Friday, October 28, 2005

Sticker Shock

When I first started to show some belly, I was so excited about it that I got suckered into paying $80 for a pair of jeans from 'Motherhood' [of course, they were Sevens brand which might've been a factor to such a costly rookie enthusiasm]... but still, I kept telling myself that I refuse to give up style for the sake of becoming a mother. What I thought would be a good excuse to go shoppping for new clothes has simply become a chore. Shopping for maternity clothes has become... well... such a drag... especially because I refuse to pay $30-40 for a shirt that I'd be lucky if I get to wear more than three times [with the rate my body is changing shape right now]. You wouldn't believe how expensive these things really are until you're forced to surrender $100 for an outfit that doesn't make you look like you're trying to smuggle a watermelon.

It's not just me. I work with 3 other pregnant women in the office, and we all desperately try to negotiate the expectation to purchase increasingly [and ridiculously] expensive maternity clothes. The ones we CAN afford are severely limited in selection for such an unpredictable shape. I learned rather quickly that buying clothes that are 2 sizes bigger is just plain stupid and pointless.

I have to admit, I'm growing fairly attached to these elastic pants, excluding the ones with bands that insist of going almost up to your neck. With the exception of my first maternity jeans, I have since come to a realization that I have to surrender to this horrid fashion industry conspiracy for the time being and put personal comfort ahead of my economical [and ghastly stingy] tendencies. I have since then bought 5 pairs of maternity career pants, that I just plan on rotating around. Not to mention the constantly dropping temperature that is going to force me to invest in a good coat that will serve its purpose of keeping me warm... without making me look like I'm drowning in wool.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Week 27

From Baby Center: Your baby is really starting to fill up your uterus. This week he weighs almost 2 pounds and is about 14.4 inches long with his legs extended. He can now open and close his eyes, and he sleeps and wakes at regular intervals. He may suck his fingers, and although his lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning — with assistance — if he were to be born prematurely. Chalk up any rhythmic movement you may be feeling to a case of baby hiccups, which may be common from now on. Each episode usually lasts only a few moments, and isn't bothersome to him, so enjoy the tickle. With more brain tissue developing, your baby's brain is very active now. Wonder what he's thinking?

I'm feeling generally terrible, with contractions interspersed with frenetic action from little Mikey. I have brief waves of nausea accompanied with tsunamis of terrific hunger, strange yet predictable pains in my lower back and intolerable sharp poking in my lower ribs. The pain directly comes from jabs and kicks by my budding kickboxer -- what started out to be something cute suddenly became something I yelp and whine about... and he's only getting stronger. Mike gets mad when I poke my belly back perhaps as a cheap way to retaliate, but he only seems to enjoy the interaction more. Travelling back and forth to work [which has incredibly been cut in half compared to my 1 hour commutes in California] seems to be sucking most of my energy and all I'm left with is a constant mood of just "sheer exhaustion". I am lucky to have a husband that have taken the chore of cooking dinner several times this week. Otherwise, I've noticed lately that I am getting more prone to take outs, pizza deliveries or worse... TV dinners.

Oh, I also have to mention my growing disgust towards the dark and unfamiliar stretch marks that have decided to house on my lower abdomen. Gross. I sincerely hope that goes away. I've been trying to stay in track about rubbing cocoa butter on it every morning when I wake and every evening before I go to bed... but it otherwise renders me helpless..

There's that hunger sensation again, butting into my blogging time.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Little Mikey's crib

After weeks of searching high and low for the perfect crib, we finally got him a crib today. And even though we know it probably won't take little Mikey long to form his own opinion and decide what he wants to decorate his room with, the vote to have the Winnie the Pooh nursery theme [at least for now] was almost a no-brainer. He seems to like it though.. he couldn't stop kicking while I helped Mike put it all together...

Operation Decorate Nursery's still on its early stages though. We have put a decorative border up.. but there seems to be a lot more I want to do. We plan on putting some pictures up.. especially of one of me and Mike from the wedding holding my stomach -- and we've been diligently working on the Pooh and Tigger puzzle we've bought from California months ago. Despite everyone warning me not to, I've endulged a couple times buying him clothes.. most of which he probably won't even be able to get into for another 6 months.. but they're all so "cute" it's almost impossible to resist. And I've scoured the internet for the most complete "baby shopping list" and it just seems to get longer and longer... I can't tell if it's just a marketing ploy to get a new mother to buy more things than what's really necessary or if the little guy really needs that much stuff. Mike growled yesterday about the baby having a better matress than we do... I have to admit, it's amazing how someone who can't even breathe on his own yet can be so spoiled already.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Victim of a Hallmark conspiracy?

Yesterday, I didn't know it was Sweetest Day. I mean I've heard of it before.. but never had a clue as to where it originated from.. much less when it is. I remember when I first met Mike, he used to always bitch about the grand conspiracy behind Hallmark fabricating holidays that don't really weigh any importance but are advertised as such in order to boost greeting card sales during the slow autumn months. [I have to admit, from a business point of view, it's a damn good business strategy]. So yesterday, I met Mike at his work so we could go to a friend's bar-b-que, and he surprised me with 2 dozen long stemmed red roses, a new watch (I haven't worn one in 3 months since the batteries on mine died and haven't replaced it), and a poem he wrote. And although he later on confessed that he hadn't realized that it was Sweetest Day until that afternoon, and that he had to make a quick stop at Walmart down the street to fish for these gifts minutes before I got there, the thought nonetheless was indeed... sweet.

And I in turn... got him NOTHING.

Now I'm trapped between feeling guilty and perplexed - does this make me an insensitive wife? All I could say was "thank you sweetheart, I'm sorry I didn't get you anything" to accompany a guilt-full of hugs and kisses. And although he repeatedly said it was okay, I couldn't help but notice his blue eyes screaming from disappointment that the thoughtfulness wasn't reciprocated. Hell, I don't blame him if he decides to skip Sweetest Day next year for revenge... but it's not like I forgot Valentines Day or our anniversary. [Right?]

We always joke around about how many "Hallmark days" I get to pick up this year like Mother's Day and our anniversary... but never a mention of Sweetest Day. So arguing against my "need to know" nature, I woke this morning with a quest to find out what this day was all about. It's not on a set day... it's not even on ANY calendar. As it turns out, it supposedly falls on every third Saturday of October. Sweetest Day was invented in 1922 [alas, google reaffirms that this holiday is a modern creation] by a Cleveland candy maker who wanted to spread cheer by bringing candy and gifts to orphans and shut-ins. It goes on to describe that it is primarily celebrated in the Great Lakes region, Ohio being the title holder for Sweetest Day sales... which would probably explain why in all the years that I've dated have I EVER received anything on Sweetest Day.

What do we really mean when we refer to "significant days" as "Hallmark days" anyway? That makes it sound like an obligation, as oppose to a heartfelt show of tenderness. Does sweetness have to be fabricated to suit an occasion? It shouldn't, in my opinion. Aren't we too early into the marriage for that anyway? It doesn't seem that long ago that we were celebrating anniversaries [of us getting together] on a monthly basis. No reminders from the giant card company, just the sincerity of a short one liner email that says 'I love you' or waking up extra early to cook breakfast for the other person. And I trully believe that's what makes the "significant days" that much more significant.

So do I still feel bad I didn't get him anything? You betcha...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Job you want vs Job you need

Today, I had a brief realization that in all my history of finding employment.. I've really had it easy.

At 16, I started helping my mom at the OB-GYN office she worked for and eventually found myself on their payroll as a medical biller.

At 18, I joined the Army and got paid to work out everyday, learn how to shoot a rifle and throw a grenade, and gain what meant to me then as the first step to complete financial independence.

At 19, I was gainfully employed by the University as a student technician -- though I hated dissecting computers and helping people who couldn't even figure out that the reason why their computer's not working is because it isn't turn on, I stuck with it in hopes of adding what masked itself as relative "field experience".

At 20, I stayed with the University but decided to venture a different world in IT and worked with graphic design and webpage publishing.

At 21, I was whisked away by Uncle Sam to Bosnia for a year and got paid to manage a very powerful and military operated propaganda machine masked as a radio station.

At 22, I decided I had to do something [even remotely] relevant to the four-year degree I was working towards on getting and scored an internship with the 4th largest bank in California on the first try. 3 months later, I found myself almost arrogantly turning down two other offers to work as the youngest project manager in the company. I have to admit, I was proud of myself, but the satisfaction was shallow. I got a promising job in my field of study without the degree.

At 23, moving to West Virginia brought out the cynic in me [even relentlessly joked about ending up working at Walmart]. Fortunately, luck was on my side again, and after working as an Executive Assistant temp for about 2 months, I scored and got hired full time as an Office Manager.

Looking back, I'm thankful to all the hiring managers who had the foresight to see through my "yes" attitude. Even though, I was sitting in an interview not 100 percent sure if I even wanted the job, I kept saying "yes I'd love to work here, yes I fit in and yes please hire me". It has worked for me thus far, and although I know there are people who would kill to be in the position that I am in, I am inexorably venting my frustration in not being able to find the right job for me. Yes, despite my uncanny confession that it has been easy for me to find a job, I know that finding any job takes work. The kicker? Finding a job that I want is going to require much harder work.

Like many others, I want a job that satisfies the basic requirement of a good paycheck. I want THE job that continually challenges me to be better, the kind of job that I don't dread every waking moment to. Therein lies the problem of me not really knowing what I want. So how can I be frustrated? It's like looking for an answer to a question that hasn't been presented in the first place...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A different kind of love

Being pregnant has been a challenge, a blessing.. and a learning experience. [I still stand with my claim that no one ever really prepares for something like this]. At first, I didn't know what to think of it. I had to share my body with somebody or something that would change my life completely, and be subjected to an unprecedented amount of constant, though well-meaning patronizing.

"Don't lift anything... Don't drink anything with caffeine.. Go up the stairs one step at a time.." -- No matter what the activity was, there was something potentially unhealthy or dangerous about it. I couldn't understand the fuss. In my opinion, I could still rely on my own sound judgement.
[Don't get me wrong.. being a first time mom, I'll take all the advice I can get]. But being stubborn and self-sufficient as I am, I just keep trying to do my own thing in the face of loud opposition.. which more than often gets me in trouble... especially with Mike. I hate that sometimes. I hate being told that I can't have a cup of capuccino anymore because if I drink anything that has caffeine then we might see a spike in my blood pressure, and if my blood pressure goes higher than normal then that might lead to another anxiety attack, and if I get an anxiety attack then I would need medication, and if I need medication then that can't be good for the baby. It's like being stuck in a carousel of slippery slopes.. round and round it goes.

Before getting pregnant, I was always on the go.. always looking for something new to do. I might have been even considered a risk-taker. Now, even walking outside barefoot is considered a BIG no-no. I am confined to very monitored behavior deemed safe for the child that I'm carrying, and I sometimes [selfishly] feel smothered and overprotected. All of a sudden, it isn't about me anymore and what satisfies my short-lived craving for an adrenaline rush. It's about what's best for my baby.

Sometimes, I even think that this pregnancy is affecting my brain moreso than it's affecting my waistline. But at the end of the day, when the little guy in my stomach starts to kick and Mike gently bends down to give him a kiss... being scolded for insisting on a capuccino frenzy suddenly seems so trivial...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Good Wife's Guide 1955 vs 2005

Click on photo to view full size

Pruportedly an actual article printed on Housekeeping Monthly, May 13, 1955 -- Author unknown.

Most probably wonder if such advice could really come from a national publication, or if this is just another attempt to portray outdated societal behavior to be worse than they really were so as to make a point as to how much we've improved. I admit that when I first read this list I laughed. It is so hopelessly out of date now that I can hardly imagine any modern woman taking it seriously. I found it hard to believe that any person would seriously abdicate their right to question the actions of their spouse, or that any person would sincerely believe that their thoughts and concerns are of minimal importance next to those of their partner, but I know that situations like this were not at all uncommon in the 1950's.

We don't want to believe that any woman, even half a century ago, was willing to submit herself to a life of servitude in order to be considered successful at her "most important role in life," that of the wife. But no matter how you look at it, we have come a long way in 50 years. And as a new member of The Wives' Club in year 2005, here's my take on this Good Wife's Guide.

1955 Have dinner ready: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal - on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him, and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.

2005 Spend about half an hour arguing as to whose turn it is to cook dinner this time as you have both been working hard all day [apparently, paying for take out the night before counts so be careful when you make your arguments]. When he starts to give you the slip, offer to help with his food preparation task for the night by taking out the pots he would need to use. Remember to compliment the chef and thank him after the meal; this is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are fully aware that you would starve to death if he weren't so concerned about your needs. And if you can't bring yourself to let him clean up the kitchen and cook yet again, it wouldn't kill you to pick up the tab for the Taco Bell the night after.

1955 Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

2005 Prepare yourself. Don't start looking like a hobo just because you're married now and don't feel the need to impress anybody. He has just been with a lot of girls at work who wear low cut shirts and mini skirts, so you'll have to stay on top of looking best when he comes home to remind him of what he's got. But don't overdo it that you look like a totally different person from who he wakes up next to in the morning.

1955 Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

2005 Being a little gay will just confuse him and get his hopes up; after all, you don't want to encourage a threesome. Offer to talk about your boring day and compare it to his, you'll find it amusing that you still find something in common.

1955 Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

2005 Teach him that dirty clothes go in the hamper, not the floor. Leave the bills scattered on the kitchen counter so he won't miss it when he gets home. If you're in a good mood, you'll go through the clutter and find the remote control and have it ready for him. If you're having a shitty day, hide it under the couch so you won't have to put up with another night of football.

1955 Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

2005 Over the cooler months of the year, you're allowed to refrain from shaving to give your skin more layers to keep you warm. Use the weather as an excuse to cuddle up and stay in bed all day, that is until one of you gets hungry and it sparks an argument as to whose turn it is to get food. Make lots of hot chocolate for each other, it will provide you with immense personal satisfaction not caving into the Starbucks fad.

1955 Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

2005 Greet him with a warm smile before reminding him that it's his turn to prepare dinner. If he does a good job, then maybe there'll be some pleasing for dessert.

1955 Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

2005 Listen to him, but make sure you nod occasionally and make "uhuh" noises to make him think that his topics of conversation are more important than yours. After he's done talking, make him listen to you talk about the new pink shirt you just bought on sale.

1955 Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

2005 If he comes home late or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you, this entitles you to do the same. If he finds it boring to spend all his time with you, there's probably something wrong.

1955 Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he may have gone through that day.

2005 If he's late home for dinner or he stays out all night without giving you a valid reason, you should start digging in his pant pockets for girls' phone numbers.

1955 Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

2005 Your husband is to be prepared to account for his whereabouts every minute of the day, including an explanation as to why he was away from the phone when you tried to call or why he was unable to chat with you for twenty minutes when you do finally get through to him. He is to be mindful of your natural suspicion about your husband's activities, especially after you've watched re-runs of Cheaters. You should ask quite a few questions about his actions if he suddenly starts insisting that herpes can be transmitted electronically. You should then question your own judgment and integrity for marrying him based on the results of a Cosmo Quiz.

1955 A good wife always knows her place.

2005 A good wife always knows how to put her husband in place.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Stop trying to be polite

We've been married for 24 days [officially anyway] and so far so good...

I have found myself astonished with the number of people who actually asks "How's married life treating you?" -- What do people want when they ask that? The problem is I don't believe that they honestly want to know. And although I can think of several flip and not-so-proper responses, I often find myself in need of something that gently lets the questioner know that it is an inane question yet still makes them go away satisfied that I'm happy with my decision to marry and haven't changed my mind thus far.

This question may appear to show an interest in the person's life, but it actually shows that the asker hasn't stopped to think that the marriage they're alluding to was NOT arranged, shotgun, green card, same-sex, a dumb joke... or simply, a BIG mistake. Whether or not the asker has taken the time to consider it, their question suggests doubt that the newlyweds were stable enough to justify marriage. It is not polite; it is thoughtless.

Let's start a little pop-culture trend away from this question. It's trite, it's unoriginal, and it's got to stop. If you must try to be nice, ask about life without the stress of wedding-planning. Now that's worth talking about.

But in case you are one of the few that really does care, I will tell you.

Truth is... NOTHING has changed.

Although fans of the Catholic church still frown upon the notion of "cohabitation", Mike and I [with our parents' blessings] lived together for a little bit over a year before tying the knot. This gave us a free pass on the pressure from the transition between having just a recreational partner to having a life partner. We already went through the disenchantments and disillusionments of marriage before even saying "I Do"... and instead of looking at our experiences as forms of rude awakening, we used them as stepping stones to deepen and strengthen our relationship. Given that, some might think that we must be over the glamour of the honeymoon stage, and if you think that, you are seriously mistaken.


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