Saturday, November 26, 2005

If I had a million dollars

I don't remember the last time I cried like that. It was as if someone had stolen my dog, and I don't even have a dog. I'd like to blame those rampant hormones for causing me to bawl, but for some reason..... well, hell.... I don't know why I cried. And as to where the debate of what we would do if we won 30 million dollars in the lottery originated from, we'll never know. Never mind that our chances of winning are just slightly better than the chances of being abducted by aliens... especially since we don't buy lottery tickets. But still, winning the lottery is a favorite daydream for a lot of people, and I'm no exception.

So what would I do?

I would pay off all of our debts: good riddance to student loans and credit card bills.

I would set aside a college fund: one for my sister, one for my brother, and one for my little Mikey.

I would buy a house in California, close to the beach, preferably overlooking.. nothing too big that it'd be a full time job to keep it clean, with just enough rooms: one for me and Mike, our two kids, and a guest room in case the grammas and grampas want to visit. I want a nice stoned fireplace in the living room with vaulted ceilings, a big kitchen with granite countertops and a huge backyard where little Mikey can play.

I would trade my Hyundai Elantra in for a better car... nothing super fancy like a Porsche or a Rolls Royce or anything. Maybe that Lexus I300 I had been eyeing, or a BMW 650i convertible..

I would buy my mom her dream house on a hill, but she's recently just bought that for herself, and she already drives a Mercedes Benz, so maybe I'll just help her pay off the house... and then send her off to a well-deserved vacation somewhere.

I would give money to Mike's parents too, maybe help them pay off their debts.. and then send them off to that same well-deserved vacation with my parents. They could go on a double date.

I would go shopping. Not Paris-Hilton-over-the-hill-kind-of-shopping... (in fact, I've been so brainwashed I'd probably still go for the sale racks) but just fun enough that I don't have to worry about how many hours I have to work for that cute sweater at Express.

I would start my own business.. which probably means I would quit my job, but only so that I could be my own boss.

And finally, I would invest the rest.

That's reasonable, isn't it? Even after Uncle Sam takes his bite into the 30 million dollars, these probably won't even make a dent to that kind of money. The argument started, I suppose, when Mike started questioning as to why I would need a new house and a new car for. Truth is, I can't begin to fathom what it would be like to have that much.. but what kind of comeback do you really have to that, besides a snotty "WHY NOT"? But by the time I realized I needed something a little more conducive than an almost childish "because I can", I was in deep trouble. The more I tried to argue that a new house and a new car are luxuries I wouldn't hesitate to spend on if I had the means, the more he made me feel like I was being impractical.

Perhaps that was it that set me off. I detested having my dreams being cursed impractical. I'm a simple girl, a living testament that there are girls who don't need expensive jewelry and designer purses to make their lives meaningful and complete. I wouldn't go as far as putting myself on a pedestal and claim to be the extreme opposite of high maintenance, but it pragmatically doesn't take very much to please me. His argument was that there's nothing wrong with my Elantra, and that having millions of dollars doesn't validate the fact that it's a reliable car and doesn't need to be replaced. And then I remember asking him if he didn't think I deserved a better car, and he told me that just because we have more money, that doesn't mean I deserve something better. Then he argued that I shouldn't use money to measure what makes me happy.

Yes, I agree that money shouldn't be used to measure happiness. Money is a tool to help people achieve what they want, but is not an end in itself. I am also an avid believer that being grateful is its own reward -- that if you value what you have, you'll always feel as though what you have is enough. And I'm thankful for having the best partner I could ask for, thankful for the townhouse we now live in, thankful for the reliable car that I currently drive, and thankful that our families live comfortable lives. BUT... if we had the means to afford the house of our dreams and a better car, I don't think it is asking for too much to bump ourselves to an upgrade. And I'm sorry... I may be a simple girl, but every once in a while, I like to convince myself that I actually deserve a lot better than I can afford. That's why people go to college.. to get a better paying job.. to be able to afford nicer things.. isn't it? It's true that money doesn't buy you happiness, but if people were always content with the bare minimum, what will motivate them to do better?

Mike and I live modestly. And I glorify the fact that for the most part, we see eye to eye when it comes to prioritizing. And up to this point, we haven't really had any arguments when it comes to differentiating between what's a necessity and what's a luxury. So imagine how it blew me away that perhaps our first fight about $$ was over a fictitious matter such as how to spend our lottery winnnings. So I cried, and he questioned, and I cried some more. And the whole time I probably knew that it was such a silly thing to cry about, especially when there's no doubt in my mind that that man would do anything to make me happy.......

...... even if that means trading in my Elantra for a beamer.

Friday, November 25, 2005

What a Girl has to be Thankful For

My family was never notorious for going all out on Thanksgiving [Christmas was more our holiday]. For as long as I can remember, my mom has consistently stayed with the safe option of serving honey baked ham instead of the traditional turkey meal... But we always spent it together as a family, which is the cliche of it all. Or at least, that's what it used to be like. This year though, they continue the nontraditional tradition for the third year in a row with an empty seat and a long distance phone call with a series of "Sorry I couldn't be there". 2 years ago, I was deployed in Bosnia. Last year, Mike and I got in a car accident on the way to my mom's house on Thanksgiving day. And this year.. after a flat tire that sent Mike cursing Thanksgiving as his most hated holiday, my first real east coast snow fall, and nearly six uncomfortable hours driving on the icy road.. we made it to Cleveland to spend Thanksgiving with Mike's family.

Thanks to Mama Mary and Aggie... we all pigged out on some good turkey and stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans casserole, and pumpkin rolls -- I wasn't very much help in the kitchen this time around. I hate to use my unborn child as an excuse, but I was too engulfed with just trying to stay comfortable that I've probably failed to offer help more than I should've. You can never be too uncomfortable to eat though.. which I did a lot of without an ounce of guilt of holding back. I figured... I've already put on 30 lbs the past 7 months, another 2 lbs of a Thanksgiving meal prepared with love won't be such a stretch.

A few other things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving:
  • New family, new traditions
  • Family and friends gathering together for food, good company, and a heated game of Phase 10
  • My opinion on pumpkin rolls being OFFICIALLY overturned
  • Having fun listening to the guys beg to switch the channel back to the football game
  • Watching Mike and Matt wrestle on the bed like they were 5 (and making me wish our next kid is a girl)
  • Having a nasty case of the giggles from Uncle Dave's funny comments that I almost peed in my pants from laughing so hard
  • Planning on hosting little Mikey's first Thanksgiving dinner next year
  • Sitting by the fireplace

What I miss about Thanksgiving:

  • Honey baked ham and my mom's dinner rolls
  • Feeding leftovers to the dogs
  • Going to the movies after dinner with my brother and sister, and friends
  • Joining the ranks of crazy shoppers with my mom and sister the day after Thanksgiving
  • Shopping for a Christmas tree that weekend after Thanksgiving
  • My family, old traditions

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Shower us with Love

I've always thought of traditional baby showers to be so centered at gift-giving. By default, everyone always assuems that baby showers are to welcome the new member to the family.. but by convention, isn't the goal collect things for the baby? -- particularly to help parents get items they may not be able to afford -- Not that I'm complaining. I've learned fairly quickly that we probably should have just gotten a dog. [Just kidding..] I think Mike and I live fairly modestly. Take it from someone who married a guy who swears that NEVER in his lifetime will he ever buy me a COACH purse. And hey, my mother has trained me well to hunt for bargains and go for the SALE racks first. So it's not surprising that we're not the type to turn away second hand clothes or too proud to shop for pre-owned baby gear... let alone turn down a baby shower. So when Mama Mary [ a term I'm amicably bidding my new mother-in-law from this point on because continuously calling my second mom "Mike's Mom" just doesn't seem very fitting ] and Aunt Aggie [ who actually hates being called Aunt ] told us they were throwing us one, we were ecstatic.

Everything screamed Winnie the Pooh, from the streamers to the napkins to the cake. The cake was especially yummy because the baker hand-designed it to match the shower invitations since they couldn't just scan the picture due to some lame copyright issues. Then there was the chocolate fountain... Ever since the wedding, I've had at least 2 other people tell me that they loved the idea so much from the reception that they got their own fondue machine -- which, in its now increasing popularity seems to be getting a lot cheaper and a lot more accessible. Who can resist dipping into a fountain-flowing chocolate anyway?

Mike and I had a blast at the shower, mostly me anyway, since his attention was a little divided between the shower games and watching the Michigan-Ohio State game. I didn't mind so much, as long as he was there oohing and aahing along with me when it came to opening the gifts, which unsurprisingly was the highlight of the afternoon [right next to the very popular mini-chocolate fountain]. I have to admit I was a bit on the timid side, considering I didn't know 90% of the people who were nice enough to come and shower us with baby presents.. but it was really sweet nonetheless being welcomed to the family the way they did. Little Mikey got a lot of clothes.. I can't wait until I can start dressing him up in little tuxes (he's supposed to be in one of my bestfriend's wedding next year) and little Cleveland Brown jerseys. He also got tons of the little necessities -- pacifiers, toys, bottles -- and plenty of decorative stuff for his nursery. Best part of it all was getting to meet Mike's relatives from his mom's side that I hadn't met before. None of them were able to make it to our wedding in California, and it worked out even better for Mike since he hadn't seen the majority of them in a long time either.

After the shower, we met up with some of Mike's friends for a little 'catch up' dinner at Dave & Busters, and harnessed my only worsening bowling skills shortly thereafter. I ended up playing the default designated driver, but I don't mind so much that he helped himself with a couple of beers. Hanging out with his old friends are very few and far inbetween anyway.. and after next week's Thanksgiving weekend trip, we probably won't be seeing much of Ohio for a while at least until after the baby's born.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Belly Advantages


Your stomach is huge enough that you can sit a plate of your midnight honey barbeque wings on it... Look ma! No hands!


So much for exercise... now I get a special parking spot closer than the handicapped spots...


It tickles mostly... but it's just the most precious thing Mike could do whenever I think I got it bad.. suddenly I don't mind my insides being used as a punching bag.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Week 29

From Pregnancy Guide Online: The baby's head is in proportion to the rest of the body. Fat continues to accumulate under the skin. The brain can control primitive breathing and body temperature control, and the eyes can move in the sockets. The baby is becoming sensitive to light, sound, taste and smell.

New mommy pains have taken centerstage this week. I have what they call "supine hypotensive syndrome" -- when I lie on my back, my heart rate changes and I get dizzy.. I stand too fast or turn my head too quickly and I get dizzy. Even sitting for long stretches make me dizzy. I've quickly learned though that there's really nothing I can do to prevent it or lessen it.. just one of those things I get to add to the list of the inevitable.

But alas.. misery does love company, and so it doesn't stop there. My first glucose screening came back with elevated levels of blood sugar so I had to go back for a second run... this time, for a much longer screening. So I spent most of my day off on Friday sitting in the hospital getting pricked at every hour.. and I don't find out for another week whether I have gestational diabetes or not. I'm praying the results will come back normal this time, although I wouldn' t be too surprised if it doesn't.. seeing as I have a strong family history of diabetes. Mike has already tried restricting my levels of sugar intake, which in my opinion is just plain cruel telling a pregnant lady she can't have any more sweets for the day. Wouldn't it be ironic that eliminating sugar from my diet would be the one to push me to the edge and be by far the worst I've had to get used to during this pregnancy...

Monday, November 07, 2005


I'm a sucker for war movies.. most days, if given a choice between watching GI Jane or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, I'd choose Demi's invitation to "suck her dick" over Kate Hudsons dating experiment... hands down. Those films that most people saw as pure horror -- "Apocalypse Now", "Full Metal Jacket", "Saving Private Ryan" -- films that showed nothing but brutal images of death and carnage... those are the same films that soldiers consider as despicably beautiful manifestations of what they are trained to do. To me, it's more than just seeing "shit get blown up".. I suppose having been in the military has conditioned me to take an interest in the cultural beliefs about heroism, politics, the military and views of authority, justice, patriotism, family and MY personal favorite... gender issues and relationships. Yet I don't consider myself a war movie junkie... a critic, maybe... but a movie buff, nah.

This is why I wasn't too surprised that seeing previews for Jarhead gave me a sense of eagerness I haven't shown towards ANY mainstream movie in a long time... even if it is about the Marines [no offense, but in my whole military career, let's just say I didn't have too many pleasurable encounters with the hoorahs]. So opening weekend came, and we were all over it... but I have to say I walked out a little torn. It was like a war movie without the war... either that, or a documentary turned into a really bad recruiting film. In the beginning, the bootcamp shots looked almost like modern snapshots of Kubrik's infamous "Full Metal Jacket"... which would lead one to believe that all that craziness has got to lead somewhere... but it doesn't.

The film is supposed to be based on a memoir by a Tony Swafford, the lead character in the movie [most of which I spent trying to figure out who the lead actor was, but didn't realize til later on that it's the same guy that played Donnie Darko]. Basically, it was a movie about a bunch of sex-obsessed, gun-worshipping boys bedeviled by the idea that "Jody" is banging their girlfriends back home who are sent to Kuwait to wait.... and wait.... and wait some more.. until in the end they are driven half mad when, having been turned into killing machines, they are just blantly denied the opportunity to kill. There were a lot of character struggles.. but mostly it just showed the dehumanizing aspects of military life, the sadism, and the camaraderie -- none of which is going to strike anyone as news.. especially now. I think CNN tells that story enough, which renders this movie almost outmoded.

Was it told the way how things really happen to most soldiers deployed oversees? Probably. The sneaking of the alcohol during the holidays.. the constant wondering whether that sweetheart back home who promised to wait for you is actually waiting.. the substantial pressure of fighting boredome by watching two scorpions fight... perfecting the art of masturbation...

Friday, November 04, 2005

California is my home

They say home is where your heart is. My heart is here now.. with my new family.. yet every once in a lonely while, my subconscious still insists on dreaming about going "back home". I want to say it's more than just the weather.. the satirical fact that one can enjoy the beach the first half of the day and then take pleasure in a hot chocolate at snowy Big Bear mountain that same night. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the culture. I miss GOOD Thai food. I miss listening to KROQ. I miss the salsa clubs. I miss watching the fireworks at downtown Disney. I miss the animal style In N Out cheeseburgers with grilled onions. I miss Dennys. I miss having bonfires at the beach. I miss watching the crazy KTLA morning news. I miss boba..... mmmmmmm.... yes, I miss sucking those sticky balls through over-sized straws. *sigh*

Sure, Mike and I talk about moving back eventually.. weighing in the pros and cons -- but slowly, we're starting to realize that the same alluring factors that would convince us to go back might be outweighed by the diminishing dream of owning a real estate. I am ademant about not going back to live in a one bedroom apartment in the "909" -- which seems to be the only affordable place in Southern California that is still fairly close to the city, without ACTUALLY living in the desert. The move has allowed us a hefty upgrade to a three-bedroom and 1.5 bath townhouse in the "rich" area of the mountain state. All our bills had been cut in half, and although I spent quite a bit of time unemployed when we first moved, we were still able to live more than moderately just with Mike's income. I don't think I'd be saying the same if we were living back in California.

We want a house. And if anything is going to prevent us from going back home, that would be it. Decent starter houses now cost as much as $400,000... and for that kind of money here in West Virginia, you could own a mansion and have more acres of land than you can handle. The idea of living in the middle of the desert in a prefab 1,200-square-foot home, stretching ourselves financially and driving three hours a day, doesn't seem all too appealing, and might not be a worth-while sacrifice.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Week 28

From Pregnancy Guide Online: Our little miracle is growing and developing at an astonishing rate! Eyebrows and eyelashes are now present, and the hair on the head is growing. The eyelids open, and the eyes are completely formed. The body is getting plumper and rounder (weighs about 2 pounds) and is composed of around 2 to 3% body fat. Muscle tone is gradually improving. The lungs are capable of breathing air but if the baby is born now, it would struggle to properly breathe. Be sure to talk to your baby a lot because s/he can recognize your voice now!

I've been slacking on keeping up with the "usual" baby developments on a weekly basis for a while now (in the beginning, it was, "Guess what, baby, this is the week the neurons start generating!"), but I just took a quick look and yeesh, 15 inches of baby seems like a lot to be packing in there. It's been a pretty entertaining couple of days... I suppose there must be some kind of baby origami involved, as the baby's been positioned in such a way that little knees and elbows are actually periodically poking out of my belly with more and more force every which way. On the other hand, supposedly it's only two pounds of kid riding around in my belly, which is hard for me to believe - that's the equivalent of only eight quarter pounders, while my estimate would've put it more along the lines of a midsize turkey.

And that isn't the only pregnancy whine I have this week. I'm always tired now. Exhausted really. I have to wonder how much of what I'm suddenly experiencing this week is being influenced by some sort of subliminal biofeedback. I mean, having heard over and over that the second trimester is the easiest and most comfortable time of pregnancy [they lie by the way], it is rather curious that the aches, pains, and insomnia clocked in prematurely before I even started my third trimester and have now taken a turn for the worse. I am starting to have ocassional Braxton hicks, normal non-working contractions, and little Mikey continues to wiggle up a storm... particularly when I'm sitting down. He has since decided that my cervix is the best trampoline in the world and so I join the ranks of cliche of having to go to the bathroom every 2 minutes.

He does love it when I rub my fingers against his back, and he pushes out harder til he has had enough. Ironically, what seems to calm him down the best is when Mike puts his hand on my stomach - almost like they have a father-and-son deal going on that I don't know about. I really do believe that the baby can interact with you [even though Mike doesn't like it when I poke my belly]. I think that it is important to "play" with the baby... and on those hard pregnant days, it seems to be about the only thing that pulls me through. I'm singing to him more too, and it may be my imagination, but it seems to have a calming effect. I can only hope that it works just as well after he's born.

I'm due for my glucose tolerance test sometime before my next appointment on the 10th. I'm worried because for the past week, I've been eating so much candy [thanks to ladies here at work bringing in pounds of Halloween treats] that I'm afraid little Mikey will come out with cavities! I forget that I'm at higher risk for gestational diabetes because my mom had it for all her three pregnancies. Guess we'll have to wait.

Baby stuff updates: I've bought him a Winnie the Pooh walker (Mike teases me because he says Mikey won't use that for months). My sister just bought us the most adorable Winnie the Pooh diaper bag, and a Winnie the Pooh baby scrapbook. She seems to have been mesmerized by buying baby stuff because she bought us the stroller and carseat not too long ago! And Mike has just bought a stethoscope so we could hear little Mikey's heartbeat as often as we please!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The plight of the working mom

Little girls are always told, "You can be whatever you want when you grow up, and you can have it all!", but what they don't tell those little girls is how hard it will be - not because you are a female in a mans world, but because if wanting a family is one on your list, there will be sacrifices to be made.

Personally, I always said I wanted to be settled in my career, and be at a point in my life where I have enjoyed all there is to enjoy before I start a family. But when is that supposed to be anyway? I'm the type of person that is NEVER satisfied.. no matter the level I will always strive to be higher and better, so the concept of me "settling" is almost propesterous. And is there EVER a point in ANYONE's life where they can rightfully claim to have enjoyed all there is to enjoy?

Since the move to the east coast, my career has taken an uncanny turn accompanying my decision not to pursue the IT field. I am just two classes shy of getting my Bachelor's degree, and as deplorable as it sounds, that priority has taken a [quite easy] provisional backseat to preparing for motherhood. Do I regret not "finishing" before having a baby? I did get a diminutive feeling of guilt for not keeping my promise to my mom that I would graduate before getting married. I can honestly say that I did all that I could, and I sincerely believe that she understands in her heart that I haven't given up on that yet, it just has temporarily been put on hold. Given that, not an inch of my body exudes a feeling of regret that I am about to be a mother myself. Sure I miss going to the clubs, traveling without the [now customary] hourly pit stops, and every once in a blue moon I would crave for a good serving of strawberry margarita. *sigh*

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm terrified -- I'm terrified of when the day comes and I have to leave my baby to go back to work... to join the club of mothers who carry the massive responsibility of balancing a lucrative career and a happy family. I've seen it done, it's not impossible.. but can one be excellent at both? I've seen women whose careers had to come to a stand still on the corporate ladder because while the others worked on the weekends to impress the big boss, they were at soccer games. They had the extra worries of doctors appointments and teachers conferences or having to leave work early to make it to daycare on time.
That would be me.... because the flipside to this doesn't appeal to me - being a stay home mom just isn't my thing. Mike says as much as I would enjoy taking care of the baby, that my personality almost requires the intellectual banter at work and the headaches of never-ending deadlines. That's why I've been trying to brainwash him about taking on the role of the stay-home Mister Mom, but I'm afraid he's not budging either.

There are books out there of really successful women who have made both work so well, but they seem to all have extenuating circumstances like a stay at home husband or more money than God. Neither of which I have : ) Also, the "grass is greener on the other side" comment of looking at these women comes in to play. A lot of them LOOK like they have it all, but I honestly think a deeper dive into their lives would show differently. Can you tell me that they don’t feel pangs of guilt when they can’t be with their kids when they are sick or have a school field trip and they aren’t there? Can you tell me that their job doesn’t suffer when they have to attend parent-teacher conferences mid-day? What a toss up!

So here I sit... researching for daycares. With my determination and my husband's gift to provide support while keeping me in line at the same time... I KNOW that I will be successful at both. I just wish someone had told me when I was growing up that "hey, you can be whatever you want, but remember that it is hard to be the best Mom and the best worker in the world".


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