Friday, July 30, 2010

Great expectations

I figured out how to post my pictures so I've got alllll day to write - I love my new job!  On with the storytelling!

I was giddy leaving the house last week.  Just thinking about having Drew all to myself for all that time had me walking on air and I was practically bouncing in my seat the whole flight over.  Drew was already in the area at a work thing in Lake Tahoe - some team-building retreat complete with team-building exercises.  You know, beer pong, beer poker, beer volleyball, beer jet-skis - all the things that boost morale.  He was going to meet me at the hotel and I didn't give it much thought as I was too busy fantasizing about the upcoming week.  I had it all planned.

We were spending one night in San Francisco, renting a car and driving to Petaluma where we would marvel at the beautiful scenery while holding hands in contented silence, occasionally chatting about profound things that would bring us closer together.  We would spend five blissful days in wine country, holding hands, walking among the vineyards in contented silence, sipping wine and murmuring sweet nothings into each other's ears.  Then we would return to the city and walk around San Francisco, having great dinners and holding hands while talking and laughing like the happiest married couple on Earth.  

Oh yeah, I was going to get pregnant too.

According to the app on my phone, I was smack in the middle of my fertile window and due to ovulate the Thursday after I arrived.  Given that I was getting there Tuesday night it was going to be tight but I knew it would work. I'd get pregnant, it would stick and we would call it Sonoma.  The fetus, not the real baby.

Never mind that I wasn't sure if the app was correct, as my cycles have only recently become regular again and I wasn't using the ovulation sticks to be completely sure.  Never mind that we were currently unable to go even one day without picking at each other or even full-out fighting.  Never mind that neither of us had really talked about trying again since the last miscarriage.  Vacation would magically fix all of that!  Just call me Cleopatra.

The first hint of reality was when I talked to Drew in the car on the way to the hotel.  He'd had so much team-building that he'd woken up on the bathroom floor.  That did not bode well for my plans as I wasn't keen on him puking on me while baby-making.  I hadn't made a big deal about it being my fertile window because I wanted this conception to be as natural and romantic as possible.  I wanted there to be no talk of ovulation dates, cervical mucus or ideal times or positions.  I wanted to pretend that we were normal, that we'd had no trouble and we were just a couple of married people on vacation and we were just going to happen to get pregnant!

The hotel was gorgeous!
Our room overlooked Union Square
Fine, their picture looks better
View from our hotel room

Ornate ceilings in the lobby

It was so swank and cosmopolitan!  When I walked in, I could hear foreign languages coming from all directions.  The warm lighting, the marble floors, the beautifully dressed people - it was the perfect start to our vacation.  I envisioned Drew coming down to the lobby to get me, freshly showered, dressed cute, smelling sexy and ready for us to go out on the town.  After all, he'd arrived earlier than I did.  Surely he'd had enough time to sleep it off and get cleaned up, right?

My whole face fell when he rounded the corner.  He looked positively filmy.  He was wearing his bright blue plaid swim trunks, his lawn-mowing shirt, slippers and a backwards baseball cap that barely hid his bedhead.  He looked every inch the hungover frat boy and I was so disappointed.  Now, the wife that I wish I was and the wife that I aspire to be would have smiled anyway, greeted him warmly and rolled with it.

I'm not that wife.

I further lost it when I saw he was limping.  During beer volleyball, he dove for a ball and scraped the hell out of his knee and it was oozing and gross and bloody and my stomach turned over.  Not because it was gross but because he had hurt himself.  I was instantly sick, upset that he hadn't told me the instant it happened.  I got an inkling of what it might be like if I ever had kids and they hurt themselves.  

We got to the room and I was quiet and laid in bed with him asking me what was wrong.  I told him nothing was wrong, that I didn't want to fight and I was just tired.  However, I can rarely keep that up for long - I'm far too honest and direct.  You might have noticed?  So it took roughly a minute and a half before I burst into tears, blubbering "Why don't you take better care of yourself?  You go away like this and it's like you only think of yourself!  You act like you're back in college, your knee looks terrible, why weren't you more careful?  Why don't you think of me when I'm not around? You're not alone any more, you have to be more careful!"

"Is that all?"
"What else is wrong?"
"I was supposed to get pregnant on va-caa-tionnn and now I'm not because you're all hung over and i-i-in-jured."  Dissolve into sobs.

At first he tried to make light of it, that it wasn't that big a deal, that I was over-reacting.  Never a good choice - making light of my feelings will only upset me more.  So then he held me for a while, apologizing for getting hurt and for having too much team-building and then we talked about the state of our relationship, how neither of us is in a good baby-place, that our vacation needs to be about us and not making a baby.  How we need to be friends again and relax and go more than a couple of days without bickering.

He was right and I knew he was right but I was heartbroken over being together during my fertile period and not trying.  Trying to conceive is like being addicted to gambling.  You're positive that this cycle will be it, and if not then it'll definitely be next cycle but you can't know so you have to play every single cycle because what if you sit out and that was the cycle?!  We already miss so many months because he's out of town so often and it was unbearable to think that we would be together and not take advantage of it.  I know I should have faith, that things will happen as they should in God's time, but in that moment all I could think is that we were losing precious time that we would never get back.

Yet I knew he was right - and I hated it.  I wanted the fantasy, of my beautiful wonderful husband on our wonderful vacation where we say and do all the right things and bond and come together in the purest love and make a baby.  I didn't want our messy reality, where we still haven't learned how to truly communicate, where we're still carrying the pain from our previous losses.  I wanted both - I wanted to go ahead and get pregnant and we could work on our relationship while I was pregnant.  Because that always works!  Hormones don't make you crazy, pregnancy isn't stressful, especially not pregnancy after loss!  No way!

Hi - we haven't met.  I'm Cleopatra, and you are?

Finally, after a couple of hours (awesome start, right?), we left for dinner.  Drew lived in San Francisco for almost a year so he knew a lot of great places to visit and he took me to one of his favorite restaurants, the Rose Pistola.  My face was all puffy from crying and my heart hurt but staying at the hotel would solve nothing so we rallied.  Thankfully the food was stellar.
House-made spinach fettuccine with fresh cherry tomatoes, 
mushrooms and Dungeness crab.
It was so fresh and light and it did wonders to lift my mood!
It was like my tomatoes but the whole dish tasted that way!
Drew had gnocchi with fresh green beans and sausage - I think?
I can't remember the meat but it was delicious.

Conversation was stilted but we both gave it a try.  We talked about what we wanted to do in Sonoma and Napa and I told him about the suggestions that I'd gotten from Tanja, a blogger I 'met' shortly before our trip.  She told us about a great place in Healdsburg that I wanted to visit.  Drew is a wine fiend so this trip was like his Disneyland and he rattled off a giant handful of places he wanted to see.  He started to loosen up as he talked about the wineries he wanted to see and told me stories about the ones he'd already visited.

Dinner ended with us having successfully evaded any hot topics and without me bursting into tears at the table, so I thought maybe we were going to be okay.

Except in San Francisco, it was cold.  In July.  And I wasn't ready for that.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eight days

I was going to wait to post until I got home this evening as my work computer won't let me add Picasa and I have tons of great pictures I can't wait to share - at least I hope they're great.  I'm no photographer and they could all be blurry.  I haven't checked yet because I got home last night at 11pm.  The flight was smooth and wonderful (got first class again!), we arrived on time, my luggage arrived immediately and I thought I was home free - until the getting home part.  Do yourself a favor and don't EVER use Super Shuttle.  It took me over an hour to get home (it's usually twenty minutes) and I'm quite certain that the driver moved to Dallas like, yesterday.  I wanted to get a taxi but I already paid for the shuttle so I just bit my lip and stewed while he drove around in circles looking for the other addresses because of course, I was the last to get dropped off.  Live and learn right?

I was thinking about how I would document this vacation when I woke up this morning - yes, I know I'm compulsive.  You don't need to tell me.  At least I refrained from doing it when I was actually still on vacation!  Thanks to one of my awesome readers Abby, Drew and I got some insider info on stuff to do in Petaluma, Sonoma and Napa!  Thank you so much Abby!  I even emailed Centsational Girl at Kristina's suggestion and she actually emailed me back!  She kind of just told me to read her 'Wine Country' posts but I got an honest-to-goodness email so I'm counting it because we did use some of her suggestions.  Along the way, we found some cool spots on our own so I'll add my picks and try my hand at being a wine country tourguide.

It wasn't all roses and sunshine but real life rarely is, not even on vacation.  We had a rough start and there were some rough patches and some tears were shed, but all that truly matters is we came out of it on the other side.

So cozy up, grab an iced tea (no wine for me - I'm wine'd out!) and I'll tell you a story...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wine country

I have to make this fast because the shuttle is coming in just a few minutes.  To take me to the airport.  Where I'm flying to meet Drew.  So we can go on vacation!!

We're going here

To do this

And this

Just the two of us - for eight days!  I can barely contain myself I'm so excited!  The shuttle will be here any minute - I have to grab my luggage and set the house alarm and then I'm outta here!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Counting my blessings

I'm having a glass of champagne right now, wanna know why?  Because I'm celebrating my first day at work!  Yeah, that's right!  I'm a working girl again!  Wait, that didn't sound right.  What I mean is, I'm once again a member of the workforce, after seven long months of unemployment I'm back on the job!
Hell yeah I took a picture of myself before I went to work this morning!

My staffing agency called me about the job a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would be interested.  That always cracks me up, asking if I'm interested.  At this point all I cared about is whether or not the pay was decent - I was so desperate I would have done just about anything.  However, I didn't tell them that.  I always politely listened, saying "Hmm, actually, yes I think that's something I could do well."  As if beggars could be choosers.

They submitted my resume and the company called, saying they wanted to interview me.  I was pleased but I remembered the last interview I had where they passed on me because there was no connection, and the one before that where they said I was overconfident and not meek enough.  Since my unemployment benefits were running out August 1st I knew this one was do or die.  So I wore a slate jacket, a seafoam green tank top and light brown pants so I wouldn't seem too severe and I wore my hair loose so I would seem more approachable - my previous interviews I wore a black suit and pulled my hair away from my face in either a low bun or a tightly controlled ponytail.  I was going to connect with these people if it killed me!  

I got to the interview and nearly dropped my pen when I saw a very familiar name ahead of mine on the sign-in sheet.  It was the girl I replaced at my old company!  She had promoted out of the position but was still with the company (Kesha keeps me up on all the work gossip) but I guess she was out looking because her department was getting restructured.  While I didn't blame her for that, I wanted this job!  Of the two of us, I was the one who was unemployed, not her!  Right then I decided to be the most approachable, meek yet capable and professional person I could.  It wasn't personal, but I had to get that job.

I knew I had a leg up when the lady interviewing me walked out and she had natural hair!  Margaret (not her real name - duh) definitely would not be able to talk about natural hair!  Now all I had to do was figure out how to work it in without being obvious or overeager.  

The interview went well - it's for the front desk and is nearly identical to what I did at my old job, nothing special.  I emphasized how easy it would be for me to jump right in and how I would need next to no training and how my goal in life would be to make her life easy and help her in any and every way possible.  I laid it on thick while trying not to seem as desperate as I was.  At the end of the interview she asked the customary "Do you have any questions for me?"  I hesitated, wondering if it was appropriate to talk hair in an interview but then I figured I had nothing to lose. "Just one.  How long have you been natural?"

Jackpot!!  Her eyes lit up and we talked for another ten minutes about hair and how great natural hair is and how free she felt since she stopped using relaxers.  I told her about Curly Nikki and Teri and how great it would be if I got the job and we could talk hair!  No subtlety here - my unemployment was about to run out!

A few days later, I got called for a second interview and again Margaret had been there before me!  I was still competing against her!  I found out that she had narrowed it down to three and would make her decision the next day, as she'd interviewed Margaret in the morning, me in the afternoon and the final candidate the next morning.  I pulled out my last weapon - my letter of recommendation from my former supervisor and I flat-out told her I wanted the job and I wanted her to pick me.  No shame, y'all.

But it paid off!  I got the job and today was my first day!  It was so weird to set my alarm, shower before two in the afternoon and get dressed in something other than a t-shirt and yoga pants.  Drew is home right now and he poured me a bowl of cereal this morning and made my lunch for me.  When I got off work tonight we had a celebratory glass of champagne and I told him about my day, that for once didn't consist of chasing after the dog or laying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself.

It's pretty much a match made in heaven - my office is in a great area, it's not far from home and the girl that relieves me for lunch loves Burn Notice!  It's only been one day but what a difference a day makes.  I feel good and I'm relishing that!  I'm so very thankful to have gotten this position and I'm getting on my knees in prayer tonight to thank God for my wonderful blessings.

If I hadn't been unemployed these past seven months I wouldn't have been able to complete my miscarriage workup.  The appointments revolve around your cycle and being able to have the freedom to go in whenever I needed to was a blessing.  

Receiving unemployment benefits was a blessing as well.  Because of that and careful planning and spending, our lifestyle has not been disrupted.  Not once did we receive the pink notices from the utility companies for 'interruption of service.'  All our bills were paid on time and we were even able to pay several of them off.  

Drew's travel, while an incredible strain on our relationship, has allowed us to go down to having one car.  Having one less car payment, insurance payment and one less gas tank to fill has enabled us to weather this time without too much trauma.
A moment of silence for the sexy sportscar.
We'll miss you always.

However, we are blessed because having one car is a choice, not an obligation.  There are tons of people who have to have one car because they can't afford another one - those who have to figure it out because there is no other option.  Drew and I are incredibly blessed and we need to thank God in Heaven for that.

God has kept us in the palm of His hand this entire time and I'm sorry to say that I didn't keep sight of that.  I doubted, I was scared that it wouldn't work out and I worried about what was going to happen once I stopped receiving unemployment.  In my limited understanding, I was afraid.  I'm only human and I lacked faith.  Getting this job at this time has made me realize that even though I didn't fully get it, God was watching over me.  Over us.  And for that I'm so humbled and thankful.

I'm thankful that I had to set my alarm for 6am this morning.  I'm thankful that I had food for my lunch.  I'm thankful that I have a car to take me to work.  I'm thankful that I have a husband who will fix my lunch for me and that he is committed to our marriage.  I'm thankful that I had the free time to see a doctor to try to find a reason for my miscarriages, that I didn't have to try and juggle multiple appointments with other obligations.  He told me when I needed to come in and not once was there a schedule conflict.  I'm thankful for that.  Whatever happens from here forward is in God's hands and I must remember that His plan is better than anything I could have come up with on my own.

I don't believe in coincidence.  I don't believe in random-ness.  I'm not trying to shove my beliefs in anyone's face nor am I saying that my way is right.  Whatever keeps you from kicking puppies is all right in my book, I'm just saying this is how I get down.  God's hand is working in my life, plain and simple.  I recognize that and I'm thankful for it.    

God is great, all the time.  All the time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm so Vera Wang I don't even know it

Totally unrelated to this post but so freakin cool:  I'm featured on Young House Love today!  Check it out!


I am so incredibly blessed to have a friend like Kesha.  She's my juice - when I talk to her, I feel like I can do anything.  She is so positive and encouraging yet knows just how and when to give me a kick in the butt to move me to action.  Everyone needs a Kesha and I strive daily to be the kind of friend to her that she is to me.

When she got wind of my retarded fear of my sewing machine, she called me and informed me that she was coming over and together we were going to take the sewing machine out of the box.  I told her that she was more than welcome to come over, but that I wasn't sure about the whole sewing thing.  In her calm sweet voice she said, "Yes we will.  You are taking that machine out of that box and you are going to sew."  The following is what happened.
Gingerly removing the styrofoam.  
Heartbeat quickening, wanting to walk away.
All right, I got this far.  It's still in one piece.
Getting set up, not knowing what the heck I was doing.
I was just plugging things where I thought they went.

Then I pulled out the bandanna that has defeated me for almost a month.  When I was at Kristina's house, she'd given me the fabric (thanks Kristina!) and under her supervision I sewed most of it.
This is my 'grrr I don't want to do this' face.
Even though the only thing I had left was to attach the ties.
Reading the manual, trying to stall and terrified I'm going to break it.
I still haven't touched it by this point.

I couldn't stall anymore.  It was out, it was plugged in.  It was go-time.
Sticking the spool on the spool-holder.
The machine didn't spontaneously explode.
Am I even doing this right?
You loop this thingy over that thingy and then bring it down
over the other thingy
I think
I just threaded the needle!  I did it!!  And I didn't break anything!!
I think I did a happy dance in my chair.
More stalling - getting the needle threaded put me one step closer
to actually having to use the machine.

Granted, my project was tiny and not at all complicated so I can say that winding the bobbin and threading the needle was the hardest part for me.  For the ties of the bandanna, I just turned them inside out, sewed a straight line and turned them right side out so I could attach them to the bandanna.
Apparently I like to channel Michael Jordan when I sew.  Who knew?
After she showed me a particularly retarded picture of myself

You guys, I finished the bandanna!
Drew called just as I finished and I was telling him that
I'm pretty much the next Vera Wang.

All because of my juice!  My angel!  My friend!
Thank you Kesha!!
I just love the colors against Maya's coat
It's so hard to get her to hold still!

I was so encouraged by my work and as long as I had Kesha's magic with me, I took out one of my shirts to fix.  I even changed out the thread color and threaded a new bobbin without incident!  It was an easy fix, just bringing in the sides an inch or so.  When I finished, it looked great!  I was so happy!  

Now that I have actually used my sewing machine without breaking it, I've set my eye on all the clothes in my closet that don't fit me.  I've decided to turn our solarium into my sewing room - if I'm going to be the next Vera Wang I need a workspace!

*Note - In no way do I consider myself Vera Wang at all.  I made a bandanna.  For a dog - they are notoriously easy to please.  I don't have that big a head.  Forehead, yes.  Ego, no.  Glad we could clear that up - I could see the 'who do you think you are' comments coming a mile away.  

Monday, July 12, 2010

Peas and carrots

Our trip to Charlotte was perfect.  It was just what Drew and I needed - we had the right combination of activities and laying around and I was so happy to get to spend time with Nate and Julie because they have pretty much the best relationship ever!  Nate is super laid-back and completely in love with Julie and Julie is so nice and easy to talk to.  Being around them you get the distinct impression that all their fights, if they even have them, end in laughter and hugs.  Just sharing space with them had an incredibly calming effect - not to mention they're adorable.
Like peas and carrots

They have an adorable two-bedroom bungalow that's walking distance from their arts district and our Friday arrival happened to coincide with NoDa's First Friday, where the area art galleries open their doors late and local bands play all night.  I love those kinds of things and the weather was perfect for it. It was so nice being somewhere that wasn't 95 degrees at nine o'clock at night!

We started at the Green Rice gallery, which was Julie's favorite spot.  Thankfully, they were cool with people taking pictures, because although I was in love with several pieces I was not in love with the price tags!
Drew's new friend was over two thousand dollars!
You have to wonder who would be able to come in and say
'I'll take that to go please.'
This one is called 'Wedding Day' and it was Julie's favorite.
As soon as I have a couple thou laying around, I'll get it for her.

Then there were several that I loved because of their words.  I've always been drawn to words as art and I was seriously hurt that I couldn't afford these pieces.
For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

Why can't I just be rich? I want them all.

I thought this series was great too.  They were painted and
decoupaged onto planks of wood.
Instead of waiting on the next wave, create your own swell

We went to a few more galleries, but Green Rice was my favorite.  As the sun went down, the bands set up and started to play.
Music in the summertime
You only find places like this in an arts district.

I also ate like every meal was my last.  That's way out of character for me, but Nate loves to cook as much as Drew does so it's really not my fault.  Besides, isn't that a rule?  When you're on vacation, you get to eat as much as you want?  I ate so much that my stomach hurt and I would do it again.
The oven gloves are the best part of this outfit.
Where I go, the scallops and brussel sprouts will follow.
We also had peel n eat shrimp, spicy sausages and 
the guys had ultra-rare steak topped with gorgonzola and a giant mushroom cap.
After stuffing ourselves at brunch with omelettes and Bloody Marys.

I'm lame because I didn't get pictures of the fireworks display we saw from our awesome spot away from the huge crowds of people, but I didn't feel like getting my camera out of the car once we spread out our blanket.  Drew and I had a moment, watching the show sitting next to each other with my head on his shoulder, holding hands and I didn't want to alter the mood by taking pictures.  Besides, y'all know what fireworks look like.

Charlotte is a great city with really nice people - the weather was wonderful, the food was amazing and the company was just perfect.  I'm so lucky to have such a cool brother- and sister-in-law!  And really, you can never go wrong in a place that gives free hugs!


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