The Road to Baby B.

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Sitting here on the couch rubbing the rump of my unborn baby as it pokes into my stomach lining I am contemplating how we got to where we are.

I was never one of those women who like OHMYGODIHAVETOHAVEABABYNOW! I honestly feel like I could have lived out the rest of my childless days feeling content and fulfilled with my life. For the majority of my years if you asked me if I was going to someday be a mother I would probably respond, “Eh. Probably not.” But I wasn’t opposed to babymaking either. I just wasn’t certain it was in the cards. My husband, on the other hand, has serious baby lust. When he encounters a baby he can’t take his eyes off him. He loves to make faces, tell stories and do whatever possible to make a baby smile. I love that about him and didn’t want to deny him the experience of fatherhood. So, at the ripe age of 38, last spring we decided it was now or never and started making preparations  to bring our own little one into our lives:

Step 1:  Quit smoking.

Mission accomplished! After nearly 25 years of smoking I let the bad habit go 0n March 1, 2012. It wasn’t easy, but I attacked my mission with a plan. I gave myself 30 days to get used to the idea and enjoy my last few packs and then on the appointed day I quit. No drugs, no patches. But a round of laser acupuncture to help with the side effects certainly didn’t hurt. I just completed my first-year smoke free and I have to say I am more than a little proud that I’ve made it this far. But I won’t lie to you…. I miss it every day.

Step 2: Get pregnant.

Check! On August 1st I got the big happy smile on the take home test. That night I put the test and a bun in the oven for Damir to discover. Here’s a short look at his reaction to finding out I am pregnant (note: not WE. WE are not pregnant)


Step 3: Figure out how we are going to physically and financially fit a baby into our lives.

This is still being worked on. Our cozy little home is only a large studio and we’ll be living here until at least August when our lease is up. What happens from that point on depends on several variables we still have to work out. Will we move back into our other, larger, apartment where currently my inlaws are living (sans inlaws, naturally)? Will we rent something else a little bigger? Will we just stick it out and stay cozied up where we are cramped but happy? I will have to get back to you on that. The uncertainty is worrying, no… that’s not true. The uncertainty is slowly driving me to the brink of insanity, but I have to blame nesting instincts gone wild for that.

There’s still so much to do and figure out (hello, Daycare?) but I am confident it will all work out. At least that’s the mantra I am repeating to myself day after day.

Condiment Confrontation

A few months ago Damir and I got into a massive fight about garlic mayonnaise. It’s funny how something so innocuous can be the catalyst for such an explosion of emotions.

Months before this fight we were out to dinner somewhere and Damir asked for some garlic mayonnaise for his french fries; a European predilection he can’t leave behind, not that I blame him. Garlic mayo and french fries are a magical combination and for anyone who solely relies on ketchup as their dipping sauce of choice, I strongly urge you to try this out. Anyway, he asked for it and the waiter went into the kitchen and the chef made it special just for Damir. He was delighted.

Now he asks for it wherever he goes when getting fries with his meal. And this drives me crazy. The problem, my problem, is that often they won’t have it and the chef isn’t so nice as s/he was at the other place. And then Damir is sad. At least, that is my perception. I always cringe when he asks for it.

Returning to the night in question, Damir asked for the garlic mayo and the waiter didn’t have it. Damir had been cranky all night and looked dejected when the waiter wouldn’t even ask the chef. For some reason, this caused me to either roll my eyes or make a noise that was the equivalent of rolling my eyes. As much as Damir’s requests for special waiter favors drives me crazy, my reaction to his request drove him twice as nuts.

And then things spiraled quickly downhill. A very rocky unhappy slope. The argument didn’t last long, but it was definitely one of the few low points of our 5 year relationship.

I mentioned this altercation to my mom the other night while having a general discussion about the difficulties of marriage. She asked me, “Why do you care?” Good question. I never thought about it. Why? Why should I care if he gets his first choice of sauces? It doesn’t effect my personal enjoyment of the meal. The best I could come up with is that I hate that he asks for special favors and also hate to see him disappointed. I feel as though it’s MY fault they don’t have the garlic mayo, especially if I picked the restaurant. I feel responsible for his disappointment.

Which is totally stupid and irrational.

So after this conversation with my mom the other night, Damir and I talked about it. What’s funny about it is that he admitted to feeling equally uncomfortable when I do things like as for a room or seat upgrade when we travel, which I do whenever possible. Or when I send a dish back that isn’t to my liking. But he decides just to sit back and let me do my thing and not worry about it. I need to follow that lead. How is asking for a special sauce any different than asking for a special seat?

Mom was saying to me that one of the biggest challenges of marriage is understanding that the things that drive you crazy in your partner are a reflection in some way of your own issues. That you need to look at your gut reaction and examine it to see what is the true root cause of the negative response.

I don’t know entirely what the answer is here, but I am certain it’s not about condiments.

Kitchen Confidential

Now that the blog is back up and running I find myself struggling what to write. Not that I can’t think of anything to write about– quite the opposite. I want to tell you about my quick Christmas trip to Boston, the lamest of lame New Year’s Eve and marriage lessons from an unexpected source. I also want to write about the daily experience as well, and maybe that’s as good a place to start as anywhere else.

Right now I am writing on my lap top sitting on my bed in my room that’s about 12’x12′. My in-laws are in their perennial spots on the couch in the living room watching Spanish TV. No, they don’t speak Spanish. They don’t speak English either so I suppose a Spanish channel makes as much sense as an English one, but still that makes me laugh. The other night my father in law was watching TV in Chinese. I have no idea what he was getting from it; I don’t expect a trip to Beijing is in the cards for them anytime soon.
Damir is at his cousins’ who live around the corner watching some football.
I am super hungry, being 8:45pm and well past dinner time, but I haven’t yet found the strength to venture to the Dreaded Kitchen. The kitchen is disputed territory in our home. I have conceded the living room and the dining room, but the kitchen still remains hotly contested. Yes, I have considered putting a hot-pot, mini-microwave and fridge in our small bedroom to make the kitchen obsolete entirely, but let’s face it: one cannot live on ramen and cheetos alone. Or so my doctor says. So I continue to fight the good fight. Well, of course I am exaggerating. There is no fighting, it’s more of a tug of war. But war, yes, yes it is.
Exhibit A: Small.
The main problem is that our kitchen is super small, clearly designed by a man who never cooked a meal in his life, and really only one person can cook at a time. I have been patiently waiting for my in-laws to finish dinner so I can go in and cook in peace without getting in anyone’s way or anyone else getting into my way. Even when Damir and I cook a meal together we are bumping and shoving each other (with love) to get what we need. 
My mother in law is a great cook, no doubt about it. And she cooks a lot. No cookbooks, no ready-to-eat. She makes good stuff all from scratch. Every week there is fresh bread she has baked. Right now (I moved and now writing in the kitchen for inspiration) I am staring into a bowl of doughnut concoctions that she made a few hours ago. Diet? Huh? Everything she makes is traditional Yugoslavian… stuffed cabbage leaves, meat pies, meat stews, meat casseroles. Lots of meat. But hearty, flavorful food. That takes forever to cook. Hence, when she is home she is constantly cooking. This is a problem for me, though I like what she makes, I want to make my own stuff too. I actually like to cook.
When I moved in I brought all of my kitchen utensils and tools with me. And most of it remains down in the basement except for a few critical pieces, since they had most of it here already. But for some reason my stuff that did make it into the home frequently gets broken or goes missing. I am not sure why… if it is purely accidental or a form of covert warfare. But it drives me crazy that it seems like the things I bring into the house are not wanted. That’s my perception, but I have no evidence to say that it’s 100% true.
That brings us to the story of the two microwave ovens.
Microwave A and B
When I moved in the family had a older small microwave oven (the one on the right above). It didn’t work so well, but well enough. Cooking options were limited with just one heat setting and a timer on a dial. Yes, I use the microwave liberally. It’s useful when I get home from work so late to pop in a burrito or lean cuisine for dinner. So this past summer Damir and I made a trip to BJs for some staples and see these great microwaves on sale with lots of bells and whistles. So on a whim we bought it and brought it home. We dismantled the old microwave and put it to the side until we could take it out to the trash. 
The new microwave arrived with much fanfare. We showed his parents– look what we got for the Dreaded Kitchen! Showed them the basics and moved on. 
Fast-forward a few hours. In my bedroom I am getting ready to go somewhere and my ears perk up to hear a funny sound. What was that? Was that… was it? The old microwave’s done chime? No, it couldn’t be. We got a NEW microwave. How could I possibly hear the old one’s chime of done-ness? Surely I was hearing things. 
But no. I peaked into the kitchen and see the old one stacked up next to the new one, as it still lies today in the photo above. My mother-in-law quietly reinstated the old beast of a microwave when I wasn’t looking. In protest of the new? Out of confusion of how the multitude of buttons work on the new one? In an effort to shun anything I bring into our home? I don’t know the reason. And I never asked. I just let it be. Though every time I look at it I think it is mocking me.
One of the big lessons I have learned since moving here is that there are some fights that just aren’t worth fighting for. Everything doesn’t have to be done my way.

Settling In.

On the one hand, being home and newly married has been great. But in reality, not at all different. The biggest change since coming home is that Damir started summer semester which has him in class until about 10pm four nights a week. I miss my husband!
A lot of people are asking me if things will change with his folks now that we are married; if they’ll go back to Montenegro or get their own place to live. And all evidence, one-month in, points to no changes in the pipeline. At least not as a result of getting married. It would be great to come home to our little private nest and hold hands in wedded bliss, but that’s just not the deck of cards we were dealt. Certainly I knew that a long time ago and made peace with it before I walked down the aisle.
The other thing happening since I got home is a big feeling of restlessness– that’s not good. I need a new project now that the wedding planning is done. I have learned that when I don’t have an engaging project to occupy my thoughts, I turn inwards and pick at things that don’t need to be examined with such scrutiny. I know a few of you friends are like that too, so you can relate. The good news is I have a really great project in mind, but need to take the first steps to get it rolling. It’s something that is definitely out of my comfort zone, but totally new and exciting. No, not a baby, ha!
It’s too early to discuss ideas at this stage…I am afraid you’ll think poorly of me if it never gets off the ground. As things become more concrete, I will keep you updated.

My Love/Hate Relationship with New York City.


On the topic of New York City.

It has been 2.5 years since I moved to New York to be with Damir. I can hardly believe it! It all is passing so quickly… I also can’t believe I am now 35, didn’t I JUST turn 30? But that’s a topic for another day.

I can’t decide if I like New York. I think this is odd because most people I know either LOVE LOVE LOVE it or HATE HATE HATE it. I am somewhere in the middle.

Some mornings, crossing through Times Square on my way to the office, I feel a jolt of energy with all the lights, activity and energy. The Square isn’t usually yet crowded with tourists, just busy New Yorkers going from here to there. I usually have my ipod blaring something to get my blood flowing, and I just feel good.

The evenings, crossing Times Square to go home, are a little different. The sidewalks are packed with slow-walkers, and now it is dark, and I am usually in a rush to catch my train. My thought is: I just want to get out of here.

I sometimes stay in the city after work and on weekends to actually enjoy the city, but not nearly as much as I should. I have always been a bit of a homebody in that way. Our little hamlet here in Long Island is growing on me, and already I am looking forward to a summer spent on the very nice beaches we have out here. I will take the beach over the crowded streets on any day. Though usually after I spend extra time just enjoying the city, I usually think, that was nice.

Damir and I sometimes talk about moving into the city. 2 Years ago, just after arriving in Long Island, I would have jumped at the chance. And today, I probably would too, though I would miss my favorite Sushi place around the corner, and my dry cleaner, nail technician, coffee server, and pharmacist who all know me by name.

What I really hate about New York is this attitude that many New Yorkers have that THIS IS THE BEST AND ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD WORTH LIVING AND IF YOU DON’T AGREE WITH ME GO FUCK YOURSELF.

I want to respond, well, yes, it’s got a lot going for it, but you need to get out every once in a while. See some other places. Live in some other places. You might be surprised. That snobbery just turns me off, as does just about anyone who thinks they are holding the best in their hand and nothing else could ever compare. EVER.

Oh, and the cost of stuff. I hate that too.

I never wanted to live in New York. I always said that. And its still funny to me that it’s where I have ended up for now. I don’t see us staying here indefinitely, but for the forseeable future, this is where we are and I have to make the best of it. But I know that years down the road, from the porch of my beautiful and cozy home with a view of the water, I will be glad for the experience.

Notes from Paradise

Yesterday, my birthday, was perhaps one of the best days of my life. Seriously, I don’t think I can remember a more perfect day.

It started calmly as I sat on our terrace drenched in bright warm morning sun, overlooking the beautiful ocean and resort, reading a book I had been waiting to read for a long time (A Thousand Splendid Suns). Once Damir was roused, we went to breakfast and had everything we wanted right in front of us. Then we were off to the beautiful sugary sanded beach, with a view of the vibrantly blue water, and we sat under a shady palapa. Damir went to play volleyball and I enjoyed the view, my book, and later a cold beer. And then a dip in the beautiful sea.

In the afternoon we made our way for a walk through Playa del Carmen and a beverage at Mosquito Blue. We shopped for souveniors and were glad to have a place so peaceful to return to after the crowded streets of PDC.

I napped.

In the evening I was told to be ready by 10-to-eight. And don’t be late. So at ten-to-eight I was ready per the instructions and left the room with my sweetheart. He led me to the beach, where the walk was lined with candles and torches, to a solitary table for 2 set by the sea, under the stars. We toasted my 35th year with champagne, and an incredible 4-course meal including some of my favorites (lobster!).

I cried, literally cried, at the beauty of the evening. And just didn’t want the night to end. I cried with thanks to be cared for and loved by such an amazing man. I cried that I should be so lucky to deserve any of this.

We returned to the room where rose petals, chocolates (as if I could eat another bite), and more candles led the way. True romance, like you read about in silly books, not something I ever really expected to experience for myself. All followed by a deep sleep, and waking a dawn for a walk on the beach on my own, watching the sun peak over the ocean’s horizon, to give thanks for a new day.

Already, though we have 2 days left to enjoy this wonderful place, I am dreading the trip home. Terrible habit I have– in the moment of enjoyment, fearing its passing too quickly.

Pictures to come.

Bah. Humbug.

I am having a hard time really getting into the Christmas spirit.

Maybe it’s because we have nary a Christmas decoration in our apartment– not a tree, not an angel, not even a display of the beautiful Christmas cards I have received (though I am so grateful of every one). Decorating the house when you aren’t actually spending Christmas in your own home somehow feels a little strange (leaving for Boston in Christmas Eve). Though I suppose we could have strung some lights to make the place festive. Is it too late? Maybe not.

Maybe it’s because I am super crazy busy at work– our busiest of the year are the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s when tourists descend like termites into New York City, running around eating up all the free space and walking all slowly on the sidewalk blocking fast walkers such as myself. But despite being so busy, I am cutting the hours of my part-time staff because it should be EVEN BUSIER this time of year. l suddenly feel nervous that I might not have a job if things continue as they are. Thinking of traveling to NYC? Boy do I have a deal for you. Hotel prices are a fraction of what they were last year.

Maybe it’s because the shortest day of the year is quickly approaching, December 21st, and the lack of sunlight is really getting to me, despite my happy light on the desk. Maybe I should have considered the prozac this winter. Definitely too late for that.

Maybe it’s because I am dreaming of living in a place where I can invite my friends and family to join us in our home holiday spirit. But that’s not happening anytime soon. Well, not this Christmas anyway.

I don’t know. This year just feels a bit off. Maybe once I get to Boston and join my sister (TWINS TWINS TWINS!) and my Mamma, I will get a flaming shot of holiday joy. Sadly D. isn’t coming with me this year, so we’ll have our own private Christmas on a date to be determined. That’s something to definitely look forward to.

September is off to quite a start

This month has already proved to be an interesting one.

On the first of the month we bought a new car. It’s so cute! But don’t let it’s cuteness fool you– she has a big engine and lots of zippitydodah. We weren’t planning on getting a car, but the truck more or less died, so we didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. We do lots of driving on day trips and such. Given our living situation, we need to have a car– our ticket to freedom. No bones about it. I am psyched to go from about 12 miles per gallon to about 30. Awesome!

 

Around the same time we bought the car, we decided to take a week away! The expense of the car ruled out any major vacation plans, so we are going to see my dad and step mom down in North Carolina and then maybe a few days on the Outer Banks. I don’t really care where we go… as long as its away. We leave on the 20th. Yay! And we’re driving the new car down there. I haven’t been on a road trip for a while, so this will be great fun. As long as I am the one driving.

Then of course the saga of the tooth. The evil tooth was demanding a potential 3rd root canal (and being uninsured for Dental, this would run about $1300 between procedures and new crown) so I opted instead just to pull the damn thing for about a third of the cost. Ugh. Still in pain from the procedure with Dr. Hottie McHottie, but glad that it is done with.

I hit my first goal with weight watchers: I lost 10% of my body. TEN PERCENT.

We haven’t done a lick of wedding planning. I am in that stage where more or less everything looks good. Cabo? Awesome! St. John? Beautiful and easy! Florida? Cheap and convenient! The Carolinas? Close to my folks and pretty! New York? No.

But today I read a bit about a wedding in Venice…oooohhhh Venice. Imagining a rented palazzo…rehearsal dinner en masquerade….ceremony on the terrace overlooking the canals…bellinis for everyone…a cheesy gondola ride in a white dress….I love Venice. I think I have been at least 4 times between work and pleasure. But my guess is not many other friends/family would be keen for that choice. Alas. The search continues across the US, Caribbean, Mexico and just about every other corner of the world.


But…Maybe I can convince you?

Much to Share

So, you’ve heard by now… Damir and I got engaged! A week into our engagement I still am not sure it really happened. But it did and we are giddy. This picture was taken just a few moments after… don’t we look giddy?


Let me just say that I love this man. He is so generous and kind hearted. He puts the needs of others above his own. He is smart, funny, and affectionate. We share a vision for our life together, and truly he is my best friend. He listens, he does laundry on occasion, he brings me breakfast in bed. I would say we have faced a number of obstacles that most young couples don’t have to deal with…. so I know very well that we are a strong team that can weather the challenges of life. I am so glad I waited to find him. Old friends tell me all the time that since meeting Damir, I have never seemed happier. They are right.

We aren’t jumping too quickly into wedding planning… I want to enjoy this period for a little bit before stressing myself out with details. I actually am dreading the wedding planning process, mostly because I do so much planning for work that it doesn’t feel like fun anymore.

My ideal wedding goes like this:

1) Wake up in tropical paradise next to my sweetheart
2) Get a private massage on the beach and have a lazy day
3) Put on some lipstick and brush my hair while enjoying a fruity adult beverage
4) Put on pretty frock, grab a flower or two
5) Pledge my love and partnership in front of close friends and family in our tropical paradise setting
6) Enjoy Good food and local music under the stars…maybe a campfire on a beach.
7) Lots of hand holding, smoochies and the pleasure of good company. But most of all: lots of laughter.

That’s it. No frills, no hoo-ha. So, really, the location will be key. Caribbean? Mexico? Florida? I have no idea… but am open to suggestion! Seriously… please send me some suggestions.