12.29.2009

Finding Boots


I have a problem. I love boots. Boots do not love me. In fact, they hate my guts.

I was born with an assortment of bone spurs. My entire life, I have been extremely self conscious about the appearance of my legs. I have several around my knee area. The average person probably does not even notice, but it has always been a sore point for me.

When I was in the 6th grade, a boy in my gym class and I were talking. I told him that I could not bend my leg over a certain angle. He told me that he had never noticed and that my knees looked fine - only a little knobby when you stared at them long enough. I swear I would have married him right then and there.

After many years, I have grown to accept my knees. My calves, however, are a different story. I have spurs on both legs right in the center of the calves. These suckers cannot be seen outwardly, but they are horribly problematic when zipping up boots.

I cannot zip up regular boots. They simply will not close, and since it's my bone there is no chance of smooshing.

Several years ago, I happened upon some boots in a Bass outlet store. These boots were not high heeled, but they were made of a stretchy leather material with no zippers. I had to buy a size larger than I would normally wear, but I snatched them up immediately. Oh how I loved those boots.

Fast forward a couple of years, and the boots were absolutely worn out. The ends were scuffed and the shaft had teeth marks from my dog ransacking my closet.

It took me months of searching store after store and trying on hundreds of boots before I found a replacement pair. (Wouldn't you know that Bass did not make that style anymore!) The replacement boots and I have never quite hit it off. They are wide-calf boots and they will zip up, but I do not like how they are made. The leather is so hard that the dents that boots naturally develop dig into my ankles when I walk. I've had them about two years now and the problems are getting worse instead of better.

So, I find myself in need of new, comfortable boots that I cannot afford to pay a fortune for. Because of my situation, I really need to try them on, so I am not really comfortable ordering them online.

Today was the first attempt. I tried on a few at a massive shoe warehouse during my lunch break, but left with only a heavy heart.

O Beautiful-Boots-That-I-Can-Actually-Wear, where are you?

12.28.2009

Crashing Disney Princesses

For Christmas, my parents gave Grace this ride-on toy, complete with lots of bells and whistles (and dancing Disney Princesses):

For Grace's age, the back can convert to a "handle" that goes all the way around and sticks straight out the back for ease-of-pushing. Genius.

Grace loves this thing. She's in a clingy stage now and this is perfect for that. I can push her all around the house so that she is right with me wherever I go.

Yesterday we discovered it has a downfall.

J & I had been taking turns pushing her around. While she was stopped, she started trying to crawl over the handlebar to get out and it turned over on her. She was right behind J, but he could not catch her.

She fell face-first on our hardwood floor.

I cannot even describe for you the tears (mine and hers) and the screaming (hers) that followed.

She now has a "goose egg" right in the center of her forehead.

Five minutes later, she crawled right back to it for another round. I, however, have not recovered yet.

12.18.2009

You Looking at Me?

This morning, I awoke to Grace stirring. I clicked the view on the monitor to see what she was up to.

We have one of those monitors with a camera that lets you see your precious little bundle of joy on a handheld device. I got it from the company that I worked for previously. One of the few benefits from the time I was there. But I digress.

Being VERY early in the morning, the monitor was still in nighttime vision mode - everything is in black, white and grey. I saw a white blur. I moved the directional buttons to try to find her in the crib. I begin panicking. Then, suddenly, I saw movement. The white blur began to move further away and take form. I had been looking at Grace's cheek.

She was standing right up against the camera.

As she continued to move her head around, I saw an eye. She continued backing up until I could see her whole beautiful face.

Then, I saw a hand approach slowly, with hesitation, until it was all I could see.

She had grabbed the camera.

I began to hear all kinds of noises as she discovered that she could move the camera. My view on the monitor screen began to spin wildly - Blair Witch style.

This continued for a while, until it occurred to me that she is now completely capable of breaking things. Including cameras that I really don't want to have to replace.

I went into her room to find one very happy baby with a tight grip on the camera. And a heart-melting smile.

12.07.2009

The MiL and the Noodles

Today the MiL took Grace shopping with her to the nearest city with a mall.

The MiL bought all her Christmas gifts for this year last year right after Christmas. She spent the whole year bragging about how her shopping was already done. So, now that crunch time quickly approaches, she realized that about 5 of her gifts were missing.

"Hahaha!" I say to her quietly, under my breath. "Serves you right for bragging about it."

So anyway, she decided to go replace the missing gifts today. My sister-in-law and one of her sons went with her and they made a day of it.

When lunch approached, they decided to stop and eat at a pizza buffet. She realized that she had left Grace's solid food at home. So, instead of just giving her formula, she grabbed some noodles off the bar and gave them to her.

Grace ate noodles and loved them.

"So, what's the big deal?", you may ask. She's old enough and she enjoyed them, right?
The big deal is that I was not there. I send Grace's food with her every day. I control her diet. I have never given permission for any "grown-up" food. And most importantly - Grace had never had anything like that before and I, who carried her in my womb, come running when she cries, rock her to sleep every night, take care of her every need and love her with my complete heart, deserved to be the one to feed her something so wonderful for the first time.

I'm heartbroken. Over noodles.

12.06.2009

A Tough Two Weeks

Dear Grace,

It has been a miserable two weeks for you and I. You have had an ear infection in both ears. This is the first time that you have truly been sick in your young life. I have wished every moment that I could take away everything that hurts you and bothers you. You are restless and you cannot get comfortable. You do not want your milk or your toys. You especially do not want to lie down and rest.

The doctor prescribed Amoxicillin and breathing treatments. You like the medicine (we have convinced you that it tastes wonderful), but you hate the breathing treatments. You squirm and start SCREAMING when we bring the mask near your face. I really cannot say that I blame you, but it is pitiful to watch. Your Dad is usually the brave one that does the treatments, because I cannot bear to cause you such agony - even though it is only to make you feel better in the end.

You are at a fun stage right now in your mobility development. You can sit up now, which has opened a whole new world for you. Before, when you ended up on your belly, you would lay there and cry - thrashing your arms for added dramatic effect. Now, you can simply sit up. Each time you sit up, you look around to make sure someone is watching you. You love applause, and you get a lot of it!

The down-side to your movement is that I can no longer trust you to your handy gym. Before, you could lay there for a long amount of time, kicking and swatting at the various toys dangling before you. Now, you roll. Somehow you never end up where I put you down!

You no longer allow us to change your diaper. As soon as the old diaper comes off, you start rolling. This has caused quite a few disasters. Your favorite thing to do while having your diaper changed is to reach into the supply basket above your head. You seem to do this at the most inconvenient, messiest times. Your dad and I have to tell you "No". You stop what you are doing, look at us and then resume rolling up to get into the basket. We have not figured out a good solution for this one yet.

You love the Christmas tree. We have lots of ornaments that *do* stuff and you are amazed. Your favorite seems to be one that plays "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". (BTW - If you really do want one, just tell Nana and Papa. I'm sure that they would go buy one for you.) You like shiny, sparkly things (just like me!).

The worst part about your being sick, is that I have been sick too. Really, really sick. It is so hard to care for you when I can barely stand up myself. You don't understand why Mommy takes so long to get your bottle. My coughing scares you sometimes and that breaks my heart! Your Dad tries to step up sometimes with your regular care, but somehow you end up with me again. Thank goodness I am getting better too.

We are working on our Christmas shopping. I love to take you shopping. You love to look at all the stuff. You are the star everywhere that we go. People stop us all the time and try to touch you. (Don't worry - I keep lots of hand sanitizer around for us.)

You Christmas pictures came back and our Christmas cards are printed and in the mail. Of course, you are the cutest, most beautiful baby EVER.

Love forever,
Mama

11.30.2009

Cough, Cough, Cough, Cough, Cough

This is about the only sound that comes from my lips these days. For two straight weeks.

Cough, cough, cough.

Boy, is it hard to take care of a ten-month old when you are sick! Grace, of course, doesn't understand why Mommy cannot make it to the kitchen to get her bottle because she is doubled over coughing to death.

I am so paranoid about Grace getting sick that as soon as I knew it was more than just a little cold, I ran to the doctor with my white flag waving. I had a fever at night for almost a week at that point.

Please help me get rid of this so I do not spread it to my precious ten-month old.

The PA did not even listen to my breathing. (And of course I didn't even notice until I had been sent out the door). Even though I tested negative for strep throat, she treated me for it anyway. In and out.

Today, a round of useless medicine later, I ended up back at the doctor. This time, I requested to see someone different. Apparently I have a pretty nasty case of bronchitis. As an added bonus, I may have to get a chest x-ray to rule out damage (that could have been caught if I had been diagnosed last week). PLUS, my weary and weakened immune system left me with a nasty rash. ON MY FACE. Good times.

On the bright side of life, Grace is TEN MONTHS OLD today. My own beautiful little ray of sunshine!

11.26.2009

Happy, Happy Day



Welcome to my lemon-y world! I am so excited about being chosen for my very own SITS Day!

For those of you that haven't heard of SITS - it is a wonderful group of ladies who blog that support each other by visiting and commenting. I've met many fabulous people through this group and I am honored to be a member!

For my fellow SITStas, have a look around and make yourselves comfortable!

This is the best part of my life:


My daughter, Grace

I am happily married to J, my husband of 9 years. We both work full time out of our home (although different employers) in the world of computers and internet. He's a techie and I'm a designer/project manager.

Grace is almost 10 months old. She is a blessing to me every day. My husband & I tried for 7 1/2 years to have a baby, and Grace is our answer to many years of prayer and waiting. Infertility is an extremely difficult problem to face.

Our journey is chronicled here.

You can find out more about me here, and a guide to the various characters in my life here. I write about my life, the lemons that get thrown at me and my pursuit to make them into lemonade.

Three Random Posts:
1 - I'm infamous with friends and family for my luck and the silly things that happen to me because of it. This is an example of my luck:
New Cars & OCD

2 - I live out in the middle of the woods, in the middle of no-where. As you might imagine, this brings its own challenges. Here's one about the sort of creatures that we have to deal with because of our location:
Unwelcome Visitor

3 - Two months before my due date, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and my daughter had to be born. Here is the story of her birth:
31 Weeks, 5 Days (There are several posts to the story - that one is just the main event!)

So, happy reading! I cannot wait to hear back from you! I will try to return any comments as soon as I can!

To You and Your Family...


May you find many, many blessings in your life to be thankful for!

11.24.2009

The Best Breakfast Delivery Person Ever

I'm such a lucky mommmy. Look who brought me breakfast today!

11.23.2009

Pumpkins

On Saturday, our dear friends (Hi Kim!) came up for my jewelry party. Kim has two beautiful children and Grace was thrilled to watch them play! Logan pushed her in her jeep - which means he has a friend for life.

For Halloween, I crocheted Grace a couple of amigurumi pumpkins which she tosses everywhere. Kim mentioned to me at some point during the day Saturday that a pumpkin was missing. I knew it would turn up, so I did not even give it a second thought.

This morning, I found it...



Right in the pantry, with the fruits and vegetables, where a pumpkin belongs!

11.11.2009

Driving Late at Night Through the Woods in the Pouring Rain with Two Dogs

Due to potential flooding in my area and our driveway's affinity for flooding, we decided to not take any risks of being stranded and spend the remainder of the night at the MiL's.

My job was to pack up all our stuff, grab the dogs and meet J and Grace over there.

Molly will ONLY ride on my lap in the car. If I'm driving, she doesn't care. I can put her in the backseat and POOF...next thing I know she is in my lap.

Max is a much more easy-going rider. He likes to chill in the seat, watching outside the window. Or at least I thought so. Apparently the darkness changes his disposition.

Back to last night.

I put the dogs in the car and as I was lowering myself into the driver's seat, Molly was already in my lap.

We began to creep along down the driveway. Suddenly, a rabbit crossed in front of us. In that EXACT moment, Max jumped into my lap.

Let me take a second to fully describe this picture. Max & Molly are small dogs, but BOTH dogs in my lap is a bit crowded. When you consider that there is a steering wheel involved, well, we are not talking about a lot of free space. Okay.

So when Max jumped on my lap, he ran into the steering wheel. And the horn.

To an outsider looking at the situation, my dog beeped the horn at the rabbit who dared to jump out in front of our car as we were driving late at night through the woods in the rain. Genius. I may enroll him in driver's ed today.

10.30.2009

9 Months


My Little Butterfly turned 9 months old today!

10.19.2009

Molly Goes to The Vet

Today I took Molly to my brother-in-law, The Vet to have a mysterious Thing removed from her tail.

Don't worry, I don't intend to gross you out with descriptions or photographs.

I held her while he numbed her tail and began to work. However, her constant squirming was more than I could handle. So, he called over one of his college interns.

"Hey Amber, I need an extra pair of hands over here. Be careful, now, she has bitten off the fingers of two people already."

She looked alarmed, but bravely helped me hold my dog.

Here is a photo of the ferociousness, taken after we got home:


We believe the mysterious Thing was a cyst. She now sits at my feet, milking her injury (stitch included) for all its worth.

9.30.2009

8 Months

Dear Grace,

Today you turned 8 MONTHS OLD. Somehow, when I was not looking, my precious little peanut turned into a beautiful 16 pound, 6 ounce, 26 inch long baby girl!

Today you are running a fever. It is the first time you have been sick. Your little cheeks are bright pink and your entire head is hot to the touch. We took you to the doctor's office for them to tell us that you have a viral infection. Every three hours we have to give you medicine.

I am amazed at how much you have grown in the last eight months. You can now sit up on your own. You have developed your own language of "ah", "ews", "ga", etc. I am really working hard on "Ma-ma" with you. One of these days, you will say it. And I will pass out.

Most nights you sleep through the night. But, you wiggle constantly. I come in your room in the morning to find your head in the top left corner of the bed. That is not where I left you!

Most mornings you have found your way out of the cover and your foot is in your mouth. Lately, your feet amuse you to no end. One day you discovered you could reach your toes with your hands. To you, this was the most wonderful thing EVER. Your hands would pull and pull on your toes and your heels. Then, shortly there after, you found your foot could reach your mouth. And OH THE MIRACLE. I put your socks and shoes on, and one by one, you remove them so that you can get your toes in your mouth.

We expect teeth from you at any moment. Some days your gums bother you and you give me this look, like "What is going on here and why aren't you stopping it?" Then you go right back to being the world's cutest baby.

I love to see strangers stare at you. The sight of you can put a smile on even the most serious of faces. Most people stop me, wherever we are, to tell me how beautiful you are. Occasionally one will say "he". It does not matter how much pink/purple you wear, some people see your little peach fuzz and assume BOY. I'm sorry. This is my fault. I did not have hear until I was, like, 3. I have a feeling that you will have a similar experience.

You love to watch the dogs. You grab everything in sight that you can reach, and Molly's hair is included. Unlike when I pull her hair during her combing, she LETS you. Guess what one of your first chores will be?

Every day with you is an incredible experience. You are learning so quickly, and I am constantly in awe of the wonder of which you see the world.

I love you very, very much.

Love forever,

Mama

9.28.2009

Sunning

When I took the dogs out this afternoon, they took off from the porch excitedly. They love going outside because they can run. FREE AS THE WIND. (Okay, on extend-able leashes. But they do love to run outside. It's the closest thing to freedom I will allow.)

But, at the bottom of the steps they stopped.

From where I was standing, I saw Max jump about 3 feet in the air.

I ran down to see what had startled him. There, in the pebbled walkway at the bottom of our stairs was a common black snake. Apparently he/she did not appreciate being disturbed and in turn had coiled itself into attack pose.

When it saw me, it quickly retreated.

Max turned and ran back inside. So much for freedom.

Note: I did not have my camera phone on me when this happened, so I did not get to take a picture of our visitor. The photo on the left was found here in my quest to find a photo of a common black snake.

9.16.2009

More Fun With Nature

A while back, I began trying to walk each day for exercise. After several weeks of vigilant determination, continuous encounters with nature (e.g. deer flies - which are just MEAN) forced my exercise plan to a halt.

Since I have lived in the woods, I have been attacked by dreaded deer flies, fire ants, mosquitoes, horse flies, gnats, ticks, ladybugs (bet you didn't realize that they are MEAN too), wasps, yellow jackets and Japanese beetles. Until today, these attacks have all been by insects that I don't really like anyway.

The deer flies seem to have dispersed for the season, so I decided that it was safe to walk outdoors again. So, J & I packed up Grace and went for a walk.

On the way back in the door, I stopped to water all of my plants. Suddenly I heard something that sounded like a jet heading straight for my head.

Of course, I jumped.

I turned my head to see a hummingbird. Yes, that's right folks, a hummingbird. Headed STRAIGHT for my HEAD.

Wonders never cease.

Now, unlike the aforementioned insects, I do not believe that Mr. Hummingbird had evil intentions. I was simply in his way. But, WOW did that make noise!

Nature. Sigh.

9.15.2009

Evil

In 4th grade, I swooned for the first time. I met a new boy in my school. He was from California and had the stereotypical beautiful light blond hair and big blue eyes. He was the first boy that I ever met with an earring. He was cute and charming. To all the girls in my class (in a small town), he was the coolest boy to walk through the schoolyard.

After I got over my swooning of that first year, we became friends. He was fun to talk to and laugh with.

We shared many classes together over the years. I was sad when he moved away, then pleased when he moved back. I knew him well. Or at least that is what I thought.

After graduation, he joined the armed forces. We lost touch.

I heard that he had gotten into a little trouble. I thought it was probably something minor (btw - it turned out that he had fled from the army). So, when we met again over facebook earlier this year, I did not even give the decision to add him as a friend a second thought. He lives across the country and he seemed to be getting his life on track again.

Today, I found out that the boy I knew was long gone. The man that he became is no one I knew or ever want to know. The facade I saw was just a charade. I found out that he was responsible for kidnapping, raping and strangling a 19-year-old girl to death.

It makes me literally sick to my stomach.

My head is full of thoughts - what in the world could possibly cause this man to do these inhuman things? Was it something that he saw while serving in the army that broke something inside of him? Could it have been prevented?

We are all one bad decision away from a life of devastation. I can never understand how some people make such drastic decisions - ones that will ruin a family forever.

All I can say now is that I hope that he can get the help that he desperately needs.

9.13.2009

Why We Will Not Be Eating Fast Food For A While

This morning began like every other Sunday morning. We woke up, scrambled to get ready and swung by the drive-through of a popular fast-food-chain-whose-name-I-will-not-mention for breakfast on the way to church.

Grace was engaged in her new hobby, staring at my mouth while I shoved my biscuit in it.

When we had almost reached the church, J suddenly dropped his biscuit.

Me: What happened?
J: You don't want to know.
Me: But now I have to know. It couldn't be worse than what I am imagining.
J: Are you done with your biscuit?
Me: No, but you still have to tell me. What? A hair?
J: Um, not quite.

This little guessing game went on for quite a while as I went through the most horrible things that I could think of. Finally, I finished my biscuit and J relented.

J: There is a dead fly. In the biscuit. Baked in there. Staring at me. And I just about bit into it.

Ew ew ew ew ew!!!

9.09.2009

Gimme Some

Grace has a new hobby. She likes to watch people eat and/or drink.

In the mornings, I typically feed her as I am eating my breakfast. Today, she could barely focus on her bottle because she was so busy watching me. As I drank my Propel, she reached up and placed her hand on the bottle and tipped it up further at my mouth. Of course, this dumped out a quarter of my drink onto my shirt, but because it was so cute I could not help but laugh.

This afternoon, my Dad rode in the backseat with Grace and we stopped for milkshakes. I could see Grace in the mirror staring at my Dad's milkshake the entire way home.

When we pulled in the driveway, I realized that she had fallen asleep. Staring at the milkshake.

8.30.2009

Tremors

So, now I have taken you through the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month that I had. Things are beginning to calm down, but I am not out of the woods yet.

I found a new part time job that I will be starting next week. It is a bit of a step-back career wise. I'll be back to doing development work and the pay is not great. But, being part time it will give me a chance to figure out what I want to do with my life. Plus, it will allow me time with my beautiful little baby.

It is going to be tough financially for a while, but we trust God to see us through. Prayers of friends and family have sustained us over the last few weeks.

But, I still have a heavy storm cloud over me.

The week before I went to the beach, J took my car with him down to the big city since it gets good gas mileage. On his way, a truck sent a rock spinning into my windshield. It left a huge crack in the center that was dying to spread. I had to scramble to get that fixed before we went down to the beach.

Then, on the way down to the beach, we stopped at a gas station where an idiot BACKED INTO MY CAR. I couldn't get out of his way because of pedestrians around us. I did, however, lay on my horn for a good 30 seconds. Everyone in a three mile radius heard me and looked my way. EXCEPT THAT IDIOT. I had to get a new fender.

When pondering my life these days, I have stopped saying the words "I cannot handle any more". I discovered that this is a challenge, and I do not want any part of it.

8.29.2009

Rest

By now, I am physically and emotionally exhausted. I want to sleep for a week. Maybe three.

So, I did the best thing that I could do. I went to the beach.

I love the beach. My 6-month old had never seen it. I was so excited about taking her.

My family had planned this trip for months. The timing was perfect. We all needed to get away.

J & I went down on Saturday. Grace had her first contact with the sand and the beautiful ocean. Of course, we got it all on video!

J hates the beach and he needed the hours at work, so he went back Sunday and Grace & I stayed until Wednesday. My parents and the rest of the family stayed on the rest of the week.

We had a fabulous time. Other than missing J, I did not want to come back home to reality.

8.28.2009

Lightning

Saturday, August 1. The next phone call came.

This time it was my father. My grandmother's body was shutting down. They called the family in. She had gotten really bad overnight, but had stabilized a little bit that morning. But, they knew that the stabilization would not last.

We were in the middle of getting Grace's 6 month portraits done. We were told we had a little time, so we finished up the portraits as I made frantic phone calls to various family members. Then, the MIL had us run an errand for her on our way home to pack up before I made the trip back to my hometown. But, that's aside from the story.

J did not come with me this time. He had a firefighter class and I told him not to miss it. I knew from the situation that we would be there a long time. Grace & I made the trek alone.

The day before, my grandmother may have had a stroke. One side of her body seemed paralyzed and she could not swallow her food. She was too weak for them to do any tests to verify this, but she was exhibiting classic stroke signs. She had been bedridden for some time and sometimes would not speak. So, no one could say for sure exactly what happened or simply find out from her how she was feeling. Earlier in life, she had objected to tube feeding, so we knew that was not an option. She was not going to pull through this time.

When I walked in the door of the rest home, my aunt greeted me. "She's waiting for you."

The family gathered at her bed. The nurse said that her body was shutting down, but she was fighting it hard. She was probably afraid to die. They told us to assure her.

We were there for hours. She would float in and out of consciousness. By this time I was well versed in the breaths per minute measurements. Her numbers would go up and down.

The lobby of the rest home, much like two weeks before, was the family's central gathering station. It was hard to get all of us in my grandmother's room. We ate meals there. We talked there. We completed many, many sudoku puzzles. We even played cards (this was in honor of my grandmother - she loved cards). Grace provided the entertainment again.

Night came and the staff encouraged all of us to go home. They said it would be a long night. Reluctantly, I did. I knew Grace would be more comfortable there, and that there was no more that I could do.

Early the next morning, my dad called. My grandmother was gone.

Two weeks from the day my grandfather passed.

Their perfect love story ended that way. She wouldn't go on without him. After 68 years of marriage, we should have expected it would happen that way. We will never know for sure if she realized what was going on when he died. She was in the room when that happened, but they pulled curtains around her bed so she would not see his body. I am sure in my heart that she knew.

I found out later that my grandmother would worsen after everyone left. The staff called her children back, and then she would stabilize. Then when they left her room, she declined again. She fought until the very end. She did not want her family to see her take her last breath.

We made arrangements identical to my grandfather's. Same locations. Same flowers. Same album surfing for photos for her slideshow. Same trips back and forth for a week. Same family dinners. Same memory-sharing sessions. Same pastor with a comforting message. Same cousin with a eulogy. Same aunt with a song.

I lost it walking from the church to the cemetery. The ground was still raw from my grandfather's burial. Again, my sunglasses hid my tears.

I prayed a lot that week. I begged and pleaded with God to keep my loved ones safe. I cannot go to any more funerals for a while.

8.27.2009

Thunder

In the days that followed, I spent so many tears that I could not cry anymore. This led to a migraine. After a week straight of suffering I awoke early one morning to dizziness and nausea. Even while I was lying down. So, J took me to the ER.

It was probably the worst ER experience that I have had. Waiting to be called back. Waiting for the doctor. Waiting for the shot. Waiting for the nurse to come back and check on me. Waiting for the doctor to come and release me. Waiting for the wheelchair to wheel me out. Waiting for administration to go over paperwork. I couldn't sit still and I was crawling all over the hospital bed the entire time I was there. I had just wanted to get my shot and go home.

The doctor said I needed to see a neurologist.

I have had migraines forever, but I have never seen a specialist. My family doctors have the CT Scan, put me on Imitrex, etc. But, I have never been willing to take it further. Now, with my daughter, everything is different. I cannot afford to be immobilized. I agreed to the neurologist.

I informed my work that I would have to have some tests run.

Three days later, my manager's manager set up a call for the end of the day with himself, my manager & I. I didn't have the first clue what it was about, but I wasn't even nervous. I should have been.

I was fired.

"Budgetary reasons" he said. I really don't believe that.

When I first started this job I worked 9 days. Then I was admitted to the hospital with pre-eclampsia and the premature birth of my daughter followed. Then, I was out for 8 weeks. While the company itself was pretty understanding, I knew that my manager was bitter. I never even stood a chance with him. He spent the rest of my time with the company making my job difficult.

I knew he was threatened by me because of the close relationship that I developed with our clients. I thought that the constant positive feedback they sent his way about me would overcome that. I was wrong.

I really do believe that my telling him I would need to have some time off for doctor's appointments of the next few weeks was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I can't prove that - that's just what my gut tells me.

Am I bitter? Probably. I'm not sorry to lose the job. I'm sorry that I have to look for another job again. But, I had been thinking about jumping ship for a while. I just wished it could have happened on my terms. And, that I would have seen it coming.

8.26.2009

Rain

It began on a Sunday morning during church - July 19. A cell phone began to vibrate during the sermon. I saw the people around me began to twist and turn, each checking their own phones. I knew immediately that it was mine. I began to sink into the floor.

My phone was in my purse, on the floor underneath the pew in front of me and blocked by Grace's car seat. It was just out of my reach. After an eternity, it stopped.

At this point, Grace woke up and began squirming. I grabbed all of our stuff and took her out into the Mother's Quiet Room. I had not even sat down when my phone went off again. This time it was the notification that I had a voice mail. Something told me that I needed to check it.

It was my aunt. "Pawpaw's not doing so well. They are calling the family in. You need to come"

My heart dropped.

My grandfather has suffered from Alzheimer's for the past several years. Some days, the charismatic man that I spent my whole life looking up to is a completely different person. Other days, he is the same - only a weaker version. Every day, he is miserable. Some Alzheimer's patients go into a state of happiness - get lost in happy moments of their childhood or some time in the past. They may not remember who you are, but they are still happy. My grandfather was the opposite. He became paranoid that people were out to get him - even to the point of violence. His one light in life is my grandmother, his soulmate, and some days she doesn't know him. He carries a heavy burden that none of us can help with, no matter how hard we try.

So, I thought I had made peace that this time would come. I thought I would be ready. I was wrong.

My Dad (who was staying with us for the weekend), J, Grace & I made the hour and a half drive in minutes. All of my family scrambled into place around his bed. And then, we just waited.

As his breathing grew more shallow, we talked to him. Sang his favorite hymns. Shared fond memories. Made promises to take care of my grandmother.

From my spot seated at the end of his bed, I found I could see his pulse in his neck. At times, the beat would stop. Then it would start again. I stared at his neck for hours.

Then he was gone.

I had just visited my grandparents the previous day. Pawpaw didn't have a lot to say. Because of his aggression toward the staff, he was on medication that made him drowsy and weak. He did smile at Grace & I, and before I left he kissed my cheek. I had no idea that the next day he would be gone.

The next few days were a whirlwind. I traveled back and forth to my hometown nearly every day that week. Grace came with me almost each time. I clung to her and so did the rest of the family. She was the bright spot - the entertainment - the joy.

The visitation was held in my grandparent's church fellowship hall. At first I didn't like this idea - the inside looks like a gym. But, my grandfather helped build the facility, so it was fitting. It also turned out to be a blessing. I have a hard time at funeral homes - even the smell gets to me. We saw family we never see, friends, neighbors.

There were people that should have been there, but weren't. That's another sad thing about Alzheimer's. People forget what the person was like. They forget how the person was a pillar of the community. They forget how many lives that person impacted and changed. All of that becomes overshadowed.

The funeral was rough. My uncle gave a moving eulogy. My cousin made me laugh and cry as he talked about my grandfather from the perspective of a grandchild. My aunt sang. VFW did full rites - "Taps" and gunfire included. A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace". My sunglasses hid my tears.

Personally, I was devastated, and I would be lying if I said I was over it even now. I did not want to deal with the loss. I spent the week gathering photos for a slideshow, organizing things.

Sorrow led to anger. I couldn't believe the world didn't stop. I clung to the thought that my grandfather was finally at peace.

Little did I know that was only the beginning.

8.14.2009

Life Storms

The storms of life are slamming me at the moment. I will post again soon.

7.20.2009

Dying for Mercy Giveaway!

Win a copy of Mary Jane Clark's Dying for Mercy!

To celebrate the upcoming release of Mary Jane Clark's exciting new novel, Dying for Mercy, I will be giving away two copies!

You can find out more about the book below in the trailer and description.

To enter, all you need to do is comment to this post. You will receive 1 entry point for your comment. Be sure that you leave your email address so that I can get in touch with you!

If you follow this blog, you will receive 3 additional entry points!

If you follow me on Twitter (@lemonologie), I will give you another 3 entry points! Just be sure to send me a tweet that you want to win! Additionally, I will give you yet another point every time you tweet about this giveaway! (Hint - Be sure you mention @lemonologie & either #maryjaneclark or #dyingformercy in your tweet so I'll see it!) I created a short link to my blog here: http://bit.ly/KA84w

The Giveaway will run until next Monday, July 27. At that time, I will "draw" the winners from the entry numbers. Good luck!

Dying for Mercy releases July 28th. Even if you don't win, you can pre-order your copy at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Dying-Mercy-Mary-Jane-Clark/dp/0061286117/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247761503&sr=8-1


Trailer for Dying for Mercy
:




Book Description:

When death shatters the serenity of the exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, New York, Eliza Blake, cohost of the country's premier morning television show KEY to America, is on the scene. While attending a lavish gala at her friends' newly renovated estate, Pentimento, Eliza's host is found dead—a grotesque suicide that is the first act in a macabre and intricately conceived plan to expose the sins of the past involving some of the town's most revered citizens.

Determined to find out the truth, Eliza and her KEY News colleagues—producer Annabelle Murphy, cameraman B.J. D'Elia, and psychiatrist Margo Gonzalez—discover that Pentimento holds the key. Nestled in the park's sprawling architectural masterpieces, picturesque gardeners' cottages, and lush, rolling landscape, the glorious mansion is actually a giant "puzzle house," filled with ingenious clues hidden in its fireplaces, fountains, and frescoes that lead them from one suspicious locale to another—and, one by one, to the victims of a fiendish killer.

As Pentimento gives up its secrets, it becomes clear that no amount of wealth or privilege will keep the residents of Tuxedo Park safe. But just when Eliza unearths one final surprise, she comes face-to-face with a murderer who believes that some puzzles should never be solved.

About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author Mary Jane Clark has written 12 novels, all set in the high stakes world of broadcast journalism. She worked at CBS News headquarters in New York City for three decades, her experience there leading her to create KEY, a fictional television network. What her characters can get involved in as they cover their assignments is as varied as the stories on the morning or evening news. Her media thrillers are published in 22 languages.

Fast-moving, unpredictable, and always changing, the television news world offers a never-ending stream of ideas for Clark’s books. Her writing style has been described as “clear and speedy.” Influenced by years of writing television news stories, where every second counts, she gets right to the action in her suspense novels, in which every word is a clue.

The daughter of a FBI agent, Clark grew up in Westwood, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two grown children and lives in New Jersey and Florida. She spends her time researching her next novel, writing, concocting new plots while walking the beach, decorating ,and supporting causes close to her heart, including research for a cure or treatment for fragile X syndrome.

7.09.2009

When Nature Invades My Home

For the last few days, I have been involved in a daily battle with a gnat in my bathroom. Each morning when I get up, I find him on my mirror.

At first, I calmly went over, grabbed a Kleenex, snuck back to the mirror and calmly swatted him. I missed. He flew off. I searched all over the place, but no gnat.

As the days have gone on, I have grown increasingly desperate. Now I grab the first thing I see and fling it at his little gnat body.

You see, gnats and I have history. It began back in '97 and it's an ugly story involving a funeral home and a gnat going places where it shouldn't. You really don't want to know. Just know this, I hate them. They hate me back, I promise. You'll find several example anecdotes here and here.

Today, I found him at his regular morning spot on the mirror. I grabbed a pill bottle and brought it against the mirror at ninja speed. SMACK! I peered out of one eye to see my results. I got him.

I cleaned off the pill bottle, placed it back beside the sink and turned around to leave. There, on the top of the pill bottle stood YET ANOTHER FREAKING gnat. Just staring at me.

7.02.2009

The MiL & the Prunes

Yesterday Grace came home with note written in her book. We keep a book to record all her food & diaper changes. The note made me furious - "No prunes for a few days".

Thank you Dr. MiL.

I am tempted to feed her prunes EVERY day for the next YEAR.

Perhaps I should explain this a little further. I do value her advice and her input. She spends a considerable amount of time with Grace, so she is bound to see things that we may not. But, the note written in the book was not phrased as a suggestion or a comment. It was a command.

7.01.2009

Encounters with Nature

I met Bambi today. He jumped out in front of my car as I was going down my driveway. Don't panic! I was paying attention and able to slow down safely so that he made it across with plenty of room to spare.

Since I had almost completely stopped the car anyway, I decided to see if I could still see where he went. I backed up my car a couple of feet, and sure enough. He stood a couple hundred yards into the woods right beside me.

If this deer had been standing right up against me, he would have come up to my waist. He was the smallest deer I have ever seen in real life. He was being so cooperative to stand still and let me look at him, that I pulled out the phone to take his picture. He stood there patiently while I figured out which button launched the camera application on my too-smart-for-me smart phone. I took a picture or 30.

Then, I realized that if I rolled down my window, I could get a better picture. Here's where my PSA comes in - You should never roll down your window in the summer while driving through the woods.

A ginormous insect rushed into my car at 80 MPH straight toward my face. I don't even know what kind it was. (We see weird insects out here.)

Of course, I screamed and began swatting as if my life depended on it. Who knows? Maybe it did.

After a 45-second car battle, the mysterious insect flew back out the window. I was shaking like crazy, but I managed to roll up the window behind it.

As I began to pull away, I looked back out my window. There was Bambi, still standing there, staring at me.

6.24.2009

The MiL & the Poop

For the last couple of days, we have been battling with the MiL over Poop. Yes, that's right. Poop. Or the lack-thereof.

Let me explain. Grace is now on solids twice a day. As with many babies starting on solids (or so the Almighty Internet tells me), she has had a case of constipation. Our poor little baby strains and strains. And nada. No poop.

We are moving her up the chain of solids as dictated by her doctor. Rice cereal, then oatmeal, then whole grains, then veggies & fruits. According to the doctor, we have to wait a day or so in between these new introductions so that we can monitor for any food allergies, etc.

Grace was on Step 2 - Oatmeal.

For the last few days, the MiL has been all over our cases. "She needs to eat FRUIT!" she berates. Fruit is the miracle cure that will fix everything. We have gotten the lecture over and over. I tried to explain that we were following the steps the doctor told us to and the doctor had warned about a little trouble moving food through Grace's system. But, nothing would convince her.

So, yesterday we caved. We SKIPPED the whole grains and gave her PRUNES. Grace thinks prunes are really cool. They are lots of fun to smear all over her face. And you know what? Still no poop.

Last night, as we put Grace to bed, J turned to me and said "I hope she poops all over her tomorrow."

Me too, honey. Me too.

6.23.2009

The 31st

This morning, in the midst of getting Grace up & ready, dealing with fires at work and the huge pile of laundry that grows astronomically every time I turn around, something happened.

I turned 31.

Of course, as anyone can tell you, being 31 feels no differently than being 30. It's just another year gone by. Regardless of the chaos around me, it came and went just the same.

This year could be the best ever. After waiting for so many years, I have my precious daughter.

But life finds a way of humbling me over & over again. When something goes right, three more things go wrong.

It may be obvious in my writing - it definitely is to me - but I've been struggling with depression again lately. I am unhappy with work, and the cloud from that is invading my entire life.

Whenever I feel down, I try very hard to consider all my blessings. With that in mind, here are 31 blessings in my life for my 31st year (in no particular order).

  1. My beautiful, healthy daughter
  2. A dependable husband who is my best friend
  3. My Dad
  4. My dogs
  5. God's faithfulness
  6. Music
  7. The Ocean
  8. Photography
  9. The ability to remember random facts
  10. My baby's smile (I know, I know. I already said something about her back up at #1. But, hey! I make the rules here.)
  11. Long eyelashes
  12. Monopoly (the board game)
  13. Flowers
  14. Curling up with a good book
  15. Facebook
  16. Food to eat and clothes to wear
  17. Creative outlets
  18. Trees
  19. Smart Phones
  20. Melted cheese
  21. A car that runs
  22. DVR
  23. Benedryl
  24. Chocolate
  25. The storage capacity on my iPod
  26. My family and the good memories associated with them
  27. A fabulous home
  28. Quiet moments
  29. Bacon & Eggs
  30. Electricity
  31. Watching my child grow

6.21.2009

First Father's Day

Today marks another first for our little family - J's first Father's Day.

I woke up early, took care of the dogs, snuck to my present-hiding place and got everything ready for J to find when he got up.

A little later, J began to open the gifts. As soon as his hand touched the top of the bag, "Sssshhhrrrkkk!" His fire scanner went off. (He's a volunteer now.)

It turned out not to be a call he could take, so he began to open the bag again.

J loves clocks and watches. When we got married, I got him a watch. So, for the first Father's Day, I thought it only appropriate that I give him a watch.

Well, while this watch is beautiful and he loves it, blah, blah, blah, it does not have a stop watch on it. Apparently this is an essential feature, and I got lucky with the first one I gave him. Whatever.

J saw the look of misery and bewilderment on my face, so he immediately told me "I don't use it *all* that much." This means he's willing to make the tremendous sacrifice of living without the stop watch part in order to avoid hurting my feelings.

We will be exchanging the watch.

Before we could finish our discussion, the work pager (his regular IT consultant job) went off. 8 different times.

So, now here I am. Spending the first Father's Day alone upstairs typing into my phone. I hope that you, dear reader, have better luck.

6.17.2009

This Twitter Thing

I am the last person I ever expected to be on twitter.

It began innocently enough. I'm a project manager in web development, and one of the websites I'm working on needed a twitter feed displayed. So, I joined. For research. I promise.

Meanwhile, I enjoy making sarcastic comments at the TV while I indulge in my secret soap opera addiction. One day, I happened to be watching - phone in hand. A thought occurred to me. Grace & my dogs are probably sick of hearing my commentary. Why not put it out there for the world?

Now, it's pretty much a mandatory thing that I have the phone around when I watch TV.

Now, I twitter when I read the news online too. I can't get enough.

Are you on twitter? Follow me @lemonologie, and I'll follow you!

6.10.2009

Need Your Screen Cleaned?

You know how you always get those pesky prints from touching your screen?  Go here to find out the best way to get it clean.

6.09.2009

Overheard at Restaurant

"I don't have OCD. I have CDO in the order it is supposed to be!"

Spring Cleaning

I have been doing some blog design work over the last few weeks for my job, and I decided to upgrade my design template for this blog. Here's what's new:

  • This blog is now mobile-friendly. Now that I have a smart phone, I could see how hard to read it was!
  • New and improved footer. A place to cram more stuff!
  • I'm on Twitter, and now you can easily find me (see the footer)! You can follow me or see my latest ramblings down below.
  • A label cloud! (See footer)
  • A new image host! Now hopefully no one will have to let me know that my background mysteriously disappeared!
  • A navigation bar with handy links. Now that I have seen this one, I'm not sure I will keep it up there. I'll leave it for now and see if it grows on me.

6.08.2009

The New Normal

It's 1 AM and I have been asleep for approximately one hour.

The scanner goes off. The floor creaks as J walks down the hall. The alarm announces "Garage Door" as he exits. Max & Molly bark furiously. All the noise wakes the baby.

It's 2 AM and J returns home. Grace settles back to sleep after her feeding. The dogs finally calm down after barking the entire hour.

I am wide awake.

6.05.2009

From My Crackberry Again

Nice to see that Alltel puts their tagline in there. Perhaps we can work out a sponsorship deal!

For you, dear reader, this just means an increase in typo probability!


Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Alltel

UPDATE: Tagline removed on all future posts from my phone! Love the Crackberry Forums!

From My Crackberry

Now that I have succombed to the smart phone phenomenon, I find my phone glued to my hands and my thumbs getting a heavy workout.

At least I am exercising!

Today I discovered that I can post this way. I decided that I would try it. I'm not sure if my OCD can handle not being able to control the formatting. What will I do without HTML tags?

Ah, the dillemas that technology brings!

Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Alltel

6.03.2009

The Day I Ruined My Tile

The morning started off pleasant enough. The sun shone brightly in my window. I got up, took my shower, and opened the shower door to step out into a day filled with opportunity.

Then suddenly I heard a crash.

Not just any crash, but a crash with the additional sound of glass shattering.

I looked down at my feet to see pools of "I'm Not Really a Waitress" red all over my beautiful porcelain tile.

My favorite bottle of bright red nail polish was no more. I was crushed.

98% of a full bottle of nail polish remover, a roll of paper towels, a runny nose and a killer headache from the fumes later, I emerged from the bathroom.

I got the stain off of the tile itself, but alas, my grout is ruined.

6.02.2009

Why I Hate Politics

I am an independent. I vote strictly on issues - never by party.

I live in an ultra-conservative town. The people around me make me look like the absolute most liberal person in the world.

Immediately after the election back in January, a female from my church updated her Facebook status to say that Obama should be assassinated. This is the very same group of people that claim to vote for McCain strictly on the issue of abortion. What gives?

I will say that I am definitely not a fan of Former President Bush. When an issue arose that I found fault with, I was told that "He is our president. You have to respect him because of that."

Of course, this no longer applies. Obama finds himself in the news again today, and it does not even matter what he says. The people around here begin their uproar about what a horrible person he is.

Now, I am in no way waving my Obama sign and wearing my Obama t-shirt here. There are things that I agree with our president on, and there are things that I disagree with him on. But, I refrain from speaking up altogether unless I am well-informed. When I do speak, it will be on the issue at hand, and not a completely unrelated attack on personal character. I wish the people living around me shared that sentiment.

6.01.2009

17 Weeks, 3 Days

Dear Grace,

Your Dad & I cannot believe that you are already four months old. In that amount of time you have nearly tripled your birth weight. You are solidly in 3 month clothes. You are quickly gaining on your full-term counterparts!

You learned to make noises. You "Coo" and "Google" when you are happy. We know you are our child - you can already say the website names!

The mornings are my favorite time with you. You are a little tired - you have not completely woken up yet. You cuddle in my arms and look up at me with a great big beautiful grin on your face. That grin makes me melt.

You have learned to hold your head up, and you insist upon being held that way. If I lay you down in the crook of my arm, you will stick out your lower lip. You have already perfected your pout!

From the hours of 6-10PM, you have colic. You will cry and cry, and there is nothing that your Dad & I can do to appease you. We try though! We would do anything to make you feel better.

Today you went for your four-month checkup. We saw the nurse practitioner. She commented what a beautiful baby you are. Your Dad & I know this well, so we just grin and nod. She looked you over. You performed perfectly. You made noises when she asked about noises. You pushed with your feet when she tested your leg strength. You opened your mouth when she needed to look inside.

You are now in the 10th percentile. At our last appointment, you were beneath the chart. We are so proud of all your development.

Throughout the appointment, you kicked your feet and danced with your arms. When it came time for the last thing - shots - you were so happy. When the nurse stuck you the first time, you looked stunned. You could not believe that something happened like that to hurt you. When the nurse stuck you the second time, you screamed. Your scream ripped my heart in two. I scooped you up in my arms and held you tightly. We cried together.

Tonight, with the approval of your doctor, we tried feeding you solid food for the first time. Rice cereal! I did the honors while your Dad filmed us. You pushed the mush around with your tongue. You spit some of it out, but you swallowed most of it. This is only the beginning. When I told our family that you had your first solids, the first question I got back was "Does that mean I can give her candy now?" Sure. If the candy looks and tastes exactly like rice cereal.

You continue to grow strong and healthy, sweet girl. I love you very, very much.

Love forever,

Mama

5.20.2009

The MiL & All the Sickness, Part 2

Although she admitted to no wrong-doing of exposing my baby to sickness, the MiL informed me earlier today that the sick people may return to the MiLHouse at 4:00PM today.

"I will pick up Grace at 3:30." I said. And that was that.

Promptly at 3:30, I put my work on "Pause" and I went over to pick up Grace.

It was then and there that I learned that the mysterious sickness is no longer a mystery. The doctor proclaimed that my sister-in-law and two of her boys have strep throat.

STREP THROAT!

Imagine me, an admitted germaphobe with a 3 month old baby hearing those two words. I believe my head exploded into a gazillion pieces.

5.19.2009

The MiL & All the Sickness

The MiL also keeps two of our preschool age nephews along with Grace. They love her, so normally it is not a problem.

Today?

Problem.

My husband ate lunch at the MiL's house while I had errands to run. While he was there, his sister called. She had a sick child (she has three in total) and planned to bring him by. J immediately objected. Since Grace was a preemie, we have to be extra-careful about her immune system and exposing her to sickness.

"Oh, I'll keep him away. He'll be in the other room and they will not have any contact with each other."

I would have fled with my child in tow. But J is much more vulnerable. He does not question the MiL. He let her stay.

At 4:30, when J went to pick up Grace, he found not only a sick child, but also his sister - who by now was also sick - lying around at the MiL's too!

Objection! She should have called! Two sick people in the house! We would have picked her up!

If Grace gets sick, I plan to start a war.

Am I overreacting? Honestly I don't care. I would rather err on the side of caution.

5.17.2009

Mother-Napping

As someone with family members who suffer from Alzheimer's, this story makes me sick. How can someone take advantage of another human being like this?

5.14.2009

The MiL & the Bottle

The MiL keeps Grace during the day.

To understand the rest of this post, you need to know that the MiL is a strong, independent force of nature. The MiL is the boss of everyone that the MiL comes in contact with. As mere mortals, we are not allowed to question the MiL.

You should also know this - I love her, I really do. I rely on her sometimes, and she can be very helpful. I am also grateful that she keeps Grace. It's a nasty little web of a situation.

I spent a lot of time researching bottles. I read all my baby books. I talked to the doctors while Grace was in the NICU. I consulted online communities and informative websites. (You may think that I am crazy, but this is my beloved child and I do intend to put forth my best effort in making good decisions for her.) I looked at things like BPA and air flow systems. Then, J & I made an informed decision.

We tried the bottle of choice with Grace, and she liked it. So we bought more. We send a couple over to stay at the MiL's, so that she would have some on hand.

So, imagine my surprise when my little baby comes home today with a completely different bottle. A cheap one. One that does not do anything special about air flow. And, I am sure that it does not meet BPA standards. Okay, maybe it does. But that is not really my point anyway.

J does not think it's a big deal so I let it go. In the grand scheme of things? It probably is not a big deal. But for me, it is a much bigger issue. I made an informed choice, told the daytime caretaker of my child about that choice, provided supplies to support that choice and she ignored it.

If it was only this one thing I am sure that I could be a little more lenient. But alas, it is not. By giving Grace a certain type of pacifier during the day all the time (which was of course not the kind that she got from the hospital that I was giving her), Grace began to favor her kind. Then she informs me that Grace takes her kind better. Maybe J & I should use that kind too. Gee, thanks for the advice.

Stung. In the Face.

My exercise plan is not going so well. I am quickly losing all motivation to leave the house to force myself to get outside and take my daily walk during my lunch.

Cedar requires no motivation. If I do not take him to walk now, he will sit outside my window and just stare at me the whole time I am trying to enjoy my lunch hour. If I walk outside, he will bark at me profusely until I fill so sorry for him that I trek back inside to get his leash.

Now that the plants are in full bloom, the beginning of my walk is pleasant enough. The smell of honeysuckles fill the air. I see wildflowers on the edge of the road. Sometimes, I even catch a glimpse of an animal or two.

Sound nice, right?

Well, it's not. I have decided that I do not really enjoy being in nature all that much. I would much rather enjoy it from inside my house looking out the window.

Why? Well nature around here is mean. That's right. Mean.

Nature fools you into thinking that you want to take part. You feel as though you should run right outside in the beautiful sunlight and smell the flowers blooming all around. In my hometown? It's a trap. Those beautiful flowers are hiding an army of mosquitoes ready to attack. Those beautiful trees? Hiding ticks.

I know I sound paranoid, but my attitude comes strictly from experience. I hate bugs.

A few weeks ago, wasps were a huge problem. So, we had the area around our house sprayed for "solitary" wasps and spiders. It has been the best thing that we have done since we moved in. Before that, I was afraid to leave my front door. As soon as the door would open, the wasps would head straight towards my head.

The latest problem has been gnats. They gather in groups of 9,786 and fly directly underneath my glasses. Quite an annoyance. It has become a pain to go outside.

But, I did it anyway because I knew I should. I put Cedar on the leash and off we went.

We were to the point in the road where I turn around and walk back home, when WHAP.

Something slammed into my cheek. Right on the bone.

I thought that it was probably just a bug that flew into me. Bugs will do that. You know, because it is fun for them. I can be the tallest thing in a 10 foot radius, and they will still fly right into me.

I started to continue walking when I felt that my cheek was starting to swell.

I decided that I probably required first aid. I got out my phone and texted my husband. I immediately heard him start up the four-wheeler and barrel down the hill to get me, sweep me off my feet and chariot me away from all the nature back into the safe fortress that is my house. My hero.

5.12.2009

Fun With Passports

Is it possible to get a passport in a small town? The answer is no. Don't even bother trying.

I found out that I may be asked to travel up to Canada at some point on business. Since I have never gotten a passport, I thought I should go ahead and start the process.

First of all, the passport forms that you can supposedly fill out online are a joke. Yesterday morning, I hit the link. Yesterday afternoon, it was still cranking. Give me a break. Has anyone ever done that successfully? If so, congratulations. You deserve a medal.

So today, I decide I'll just go to the post office and get the stupid application in person. I took my precious lunch hour to drive into town. I stood in line. And they do not do passports there. Here's a shocker. Their website lies.

Now after two wasted days, I still have not gotten any further into the passport process than before.


--- Update: Right after I submitted this entry, the form magically popped up and let me feel it out. Hmmm. Perhaps I should complain more. Apparently it yields results. ---

5.08.2009

Pink Underwear

Things happen when you introduce the laundry of a three-month-old girl into that of two adults.

Pink things.

It was late, and I was tired. I know, I know. Excuses, excuses.

Somehow a hot pink onesie hid in the washer and slipped itself within the next load, which was of course - whites.

VoilĂ ! Pink underwear.

The fact that my underwear is pink is kind of funny. But, the fact that so are my husband's? Hilarious.

5.02.2009

Poor Nana & Papa

My parents have been sick for three straight weeks now. They are going through immense Grace withdrawal.

I miss Grace like crazy during the day while she visits Grandma while I work. That's for a couple of hours. I cannot imagine weeks.

Things have changed for them since becoming first time grandparents. For the very first time when I told my Dad he should go to the doctor, he *gasp* did. Normally the conversation where I tell them to go to the doctor has to occur at least 487 times before they will break down and go.

4.30.2009

Stop and Smell the Roses

My Don Juan climbing rose bush is in full bloom!

4.21.2009

One Liners

These made me smile, so I'm sharing...

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then, it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said, 'Keep off the Grass.'

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No change yet.'

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.

19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

21. A backward poet writes inverse.

22. In democracy, it's your vote that counts. In feudalism, it's your count that votes.

23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

24. Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!

4.16.2009

The Worst Kind of Movie

Last night I made a judgment error. J & I decided to watch a movie. We had three choices. "Marley & Me?", he asked.

Sure. Why not?

Now, in retrospect, I can tell you exactly "Why Not" and perhaps you can save yourself from emotional turmoil. (BTW, if you have not seen this movie and want to be unpleasantly surprised, you may want to move on to the next post.)

I should have looked up the ending online before I agreed to spend two hours becoming attached to a dog in a movie.

Then, the dog dies.

I hate movies with dying dogs. Eight Below - WORST MOVIE EVER. Old Yeller - Not for me.

Did you see A Time to Kill? Remember the part where the dog may or may not have been a victim of the fire? When that dog showed up on the screen again, my heart jumped a little.

I really, really hate it when a movie makes me cry. It makes me feel like a complete idiot. "Come ON," I tell myself. "It's a movie. NOT REAL LIFE WITH PEOPLE I KNOW."

4.14.2009

A Difficult Day in Blogville

Today the Spohrs celebrate the life of their beloved Maddie.

I do not know the family personally. But, as with many other members in the blogging community, I feel like I do. Their loss is shared across the community, and I am heartbroken for them.

Life is so fleeting. We get wrapped up in our personal drama, and even the drama of others. We forget.

Then, a terrible tragedy like this happens and we find ourselves hit in the face with something we don't see coming - our humanity.

Take a moment and say a prayer for the Spohrs today. Their sweet Maddie has been an inspiration and touched the lives of countless people. I know they are receiving love and support from all over the world.

I look at my own beautiful daughter and I cannot help but think of the many "what ifs". But, that is wasting precious moments that we have together. So, I will dress her in purple today and thank God for every second that we have.

4.13.2009

All the Talent

Yes, Susan's got talent...but her singing does not make me cry like this one did.

4.09.2009

Say It In Song

I get a lot of these questions to fill out in facebook, and I actually do one every once in a while even though my friends might tell you otherwise.

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, CLEVERLY answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title. It's harder than you think!

Pick Your Artist: Jack Johnson

Describe yourself: Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

How do you feel about yourself: Cocoon

Describe where you currently live: Jungle Gym

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Cove

Your favorite form of transportation: Traffic in the Sky

Your best friend is: Good People

Your favorite color is: Orange Whip Groove

What's the weather like: Rainbow

Favorite time of the day: Tomorrow Morning

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: Staple It Together

What is life to you: Imagine

What is the best advice you have to give: Better Together

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be: Dreams Be Dreams

Your favorite food is: Cookie Jar

Thought for the Day: Let It Be Sung

How I would like to die: The Horizon Has Been Defeated

My soul's present condition: I Shall Be Released

The faults I can't bear: Fortunate Fool

My motto: With My Own Two Hands

4.01.2009

Back to Work

After an unexpected start, my leave of absence from the new job has ended. Today, I feel like a kid who is just starting at a new school in the middle of the school year. I am very nervous. I only had 9 days to meet these people before I had to begin my leave.

I work 100% from home for the new job. While I love working from home, it makes it difficult to get to know your co-workers. I am completely unsure what to expect.

On top of that, I have this little "missing my baby" feeling to contend with. Grace & I have been cooped up together in the house for four weeks now. Honestly, I am not sure what to do without her here!

3.17.2009

Long Walks

Now that I am clear for activity, it is time for me to work on this belly. Let's face it. I hate exercise, but my belly is not going away on its own.

I was so, so careful about gaining weight during my pregnancy. Until the last month, I had gained 15 pounds, which on the chart was just where I needed to be. Then that last month, I gained an additional 20. In one month. Darn that pre-eclampsia.

I have actually lost all the weight as far as numbers go. But, my post-pregnancy body is different from my pre-pregnancy body. For the first time in my life, I have a belly overhang. And it's got to go.

I am still tired and sore from the c-section. This means I have to start small - walking it is.

So, my driveway is the perfect place for a walk. Okay, maybe not perfect, but it is a place.

Cedar was ecstatic. (Even though Cedar is pretty much always ecstatic.) I put the leash on him and off we went.

I discovered something about myself today. I am the. slowest. walker. ever. Not only
that, but I had to stop about every hundred feet. Walking is exhausting. I made it down the hill (which is about 1.5 tenths of a mile). I was feeling pretty good about myself, when I turned around to walk back (see photo). As you may know, walking down a hill is much, much easier than walking back up it.

Taking Cedar was a genius idea. He may yank my arm out of socket several times during our little trip, but he did a great job of pulling me back home!

It is going to be a tough feat to do this every day.

2.20.2009

Gullibility and Automotives

J thinks this is the funniest prank call ever. I tend to feel sorry for this poor woman. I mean, I know nothing about cars, and all of these things were obvious to me!

2.16.2009

Checking In

Just checking in after an absence of a few weeks. I have a good excuse...really!

I had a baby. That's right. Grace came early (born 1/30/2009, due 3/29/2009)! It's really a long story, and I will get into that with some back-filled posts when I have more time. Right now, it's off to the NICU for me to be with my precious little angel.

2.04.2009

5 Days

Dear Grace,

Today is the fifth day you have been a part of the outside world. You continue to grow and reach milestones daily. I am blessed to be a part of your journey.

Today your Dad got to hold you for the first time. I have never seen him so terrified. The entire time he held you, he was worried. He was concerned for your body temperature and kept watching the temperature on the monitor in your room. I told him that if you were too cold, the nurse would not have allowed him to hold you. He kept trying to cover you up better. Finally, he got so nervous that I had to go get the nurse to put you back in your incubator.

He asked the nurse about your temperature. "It's fine," she said. "The temperature monitor is not even hooked up."

I guess that we are typical nervous first time parents. It is difficult not to think about how fragile you are since you are so small and you have so many cords attached to monitor you.

I wait for the day when we can hold you without the help of the nurse. I want to be able to sit and rock you in the chair in your room. Right now, I sit beside you all day. You may not even realize that I am there, but I want to believe that you do. I gaze at you and memorize each of your features. I talk to you and sing to you. I cannot wait for the day when we can bring you home.

Love forever,

Mama

2.03.2009

Off the Beach

It is an amazing privilege to see my daughter grow each day. Every day, with every breath, she is a living miracle. Each day she grows stronger. Her tiny little system continues to function well. We are so very blessed.

Today, she got to spend time without the lights. We call it the beach because of the little sunglasses she has to wear under the light. It looks like she is laying in a tanning bed or on the beach.

She will not get to completely forgo the lights yet. But, this is a step in the right direction!

2.02.2009

Under Pressure

Today my milk came in.

All throughout my pregnancy, I had planned on breastfeeding my baby. I did the research, and I determined that was the best decision for both of us.

The hospital is all about breast feeding these days. As soon as I got home yesterday, I received a phone call from the other NICU doctor. He wanted me to sign a release that would let the hospital feed my baby with donor milk. Don't get me wrong. I do not have a problem with donor milk. I think it is wonderful in most cases. But, could you give me a chance first? Is it too much to ask? My baby came 8 weeks early and not by her choice. I think my body needs a minute to catch up!

J does not understand the pumping pressure. He thinks if I become a pumping nazi that I will automatically produce loads and loads of milk.

What he does not understand is this - pumping is hard. My body is physically exhausted and uncooperative. I have really struggled with this over the last few days. I missed the class on how this is supposed to work. Even then, I doubt seriously they cover what you are supposed to do when your baby is too little to attempt to feed outside the incubator for any significant amount of time. According to the lactation nurse, babies do not really even learn to suck for another couple of weeks - at week 34 to 36.

Anyway, today my hard work paid off and I produced enough milk to feed Grace. The NICU nurse jokingly told me that I had been visited by the milk fairy.

The milk fairy may have come last night, but she certainly did not get chase away her older and meaner sister - the hormone fairy.

I am really struggling with having not having Grace home. I spend the entire day at the hospital. Everyone else around me is all over my nerves. Since I am so physically weak, I am bombarded throughout the day with people telling me what to do. I keep telling several of these people in particular to just let me do my thing, and I will catch up.

Example? J is trying to be helpful in nagging me to call about adding Grace to my insurance. I cannot get in and out of bed without doubling forward in pain, but yet it is suddenly imperative that I call the insurance company and be on hold for 6 hours? I think they can wait a couple of days. But, J and the rest of the helpful group of people around me disagree. And they win.

I can already tell that my recovery is going to be very slow. And I know people are trying to help. A part of me appreciates their intent. But I need time, and no one wants to give it.