What a Feeling

Just so you know, what I'm about to write is probably going to sound ridiculous. To all the women out there who have been pregnant before, I'm aware that in the next few moments you will be making fun of me. That's fine. I can take it.

It's hard to describe the way I have felt since finding out that I am pregnant. I'm ecstatic about it, but yet I am terrified that I am going to do something "wrong" that will endanger the baby, which all my research indicates is the size of a lentil. I have been walking extra cautiously, taking stairs extra-slowly, refusing to ride the four-wheeler, etc. All those things are probably semi-normal.

What does not feel normal is how fragile that I feel. I have been suppressing any coughing fit I feel coming on. I have avoided situations requiring me to stretch or bend in an awkward way. When my dogs come rushing at me, I grasp my midsection in a panic. I also block any potential contact of that area from wild and bouncing nieces and nephews.

Today, for the first day since I found out, I allowed my self to bend backwards in an awkward contortionist position to reach something in the back seat. And it didn't seem to have any affect at all. So later on, I felt a heavy cough coming on and I let it.

My mindset is slowly changing from total freak-out to a more relaxed (yet still cautious) philosophy. Just in time for the morning sickness to kick in.


Right Up My Nose

This morning, a gnat flew up my nose.

I hadn't even gotten out of bed yet. I lay on the bed, reading my book and waiting for the last possible moment until I had to get up.

The gnat must have snuck in when we were taking the dogs out last night. He must have perched on the top of my bed post throughout the entire night. Just waiting. And watching. Then, this morning, he saw his opportunity.

Of all the places in the room - the entire house for that matter - he chose right up my nose.

I know it must sound (from posts like this and this) like insects are invading my house. I really don't think this is the case. I am just prone to harassment by the wretched creatures. Oh, that and living out in the middle of nowhere. My house is OCD clean - I promise - so it's not that. Insects are just prominent in the woods and they are so, so sneaky.

When we have the door open, it's usually in the process of taking the dogs in and out. The dogs think we are crazy, I'm sure. When the door is open, we desperately try to get them to hurry across the threshold so that we can shut it again. No wonder Max is so jumpy.

I'm sure I've said this before, but it's worth another run. I hate bugs.


I'm Quirky, So What?

Today I came across on a post from randsinrepose that made me feel just a little bit more human. You see, I have lots of quirks. Seeing that other people do too - that makes me happy.

In the last few years, I have come to accept, even cherish these idiosyncrasies in my personality. It adds character. How boring would life be if we were all alike and acted the same way all the time?

I made a list of a few of mine. I have to:

  • Eat M&M's in three's
  • Keep any money in my purse in numerical order (largest on inside) and facing the same way
  • Check for keys in my purse, even if I just put them there
  • Fold the straw wrapper into a rectangular shape
  • Hang clothes in ROY G BIV order, and all hanging in the same direction
  • Have browser tabs and taskbar items in a specific order. If the task bar order gets messed up, I close all the windows and restart everything.
  • Sort "Smarties" in color order
  • Check that the car door is locked when I get out of the vehicle and close the door, even if I know I just locked it
  • Watching the garage door go all the way to the bottom before pulling away. I have been on the way to work and convinced myself that I didn't do this. Then I had to go all the way back home and check. At least one of the times I went back to check it was actually open - that just fuels the OCD
  • Always turn off lights when I leave the room, and if there are multiple switches I make sure they are all facing the same direction
  • Line up magazines in the doctor's office
  • Have items on my desk must be arranged in a particular order
  • Make sure the fitted sheet on my bed is straight (no wrinkles) and the cover must be draped symmetrically over me before I can try to sleep
  • Have a straw in a restaurant, becauseI will not drink out of a cup in a restaurant without a straw
  • Create all my CSS and graphics measurements with a 0, 1, 3, 5 or 7 as the right-most digit
  • Use a paper towel to touch the doorknob of public bathrooms
  • Save the best bite of food for last even though I know I may not be hungry enough to eat it when I'm done
  • Straighten paintings or wall hangings that are crooked
  • Pop all the bubbles in bubble wrap
  • Ensure that toilet paper comes out over the roll, not under
There's more, but I have to go out to my car to make sure I locked the door. After thinking about it, I've convinced myself that I didn't.


Dr. Pepper Withdrawal

I've mentioned before about the undying love I have for Dr. Pepper. Now that I'm pregnant, I have decided that I need to take action regarding the amount of Dr. Pepper that I consume daily. I'm sure the baby is as broken-hearted as I am.

I have been reading all kinds of information about what I should have and what I should avoid. While there is a lot of mixed messages about the effects of caffeine, I want to play it as safe as possible. So, I'm limiting my caffeine intake.

The largest percentage of my caffeine intake comes from - you guessed it - Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper - with it's irresistible blend of 23 authentic, seductive flavors - contains 41 milligrams of caffeine in just 12 ounces.

So, I'm going to be cautious and reduce the amount I drink. I've never seen Caffeine-Free Dr. Pepper before, but that would just be awesome.


Dogs and Their Toys

Because Max's eyes do not produce enough tears, he has to have eye drops every night for his whole life. This keeps him from getting eye infections. The dog pharmacy sends us his prescription in the mail, along with a dog toy.

It's really sweet that they send him a toy, even though I seriously question their judgment when it comes to pet toys.

Max loves this horrific hot dog that came with his last prescription. He loves gnawing on it's scary face, and he loves carting it around and squeaking it repeatedly.

The squeak that comes from this thing is more like a sqwAAAUUCCk!

I have never intentionally bought squeaky toys. Because of this, Molly does not have an appreciation for squeaky toys. She gives you this look that says - WHAT THE CRAP, man? Why is that thing making a NOISE?!?

Max, on the other hand, loves a good squeak.

The first (and only) squeaky toy I have ever bought was completely by accident. In the store, I had felt around for that blasted squeaker in several toys before I chose a harmless, silent plush dog. I handed it over to Max, and he grabbed it in delight, gnawing over every inch. Suddenly, a SQUEAK emerged from somewhere deep within the toy.

Molly ran to me and jumped, trying to get me to pick her up - she does that when she's scared.

Max just ran all over the house with his new-found noisemaker. Over and over and over.

I really thought about trying to burst that squeaker and restore the silence to our dog toy collection. But then, as I looked at my little dog having the time of his life recreating that sound - I just could not do it.

So now Max has two squeaky toys, and this one is probably the ugliest hot dog toy ever. But I'll live with it, because he loves it.


Getting Baby Stuff

My mother-in-law came over today with our very first baby gift. It's a cute little plush duck, and cute little baby shoes with ducks. Did I mention how cute the stuff was?

I'm still pretty overwhelmed that we are actually producing a little person who will wear those shoes and play with that duck.

Part of me really wants to just tear into Target and start grabbing baby stuff right and left. The other part of me is terrified.

What if we lose the baby? I'm only at 5 weeks now, and it just feels like the baby is so, so vulnerable. Seven years of infertility intensifies the normal parental fears.

I have to find a balance of enjoying this time in our lives, but yet preparing myself in case the worst happens.


Meltdown Gets Down

My two-year-old niece, Meltdown, is flying through her terrible two's. Now, she so sweet that she's irresistible. If she keeps this up, I will have to think of a new moniker for her here.

Last night Monkey T (age 10) had a friend over and they were inventing dances and variety show acts. Oh, to be young again.

When the music came on, Meltdown jumped to the center stage in front of the other two girls. And she let loose. She did the twist, followed by the macarena (the two-year-old's version) and the jump (remember Kris Kross?). Then she got on the floor and started with something like break dancing that ended up just a lot of rolling around to the music. Then she ended her routine by running around in circles until she fell down.

When the song was over she got up and clapped loudly for herself.

I wish I'd been able to get it on video.

That kid. I wonder what they are teaching her in daycare? She's got to be getting those moves from somewhere.


I am Barbeque Sauce

You Are Barbeque Sauce (I am?)

You are a social person. You enjoy cooking for other people. (Um, not all that social, but I do enjoy cooking for other people. Half Check.)

You are both skillful and competitive. You enjoy mastering hard tasks. (Competitive? Check. Hard Tasks? Probably too lazy, unless the return is high.)

You appreciate complexity more than simplicity. (Check.)

Your taste in food tends to lean toward interesting flavors. (Sorry, my food tastes are actually quite dull.)

You appreciate exotic spice combinations. You tend to like cutting edge, fusion cuisine. (Again, Dull I Am. Unless you are talking about clothes or home decor.)

You get along with all personalities from a distance. Except salsa personalities, who always seem to annoy you. (Aha! Absolutely! I don't know what salsa personalities are, but since I don't like salsa it MUST be true.)

I found this quiz through Blarney. The brown comments are mine. What Condiment are You?

Double the hCG

Today, Dr. F sent me back to the hospital to check my blood again. This time, the blood work was actually a normal, drama-free experience.

This afternoon, Nurse Judy called me with the results. You know, after I spent about 5 hours climbing the walls of my office.

Everything looks good! My hCG is 310.11. That's more than double what it was the day before yesterday - just like it should be. My progesterone was slightly lower than the other day - 25. Dr. F wants me to take a supplement for that.

I go see Dr. F August 7th for an ultrasound. He said we might hear a heartbeat, but I am not to be alarmed if we don't. They are sure that I ovulated late, so it might be a little early for the heartbeat.

It looks like I am at 4 weeks, 6 days. If all goes well, my due date is around March 30. Woo-hoo!


Spreading the News

We have been enjoying sharing our good news with our inner circle of peeps. So many of them have been so supportive during this almost-seven-year struggle.

Honestly, I wanted to wait until we are further along to tell people. J doesn't want to. He wants everyone in the world to know. I knew that he would implode if he didn't get to share, so I consented.

I called my parents yesterday and told them first. I'm an only child, so I am their sole hope for grandchildren. They are thrilled. Cautious (just like I am), but thrilled.

J decided to send his mom flowers with a "See you in 9 months" note. She's really excited too, but after 10 grandchildren - she's a pro at this.

I texted my friend Christy a photo of the home pregnancy test. Immediately she texted and left me a voice mail. When we finally caught up on the phone, she told me that when she got that message, she almost ran off the road.

We also told J's siblings, or at least tried to. J left a message for the Vet to come over later. Instead, he called me. He had figured out what it was about and trapped me into telling him, by hitting me with ridiculous questions such as: "Are you sure you are the mother?"; "Are you going to name the baby ?" I finally broke down when Mel (his wife) said "Are you really going to make me sit through this whole movie trying to figure out what is going on instead of enjoying Batman?" No, I couldn't do that to her. Not ruin Batman.

Super H saw his grandma's flowers. He can read now, so J's mom told him he couldn't see the note. He reported this to his mother, who cornered J's mom into divulging the news. We made the mistake of discussing the events with her last night, and Super H overheard enough to figure out what was going on himself. "I'm going to have a new cousin? Is it a boy or girl?"

J sent his oldest brother the following text message: "The Pee Test had two lines!"


No, You May Not See My License.

Yesterday I looked down at my driver's license, and much to my chagrin - it was expired. Apparently, I missed the reminder they send out.

Like most good US citizens, I despise going to the DMV. The majority of employees that I have dealt with there have been very rude, no matter how nice I am to them in return. I know, I know. They deal with difficult people all the time and I would not want that job for all the money in the world. Well, maybe all the money.

This morning, there were two DMV employees and about 10 people in front of me in the line for license renewals. It could be worse, right?


After I passed the sign/vision test (By the way, the yellow "sideways" triangle with no words - tricky, tricky. It wasn't in the poster that I had plenty of time to stare at during my wait.), the employee looked up at me. "That will be $32."

$32? Since when? The last renewal that I did was $10. Guess how much cash I had on me! $28. And of course, I don't carry a checkbook.

I gave the lady my best deer-in-headlights look. She told me to just go down the street to the ATM and come right back. Great.

I came back to the store with my cash in hand. And she had no change.

After interviewing all the people waiting not-so-patiently in line and finally getting me my change, she instructed me to sit down and look at the light.

I did just as I was told. As a result, I saw a spot in the shape of the light for the next three hours.

And my picture is horrible. I don't smile in pictures like that. I don't want to. My smile ends up looking all crooked, and I would rather just have a pleasant look on my face. But no, that was not acceptable. I had to stare at the blinding light until I cracked a smile.

Now I'm stuck with that picture until 2016. At least I won't have to go back to the DMV for a renewal until then.


The Wait is Over

And I'm pregnant!!!!!!!

The nurse finally, finally called me back, and my hCG level is at 136. My progesterone has also increased to 25. The doctor believes that I ovulated later than expected, which would account for the low test.


Waiting on Confirmation

This morning, I woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep. Instead, I took another test.

Still positive.

"Paranoid, much?" you may ask. ABSOLUTELY!

I'm still in shock.

I called Nurse Judy as soon as the doctor's office opened. I gave her, oh, maybe 5 minutes to respond before I called her again.

This time she answered. "Congratulations!" she exclaimed.

A big part of me will not acknowledge that I may be pregnant. I certainly will have a hard time if it turns out to be some sort of mistake. Just hearing the congrats of my nurse made my anxiety level triple.

Since my progesterone level was low at my test, there could be complications. They sent me to the hospital for a blood test immediately.

This blood test went much better. The nurse who took my blood this time actually *gasp* seemed to know what she was doing. I felt light-headed, but I'm sure it was just nerves.

Now I'm sitting at my desk waiting for the results to come in. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I don't do waiting so well. I called my doctor at least once already and left a message. You know, just in case they got the results and forgot to call me. I'm trying really hard not to call again.

I am completely distracted and cannot focus on anything else. Oh, by the way, I am at work and probably shouldn't be using time to type this - so ssshhh! My co-workers have come to me to make decisions about various things, and I cannot focus on what they tell me. I feel like I am on another planet - the waiting planet. The planet where people go crazy because of all the WAITING.


The Thin Pink Line

Today is Day 30 of my cycle. I am never late. But, with a low progesterone level last week and the fact that I haven't been sick or had any symptoms, I put off doing anything.

Until today.

J asked me to take it. I wanted to say "no". The last time, I was devastated. Why would I want to see it in black and white (okay, pink and white), when I knew it couldn't be the outcome I wanted?

Because I love my husband, I took it anyway. He wasn't home to read the results for me, so I looked myself. Besides, I just knew that I was headed for disappointment.

But then, I saw it. A faint second pink line.

After picking myself off the floor, I looked again.

It was still there.

J came home, and before I could tell him what happened, he saw the test. Now we are both in shock.

After almost 7 years of trying, I may actually be pregnant.


The Best Stress Medicine

Last night, we went out for ice cream after church. As we were leaving the ice cream place, my two-year-old niece, Meltdown, yelled out at me from her car seat.

"Hey A! I'll see you in da morrow! I wuv you!"

My heart melted in place. It's the first time she told me that she loved me completely unprompted.


Kitchen Show Day

A few weeks ago, I scheduled a Pampered Chef cooking show party for today. I used to be a consultant for Pampered Chef, and I love their stuff. I only stopped because of my own laziness in scheduling cooking shows. But hosting - that, I can handle.

My biggest problem? Getting RSVP's. I put on every single invitation that I sent to RSVP. Twice. Did people call/email/tell me in person? About 20% of them. This kind of thing is becoming a pet peeve of mine. The last several events I have hosted worked the same way.

I didn't ask if people were coming just for kicks. I needed to know how much extra food to prepare. I need to know if I need to scrounge up chairs from my neighboring family. Yet, RSVP-ing is just not trendy any more. If you don't know if you can come or not, well, tell me that. A maybe is much better than a complete mystery.

Anyway, other than having no idea how many people would be attending and the pouring down rain that started right as people began arriving, the party went off without a hitch.

I spent part of yesterday figuring out which 3 half price items and $240 worth of free product I would like. I'm in kitchen heaven.


Same Attack, Different Insect

A couple of days ago, I shared with you about a moth incident that I had. Strangely enough, last night, the EXACT SAME THING happened again. But, this time it was a different personal space violator - a gnat.

Since today is my day off from work (Yay!), I am feeling pretty lazy. So, I'm not going to rehash the whole experience by typing it all out again. You can just see here, specifically the last four paragraphs, and substitute "gnat" in each place that you see "moth".

Oh, one difference. I did shriek, but I didn't call for J. Since gnats are - you know - pretty small, I was able to take care of that one on my own.

Living out here in the woods is tough.


Worms, Worms, Go Away

I just finished a particularly traumatic bath and grooming session with Molly. We're both still worked up about it. She's currently laying at my feet with her head flat on the ground, pouting.

Molly hates baths, especially in our laundry sink. I plopped her in there, and spent the next thirty minutes between sudsing her up (which she tolerates) and chasing her around with the faucet spray (which she does not tolerate).

After the bath comes the hour of combing out tangles. This is the price she must pay for looking so pretty all the time. She likes to have her hair put up, but as soon as we hit more substantial tangles with the comb, it's squirm-city.

Tonight, as I combed her tail, I noticed she was particularly wiggly. I could barely get her to hold still. Then, I noticed right around her, um, anal gland, there was something disgusting. I'm sorry to describe them to you, but they looked like smooshy, cooked rice. No wonder she wouldn't let me comb near that area. I freaked out, and yelled for J.

J took one look and proclaimed "Looks like Molly has worms."


I made J confirm the diagnosis by taking Molly down the road to our brother-in-law, the vet.

It's official. My beautiful little Shih Tzu, whom I bath religiously, has tapeworms. Apparently, if your dog must have a parasite, this is the one to have. It has the least side effects.

Tapeworms come from fleas. Fleas. We got rid of those (I think/hope/am pretty sure) weeks ago as soon as we saw one on Max. We cleaned everything and began washing the dogs with flea shampoo (which - much to my chagrin - doesn't work as well as on dog hair as Molly's regular shampoo). We've worked really hard to keep the fleas away, despite living in the middle of the woods. We haven't seen the dogs scratching in weeks. Apparently there is an incubation time for these suckers (the tapeworms), so maybe we just didn't get rid of the fleas in enough time to prevent the tapeworms.

So, tomorrow Molly begins treatment for tapeworms.

-- Next Day Update --
In my state of exhaustion when I wrote this last night, I had "ringworms" on the brain instead of "tapeworms". Sigh. I went back through and swapped the words in my entry above.


Junior High

During one of my surfing sprees, I came across a blog readability test. I was intrigued, so I submitted this blog. The results?

blog readability test

Wow. Junior High?

I'm not quite sure how to digest that information.

On one hand, I'm glad that it's easy to understand. On the other, I hated Junior High.

I have another blog, in which I publish my real identity. In this blog, I highlight cool stuff I find - music, shopping deals, etc. I also have a lot of tree-hugging environmental information. That one I keep simple, and mostly opinion-free. The results for it?

blog readability test

I'm amused. I wonder what their criteria is...


No, I'm Not in a Hurry to Get Home After a Long Day

I enjoy blog surfing. I came across a blog yesterday in which the author declared that they only blogged about positive things in their life. While I find this extremely admirable, I need a space where I can whine and moan and grumble about the things that go on in my life.

While 98% of my troubles fall pretty meaningless in the wide scheme of things, sometimes all those little things add up and become overwhelming. I find writing as a cathartic outlet for my frustration. It's certainly much better than leaving it bottled up inside until it explodes into committing capital murder or ramming something/someone with my car.

Take yesterday, for example. The little things piled up to run me over. With a paint truck.

On my way home from work, I found myself in the third vehicle behind a paint truck. No, not the friendly neighborhood paint company - a "paint the road" kind of truck.

Now, did this road painting really need to happen during rush hour on a weekday. I've been down that road early in the morning, in the middle of the day, on the weekends and later in the evenings - never seeing any sort of construction. So, my frustration level instantly raised three immediately after finding myself behind this DURING RUSH HOUR.

It may be hard to believe, but for about five minutes of crawling behind the paint truck, I was able to remain calm. Frustrated, but calm.

Then, the man in the car in front of me decided to do a 23 point turn in the middle of the road to attempt to find another route (sorry pal, but there is none without going 25 miles out of the way). During one of the many back up-pull-and-turn tries, he came within inches of ramming my Jeep. This kind of stuff makes me livid.

That, plus the desperation I began to feel of needing to move more than .3 miles per hour, sent my anger level through the roof.

My phone rang. By this time, I was in no mood to talk to anyone!

"Hey A!" my brother-in-law (and neighbor) cheerfully says. "I thought you might want to know that there's a paint truck on the highway, so you may want to find a different route."

Me: "Umm, thanks for the head's up, but I'm already stuck in the middle."
B-i-L (laughing): "I know, I know, we just saw you and thought I would rub it in a little. I tried to get you to look as we went by. Didn't you hear me blow the horn?"
Me: "No, there was too much smoke coming out of my ears to hear anything like that."
B-i-L: "Well, we're going out to eat. We'll probably pass you on the way home after we're done."

My brother-in-law, always the practical joker, thought it would be fun to exploit my stuck-in-traffic position. But, strange as it may seem, it did make me laugh.

Then I spent the next thirty minutes stuck-in-traffic figuring out a way to get him back.


Progesterone Low

Late this afternoon, I got the results from my blood test. My progesterone level is low - a whopping 6.

Last month, it was 16, which is high, but not high enough for someone on Clomid.

Could this month still be a success?

According to the nurse - "Stranger things have happened."

Yes, I'm sure stranger things happen all the time. Strange things happen to me all the time. Just not good strange things. My strange things involve personal injuries, moths and difficult people.

So, it looks like this will be yet another month of disappointment.

The Problem with Forwards

This morning my inbox greeted me with a message from my aunt. The message went on to tell me about the deadly dangers of drinking bottled water that had been left in the car overnight, and how passing this on could save lives, prevent global warming and restoring peace between Dwight & Angela (aka, "Dwangela", The Office).

Okay, so the last two were added by me, but I'm often hit with emails that have that level of absurdity.

I could go on and on and on about this topic, but I'll try to spare you with my soapbox as much as possible. The list of what I hate about email forwards is really, really long. Just a few of the highlights:

  1. Emails that tell me that I am a horrible person if I don't vote for X candidate or believe in issue Y.
  2. Emails that tell me I will have bad luck for X years if I don't pass it along to Y number of other suckers.
  3. Emails that tell me that not only do I have to forward it to Y number of other suckers, but I also have to forward it back to you for some reason
  4. Forwards that contain really, really large font. In a different color. In "Comic Sans" font.
  5. Emails that have 10 pages of header (i.e. the list of emails where it has been) before I get to the message
  6. Emails that warn me about my oncoming death or disease that have not been verified. No, wait...it doesn't matter if you have verified the email or not. I don't want to know that my water bottle will kill me.
  7. Emails that accuse peace-loving war-haters like myself of being anti-patriotic and un-Christian.
Okay, I'll stop there. That's enough for you to get my point.

I have a very good friend, whom I dearly love, that has one flaw - sending me forwards. She loves the kind that are heart-warming, anti-Democratic, pro-Iraq war.

Now, I am politically open-minded. I don't strictly align myself with one party verses another. I vote strictly based on issue and character. I'm actually registered as a Democrat so I can vote in the primaries.

So, when the primaries came around for my state, I began getting a slew of emails from her about how the democrats had terrorist roots, and so on. I know that she believed every email that she sent 100%. I'm sure you have seen some of those kind of emails too, so I won't bore you with all the details.

My friend is someone who takes all criticism personally, so I felt uncomfortable just telling her to STOP SENDING ME THIS CRAP. After a couple of weeks, I just could not take it anymore. I knew other people on her mailing list may not research this stuff for themselves, so she was probably influencing their vote as well as corrupting her own.

I finally came up with an idea. I sent her a message from ME disguised as a forward. I bcc'd her on this email "forward" in hopes that it would influence her to bcc me in the future emails. (Sending things outright to every email in your mailbox is another pet peeve of mine, but I've just realized that I'm going off on a tangent. Sorry.) Since I NEVER send forwards, I knew it would be enough to at least get her to read it. Here's what I wrote:

"Being an election year, there are millions of forwarded messages regarding politics and political candidates. All of us have the responsibility of doing our own research to make sure that content of those messages is actually true. The majority of allegations sent around are actually FALSE stories or situations meant to sway your vote.

Christians are especially targeted because we are so passionate about our beliefs. BEWARE of email forwards that accuse a specific candidate of being anti-Christian or even worse.

To find out if the email forward you have received is actually true, one suggestion is to visit http://www.snopes.com/. This site contains well researched reference information. It is very likely that the email you have received or one similar will be listed in this site, along with if it is true, false, partially true or undetermined. For the political section of the site, go to http://www.snopes.com/politics/politics.asp. There is a link from there for emails about Barack Obama, military, (Bill &) Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee and many more.

Remember, do not let the content of an email forward sway your vote unless you have
researched the issues well!

I'm happy to report that while my friend still sends me heartwarming fluffy forwards that I don't read, she no longer sends me anything political.

Now I guess I need to work on my aunt and her death-by-water-bottle.

-- 2:00 PM Update --

My dear, to-the-point cousin Lauren responded to our aunt's entire email list before I got the chance:

Fear not.

Email Integrity Protectors Unite!


Something in the Air

Yesterday after church, we stopped a nameless chain restaurant to grab some subs. J's mom, sister, her husband and their three boys (Super H, Farmer C and Baby G) went also. It turned out to be one of the strangest restaurant experiences I have ever had.

Super H & Farmer C sat at the table with J & I. Everyone else grabbed the table behind us.

About mid-way through our meal, I noticed that Super H's eyes looked really red and he was blinking a lot. I looked over to Farmer C, and his eyes were doing the same thing. When I turned around to ask the other part of our group if they noticed anything, I realized that I was blinking a lot too!

Within the next few moments, all of us began to feel our eyes burning intensely. Running to the restroom and splashing cold water gave temporary relief, but the burning returned as soon as we got back to the dining area.

We couldn't figure out the source of the burning, but we quickly packed up and got out of there.



Moth Attack!

The other day, I read a blog post from The Petersons Go Public (Shout out to all the SITS gals!) that really made me smile. Jennifer talks of her encounters with various members of the insect family. As someone who has made her home in the middle of Insect Mania, I could completely relate.

She devotes a good portion of the post to her fear of moths. While I relate to her points about moths being totally creepy, I actually thought to myself while reading - "Moths are not too bad."

I should have learned by now that I should never make these sort of generic statements. They invite disaster. But, I haven't.

We have lots of moths hanging around the lights on our front porch. Occasionally one will sneak in an open door, and I humanely chase it down and lead it back outside.

Moths are in a category I refer to as "personal space violators". They have no sense of personal boundary and often come in to close to me. Unlike most insects in this category, I make an extra effort to treat them humanely. This is out of respect to their butterfly cousins, which I am quite fond of. But, things change.

Tonight, while washing my face in the bathroom before bed, a moth took a nose dive from the vanity lights above and went straight for my eyes.

Let me add here that my vision is pretty poor unassisted, especially my depth perception, so I found myself in a state of complete vulnerability.

The moth landed on my nose between my eyes.

I shrieked and fled the scene with my face dripping wet. "Get it, get it, GET IT!" I yelled to J. I wanted this violator out of my house, humanely or not.

Spaghetti Night Update

So, I made my special sauce, but I left out a key ingredient. Olive oil. I thought it tasted a little funny.

Sometimes I am so absent-minded that it scares me.

On the bright side, when I make the sauce, I make a large quantity of it, so the rest of it is salvagable. Sigh.


Spaghetti Night

Tonight I am making spaghetti for dinner. When I get home, I will boil two different types of noodles and create two different sauces. Am I cooking for a get-together of some sort?

No, just for my husband & I. We have become really picky about our spaghetti.

For years, I purchased the same brand of noodles and the same sauce. For spaghetti night, I simply added meat - then Voilà! A quick & easy supper.

Last year, I decided to buy more organically. I also realized that we needed to incorporate more fiber in our diet. So, instead of buying our safe and reliable pasta, I bought organic whole grain pasta instead. I couldn't find an organic sauce that I really liked, so I made one from scratch.

I chopped up Roma tomatoes, and poured on organic extra virgin olive oil. I cut up parsley from a plant that I bought, and added fresh garlic, etc. as well.

I proudly presented my new and improved Spaghetti Night dish to my husband. He complimented me on the delightful aroma coming from our kitchen.

As we sat down for dinner, I (the picky, never-try-anything-new-to-eat-one) timidly tasted my spaghetti. And, I loved it. It was easily the best spaghetti I had ever eaten in my life. It was even better than the spaghetti from our favorite Italian restaurants.

J, on the other hand, took a few bites and decided it "needs a little something extra." To my horror, he went to the refrigerator and got out the ketchup. KETCHUP. He added ketchup to my bistro-quality pasta dish. Apparently, he likes spaghetti sauce extra thick, and ketchup was the perfect addition.

J knew it bothered me, but I kept my disgust and devastation to myself. Instead, I silently vowed that he would never get to ruin eat my special sauce again. From then on, I would make two sauces - the canned for him and the homemade for me.

The next Spaghetti Night, I made the canned sauce for him according to plan. After we finished eating, he nervously said to me, "Can we buy the regular kind of noodles next time? I just don't like these as well."


Instead of throwing a tantrum (like I wanted to do), I bought him his old faithful regular kind. But, I bought more high fiber noodles too. I wasn't about to let him take me down from my healthier diet high.

So, that's the Spaghetti Night became so complicated.


Black & Blue

This morning I had to go have my progesterone checked.

This afternoon I am sporting a nasty black, purple and blue bruise on my arm. See my interpretation of said bruise on the left.

I've mentioned before that I am not good at bloodwork. Lately, I have had it so many times that I thought I was getting better. The last few times, the nurses have simply had me make a fist and then prick! A moment of discomfort, and then it's all over. But today, this nurse tied a thing around my arm and squeezed it so hard that I began to visualize my arm just falling off.

Then, I panicked.

I do the same thing with blood pressure machines. I began to visualize the machine squeezing the circulation out of my arm. I start to feel desperate to get away.

There was no getting away this time. A needle in which I was terrified of was attached to a very uncomfortable location in my arm.

My arm began to show bruising - enough that the nurse became panicky as well. She removed the needle, barely getting enough blood needed for the test.

When she removed the needle and assured me that it was safe to look over toward her/where the needle was again, I noticed something crawling on her desk.

A SPIDER!!! EEeek!!!

I began to desperately scout out all my escape points.

Luckily, the nurse (who, by the way, also jumped from the sight of the spider) grabbed something and squashed it.

I could not get out of that office fast enough.


Stare at the Previous Post

I recreated the Target Bull's Eye logo for the previous post. Now I'm seeing it everywhere - literally. Stare at it for a second, then look at a white wall, or even at another place on your monitor.

Maybe this is another reason for Target's success? ;-)

Target Love

When I tell people I moved to Ruralopia - a place they have never heard of - they ask me how I like living in the middle of no-where.

I try to keep my answer positive (really, I do). Most of the time I love it. But I will confess here: there are two things that are horrible about it.

1) Ruralopia has many more bugs - especially ticks - than any place I have ever been in my life.

2) I miss my Target.

I had completely forgotten what it was like to live in a world without Target. Until the late 1990s, I had never even heard of Target. What a dark, dark time - and I didn't even know it. I was completely satisfied with the only "supercenters" around being Wal-Mart. What can I say? I was misled.

After I moved to a city, there were Targets everywhere. And they were CLEAN! Stuff wasn't strewn all over the aisles. There were a whole line of checkout counters (instead of 3). There was no ABC gum on my buggy. No one chased me with smiley-face stickers. Design was important in everything from home decor to clothes.

6 months ago, I was living almost next-door to a Super Target. Oh, the joy.

Now, the nearest Target is 40 miles away. 40 MILES. I went from a near-daily trip to not being in a Target for 3 months. 3 MONTHS.

Back on July 4th, J asked if I would like to drive up to Carabba's for dinner. Knowing this was in the same shopping center as the Super Target - I jumped at the chance.

Walking in the doors felt like coming home. I almost cried.

An hour of time and $200 less, we walked out of the store completely & totally satisfied.

Oh Target, please come closer to my hometown!


Don't Mess With My Soap

After a long, hard day at the office, then coming home and finishing up a list of household chores, I finally sat down with my dogs to relax and enjoy my escape to Soap Land.

Soaps are ridiculus and totally, completely fake. I know. My husband loves to remind me of this anytime that he'd rather watch the absolutely 100% real drama of "Ice Road Truckers" or some other show like that. But, as usual, I digress.

Back to my Soaps.

I DVR "One Life to Live" & "General Hospital" every day. I don't have time to watch them every day, so tonight - getting to see the shows on the date they aired - was a rare blessing.

I hit the "Play" ready to leave my troubles behind for the completely fake world in Llanview, when to my horror - the newscaster came on. They would be bringing me "live" to the funeral service of my state's most infamous politician.

I'll pause again here to acknowledge that with the above statement and perhaps with statements to follow, I just provided a pretty big clue to break my semi-anonymousness. I'm trusting you, Internet, to refrain from exploiting this little tidbit of information to reveal my location and connect to my friends & family which I try to protect from my random commentary.

I tried to remain calm and take advantage of the FF button. I FF'd on and on and on. I saw a line of speakers standing in front of a large group of people in choir robes and periodic flashes of the audience. Not even a commercial. Then, much to my dismay the "Would you like to delete this show?" message appeared. Oh, no.

I moved on to "General Hospital". SAME THING.

There would be no soaps today.

Thank goodness for SOAPNet.

The 100th (A Personal Milestone)


Back to Work

The day I've been dreading since last week finally came today. I had to go back to work. That extra day of holiday really makes coming back in the office a tough thing to do.

I got up and got ready. I stopped in for breakfast as an "I'm sorry you have to go back to work" gift to myself. I was determined to make it a good day, despite being pinned up in the office.

Didn't work.

As soon as I got in the door, I was greeted with another round of SQL injection attacks. Darn you hackers!!! It's my job to co-ordinate the team to get our applications back in working order.

I realized shortly after getting in that I left my iPod charging it home. Sigh.

It was going to be a long day.

In an important meeting this morning, I marked all over my light-colored trousers with my pen. Dang it. I knew better than to wear light colors. On a Monday, too. If that's not a sign you should go home, I don't know what is.

We ordered in for pizza because we knew the team would be swamped, so I never got to leave the office for the much-needed hour-away-for-lunch.

When the clock finally, slowly turned to my "outta here" time, I jumped up for joy. Maybe it will be better tomorrow. Maybe...


Joining the Choir

Last Sunday, J & I joined the church we have been attending for a while now. It's the same church that most of his family attends. Now that we are members, I decided it's time to join the choir.

I've been in some choir or another most of my life. Music is second nature to me. I play the piano (and kind-of play the guitar), and I love to sing.

Tonight was my first practice. It's definitely advantageous that I can read music. I caught up to speed pretty quickly.

After the practice, the director asked the choir to sit up in the loft for the evening service, which the choir normally does not do Sunday nights. We helped the congregation with a few new songs that the director is trying to teach.

The choir gets to go sit in the congregation after their part is finished. It was really nice to walk back to my seat and see my family grinning at me.


My Dogs & Thunderstorms Do Not Mix

This afternoon, we had a series of loud, intense thunderstorms.

When Molly gets scared, she comes and finds me. My independent, lazy carefree dog, becomes a total lap dog. (When she's not trying to climb on top of my head, that is.) She will follow me everywhere in the house that I go, which normally she is too lazy to won't do. Loud noises usually scare her, and thunder is no exception.

Max is normally quite a bit braver when it comes to storms. He's afraid of people, not noises.

But this afternoon, both dogs were terrified and climbing all over each other to get into my lap. By the time the wind ceased and the thunder moved into the distance, both of them were exhausted from getting so worked up.

On a storm-related note, our power went out for several hours, but thankfully it came back on not too long ago. I don't function so well these days without air condition! The wind took down several trees down the road from us, and the rain caused the creek to come up over our driveway. This means we will yet again have to haul gravel in.


It's a Parade!

This afternoon, my new hometown of Ruralopia (name changed for privacy) held an annual Independence Day parade. Since my nephew, Super H, got to be on one of the floats, J & I decided to attend. Monkey T, Meltdown & their parents came along too.

We arrived early so that we could get a good spot in the boiling sun. By the time the parade started, we were all ready to go home to gather around the air-condition and sing "Kumbaya".

Shortly after the parade began, I quickly realized why Monkey T was so excited to come see her cousin in a parade. Just about every float held people throwing candy. We had chosen an excellent spot (with no other kids immediately around us), so she hit a goldmine. Having her two-year-old super-cute sister (Meltdown) out there waving back at all the people probably doubled her candy intake.

Ruralopia organized their parade in sections. We had one band followed by a multitude of firetrucks and other emergency vehicles. There had to be at least a hundred - one from each neighboring town in a 100-mile radius - each with siren blazing. I think Meltdown may experience permanent hearing loss. She covered her ears and just cried until they were over (and she could resume getting candy siren-free).

After emergency personnel, there were a few floats, including the one with my nephew. Of course, he was the cutest kid in the whole parade.

Old cars and tractors followed the floats.

Horses came last. I am so, so glad they were last. Much to my horror, one of the horses decided to relieve his (or her) digestive system right in front of us. And there was a lot. Oh, the smell.

Patriotism or not - we couldn't leave fast enough.



Early Morning Sonogram

This morning I got up early to make a 7:45AM appt with Dr. F for another sonogram to check the effectiveness of Letrozole.

We found several follicles present on both ovaries!

Last month (on the Clomid), only one ovary (the right one) was active. Also, while discussing the disappointment of last month, he said that while my progesterone level was high for a normal cycle, the Clomid should actually have made it higher. This was one of the primary factors in making the decision to switch to the Letrozole.

I go back next week for another blood test to measure my progesterone level for this cycle.


The Horse

Since I have been so somber the last couple of days, I thought it was time to change the mood a bit.

There's a story that my dad enjoys telling that cracks me up every time I hear it. To get the full picture, you should know that my dad is a quiet kind of guy.

"When I was a teenager, I used to enjoy riding horses. One summer, a friend and I decided to go on a horseback riding out west. When we arrived, I lowered myself into the saddle and grasped the reins. Once the horse began to move, I began to relax and feel the breeze as the horse trotted along at a fairly quick pace.

"Suddenly, the horse bucked, and I lost my balance. I began to slide off the saddle and I couldn't get the horse to stop. I couldn't hold on any longer and fell off, but my foot became tangled in the stirrup.

"As I lay on my back at the mercy of the horse, I saw my life flash before my eyes. I just knew this was the end. Then, miracle of miracles - the drugstore employee came out and pulled the plug on the merry-go-round!"

Cheesy, I know. But it really is hilarious. When he tells this, his poker face comes out, and you never see the end coming.


Alzheimer's Part Two

Yesterday, I shared with you the story of my maternal grandparents and their descent into the depths of Alzheimer's disease. Un fortunately, my exposure to Alzheimer's does not end there. Today I would like to share about my paternal grandparents.

My grandparents have a beautiful love story à la Nicholas Spark's The Notebook. They fell in love at a young age, and married in secret. Fifty years later, they still held hands while walking down the street.

My grandmother was always a fierce champion for the entire family. If you had a problem with another person, even if you were in the wrong, she had your back. She was a pillar of strength to all her family, friends and even the entire community.

My grandfather is quite a character. He could talk to anyone about anything. He would be able to talk his way out of any situation that he might find himself in. (These situations usually involved being pulled for speeding.) He loves a good joke, and he loves to entertain.

During my freshman year of college, my grandmother went to the doctor complaining of numbness in her arms. Other than this numbness, she was in perfect health for heAr age. The doctor immediately sent her to the hospital where she had quadruple by-pass surgery. She did not have a heart attack, but she had been very, very close to one that would have ended her life.

Soon after the surgery, as the attendants were rolling her bed back to her room and explaining to her that she had just had by-pass surgery, she experienced a seizure-like episode. After a few moments, she recovered. Several of my family members witnessed this incident, and voiced their concern to the doctors and nurses at the hospital. They assured my family that she just went into shock. We knew it was more than that.

My grandmother was never quite the same in the months to come. She became forgetful and increasingly dependent on my grandfather. He found himself doing things, such as cooking, around the house that he never had to do before. He quietly assumed this role, and kept his concerns about my grandmother's mental state to himself.

After a couple of years, my grandfather could no longer hide the problems that my grandmother was having. She would have outbursts of frustration in public, and her conversation began to reflect that she was no longer herself. My family convinced my grandfather to let the doctor examine her, and sure enough - she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Even though we all tried to step further into the situation, my grandfather insisted that he could take care of her.

"She took care of me for years," he would say. "And now it's my turn." He was truly a shining example of "for better or worse."

A couple of years ago, my grandfather had to have surgery. During his hospital stay, my grandmother stayed with my aunt. None of us had realized how deep into Alzheimer's my grandmother was suffering. She tried to wander away from the house. She threw fits and became confused as to where she was.

The time had come where my grandfather needed to care for himself, and could no longer care for my grandmother 24x7. The family gathered together in his hospital room along with several trusted doctors. We broke the news to him with many tears that my grandmother needed to go to the nursing home.

My family learned from the experience that we went through with my maternal grandparents. We knew the proper steps to take to salvage what my grandparents had left (as far as their possessions).

After my grandfather recovered from his surgery, he worked a full time job, and went to visit my grandmother twice a day. He would stay with her until late at night when she would go to sleep, and then come home and pay bills. The stress was too much, but we could not convince him to take better care of himself. As a result, we are losing him too. Not even a year after my grandmother entered the nursing home, my grandfather had a series of strokes that resulted in his own diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Now my grandparents share a room together at the nursing home. It's a much nicer facility than the one that my maternal grandmother is in. My grandfather started there in fairly good health, with only a few mental episodes of confusion. He even helped the staff with the other patients, and chores such as gardening.

My grandmother's condition has stabilized. She seems to recognize us, and some of what she says makes perfect sense. She still relies on my grandfather a lot, and she likes having him with her all the time. She stays pretty happy.

My grandfather slowly deteriorates every day. His case has been the hardest for me, I think, because of the type of person that he used to be. He stores a lot more anger than he has ever shown before, and some of his episodes have been difficult to handle.

Okay, well, that's about all I can say right now. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, my best advice to you is to do the research. There is a lot of information out on the internet about this terrible, horrible disease. Wikipedia and the Alzheimer's Association are great places to start.