Here I am with Tamora Pierce, way cool woman and author. She was a speaker at a sci-fi fantasy convention in Baltimore, and made time to have lunch with little old me. There is a history as to why, going back to the last convention I attended and issues with my niece...but I won't go into that again. Suffice it to say that the lunch went really well and that not only have I met one of my heros, I had private one-on-one time with one of my heros. So cool.

She did mention her personal experience with the division of the country. She has been touring the past 6 months and has had some very negative experiences in our nation's heartland. Specifically dealing with sexuality and religion. Apparently even if you wrote a book series 20 freaking years ago you can get attacked. These anti-Harry Potter folks are taking on everyone. I actually told her not to get disheartened, that we need strong opinionated women not part of the Christian Conservative Right Wing Fringe to stand up and be heard. What is going on in this country when a woman writing about a pre-Christian era is attacked about Christian issues?

She did say that she wanted a ferret. I just love how people change their whole demeanor when pets enter the conversation. Animal people are the best people. She has parakeets and cats, but wants to expand her flock with a ferret. I offered advice on ferret ownership for what it was worth. I also shared Connor's story and we talked about different kinds of courage.

I gave her the certificate I made certifying her as Alanna's fairy godmother and she was really touched. She has never been a fairy godmother before, and got a tad emotional about it before she put the certificate in her bag. That made me feel so good. Now she is excited about the birth of my daughter and is looking forward to seeing pictures of her in the future.

Folks, if you have never read a Tamora Pierce book, please do so. I recommend this series to start with. This woman rocks! She changed my life and has effected me in many cool ways, not the least of which is naming my daughter after the main character in her first series.
Mr. Connor is now officially a 2 year-old!

Jason and I woke him in his crib by singing happy birthday to him (the first of 6 times today). He loves it when we sing to him. We even tried to teach him to say "ME" and point to himself throughout the song. Yea, we're warped. To top it off I told him all about my labor "two years ago today" while Daddy made us pancakes.

Speaking of Daddy, Jason pulled a 24-hour call shift at the hospital, then came home and helped me all day till the party at 3:00. Man he is wonderful! He cooks, he cleans, he rarely sleeps. I love him!

We had a small gathering of family over to celebrate and Connor loved all of the cousin attention. He didn't know where to look or what to tackle next. Cousins, presents, CAKE, Nemo. It was all just too much for him, but he loved it. Over stimulation, oh yea. For the big present we took everyone outside and showed Connor his new Power Wheels Fire Rescue Jeep. He was intimidated and wanted to get out to play with his cousins. His year and a half old cousin Henry tried to drive the jeep while standing beside it, got it on video tape for the home movie competitions. Hee hee.

It was a very nice day, and all of the relatives had fun.

Tomorrow morning I get to have lunch with my favorite author, Tamora Pierce. Cool, cool, cool. I made her a certificate that states she is Alanna's Official Fairy Godmother. I hope she likes it.

Tuesday is our wedding anniversary. Sheesh. We have a busy time here. Two birthday parties, lunch with one of my heros, then an anniversary. Next weekend is our baby shower. In two weeks we go to Philly so Jason can take his third set of boards. Oh and I am having a baby within the next two months. Ahh!

I'm dizzy. Must go to bed to prepare for it all!
I refuse to be a baking nazi like my Mom. She'd bake cookies and cakes and let my sister and I have 1, if we were lucky, then all the rest would go to guests or for lunches later on. She was evil. She would keep containers of things I could not eat in plain sight. Later on she hid the containers, leading to hilarity like the time she hid oatmeal cookies in the dryer. My sister would then find the baked goods and tell me about it when they were almost gone so I would get caught. I mean, we had to make cake batter just to eat as pudding because my mom hid the snacks from us. My eye twitches when I think about it. Therefore, I resolved to always bake extra for my family to eat right away. I WILL break the cycle of baking violence!

Connor is a certified cake monster. C. A. K. E. is spelled not spoken in our house for fear of stirring the beast into a frenzy. He has knocked other kids down at playgroup to get to cake. He had his first tast of cake batter today...what a baton to hand down to my child...licking the beaters.

But the beaters were not enough. He screamed for more so I gave him a little mug with some batter in it.

He um, enjoyed that.

So here is my attempt at baking Nemo cupcakes for his kiddie birthday party tomorrow. Jason says they are "Picasso" fish, seeming like fish only to the artist. What does he know?

You see a fish right?

I am just so danged pregnant and tired today, can you tell? Should I be cleaning the living room in preparation for the party? Yes. Am I procrastinating by posting a picture diary of my cupcake making adventures? Yes. So sue me.
I am answering the challenge from my friend :

Total volume of music files on your computer: approx 300 files

The last cd I bought: I think it was The Cure, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me because I wanted it on cd now that the tape is ruined

Song playing right now: None, but I was just listening to the Swing music channel on Sirus satellite radio downstairs

Five songs I listen to a lot or mean a lot to me:
I Remember You, Nat King Cole - Our wedding song
20 Froggies - Song my Dad sang to me and I now sing to Connor
Kiss Me Son of God, They Might Be Giants - Obscure song that only cool people like
Blister In The Sun, Violent Femmes - Anthem of the Alternative Generation
Punk Rock Girl, Dead Milkmen - Just cause, they wrote it about me!

Five people to whom I pass this baton:
Julee, Amber, Cassandra, and anyone else who read my danged blog!

P.S. More Disney pictures coming, hold your horses.

We are back. Connor had a great time and seemed to blossom with his speech from one end of the trip to the other. He learned new words and phrases: "where are you" "I don't know", "shit", "cantaloupe", "nipple", "brains"...and many more. He let us know that certain words should no longer be used around him, danged little parrot.

Connor met a bagillion characters, and seemed to like them well enough. The only one he got shy around was Darth Vader...can you believe it? At the opening of the Stars Wars Weekends at MGM Connor ran up to him, then changed his mind and ran to Daddy. Daddy brought him back up to get the picture, it was very cute. Speaking of cute, the marketing people at Disney MGM thought Connor was so cute in his Darth Vader costume that they took his picture to possibly be used in publicity photos. Now that is really saying something.

For the first 7 months of Connor's life people looked at him with pity, now at 23 months he looks normal enough that Disney publicity people can't even notice that he was a cleft baby. Wow. Dr. Stelnicki I bow before you.

Jason wheeled me around in a wheelchair through all of the parks so I got the royal treatment. The perks were that I didn't get tired or sick, and we got this great "Guest Assistance" pass that allowed us to go right to the Fast Pass line or even quicker on some rides. This worked for everyone in our party, so the other family with us got to move to the head of the line too. That was cool. Of course having your husband wheel you through stores at Disney leaves a lot to be desired...he bypassed everything at light speed. Even then we still managed to bring home a ton of stuff. I am so thankful Jason DID wheel me around though, I could not have waddled my way around nearly as far and kept a happy attitude, I am just way too big and round for that.

Speaking of big and round, I got my picture with The Little Mermaid...with her hand on my belly. AWW! Princess to princess! Very cute.

Epcot turned out to be our favorite park because it was an easy pace after the hectic rush of the Magic Kingdom. There is just something magical about and easy pace and tropical breezes to relax you. Also, the huge yard-long beer in Jason's hand calmed him down :) The Living Seas at Epcot had rescued manatees, fisheys and an interactive talk with Crush from Finding Nemo which rocked! Connor had the best time there living the movie.

With four sun-drained, cranky adults and 3 (and a half) kiddos traveling from DC to Orlando and back, we did pretty well. We all still like each other, and have great memories. But boy are we glad to be home!

And that my friends is the sign of a vacation well done, you are happy to resume your life once more!
So long and thanks for all the fish! We are Disney bound. See ya'll in a week!
We named our child Connor, which means "lover of dogs". Such a wise choice.

I had to drop off my two dogs at the luxury dog kennel this morning. Normally I would have time to hug and kiss them and tell them goodbye, but my toddler beat me to it. The lady came to take their leashes and guide them to the back and Connor flipped out: kicking, screaming and flailing. "Hailey...Sasha!" He yelled and cried for a long time, making it nearly impossible for me to sign the papers. I had to calm him down and tell him that they were going on a vacation.

He was still upset hours later when I put him down for a nap, and made me sing our "nap song" about Hailey and Sasha. He misses his puppies.

I hate being in my house for 10 minutes without my big fur-babies, let alone a whole night before our big trip. Lettuce drops on the floor and no one eats it. No black nose is there to sniff at Connor while he eats, no pink tongue licks his dirty hands while it thinks I'm not looking. No guardians watch over my child as he plays in the backyard. No one looks at me adoringly as I run errands around the house.

People ask if having all of my pets is hard, but they are such a part of my family that I can't function well without them.
One of the seldom talked about joys of pregnancy is rapid and seemingly uncontrollable hair growth. My hair is quite thin, so I enjoy the new lustrous weight of my shiny locks. The part I don't like is that the crazy follicular growth is not exclusive to my head. You know what I mean. Crazy out-of-control pubes.

It is bad enough trying to trim them with a pair of scissors so that they no longer rip out when I sit down to use the toilet, but having to actually enforce a "bikini" line is too much for one person to handle. I have not seen that area in a long time! How can I shave it?

I put "trim wife" on my husband's vacation check list. Dr. Jason came to the rescue. He sat next to the tub and worked on me for a long time. Not that I am a gorilla, much the opposite. He is just a perfectionist. He actually asked me if I wanted a shape like a star or something. I said to do whatever he wanted, that area was only for his viewing pleasure until my belly returned to normal.

He did a good job, and now I can safely wear my bathing suit.

Now he has to do my toenails.

Isn't pregnancy great?
Connor loves Darth Vader, this is common knowledge. What is not commonly known is his ability to identify "Peeeee Pawwww" in every day life.

Today Jason and I had to return something at the main store on-base. While I handled the transaction, Jason took care of Connor. He turns to me laughing and I ask him "what is so funny?" He points to the black burqa wearing muslim lady who had been in line in front of us and said "Connor was looking at her and making Darth Vader noises".

Toddler are SO not politically correct. He saw the lady dressed from head-to-toe in this black covering and thought she looked enough like "Peee Paaww" to make the Darth Vader breathing sounds. I started laughing and told the lady behind the register. What else can I do? Explain to him about different cultures while he looks at me not understanding a word?

I'll just keep him away from any mosques so we don't start a riot.
I got the coolest Mother's Day present: the number one spot in my son's eyes. See, usually Daddy is the funniest, most interesting play toy in the world, but on Mother's Day Connor actually thought I was the funny, cool one.

It all started with lunch, I was encouraging him to eat and made a funny swallowing sound *gunk* is kind of what it sounds like. Connor went into peals of laughter, imitating me and shrieking for about 10 minutes. It made "clean up" time, diaper change and nap preparation a breeze. He was still laughing when I closed the door and said "sweet dreams".

Connor continued to think that this was the funniest noise on the planet throughout the day...and it was not as funny when Daddy did it. Cool. Score one for Mommy.

The highlight of the day though was when Jason and I went to check on Connor before we went to bed. Connor woke up, reached for me and said *gunk* over and over again. He saw me through his sleepy eyes and in a micro-second wanted to share our funny joke. He didn't even acknowledge Daddy. In Connor's eyes, Mommy was funny.

It just doesn't get any better than that.
Yes, I live near D.C. but I am very afraid of it. I stay in my own heavily guarded private community (known as an Air Force Base). Here is a reason why:

If you consider that there have been an average of 160,000 American troops in Iraq the past 22 months, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000. The rate in DC is 80.6 per 100,000.
That means that you are more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation's Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.

Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington, D.C.
I was sent thi via e-mail from a mom I know. It is so true. Enjoy your own Mother's Day! You have earned it!

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family."

"We're taking a survey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?" "It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral. "I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "what if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse that watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "MOM!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather then the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children issues of independence and gender identity will be weighted against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However, decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother. Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, and not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women through out history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts. My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into His most wonderful of callings.

Please share this with a Mom that you know or all of your girlfriends who may someday be Moms. May you always have in your arms the one who is in your heart.
Connor had an appointment with a hand specialist at Walter Reed Army Hospital today. Much more fun than driving in Washington DC gridlock beltway traffic, following directions to the wrong Walter Reed Center and finding parking was juggling medical professionals and an almost 2 year-old.

The doctor was not sure about a course of treatment because of his age. 2 year-olds don't tolerate much of anything you know. Surgery will be exploratory at about age 4, which will put us out of the state and onto more hand specialists. The guys really wanted to try hand splints though. *laugh snort* yea right. Actually we tried that when he was a much less mobile little baby with no luck. Like you can even keep a splint on his hands for more than 30 seconds.

The sad thing was hanging out in the Occupational Therapy department while various specialists tried to figure out what to do with Connor. We were at Walter Reed, synonymous in my mind with war-torn Iraq amputees. I had seen them form a distance last trip to Walter Reed, but now I was up close and personal with them. They break my heart. They are all like 19-23 looking and are missing legs, arms and hands. This one guy looked just like a young "Carter" from the TV show ER. He was so cute, and so sad. Connor was running all over the room like a wild animal and kept running into him. I think that managed to elicit a few smiles from him at least, kind of like Connor was a therapy child in there to entertain the troops.

One disturbing image that I can't get out of my mind was the military ID badge this one guy had. I saw it briefly (he left it out on a table) as I was chasing Connor. The picture of him showed him knocked out with a breathing tube down his throat, as if he was in such bad shape for so long, that he could not be roused long enough to get his ID badge picture taken.

President Bush go visit these men, see the new generation of war vets you have created. The new generation of men and women whose lives are shaken beyond recognition. I hope they will be treated better than Vietnam vets, I hope none of them will be out on a street corner with a cup and a sign in the years to come.

My heart aches for these guys. I will try to perk them up in my subsequent trips to the OT clinic that's for sure.