Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Checking In

I'm not sure if anyone is even checking my blog since it has been forever since I wrote anything. My apologies. Life in the US is much busier than life in Themiddleofnowhere, Germany. I know, I know...but it's true.

I've been so busy hanging out with family, helping out at my aunt's monogram shop, and SHOPPING that I've hardly turned on my computer. I have done some major shopping. TOIAW has hardly acknowledged this. Life is good!

So, just wanted you know I'm alive and well. Very well. Being with family can be a bit stressful but they are my family so it's generally good stress. I'm very blessed. That reminds me of a quote I heard yesterday, "I'm too blessed to be stressed." Truer words are rarely heard.

I want to take time to wish everyone the merriest of Christmases! If you are one of my dear friends whose husbands are away, please know that I love you. I've been there and I know how much it hurts and just generally stinks. My family and I set aside special time on Christmas Eve to pray for military families who are separated but this year we will pray specifically for families that TOIAW know. I'm making a list (and checking it twice) so no one is left out and every time I add a name I think of the family and get teary. I admire you so much; you are my heroes.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Ahhhh, Target...

I made it to good ol' US of A safe and sound! Just in time it sounds like, because weather is wrecking havoc in the upper Midwest and East coast. No snow here...it's supposed to be in the high 60s today.

I'm still suffering from a bit of jet lag. I was awake for more than 24 hours Saturday with only a few hours of sleep then I went to bed early last night only to awaken at 3:30...and I'm still awake. I've already worked-out and showered. I plan on helping out at my aunt's monogram shop today and here and there while I'm here. When I'm not working there, I'm going to be hanging out there working on a couple of quilts for gifts. It's a great place to craft and create.

I went to Target yesterday!!! Oh, how I love Target! I spent $165 and could have spent a lot more...and probably will before I leave. I was a little disappointed with their athletic clothing selection but otherwise found plenty of goodies.

In addition to not eating meat more than a few times a week, I also prefer to eat organic when possible. It's not too difficult to do that in Germany but not as easy as it is in the US. It's not so much the availability as much as the selection that is available. Oh well, I'll enjoy it while I can. I'm also trying to exercise and lose some of this fertility medication weight I've gained in the past few months. This could prove to be difficult since TOIAW and I usually gain weight while we're visiting. It's not hard to see why there is such an obesity problem in the US.

Well, I hope everyone has a fabulous day! I am going to enjoy the sunshine and try not to seem like a freak and remark about how the sun is shining in December because, apparently, that's not unusual for some places...who knew?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Throw-Back Thursday

Last night TOIAW and I watched one of my favorite romantic comedies...

It's an old-school romantic comedy for those of you who haven't seen it. It was made in 1987! Prompted by the movie, TOIAW and I decided that if we ever inherit a baby, we will accept the task of raising said baby. You just never know.

Praise God that shoulder pads are no longer en vogue! Yes, wide shoulders do make your waist look smaller, but then you look like an inverted triangle which is just plain goofy.

I have a lot to do today. Leaving town for a month takes some preparation. Yesterday I was de-cluttering all of TOIAW's favorite cluttering spots (read: all flat surfaces in our home). I laughed just thinking about what it will look like when I get home. There will, of course, be various piles of clutter in all the usual spots. The peculiar part is that every pile and object will be positioned at right angles in relation to the other piles/objects. Yes, I live with Rain Man.

Next time I blog it will be from a place where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, where the waving wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain, and where, at night, my honey lamb (TOIAW is coming in a few weeks) and I can sit alone and talk and watch a hawk making lazy circles in the sky.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Shocking Confession

I don't have any Christmas decorations. There, I said it.

I'm very embarrassed by this but, the truth is, we have never spent the Holidays at our home. I happy to report that buying Christmas decorations is very high on my priority shopping list. I found these really cute ornaments at Pottery Barn and when I went to buy them today, they're




gone. I could probably make them but my good friend, MM (shout out to you!), pointed out that at $6, they were a good deal. Apparently plenty of other people agreed with her. Now I'll be forced to DIY them unless I find something I like better (which is doubtful because I love me some ribbon!).

But I don't just need ornaments. We don't have stockings, or wreaths, or garland, or even a single ceramic peppermint candle holder. What kind of person am I? You're probably asking yourself the same thing. Sure I've seen the the left-over decorations on sale slashed to 25% of their original price but jcrew and banana and a new pair of boots always seem to be calling to me in a sweeter, louder voice.

This year will be different! I WILL buy decorations. (No need to sell your jcrew stock just yet; I'm sure I'll find time to pop in there for a bit as well.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm Restraining Myself

No, this is not another post about my in-laws.

Have you looked online lately and seen the great deals out there? If the sales are this good before Christmas, will they give stuff away afterwards? I've gotten free shipping on everything I've ordered and I have only purchased items that were on sale. It's proving quite the challenge to not buy things for myself but I am willing to fight the mall crowds just to shop at a real American mall. That might only last 20 minutes once I'm there, but I want to leave my options open before spending my entire budget online because I can shop online anytime.

And everything is going to priced in dollars and not euros which ROCKS! This morning TOIAW told me that the cover of the German equivalent to Time magazine, has a picture of a dollar in the shape of a plane doing a nose dive while on fire. Thanks for the visual on that. Danke. It doesn't effect us that much, really, because most purchases we make on the German economy are optional. You know, like 4,500 Euro for IVF.

We met with our doctor to discuss the next step and that is what he is recommending. I'm not going to post about it because 1) it's too depressing to discuss during the holiday season, and 2) I've done enough whining lately. We have our consultation with the professor (that's what they call physicians who are also qualified to teach) after we return to Germany in January. He does the actual surgical procedures for IVF and our doctor will prescribe the medications and do the monitoring. I'm so confused so I'm going to ban myself from Google (well, from medical googling, that is...ummm, not all medical googling, just infertility googling) and wait until January to obsess.

That leaves me with two things from which I must restrain myself: Online shopping and obsessing over infertility treatments. I'm pretty much at a loss about what to do with now that my two favorite hobbies are not available. Looks like I have absolutely no other option than to do my chores :)

P.S. If you don't already know about it, http://www.retailmenot.com/ is the place to find coupons for discounts and free shipping codes. Very cool resource!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just Say No to Tofu

When we were driving to the airport in London a couple of mornings ago, I heard an interview with Heather Mills McCartney. The Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): She's nuttier than a fruitcake. She recently went on a mini-media tour in the UK to slander Sir Paul, her ex-attorneys who fired her as a client, and the media for their biased reporting. But that's not what makes her crazy. On this particular interview with a well-known British radio host, she was talking about her campaign to encourage people to eat less meat due to the effects cattle grazing has on the environment. It's a great cause and I encourage it but, seriously, who is going to listen to a woman who has bad-mouthed one of the most beloved musicians of the 20th century no matter if you have a good word to share? She was very self-righteous in the interview and actually ended up leaving after the interviewer asked her to comment on her personal life. Now I know the media can be over-the-top but when you put yourself out there for a week or two only discussing personal matters and then, upon receiving horrible press and realizing your brilliant plan has blown-up in your face, decide you will now only discuss your various charities and causes, you are not going to have much credibility.

That being said, the interview did serve to reinforce my feelings on not eating so much meat (beef, chicken, or lamb). I would like to find more creative vegetarian dishes that are not black bean soup. I can't even find any good cookbooks online but I will look for them when I'm in the US (in a few days!!!). Do you have any good meatless dishes or vegetarian cookbook recommendations? As you might have guessed from the title of the post, we're not too big on tofu but we're rather agreeable to other suggestions.

Thanks for your help in saving some trees (cattle grazing needs lead to deforestation in many areas) and saving us from clogged arteries!

The Office provided some much-needed comic relief last night so all is right with the world today. Not really, but all is mostly right with TOIAW and I and that's pretty much the only thing I can control right now so, as President Bush would say, "Mission accomplished!" Seriously, though, I think this is my favorite show of all time. I love watching it on DVD because we can go back and hear anything we miss while we are laughing hysterically. We stayed up way too late watching it, but it was fun.

I woke-up with a very sore throat so I skipped Bible study this morning. I'm going to miss the rest of the classes since I'm leaving Saturday, so I figured one more wouldn't matter too much. I have a lot to do before I leave and as of 10 am, I've done nothing (and that counts yesterday as well). First I need to take Princess Poopsalot out for a walk which might not be great for my sore throat but will hopefully energize me to get moving!

Tomorrow morning we are going to meet with the fertility specialist. I'm having a bit of a dilemma because, although I really like him as a person, I am beginning to think he is failing me as a physician. He does not monitor me throughout my cycle nearly as much as doctor's in the US monitor their patients. I often have to remind him of what procedures I have and haven't had done, what treatment we are doing that cycle, and other things that he really should know without me telling him. Also, in the past several months, the time I spend waiting to be seen (at my appointments) has dramatically increased which I think is because he has way too many patients. He is the only doctor in the practice and I can tell he is tired most of the time. As I said, I really like both him and his wife (who has started to work there as well to handle patient administration) but just liking my doctor isn't going to help me have a baby. I just don't know what to do!

I am also really frustrated with the fact that we have to pay out of pocket for all artificial reproductive techniques (ART). This is the case because Congress - who controls my insurance benefits - has not authorized funding for these procedures. Fair enough, although I do not agree with it, I can live with it. What frustrates me, however, is that if we were living in the US, I could go to one of several military hospitals and have these very same procedures free of charge. Completely free. No cost for medication, hospital bills, or physicians' fees. I know I'm whining, but how is this sound fair? Because Military Treatment Facilities operate on a different budget and through a different system than the insurance benefits, these inconsistencies are allowed to exist. I'm going to call my senator and TOIAW's senator today; I'm sure they won't care, but it's worth a try.

The GOOD News: Even if we do end up doing IVF, it is not that expensive here! It would cost less if the dollar wasn't record-breakingly weak, but oh well. In no way does the cost of IVF here compare to the cost of IVF in the US. So we'll see what he says tomorrow and from there we'll decide what we're going to do and if we're going to do it with him.

Have I mentioned that I have a spa day booked for next Tuesday? A gift from my sweet mom!

Monday, November 26, 2007

O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A!!!

On 16 November 1907 Oklahoma became the 46th state. Happy belated centennial birthday, Oklahoma!

I am VERY proud to be an Oklahoman! My grandfather's grandfather traveled from Iowa to Oklahoma in order to take part in the Land Run on 22 April 1889. Free land? In the middle of Indian Territory? Sure, why not. Load up the wagon!

The following is an article with some fun facts about my beloved state. I regret that the author left out one of the best retail outlets in the US which, not surprisingly, was first established in Oklahoma: Harold's!

Oklahoma: A Mystery to Many Americans

If someone mentions California, what do you think of? Hollywood, L.A., crowded freeways, beaches, and Arnold Schwarzenegger? California, of course, is so much more than that. How about Maine? I think of cold weather, people with funny accents and lobsters. What if someone brings up Idaho? Does it bring to mind potatoes?

When people hear the name of our state, it seems the first thing that comes to mind is not Oklahoma, but "Oklahoma!" The 1943 musical, the first for Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, is the first thing most people in America think of when they hear about the Sooner State.

Having people associate our state with a beloved musical is certainly better than some alternatives, like rednecks and tornadoes, but it certainly isn't representative of today's Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma!" is a delight. The story of cowboys and farmers finding love in Oklahoma territory features classic music and ground-breaking choreography, including the dream ballet illustrating Laurey's difficulty in choosing a suitor between cowboy Curley and farmhand Jud Fry.

It also gave us our state song, which never fails to bring Oklahomans to their feet, which can prove a bit unnerving for performers in touring versions of the show who, during stops in Oklahoma, must deal with a standing ovation before the final curtain comes down.

"Oklahoma!" is a classic of American musical theater and deserves its place in the pantheon of enduring entertainment treasures.

It is not, however, an accurate indication of where our state has been, is today and is going. Oklahoma is not only the home of Ado Annie and Aunt Eller but of the aerosol can. That wonder of the age was invented in Bartlesville. Oklahoma City is the home of the parking meter, while the shopping cart was born in Ardmore.

The electric guitar also was invented in Oklahoma, by a Beggs musician named Bob Dunn. The first "Yield" sign was installed in Tulsa.

The state has more man-made lakes than any other state, which give us more than a million surface-acres of water and 2,000 more miles of shoreline than the Atlantic and Gulf coasts combined.

The Sooner State has produced more astronauts than any other state in the union. Owen Garriott is a hometown Enid boy, of course, while Tom Stafford is from Weatherford, Shannon Lucid from Oklahoma City, William Pogue from Okemah and the late Gordon Cooper from Shawnee.

Oklahoma is home to Amateur Softball Association, Sonic restaurants and more F4 and F5 tornadoes than any other state.

Oklahoma is the third-largest gas-producing state in the nation and ranks fourth in the production of wheat, cattle and calves, fifth in the production of pecans, sixth in peanuts and eighth in peaches.

The state's colors are neither the crimson and cream of the University of Oklahoma nor the orange and black of Oklahoma State but green and white.

The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes Oklahoma as having the most diverse terrain of any state in the nation. The state, according to EPA, boasts 11 distinct ecoregions, one of only four states to have more than 10.

Oklahomans practice 73 major religions. The largest is the Southern Baptist Convention, with nearly 1,600 church and more than 960,000 members.

Oklahoma gave birth to Dick Tracy (cartoonist Chester Gould is a native of Pawnee) and Donald Duck (Clarence "Ducky" Nash, the original voice of Walt Disney's Donald, grew up in Watonga).

Oklahomans have survived the Dust Bowl, any number of killer tornadoes, the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and various oil booms and busts. Oklahoma is populated by people who are caring, giving, hard-working, patriotic and fiercely independent. Oklahoma is a good place to live, work and play.

The challenge in this, our centennial year, is to make the rest of America aware of what Oklahoma has to offer, besides beautiful mornings, fringe-laden surreys and a girl who "cain't say no."

Commentary by Jeff Mullin, Senior Writer, Enid News

Once Again

Once again I am not pregnant.

Once again I had a less-than-pleasant encounter with TOIAW's older brother.

Once again TOIAW and I argued for two days (and counting, currently) after spending time with members of his family.

Once again I feel judged and criticized by TOIAW for being sad about not being pregnant. After all, we have a plan (probably IVF in January or February) and we have hope so what is my problem? Why am I not dealing with it the way TOIAW would and telling myself I should be willing to readily display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the only survivor (or some other such nonsense that works for him when he is faced with adversity)? Why? I'LL TELL YOU WHY: Because I am a human being with feelings and emotions that don't turn on and off at will...hmmm, but wouldn't that be nice some days? Hopefully being apart from each other today will ease tensions a bit. Otherwise we might actually have a "lone survivor" situation and, trust me, the battle conditions are in my favor!

My apologies for the depressing post and rant.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thankful

***I'm sorry there are no spaces between paragraphs; Blogger is being a pain this morning.


On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful that I am no longer a flight attendant and therefore can spend a nice relaxing holiday with TOIAW. With snow in Chicago and Denver, today is sure to be a nightmare; I am so sorry if you are traveling through either of these airports. Some good advice: NEVER fly through O'Hare unless you do not need to arrive on time. Many of my friends find it difficult to believe that I was a flight attendant. I was, indeed, and most of the time I enjoyed the work and the passengers. I often worked on Thanksgiving even when my seniority afforded me a day off so that others could be with their families. Thanksgiving is a difficult travel time though. Everyone pretty much flies on the same days and the majority of passengers do not travel regularly (read: once a year or less) and require a lot of molly-coddling when it comes to storing luggage, finding seats, etc. Throw in the fact that airline employees have just enjoyed the "easy" months of September, October, and early November when the majority of passengers are business travelers who "know the drill" and the tension mounts. Full flights take longer to board and there are always the three people who have a Pavlovian response to boarding aircraft and MUST use the lavatory before take-off (I have been known to "hold it" for 3 hours just so I didn't have use the on-board facilities but to each his own) so you have a salmon swimming upstream situation once they attempt to return to their seats. Oh, and the unaccompanied minor children who break your heart because they are leaving Mom to spend the holiday with Dad but they don't want to leave Mom so they cry and cry; they tried to be brave for Mom who was crying at the gate but once they get on the aircraft, the flood gates open. Angry passengers, I could take, but these kids stayed in my thoughts for weeks and it would happen every holiday and summer.
This is the most vital piece of information I can offer the holiday traveler:
Do NOT ring your flight attendant call button and ask if you are going to make your connection. The flight attendants do not know or care if you are going to make your connection so do not bother asking them. Most flight attendants do not carry a Magic 8 Ball in their luggage nor is there a secret Bat Phone on board that can allow them to call to determine the status of your connecting flights. The airline will NOT hold the flight for you. I don't make the rules, I'm just telling you how it is.
Tomorrow TOIAW and I are flying to the UK (yes, I'm a good passenger, I stow my carry-on luggage COMPLETELY underneath the seat in front of me so I don't junk-up the overhead bins with all my stuff because I realize there are other people on the plane and that the overhead bins are shared space). I'm really looking forward to this little get-away. The only part that makes me nervous is driving to the hotel because, to my knowledge, TOIAW has never driven on the other side of the road. Don't worry, I'll be there to provide plenty of coaching if you know what I mean.
Safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Second Anniversary...

...of our first wedding was Saturday. Perhaps I should say the second anniversary of our civil ceremony? Yes, we had a civil ceremony and then we had a big wedding. What, doesn't everyone do that? You would probably be surprised by how many people I know who have done just that. Uncle Sam is notorious for his poor timing which forces many couples to change/rush plans. Looking back, I don't quite recall why we had to get married early. A few things that come to mind are 1) it made it easier to pre-apply for housing in Germany...well, that's the only legitimate one that comes to mind. Maybe I was afraid he would change his mind? Maybe he wanted to fly free since that's an (the ONLY) advantage to having a flight attendant spouse? Maybe it was that he had only been back from the desert a matter of weeks and we realized how precious life was and we knew we couldn't wait an second longer to begin our life as husband and wife? No, more than likely it was the tax incentives at work.

In any event, I can still remember the day clearly: I worked a flight or two on the East coast then flew back to Seattle. As soon as I arrived, I showered and prepared for the "ceremony." TOIAW was late getting home which meant we had to rush through I-5 traffic (not so easy as anyone who has ever lived in WA knows). We were late and fussing at each other all the way to the judge's office. Fortunately, the murder trial over which he was presiding, ran a little late so he didn't notice us being late. Yes, murder trial. That's Tacoma for you. And really, nothing says romance like getting married in a room that, ten minutes prior, held a murder suspect being tried before a jury of his peers--it was romance, justice, and the American way. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Back to the ceremony...the judge was very kind AND he attended my alma mater so I knew we were in good hands. His office was filled with pictures of his family and he told us about his wife, children, and grandchildren. He waxed poetically about marriage and family which you might think would be cheesy coming from a random judge who oversees murder trials by day, but it was quite touching. We then moved into the court room to seal the deal. There, in full view of Mt. Ranier, one of the most majestic mountains in all the world, we officially became Husband and Wife. The entire experience was much more emotional than either one of us had anticipated. We have a beautiful photograph of Mt. Ranier in our home and when I look at it, I think of 17 November 2005 and that courtroom at the Pierce County Court House.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thou Shalt Not Covet

Yesterday I was invited to a neighbor's house for tea. She is a new friend I met at the conference last week and I am really excited to get to know her better. She lives about a block away but I had not met her until last week and I didn't know there was another small group of American houses in our town. I was blown away when I walked in her house! It is such a nice floor plan and her kitchen is more than twice the size of mine...so large, in fact, I doubt she is forced to stow her serving pieces in the basement. They have two floors (three bedrooms) and a full basement with one very large finished room that opens out to their HUGE fenced-in yard. We have three floors (four bedrooms but much smaller than her rooms) and a full basement but the floors are all concrete and the only room with heat is the laundry room. Oh, but their yard is SO NICE! Princess Poopsalot would be in heaven! We had a nice time chatting and then I left to have lunch with a friend (yesterday was a really busy day for me!).

On the drive, I kept thinking about her house and how much better I liked it, how it work so much better for us, blah, blah, blah. I was starting to get grumpy so I had to just snap out of it. The house I have now is so much nicer than the house we lived in before. Furthermore, I live here at no cost; it's just something assigned to my husband based on his rank and what was available when we arrived. It is not a house we chose or purchased and I will only live here for a matter of months. Why would I get upset that someone else has something "better" than what I have? Because I'm human, I suppose. Today I am going around my house listing the things for which I am thankful and it has really improved my perspective and outlook. Then again, life would be a lot better if I were perfect.

All week, I had been looking forward to lunch with my friend. I've really missed her since we moved. She precious and I still remember the first time I met her and how confused she was about being a spouse to someone who does what our husbands do. I'm proud of how well she has embraced it and is making the most of it. This organization is a lifestyle, not just a job, and it impacts so many areas of your life which is not easy for everyone to accept. If you choose not to accept that, you are sure to fail. I often see the spouses who fight it and they never fare well emotionally which is never good for their marriages. So anyway, my friend's husband worked for my husband for over a year and now he is in on a really long business trip. Of course it's difficult, but they're both doing very well and I was happy to see that. I love you and I'm so proud of you, Nicki!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Walking in a Winter Wonderland!

I was greeted this morning by a beautiful blanket of snow. Something about that just makes me happy! Since this is a rural area (as you might expect in themiddleofnowhere, Germany), there are plenty of trees and they just looked so gorgeous in their winter finery. I took these pictures while walking PP...



If it weren't so cold, I could sit and look at this all day!


PP absolutely LOVES the snow. This is her looking at me like, "What are you doing? Let's GO!"

I am looking forward to many more snowy walks this winter. These walking trails are less than a minute from our front door and since we rarely see other people on our walk, PP can run free which is not so good for discipline, but great for expending all that puppy energy.

Tonight it is supposed to drop to 17 degrees (F) which will make for a chilly walk in the morning, I'm sure. Winter has officially arrived in Bavaria!

P.S. Happy Homemaker wished me a happy birthday a couple of days ago which was really sweet, only it wasn't my birthday. I appreciate the thought, though, and I'm sure TOIAW wishes it would just "sneak" up on him like that, however, I make that impossible because in our household we celebrate my birthday month rather than one single day. Thank you, Happy Homemaker! I just wanted to clarify lest anyone else think they missed it (ha! like I would allow that to happen).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans' Day


Dear Veterans & Family Members,

Thank you for your selfless service to our country; it does not go unnoticed. You face danger, separation, and a multitide of hardships that would cripple most people. I salute you today and every day. Freedom is not free, it has a price and you pay it. Because of you, I am proud to be an American.



Sunday, November 11, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

Actually, I had an AMAZING time last week. I want to blog about it but it's still so raw and fresh and personal that I'm going to wait another day or so. Suffice it to say, however, that it was a terrific week where I had the chance to meet new friends (woo-hoo!), spend time with older friends, and relax. I also feel like I had a chance to see God in new ways, learn more about Him, have an incredible time worshiping Him, and be still enough to have Him tell me a thing or two. That's how much He loves me. And that's how much He love you, too! Okay, I'll follow up on this later...

So, I got home Thursday to find every dish TOIAW used in 3 days sitting on the kitchen counter. Laundry he can do. Dishes? Not so much. I decided there was no point in getting upset about it because then I would just have to do dishes while upset as there was really no question as to was going to clean those dishes (the dishwasher, duh). I have so many friends who would love to have their husbands home to dirty dishes that I'm not going to say a thing. It's all about perspective, isn't it?

I did have to leave the conference a day early due to a doctor's appointment. It seems my follicles do not want to grow as well as they did with the last cycle so I've been continuing the shots. I don't mind the shots, but it concerns me that the medication doesn't seem to be working as well as it did last time even though the dosage was already adjusted. We go back tomorrow to see what the status is. It goes without saying that I really want this to work, but God know what I need and there is a definite peace in that.

In other news, we had our first real snow of the year! The accumulation has been spotty, but I would say we've had 1/2"-1". I bundled up yesterday to take PP for a walk but it was so cold and windy that I didn't last long. She, however, LOVES the snow and it's so fun to watch her run wide open with her mouth open trying to "catch" the snow. She also sniffs it which results in a series of snorts that I also find amusing. She is a very entertaining creature! It is currently raining so I think all the snow will be gone shortly. The forecast calls for more later this week so we'll see. If I had my choice, I would walk in snow as opposed to rain any day but today it looks as if I will walk in rain. I know Herodotus wasn't talking about me when he extolled the virtues of his couriers yet I still feel the same holds true my dog walking duties.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

No Limits

A couple of weeks ago, TOIAW and I decided to go to the UK for Thanksgiving. We're staying in Wales because we got a good deal on the hotel and TOIAW's older brother (you may recall him, he's the one who wouldn't eat my French Toast souffle and had hot dogs instead) lives in London and I didn't want to be obligated to spend the weekend with him. Good news! He and his lovely wife are coming to hang out with us in Wales...only, they were never invited. That's TOIAW's fault because I told him not to tell them we were going to be there but he did anyway thinking they were going to be in Moscow (they have 2 residences) then and it wouldn't matter. Turns out they are going to be in Moscow, but they decided they would join us anyway. We are using hotel points in order to get the room "free" but BIL is paying $425 (perhaps more if the dollar continues to weaken). Ummm, we're not that much fun to hang out with. But, wait, there's more. Today BIL called and asked if we would change our plans so we could stay closer to Bath because he already has a plan of what he wants to do there. I guess I'm mellowing with age, because I laughed hysterically when TOIAW told me this. Okay, so let me get this straight: You invited yourself along on our holiday and now you want us to change our plans so we can do what you want to do? Right, just checking. Don't think bad of me, but one of the reasons I'm not making a big deal of this is because I know they'll pay for everything. I know, I know...I'm shameless but the money we save means more money for me to spend when I'm home for the holidays.

In other news, I've been cooking and baking all day. It feels like Thanksgiving. I'm going to a conference this week so I pre-made meals for TOIAW. I don't think he fully appreciates how spoiled he is! In my former life, I was a flight attendant and when we got married I would always make food for him to have while I was gone. One time I made a comment about it and one of the ancient flight attendants made fun of me for the rest of the 4-day trip. I don't mind and this way I know he's not just eating junk. I'm almost done with everything but I still need to clean (ick!) and pack but thanks to TOIAW having a few light work days this week, all my laundry is done. Yes, he does laundry and it's wonderful. The catch is he is very proud of his work and will give me a status report--including how many loads he has done, how many he still has to do, and various other laundry-related statistics--approximately every 30 minutes.

See you Thursday!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

They're Just Wasting Their Money

TOIAW is working nights for a couple of weeks (he doesn't like it when I say he's working nights as he prefers the term "reverse cycle operations" but isn't my way much easier to say and understand?). We don't live far from where he works but I still worry about his staying awake on the way home so I bought several of those bottled Frappacinos from Starbucks. As I was putting my groceries on the belt, some lady behind me starts having a loud conversation with her friend about the contents of my basket. First there was criticism of my spending extra money for organic milk then came her dismay of the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables (which I buy at the German stores because the quality and selection is far better). My most egregious shopping error? The Frappacinos, of course. She went on and on and on about how "some people" make such poor financial choices and how she doesn't feel sorry for them since it's their own stupidity blah, blah, blah. She proudly told her companion that she and her husband only have a "smallish" amount of credit card debt, their car loans, and her school loans which they don't have to pay until she graduates in 3 years. Are you kidding me? Shutting her down would have been too easy so I just gave her a look of pity, shook my head, and walked away.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Negative, Ghost Rider, the Pattern is Full

In other words, I'm not pregnant. I suspected as much but then hope just creeps up when you're not looking. I actually took a home pregnancy test Sunday and it was positive. It was digital and I can read just fine so it must have been the left over pregnancy hormone still in my system. Thankfully I took another test (because there were 2 in the pack and I needed to see it again to believe it) early Monday morning and it was negative as was the doctor's office blood test.

I admit to being upset yesterday and I really just wanted to revel in my pity but TOIAW wouldn't let me. When I got home I did my Bible study and God wouldn't let me wallow in pity either. This week's focus is peace and this particular lesson was about Job. Even on my most dramatic days, my trials pale in comparison to Job's...no matter how much I exaggerate. I refuse to allow circumstances to steal the joy and peace I have as a child of God. I have an amazing life; it truly is what I always wanted!

The current plan is to try another round of injectible fertility medications. These are tricky medications and it can take a bit to get the dosage right. My doctor was able to make some necessary adjustments based on how I responded this cycle so it wasn't a complete loss. I am going to a conference next week and was worried about having to give myself the shots but I've had 2 people say they can help me which is a huge blessing!

I now must go retrieve the tool kit from the basement so that I can take apart my vacuum cleaner and remove the dog hair that is preventing the spinning brush from spinning. How could anyone not think my life is complete?!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Post Office Mercies

Usually I hope, wish, and pray that assorted packages will greet me when I go to the post office. Today there were packages I wanted and a certain package I didn't want. Hallelujah, I got the one I wanted and not the one I didn't want. This really never happens because a) there is usually never a package I don't want and, b) the packages always take longer than I expect and they're usually not there when I want.

So today I had a fabulous package of fabric and ribbon that I'm going to use to make all kinds of things of which I promise to post pictures. JCaroline is the best crafting website EVER. I also received some other craft (scrapbooking) stuff I had almost forgotten about. What I didn't receive--and this is the best part--is the package of 15 early-detection pregnancy tests.

This means I can have a weekend of peace! I have a slightly obsessive personality and if I had the tests, I would use them. It's how I roll. This could have had potentially catastrophic consequences because there is a high chance of false positives at this point so I would be forced to test multiple times a day comparing the colors of the lines for evidence of darkening or fading lines. It would have been exhausting.

I know what you're thinking: What about tomorrow or Saturday? Well, I have a plan (I always have a plan). I will check the mail tomorrow but since they do not put packages in my box, only notifications, I will just leave any notifications until Monday and deal with it then. I'm pretty sure I have enough will power for that. If I'm feeling weak, I will take TOIAW. He has enough will power for 4 people. Oh, and since we don't have mail deliveries on Saturday, I'm good.

Alright, it's off on a date for me. I vaguely remember a former life where I showered and shaved my legs prior to going on dates. I've done neither today so I hope he still calls tomorrow...

Thanks For Putting Me In An Awkward Position

On Sunday, when TOIAW and I were shopping, our check-out lady (person?) was Nicole who is also the owner of the kennel where we take PP. It's actually closer to where we used to live, but if she's going to be there for any length of time we still take her there because she really loves it. Sometimes I get the feeling she likes it better than our house but that's probably because she has 24 hour playmates there. When she's there she doesn't stay in a kennel, she just stays in the house with their menagerie and what ever other dogs happen to be there also. A friend of mine once described it as a lot of dogs getting together and renting a house and they allow humans to live there also. Sometimes when they are busy it's like "Lord of the Flies" for dogs. I search to see if any are wearing a conch shell. It's an interesting place but, as I said, PP loves it there and everyone we know uses it so who am I to argue?

Nicole was looking kind of rough that day but, who knows, I probably was also. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before but TOIAW sometimes lacks tact; he's not being rude or purposefully hurtful, he just says the wrong things. I'm working on it, but my sensitivity training is often undermined by his work environment so it's an ongoing process. This is what he said to Nicole, "Wow, you don't look so good. Are you sick or really tired?" [Later I asked him why he said this and he said because she really did look bad. Ummm, yeah, but is it any of your business?] She said she was indeed having a bad day because several of her friends had departed for the desert that morning. That's very sad and we, obviously, understand. The woman ahead of us in line had forgotten her ID so we were just standing there, awkwardly, and then Nicole confessed that one of the "friends" who left was more than a friend and that morning he had asked her to marry him. Awww, congratulations! But, uhhh, what about that guy who lives with you? No, I didn't really ask that and, shockingly, neither did TOIAW.

Nicole goes on to tell us that she and Toby (the guy who lives with her) had separated and agreed not to see other people but, ooops, she kind of broke that deal. We kind of suspected that things weren't going so well and there was the time this summer when we picked-up PP and the windows were open and it took a long time for anyone to come to the door and then a guy other than Toby came to the door so, you know, we kind of put it all together. But the thing is, we like Toby better; we interact with him more, he seems to love our dog (what's not to love other than her predisposition to aggression?), and he's a really nice guy. I just can't believe she felt the need to tell us all of this. Now I wonder what really goes on in that house. Also, I want to call Toby--poor guy! For reasons that were not clear, Nicole is not going to tell him about any of this for a few months and then he will move out. I'm really sad for him because I know he really loves her.

We're asking around to find a new kennel. Our dog is so social, that she just can't be in a cage or room all day and, fortunately, boarding dogs in your house is a common thing here.

We can't help but think this has something to do with PP's extreme fear of pillows (she runs out of the room if I'm arranging the throw pillows on the sofa). Clearly there's something going on there with affairs, break-ups, and pillows...you just never really know someone, huh?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Heart My Crockpot

I was finished making dinner this morning by 8. That rocks.

My menu planning of late consists of presenting TOIAW with a list of meals and then he chooses 4 or 5 or, you know, however many meals I tell him I'm willing to cook that week. That way he has at least had a say and I get a better feel for what he really likes. We've only been married for a year and a half and finding meals he likes has been a little tough for me. He was raised my first-generation Russian immigrants and I was raised in the South. Obviously my family ate different foods than his did. Fortunately, he is used to eating other kinds of food but he really doesn't like anything with ground beef (except tacos, occasionally). I could eat chicken most nights, but he prefers beef. I just don't have that many beef recipes if I have to eliminate ground beef. Thanks to allrecipes.com we manage. When we lived in Washington (state), I prepared a lot of fish but it's not as available here. Oh how I would love to have a gourmet grocery store here!

Since I'm still in "waiting" mode, I'm going to busy myself with some projects today. I am making a quilt for our nephew. Actually I'm expecting a new nephew right after Christmas so I'll be making two quilts but I now only have fabric for one. I should point out that I do not make heirloom quilts with beautiful stitching. No, I make easy quilts with cute fabric which better fits my skill level and that makes me more likely to complete the project. I would get frustrated working on the same quilt for a year or more (the thought makes me laugh because it would never happen). Also, I'm going to organize my craft room and work on some scrapbooking pages. It's going to be a crafting extravaganza!

I really wish I had some indication as to whether or not I am pregnant (see, now the pregnancy thing is creeping into every post). With my last pregnancy I knew right away and I had an early pregnancy test that confirmed it for me. When we have tried in the last few months, I've pretty much known I wasn't pregnant. This month I have no idea; it really could go either way and I'm trying not to obsess one way or the other. Ugh!

Well, the dog is staring at me and giving me serious puppy eyes in order to entice me to walk her. I better be careful because she is a German Shepherd and we all know they are predisposed to aggressive behavior. I don't want to take any chances, so I'm going to walk her straight away before the pouting escalates to something more serious like full-on whining.

Monday, October 22, 2007

16%

I have mentioned infertility here and there on this blog, but I have never devoted an entire post to it. There are many infertility blogs devoted to nothing but injections, appointments, ultrasounds, charts, procedures, and the emotions that go along with all of those things. I read plenty of those blogs but I just haven't wanted to go there, yet. The reason this post is titled "16%" is because I saw Oprah a few weeks ago when the topic was infertility; according to her 16% of couples experience fertility problems.

I should make it clear that my issue really isn't infertility because I have been pregnant three times. Two early (like before 6 weeks) miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy. I am happy with the way TOIAW and I have dealt with our fertility problems. It has not come between us and has actually made us closer. That does not mean, however, that it hasn't been painful. I hurt the most when I see how much he really wants to have children. Believe me, I want it for me...it's something I have always wanted, but I really want it for him also. I want it for us. I rarely allow myself to "go there" and think about how very much I want a baby. I actually didn't realize this until just a few weeks ago but it makes sense. I mean it's a natural coping technique.

So, two weeks ago, after my cyst-removal surgery, I began taking injectible fertility medications. [I might have mentioned this before so sorry in advance if I'm repeating myself.] Everything went well and I had two nice follicles but only one in my right ovary (or, as we call it, the "good ovary" because the left one is not connected to the fallopian tube as a result of the ectopic pregnancy). I took a "trigger" shot last week and we did our thing before TOIAW went on his business trip and now it's just a waiting game. Actually, tonight I'm getting one more shot to help with implantation if the egg was fertilized as it is suspected that the implantation process is where things went wrong with the miscarriage pregnancies, but there is no way of knowing. Okay, so after tonight it's officially just a waiting game until Monday when I will have a blood test...unless my period arrives before then. I'm not a patient person so this is killing me!

Honestly, the timing this month was off due to the surgery and the main reason we decided to try the medication was to see how I reacted to it so we know what works or doesn't for next month. I knew this and I tried not to get my hopes up but it's easier said than done! Our plan is to try this month (done) and next month and, if that doesn't work, move on to IVF after the first of the year. Of course any cysts would prevent us from trying next month and that's a huge fear of mine. I've had a little pain similar to what I had with the cyst which is disconcerting but it could just be the regular progesterone-producing cyst that forms every month in order to support a possible pregnancy. If this is the case, it will go away on it's own and it's of no consequence. The fact that I'm analyzing every detail of this tells you I'm a bit obsessed if you didn't know that already...

Now onto the truly ironic part of this: I am terrified of finding out I'm pregnant. Completely TERRIFIED. It's like pregnancy post traumatic stress disorder. I will never be that person who gets super excited when they pee on a stick and see the two lines and then immediately devises a cutesy way to tell their husband and buys 17 onesies the first month. I have pretty much accepted that and I know that once I know things are going well, I will relax (at least I hope I do!), get excited, and enjoy the pregnancy.

So many of our plans in the past year have been centered around a pregnancy that hasn't happened. It's not like we have or haven't done something because we thought I might be pregnant but we've certainly discussed it when discussing major plans. I remember last year during the holidays when TOIAW's family was discussing summer plans, I didn't want to commit because I thought I would be pregnant. This summer when we discussed our holiday plans, I--again--didn't want to commit to anything. Even as we were having our marathon trying to find tickets session, I wondered what adjustments might have to be made if I find out I'm pregnant. I try to deny it, but getting pregnant occupies a huge part of my thoughts. I don't like it but I think the reason I don't like it is I perceive it as weakness and I should be able to just overcome this but that is not how it works.

One more shot in the stomach tonight (I don't even think twice about it anymore...can you imagine? If you had told me, say two years ago, that I would require daily shots in the stomach in order to have a baby I might have balked but now I have to remind myself that not everyone has to do this!). After that, more waiting. Oh, and the earliest I can pee on a stick is this weekend because the shot is actually an injection of the pregnancy hormone and testing too soon could give me a false positive and that is the last thing I need!

Okay, I'm going to distract myself by cleaning :)

Weekend & Stuff

We didn't do much this weekend but since this blog is my diary, I figured I would chronicle it anyway.

Friday night we went to a Hail & Farewell. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, get on your knees and thank the Lord for you are truly blessed. It's a casual event for a military unit in which they formally welcome new members and spouses and say farewell to those who are leaving. This one wasn't so bad, I must say; the food was great, we had adequate space for our group, the formal portion of the evening was mercifully brief, and our table mates were an open-minded civilian contractor, his lovely foreign-born wife, and--the piece de resistance--their well-behaved 3 year-old. Not all H&F's go so well. I have been to a few that, were they used in place of water-boarding or various other torture techniques, would have resulted in far more surrendered secrets.

Saturday was spent searching for and purchasing airline tickets for the holidays. Sounds easy, enough? What if I said we spent about 6 hours on this task? We did walk the dog and would periodically take breaks but I was determined to book them before they got even more expensive...I was a woman with a mission! I was getting very frustrated with sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, and the like because they would find flights but when I went to actually book the prices had gone up $400. Ugh! This went on and on and on with TOIAW and I passing the computer back and forth until finally I called United and spoke to a very nice woman who helped us. Although TOIAW and I are leaving on different days, we wanted to travel the remainder of our itinerary together. This is not as easy as I thought it would be. In the end, we're paying more than we would have several weeks ago when we were ready to book and TOIAW's family hadn't yet made up their minds about their plans BUT who cares because I'm going to be home with my family for nearly an entire month and I am beyond excited! I will not let a little money and/or his family ruin unfettered access to Target for me.

Sunday began with snow, Snow, SNOW! Okay, just a little bit and it was mixed with rain and it's only October so this could make for a l-o-n-g winter, but who cares? It was snow! It's also been pretty cold with a heavy frost this morning. I'm completely in the holiday spirit :) Anyhoo, we went shopping yesterday and I bought groceries and laundry detergent which pretty much nullifies all my excuses of late. I got beat at Yahtzee! and then we went to bed early. It's not the most exciting life, but it is MY life and I love it...it's JUST what I always wanted!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Play Date

Today was a positively lovely day! I went to visit friends in my former 'hood. We did a little scrapbooking and a lot of talking and it was brilliant (a friend of my friend was there also and she is British so the "brilliant" comment is a shout out to Fiona).

I've kind of been feeling sorry for myself lately (as in the last 6 weeks) because I haven't really made any friends since we moved. I haven't given it that much effort, but there just doesn't seem to be anyone with whom I really click. In addition, we are moving from here in less than a year and, if I were being completely honest with myself, I would have to say I have a rather cavalier attitude about making friends here. That being said, I was invited to my neighbor's Saturday for a fondue night and I had a good time; there are a couple of ladies with whom I seem to have a lot in common and I can see myself spending more time with them.

The friends I was visiting all have husbands who are on extended business trips in the Middle East. The ladies are my heroes. They are simply AMAZING. They are both mom and dad and, though they may not admit it, they manage to do this fabulously. I love these ladies with all my heart. I wish they didn't have to go through this, but they do it with such grace it hardly looks difficult (oh, but it is!). There are many ways to serve your country and these ladies are certainly doing just that. They are the ones who keep it all together so their husbands can leave and do what they do. Please remember them in your prayers!

Okay, now I have some housekeeping chores calling my name. When TOIAW gets home, I like him to think all I did was clean and do chores while he was gone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On the Mend

No more hives, woo-hoo! It's strange that they disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared. Well, the fact that I took Benadryl every 4 hours might have had something to do with it, but after my last dose, they just went away.

I took care of some errands today and then came home and played with my new scrapbooking supplies. Good times, good times. TOIAW had to go to a former Eastern-block country of some sort so I'm home alone.

I never gave an update about LBHN and her SAT word-spouting husband. TOIAW went over to speak to him, as directed. He seemed to think it went well. The bottom line is our dog will not go near any member of their family and nothing beyond that is any of his business. TOIAW can be rather direct, in case you didn't catch on to that. The neighbor mentioned something about it being commonly known that German Shepherds are predisposed to aggressive behavior. TOIAW found it quite ironic that their dog jumped on him while they were talking and it should be noted that their Lab is much larger than PP.

Also, I never did go to Munich to see TOIAW's brother and sister-in-law. They seemed to have a good time though and so did I so it was a win-win situation.

Okay, it's back to crafting for me!

Super Bug

As if I needed another reason to fuel my germaphobic tendencies. If you're a hypochondriac, you might want to skip reading this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Holy Hives, Batman!

Last night TOIAW and I were watching a movie and I kept scratching my legs. I could feel a few bumps on them and thought they were just bug bites or something. I'm not sure when or how I could have gotten bug bites on my upper thighs, but what else could it be? When I went to bed I slathered up with cortisone cream. I had to reapply about 2:30am and I vaguely recall thinking my eye felt strange but I don't remember looking at it. So, when I woke-up at 7:00 to hop in the shower, I was a bit shocked at the face in the mirror! My right eye was almost completely shut and my left eye was only half-open. I had the mysterious bumps all over my body. I asked TOIAW to look and all he could do was remind me that he will get no sleep tonight due to a flight he is taking and he has to work a full day tomorrow. Yes, BUT MY EYES ARE ALMOST COMPLETELY SWOLLEN SHUT! This got his attention. He asked if I had any trouble breathing (I didn't), and then he just laughed and pointed out how I looked like Will Smith in "Hitch" when he had an allergic reaction to shellfish. Thanks, Honey.


We called my doctor who doesn't think it was a reaction to any of the medications I am taking. I did have a shot yesterday but it was a shot of the pregnancy hormone in order to induce ovulation and I have had it several times before. Also, the reaction didn't begin until more than 12 hours after the shot. I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what could have caused this. Everything I did yesterday was normal. Normal foods, normal routines, no exposure to cleaning products which is very normal...I just don't know what caused this. According to Dr. Google though, it's not uncommon to not find out the cause. Great. That's what we were told about the miscarriages. I'm not completely convinced, however; I do think it is a possible reaction to the fertility meds.


Because I didn't want to go to the clinic and sit for who knows how many hours before I saw a doctor, I went next door to beg for some Benadryl. It helped a lot and now I'm waiting for TOIAW to come home so I can get my next fix. The problem spots seem to be my head (weird) and upper thighs. I'm trying really hard not to scratch.


**UPDATE**Well, it looks like I will be going to the clinic in the morning. The hives have spread to my feet and it is very painful to walk. I mean, seriously, does this really happen to people? I'm even missing neighborhood Bunco tonight because close fitting clothing is not good and I can't walk...I don't think they want to see my bra-less, puffy-eyed, limping self. We haven't lived here long and I don't want people to get scared.

This all reminds me of a funny story...about 2.5 years ago TOIAW was on an extended business trip in the desert and I was living in Louisville, KY for my job as a flight attendant. I lived with two other flight attendants one of which was also a Hooters' girl who, not surprisingly, was in amazing shape. She recommended some kind of supplement for me to take before my workouts promising who knows what, but one day I decided to give it a go. So there I am working out in this amazing place (I only include that link because if you ever live there, you MUST join their gym) with the after-work crowd. It was busy but I was be bopping to my iPod doing my weights program. I noticed this woman staring at me with a puzzled look on her face. I thought she was just in awe of my program and how I rocked it. Not so much. Finally she approached me and said that my face looked really red and she was concerned. I remember my exact reply to her: "Oh, it's okay, I always look like this when I workout."

I then went over to do hand weights and, for the first time since ingesting the "awesome Hooter's girl supplement," I looked in the mirror. My eyes were both very swollen which was probably good because it prevented me from noticing the HUGE welts on my face and neck in their totality. Needless to say, I ran to the locker room and rushed home to ingestconsume massive quantities of Benadryl. I never used the aforementioned supplement again. Also, Hooters never called.

Oh, it's okay, I always look like this when I workout. From them on, I always went to the gym during the day.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

He's Still Working On Me

Did you ever sing that song when you were little? "He's still working on me, to make be what I ought to be. It took him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the Earth, and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be...He's still working on me." Praise God!!!

I have no doubt it was easier for God to make the entire known (and unknown) universe than it was for Him to make me. Maybe not so much the making me part, more the working on me part. I can just see Him, "Yeah, that Jupiter was a snap compared to Rachel..."

I woke-up this morning feeling refreshed. I just knew God had something He wanted to say to me. I'm currently doing Beth Moore's study Living Beyond Yourself but before I reached for that, I turned on the computer. In true procrastinator's fashion, I thought I would surf the web a bit. I somehow stumbled on this little gem. WOW! I have only listened to these short spots one other time. It was in May and I was going through what I thought was my third miscarriage although it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. The website doesn't seem to have archives beyond September, but let me just tell you I feel to my knees weeping when I listened to that short segment. It was about trusting God. ALL. THE. TIME. Like what I heard today, it wasn't even the first clip on the chronological list, just one I randomly clicked.

So let's just say I won't be talking to LBHN unless my heart is in the right place. It also occurred to me that this is just a misunderstanding. It's very possible they have had a bad experience with a German Shepherd in the past or are just afraid of them on general principle. I fancy myself a responsible pet owner and I deeply regret any angst my dog might have caused them. I believe there are no bad pets, just bad pet owners.

I know that God's judgement is based on TRUTH (Romans 2:2) and, like everything else, His way is infinitely better than Rachel's way. This is amazingly liberating!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't Go Messin' With My Dawg

My evening was going really well; TOIAW's brother couldn't make it to our house due to a train strike (I swear I had nothing to do with it but, nevertheless, Power to the People) so TOIAW drove to Munich and I don't have to participate until tomorrow, Survivor is on tonight, and I'm alone so I have unfettered Internet access...sounds good, huh?

Not too long after TOIAW left, the doorbell rang. I answered it to see this huge African-American man standing there. He asked if my husband was home and I said no. He asked where he was and when he would be home. Because of what the man was wearing, I could tell who he was and where he falls in the pecking order around here (I'm sure you can figure out why we live here but I don't want to actually say it) and let's just say he falls a smidgen higher than TOIAW so I tell him everything he wants to know and ask if I can help him. He said he needed to talk to my husband "neighbor to neighbor" before he has to escalate things to a bunch of people whose names I don't recognize but who I assume are also above both of them in the pecking order.

Okay, would you please mind telling me WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT? He says my dog, Princess Poopsalot, jumped on his wife today. Yeah, she did, I saw her and I agree that it was totally inappropriate. This is how it went down: TOIAW was obsessively cleaning the car (as per standard operating procedure) which was in it's parking spot about three steps from out front door. I opened the door to ask him a question and while we were talking someone walked out of the neighbor's house (we'll call this neighbor Nice Neighbor, NN). I heard the NN's voice and assumed she was outside so I didn't think much when PP went over there because NN always wants to pet and talk to PP. Only NN didn't walk out but Long Blonde Hair Neighbor (LBHN) did. PP did jumped on LBHN the way dogs jump on people to play. While it was not malicious, it was by no means right and it really bothered me because I thought we had conquered that particular bad-behavior issue. I immediately told PP NO and called her into the house. She immediately came in with her ears down knowing what she had done wrong. LBHN had said to her, very sweetly, "no, don't jump on me" and then went on to exchange a few how-are-you words with TOIAW but I didn't participate in that because I was disciplining PP. Obviously I was mortified that the incident upset her so much and I apologized to her husband, asked if she was okay, and then apologized again for the fact that I didn't apologize to her at the time. He kind of stopped and said, "So you saw it happen?" I said yes and I understand why he wants to speak with TOIAW and I would have him go over as soon as he gets home, I thanked him for speaking to us first before escalating the issue, blah, blah, blah. I really thought we were on the same page and I was genuinely upset that PP had frightened LBHN.

He just kept going on and on and on and I kept apologizing. He then said that this was clearly part of a pattern because his wife told him PP had recently knocked over a 3-year-old neighborhood child and was frequently ran around off a leash. I told him I was unaware of these incidents and asked who the child was and where PP was seen running wild. He had no details. By this point, I really just wanted him to leave. I must admit I was secretly cursing TIOAW wondering why he was so lax with PP when I was not around. Then he said this, "A German Shepherd who pins a grown woman to the ground and gets in her face is a serious threat." Ummmm, duh...oh, wait, are you talking about MY dog? He was...

I had to force myself to close my mouth. I told him that was NOT the incident I witnessed. I was horrified. Beyond horrified. I told him that was COMPLETELY unacceptable behavior and I started to get a little emotional. He only lectured me for a little longer before taking his leave.

What was TOIAW thinking when he failed to mention that this happened? How could he let PP jump on this already traumatized woman a second time in one day? When he answered his phone I could hardly speak!!! I finally asked him what happened and his response? What are you talking about?

It's too late to make this long story short, but let me just say LBHN is a Liar, Liar All Your Bad Bleach Job Hair Is On Fire! I immediately lost it (I'm going to blame the latest round of fertility meds for that) and couldn't talk for several minutes. How dare she! I am so upset...I'm better than I was but I'm just completely flabbergasted. I have been around this organization long enough that nothing really surprises me anymore but occasionally I can still be shocked and, believe me, I was shocked! And then hurt because who makes up lies and then sends their husband dressed in full battle rattle to fight for your honor? Does he not pay attention to you otherwise? You know, that's your shtick, but must you involve me...and my dog?!

My plan: I'm going to go over to her house tomorrow and make sure she is okay. The Southern accent will probably come along and I might even bring some baked goods. I'm going to tell her I am oh so sorry for not having noticed that my dog had her pinned to the ground even though I was standing no more than eight feet from her. I will assure her that nothing like this will never EVER happen again. I would have gone tonight but since I think it was completely inappropriate for her husband to come to my door at 7:45 and talk to me for more than 15 minutes, I'm not going to do that to her. In any event, I'm sure she was taking a hot bath or something to help get over her traumatic day.

Meanwhile, my vicious German Shepherd is laying perfectly calm next to me. At some point--and this was while he was talking (which was most of the time)--she let out a loud sigh and put her head on the floor. Is it bad that wish she would have jumped on him?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

French Toast Souffle

Tracey asked for this recipe. You should check out her blog. It's real, it's funny, it's a bit sad at times and it's hopeful. I have no doubt it she and her husband will bring home their baby soon.

I have a rather large collection of cook books, but I often find myself logging onto allrecipes.com as well. I like to read what other people thought of the recipe and what, if any, changes they made. [In general, I'm pretty obsessed with product reviews.] Every time I make it, it's probably a bit different in terms of size and amounts of ingredients because I'm always reading the reviews and adjusting according to others' suggestions. My best advice is to make it in a 9"x13" or similarly shallow dish rather than a deeper casserole dish. Also, all bread types work so just go with what you have. The best part is it's assembled the night before!

The Ties That Bind...and Strangle

Last night TOIAW's older brother called to tell us he would be visiting this weekend. Super. I didn't think I would have a lot of drop-in guests when I moved to Themiddleofnowhere, Germany, but that's what I get for thinking. I suppose I should be thankful that he hasn't visited more often because he and his wife live in London (we did go see them once last year but going to London is hardly a hardship). This week he is in Munich which is about an hour and a half away. The plan was to meet him and his wife there on Friday but now she isn't coming in until Saturday morning so BIL called yesterday and said he would just stay with us Friday night. Great.

Let me just tell you what happened when he came a few weeks ago. He came in on Friday and immediately wanted to go to the American-style grocery store so TOIAW took him. They came home with many bags of JUNK that cost us more than what I usually spend on groceries for a week (and I had just been shopping the day before). We then took him out to dinner. I made my famous French Toast Souffle for breakfast on Saturday. I am NOT exaggerating one bit when I tell you that BIL sat down, looked at the spread (I also prepared fruit salad and a meat and cheese plate), turned toward TOIAW and said, "Do you have anything else?" I was completely dumbfounded and silent which is probably a good thing. BIL decided he would like to have a HOT DOG. I got him a pan for that and then he decided that he wanted to make corn for lunch and he needed to start it right then because it would take 2-3 hours to cook. Okay, I might have said something about this but of course he argued back so I just got him a big stock pot but he thought he needed to use my Dutch oven. At that point, I walked out of the kitchen and went upstairs. I didn't go back downstairs until after they left the house. When I did I found the kitchen a mess with a distinct eau de hot dog. So. Gross.

Before leaving he left me a detailed list of what I need to do in order to get his wife a visa to come to Germany. She is a Russian citizen who refuses to apply for US citizenship. I think this is silly but I really don't care much. Well, I didn't care until I spent 8+ hours of my life getting an official invitation letter for her to take to the consulate in London so she could get a visa. I like her, I really do and even though this was a huge imposition, I'm pretty much over it. The thing that bothers me is when she catalogs the list of why she does not want US citizenship. Hello? I am a US citizen as is your husband who, along with his family, was taken in from the former Soviet Union, given religious asylum, and educated in elite institutions which allowed him to get a job that finances your haute couture shopping sprees (her wedding dress cost more than my entire wardrobe and all she could talk about was how she got a great "deal"). So don't disrespect my country, Commie! But, as I said, I really do like her.

I'm not sure what our Saturday plan is because I vetoed the plan to stay in a $300 a night hotel in Munich. I'm not opposed to spending money on a nice hotel room but this is not a special occasion and it's only an hour and a half from our house. Of course BIL offered to pay for it. That's his modus operandi anytime we bow out of something for financial reasons. I need to come up with something better because what we are really saying, and he knows it, is, "We have the money but we don't want to spend it on X." What I think he thinks we're saying is, "We won't do it unless you pay for it."

Undoubtedly this weekend will include a discussion about our annual family New Year's vacation which is not to be confused with the annual family summer vacation. That, however, is an entirely different post and I need to clean because I'm expecting guests this weekend :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Differing Styles and Alternative Lifestyles

On Monday we decided to trek to our neighborhood IKEA. It's not really in our neighborhood or even in our town but, thanks to the Autobahn, it's not a long drive. IKEA really magnifies the vast expanse that exists between my style and TOIAW's style. He's more of a Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater to my Pottery Barn/Southern Living meets French Country. Not that my house looks anything like that, but I'm working on it. I like to think it would help if I actually had my own house.

While at IKEA we ran into someone whose husband worked with TOIAW for a few years. I knew them for quite awhile before learning they are Wiccan. Now, for a New York Jew and a Southern girl, that is an alternative lifestyle! I'm not sure exactly how I envision Wiccans but these people don't really fit the mold. I can't quite get it out of my mind when I am speaking with her and it doesn't help that she wears a very large pendant with a pagan symbol on it. Somehow we began discussing her oldest daughter's boyfriend and how freaked out he was when they told him it was fine with them if he spent the night whenever he wanted. TOIAW never quite digested that tidbit of information and I had to say our goodbyes before he said to her what he said to me when we got outside.

Suffice it to say we might no agree on decor, but neither our daughter(s) nor our son(s) will have opposite sex sleepovers.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Back In the Saddle Again

Outpatient surgery? HA! THREE days later we made it home. Apparently, some scar tissue from a surgery in May (to remove an ectopic pregnancy) caused some problems which is why I had to stay a few extra days. The good news is, all is good and the surgery went well; the cyst is gone and tests showed that my right fallopian tube is open and everything else looks to be in order as well. I'm feeling very well with minimal soreness.

I have an appointment with the fertility specialist tomorrow and from there we will determine what the next step is. I think it's too late in my cycle to begin any kind of stimulation so I expect that we will try things the natural way this month and then use drugs next month, if necessary. Of course, when I think about that my mind goes into overdrive and I start considering the second- and third-order effects of a pregnancy this month or next. I will be traveling home for the holidays and will most likely leave in early December since TOIAW will not be home then anyway. I just think and think and think about what ifs and drive myself whacky. This is where I need to focus on my priorities and my number one priority is getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Travel plans can be changed and, as I told TOIAW last night, having to make adjustments due to pregnancy concerns would be a GOOD problem to have!

In any event, I need to remember a quote I read a week or so ago: "Inch by inch life's a cinch. Yard by yard life is hard." I don't know who said it. A friend of mine said she sang it in a song when she was a little girl. I do, however, know that it is an excellent mantra and I shall try to recall it when my mind starts doing it's thing.

TOIAW is off today so I think we're going to go exploring. I might even wear make-up!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Grandma Update

My grandmother's surgery went very well. The tumor was contained and not attached to the lung wall (whatever that means). Additionally, the second biopsy showed the cancer to be the kind that probably would not require further treatment meaning no chemo or radiation therapy. This is, of course, VERY good news!

She is currently in ICU and will be there for 3-4 days. This was a major surgery and the recovery will be painful, I'm afraid. It is my prayer that this is a wake-up call for her. I hope that she takes better care of herself in her remaining years so that she can get the most out of life! She has been very sad since my grandfather died and I think this has been a very good wake-up call for her. Many people are alive but it is an individual choice as to whether or not you are going to LIVE your life.

This has also been a huge wake-up call for me. I need to find ways to engage my grandparents and spend time with them even though I'm so far away. They are not going to be here forever so I need to get all the recipes, stories, and memories of them now so that I don't have any regrets. It won't make it any easier for me when they do go, but that way I'll still have pieces of them here with me.

Thank you again for all your prayers and words of encouragement. I know I've said that a million times already but I just want you to know how very much I appreciate it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dr. Funk

Dr. Wolfgang Funk to be more precise. Yes, he is a real person. He's my anesthesiologist. Yes, I have an anesthesiologist because, that's right kids, the hits just keep on coming this week!

Well it's not really that bad. I had a fertility doctor appointment today only to discover that one of the cysts is still sticking around. Auf wiedersehen, cyst, it's time for you to go. The eviction will take place Friday morning. We were having a tough time trying to decide what to do this weekend, so there you go!

While waiting to see the doctor I read this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, "A woman is like a tea bag - you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." This is SO true (well, except for Britney Spears). I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the sweet comments on my last post. My grandmother's surgery is today at 1:30pm CST. It is expected to last 3-4 hours and I will post an update once I know something. But as I was saying, your comments were very kind. Sometimes it's just good to know that you're understood. Not everything in life can be "fixed" but when we know that someone else has felt or does feel the way we do, it is a tremendous comfort. This is why, according to one of my dearest friends and maid of honor, support groups are so helpful and therapeutic (she's a therapist so she know what she's talking about). Thank you again for your kind words and prayers!

By the way, I did meet Dr. Funk and I was really impressed. He was very thorough and kind. I had to make up some questions because I got the impression he really wanted me to ask him something. I feel very confident in his anesthesiological acumen. Also, I figure if your name is Wolfgang Funk, God is going to give you some natural abilities to compensate for that.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Big Week

On 19 September, my grandmother's 82nd birthday, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Further testing has shown that it is in the upper part of her lung and is contained which makes surgery the next step. The first biopsy wasn't conclusive so a second one was performed Friday and barring any unforeseen discoveries, her surgery will be Tuesday or Wednesday. She will be hospitalized for 8-10 days afterwards and then most likely radiation will follow. Up until today, I've handled it pretty well but I feel my confidence waning a bit. She called me a few days ago, the day she found out she needed a second biopsy, and was very upset. I wanted so much to say something uplifting and profound but I didn't. She openly questioned whether or not she would be able to overcome this and before I could say anything she answered herself and said she would and that she would do it for us (her family). I told her she needed to fight for herself, for HER life and that we love her and would support her and pray for her. It is very unnatural for children to become the parents. Instead of her comforting me, as it's always been, I was comforting and encouraging her. I know that may sound selfish but it's not about that. Fundamentally, it's the change that I find so unpalatable. I don't like to face the reality that my grandparents are getting older. In November, Papa John, my grandma's husband, will have been dead 10 years. It was a sudden death--heart failure--and in the last 10 years I've pretty much been in denial that any of the rest of them would leave as well.

Yesterday was my Papa Joe's 82nd birthday. Today is his wife's, aka Ma, 81st birthday. Tomorrow Papa goes in for a consultation with a neurologist to determine whether or not he is a healthy candidate for a stint in his neck to improve blood flow. Currently he has significant blockage on both sides. He had a stroke about 20 years ago and has significantly improved his diet and maintains very impressive cholesterol levels but no medication is good at undoing arterial plaque build-up. We've known about this appointment for a few weeks and it is expected that he will be given the green light for the procedure but the cardiologist wanted to make sure because of his age and I'm thankful he is being careful. The alternative of not doing anything, however, obviously puts him at a high risk for another stroke.

I grew up VERY close to all four of my grandparents. I am the oldest grandchild on both sides and the only girl on my mom's side (and for 25 years I was the only girl on my dad's side and the only granddaughter Papa John ever knew). As you might imagine, I was more than a little spoiled! They have been my cheerleaders, confidants, friends, teachers, and a soft spot to fall when my parents and I wanted to kill each other. The thought of having a baby that didn't meet them...I just can't think about it.

I understand that my emotion is not just about these specific illnesses, it's about coming to terms with the reality that one day they will leave and I will be here without them. I prefer to bury my head in the sand but this week I cannot. I was talking to Papa Joe last week when I found out about Grandma and he told me that he wasn't going to be here forever but he loves me, he knows I love him, he's had a great life, and he's proud of me. That certainly helps, but I'm still not ready.