That is what my baby has been up to for the past few hours, and I'm having fun watching her belly hop.

I lean back in my desk chair and watch the outline of my tummy. It randomly jumps and wiggles like an animated Jell-o Jiggler.

It's lots of fun to watch and even more fun to feel from the inside.

Now, if I could just figure out how to get my belly to stop jiggling once she is born...a way that doesn't involve diets or exercising.

Hey, a girl can dream!
My friend Evelyn's husband had pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital last week, so my other friend Mary K and I decided to pay them a visit yesterday afternoon. We agreed to meet in the hospital lobby at 4:30 PM and walk to Rex's room together. However, hospital construction workers had other plans for us.

I left work around 3:45 to pick up Liberty and Kimmie and drive over to the hospital. There have been several town announcements regarding the temporary parking situation and alternative entrances to the hospital due to construction over the last month or so, but I have had no plans to visit the hospital for any reason. Therefore, I have not paid much attention to that information.

As I drove past the town square, I recognized Mary K walking towards a row of shops. I waved, but she did not notice me. I continued on my way to pick up Liberty, and I thought about where Mary K could possibly be headed. That row of shops includes a shoe store, meat market, bakery, Christian bookstore, sewing store, gift shop, home decorating shop, along with a cafe and other miscellaneous businesses. Keeping in mind that we were about to visit a friend in the hospital, I concluded that she must be stopping off at the Christian bookstore to pick up a card or a small gift. I enjoy puzzles, so I looked forward to meeting up with her at the hospital and finding out if my deduction was correct.

Liberty began dancing when I showed up at Chris's house to take her with me. She and I danced in circles together, and Chris told me how Liberty had tried to repeat every word that one of Chris's daughters had used that day. We laughed and talked for several minutes. Kimmie called to ask if she could go to her friend's house to work on a science project instead of going to the hospital with us. I agreed, and Liberty and I drove over to the hospital alone, singing at the top of our lungs all the way there.

Signs posted at the regular front entrance to the hospital guided me around the building to a back parking lot where Liberty and I parked. We entered through the back door and found a pleasant, smiling lady seated at a temporary desk. I told her who we had come to visit, and she immediately told me his room number. This surprised me. I had expected her to have to check her computer or call someone to find that information.

Small town. Stop being surprised, Missy. I told myself with a grin. Then I decided to further test her brain. "My friend Mary K is supposed to meet me here. Do you know if she's already come?" Without any hesitation, the receptionist responded, "She hasn't been here yet. Are you going to wait for her, or just go on up to see Rex and Evelyn yourself?"

"I'll wait." I decided. Liberty and I walked over to the waiting area. An older lady with curly white hair smiled at Liberty, and Liberty piped up with a bright, "Hi!" and a huge smile before running to the three wheelchairs parked against the wall. She happily climbed up and down in the chairs, stopping to greet cheerfully any person who entered the waiting area. She also made sure that she told them "Bye!" and waved if they appeared to be leaving. Of course, she was a big hit with everyone there.

Around 4:50, I decided that Mary K must have found another way in, and Liberty and I trekked up to Rex's room. Liberty LOVED traveling in the elevator. Her eyes grew wide with wonder when the floor felt like it was dropping out from beneath us, and the reassuring clunks and vibrations of machinery caused her to look at me for an explanation. I so enjoy hanging out with her!

Liberty stopped at every doorway and called, "Hi!" to each room's inhabitant. Some did not notice her, but the ones who did smiled and weakly waved back. At first, I worried that she would bother the patients, but I quickly realized that she was doing a great job of bringing joy. At Rex's room, we paused in the doorway and looked around. Evelyn was not there, and Rex appeared to be sleeping in his chair with the TV on.

"Hi!" Liberty called, but Rex did not stir. "Hello," I said cheerfully and knocked on the metal door jam. Rex did not stir. We took a few tentative steps into his room. I cleared my throat. "Hi, Rex." I tried again. No response. I stood uncertainly in the middle of the room. Would it be better to wake him up or let him sleep?

That's a no-brainer. In my house, I would ALWAYS want someone to LET ME SLEEP!

Together, Liberty and I tip-toed out of the room. The nurse at the end of the hall waved gaily at us as we passed her again. "That was an awfully quick visit." She commented, "Who did you see?"

"Rex," I answered, "But he is asleep, and Evelyn wasn't there."

"Evelyn's not there? That's unusual, she's probably just gone for a short walk. She'll be right back, and I know she'll be sorry that she missed you. As for Rex sleeping, he doesn't need to sleep when visitors are here. He's got all night long to sleep. You just march right in there and wake him up." She commanded us.

I hesitated.

"I'll wake him for you," she stated as she stood up from her desk chair. She quickly led the way back to Rex's room, and Liberty and I scurried to catch up.

"Re-ex!" she sang out loudly as she passed the threshold to his room. "You have visitors!" She knocked loudly on the door, then the wall, then the foot board of the bed.

Rex's head started up from his chest, and he shakily raised himself in his chair. "Hi," his gravelly voice sounded from behind his lips. He cleared his throat.

Liberty stared at him and immediately her thumb popped into her mouth. "Say 'hi', Liberty," I instructed, fully expecting a cheerful sound to emanate from her tongue.


"Liberty, are you going to say hi to Mr. Rex?" I asked.

She stared in silence.

She remained silent and immobile the entire time we chatted in his room...until she found his pink, plastic water pitcher resting on the rolling table. She began climbing onto the bed in order to reach the pitcher full of water, and I had to drag her repeatedly back down to the floor. Then she stood quietly in the middle of the room until I had been lulled into a false sense of security. Without warning, she dashed out of the door and was halfway down the long hallway before I could catch up with her.

I scooped her up and brought her back, telling her that she needed to stay inside the room. As soon as her feet touched the floor she had flown out of the door again and down the hall. I retrieved her. This time telling her firmly, "No. You stay here with Mommy and Mr. Rex." She complied.

For 28.3 seconds.

Which, if you are counting, is enough time for me and my pregnant belly to plop ourselves back down into the comfy chair and become unwary because Liberty is usually pretty obedient. But who's counting?

Eventually, Evelyn breezed into the room, and she and Liberty got along famously. This gave my now sweaty body a chance to dry off and resume a normal breathing pace.

When we got up to leave, Evelyn pointed to a plastic bag sitting on the bed and said, "Don't forget your bag."

"Oh, I thought it was your bag," I responded. "It was here when Liberty and I arrived."

Curiously, Evelyn and I peered into the bag. It contained goodies from the bakery on the town square, and suddenly, TRUTH hit me!

"Mary K has been here!" I gasped. "She must have come up before we did, and she left this package of goodies for you and Rex. He must have been sleeping when she showed up, and you were gone." I told Evelyn all about our plans to meet in the (front) lobby, and how they were thwarted by the posted signs that ordered us to go to the back. "She must have found a way to sneak into the front." I surmised. I could not wait to get home and call Mary K to verify my theory.

Over the phone later that night, Mary K and I giggled as we realized we had missed each other by just a few minutes on our ways in and out of Rex's room, and we decided next time not only to synchronize our watches, but also to pick a better rendezvous point.
So sorry to my VAST supply of readers who have been left hanging...or drowning as DeAnn wittily pointed out.

A few questions to answer before I blog:

1. Our baby is a girl.
2. I did not venture out into the rain. My wimpy toes refused to leave the warm office.
3. I have considered putting a poll up on the blog just for fun to show what baby names we are considering, but I don't know how to do that. (If any of you know, please tell me.)

And now on to my blog...

I am really enjoying today. I wore sandals again because I have die-hard summer-itis. The weather man told me in the car this morning that it's supposed to be around 29 degrees this afternoon. So yeah, great choice made once again by the amazing Missy. Please call me when you are dressing in the morning, and I can help you choose "what not to wear."

However, from inside, it looks nice and warm. The sky is a beautiful, bright blue dotted with cotton balls, the sun shines merrily through the lace curtains on my office windows, creating dancing patterns of joy on the desk and floor.

Liberty presented me with a surprise the other day. I changed her diaper and found a metal barrette that had swum its way through her intestines. The paint had detached from the barrette and formed a secondary barrette shape reminiscent of a snake and its newly shed skin. I stared at the foreign object in disbelief and at first wondered if she might have stuffed it into her diaper manually. Then I realized that she was wearing a diaper, a onsie, pants and a shirt, and that she had not been out of my sight long enough to lodge a barrette underneath all of those layers without my noticing. I concluded that she must have swallowed the barrette, but how long ago, I am uncertain! I've been keeping a close watch on all of our hair accessories since then, and I have found that she has a preference for the taste of those metal barrettes on her tongue. We've started joking that she must have a copper or iron deficiency! (I wonder what type of metal those things are made out of.)

This week leads up to Tulip Time in our town, and I am so excited! Already the strains of the high school band practicing outside have floated to my ears through the window. I dream of poffertjes, vetbollen, frozen cookie dough and hot fries loaded with cheesy sauce. I remember colorful costumes and clomping wooden shoes as they dance in the middle of the street and buckets of water splashed onto the pavement just before the lighted parade marches through town at twilight. I anticipate new adventures and silly snippets of conversations overheard and Liberty's wonder at a new experience. She was only nine months old during last year's Tulip Time. I can't wait to see her face as she witnesses the party and the people this year!
Imagining lush, velvety, green grass in my front yard makes me sigh happily and smile at the rain drops falling, falling, falling from the sky.

I want to explore the world outside of the office for lunch even though I brought a lunch from home, but Jeremy's truck wouldn't start (due to the rain) so he has my van today...and I wore sandals because this morning, I couldn't stand the thought of imprisoning my feet in enclosed shoes. Now, I think of the warmth and comfort of said enclosed shoes, and I recant my earlier position.


Do I or don't I venture out into the cold, wet world in search of lunch?

My growling tummy will determine the answer.
Ah, a slightly drizzly day here in Iowa, the land of a thousand weathers. Slept last night with the heat off and a window open. So lovely! And Jeremy even rubbed my back in the middle of the night when he came home. Aahhhhhh!

I am extremely hungry. I believe I will stop to eat my lunch right now.

Well, I'm back. On Tuesday, I cooked a turkey in the crock pot for supper. That turned out to be the easiest turkey ever. I plopped it in, still frozen even, in the morning, and when we returned that night, supper was finished. Moist, delicious turkey that fell apart when touched. Mmmmm! (one of Liberty's favorite new words).

Yesterday, I had a turkey sandwich for lunch, and today, I shredded the turkey, added some mayo, a touch of mustard and scooped it onto a warm, leftover biscuit. The only thing missing was a lettuce leaf and a tomato, but it was still wonderfully good. I'm munching on sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon right now.

Statements are completely finished: free at last, free at last! I peered at my calendar this morning with a curious sensation, wondering what in the world I would do with my statement-free day, and I found many items stacked up to be worked on. I prioritized them, and now I am ignoring them.

Just kidding.

I have been slowly checking them off my list, and it just feels good to meander through the problems one at a time.

I gave Liberty her first dose of allergy medicine last night, and I expected to hear her breathing deeply and un-obstructively over the baby monitor last night, but instead I heard her wake several times to cough. This morning, her nose was coated in a lovely layer of crusted...well, you know. I was sad to see this, and I wonder if the allergy medicine has to build up in her system before it starts working?

She cried this morning when I dropped her off at the babysitters. I wanted to cry too. Instead, I gave her a big hug and told her fervently, "Liberty, I love you very much." She quickly calmed down after that, and smiled her famous Liberty smile. Then she waved at me from the safety of her sitter's arms, "Bye-bye!" she said happily.

Wow, that was abrupt.

So I smiled and waved back at her.

Kimmie will be graduating next year. This reality hit me suddenly the other day when the school sent a paper home requesting that I sign off on her classes for her senior year of high school.

Her senior year of high school! This is not right.

I told her so, and she wanted to know why. "Well, because it means my baby is leaving me." She laughed and answered, "I've only been here two years."

"I know," I sniffed, "but it feels like you've always been here."

She soberly replied, "I know. It is hard to believe, isn't it?"

Oh sigh. I wanted to end on a happy note....although, in reality, Kimmie's graduation is a happy note.

Hmm, what else?

Jeremy and I are struggling to pick the right middle name for our new baby. We have a first name just about solidified, but of course it depends on finding a middle name that flows along with it. My biggest problem is I don't choose names based only on whether I like them or not. I want my children's names to have meaning so that one day I can sit down with them and say, "I named you this because these are the types of things I want to be important in your life." I currently have two middle names that I really like, but Jeremy isn't quite sold on them. He is looking for light, fairy-sounding names, but he hasn't yet suggested one that he really likes. So we continue to ponder...
I can finally see the light, and I'm heading straight towards it.

At the end of each quarter, we (or rather I) create all of the quarterly statements by hand. Right now, I have only nine statements left to create and mail, and I can feel that uplifting sensation of almost-doneness. (Hee! Now, don't you like that word?) Instead of plugging away and postponing my blogging until the statements are finished, I decided to take a quick break and just WRITE!

I'll finish the rest of the statements this afternoon...I hope.

Today is such a gorgeous day! I dressed Liberty in cute jeans and a long-sleeved play shirt so that she could dig in the sandbox at Chris' house, and while I dressed her, I imagined spending my day in the sandbox too. How fun it was to be a kid! No work. No kids. No responsibilities.

Of course, now I enjoy my life more than I did then, so I'm not wishing to go back. I would like to have just one day, though, to spend in the sandbox.

But it's okay. I'll settle for the joyfulness of seeing the light at last!
My boss Craig is so VERY Dutch: a term which has become synonymous in my mind with extreme thriftiness.

Exhibit A:

This town has an endearing tradition of handing out funeral cards to all of the businesses in town whenever someone has passed away. Almost every day, the little bell above our front office door jingles and the visitor sings out "Funeral Card" in a cheerful way. Sometimes, Craig and I will poke our heads out of our offices to greet the card deliverer and sometimes we just holler "Thank you!" from our desks. Eventually, one or the other of us will wander up to the front desk to read out loud the newest card deposited there. Since Jeremy and I have only lived near this town for two years, most of the time Craig has to fill me in on who the person is and who their various family members are. Although, recently, I have been happy to be able to identify some last names myself and connect them to other last names that I recognize. (Morbid, I know.) As clients arrive, they invariably stop to read the card and to comment on the deceased person or the family members of the deceased person.

"Oh, I see Eva finally died. She's been in the hospice house for several years now. I wonder what her son is going to do with his time? You know he spent most of it by her bedside. We're going to need to stop by and check on him in the next couple days. He's a gardener, isn't he? I think if we brought him a few cuttings from our garden, it might help him fill in some time while he gets used to life without Eva around now."

I love listening to the stories townsfolk can tell about each other at this time, and I especially love listening to the care in their voices for their neighbors and friends.

Most funeral cards show a picture of the recently deceased along with basic stats like age, surviving family members' names, sometimes a tidbit of information about their life, date and time of memorial service and burial, where you can send money/flowers/memorial donations.

The first few times when Craig handed me miscellaneous notes about a client scribbled on the back of a funeral card I was taken aback. How should I react? Shouldn't that card be reverenced somehow? Now that I am used to opening files and finding funeral cards with scribblings on the back, it doesn't affect me so abruptly. I have to smile, amused at the infernal thriftiness of these Dutch, but it also seems respectful in it's own way to re-use these cards as scrap paper. I suppose I have to explain that thought process.

First, the very fact that the cards are handed out brings you face to face on a daily basis with the meshing of life and death. Death becomes not so remote, instead it is treated as an on-going part of life. You grieve. You comfort your neighbors. You face the details. You get through the rough spots together. You move on slowly and naturally.

Second, they are DUTCH, and the very best way to celebrate their life is to recycle their funeral card so that they are still productive and useful even after they have passed on. Maybe that is way over thinking (which is what I'm best at), but it makes sense to me.

It is right, it is respectful, and you have to admit -- it is funny!