"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Des Moines Register

>> Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Read Laura Pieper's article in the Des Moines Register on the race.


A Scare This Morning

Since my OB appointment should have just been a 10 minute- in and out- how are you feeling appointment I told Doug to just go in to work and I would call him after it was over.

Ahhh... the best laid plans...

Brenna and I arrived a few minutes early and were shown in to a room quickly. The Dr came in as Brenna was taking off her shoes and trying on mine. After looking over my BP, urine and weight- and saying everything looked good- it was time to check baby's heartbeat.

Out came the gel- he handed the bottle to Brenna, she loves "rubs" (very brave if you ask me)- and proceeded to listen to my belly. He moved the heartbeat monitor to the left... To the right... Up... Down...

No heartbeat. He said that he could "hear something moving in there" but no steady heartbeat. It worried him enough that he ordered an ultrasound.

I send Doug a text message. It worried him. I told him not to worry as baby spent much of the night kicking me. Yep, Brenna kicking my back and baby kicking in the front. I know what you're thinking... restful.

After sitting and waiting for 30 or 40 minutes I texted Doug again and asked him to come to the Dr's office because Brenna was getting restless. Of course, timimg working out the way it does, I was called in before Doug got there and came out just as he arrived.

All is well. Baby must have been hididng from the Dr. The ultrasound showed a strong heartbeat and an active baby.

Of course, after all was OK I felt sick to my stomach.


Pardon My Absence

The last three days have been very busy here at Casa Geek. Sunday was spent cleaning in preparation for the Open House we had last night. And, since people were here to help, we had a fun little gathering that night with charred critters on the barbie (burgers and brats) and alcoholic beverages (for everyone but yours truly).

After all the work and sun the day before we all slept in until 9:30 Monday morning. Yes, even Brenna! We were planning on her waking us so we could get to some Memorial Day observations but she was tuckered out from all the fun in her new pool with her cousins the night before! So we did what any family would do in our situation- we packed a picnic and went to the zoo! It was quite hot but Brenna didn't seem to mind one bit! And it was nice for Doug to be able to join us. Brenna loved dragging Daddy up and down the stairs by the sea lions!

And yesterday was the Open House. I was on the go from 8:30 am... Things to buy, things to make, babysitters to pick up, Brenna to care for... And a commercial to appear in.

Yep, a commercial. Well, Doug did most of it, but there are some family shots. And LOTS of Miss Brenna waving and blowing kisses to the camera. We are told that it will begin airing online in August. We'll keep you posted on that.

The Open House went as well as we could expect for the day after the official start of vacation seaseon and competing against lots of kids activities. I, of course, made too much food so Doug will be the most popular guy at work today.

And now I must go and wake my sleeping beauties. Brenna had an awful terror last night- I found her crouched on her feet in bed clutching her blanket- and I was so tired that I finally brought her down to sleep with us. But wake them I must for Doug should go to work and I have an OB appointment in less than 2 hours.


Our Hero

>> Saturday, May 27, 2006

We joke alot about Toby being a big baby. We say that if someone broke in he would lead them past the paintings that look nice to the ones that are actually worth something. We joke that he would bring someone right down to the office an show them where all the computer stuff is. We say that, for the cost of a steak, Toby would help them carry things out of the house.

So when Toby was losing his mind barking this morning I chalked it up to a dog approximately half a block away walking it's owner. But no.... Toby was protecting the house from a predator trying to sneak up from the back...

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A big ol' snapping turtle. And he wasn't a bit afraid of the dog. I have no doubt that if we hadn't gone outside to show him to Brenna that he would have come right up on the patio and knocked on the door. "Candygram."

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I wish you could see the talons he was sporting. At least 2 inches long. And "spikes" on feet and tail. And his sharp beak. We didn't get too close because, contrary to popular belief, this guy was pretty quick.

I'm not sure if you can really tell how much of a climb he had from the creek in the back yard. We have quite a hill, Brenna only recently has been able to climb it. It can't have been easy for this guy.

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And then, minutes after we came in, he was gone. I could see a faint path back down to the creek where his shell-belly had flattened the grass.


The Name Game

Why does it seem to me that picking a boy's name would be easier? I began the search for Brenna's name before we knew she was a girl and at that time boy's names were just easier for me. This time I didn't even begin looking at names until we found out the sex. Another little girl- which delights me. My sister is a bit dismayed as she was hoping I would have a boy- probably because I do give her grief about her two little terrors. (I jest. They are boys in every way, full of spunk and spirit, and I hope they are never made to change.)

But back to the names. As anyone who knows me (or has read this blog for a period of time) knows I am fascinated by practically anything Irish or Celtic. Hence Brenna (raven or black haired) Clare (after the county).

So, what have we come up with so far?
Aoife- prounounced ee+fa- meaning beautiful, radiant, joyful
Eibhleanne- prounounced ave+linn- pleasant, beautiful
Ryanne- pronounced rye+an- little king
Grainne- pronounced grawn+ya- patron of the harvest, in some places I have seen it listed as a Celtic form of Grace
Shannon- after the river- I like this for a middle name

So, that's what we have so far. I can almost see some of you cringing.


>> Friday, May 26, 2006

Tom has a great article about Iraq War, Phase IV. The War in Iraq has followed the timing of almost every other war teh US has been involved in...


New Baby Pictures!

>> Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Today was "the" ultrasound. Baby wasn't very cooperative. Although we did get quite a few pictures that look like this:

New Baby sucking her thumb - click to enlarge
Baby likes to suck on those fingers. We watched those little hands and arms move in and out of the mouth, first one hand and then the other.

Everything looks good, strong heartbeat, everything where it is supposed to be; heart, kidneys, lungs all maturing nicely. :)

But, like I said, baby wasn't very cooperative. The technician kept looking and looking but baby was having none of it. Then, finally, cooperation.

Baby Girl!  Click to enlarge
It's a girl! As you can see, there is nothing boy-like there.

Now to begin name selection!


Barking dogs make horrible neighbors

>> Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I can't stand my neighbors' barking dogs. It irritates me beyond belief to hear their dogs barking from the moment they step outdoors until they are brought inside; which is never soon enough. Apparently, once the dogs are outdoors the neighbors become deaf.

Tonight, my neighbor told me the anti-barking device I purchased was annoying, and my kids bother her at least as much as her dogs bother me. I thought my husband was going to go over the fence. She actually compared kids to dogs. If she doesn't like noise from children, she moved to the WRONG neighborhood.

I hope they decide to move on. They are renting, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.


So... Who "Gets" It?

>> Monday, May 22, 2006

I guess that I don't. I guess I am not enlightened enough to "get" disrespecting the President, no matter how much you disagree with him. (And I must admit that I have been disagreeing with him lately) But I don't "get" Natalie Maines, either.

NEW YORK -- The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines apologized for disrespecting President Bush during a London concert in 2003. But now, she's taking it back. "I don't feel that way anymore," she told Time magazine for its issue hitting newsstands Monday. "I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever."

As war in Iraq loomed, Maines told the London audience: "Just so you know, we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

The remarks led to death threats and a backlash from other country stars, including a high-profile spat with Toby Keith. It also stalled what until then had been the group's smashingly successful career.

Bandmate Emily Robinson said she knew right away the remark wouldn't be taken lightly and got "hot from my head to my toes."

"It wasn't that I didn't agree with her 100 percent; it was just, 'Oh, this is going to stir something up,'" she told Time.

For band member Martie Maguire, the controversy was a blessing in disguise.

"I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," Maguire said. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."

The Chicks' hits include "Landslide," "Goodbye Earl" and "Wide Open Spaces." Their new album, "Taking the Long Way," is due out May 23. The first single is "Not Ready to Make Nice."

Now I thought that, as a recoriding artist, you wanted people- any people- to buy your music and put it in rotation. I guess I was wrong.

Here's hoping there are no "really cool" DJs out there who "get it" and the Dixie Chicks have their desired "small following". Maybe so small that their label drops them for (mistakenly) believing that people want to hear their politics and not their music.



>> Friday, May 19, 2006

In December 2004, I published a post about several members of the Marines and an Army sergeant that I thought fit the criteria to be awarded our nation's highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Several people blogging from Marine Corps bases have been stopping by that post recently. I want to say thanks to them for their courage and commitment.

Let me also say that the Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors in service today can hold their head high. They prove their worth every day in unthinkable conditions for a public that hardly notices all of their good deeds. One of the many reasons Jody and I started this blog was to help point that out to people. Our servicemembers today are the best of any army in the world and arguably the best troops seen in the short history of our nation.

Please read the post about several heroes.


Brenna Loves 80's Music

Brenna loves 80's style heavy metal. Weird because I didn't like metal until Desert Storm as that was about all anyone who brought cassette tapes (remember those?) had to share.

Brenna got to stay with Meritt and NatureGirl while Jody and I had a date. Here's Brenna rocking out to the Ozzinator with Meritt... It works best if you right mouse click and select Save Target As..

HA! Doug desn't knw why Brenna likes 80s metal? No need to look any further than Mommy, here. I am sure that I remember cleaning the house when I was pregnant with her, GNR, Ratt, Ozzy and Nickelback (along with others) blaring in the background. She just takes after Mommy. :)


Remember Prom?

>> Thursday, May 18, 2006

Do you remember your prom? I have a vague recollection, but then I'm rapidly gaining on another birthday that ends in zero.

A friend of ours just sent us pix of his prom. Yes, they're twins.


A Lavender Graduation?

I heard about this today on Glenn Beck. I don't get it.

Ah, but what is a "Lavender Graduation"? you ask. Good question.

I can't really describe it so I will take the exact words from this website:

While working as the director of the LGBT Campus Resource Center at the University of Michigan, I realized that LGBT students needed and, in fact, deserved to be recognized not only for their achievements but for surviving their college years. As commencement activities were being planned for the Spring of 1995, I saw an opportunity to include LGBT students in the celebration process. I noticed that many of the ethnic groups were hosting their own ceremonies, so why not something for LGBT students? I had heard from too many LGBT students that they simply didn't feel connected to the institution nor to their various ethnic groups to want to participate in any of the commencement ceremonies. Their journeys through college as out LGBT women and men had been painful enough, they said; they just wanted to quietly leave. I happen to be a Jewish lesbian. I love rituals and celebrations. I was not invited to my own biological children's graduation celebrations because of my sexual orientation so I felt a pain similar to that of my students, and I wanted to ease it however possible. With the encouragement of the Dean of Students at Michigan, I designed the first Lavender Graduation celebration in 1995 just for LGBT students and called it Lavender Graduation. (Lavender is important to LGBT history. It is a combination of the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBT civil rights movement took these symbols of hatred and combined them to make symbols and color of pride and community.)

Ummm...ok. I still don't quite get it.

After reading the above referenced site I still don't understand if this is a second ceremony or of it is their main ceremony.

I'm wondering- if it is the main ceremony- doesn't that remove the students even further from the student body that they are already so "disconnected" from?

I'm just confused by all the "political correctness" and "all inclusiveness" we are told that we must have now. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not homophobic, racist or bigoted. I treat everyone I meet the same until I am given reason not to. People are people are people. Period.

But it is getting more difficult to see where the equality that so many groups say they are striving for is when so many special rules are made- to the exclusion of others.

I tried to find a list of student groups at Iowa State University. I couldn't. I did find one for the University of Idaho. There are student groups for: African Students, Latin Students, Chinese Students, Indian Students,LGBT Club, Muslim Students Assn., Latter Day Saints club, NAACP, Society of Black Engineers, Native Americans United, and Nepalese Students Org.

Now, this is only a fraction of the complete list. And there are plenty of clubs. But I guess what bothers me is that these clubs exist with the idea of supporting the people that they have a focus on- to the exclusion of others.

Let me just use the Society of Black Engineers as an example. Now, there is no Society of Caucasian Engineers (although there is a Society of Women Engineers). No, that would be racist. But I am sure that the American Society of Civil Engineers lets in blacks, women, Asians, Indians... You get my point.

I just wonder if all these places of "support and acceptance" are really helping. Or if they possibly do more to hinder the one thing they claim to be "fighting" for- the inclusion of everyone, equally, in our society.


My Life

>> Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It seems like when I post it is about two things: Brenna or Doug's senate race.

So I was thinking, what can I talk about that doesn't have to do with either of them? Hmmmm... what has happened lately that doesn't involve Brenna?

Thinking... Thinking... Thinking...

Nothing. My days revolve around my child. Which is just the way I think it should be. I am lucky enough to be able to stay home and raise my own child. I get to see her learn to put together puzzles. I get to see her learn numbers. I am treated daily to impromptu shows of singing and dancing. I am the willing receipent of multiple leg hugs.

Searching the web under "working mom vs. stay at home mom" yields 522,890 hits. And it seems to be a heated topic. Hey, here's a fun fact: cost of being a stay at home mom: $1 million Hmmm... interesting. Here's another one that I heard on Dr. Phil yesterday while I was doing dishes, laundry and attempting to keep Brenna from spreading baby wipes all over the house: a stay at home mother works the equivalent of two- that's 2- full time jobs.

Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. Maybe when Brenna and the as-yet-unborn-bundle-of-joy are older I will look at a job with "mother's hours" so I can still be home when they get out of school. Because, honestly, I can't think of anything more important than my children.



Border Security

>> Monday, May 15, 2006

See my new post covering the President's border security speech.


How Difficult am I to Understand?

Brenna and I had many, many errands to run this morning. Pick up photos, visit the chiropractor, get new tires on the car, confirm an order at the print shop...

And all was going well until the final errand.

The print shop we use for all Doug's campaign stuff is a local place and, very handily, they have an email order system. Tell them what you want, send "copy" if you have it and then stop in or call to confirm the order.

So I email a post card I have set up and a mail merge document. Good enough. I even tell them what I created the post card in and ask that, if they can't open it, to please call me so I can get a print out before I stop in.

I don't hear from them as I am running about town taking care of business so I venture to the opposite side of town to confirm the order.

I walk in, tell the guy who I am and he says...

with a bit of a sarcastic tone to his voice...

"I emailed you back to let you know I couldn't open the document."

Gee, thanks, that's so helpful since I specifically requested that you call me - and I gave you my phone number. So I tried my best to describe and remember exactly what I had on that card. While Brenna tried valiantly to escape from my clutches.

So now I am waiting for him to email me a document of his vision of my description. Waiting... Waiting... Waiting...

Don't you just wish people would pay more attention sometimes? sigh


I just got the finished product. I gotta say, for not paying attention to some things this guy does great work. Which is why we use him and deal with the small frustrations.


Happy Mother's Day

>> Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ah, Mother's Day... Brenna slept in til 8:30. That's almost unheard of! And then she gave me a lovely gift.
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Which she had to try out. The "rubs" smell good!
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The gift card is for the very lovely cosmetology school & spa and includes a massage, facial, mani, pedi with pedi kit and hair style. That's a full day of lovely, relaxing mommy time.

Now I just have to find a day that I can fit it in!

Doug "made" breakfast today: i.e. we went out for breakfast. A local diner had a very lovely brunch for all those daddies that were "making" breakfast. Eggs, biscuits and gravy, roast potatoes, sausage, bacon, french toast, roast turkey, ham, scalloped potatoes, salads, fruits, desserts. Yum! Doug sure is a good cook when he tries!


Read all about it!

>> Friday, May 12, 2006



Too Early For So Much

My mind is in high gear- and has been since I woke at approximately 3am with a stuffy nose. So, "What's on your mind?" you ask? Oh, you might be sorry you asked that.

Politics, as usual. The primary is very close. In four short weeks we will know if Doug will be the Republican candidate. If he is then we go forward hopefully picking up more volunteers and donations along the way. If he's not then we can get back to our lives and begin paying off the debt we have accrued to follow his desire to serve. Either way the glass is full, right?

Oh, of course there is more that I could go in to. But do I dare? This site is linked to Doug's candidate site and - even though people say they want honesty - do they really?
OK, I actually wrote an entire segment that I deleted. Why? Because it was probably too truthful. And also filled with my own frustration. Once this was a site where I could be completely honest. Now, under a microscope, I have to censor myself for fear of offending.

I will just say, get to know your candidates. Who has ideas you can get behind? Compare the candidates and find out who you can relate to. Because the person who gets elected speaks for you. Don't you want someone in office who can understand your position because he is in that position, too?

OK, I'm going to stop with that because, well, I have probably said quite enough.

I was just skimming the archives because I was just sure that I remembered blogging about this during my first pregnancy. Oh, wait, I found it... a small mention of PUPPPs during my first pregnancy. I remember being so relieved when it finally disappeared (as quickly as it had come) and how thankful I was that "it usually doesn't affect subsequesnt pregnancies". Ummm, BS. Because I swear that is exactly what I have driving me crazy from hip to hip below my belly.

I haven't really mentioned this pregnancy much. With everything that is going on it sometimes feels like a side note that will become more prominent in the coming weeks. Big announcement on the 23rd, so be sure to check in for that. And then we will begin researching baby names!!!


I Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Post....

>> Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I was actually working on a post last night that included Doug's local TV appearance since it never appeared on the TV station's website. I had decided to take a break, it was about 5pm, and said to Brenna "Let's go upstairs and we'll go for a walk!" Brenna loves to be outside so she was very excited and ran for the stairs.

And that's when it happened: her feet tangled and down she went... headfirst... into this:

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The screaming... the blood... the utter horror on my face.

I wet a towel and pressed it to the spot that it seemed the blood was pouring from. Oh, the blood. Cradling a sobbing Brenna in my arms we ran upstairs to call Doug. He was out door knocking and I couldn't reach him.

So I called my sister. No answer.

So I called my brother. He lives close now, which is so nice, and came over right away. By the time he arrived the bleeding had slowed significantly and we were really able to see the gash: about an inch long, a quarter of an inch wide and deep. (You'll have to trust me on this as I was not really in the frame of mind to take a picture to share.)

Off to Urgent Care. My sister stopped by just as we were leaving. She said that we probably didn't need to go but better safe than sorry. Doug called and met us there.

Shortly after 7pm it was our turn to see a doctor. First come, first served, you know. And the office was filled with softball injuries and other bumps.

The doctor ruled out a butterfly bandage: the wound was too long. And she ruled out gluing it: the wound was too wide. Which only left stitches. 3 stitches. Brenna was very brave. As soon as it was over she cuddled up to mommy and the sobbing stopped. She was happy enough to wave bye-bye as we left.

Here is Brenna happy to be home:
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And here she is this morning modeling her stitches:

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Hopefully the scar won't be too bad.


Another Busy Weekend

>> Monday, May 08, 2006

We had yet another busy weekend en casa.

Saturday morning Brenna's cousin Koen came to visit. My brother Justin and my SIL Holly bought a house just a couple of miles away. YEA! Now if my other brother would move to to town...

Doug spent Saturday knocking on doors, putting up signs and making phone calls. He is working very hard and I really hope it pays off. I guess we'll know in a month.

Sunday we took a much needed day away. Doug met a guy when he was knocking on doors who mentioned that he is a reinactor at Renaissance Festivals and there was one at the Amana Colonies this past weekend. So we went. No costumes as none of mine fit- the belly is too big and the costume Brenna wore last year is too small. If I had more notice I might have been able to whip something up.

Brenna was shy when we first arrived but she warmed up enough to be entertained by the fairies.
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The festival is still small and there are few vendors. Hopefully it will grow and someday rival my favorite: the Minnesota Renaissance. If Doug wins the primary we won't get to go... sigh

We went into Amana after for some yummy German food and wandered around as they were celebrating Maifest. Unfortunately the Chocolate Haus was too busy and I didn't get any chocolate. :( I would really like some right now.

Today was back to work: phone calls, errands, laundry. Ahhh, reality.


Tired, Tired, Tired

>> Friday, May 05, 2006

The past two nights Brenna has had what I assume are terrifying dreams.
I assume they are terrifying due to the screams that make my blood run cold.
I assume they are dreams becasue when I get into her room her eyes are closed and she is laying down.

I sit down by her bed, rub her back and whisper to her to try to calm her down. When she realizes I am there she stands up, holds her arms out and collapses into me, shaking and gasping. I'm not really sure she is even awake when this occurs.

She does, however, wake up and begin to calm down. She will then take my finger and try to lead me out of her bedroom. Wednseday night we cuddled in the living room for a while and then I was able to put her in bed. Last night she ended up in bed with Doug & I because I could not get her back in her bed without great trauma. (Doug & I were on each side of the bed with Brenna between us- her head in my back and her feet near Doug's head. You can imagine how well we slept.)

I'm wondering if her body is trying to wake her up to potty and she just doesn't understand. Or maybe it is some sort of nightmare. Any insights?


Cookies Are A Sometimes Food

>> Thursday, May 04, 2006

For all you Sesame Street fans...


Our Busy Morning

>> Wednesday, May 03, 2006

** NOTE: I have been trying to post this since around noon. Blogger was having a bad day, I guess.**

Brenna had her 18 month well baby visit today. She is "average" yet again. 24lbs, 15oz; 32 1/4 inches tall. Yep, just your regular, average, healthy 18 month old. The doctor asked about her appetite (she loves fruits & veggies and eats everything we give her), how many words she knows (hmmm, apple, up, down, yes, no, puppy, kitty, duck, fish, cereal, baby, thank you... and she counts to 3- sometimes 5- ala Sesame Street's Count It Higher. Seriously, go see the video if you don't remember it. Brenna has the high parts down. OK, I had it search Sesame Street and got loads of classic "Street". My fave? The King of Eight. )

We then visited the library so I could get a book. Our local library has a wonderful kid's area with a wooden train, crayons and pictures to color and a large wooden block with moving pieces (I really don't know what this is called but you've all seen them). We stayed there for a while to kill some time until...

Doug's TV interview. Yep, The Iowa Geek himself will be on the local news (Channel 13, WHO) talking about, well, himself and why he is running for senate. The beautiful Brenna has a cameo (hopefully they won't edit her out, she was very cute). We were told that the segment will air on Saturday between 8 & 10 -probably at the top of the hour- and again on Monday's noon news. It should also appear on the WHO website Saturday, Sunday & Monday. When I find the link I will post it.

Otherwise the day has been spent trying to catch up on things I haven't had time to get done... and there are too many to list here. Let me just say that cleaning my bathroom is one of them and I'm not sure I'll get to it today. If anyone feels like volunteering on this campaign just say the word- I'd love to be a housewife again. Did I just say that I wanted to clean my toilet? Yikes!


Dull, Dull Days

>> Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I feel so lame when I don't update for days but, really, there hasn't been much going on. The weather was cold and rainy for four days and that really doean't inspire much activity.

Saturday night Doug & I attended the Lincoln Dinner. There were about 1000 people there; a really great turnout. Lots of speakers- mostly Iowa politicians- with two additions: Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich. Hannity was amusing, he does a spot on Bill Clinton impression. Newt Gingrich, although he denies a presidential run at this point, was very thorough in his ideas for the future of the country. Many of his points were the same as Doug makes on his Senate site. Hmmm, coincidence?

Sunday was spent vegging and doing anything that had managed to be avoided all week- mailings, thank you notes, catching up on sleep. Yep, it was that exciting.

Which brings us to Monday. I had an OB appointment. My doctor told me that I am having a boring pregnancy- weight is on track, no pains or problems, blood pressure is normal, baby's heart beat is strong. Perfectly boring. I have an ultrasound in 3 weeks. Hopefully the little gymnast will cooperate and we can find out if it is a he or a she. The the fun of naming will begin.

After the perfectly boring OB appointment Brenna & I picked up Cousin Koen and we all went to Jumpin' Jacks, a play place full of inflatable slides and jumping pits and obstacle courses. Great fun which sent me home with a very tired child. Yea!

And today we have to drive to Best Buy- again- for a problem that is occurring on my laptop- again. Same problem. I'm beginning to lose patience. Grrr...

And Brenna is beginning to lose patience with me being on the computer so I must go. She's so demanding.

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