Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Twelve Days of Man Cold

We are way beyond Day 12 of Vic's man cold.

After our trip to California, I was looking forward to a little pampering action. After all, I had taken the boys home myself, leaving Vic to spend a week working onsite in Menlo Park. Within minutes of hauling a five-year-old, a 2.5-month-old and our carry-on stuff onto the airplane, Nolan had a diaper blowout. He had another one an hour later. A few hours into the flight, Nico got upset at his Leapster and threw it on the ground. I confiscated it and he, of course, bawled, prompting a flight attendant to console him and ply him with chocolate bars. Anyway, I digress. The point is that it was a difficult trip and I was hoping Vic would appreciate it when he got home.

Instead, Vic came home with a bad cold that has resulted in him being lethargic, prone to extended coughing fits and in a state of general malaise. He has told countless people about the enormous mucus ball he coughed up (he scowled when I interrupted the third retelling with my own stories about my c-section recoveries) and has already been to the doctor, who said there is nothing going on but a mere cold.

The man cold is quite a sneaky affliction. I don't think there is a female version. The man cold comes and goes quite mysteriously. It seems to wane during Browns games and reappear with a vengeance whenever the baby needs a diaper change.

Does anyone have a cure?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Note on a napkin

This is how I know Vic's man cold has gotten really bad: He actually bought Nico a cookie from Stone Oven, one of our favorite places to get sandwiches. Vic never buys cookies. From anywhere.

Anyhow, Vic set out with Nico the other day to pick up soup and sandwiches for lunch. I was taking a nap with Nolan at the time so I'm not exactly sure what happened. I'm guessing that Nico begged for his dad to buy him a Christmas cookie. Vic must have been feeling too miserable to argue. When they got home, Vic's sore throat must have kept him from communicating efficiently when Nico decided to eat his cookie but not his sandwich.

What else can explain this strange message I found on the dining table?

Monday, December 17, 2007

I heart Auntie Linda

Nico misses his Auntie Linda. While we were in California, Linda spent a lot of time spoiling her nephews. Nico adores her.

On one night, while Vic and I went to his company's holiday party, Lin, her girlfriend and some of their friends babysat Nico and Nolan at Lin's place in San Francisco. Nico was intrigued by her apartment in the Mission District. He had never seen anything like it.

When we got back from California, Nico talked about Lin all the time and kept asking when we would return to visit her. When he heard that Vic met up with her for dinner after Nico, Nolan and I had already returned to Cleveland, Nico demanded details: "You're with Auntie Linda? Are you at her apartment? You are? You're not? Who's there then? What are their names?"

Nico created a five-page book about his trip that included two pages about the airplane trip, one page about the tram from the airport to the rental car station and a final page about Linda. That page had a drawing of him and Linda standing side by side and read, "I wis I coud see ate [Auntie] lindu agin!"

California dreamin'

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey...

For the past few days, I've been feeling a little melancholy.

Last week, we went on a family trip to northern California. It was my second trip to San Francisco this year. In the summer, during the second trimester of my pregnancy with Nolan, I had gone on a solo trip to visit my sister and some friends. It was Nico's first trip back since moving to Ohio four years ago. It was Nolan's first trip anywhere, really, since he's only two months old.

For me, it was quite a trip down Memory Lane as we visited the hospital where Nico was born, the apartment complex we lived in when Nico was a baby, restaurants we used to frequent, etc. My sister joined us for most of our visit and all of us met up with several friends, from San Francisco to San Jose.

We had a great time reconnecting with old pals and marveling at how much our lives have changed over the years. Everyone was happy to see Nico and see how much he has grown since they last saw him at age one. Most people seem to think he looks more like Vic now, mainly because of the long eyelashes! Everyone was delighted to meet Nolan too and thought he was so sweet and cute.

One of the highlights of the trip was taking the boys to Muir Woods. Vic and I used to take Nico on hikes and long walks all the time, so we were looking forward to taking both boys this time. When we got to the park, Nico's first reaction was, "Where are the rides?" Then after he got his bearings and started to appreciate the natural beauty all around him, he exclaimed, "I want to climb to the top and see the horizon."

If we had more time, I would have loved to walk across Golden Gate Bridge with the boys, but we really didn't have much time to do any sightseeing. We spent most of the trip visiting friends and that was really fun. We also had some great Chinese food!

On Tuesday, the boys and I flew back to Cleveland, while Vic stayed in town to work on site with his colleagues. As our plane took off, I felt wistful watching the Bay Area grow smaller and smaller below me. I know it's easy to idealize something (or someone) after it's gone, but I couldn't help but feel sad to leave San Francisco again. It was the place Vic and I both moved to - him from Cleveland, me from Los Angeles - when we decided we had both had enough of our long-distance relationship and wanted to be together all the time. It was where we got engaged, planned a wedding, got pregnant and became first-time parents.

But here we are, back in Cleveland, Ohio again. We are home.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sleeping boys

Nico and Nolan crashed on the bed in our hotel room after we settled in from our flight to San Francisco. I love when they are sleeping so cutely (and quietly).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Nico's portrait of his brother

Just when I worried that Nico was having sibling rivalry issues, he surprised me with a drawing of his little bro.

Nico created this drawing, which I mistakenly thought was a self-portrait. "No, Mama," he corrected me. "That's NOLAN! See his yellow face? That's his jaundice. Because of his bilirubin."

Apparently, Nico absorbed everything he heard from the hospital about Nolan's enzyme deficiency.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Diaper blowouts

So much laundry, so little time!

Nolan has had three diaper blowouts in the past 48 hours. What is up with that? I think he may need to go up a size in diapers. He's only a little over two months old, but I think he's going to need size 3 diapers already. He's a little baby Buddha!

Anyhow, dealing with diaper blowouts is no fun. It's so disheartening to hear Nolan cry, pick him up and then see the telltale stain on the back of his clothes. It's even worse to feel the blowout as it happens. That has happened a few times as I held him in my arms.

Vic has wondered
why diaper companies don't just develop diaper onesies to cover the entire length of a baby's body. I mentioned this to a friend who works on diaper development at a well-known diaper company and he told me this: "So I heard the other day that the technology they used to prevent blowouts is the ‘apertured topsheet’."

I think the "apertured topsheet" needs some work!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hape Thayskgiven!

At school, Nico made a wonderful Thanksgiving card with the classic trace-your-hand turkey. He adorned his turkey with colorful feathers and decorated its body with black polka dots. Nico usually isn't interested in drawing or coloring, so this card was definitely a nice surprise.

The fact that Nico took the time to focus on his artwork was shocking enough, but Vic and I were simply delighted to read the message he wrote inside the card. It said, "I LUV MiY MOM AyD MIY Dad LUV Nico I cat wat fur YUW TO SEE this LUV Nichlas". Translation: "I love my mom and my dad. Love, Nico. I can't wait for you to see this. Love, Nicholas."

On Thanksgiving Day, Nico made a card for Grandpa Rich and Grandma Marilyn. Again, he traced his left hand to make the body of a Thanksgiving turkey. Again, he drew and colored bright feathers and added polka dots to the turkey's body. He wrote a new message all by himself: "Hape Thayksgiven! Tis Is FuM Nicholas Thomas. I LUV YUW. I AM GOWEN TO Et Trce. Luv Nicholas Thomas. I Luik Thaks Given." Translation: "Happy Thanksgiving! This is from Nicholas Thomas. I love you. I am going to eat turkey. Love, Nicholas Thomas. I like Thanksgiving."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My brother, the turkey

Thanksgiving family portrait
(not pictured: Nolan Thomas. In his place, a turkey!)
Nico brought home a drawing he made at school the other day. I'm probably reading too much into it, but I noticed that this was the first family drawing he created that didn't portray me and him standing side by side holding hands. In fact, in this drawing, there is a small, bald creature between me and Nico.

Understanding that Nico has felt a bit displaced since the arrival of his baby brother, I sat down with Nico and asked, "Oh, is this Nolan standing between us?" "Nolan?" Nico responded. "No. That's a turkey!"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nolan's first outings

So far, Nolan's life has been pretty boring. He mainly eats, sleeps, fills his diapers and enjoys a little "tummy time" every day. Since his life is otherwise pretty monotonous, I think he really enjoys excursions outside the house.

When he was two weeks old, Vic and I took him to the Case Western Reserve University Homecoming game. He won't remember it, but we spent a good part of the game with me nursing him in the press box.

On weekdays, Vic and I take Nolan to pick up Nico from kindergarten. It's such a pretty walk through the leafy streets of Cleveland Heights. While Nolan doesn't seem to enjoy car rides the way Nico did as an infant, he really seems to like being in the stroller.

Twice a week, we take Nolan along to the Cleveland Heights Community Center for Nico's kuk sul won lessons. He really seems to like watching the kids tumbling around, practicing kicks and punches.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Love and hot dogs

Last night we all went to Nico's Before and After-Care Potluck. It was quite an event, featuring performances from the students and surprises throughout the evening. At one point, the kids read aloud letters they had written to their parents.

This was Nico's:

Dear Mommy, Daddy & Little Brother,
I love my whole family. I take care of my baby brother. I will help him at Potluck dinner. Sometimes Nolan cries. Tonight he will have fun. I can't wait to eat hot dogs and ice-cream.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The many faces of Nolan

Nolan is one expressive baby! I'm not sure why, but it seems like he communicates a lot more clearly than Nico did at this age. Even as a newborn, Nolan's cues were relatively easy to read. Of course, it may be that Vic and I are more experienced parents now, but it really does seem that Nolan is easier to understand than Nico was.

These are not the most flattering photos of Nolan (he really doesn't look like such a pumpkinhead in real life), but it gives you an idea of the faces he makes.

Monday, November 5, 2007

First smile!

Nolan just smiled me at me for the first time (intentionally, that is). He was crying in his infant car seat when I reached down to pick him up. As I lifted him out, he beamed at me with a huge, gummy grin.

I think my heart may burst with joy.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Waiting for the smiles

One of the most exciting moments for a parent is seeing her baby smile for the first time. That first "social smile" is the light at the end of a long, sleepless tunnel. For me, witnessing Nico's first intentional smile (pictured) directed specifically toward me is among the best moments in my life. Now I'm looking forward to Nolan's first smile.

Nico's first social smile happened in the early morning. Zombie-like, I was nursing him on the sofa in our California apartment. I was exhausted and both physically and emotionally drained when he suddenly beamed at me. He smiled at me for several seconds and excitedly, I woke up Vic to tell him the happy news.

Now I can't wait to see Nolan's smile. It should be any day now!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New posts are here!

OK, I've finally gotten around to posting a few blog entries with updates on me, the baby and the rest of the family. More posts are on the way.

In the mean time, if you haven't already done so, set up an RSS feed so you can get notification every time I update the blog. It's easy - just click on the link at the bottom of the blog page that says, "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)" and select one of the options. You can subscribe to the blog via Google, Yahoo, Bloglines, etc.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The loves of my life

Family ties

Although Nolan will not remember it, some day we will tell him that many of his family members were there to welcome him on his first day.

For me, I feel very lucky that I was able to have both my mom and sister present for the birth of both my children. When I gave birth to Nico, we lived in California and my mom flew out from Ohio to be there for the special day. This time, with us back living in Cleveland again, my sister flew from California to Ohio to be here for Nolan's birth.

As was the case with Nico, Aunt Linda and (maternal grandmother) Ah-ma were present at the hospital during his birth. Nolan was also greeted later in the day by his big brother Nico, his maternal grandfather Ah-gong, his paternal grandfather Grandpa Rich, and Grandma Marilyn.

Vic and I are blessed to have so much support from our family. It was wonderful being able to share this special day with them.

New brother for Nico

Nico is very excited about being a big brother!

During the second trimester, we began to prepare him for the arrival of a new sibling. We kept him involved in the progress of the pregnancy. Throughout the rest of the pregnancy, Nico would often ask to speak to the baby. He would rest his face on my abdomen and say, "Hello Baby! This is Nico, your big brother..." After that, he would tell the baby about his day, sing a song or vent about things that bothered him. One day after I scolded him about something, he told me he needed to speak to the baby immediately. He then announced to my belly, "Hello Baby! This is Nico, your big brother. I'm sorry, but your mama is a booty head. Sorry about that."

Vic and I were worried that Nico would resent having someone intruding on his turf. So we enrolled him in a Sibling Preparation class at the hospital and read books to him about babies and families. Nico was particularly interested in a book that really isn't geared toward children: "A Child Is Born". He was fascinated by the photos and often studied them before falling asleep at night.

On the day of Nolan's birth, Vic picked up Nico from school and brought him to the hospital. Nico was thrilled to meet his new brother. He wanted to kiss him over and over!

It was amazing to see Nico so ecstatic about the arrival of his brother. I was also happy (and surprised) to see what Nico had picked out to wear for the day: a t-shirt that says, "I love Mommy".

Bundle of joy

Since Nolan arrived via a scheduled c-section, it was a much different experience from the labor and delivery ordeal I had with Nico (14 hours of induced labor, failed vacuum extraction, emergency c-section). By the time Nico was born, I was exhausted and delirious. With Nolan, I was awake and alert.

As you can see from this photo of me taken after Nolan's delivery, I am smiling. In the photo of me taken after Nico was born (no, I'm not going to post it!), I looked like I emerged from sort of major natural disaster - a tornado or something!

After Nolan was born, I was allowed to hold and cuddle him in the recovery room almost immediately after he was delivered. I kept saying over and over to Vic, "I'm so happy, I'm so relieved!" The pregnancy had been stressful and emotional, especially in the last trimester when I was on modified bed rest, so I felt incredibly blessed to be able to hold a healthy baby boy in my arms at last.

Vic and I are so happy.

Introducing the newest addition to the family...


Nolan Thomas was born on Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 9:38 a.m. He weighed 8 lb., 8 oz. and measured 19 1/4 inches.

Nolan arrived via scheduled cesarean section. The surgery went smoothly and everyone is doing well. Vic, Nico and I are thrilled to welcome baby Nolo to the family!

Labor and delivery - the finale

This time it's for real!

The day of the baby's arrival has finally come. This time, as opposed to the last time we headed to the labor and delivery unit, we arrived at the hospital knowing what to expect.

Vic, Linda and I got to MacDonald Women's Hospital at 7 a.m. My parents arrived a little later. After answering a lot of questions about my pregnancy and general health, the nurses hooked me up to monitoring belts and started an IV in my wrist (I'm such a chicken about those things and Vic had to hold my hand while they did it). I was really nervous and excited, and I guess I must have had a lot of adrenaline going because the baby was kicking like crazy. The belt kept falling off my belly.

Soon the attending anesthesiologist came in and talked to me about the epidural/spinal block procedure. Then, Dr. Chapman arrived. It was so comforting to see him. By that point, it was really reassuring to see my own doctor after talking to so many strangers - doctors and nurses I had never met before.

The epidural procedure was nerve wracking. When I delivered Nico, only three people were in the room when I got the epidural: me, Vic and the anesthesiologist. When I had to hunch over so the doctor could insert the needle, I was able to lean on Vic for support. This time, Vic was not allowed in the room and I had to lean on a nurse for support while the needle was inserted into my back. I was really nervous and shaking a bit. The nurse I was leaning on told me to drop my shoulders and try to relax. It seemed like there was a chorus of nurses and residents behind me saying, "You're doing great, you're doing great." I was sitting on the bed hunched over for a long time, it seemed, so at one point, I asked, "Is everything OK?" The chorus answered, "Yes, you're doing great!" Finally, I remarked that my legs suddenly felt really warm. Maybe it's my imagination, but it seemed like the chorus chimed in, with relief, "Good!"

The medicine kicked in quickly and soon I was unable to feel anything below my chest. The surgery team lifted me onto another bed and laid me on my back in preparation for the c-section. Someone pricked my abdomen with something sharp and said, "Do you feel that? Does it feel sharp?" I kept getting poked until I didn't feel the sharpness anymore.

At some point, Vic was allowed into the room and it was incredibly comforting to have him at my side. Then, I saw Dr. Chapman and the resident assisting him prepare for the surgery. Then it was time for the main event, the real deal Holyfield!

I didn't feel any pain during the surgery at all - maybe just a little pulling sensation, but that's it. But then I heard the most amazing sound of the baby's cry. It was awesome.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The final, final countdown

Today was a great day.

In the morning, I had a visit from a friend, who dropped off some really nice baby hand-me-
downs. I also had a massage, which was much needed! My sister arrived from San Francisco in the late afternoon - it was great that she was able to be here for the birth of the baby, just as she had been for Nico's birth.

In the evening, we took Nico to Grandpa Rich and Grandma Marilyn's house for a sleepover (since they would be taking Nico to school the next day while Vic and I went to the hospital). Then, Vic, Linda and I had dinner with my parents. We had a nice meal, a belated birthday celebration for Linda, whose birthday was a few days ago.

I asked Linda to take this photo of me, on the last day of my pregnancy. I am ready for this nine-month journey to end. Besides being emotionally prepared, I am more than ready physically - I'm huge!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The final countdown

This morning, I had my last weekly OB-GYN appointment before Thursday's scheduled c-section. It was the first time doctors looked at the fetal monitoring chart and said, "The baby looks great!" In previous appointments, the baby sometimes seemed sluggish and the doctor would have me drink juice to wake him up a bit.

Today, Dr. Chapman, was a little late for my appointment because of a c-section surgery that ran long. So while he was driving from the hospital to the clinic, his colleague, Dr. Reider, stopped by to check on me. He's the obstetrician for two of my friends - he was also in my fifth grade class! He wished me luck on Thursday.

I'm starting to get a little anxious about the surgery. With Nico, we ended up with an emergency c-section after 14 hours of induced labor. By the time we decided to opt for the c-section, I was exhausted and just ready for it all to be over; there was no time to be nervous.

I'm nervous now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Gentle Beginnings

Nico received his permanent kindergarten class assignment on Friday. His teacher is Mrs. Miracle!

For the first few weeks of school, Nico and his kindergarten classmates were kinda pooled together and shuffled between both teachers until everyone got to know each other. Then, the school decided how to divide the students into two balanced classes. I'm not sure what criteria were considered.

It was a bit unnerving not knowing right away who Nico's teacher would be, but other teachers I know tell me that this approach is thought of as an innovative one. One teacher referred to it as a "pilot program"; another told me that at Berkeley public schools, it's called "Gentle Beginnings" (not to be confused with the *other* Gentle Beginnings, a doula service).

So far, kindergarten is going well. Nico doesn't seem to mind that a lot of what they are learning right now is review from what he's already mastered from preschool. Vic and I are supplementing this with workbooks that challenge him a bit more. We're happy that Nico's reading skills are developing nicely. His main academic interest is math, though. Sometimes, we'll hear him in his bedroom randomly reciting addition facts: "2 + 4 = 6!"

I think he's going to take after Vic that way.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Britney Spears loses it; I'm not far behind

I'm a pop culture junkie - I admit it. Everyone who knows me even moderately well knows I can't resist celebrity gossip and that I watch more reality TV shows than anyone should be allowed to (being an insomniac 8.5 months pregnant on modifed bed rest doesn't help).

So I just got off the phone with my sister in San Francisco. She doesn't have cable TV, so I gave her a breathless 15-minute critique of the MTV Video Music Awards: "Sarah Silverman's jokes were funny but really inappropriate, and pretty vicious - typical of her, you know. And I missed her performance, but I just read reports that Britney was a total train wreck!" I announced. "I saw the photos and someone should have told her not to wear that outfit - she should have canceled instead of going onstage like that. Is she nuts? I mean, I know that she just had two kids and that takes a toll on your body, but I'm sure no one forced her to wear that sequined bikini! Oh, and I didn't see this part either, but I guess Kid Rock and Tommy Lee got in a fistfight in the audience during Alicia Keys' performance!"

After I hung up with my sister, I sent an email to a friend who is a fellow pop culture addict, inviting her to dish with me.

Then I had a moment of clarity.

I'm 37, it's 1:48 a.m. and I'm calling and emailing people about Britney Spears' latest antics.

Who's the real biggest loser here?

Arrivederci, Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti was eulogized yesterday in his hometown of Modena, Italy.

The great tenor made opera accessible to audiences worldwide, performing alongside artists including James Brown, Queen, Barry White and U2's Bono.

To me, his divine voice will be best remembered for his performances of “Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's “Turandot” and Schubert's "Ave Maria".

Grazie Luciano.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Chinese School question

The time has come for us to make a decision: Should we send Nico to Chinese School?

When I was around his age, there really was no question about whether or not I would go. My parents, immigrants from Taiwan, just assumed that my sister and I would attend the Saturday morning Chinese School program. My mother became one of the volunteer culture class teachers; my dad served as principal the year I graduated from the program.

Especially in the past year, Vic and I have debated what to do about Nico's cultural education. Even though Nico is half Taiwanese, we think it's important for him to understand and appreciate his Asian heritage. Plus, after our trip to Taiwan, we really want to reinforce Nico's understanding of his cultural identity.

We did some investigating into the Saturday school programs in the area and learned that there is one nearby at Shaker Heights Middle School. The Chinese Academy of Cleveland offers two different tracks: a traditional Chinese language and culture program and a Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) program. When I was growing up, there was only the first track. But now, with more families in the area with parents who are not native Chinese speakers, the second track presents an option that makes Chinese language education more accessible.

A few weeks ago, we went to the school's welcome picnic to meet other families and learn more. My mom came too and I was surprised to see that she knew some of the people there. Even 30 years after she was a teacher in the program, she still had connections to the community. One of our family friends, a CSL teacher, introduced me to the principal of the school. Speaking Taiwanese, she introduced me as my father's daughter and he smiled. "Oh, I know your dad!" he said. "I work at Case in the biochem department." I told him I worked at Case too. Then, I bumped into an old classmate of mine from Case - we were in the same Chinese class together nearly 20 years ago. Now he has kids in the Chinese School program. Small world!

So all of this presents a lot of decisions for us. If we enroll Nico in the traditional track, I would have to be the parent primarily responsible for Nico's Chinese education since I am the parent who can speak (hardly anymore) and read (barely anymore) Chinese. If we enroll Nico in the Chinese as Second Language program, Vic or I would have to attend alongside Nico, so that the parent and child would both be invested in learning together. This would give us more flexibility in allowing both parents to participate in the program, alleviating some of the pressure on me; however, Nico would not have the language immersion experience that the traditional track would be more apt to provide.

My mom really wants us to enroll Nico this year, but my dad advises us to wait until next year. Vic is concerned that the window to learning a new language could close by then, but at the same time, we have so much going on right now: Nico's adjustment to kindergarten, a new baby due in two weeks, etc.

We have a lot to think about.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Surprise Baby "Sprinkle"

Last night, a few of my friends threw a surprise baby shower for me. It was a very low-key, casual event - so much so that instead of referring to it as a shower, they called it a "sprinkle"! It was perfect and a total surprise. Vic knew about it, apparently, but he's very good at keeping secrets. (He says his secret to keeping secrets is just to forget.)

For several weeks, some friends and I had planned to get together for a quiet evening at my house after our kids' bedtimes to hang out, have some snacks and drinks, and chat. So I was totally surprised when Bethany, Claire, Joslyn, Kathy and Anisa showed up at my door with cake, flowers and gifts!

Bethany, a ridiculously organized planner, had us play two baby shower games. I was so relieved that these didn't include the "How many toilet paper squares does it take to span the pregnant lady's midsection?" game. She also made really cute, delicious star and moon shaped sandwiches. Claire brought flowers and a lemon cake from Whole Foods. Everyone brought gifts for me and the baby. As Nico would say, it was "so awesome!"

The best part was the company, though. Since I'm on modified bed rest, I had been feeling isolated and a little down. It was so nice to have friends over, especially for girl time without spouses and kids. I try to connect with my fellow working mom friends often, mostly by email and phone, but in person whenever possible. Before I got pregnant, whenever we could get everyone's schedules coordinated, we planned Girls' Night Out excursions that are a lot of fun. The last big one we had was at the House of Blues where we went to see a Michael Jackson tribute band - so hilarious! (Bethany is convinced that was the night I conceived.)

Mostly, though, we have smaller Girls' Night In gatherings at one of our homes. It's nice to have time to unwind and get away from the stress of our daily lives. It's great to share experiences with women who understand the challenges of the elusive work-life balance. I met these friends through the Cleveland Heights-University Heights early childhood program three years ago when our children attended Stepping Stones, its full-day preschool program. The parents we've met through Stepping Stones are amazing - interesting, engaging people from diverse backgrounds. Doctors, lawyers, professors - and one theater director- these moms are brilliant, creative, hilarious and inspiring.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Nico's first day of kindergarten

Nico is growing up too fast - this week, he had his first day of kindergarten at Roxboro Elementary School in Cleveland Heights.

We've taken Nico to the school a few times already, so the building was not unfamiliar to him. For the past two years, we've taken him to the Roxboro Arts Festival. In April, we attended the Kindergarten Open House and registered him, met the kindergarten teachers and principal, and took a tour of the school.

On Thursday, he had an orientation day where parents stuck around for the first two hours. Vic walked Nico to school, while I drove. We debated whether or not I should even go, since I'm supposed to be on modified bed rest. In the end, though, I decided to go - I couldn't bear to miss such a milestone in Nico's life. Plus, once I parked myself into one of those teeny kiddie chairs, I was able to stay put for most of the orientation session.

Nico was so excited about kindergarten. He wore his black Transformers glow-in-the-dark Autobot logo t-shirt that Auntie Linda got him for his birthday. The shirt has "Nico 5" ironed on the back and Nico loves it. He also wore new Cars running shoes that Ah-ma bought him and a new Cars backpack that Vic and I got him from Target. I'm not really into getting him things that are plastered with brands and action figures, but Nico thinks plain clothes and gear without characters on them are boring and he only wants to wear things that are "awesome".

We learned that Nico's school is trying something new this year with the kindergartners. Instead of randomly assigning the students to the teachers, for the first three weeks, the students will spend time with both teachers in groups that will flow back and forth. At the end of the period, we will find out who the permanent assigned teacher will be. For now, Nico's home teacher will be Mrs. Miracle, who looks very young and is stunningly pretty. Vic and I wondered if Nico would notice. He didn't. He was too busy playing with the "awesome" toys in the room.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Delivery date scheduled!

So I had my weekly appointment with my obstetrician today and it went well. The baby is growing, his heart rate is OK, my blood pressure and weight are OK and the fetal monitoring results are all right. It looks like I'll have to do the fetal monitoring every time I come in now, though.

The big news from the appointment is that we have decided to schedule an early cesarean section. Because of the high-risk nature of the pregnancy, the surgery will take place shortly after I am full term - between Week 37 and Week 38. So, unless I experience any more complications that will result in me going back to Labor and Delivery sooner, the baby will be delivered on Thursday, September 20!

I guess we better pick a name soon.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Moody? Who, me?

Self-observations during Week 33 of this pregnancy:

1. I'm hot.
2. I'm huge.
3. I'm crabby.

This past week was a rough one. For a few days, the temperature was around 95 degrees. And we don't have air conditioning. Being pregnant, I'm already a furnace so it was a pretty uncomfortable week for me. My sleep schedule was completely insane.

I am also pretty ginormous now. I am starting to resemble Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (She was the bratty kid who ate a piece of gum that caused her to turn into a large blueberry.)

By the way, for all of you out there who insist on providing color commentary on my girth, folks, I *know* that I am huge. I have been tracking my physical transformation quite closely. So there's no need to inform me that I am big. I already know that. Also, women generally don't like to be told that they are huge, whether or not they are pregnant.

I guess it goes without saying that I've been pretty cranky this week. I hope next week is better.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Major Exhibit and Anthology Release by Premiere Arts Organization Honors Women Who Inspired Them

Here's a press release for the Asian American women artists anthology that features an essay I wrote. I wish I could be in San Francisco for the launch party!

Major Exhibit and Anthology Release by Premiere Arts Organization Honors Women Who Inspired Them

Contact: Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen 510-763-1313, Ext. 424 or

For Immediate Release

SAN FRANCISCO – Please join the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) in celebrating the arrival of their latest creation, an anthology titled “Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women”, with a reception at the Chinese Culture Center gallery, where an exhibit of the same name displays work from over 30 different Asian American women visual artists and writers from the book.

Come and view the exhibit, which closes August 25, and help us celebrate the completion of this groundbreaking work – and our newly acquired 501(c)3 status! (More details below.)

Cheers to Muses Anthology Release Party
WHEN: August 17, 2007, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor
Hilton Hotel, San Francisco Chinatown
Cheers to Muses Exhibition: June 15-August 25; Gallery Hours: Tues.-Sat. 10-4 p.m.

Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women consists of 128 pages richly illustrated with 46 color plates. Featuring 64 artists and 77 visual and literary works by artists ranging in age from 14 to 85. (Paperback; $24.95 list price; ISBN-10: 0-9787359-0-0; ISBN-13: 978-0-9787359-0-6) Orders:

- 64 artists and 77 visual and literary works are featured.
- Selected artists and writers range in age from 14 to 85.
- Contributors’ ancestries can be traced to more than 35 countries, including Burma, China, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the United States.
- Muses include artists Ruth Asawa and Yoko Ono; architect Maya Lin; writer Maxine Hong-Kingston; political activist Yuri Kochiyama; film director Mira Nair; actresses Anna May Wong and Nancy Kwan; and golfer Michelle Wie; as well as a mother, a flower-arranger, and a waitress/cook.
- Three contributors – installations artist Dawn Nakanishi; editor and writer Roshni Rustomji; and artist and AAWAA co-founder, Flo Oy Wong – are themselves cited as muses by others.

Curated by Cynthia Tom, the exhibit features selected art and written word from Cheers to Muses', visual art varying in media and dimension, fictional and biographic narratives, and poetry.

In addition to the work of dynamic artists and writers currently working in the field, the exhibit as well as the anthology also includes moving dedications written by the contributors to non-familial Asian American women whose lives or works have influenced and inspired their own. Both the exhibit and the anthology support AAWAA's mission to produce thought-provoking projects that challenge, inspire, and interpret the work of Asian American women artists. Founded in 1989, AAWAA promotes the visibility of Bay Area Asian American women artists through programs that exhibit, interpret, publish, and document their work. For more information on AAWAA, visit

The Asian American Women Artists Association is happy to announce that they are now a 501(c)3 organization. Effective immediately, you can donate and make payments directly to AAWAA. (Please make checks out to AAWAA.) Donations will be tax-deductible to the extent of the law. AAWAA thanks Intersection for the Arts for being their fiscal sponsor for the past two years.

This new status marks the beginning of another level of growth for AAWAA, which has recently risen dramatically in visibility and programming. Now that they are an official non-profit, they will need more board and advisory board members as well as financial support. AAWAA invites you to get involved at this exciting time and help this important organization grow and prosper.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Emotional rollercoaster = insomnia

I can't sleep. It's 5:30 a.m. and I'm still wide awake.

The pregnancy complications have been taking a major toll on my emotions. The modified bed rest order means I have to be off my feet as much as possible. And without being able to be physically active, I'm moody and restless a lot. Plus, I don't feel tired when most people do; I do feel tired when most people are wide awake. I'm getting huge and it's been really hot lately, too, so put it all together and I'm one big, crabby mess.

I wish there were something better to watch on TV late at night (or early morning). Infomercials are horrible.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Labor and delivery - part deux

I had to go to Labor and Delivery on Friday again. This time, I was working from home when I noticed a little of bleeding, so I called my OB-GYN to let him know. He said to go to the hospital and that he'd tell his partner on call to expect me. Like last time, I called my dad to make arrangements for Nico to stay with my parents in case we would be tied up at the hospital. It's a good thing my dad works right next to University Hospitals!

This time, instead of staying for a few hours and going home, I was told I'd have to stay at least overnight. While I was in the triage area, I had to undergo urine and blood tests again. The charge nurse hooked me up with belts to monitor the baby's heart beat and uterine contractions, just like last time. This time, though, she also stuck an IV plug in my wrist in case I'd need to be administered medication. She said there was a chance I'd have to take steroids to develop the baby's lungs if the doctors decided to deliver. Deliver? I wasn't ready for that possibility. A few people asked me a bunch of questions I wasn't prepared to answer: Do I have a living will? Do we want to circumcise the baby? Do I want my tubes tied after delivery?

After the tests came back, I was admitted into the High Risk ward and given a private room. It was nicer than being in the triage area, but still demoralizing to have to be there. I wasn't allowed to get up except to go to the bathroom. I ate three hospital meals during my stay (sugar-free chocolate pudding is kinda gross).

On Saturday, I had a little more spotting so I had to stay longer than I hoped. I missed Nico's last swim lesson of the season - Vic had to take him without me. Nico also had a Big Brother-to-Be class at the hospital, just a floor away from me, but I was still supposed to stay put, so I missed that too. After his class, Vic and Nico came to my room and Nico had fun elevating and lowering my hospital bed. That kid loves to push my buttons, literally!

Finally, I was allowed to go home, so Nico was happy to wheel me out in the wheelchair. I don't know why I wasn't allowed to walk out on my own, but I guess it's hospital policy.

It was great to be out of the hospital. Even though I was only there for 24 hours, it felt much longer than that. I'm so tired of CNN Headline News and Sudoku!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Call for baby item recommendations

It's been a while since we had a brand new baby to care for, so by now, no doubt, baby gear has probably changed quite a bit. Vic hopes that at the very least, what he refers to as "diaper technology" has improved in the last five years. He wonders why no one has yet to patent a diaper onesie, given the number of diaper blowouts Nico used to have. The worst was one time when Nico's poo exploded up his backside clear up to his hair. So it would be great if the Pampers people (are you listening, Jon Virgi?) would develop a diaper turtleneck bodysuit.

Anyhow, I'm hoping to get suggestions on "must haves" for the new baby. I'm seven months pregnant now, so I'd like to start preparing the nursery and getting things in order. Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Baby name poll - vote now!

Vic, Nico and I are having trouble deciding on a name for our baby boy. We've narrowed it down to three possibilities: Enzo, Nolan and (LeBron) James!

We want the baby's name to complement Nico's name - Enzo is a possibility, as a nickname for Vincenzo or Vincent. We are also considering a name that matches Nico's cousins' names (Nathan and Noah) - Nolan would qualify. Nico has decided that if we are dead set against LeBron James, he will settle for James. Vic and I are leaning toward that as a middle name.

The baby's estimated due date is October 6, 2007, but we think he will arrive sooner. Please tell us what you think! Vote in our poll! If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Safety Town graduation

Nico graduated from Safety Town!

The graduation ceremony ended with Officer Terri leading the group in pledging, among other things, to "listen to and obey my parents". As you can tell from the photo, Nico didn't take the oath too seriously. And Vic looks quite skeptical about it all too.

Faculty "friends"

In preparation for Nico's birthday party, my friend Chris, an astronomy professor, asked me what Nico is into these days. His two daughters were planning to attend Nico's party and Chris was in charge of procuring a gift. I told Chris not to get him anything since he already has too much stuff.

Chris called me "a mean mom". So I sighed and told him that Nico is really into planets and outer space,
thinking Chris would seize the opportunity to get a stars and planets children's book, per his expertise, etc.

No. Instead, Chris
got him this freaking loud Spider-Man Talking Room Guard with Motion Sensor that shrieks whenever you walk past it. Actually, it shrieks if you even breathe near it. Chris said he thought Nico would appreciate an audible warning any time I came near his room.

Of course, Nico declared the gift "awesome!" but when he turned his back, V
ic immediately and quietly disabled the sound device and hid it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nico's 5th birthday

Nico had his 5th birthday party over the weekend. It went well, but was still a bit stressful and tiring. It was totally worth it, though! Nico and his preschool pals had a great time.

Since I'm supposed to be on modified bed rest, Vic and I had decided it would be too much work to have the party in our back yard this year, as we had done the past two years. So we chose to have the party at Memphis Kiddie Park, an amusement park for preschoolers - you have to be 50 inches or shorter to ride all but three of the rides - hoping it would be much easier for me. I planned to sit in the shelter area and supervise, while Vic accompanied Nico on all the rides.

It sounded like a good plan. Overall, the party went well. I was surprised to find that the park had really strict rules on everything, though. No outside food except for cake and ice cream. No coolers. The time limit for unlimited rides is exactly two hours long (They announce on a loudspeaker, "If you are wearing a teal bracelet, your ride time is over!"). You must surrender your ride access bracelet in order to get a balloon and popcorn. No exceptions.

Still, the party was a lot of fun. We arrived at the park after many of our guests had arrived already, though, so that was a little embarrassing.
My sister came in town to help celebrate Nico's birthday, so she was able to help out a lot.

Nico had picked out Transformers as his theme, so one of the highlights of the party was seeing 20 kids running around with Optimus Prime masks. I spent hours assembling those things (I guess that's one good thing that came from modified bed rest)! I'll try to post a photo soon.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Working from home

I've been working from home this month and so far, it has not really limited my ability to perform my job, except in preventing face-to-face contact with my boss, my team and other colleagues on campus. I have been able to maintain close contact with my team and with media contacts via email and phone, though. In fact, I think I'm more accessible than ever because I'm not running around campus or spending time in meetings all day anymore! Without being in the media relations office bullpen, I also have much longer, quieter, uninterrupted blocks of time to work on projects.

People at work, generally, have been really supportive. I know my situation has been really confusing. It's been difficult for me, so I can only imagine what other people think about it. My team has been awesome through this ordeal. Despite the fact that I'm now working from home, they've been good at staying in close contact with me about work issues, while still reminding me to keep things in perspective and take care of my health first and foremost.

The whole situation, though, is making me think about what will happen once the baby arrives. People have been asking me what my plans are for returning to work and how long I will be on medical leave. I really can't answer those questions until the baby does arrive. I don't know what's in store for us. This pregnancy has been a bit unpredictable, so it's impossible to know what things will be like once that baby is here.

Still, I am thinking about what my work-life situation will be like a few months from now. I wonder if working men think about these issues as much as working women do.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Modified bed rest = emotional rollercoaster

In the last ultrasound I had, the images showed that the placental separation had not worsened since the last ultrasound. The maternal/fetal medicine specialist told me and Vic that the baby is on track in terms of growth. So that was good news! We are still in a critical stage of the baby's development for the next few weeks, though, so I'm really supposed to take it easy.

I've been having a hard time dealing with all of this. My OB-GYN told me to stay off my feet as much as possible and refrain from exercise and exertion, but it's really hard to do sit around alone with my thoughts. I've been having a really hard time sleeping. Sometimes when I can't sleep at night, I'll get on the computer and do Internet searches on "placental abruption". Then I get freaked out and really can't sleep.

Especially since I don't feel any physical pain, it's difficult not to be active. Plus, it's summer and I would really love to be able to run around with Nico, ride my bike, swim, etc. Nico doesn't understand why I can't pick him up or give him piggyback rides. He always wants to race on our driveway and I can't do that.

Still, I'm not sure if I'm really following the modified bed rest order very well. A lot of times, family members, friends and co-workers will ask, "Are you sure you should be doing that?" and I'm not sure. I'm unsure exactly how much I should be resting, but I suspect that I'm not doing it as much as I should.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sneak preview of the baby

When we had the fetal ultrasound the other day, we were surprised to see how much the technology has changed since our pregnancy with Nico. This time, we were even able to see 3D images of the baby!

Even though the baby was active and moving a lot, the technician was able to capture this image of the baby with his foot jammed next to his face.

The maternal/fetal medicine specialist said that the baby is developing and that the placental abruption is minor. Still, while his words were reassuring, the images of the baby were more comforting to me and Vic. After the ultrasound appointment, we had a nice, relaxed lunch together and it was the first time in weeks that we were able to laugh and feel more settled about the pregnancy.

Women in charge at home

Recently, a few of my fellow mom pals have been talking about the power dynamics in our marriages. It seems that among my married friends, more often than not, the woman appears to be the more dominant partner.

So Vic pointed out an article to me entitled, "Study: Women Are in Charge at Home".

One of the highlights of the piece said this:

"Wife power could signal a harmonious couple. "There's been research that suggests that's a marker of a healthy marriage—that men accept influence from their wives," Murphy said.

So, listen up, husbands everywhere! Accept your wife's dominance. Know your role!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Chronic placental abruption = modified bed rest

When I had to go to Labor and Delivery the other day, right before I was discharged, the nurse (midwife?) gave me paperwork that classified my condition as "chronic placental abruption".

My OB-GYN said that when I had the first bleeding episode, if we had had to deliver the baby then, the chances for survival would have been low. I asked him when he would feel that the baby's chances would be better. He said he'd like to see us get to Week 30 at least. He ordered another ultrasound too.

Now that there's an official label attached to the situation, is seems that my pregnancy is being managed differently. Because this is regarded as a high-risk pregnancy, the doctor has ordered modified bed rest. He asked me how I felt about bed rest and seemed to sense my reluctance to accept it. He said he had medical justification to order full bed rest at this point and asked me about my work situation.

While I want to avoid full bed rest and yet protect my health and the baby's, I would still like to be a productive employee for as long as possible. So I am allowed to work from home for now, but if I have another episode of external bleeding, the doctor will most likely order full bed rest for me for the duration of the pregnancy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Labor and delivery - already?

I had to go to the hospital yesterday. I was at work and bleeding a bit again, so I called my OB-GYN to let him know, thinking he'd tell me to take it easy and stay off my feet until my appointment with him today. At worst, I thought he'd have me to go back to University Hospitals for another round of ultrasounds. I was completely unprepared when he ordered me to go to LABOR AND DELIVERY! I was so thrown off guard that I asked him to repeat that and he did. He said that at my stage of the pregnancy, the baby is not quite viable, so I should go to the hospital for monitoring.

As soon as I hung up, I burst into tears. I really wasn't expecting to set foot in the labor and delivery unit until October. So I called Vic, crying, and we tried to figure out what to do. Since I work in a large shared office, my co-workers heard me on the phone and came over as soon as I hung up. It had been an unusual day in the office, as it was the first day for the new university president and we had received a number of media requests for interviews with her. I hated leaving in the middle of it, but my supervisor, John, came over and gently told me to go to the hospital and "take care of what's important". Susan drove to my house to pick up Vic so he could go to UH with me. Jason and Laura told me to go to the hospital and not worry about work at all. It was really great to have all their support.

It was weird being in a labor and delivery unit without being in labor. Changing into a hospital gown and wearing a patient bracelet, I couldn't help but think about the last time I did this, nearly five years ago when Nico was born. I spent a few hours in the hospital so the medical team could monitor the baby's heartbeat, contractions, etc. They also did some urine and blood tests. The OB-GYN on call was great - it turns out that he lives in our neighborhood and that we were in the same fifth grade class!

Everything is OK, but the charge nurse told me I may have to go through this a few more times until I actually deliver. *sigh*

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

James Gordon Henry Thomas

Nico and James
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Nico has developed a renewed interest in Thomas the Tank Engine. For the longest time, he favored Thomas, followed by Percy.

This time, he loves James, a red engine. We took Nico to a "Day Out with Thomas" event where Nico got a tattoo of James on his right cheek.

Nico loves James so much he has already told his friends his baby brother will be named "James Gordon Henry Thomas" (four Thomas & Friends tank engines).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New blog again?

I was having trouble with my other blogspot blogs (my template tab disappeared!), so I decided to start a new blog and see what happens.

Besides posting more frequently here, I'll also be moving over some posts from other blogs and publishing draft posts I never quite got around to finishing up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Placental separation?

We had an active weekend running around to Nico's teeball game, his parent-tot swimming lesson and other activities. Also, Vic and I worked on organizing and cleaning up the third floor in 90 degree heat. I guess with all the activity, I might have overdone it a litle bit. Over the weekend, I had some bleeding that I didn't think much of at the time. Since it was fairly light, I wasn't too alarmed.

In any case, I called the doctor on Monday morning to tell him about the bleeding and was told to come in to see the doctor on call (my own OB-GYN was out of the office). She examined me and I had to undergo a bunch of tests, including an ultrasound at University Hospitals.

It was reassuring to hear the baby's heartbeat and see, via the ultrasound, that he is doing OK and being active. But then the maternal/fetal medicine specialist pointed out an area of internal bleeding. Apparently, there is a slight placental abruption. While the worst case scenario would be devastating, the probability of that happening is pretty low. I hadn't researched the topic and was not taking the situation very seriously until I spoke to a co-worker who had had the same condition during one of her pregnancies and lost a baby because of it. In my co-worker's situation, she didn't know the placenta had separated until it was too late. She delivered a tiny, stillborn daughter.

Anyhow, I've been told to take it easy and stay off my feet as much as possible. The doctor said I could work from home a few days a week, but that if I do work in the office, I shouldn't walk home from campus anymore, etc.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Baseball vs. baking cookies

This summer, Nico has been playing on a teeball team in the Heights Youth Sports League: the Diamondbacks. It's going much better than toddler soccer, so far. Part of it, I think, is that Nico is a bit older now (he'll turn five soon) and that he seems to really enjoy being part of a team. He loves when the coach yells, "D-backs, are you ready?" and the team screams back, "YEAHHH!"

Practices and games are hilarious! Some of the kids are really into it, while others really don't want to be there. At one of the games, one of Nico's teammates crossed home plate and instead of high-fiveing her friends after scoring a run, marched right up to her dad and said, "OK, I did it. Now we'll bake cookies, RIGHT?"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nico at Adelbert Hall

Nico at Adelbert Hall
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
I'm not sure why Nico is so happy whenever he sets foot near Adelbert Hall. I've heard people refer to the building as a "fortress", "dungeon" and "tomb". Yet, Nico seems to love it.

I had a meeting that ran late this afternoon and had to dash off to pick up Nico from preschool before it closed. I then had to bring him back to the office to wrap up some things. Nico was thrilled! He loves coming to my office and writing on the whiteboard. He also loves to climb the stone wall of the porch facing the Case quad.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cheers to Muses anthology of Asian American women artists

I recently learned some great news: My essay "Pearl Balls of Wisdom" was selected to appear in "Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women,” a forthcoming anthology featuring visual and literary art.

The book features the work of a variety of Asian American women representing a range of ages and backgrounds. Along with the poems, photographs, paintings, essays and stories, each artist includes a tribute to another Asian American woman (muse) who inspired them. For my dedication, I honored Maya Lin, the Ohio-raised artist/architect I've admired since fifth grade. The anthology is expected to launch mid-August 2007.

The anthology is being produced by the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA). If you would like to pre-order a copy of the book at a discounted rate, you can do so on the AAWAA site .

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

It's a...

It's a boy!
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca

Today, Vic and I saw fetal ultrasound photos of our baby. Nico's going to have a brother!

Before I left work for the ultrasound appointment, I told my officemates I'd let them know if I was having a boy or a girl. One of my co-workers, Susan, had given me two pairs of tiny baby shoes, a pink pair and a pair with trains on them. I took photos of both pairs of shoes so I could send the appropriate photo to the crew.

Susan has been a wonderfully calming influence on me during this pregnancy. She has two grown daughters of her own and her advice and wisdom has been really valuable. Early in the pregnancy, she predicted that I was carrying a girl, but recently, she said she was starting to feel that I would have a boy instead. She was right!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Happy birthday to me

I can't believe I'm 37.

I still watch MTV (Vic says he's going to cut me off when I turn 40). I still listen to Justin Timberlake. I still read Us Weekly. And am I going to be a pop culture fanatic for the rest of my life? Or will I finally outgrow it at some point?

It's interesting because even though Vic is a few months younger than me, he comes across as much more mature and serious. He has rarely been carded in his life - but then again, that's probably because he started sprouting facial hair at age nine. I used to get carded all the time. Even up until a year or so ago, I've been mistaken for a student.

The last few years have taken a toll on me, though. I don't know how much of it is due to the natural aging process and how much of it is from the stress of work, life. Even though I haven't spotted a gray hair yet, I'm noticing my body gradually aging. My bones creak sometimes. Lines are starting to show on my face. When did I get old?

My birthday itself was very nice. My parents watched Nico while Vic and I had dinner at Maharaja, an Indian restaurant we both really like. Vic loves the cashew naan they have there. He usually orders chicken tikka, while I get baingan bharta, an eggplant dish. Afterward, we saw "Blades of Glory" - a movie featuring Will Ferrell, one of my faves!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Hooray! We are pregnant with our second child and have made it through the first trimester!

We had an OB/GYN appointment today and so far, everything is looking pretty good. I had a bit of internal bleeding earlier in the pregnancy, but the doctor told me to stop exercising and take it easy for a while and didn't seem too concerned.

It's such a relief getting through the first trimester and being able to tell people that I'm pregnant. The risk of miscarriage is much lower now, and with my age, I want to make sure everything is OK before telling people other than family and close friends.

This pregnancy has been hard to keep secret. It seemed like I started showing very early, pretty much as soon as I knew I was pregnant! In fact, last month, a professor confronted me at an awards reception at the university president's house and nearly outed me. Joe came up to me and commented on what I was wearing, which was an empire waist top. He winked and said, "Tell me about this outfit!". I hesitated and he smiled and said he could tell I was pregnant. I asked him to keep it quiet until I was ready to tell people.

This pregnancy has been tougher on me physically than Nico's was. I'm five years older this time (once you're 35, all of your pregnancy paperwork states "advanced maternal age") and now I have an active preschooler to chase around. During this first trimester, I've been much more tired than I remember being when I carried Nico. There were a few nights this time around where, after dinner, I said I was going to lie down for five minutes - and then I woke up the next morning! I've been a lot more nauseous this time too. Nico's pregnancy was pretty easy - I didn't have any morning sickness at all. As long as I didn't let my stomach get too empty or too full, I was fine.

Another difference is that, when I was pregnant with Nico, I was a freelance writer working from home. This time, I'm working full-time in a pretty high-stress job. The work-life balance is something I really struggle with, so that will definitely be a challenge for me throughout this pregnancy.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The social life of preschoolers

At age four, Nico has a social life that would make a Hollywood celebutante envious!

Just this month, he had a photo shoot for Highlights Magazine (my friend Megan recruited him for it and he was actually paid for it, like a real model!), a few birthday parties, Preschool Beach Night at his school, as well as the Cleveland Heights' Annual Spring Egg Hunt.

It's amazing how many activities Nico has going on in his young life. He has a much more vibrant social life than Vic and I do! We like that, though. We want Nico to have happy memories of family gatherings, fun times with friends, etc. I just wonder how much of all this he will remember when he gets older.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Laundry, laundry everywhere

I have a laundry marathon ahead of me tonight as we get ready for our trip to Taiwan.

Right now, I think my friends are more excited about the trip than I am. I'm looking forward to my extended family finally meeting Vic and Nico for the first time, but I'm also anxious about traveling abroad with them and my parents. Already, my mom calls multiple times a day reminding me to pack enough underwear for Nico.

Vic is really looking forward to the trip. He went out and bought several maps and guidebooks as soon as we booked the flights. I forget sometimes that he has such a deep intellectual curiosity. He's been Google Earth-ing and YouTube-ing Taiwan like a maniac.

Nico is also very excited about the trip too, particularly the "airplane ride". I really hope he enjoys the trip. I know it's going to be major culture shock for him, as he is just now becoming aware of cultural differences and has been referring to my dad as "the Chinese guy".

I'll probably be more excited once the laundry is done and the bags are packed.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Happy New Year!

OK, this year's resolution:
Achieve a healthy work-life balance.