Monday, April 28, 2008

Texas was great!

Just a quick post about our trip to Texas. We didn't do much but hang out with the friends we have known virtually for a few years. We've been talking to them and gaming with them, but haven't really had the opportunity to spend real time with them until now. I'm so glad we went! We had an excellent time and really enjoyed being around all of them. They also all pitched in and gave us a generous gift toward our babies (Visa that we'll probably spend on a crib or car seats). It was so sweet! I seriously lost my breath when I opened the gift, I was so moved! Dh is also likewise moved by their generosity.

Our hosts were fantastic and they put up 9 guests in their house with ease (food, drink, and board)! All the guests were so courteous and it was easy sharing a bathroom with everyone, there never seemed to be much of a wait if there was a wait at all. Everyone pretty much cleaned up after themselves and respected each others' space. I felt so laid back around them and very comfortable. There were no pretenses and I felt I could really be myself and not have to work at pleasing anyone, they just liked and accepted each other for who they were.

Why can't it be that way with everyone?

OfficeMax Sucks

This warrants a post all on its own. The negativity of dealing with them is inside me so I thought I would release it to the world.

We bought some office chairs from OfficeMax a few months ago. Within about a month, or a little over a month, one of them broke. The plastic on the arm rest snapped and rendered the entire chair useless, since so much of it seemed to be supported by the arm rests. if you sat on it, it was crooked and the back of the chair sagged.

When we got a chance, we took it back to OfficeMax. Considering I'm restricted from lifting anything, I had to wait for a weekend when Dave was free so we could do this together. It wasn't much after their "30-day" window for returns.

They refused to return our purchase. The chair was about $150 and for such little time it really should have held up better. I'm saddened that OfficeMax will not back up the products they sell. I suppose we could have paid a stupidly high amount for an extended warranty on the chair, but really, we didn't think the chair would break so soon. When the warranty costs about 1/4 the price of the chair, is it really worth it? Plus, being pregnant with twins and all, not only should I not be lifting this chair, I shouldn't be dealing with the stress of it, nor should we be spending extra money on extended warranties that are not advisable by even the best financial experts. Those warranties are just ways the companies like OfficeMax use to get more revenue for pretty much no work.

Our garbage collection allows us one small bin per week. There was no way we could throw it away ourselves. Also, what a waste! The chair was irreparable by us, but maybe not by the manufacturer. It's such a shame this item may end up in a landfill from just a month's worth of use! We also know that as a company, OfficeMax has better leverage with the manufacturer and can likely get that chair repaired or exchanged, or at least give us some sort of support to do it ourselves.

We left the chair with them at the store with a copy of the receipt and our information so the store manager could call us during her work hours, which happen to be the same as Dave's work hours. We were told that she wouldn't call us, that we'd have to call her. What happened to customer service? We strongly expressed our desire for the manager to make the effort to actually call us - that a simple phone call would go a long way toward redeeming OfficeMax in our eyes. That if we didn't get a phone call, then not only would they lose us as a customer, but that I would write about this in my blog and we would be more than happy to spread our story around, encouraging others to beware of purchases made from OfficeMax.

It has been over 2 weeks and we haven't had that phone call. I can only guess that they sent the chair to their manufacturer and benefited from some sort of refund, leaving us out of the loop and out of our hard earned dollars.

Edited to add: I called their main customer service hotline and spoke with a very nice woman, Diane, who took my report and apologized for the treatment we received. She said she's sending the report directly to the district manager for the store we dealt with and asked the DM to call us back about the incident ASAP. So, the issue we have is with our local store at Paseo de Saratoga in San Jose, CA, perhaps, and not with OfficeMax in general. We shall see, though, how it all pans out. We'll see if we get that call and find out how they can resolve the situation. Brian Pirotti is the DM who should call.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Going to Texas

Dave and I play a game called LineageII. It's a sort of role playing game with characters you develop and work on the get them more and more powerful. It's similar to World of Warcraft, actually. The game has its own currency and you try to earn more and more so you can get better weapons and armor. There are also sites that sell the currency, it's quite a racket. I like playing it because I can kill big ugly giant ants. My main character is Eluria, a level 60 (almost 61) sorceress. She blows things up with fireballs.

Dave started playing the game pretty much the day it launched years ago. He helped to form a clan, which had its ups and downs for a bit, but is now a pretty strong clan within the game. The clan is the Wolfriders and it is comprised of a lot of really nice people around the world, but mostly in the US. We are the only "clannies" on the West Coast, most everyone else is in the midwest or the south.

A bunch of them are getting together at the clan leader's house in Texas this weekend. We decided to join them. I don't really know what to expect. They are nice people, though, so it should be fun. I'm just a bit of a homebody at times and really need my personal space each day or I go a little batty. I hope I can remain pleasant through the entire weekend.

There isn't much else going on these days. I'm trying to find work, though it's a little more difficult to find something now that my restrictions are increased by the pregnancy. I'm still looking for the ideal job where I can work from home and set some of my own hours. I have a hearing with the Department of Labor regarding the Workers' Comp. case in about 2 weeks. I'm extremely nervous and stressed about this. It has been my experience that most of the dealings I've had with the DOL has been met with harrassment on their part and lots of sadness and stress on my part. Every time I think about this hearing, or even the Workers' Comp. situation, my heart rate increases and sometimes I start to hyperventillate. Not only do I have to suffer the permanent disability of RSD from the accident, I have to suffer the issues surrounding a Workers' Comp. claim - and that's not easy. It's hard for me to believe that there are people who fake injuries and take advantage. This stuff is really hard, stressful, and I just wish it were out of my life.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Boy oh boy!!

The big ultrasound was this afternoon. It went great and I was stuck with permagrin the entire time. Dave set up the video camera to record the entire thing. It was so much fun! Ultrasounds are great. We love seeing our little boys. Yes, boys!!

The ultrasound tech is very sure they are boys. Granted, it is early and we know that for awhile boys and girls look pretty much the same, but she showed us how she can tell, and they really look like boys.

The best news of all is that both babies are looking great. They are measuring right on target and the amniotic sac issues are now resolved. Dave and I are both breathing a big sigh of relief and we're getting in gear to prepare for two boys. We're really going to have our hands full! Get your mind out of the gutter, the knackers weren't that big (oh, and we won't be filling our hands with them anyway - ew!). Boys can be quite active, that's all. But then again, so can girls.

Most of our friends have girls so this balances out the equation a bit.

Oh boy. Our cat's a boy. Dave is a boy. This house will be filled with testosterone!! Well, at least the cat's neutered, which balances things out a bit in this household.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wearing maternity clothes!

I'm at that in-between stage where my regular clothes are too tight but a lot of the maternity clothes I've been given are too big. Fortunately, I have enough maternity clothing that fits right now so I don't have to Bella Band it. I've cleaned out my closet so that it houses only clothes that either fit, or will fit in the coming weeks.

Dave and I went to the dry cleaner on Saturday and the woman there said, "oh you're showing!" Don't worry, she wasn't being rude, she already knew I'm pregnant. I told her a couple of weeks ago. It seems that just over the last week or so I really started to show and look pregnant. The beer gut has rounded out. I can't imagine how big I'll get by the end of this, but I'm wondering if I'll have a 3rd stage of maternity wear (1st stage is the smaller stuff I was given, 2nd stage is the larger stuff, 3rd stage is when I have to go buy mu-mus or tents).

I'm so excited about having a pregnant belly. Dave's probably sick of me saying, "Look! Look at my belly!"

The big ultrasound is on Friday. They may be able to tell the gender at this time! The biggest reason for the ultrasound this early is to make sure Twin-B is still hanging in there and that the sac size issue is better.

Unfortunately, the woman who scheduled the ultrasound scheduled my official Level-II ultrasound, saying I could only have the one ultrasound. Well, she's wrong. The original Level-II was perfectly timed for 18 weeks. I know that 15 weeks (which is what I'll be on Friday) is too early to look for some of the things they look for in a Level-II ultrasound. The original one was only scheduled for a singleton, though, even though Dr. E. (the IVF doctor) called that department and told them to change it. Grrr.

Anyway, so I was told to choose one or the other, and that I was only getting one (like I said, that woman doesn't know what she's talking about). I chose the one on the 18th because that's what my doctor wanted, that's what we wanted, was a good ultrasound right after 14 weeks to check Twin-B and to rule out TTTS 100%. My doctor said she wants a good ultrasound done every 4 weeks so I'm sure she'll order another one of these for week 19. I will make sure to politely remind her of this as often as necessary.

Dave and I are going through names in a name book given to us by Karen, the same Karen who generously gave me her maternity clothes. This book has some good names and some not so good names, but they are laughable. We circle the good ones and laugh at the rest (for example: Brunhilda, Adolph, Amos, and Arelia - the latter two reminding us of "anus" and "areola").

Here are some photos from Saturday (14 weeks 1 day pregnant). I'm wearing maternity clothes given to me from Dede, another sweet friend.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The "Jeffites"

You may have seen in the news the story about the polygamist group that has been recently broken up. Over 400 children plus many mothers have been removed from their Texas compound and are being held at shelters while Texas authorities try to figure out what to do with them. You may be aware that they are connected to Warren Jeffs, the man convicted late last year of being an accomplice to rape (he arranged marriages for under-aged girls) and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is still awaiting trial in Arizona for similar charges.

What you may not know is that this 400 is just a mere fraction of the number of children that are really in this group, which at one point totalled over 10,000 members. Over the years many members have switched their allegiance from Jeffs, and some of them even switched communities into other polygamist sects. You also may not know that I am distantly related to some of these people. Frankly, I only really know one great-aunt and a few second cousins that had ties to that sect, but I think most of them branched off to a nearby sect not following Jeffs. Even with the distance, the family is close enough that I'm often hearing about the goings-on of these groups and see them at certain family gatherings (sadly, mainly at funerals).

I have a different perspective of these people and their beliefs. It's almost an insider's perspective, but without being on the inside. For the record, we do not practice polygamy, nor is it our intention to ever practice polygamy. Dave says he has enough work cut out for him with just one wife. :)

Due to my "closeness" to this subject, it's something I find fascinating and always have to see every article I can when it turns up in the news. I've even based several of my school papers on this issue. I also find humor in this, so polygamy is something I tend to joke about from time to time, too, but it seems only my relatives can get the jokes (and tell their own).

By watching the news, it's very obvious to me that this is a subject that is poorly understood and so often misrepresented. I'm not saying that I condone the statutory rape or the forced marriages, in fact I think that there are a lot of crimes going on in these communities that have been overlooked for years. I think that Jeffs' "accomplice to rape" charge is the least of his crimes, but how can you charge someone with the tyranny and abuse that he's committed over the years? His crimes are so unique, and so terrible, that I don't think the lawmakers of the past 200 years even conceived that such a person could do these things. They got him on all they could get him on, given the state of the laws and the complexity of the issues.

I dug up an article I wrote about this a couple of years ago and thought I'd post it here, which is why this post is much longer than my usual epic posts. ;)

Here it is, written June 26, 2006:
On May 7 of this year, Warren Jeffs gained nationwide infamy as he joined the likes of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and mob enforcer James Bulger on the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted List. Officially wanted on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, sexual conduct with a minor, conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, and rape as an accomplice, Jeffs’ crimes are deeper and more convoluted than anyone knows.

Since taking over the religious group calling themselves the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and taking control of the twin communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah, he has abused his power to subjugate his followers and take their property, including wives.

Such offshoots have been in practice since the late 1800s when polygamy was outlawed and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints officially repealed its practice among Church members. These offshoots call themselves “Fundamentalist Mormons” and continue to try to live quiet lives, practicing what they call, “The Principle,” or “Celestial Marriage.” They believe the practice of polygamy is essential for them to ascend to the highest level of salvation and that the practice is required of them by God. They, and many others, believe that polygamy should be legalized, or at least decriminalized in the United States.

The decriminalization of polygamy would mean that polygamists would not be able to be punished for their practice, though, like many sodomy and adultery laws, the laws proscribing polygamy remain on the law books. Like in the case of Lawrence V. Texas, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states had no right to pass or enforce anti-sodomy or homosexual misconduct laws. Some believe that with the recent well-known cases of abuse, however, decriminalization might not be enough. Legalizing polygamy would mean that the lifestyle could be under further scrutiny, which would require that the marriages were legal, with marriage licenses and with all parties being of legal consenting age. The current practice to subvert the bigamy laws is to take the first wife legally and all subsequent wives “spiritually” where they are sealed together in a private ceremony overseen by the sect’s prophet.

For current plural marriages, no marriage licenses are issued and the practicing parties usually maintain a vow of secrecy, never revealing that they are married. In many cases, children are not allowed to know the name of their father, to further protect the marriages from prosecution.

In addition to the abuses of women and children, another problem with current polygamy is welfare abuse. Many polygamous wives claim welfare as unwed mothers, as their husbands are not listed on the birth certificates of their children.

The United States outlawed polygamy as a response to the LDS Church in the 19th Century. In the 1856 U.S. election, polygamy was compared with slavery as one of the “twin relics of barbarism.” Congress passed a succession of anti-polygamy laws that included The Morril Act of 1862, the Edmunds Act of 1882 and the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887. These laws not only prohibited polygamy, but they denied existing polygamists the right to vote, run for public office, serve on a jury, or be granted a jury of peers. They also disincorporated the LDS Church and seized Church lands.

In 1890, LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff issued a press release called the Manifesto. In it, he told Church members that they were no longer to practice polygamy. Federal authorities declared they would not accept the Manifesto as binding until it was formalized by being presented at the LDS Church General Conference. The document was read before several thousand Church members on October 6, 1890. Many LDS members at the time, also called Mormons, believed that the Manifesto was the result of pressure by the federal government and the desire to obtain statehood.

After the Manifesto, many members continued to practice polygamy outside of the Church and the law. In the 1920s a large group of them met in secret. Two men, Lorin C. Woolley and his father, John W. Woolley told the fundamentalists that former president of the Church, John Taylor (1880-1887) received a revelation in their home in 1886 where God told him to protect polygamy at all costs. At this time, there was mainly one faction of Fundamentalist Mormons, led by the Woolleys. Eventually, there were splits and now the major factions are the FLDS, the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), the Latterday Church of Christ, otherwise known as the “Kingston Clan”, and the True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of the Last Days (TLC). There are also several thousand independents which include other Christian groups, not necessarily of Mormon heritage. There are estimated to be around 100,000 polygamists living in the United States, only about half of them being Fundamentalist Mormons. Many familiar with these sects also call them “clans,” as they tend to follow down family lines.

The Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, (FLDS) is the oldest and largest of the established Mormon Fundamentalist groups. Based in the twin cities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah, it boasts around 10,000 members. This group consists mainly of the descendants of the group led by the Woolleys in the 1920s and 1930s. Most polygamist clans, including the independents have ancestral ties to the FLDS. To the locals, the area is still called “Short Creek” (pronounced "Short Crick"), the original name of the settlement. Most of the property is held in a trust set up by the Church.

In the past, male members were granted a lot of land, which he can build a house upon when he comes of age. Since the land itself is held by the Church, Jeffs has been accused of abusing his position by dispossessing members of their homes and property if they should oppose him. In 2002, Jeffs had declared that true “Celestial Marriage” should be between one man and a minimum of three women. In 2004, to make up for the shortage of women in the community, Jeffs excommunicated around 1,000 young men above the age of 13 and took away the wives of many married men, taking many for brides himself. The excommunicated were expelled from the community, left to fend for themselves without any money and seldom an education above the 8th grade level. These young men have been referred to as the “Lost Boys of Southern Utah.” Jeffs has been in hiding since being indicted in 2005 for sexual conduct with a minor.

The Apostolic United Brethren, (AUB), led by Owen Allred’s clan, has around 5,000-7,000 members and is the second oldest of the organized Fundamentalist Mormon sects. Also termed the “Allred Clan,” the group branched off from the FLDS in the 1940s when leader Joseph W. Musser named Rulon Allred next in line. Short Creek residents disagreed with this appointment so Musser and Allred branched off, centralizing in the Salt Lake Valley. Rulon became leader of the AUB upon Musser’s death in 1949. The Allred clan gained media attention in 1977 when Rulon was murdered by the wives of rival polygamist, Ervil LeBaron.

The LeBarons had branched off on their own earlier in the 20th-century, believing that theirs was the true Church, as it was intended to be practiced. Ervil LeBaron believed that anyone who opposed him should have their spirits cleansed through blood atonement, the shedding of his life through blood to make up for one’s sins. In his lifetime, Ervil penned over 500 pages of names for his hit list, which he gave to his sons before dying of heart failure in prison, serving a life sentence for the murder of Rulon Allred. While the list was created nearly 30 years ago, some believe that people on the hit list are still under threat.

Among the most notorious of the Mormon Fundamentalists is the Latterday Church of Christ, more commonly known as the “Kingston Clan,” consisting of about 1,000 members. The Kingstons separated from Musser’s group in 1935. Many of them live in Salt Lake and Davis Counties in Utah. They are probably the wealthiest polygamist clan in Utah, owning a cooperative of businesses across the state. The Kingstons achieved infamy in the 90s when John Daniel Kingston was arrested for beating his sixteen-year-old daughter for refusing to marry her much older uncle. Earlier, in 1985, clan leader John Ortell Kingston was charged with welfare fraud, settling with the state for $250,000.

The True and Living Church (TLC) is led by James Harmston and bases itself in Manti, Utah. They have around 300-500 members. A relatively new sect, they are made up of dissidents from other organized Mormon Fundamentalist churches along with many independents searching for some order and structure to their religion.

In addition to the several organized groups are several thousand independents scattered throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The most notable independent is Tom Green, who loved media attention and boasted his polygamous practices publicly on various talk shows in the nation. In 2002, the state of Utah used Green to set precedence for trying other polygamists for bigamy or unlawful cohabitation based on establishing marriage through common law. Prosecutor David Leavitt, brother of former Utah governor and now Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, successfully tried the case which convicted Green of bigamy and statutory rape. Many of his wives were fourteen at the time he married them. At the time, fourteen legal consenting age in Utah, provided the parents consent to the union. However, Leavitt established that one of his wives conceived Green’s child at the age of 13. Utah has since risen the consenting age to 18, 16 if parents give legal signatory consent.

The modern day LDS Church is one of the fastest growing Christian religions. Led by President Gordon B. Hinckley, the Church wishes to distance itself from the polygamist sects, claiming that what the offshoots practice now is not what the LDS Church is about. Hinckley has asked the media to not refer to the Church or its members as Mormons, the term being coined in the 19th-century, more as a derogatory name after the book of Mormon, scriptures that the Church members follow in addition to the Bible, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants. Furthermore, Hinckley said recently that there are no "Fundamentalist Mormons," preferring that the title Mormon be removed from these groups so as not to confuse them as being related to the modern LDS Church.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lunch with Debbie

It was so nice to see my friend Debbie again. I haven't seen her in about 2 years. She's looking great (if you're reading this, Debbie, you looked great!). She treated me to lunch at Le Boulanger, a local baker/deli chain.

We went to order, but I really had no clue what I wanted so I asked for suggestions from the person helping us. I explained to the cashier (who happened to be the Assistant Manager, surprisingly enough) that I could have no deli meat, but I didn't want a vegetarian sandwich, either. I wondered if she had anything with cooked meat. She said that everything had deli meat and said they didn't have anything that was cooked. She suggested a salad. Their salads had sliced deli meats in the salad. Yummy, but not good for pregnant women.

She asked if I was on a special diet and I should have told her a simple yes, though I can't think of any special diet other than a pregnancy or vegetarian diet that would exclude deli meat from consumption. I told her the truth, that I am pregnant and that my doctor told me no uncooked deli meat. Big mistake! She then gave me the lecture, "I've had 4 kids and ate deli meat through all 4 pregnancies and all my babies turned out just fine! You can eat deli meat, you should eat deli meat, go on and eat deli meat..." Okay, so after "you can eat deli meat..." I just tuned out. I tried to say to her, "tell that to my friend that lost her baby at 5 months due to a deli sandwich." I tried to tell her that deli meat contains listeria, which pregnant women are very sensitive to, but she wasn't listening. I didn't want to argue, I just wanted a sandwich.

I quickly remembered that they surely could make me a BLT, so that's what I ordered. She tried further to convince me to risk that uncooked deli meat but I told her that a BLT is just fine because the bacon is cooked.

After that, Debbie and I had a really lovely time. We sat for hours and talked. Sometimes our conversation covered some pretty risque topics, which must have been really interesting to the girl sitting on the couch behind us, who was also there for hours. At one point the girl walked up to us and said, "excuse me..." as she looked at us imploringly. Debbie and I both thought she was going to politely ask us to move, shut up, or change our conversation topic to something less offensive. Instead she asked us to watch her stuff while she used the restroom.

A few hours after getting home I got to thinking about the cashier and thought it would be a terrible thing if she encouraged other pregnant women to risk their pregnancies by eating the deli meat. I know it's a rare thing to happen, but it still can cause a miscarriage and even if just one woman has a miscarriage due to bad advice, that's one too many for my liking. So I called the store and talked to the other Assistant Manager. I'm so glad it was her that answered the phone and not the one that helped me earlier in the day! I explained what had happened and I explained it very nicely. I wasn't very upset anymore, I was just concerned.

This woman, her name is Maricella, said she was very aware of the dangers that deli meats posed to pregnant women. She told me that she was pregnant herself and that her health care provider has warned her several times to avoid the deli meat unless it's heated. She was really surprised by my experience and was shocked that her collegue would advise a pregnant woman to ignore medical advice. She offerred me a free lunch, too, for my trouble. She was so sweet.

I asked her when she was due and how things were going (okay, so I got personal, but she was really very nice and I was sincere). She said she was due in June, but she's having problems. It turns out that her little boy's heart isn't developing as much as it should and that he will need surgery as soon as he's born. She said it was so hard when they told her this, not just because this is scary news, but because they gave her the option to abort and that was a big shock to her. She said she talked to her husband and she just didn't have the heart to terminate the pregnancy. She said she had to trust in the Lord and see what happens. She said she has a good feeling about it. I told her I would keep her and her little boy in my thoughts and prayers. If you pray, please try to think of her now and then. She was really sweet.

That's pretty much the only exciting thing to happen to me the last few days, which is nice. I like keeping the stress level low and calm. I'm really concerned about the RSD raising my anxiety levels. A doctor at Kaiser told me that I need to really watch my stress and anxiety levels, because stress and anxiety can actually be passed on to the babies, and they can be born with a predisposition to anxiety disorders. I want happy healthy calm babies. Doesn't everyone?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Poo, pee, and fart!

My mom's side of the family is large and loving. Everyone is so close, especially given the size. As I've mentioned in previous posts, my maternal grandmother was blessed with 9 children, 76 grandchildren, and 65+ (and growing) great-grandchildren. My Grandma Morrison was the matriarch of the family. Everyone loved and respected her greatly. As one of the eldest grandchildren, I spent a lot of time at her house and was quite close to her. She passed away about a year and a half ago and is dearly missed.

Grandma Morrison had her quirks. She was a very cute and sweet lady. One of her quirks, which was from growing up in the Great Depression, was that she hoarded things. At her house I still find things I thought I threw away at her house over 20 years ago. I think she took them back out of the garbage and kept them. This includes old bags with holes in the bottom and torn swimsuits. I once cleaned out her laundry room and recycled about 50 laundry detergent scoops. Her kitchen drawer held hundreds of garbage bag ties. That was my grandma and I loved her for it.

She was also very proper and prudish in some aspects. While she was a modern woman and didn't seem to judge others (she watched Jerry Springer, after all, and knew how modern society was), there were just some things we knew would not fly around her. One of them was alcohol. No one can blame her, really. First of all, she was Mormon and Mormons believe in the Word of Wisdom which tells us that the Lord wants us to take care of our bodies by not taking alcohol, drugs/caffeine, or smoke.

The biggest reason alcohol was taboo with her, though, is because she carried the sorrow of what happened to her brother. In her opinion, he drank himself to death. The story she told me was that he was sort of a drifter and he couldn't stay away from the bottle. Well, one night he befriended someone else at the bar and let this other person share his hotel room (another man and the room had 2 beds - come on, this was the 1940s or 50s). This other person absconded with her brother's luggage, which held his insulin. He died from complications of his diabetes that night. She believed that because of the alcohol he used poor judgment in inviting this other person into his room. The alcohol also messed up his blood-sugar levels, and made it difficult for him to wake up to take care of himself. The suitcase being missing also made it impossible for him to take care of himself or for anyone else to care for him. She was always so sad about this story and I know it would have broken her heart if any more of her loved ones succumbed to alcoholism.

So, those family members that did indulge in alcohol just learned to hide it from her. I'm sure she knew, though. Just the same, she never let it affect her love for everyone.

Another one of her quirks was language. Some words just offended her. As you can see, we all respected her and didn't want to offend her at any cost. So, we used the words that she accepted. Poo was a bad word. In fact, I was in kindergarten before I learned that word. In kindergarten I learned all sorts of lovely words never spoken by my family, like pee and fart. The Morrisons had replacement words for those lovelies, because with so many babies it was difficult to not mention these unmentionables.

Poo became "bunches." You can imagine how my cousins and I giggled at Christmastime when we'd sing "hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch." As a child I took a lot of the words to songs so literally. I really imagined a group of children squatting over crunchy snow with bare bottoms pushing out logs of poo. It got really funny when Kelloggs advertised their new cereal "Honey Bunches of Oats" and Fritos were advertising "Muncha Buncha Muncha Buncha Fritos go with lunch! Munch!"

Pee became "wets." That wasn't as funny as bunch. It was a common thing for a child to be asked if they had wets or bunches in their diaper. Oh wait, I mean "die-dee." The word "diaper" is verboten among the Morrisons, too.

Farts didn't have a global-family word replacement, rather different families came up with their own euphemisms. Our family called them "airs" where some of my cousins called them "busters" or "verts."

What reminded me of this recently was that I just broke the great news to my Grandpa Morrison on Easter. The phone was passed among the many family members that were at the house. I said to one of them, "we have good news!" She replied, "your expecting!" I know "expecting" is a very common term for pregnancy. It just reminded me, though, that among the Morrisons it's never "pregnant," always "expecting."

Most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins now use the more common terms and I think it's getting rarer for the children to be punished for saying poo, pee, or fart. I remember when my brother and I learned about the words poo and pee, we taught our cousin Celeste and the three of us giggled and giggled as we repeated our new dirty words. We got caught and were punished severely by being separated and placed in boring rooms for an hour or two so we could think about our filthy mouths.

Now those memories bring a smile to my face. I think it's cute and sweet how my grandmother gave us this unique experience. In some ways it kept us living in simpler times when the biggest of our worries was keeping the children from saying poo and pee. In a way, she gave us more of a childhood with that, because it added to our innocence.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Making progress!

My OB answered all of our questions to our satisfaction. Unfortunately, since we are with an HMO, it's looking like she might not be there for the delivery. They do a rotation system so I'll probably get whomever is available. They always have a perinatologist on call, though, and they are very used to delivering twins. She said the hospital we are going to be at is the one that the HMO refers all high risk cases to and all multiples.

She examined our ultrasound pictures and agreed that the sac sizes were something of concern and that they were looking much better in last week's ultrasound. She is ordering another ultrasound for sometime just after 14 weeks so we can check it out again and make sure everything is going well. She also did a quick ultrasound today and the babies are looking fantastic! They are so cute in there. :) The sac sizes are looking great, too!

I bought the stroller! It's a Peg Perego Duette Tandem. It's an older model so it doesn't have the fancy stearing wheel, but we couldn't affort the $700+ price tag. This used one was a bargain on Craigslist. It also works like the Snap-n-go in that the frame would take car seats, but as you read in my previous post, we are leaning toward getting convertible seats instead of infant seats. I just don't know what we'd do, though, if we travel, and we will travel.

I love this stroller. The seats convert to bassinets so the babies can lie down. They can also be put in in any direction, even facing each other.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nutrition and plans

I took the Kaiser Nutrition class this morning. I learned some interesting tidbits. For instance, I didn't know that vitamin C really helps the absorption of iron, so much so that the instructor recommended eating something with vitamin C at every meal and with every iron supplement. She said I'll probably be put on iron supplements soon due to twins.

I sure wish they could have given me better guidance on this as soon as we learned we had 2 babies brewing. I was clueless as to what foods I needed to increase and by how much. It's no wonder I suffered protein deficiency, which she said was rare in pregnancy, because I didn't realize I needed 5+ servings every day. Protein has been very difficult for me to tolerate as the foods seem so heavy and increase my nausea while it decreases my appetite. Thank goodness for Boost/Ensure!

She gave me a hand-out on nutrition when pregnant with multiples, which is handy. She also told me that she does private appointments for women with multiples and wanted me to ask my OB for a referral. That will go on my list for tomorrow. It's getting to be a puffickly huh-yooge list!

My list so far:
1. How will you treat this multiple pregnancy different from a singleton?
2. How often do you recommend I see a perinatologist?
3. We were told if the twin makes it to 14 weeks, we're pretty safe to assume he/she will make it to delivery. May we get an ultrasound just after 14 weeks? We really also want the sac sizes monitored closely.
4. May I have a referral to the nutritionist for a private appointment regarding nutrition for twins?
5. What might we expect and should we be prepared for in terms of this pregnancy, especially given my age and that it's twins?
6. We know twins come early. When should we be prepared for delivery to occur?
7. When should we take the childbirth classes and infant care classes?
8. What help can we get for learning hypnobirthing techniques?
9. Are you okay with us trying to do things as natural as possible?
10. What is the NICU like in our hospital?
11. Will a perinatologist be available at our delivery?
12. Will I have a choice of anesthesiologists?
13. Would I be allowed to try to deliver without an epidural?
14. Would I be allowed to try to deliver in a birthing room or are all multiple births handled in the operating room?
15. What exercises may I do?
16. What exercises should I do?

I can't think of anything else for now.

After being inspired by the nutrition class I went grocery shopping. I did really well for the most part. I bought some spinach, some egg-free salad dressing, mixed nuts, Carnation Instant Breakfast, organic milk with DHA, eggs with DHA, cookies (I know they are bad but I love cookies), organic yogurt, bananas, strawberries, and the usual other stuff.

I'm going to look at, and probably buy, a tandem stroller tomorrow. Dave and I have been looking at this same model online but we just can't afford it new. The new verson is about $700. This used one is $150. We can probably resell it for about the same price after we get some use out of it. I tried to find a picture but for some reason it's difficult to find now. I'll post a photo if/when I get it. The really neat thing about this stroller is that it has bassinets for the babies for when they are infants and then seats for when they are bigger.

We're also looking into a Snap-n-Go stroller, but the issue with that is the car seats it uses. I have difficulty lifting many car seats Dave and I tested at Baby Detpot so we're looking at getting some more sturdy ones that just stay in the car and work for babies from infancy to the toddler years. I know it's handy for most people to be able to take the baby out of the car in the car seat without disturbing the baby. I need both arms just to lift one baby in a car seat. It would be too difficult to attempt to lift 2 babies in 2 car seats, especially since I have a 5 pound limit with my knackered right arm.

We may get the bigger more permanent car seats to stay in the car and then get some inexpensive infant ones for traveling, for use in the other car, and for my mom to use if she ever takes the babies. I have some questions about the Snap-n-go and I'm hoping to find someone that can answer them. The problem with looking at everything online is that there is no customer service representative available to help. The problem with looking in the stores is that there is usually no customer service representative available to help. ;)

For carrying the babies around, I'm going to try to use a sling. There are many that work with twins. We also want to use cloth diapers. We'll probably use Tiny Tots diaper service, at least for the first several months. Cloth diapering will be cheaper, better for the environment, and better for baby bottoms.

As you can see, we've been giving this a lot of thought already.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy April Fool's Day!

Dave and I chose today to tell the masses about the pregnancy. Sadly, I wish we were ready to tell everyone about the twins. Still, it was fun to send the e-mail out to everyone in the address book. My uncle wrote back asking if it was an April Fool's joke. I bet some others thought the same but were waiting for me to send another e-mail to say it was just a joke. Heheheee.

It would have been soooo much better if we could have said it was twins, but we'll have to wait another couple of weeks. That's when Engracia at the infertility clinic said the true test would be for the twins. She said if we can make it to 14 weeks then it would be pretty safe to say - and tell the masses - that we are actually having twins. I sure hope my OB will give me an ultrasound right after 14 weeks to make sure twin-B is in good shape, otherwise that announcement will have to wait until the ultrasound on May 6th. I know it's just over a month from now but it seems like forever to wait.

I have my first official OB prenatal appointment Thursday when she'll do all the important things - the full workup. I have a huge list of questions for her. Oh boy.

I have a nutrition class tomorrow at Kaiser. It's about 2 months too late, but it will still help.

I wanted to say a big thank you to Karen and Dede for all the nice maternity clothes! I have a full wardrobe to cover me through the rest of the pregnancy! :) Karen came over last week and took some pictures of my belly, which has started to grow!

Okay, so for the most part it looks like I have a pretty healthy beer gut but just you wait!!!

Yesterday a woman from the ward came over and gave me a great deep-tissue massage! Okay, she is a massage therapist and she charged me for it, but she gave me a good deal and did a great job. I really needed it! Sadly, when you really need a massage like that, it means you have lots of knots, scar tissue, and other tightness that needs rubbing out and that doesn't feel so good at first. I'm a little sore, but on the plus side my arm is feeling much much better! Without acupuncture my arm has gotten painful. I'm supposed to get it rubbed out regularly - proper deep tissue massage in the shoulder and upper arm, but it hurts like buggery and it's hard to get someone to do it for me since I cry and sometimes scream. Kelly didn't mind since she knew how helpful it would be to me.

The nausea is getting a lot better, but now I have regular palpitations. For the most part I don't mind them, they kind of tickle, but sometimes they hurt my head and make me feel ill. Don't worry, I saw a doctor about it and it's partly just me (I've had mild palpitations my whole life from time to time) and the severity is due to the increasing blood flow due to the twins. She assured me that it wouldn't affect the pregnancy, it will just make me feel crappy. There is nothing I can do about it for the most part. Drinking more water helps, but mainly I'm supposed to rest some more.

A lot of people e-mailed back to congratulate us on the pregnancy. I did get one comment to warn us that our lives will change once we have kids. Really? We had no idea! I wonder how old a person has to be before they stop getting told that kids will change their lives. We got this warning when we were ttc and asked a lot if we were sure about this, now I'm sure we'll get that line many more times over the next few months.

We know our lives will change and we're looking forward to it. We've given this a lot of thought (you'd have to when you go through such great lengths to get pregnant) and we are continuing to give it a lot of thought. We know things won't quite be the same for us, but how long do you continue with the same?

We've wanted this for so long. Childbearing is part of most people's lives and it's widely accepted that it's a change that many people welcome. We can't wait! And yes, we also know that no matter how much you prepare or know that things will change, it still isn't enough when the day actually comes and that you don't truly know how life changes until it happens. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The thing is, I know they mean well, but when I get told that I wonder if these people think I'm unfit for parenthood. I'm sure that's not what they mean, they're just trying to make conversation. It's just that after years of dealing with infertility, there are sore spots and scars and I know that it's difficult for many people to understand that.

I wonder if for the first several years people will ask us "how's parenthood?" or "how's family life?" just like for the first years of our marriage people had to ask "how's married life?" Please smack me if I ever ask such uncreative and somewhat insulting questions. Please also smack me if I ever make insensitive comments to people without children like "are you sure you want kids?" or "they'll change your life" or "just wait until you have kids" or "when you have children..." Ugh.

Again, I'm sure people mean well and are just making conversation. They just don't realize how condescending it is. Sorry, I got a little away from my point and went too far into some pet peeves. Hehe. Oops.

Happy April Fool's Day!