Sunday, December 30, 2007

More BELLY!!!

Now that I feel I've successfully vented my frustrations and fears, it's time for a more refreshing and nicer post. I have belly pics! These were originally intended to show my cousin (who is expecting twins) how big my belly is so she knows what to expect size-wise, but I figured I should also post them here since it's been a while since my last belly post. That and since I'm so close to my due date it's probably my last belly post. So without further ado:



Okay, so the last one's not really a "belly" pic but I thought I looked really happy in it (even if I do look a little more rotund than I prefer). Pic #2 depicts me holding something odd looking under my belly so I feel I should explain. Since my laptop's built in camera is easy to use and upload pics from, I felt like being super lazy and just using it instead of hauling out the digital camera. So to take pictures with the laptop's webcam, I have to click the mouse on the "take picture" button. Therefore the odd looking object I'm holding under my belly is my nemesis, the evil Bluetooth mouse that hates my guts. I am not getting another Bluetooth keyboard/mouse set if I can help it ever again. Bluetooth is evil! But baby is good! And I apologize for the mess in the background. We're trying to get things cleaned up, honest!

Yargh

No, it's not talk like a pirate day...that was a couple of months ago, I think. This is "Anna feels frustrated and needs to vent" day. Perhaps I'm just really moody from the pregnancy and that's why people seem more irritating than usual. Or perhaps certain people are just extremely annoying and I am justified in feeling an urge to kick them down the staircase. Now, I'm not out to deface any particular person on the internet, hence his name and how I know him are not going to be posted. Neither am I going to go into detail about what exactly it is he does/has done that is bothering me as it is possible (however unlikely) that either he or someone who would recognize him might read this. My intent is not to cause offense or to harm anyone in any way, I just need to let out some hot air before I take my anger out on someone I'd really regret hurting, namely Sean.

I guess I'm not really angry so much as frustrated with the way things are going. I've got a lot on my mind lately and feel very stressed out. I've been nauseous the last few days and have been having wilder mood swings than normal. There's still a lot of stuff I need to get done before the baby gets here and I barely have the energy to think about doing it except for when I get a sudden burst of energy and start doing something weird like baking. I keep trying to remind myself I need to make a few casseroles and freeze them so Sean won't have to do a lot of work cooking while I recover, and I still need to sew the vinyl cover for the crib mattress.

That being said, I hope anyone who has had a baby before understands that I'm ready to rip my hair out right now even though I've been greatly blessed to not have any complications. I am also feeling very guilty that so many other women have such horrible problems and complications with their pregnancy and here I am whining about people that stress me out. I have a cousin who's expecting twins after a miscarriage and various other problems, I have a friend who is expecting a boy and she suffers from a kidney condition that makes her pregnancy extremely high risk. And here I am whining that I don't like certain people.

I know that it's normal for any pregnant woman to experience a variety of emotional changes, especially as she gets close to her due date, so perhaps that's why I'm being so weird...I don't know. But I do know that however insignificant my frustrations are in the wider picture, they're obviously real otherwise I wouldn't really be frustrated, would I?

So this person who I am particularly frustrated at is someone who irritates me all the time anyway so it's not like this is anything new. He has shown in his past actions and words that he does not really respect me and as he is an elder to me (as opposed to my peer) I often find it hard to stand up to him. Unfortunately, I can't completely cut this person out of my life, either. I think part of my frustration is that I am afraid this person is going to insist on being a major figure in my son's life starting from birth (he has "jokingly" stated that he's ready to see "his" baby and that I should have given birth already), and is planning on being present at the hospital. At least I can give instructions to the nurse at the hospital that I don't want certain visitors and can avoid a confrontation that way but I am dreading coming home afterwards.

I will very much appreciate help (especially from other women) after the baby's born, but I am not looking forward to a tiny apartment full of guests which is what I'm afraid is going to happen. Maybe I'm suffering from overprotective mother bear syndrome or it's just my introverted nature. I can just picture people wanting to come over and hold the baby (I can especially picture the irritating person doing this) and not giving me time to spend with him and me finally going insane and threatening people with sword in hand to leave me and my baby alone. I know part of this might stem from my control issues but still...I'm allowed to want to protect my little one when he's so vulnerable, right?

I also don't want anyone to spend the night here (not even my much beloved mother-in-law who I'd love to have come help out with the baby). As much as I can understand the good intentions of someone to stay the night to take care of George and give me rest, we just don't have room. Yes, our new sectional has a pull-out bed but there's already going to be a new person living with us and I don't like the idea of our living room being turned into a guest room. Besides, where is our baby-phobic cat going to go those first few nights until she gets used to him?

I hope this doesn't come across as selfish or extremely self-centered, and I hope I was vague enough about the irritating person so that Sean and I are really the only people who know who it is. Again, this post is not out to deface anyone, I only am trying to safely vent my emotions. Besides, I'm sure everyone knows someone who irritates them to the point of near insanity....

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

One of Those Things

Something I feel I need to get off of my chest and make a mini-rant about, is the insistence of certain people that we lock our doors when they leave. Yes, after my insightful post a few minutes ago, I'm posting a rant. I'm hoping, however, that someone can give me some insight on this.

We have a relative who when walking out the door insists that we make sure to lock our door after he leaves. Unfortunately he is not the only person who does this, another friend of ours has taken up the habit of reminding us to lock the door. I keep having to resist the urge to say "Really? Well, I was planning on actually propping the door open and putting up a neon sign that says 'ROB ME PLEASE!' I mean, after all, we do live in Dallas, right?"

Keep in mind that I used to live in a rural area where we never locked our back door at night, and in fact left the door to the porch wide open during the summer so the night breeze would cool off the house and the cat could get to her litterbox. Probably not the safest thing to do but we never had a problem. However, I am not naive enough to think I could get away with that in Dallas. I'd be crazy if I did. Every night we go through the apartment and make sure every lock is locked, we rarely open the windows and make sure they're locked tight when they're closed, and we make an effort to bring in notices left on the doors so any passerby would know we're alert. I make sure my car is locked while in the locked garage and make sure there's nothing in sight that would tempt a would-be burglar (yes, even in the garage). Call me paranoid but don't call me stupid. I do all in my power to be a responsible renter and don't leave opportunities for would be house thieves.

So the insistence of these people that we lock our doors I find rather insulting. Why do these people insist on reminding us to lock our door when they leave? Is it really because they think we are that stupid? Or do they feel a need to be our "mommy"? I can understand why the first person reminds us to lock our door, he is used to living with someone who tends to forget these things, but even so I still feel that my intelligence and common sense has been insulted when he does. Of course there are many other things he does that bother me, but things like this just make me want to rip my hair out.

I'm not a child, I do have the sense that God gave me, and I don't set myself up to be a victim. Same goes for Sean. Perhaps this reminder is this person's way of trying to exert control over us or perhaps he just has no tact. Oh well. Not much I can do.

Merry Christmas!

It occurred to me that I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, so I'd like to take this time to wish you all a Merry Christmas (I'm not too late it's only the second day of Christmas!). Sean and I went to Midnight Mass at St. Alban's on Christmas Eve, and I must say I am very touched by the warm welcome we received. Our visit that night made me realize just how much St. Alban's is really like family to us. I do like the REC parish we've been attending these past few weeks (this parish is only a few blocks away from our home, St. Alban's is a 45 minute drive away) and have even started to get used to the 1928 BCP service, but I have come to realize that St. Alban's is truly my church "home".

Something else I realized is that though the REC parish consists of members with the same conservative viewpoint as we have, I would rather be at St. Alban's where there is a mix of conservative and liberal. Perhaps it's because the more liberal members keep us on our toes. I am constantly checking myself to make sure that what I do or say is in keeping with God's will as laid out in Holy Scripture. To be blatantly honest, I have failed in that many times but I also immediately (usually) see the error of my ways and make an effort to repent and ask for forgiveness, then do what I can to correct my error.

One situation that comes to mind is my disdain for "Folk Mass". There's nothing wrong with disliking a certain style of worship, that's why there are so many different denominations and even differences inside of those denominations. It's why we have a Rite I and a Rite II, not everybody likes the same thing. But my dislike of "Folk Mass" or "Contemporary Eucharist" (CE) as it was changed to extends far beyond just a dislike. I became so upset one week that I refused to enter the nave and sat outside in the narthex the entire service crying because I was so angry that the CE crowd was seeming to take over. At some point I dried my tears and Sean and I left after the service. On our way home I started crying again, but this time in shame. I had no right to be angry, it was not my place. Surely there were parishioners who are not fond of the traditional service with the Chamber Choir, and I was being a hateful, spiteful, and prideful music snob.

I had a long talk with God that day about my behavior and have not been quite so bad since. While I am not happy that the situation occurred in the first place, I am grateful I was given the chance to grow. Many different outcomes could have happened from that incident, but God used it as a way to teach me. Had I been in a place where everyone agreed with me I might not have sinned, but neither would I have had a chance to repent of that sin and change my behavior. I might not have realized how prideful and vain I was becoming.

So again I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a Joyful Epiphany.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Requiem

æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Nana passed away last night. I don't know of the exact time, but I do know she died in her sleep. The last few days she was unable to recognize anyone, and was bedridden. The saddest part was that she kept asking why she couldn't meet Jesus yet. We were all able to say our goodbyes, even my cousin who lives in Poland. He made the trip last week to Washington just to see his grandmother. It breaks my heart that I can't go to her funeral or burial because of my pregnancy, but I hope to make a trip up there to visit this summer, God willing.

Nana (as she was known to me) lived to be 96 years old. She outlived two husbands and two of three siblings. She is survived by one sister, four children, nine grandchildren, four great-grandchildren (that I know of), one great-great granddaughter, and three (at least) great-great grandchildren yet to be born. I haven't the slightest idea how many nieces, nephews, or great-niece/nephews she has. This amazing woman was the matriarch of our family and a devout Christian (Protestant). She was the center for information about family members stretched from one end of the country to the other and even overseas.

She helped to raise my mother for a couple of years while Oma worked, and her home was always open to any family members who needed a place to stay. I have so many memories it would take a book to write them all down. Mom did one better, a couple of years ago she recorded on tape several hours of Nana reminiscing, and is now able to work on transcripting them, or will be when her motor skills have improved. For now let me just say that I know she's gone to be with our Lord and is finally at peace. Even so, it's hard to let go.

I love you, Nana. Say hi to Jesus for me.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Concerning Conservatives...

I normally consider myself fairly conservative. I'm a member of the Fort Worth diocese that agrees with the direction Bishop Iker is headed. I believe that extra-marital sex is a sin, and that marriage is between a man and a woman. So I'd say I'm pretty conservative, theologically and politically.

Yet I am constantly amazed when I see someone become (as my mother put it) sanctimonious over certain situations. In a recent online conversation I was pointing out that the better way to ban a residential sex club was to argue for the illegality of such a situation due to traffic flow, noise, and parking rather than the immorality of the situation and was chewed out by another poster for not condemning the immorality. Except that I did say I don't agree with the situation, but using an emotional morality argument is not going to get the club banned.

On another website an article was posted complaining about how upset the author was when Christians send non-religious Christmas cards (such as family picture cards, cards expressing generic "Peace and Joy" sentiments, etc) and they should be more religious.

I know that as a Christian my actions and words are the best way to evangelize, not telling non-Christians that they must conform to my views because my faith is the right way. I can't think of anyone at the moment who converted to the Christian faith merely because someone told them they absolutely had to for their salvation or they were going to hell. Generally people don't react well to being told they're wrong.

I can't count the number of times people have come up to me and asked me about my DOK cross...or have told me that I act more mature than most people in my age group they've met (I'm serious). Sean and I are good friends with a family where the father is quite anti-Christian. We always avoid religious debates, but we absolutely love this family and consider them an extension of our own. They invite us to their home not because we shove our faith down their throats, but because we LIVE it.

I'm not saying we step on eggshells, but we don't force others to listen to us. We try to show our faith by example. Kind of like the song "They will know we are Christians by our love". Some people I've met are surprised when they find out I am Christian because I didn't try to shove a tract down their throat. Of course then it gives me an opportunity to explain what the Christian faith is really about. I don't know if I've ever converted anyone, but I hope I've at least provided an incentive for them to open their hearts to the truth.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't see any sense in acting like a holier-than-thou jerk. I'm not good at preaching and I have a lot of trouble coming up with a counter-argument on the spot when debating, so this is my way of evangelizing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My, What an Interesting New Taste....

...I've discovered. I wasn't a big fan of the Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper or the Berries & Cream version, so when I saw this at Walmart the other day....I was afraid to try it at first.
But my curiosity got the best of me and I broke down and bought it. Lo and behold, this stuff is tasty! It really tastes like chocolate....kind of like a cherry-tinged Tootsie-Pop. So I am happy. New flavor. YAY!

On a more distressing note, please keep Sean's mother in your prayers. She was admitted to the hospital this afternoon for heart problems. She has a micro-defibrillator on her heart and when she went in today to have a check-up her doctor noticed an abnormality. We're not sure why exactly she is in the hospital but are optimistic for a good outcome. I'll post more when I find it out.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Have A Blessed Advent

There's not a whole lot going on right now, and nothing really new to post so I thought I'd make an Advent-type post. I always look forward to Advent and Lent for two reasons. The first is the anticipation of Christmas and Easter, the second is that purple is my favorite color. Several years ago (I believe this was the year Sean and I got married), we purchased a simple Advent candleholder, a square iron box that "floats" the four candles in glass votive holders. Each year I swore we'd observe Advent by doing Evening Prayer at least every Sunday of the season. The last few years, however, we traveled to Mississippi to see his Mom for Christmas, which meant the last Sunday of Advent was spent out of state, and we didn't take the wreath with us.

Yeah, I know that's not a very good excuse. Neither is saying that we also are always tired on Sunday after church since it's quite a drive to get to and home from our home parish and just kind of forgot. Most of the years we intended to observe Advent I had actually forgotten to get out the wreath until the 2nd or 3rd Sunday. This year is different.

I think it mostly has to do with the pregnancy. Since I'm limited for travelling, we're spending Christmas at home this year. We also agreed that we wanted to start family traditions of our own, so last night after dinner we lit the first purple candle and said Evening Prayer (Rite I of course!). When we finished and blew out the candle, Sean told me he was looking forward to saying Evening Prayer with George. I thought it was so sweet, and had to really keep myself from tearing up.

I am so excited that we're laying the foundation for cherished family memories and beginning traditions that I hope will stick with my child(ren) for the rest of their lives. Is this part of the joy of motherhood?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cowboys 'n Indians....er...Cheeseheads

We had our first childbirth prep class today which included a tour of the maternity ward. Dear me, I swear it's a hotel, not a hospital. I knew the postpartum rooms looked great based on the online photos. I had no idea the LDR (Labor, Delivery, and Recovery) rooms looked even more so, with the exception of obvious medical equipment.

So the only downside to this class tonight is that it occurred at the same time as the Cowboys/Packers game. But that's what the DVR is for, so I got to watch it anyway with the added bonus of skipping the commercials and boring parts. I managed to condense it into less than an hour of actual viewed time. Now comes my real dilemma...

I didn't know which team to cheer for.

That may sound really strange, and you might be thinking "Anna, you live in Texas....duh". Well, sure I chose to move here, and I have been a Cowboys fan through the good times and the bad. But for some unknown reason I've also been a Packers fan for years. I always cheer for the Packers when they play, and I always cheer for the 'Boys. But it is inevitable that they at some point will play each other, and that's when I'm not sure who to cheer for. I love them both, and would have been happy to see either win tonight.

So unless you don't pay attention to the news, the Cowboys won tonight 37-27. I am especially happy that it was a fairly good game, and I'm very happy that the Cowboys are finally playing decently compared to the last few years.

Please don't hate me for having an identity crisis....blame it on the pregnancy hormones....yeah, that's it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

Time for some humor.

I have come to the conclusion that my cat is a masochist. She hates to be picked up, and complains if I pet her too hard. She throws a fit that I (as Sean puts it) treat her like a doll. Yet she continues to jump up on the couch and sleep next to me, or cuddle next to me in the bed. She purrs like crazy.

So it doesn't seem to matter how much I harass the cat, she keeps coming back for more.

For any of you who are People for the Eating of Tasty Animals (aka: PETA) advocates, please be assured that I don't abuse my pets. I could never willingly harm an animal, in fact a few days ago I spent money I really couldn't afford to spend to find out why Lily is sick. I even refuse to declaw a cat as it is painful for them an inhumane in my opinion (Lily came to us already declawed, I don't mind adopting a cat that has been).

So no, I've never hurt Lily on purpose, although she really tries to get me to it seems. We have white carpet in our apartment, and the white cat blends in quite well especially if she shuts her blue eyes. And she thinks it's funny or something to lay in the middle of the walkway, so we've stepped on her a couple of times because she was too lazy to get out of the way. Yet it breaks my heart to have to force oral medication down her throat twice a day. I know she is in pain, and she gets frightened when we take her into the bathroom and close the door (she now knows it's coming). But I have to keep telling myself it's for her own good. We try to keep her as comfortable as possible and talk softly and lovingly to her, and it seems to work because when we're done she'll cuddle with me on the couch.

Poor kitty. She is kinda fun to harass, though, and I think she enjoys it. Methinks it's kind of a game to her, a type of kitten-play. Except for carrying her around the house, that is...oh well.

I do love my Lily. I feel kind of sorry for her, though...she's going to lose her place as ruling monarch of the house when George comes...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nerd Test

I couldn't help myself....


NerdTests.com says I'm a Kinda Dorky Nerd Queen.  What are you?  Click here!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

And Now For Some Bad News

I knew this was going to happen sooner or later, I just kept wishing it were later. Sean and I visited Mom and Oma yesterday. We took Oma out to dinner and then to see Christmas lights, both of which helped her to relax a bit and get her mind off of Mom. All went well until we got back to the house. Mom is fine, but she tells us she just got off the phone with Francis, the lady who's been taking care of my great-grandmother, Nana, who is 96.

Apparently Francis was finally able to convince Nana to visit a doctor on Tuesday. From there she was hospitalized until Thanksgiving. Tests revealed one of the valves in her heart to be opening only as big as a pencil lead, her limbs have swollen tremendously, and she has been refusing to eat. Her body is just shutting down. She realizes this and has come to accept it, and knows she might only have a few days left.

Nana lives in Ellensburg, WA. When I was younger and lived in Washington (Puyallup/Tacoma area), she had lived nearby. I spent a lot of time at Nana's and have very fond memories. It's funny how at this time those memories seem to surface at the oddest moments. I'm finding it very hard to deal with the impending loss of someone so close to me, especially with the problems Mom has been going through.

I know she's going to a much better place and am praying daily for her until she embarks on a different kind of journey.

On a side note, at least Lily (my cat) isn't terminally ill like I was afraid. Her blood work came back clean, she is just suffering from a nasty UTI. The vet gave us an orange-flavored antibiotic that must be administered orally and some prescription canned food that she seems to really like. Hopefully this will clear up her problems and she can go back to acting like a normal cat.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wow...

I was reading Et-Tu? today and was struck by her posting refuting a typical atheist line for denying God. Afterward I read the comments left by her readers and was stopped in my tracks by one comment in particular, that of a poster who goes by the name "Tony":

"The fact that most atheists I meet are moral people is one of the greatest indications of the existence of God that I know of.

It proves to me that the "law of God is written on the human heart". How else could a being who is the product of evolution, dragging himself out of the "primordial soup" surviving as the "fittest" to rise to the top of the food chain could behave in a moral manner toward any other creature indicates to me that there is something else at work here.

This is why people like Christopher Hitchens are so nasty and angry all of the time. They are living with the knowledge of the law of God on their heart, they are living it for the most part, but are refusing to acknowledge the author."

This comment reminded me eerily of a friend (who for the sake of privacy I will call "John"). John is a very nice guy, he's a loving father and devoted husband. He and his wife (a Catholic) have been married for almost three decades and have one son. John is now retired but worked hard his entire life to provide for his family.

John, however, is extremely liberal and constantly argues against Christianity (he kind of sort of claims to be a Buddhist). Even so he treats my husband and me with love. He and his wife have for several years invited us to Thanksgiving dinner and treat us as though we were their own children. They have expressed their desire to babysit George to give Sean and me some time to ourselves. And all this knowing that out of all of our friends Sean and I are the most religious. We (without trying to sound conceited or self-righteous) try to live our lives according to God's will, we try to pray daily, and attempt to attend Mass at least twice a week (although with the baby on the way that's been nearly impossible. We're lucky to make it to church on Sunday mornings).

So when I read that comment, I realized that God has definitely been working in John's heart, although it may not seem obvious, and it occurred to me that I should be including John in my prayers. I realize now that I should have been doing this all along but it's better late than never, right?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pianos

I have a bad habit of watching home improvement/design shows (TLC and HGTV are evil!). One thing that I have noticed quite often when a designer is "designing" or "redesigning" a room is the placement of the homeowner's piano (quite often this dilemma occurs with a grand piano as opposed to an upright). The designer often places the piano near a bay window, corner window area, or some other place where the sunlight plays off of the finish. They want to make it "look good". I cringe every time I see this.

Obviously these designers are clueless as to the care a piano must receive to continue to be a valuable instrument that plays well and stays in tune. Pianos are very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity due to the various woods and metals used in their construction. Direct sunlight can be very damaging to the fine finish of a piano, and when placed against an outside wall (with poor insulation) the changes in temperature and humidity can severely damage the instrument. Pianos should also never be placed near radiators, humidifiers, A/C vents, etc for the same reason.

A piano should also be tuned regularly. This is not something the average piano owner can do by themselves, in fact it should be done by a trained tuner.

I find it quite sad that someone would pay a large amount of money for a quality instrument (or receive it as an heirloom) and then not take basic steps to care for it. That (to me) is like buying a car and never getting the oil changed or getting regular maintenance done.

Of course, having an electric piano (like my beloved Yamaha) eliminates the need for being so stringent about temperature changes but then I'm sure an interior designer would have a fit because it's not "pretty" enough.

As a side thought, I doubt a designer would also take acoustics of the room into account. I just can't fathom how the sound of a piano rattling off of several windows would be attractive. Oh well. Excuse me while I put my musician self in time out.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Wow, I am in a really bad mood this morning, so perhaps by posting I can fix that. I attribute my poor state of mind to being in pain. I made the mistake yesterday of deciding to vacuum and wash my car, then do shopping errands. Well, I got the vacuuming part done (yay clean car!) but the car wash in our apartment complex did not seem to be accepting my key card. Okay, so it's clean on the inside, but not the outside. Oh well.

So I had to run to Petsmart and pick up litter and food for her royal highness, and then I couldn't not look at the cats in the adoption center. We couldn't afford to get another cat (not to mention Lily wouldn't be very happy and we're expecting the soon to be arrival of George), but it doesn't hurt anything to look. Some cruel person left one of the kittens in a carrier in the Petsmart parking lot in the pouring rain. Poor thing was half-drowned before he was found.

So after I finished looking at and talking to the kitties, I went to Walmart for much needed groceries. At one point I had to sit down in the shoe department to rest for about 15 minutes. I should have taken that as a sign that I was trying to do too much at once, but I'm too stubborn. When I got home I ended up having to make 3 trips up the stairs with frozen/perishable groceries (leaving the rest of them in the car). Needless to say by the time I got upstairs for the last time and got the food put away I was pooped out. When I woke up this morning I almost fell out of bed because my knee wouldn't support my weight. It's swollen quite a bit, a torn meniscus from a previous injury aggravated by the amount of activity from yesterday and probably not helped much by the added weight of pregnancy.

I have now learned my lesson. My bad mood has dissipated somewhat by letting this out, so now perhaps I can get through my day without ripping someone's head off. It also helps that George is now moving around quite a bit.

I'm amazed he's still got room in there to move, it's such a strange feeling to feel something that isn't actually a part of my body moving around of its own volition in there. I'm thinking I might soon be able to distinguish certain parts of his body by what pops up. Mostly I think I see his butt sticking up as it's a bit larger mass that moves. Could be his head. I'm wondering if I'll be able to see a foot outline on my belly any time soon. How can I be in a bad mood with such a miracle occurring in front of my very eyes?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mom

I realize I haven't posted much about my mom in a while, so here's an update. She has been transferred to the Reba McEntire Center for Rehabilitation where she is receiving both medical care and physical therapy. She is improving in her therapy although she is still hooked up to the feeding tube. She did have a swallow test today and is improving some. She told me she walked about 150 feet with her walker today. Her detailed MRI was done yesterday, unfortunately we don't have results for it yet. She'll meet with her neurosurgeon later.

Please continue to keep her in your prayers as she recovers.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Whatever Happened to "Customer Service"?

I seem to be on a roll here with my rants, but I'm hoping this one doesn't turn into that. Too much.

So I stopped by Sonic on the way home today (from a prenatal visit with a really great pediatrician. We've found our Dr.!), and ordered my usual: grilled chicken sandwich, Sonic Sized fries with cheese (yes, I know that's not very healthy. Bite me.), and a regular Ocean Water. The guy at the microphone rattles off my order so quickly I can hardly understand a word he says (not to mention his hispanic accent is very thick). Because I am so tired and hungry I just went "uh huh" and paid for my order. Well, the carhop comes out and gives me my food, and I double check it to make sure. Lo and behold there is an order of Sonic Sized tots covered in cheese (can we say ewwww?) instead of fries. By this time the carhop has already gone back inside, so I press the order button again and this time say "I had ordered a Sonic Sized fries with cheese and instead received tots."

"Oh, you wan fries?"

"Yes, please."

The manager himself comes out with the correct order a few minutes later, apologizing for the misunderstanding. That's customer service. So it got me thinking. I find it amazing (call me naive) that people just don't care. Food is ordered and when it comes back wrong the waitress acts like it's the customer's fault. Very rarely am I greeted when I enter a store. We talk to machines and then rude operators when important questions must be asked over the phone.

When I worked as a retail associate, my manager absolutely loved me. Not because I was good at my job, which I wasn't (I tended to be a tad bit slower than my co-workers and very detail oriented), but because I treated the customers with respect. If an upset customer was more than I could handle I would gently tell him or her that I would get the manager to help them. In the year that I worked at that store, I developed a good sized group of customers that would rather deal with me than my co-workers, or would only come in on the days I worked.

Why was I like this? Because the first thing I learned about the job when I went in for an interview was that the customer ALWAYS comes first, even before making a sale. One reason is that while a customer might make a purchase (getting me a sale) when they're treated rudely, they might not ever come back. But if a customer is treated with respect, even if they don't buy anything that time they still know that they can come back and be treated the same.

I think a lot of employees base how they treat customers on how much they get on their paycheck. Perhaps this was never a problem for me because I don't work for the money, I work because it gives me something to do...a sense of accomplishment (maybe that's why I'm planning on becoming a teacher after the baby's born). Or perhaps that's just the way I was raised. My mother taught me from an early age that I should be respectful of others and should treat others how I want to be treated. That whole "love thy neighbor" concept.

My bit of advice to those who work in customer service areas...please consider that the customer is a human, too. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would like to be treated were you in their place. The customer isn't always right, but he or she IS the reason you receive a paycheck, no matter how small that paycheck might be.

(FYI to those in the northern states, Sonic Drive-In is an american fast-food chain that allows customers to drive up, order their food, then have it delivered by a carhop. And in my opinion it's pretty good food)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Birdies

I'm glad I've developed into the kind of person that can let insults slide. When I was younger, I couldn't stand being teased or bullied. I usually would respond in a manner that only encouraged more unwanted attention such as whining "Leave me alone!" then being mocked. Now I have learned to not make such a big deal out of the rudeness of others.

Yesterday, I was headed to Walmart near the beginning of rush hour. If you don't live in a large city, you might not realize just how many people are on the road at that time of day, if you do (especially those who live in Dallas) then you have a pretty good idea of the conditions of yesterday afternoon. I had an almost empty tank (it took over $50 to fill, btw. Gas prices are going insane again), and was stopped at a red light. There was a single car in front of me, and when the light turned green, I waited for him to go. After a few seconds I tapped my horn, knowing that some people don't always notice the light changing green. No response. Then I noticed that ALL of the occupants of that car were having a conversation with the occupants in the vehicle next to them.

Great.

I tap the horn again, this time hopefully long enough for them to realize that there was a VERY long line of cars behind them and they should probably quit yapping and drive. Still no response, they're still having quite a long conversation with the car next to them. Oh...yay.

This obviously was not working, they still had their foot on the brake as did the vehicle next to them. So, doing what anyone else would probably do in my situation, I laid on the horn as did several other people next to and behind me. So the guy in front of me finally decides to remove his foot from his brake and place it on the accelerator. As he's driving off, the passenger in his backseat decided to give me a present. He even had the presence of mind to open the sunroof on the car and raise the little birdie in the air. Aww, how sweet.

Here's a piece of loving advice from me to anyone driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Please stop sending birds to very pregnant women who have almost no gas left in the tank, and pay attention to your driving, not on having conversations with other drivers. Especially during rush hour.

By the time I got to the gas station I was ready to call Sean and have myself a good laugh at the amusing stoplight situation, but before I could a very nice attendant (it was a gas station/car wash/glass repair place) came up to my vehicle and offered to remove all of the big dings in my windshield (have I mentioned before I detest when people drive 60 mph on the highway shoulder and kick up small rocks?) for free. Apparently repairs like that don't count toward one's insurance deductable. SWEET! So now I have a full tank, no windshield dings, and the "love" and "respect" of three young men riding around North Dallas in a little itty bitty blue car.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pregnancy Peeves

Since I'm not exactly in a bad mood, perhaps now is a good time to rant for a moment (where I can at least formulate semi-coherent thoughts and not have to worry about saying anything I know I'll regret). The following are not necessarily rants about the pregnancy itself (at my OB appt. today George got noticeably bigger from 2 weeks ago but I only gained 4 lbs!), but at situations surrounding the pregnancy.

Now, I'm quite happy with the love and generosity our friends have shown, but I do wish that people would realize the point of a registry is for parents-to-be to list the items they want (and the fabric patterns of those items as well!). We have received gifts from a couple of people who decided they didn't like the color/pattern/model of the item we registered for and purchased an item NOT on the registry because they obviously knew what we wanted/needed better than us. This is how we ended up with 3 monitors. I can appreciate that other people have different taste than we do, but I registered for certain patterns/models because that's what I wanted. If they didn't like what we chose they could have opted to buy something ELSE on the list. I have had to delete several items off of the registry because someone got the item elsewhere in a different pattern (and I'm too lazy to return said item and get the pattern I wanted).

The next peeve I have is with the Pregnancy Police. These are the people who are not my husband/Dr./mother who insist that their way of "doing" pregnancy is so much better, or that I'm being a horrible mother by doing "this" wrong or some such nonsense. My mother told me once that opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one, but we don't need to hear/see/smell it. There was the one person who insisted that the aspartame in my Diet Dr. Pepper was going to cause birth defects in my baby (she is a nurse, apparently) and I should stop drinking it immediately. She stopped nagging when I told her my Dr. said it was perfectly fine, I just needed to cut out the caffeine (which I'm proud to say I finally kicked the habit). There's the friend who insisted I try out some hypnotherapy thing during labor (if you are that friend, I appreciate the offer but it just ain't for me) instead of getting an epidural.

There's the numerous anonymous online people who (yes, it's my fault for posting my labor plan in the first place) insist that I should try to give birth "naturally" meaning without medication. Yes, I know the possible dangers and side effects of an epidural, but my husband's family history of 10+ lb babies and my low pain tolerance outweigh those risks.

I realize that people give advice like that with good intentions and that they probably don't mean to antagonize me, but I'm about fed up with it. I know my best option is to just smile, nod, then ignore these people, but they're just so insistent! I don't want advice like this from people. I want a sympathetic "Oh, you poor thing, he's going to be such a big baby, I'm praying for you" response, and leave it at that. But then I know people will never stop trying to give me advice. And it's never going to end. It will just go from being pregnancy advice to child-rearing advice.

But holding my baby in my arms will be worth it, right? I see him move every day and am looking forward to seeing him after he's born. Can't wait to see you, Georgie! Your Mama loves you :D By the way, can you ease up on the bladder boxing?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Baby Shower

Oh goody! I finally get around to posting about the shower (over a week later...shame on me). Let's see....cake, various munchy food, orange chicken (delicious)....little netted bags of dinner mints. :D

I've been to several baby showers in my life and I have to say this was my favorite. No, there weren't any silly games, and the house wasn't decorated with a designer baby theme, but it was fun. I don't mean it was my favorite because it was for me (and Sean and George), but it was relaxed. Almost everyone there knew each other and those that didn't quickly got caught up in the conversations. I must say it's absolutely hilarious to hear a male friend complaining about the first item he saw on the registry list....a breast pump. He knew if he purchased that item he'd never live it down. Ah, I love my friends.

Anyway, we got some pretty nice stuff (and three monitors O.o), and some gift cards to use later. I love gift cards, by the way. They are the SMARTEST kind of gift for expectant parents. It's amazing how a simple little thing like a baby shower really starts to put things into perspective.

Today Sean and I visited a couple who couldn't make it to the shower (they have two boys under 2), and received the number one most important item on the registry...the travel system. I knew if there was anything on the list we ABSOLUTELY had to have before the baby was born it was a car seat. Hospitals won't let you take a baby home unless you have one. The set we got allows the infant seat to attach to the stroller, it's quite adorable and only took us 20 minutes to assemble. Anyway, back to our afternoon excursion. So this couple has two baby boys. The 17 month old, while well behaved, is still a bit of a handful. I sat in the car on the way home and wondered how on earth I was going to raise a kid.

Yes, I used to teach at a daycare center (and that was with a lot more than one kid), and yes my plan is to get my teaching certificate after George is born. But that doesn't quite prepare me for what I know is coming. I'm scared half to death I'm going to be a bad mother. I'm sure many other first time moms have thought the same thing, but that's not really helping. Sean is so good with kids, when we visit friends with kids I hold them for a bit then hand them off to Sean who plays with them until they get tired and want to go back to their mommy. When I hold someone else's baby I feel like I'm afraid I'm going to BREAK him or her. How on earth do I get rid of this fear? Will it go away on its own?

As for an update on my mom, not much to report at this time. She's still in the hospital, the rehab center is unable for various reasons to readmit her at this time. She has a feeding tube again and this time is being given a constant Glucerna drip to keep her blood sugar level. She wants to be home for Thanksgiving but I don't see that happening. I don't even see her going home by Christmas, or even possibly being able to attend George's birth. I'm sure she's trying to see the glass as half full, but I feel reality has to step in somewhere. She's not getting the physical therapy in the hospital that she needs. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Some Updates on Mom

I talked with Oma on Friday and again yesterday afternoon. On Friday she informed me that Mom had to be taken back to the emergency room from the rehab center due to a urinary tract infection (most likely due to the catheter...I detest those things) and her blood sugar was in the 470 range. She had also attempted to get up in the middle of the night before to use the restroom and fell....on her knee. This is a woman who has horrible arthritis in her knees and has undergone several surgeries from it. She is also prone to infection.

So this news put a damper on the baby shower Saturday. But Sunday afternoon I got some good news. They got her blood sugar down and had given her a few antibiotics. She was having more trouble swallowing and they gave her a few choices (one of which was a feeding tube straight into the stomach) and the option she chose was to go back to the rehab center and continue speech therapy to basically relearn how to swallow. But she was supposed to go back today (not sure if she has, I haven't spoken to Oma today).

Mom is much too young to go through crap like this. It's like one thing after another. Oh yeah, when she went to the neurologist last Wednesday, she was told that it is possibly not a brain tumor but a mass from the stroke, so they're going to do another imaging on the 12th of November to determine whether or not to do a biopsy. Lovely. I'm getting frustrated with the constantly changing opinions of the cracked up doctors up there, I can only assume that what she is feeling is worse. Poor Oma has driven out to see her (a 40 mile round trip) every day except one that I know of, and she's not exactly the world's best driver (bless her heart). Oma is in her 70's and I can only imagine the stress that she is going through as well. I sincerely wish Medicare would pay for Mom to be sent to a decent hospital with good doctors and up-to-date equipment (like someplace down here in Dallas/Plano), and not just so I could visit her on a regular basis.

I'll post about the shower (it was really nice) later.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Baylor Sucks

My apologies for this being a rant post, but I need to let off some steam and would rather do it here than transfer my anger towards my husband who is completely undeserving of it, especially in this instance. Also rather than do something I would regret in the future.

Here is a warning to anyone wanting to go to Baylor University for their higher education and requests financial aid. Don't ever move after you graduate. The accounting/financial aid department is apparently made up of morons who don't even BOTHER to send you a bill for their loan. They must expect borrowers to be psychic. They never once tried to contact me, instead sent my now defaulted loan to a collection agency who lo and behold had my phone number. Imagine that. So even though I've been making monthly payments on all of my student loans (that I knew about, that is), and even paid more each month than the amount due, I get a call from a collection agency wondering why I never made a payment.

At least the gentleman from the collection agency was kind and understanding and is helping me work out a plan to get this loan paid off. That is the one bright ending I see in my future. But I really don't need this crap right now, especially with the baby coming. I'm just so pissed off I'm steaming.

Now, I know someone is eventually going to say "Well, you signed an mpn to get those loans and the terms are clearly stated." Yes, that is true. I did. I did however expect to at least RECEIVE a bill so I knew how much I had to pay off each month. They apparently had an old address on file that goes back to the address I had before my previous address (2 apartments ago and over 2 years), but somehow the collection agency had my cell phone number which hasn't changed in the last 5 years. And did I ever receive a notification of that loan from Baylor when I lived at that address? NO! At least when I forget a payment with any of the other lenders (which happens from time to time when everything else is on auto-pay), they'd have the courtesy to call me and remind me of my obligation or at least MAIL ME A FREAKING BILL! Did they try to contact my references? Neither of my references have called me to let me know. In fact I just got off the phone with one of those references who informed me that she has not received anything from Baylor in over 3 years!

Another reason this pisses me off is that I loved Baylor. It was my first college experience and I made a lot of friends, one of whom introduced me to Sean. If I hadn't gone there, we probably would never have met. I have many fond memories of freshman dorm life and the campus was absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed most of my classes there and feel that my first taste of life away from home helped prepare me for the real world. I miss singing with the Concert Choir and spending my days practicing for my voice lessons. I refuse to let the morons in their accounting department ruin my memories, but it's difficult.

I've heard the expression that when it rains it pours....this is certainly true. First is the stress of preparing for the baby which, while a joyful expectation, is wreaking havoc with my hormones, then my mother has a stroke and brain tumor, then I find out about this loan crap. I realize that other people have been through much worse but I don't know how much more of this I can take. I sometimes wonder if I'm about to lose my mind!

*Lord,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The strength to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to hide the bodies know the difference.

*Sorry...that was my sad attempt at humor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Change of Scene

Oma called me last night to let me know Mom has been moved from the hospital to an in-patient rehab center nearby. She was able to use her walker to move 18 feet on Monday. The neurosurgeon is still waiting for a bit more improvement before her brain surgery is scheduled, but we are all hopeful for it to be soon, quick, safe, and gotten over with.

Sean took me to see her on Saturday, and while I am glad I got to see her, it almost hurts more to have done so. It's scary to see my mom laying in a hospital bed hooked up to all kinds of tubes and machines. She has lost a lot of weight during these last couple of weeks probably due to the lack of nutrition, and she doesn't sound like my mother. Because the left side of her face is still mostly inactive, she slurs her words and just sounds so tired.

I miss my mother and want her back the way she was. This is so difficult to deal with.

Friday, October 12, 2007

There is no Virus, only Tumor

I want to thank you all for your prayers and ask that you keep praying.

I talked to Mom this afternoon, she sounds a lot better than she did yesterday. The Dr.s have come to a final diagnosis. Apparently she does NOT have a viral infection (which means I'm spending Saturday morning in Sherman at the hospital) which is the good news. The bad news is that her stroke was caused by a tumor on the cerebellum. This tumor is also what caused the flu-like symptoms she had been experiencing for the last week and a half that was mistaken for a viral infection. The tumor is benign, so that's slightly good news, but the neurosurgeon wants to wait until the stroke symptoms have had some time to clear up in the next couple of weeks before they perform brain surgery to remove the tumor.

So while I am relieved to know what the problem is and that I can finally visit her, she is by no means out of the woods yet. Again, my family and I appreciate the prayers and support through this very difficult time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Update

I talked to Mom this morning, she was a bit groggy after a morning of treatments and exams. One side of her face is paralyzed and the neurologist has determined that she had a stroke in addition to Bells Palsy from the viral infection. She is still unable to swallow and if she can't swallow by the end of the day they're going to insert a feeding tube. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Prayer Request

Please keep my mother, Michele, in your prayers. My grandmother had to call an ambulance to rush her to the ER this morning. The neurologist thinks she either had a mini stroke or is suffering from Bells Palsy following the viral infection she has suffered from this last week. She had been nauseous and dizzy all week, unable to keep food down. Her Dr. told her he would have to hospitalize her if she couldn't eat anything so she could get nourishment from an IV. She had started to get better over the weekend and then got worse.

I have had a fear these last few days that I would get a call from my grandmother saying that Mom was either in the hospital or (God forbid) dead. Somehow I knew that when my caller ID this afternoon showed Mom's number that it was Oma calling to give me some very bad news.

What can prepare someone to find out news like this? I have read blogs of people who have a relative diagnosed with a terminal illness and wonder how they can cope with that kind of news, and then I secretly think that I'm glad I don't have to go through that. It's a horrible thought, and I know it is selfish, but even if I pray for them I still am grateful that it didn't happen to me. Perhaps that's a normal human response, but now I feel like this is payback for my selfishness.

And the worst part about this? I can't even go visit her. The hospital is only an hour away but because she might still be contagious with the viral infection, I can't risk catching it especially because of the pregnancy. I want to visit my mommy because I love her and don't know what is going to happen and I can't even see her!

I'm sorry for this post rambling and not making a whole lot of sense but I'm very upset and scared right now. All I ask is that anyone who reads this keep my mother in your prayers and thoughts. She is very sick and can use all of the prayers you can send her way.

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
our only help in time of need:
We humbly beseech thee to behold, visit,
and relieve thy sick servant Michele
for whom our prayers are desired.
Look upon her with the eyes of thy mercy;
comfort her with a sense of thy goodness;
preserve her from the temptations of the enemy;
and give her patience under her affliction.
In thy good time, restore her to health,
and enable her to lead the residue of her life in thy fear,
and to thy glory;
and grant that she may dwell with thee in life everlasting;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
BCP 458

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pregnant Women Have No Balance

The first time I fell, I was in my first trimester. My foot had gone to sleep after a morning of reading the internets, and I was making my way downstairs when my numb foot had caught the edge of the step and down I went. That time, at least, I fell backwards and had my hand out to catch myself. I got a sprained wrist from that one, but nothing else besides bruised pride.

Yesterday, I was coming back from getting the mail and tripped on a concrete step in the sidewalk leading up to my building. Have you ever fallen and felt like you were watching yourself fall in slow motion before it actually happens? That was my experience. I thank God that I managed to twist my body to land on my side instead of on my front, but I was still pretty shaken up. I cried walking up the stairs to my apartment and cried some more when I went into the bathroom to clean my scraped arms, hands, and knees. Then I cried even more when I sat down on the couch and tried to pull myself together to call Sean without completely freaking him out. That apparently didn't work because when I called him the tears came back and I could barely get "I fell" out of my mouth.

He told me to call the Dr. and find out if I needed to go the emergency room and then call him back. I did, and the nurse at the Dr.'s office told me to call back within the hour and let her know if I felt George move and if I started to bleed. I called Sean back and told him what the nurse said, and he told me he was on his way home. An hour later, I called the Dr.'s office back and informed the nurse that yes, George was kicking the living daylights out of me and no, I wasn't bleeding. She told me the Dr. would call me today and find out how I'm doing.

By this time I realized my right foot was starting to really hurt near the base of my big toe. Sean gave me an ice pack but I realized it kept swelling and turning colors. I decided I aught to go to an urgent care center to have it checked out, but they wouldn't take me because of my pregnancy. Lovely. So emergency room it was. Four hours later I left the hospital with a boot, crutches, and a prescription for hydrocodone to be taken sparingly, and a diagnosis of a very bad sprain, no broken bones.

I'm thankful that it isn't worse than it could have been, and I'm ever so grateful to my wonderful Sean for leaving work and driving me to the hospital. Of course he grumbles a bit about how I'm such a n00b and a klutz and how next time one of us ends up in the emergency room it'd better be him instead (the last three trips we've made to the ER were for me), but I think that might be his way of expressing relief that I wasn't severely injured. He's been absolutely wonderful to me, and I couldn't ask for a more caring husband. I wish I could figure out a way to show my gratitude to him besides just telling him I'm grateful. This great guy left work early and stayed by my side in the ER and is bending over backwards to help me with everything and all I can do is sit here with my leg propped up and say "thanks sweety, I love you".

Friday, October 5, 2007

Two Pregnancy Symptoms Nobody Told Me About

Nor did I read about them in any of those pregnancy books people have given to me (note that I have not bought a single pregnancy book, I figure it's a waste of money and people will give them to me anyway. The only book I bought was The Baby Owner's Manual and that was for Sean, but it's a great read for anyone with a sense of humor). If you are the slightest bit squeamish or anything like my guy friends who put their hands to their ears and start going "EWWWW" when I talk about my pregnancy to the interested parties in the room, please ignore this post, or at least the last half of it.

The first thing no one told me about is Braxton Hicks contractions. Of course I've heard about false labor before but nothing in those books really said anything about it. When I did look it up (after calling my poor doctor at 2 am to find out if I needed to go to the emergency room), all the resources I could find described these contractions as "painless". Painless my ass. Those contractions HURT! It feels like somebody's got a part of my uterus in a vice and tightens it every time I move. I had an OB appointment the day after the first time this happened (around 20 weeks), so when I asked Dr. about it he told me not to worry unless it was accompanied by bleeding, discharge, nausea, etc. For the pain? Take some Tylenol. Gee, thanks.

I understand that apparently most women do not even feel these contractions until they are close to their delivery date, or if they do it's just uncomfortable. Good for them. Dr. says they can occur as early as 9 weeks. I guess I was blessed with 11 weeks of no pain (just morning sickness and not being able to fit into my clothes). But now it's every other week (twice this week)! A friend told me that she heard women who have heavy and painful menstrual cycles tend to have the most painful labor. Now you tell me.

The resources that describe BH don't even hint at the possibility that it can hurt like hell. I figure that if "false" labor hurts this bad, I shall demand all the painkilling drugs available at the hospital as SOON as I go into real labor. As much as they can safely give me. Have I mentioned before that I don't do pain?

The second thing nobody told me about (and here is where the squeamish and guys should really stop reading unless they've experienced it) is leaking nipples. By leaking I mean I was sitting at my desk and couldn't figure out why my nightshirt was so cold over my breasts until I looked down and was horrified to see HUGE wet spots over each nipple. Now, I know that breastfeeding moms can leak and often do, but I read nowhere that they'd leak during pregnancy. My first errand the next day was to the nearest CVS to get nursing pads. When I looked online to see if this was normal, I learned that yes it does happen, but most women only experience it a little bit.

I am not normal. If I sit for any length of time without a shirt or bra on, I leak. If I go to bed without first putting on a sleep nursing bra (very comfy by the way), I leak. If I take a shower, I leak. I now have this constant fear that I'm going to be out someplace and develop these huge wet spots on the front of my shirt in public. It's like my girls are competing with Niagara Falls! Of course all the books say they'll get bigger, they'll be tender, they'll change color, etc., but absolutely none of those books informed me that my baby's source of nutrition would start tearing up at every inopportune time, waking or sleeping.

I know it may sound like I'm whining and complaining. While that is most likely true, I wouldn't trade this pregnancy for the world. I enjoy being pregnant, I like that I can feel my baby moving inside of me (although I wish sometimes he'd move off of my bladder), I like the expectation of "oooo, BABY'S COMING!", and I am definitely enjoying the positive attention (although I could do with a little less belly patting. I am not a zoo exhibit.). Perhaps these "discomforts" are just God's way of preparing me for motherhood, or perhaps it's payback for something. Whatever the case, I'll deal with things as they come and count my blessings.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Three Things My Mom Did Right

This post is in response to a challenge presented by the blog Et Tu?

As you read this please keep the following in mind--my mother raised my sister and I mostly by herself with some emotional and financial help from her mother. My parents divorced when I was three and most of my childhood was spent living with my grandparents.

When I was younger, I used to tell my mother that I'd raise my children exactly like she raised me because she did such a good job. Perhaps it was a bit of an ego boost to Mom, but at the time, I really meant it. Now that I'm married and starting a family of my own I have changed my mind a little on this particular subject. Part of this change is due to Sean's childhood experiences and part is due to my own understanding of how my mother's decisions affected me. Even so, there are some things Mom did right.

I would have to say that the first thing my mother did right was to teach me to be myself and not make my decisions based on what other kids said. I never wore brand name, or often even new, clothing as a kid. My clothes were either handmade, passed down from my sister, or purchased at the local thrift store. We couldn't even afford WalMart. Even so, I was never ashamed of the clothes that I wore. Mom tells me that the moment she knew she raised me right was when I told a more wealthy friend of mine that "I don't need somebody's name on my butt to make me special".

The second thing my mom did right was to make me always try food before I said I didn't like it. If I decided I didn't like it I didn't have to eat it but I had to at least try. This insistence led me to a variety of dishes that I probably would never have loved had Mom allowed me to act like some kids do and claim "Ew, I don't want that". An unexpected result of this dinnertime rule led me to be more open-minded about other experiences, probably the biggest would be my choice of church. If I had followed my fundamentalist Protestant family's advice that the Catholic church was "evil", I doubt I would have stepped foot in St. Peter and St. Paul's Episcopal Church when Sean and I were dating, or have been confirmed in St. Alban's a couple of years later. I am now a devout and practicing Anglo-Catholic and take part in several ministries of the church, my husband is an aspirant to the priesthood, and my son will be baptized on Easter Sunday (God willing) at St. Alban's.

The third thing my mother did right may sound like a bit of a cliche, but I mean it most sincerely. Mom read to me. I'm not sure if she did it every night, but as far as I can remember until I was four, Mom read to me. She didn't just sit next to the bed and read out of the book, she laid down so I could snuggle up next to her and see what she was reading. Sometimes she'd follow the line with her finger as she read, and by the time I was four, I would sneak the book out during the day and read it for myself. One night she sat down and opened the book (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to be exact) to the point she had left off the night before. I informed her (probably with an attitude) that I had read the next chapter to which she replied that my learning to read was great but if I wanted her to continue to read I'd better let her read. From this point on she would let me read aloud with her and it gave me a chance to sound out difficult words. Since then, I cannot count the number of books I have read in my lifetime, but suffice it to say I keep the local library busy. I don't just read books, I devour them.

I do believe my mom did a great job in raising me, although I do wish she had done some things different. I hope I can raise my children with as little to no corporal punishment as possible, I don't smoke and would never raise my children in a house full of secondhand smoke, and I'm married and plan on staying that way until death do us part. So I'm not exactly like my mother, but I will do my darnedest to instill the values in my children that my mother instilled in me, especially the ones listed above.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fears and Expectations

I'm a control freak. This is not anything new, but I have come to a new understanding about how my desire to control everything around me has formed and how it affects everything and everyone around me. Part of my control problem is exhibited by perfectionism. By perfectionism I don't mean the stereotypical "my house is perfect because I'm a perfectionist". My home is a mess physically. If I feel that I can't make something perfect, I don't do it at all.

This is shown by my housekeeping. When I get started cleaning something, I get down to the nitty gritty and scrub things down to the point where there's not a speck of dirt. If I clean one window, I have to clean them all. If I start sweeping, then I need to vacuum. If I vacuum one room I have to vacuum the whole apartment. If I clean the toilet I have to scrub the sinks, counters, shower, and tub to gleaming, then mop the floor. If I make the bed it has to be perfect, the sheets tucked in exactly. If I do laundry, every item of clothes must be hung the correct direction on the hanger or folded correctly, towels must be folded all the exact same way, and if it's not I feel like I'm going CRAZY.

This is why if you enter into my apartment, you see stuff laying around, the carpet hasn't been vacuumed in over a month, the clothes get washed then piled in a chair for days, and the bed is rarely made. I don't have the energy to put into cleaning the way I NEED to do it, therefore it doesn't get done. So I sit on the couch and watch TV. Or go shopping. Anything but clean.

I realize that my home doesn't have to be perfect, I can do laundry every couple of days (clothes don't have to be hung perfectly on the hangers), if I pick up as I go along there won't be that much stuff laying around, etc. But it's so hard to let my anal retentive tendencies go. I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that I'm afraid of this neurotic behavior being expressed towards my baby.

Children are messy. Children are disordered (in the context of organization). I know there's a balance that must be kept, I want my kid to put away his toys when he's done playing with them, I want him to learn to make his own bed and learn to be responsible for his belongings. I expect him to learn these things as he grows up so that he can become a responsible adult 20 years or so down the road. But I don't want him to freak out that his crayons aren't in a rainbow order in the box, or that his toys aren't lined up on the shelf exactly, or that he didn't separate his foods on his plate and eat each food separately in a specific order (yes, I do that). If there's anything I wish for this child it's that he's not as neurotic as I am.

The funny thing is, I wasn't raised to be like this. My mom didn't make me keep my bedroom perfect as a child, she'd mostly make sure that I cleaned up when guests stayed over. Otherwise I just had to make sure that there was a walkable path through my room and that my stuff didn't spill out into the rest of the house. Of course once every other month or so she'd nag me to clean my room. I had chores to do and did them, and so learned to be responsible.

So why do I do it? Perhaps it is a defense mechanism. I got teased and bullied a lot as a kid (I was the nerdy poor kid who always wore hand-me-downs and even though those facts didn't bother me, it did get a lot of unwanted attention), and perhaps I felt I had to control every aspect of my life that I could since so much of it seemed so far out of control.

I know that having a baby is going to throw a lot of my ability to control out the window. Infants (especially newborns) have their own schedule, and their needs are completely dependent on their parents. A bit more so for mothers, I think, since we are their nutrition source. Perhaps I'm writing this now because the reality that I'm going to be having a baby is really starting to sink in, and I'm starting to become afraid. With all of the advice I've been getting and the books I've been reading I feel like I'm supposed to know what to expect but I know I have no CLUE what to expect and all the advice in the world isn't going to really prepare me for what's coming.

I already love George and am excited that I can feel him moving around. I am looking forward to seeing him for the first time and holding him in my arms, but I'm scared I'll do something wrong. I wouldn't change this time in my life or wish that I hadn't conceived this new life for the world but that doesn't mean I'm not scared. I know billions of women throughout history have gone through the same experience of fears and doubts mixed with loving expectation but it doesn't make it any easier for me.

All I can do is pray.

Lord Jesus, I lovingly pray for this sweet hope
that I keep within my womb.
You have granted me the immense gift
of a tiny little life,
living in my own life,
and I humbly thank you for choosing me
as an instrument of your love.
In this sweet waiting,
help me to live in a constant attitude
of self-surrender to your will.

Grant me a motherly heart that is pure,
steadfast and generous.
I hand over to you my own concerns;
any anxious fears that may come,
my own wishes for the little person
that I still have no knowledge of.
Grant that it may be born healthy in body,
keep far from it every peril to its soul.

Mary, you have known
the ineffable joy of a holy motherhood;
give me a heart that can transmit an ardent, living faith.
Sanctify my waiting,
bless this joyful hope that is in me,
grant that the fruit of my womb
may open out in virtue
and in holiness through your working
with that of your divine Son.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Winnie the Pooh

So today I got down and dirty with the acrylic paint. Since we're kind of doing a Pooh theme with the nursery, I figured I'd paint a mural on the short wall. Sean's mother gave us a quilted kite that had been in Sean's room when he was little, and I had the idea of Pooh holding on to the kite flying through the air. Took me a little bit of searching but I finally found a decent image to work with and sketched it on the wall.This last image is just to give you an idea of the proportions. Yes, it's still a mess up here in the loft but we're slowly getting things organized.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Baby Belly

Since I'm still too lazy to remember to bring the sonogram pics upstairs to scan in (and I've been quite busy today finishing up the first draft of the church newsletter), I thought I'd post a baby belly picture and you can guess how big he is in there right now. The only reason you're getting a picture from me now is because my laptop has a built in camera.

Last night at Sean's company soccer game, George figured out how to turn somersaults by launching himself off of my bladder. And since then he's been practicing.

Some more good news is that I finally finished the crib! A bit of background, my father had built a solid-sided crib from white pine for my sister, and when I came along it was my baby bed as well. Now over 30 years later (for the crib, not me...my sister is several years older than me :D) I gained possession of it from my mother's storage closet and began the task of refinishing it. My father was talented when it came to building things, but he wasn't very smart. When he coated the wood in verathane (sp?) he did so after attaching the brass fittings to the corners. So when I took paint stripper to it 30 years later I had to chip my way through 3 layers of ancient finish to unscrew the fittings.

Anyway, I stripped the old verathane off and sanded down the entire piece. Unfortunately the inside was not in very good condition and was quite difficult to sand. So I rubbed in a protective light stain finish on the outside and painted the inside white, then attached brand new brass fittings. The wood now has a honey glow (as opposed to the sickly orange hue from the verathane) and a crisp interior. I then found at JoAnn's a lovely Winnie the Pooh print (with a green background) and used a ton of batting to cover the head and foot panels. The only part that is not finished is the mattress. I purchased and sized the extra-firm foam but can't sew together the vinyl cover I plan to make until Sean gets my sewing machine down from the closet. But even missing that, the crib looks great!

Since we plan on using a bassinet for the first couple of months, the crib won't get used for a while (the nursery is upstairs above our bedroom and I'm not planning on running up there in the middle of the night for the next few months following the birth), but I'm glad I got it finished. It will be like one more step closer to being...you know...parents. :D

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Sleepless Night

So as I write this, it is 2:30am or somewhere thereabouts...or maybe it's 3am. I guess it's closer to 3. 2:30 is when the loudest and most irritating sound I've ever heard began. The fire alarm.

One of the conveniences of living in an apartment building of fairly new construction is the building-wide fire alarm system. There is a nifty little speaker in each bedroom of each unit in the building that emits a high-pitched squealing repetitive beep when the alarm is pulled. Throughout the building. Lovely. At least I know I'll wake up if there's a fire.

So it apparently started with our next door neighbors. They had been having a party all afternoon and evening (I could barely tell and only because I could hear a little bass) and one of them told me they had been "smoking" a lot. So I had walked to the front door when I heard the scampering of many feet down the outdoor staircase (we live on the 2nd floor). This was slightly alarming and Sean and I threw on bathrobes and went outside. Unfortunately we had to leave the agoraphobic cat in the apartment, she freaks out too much and doesn't have bladder control when she's scared. Stupid cat.

So we met our downstairs neighbor for the first time when we arrived outside. The fire department had been called and were on their way, and there was the strangest scent that reminded both Sean and I of a burning circuit board. The kind of sulfury smell that occurs when one fries a motherboard or graphics card. Soon a second fire engine pulls up, this one with a ladder. We speculated that perhaps the firemen wanted to check and see if there were any pot-smoking squirrels on the roof. Before we went back inside, our downstairs neighbor described the mass exodus of the party-goers next door running down the stairs as "cockroaches fleeing from a burning building". The residents of the next-door apartment spent the minutes before the fire truck arrived opening the windows and airing it out.

What a night. Being 6 months preggers, I am used to getting up in the middle of the night. Even so, this is a bit much! It did, however, remind me of my dorm days where if the fire alarm didn't go off every week or two I'd begin to worry. Ahh, the good old days, how I don't miss them.

So here I am, sitting at my computer because neither of us can get back to sleep, drinking a 7-up to settle my tummy, and posting to my blog because I have nothing better to do. Oy. At least it's a weekend....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's A......

BOY! We had our 20 week checkup on Monday and had a sonogram performed (pictures will be forthcoming when I decide to get off of my lazy bum and scan them in). Because someone doesn't like surprises, we decided to find out the sex and were pleasantly surprised to be blessed with a boy. Sean's mother suggested we name him Justin...as in Justin Other Sparkman. Not only did we shoot that idea down, we buried it 12 ft under. Covered in duct tape. Never to be seen in the light of day again.

George Preston Alexander is his name, and yes there are two middle names. Most people I talk to think that the middle names are fine but wonder where on earth we picked "George" from. George is named so in honor of my late grandfather, George Ambrose, affectionately known to my sister and myself as "Opa". Opa died of a heart attack when I was six. Some of my favorite memories of him include sitting on the edge of my grandparents' waterbed and watching Road Runner cartoons on the old black and white television with him, and sneaking up behind him in his chair at bedtime to give him a kiss goodnight on his bald spot.

I know Opa loved us grandkids very much, and perhaps my best memory of him was shortly after his death that December. On Christmas morning I opened the gift he had purchased before his death...a small pink children's Bible. I still have that Bible, although now it's wrapped in a large rubber band to keep the pages from falling out. I would like to think that Opa would be honored to know that his first great-grandson will be named after him. I may not be biologically related to him (my mother was his step-daughter until he adopted her), but he will always be my Opa and I can think of no better way to honor him than to name my son after the most important man in my young life. May you rest in peace, Opa.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

So blasted hot

As I type this, I'm staring out the window at the pool below, wondering if it's worth it to stuff my growing belly in a bathing suit and go take a dip. I just got back from Wally World with a couple of weeks worth of groceries, half of which are juices and bottled flavored water. It is 92 F in the shade of my porch which means it's a few degrees warmer in the sun. I just hauled up 6 heavy loads of groceries from my car up the stairs and into the apartment, then shoved the frozen stuff in the freezer before it could melt any more than it already was. My next action was to strip my sweaty clothes off and stand in the kitchen with my head over the sink and spray myself with the vegetable sprayer to cool off. So now I'm trying to figure out how I could devise a pulley elevator system to haul groceries up and down the stairs so I wouldn't have to make 6 trips....

Don't forget I had to get all the groceries inside, couldn't leave anything out in the car for Sean to bring in tonight. Leaving a 12 pack of Dr. Pepper inside the back of my hot dark blue SUV isn't a good idea. I know very well what a Texas oven...er, I mean the sun...can do to an unopened can of soda in a hot car. It's feasible to leave them in the car in the winter or when it's raining, it doesn't get quite as hot then.

So I'm going to go now and sit in front of the AC in the living room for an hour...

Jack in the Crack does it again...

Have you seen those Jack in the Box commercials lately, the ones about their new "Sirloin Burger"? And the next question, am I the only Texan offended by it?

If you haven't seen the commercials, the JitB crew (including Jack himself) are having a laugh at their competitor's expense over the fact that most fast food restaurants use "Angus" beef in their hamburgers while JitB uses the "Sirloin" cut of beef.

Now, anyone familiar with the bovine species knows that the sirloin is a specific cut of meat near the hindquarters and is a preferred cut for steak. Those familiar with the bovine species will also know that Angus is a TYPE OF BOVINE! One can get a sirloin cut from an Angus cow or bull. Angus cattle are the best kind of cattle to get meat from but not milk. In fact, I would not be surprised if JitB got their sirloin cut from Angus cattle.

I just detest those commercials, they sound so ignorant.

Monday, July 9, 2007

HEARTBEAT!

Oh yeah, by the way, we did hear the heartbeat last Monday. It was 170 beats per minute and came in loud and clear from the doppler thingy. While that may seem fast, remember that this is early in the pregnancy and that tiny little heart is still developing. Dr. said it was normal to be that fast right now, even if it's a bit on the high side. The speed of the heartbeat, he said, might indicate that we should be expecting a girl, although that is NOT a definite. We still need to wait until the ultrasound indicates how many legs the baby's got (if you catch my drift).

And I must repeat, if this baby is a girl, and you give me anything pink, I will know where you live. You can't hide, and I stock an arsenal of water balloons. I detest pink, and I detest the happy/fluffy sentiment that has developed in the past 50 years concerning gender based coloring. I long for the days when women wore blue (a serene and calming color) and REAL men wore red (the color of blood and war).

Many Things

So, I have been following a shocking situation brought up by Stand Firm, and feel the need to mention some thoughts on the subject. First of all, I am keeping the Kennedy's in my prayers, as well as Ms. Kaeton.

So now I thought I'd touch on a cooler part of Ms. Kaeton's post, that of NFP (Natural Family Planning). To me it seems as though NFP is seen by most people as a form of contraception without drugs or barrier methods. I do not see NFP as that at all. NFP is a tool that EVERY woman of childbearing age can use to further her understanding of her own body. NFP is useful for sufferers of PMS, knowing exactly what one's body is doing can better help one prepare for the inevitable wave of moodiness that comes with the cycle. Women who use NFP can plan activities around when they KNOW they'll be a bit testy.

Besides the obvious moral concerns I have with medical contraceptives, I am concerned with the havoc wreaked on a woman's body by unnecessary hormone therapy. Women's bodies are designed to function a certain way with specific hormones in a specific order. Flooding the body with extra hormones for the "convenience" of no children just does not seem like a smart idea. I noticed that my general health improved once I stopped taking "the Pill". I had fewer migraines, my skin cleared up, and I did not feel so tired all the time.

I have had several people tell me that "that NFP thing didn't work for you, you're pregnant." To which I feel I must respond "When did I say I didn't WANT this baby?" Thanks to my knowing exactly what part of the cycle my body is in at any given time, I know the day conception occured. I know exactly how long I've been pregnant. While there are not many things I have a chance to control in life at least I can be comfortable in knowing what's going on. I may not be able to control what is going on, but at least I don't feel like I was blindsided by my pregnancy.

NFP is not for the lazy. Part of knowing exactly what one's body is going through at a given moment is the willingness to learn and understand the how and why and to commit to it. NFP is also not just for women. A woman's husband should also be involved in the process, if for no other reason than he can look at her chart and understand why he isn't getting any for a week. I do use the term "husband" here because I am a firm believer that all are called to chastity even if some do not heed that call. But that's for another post.

The last part about NFP I feel must be made known is that the "P" stands for Planning. Planning does not necessarily mean "no children". Planning means just that...planning. NFP gives women a perfect tool for spacing children out, waiting until their financial situation or even the marriage itself is slightly better prepared for children, or even for trying to have as large a family as possible (and if a couple is able to provide for such a large family, all the more power to them!). Too often what I hear from pro-choice advocates is that women have a choice...until they CHOOSE to have children.

Well guess what? I CHOOSE to have children. So there. :P

Sunday, July 1, 2007

More Baby Stuff

Well, our next appointment is tomorrow (we'll get to hear the heartbeat for the first time!). I'm not one to actively ask for gifts, and this is not a plea for baby stuff. However, we felt that some of our family members and friends with internet access might like to know where we are registered so I am posting this for that reason. We are registered at both Babies 'R' Us and Target. Both registries can be found by either of our names (and even my maiden name for the Babies 'R' Us registry), the state is TX. Please be aware that there are different items on each registry as each store stocks a variety of baby stuffs. Again, this is not a call begging for stuff, just information I feel needs to be given for those who seek it.

BABY!!!!!!!

As for a pregnancy update, I am barely starting to show and can no longer fit into my old jeans ;) no morning sickness any more, now I just feel like I've lost my mind. Sean is still taking it very well, and he's still very very excited. More news (and possibly more sonogram pics) after tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, like I said, we had news to tell and now I can tell it!!!



Please meet the soon to be newest member of our family.


So it is too early yet to know whether the baby is a boy or a girl, but as soon as we find it out, I'll post it. We have told all the grandparents so now we can tell the world. We already have names picked out:

For a girl - Ellen Rose
For a boy - George Preston Alexander

Sean and I are so excited, we are looking forward to this baby so much! Updates will be forthcoming throughout the pregnancy along with pictures.

Friday, May 25, 2007

New RAZR ringtone!!!

I have just discovered something awesome! Sean and I were feeling a bit down that our RAZRs came with just a couple of crappy ringtones, and having had them for almost two years, we were getting a bit tired of "Hello Moto" and the "Back in Black" that he had downloaded for his phone a while back. So I connected my phone to my laptop via the built-in Bluetooth and downloaded a couple of mp3's to the phone. I timidly checked my ringtone list and discovered....VOILA! There it was!

So it takes up a bit more space than a regular ringtone, but at least I don't have to listen to "Hello Moto" again. And I can always delete the mp3 from the phone if I want to download a new one. And the best part about it? It's FREE. There's no charge to download a ringtone if I do it myself. And I'm probably now the only person with the Animaniacs "I'm Cute" song as a ringtone.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Long Time, little post

I would like to first off apologize for not posting anything lately. Some things have come up (trust me, updates will be forthcoming) and I am not quite ready to address them yet. However, I am a bit excited about my mother and grandmother's trip to Washington via train.

Most of my family is in Washington, including my sister, and it sucks to not be able to see them as often as I would like. In fact, the last I saw of my sister was at my wedding almost three years ago, although I do get to talk to her on the phone every once in a while.

Mom has been given strict orders to take lots of pictures and give lots of hugs out since I can't be there.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Calling all Designers!

Due to the rather rude reception I and other designers received concerning this topic and constant attacks in the discussion, I am rescinding my offer of a design challenge. Apparently those who work in the advertising business are held to a higher "Christian" standard than the great theological minds who participate in Touchstone's Mere Comments.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Oh Happy Day

It is the day after Easter Sunday, and I figured it was time for an update. I would like to share with you all an inspirational story I found last night, the musings of a lovely lady who was a lost sheep (athiest) for most of her life and found her way into Jesus Christ's flock via the Roman Catholic church. Please visit her blog and read her story. A link to her blog will be added to the list to the right.

Easter was an interesting experience, and even though I've lost my voice from all the singin', I feel that this Lent helped me to discern where I have been going wrong in my life. Last night I cancelled my Lineage 2 account because I finally realized that the game was a very tempting place to give in to anger. I found no joy or fulfillment in it, and I was losing my temper more often than I knew I should.

I do realize that simply removing the temptation to sin is not going to solve my problem, but I think it's a step in the right direction. I am not sure how to stop becoming so angry although I have a pretty good idea it has something to do with submitting myself to God's will instead of my own. Might anyone be able to recommend some good resources?

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter, and I'll try to post more often.

Monday, April 2, 2007

ST34LIN' UR INTERNETZ

So....I spent a few minutes today watching compilations of some of the weirdest and strangest cat pictures posted on the internet. Then I decided I must add my own to the mix. So here it is, for your viewing pleasure, Lily. Yes, this is my picture, it's still on my digital camera, I have proof. I also have the cat, the catbed, and the stuffed Sonic behind her. MY LILY!