Letters to Holly

Friday, January 29

It's A Sidekick

Before getting home yesterday, I zoomed into the grocery store to stock up on Your Sister's mom snacks. The death snow looms. I chugged a caramel frappuccino for lunch and pulled into my carport right as Your Parents arrived. We had about half an hour to kill before we picked up Your Sister. I cut up her celery snacks and tucked away groceries while Your Mom vibrated in the house. She seems to be more wired in the last year. The anxiety of seeing a grandchild on ultrasound, and kibitzing over possible ailments, did nothing to settle her.

We scooped up my baby mama and began the check-up relatively quickly. Your Sister has put on two pounds in two weeks. Her blood pressure is fine (124/68). We were directed straight to the scanning room, and she was radar'ed within 15 minutes.

The baby is fine and appears to be a week ahead in physical development. The head, neck, belly, and femur measurements are good. We saw the heart chambers. We saw feet and fingers. And then we saw what the doctor defined as boy parts. He's confident we're brewing a lad. Your Sister wants to keep some girl names in reserve just in case, and I offer a "probably" disclaimer to be nice. But it's a boy. We're having a padawan. (Yes, there were female jedi, but we saw, what, two in six films?).

Your Mom voiced concerns about a number of wives' tales, and they were each shot down. The baby, for instance, is breech right now. The doctor assured her it has plenty of time to turn. It's the natural fit, after all. But what about the baby being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck? Happens daily, he said. Does the speed of the heartbeat confirm it's a boy? Nope. Sometimes I can't tell if she's genuinely nervous about something or buzzing with energy. Either way, all signs point so far to a healthy pregnancy. We go back in a month for the blood-sugar test.

Your Parents didn't want to loiter in Yokelsburg after the appointment, and Your Sis and I had a celebratory dinner at the pub. We spied a child's birthday party, and Your Sister grew ravenous for cake. We slipped into the now-emptied grocery store and bought a one-layer red velvet cake. We discussed parenting matters along the lines of when do we have The Talk? How do we handle curfews? You know, things we have a decade to gear up for.

I called My Mom and told her the news, and we called a few other people before I shouted it on the Book of Face.

He looks healthy. That's all that matters. I think Your Sister wanted a son. I hope she's as happy as I am. It looks like we'll be snowed in for a few days. I don't mind. A small period of stillness will let us contemplate further this project, and we can huddle together in our home.

Picture of the Day
The menstrual cycle in cute cartoon form. We won't be seeing this until summer.

Thursday, January 28

Place Your Bets

As we might find out today what we're carrying, let's breakdown the predictions:

Your Aunt: Boy (an angel told her)

Our Sister-in-Law/My Coworkers/Some of Your Sister's Coworkers/Many People Online: Girl

Our Oldest Niece: Both (She thinks Your Sister is carrying a boy, but her cousin will be a girl.)

Me/Your Sister: No comment. We have preferences. We'll never admit them, although I think I did here a few months back. If I did, ignore it. I was raised being told what my girl name would be and what I would have done at various ages. I got the hint that Mom didn't get what she ordered.

Your Mom has accepted the invitation to join us for the appointment. I don't know if Your Dad is coming too. I invited them both. My Mom was flattered by the initial suggestion and plans to join us for the next doctor visit. We're facing another snowpocalypse. I bought a real snow shovel and will hit the grocery store before the appointment today.

I got home last night to find both Amazon shipments had arrived. The new big scanner is a beauteous thing of beauty. Choirs sing when you look at it. My comic art boards fit entirely in the scan bed. Simple hook-up, simple interface. I like it muchly. The first of the journal comics are scheduled to go online Monday, and I'll link to them when they're up.

Picture of the Day
Learn it, live it, love it.

Wednesday, January 27

Power Outage

The canceled schoolday allowed Your Sister to stock up on forms and gear up for the next semester. She secured a desk and bulletin board for her student teacher. He gets to host a vocabulary test today, and she thinks he's lulled himself into overconfidence about it.

Mom all but confirmed she will not be coming to the appointment tomorrow. The weather forecast is too dire. She's clearly upset by it and assumes there's some divine reason for the obstacle. We'll extend the invite to Your Parents, but Your Sis thinks the weather will keep them home too. Or the dog will. Your Mom doesn't like leaving the dog alone at the house. When they visited Saturday, the dog came along. I'm not bothered by it. He's a great dog -- well behaved and sweet. But the commute is practically longer than the visit.

I discovered an failed outlet in my workshop this morning. That made my computer set-up inoperable. I checked the circuit board and fiddled with the other outlets. Repairing it is just on the other side of my comfort with household maintenance, and I found a local electrician to come by. He fixed it in no time, and luckily it was a bad outlet and not bad wiring. That was my fear. That and an ensuing house fire. The bill was steeper than I expected, but I'm glad to pay it.

I checked estimates for printing my comics through OfficeMax and got numbers I expected. I have to decide how many copies to print. Do I do a big batch? If I don't sell out at the show, I can sell the others later, but it will cost more now. If I buy a bit less and sell-out, I might miss out on the maximum profit for the show. Also a friend who works there offered me a good deal on a b/w printer, and that would allow me to print the comic at home and take it to OfficeMax for the assembly. I'd probably still print the color covers there. I checked the price of paper cutters too.

It will definitely be a better use of money to buy equipment and do it at home, but that labor will require me to finish the artwork earlier. Also, I'm going to only do two comics, not three. A lot of time remains between now and the show, but I must get cracking on the pages. I've had good sketch luck recently, and I think I can produce a good story.

Picture of the Day
If our galaxy was a subway.

Tuesday, January 26

Then Again, Maybe Not

I forgot to mention yesterday: When Your Parents came over Saturday, they brought a pile of stuffed animals from Your Sister's childhood. Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Peter Cottontail, and a Roo. I had no idea she owned a Roo back then. They were musty with basement air, and it took two thorough washing-machine cycles to clean them up. They're now brighter and awaiting their guest of honor, and all this anticipation terrifies me that something will go wrong. It's been too easy so far (Yes, too easy for me, the one not getting bigger each day, the one who can easily stand up from the couch and bed, the one who gets to sit all day at work).

The Pooh Bear wore a German bib with "Mitt Woch" on it. I was also reminded in a conversation last night that Your Sister didn't grow up in America. We were talking about football teams of our youth, and she pointed out she had fewer because she didn't know about football until the early '80s.

A small snowburst canceled school today. This was to be the first day of the new semester. The roads are clear, and I drove in to work. Another snowfall is predicted for Thursday night and Friday, and this might cancel Mom's visit. I can't go get her this time, and I doubt she wants to risk staying with us until Sunday. I talked to Your Dad and offered (or he might have asked) for them to come with us Thursday if Mom cancels. If nothing else, they can all be there at the same time, but we'd rather parcel out the parent escorts to the doctor. We want to outnumber the parents if possible. I'll call Mom tonight to warn her about the weather. That won't go over well. But I'll advise her that we're not guaranteed to learn what we're packing on Thursday. Hopefully that will help.

Did we ever tell you that Your Sister invited both sets of parents to our jailhouse wedding ceremony at the last minute? We agreed to tell none of them until after; I knew My Parents wouldn't be able to leave work on one day's notice. She couldn't contain herself however, and I had to explain to Mom that if they couldn't attend, Your Parents agreed not to either. It was an excited notion Your Sister had, and I had to squelch a potential forest fire. It made a hectic weekend a little more frantic. I want to keep things fair between the parents.

An email I sent to Your Sister resulted in a possible new mother nickname for her: Queen Mum.

Picture of the Day
Quick, to the VW Ball!

Monday, January 25

Beetle Bouncing

I was informed Friday that Your parents would take Your Sister's car to dealerships near them to learn its trade-in value. They might even do basic haggling for a new car then let us bat clean-up. We had talked of replacing her car for a while, and that noise grew louder after we became pregnant. As it's her car, I'm out of the loop on the conversation they had. I'll do what I'm asked.

Your Parents came by Saturday to get that car and leave us their VW to drive in the meantime. Your Father called me that night to say he talked to Your Brother, who had suggestions for selling it privately. I called him, got the info (briefly: check online car sites, find the average asking price, and sell it online), and called Your Dad back to verify. With that information in hand, it was decided that we should take the car back.

I drove the VW to work today and will swap it with Your Sister's car sometime before I return home. It's a jarring change from driving our Matrix, and I'm pretty sure it's never before bounded down the road to the thumps of Missy Elliot and Jay-Z. I'm surprised the flowers stayed in the dashboard vase. Also, European gear boxes are the devil.

Your Sister watched over Saturday exams for students getting a second chance to pass them. At the same time, I performed surgery on a dying scanner before calling time of death around 10:30. I immediately ordered a larger one off Amazon, and it's the scanner I've wanted for ten years: one that can scan 11x17 art boards. No more reconstructing comic pages digitally, thank Odin.

I began scripting one of my minicomics and hoped to have a local printer handle the reproduction and binding. The first shop I went to was run by a woman who shook her head as soon as I showed her the minis I wanted to emulate; the town's allegedly preeminent print store is actually a Xerox and mailing store. She did suggest the other two stores in town, and neither is open on weekends. I'd have to drive to Hendersonville or Asheville if I wanted this work done in my free time. Instead, I'll give some Asheville shops a chance to print my convention comics, and I'll offer them advertising if they give me a discount. The inability to use nearby shops pisses me off. Virtually every business open on weekends are restaurants and tourist shops, and only half of those are of interest to locals. This will probably be a $500+ job to make three comics for me; I'm sure some business wants that money.

Your Sister worked at school Sunday during a biblical rainstorm. We lost our TV signal a few times during the very good football games. Neither Super Bowl team -- Indianapolis and New Orleans -- are ones we picked in the preseason, but we're happy with them. I'm sure she'll root for whoever I don't.

The night before, I felt Roo move. It felt like stomach rumbling. We held our hands there for so long that we lost Roo's movement among our own pulses. We were eventually sure it was over and fell into sleep. Mom's still planning to come up Thursday for the scan.

Picture of the Day
I need to run again now that the cold has passed.