Friday, May 30, 2008

20 pound Baby? Maybe I wasn't far off....

I could never be a doctor.  I just don't have it in me.  I mean, I find our bodies fascinating and amazing everything, but when it comes right down to it, there are just too many soft pink things in there for my taste.  I was at my OB appointment today looking at the charts of all of our soft pink tubes and balloons, thinking my doctor sees all of these squishy things all the time.  I couldn't do it.

Baby Tad is healthy and happy.  She certainly is a squirmer.  She's big enough now that it's kind of uncomfortable when she moves around.  I actually prefer the kicks she used to belt out over the slow-motion tai chi she's been pushing on me with lately.  It just doesn't really feel nice.  It is funny, however, to see my belly move and change shape with her position.  That's weird.  It amazes me and the Bubba every time.

We knew she was big.  I mean, I'M big, and I've measured big from the beginning of this pregnancy - we just assumed she was long like her daddy.  But evidently, she's HUGE.  Today my doctor said that I'm measuring considerably big and now I have to go get an ultrasound to see exactly how big this baby is.  She did say that she didn't want to scare me with talk of a 10 pound baby (then why'd you say it, doc?) but she is concerned with the baby's size.  My Bubba was a long skinny baby (go figure, he's a long skinny man now) and I was not a big baby.  WHY IS MY BABY BIG?  

I (very logically, of course) jumped to "she's big, will they have to induce early?  Will they have to take her via C-section?  Is a vaginal birth out of the question now?"  I guess that I'll have to just go get the ultrasound and just see how big "big" really is.

And it's a nice excuse to see my sweet baby again, right?  The ginormous thing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm learning.

Right now, I'm reading four books.  They are: Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern, a fun little read about how to make your fiction writing a bit more interesting, Husband Coached Childbirth by Dr. Bradley, The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman Through Childbirth, and a mindless whodunnit by Elizabeth George for when the other books just get too heavy.  Oh, and also throw in the latest National Geographic magazine about the mysteries of Stonehenge and the world oil situation too.  Anyhoo, I'm learning a lot.

Even so, it's kinda hard to come up with other topics of conversation when my day is pretty much consumed with obsessing about the ins and outs of my "condition" and what to expect in childbirth because I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a bit terrified...

I'm very interested in natural childbirth.  Mostly because I've always hated taking medicine and doctors in general, and I have found that my body does a pretty good job of taking care of itself.  My grandma always said that her doctor wanted a yacht, so all of a sudden she needed a radical mastectomy.  Well, I'm not exactly on board with that conspiracy theory, but I'm not a poo-pooer.  What I am not is a fan of the culture of fear our society has engendered around everything childbirth like women haven't been doing this since the beginning of women.  The fear of pain, mostly.  The fear that if you don't have monitors and peoples hands in your baby maker that you or the baby will die.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not a home birth fundamentalist.  The fluids.  The chance that something might go wrong.  No thank you.  I'd rather have my baby in a hospital where everything's nice and clean and doctors are there in case something happens that isn't supposed to.  But I don't want to be so afraid of the process that I do something that takes this experience out of my control.

It seems to me right now that everything I read or am taught about natural childbirth is the equal opposite to the medicated childbirth component.  Naturalists propagate as much fear as anybody else.  This fear is of putting ANYTHING medicine into your body.  Narcotics that drug your infant, epidurals that can harm the baby, etc, etc.  Be afraid of your doctors and anything they tell you!  I'm not on board with that either.  I mean, come on.  I'm already changing my life more than it will ever be changed again - do you really want to add to that pressure by asking me to side with the left or with the right and not give me the chance to vote outside my party?

I was reading the Bradley method book before bed last night and I had horrible stress dreams about going into labor and my whole situation in the dream was: "what if I am not able to follow through with natural childbirth and I let everyone down?"  To me, that was a HUGE fear, and one that I certainly don't need or appreciate.  Especially when women have healthy babies all the time both with and without medication.  

My qualm is this:  Why does it seem that if I want to have a natural childbirth it is presented as "do it or fail"?  I have no idea what labor and childbirth are going to be like.  I might be able to handle it without medication.  I might not.  I don't want the pressure of having to buy into one religion that might not get me to heaven.  Where's the Come-Informed-and-Make-Decisions-As-You-Go Party's propaganda?  They need to get their platform out there.  Because they've got my vote.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Stretchiest in the Land*

Up until the 6th month of this pregnancy, I was like "Woo hoo!  I have a great body! No stretch marks!  No weirdnesses at all!**"  And then baby had a growth spurt.  My 6th month, I didn't change much in my eating-to-exercise ratio and gained 11 pounds.  For comparison's sake, from month 6 to 7 I only gained three quarters of a pound.  This baby got big.  And for my body, that means big purple spider web stretch marks all over my lower abdomen. 

At home with my family, of course they are enamored with my novel ginormous state.  Well, the subject of my belly button and its sensitivity came up and I lifted my shirt.  Both my mom and sister were like "Whoa." and then didn't say anything.  Excuse me?  I had to look to check if my baby hanging out of my belly button or something.  My mom said "Are those stretch marks?" and I figured that was a rhetorical question since 1) of course they were and 2) why would she have to ask after 5 children?

As it turns out neither of them ever even had stretch marks anywhere.  ANYWHERE.  One with 5 children the other with 7.  Seriously?  They were concerned with how I felt about these little purple puppies.  And the truth is, I felt okay about them until that point!  I took it for granted that this is just what happens and I guess I'll just never wear a bikini again - no big loss, right? Nobody really was begging me to put one on before this baby took up residency in my midsection.  

I have always heard and read that stretch marks are hereditary and that you either get them or you don't and it doesn't matter what lotion or body butter or snake oil you use.  So I must be the lucky one to get these from my dad's side of the family.  Sigh.

I'm just fortunate they didn't notice the fine layer of hair that has grown on my belly in the last month or so.  Don't want to freak them out too much for heaven's sake.

*Partially inspired by Manda
**Except for the back boobs, but I'm kind of over them now.  They WILL go away, so help me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Weekend

I went an ENTIRE weekend without the internet.  I'm not sure how I did it.... It was hard to sleep.  Hard to eat.  Hard to concentrate on anything.  I kept wondering if I had any important emails or what the weather was like here in Seattle or if my Bubba published his guest post.  I don't know how people live that way!  Excruciating.

Somehow I survived.  (In her defense, my mother DOES indeed have internet and a nice computer, it just wasn't hooked up this weekend because she moved her office into another room so that I could have a private bedroom.  I know.  She did it for me, and still I gripe.  Isn' t that a daughter's prerogative?)

My sister's shower was a hit.  Even though there were only 7 people that ended up coming, it was a ton of fun.  Mostly because my mom and my sister and I hung out together all weekend, and that hasn't happened since about 8 years ago - after my dad passed away.  They're pretty fun ladies, as it turns out.  There were times when I laughed to the point of tears, and, as you may know, that is one of my favorite pastimes!  

It was a great intimate little party and I got to spend quality time with my nieces and even my MIL and SIL.  It was good in a variety of different ways.  So the previous ranting about no one arranging their schedules to see me is discounted because it was actually a blessing.  Oh, how little faith I do have.

Some proof positive:
Little chef: two nieces watching my 9yo nephew make me a very special cake for the party.

Have I mentioned yet that my sister has seven children?  The oldest is finishing his freshman year at Marquette and the youngest just turned five and is starting kindergarten next fall.  I got all kinds of practical baby advise this weekend!!  Especially now that I have some concrete questions about nursing and post-partum nonsense and whatnot.  I can't tell, though, if I'm more reassured or more anxious about it all now that I'm more informed... 

My SIL with my nephew - this is pretty much how we all felt by the end of the afternoon.

I had a nice conversation with my MIL too when I asked about what my Bubba was like as a baby.  I should set the scene by saying that Bubba is 5th of 7 children.  She said very honestly that she has no idea.  She added that when she thinks about all the teasing she gets because every picture of him shows a skinny kid with wild hair and a snotty nose and a dirty face she just shrugs, because by number 5 and then 6 shortly after, there was so much going on it's all she could do to remember all the kids' names!  I'm so thankful yet again, that there's only one baby in my belly.

My sister, myself, and my mother laughing about melted chocolate in a baby diaper.  Super gross game, BTW.

A great weekend.  But I sure am glad to be home!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spandex: the Future Bane of Baby Tad's Existence?

Per Lizzie's invitation,  here is my attempt to fill her rather large blogging shoes. 

First, here is a summary of what has transpired in the 3 hours that I have been home since Lizzie has left for Wisconsin... I have watched 45 minutes of basketball and 2, 1-hour episodes of Modern Marvels, which I recently determined is my favorite show on television. The missing 15 minutes was spent heating up some leftovers for dinner.  For a guy like me who can comfortable get lost in his head for the entire 14 hours per day that he is not at work (not to mention 8 or 9 out of the 10 hours at work), this is about as exciting as it gets.  I imagine by now you are all shaking your head, or perhaps uncomfortably averting you eyes, as you mutter, "Poor does she survive such a Lesser Half?!"  Honestly, I'm not sure how she does it. Anyway...

I bike to work everyday, and I don't wear spandex. Or I should say that I do not wear the "bike commuter's uniform" typical to Seattle, which is full spandex; I wear bike shorts covered up by 3/4-length blue jeans on the bottom and a windbreaker on the top. Not that I have any problem with bikers that wear spandex, I just do not for the life of my understand why it is so prevalent. Somebody please, tell me what possesses the scores bike commuters that I see every morning to clad themselves in form fitting spandex?  

Is it really a comfort thing? Yeah, it moves with your body, but does that require that it be your only layer of clothing? Plus does that really outweigh the fact that you are wearing spandex? Is it a speed/wind resistance thing? The competitive advantage strikes me as non-existent. Unless you are actually racing a road bike.

As you can see, I have thought long and hard about this, and the only reason I can come up with for cladding myself in spandex on my daily commute is humiliation. Not my own humiliation, Baby Tad's, of course!  As a soon-to-be girl-daddie, and I hope she will grow into a healthy, well-adjusted teenager, will it not be my job to be the guy who she would rather not admit is her father? Is that why all those other commuters do it?

I imagine that I am going to humiliate Baby Tad in plenty of other ways (thinking back, the fact that my dad used to wear dress socks with shorts used to mortify me). In the mean time I will stock up on spandex in case I ever need to embarrass the hell out of her.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another crabby day in my neighborhood

I was debating whether or not I should even post anything today since I happen to be the crabbiest person I know at the moment and this is sure to turn into some sort of mindless endless pointless crab-fest that it would be better for both you and I to skip.  And yet.  Here I am.  Here you are.

Well, in that case, I guess I'll do my best to come up with something cheery....   hmmm.    Cheery.....   Not there yet.......   Hmmmm.

Ok, not cheery.  How about just not ass-y and bitter.  I can probably do that, right?

Let's see.  Once upon a time, there was a girl named Liz.  Liz is doing 18 million loads of laundry in order to pack the three outfits that fit her into a suitcase to fly to Wisconsin tomorrow morning.  The end!

And here's some photos of the DELECTABLE birthday dinner my Bubba made for me:

Black bean burgers with avocado, tomato, and lettuce and corn on the cob.  
The first half of the sandwich disappeared quite quickly, so it didn't get to be in the photo.

Happy birthday cake.  All chocolate-y and whatnot.  Isn't he good at decorating?  
He won blue ribbons in 4H for it while growing up - like a good little farm boy.

That's about all I can manage.

And now on to a crabby rant:  Don't you just want to run away sometimes?  I mean just leave everything and start over?  I want to pick up and move to France and have this baby in their deliciously cheap socialistic medical system and raise a little French baby.  Sometimes I think I was meant to be a nun in a cloister - but then I think my penance is being with people because man, people suck a lot of the time.  And when is Seattle going to get the memo that it is freaking SPRING already for the love of all that is holy.  AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!  THE HORMONES!!!  I AM GOING TO DIE!!!!

I would also like to warn you that I have invited Bubba to guest post tomorrow (and really, as much as he'd like this weekend) while I'm away.  So get ready for his side of the story...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happy birthday to me...

So, after having forgotten about my birthday coming up, and after having gone through the existential 'what does it all mean' yesterday, I geared myself up for a great day today.  I must say that it is a bit of an anti-climax.  I mean, there are dishes to be done, errands to run, and work stuff to work on.  What's that about?  Doesn't the universe know it's a holiday?

Oh, and by the way, the Baskin Robbins bump day?  It isn't even valid in the great state of Washington.  Thwarted.  Those bump day bastards.

My sweet Bubba did, however give me a gift certificate for a pregnancy massage at a schmancy salon in Ballard, so there's that to look forward to.  I figure I'll use it AFTER having flown to Wisconsin to sit through a baby shower with his and my families.  Heh heh.  Gold.

In baby news, Tad woke me up at 6 this morning rocking and rolling as she is wont to do lately. How active is too active for a fetus?  She's been going strong for 2 hours now - no joke.  I was worried that maybe I'm dehydrated so I had water and juice and a smoothie for breakfast... Now maybe she's rocking out from the fruit in the smoothie?  Hmmm.  

I kind of wish she'd settle down so that I can take a morning birthday nap and forget about the work and the errands until later....  That'd be nice.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We all scream for ice cream....

Um, on a way lighter note?  Baskin-Robbins got the memo that it's my birthday tomorrow!  I have never heard of such a thing as Bump Day, but I will gladly take the ice cream, thank you very much.  Even if it is soft serve.

A Look Back

Bubba asked me what kind of birthday cake I wanted.  I was very confused for a minute and then realized that my birthday is tomorrow.  Tomorrow!  It snuck up on me this year!  Most years, I start publicizing that it's almost my birthday mid-April so that everyone has ample time to plan and plot to celebrate the miracle that is me.  Not this year!  And then, my heart stopped for an instant because I thought "this is 30!"  but whew - it's 29.  I'm still a 20-something... Uncomfortably close to thirty, but still 20s.  And according to a drunk 19 year old girl at a bar last year "30 is the new 20!"  So I've got that going for me.

I've heard that our internal images of ourselves stops at about 20.  When we think of ourselves, we always revert back to that picture of who we are.  For me, I think my image is maybe 24 or 25 when I actually started feeling like me after a pretty desperate battle with the "who am I?" crisis through my teens and early 20s.  Part of the reason for this may be the fact that I had very limited experiences, and part of it is maybe because I have always had a wicked bad inferiority complex.

I was raised very devoutly Catholic, for which I am neither ashamed nor sorry at all.  But you know how older people in the Catholic Church have the potential to be really amazingly removed from reality - namely the realities of youth?  Especially in a small town community?  This was my experience.  I dressed like my mother.  I went to daily Mass.  I was very comfortable with the old ladies in the church.  But I had absolutely no idea whatsoever how to relate to my peers.  That made high school pretty awkward to say the least.

I ended up dropping out of school my junior year because I was so miserable.  Add to that the thought that God had failed me by not preparing me for these awful experiences.  I was lost.

I finally came to know myself years later when I was in grad school, living alone, waiting tables, writing my thesis, getting over the initial grief of my dad's death, getting over the guilt and grief of an awful relationship situation that I ended.  Looking back then on a string of not-so-decent decisions that I had made, I started some soul searching.  And that is when I decided to give myself and God another chance.  I decided to move forward and do better and be a better person.  

When I think of my life, it starts at about 24.  Because that is when I became me.  

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sausage Fingers (and Toes) or Hormones Will Be My Demise

I've come to the point of this amazing journey they call pregnancy where my hands and feet are swollen.  The warm temperatures aren't helping any, but I refuse to complain about the lovely weather we've been having as of late.  Mmmm lovely....

Anyway, back to my enormous appendages.  I find that it does not take too long for my feet to get swollen from standing or just at the end of the day for being the end of the day.  I expected this - I've seen pregnant ankles before.  I was a little surprised, though, when my fingers followed suit.  It's like trying to pick up a fork with a bunch of bananas.  Ok, maybe I exaggerate.

But I can't wear my wedding rings anymore.  I was discussing this with a kindred spirit on Saturday (she is 29 weeks and I am 30) and we both have experienced the people who glance at the baby bump and then immediately glance at the left hand ring finger.  Then either a smile or silent judgement ensue.  This, of course, is from among the strangers that actually CARE that another human is pregnant and/or married: ie) older people.  I have yet to see someone from my generation even outwardly notice my pregnant state unless they too are pregnant and we happen to be in the same baby shop or sharing empathy smiles as we waddle around Greenlake.

That said, I didn't realize the emotional impact of taking off the rings I've been wearing for the last three years.  Swelling modifications + crazy raging hormones = particularly exciting range of emotions.  I tried on every other ring I own to cover up the naked spot on my "love" finger to no avail.  Finally, Bubba found a plain white gold ring that I had given him when we were dating just before he moved to Sweden and it fits perfectly on the sausage that is my finger.

The removal of my wedding rings and the memories of that time in our lives - Bubba was moving to Sweden, I was starting a job in France in the fall, we had no idea where our lives and relationship were going - blind-sided me as I wore this different ring.  I became completely attached to Bubba and had to be next to him touching him basically the whole weekend.  I sobbed when I thought of a time when I was particularly insensitive (see: mean and nasty) with him last summer.  A year ago!  I told him over and over again that I love him and I don't want him to ever leave me.  I had nightmares that he was far away and I had to somehow make it without him.

In other words, I became a clingy emotional wreck.  Some of the emotional residue is still filmy on my insides today, but I'm trying to get past it.  My goodness, hormones have to be the most powerful drugs in the UNIVERSE.  They can change a normally happy, rational person into a needy, empty tank waiting to be filled.  I just keep thinking, this better not be a symptom of the third trimester in general, or I might go crazy simply because I can't stand MYSELF, and I have no idea how Bubba's going to get through this!  Good thing he's got the patience of a saint.  

Whew!  Wish us luck.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sunny days...

I'm going back to Wisconsin next weekend.  I wanted to see my family one last time and take advantage of the last time I'll travel without a baby.  We only get back to WI about once a year because it's so vacation-day and cost prohibitive.  I have not seen my sister's kids since last June, and my brother's kids since the Christmas before that, I think - maybe even the summer before that...  It's time for a little mini reunion of siblings, and I wanted to share my huge belly and the transition from "single" to "family" with my nieces and nephews who have always been a main focus for me.

In other news, it was such a bea-u-tiful day yesterday and I put on something I felt really cute in - one of my two outfits that fit - and I met a friend at a coffee shop in the afternoon.  I went strolling around the U-district after to people watch.  Is it just me, or do all the crazies come out when it gets warm?

I was feeling so cheerful that I almost forgot I was pregnant.  I looked in a window I was passing and saw a reflection of my HUGE bump and had to laugh!  What a comical thing to forget what I look like!  I was expecting to see "normal" looking me, and I saw something that resembles this:

It looks like I put some sort of emergency flotation device in my shirt.  You know, for emergencies.

It was then that I realized that I didn't fit in strolling around the U-district, and that's when I came home and did more matronly duties.  Like laundry and planting things.  And the world's balance was restored.  The end.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Light, more light!

I'm not really in a position to throw money at my alma mater.  Not that I didn't love my college experience, but it didn't make me a millionaire.  Yet.  

I finished undergrad in 2000, and I guess they figure that by NOW I should at LEAST be comfortable enough to send a little somthin' their way.  I get less solicitation from my graduate program - but still enough to ask myself, "do people really give at this point?"

Right now, my darling husband works hard full time so that I can afford to try to start my own business.  I work part time to fill in the gaps.  In our "budget" (such as it is) is money to donate to our church and that is about the extent of the slush.  I just can't fathom sending money to help my college build a new student union, you know?  Especially when it cost (cough) 30-some K (gag-cough) for tuition that I'll be paying off for the better part of my adult life.

 I don't like the guilt I get over the solicitations for money.  They always say something like: "Did you enjoy your college experience? Make it great for other kids too!" and I WANT to.  I always leave the request on the counter for days to "think about it."  

Well, they must have realized from the complete silence on our end that they're not going to get anything, because they started a new campaign - I think just for us!  We got a package in the mail yesterday with what they call a "recruitment publication" and instructions on word-of-mouth recruitment!  Tell everyone you know you went to LU!  Sponsor an applicant!  Send us the information of any high schooler you know that would make a good Lawrentian and we'll send them stuff!

Now, chances are that we don't know anybody that would want to go to Bumble-middle-of-nowhere, WI for a highly priced education.  I'm just glad the alumni office has woken up and realized that this gal ain't gonna be throwing money at them any time soon. 

Now I can convince myself that I really tried to help the good old college out just by keeping my eye out for kids that might want to go to LU!  And not have to reach into my pocketbook.  What a relief!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fatherly advice

At the shower this past weekend, my friend's dad came.  He happens to be the father of three girls, the oldest of which is 25ish, the middle one in her early twenties, then the youngest is maybe 19.

So, I asked this experienced gentleman if he had any "how to raise a girl" advice for me or for Bubba as the father of three strong-willed girls.

This is what he said: "Keep the long view in mind - don't focus on the momentary drama."  He went on to say, "Girls are awesome.  They are so sweet and fun for the first, say, 10 years, then you get about three years of ambiguity, which can be tough, but then comes the approximately 8 years of f****ed up torture."

I can't wait to find out what he means....

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tad knows how to Par-tay!

Saturday evening some friends from work threw me a baby shower.  It was the best baby shower EVER.  I told them when they first suggested it that I'm not a huge fan of traditional baby showers.  Everything about this shower was non-traditional and it rocked.

First, it was advertised as a kegger party and was dubbed "Baby Tad's First Kegger".  Second, all of our friends in the area were invited men and women, boys and girls, and 30-some people showed up!  Well, there were some games.  But the games included beer drinking races with the prize of suggesting a name for Baby Tad (Gertie Patootie - a frontrunner now!), and a "Pin the Baby on the Boob" game which had us in fits and giggles for a good hour.  There was a huge boob drawn on poster board, and everybody (a little tipsy by that point - besides ME of course!) had to spin and try to stick little paper gap-mouthed babies closest to the nipple.  Irreverent and hilarious.  My boss won.

We grilled out, we drank our fill, and I didn't have to have the pressure of opening presents in front of anybody.  When I got tired and swollen (around 9 - I'm super surprised I lasted THAT long!) a couple of folks just loaded the gifts into the back of our car, and off we went home to bed.

It was perfect!  I didn't have to be the center of attention, I didn't have to cook or clean up!  I DID, however, have to deal with being the only huge pregnant woman among our mostly non-married, mostly non-parent friends putting up with belly rubbing and 'is she kicking' and whatnot.  But that part was pretty easy!  Such fun!

But guess what?  I didn't bring the flipping camera!  So I only have one photo to show you until friends send me theirs.  The Booty:

We have wonderful, generous people in our life.  Tad is already very spoiled!  Actually I look at the little shoes and think  "that's going to go on my baby's foot" and then I immediately pass out.  Also, our nursery now smells like baby all of a sudden - the diapers?

But, the piece de resistance?  This little number from my friend Rebecca:

 A bikini.  Of course.  I won't bore you with the back story, but I find this gift to be hilarious.

Also from Rebecca?  A book called Porn for New Moms.  Included: handsome men holding babies with captions such as "I told my boss i have to leave at 3:00 every afternoon so I can come home and give you a break." and "I changed the sheets so we can all snuggle up together in a nice, clean bed."  Bubba is going through memorizing what he can.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Doing my part as a patriotic American

Our economic stimulus payment came this week.  It's pretty exciting, I must say, to get a nice chunk of money - from the government no less - and not have to claim it on taxes.  It's like ghost money.

And of course, it is the clear intention of congress and the president that all good and patriotic americans immediately present themselves at the bank to cash these checks and spend it all at once.  Thusly boosting collective demand in the economy and warding off the "r" word.  Whatever, I'm going to say it - RECESSION.  But it all depends on how quickly we spend it and on what, you know?!  THE PRESSURE!

Honestly, I hope that everybody uses this money to pay down their debt.  Wouldn't that be awesome?  A little f-you to the old man, if you will.  I mean, how crazy is it that we're in rough times and every person and family should be focusing on managing their means and their budgets to get through without credit cards or unnecessary spending, and what does the government think up for us?  Money for us to spend!  $150-some Billion!  When we should be tightening our belts, our leaders tell us to open our pocketbooks.  It seems silly to me.  But what do I know?  I'm not an economist!!  This is just ranting!

So, our money?  It's going straight into the Baby Tad Birthing fund.  Well, I mean AFTER I do my patriotic duty to let my husband take me out to dinner a couple of times and maybe even to a movie (when is the last time I was in a movie theatre?!?!?).  We have to get SOME pleasure out of it, right?  

I figure the balance will pay for most of our hospital expenses, and, really, that's a pretty nice present from Uncle Sam. 

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sender's remorse

Yesterday was so frustrating trying to think of something to make myself feel better about the "betrayal" I felt from our web/database developer.

Today I wrote a strongly worded email.  I documented the source of my frustrations and outlined why my LLC would no longer be patient with Clown's inability to follow through with anything ever.  I wanted to write that he should not try to manage anything ever again or even try to do business at all until he was willing to be responsible and shirk the lazy bastard costume.  Of course I left that out.

At first, I wrote the email as a cathartic exercise in venting.  Then, I realized that it would probably not hurt to actually send it.  I had a panel (Bubba and my business partner) review the text for any instances of inappropriateness or personal attacks.  It passed the critique after some minor editing.  And I read this email approximately 86 times in the past day.

Then I sent it.

Now I have sender's remorse.  Not so much because I feel so bad about what it said - because it was ALL true and VERY professionally stated.  No, I feel a little twinge of guilt about sending a strongly worded email because the email might "hurt his feelings" and "what's he going to think?"

HOW SCREWY IS THAT???  When I think about this person, his FEELINGS are about the furthest thing from my mind as I mentally scroll through all of the bad words one can use to label another human being in order to choose the appropriate one to adequately describe this Clown.  So after feelings of "well, I sent it.....heh, heh"  I tell myself "I was justified! I don't care what this Clown thinks!  Everything I wrote was true!"

I think my feelings of badness and stress boil down to "what kind of reaction should I be prepared for?"  I don't really like surprises in anything, much less not having the upper hand in a stressful professional situation.  So I sit and stew and think about "well, if he reacts this way, I can say" or "if he thinks this, I can point out"...  And dream up a thousand scenarios.

But also, I feel like this reaction of mine is a very female reaction to reprimanding someone in a professional setting.  Like we have to apologize for having power or for wanting to change someone's behavior that is inappropriate.  It's reminiscent of Maggie's post on how a lot of us are "nice girls" and do what we're told and don't rock the boat but also don't recognize our worth.

Well, I sent the email and it was FABULOUSLY written, and I can only wait and see what his reaction is - I'm not responsible for that part.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Business savvy

I am trying to start my own business.  From scratch.

Let me tell you if you're trying to start a business from scratch, it's not easy.  Really.  I mean, it may seem easy, but it's not.  It may seem straightforward.  But it never is.  Never.  Got it?

Our website is about to go live.  This is very exciting and is the first step to the actual DOING BUSINESS process.  My business partner and I have been discussing next steps - contacting customers that are going to PAY us for the SERVICES we render.  (No, this is not an escort business.)

So everything's pie in the sky, right?  Things are progressing, we're going to do bidness?  Well, I'm REALLY bothered by something in a bad way.

The guy we hired to do our web development is a clown.  A lazy, worthless clown.  And I don't use derogatory terms lightly.  First of all this website and database that we hired him to do was supposed to be finished in November.  Did you catch that?  6 months ago.  The only reason we haven't sued him for breach of contract is that it has seriously been "almost done" since November.  And the extenuating circumstances, you understand... I got pregnant, and my business partner had to take a full time job to pay the bills somehow.  

A couple of things happened since then.  This developer who we shall here call "Clown" (I'm going to wait until we have all our passwords etc. to publish his name on a black list all over the internet) decided that he didn't know anything about web or SQL development and that he would "hire"* a couple of developers from India to do the work.  INDIA.  We ended up with a terms of use clause that said we had to adhere to the laws of Bangalore.  Yeah.

*I put this in quotes because there is sketchy information on whether/how much these hard working gentlemen were paid.  Sneaky, snaky bastard Clown - we have no idea who got any of the money we paid him...

Well, at the end of March, we put our collective LLC foot down and told Clown that we expect the website and database to be done and since his current choice of developers was clearly not working out (they had decided to take two weeks of vacation without alerting anyone - who could blame them?  We don't even know if they were paid!) that he should find someone local to finish the work and fulfill his contractual agreement.

Clown agreed and for weeks he led us to believe that the local guy was learning the code (since the code the Indian developers were using was a little different than he was familiar with) and everything seemed normal, that the database would be connected to the website and fully functional in a matter of days after the code learning process, and everything's dandy.

Now, today, I learn that he has been blatantly LYING and MISLEADING us to believe that he hired a local guy that we can sit down with and discuss the final product, while he ACTUALLY went back to someone in India because he didn't want to have to PAY the local guy for his work. And on top of that?  The website STILL isn't live and the database still has "a couple of final touches."   AAARRRRGGGGGG!

Previously, I didn't think I could be surprised by Clown's complete lack of competence or morals.  But I find myself so disheartened and just DISAPPOINTED by this behavior I don't even know what to do with myself.  It's our own fault for choosing to work with Clown, but by the time something was seriously wrong, we had put so much time and money in this project backing out seemed almost as stupid as sticking with it. 

I feel like he should be punished for lying to us and for wasting our time with his stupidity.  But that's wishful thinking.  To boot, now we don't even have enough money to sue for breach of contract.

I should add that I put a clause in our original contract that "time is of the essence" and (because he promised us a working website/database 8 weeks after signing the contract) that a credit of $20 per day for every day after the due date would be applied to our account.  If we were to adhere to that clause, Clown would actually owe US $3400 in services.  So we don't owe him anything upon completion - that's much more than we owed him. I don't really want to use his services for anything right now.  He has proven himself lazy, unreliable, sketchy, untrustworthy, and an all around schmuck.

Sigh.  I guess I learned a valuable lesson (as my mother would say).  But I so wish there was something SPECTACULAR I could do about it right now in the moment, you know?  Any ideas?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gourmande, va!

When I lived in France, my friends would tease me about my love of food (j'etais la petite gourmande).  I'm a good eater (a colleague gave me a Good Eater award once) and I just really like food.  A lot.  My friends Mijo and Pierre would love to have me over for dinner because of my predilection.  A win-win situation, really.  I got to eat Mijo's incredible recipes, and I stroked her ego telling her how amazing it all was - she didn't hear that much from her husband and son.  Just thinking about that makes me salivate...

I went to the grocery store the other day because I was craving fried chicken, and I figured I could trick myself with some of the delicious veggie-nugget things that Morning Star makes.  You know, breading and whatnot...  Well, it was lunchtime and I was quite hungry and by the time I left the store I had spend $30 on 2 bags of groceries.  When I got home, I could barely remember what all I had purchased.

Here is what me in my starving pregnant state picked up from the grocery store:

french bread
mac and cheese
hot dogs
herbed cheese spread
mixed berries
cran-raspberry juice
skinny cow ice cream sandwiches

Conspicuously missing?  Anything breaded or remotely fried chicken-like.  I ate an entire box of mac and cheese with hot dogs for lunch instead of the smoothie I convinced myself I would make.

Ah, if my French friends could see me now!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Crabby McCrabberson

I had an OB visit last Friday at the end of my 27th week.   The baby's doing well; she still measures big (I still think she's just going to be long like her 6'3'' daddy).  I had the glucose test, which was NOT as bad as I was expecting -- except for the fact that I belched up the grossness all afternoon, it messed with my intestines on the way out, AND I experienced a sugar crash like no other.  But, you know, other than that.  

Oh!  AND, get this, I only gained ONE pound last month.  My doctor was not too surprised when I told her that I didn't really change much as far as diet or exercise...  she said that sometimes the baby grows in spurts and puts on more weight in some months than others (encouraging, right, Manda??).  So I took myself off the fatty watch list.  I am now back to being comfortably chunky.  And I hope my doctor feels appropriately bad for telling me to lay of the cookies.  Humph.

Enough about baby, lets talk about me!  

Lately, I have been exhausted.  Like the kind of exhausted where you wake up and eat breakfast and then all you want to do is go back to bed for a nap. It's like a switch was flipped last week and now I can't get through the day without a snooze.  Add that to some wicked new body image issues, and I've got myself a "mood."

Last week I started feeling really pregnant.  I mean that I can really feel the weight now in my lower body,  and my energy levels are not as low as in the first trimester, but wow, I feel like I hit a wall most days.  That's frustrating!  I have to actively plan my day around the limited stores of energy I have.  I'm working tonight?  Well, I guess I'll be working on some knitting projects because there's no way I'm going to be awake if I exercise or work in the garden or clean up my house or (insert some other seemingly innocuous activity here).

And now we have the appearance of some heinous purple stretch marks on my lower belly.  I have a large appendectomy scar on my abdomen, so I wasn't really surprised when I got stretch marks all around the scar tissue.  I figured that was normal - scar tissue can't stretch like skin and whatnot.  But I broke down in tears when a matching set appeared on the other side.  Darn hormones.  I don't know what I was expecting, but I started calling Tad Kali, Goddess of Destruction.  That might very well end up being her middle name.

I also introduced my yoga class to the concept of "back boobs" (with which the Booby Fairy blessed me along with some additional front boobs in trimester one).  They thought it was hilarious.  Me?  Not laughing so hard.  I just have to say that those things better play backup to the front boobs and deflate at the same time...

Then there's the fact that I'm simply enormous.  I can't really imagine getting any bigger than I am.  The hugeness is alarming.  Especially since it's only been really growing for the last two months from a cute little bumplet to it's current state of OMG-I-need-to-support-this-with-both-hands-so-it-doesn't-drag-on-the-ground!  Even most of my maternity tops aren't long enough to cover the bump any more!  Here's what I mean in a VERY UNFLATTERING SIDE VIEW (taken yesterday at Discovery Park):

What was it like to have a flat tummy???  I don't even remember!

These things are to be expected with pregnancy.  I understand that in the teeny-tiny leftover part of my non-baby rational brain.  That does not necessarily make them easier to manage with the emotional brew boiling over and out of this pot most days.  And the fact that I'm just a Crabby McCrabberson in general and my pregnancy attention span is just about expired. I'm ready to get this over with already - after all, the weather just keeps getting nicer and I just want to DO stuff that requires energy and agility!!   Arrrg.

Friday, May 2, 2008


I have had some sciatica pain during this thing they call pregnancy.  Having never had nerve pain before, I didn't really know what was going on at first except that it felt like the bones of my right leg and lower back were breaking simultaneously.  Let me also say that I will never wish nerve pain on anyone.  It's excruciating.

Anyhoo, straight to the juicy story.  So I'm lying in bed one night after I had to spend all afternoon lying on the couch begging the Sweet Kiss of Death to pose itself on my moaning-chapped lips.  My darling husband had gotten me some pain reliever and a hot water bottle to put on my right butt cheek, and I was just waiting for the pain to subside enough to fall asleep since I was exhausted.

But, of course, before the pain lessened, I had to moan a little.  More because I was in absolute disbelief that something could be this painful and there is nothing I can do about it than anything else.  So I am trying to express that to my sweet Bubba saying "I am just in so much pain" and "It's just so painful" and the occasional holding of breath to see if breathing actually makes it worse.  You know the drill.

My wonderful comforting husband decided to say by way of comfort: "I wish I could be pregnant so I could show you how to handle it."  

**Theatrical pause to allow time for the gasps of horror**

I know.  

I'd write it again, but I just can't even bring myself to.  And I won't even describe my reaction, because I'm pretty sure you can imagine it.

This coming from a man who has a sniffle and calls it the flu.  From a man that has horrible paralyzing "allergies" that make him blow his nose.  From a man who, if I have a cold, has pneumonia.  From a man who takes a sore throat like this guy from Man Stroke Woman. 

I guess that I will add (mostly because otherwise he will be angry with me and call me "unfair") in very small type down here at the bottom that his intention with that infamous phrase was to lighten the mood with a little humor.  I say "ha."  I'm still not over it - but I'm slowly getting back at him by teasing him about it mercilessly.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Medicated children

My posts seem to be getting seriouser and seriouser.  Today I will not break that streak. Maybe something funny will happen to me to write about tomorrow.  

I work as a private tutor for a tutoring agency, and most of my students come to me for general study skills and organization help because they have some sort of learning disability.  One of my students in particular I have a keen fondness for.  He's a great kid, he has a heart of gold and he tries really hard to do well.  He suffers from some wicked bad ADHD.  To the point where every week we pretty much go through the same things, he can keep it up for a day or two and then everything falls apart again.  I had tried two handfuls of different approaches to see if one of them would make sense to him.  But his grades keep falling, and worse, his self-esteem and his motivation keep nose diving.  I kept thinking, "This kid needs some meds."  (This is something I have NEVER before thought in my whole life; I strongly believe in the over-diagnosis and over medication of kids.)

I used to teach French in another life.  Just out of college.  I did my student teaching at a middle school and a high school, and then I got a job at an elementary school doing their after school language program.  I realize in hindsight I used to be really tough on my students.  If the work was sloppy or there was no name on the paper, I saw that as thoughtlessness and neglect.  A student acting out in class became a symptom of his not caring about the subject or the teacher, and I would take it personally.

Now that I almost exclusively teach kids who struggle, I see how wrong I was. My ADHD student will forget to put his name on the paper, or will write his thoughts down so fast that he skips words or letters or punctuation - because he can't HELP it.  He comes to me with stories of teachers who react to him much like I would have in my first year teaching.  I realize now how unfortunate that is for kids who really make an effort and just can't quite get there.

As much as I wanted this kid to be on medication that worked for him to help with the (very realistic) goals he couldn't achieve, I am sad to see him change.  He's been on new meds for a couple of weeks, and says they really help and they don't have many side effects except for suppressing his appetite.  He can now concentrate for a normal period of time on a project, and he is doing make-up work to bring up his grades.  His writing has improved, and so has his general organization.  But this is why I hate medication: this kid seems like a shell of himself now.  He doesn't laugh as much, he doesn't seem to enjoy life the same way.  He says his friends have noticed a marked difference in his personality too.

I mean, for a teacher of 28 students at a time, it is SO much easier to have each of them be in control of their impulses and to be able to turn in gradeable work to make giving the student a letter and number grade at the end of the class possible.  And for this kid in particular, he really wanted to meet some very simple goals that he just COULDN'T do on his own.  As a mentor, I see that this kid's issues are linked somewhat with his personality, and medication changes that.  Granted he feels good working on his goals of bringing his grades up - but I wouldn't necessarily say his self-esteem has improved (so far).  

SO, is modifying a child's personality an acceptable side-effect of fitting into a high school classroom?  Is there some other way that we as educators and employers could figure out how people who struggle like this can succeed without having to fit in the cookie-cutter?  

It seems this is an age-old question that will still be debated when this kid's kid is assessed for LDs...