Monthly Archives: February 2011

Meme Time? Why Not


Goofball tagged me with a meme this week and since I haven’t done one in quite some time, I figured, why not. If nothing else it gets me out of sorting the garbage for the next half hour or so.

Rule #1: the tagged person must write their answers on their blog and replace any question they dislike with a new question they formulated themselves.
Rule # 2: tag 4 people to do this quiz. The tag-ee must state who tagged them.

1. If you have pets, do you see them as merely animals or are they members of your family?
Our cats have always been, at least to me, part of our family. I doubt this will change much when the baby comes along, but I imagine they’ll have to learn to take a back seat to the needs of the new human. But I will always love them, care for them and do my best to keep them as part of our family.

2. If you could have a dream come true, what would it be?
Finally write that best seller I’ve been dreaming of since I was 7 or so.

3. What would you do with a billion dollars?

Piet is much better with investing money than I am, so half would immediately go to him to invest. I’d also put away a substantial college tuition fund for kids, buy a house in Pittsburgh, put myself through grad school, pay off my parents’ house and buy a nice place for my brother and his fiancée to live.
If I had enough left over I might buy a bookstore.

4. What helps pull you out of a bad mood?
I’m actually really hard to pull out of a bad mood. Mostly I need my time and space to just deal with whatever is bothering me internally.

5. What is your bedtime routine?
My bedtime routine changes depending on time of year, type of job I have, etc. As of right now, since I’m not working, and not always comfortable sitting for long periods of time, I usually end up laying in bed watching a few television shows or reading a book if there’s nothing good on. When Piet finally decides to close his laptop we might cuddle for a bit and then fall asleep (if I haven’t fallen asleep already).

6. If you are currently in a relationship, where did you meet your significant other?
We met online (NOT through a dating site) about 6 years ago. We chatted rarely for a while and then at some point the chatting became more frequent and then became skyping almost daily. Piet booked a flight to the US to visit me in May 2007 and stayed for a week. I made a trip to visit him in September the same year and I moved to Belgium that Christmas. The rest is history, no?

7. What kind of books do you read?
I read a bit of everything. Fantasy, dark/dry humor and historical fiction probably take up the most space on my shelf, but I’ll read almost anything that piques my curiosity. I’m not typically a fan of romances or autobiographies.

8. What is one luxury you allow yourself to indulge in without feeling guilty?
More expensive bottled drinks: Kombucha or fruit drinks(i.e. Healthy thirst, Firefly, or in the States Jones soda).

9. What’s your fear?
Dying alone, or having no one to care about me when I die.

10. Would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to see outer space?
I actually really want to give up junk food, even though I’d probably miss it now and then, but space isn’t a good bribe for me. I have very little interest in space. A trip to Australia to cage dive with sharks or 6 months living in Hawaai? That’s another story.

11. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Check the clock.

12. If you could change one thing about your significant other, what would it be?
He’d remember to do the little things I usually have to ask him 10+ times to do, the first time I asked. Or without me asking, that’d be even better.

13. If you could pick a new name for yourself what would it be?
This is a tough one. Growing up I never liked my name cause it’s spelled strange and it’s unisex. I always wanted a “prettier” name. But my name has been mine for almost 30 years. Even if I could change it, I have no idea what I’d even want to change it to. So I guess that must mean I’m happy with it?

14. If you had to choose between six months of sun or six months of rain, what would you choose?
Sun. I already get 6 months of rain. I live in Belgium.

15. If you could eat only one thing for the next six months what would it be?
I think I could eat soup for the next six months and be okay with that. As long as it wasn’t always the same kind of soup.

16. What is the thing you enjoy about blogging the most?
It gives me a place to talk about the stuff in my head, or my life. I admit I have to censor myself due to the fact that people read it, but I don’t think I’d write if people didn’t read it.

17. Do you prefer salty or sweet foods?
I’m a salty food person. Nine times out of ten I’ll choose popcorn or pretzels and dip over cookies or candy. That goes with other foods too. I don’t typically like sweet sauces on my food or dried fruit mixed into things to sweeten it or sweet salad dressings.

18. What items are in your purse right now?
I am anti-woman.
No seriously, I rarely carry a purse. I prefer pockets. I’ll carry one in the summer when it’s too hot for a coat or hoodie, but otherwise, no purse. In my pockets though I have my wallet, my house keys and my omnipass for public transportation. Oh, and an empty sample jar to pee in before my next obgyn appointment next month.

19. If you had to choose between vacationing at the beach or in the mountains, where would you go?
Beach. I like my sand and my warmth and my waves and salty air and sounds of gulls, etc.

20. What do you watch on television that you know you shouldn’t?
Reruns of Extreme Makeover with Ty Pennington on Vitaya.


Okay, and I have to tag 4 people, eh? Okay, how about:


You Know What We’re Missing?


A good pity party.

I haven’t had one in a little while so I think I’m about due, don’t you?
(“no” is not an acceptable answer)

I was obsessively checking Facebook every ten minutes or so, like I tend to do when I’m avoiding folding or putting away the laundry, when lo, I did spy a family friend of mine who’d commented on my mom’s wall, asking if she was going to have a baby shower for me or if it was too difficult to send things here.

With shipping/taxes/packaging/etc., it is very definitely too difficult to send anything much larger than a paperback, a bag of Oreos and some new Hanes bikini cuts every couple months and even that gets pricey for my parents, so I rarely ask anymore.

I didn’t have a bridal shower.

I won’t have a baby shower.

We’re doing things the Belgian way (cause that’s where we live, duh) and inviting friends and family to come visit the hospital once the baby is born. Belgians often give doopsuiker to the people visiting the baby. Doopsuiker translates to baptism candy and it’s typically some chocolate in colored candy shells in some kind of little box or jar with the baby’s name on it.

I’m fine doing that (the candy, not a baptism).

I’ll miss a baby shower.

Like I missed a wedding shower.

Like I miss graduate school.

Like I miss my job at my old daycare.

Like I miss having dinner with my parents every couple weeks.

Like I miss Halloween and Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Passover and St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July.

Not that we aren’t considering doing something at some point for the baby in the States, but still. There are some things, culturally, that I’ve always wanted and had always thought I’d have, just like my cousins and friends. And I’m not getting to have them.

And yes, you don’t have to tell me, there are plenty of people who only dream of living in Europe or learning another language and they never get the opportunity. I know that. The grass is always greener, right?

And I look forward to the things we’re doing here. I’m excited to make our baby wish list for people to help out if they want, and to choose birth announcements and the doopsuiker and all of that. I’m really psyched for my parents’ visit in June and for my mom to be staying all July. I really don’t think too much about the things that aren’t happening and I focus on all the good things that are happening.

But sometimes something small reminds me.

Today I’m not doing very well at shaking it off.

It’s a Boy!!


In case you missed my Facebook post, we found out yesterday that our baby is of the male persuasion.

We’re going to have a son!

The doctor told us she thought it was a boy, and I grabbed Piet’s hand because a boy!!
I’ve been wanting a boy the whole time!
My lucky is crap and I assumed we’d have a girl, so a boy!
Oh please oh please oh pleeeeease find a penis, I was thinking to myself, gripping Piet’s hand even tighter.

And sure enough, from 3 different angles, our doctor found the baby’s boy parts. She even took a picture of them (in case other people were skeptical?) for us. which ended up coming out clearer than the picture of his face, which he kept half hidden in my placenta for the duration of his scan.

Everything else looks perfectly healthy and normal. We saw his mouth and chin (which at first I thought was his butt cause he’s huge now compared to the last ultrasound we had plus the machine she was using had an uber zoom function which was very disorienting) and his nose and one eye (the other one was hidden) and the rest of his body. He moved his hands while we watched and we could see his legs and feet and inner organs. Everything looked great according to the doctor. the only thing we’ll need to double-check in March is his heart because his arms were blocking half of it. It was definitely beating and we could see half of it, but not the other half, so she’ll double-check next month to be sure it’s okay.

He was upside down while we were there, so all the thumping I’d thought were his feet were actually his hands. I guess we may have a boxer instead of a soccer player. Unless he chooses ballet or theater or chess because I don’t care what he decides to do once he’s out, cause he’s my son and I’m like, a billion times more excited to see him now that I can start to see him as a baby, not just a smudge with a Darth Vader face that makes me nauseous and gives me acne.

He’s almost a pound at this point (I’ve gained so much more than a pound, but it seems to be mostly in my boobs and belly so I guess that’s normal) and he’s been super active for a few weeks now. I feel him moving around usually several times a day. It’s become more routine I suppose to feel him, but it’s never any less exciting. And for someone as neurotic as me, it’s also very reassuring to feel him every day. I know some women go days without feeling anything, which I was expecting and bracing myself for last month, but fortunately for my state of mind I’ve felt him pretty much every day, often several times.

Healthwise, aside from a back that doesn’t allow me to stand longer than 2 hours at a time, I’m doing very well. I’ve got a lot of heartburn and sleeping is starting to become difficult, but overall I feel pretty good. We were at an information expo at the hospital earlier this week and I saw some super pregnant women that were, I assume, in the last trimester and huge and waddling and I still can’t even comprehend what it will be like to be so big.

But I guess I’ll start finding out in about 6 weeks.

Ladybugs and Rosemary


Neither one of which have anything to do with this post.

Although if I’d’ve had my camera in our yard today it would’ve been.

But still, think of pretty, soothing images, like I’m trying to do so that I don’t get myself all worked up over the obgyn appointment we have tomorrow that I’m just about crawling out of my skin waiting for because this child is moving around like crazy in my gut and it’s been two months, TWO MONTHS!!! since the last time we saw it and it has to be so much less creepy and so much more baby by now and we should be able to see, most importantly, that it is healthy and has all of the parts it should have and also, second importantly but still extremely importantly, what it’s got between its little legs so that we can really start thinking names and clothing and birth announcements and… stuff.

And secondary, but still important, I’ll be finding out if the obgyn will be kind and extend my current medical leave from work or if she’ll send me back to standing doubled over in pain in a kiosk I will most definitely by now not fit very well into for 8 hours a day. Everyone, including my physician, manager and regional manager agree that my job is not a good job for a pregnant woman, but we’ve yet to hear if the obgyn concurs.

So that’s what’s been on my mind all week and is reaching boiling point as I type this.

Sunshine and daisies people. Sunshine and daisies.

Cause I’m not allowed to take xanax.

Not Gonna Reach my Telephone


I still have several … “gaps” in my Dutch, usually more so spoken than written.

There are definitely words or expressions that I don’t always know or remember right away in print, but usually I can reread a few times and figure it out from the context of the rest of the article or paragraph. I can, in fact, get through sizable amounts of adult novels in Dutch when I want to or when I have nothing else available to read, but I’m usually too lazy to do so. I love reading, it makes me  happy and I do not like having to struggle or use a dictionary to do it. I totally acknowledge that this stubbornness is not helping my written Dutch language progression.

When it comes to speaking, I can certainly do that. I know I make grammar errors still, but I find that the more I worry about my sentence structure, the harder time I have actually having a conversation. I usually hear my mistakes and try to remember to correct it for the next time. I have a pretty decent vocabulary when it comes to everyday conversation, although if you’d want me to discuss the current state of politics in Egypt or the principles of physics I’d probably draw several blanks in the terminology department. But I can make small talk and give directions and I use a fairly decent amount of colloquialisms and expressions (so as not to sound like Data). My accent is minimal.

But I totally suck at talking on the phone.

Not only do I have a hard time understanding most people on the phone, but people seem to have a hard time understanding me as well.
As a result I usually completely lock up when I get a phone call from someone I don’t know.
I manage yes and no answers and sometimes I’ll repeat information to make sure I understand it correctly, but that’s it.

Today a person from our insurance called my cell phone and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello, with Calliope
Her: Hello, this is the social service office of your health insurance.
Me: Hello.
Her: Um, yes, Mrs. Calliope? Do you speak Dutch?
Me: Yes.
Her: Well, I’m just calling to let you know that we’ll be giving you a call in March to make an appointment to provide you with information regarding your pregnancy.
Me: Okay.
Her: … uh, well, okay, we’ll talk to you then.
Me: Thanks. Bye.

I really must have sounded stupid, or clueless, or mentally deficient in some way, but not only was I having a hard time hearing her over the phone, I was also not sure what I was supposed to add to the conversation. I was grocery shopping and had literally just left the insurance office ten minutes or so earlier. They’d already told me everything she was telling me. She just called to confirm that she had been informed of my visit. I had no questions and I’m really just no good at filler in conversations in Dutch; especially over the phone with a stranger.

Anyway, I hung up feeling like I’d somehow failed in Dutch phone conversation 101. Not that I’m really sure how to improve that particular aspect of talking to people, but it seems like people usually have something better than single word answers, even for calls like this.

Oh well. Hopefully when the representative comes to talk with us face to face I’ll be able to make a better impression.

Or just let Piet do most of the talking.

A Rose by Any Other Name


There’s this one really important thing to do for your child, preferably before it’s born, but I realize that’s not a legal requirement or anything (at least not here or in the U.S).
And that would be choosing its name.

Yes! Baby names! And I, like so many other girls in this world, have been compiling an ever-changing list of possible baby names, pretty much since the first time I babysat (I think I was 10 or 11) and decided that I did definitely want some kids when I grew up.

Obviously the list has had many variations, inspirations, motivations, etc. Although, to be completely honest, it never occurred to me that I’d have to care about what the father liked too, until I got married.

And the wedding planning gave me plenty of indication as to how important it was to involve Piet in the naming of our babies.
I will never ever say that I regret having a man who actually cares and wants to play an active role in our life and the decisions we make as a couple and a family.
But, at least when it comes to wedding plans, I have to admit it was a blessing and a curse. If you can really say that a man wanting to have some say in his wedding is a curse. Which in most cultures it’s probably not. It was just a balls to the wall introduction to walking the fine line between your husband and your mother… which I had been able to avoid wonderfully simply by immigrating. Until the wedding planning.

But let me get back on topic here.

Naming the baby.

I never thought baby naming would be as difficult as it is turning out to be. Granted, as I was growing up I assumed my husband would be American or at least speaking English as a first language, and preferably Jewish or willing to convert.
But life tends to throw curve balls at us, so I ended up with a Dutch speaking Belgian atheist who can’t say the English “th” very successfully*.

So here we are, trying to find some names that both of us like, that both of us can say, in both languages, that aren’t culturally unfit.

Culturally unfit? You might be asking yourself. Yes…as in, due to certain cultural factors one of us would not be okay naming our kid a certain name.

Examples? But of course!

Example 1: I really love Alice in Wonderland. It’s one of my favorite books and I adore many of the film adaptations as well. So the very first name I suggested for a girl was Alice. Sadly, Piet can not, in good conscience, name his daughter Alice because of this song. Because the last thing we’d want is Piet’s uncle chanting “who the fuck is Alice” every Christmas after a few too many drinks.

Example 2: Piet told me that he liked the name Dieter for a boy. To which I immediately replied in my best homosexual German accent “do you want to touch my monkey?” Because anyone in my age cohort has seen at least one episode of Sprockets and would thus expect our son to be walking around in black tights and dancing to German industrial techno.

So you see, naming this baby is turning out to be quite a challenge when you add all the factors together. At first I really pressured Piet to think of names with me, but that didn’t work. My husband is not one to be pushed into a decision-making process and after a while I let it go on the condition that we could seriously consider names once we knew the gender. And in the meantime, I compiled a list of names that I liked for each gender. To my knowledge, Piet is doing the same and we’ll sit and talk about our lists once we (a)know the gender and (b)are on the trip to Istanbul that we have planned for mid-March. Since by then I’ll be 6 months pregnant and probably not super excited about doing a ton of walking/sight-seeing that involves long periods of standing, we figured our little rented apartment will be a perfect place to really concentrate on choosing a name.

So you’d think my stress levels regarding names would be much lower now, yes?
Well, they kind of were, sort of, except that any random names I threw out for Piet were always a no and any he mentioned to me were also a no and heaven help us if we have a girl because she’ll have to have a boy’s name cause we cannot agree on a single damn girls name we both like.
But then I saw this pop up in my Google Reader a couple of days ago.

Can you imagine the nerve of this woman? I mean, seriously, that’s her grandchild she’s talking about and she refuses to even say the kid’s name cause she dislikes it that much. I left a comment that was as polite as I could possibly make it, but the sentiment left me seething. Who gives a shit if you don’t like her name?? It was your son and his wife’s decision, their child, their favorite name. If you love your grandchild, you’ll simply get over it and use her name!
This seriously outraged me. Especially because, when Piet and I finally do settle on a name (that sounds so defeatist…) triumph in discovering the perfect name, our parents are going to damn well use it, regardless of whether or not they like it. Right parents and parents-in-law?

Yeah, I thought so.




*I still have plenty of trouble making a differentiation between the “eu” and “uu” vowel combinations and get tripped up over rolling my r’s a lot; just saying, no one is perfect