Thursday, September 19, 2013

For the past week, everyone has been looking forward--or, rather, upward--to the early evening sky, as tonight was supposedly the best and clearest night of the year for o-tsukimi, moon-viewing. I've been in Japan for long enough that a lot of the things a normal foreigner might blog about have already become commonplace for me; but I still love its seasonal traditions, and now I'm happy to find that even the youngest kids are encouraged to enjoy them. Having learned about it from her kindergarden teachers, R was the one who reminded me to watch for this week's full moon, and it was she who pointed out the shimmery white susuki growing in a neighbor's garden that would be used as ornamentation during this quiet little nocturnal celebration.

Mochi shaped into small, powdery moons are traditionally eaten on this night, but we were a little late arriving at the mochi shop after school, so everything was sold out. We settled for a couple of daifuku, instead. 

Unfortunately, the big, champagne-colored moon decided to start rising right in the middle of dinner and a little too close to S's bedtime. R was too excited about the daifuku to concentrate on her udon. S was getting enraged by something at dinner and then somehow managed to shove an entire spear of broccoli into his mouth, which he proceeded to gag silently on. I waited a few seconds to see if he'd figure out how to pull the thing out but like an old lady who suddenly couldn't remember which pedal was the break and which the accelerator, he seemed to keep shoving the darn stalk deeper and deeper into his mouth. I quickly pulled it out and tried to present a calm demeanor, while my poor baby's eyes watered and his face bloomed red. By the time we'd sorted ourselves out, I turned to the window and found the damn moon high up in the sky and, while yeah, it was pretty and clear, it was also rather small. Poor R had ended up sitting by herself--again--nibbling on daifuku and watching the moon alone. 

Although he was doing the back-arching "I'm tired" thing, I hefted S up in one arm and dragged a stool out onto the balcony. R pouted a bit because she wanted us to eat mochi together, but I was too full from dinner and plum out of free hands. I sat down with S, and then R asked to sit on my lap as well. With my four-year-old on one thigh and the baby on the other, I cuddled us together and squinted through the bars of my balcony at the cold, milk-white moon above. R began to giggle and when she waggled her daifuku in front of S and then snatched it away when he made a grab for it, he began to giggle as well. Finally, I allowed myself to relax and enjoy my two babies at the same time, something not usually possible. These two kids--they seem to need my full attention, both of them, all the time. S demands to be held so often that I'm actually worried about his physical development, since he spends almost zero time on the floor--"screw tummy time" is his opinion on the matter. R has really been trying hard, trying to be understanding, trying to accept my divided self. I make sure, after S is in his crib for the night, that she and I have our special time together, just the two of us. 

But this beautiful, soft evening, for just one brief moment, we all laughed together and enjoyed ourselves as a family. Of course the moment ended after about a minute, when R began complaining that S's diaper was stinky and S began arching farther and farther backward over my arm, trying to go who-knows-where. I eventually had to jostle R off my leg when she refused to budge, turned on the audio book for her, and got S ready for bed, while R played outside in the living room by herself again. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My due date is in two days and I've never felt so conflicted. On one hand, the nights are getting unbearably uncomfortable. I don't know why everything feels worse when I'm lying down: I can't breathe well, my hips and ribs hurt, the nausea and heartburn comes roiling up, the internal poking from the baby increases, and I feel the need to pee every half hour. Also, a new development: That hypersensitivity to noise that I had when R was a baby is back. I always marveled at how A could snore blissfully through the baby's nighttime wakings. To me, the cries felt almost like electric shocks--my heart would actually lurch in panic and there was no way I could ignore them. This meant that for the first few years, even after R started sleeping better, I never got a really good night's sleep because every little sound would jerk me awake. Anyhow, that exhausting, extended state of ultralight sleep seems to have returned, as well as a bout of insomnia that hits at around 3am and lasts for two hours. On the other hand, I can honestly say I'm not sure I want the baby to come out yet. Lately, every small moment of joy or pleasure is followed by a sense of loss. My mind keeps whispering to me, Maybe this will be the last time: the last time our family of three enjoys a relaxed dinner together, the last time I get a good night's sleep (that experience actually passed quite a few weeks back, and I'm pretty sure I won't see it again), the last time R and I spend a leisurely afternoon together playing her favorite game of May We Pretend? Yesterday night, as I made my upteenth trip to the toilet, I heard R's deep breathing through her closed bedroom door as she slept, and I felt a sense of regret that her life is about to change in ways she cannot imagine. Everyone keeps asking her if she is looking forward to the birth of her baby brother and her shy smile and nods make me feel so guilty. She has always had unlimited access to me--we still struggle every weekend with her refusing A's help when getting ready for bed, etc.--and I have no idea how she will respond to sharing her mom. I keep wavering between wanting to start "training" her to get used to me not always being available and wanting to shower her with extra attention. I know these are pretty normal feelings that most moms have, when faced with kid #2. I'm sure I even wrote something similar on this blog a while back. I just need to process everything, though, while I still have my mental faculties in tact. Now that I'm full term this week, there is an uncontrollable sense of being in limbo...just waiting for labor to start. Do I plan a whole week's worth of meals? Do I stock up the fridge? What if I make a pan of cinnamon roll dough, leave it to rest in the fridge overnight, but then go into labor before they are baked? These are the kinds of earth-shattering concerns flitting through my head these days. One thing weighing heavily on my mind is that I'm GBS positive and, when labor begins, I have to go to a faraway clinic first (not the midwife's) to get an IV drip of antibiotics. I really would rather drive myself there, so that once it's done, if I have time, I can just take myself home again and hang out in the comfort of my own bathtub. But everyone practically yells at me not to consider driving while in labor. On the other hand, I keep having visions of me being stuck in a taxi, about to give birth, trying not to make weird sounds that will scare the driver, maybe even getting on all fours in the back of the cab and swaying my butt while trying to deal with the pain. I don't know why but in Japan, the cab seats are always lined with this white fabric that can get stained really easily from, say, a toddler clambering about or a woman whose water is breaking. When I call for a cab, I'm debating whether or not to warn them that I'm in labor. "Don't worry," I'll say, "I've got my adult diaper on." Yeah, I actually bought a small pack in preparation. There were so many choices! Who knew. I worry a lot about breastfeeding, which was SO hard with R; took us about eight months to get it right. And even after that, I had to deal with endless bouts of clogged ducts, mastitis, and thrush. I'm also dreading the hormonally charged emotions of that first month. I really don't like crying in front of people--anyone. And I suddenly realize I have to throw away the garbage, make the dog poo, and pick my daughter up from kindergarten RIGHT NOW, so I'll end this post in a nice, abrupt manner.
I'm 39 weeks along in this pregnancy and about three weeks into what has been an insane nesting frenzy. In fact this post is part of it. I just can't stop feeling like I need to GET THINGS DONE before the baby arrives, and one of those things is capturing our life--these last few precious moments--before everything changes. It's crazy how completely different my two pregnancies have been. Aside from the first few months of morning sickness, with R, my stomach stayed relatively small, I only gained about 8kg, my appetite never changed, I had loads of time to attend yoga, breastfeeding, newborn care, and labor classes, while still not really having a clue as to what lay in store for me. I stayed pretty mellow and carefree until the end. This time around, I'm huge--so stretched my ribcage aches and feels like it's about to crack. I should have a permanent bruise where THIS KID repeatedly jabs his feet into his favorite spot waaay out to my right side. I've already gained 12kg. Japanese people LOVE telling you how big you've gotten--in an affectionate and good-natured way, though--and I get told this at every opportunity by all the moms at R's kindergarden. And I've been busy. I think I've managed to do one prenatal yoga video I found on YouTube a total of four times in the past nine months. The rest of my time has been spent taking care of R and, these past few weeks, nesting like a crazed bird. My apartment has never been this clean. I've got my hospital bag packed--I don't think I even had a hospital bag the first time round. I've put together an actual folder of instructions for my mother-in-law when she comes to stay, to take care of R the week I'm in the hospital. I've got a few weeks' worth of meal parts in my college-dorm-sized Japanese freezer (it was just too small to actually store whole meals in); I definitely didn't care about this when pregnant with R, but now that I have an actual other child to think about while I'm dealing with a newborn at the same time, I'm pretty worried about whether I'll be able to keep the older one properly fed and cared for. My home is stocked to the brim with extras: soap, shampoo, toilet paper, clothing detergent, you name it. Although with all the damn peeing I've been doing lately, I've almost finished off the year's supply of toilet paper I'd recently ordered online; and I can't stop eating all the muffins and breads that are supposed to be back-up snacks for when breastfeeding turns me into a ravenous beast but I don't have any time or desire to cook for myself. Damn it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Being pregnant has brought back a few forgotten memories of the first year with R, as a baby. A lot of the difficult times come to mind. Maybe the worst was being sick while having to care for an angry teething six month old, who didn't know what being sick meant and who had this quirky loathing for when mom tried to lie down ever. Just one reason co-sleeping never worked out for us.

So there I was, seated shaking and feverish on the carpet, unable to lie down because it would send R into a fit, and trying to keep her entertained. Which was pretty much impossible since teething kept her permanently miserable that particular month.

Well, what do you know? It's been almost four years. I'm five months pregnant, tired as heck, sick as a dog, and taking care of R once again. Only this time things are infinitely better. I lie on the couch--she lets me! She sits at the coffee table in front of me, drawing up a storm and coming up with her own craft projects. The table is positively exploding with bits of paper, tulle, glue, tape, scissors, and a big roll of toilet paper for me, to keep my runny nose at bay. Being much more enormous this time round, or maybe just because it's already the second time, my bladder is already starting to fail me. Ah, incontinence, welcome back, old friend.

Actually, the first time I experienced this problem was after I gave birth to R. It was horrific. I mean, I'm not talking a little trickle here and there. After a few months, I stopped having to wear pads and bracing myself if I needed to run. People warned me things could get worse if I ever got pregnant again.

And they were right. Yep, this past week, every time I've coughed, sneezed, or blown my nose, I've had to grab my crotch and sort of squeeze, in order to keep my pee from leaking out. It really is a pretty picture to behold. Wish I could make a holiday postcard out of the image.

Can't even imagine the state of my bladder after another baby has grown to full size inside me and then squeezed its way out.

Funny thing is I didn't come here to bitch about that. What I'm bothered by THIS TIME (I feel like a need to change the title of this blog to something more apt, like The Bitching Hour, though I bet that's already been taken) is the fact that I've been sick the past few days, haven't gotten any sleep at night because I've been too busy trying to hack up my lungs, I've got a sweet child but one that needs regular care and feeding--and a lot of conversation--it's a Sunday, and my husband...where is he? Oh yes, he's out playing soccer with his buds.

I am all for A having his own life and interests. I totally get that he needs to have fun in his spare time, since he works like a crazy person. But come on. Would it have killed him just to ask, "Are you going to be okay, hun? Would you like me to stay home and keep R company, while you rest?" I'm not asking for a hot beverage service, people. Or someone to tenderly wipe my feverish brow. A never does that stuff anyway. He's not that kind of guy and I've accepted that. But jeez! A little thought for the sick, pregnant lady here.

Poor R got natto and rice for lunch. A bit of a reprieve came in the delivery of a big bag of frozen raspberries I'd ordered online. R is crazy about them and you can't get them in Tokyo--or not where we live, anyway. R danced and beamed like Santa had hand-delivered her gift early. She ate a full cup of frozen berries and declared them the best she'd ever had. Made me feel like a less-bad mom that day.

Now she's taking her nap and I realize our peaceful existence will never return once the baby is here. And honestly, it makes me a little sad. We get along really wonderfully, R and I. Our peaceful little life together works. I find myself filled with doubt and a certain dread about what the new baby--a boy--will be like and how he will change the dynamic of our home. Will he be noisier, more rambunctious? Will chasing after him take away my reserves of patience and energy, make me more easily cross with R? Will R and I still be close, as close as we are now?

I've already googled this endlessly and know what everyone says. But despite the reassurances, I've really been showering R with extra hugs and kisses, trying to make up for any hurts bestowed upon her in the future, by a tired, sleep-deprived mom taking care of a newborn.

I also wonder how I'll cope when I get sick with a baby AND a child to care for. I had one mom tell me, "You just don't get sick. Your body knows it can't afford to." Ha! My stupid body is not that considerate. It'll happen, and I guess I'll be back to blog and whine about it then.

Okay, going to try to lie down for a bit.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It came to me, as I pulled up the Blogger website for the first time in...I don't know how long it's been, that I now know why I blog--or don't blog, as the case may be most of the time. I don't do it because I need everyone to know about my life. As a confirmed introvert, in fact, I've always shared too little, been certain that no one would be interested in my thoughts, and marveled at strangers who could tell me the most intimate details of their life with full assurance that I would care.

Why do I write (sometimes) on a public forum, then? For me, it comes close to my childhood fantasy of sneaking into one of those Catholic confessional boxes and releasing all my pain, anger, and confusion on someone, while retaining anonymity. With a friend or family member, I'd have to see judgment, or maybe disinterest, on his or her face. But maybe a paper diary, tucked back into the underwear drawer and left to grow mold, is just a tad too...lonely? I'm not sure.

Lastly, it has never failed to amaze me how often, in times of distress, I've randomly Googled and found someone else going through something similar, and, without any connections being made, found solace. Just as that little bit of solidarity was enough to get me past a bad place, I always hope that someone might randomly find a snippet within all the drivel I've written here that would bring them a like comfort.

In case you didn't get it, I'm feeling low. Not completely. I'm about 17 or 18 weeks pregnant right now and today I actually wanted and enjoyed a cup of coffee after being put off by the idea for almost five months. So there's a little cause for celebration. I also found a not-entirely-new friend recently, who seems to want to support me through this pregnancy, which is nice.

I know it's mostly pregnancy hormones. Had a big pity-party this morning. Googled things like "labor pregnant alone" and "husband never around." Hey, after over ten years of marriage, I should be used to our life. I am used to it. Shh, don't tell A, but he was of no help to me when I went into labor with R. I don't mind that he probably won't even be present for the next birth.

I just resent the hell out of him, even though it's not his fault, that I can't depend on him ever. I had to hold R last night, while she sobbed in her bed because she missed her daddy--which makes it sound like he's dead or something, but no, it's just that we almost never see him. This morning, he promised to take R to kindergarten and she was so thrilled, as was I because there were a million things to prepare for today and I was so busy I didn't have time to eat breakfast, even though an empty stomach always has my morning sickness rearing it's ugly green head. But then, of course, suddenly A had work to do. What is new.

Suddenly, I had ten minutes to douse my crazy bed head, try to find clothes that would fit my new big boobs and big tummy, pack the gazillion things R's kindergarten had instructed we bring to school that day, help R on and off the toilet and in and out of her clothes about four times because she thought she had to poo but then she didn't (she recently cut her hand with a knife and is suddenly dependent on me for a lot of things she usually can do herself), and wonder as my stomach roiled if there were any way I had even 30 seconds to cram something into my mouth and tame the MS monster. I didn't.

R and I ran out the door. But not before I said some curt things to A, that resentment I mentioned seething inside me. I knew I was wrong. I know he works hard for us. I couldn't contain my feelings. I even had to blink a few tears away as we hurried toward the elevator, unsure if they were brought on by frustration or regret.

And now there is another baby on the way. Are you shaking your head in condemnation? What is she thinking, you wonder. She obviously can't handle the situation as it is, and now she wants to bring another kid into the mix?

I know, right?! This is crazy. How am I going to handle two kids by myself, one of them a needy newborn? Sure, there are a lot of single moms out there who do it. And what about those women who have like ten children, their own successful businesses, and time to blog daily about the art projects they came up with for their kids that will be on display at MoMA until the end of October? What is my life compared? How is it so impossible?

Well, that's where this blog comes in. Here I am, with my whirlwind of pregnant emotions, and I don't really have anyone in real life that I could whine to without feeling utterly ashamed. You could be reading this and hating me, but just don't tell me about it, okay? I don't wanna know. Just allow me to get this beast off my chest.

Big sigh.

I've got to get going. I'm meeting up with a midwife in a bit and discussing a possible all-natural birth, versus the full-on hospital experience I had originally planned for. R was born at a hospital and I had never been so grateful for the epidural I received. I can't remember the anesthesiologist's face, but in my mind, his head glows with a golden halo and he exudes an aura of peace and love. Unfortunately, this time around, I'm in Japan and my luck with doctors here is CRAP. They freak me out, with their taciturn, authoritarian, impatient mannerisms. I could not handle laboring alone in a hospital, surrounded by such people, knowing I had zero rights. It only took one hospital visit, with a doctor whose internal exam left me feeling violated and in pain, and a nurse who assured me I would get an episiotomy--everyone does--and that I could not have my baby with me during the week-long enforced hospital stay.

The two-hour appointment (most of it spent waiting in a huge room packed with other pregnant women) left me feeling dehumanized and scared. I knew I would rather die (sorry for the melodrama) than have that doctor's rough, pitiless hands on me when I was in the middle of labor and delivery pains.

I went home, wrote to as many people as I knew, and started researching alternate options. As the replies came in, it soon because clear that birthing at a midwife-run clinic would be my best bet. Unlike at the hospitals, my concerns would be heard and respected, breastfeeding would be supported, and there would be no medical interventions--i.e., no episiotomies but also no epidurals.

I am afraid of not having the epidural to fall back on, if I reach a point in labor where I just can't handle the pain. I try to tell myself that it's unlikely I'll have another 36-hour labor with the second baby. Anyhow, pain-free births in Japan aren't common and, in terms of accessible hospitals, I don't have many options: It's the Hospital From Hell or one that would require I be induced at the convenience of the anesthesiologist. I could try a smaller doctor's clinic, which I've read can provide a more personal and accommodating experience; but I've lived a total of ten years in Japan, seen my fair share of different doctors, and I'm afraid my confidence in them is lacking. A midwife clinic it is.

A is 100-percent unsupportive of natural birth. He doesn't think I can handle it. He also cannot believe the pictures he's seen on some of the birthing house websites: "There's just a bed," he'll say. He wants wires, monitors, the full shebang. But I say, he's not going to be there, I am. And if I'm going to be laboring alone, I'm going to want to do it with a midwife at my side, not some overworked nurse tersely barking orders at me and expecting me to lie quietly on my back and be an obedient little animal.

Oh well. I don't know what I hope to find out at my meeting with the midwife today. What assurance I will get. But I've had my cup of coffee and I've dumped my feelings all over this page, and I feel a flutter of optimism. Or maybe that's the baby inside me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

You know, one nice thing about being a slacker blogger who doesn't have many--um...any?--readers is that you don't have to apologize for the ridiculous time gaps between posts. Hee.

I don't know what happened. We got back from our extended stay in Okinawa and.... Okay, yeah, it's coming back to me a little bit. I recently read that a lot of kids start acting out around the half-year mark and R was about two and a half when we got back to Tokyo. And boy did she start acting out. I've blocked out most of it and I don't want to try to recall any more. But I do remember not having any desire to blog. Things got better after a few months though, and now, I have to say our relationship is fantastic. She's turning three this month, so--fingers crossed--we should have at least a six-month grace period before everything falls apart all over again: just about the time she starts kindergarten. Yippee.

For me, sharing one's life with a communicative kid is immeasurably better than with a cuddly unreasonable baby. I love the conversations I have with R. She actually points out things I, in my typical dazed way, tend to overlook. She helps me out, like when I'm stuck on the toilet and, too late, realize A used up all the stinkin' toilet paper but didn't put in a new roll. When it's bed time, and she's refusing to put on her PJs, I can actually say, "Fine. Then you put them on when you feel like it. Good night," and then leave the room.

R is being this amazing kid right now and I'm just holding my breath, waiting for everything to blow up in my face, cause that's the way I am. But I'm definitely not taking anything for granted or failing to enjoy the good times while they last. Sure, R has her quirks. She still refuses to really play at the park unless it's after dark--but she's now reluctantly able to share the playground with other children, though not too many. She still asks to be carried, a lot. She hardly walks--again, unless, it's dark (I don't know, I guess she feels safer, somehow, when she's less visible?). She has the appetite of a cow and it's a pain having to hear "I'm hun-gee" 263 times a day, let alone trying to appease that little stomach of hers. And right now, she has this annoying thing where she asks "What xyz saying?" every other second. You know how some kids ask "Why?" constantly? It's kind of like that. So, say we're about to leave the house and have to leave Edward the Dog behind, the ensuing conversation will go something like this:

R: What Eddie saying?
Me: He's saying, "Oh, I wish I could come with you guys."
R: What Ruka say?
Me: Sorry, Eddie, you can't come.
R: What Eddie say?
Me: Why not?
R: What Momma say?
Me: Because dogs aren't allowed into the supermarket.
R: What Eddie say?

Okay, you get the idea. It's hair-tearingly exhaustive conversation and is very, very difficult to put a halt to. Believe me, I've tried all sorts of distractions and commands, but once she's determined to know what everyone's saying, she'll just keep on asking. R used to love hearing me read books to her before bedtime, but now she just can't stop interrupting me, wanting to know what every person, creature, and thing on every page is saying. AND she asks "Why?" all the time, too, but in super-annoying ways:

R: Can we go to the playground?
Me: Sure.
R: Why?

R: I did it, mom. Say, "Good job."
Me: Good job, sweetie.
R: Why?

As I mentioned, R's birthday is coming up and the twinges of stress I feel here and there over getting her the cake she's asked for and trying to decide what present to buy her are huge foreshadowing for all the birthdays to come. Right now, she's little enough that as long as her cake is green (her favorite color), truly nothing else matters. But dear god, what happens when there are teeny, noisy little friends running around? When there is peer pressure to have a fun party, a gorgeous cake, the right presents, etc.? I know some parents enjoy that sort of thing, BUT I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. I'm already caving and deciding not to try to make R's cake myself, since I definitely do not cook pretty. I figure, living in Japan, it should be fairly easy to buy a green matcha cake, add a mountain of raspberries (her favorite fruit) on top, maybe stick in a plastic Santa (she saw a Christmas cake catalogue and was inspired), and--voila--you have R's dream birthday cake.

Well, for it to be totally perfect, there would have to be Jiji somewhere on the cake as well. Jiji is the little black cat in the Ghibli animated movie, Kiki's Delivery Service, currently R's favorite movie. But I...I know R is too young to conceive that a cake could actually be shaped like a cat or even feature a cake somewhere on its surface, so I'm going to be a mean mom and not even go there. Sort of the way, when she asks about a candy she's spotted in a store, a candy she's never tried before, I just shrug and feign ignorance, like, "Wow, I don't know what that is, either. Interesting, huh? Oh, hey, look, Miffy-shaped nori!!!" Is this terrible of me? I figure I've got YEARS of themed birthdays in my future and am in no rush to get there before it's absolutely necessary.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Last week, the news abruptly announced that tsuyu--the rainy season--had come early to Okinawa. I grew up in Vancouver, so really shouldn't complain about a few weeks of merely sporadic rain and mucky skies. But this will be our last week in Okinawa. This Saturday, the remaining four of us, plus the dog and cat (who incidentally still hate each other's guts, despite sharing a roof for over a month), will be returning to Tokyo.

Okinawa is to the rest of Japan what Hawaii is to the US mainland, and no one imagines being here and having to deal with umbrellas, rain slickers, moldy laundry, and dark afternoons. I'd thought we'd have at least one chance to swim in the gorgeous ocean so tantalizingly close by. I packed our swimsuits--which have remained folded inside my suitcase.

We've been making nearly daily trips to the coin laundromat to dry our clothes, since the only option at home is hanging things outside on the balcony. Every afternoon, the dog and I stare longingly out the living room glass door, willing the leaky clouds to clear out and for some color to return to the world. Sunday was all scorching hot blue skies--for which I was grateful, but I'm hoping for at least one more such day, so we can spend it at the beach before our time in Naha is up.

I was rather mournful about coming here, about living with my in-laws. Now I wish we didn't have to leave. It's been an incredible experience, raising R with people--family--around to help out. The luxury of popping out to walk the dog and leaving R at home or cooking dinner while R plays with someone in the other room or, at the end of a long day, having R say she doesn't want me but obachan to give her a bath (oh darn I am so hurt but okay then I guess I have no choice but to lie here on the sofa and read something on my iphone while eating this handful of gummy bears): This is the first real vacation I've had since R was born. I realize what a breathless race life is back in Tokyo, where it's just R and me; there is never enough time to do everything I need to do, from the moment I'm jerked awake by my daughter's cries in the early morning, till I lower her back into the crib that night.

I've had so much more patience for R and she, in turn, is calmer and less prone to tantrums. R is clearly happier for having other people in the home who she can turn to, for love, for laughs, for comfort, for learning. She has really bonded with my mother-in-law and I couldn't be more glad.

Sure, there are things I won't miss about our life here: For one thing, my mother-in-law has unexpectedly revealed herself to be a total TV addict. I swear, if the TV could be programmed to turn on first thing when she wakes up in the morning, like a coffee percolator, she'd do it. She has been understanding of my wish not to have R watch too much TV, but still, every other minute the damn thing is on at high volume and too often R will stumble into the living room and become immobilized before it--mute, deaf, and brain-dead--until my MIL catches on and turns it off.

Second thing I won't miss: Considering what a middle-of-nowhere neighborhood we're living in, it's freakin' noisy as hell. We're practically touching distance from an elementary school and are bombarded all day long with tolling bells, screaming children, blaring brass bands, and bored roosters. Then there are the uncontrolled guard dogs waiting at the front gate of every house, ready to explode into sound at the least provocation; the garbage trucks that play a tinkling tune at high volume, to alert residents to their approach, I suppose; and the stupid black motorcycle parked outside my window that roars to heartstopping life every night at around 2am. Am I the only one who fantasizes about shooting things with a gun--like that damn bird who starts croo-CROOing at 5am every morning?