Monthly Archives: May 2014

Pardon Me While I Freak Out Just A Bit

On the one hand, I’m all, ‘Wow, May is nearly over!’ and on the other hand, I’m thinking, ‘Wait, I thought it was June already.’ I think the really weird spring we’ve had has kind of thrown me off, because it was cold and fitfully snowing here and there for so far into May (May!) and then we started having fairly consistently warm weather, so now I feel like summer’s been here for a while.

Anyway. Things here are good; we’re trying to get back in the habit of walking outside again, now that the weather is cooperating. It always takes us at least a month to get into a nice routine of near-daily walks and then, with it being Illinois and all, after a few months the weather turns cold and nasty, and we get used to just hanging out in the house. Even if we get a walk in (so nice, the fresh air and sunshine!) I still start the day with some jogging on the mini-trampoline and always, always get at least 15 minutes in after dinner.

My oldest turns 24 next week, which is freaking me out a little bit. I remember when the kids started hitting their teens, thinking that I could remember being their age. That was a little weird. But now that they are both adults (Paige turns 20 in August) I am remembering the Grown Up things I did at their age and it’s like, how is that possible? Didn’t I just do that stuff a couple years ago? Kind of like how I feel the 80s and 90s were just about 10 and 5 years ago.

So anyway, I started counting back and I realized that I was 24, the same age Eric will be, when I bought this house. The house that both of the kids grew up in. Well, I was on the older end of 24 (four months before my 25th birthday) but still. My baby is old enough to buy a house! Not that I think he should, mind you – things are so different now than they were then – but just the fact that he’s at an age where I can remember doing such a grown up thing is weird to me. (This is actually my second house; I was 21 when I bought my first house, which seems impossible now that I think back on it.)

Even weirder, next year he will be the age I was when I had him. NO WAY. And Paige, Paige is the age I was when I got engaged to her dad. In August, she’ll be the age I was when I first got married. (Hang on, let me find a paper bag to breathe into.)

I turn 50 in August, and on our walk today I told Dave that I just can’t believe it. I mean, I used to picture 50-year-old-me in a rocking chair as a Very Old Lady. But I don’t feel much different than I did 20 years ago. Dave just laughed and promised he’d take me to the furniture store to pick out my chair.

I think I’ll hold off. Time moves fast, but I’m kinda having fun moving along with it.

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Am I or Aren’t I?

Now that age 50 is on the horizon (three months away), it looks like I get to play the “Am I pregnant or is it menopause?” game. Yay.

I haven’t had any crazy serious menopause symptoms, really – a hot flash here and there, the occasional night sweats … I had the weight gain, for sure, especially in the stomach area, but that was one of the big reasons I started counting calories and exercising, so I can’t even get too upset about it. Probably the one thing I really noticed was that (ALERT ALERT female talk commencing – just want to warn any guys out there) my periods started getting irregular towards the end of last year.

I started using an app called Period Tracker, and it’s been great. My periods were doing a pretty regular thing where one cycle would be 24-27 days, the next would be in the teens (usually 17-19 days), the next back to 24-27 days, so on and so on. The app would gamely try to estimate the first day of my next period, but it was usually wrong.

For May, it estimated my start date as May 4. I always count exactly 28 days from the start of my last period and note that on our kitchen calendar. (Discreetly, with a little ‘p’ in pencil, not ‘MY PERIOD STARTS TODAY!’ in Sharpie or anything.) I would usually start three to four days before that. My estimate for this month was May 9th.

Now, we don’t use birth control, okay? Before his chemo and bone marrow transplant in 1993, Dave was asked if he wanted to freeze any of his, um, little swimmers for possible future progeny. The assumption was that between the damage done by the leukemia already (which was caught later rather than sooner), the major chemo drugs, and the bone marrow transplant, he would become permanently sterile. He declined the offer, and I knew from the early days of our relationship that we would not have any red-headed curly-haired babies. (Sob – I would have loved to have a baby with Dave!)

So I’ve never really paid any attention to my fertile periods, ovulation days, what have you. I do remember one or two scares, when I was in my mid-30s, when I would be late, we’d buy a pregnancy test and then hold our collective breath as we waited for the results. Usually I got my period the day or two after I did the test. Dave’s main worry was that if I did somehow get pregnant, the baby’s DNA would be seriously damaged by the affect of the chemo on his aforementioned swimmers. We always worried for naught.

In the last week of April, I was going through a frustrating period with my weight. It always fluctuates because I weigh myself every day (digital scale compulsion), but usually the general trend is downward. (Four more pounds to goal weight #1!) That week, though, it was trending UP and it was starting to frustrate me. Not by huge amounts, just .2 or .4of a pound, but usually it goes up and then goes back down, you know? I complained about it to Dave, and he laughed and said, “Well, maybe you’re pregnant!”

Let’s just say I didn’t laugh along with him. Instead, I panicked. “Wait, WHAT? I always thought you said we couldn’t get pregnant!” I opened my app and realized that if we could get pregnant, there was a possibility based on timing. If you get my drift. While I freaked out, Dave said, “Well, they never gave me a test or sperm count because the VA doesn’t do that. I guess there’s a very small possibility it could happen.”

Well, hot damn. I was a complete mess! I proceeded to worry every single day until May 4th, the first possible day I might get my period. That day came and went and nothing happened, no spotting, no nothing.

Although he is not a worrier, I did manage to get Dave as nervous as he possibly could be. “Can you imagine?” I fretted. “I’d be FIFTY YEARS OLD when I had the baby! I’d be … (pause to do mental arithmetic) … 68 when the kid graduated high school. You’d be 77!” By the time I was done, Dave was as worried as I’d ever seen him look.

I’d estimated my period to arrive by Friday, May 9, and it almost always came before my estimate. On Thursday night, I tried to think reasonably. I mean, what is it they say – when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras? Okay, so I might miss my period. But I’m 49, my husband is most likely sterile – it’s probably pre-menopause or the start of actual menopause, not a baby. I did some Googling and although the consensus was menopause, every site still said, “Keep in mind that you can get pregnant during menopause!” which was no help to my frayed nerves.

Then I asked Dave to do some research. Some sites said you could regain fertility after chemo, depending on the type and strength of the chemo used. I had no idea what they used on Dave, so he looked it up for me (turns out it was Cytoxan, Busulfan and ARA C). After he looked it up, he seemed very relieved. It turns out that the combination of the chemo medications is pretty toxic to a man’s fertility, so we weren’t being silly to assume. (Combined with the fact that we’ve been together since 1998 and never got pregnant.)

On Friday we ran errands, and I bought a two pack of pregnancy tests while Dave rolled his eyes. At this point we weren’t worrying any more, but I knew I had to do a test just to get an answer once and for all. The brand, First Response Early Result, is supposed to detect hCG up to six days before your period starts, and you don’t have to use first morning urine. So I came home, took the test and then waited. I couldn’t see anything happening; then Dave came in and said, “So it’s negative, huh?” Like this:

IMG_2880

Yes, I took a picture of the test!

Turns out I had been staring at the part you pee on, waiting to see a result. He had to point out the result window to me. Can you tell it’s been a long time since I’d done this?! That was with the instructions laid out next to the test, after I’d read them meticulously three times.

On a side note, I’ve never been able to just pee on the stick. I’m always afraid I’ll either pee on my hand (ugh), miss the stick and waste the pee, or not be able to pee for the five straight seconds you need to. I always pee into a disposable cup and dip the test. Aren’t you glad I told you that?! (And could I say ‘pee’ anymore?! Geez.)

My worries were over, but my period still never came. Since the box had two tests, I figured it would be prudent to take a second one after I was officially a week late (using my estimated date, five days later than the app’s estimated date). I cheated and did the test yesterday morning instead of this morning, and it too was negative.

So now I’m kind of excited, imagining the freedom of no more periods. We’ll see if it just shows up terribly late, or I just don’t get it anymore (I doubt it will be that easy). At first I was worried I’d be buying pregnancy tests all the time, if my period starts being seriously crazy, but now I think I’m just gonna chill out and accept the fact that we are not going to be making any babies.

On a funny side note, I was telling my mom and daughter about this on (appropriately enough) Mother’s Day, and Paige’s face lit up as she asked, “If you aren’t getting your period any more, can I have all your supplies?!” I told her I wasn’t sure this was totally the end, but I did gift her a big stash and she has dibs on the rest when the time comes. Good riddance, I say. 😉

New Starts: Plants and Houses Edition

This is our first seriously WARM day this year, warm as in ‘we left the furnace off all night and woke up to 72 degrees this morning.’ Warm as in ‘we opened the windows before 9 am and it was humid.’ I’m not sure I’m crazy about the humidity thing, but it seems to be dissipating as the afternoon wears on. (My ever-present glass of water is no longer coated with condensation, for instance.)

Dave just came in from planting the garden. The past few years he’s started seeds indoors and then transplanted them, but this year he decided to just sow the seeds outside from the start. I’m always amazed at how quickly things grow once they get outside, so it will be fun to watch the little plants poke through and then track their growing progress. In May and June, it seems like they will never get big enough to produce anything edible before cold weather sets back in … and then in late June, early July, it’s like they grow two feet overnight.

This year we got our seeds from Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds again. We used them last year and were really happy with them, even though some of the plants weren’t what we expected. (We had quite a crop of mystery tomatoes last year!) One of the mystery tomatoes, which turned out to be Costoluto Genovese, turned out to be so delicious that we deliberately ordered those seeds this year. We have a few types of tomatoes and peppers, butternut squash, zucchini (I begged Dave to just plant ONE this year, after my insane zucchini harvest last year), and some things that we’ve never planted before: leeks and Purple Peacock broccoli.

We are still keeping an eye out for houses in Michigan, and I’ve been kind of joking with Dave about the garden and a possible move. If we find something awesome, we could very easily pick up and go at any time … but what about our plants? I told him we’d either have to dig up everything, put them all in pots and move them, or sneak back here in the fall and reap the harvest. (I’m only half-kidding about that last one!) It feels like everyone is moving right now – my mom just sold her townhouse and is moving into an amazing two-bedroom apartment in a nearby senior living complex, and our neighbors just put their house up for sale yesterday. It’ll be interesting to see what they get for their house and how long it takes to sell.

We couldn’t sell our house when we looked into it last year, as I mentioned before – well, not for anywhere near what we needed to pay off the mortgage. We’re looking at land contracts in Michigan now, probably our only real option with a bankruptcy and pending foreclosure on our record. I doubt we could easily find a place to rent when we have four cats! So land contract it is; they are much more common in Michigan than they are here in Illinois. Dave is familiar with them but I had never heard of selling on land contract until he mentioned it. It will probably be quite a while before we actually have to leave this house, so we are just saving our money and keeping an eye on what’s available in southwest Michigan.

It’s kind of exciting, kind of nerve-wracking … we’re really in limbo, just saving money and waiting things out, which is, well, kind of boring. Luckily for me, my mom has asked me to help her decorate her new place when she moves in next month. It’s a blank slate, and HUGE, and it will be a blast helping her get things laid out … and maybe throw in some pops of color too.

One thing I can’t wait to do is get into a new place and make it my own; we know that wherever we end up will most likely be in fairly rough shape and/or be in need of updating, so I’m expecting to do a lot of renovating and redecorating (as time and money permit). When I bought this house, I really wanted something move-in ready. This next time around, it will be less ‘what I want’ and more ‘what can we afford?’ As long as it’s ours and we have a place for us and our four cats, that’s good enough for me!

The Uprising of the Appliances

Our car continues to throw little zingers at us. Dave would love to replace it; every now and then he peruses the used car ads on Craigslist with a gleam in his eye. But the car still runs, and as long as it continues to do so we will be savingsavingsaving for our next house. I imagine a new (to us) vehicle will be first on the list once we move, though.

So this time it was the key fob, the little doohickey that locks and unlocks the car (and sets the alarm). It doesn’t start the car, just unlocks and locks it. We each have one, and Dave’s stopped working a little over a month ago. He took it apart and something inside was broken, so it wasn’t just a battery or a simple fix. When we did some research on a replacement, we found out it costs around $300 to get a new one and get it programmed by a dealer. Good grief! We had no idea.

Once we realized it would be so expensive, we put it off. We still had mine, after all. But it was making Dave nervous, so last week he found a place on eBay that sells used key fobs and ordered one for $20. Then he searched for a video on how to program it himself. We watched it together and it looked fairly straightforward.

The key fob came today, and after he watched the video one more time, Dave went down to the garage to try his hand at programming (and saving us over $100). He ran upstairs a couple times to re-check parts of the video, and at one point I thought I heard an alarm going off. Finally he came upstairs, smiled weakly and said, “Well, it’s done! I didn’t realize it could’ve shut the car down completely, so that it wouldn’t start. It’s messing with the security system, after all. But it works!” It turned out to be quite a bit more complicated than the video showed, and perhaps he might not have done it if he’d realized what he was risking (the security system could’ve freaked out and locked the car in such a way that we couldn’t start it). Better not to think of that, and just think of the money we saved. (Whew.)

In other ‘things breaking down’ news, a couple of days ago I noticed a faint electrical burning smell in our kitchen. I called Dave over to sniff the air with me and he could smell it too, right by the kitchen island but nowhere else in the house. After we’d walked around the house sniffing the air like hound dogs, we met back in the kitchen and couldn’t smell anything. We did a collective shrug and figured it was just one of those things.

Later, after dinner, Dave made a cup of Earl Grey tea and he used the microwave to heat the water in his mug. After it finished, he called me over and there it was again. We remembered that the microwave had been used earlier that afternoon, when we first smelled the mysterious odor. Obviously something was burning up inside the microwave. My immediate reaction was to clap and say, “Oh GOOD, we get to buy a new microwave!”

We bought that microwave, a Panasonic, back in 2002. The first thing I did was use the ‘popcorn’ button to pop a bag of popcorn, and it burned the crap out of it. (I naively thought the machine knew what it was doing; I pushed the button and walked away, then came back to a room filled with smoke.) The plastic on the door was a nice light brown color after that debacle, in distinct contrast to the white shade on the body of the microwave. Dave never let me live that down, and I felt so bad that I sullied our brand new appliance on the day we bought it.

After some fast internet research, we settled on a Magic Chef microwave that’s a little bigger than our old one. It’s very pretty and it was inexpensive (especially after I found and printed a $5 off $50 coupon). It works a treat.

I no longer trust the ‘popcorn’ button. So far this microwave is still as pretty as the day we bought it.  🙂

They say bad things happen in threes.  Let’s hope the appliances haven’t figured this out.

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