Monday, April 30, 2007

A Jellybean in an Eggplant

That is what our baby looks like right now at my 7th week of pregnancy. The only difference is that the jellybean has a heartbeat that is visible, and the eggplant is Jellybean's home until December.

So far, so good. My hCG levels (hormone levels) are high, which would account for my morning sickness and my general bitchiness. My body definitely thinks I'm eating for two, but I'm trying to be careful. Apparently, there are new things to avoid that I didn't know about the first time around. For example, I'm not supposed to eat lunch meat that's not cooked because of nitrates, and I can't have too much tuna because of mercury, so finding things that actually sound decent for lunch has been difficult. I'm drinking water like it's going out of style because nothing else sounds good, but I have to be careful of plastics. I never thought I'd lose the taste for coffee, but it has happened. Just the thought of it makes me queasy. Then again, the thought of most things in the morning makes me ill.

It will be an interesting journey having a baby at my age, especially when my son will be almost 15 when this little person is born. One the one hand, diapers and feedings, and on the other, teenage hormones and helping with algebra homework. I better find something to grab onto because I'm in for a ride!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Was a Whole Foods Virgin

Until yesterday. Recently, I've been on a fitness kick in order to take better care of myself. You know - eating right, exercising, getting enough rest, taking time to relax. The whole shabang. For exercising, it's been my goal to exercise at least 4 to 5 times per week (this week has included 4 days), to completely cut out coffee - even decaf, to rest when I need it, and to try to buy more organic food. So H and I drove to the nearest Whole Foods, which is about 5 miles away in Mountain View. I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The store was very clean and well laid out. Even the prices weren't as bad as I had prepared myself for. The only gripe I had is that I could not go down the frozen aisle because the stock clerks were refilling the freezers. I never will understand why some stores refuse to either stock very early or very late. Not that tough of a concept. H and I weren't there very long because H had control of the cart and I could not keep up. But, along our random journey, I was able to get some whole wheat bread, cottage cheese, Yogi tea, and organic gingersnaps, all of which are pretty good. Next visit, I will be in charge of the cart!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hodge Podge

I've been in sort of a writing funk lately. When many things creep up on me from all sides, instead of expressing myself, I tend to hole up, keep my dukes up and try to protect myself. Where to start? H and I have been looking at houses, which has been exciting, depressing, and overwhelming all at the same time. It's been exciting because I do not do apartment living very well - I hate dealing with noise from neighbors, I detest fighting for a decent parking spot because of all the crap I have to carry each day, and I just don't feel like the place is truly mine. I have no pictures hung on the walls because I just can't get motivated to and because I don't want to be charged extra for that when we move out. House hunting has been a bit depressing because I can't get past how expensive it is here for something decent. For our down payment, we could buy a place almost outright in my hometown. Yet, here in the Bay area, it's only 20% of the total cost of many of the houses we're looking at. I get scared and overwhelmed because of the thought of the finality of mortgage payments.

Last week was very nice - I was on my spring break. However, this week returning to work has been a harsh slap of reality. I can't go into too much detail, but two of my 40 cases are going through probable mediation/lawsuits. On the bright side, I gave my notice that I will not be back at the school district next year, and we're almost to the end of this year (I say almost because the time period after spring break always flies). Honestly, I've had my fill. The two difficult cases have been draining my energy and sucking the life force right out of me, not to mention taking away from therapy time for my other students. I'm so frickin' done with schools. Luckily, my consulting job is going well. I've only had to deal with one pushy parent, who I refused to deal with. They will have to find another therapist for that family - I'm past my capacity for that type of parent. Now that I have the power to say "no", I find that it's very liberating.

The month of May is one of the busiest and I'm trying to brace myself. First off, there are tons of end-of-the-year meetings for my students, most of which will go fine. It's just that they take more time and preparation. Almost every weekend in May, H and/or I will not be in town. The first weekend we will be staying right on the cliffs over the ocean in Carmel at the Tickle Pink Inn, which is a gift from my mother and her husband. I'm very much looking forward to that trip. For Mother's Day, I will be in Spokane to spend time with K, my mother, and grandmother. The next weekend is our friend's son's 1st birthday, which we'll be attending. Memorial Day we're off to San Diego to visit H's family. Whew!!

Oh, and what to get for my dad and H's upcoming birthdays? I'm still at a loss....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Book Review, Part 1: Women & Money

My good friend, B, in the Seattle area, has been sending me all sorts of interesting information lately. The latest find is a book called "Women & Money" by Suze Orman. I figured it couldn't hurt to be a little more informed about finances and how to make the most of mine, since I'll be starting a business of my own soon. I have read about a third of it so far, right up to the "action plan" part. I must preface what I'm about to say by mentioning that the concepts in this book, while mostly focused on finances, is also about other aspects of our lives. That is why I almost burst out crying while reading the Acknowledgements while waiting to pick up K in the middle of the San Jose airport. In this part, Suze describes a situation where a friend of hers has made the leap from being someone else's employee to working for herself. Leaps like this are never easy and it's one of the most difficult things to go from being safe and comfortable to the unknown. It reminded me of all the things women are expected to be and take care of in this world, but that we are usually last on our "to do list".

The first part of the book talks about women and how they view money, especially focusing on the fact that women make more money now than ever before, but we don't know what to do with it. We do things like let our spouses make financial decision for us, volunteer ourselves without realizing the true value of what we do (no, Suze is not advocating giving up volunteering), barter services where the trade is either not fair or not what we truly want, and refusing to negotiate higher salaries for what we do. Orman also points out one thing I hate - the importance of money in our lives. The reason why I hate this is because I don't ever want to be seen as "money grubbing" or a "money lover". But, she is right to an extent. If you don't have money to be comfortable, you can't afford things like decent health care, house payments, groceries, and the like. Certainly, my experiences in life give support to Orman's claim. I remember when I first graduated from college and had my first "real job". I was so excited - K and I moved into a little duplex (which was a crappy little place in BFE), we got all settled in, and started work. By the time I got my first paycheck, though, I was in tears because I realized I could not possibly pay for all our living expenses and daycare, plus my student loan payment, with what I was making. I started charging gas and groceries, but could not pay off the credit card each month. How crazy is it that I'd have to charge our necessities?? At the time, I put on my blinders, learned to ignore the pit of dread that was constantly in my stomach, and plow ahead. Fast forward to present-day, where I feel financially secure for the first time in eight years. I do not have to charge our necessities or put off going to the dentist because of a lack of funds. If K needs shoes because his big toe is (again!!) poking out of the end of his sneaker, I can go get him a new pair without worrying. I no longer have the "pit of dread" in my tummy. The fear is gone, even though I've not totally taken charge and made good decisions with the money I have. Even though I see how different things are now, it still feels icky to admit money's importance. Besides the importance of money, Orman discusses the importance of halting our tendency to feel shame for our current state of finances and to blame others for where we are in life (two things I KNOW I have done). She also talks about the concept of "you are not on sale" - the idea that women undervalue themselves and their role in society, in the workplace, and in the home. The last part before the action plan, Orman discusses the traits of a wealthy woman: harmony, balance, courage, generosity, happiness, wisdom, cleanliness (which is really organization), and beauty. She lists these things in this order because the very last trait is dependent on having your shit together - that beauty is not in the strictest sense, but comes when a woman is confident because she has the other traits, and that harmony and balance are stepping stones to the other traits.

The rest of this book will be reviewed when I finish. So far, I would recommend this book to most women I know. If you're like me, I never take a book as gospel, but I take the parts I need and use what I can, and the rest I discard. However, so far, I can't find much to argue with what Orman is saying. It's sad that I can't argue with it - it means that I have a lot of work to do in the area of my finances.