn't cancel their presentation with Bono I won't have to choose between the two.

Yoga last night was really good, my pain is much much better today. I guess that means I should keep practicing the same sequences at home. I got several nice kicks from Baby while I was stretched out in upward dog or upward bow. Lotsa activity in there this week!

Got my replacement lens in the mail Monday too, just in time for the wedding on Saturday. This wedding sounds very chaotic and I only hope I can get all the pictures I want and make the bride very happy. I also learned how to make a nice bounce card for my flash that really enhances my flash photography, as seen in the little picture of Pepper. No more harsh shadows or blinding reflections! All with a piece of paper and a rubber band. Ok, so it doesn't LOOK like the most professional piece of camera equipment, but it's the pictures that matter.


Random Monday Thoughts

It's big. It's black. It's beautiful! Our new refridgerator, that is. Finally our fridge matches our other appliances. It arrived Saturday afternoon and cooled down very quickly. I made a big grocery store trip on Sunday, spent a ton of money on frozen food, meat, and produce, and our fridge still looks empty! And clean! I love it. Pepper was checkin' it out too.

Good weekend overall. Had a nice dinner out Friday at Iron Hill Brewery. I miss being able to drink. Went to the gym Saturday morning and suffered through half an hour on the treadmill. Ouch! Got the fridge. Cleaned out my closet to make room for my maternity clothes. Went out to dinner with our friends who have year-old twin boys. The place only had one high chair available, so it was a bit chaotic for them and didn't last long. But it was still fun for us. Nathan thought the boys were hilarious.
Church on Sunday was good as this week is our church's big missions conference. We support hundreds of missionaries, and it's always interesting to hear their stories. There's something going on every day and night this week. Wed. night they are having a presentation featuring Bono (from U2), Bill Hybels from Willow Creek, and Rich Stearns, CEO of World Vision. I happen to think Bono is the best thing since sliced bread, and I'm super glad he's teaming up with Evangelical Christians to help the poor and needy in Africa. World Vision is a great organization that has taken the lead in this area, and Rich Stearns is the dad of one of my sister's best friends in high school. He used to go to our church before he moved to Seattle to head World Vision. The man is amazing, he was CEO of Lennox (the china company) making $800,000 a year and living in this great house on the Mainline when he was asked to head World Vision. He took a massive paycut and moved his entire family to Seattle and has done great things ever since, including becoming pals with Bono. Well anyway, hopefully I'll learn more later this week.
Now back to my regularly scheduled job.


Hemmoraging Cash Again

I'm not sure what came first. You remember my post about when Mike's SUV died. I forget how much that cost...$800? Then my car needed all new brakes and rotors. $450. There were a couple of extravagant birthday gifts we bought before we knew how expensive this month would be. Then there was the $13/hour babysitter to go along with our dinner out. And my $180 broken lens. And now? Our freezer gave out. No, not a stand alone spare freezer. The only one we have, attached to the refridgerator. So, new fridge here we come. Mike has informed me that I have to skip yoga class tonight in favor of fridge shopping. Too bad. After Tuesday's yoga class Mark gave me a bunch of delectable chocolate he brought back from Germany. As my husband knows, a man who gives me high quality chocolate is highly regarded in my book.

Speaking of hemmoraging, I am getting sick of giving up so much blood for pre-natal tests. They took four whole vials from me this morning, and several more on Tuesday. The only plus is that I feel slightly woozy and use it as an excuse to go eat a substantial breakfast. Like I need an excuse.

One bonus I really do need to brag about this morning. I was very unsure what to do about replacing my broken lens. Brand new the same lens is $180. A no-name knock-off is $120. A friend advised me to upgrade to a better lens, but at $300 I just can justify it right now. So I scoured ebay and checked prices for several days. I was patient, and there were many gently used and brand new ones going every day. All fell between $110 and $150. I was hoping to maybe snag one for under $110 including shipping, but it wasn't looking good. But last night I sniped a gently used one for only $84!!! That's unheard of compared to all the other similar auctions I saw end in the past two weeks. I used auctionsniper.com. If you're ever shopping for something on ebay and getting frustrated because you keep getting outbid, check out auctionsniper.com. You enter your maximum bid amount and if your bid is still high, they enter your bid about 5 seconds before the auction closes. My max bid was $100, but since the high was only $83 with 5 seconds to spare, they entered a bid for me at $84! I was already in bed by that time! It's awesome, I tell ya. I still had three free snipes from when I signed up, so that service hasn't cost me a thing yet.

So now I'm doing the new lens dance. I wish it were a more exciting new lens, like the Nikon 18-200 VR ($800), but it'll do for now.
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