Friday 5: Tubular

  1. What’s your least favorite episode of your favorite television program? So one of the fun things about being a devout X-Files fan is recognizing that there are more than a few serious duds over the course of the show. Like “Space.”
  2. Across its series run, in what way did a favorite television program get worse? I have to examples of kind of the same thing–Glee and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, both musical shows but very different in their subject matter. But also very similar in where the quality suffered, and in the case of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, only a little. The music in both shows, for the most part, was not as good after the first season. In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, this is a minor criticism. The music was great throughout, it’s just that the songs in the first season were often clever and unique and after that, they started doing more clear parody. They did it really well, mind you, but one of the things I missed in the later seasons was stuff like “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” where it very much stood on its own but was funny, clever, and geared towards women, which was one of my favorite things about that show in general, but I digress. In Glee’s case, I think the missteps were more egregious. I’ll always maintain that the show’s popularity hurt it because it lost some of the first season’s edge, and it turned into a showcase of what covers they could do, what guest stars they could get, and what plots they could shoehorn in.
  3. Among television programs you like very much, which ended far too soon? I know Firefly is a cliched answer at this point, but… Also, Agent Carter! It only got a couple of seasons, but it was fantastic. I dare say it was the best Marvel show on at the time, and it deserved more praise and a pickup on streaming or something.
  4. Among television programs you like very much, which dragged on for too long? The X-Files. The Mulder-less episodes, with the exception of some amazing performances from Gillian Anderson while he’s missing. just aren’t as good. Generally, anytime you can watch a show and say, “This season finale was written as the series finale just in case,” things should’ve been wrapped up then, if not sooner.
  5. What are some lines of dialogue you love from a favorite television program? I’ll be honest, I’m just looking for an excuse to cram Lost episode “The Constant” into this because it’s probably the single best episode of the series, dare I say one of the best episodes of television ever.

From Friday 5.

Charlie entered this world on June 26 at 10:51 p.m.

Paul’s sister Emily came over Thursday night to be around to watch the cats, and Paul and I got up Friday morning, around 4:30, made it to the hospital about quarter ’til six, and after some brief waiting and prep, we were in the delivery room, I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors and things, and before I knew it…I was asleep thanks to a dose of pain meds.

And honestly, that’s how the bulk of the day went, which is not what I expected. Doctors and nurses popped in and out–the sweet nurse with me most of the day came in the next day after he was born to see us–and from what I remember, the doctor was caught up in surgery. By the time she freed up, it was almost time to push.

In short, my epidural may have been a little too good. I couldn’t feel anything at all, which was great until I kind of needed to to be able to actually give birth to a baby. We took a break to lower the dose, and it seemed like all of a sudden, I was really feeling it. It was about two hours total before he was born, and in the end, I needed some stitches.

Now, not that anyone was judging me for how delivery went, but personally, I felt like I was almost wimping out. But then in the aftermath, apparently, I handled a significant tear pretty well–one of the nurses said women have cried over smaller ones, and I only asked for painkillers and such a couple of times. Even now at home, I’m not doing much for pain and discomfort.

We were in the hospital for about 2 1/2 days–they want the baby for 24 hours after delivery and leaving at like 11 at night doesn’t make much sense, so we were able to bust out Sunday afternoon after some checks on me and plenty of poking and prodding on him to make sure he’s good.s.

And he is. Every parent thinks their kid is perfect, but he’s so cute. We don’t really think he takes after one of us over the other at the moment, and in fact, some relatives think he actually looks like my mom and he sometimes reminds me of my brother. At the moment, he has very light red, almost strawberry-blond hair, and we’re anxious to see if that changes at all. He changed a ton just over the first day of his life, so we’re curious to see how that continues.

The hospital pediatrician wasn’t concerned about letting family come meet him despite coronavirus, so since Emily was gonna need picked up after cat sitting, we told both sets of grandparents to go ahead and come meet him the evening we got back. Today, he met my brother and Kelly plus his big cousin Eliana. It made for a nice afternoon enjoying our deck. He mostly slept, but Eliana was fun to watch not just with him but in general–she’s not at our house often, certainly not the yard, and she was having a good time checking things out and being a ham.

Tomorrow, he sees a pediatrician for a follow-up, and we continue to get the hang of this whole parenting thing.

My last weekend before officially becoming a mom.

Friday evening after work, we booked it to the local coronavirus drive-up testing site before they closed at 4. I need tested as a precaution. There was this big truck in front of us and I was trying to watch how their test went, but it was too hard to see anything.

It was kind of intimidating. The staff is completely suited up. I’m sure it feels a certain way for people who are more likely to have it–I’m almost positive I don’t, as I have no symptoms and have been shuttered at home for most of the last few months–but it’s strange to know that that’s the precaution they need to take. I’ve been taking it seriously the whole time, but it kind of drives it home.

The test itself was one of the most physically uncomfortable things I’ve ever experienced. They shove that swab so, so far up your nose, and they have to do it in both nostrils. It made my eyes water. Like, avoiding that test ought to be incentive enough to just deal with the social distancing for a little while until we get a vaccine or something figured out. You don’t want it, believe me, and that’s not even considering how uncomfortable and difficult the virus itself can be.

It was also my birthday weekend!

My birthday falls on Father’s Day every few years, and figures that it did this year, the first Father’s Day since my dad died. So there’s that, the pandemic, and being very pregnant. My appetite has been weird–mostly nonexistent–and I don’t feel comfortable going out, so my mom offered to make a birthday dinner of whatever I wanted. Naturally, I opted for one of my grandma’s recipes. My first choice was cottage cheese and dumplings, but somehow, neither my mom nor Aunt Gina has the recipe. So I went for my second choice, her rigatoni, and she threw in a batch of potato salad, too. Because my brother and I managed to both marry people who do not like pasta, she planned out a whole meal–she made Grandma’s stuffed peppers, too, plus good, old-fashioned mashed potatoes and corn, plus Grandma’s Jell-O dessert. Paul made a cherry cake with lemon frosting that morning, and the two of us and Brandon, Kelly, and Eliana headed over to my mom’s Saturday afternoon (a day early) for a nice homemade dinner and cake. It was a nice, low-key birthday, and I found it to be really nice.

Paul and I ran a very brief errand on my actual birthday. My original due date was July 3, so the big question was whether the baby would be here for the 4th, but now I’m being induced a week early. So I’d seen a “my first 4th” onesie on clearance on Old Navy’s website and decided to order it and pick it up. And then we decided to go home and order pizza. So my actual birthday was that plus two or three naps, and Paul got me a really pretty jewelry set. I think my birthday actually distracted from Father’s Day, as opposed to being the weird day I thought it would be.

We’re still working on last-minute projects to get the house ready for the baby, of course. We cleaned a lot of junk lying around our bedroom, and I’m still gradually sorting through shower gifts and getting the nursery settled. I’m starting to get a little nervous, but then I’ll do something struggle to get out of bed to pee for the fourth time in the middle of the night and I feel very, very ready. I have an appointment Wednesday morning, and I’m supposed to report to the hospital Thursday night. So the next time I pop over here, I’ll have a kid. Weird.

Saturday 9: Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast

… Because it’s Father’s Day weekend.
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a little girl who runs after her daddy. When is the last time you ran? Were you trying to get somewhere in a hurry, or playing a sport? Oof. I’m nine months pregnant, so first of all, I definitely haven’t run in that span of time. Second, I hate running and am unlikely to do it even in a hurry, so who knows?

2) This song was a top ten hit for Wayne Newton. Mr. Newton is better known for his TV work, having made more than 150 appearances since 1963. Have you ever been on TV? Or in a YouTube video? Yeah, I was on the local news the Christmas Tickle Me Elmo was a thing, so I was probably about seven years old. My dad and I were going to see a local production of A Christmas Carol, and I was all dressed up, probably thanks to my mom. The local news was there holding a giveaway for a Tickle Me Elmo, and they had people, like, standing behind a table looking pretty as part of the broadcast. We walked in the lobby and a cameraman or somebody pointed to me and said he wanted me in it. I’m also technically in one or two live music videos shot at concerts I’ve been to, but I’m hard to spot. You can see my brother right next to me, though.

3) The road leading to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is named Wayne Newton Blvd. in his honor. When is the last time you were at an airport? Were you flying somewhere, picking someone up, or dropping them off? That’s been a while, too. I was definitely either picking up or dropping off–I think picking up my brother-in-law when he was coming home from something with the Marines a few years ago.

4) Wayne says Elvis Presley haunts Las Vegas, and believes that The King of Rock and Roll has given him performing and parenting tips from beyond the grave. When did you last see Elvis? On TV, on a t-shirt, poster or magazine cover, or as a ghostly apparition? Probably on TV or online.

5) When Sam walks with her own dad, the problem isn’t that he walks fast. It’s that he’s always stopping to pick up litter he finds on the grass. Litterbugs are his pet peeve. What’s your pet peeve? That’s a good pet peeve to have, and I share it. My current one is people questioning the seriousness of coronavirus.

6) Sam’s own father often traveled for business, and always gave her the complimentary soaps, shampoos or body lotion he got from the hotel. When she went away to college, she used her collection of little bottles and was grateful for all the money they saved her. What’s something you’ve done recently to economize? I do that, too. One of the things I’ve done throughout my pregnancy is any ads or offers for coupons or samples, as long as I don’t have to pay anything other than shipping, I’ve signed up for. I have a nice stash of different brands of diapers, formula if I need it, and bath products.

7) It was her father who taught Sam to drive. Are you a better student or teacher? Probably student, but anytime I’ve had to teach someone something, I have had success.

8) Sam’s father also always asks if her car in “tip top” condition. Most recently he reminded her to test her headlights, tail lights and turn signals while the car is parked to make sure they’re all working. Do you have a car maintenance tip to share? Nope, I’m terrible at it.

9) Sam’s father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. Do you usually enjoy a between meal snack? Usually, yes, but strangely, pregnancy–especially this late in the game–has kind of killed my appetite. I’m either not eating an actual meal and snacking a little bit here and there or eating a meal or two and maybe having a snack before bed and that’s it.

Friday 5: Under Lock & Key

  1. What’s your mask situation like? So being pregnant, I was advised to stay put as much as possible and not go anywhere for anything, and since I work from home and have a husband to take care of things, that was pretty easy. I didn’t have a mask for weeks, and my husband was using a homemade one from a t-shirt. At some point, I did see my mom, and she had bought some of the paper ones last year before my dad died from cancer and gave me a couple on a few different occasions, which generally got me through doctors appointments. I had ordered a couple online, and they only just came in in the last week or so. They’re plain grey but good quality. I like it, as much as one can like a mask they dislike wearing.
  2. In what way is your life better today than a few months ago? I guess that because Pennsylvania has done a good job of keeping things under control, we’re in a phase of gradual reopening. I’m still really skeptical of it–I think we’re all still moving too fast–and so I’m still avoiding going out and wearing a mask when I do.
  3. What do you miss from normal living? Just being able to go out and do something. Like, we went to Target last weekend to fill the gaps in the baby needs and use a 15% in-store coupon, and we made sure we had our masks and sanitized our hands and mostly went in with a plan and stuck to it. Under normal circumstances, I probably would’ve gone shopping with my mom more than once by now, and after that Target run, we probably would’ve gone out to eat somewhere. I miss browsing stores. I miss not having to feel like I’m relying on the rest of the population to do the bare minimum, especially as a pregnant woman who’s considered at higher risk. And concerts! But at this point in my pregnancy, I wasn’t gonna be going anyway. I choose to believe the universe is doing me a solid on that front, canceling everything I would’ve missed out on.
  4. When this is over, what will be your major takeaway? That this country has a lot of problems we need to solve, from smaller-scale cultural issues like a bizarre distrust in science and the media to bigger issues of how to handle something like this properly from both public health and economic standpoints. That only some of us are listening.
  5. What are your feelings about getting back out there sooner, rather than later? I think based on my previous answers it’s pretty clear I think it’s a bad idea. I think we were presented with two options–reopen or stay shut down and let the economy crash–when in reality, plenty of people had other smart, viable ideas that would’ve allowed us to stay safe without us all going broke, too. I think we’re gonna see a spike in cases in areas where we haven’t already. I think it’s irresponsible and selfish, in some cases. Naive, even, especially since there’s a lot we don’t know about it. Why would we take our chances with that?

I do want to add one thing–because I’m pregnant and being induced in less than a week, I had to get tested for the virus as a precaution, and that was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever experienced. Some people’s accounts of actually having it are worse, of course, but just the test was extremely unpleasant and nothing most of us would want to experience. If nothing else, take the recommended precautions to save yourself that discomfort.

From Friday 5.


In the aftermath of the baby shower, the house looks like a disaster. It’s mostly because so I can keep track of things for thank-you notes, I left all the gifts in their bags and we kind of plopped it all in the living and side room and as I write out a thank-you, I go through everything and put it in the nursery. It tends to involve cutting lots of tags off of baby clothes and piling anything washable in a hamper to wash before he gets here.

Which will be next week!

Despite a due date of July 3, I will be 39 weeks as of next week, and studies have shown there are benefits to inducing then, like a decreased risk in various complications. That information paired with my discomfort–the worst of which is pain through my lower stomach and groin when I walk and roll over in bed–led me to say let’s go ahead and do it. So we’ll head into the hospital next Thursday night and unless he really decides to be a pain, we’ll have a baby by Friday, maybe be home by the end of the weekend. I have one last appointment Wednesday to see how things are going, and I also have to get tested for coronavirus as a precaution, which I’m hoping to squeeze in tomorrow right after work. I’m almost more anxious about that than childbirth. At least I’ve had nine months to mentally prepare for childbirth. I’ve only had a few days to come to terms with a big Q-tip poking my brain.

So as part of baby prep, I wanted some more boxes to help organize our clothes. Our bedroom is a disaster–and small–so my original plan was to put him straight in the nursery, but I’m second-guessing that and would feel better having him closer, even in such a small house. So I ordered what I wanted online for pickup, which based on the line outside the store was brilliant. Plus we dropped off tons of recycling that had piled up in the midst of the COVID lockdown, so it was a productive trip. We went home for a little bit then headed back out for a brief Target run to use my 15% registry coupon on a few things we didn’t get at the shower, but I mean really a few. I wasn’t expecting so many of the big things we needed to get covered, so all we really needed was, like, crib sheets, baby laundry detergent, and a few other things. I’d also used a second website for my registry that gave me 15% plus a $10 credit, and I took advantage of that one to get the baby monitor I want. Frankly, I didn’t expect anyone to buy that one. It would’ve been awesome, but I didn’t expect it.

This weekend is gonna be a weird one–it’s the first Father’s Day without my dad, which also happens to fall on my birthday, and being induced means it’s also our last weekend before the baby comes, and it’s still during a pandemic, no matter how the country is behaving. I don’t want to go out for various reasons, which include a reduced appetite thanks to a baby taking up most of my internal space, so my mom offered to make me something. I opted for either my grandma’s rigatoni or cottage cheese and dumplings and maybe a small ice-cream cake, so it’s looking like that’ll be my Saturday!

Saturday 9: The Rain, The Park, and Other Things (1967)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) The Cowsills were a family band who had three hit singles. Can you name another group of popular singing siblings? Hanson!

2) This was their first hit, and it reached #2 on the Billboard charts. It was kept out of the #1 slot by the Monkees and “Daydream Believer.” What’s your favorite Monkees song? Oh, definitely “Daydream Believer.” I’m not a huge Monkees fan, but I adore that song. It’s so damn catchy.

3) After seeing the Cowsill brothers perform with their mother and sister, TV producers were inspired to create the sitcom, The Partridge Family. Did you ever watch it? No.

4) In the song, the narrator takes a flower from a girl in the park. Are there flowers in your home right now? Just fake ones.

5) He isn’t sure if the girl was real, or if he dreamed her. Tell us about a recent dream you had. I haven’t remembered any lately, although I’m pretty sure I had a dream about turning my alarm off and getting up, as one does.

6) At the height of the Cowsills’ popularity, they were hired by the American Dairy Association to promote drinking milk. If we were to peek into your refrigerator right now, would we find any milk? Yep. My family drank a lot of it growing up, and I still do.

7) After the band stopped performing together, John Cowsill went on to become a back up musician for the Beach Boys. His job has kept him on the road much of the time. When you travel, do you enjoy staying in hotels, or would you rather stay with friends/family? It depends–sometimes a hotel is nice because I feel a little more at home there, but staying with other people is more fun.

8)  In 1967, the year this song was popular, Elvis married Priscilla in Las Vegas. Have you attended any weddings yet this year? Are there any weddings in your future? Not yet this year, but we’re invited to two in the fall. Frankly, though, I’m concerned it won’t be safe to go.

9) Random question: Are the bottoms of your feet ticklish? Yep.

Friday 5: Aa Bb Cc Dd Ed Ff Gg Hh

  1. When did you last do something resembling a book report? A proper one, probably college.
  2. What was your most recent art project? I’m not an artsy person. I’m really bad at drawing and things, so I don’t enjoy it, so I avoid it. Closest I came was a sign for the gift drop-off for my drive-by baby shower. My mom got pretty creative with it. The printable invitations we found had little safari animals with masks on, and she took that design and put it on a sign and arranged plastic fern-like leaves to the corners. One of my tasks the day of the shower was to affix the leaves to the sign, which I did with a hot glue gun.
  3. When were you last called upon to do show & tell? That’s kind of what opening gifts was like. If we didn’t have a few cars lined up, I went ahead and opened the visitor’s gift right then and there, but for the most part, we put them in the garage and filmed me opening them later so we can send them to the gift givers. So it’s a lot of me opening things, showing them off to the small group who was there, announcing who it was from, and thanking them.
  4. When did you last feel like someone playing hide and seek? I’m playing hide and seek from the ‘rona.
  5. When did you last have some milk and/or cookies? Just now! My husband is on Day 1 of unemployment and made cookies over the weekend, and he just came back with a small plate of them to share.

From Friday 5.

Back in February, my mom took a ride out here and she I and I spent some time after work checking out this cute little tea house a few minutes away from our house as a potential baby-shower venue. I really liked it and thought it would make for something cute and different, so we were all set.

COVID-19 shutdowns hit the state a month, maybe month-and-a-half later. We held out hope things would be back to normal by the time we were looking to have the shower–early June–but as the weeks went by, not only did that seem unlikely, but if it happened, would it really be safe and would me and my guests really be comfortable with it? And the answer was no.

Moms-to-be in similar situations were going viral for improvising with virtual and drive-by showers. I wasn’t crazy about a virtual shower–it felt a little impersonal, and I knew it would exclude some older relatives. A drive-by shower wasn’t ideal for our house, given we’re kind of the odd ones out location-wise and the road we’re on really isn’t great for that. But my mom realized her neighborhood is kind of perfect for it. It’s small and the roads essentially just make a small circle, making it easy for people to drive up.

So we moved forward with adapting everything for the era of coronavirus. We wanted to make it worth everyone’s time to drive out and be as close to a traditional baby shower as possible, so we gave out a bag lunch. Jimmy John’s was the catering winner because they individually wrapped their sandwiches, and we donned food-service gloves and filled little blue lunch bags with that, a bag of chips, individually wrapped cookies made to look like adorable babies, and a little individually wrapped mint, as well as a bottle of water with a custom label. Normally, we’d have made our own cookies and aunts and grandmas would’ve chipped in, but we aimed to be as professional-grade as possible for safety reasons. We also had cupcakes individually boxed.

We also gave out little bags of favors, generally following a theme–they had little keychains, a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer, hand lotion, and a bar of soap that smelled amazing.

Of course, baby showers come with games, most of which can’t be done in a social-distancing version–and I’d found some neat ones. But we did what we could. We found baby-themed scratch-off tickets that we sent out with invitations, we had a car-decorating contest, and we decided we’d award a prize to every so many cars. We also awarded a prize for furthest distance traveled, which went to Julie, who drove down from Erie. Basically, a lot of people got prizes.

The turnout was mostly my side of the family, although a lot of Paul’s family lives about an hour away and I don’t blame them for not wanting to make that drive. My mom made the point that if it were her, she’d want to get out of the house. We had about 40 people come through in about 15 cars, which I was pretty happy with. It went well. People seemed impressed with how it turned out, and we got a lot of our baby needs covered. We have a few things we still need, so the plan is to head out this weekend and take advantage of coupons and gift cards.

All in all, it was a nice day, and as much as I wanted my original tea house, things came together well and I felt like I got my day–and baby, too! I appreciated everyone who came out.

Saturday 9: When Love Goes Wrong (Nothing Goes Right) 1953

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This is from the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Have you seen it? I have not.

2) The lyrics tell us that, when love goes wrong, “a match won’t light.” When did you most recently light a match? I don’t know. Maybe the last time we had people over? I keep a small candle lit on the bathroom sink. But I can’t think of when that would’ve been because we really haven’t had anyone over since I got pregnant.

3) The duet is performed at a French sidewalk cafe, where Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe are (literally) sharing a cup of coffee. With whom did you most recently have coffee? So I’ve never been a big coffee drinker, and being pregnant, I do have to limit my caffeine intake. To be cautious, aside from the occasional tea, I’ve totally cut out my lattes and things I used to love, and I’m dying for one. To give me a little taste of that, whenever my husband makes a cup of coffee, I take a sip. This is probably gonna turn me into a proper coffee drinker, not just, like, Starbucks drinks loaded with sugar. But rest assured, the second I’m allowed, I’m getting the biggest caramel macchiato I can find.

4) The tune was written by prolific composer Hoagy Carmichael. He was influenced by his mother, who earned extra money for the family playing piano during silent movies. Who in your life influenced your career choices? My parents, for different reasons. My dad pursued something he liked, at least, but my mom was very vocal about being miserable at work. So from a pretty young age, I didn’t see a point in chasing a good paycheck if it made me dread getting out of bed every morning.

5) Jane and Marilyn shared something beyond movie stardom. They were both married to Hall of Famers. Marilyn Monroe was married to Joe DiMaggio, who was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. Jane was married to quarterback Bob Waterfield, inducted into the football Hall of Fame in 1965. Which sport would you rather watch: baseball or football? Baseball. It’s less boring to me.

6) Jane and Bob Waterfield were high school sweethearts at Van Nuys High. The Southern California school was used as a set for the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Tell us something about your high school. I went to a Catholic school in a small town, and a few years ago, it was among the top 50 in the country, I believe.

7) Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio met on a blind date at a Hollywood restaurant called Villa Nova. Have you ever arranged a blind date? If so, did the couple hit it off and end up dating? I haven’t, but I think it would be fun.

8) In 1953, when Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released, a tornado did severe damage to Waco, TX. Tell us about a major weather event that you endured (tornado, hurricane, flood, blizzard, heat wave, etc.). The occasional tornado has come through the area, but never close to me. We’re more likely to have blizzards, although if you ask just about anyone, they swear they used to be more frequent and more intense. We had Snowmageddon a few years ago, which was probably the worst of the ones in recent memory, but we have had a few nasty storms in the years since. But that was one where everyone just had to kind of hunker down and wait it out for a weekend, and we lost power. When we dug out, it was a mess.

9) Random question: You see a filthy puddle. Floating on top are cigarette butts, a leaf, and a $1 bill. Would you bend over and rescue the dollar? Only if I was really, really desperate.