Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pregnancy Update: Rolls and Flutters

I felt the baby!

I was talking to the coordinator for the Chinese student host family program last week, when I felt a rather large rolling sensation in my lower abdomen. I acted nonchalant, but inside I was thinking, "Oh my gosh!!! That had to be the baby!!"

Later that night, I felt flutters and bubbles and ripples. I realized I had been feeling it for a week, but didn't know what it was. I just thought it was my tummy settling or something.

Since then, I've felt it at least once a day. Sometimes it feels like a butterfly, and other times it feels more like an actual kick. It's weird to imagine a little baby in there moving around, floating in the abyss that is my womb.

It's been pretty crazy with the Chinese kids, but we managed to take another belly shot during the madness. My belly doesn't look that big, but I already feel big.

18 weeks

Sorry for the grainy picture. Maybe we'll find a new belly picture location, because the lighting in this hallway is questionable. I don't have many blank walls though.

The next update will be after we find out the sex in mid February. Pretty stoked about that! Pink or blue? Cast your vote in our baby pool!

Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm Just Happy Again

I used to say to myself during my depressed infertile days, "Having a baby won't make you happy." I still agree with that statement, because happiness isn't found in the next thing. It's found in the now.

Growing up, I was always a happy person. Everything was exciting until infertility. During those days, I thought, "Well this is real life. It's hard, and happiness is just naivity." I found happiness during infertility in acting, crafting, and spending time with family, but there was an underlying sadness that came with the hopelessness of maybe never having kids.

But now I'm happy about everything again. The weather, my church, my responsibilities, my clothes, my car, food, Rufio, Zane, Earl Grey tea, electric blankets, the future! The list goes on. I'm just happy again. 

I don't think it's because I'm pregnant, but it helps.

I still acknowledge suffering in the world, which breaks my heart in a way it wouldn't have before infertility. I earnestly pray for others like I never did before. I've had sad moments, but the underlying feeling this time is joy. Infertility made me more real and less naive about suffering. But I was naive to think that I would never feel happy again.

Life comes in seasons. I was in a season of suffering, which emotionally continued into my first trimester. Now I'm in a season of joy and unhindered happiness. It may not last forever (probably won't), but it's here now.

Mostly, I'm grateful because much of the bitterness toward parents and babies and pregnancy that clogged my heart has melted away. I'm hopeful and excited and happy to finally join the mom club.

God is good. He's the redeemer of lives and joy. He makes all things new.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hosting Chinese Boys - Round One

What a weekend!

This week we volunteered to host 10-11 year old Chinese kids, who are on a trip to the United States. One of their stops is Orlando to visit Disney World. While here, they're all staying with host families to get a true American experience.


They LOVED Rufio. They called him, "Chow Chow" and played with him so much that he began to run away from them and stick close to me in the kitchen or bedroom. He wasn't used to so much love. 

Food was an adventure. I cooked a lot! Zane cooked a lot too. He covered the meats, and I cooked the sides. Thank the Lord for boil-in-a-bag rice!! The first night I made chili, which they didn't like, which caused me to believe they didn't eat much food, but that was incorrect. They LOVED chicken and rice, hamburgers, and Chick Fila. AND, boy, could they put the food away!


They asked for hotdogs for breakfast one day. I didn't have buns, so I just made hotdogs. Zane also made pancakes that morning. As much as we tried to get them to try pancakes the American way, they preferred to roll up their hotdog in a pancake with ketchup. To each his own. 

We discovered they liked sweet drinks, which included sweetening their water. For the most part, they didn't like sweet food. There were a few exceptions like the ice cream at Chick Fila, which a couple of them finished. 


The last morning we were pretty rushed to get out with all their luggage and Disney souvenirs, so we took them to McDonalds for some sausage mcmuffins - no cheese! They don't like cheese! My heart broke for them a little bit, because cheese is pretty much my favorite food in the world.

It was a quite an adventure with four boys at once. Only one spoke English, so he became our translator and spokesperson for the group.

Even with the help of a little English, everything was a process of patience and repetition. "Please get dressed." "I'm not serving breakfast until you're dressed."  "You have to be completely packed tonight." "Not until you're packed up." haha, now I really wish I had been more quick to obey my mom in my youth. They were great kids. They were just kids - not worrying about the time or whether or not they had matching socks. Kids are kids.

We sent these four on their way this morning and will pick up two more tonight. I have to say, two sounds pretty nice after four kids for four days.

New adventures await us this week! Can't wait to share them with you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bok Tower Gardens - Sibling Edition

Over a year ago, Zane took me to Bok Tower Gardens for the first time. It was a fabulous day, and I've been wanting to go back ever since. We finally went again, this time with my sister and bro-in-law.


My favorite part is the Oak Grove right behind the tower. Last time I said I would bring a blanket and a picnic if we ever returned, so we did! We sat in the grass, snacked on the rest of our lunches that we didn't eat on the car ride, and listened to the 30-minute carillon concert. After a little while, we played a round of Dominion. Dominion outside is awesome. 


This little guy kept bothering us, because some of the male members of our party repeatedly tried calling him over. Luckily, I know how to scare off squirrels (all those years at UCF taught me something). Ask me sometime, and I'll show you.


After a while, we realized we needed to walk the grounds before the park closed. So we went on an adventure to look at every point of interest on the map. 


Here I am at horseshoe gardens, just relaxing all natural-like. There's the tower behind me!

Lyd and Kev on a cute bench. The gardens are full of little nooks and crannies with benches, so you can just sit and enjoy nature.

Zane found a giant vase to climb inside. Yes, he's inside. It's not an optical illusion. 

It was another great day at Bok Tower. I totally recommend this day trip if you live in central Florida. Lyd even found BOGO coupons to get in, which made it even better! So be sure to search for those online before you go!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Voice-Over Work Rocks

Last week I got to act! Yay! I've been feeling deprived, even though I've been occupied in other ways. When I got a call to do some voice-over work as part of post production for 365 Decision Time, I was super excited. 

Partly because I had never done voice over work before. I love new experiences. 


I shamelessly asked my friend to take pictures of me in the sound booth. 


We basically just needed to re-record some of my lines from a scene. They played a 3-second interval of the clip on a loop, and I said my line over myself saying the line. Sometimes it was hard, because I had to match my line to my lips on screen. After I got the timing right, I said the lines different ways with different voice inflections. So. Fun. 

Everyone was really laid-back and fun. We laughed a lot, so much that at one point the director told me not to look through the window and focus on the line, because it was sounding like I was laughing. I guess I was having too much fun. 

I want to look into exclusive voice over work now. My voice in anime? Cartoons? I need to work on silly voices for that sort of thing. I could be the next Ash or Dora! 

Anyways, I loved it and I would love to explore this area of acting more!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hosting Chinese Kids

In the past, we've enjoyed the opportunity of hosting Japanese college students during the month of March. It's a fun, cross-cultural experience. This year, we were presented with a new opportunity of hosting Chinese elementary-aged kids. We signed up right away.

Next week, we'll have four kids for four days, rest for four days, and take on two kids for four days. I have never in my life looked after two or four kids for four consecutive days and nights.

I started thinking about meals and making six sandwiches for lunches, cooking up a dozen eggs for breakfast, and who knows how much spaghetti it takes to feed hungry boys, plus Zane, plus a crazy pregnant eater for dinner? Coordinating showers, getting everyone to bed, getting everyone up in the morning. It'll give me a small taste of what it's like to be a mom of lots of kids.

I'm sure it'll still be less work than this baby will require in June.

Seriously, I'm really excited. I'm glad we get to do two different groups, so we can figure things out with the first (larger) group, and try new things with the second group, like taking them out to eat. I can't wait to share our stories with you next month!

I plan on using my one Chinese phrase too! I'll let you know what that is next time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Game of Thrones

I just finished the bestselling George R. R. Martin novel, A Game of Thrones. Wow. It's the first book in the series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

A friend of ours told me about this series in December and made a very convincing argument that I should read it. He warned me there was some graphic content, so I went in knowing that I might not like it. I loved it. Graphic content aside (It was milder than I originally expected, but there is quite a bit of violence and sex), this book was fabulous.

It's also an HBO series. I would have already known this if I were hip and rich enough for cable. Alas, I haven't watched it, and from what I hear, the graphic content is heavier in the series.

It's the story of a fantasy kingdom, much like I'd imagine medieval England to have been. Several families rule different parts of the country, having overthrown a previous king. Peace that's lasted nearly a decade is coming to an end. No one can be trusted within the kingdom. Mythical creatures lurk in the north, and heirs of an overthrown king plan their return from a country across the sea.

Martin's characters are real. They're exactly as you would expect people to be in a harsh world like this. They change and grow and make real decisions. The web of relationships is extensive, as it is in real life.

Martin wrote published this novel in 1997, but it's just now gaining popularity with the tv show.

Martin weaves an incredibly complex plot that had me glued from the start. By the time I reached the last chapter, I was already forming a plan to acquire the second book.

I recommend it to adults, especially if you like Lord of the Rings-type literature. It's a little raw for younger readers, but I suspect young people have read it. It's not an easy read, like my fun YA fiction novels. This book is heavy and full of histories and genealogies. It took me two weeks to read it, and I'm a fast reader.

Forewarned of the somewhat graphic content, go and read this great novel.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pregnancy Update - Baby Pool!

I made it safely into the second trimester, Praise the Lord. I think the nausea is finally behind me.

Three new things in trimester two.

1. The most noticeable difference so far in this trimester is my appetite. I want to eat all the time! I eat about six times a day. I'm making healthy choices, but no matter what I choose, I'm usually hungry again within two hours.

2. Last week I started wearing maternity pants. My regular pants were starting to be painful on my belly, even with a rubber band extending the button, so I decided to make the switch.

3. I've had several emotional moments thinking of my baby growing up. Once I was driving and listening to Jimmy Eat World's "In the Middle," and I started crying thinking about my baby becoming an adult and how I'll say, "Everything will be just fine," during the struggles of life. I used to listen to that song in high school, and my baby will be in high school some day finding his/herself. "Just be yourself, it doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else." Tearing up already.


Sharing joy versus flaunting prosperity.

I'm still determining the right balance between sharing the excitement of my pregnancy and rubbing it in people's faces. There are still several women in my circle waiting on babies, and I remember what it was like with pictures of ultrasounds and growing bellies on facebook. I want to be sensitive to that.

It was also encouraging to hear stories of pregnancy after infertility where women were completely joyful about their pregnancies. The worst thing for infertile women is pregnant women complaining about pregnancy. Well, I am joyful about this pregnancy. This is incredible, and I'm so grateful, and I'm enjoying it a lot. I didn't think I'd get to experience this, and yet I am. I'll never understand it.

All that to say, I decided to do two "Yay, I'm pregnant" things:

1. My first belly picture.

Sixteen Weeks

2. A baby pool. Just for fun. No pressure to participate, of course: www.bebepool.com/aabracadeborah

We'll find out the sex next month, Lord willing. I'm ready for either one. I'm pretty excited about finding out. I want to know so I can start to plan. I already have some nursery ideas in the works, including a sweet work of art to compliment a piece I made in high school. More on that later.

We can also nail down a name once we know which direction to take it. Naming a person is a lot harder than I thought it would be. "What's in a name?" Juliet says. A person's identity! John Proctor has a whole monologue about it, "It is my name! I'll never have another in my life!" Just a couple literary references. Points for the names of those plays, if you know them.

Pregnancy has been weird and fun and emotional. I'll never understand the Lord's timing in it, but I'm thankful to Him and I trust Him in it all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Matched

I finally read Matched by Allie Condie. I heard great things from multiple sources about this dystopian novel, and I wasn't disappointed. I read it in two days, only because I was too tired to stay up late and finish it the first day. 

It's the story of Cassia, a seventeen year-old girl living in a perfect society, where every decision is made for its members based on statistics. One of those decisions is who you will be matched with, or who you will marry. Cassia gets a perfect match, but when she opens the document to learn more about her match, the face of a different boy appears.

Now she's faced with the choice to follow what her society wants her to do, or make her own choices. 

It's really a fantastic read, especially for anyone who loved Divergent (which I did!). There were similarities because of the dystopian genre, but Matched was still fresh, creative and exciting.

Matched basically sets up a bigger story, so at the end of the book, you're ready to know what happens next. I'm excited to read the sequel, Crossed.  

It was very good! I recommend it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I've never done New Year's resolutions before. This year, I pondered 2012 and the freshness and change that will occur, and after some introspective exploration, I decided to make a list of resolutions. There are some areas of character and lifestyle that could use improvement.

Here they are:

Resolutions for character improvement:

  • Less complaining 
  • Less judging others/fixing their problems
  • More slow to anger and/or become irritable
  • Read at least one verse a day (Yeah, I'm not even gonna try to read the whole Bible in a year. I need to just get back into some routine with reading at all!) 
  • Pray for Zane everyday
  • Write in my journal more

Measurable goals:

  • Book a role while visibly pregnant or at least audition for several while pregnant
  • Prepare the nursery for baby - painting, sewing, etc. 
  • Organize office/guest room 
  • Purge unnecessary stuff we've been hoarding
  • Keep tighter track of budget and make sure we stay in it
  • Take a fun anniversary/baby-moon trip with Zane
  • Support Zane through simple tasks like making his lunch, ironing his clothes
  • Lose baby weight after baby is born 

These are mostly personal goals and resolutions, and I guess some of them are pretty vulnerable (don't tell anyone that I fix other people's problems). I tend to be pretty honest on this blog, so you guys shouldn't be too surprised.

Most of the measurable goals need to be accomplished before June, because I have no idea what's going to happen to me or my aspirations after baby enters the world. 

There you have it, my New Year's resolutions! What are you guys hoping to accomplish in 2012? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christians and Offensive Jokes

There have been times in life when I've been in a group with other Christians and was suddenly shocked or embarrassed by what comes out of their mouths, and I don't mean cursing.

The reason Christians shouldn't joke about certain things is that it is a poor representation of Christ and His unconditional love for all people, no matter what separates them from others. We need to love like that. When Christians joke about these subjects, it taints the witness they portray to the world.

Ephesians 5:1, 4 "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children...nor should there be any obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving."


In no particular order, six things Christians shouldn't joke about:

1. Homosexuality

I hate that the word "gay" became synonymous with "stupid." Whenever I hear Christians throw around that word or mock gay people, I want to scream. A huge percentage of gay people have been severely hurt by members of the church, and this kind of behavior only makes the gap bigger. Obviously people holding signs that say "God hates fags" is highly offensive, but so is careless joking as if gay people are less deserving of respect than straight people.


2. Retardation

I learned quickly in my social work classes that using the word "retard" was a big no-no, because disabled people deserve respect. In my acting class, we referred to it as the "r-word," because it's that offensive. If non-believers give people with disabilities that much respect, how much MORE should Christians?

I can only imagine the shame and anger that would pump through my veins if I had a child with disabilities and I heard someone say "retard." I almost wish everyone had a disabled person in their intimate circle, so that we'd all understand the importance of giving respect in this area.


3. Race

God made everyone. It's one thing to joke about differences in culture, but it's totally different to degrade people based on race. I remember hearing some pretty bad racist jokes and comments from Christians in my life. It seems like racist jokes are less popular, or maybe it's just I haven't heard any lately, but I know the problem still exists.


3. Pedophilia

I confronted some Christian friends in college about laughing about this in a restaurant. I was worried that the waitress or someone around us had been a victim of child molestation and would be hurt or upset by their careless jokes. How is this ever funny? I get sick to my stomach when I think of all the kids in this country and the world that have to experience the hell of pedophilia every day. It's not a joke. It's not funny. Ever.


4. Anorexia/Bulimia

Yeah, people really die of this. If you want to know the seriousness of eating disorders, you can read my friend's blog. She gives an honest account of her struggle as well as cases where people didn't beat the addiction. I hear people joke about being anorexic, but it's not really something to joke about. It's a serious addiction.

In fact, it's best to think twice about joking about other addictions too, like gambling, alcoholism, or drug usage. These things are damaging to the addict and their relationships.


5. Degrading Sex

Sex can be funny. I think it's okay to recognize the humor in this marital (and cultural) normality. But there's a time and place for appropriate sex jokes (some Christians say that time and place is never, which is okay too). However, when jokes degrade women or men, it's completely out of line. People and sex should be respected, in practice and joking.


6. Other Christians

This is a really hard one, because it's soooooo easy to do. I'm talking about making fun of what other Christians are doing to serve God. Here are some examples: the people who hand out tracts instead of candy at Halloween, mediocre Christian filmmaking, t-shirts that say "A Bread Crumb and Fish." Okay, so I have a hard time not laughing at some of that stuff, but the bottom line is that it divides us, when we should be unified. If it's not a foundational theological difference, don't let it divide.

John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."


I think it's good for people to know that Christians can have fun and joke around, but there's a God-honoring way to do it. We need to constantly consider how we are reflecting Christ, because people are watching and judging us. We'll fail. We're not perfect. We're doomed as hypocrites, but we can keep trying and keep moving toward a more Christ-like lifestyle.

Lastly, I should say that I've been guilty of all this stuff at one time or another, so hopefully this post doesn't come across too point-the-finger-like.