We did it, J and I - we finally cleaned up the house and got it in good working order. Well - he says we did it. He said, last night, "Aren't you glad we're done?!" I looked at these boxes, these cardboard boxes half full of 10 year old receipts and whatnot laying around the office, and explained that we were NOT done, but yes, I was glad. For it is much, much better in the Rotondonough household. It is a place fit for guests! But only a few at a time as J and I, the dogs and cat, take up most of the room inside. After I'd carefully put away all of my belongings last night I felt that a reward was in order, I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to look at an album my mother made me when I graduated from college. It contains pictures and other mementos from the first five years of my life. She said that she planned to make books similar for all the stages of my life, up until my graduation, but this one was all she'd finished, and that was fine with me. It is full of my various faces, outfits, attempts at dancing, and hugs with family members. There are other things my mother saved, such as cards sent to my parents congratulating them on my birth, and the first story I ever wrote at preschool (clearly dictated as I couldn't write although I was amazingly smart) in which I explain that my favorite food is, "Corn, corn, corn and asparagus and that's it!" What a great kid.

But the best item is the book is this coffee-stained sheet of paper covered with my father's barely legible handwriting. Numbers that appear to make no sense are written all over. When my mother gave the book to me, she explained. It is the piece of paper on which my father timed my mother's contractions before I was born. I remember thinking it was so cool that she'd kept it when I first received the book. And I remember thinking how funny it was to picture my father recording contractions before my birth. But last night that piece of paper, the cards from relatives, the picture of my father pushing a bottle to my mouth and my mother holding me in the hospital - it became so evident that my birth and those first moments of life had been so important to my parents and others and I felt absolutely lucky in the most true sense of the word.

Thankfully only a few pages later is the "Corn, corn, corn," nonsense and a picture of me in a hotel along with the description added by my mother: "you were very bad," so that I don't get mired in the tearful joy of my birth.