Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Long overdue update

Pete, me, dad, and ma sitting around the fire, eating dinner

Well, how are you all? I'm pretty good. I've been gone from the blogging scene for a while, so I thought I'd pop in. I don't know about any of you who have been pregnant or have kids, but it certainly seems to put a crimp in how much time I'm on the computer, especially with blogging. I miss it, but most days I'm unable to get around to posting anything, much less taking pix for my photography blog, vivid.

Anyhow, the project I mentioned in the previous post is STILL going on. Not to the same degree it was before, but there are revisions that still trickle in here and there. Today I actually have to change something back to the color it was before, even though a previous revision asked for the color change. It's kinda funny, but hey, at least I'm getting paid for it, eh?

And I was able to get back onto unemployment this morning, so that's a big relief. The guy said it shouldn't be a problem for future projects, which is good, because I think more might be coming down the pike (I hope).

Well, what have you all been up to? Busy? Not so much?

We went camping this weekend on our big annual family camping trip. It's our 8th year (I think), and it was quite different this year with all the babies and me being pregnant (and quite pregnant right now, in my mind, although it'll get worse, I know). Here's a shot of me on the beach in Peninsula State Park in Door County, Wisconsin. Yikes! That's some baby belly!

That's my dad behind me, and Spanky at my feet.

We had a great time, and it did rain a little, but not too much. We hiked and went to town too, but I quickly realized how little stamina I have now that I'm pregnant.

Here's a group shot on the last day. I had a meltdown about 30 min. before this picture was taken because I had a severe migraine and bad allergies that would not stop, and Tylenol/caffeine was NOT making them go away. But as you can see, I was not the only weepy person in the group!

(From left to right, front row) Me, Hambone, Sam, Jane, Henry, ma, Jonneal, Tallulah, dad, Otto; (back row) Mani, Pete, Adora, Quinn

Anyhow, I am slowly feeling better, although I still don't feel 100% as of today.

Some GOOD news we got on Friday morning, before leaving for the trip: Little Baby Hoogestraat is a..............BOY!!! Yup, we are the proud future parents of little Peter Jack, a.k.a. Jack (we're calling him by his middle name, since he's a junior). Here's pix of him from the ultrasound on Friday.

Jack's profile

He was quite an active little boy, squirming and kicking all over the place. The tech and doctor were quite amused.

Frontal view of Skeletor—I mean Jack

Pete swore up and down since day one that it was going to be a girl, but I refused to call the baby anything but "it." Well, when the tech rolled the wand over his little bottom and said, "Yep, that's definitely a boy!", Pete's jaw dropped and he was speechless.'s a boy!

I just started laughing because Pete was soooo sure, as were 90% of everyone else who was guessing. I must admit I was even a little surprised because of my "girl" symptoms, but I also had "boy" symptoms too—mild morning sickness, craving meat/dairy, etc. I think Pete bet Steve a 12-pack of beer that it'd be a girl. Well, Steve is ready to collect!

Jack likes to use these feet all the time on my insides, lol.

Anyhow, we are both thrilled and glad that we can start calling him by his name, buy him gender-specific clothes, etc.

Other than that, not much else going on. Dollie was sick for a while, but she seems to be getting better. Looks like her throat is raw, but they don't know why. Maybe she ate something she shouldn't have? I know she's fond of plants.

Our little goofball is doing a lot of this lately—sleeping.

I'm still unpacking from our trip, doing what I can while I have the energy. Mainly I'm trying to take it easy and rest, because I think I overdid it this weekend. I'm not used to being limited in what I can do (besides issues with Hooveritis), and I think I pushed myself a bit too hard. But you live and learn, and little Jack seems none the wiser of his mama not taking it easy. He's still kicking and rolling around in there as always!

Well, I hope all is well with you guys. I hope to start posting regularly again, and reading all my favorite blogs. I'll have to pick up the camera and start shooting again too. I hope my fatigue and headaches/backaches ease a bit to help me with this, but we'll see.

Have a happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Super-duper busy mode

My hastily assembled work area in the kitchen, complete with coffee mug and unopened baby listening monitor on the table—I hope to open the monitor and actually use it, once hell-week is over.

I've been scarce for several days (and will continue to be for a few more) while I finish up a freelance project I'm working on. The deadline suddenly changed, and time to finish the work was suddenly in very short supply. So, I've been living and breathing this project for days now. I'll resurface in a few days and go back to blogging (and reading my favorite blogs).

Oh, and meanwhile, Pete is already recovering and in therapy for his knee. He'll be off for another week and a half, which is wonderful because I love hanging with him, but I'm going crazy from watching the Military Channel and cleaning up after him—but what else is new?

Anyhow, hope you all had a great holiday back to the drawing board!

Spanky and Max, looking outside together during a moment of inter-species harmony

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A bad case of the dropsies, or, a benefit of having dogs

I have been incredibly clumsy lately, and, as with everything I don't want to take the blame for, I'm blaming this on my pregnant state. As with the peas the other day, I somehow magically flung a dog bowl full of chicken and broccoli soup onto the floor during a recent lunch. I don't even know what happened, because the bowls weren't that full, and Spanky's food made it to the floor still in its container. But when I went to put Adora's dish down, it instead flew out of my hand and (of course) landed upside down, soup everywhere. I quickly looked around and started grabbing paper towels, but Adora was one step ahead of me. She cleaned that floor up like a good little Hoover (Hoogestraat) should, and Spanky even came in after her to do some light spot cleaning. I was left with a slightly sticky, wet floor, which was easily cleaned with moistened paper towels and dish soap. Everyone benefited from my channeling of Dick Van Dyke (as Pete likes to call me during my clumsier moments), which is how it should be, right?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Going under the knife (or laproscope)

Pete is having knee surgery today for a torn medial meniscus (the cushion between his femur and tibia, in his knee—see diagram). And, as a loving and caring wife, I'm a bit worried about him, although it's an outpatient procedure and fairly small scale as far as surgeries go. But it's his first surgery, so he's a bit worried and scared, as am I. Please keep him in your thoughts today, that all will go swimmingly and he'll be running around in no time.

(Image from

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What makes it all worthwhile

The it...

...and why it's all good in the end...

(This made me cry, I was so touched.)

On the inside:

(Printed) Wishing you a day blooming with happiness!

(Written by Pete) "I thought you should get used to this kind of card. Anyway, it's practice. To my loving wife on her birthday."

My first "mom" card ever. It was so touching that he took the time to pick out a card that would mean so much to me, and wrote some personal thoughts in it as well. This was accompanied by a dozen red roses, a belly rub, dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant, and a movie (Public Enemy) at the dollar theater—during which he excitedly whispered facts in my ear about the gangsters, cars, and guns in the movie. So cute.

I love my husband.

P.S. I'm feeling MUCH better today, so I am feeling smiley and positive :)

Abs-olutely miserable

DISCLAIMER: I sometimes worry that I'll turn people off (my readers, that is) if I start talking too much about one thing, or not enough about another. And then I realize that hey, this blog is about ME, and it's about my life and family/friends and what I'm going through or thinking about on any particular day. And if I want to talk about pregnancy stuff ad nauseum (ha ha, cuz that's certainly part of pregnancy), then I will. This is my outlet for my inner being, and if people want to come here to share, that's great. If not, there are a million other blogs out there with more exciting content. I don't mean to sound all hard-ass, I guess it's just my way of making a disclaimer about this post and past/future posts regarding my current favorite subject: pregnancy.

One of the things that has been plaguing me throughout my pregnancy (besides headaches, acne, and the occasional moody breakdown), probably since day one, is abdominal pain. This one has caught me by surprise, because I've never heard of women suffering so much from this as I have. Oh sure, I've heard complaints of back pain, or bloating, or the wonderful headaches (which I'm already used to, pre-pregnancy). But the abdominal pain is something I didn't expect to have so much trouble with.

I definitely expected to have problems with my abs, since there's a lot going on there with muscles growing/stretching/moving, and obviously that's going to cause some discomfort and pain (mostly pain for me). But when I ask other women if they suffered from this, they all seem surprised or a bit confused, and only say that they had a little discomfort or problems with their abs, and that's about it. I was in pretty good shape when I got pregnant, just 10-15 pounds over my "goal" weight, but with really strong abs that could do 50-100 crunches easily. So concerned, I asked my doctor about it last week. She said it's normal, and unless it feels like contractions (it doesn't) then she could only offer me advice (Tylenol, rest, heating pads) and some sympathy. I've tried them all, and they only take the edge off the continuous pain. There's not much help on the Internet either, only a few other women complaining of the level of pain that I've experienced—surprisingly, more in my second trimester, since this is supposed to be my "golden time" of pregnancy.

Pete does not seem to understand how much this hurts me, almost on a daily basis, and it's much worse some weeks than others (this is a bad week). He understands back pain, and often gives me massages (which he is used to from the Hooveritis problems I've had), but whenever I mention how much my belly hurts, he typically just says "Oh" and goes about what he was doing. I know he doesn't mean anything by that, but to not have your husband understand and sympathize with your pain is hard.

So the only thing that offers relief is when my abs decide to stop stretching so much, and I go back to feeling happy and content again. It's almost magical when I don't hurt all the time, when I'm happy to be pregnant and can feel the baby kicking down below. That's a side effect of the ab pain—I don't feel the baby kicking much at all, and that makes me hurt physically AND emotionally. I start freaking out and worry that the little bean is suffering, or not growing properly, or even dead in there, and I worry endlessly until I feel the occasional kick. It's scary, because I normally feel him/her quite frequently during my "good" days, so to feel nothing most of the day is very difficult.

I'm certainly not complaining about being pregnant, and for the most part, it's been wonderful. I had hardly any morning sickness (3 weeks of strong queasiness) and the headaches only hit a few times a week, no more frequently than my past migraines did (which were much worse). The acne? Well, I can deal with that, I certainly have in the past. A full bladder at night hurts a lot, rather than being uncomfortable, but our bed is 15 feet from the bathroom, and nightly trips are normal to me now. Even the back pain is tolerable, having dealt with that so much in my life.

But the ab pain is horrible. From rolling over in bed (the worse), to just sitting in a chair drawing at my computer, it's agony. The pain has been pretty much non-stop since Sunday, and the last time this happened, it lasted a week (which was a few weeks ago). I can only hope that in a few days (or sooner, if I'm lucky) the pain will subside and I'll be back to my rotund, waddling self, happy to be growing and changing along with the baby. I do wonder if the pains are signs of the baby going through growth spurts (certainly my uterus is), and that's a small consolation to me, something I can hang on to in order to deal with something I have little control over.

I hate to use this as a forum for complaining about something so wonderful as having a baby. But I feel like I can share with you all, and just get the feelings out there, if not for relief, then for a small peace of get all this ugliness off my chest. And yes, I'm glad to say I can feel the little bean kicking right now as I type this, so I feel a little better about things, if not in body, then in mind.

Thanks for listening, and I hope to be back to a happy, goofy, regularly-scheduled post tomorrow.

(Image from

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Me at seven. I love my gap-toothed grin and wonderful posture in this picture.

Yup, it's that time of year again. It's the time of year when I usually get really depressed for no reason and feel sorry for myself. That was the case last year.

Not sure why I get so moody on my birthday, but this year? None of that. Which surprises me, because I'm laid off, underemployed, and money has been tight—Pete has had his of hours cut, too. And now with the baby on its way, I often lay in bed at night, worrying about the future and what I'll do when unemployment runs out, hopefully something which I won't have to worry about til next year (please please please give me an extension, IDES!).

But things just seem rosier now for some reason. I think there are many reasons for that. The fact that I'm no longer working at a job that I've HATED for the last few years is one. The fact that I'm starting to mix things up with my freelance work and continue to do what I love, at home. The fact that I get to work at home (for now), preparing for the future, for when I am taking care of our little bean and so lucky to be able to spend my time with him/her. And that's one of the biggest facts of all: the little bean. I've droned on and on about how wonderful life is with the baby coming and with something meaningful to look forward to, but I gotta tell ya, it's true. It does change so much, and he/she isn't even here yet.

True, my health still isn't wonderful. A lot of that has to do with being preggers, and I think that tends to distract me from the fact that there are still underlying health issues that I'll have to deal with once the baby is born. But again, I have the opportunity to raise a child, love them, teach them, laugh and cry with them, and of course, lose lots and lots of sleep. But it's all worth it.

I also just feel more comfortable in my own skin. The fact that Pete still finds me pretty when I have a face full of acne (thanks, hormones), or that he calls me Sexy Bear in my pregnant state and actually finds me attractive (yet cute with the tummy and all), does a lot for me confidence-wise. So does the fact that I don't care if I have 2 readers of my blog, or 22 readers, or whatever; my blog is for me, and for those who care to see how I am or what's bugging me or what's making me (or them) laugh. So does the fact that I can have fun with my camera and try new things and play as if I were a little kid again—albeit, a kid with an expensive and complicated camera. So does the fact that I have a loving family and friends who never notice when I've put on 10 pounds (well, until now, lol) or when my hair is misbehaving (almost daily) or when something isn't fitting quite right. They do notice when I'm not feeling my best, and they are always there to help me feel better, offer advice, make me laugh...whatever it takes.

So, to cut this ramble short, I just wanna say that 36 is looking pretty darn good. Yeah, it's on an average weekday, and not on the usual holiday weekend it falls on 3/4 of the time (grrr). Sure, I have no particular plans today and we'll probably just eat meatloaf I plan on making for dinner. And yes, life will go on as always, trudging (or leaping or rushing or tip-toeing) toward 37, then 38, and beyond. And I'm cool with that. I haven't been able to say that for several years, but I definitely feel it this time around.

Happy Wednesday, September 2nd, everyone!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Missing that caffeine magic

This tin poster (a birthday gift from Sam years ago) is in my kitchen, and makes me smile.

As I sit here trying to come up with some witty, colorful illustrations, I realize how much I rely on caffeine to fuel my creative urges. And because I have to limit my caffeine, my lack of "energy" is definitely affecting my creative urges. Which is obvious, because I'm busy blogging instead of drawing. I'm not sure how to get into the zone and be all hyped up about what I'm working on without chemical intervention. It's quite frustrating, and I find myself procrastinating or getting distracted by other things (blogging, tv, the pets, housework) just to avoid having to be imaginitive and innovative.

How does one get past this block? I know I've blogged about it before, but it seems even more difficult now. And I don't have the luxury of time to wait for inspiration to hit, so what is one to do? This has been a problem for me as a freelance creative person, and it's always something I struggle with. I wonder what the solution is, and how to get into the correct frame of mind to do what I need to do (and WANT to do, dammit). I know deadlines can be quite convincing, but I don't want to fall into that trap again and again. And since I'm working with a few new clients, I want to make a good impression.

So...what to do? Any suggestions from those who have to be "on" for certain projects?