Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Best Kind of Guessing Game (It's a Giveaway!)

**This is a sticky post! Scroll down for newer posts!**

Being as our big ultrasound is coming up (Monday!), I thought I'd host a giveaway here on my blog in honor of the occasion. You could win a gift card to the Etsy store of your choice just by participating! (Why Etsy? Because I love that site, and I love the philosophy behind it. If you've never been there before, I highly suggest going over there and having a look around.)

I may end up giving away another gift card (probably to someplace else) if I get enough participants. How many is enough? I don't know. But please, play along, and tell all your friends! Tell your friends' friends! Tell your friends' friends' friends! Um, yeah.

Here's how this is going to work:

1) Leave one comment on this post telling me if you think Bunlet is a boy or girl and why. I'm really interested in hearing your reasoning, no matter how silly it is. I love silly! I love serious! I love all kinds of things! So please, indulge me.

2) I'll allow guesses in the form of comments on this post until December 31, 2008, at 11:59 PM. This post will stay at the top of my blog until then. (My first sticky post - weeeee!) One guess per person, please (and thank you)!

3) I will choose a random name from the group of people who guess correctly, and that person will be the winner.

4) I will post the winner here on my blog within the first couple of days of the New Year, so make sure you check back to see if you've won.

5) The winner will email me his/her full name and snail mail address, along with the name of his/her favorite Etsy shop for the $25 gift card. I will buy a gift card to that store and have it sent to you in the mail. And if I decide to do two or more drawings, well, I'll let you know.

6) Those of you who I know well and am likely to reveal the secret to (or who can't wait until the New Year to find out), vote early! You can't vote after you find out, you cheaters.

And now, to help you guess, here are a few clues:

1) The night I found out I was pregnant, I got a very strong boy vibe. It lasted for a few weeks and then faded away. It came back when I was 13/14 weeks and has come and gone since then.

2) Both my mom and Roy's mom think we are having a boy.

3) When I was seven weeks, the postmaster at my local post office told me that I was having a girl. (I hadn't even told him I was pregnant, and I certainly wasn't showing, either.)

4) I had a dream in the second month of my pregnancy that I was having a girl.

5) My friend Kim dreamed that I was having a girl.

6) My mom dreamed that I had a boy (with red hair).

7) Once, during a conversation with my brother-in-law Paul while in my third month of pregnancy, he referred to Bunlet as "her" without batting an eye.

8) My other brother-in-law, Jake, said that he thinks we're having a girl because of Roy's "wuss sperm." (I find this funny because female sperm, while slower, are actually more resilient than male sperm.)

9) This Chinese gender chart says I'm having a girl. *

10) If you go by the Shettles method of gender selection, we should be having a boy. *

11) If seeing how I'm carrying would be helpful, here's my most recent belly pic (again), taken at last night, at exactly 17 weeks:

No, that's not death warmed over. It's me, I promise.

12) And here is Bunlet's most recent ultrasound picture (again):

* Note: I really think that both the Chinese gender chart and Shettles method are just fun ways of guessing the sex, but I don't feel there's much to either of them.

So, now you have the rules and the clues - let the games begin!

Notes on 2008

This will be my last post of 2008, giving me an even 290 posts for the year.

And what a year it has been. Like so many others, the close of a year leads me down a path of introspective contemplation. I find myself in a very different place, both literally and figuratively, (and in a very different state) than I was at the start of 2008. I've said repeatedly on this blog that this was a very tough year, and actually, that's not entirely the truth.

It was more of a year of really high ups and really low downs. I think that this is what made it so hard sometimes, because with the change of the wind, my whole life tended to shift entirely. Also, several people I am close to had a really hard time this year. I'd like to see more calmness and clarity and happiness in 2009 - for all of us.

Truly, I am grateful for the life lessons I've been privileged to receive this year. I don't think I would really appreciate the many wonderful things in my life if it weren't for the hard knocks.

Here are the major events of the year.

I discovered a new passion (photography) and learned a lot about it through practice, reading, and paying attention to my own vision. (Of course, there is still so much to learn!)
I took on the (pleasurable) task of being Mandy's HOH, gave her a kick ass bridal shower, and offered a kick ass toast at her wedding.
I went to the doctor entirely too much, for things ranging from mole removal to fertility testing to prenatal appointments.
Roy completed his internship, took his comps (and passed), got a new job in his field, and graduated.
I got a little closer to graduating with my Master's degree, although not as close as I planned.
I started and completed my internship, which included a very intimidating teaching day.
Two of my good friends, Myra and Beans, moved away.
I said goodbye to my dear canine friend, Sasha.
My uncle got sick (and is now on the mend).
We went to some really cool places, including Vegas, Minneapolis, Texas, and the Morey Mansion.
I learned to accept that my current job has nothing to do with my inherent worth as a human being.
We celebrated our first wedding anniversary.
We watched someone close to us get pregnant and then suffer a devastating miscarriage.
We spent most of the year trying for a baby, dealing with the possibility of infertility, and then getting pregnant in September.
I finished up with four years of therapy.
We moved into a new house.
I got Lasik and cut off my hair.
I participated in a very important Presidential election.
I wrote a lot, mostly on this blog, but I did produce some decent poetry as well.
I turned 29, officially entering into the last year of my roaring 20s.
I started the daunting task of cleansing and purging in all areas of my life.
I changed my name.
I met some new people, further solidified some friendships, and burned a few toxic bridges.
I became a mother, which I already mentioned before, but hell, it deserves another mention.
I fell more in love with my rockstar of a husband, who has taught me so much, stood beside me through so much, and loved me so much. Roy, you are amazing, and I don't know what I did to get so lucky. No matter what happens, it's always me and you. With you, I can say "forever" and mean it.

I'm too lazy to link to all the blog posts that talk about these events. If I did that, I'd be writing this damn entry all night, instead of doing really important things like blowing my nose and watching One Tree Hill.

Happy New Year! Goodbye, 2008, you fickle bitch.

Home again, home again

Happy New Year's Eve! We flew in last night after our Texas Christmas vacation. I have more recaps to come and will get to those sometime within the next few days, I imagine.

A few things of note:

1) I have a cold. I actually have had it since Sunday. It sucks to be pregnant and have a cold at the same time, since I'm very limited on what I can take. It also sucks to fly while you're pregnant and have a cold. I was feeling decent until our flights yesterday.

2) It is so wonderful to be home. I cannot express how much I was looking forward to being in our house in our bed with our kitties driving us mad. Life returns to normal on Friday when I go back to work, and I'm grateful for the extra time off so that I can recover from this cold.

3) I'm really behind on my blog reading and commenting. But I'll catch up, I promise.

4) My desktop computer is screwed up again. It worked fine last night, but this morning it hasn't been working. It'll turn on and everything, but the computer isn't actually doing anything but running the fans. Thank the gods for my Macbook; I really need to think about getting a better desktop.

5) It's the last day to enter my guessing game giveaway! So if you haven't already, place your bets before midnight tonight!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quaint Christmas: Days Two and Three of Our Christmas Vacation

Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were laid back days. Considering that my uncle's weakness from his illness earlier in the year, my brother's kidney stones, and my pregnancy, we weren't in the best shape to go out and party. Instead we stayed in for most of both days.

On Christmas Eve, we decorated the tree...

...ate candy...

...gave Buster lots of love...

...took Buster for a walk and took lots of blurry-on-purpose pictures...

...looked at the Christmas lights...

...and opened gifts!

It was a small, quiet Christmas Eve with few gifts, but it was still good.

On Christmas morning, we crowded around the laptop and showed my mom and uncle a couple of our favorite videos.

I introduced my mom to i can has cheezburger. These were her favorites:

funny pictures

We hung out and took it easy...

...ate an awesome lunch, where I consumed three helpings of my mom's mashed potatoes...

...napped and then later took Buster out for his evening walk...

...and then came back to my uncle's house, where we had a low-key evening of movie watching and interweb surfing.

It was a good Christmas, just the way I wanted it. No muss, no fuss. Incidentally, the muss and fuss came the next day - with a vengeance.

I'll Take a Little More Dysfunction, Please: Day One of Our Christmas Vacation

Roy and I got up dark and early at 3:30 AM for our flight on December 23. Our brother-in-law Paul was nice enough to take us to the airport and watch over our kitties in our absence. Our flights were without incident, although I began to get extremely uncomfortable during the second (longer) one. (I will definitely not be doing any more air travel during this pregnancy.)

My mom and brother (Wade) picked us up from the airport and took us to eat at Taco Haven, a Mexican eatery in downtown San Antonio. (One thing I miss about Texas is the Mexican food. California just doesn’t know how to do it, in my opinion.) Afterwards, we went to my Uncle Charles’s house, where we got all settled in for our stay. Roy and I took a long nap; it was much needed.

When we woke up, it was nearing dark. We still hadn’t told any of my family about the sex of Bunlet - I was waiting until I could get them all together in the same room. I decided on the very spur of the moment to set up the surprise for my mom while she was out walking Buster (my uncle’s dog) - it only involved my putting out all our ultrasound pictures and the “it’s a ____” teddy bear Roy had found for her. I needed someone to stall my mom until I was ready, but neither Roy nor Wade jumped to it. Thus I decided to take my chances and set up the surprise and hope she didn’t walk in. I started laying out the ultrasound pictures on my uncle’s dining room table, when all of a sudden, I heard the front door open.

I quickly gathered all the stuff together and hurried upstairs. I was pretty annoyed but quickly got over it. Being as we were going out to get dinner, I figured everyone else could get in the car and I could stay behind for a few minutes and set up the surprise. My mom, brother, and uncle were all in the living room discussing something, so I hid in the downstairs bathroom while Roy went to go tell them to go out to the car and that I would join them shortly.

My mom is famous for carrying on a conversation for-frickin-ever, and I suppose she and Uncle Charles thought this was the perfect time to discuss the merits vs. dangers of acquiring driving directions from an online source. (Neither one of them has the Internet, if you can believe that.) So there I was, crouching in the downstairs bathroom, ear to the door to figure out what was going on. I finally texted my brother and said, “Get her out of there! I’m trying to set something up.”

I finally just gave up, because my mom would not stop talking. I hid the ultrasound pictures and the teddy bear amongst my uncle’s supply of toilet paper, walked out of the bathroom, and let everyone know I was ready to go. I thought it would have been cool to have my mom come home to the “it’s a ____” set up, and I was a little bummed (and again, annoyed).

As it turned out, it was probably best that it didn’t happen that way. Because while we were on our way home from picking up dinner, we got lost. When I get lost, I don’t get nervous - probably because I have a crappy sense of direction and am used to getting lost. My mom, on the other hand, has spent the majority of her life living in small Texas towns. She is a slow driver who doesn’t really know how to drive on freeways. What’s worse, she’s an anxious driver. So when we got lost, my mom’s anxiety really hit the roof. I kept trying to tell her that we just needed to turn around and go back the way we came, but instead, we just kept driving, and my mom just kept fretting. I don’t think she really understood that there were three rational adults in the car (me, Roy, and Wade) and that between us, we could figure out how to get back to my uncle’s house. (Plus, I have spent a lot of time driving around San Antonio, so as crappy as I am with directions, it’s a city I feel comfortable in.)

It truly was only a matter of time before someone got pissed off, because at this point my mom’s driving skills had dwindled to those of a 14-year-old (due to her high anxiety) and yet she wouldn’t do anything to remedy the situation. That someone who got pissed off was Wade. There was an outburst of anger (on both their parts), but my mom finally stopped the car and let my brother take over. He turned the car around, and we drove back to my uncle’s house.

Wade retreated to the third story of the house, where he had set up his home away from home. My mom stayed downstairs with my uncle in the living room. Roy and I ate dinner and hung out a bit in the living room as well. My mom looked awfully sad, and as much as I could relate to my brother’s frustration with her, I felt really sorry for her. I had Roy grab the camera, and I did the big reveal of Bunlet’s sex on the spur of the moment. It was a really nice moment, and it made a huge difference in my mom’s demeanor. It would have been better if Wade had been there as well, but I figured I would tell him in the morning when he was in a better mood.

As it turns out, sound carries very easily in my uncle’s gigantic house, and Wade heard everything, even though he was three stories up. Naturally, he was hurt at not being included. My intention was not to leave him out, but to do something to cheer my mom up. And I had no idea that he would be able to hear it all. So that aspect of it sucked. But we cleared it up, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were less dramatic days.

That recap (with pics!) is coming up.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Let's go back: pre-vacation, overly idealistic musings.

Before we left on our week-long Christmas trip on December 23, I wrote the post below. It feels like a lifetime has passed since I wrote it.

Okay, so I haven't talked much about Christmas so far. And that's because Christmas (or the holiday season, I should say) has been really weird this year. I've had moments when I'm over-the-top excited about the holiday and moments when I snap out of my sleep-deprived haze for an instant and say, "Wha?? It's Christmas??"

This is our last Christmas together before we become parents. You'd think I'd be trying to rake in the presents because I won't be getting that many from here on out! (Well, maybe I will. Who knows?) And while there's a list of things that I want, I've reached the point where it just doesn't matter what I get. I've been like this for months now, but recently it came to a head.

Even though my time off to go to Texas and spend time with my family for the holiday was approved by my boss back in October, almost three weeks ago (the crappiest week ever) my right to take this vacation was almost revoked. Or it sure did seem that way. I'll spare you the details as to why, but let's just say that it wasn't pretty. After spending almost a week in limbo, wondering if I was still going to be able to take off from work, my vacation was approved (again) a couple of weeks ago.

So during that period of limbo, I had a lot of time to think about what it meant to me to be able to have this time in Texas. Obviously, it's about time with my family. But it's also about my mom seeing me pregnant with my first child, which may not happen again. It's about hanging out with my brother, who has been having a really hard time of late. It's about having Christmas at my favorite uncle's house, the one who's spent the vast majority of this year being sick (and now recovering). It's about revealing the sex of Bunlet and seeing my family's faces when they find out. It's about telling my dad that I'm pregnant. It's about making peace with the place I grew up, something I started having the desire to do back in the summer. It's about doing all these things with Roy by my side.

To have all these things potentially taken away from me....well, the thought was close to devastating. I know that seems a little over-the-top, but I'm at the point in my life where I truly realize that stuff doesn't matter. People do. Yes, I think it'd be great to get a lot of expensive photo gear, some TV shows on DVD, some new (maternity) clothes, etc, and I certainly won't say no if these things are offered. But more than anything, I just want to be with my family, who I am lucky to see once or twice a year.

And being as this vacation is a go and we have a healthy Bunlet on the way, I've already gotten everything that I want for Christmas. The rest is just a bonus.

Roy and I decided not to get each other gifts this year, in light of the expensive plane tickets to Texas. Once my uncle found out that we were all going to be there for Christmas, he asked us not to get him anything. My mom also said recently that she had hardly done any shopping and didn't really want anything. When I talked with my brother about his wants, he said that he couldn't really think of anything. So it looks like we're all just planning on having a very small Christmas, maybe with a few gifts or maybe with none at all.

And you know what? I couldn't be happier.

I love giving gifts, and I love receiving them. But I don't know, this year is just different. Maybe it's the economy, maybe it's the fact that we are soon going to be responsible for a tiny little being, but I already feel like we have too much stuff. I definitely am guilty of overindulging, because I love to collect things. We're in the process of putting aside everything we want to get rid of, including about half of our library that took us years to build. We'll sell the books on Amazon, the decent pieces of furniture on craigslist, and the rest in a yard sale. It just feels right.

What does it mean to own something, anyway? We've managed to amass quite the art collection in the time we've been together (I brought a few pieces into our relationship), and I have started to wondering what it means. It's nice to be surrounded by beautiful, inspiring things, but at the same time, you can't really own art, can you? You can't own beauty. It's an experience to be had, not something to be added to a collection.

So I guess I do have a Christmas wish after all. I want more experiences and less stuff. This year my family will get Christmas cards with special notes inside of them. There is no experience like reading (and rereading) the good things someone has to tell you.

Oh, the idealism. It gets me every time. We're not home from Texas yet, but let's just say that this vacation has fallen far short of what I wanted it to be. Stay tuned for my Christmas recap.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Look closely...

And you'll see us wishing you the merriest of holiday seasons.

It took us a long time to get this picture right, so enjoy! And enjoy the light and love of your families.

Friday, December 19, 2008

17 weeks

Today I'm 17 weeks pregnant. Wow! Almost halfway through - time is flying.

Bunlet is now the size of an onion.

I took WeeMo's suggestion on my last belly pic post and decided to take belly pics with something that is close to Bunlet's size. So this week it's our stuffed Christmas penguin.

I really don't like this picture. I need to take my belly pics in the morning, because I look like death warmed over at night.

I got my hair done this week and admitted to my hairdresser that I am indeed pregnant. She said that she immediately noticed when she saw me that I had a tummy but wasn't sure if it was due to pregnancy or just weight gain. So apparently I'm still at the "is she pregnant or has she just had too much beer" phase.

Noteworthy (pregnancy-related) events of the week:

1) It is now extremely easy to find Bunlet's heartbeat on the doppler both at home and at the doctor's office. We used to have to search quite a bit for it, but now it's a piece of cake.

2) Roy and I actually went to Babies R Us last Saturday. It was not as overwhelming as I expected it to be, maybe because I don't go crazy over baby stuff in general. But it did spur me to look for baby things online. I found a couple of bedding sets that I like, both of which seem to be gender-neutral to me.

This one is labeled for a boy, but whatever, it's cute for a girl, too. Down with the pink and blue stereotypes!

This set is really cute. I had a huge collection of stuffed monkeys as a kid, so I really love monkey stuff for kids.

Of course, I will do a ton of research before we start buying/registering, all with the help of my well-loved copy of Baby Bargains.

3) The night we celebrated Paul's birthday, my nephew Noah asked me, just as I was about to bite into my big honkin' piece of cake, "Aunt Leslie, did you have your baby?"

"No," I said, "why do you ask?"

And then he replied, "Because you're eating cake."

I couldn't help but laugh. I love kids. I love the stuff they come up with. I can't wait to hear the crazy stuff that is bound to come out of Bunlet's mouth.

4) I already know that Bunlet is moving around like crazy, but within the next few weeks I should actually begin feeling it. While Roy and I were shopping this past weekend, I felt a strange sensation. It felt like something was poking me very gently from the inside. It happened a few times in a short amount of time and then stopped altogether, and I haven't felt it since. So it probably wasn't baby movement. It's really hard to tell, though, with all the other weird things that are going on (stretching, etc).

5) Melinda, she of poo-flinging fame, has generously offered to throw us a co-ed baby shower. This is a girl who wakes up at 4:00 AM for work five days a week and will be in school until 10 PM four nights a week next quarter. She's freaking insane. But she insists she can handle it. She's a braver woman than me, that's for sure.

That's all the news I've got for now, but watch for my official vote-if-Bunlet-is-a-boy-or-girl post coming up this weekend. There's a prize in it for you - maybe even more than one prize if I get enough participants.

The Year in Cell Phone Pics

My friends and I recently decided to start a cell phone photography business; little did I know that I'd been building my portfolio all year long! It all started when I got my Razr phone, thanks to my mother-in-law. I immediately began snapping photos and sending them to my contacts. People immediately took notice. I got such a good response to the blurriness and crappy quality of light in my photos that my good friends approached me about forming a business.

Thus, JealousE Douchebag Photography was born.

Here are some of the best cell phone pics I've taken this year, all of which will be featured prominently on the JD Photography website!

This one will be in the "what not to wear" gallery.
This one will feature prominently in the "best hairstyles of 2008" gallery.
This one is just pure mastery. A jaundiced-looking Melinda with a giant straw, absolutely perfect lighting, not at all posed...
Kim's license plate
a cupcake that looks like a steaming pile of poo, but that tasted much better
the cutest husband ever holding a very cute baby
Mandy getting all dolled up for her wedding
a mushroom I drew (Super Mario Bros. style!)
me wearing Mandy's sweatshirt and crinoline - totally artistically blurry and photojournalistical
the cutest husband ever, in need of a major teeth cleaning
ahhh, the joys of Lasik (I obviously didn't take this, but I have no problem taking credit for it since I'm an immoral mofo)
yay! sculpture in Minneapolis!
someone named Sylvia who is very happy but also very evil
biggest lemon ever (notice the coin for scale)
best license plate ever
Mao attacks!
dark thoughts while sitting in the most boring presentation ever
Mao, with eye crust (the day we brought her home)
big fat smiley face guy

The award for the best cell phone pic taken by someone other than me (because clearly I am the master) goes to Melinda, who drew a picture of herself flinging poo.

I'm sure the cell phone photography business will be very lucrative, but we have made a vow never to compromise our artistry just to make a buck.