Friday, June 20, 2008

Ut oh!

I'm still marvelling at the audacity of that sales guy. I have a very serious concern about him. We invited him into our home. Sure, we kicked him out and he left, but...

in vampire lore, all you have to do is invite the vampire into your home and he forever has access to your home and to your blood.

Should I put garlic around our doors and windows and wear a garlic necklace? I don't really put much store in crosses, as I am Mormon and we don't do the whole cross or icon thing, but should I get one and wear it and put some around my house?

Dang it! I forgot to check for his reflection in the mirror. There is that site I linked to that has a photograph of him, so maybe he's not a vampire since I read that vampires don't photograph... but that was with film. Now that we have digital photography does that mean we can capture a vampire in pictures?

I'm really confused, though, since there are many schools of thought on this subject. Some believe vampires can be seen in mirrors and photos and others think their images cannot be captured. What if this guy comes back for blood?

He seems more like the Renfield type, though. He's not a master but a slave and I don't think minions or slaves take human blood, rather, they need to take the blood of lesser creatures like themselves (rats, mainly).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ugh! Salesmen!

In my last post I mentioned all of the house projects we have yet to finish. That was the short list, but it pretty much covers most of what we need to do inside our home. We've focused most of our efforts on our outside so it's mostly done, but some of our fences are in dire need of attention.

While inside our house it's the kitchen that needs the attention, outside our front fence is looking very sad and neglected. Our side and back fence also needs some TLC, but our front fence has become the current priority. It is about 4' high on a small bit of red brick. It's a wooden picket-style fence and is crudely painted battle-ship grey just like our house. We want to have our exterior of our house painted soon, the battle-ship grey is just not our style.

So this fence is quite rickety and full of holes from a beetle infestation about 10-15 years ago. When I say "crudely painted," I mean just that. I was obviously spray painted in a quick rush in an effort to put on a cheap face-lift before we bought the house. We cut back the plants that were doing poorly and found that there is no paint on the fence where those plants once grew large (or looked largely dead).

We got a good deal on the house knowing full well it needed work, so that's not the issue. It's that it's taking us a long time to get it all done.

We've had several contractors give us quotes on the fence and many of the quotes were reasonable, but we weren't very happy with what they wanted to do. One guy wouldn't build the fence unless we let him demolish and take away all the brick, for a hefty fee. Over the years Dave and I have come up with a pretty good idea of what we wanted, it's just trying to find the time to do it or find the right people to hire.

A couple of months ago two men came to the front door. They looked like Mormons, and I thought they were from the Church just coming to say hello (that happens from time to time, as I am Mormon). It turns out they were from a new contracting firm from Sacramento (Quality First Home Improvement) that just started branching out to do work in San Jose. They said they were doing work on our neighbor's house up the street and asked if we had any work they might be able to do. I mentioned the fence and they took my number promising to call. I told them they would have to call after 7pm or on weekends so they could talk to Dave since Dave would be making the financial decision regarding this job. They tried to get me to agree to have them look around our whole house to give us quotes on other projects (like painting the house, which I mentioned we needed done) and I said no, that we would start with the fence. They took awhile to leave, so long that my neighbor across the street called to ask if I was okay and if I needed help getting rid of them. He thought they were J-dubs (Jehovah's Witnesses).

A little over a month went by and we never heard from them. I started getting concerned that they were pulling some sort of scam and were trying to get information from me for who knows what purpose. Eventually we got a call and I made an appointment for them to come and give us a quote. Dave left work early to make that appointment and we canceled other plans to be here. Nobody came, nobody called. We wrote them off. Two weeks later they called again and pretended that they never spoke with me or missed that appointment. Being the peaceful type, I pretended not to be annoyed and decided to give them another chance. I made another appointment, and that appointment was kept by a man we'll call FJ (in an effort to protect the innocent who may share the same name). He was nice enough and seemed interested in knowing what we wanted. He also recommended that I attend a church he and his wife found because another couple or two at his church recently had twins. I have a church, thanks. There are twins at my church, too.

Another week or two pass and in the meantime the main office of this construction firm calls again, several times actually, and seemed to fail to know that FJ had already been out here. I told them that we were just waiting for the numbers. I told them that I did have a message on our machine from the night before from FJ saying he had worked through the numbers for us and had some photos for us. We made another appointment for FJ to call and give us a quote. Again, Dave came home from work early and we waited and waited. Again, nobody came and nobody called. Not long after that, FJ called again and wanted to come out later that week. I didn't want to tell him we'd be in Mexico, I just said it wasn't a good time and that we would see him the following week.

The following week at about 5pm (him knowing full-well that Dave doesn't come home until around 7) FJ called and left another message for Dave. It said, "I've got some pictures put together for you... give me a buzz when you get this... I had this stuff last week but your wife thought it would be better to meet this week and I have some time this evening so I thought maybe I'd swing by..." The way he said, "but your wife" irritated me. It just seemed to imply that I was standing in the way between Dave and this guy. Dave happened to be out of town again for a business trip but I told Dave to call him as soon as he got home. Dave didn't. Oh well.

So, nearly every day for the last 2 weeks Quality First has been calling us about 3-5 times each day. Dave spoke to them once and said he wanted to make an appointment and they promised to call back with a date, but they called back and seemed to forget that we were waiting for that appointment. Sometimes I would answer the phone, but I always told them that they had to call after 7 to reach Dave. Sometimes I would answer the phone and the person on the other end was too busy in a conversation with his coworker to notice that I had picked up and was saying hello. After awhile, I got so sick of them I let the calls go through to the machine, but they never left messages. They called in the afternoon, mainly, and disturbed many naps - naps that I really needed, or disturbed my contraction counting.

The other day I answered and it was actually the manager, or so he said. So, I told him very calmly about the 2 appointments that had been missed already and about the incessant phone calls. I informed him that I was pregnant with twins and under strict doctor's orders to rest up and that those many phone calls were disturbing me. I told him, still very calmly, that I don't mind the occasional phone call, but it would serve his company well to leave messages when they got the machine instead of hanging up and calling back several times. I also reminded him that Dave is the one they need to talk to and that they'd never reach him before 7pm (I was not about to give these guys his work or cell number). He apologized and said that he would make an appointment that would definitely be kept. I decided to give them, yet, another chance so I made that appointment and it was for last night.

Dave came home early and I started dinner. FJ came on time and brought a younger colleague. It seemed like he was showing the younger man the "ropes" in this company and sort of showing off, as well. We invited them in and the younger man was very nice and cordial, but FJ was loud and invasive, though also nice. I went back into the kitchen to tend to dinner while I overheard the two men giving Dave a very boring 20-minute spiel about why we should hire Quality First. This set my guard up, just as I'm sure it did with Dave. We don't like the hard-sell approach and that's what it sounded like we were about to get. I went and sat with them and looked at some pictures. FJ seemed to ignore my request for a simple lattice-style fence and instead wanted to focus on a very nice custom fence. Dave pointed out another fence that I rejected because of the 3" gaps between slats. FJ tried to put words in my mouth saying I wanted privacy. I tried to correct him, but I couldn't get a word in edgewise. I did mention that the custom fence would give us better protection from our next-door neighbor's pests (they don't tend to their garden) and would also probably look better along that edge, since we were considering putting the same type of a fence in the section separating our properties.

FJ then gave us a verbal quote for the custom fence, verbally adding up the figures for each element, leading us to a total of approximately $8,500 for a small fence. We had our side fence redone a few years ago for under $2,000 and it was a much bigger project. Dave balked at it and told him we'd go no higher than $2,500. So FJ said he'd sell us a simple fence for $2,500. I tried to say that if we were going to change our design intentions then we'd need to shop around before making a decision, and keeping to form, FJ cut me off. I asked how much a simple lattice fence would be. He said I didn't want a lattice fence because I said I didn't want to see the neighbors (I never said that). I told him that all along I wanted a lattice fence and that was the style we requested a quote for some weeks back the first time he came over.

He turned back to Dave and ignored me again, trying to get Dave to commit to paying $2,500 for a plain fence. Dave told him we were making no decisions tonight. FJ complained that he had more important clients he could be with and that he made 2 special trips to see us (plus one trip he made unbeknownst to us to come over and take measurements while we weren't home - I didn't like that at all). Dave said to him that if he didn't want to wait for us to make a decision then he could leave right now, that we were through. FJ tried to get Dave to reconsider and reconcile and hopefully listen to his offer. Dave agreed to listen to his offer. FJ offered to do the custom fence for $3,700 if we agreed to it right then and there. Dave again tried to explain that we weren't going to agree to anything under pressure or at the spur of the moment, that we needed time to think it over. FJ again complained that he was taking precious time to meet with us and that he'd not give us that offer again nor make another trip to see us.

I asked if I could say something and FJ so generously obliged me, for about thirty seconds. I tried to explain that while he was telling us his time is valuable, and he so eagerly and loudly agreed, I said that so was ours and that we had made... he interrupted me and didn't listen to me explain how we had made 2 appointments that weren't kept. I complained about the incessant phone calls and he said he only called us once (I know he called us 2-3 times personally, which he denied). I tried to show him the amount of Quality First calls on our caller ID but he seemed to be of the impression that his actions and Quality First's actions were independent. Fair enough, but isn't he a representative of Quality First? If he is with Quality First, then FJ should be culpable for their faults, just as they are culpable for FJ's faults.

FJ refused to listen to me and instead argued with me. I lost it. I had remained calm up until that point but I can't stand it when people use interruption as a method of argument and won't be reasonable. He was not worth it. I stood up, pointed at the door and shouted, "Get out! Now! Leave!" The looks on Dave's, FJ, and young guy's faces were not to be missed. It was funny. FJ got his stuff together so fast I couldn't believe it. On his way out the door he said something about "the twins" and "a couple of screamers there" and Dave and I are being kind by thinking he said, "good luck with the twins" (I said thanks!). Dave says the screamers comment was about us, but I suspect he may have wished for our babies to be screamers. I don't know and I don't care. I was just glad he left.

The young guy with him looked so astonished. Dave and I guessed that the young guy was there to watch FJ pull some magic sales techniques. I just felt like I was dealing with an Amway salesman and those techniques don't work on Dave or me.

After they left Dave and I hugged and laughed and I felt surprisingly calm.

House projects

We've lived in our house for about 5 years. Whenever the weather starts to get nice each year, Dave and I seem to forget about our indoor projects in favor of our outdoor projects. We've spent far more time and money on our yard then we have on the house itself. The first thing we did when we bought the house was refinish the hard-wood floors, so that's an exception, but the second big thing we did (aside from painting rooms) was to have our swimming pool fixed up. It was nasty. It was meant to be white but it was so blackened by black algae that it was just gross. We had to have it chiseled to the rebar and then resurfaced and tiled. We both love the way it looks now and haven't regretted making the pool our first big priority.

Our kitchen, on the other hand, is still nasty. It has the original counter tops and oven. While the oven is sort of a fun novelty from 195-, the counters are embarrassing. They are turquoise faux-wood grain with stains here and there. We have approximately 14 square feet of counter space (and I'm being generous in my assessment) partly taken up by the toaster and toaster oven. The cupboards are a wreck. Some of them were brutally sawed in half and a plank put on the bottom to make room for a suspended microwave oven (which is, actually, quite nice). At some point someone put wood paneling on the cupboard fronts and painted over them, but failed to sand the sides so some of the cupboards don't quite shut well. The handles are a cheap plastic and are breaking off but are difficult to replace since they are an odd size and other handles don't quite fit the 2 holes. The cupboard fronts are painted ivory and the cabinets are painted a brownish dark nicotine color. We have a tile cockerel on the wall directly under the microwave. We don't have much cupboard space so we don't have many kitchen appliances - there is just no room. Needless to say we don't cook much and when we do, we make foods that are easy to prepare. We eat "bags" a couple of times a week. These bags are the Bertoli prepared meals that are like stir-fries or pasta dishes that are all put together and just require about 10 minutes on a skillet. We also have 1-2 real meals a week consisting of fish or chicken with vegetables and potatoes.

The walls in our kitchen are covered in a faux brick veneer. Dave pulled it off in one spot by the phone to reveal a few layers of nasty wallpaper. Dave also tore out the tiles that went into the hallway so we could get the wooden floors in the hall by the kitchen door. Unfortunately, that has led to over 5 years of a 3" strip of particle-board sub-floor where the kitchen meets that hallway before it hits the tile.

There was an add-on room that someone built in the 1970s. It has a permit and everything but it was done very strangely. On one of the walls stood a large cement block that was apparently meant to be an indoor barbecue grill. When we had the back yard repaved we tore that block down and with it came the wall. Dave and his mates repaired it and the room is soooo much better now. I'm so proud of them and the work they did. However, it took 2 years before the work got started (once it was started they were done in a month) and another year before the interior was finished, which was last summer. Dave and I painted it (I recall painting while doubled over from OHSS) at the end of the summer. Dave still has to finish the fireplace and build a stair from the living room to that room before it will be finished. I wonder if it will be done before the babies come. I doubt it. All of our weekends but one are completely booked until mid-August and Dave also has friends clamoring for help with their house projects - and they are the friends who helped so much with the room so it's tough to say no.

We have redone one complete bathroom but also haven't finished that, yet. The paint needs touching up, the baseboards need caulking, and the baseboards and door need painting. Oh, and the door requires a doorknob. We also want to repaint our main bathroom. We are going to repaint the babies' room, too.

We have sooooooooo much work to so and sooooooo little time.

Things I really want to remember

This is another pregnancy post. It might sound like complaints, but it isn't meant to be. I just am experiencing so much that I want to document everything that I can about this. I don't want to forget any of it, the good nor the bad. Most of these things are covered earlier here, but it is my way to write long posts to put it all together. Forgive me. ;)

In some ways I think this has been a relatively easy pregnancy, given my age and the twin thing. In others, I think it has been difficult, partly because it feels difficult and partly because others have told me that some of my experiences are on the more "difficult" end of pregnancy symptoms. As I've mentioned before, I am more concerned about certain discomforts rather than put off by them. I want so badly for everything to end well with 2 healthy babies. Since this is my first pregnancy, I have nothing to base my experiences on for reference. Since this is a twin pregnancy, most of the reading materials about pregnancy aren't quite relevant since most everything is based on singleton pregnancies. I've looked at a couple of books on multiples at the library but have found them to be a bit daunting since they often cover the many scary aspects of a multiple pregnancy - and I'd rather focus on the positive and not worry so much.

I still have a few months to go (I hope) so I know that there are many more symptoms to come. Over the last two weeks I've felt more and more all of the things that many feel in the third trimester, mainly fatigue and an inability to eat much. I feel like I didn't have much of the 2nd trimester bliss many people talk about. The first trimester symptoms stayed a bit late into the 2nd trimester and the physical symptoms of the third trimester started about a month ago.

In the first trimester I didn't throw up once and was very pleased about that. However, we did have the amniotic sac issues with the babies and that was our biggest concern. It turns out that this was likely caused by a protein deficiency, though they still haven't 100% ruled out that the babies could be monochorionic (sharing the placenta). I had a really hard time eating protein-rich foods. Fluids and fruits were great, but "heavy" foods were tough. By heavy, I mean foods that took some effort to chew and digest. I was losing weight until I started on the Boost and Ensure high protein drinks. They really helped in so many ways! I also put in a lot of time doing left-side resting in an effort to get better flow to the uterus for the babies. It all helped a lot. I felt better and the amniotic sac sizes balanced out. To this day both babies are measuring very close to each other. I should also mention that I asked my Bishop for a special blessing for the babies.

Also in the first trimester, I was super tired. I know sleepiness is a common symptom in pregnancy. This was to the extreme. I couldn't go more than 3-4 hours without a 2-hour nap. I was tired and had absolutely no appetite. It didn't bother me so much as concern me about the babies. I was concerned that I wasn't getting enough nutrients for them. I was also concerned that the excess fatigue would make me unhealthy and unfit to carry the babies for as long as necessary. I did whatever I could to force myself to eat and to move around. This tiredness was welcome, however, as opposed to the severe insomnia I had until I was about 8 weeks pregnant. It was night and day (pun intended).

I think that was pretty much it for the first trimester. I never felt like I suffered much from moodiness or hormonal issues. Dave also thought I was doing pretty well, all things considered. I felt very happy and blissful most of the time and very little bothered me.

Somewhere around 10 weeks, however, I started having severe palpitations. My heart would flutter and then pound. The flutter made me feel nauseated and the following pound would give me a throbbing headache. When it happened frequently (every 4-6 beats) I felt as if there was nothing I could do but lie down. There were no fast beats, just the flutter-pause-pound, flutter-pause-pound. I've had this before, usually in the summer with intense heat, so it wasn't a new sensation, but it was getting more and more frequent and again, I was concerned about the babies. After several weeks of it my OB referred me to see a cardiologist. The cardiologist diagnosed it as "compensatory beats," which I think is another way of saying premature ventricular contractions (PVC), which are relatively harmless but can make one feel like crap. Essentially, what was happening was my heart was giving me some extra beats. The extra beat was the flutter, and it occurred too quickly after a regular beat for my heart to fully fill with blood so it would pump just about 70% of a normal pump, then it would pause to try to fill up again better, but on that one it would fill up too much. That was the pause. After the pause it would pump more than the usual amount of blood, which is what gave me the "thump" sensation and my brain would suffer slightly from the brief pause, which is what caused the headache and dizziness. He said I could take some beta blockers, which could help, or I could just put up with it. I chose to just put up with it.

The palpitations got a lot better a couple of weeks ago. I still get nosebleeds, though. Yes, nosebleeds. Nosebleeds are also common in pregnancy so they don't really concern me. I get a few a week, usually when I sleep. The palpitations and nosebleeds are apparently caused by the increased blood flow. I read somewhere that by now with a twin pregnancy, my blood flow would have doubled from my prepregnancy levels. I can feel my heartbeat really easily just by touching many places on my body. If I tilt my head slightly to the right I can hear my heart pounding.

The contractions started a little before I hit the 16-week mark. At first I didn't know what they were, they just felt funny. It wasn't until I touched my stomach during that odd sensation and discovered that it felt like a rock. After several more, I was convinced they were Braxton-Hicks contractions. I wasn't very concerned about them, since I knew that Braxton-Hicks were common and often harmless. I was a little concerned at how early and how frequent I was getting them. Again, most of my information comes from what I've learned of singleton pregnancies, so I figured that with twins they would start a lot earlier. I mentioned it to my OB and she assured me that I would get a lot of them. My OB tries really hard to keep my concerns and worries down and I love her for that. She did, however, keep tabs on the situation should it get worse.

I mentioned the contractions the next time I went to Perinatology for an ultrasound. This was at 19 weeks. They were concerned because they said it was early for them and that it sounded like I was getting more than I should. I was advised of how to palpate my uterus to feel for how long they last and how often they come. I was told not to worry about them unless I got more than 6 per hour. I was also told that when I did get them frequently that I needed to keep my bladder empty, rest, elevate my feet, and drink fluids. I followed this advice whenever I started getting 6-8 per hour and it would bring them down to 3-4 per hour.

Last week I learned that they don't want me calling them Braxton-Hicks contractions because BH implies that they are harmless. The ones I've been getting, while they aren't labor contractions and most women would consider them to be BH, they can actually be cause for concern. They told me that if the contractions last longer than about 35 seconds (most of mine last 1-2 minutes), that they can actually cause cervical dilation and lead to premature labor. They put me on their weekly monitoring system a little bit early. I am now supposed to spend one hour twice per day counting contractions. To count contractions I am to spend an hour drinking a few glasses of water and getting well hydrated, then empty my bladder, lie down, and start feeling for contractions. This is done by just lying down with my hands on my stomach and keeping track of every contraction, how long they last and how frequent they occur. Each Monday a nurse calls me and asks me for my contraction counts of each day and makes sure I'm feeling a lot of baby movement.

I also started following the restrictions they set for me (listed a few posts ago). Well, I've followed them a lot with a few exceptions (like today when I made a big trip to the store, brought in all the groceries and then proceeded to fully clean out the fridge and freezer before putting them all away - I think my nesting instinct is kicking in), or day-before-yesterday when I drove 2 hours to mom's to get some belly shots taken, then got stuck in traffic on the way home so it took about 3 hours. Since taking it a lot easier I have noticed my contraction counts go from 6 an hour down to 3-4 an hour. I even had one hour today where I only had one contraction - amazing!

I now have a bladder the size of a walnut. Not so bad in the day but difficult at night since I'm still not waking up from a full bladder. I wake up about 3 times a night due to sciatic pain more than anything, which a nurse at Kaiser suspects is the full bladder pushing the uterus to put pressure on my sciatic nerve. After I get up to walk off the pain I realize I have to go potty. Once the pressure is relieved the leg pain is gone, too, so I think the nurse is probably right.

I've become quite an airhead lately. Dave and I have joked that my brain cells have now gone to the babies and we worry that I'll never get them back. I hope they're smart babies to compensate for my loss of brain power, hehe.

My belly grows in spurts and when I get a spurt my back aches, my belly feels like I've done a ton of situps, and I feel generally wiped out. The belly pain was almost constant until about 18 weeks, now it comes a few days per week. I'm now getting the looks and comments as if I am going to deliver soon, so I guess I'm getting pretty big. I've gotten used to it by now, though, and Dave reminds me of just how huge I've grown. How nice of him, hehe. ;) Well, there is much more growing to do!

That's mostly it, but the documenting of symptoms wouldn't be complete without mentioning the most amazing one of all, baby movement. I've felt it for a few months now and it gets stronger each day and more frequent. I love it. I think it's funny when I have the laptop close to my belly and a baby kicks and pushes it a little bit away. Tempest loves to lay on my rounded belly. I wonder what he'll think of the kicks, especially when they get stronger. One morning in Mexico I felt something strange on my side so I put my hands on it and it was a rounded lump. Dave felt it, too, and we think it was Hose-B/Tope's bum or head. It's amazing and I love it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrity gossip

Sometimes I feel really out of it. Today it was because I saw a forum post about Jessica Alba's new baby. Okay, I have to admit it, I don't know who the heck Jessica Alba is and for the most part, I really don't give a crap. I've heard the name before and I know she's a celebrity, but she's obviously not a celeb for any reason I would like her. Okay, just for the sake of this post I'm going to go Google the name. Now I know! She's an actress and I wasn't really familiar with her because based on her IMDB page, she hasn't been in anything I've really seen, watched, or cared to see or watch.

There are a number of celebs like that. I hear about them, recognize the name, but don't know what they do or why they are famous. Of course, there are some people who are famous simply for being famous or for looking good (um, Paris and Nicki Hilton come to mind). There are also people who are famous because they were on a reality tv show. I don't watch much reality tv because I find it really boring. My real life is so much more interesting than the lives of the people on those shows. I admit to occasionally getting into Survivor, but even that thrill has dissipated over the years. One such show I really cannot stand is American Idol. I have tried to watch it once or twice but can't get more than about 3 minutes into it (or more than about 30-45 seconds once someone starts singing). It's filled with over-singing egotists and I can't stand to allow that kind of singing to penetrate my sensitive eardrums.

With those shows come a bunch of new celeb names every year that are spoken on television, radio, and by people everywhere. They make the headlines of the trash-sheets found at the grocery store check stands. More and more names of people that if I Googled them, I would find out that they are probably famous for things that are of no interest to me. I know I hear some of them singing on the radio from time to time, but only if I'm unable to change the station to something better. Some of them make the brain-dead music that can turn brains to mush.

As for the stories in the trash-sheets, I'm simply not interested. Somehow I recently got on some list that got me a free subscription to US Magazine. I hope I never get billed for this bollocks. For now, rather than throw it immediately into the recycling bin, I cut my name and address off the front page and sneak the magazines into the OB clinic waiting room, where I assume that there might be someone at some point sitting in there that actually gives a damn about the goings on of these people who live in that other world, the world of egos and schmoozing.

I can honestly say that I am not part of that society that pays for this kind of "gossip" or information. I am not responsible for the paparazzi that contributed to Princess Diana's death or have made countless lives of stars more difficult. Yes, by being public figures there is a certain amount of attention they can and should expect, but it's really gone too far.

In this forum post, people are discussing the way Jessica Alba recently gave birth. Does it really matter? I've heard and seen other discussions about very private matters of celebrities from what they drank at a party to how they conceived their babies. If a celeb gets pregnant with twins everyone wants to know if there were fertility treatments involved. They usually don't want to know about the fertility treatments because it might actually open some minds and spread awareness. No, people want to judge. They want to know why the celeb used fertility treatments and often they make comments on how that celeb probably shouldn't have done it (too old, too many kids, too busy, etc.). Like it's anyone's business anyway.

I can understand being interested in the glitz. I, for one, love to see some of the clothes they wear to the award shows, though I can't stand watching the shows. What I've noticed, however, is that for the most part it seems that people just want to judge the celebs harshly. Sure, the celebs might actually deserve some of the harsh judgments, I mean, they aren't all exactly living very cleanly or acting as good role models. However, if we judge them for what they do, then we also judge society, our friends, neighbors, and family members.

I have issues with such harsh judgments. When we make such judgments it's often done without knowing the full story and how can you know the full story unless you were there, actually walking in that person's shoes? We all know that the media is not exactly accurate in reporting, but if it suits us we tend to overlook that in favor of what is more fun and interesting for us to believe. I remember many times in my life other people have incorrectly judged me and when I confronted them about it, I learned they got their information from not so reputable sources, though they seemed to know more about my own situation than I knew myself, though their information was completely inaccurate - they just believed what they wanted to believe rather than believe in the truth.

I guess the thing is, I see celebs as people, real people. They live in an entirely different world than I live in, but while I've occasionally lived on the edge of that world, I don't want to immerse myself in it. I know people who live in that world and I notice that they are indeed interested in living in that world and chose that lifestyle. They relish it and thrive. I just can't be pulled in. It's not my place, it's not my world, it's not my thing, baby.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nicknames

Dave and I have had difficulty trying to choose names for our boys. It's a huge decision and we also have outside pressure to name them after various family members. Mostly, we just want the names to be right and we don't really know our little guys very well, yet.

I was 3-years-old when I was legally named. In the hospital my mother was pressured to give me a legal name. My mom said, "I can't. I don't know who she is, yet." Somehow my parents got away with it and for over 3 years my birth certificate reflected just "Unnamed Baby Girl" as my name. They always knew they wanted my first name to be Elisabeth and I was called "Lizzy" for as long as I can remember. I guess that's why I associate myself to be "Elisabeth" or "Lizzy" and why the name "Liz" seems to irk me so. I also had various nicknames and by the age of 5, after traveling for a long time through Central and South America(s) and acquiring even more nicknames in both Spanish and English, I thought my full name had a duper huge length to it since I just added every nickname to the list. I didn't see the significance of a time I remembered quite well when at the age of 3 my mother sat me on the guestroom bed and gave me the options I had for my full name and actually let me choose my legal name. It was still long, but not nearly as long as I eventually thought it to be.

The solution was that my parents gave me a strange kind of first name. One of my (sort of) middle names is actually written as part of my first name only in parenthesis as if it were a replacement for my first name or as if the two names could be used interchangeably. Yes, confusing. I would give my full name to you all here, but for security reasons I'm sure you can all understand my reticence.

When I was baptised at the age of 8, my father performed the baptism. I was well coached in how it would all work out and I plugged my nose as I was dunked under water, just as I was told (even though I knew how to swim quite well and thought the nose plugging was silly - I just did as I was told). Everyone said I did a great job as I was taken to the dressing room to dry off and change back into my regular clothes. You can imagine my confusion when I was told I needed to get baptised all over again. I didn't understand why and thought I had done something wrong. My father didn't seem to want me to know that I had to get baptised again because my father said my name in the wrong order.

Every night Dave and I give the babies a new nickname. The nicknames are sometimes made up or they might come from cartoon characters. We're running out of nicknames now that it has been several months. While we were in Puerto Vallarta I asked Dave if we could come up with some more permanent nicknames to use until we could come up with their real names. I was starting to have some bonding issues by referring to them as "twin-a" and "twin-b." After several suggestions we settled on "Bump" for twin-a and "Tope" for twin-b (pronounced Toe-pay). Mexico is home to biggest mountainous speed bumps you would ever see and many of them have signs to warn the driver of them - labeling these speed bumps "Tope." So, "Bump" is for speed bump and "Tope" is the Mexican version. We were in Mexico, after all.

We still refer to the babies and Bump and Tope on occasion, but we came up with another set of nicknames that we also use. Keeping with the Mexican theme, we started calling them "José" and "Hose-B" (or that would be Jos-bi if I spelled it in Spanish).

To hopefully save our boys from any confusion or identity crises when they are older, or at least reduce the chances of any, we are determined to come up with their names before they leave the hospital. It only took us about 10 days to name Tempest, but he sort of named himself. We tried out a huge list of names and it was by chance that Dave said the word "tempest" and our kitty perked up, said "meow" and ran to him. We realized that Tempest must have been his name and we just had to pull it out of the air (or out of something else). He has always come to this name and it fits his personality very well. I just hope naming the boys works just as well.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I really don't mind

It's been years since I've had a real Chalupa from Taco Bell (aka: Taco Smell, Taco Hell, etc.). We live near Del Taco and they have the Big Fat Taco that is similar to a Chalupa, but not quite as greasy so not quite as disgustingly delicious. So, I went to the closet Taco Bell yesterday to indulge in a Chalupa or two. This particular Taco Bell has no drive-thru so I went inside to collect the order. While I waited I noticed a guy staring at my belly. I'm getting a little used to the staring and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. Maybe it's another IVF side-effect. I'm so happy and proud to be pregnant, I sometimes feel like announcing it to the world. Finally, he gets up a little courage (or maybe a lot) and says, "it looks like you're about ready to give birth." I said, "hopefully not for another 4 months." He said, "Wow! What, have you got two in there?" "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do!" I replied while smiling.

I know some women are really sensitive about their belly growth and maybe I will be at some point. For now I'm still super excited and happy. Dave and I spent the first 3 months being nervous and afraid of anything going wrong. We're still nervous and afraid, but feeling more secure by the week. Another 2 weeks and the babies may be viable outside the womb (although it would still be super risky).

This guy was funny. He said that it was a good thing I wasn't a small woman or it would be really hard on me to get as big as I'm likely to get. Then he realized how that sounded and he tried to correct it, but I think I know what he meant. No, I'm not a small-framed tiny lass, but I wasn't overweight when I got pregnant and the weight gain so far is going pretty well - not too much and not too little (it was too little for awhile, but I've caught up to where I should be).

I was actually pleased by his comments and thought he was funny. It was a little amusement to an otherwise boring day.

Ooooh Mexico!

Yes, I have the guts to still wear a bikini. It was a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, after all. It was lovely! We really didn't do much, though, just sit around the pool or beach, mostly. We stayed in the Marriott near the marina so we walked over to the marina every night to try various restaurants out for dinner. The food was great, the weather beautiful, and the entire trip was relaxing. I found a nice resting spot on our walks to the marina.


Even with restrictions we did manage to take one excursion. We went to Las Caletas, a private beach that used to belong to movie director John Huston. It's a nice place and the boat trip was entertaining (once I got past the seasickness). Our "cruise director" was Giovanni, a self-proclaimed "Blacksican."



We really enjoyed the beach and met a nice 77-year-old "student" named Jerry. He kept good company with us through the day. He's a retired school teacher from the Fresno area. He was in Mexico for a Spanish-immersion class, staying with a host in Puerto Vallarta and trying out his Español.

While at the beach, I had a monkey on my back and Dave had a kitty eating out of his hand. Somehow no matter where we go, the cute little animals seem to find us (or is it the other way around?).

There were some stray dogs at the marina that all the restaurant employees seemed to adopt. They were Pancho and Lupé (Pancho the yellow boy and Lupé the dark-brown girl). Lupé had puppies a month or so ago and she was crying a lot because someone took the puppies (hopefully giving them a good home). Pancho was apparently not the father. Pancho seems to prefer the company of other boys (he was said to be "joto"). As much as Lupé tried to snog him, and she really tried, he wouldn't have any of it. They still hung out together and were best mates. Many tourists tried to pet the dogs, but Lupé was cautious and didn't want the attention. Pancho was happy to soak it up. Dave managed to give Pancho a little attention. We also met the restaurant's resident kitty, "Eperanza."


Dave's becoming quite the photographer these days. He and I may be competing for the position of family photographer. I may have the classes behind me, but his photos are going to be hard to beat. I bet he'll take great photos of our little boys. :)

As good as those are, he says the following one is his favorite (he's a real sweetie).