Me, IRL

_TMK0431On this piece of blog space, I do try to let the “real” me show through (whatever that is–sometimes, I don’t even know). But as my friend Ruth observed, it’s not always easy to capture your real life self in your writing, even if you’re not trying to censor because our real live selves are far more multifaceted than what we can adequately convey on a blog, especially if you blog towards a particular niche.

But the best part about blogging is the sharing of ourselves, and the connection. For that, transparency becomes a blogger’s best trait. So, in an effort to show you more of what I’m like outside this blog space, here’s my stab at IRL Jade.

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- I talk and think about food incessantly. You know the way some people are about stuff that’s actually interesting, telling great stories, making others laugh, or sharing fascinating trivia? I doubt I’m on anyone’s Top 10 list for those skills. Me, I talk about food. When asked what to do or see in Thailand, I’ll provide you with a list of restaurants and recommended dishes, with a few activities to toss in between meals. I talk about food as I imagine what I’m going to cook next or where we’ll go out to eat. I talk about it as we’re consuming it. I talk about it when we’re so stuffed of it we don’t even want to think about it…and yet, there I go, talking about food some more.

- I have a pretty dry sense of humor, best conveyed in little snippets of commentary in the midst of conversation. I try my best to show this humor on my blog, but mostly, it doesn’t work. I have to do it on the fly, in response to what’s going on. Maybe I also take my writing self too seriously. Either way, I’m probably funnier in person. But I’m also shy and quiet so it takes a while for that to show through too.

- I laugh when I’m nervous. When someone says something, and I don’t know how to respond, I laugh. When someone says something rude to me, and anger is probably the more rational response, I still laugh. I can’t help it; it’s a reflex. I wasn’t even totally aware that I do it until my friend Garren pointed it out. I probably laughed when he mentioned it too.

- I have a high, childlike voice. The first time I heard my voice on a recorded voicemail, as an adult, I was shocked and a little dismayed. My voice sounds much deeper in my head. In real life, I sound like a pixie.

- Something I’ve discovered recently: I’m really nervous around other people’s babies when I don’t know the other person very well. Kids are fine. With my best friend’s babies and babies in my family, I’m also totally fine. (Also, am totally not worried about my own kid.) But acquaintance babies, not so much. I think I’m afraid that if the person hands the babe over and the babe starts wailing, I’ll totally be judged for not knowing what the heck I’m doing. With people I know better, I guess I trust more that I’ll figure the kid out quickly enough. One of my best friend’s kids, it turns out, I can totally captivate him when I sing. But I don’t imagine that trick works on every baby, so I shy away from holding them until we know each other better.

Speaking of sharing me IRL and babies…wanna see Mister Bean? He gets real active at night, especially while we’re watching The Sopranos. Must be all the excitement and high drama. Here’s a look at Mister Bean on the move:

For anyone wondering about what it’s like to have a baby in your belly, it’s exactly how it looks: like an alien. An alien invading your body and taking up residence for 9 months.

On that note, happy Friday everyone!

A Coffee Chat

IMG_0120My husband is a collector. He collects rocks and gems and fossilized bits. He collects Hot Wheels (but only the cool ones). He collects photos from artists he admires. He collects mementos and pieces of nostalgia. Me, I don’t really collect things. Even mementos…with a few rare exceptions, I might hold on to things for a while, but then when the mood strikes, I purge and out it goes. I travel light.

But I recently realized that there IS something I would collect when the time is right. Something I never fail to “ooh” and “aww” over, something that always makes me happy when I see it. Can you guess what it is?

Beautiful coffee cups. If I had some space where it would be practical to get a nice curio cabinet to keep them safe in, and I knew we wouldn’t be moving too often (and thus wouldn’t have to worry about packing and shipping them all), I would start collecting coffee cups. Not just any ones, mind you, even of pretty ones. It would be a carefully curated collection. And I’d probably keep my collection on the down low as I wouldn’t want to encourage people to buy mugs for me because I’d be a total snob about my collection and wouldn’t want a bunch of random ones taking up space.

I figured out this is what I’d collect when now, a year later, I realized I’m STILL kicking myself for not buying the stunning, gorgeous, hand-painted latte mug I found at an open air market in Krakow, Poland. It was a little bit expensive and I talked myself out of it then, thinking it was probably a ubiquitous tourist item. Nope. Haven’t seen another like it since. Kicking myself, I am.

IMG_0131Anyway, we had a lovely weekend getaway for Toby’s birthday. I made ginger pecan cinnamon rolls as a surprise for breakfast in bed. I used this recipe and just added chopped up bits of crystallized ginger, pecans soaked in a smidgen of maple syrup, and some grated orange zest before rolling them up.

Then we went to a resort called The Nest, aptly named as it is nestled just below Chiang Dao mountain. There’s plenty of rock climbing, hiking, cave trekking, temple viewing and other fun activities around the area. What did we do? We slept. And ate. And read. But mostly slept. We did visit one cave, but seeing as how I’m 7 months pregnant, I pretty much just popped my head in and then waited outside while Toby explored a little deeper. The sleeping part, though? That was tops.

IMG_0144And this weekend, we’re off again! We’re headed to Chiang Rai as I need to do some work for SOLD. I’m running some workshops on how to manage conflict within interpersonal relationships, which will hopefully expose the kids to examples of healthy relationships and introduce them to the values and strategies they can employ when problems crop up.

I got the idea for this when fellow staff members saw how conflict between the kids and their parents can distance them from loved ones and leave them more vulnerable to traffickers hoping to prey on them. Culturally here, women aren’t always valued equally as men, and, socially, there are few positive examples of equal, mutually respectful, and loving relationships between men and women. All of these factors contribute to the kids’ susceptibility to abuse, feelings of worthlessness, and lack of personal agency.

By teaching the kids how to create relationships built on trust, equality, and mutual respect, and to approach conflict as a means to strengthen relationships through honesty, openness, and collaboration, I’m hoping to continue teaching the kids that they are valuable individuals who deserve respect and love, and that they have the ability to choose how they respond to complex situations. They are not just passive victims, but active stewards of their own lives.

Photo by Rachel Goble. Available for purchase at: http://thesoldproject.storenvy.com/products/1793326-power-meditation  All proceeds go to supporting SOLD's prevention work.

Photo by Rachel Goble. Available for purchase at: http://thesoldproject.storenvy.com/products/1793326-power-meditation                   All proceeds go to supporting SOLD’s prevention work.

Speaking of SOLD, we have some big news! We’ve just premiered a brand new video–it’s a short, couple-minute clip, but we’d love it if you’d take a look at it and feel inspired by its message of hope. It’s called “Travel With Us” and we hope it’ll serve as reminder that none of us travels alone–and that we all can be part of something larger than ourselves.

Check it out here: http://thesoldproject.com/travelwithus

Okay, my coffee’s growing cold now. There’s a lot to do today as I need to run some errands to prepare for my workshop this weekend, and this week is a busy one because (aside from the launch of our video and a couple of other big developments we’re working on at SOLD), finally after all this waiting, my parents’ new car is ready so we can go get it AND the shipment from the U.S. has arrived in Bangkok and will be here on Friday. Of course, my parents’ house isn’t done being built yet, so where we’re going to store all this stuff is a question…but at least there’s forward movement and things are starting to fall into place.

How’s your week looking? Is it a crazy busy one too, or are you getting in some good summer vacation time?

Random Thoughts on a Friday

_1050162* Yesterday, we had our 7-month checkup at the doctor’s office. All is fine and normal so far. The baby’s head is down by my cervix, pushing on my bladder, while his feet are up by my ribs. “The baby’s head is heavy and hard, so you feel pressure there,” the doctor tells me. No kidding, doc, thanks for the news flash. “Don’t worry,” he assures me, “this position is normal.”

* I know I’ve said it before, but I really can’t stand bureaucracy in this country. I’ve had to provide the exact same information for an application (stuff for SOLD) once last year, another time last week (in triplicate), on a different form early this week, and again today. For some of the information I can see the relevance (though why it’s needed 6 times is beyond me), while other information (like my religion and what properties I own) make me want to scream, “NONE OF YOUR G.D. BUSINESS.” (I have a strong libertarian streak when it comes to things like this.) It’s just like when I was getting my national ID card. I was delayed a month because I had to get original copies of my transcripts sent over, translated, and approved–because apparently evidence of a Ph.D. is a prerequisite for Thai citizenship. (Not.) All this makes me reminisce fondly over the DMV and the local Social Security office–everything was such a breeze any time I had to get anything done there.

* The U.S. wasn’t the only place celebrating American independence yesterday. We went to dinner at a restaurant on the river, and at 8 p.m. fireworks went off in celebration of July 4th. Either there’s an overabundance of American expats here or the Thais just love any excuse to party.

* I got in a patriotic mood and made burgers for lunch today, with a side of Kettle chips. I make a sauce for the burgers using mayo, Chipotle Tabasco sauce, cilantro, and lime–it’s my favorite.

* I miss Europe right now. I miss the endless days of summer, where a sunset dinner starts at 10 p.m. I miss window boxes full of fresh flowers, tiny riots of optimism amidst the brick and the gray. I want to eat croissants stuffed with almonds and drink cappuccinos thick with foam. I want to hear the cadence of different languages and pretend I’m just as svelte as the long-limbed, urban fashionistas just by being among them. I want to see both the modernity and the history written in bullet holes and snaggle-toothed decay. I want to wear a jacket. I want to hop on subways in thick, ass-kicking boots. I want to shop at farmer’s markets with my soft canvas bags, and covet the strawberries and marzipan. I’d say “Bitte” and “Ich möchte das” and I’d eat salami and cheese for dinner. I’d stay out in Kreuzberg until the sun rises again because, there, the party doesn’t even start until 3 a.m.

 

A Coffee Chat

_DSF1332It seems for most pregnant women, the first trimester is the hard one, with the nausea, food aversions, sudden hormonal changes, and burgeoning aches and pains. I was pretty lucky in that regard, sailing through with little of any of those complaints.

I have a feeling it’s the third trimester that will be a challenge. If you and I were really meeting over a cup of coffee, I’d confess to you that this is where I’m starting to struggle. I seem to be a lot more hormonal these days–easily angered, easily brought to tears. I clumsy and slow, off balance in more ways than one.

Sleeping is getting difficult again. I’ll find myself sitting up wide awake at midnight or 1 a.m., trying all my best tricks to induce drowsiness. But the minute I lie down, various discomforts crop up: acid reflux, the baby starts squirming around, and I can’t find a position that doesn’t strain something. If I lie on my back (which I’m not supposed to do), there’s too much pressure from the baby’s weight (hence why I’m not supposed to do it). If I lie on my side (like I’m supposed to), it somehow squeezes the baby and he starts fidgeting. If I lie at a sort of 45-degree angle, as I had been doing up until now, it starts to pull at the muscles just below my belly. And the baby starts squirming. Last night I fell asleep curled up, upside-down on the bed, with my head at the foot and my feet at the head, because somehow flipping around that way discombobulated the baby enough so that, if he was kicking around in there, I didn’t feel it so much.

_1050213The other cause for concern these days is that dengue fever is going around like crazy. I don’t know what it is, but this year the mosquitoes are out in force, passing around the disease like it’s their job. (Maybe it is their job? I hate skeeters.) Dengue fever is awful–it’s known as “break bone fever” because it makes you feel like your bones are literally breaking. And the real shit part of it is, once you get it, you’re more susceptible to it in future. The antibodies your body builds up in defense, instead of helping you fight off the disease, turn into little life rafts or Trojan horses carrying the disease to whatever part of the body it wants to go to. At least that’s what my husband told me.

Oh yeah, and it can kill you too.

We know so many people who have gotten it this year, and news reports are full of how the number of cases keeps rising.

Being pregnant means my immune system is weakened too. So even if it weren’t for concern for the baby, I’d still have to be extra careful to cover up, use mosquito spray and coils every where we go, and kill all the buggers on sight.

IMG_0039But life isn’t so bad, even with all my kvetching. This week I’ve made a lot of progress on preparing the next workshop for the kids at SOLD. It’s coming together, and I’ve reached the part where I get excited (as opposed to nervous) about how it’ll go. I’ve also gotten back into more disciplined writing practice, which always makes me feel better.

And it’s my husband’s birthday this weekend. We’re going to check a new place we haven’t really been to before, one that’s nestled in the mountains and has a bunch of caves and temples to explore. Chiang Dao is supposed to be beautiful, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

I also plan to bake some goodies for Toby. I won’t tell you what it is just yet–it’s a surprise–but I will divulge that it involves ginger and pecans. And cinnamon. Planning surprises for him always makes me excited.

So if you and I were really meeting for coffee today, I’d thank you for letting me vent. I feel better now. If we were meeting for coffee, what would you tell me today? Do you have anything you’d want to vent about too? Please share, I am, as they say, all ears.

 

 

 

 

A Coffee Chat

_1050236-2It’s Wednesday and my fingers are slathered in olive oil and the scent of fresh rosemary. Today, I officially cross the threshold into the third trimester of this pregnancy, and I’m celebrating by making summer tarts inspired by this recipe. I can’t really say I followed the recipe, since I mostly just used it for inspiration and went my own way with it, making one tart with lemon, rosemary, and zucchini, and another with eggplant, basil, tomato, and mozzarella. I served them for lunch with lamb chops leftover from dinner last night. I’d show you pictures, but the family was too hungry to tolerate waiting for me to set up pretty pictures. There are times for looking at your food and times for eating it, I suppose.

I always wonder how food bloggers stave off a hungry clan long enough to take well set-up photos in natural light.

_1050239-2Truthfully, I’m having a little difficulty coming back to real life after our weekend getaway. It was only a weekend, but somehow that was long enough to make the everyday an adjustment again. I’m coping by immersing myself in food. Lamb chops and summer tarts were just the beginning. Orange and cardamom cake is also on the menu this week, as possibly is this fascinating goodness.

The funny thing is I actually took me a little while to get into the weekend getaway too. We physically arrived on Friday, but it was well into Saturday, if not longer, before I really arrived and relaxed into vacation. (Thankfully it was a 3-night stay, so I had the time to relax into it.)

IMG_0049It’s weird how long it can take to let go sometimes, isn’t it?

The infinity pool overlooking the mountains sure helped though.

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We also took advantage of the weekend to snap some maternity shots of me. I got Toby to take a few, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they turned out. (I’m vain, what can I say?) As I’m starting to get to the point where I feel like I could take out low-lying objects and small children with my belly, it’s not so easy to feel sexy these days. But putting on a pretty dress and heels, and having your husband pay you a little attention with his camera can do a woman good.

Here’s one he snapped with my camera, as a sneak preview._1050270In Thailand, women are generally expected to cover up, and they give you the most shapeless, unfeminine frocks to wear in maternity. Need a bigger bra? Try the post-war refugee granny style. It’s all the rage. Oh, those pretty lace ones? Yeah, those are only in size AA.

I read somewhere that, in France, maternity is no excuse for frumpiness. Don’t you dare eye your husband’s comfy shirt. Sex appeal must be maintained–never mind your body is morphing daily, in ways far beyond your control.

There must be a happy medium somewhere, right? How was it for you fellow mamas? Did you cling to whatever sexiness you could pull off, or did you dive straight in for comfort in soft tees and bowls of ice cream?

Mmmm…ice cream…Would it be bad if I just had that for dinner tonight?

IMG_0031Anyway, it was a fabulous getaway and I’m ready to do it all over again {if only I could!} I might just have to content myself with looking back over the photos and imagining I’m still there.

Meanwhile, work is beckoning me. I have workshops to prepare for SOLD, and I’m trying to gear up the guts to do something bold with my writing. If I do get up that nerve, you’ll be hearing about it soonish. Or…I may continue to procrastinate via baking.

What’s going on with you this fine Wednesday?

Playing the Waiting Game–in Life, Marriage, and Motherhood

Strung out on a line

Strung out on a line

When I was in college, the largely unspoken, but prevailing belief seemed to be that smart, strong women could have plenty of fun dating around, but would want to get their degree and all their career ducks in a row before settling down. For some, random hookups were the mode de jour; for others, dating was one long stream of bad men. Only a few had really long relationships. And motherhood? That was for way later, if at all. Pregnancy would practically mean the end of your life. Taking birth control was the only smart choice.

The trouble is none of us had any idea how difficult it could be to find a good partner after college. When you join the work force, you enter a pool of widely varied, but highly limited options. There’s usually a huge age range—which makes finding unmarried age-mates more difficult, and when you spend the vast majority of your life in one office, meeting people outside that milieu gets incredibly hard. If there aren’t any suitable mates among your coworkers (and let’s not even get into in all the potential trials of an office relationship), you can be hard-pressed to find the time or place to even meet anyone else new.

I remember when I was a teenager, I used to dream that I’d go to college, get a fancy career started, find an awesome apartment in a big city, and then find my future husband, whom I’d marry, preferably around the age of 28. After a couple years of marriage, we’d have our first child, probably when I was around the age of 30. Thirty sounded like a good child-bearing age. That still would give me a couple of years to have my second child at 32 or so, and be done well before that fertility drop-off at 35.

I assumed getting pregnant was easy because all you hear, when you’re young, is about the girls who got pregnant even though they only had unprotected sex “that one time.”

I don’t know if it’s by luck or by choice, but I never had a string of bad men or bad relationships. Sure, I dated a jerk or two and a few guys who, though nice, weren’t going to captivate me long-term. But those were always obvious from the start and I never was one to stick around with a losing bet (I distinctly remember one relationship that had a shelf-life of “Four Tuesdays”—my best friend from college will get this reference; there were lots of fun, crazy memories from that episode in our lives). My relationships either lasted a few weeks or a few years—the long ones, even the ones that didn’t work out, were great while they lasted, and important learning experiences in preparation for marriage.

It turns out, I met my husband in college—though neither of us was anywhere near ready for marriage at the time. But we fell in love, probably to both our surprises, and we stuck around each other, even though “not ready” was a big light flashing above both our heads. Toby took a year to travel the world after he graduated college, and in the interim, we had both grown a lot. By the time he came back, I knew I was ready to think about marriage, even if we weren’t anywhere near ready to marry each other. We loved each other; we knew that much. I probably broke a slew of dating rules by doing this, but I told him, in no uncertain terms, that if we were going to be together, it would be with an eye towards marriage. Though we both knew there were no guarantees in this trial run, I wasn’t going to waste time with someone who was only in it “just for now.”

Luckily for me, he was on the same page, more or less, and the years following were a steady learning experience in which we tried out what marriage might look like, what commitment meant, and what it would mean to devote ourselves to another. By the time he proposed to me, I was 26 and we were ready. We had grown into marriage together. We had become ready together. When we did exchange vows, I had just turned 28.

But marriage isn’t the only odyssey one embarks on—there’s also parenthood. Having just gotten married, I wasn’t in any rush to have a child. There was my doctorate to finish and a career to start. Toby was only just getting his career off the ground, and a job in the tech industry at that time seemed volatile and uncertain. We lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and had other dreams too, namely involving travel. Maybe living abroad for a while. There was still adventure to be had and a baby seemed more like a huge complication and intense responsibility than the next inevitable step in our life progression. The biological clock had started ticking, but I ignored the bell toll.

Though I had heard that fertility decreases with age, I still assumed it would be easy enough to get pregnant. I did have one friend who was trying to get pregnant and had started fertility treatments. She warned me getting pregnant could take time. I heard, but didn’t hear.

When I turned 30, I finished my doctorate and we made plans to move to Thailand. Work with The SOLD Project was already lined up; all I had to do was get to northern Thailand. We were leaving everything we knew behind. That wasn’t the time to start thinking about babies.

After we got settled in Thailand, and Toby’s work situation seemed solid, I was getting integrated at SOLD and halfway through writing a manuscript, I began to listen more carefully to that biological clock. I went off the pill slightly before entirely ready, thinking it would take a few months for the pill’s effects to clear my system, so that, fingers crossed, I might be 100% ready when it did.

Then, I didn’t get pregnant. Our jobs got even better, visitors came and went, we had grown into life in Thailand…I still didn’t get pregnant. My best friend from college was also enduring her own trial of fertility problems, and my best friend from grad school had suffered miscarriages, and another friend was going through a divorce…so by this time, I was really hearing it: Yes, it can be freaking hard to get pregnant. We traveled to Hong Kong and saw more of Asia. I still didn’t get pregnant. We spent a month in Europe, I didn’t get pregnant. We went back to the U.S. for a month…if I didn’t get pregnant soon, we’d have to think about fertility treatments. I didn’t even want to know what that cost would look like. My mother and sister had both had miscarriages before being able to carry a child to term. My cousin is 40 and still unable to get a baby to take, despite almost a decade of treatments. I knew that even if I did get pregnant, it might not work on the first try, and I had to steel myself for that possibility.

It turn out that it was only when we no longer had a stream of life and travel plans that, after more than a year and a half off the pill, I got pregnant. I’m turning 33 next week, and my dreams of having two kids are now looking more like I’ll be blessed to have one. I’m okay with that, and even saying this, I want it to be clear that I’m not complaining. I doubt I’d make different choices even if I had the chance. I love the years Toby and I have had together, and I think the stability we’ve built and the life experiences we’ve had, having had that time, will only serve our child better.

But I feel incredibly lucky. I feel like it’s only partly our choices, and mostly by chance that things have worked out for us (so far—I don’t want to jinx this!). I look at women I know who’ve been trying for years and years to get pregnant, or friends who’ve suffered miscarriages, or others who still can’t find a life partner, and I know how easily it could have gone a different way.

It’s a myth we tell ourselves when we’re young that we can somehow control life and when and how it happens to us. We make plans for what sounds like a good age to marry, and to have children…and these days, that “perfect age” is getting later and later. Instead of right after college, many push it off to their late 20s. Some women, realistic about demands certain careers make, push it off into their 30s, or even later. We don’t factor in the potential for complications. When we make our timelines, we don’t consider the possibility of divorce. We don’t consider the possibility of infertility.

Though I did get married at 28, the truth is I met the man I would marry when I was 20. It took us 8 years to get where we needed to be. If I hadn’t taken my feelings for him seriously way back then, when I still felt I had other life goals to meet first, or vice versa with him for me, who knows where either of us might be? Maybe we would have found other people to love. Maybe there is such a thing as soul mates, and we really are the only ones for each other. Who can really say? Meanwhile, people perpetuate this fear that marriage really hampers one’s freedom and independence. We’ve found this to be entirely untrue for us. Marriage has given us each a strong foundation from which we can both fly—both separately, and together. It’s made us stronger than we would have been alone.

We tell ourselves, when we’re young, that to be real strong, smart women, we have to put education and career before absolutely everything else. The truth is, life goals can exist side by side. You don’t have to put your ducks in a row…sometimes, you just kind of herd them along together. The trend now is to stave off marriage and family until you’ve lived your life first. What makes for “the right time” is an incredibly personal decision and it varies widely from person to person, but I do think we women do ourselves a disservice when we don’t make clear to each other that there are potential tradeoffs when we put off childbearing; that while you’re busy living your life, it can become increasingly harder (and harder than we think it will be) to be able to bear life. We underestimate how fragile life can be, and how uncertain fertility is. We all popped our birth control pills every day for years, each of us never knowing if we’d be the one who’d get pregnant on the first try, the one who would need years of fertility treatments, or the one who couldn’t get pregnant at all.

We can’t control when life happens to us, but we can be honest and informed about the consequences of our choices, and we can listen carefully to our inner guides about who is right for us and when we’re ready. From an employer’s perspective, there’s never a good time for a woman to get pregnant. But your life is your own. External deadlines matter little compared to the timeline we feel ticking along inside.

*   *   *

This post was inspired by this one, “26 and Already Pregnant,” by Kate from Eat The Damn Cake. If you’re interested in more fun facts about delayed marriage and child-rearing, check out this post, “The Sweet Spot for Tying the Knot,” by Susan Walsh at Hooking Up Smart.

A Coffee Chat

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I got some new Lightroom presets, so I’ll be playing around with some different photographic styles. There’s so much choice! It might take me a while to settle on what I like best.

Every morning, I have a ritual. I come downstairs, sit on the couch in front of my laptop, and check my email and Facebook, getting caught up on what happened in the U.S., while we were asleep in Asia. It’s a habit I have from when we lived in the States, but the ritual takes longer now that all the activity happens while we’re still sleeping. I suppose it’s a mark of the digital age that, 2.5 years after moving abroad, my central orientation is still split between two continents: me, living my life here, yet keeping tabs on what’s happening 12 hours different over there.

It’s only after I get caught up that I go to our kitchen, with its bright red walls and gray cabinets (a color combination I never would have picked on my own, but have somehow come to appreciate for its quirks), make a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal, and then retreat back to the couch to enjoy as I begin my workday. I figure most people need their coffee before they can tackle what’s in front of them for the day. Somehow I need this ritual to clear my head before I can properly appreciate my coffee.

_TMK2118If we were really meeting for coffee today, you’d probably hear me kvetch about the construction that’s going on along the road we take into the city. About two weeks ago, they (whoever they are) decided it was a brilliant idea to start tearing up the only road that leads from our area, which sees a heavy amount of traffic, into the city. The road was perfectly serviceable, mind you, but somehow it was seen fit to tear up the perfectly fine asphalt and start replacing it with…can you guess? Concrete. Concrete, which does not flex with the weather as does asphalt, easily gets cracks in it, and will soon be destroyed. The four-lane road is now cut down to a two-lane road as they do this, and when I had work meetings in town last week, a drive that normally takes less than 25 minutes took me an hour and fifteen. Every time we need to do anything–since everything, including the grocery stores and restaurants we frequent even when we don’t go into town, lies past the construction zone–requires driving through this schmuckus.

I get so pissed off every time I see the construction, or even think about it to factor in how long it’s going to take me to run a particular errand, because when I mention it to Thai people, their immediate reaction is “Oh, they must have just had extra money in their budget they had to spend, and the concrete guys probably strong armed them into spending their money on a contract with them.” And that is Thai politics for you. Let everyone suffer for the sake of some bureaucratic boondoggle.

In other news, I love that “boondoggle” is actually a real word.

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Do you remember a few weeks back, I mentioned how well a shock collar has been working with Dot to keep her from barking at the neighbors? I may have to revise that statement. While she has certainly stopped barking and been exceedingly good about coming home when we call, she seems perfectly happy and at ease with the collar on,  and we’ve really only had to use the beep sound with her so the shock has largely been unnecessary, there’s still one little thing that’s been off. Lately, Dot has seemed a bit mopey. She does tend to get in mopey moods from time to time, but this one seems a little longer lasting. I’m starting to wonder if, though she understands now that we don’t want her barking so much, she might feel a bit sad because her “job” has been taken away. She probably viewed it as her duty to protect house and home (and the pregnant mama), but if she can’t bark, she can’t do her duty. She might feel lost without a job to do. I know that can easily be true with some breeds. As she’s a street mutt, it’s hard to tell what her natural inclinations might be. But, knowing how strong her protective instinct is, I’d be willing to guess that curtailing that does upset her to some degree.

So it looks like we might need to find our dog a job.

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In the meantime, my nesting instinct is giving me a real kick in the butt. I’m DYING to start readying the house for the baby, to make some pretty storage & display additions with our wedding dishes that are currently being shipped out, and to organize various things that have become a little disorganized as our house has grown. The itch. It’s BAD. But I can’t do anything about it right now because I really should just wait until the shipment arrives to see what all I have. That’s what I SHOULD do. What I WANT to do is go shopping and make our house pretty. I shouldn’t be in such a rush–I mean, who is there but me to really enjoy and appreciate it? In the grand scheme of things, waiting a few months should make no difference at all.

But then again, I never said patience was one of my virtues.

So what’s happening in your pocket of the world? If we were meeting for coffee, what would you tell me?

 

A Coffee Chat

_DSF0914Happy Wednesday everyone! How has your week been going? Did you have a nice holiday weekend?

If we were really meeting over coffee, I’d share this fantastic coffee our favorite coffee shop owner brought back to share from his recent trip to Japan. It’s so yummy–it reminds us of jam-filled cookies: that kind of buttery flavor with a hint of berry sweet.

I’d tell you how we spent our Saturday scoping out and booking a room at the resort where we plan to spend our 5-year wedding anniversary, which is coming up in just a few weeks (already! can’t believe it!). We had fun checking it out, and getting in a little lunch at the restaurant overlooking the infinity pools. It makes me very excited for our romantic getaway weekend. I can’t wait–and boy, will we appreciate it! Probably our last bit of real alone time that we’ll have for quite a while, with the baby coming soon.

_DSF0915Speaking of the baby, today marks 6 months of pregnancy. Normally, I’m really excited for the coming of another month, but this time I feel more ambivalent about it. I feel like the second trimester bliss is coming to an end, and after that, the business of birth looms large and, well, shit’s going get real, y’all.

But I’ve been really good about doing prenatal yoga on a regular basis (about 3x a week), and that helps me a lot. I’m getting stronger and more flexible, and it helps relieve tension and sore muscles in my back, for which I’m grateful.

_DSF0916In a little bit of fun, I came across a pin on Pinterest that led to the discovery of this free app called Tagxedo, which takes any text (your favorite poem, a meaningful excerpt, etc.) and puts it into fun, customizable shapes. Here’s what I made with a selection of my favorite things:

wordbird2

 

 

I think it would be cute and fun to print something like this out and display it on a shelf like this lady did, or to have it printed on a nice coffee mug for myself. If you could do something like this, what words would you use?

Today, I’m a little crazy wired because I went to a workshop attended by other organizations working to combat child trafficking in Thailand, where we discussed assessment tools to help screen children and identify potential mental or situational health problems to better serve them, and they served instant coffee, which I don’t normally drink. I didn’t realize how much more of a caffeine kick it has than the coffee I usually drink. By 11 a.m., I was being tortured. I couldn’t sit still for anything and the baby was throwing all kinds of punches inside my belly. I felt better after some lunch, I guess it helped diffuse the caffeine, but wow, did it really take me out for the day! Note to self: instant coffee is no bueno.

Anyway, hope you all have a fabulous Wednesday! Tell me, what’s going on with you?

 

A Coffee Chat

_TMK2933Happy Tuesday! If we were really meeting for coffee, I probably wouldn’t be able to wait before I showed you this cute goodness we got from our friends, mailed to us all the way from the U.S.:

A baby onesie that says "Made in Thailand" and an Edamame & Edapapa card

A baby onesie that says “Made in Thailand” and an Edamame & Edapapa card

I totally laughed out loud when I pulled it out of the package, and isn’t that card the best?

If we were meeting in person, you might notice that I’m looking both frazzled and happy. My parents arrived safely at nearly midnight on Sunday and we’re so glad to have them here! We’ve had a lot going on between unpacking–it’s like Christmas come early in our house with all the great stuff they brought for us and the baby–and heading over to their new house, which is currently being built, to pick out floors, paint, and landscaping. Plus, they’re super excited to get Thai food again, so we’ve been hitting up our favorite spots to eat.

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But it was a bit of a whirlwind getting ready. I had been prepping things here and there through the week before they arrived, but I had left some stuff for our maid to do, as she comes on Sundays.

She didn’t show up. Didn’t call. No explanation. Just didn’t show. So Toby & I spent Sunday scurrying around mopping and scrubbing, sweating like crazy because by the time we realized she wasn’t going to come it was no longer the cool morning, it was pretty much the heat of mid-day. (Is this a first world problem or a third world problem? High class problem, most probably. I kept stewing in my annoyance that if this were the U.S. this totally would not have happened, and if it did, that maid would be fired unless there was a good reason for it. But then, if this were the U.S., it totally would not have happened because I wouldn’t be able to afford a maid in the first place. So there’s some perspective.)

_DSF0630Anyway, the rains seem to finally have come, and there’s usually a wet spell around 4 or 5 p.m., so I take that hour and sit in our comfy chair by the front porch, with my dog at my feet and everything turned off except a string of Christmas lights, and I’ll just listen to some classical music and the rain. I love that time to just be quiet, rub my preggo belly, and enjoy just being for a while.

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On Thursday, we’ll have another doctor’s visit, where hopefully (fingers crossed!) we’ll finally find out if the baby is a boy or girl. I can’t wait! Let’s just hope the baby isn’t so shy this time around!

Well, that’s what’s going on over here. What’s happening with you?

 

 

How Pregnancy Changes The Skin I’m In

4 months preggo

Before I became pregnant, I don’t think I had much of an idea of what happens to your body in pregnancy. You get bigger, you get crazy cravings and eat more, and might have to throw up in the mornings. I think that’s all I thought happened.

{Insert a long stream of slightly manic laughter here.}

While I seem to have lucked out on the whole morning sickness thing, my body is changing faster and in more myriad ways than Aladdin’s Genie let out of the lamp Robin Williams style.

First, I got the dry skin. I seemed to be trying to compete with the Lubriderm gator. So I started putting lotion all over. Until I noticed that every time I did, I’d suddenly break out with an unsightly body pimple somewhere. So I stopped with that.

Then I got the dry eyes and had to start putting in eye drops.

Then there’s the stretch marks. Not on my belly. On my boobs.

Then my nails started growing three times as fast as normal. I’d scratch an itch (see dry skin above) with my suddenly uber-long witch nails, and break out in a mini rash.

Thankfully I work (*smirk* there’s an overstatement, when in the first trimester I could barely stay upright) mostly at home so I can hide the fact that I now find underwear supremely irritating.

Sleeping on my left side is good for my growing belly, but now I wake up with numb hips and pins & needles.

Speaking of that growing belly, it was growing at a nice, steady, slow pace right in line with what the doctor recommended during the first trimester. Second trimester hit and suddenly I’m clocking in a new number every time I get on the scale (which, admittedly, is less frequently these days because, heck, I gotta’ hold on to some scrap of sanity).

Apparently, there’s supposed to be some sort of pregnancy glow? All I know is I’ve had to switch to a super mild face cleanser and then follow it up with a super strength moisturizer strategically placed on certain spots on my face, since spreading it across my whole face makes me break out.

Add to all this, chronically sore feet, a complaining bottom & back, constant trips to the bathroom (all pee and no poo), cravings for sweets that I now find too sweet so that I end up having to bake them myself with a third of the sugar (Toby doesn’t mind this part because I’ll eat maybe three of the cookies, and he gets the rest) and cravings for steak (which is really expensive here, and normally I don’t eat much red meat), crying at the slightest provocation, and throw in a little bit of hot season so I sweat all the time and need more A/C than my husband wants to have, and it’s like: Who AM I? Where did my body go?

To cope, I now have a full skin regimen every time I get out of the shower. I apply a tiny bit of Bio-Oil to my boobs (I don’t know if this will help with the stretch marks, but it does smell nice and make my skin soft, so for $10 I consider that a win). Then comes tummy butter for my tummy, hips, and butt. Aquaphor strategically placed on the very dry or itchy patches of skin, rather than all over. Baby powder on my inner thighs to reduce the sweat. H20 moisturizer spot-placed on my face. Aveeno lotion spot-placed on semi-dry patches of skin. And occasionally at night, Burt’s Bees coconut oil foot creme on my toes & heels.

I’m pretty sure I smell like a pharmacy. Or at least the beauty section of CVS. And I have to trim my nails every five days or so.

Oh, and in addition to dryness, my eyes started getting more sensitive to direct sunlight, so now sunglasses are a must when I go out. I think I’ve officially become Thai now too, because I’ve started carrying an umbrella for sunny days. (What? It keeps the sun off.)

There are a bazillion articles on how to “get your body back” after pregnancy – most of which seem concerned with erasing any sign of pregnancy as quickly as humanly possible to become fitter than you were, with firmer boobs and younger more nubile skin than you had before getting knocked up, like there is some ideal version of you, and as Kate from Eat the Damn Cake observes, whatever ideal that is, it’s probably not the body you have right now.

But the thing is, as much as I jest and kvetch about my changing body, I’m also kind of proud of it. Though sometimes I feel like a little alien has taken over (which, let’s face it, is kind of true – I mean, for crying out loud, if you don’t get enough of a certain nutrient, the baby takes it first, so if you don’t get enough calcium, the baby will suck it up, leaving you with rotted, decaying teeth and osteoporosis), I’m thrilled to be the party host. While I don’t always recognize my body anymore, and new changes spring upon me almost daily, it doesn’t mean I want the old me back. Because the old me didn’t have this little one who dances around doing somersaults and waves at us in ultrasounds. I don’t want to be who I was before, because, before, I didn’t have another tiny heart beating inside. I don’t care if I bounce back tight as a virgin three months after the baby comes, because these rounder breasts and hips are proof I bore life separate from mine. Stretch marks aren’t unsightly. They’re reminders that I became something more than just me. I put on the cream less from vanity and more just to keep my skin supple and smooth, to match the calmness I feel inside. I don’t want to erase that.

I don’t want to erase the fact that I am becoming a mother.

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