Tuesday, March 25, 2008

playing with baby

I've been feeling this little one inside me move for a few weeks now. Sporadically, not every day, but it's there. Mostly it feels like gas, or like there's corn popping in my tummy. Kind of like when you're stopped at a light behind one of those shiny black Escalades with too many speakers, and you can't really hear the music so much as feel it "boom boom boom" right in your gut.

Today I was able to play with the baby. *kick* What's this? *poke* What do you think of that? *kick kick* Okay then, *poke poke* and so on. DH came home and saw me on the couch with a bemused look on my face, poking my stomach. "Uh, what are you doing?" I told him to give me his hand, pressed it against my tummy, and told him to wait. *kick*

You should have seen the look on his face. =) This is the first time he's been able to experience something like this. I've been feeling it for weeks, he felt it for the first time tonight.

He waited for more, but our kitty suddenly got very jealous. She crawled up to where he was kneeling in front of me and bit his elbow, then rubbed against his hand and meowed pitifully. Someone wanted attention. The baby was done playing, so that was that.

Because of all we went through to get here, I am still nervous about this pregnancy. Not as intensely nervous as I was in the beginning, but when I don't feel the baby move for a day or so, I think the worst. And of course then I start to convince myself that maybe it WAS just gas.

But DH felt it too. It was repetitive, and today it was moving around.

There's a real live baby in there!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Gripe(s)

And now that I've gotten the sensitve family drama stuff out of the way, here's my gripe.

Somehow my family has gotten it in their heads that I don't or can't cook. Which is bullshit - I cook just as well as anyone else. Probably better than most of them. But you screw up one batch of something called "Fool Proof Fudge" and you get labelled for life. Never mind that it was in high school, more than 15 years ago.

I do have bad luck. Last year at Christmas (2006) I said, "Hey, let's fry a turkey!" DH decided to marinate it, my dad actually did the frying, and it turned out black. But I'm the one who got the credit for that one, even though all I did was float the suggestion. When I was in charge of frying the turkey the first time we did it, it turned out perfectly.

Anyway, because of this misperception that I can't cook, I am always asked to bring the salad. Sometimes the drinks, too. And the first year I made the mistake of making The Best Damned Salad Ever, just to spite them all. Well, that plan backfired, because now I'm asked, "Can you bring *your* salad?" And all the other cousins have staked their claims on the other holiday side dishes, things I could have fun with, like the sweet potatoes or the green beans or the rolls. I made these really yummy orange cranberry dinner rolls one year, and was told that they prefered those store-bought things instead, so now someone else brings the rolls.

Usually what we do is get a ton of different veggies and acoutrements for the salad, and put together a mini salad bar. Again, just for spite. You want a salad? You got it.

This year I was hot, and tired, and pregnant (which means I was cranky), so I just chopped everything big and threw it together. And you know what? I don't think anyone ate any of it. DH and I ate more of it when we got home than the entire family ate at the dinner.

Granted, there was drama at the dinner. And we do love salad. But still.

One of these days I may comandeer one of the "lesser" holidays, and show them just what I can do. With my luck, though, something will burn and THAT'S what everyone will remember, and talk about for years to come.

That, and three different people touched my belly. I actually told my sister to back off, I said "Don't touch." Her response? "I have to touch. I haven't seen you pregnant, I'm the aunt, I get to touch." Then she did it again!!! I 'bout smacked her upside the head. DH doesn't even touch uninvited. I mean, really, how would she have felt if I'd just grabbed her boob? It would have been about as appropriate as her touching my belly, especially after I asked her not to.

Seriously. What's wrong with people?

Easter Drama

Well Easter was eventful. Usually it isn't, not for us. My grandmother died about six years ago in April, and her birthday was in April, so we usually celebrated Easter and her birthday at the same time. When she died it just became too sad, and no one had the heart for it anymore. I've been doing Easter with my immediate family, but nothing like we used to do.

This year my aunt called up my dad and said, "It's time we do this again. My house, 4 o'clock, bring potato salad." I was asked to bring a green salad. But that's a different story.

My uncle had some health issues last week - had a tooth pulled, then his diabetes started acting up, and he collapsed in the driveway. He went to the hospital and spent about a week in the ICU because he'd hit his head when he fell. He got home Thursday, and my aunt was bound and determined that we were going to have Easter, come hell or high water. So we came.

I live in SoCal, and I hope I don't thoroughly piss anyone off when I say that it was easily over 90 degrees this weekend. Bright, sunny, and HOT. My aunt and uncle don't have air conditioning in their home, so when it was packed full of people... Well you can imagine just how stuffy it got. DH and I decided to eat out on the porch, where there was a slight breeze and some shade.

My uncle got up to get his food, had a siezure, and collapsed in the hall. My dad and aunt were standing next to him, so my dad grabbed his head and they eased him to the floor. It didn't last long, and he was coherent and talking again within minutes. But he kept saying, "I'm fine, what's going on? I'm just fine, nothing's wrong. Why am I on the floor?" Obviously disoriented, as is to be expected. My mom called 911, the paramedics and firemen came (much to the great excitement of my 3-year-old cousin), and I just stayed out of the way.

My uncle was able to walk out of the house on his own, they strapped him into the wheely-cart-thingy, loaded him up, and took him to the hospital. My aunt rode with him, my mom drove behind in my aunt's car, chicken leg in hand since we hadn't eaten yet. That, too, is another story.

He's fine, apparently. His magnesium was low, and they said it was probably heat stroke. He's staying in the hospital for a few more days.

But it was quite upsetting. My cousin was very upset, came out to the porch after the ambulance left and sat next to me. He had gotten into it with his brother, who I love dearly but is an ass. This cousin of mine is in his 40s and getting married in June, and I didn't say it and he didn't say it but I could tell he was wondering if his dad was going to make it. His brother kept saying, "Eh, people get sick. Big deal. You could get cancer, you never know. All you can do is eat right and live right." Not exactly comforting in that moment.

I asked him if he needed a hug, and he just leaned against me, just about in tears. I hugged him and told him not to talk to his brother for the rest of the day. He was really shook up, especially when he started to find out the degree of disrepair the house was in. His brother lives there with his parents, but (a) there was not a single smoke detector in the house. The brother's defense? "Why do we need one, none of us smokes." (I should mention this is a grown adult.) The firemen gave him one and insisted he take it, and were very clear that they needed to get a few more. And (b) the garbage disposal and half the plumbing in the sink don't work at all. Haven't for years. No one realized before, because my aunt always did the cleanup herself. Little things like that, but they added up to a bit "what the hell?!" moment for my cousin.

So that was my first Easter with the extended family since my Grandmother - the matriarch of the family and my last living grandparent - died.

I was glad to get home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

mini updates

Went to urgent care the next day, when my headache was so bad that it was making me sick to my stomache. I checked out just fine, the doc told me to go home and go to bed. So I did. I felt much better yesterday, and today I'm mostly just fine. Still have the remnants of a headache, and there's a little scrape on my nose, but otherwise all other signs of my oh-so-traumatic event are gone.

Work is lovely here in the nice showroom. I'm about a block from the beach - which I was before, but it was a block behind me and I can actually see ocean from my window. And I have a window. People here are nice. They're asking me to work more than I was told I would, because they really are busy and like what I do. The head designer handed me a kitchen to design, "See what you can do with this. I'm presenting it Thursday." He liked my work, just wanted to add a detail to the crown molding. I feel appreciated and respected. I forgot that I could feel like that at work.

I have an interview Friday. It's for a commission-only job, but they estimate an earning potential of more than three times what I'm making now. They have tons of leads in my area, and it sounds like I'd be pretty much setting my own schedule and pace. Which could be great when Baby G is here.

I've been cooking and freezing. I didn't manage to do the Once A Month thing, but I've been using recipes from 30 Meals In One Day. I cook whatever's up on the list next, and it's usually a serving size of 8. We use half for dinner and leftovers, I freeze the rest. So far I have a Lasagne, Calico Beans, Cream Cheese Chicken, and Chicken Enchiladas. I figure there's enough frozen for 1-1/2 to 2 weeks. Not a bad start. I'm actually enjoying this, and if I do end up really working part time then I will have more time to cook and store. I feel like the ant, getting ready for winter. Homey. Nesting and that sort of thing. It's nice.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

raccoon face

I managed to give myself two black eyes. 8(

We keep our wine bottles on top of our refrigerator. I didn't realize that my bottle of Grappa had worked its way to the front of the fridge, and when I opened the door it fell and smacked me square on the bridge of my nose with its big glass stopper. I yelped, and then cried, and DH came running to see what was wrong.

I just looked in the mirror, and sure enough, two dark purple smudges are starting to appear beneath my eyes. There's a scrape on my nose, and a huge bump where the bottle smacked me.

My biggest concern? What are people going to think of a pregnant woman walking around with two black eyes? No one buys the "I ran into a door" excuse these days, though basically that's what happened - I was careless and hurt myself. It was stupid, too, that damn bottle has fallen a couple of times already, but I keep putting it back.

It's silly to worry about this sort of thing. Anyone who knows me knows that if DH even thought of lifting a hand to me, I'd tie his balls into a knot and then kick him to the curb. If I let him live at all. Not that he'd even think of such a thing, he's just not wired that way.

My face hurts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

having The Talk

So boss man called me yesterday to ask me what the implications of my empty desk are. He wasn't upset, more "I know you wanted to talk to me in person, I'd really like you up in the other studio tomorrow, but I noticed your desk was cleaned out and I'm not sure what the implications of that are..." I told him I'd be more than happy to come up here again tomorrow, and I could briefly outline what I wanted to talk about over the phone if he wanted. So I told him that I loved it up here, and it just really made me realize I couldn't return to the other showroom again. He didn't sound surprised at all, and was very sympathetic. I think it will be good for him to have time to think about it, let it be his idea.

The guy who runs the showroom here, J--, overheard the conversation, and told me that he really hopes I can come to work up here. That meant a lot to me. And he and boss man talk all the time, so I wouldn't be surprised if they talk about this tonight. J--'s really liked having me here - having competent help to actually get work done and be in the studio when he's out at jobsites, which is about 70% of the time. He also called boss man over the weekend to tell him that it was really helpful having me here last week, and could I come back this week. So now everyone here wants me here. And Coworker G doesn't want me there. And I want to be here, not there. It's pretty much unanimous.

Boss man tried to make all these excuses for not dealing with this situation sooner - family problems with his parents, his MIL, other stuff with the kids and grandkids, etc etc. I just didn't say anything. He finally said, "Well, those things always happen, and we definitely need to make time to sit down and talk this through with you." I wanted to talk to him alone, without boss lady, because she tends to get defensive and argumentative. But I should have known better than to think they'd do anything separate.

So I'm back up here in the nice showroom, leaving about 3:30 to meet them for coffee around 4:30. Hopefully it will go well, it seemed like he saw this coming and more than anything he's sad that he didn't do anything sooner. So we'll see.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

four months

I hate it when this happens. I had a post all written up, ready to publish. I was just going back, putting in a couple of links, and somehow managed to navigate away from the page. And now the entire entry is gone. I *hate* it when that happens!

OH WAIT! Yes! I forgot Blogger saves drafts! Bless it! Okay, here's the post, complete with links.

Boss man avoided me all day today. I left him three messages to see if we could meet first thing tomorrow morning, and he finally called back this evening. He's busy tomorrow, but he wants me in the other showroom anyway, so we'll hook up Tuesday. He asked if I wanted to talk about anything over the phone, and I said I'd rather speak face to face. We chatted for a bit about his trip and his parents and how the week went. It will be interesting to see if anyone there notices that my stuff is gone from my desk. I'd actually be surprised if they did. I mean, I had my eyebrow pierced about six months ago, and no one said a word about it. So we'll see.

In other thoughts...

In just under two months, I'm having a baby shower. Just two months after that, I'm having a baby.

I suddenly feel very much not ready for this. We really do need to get cracking, setting up a space for the baby and for all the stuff that tends to accompany the arrival of a baby.

I spent today organizing my office, putting together the new files for my new filing cabinet, cleaning and sorting. It looks like I haven't done a damn thing in here. But my files are pretty and organized and my old ugly filing cabinet is mostly empty. I feel like I've accomplished something huge.

I also did some site-hopping, and ended up on a site for Once A Month Cooking. Fascinating. I love to cook, but I hate my kitchen, so I don't cook as often or as well as I would like. And when this baby comes, I know I will be even less interested in standing over a stove. But DH does everything else around here - laundry, bills, kitty care, dishes. All I do is clean the bathroom (sometimes) and cook (most nights).

Every once in a while I cook up a double batch of whatever's for dinner, and freeze half for use later. I have one of those FoodSaver vacuum sealer things, and that helps a lot. More often than not, though, I use the extra food as leftovers the next night, because of the appeal of not having to cook again.

This OAMC thing, though, intrigues me. The gist is, you plan all your menu for an entire month, shop all at once (using coupons and sales to save money), and then have a Cooking Day. Cook and freeze, and you're set for a month.

I'm going to try this. I want to have a couple months' worth of food stored up by the time Baby G gets here. It would be nice to be able to just defrost and serve, instead of going through the mental excerise of figuring out what's for dinner, seeing what ingredients I need to pick up, and then assembling it all.

I figure I can try the OAMC technique, and then maybe use half the dinners that month and cook half of them fresh. That will still leave me with two weeks' worth of frozen dinners. Or still a month, if those dinners are large enough for leftovers the next night. Then I can do it again the next month, and stock up that way. Less effort from now 'til the baby comes, and food for after.

We'll see how it goes. First I have to clean out the freezer, create a workspace in the kitchen, and figure out the menu. I just got some new software from 30 Meals In One Day that should help with the menu and grocery planning. I've also stumbled upon coupons.com and frugalmom.net. Both are interesting sites for saving money and/or making money.

I'll let you all know how it goes.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

breaking up

I cleaned out my desk today. It only took two trips to the car. I left behind files I don't need, took ones I might need (such as those related to the web site, new technologies, the sort of thing no one there would even think to look in before calling me for answers). I backed up my work to use in a portfolio. Everything is tidy and neat.

It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but it was sad and it affected me for the rest of the day. I had a growing sense of melancholy on the way home. And I'm exhausted.

Why am I always fleeing from a bad job situation? If I'm not being laid off because of the market, or fired for some really stupid reason, I'm running away from a horrible situation. Granted, leaving due to stress over a bitchy coworker is nothing compared to removing myself from a place where someone wants to kill me, but still. It's distressing to me that I have never been able to leave a "real" job under happier circumstances. I start off happy. I truly believe in the companies I work for, I believe that THIS one will be different, THIS is a good job. Then I spend some time there, and it all starts to go downhill.

Maybe it's like breaking up, and there's no such thing as a good ending. Maybe I just have to keep looking for The One.

Or maybe I need to lower my standards. Maybe DH is right, and every job will eventually screw me. I just don't want to be quite that cynical.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Redemption, Shawshank or otherwise

One of the best movies ever made is The Shawshank Redemption. (Don't believe me? Look it up on IMDB.com.) In it, Tim Robbins plays Andy, a man who is wrongly convicted of a crime, and is sent to prison. There, he mets Red, played by Morgan Freeman. One of my favorite movie lines of all time is when they meet, and Andy asks Morgan Freeman's character why they call him Red. "It's because I'm Irish." He delivers the line as if it should have been obvious, but there's a twinkle in his eye that lets you know he's giving his new friend a hard time.

Towards the end of the movie, Red is released from prison on parole. He gets a job at a grocery store, bagging groceries. There is a moment when he flags down his manager to ask if he could have a short break to use the restroom. The manager looks at him and tells him that, if he has to go, just go. He doesn't have to ask for permission.

As Red is narrating this event in his life, he says, "Forty years I been asking permission to piss. I can't squeeze a drop without say-so."

Now, there's a reason why I'm telling you this. For the past eight months, I've been working in an environment where my every move is watched. All of my work is scrutinized, by someone who is never happy unless the work is done how she would do it, when she would do it. I can not make a move - any move - without facing criticism and scorn, even if the move was one I was supposed to make, and was executed perfectly.

For the past three days, I have been working in an environment where I am respected and liked. I am seen as competent, and the work I am given isn't so much as glanced at when I am done. I have the perogative to make decisions, even though this isn't my usual environment and I don't quite know how things are done here. Not once has someone asked me, "What are you working on over there?" If they don't have something they need help on, they assume that I am grown up enough to find something that needs doing.

And yet, I find that I am questioning myself. Did I do that right? Is it okay to tell a client this? Maybe someone should look this over, just in case... Thing is, what I do for a living is as natural to me as going to the bathroom. But because of how I've been treated for the past several months, I started to lose confidence in my ability.

Truth is, I am a damn good designer. I am good at my job, I am good with clients, and I am good with vendors. I know what I'm doing. I'm qualified, certified, and experienced. The only things holding me back from finding better work is the current housing market, and my growing baby belly. But I am valuable, and an asset to any company that is smart enough to bring me on board.

Having experienced an evironment like this, is it any wonder that I am unwilling to go back to "prison?" Now, Red took it even further. Jumped parole, left the country, and spent the rest of his days on a tropical beach with Andy, running boats and living completely free.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

gender issues and job woes

So first of all, my last u/s had added nothing but confusion to the mix. Of course, after I finally bought my first romper in blue, the tech at my very next u/s told me that she's "not at all convinced" it's a boy, and "it looks remarkably like a girl" to her. But she wasn't sure. I'm not sure I buy it - that first tech was pretty darned certain. And girls have been known to be shy. I think DH and I are going to break down and do one of those fancy-schmancy 4D u/s thingies, see if we can get a definite reading.

And now for something completely different.

I am so fed up with my job, I just decided for sure today that I'm not going back. I've spent the past two days working in our second showroom, and it's been absolutely delightful. I'd forgotten how much I love my job, and why I stayed here for so long. I'd forgotten how nice the day can be when passed in the company of people who actually like me, appreciate my work, and speak to me.

But lately, when I go to work at my usual showroom, I wake up with a pit of dread in my tummy. My head hurts, my stomach hurts, my sciatica acts up. I can't sleep, I have a hard time eating, I'm crabby and short tempered and my attitude just plain sucks. I have this continuous internal monologue, snarky and mean, and I'm honestly scared that I'm going pull an Austin Powers and start narrating it out loud.

I know that a lot of this could potentially be chalked up to "she's pregnant, duh!" But consider this - I feel just fine on the weekends. And these past two days, I've had none of these problems. Well, except the sciatica, but on a much lesser scale. And I've had stairs to contend with!

They want me back at "my" showroom on Friday. I'm not going. I'm just flat out not going back. I don't have it in me. I can't do it for them, I can't even do it to placate my husband anymore. He's 'bout the only reason I've been going at all for the past two months. But I physically can not do it anymore.

My plan. I'm going to call in "sick" on Friday. And I'm going to schedule an early morning meeting, preferably before work even starts, on Monday with the boss-man. Boss-lady is optional, I have a feeling I'll get further with just him. And I'm going to cry, and tell him just how miserable I've been. I'm not planning on manufacturing tears, mind you - I'm just going to let him see just how distraught and upset I really am about all of this. I've been crying at home for weeks now, and work is the main cause, so let him deal with a sobbing pregnant woman for a change. DH has done more than his share of that.

I'm going to lay it on the line. He can either transfer me to the other showroom on a permanent basis. Or he can let me go. Because I can't give him the work he needs out of me. My coworker has won. I can not rise above her pettiness and sabotage. I'm too busy using all my energy to keep me and my baby healthy and safe.

I'm going to use my time off on Friday wisely, too. I'm going to call EDD and find out a few things - can I collect unemployment if I quit because I've basically been harassed out of a job, and The Powers That Be haven't done anything about it? I'm pretty sure the answer there is "Hell Yes!" Can I switch to disability when time comes to give birth? Or do I actually have to be employed at the time? And once disability runs out, can I switch back to unemployment? Or am I better off calling my doctor, crying to him and letting him know how stressed I am right now, and asking him to put me on early disability?

Because let's face it, even if the market in my field didn't completely suck right now, and there were jobs aplenty to go around, who is actually going to hire a woman five months pregnant? Yes yes, I know there are laws and all of that. But laws have loopholes, and this one is as simple as "We didn't find you to be a good fit for our company." So really, who's going to hire me at this point? I'm pretty much screwed until (a) this baby comes, and (2) the market changes.

(I'm also taking time on Friday to finalize my claim for this class action lawsuit that might possibly mean I get all my tuition back from when I went back to school a few years ago. That would solve quite a few problems for me as well, including my agreement with DH that I work until my student loans are paid off.)