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So my wife had her 22-week ultrasound today, apparently the final one barring any issues, and I took some time off to go with her.

This was my third time going to one of these appointments so, for once, I kinda knew what I was in for. Truth be told, for the most part, I just sit there with my mouth shut — it’s not that hard.

This time was kinda neat, though… See, if you’ve ever gone to one of these appointments you can’t miss how the women in the waiting room size one another up. It’s hysterical.

On our first visit, back in November, it was hard not to notice the other women in the waiting room looking down on us — you know, cause we weren’t “far” enough along.

The second visit, well, everyone in the waiting room seemed to be at about the same stage, so the women were obviously sizing up the “support partners” (ha!) in a pseudo my-man-is-better-than-your-man sort of way. Thank god I don’t wear sweatpants in public.

Really, by that fact alone, I out-manned one fellow.

This time, my wife was the cow of the room. No doubt. One woman across from us in the waiting room was so sheepish about it that she wouldn’t even make eye contact.

I couldn’t help but be proud.

Yeah, that’s right. My wife is fatter than your wife.

Once we were called into the room where they do the ultrasound thing, the appointment went just like the previous ones. Yep, little monster skeleton looking thing in there kicking and squirming. Think… velociraptor.

Unfortunately, the images didn’t seem as clear this time — not sure what that was about — but could clearly see the baby opening and closing it’s mouth, so that was neat.

Then it was time for the real doctor to come in for a look. Again, it’s just like going to the dentist — the person without the degree does all the work and then the big bad doctor comes in at the end for 5 seconds.

The door opens, and without even introducing himself, he blurts out, “What hospital are you having the baby at?”

Poor grammar aside, I thought it was a pretty strange entrance. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but later my wife thought he was prying to see if he should bother pretending to be nice, you know, since we’re NOT having the baby at this hospital, he had no problem coming across as gruff.

He sat down and took control of the little wand/scanner thing. It was blatantly apparent that he had the personality of a door knob.

Now, I was an engineering major in university.

I know what you’re thinking; those guys are always a bunch of nerdy dweebs.

For the most part, that’s true. What I’m saying is that I’ve hung out with a lot of people with zero personality. I can honestly say that I’ve spent a few Friday nights discussing math — I’m not ashamed to admit it.

But here’s the thing — engineers generally only interact with engineers.

This guy, on the other hand, is a doctor?!

Doctors deal with the public!

Further, this guy is a freaking BABY DOCTOR?!

I dunno, but I think the med schools out there need to start teaching these guys something about dealing with the public. I mean, to get your engineering degree, you had to pass a communications course that taught you how to NOT speak geek speak all the time.

Most of us considered it a “bird” course, but really, for some, I’m sure it had some effect.

Anyway, at one point, while scanning all around looking for a nice clear shot of the heart, he lifted his free hand and started scratching the top of his head like an ape.

We’re not talking about a discrete index finger itch. This was an all out four-fingered plow-the-fields scratch that lasted over 10 seconds. Un-real.

Now, I must admit, I’ve been known to scratch my head like an ape too — usually while driving around in the convertible.

I dunno, there’s something about the wind whipping your hair all around that makes your head really itchy.

Am I alone on this one?

Either way, it wasn’t windy in the examination room…

For the record — this is the first ultrasound post that hasn’t included a reference to an action figure.

I’m pretty proud of that.

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My DadSo it’s now been exactly a year since I last saw my dad. It was November 3rd that he came with us to that creepy 3D ultrasound of the then un-named Henrik. I think he really enjoyed that.

Later that day, he and my mom drove back home to Florida.

Recently a couple of acquaintances have had deaths in the family — both happened to lose their dad — and it got me thinkin’…

One was older than any human being should possibly get and the other had been in and out of a sedative state for months.

In both cases, I heard the news on Facebook.

I like to think that I can relate since my Dad died just last year but I’m finding it really hard to find common ground.

It’s funny, thinking about it now, shortly after my dad died, another friend (that isn’t strictly relegated to Facebook communication) came up to me and gave me the awkward exchange that people typically give you when someone close dies.

The thing is, for him, his dad had died just a couple of months prior (in his 80’s and of cancer) so I kinda thought he was one of the few who knew firsthand how I felt — freshly.

His comment — and his brother’s comment too, “No way, man, yours was way worse. We saw Pops going…”

That kinda stuck with me.

And you know what?

They were wrong.

My family’s loss wasn’t worse.

Sure, in some ways — like the actual loss of a family member — it was exactly the same but the way it happened for us was, well, better.

I think it was better.

We didn’t have a long waiting period.

We didn’t get the chance to ponder when?

We never had to make any hard life-or-death decisions.

It just happened.

Out of the blue.

Sure, it sucks to never have had the chance to say good bye.

The last time I saw my dad, just after that ultrasound appointment, we were out looking for liquid garlic (very tough to find), we discussed not giving the baby-to-come a name that ended in ‘-ie’ or a single syllable name and tested out all kinds of terrible suggestions (none being Henrik, which my dad propably would’ve hated), and complained about how the soda at our local 99 Restaurant tasted musty that day.

The last thing I talked to my dad about, just days before he died, was a free frame replacement on my wife’s Toyota Tacoma. Neither of us are gear heads — what a stupid final conversation.

But if it had been any other way, what would we have said?

I mean, really, what do you say?

Talk about uncomfortably awkward…

There haven’t been a lot of deaths in our family. It’s not that we live forever — it’s just not that big of a family.

I can think of three deaths and technically, only two were ‘real’ relatives and I can only really claim to have ever made a connection to one of them.

The first death was my grandmother in…I think it was in the fall of 1987. I was in 5th grade — that much I’m sure of.

She’d had a heart attack and we made the 9-hour trip to the hospital to go and see her.

She seemed perfectly normal — she gave me a dollar bill to “buy something in the gift shop” as if anything could be had in a hospital gift shop for a dollar. Even in the 80’s… Sheesh…

I still have that dollar, though. Pretty cool too since it wasn’t long after that paper dollars were taken out of circulation in Canada.

Anyway, all seemed well from a 5th grader’s perspective besides the fact that she was in the hospital.

We drove back home and life resumed.

It was about a week later when I had a friend sleeping over that my Dad poked his head in the door and asked if he could talk to me for a sec.

That’d never happened before.

I got up, went out to the hallway and he led me into my parent’s bedroom and said, “Gram died this afternoon.”

I just stood there.

I remember thinking that my dad was really big that day — like, tall and imposing but not in a threatening way — a trait that really isn’t accurate to my dad’s physical stature.

Especially on what I now realize would have been a very very weak day.

I didn’t cry or anything, said I was okay, and just went back to my room, sat down in my red pleather bean bag, and kept on playing Atari (yes, I’m *that* old) with a stunned look on my face the best I could so as not to let my friend in on the news.

I never did get the real story — I’ve always just assumed it was another heart attack.

And speaking of all this, new in next month’s spending report…life insurance premiums!

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Loosely Related Tangent
Back when I was in university we used to play stupid games like who could stand on one foot the longest, or drink a coke the fasted (way harder to pound a Coke than a beer), hold a hand over a candle closest, or hold your breath the longest. That sorta thing.

One of the variations was who could “bust a tear” first.

One guy used to pull out nose hairs to well up. It certainly worked, but I still beat him every time.

Funny, cause he was an artsci fartsy drama major.

I’d just think about “Gram” telling me to put her dominoes away and my right eye would start to spout.

Takes about 2 seconds.

I’d be really awesome at that game now.

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This post was requested by Angie — and I love requests!

We had a hard time this past Halloween.

See, we had a costume in mind, one that we’d had in the closet since before Duncan was even born and we thought this would be the the year that it’d fit him.

Well, we were wrong — but only realized it days before Halloween.

So a last minute trip to a childrens consignment store resulted in this $6 penguin suit.

At first we were a little worried he wouldn’t wear it since he’s never been too keen on wearing things on his head (dating back to that great hat/headdress last Thanksgiving) but once we got it on him (I can confirm that there was some screaming involved) he went into a pseudo show-off mode.

Never’d seen him do that before.

We did some trick-or-treating which I’m pretty sure he found confusing but he most certainly enjoyed being allowed to walk around at night while the assorted princesses and power rangers cooed over his costume (or the goofy walk he does when he’s showing off) and pick up sticks.

Yep, he acquired more sticks than chocolate.

Better than Charlie Brown’s rocks, I suppose…

In other “family” news, we’re slated to add Duncan 2 sometime in early April.

Here’s one of those creepy looking 4D ultrasounds of the little guy.

(Seriously — that’s creepy, right?)

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18 Week Ultrasound

I guess I’m due for this, right? Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn this personal finance blog into a mommy blog — or at least I hope not.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those to a certain degree too, but I’m not sure that it’s something that I have enough of an opinion on to sit down and type something out each day…

That said, of late, it’s as if I’m having trouble keeping up with the personal finance stuff too…

Sigh.

Anyway, here’s the latest picture we received from the doctor last week. It was a different one this time, and no, I wasn’t referred to as a support partner.

This doctor was wise enough to put two-and-two together and correctly identified me as the father.

From there, I kept my eyes glued to the monitor as the little gremlin/Skeletor looking thing flailed all about.

Skeletor -- poorly cropped.Really — at one point I swear I saw Skeletor. I wasn’t even a fan of He-Man, but it was him, I swear, inside my wife!

I wish I had the video to prove it.

Speaking of that, I’m surprised they still give you the little photo printouts when it would probably be just as inexpensive, but with a lot more ‘wow’ factor, to just provide DVD’s of the ultrasound appointments.

For now, though, they just provide the little photos printed on that thin plastic stuff that warps itself silly just from the heat of being printed on. As a pro photographer, that kinda rubs me the wrong way.

Further, every photographer knows or has been taught how to crop a photo. It’s a very important aspect.

Often times, the only difference between a snapshot and an award winning photograph is the crop.

Now, these ultrasound technicians, who in a certain sense are just photographers with a really unique camera, take photos all day, five days a week — you know, you’d think that in training they’d be taught some photography basics.

Now I know, someone out there is going to say, “What is this idiot talking about? They’re not just taking pictures… They’re checking for things…”

I agree, they are checking for things, no question, but each time we’ve been there, they’ve spent quite a bit of time moving that thing around trying to get “cute” — their words, not mine — pictures of the baby followed by typing in a silly caption.

That’s artsy. Not scientific.

What I’m saying is that photography — portrait photography — is a part of their job function.

Would it be too much to ask that when they take this classic ultrasound shot, that they zoom out a bit and show that the kid has some legs?

Little Person from back in the day...  My day...  See?  No legs.Every single ultrasound that I’ve seen makes it look like every baby is destined to look like one of those Fisher Price Little People figures from the 1970’s.

There are never any legs because they crop them out.

Zoom is not your friend.

Make sure you have a clean background and never, never, never crop at the ankles!

If you’re going to crop a person, it’s at the bottom of the ribcage or not at all… That’s right. There’s nothing wrong with zooming *out* so as to capture the entire person.

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. And yes, the Skeletor photo above is a classic example of a BAD crop. See — he’s chopped at the ankles. Tsk, tsk…

Anyway, it’s a boy.

Names already out of the running include: Clumsy, Handy, Lazy, Vanity, Hefty, Jokey, Baker, and Grouchy.

Gargamel was never even a consideration… As if?

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That, my friends, is one scary looking smurfling...

In a pre-orchestrated and specifically timed “press” release, this is the photo of the week.

You might notice that it’s dated a couple of weeks back, but it just so happens that my wife already had plans to meet her mom today for lunch, so she wanted to wait and tell her in person.

For me, my parents are so far away, this seemed like the perfect platform to let them in on the news. You know, pictures are better than phone calls, right? I think so.

This is our first. Well, sort of…

See, the only subject more taboo than personal finance that I’ve come across ever in my life is miscarriage.

Few talk about it. Even the doctors get all hush-hush like it’s a big secret or something. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s made out as if it never happens to anyone.

Simply not true — we’ve had a few. More than one and less than five.

Use your imagination.

Essentially, it was enough to make two pink (or blue) lines on a stick a rather uneventful occurrence in our house, you know, it didn’t give me that “Oh Crap! I’m screwed!” feeling or that “Sweet! This is going to be awesome!” feeling either.

Hopeful but indifferent… I think that’s a pretty good description of my feelings…

The last couple were within a few months of one another — really, making it almost a routine. Yep, you’re pregnant again. Maybe this one will stick? We’ll cross our fingers…

Remember that blood test that I had a few months ago? Yeah… that was to see if we were, well, just broken or first cousins or something…

Actually, I’m not 100% sure what the point of it was, but the good news is that everything came back as it should have.

There wasn’t/isn’t any thing wrong with us.

And now this is the result.

I’m pretty excited.

Not as excited as I probably should be since we’ve had a few disappointments in the recent past, but I havta say, it was pretty freaking cool seeing an alien like creature dancing around on that black and white monitor.

This picture kinda sucks — I wish they’d given us a DVD or something because the video was really funny. Legs kicking, arms flailing… It was like a poorly executed YMCA dance.

Use the Force, Luke...My wife claims that she can’t feel anything, but if I had something the size of a StarWars figure rocking out to the Village People inside of me, I like to think that I’d be able to tell…

It was also funny how, when the doctor came in (after 15 minutes of us sitting in the dark wondering if he was ever actually going to come in — I love being left in the dark. Literally…), without even looking at me, he asked my wife if I was the “support partner”…

The what?

Support partner?

I don’t know, I guess they see a lot of people who aren’t married in there these days, and that’s fine, but I still think it would have been a safe assumption to at least ask if I was the father, if not, the husband. Or maybe even just look at me?

But “support partner”? C’mon…

I was almost offended by the political correctness of the whole thing. It bordered on rude. Needless to say, it was awkward when it didn’t really need to be.

I mean, really, picture this: Two people, one male, one female, roughly the same age, at an ultrasound appointment…

Is it really a stretch to think that they might be the prospective mother and father?

I should hope not.

Anyway, with all of the swings and misses we’ve had on this front, the best news is that we’re already *very* prepared for this.

Financially, anyway…

Can You Dig It?

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