12 Oct

57 hours and 1000+ miles later

It’s not the first time we’ve driven down to Sedalia on a Friday and came back on a Sunday, but this was the first time my co-captain was 37 weeks pregnant with my future backseat riding baby. I don’t know how she managed to spend 16 of those 57 hours in the car and remain a champ about it the whole time, but she sure as heck did.

We left Minneapolis right after meeting a new midwife since we had to make a very abrupt change in health providers due to an insurance change (UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE, PEOPLE) that we weren’t really expecting at the tail-end of a pregnancy. We had the new car packed, which meant the dogs were getting their first taste of being demoted to the “way back”. Spoiler alert: they didn’t complain about being able to stretch out that much for the entire ride there and back.

Pregnant and tired wife = dinner stop in Ankeny, Iowa, just so she could have dinner at Maid Rite. She gets very nostalgic when it comes to loose-meat sandwiches and who am I to get in the way of nostalgia? Or, again, someone that’s 37 weeks pregnant.

We got into Sedalia around 8:30 or so Friday night and that included a stop at the Wal-Mart in Warrensburg, because I sure did forget to pack things like hair product and toothbrushes. We stopped at my folks’ house and watched my mom watch a few innings of the Royals/Orioles game. It’s hilarious and adorable and I have no idea when she became a giant sports fan, but the thing is – she knows things like roster salaries, which kind of blows my mind. My brother and his girlfriend came over once they found out we were there (BECAUSE NOBODY TELLS HIM ANYTHING), but they had to leave when the score was tied in the 8th inning because it was throwing off their good luck rituals. I’m still not sure my brother’s changed his underpants since the post-season started. Once we noticed we’d kept my dad up way past his bedtime, we grabbed food at Sonic and headed to the hotel to watch the rest of the game.

We woke up Saturday morning to stop over at my folks’ house again before going over to my grandparents’ house. The reason we visited Sedalia was because my grandpa turns 90 on Monday. I wasn’t going to miss his birthday for the world and Amelia wasn’t going to let me either. Originally, we were going to be able to make it to the party that was being thrown for him, but that got changed and we just couldn’t risk another week later. Baby and all.

You know what I’d do every Saturday afternoon if I could? Spend several hours with my grandparents. I mean, you know what I’ll never forget about this weekend? Showing my grandpa the new car. Hearing my grandma talk about the muffins she made earlier in the day, all the apples she’s been cooking with, cleaning up the soot the furnace repairman got everywhere. Getting a brand new baby quilt that Grandma hand made and tied with her own hands that are so bent and crooked from arthritis she can’t even lay her hand flat. Listening to her tell a story about how she found one of the gifts she gave us for the baby. Having her write down the baby’s name, so she’ll be able to learn it by the time she’s born. Watching my grandma share books and books of pictures with Ash just to try to find one particular picture to show him. Showing my grandpa pictures on my iPad and listening to him chuckle anytime he saw any picture of my dogs. Looking at old photos with my grandpa and him telling me how much a catfish weighed in a picture from the early 90s.

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I won’t forget how at 6pm, they both said they were hungry and wanted to take us out to dinner. I had to make about 11 calls between my dad and my brother to get it all worked out and I refused to go anywhere that Grandpa wasn’t choosing. He mentioned Hardee’s Steakhouse (yes, that Hardee’s fast food restaurant, but then he went off on a tangent about how “you can’t hardly get a good sandwich there anymore”.) Before he chose, he changed out of his t-shirt and into a fancy pearl-buttoned cowboy shirt. When Amelia complimented him on it, he honest to God said, “this old thing?”. That old thing was sparkly and I’m not even exaggerating.

We ended up going to cafe on the outskirts of town that’s been there for God only knows how long. “It’s not fancy or anything” was my grandma’s disclaimer. When your 88 year old grandma that might weigh 80 pounds joins the Clean Plate Club after plowing through a whole patty melt and a plate of fries, that’s fancy enough for me. (Totally introduced her to the wonders of a patty melt, by the way.)

We were lucky (?) enough to be there during karaoke, which in Sedalia means 10 years olds can get up and practice their ventriloquist acts to Justin Bieber songs. Not kidding. My grandpa insisted to the server that he get the bill for everyone. The server told us she had to respect her elders when he told her he outranked us all. I let her know it was his birthday on Monday and when she came back, she asked his name and if he’d care if they sang to him. My answers were Charles and absolutely not.

I asked him if he was going to get up and sing. He said he only knew two songs. I asked which he was going to sing first and he said the first one. Of course, I had to know what the first one was. His answer? Not the second one.

If there’s something you don’t see or hear very often, it’s that guy smiling and laughing. He’s not unhappy, by any means at all. He’s just an old farm guy that grew up in the 20s and 30s, where I’d imagine emotions weren’t really something boys needed to show. He laughed and smiled so big when the announced between tone deaf karaoke singers that it was his birthday and everyone in the whole restaurant sang to him, it made me tear up. Or I got something in my eye. I won’t forget that old codger pretending he didn’t think it was a big deal that there were 8 of us there celebrating his birthday in a way that he loved – music (even though it was bad), eating a burger and spending low-key time with some of his family.

Before we left, I grabbed a quick picture of these two people, who just happen to be two of the most wonderful, caring, loving, amazing and genuine people you could ever meet.

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Grandpa poses all the time without his dentures in or he acts like a cranky old man. Pictures with him truly smiling are few and far between. This picture, even though it was taken on my iPhone in a parking lot underneath the lighting of an old cafe, is the best one I’ve taken in a long time. It’s getting printed and framed at our house.

I told Amelia on the way home today that I’ll never forget this weekend and what we were able to do with Grandpa for his 90th birthday.

11 Oct

this year’s edition of national coming out day

On National Coming Out Day in 2007, I got fired from a job at a company for totally sucking at selling overpriced educational software to schools that barely had enough money to pay their teachers. Yes, it sucked to get fired. But you know what else? It opened the most amazing doors for me in being able to be who I am, both professionally and personally. Six months of unemployment was totally worth that.

On National Coming Out Day in 2014, I’m spending the day in a town where I lived for 23 years and was afraid to even think about coming out of anything. Except now, I’m proudly wearing a t-shirt that promotes equality in marriage in Missouri with my legal wife who’s 37 weeks pregnant. That’s a normal day-in-the-life for me.

Some of those seven years in between were pretty sketchy, I’m not going to lie. The ones before that were even worse. For people I’ve met over the past seven or eight years, they know the Wendy that’s confident in who she is and not afraid of much. The Wendy prior to that put on a pretty good front, but it wasn’t until I was truly free to be me that I just felt wholly complete and just genuinely good about myself.

It wasn’t until 2007 until I was finally like, really? Nobody was holding me in the closet. In fact, I never really came out of the closet with some formal party. That wasn’t me. I just lived a life that was authentically mine and didn’t feel like it was necessary to explain it. I was fortunate enough to surround myself with people that loved and supported me for who I am, not what I am (other than awesome). There was nothing special I had to do aside from just being myself. Those are the people you need in your life, you know?

I mean, I don’t know if that was the right thing to do for everyone else in my life, but it was exactly what worked for me. I never told my parents I was gay (someone did that for me – NEATO), although I suspect they knew. I only wrote a coming out letter to my grandparents, because it felt like the right thing to do. I sent my brother an email after he’d met  Amelia a few times saying, “hey, you know Amelia and I aren’t just friends, right?” and he was like, “yeah” and finished the rest of the email like I was a dummy for even assuming he thought otherwise.

My counsel to you, anyone at all reading this, is to just be yourself. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. It took me many years to be able to do it; it was no cakewalk. There are people out there who will love and respect and support you as you are. Give the people in your life some credit. Not everyone’s going to be high-fiving you about who you are all the time, but that’s going to happen anyway. Gay, straight, Yankees fan, Twilight Groupie, Justin Bieber hater, bearded hipster – someone somewhere isn’t going to agree with who you are and that’s okay. There’s going to be plenty other that do and you gotta come out of that closet and find ‘em.

If you need somewhere to start, I’m right here. Let’s celebrate YOU together.

 

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01 Oct

i don’t even know what happened over the last two months

Oh wait. I do. And it’s a lot.

  • We toured The Mother Baby Center just to see what it was like and we were greatly pleased. Free Wifi, Pizza Luce delivers, there’s an underground walkway to McDonald’s – what’s not to love about that?
  • The baby growing process moved into Trimester #3.
  • We celebrated that by taking a trip to New York with Jenni, Matt and Jumi, and we did A LOT OF THINGS.
  • Went to a couple of job fairs.
  • Had an awesome baby shower thrown by Shawn and Jenni.
  • Went to a few Lynx games and got sad when they didn’t beat Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals.
  • Ash, Jenny and I participated in Habitat for Humanity in North Minneapolis and helped some folks five minutes from our house build their home. It was amazing.
  • Went to the Minnesota State Fair with my wife while my kid went to see Paramore and Fall Out Boy
  • Went camping for a night with Matt and Jenni down in Albert Lea.
  • Volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. So humbling and yet so rewarding.
  • Went to go see Book of Mormon at the Orpheum! I laughed until I hurt and I don’t even care how inappropriate that might have been.
  • I ran a 5K! Well, I ran a good chunk of it anyway and I felt really good about it. It was the HOM Teal Strides for Ovarian Cancer, in memory and honor of our friend Kristin. I want to run another one soon!
  • We started and completed our childbirth classes! And truly, I’m so glad we did it. I feel much better now.
  • We had a 32 week ultrasound for the baby and he was measuring at 37 weeks, so he’s gonna be a big one. Save your money and don’t buy newborn clothes for Chunk, okay?
  • We got amazing gifts in the mail from our friends – Chele and Marshall sent us the most adorable Pack and Play and Robin sent us an absolutely beautiful stroller that we’re excited to use.
  • Ash took the ACT and got his score back already. His score will get him into any school he’s interested in regardless of his GPA, but we’re not telling him about that last part. He was so proud of himself and that made me happier than anything.
  • Amelia and I participated in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk to raise awareness for suicide. It was heartbreaking.
  • We test drove a ton of cars and ended up buying the very first one we test drove. We’re super happy with it and it’s so nice to be a two car household now.
  • We met with a couple of doulas and decided to hire one. The idea of someone else being able to deal with the stressful things while I do everything I can to make sure my wife has as much support as she needs is worth its weight in gold.
  • Ash and I paddled 14.6 miles down the Mississippi River during the Mightyssippi Adventure. I took many ibuprofen. It was really awesome and a lot slower than I expected actually!
  • And, you know, work, school, baby prep, etc.

The last two nights, I’ve gone home and done absolutely nothing, because that’s all I’ve had the energy to do. I’m hoping when I get home tonight, I’ll be feeling a little more motivated to hang some shelves or fold some baby clothes or something. There are things that need to be done and I’m just struggling. I’m stressed up to the very top of my skull in multiple things right now and I’m kind of disappointed in the way I’ve been handling it. I don’t expect to be a pro or anything, but there’s only so much Sims Freeplay I play before I start wearing sweatpants to work.

05 Aug

27 weeks along and this baby is blinking

Our baby is the size of an eggplant. This makes our CSA box even more exciting this week, since there are two eggplants included.

The big goal for the week/weekend is get all of the crap out of his room (i.e. a mug I got when I graduated from high school, random household tools, picture frames with photos that are 3+ years old and a paper shredder to name a few) and get the curtains on the windows. After that, all we have left to do is wash laundry and organize his diapers/clothes.

I used to be all up on this research of what does my baby’s face look like, how translucent is his skin and how much baby fur does he have. But now that I can finally feel him kick, that stuff doesn’t seem as important to me. Sometimes I feel like I should be more excited about the forming of weird things, but now that I know his organs have formed and are just getting stronger, I’m very pleased. I think the rest of it will just seem cooler when I can see it once he gets here!

My wife has been pregnant for 190 days (if you go by the stupid pregnancy calendar where it says you’re pregnant even when there has been no sperm near your eggs for YEARS) and we have 90 days to go. The third trimester is just a few days away and, holy cow, with the next several weeks we have planned (a trip to New York City, seeing Book of Mormon here in Minneapolis, potential weekend trip to surprise my grandpa for his 90th birthday, baby classes, doctors appointments, a baby shower, the Lynx winning another WNBA championship, etc.), I have a feeling they’re going to fly by. And I’m glad. I’m ready to meet this guy.

Stat-wise, the internet says he’s anything between 14 and 16 inches and weighs around 2 pounds. He’s going to apparently grow an inch this week, according to this website, so I’m sure Amelia’s going to love that feeling. They already get into arguments, because he’s a fan of hard and fast kicks. I think that means he’s going to own his own dojo when he grows up.

Things he likes (or possibly hates) already: when the cat lays on Amelia’s stomach, when Amelia drinks a non-caffeinated soda (specifically orange Fanta) and the occasional latte. Spicy food is supposed to get him all riled up, too, but my wife isn’t exactly the spicy food eating type of lady.

Because I’ve been blogging since the 90s, it’s only natural that our boy has his own blog. It’s not much, but it’s where most of our baby posting has been going. Otherwise, I’d be all BABY BABY BLAH BLAH BLAH all the time up on this thing. I guess that’s not a bad thing.

Tonight, we’re taking a tour of the place we’ll be delivering him (after our current and unplanned insurance change) to get a lay of the land. I was visiting another part of the same hospital last week with my work and was pretty impressed with everything I saw. Things I require: compare home insurance companies a staff that’s not going to be supportive of our birth plan, crushed ice, free wireless and an environment where my wife feels comfortable giving birth. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

04 Aug

101 things in 1001 days update (a weak one)

I feel like I’ve been incredibly busy and I know I’ve been incredibly busy, but none of it has related to this monster list of 101 things that I hoped to accomplish… you know, the one I made back before we were married, when I had a different job and wasn’t expecting a baby in 91 days.

Here’s my ongoing list. I’m up to 32 things done out of 101.

  1. Visit the in-laws in Montana. Done. And it was very, very awesome. We had an incredible time and I’m really looking forward to going back when the baby’s here. Even the drive back through North Dakota wasn’t as terrible and awful as I was expecting. I’m still trying to finish uploading the pictures to Flickr and then I’m printing them out. I know we’re trying to declutter the house, but The Kid noticed the albums I’d printed out of my cruises and I think it’d be cool if he had a couple from the vacations we’ve taken him on.
  2. See 10 live shows. (Macklemore, The Dan Band, Indigo Girls). We’re way behind on this one, which means we need to schedule some stuff! In other words, I’m still plugging away on this one.
  3. Go through my clothes and get rid of anything I haven’t worn in a year. There sure were a lot of fancy lady business clothes in there. But here’s the deal. My last job’s HR department was constantly lecturing me about dressing professionally enough. I wear the same things here and you know what? They don’t care that I don’t wear dresses. And the HR department (which I’m part of!) doesn’t wear see-thru stripper heels like my last HR department, so we’re good here.
  4. Plant a garden. I did and it is glorious! We’ve had three gigantic cucumbers and there are tomatoes and papers that I’m just waiting to turn red. I’m definitely proud of myself with this one and I can thank the rainy July we had for making it happen.
  5. Volunteer with a new organization. Aside from volunteering for work at the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota, the Kid, Suzi, Jenny and I are all signed up to build a house with Habit for Humanity later this month. I can’t wait!