27 May 2010

Writing Workshop Wednesday

From Mama's Losin It. I picked prompt #2, "If you could do your wedding over, how would you do it?
(Inspired by this tweet “I am watching TLC’s wedding shows and this makes me want to get married again. Same groom but a totally different ceremony."

I think the simple answer is that we would have skipped the whole wedding and gone to Vegas, like we did with our vow renewal this year. Elvis was the least complicated of our ceremonies.

As a background, Steven and I managed to get married THREE times. The first was a quickie courthouse ceremony because I no longer had insurance and had a nasty case of bronchitis. The second was our actual wedding, which we had been planning for two years, at that point, and then we opted to renew our vows when we took an anniversary trip to Las Vegas.

With our wedding, we spent a lot of time worrying about budget and trying to do the right thing. We planned out just south of Boston wedding on a budget of 6000$. The average wedding around that area is, I believe, around 21k, so we started out, basically, at a loss. This translated to a lot of extra work for us to make sure we could stretch every single dollar. What also made it a tough time was that my mother was diagnosed with cancer in January 2006. Two months before my wedding, she had reconstructive surgery and we weren't sure exactly what would happen.

There were definitely things we did right. As much as I griped about it, I enjoyed making all the floral arrangements, including handwiring my bouquet. Because we used silks, I did not have to worry about preserving it and, if Hieronymus wants to use it if she gets married, she will be able to. Instant keepsake. We also didn't have to worry about if the flowers would wilt in the December cold. Making centrepieces definitely also gave my mother a good project while she was recovering and bored. 

I loved our chapel and our reverend. We paid 60$ to get married less than 1000 feet from the Atlantic Ocean in a beautiful little stone chapel and our reverend was a friend who I'd met on LiveJournal. We were able to have our friends and family help us decorate the night before and it was a chance to get to see everyone before things were insane the next day. I actually also loved our reception site, which was a local hall. It definitely wasn't as polished if as if we'd had it in a hotel, but we had the freedom to decorate however we wanted. We also had amazing catering.

Now, for what I would change. I would have, first and foremost, cut budget elsewhere and hired a better photographer. We used a friend in exchange for being able to use our photos and because of a series of misfortunate events including a dead flash, we have very few good pictures of our wedding. We lost or missed photos of our belly dancer, us cutting the cake, our entrance, and a lot of the middle of the reception. A lot of the photos are dark and off-coloured or out of focus. The bright side of this is that I am good with Photoshop, but it would have been nice to have an album straight-out. 

I would have eaten at the place we had our rehearsal before we went there. Food was crap.

This big thing I would have changed was we would have invited fewer family and more of our friends. My mother-in-law, in the months before our wedding, became increasingly belligerent about our marriage, as well as things she didn't approve of in the wedding. We had fights about our ceremony (mainly non-denomination because I am Catholic and he is Jewish), our decor, the food, where we had our rehearsal dinner, and how she was to be announced because SHE WAS IMPORTANT. A month out, she felt the need to phone up my mother and list all the reasons she didn't like me. The day of our wedding, she showed up over three hours late, refused to be in pictures or allow my father-in-law to be in them, and spent the little time she was at the reception saying crappy things and complaining. I would have not tried to be nice, keep the peace, and told her not to bother coming at all. 

But that's not why you're slogging through this post. You're here because you want to see pictures of what we'd do, right?

This dress, much less ornate than my original, but vintagey. Why this? Because as much as I loved my wedding gown, my tastes are different now and honestly, because it was very heavy and I was too hot, even in December.
Birdcage veil. I wore one that I made for our vow renewal in Vegas and would definitely opt to make my own again.
Feathered comb. I would probably go with peacock feathers, though, and again, I would make my own. I have a lovely one I wore to a friend's wedding last year that would also work nicely. It would also be a nice splash of colour.
In royal blue, of course. I loved our original colours of royal blue, silver, and white and would definitely not change it. I actually loved our original dresses, but this would fit better with a vintage theme.
This is my original bouquet, but hey, I like it, so this would stay the same. I am very proud of having made that myself, thanks.
And, of course, totally keeping that GQMF for the groom. After all, I did marry him three times, I might as well.

24 May 2010

Now With World Famous Hungarian Plumbing!

I just got to go prevent Hungarian plumbing from happening in my basement. Why would I do this? Because, like most of the world, I prefer to have my cold water control on the right side where the dial actually says it is.

We've had just a shower in our place for the last year and a half. When we found out I was pregnant, I had a giant fit and demanded I have things like a bathtub and a working sink in the bathroom. Since my father is a licensed contractor, we generally get these things done for cost of supplies and a large amount of aggravation. I am not actually participating in this fiasco since I am not allowed to do things like this, but I helped build the shower and the bathroom when we first moved here, so I am familiar with the process.

This is how things go:

After several months of insisting he come down and do work for his first grandchild, my father calls 36 hours in advance and says he'll be down. I tell him no, we have plans and it will need to be the following week-end. He tells me he will arrive at 4, which in contractor-speak, means 9:30 at night, after Lowes has closed. Nothing will get done Saturday, except he will make grandiose plans for all the things that need doing. The project started as a bathtub and a sink. Now, we are additionally refinishing the kitchen, adding shelving, a utility room, gutting and remodeling the bathroom, building a couple of closets, partitioning off the utility room, and building the baby's room BIGGER and BETTER!

Then, there's the time estimate. My father works on contractor time, which has no bearing on reality. Estimate: just Sunday afternoon. Real time: at least through Monday and probably with multiple trips. This is a pro-tip. Whatever amount of time your contractor tells you, triple it.

Steven and my father left the house at 8:30 yesterday to go to Lowes. I sent a list. A good list, with SKUs and everything. Time they rolled back in: 1:30, with McDonalds. Time work started: some time after 2. To be fair, they did work until after 9, so I am not complaining about actual time spent.

As of today, at 4, the bathroom is pretty well started and the kitchen is mostly finished. There's another Lowes run happening. Here's another pro-tip: your contractor will never have everything you need, no matter how much planning you've done. Minimally, they will require at least one extra trip for a part that is crucial to everything finished. If you are lucky, it will be while the supplier is open.

This brings me back to Hungarian plumbing. My father built the house I grew up in. Obviously, to save money, he built as much of it on his own as he could. This lead to our bathroom water being piped in completely backwards. For whatever reason, my father is completely incapable of managing to pipe cold water in on the right-hand side.

So my husband comes bounding up the stairs, telling me I need to come downstairs before we are installed backwards. Steven has a big stake in this: while I grew up with this fine plumbing, Steven lived in a house that was built by actual contractors who were not related to him and would burn himself. So I tell my father that I would like my bath to have cold water on the right. I am pretty sure he doesn't actually believe me, but apparently, since I am pregnant, I can have things plumbed however I want. I pointed out that the mixer actually says cold on the left, too, but that could be fixed by installing it upside down. No one is the wiser, right?

So here's a tally.

Things That Were Done In Theory:

  • Bathroom renovation
  • Kitchen renovation, including new counter
  • Oil tank drained and removed
  • 2+ closets added
  • Baby's room made with false wall
  • Utility room
  • Shelving
Here's what will be done at some point today:
  • Bathroom mostly finished. Will need spackling, painting, and some kind of floor treatment.
  • Kitchen renovation, including new counter.
  • Oil tank drained and set outside.
Still waiting on the theoretical bill for how much this would have cost. Cost of an ill-advised home renovation project while pregnant? Priceless.

20 May 2010

Why I Wish I Could Fire Aetna and My GP.

I was going to write a happy entry about how my pre-Mother Mother's Day was awesome because my husband knows me and took me to see Iron Man 2 and bought me a burrito. Then, I briefly thought about writing about how the Never Ending Home Renovation Project® is about to start this week-end because my father isn't capable of actual advance plans. Or possible about other, Serious Things have been happening.

But no, I really want to write a crankypants blog about how I want Aetna and my GP to DIAF.

I'm sick. Starting sometime last Monday, I woke up feeling kind of blech with a sore throat and swollen glands. Generally, that means I should just get a little more sleep and stop stressing, which I did. And then? It got worse. Now it's a chest cold. I thought it was gone by last Friday, but no. It came back in FULL FORCE, completely with a fever and Christmas boogers on Sunday. OB suggested I phone my GP for an appointment to make sure it wasn't A Plague or something.

My normal doctor wasn't in and my preferred back-up was also out, so I got to see the doctor I like least; the one who makes me feel like an idiot. And of course, he's all LULZ! It's a virus and you should feel better, oh, yesterday, because they only last about 10 days. I could have saved my 10$ and watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians or something for that. Then, he informs me I need to see the office manager on the way out.

I want to pause and mention I have Aetna for insurance. Here is what they cover: sick visits and related treatment, random things they deign coverable. Here is what they don't cover: EVERYTHING ELSE. Why do we have this insurance? Because it's what his job offers and we could not afford the better insurance offered by my work nor could we afford private pay.

What makes this even more awesome is that sometimes, the system glitches and it appears we don't have insurance, eg. Steven has been terminated. This isn't a hard fix since his cheque very obviously states that we've paid, but sometimes it takes a week or two to straighten out. Generally, the doctor's office resubmits the claim and all is well. On rare occasions, it takes a couple months of the office resubmitting paperwork to finish the claim.

Having told my doctor's office this, I naïvely assumed that they would, I don't know, let me know when there was an issue and either they can resubmit or Steven can phone them and THEN they can resubmit.

I assumed that was the reason the office manager wanted to talk to me. No, apparently I have a balance of 1100$ and oops, they just forgot to tell me. I have not received a single bill from them. So I'm wtfing over this and asked if they've tried, oh, resubmitting the claim like I've asked and, haha, nope, they've been sent to collections and whoops, no one has sent me a bill from them either. One of life's great mysteries, huh.

Now I'm being told they're going to fire me as a patient and pursue this, so fine. I asked about a payment plan and they're looking for 100$ a month.

Let's review: I am 5 months pregnant, I am out on disability indefinitely, and, let's be honest, we weren't living the high life before I was pregnant. I have these other bills, like my car insurance, that like to be paid and, oh, I don't know, sometimes I like to eat, so I guess that's out. I countered with 10$.

This means I will basically be paid off with this by the time I am 39. Wonderful.

I can't even think what I could possibly have done to keep this from happening. I was told everything was fine when I'd gone in for sick visits, I've never received a call or a bill,  and I haven't received any suggestions from my insurance company that they weren't doing their job.

Without getting into the political aspects of this, since I am not interested in debate and I am not going to understand your side about how things are fine they way they are especially after today, this is why things need to be reformed. I pay a stupid amount of money a month to get at least basic care and I apparently can't even get that.

07 May 2010

And she needs how many names?

After finding out what variety of genitalia Hieronymus possessed, my husband and I were able to cross our chosen boy's name off the list. This is probably a good thing, since we literally barely agreed on it and it was a pretty good chance that we were just going to call the baby No Name if we'd come up with boy bits. The girl name we've had for a while, so it was good to go.

I made the mistake of mentioning awesome, now we don't need to plan a bris or have a few good rounds of debate on circumcision since the lack of a penis kind of precludes that. Then he's all ...oh yea, but she needs a Hebrew name. Oh, okay.

Here's what I know about Judaism: they wandered around in the desert for a while, wrote the original half of the Bible, and apparently produce a lot of great entertainers. You can't eat bacon cheeseburgers. My husband is probably going to hell because of that. Their mourning rituals make a lot of sense. And someone, for the benefit of idiots like me, wrote jewfaq.com

Before I get accused of being insensitive, I know approximately the same amount about Catholicism and I was raised Catholic. I did not convert when Steven I got married because a) it was disingenuous to do it JUST because he was and b) I'm a shitty Catholic. I would not be a better Jew.

All of this means I am totally the right person to say "Hey, our baby needs a Hebrew name." I have awesome google-fu; why not? How hard can this be? I suggested we use my husband's Hebrew name since it's unisex, I like the sound of it, and it means happy.

Except you can't use the name of someone living. Which I didn't know because as we established above, I know NOTHING.

All right, how about using his nana's name? That would be fine, except he doesn't know it and my MIL guards it like a state secret. That leads me to believe she doesn't know it either. No go there. We could use Esther, his grandma's, but I'm kind of meh about that. Back to Google, at which point he tells me he's kind of burnt out on names. I'm hoping that means I can just pick one and go with it.

At least if we baptize her, we can just give her my baptismal name. The standard for Catholics is pick a saint, there are a million, and they all died horribly, so you can't go wrong.

That kind of leads me into I have no idea quite how you go about the whole naming tradition. I understand the bris, we have friends who have been there and done that, and my stepson had one when he was born. But there doesn't seem to be a clear cut ritual for girls. Our friends' advice was to talk to a rabbi, but that brings up another issue. We don't belong to a temple; how do you find a rabbi?

Of course, we're sort of in the same boat about having her baptized since we don't exactly belong to a church, either. To be honest, I'm not about to join any kind of religious edifice just to have Hieronymus blessed. I think the plan was to have the awesome reverend who married us (in a lovely, non-denominational chapel, by the way) bless her. 

Oh well. I'm sure jewfaq.com will rescue my proverbial ass again. Thank God for that.

06 May 2010


I'm officially 18 weeks pregnant now and the one thing that I have gotten from the last, oh, 12 weeks, is that pregnancy is nature's big gotcha. You enjoy sex, once you get the hang of it, you experiment and it just gets better, then your body starts whispering "...baby...baby..." and shorts the rational part of your brain out, leaving you thinking that if sex is that awesome, pregnancy must be amazing.


You get knocked up and everything everyone ever told you about how great pregnancy is turns into a dirty, rotten liar. There's gas and nausea and weight gain in places like your elbows and oh, don't forgot the random black hairs. The image of pregnancy is to real life what a tampon ad is to a real period.

The real sucker punch is the pregnancy amnesia after that allows you to tell people how amazing it was and for you to repeat the process again. That's the killer.

We went for our Level II scan this week, our first since the one I had for bleeding at 7 weeks. I guess the good news is little Hieronymus no longer rocks the vestigial tail. Or looks like a demented seahorse. Or apparently has even a modicum of modesty. First view, Hieronymus was upside down with legs wide open. I am sure that there is a position in pole dancing that would perfectly illustrate what we saw. What we also saw is that, without any doubt, our little parasite is in possession and apparently enamoured of a set of ladybits. That's my little princess, right there, taking after Mama.

The truth of this is that I expected something very different from pregnancy. I grew up hearing about how my mother had a wonderful, complication free pregnancy. She skiied til she was 7 months and that was only because she couldn't do up her boots. She was playing tennis the week she had me. Yes, she had a tough delivery and I was late, but her pregnancy was fine.

I expected that and, in a way, I feel gypped that I am having the pregnancy I'm having. Honestly, though, I should have realized this was my own experience and not to judge based on other people's. I also know there are women who are far worse than me, for whom my issue would be just a little drop in the bucket.

The lost of control over my body is hard to accept for me. Early on, there was a subchorionic haemotoma that put my at risk for miscarriage. Then, my sacroiliac joint is out of whack, cutting down on my mobility: no twisting, limited movement, sit when possible. This Monday, it's placenta previa and all the modified rest that goes along with it. I'm basically left with watching movies, reading/internet, and swimming for at least the next 10 weeks. It's frustrating.

I know this all sounds sour grapes. I did choose this, I wanted a baby, but I wanted to enjoy the time gestating as well. All the problems make me feel detached from the experience. Having an anterior placenta doesn't help either; it means I feel her kicks more like vague wiggles.

I wanted this to be more upbeat, but I'm feeling very achy and disenfranchised right now.