let the festivities begin!

i'm not much of a halloween person, but the boys sure do enjoy it.

last night we headed off to J&D's house for a kid-friendly halloween party. J&D are probably the hippest people we know, but soooo down-to-earth and fabulous with kids. they don't have any kids of their own, yet they host wonderful parties for the little ones.

they had jack-o-lantern carving, cookie baking, movie watching, mac-n-cheese eating, craft making, and lots of picture taking activities waiting for us. we also got to see the boy's friend, C, who was an absolute doll dressed up as dorothy (her mom was glinda). the two of them are just a couple months apart in age and play so well together (maybe because they only see each other four or five times a year). it's always sweet to see two kids who just naturally click regardless of how long it's been since they last saw each other. and, to think when they were infants the boy was deathly afraid of C!

the boy went in his darth vader costume, and who should be there but a doggie version of princess leia. so, of course, we had to snap this picture! it kinda made me laugh that the dog was a boy and its danish-hair wig kept falling off.

tomorrow the boy's school has a halloween parade around the block and then he's off with JR (dressed as obi wan) to go trick-or-treating with some friends. i'll probably join them for a little while and then head home to pass out candy ... unless, of course, the girl decides she wants to be a halloween baby!


still nothin'

since i'm just sitting around waiting for the baby to come (my prediction was obviously wrong) i decided to finish up the applique for the boy. the cloud on the left still has to be completely stitched on, but it's pretty much done. i'm going to sew the entire thing on to the front of a canvas tote bag i bought to use as an overnight bag for when the boy goes to spend the night at his grandparents' house while JR and i are at the hospital.

i splurged and bought all kinds of new stuff for the boy to put in his overnight bag. it's kind of a "you're the special big brother" bag. i got him some new clothes, pj's, star wars underwear, a toothbrush, books, a bionicle, that sort of thing. i hope he likes it!


how can that be?!

despite crampiness and considerable discomfort last night, an internal exam this morning by my ob showed absolutely no progress in the baby-birthing department. the cervix was closed for business.

frankly, i'm suprised. i thought that by now i'd be at least a little bit dilated. it's not real pain, per se, but i'm feeling all kinds of stuff that i don't recall feeling with the boy. it just may be that my body went through some changes after the first birth and is now allowing me to experience a different kind of 9th month pregnancy. like my pelvis, for example. it hurts all the time -- when i walk, when i sit, when i get up, when i lie down, when i stand. is it going to continue hurting this badly when i'm actually going through labor? if so, this birth will not be so pleasant. (is it ever?)

perhaps i should rethink my prediction of when the girl will be born ... although, once the contractions actually start, she could come pretty quick. an acquantaince suggested i drink lots of raspberry tea to speed up the process. she got this advice from a friend in london, where, apparently, it's a very popular method.

but then i was reading a post about a pretty horrible birth on a medical school student's blog, which was almost disturbing. i know these kinds of births are rare, but still, you don't want to know about them right before your due date!

p.s. one piece of good news: i actually lost some weight! it's not unusual for weight gain to stop or decrease at this point, but it didn't happen with the last pregnancy so i'm quite thrilled! one less pound to worry about post-pregnancy.


i'm taking predictions

since yesterday i've been feeling pretty crampy and the braxton-hicks contractions seem to be coming a little more intensely. it may just all be in my head because i'm so anxious for the girl to be born, but if she's 10 days early like the boy was it wouldn't be odd for the first phase of contractions to start right about now.

so, anyone want to make predictions on when she'll arrive? here are the predictions from our family:
me and the boy: this saturday, october 29
JR: either this week or the week of november 14

the name game

we've had a name picked out for the girl for a long time. in fact, it's the name my parents were going to use for me, and it's the name we were going to use for the boy if he was a girl. it's a name we're very much set on, and we love it, because it works in english and japanese, is unique enough but not totally out there, and has a relevant story behind it (which i'll talk about in another post).

now comes the hard part: what to do about her middle and last names. JR's family is jewish so they use the baby's deceased great-grandparents' names as middle names. hence, the boy's middle name is JR's paternal grandpa's name (which, luckily enough, had a japanese equivalent). now, we could use JR's paternal grandma's name as the girl's middle name. but JR has two younger siblings and three cousins who could also potentially use the name for their future children. i personally don't think we need to feel obligated to use the name just because we're the first to have kids. granted, the name goes pretty well with the girl's first name, but i'd like to honor my heritage as well. you know, to make it fair. after all, she's my kid too.

so i had an idea. JR, of course, shot it down and said it was crazy. but hear me out, folks. what if we used JR's last name as her middle name, and then used my last name (i kept my maiden name)? the girls in the family would have the same last name and the boys would have the same last name. but just so people wouldn't get too confused, the girl would still have the identifying mark of her father's last name as her middle name. and i would have the joy of having a child with my name. and, who knows, when she gets married she may choose to keep her maiden name and allow my last name to be used for at least another generation. that would mean something to me, especially since my biological father lost his only son and wouldn't have anyone else to continue the family name. it's an idea, don't you think?


nagging question at 3:30am

how is it that one person (i.e., me) can produce so much gas and mucus?!

if my car ran on my kind of gas instead of petroleum gas i'd be able to drive everywhere for free. seriously. it's that bad.


another week gone by

[edited: monday, october 24]

the days seem to be passing quickly and i'm down to 17 days before my due date. that seems awfully soon, but not soon enough.

i've been keeping myself busy by doing some more applique (pictures to follow once it's completed), thinking about future sewing projects (my current "obsession"), and getting things ready for the baby on occasion. and our weekend schedule is quite full since we're trying to cram a lot into our last few free days.

i started off this weekend by going out to brunch with my friend AY and her son D (that's them in the picture) at s&w country diner in culver city. i indulged in some good ol' southern food while swapping birthing and child-rearing stories with AY. gosh, i like her. after parting from their company i went to a scrapbook store down the street from s&w and bought a few sheets of pretty paper, even though they're totally overpriced. they were just so pretty!

tomorrow we're off to the natural history museum in the morning to see the "collapse?" exhibit with our friends R and A. we've been planning this museum excursion for months and we're just now getting around to it.

[the exhibit was actually pretty lame. i found the museum website's information on the exhibit just as informative as the actual thing. there just wasn't a lot to it. however, the fossils were good, as always. the boy took the blurry picture of R next to a triceratops donation box the boy affectionately dubbed "the vault."]

afterwards, JR and the boy are off to the ucla-oregon state football game at the rose bowl. no way in hell i'm going to that. instead, i plan to do some sewing and eating at my mom's house.

sunday will be just as busy. we have to get the boy registered for t-ball and then i plan to see my baa-chan, my grandma on my dad's side, since i won't be able to see her for awhile after having the baby (she's in a retirement community and doesn't travel well).

then the boy has a soccer game at 4; he's going to be exhausted and cranky, but hopefully that won't deter him from playing offense again this week (ever since the ball in the face incident he's preferred to play defense near the goal).

[the boy had a fabulous soccer week. he played offense, ran back and forth on the field numerous times at top speed, chasing the ball and kicking it. he also made a goal!! well, almost ... it hit the goal post and bounced towards the net, and then his teammate nudged it in. he's finally gotten over his fear of the soccer ball and seems to be enjoying himself.]

right after that we're off to dinner with my folks at a wonderful little french restaurant in little tokyo.

so, where in this schedule is there time to pick out paint for the girl's room and patch up the gigantic holes in the wall?? someone, please tell me!


what exactly are my priorities?

i'm not exactly sure at the moment. i think, maybe because i'm getting a bit anxious about the baby coming, my mind is totally frazzled. i should be worried that the baby's room is not ready and probably has to be painted. i should be worried that i haven't washed the baby's clothes yet or bought any diapers. i should be worried that i'm not totally packed for the hospital.

instead, i'm worried that i haven't finished embroidering the initial on the girl's birdie applique. i'm worried that i won't finish the chick & hen applique i'm making for the boy. i'm worried that i haven't started prepping the girl's birth announcements (some of you may not know but, as a side business, i make stationery).

i guess my nesting instincts are more about crafting than actually preparing for the baby.

JR and i were chatting before bed the other night about what special things we can do for the boy after the baby is born. we're kinda concerned about him feeling neglected/left out, especially since his 5th birthday is coming up in mid-november. we don't want that special occasion to be eclipsed by the girl's birth. as it is, JR already feels like he's doing more for the girl than the boy because he has to spend so much of the weekend preparing for the baby instead of playing ball with the boy. while JR's toiling away in the garage and moving furniture, the boy is often playing soccer or football in the backyard by himself. i think it hurts JR that he can't spend what little time he has on the weekend with his son.

i feel the same way. i feel wrong, after all these years of having just the boy, doing things for the girl first. and i don't want to make something for the girl without making something for the boy. i don't want to buy tons of cutsie baby clothes for the girl when the boy actually needs new clothes for the winter.

and, although i want things to be balanced and fair, i know that in reality it's not going to be that way for awhile. the girl is going to require much more attention in the beginning and the boy is going to suffer the consequences. i just don't want my "first baby" to feel like we don't love him or that he's not special to us, because he is soooo special to us.

so, a question to all those parents with more than one kid: what do you do to make all of your children feel like they have a special place in the family?


uncooperative, but healthy, child

the ultrasound of the girl showed she was growing just fine; she's currently weighing in at about 6 pounds, which would make her bigger than the boy if she gains half a pound a week like she's supposed to. phew! not that i was worried, but it was good to see things for myself. plus, JR came with me, which was nice since this is the first appointment he's been to.

we got a few minutes of video of her wriggling around, but she was pretty uncooperative. she had her hand in front of her face a lot of the time and then right after we put our video tape in, she decided to turn her back on us. so the technician only managed to get a picture of her foot. now at least we know she has one good foot! [sorry about the poor quality scan -- the foot is in the middle on its side with her itty bitty toes on the right.]


today is the start of week 37 of my pregnancy. only three more weeks to go; if the girl arrives early like the boy did, it could be as soon as two weeks. i'm getting a bit anxious. i now have constant heartburn (again), and indigestion, menstrual-like cramps, colostrum leaking, achy pelvis, exhaustion, general uncomfortableness ... you know, all that good jazz.

last night i woke up in the middle of the night because i have to constantly pee and couldn't get back to sleep. i decided to read up on the signs of labor (just in case) and, of course, that didn't help to put me to sleep. it only made me more anxious.

tomorrow morning JR and i are going to my ultrasound appointment to make sure the girl is growing all right. hopefully i'll have an image of her to upload afterwards. then on thursday i have my regular ob appointment, at which point dr. field may be able to reassure me that this girl ain't coming for awhile, or she's coming soon. i just want to know.

on a brighter note, my son read ten apples up on top! all by himself on the first try. it is an easy book, but he read the whole thing even though he got tired part way through it. it's an old copy from JR's collection, which we sorted through over the weekend. even JR, the not-so-prolific reader, has some childhood memories attached to certain books, this being one of them. it was cute to see him smile and reminisce as he went through his old books, and then to see him and his son reading his old book. awww!


feeling a bit creative

yesterday, after helping JR move some stuff into the garage and going through the boy's old clothes, i found myself with some time on my hands. and since JR was incredibly skeptical about me making anything for the girl's room, i decided to make something just to spite him.

i found an article in an old "martha stewart baby" magazine that had some cute farm animal appliques, and i figured, why not? i'm not particularly good with a needle and thread, so i did a felt applique instead (it doesn't require all of the prep work that applique with fabric that frays does). still, the handiwork isn't particularly good, so don't look too closely at the stitch work! but i did manage to applique the green grass, which is cotton -- turns out straight lines on fraying fabric are much easier to applique than curvy lines.

i plan to embroider the girl's initial above the chick and then put the whole thing in a small frame to decorate her wall.

as a total sidenote, we saw olympic ice skater michelle kwan at our local tj's, the second sighting this year! (she lives in a gated community nearby.)


working hard or hardly working?

yea, the weekend!

i think i got off to a good start today by getting some work done. i actually did some translating work, which i do on occasion; scrubbed the kitchen sink and counters; washed the dishes; folded a load of laundry; tidied (tidy-ed?) up just a bit; dealt with my weepy son who couldn't draw a dolphin; and talked with my in-laws when they came to pick up the boy for their weekly afternoon visit.

now that i've written down what i did today, it doesn't sound like i did much. but, sadly, this has been one of my more productive days. see, i told you i wasn't much of a housekeeper!

this weekend will require that i do more work than usual: the girl's room must come together, if only for the sake of JR's sanity (he stresses a lot). he plans to put the crib together and move the dresser from the boy's room to the girl's room (it has a changing table on top). that means i have to move more stuff into the garage, sort the boy's clothes from the dresser, and clean the floor in the girl's room.

i still don't think it's totally urgent to get the girl's room ready -- it's not like she's actually going to care what her room looks like for awhile, but it is better to get it done before she arrives. i know it'll get done; it's not that much more work. but the first thing my mother-in-law said when she walked into the room was, "oh my god!"

is it really that bad? c'mon, be honest with me!



i finished reading freakonomics last week. JR finished reading it awhile back and had mixed feelings about it. not that he's an economist, but JR has taken his share of econ classes and his work involves a lot of statistics and data, which the book deals with, so i think he found parts to be questionable. me, having also taken enough econ and stats classes during college but having never absorbed any of it, found the book more interesting. (have i ever mentioned how easily swayed i am by what i hear and read? JR calls me a marketer's dream.)

of course, i can see how difficult it would be to write an economics/stats book that's easily digestable by the general reading public and still be convincing to more academic types. but, in general, i thought it was a good, fun read and brought up some interesting topics to think about. (case in point, former secretary of education william bennett's "controversial" statement regarding abortion and the crime rate was triggered by a chapter in this book.)

i particularly thought chapter 5 -- "what makes a perfect parent?" -- would be of interest to readers of this blog. part of the chapter is based on a study called the early childhood longitudinal study, which was conducted in the late '90s and followed 20,000 elementary school aged children across the country. i don't want to get into the details of the study here because it could get long, but the data was subjected to a whole bunch of regression analysis to find correlations between the variables (a child's personal circumstances and his school performance).

in the end, based on the correlations, the authors say that the data, for the most part, show a student's success is more greatly influenced by factors which describe what the parents are rather than what they do. for example, the factor "the child has many books at home" is correlated with higher student test scores and the factor "the child's parents read to him nearly every day" is not.

it's kind of disturbing to read this because, as a parent, you hope that what you do for your child has some sort of influence on his success. in essence, this brings us back to the whole nurture-nature debate, which i still am sitting on the fence about. i look at my son and see the results of both his nature and our nurturing. but does our nurturing have a lot to do with our nature? hmm ... so much to think about.


i'm so proud

at school today the boy received a citizenship award for his class. granted, two kids from each class get selected each month, but i'm so happy that his teacher recognized him not only for academic achievement but also for getting along with his friends and classmates.

when i spoke to her a couple of weeks ago she was telling me what she noticed about the boy. she's noticed that he's not rambunctious like the other boys and will remove himself from situations where other kids are getting out of hand. she also said that even if other kids bother him, he tries not to tattle so as not get them in trouble. she just worries that because he's so mellow other kids might try to bully him (especially since he's small in stature too). i hope that i've given him the skills to deal with situations like that should they arise. but it's also reassuring to know that the teacher understands my child's personality. that makes such a difference in the classroom.


a year ago

[this is the long post i mentioned last week. it's not as long as i thought it would be because when i actually sat down to write it, the words just wouldn't come out. i have so much going on inside of me about this to this day, but i don't know if i'll ever be able to accurately express my feelings.]

as it says in my profile, my current occupation is "peggy hill" -- i'm a substitute teacher in the elementary grades. i enjoy it and i think i'm pretty good at it, too.

but before i became a sub, i worked in an elementary school for a couple of years. in the spring of 2004 i started to think about having a full-time career, and thought i would try my hand at being a teacher.

i applied to the credentialing/master's degree program at ucla. it's progressive, relatively close to my house, pretty cheap and a great program. well, i got wait-listed and then rejected. perhaps because my work experience hadn't been in urban education, which the program emphasizes greatly. who knows. so i was down for awhile, not knowing what i should do next.

then, lo and behold, i get a call from the university intern program at ucla asking me if i'd be interested in applying. i would start working immediately and take classes at night and on the weekend to get credentialed (the program takes about 2 years to complete). i jumped at the chance, thinking this would be the perfect way to get everything done at once while making a salary. so i interviewed, got accepted and started looking for a job at an urban elementary school. i called over 200 schools to see if they were hiring and faxed off dozens of resumes.

within a week or so i got an interview at two schools, one in watts (yes, the same watts that had the race riots in the '60s) and one in downtown los angeles. i don't want to mention the schools' names, so i'll just call the watts school, school X. the school X interview was first and it went really well. the principal was new, having just replaced the previous principal who retired. it was his first year as principal. he was enthusiastic about hiring me but told me to go home and think about it because the school's not in a good area. i left with a good impression of him and the school. as i was driving away i was already 85% decided that i was going to accept the position, even without interviewing at the other school. i honestly don't remember the discussion i had with JR that night about my decision. but i think my mind was already made up by that time, and i called the principal in the morning to accept the offer.

a few days of jumping through bureaucratic hoops at the district office followed, and then taking a week-long new teacher course before starting the extensive staff development they offer at school X. i was already very busy a month and a half before school was to start. there were about 12 other new teachers at school X that fall so we got to know each other pretty well as we tried to set up our classrooms, understand what it meant to teach at school X (there were some pretty stringent guidelines because school X is part of a special program run through the district), and running from staff development class to staff development class.

i was totally excited about this new step in my life. i was going to have my own classroom, my own "kids," i was going to make a difference.

then school started and everything fell apart. i was unprepared -- all that staff development hadn't done anything to truly prepare me for the reality of teaching in an urban school. i was used to something completely different and i panicked. but that's just an excuse. the bottom line is that i didn't prepare myself enough to handle the beginning of the school year in the proper way. i didn' t have a plan to set up routines and effective discipline, which these kids desperately needed. i totally started off on the wrong foot and it was extremely difficult for me to right that wrong.

goodness knows i tried to "start over." i tried so hard to find ways to get the kids to be successful. i sought help from my principal and instructional coach. i observed veteran teachers. i prepped at home from 4am until i left to go to work at 6:45 every morning, and stayed at school until 5. at that point i made myself go home to see my son. but the harder i tried, the more pressure i put on myself and the kids, and the more i felt like a failure. i was having anxiety attacks every morning, throwing up, not eating, and only being able to sleep when exhaustion took over. i was so frustrated and confused -- the more i tried the more i floundered.

and i was letting everybody down: my students, my principal, my family, myself. i wasn't able to give anything the proper amount of attention to do anything satisfactorily. at least, not to my standards. and that just added to the pressure.

and then i did the worst thing. i quit. i couldn't handle it well enough that i felt i would ever be successful. and i was truly neglecting my son and husband. JR knew it would be hard and he would have to pick up a lot of the slack around the house, but i just couldn't stand not being there for the boy. i didn't see him before leaving for work and when i picked him up from daycare at 5:30pm i was too tired to do anything fun with him. i fell on the couch and my mind was just mush, thinking about work, work, work -- how horrible the day was and the prep work i still had to do for the next day. the boy would ask me to play and i just couldn't. i was giving other peoples' children more attention than my own, and no job was worth that.

so i quit one month into school starting. i knew i disappointed a lot of people, and i felt horrible abandoning the students. but i also felt that, as first graders, they deserved a better teacher to get their elementary education started. it's the hugest failure of my life, but i don't regret the decision. i still believe i did the right thing in the long run, even though i quit so quickly. and, to be honest, i was kinda embarrassed that i couldn't cut it and quit like that. but i had my priorities and my reasons for doing so and i wasn't going to allow other people to make me feel bad about it.

i still think about the students (it's just recently that i've stopped thinking of them as "my kids") a lot, wondering how their year went. i still feel compelled to apologize to the principal repeatedly. i still think of how i could've done things differently. and i'm still afraid to commit to becoming a teacher. i still fear failure ... again.

in hindsight, i rushed into things without thinking through what it means to be an educator. i made a huge mistake by getting caught up in the excitement of having my own classroom, instead of focusing on what it means to be a truly good teacher. i've admired teachers always, but this experience has increased my admiration a hundred-fold. teachers aren't nearly respected enough, paid enough, or listened to enough.

and, one good thing has come of all of this: i was able to get pregnant with my second child because i wasn't working full-time. so maybe things work out the way they do for a reason ...


another small baby?

the boy was born 10 days early; he weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces, and measured 18.5 inches. not a very big baby. in fact, i was only in the delivery room for about 3 hours when he was born, and i wasn't pushing for very long either.

i'm hoping this one will be just as "easy" [note: childbirth is never easy]. after all, they do say subsequent births are faster and easier.

there were some small hints today that perhaps things will go well when the time comes. at my ob appointment i found out i've only gained about a pound in the last month (half a pound since my last appointment two weeks ago) and i'm measuring smaller than the number of weeks i'm pregnant. so the doctor ordered another ultrasound, which i will probably do next week. she's not really worried because i have another month until my due date, but just to be on the safe side. i don't mind at all having a small baby so i'm not particularly worried either. in fact, it'll be nice to get another ultrasound if they're going to give me a printout. i'd like to see what the little girl looks like at 37 weeks!

p.s. we also checked to make sure her head is down, which it is. she has a nicely shaped noggin. :)

my little sister

happy birthday, A!

my little sister turns 22 today. when i talked to her she said she felt old, but really, she's still just a kid. and she'll always be my baby sister, no matter how old she is.

have a fun birthday weekend, girlie! be safe. love you.


oops ... i did it again

if you know me, you know that i suffer greatly from an extreme case of know-it-all-ism. i truly cannot help chiming in with whatever tidbits i know, trying to finish people's sentences, and generally being annoying. well, my disease struck again today.

i went to the boy's school to volunteer this morning, completely forgetting there's a sub. i tried to be as deferential to the sub as i could be -- truly, i tried. i held my tongue for as long as i could but the poor sub (an older gentleman) didn't know the morning routine and the kids were just going bonkers trying to tell him what to do. the mom and substitute teacher in me just couldn't stand by and do nothing. so i started acting like a sub myself, telling the kids to behave and coming very very close to taking over the class.

the sub, mr. B, didn't seem overly bothered by my interruptions. after all, i know the kids a bit better and i've been around the classroom enough to know the routine. still, i felt bad doing it. but i also knew that if i didn't chime in there would be more confusion, talking, and unproductivity.

however, even i was a bit exasperated by my inability to control my teacher-ly instincts. i'm sorry.



i found the most adorable birdy cushion on lily's rooster's blog, which she made for her own baby. i couldn't resist and bought one for the girl's room since we're going with a chick/birdy theme. it arrived today and the boy and i are thrilled with it! not only is it gigantic and pink and soft, it's just sooooo darn cute!

lily's rooster was kind enough to make the boy a blue birdy snappy patch after i told her how much he looooooves birdies. he took the picture below to show his new little pal.

once the baby's room is in order i'll post some of the other chick/birdy stuff the boy and i have collected over the years.

oh yeah, check out lily's rooster's other merchandise at www.lilysrooster.com -- she makes some really cute bat totes that would be perfect for halloween!


coming to you live from the garage

the dismantling of the office/craft room continues. this past weekend JR removed all of the computer equipment from inside the house and set it up in the garage. it's kinda weird having to walk out of the house to check my email ... well, technically, we have a laptop we can use inside the house, but i like my big ol' desktop to go online. luckily, the wireless reaches out here so we haven't yet had any problems with the internet hookup. [cross fingers and knock on wood now.] with the computer being out here i have a feeling i won't be online as much, so the frequency of postings may also go down. we'll have to see ...

in other happenings, this past weekend we went to the hometown fair in manhattan beach, where JR and i grew up. i always get the gigantic bbq-ed turkey leg, but they didn't have the booth this year. bummer. instead i settled for funnel cake and a pepperbelly. i also finished reading jonathan safran foer's extremely loud and incredibly close. it was good and sad and interestingly written. and, i went out to lunch with my mom today. sushi -- yum! she's friends with the sushi chef so we get special treatment. i finished off the lunch with ice cream with homemade azuki (red bean). love that stuff, even more than ice cream with chocolate.

i'm also getting a long post ready for publishing sometime this week. stay tuned!