December 31, 2009

A New Year, A New Start

I sit here basking in the soft glow on Christmas lights, listening to the familiar chatter in the living room. Deep inside me there is a sense of contentment and peace that I haven't felt in a long time. Long enough that I can't pinpoint when I've felt this at ease.

At this moment I look forward to the new year and a new start to life! Tonight I will celebrate a successful decompression surgery, a great recovery and the chance to really *live* my life again. A life free from headaches and chronic pain; a life full of laughter, adventure and love.

Here's to a fantastic 2010!

August 3, 2009

Alternate Location

My last post here was posted the middle of June -- right as it felt like the world was crumbling around me. I was talking about the rain and the dreariness, asking for sunshine. In part I was talking about the weather; in part I was talking about me internally.

There was a handful of small things that when they all came together it became too much for me to handle. Losing my job was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. It sent me into a tailspin of depression and anxiety.

I've dealt with depression before. I knew the signs that signaled I needed outside help. Barely 10 minutes into my first therapy session, my counselor was saying I fit all the signs of clinical depression. She referred me to a nurse practitioner in town that dealt really well with women and depression. I set up an appointment to discuss running blood work to ensure it wasn't hormonal/metabolic.

A few therapy sessions, a couple week of anti-depressants, and some sleeping pills combined to help me get my life back on track. I realized how much of an ass I was being to my husband. How the lack of communication, love and respect mainly came down to my attitude and resentment that stemmed from my working situation. Being unemployed allowed me to focus my attention back on me, my marriage, my child and my house. It helped me to start getting it all back in line.

Which is good. Very good. Because with that initial blood work my nurse practitioner ordered a brain MRI to rule out MS (there's family history). Good news is that I do not have MS; other good news is after 20 years we might have figured out what has been at the root of these knock-down, drag-out headaches. Bad news is that it deals with my brain. And more importantly, it warrants a trip to Salt Lake City to meet with a neurosurgeon.

I have a chiari malformation. I'm not sure what lies ahead. But in order to keep everyone updated should my prognosis include surgery, I've set up a separate blog. If you want to follow along, I'd love to have you join me on this journey. All I ask is that you don't mention this space when you are there. I don't want the two places connected if possible. There is also considerably less anonymity on my other blog, please respect that.

For right now, I don't know how much I'll post here. My intent is not to abandon this space completely.

June 18, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away!

The days blur together in a fog of grey clouds and raindrops.

The sun make fleeting appearances and brings with it hope that is quickly blown away.

It feels as though we've had nothing but rain for weeks on end.

The grass is in desperate need of mowing.

My tomato and pepper plants are floundering and are precariously close to drowning. They are on the verge of giving up the fight.

We need some sunshine and light. I hope it comes soon.

June 12, 2009

The Rest of the Story

I know that my last post was vague, that was the intent. As someone told me, "it reads like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma". There are a couple of friends from way back when that know who I'm talking about, or at least have a good guess. But for the rest of you here's a little more light on the situation...

JU was one of my best friends in High School. Undoubtedly my best male friend.

Our houses were down the road from one another (maybe a mile between the two) but due to logistics and boundary lines we attended different school districts. We'd been neighbors most of our lives (minus the times we moved around with my mom, but my Dad still lived close by) but never really knew each other until High School. A couple dozen students from the High Schools in our county were involved in a Math/Science program at a nearby vo-tech school all 4 years. All of us spent half a day together, every day, all 4 years. JU and I were both in the program and quickly became good friends.

We tried dating our Junior year and I was the one who put an end to it. I knew that I was in love with him, probably had been for a while. At the same time I knew that any kind of emotional relationship could be catastrophic for both of us and our friendship. Somehow we managed to walk away from the beginnings of a dating relationship and maintain a friendship. He watched and listened as I went through one disasterous relationship after another.

JU and I headed off to college together the fall after we graduated. I was esctatic to have him on the same campus; to be involved in this new chapter of our lives together. He started drinking really, really heavily our freshman year at Michigan State. He got involved with an influential crowd and threw everything away, was put on academic probation and then eventually told not to return for our sophomore year. I think part of it was being away from home and away from the rule of his parents. I tried to get him to curb his drinking and go to class. I'd walk out of my way to his dorm to try to get him to go with me; I'd call him to wake him up; offer to help study. None of it worked. I couldn't watch him self destruct. I began to distance myself and watch from afar.

After he got kicked out, he moved back home and went to work for a friend of my Dad's (who is another dairy farmer). He continued to drink. Sometime after that he got into construction work and moved in with some woman. They had a kid but never got married. He seemed to get himself back on track and was doing alright. I talked to him a couple of times after we moved to Utah.

JU has since split with his girl, moved back home with his parents and has gone back to work for that friend of my Dad's. From what I can gather he's not drinking anymore.

Emotionally, I'm so drained right now from the stress of my job (which hasn't all been disclosed here, but let's just say last week was UGLY) I don't know if I can open the door right now. I think that is where some of the guilt lies. I feel like I should reach out but don't know if I have the strength to do so.

June 11, 2009

A Bit Melancholy

I really believe that friends come in/out of your life at specific times for important reasons. Sometimes they lend a shoulder to lean on in times of need; sometimes they serve as a source of humor on a glum day; sometimes they give you a reminder of a simpler time or another version of yourself that has faded.

I've had friendships wax and wane over the last 15 years. People that for one reason or another have come and gone from my life. As some friendships have fizzled I've let them burn out. Knowing that their caustic nature wasn't worth the stress they kindled. Some friendships didn't survive distance or changes in life such as marriage and kids. Trying to resurrect them seemed painful. There are friends that had brief prior interludes and have now come back incredibly strong, making me question why we weren't better friends before.

For the most part, I love it when friends from my past reappear in my life. I enjoy having the chance to reconnect and reminisce over memories created.

Many years ago I let a very important friendship drift away. A friendship that I held very dear to my heart; one that I stepped away from because of choices that the friend was making. The path he was taking was so different from what I knew he was capable of. It was one I couldn't walk with him. So I walked away.

Over the first few years people gave me updates. It allowed for a glimpse into his journey from a distance. It helped to ease the pain I carried from walking away. But it created pain too. As time went on his path didn't veer, it held steady to a course of destruction. I know the decisions were his to make but I felt sadness for him knowing his potential.

A few days ago, I connected with a family member of his online. It has dredged up many, many feelings. Memories of time spent together, laughter shared. Only now am I realizing how important he was to me and how much I valued his friendship. But I'm hesitant to call. Hesitant to touch base for reasons I can't figure out.

Uncertainty is hard for me.

June 7, 2009

All Hail Broke Loose

After last year's attempts at transplanting strawberries (and the two post-planting frost episodes), I was nervous to try again this spring. But as one who can not pass up free plant starts I decided to give it one more shot this year. If the frost got them, I'd admit defeat and would plant something else in the area designated for berries come next year.

Much to my surprise and delight, all 50-some strawberry starts that were tenderly dug from my neighbor's patch and transplanted in my little raised bed have flourished. The first week after planting them I nervously watched the weather forecast every day. I watched for frost warnings and constructed a prevention plan that incorporated old bedsheets and tent stakes.

As we got further and further from the projected frost-free date here in Idaho, I began to be hopeful. I watched as the little green plants showed signs of browning around the leaf edges. I watched as they begin to wither every so slightly in an attempt to put down new roots. I watched as new growth emerged from the crowns, quickly reaching for the sunlight.

While the strawberry transplants were merrily growing in their new home, we devoted our time and attention to the rest of the yard. Tomato and pepper plants were bought and planted. Seeds for sweet corn, squash, carrots, lettuce, peas were sowed into freshly tilled soil. Flats of annual flowers were planted among the shrubs, under the trees and around the things I'd like to hide, if only for a temporary span of time. For the first time, I tried my hand at herbs -- with a little container containing some parsley, sage and basil.

I watched as everything germinated, took root and began to dot the barren flowerbeds/garden with tiny spots of green. The flowers were beginning to open, the bulbs began to sprout, the trees were full of leaves.

And then the storm blew in. A storm to make other storms cower in the corner. One full of rage and anger with wind gusts that uprooted mature trees and marble-sized hail.

The wind and hail tattered my tomato plants, shredded hosta leaves, and defoliated many a petunia in the yard. The apple tree looks a little worse for wear.

Thankfully though, my strawberry starts seem to have been spared.

June 4, 2009

Don't Mind the Makeover

It's time for a change around here. I need something bright and cheery -- something fun to look at. Maybe it's my version of a mid-year crisis.

June 1, 2009

4 Days

The official end date is June 5th, 2009

Even though I knew it was coming, it still stings. I think I'll go stand in the rain and let it wash away the tears.

May 26, 2009

It's Been One Week

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for the support -- the emails, the phone calls, the text messages, the blog comments, the posts on Faceb00k -- it means a lot to see that kind of empathy from people.

I still have no idea when my final date of employment is. I still am not entirely sure what I'm going to do after this gig is up. I've been weighing my options, looking at our budget and trying to figure out what works best for us as a whole.

I know that it will all work out, somehow, someway. Last week my emotions were a little too raw to be able to handle that sentiment. This week the wound has healed slightly and I'm not freaking out as badly.


May 19, 2009

It's Official

My time with the University will draw to a close in the near future. Now I need to figure out what the next step in this journey is.

May 15, 2009

I've Got Nothing

It's been an exhausting week. No news, yet.

A friend mentioned today that sometimes the not knowing is more difficult to handle than knowing, no matter what the outcome. At least then you can plan a course of action. I think she hit the nail on the head.

My gut is saying the grant didn't get funded. Too bad my gut is also saying it needs more antacids as my reflux is flaring.

And yes. It's almost 2am (mountain time) and I'm still awake.

Did I say it's been an exhausting week?

May 12, 2009

National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.

Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis and fibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions. The disorder affects an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. and an estimated 3-6% of the world population. While it is most prevalent in women —75-90 percent of the people who have FM are women —it also occurs in men and children of all ethnic groups. The disorder is often seen in families, among siblings or mothers and their children. The diagnosis is usually made between the ages of 20 to 50 years, but the incidence rises with age so that by age 80, approximately 8% of adults meet the American College of Rheumatology classification of fibromyalgia.

(Taken from pages off of the National Fibromyalgia Awareness website.)

My mom was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in early 2007; I also have a very close friend battling the syndrome as well. So for me, this is something that hits too close to home. Currently there is no cure. I pray that with increased awareness and increased research science may either develop more effective treatments or at some point, a way to cure people of this affliction.

May 11, 2009

No News

I'd hope that means good news, but in the world of government sponsored grants, you never know. The only thing you can count on is the clarify of their "no" when they tell you your proposal isn't going to be funded.

I was told we'd have an announcement by today. After the close of business (EST) this afternoon I spoke with the contact person for the proposal and she hadn't heard anything yet.

I'm still not handling the wait well but am trying to think about it less. Whether or not I'm succeeding at that remains to be seen.

Maybe tomorrow holds some answers.

One can hope, huh?

May 8, 2009

Trying to Find Balance

When C and I moved in together, we agreed that we would try to maintain some sense of our individuality even though we were becoming "us". That we would take time for ourselves; that we would retain some semblance of "C" and "A" even after we merged as one.

10 years later I will admit that I am struggling with this.

C hunts. No flames on this please, it puts food in our freezer for a substantially less cost than buying meat at the grocery store. I'm grateful for what he does bring home.

Over the last 2 years though, I'm becoming increasingly resentful of the time he takes to pursue this venture. It wouldn't be so bad if he chose to go after a single game animal a year. A 200+ pound cow elk easily puts over 100 pounds of usable meat in our freezer for a $30 tag. I hate to bring up issues with this because of the cost efficiency. Having a freezer full of meat makes my life so much easier.

But then we (translate to read, "HE") need[s] to schedule goose hunting. Then duck hunting. Then turkey season. As he takes phone calls and makes plans to go out for the ENTIRE.DAY to hunt I feel my blood pressure rise. I feel the resentment burn in the back of my throat.

Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work at home. I love that I can be with KT all day long every weekday. It comes with challenges though. I put up the the tantrums, hitting/biting and struggles from 9am until 6pm everyday -- C puts up with it from 6pm until bedtimes (8:30 pm usually). I look forward to hearing the garage door open when he gets home; I look forward to the weekends when he's here to help with her. I need the time to reset my sanity so that I don't completely snap Monday through Friday. I will openly admit that I struggle as a parent, that I desperately need him to help me do this correctly.

When he hunts though, I feel like my workweek is extended. My typical M-F schedule extends into Saturday and Sunday. I don't get the chance to sleep in; I don't get the chance to reset my attitude. I'm "on" all the time -- the weekends are a nice break to feel like I have an extra set of hands to help with the meals, the tantrums, the potty breaks and the challenges.

He works hard. Part of me wants him to have time to himself, so that he remembers who he is and can relax and be 100% when I need him. But part of me is so incredibly resentful. He just makes plans and goes. One weekend here and there wouldn't be a big deal, but the continued hunting weekends are adding up. My frustration is building. I don't know how to approach it without sounding like a mega bitch that doesn't want to let him do the things he wants to do.

So how do I handle it? I've had friends tell me that he's lucky he gets to go at all now that KT is here. That they wouldn't allow their husbands to do such things. But I don't want him to resent me and the family we've built. I want him to still have hobbies and interests. I just need him to be more considerate of the things he does and how they affect everyone else in this household.

Am I totally off base? Should I just shut my mouth and let him do what he wants? How do other moms handle it when their spouse wants to still carry on as though they have no parental obligations?

Being an adult is tough. There are many days where I ponder why we are all in such a rush to get older. I miss the carefree days of my youth.

Some of the Weirdness

My brain works in funny ways. When I'm mad or restless I clean. I've always been that way and I don't even realize what I'm doing until I'm about 60% done with whatever I'm tackling.

C used to laugh at me when I was in grad school -- before I could sit down to work on any big project I'd go through and clean the house first. Now he's learned to get out of my way when I go on cleaning spree now (typically because I'm frustrated with him over something.)

I guess it's how I release pent up energy.

But to give you an idea of how my mind jumps from task to task, and something simple snowballs into a huge project, let me recap an incident that happened yesterday.

  1. It all started with something as innocent as emptying the clean dishes out of the dishwasher. As I was doing that, I realized that the drain rack in the sink hadn't been emptied for days.
  2. So all of those dishes got put away. After the clean dishes were out of the sink I realized how incredibly dirty the sinks were.
  3. Out came the c0met and the sinks were scrubbed. As I was scrubbing I looked up and noticed the layer of dirt on the horizontal blinds in the kitchen window.
  4. Down came the blinds and into the bathtub they went. 10 minutes later and the blinds were clean and the air was heavy with the scent of PineS0l. While kneeling on the counter to get the blinds down, I got a good look at how dirty the window itself was.
  5. As the blinds were drying, out came the window cleaner. I cleaned the glass on the window, the track where all of the dust accumulates and I wiped down everything that needed to go back on the window sill.
What started as emptying the dishwasher resulted in about 15 square feet of complete cleanliness in my kitchen.

You can shake your head and laugh. I will completely concede that I have a problem.

May 7, 2009

Patience is NOT My Strong Suit

We should know by the beginning of next week if the grant was approved for funding or not. The review committee met earlier this week and announcements were scheduled to be disbursed following the meeting. How long they take to get to us, I don't know. Whether they'll be electronic or a formal, written announcement, I don't know.

All I know is that this wait is torturous. If the grant is funded, my job is secure for 2 more years. If the grant isn't funded, my time with the University will quickly draw to a close. To say this announcement is paramount is an understatement.

I don't handle the unknown well.

My heart skips a beat every time I get a new email. I want to know but I'm afraid at the same time.

I'm restless.

I can't sleep.

I'm short tempered.

My mind wanders.

To put it mildly, I don't wait well. Big surprise, huh?

May 5, 2009

R.I.P. "Grandma" B

I got the phone call from my Dad about an hour ago. After almost a week, "Grandma" B passed in her home this morning, surrounded by family.

She was a wonderful woman, someone whom I'm grateful to have known. I will hold tightly to the cherished memories I have of her.

My thoughts and prayers go out to her immediately family during this time.

May 2, 2009

The Pain Lingers

May 1st is a difficult day for me. I can see it on the calendar any other day of the year and I'm okay, but on the day itself I struggle.

When I realize the day has come upon us, I feel the familiar burn of tears.

Throughout the day whenever I glance upon some reminder of the calendar my throat tightens and I momentarily lose track of my thought.

I see bits and pieces of that day interspersed in everything I do: telling C we needed to go to the hospital, the sterile smell of the hospital as we were taken back to an exam room, fighting over the insertion of a catheter for an ultrasound, the stupid layout of the ultrasound room, listening to the deadening click of the computer as the tech measured what he saw, watching the room blur as the doctor confirmed that I was measuring 3 weeks behind and maybe I had my dates wrong, riding home in silence, and lastly collapsing on the kitchen floor in sobs harder than I'd ever experienced as we listened to the message the doctor had left before we got home, confirming the miscarriage.

It hurts, still. More than I thought it would. After 4 years I guess I thought the pain would fade more than it has. On the surface, everything looks fine, it looks completely healed. As you peel back the healthy layers a wound lies deep below. Deep below what everyone can see on a daily basis; only noticeable when something strikes the area just perfectly.

I know that we wouldn't have KT if that pregnancy had been viable (or the one after it, for that matter). But even a beautiful daughter can't take the hurt away completely.

May 1, 2009

It's No Movie Premiere

When we lived in Utah, there was a fantastic Mexican restaurant we used to go to. The kind of place that was packed anytime you went there, even if at lunch on Tuesday. Food was made fresh as you ordered and you got a great amount for your money. Most of the time we ordered and took it home to avoid waiting for a table and being packed into a seating area like a herd of cows.

It is a chain restaurant and one of many locations in Utah, but they haven't made their way into Idaho. It was one of the few places that I miss restaurant-wise from there (Pier 49 Pizza being the only other). All of the times I was pregnant, it was one of the few cravings I would get early on when I was so sick. And surprisingly one of the few foods that I managed to keep down.

A little over a month ago we discovered they were building one here, way on the other side of town. I was beyond ecstatic! We've talked a handful of times about going once it opened and how excited I was to finally have a location here.

They've been open for a couple weeks now and we haven't made it over there to eat yet. My hope was that we'd go on a weeknight to avoid the craziness of weekend restaurant goers.

Through a sequence of events I'd rather not delve into (my husband wasn't being very nice), I discovered a charge on our debit card to said restaurant from earlier this week. I was crushed! Perhaps it sounds stupid but I was so excited about this place opening and for us to go. And then I find out that he went without me. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

After the initial shock and anger passed, I confronted him about it last night. His response, "it's not a movie premiere where I'll never want to see the movie again, I'll still want to go with you".

I know it's silly; it IS just a restaurant but I guess the biggest issue is that it's something that was important to me.

Men. They just don't get it sometimes, do they?

April 30, 2009

A Heavy Heart

A very close friend of the family had a stroke last night. I'm not sure of the prognosis but from what I've heard, I think the end is close.

When I was born she made my mom and dad a baby quilt to honor my arrival. In 2006, she made one for C and I to honor KT's arrival. Both pieces are cherished items in my household.

Tonight I made sure to pull it out and tuck the little one in, extra tight with it.

The quilts on the bottom left are the ones she made -- the bottom one is mine, the middle one with the flowers/frogs is KT's.

My thoughts and prayers are with her immediate family right now. May God watch over them all.

April 29, 2009

Sister, Sister

As it is now technically April 30th in the Eastern Time zone, I can officially wish my sister a Happy Birthday!


I'm lucky to have a fantastic relationship with my sisters. I desperately wish that I could see them more often but know that the blame falls squarely on my shoulders for moving away from home.

I hope that you have a fantastic Birthday, Stretch! I'm so proud of the person you are today. You are an incredible daughter, sister, wife, (step) mom, aunt AND friend! May you have a wonderful day today.

Love you!

April 27, 2009

The Curse of Spring

We had some beautiful weather here in Idaho last week -- numerous days of 70 degree temperatures and sunshine. When the weekend rolled around and the sun was continuing to shine (albeit slightly cooler than our temps during the week), we took the chance to get out in the yard and start doing work.

C put on his incredibly sexy rubber boots and tilled the garden areas. We turned the sprinkler system on and adjusted sprinkler heads. I dug up some ornamental grasses from my front flower beds and split them -- redistributing the smaller sections into the flower beds along the back fence.

We even browsed through the local nursery looking at their flower selection and trying to get planting ideas. I bought all of the seeds I want to plant in the garden, but refrained from buying any tender, young plants. I learned a valuable lesson last year regarding how sly spring in Idaho can be. I did buy the final burning bush I want to fill in an area of my flower bed but refrained from planting in Saturday night.

I'm glad I made the decision to forgo any planting on Saturday (besides redistributing the grasses) because we woke up to 2" of snow yesterday morning.

Gotta love Idaho.

April 21, 2009

The Final Countdown

After countless, futile attempts to get an answer, I was finally told yesterday that the review panel will meet on May 4th to discuss the grant proposals. Letters will be sent out by the 11th notifying applications if their projects were funded or not.

If the project gets funded, I'll work through the end of June (unless money is drummed up elsewhere) and then go on hiatus until the new project is started. That could be as early as late fall but will probably be pushed back until shortly after the first of the year. When the project is started I'll end my leave of absence and hit the ground running. Going on hiatus ensures that I won't have to reapply for my job when we get the funding; quitting outright would mean I would have to be rehired.

If the project gets rejected for funding, it's the final strike. Where do I go from here? I'm still not sure. I've been watching job openings to see if anything catches my eye but haven't found anything overly promising so far. If I had a background in plant pathology I'd be pretty well set (a position equivalent to mine is opening up for a new hire at the R&E Center, so I could potentially just shift to his project) but it's my weak spot so that door has been closed.

On one hand I'm glad to know that in less than 3 weeks I'll have a more definitive answer. At the same time, I dread having it.

Anyone want to admit that they now have that song in their head?

April 16, 2009

My Favorite Things

One of the books I'm reading asks the reader to "write down a list of [at least] 50 activities that you love". So here it goes...

  1. Sipping coffee while watching the sun rise
  2. Planting flowers in the garden and flower beds
  3. Picking flowers from mountain meadows
  4. Watching fruits/vegetables grow from seed into something edible, knowing that I helped to make it happen
  5. Laying in the grass and watching the clouds
  6. Driving on dirt roads
  7. Getting flowers for no apparent reason
  8. Driving past the entrance of Yellowstone
  9. Watching Old Faithful erupt
  10. Spending time in Arches National Park
  11. Drinking beer at Moab Brewery
  12. Exploring new places
  13. Traveling with my husband and daughter
  14. Having family/friends visit
  15. Wandering through fabric shops, looking at beautiful fabrics
  16. Picking out fabrics and planning new craft projects
  17. Taking fabrics and turning them into a beautiful gift, watching the pieces morph into something before my eyes
  18. Hiking into a valley I've never seen before
  19. Spending 3 days on a backpacking trip and never seeing or hearing another person (besides those in the group)
  20. Shopping with my sisters
  21. Driving tractor, working ground
  22. Sleeping in and waking up to a day that holds no plans
  23. Going out to breakfast unexpectedly
  24. Reading the newspaper on a lazy Sunday
  25. Napping with the dogs on a random weekday afternoon
  26. Snowshoeing through fresh powder
  27. Casting my fly-line onto a perfectly still tailwater
  28. Cooking delicious meals for my friends/family
  29. Spending holidays with people I love
  30. Picking out perfect presents
  31. Having great conversations with friends
  32. Sharing the things I love with my daughter
  33. Eating decadent desserts
  34. Reconnecting with old friends
  35. Drinking coffee at my mom's kitchen table
  36. Planning and carrying out home improvement projects
  37. Finding the perfect pair of jeans in a store
  38. Taking time to spoil myself -- pedicures, massages, facials
  39. Landing in Detroit Metro airport, knowing that I'll see people I love in a short amount of time
  40. Flying over the Wasatch Mountains in Utah
  41. Walking in the door of my home after being gone for a few days
  42. Rolling the windows down in my 4Runner and turning the volume UP on the radio
  43. Road trips, either by myself or with other people, no matter what the distance
  44. Looking through old pictures
  45. Decorating my house for Christmas
  46. Dressing up and going out with my husband
  47. Roasting marshmallows over a campfire
  48. Drinking wine/beer/cocktails with girlfriends
  49. Helping friends in need, especially when unexpected
  50. Snuggling on the couch, eating popcorn and watching cheesy movies
  51. Playing fetch in the backyard with the dogs
  52. Dancing for no reason other than hearing music
  53. Watching my child discover new things
  54. Making snow angels in the front yard (and the yards of our neighbors)
  55. Sipping hot chocolate after playing in the snow
  56. Spending a weekend camping in the mountains with no TV, no internet and no cell phone service
  57. Not having to leave the house on a rainy day
  58. Crawling into bed after a long day
  59. Reading books that have nothing to do with my job, being a parent or wife, or containing any instructions
  60. Picking lilacs in the spring
  61. Playing/watching softball
  62. Watching the sunrise over Lake Huron
  63. Camping under the stars
  64. Going for ice cream at Reed's Dairy
  65. Dayhikes in the mountains
  66. Going out to dinner with friends
  67. Watching the sunset, sitting on the back patio

April 14, 2009

And Still He Sleeps

After 10 years together, it is clearly obvious that my husband will sleep through just about anything. Drives me absolutely insane. I'm awake with the smallest of noises -- my heart racing as I strain to hear every sound in the house, trying to figure out what's going on. Next to me he sleeps like a log. Completely oblivious unless I jar him awake and force him to pay attention.

Absolutely maddening at times.

About 4:45 this morning, I'm woken up by his snoring. He's lying flat on his back and sawing logs. I push him onto his side and pray that the noises he is emitting significantly reduce. No dice.

My movements alert the 4-legged inhabitants of our bedroom that something is amiss. Now Logan is awake and jumps off of the bed. He begins pacing around the bedroom and nosing at the bedroom door. Knowing that he can easily go 10 hours without going outside, I hate the thought of getting out of bed to let him outside. I vehemently hiss at him to shut up and lay back down. The whining and pacing continue.

I lay there in bed, pulling the covers up tightly to my chin, hoping that sleep will come over me and drown out the snoring of my husband and the whining of my dog. No dice there either.

Next to me, my husband rolls onto his back yet again and the snoring intensifies. As his weight shifts, his right arm picks up momentum and I'm smacked in the face with the back of his hand. My eyes well up with tears and I curse at him. I lay there trying to determine if my nose is bleeding.

The dog continues to whine and pace. My husband brings the offending arm up over his head and I quickly yank it down to his side to avoid getting smacked again. The whining is now impossible to ignore.

As my anger and frustration ratchets up exponentially, I throw the covers off, curse yet again at my husband, and stomp my way to the kitchen to let Logan outside. As he goes tearing off into the backyard his claws dig into the warm fleshy top of my foot. More cursing ensues. I hear my husband snoring from the bedroom, behind closed doors.

A short trip to the bathroom and I'm standing at the back door, hissing at my dog to get his furry backside in the house. He instead thinks it is appropriate to run Indy 500 laps around the backyard with lightning speed. The decision to come in follows closely behind a threat to leave him outside, me shutting the door and turning the back light off. Within seconds he's standing on the step.

The clock on the bedside table reads 5:07 when I pull the covers back up. I sigh in realizing that in 53 short minutes the alarm will go off, signaling the start of our day. I close my eyes and hope that I'll get some sleep before I need to wake my husband up.

As I feel myself drifting off, the cell phone on the dresser buzzes to alert us of a new text message. Knowing that the reminder feature is turned on, I curse at my husband for the final time, fling the covers off yet again and crawl out of bed to acknowledge the message on HIS phone.

How nice would it be, to be able to sleep through all of this?

April 8, 2009

Taking a Step Back

A couple of months ago, I started running again. Trying to build up some stamina and endurance in the hope to work up to running a 5K this spring/summer. I made it to about week 5 of the 8 week training program I was doing but severely stalled out a month ago and my gym attendance dropped drastically.

I've tried to justify my reasons for not going -- the craziness of the grant submission, my sister visiting from Michigan, family dinner time -- it helped to ease the guilt creeping into my brain when yet another day went by that I didn't go to the gym to run. The truth is, it's hard to find the time and I'd much rather do something else in its place.

Last week I started doing strength training at home. After 2 complete rounds of training sessions at the gym, I have a good idea what I need to do. Couple that with some online help in putting a workout together, some free weights, a resistance band, a jump rope, an exercise ball and the Wii Fit (for cardio) and I can put together something that's equivalent to what I can do at the gym. Without leaving my house.

But guilt still lingers. The guilt that once again, I set a goal (albeit weak since I never registered for a race) and I'm walking away from it. Yesterday I made a conscious decision to focus on the strength training and not be concerned about running. Maybe when the weather gets nicer I can run when KT is awake. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just run around the backyard with her, chasing the dogs and laughing at our silliness. Or maybe I'll attempt it again in another year.

The guilt of stopping the training is less though, than the guilt of not going to the gym when I knew I should be. I know I tried to meet that goal; I know it isn't a fit right now. The benefits I was gaining are outweighed by the disadvantages.

A copout? Perhaps. Even so, it's a choice that I'm 100% okay with right now.

April 2, 2009

Insomnia is Cruel

The clock on the macbook reads 12:50. My eyes are wide open and my mind is racing faster than is legal for this time of night.

I shut the computer down, originally at 9:30 and began winding down for bed. By 10:30 I was pulling the covers up, snuggling in and breathing a sigh of relief at the early turn in. I was yawning as C crawled in next to me.

Two hours and half a dozen techniques later, I was still awake and tired of tossing around. So here I am. Sitting in the living room, HGTV showing on the satellite and the computer in my lap.

The insomnia had gotten much better. I've had a good month where I've slept well (since I submitted the grant). Let's hope that this bout passes quickly. Heaven knows I need my beauty sleep.

March 30, 2009

School Spirit

Although neither of my degrees is emblazoned with Beaumont Tower, my loyalty to Michigan State runs deep. Especially when it comes to Spartan sports.

I may have not graduated from any of their Colleges, but I spent 3 amazing years as a student there. The friendships I made will have a lasting impression on my life and the study abroad trip I participated in...well, that was a life altering event to say the least.

Anyway...Spartan sports will always draw my attention. Much more so than any other professional team or event. It's hard to follow sometimes living in Idaho; games aren't considered local out here so they're not always broadcast on tv. But we make due.

Having MSU do so well in March Madness this year has peaked interest even more. Unfortunately, any games broadcast on CBS are blacked out for us due to contract negotiations with our satellite provider. So we've had to make due to watching them online.

It's hard for me to sit still and watch a game on the computer. So I usually turn it on for background noise and go about my business, stopping to watch for a minute here and there.

Yesterday's game was a fantastic one to watch. And was great motivation while cleaning!

March 28, 2009

Getting Out of the Rut

What is it about this time of year that always puts me in a funk?

Yet again, I've found myself in a major rut. Struggling to find the motivation to get to the gym; struggling to find the motivation to keep the house clean; struggling to find the motivation to make dinner.

I don't know if it's the weird weather. Some days it's 65 degrees and sunny. Two days later the wind is howling and the snow is falling.

Maybe I'm finally getting tired of winter and longing for spring. Ready to see the grass begin to green, the trees begin to bud and the flowers begin to bloom. I'm ready to get out and do some hiking. Put the boat in the river and do some fishing. And get my hands dirty in the flower beds and garden. To be able to sit on the back patio and feel the sun on my skin (don't worry Monkey, the sunscreen will come out as well).

Maybe I'm just ready to open the windows and get some fresh air into the house. Granted, that is accompanied by an avalanche of dust, intensified by the field behind our house and the ensuing ground work that will start in preparation for planting. And it causes the mounds of shed fur to bounce along the wood floors but I'll take it, dust and fur bunnies and all.

Hopefully the change in season will also bring about some new motivation and an accompanied change in my mood.

March 23, 2009

Taking After Her Momma

For the last 10 years, a great number of disagreements between C and I have arisen because he does something stupid and I laugh at his misfortune. I know I shouldn't but I just can't help it. He can be writhing in pain and through tears of laughter, I'm trying to stifle my giggles to ask him if he's alright. Not my best trait I admit, but he has on occasion admitted himself that he does his fair share of stupid stuff. Much of which warrants entertainment value for onlookers.

I think KT has inherited that really warped sense of humor. I don't know whether to be embarrassed or proud. For now, I'll enjoy having someone else who finds his misfortunes utterly hilarious.

KT and I were in her room tonight, rocking in the glider, reading our required pre-bedtime story. C opened the door, walked into the room and promptly tripped over the space heater, knocking it over and falling to his knees. Not just a little stumble where he quickly regained but his balance but a full-on, drop to the knees mishap.

Between the words of Goodnight Moon, the giggles began. First from me and after about 5 seconds I was accompanied by the sound of toddler laughs.

As C stood up, righted the space heater and tried to regain his composure and dignity, KT looked him square in the face and through her giggles, chortled, "good job, Dad".

I laughed so hard I cried.

March 20, 2009

Spring is in the Air?

The itch is beginning. The itch to get out and get dirty. To do some digging in the fragrant, wet soil of the flowerbeds and garden.

After last summer's success I've spent many a moment this winter dreaming of the additions I can make this year.

Lettuce? Almost definitely.

Garlic? Quite possibly.

Potatoes? Still debating.

Cucumber? Nope. Not after discovering my sans gallbladder system objects to raw cukes.

Squash? Not sure if there's enough space.

I've been dreaming of flowers too. A vast array of colors, blooms and fragrances filling in the bare spots along the fence. A mix of annuals and perennials in varying heights and structural shapes.

The snow still lingers along the fence in places. As the sun glances off of it today, the spring equinox, I hope the dreams will soon fade and be replaced by the familiar feel of dirt under my nails.

March 19, 2009

Seeing Double

Anyone following this blog through a reader, will see a post again this weekend that they happened upon last night or today.

It wasn't supposed to publish until this weekend but for some reason it did last night. I got it sorted out but it is scheduled to go again this weekend.

So when you see it again, don't think you're going crazy. Just me messing things up.

March 18, 2009

Is There a Doctor in the House?

The toddler tornado was given playdough as a Christmas present. My OCD tendencies hadn't allowed it in the house until then.

Yeah, I know. I'm a bad mom and I really need to let go of some of my quirks now that I have a child. Baby steps though, baby steps.

We pulled it out last week when Aunt A was here, to try to cut down on toddler tantrums and try to wean her from her television addiction. KT, not Aunt A! The first day we pulled out numerous colors and I about had a heart attack and she blended purple, pink and aqua. I fared much better on subsequent attempts when I only let her play with one color at a time.

I quickly discovered that playdough is not my forte. My sculpting talents are minimal and the smell is noxious. Thankfully my sister was here and has a much, much more prolific artistic ability than me.

Like so many other children, KT is fascinated with playdough. Smooshing it between her stubby fingers, throwing it across the kitchen and sticking it on her face. She especially enjoys destroying anything that I have made in an attempt to fulfill her requests. Every time we sit at the table to play with it we easily kill an hour.

Unfortunately, I discovered after 3 days of playdough fun, that it is apparently a HUGE trigger of my eczema. Huge.

So either I keep a stash of rubber gloves on hand to protect my hands in the future or I effectively hide all playdough containers during the day so I'm not expected to play.

I don't think a doctor's note would allow me to opt out of this activity, do you?

March 17, 2009

Long Road to Idaho

Last weekend prompted a multi-purpose trip down to Utah. On the agenda was taking my visiting sister back to the airport, hitting the Sportsman's Expo we used to frequent and catching up with friends.

After 48 hours of fast-food, toddler tantrums and beautiful weather, my mind wandered as we headed back north on Sunday. As I stared at the lackluster, late-winter mountainsides out the window I began to reflect on our time in Idaho and out West in general.

It's been almost 9 years since we packed up and left Wisconsin; almost 3 since we left Utah. Over that span of 103 months we've made our fair share of trips to visit people. There have been trips with purposes such as weddings, funerals, work and/or holidays. And there have been spur of the moment trips with no agenda other than just to visit. Some have been road trips, some by air; some have been quick trips and others more extended visits. I've lost track of the amount of times I've traveled although I'm sure that some could tell me exactly how many times I've come to visit them on my jaunts through their neck of the woods.

Instead of reflecting on the great trips we've made, and the awesome times we've had when people visit us, I got hung up on what hasn't happened. The trips that haven't been made.

It makes me sad to think that none of our friends from the 6 years we spent in Utah have come to visit us since we left. Everyone always says that we should make plans and we constantly remind them that they're welcome to visit anytime but the offer is never taken up. Phone calls or face to face conversations always mention how long it's been and how the next visit should occur over a shorter span of time.

I know that lives are busy and schedules/finances can be tight but it certainly makes me feel like no one misses us. That we're not worth a weekend trip to come visit. I guess you're never too old for insecurities to pop up.

I know too that we were the ones to make the decisions to move. That it was our choice to pick up and put ourselves so far away from friends and family. For that reason, we do feel that it is our obligation to head to Michigan for holidays, weddings and spur of the moment trips when finances and vacation time permits.

It certainly would be nice though to feel like we were important to others. That the relationships we have (or did have) warrant a trip now and then.

March 9, 2009

In Disbelief

We made it -- with under 3 minutes to go before the deadline. I honestly didn't believe it was going to happen. The girl who did the submission said she's never had one go in so smoothly (once they were ready to submit it). I guess after everything else, we were due for something to go correctly.

I still can't believe we managed to actually get it in.

Living by the Title

I'm faced time and time again with the fact that I am NOT a patient person. I do not handle it well when I have to wait on things that are out of my control.

One of the subcontracting agencies has their paperwork completed and has issued a letter of support. The one that didn't get their paperwork in until Friday -- they're the one we're waiting on.

I called one of the collaborators 30 minutes ago and he was checking on the status. We have about 150 minutes until it's due.

My stomach is starting to churn. I need to walk away from the computer and find something to occupy my time.

March 6, 2009

Grasping at Straws

I discovered late this afternoon (Thursday that is, I have yet to go to bed) that one of the subcontracting agencies has NOT turned in the necessary paperwork to their research office. Without a letter of approval from them, our research office will not submit the grant.

We have less than 2 business days to get all of the appropriate department and college signatures and then hope our little hearts out that their research office will turn it over quickly and process a letter of support. It needs to be done insanely quickly. Someone said they are owed a favor. I'm not sure if they're owed that big or not.

If you're the betting kind, I'd say the odds are highly stacked against me right now.

I'm about to see 120 hours of work, crammed into 10 days, go right down the toilet.

I can't even begin to describe how nauseous this makes me.

March 4, 2009

Just Short of Empty

The grant application package got submitted to the campus research office yesterday. Now they look it over and after approval, officially submit it to the USDA. Then we wait for an answer and hope for funding.

I'm tired. Exhausted might be a better descriptor, but I doubt that really covers it fully. Working 80+ hour weeks and getting 2-3 hours a sleep at night does not agree with me anymore. This was much easier before.

On top of the grant application's pending submission, I have a manuscript that is due on Friday. It's about 50% done already but I need to finish writing it and get revisions by the other cooperators. My guess is that it won't make Friday's deadline. I could probably get it written by the deadline but I certainly can't get revisions turned around that quickly.

Finding the motivation to work on the manuscript is the first obstacle. I think I've already drained the tank.

1 out of 2 ain't bad though. Right?

February 23, 2009

Turn Up the Hearing Aid

Lately, I feel like much of what I say has fallen on deaf ears.

Are my emails circling around in cyberspace, unable to reach their destination inbox?

Did my voicemail messages get recorded over by subsequent callers?

I'd yell louder but I'm already hoarse from all of the verbal and written requests. Sometimes the squeaky wheel doesn't get the grease.

February 21, 2009

The Annual Insanity

In December I typically start checking in on federal grant opportunities that could fit our funding needs. I diligently watch for their anticipated openings and requests for applications (RFA), preparing project ideas in the hope that something will come along that is applicable to us.

Why do I watch them so closely? Why do I willingly subject myself to the insanity that ensues when we reach an agreement to submit an application?

The month it takes to write/submit a grant application is truly hell. The few days before deadlines being the worst. I forgo family activities on the weekends and survive on copious amounts of caffeine, with an occasional jolt of exasperation-fueled energy. I complain the entire time that I'm working my tail off to get it done. Shaking my head, cursing everyone involved and wondering why I continue to put forth so much work. Wondering why I work so hard to make up for the delays of others.

After everything is said and done, I think my mind and body block out the month of hell that I endure. Each year I agree to do it all over gain; I continue to work all hours of the day and night to overcompensate for colleagues that are slow to respond to my requests. I work 70+ hour weeks to make sure all of the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. Because honestly government grant applications are the worst to submit.

This year, the ante has been raised. With the change in numerous government facets came a delay in the disbursement of funds for various programs (the USDA included). This was exacerbated by the turnover of political parties. Many announcements were under the threat of not opening at all due to appropriation of funds. Fortunately some are opening, albeit much later than normal.

Unfortunately, these later announcements are coupled with a shorter time span between the opening and closing date. Meaning the insanity that typically goes along with writing these applications is intensified. My deadlines are tighter than ever. Couple that with an increased need for this grant to be funded (the project I'm on is done in a couple of months and there is no more funding for my position unless I secure more) and it's easy to see why the insanity is frenetic.

You'd think that I'd learn my lesson, but it appears as if I don't. Maybe this explains a great deal in my life...

February 19, 2009

One Step Closer to Diamond

Next year is the first of the "big" anniversaries -- 10 years. I'm saying the same thing today that I've said every February 9th for the last 8 calendar years.

I truly wonder how 9 years has gone by so quickly. It seems as though just yesterday we were a couple of bright-eyed, energetic kids walking down the aisle.

At 21 I thought I had all the answers. I was scared to death and incredibly excited to get married. I looked forward to spending the rest of my days with C, hoping that we'd stand the test of time and grow old together.

Now at 30, I know I don't even come close to having all the answers. The bright eyes that shed tears of joy 9 years ago shine a little less brightly now out of exhaustion and are softened by wrinkles. But I still look forward to spending the rest of my days with my husband by my side.

With 9 years of discussions, arguments and laughter on our matrimonial resume I have a stronger faith that we'll stand the test of time and grow old together. We have undoubtedly conquered the growing old together aspect, as both of us are beginning to show some wear and I have certainly learned for us, wedded bliss doesn't always come easy. Some days it takes much more work than others. Without a doubt though, there is no one else I'd rather work so hard for.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

February 17, 2009

The Perks

Over the last few days, I've come to realize that the perks of DH's job do help to outweigh some of the negatives. There are still things I'd change -- things that I don't understand at all -- but I think I'd begun focusing too much on the bad and not at all on the benefits.

One of the big perks is our product allotment. The employees of the company are given a specified amount to use on products monthly. Considering his company encompasses nutritional supplements, personal care products, home cleaners and OTC medicines this equates to a huge savings for us.

The more I got to think about it, the more I realized how much of an impact it does has on our life. And my grocery bill!

Just briefly, here's a list of the company's products that we DO use:

Health Products
  • vitamins
  • calcium supplements
  • fiber supplements
  • protein bars/shakes
  • performance bars/shakes
  • weight management bars/shakes
Personal Care Products
  • body wash
  • handsoap
  • lotion
  • lip balm
  • facial cleanser, scrub, masks, acne treatment, moisturizer
  • makeup remover
  • cosmetics
  • shave gel
Home Cleaners
  • laundry detergent
  • fabric softener
  • stain remover
  • color safe laundry brightener
  • dishsoap
  • dishwasher detergent
  • glass cleaner
  • multi-purpose surface cleaner (both liquid and in wipes)
  • disinfectant
  • daily shower cleaner
  • soap scum and hard water remover, aka bathroom cleaner
  • 3in1 cleaner for "tough" projects
OTC Medicines
  • antifungal cream
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • cold medicine, both daytime and nighttime formulas
  • cough medicine
  • cough drops
  • allergy medicine
  • antibiotic cream
  • pain relieving cream for sore muscles
  • antacid
  • acetaminophen
  • acetaminophen with sleep aid
  • ibuprofen
  • first aid topical gel
  • tea tree oil
  • candles
  • home & linen sprays

The only products we do buy instead of using the company's:
  • hair care
  • toothpaste & mouthwash
  • deodorant
  • after shave

Yikes! Typing it all out definitely makes more of an impact than just seeing it in the cupboards.

February 13, 2009

A Day Late and More than a Dollar Short

Yesterday marks 3 years that I've been blogging. In that 1095 days (yes, I accounted for leap year last year) I've published 274 pots.

That's just under 1 post every 4 days. Not the greatest odds, I'll admit.

My frequency waxes and wanes in correlation to the craziness of life. Sometimes when I'm the most stressed I blog more; sometimes when I'm the most stressed I don't even think about blogging for days.

This blog has evolved over the last 3 years. It started as a place to just talk about the day to day happenings of life. The who, what, when, where, why and how. Now it's mainly just a place for me to express myself. To have an outlet when I need to vent and a place to laugh when my 12 year old humor kicks in. I can't guarantee a record number of posts or even great posts at that. But I can promise that I'll continue to plod along and periodically churn out something that hopefully clues you in a little more on the quirkiness that defines me.

So here's to another year, new posts and a journey that's yet to unfold.

February 10, 2009

Grossly Fascinating

They feel like some ancient form of chinese torture. The pain is enough to make my eyes water as I slowly separate their adhesive layer from my skin. It leaves the affected area sore and sometimes red for a good hour, post-removal. But I find myself fascinated with looking at what others would surely deem as gross -- what this torture device has actually removed from my face.

To someone who cannot leave their skin alone (fellow "pickers" know what I mean) Biore's pore cleansing strips are a fantastic invention.

And yes, I know this is more than you want to know about me.

January 21, 2009

Today's Challenge

If you choose to accept it, is simple.

Take a day and try to do as many mundane/routine tasks as possible using your non-dominant hand.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

Included in that list of things to try:
  • brushing your teeth
  • wielding toilet paper
  • pouring whatever morning beverage you partake in (coffee, juice, tea, water, milk)
  • drinking whatever beverage you partake in
  • spreading butter/jam/peanut butter on a slice of toast
  • zipping your jacket

And the best part of all? Try doing the following with ONLY the non-dominant hand
  • putting your contacts in
  • changing your underwear
  • pulling your hair back into a ponytail
  • tying your shoes
  • washing your hair
  • shaving (I was only brave enough to attempt my armpits and just let me say that it's really hard to shave your left pit with the razor in your left hand)
  • applying deodorant

I was too tired to even try anything such as actually styling my hair, putting makeup on or wielding anything that could be dangerous (i.e. kitchen knives). There was a serious lacking in motivation too but it sounds better to mention the fatigue first. For all you know, I could make sure to be properly coiffed and beautified at all times, no matter my personal state.

Truth be told, there's just something about having an IV in the crook of the elbow on your dominant arm that really makes life challenging.

Oh, yeah! Don't forget to try to take a picture of said elbow only using non dominant hand. One hand only. So you must hold the camera stable in your hand and push the shutter button as well. Turn off the flash as you're so close to the object that it washes everything out, thus making you hold incredibly still to compensate for the slow shutter speed.

And no, for those of you even thinking about FORMING the thoughts. KT is NOT going to be a big sister. This is not some creative way of saying that hyperemesis is once again kicking my oversized butt.

January 20, 2009

Conversations Through the Fog

As the lortab fog settled in around me this morning, I caught bits of the following conversation. Perhaps my drug induced state made it funnier to me that it really was.

KT: *ring*, *ring*

C: "Hello."

KT: "Hi, Dad."

C: "How are you?"

KT: "How you doing? Whatcha up to?"

KT: "I'm okay."

C: "Good. I hear you have no pants on."

KT: "Yup."

C: "How come?"

KT: "Because."

C: "Because, why?"

KT: "I peed."

C: "Oh, really. Was it a good pee?"

KT: "Yup. Talk to you later. Bye."

Don't worry -- Dad was on parenting duty today to allow me to enjoy the lortab. They were sitting here playing with the old cell phones.

January 18, 2009

3 Needles and a Cup

After all of the urine sample excitement on Thursday, the nurse practitioner prescribed me a run of the mill antibiotic for the bladder infection, told me to drink lots of fluids and sent me on my merry way.

Friday I woke up with a dull ache in the right side of my back. No biggie -- lugging 30 pounds of a toddler around lends itself to random back pain. I figured I'd just torqued something wrong and would feel better after some ibuprofen. By Friday night the pain had gotten considerably worse and I crawled into bed with the heating pad shortly after C got home from work.

I knew that this week had been a doozy and was hoping a good night's rest would make me feel better.

Nope, not the case. I woke up yesterday even more sore than the night before and fighting a raging migraine. By 5pm the headache was gone and the backache seemed manageable. I forced myself to shower and accompany C and KT to dinner with some friends.

As the minutes ticked by, the pain intensified. I took deep breaths and tried to find a comfortable sitting position that eased the discomfort. Nothing I did, no way I moved helped. After 20 minutes in the truck (and only 5 minutes from our destination) a wave of pain unlike anything I've ever felt washed over me. As I tightly gripped the doorhandle, I told C to pull over immediately. In 23 degree Idaho weather, as cars whizzed by at 65mph, I steadied myself against the cold metal of the pickup and wretched.

Without much prompting, C turned the truck back towards town and called to see if the Urgent Care clinic was still open.

A quick physical assessment, a blood draw and a much more uneventful urine sample later- (the wee one stayed in the exam room with her father)-it was evident the antibiotic from Thursday was not working. The infection had spread to my kidneys.

Lucky me got to drop my drawers and was stuck in both cheeks -- 1 needle poke for the antibiotic and 1 for the zofran to stop the vomiting. One benefit was that the pain in my a$$ from the antibiotic helped to take my mind off of the back pain! Small victories, I suppose. 3 prescriptions and over an hour later (Walgreens SUCKS at 8pm on a Saturday night) and I was settled back in my own bed and feeling somewhat better.

I've been instructed to rest, drink lots of fluids and go back to the Urgent Care this afternoon for round 2 of the antibiotics. Thankfully, this time I have a nice reserve of lortab in my system.

January 15, 2009

A Motherly Request

Dear Doctor:

As a concerned patient in your incredibly busy practice, I imagine that this letter were be glanced over and promptly discarded in the biohazard container for disposal. I feel though that the absurd money that my insurance company doles out to you allows me to send this correspondence.

Let me preface this by saying your office is beautiful. One of the nicest doctor's offices I have ever set foot in. The furniture is beautifully upholstered, the granite counter tops at the reception area sparkle under the recessed canned lights and the fresh flowers are always a nice touch. I always feel as though my scuffed tennis shoes and over worn blue jeans are not up to par for a visit to your establishment.

The bathrooms though are really the piesta de resistance. The exquisite tiled floors, the hardwood cherry cabinets and changing table and the beautiful shiny fixtures! Oh, the fixtures! None so intriguing as the eye catching levered door handles in distressed rustic pewter. Any door hardware connoisseur would quickly appreciate the beauty in such a piece.

What a wonderful, comforting environment you create for your patients as you require them to provide specimens for you! What thoughtfulness!

Urine samples are not at the top of my list of fun things to do on a Thursday morning. Or any day of the week for that matter. I understand your need for a "clean" sample though so I comply with your request. I've worked quality control in the past -- contamination is a serious issue. So I dutifully prep everything the way it should be. I write my name on the specimen cup with the super fat sharpie marker, wash my hands, tear open the "prep" pad and unscrew the lid on the cup.

As I begin undoing my belt I warn the small one that she needs to stand nicely on the scale until mommy is done.

I steel myself for the coldness of alcohol wipes on my girl parts and the barrage of questions that are about to spill past the lips of a child. As I position the cup for collection and focus on my aim, out of the corner of my eye I see a flash of movement as she heads for the door.

That beautiful, shiny levered door with only a push button lock! Oh, God!

As sweetly as I can, I hiss at her not to touch the door handle and to get back on the scale. With one eye I'm trying to watch her; the other is trying to oversee the ever so delicate procedure that has dictated the need for the appointment at the office to begin with. Heaven help me if I pee all over myself! The thought flashes through my mind as her hand reaches for the lever. There's no way I can stop midstream and if I dump this sample I'm toast. There is no way on this green earth that I can endure this pain again within the next 30 minutes. Mind you, I'm there for a bladder infection and even the thought of trying to pee makes me feel as though I'm pushing shards of glass through my bladder and urethra.

Do I grab the child, foregoing the needed urine sample before she can get it unlocked? Or do I continue on my merry specimen collecting ways and pray with all my quickly beating heart that no one is standing on the other side of the door when it swings open?

I look down frantically and hope that the 1/4" in the bottom of the cup will suffice, set the cup hastily on the floor out of harm's way and lunge for the door. All while trying to keep my nether regions scantily covered by the hem of my shirt. There is no time to cover myself completely. As my knees straighten, I hear the deafening click of the lock unlatching and see the door begin to push outwards. I can feel myself go white with dread and red with embarrassment all at once.

The sliver of light between the door itself and its jam widens quickly to about an inch and then stops! By the grace of God I am saved! Hallelujah! Well, actually by the grace of your nurse who could overhear the conversation and quickly got her foot in front of the door as she heard it unlock, I was saved!

As a mother of a curious toddler, I plead with you that retrofit your beautiful restrooms with deadbolt latches at chest height. Or just deadbolt latches in general. Yes, I understand that it will detract from the elegant look you are trying to achieve but I promise it will increase customer satisfaction considerably. Your office is frequented by women -- many with small children -- so I imagine that I'm not the first to have felt the color drain from my face as that latch was popped free. As uncomfortable as trips to your office can be at times, I would prefer to not expose myself to innocent people in your beautifully decorated hallways. I would imagine that they prefer not to be exposed to my femaleness in all its glory either.

Your Truly,
Just Shy of Mortification in Idaho

A Decade

10 years ago today I left on a flight out of Detroit Metro Airport that substantially altered the course of my life.

It's so hard to believe that it's been 10 years since I left for Nepal. On one hand it seems like just yesterday, but yet it seems so long ago as well. My memories are starting to fade like the pages in an old novel.

Backpacker magazine had a really great spread on hiking Nepal's Annapurna Circuit in their recent issue (March 2009 -- "The Perfect Circle"). As I read through the pages on Monday night the words swam before me, blurring the text into black swirls. I could hear the clamor in the teahouses at meal times, smell the passing herds of yaks on the trail and feel the cotton threads of prayer flags between my fingers.

For the first time, I cried mainly because of the things I couldn't remember. I spent the better part of Monday night trying to piece together our trekking trip -- trying to recreate our route by leafing through journal entries and staring at maps. But there are holes. Gaps of information that I can't fill anymore. It's bittersweet.

I was so busy living that I didn't take the time to write it all down. I figured that I'd never forget. Yeah, I kept a journal when I was there but it wasn't detailed about day to day activities. I didn't write down exactly what I did, where I went, what we ate. It talked about what I thought was important -- how I was changing as a person, things that I missed from home and how the trip was compared to what I thought it would be.

I suppose that the best memories will always be ingrained in my mind and my heart. I can use what I have written to help fill in the gaps, but I'll have to deal with the holes. Such is life.

If you're interested in reading more about the trip (in case you haven't been following along for long), you can read excerpts here, here, here, here and here.

January 12, 2009

One of the Guys

The truck console read a balmy 34 degrees as the tires crunched across the ice in the parking lot. I pulled on my stocking hat, adjusted my sunglasses and zipped my jacket up as far as it would go.

As I jumped out of the pickup I was greeted by a blast of arctic air. Although the sky was clear and the sun shone brightly, the chill in the wind was enough to make you look for shelter quickly.

The breeze carried on it a scent all too familiar, yet longingly distant as well. It had been almost 4 years since I had smelt the acrid plumes of gunpowder (shotgun that is). Way too long for my taste. Like so many other things, getting out to shoot is more difficult as a parent.

Within about 20 minutes, the trap course was cleared and we were ready to go. My hands shook as I fitted my plugs into my ears. I wondered how badly I could suck in front of these guys. If they'd snicker and wonder why I even pulled my gun out of the safe.

To my left, C yelled "pull" and I saw the barrel of his 12 gauge raise in the corner of my eye. In front of us the vividly orange clay target exploded into a puff of dust.

I took a deep breath, chambered a round, and yelled "pull". As the target began its arc across the frozen landscape, I felt the familiar surge of adrenaline. I caught up to the flying orange disk with my sights and squeezed. As I ejected the spent cartridge onto the ground, my nervousness danced away on the wind with the smoke trail of ignited gunpowder.

I was back on the range. And back on my game.

I shot like I'd never taken a break. Holding my own with all 4 of the guys who stood at the trap line with me. We shot 3 complete rounds (each being 25 target/person) of trap yesterday. Each round I consistently hit 75% of my targets and was one of top 2 shooters at the line. No one could believe that I hadn't been out in 4 years. The guys in the clubhouse were trying to sign me up for league shooting this summer in between rounds.

As always, C cursed that I could "come off the couch and kick his a$$". One of the benefits to being a woman I guess.

January 8, 2009

Are You 12?

Me: "Do you really think that's a good idea?"

C: "I guess based on that question, you don't think it's a good idea. Obviously considering I was about to do it, I personally thought it was. It's only the plastic cover."

Me: "Yeah. That is soooo white trash."

C laughs and walks away.

30 seconds later he walks back into the kitchen with rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. He wipes the protective covering on the Macbook and promptly slaps a sticker for the Uinta Brewing Company on the upper corner of the lid.

Me: "Did you realize that you were 12, twenty years ago??"

C: "You married me."

And he walks away while I sit shaking my head.