Saturday, October 30, 2010

Breaking News

I adore my FSIL. She's awesome. Gorgeous, funny, warm, not intimidated by the crazy of our family. And my brother is totally head over heels in love with her.

Happy, happy sighs.

Oh, and I had the best, best, best dinner ever last night. Crab bisque so good I wanted to drink it by the gallon.

And the Spurs are playing right now, as I type. And since we're home, we get local coverage.

Lovely, despite being sick.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

So it's been awhile.

I'm busy.

I've been ill.

I'm busy.

There was a horrible fright at work, which I am assured is nowhere near as drastic or grave as I thought it was. Otherwise, things proceed apace. I'm settling in, and looking around a bit in wonder at how on earth I managed to fall into this job. Much as I complain and am fearful about it . . . I started this line of work not even three years ago with zero experience or training, and now I've fallen into my current position and it's astonishing. I guess I'm doing all right after all. Never would have predicted this five years ago, but that can be said about much of my life, really.

I'm busy.

I'm tired.

Illness takes a lot of me. I perhaps ought have taken another day off, but the two I took nearly did me in - I'm piled under work and deadlines, but hanging in.

There's not much to say, really. I'm doing fine. I've lost a couple of pounds (the scale says 6-7, actually, but I know I've not been getting enough to drink the last couple of days, so I think that's not so accurate).

There was a fugitive hunt through my townhome complex - dogs searched our patio and there were police officers with guns drawn right outside my window as helicopters circled overhead. Don't know if they caught the guy or not.

We thought Barney got out of the house, but a frantic, tear-filled search turned him up nonchalantly resting under the bed, annoyed at the fuss.

The NBA season started for the Spurs yesterday, and it was a fun, entertaining game.

I went to the opera, and learned that I am really more of a football and beer sort of person.

I've started two or three thoughtful sort of exploratory posts and haven't had the energy to finish them. Maybe soon.

I'm going home this weekend to see my brother, who has returned from Iraq. He's bringing his fiancee, and I'm so excited to see him and meet her. I don't know quite when it happened (when I wasn't looking, I expect), but my brother has become such an awesome person. I just adore him.

DH is well. I'm well. That is well.

I could use a few more hours in the day though. Mostly for sleep.

Hope you are also well, wherever you are.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Conversation

Just held in my house.

Scene: We are flipping channels, between football, baseball playoffs and a re-run of The Unit. I comment on how that was a good show that would have been much better without all the army wife/family B plot. We agree. Make joke about house flipping, the topic of discussion by army wives in B plot. I riff on the show, and jab at one woman in particular.

Him: To be fair, I always hated Tiffy and Mac. But Molly got kidnapped! And it was all a Unit plot!

Me: Ugh, whatever. You would think that after all her patronizing scolding of other, lesser Unit wives, she could suck up a tiny kidnapping where she wasn't even hurt.

Him: How would you feel if you were held captive and your husband refused to walk away after that? Hmmmm?

Me: Whatever, the whole thing was lame.

Him: Well, I for one would walk away from *Place of Employment* if you were ever taken hostage as a result of something *Place of Employment* did. So there.

Me: That's sweet and all, but dude, you'd walk away from your job for a cheeseburger. Don't act like it's a sacrifice.

Him: Who has cheeseburgers?! I want a cheeseburger. Don't make such tempting offers if you aren't going to follow up.

* * * *

And scene.

I love my husband. A whole bundle's worth.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Love you, baby.

All my lost little chickies - the hope and promise, and yes, love.

* * * *

Love you and miss you, Gabe.

Today. And every day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day - October 15th

Tomorrow is a day set aside for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. There are a lot of statistics I could throw out about the number of pregnancy losses today, and the number of infant losses, even in this era of medical marvels and miracles.

They don't mean much though. Pregnancy loss is common early on - but no less painful or tragic if you've experienced it. The loss of hope and joy that attends an early pregnancy loss is acute and painful. The innocence and peace of which a woman is robbed hurts. Pregnancy loss later on . . . well, you've seen the results of that if you've ever read my blog before. And infant loss is still so sadly common, even today, even in our nation with all the advances and options. . .

If you've lost your baby, tomorrow is a day to remember it. If you are an activist, tomorrow is a day to think about how we can encourage more research into pregnancy loss and especially stillbirths, to think about how legislation can support that, to honor programs like the March of Dimes and their efforts to encourage healthy pregnancies and reduce the number of premature births through an enormous variety of methods. If you know someone who has experienced a loss, contact them tomorrow - let them know you think of them and of their babies.

And tomorrow, at 7 pm in your timezone - light a candle in remembrance. There will be a wave of light through the world as we babylost and our friends, families and loved ones light candles in honor of our lost ones, in acknowledgement of the light they've brought into our lives.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The art of candy making

Ever made candy? Like fudge, toffee or peanut brittle? I mean the old fashioned way, where you need a candy thermometer and a glass of cold water to test the stages of the candy?

Making candy this way generally involves a lot of constant stirring and monitoring the temperature very carefully. If it gets too high for too long, it's easy to ruin the candy. The mixture gets more and more brittle the longer it's over high heat. I can tell you, for instance, that when I make English Toffee, it requires boiling for 13 minutes at a particular temperature and constant stirring. If you do it right, it's wonderful. If you don't, it's awful.

Anyway, the point is that today was a day in which I realized how delicate a balance I'm trying to maintain right now. I'm very stressed out this week. Multiple deadlines have hit at the same time, and if I could just have some time I could get caught up and get this stuff done. But there is no time. I've been hither and yon and it's exceptionally frustrating to balance the crisis of the day with the regular work that needs be done. Even more so when I am balancing what used to done by 2 people on a full-time basis, and even more yet when I am learning as I go.

Every day is an improvement, and I mean that seriously. I feel far better than when I started. Less like I'm going to fuck it all up. But I likewise know this isn't my best work. Oh, don't get me wrong, I can look myself in the mirror and tell myself honestly that I've done the best I could, but it's definitely the best I could in these circumstances, and not the best I'm capable of doing. Because, well, I'm only one person and there are only so many hours in the week. If I were performing in this way and that one department was all I was doing, it would not be good enough. Since it's not all I'm doing, I'm doing the best I can.

But I want it to be the best possible. It's terribly draining. More draining is that we're all in this boat. I'm in no way unique in my unit or hell, in the world. Do more with less. Make it work. You know? So I'm trying, we're all trying, and we're all feeling frazzled, defensive and acutely aware that nothing is quite turning out as we'd wish.

Too much time spent over heat that's too high, too much (or not enough) stirring, who knows? All I can say is that the pressure is getting to be too much.

I got 'yelled' at today - oh, not literally. This person doesn't raise their voice. But called out, taken to task, whatever. In front of others. And you know what? It wasn't totally uncalled for. It mostly was - another department fucked up. And I can't control that. And I ought to have followed up more quickly than I did. But I didn't. Because I'm swamped. And it was all I could do not to cry. I mean, tears in my eyes, burning throat and everything.

I took a moment to gather myself and to blink, and I wrote to Dh that "I felt like I was going to snap, I was stretched so thin and felt so brittle." And I've been close all week.

The balance is off. I have thought since Monday that if I could only just get more time to work at night/at home, I could get caught up and be ok. But last night, I was locked out. I tried to connect remotely, but it didn't work because my computer went into sleep mode and locked down. How that happened, when I was able to remote in all weekend is beyond me. DH told me to take it as a sign that I needed a break - something echoed by my supervisor today when I apologized for not getting more done.

And again tonight - I brought everything home to work, only to find that the internet was out for us. A problem with our broadband connection. This time, instead of fretting for three hours, and alternating between stress and relief and frustration, I shrugged and hopped on Aunt Beast. 20 minutes. Awesome. It's shameful how hard that is, but I did it.

And of course, right before I get ready to go to bed after a bit of fluffy writing, I see that the internet connection appears to be restored. And so it is.

You think it's a sign that I need to work harder at the balance? I'm both amused and exasperated, but either way I'm taking the hint. Off to bed for me, and a massive push tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For the record

I lost a full two pounds overnight.

That is why I traditionally weigh myself in the morning.

Also, that means it's slightly more palatable.

Sophistry has it's uses, my friends.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Things so rarely go as planned.

The new elliptical?

Broke. A mere 20 hours after that picture was taken.

I was seriously frustrated and wanted little more than to be 3 years old and able to throw (physically) the temper tantrum raging in my head. Also, I wanted an adult to fix my toy and make it all better.

Once it sunk in that I was the adult here, I sniffled a bit, called my mom and wailed about the injustices of being the adult here and why didn't she warn me this is what it was all about? Oh, wait. . .. Then my husband stepped up and offered to handle it for me.

Which he did, the following day. We'd discovered a crack and a piece of non-integral plastic appeared to have fallen into a very integral part of the machinery. Well, that's why we paid more - to have a warranty, right? We took pictures and everything.

Didn't need them though - this store believes in good customer service, and the first person DH spoke with was nice enough, taking the details and arranging for their service specialist to come take a look and determine whether it could be fixed in home or not.

Less than an hour later, the store manager - who incidentally sold us the machine - called personally to double check the details, apologized profusely, assured DH that a) this was unacceptable and that b) there is nothing we could have done in the span of 36 hours to break the machine. He immediately offered to replace the unit with another exactly like it, at no charge to us.


The new and improved version (in that it's working) arrived today. Seemed already to be smoother than the other, confirming that there was something wrong with the other machine. Except this one was weirdly not recording any information and kept pausing. I was getting ready to throw an actual temper tantrum, when it occurred to me that maybe unplugging it and replugging it might reset it.

It worked.

So did I.

But I was a little scared the entire time that it would break. We heard a little noise - later confirmed to be the sound that is natural when reaching the longest stride - but generally ok. But I was nervous. Because after AB1 had broken, I had to confront my fear that I might actually be over the weight limit for this machine.

I confided my fear to DH. He suggested we go buy a scale to know for sure.

I didn't like that idea at all. He suggested this would bug me until I knew. I gave in. We bought a new scale. It's quite fancy - tells you all sorts of things, provided you stand on it the right way, for an appropriate length of time and touch your nose with your left ring finger or something equally complicated.

The good news: I do not exceed the weight limit of the machine.

The bad news: Even though I knew it already, I cannot avoid the fact that I am at my highest recorded weight ever.


But! We are working to change that, and Aunt Beast (2) is going to help me with that. This week's short-term goal is to get on every day. Try to do 20 minutes. Do at least 10. Soon I should be up to a consistent 20. Once I hit that goal, we try to add short increments until I'm consistently doing 30 minutes a day. Then we add 5 minutes until I'm at 45 minutes a day. Then an hour. My Tier 1 goal is 1 hour, four times a week. If I could do that - coupled with 20-30 minutes on 'off' days, I think I'll be doing really well. I have no firm timeline placed on that, but I have a tentative goal for that. Depending on how life works.

You know how rarely things go to plan though, so as I'm learning with my job, flexibility is key here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I call it Aunt Beast.

My new toy arrived.

I call her Aunt Beast, for lo, she is sort of huge and monstrous. And can kick my ass.

But I sort of love her.

(note for anyone interested: it's a Nautilus EV718. we got a super-sweet deal because it was a floor-model. not brand new, but still came with full warranty.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Little Things

They moved my mailbox at work.

Allow me to explain.

It's been in the same place since I started. Bottom left hand corner. In three years, I've developed a habit of quick-scanning it to see what's in it and might need attention.

Perhaps it's worth interjecting that I've moved offices. Again. I tried to diagram all the moves for someone today and it fairly well resembles a weird star shape. This is my 4th or 5th space since I started. Surprisingly, for sharing an office, as I will be doing starting next week, the space feels about as it did in my last office, down to where our assistant is going to be placed. Kind of funny, really. So yeah, that's been going on. The only real downside is that my back is to the door (HATE) and my monitor's are wide open and in plain sight. Not that I'm looking at porn at work or anything! Just a bit annoying. Still, it could be worse.

But back to the mailbox.

Yeah, I went to my other department, as I do everyday and when I returned to my new office, I gave my box a glance. There was weird stuff in it. I set my things down and walked back and frowned. It took a moment, but I did eventually realize the problem was that my box is not where it used to be. It's been moved to the fake-box area where it used to be shelving and doesn't have dividers.

The person who is taking over the responsibilities I used to have (as I've been moved to bigger/better? responsibilities) has my old box.

I started to bitch about the change on twitter . . .

. . . and then I paused.

Because I realized that if the thing I most have to bitch about is my mailbox being moved? Things are going pretty well for me right now.

And you know what? Things are going pretty well for me right now. I'm happy (finally) with the direction at work. My new chair is very happy with me, my supervisors are happy with me, I'm catching up on my learning curve, things are settling down.

Home life isn't perfect (is it ever?), but it too is pretty good. I got past a block on some writing. We're slowly getting the house cleaned up. The animals are doing ok - though Jonah is dealing with allergies, poor thing. And I've got a new toy coming soon (more on that later).

We've reached a place of peace with trying to conceive - we're not. Not for a couple of cycles, anyway. And it's a decision - that while hard when I'm actually fertile, even excruciating because we keep thinking 'What if is this is our last/only chance? Oh, dear god' - that we are pretty comfortable with right now. Part of this is hoping to avoid being heavily pregnant/potentially on bedrest/out on leave during the busiest time of the fiscal year. I am also setting a serious goal about a weight I'd like to be at before ttc again. I am hopeful we can start ttc again in December, but we'll see when we get there.

I feel good with this decision for now. There is a bit of relief in there at a break. On the whole - well, my mailbox got moved at work today. And that's just about the biggest complaint in my life. Which means I've got a pretty nice life right now.

I hope the same is true for all of you. Cheers!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Five Years Ago

It was a warm day, and despite my best efforts, very little seemed to be going according to plan. Everyone expected had arrived and the chairs and tables and decorations were being set up and we were rushing through a rehearsal without the musicians and 2 members of the bridal party. My bridesmaid and her husband (the musician) would arrive in another 2 hours, having driven from Dallas after playing a wedding the night before. The other member of the bridal party - the best man - would not show up. His attendance had always been an uncertainty, which had faded to a dim hope following Hurricane Katrina - his unit was stationed in New Orleans to provide disaster relief and his request for a 2 day pass was denied.

But it was ok. We got through a quick rehearsal, we went and ate the rehearsal lunch. My bridesmaids and I went to get our hair done, and again my plans didn't go well. I ended up going last and being about an hour and a half late and very frazzled. Fortunately, our clever friends and my darling husband managed to figure out how to set up the table decorations without my guidance, and the cake lady graciously left the cake and agreed to accept payment the next day when my mother was not at the site in time to give her the check.

The afternoon was boiling hot, and our wedding pictures were done in shade and hurriedly (both because of shortened time caused by my delay and because of the heat). I wish I'd managed to get more/better pictures, but alas.

I remember the dress and how rushed I felt and how warm. It did eventually cool off as the sun set, and a breeze picked up. Such a breeze in fact that our floral arrangements at the alter blew over (being dried flowers in keeping with the autumnal 'theme' and not very weighty), and our tapers for the unity candle wouldn't light. They were supposed to have been symbolically lit at the beginning of the ceremony, but we finally gave up and tried again during the point in the ceremony at which the unity candle was lit. A groomsman trying to help by shielding the candle from wind with his hand nearly got a bad burn and while we got the unity candle lit, it lasted for about 10 seconds. The preacher, my friend J, made a joke about the presence of the Spirit of God.

I remember that I didn't notice the music being off until I watched the video later. I remember the relief when we got started, and how nervous I was until that moment. Not about getting married - we'd lived together for four months by then and had surpassed what we thought was the biggest test ever after DH's depression spilled over into a suicide attempt, his family tried to separate us (blaming me for the depression), and we spent five and a half months apart from each other. After that, we knew what we wanted and it was to be together, so we were. I just didn't know if his family might show up after all, and if so, whether they'd cause a scene. (They did not appear. And five years later, that is all water under the bridge. We're fine now, and I think they believe we love each other. And I think there is regret about not being at their son's/brother's wedding).

I remember that I couldn't keep the smile off my face when I saw DH. And that I was in such a rush, I handed off my bouquet and we held hands way too early and so had to stand there holding hands while J gave the sermon. I remember the soft smile on his face and the look of relief and happiness in his eyes. I remember the commotion when I saw the groomsmen stiffen up and frantically try to subtly get someone's attention - I later found out that the Spirt of God wind had blown a tablecloth up and over a centerpiece (a glass bowl with a votive candle inside) and the tablecloth caught fire. The wedding party was the only group that could see it, but their actions caught the attention of someone in the back who resolved the issue before there was a major disaster. I still have the tablecloth somewhere, with my bouquet, veil and the leftover programs.

I remember saying 'Yes' and 'No' and 'I do' in the right places, as we solemnly agreed that we were there to be married, that there was no impediment to our legal union (unless they objected to a Canadian marrying us - but no one ever has in five years, so . . .) and that we did agree to take each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, etc and finally getting to say our vows, which we had written together (his were the same, save for switching the names and taking me to be his wife).

"I, EAS, take you, DH, to be my husband and partner in all things. I promise to give you all that I am and accept all that you are. I promise to laugh with you and cry with you; to share your joy and ease your burdens. I promise my constant friendship and my utmost patience. I promise to turn to you first above all others. I promise to seek all the beauty you possess and strive to realize the potential you see in me. I promise to honor you with my faithfulness, to cherish you and to respect you, and to build everyday on a foundation of love. I promise before God and those here to fulfill these vows with love and devotion as long as we both shall live."

I remember that we both bobbled them a little, getting them slightly out of order, and we both laughed. I remember the aura of love and joy, glowing golden around everything, tinging my memory of the event with light. There was a great deal of laughter that night, and smiles. I remember wearing a chicken glove on my hand as DH wore a chicken on his head and we all danced the chicken dance. I remember my step-sister catching the bouquet and skipping away with it in one hand, and $5 in the other that my BIL offered her if she could get it. I remember laughing until my sides hurt as the DH and the groomsmen serenaded me with "My Girl" and the groomsmen dressing up to perform "YMCA."

The food was amazing - my dad catered. People still ask about that brisket - he smoked it himself in the backyard, and it was divine. I remember that he added green peppers to the chicken salad and even more inexplicably to the potato salad, so I could eat neither, though I spent most of dinner visiting tables and chatting and trying not to spill barbecue sauce on myself. The cake - I may never have eaten it's equal. SO wonderfully good - chocolate with cherry filling and homemade icing that must have required about 5 pounds of confectioner's sugar.

I remember my BIL driving us to the hotel we stayed at for our 'honeymoon' and how he had a hell of a time getting back to my dad's house, after he drove off without my sister following him, and how the bridal party had decorated the car - filling it with balloons and rosepetals and covering it with inappropriate writing and tying empty Lonestar cans to the bumper.

It was a beautiful day. I remember it so fondly.

But you know what? For all the preparation and planning, for all that we felt the wedding was a hugely important day (and not just for the party - the ceremony was our focus). . . we had no real idea why. I'm only seeing it now. We made these starry eyed promises to each other, and felt a bit smug because our relationship had already been tested. We'd been together long enough and through enough that we were there for each other, not for a fancy dress and cake. We thought we knew what bad was and could get through it easily enough.

We were wrong, of course.

We didn't have the first year pains that many others seem to have. I do think that we were better prepared for early marriage. We'd lived together already and had no pie-in-the-sky expectations about our relationship or what marriage should be (I will never forget that our couples counselors looked at each other in bafflement and actually asked at the end of the first session why we were there, lol).

But we were in no way prepared for the direction our lives would take and the tragedies that lurked outside our field of vision. I'm proud that we have survived intact, that we weathered the storms together, that we didn't let each other drown. But it's only now that I can see the gravity of the promises we made and the real leap of faith we took when we made them. I'm glad that he is my husband. I'm glad to be his wife.

Five years ago, I had no idea what I was agreeing to, and five years later, I'm ok with that, and with where we are. I still love this man, even more than I did then. I'm proud to have had our son with him. I'm interested to see what comes next.

Well, what comes after lunch, anyhow.