Saturday, June 30, 2012

12 Faces I Hope I Never Make When I'm Not Looking

The "Cross-Eyed About-To-Barf" Face

The "Constipated G-Man" Face

The "Oh, Ick, I Just Ate A Mouse!" Face

The "Farsighted Fish" Face

The "Overly Spray-Tanned Duck" Face

The "Contented Hillbilly" Face

The "I Will Kill Your Puppy Without Blinking An Eye!" Face

The "Collards Fart" Face

The "Child, Please!" Face

The "Shiver Me Timbers" Face

The "Why Did they Have To Cancel 'Terra Nova'?" Face

The "What Do You Mean I'm Too Skinny To Be A Samurai?" Face

Friday, June 29, 2012

More Words I Wish I Wrote: My Favorite LIGHTS Lyrics

Sort of the female version of Owl City, LIGHTS (born Valerie Ann Poxleitner) is a singer/musician of electronica/pop music that – while it's not explicitly Christian in its approach or its target audience – does incorporate many elements of LIGHTS' own profession of faith in Christ. Like Owl City, she's one of my favorites, not just because of her music – which is great, and infectiously listenable – but also because of her lyrics, which are often packed with a variety of emotions – belief, doubt, hope, despair, and the like. Here are some of my favorite lines among her songs. Hope you'll enjoy them as well...

"The night is deafening
When the silence is listening
And I'm down on my knees
And I know that something is missing.
Because the back of my mind
Is holding things I'm relying in
But I choose to ignore it
Because I'm always denying them.
I'm a bit of a manic
When it's not as I plan it
'Cause I start losing my head
Then I get up in a panic.
Remember, when we were kids
And always knew when to quit it?
Are we denying a crisis
Or are we scared of admitting it?
I don't want to know...
I just wanna run to You
And break off the chains
And throw them away.
I just wanna be so much
And shake off the dust
That turned me to rust.
Sooner than later
I'll need a Saviour
I need a Saviour..."
~  "Saviour"

"Stand me up and maybe I won't be so small
Free my hands and feet
And maybe I won't always fall
Save me..."
~  "Saviour"

"You make the darkness disappear
I feel found when you stay near.
I know where I am when you are here
My way becomes so clear.
When you're gone, will I lose control?
You're the only road I know
You show me where to go.
Who will drive my soul?"
~  "Drive My Soul"

"I want to go where you're going
A follower, following
Changing but never changed
Claiming but never claimed..."
~  "Drive My Soul"

"I never really ever know what to say
When all of my emotions get in the way
I'm just trying to get us on the same page.
I always get it better right afterward
When all the wrong impressions are said and heard
How come I can never get the right words
I need to convey? – Wish I could explain..."
~  "The Listening"

"Can I let the trees do the talking?
Can I let the ground do the walking?
Can I let the sky fill what's missing?
Can I let my mouth do the listening?"
~  "The Listening"

"Once in a while
I act like a child
To feel like a kid again.
It gets like a prison in
The body I'm livin' in.
'Cause everyone's watching
Quick to start talking
I'm losing my innocence.
Wish I were a little girl
Without the weight of the world.
It would be nice
To start over again
Before we were men
I'd give, I'd bend
Let's play pretend..."
~  "Pretend"

"It's not going to be long
Before we're all gone
With nothing to show for them.
Stop taking lives – come on
Let's all grow up again..."
~  "Pretend"

"Sing, the last thing on your mind
The last word on your breath.
I'll be the one to keep you
To keep you at your best.
The last thing on your mind
'Cause I don't need your mess
I'll be the one to keep you
One disaster less..."
~  "The Last Thing On Your Mind"

"How many times will the clock go around?
How many times can my hands hit the ground?
How many coffins before there's a crown?
How far will I fall 'til the alarm sounds?
How can you love me when I am ugly?
Guess I can only hope...
Give me a second go
Don't let me go alone
You saw me at the worst
You caught me falling first
All I wanted to know
Give me a second go..."
~  "Second Go"

"No matter the weather, there's never a break
Conquer a ladder, then slip on a snake
Cried 'til my river turned into a lake
And I'm wondering now before it's too late.
How can you save me when I am angry?
Reasons I'll never know..."
~  "Second Go"

"I know you're near me.
I know you understand.
Say that you're with me.
Say you know my face
Like the back of your hands..."
~  "February Air"

"The times you don't wanna wake up
'Cause in your sleep, it's never over when you give up
The sun is always gonna rise up
You need to get up, gotta keep your head up!
Look at the people all around you
The way you feel is something everybody goes through
Dark out, but you still gotta light up
You need to wake up, gotta keep your face up!"
~  "Face Up"

"Be steady on your feet
No matter the trouble you meet.
Lions make you brave.
Giants give you faith.
Death is a charade.
You don't have to feel safe
To feel unafraid..."
~  "Lions!"

"So here's my heart, and here's my mouth
And I can't help if things come out
'Cause there are words I want to shout
But maybe I'll stay low...
I could wait a thousand hours
Stay the same in sun and showers
Pick apart a hundred flowers
Just to be quiet.
Tell me when you feel ready
I'm the one, there's not too many
Hold my hand to keep me steady
Just to be quiet...with you."
~  "Quiet"

"One foot on the ledge
And I'm feeling for safety
Somewhere between sure
And I don't know, maybe..."
~  "Where The Fence Is Low"

"Oh, you capture my attention
Carefully listening
Don't wanna miss a thing
Keeping my eyes on you.
Oh, you capture my attention
I'm anticipating
I'm watching, I'm waiting
For you to make your move
Got me on my toes..."
~  "Toes"

"It's around me, in my surroundings
It counts me when it starts the counting
In the chaos, there is a standard
I'm carrying it like a banner...
So lift it up like a banner
Hold it up over me
It this war is never-ending
I'll take this love down with me..."
~  "Banner"

"We all forget to sleep
And crash at someone's feet
Everybody skips a beat.
We let the chances pass
The few we held so fast
Everybody breaks a glass...
We all pretend to keep
Our tongue out of our cheek
Everyone's the fool they seek.
We all go off the track
And feel for our way back
Everybody breaks a glass...
Somewhere perfection lies
But not for you and I
Everybody trips sometimes.
When cities fall like shacks
Walls eventually crack
Everybody breaks a glass..."
~  "Everybody Breaks A Glass"

"Oh, I'm not a lost cause
I'm just stuck in this spot
And I'm close to falling off
So toss me a heavy rope
It's a slippery slope...
Don't let me tumble away
Into the throes of the shadowy bay
I cling to the rock
And it's crumbling off
Toss me a heavy rope
It's a slippery slope.
Come bail me out of this
Godforsaken precipice..."
~  "Heavy Rope"

"There I was, none the wiser
Both of us, different trajectories
Who'd have thought we'd be right here
In this spot – timing is everything..."
~  "Timing Is Everything"

"If they take my hand
Will it be to burn me, or to say 'amen'?
We beckon, so we can make amends
And with the same flip of the hand
We curse our friends...
It's getting hard to know
If I'm on the tracks, or off the beaten road
When no truth ever easily shows
So I'll follow you no matter where you go...
Where it's all a blur
You are the hard line
In the disorder
You are the peace sign
And when the riots stir
You are the sound mind
And in the disorder
You are the peace sign..."
~  "Peace Sign"

And, last but not least, my favorite LIGHTS 
song, in its entirety... "Cactus In The Valley"

"I never meant to wither
I wanted to be tall.
Like a fool, left the river
And watched my branches fall.
Old and thirsty, I longed for the flood
To come back around
To the cactus in the valley
That's about to crumble down...
And wipe the mark of sadness from my face
And show me that Your love will never change.
If my yesterday is a disgrace
Tell me that You still recall my name.
So, the storm finally found me
And left me in the dark
In the cloud around me
I don't know where You are.
If this whole world goes up in arms
All I can do is stand.
And I won't fight for anyone
Until You move my hand...
And wipe the mark of madness from my face
Show me that Your love will never change.
If my yesterday is a disgrace
Tell me that You still recall my name.
In the shadow, here I am
And I need someone by my side.
It becomes so hard to stand
And I keep trying to dry my eyes.
Come and find me, in the valley...
And wipe the mark of sadness from my face
Show me that Your love will never change.
If my yesterday is a disgrace
Tell me that you still recall my name..."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Words I Wish I Wrote: 25 Quotes About Babies

Yes, I am slightly singularly focused on this one topic lately – except for the Wombats post, that is – but it's understandable, don't you think?  Though this is our third pregnancy, we never got past a few weeks the first two times.  All off this is new and exciting for me and Mary both.  It's on my mind, and on my heart, and that's what I'm going to write about.  A lot.  That being said, I didn't write anything past this paragraph, but I like a lot of the sentiments expressed here.  Some of them just make me laugh.  Hope you'll enjoy them as well. ~ JH
1)  "A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it."  ~  Frank Howard Clark

2)  "A baby is God's opinion that life should go on."  ~  Carl Sandburg

3)  "A man is not complete until he has seen the baby he has made."  ~  Sammy Davis, Jr.

4)  "Carrying a baby is the most rewarding experience a woman can enjoy."  ~  Jayne Mansfield

5)  "Having a baby dragged me, kicking and screaming, from the world of self-absorption."  ~  Paul Reiser

6)  "Having a baby is one of the most wonderful things in your life, as well as the hardest thing in your life."  ~  Nuno Bettencourt

7)  "Here we have a baby. It is composed of a bald head and a pair of lungs."  ~  Eugene Field

8)  "I couldn't wait to look at someone who shared my genes. I thought my baby was going to provide a decoder key to my past. But then I looked at [my child] and realized, no, [she's] actually the key to my future."  ~  Emily Procter

9)  "I knew it was going to be the most extraordinary thing in my life, but how powerful it is, you can never know until you have a baby."  ~  Celine Dion

10)  "If you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn and hatred that a fellow human being can pour out for you, let a young mother hear you call [her] dear baby 'it'..."  ~  T.S. Eliot

11)  "It is a pleasant thing to reflect upon, and furnishes a complete answer to those who contend for the gradual degeneration of the human species, that every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last."  ~  Charles Dickens

12)  "It's extraordinary to look into a baby's face and see a piece of your flesh and your spirit. It makes you realize you are a part of the human race."  ~  Liam Neeson

13)  "Loving a baby is a circular business, a kind of feedback loop. The more you give the more you get, and the more you get the more you feel like giving."  ~  Penelope Leach

14)  "My friend has a baby. I'm recording all the noises he makes so later I can ask him what he meant."  ~  Steven Wright

15)  "Parenthood always comes as a shock. Postpartum blues? Postpartum panic is more like. We set out to have a baby; what we get is a total take-over of our lives."  ~  Polly Berrien Berends

16)  "Make no mistake about why these babies are here – they are here to replace us."  ~  Jerry Seinfeld

17)  "Most of us would do more for our babies than we have ever been willing to do for anyone, even ourselves."  ~  Polly Berrien Berends

18)  "They're not the sharpest people – babies. So you must be everything to them."  ~  Paul Reiser
19)  "Babies don't need a vacation, but I still see them at the [ticks] me off! I'll go over to a little baby and say, 'What are you doing here? You haven't worked a day in your life!'"  ~  Steven Wright
20)  "Everyone knows that by far the happiest and universally enjoyable age of man is the first. What is there about babies which makes us hug and kiss and fondle them, so that even an enemy would give them help at that age?"  ~  Desiderius Erasmus
21)  "Babies have big heads and big eyes, and tiny little bodies with tiny little arms and legs. So did the aliens at Roswell! I rest my case."  ~  William Shatner
22)  "Father asked us what was God's noblest work. Anna said men, but I said babies. Men are often bad, but babies never are."  ~  Louisa May Alcott
23)  "Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit."  ~  Bill Cosby
24)  "It is the nature of babies to be in bliss."  ~  Deepak Chopra
25)  "No one likes change but babies in diapers."  ~  Barbara Johnson

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Heard Your Heartbeat (Poem)

I heard your heartbeat. Now I know that you're real.
I know that's ridiculous, but that's how I feel.
Seeing that first grainy picture six weeks ago –
Proof you were in the right place – that was good to know.
But I needed more to convince me you're still inside.
The signs are all there, but so much is implied.
I needed to see you, but it was still way too soon.
So today as we made our way back to that room
I said a quick prayer that this time we could hear you.
Then the midwife placed her device oh-so-near you
And listened – we listened too – it was so quiet.
But, yes, there it was, and we couldn't deny it!
Ka-thunka, ka-thunka, ka-thunka – your heartbeat –
Tears welling up in my eyes – it was so sweet!
My son or my daughter, I don't even care which
As long as you're healthy – and if not, even then –
I'll love you – I do love you – your mom feels the same
I can't wait to meet you, and call you by name.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Things I Find Fascinating: 10 Interesting Things About Wombats

I'm taking a break from "baby talk" today. Don't worry – there'll be plenty of it to come. I just needed to take a brief respite for some much-needed weirdness. So please indulge me, and maybe even stick with might learn a few things. (Albeit things you may never have a reason or opportunity to put into practice, but still...)

A wombat – much cuter than it sounds, huh?

1)  Wombats live primarily in the forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of Southeastern Australia, including Tasmania, as well as in the Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland.  So, for those of you who were hoping one might suddenly crop up in your back yard, it's probably not going to happen, unless you live Down Under.

Where to go to avoid wombats (anywhere that's not shaded red)

2)  These short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials are mostly nocturnal, but will occasionally venture out to feed on cool or overcast days.  Their diet consists mostly of grasses, sedges, herbs, bark, and roots. So, if you see a wombat at the zoo, you probably won't want to give it the other half of your hamburger. It's strictly a vegetarian.

Grazing wombat (no hidden dragon)

3)  Wombats use their rodent-like front teeth and powerful claws to dig extensive burrow systems.  Being marsupials, they carry their young in a pouch, but the wombat's pouch is backward-facing so that when they dig they will not sling dirt into the pouch over their children. Very considerate of them, don't you think?

Wombats really dig digging

4)  Wombats are slowpokes, in more ways than one. First of all, wombats have an extraordinarily slow metabolism, taking around 8 to 14 days to complete digestion, which comes in handy since they live in generally arid conditions and don't run across food as often as they'd like. Secondly, wombats move slowly in general. However, when a wombat is threatened, all bets are off. Those little boogers can get up to 25 mph and maintain that speed for up to a minute and a half!

5)  Wombats can "donkey-kick" their way out of getting eaten by predators.  Natural prey for dingos and Tasmanian devils (yes, that's a real animal!), pursued wombats retreat to the nearest tunnel, using their rump to block the attacker from reaching them. Sometimes, a wombat will allow an intruder to force its head over their back and will then use their powerful legs to crush the skull of the predator against the roof of the tunnel, or drive it off with two-legged "donkey kicks." Neither of those two options sounds like something I would like to experience, so therefore I will not be pursuing any wombats into their tunnels anytime soon. Not even just to say "hello."

Angry wombats are not to be trifled with.

6)  Speaking of which: Should you ever happen to stumble upon an angry wombat in the wild (or in the zoo), it may be a good idea to scale the nearest tree and wait for the wombat to calm down and/or vacate the area.  Humans can quite easily receive puncture wounds from wombat claws as well as bites. Startled wombats can also charge humans and bowl them over, causing them to break bones in the process, or worse. In 2010, a 59-year-old man from Victoria was mauled by a wombat (thought to have been angered by mange – the wombat, not the man), causing a number of cuts and bite marks requiring hospital treatment.

Bruce "Don't Call Me Kris" Kringle was in the wrong place
at the wrong time, and caught the brunt of a wombat's wrath.

7)  Wombats expel cube-shaped poop.  Because I know you were wondering about that. You weren't? Oh, well... Consider it a bonus!

Wombat poop – kinda looks like a lumpy crab cake.

8)  While wombats are generally quiet animals, they are capable of emitting a variety of interesting noises.  When in the vicinity of a wombat, you might hear them making hissing sounds (when angered), pig-like squeals (for mating calls), grunting noises (when a piece of bark tastes especially good), low growls (when warning you to climb the nearest tree), hoarse coughs (when they're hoarse or during cold season), and clicking noises (just for the heck of it). When sleeping, wombats will sometimes snore as well.

9)  The world's oldest wombat lived to be 34 years and 7 months old.  Carver, a Southern hairy-nosed wombat, who lived at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, passed away on October 1, 2009. No other wombat, in captivity or in the wild, has ever been known to live that long. Being 34 years and 2 months old myself, I am extremely glad right now that I am not a wombat. There are other reasons I'm glad I'm not, but this one's pretty high up on the list.

Carver, oldest living wombat (now dead)

10)  Since 2005, October 22nd has been designated as Wombat Day in Australia.  Though this is an unofficial holiday and no one gets to miss a day of work because of it, most Australians will bow their heads and observe a moment of silence for wombats everywhere at least twice on this day each year. (Okay, I'm making that last part up – so sue me!) In actuality, Wombat Day is used to raise awareness for and to solicit donations for wildlife protection and preservation organizations in Australia – which is a worthy cause indeed.

Wombat orphan "Yango" at a wildlife facility,
where he's being nursed back to health


Monday, June 25, 2012

You Might Have Seen It Coming...

After yesterday's announcement that my wife and I are expecting our first child in January, I thought it only fair to let you know that I've been hinting around about this quite frequently for the past six weeks, both here in my blog posts and in my Facebook status updates. Some of you might have picked up on one or more of these "clues." If you didn't, don't feel bad. I went out of my way to skirt around this greatest-of-all-possible-secrets in the vaguest, least-likely-to-be-discovered ways, so as not to prematurely spill the beans. But I still couldn't resist dropping hints.

In case you missed them, here's a summary of some of the "clues" I've posted since May 11th, the day we found out we were expecting:

1)  TELLING TITLES:  On May 15th, I wrote a story called "Dead Rabbit." Two days later (May 17th), I wrote one called "Renting Out The Guest Room." On May 23rd, I posted a skit called "Waiting For Something." On May 31st, I posted a story called "Table For Three." While none of the content of these stories specifically had anything to do with pregnancy, all of their titles are either common or obscure euphemisms for pregnancy, or they directly refer to the varying aspects of an expanding family.

2)  ALPHA ALLUSIONS:  I've written an inordinate amount of alpha poetry in the past six weeks, and a large chunk of these poems either directly or indirectly referred to our impending parenthood. Just a few examples...

*  The first poem in the May 21st post reads as follows: "An interesting condition you find yourself in and don't wish to find your way out. Could it be something you've long dreamed and hoped for? There seems to be no room for doubt." Not that most people would know this (I didn't beforehand), but the phrase "an interesting condition" is a Victorian Era euphemism for pregnancy. The poem itself expresses our joy at a potentially successful pregnancy after years and years of dreaming, hoping, and praying. 

Another poem in this cycle reads: "Getting even and staying that way is fine for a time. But you find that someday you want more, you long for it, praying to God, that somehow and some way you can go back to odd." This one doesn't scream "we're pregnant," but it does have a deeper meaning. Let's do the math: When you're single, you're one person, and one is an odd number. When you find someone to spend your life with – though the two become "one" – you are still two individuals, and two is an even number. When you have a child, the family of two becomes a family of three, and three is an odd number. And there you have it. 

Yet another poem in this cycle reads as follows:  "Harbor your fugitives, keep them protected. Just act natural, and they'll remain undetected. When the time's right (you can't be too hasty), unfetter tethers and release them to safety." First of all, "harboring a fugitive" is another cutesy-cutesy euphemism for being pregnant, so there's that. Secondly, the whole point of the poem is that – knowing you're pregnant but no one else can know yet – you do all you can to "act natural" until the time is right to break the news. Finally, the "unfetter tethers" bit refers to delivering the baby, the "tethers" being the umbilical cord.

The final poem in this set alludes to the previous two pregnancies we've had in the past, and the great pain that our losses caused. It reads: "Missing what you've never heard is like pretending good is bad. You can, at times, convince yourself that what is not is something else. But what it really means to lose, is having – taken – never used – an emptiness, a hollow space – a broken heart and featureless face. These are things you never know you missed until they tell you so."

*  The May 29th half-cycle of alpha poetry included the following poem, which was so blatantly obviously about pregnancy (to me, at least) that I was genuinely surprised no one picked up on it. It read:  "Special delivery – is this for me? I didn't order it. I wasn't expecting to receive anything. I placed an order long ago, but that one was canceled. Apparently, they were out of stock or it had been shipped to the wrong address, or something like that. But this? Now? Are you sure you've got the right house? I can see that it has my name on it, but I don't know why they've sent it. I guess I shouldn't ask that question. I should take what I've been given and simply say 'thank you.'" And I should. And I did. We both did.

Another poem in this cycle expressed my frustration at trying desperately not to spill the beans, despite the fact that – per my self-imposed blogging goal – I have to write about something every day, and the one thing that really want to talk about is the one thing I can't. The poem reads: "This is me acting natural, as though there's nothing to hide, as though it's all out in the open. This is my clown mask, mean to distract. Are you distracted? This is my poker face, meant to confuse. Are you confused? This is the substance of things hoped for. Do you believe?"

*  The June 2nd alpha poetry post was also filled with hints, many of them dealing with my ongoing battles to keep my big mouth shut and not give anything away in my writing. I also dealt with questions and fears about impending fatherhood.

The "A" poem here was written to express my fears that any child of mine would inherit my weirdness. It read:  "Acorns don't fall far from trees, so I worry when I think of me, and all the quirks and crazy things my mind cooks up – what does that mean? I dare to wish (with hesitation) there's hope for the next generation."

In the "F" poem here, I was brutally honest about my feelings. I didn't (and still don't) know enough about what all is involved in pregnancy and delivery. But I'm voraciously reading the pregnancy books now to "catch up on the things I've missed by giving up and letting go" because "now I know I have to know."

The meaning of the "H" poem here is now self-evident. It reads: "Hard to swallow, harder to deny. This is hello and not goodbye. We've never been this far before. But here we are, and there is more."

In the "Y" poem, I somewhat comically "scolded" our unborn child, though I did explain myself later in the poem. It read: "You've got some nerve coming in here, rocking the boat, demanding all kinds of changes, staying as long as you feel like it. You know what you can do? Make yourself at home – that's what you can do."

*  The June 12th half-stack of alpha poetry included a few more hints. For example...

The "C" poem once again tackled my self-imposed silence, and my struggle with that. It read: "Cat got my tongue? No, I'm holding it willingly. Bursting to tell someone, it's almost killing me. Sooner than later the time will have come. A sigh of relief when it's all said and done."

The "H" poem here was a love song – of sorts – to our unborn child, as well as an open admission of my current unpreparedness. It read: "Head over heels in love with someone I can't even see. Weeks from now I will, but today, it's still a dream. Scared that when we meet I won't be ready – I won't know all that I'm supposed to after the first "hello." I'm new at this, I'm awkward, and I think I'm learning slow. My goal – like theirs – until that time is – every day – to grow."

The "L" poem here's meaning will now be self-evident: "Light at the end of the tunnel seems much brighter these days – not just in dreams. Could it be that the dark is lifting? Could it be that the tide is shifting? Steady footing on a slippery slope reminds me there is always hope."

*  A few scattered lines from the June 18th alpha poetry post also contained clues...

In the "T" poem here, I wrote: "Taken by surprise, I put on my best 'whoa!' face. And the funny thing is, I'm not even acting! How is this even possible? I'm still in shock, weeks later. They say seeing is believing – well, I will, and I will. Hearing helps too – that comes sooner. But knowing it to be true – unseen and unheard – just knowing is still enough to blow me away."

The "W" poem here reads: "What do you do when everything changes? What do you do when your mind is blown? What do you say when things are strangest? What do you say when you're facing the known? I'll tell you when I find out."

3)  RANDOM REFERENCES:  Every now and then, in the middle of an otherwise completely unrelated post, I would slip in a little hint or clue that I knew would never be detected unless you knew to look for it. For example...

*  On May 18th, I posted a list of "The 20 Worst Songs I've Ever Heard." The #2 song on the list was Paul Anka's "You're Having My Baby." In my comments about that song, I discussed the various aspects of pregnancy – "morning (and sometimes night) sickness, swollen feet, strange cravings" – aspects that I was already seeing first-hand in my own wife at that time.

*  On May 24th, I posted a list of "40 Interesting Things About The Number 40." Number 7 on the list read as follows: "The average term of 40 weeks. How amazing that a brand new human being can come into existence in so short a time – though most women would probably agree that those are the longest 40 weeks of their lives!" As aforementioned, this factoid about pregnancy was placed at number 7, which was completely intentional, since Mary was 7 weeks pregnant at the time.

*  On May 27th, I posted "Drabble On And On... – Three Kitchen-Themed Drabbles." These stories in and of themselves had nothing to do with pregnancy. However, there was, embedded in each one, a clue. The first drabble, entitled "The Cookie Jar," featured a character named Heinrich Zwangerschap. Unless you're fluent in Dutch, you wouldn't have caught this – but the word "zwangerschap" just happens to be the Dutch word for "pregnancy." But wait, there's more! The main character in the third drabble, which is entitled "Get-By Goulash," is named Dora Terhesség. Dora, as described in the story, is Hungarian by birth. If you had happened to look up the word "terhesség" in an online translator, you would have found that it too translates into English as "pregnancy." In that story, I also used the phrase "the family way", which is yet another cutesy euphemism for pregnancy. The second story's clue exists solely in its title. I knew I couldn't get away with titling a story "A Bun In The Oven" – that phrase is way too obvious as a pregnancy euphemism. But if I shortened it to simply "In The Oven," I figured I might could sneak it in there.

*  On June 5th, I posted a collection of three unusual drabbles . In the second one, entitled "Alexis' Exes," the first-person narrator, whom we assume to be Alexis, lists off a number of guys with whom she has been recently involved, none of whom had worked out as long-term relationships. When you look at the first letter of each of these guys' names in order, you will find an interesting message that I'm 100% certain no one who read this noticed (and why would they?):

If you were to go back and look over any one of my posts since May 11th, you'd be likely to find quite a few more clues and hints other than the ones I've listed here. I just couldn't help myself from throwing little stuff in here and there. But now that it's all out in the open, I won't toy with you, the reader, any longer. I'll just say what's on my mind without veiling it in vague minutiae.

Thank you all for your many congratulations on our pregnancy, and for your continued prayers that we will have a happy, healthy pregnancy without complications. Stay tuned here, and I'll keep you all posted on how things are progressing.

Grace and peace!