Thursday, July 31, 2008

Birds, birds, everywhere

Turns out Florida is a great place to go bird watching. I identified 13 new birds in one week. I probably could have done more, but the one day my husband and I went bird watching, he tried to kill me by making me go on a 3 mile hike with 1000% humidity and then got us lost. I spent most of the hike trying not to pass out or push my husband into all the huge spider webs we were passing (this would have killed him, as he is deathly afraid of spiders). Good times! Thank god for Gatorade.
This is a juvenile tri-colored heron

ok, this picture proves I need a better camera

This is a pileated woodpecker and it looks like Woody the Woodpecker

This is an Anhinga

Obviously I did not get pictures of all the birds I saw. Lucky for you. Today I've been running around trying to get everything done before I leave tomorrow. I'm going to rural Minnesota, otherwise known as the place that my cell phone doesn't work and no one has wireless to steal. I'm going to try to get a couple of extra blogs written before I leave, but I have a feeling that won't happen. I also got caught in the rain today. And did I mention that even though we still have our credit cards, someone else has been using them too. Fun times, trying to get that cleared up! And the cab comes to get me at 5:30am. Yes, you read that right. So, if you don't hear from me for a couple of weeks, I'm ok. Probably just a little bored!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Florida wildlife

In addition to birds (which I'll get to tomorrow) Florida has a wide variety of wildlife.
There were lizards everywhere!

This guy was alive and it was amazing to watch it move!

This guy was actually dead, but I saw more than one of them!

This is close as the crabs would let you get.

We also saw a raccoon, in the middle of the day, walking down the golf course sidewalk. Yes, the sidewalk. It was one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen. I found a couple of shells that I kept too, including a sand-dollar (which I should find to make sure it didn't break on the way back home). And did I mention the dolphins that swam by a couple of times a day? They were pretty cool as well. I am still sad that the only alligator I saw was far, far away and I only saw him because I had my binoculars. I wish I could have gotten a picture of one. I guess I'm just going to have to go back (the locals all looked at me like I was crazy when I kept asking about where to see alligators).

My contractions have stopped. Unfortunately the pool at the gym was closed today, but I am feeling much better. I'm still taking it easy though and drinking enough water to float away. I went to Goodwill and bought a couple of cute tops for my next trip. Before I left for Florida, people thought I looked too small for how far along I was (I'm 25 weeks now). Now, they're commenting that they doubt I'll make it to my due date. Thanks! But as my husband said, I look huge because I'm tiny to begin with and everything I've gained has gone to my tummy (and my cottage cheese thighs, but we're just ignoring them right now). Someone tried to convince me I was having a boy because of how I'm carrying, even arguing with the two ultrasounds that prove otherwise! I can tell that the third trimester is going to be ever so much fun when it comes to the public!

Besides getting a couple of cute tops, I also enrolled in a couple of classes. Many things about the navy sucks, but they do try to provide support for their families. I have already taken a budgeting for baby class (for free) that offered about $100 worth of free baby stuff (I have crib sheets, but no crib!). Today I signed up for a breastfeeding class and a baby boot camp class (both free!). Who knows if I'll learn anything, but since I feel like I don't know anything right now, I think I'll get something out of them (and more free stuff on top of it). It's too early to sign up for October's childbirth classes, so I'll do that when I get home from Minnesota. I also signed up for a Red Cross First Aid/CPR for adults, infants and children class. I know I could just sign up for the shorter Infants CPR, but I figured the extra knowledge wouldn't hurt (my sister was a SIDs baby that survived). That class isn't free, but I think very worth it. I know everyone keeps telling me that once the baby is here nothing I've learned will apply anyway, but I'm hoping some of it will be useful! Did I mention that I love watching my tummy now! But she is a little stinker and she knew when her daddy was trying to feel her move. She would wait him out and then move about half a second after he got tired! I'm going to have a handful!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm back and I have wireless!

I guess I'll start at the beginning. The place we stayed at in Florida had wireless, it just never worked for more than 4 minutes at a time, making it difficult to post a blog.

So, Wes's kids did not know he was coming home for two days. On Friday morning I told them I had to pick a friend up from the airport. On the way to the airport, peppered with questions, I told them it was a guy, which seemed to shock them, but that he had gone to high school with their dad and I. And, I hadn't seen him in a while, but he had told me he had grown a ridiculous looking mustache (they get bored on the ship, and what better time to look ridiculous than when he's not with me). I spotted him right away and pointed out the ridiculous looking mustache to the kids. They were in shock. Almost as much shock as when I told them I was pregnant. They were also afraid of the mustache. I'm sure you'll understand why. I made him shave it the second we got home and then the rest of the weekend was spent on the go. It went by quickly and then we dropped the kids off and head to Florida!

A very ridiculous looking mustache!

You can't tell I've gained 21 lbs from this picture!

Our hotel was right on the beach. It took about 3 minutes to walk down there. I was able to watch dolphins from our balcony everyday! Wes had to work during the day, so I would take a walk on the beach in the morning and then read in the afternoon until he got off work. We went to the beach a couple of times and did some bird watching (that will be another post).

Doesn't he look better without that thing on his face?

My friend Sarah and I.

My friend Sarah, who moved at the beginning of June, was there visiting her husband too, so we all went out to dinner. Overall, I really liked Florida and it was wonderful getting to see my husband. On the morning I left, he cried (well, he teared up and when I asked him if he were crying, he just said I should probably leave right away).

I'm back home, after a 10 and a 1/2 hour drive yesterday. Which is why I've been having contractions all day today. They go away if I don't move and drink lots of water, but sometimes, I get tired of lying in bed! I had a doctor's appointment this morning and they basically said it was probably the drive, but contact someone if they don't eventually go away. They better go away, I leave on Friday for another 2 weeks! I plan on writing my posts before I leave so when I do get internet access, I'll just be able to post without writing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is the week over yet?

Things are going well with the kids, but I could really use a nap. I am exhausted!!! The kids (up until today, at least) have been getting along great. However, today, they just seem tired of each other. It's also Allison's birthday today, so it's a great day to be mean to her. They've been going to VBS all week, but today was the last day. And while they were gone, instead of taking naps, I did useless things like run errands, go to the grocery store, clean the house. You know, stuff like that. I did buy my super, deluxe travel system, but it's still in the box. Yesterday the kids made stuff for the baby, so that was good, but I'm ready for a nice long nap and at least a 1/2 to read without interruption. Tomorrow Wes gets here, which the kids don't know. So the next two days will be hectic and then Sunday we drive to Florida (without the kids). If you don't hear from me for a week, it's because I'm soaking up the sun on the beach!

Monday, July 14, 2008

That didn't go so bad!

Apparently I'm not as huge as I feel. I had originally decided to wear a tight shirt, one to show off my belly, to pick up the kids, but then decided maybe something a bit more subtle would be better. I guess it was too subtle. I had to tell Wes's x I was pregnant. Even she couldn't tell. We were talking over the kids' heads because I told her I wanted to tell them later. She congratulated me and then asked if it was planned. Hmmmmm???? I wonder why she asked?

We were eating lunch when I told the kids. Allison was very happy, but Victor thought I was joking and he didn't think it was funny. I finally pulled my shirt up to show him my belly. Then, he was just "shocked", and remained so for most of the day. Apparently he "wasn't expecting it." Allison was thrilled that it's a girl. Victor just rolled his eyes. They did have questions, but not the ones I was expecting. I had to explain several times that, no, your mom will not be the baby's step mom, your step dad will not be the baby's step dad and your stepbrothers are in no way related to the baby. I think they finally got it. Then they wanted to know who knew I was pregnant first (um, me!) and if we wanted a baby (yes!), will daddy be home for the birth (he better be!) and if they would be here for that (probably not).

Victor did make one very strange comment (several times). He told Allison not to get too excited because the baby could die when it was born, because that happens all the time. I explained that it does happen in poor countries like Africa, where there aren't enough doctor's or medicine, but that in America, it doesn't happen very often. I don't know if he was hoping or if he was worrying about it. Later he got very upset when he realized we have stairs and what if the baby falls down them and gets hurt?!? Well, we'll get a baby gate.

Allison wanted to know what we're going to name the baby. About two hours later she told me she thought Navy Bean was a beautiful name. I'm glad she approves. Victor wanted to know how we could name the baby without knowing what it looks like. A good point, but since we don't really have a back-up name, Navy Bean it will be. Victor also wanted to know what she would look like, so we talked about how Wes and I looked and how that might make the baby look. Allison wanted to know if it would be crawling when they came to see the baby at Thanksgiving (I'm due the 8th of Nov.) and I had to tell her no. Victor quickly pointed out to her that she wasted her time hoping for a little sister to play with since it wouldn't be able to play for several years. So then we discussed what kind of playing they could do with the baby.

Now, all these conversations have been spread out over a couple of days. It's not been baby time 24 hours a day. We've also played hero scape, monopoly, life, uno, and kids' trivial pursuit. But, the baby finally moved yesterday when the kids were right there so I let them feel it (they wanted to know how I knew it was the baby). They looked at me like I was that guy from Alien, you know, the one who has the alien pop out of his chest. I think it freaked them out just a little bit. Today, we're going to go to Target so they can see what I registered for. Allison actually wants to buy something for the baby, but I think we'll wait on that. Maybe I'll just have her draw a picture for the baby's room or something like that.

Oh, Victor did say at one point that he was scared when I told them I was pregnant. He didn't elaborate, but I told him that the baby didn't change how much we loved them, how much we wanted to see them and that we still want them to come live with us. I guess things are still not much better over there. Matter of fact, he was telling me that his mom thinks he's going to flunk out of middle school and because of this, he's not sure if he'll be smart enough to go to college (he's 10 and going into 5th grade. While school is important, I don't think this is the best way to impart that). He's also back on his medication because they didn't want to deal with teaching him how to handle his emotions (that's really pretty much what she said). So, even though it went well, I know that it's not always going to go this well. But this is a good start.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Say what now?

I'm going to get my husband's kids today. I haven't seen them since my husband left, since his x doesn't see any reason in driving them 1 1/2 hours just to see me (they live 3 hours away). I understand this, yet, my husband and I are really trying to instill in them that we are all a family, and if they're never here, how does that work? But right now, my main issue, my main fear, is that they don't know I'm pregnant. Yes, various people think we should have e-mailed them, or called them and just told them. But we want to be in charge of that conversation and that situation, and we wanted to give them time with just us (or me) to ask questions, talk about their fears, and try to make it feel normal. Yes, we are afraid of what his x might say to the kids. We've heard enough from the kids to know that she is not always honest with them about the divorce, about my husband's career, about the entire situation. Why wouldn't she try to twist this into something bad as well. Now, don't get me wrong. She doesn't talk bad about my husband and when he's home, we get the kids as much as we want. However, when it comes to the divorce, she obviously can't tell the truth (well kids, Anthony was just better in bed and he told me he had a lot more money than your dad, so I left) (Also, I am not indicating that I believe Anthony is better in bed. I have met Anthony and I actually have a hard time imagining Anthony having sex with a woman.). Therefore, the reasons she gives the kids for the divorce are just ludicrous: he choose the navy over the kids, he pays the navy to work there, so he doesn't have any money (which is why we pay an arm and leg in child support), he doesn't love the kids, that's why she left (and gee, that's why we get them as much as possible, because we don't want them). I'm just wondering how this is going to go over. Yes, the kids knew we wanted more kids, but that doesn't mean they understood we would have them, or how that would change their lives. So I'm a bit worried. But I'm going to try to make it as good and exciting as possible. Send good thoughts my way.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pack it up!

The baby's room, otherwise known as the office, is slowly, but surely, getting cleaned and organized. I almost cried when I had to pack up most of my books though. I only packed the books I have read, but still, how do I know I won't want to read Achebe, Conrad, Dickens, Atwood, or any of my other old favorites. I felt like I was packing up my friends. My husband assures me it is only temporary, and I know it is. Not to mention the close to 200 books I didn't pack up because I haven't read them yet, or the three tall bookshelves in the dining room that are filled with my Russian literature and history books (yes, I've read almost all of these). Those, I just can't pack. Thankfully, I don't have to. But it is slowly sinking in that my life is about to radically change. This time, two years ago, I was working on a dissertation proposal, looking forward to doing a year long research trip to Russia and hoping that someday I would be a professor. Now, I'm 5 1/2 months pregnant, have two step-kids, and a husband who is a naval officer. I want to eventually become a middle school teacher, but really want to be a stay at home mom first. Life is funny. And I'm very happy, but very scared as well.

This is my first baby. We have no baby things. My husband's kids are 10 and 7 and even if they had kept the baby stuff, they would have gotten rid of it during the divorce. Several people have asked me about a baby shower. I don't think I'm going to have a baby shower. You see, I'm not really that good at making friends. I lived in Texas for 14 years and the only friend I took away with me (other than my husband, but he was more like an acquaintance for the 15 years before we got married) is Camille. And I love Camille with all my heart and she more than makes up for any lack of friends on my part. In Madison, it was easy for me to make friends. We were all in graduate school together. I actually made a lot of friends there, people I'm still in touch with, even though hardly any of us are in Madison now. But here, here it's been harder. When you're a substitute teacher, you move around and don't stay anyplace long enough to make friends. And every time another navy wife and I become friends, they end up moving away. IQ doesn't really count as a friend. But, I finally met someone I really like and someone who wasn't in the navy and someone who wanted to give me a baby shower (one of the navy wife's did too, but then she moved). I met this person through IQ but she is smart and funny and I really like her. She's moving next week to California. Go figure. So, that leaves nobody to give me a baby shower. I go to church and I'm in a Sunday school class, but it's a hard way to make real friends. I'm a little disappointed about not having a baby shower, but I know I'll be getting packages from all over the country (and maybe the world). I'd still like to have a friend who lives here though. Camille, why can't you move here???

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Two down

I know I should be reading books I've never read before, but I decided I couldn't pack away Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh without rereading it. I remembered it as my favorite Rushdie book, and it did not disappoint.

The Moor's Last Sigh follows a wealthy Indian house for four generations. They have made their money through the spice trade. They claim they are descendants from Vasco de Gama (from the wrong side of the sheets), and they are Catholic. The family is ruled by strong women and eventually, is destroyed by stronger/weaker men. There is no harmony in this family. They destroy one another, as if it were sport. The narrator of the story is the last of them, the Moor, and with his death comes the death of the family.

Epifania and her husband have two sons, Camoens and Aires. Epifania rules the household and Aires is her favorite. However, Aires and his wife, Carmen, are unable to produce children, mostly because Aires is gay and he and his wife never have sex. Camoens brings home a beautiful, strong-willed orphan, Isabella. While Epifania is trying to gain control of the business (her husband left her an allowance, but not the business upon his death) she ends up destroying the business and the family. Aires and Camoens are sent to prison (for allowing riots and such, this is during British rule) and while they are gone, Isabella takes over the business and the house. She builds the business back up and manages to establish some sort of peace within the house. However, she often neglects her only child, Aurora. Bella continues to keep control, even after the release of Camoens and Aires and eventually, she buys Aires 50% of the business. Unfortunately, she dies from lung cancer when Aurora is just 13 years old. Not long after that, her father takes a swim in the ocean that he had no intention of returning from.

During this time, Aurora has developed her artistic talents and has discovered she is indeed a wonderful painter. One night, while wandering around, she discovers her grandmother, Epifania, whom she blames for her mother's death, in the chapel and she suffers a stroke. She calmly sits down and watches her grandmother die. With her last breath, Epifania curses her granddaughter and her house. From this point on, it is Aurora's story.

At the age of 15, Aurora meets and instantly falls in love with Abraham Zogoiby, a Sepharic Jew who is 20 years her senior. No one will marry them, so they claim they are married and proceed to have 4 children. Abraham turns the family business into a vast network of black market activities, while Aurora concentrates on her artwork. The three girls they have are not so important to the story, but since their son, the Moor, is their narrator, he is very interesting.

The Moor was born after only 4 1/2 months in the womb. He was born with a club instead of a right hand and ages at twice the speed of normal people. Although the story is very interesting until this point, this is where it really takes off, with the man who is telling his own story. It is a story of twisted love, betrayal, hate, betrayal, more twisted love, and so many strange things that you don't know what to believe. In the end, having killed themselves off (or being killed by others) he is the only one left and he is running for his life.

This is a great book, and very different from The Satanic Verses. Rushdie is a master at creating a situation where one is willing to suspend disbelief. This is a book, where upon finishing, you still can't decide who you believe. Was it Abraham who killed Aurora, or one of her spurned lovers? Was the Moor's lover trying to kill him to destroy his mother, or was the poison meant for herself? Is anything as it seems? I'm glad I reread it before I packed it away.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'll take that to go

I had a dream that I had the baby last night. In the dream, my pregnant friend had a baby (I don't have a pregnant friend) at our house, but her placenta was missing. I then went into labor, had the baby in about 3 minutes (I pray to God this is what will happen) and then pulled my placenta out, cleaned up the baby and dressed her. Then Wes called (in my dream) and was a spoil-sport by insisting I take her to the hospital to get everything checked out. Very weird.

I haven't been doing a lot. Just cleaning the future baby's room, swimming (I love swimming), reading, a lot, and I bought a sewing machine, but I'm afraid to touch it and realized I don't have any thread anyway (been checking Craigslist for material). I've also spent a lot of time being kicked and punched at the same time. At least that's what I'm assuming, unless my child is already doing the splits. They're still not hard, they're just very, very frequent.

IQ, being the nice person that she is, invited me over to her place for 4th of July. This puts me in quite a bind. You see, her house is filthy. Like, disgusting. Like, I don't want to eat or use the bathroom there. They have two cats and maybe clean the litter box once a week. She hasn't vacuumed since a month before the baby was born (he's 2 months old), and there's just crap everywhere. She wanted me to help her get a cleaning lady, but I can't because a cleaning lady will not come in and pick up all that crap (I mean, trash, junk mail, stuff from the store, baby stuff, you name it, it is all over the place). A cleaning lady will come in and vacuum the floor she can find, which at IQs is next to nothing. They leave the tummy time baby blankets on the floor, and let the cats walk and sleep on them. DISGUSTING. IQ did tell me she was cleaning up for the 4th though. I guess she actually loaded the dishwasher yesterday. Yes, that is her idea of cleaning. But the point is, I don't want to be there and sooner or later, I'm going to have to tell her why. Fortunately, right now, I have a great excuse.

YOU DON'T HAVE ANY FURNITURE!!! Yes, they don't have any furniture. No, I don't know why exactly, but I can speculate. IQ is given $800 a month by her husband. This is to cover food and household supplies. If my husband gave me $800 a month, I would have furniture. But not IQ, oh no, she usually runs out of money before the end of the month. What does she spend it on? JUNK!!! and FAST FOOD!!! We went to Target the other day and she mentioned she doesn't have a pack n' play. She doesn't need a pack n' play, at least right now. The baby sleeps in a bassinet. I told her, you can find one on Craigslist for cheap, you don't need to buy a new one (one gripe about Craigslist. What is it with people who claim baby items are barely used because the baby only used them constantly for 6 months and then try to sell the item for only $10 less than Target sells it brand new? Have these people read the baby books to know that babies are only babies a very short period of time and six months of constant usage does not a practically new item make?). Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, pack n' play. We get to Target. Guess what IQ buys? Um hm. Then she gets home and finds out one side doesn't work. Does she take it back? No. She keeps it. Which means, by the time the kid can pull himself up, they won't be able to us it anymore. And, while we were at Target, she decided she needed a new charger for one of her game thingies. Why? Because she already has two of them but doesn't know where they are in the house. GO HOME AND CLEAN YOUR FREAKING HOUSE!!! Don't buy another one. Thus, why she always runs out of money and her house is a mess. Even if they wanted to buy furniture right now, there's no place to put it because THERE IS CRAP EVERYWHERE!!!

So, for now, as a pregnant lady, I can use the lack of places to sit as a decent excuse to not go over there. But once they get furniture, I might just have to straight up tell her her house is gross. And yes, I have gone over there and tried to help her organize, but after 10 minutes she's tired because it's hard and she'd rather play WOW. And yes, her house looked like this before she got pregnant. And I'm not picking her up and bringing her over here to have play dates. If she wants to come over here, she needs to get her driver's license. I'm think I'm ranted out. Wow, I feel much better now. Thank you for listening. And I promise, the next IQ story will be much funnier (actually I have at least two that are hilarious, but you kind of had to get this one first to REALLY appreciate them).

I hope everyone has a fun and safe July 4th!