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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ad Astra Per Aspera

Ad Astra
When I get to work early in the morning during the winter, I park in a lot a block and a half away from the building that I work in.  I work downtown across the street from the statehouse.  I am one of the early workers.  I love it, because then I get to leave earlier, which is nice because I beat the high traffic times and get home early to work out and get things done around the house.  (Or, you know, sit around playing on the computer while browsing Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy.)  Anyhow, during the winter, the Capitol building is gorgeous.  It's still a little dark, the sun hasn't peeked out yet, and the beautiful copper (for now) dome with our Native American archer, Ad Astra, on top, stands tall against a sumptuous deep blue sky.

I live in Kansas and I was born and raised here.  I was raised in an idyllic small town.  You know the type.  It had an actual soda jerk fountain behind two horseshoe shaped counters at the drug store.  You could order actual cherry sodas, the actual soda with ice cream.  My favorite drink was a chocolate Dr. Pepper.  They sold Tootsie Pops and you could even turn in the wrappers with stars on them for a free one!

My town had several churches, a couple local restaurants, and a dime store that when I was really young, you could buy actual penny candy.  You didn't get charged tax until it was more than $0.25 worth.  We walked home from school every single day and I would sometimes stop in at the City Clerk's office to see my Mom.  She still works there.
The dirt road near my in-law's house
In my small town, everybody knew everyone and everyone's business, both good and bad.  We played in the streets, at the ballfield, in our neighbors' backyards, and down by the creek every single day until my friend's mom whistled loudly for supper.  We had several elderly neighbors that we would periodically visit and bring them cards and drawings.  In exchange, we'd get candy or pop, or sometimes wood scraps to use to build cities for our Hotwheels.

Not a lot has changed there since I graduated high school and moved away.  The drug store was replaced by a dentist's office and the soda fountain got moved across the street to a little cafe.  Several stores downtown changed hands, the brick Main street we cruised every Friday and Saturday night was redone, and they added a stop sign to the old 3-way stop at the end of Main.  That's hard to get used to and I'm sure many a returning voyager has accidentally blown through that stop sign.

Planting is done
Kansas invades your soul.  It is full of plains of possibilities, endless farmland that beckons to be tilled and planted, then burned and tilled again.  Abandoned farmhouses become the homes of itinerant cattle and the sun sets on golden waving wheat during the early summer and austere landscapes broken up by half-cut corn stalks in the winter.

I can breathe here.  I can breathe anywhere, but especially here.  The ghosts of my forefathers root me to the ground and I am whole again.  Many weekends we visited my grandparents.  They each had farms.  We bottle fed calves, let them suck on our fingers, and I even rode one of them with my Grandpa's help!  We played with runt pigs, jumped off the end of an old cattle chute, climbed on top of the old tractor tire leaned up against the barn, and snuck mulberries off the trees, our stained fingers and lips telling the tale for us.

My daughter and her Grandpa, several years ago
To be a citizen of Kansas is to wear the badge of toughness and determination.  Pride and perseverance are familiar traits, reminding us of our Dust Bowl ancestors and our innovators, explorers, inventors, and artists.  We are not all Dorothys, but we do all share a common yearning for home in our souls.

I will probably never truly leave this state.  My heart staked its claim on this rough hewn ground long ago.  Kansas is too beautiful and stoic to be forgotten or left anywhere. Years from now, hopefully rocking on the front porch beside my husband, I will still have those memories of warm summer breezes fishing in the little pond a few miles on the gravel from our old house.  I will still gaze in awe at the pristine sky filled with billions of stars and I will still feel the love for this place deep in my bones.

Happy 154th Birthday Kansas!!  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday 5: Would You Rather....

1.  Have your spouse be sick and sleep in another room OR have your sickly other half sleep next to you because you can't sleep without him there?

2.  Have someone go on and on about how awesome their life is OR listen to someone talk about how this world is totally screwed and there's nothing anyone can do?

3.  Go all winter without shaving your legs OR Go all summer without working out?

4.  Forget your own birthday OR Forget a special event in your relationship?

5.  Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans OR Chris Pine?

For the record, I would totally lose sleep either way on #1, so I'd rather he be in another room so that I can try to not get sick.

I would totally listen to the positive than the negative, but I'd bitch about both.  The humblebraggers are annoying and the complainers just want to pull you into their misery.  Don't fall for it!  Take it from Admiral Ackbar:  

I am all about Sasquatchin' it out over the winter.  I can't stand working out, but at least you get some endorphins kicking in afterwards.  Though, now that I think about it, shaving your legs after 3 months of winter is probably similar to an Olympic event.

I am going to take some heat for this, but I'd rather forget a special event in our relationship than my own birthday.  As long as I remember my anniversary or my dateaversary, it's all good, but to forget my own birthday?  How would I know that I turned 29 (again)?  Plus, I love a good Halloween/Birthday Bash!

Lastly, I mean, is it even a contest really?  Chris Hemsworth all the way!  Thor for the win!  Something about that magic hammer.  ;)

Have a great week everyone!  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fertility, Infertility, and Love

My husband and I got married a week before my 27th birthday.  He was already 27.  He already had 2 kids (long story short, he sowed a few too many wild oats when he was single) and we weren't in a huge rush to try for a baby.  The following is our fertility journey.

We waited about a year before we started trying for children.  Unfortunately, it was around that time that I started having problems with my heart.  I was born with a congential heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries and I started having arrhythmia.  I was going into atrial fibrillation and wouldn't naturally come out.  Over the next 1 1/2 years, I was cardioverted (shocked back into rhythm) over 10 times.  I tried 5 different medications and nothing worked.  Finally, my adult CHD specialist recommended a procedure called stereotaxic ablation.  It seemed to work.

However, a couple months later, as we were asking questions about potentially trying for a child, my CHD specialist recommended that I have a pacemaker placed.  He said it would be easier and safer to do it now so that if something happened in the pregnancy I would already have it.  They wouldn't be able to put one in if I was already pregnant and in medical trouble.  On February 22, 2008, I became half robot.  Haha.

After that, we were given the all clear to try for a child.  I was now 30 years old and very anxious to have children, because I didn't want my stepkids to be too old to have younger siblings.  The doctor I went to at the time told me that I would have to try naturally for a year before they would prescribe any type of medication to potentially help the cause.

Side note:  If I knew then what I know now, I would have sought a NFP knowledgeable physician right away when they told me that.  I didn't.  I was wary of Natural Family Planning and thought it wouldn't work if I didn't have a regular menstrual cycle.

So, we tried for a year.  Nothing.  I started going to a OB/GYN that had me come in for monthly vag cams to see if my follicles were big enough to get a shot and try to stimulate ovulation.  I tried that for probably another 6 months before I was referred to a fertility specialist in Kansas City.  That guy?  That guy obliterated my spirit.  The fertility specialist told me that the reason I was probably not getting pregnant was because I was so fat.  As you can imagine, that made my confidence soar. /snark  I started sobbing right in front of him and his comment was, "I can see this is an emotional thing for you."  No shit Sherlock.

I kept seeing him though, doing the rounds of vag cams, shots, and visits, over and over and over again.  I peed in a lot of cups.  My husband and I were almost tired of sex, because it was so routine.  You have NO IDEA how many times I thought about that scene from Election.  The one where he and his wife are trying to get pregnant and she keeps trying to 'motivate' him per se.  The emotional disconnect can be significant when intimacy becomes a rote action.

Needless to say, it was fruitless.  We tried for 5 years and the only time we ever conceived, I had a miscarriage before I even knew I was pregnant.  It was torture.  The year I had my miscarriage, I had a sister, a sister-in-law, and two friends have babies all within a couple months of when mine would have been born.  Soul crushing, devastating...yes, those are accurate descriptions of my emotions.

We stopped trying two years ago.  I turned 35 and didn't want to risk a potentially traumatic pregnancy due to the combination of my heart condition and my age.

When we were trying, I prayed a rosary every single day.  I said a prayer to St. Gerard Majella.  I prayed over and over to have a child.  I imagined what that would be like.  The joy of a positive test, the announcement to family and friends, the cute maternity clothes.  I wished for a pregnant belly that I would put headphones over and play all my favorite tunes.  I mean, my baby had to hear The Beatles in the womb! I would read them amazing literature, too.  Shakespeare and Tennyson, Whitman and Austen... I imagined the anxiety and anticipated the pain of childbirth, the ecstasy of seeing that little human made from Rick's DNA and mine, for the first time.  I thought so hard over it all.  I was so excited to see this little human grow up and notice where they got their little quirks from.  I longed, pined, yearned for the time to teach them all I knew, to be there for them through everything.

You have to understand...being a stepmother is an amazing journey all in its own right, but my kids go back to their mothers' homes at the end of a weekend and I don't get to be there for the daily homework help.  I don't get addressed as Mom.  I don't get to be there every single day to ask them how school was or what their friends are doing or a million other things that get discussed on a daily basis.

I had a burning desire to be a Mom who kissed knees, bandaged fingers, taught them about their family history, rocked them, comforted them, kissed them, and stood over their crib listening to them breathe.  A stepmom's life doesn't typically get those opportunities.

At the end of the trying, I realized I needed a different prayer and so, I started praying that if this was not meant to be my purpose, that this ache in my heart would recede.  I prayed for God to give me the strength to live without a beautiful baby reaching their slobbery hand toward me and cooing 'mama'.

My husband and I had a long heart-to-heart one night, when I finally realized God granted that prayer.  We both sobbed.  He told me that he had seen the change in me.  He knew I was better and
that I wasn't anguished anymore.  He knew it was time to move on.  We held each other tightly and I knew it would be better.

However, today I read a comment about someone else's fertility journey and how they wanted, NEEDED to have their own child so that they could have that experience of having a baby that was truly theirs.  I get it.  I truly, desperately understand.  I wish I didn't.  Wishes are ephemeral, mercurial, translucent...they aren't always granted in a way we'd expect.

My journey is not over yet.  My stepkids are 12 and I will always cherish every moment with them.  I adore my friends' children and cuddle with new babies whenever I get a chance.  I will never not think about this, but it does get easier.  Besides, I'm still committed to caring for others and I do so joyfully and zealously.  I am volunteering at a girls' book club after schools, reading books to the girls in a local school.  I am going to start visiting the elderly in the nursing homes through my church's Ministry for the Aging.  I lector at my church and am involved with Women's Fellowship.  My husband and I have also gone through classes to be foster parents.  We have a ton of paperwork to do to be licensed, but we are getting there.

This fertility journey has changed me, it's changed my husband and it's changed our marriage.  Give love, my friends.  It's okay to cry.  It's okay to grieve.  When the time comes, it's beautiful to pass that love around.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Letter to My Fat(t)

My dear, darling Wobbly Bits,

This was one farewell letter I never thought I would write.  You have been with me for so long, it seemed a bit unrealistic that you'd ever leave.

You were there for me during some very vulnerable moments in my life.  You helped shape my junior high and high school experience.  To be fair, I didn't really care for you then.  You caused a LOT of hurt feelings and anger.  I blamed you as the sole reason why I never dated in high school, although truthfully, it was probably because I was kind of a know-it-all bitch.  That's a story for another day, my friend.

Instead, I really want to reminisce about all of our lovely times together.  Boy, we had some hoots, didn't we?  I'll never forget the myriad of times you helped pop a button or two off my pants.  Oh, lawdy, it seemed like you always did it at
the most inopportune and embarrassing moments!  Hilarious, dear friend.  I mean, there is nothing like losing a button and having to go all day trying to carefully orchestrate my movements so no one saw my tan knickers underneath. are truly one of a kind fatt.  I'm designating you an extra 'T' for Terrific, because that's how much you mean to me.

What about that time that we overheard a guy's friends talk about you?  Oh my, I was riled up that day.  Here we were, just having a fun time with a guy we both found interesting, only to hear his friends wonder why he would ever be with someone who was fatt.  How dare they insult you?  I just upped and walked out of there on your behalf.  I was appalled for you, and myself.

That's okay though, I knew our relationship was rock solid.  You were there when I was (non)dumped  (It's a long story for another time, really) by my college boyfriend and comforted me through that horrid, desperate last semester.  You gave me some cushion for that hurt.  You listened to Trisha Yearwood's "How Do I live" with me over and over ad nauseam until my friends threatened to throw away that CD.  You were there when he tried to get back together with me and I told him we were different people and let him know I was moving on.  You helped me be strong.  It probably helped that there was a lot more of you in the weeks and months following that breakup.

Don't forget how exciting you made it when I danced!  So much fun, wasn't it?!  Fatt, you really helped those wobbly bits jiggle to the music!  It was always entertaining when you were around.  I probably couldn't have consumed nearly as many Lemon Drop shots without you!

Oh my, I'm already talking about you in the past tense.  I can't believe it!  37 years I've found comfort in you.  37 years I've talked bad about you, loved you, hated you, tried to banish you from my life only to have you return like Arnie in that one movie.  You know, Expendables 2, when he comes back to help fight the bad guys with Sly Stallone and Jason Statham...oh, Statham...muscles...I digress.  Sorry.

Anywho, we've had a ride, haven't we?   You were even there when I met and fell in love with the most fantastic man, my husband Rick.  Do you remember that first rush of emotions and every subsequent squeeze thereafter?  I even remember after he proposed and someone asked if I was going to try to get rid of you before the wedding.  I vehemently denied that prospect.  I mean, why would I do that to you fatt?  If he loved you and I together, surely you belonged there as much as my bridesmaids?

You really settled in after Rick and I were married.  I had the happy and now I had even more of the fatt.  I was truly fatt and happy.  I still am, though there's less of you than there was.  For some reason, my energy and subsequent happiness has increased considerably as you have been packing up.

But alas, old friend, it's time to say goodbye.  It's been a long and arduous journey, but I think we're both better off apart.  I'm glad you aren't just GONE, without a backwards glance.  I'm glad you are taking your time in moving on, I don't want to rush you.  It's hard to lose you though.  My husband doesn't have as much of me to squeeze without you.  My wobbly bits don't jiggle as much when I am dancing as they used to.  My pants are eons away from popping buttons now.  In fact, they are barely hanging on to my hips most of the time nowadays.

Don't expect a reunion any time soon, though.  I will not be going all Lloyd Dobler on you, no "In your Eyes" playing on a raised boombox to get you back.  We've had a lot of fun, you and I, but it's time.  This is the last hurrah.  I will miss you...but we'll always have the memories.

One last John Bender fist in the air for you, my friend.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just Another Tuesday 5

1.  I started a new way of menu planning this week.  I wrote down all of the normal meals that I make on note cards.  Then, I pick from the note cards and use them to designate what we have on each day of the week.  There are a few cards that I forgot and need to make, including ones for leftovers and sandwiches, but I have tried to include a lot of the things I make on a regular basis.  This week started off with kielbasa and sauerkraut and tonight was homemade sloppy joes.  We also have mushroom and leek soup and beef stroganoff planned for later this week.  It makes it a lot easier for me to grocery shop, too.

2.  The main thing that I have discovered while doing #1 is that I have very few low-carb recipes.  I need to find ones that include a lot more protein and a lot fewer carbs and less sugar.  I feel like I'm eating a lot of eggs as a substitute for high carbohydrate food, but I can only eat so many.  I need some great, family-friendly low-carb recipes!  Anyone willing to help a gal out?

3.  I read an article today about the ref who called a touchdown on the Fail Mary play 2 years ago in the NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.  It's from the short time the league used replacement referees while there was a labor disagreement.  The guy basically has had his life completely turned upside down by all the people who harassed him after that controversial call.  He suffers from PTSD because of the death threats and harassment he received as a result of this call.  The first year after it happened, he really tried to keep it together and even wrote a book about dealing with the results of a decision.  I find it extremely sad that our country is so messed up that people are actually threatening physical violence toward someone because of sports.  Love and respect go a long way to making this world better to live in.  I hope more people start passing those on instead of anger and hatred.  This world is ugly enough as it is.

4.  Anyone else watch the Golden Globes this weekend?  I am kind of an awards show freak.  I think it goes hand and hand with my love of lists.  It just seems orderly and neat and I love the surprised faces when underdogs win.  My favorite speeches of the evening were from Gina Rodriguez, who won Best Actress in a TV show-Comedy or Musical for "Jane the Virgin" and Kevin Spacey, who won Best Actor in a TV show-Drama for "House of Cards".  I flove Kevin Spacey.  He just seems really cool and intelligent and he always picks the most interesting roles.  I also loved Michael Keaton's speech.  He will always be Batman, no matter what.

5.  My husband has discovered "The X-Files" on Hulu Plus.  He is obsessed.  We have also discovered "Brooklyn 9-9" which is hilarious!  Anyone have some recommendations?

FYI:  I have been told by some people that they are unable to comment on my page.  If you are having this problem, please e-mail me at the link under my profile picture to let me know.  I have tried to comment and it allowed me to do so, but I have found that if you don't have a Google, AIM, or other account, you must either post as Anonymous or use the drop down menu to select 'Name/URL'.  You do NOT need to enter a URL.  Just simply put in your name and hit 'continue' and then write your comment and publish.  It does make you checkmark a box to prove you aren't a robot, so please make sure you do that.  If you are still having trouble after that, please let me know.  I can't fix it if I'm unsure of what exactly is occurring.  THANKS and have a GREAT week!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Totally Random Tuesday 5!

1.  Schools around here are getting a day off tomorrow for the cold.  Okay, look, we live in Kansas and yes, it's supposed to be cold tomorrow, but really?  A day off for the cold?  I don't recall ever getting a day off as a kid because it was too cold.  Do I not remember my childhood correctly or what?  This is strange to me, because while I understand there would potentially be children hanging out at bus stops in the cold, I also think that we live in Kansas and we should be better prepared for the cold already.  I mean, I wear long underwear under my work slacks because I have to walk a block and a half into work and yeah, it's cold!  I don't know...I guess I'm getting to be an old fogey.

2.  What has happened to families volunteering with the church?  I know I've said something about this before, but I am literally the only woman under 40 actively involved in my church's Women's Fellowship.  My parents volunteered all the time when I was a kid and we either went along to help out or stayed at home while they did whatever it was.  I feel sad that our society focuses more on overbooking our children with activities or spending every waking moment adoring them than on being a better example for them.  Don't we all want our children to have a giving heart?  How will they learn if we don't lead by example?

3.  I filled out my calendar for 2015 the other day and came across my father-in-law's birthday.  I didn't know whether I should write it down or not, since he's gone.  Same with he and my mother-in-law's anniversary.  It made me sad.  I wrote them down anyhow, because they are important dates, but I wish Ernie was here to celebrate his special day with everyone instead.

4.  My husband is trying to quit smoking.  He's been doing pretty well, but he has to have crutch cigarettes every now and again.  I'm hoping those will stop soon as well.  I can't wait until his smoker's cough is finally gone!  Please pray or send positive vibes his way.  He needs any help he can get.

5.  Our church's Schola Cantorum (children's choir) was invited to sing at the Vatican's Mass for the feast of the Epiphany next year.  They get to perform for the pope!  That is amazing and so very cool!  They performed at our Women's Fellowship meeting tonight and they were beautiful.  I'm so excited for them.

Have a great week everyone!! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Resolutions...they only start on Mondays, right?

Okay, I know it's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote anything on here.  However, I am hoping that changes tonight.

I had a hard time sorting out what my resolutions were going to be for the New Year.  It's always a goal of mine to lose weight, mainly because I stop and start and stop and start with the exercise.  Ugh.  Thank goodness, my trainer has helped with that quite a bit.

I mulled over ideas and choices and had some great ideas in the shower.  Once they were written down, I found myself picking them over and trying to make a bit more sense of my scattered thoughts.

So, due to my perpetual procrastination and inherent squeezing of deadlines, I now present my 8 new and improved New Year's resolutions...that kinda started today, even though I really tried to stick with them beginning on the 1st.  So, my reclaimed resolutions?  My reinstated resolutions?  My repossessed resolutions?


My ridiculously OTT hashtag extravaganza of New Year's Purposeful Declarations!

Purposeful Declaration 1:


My house, oh it is so disorganized.  I have a lot of junk in my draws, y'all.  And in my closets, etc.  Therefore, I have undertaken the task to declutter...something...once a week.



I have to set a goal, I need to get it done.  I am setting this goal, because I know if I work really hard I can achieve it.  It seems like a lot, and it is...but it's something I've set my sights on and I really want it to happen!  I need to do more cardio and this goal will push me to it, whether I like it or not!



I really mean all alcohol in general, less of it.  I have a bad habit of having a few or 6 on the weekends and sometimes a couple during the week.  It has hindered declaration #2, big time.  So, I have taken a stand!  3 or fewer beers (or equivalent drinks) 1 time a week.  I hope you don't think this makes me an alcoholic.  I guess if you do, oh well, I can't change your mind on that.  Frankly, my dears, I don't give a rat's patootie.



I have set myself a decree.  I shall write 3 times a week.  No fewer than 3, but as many as I like.  Not 1, not 2, but 3 is the number upon which I have settled.  I hope you are looking forward to more of my posts, inane as they may be!  Yay readers!



I bought myself a prayer journal for Christmas.  It includes questions for a daily reading, as well as suggested daily reading lists for the Bible.  After I read a passage, then space is given to answer questions about my reaction to the reading, what I may glean from it, as well as how this may guide me in my daily life.  I really like it and I'm hoping to get some good use out of it.  I have pledged to use it 5 times a week.



I always start projects, but never finish them.  I have a sewing machine I purchased (for $20 from a thrift store) that I have never used and I have 3 or 4 half-finished cross stitch projects and currently 2 half-finished crochet projects.  I am determined to prioritize crafts 3 times a week and dedicate 1 hour to them.  It keeps me from slogging around on Facebook and Pinterest more than I ought and it allows me to focus on something that can be very calming to an anxiety-ridden person.



I have a diagram on my little note here that shows the words -sugar, -carbs, and -processed foods inside of a big prohibition sign.  You know, the no symbol with the circle and backslash?  Yeah, my goal is to try to reduce as much of those three things as I can.  My vascular doctor said it's not how many calories you eat, but WHAT you eat and carbs and sugars are the worst.  If anyone has a good resource for low carb, no sugar recipes, I'm open for suggestions!  I may get super grumpy, but I am going to do my body good.

Finally, number eight:


My doggy is an outdoor doggy.  This is because my husband is a mean person who grew up on a farm and thinks all animals should be outdoors.  I convinced him to allow my 2 cats indoors, but he will not cave on the dog.  I have tended to neglect my poor Bear because of this.  He doesn't get enough attention and I feel so badly about it.  Therefore, I have resolved to spend more time with him, as I can.

So, those are my Purposeful Declarations.  What do you think?  Is there something I can improve upon?  Am I nuts?  (My mother never had me tested.)  I know it's an ambitious list, but I want to enjoy my life and not be overwhelmed by the glut of electronics and I don't want to waste any more of my life doing things that aren't worth doing!

Good luck with all of your purposeful declarations and if you join me on Twitter (Bandgeek77 is my handle) and see one of these hashtags, join in with me and we can all suffer together!

(Stolen from IMDB)

[Holding the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch]
King Arthur: How does it... um... how does it work?
Sir Lancelot: I know not, my liege.
King Arthur: Consult the Book of Armaments.
Brother Maynard: Armaments, chapter two, verses nine through twenty-one.
Cleric: [reading] And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and large chu...
Brother Maynard: Skip a bit, Brother...
Cleric: And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.
Brother Maynard: Amen.
All: Amen.
King Arthur: Right. One... two... five!
Galahad: Three, sir.
King Arthur: Three!