Archive | August, 2011

Just a Little Story I’d Like to Tell

30 Aug

Author: Eric

I read this story the other day and it really stuck with me.  There is just something in a story about a dog – man’s best friend – that opens up a soft spot in my soul.  If you haven’t read it…take a minute to read/watch the story.  To summarize briefly, a fallen Navy SEAL is being eulogized while his canine companion, his friend, lies broken-hearted and faithful at his side.

This made me think about a story that I wanted to share.  It has a lot to do with family.  It has a lot to do with love.  And it has everything to do with the miniscule moments in life when we actually get to see what somebody is truly all about. 

The summer after my fourth grade year, my parents finally broke down and bought a puppy.  Well, a 1-year-old rescue dog that we stumbled across at the pet store, but nonetheless it was a dream come true for a 9-year-old boy.  Jesse was a mutt, a mix between a beagle and a black lab.  Can’t visualize?  Let me assist…Jesse, in her prime, was a jet black version of a classic beagle…not the overweight beagle you see wheezing around, rubbing its belly against the sidewalk begging for less food and more exercise, but rather the type of beagle you see in one of those old-timey English fox-hunt paintings:

Now, that’s a good looking dog…and if we can get off topic for a second…don’t we all wish we could ride around in one of those sporty red jackets and a top hat?  Why did those fools ever come to America in the first place?

Back on track…unfortunately, this is not a story about Jesse’s life (amazing as it was) but instead it is a story about the day she died, and oddly enough, a story about my dad. 

In the tail end (not a pun) of her life Jesse had grown a number of cysts to go along with the complications of old age.  One of the cysts, about the size of a fist, ruptured on her underbelly causing immense pain when she would eat and even more so when she would lie down.  We immediately took her to the emergency care pet clinic.  There we were told that age and severity would not allow for surgical intervention.  The vet gave us pain meds and told us that a heating pad could do the trick, but it was unlikely.

Sadly, it is true what they say…when a dog knows that it is going to die, it will try to separate from loved ones.  At home that night, Jesse could not lie down from the pain, could not stand from the arthritis, and decided in her own mind that she would head outside to find her peace.

It was December 31st and as frigid as it can get in Indiana on a New Year’s Eve, but Jesse was not going to be alone on her final night.  My father faithfully donned his tattered and faded Carhartts and braved the blistering cold to find his longtime friend.  All of the between-the-legs, upside down belly rubs…the garbage can dodging walks around the neighborhood…the butt-in-the-air welcomes…the stolen ears of corn and missing potatoes…those were more important, those were warmer than the snow-covered backyard. That night, my dad sat down next to Jesse, as she had finally found comfort, and stayed with her until the end.

I read that story last week and couldn’t stop thinking about that night my dad went out in the freezing, December cold and comforted our dying dog.  I thought about what I would do.  Would I have the… “balls”…to freeze my balls off like that?  I thought about what I wrote last week…about being afraid of the things that I could do wrong.   Strangely, I began to feel a little solace.  A little calm.  There are probably a thousand other moments that could define my father.  His family.  His work.  His dedication.  But that moment, those few hours in the crisp winter evening tell me everything I need to know:  If I can be  half of the dad that puts on Carhartts and sits with Jesse…I’m gonna be alright!

If you have a few spare minutes in your day…take the time to read that story.  It is a great piece on an American hero and the friend that will always love and remember him.

Me & Jesse

16 Weeks

26 Aug

Here I am at 16 weeks! Took this photo this morning as soon as I woke up (hence the side pony & unwashed face not looking at the camera) so that’s definitely an accurate representation of what the belly is looking like these days since I hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet. Speaking of eating, I’m now hungry ALL. THE. TIME. And speaking of hungry, I’m going to go raid the fridge as soon as I’m done writing so I can feed this little tyke before heading off to work. Recently all I’ve wanted for breakfast is Lucky Charms – I can’t remember prior to this week the last time I had Lucky Charms, but they are “magically delicious” indeed.

According to the app on my phone our baby is supposed to have a growth spurt sometime between 16 and 18wks old so I should start to gain anywhere from .5 to a full pound per week! I have been feeling the ligament stretching on the sides of my belly that my doc warned me about so I definitely ran to the store arms flailing to buy some heavy duty cocoa butter. Weight gain doesn’t bother me that much because it’s expected, and while hard work to get it off, it can be done. Stretch marks however haunt me because I’m afraid once they are there it’s like a tattoo you decided to get one night in Panama City Beach after too many margaritas – that baby ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

Hope ya’ll have a fabulous weekend, only a week and a half  left until we find out if what I’m carrying will pee standing up or sitting down 🙂 Eeeee, can’t wait!

In case you missed previous baby bump pics: 8wks, 12wks

A Few Thoughts from Dad

21 Aug

Well, I guess my wife was right in the fact that I am 1/2 as responsible for the reason behind this blog so I better get my sorry butt in line and start posting.  Unfortunately, I can’t use the patented ‘I hate writing excuse’ since we both received English degrees from the same university…I knew that would come back to haunt me somehow, someday!

I was thinking about how I would introduce myself to the blogosphere, more importantly this specific realm, and I thought what better way than to attack a few of the emotions that I am harboring through this process.  You hear so much about how a woman feels through her pregnancy…don’t get me wrong, I am not downplaying the severity of hormonal changes and a life form growing inside of you….I am simply saying that my mind is racing, too.

EXCITEMENT
I am a 27-year-old kid and now I get to have a kid myself.  Everytime we drive by a Toys-R-Us or a Chuck E. Cheese I quietly think to myself how awesome it is going to be to get to go to those places again.  Disney World…book it!  Playground…done!  Playdates…we will tear those things up.  Playdates will never be the same.  Having a kid may not be all Sand Castles and Awesomeness all the time, but that doesn’t mean me and my offspring can’t rock out those times when they roll around!

NERVOUSNESS
Do you know the feeling you get right after you walk out of an important job interview?  You think, man I wish I would have said that different, or why in the hell did I wear that stupid tie.  You analyze every little question to the very microscopic depth of its meaning to the point that not one single answer you gave sounds remotely close to being right.  The tension, that terror is what I go through everyday of this pregnancy.  Did we do everything right?  Is Mel eating the right foods?  Should I have taken more vitamins as a kid?  Do you think that 20th shot on my 21st birthday will stunt his/her growth?  Will they ever make ‘Alf:  The Movie’ and do you think they just made “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” so Kelly and Zach would get married?  I don’t care whether we have a healthy baby boy or a healthy baby girl, I just pray we have a healthy baby!

FEAR
That’s right, fear.  I think if any dad says he wasn’t a tad afraid of the road ahead then I think they are kidding you.  There are no parental roadmaps and I will always have a little fear about making the right decision for my child, but thankfully I have an amazing family to show me a few detours and shortcuts to help me along the way.

FINALLY…ANTICIPATION
Well, of course!  I can’t wait till February, but I will enjoy the ride to get there.  I have never been huge on picking out room decorations, clothes, or window treatments, but suddenly it doesn’t sound all that bad…don’t tell my wife I said that!

Q & A

17 Aug

Just like when I proclaimed to family and friends I was engaged, (How did he propose? What is the date? Who are your bridesmaids? What are your colors?) informing people we’re pregnant elicits many standard questions that I’m sure I’ll answer thousands of times over by the time Mini Matto makes his or her appearance. In order to perhaps save a breath or two, I thought it would be fun to fill out a little questionnaire and answer some of those dire questions in depth that people seem to want to know.

1. Was it planned?

In short, yes. But as to how we got there, Eric and I made a deal (or rather I agreed to Eric’s offer) that when we got married we would wait until our one-year anniversary before we even entertained if we were ready to start trying for a baby. Let’s just say that Eric knows me pretty well. Well enough to know that if we didn’t discuss and settle on a “start date” from the get-go then I would be asking him “ok, are you ready now?” every other day once the ring was on my finger without regard to whether or not we were actually ready (mentally or financially).  Besides wanting to have a bit of a “baby savings” in the works, Eric also wanted to give our newly married selves time together. In fact, the reason that won me over to wait at least a year was because I thought it was cute that he said he wanted to be selfish for a while and have me all to himself before adding a little one – I mean, how could I say “no” to that? And in hindsight I am very appreciative of the quality time we’ve had together sans baby. So on our first anniversary (July 2010) you would think I would have been chomping at the bit, but an opportunity came up to take a week long cooking trip in Italy in June of 2011. So after thinking it over and realizing I have plenty of time to have a child, however may not be able to take this trip ever again I decided I would be ok waiting another 6 months (making it December 2010), for the baby making to begin because for one, I didn’t want to have a newborn right before leaving for Italy and two I couldn’t be in my third trimester and travel that far. So if we started in December and happened to get pregnant right away then the furthest along I could be was 6 months and I was happy with that.

2.      Did it take you long to get pregnant?

Obviously due to the previous question you know we started trying last December; however we did have one unfortunate occurrence along the way. First, Eric and I found out that we seem to be pretty fertile (high-five, go us!) as we actually got pregnant by the end of January after trying less than two months. Unfortunately on March 8th, at 7 weeks along I suffered a miscarriage. This was obviously very sad and disheartening, especially since we hadn’t had a child yet I was worried that maybe it was a sign that we couldn’t. But going through the miscarriage educated both of us a lot and how much more common they are than I was previously aware of. My doctor (who is absolutely great, by the way) let me know that it’s just something that happens and how he doesn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to have a child. After opening up to a few friends and family here and there about the miscarriage it was overwhelming (in a wonderful way) to hear all their stories of people they know that went through the same thing, but still got to experience raising a child. All of this helped Eric and I get through that difficult time. After the miscarriage we had to give my body a couple months before we could start trying again, but in May we decided we were ready for round 2 and were taken completely by surprise when we were blessed with another positive pregnancy test in our hands on May 30th! Talk about your quick turn-around!

3.      Are you going to find out the gender before birth?

This was never a point of disagreement between Eric and I. We both agree that whether you find out at 18wks or 40wks it is still a surprise either way, so if you can find out before you go into labor than why not? I’m a planner by nature and want the nursery to have hints of boy or girl and I would like to receive/buy clothes that are not only yellow and green. Plus, I think it’s great to be able to better imagine what the baby looks like and to be able to talk & connect with them as a boy or girl prior to birth and call them by their name. And I’m tired of referring to this growing human as an “it” or baby” and no cutesy nickname, like “peanut” or “bean” has stuck for us. Maybe I’ll change my mind on our second child, but for the first we want to be prepared for whatever we can. We find out boy or girl on September 7th – so right around the corner! Can’t wait!

4.      Do you have names picked out?

Yes and I’m not shy about sharing! Right now I know approximately a billion pregnant people – ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there really are a lot and so I feel the need to stake my claim on the names. I may or may not stalk facebook when I see someone has given birth so I can breathe a sigh of relief when they chose a name that wasn’t on the top of my list. The one thing I did want to do though was not announce the name until we had it decided. I don’t like asking people for their opinion on a set of names because you usually end up getting an earful on how they know someone with that name and they were like a serial killer or a horrible ex or something to that nature.  Or you get someone who is too nice and just says they all are cute and you’re left where you began. Anyways, we have names so I’m ready to share! If we have a boy he shall be called:

PARKER THOMAS MATTINGLY

I’ve had the first name picked out since college and Thomas is Eric’s middle name as well as his dad’s first name. If you do the math you’ll realize I had Parker picked out prior to Eric and I even dating. It was a deal breaker on whether I married him or not …. I’m kidding, although I would have been crushed had he hated it. Luckily I convinced him that Park Mattingly would be a sweet name for a baseball player – plus I mean if it’s a boy the kid is going to be a “Matto” eventually so why should he even care what the first name is?

Moving on, we have a first name that we favor for a girl but have yet to decide on a middle name. So what we’re working with so far is:

AVERY ______ MATTINGLY

I texted Eric one day while he was home on summer break and I was at work and was like “Operation Baby Name: You have until when I get home to put together a list of girl names. There are too many pregnant people out there and we need to figure this out.” Since I took the liberty of choosing the boy name I wanted him to try and come up with the girl name. Frankly, I thought this would end badly and I would have to break his heart, but besides “Elsa,” which even he wasn’t sure why in the world he wrote that down, I must admit he had a pretty good list. His favorite though was Avery and after trying it out it quickly became mine too. The middle name will also be family related, but we’re still in the works as to what we feel fits.

Ok, I ended up writing way longer answers than I intended so I’m going to stop there for now so you can get back to your regularly scheduled programming. However, if you have a question feel free to leave it in the comments below and I would be happy to answer! I may eventually do a Part II of this Q&A if needed.  Thanks for making it to the end!

“Start Spreading the News…”

9 Aug

While Eric and I were both equally excited to tell our friends and family that we were expecting, we both had different ways of doing so. Really it comes down to the difference in a man’s personality verse a woman’s if you ask me. I pointed it out once how all he does is get to the point right away and not build up any excitement or surprise and he was basically like, “guys don’t talk to each other like that.” Therefore, all of Eric’s conversations would go as such:

Eric: Hey, by the way, Mel’s pregnant

Friend: That’s awesome. Congrats! [insert witty comment referring to Eric’s man parts working properly]

Eric: Yea, we’re pretty excited.

Friend: Was it planned?

Eric: Yea

Friend: Sweet. Let’s go drink a beer.

Eric: Sounds good. Mel can be the DD!

I, on the other hand, liked to make a comment out-of-the-blue that forced them to come to the realization on their own and being like, “Wait, what? You’re pregnant?!?” before jumping up and down, flapping their arms and getting all emotional like girls tend to do.

Example 1:

Scene: Seeing my mom as she arrived to the airport before our flight left for Italy.

Mom: You look like you’re losing weight.

Me: Well that’s weird because I should be gaining weight

Example 2:

Scene: Walking around the leaning tower of Pisa with my mother-in-law

Deb: I’ve seen so many cute things I want to buy while in Italy.

Me: So have you given any thought as to what souvenir you’re going to buy for your grandbaby?

But my favorite example has to be how I told my best friend, Christiana. I had ample time to plan this one. Christiana lives in Indianapolis and she knew that Eric and I were ready for a baby so it was hard to catch her off guard since usually her first question was always, “Are you pregnant yet?” Finally at one point I told her Eric and I weren’t going to start trying until after I got back from Italy so that I didn’t have to worry about morning sickness and I also told her that no matter what I wasn’t going to tell her if I was pregnant until I was 12wks along so she may as well stop asking. Honestly, I probably would have told Christiana much earlier than 12wks but during her break from teaching Christiana flew to her parents house in Connecticut for the summer and I knew it would be worth it to wait and tell her in person. So in late July Christiana finally returned from her trip and we planned a reunion dinner with our other close friends, Breena & Jessica. I had told Breena the news right when I got back from Italy and because Breena needs to work on her poker face Jessica knew as well. 🙂

Luckily, Christiana never questioned Breena or Jessica about the possibility of me being pregnant because in her head the earliest there would ever be news would be sometime in September since she didn’t think we were even trying for a baby until mid June.

So the plan. Since Breena already knew the news I roped her in on how I wanted to tell Christiana. Basically I was going to bring my camera to dinner (which is nothing new, I always have my camera on me) and I was going to say, “Say cheese!” and then take a pic of Breena and Jessica. I was then going to hand my camera over the Breena and ask her to take a pic of Christiana and I. Instead of saying, “Say cheese!” Breena was going to say, “Say Mel’s pregnant!” and then snap the pic and hopefully capture Christiana’s surprised expression. Besides forgetting to set my camera on an “action/sports setting” to deter blurriness – since obviously there was going to be much movement when she found out – the plan worked flawlessly.  Here is the plan in motion:

“Say cheese!”

“Say Mel’s pregnant!”

Post college I never thought Christiana and I would live in the same city again, but I am so extremely happy & blessed that she will be here for Eric & I’s new journey. She is going to be an amazing “aunt” that will not only make sure my child is never out of style but will also teach him/her how to properly make flash cards to help them study in school. Love you!

12 Weeks

6 Aug

July 29th I hit the 12 week mark! I finally have a little bump  – or it could be indigestion, but I’ll take it either way

8 Weeks & Baby Bump Picture Rundown

4 Aug

My name is Melissa and I’m addicted to Pinterest.

I always knew I wanted to take monthly photos of my bump as it progresses and Pinterest makes life much easier as I browse the interwebs for ideas. So anytime I came across an idea that someone else had to capture their bump I made sure to pin it to my “Photography Ideas” folder. After much browsing and pinning I found my inspiration:

I loved the simpleness of the background. How she was wearing a dress that would grow with her and not a tank top & yoga pants like a lot of moms-to-be seem to wear in their monthly photos – not there is anything wrong with wearing that, it’s just since I’ll probably be wearing a tank top and yoga pants most of my pregnancy, it would be nice to be fancy once a month. Plus when baby looks back I dont want him or her to be like, “wow mom. woof.” Finally, I liked the subtle way she incorporated the seasons or time of year so even though you don’t know the exact date you can tell that she was probably due in spring. Well and it should go without saying I love that she included her dogs. Done and done.

So I went and bought a dress and spray painted the glass on a dollar store picture frame with chalkboard paint and attached a yarn handle for my sign. I also decided I wanted my pictures to be taken outside in front of our fence. It’s much better lighting for photography and the dress I picked out can easily be worn with stretch pants and even a long sleeve shirt once it gets cold. When I told Eric my idea he slightly shook his head, but baby mama gets what baby mama wants. So I started my monthly tradition at 8wks – which fell on July 1st and gave it a whirl  (after making a flag out of scrapbook paper and a kabob stick to reference Independence Day of course). I also think I’m going to keep my photos in black & white to give each photo a little more consistency – especially since lighting outside fluctuates at different points of the year, time of day, etc – plus, I’m a sucker for anything that looks vintage. So here she blows:

Needless to say I don’t have a bump yet, sorry to bring you this far just to let you down. Obviously at the time of blogging this I am now almost 13 weeks along and therefore have a 12 weeks photo that will be coming to a post near you soon.

Stay fresh and clean people. It’s hot out there. Peace.