Suppose you are pregnant.  What a fun surprise!  How would you tell your friends and family?  How would you tell your husband? 

Those of you who are lucky enough to own a blog could simply announce it in a post:  I am pregnant. 

There, that got the job done.

But how boring is that?  (I mean, other than the news itself, of course.)  No, Post Announcing will never do.

Facebook makes it easier, because then you can quietly post a photo of your home pregnancy test and wait for the reactions.

Possibly a better way to get the word out is to change your profile picture to your baby's ultrasound picture.  That way, if anyone misses the original posting, four months later when they finally notice your tiny profile pic while scrolling through their news feed, they'll quickly jerk the scrolling to a stop, crawl back up the page and squint at it for a bit.  What is that?  Then they'll click on your name to enlarge the photo to confirm, yes, that really is an ultrasound picture.  (Good thing the ultrasound technician thought to label it "baby.")  Then they'll wonder, "How long that has been there without my noticing?  Will I look like a terrible friend if I congratulate her now after that picture has been there for who knows how long?"  You may cause a slight panic attack in your more prone-to-worrying friends, but hey, at least you'll get the word out, right?

When I found out I was pregnant with Liberty almost seven years ago during an annual doctor's check-up, I was flabbergasted to say the least.  Later that afternoon at work, I couldn't keep it secret, and I told everybody in my department and a few people I passed in the hallways.  I felt a little bad that I wasn't telling Jeremy or my family first.  After all, Jeremy had a lot to do with it and would have a lot more to do because of it, but I just couldn't keep the news to myself.  I ended up leaving work slightly earlier than usual so I could prepare for the big reveal.

First I stopped off at a Hallmark store (because really, if Hallmark can't figure out how to say it, it doesn't need to be said, right?)  I found the perfect card with a picture of an adorable teddy bear on the front.  The inside said, "Congratulations!  I heard a little someone new is headed your way."  I signed it "Surprise!  Missy" and tucked it back into it's envelope.  While I was in the store, I noticed a little Willow Tree figurine of a father bent over a newborn in his lap.  It called to me.  When I purchased it, the cashier put it into a box labeled "New Dad."  Oh yeah, that's perfect, I thought!

Next I stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for Jeremy's favorite meal -- I have no memory of what that was anymore -- and I drove home to cook.  When Jeremy walked in the door of our apartment, his plate was already set and the card and statue strategically placed nearby.  "Hello!"  I greeted him with a kiss, helped him take his coat off, and invited him to sit down.  He thought all this strange, so he hesitated, standing behind his chair.  "What's going on?" he asked suspiciously. 

"What do you mean?" I innocently inquired.

"You're acting funny.  What's going on?"

"Nothing's going on.  Just sit down, and I'll serve your food."

He glanced down at his plate and noticed the statue.  He stared at it for thirty seconds.  Then he regarded me for a few more seconds.  "Are you pregnant?"

"What?  Why do you ask that?"

He pointed at the statue sitting on the table.

When I found out I was pregnant with Mercy, I planned to come up with some spectacular way of telling Jeremy, but it turned out that I was mad at him for something when he came home, and so after a few lines of opening conversation I snarled, "You'd better get your act together, because you're a dad again!"

"What?" he snapped back at me.  "Are you trying to tell me you're pregnant?"

"Yes I am!" I retorted, "So you'd better straighten up!"

I don't actually recommend this way of telling your husband.  It did not seem to garner excitement or a sense of anticipation when I tried it out, but you may have better luck with it.

Last month, Jeremy was due back from a business trip, and I sat on the couch trying to think of something unique and inexpensive that would give him the clue when he arrived home.  That's when that scene from Lady and the Tramp popped into my mind where Jim Dear is handing out cigars to everyone to announce his baby.   That's it! 

I ran downstairs to Jeremy's cute boxes stash.  (Jeremy has a thing about boxes.  If the box is smaller than a certain size, he has a hard time throwing it away because it's just too cute.  So, his cute boxes have been banished to his otherwise spotless office where they are stacked neatly in one corner of the room.)  I found the perfect box -- a cell phone box with a lid that flipped open from the side like a cigar box.  I took it upstairs and grabbed a sheet of construction paper to cut into long rectangles and roll into cigars.  Then I wrote "It's a boy!  Or maybe it's a girl!" on tiny strips of paper and tied them to the cigars with blue and pink yarn.  That should do the job, I decided. 

And it did.

What a strange day this has been.  It all started last night...

We were eating salad picked fresh from my friend Calle's garden for supper.  I had rinsed each leaf individually, but apparently I missed a chunk of dirt hidden in the fold of one of the lettuce leaves.  That leaf ended up on my plate, and when I chomped down on it, the clump of dirt resisted my bite.  Pain scorched through my top and bottom molars just in front of my wisdom teeth, and I couldn't finish my supper.

Poor little Mercy Jane had been feeling fine yesterday afternoon, so I planned for her to attend school today.  About twenty minutes into her bedtime last night, she started coughing again, and whining in her sleep, and coughing, and whining.  Around three in the morning, I carried her to my bed so that I wouldn't have to stumble to her room every fifteen minutes to help her calm down.

She slept until 10:30 this morning.  She obviously needed it from lack of sleep the night before.  What was strange, though, was that Liberty -- my morning girl -- also did not wake up until around 10:45.  She left her bed and sluggishly joined us in my bed.  Neither of them wanted anything to eat, even after sleeping for so long, and I wasn't so hungry myself so we stayed quietly lounging/dozing for another forty minutes or so.  Definitely a strange start to the morning, and I wondered to myself if Liberty was getting sick, and if I needed to take Mercy to the doctor or if it was simply a cold.  This whole time, I haven't been able to catch her with a fever.  It's all just congestion and whiny-ness, but only at night.

Around 11:30, we all forced ourselves out of my big bed and ate bowls of granola splashed with milk.  That was when I realized that searing pain in my molars had not diminished.  I couldn't eat my cereal.  Tonguing the offending tooth brought more pain, and I tried to examine it in the bathroom mirror.  Did it look darker in the middle than my other teeth?  Could it be a cavity that was exacerbated by the chunk of dirt at supper time yesterday?  I decided to call the dentist.  (Mainly because we were supposed to have tacos for supper tonight, and they are my favorite.)  Thankfully, the dentist could fit me in at 3:15.

We went to pick up from preschool our friend who I babysit every afternoon.  Sometime between the bowl of cereal and getting dressed, both Liberty and Mercy had perked up and were laughing, smiling and jumping around with no signs of sickness anywhere, so I didn't worry about infecting our friend.  I needn't have worried anyway.  Little T kept to herself, choosing to color quietly at the table rather than play Lady and The Tramp with Liberty and Mercy.  That was definitely a strange occurrence.  The three of them are usually the three musketeers.  After a while, T went down for a nap, and the other two girls sat at the dining room table putting together their fake gingerbread houses for our town's annual gingerbread house decorating contest.

Finally, it was time to go to the dentist.  I had alternated between eagerness to get the pain to stop and fear at what it might take to get the pain to stop all afternoon.  You know what the dentist told me after poking and prodding his way around?  I had pulled a tendon in my tooth.

Say what?  I've never heard of that before.  It's like a sports injury.  Or a workers comp claim.  My tooth was injured in the line of duty.  Apparently, that clump of dirt had briefly pushed my tooth sideways, stretching the tendon that holds the tooth in place.  The tendon immediately pulled the tooth back to where it belonged, but now that tendon needs time to heal.  Poor heroic tendon, injured in the line of duty.  Sacrificing itself without a second thought, and all for the good of just one in the army of teeth chomping voraciously every day.  What a tendon!  Not all tendons are as brave, you know, so I'm very thankful for mine.

Continuing to unwrap my gifts from God today:

7.  A wonderfully gray and blustery day, perfect for staying home from school and snuggling under the covers.

8.  The happy playfulness of my girls with each other, and their sweet attitudes and helpfulness to me all day.

9.  My potentially serious cracked tooth or root canal (in my own mind) turned out to be a heroic tendon that saved the day and only needs a few days to recuperate on its own.

10.  The children's pastor at my church hand-delivered the new quarter's Sunday School curriculum to my front door, saving me a trip and loads of time!  Thank you, Brian!  That was wonderful.

11.  Mercy is obviously feeling much, much better!
So.  I've been reading Ann Voskamp's blog for a few months now. (Because she sends me emails whenever a new post is up.  Anyone who doesn't do that, I rarely get to read no matter how much I want to. *cough* PJ *cough* Suanna)  And I've been pressed again and again in my spirit to start recording the daily gifts God gives me the way Ann does with her 1,000 Gifts List.

I finally started today; the day that Mercy woke us all up with freakish sounds at two in the morning because she couldn't inhale due to congestion, and Jeremy left the house at 5:30 in the morning to catch a flight out to Washington state for a business trip.  The day the girls and I stayed home from church because poor Mercy feels awful, and I had to give my Sunday School class away to another teacher for the morning.  The day I needed to start noticing the good gifts He's constantly giving me.

Here are the gifts I've noticed so far from God.

1. Liberty's exuberant morning happiness as she snuggled her wiggly body as closely as possible to mine under the warm, downy covers this morning.

2. Cocoa covered almonds, mocha-almond granola bars, and throat-stinging apple cider breakfasts.

3. Jetted garden tubs filled with mountains of frothy bubbles that occupy little girls so I can spend some much needed time alone with God.

4. Sunlight sparkling through our leaded glass front door and rainbows painted all over my living room this sunny morning.

5. The cutest lisping sound Liberty's voice makes now that she's missing a top tooth.  I could listen to her forever.

5. Large fireplace hearths that serves as a stage for multiple singing, dancing and acting performances on a daily basis.

6. A soft comfy couch - given to us by friends - that provides an excellent getting-well spot for my resting Mercy Jane.
Jeremy and I have been watching the presidential debates together, the first one with our children.  Four year old Mercy is 100% for Barack Obama, and six year old Liberty is 100% for Mitt Romney.  Jeremy and I grin at each other and ask the girls questions.  "Why do you like him more than the other guy?"

Liberty insists Governor Romney has the best ideas for our country and he wants to do what is right.  Mercy tells us just as emphatically that President Obama is the best one, and no one else should try to be the president when he already is -- that's simply not nice!  Neither one of them will budge from their position.

While I listened to the second debate full of binders and Big Bird, I heard Obama accuse Romney of wanting to cut government funding to Planned Parenthood which offers free mammograms and cervical cancer screenings to women who cannot afford to pay for them (see first 30 seconds of video clip below).

I listened, and I frowned to myself, recalling vaguely somewhere in the back of my mind that Planned Parenthood does not actually provide mammograms and cervical cancer screenings to anyone at all.  Now where had I heard that?

The next day, my friend and I did some research.  Okay, Allie did the research while I asked her questions.  Is that better?  And here is what she found.  After the President's comments at the debate, a group called Live Action investigated Planned Parenthood's claims about mammograms and found that the organization does not -- not anywhere in the United States -- perform mammograms or cervical cancer screenings.  None.  Anywhere.  What the organization does instead is direct women to the state funded program already in place and already being funded by our tax dollars.  Here's the link to that investigation.

My friend Allie was astonished at this finding.  She is part of a women's group that annually raises money to donate to women-related cause.  Up until this past February, they always donated their proceeds to the Susan B. Komen Foundation which supports breast cancer research.  However, last year, Komen quit sending money to Planned Parenthood because they realized PP was simply sending women to other places for anything having to do with breast cancer.  Why should Komen support them when Komen's focus is on breast cancer only?  However, Allie's group did not realize the facts behind Komen's decision, and they chose not to donate their raised funds to the Komen Foundation because they assumed the Foundation's break with Planned Parenthood affected women wanting mammograms.  Here's a link to the research the Susan B. Komen Foundation did when making their decision to drop funding to Planned Parenthood.

With this startling new fact in hand, Allie and I wondered, where can women go who do not have insurance or who are unable to pay for screenings they desperately need?  So, we researched again.  Okay, okay, SHE researched again while I sat back and cheered her on.  Hey, moral support is a big deal, okay?  Here's what we found.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) a service of the US government and funded by tax-payers, is already providing mammograms and cervical cancer screening to millions of under-insured or unemployed or low income women.  The Susan G. Komen Foundation is very actively seeking out organizations to support financially that provide these services to the same women who cannot afford it, and they have a list of them available for anyone looking.  Also, there is an organization called Pink Campaigns that travels with their mobile unit providing free screenings to groups of people at a time and giving classes and other education on early detection signs and prevention.  Locally, there are many hospitals, churches, businesses, etc. who are initiating events like this one to help women in need.

For me, the bottom line turned out to be that President Obama lied during the debate -- cutting tax-payer dollars to Planned Parenthood will not affect women wanting free mammograms or cervical cancer screenings at all.  If a voter's only concern is that mammograms and cervical cancer screenings be available to anyone who needs them, then they should be happy to know that tax-payers are already funding the CDC (Center for Disease Control), an organization that actually IS providing those services that Planned Parenthood is not.