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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Preschool graduation

It's hard to believe but Liz had her preschool graduation on Friday night and will be starting Kindergarten this fall.

We've finally found the fire-wire, instrumental for downloading our own pictures. So, without further ado, here's some Liz pics from recent weeks. We'll end with a couple from the preschool graduation. It was dark in there and the video turned out much better but the few pics we got were cute.

Here are some pictures from our camera of the carnival at University of Chicago in Mid May. Here's Liz with her aunt Helen and Cousin Stephen. Helen and Liz are showing off their orange wrist-bands, which allow them to go on one of the inflatables.

Here's another great shot of Liz's face painted with that adorable butterfly. I love that photo.

Brian and Liz enjoy a train ride at the carnival at University of Chicago.

A great picture of Liz and Brian at the carnival.

Liz wears her new Princess helmet and knee pads with her traditional tricycle for her Trike-A-thon a week ago. The proceeds went to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Daddy adjusts the Princess helmet to ensure it meets proper Trike-A-Thon regulations.

Now, she's trying on the brand new Princess bike at the trike-a-thon and taking it out for a spin.

Liz, our budding photographer took this photo of me. At the time I was 5 1/2 months pregnant.

Earlier this month, Brian and Liz practice softball and T-ball in the backyard.

She's practicing her batter's stance and looking at Daddy to see if she's got it right.

For Mother's Day we went to Goshen and spent some time with my family. Here's a shot of the ladies.

Liz and that smile.

Here's Liz and her preschool buddies, the Koalas. These pictures were dark but even though it may look like she's taking a pick here, I believe she was following the motions of the song. They performed a poem and sang several songs.

Here's our preschool graduate afterward quite proud. She then proceeded to munch on cookies and punch from cups that said, "09 grad."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fabulous Carnival - except for the Bird Man

The weekend before Memorial Day, my in-laws were in town and we spent all day Saturday and Sunday at University of Chicago - which was quite a blast. My nephew Stephen goes there and on that Saturday they had a carnival with free burgers, ice cream and all sorts of carnival food including fried Twinkies and cotton candy. They also had inflatable rides.

Liz had a blast and got her face painted, went on several rides, including an adorable train. It all went perfectly until University Of Chicago's mascot, The Phoenix, started strutting his stuff. Now, Liz understands it's a man in a costume, but that didn't matter. She was terrified, and I mean terrified into hysterical tears every time the Bird Man was near.

At one point my nephew Daniel was posing with the Phoenix showing off his tattoos (see below) and Liz was still terrified of the Bird Man crying and running away from him. Keep in mind she's seen her cousin Daniel in his military combat attire and didn't flinch. But this is a strange man in a strange outfit and it's all quite different. Let's just say if she saw Bird Man 50 feet out, she began crying.

As we were resting taking a well-needed break from all of the food we'd ingested in such a short period, I, the pregnant lady, decided to venture out for some more food - because there's really no such thing as eating too much food at a carnival. I left the group to wonder around, and I saw the Bird Man and heading right toward Liz.

I had to make an immediate choice. Do I just walk by him and hope that he doesn't head straight for Liz - causing her to crumble in tears - or do I dare try to communicate with a mascot whose code of ethics does not allow him to speak aloud.

That's right - I suddenly found myself speaking with a large human in a bird costume - who seemed to want to help but could do nothing but use his arms pointing the same way the person directing traffic points his arms to the left and right and by the end you're so confused you have no idea which way to go.

Finally, he kept pointing toward Liz and I kept shaking my head, saying NO NO - don't go in that direction. And, suddenly, I felt like the traffic guy pointing my arms high above my head trying to show him where he should go. In just a few minutes of this very-odd communication, Liz eventually saw me talking to the bird man and certainly became quite concerned. Fortunately, I did somehow quite clumsily manage to direct Bird Man into another direction.

I still don't understand why the "no speaking" is so important to mascots but Brian maintains that Bird Man is forbidden by all Mascot rules to speak to me and he couldn't make an exception - even if it meant saving a little girl from more trauma. By the end, she was probably traumatized just seeing her mommy so near the scary Bird Man.

Here are some pictures - courtesy of my sister-in-law Helen since we've still got some technical difficulties here. But you should be able to make out a pretty nice baby bump!

Here's a great one of Liz with her face painted. She really wanted the butterfly but the line at face-painting was probably about an hour-long. It didn't look that long with only about 7 people in front of us but with only 2 painters and some of the creations taking 15 minutes, the time ads up. I decided to wonder around while she waited with Brian and I found a face-painter with NO line. So, we dashed over there, and they did a most excellent job on the butterfly.

Here's Liz and I stuffing our faces - me more than her!

No, Liz wasn't swimming at the carnival. She was in swim classes at our local Y and here's a cute picture my sister-in-law got of her.

Here's a picture of Brian, my brother-in-law Curt, Liz and myself.

Here's the infamous Bird Man with my nephew Daniel. While this picture was being taken, Liz was sobbing hysterically running away from the Bird Man.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Caution: Dad on a Mission

Below is one of the columns Brian just wrote on his new blog, postcards from the Hedge. He actually took a difficult situation for us and wrote a pretty hysterical column about it.

Once you get past the bleeps and rants about the quality of products made overseas, you'll find an incredibly heart-warming story of a dad who will go to any lengths for his daughter.

First, I'd like to apologize to the Chinese. Sort of.

In the midst of feverishly scrambling to assemble a small, pink princess bicycle in the parking lot of my daughter's pre-school recently, I might have said a few things about the Chinese that weren't exactly complimentary.

It didn't help that the tool kit I bought with the bike didn't include clamps, which would have come in handy considering the (bleeping) Chinese just had to use bolts that weren't made with any human measurement scale.

Once I figured out that the Chinese (bleepers) who assembled this pink piece of (bleep) designed the pedal bolts to tighten opposite of the "righty tighty" method, everything was fine.

That's when I realized that I may have slightly over-reacted, despite losing skin off my fingers hopelessly attempting to tighten those (bleeping) bolts with my bare freaking hands.

Thanks a lot, China!

Maybe next time I should just scrape off a few lead-based paint chips and eat them until the lead drives me stone cold crazy!

But I digress. Also, I should probably explain how I got to the point where I was frantically monkeying with a child's bike in a parking lot.

You see, Friday was "Trike-A-Thon" day at Liz's pre-school. She had been looking forward to it all week. The premise was to teach the kids about bike safety while also raising money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Liz was supposed to get people to pledge a certain amount of money per lap that she completed on her tri-cycle at the school's playground course. Fair enough. Her pledge-givers (we, her family) decided to pledge a set amount, and all was good until we got to school.

Liz and I walked in together. She carried the shiny, new "Dora The Explorer" helmet and knee pads that she and my wife, Lisa, had picked up the night before. Liz was so proud. One of her classmates even commented about how "cool" her new helmet was.

And then, after my pre-requisite hug goodbye, it was off to place her tri-cycle out where her class' bikes were to be stored until 11 a.m. – the time when her class, the "Koalas," hit the open road for the exciting, thrilling "Trike-A-Thon."

It was approximately 9:45 when I got to the "Koalas" trikes, which turned out to be actual bikes, complete with training wheels and horns and pom-pon stuff sticking out of the handles.

Liz's "bike" was an actual trike, like the kind two and three-year olds use.

It was approximately 9:46 when my heart broke.

At that point, Liz had the only tri-cycle in her class. She has a form of dwarfism, and her tiny legs could barely reach the pedals of her tri-cycle until last summer, when she turned 4. She stands about 35 inches tall, which pales in comparison to her friends.

We'd never thought of getting her an actual bike, even a really small one that she might be able to handle with training wheels. So, we let her use that trike and never thought twice.

Not until Friday, that is. The thought of Liz getting out there with the other kids, and noticing that she had the only "little kid's" bike just about ripped me apart. I called Lisa. We cried.

I said, "There is a practical way to handle this and an impractical way to handle this."

The practical solution was to hope for the best and see about getting her a bike later. The impractical way was for me to rush over to Meijer's and get her a bike, then assemble it – all before that 11 a.m. deadline.

Well, if you've read this far, you know which one I picked. Soon I was on my way to the store, tailgating an old lady who I swear hit her brakes about 315 times in one three-block stretch of downtown Crown Point.

Immediately I thought about the recent U.S. News & World Report study showing where the nation's worst drivers are. They ranked Indiana in the 20s among states, but they missed this lady – who easily could have ranked 10th all by herself.

It was almost 10 a.m. when I got to the store and started looking at bikes. All of the pre-assembled jobs were too huge for Liz, even the smallest ones. Dejected, I started to leave before noticing even smaller bikes in boxes.

On the boxes were notices stating three words that have made many dads cry and pee their pants upon reading them: "Some assembly required."

Those dads weren't the son of Lee Hedger, though, who was widely known around our part of Brighton, Mich., as the real life "Mr. Goodwrench."

In a flash, I did the math in my head. It was at least 15 minutes back to the pre-school parking lot, which would give me roughly 25 minutes to assemble that (bleeper) and roll it out to Lizzy and the Koalas (which Dave Barry would think is an excellent name for a rock band).

"If I'm going to do this, I need tools!" I thought, rushing off to the tool aisle.

There, I grabbed a gray box that touted its 144 piece tool set. Would you believe that none of those pieces included pliers?

Also, they must have been Norwegian tools, because not one of those 144 pieces ended up fitting correctly on any of the (bleeping) Chinese hardware that came with the bike. Of course, I didn't find that out until I'd thrown the focker into the trunk of my car and sped off toward the school.

Wouldn't you know it? More fogies puttering along at 20 mph or less! Damn! It was pushing 80 degrees outside. Inside my air-conditioned Sebring, I started to sweat.

"You people are going to break my little girl's heart," I muttered. "Oh, but at least you know where the brake pedal is. This has to be what it's like to live in Florida."

Somehow, I pulled into the lot around 10:25 (I really shaved some time off after tailgating an elderly couple so bad they pulled over to let me pass. Sorry, little girls take precedence people).

Before you could say "communism" I had that pink metallic Chinese handiwork out of the box and nearly slapped together. Front tire? On. Seat? On and secured. Handle bars? On, tightened and straight. Pom-pon thingys? Jammed into the handles.

All was ready to go except for that blasted left pedal, which I was fighting with when my wife pulled up shortly before 11.

"If I had a (bleeping) hammer, I'd just hammer this (bleeper) in there and be done with it," I snorted. "(Bleeping) Chinese. Everything's made in China … and it's made like crap!"

"Do you want me to go see if they have a hammer or something?" Lisa said.

"Yes. Yes. That would be good. A hammer," I gasped. "See if they have a hammer. I'll pound on it until it fits! Oh, and see about some pliers!"

She and our unborn son, Chance, headed off on their mission and returned with the hammer -- which I then began to use frantically, as if our very lives depended on me getting that pedal in there. It didn't work.

"Son of a (bleep)!" I snapped. "It's not working! Piece of (bleep)! This is all the Chinese's fault, you know. This is their way of sticking it to us … by making (bleepy) pieces of (bleep) like this pink (bleeper) right here. (Bleep) you, China."

In my head, I thought about last summer's Olympics in Beijing, China. I thought about all the high-tech laser wizardy, graceful movements and other glam from the opening and closing ceremonies.

"They can do all of that crap," I thought, "but they can't make a bolt fit into a hole for (bleep)!"

I squeezed my fat little fingers around the bolt and turned -- to no avail.

"If only this stupid tool set had come with pliers," I muttered.

"Oh, do you want me to go ask them if they have some pliers?" Lisa said.

"Didn't I say to ask them for some pliers before?" I snapped, clearly on the verge of defeat by the Chinese. "Yes, go see if they have some pliers or something for this (bleeping) Chinese (bleeper)."

And then, something magical happened. Just as Lisa returned with the pliers, I turned the bolt the opposite way. It went into place with ease. I could sense those Chinese bike makers shaking their heads and laughing at me, somewhat vindicated.

I didn't care.

The pedal crisis solved, I wheeled the bike over to the race course proudly. Liz was happily pedaling her trike around the track with a huge smile on her face, looking about as cute as anything I've ever seen – a little blur of helmet and knee pads. As it turned out, other Koalas kids had trikes, too.

I didn't care. I was a man who had conquered an impossible mission, and backward Chinese engineering, to save the day. I wanted badly to stick out my chest, grunt and scratch myself -- but refrained.

Liz pedaled closer to where I'd parked her new bike, and I told her it was hers.

"That's MY bike, Dad?" she said. "Really, Dad? It's all mine?"

"Yeah, baby … it's all yours."

Thanks, China.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A new funny blog

Just wanted to let you all know that my funny husband has launched his own blog. I think he'll be updating it every couple of days or so - probably more often than I do.

As most of you know, Brian is a pretty amazing writer and he's already posted some pretty funny columns that will bring a smile to your face. This won't be the same type of family-blog I write and he'll touch on all sorts of topics as you'll see.

Check it out. I'll put it on my blog scroll too....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Weight Gain

Today, I had one of those unbelievable conversations. Brian always maintains that people say the most remarkable things to me, and this is the perfect example.

I was in the city today and I had an OBGYN appointment and afterward I went to a nearby juice bar for a turkey sandwich and mango smoothie. After I placed my order, and was quietly waiting for the smoothie, the college-aged young lady behind the counter said to me: "Is it true you get weight gain when you're on the pill?"

Huh? My immediate thought was she thinks my baby bump was created by eating a few too many donuts and the birth control pill. Oh No! Do I need to start wearing those cheesy shirts that say: "One in the Oven" and "Passenger on Board?"

Finally, after I was able to respond, she did seem to realize I was pregnant and apparently that's why she felt comfortable asking me the question. I guess she thought that as a pregnant woman I should know all about weight gain - on the pill - off the pill, etc.. Or, perhaps she thought that pregnant women are just experts in all types of female related-issues.

She's not the only one to make these types of comments. I'm now at the official part of pregnancy where these "fun" comments are just rolling in.

A few weeks ago, when I mentioned to another pregnant woman at a store that I was pregnant her response was: "Oh, I couldn't tell at all." Now, I don't really believe that because I certainly look like I have a bun in the oven - as the shirts say.

But then, the same day in the same shirt, our insurance saleswoman made the comment: "Wow, you've really popped" which is a polite way of saying: "You're GIGANTIC. You're just HUGE."

Now, I KNOW that I have to post pictures so you can all judge for yourselves. They're on the way...just as soon as I can find the fire wire to download the pictures.

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's official

We thought the idea of keeping the baby's sex a secret and finding out on his/her birthday would be a delightful surprise, but then as we were looking at ultrasound on the large 20-inch flat-screen TV , we just had to know.

It's a boy. Chance Curtis Hedger is set to arrive around the end of August. We'll probably call him Chance, or maybe CC and as he gets older, he could always use the slightly more dignified, C. Curtis Hedger if he chooses. There's lots of options with the name, and Brian's family has a history of C.C. Hedger - dating back to Christopher Columbus Hedger - who was a great great uncle of Brian's.

Baby Chance was quite active during the last ultrasound and apparently will be another chatty Hedger. He spent most of one-and-a-half-hour ultrasound with his mouth open gabbing.

Everything looked great at the ultrasound. It was taken at 22 weeks. It's still a bit early to know much about bone length, but right now the doctor says everything is in the average range. We had Liz's last ultrasound at 24 weeks and she was still in average ranges. Basically, that means that babies grow a great deal in those final weeks of a pregnancy and achondroplasia is generally detected in the final trimester of a pregnancy. The doctor wants another ultrasound closer to the arrival date.

I told Liz that Chance can hear us talking now. And, everytime she talks he's getting used to her voice. She wanted to be sure he'll know her voice. Her approach is to yell at my stomach: "Hi Baby, I'm ELIZABETH HEDGER. I'm your big sister. You will clean up all of my toys." OK. Just kidding about the last part about the toys. But she does yell her name.

She's done this a dozen or more times, and now she's just starting to think that he may start to recognize her voice.

It's cute because every evening when Brian's reading to her, Baby Chance kicks quite a bit - picking up on Liz and Brian's voices and making sure we know he's part of the family.