Category Archives: Not Related to Hearing Loss
When we first walked through the house in April, it was basically empty – no furniture or window treatments, nobody currently living there at the time. After we decided that yeah, we were gonna take a shot at buying this house built in 1900 (!), we came back and took a closer look. I’d found out the hard way, from a house we’d signed a contract on a few weeks earlier, that it was a good idea to open those cabinets, look in the closets, really take your time and decide if you can make this place work. (We backed out of the other house after the inspection turned up some Bad Things, but I also hadn’t realized that the kitchen cabinets were actually horrible inside – I never bothered to open a door or drawer. Doh! The market was insane at that time and we were basically jumping at any house that hadn’t been sold out from under us.)
As we slowly inspected each room, opening cabinets and drawers, we realized that there was actually quite a bit of stuff still here. Pots and pans, dishes, silverware, lace curtains (still in the packaging from the dry cleaner) hanging in the closet. The upstairs storage area, which I call the attic but really isn’t – it’s just a small room at the end of the upstairs hall with lots of space for storing things – had some holiday decorations in the back. There was a propane charcoal grill on the back deck. Stuff like that.
We tried to piece together the story of these left-behind items. The seller hadn’t lived in the house since 2011 or 12. I found a whole kitchen cabinet filled with inkjet cartridges, markers, first birthday invitations, even photos, and our seller was not in any of them. Leftover invoices in the same cabinet had somebody else’s name, a couple with a small child from the looks of things. I assumed they were renting the house and, for whatever reason, took off in a hurry and left a bunch of stuff behind. I also assumed it would all be gone once we actually took possession in June.
But it wasn’t gone. We opened the door with our new key, walked in, and found all these things in the same places we’d last seen them. So I ended up with a couple of new pots and pans, donated most of the dishes, gifted to Paige all the things she needed for her new home, and tossed the junk in the trash.
I pretty much forgot about the holiday stuff. I mean, it was June and the holidays were the furthest thing from my mind. Once November rolled around, though, I started eyeballing potential spots for a Christmas tree. You might remember my dilemma when we moved to the little house in Niles, a house so small that there was no possible place for a full-sized tree. (I actually considered not having a tree that first year, until Dave insisted that we look at some pencil trees.) To have multiple possibilities for tree placement was a novelty for me; even in Illinois, there was only one real option for where to put the tree (and I still had to move furniture to fit it in).
“We need to buy a tree this year,” I reminded Dave. “I hate to spend the money, it would be cheaper to buy it after Christmas, but that pencil tree is just not big enough. We’ll put that one out on the front porch.”
He held up a finger to stop me. “Hang on.”
He went downstairs (we have a Michigan basement here, so I try to stay out of it as much as possible). A few minutes later I heard something thunking up the stairs, and then a six-foot Christmas tree appeared in my kitchen.
He peeked around from behind it. “It was downstairs! It has lights on it and everything. It’s from Bronner’s!”
I mean, what are the odds?! This tree is the perfect size for the family room, and it is gorgeous.
I did suggest that we buy a second tree during the after-Christmas sales and put it up in the living room or dining room, but Dave shot that down. Can’t blame a girl for trying! 😉
It’s almost summer, and that means dealing with humidity and frizz for those of us with curly hair. In light of that, I thought I’d repost this entry from 2013 (with an updated final photo that’s more current).
I’m also considering a fairly short haircut for the summer, thanks to this inspiration:
I think my face is a similar shape to the girl in the white tank, and I could probably pull it off. We’ll see.
* * *
In 1976, I was 12 years old. I had a head full of wild brown curls and a body full of hormones that were wreaking havoc on said hair. All the magazines I read gave advice on how to care for your hair, but they assumed that everyone had stick-straight tresses. Following their advice, I would brush my hair over and over to make it sleek and shiny. Instead, I ended up with this:
Later that year, Farrah Fawcett’s famous red swimsuit poster came out. It was everywhere. There she was, in poster-sized glory, with her gleaming smile and those lush, voluptuous…feathered bangs. While all the boys studied other aspects of the poster, all the girls were asking, “How can I get that hair?!”
Pretty soon, just about everyone in school had feathered hair. You couldn’t walk ten feet without seeing somebody whip out a comb from their back pocket and run it through their hair, which would ripple and settle into a beautiful feathered pattern.
I was in 7th grade that year, just starting junior high at a brand new school. I was desperate to fit in, and I begged my mom to take me for a feathered-hair haircut. I think I vaguely remember the hair stylist telling me that she wasn’t sure my hair would cooperate, but I was young and naïve. If you just got the right hair cut, your hair would look like the hair in the picture…right?
Um….wrong. Here’s my class photo:
I ended up with wings. I could take flight with the things sticking out of the sides of my head. It was the first truly disappointing and embarrassing hair moment of my life, and I had to go through a whole school year like that.
By the time I reached high school, my hair was growing out and I was learning to use a curling iron to straighten it. (Yes, young whippersnappers, they didn’t have flat irons back then.) Instead of curling my hair around the curling iron barrel, I would snap the barrel over my hair near my scalp and then slide it straight down to straighten it. After going through my whole head of hair to straighten it this way, I would go back and curl the sides back in a big flip. It was the closest I could get to the feathered hair effect.
Since my hair was so curly, if it was humid my hair would immediately begin to curl and lose the shape I had worked so hard to achieve. Forty-five minutes of hair styling could be undone by a five minute walk outdoors in the humid summer weather. I bought a portable curling iron as my weapon against humidity, and I kept it in my purse all the time. You pulled the top of it and a plug would magically pop out of the base. In between just about every class, I would stop off in the bathroom, pull out my curling iron, plug it in and fix my hair. After my friends and I went out for a walk around the neighborhood, I’d stop back in their bathroom to fix my hair. I probably spent more than half my day trying to keep my hair straight and feathered.
Here’s hunch-shouldered photographic evidence of my hard work, circa 1980:
In my junior year of high school, something magical happened. Curly hair started to be popular, and people were getting perms. Perms! I wanted to embrace this new hair movement, but I was still absolutely clueless about taking care of curly hair. I had clued in to the fact that you never, ever use a brush on curly hair (I used picks) but I had no idea how to use hair products to help tame my curls. In their natural state, my curls were still unruly and not uniform – definitely not a pretty sight.
By now, my mom was working as a hair stylist and she came up with a way to give me a perm that wasn’t a full perm (since I already had some curl). I’m not sure what voodoo she worked but I think it involved a shorter processing time, and maybe she used less of the chemicals. The end result was magical. I had uniform curls, all over my head. No longer did I have a curl spinning in one direction away from the others, or a section of my hair that was merely wavy and not curly.
Behold the hairstyle I rocked for many years, starting in 1981:
Finally I was free of the straight-hair envy I’d been fighting for so long. I totally embraced my curly hair, and even when perms fell out of fashion and straight hair came back, I stuck with my curls. I was older and wiser, and happy to be different from most other people hairstyle-wise. I felt so much freedom compared to my days of spending over an hour doing my hair. I had discovered hair products that helped keep my curls in check, and doing my hair now took all of 10 minutes.
After I had my first baby, my hormones once again went wild and my hair became much more curly…so much so that I no longer needed the ‘light’ perms. My hair was doing naturally what I used to need a chemical to achieve.
I haven’t straightened my hair since I was 19. It took a while, but I learned to embrace what God gave me and not fight it. I’m proud to be a curly girl!
I was wandering through Goodwill back in 2012, and a couple of chairs caught my eye. The upholstery fabric was a terrible pastel 80s pattern, ripped and torn in spots, but the color of the wood and the line of the chair itself were really striking. There were just two, marked at $3 each, and I pointed them out to Dave. “Really?” he said, wrinkling his nose.
“Yes! We can totally change the fabric. I love them. They’re only three bucks – come on.”
Dave is the one with the reupholstery experience; once I got him to look at the chairs themselves and not the horrific fabric, he was sold.
We decided to use them with our double computer desk; we were trying to streamline everything and get away from the big, bulky office chairs we were currently using.
I found some fabric that I loved (as Portlandia encourages, we Put a Bird on It) and the chairs served us well. It’s been four years, though, and they get heavy daily use. The fabric was getting worn away and faded; it was really not upholstery fabric to begin with, just some good-quality cotton. Time for an update. I conveniently had a large piece of actual upholstery fabric that I’d picked up a couple years ago for $1 at Goodwill. (Can you tell I love that store?) It’s been in the closet waiting for a chance to shine, and this was that chance.
When I tell people that we reupholstered these chairs (and the kitchen chairs), I usually get a dramatic reaction along the lines of, “Wow! I could never do that!” But really, it’s so easy. Like, stupidly easy. I’m gonna show you how.
These chairs are super simple – just four screws on the bottom of the chair that hold the seat in place. We flipped the chair over and removed the screws, then took off the seat itself.
The fabric is simply stapled to the bottom of the seat. We decided to just put the new fabric right on top of what was already there, but you could certainly take off the old fabric first if you wanted to.
Lay out your new fabric and lay the seat on top. (I wanted to make sure certain flowers were in the center area of the seat, so I have the fabric right-side up.) Once you get your placement figured out, cut around the seat and leave at least three inches of extra fabric (more is better; you can always cut it off). If you removed the original fabric, you could also use that as a guide – just cut a new piece of fabric that matches it in width and length.
Fold over your cut edge, then bring it around to the bottom of the seat and staple in place. Don’t pull too tight, but also don’t leave it so loose that the fabric wrinkles.
Staple every inch or so, all the way around the bottom.
Screw the seat back onto the chair, and there you have it.
The possibilities are endless!
A while back, I casually told Paige that if I were to ever get a tattoo, I’d get some type of spiral. “Something that symbolizes the cochlea, for my cochlear implant,” I explained. Then I forgot about it entirely.
She asked about it again last month at Easter dinner, wondering if I was still planning to do it. “Oh no!” I laughed. “I’m too old for that kind of thing. I’ll leave it to you kids.”
And then I kept thinking about it. I started searching online for possible images, thought about the size and placement. Originally I wanted it right where my inner wrist begins. “I don’t know about that,” Dave cautioned. (He has two tattoos, one on his right arm and, well, basically his entire back.) “You’re going to see it all the time.”
“But I want to see it!” I argued. Still, he had a point. And there’s all those veins right there on your inner wrist; that would be painful, wouldn’t it? So I decided maybe further down, my forearm rather than my wrist.
I came up with a rough idea of what I wanted, after rejecting a few things. I knew I wanted it to be mainly black and then to gradually change to a reddish orange inside, to symbolize how my cochlear implant brings color to my world. I knew I wanted it to be about the size of a quarter or silver dollar. (Originally I wanted it teeny tiny, but I rejected that fairly quickly.) And I wanted it to be kind of rough looking, not smooth, perfect lines.
After I settled on what, I started checking out where. I read a lot of reviews and it didn’t take long to settle on a place called The Parlor Tattooing in St. Joseph, Michigan. I liked the work that they did, the place looked clean and spoke to me aesthetically, and the reviews were all positive. Dave called and they said I was welcome to come by for a consultation; because it was small, they might even be able to fit me in the same day. Otherwise, they were booked out until June.
Oddly enough, I didn’t think too much about whether it would hurt. I did do a search on the most painful places to get a tattoo, and one site said the wrist would be painful … as in, do that for your second or third tattoo, not your first. Other people were like, “Eh, no biggie.”
So yesterday, April 14, I realized it had been eight years since I went deaf. This used to be kind of a sad anniversary for me, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I used to feel like I was the only person who’d gone through this horrible situation but now I know that I’m one of many, and we all just do what we gotta do. I have my CIs and I hear better with them than I did with hearing aids, after all. Instead of being maudlin, I decided to have a strange man permanently ink my body to commemorate the day. Why not?!
Now if you’re just a boring non-cool, non-hip person like me, going to a tattoo parlor is a little intimidating. As we drove there, Dave asked if I was nervous. “About getting the tattoo? No. I’m nervous about making small talk with the tattoo artist.” Yep; other people worry about whether it will hurt. I worry about whether I’ll be able to hear over the music and sound of the tattoo … machine? Gun? And what will I say to this person I probably have nothing in common with? Or will they even talk to me at all?
We got there about 20 minutes after they opened. I wasn’t sure I’d actually get a tattoo, but I figured I’d at least find out how much it cost and set up an appointment. The shop itself is really cool; lots to look at, the kind of color and décor that I usually gravitate to. There was a very tattooed, pierced, bearded guy standing outside when we walked up, and he nodded and smiled at us. Then he followed us inside and asked if he could help us. I explained what I wanted and he said, “You know, I can do it right now if you want.” No turning back now.
I showed him the image on my phone, and then came the scariest moment of the whole experience. “Oh yea, just email that to me,” he said casually as he handed me a form to fill out. “Oh fuck,” I thought. How do I email this thing? I’m not to the point where I’d try to text using my calculator or anything, but I don’t just casually email random images to people either. I nodded slowly as my brain frantically ran through the possibilities. I touched one button on my phone and … yea, that’s not the right one. I glanced around casually, hiding my panic as I tried to figure out how to do this without looking like an idiot. Finally I found the right button, clicked on Gmail and looked up at him. “Oh here, I’ll enter my email address while you fill that out.” He took the phone and I breathed a sigh of relief.
In case you’re wondering (I always did), they make a transfer of the image you want. They put it on your skin and then use that as a guide when they do the actual tattooing. “Do you want the edges rough like this?” he asked. I confirmed that I did, and he agreed that it looked better that way. Then we talked about the color. I was under the impression that switching colors was a big deal, so I was only planning on getting two colors. But he suggested having the color gradually go from dark red to orange, which I loved.
The whole thing lasted for maybe 40 minutes, and it never became painful. (The whole visit, from when we walked in until we walked out, took about an hour.)
And you guys, this kid was so nice and friendly. (If you ever go there for a tattoo, ask for Preston – you won’t be disappointed.) We chatted the whole time, and even Dave chimed in from the couch he was sitting on. There were three guys working there and they were all like that – friendly and open. The whole shop had a very casual, non-judgmental vibe.
I also noticed that every single client was a woman. There was a younger girl in her 20s getting her shoulder or upper arm done, me, and then someone a bit older (but younger than me) getting a tattoo on her ankle. I thought that was pretty cool – girl power and all.
So it’s done, and I absolutely love it. I do have to say that it takes some getting used to, because it’s a tattoo that I can see as opposed to something on my shoulder or something, where I’d have to use a mirror to see it. Yesterday I’d move my arm and think, Oh my god, what is that on my arm?! before I remembered, Oh yea … tattoo. In the winter I’ll rarely see it unless I push up my sleeve, but it will definitely be on view in the summer months. Since it’s on the inside of my forearm it’s not quite as noticeable, but it’s very colorful and it’s not small. The important thing is that it’s exactly what I wanted, and it has a lot of meaning for me. I smile whenever I see it. If somebody else doesn’t like it, they can take a hike, man.
Dave talked to my mom last night and he told her to sit down before he broke the news. (I figured she’d be upset about it.) Instead, she said she’s been thinking about getting one on her shoulder. I think I know just the place to take her the next time she visits. 🙂
We think Sabrina, or Beanie (as we call her), is getting ready to cross the rainbow bridge soon. She’s 15 now, and back in November she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She’d gone from about 12 to 9 pounds and just seemed constantly anxious and agitated. Once we started her on thyroid medicine she seemed to improve. She didn’t gain any weight back, but she maintained her weight, her fur seemed less unkempt, and she just seemed more settled and happy. She also corrected some litter box issues she’d been having. All seemed right in Beanie’s world.
But 2016 hasn’t been kind to her. She lost some more weight, down to 8-1/2 pounds, then gained it back. She started moving slower; you can really tell she’s a senior kitty. And a few days ago she had some kind of incident, possibly a mini-seizure. Dave found her lying down with one of her back legs kind of up in the air, and she seemed dazed. We waited for her to come out of it, watching to see if she seemed to be in pain (she didn’t), and she slowly came back to her usual self. But I can tell when I pick her up that she’s lost weight again (I don’t want to know, so I haven’t weighed her). She’s still eating and drinking, taking her medicine, but we can just tell she’s getting ready.
Dave and I talked and decided not to take her to the vet unless she seems to be in pain. All of my previous cats ended up being put down in the vet’s office, and I’m sure that’s what they would do to her if we brought her in. I don’t want that, unless she’s suffering. For once, I want one of my beloved cats to die peacefully in her own home. I want her to be surrounded by the things she loves and the people who love her. I want to honor all the happy days she’s given us.
I watched this series called Time of Death a while back, and it made a profound impact on me, totally changed how I view the process of dying (which I was terrified of before). I know she’s a cat and not a person, but I want to apply some of that philosophy to how we handle Bean’s last days with us.
This is an excerpt from a previous entry, and it sums up Miss Sabrina about as well as anything:
Our oldest cat, Sabrina (aka Beanie) was in residence for about ten months before the former-feral girls joined the household and rocked her world. Beanie is the sweetest, friendliest cat you could ever hope to meet. If you come to our house, you’ll meet Beanie. She’ll stomp toward you on her squat little legs, look you right in the eye and meow softly. She’ll stare at you, wearing you down, until finally you give in and pet her on the head. Beanie loves being petted, even on her stomach. She’s so docile and loving; sometimes she purrs so loud that we have to turn up the volume on the TV. (If we’re watching TV, she’s almost always sitting with or on one of us.)
Beanie’s a little weird about sniffing your hand, though. She seems to have a sensitive sniffer, and often seems offended if you let her sniff your hand. This is a common thing to do, offer your hand to an animal so they can sniff it first, and it might look like Beanie is slightly repulsed by your presence. Don’t be fooled, though; she loves everybody. She just doesn’t necessarily like the way they smell.
Beanie often seems put out by the fact that she’s so far below us, walking on the floor when we’re apparently up in the heavens. She’ll follow us around and meow pitifully, or sit on the floor in the bathroom while I do my makeup or brush my teeth, staring at me sadly. Finally, I give in and pick her up; I carry her round the house with me or I put her on the counter so she can watch me. She settles in happily and starts purring; no more meows, no more sad looks. Beanie really needs to just be carried around the house in a sling, the way I used to carry the kids when they were babies. To make Beanie happy, all you have to do is pay attention to her.
And don’t make her sniff your hand.
She is a wonderful, gentle, loving cat – we couldn’t be luckier to have been her family for the past 11 years. I wanted to write this now while she’s still with us, when I know I can publish this post, then walk into the bedroom and give her a kiss on the head and tell her how much I love her.
I’ve been trying to be better about speaking up for myself, but last year I failed miserably where my glasses were concerned.
Because we moved, I had to find a new eye doctor (which was nerve-wracking enough). Eye exams make me feel really vulnerable because I have my contact lenses out and my vision is really terrible (nearsighted, -8.50 in both eyes). The room is dark and I’m looking through the big machine with the lenses, and I have to be able to understand what the optometrist is asking me. Even looking at her to lip read doesn’t help, because I can’t see her face unless it’s literally about an inch from my eyes.
I did luck out with my new doctor, who is easy to understand and doesn’t have an accent. I asked for prescriptions for contacts, regular glasses, bifocals, and also computer glasses. I explained that sometimes I want to take my contacts out at the end of the evening, but still be able to sit at my desk and see my computer screen. My bifocal glasses are a bit too strong in the distance prescription to see my monitor, and to use the bifocal area I have to tilt my head back and look through the bottom of the lens. She understood what I was asking for and had no problem giving me a prescription just for computer glasses.
I’ve been caught off guard with high prices for glasses in the past; they hook you with a coupon, and then by the time all the add-ons and upgrades are added, the $99 glasses suddenly cost $400. Since the computer glasses would just be a once-in-a-great-while thing, I figured I would just order them online from Zenni to save money.
After I paid the bill for my first visit, we got in the car and I looked through the papers the receptionist had handed me. I assumed my prescriptions were part of the paperwork but they weren’t there. We were in the middle of a snowstorm and I really just wanted to get home before the snow got too bad, so I didn’t go back inside to ask for copies of my prescriptions.
At various points all through 2015, I tried to psych myself up to go in (or email) and ask for copies of my prescriptions. And I was too chicken. Even though I know by law they have to provide them if I ask. I just kept making excuses not to do it.
So when my annual eye exam came around at the end of last year, I was determined. I was not leaving there without copies of all of my prescriptions. I did give in and get new bifocal glasses because my prescription had changed and my bifocals from Zenni were just a little too tight. I wanted my new bifocals to be properly fitted and make sure my PD (pupillary distance) was correct. I went in prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on these glasses that I basically just wear for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night (from the bedroom to the bathroom, where I put in and take out my contact lenses).
I was pleasantly surprised, though, when I asked the optician to give me the cheapest pair of bifocals possible. She didn’t even hesitate or argue, and they were less than $150. Yes, the lenses are thick and heavy because I didn’t get the more expensive, thin lenses and my prescription is really high. But it doesn’t matter – they look fine, fit great, and they do the job.
Having just dropped some serious coin (for me, anyway) on these glasses and the exam, I was emboldened and didn’t hesitate to ask for copies of my prescriptions when they weren’t automatically given to me. “Oh, sure!” chirped the optician. She handed me four sheets of paper. What the heck was I so afraid of?!
I came home, measured my PD and went online to shop at Zenni. Since these are glasses I’ll just be wearing around the house, I decided to go a little wild (for me) and get big, oversized frames. (I know they’ve become popular again but I still have bad flashbacks to my huge glasses from the 70s.) I did get thinner lenses because they were a free add-on, although not as thin as they recommended for my horrible vision. The anti-reflection coating and the lenses themselves were free; all I paid for was the frames and they were $9.95. (Well, and $4.95 for shipping.)
Less than two weeks later I had my new glasses, and they are just awesome – exactly what I needed for late-night computing.
I just wish I hadn’t waited a whole year to get the nerve to order them. Here’s to bravery in 2016!
It’s never fun to get a phone call from your bank, asking you to check a transaction because they think it’s fraudulent. It’s also not fun to find out that it was your debit card that was hacked.
We got such a call in mid November. (I had to go back through Quicken to figure out the date, and it was readily apparent because we suddenly started using checks for everything on November 14th.) To make a long story shorter (I won’t say ‘short’ because we all know I’m not capable of a truly short story), someone made an actual physical copy of Dave’s debit card and then used it to spend $145 at a Walgreens about an hour north of us, near Muskegon.
They tried to buy something else at the same store (in a separate transaction) but that one was denied. Luckily we were home when the phone call came in, and Dave confirmed that no, we weren’t up near Muskegon spending the big bucks in Walgreens. They canceled his card before any more damage was done.
I still can’t figure out what triggered the transaction as fraudulent. The card was used in Michigan, where we live. (I could see if it was used in a foreign country or something.) Even the credit union customer service rep couldn’t tell us why it was flagged. But thank God it happened so quickly, because even dealing with one $145 fraudulent transaction was a pain in the ass. Plus, it’s money coming out of your checking account, so it’s a bigger deal than credit card fraud.
We’re basically positive it happened at a gas station. Dave only ever uses his debit card to pay for gas, and when he does, he takes it inside and hands it to the cashier (he never, ever pays at the pump). We got gas on the 11th and by the 14th his card had been duplicated, so there ya go.
We had to go to the police station and file a police report, then go back to the credit union and give the police report number and details, then wait another four days or so to get the money credited back to our account. In the meantime, the police pulled the video from the Walgreens store but didn’t get anything solid from it. Apparently the person was from out of state (I guess they showed ID? I have no idea) so after a month or so, they ended up just closing the case out.
In the meantime though, we decided to stop using our debit cards until they upgrade them to the new chip technology. (I’m still not sure how it all works, but it’s supposed to prevent things like this from happening.) They were supposed to be sent out in January but it’s January 30th with no cards, so I’m thinking maybe February if we’re lucky. Since all of our banking is pretty much done electronically – direct deposit, debit cards or PayPal for transactions – this has been a big adjustment.
I had to dust off the checks that we got last year when we opened the account, of which we’d used just a handful (mostly to pay rent). I actually hesitated to use checks at first because I wasn’t sure if the stores still took them. I remember back in the early days of eBay when nobody would take a check, and we had to get money orders for everything. (I’m talking late ‘90s here, before PayPal became ubiquitous.) Everyone seems to now be suspicious of checks, and I just felt like I’d whip out the checkbook in a store and the cashier would scoff and say, “Checks?! We don’t take those.”
But no, they do. (Most of them; I think Aldi was the only one that didn’t.) It took a few checks to get the hang of things again. For instance, I like to start writing the check out ahead of time so I don’t hold up the line too much. And I had to really focus on hearing the amount, so I could be sure to write it correctly. That was the worst, really. Using a debit card means you don’t even need to listen to the amount; you just hand over the card. It gave me bad flashbacks as I either tried to see the number on the register screen, or tried to read the cashier’s lips as well as listen to their voice when they said the total. I started repeating the total back to them. I also threatened to make Dave write the checks.
The first time I wrote a check was at Wal-Mart, and when the cashier handed the check back to me I almost gave it back to her. The last time I wrote a check in a store (in … the ‘90s, maybe?) they didn’t do that. They kept the check, usually lifting up the register’s cash tray to slide it underneath. I was like, “Hello, you need this, why are you giving it back to me?!” Welcome to 2015, Wendy!
Gas stations, though? We use cash there.
There’s four words that I never said during either of my pregnancies:
“My water just broke.”
However, that’s precisely what happened to my daughter on Monday night. Let me backtrack though, all the way to late November.
Thanksgiving came late again this year, didn’t it? I started decorating for Christmas the weekend before Thanksgiving, although I did wait to put up the tree until Nov. 28. I also started Baby Watch that same week.
Paige’s due date was originally Dec. 15 and then they changed it to Dec. 12. She and Eric both came about 9 days early, and I just had this feeling that Storm would arrive early as well. She was having a really smooth pregnancy, not a lot of morning sickness and no high blood pressure (which was my nemesis). She started having Braxton-Hicks contractions pretty early on, something I remember very well from my own pregnancies.
On Nov. 19, she had an ultrasound and they said Storm was 5 lbs, 9 oz. We figured he still needed some growing time, so I started thinking he’d come closer to his due date (if not after). In the meantime, Paige planned to keep working right up until he was born, if she could. That was another similarity to my pregnancy with her; I ended up working until two days before she was born. (I finished my week at work on Friday, went into labor late Saturday night/early Sunday morning and she was born at 5:37 am on Sunday.)
She had a weekly doctor’s appointment on December 2nd and they told her she was 2 to 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Her hips were starting to really hurt so they stripped her membranes to help things along, and scheduled her for an induction early on December 8th if the baby wasn’t here by that time. She kept going to work and then getting sent home because being on her feet was making her have non-stop contractions. All through the week I was getting messages from her saying that the contractions weren’t stopping and were anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 minutes apart. She even went to the hospital one morning, but they sent her home because she wasn’t dilating.
I started carrying my cell phone everywhere (usually I just leave it lying on my desk) and Dave had already hooked up one of our bedroom lights so that it would blink on and off when the phone rang (hopefully waking us up if she called during the night). I woke up frequently every night to check my phone and see if I’d missed any messages from Paige about being in labor.
When I was pregnant with her, they stripped my membranes on a Tuesday (I was 3 cm, 75% effaced) and she was born on a Sunday. Since her pregnancy with Storm was so similar to my pregnancy with her, I figured she’d have him on a Monday – five days after the procedure, just like me. Still though, she was having so many contractions and false alarms that I really thought it would be sooner, possibly the weekend of Dec. 5-6.
The weekend came and went with no baby, so we started planning for the induction on Tuesday morning. We had a bag packed with all kinds of things to keep us busy for possibly hours, since this was her first baby – Phase 10 (a card game), chargers for my CI batteries and our tablets and phones, money for the vending machines (because we no longer use our debit card after it got hacked – we’re waiting for the chip and pin version to come out). I put together a goodie bag for Paige with lip balm, hair clips and ties, magazines, her favorite candy (and Michael’s too), Goldfish crackers, bath gel for her first post-baby shower, and face wipes. I set the alarm for 4 am so we could be there at 5 am (even though we’re only an hour apart, they’re in an earlier time zone than us).
Monday morning she sent me a message saying her contractions were hurting more, and weren’t going away when she sat down. I had a feeling this was it – it was exactly how my labor with her started. She went to the hospital around 10 am and we didn’t hear anything for a long time; then around 1 or 2 pm she said they sent her home because she wasn’t progressing and was still 3 cm.
We were messaging back and forth, and she was fretting because her cervix was being so stubborn; she was afraid she’d have to have a C-section on Tuesday. I messaged back, “It’s not inconceivable that you could still go into labor tonight.” She said, “True.” That was at 3:15 pm.
Dave and I ate dinner and then settled in for some TV. We were watching The Good Wife when the phone rang. It was Paige.
Dave answered and there was silence on the other end. He hung up and I checked my phone. At 7:40 our time (6:40 her time) she had messaged me: My water just broke
Well, we went crazy. Dave called her back and got her husband, Michael. They were already at the hospital (it’s just a block or two from their house) and he said they were telling her she still might not have the baby until tomorrow morning. The doctor would be in at 5 am to check her; she was still 3 cm.
Dave said he’d call back in 15 or 20 minutes to check on them, hung up and we kind of wandered around aimlessly, not knowing what to do. Do we go to the hospital if they said she wouldn’t have the baby until the next day? Finally 20 minutes had passed, and Dave called back. He got Paige this time.
I was reading the captioning, and he had the volume turned way up so I could kind of hear through the handset as he talked to her. She was very breathless (turns out she was having a contraction at that moment) and said the contractions really hurt. Dave asked if she wanted us to come to the hospital and I could hear her yelling, “YES YES YES YES!” I flew around and had my coat on and everything together in just a few minutes. Hearing my little girl in obvious pain just kind of flipped a switch in me. We had to get on the road STAT.
We made good time and found the hospital pretty easily. We had to be escorted by security onto the labor and delivery floor because it was after hours (around 9 pm their time). When we walked in, I took in the scene: Paige in bed, getting ready to push, with Michael on one side and his mom, Renee, on the other. His sister, Aleigha, was standing back and there were a couple of nurses and a doctor in the room. Right away they said only three people (besides Paige) could be in the room, so Dave and Aleigha left and went to the family waiting room.
Renee said we had perfect timing, and she was not kidding. I couldn’t believe that in a little over an hour from her conversation with Dave, Paige was already at the pushing stage. For her first baby! I thought, seriously, we would be there for 24 hours or more.
She’d been given some pain medication that made her kind of loopy and out of it, so she fell asleep. (She didn’t want an epidural, but I doubt she could’ve gotten one even if she did because things happened so quickly.) She basically slept most of the time that we were driving. When she woke up, apparently, she had the urge to push. And that’s about the time we arrived.
She pushed for maybe 15 minutes. They started breaking down the bed, and things happened really quickly after that. I was kind of standing back from the bed, to keep out of the way, and I decided to move further down … just in time to see my grandson enter this world. It was completely amazing.
When it came time to cut the cord, the doctor asked if anyone wanted to do the honors. Michael shook his head no and I found myself stepping forward, something I never thought I would do. What a special moment!
Storm Dovahkiin Reeves was born at 9:18 pm on December 7, 2015. He weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 20 inches long.
We think he is the most beautiful grandson ever. We’re pretty darn proud of his mama and daddy, and so glad that he came into this world surrounded by people who love him.
Best early Christmas present ever!!
* Credit to my friend Facebook friend Theresa for the title to this blog entry 🙂
This past Saturday was ‘downtown trick or treat’ for the kids in our town. It always strikes me as strange that they don’t do this on the actual day of Halloween, which is also a Saturday. Our city trick or treat hours are a stingy 6 to 7:30 pm (everywhere I’ve lived previously has usually had a minimum of 3 hours for trick or treat, sometimes more if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday). The kids could go downtown in the early afternoon and then regular trick or treat in the evening, you know? But whatever, I don’t plan these things and I’m sure the kids are happy to get candy no matter what the day.
We got exactly ZERO kids here last year on Halloween, which was really a bummer. I know there are little kids on our street (two right next door!) and the houses aren’t terribly far apart. I was sure we’d get at least 5 or 6 kids, maybe more. In light of that, though, I figured maybe we would go downtown on the 24th and watch the kids there, so I could see their costumes and feel like we participated in Halloween at least a little bit.
When the time rolled around though, I was comfy on the couch and not inclined to go out. The more I thought about it, the weirder it seemed. “I don’t know if we’ll go downtown,” I told Dave. “It might look weird since we don’t have kids with us – just a couple old farts, standing around on the sidewalks.” He laughed and agreed, then tried to make me feel better. “We can go with Storm next year, if we’re still in this area.” (Storm is the name Paige and Michael have chosen for their baby boy, due on December 15th.)
(Actually, now I can see a benefit to having trick or treat events a week from the actual holiday. Since they live about an hour away, it would be nice to be able to have them come up for something like this and not have it interrupt their actual Halloween in their hometown.)
I’m not sure we’ll be in a new house at this time next year, although we’d like to be. We’re going to talk to a finance person and see if there’s any options for us. Our lease goes through June, so if it looks like we could swing a purchase of our own home, we’d like to really be looking by very early 2016.
Compared to my previous house, and to what most of my friends and family are used to, we are looking in a VERY low price range. I’m talking a price range that makes my mother nervously suggest that we get an inspection (of course) to make sure that the house has, say, plumbing and electricity and drywall. One reason the prices are low is because we’re looking at little rural towns. We prefer the little towns, but we don’t want to have to drive TOO far to get to a grocery store or whatever.
We’ve started driving out to look at houses Dave finds online; not look inside, mind you, just drive by to check out the town, the neighborhood, that kind of thing. Sometimes all it takes is one look to go “NOPE” and to realize why it’s priced so low. Other times we just marvel at the realtor’s ability to frame the photo so that a house situated in between two that are basically falling down manages to look like it’s alone in the middle of a beautiful orchard.
One house, though. One house kind of has our hearts, even though we haven’t been inside. The photos online show a house that is in desperate need of updating (we’re talking serious wallpaper indignities) but that also has a lot of charm. We drove over to see it from the outside, and it’s on a charming street outside of a town with a name that’s hard to pronounce and even harder to spell. There’s a split rail fence, a large peaceful yard; the house itself looks stately and strong. It was one of those times where you stand there looking at the house and everything just feels right, even though it is obviously a house in need of tender loving care.
But we don’t even know if we can qualify to buy a house yet (this is not a land contract, unfortunately) and we can’t afford both rent and a mortgage through June. It’s possible we could get inside and just cringe; maybe the pictures paint a rosier picture than the actual reality.
It’s still fun to dream, though. Maybe it will still be available in four months. I can picture Storm running through the rooms, playing on a tire swing outside, baking cookies with Nana in the kitchen.
Maybe, maybe, someday. In the meantime, I’m still buying candy for possible trick-or-treaters at our current house. Old habits die hard!
I’ve talked before about my cell phone number being an old one that was recycled from Sprint. It’s a little weird, but not too annoying because most of the calls I was getting for the owner of the old phone had died down.
Yesterday afternoon, I got a text from an unknown number: “Hey what the fucks your problem?”
I had a brief moment of ‘OMG who did I piss off unknowingly?’ … and then I remembered that my phone number used to belong to some guy. I showed the text to Dave, we laughed, and I decided to just ignore it.
A few hours later I checked my phone again (I just leave my phone on my desk and forget about it half the time). There were more texts, so I decided to answer the guy. (I assume it was a guy – I did a search on the phone number and came up with a page that showed a guy, maybe high school or college age – but for all I know someone else could have HIS number by now!) Our conversation went as follows:
(I have to admit, my first instinct was to text back ‘You kiss your mother with that mouth?’ … hehe … but I decided not to play with the kid too much.)
In the midst of our texting, he called my cell phone. I have my cell phone calls all automatically forwarded to our house landline, so he would have heard our voicemail message and realized I was telling the truth. (I have the calls forwarded because 99% of them are either spam or for the person who had the old number; if anyone I really need to talk to happens to call, I can read the captioning on the house phone and understand them, hopefully.)
Things have been quiet ever since. To be honest, I’m not sure what is more offensive … being sworn at or repeatedly being called ma’am! 😉