Sunday, August 12, 2018

Answers to your burning (pregnancy related) questions

If you’re anything like me you have at times had what you felt were either awkward, stupid, or kind of inappropriate questions about pregnancy and never really knew who to ask. Things like: what do babies do all day in the womb? If mothers get so sick from morning sickness how does the baby come out just fine? Or my ultimate question - Why do pregnant ladies ALWAYS seem to be holding their bellies? Are they in pain? Are they trying to suck it in? Afraid the belly might get bumped if they aren’t careful?

Well, wonder no more. I have answers. At least to the belly question.

My top five reasons for why women are always holding their pregnant bellies: 

1) They really might be in pain - there are false contractions (also considered “practice contractions” though the technical name is Braxton Hicks) that can happen in the second and third trimesters and those might be painful for some women. (Though I hear they generally aren’t.) Since I haven’t noticed any myself I can’t really comment on this.

2) The baby might be kicking. What can I say? It’s an interesting experience and it’s only going to last for so long, so I like to catch the kicks when they come and I imagine other women do too.

3) It’s really weird being super fat in only one body part. We’ve all experienced weight gain, but usually it’s more of a full body experience. Wouldn’t you be cradling your arm, say, if it gained 20 pounds in 2 months?

4) Pregnancy does weird things to your stomach. All those internal organs that used to fit so nicely? Squished to the side and sometimes they even get stomped on. Mama might just be trying to reassure her spleen that it’ll get its room back eventually when the little guest moves out.

5) And finally, she’s getting attached. At some point - for me it was probably late in the second trimester - it actually feels like a baby in there and it becomes easier to imagine him or her reacting to whatever you’re doing, being playful or moody,or just having their own internal drama. So a little comforting patting on the belly feels a lot like patting a newborn on the back to soothe it. Nice for mom, nice for baby.

So there you go, mystery of the day solved. You’re welcome. ;)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Tea and news

Photo from Laduree's website which you can visit here

Just thought I’d share a special moment with you this week.  As you may remember, my mom was in town last weekend for a visit and we had a great time being touristy and very, very girly together. One particularly lovely day (maybe Monday?) we took a long walk over the Key Bridge, gave ourselves a leisurely tour through some quiet Georgetown neighborhoods, window shopped for baby items, and stopped for lunch (and tea and macarons) at Laduree. It was pretty much a greatest hits list for all of our favorite things. (I guess a puppy store would have been the icing on the cake, but I don’t need any extra temptation in my life right now!)

But we didn’t just lunch at Laduree, this was an event.  I have been carrying around a beat up envelope from the doctor’s office for weeks, excited and weirdly nervous to open it.  Inside was a folded up sticky note containing a very big secret. Maybe you can guess what very big secret I’m talking about? Well, suffice to say I gathered all my courage, tore open the envelope and .....’s a boy!

Of course as far as mystery envelopes go this is the extra good kind because there was no bad option  unlike say a college acceptance letter, for example. One big plus for a boy is that his closest cousin (son of the South American himself) is a boy and will be less than a year older. Our cousins were such a big part of my childhood that I’m really looking forward to seeing my little guy get to know his.  

My big challenge now is that boy names are so much harder for some reason. My list for girls is about a half a page long and for boys so far I’ve got less than ten I’d even be willing to consider. I guess “little buddy” will only work for so long though so I’d better get down to business.   As always, suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

On the town

Not much of an update today, sorry. I’ve got my mom in town and we’ve been busy seeing the sights and eating the foods of our nation’s capital.

Friday was pho night and it was delicious. We realized that this was baby’s first Vietnamese meal. As a one-quarter Vietnamese baby I thought it was an important milestone and baby seemed to enjoy.

Yesterday was the Tyson’s corner mall for a stop at a blessedly large maternity store (Where we discovered how expensive it is to be a pregnant working woman!) - I never realized that physical   stores selling maternity clothes are hard to find until I started looking. Basically we shopped til we dropped.

Today we saw the natural history museum. With somewhat personal connections to Zika and Ebola (what with having my life put on hold by the threat of Zika now and having worked through the Ebola outbreak in Lagos) I found the exhibit on outbreaks to be fascinating and educational. We also liked the Mitsitam Cafe though I guess I’ve become a bit of a food snob because I was sad to see you can now get fries and hot dogs in addition to the authentic foods on offer there.  Why, America, why?

Looking forward to a little extra time hanging out and hopefully that rain in the forecast will hold off!

Happy weekend - or at least what’s left of it!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Paying off

I was just lamenting the fact that it was a rainy day with nothing exciting to blog about when my mother reminded me that there is one cool new thing.

My house is on the (rental) market!  While I have every intention of living there while on maternity leave there’s no reason to leave it totally empty in the middle of the summer beach season. And I’d be paying for a property manager anyway, what with the distance, so it works out well to have them offer the house for weekly rentals in the meantime.  So finally, hopefully, the time and effort invested in building the house will be paying off.

For anyone considering investing in a home they can rent temporarily I will caution, getting it ready for rentals has meant a ton of stress, from investing in finishes and things that I wouldn’t deem necessary on my own to extra cleanings, inspections, landline phone, cable service, etc. (I would never pay good money just to rot my brain with cable tv personally. I already am an expert at wasting time for free.) This of course is on top of the financial stress that has come with taking on my first mortgage and planning for baby expenses like child care and million dollar (or thereabouts) strollers.  And speaking of mortgages, that's something else that I'll be 'paying off' for quite some time.  (See what I did there?)

Life suddenly got real!

But just for the moment, let’s savor the sweet, sweet moment of seeing my house’s name ‘in lights’, shall we?

It’s good to know someone has finally seen that living room all cleaned up!

That's just a sampler, but really, you've seen the beach house photos already if I'm not mistaken.  Also, I'm debating posting an actual link to the house here - just want to be really careful about privacy and all.  So that may or may not be coming in the future. 

Happy Sunday and hope you get out there to enjoy the very last drops of weekend!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Is multi-bilingualism a thing?

Ever since I started Portuguese training I’ve been worried about what would happen/was happening to my Italian. Sure enough, once I had passed the test I went back and tried to translate a few sentences into Italian; it was appalling. I couldn’t remember words like ‘the’, ‘it’, and ‘go’. It all came out Portuguese! After 6 months of Italian and 2 years in Rome my Italian seemed to be gone with the wind. This same thing happened to the languages I studied before Italian (Spanish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian especially but also small amounts of French, Thai and Sinhala) hence my question about multi-bilingualism.  You don't count as multilingual unless you can do the languages more or less at the same time, right? So what do we call those who are serial language learners, but only ever conversational in one foreign language at a time? I vote for multi-bilingual. Anyway...

Luckily that first effort wasn’t my only effort.  I scoured the internet for some tips on how to ‘wake up’ an older language without killing the newer one.  Not many people seem to be talking about/doing this and the ones who are all seem to be language prodigies whose whole day job seems to be just speaking lots of languages and impressing people.  From their tips I've gathered that I was supposed to have been keeping up the Italian as I learned Portuguese (ideally through extensive conversation practice with native speakers), but I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my test results.  And frankly, finding and maintaining conversation buddies can be exhausting. ;)  So instead I’m putting the work in on the back end and sadly, without much conversation practice.

What’s been working for me?

First off, I found through passive exposure to the language (like reading the newspaper and books or watching news clips) that my comprehension is almost as good as it ever was.  And hopefully keeping this up will keep the things I learned a little closer to the surface. I’ve also downloaded and have been using duolingo for both languages on my phone - and when I review say, nature vocab in one language I’ll try to do the equivalent lesson in the other. That’s helped me remember vocabulary especially and start to actually produce rather than just recognize Italian.

The one skill I haven’t had much luck with yet has been using tenses... other than the present of course. Any tips from someone who has successfully managed to keep up more than one foreign language at a 3/3? (And without a family member who is fluent in either?)

At the same time as I'm trying to refresh the Italian I’m still taking distance learning Portuguese so I don't lose what I learned before I even arrive at post. It’s been good, if a bit intense on top of my other responsibilities. I can’t wait until I get to Brazil and I won’t have to go out of my way to get exposure to the language.  Just 4-5 more months now! (Who am I kidding? That sounds like forever! Some of us are clearly not built to withstand more than a year without being abroad.)  Kudos to the foreign service and civil service folks who work long-term in DC.  Thank you for your service!

And with that I'll leave my faithful readers for the week. Please do post any ideas you have to share as the internet has been sort-of a let down on this front.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Wasp

No, not talking about any superhero movies, I’m talking about the little green Vespa! (Vespa means wasp in Italian).  You remember this little beauty from February, right?

Well, we brought it back up to my parents' house from Florida since I don’t yet have a good storage solution down at my house, and I finally got a chance to ride it!

Obviously I was a natural.

Ok, kidding. I had NO idea how hard these things are to drive. First off, it works the same as a motorcycle apparently, which doesn't help me at all since I've never driven a motorcycle.  But it seems like a counterintuitive design. How could gas, break and steering all happen in the same place? Argh!
Also, it looks really sturdy and stable right? Very bottom heavy? Alas, no.  In fact it was pretty quick to tip and if your legs are too short to catch the ground in time - or if you aren’t strong enough to support the whole weight of the Vespa, it’s going down. 

So long story short, I crashed. Twice. Not spectacularly or anything. I was going very slowly, after all. But it was still rather painful/scary.  I’m determined to master the Vespa at some point though! Just not while pregnant. So if anyone has any tips for learning to drive a scooter/motorcycle in a really safe, controlled setting (basically where it's impossible to crash), please let me know! 

Also, on an unrelated note, I think I am going to have to start controlling the comments before they are released. Some gross escort service apparently thinks this is a prime advertising spot, so... yeah.  Sorry to everyone who didn't abuse the privilege! I'll still post your comments as soon as I can.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Baby Watch!

Maybe watch is the wrong term, since I’m still hopefully a full trimester away from delivering, but since it seems like such an all-consuming part of my life right now I thought I should at least mention mini-me and all the recent goings on.

So here goes!

First off, baby is currently the size of a coconut according to the internet.  I am definitely showing, and have had to leave an increasingly large share of my wardrobe behind.  See you next year cute clothes!  I’ve had some luck finding maternity clothes I like, and a really gracious friend gifted me a bunch of shirts.  The only thing that's been really tough has been pants and fitted skirts for work.  Do clothing stores think pregnant women don’t need clothes for the office or are they just really difficult to fit? Any and all suggestions welcome!

As for gender and names, sorry, no big reveal! I have an envelope with the gender in it from my last ultrasound but I’m waiting for a special occasion to open it up.  And I’m not sure I want to share my names here, for privacy reasons.  So just know that the little coconut will definitely (probably) have a name by my due date. I’m still working on a registry too. It feels weird asking for stuff and anyway I have only the vaguest idea what I will need or want so I’m not super motivated yet.  Maybe once I hit the third trimester I’ll kick the prep into high gear.

And speaking of trimesters, the second is the best!  Morning sickness, which I was very blessed to experience on only a mild level, completely ended, along with most of my weird food aversions.  For awhile there I was down to carbs and fruit only, and I just couldn’t do water or vegetables at all.  Now I still don’t want beef, and eggplant sounds a bit off putting, but otherwise I’m back! And happily, baby seems to really like ice cream, so I’m doing my part on that front.

Two recent standouts on that front - NIcecream's Honey and Lavender flavor and Rita's Ice Cream's 'gelati' a mix of shaved ice and gelato.  Cotton candy flavored, naturally.

The only really uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy (that I’m willing to share with the world!) has been pretty constant lightheadedness. I’ve only passed out once but I get close several times a week.  It’s true that ‘fainting spells’ sound very romantic and Victorian, but I do hope all that ends before I have an infant to take care of!

Oh, and I can feel baby moving. :D No biggie.  He/she likes to move around first thing in the morning, right before lunch, and in the hour or so before bed.  We've already got a schedule established! Good job baby.

I suppose that's enough for this go-around.  Hope everyone is enjoying the heat! ;)