Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Harlem Pool Date

Now that I have 4 weeks to go until Baby Agbai arrives I have a sudden urge to go swimming! It's not because it's super hot outside, but when I was walking alongside Jackie Robinson Park last week I noticed the pool was filled with water and it looked so inviting:



It opened this week, and I found out it's FREE! I had posted on Facebook my dilemma of buying a new maternity swimsuit for only 4 weeks of use, but one of my friend's suggested just wearing a bikini and overing up with one of Uka's shirts. I checked the rules and as long as the shirt is white I can do it! YAY!

I've checked the weather, and it looks like next Monday will be my swimming day (90 degrees!). Uka's going to come with me, and I want to get there right when it opens. 

I'll be sure to post an update with pictures after my visit, but I'm very much looking forward to mine and Uka's pool date! Here's an "official" picture of the Jackie Robinson pool:




Now you really want to know what makes me excited beyond just our pool date??? It's thinking about taking my lil' baby chunky there next summer; I already know she's gonna be a Waterbaby!



Monday, June 28, 2010

Planned obsolescence . . .

"  . . . is a policy of deliberately planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete or nonfunctional after a certain period. Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because to obtain continuing use of the product the consumer is under pressure to purchase again...The purpose of planned obsolescence is to hide the real cost per use from the consumer, who will be willing to pay a higher price for the product than if he had been aware of its limited useful life." - Wikipedia

Planned obsolescence is one topic I get really worked up about especially now as the rate of new gadgets entering the marketplace becomes dizzying. I've witnessed it firsthand on many occasions: 

iPod mini


I received this as a gift at my first job and I LOOOOVED it! At the time the iPod hadn't been out that long, and everyone in our office wanted one. I had set up a rep meeting for several of my coworkers and when no one showed up but me, I won the iPod by default. It was originally green, but I took it back to the store for a pink one. Anyway, two days after the warranty expired the following year it died. I couldn't believe it! It just wouldn't turn on anymore. I took it back to the Apple store, and I was calm, but frustrated. The customer service rep sympathized with me and gave me another one. 

I haven't owned any other Apple products, but after going through 4 iPods I do see how their headphones always break after a short amount of time. For such a pricey product they make the cheapest headphones, probably to get us to buy more expensive ones which I always end up doing (not from Apple though). 

With all the problems going on with the new iPhone4 it appears that these companies are in a rush to get products out without testing their viability or shelf-life. I'm sure there's already an iPhone5 in the works, but Apple is so adept at their advertising and knows how many of us are suckers for their sleek products that we just keep playing into the vicious cycle. To be honest this psychological cycle is what first sparked my interest in advertising that I decided to make a career of it. 

MailMate Shredder














I received this about 3 Christmases ago from my parents - yes, I had actually asked for it and was so excited when I got it. Well, this past fall it broke out of the blue. It completely stopped shredding. Uka took it apart and found it was singed on the inside. Unsurprisingly, it was outside of the warranty period so there was nothing we could do about getting a replacement from Staples so we ponied up the cash and bought a new one (a different brand) on Amazon.com. We'll see how long it lasts  . . .

Cell Phones


I've had a really rough time with cell phones over the years. Granted, some of the issues were my own fault: I dropped one in the toilet, I spilled tea on another, I dropped one behind my radiator, etc. Nonetheless, there are other issues I've had with just poor service in general, phones breaking for no reason (including buttons popping off and chargers dying) and batteries that need replacing. I totally get why the cell phone companies plan for these things making us slaves to contracts and continually hoping that the next new release or software update will atone previous issues. I can't understand why they just can't put together a phone that has all the kinks worked out and tested before pushing it to market and make a phone that has longevity! 

I remember my first phone was a Nokia and I had that for a good 3 years. It worked very well, but it was a clunker. The Motorola Q (pictured above) was going to be my "business phone" as I wanted to look professional, but I quickly learned that the battery only lasted until lunchtime. Ugghhh. 

I was totally against getting a BlackBerry, but I ended up getting the Pearl not only because it was pink - like the iPod mini- but because I decided I didn't want to look to business-y. Now that the Pearl failed me and I have the violet 8530 that I posted about here, the signal strength is appalling. Everyone talks about how Verizon has the best coverage and if that's so, why can't I talk in my own apartment? I have huge windows throughout my apartment but suffer from dropped calls constantly. I'm in the midst of a battle with them for early termination. If I win I'll end up switching to T-Mobile who has awful call quality but better prices and better service (Uka uses them so I witness his call completion firsthand). I'll be sure to post an update . . .


Dell Inspiron 5150 Laptop










This awful product is last as it's caused me the most headaches. Uka warned me years ago not to buy a Dell, but I was so scared to get an Apple, which I hadn't used since elementary school, so I didn't. Man, I wish I had listened to his advice.

I had a PC in college and in 2005 I transferred all my data from it to this laptop. It took forever to figure out how to do this on my own. Since, that time, it had started running slowly so Uka increased my RAM. I also had problems with the battery so I had it replaced. But the worst happened in 2007. I had sent my Dell back for some type of repair in 2007, and a few months later before I went to Las Vegas in September (when Uka and I got engaged) I remember I packed it away safely in my bedroom closet as there was a possibility that workers would be coming into my apartment while I was gone. When I returned from Vegas a week later I found that my laptop would not turn on. It turned out that the hard drive had crashed. There was no warning signs ever. 

I blamed Dell as they were the ones to last have my computer and should have known something was going to happen or that it was on its last leg. They're also the worse with customer service as they outsource everything to India. I had to write many a squeaky wheel e-mail telling them that I needed to speak to a native, English-speaker who wasn't reading off a script. I ended up taking the laptop to a repair shop in Midtown and they were unable to recover my data, but I still have hope that it can be recovered someday. The repair company explained to me that Dell puts the cheapest, most unreliable hard drives in its computers. Now I know, and I've also learned my lesson about backing up my data.

I had my PC for years longer than my laptop, and I never had issues like I had with the Dell. For a reasonable price the repair shop gave me a new hard drive, but thinking back to those nearly 10 years worth of data on my old hard drive makes me sad. Now it's my understanding that unless it's actually burned and melted, data's never really lost. We'll see. This computer continues to annoy me, and I'm praying for the day that I can get the new MacBook Pro 13":

Oh, and by the way, don't EVER buy a Dell.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's Our 1st Anniversary



I can't believe a year has gone by so fast! It only makes me think about how fast the rest of mine and Uka's life together will go. Kinda makes me sad, but I know there's so much to look forward to.

Going into marriage everyone kept saying, "Oh marriage is SO hard, SO hard!" and I admit hearing that a lot had me spooked. But honestly, this has really been a fantastic year. Uka and I had a couple minor spats, but I think the fact that we had known each other for 10 years really helped us work through some of the things that trip most couples up.

We had never lived together before so personally I was nervous about having a male roommate. I know that sounds cold, but essentially that's what I was transitioning into. I had lived alone since 2005 so it was a bit of an adjustment, but it wasn't hard. Uka is very easy to live with! After the long distance we've gone through over the years it really is nice to physically be in the same place for a long period of time. And no, I don't get sick of him! (I can hear our readers say, "Yet!").

This time last year we were preparing for the welcome dinner as many of our guests were flying in to Puerto Rico that day. On our way there we heard the news that Michael Jackson had died and we passed it from car to car during our caravan ride to dinner. At first I thought it was a joke, but then I heard the news myself. I didn't have time to properly mourn and take it in. Had I been in NYC at the time, I would've been glued to the TV and paid tribute at the Apollo Theater.


We had perfect weather the week of the wedding but on our wedding day, right before the wedding it rained. The sky cleared for a brief 30 minutes, and that's when we did our ceremony; we were only 30 minutes delayed. 



I remember thinking, "I'm going to remember this day. I'm going to breathe deeply, take my time, eat all my food, and enjoy every moment." I can say that I did all these things, and they made all the difference. 

Seeing my prince as I walked down the aisle with my dad was the best day of my life. He was so handsome and looked so proud. Having my close friends and family there with me was the icing on the cake!

 

Now one year later many of our guests are itching for a reunion. I can't wait for my next trip to Puerto Rico - it really is the Island of Enchantment!

So you may be wondering what Mr. Love Bird and I will be doing to celebrate our anniversary. Well we already celebrated yesterday! With a baby on the way we had a nice frugal celebration - just a matinee showing of Toy Story 3 in 3D followed by lunch in Harlem. Nice and low key!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Missing MJ

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Growing Up Virgo



"Virgos tend to make things look easy because we are perfectionists, so people think, 'Oh, there's not much there,' because I've made it look easy, but that's not the case." - Tom Ford, New York Magazine

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For some reason I've been thinking about the traits of various zodiac signs, perhaps because people keep saying, "Oh, your baby will be a Leo!" after I share my due date. Apparently they are very strong willed and determined. 

Well, I was born on my mom's birthday, September 22, and I was having a conversation with my dad the other day who reiterated that not only was I born on the 22nd but I was 22" long and my mom labored 22 hours with me. Besides being born on my mom's birthday, that's a pretty Type A way to enter the world!

Deep down I think Mr. Love Bird is very thankful that Baby Agbai will not be a Virgo. He agrees that Virgos have very distinct characteristics (his mom was a Virgo too). I was never much into zodiac signs myself, but I do notice similar traits that are too strong to ignore in other Virgos. So what are some of these traits?
  • Preciseness
  • Refinement
  • Fastidious love of cleanliness, hygiene and good order
  • Critically inclined
  • Emotionally cold
  • Thoroughness 
Overall I just call these Type A traits. Emotionally cold struck me as a bad trait, but I agree that I can be that way at times. Not sure about it being described as cold, but maybe a bit emotionally distant - it just takes me a while to warm up! I try to rationalize things a lot. Growing up my parents would call me Stone Face and nickname me The Law - not great for an 8 year old, right?! I'm not exactly sure what made me this way, but when I look back on my journals, which I've been keeping since I was 7, I definitely see a general sense of impatience and rigid practicality that I've had with nearly every situation I've encountered.

The good news is that now, as an adult, I'm very much aware of this and I've tried to temper it as much as possible (this involves a lot of deep breathing, prayer and Bible reading!). Uka agrees that I've become more mellow since being married. 

Here are a few other Virgos whose Type A-ness is quite evident:




When I saw the ear piece sound check scene in This Is It I completely identified with MJ and how annoying it can be when something isn't precisely how you want it yet you want it fixed IMMEDIATELY. This is when I start breathing deeply . . .

I saw Beyonce in a cloud of Virgo Type A-ness when performing on 106 & Park. She was so committed to her steps that when Michelle fell, she just kept on going, sacrificing nothing for the perfection of her routine. Even Kelly looked slightly more sympathetic than B:

Michelle Williams of Destiney's Child takes a fall

Michael | MySpace Video


Now Tom Ford is just so. That's the only way I can describe him. Like his quote above he really does make everything seem so effortless. I still haven't seen A Single Man, but just from what I've read I know it's going to be very enjoyable to watch because of his impeccable attention to detail. 

There are a few others who I believe should have honorary Virgo status such as Colin Cowie, Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey, but they feed my Type A-ness just the same. 

It's been a great nearly 30 years as a Virgo and I look forward to being a more conscientious Virgo as I step into motherhood. I'm sure I'll have to let go of some of my Type A-ness!

 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Commentary: "Children's Quality of Life Declining"

Photo Credit
So according to this article on CNN.com things are looking bad for America's children. Here's an excerpt:

". . .families' economic well-being has plummeted to near 1975 levels, said Kenneth Land, project coordinator and professor of sociology and demography at Duke University. 'Virtually all of that progress is wiped out through job losses, through declines in real income, and other aspects of family economic well-being,' Land said."

It's always interesting to read the comments on articles like this. They tend to start getting uber-political and turn into arguments about how the USA is turning into a socialist state due to welfare handouts. Or how people shouldn't be bringing children unto the world unless they can afford to. The real issue is that many parents have lost their jobs or have experienced reduced work hours, and even if the parents are still holding down the jobs, the rising cost of living isn't being matched by raises and bonuses. It's a time of feeling the squeeze.

The article references 1975, and while I don't know much about what was so awful about this year, I always get the sense that every so often the media will publish a story about how bad things are getting for everyone then compare it to an earlier time. Then the head shaking starts about what troubled times we're living in. 

Yes, I agree this is a difficult period, but I do believe it will pass. For my generation, I specifically recall 2001, pre-September 11th, when I first-hand experienced things going sour in the economy as members of the senior class at Wellesley started getting job offers rescinded. I started getting nervous about my prospects the following year and sure enough it was bad, but then the subsequent years were even worse. I really feel like it's been nearly 10 years of a rough patch our country has gone through and yes, children often bear the brunt of the burden. I do believe this is a temporary period in the history of our nation, but in the meantime what can we do about it especially while many of us do not have extra funds to donate?

Why not give our time? Mentoring programs like Big Brother/Big Sister and the program I was a part of at LSAFHS are still in need of help. If you're in the NYC area or know someone who is and might be interested in mentoring a middle school girl, please take a look at this opportunity: 

We need caring, responsible women who can give 4 hours a month as a Mentor in our Girl's Mentoring Program. Mentors will be paired one-on-one with a mentee, who is an at-risk East Harlem girl in grades 7, 8 or 9. The goal of the program is to expose our mentees to a larger world outside of East Harlem, and ultimately help our young people gain the confidence and skills to succeed academically and socially. Mentors take their mentees on outings to educational and cultural events in and around NYC. The program begins in September '10 and ends in July '11 (with the option to continue for a second year). To find out more, please contact Trish at (646) 672-0434 or tgough@lsafhs.org.

Are any of our readers involved with children or mentoring program? How have the children you've been involved with seem to be faring during this difficult time?



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Agbai Family Baby Shower

This past Saturday Uka's Aunt Chinyere hosted our Agbai family baby shower. It was in Brooklyn, and it was a perfect day for a party! There was a DJ, dancing and lots of food. About 50 guests showed up to celebrate the imminent arrival of Baby Agbai!




Here are the fabulous ladies who were working behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly (Uka's cousins and sister):




We were so blessed by everyone's generosity, but now we have our work cut out for us in the nursery - it looks like a tornado hit! The baby really won't be using the nursery when she first arrives since we'll have the co-sleeper in our room, but it'd be great to get it as organized as possible and set up a closet system. I love this one from the Container Store, but I don't love the price ($700+!):




You can view the rest of the shower pics here.

Thank you Aunt Chinyere for a lovely baby shower!





Monday, June 21, 2010

Squeaky Wheel - Update #5

Yet another update to report! I had purchased a case and protective privacy cover for my BlackBerry 8530. 



It's not the latest BlackBerry, but it was a free upgrade and it's violet so I figured, "Why not?"

This is the case I purchased (isn't it cute?):

 


Well after a couple months the strap broke off and the privacy cover started peeling as the adhesive ran out. I was surprised neither lasted very long as it was $20 for the case and $10 for the privacy cover.

I wrote the company and explained that I had been a customer before and was surprised the products failed so quickly. I let them know I'd like replacements and even offered to test products before going to market. Well they promptly wrote me back and said they'd send a new case but not a new privacy cover. While I do miss the privacy cover (I can't stand when people look over my shoulder while I'm on my BlackBerry on the subway), the screen is more crisp without it. 

Always remember it's never too late to let a company know when their products have failed you. They may have a 30 or 60 day return policy but you never know when they'll be willing to make an exception.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Baby Decisions


With 6 weeks until Baby Agbai's arrival I've decided to do a post on my baby decisions based on all the information I've taken in during the pregnancy, from watching my own mother and from my personal experience with babies after years of babysitting. I've decided to break this post into themed sections:

Books

There really is so much information out there and while it was easy to go on information overload there were really only two books that I found helpful:

A good friend of mine recommended Ina May early in the pregnancy and while I wanted to have a home birth, I appreciate how Ina May explains how to make the most of a hospital birth. 

I read WTEWYE off and on during the pregnancy to stay on top of weekly pregnancy updates as well as the sections on nutrition and exercise. I think it's a good reference book as well when different symptoms and issues arise during pregnancy. If something feels odd or strange I just pick up the book and flip right to it.

Now I did read Belly Laughs and The Girlfriend's Guide, but both were a bit too fluffy, but I took them for what they're worth - light, humor. 

Websites

Honestly, I really didn't have specific pregnancy related websites that I read throughout the pregnancy, but I did like reading 3DPregnancy.com because of the funny, weekly updates on how the baby was developing. This is where I found the updates to put in my Baby Agbai reports. 

Besides that site, I did subscribe to The Bump's and Pregnancy.com's newsletters but I usually just scanned through them. At times if I saw an article that looked interesting I would click through. For example, "what to pack in your hospital bag" or "what baby essentials to buy."

Apart from the guide-type websites, I frequented blogs of moms at various stages of pregnancy and motherhood. A couple of my favorites are:
One final place I did take a peek at was an ongoing thread on Amazon that's about 2 years' worth of baby advice that women just keep adding to. There's some good tips there but it's not organized in any themed way so you just have to click around randomly to find tips. It'd be a good blogger/book project for someone to organize all the info there, but I'm not volunteering for that anytime soon!

Birthing

I keep reading about having a birth plan or creating birth wishes and one of the bloggers mentioned above has a detailed letter that she's giving to the staff at the hospital along with a basket of goodies when she arrives for labor. I've wavered on this because I know that while it's good to make a plan, very rarely do things go according to plan especially when the forces of nature are involved. 

There are some basic things that I've shared with Uka and will put in writing for him to help me communicate to the staff such as:
  • No epidural or chemical pain relief until I ask for it; I'm planning on going drug-free 
  • No pitocin to speed up contractions - my baby will come when she's ready
  • I want the ability to get in different positions such as all-fours or squatting while giving birth; giving labor on your back was created during the Victorian era as a way for ladies to be "dainty" and is the most inefficient position for birth
  • Baby will have skin-to-skin contact with me immediately after birth
  • No cutting of the cord until it's stopped pulsing
  • Baby Agbai will room-in with me; unless there's health complications there's no reason to separate a baby from its mother after birth in another room 

Overall, I think American hospitals treat pregnancy as illness and rush to get the moms in and out as soon as possible. It's not that I want to hang out there myself, but I'm going to go through pre-labor as long as possible at home before going to the hospital (our neighborhood car service comes in 2 minutes and it's a 7 minute drive away). I hate watching the Baby Story episodes where the moms go in as soon as contractions start then they're propped up in a bed for hours on end and finally given pitocin or taken in for a C-section. UGHHHH! That will not be me if I can help it! 

Baby Care 

Diapering  

My mom used cloth diapers with me and it's so amazing to see how far they've come. We'll be using a couple different systems (Bum Genius and G Diapers). It really is more economical, better for the environment and with our washer dryer right by the nursery it will be easy to get the loads done quickly. Our w/d even has cycles for kids and sanitation so I think it'll be a good set-up for us.

Look how cute they are:


Now I came across this Huggies commercial for the new denim diapers. I can't believe this is actually a product:



Feeding 

I am a big fan of breastfeeding and I plan to do so as long as I can. Hopefully until Baby Agbai is one year old. The benefits and the economics make a lot of sense. I'm always surprised when I watch pregnancy shows, especially 16 and Pregnant (not the greatest, I know!) and the moms don't breastfeed, but honestly based on the intelligence level of some of the women on the show it appears they weren't breastfed either. 

I have a library hold on Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding, and I'm hoping it arrives before the baby does (there are 13 others ahead of me!), but I may just break down and buy it.

Kellymom is a good breastfeeding resource and here are a few benefits of breastfeeding I've learned through them:
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cancer for the mom and the baby girl's lifetime risk
  • Breastfed babies have better dental health
  • Breastfeeding completes an infant's digestive system; a breastfed baby's stomach lining is 15x thicker than a formula fed baby
  • Breastfed babies are better eaters as toddlers
Once baby starts eating solids I plan to make her baby food; my cousin gave me a baby food processor as a shower gift and my sister gave me a baby food cookbook. I also have several storage containers too. I hope Baby Agbai is as passionate about good food as her parents!

Toys

Besides not watching TV, I plan to minimize Baby Agbai's interaction with electronic toys. It seems like everything beeps or buzzes nowadays and I remember growing up annoyed with my siblings' toys that were constantly making noises. Not only do they emit EMFs but they also require so many batteries. I'm a pretty quiet person myself and I don't like the sound of squeaking, chirping toys. 

We don't have any toys yet for Baby Agbai, but Uka and I already made a pact not to let baby toys or baby stuff in general take over our apartment. Her room has a large closet that we'll contain everything in and if we need to bring stuff out we're already committed to returning it back to its proper place. I hate clutter!

Now I do love classic toys, and I've bookmarked a few sites that specialize in them. Here are a couple toys that I plan to have for Baby Agbai when she's ready: 

 
Sleeping 

Uka and I are adamant about not having Baby Agbai in our bed. My parents didn't, his parents didn't, me and my siblings and his all turned out fine. Not only is there the risk of rolling onto the baby (there are hundreds of injuries/deaths from babies in their parents' beds each year), but we're firm believers in the sanctity of the bedroom and especially the parents' bed. It's also the reason why we don't have a TV in the bedroom. Maintaining the sanctity of the bedroom also helps with romance, which we're very much committed to. I've heard so many people say, "Oh romance goes out the window with kids" but that's a choice you make just like anything else. We find ways to treasure those things we find most important for and for me that's romance and intimacy. No compromises!

I don't know anyone nowadays that has the baby in a co-sleeper, but we plan to use one. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a bassinet that has a side that drops and a harness that attaches to the bed's boxspring:


While we'll have the baby in our room for a few months, ideally we'll have her in her own room around 3 months old. I'm a big fan of setting up a bedtime routine as soon as possible so we'll see how it goes and adjust from there. 

General Baby Products

We registered on Amazon's universal registry and while I've tried to keep it under control there are soooo many products out there for babies. Most of them are pretty useless, but I don't blame companies for trying because many parents and soon-to-be parents seem to be suckers for anything!

I mean do you really need an infant pillow in the shape of hands that makes a baby feel comforted???


When it comes down to baby products I think Baby Agbai will be fine in just a cloth diaper, a boob in her mouth and the love Uka and I are ready to give her. Everything else is just gravy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Of course it will be interesting to see how all these baby ideas play out over the next few months and I'm definitely willing to adjust. It'll be good to see a comparison of plan vs. reality. I'm sure I'll have a few wake-up calls, but I'm so happy to have Uka with me along the way so we can learn together. 

I feel confident and ready to be a mother and can't wait to meet Baby Agbai! 


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our (Newly) Cable-Free Home


About a month ago Uka and I decided to get rid of cable TV. We had talked about for nearly 6 months, but I finally made the call to Time Warner to say goodbye. We decided to keep our Internet service, however, since most of the shows we want to watch can be viewed online.

I first got Time Warner when I moved to New York in 2007. Well, I didn't sign up at first, but Mr. Love Bird was abroad at the time and surprised me by sending a 42" flatscreen TV. I felt compelled to get cable so I did! I got the DVR box too because my schedule was so hectic that I figured it'd be most economical so I can watch all the shows I want, whenever I want. 

I came from Comcast in Boston and while the interface of Time Warner's better, Comcast actually had better service. Since 2007, my Time Warner service has moved with me from Harlem to Queens then back to Harlem. It wasn't without hiccups but now that I'm rid of it I feel relieved. 

Now I spend more time reading and playing Wii with Uka, but I do have to admit I miss HGTV and DVRing Oprah which is impossible to find online. I'd also like to start getting more movies from the local library; I have one on the way now that I've been waiting for quite some time so I think the library option might require a lesson in patience. Also, with Baby Agbai on the way I think it was a good move as well since we want her to be a TV-free baby and I'm sure we'll be so busy that we won't have much time for it anyway.

When we do watch TV it's so easy to find our shows on sites live Justin.tv and IceFilms. I know there's Hulu and some of the networks have their episodes but we try to steer clear of commercials. There are also lots of free movies online and since they're streaming there's no issues with downloading. I've also maintained my Netflix subscription although it's the minimum level, but it's still a fun option to have. Right now I'm in the midst of Mad Men season two.

There are a few articles on Apartment Therapy and PBS about living cable free. Here's a sampling:
Have any of our readers cut the cord to cable? What has been your experience?


    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Nightmares on Pregnancy Street

     
    I kept hearing that pregnant women tend to have vivid dreams and now that I'm in my 33rd week I have to finally give in and say yes, pregnant women do have vivid dreams. I've been keeping track of them and wanted to share with our readers. Mr. Love Bird has been having weird, vivid dreams as well. Here's a sampling of what we've been experiencing in chronological order:

    1) Removing Baby Agbai from the womb for playtime - Uka had the 1st re-memorable dream between the two of us. In it I removed the baby from my womb prematurely to play with it. This was before we knew it was a girl. In the dream Uka was alarmed and asked should we be doing that and I replied that yes, it was necessary to stimulate the baby by taking her out and playing with her from time to time. He nodded and when our playtime was over I simply put the baby back inside of me. 

    2) Birthing an Orc - Yes, you read that right. I dreamt I birthed an Orc, a creature from Lord of the Rings. If you don't know what creature it was here's a pic:


    Again, I had this dream before we knew what gender the baby was. This dream really terrified me, and I think it was just uncertainty of knowing if it was a boy or girl. 

    3) Swimming with whalesIn this dream Uka and I were walking along a stretch of beach and could see whales very close to the shore. I knew whales weren't supposed to be so close to the shore, but I was fascinated and wanted to swim with them. I jumped right in the water and was literally swimming side by side with the whales. I could even look them in the eye. The thought of this while awake and conscious frightens me as I've had always had a fear of whales because of their size and strength, but in my dream I was very much at ease as though I was made to swim with the whales. But that wasn't the end of my dream . . .

    I got out the water and met back up with Uka. We continued to watch the whales in the water but then something odd happened: they started fighting each other. The whales bared their teeth and came flying out the water and butted heads like bucks. Uka asked, "Are they supposed to do that?" and I answered, "Oh they're just playing with each other!" But boy was a I wrong. The whales then shed their outer skin and grew legs and approached the shore. This happened about a quarter of a mile away from us and a crowd of about 200-300 people had formed to watch. Well, the whales started coming towards the people, and I realized that they were aliens. The people started screaming and running away from the whales, but I was a safe distance away and didn't feel threatened. The scene reminded me of one from the movie The Host (at about the 1:44 mark):



    4) Seeing Baby Agbai's face through my belly - I dreamt that the baby's face came through my skin, almost like stretching a balloon over your face. I could only see the shape of her face, but it was very vivid. Her cheeks were very plump and her head and eyes super round, just like her ultrasound. She was so cute! My family was there and saw this happen and thought it was strange, but I loved it and wanted to share the view with everyone. This marked the first time I remembered dreaming about the baby as a girl.

    5) My dream of the actual birth - I won't go into details about what happened in this dream, but it was very disturbing and extremely vivid. The birthing process wasn't that difficult, but it wasn't a conventional birth. It was something from an alien movie. That's all I'll say . . .

    6) Mr. Love Bird in the Lucha Libre - This was a very odd dream. In it, we were back in Columbus, Ohio and Uka was hired as the mascot of United Skates of America:


    I know I dreamt about USA because of friend of mine had posted recently about it on her Facebook page so it was front of mind. Anyway, I bumped into Uka during a USA meeting in the break room and him and the managers looked at me as though I was interrupting a Presidential Cabinet meeting or something so I apologized and backed out.

    Later I was at an intersection with a huge crowd of about 200 people about to cross the street near a strip mall. I looked and saw Uka in a another, smaller crowd in front of the strip mall trying to fit in the shot of a photo that was being taken. The smaller crowd then ran through the strip mall and emerged from the other side (back where the trash is taken out) dressed as Lucha Libre fighters. Uka looked something like this:


    I was like, "Uka?!" Everyone who emerged from the opposite was dressed as Lucha Libre fighters and it was an all out battle in the streets. They even had shovels and pitchforks to use as weapons! I was so scared, along with the others in the crowd. I spotted an Old Navy nearby and ran in deciding to shop while the fighters duked it out. While I was in there a women gave birth in the bathroom. In real life, I was woken up when our smoke alarm chirped; I was so disappointed because I wanted to find out the ending.

    7) Transfer of pregnancy to Uka - Uka actually had this dream! In it we were at a basketball game and I had transferred my pregnancy to him so I could enjoy the game. I said, "I'm tired of holding her all the time; it's your turn!" Once I transferred the pregnancy I was having a good time, but he was miserable and so uncomfortable. The baby was moving around in his "womb" and was hurting him. He said, "I shouldn't carry this burden! A man's innards weren't made for this!" I found this dream so funny, and it made me laugh! I would love to transfer my pregnancy to him even for just an hour a day. It kinda reminds me of male seahorses!


    So why am I having these dreams?

    I found this technical explanation at www.babycenter.com:

    Dreams are like funhouse mirrors that reflect your emotional state. Since pregnancy can feel like an emotional roller coaster, don't be surprised if your dreams become more vivid and crazy than usual. Dreams also become more vivid during pregnancy because of increased progesterone and increased awakenings from dream-filled REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

    Some experts think pregnancy dreams — which can be about everything from tadpoles and fishes to talking animals and towering skyscrapers — symbolize your excitement, fear, and apprehension about the physical and emotional changes happening to you. They believe that certain themes are common to each stage of pregnancy.

    I definitely agree with the highlighted part; I guess subconsciously my dreams are symbolizing my excitement and fear. When I wasn't pregnant I rarely remembered my dreams but when I did they were never as lifelike and vivid as the dreams I'm having while pregnant. I don't know if it's hormonal or what but it's almost as if it's drug-induced or something. Very odd.

    I'll keep tracking my dreams for the next 7 weeks and will update if I have anymore. In the meantime, what do you think of these dreams? Have any of you had dreams this strange while pregnant or has your spouse?


    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Somethin' a Bit Creepy

    So one night last year I was flipping through TV channels and came across this:
     



    Uhhhhh . . . .

    I was totally speechless and didn't know what to think. I felt as though I needed to speak with a therapist someone immediately to make sure I had really witnessed this. REBORNS. Wow!

    So apparently there is a culture of twisted people, mostly creepy women, who are collectors of these disturbingly lifelike doll babies. How did this even come about?

    I still don't know what to think about this, but when I saw it re-air once when Uka was around I had him watch it with me. He was just as disturbed, but at the same time, we both found it fascinating. It's actually kind of sad. One woman had taken care of her grandkid when her daughter was dying of cancer but when she recovered she took the grandkid back and moved around the world. The grandmother never saw the grandkid again (she couldn't afford airfare) so instead she had a replica made of her grandson. 

    These dolls can even have breathing mechanisms installed to mimic babies' breathing patterns. I do have to admit, as a Type A woman, the attention to detail that is given to creating these dolls is remarkable, but I think it would be better re-directed elsewhere. 

    Here's another clip that had blocked embedding but it's a more highly viewed clip than the one above if you're curious to see more.

    Anyway, have any of our readers seen this documentary or heard of reborns? What are your thoughts?




    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Squeaky Wheel - Update #4

    In January I met for a fellow Wellesley alum for a casual business brunch at Society in Harlem. I saw on the website that it had a small, cafe-ish vibe and had heard from a few people that it was good so I decided it'd make a good meeting spot.


    Well my experience was less than stellar and as soon as I got back home I wrote a review on Yelp about it. Yelp is one of my favorite sites and often the first place I go to when deciding new places to try. I haven't written a ton of reviews there, but I've maintained a style of constructive criticism as well as praise for many of my reviews. There are some reviewers that are more well known for their humor and others who leave out critical details. but I try to strike a balance between the two so readers can get a quick take on my experience. 

    I usually like to visit a spot a few times before writing a review, but in the case of Society, I had to write immediately about my experience. You can read the review here under January (I have a profile pic on my review). 

    Anyway, the owner wrote me an e-mail last month after reading my review. He let me know about the improvements that had been made at Society and offered me a free meal (he recommended the shrimp and grits or the red velvet waffles - YUM!). He provided an e-mail stating what I was entitled to, and I just have to show it to the waiter. I told Uka about it, and he's agreed to be my date. I look forward to posting an updated review about my experience on Yelp.

    It's good to know my review didn't fall on deaf ears, and it was a pleasant surprise to hear directly from the owner. 

    The squeaky wheel triumphs!

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    My Ohio Visit Report - Lots of Updates!

    I was in Ohio from last Wednesday through Monday of this week and wow, was it a busy visit home! I got in Wednesday night and apparently there were thunderstorms and tornadoes, but there wasn't a mention of it before I left LaGuardia. I found out later they were pretty severe. When I was a kid growing up in Ohio I was terrified of tornadoes but fascinated at the same time. Part of me secretly desired to get caught up in one a la The Wizard of Oz. Well, needless to say this was a whirlwind of a visit!

     

    Q Gets a New Do

    I'm in the process of growing out my relaxer (very detailed post is in the works on this topic!) and have gone without a touch-up since February. I've been wearing braidouts but wanted to get a new style. I had heard good things about Synergi in Columbus, which specializes in transitioning women from relaxed to natural hair so I made an appointment at 9 a.m. on Thursday with Paula Settle. I had read warnings in The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy that pregnant women shouldn't cut their hair while pregnant although they're often tempted to - something about feeling ugly and regretting later. Anywho, I really didn't care, so I went ahead and did it, and I love the results:

     

    I highly recommend Synergi. They got me in and out in a timely fashion, were very professional and half the cost of the average NYC salons I frequent for similar, but more damaging service. If you go, ask for Paula and tell her Quiana from NYC sent you!

    Hanging out with the Cousins

    Thursday night I went to Vonn's with my cousins. Columbus is really starting to step it up, and I'm thankful that my cousin Grace thought for us to meet here to catch up, enjoy live music and dinner. It definitely wasn't crowded compared to NYC spots on Thursday nights, but it was very comfortable. The live singer reminded me of Jill Scott, and she sang a variety of modern and standard jazz songs. The menu is Louisiana based, and I had the spicy chicken pasta. Baby Agbai wasn't too happy about that, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Here's a few pic of me and my beautiful cousins, Grace, Aminah and CasSaundria:

     


    My Lil Brother and Sister's Graduation Party

    Friday night was my brother and sister's graduation party. My parents threw a combined party for them as my brother graduated from high school and my sister from college. I know my parents are ecstatic to finally be empty nesters - and at the young age of only 52/53. Niiiiice!

    There was a tent set up with lights and a dance floor, my dad had the sound system going outside and we later had a fire pit which means we had . . . S'MORES!

    The party went from 4p.m.- past midnight but around 11:45 p.m. I crashed hard and headed up to bed. I don't even think I said goodnight to anyone I was SO tired!

    Here are a few pics from the festivities:



    (The cake was fractured in transit but it was still good!)

    This is Michael with his teammate, JQ, who shared the party too


    Ohio Baby Shower

    Saturday we were all up early to get ready for the baby shower at 11a.m. It was a bit hectic cause of the previous night's festivities, but we all came together and pulled it off. Here are a few teasers taken by BFF Julie McGee (check out her Facebook page Julie McGee Photography):

     


     
     My paternal grandmother and my mom

    Me and my sisters

     
    My and my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Hayes, and my BFF Julie
    (Mrs. Hayes brought us our archived stories from 6th grade!)

    The full album is here.

    My mom did an AWESOME job, and I loved how everything turned out. It ran about two and a half hours and wasn't too overwhelming. I was thankful that we didn't play more than one cheesy game (a guess mommy's circumference game), and it was still fun. It was great to see so many lovely women who have known me over the years and celebrate Baby Agbai's arrival!

    On a logistical note, we registered on Amazon's Universal Registry, and I was nervous about getting the non-registry gifts home, but my sister had the good idea to bring back my gifts in my dad's car since they had to drive back to D.C. on Sunday. Ariane's moving to NYC in July for her new PR job and is staying with us that month so she can bring everything up in the moving van. Now me being the Type A person that I am took a photo inventory of the packed boxes and sent it to her so she knows exactly what should be coming with her to NYC ;-)

    Sister Portraits 

    After the party my sisters and I went to Sears to do a 20-something sister portrait session since it's the brief window when we're all in our 20s. We figure this is something we can do each decade. I was so upset that the photographer didn't tell me my bra strap was showing although I specifically mentioned it during the shoot as my dress had a funny neckline and it kept peaking out. Anyway, my sister Lauren is in the process of photo-shopping them (they wanted $15/pic to take out the bra strap!). Anyway, the final pictures will be ready on June 18 so I'll do a separate post for them. 

    Here's a teaser:


    Michael's Graduation

    After the photo shoot we raced back home to get ready for my brother's high school graduation. There were less than 50 kids in his class so it was nice and small. My brother made honor roll and will be attending college in TN this fall. 

    Here are some silly pics:



    After graduation we went to our neighbor's (also my high schoolmate!) party at 11p.m. I had a hard time staying up, but she had graduated from med school and it's been an amazing journey for her. Congrats Michelle!

    The next morning we were up early for breakfast. My dad is a breakfast champion and made biscuits, cooked apples, bacon and eggs. It was SOOOO good, and I don't know how we all managed to stay awake in church! After we visited my maternal grandmother then my dad and sister hit the road for D.C.

    On Monday my mom and I ran errands then I flew back that late afternoon to NYC. 

    It was a really great trip!

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