Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas Post Mortem

This was Mike and I's 3rd Christmas together. Interestingly enough,we've spent all three holidays in three different places. First was inBosnia. Last year was in California. And this year, in West Virginia. I now wonder if it's all just coincidence or if we've subconsciously started a tradition. If it's the latter, I'm intrigued [only slightly non-opposed to another bothersome move...] as to where our next stop's going to be. There was talk about spending next Christmas with my family in the Philippines. We figured it would be the most peaceful time to introduce Mike to the slums of a third world country... AND meet the rest of my clan, of course. Little Mikey would be almost 1 then, we can probably even spend his birthday there, depending on how close he actually pops out after New Year.

But I digress...

Christmas this year was fun. My sister bravely battled (and conquered) her fear of airports and flew to West Virginia armed with a standby pass. That alone, perhaps, deserve a sturdy recognition since flying standby during the holidays can be as painful as getting a root canal. Getting to the East Coast wasn't too bad. She flew into Cleveland with no problems, and Mike made the 8 hour (roundtrip) trek to pick her up and down to WV. Going back to the land of warm weather, however, took a little bit more elbow grease. I think she must've spent the whole day after Christmas trying to fly back. She swears it was all worth it though. I'm ecstatic that as little time as I had to spend time with her, she was able to pick me up from my laborious slump. She made me laugh so much I thought I was going to go into labor. But that, I'm afraid, would've just been too convenient.

Mike's whole family came down and spent Christmas with us too. It was decided earlier on that because of my forseeable condition, that we would drive up to Ohio and spend Thanksgiving there and they would drive down to West Virginia to spend Christmas here. It worked out great because before we even found out that we were moving to the east coast... Mike and I collectively (as newlyweds) decided we would alternate the holidays between families so as to avoid any unnecessary in-law squabbles in the future.

While everyone did their last minute Christmas shopping, Mike and I baked our traditional Christmas sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. Last year, we actually put em in tin cans and distributed it (although sadly enough, the one that was intended to be sent to his Gramma in Ohio sat helplessly at the bottom of a pile of mess in my trunk for months....). This year, we decided to be selfish and kept it all in the kitchen. Mike even made a special batch with Splenda to cater his diabetic dad, which I thought tasted short of just flour disguised as a cookie. For dinner, I cooked my mom's traditional baked ham basted with honey and pineapples. Then I got brave and tried a new recipe for beef brisket with veggies which actually came out pretty good. And despite the batch of burnt dinner rolls that tried to ruin the night, it was overall a nice, humble Christmas feast.

And for the first time since we set foot in this state, we actually went to midnight mass. Mike and I are such holiday Catholics... the last time we remember being in church was Palm Sunday. This, of course, isn't an epiphany.. since it's been a couple of weeks now that we've talked about going but never actually did. It is quite sad, since I used to never miss church (especially because I led the choir for a good couple of years). But even after showing up half an hour early, we failed to come early enough to score seats inside the cathedral and ended up watching the mass from a flatscreen tv out in the hallway along with all the latecomers.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Week 34

The girls at work are starting to call me hateful. I nearly threw a fit in the breakroom when I saw that people left dirty dishes on the sink. This, I admit, is short of being hypocritical because Mike and I sometimes have the same problem at home.. but I don't take that habit to work!

Normally, see, I’m a little pessimistic about humanity at large, I’ll admit. As I’ve put it before, I am in awe of what we are capable of accomplishing and sometimes do accomplish, and in despair over what we normally make of all our great abilities. On one side, great art, cathedrals, magnificently high-minded constitutions, incredible feats of physical ability, and technology that reaches out to the stars. On the other, wars, genocide, poverty, neglect, and the grinding pettiness of everyday life. I can always use whatever help I can get in feeling positive about humanity at large and where the world is going.

Let's think a little less global, shall we, and talk about my growing pessimism about popping the little trooper out.

I am desperately trying (and miserably failing, I think) to be positive about the remaining weeks of this pregnancy. I envy those who are able to boast that they "loved" being pregnant -- whatever the hell that means. I, however, refuse to believe that someone could go through 40 weeks of blissful and uneventful pregnancy... while I spend countless hours of the day biting my lip from pelvic pains.

It's gotten worse the past 2 weeks. Any activity that involves lifting one leg at a time or parting the legs tends to be particularly painful. Lifting my leg to put on clothes in the morning, getting in and out of the car, bending over, sitting down or getting up, walking up and down the stairs, and walking in general tend to be difficult at times. Moving or turning over in bed is especially excruciating, and I find myself often trying to decipher whether the pain means I'm going into labor or not. Getting out of bed in the morning has become a daily challendge, as I find it hard to get my body moving right away -- nevermind the mandatory trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night that often leaves me in tears.

My next OB appointment isn't til next Thursday, although I plan on giving her a call tomorrow to see if she could give me something for the pain. I've told her about it before, my concerns especially were heightened after tripping while crossing the road 2 weeks ago that left me with a bruised hip. She assured me it's "normal" during pregnancy though... but normal or not, I need drugs if that's what it takes to earn a couple of painless hours.

"Just think", Mike says in an email in his most honest attempt to reassure the cynic he married, "it'll only get worse"....

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Feeling Manic

I genuinely enjoy the everyday musings at work. Working for the Office of Maternal, Child and Health, I am constantly surrounded by personal pregnancy horror stories and heaps of old wives tales. I discretely laugh in the face of those who insist that the reason why I'm having so much heartburn is because my child will have a lot of hair when he is born. I've said this many times before... but if that were true, I must be giving birth to a monkey... because heartburn introduced itself from day 1 of the pregnancy and hasn't left me since.

The email system is not impervious to all this banter, and every once in a while I get forwarded chain letters that concern babies, rainbows and all that sappy stuff. Predisposed to most junk mail that start with "FWD", I tend to miss out on a lot of the ones actually worth reading, but for some reason, there was this particular one called "Before I was a Mom" that stuck out and left a mark with me. After reading it, my first instinct was to do exactly what I judge other people in doing... which is to forward it to someone else. And so I fought my partiality and forwarded it to my mom and Mama Mary.

Mama Mary emailed me back with something along the lines of taking the baby and leaving me with the dirty laundry. Conversely, I am willing to bet my whole paycheck that my mom hasn't even read the email yet. Growing up with the typewriter generation (and I sincerely and truthfully say that without a hint of sarcasm), she just doesn't correspond well using the internet. In fact, when I spent a year deployed in Bosnia, I considered myself lucky to have gotten ONE email from her throughout the entire time. But that's beside my today's rant...

I'm saddened by the fact that I can't share this whole pregnancy experience with my mom. Not the way I had imagined I would anyway. We talk on the phone.. she would try to convince me to fly back to California and have the baby there instead. And still, every once in a while, she would joke about sending the baby to California to live with her until Mike and I decide to go back there. Rumor has it that she's been collecting little baby stuff and saving it for when she comes in January when I'm expected to deliver. But the phone calls are very few, far and between.. and unless it's initiated by me, there probably won't be any communication at all. Beyond my already unstable hormones and emotional outbursts, I try to comprehend her reasoning behind the lack of intrest (or at least that's what it presents itself to be)... but I'm almost too afraid to ask.

I'm sure I've discretely brought it up on more than once occasion, and every time she would come back with "you shouldn't have moved away" -- which not only makes me feel like a big pile of shit (like I've deprived my family of the experience of seeing me blow up like a balloon and having a little one to spoil), it also makes me feel.. well.... extremely lonely.

I try to convince myself that I'm just being overly needy for attention, but I genuinely don't think I am. I dread that my baby won't recognize my family since flying between here and there costs about an arm and a leg. But I guess the reality of it is that we don't know if we'll ever have the convenience of it all.

Right now, I'll take all the attention I can get...

For those who want to read the forward.. here goes:

Before I was a Mom

Before I was a Mom I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.
Before I was a Mom - I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night.
Before I was a Mom I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.
Before I was a Mom I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.
Before I was a Mom - I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.
Before I was a Mom - I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth, The joy, The love, The heartache, The wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.
And before I was a Grandma, I didn't know that all those "Mom" feelings more than doubled when you see that little bundle being held by "your baby"...
Send this to someone who you think is a special Mom or Grandma. I just did.
And remember that behind every successful mother... Is a basket of dirty laundry

Monday, December 05, 2005

Watch Out Martha Stewart

After a long-winded debate of whether to stick with the traditional live tree, we finally decided against it and instead got a loaner 7.5 ft artificial tree from Mike's parents (after all, they're going to be spending this year's Christmas with us here). It barely took us 15 minutes to put it up, it doesn't need to be watered, and less pine needles to vaccum...

I'm proud of our tree this year. Much to my powers of pursuasion (or perhaps the days of whining and begging Mike to shy away from the overrated multi-colored theme this year)... we decorated our tree with royal blue, white and silver. He didn't like the idea of having to buy all new ornaments, but 35 Walmart dollars later, and after all was said and done.. I'm pretty sure he was impressed at how well it turned out too. It's still missing a tree topper though. For some reason, we're being awfully picky about that.. but we have some ideas up our sleeves.

No presents under the tree yet. I did bravely spend about 2 hours at the store yesterday to pick up some gifts for my brother and sister and Mike (which my legs later on painfully paid for) so I have some wrapping to do tonight.. which incidently, also happens to be my most favorite Christmas chore. It used to be shopping... but 33 lbs heavier and always gasping for air, I shamelessly just don't have the energy to walk the mall corridors for countless hours anymore.

I also picked up our traditional ornament... we started a tradition that every year, we would get a new ornament that best represents our year together. Part of the deal was that we would take turns every year, and last year he got a Precious Moments "Our First Christmas" ornament.

This year... well... my pick is a surprise.

Yo Quiero...

One of the hardest parts of leaving Los Angeles is leaving its sheer abundance of cosmopolitan food selection. They say, after all, that you know that you're a real Southern Californian if you have a favorite Thai restaurant. My personal fave? "Mix Bowl Cafe" on Indian Hill off the Interstate 10. That place served as my pure refuge when I couldn't stomach cafeteria food any longer, was too lazy (or drunk) to cook anything at 2 am, or too disgusted to eat oil-drenched fast food. I never regretted spending my hard earned dollars on a plate of freshly cooked-to-order chicken with cashew nuts over rice or a steaming plate of pad thai partnered with boba swimming at the bottom of a sea of thirst-quenching Thai iced tea. Indeed, I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Much to my surprise, there is ONE Thai restaurant within reasonable driving distance from where we live now.. a finders keepers credit due to one of Mike's co-workers (who also happens to be asian AND a California native). The food is nothing close to spectacular, and I'm sad to say that the same reason they can jack up their meal prices to above reasonable is the same reason I keep going back -- simply because it's the only one around (perhaps in the whole state of West Virginia). In fact, I might pay them a visit tonight. Since Mike's out of town, I possess zero motivation to cook. Another downfall: they don't serve boba.

True Southern Californians laugh at the face of the talking chihuahua because Taco Bell and Del Taco aren't even considered authentic mexican food. Those who live close enough to the border are especially blessed, but non-mainstream taco shacks are just extraordinarily everywhere. And depending on how close you live to a Mexican community, you might even get lucky and find an actual roving burrito truck. I especially love going to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles in the middle of a Cinco de Mayo celebration.. sure, it's a bitch to find parking, but all is fair in love, war, and superb carne asada. The vendors have even gotten smart and through the years upgraded their menus from bilingual to ALL PICTURE menus so all you have to do is point and you're on your way to culinary heaven. And who could forget King Taco? They're small, often crowded, hardly anyone speaks English, but the smell alone will capture you. There's nothing like the smell of King Taco's tamales in the afternoon....

Around here, they have a chain of mexican restaurants called "Rio Grande" (Ri-o meaning River by translation and Gran-de meaning Big by translation, although Mike insists on calling it "grand" as he would call the Grand Canyon. I fancy the way he discards the "e" when he pronounces it, he says it's the "American" way of saying it...) *giggle* --- The food isn't bad, in my opinion. The chefs have travelled far but has stayed relatively close to their roots. Perhaps, the even more interesting fact is that EVERY mexican who lives in the great ol' state of West Virginia works in a Rio Grande. I'm not sure if that's a recruiting gambit or just a correlation that the first job application a mexican migrant fills out is to a place where he could make use of his/her first language. Either way, Mike and I have become frequent visitors there that they now all call us their "amigos"..... (they actually call everyone that, lol). But I'm a little embarassed to say, that lately I have been craving a lot of Taco Bell's Southwest steak bowl... a far cry from the authentic Mexican food I was spoiled with, but... I'm pregnant and I'm hungry..

..which ultimately means, I'm desperate.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Week 32

I'm as miserable as miserable can be. Indigestion and heartburn have turned into my sidekicks.. annoyingly, it's getting more and more difficult to justify my feeding frenzies. Sometimes I think about just skipping meals just so I don't have to deal with them, but I know little Mikey needs the nutrients. My ligaments are getting stretched every way imaginable and people are starting to take notice of the way I'm waddling like a duck. Not to mention my midnight moans and groans are increasing in frequency that I don't know how long Mike's going to last before he starts making up excuses to sleep in the guest room. Even with our recent queen size upgrade (a stunning space improvement from the precedent full which also made a lot of noise, and the springs were just about ready to retire), I still feel like I'm hogging up all the newfound room with my constant position changes and my 5 pillows that I desperately try to find comfort in. Much to Mike's slumber advantage, he's off to Atlanta for a week on some training. Part of me hopes he finds better sleep within the next couple of days (despite the bacteria-infected Holiday Inn bed he'd be sleeping in), while the other part wishes he was back in our bed instead.

I try to busy myself to make the time pass by until he gets home to keep me company. For one, I am determined to finish the nursery by end of this week. Gifts from the baby shower they threw me at work last week are piled on top of gifts from the baby shower they threw us in Ohio. It's like baby gear mayhem. On Saturday, I carefully took all the tags off from all the new clothes he's accumulated and piled them separately according to their suggested machine wash settings (I know... I know... ONE puke session later, I'm sure I won't care if it's supposed to be washed warm or cold, but for now, I'm still blissfully engulfed with the rookie-mama details). I washed all the toys and meticulously put them in another pile. I left all the big stuff that still needs some assembling for Mike. He likes to put things together anyway. Still missing a glider (might be an expected Christmas present from the hubby).. that puzzle is barely AND painstakingly about 80% complete.. and I plan on putting some shelves up to showcase the Winnie the Pooh stuffed toys I've managed to collect over the years. Give or take a couple of minor details, little Mikey's room should be all ready... (wish I could say the same for his mom).


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