Thursday, May 29, 2008

Please help today

Please click over to Allison (aka AMS) and help make today her new best ever. Just click... if you chose not to read that is fine but clicking today the 29th will help her move forward a bit. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back from the land of red dirt. It was a nice and relaxing trip while at the same time being one of the hardest things I have had to do recently. I have come to believe that no matter how long it is, I am still going to sob uncontrollably at times when I think of my father. I guess I am okay with that. I have a wicked sunburn and came home to the nights still in the 40's and the days not much warmer. WTH is up with that... it will be June by Saturday.

We did some fun stuff and some traditional Memorial day stuff. We were fortunate that it only rained at night. We were south of the tornadoes and the major hail storms. Though we did visit one of the towns on Saturday before the storms hit there. Fun things... we went to a Minor League Baseball game, Frank Lloyd Wright's only Skyscraper, An American West museum/art gallery, Saw Harold and Kumar 2, found the Chocolatier store that I wanted to check out, scoped out neighborhoods that we would consider moving too, and went to the Air and Space museum on our way to the airport. Not necessarily in that order.

Traditional Memorial Day stuff was going to a church service at a church that I wish we could find a duplicate of at home, attending part of the POW/Unknown soldier ceremony at the National Cemetery, and attending the full Memorial day service at the National Cemetery. I finally was able to say... ok let's leave. I had a real hard time doing that-- if I hadn't at the time that I did probably would have stayed until dark. It was a very hard day for me and in the end I don't really feel any better. I thought I would obtain some closure over seeing my father's headstone but unfortunately that does not seem to be the case. I have made a lot of progress over the past few years... my grief is no longer the forefront of my life but there are many days that I find myself in tears over something silly. I can only pray that now I will be able to find the strength to tackle the junk room and go through the boxes that we shipped home of his stuff. Most of it is probably garbage at this point but his honor flag is in a box in there somewhere and I really should get it out.

My father was not proud of his military service. He was not proud of the Army during the war he served in or when he returned. He pretended to be when I was a kid. He even got dressed in his uniform and presented slides of his travels to my fourth grade class but not long after that he was gone... emotionally and physically. He came back from Vietnam as an unknown broken man. Everyone, including himself, thought that he was fine. But he wasn't. He became mentally ill. By the time that he was my age he had had a stroke and had been in the psych ward for a mental break. I didn't know about the stroke until I was much older... I was just told he had a really bad headache. He made it to 53... for some reason I always say 54 but that wasn't true. I only figured that out this weekend. I also realized that I am pretty much the only one who has no ties to the military whatsoever either through my own service or my spouses. All my other cousins that are old enough have either served, are serving, or their spouses served. But me... not so much. I never even thought it an option and I am not sure why. My mom's brother was a lifer in the Airforce. All of my uncles served, my father served, and my grandfather served. None of my father's sisters were in the military though... but yet, I have a cousin who is older than me that has been in the reserves since she was 18. She may have even served in regular army but I have never even met her or knew about her until my father died. Strange... I know.

Anyhow.. I am rambling and know that I had a point but it has since escaped my brain. Thank you to those that have served and to those that are family of the military. We appreciate all that you do.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

BBBT--Wa.ter for Elep;hants

This book tour's selection was For Elep.hants by Sara Gruen. I really enjoyed this book and if you haven't read it, I recommend adding it to your to-be-read list. I picked it up on a Friday and was finished by Sunday night. The characters are very compelling and well, I love the circus so it was a fun but interesting book to read. The amount of research that the author did to ensure that the time period was accurately portrayed was very refreshing and made for a wonderful novel. Anyhow...


What is your favorite circus related memory?

I went to the circus a few times as a kid but my favorite Circus memories were at the Circus Museum in Baraboo, Wi. I got to ride an elephant. The elephant was decked out in full costume and the ride was just around the circle but being so high up and on top of a powerful animal that could at any moment just change it's mind and run wild was pretty cool for a 12 year old. But at the same time, there is something truly amazing about such a large animal that is tame enough to allow children to pull it's ears. It is one place that I would love to go back to as an adult and see just how my younger self saw things differently.

On page 109, old Jacob complains about how his family keeps secrets from him: "And those are just the things I know about. There are a host of others they don't mention because they don't want to upset me. I've caught wind of several, but when I ask questions, they clam right up. Mustn't upset Grandpa, you know... Why? That's what I want to know. I hate this bizarre policy of protective exclusion, because it effectively writes me off the page. If I don't know about what's going on in their lives, how am I supposed to insert myself in the conversation?... I've decided it's not about me at all. It's a protective mechanism for them, a way of buffering themselves against my future death..." Reading this, I could see myself in both Jacob & in his family members, both in respect to our infertility situation and other matters. Whose viewpoint do you relate to most in this passage and why?

I would have to say that it depends on the person that I am dealing with. We have some family members and others that we are more apt to share things in a more open manner but there are other family members that don't really need to know. I know that part of the reason that we aren't open with those other family members is that they are not open with us. The relationship needs to be two ways. However, when concerned with a person's age and health, while I do agree that sometimes things need a bit of a buffer, I feel that if it is something that you would have shared with them all along then it should be shared regardless of the situation. I do think that as people realize that others are moving on either in age or in life that it is very easy to pull away when you think that the relationship is going to end in one form or another. I don't like that reaction but I think it is a very common reaction to potential change.

Something that struck me about this book in particular was the rich, descriptive way the author handled Jacob as an elderly man. His frustration was so apparent, his physical manifestation so perfectly described, that of all of the elements of this book Jacob the Elderly is what stays with me. You had the sense that Jacob didn't foresee his latter years being the way they were, and his almost "ride off into the sunset" ending perhaps what he had envisaged for his end. Do you think about what's at the end of the road someday? When you think about it, what do you see for yourself?

If I get to choose, I would like to die without much complication and with most of my sensibilities. When I was 18, I was added to the list of the family members who took care of my Grandma when she was in her 80's. She wasn't diagnosed with Alzheimer's but she did have a case of dementia and lost control of most of her bodily functions. I took 2 or 3 of the 5 days and then they each took one day a week. My uncle lived with her so he covered the weekends. It was not a fun experience. She was mean and ornery most of the time and at other times she was as loving as she could be. She didn't like to get up in the morning and would sleep all day if allowed. It was hard and it was a situation that I would not want to be in again on either side. I feel for those taking care of their loved ones when they need much help. While it is a great sacrifice, it is one that I hope to never ask someone to make. It is hard both emotionally and physically. Plus, I often thought that there were many times that my Grandma questioned why she had to live so long to have her granddaughter change her depends.

On the other hand, my Grandpa on my father's side is in his 90's and is still very independent. He drives for very short distances and is very computer literate. He is often quiet but doesn't seem to lose his place in conversations and events. He seems to have very few age related issues and just moves a bit slower. He has lived an active life and still gardens to the best of his ability. He is aging gracefully and this is how I would like to age.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Empty Picture Frame by Jenna Nadeau (with author participation because she's a blogger!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


That is the sound of time rolling by. I can't believe that Memorial Day is right around the corner. We are headed off to the land of red dirt for the weekend. I will see my father's headstone in person for the first time and we will be at an actual Memorial Day National Cemetery ceremony. I honestly think this will be the first memorial day that is what it was intended to be for us... at least in awhile. I remember watching the National ceremony on TV at my aunt's house when I was a kid but as an adult it hasn't been apart of my Memorial day weekend.

I hear it is already in the 90's down there. This should be interesting as I don't even have a set of sunglasses right now. I tried to find some at Lenscrafters over the weekend and I gave up because my husband said everything looked bad and those that didn't were far too much money. When we get back I am going to have to buckle down and find new frames for both everyday and sunglasses. My frames are not aging well this time around, then again, I wear them everyday.

Anyhow, so hopefully we will find some interesting things to do down there that we haven't before and find some time to hit up the favorites from visits past. I was a bad niece and didn't let my family know that I will be in the area. I figure... if they cared, I would have heard from them sometime over the past 5 years.

I am off to finish up some work before I head into the city jungle. I have to meet with the pet sitter this afternoon. This should prove interesting. I wish we had changed the battery in the code box so that I could just give her the code but nooo... now I have to dig up an extra key by 3pm. :) I think I remember where I hid one.

Have a wonderful extended weekend!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dilemma Resolved

Thanks for the insights into our quandary about how to handle the news of a recent premature birth. My husband ended up going to lunch with the father. He brought a gift card for a local restaurant... a chain that is a little further away from the hospital but there really isn't that much in the area of this hospital even though it is fairly large and in the 'Burbs.

They ended up going up to the hospital after lunch so he got to experience the NICU and see the baby. Apparently the mom is still unable to drive and hasn't been at the hospital much so the offer has been extended for rides to/from the hospital during the day if she would like since my work schedule affords more flexibility than most.

We really appreciated the responses to the Barren advice post and the post here. Thanks again.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Open Letter to Tenants

Dear Tenants,

When your landlord is having some type of service completed on the property that you rent, please keep the following in mind:

1. Please come to the door fully dressed. I do not need to see your naked body or any other part of your body during this appointment. I am not here to scope you out or to conduct an audition for America's Next Top Model. I am here to work and your various state of undress may prove to be a distraction-good or bad.

2. Just like a homeowner-- pick up your underwear off the floor. Enough said.

3. Please put away any and all drug paraphernalia. While I don't know much about all that stuff, I still recognize common items. Please don't put me in the awkward situation of being a bystander to illegal behavior. Yes, in this here state in the Midwest US of A, it is illegal.

4. Better yet, please don't smoke pot while I am in your rental property. Going to my next appointment smelling of weed does not make a good impression.

5. Explaining to me why you have a giant tv and no bed really doesn't improve my impression of the situation or the property. I am here to do my work, not to judge you. But you make it hard when you tell me that you had to sell the bed to pay the rent... my choice would have been the tv.

6. I already know the neighborhood I am working in... telling me that you have to keep your grandbabies inside so that they can stay alive does not positively impact my work for your landlord. It may hinder it, so please spare me the details of why all the outdoor toys are inside. Since I would only schedule the appointment for the morning, you should realize that I know the risks of being outside of your house. Also, detailing all of the burglaries that have occurred on that property and the rest of the block might not be a good idea. Your landlord would appreciate it if you tone down your truthfulness.

7. Thank you for putting your dog outside while I am in your home. Next time, please remember to bring him in when I have to be outside.

8. Even though it isn't your property... most likely you are still responsible to clean it. Lysol bath and tile cleaner can work wonders and may prevent you from getting feet fungus.

9. Breaking stuff and then not telling your landlord about it until I ask about it puts me in the middle. Be forthcoming with your landlord, especially when you know that he made an appointment for someone to be in your unit.

10. If exterior maintenance is part of your lease, you really should do whatever is appropriate before the service provider comes to the property. Crawling through weeds to get my work done makes me itch and creates a negative attitude about my work at your property. Your landlord may feel the brunt of that attitude and that really isn't fair to them.

11. If your landlord calls you about setting up a time, by all means, call them back. They aren't coming there to collect extra rent, just to make your life and their life easier.

Thank you to those of you who protect your landlords property and cooperate in a timely manner. It makes my life easier and it gives me less to complain about. Plus, when I can smoothly complete my work at a property, I get things done quicker. Thank you!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I have a bit of a dilemma. This past Friday we got some news that a couple we know had their baby. Happiness right? Well, unfortunately the situation is not as happy roses as it could be. The baby actually was born at 27 weeks due to preeclampsia. The mom's blood pressure was something like 220/150 or higher. The little girl weighed less than 2lbs at birth. But so far she is thriving and mom is recovering nicely. However... we didn't find out that she was born for a few weeks. Previously we would have been pretty close to the first of those notified but things have been pretty strained for awhile. The husband is a friend of my husband's from college and they were pretty good friends until they went in on a business venture that went sour. It went sour due to the choices of the friend and the other partner.

My dilemma is how to acknowledge the birth. We would like to let them know that we are happy for them and know that this is a time that is hard. We would like to let them know that they can call if they need anything as we live close the hospital and would be happy to help out. However, since the baby is in the NICU and has been for a few weeks they probably already have the routine down. Other than sending a card and letting them know that... what else could we do? Is it appropriate to send a baby gift?

The last thing that we want to do is overwhelm them during this time. How would you feel about someone coming out of the woodwork to show support? Would you be offended or would you feel supportive? What would your limit be?

Believe me, there is some guilt on my part and I have been mulling this over since we found out. I was soooooooooo jealous because they were pregnant within weeks of being married. Most likely before or on the honeymoon, however... I wouldn't wish this on anyone. No one would. My husband was a preemie. At the time he was the youngest baby to make it through that hospital's NICU and the smallest since he weighed like 2 lbs 8oz at birth--- 31 years ago. I just think that this is so much bigger than any of the other issues that have been bounced around and makes all of that shit so meaningless. I know that sometimes things can't be fixed but they can be made new and while this may not be the right time it sure would suck to not be able to help out people that we can and know.

I can't tell you how much I have been reminded in the past few weeks of just how hard life can be. It makes my whining so superficial so I have really been trying to stay positive and look at things through a different lens. Don't get me wrong... things are still bogging me down but I am trying hard not to complain.

Updated to add: We are not close with the woman of the couple. Our tie to the couple is through the father. While we know her, when she was coming into his life was when things were going a bit awry with my husband's and his business/friendship etc. They had a very short courtship and engagement. They started in 2007 and were married by the end of 2007. So we really don't know her that well.