Voicing your Displeasure

Long-time readers of this blog are aware that I have a speech impediment that I don’t try to conceal. Even if I did try, it would be in vain. Since coming over to the U.S. I have rarely faced any ridicule or discrimination from strangers. Obviously, people who know me are more empathetic. India was more merciless but that’s in the past. But a recent incident brought back memories.

Recently at a coffee shop I frequent quite often, the manager snickered when I ordered an Americano and stuttered a little [1]. Now, I’ve more often than not ignored and moved along but this time, decided to do something else. When we handed me my coffee, I simply said with a staid expression, “You are only the third person since I came to this country more than 10 years ago who have mocked me for my speech”. The look of panic and shock on his face was evident. He began apologizing immediately and said that he thought I was joking. I replied, “I don’t joke about this” and then added, “Don’t worry about it. It just tells me more about you than it does about me”. Then I walked away from the counter making Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” gesture.

I did not storm out of the coffee shop vowing to never come back. I didn’t even raise my voice or look pissed or hurt. I just expressed my displeasure in a firm voice (nope, I didn’t stutter while saying that). Sometimes that’s all you need – putting the onus back on the perpetrator and making your displeasure clear. Let them simmer in their juices of embarrassment at being called out. If people are even least bit emphatic, they’ll regret their words/actions and make amends. If not, they aren’t worth your time anyway but you’ve voiced out your displeasure. That in itself is cathartic. The guy was still apologizing after nearly an hour so I guess he was the first type. That made a difference.

I still go to that coffee shop and now, he is a little extra friendly and smiles at me more often. So I guess, he did learn something and as a manager of a public establishment, will be more aware of people’s limitations. I just might have made him a better person while expressing my displeasure at his behavior. You know how they say, smile because you never know who’s watching. Same goes for complaints.

  1. Admittedly, saying Americano is a tad difficult than saying small coffee []

Protected: Year Three – Tweet History

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Move to Austin

As I bid farewell to College Station, we looked forward to our move to Austin. We had been eyeing the city as our future home for a long time; its liberal leanings and options for the outdoors definitely helped. We began packing just after Ash received her offer although we assumed her visa processing would take time. A side note, we had already packed our books after she had received another job offer but unfortunately, the visa fell through [1]. We never ended up unpacking our books so we were very relieved when this job offer came almost immediately.

As if to make up for the previous disappointment, this time the visa process sailed through and her visa was filed less than a week after she received her offer and it was approved exactly a week later, thanks to premium processing that her employer ponied up the money for. Ash gave her two-week notice an hour after she got the notice of her approval and we immediately set our date for moving. Our first step was to contact the movers to schedule a date and then call the painters to repaint our house that would go on the market after we moved.

One word of advice if you are moving within the U.S. – hire movers. Ok, that was two words but I cannot emphasize the importance of hiring movers more. You may be tempted to scrimp at this expense and attempt it yourself. Unless you still have your possessions only in the two suitcases you came to the U.S. with, you’ve no business trying to move your couch, TV, bed, desk, and gazallion books that will contain everything right from your books to your bathroom supplies. You almost start believing in the dynamic scoring that the conservative economists like to reference when you see the amount of stuff you accumulate over the years. Luckily, we had hired the same movers last time around that we called this time. We got a decent rate for an inter-city move and our packing began in the right earnest. We spaced it out so things weren’t as crazy and moreover, Ash & I are extreme planners so it wasn’t unexpected. The painters did a commendable job in doing their work in midst of our packing; in fact it helped up pack up the wall art to make their work easier.

We had already signed up a realtor who thankfully would take care of the house cleaning and carpet steam cleaning after we moved out. We drove up to Austin a day before to sign our lease and to leave our car at the new apartment. In a stroke of genius, Ash wondered why we couldn’t also rent a parking garage that the apartment complex offered instead of renting a public storage unit. Yes, why the hell not? Just to be safe, I clarified with the apartment folks and they were cool as long as they got their rent on time every month. Luckily, we also snagged a garage right below our apartment although we ended up with a third floor apartment. But the view is nice and it is seemingly safer.

The weather gods weren’t in our favor as it rained like crazy the previous night and kept drizzling when the movers arrived. The sun came out a little later and we started thinking the worst was over when the skies really opened up later in the evening just as the movers were bringing in the last of our stuff in Austin. The movers worked quickly. They were two black guys – Deonte and Dante (yup, they laughed too) – who were jovial and professional although it was Dante’s first day at work which slowed them down as the day progressed. Although the movers didn’t charge us extra for the third floor, it did slow them down significantly although half of our stuff and lot of heavy stuff went straight to the garage storage on the ground floor.

As I mentioned on Twitter, we thought we would feel cramped in an apartment after living in a house for three years. But we rented a three bedroom apartment considering we’ll need separate rooms for the kid and for my study since I work from home a lot. We unpacked quickly and soon, the kitchen was all stocked up, the bedrooms were livable, and the living room was comfortable. The following morning, Internet was connected, the TV was set up, and the laundry was churning clothes. We ate at an Indian restaurant that one of the Yelp reviewers called, the Pei Wei of Indian food. It was definitely an upgrade over the solitary Indian restaurant in College Station. We also found an Indian grocery store that wasn’t at the back of a gas station but was its own establishment like any decent city should. Central Market and Whole Foods is less than 5 minutes away and so are our regular places.

In the end, how do we feel? Well, I can’t express it better than how I did in this tweet:

  1. Who knew that the organization had to be a non-profit research institution to qualify for quota-exempt status and being simply a non-profit wouldn’t suffice? If you’ve no idea what this mean, consider yourself lucky to be bereft of the morass that is the American immigration system []

Farewell College Station

In less than two days, we’ll be moving to Austin after spending nearly eight years in College Station. This was much longer than my time in Atlanta and definitely more eventful in terms of life experiences. I arrived College Station to begin a new life academically and it was a critical juncture personally. The move was also one of my life’s biggest risks since I choose to pursue a PhD instead of returning to India even though I had no financial aid (rare for a doctoral program). But eventually everything worked out. Much smaller than Atlanta, my first impressions were not great but then I started settling in by considering it a fresh start in my life.

One of my earlier apprehensions was about College Station’s conservative environment. Everyone had warned me about it and I had read a lot about it too [1]). I even fielded questions about the reality by few potential students who were moving from more liberal parts of the country. The university is ranked high but quality of life matters a lot for people. Unfortunately, during my stay, there were couple of incidents like the racial attacks on Indian students at Northgate, the giant anti-abortion posters and the Obama egg-tossing incident at Memorial Student Center plaza. But overall, my personal experience has been great. I have faced no racial slurs or any form of discrimination. Admittedly, at work, several of my supervisors were hardcore conservatives and you wouldn’t want to air your liberal views in fear of blowback but the (silent) majority of the people I met at work and school were liberal and open to a wider worldview. So much so that College Station has an annual World Fest at the Wolf Pen Creek Park that draws plenty of people. College Station may even be considered for a day-long tourist visit if you’re so inclined. But stay away during Parents’ Weekend. If you think College Station is a typical Texas town, all hot and dry, you’ll be surprised to know, we even got snow heretwice. The fall although comes late is also not too bad.

Personally, the time in College Station started dramatically with the cops showing up at my apartment thanks to my undergrad roommate’s boisterous pre-semester party. Later in that August, Hurricane Katrina hit bringing lot of refugees including students from universities in New Orleans to town. Plenty of my friends from grad school were among those. Katrina was followed by Hurricane Rita which was much closer to town and the entire city hunkered down waiting for a similar fate. Unfortunately, it passed without incident. I even attended my first ever (and only) Aggie Football game. The experience is definitely worth it.

Whenever we got bored with College Station, we went to Houston; more often when Ash was still in school. Houston, compared to College Station, has more crazy traffic and the driving there is insane, at least for the person who comes from the pehle aap culture of Atlanta. We soon got into the rhythm and am sure our Indian heritage and associated road etiquette helped us. It was only in early 2007 we managed to travel to Austin and fell in love with the city. Ash even swore that we would eventually move there [2]. Even San Antonio is a fun city to visit and I hear that increasingly people are wanting to move there ahead of Houston and Dallas.

We moved quite a bit within College Station too. From my dingy student town home in Northgate to Arbors, the apartment complex near Wolf Pen Creek after Ash got a job in College Station to a rented house in Bryan, and finally to our own home in South College Station. We got Lucy, our first dog while in the apartment, became foster parents for dogs in our home and finally, had our child in the home in College Station two years ago. Blogging definitely took a dive after that. Professionally, I graduated with my PhD, got my first job also in the institute I did my assistantship at, and finally got an offer at University of Texas in Austin late last year. That hastened our need to move to Austin since the drive was a four-hour commute for me back and forth. But Ash wasted no time in interviewing and getting an offer also at The University of Texas.

Although I didn’t intend it as such (or maybe I did), my blog has served as a perfect diary for my time in College Station (see the plethora of links above). I wrote about every significant event or incident that we experienced and in the long term, these are the memories we will cherish.

  1. technically, it ranks as the most conservative college town second to only Provo, Utah (home of BYU []
  2. now you know whom to hedge your bets on []

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Year One – Assorted Thoughts

Ever had your bus break down and had to hitch a ride in a tractor trailer? Ever camp out overnight in a National Park in cold rain? Ever miss your train and have to spend a night in a shady ‘hotel’ room in Ratlam packed with a dozen others? All those stories are true and yet when I look back, I recall all those vacations being one of the funnest of my life. The end of year one of your first born is somewhat similar.

Ruan turned one last month and I resisted trying to pen down my thoughts simply because we were exhausted. I know it is almost sacrilegious to admit that caring for your first-born can be anything but wonderful and yes, it was. But it was almost mind-numbingly difficult; more so for my wife. Now when we look back on the year that didn’t quite fly by, we can only recall fond memories and all those nights he kept us awake and troubled us with his incessant crying are now a distant memory. But at the same time, not so distant as to tempt us into experiencing them once again. This past year not only put us on the fast track to Parenting 101 but also allowed us to discover so many things about us; patience being one of them and tempering our expectations being the other. The little joys in small steps of his progress wiped out the anxiety of the previous months. Going from months of worrying about ‘why isn’t he crawling?’ to now-constant concerns of ‘where did he vanish?’ are comical in hindsight.

Due to unforeseen circumstances and certain familial tussles, we did not have the luxury of enjoying support from our immediate family and apart from working full-time, we had to divvy up responsibilities of navigating through the first year of his childhood on our own. It, perhaps, seemed overwhelming because we hadn’t expected it to be this way but nevertheless with the exception of some bruises and scars, we emerged largely unscathed. Right from putting him in daycare at 2 months and experiencing the frequent bouts of illnesses, the unpredictability was more frustrating than anything else. Finally, at 10 months and 5 ear infections later, we got ear tubes and since then things have been progressively better; although not as drastically different as we were led to believe.

Each day of this past year, we have marveled at the tenacity and near-impossible endurance of single parents. We at least had each other, the financial resources, and the emotional support of distant friends and family, to navigate through the toughest parts. However, at the end of the day, I think, I have largely been a spectator in watching my wife plan, manage, and run the various activities involved in raising a kid. No matter how he turns out, I know right off the bat that she already has been an excellent mother. If Ruan turns out to be a mamma’s boy, I think he will be fully justified in being so. But it doesn’t help that on a social level, at least in America, being a good father means just being there; talk about low expectations.

But on the flip side, we have had the fortune to have an extremely cheerful and resilient kid. Aside from the days he has been running a fever, he has always been a happy and curious kid. He loves his books, his toys, and children’s songs, in that order. Just like his parents, he is a foodie and loves to eat everything; even the things that his parents hadn’t tried before (turnips). At the end of year one, he now sleeps through the night in his own room. When he is not feeling well, he will grumble and cry a little but eventually get himself back to sleep. We recently changed daycares and he has adjusted wonderfully giving us hope that he can manage change well. His new teachers are all praise for his temperament and eating habits so I think we have done a good job so far.

This wasn’t meant to be a detailed account of the year gone by. It is purely a personal account for my sake. You are not required to retweet, like, or favorite this.

Cheers to many more of such life-altering years.

Shooting Videos

I just peeked at the number of videos uploaded to my Vimeo account and I was surprised to see that I have shot and uploaded 50 videos. This is significant since I am not a video person at all. (I’m sorry, almost all are private meant for family only but have kept a few public although I have sent a couple to some friends.) I’m sharing one of them below:

Description: R used to cry each time he got the hiccups so we decided to make lemonade from lemons and managed to make it something funny by imitating him. Now he loves to hiccup :) Shot nearly 4 months ago.

I am primarily a still photos guy and have stayed away from video. One of the reason is, I find video to be boring unless it is masterfully edited and to do that you need to invest a significant amount of time and effort. However, there are some moments that simply cannot be captured on still photos. Most of such moments involve home videos after you have your first child.

When my wife was expecting, we bought a small video camera – Creative Vado HD – that allowed for greater flexibility and ease of handling. I absolutely detest those bulky handycams that everyone has. My dad, like everyone, had one of those and he shot several tapes when he was visiting Singapore and Australia. No one ever watched more than 20% of his footage. Instead, I prefer to shoot YouTube-length videos of significant moments in our child’s life and share it only with immediate family members.

To be honest, we bought the Vado mostly because Apple did not release the new iPhone in June 2011. All I wanted was a simple point-and-shoot video camera with HD capabilities that I could edit in iMovie. The Vado perfectly fit our needs and the video quality was good. After I got the iPhone 4S and my wife got the iPhone 4, we have retired the Vado since the quality was similar if not better. Since we are not out to shoot the next Oscar-winning documentary, I’m content shooting the occasionally jerky video on our iPhones that you can whip out instantly to capture a moment. We upload only one out of two videos that we shoot and most of them are only couple of minutes long involving the kid doing something insanely cute. I prefer Vimeo for its ease of uploading, overall look of the interface, and total lack of trolls in the comments. In the look and feel of the site, it is like the Target of video sites if YouTube is the Walmart. Also, Vimeo has an awesome iPhone app and the iPad version is coming out soon.

A Baby-Filled Life

As most readers of this space are aware, our son was born two months ago and has, not surprisingly, completely taken over our life. I wish I could write more and share deeper insights but since mankind has been through this process so often that I’m hardly left with anything great to share. I find Twitter better to share quick tidbits and then compiling them on a monthly basis on this blog. I have chosen to keep those posts password-protected so if we’ve known each other for a while, email me and I’ll send you the password.

It has been two months now since his arrival. We were lucky to have my parents over when he was born and the initial support both emotional and otherwise helped us from going crazy from the sense of overwhelming responsibility for this new life. Babies are far from predictable and when you think you have their routine figured out, they toss you a googly (a curve-ball for my American readers) and mess with your heads. Crying usually means one of countless reasons like wet diaper (pee. poop, or the double whammy of both), need to burp/fart/poop/sneeze/cough, sense of comfort (too cold/warm), hunger, or simply a need to be around people. Sometimes satisfying all of these reasons doesn’t work making us go absolutely nuts. We try a plethora of permutations and combinations of pacifying him including taking him out on our backporch for a nap. He seems to enjoy the warm weather and naps peacefully outside except we have to endure the 100 degree Texan summers with him. There are good days and there are some intensely frustrating ones. One night, he lets us sleep for four-five hours straight and on other nights, he will want to feed continually for four-five hours with 10-minute naps in between. He enjoys walks outside in the stroller and we think he enjoys his baths too although he has a befuddled expression. He has started to attempt smiling and occasionally we manage to give us a wide grin but it’s not yet on-demand. We have even started taking him outside – coffee shop, supermarket, bookstore, and even restaurants – and so far he has been on his best behavior.

With each passing day, it gets easier and more predictable. Ash likes and prefers a routine and often tries to impose it on others. Fortunately for her, she has a brand new individual that she can now mold exactly to her wishes. We’ll see how well that goes and for how long :)

We dropped off Ruan today at daycare and both of us have returned to work full-time. It is slightly earlier than we would’ve liked but certain unforeseen circumstances on the personal front left us with little choice. However, we are firm believers in the benefits of daycare and since both of us will always be full-time working parents, it was inevitable. I will not claim that it was easy to leave him all alone for eight hours especially when we had gotten so used to having him around for the past two months (although the daycare webcam helps). This might just be one more step in making him independent or so we like to believe.

We are continually learning on being the best parents we can but for right now, it is one step at a time.

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New Arrival

“Wake up, I think my water just broke”. I woke up half-dazed having just fallen asleep to see my wife half-excited half-nervous signaling that it finally might be time for our son to arrive in this world. Apparently he missed the memo on the Rapture. She rushed to the bathroom while I darted around like a headless chicken. We had already packed our bag including the camera bag and put it in the trunk so there was nothing really to pack making me wonder what I was darting around for. I asked my wife again, if she was sure. She looked at me as if I was daft and showed me her drenched nightgown. You can’t blame me for asking, can you? I knocked on my parents door and told them to get ready. My poor dad had just taken his sleep medication and was in la-la land (He would only make it to the hospital next morning after the kid was born).

Sure we had forgotten something (turned out it was the pillows), My wife and I, along with my mom, drove down to the College Station Medical Center thankfully not too far way. The ride was uneventful. I was hoping a cop would chase me because for once, I had a valid reason for speeding. Since it was after-hours, we, as instructed, went straight to the emergency room entrance. I realized later that I had driven up from the wrong side but the security guard didn’t say anything after he saw my wife. We filled out the paperwork (we had already pre-registered) and waited for the nurse from the Labor & Delivery to bring down the wheelchair. Each minute seemed long and anxiety-filled as the nurse took forever and my wife’s labor pains were starting. I was ready to ask…no…demand an explanation before I noticed the taser on the guard’s holster. Thankfully, she had an uneventful and smooth pregnancy and we hoped that the next few hours would pass by just as smoothly.

It was a slow night since we hardly saw any other patients as we were escorted to our room where my wife would give birth to our son. The nurse on call immediately got to work by making reassuring conversation and asking about vital information regarding time when water broke and other pregnancy-related questions. She was a Chinese-American woman who tried to find common Asian ground for some strange reason and at one point even asked me, why hadn’t I opted for Engineering instead of Social Science. Not now, lady, not now, I was not yet missing my dad. Not having much to do after my wife was hooked up to the monitors, I tweeted out our state and was instantly deluged with tweet replies wishing us luck (thank you, folks). I tried not to be that guy who would tweet every little detail and instead choose to send out only couple of missives an hour. It would be still hours when we would see our son.

My wife’s parents drove down from Houston as soon as they got the phone call. Wisely, my wife opted to take the epidural as soon as she started to feel the labor pains intensify and after that, almost magically, she felt no pain at all. I hope the guy who invented this stuff got a Nobel but under the aegis of ‘War on Drugs’, he is probably in prison. The drug was so potent that during the last hour of our waiting, she confessed to being bored just as I noticed on the monitor that she was experiencing massive short-spaced contractions. The rest of the night was just this long wait as nurses changed shifts and called the doctor.

Soon at around 8:30, her OB/GYN walked in looking all cheerful and told my wife, it was time to have the baby. Then she vanished into the OR assisting another doctor who was delivering pre-term twins. I guess, being low on the priority list in a labor and delivery ward is a good thing. When she returned, I was asked to stand near her head (my wife’s, not the doctor’s, duh!) urging her to push when prompted. I did my best without sounding like a irritable sports coach. Surprisingly, my wife looked all calm and prepared and uttered nary a peep as she geared up to push out our son. I was blown away by how bloody and gory a natural childbirth can be but much to my wife’s relief, I did not pass out and steal the thunder. With just 15-20 minutes of vigorous pushing, our son arrived in this world wailing and gasping for breath. It was one of the ‘awesomest’ sight I had ever seen that makes you wonder at nature and science at the same time. The nurses instantly got to work and like a well-oiled machine, they cleaned him up while the doctor worked on repairing any damage that might have occurred. The nurses, well aware of these situations, had already grabbed my camera and were busy snapping our pictures as I cut the umbilical cord. My initial fear was that I would cut the wrong cord and end up with a daughter. We heaved a sigh of relief to see he was a healthy baby with ten fingers and ten toes. A little underweight since he was two weeks early but the doctor reassured us that it wasn’t an issue. My wife had this wide goofy grin on her face as she saw the nurses clean him up and hand him to her. We had a private moment with him before calling in our parents.

It would be two days before we could go home but the speed at which everything went down took us by surprise but having heard of hours and hours of labor other women have gone through, we were glad to be done quickly. At the end of it, we had this wailing screaming little life in front of us that was literally made from our beings. Everything else seems insignificant.

Spring Season

While the world wraps its head around earthquakes & tsunamis in Japan and revolutions in progress in the Middle East, we welcome the nice weather in Texas. As spring approaches, our visits to the neighborhood Lowes increases as our dormant yard now begs for attention. We see spots of green sprouting from below the dry yellows of our lawn signaling that we might need to sprinkle the yard with fertilizer, weed protectors, bug killing pesticides, gypsum, ironite, and several other compounds that have been marketed as essential for our neck of the woods.


It feels strange but we have to buy soil in pre-packaged plastic sacks including other bags of compost and mulch that otherwise you would get for free in the wilderness. But obviously, we are neither living in the wilderness nor cultivating one in our backyard so you keep your spirit of environmentalism in check. We bought tulip and gladiola bulbs this season and have been peering at the ground we planted them in patiently waiting for each bulb to sprout a green stalk. The tulips we planted before winter have bloomed nicely and the gladiolas are making fine progress too. We ripped out the wildly-growing ‘Office Time’ flowers and planted more disciplined marigold and petunias near our front bedroom window. The junipers covering the ground were thankful for the choice we made and have decided to grow healthily as well. The crepe myrtle is still peeved and hasn’t shown any signs of life yet so we planted a small shrub of purple Pampas grass to coax it to life. The other grassy plant near the mailbox did not need any such coaxing and after pruning it to the base, it seems to have gotten a new sense of vigor.

After surviving the winter just fine, one of the holly bushes withered away and had to be replaced with a diminutive version which will not spend the rest of its life catching up to its peers until we trim them to make the young one feel better. Although we hardly sport a few square feet of garden, it requires bags of mulch to cover the soil from the harsh Texas sun and retain the moisture. I’m sure half of Lowes’ corporate profits are on mulch sales given how much you think you need versus how much you end up needing; not counting the gas money spent on driving to close this gap. I’m not sure anyone has tried returning a bag of mulch because I’m not sure what is the right answer to “Anything wrong with it?”

This year, the vegetable garden did not require backbreaking work as last year (Oh! Did I not mention that before?) After mixed results last year, we planted carrots and Serrano peppers this year. In fact, this year, the soil is mixed in with some good’ol homemade mulch from our kitchen waste that Ash turned her nose up in disgust too. With everything planted in, now we wait and watch. The rest of the yard projects will have to wait for my dad. Because as any son knows, you need to have something to do when you have your dad over for couple of months lest you rip each others heads off even if there is a new kid in the house.

Pregnancy Update

I keep harping on the benefits of blogging yet keep ignoring my own blog. Even the ‘interesting links’ that have often been referred to as Asides or even Clutter of the Week has not made it past the draft stage. Apart from work pressures and distractions due to Twitter, our personal lives due to certain events mentioned previously on this blog have kept us busy.

Ash is now 27 weeks pregnant and has now entered the third and final trimester of her pregnancy. Fortunately, she hasn’t experienced any extreme discomfort and things have been pretty smooth so far. We created our baby registry primarily for our organizational purpose but our parents ended up buying or reserving a lot of stuff on it for their first grandchild. We started work on decorating our nursery last weekend as baby stuff started arriving. The first purchase was a Diaper Genie, something that a friend who recently became a dad highly recommended to keep the nastiness of diapers at bay. Ash has been keeping a hawkish eye on Craigslist for smaller stuff that can be bought second-hand. We bought sets of decals and have put them up on our bright yellow walls and they look really great.

Apart from preparing our home, we have been seeking help to prepare ourselves mentally for the experience. Thankfully, the hospital where we’ll give birth to our son organizes four weekly pregnancy classes for free. The first class was focused on becoming familiar with the hospital layout and knowing where the birth room and post-natal was located including being aware of all our options. We got a personal tour of the premises so that we may be better acquainted with the premises when we arrive in a crazy state. The second class was conducted by couple of pediatricians who covered the broad spectrum of behaviors of kids in the first few months. It was very useful to know what to expect and how we can best identify when and when not to panic following a baby’s weird burps or movements. The third class was aimed at the brave folks who chose to go the route of natural childbirth as it focused on pain management. The hospital folks highly encouraged going the epidural way and reiterated the safety aspects. I don’t know why would some folks ignore all this progress science has made and refuse pain medications since it has no discernible effect on the long-term or even the short-term effect on the child or the mother. The last class was on breastfeeding and although it was mainly for women, it helped to be there just to be aware of all the challenges women face. Although husbands cannot do the actual feeding, they are expected to provide the supporting role in burping and changing the baby’s diapers.

In all this preparation, I have realized that no matter how many classes you attend or books you read on parenting, you can never be completely prepared. I still go through bouts of panic and apprehension including nightmares that I will drop my baby in the first week and be instantly shipped off to nearby Hunstville for my lethal injection (Texas is pretty liberal in that sense). Having crossed all the fingers that I possess, I can only countdown to the date which now is three months away.

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