Sunday, June 28, 2009


It’s been a busy weekend with life-changing events for our friends. We had a birth on Friday at 11:36, a wedding on Saturday at 2:00, and now a first birthday party on Sunday at 1:30. Milestones. We’re stepping on them and helping to celebrate. It’s like constant laughter fighting its way up my throat and out my mouth at every turn.Such happiness. We’re basking in the friend-glow and eating it up with silver spoons. The perpetual momentum and forward movement of life is carrying us with it. We are marching along gladly.

On Friday, after a false alarm on Wednesday, Hind and Nader finally gave birth to their first son. It’s been a long nine months! It’s like she was pregnant forever. I remember the day she called me, screaming into the phone, “What does a cross mean on the stick! What does it mean, Heather?!” Hind always uses my name when she’s serious. That's how I know. She was floored as they were not trying to get pregnant. She was supposed to wait for me since we both agreed it would be harder for me to get pregnant than for her (I’m more than ten years older than Hind). It was an accident. A happy accident. Nader was on top of the world. Hind was shaking with panicky fear. They were so cute. They came over that evening to talk about the news and watch us carve pumpkins. It was October.

On Friday, the temperatures reached about 100 degrees in Alabama. Hind’s water broke at about 11:00 Thursday night. Nader called at 7:00 am the next morning with the news that Hind was 5 cm dilated. We made jokes about how I was going to rub that baby all over my uterus for good luck. As soon as he’s out of her womb. I did do the uterus rub, but I waited about two hours and for the baby to be clean and not gooey. Nader was so excited. He was hilarious. He’s an Arab, so when he’s excited he simply gets funnier. He had comedy gold that day. He was at the top of his funny game. And she was handling it like a champ. They were still torn between a few names. And then a new name entered the race: Sovian. We had not heard this name before, but it was quickly approved by the council.

For the rest of the morning, I’d talk to Nader every hour and get updates. She was a champion. She was soon 8 cm dilated and calling for the epidural. Natural childbirth was out, and give-me-something-for-the-insane-pain was in. I took a half-day and met Debs and Evie for lunch. We were going to head to the hospital. And then Hind called. SHE called me. She was so sweet, she said, “Heather, I just wanted to call and tell you that the baby is about to come out. I’m about to push.” Wow. She called.
I felt so honored. I told her I loved her, cried a little, and wished her luck. It was time to get a move on. It was happening for real this time.

As soon as we got to the restaurant for lunch, Nader called and told me that Hind was breast-feeding. The baby was out! He was ten minutes old. The entire pushing-pushing-push to get the baby into the world only took fifteen minutes. Amazing. And here he is—tiny sleeping baby: Sovian Nader. He has his father’s middle name. He has a head full of hair. He has long little fingernails that need to be carefully filed. He has the tiniest little fingers and a perfect nose. He is a baby. And he smells like one, too.

I immediately rubbed that baby all over me for good luck. We hope that next month is our month. We’re up to 100 mgs Clomid next month. We want to join the baby game. We want that moment. We want a family. Until then, we are so happy to be a part of our friends’ families. Today, Evie has her first birthday party. I’m excited about the pop-up book we bought her—it’s all about Italian families and love. Perfect. I tried to show it to Bonita, my baby kitty, but she didn’t seem to understand. I so need a baby! A human baby. One day, Mr. Husband and I will get in the game.

In the meantime, we'll take lots of family photos with our friends' kids. We ran down to the hospital between the wedding and reception yesterday afternoon to take a family photo with new Sovian. I think we look like the perfect family. We are not creepy. We are not.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Project Find Harold: Dad and Facebook.

It's Father's Day and both our dads are not here. Mr. Husband's father is travelling with the church choir, spreading their heavenly voices elsewhere while my dad is at home in The Villages, FL on the golf course. Both dads already got their Father's Day gifts. Both dads feel sufficiently loved and know that they're the greatest. Both dads have three loving kids.

Here is my favorite photo of my Dad and I from when I was in grad school. Mom and Dad lived an hour and a half away from me then. Now they live eight and a half hours away. Mom and dad used to visit me every other month were we'd go to Macaroni Grill and drink jug wine and then hit Parisian's afterwards. Dad loved these excursions. We always laughed a lot and dad felt like he was really part of my life. He supported me through grad school by not continuously telling me that I'd never make money with an English degree. I guess he'd gotten it out of his system when I was in undergrad. He is a funny man who likes to laugh and enjoy life. This is why he and mom live in the "bubble" called The Villages. It is a returning to the college years. Mom and Dad have one party after another. They are forever celebrating life. This is why I call mom and dad in the mornings on the way to work. The evenings are booked with their too-many-to-name social events. While I typically call three days a week or more, Wednesdays is my morning with Dad while mom is on the tennis court.

This past week, I told him about Harold's new photos on Facebook that he'd posted from Iraq. Harold is ready to come home for leave. Dad said that he wanted to see the photos. I told him he has to learn to use Facebook. He said he would. I said, "I'll write a document and teach you dad!" We both hung up the phone filled with hope.

My parents are too busy golfing, playing tennis, hitting happy hour at 3:30 in the afternoon, and playing hand-in-foot to forward their computer and Internet skills. This was going to be a challenge. I had already set up a Facebook account for mom months ago. She used it once and then never could figure out how to log in again. Dad was ready to give it the old Klusendorf try! I wrote the document on Thursday night. I kept in mind that my audience was not computer savvy. I kept in mind that my parents are easily discouraged about technology when the golf course is ever calling their names. I understand. We love golfing with dad when visiting The Villages. We understand.

The Facebook Document

I called my dad at 9:43 am on Saturday. Fortunately, he was not out partying at that early hour, he was painting the garage. My parents are always painting something. They had to move to a larger house after their first year in The Villages when they realized a villa did not give them enough rooms to paint and repaint and then paint again. He put down his paint brush and picked up the phone.

Dad was ready for his lesson. I instructed him to look for the document I sent to his email. He read the email and realized he was already behind. I'd instructed him to read the document ahead of our phone call.

The first and biggest challenge for someone who does not use the Internet often is logging in. Logging in can be the worst experience ever. It can bring down walls of large cities. It can cause food to rot. It can lead to the unintentional destruction of a happy home. It can deter an older person easily and cause that person never to try again. No! It is frustrating. Dad had this hurdle as his first step.

I added lots of goofy photos of myself to the document. Mr. Husband and I took the photos in an attempt to potentially alleviate any stress dad may have over trying to learn something so new and foreign. I was on the phone encouraging him and in the document giving him little tips. I was working hard to get dad to Harold.

To log into Facebook, the user uses his email address. Dad kept selecting his email address (a shared mom and dad email address) from an autocomplete selection. Unfortunately, mom had entered the email address wrong. Dad was selecting over and over and over again mom's mis-typed email address. It was very frustrating. Dad didn't get discouraged. He didn't yell at me. He simply kept trying. Good man. After four attempts and him believing that the all-caps message Facebook offered meant he should actually use all-caps in his login credentials, I finally convinced him to type in the login credentials fresh. He did it! He logged in! We were making progress.

Next step: orient Dad with the Facebook homepage. It can seem overwhelming--I know this. I tried to break it down for him. I didn't want him to worry with the unnecessary. Stay on the path to Harold!

Then, I heard Mom behind him. She was there. She wanted to see how he did it. And then I showed them their friend requests. The two of them went on and on about how this person or that person who'd requested their friendship hadn't changed a bit. I could hear mom, "well, he hasn't aged a bit since high school!" I could hear the envy in her voice. Dad is getting distracted!

I tried to reel dad in. Stay on target! We have a goal: Project Harold. Our goal was to get dad to see Harold's photos and to be able to post on Harold's wall. Dad and Mom accepted a few friend requests and then it was back to the lesson.

I created a link from Mom and Dad's Facebook page to Harold's Facebook page. All mom and dad have to do is click on "Harold Facebook" from the left toolbar. Sounds easy. Dad can do it! Dad did do it! He found Harold.

I added instructions in the document to show dad how to page through photos on Facebook. The goal was for mom and dad to get their daily dose of Harold. Harold likes to add photos to Facebook. Mom and dad need to see those photos. I helped. And I continuously reminded them that they could always get back to the Home page via the blue banner toolbar. That's one of the most important things when teaching older people about the Internet--give them a safe way home.

Lastly, I taught dad how to leave a message on Harold's Facebook wall.

Dad let Harold know that he's out there. He's watching. He's connecting and networking. This one time.

I don't think Dad will return to Facebook. I don't think he really sees the purpose. That's ok. He now has this document so that when I mention on Wednesday morning, "Harold put this great photo on Facebook ... ", then dad can go and find it. Maybe. We'll see. That will be the final exam, if it ever happens. But I have great hope. I also know that the golf is calling.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grand Slam Fun

We’ve found a video game for both of us. We. Wii. Oui. While we’ve enjoyed many zombie-hunting trips together on Xbox and on Wii, it is the physical games that we really need. Mr. Husband and Mrs. Me have gained 10 lbs. each since our wedded bliss began. Oops. We got comfortable. Oops. We got really comfortable. Oops. We are so happy. But, alas, the buttons on our pants protest, so we have been trying to reel it in. Get a grip. We need to get down to business and move a little. Wii’s Grand Slam Tennis just came out, and we are hooked.

We spent the beginning of March this year watching the Davis Cup live when it came to town. It was the best darn money we’ve ever spent in town. Next time, we’ll spend more. Bring back the tennis! We were edge-of-the-seat, up in the crowd, screaming U.S.A. Kill the enemy! We could have been a mob, if properly provoked. We were rabid with tennis.

Now, every night, you can find us center court at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, Australian Open, or at the French Open where we eat brie and baguette before getting on the court. We are playing hard. Our shoulders hurt. We are champions. Our legs are sore. We are losing. We are sweating to the tennis. We are trying desperately to understand how to win. We’ve gone online and gotten spanked by players ranked in the thousands where the goal is to be ranked #1. The feeling of suck permeates. We will not go back online for a while. Our living room floor stays clear for game play. We must practice so that one day … one day, we can go back online and hold our heads up high while our racquet swings.

It is tennis all the time. And Mr. Husband is amazing. He’s a born player. Wait! That’s not fair! I’m the real tennis player—he is the gamer. I should be naturally better than him. He is always naturally, effortlessly, logically better than me. I try so hard! Last night, we were playing and, after he beat me two games in a row, I started whining about how it wasn’t fair that he wasn’t moving like a real tennis player. He was simply understanding how to manipulate the Wii with her new Wii Motion attachment. No. That’s not right. Visions of the Southpark WOW episode flashed to the front of my brain: Big No. Mr. Husband must be an athlete and play like an athlete if we are to game together in this Wii tennis wonder-world. He is now swinging like a pro. And he’s really getting a work out.

The cool thing is the Wii Motion. I love it. My killer backhand is as it was in the real world when I played tennis daily in the days before Mr. Husband. Amazing that the computer figures this out quickly. The stupid computer will not serve to my backhand. Not fair. That means I have to work on my forehand. Ugh. Just like in the real world. My net game still stinks, but I’m an awesome doubles partner regardless. My serve is steady and tough and I’m quick to the ball. I am so alive on the court. Just like in the real world. And I still lose. Grrr. Just like in the real world.

The just-like-in-real-life façade changes for the better for Mr. Husband. He never really played outside as a kid (he was a gamer—seriously), so he never learned to play some minor sports like tennis. He has a willingness to learn—he’ll get out on the court and dodge balls as I hit them at him. He is slow to start in his 6’7” frame and reluctant to run for a ball lest he not be able to stop. When his momentum picks up, the man is like a freight train. Look out! In the Wii tennis world, he is nimble like a deer with the quickness of a bunny. Not the white kind with pink eyes, but the hardcore brown bunny that can whip across a busy highway without a second look back. He is so hot while he knocks the ball around. It’s all I ever wanted. The two of us—playing tennis. I’m ok with the fact that it’s virtual tennis. One day, far in the real world future, I’ll get him back on a real court. When that awesome day comes, he’ll understand better how it all works. He’ll have studied it in his video game world. We are building a future—one that sees him as my awesome doubles partner where nothing can get by him at the net. I am planning. We are playing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Trouble in Bear City?

The calm comes to us this weekend in the form of one thunderstorm after another. Love it. Mr. Husband and I are taking grand advantage of our upper porch as the rain comes in wave after wave after glorious wet wave. Today, Sunday, we are completely rained in. Mr. Husband has stepped into his post-apocalyptical Fallout3 world while I try to appease the cats. The poor cats. The poor angry cats. They are calling for impeachment. They are rallying in the streets and ready to burn us in effigy. You can see it in their little cat eyes. They have been very disappointed in our lack of attention and inability to cater to their every whim. We have been bad parents this week. And we know it. Worse—we’ve been bad members of Cat Government (the ruling political body in Bear City).

How can we redeem ourselves? Will the public ever trust us again?

Our lives are ruled by these two cats: The Senator, Oliver Baggins Pants, and his trusty companion the furry Lobbyist, Bonita Banana. We have had two very busy weeks at work—weeks where we are so engrossed in our jobs, we don’t want to leave. But where does that leave the cat government that is waiting at home for our vote? That leaves a confused cat government that is not able to pass any new bills or bring up any new measures in the House. That leaves the cat government completely defunct and in disarray. What kind of members are we? We’re the kind of members that are about to be voted out of the government.

Today, I took good measures to see that all is calm and docile in Bear City, the Land of Cats. In our lack of recent government involvement, the cats have built a new Hotel on Main Street—they’ve inhabited the new hotel in order to confirm its comfort for other members of Bear City. We were not made aware that the bill had passed to move forward with the construction of this new hotel. There was no memo and no announcement. But it is here and quite visible on Main Street—there is nothing we can do. We will not stoke the fire of cat anger that comes from disrupting any new buildings that come to pass. The new hotel must stay. Some argue that the new hotel was constructed without the vote of all members of the cat government. They say the hotel should be torn down. They say it is an eyesore and ruins the aesthetic of Main Street. I caution those who dare to question the cat government. The hotel stays.

Near the new hotel on Main Street, Cat Trust Suites, the playing field was opened with layer after layer of fine tissue paper—the kind that makes a crinkly noise. New building materials always excite the members of Bear City. The goal in today’s construction project was to create a new park. A park where all members of Bear City can come together in peace to play and enjoy scratchies. I imagine a world where ears, chins, and bellies shall be scratched at all times. Purring is encouraged, and cat teasers
fly through the air in delight. The park is filled with wild, bright colors that slide across the floor in a whirling-magic-cat-fantasy-better-than-tuna. The park is hailed as an immediate and overwhelming success.

We spent the morning digging for treasure like mice, birds, and teasers with feathers in the new playing field. Big shopping bags offered picnic areas for the cats to rest and regroup while on the hunt for such treasures. The Senator graced us with his presence after watching from a distance. It is rumored that he came for the potato salad and stayed for the catnip. He sat up on a big picnic table,
looking like a right regal fat cat. I think I even saw him smile once. He looked on while his subjects romped in the park. All were filled with glee. No one remembered that it was raining.

The humans have been forgiven and restored to their previous place in Cat Government: voting members of the House. While all is calm during the afternoon catnap, I will make myself available again when the members of Cat Government come calling. I will not repeat the mistakes of the past. We are back in line and will properly fill out seats in the House as established in the Rules of Cat Government 3.1.C.A.T. No one need remind us again that a cat coup is around every corner. There can always be much, much more cat hair in our daily food. We know this. We understand.

Bear City for everyone! Bear City for life!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The square root of home.

I worked from home today. All day. Turns out I hate working from home. Loathe it. Despise it. I am so alone and my cats don’t want me around. This is their time. Their town. Their space. I need not to be here not now not in their space. How can that be? When we come home from work every night, both The Senator and his trusty companion Bonita Banana are waiting on pins and needles for us to enter the house from the garage door. We’re like the most exciting thing ever. Turns out there is an appointed time for that most-exciting-thing-ever to happen, and it is not in the middle of the day when the house belongs to the cats.

Territorial beasts.

All day with the glaring at me when I bounded down the stairs for a Diet Coke. All day with the looks that question my existence. All day with the permeating feeling that I am not wanted. All day.

And the quiet. I cannot work with music, so it has been quiet all day. Just me and the air conditioning and the flushing toilet from time to time. It is silly quiet.
No lawn mowing today or weed wacking on Werewolf Lane. Just simple, hot, blaring, you-should-not-be-here-it-is-cat-time quiet. I miss my coworkers. Holy crap! It’s true. I miss the silly stories over the cube wall about what baby vomited on whom or who took their first step or which baby made the cutest sound you just can't stand it. I even miss Greg Neal! I do! I miss Greg Neal reading the news out loud all day. I have no idea what’s going on in the world today, and if a tornado hits—there is no one to warn me. I know, I know, I should surf the net more, but I’ve always had Greg Neal. Miracles will never cease. Greg Neal, deliver me from ignorant bliss!

I worked from home today because it was my turn. Mr. Husband had already worked from home twice while we wait on the builder and the plumber and the magic-man-magician to come and fix our dying master bath shower. Three or maybe four weekends ago (it was ages ago), we noticed bright orange moss and a tiny mushroom growing out of the baseboard on the bathroom wall between the super shower with five spigots and Mr. Husband’s crapper. After living together in a one-bathroom apartment for two and a half years, Mr. Husband has his own bathroom. I will not go in there unless I have to. The man is regular. He is crazy regular—and good for him! But no more of living with that for me. No way. Keep my olfactory factories making roses. So, anyhow, there was a mushroom growing in our bathroom and I didn’t take a photo! I screamed and Mr. Husband ran to the rescue.

It’s been a bathroom chaos-mystery ever since. They tear up one part and retile. Tear and retile again. Water still leaks. Now we are to test again tomorrow morning. I hope they fixed it because staying home is for those who can. It’s simply boring here. Metaphorical fires happen all the time at work. I guess I miss the heat.

And Mr. Husband. Mr. Husband is a wall away at all times while at work. I can hear him sneeze, if he sneezes. If he’s in a meeting and discussing big Research & Development things (R&D), then I get to hear waves of what might be words from his side of the office. I can hear him. Sometimes. And I can smell him, if I put my mind and nose to it. I am not alone. Today, I was alone and put up for sale or trade by the cats. Suck. I miss Mr. Husband. He’ll be home soon, and we’ll have our daily discussion, but most days we live each others’ day with some differences. We don’t do the same thing at all, but we are nearby and can check in with each other face-to-face whenever throughout the day. Open Access.

Mr. Husband came home for lunch today, and I think we had the most romantic lunch date possible with the plumber pounding away at our shower tile in the background. We laughed and ate pizza and stared at each other as if we hadn’t seen each other for years. It was like an airport pick-up lunch. Totally. And then he left. He was gone and the cats were still glaring at me, staring down at their little-furry-imaginary-wristwatches and shaking their heads, saying, “It’s not 5:00. Why are you here?”

I miss my cube.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Marvelous Baby Shower.

The baby shower itself was amazing-wonderful-marvelous. Nader and Hind were properly showered with food and gifts and yelling and screaming kids running about. Perfect. They got a taste of what is to come. The moonwalk in the backyard for the kids had all kids hopping and laughing about. This was a shower to usher two unexpecting expecting parents into the big world of family and all it means. The focus was on children with squirt guns, bubbles, toy cars tied to balloons, and a table to paint onesies for the soon-to-arrive baby boy. The shower was a house party thrown in the middle of the day on a glorious Saturday.

The three hostesses filled the kitchen counters with dish after dish of homemade food while the guests filled the diaper cake table with gift after gift for new baby boy. We encouraged running and loud. The adults drank white wine and beer while the kids drank Capri Sun and met new friends. Everyone was together and laughing. Loud was fully achieved. The back porch was packed with the onesie table filled with kids and adults painting together.

Mr. Husband and I gave it a good go with the onesie. Turns out we simply do not have much art craft between us. I think Mr. Husband has much more, but he doesn’t know how to access it. His craft gets stuck in logic and then he’s just a great big giant brain, but, then, that’s really hot so I can do without the painting ability. The two of us worked hard at a onesie that simply didn’t look very good. While Mr. Husband may not have much craft, the craft that I have is totally retarded. I am always the retarded girl on the playground with the paint brush. It looked like shiny silver and blue boogers had slid down the front of the onesie. Not attractive. Not cute. But fun to make and we laughed. A onesie decorated with super boogers that had been to fashion week—they were ahead of their time. They were too sexy for the onesie.

There was a very low-key game as we placed the soon-to-be parents in front of the fireplace in the living room. Debs, one of the hostesses, had the idea of creating a clothesline to hang with little baby items for decoration. Nice backdrop for the baby-food-sabotage game that we’d devised. The father-to-be got to taste a lot of baby foods while being blindfolded. His wife fed him. She laughed, he gagged, and the kids clapped at the entertainment provided. That was cheap entertainment. The guests gathered to see if Nader would vomit. That really was the only goal. He didn’t gag as much as I’ve seen other fathers-to-be. He was strong. He is now fully prepared for fatherhood.

That’s all it took. A little bit of baby food.

And so the party ended with everyone fed and socialed.
The parents-to-be have four more weeks to the due date—they wait on pins and needles. They have a bag filled with 3-4 baby names and are ready to pop that baby out. I hope the baby comes soon—I’m ready!

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Puréed Kind of Love.

Life was food crazy for the Yacoub baby shower: baby shower boot camp began on Thursday night. On Friday night, we pulled on some thigh-high hooker boots and really went to camp. Mr. Husband helped me cook until 1:00 am by making cupcakes and being a super sous chef. I got up at 7:30 and went back to the kitchen. Life begins in the kitchen for a party. Mr. Husband was in the trenches with me. We were side-by-side and experimenting with food. Does it get any kinkier? Not in our house. We were totally nine-and-a-half weeks without the sexiness and definitely without the creepy control issues. Mr. Husband never morphed into Mickey Rourke and I never got dumb. Fortunate. Still foodies. Not creepy.

Aprons and greased pans were our game. We began boot camp with an essentials trip to Whole Foods where everything under the sun can be found. Amazing—we never had to panic. Whole Foods held us in her pricey little hands and massaged our wallets as we strolled through the store finding food item after food item that was exactly what we needed. We pillaged the vegetable section. We bought a butternut squash and discovered a strange green mango. We bought ginger and red chilis. We hunted for Greek Yogurt. We stopped and took a break in the wine section. In the end, we were so impressed with our array of vegetables and fruit that we gazed upon them as if the arrangement was art.

As I chopped and cut and blended and puréed, Mr. Husband made blue cake cupcakes. It’s a boy, so it all had better be blue. Mr. Husband had never baked cake before. We’ve baked cake together—lots of cake. We’re a cake-loving-drooling-eat-it-until-you-die family, but on Friday night, Mr. Husband was on his very own. He learned that you cannot always trust the box: you must feel the cake. Be the cake! He was the cake and learned how to stick a toothpick in the cake to test the cake. He is the cake! I was so busy forcing together new foods that I’d never worked with before—I cut up my very first mango. Yes, we sang the juicy mango song with newly made up words as I cried a little and we christened the mango we named “Steve.”

Steve the Mango became part of the master plan: lots of stuff to put on pita chips. I made five different dippable foods: avocado-mango salsa, cucumber-yogurt sauce, cannellini spicy bean dip, hummus with veggies, and zucchini caper dip. There was supposed to be a butternut squash dip, but she didn’t make the cut. She’s going to require more time. I think I’ll make her for leetle brother Chris’s birthday next weekend. She is a complicated vegetable and she requires much more devotion. She’ll be in a cute little dish soon. All in all, it turned out wonderfully. My favorite presentation was my New Wave appetizer tray filled with the dippables. Dip away!

I puréed just about everything for the dips,
using so many new kitchen products that we received for our wedding. I am thankful every day that we were given so many nice things to start our life together. And it pays off every time we get into the kitchen together and get to bring a party to life.

I got up at 7:30 the next morning while Mr. Husband continued to support me from the bedroom in his snugness and his snoring. I iced the cupcakes in blue with blue and more blue. We prepared final dishes and packed the car. Mr. Husband opened up a box of innovation on the many food items, lining boxes with plastic wrap and calling himself the Dexter of food-packing. Such an incredibly helpful man. How did I ever get so lucky? I couldn’t have done it without him. He is the only one I want standing beside me over a hot stove while we make it all happen with aprons, and measuring cups, and lots of food processing. Bring me my knife! Hand me my spoon! We blend together perfectly as a team in the kitchen and as a team for life.