Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It's What All the Kids Are Wearing

My brother had one item that he wanted for Christmas that was so easy to buy him. It was Abercrombie and Fitch cologne, and I hadn't been there in years having been trying to get pregnant, getting pregnant, losing weight, trying to get pregnant again, being pregnant again....you get the idea. All I'm gonna say here is this: pushing a double stroller.

I felt about a hundred, course when you're a hundred years old I guess you're probably not pushing a stroller anymore...But anyway, I was approached by the usual 16-year waif-like salesgirl, and this time I decided I was going to tell her what I needed and have her get it, you know having a double stroller to push and all. Well, come to find out that they were sold out of the cologne my brother likes. However, to my good fortune there was another cologne that smelled very much like their original, which I don't remember what that smelled like, but didn't care. AND...you'll all be happy to know this, IT'S WHAT ALL THE KIDS ARE WEARING THIS YEAR. I debated about telling her the cologne was for my 35-year old brother, but decided against it. Was I this fucking annoying when I was a 16-year old saleclerk???

Monday, December 26, 2005

As Marilyn Brooks Would Say, I'm a Bitch

On Friday night, J.'s aunt and uncle came by to give the kids their Christmas gifts; we have never seen them on Christmas, so we always exchange gifts on another day. As they arrived, J.'s uncle said he needed his help to carry the presents in. Now J.'s uncle is a good man, and yes he married into the family too. He is not openly passing judgment either, and still comes by to see the kids. He seems to understand that this 'issue' is between J.'s parents and us, and not them, which is something no one else in his family seems to get. At any rate, he had gifts in the car from J.'s parents for the kids. He told J. that he would bring them back if J. didn't want them to be brought in. Whatever he/we wanted. J. said to take them back. However, his uncle handed J. two envelopes from J.'s parents that he said he had to give him. J. did the right thing and took them. His parents have really put a lot of people in an ackward position; we didn't want to put his uncle in yet another ackward position by not taking the envelopes.

Inside these cards, were two checks. The down payment for R.'s college fund that they were supposed to give us before R.'s christening, but didn't, and their contribution to S.'s college fund. See we sold our souls to the devil when S. was 6 weeks old. J.'s father saw this college plan that looked like a good idea. We would pay a little more than half for it, and between J.'s parents and aunt/uncle they would pay the rest. Now I never felt comfortable with this arrangement, but when it was first brought up I was in the throws of PPD, and then my mom died, therefore I didn't stand my ground because I just didn't care at that time. When R. was born J. asked his parents if the same arrangement would apply for him before we opened his account. They assured us it did, then later told us that they wouldn't be able to put the money in until they sold this property that they were rehabbing. J.'s dad is not the best with money, and he took on this high-risk investment of rehabbing properties in bad neighborhoods with the hope that the neighborhoods would improve and they could sell the properties for a profit. It hasn't been working out that way. And how dangerous are these neighborhoods exactly? Well, J's dad had to hide behind a tree one time due to gunfire. Yah, gunfire. This man has mortaged the house he payed off, the house in FL that they own, and has taken several loans, one of which he did not discuss with his wife. I can't go into any more detail than that, as I believe what he did was illegal. I won't do that to J. So anyway, that's fine if you can't afford it, just tell us. The ironic thing here is that his father was able to write a thousand dollar check to be in a fantasy football league. So, you tell me what is truly important to him? Family, like he always says, or himself, which is really what he cares about. At any rate, they could have afforded to give us the money, and they didn't. Which put us in a tight spot financially as we now had to pay the down payment plus both of the boys' monthly payments on our own. When I asked J. to sit down with me and go over all of our bills, I just about passed out when I saw the monthly payments, plus the down payment. No wonder we were struggling. J. and I cancelled those accounts, and have now invested the money into a much more flexible program for the kids' college. A much better plan, and one that I would have wanted to do had it been presented to me as an option. I'm not blaming J. as he already blames himself, but I will say that I did not have much say in the matter. And that is my fault too. So we breathed a sigh of relief when that was all over with.

So back to the two checks. J. and I have decided to send them back. I do not believe money and family mix, and now he sees that too. If they'd like to set up their own plan for the boys, that is fine, but we are no longer mixing our money together. I do know that I will come off as the bitch once again, and I can honestly say I just don't care any more. After this Christmas whereupon we received two Christmas cards from his extended family, and I sent every one of them a card with the boys' pictures on them, I know where we stand with each and every one of them. We normally receive many cards from them, and hell, even my brother got a card from one of them. Am I surprised? Not at all. As a good friend of mine once said to me, "B., you can tell a lot about how much someone cares for you by whether or not they show up to your wedding or funerals of your loved ones." Oh, how right she is. NO ONE from his mom's side of the family showed up to my mom's wake, let alone her funeral. And most of them only live 30 minutes or less from the funeral home and church. That really hurt me. My MIL told me that people can be too busy to attend, you know. Yah, right. ALL of them. I don't think so. I mean most of them made it to at least J.'s grandmother's wake, and none liked her. They were there to support the family, which was great. Even my parents came to that wake and the funeral. That's what you do. Where were they all when I needed support? They weren't there. They have never been there for J. and I, and they never will be. They believe everything J.'s parents tell them, and don't even call us ever. So we know who really cares about us and who doesn't. And we chose to spend out time with the people who love us/who we love. So that's what we're doing. Case closed. Excuse me as I make my trip to the post office. Money won't fix this problem. At this point, I don't know if anything ever will.

So Long Marshall Fields; Thanks For the Memories!

On Friday, yes the day before Christmas Eve, we trekked downtown to the famed Walnut Room at the original Marshall Fields store. We had to be up by 5:30, so we could get ourselves and the kiddos in the car, parked and in a long line at 8:00 AM, so that we could have breakfast underneath the large, beautiful tree they have. This particular store has 13 floors, and has been a tradition for those here in frozen Chicago. Every year as a child we would head down to State Street, and go to Marshall Fields. It was always so much fun. My mom worked for the store for several years while we were young, so Marshall Fields has always held a special place in my heart. It makes me remember my mom and all the fun we had together, whether it was at the Marshall Fields by our house, or the famous one downtown.

My father was the one who asked everyone to go, and J. and I had low expectations that all would go well. The only time I had gone to the Walnut Room previously was when I was in the fifth grade, and we had to wait over two hours for the pleasure of eating food that was second rate. But it was the experience, the tradition we were after, not good food. So with that memory in my mind, I was afraid of how the kids might do with a long wait. Because you see, there is a long line to just get a pager, and then another line to get seated. My brother's family all came, along with my dad's 'companion'. So there were five kids ages 9 to 7 months, plus six adults. Being a large group also does not make it easy to get a table. Well, we only waited for one hour, and the kids were great! We ended up getting a table right underneath the tree. The breakfast was divine, and the conversation even better. The warm feeling that I had was indescribable. Yes, I did bring my camera. You see this is the last Christmas that the store will be called Marshall Fields. Macy's has bought the store, and will officially be changing the name on the first of the year. Now, yes, I have read Richard Roper's column in the Chicago Sun-Times, so yes I do understand that the Fields family sold the store back in 1983. Therefore, it hasn't really been Marshall Fields for a long time. And really, it's just a name, right? Wrong. To many of us, we have fond memories of this store that has been a fixture in Chicago since the late 1800's. The history, the visits, the traditions. To be honest with you, if my mom were still alive, this probably would not bother me much. It just feels as though another piece of her, and our connection, is being taken away, by a New York company. Now my mother visited the Macy's in New York, but Marshall Fields was home, was Chicago, was on State Street, that great street, was a part of our traditions.

So so long, Marshall Fields, and as Bob Hope used to say, thanks for the memories!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

An Early Christmas Gift For Me!

No, not anything fun, so to speak, but I'll take it over any material good out there! What is it you ask? A fun day with the family where no one cries and everyone takes naps? Nope. A day to myself whereupon I spend the day being massaged, exfoliated and just plain pampered? Nope. How about someone taking my little kidlets for the day, so I could get something done during the day that needs to be done in my own house? Wrong again. So what is it, you ask???? I got my period. No, silly, that's not the good part. The good part is I was in very little pain this month. Yah, I had pain, and the lovely nausea that always seems to start a few days before the lady makes her appearance, but pain that was easily controlled by only taking two pills of Ibruprofen! I was able to take the kids to the doctor for shots, among all the snotty-nosed kids-YUK! I was able to get down on the floor and play with my kids. I was able to make dinner. I was simply able to be myself and not some woman on the floor wincing in pain, telling herself 'Only 4 more days of this. I can make it!' Oh, and we were even able to go to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the 'Christmas Around the World' display, which J. and I have been doing since before we were even engaged. It's our tradition, neither family did it when we were growing up. I was afraid it wouldn't happen this year, but it did! I have never heard of endometriosis pain being horridly painful for months, and then not being too painful the next. I am not asking for an explanation. I am counting it as my Christmas miracle. This was the best gift I could have ever received. Hopefully, I'll get more of this wonderful gift in the months to come.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

First There Were Five, Now There Are Two

"I've become so numb, I can't feel you there. I've become so tired, so much more aware."LP 2001

"One thing, I don't know why, it doesn't even matter how hard you try....I kept everything inside, and even though I tried, it all fell apart, what it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time I tried so hard, and got so far, but it in the end it doesn't even matter. I had to fall and lose it all, and in the end it doesn't really matter.... 'In the End' LP 2001

Four years ago today, I miscarriaged. After infertility, tests and more tests that revealed nothing is wrong, a surgery and then a beautifully unexpected positive pregnancy test. My RE, not the one who helped to bring me my two boys, felt I had not responded well to the Clomid, and actually did the math wrong when calculating the amount of sperm; they said J. only had 8 million sperm instead of 64 million, big difference I know! And I am not a whiz at math, so the fact that I caught it and no one else at that clinic from hell did, well that simply tells you exactly how that clinic was---shoddy at best, criminally negligent at worst. Anyway, I never in a million years thought that clomid/iui cycle worked, so I went about my business and felt sorry for myself.
My husband was the one who suspected I was pregnant; I actually took the hpt to prove him wrong! When I had my blood drawn, and the clinic called to confirm the pregnancy, I can best describe my response as excited as well as numb. Happily, surprised out of my mind, numb. It was great, while it lasted.

I can only say this, I never felt quite right about that pregnancy. I can't tell you why, but I didn't. Not the typical 'I have tried for so long to get pregnant that I can't believe that this is actually going to end in a baby' feeling, but that something was very fragile and I couldn't shake this feeling that said don't get attached.

I went along with the clinic and my blood drawn every other day. For the first week and a half, everything went well. Then ,when they had anticipated my HCG levels at over 1500, we had an ultrasound, and didn't see a thing. The ultrasound tech. said not to worry, the clinic's machines were over 10 years old, so not very precise. They would call this afternoon with the levels.
At 3:00, the nurse called; she said I had to come in again on Monday because the levels had not exactly doubled. They were not far off, but they needed to do another ultrasound to make sure I didn't have an ectopic pregnancy. Yah, THAT was a lovely weekend.

J. went with me on Monday, and we could barely see a thing. Luckily, I went home only a half hour after the students went home, something I rarely did, because that is where I got what still rates as one of the worst phone calls I have ever gotten. The nurse was all matter-of-fact-like; like someone who has never gone through anything remotely like infertility and miscarriage. Let's just say that by the time I called my husband I couldn't breathe. He was 45 minutes away, and was going to leave right away, but suggested I had my mom come over pronto so I wasn't alone. As fate would have it, I caught her right as she left for her dentist appt. Of course, she came right over. This all happened the Monday before Thanksgiving. What a lovely start to the holidays! Just a month prior, we also learned that my mom's cancer was back for the third time. Maybe this all is the reason why I hate this time of the year. I don't know.

The RE's office wanted me to come back that Wednesday for more bloodwork and another ultrasound. Since we knew for certain that I didn't have an ectopic pregnancy, the RE confirmed seeing an intrauterine pregnancy, J. and I felt there was no reason to put me through any more tests. Tests wouldn't change anything. At that point I called my OB/GYN's office and filled out the forms in order for my file to be sent there. I had been with my OB/GYN for many years, and trusted him a lot more than I did the clinic, which was zilch at this point. That clinic was all about money, and even was listed by the ASRM, I think that's right, this year as being one of the few infertility clinics in the country to not report their success rates and other statistics. I'm sorry but when an ultrasound tech. is doing IUIs, that is just wrong, wrong, wrong! BTW, this did not happen to me, it happened to a friend of mine I met months after S. was born. She didn't know this woman did not have the qualifications needed to do this procedure.

The worst part about all of this was that I was in limbo for three weeks. No one could tell me I definitely would m/c, but no one could tell me I wouldn't. Three weeks to the day from hearing that awful information, I miscarriaged at home, on my own. I had spent the day at the hospital waiting for an emergency ultrasound due to brown bleeding. The hospital has a policy that does not allow the woman to see the ultrasound screen. And this hospital is Catholic, therefore since there was a heartbeat, albeit a very slow heartbeat, there was nothing they could or would do. Not that I would have allowed them to; I still had not given up hope. I was told by my doctor to continue taking it easy and to remain on restricted pelvic rest. AKA, no sex, like that was going to happen anyway!

At 9:30 that night I started having the worst back cramps. I knew what was happening. I took two Tylenol and sat back in bed with J. Now I had Vicodin in my medicine cabinet guys, and I still don't know why I didn't take it. I really don't, because the m/c was painful. I just had J. rub my back. I remember I was watching TLC's 'Dream House' with the Cefae's, don't know if I'm spelling that right. The pain didn't last all that long, and soon I went to sleep with the help of a Valium or two to calm my nerves. I could take that now since I knew for sure I had lost the baby. I woke up in a puddle of blood. My wonderful husband changed the sheets and washed them, telling me it was not a problem. Telling me he'd take care of me. He called his boss and went in to pick up some work to do at home. I called my work and had to lie to one of the teachers about why I wasn't coming in. I had to leave lesson plans for the sub. AGAIN. The ironic thing is I just saw this teacher on Friday, and we always hug when we see each other; I eventually had told her what happened that day.

That day I felt relieved that I finally knew what was happening, which direction my life was going. Those three weeks took their emotional toll on me, and I can tell you I have never been the same since. I can also tell you that I have never felt as alone as I felt in those weeks that followed. And being a teacher, I soon had two weeks off for winter break which I was looking forward to. It was very hard functioning and trying to focus and be happy in front of children eagerly anticipating the most wonderful time of the year. Also, having a pregnant teacher in the building wasn't helping matters much. I tried to make the most of those two weeks. I tried to let myself grieve, but it was hard. Did I mention my SIL, brother's wife, was nine months pregnant with their third child? They were very good about everything, but there was really not a whole lot they could do to make me feel better. That was the year my ILs had me in tears because we didn't see them on Christmas Eve, just Christmas Day. Great timing, eh? Real supportive, eh? That was the year that my SIL asked us for three-thousand dollars so she could buy a new car. Yes, as we were trying to pay for infertility costs, no less. Our relationship is much better now, but that day it was not good. As they all continued to fight, and my SIL repeatedly said Merry Fucking Christmas, which was what I myself was thinking, I walked out. Jeff and I went home, and I saw my husband cry for the first time. Sobbing cry; I did the same.

To make a long story short, I found a wonderful, caring RE who helped to give me my two boys upstairs. Unfortunately, I lost R.'s twin, which has been making me feel sad lately. I know there should be S. and two little babies at the tree this Christmas morning and there will be only one baby alongside S. I never let myself grieve that loss because I felt I should be grateful that one of the babies survived, and I am, I am. I just am feeling it lately. I also lost an earlier baby, too. So many dates on the calendar; conception dates, and miscarriage dates, and due dates, and luckily two healthy childrens' birthdays. I just can't forget, though, that I had five babies, and only took home two. I know how lucky I am, believe me I do, but I can't help but feel the loss of those little souls and what their lives might have been like. We never even got to meet each other, but maybe it's better that way. I don't know. I just miss them, you know?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Somehow, I Survived!

Not only did we have a snowstorm on Thursday, but we had a really big snowstorm. The kind whereupon your husband takes you seriously that he better be home for dinner tonight, or at least by the time I have my therapy appointment, damn-it! So he left very early. Because in the course of 4 days, my hubby didn't make it home to kiss his kids, or at least one of them, goodnight. Which makes for a long damned day for mommy, especially since we stayed indoors for the majority of it. S. was impressed by the snow. I however, was not. And I am pretty sure I can speak for my husband here when I say he wasn't either. Why? It took him 5 hours to get home. Yes, FIVE freakin' hours!!! He left work at 3:30 in order to be home by 5:30 so he could take a conference call at home while insuring that he would be home in time for not only dinner, but for his wife's therapy appointment. Guess what? He took that call in the car, and his co-workers in Singapore, which by the way was very warm at 91 degrees, were laughing at him. Nice. I was not laughing. I was frustrated as was my hubby. So I did not make it to therapy, and by the end of the night, I needed therapy big-time. Remember my 3-year old now has the mouth of a 13 year-old, and has taken to sneaking things while I am taking care of his brother. At least I could laugh on Thursday when I 'caught' him sneaking his father's Total cereal and Cheerios. He didn't see me laugh, but come on, what kid sneaks healthy food? At least I understood sneaking chocolate Christmas cookies, but health food? Whatever floats his boat, I guess.

After hubby got home, we watched the news, and saw the accident at Midway Airport. The cars that were hit on 55th and Central Avenue. The little boy who died. I can't even think about it. Now, of course, they are trying to blame the airline. Guys, it snowed 11 inches here. Only one runway was open since it was so bad. Spokepeople at Midway Airport said that runway was open because it was clear. It was SNOWING HEAVILY. I personally do not know why the plane was allowed to land at all. Now I have my own personal grudges against the flight industry. I mean it was them who, 13 years before 9-11, searched my carry-on luggage, and took out my tampons and other 'personal' items in front of people which embarressed the hell out of me since I was a teenager. It was them that delayed a flight of mine at the Atlanta airport, never want to go back there again!, for 2 hours because WE WERE WAITING FOR A FLIGHT ATTENDANT TO LAND from her flight FROM CHICAGO! I mean, don't you plan beforehand how many flight attendants you will need? It was them who on a flight from LAX to O'Hare, made us wait an hour in the airport and three hours on the runway. The best part? We couldn't get up, meaning we couldn't even go to the bathroom! Why put us on the airplane in the first place? Oh, I could go on and on, as I am sure most of you could too. I have flown since I was very young, and really enjoyed it. However, I do remember when you had room to breath while you sat in your seat, and I also remembered when we were on planes that had game rooms. Yes, people, game rooms. That's how old I am. So I'm a little bitter. Especially when I hear the treatment my husband receives when he flies business class. FILET MIGNON???? SLIPPERS??? ROOM TO MOVE??? MINTS???
So basically what I am trying to say here is that even though I acknowledge that the flight industry is flawed, I still cannot blame them for this tragedy. Our mayor appears to want to do that. But you know why. It's all about money. We don't want to blame people working for the airport because then potential customers might view it as unsafe and not fly in to it. Then the city would lose money. Yep, money is always the reason. We don't want to lose money. Trust me when I say this, in my opinion---don't sue me Mr. Mayor, SNOW, not Southwest Airlines' negligence caused this crash, which then caused that poor boy to die. Make no mistake of that.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Terrible THREES?

I have obviously been disillusioned by the mainstream media touting, 'the terrible twos, the TERRIFIC threes'. What, come again?! After what really seemed to be a year of the terrible twos, I realized that they weren't so terrible once S. turned three years, one month and two weeks, or something like that. Now that S. can talk so clearly that everyone can understand what he's saying, I wish he couldn't talk at all. After a year of, "What did you say honey? Mommy can't understand you.", we have now entered the phase of 'I wish I didn't understand him because I can't believe he just said that!' It is like having a 13 year-old in the house. S. loves to say the opposite of everything I say, which was funny when I did it as a child, I'm sure, but not so funny now that I'm the parent! If I ask him to sit in his chair so we can eat breakfast, lunch or dinner he says," NO! I am NOT going to sit in my chair!!!" That child has seriously made an indentation on the bottom step because he's been there so many times. I don't know what else to do. It isn't helping much that it's been in the single-digits around here, so if there is no reason to go out, I'd rather keep the boys warm and toasty at home.

S. can also get into trouble in a matter of minutes. This kid is crafty, sly...you get the point. Yesterday, I put him in his room so I could put R. down for his nap. I won't bore you with exactly what he did to warrant putting him in his room when I can't devote full attention to him, but let me say the kid just can't be left alone in the house, even when I'm simply upstairs and he's downstairs. So I hear a loud noise as I'm changing R. I go into S.'s room, and that's when I see it. He pushed his nightstand table across the room so he could step on it to turn the main light on. My son is obsessed with lights. Now I did not leave my son in the dark, I assure you. However, I only turned his lamp on, and according to S., that is just not good enough. I disciplined S. immediately. I put him back into his room. No more than two minutes later, he is doing it AGAIN! So now his nightstand is LOCKED in his closet. Along with the cute baseball garbage can he used earlier in the week to stand on. At the rate we're going S. will soon be sleeping on the floor. Which begs me to ponder this question, 'Why in the hell did I spend my husband's bonus on a child's furniture???? Yah, he was my first, maybe my last, my everything. But come on! Make no mistake, his brother will be getting furniture from Target if he's lucky. Or maybe R. will get S.'s furniture. Soon! I was the baby of the family, and just hated when I had to pay for my brother's prior mistakes, but what can you do? I have posted a picture of S.'s room prior to him taking the chair rail down, it's now glued to the wall, as well as when he still had all the furniture in his room. What can I do, guys? Is this normal? I'll let you know if I make it through tomorrow's snow storm with my sanity intact. Yep, snowstorm, which means we will be in the house all day and night. Let the fun begin!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Just an Observation and R.'s 6-month Appointment

I have big boys. Actually, I should say I have big babies. The other day I took the boys to the pediatrician. S. was going to get a well-child visit and then the flu shot, R. was going to have his 6-month visit and shots. Well, they weighed and checked out S. first. Now I knew my son was a string bean and all, and that he could fit into his brother's diapers, but I didn't know just how skinny he was. He is only a bit over 28 pounds; R, is 18 pounds, 3 ounces. S. was still a bigger baby. S. was enormous! Tall and chunky. R. is shorter, more compact, which is cool since he fits into S.'s old clothes longer. The thing is S. has gained only 10 pounds since he was 6 months old. My boy is definitely a mover! He eats, and eats, and eats, and nothing sticks to him! He will like this when he gets older. He definitely takes after my brother, and me as a child. My brother still has a 29 inch waist, and has to work out to put on weight! R. seems to be taking after J.'s family, who struggle with their weight. I do not want that for him; it has been so hard on J. It's just weird how two boys can come from the same parents, and yet be completely different.

As we were driving home from the appointment, I saw yet another Pet Sitter truck. As I've mentioned before, our area is becoming increasingly affluent. But it just made me laugh, and then ponder the issue. Would I have a pet sitter come to my house if I worked and had disposable income? I am nuts about my dog too, just so you know. I decided I might if I was a doctor or someone with a schedule that required me to work long and goofy hours. The newest addition to our neighborhood includes a couple that are DINKs, double income, no kids. I remember being that neighbor once! Anyway, since I am a SAHM I am privy to most goings-on that I wouldn't be had I worked. Well, these two have a pet-sitter come everyday. I wouldn't even know where to find a pet-sitter. However, I DO know where to find a mobile pet groomer, and I will be using them just as soon as said dog needs another haircut. It is so hard to take two boys and a scrappy Shih-Tzu in to PetsM*rt, and I do not like taking her on the weekend. So this mobile pet groomer is answer to my prayers! Suddenly, as a parent of two, I understand just so much more.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Did It!

No, not that. Our power went out yesterday for a few hours, in the middle of the day when the SUN was shining. Lovely Commonwealth Edison could not tell me the problem. I HATE ComED! So the boys woke up very early from their naps, due to their fans and humidifiers going out, so it was a LONG and COLD afternoon/evening! Feeding R. by candlelight is not something that I ever feel like doing again. Remember when the power goes out, you can't even use the gas stove let alone the microwave. Yah, it was good times around our house. Thus, when we got home from church last night I was just exhausted. I told J. there were things I wanted to do to him, but I was too damn tired. It's weird when the body wants to do something badly and just can't. I told J. that was the difference between being 22 and 32. J. said we'd try tonight. Let's just hope for power all day. No heat just stunk! It was barely 30 degrees out!

What I did do however, was to hire a babysitter. She is actually the person who has been watching R. and S. in the nursery. I asked her about a month ago if she knew anyone who would be interested, and she said she would be. I was thrilled! Not only did I find a sitter, but one who has already been with my kids for months and knew all about them. And she is 21, and drives herself over. I love her! She comes a few hours one day a week, and then at least once a month J. and I are having a 'date' night. It has already really helped! The first Saturday night we had her, J. asked we what we were going to do? He felt we could do anything with the kids that we were going to do that night. Well, at the end of the evening he thanked me. He said it was just what he needed. My therapist has been telling me I needed to do this since she began seeing me almost 6 months ago. It has also been good for the kids. I take S. to tumbling class without R., so we now get mommy-S. time, which is important. Oh, my goodness, have I found out how good I had it with one child! When I have to take R. and S. out together, it takes such a long time. With just S., we are in and out. Now S. can get in and out of the car himself, and many other things, so that is another reason why having just him is easier. I am not trying to say that raising only one child is easy, because it surely is not, but having only one child to take care of at a time does have its advantages. Now I want to figure out how to have some R. and mommy time.

Anyway, so now I have to find another way to trim some fat off the budget. The only downside of this is that my sitter starts student-teaching in January, and will then only be available at night a few days, just when I could have used her the most! Starting in January, J.'s busy season starts. It sucks! So basically Monday through Friday the kids will be all mine to care for, and my hubby will be super stressed which is a bummer around here. You know, makes for some lovely weekends. Being sarcastic here. So for now, I am in heaven.

Oh, and a BIG congrats. goes out to my friend P. She was my fellow partner doing IVF. Her two did not work, and she and her husband sadly had to accept having only one child. She is also 40 years old, so you know how low her odds were in the first place. She just told me, like 30 minutes ago that she is 20 weeks pregnant! She m/c a past pregnancy so was very guarded in telling anyone until the big u/s. She got pregnant on her own, no drugs, how cool is that! So there is always hope, and miracles do happen. Now it kind-of makes me worry about not using birth control the other night. Well, I'm going to choose to think about her good news instead. I can't believe just how excited I am for her!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Not So Much

I am not in the doghouse much anymore. We talked, and realized that most of the purchases made last month were things we don't need to buy on a monthly basis. Such as tires for J.'s car, oil changes, birthday gifts, and the like. Oh, and J. is taking a week off around Christmas, after the hubbub, so S. will be potty-trained which will cut the amount we spend on diapers in half! Man, are diapers expensive! He is over 3 years old, and frankly, we need the money, we WANT that money that is so unnecessarily spent on diapers. S. 'understands' going on the potty and has done it. Now we are just not going to allow him the option to wear diapers anymore. When I purchased another box of diapers for R., S. said,"S.'s diapers?" I said, "No, when yours run out, you are done with diapers. Mommy and Daddy are not buying you anymore. You are going to use the big boy potty like Daddy." We are going to 'double-team' him. With mommy and daddy both on it, hopefully it will be done! So that will give us another $70/month or so, which will be helpful.

It's just we are paying into 2 college accounts for the boys, which was J.'s parents' idea. They along with J.'s aunt and uncle and us, would be paying into those accounts. Monthly, people, like a freakin' car payment X 2. And we already have one car payment! Plus, his parents were going to pay the couple grand down payment for R/'s account like they did S.'s. Now when this all came up when S. was 6 WEEKS old, I kid you not, I told J. to be sure that we could pay this even if they backed out. I didn't want to be dependent on them for money. I believe money and family usually don't mix. He assured me we could, and upon looking at our finances, I realized indeed we could. Well, now add in R. and that expensive down payment, which was due before we even had an argument. Let's just say J.'s dad is not the best when it comes to finances, so they told us back then that they 'owed' it to us; I didn't hold my breath. We CAN do it, it's just cutting more into our finances than we'd like. I really cannot believe that I am having to worry about college expenses for my 6 month and 3 year old right now! J. said we will be happy when they are 18 that we did this, and I am sure we will be, but right now it kind-of sucks. Three car payments; luckily we paid off one car before we bought the van, and not much to show for it. Damn, for the money we are paying out, we could have bought J. the Volvo he wanted. Of course, we could also put that money in our SAVINGS account. Damn ILs. BUT, and I will continue to say this, I would rather have less money and no stress from them, than to have that damn Volvo in my garage or more money in the bank. So I will continue to try to find ways to trim the fat, so to speak.

And on a much better note, not only am I no longer in the doghouse, but I am high on J.'s good list, I'm sure. We had a fabulous evening last night. The best we've had in a longggggg time! Yummy is what comes to mind. I love my husband. I hope to entice him tonight as well. Can you tell I'm ovulating? I said to J. afterwards that maybe we should have used a condom, and he gave me this look. Not much we can do now, and being infertile and all, I don't think it'll be a problem. It better not be. I can't have another baby. It would not be a good thing. Now I'm off to daydream about my hubby. Love a man in suit and tie; LOVE IT!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

In the Doghouse

I bought clothes, church clothes mainly, yesterday at my favorite store that is going out of business. I got 40% off of everything, and since everything I bought is classic, not trendy in the least, I am sure that I will be wearing these clothes for years; I kid you not. Unfortunately, Jeff told me that our credit card bill was a ridiculous amount yesterday evening, so I have had a knot in my stomach knowing that these clothes are not returnable. I know I will wear them all, and that I will not be able to buy four pairs of pants that do not need to be shortened for $20-$25.00. So I still feel it was the right thing to do, and that we will save money in the end. However, my husband did not know about these purchases. He didn't come home last night until 10PM; church basketball league. After discussing his concerns in bed, I wanted to look at that damn bill and see where things could be cut. Yesterday I said we will be having Friday's dinner at home now; we used to go out to eat every Friday and Saturday, so this will help.

Fast forward to 10 minutes ago. I was looking in our filing cabinet for the bill. Turns out J. had only checked yesterday what our balance was on the internet. Thus, no paper bill to be seen. I ask him where the bill was, he tells me on the computer. I never check my bills online, will be now!, so he came over to pull up the info. He saw my charges and freaked out.

Lesson learned: if you are in the mood to have sex, do not bring up the topic of money. Or at least have sex beforehand. I have a feeling it's going to be a long night!

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Happy, Yet Dysfunctional, Holiday Was Had By All

I really had high hopes for this holiday. First, no in-laws to visit, enough said there, this was the third Thanksgiving since my mom passed away and it is getting easier, and we were eating Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's which is always delicious. Well, J.'s sister and her husband were set to come by in the morning to visit with us and the boys. It had been since the infamous christening that we had seen them. Now we knew that J.'s poor sister has been really stressed out as my ILs have been putting her in the middle of our situation; we still refuse to say anything about it to her. We believe it is between J.'s parents and us, so why say anything to anyone else? Besides, they are her parents, and who really wants to hear bad things about their parents?! Basically, the ILs have spoken quite badly about us to nearly everyone, as far as we can tell. J. told me they believe that I had this all planned out since we got married. That I have been trying to get rid of them. As I told J., if that was true, then I haven't been very efficient, have I? I mean we've been married over 7 years! At any rate, J.'s sister did come Thursday morning, but her husband refused to. He went to work-out while she was at our house. We don't really know her husband well; they've only been married a little over a year and live in another state. However, he is R.'s God-father. He is angry at us, apparently, but he has only heard one side. Again, we refuse to share why it is that we are not speaking ot J.'s parents. I do think it is pretty self-righteous to deny seeing your nephews when you don't even know the situation, and when it is obvious that seeing our children is important to his wife. I mentioned to J. that we could have refused to see him when he and J.'s sister started dating because he was married. He said he had been trying to find his wife who left, and when he did the divorce would be final. It sounded pretty shady to J. and I, but we decided to meet him first, and support J.'s sister whatever her decision was. It was between her and this man, not us. And after we got to know him, we liked him. He did get a divorce, and I think they are happily married. Anyway, the old saying, Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, comes to mind. The problem is that J.'s sister says this is all negatively affecting her marriage. J.'s mom talks to her nearly every day. J.'s sister knows that my MIL is depressed, and is trying to get her to get some help, so hopefully she will and maybe this situation will get better. On Thursday, J.'s sister said she is 'in the middle of all this', and J. said that we didn't put her there, his parents did. If they wouldn't talk to her about the situation then she wouldn't be in the middle. I just feel so bad for her because of her husband, and of course what her parents are doing to her. I'm sure she is relieved to be back at home now.

Yesterday, she stopped by after church and gave us all our Christmas gifts since she will not be coming home for Christmas. She didn't last year either, and I have no problem with that. However, my FIL if you remember, did not come to Christmas dinner last year because we did not see them on Christmas Eve. Very hypocritical. Oh, and J.'s poor sister was told to give us a letter written to us by his parents. Now they are using God and Jesus in their letters, and Christian forgiveness, which I am sorry but if they had lived their life according to Christ's word then this never would have happened in the first place. Remember it was them who made a scene in God's house on our son's Christening Day, so don't pull that shit on us. That letter just made things worse. They are trying to manipulate us so they can see their grandchildren. They will say whatever they think we want to hear, so that can happen. The letters started in October with name-calling, "How can you be so cruel?' to now using God. They are very transparent. J.'s father is used to getting what he wants; used to being able to talk people into things; he's an excellent salesman, but we are not buying it. And until J.'s mother gets help, there is no point in doing the mediation. I needed help, and I got it which has greatly benefitted my children, my husband as well as myself. Why can't she do the same? There is no shame in being depressed. Get the help you need. Well, she goes to Florida next month after the holiday so we won't be able to do the mediation until at least April.

On Saturday I had my mom's side of the family over, and we had such a good time. I love them! J. does too. My one cousn has two boys as well. S. and J. are only 2 weeks apart. R. and baby J. are only 4 DAYS apart. S. and J. played together and had fun, well, when they weren't beating on each other. Both kids are not aggressive, but Saturday, wow, what a difference! We're going to get together more, so that should be fun.

We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent yesterday, and S. seemed to really enjoy watching us light the candle. We tried to teach him that the world used to be dark, turned the ligths off, and when Jesus came there was light again, turn the lights on. We talked a bit more, but being only three that was enough.

Now my favorite parts/ pictures of the holiday weekend. Oh, and in case you're wondering what I am holding up in that picture, it is a Pottery Barn gift certificate. I have had my eye on a lamp there which I want to put next to my comfy chair in the living room so, should I ever have the time, I can read. Peace out.
My three boys; the love of my lives!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It Costs A Lot to Be Crazy!

After being given precious samples of my anti-depressants, mainly due to dosage changes and a very nice nurse, I had to have my prescription filled for my current dose of meds. The dose that is working so well for me, knock on wood! Well, the maker of this drug does not make my level of dose in one pill, even though my dose is a very common one. So it entails my psychiatrist having to prescribe that I take the one of the highest dose pills twice a day. Then I have to take one pill of the lesser dose at the same time. While this is very annoying, it is even more expensive. With insurance, guys, I just spent $90.00. One bottle contains 60 pills, and the other 30 pills. Only one month's supply of this miracle medication. Did I also mention I have allergies, hypothyroidism and interstitial cystitis, the latter of which was brought on by my first surgery for my endo. Nice present, eh? Like, oh by the way, we lasered off the endo. and left a nice burn of sorts on your bladder. We think. However, we will never admit to any wrongdoing. Let's just call it a coincidence. My urologist does not agree with that. Nevertheless, that was an expensive trip to the emergency room! So adding up my monthly supply of meds, that are by the grace of God covered 80% by insurance, and we pay about $135.00/month. I ask you, how does one who does not have insurance pay that amount. Because my anti-depressants alone would run us $300.00 without coverage! Now you know why there are so many mentally disturbed people on the street getting no treatment. It's too expensive!

It's a love-hate relationship between me and the drug companies. I hate that they charge such outrageous prices for medications they know people can't do without, however if it wasn't for my current anti-depressant I wouldn't be doing as well as I am presently. So I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't. Luckily, I can afford to be crazy!!! I am only joking about mental illness as I do know it's not funny. I am my mother's child, though, and agree that for some particularly horrible diseases you have to laugh. It's the only thing that will get you through. Like my mom once had a very interesting question about her chemotherapy treatments side-effects. Her question? Why does chemo. make your hair fall out everywhere except for your legs and armpits, which is really where you don't want any hair to be? Indeed! Does anyone have an answer to that one? I still haven't been able to figure it out.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Past and Present Endometriosis Sufferers, I Need You!

I know the Lord only gives us what we can handle; I just wish he didn't trust me so much.
Mother Teresa

Oh, isn't that the truth! I have suffered from endometriosis, from here on known as endo., for about 6 years now. I didn't realize that it was the cause of all of my backaches, in the beginning, so it's just an estimate. I truly noticed something was not quite right about 4 months after going off the pill back in 2000. I kept feeling this throbbing, and it continued to get more painful each month. We were trying to have a baby, and as the months went by with no pregnancy, I started to worry that there was something wrong. That this pain was not normal. J. wanted me to call the doctor, but at that time, I just didn't like involving doctors and such. Well, J. left on a business trip to London, and I took a personal day off from work to go Christmas shopping with my mom.

As we were walking the mall, I cringed in pain. My pain at that time would just come out of no where and surprise the hell out of me. Being my mom and all, she noticed. Don't moms always notice what you don't want them to see? She asked questions, being a nurse and former endo. sufferer herself, she knew what to ask. When we got back to my house, she handed the phone to me, and told me to call the doctor or she would. Yah, I called the doctor. Who wants their mommy calling the doctor for them when they're 27 years old? Oh, yah, MEN! Cheap shot, I know.

My doctor, gyno., called back a few hours later. We discussed my pain, and he felt it was not endo., even though I gave him my family history, and did not feel there were any problems with us getting pregnant since it had 'only' been six months and I had regular periods. He said if Ibruprofen did not control my pain, then I could call him for something stronger. Let's 'wait and see', he said. That's what he always said. So I continued to deal with the pelvic pain, and the increasing back pain.

Two months later, I couldn't stand it. I called and did not get a return call until two days later, when I called after hours, and told the answering service I needed one of the doctors to call me back NOW! And no I'm not in labor damn it! The head doctor called me back, the one who delivered R. He told me I needed to call during business hours. I said I DID for TWO days and NO ONE called me back. I was pissed! He apologized and called in a prescription for Vicodin promptly. Love Dr. B! Two days later, J. and I purchased a new bedroom set, a Thomasville one I had been coveting but thought I should hold off on 'because I could be pregnant.' After 9 months, I just knew in my bones something was wrong. Well, the original doctor, the let's wait and see one, called back and apologized for not calling me back sooner. Oh, and all the the sudden he decided we needed to take action. Something could be wrong; I actually could have endo. Ya' think?! He wanted to do a lap. to make sure I had endo., sew me back up without removing the endo. and put me on Lupron. Uh, no.... Lupron was originally developed to treat prostrate cancer in men; it's a form of chemotherapy. In women, it's purpose is to put you in a chemical menopause. There are lots of not-so-pleasant- side-effects that actually sounded worse than the pain I was in. Plus, he wanted me to have the injection every month for six months, thus wasting valuable time, in my opinion. I did not see the benefit of being in menopause at the age of 28! Plus, I wanted a baby! So screw Lupron; it was time for a second opinion.

We got a referral to Northwestern Medical Center which has an acclaimed women's center. The doctor right away agreed with me. Lupron was not the best option for a woman trying to have a baby. I wanted to have a lap., and if the endo. was found, I wanted it removed. He said no. You only have surgery if the endo. is causing you unbearable pain to which you cannot function. He said let's do an HSG, dye put through tubes, to see if your tubes are open and if your uterus is of normal shape, etc. Had that test, and everything looked great. What to do next? My all time favorite drug, insert sarcasm here, Clomid with an HCG injection of Ovidrel! He wanted to do and IUI too, but I just wasn't ready. I thought it was all my fault anyway, so what difference would putting the sperm closer to the eggs do? (J.'s first semen analysis came back great). We did two Clomid cycles, and let's just say they didn't work, and they made me an emotional mess. Plus, Northwestern, although a very good hospital, just was too sterile, and driving in rush hour traffic just to have an ultrasound was wearing us down.

We ended up having a full work-up at our next clinic which was literally down the street from my work! Wouldn't that be convenient? Everything came back fine, although the pain was still there. They wanted to try another Clomid cycle. I said no. I said no to everything they suggested. I said I wanted a lap. to check for the endo. and to remove it. I was not doing any further fertility treatments until that was done. The doctor agreed. So the week of September 11th, 2001, I got to have my lap. And guess what? I had endometriosis. It took me a year and three doctors to finally get a lap.! They removed the endo., too. Then we did a Clomid IUI cycle in which I did get pregnant. I m/c at nine weeks, but after the m/c itself I felt no pain. I then went to Dr.S, my FAVORITE RE, as the previous clinic and I, well it's a long story. Let's just say it was best to leave. Dr. S did the same treatment and I got pregnant again on the first try, although we found out something special about hubby's sperm. Sometimes they stick together, and when they do, the RE can do a special wash to get them moving again. Nine months later S. was born at a whopping 8 pounds, 10 ounces, 22 inches long!

I was lucky in that I really didn't have any bad pain until 13 months after S. was born and after two Clomid cycles. This time the pain was more intense than ever! My RE told me the fertility drugs exacerbate endo. Lovely! I layed on the floor pretty much the whole day it came back. The next day was Thanksgiving. Just great! First holiday without my mom, too. When it rains, it pours.

The next two periods were unbearable. I would just cry from the pain. I took my Vicodin, but that just caused more pain. I had endo. that affected my bowels as well as my back and pelvic area. Fun, huh? So having a BM hurt, and taking a narcotic that constipates me just made it worse. It was a catch-22. We made an appt. with Dr.S.

Being a doctor who actually cares, he promised to get me into surgery to relieve the pain, BEFORE my next period. And he did. And he found more endo.; just stage two though. It was not affecting my ability to get pregnant he believed; all of the other doctors had said the same thing. He did hope that it would relieve my pain. Nope. Nada. Not happening. Just freakin' great.

We did two more cycles of injectables; we had done one before the surgery, and no pregnancies. My endo. just got so unbearable. I told Dr. S. we needed to take a break, and could he please prescribe some birth control pills for me so I could take them continuously so I would not get a period. He agreed. This was May, the Friday before Mother's Day. My brother had S. because I was on Vicodin and in too much pain to take care of him. Dr.S and I put me on the schedule for an August IVF. In the meantime, I also tried accupuncture. Now I like western medicine, but it wasn't working for me, so I decided to try accupuncture. It did help with my stress-level, and in combo. with the pill, it was helpful. Alone, it was not.

Well, this brings us to the IVF, which worked, and thus I was endo.-pain free. Blissful! R. was born, and until last Sunday, I had been pain-free. Last Sunday I was in so much pain, I slept for five hours and did not leave my bed. Monday, surprisingly was better, but Tuesday was the pits! With my endo. not only do I have pelvic pain, but also nausea. Think morning sickness. It's bad.

So I am scared now, guys. I only got 5 months without the endo. returning. I will not do another lap.; didn't help the pain last time anyway. Should I take the pill back to back, therefore no periods? I do have a prescription for it. I will not do Lupron. The other option my RE mentioned was a hysterectomy. My mom had one at 29, she always wanted more children, but the pain was too bad. Now I understand. I don't want a hysterectomy. Is there anything else I can do? This makes me very down, not depressed, just down. I finally got my depression under control, and now this. It makes me angry. Are there any more options? What should I do??? Can anyone else relate??? I know Sandi P. can. I just want to be out of pain. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy 6-month Birthday, My Little Son!

It seems like just yesterday that I was pregnant with you. I remember checking into the hospital, and this time it was almost a let-down; no wheelchairs, and a nurse came down to get us from the lobby. No emergency room like your brother, although it was almost as early. We had to be there at 5:30AM, and this was the one time that I didn't mind getting up early! We had scheduled your birth since mommy had such a hard time with your brother. Good thing I did, since the doctors were wrong once again; you also were a big baby! I had such a good medical team taking care of me this time. I remember there had been a discussion about what radio station they would play. I remember a Rolling Stones song playing as they were prepping me. And when you were born the song from a LONG time ago played: 'And even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you honey.' Since it was a song from when I was very young, I do not know the artist's name.

Every morning I would wait for the nurse to bring you in, and I would want to hold you right away! I remember thinking one word summed you up: sweet. You had the coolest eyes, you'd look right into mine, and I fell in love instantly just like the books tell you.

We took you home on a beautiful, warm and sunny day. A stark contrast to the day we brought your brother home, poor guy. We were so happy that we had our miracle home and in our arms. You are our culmination; the culmination of all of our love, persistence and faith. I cannot wait to see what the next 6 months has in store for you. Just please don't grow up too fast!

*Feeling kind-of down today. It appears my endometriosis is back. I'll post about it soon.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Time For Something Lighter, and a Quick Question

S. decided to just 'jump in' while daddy was raking the leaves. We were lucky that daddy also had brought the camera outside. This is seriously the first picture in months where S. is smiling. How did his daddy do it, you ask? S. didn't know daddy had the camera; it was a natural pose. The pictures we tried to take later did not include any smiling. Hell, he wouldn't even look up in most of them. So we are cherishing this picture; who knows how long we'll have to wait for another smiling photo! Now onto the question.

J.'s birthday is coming up, so I bought him a birthday card. I spotted one that I just loved. I turned it over, and it said 'Mahogany' on the back, and then I noticed the pictures on it were all African American men. Mahogany is a brand of Hallmark card geared more toward the African American community. I bought it anyway, and it isn't the first time I bought a 'Mohagany' card for my husband. Often, these particular cards say exactly what I want to say, so why not, right? Am I wrong for buying them? Do you think my husband will even notice? I don't think he'll care. Oh, bloody hell, like my friend would say! What do you think?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Further Explanation

It seems that many people feel the way I do about the excess that our nation's children seem to be given. SAndi P., oh how I agree with you about the cell phones given to young children. It's like the beepers we used to have to have when we were kids, Of course, beepers were much less expensive, and my parents never would have bought me one so I didn't even ask. And Kate, your husband's friend sounds like so many people we have met over the years. It's terrible that these people cannot even sympathesize, or just plain understand, why your kid's needs outweigh anything else. I don't get it.

I thought I had left a little out as I was trying to get my point across. In a past post, I explained my childhood and how much it was different than my husband's. My parents married at 18, had my brother at 19 and me at 21. We always had what we needed, but at one particular point, my dad lost his job. This forever changed the way I view money. My mom had to work two jobs during this time while my dad searched for another. We moved several times in my life. And I got teased because I did not have the latest 'designer' clothing. My mother said she cried the day I asked her to just go and buy the labels and sew them on my jeans; I don't have to have the real thing. I didn't understand at the time that Guess didn't sell just their labels at the local JoAnne Fabrics. I always felt like the odd man out.

So fast-forward to my marrying a man who came from a family that actually took vacations to Europe, and whose parents had paid for his bachelor's and masters degrees. I luckily got an academic scholarship and some grants, plus student loans so I could attend college. If I hadn't h gotten the scholarship, I don't know how I would have paid for college. My husband had also already been working 4 years by the time we met, so he had more money than I did as an entry level teacher. He hated my Chevy Cavalier, but it's what I could afford. I got a great deal on it since it was my brother's car before he landed a company car. Anyway, I still felt the burn of being the one 'without'. My hubby's sports car, beautiful suits and ties, and the way he could just spend money and not worry about it fascinated me. I thought it was wonderful, and I wanted that life. I wanted it BAD. Now lest you think I didn't love my husband, that's not true. We dated for three years before we got married, and I loved him almost from hello. Sorry, that's cheesy, but I couldn't resist. However, I have never denied that his financial stability was a plus in my eyes. My kids would have everything! They would never feel less than good enough. They would always have the best clothes, the best toys the best everything. Do you see a trend here?

When S. was born, we found out my mom's cancer was terminal. I few days later, I began taking anti-depressants because I had been diagnosed with PPD. Those were good times, I tell you! Six months later my mom died, and I was so angry, so lost, so lonely, so depressed. I did not want to up my Paxil because I wanted to have another child, so I suffered. That's when it all started. My 18-month shopping spree. I bought and bought and bought some more. I had never bought many high-priced clothing items even when I was working, because I still always worried about the 'what ifs'. I worried that my adult life might turn out like my childhood life, and we needed to save, save, save, so that never happened! After my mom died, I just didn't care anymore. I bought almost, and I am serious here, the entire fall line of baby boys' clothes from the Gap. S. had every toy imaginable. Sometimes I would buy him a new toy, because 'I' needed a new toy to play with. I bought clothes for me, lots of them. And since I was barely eating, I was back into a size 1 or 2. Now though, I had hips and had donated my old clothes to Goodwill. So, of course, I needed to buy new clothes, right?! I bought new shoes, Clinique make-up (I still love their foundation, powder and mascara). I remodeled the kitchen, which my mom and I planned on designing together, she was so good at that. We had agreed on red paint, and then she died. I still remodeled the kitchen, but I was so depressed that she wasn't there to help me. I convinced J. we should put in hardwood floors, and he convinced me we needed all new windows and doors, which we did. I still love my kitchen, it's small, but it's pretty. Well, Christmas came, and I bought too much. I didn't care if something was on sale, it took everything I had to go Christmas shopping that year. My mom and I used to go every year. I had tears in my eyes the whole season, and by then I had had three failed infertility cycles. So it appeared that maybe S. would be an only child, which just solidified my belief that S. should have everything and the best. By that spring I had had another three failed cycles, a surgery that did not relieve my endometriosis pain, and it certainly hadn't helped me to have another child. The anniversary of my mom's death occurred; I was on Vicodin for the endo. pain as I kneeled in front of her grave. The next week was Mother's Day. And that's when I did it; I bought something that I am still embarressed about buying. It signifies greed, in my opinion. I bought a Coach purse, matching wallet and check-book cover for the tune of $500.00. It still makes me sick to my stomach. I didn't buy it because I thought it was such a good-looking purse; I bought it because it said Coach. It's ugly, but I also believe the Louis Vutton brown bag is ugly, so there you go. I was in so much pain, I thought I could buy my way out of it, and it worked, for maybe a day. I would have given anything to have my mom back, but since God had taken her away, I certainly DESERVED all this, right? Plus, when I was growing up I dreamed of the day when I could afford to buy the latest designer things. I thought people would look at me now, and not know that I once struggled. That girl would be dead. I would finally make it into the adult version of the 'cool' club. But you know what, it didn't make me happy. I won't lie to you and say it wasn't fun, or that I still don't like nice things, I do, but things just weren't cutting it. I missed my mother, I dreamed of having another child, I was clinically depressed. The latest Coach bag wasn't going to fix all that. And it didn't.

Today, I am a different person, I am happy to say. I have my second child, and finally found a psychiatrist who knew what the hell he was doing and actually cared. What a concept! I still miss my mom every single day, but I am in a better place in the the grieving process. I am now on the right regiment of medication; I did not realize just how long and how badly depressed I was until I felt better. I let my dream of a baby girl go, because I need to stay on this medication, and I am on a dose that would cause birth defects. And, we no longer have my ILs interfering in our lives telling us everything we do wrong, and wanting more, more more. You would not believe how much this has helped J. and I. I now am back at church, and see there is something bigger out there. People care about us there. I have actually had people come up to me and tell me how badly they felt for me the day of R.'s christening when my MIL made that big scene. And now that I am feeling better, I no longer care so much if someone likes me or not. I am no longer wearing the nicest clothes; hell, I don't fit in most of the clothes that I used to wear. I feel a sense of peace. I want my kids to know the value of a dollar. To want to make a diffference in this world. To be good men.

So I continue to live in my small house, in my middle-class neighborhood, with many neighbors who are gasp! blue collar. With two kids there is less money to spend, but the NEED is no longer there. Please do not think we are wealthy, we are not. We saved a lot before we had kids, and paid down the bills we could before the kids arrived. Our accounts are lower. My medical bills are not helping in that area, plus recently we had to spend some money we were not planning on having to spend. I still like nice things, please do not get me wrong, but I will look more closely at price tags, and question how much I really need it. Before, I just bought. To think what we could have saved if I hadn't spent that money. I am an emotional spender. At any rate, true happiness does not come in the form of designer duds, red wine and fancy dinners. It comes with inner peace, and strong values, and people who love you. It comes from being on the right medications. I am not always happy, but I am not depressed. Those of you who have faced depression know what I am talking about. I feel happiness when I can help someone else; when I make a difference. Not from overindulging my kids or myself. I can pay the bills and not be sick to stomach worrying about money. I am blessed, so now it's time to give back.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Am Putting My Foot Down

I love the town that we live for many reasons. There are lots of family related activities, programs for moms, and many senior events. The quality of life here is very good. Most homes are well-kept, lawns mowed, etc. In our neighborhood, we know most of the people, and many of them built the houses 20 years ago when this area was mainly farmland. Our particular neighborhood is your standard mid-western town. People know one another, tend to watch out for each others kids and love to sit, or just stand, and talk. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it is definitely not a 'keep up with the Jones' type of neighborhood. In fact, when we put in our new kitchen, neighbors asked if they could come inside and take a look; we had reconfigured the lay-out. Everyone seemed to be very interested in how it was down, and several of the men who are in construction-related fields told us how well it was built. No one has re-modeled their kitchen since ours; they just wanted to come look at how we had done it and were happy for us.

Unfortunately, our town is becoming increasing affluent to the point where our neighbors have pointed out that they could not even afford to buy their own houses today. Our house has increased by more than $150,000 in the last 7 years. Yes, it has way more than doubled, and no I would not pay that kind of money. At least not for the way that it looked when we bought it. I don't even want to tell you what our tax assessment looked like when we opened it today. However, at least our neighborhood is still the kind of neighborhood that I feel proud to live in. The values are strong. And relatively speaking, we pay a lot less than the neighborhoods to the west of us. The neighborhoods where the houses are reaching over a million dollars, and where you won't get much for $500,000. Now I have lived in California and know that $500, 000 wouldn't buy you a shack, but here in Illinois the prices are lower, and the weather can be pretty shitty, and you know- we don't have a view of any sorts, unless you count being able to see into your neighbor's house when the leaves fall a view, which I do not. The side effect of all of this is that many of the people that are SAHMs have a lot of moola. Now I am not going to play the 'oh, I am so poor card', because I consider my family to be very blessed. We have had major medical bills in the past 3 years due to infertility, PPD, doctors, and therapy, plus our insurance will only cover vaccinations up to a certain dollar amount, so once you spend it they aren't paying a dime more. And we have fantastic insurance. I don't know how other people do it. My insurance when I was a teacher did not cover well-child visits or vaccinations, so you had highly educated people going to the free-clinic to get their childrens' shots, which is ridiculous in my opinion. Anyway, back to the point. We spent so much money on medical bills last year that we qualified to recieve a portion of it back with our tax refund. The IVF was a big reason we spent so much. Anyway, even with all that money being spent, we are still doing well. The problem that I am having is that many children in our town 'expect' to get everything they want, and they do.

This has been happening even in my own circle of friends. I am currently reading Goodnight, Nobody by Jennifer Weiner, and in it the main character talks about how the moms are always one-upping each other. For example, if one mom only buys organic vegetables for her kids, another mom is growing her own vegetables in her garden, etc.... All of these kids, even mine, have way too much stuff. They have everything. They have the best, and lots of it. In the past year, the moms have decided to have birthday parties for all the kids. These parties are not low maintenance. They have a theme, people. One party had a bug theme. We went on a bug hunt in the backyard after we swam in the new in-ground pool that is in back of the house that features two turrets. The containers that the 'bugs' were put in were wood and had each child's name painted on it. The food even had a bug theme to it. And the party favors? A CD of bug songs for the older kids, and a bug stuffed animal for the younger kids. I do not even want to know what the bill was for that! It was a very nice party, but none of these kids will remember it. The oldest child was three. One topic of conversation that came up while we were eating was the monthly association meeting. One homeowner is being taken to court because he put 25-year shingles on his house instead of the mandated 30-year shingles. Another is being cited because they did not put up the correct fence. I guess these are the things that the rich worry about? I made a joke and said these people should come to my neighborhood. We have gasp! at least 6 different styles of fences and counting. I mean do these people not have better things to do?! This is why I stay living where I live. This type of thing is becoming increasingly common, and I know that there are more important things in life than what year shingle my neighbor puts on his roof! I mean if his roof doesn't last as long, then HE'LL be the one dealing with it, he'll incure the expense, not me. And really, I asked, can you tell the difference by looking at it? No, was the answer, but it is in the by-laws. Yah, whatever. This is why we haven't moved to a larger home. I don't want that kind of hassle. Every party has been as nice if not nicer than the last. Some being held at tumbling facilities and the like, for TWO and THREE year-olds. It would be fine if they were, say EIGHT, but two or three? I just don't agree with it. It's just excess. These people all have large enough homes to hold a party, also.

Back to the moms group. There are currently 8 of us in our moms group. We all met when we had one child. Now everyone has at least two. So, I need to buy 14 gifts a year just for this group's kids. This is not including my brother's kids or friends not in the groups kids, or hell, even my own kids. So, say I spent $15.00 a kid. That's $210.00 a year. Not including the mandatory cute bag or wrapping, plus a card. It's not that I can't afford to do this; I just think it's ridiculous. All of these kids also have family parties with very generous grandparents and the like. These kids don't need anything. I believe this money could be much better spent. I feel it's a waste. The waste is starting to disgust me. Not long ago, I brought toys that S. doesn't play with to Goodwill. They were all in excellent condition. It's just that his birthday was coming, and he did not need this many toys. Other children would be delighted to play with these toys; toys that my son only played with once a week or less. I am simplifying my own home, believing less is more. I am trying to instill these values in my children. That you don't get whatever you want; you are not entitled to the latest toy. I am not perfect, but I'm working on it. I used to go once a week to the mall, and yes, I would buy something every time. I can't tell you the last time I went to the mall. I only have two pairs of jeans that fit, and I am not buying anymore until I lose some more weight. Instead of just buying whatever I want right when I wanted it, I am waiting to ask for it for Christmas or my birthday. Now we never were the kind of family that could afford to buy two BMWs, for example. Or the latest plasma tv. But we could pretty much buy what we wanted, within reason, when we wanted it. Remember my husband grew up in that environment, and I grew up coveting things. I had always been frugal until I married my husband. I could stretch a buck! Now I am just returning to my value-system. I want my kids to realize there are kids out there with nothing, let alone the latest toy or best everything. That they are lucky. I don't want them to be spoiled brats who when they go out into the world, and the world doesn't give them everything right away, they don't know how to cope. I know of too many young adults who have attempted suicide or succeeded for this reason. Wealthy children with bright futures who ended it all. Too much, too soon. Not for my my kids. I want better for them. I want them to be good people, people with good souls. People who will do for others, who care for others. People who make God and their parents proud. Now I just have to figure out a way to tell my moms group that I can no longer go along with this excess. They are lovely people, but I have to be true to myself, my beliefs and my values. Any ideas????

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My Little Cuties!

We all had a good time this Halloween. S. had three parties to attend, and then on Monday we all went trick-or-treating while it drizzled the WHOLE time! It didn't matter as the kids were protected from the elements, and were having a blast. Well, S. was. As usual, R. was just going along for the ride! This is one of the only pictures where S. looked at the camera; we don't hope for smiles lately. I guess that comes with being three! R. is still one of the most smiley babies I have ever seen! My little pumpkin. Can you tell that S.'s Elmo costume is much more red than his Elmo stuffed animal? Yah, Elmo has been washed just a few times! So it can be done; Build-A-Bear said you can't machine wash it. I say that I am not hand-washing vomit off of a plush toy; it ain't happening. And guess what? It turned out fine. So a good Halloween was had by all!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Into Every LIfe, A Little Poop Must Fall

First off, my hubby and I discussed, OK argued, about our lack of sex on Friday night. Things were beautifully resolved. I did not realize that he was feeling some of the same concerns as I was. Turns out, he stopped trying as much because I was saying no at the time. Turns out we both hate rejection; who knew? There were other things that were discussed, and I am happy to report that the drought no longer exists. We realized that we needed to try to make our relationship more of a priority. I decided to take the brilliant advice of The Busy Body, and have a date night, even if that means we just walk around the mall or have a piece of pie. Also, Have Two, They're Small had some excellent advice as well. We are in a rut, and we need to get out of it. We are trying to have two nights out a month for just us. I am also going to work on having some time for myself during the week. That way if I have a break, I will be able to give my husband the break he needs when he gets home from work. I do not need someone all day like I had previously thought when Iwas in PPD hell; I think a few hours a week will be just fine.

This morning I decided since it was a nice day here in Illinois being November and all, that we would walk the two blocks, long blocks, to S.'s tumbling class. He walked alongside me as I pushed R. in his stroller. The way there worked out very well. On the way back, I stopped at the White Hen to buy a Coke, and off we went back home. I looked down at the top of our stroller and found some yucky brown stuff on it. That's when I felt it. BIRD POOP! It was pelting me like rain. Yuck! I looked up, and there were all these birds on the electrical wires. This extends one whole block! We managed to get past the birds with no more poop, but I discovered when I got home that my Coke was not spared either. Ewww...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I Guess I'm Not Too Sexy For My Husband

I cannot believe that I am going to talk about this again, or really, that this is actually the way it is. I must come off like some nympho. or such, but it just bugs me that my hubby has such a low desire for me. It maddens me, and at times like last night, just plain hurts my feelings.

My husband did initiate sex one month ago. That is the last time we had sex; seriously. Now I don't exactly have the biggest sex drive lately either, but come one, once a month! So yesterday, I did feel like a little loving from my husband and it wasn't just about sex; it was also about intimacy, something which seems to get lost between jobs, and kids, and well just plain life. However, we cannot let it go or we will just be like two friends who live together and take care of the kids together. And at times, that is what it does feel like. For the most part I am very happy with my marriage. Jeff is an excellent father, best friend, provider (eeks! How 1950ish does that sound!). He loves the children and I know he loves me. He puts us first, and has done an excellent job of taking care of me through this whole PPD nightmare. He is great. However, he has always had a lower-than-average sex drive, at least when I compare it to other men. My friends all wish their husbands didn't want to have sex. They seem to want it all the time. But even if that is not the whole truth, I am certain that they want it more than once a month. I remember prior boyfriends who would flat out tell me how attractive I was to them. I do not hear that from Jeff unless I ask. And now more than ever, I need to know that I turn him on, or that he at leasts thinks I look good, at times. My mom and I had this discussion, don't ask me why! Let's just say my dad couldn't wait for her 6-week check-up to get things going again. I wish I did not know this. I also wish my SIL had not told me how my brother is the same way. I DEFINITELY could have done without that knowledge!!!

So, yes, I get my feelings hurt. Jeff is not on ANY medication, so that's not an option. Anyway, he has always been like this. Last night after church I thought I'd approach him. Nope, he was going for a walk. And what can I say about that really? He's trying to lose weight and be healthier. On Mondays, he plays basketball and is frequently too tired; what can I say about that? It's through church, and is a great time of fellowship and again exercise. I want that for him. Then there's work and a long commute that makes him tired. Then on the weekends he feels he has so much to do, or is recupperating from the week. He's tired. However, I wanted to point out that sex does burn calories and can be very fun. And can bring a couple closer together. What I did say was,"You know most husbands would like to have sex with their wives more than once a month." And he was gone. Upon his return, I was reading a book. He asked me what was wrong, I replied nothing, and he said he didn't believe that. He fell asleep right next to me, which I found insulting, so I went to get washed up for bed.

This morning when he kissed me good-bye VERY early--I was sleeping, I heard him continually tell me how much he loved me. That was cute; now I think he'll just have sex with me tonight because he feels he HAS to. No thanks! Tell me internet, is anyone else's husband like this???? Or am I that undesirable? And no I am sure he is not gay.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Today Was Better

It's amazing what a little perspective will do for you. Today Steve, Ryan and I went to my Women's Bible Study hour, Steve to Storytime class--Ryan to the nursery, and as I explained my need for my particular prayer request, people laughed. People nodded their heads. Most of these women had been there or are currently there. The great thing about this group of ladies is that we are all different ages, and that's where the perspective came in. I trust these women. They are like my surrogate mom(s). Truth be told, I was missing my own mom yesterday, and wishing that she was standing there next to me during that photo session. She always knew the right thing to say to me, to put things in perspective, and she wasn't there. I felt her lack of presence; always do this time of the year. Lord, I miss her so much!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Is It Just Me?

Prior to today, Kiddie Kandads at Babies R' Us was THE best place to take Steve to get his pictures taken. I had been getting upset by the stupidity of having to wait to have pictures taken, no appointments! However, it usually worked out.

Two weeks ago, I found nirvana in an envelope! It was from Kiddie Kandids and it said that I could make an appointment to have my child's holiday picture taken if I had it taken prior to November 13th, I believe. Well, I ran to that phone, so happy was I! Guess what they said? Oh, well, yes we'll take your appointment. What time did you want? Oh, in the MORNING! Oh, no. We don't do that, because that's when children are usually at their best, thus the best pictures are taken during that time. BUT you can schedule an appointment at 1:40 PM or later. WTF! So stupid me thinks that a scheduled appointment at the place that has always taken the best pictures of Steve will be fine no matter what the time, as long as it's after naptime. Oh, what a silly mistake that was! Because, you see, I now know why they have taken such good pictures of Steve: He has always had his picture taken in the MORNING! Last year, you know, prior to having TWO children, I had Steve's yearly photo taken as well as the holiday photo/card because I had learned the year before that it is best not to wait until after Thanksgiving to have one's child's picture taken. See, this mothering thing is full of lessons you learn AFTER the fact. Back to the point. Last year everything worked out so beautifully, and I was so happy to not have to deal with having pictures taken during the holiday season. I stupidly thought, that since it went so well last year, and being that I could get an appointment and all, I should do it again with BOTH boys by MYSELF this year. I mean who could I get to go with me any way? Jeff, oh no, he got called into a zillion meetings, but I'll talk about how that was found out later.

I planned my whole day around this blasted appt. Getting Steve up EARLY so he'd be tired enough to take a nap EARLY, so he could get up, have a snack, take a poop, and get dressed early. It should have also worked for Ryan; he would also get to nap and eat. Well, everyone napped and ate, and we got to the store at 5PM like we were supposed to, but that is when all the positive things stopped happening. I, unfortunately, got someone inexperienced. How do I know this? I had to tell her what props, background to use, as well as how to position my children! I bet they schedule the best portrait people IN THE MORNING! Steve was being just downright ornery; he's a morning guy. Sure he'll sleep until 8-8:30 AM if you let him, but he just is not his best after he wakes up from his nap. Today was no exception. Stupid mama! At any rate, no amount of trying was getting my boy to smile. We tried cheerful noises, props, and yes, even food and water, my kid loves water, go figure, but he wasn't having any of it. So I said,"That's it!", and told Steve to get down, Ryan was going to have his picture taken, his 6 month. Yep, early, but I figured let's get 'em all done while we here and in these ridiculously priced outfits. Try to find coordinating outfits, not matching entirely, boys outfits that can be holiday, but 'don't have to be so you get your money's worth out of them', outfits! I ended up buying them from Gymboree. I have never purchased anything for my boys there prior to this. Yep, Gap is expensive, but they have SALES on items the kids can wear now. I was desperate, so I bought these outfits, and they are cute, but not what I paid for them cute. Okay, back to the point. Ryan took a pretty decent picture, so I put Steve back into the picture so we could get a holiday one taken, to make holiday cards out of. They do it there; I'm too lazy. Well, the only way we could get Steve to take such picture was to let him kiss his brother. At this point, I just told him to kiss his brother at the count of three, and poof!, there's your holiday picture.

During this whole sweat producing project, people waiting for their pictures to be taken have arrived; TWO whole groups! Now when I made the appointment, I told the woman that I would be having a holiday picture taken plus an individual picture taken of each child. Guess who didn't schedule enough time? At any rate, the portrait woman, 19 years old at most, whispers to me that she can 'pencil me in in then morning' when I said 'This is why I always have their pictures taken in the morning!', to which I replied, "I am not getting everyone dressed up again to do this!", or something close to it. So the people had to wait, and I know it's not fun. But neither is it fun to have pictures of your children taken, 3 years and the other 5 months, by YOURSELF, sans help like the rest of the people had. One woman's mom was actually trying to help me, she felt so badly for me, and to her I say a hearty 'Thank you!', because all the other people waited with the 'Your kid is such a fucking brat' look on their faces. And yes, he was being bratty, but come on, haven't we all been there? After the pictures were done being taken, we went over to the computer to have a look at them. I chose two poses, one of Ryan and one of the two of them, she deleted the one of Steve that I thought would work. Thanks! And it was then that I found out that Jeff had not even left work yet at 6:15, an hour away during rush hour traffic. How did I find out? He called my cell phone, which I had actually remembered and remembered to turn on. My husband being sweet and all, had purchased a few ringtones for my phone for our anniversary. Which one was playing at the BABIES 'R US, do you ask? 50 CENT'S sex-capade song,'Just a Little Bit'. And I didn't get to the phone in time, BOTH times he called. 'Come on unbutton your pants just a little bit, pull 'em down just a little bit...' You get the idea. Being that most of us had children from 3 weeks to my son's 3 years who did not want to have their pictures taken, I think it's pretty fair to say no one really wanted to hear a song about sex, because you know, that's how most of them got in this position in the first place.

I have to admit something, though. I gave in to Steve so he would shut the heck up, so I could choose those pictures. I told him I would give him the sweet potato puffs only if he was good. You know what? I gave them to him even though he wasn't being good, so I could do what I needed to do. It was then that I had my lightbulb moment: I am no better parent than anyone, except child abusers, are. I taught school, I even taught behavior disordered, or the more politically correct term 'socially/emotionally disturbed' children, children who were delivered to school via police, children who had started fires in the school bathrooms, children who had to be watched for fear they would commit suicide, and I did a better job with those children than I did of parenting my own child at that store tonight. That hour of hell for both of us. I am embarressed at my own behavior, I am mad at the store for doing the old bait and switch---hey you can make an appt. IF you do a, b, or c, but not during the MORNING---, I am mad at myself for making that appointment in the first place, and I am frustrated with my son. But, hey, look at me. I had my holiday cards/pictures created before Halloween, aren't I fucking perfect. The problem with this is that I have learned that I could appear to be 'perfect' with one child, but it is damn near impossible with two. Hey, I just learned another lesson. Why does no one tell you these things? These little things? You want to know what I said out loud as we were leaving that place,"We have now made everyone want to use their birth control tonight." Yah, I said it, and I am going to pour myself a glass of wine. This has not been one of my better days.

***(I am not depressed. The meds. etc are working well, so please don't worry about that. It was just one of those days.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

My Favorite Pictures Of...

Ryan and Steve. This is the first time I was able to get a picture of Ryan smiling. The picture of Steve was when he opened the Cookie Monster we got him from Build-A-Bear. What a racket that place is!

It's Done!

And I fear it's too small. I talked to the owner today, and we are on the schedule for first thing in the spring to enlarge it. My neighbor is also enlarging her patio at that time, so we are getting a deal since there will only need to be one place to be, and we are literally next door to each other. Jeff kept making it seem like it was my job to do this since I was the one who wanted the patio. Yes, I did, but if we didn't put the patio in we were going to have to replace the screened in porch's roof for the SECOND time since living here, and we never use it. It was not a nice one. Plus, the deck needed major work. My husband has not stained, sealed it since before Steve was born, so it was not in the best shape. Plus, pricing out a concrete patio I found out we would not save a lot going that route either. So basically, I tried to get a patio put in, and pay the least amount as we could. Now if my husband would have told me we had $2,000 more we could have spent on the patio at the time, then I would not have to be dealing with this again in the spring! But as we recently found out we are not going to be paid back money by 'you know who', it probably was for the best. And the size is fine, really, it just would be nice to have more space.
Now onto landscaping, which we will do ourselves. I don't mind. I will be putting in top soil where the river rock used to be, and then mulch on top of that. Come spring I will get to plant what I want. I have about six months to plan it all out! I never used to be excited about gardening, but now I have the time to do it.
Today we were supposed to have our driveway sealed. Guess what? IT RAINED! Do you see a trend here? Well, off to tumbling, and to clean off the spit up that my son just deposited on me. Yummy, and I bet I'll smell great! Why do I bother to shower?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Happy Birthday, My Son! (Part 2)

Happy third birthday, my little boy! I love you more than I could ever express. You were my first miracle baby, the baby who gave me hope even as I lost my own mommy. You are still my little boy, but even more now; you are a big brother and what a great one you have been. I hope you enjoyed your party as much as we enjoyed giving it to you. So many people love you, and no matter what, remember I will always love you!
(BTW, it had appeared that blogger never posted my original post, so I posted this one too. I like them both, so I'm keepin' 'em).

Happy Birthday, My Son

On this day three years ago, my son Steve was born. I cannot even begin to put into words how much this child means to me, and to so many people. The child that gave my mom peace as she held him. Even as the cancer advanced to her brain, she always knew who her baby Steve was or as she called him, 'Buddha Boy'. The child that I ran to hold the day she died, and just feeling that warmth against my body made me believe that someday life might be good again. The boy who my dad would hold, and talk to, and who made him smile. The child that makes my husband's long commute worth it to him. The child that made me see that there was some good in the world, and that maybe I wouldn't be that sad forever. The child whose smile always makes me smile back. The little boy who gets right into my face when I am hurt, and asks so seriously,"Mama, are you okay?" My little helper, Ryan's big brother, Jeff and my everything. My little blondie who couldn't have made me more happy if he tried. I am so proud of my little guy, and am so proud to call myself his mother. So good-bye babyhood, good-bye toddlerhood, hello preschooler (hood). I look forward to learning more from you everyday, my little Stevie-boy!