Monday, March 30, 2009

Good Baby News!

She flipped! Yayyyyy!

I had an OB appointment this morning, and I'm dilated to a 1, the bebe has flipped to a head-down presentation, and she's gotten much lower (which explains the increased pelvic pressure I've been feeling). On top of that, I only gained 1/2 a pound in more than two weeks--despite all that food I've been eating! This is particularly amazing to me, but maybe it means I've been making up for it with all the walking around airports??

Thanks to all who wished happy baby-flipping thoughts my way, and let's just hope she stays this way!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

AcadeMama Goes to Washington City

*hat tip to Lauren Berlant, from whom I ripped off part of the post title

When I left College Town on Wednesday, I had no idea that it would take longer to get from College Town to Richmond, VA (27 hours) than it did to get from Home State City to Doha, Qatar (26 hours). The first flight got delayed because of mechanical difficulties, which made me miss my connection in Houston. After getting a seat on the next flight out to Richmond (7:00 p.m.), I then got to sit on the runway for 2 hours (air traffic backup and rain), where our pilot then "timed out" and informed us that it would be a violation of FAA regulations for him to take off. Upon returning to gate 30 minutes later, the doors were not opened, and we were kept on the plane another half hour, while they called around to see if we could get another pilot. No food. No water. No bathroom. Finally, after almost 3 hours, I couldn't hold it anymore--I am 8 months pregnant after all--and I asked if I could run to the restroom at the gate. They let me off the plane for a potty break and some fresh air, and about 20 minutes later they let everyone else off. This is about 10:00 p.m. For the next two hours, they try to find a new pilot, tell us they've found a new pilot, continue to push back the departure time, only to ultimately cancel the flight at 12:30 A.M.(!!) and explain that they can't put anyone up in a hotel because it's wasn't their fault---it was weather-related difficulties. Skipping ahead....I finally got to bed in a hotel room a few miles down the road at 2:00, with a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call so I could make the next flight out to Richmond the next day.

Oh yeah, my flight was scheduled to arrive in Richmond at 2:00. I was scheduled to present my paper at 2:30. Forgive me if I was skeptical.

Somehow, I made it in the hotel door at 2:20, checked my luggage with the concierge, and sat down with my panel with five minutes to spare. The presentation went very well, though my paper wasn't as "clean" as I'd planned it to be. I just ran out of time, energy, and battery power to make the minor changes it needed.

My first ASECS was a really great experience. It was like being at a rock concert where all my favorite bands are, except this was the academic nerd version ;-) I met several scholars whose work I've long admired and who are heavy-hitters in my field. I had lunch with one of my committee members and, for the first time ever, had someone tell me they'd been referred to my work on one of the playwrights I study in my dissertation (WTF?). I'm really glad I got to go to this conference before moving overseas.

I headed to D.C. on Friday evening, where my (child-free) uncle and aunt took me in for the rest of the weekend. This was my first time in D.C., and as much as there is to see, I only had a short amount of time. The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom, and the tidal basin is simply a stunning display of pink everywhere! Our first stop was the legendary Ben's Chili Bowl, where everyone from Duke Ellington and Barack Obama have stopped to enjoy a chili dog or a half-smoke. The atmosphere was better than any TV show could try to represent, and the food was great....standard diner fare, but better because of the music, the people, and the history.

Next, we hit the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and I saw Dorothy's ruby slippers, Julia Childs' kitchen, and Seinfeld's puffy shirt. I really wanted to see the Ladies of the White House Room, but the line for it was the longest line in the museum, stretching down and around several halls and one flight of stairs! I got E a pair of her own ruby slippers in the museum shop, and I got H some freeze-dried ice cream (what the astronauts eat), so I think they'll be happy. Unfortunately, my back is in pretty bad shape these days, and almost any amount of walking results in super swollen ankles and feet. As usual, I was over-ambitious about what I thought I could do for the day, so I ended up having to ask if we could just sit and rest for a while to give myself a break.

We finished the evening with dinner at Obelisk, a Zagat-rated restaurant that has a fixed-price five-course menu like nothing I've ever experienced. I ate everything from octopus marinated in citrus and cilantro to squab to smoked swordfish belly (my fav) to chocolate-apricot cake with German whipped cream. I'm lucky to have such a great aunt and uncle, because everything was their treat, including the homemade crepes with Nutella my uncle made for breakast this morning!! Seriously, I could get used to this treatment :)

But, I'm ready to see my kiddos and get back to work on my diss, teaching, and preparing for the new baby. Oh, and relocating halfway around the world. Now let's just hope I shaken the bad travel karma that's stuck with me for more the past week! And when I get home, the passport and travelling shoes are getting put away for a while.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Last Issue Resolved

The last remaining issue, the only potential deal-breaker for our jobs in Qatar, has been resolved. I spoke with our pediatrician yesterday, and he's perfectly happy to provide us with a 6-month prescription for H's medication, twice a year, which we can then fill and take her meds back to Doha with us after our visits to the States. Also making the issue less of an issue is a conversation I had this morning with one of the pediatricians at Al Ahli Hospital in Doha. He practiced in the US for 10 years, and 10% of his patients were children with ADHD, so he was completely familiar with our concerns, the medication I was asking about, etc. He asked all the same questions a pediatrician in the States would (What's she taking? How long has she been on the medication? What's the dosage?), and it was so nice to be talking with someone I could understand clearly as well.

He said our best option is to proceed with the long-term supply first, and he explained the major difference in how ADHD is treated in Qatar. A pediatrician cannot prescribe ADHD medication, only a psychiatrist can because it's considered a condition of mental health. Because it's a Muslim country, there are very few psychiatrists available, but there are a few. One was just hired at Al Ahli, and he confirmed that there's one at Hamad Hospital who works with children who have ADHD. The past practice has actually been quite strict, with doctors only prescribing a 10-day supply at a time, but he said this practice has gradually loosened up, and the doctors are increasingly seeing patients and prescribing medication on a monthly basis. He even called Hamad Hospital pharmacy and verified they actually DO HAVE the exact medicine and dosage that H currently takes--very good news!!

So, while we work through the system and the possibility of getting Hannah her medication from within Doha, we're comfortable knowing we have the prior option of bringing her meds with us from the US. The doctor was also able to assure us that we'd have no problem bringing them in the country. At most, he said we might need to show a doctor's note and copy of the prescription for verification, but we probably wouldn't even be asked for that.

With this problem solved, the university is moving forward with our draft contracts, and we're filling out applications for schools, passports, and everything else under the sun. Here we go folks!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Quick Update

What a difference a day makes. Really, the next morning (Saturday), most of my worries, tears, and sadness disappeared. Maybe it was getting a good night's sleep. Maybe it was seeing my daughter run to me in the airport, screaming "Mama!!!" and wrapping her arms tightly around me. Maybe it was just being back at one of my "homes"....or a combination of everything. But, everything seemed manageable again.

Hubby made it back late Saturday evening, and H came back from her (biological) dad's house at the same time. Having all four of us together made an unbelievable difference in my mindset. I was able to feed off of H's excitement about the relocation, and simply sharing the positive vibes that we were all feeling as a result of being so happy to be back together made me feel like anything would be possible. We even had a quick drive back to College Town yesterday, despite all the Spring Break traffic from the returning students.

Now to prepare for ASECS and another round of air travel...oh, and opening ceremonies for H's softball team, and her first softball game tomorrow night, and meal prep so that Hubby and the girls will have healthy meals while I'm gone. Could someone let me know when the roller coaster comes to a complete stop?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Long Journey Home Brings Doubt

Doha to London—fine.

London to DC—even better because it was first-class instead of business.

DC to Home State City—we have a problem.

As I fly back to Home State City, Hubby is stuck in DC’s Dulles airport, hopefully getting arrangements made for a hotel stay for the night. Somehow, somewhere along the way, the British Airways system failed to confirm his United Airlines flight back to Home State City, and when we arrived in DC, the flight was already overbooked. Tired, ready to get home to my kids, bursting with hormones and throbbing with the pain of cankles the size of canteloupes, I. Was. Done. My ticket was fine, but the thought that Hubby might not get a seat on the flight back was more than I could take. Actually I didn’t break down at first. I was frustrated, but I really thought we’d get everything fixed somehow after calling the travel agency our university used and getting assurance from them that they’d try to get it taken care of.

Yeah, well, it turns out that even travel agents can’t make seats magically appear when they’ve been overbooked.

I called my mom to let her know what was going on, mainly just to give her a heads up. I have an uncle in the DC area, so it wasn’t like Hubby would be completely stranded, but we had no idea if he was home, had plans, etc. I made sure to let the travel agent know that it was their responsibility to find an alternative flight and cover any accommodations necessary. While waiting to hear back from them, my mom’s reaction is what put me over the edge.

Mom to Me: “Sh*# happens. It happens to everybody. You seem to think nobody makes mistakes and nothing bad ever happens to anyone but you. But one of you better get on that flight because I told your daughter you’d be home tonight.”

As I started to break down in tears, all I could mumble was that I’d call her back when we knew more. Hearing me cry, all she could say was, “What is wrong?”And she really had no clue why I’d be so upset. All I needed to hear was “Gosh, I’m sorry this is happening to you guys…that sucks.” Or, “I can understand how frustrating that would be after so many hours travelling already.” Or, anything else that showed a modicum of empathy and compassion for our situation. Any of my friends would get why I’d be upset and how exhausted we both were. So why can’t my mother? Why does it seem like she’s never on my side? Even though I’m not surprised by her reaction—it’s actually quite typical of her—I never stop being hurt when she does things like this.

After everyone at Gate A1 saw my ugly-face cry, and as many people as one could expect willingly gave up their seat for comp tickets, I hugged Hubby, gave him the cell phone, and boarded the plane by myself. Things only got worse after that. I’ve spent the entire flight convincing myself this is the wrong decision. I can’t bear the thought of taking the girls away from their grandparents. I can’t stand the idea of my parents missing out on birthdays, special occasions, or just being close to be with us in case of an emergency. My body and mind are completely overwhelmed with sadness just thinking about relocating. I’m scared. No, I’m terrified that I’m making a bad decision, and I can’t imagine going through with this.

Doha: Day Four

* Posted retroactively*

First thing this morning, we toured one last nursery, the one we’d previously checked out online and felt it might be a good fit. It turns out we were right. Beautiful facilities, collective nap time, it stays open an hour later than most other nurseries, AND they take infants younger than 12 months. On top of all this, the baby room caps at 8 infants, and the lead teacher (one of three total) is a nurse certified by the Ministry of Health. Needless to say, we loved it! And, can you believe it’s actually cheaper than the Montessori we have back at home?!

After the visit to the nursery, we met one last time with the liberal arts program coordinator at the university. Basically, he wanted/needed us to give him an idea of whether or not we still wanted jobs. Actually, it was more like him telling us, “Okay, convince me this is the place you want to be.” We figured this was the purpose of the meeting, so we were prepared to give him a commitment. We said yes.

And shortly thereafter we were on a guided bus tour of Doha, complete with a visit to the Souq Wakif (anyone need a good sport falcon?), the camel market (did you know they like to have privacy when they have “relations”?), the world-class equestrian center, and an Arabian lunch at one of the oldest restaurants in town.
It’s amazing how quickly the mental flip switched from “Should we do this?” and “Can we do this?” to “We can do it” and “We’ll figure it out together.” After lunch, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and to finish packing. At midnight, we left Doha International Airport thinking the next time we come back here it will be to move into a new home and start a new phase of our lives

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Doha: Day Three

Day three was the Day of Touring Schools. Lots of schools & nurseries (which is what they call daycares, montessoris, etc.). We finally found the first thing we've fallen in love with here: The American School of Doha (ASD). It's really fabulous, and it's where we'd want H to be enrolled. It's very much like an American school that's simply been transplanted to Doha, except there's obviously a more multicultural student body. They have beautiful facilities, class sizes are around 20 kids per room, and thanks to Shell and Exxon, it has resources that most elementary schools in the States don't have (laptops for the kids, for example).

We did look at another possible school for her, and we were distinctly unimpressed. So, we kinda had our first potential "deal-breaker": H must get into ASD.

We toured two nurseries, one of which follows a modified British curriculum but employs a lot of the montessori methods, and the other of which follows an American curriculum with many of the montessori methods. We were most surprised to learn two things: no collective naptime and no tiny babies. The assistant director at the first nursery, which was quite impressive, was in disbelief at the idea that an entire group of 2-year olds could all go to sleep for a nap at the same time. Instead, they have a "sleeping room." At the parents' request, or if a child appears to need rest, he/she is taken to the "sleeping room" for a nap, where he/she is watched and cared for by one of the staff. The rooms have tiny little toddler beds where they can rest at any time during the day if needed. In addition, the custom here is that children aren't placed in a nursery until they're about 1-year old (or old enough to sit up and pull up on their own). The idea of a 6 or 8-week old baby going to nursery seemed to shock the non-Western people we spoke to.

Of course, all school and nursery administrators confirmed what we've already been told: the entire daily schedule here begins earlier than in the US and is abbreviated compared to what we're used to. So, most schools begin between 6:30-8:00 and run until 2:00-3:00. This is partly due to prayer times & Muslim schedules and partly due to the weather during the hot months. And, I suppose, partly due to a cultural difference that places more importance on family time rather than 10 and 12-hour work days like we do in the US. There's also a difference in the class sizes. Though the ratios in the nurseries are 3:1 (children: adults), a class may have 22 children. Only about 1/3 of them go every day of the week, but that's a lot of kids in a room, especially when we're used to E's class size of 8 toddlers (two teachers). I was a bit put off by the large, loud nature of the classes, even though I knew there were plenty of teachers caring for the kids. We liked both nurseries well enough, but we left the tour with a preference for one over the other because of the nicer facilities and outdoor play areas. One was also more centrally located than the other. But, we were still insistent that we visit the montessori school I'd found while back at home. I found it online, and all the descriptions offered on its website really made it sound like it would be what was closest to what E is used to.

We were all toured out, so we called it a day and grabbed lunch. I'm scheduled to present at ASECS next week, and I have yet to revise my conference paper, so I took the afternoon to work on it a bit and take a quick nap. While I did, Hubby visited one of the main hospitals to see if they carry H's medication (for ADHD). They'd never heard of it. This isn't good.

We ended the evening with dinner at a really nice local steakhouse with the liberal arts program coordinator and his wife. They have three daughters and have lived here for three years. They too initially signed on for just two years, and now they aren't sure if they'll ever come back to the US; that's how happy they are here, and this is the kind of story we keep hearing. People plan to come here for a year or two, and they end up staying because they a) really like the lifestyle and increased family and/or research time, and b) like the freedom of not having the usual stresses that accompany an academic career in the US (committees, high teaching load, pressure to publish, publish, publish, and nonstop budget cuts). During dinner, Hubby and I made it clear that while we still have a couple main concerns--getting H into ASD and making sure we can get her medication--we're committed to this opportunity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Doha: Day Two

Things are better...kinda. If Monday left us with more questions than answers, especially about things concerning the kids, Tuesday brought mainly answers and most of them good ones.

Taxes: we're okay. They've put in a new tax offset program, which means the university sets back enough to cover the taxes on our non-salary benefits. We also got a good explanation of how the taxes work with the salary and the foreign tax exclusion benefit, which we probably won't qualify for the first year because of the amount of time we'll come back and spend in the States. But, during the second year, we'll have no taxes on the first $91,400 we each make separately. This is what we needed to hear since the plan is to aggressively attack the student loan debt and put a big enough chunk of money in savings to come back with a large down payment on a house.

Travel money: Holy Sh*#! We receive $7,200 per person each year to use however we want. If we want to make several trips back home, we go. If we want to bank every penny, we save it. If we want to take the kids to Paris for Christmas and London for Spring Break, bon voyage baby! The other great news is that we found out they'd be flying us business-class if/when we come over with the kids. Even better is that another couple with little ones E's age said they didn't have any problems flying over because you usually take an overnight flight, and the kids sleep a good portion of the flight. When they wake up, they have a big breakfast, watch a movie, and then you're pretty much here.

For the kids: they'll be great here! There are many parks, most of which have playgrounds, and it turns out that there's a zoo, which only costs about $1.00 to get into! E will love having the zoo as an activity that we could do several times a week. I toured the giant Villagio Mall, which has everything H loves: from Claires to Limited Too, along with every high-end designer you can imagine. I did a "pretend" shopping run through the Carrefour, and they have lots of American brands that are a bit more expensive than what we pay in the States, but at least familiar things are there. The down side is that you never know if something will be in stock. For example, one week there won't be any Kellogs Fruit Loops.

So, the next time you see buy 20 boxes. One person told us the general shopping rule is that, if you see a line of people buying something, you just automatically get in line to buy some too because you never know when it will be available again.

The shopping is much more like the European style. That is, you go to the bakery to get baked goods, the produce market for fresh fruits and veggies, one store for the meat, and another for boxed and/or processed foods (though these aren't as common). Gone will be the days of doing 1-2 weeks worth of grocery shopping and Wal-Mart items all in a Saturday morning. Not only is it not practical, but it's also somewhat unpredictable because of the traffic.

They drive like maniacs here! Seriously, for the first time in my life, I've experienced car sickness. At first I thought it was related to being pregnant or having jet lag, or a combination. No, it's car sickness. It only happens when we're being driven around by our driver (and yes, having a driver is something I could easily get used to), who follows the usual practice of gunning the car to accelerate and screeching to a stop when finally forced to do so. Then there's the whizzing around the round-abouts...ugh, somebody hand be a barf bag!

We met with a very helpful HR person, took a tour of the tiny library (doesn't matter because we're still connected to the main campus), and then had a lovely dinner with a history professor (for whom Hubby has TA'd) and his wife. By the end of the day, our concerns about how the kids would transition to life here were pretty well allayed. So, I turned to my own fears...

I'm a bit overwhelmed by how much is unknown. How long will it take to find a workday rhythm here, especially when the nurseries (daycares) begin at 7:30 but end at 2:00-2:30? How am I going to deal with the possibility of being awakened by the call to prayer at 5:00 a.m.? Am I going to lose my mind during the first three weeks, during which all the paperwork (permanent residency permit, driver's license, criminal background check, etc.) is being processed, and none of their processes make any sense? We keep hearing that the key is being flexible and "going with the flow." here's how that works:

Me + going with the flow = oil + water.

I can be adventurous, but I generally worship my daily routine. And then there's my fear about finishing up revisions to the dissertation. I'm terrified that things might be so unsettled for the fall that my whole work schedule will turn into a matter of simply surviving on a daily basis. Basically, the idea of how long it will take to Figure It All Out is overwhelming and unanswerable. Hubby and I know that we *will* Figure It All Out, but I'm scared of the worst-case scenario...and I don't even know what the worst-case scenario is yet?? I'm just wondering how well I can cope with some of the daily differences. None of them alone can be considered a deal-breaker, but if they're added up, will they be enough to make me crazy or regret my decision? Or, will I do what all the other expats seem to have done: learn to be flexible? Ultimately, this is probably a good lesson to learn anyway, right?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Few Pros and Cons To Consider

For those who know me in real life, the fact that this entire list has to do primarily with food will come as absolutely no surprise.

Pro: There are Starbucks here. Many of them. This makes me very, very happy! And, I'd have the money to not feel bad about drinking Starbucks.

Con: There are no Mexican restaurants. This makes me very, very sad. The closest thing to Tex-Mex would be the chicken quesadillas at Applebees.

Pro: Fresh produce--mangoes, dates, figs--from Lebanon and Syria is dirt cheap at the local produce market.

Con: Pork is forbidden under Islam.

Pro: A good connection to a "friend" at the local military base can get you a ham and some country sausage!

Con: Traffic is an issue; it's described as an "arms race," and the winner is the one with the biggest vehicle.

Pro: Almost all restaurants deliver, including the standard American places like McDonalds, Chilis, Bennigans, Arbys, Pizza Hut, etc., as well as all the local traditional places. The means one doesn't have to brave the traffic just to get dinner.

Con: Most montessori schools/daycares don't take children until they're one year old.

Pro: It is completely normal to have very high quality help, either a part-time or live-in nanny, provide child care in the home for extremely low wages...this person usually becomes just another member of your family, someone who all the children become quite fond of.

Pro: Families are always privileged over singles. In fact, there are some parks that are for families only. The Villagio Mall is only open to families on Fridays, and some restaurants cater their seating and facilities to families. For example, the Burger King has a two- or three-level indoor playground, along with these giant bouncy slide things outside.

Pro: The Corniche (pictured above) is beautiful for dinner outside, a picnic, or exercise.

Day One in Doha

Yesterday can be simplified as a whirlwind of meetings and activity that did nothing more than leave us with more questions than answers.

We started the day in need of local currency (riyals), an electric adaptor (mine has never worked for some reason), a cell phone, and an itinerary. I exchanged money at the hotel, and we got the latter two items upon arriving to campus. We met with two different Associate Deans of Academic Affairs, one of whom was American, so we understood him clearly, but there didn't really seem to be an obvious point to our meeting. The other would be Our Boss. He signs off on all contracts and oversees all faculty hires, etc. He may or may not be American, despite being trained in the States and a transfer from our University's main campus. Whatever the reason, it was not only very diffficult to understand what he was saying, but some of his answers to our questions weren't clear. He seemed to give a slight bit of deference to Hubby over me, but I'm not sure why. It could be a "man thing" or it could be that he found out Hubby would definitely be graduating in August, while I probably won't. Meh, who knows...

After chatting with one of the English faculty members, a single mom who's on hormone-replacement therapy (since hers is made from horse urine, it's against Islam and unavailable at pharmacies here), we found one of our first potential problems: H's medication for her ADHD. It may or may not be available here...and if it's not, some sort of drug-smuggling might be necessary, though such drug-smuggling apparently comes with no penalty or fine (they just take the meds).

Our second potential problem came about when I heard that there may be some issues in terms of taxes as a result of the non-salary benefits: housing, living expenses, vehicle allowance, etc. All factored together, these benefits generally double ones base salary. As a couple, this person suggested, we'd need to find out what taxes might be due on approximately $250,000, because this is what our salary and benefits add up to. Gulp. My list of questions and concerns just got significantly longer.

Then, we had our housing tour. The house was as big as I'd imagined: 4 good-sized bedrooms upstairs, living, dining, kitchen, laundry room, and a maid's room and bathroom downstairs. The furnishings were okay--not our style and it wouldn't feel like "home"--but hey, they're free. The stove/oven isn't what we'd consider standard size (they're smaller), but the house was almost brand new and located in a new compound they've designated as family only (and only those that come from our state). The rec room was nice, as was the swimming pool, but Hubby and I were surprisingly taken aback at the obvious lack of a yard. For some reason, I'd assumed that if there was a rec center and swimming pool, that some sort of landscaping might be present, even if it weren't part of each unit. Rather, perhaps a communal playground-type grassy area for kids. Nope. No green. At all. Anywhere. And yes, I realize this is a desert. We didn't think it would be a big deal, but it kinda was. Thus, we left the housing tour really concerned about what the kids would do outside. Are there parks? If so, is it just a bunch of grass with no play equipment? What do we do for our children, who are used to living within walking distance of two very nice parks with lots of playground equipment?

By the time we headed to dinner, I was starting to have my reservations about this whole relocation idea. For dinner, we headed to Chingari,
an Indian Tandoori restaurant in the Ramada. As to be expected, fantastic food! We shared a tandoor platter for two, along with these cheesy, tandoor mushrooms, which were out of this world! We had both hit the Day One Jet Lag Wall, so in addition to new possible questions and issues, we were both a bit grumpy and sour. Well, Hubby was, I was more...thoughtful than grumpy, I think. I mean that in the sense that I was thinking about things differently now that I'd seen them, and I was thinking about questions, problems, changes, I hadn't anticipated. One of the best things about the day? Getting back to the hotel around 8:30 for an early bedtime. After talking to my mom and the girls, who are both having a great time at Nana's house, I was done for the night, thankfully too tired for any of the new worries to keep me awake.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

First Class, Yeah Baby!

Today's travels began a bit ominously with our arrival to Home State Airport, dropped off by my mom, when I realized I'd left my purse at her house (45 minutes down the road). All our cash, credit cards, driver's license, etc.). Thank God my dad was home and at the ready to grab my purse--and H, who loves participating in an important job--and fulfill the mission of bringing my purse to the airport. Whew...luckily things have gotten significantly better.

Where am I?

The First Class Lounge for British Airways in Washington Dulles.

What am I?

Amazed that, for some people, this is how they're used to travelling.

Seriously, this is the only time I wish I had an iPhone-type gadget to take a picture and upload it directly to the web, as many of my graduate student friends would like to travel vicariously through me right now (hi Amy!). Forgive me if I sound like a hillbilly seeing escalators for the first time in life, but "Get out!" Unlimited open bar, champagne available upon request, open computers and free wi-fi, an espresso machine, fresh fruit and all sorts of tasty snacks (lots of Walker brand things).

In the future, if we're doing research-related travel, and thus travelling without the kids, first-class airfare could easily be how we spend all of our travel funds.

Not really...I don't think...but, you know, maybe once in a while?

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Little Nugget

Here's a profile picture from yesterday's ultrasound, where Bebe #3 measured in at over a week ahead, and I'm just entering the phase in which the baby gains most of her weight.

Unfortunately, she's still breech (ugh), and because of her size (4 1/2 pounds), the doctor and ultrasound technician said she only has about three weeks to get herself flipped around. My doctor mentioned the technique used to flip the baby, but he also confirmed that the procedure is quite painful and is accompanied by the possible risk of an emergency C-section if the baby's heart rate doesn't recover after the flip. It's also not guaranteed to I'm just thinking lots of flippy, gymnastics thoughts for bebe and hoping she turns herself around on her own :)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Why Do I Like This?

Everything in me doesn't want to like this song. Because of who I am, because I have daughters who will likely be part of the college culture described in the song, and because much of it is inherently misogynistic. And then there's the drug reference and the visuals that perhaps hit a bit close to home for someone who drank 4 nights out of the week as an undergraduate. I did the whole party thing, the drinking for the sole purpose of getting drunk, the keg stand to keep up with the guys, the beer bongs in my friend Heath's dorm room parties, and the occasional purging that sometimes had to follow such excess. What's sad is that I have so many really good memories of these times, and I remember them as generally fun even considering the hangovers and headaches that often followed. I guess maybe there's a certain nostalgia the song inspires in addition to the catchy hook and refrain. So why can't I stop hating myself every time I sing along?

Friday, March 06, 2009

RBoC: Friday Edition

  • At my OB visit this morning, my doctor proclaimed that I'd "have this baby by the end of April." That's it. No reasons given. Just an arrogant proclamation, which seems to be based on I don't know what. According to U/S measurements, the baby is measuring one week ahead. My fundal measurement is one week ahead. However, with two previous pregnancies and deliveries, my body has *never* shown any inclination to go into labor naturally. H was induced a week late, despite me being 90% effaced and dilated to a 2 for more than 4 weeks prior. Seriously, I hope this little bird stays in at least until her due date if only to prove the doctor wrong! Hmmph!
  • My doctor heard my yucky cough and congestion today and was concerned enough to give me a scrip for a Z-pack and order me to pretty much stay off my feet and do nothing but drink liquids all weekend. He doesn't mind the international flight in one week, but he doesn't want me getting on the plane unless I'm completely 100% healthy. Given this, he wants to do an U/S next Thursday to peek in on the little one, check the location of the placenta, and generally make sure everything's okay before I fly overseas.
  • I'm sad for my Mom, who is devastated at the loss of her cat, who had to be put down this morning. She's had the cat for more than 10 years, and over that time my mom has nursed her through kitty anxiety, a heart problem, and all sorts of things. Not that there's a good time to lose a cherished pet, but this is a particularly hard time for my mom to go through such a loss.
  • I got funding for my ASECS trip at the end of March!! All but about $75 of my trip will be covered--woohoo!
  • After I finish at ASECS, I'm heading to DC to visit my aunt and uncle, who are taking me to the fancy schmancy Italian restaurant, Obelisk. Five-course fixed-price menu that changes daily? Count me in! Personal tour guides for my first trip to DC? Check. Getting pampered at a house that could double as a B&B and is full of quiet, as they have no children? Yep, I'll take one of those too. Just the way to finish my travels before I come back for my lying in :)
  • H got her braces on yesterday! She's got a mouth full of teal-blue and metal. Since I associate braces with teenagers, this instantly made her look more grown up than I'd like. She looks like more of a typical pre-teen than a 10-year old.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Spring Break 2009: Doha or Bust

Good News:

The tickets are being booked today for our Spring Break trip to Doha! We leave on Saturday, March 14th, around noon, and get to Doha Sunday evening--a 26-hour trip if you include layover time, etc. Then we return Friday, March 20th. I'm exhausted just thinking about it, but hoping that I won't be so excited that I can't sleep on the first leg of the trip.

My mom and I actually had a productive and healthy conversation yesterday about the move. She was receptive to my suggestion that she take a look at the Relocation Binder available online and provided by the support office here at my university's home campus. The girls were originally going to be in Home State over Spring Break, but we'd scheduled H's time so that she'd have some alone time with my parents before going to her dad's house. Because of our trip, that's no longer possible, but my Mom took the change with a grain of salt and said no big deal! At first, I thought she must be self-medicating, but it appears that her Jeckyl & Hyde mood swings are the result of menopausal hormone issues, so there you go. Too bad there's not a schedule she could give me to let me know which are the good days and which are the day ;)

Also, she said she isn't ruling out international travel! She isn't making any promises to come, but she's not saying it's out of the question. This is progress people!

Bad News:

We found out Hubby, who has been teaching 2 classes at a local CC this semester to help us put back enough money for the summer and pay off medical bills from my neck surgeries last year, won't have ANY summer teaching opportunities! Evidently, the full-time faculty are scared of the unknown economy, and ALL of them have requested summer teaching, usually something happily delegated to the part-timers. Luckily, between our tax refund, which we put into savings, and the extra money he's bringing in this semester, we should have enough to make it through July and August. At that point, our salary from the new positions should kick in, but I'm still checking on this. Either way, we'll be moving before August 1, and our living expenses for the month prior to the start of the fall semester are covered. What does this all mean???

More Good News:

Both Hubby and I will not be teaching this summer! He'll be able to help take care of the new baby, while I continue to get some dissertation work done, and we'll be able to work together on the relocation process! On one hand, I kinda feel like we're being lazy bums. I've NEVER not since I was 15. This already feels weird. On the other hand, I have no doubt I'll be plenty busy and in definite need of hubby's help with both baby and relocation, which also includes a massive garage and moving what we're not selling into a storage unit back in home state.

For those of you who've dealt with international relocation, what are the biggest glitches you've run into?