Category Archives: Clayton

Writing about February & March in honor of April.

Some highlights from life as of late.

My old man actually became an old man. C-money turned 30, and, as far as we can tell, still has the metabolism of an 11-year old. Being the doting, selfless wife that I am, I up and got sick for his actual birthday and spent four hours of that evening sleeping. He made himself a nice steak dinner, which he got to enjoy in spurts while chasing after our toddler. The lengths I will go to to get out of cooking…astonishing, really.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

We rode that celebration train into the next couple of weeks, though, and gathered a bunch of our friends for a brew hop. (That’s not a thing, you say? Not so, according to the dazzling invitations.)

 brew hop invite

We started the afternoon at Cigar City Brewing, not listening to the tour guide and perking up whenever we heard the terms “free” and “beer” in close proximity. It was lots of fun to hang with our old college pals and felt exactly the same except for how much slower we all moved, how much less beer we could consume and still function, the presence of some friends’ baby, and the undercurrent of stories of our own kids that lasted throughout the evening. So yeah, identical to 2004.

C tori wes cab

 nat C goggles

After CCB we headed to Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner. Twenty sweet friends came out, and my little hubs was pretty blown away. Not to mention, my SIL helped me surprise him with a cookie cake for dessert. Does anything say mature, responsible, professionally successful father better than a gigantic chocolate chip cookie covered in frosting? Didn’t think so.

cookie cake

We even after-partied for a bit, serenaded by a middle aged Irish tribute band with a heavyset guitarist of indeterminate gender. Rock on, Noa’s. Rock on.

 nat C gaspars

Over the course of the last six weeks, we also celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday, my brother’s birthday, my best friend’s birthday and my dad’s birthday. It’s enough, people. Stop aging, for the love.  

Everyone whined about daylight savings, meanwhile over here Addison has been sleeping past 8 a.m. nearly every morning since. Parenting win! 

Speaking of…there is an 18 month update post sloshing around in my head that maybe one day will see the light of day. Two months late, it still ain’t even close to finished. There is A LOT to talk about with this one, let me tell you. She is far, far from boring, and she keeps us all laughing hysterically and sprinting to stop her from doing a whole host of ridiculously unsafe behaviors on the reg.

Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.
Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.

I don’t really say “on the reg” in real life.

My bracket could not be more disastrous, but I feel like that’s a pretty common sentiment this year. Clayton is still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Bracket Champion at his office, so fingers crossed there.

I’ve still been running, but not really training for anything major. The several months of distance training burned me out mentally for now. I did run a 15k the weekend of Clayton’s party with my Jacksonville friend who was way too easily talked into running 9.3 miles.
Actual conversation
Me: Come a day early and run a 15k with me.
Her: Ok.

 tori nat 15k

I had some goals initially, but knowing that I hadn’t trained properly made me more realistic about what I should expect. And, shocker, I did not hit those goals. But I tried hard—and am still trying–to focus on the positives: my overall pace was a wee bit faster than my half marathon PR, and I was definitely middle of the pack in my age group, as opposed to back of the pack. Sounds silly, but that is a big improvement from when I started running seriously.

I was also so very tempted to call it a day when I realized my goal time was unattainable; I walked a few steps and that felt niiiice. But I told myself to get over it and run, there were strawberries to eat and beer to be gulped and cookie cake to be demolished. I needed to burn some mad calories heading into that weekend, so I kept on and hit my secondary goal of not being a pansy.

run addict
Taken less than 72 hours after I’d sworn off running for-ev-er.

The current plan is to do more speed work and focus on smaller distance races, mainly because come May, there is not a race over 5k to be found in Florida. We would all melt and perish trying to run more than three miles in summer. The first hard workout of this plan was this past Saturday when I had a hot date with some hill repeats. I loved it. It’s crazy and masochistic, but I love the challenge. Plus, the miles and the time go so much faster. 

We caught a Braves spring training game and were hooked up with some free Dave & Buster’s games. The rest of our group left after dinner. Our foursome (with a focus on one 30-year old in particular) hung around until stupid o’clock high on the “but it’s free! and you can shoot stuff!” endorphins.

C Brant Rambo

Those are all the big time bullet points from the last few months. I feel like my life is decently exciting until I try to write about it. Hello, snooze fest. But there you have it. Maybe that Addison post will be coming your way shortly because, let’s get real, she’s awesome and you need to know about it. 

The Claytonism, Round 2

Remember when I celebrated Clayton’s birthday with a collection of his, um, special remarks that had a way of sticking into my brain like a blow dart?

There’s more! Behold, round two of Claytonisms. This bunch is less violence-inducing and more endearing(at least to me, and I run this operation).

“Addison’s hair looks different. Did your mom put highlights in it?”

“Birds are weird. They have, like, no brain.” Pause, then a haughty, “Dumb birds.”
I don’t know what the birds ever did to him.

Me: “Leah and I were at the top of the class, so we got to go to Pizza Hut with our teacher as a reward.”
Him: “Is that the teacher you ended up dating?”
Me: “I was in fourth grade, Clayton.”
(But seriously, remind me to tell you the story of when I dated my teacher.)

While walking through the grocery store, out of the blue, he asks me, “Do you feel like your hair has been less frizzy and more manageable?”
After overcoming utter confusion and just before I backhanded him for implying my hair might look anything less than Kate Middleton perfect, I remembered the bottle of shampoo I’d bought two weeks earlier. He’d been waiting for that one a long time.  
shampoo

So that’s a little snapshot of the conversational roulette I play daily with my hubs. To his credit, he usually leaves me laughing, not crying.

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Usually.

Cinco de Noa

Clayton and I celebrated our five year anniversary this past weekend with a little jaunt over to Orlando. It was the first time we’ve ever left Addison overnight, so we decided to go big and really put our (my) willpower to the test and leave for two whole nights. Spoiler: We all made it out alive and without [too many] tears. The photo every hour rule helped tremendously.

But enough about my obsession with hanging out with my kid. Let’s talk about how gloriously indulgent two nights away felt for Clayton and me. I still can’t stop thinking about how awesome this weekend was and what a well timed reminder it became for how perfectly matched the two of us are.

When we came back Sunday, we went straight to a Mothers Day get together where my brother asked me how the trip was. “So much fun!” I answered immediately. He knew we’d only gone to Orlando, which, for Tampa natives doesn’t exactly scream vacation of a lifetime, so he looked at me skeptically and said, “Was it actually fun, or did you make it fun?”

And the best part about this weekend was the simple fact that I couldn’t tell the difference between doing actual “fun things” or just having fun being with my husband. I remembered that there’s never been a difference for us; we have fun going to Costa Rica and we have fun going to Wal-Mart.

Come to think of it, the reason for this trip’s raging success most likely stemmed from the very first stop of Cinco de Noa Weekend: the T-Rex Café. True story.
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Clayton had discovered this gem while searching for activities in Orlando that might be appropriate for a baby-less pair of adults. Dinosaur themed restaurant with indoor meteor shower every 15 minutes? Jackpot!
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If you are in Orlando, you must go. Cancel that lame dinner at Cinderella’s castle and park yourself next to the woolly mammoth. You’re welcome.

We stayed at the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort, which is a full sized city in itself. We didn’t plan to go to any theme parks—weird for being in Orlando, I know—but we were within walking distance of Downtown Disney, which had plenty of stores, restaurants and oddly dressed foreigners to keep us occupied and shelling out cash for two days.

After our prehistoric adventure, we almost considered driving back home because clearly nothing was going to top that idyllic lunch. But we stayed because Priceline does not issue refunds. After Clayton napped off his dino excitement, we headed to a late dinner at Crave. Contrary to the photographic implications, I did not shave my head prior to hitting the town.
DSCN2449Crave is supposedly known for their sushi. We can attest that the normal peasant sushi is quite good, but beyond that you’ll have to ask someone else because we refused to pay $18 for one of their fancy rolls. Their Cigar City brown ale is tasty, too.

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After dinner we checked out Orlando Brewing because we have always been suckers for breweries stuck randomly in industrial districts. After parking in Tampa, we followed the sounds of live music and college students celebrating the end of finals.
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We knew we would be overdressed, but man were we overdressed. I felt like it made us look even older. Then the sight of a newborn being rocked to sleep to the sounds of an off key garage band not three feet from her mother’s cigarette smoke filled my blood with rage, and I knew we were possibly out of our element. I almost grabbed that baby and made a break for it at least three times, but I was wearing heels.

Saturday we did nothing for about four hours for the first time in I-don’t-know-when-we’ve-ever-done-nothing-for-four-hours. And we did our nothing on lounge chairs by the pools on a gorgeous, slightly overcast day. I did take some time to kick Clayton’s competitive butt at a water treading competition, but then I went back to doing nothing. He went back to modeling. Apparently it was photo shoot day at the Hilton.

IMG_3366My model is cuter.

We realized we’d stayed out by the pool about two hours longer than we’d estimated. Then we realized we didn’t care. And then we realized we were starving. A short 90 minutes later, I was finally ready to head to a super late lunch/super early dinner. And where else would we go but another wildly decorated, over-the-top themed restaurant? Rainforest Café, complete with hooting monkeys hanging over my head. Eating at Chili’s is going to be so boring now.

IMG_3368Clayton was jazzed because he got to use a coupon. Everyone wins at the Rainforest Café. Except the hostess who asked where we were from and, when we said Tampa, replied with “Oh, so that was a pretty short flight.” We replied with awkward silence. Because it’s a 45 minute drive. IMG_3369After linner (lunch/dinner), we walked the length of the Downtown Disney strip and parked it on a bench to watch the videos my mom sent of Addison. Watch. Re-watch. Repeat. By the time we walked back, the Ghiradelli store was calling out to me. It shows a great deal of restraint that I waited 24 hours after initially seeing it to suggest we stop in. Things got rather scientific when I decided to conduct an experiment testing the feasibility of consuming an ice cream cone equal in weight to my body mass.

Clayton, with all his sports medicine experience, served as my trainer and sat next to me quietly, periodically wiping the chocolate off my chin and giving me back rubs when I started to fade. I’m happy to report that the findings are conclusive: my sweet tooth supersedes all laws of physics and physiology. My husband is so proud of me. At one point he left me in search of a bathroom but came back quickly after catching the picture of me sitting alone on a bench trying to stop the melting drips of cookies ‘n cream with my face. I guess it was sort of a sad sight. Not to me, though. It was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.
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Yep, my cone was the one hunting the weaker one.

We made reservations at one of the nicer restaurants on the strip and headed back to the hotel to get ready. Maybe your experience has or will be different, so I won’t tell you where we went for dinner, but I will tell you that we will not be going back except that late night rendezvous I’m planning to egg the joint. It was awful from beginning to end, from choosing to walk the eight miles from the hotel in heels, to getting seated right in the entrance and continuously forgetting if we had actually been called or if we were still waiting, to our nearly inedible entrees. No bueno.
IMG_3382It tasted exactly like it looks.

We decided neither of us was allowed to mention that dinner ever again. We even went back to the hotel to change out of our Sunday best into our Saturday denim and sandals to really get the stench of that hour off of our bodies. We walked back to Downtown Disney—much more pleasantly in flats—to an Irish pub that had a duo playing music outside. Best anniversary downgrade ever. It was right up our jeans and t-shirt alley. We threw caution and post-partum weight loss to the wind and ordered potato skins at midnight. That’s big time partying right there. We stayed out until after 1 a.m. Look at us being hard core.

Then we had a hard core breakfast at Perkins Sunday morning before heading to my parents’ house to body check any aunts standing in the way of our little nugget. Some serious snuggles were in order, even though Addison didn’t seem to recognize the fact that I’d been out of her life for 48 hours and that she should have been screaming in excitement upon my return. Brat. But I still chewed the crap out of her thighs.

Since Addison’s obviously okay with it, I now fully support weekend trips at least once a month. Just not to Orlando where sushi is $18 and regular coffee is $4.

Happy Cinco de Noa (and matching dino shirts) to us! DSCN2452

The Claytonism

To celebrate twenty-nine years of one truly rad guy, I though I’d pay homage to the hilarious, usually well-intentioned, sometimes downright insulting thoughts my husband shares with me. He doesn’t always run things through the ol’ mental filter, so I often get blindsided with a random comment to which there is no response but a confused stare while I allow him to reformulate his thinking and try again. After that, there is a ballet flat to the jaw.

Here are a few of my favorites.

“Hey, Karate Kid!” (In response to my foray into the precarious world of headband wearing.)

“Oooh, cool. Like Rambo.” (In response to yet another headband attempt. To Clayton, it is actually a compliment when he compares you to a movie from the 80’s. I know, I don’t get it either.)

Me: Can you please put your socks away after I wash and fold them so the dog won’t eat them?
Him: Babe, I’ll try. But I probably won’t.

“It’s okay. You’re Cuban.”

“Wow. Did you get bigger?” (Daily, upon entering the house, for the last three months of my pregnancy.)

Me: I’m going to run 4 miles.
Him: Okay. So I should expect you in a couple hours?

“So that’s why your ears stick out.” (While looking at my tee ball team photo displaying my unfortunate cover-as-much-face-as-possible hat styling choices.)

“Did you guys work out? Smells like you did.” (We didn’t.)

But for every one of those mishandled remarks, there are 100 mornings where I wake up to fresh coffee. For every accidental slight, there are 50 dinners cooked. For every comment about my weight, well, those are actually pretty costly for him.

I love this man so much, and I love celebrating his being in the world.

2005
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Spring 2006 0722009
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Clayton bday park

For My Valentine

The first time I really noticed Clayton, he was dressed as Anakin Skywalker at a Halloween party. I only knew who Anakin Skywalker was because the latest Star Wars movies were out and Hayden Christensen is dreamy. Whoever this guy was, he was Hayden’s doppelganger, messy dirty-blonde hair and laser blue eyes that tripped you up in the back of your throat.

Clayton and I fluttered around the same circle of friends for awhile as I flirted awkwardly and mildly stalked his intramural games. Our first date was more convenience than romance—we each already had tickets to the same performance for a theater class we were taking. Looking back, I’m certain this was Clayton’s frugal way of going on a first date on the cheap. The first part of the night was supremely uncomfortable. I had worn my go-to corduroys, but they seemed to have lost their magic. Turns out, corduroy lost its magic altogether around 1979.

I missed half of the performance looking sideways at my sweaty hand resting in a come-hither lilt across my leg, just waiting for Clayton to sneak over and soak up that sweat in a rom com-worthy maneuver that would result in The Hand Hold Heard ‘Round the World. Well, my hand stayed put for three hours. And so did his.

v day collage1

After the show, my roommate called to ask if we could pick up some ice cream on the way back. That call probably changed the course of Hayden’s perception of me. I like to think he fell for me somewhere between the Ben & Jerry’s and frozen pizza. All I know for sure is that we dropped off the ice cream at my dorm room and made our way to Landis Green. We stayed put for six hours.

I got even more awkward for the several months after that, refusing to speak when we were together and communicating Nell-style when he’d ask what I wanted for dinner or what movie we should rent. I have no idea why he stayed put for those mute six weeks or kept inviting me over. Maybe because I’d respectfully laid the corduroy to rest.

v day collage2

I finally got my crap together and began to dazzle him with jokes he couldn’t understand because I mumble when I’m nervous. In July, I showed up to my apartment with a bouquet of flowers waiting for me and a note asking me if I would be Clayton’s girlfriend, with a box for yes and a box for no. The Princess Amidala to his Anakin Skywalker…is a clever comment I would have said if I could have formed intelligible thought. I couldn’t. Instead, I found the brightest, most obnoxiously yellow t-shirt I had and drew a giant box with a giant check in it next to a giant “YES.”

An hour after we’d been hanging out at his apartment he finally noticed the shirt.

Kidding. It only took about twenty minutes.

v day collage3

But since that day, we’ve stayed put for almost ten years. Through long distance dating, through PA school, through a wedding, through other questionable fashion choices, through more outlandish Halloween costumes, through the cutting of the long blonde hair, through ten Dolphins and FSU football seasons, through the sarcasm, through moving away from everything we know, through moving back again, through raising and then parting with our first fur child, through incessant pregnancy and non-pregnancy-motivated requests for frozen yogurt, and then through

the explosion of madness that is parenthood.

And sure, there have been angry runs. And angry shopping trips. And angry road trips to nowhere. Little breathers that give us space to process why I am right and he is wrong before we come back together and discuss how right I am and how wrong he is. But in the soil of this life, I am so reassured to know that there are four heels dug deep into the earth. Two pairs of hands that grip this family with relentless commitment to keeping it sewn together.

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He still makes me laugh out of my gut without trying. He still melts the stubborn out of my shoulders with one of his smothering hugs. He still walks between me and the road to keep me safe. He still gets my sarcasm without thinking I’m a horrible person. He still wants to hear about everything I did during the day, no matter how many descriptions of baby bowel movements that includes. 

We aren’t going anywhere. My heart has found its counterpart, the piece that completes its shape and gives the familiar, dependable rhythm to the chaos of the everyday. Of that I am confident. Of him I am sure.

I love you, Dollface. And I am so comforted to get to stay put with you for always.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

v day collage5

P.S. Blogs count as Valentine’s gifts, right?

Dear Addison: Six Months

Dear Addison,
Happy Half Birthday! Yesterday you turned six months old! I know, I don’t believe it either, but those newborn pajamas sure aren’t fitting up over that belly, so I guess it has to be true.

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If last month was The Month of the Grunt, this month is The Month of the Squeal. You have found a new high-pitched register in your voice and people or things that are worthy enough are met with the squeakiest shrieks of enjoyment. It’s a fail-proof way to elicit some serious smiles.

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I’m afraid I jinxed us by bragging all over town about your mystical deep sleeping habits. I miss those 9-hour nights. The wicked combination of teething, getting arms and legs stuck in crib slats, and discovering the concept of separation has reintroduced us to middle-of-the-night wake ups. Sometimes a couple. Sometimes every hour. No more laying you down and retrieving you the next morning bright-eyed and eager. Back is the creeping backwards out of your room, waiting outside the door holding our breath, and wincing at the monitor at 3:30 a.m.

But it’s ok. I wrote about it in those first months, and it’s just as true these days: when I lean over your crib in the morning and our eyes meet, and your whole face lights up with recognition, there is just nothing that can diminish that moment. Not sleep deprivation, not the previous day’s meltdowns, not even the puddle of runny poop that is beginning to seep through your sheets.

Some may call it chemical, but I plead divine.

6 months bed instagram

Speaking of those teeth, you’re sporting TWO BOTTOM TEETH! Woop woop, girlfriend. And it only took you a month and half to push out those itty bitty chompers. Seriously, can we not come up with a more efficient way to get this done? It’s 2013, people.

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This month you’ve experimented with some rice cereal and bananas. I don’t know that you actually absorbed the calories from these foods as would be required for actual “eating,” unless those calories can be taken up through your chin, your cheeks, your fingers and your bib. Because that’s where all the food ended up. I am so excited to dive into this real food thing; it will hopefully eliminate the ticking time clock I hear every time we are out and about ominously counting down until “Feeding Time.” Instead of retreating to the car or a bedroom, I can just shove some mushy fruit in front of you. Win!

A banana

I’m not trying to be dramatic here, so I’ll preface this by saying everything is absolutely, 100% A-OK. Nothing to worry about at all, except for some musculoskeletal issues that I’ve self-diagnosed as “Toting Chunky Baby Syndrome.” TCBS in medical circles. But there was a two-week span where I was worried, with scary-sounding “just in case” tests that planted seeds of anxiety and far off scenarios felt like they were closing in. “What if?” games (not the fun kind of game) ran through my mind, and I thought about a future that I wasn’t there to be a part of.

And in those cloudy days, I watched your Daddy close. I watched him come home and mechanically perform the same ritual—bag down, wash hands, tie off, grab baby. I watched him roll over and stumble out of bed at 5 a.m. to soothe your cries. I watched him bounce you on his lap in an unashamed effort to coax out a smile. I watched him make ridiculous faces and talk to you in sing-song lyrics because that’s what you like most. And I knew, no matter what the doctor would tell us, you were going to be just fine. Your Daddy loves you with a love that strangers witness and wish they had, with a love that reminds people why you need more than just a Mama, a love that would compensate for the unthinkable. He loves you that much and more, baby girl. What peace that brings me. What comfort and rest I have knowing that I am not alone in this battle to keep you safe and warm and smiling. He fought for me for years, and now he fights for you, Addison.

A & C

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Some other lessons I’ve picked up this month are perhaps less philosophical but equally important to note.

Skinny jeans don’t work for every body type. Namely, your body type.

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Some days you can fly right down that to-do list making neat little check marks of productivity. Other days, all you get is the satisfaction of opening a child-proof pill bottle with one hand.

6 months collage

And every now and then, getting louder does in fact get you exactly what you want.

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Thank you for teaching me so much already, sweet girl. I hope I can shape your life in half the way you have redefined mine.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

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6 months swing collage

Love Language: Carbs

I just love a good “you won’t believe how disgustingly sick I was” story. There was commiserating aplenty on Facebook after my last post. It makes me feel like I’m in fabulous company and less of a horrible sarcastic mother-to-be.

Since I’ve been feeling pretty good lately and we’re still shacking up with my ‘rents, we decided on a fancy night out for Valentine’s Day. I don’t think it’s a fake holiday and I am an unashamed advocate for getting gifts for any reason under the sun. So tearing through tissue paper on a random Tuesday night in the middle of a parking lot was just fine with me.

For our “no gift” Valentine’s, Clayton understood that chocolate no longer falls under the “gift” category and has instead taken up residence in the “necessity” category. Good boy. Apparently, a bickering Edward and Jacob and vampire/human honeymoon appear in the same category because I also came home with Breaking Dawn: Part 1.

I got a little crafty and stole this idea from Peanut Butter Fingers. I tailored it a bit for our pending situation and embroidered what Clayton affectionately called “a snowman baby.”

vday gift1 vday gift me you

 vday gift i do

vday gift we grew

Yes, the “I do” and “we grew” portions are basically the exact same section of the map, but I did not have this gift in mind when we planned our marriage or decided to procreate. Also, I hope you never need to buy an old school map because they do not exist anymore. I went to five different stores looking for those bad boys and wound up being ogled as I waited in line at a truck stop off the interstate a few exits past my safety zone. Lesson learned. Store bought presents from here on out.

Dinner was a-mah-zing (one of my fave Pennyisms). We ate at Bon Appétit, where we had our wedding reception almost four years ago. Clayton may or may not have said it was five years ago to get seated sooner. And what do you know? Everyone was right – they have delicious food. I wasn’t sure because my nerves were still so wacked out during my reception I couldn’t eat. Definitely did not have that problem on V Day.

clay nat vday4

Yep, my bottom four shirt buttons are open on purpose. Ain’t no shame.

A (Pre) Baby Story: Is she or isn’t she?

10.2011

The truth is, I may have taken 5 pregnancy tests in the last month. I really thought I was more patient than this. Um. I’m not. Any stray nausea or cramps, and I was convinced the bean had started sprouting.

After an embarrassing number of used tests showed up in the trash can, and after five too many indignant looks from my husband, I swore I was going to wait until there was a legitimate reason to take another test.

But then I woke up today and had a feelin’. You know, just a sneaking suspicion. And that last remaining linear prego predictor beckoned me from its already-opened box: “Pee on me, Natalie! You know you have to pee anyway, what’s it going to hurt?”

Nothing, I figured. So I did. I peed on another stupid stick. And four minutes later, that singular, heavy, solid pink line was glaring back at me, just like every other time. But next to it, if I tilted my head just so and finagled the stick into the perfect lighting, a whisper of a hint of a shadow of another pink line became visible.

Am I making this up? Am I certifiable? My fake baby is being born to a crazy lady!

So, I stopped breathing, obvi. Then regained consciousness. And then I hen-pecked something onto a Word document to finish whatever writing project was on the screen (not my best work, clearly), walked around my apartment in hazy circles putting Bryson up and getting the essentials, forgot what I was looking for about seven times, and finally made it out the door. There’s a chance it was left wide open. I can’t even tell you at this point.

I made it to CVS in search of a confirmation pregnancy test and realized I wasn’t wearing my wedding rings. This strangely made me sad, like I was taking Clayton out of this experience, and like I needed to come up with a great line to tell the cashier that would unmistakably indicate my marital status.

“Boy, is my HUSBAND going to freak!”

“Want to join the due date pool my HUSBAND started?”

“My HUSBAND is going to need a new drinking partner. What are you doing later?”

I also could not bring myself to purchase only pregnancy tests. So I wandered around the cards section, picked up two thank you cards that I would later force Clayton to send to potential employers as a nice suck up gesture, casually swiped a digital pee test and got out of there without a word uttered. Though I did get lost in pretending to read the “People” magazine while my mind darted in and out of the next 18 years of our lives, and the cashier had to verbally snap her fingers in front of my face a few times.

On the way out, the world’s slowest senior citizen was trying to navigate the curb directly in the path to my car. I hesitated for half a thousandth of a second and took my spry, lithe limbs up on the median and dodged her like a champ. I then narrowly missed her as I floored it out of the parking lot. What? Knowing if there is or is not a mildly-formed alien in your uterus justifies potential manslaughter. I read it. In a book.

I rush home, barely able to contain my heartbeat, palm sweat or anticipatory urine stream.

I tear open the box, thank God there are big, hand-drawn instructions to accompany all that fine print I will read later, and get on with it.

Then I wait. The world rotates six times around the sun, and then it’s time to check.

As clear as my well-hydrated urine, the results seem to mock me:

Not Pregnant

Okay, what the hell, pee sticks? I’m done trusting you with this life-altering moment. So I made an appointment with the highly respected Dr. Google Search. And man, do women (*neon arrow pointing at my head*) go cuh-razy over those tiny little foil-wrapped sticks. Forum after forum and paragraph of TMI after paragraph of TMI later, I discovered those little buggers can be all kinds of screwy.

You can be pregnant and they say you’re not. You can be not pregnant and they say you are with phantom ghost lines. Lines can pop up and redefine your life, change their mind, and run away. You can see ampersands and a treble clef, but no plus sign.

What is the deal?!

At this point, I still don’t know my deal. The more I realize how BIG of a deal this afternoon could have been, the less I am obsessed with knowing for sure. Maybe that sounds like the opposite of what I should feel, but it’s all I have to keep me slightly calmer and a little less likely to enforce a Why-Weren’t-You-Here-For-All-This-Crazy? strangle hold on my husband when he comes home.  

And maybe I’ll save the peeing on yet another stick for tomorrow or the day after.

Cut it out

Tonight I had to explain to my husband who Dave Coulier was. And that he dated Alanis Morissette. And that she wrote her angry chick rock because he stomped all over her heart while doing Bullwinkle impersonations.

And then I convinced my husband, with a beautifully melodious rendering, that the lyrics to “You Oughta Know” were:

“You, you, you oughta kno-ow, Uncle Jo-oe.”

And then we did the “cut it out” hand motions for a good five minutes.

And now you’ve been to date night with the Noa’s. You’re welcome.

Three’s Company

It was sayonara to the southernmost non-Southern state yesterday, and I returned to Virginia last night.

How else would we commemorate something?

Sunday night, we celebrated/mourned addict-style and introduced my curious mother and father to the world of pay-by-weight frozen yogurt shops. I was slightly disappointed with my $5.89 performance and realized I really thrive on the competition element involved when Clayton accompanies me. If my bucket of yogurt does not cost at least 40% more than his, I’ve utterly failed. Without the comparison, the motivation for topping delirium just wasn’t there.

But I still gave it a pretty good whirl. And, after a little pep talk, the folks got the hang of it. I wondered aloud what the heck my mom was waiting for with the Land O’ Chocolate laid out before her and she looked at me sheepishly and responded, “I’m trying to be healthy.” Ha, I say to that. And then I remember something like physically placing my mom’s hand on the spoon stuck in the Snickers bowl. I genuinely believe opting for fro-yo over ice cream builds up a credit of 1500 healthy points to begin with. Then it’s a virtual free-for-all just to break even. You seem confused. Maybe I’ll explain it all in a pamphlet or something.

The drive. Oh, the drive.

Sucks. That’s what that drive does. Thankfully, when I have clear skies I can stay on the “happy-to-be-scootin’ along” side of the spectrum, which is far, far away from the “OMG-I’m-just-going-to-pull-over-at-this-truck-stop-and-see-if-they’ll-give-me-a-room-for-the-night-and-how-much-they-charge-for-dogs” end of the spectrum. Trust me, those showers are not for the faint of heart.

The only notable incident involved a chicken sandwich and honey mustard situation. Good thing I decided to sit alone in Zaxby’s and eat lunch safely stationary and within arm’s reach of an endless supply of napkins. Or, I was driving with my pinky nail at 70 mph trying to dislodge dripping honey mustard from in between my wedding band and engagement ring. Yeah, it was definitely one of those two scenarios. Still, it didn’t impress the passengers very much.

bryson car sleep

“We’re back. In Newport News. Again.”

“At least we’re out of the car.”

If you can name where I borrowed the major themes of that quote, we should be BFFsies if we’re not already.

You should also know that my husband is more thoughtful than yours and he crafted a welcome home sign for me out of expertly selected printer paper, ink pens and highlighters. There were also flowers, in addition to a feast for dinner and brownies for dessert. So, for serious, your husband probably needs to take a class or something.

P8222135It was extremely helpful in reminding me that we are here. In this moment, we exist in this space, in this city. We can dream and plan and connive and search, but today we live here. I don’t have to call it home, but I must submit to feeling at home with my husband, wherever that might be. The future waits, but I have to see what is in front of me today. And if I’m honest with myself, I’ve got a pretty sweet view.

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