Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Forward

I just finished reading four months of archives (November 2008 - March 2009) and I've come up empty handed on any 2009 New Year Resolutions. Turns out I didn't make any, or if I did, they were never written down. I have to say I was a little surprised at first, but when I started reading through those archives I realized I didn't really need to make any resolutions. In my mind I had already accomplished the inconceivable: I liked myself! And the only reason I ever made resolutions in the first place was to map out a way of coming to terms with who I was by the end of the next year, and hope beyond hope that I liked that person a little better than the person I was when I made the resolutions.

That being said, I couldn't have possibly prepared myself for the multiple speed bumps 2009 had in store for me. I had no way of knowing that I would lose my job, or that I would finally become pregnant, or that I would find a much better job with better people and better pay and a better commute just to live in fear of whether or not they would freak out when I finally admitted I was pregnant. I couldn't have known that I would fly in an airplane or see the lights of Las Vegas for the first time. I never would have guessed I'd come within 40 pounds of my goal weight...even if it was just in time to see it replaced by a 30 pound belly that kicks back whenever I poke it.

2009 has been quite a journey. It has included the highest ups and some the lowest downs of my life, but I wouldn't change it for the world.

I won't even pretend to know what I can do to better myself in 2010. I can't conceive how different life will be with a baby, but I do know one thing for sure: I want to be the best mommy I can be. I want to be the mother who is madly in love, attentive, interested, and active in her child's life. I can't promise to lose the baby weight, or start saving for college right away, or to keep the house immaculate at all times. All I can do is promise to do my best, and love this little miracle for all he's worth.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Bad Kind of Validation

Jon and I were out at a friend's Christmas party until late last night, and when I say late last night what I actually mean is 5 o'clock this morning, so you can imagine Jon's shock when he discovered me huddled in a chair in the baby's room and crying at 8am. Not only was I supposed to be sound asleep in our warm bed, getting more than 3 hours of rest, I definitely shouldn't have been hiding out in a nearly bare room where the only piece of furniture was the very chair I was curled up in. Understandably, Jon immediately thought something was wrong with the baby--Is he OK? Yes, he is fine. Are you OK? No, not really, but I think I will be.

I couldn't give him a better answer than that because I couldn't verbalize what was bothering me without crying harder and losing my words to gargantuan sobs. And looking back on it now I can see the melodramatic aspect and it embarrasses me, but then again, everything I do anymore is melodramatic so I should get used to it. What was happening to me was part sleep deprivation, part anxiety, and part recoil from feeling as though I'd been slapped in the face by a total stranger at the party last night. And again, it sounds really stupid and terribly dramatic when I say it, but the problem is I have to say it, or I'm afraid I'll never get over it. Plus, there's some psychoanalyzing to do here and I'm afraid my initial reaction will be to revert to my old hermit-like ways if I don't handle it right this moment.

So anyway, at this party last night, I was sitting in a crowded room where various conversations were happening all around me and I happened to notice one conversation in particular that was taking place between some guy I'd met maybe 3 hours earlier and another woman across the room. They were talking about nipple tassels and how she was so totally going to wear them to his Christmas party next year. And in typical guy fashion (though not usually when one's wife is sitting right in front of him, but whatever) he gets extremely excited and says she is definitely invited next year because she would be "a whole lotta fun", but immediately afterward he points to me and says, "But I don't know about her over there, she just seems too quiet." I wish I could convey the tone here so it didn't seem as though I was all up in arms about nothing, but in my mind, he told me, a total stranger and a tired, pregnant woman sitting in the dark corner, that she was too boring to come to his annual Raunchfest disguised as a Christmas party. I feel it was an absolutely insensitive comment given the circumstances, but I'm also (quite some time later) willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept that he was probably joking and more than a little drunk, mostly because my husband isn't usually in the habit of befriending assholes, but I really can't say for sure.

When I was finally able to turn the sporadic waterworks off and pull myself together for the day (around 5 this evening [more embarrassment]) I was still left with one question: why did I care? Why did it bother me that this guy, who is obviously my polar opposite, didn't want to invite me to the next topless party at his house? The truth was actually quite simple really, I didn't give a shit about the party. What bothered me was how he so blatantly, within hours of meeting me and in front of people I've known for years, validated a long lived fear of mine: I am boring. I am so fucking boring and introverted that I shouldn't be invited to any party, and even worse than that, he has now infiltrated my small circle of friends and it's only a matter of time before they stop kindly ignoring just how fucking boring I am.

It took nearly 20 hours of sulking, but I finally figured out that while it was his insensitive comment that started it all, it's my own hang up--my own fears--that have left me in a mess today. Now, if I could only figure out how to correct my boring personality without resorting to nipple tassels or flashing every camera that's pointed in my direction I may be able to get on with my life.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Softer Side

Lab Tech: "When are you due?"

Kate: "February."

Lab Tech: "Do you know what you're having?"

Kate: "Yes. It's a boy."

Lab Tech: "Oh, how sweet! You're carrying him very well!"

I'm not entirely sure what "carrying him very well" means, but I could have kissed her.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Creative Women Have Cobwebs in Their Corners

The first day of December in the year two thousand and nine has found me...

Extremely large, extremely round, and extremely happy.

With a husband who seems genuinely pleased to go out of his way to make everything easier on me.

Madly in love with the tiny baby growing inside of me.

With two very excitable, lovable, and cancer-free dogs.

With my first day as an official, full-time employee since June 30, 2009.

With all of my Christmas gifts bought and wrapped.

With a nursery painted the sweetest of blue and ready for furniture.

Reading "Eat, Pray, Love" and thinking Elizabeth Gilbert and I couldn't be more different, yet so alike.

More content than I've been all year despite it being one of the most hectic months on the calendar.

Very poor financially, but somehow very rich in life.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The last two weekends have found me in the same spot: on my living room couch watching re-runs of a show called "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" on The Learning Channel. Ignoring the fact that the last thing I should be doing during my own pregnancy is watching woman after woman giving birth to their babies on the cold, dingy floor of a fast food restaurant, this show has turned out to be one of those train wrecks that I can't look away from. And while the last 15 minutes of every episode has had me in tears, fearing for the life of a baby, I saw one episode last weekend that had me in tears, not just because the mother or baby could have died, but because that really could have been me.

This particular episode was about a women who was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) when she was 19 and she was told she would never be able to get pregnant. It was obviously hard for her to accept this diagnosis but her doctor was very firm in his decision and so she learned accept it. So, a few years later, when she started experiencing a lot of the common signs of pregnancy like weight gain, specific cravings, heartburn, and even movement in her abdomen she didn't think anything of it. Her and her husband even went so far as to jokingly refer to the movement in her abdomen (which she believed was just gas) as the alien in her belly. And when she began to experience excruciating pain in back she went to the hospital, but because her doctor said she would never be able to get pregnant they tested for everything but pregnancy and sent her home thinking she was simply constipated. Hence, the reason she ended up giving birth to her little girl in her master bathroom toilet.

Witnessing her story made me realize just how thankful I should be for my OB GYN who did not use the word "never" when she diagnosed me with PCOS. Instead, she told me it would be hard, it would take a lot of work and patience, I would have to lose weight and become a healthier person, but she put a lot of emphasis into the words "not impossible." It was not impossible for me to get pregnant, it was just going to take me a lot longer than most women.

The last 3 years would have been much more heart-wrenching, cold, and shocking had she told me it would never happen.

So, this passed Thanksgiving I had a lot to be thankful for: not just my family and friends, but the miracle that has been growing inside of me for the last 7 months and a very smart and dedicated obstetrician who put a lot of effort into telling me not to give up, that with the right resources and outlook I could reverse the side-effects of PCOS and my miracle could happen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things You Shouldn't Say to Your Pregnant Wife, Part 1

Jon: "I need to take a night off from working in that room. I don't even want to set foot in there."

Kate: "I'm just going in there to pick up the tarps and clean up any paint you may have gotten on the floor."

Jon: "Really? You can do that?"

Kate: "What do you mean?"

Jon: "You can bend over?"

Kate: "Umm, yeah. Why wouldn't I be able to?"

Jon: "Well, you're kind of top heavy right now. You might fall over."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Didn't I Mention Psychotic Tendencies Before?

Since last night's post was obscenely long-winded I'm going to make this one short and sweet:

Tonight I'm going to a midnight showing of New Moon. What? Did you just ask if I'm crazy? No doubt about it! Almost 7 months pregnant and I'm planning to be out until the wee hours of the morning and I still intend to show up to work bright and early? Yeah, something like that, but the question still stands of how coherent I'll be.

Anyway, I figure people--pregnant women included--have done crazier things and I couldn't stand the idea of staying home watching re-runs of The Nanny on Nick at Nite while my best friends were out surrounded by tweens in pajama pants and Ugg boots swooning over Edward Cullen. That sort of yielding is just not in my nature.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Pregnancy

1. Morning sickness doesn't always include the relief of vomiting.
I was actually sitting in a booth at Applebee's, staring down a plate of french fries and a Fire Pit Bacon Burger with two bites taken out of it when I realized I needed to take a pregnancy test. The few weeks leading up to that moment were packed with tell-tale signs that my period was coming any day--irritability, extremely sore breasts, constant fatigue--but my barely touched plate of food made me realize there was one other symptom I hadn't acknowledged: I was becoming undeniably nauseous every time I ate. It didn't matter what I was eating or when I was eating it, it was making me sick, only I could never find reprieve from the nausea because I never had the overwhelming urge to vomit. I was just in a constant state of nausea for 13 weeks.

2. My dogs would know I was pregnant.
On the one hand it was very sweet to wake up in the middle of the night at 8 weeks pregnant and find Jack sleeping with his ear up against my belly as if he could hear the baby's heartbeat before any of us, or the way Macy always positions herself over my abdomen whenever there's too much rough housing going on between Jon and Jack or when there's a particularly loud argument brewing. On the other hand it's not so sweet having two dogs on a constant state of alert, watching my every move, and following my every foot step. It's almost as though they feel a sense of responsibility to make sure the baby and I are safe at all times. You're probably wondering what's so wrong with that? All I can say is it's kind of hard to concentrate when there are two dogs pacing, worrying, and sometimes even crying on the other side of the bathroom door because you might be in danger while you're "taking care of business" and they can't help you because you closed the stupid door. They also seem to find it very hard to sleep around me and I'm such a light sleeper that the slightest movement or click of nails on the hardwood will keep me awake for a very long time.

3. Not everyone acquires a glowing complexion.
I've been told countless times by friends, family members, and total strangers who like to chat it up with pregnant women in the grocery aisles that their hair, skin, and nails were never more luscious than when they were pregnant, and I have the hardest time not clawing their eyes out. My hair and nails are unbelievably shiny and strong and they grow like weeds, but my skin is a whole different story. My skin has reverted back to my teenage years. I have acne like you wouldn't believe. It runs all along my jaw line, down my neck, and across my chest with lone soldiers taking up sporadic residence on my nose, cheeks, and forehead. Prior to becoming pregnant, the last time I wore concealer was on my wedding day for extra coverage against the camera, but I wear it on an almost daily basis now or else I'd look like I let myself go in a really horrible way.

4. Psychotic tendencies a.k.a Niagara Falls times 300!
Of course I knew that pregnant women had a tendency to be irritable--who wouldn't when the size of your abdomen grows a little closer to that of a house every morning? What I didn't realize was it's not just irritability, there are some seriously strong emotions that run through me at every single moment. Some days I feel like a really big nerve ending that keeps getting poked at for the hell of it. I know no one is doing it on purpose. Hell, I even know it's all in my head usually, but that's never enough to make me stop crying. And some days, oh yeah, some days I don't even need a reason to sit on the couch and cry quietly. I'm overly emotional as it is but these hormones really take it to a whole other dimension.

5. Your taste buds experience an identity crisis.
My food goal during the first 13 weeks was to just find food that didn't make me feel terrible. I didn't worry about nutrition so much as fighting off the nausea, but I always figured I'd go back to my old, healthy eating habits once I got through the first trimester. It turns out I was wrong. It turns out that the last year I've spent developing healthy eating habits to lose weight and lead by example to my child can go away with the flip of a switch, or so it seems. Even though I don't get nauseous anymore, most of the foods I've been eating for the last year do not appeal to me in the slightest. I hate that I followed a much healthier diet before getting pregnant than I am now, even though it's so much more important now than it ever was. I'm finally getting to the point now that I'm able to force it again. I used to like carrots and broccoli. I eat them for the baby now, not because I actually want them, ever.

6. The thought: "Someone has to be the 1 in 250, so it's probably me!" never goes away.
I never realized how scary pregnancy was, how easy it was to convince myself that my life may end if my baby doesn't make it. It's amazing how quickly and completely you become attached to this little life inside you, and how paralyzing it can be when you realize how many things can go wrong. I've calmed down quite a bit especially now that I can feel the baby move, but those first few months were maddening. Not that I have to say anything about it in this blog because there are a dozen others in the last 4 months that are proof of how scared I was and sometimes still am. Like I said, I'm much calmer now that I can feel the baby move but the fears never really go away completely. I lay awake some nights thinking: what if I pushed myself too hard today? what if the cord is wrapped around his neck? what if he arrives premature? what if they missed something in the screening? what about SIDS? What I've come to realize is this is probably never going to go away. Even if, God willing, we make it through the delivery and infancy and toddler hood just fine, then I get to wonder about things like: what if he doesn't fit in? what if he loses control of the car? what if he never comes home? what if? what if? what if?

7. It's not just delivery that hurts.
This should probably be number one. This is the whole reason I started a list in the first place, but whatever. I've read/skimmed a dozen or so pregnancy books thus far and very, very few mention round ligament pains. My mother had 6 kids, my older sister had 4, and my younger sister has had 1, but not a single one of them mentioned round ligament pains. For those who have never been pregnant, round ligament pains are brief, sharp, stabbing pains, or a longer-lasting dull ache in your lower abdomen. It's caused by ligaments stretching to support your growing uterus. It makes absolute perfect sense once you've read into it, but believe me when I tell you that there is nothing scarier than simply turning over in bed too quickly and feeling like your abdomen has just been sliced open, even if it does only last for a few seconds. Or that time when I bent over to pick up a towel, stood up too fast, and fell right to my knees because it felt like my legs had just torn away from my body? How can something so painful and so scary not be printed in bold text in every single pregnancy book out there? I don't know, maybe I just have a severe case, but still. If you promise to tell me everything about pregnancy make sure you include the stuff that might make me think my baby has just died a horrific death but is really just typical growing pains. On the bright side, now I know why pregnant women move so slow; it's not because they're so much larger, but because it hurts too damn bad to go any faster.

8. You don't have to wait 9 months before the baby starts keeping you awake at night.
First and foremost I just want to say this is not at all a complaint. I wait for, enjoy, and relish in every single nudge, kick, or tiny little movement I get from my baby, but I never realized he would have a sleep and wake schedule before he was born and I especially never thought his schedule would begin and end at completely different times than mine. This baby wakes me up at 4:30 in the morning every morning. It's like clockwork. Even though I'm sound asleep, not moving, and even though it's pitch black inside and out, he begins kicking and stretching and my belly starts bumping my arms or Jack's head and it's...it's...well, it's hilarious! And who can sleep when something so miraculous and entertaining is taking place in your own body? Like I said, it's not a complaint, more like, why did I not know this?

9. Everyone has an opinion about your size.
In the span of a month I've been told everything from "You don't even look pregnant!" to "Are you sure there aren't twins in there?!" but the most common is just a simple "You're HUGE!" I let it upset me at first, but I very quickly learned that no one means any harm, they just aren't really thinking before they speak. I mean, c'mon, how many 26 week pregnant women who haven't seen their feet in what feels like forever are going to believe they don't look pregnant? My immediate thought was if I don't look pregnant then I must look a very strange sort of fat! And then the others who acted as though I was so massive the sheer force of my breath alone was enough to knock them over were really just making conversation, albeit in a very strange, borderline insulting way. I also noticed a trend pretty quickly: everyone who knew me before I lost 70 pounds thought I was running on the small side, and everyone who met me after the 70 pound loss thought I was gigantic. It makes sense when I look at it that way, but I don't know that it really gives people the excuse to talk to me/about me the way they do sometimes. No matter what, from this moment forward, I will always think twice before commenting on a pregnant woman's size. Wait. Scratch that. I will just never comment on a pregnant woman's size. I'm sticking with, "Wow. You look positively radiant."

10. Never ever ever use Google to self diagnose!
I never mentioned it here, but at my 20 week appointment our midwife discovered I have placenta previa which means I have a low lying placenta and it's covering my cervix. It's a condition that usually corrects itself by delivery, but in the rare case that it doesn't I will have no choice but to have a c-section. Attempting a vaginal birth with placenta previa risks birthing the placenta first which would cause massive amounts of blood loss and possibly death to both the baby and myself. Women with placenta previa are also more likely to experience hemorrhaging or to go into pre-term labor. It's obviously not a diagnosis to take lightly, but when I asked the midwife whether or not I should be worried she very specifically said, "Not yet. We'll do another ultrasound at 28 weeks and it should have corrected itself by then. If it hasn't, then we'll go from there, but we're not going to worry. Not yet." But did I listen to her? Of course not! The first thing I did after arriving home was Google "placenta previa" and read every single horror story about women hemorrhaging on their kitchen floors and giving birth to their baby at only 26 weeks. I read about so many women who went into pre-term labor and lost their babies that I had myself convinced the same thing would happen to me. Just when I'd finally reached a time in my pregnancy when I didn't feel fragile, when I was sure it was all going to work out for us, I was diagnosed with something that I was convinced was a death sentence for both me and the baby. I cried for a week. Jon banned me from searching anything pregnancy related on the internet and immediately advises me to call the midwives 24-hour help line whenever I have the urge to Google a strange symptom. The internet is a fabulous, helpful thing but I've learned that it's mostly women with the saddest, most heart-wrenching stories who post on pregnancy boards and I had to learn that the hard way, unfortunately.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Turns out there's a downside to letting your husband handle all of the planning and communications with the animal hospital when your dog goes in for surgery: you don't find out that your dog isn't coming home that night until last minute. We're spending a night at home without Macy for the first time since we adopted her. It is definitely going to be an eerily quiet evening without the pitter-patter of her paws on the floor. We call Jack the silent assassin, but Macy is our noisy ox even though she weighs a few pounds less.

Anyway, we're told the surgery went well and provided everything goes well with her tonight she'll be home tomorrow morning. Then, depending on how long it takes her to recover--anywhere from 3-8 weeks--we'll start preparing for the next one.

Even though I haven't seen her, I'm feeling more and more confident that we made the right decision in going through with the surgery. It broke my heart to spend a few days trying to decide how much money a dog is worth. Our dogs have been our children for all of these years, but we have new priorities around the corner, and we had the fear of putting an old dog through too much in such a short span of time, but then I think about how defiant and head-strong Macy is and I know we did the right thing. I know that dog has a lot of fight left in her and I can tell she's already got big plans for the various baby blankets and toys that keep finding their way into the house if she could only reach them. She has an agenda and nothing is going to hold her back.

So tonight will be a peaceful night. We'll have a quiet dinner without the fear of a dog stealing the food from my plate, and Jack will get to remember what it's like to be an only dog. Of course, he has to stop wandering around the house, searching aimlessly for Macy first. It should be interesting to say the least.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saving Macy

Did you know a dog could develop breast cancer? Yeah, me either, but that's exactly what our vet diagnosed Macy with almost three weeks ago. From what I gather breast cancer is fairly common in female dogs who have not been fixed, and although Macy was spayed before we adopted her it wasn't until after she'd had at least one litter of puppies, making it much more likely for her to develop breast cancer than if she'd been spayed at a young age.

So what do we do? Well, she goes in for her first of two surgeries tomorrow in which she will receive the equivalent of a doggy mastectomy on her left side. It will be a one to two month recovery time and then she goes in for the second surgery to have the right side done. If all goes as planned she'll be fully recovered right around the time that, well, the baby gets here, and then we turn her world upside down and inside out by bringing yet another little life into the house that she'll feel responsible for keeping track of at all times. Needless to say, life is about to get very interesting, provided that she survives.

Wait. That sounds really dark, doesn't it? Provided that she survives? Fortunately, the vet doesn't seem the slightest bit worried that she'll pull through the two surgeries, the healing process, and the stress of bringing the baby home all in a three month span, but of course Jon and I have our concerns. We don't know how old she is--she was a rescue--and we don't know her past history with illness other than she was severely emaciated when she and her son were discovered in an abandoned home. We don't know for sure that she's got what it takes to get through the next few months, but we do know that she's not acting like a dog who's ready to call it quits, and the vet believes we'll be buying her another four to five years of active life if we go through with these surgeries, so we're doing it. We're going through with the surgeries and we're hoping for the best. We're hoping to not only give her a longer life, which is what we feel we promised her by signing the adoption papers, but we're also hoping to have the same animated, hard-headed, and loving dog we've come to know in the last three years.

I'll be the first to admit that I've been a hard judge of character where Macy is concerned. I'm extremely guilty of playing favorites between her and Jack--my first baby--but when I stop and look at what her life has brought her through and the fact that she still loves me and protects me as if there is nothing more important in the world, my heart aches for her, and I can't imagine life without her.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Team Work

Jon went grocery shopping on his own last night. I can count on well, two fingers, the number of times he's done that. You see, my husband is a very kind and giving man, but he is far from observant. He will gladly give you the shirt off his back but you have to tell him that you're cold and naked first. In other words, he's not likely to notice that we've run out of orange juice, or that we're down to the last roll of toilet paper until it's too late. For this reason the grocery shopping has always been left up to me, and I'm okay with that, usually. We've run into some problems with my pregnancy, however, in that our house was not built for bringing home groceries. Our garage is located below the main floor and all boxes and bags have to be carried up a full flight of stairs before finding their way to the kitchen, so if I'm shopping and unloading on my own I usually run into the problem of either a) carrying too much at one time and risk hurting myself or the baby, or b) taking so many trips up and down the stairs that I tire myself out very quickly. So in the last few months it's become apparent that I need Jon there to help me, to get the heavy items in and out of the cart at the store, and to lug them all up to the kitchen once at home.

The plan for last night was pretty simple: I'd be armed and ready with a grocery list by the time he arrived home from work and we'd hit the store together, but it didn't quite work out that way. I made out a quick, not quite complete list and then accidentally passed out on the couch. By the time he got home at 8:30 I was in no condition to do anything but make my way to bed. Just before I closed my eyes, I remember thinking how annoyed he was going to be when he came home and found me sound asleep, and I remember mentally kicking myself for being so damn tired because if ever we needed more food or supplies in our house it was yesterday, but I couldn't help myself, and I was sleeping heavily before I knew it.

Fortunately, Jon wasn't annoyed at all by my inability to stay awake. He was actually apologetic for getting home nearly an hour later than he'd planned, but to my surprise, he was perfectly willing to take the grocery list I'd made and head out to the store on his own.

I couldn't believe it. I couldn't have been more thankful. And the best part? He even remembered the green tea I forgot to include on the list.

Like I said, my husband is a very kind and giving man, but he was out of his element when he stepped into that grocery store without me last night, and he did it anyway because he's suddenly become very sympathetic to my pregnant condition. And on an unrelated, but equally swoon-worthy note, he's agreed to go see New Moon with me since everyone else I know is going to a midnight showing.

I had my doubts in the beginning as to whether or not he and I would be able to survive this pregnancy together, but he's proving me wrong in many subtle, but powerful ways.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Putting it all in perspective

I can't believe I'm about to say this, but here goes nothing:

I weighed in at 201 pounds at my 24 week appointment on Thursday.

I'm trying very hard not to worry unnecessarily about my weight during my pregnancy. The last thing I want is to have an unhealthy relationship with food when I have a very important responsibility to make sure that my baby is getting enough of it. Instead, I'm trying my very best to keep a healthful perspective by understanding that putting on too much weight could be dangerous for the baby, but not putting on enough could be even worse. That's how I justify a 29 pound weight gain anyway (10 of which were gained before I even knew I was pregnant).

It is a little disheartening, however, when I look back to this time last year and see how very hard I struggled to get below that 200 pound mark. It was nearly impossible with the holidays and constantly being surrounded by delicious food that I refused to deny myself. I just did the best I could to avoid overeating and I worked out like a machine. I don't think it was until late December or early January that the scales finally tipped to 198 pounds, and it wasn't until mid-January--when all of the leftovers had disappeared--that the scale remained that low. Of course, then I spent the next four months slowly, frustratingly shaving off another 26 pounds, and when the scale just wouldn't go any lower than 172 pounds for the entire month of June I stopped paying attention and took a break from dieting.

Little did I know my body was creating a cozy little home for an embryo and I had been pregnant for most of the month of June.

I never once thought I'd get pregnant before I reached my goal weight, not because I didn't want to, but because I didn't truly believe that I would get pregnant even after reaching my goal weight. I didn't think it was ever going to happen for us. I would lie awake at night wondering how horrific the argument would be when Jon decided to approach me about adoption and I would have to finally admit that I didn't want to do it. I would have to be that terrible person who said we either have our children, or we don't have children at all. There's a story and fear behind my feeling this way, but it's for another time. Bottom line is, Jon always said if we exhausted all avenues and I still couldn't get pregnant, then we would just adopt children, but I have yet to muster enough courage to tell him that I don't think I ever could adopt a child, and I've always feared that because he wanted children so badly, this conversation could be the end of our marriage.

So, here I am, at 201 pounds. Full of baby, full of life, and full of food that I've denied myself for a very long time. I'm thinking back to the days when a 29 pound weight gain would have made me snap, and I'm doing it while quietly sitting on my couch and watching my belly jump as our son kicks me from his womb. And I'm looking back at an entry from almost one year ago today and laughing at the irony:
"3 more pounds and I’ll be under 200. October was an absolutely terrible month weight loss wise. Damn you McDonald’s and your evil Monopoly pieces--Ronald should be hanged!"
"Dear God, it’s not like I have to get pregnant right now, it’s just, you know, a sign that I’ll be able to give birth sometime in the foreseeable future would be fabulous. Love, Kate."

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's Up

Last night I started crying as if the bottom had finally dropped out. All of the sadness, the fear, the anger, and every other negative emotion I've been feeling for the last 6 months boiled to the top and I couldn't stop the flood of tears that hit me like a tidal wave on the way home from my mother-in-law's house. What was I so upset about, you ask? Oh, well, you know, I was exhausted and it was only 8 o'clock. I hadn't been awake for 12 hours and I could barely keep my eyes open. How is that fair? How am I supposed to get anything done when I constantly feel like this? Life is never going to be the same and I can't do anything but cry about it. So I did, and I think I did it quite well.

Jon listened quietly from the driver's seat while I threw my soggy fit. He simply nodded and comforted me every time I found something new to cry about. He didn't take offense when I told him we were going to be terrible parents, and he refrained from laughing at me when I claimed there were conspirators in our lives who were anxiously awaiting our first parental screw up just so they could rub it in our faces. Jon comforted me as best as he could as I cried because there isn't enough love in this horribly ugly world that I'm bringing our son into and there is nothing I can do to fix it.

It's the moments like this that scare me. It's the moments like this that make me wonder how I'll ever make it through the next 16 weeks, and if I'll ever be able to submit myself to this mental torture again. The physical pain sucks but the emotional turmoil is debilitating.

I don't doubt this is all perfectly normal, in fact, I know it is. I've read, witnessed, and related to countless accounts of moments eerily similar to this one and the many others that have crept into my pregnancy. I am an extremely emotional person. I feel things strongly, especially sadness, anger, jealousy, fear, and I feel them HARD even without these raging hormones, and so I suppose it's acceptable that I'm nearly paralyzed by them now...even if it something as little as feeling tired.

I suppose the only thing that really matters is that I'm a good mother when this is all said and done, so please, Dear God, let me be a good mother. Oh, and God? I'd appreciate it if you helped my husband refrain from putting me in the loony bin. I know he's tempted. Thank you!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Atleast the Bills are Paid

Today I balanced the bank book for the first time in over a month, and yes, that would be the same month in which I started a new job, stopped receiving severance payments, and took a trip to Las Vegas. In fact, the last transaction I had recorded was the withdraw of $500 in preparation for our trip. And while I try to comfort myself with the fact that I always had a running tally of dollars in my head so that I would (probably) know if we were about to bounce the account, I'm still disappointed in my dangerous decision to wait so long, and I consider myself very, very fortunate to not be in a big financial hole right now.

Truth be told, procrastination has become a way of life ever since I found out I was pregnant. It's like right after I took that test and a small, pink plus sign appeared, my world and I were submerged into a very large tank of water and each movement requires extra effort and a whole lot more time to perform than usual, so instead of taking action, I sit back and pretend there isn't anything to act upon.

It's one of the many things I hope to find a cure for before this baby arrives, including becoming less selfish, become comfortable making telephone calls, and most importantly, become a good role model.

I've got my work cut out for me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Note to Self

Next time, pass on the homemade chocolate cake. I know it's tempting, and having a giant jelly bean bounce around in your belly is a funny experience, but it is kinda mean to give your kid a sugar rush this young.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kill 'Em With Cuteness

Daddy's #1 draft pick. I've fought the good fight where buying clothes is concerned (because that's a big commitment, you know? To admit that he'll actually leave my womb) but I couldn't resist this one.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things I Learned in Las Vegas

1. This city doesn't need slot machines or Black Jack tables to sucker you out of your last dime. Two words: "complimentary" and "gratuity" will drive you to the poor house in no time.

2. If you are of the female persuasion and you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in Planet Hollywood late on a Friday night and can't figure out why you're so uncomfortable, here's a hint: You Have Too Many Clothes On! Head back to your hotel, change into the skimpiest, most revealing boob shirt you brought with you, and you'll fit right in. Trust me.

3. The Hoover Dam has the perfect place to hide that dead body...

4. Katie + first ever flight take off = total meltdown.

5. All those people who say, "Don't worry, Las Vegas is a dry heat! It will be a lot more comfortable than the humidity in Ohio!" need to be slapped. HARD. Dry or not, 109 degrees is fucking HOT and extremely uncomfortable.

6. This city was made for me--about 5 months ago--when I could drink, smoke, not worry about how I'll pay for future child care, and could stand in the sun for longer than 2 seconds before acquiring a 3rd degree burn.

7. Bus doing 50 mph on the open desert road + flock of dumb birds = :( on windshield.

8. If you think New York City is a melting pot, you haven't seen anything until you visit the Grand Canyon. My favorite was a pretty girl with a New Zealand accent who stood at the edge, calling out the name of each pose before her boyfriend snapped a photo..."Zoolanda!", "Uh Oh!", "Madonna!"

9. Cheesy photo ops are just around every corner. Like this one about Loose sluts..I mean slots!

10. You CAN listen to the same song over and over for 2.5 hours while driving through the dark desert, especially when that song is "Record Year for Rainfall" by The Decemberists.

11. I'm cheap. I gambled 10 dollars. I lost 10 dollars and gave up.

12. It takes 4.5 hours to drive to the Grand Canyon and all of 20 minutes to fly over it from McCarran International Airport.

13. You can be quiet and polite, or you can be loud and profane, either way, that shuttle driver isn't giving in until the overheated pregnant lady starts shouting fightin' words.

14. I finally understand why Westerners say Ohio is so Green. Dear Westerners, I'm so sorry for looking at you like you've lost your marbles. I get it now!

15. Jon + camera + Las Vegas = blurry photos every time.

16. Don't believe everything you see on CSI.

17. Did you get on the bus on a Friday night? Don't worry, you'll reach your hotel--it may be next week, or maybe even next year--but you will get there eventually...

18. Never underestimate the Hispanic men handing out hooker cards. They WILL reach across your pregnant wife to try and entice you with the photo card of a naked prostitute.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feel the Love

Kate: "I really am sorry about what I said earlier. I didn't mean it. My emotions are at an extreme right now."

Jon: "It's okay. I know. You know how some people are mean drunks...?"

Kate: "Are you saying I'm a mean pregnant lady?!"

Jon: "Well, yeah."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sweet Pea

It's nearing the end of the month. It's that time where I start to freak out about how much I haven't updated and start thinking if I don't do it now I might get too scared to ever do it again, so you end up with everything in a one long entry of the month kind of thing. What bothers me about it this time is how much happened in September that the internet doesn't know about; it doesn't know September 2009 has been one of the most fulfilling months of my life.

This month my husband and I learned we're having a boy! I was only 16 weeks along at the time, which isn't too early to find out, obviously, but slightly unusual as it's not typically a scheduled ultrasound. Our baby is difficult, however, and has yet to let the doctors or midwives find his heartbeat with a fetal Doppler, so I've actually been the scared but happy recipient of an ultrasound at every single prenatal check-up thus far. The fact that they have not been able to find the heartbeat via Doppler doesn't frighten me so much anymore because I know there are quite a few factors coming into play; like all of that fat on my abdomen I was in the process of losing, but never became completely rid of, or the fact that my uterus has been slightly tilted, though evidence is showing it to be straightening up a little more each month, and lastly, I seem to be carrying my baby a bit higher than they anticipated because they search my lower abdomen with the fetal Doppler to no avail, but have no trouble finding his heartbeat almost along side my belly button in the ultrasound.

Anyway, back to my 16 week check-up, Jon and I are giggling to each other and making cracks about our stubborn baby (because what else would our kid be?) as the midwife is unsuccessful at finding the heartbeat with a fetal Doppler for the 4th appointment in a row. I verify with the midwife that I'll be able to have an ultrasound done today to make sure everything is okay and she assures me I will. Ten minutes later, in the next room, I pulled the elastic of my dress pants below my belly and my shirt up to my chest while the ultrasound technician spread gel across my abdomen and Jon sat quietly at my side. The technician computed my name and due date into the machine, flipped on the sound, and Jon and I were listening to our baby's heartbeat for the first time. It was fast and steady, like the sound of a running horse's hooves, and it was the most beautiful sound in the world. Jon and I smiled at each other and I thought for sure life couldn't get any sweeter than that moment. But to my amazement, the conversation took a quick and unexpected turn right then. It went a little something like this:

Technician: "Were you planning to find out the sex?"

Kate, after turning to Jon for permission: "Yes."

Technician: "Well, did you want to know today?"

Kate: "You can tell now?!"

Technician: "Oh yeah! It's a little early, and sometimes I have trouble telling because of the position the baby is in, but this one is easy. Look..."

She turned her wrist and tilted to a new angle that had us looking up at our baby's butt.

Technician: "See that? Your baby is not shy. It's sitting spread eagle! And do you see that thing there? Between its legs?"

Kate: "Oh yeah. That's a penis!"

Technician: "Yep, you're having a boy!"

I can honestly say, with all of my heart, Jon and I would have been perfectly happy with either a girl or a boy. After 4 years of trying to get pregnant, the only thing we really, truly wanted was a healthy baby, but in that moment, in the realization that I was looking at a penis and in the technicians announcement, I felt a wave of calm wash over me, like this is exactly how it was supposed to be all along. If I was forced to have a preference it would have been a boy, and when I looked over at Jon and saw him grinning from ear to ear, and perhaps even sitting up a little taller, I knew he felt the exact same way.

We are having a boy. That short, simple sentence sends shock waves of happiness and excitement through my entire body every single time. We are having a precious little boy.

September 2009 also goes down in history as the month I traded in my muffin top for a belly that more resembles a tortoise shell and is almost just hard. I've started showing. I've passed through that awkward, is she fat or is she pregnant stage and moved on into the she's oh so pregnant cuteness stage. Maternity clothes have become my best friend and I never enjoyed shopping for clothes more. I spent the majority of my adult life shopping in the plus size department and scowling at the maternity clothes across the aisle because for some annoying, unfair reason the maternity clothes were so much more attractive than the "fat girl" clothes. Needless to say, I've been admiring the shape and clothing of pregnant women for a very long time and even though I managed to move out of the plus sizes last year, I'm having a fabulous time shopping across the aisle this year.

Another fantastic thing about this month has been letting myself let go a little. I know I said a long time ago that I just needed to relax and stop fearing everything that could wrong with this pregnancy in order to have a healthy one, but I've had a really hard time listening to my own advice. The fear is overwhelming. The idea of coming so far only to lose it all is terrifying. Knowing that I didn't even have to do anything wrong or stupid in order to lose everything I've grown to love was crippling. I waited for the bottom to drop out for two whole months, but it never did. Instead I went to appointment after appointment and was greeted with an ever growing baby, and then this last time I was greeted with a growing baby boy.

I've finally started breathing again. I realized the other day that I am one week and two days away from being half way through my pregnancy, and I think, I really do think that God is going to let me have this. He's really and truly letting me have this joy, even though I was so sure he wouldn't.

It started off timid and slow as I began sniffing the flowers when no one was watching, but it didn't take long before I began filling my lungs with the beautiful aroma. I'm not just sniffing the flowers now--I'm basking in them--rolling around and laughing and bathing myself in their sweet scent. I'm letting myself enjoy every remaining moment of this pregnancy, because you know what? I'm growing a precious baby boy with fingers and toes and a heart with four chambers. I'm finally willing to accept this for what it is; not a cruel joke, but an amazing, breath-taking miracle.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Shits and Giggles

I'm still in a bad mood. This is obviously not my week as everything seems to be going wrong, so rather than risk embarrassing myself in the future by ranting uncontrollably about said happenings I'm going to leave you with a few texts Jon and I exchanged this morning. (For those of you who don't know, I left my husband in Las Vegas on Sunday morning for his annual business conference. Since then I've been dragging myself to work each morning and spending the evening watching chick flicks. It's just that time of year.)

Jon: (10:22 am) Good morning. I love you so much. I miss you and I can't wait to get home.

Kate: (1:33 pm) Are you brown nosing? :P I can't wait for you to be home...although I have gotten used to having the bed all to myself...

Kate: (1:35 pm) Jack wants to play fetch with you...

Kate: (1:37 pm) I'm not kidding! He wants to play so bad he's licking his lips...

Kate: (1:39 pm) And after fetch, he wants to take a dog nap w/ you...

Kate: (1:41 pm ) Macy misses you so much she hides in bed all day...

Jon: (4:02 pm) No I'm not brown nosing.

Yes, yes, it's true. I have way too much time on my hands, but I rather enjoyed the idea of him sitting in a 6 hour meeting, taking an unapproved break every 2 minutes to see what his crazy wife had sent this time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shady Practices

Dear Reader's Digest,

As I no longer have to worry about losing my severance payments (seeing as you had prearranged a way to get yourself out of paying it all anyway) I have 2 words for you: Fuck. You. Your company is a joke and I have no doubt you will fail miserably and embarrassingly.


Monday, August 24, 2009

New Beginnings

Today was my first day at the new job and I'm having trouble deciding what to tell you about first. Should I start with the awesome, down-to-earth people? Or maybe I should begin with how the job description has turned out be so much more interesting than I expected and actually very, very similar to what I have been doing for the last 5 years. Or perhaps I should just dive right in and describe the extremely serene and beautiful lunch break I had while sitting at a picnic table next to the lake on a gorgeous summer day! That break was so wonderful I could barely concentrate on the book I was reading because my eyes kept averting to the small, shining ripples in the water and how they kept quietly smacking against the shore.

I know its early, but I think I'm in love...with my new job. The atmosphere and overall morale is a total 180 from what I've become all too familiar with in my work life. I feel as though I finally work for a company who has found the proper balance between providing a fun, carefree atmosphere while still holding the employees accountable for their performance.

I'd been extremely nervous every time I thought about starting this new job, and it seemed to only get worse with the approaching start date. I'd been away from work, life, and a normal adult-detailed schedule for so long that I was nearly convinced I was 11 years old again and facing the excitement/horror of going back to school. I'd destroyed my sleeping schedule over the summer and I was afraid I might have lost my work-ethic as well. I don't know that it's possible, but I was very frightened that I'd let go of the strong, confident, and bright employee I've always been while fighting through the shutdown of my last job and then during the 2 month wait for this opportunity to find its way to me. But fortunately I was wrong. I learned today that I am still every bit as strong, confident, and bright as I ever was, and more importantly, determined to do this right because I'm finally surrounded by people like me--people who take pride in their work, who care about doing it right the first time, and who can find and appreciate that proper balance between friendly socializing and getting the job done.

I know it was only my first day and it's possible ugly demons are already hiding behind corners just waiting for the right time to jump out at me, but after today I can't help but be reminded of something a friend said to me. She wished me luck on my first day and said she hoped the company was a good fit for me. I was taken aback because I'd never worried about it before as I've always been so consumed with the fear of not being a good fit for them that how I felt didn't really matter. She had an excellent point though, and I'm so relieved to feel that they are a really, really good fit for me. I mean, it's possible there isn't a better one out there.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This morning I awoke to discover I was spotting ever so slightly, and I found myself in the unfortunate position of choosing between two extremes: a) be myself, stay mostly calm, keep an eye on the problem, and hope it all works out for the best, or b) be my sister, convince myself that the baby and I are dying, call the doctor crying, and demand an ultrasound pronto.

I gave myself a leisurely hour before making a decision. I didn't really think anything was wrong, but I had this nagging voice in my head that was listing off all of the other times in my life in which I should have called someone but didn't, and how differently things could have turned out then, typically for the better. So I did the only thing I could think of. I pulled out the folder I was given on our first visit and glanced over the short list of things to notify the doctor about. Sure enough, the very last thing listed was bleeding, and it said all bleeding, even if very light, should be reported in early pregnancy. My problem then became: I'm 13 weeks. I'm in my second trimester. Surely that doesn't constitute as early pregnancy? More like mid-pregnancy, but just barely.

My reasoning (excuses) fought the good fight and I ended up calling. Better safe than sorry, right?

A nurse answered the phone and I very calmly explained my situation, carefully recounting every small detail, even a few strange, probably unrelated, occurrences that happened during the days prior. I figured the more detail, the more likely they'll be able to tell me whether or not something was seriously wrong. I also answered all of her questions, however embarrassing, and managed to feel relatively mature throughout the entire conversation. And after conferring with a doctor the nurse informed me that what I had experienced was probably nothing, but I was more than welcome to come in this afternoon for a quick exam to make sure everything is okay. I graciously accepted the emergency appointment, mostly because I couldn't see myself making it through the next three weeks, until our next check-up, without questioning every little discomfort.

The baby and I are fine. We're both going to live. I was just told to take it easy for the next 24 hours or so. It was actually a very exciting appointment as I got another ultrasound and it's amazing what a difference a week can make when compared with the ultrasound pictures I received last Wednesday. It could be the angle, but honestly, in the matter of 6 days the thing growing inside of me has gone from strange little alien to thumb-sucking human. It's beautiful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fingers Still Crossed

This morning I went to my third, and hopefully final, interview for a fantastic job opportunity. I'm looking at the fact that I made it to and through three interviews as a good sign. Each call back felt like a small reassurance that, hey, there was something about me they liked and they want to know more.

The first interview was over the phone with Human Resources, the second was with the two department supervisors, and today's interview was with the department head, as well as the general operations manager for that location. Everyone seemed to really like me. They said I should know something by tomorrow afternoon and I'm assuming the something I should know will be whether or not I got the job, because there can't possibly be anyone else left to interview me.

Overall I have to say I have a pretty good feeling about this, but I'm also working very hard at not getting my hopes up just yet. I've only been looking for a month and this job is more than I ever expected to find or have a chance at so I'm feeling a little apprehensive and can't help but hover over the jar of optimism and threaten to force the lid back on should I start feeling too confident. Okay, you're right, a part of me is bracing for bad news, but an even bigger part of me can't wait to hear the news, whatever it is.

Anyway, all of the interviews went great. I gave it everything I had and I genuinely feel I am more than qualified for the position so if I don't get it, I can feel confident in knowing someone else really was more qualified. I can't feel sorry for myself or worry that there was something more I should have done or something I could have done differently. I did the very best I could and all I can do is be proud of that.

Update 4:56 PM: Turns out I was so likable that I didn't have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to hear something. I am officially employed again!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bizarre Sightings

Today shall be remembered as the day I saw a man snatch a half eaten burrito out of a trash can at Chipotle and begin eating it. As if that wasn't bad enough, he proceeded to search the other can for an old, crumpled napkin to wipe his mouth. I don't know which temptation was stronger--to cry or to vomit.

What I don't understand is why dig for the dirty napkin when a pile of fresh, new ones reside four feet to your left?

Friday, July 31, 2009

July, July

So, I guess this is the last day in July. What I thought would be a week off of work has finally turned into a month and possibly more, but I can't really complain. I spent most of this month wondering how people manage to work through their first trimester, pulling their tired ass out of bed after a long night of strange dreams, feeling as though the very minimal contents left in their stomach overnight are determined to make their way back up, and as if that wasn't hard enough, you still have to manage to get through the rest of the day without crying for pretty much no other reason than you just feel like it. How does one hide all this? How does one pretend it's not happening and live life normally?

Perhaps I would feel differently if I had a job on the line. Maybe it's having that distraction of work that would make all the difference for me. Maybe it's all in my head. Who knows?

Anyway, 31 days after being laid-off I have my first interview with a company on Monday. It's through the temp agency, of course, so I'm interviewing to be hired on as a temporary employee, but at least it's something, right? It's also a phone interview, so I don't have to worry about squeezing into the $7 dress slacks, only that I can locate the room in the house that provides the best signal to my cell phone. How embarrassing would that be to drop a call, or repeatedly ask, "What did you say?" during an interview.

July has been a long, exciting, and tiring month, and I can only hope that August will bring a little more peace into our lives. Wasn't I saying the same thing at the end of June? Sometimes it seems as though no matter where I am, the chaos always finds me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

That Would Be "WOOT" in Gamer Talk

5 positions. She had 5 open positions to forward my resume to the employers. They all sounded like an excellent match AND they were all within 25 minutes of my house, 2 were even closer. I could be jinxing myself, or getting my hopes up for nothing, but I'm pretty sure I'll have a job soon.

Test scores came back excellent. Scored advanced placement on both Microsoft Word and Excel. Typing was 50 words per minute with 99% accuracy. Not too shabby.

The only negative thing I can take away from this morning is this: remember those fantastically cheap yet practical dress slacks I purchased earlier this month? Well, I literally had to stuff myself into them this morning, and I won't be able to do so much longer, next week may even be pushing it. I wish I could blame it all on the baby, but alas, I think Frito-Lay is the number one culprit.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Last Thursday I received an email from the staffing agency I've been working with. The email began with the premise of bad news and good news. The bad news was the job I'd been very excited for did not want to interview with me, but the good news was the agency had another position they thought I would be very interested in. The description of said position went a little something like this: Individual will drive company vehicle through eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania to deliver packages to clients. Individual must be able to lift 40 to 50 pounds to get packages in and out of truck. Hours would be Noon - 9pm and must be able to work last minute OT and weekends if needed. The position paid 2 dollars an hour less than what I've been asking and included a 40 minute commute to the main offices.

The email came through on my Blackberry just as I was getting into my car to meet Jon for dinner. I was so dumbfounded by how someone could confuse my office/customer service background with a position like this that I couldn't remember how to start the car for the a few minutes. It almost felt like a joke. First, nonchalantly telling me that the only remotely promising opportunity they've had for me in 3 weeks was a bust, then offering me something that was the complete opposite of what I've repeatedly described to them as an acceptable position for me, and lastly, fooling themselves into thinking I would actually be interested?

I'd been doubting this particular company for a while but this was really the icing on the cake. They either weren't being honest about the opportunities they had available or they were stringing me along as some sort of experiment, waiting to see just how long I'd be dumb enough to fall for their shenanigans.

I wasn't sure how you go about firing someone when not a penny had exchanged hands either way, and believe me, it was so tempting to reply right then and there with a simple email screaming, "You're Fired!" or "I'm sorry, but you must have sent this to the wrong person. I wouldn't be interested in this position in a million years," but I bit my tongue. I spent the rest of the evening trying to decide how to handle the situation, and I finally settled on saying nothing to them for now. If they are annoyed by my silence, too bad, do I really expect them to find something for me anyway? What I did do was sign up with another staffing agency, one that specializes in placing people with my particular skills. They are obviously well known as they have been recommended to me by multiple family members and friends as well as having their name and positions plastered all over job boards with temporary positions. The kicker is that after signing up on their website I performed a job search and found a dozen positions that would work for me, as opposed to the agency I've been working with whose job searches always came back with the dreaded "No search results found."

The new company I applied to called me back today, less than 24 business hours later, sounding extremely excited to have me come in for an interview and testing tomorrow morning. The representative even eluded to having a couple of current openings, in my area, that would be a perfect fit according to the application I filled out.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed once again, but one thing I know for sure is that this is a move I should have made weeks ago, and I feel so much better now that I have.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Your Salami Stinks

I've been waiting for something better, something a little more positive to write about, instead of constantly complaining about how badly the world smells (most notably fabric softener, dog breath, and salami), how the only foods I ever want to eat are Nacho Cheese Doritos and Chicken McNuggets, and how often I want to cry simply because my husband looked at me strangely. Life is not easy right now, and that's not even taking into account the fact that I am looking for a job in a very depressing and limiting market.

On the bright side, the nausea has mostly subsided and only rears its ugly head once or twice a day when I haven't eaten enough or maybe eaten too much. I walk a very thin line with food, but as long as I don't veer too far left or right I generally have it under control. The fatigue is also letting up, which is nice, and leaves more time in the day to waste away on the time stuck that is all things internet.

Jon accused me of depending on him too much lately. He said I waste my day away watching television, using the internet, and doing anything else to space out until he can come home from work and rescue me from my own boredom. I was so incredibly insulted when he said this to me that I didn't even look at him for hours, but the truth is, he's right. I don't know what to do with myself during the day. There's only so much job searching you can do. There's only so much housework you can do, although I really could do more if my attention span would last longer than 10 minutes.

I don't know if it's the pregnancy or the depression or the anxiety or sheer boredom that has me feeling like a maniac in slow-motion, but I want it to stop. Today.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Living Nightmare

If you had told me as little as 24 hours ago that I could be in my old office building, sitting in my old cubicle, working on my old computer and doing it as soon as today, I would have laughed hysterically and then rudely spit on your favorite shoes, because I would never, in a million years, let that company take any more of me than it already has. Alas, it appears I would have been horribly mistaken as my confident demeanor would have stepped aside as soon as the last remaining sister company still residing in that building called in for my help. I buckled and I agreed to come in for only a couple of days to help get the company out of a backlog.

I honestly can't even say what made me do it. It's not the money, 2 or 3 days will hardly be worth it. It's not that I feel obligated, they sucked me dry and were now coming back to beg for more. If I had to guess, I'd say it was Jon and his convincing argument about why I needed to get out of this house, away from this computer and every job search engine known to man, before I drove myself completely insane. He also played the value card by convincing me that I must be even more valuable than we thought if a company that knew me, but I never worked for, was desperately seeking my help. He tried to get me to imagine how awesome that would sound to a prospective employer when mentioned in an interview. I, on the other hand, pointed out that it may sound great in an interview, but it's pretty useless when prospective employers don't call you back for an interview in the first place. He acted like this was hogwash and so I went to work today.

It was odd, very, very odd to be there. I'd left almost 3 weeks ago with a little skip in my step and I was perfectly prepared, even excited, to never see that building again. Yet here I was in eerily similar, but blank and alien surroundings trying to be productive while voices of co-workers past lurked in the dark, humid, and silent call center.

It was not a particularly hard day, just...odd. And you have my word that after this short, little stint I will never agree to this again. It is beyond time for me to move on with my life and I can't do it until that place is my past, not my today.

In other news, the temporary agency finally contacted me with a very promising position. It is nearly perfect in every way--close to home, temp to hire, well known and trusted company, something I'd be good at, and the pay is not too shabby. It's going to require a bit of song and dance on both my and the agency's part in order to get me in there but I'm up for the challenge and I think they're tired of trying to please me and my "impossible" job requirements. Please keep your fingers crossed as its pertinent that I find something soon, before companies can begin illegally discriminating against my soon-to-be round belly.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Do You Believe in Magic?

If you've been following my blogs for a few years now, you may remember this one in which I found out my little sister was pregnant, and I spent a good deal of it crying because it was supposed to be me, and because she wasn't ready, and because God had gotten it wrong. I wrote at the very end that God works in very mysterious ways and if I had known just how mysterious He really operates, I might not have spent the last two and a half years fretting whether or not I'd ever have children. I would have just quit my job, or done something equally life-altering and terrifying.

On July 2, 2009--two days after being laid off--I discovered I'm pregnant.

Jon and I are both ecstatic despite the circumstances. When you've been trying to have a baby for 3 years, with no luck, you can't be too picky about the surrounding dilemmas when it finally does happen. I've also spent the last 3 years calming myself with words such as, "God will let it happen when it's supposed to happen," and who I am to accuse God of getting it wrong twice? Apparently, it was supposed to happen now--I don't know why just yet--but we'll make it work somehow.

I'm only 2 months along and I've lived in constant fear of a miscarriage. I'm afraid it might permanently break me to have finally made it this far only to see it slip away due to no fault of my own. I've made drastic changes to my life, even in just the last 2 weeks, to be more accommodating for this baby, and I really hope I've done enough.

The scariest moment thus far had to have been last Saturday morning when I woke up feeling exceptionally well. I wasn't nauseous, my boobs weren't sore, my head wasn't pounding, and I wasn't starving. I woke up feeling perfectly normal--more specifically--I didn't feel pregnant. I was convinced--so convinced that I had Jon convinced--that I was going to miscarry at any moment and life would never be the same again.

I spent the next two days crying sporadically and asking God why He got his kicks from beating me while I was already down. I mean, seriously, I don't have a job anymore and I'm pregnant? Why force me to come to terms with such a frightening situation--get me excited for it even--and then take it all away at the drop of a hat? I was very, very angry with Him in case you haven't noticed. But then everything changed on Monday when my little sister and I went out to lunch together and I almost vomited in her car afterward. Suddenly I felt like my new self again. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with the feeling of pregnancy and the assurance that everything would be okay. I quickly began apologizing profusely to God.

It felt like years had passed, but Tuesday (yesterday) finally rolled around and Jon and I were off for our first prenatal appointment. I had trouble sleeping I was so anxiously awaiting the moment I could see our tiny blob on the ultrasound monitor and the flicker of the baby's little heartbeat.

The appointment lasted nearly 3 hours. We provided our family medical history, had dozens upon dozens of questions answered (and they weren't even phased by my symptoms randomly disappearing and reappearing) and finally we got to the ultrasound. When the technician zoomed-in and pointed out the tiny heartbeat I heard Jon suck in a huge breath. I realized two things at that moment: he'd been scared, really, really scared about what we would find, and he was hiding it from me/for me, and I also understood that he finally realized what was happening--it was finally official--he acknowledged that he was going to be a dad with that sharp intake of breath. It was quite possibly the most magical moment of my life thus far.

I'm 8 weeks along. 4 more weeks and my chance of miscarriage drastically declines although I'm not so afraid anymore. I'm pretty sure I know how to do this now. I'm pretty sure I know what this baby needs in order to survive: it simply needs to me to calm down, be healthy, and enjoy the marvelous ride. My due date is February 22, 2010, 6 days before my 28th birthday, which means its entirely possible I will share a birthday with my first born child. It also means Jon has finally found a birthday gift for me that is larger--oh, so much larger--than our house.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Clarity, At Last

I have to say I'm pretty impressed with myself today. My first day without a job and I've been very proactive.

I woke up early this morning to get ready for a 10:00 appointment with the staffing agency. They had quite a bit more paperwork for me to fill out, videos for me to watch, and questions for me to answer. It all went pretty well, though. I was a nervous wreck before hand, but once they gave me my test scores I realized I've been very hard on myself these last few months, feeling very incompetent and unworthy of employment, but those scores were, well, impressive. And when I asked if they recommend any tweaks or adjustments to my resume, they said it actually looked great just as it was. The whole experience was eye-opening, and I could finally see that I really do have what people are looking for, it's just unfortunate that not many people are looking right now. We'll see how it goes and what comes of it. They couldn't give me a firm time line of when something will be available, of course, but my whole reasoning behind going to a staffing agency was simply to get my foot in the door somewhere. My skills and work ethic can take me from there.

Other than crossing the t's and dotting the i's with the staffing agency, I've also started my claim for unemployment. I'm not exactly sure how it's going to work given my very generous severance package, but that's why I called it in instead of filing online so the unemployment office would be aware of my situation. And even though it was frustrating to be on the phone for over an hour, I figured this way I won't find myself in debt up to my eyeballs because they paid me too much or in prison because they think I tried to screw the system. They'll be sending me more paperwork to fill out and some specifically regarding my severance pay which is a relief to me, because it's this particular phone call that has been boggling my mind for a while now. For some reason filing for unemployment looked like a gigantic mountain lurking off in the distance and I wasn't sure if I could climb it. Once I got started though, I realized it was only a small foothill.

I've also found quite a few more jobs to apply for. I'm keeping my options open, but what I would really like to do is be an office assistant. I'm definitely open to more customer service--I'm really good at it--but I enjoy the clerical aspect of the office more. I like spreadsheets and fax machines and daily reports and keeping things tidy. I would love to do all of these things for a small, locally-owned company. These positions seem to be few and far between, but they are ideal for me.

And last but not least, I have my new pitch, so listen up all you employers: I, Kate, am a very valuable employee. So valuable that I was part of only 20% of my company that was asked to stay an extra 4 months to help close the company. I am so dedicated, competent, and good at what I do that I was 1 of only 2 non-management positions given the opportunity to continue working.

That really says a lot, doesn't it? Those 4 months were so nerve-wracking and wild that I was unable to see what staying behind said about me--as a worker, as a person--until I was finally outside of the situation.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Our New Roommate

Jon's cousin, Clare, came over for dinner last Thursday so we could discuss the possibility of letting her rent our spare bedroom for two months before her anticipated relocation to Washington, D.C.

Clare is a 23-year-old office manager who is currently exploring her independence with eyes set on something much larger and more exciting than anything Akron, Ohio can offer. I admire that. She's also lived in Argentina, speaks fluent Spanish (so fluent sometimes she doesn't realize she's speaking Spanish to us humble, single language folk) and hopes to land a career in foreign relations. She's so incredibly bright, resourceful, and determined that I have no doubt she will go anywhere and do anything she puts her mind to.

With a background like that there really wasn't much question as to whether or not Jon and I would agree to rent a room to her. It mostly revolved around deciding if we could be accommodating enough that anyone would want to live with us for any amount of time. So, we decided to make a list of Pros and Cons:

  1. The extra money couldn't hurt (for those two months especially).
  2. She could tell us what the actors on the Spanish channel are really saying.
  3. We won't require my little sister's house-sitting services (read: HOUSE PARTY) during our trip to Vegas in August.
  4. Jon and I will be less likely to kill each other over this whole unemployment thing. (Witnesses have that effect.)
  5. Maybe she'll hook me up with her job if she heads to D.C. in August.
  6. A constant excuse for weekend bonfires.
  1. Must close bathroom door.
  2. I have to wear more than my underwear to grab those jeans from the dryer downstairs.
  3. Overcoming my fear of awkward small talk.
  4. She's going to know just how bad my housekeeping skills are.
  5. Shower arrangements.
  6. It could be extremely embarrassing if she ever catches me working out.

The conversation during Thursday's dinner involved very little talk of her moving in and more about what we've all be up to in the last few months. The little talk that did revolve around living arrangements went a bit like this:

Jon: "We have two rules in this house: 1) You can't say the word WALK. You can't even spell it or the dogs will go bonkers. No, I don't know how they learned to spell it. 2) The big TV is the only one I can play video games on, so if I've had a particularly stressful day at work and I want to relax while playing a game, I might have to kick you off if you're watching something. So, do you want to move in?"

Clare: "Yeah. Is Saturday too soon?"

Clare moved in on Saturday. Jon and I are officially living with someone other than each other for the first time in 8 years, and other than feeling extra tired today from having to get up earlier to make shower time, it hasn't been too strange. Okay, strange? Yes. Uncomfortable? Only slightly. Maddening? Absolutely not.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This Could Only Happen to My Husband

I lose 70 pounds and my wedding ring is only loose on my finger. Jon loses 20 pounds and his slips right off his finger into a hole.

The good news: We know where it is.

The bad news: It's in his car door and the mechanic wants $65 dollars to get it out.

At least the ring cost more than $65.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why I Turned Off the Television

Call me a cynic, but is anyone else really annoyed by the fact that the media has done nothing but ridicule Michael Jackson for the last decade, but now that he's died they are finally willing to acknowledge his talent and influence? I think it's sad that he had to die unexpectedly to be recognized as a legend by these people. I mean, seriously, they are the ones who labeled him Wacko Jacko, right?

Rest in peace, Michael. People will forever try--and fail miserably--to master your moonwalk.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Repairing and Preparing My Psyche

I’ve been using my frustration from work as means to push my workouts to a new level. In the last two weeks I’ve started doing my routine in the evenings after work when the stress is at its worst, and I’ve been pushing myself as hard and as fast as I can. There’s something about that moment, when it’s finally over and my clothes are drenched in sweat, my heart is pounding, and my legs can barely carry me that I can think clearly and remember that there is more to life than what’s going on with my employment. There are bigger, better, and more permanent things that complete me, and I shouldn’t feel as though my life revolves around unhappy customers, disgruntled co-workers, and a never-ending job search.

Things have slowed to a crawl at work, which is a welcome change from having to hit the ground running while blindfolded like we’ve been doing for the last 2+ months. The only problem is that the little work we do have quite often revolves around borderline abusive customers who have no one to blame but themselves for waiting so long that there isn’t much I can do for them. I never mentioned it, but a few weeks ago, I had one man who, while screaming at the top of his lungs, told me I needed to go back to school to get my degree in Law, because what I, personally, was doing to him (offering to fax a copy of the order we received to show that he did, in fact, receive what he ordered) could be considered illegal. Then he proceeded to insult my intelligence and question my ability to do my job when I admitted that I needed my manager’s approval to bend company policy. He wouldn’t stop accusing me of playing games with him. Whatever, dude.

But I digress.

This time next week I will finally be finished here. I will be finished “playing games”. I will be embarking on a week long vacation at home to recover from the outrageous insanity of the last 4 months. After the rest and relaxation I will finish up interviews with temporary employment agencies and finally have a decent amount of time dedicated solely to looking for a new job.

I have no disillusionment. I know it needs to be done quickly, but I’ve done everything humanly possible to prepare for what could be a very rough road ahead of me, and I can’t let myself be consumed by the enormous mountain of what ifs. I have severance. I have savings. I have my network moving at full-force, and I have a very solid resume. I’ve read every article on job-hunting I can find, and I’ve followed every helpful tip. I’m prepared for this, despite my emotions going haywire, as if they don’t know whether to jump for joy or bury themselves in a stiff drink. But I’m pretty confident that everything is going to be okay, because anything has got be better than the right here, right now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Note to Self:

Should you ever be so inclined to create a new blog, it's probably not a bad idea to use aliases. Otherwise most of your traffic will come from Google searches such as this:

Is Kate from Jon and Kate +8 really a bitch?

And just in case you're all really looking for my completely unprofessional, just-heard-about-it-on-the-radio-today opinion: I'd have to yes, she really is.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Getting Acquainted With the Dial Tone

"This is Katie. How can I help you?"

"Yeah, I'm trying to figure out where I can order this book?"

"We're referring everyone to this website. They haven't.."

"Yeah, I went there, but I couldn't find it."

"They haven't made any announcements as to how you can order yet, but keep an eye on the site. They should.."

"There has to be somewhere else I can order it."

"Unfortunately, the website I gave you is the only place it will be available. They should be making an announce.."

"Listen to me, this is for a dying child with cancer and this book will be a great tool for him. Will you just tell where else I can get the book?"

"I'm sorry, sir. I wish there was something I could do, but the only information I've been given is the websi.."




An hour later:

"This is Katie. How can I help you?"

"Hi. I would like to place an order."

"Unfortunately, we're no longer accepting orders. We're going out of business, but thank.."

"Yeah, I heard the recording before I was transferred to you. Don't you have some books sitting around that you want to sell to me?"

"Oh. I wish I could, but our warehouse is completely empty. We stopped.."



Two hours later:

"This is Katie. How can I help you?"

"Hi. Yes. I placed an order at the end of May and I've only received close to half of it. Can you tell me when the rest will arrive?"

"We sent all of the items available for your order. The rest had to be canceled off of the order because they were sold out."

"So what I have here is all I'm going to get?"

"Yes, I'm very sorry, but the clearance titles were available on a 'first come, first serve' basis and your order was received on the last day we could accept orders."

"Do you realize how much money I've now lost because of you?! This is ridiculous!!"

"Ma'am, I.."


Note to Self:

A high score of 248,981 in Jewel Quest is not an accomplishment worthy of including on your resume, so it's in your best interest to find something more constructive to do with your time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I Would Have Named Him Charlie

Our evening walks have been mostly uneventful since the horse incident--until last night that is--when we stumbled upon yet another loose dog, but this time it wasn't scary so much as heartbreaking.

Jon and I and the dogs were just under a mile from our house when we noticed a small, black and tan dog as it ran in and out of the surrounding yards across the street. It spotted us soon after and came running over, dragging a dingy red leash and spiral, metal stake that must have been used to (unsuccessfully) keep it chained in the yard. He was smaller than either of our dogs and kept his head close to the ground, so I wasn't too worried about him attacking us like I was the horse. To be honest, I was more worried about what Jack was going to do as the hair on his back began to stand up and a low, mean growl started rumbling from his throat. I kept him on a short leash as Jon and I kept walking, hoping the stray dog would ignore us and be on his marry way.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite work like that. The dog was happy to follow us on our walk, tail wagging, big, sloppy grin on his face, and sneaking quick sniffs of Jack's butt every chance he got.

We made it about 20 feet when Jon and I finally came to the agreement that we had two options; we either had to canvas the neighborhood and find this dog's owner, or he was going to follow us all the way home. Seeing as we're not in the habit of stealing dogs or taking in strays, Jon handed Macy's leash to me and checked the stray dog's collar for tags and that's when we realized just how bad of shape this dog was really in. He stunk to high heaven and was nothing but big, buggy eyes, a rib cage, and a pile of matted fur. It was like watching one of those ASCPA commercials, only Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" wasn't playing in the background. My heart broke as it occurred to me just how long this dog must have been running loose, searching for food, and his long lost home. Of course he didn't have identification on his collar, which told me we weren't going to be successful in finding his home, but we had to try anyway.

We started on the street where we first saw him and asked every person we passed if they recognized the dog, but everyone said no. Meanwhile, we called animal control to see if a dog fitting his description had been reported missing, but we had no such luck. Dollar amounts for vet visits, vaccinations and licenses began floating around in my head. My deep love for animals wouldn't let me leave this poor, emaciated dog to fend on his own anymore, but my ever shrinking pocketbook and inability to control one of our previously rescued dogs (Macy, in case it wasn't obvious) was telling me I didn't have a choice. There's no way I can handle another dog with loads of emotional baggage.

I thought we lucked out when Jon spotted a little girl--probably 10 or 11 years old--riding her bike across the street. Jon called out to her and politely asked if she had seen the dog before. She paused, turned her head to the side in thought, and after a few seconds said it looked an awful lot like her next door neighbor's dog, two or three houses down.

We went to said house and Jon walked up to the door with the stray dog while I waited on the side walk with our two. Jon rang the door bell. No answer. He knocked loudly. No answer.

Then I noticed a man walking out from behind the house, and I called out, "Excuse me? Do you live here?"

"Yeah." He said.

"Is this your dog?" I asked.

"Yes! Oh my gosh, thank you! I've been out looking for him for like three hours!" He exclaimed.

"Oh, good," I said, and began explaining how the dog found us and what we'd done to figure out where he lived.

The man appeared extremely grateful and thanked us profusely as Jon handed over the dingy red leash and metal stake tied to the dog.

It wasn't until we were walking away and the little dog began crying as he watched us go that it occurred to me that I'd been so relieved to find his owner that I completely overlooked a very big detail: he said the dog had been missing for hours, yet it smelled bad enough and its ribs and spine were poking through enough that it should have been missing for more like weeks. I'd just handed a poor, defenseless, and malnourished dog back to the man who had made him that way.

I spent the rest of the walk home, the time we took to give our dogs baths afterward, and the hours since questioning whether or not I did the right thing. I don't think I did, but I'm also at a loss for what I could or should have done. I keep asking myself what if we'd never come across that girl on the bike? What if the man hadn't been home? The dog would have come home with us where I know he would have had a bath, lots of food, and a visit to a veterinarian by now. He would have been loved and cared for and not chained up in the backyard and left to fend for himself. But then I would always be asking myself how would I have felt if someone found and kept one of my dogs when they ran away? When I put it that way, obviously, this dog wasn't mine to keep. Still, if I'd only known before Jon knocked on that door what I know now, I wouldn't give a shit.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Current Forms of Entertainment/Mind Numbing

In the last 3 weeks I’ve

Attended 3 graduation parties.
I'm now broke.

Taken a trip to Columbus to see The Decemberists.
They were amazing.

Purchased a Blackberry (for me) and an iPhone (for Jon).
I'm now broker than broke.

Labeled over 100 boxes for storage at work.
It beat sitting at my desk doing nothing.

Submitted countless resumes.
Still crossing my fingers for call backs.

Watched 3 seasons of Weeds on DVD.
Drugs, sex, and suburbia. How did I not know about this before now?

Become addicted to Farm Town on Facebook.
WTF? Yeah, I'm wondering the same thing.

Lost 3 pounds.
Shedding weight from a smaller frame has turned out to be a whole new ball game.

Listened to 1300 songs according to the play list on my iPod.
I still heart music.

There have been times when I thought I might be going mad, and there have been times when I thought I was exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m somewhere in the middle right now, sitting comfortably numb.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Note to Self:

You can set the alarm on your cellphone as early and as often as you'd like, but it won't do any good if you don't turn the ringer on first.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


If you're up for a good laugh visit Awkward Family Photos.

If you want to skip right to the photo that inspired me to post the address, go here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Appreciating What I Have

The best part of camping is campfires and the warmth that comes from them, the conversations that can be had around them, and the irresistible food that can be cooked on them.

The second best part of camping is finally coming home to my own shower where the hot water is abundant and I don’t have to worry about whether or not someone can catch a glimpse of my butt through the tiny crack between the cinder block wall and plastic curtain.

Jon and I went camping with a few friends over Memorial Day Weekend. We drank beer, played Cornhole, ate s’mores, walked around the lake, and slept through a thunderstorm. It was probably the best time I have ever had while camping and it was a much-needed retreat from the stress and uncertainty of the last few months.

The weekend also marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my weight loss. I made exercise a priority after our Memorial Day Camping Trip 2008 and I started learning about nutrition and viewing my body as a calorie-burning machine as opposed to a nuisance shortly thereafter. Since then I’ve lost a total of 66 pounds. I weighed a staggering 242 pounds last May and I’m now down to 176 pounds. One year ago my favorite pair of jeans were a size 22 and I now fit into a size 12. I started off as morbidly obese and now I’m simply overweight. I used to look in the mirror and see a girl who had given up over a decade ago. Now I look in the mirror and see a woman who loves food but does her best to keep it in check.

I constantly have to do a double take when I look at those numbers because I can’t believe I—the queen of giving up long before trying—actually did this. I think my saving grace was that I actually found it all fun and interesting. Somehow I turned fitness and nutrition into a hobby so I wouldn’t see it as a chore. If I had done this before I was ready or without reading every nutrition-based book I could get my hands on I wouldn’t be where I am, and I certainly wouldn’t be so adamant and eager to continue on to my goal or sustain this new lifestyle. My moment was right and I can’t put into words how proud I am of myself for taking advantage of that moment and making the most of it.

The biggest surprise of the weekend came on Saturday night while we were all congregating around the grill. Our friends presented me with a small green envelope with “Congratulations Kate!” printed in cursive font on the cover. Inside the envelope was a card congratulating me on my weight loss, a personal, hand-written message from each friend, and a Target gift card to aid me in replacing my now defunct wardrobe.

It was one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done for me, and it was hard not to cry from the sheer surprise, kindness, and overwhelming excitement I felt running through me as I realized what had happened.

Thirteen long years ago I entered a bout of depression. The depression helped me convince myself that I didn’t have any friends and it packed on pounds faster than I knew possible. I was able to convince myself that nothing about me mattered. But here I am, thirteen years later, shedding weight by convincing myself that I do matter and receiving wonderful encouragement through friends I didn’t believe could exist. I can't help but be moved by the realization that they think I matter too.

Thanks, guys! What probably seems like a small gesture to you means more to me than I could ever say. I think I said it best with my initial reaction when opening the card--You all ROCK!