It’s All Happening

It’s been a weird week.  I think most Minnesotans would agree.  It’s the middle of April and we just got hit with a two-day snowstorm that left over a foot of snow in the Twin Cities area.  Spring has been an elusive slag, with temperatures averaging about 15 degrees below normal.  While I’m sure these meteorological issues aren’t the sole reason for the depression that barreled at me this week, I’m sure it didn’t help matters.

It started with insomnia on Sunday night.  For whatever reason, insomnia is a common side effect with PCOS.  There’s no real evidence that I’ve found to explain why it happens, but insomnia seems to occur frequently with my fellow cysters. For me, there’s no telling how many consecutive nights I’ll be subjected to sleeplessness.  Sometimes, it’s just a night, sometimes it can last up to a week or more.  Unfortunately, this time around, it lasted for a solid 6 days.  Each night, I’d wake up at roughly the same time, and turn on the TV, tossing and turning, hoping the voices would lull me back into a fruitful REM cycle.  Yet each morning, I would get out of bed more delirious than the day before.  By Thursday, I was so exhausted that everything took too much effort.  I went radio silent, refusing to answer text messages or phone calls.  When Lee got home, I told him I was sorry, and that I wasn’t mad at him, but I needed him not to talk to me.  Lee was a trooper, and just let me be.  He sat on the opposite couch all evening being silent, his presence so very appreciated.

By the weekend, I started to recover.  I was finally able to fall asleep and stay asleep Friday night.  I still wasn’t ready to be too social, but I slowly felt like I was becoming myself again.  The blizzard was almost a blessing in disguise, really.  I often spread myself too thin on weekends and I didn’t have the opportunity to do that.  The blizzard almost kind of saved me from myself this weekend.  I was able to lay around, be lazy and really focus on listening to my body and what it needed.  My amazing husband took care of all of the shoveling and laundry, and even made a mid-snowstorm grocery run, so that we’d have snacks on hand for the impending snowpocalypse.  By Sunday, I felt as though I was finally back to my old self.  And just in time:  We have a big week ahead of us.

We didn’t get the good news we were hoping for with Lee’s sperm sample.  We didn’t get bad news, per sé, but it wasn’t the news we were hoping for.  Lee’s sample has not improved.  It’s frustrating for both of us, but especially for him.  I see him trying everything he can think of to improve his health and lifestyle.  He had such a good feeling about this analysis, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t great.  Oh well.  I told him we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.  No reason to derail just yet.

I have another fun procedure on the docket today of which, I’m sure you’ll all be extremely jealous.  Have you ever heard of uterine scoring?  Me neither.  But it’s a procedure that Dr. Corfman suggested.  There isn’t a lot of evidence to support uterine scoring, but he said that theoretically, it makes a lot of sense.  It’s where they go in and actually scrape a small portion of the uterus to help with implantation of the embryos when they are placed in the uterus during in vitro.  I’ve been struggling with whether or not to agree to this procedure for the last month or so.  It’s like I have the proverbial angel and devil sitting on my shoulders.  The doom and gloom version of me wants nothing to do with this procedure.  After all, it seems that I’d be undergoing this procedure based on hypotheticals.  The procedure is only going to work IF we get viable embryos.  Last time none of our embryos ended up being viable, so why would this time be any different?  However, the positive version of me is screaming at the doom and gloom through all of this.  Just because we didn’t have any last time doesn’t mean we won’t this time.  There’s no harm in trying, right?  It’s not that expensive and Dr. Corfman thinks it might help, so shut the fuck up, Doom and Gloom Katherine, and give it a shot.

After that, Lee and I have to sit down to go over our medication plan with the IVF coordinator.  That will take place over the phone, so I will have time to go home after the procedure, change in to comfy pants and make a heating pad my bitch before we dial in.  As of right now, our IVF plan is on track, with the my next retrieval estimated to take place at the beginning of June.  While it’s very surreal that this is all happening again, I anticipate that it will sneak up on us yet again, almost as if out of nowhere.  Spring weather does appear to finally be on the horizon and I’m hopeful that it will bring with it, the desire and motivation I have been lacking this time around.

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Diving In

My attitude’s gotten a little bit better over the course of the last week, if I do say so myself.  Putting our decision to try again out in to the universe made it real.  Now that it’s out there, I’m putting my game face on.  And not a moment too soon.

I had my first blood test last week.  My estrogen and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels came back normal, which is good.  My AMH level came back high, which is what I was hoping for.  AMH, or Anti-Mullerian Hormone, measures a woman’s ovarian reserve.  A normal AMH level ranges from 1.5-4.0.  My AMH level is 9.0.  In layman’s terms; your girl has a lot of eggs left to be harvested.

Women with PCOS often have high AMH levels, which actually bodes well for IVF.  While the AMH level can’t predict how many of my eggs will be considered normal before harvesting, it does generally correlate with the number of eggs that will be retrieved.  And of course, we all now that the more eggs retrieved, the better the chances of harvesting normal eggs.  I’m considering that a win.

It’s important for us to hear these tidbits of good news, because time isn’t exactly on our side right now.  Lee is about 6 months away from turning 42.  Our doctor generally doesn’t use the sperm of men over 42, as it is believed there is a significant jump in children developing autism with older parents.  Our doctor has made exceptions to this rule, but we can’t count on that.

I’m also now on the wrong side of my mid-30s.  As women age, so do their eggs.  Eggs that were once considered perfectly healthy, start to develop abnormalities.  The number of abnormal eggs a woman has in her ovaries jumps to roughly 40-60% around the age of 35.  That number will go up roughly 20% in the next year or two.  The good news, is that with my AMH level being what it is, I’m probably closer to the 40% abnormal number.  But I won’t be for long.

After we received the good news about my blood tests, it was time for my Sonohysterogram.  It’s a rather uncomfortable procedure, so I was thankful that Lee not only drove me to the appointment, but treated me to breakfast afterward.  It’s the least he could do, really.

**Pro – Tip:  When your wife is being subjected to speculums and ultrasounds, do yourself a favor and buy her some pancakes.  It’ll make her considerably less crabby (at you)  when she’s dealing with the aftermath of the procedure.**

We received more good news at the Sono.  My uterus is still “nice & healthy”.  We’ve officially received the green light to proceed with IVF.

Up next is Lee’s semen analysis.  We’ll be waiting (im)patiently for the results.  Lee’s already got a sample on ice, but we’ve told the lab that if Lee’s next sample looks better than the one he currently has frozen, we would like to replace them.  Even though they rarely use the frozen sample for IVF, it will still be nice to have a back up (hopefully better) sample, should an issue arise.  You know, like Lee turning 42.

So that’s where we’re at.  It doesn’t quite feel real yet, but it’s getting there.  I’ve been travelling a lot for work later (which I’ll cover in another post), but I’m hoping that once I’m done with this assignment that I’ll be able to get back home and truly focus on the things that will make me feel good as we head into this time of uncertainty.  Until then, I’m trying to keep my head up and my eye on the prize.

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Cake = PRIZE.

 

Déjà Vu

Well, the day that I have not so secretly been dreading has finally arrived.  The process officially starts again tomorrow.  How am I handling it?  I’m a little fucked up about it.   I’m sure you just read that and thought ‘why on earth would you put yourself through it again?’  Because I’m clearly a goddamn masochist.

Alright, enough negativity.  I’m doing okay.  Not great, but okay.  As I explained to Lee this morning,  I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around going through this again.  No woman in her right mind would choose to go through IVF for the hell of it.  It’s tedious and emotional and exhausting and scary.  Yet, here we are again.

After my tearful confession, Lee asked if I want to do this again.  And after looking into his eyes and seeing the emotion that rarely ever escapes him, and the hint of fear that I might say no, I told him of course.  Of course we’ll do it again.  It’s going to suck, but I’ll manage.  I’ve endured far more painful and emotionally taxing situations than IVF and came out relatively unscathed.  I’m sure this will be no different.

I go in for blood work tomorrow to check my hormone levels.  On Friday, I have to undergo another Sonohysterogram, as the results of those tests expire after 6 months. A sono is a procedure in which fluid is injected into the uterus in order to get a more detailed view than a normal ultrasound would show.  The results of my last sono were great; I had a “beautifully healthy uterus”; a compliment that would sound serial killer creepy from anyone other than a reproductive endocrinologist.

Then, the birth control pills start-up again, which sounds counter-productive, I know.  But, even with some of the healthy lifestyle changes I’ve made over the last year, the timing of my period is still slightly irregular – about every 34 days.  And frankly, they need my body to be on a particular cycle, so I’m just going to go with it.  The actual retrieval and transfer will be sometime in late May or early June, I believe.  We’ll know more once we receive the calendar from MCRH later this week.

For his part, Lee has to give another sperm sample.  He’s currently got one on ice, but it’s a pretty bad sample, so we’ve given MCRH the instruction that if the analysis of this sample comes back better than the previous one, we’d like to do the old switch-a-roo (something that you probably shouldn’t joke about when talking about sperm samples).  We’re hoping for some considerable improvement.  Lee’s coming up on one year smoke free, rarely drinks and has worked on eating cleaner.  Will any of this make a difference?  We have no idea.  But at least we can say we tried.

So that’s where it stands.  I wish I could say I was excited and hopeful, but I’m not. Not yet, anyway.  I’m trying to get there, but that might take a little more time.

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Valentine’s Day

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, which means……

Absolutely nothing.

If you’re one of those people who gets really excited about this holiday and looks forward to spending the day showering your loved ones with chocolate and accolades, that’s wonderful!  Back in the day, in my younger years, I was exactly like you.  As I’ve gotten older (and maybe wiser?) I put much less stock in the Hallmark holiday.  Because if I’ve realized anything over the course of the last few years, it’s this:  Love is hard.

Not always, of course.  When life is going well, it can be so easy to love!  It’s the times of adversity that are the problem.  When life gives you lemons, or worse yet, drops an entire lemon tree on your head, that’s when love can get tough.

Lee and I have been together almost 8 years now.  The first 4 and half (the dating years) were smooth sailing.  The last 3 and a half, well, at times, it’s been a bit of an uphill battle.  I think back to our wedding day, and of the vows we took,  how we both promised to love and support each other in these times of adversity.   It seemed so easy!  Of course I will continue to love you when things get tough!  How could I not?

Well, you know what?  It’s just not that simple.  I wish it were.  As Lee and I have struggled to conceive, I’ve heard from a lot of other couples that were faced with tough times.  Some were able to rebound, and some were not.  Does that mean they loved each other any less than the couples that were able to work it out?  Probably not.  But sometimes the struggles just become too much to bear.

As I’ve struggled to come to terms with some of the cards we’ve been dealt, it’s made it really easy to want to give up.  Not because I don’t love my husband; I’ve never loved anyone or anything as much as I love him (except for maybe my cat, Gladys, but Lee knows this).  It’s just because when times get tough, all I want to do is shut people out.  I’ll dream of running away and disappearing off the face of the earth.  It’s how I’ve always been, and frankly, it’s a hard habit to break.  Depression is a sonuvabitch, man.

Luckily for me, this is where Lee’s stubbornness comes in to play.  He refuses to give up on me.  He refuses to allow me the easy way out.  He thinks I’m perfect.  Well, maybe not perfect, but he appreciates my imperfections, because to him, I’m his perfect person.  And he’s most definitely mine.  And knowing that he sees so much good in me has allowed me to see some of it in myself.

We’ll spend our Valentine’s Day doing absolutely nothing special.  We’ll go to the gym, probably grab something quick and easy for dinner on the way home and be in our pajamas by 7.  But the fact that I’m spending another day with my one and only (my lobster, if you will), well, that is pretty fucking special.

So Happy Valentine’s Day to all those celebrating today.  Tell your loved ones how much you love them, not just today, but everyday.  And make sure to take some time to do something nice for yourself.  Take some sage advice from the illustrious Ru Paul, because:

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New Year, New Decisions

We’re 5 weeks in to 2018, and while I don’t make resolutions, per se, I do believe in assessing areas of “opportunity” within my life.  What am I doing well?  What can I be doing better?  How can my life improve?

I’ve had some time to reflect over the last few weeks and determine how I want my 2018 to look.  And while the majority of my resolve is focused on my career and my health, we do have a gigantic elephant in the room that needs to be dealt with.  Lee and I need to figure out what our course of action will be if we want to try, yet again, to start a family.

I’ll be honest; I’ve had a lot of doubts.  Until you’ve been though infertility, you have no idea how draining it is.  Do I really want to go though that again?  4 years of trying, 4 failed IUIs and now a failed IVF cycle.  Am I a masochist?  Not only that, our Europe trip also made me realize how much I love the freedom of being able to travel.  Lee and I currently have the resources to travel to Europe every year if we want. I love that freedom.  And I’m not quite sure I’m ready to say goodbye to that lifestyle yet.

I’m also concerned about Lee.  On our first IVF attempt, I was convinced that I was the problem.  I busted my ass to get in shape and become the happiest and healthiest version of myself.  I did it because I wanted to make sure that if our IVF attempt failed, that I would have no regrets.  And I didn’t.  But after all was said and done, we found out that I wasn’t the problem.  Will Lee be able to put forth as much effort as I did?

And finally, it’s going to take a lot to get back into the mindset of trying IVF again.  The hormones, the shots, the procedures; they’re physically and emotionally taxing.  And life is so boring during the process.  We’re bound to our schedule.  Sure, we can make plans, but we need to be home at the same time every night to take a shot.  And we can’t even think about making weekend plans, because chances are, we’re going to have at least one ultrasound.  Am I ready to upend my life again?

All of these items were up for discussion when Lee and I sat down to talk about the new year.  After some back and forth regarding our (read: my) reservations, we came to a decision.  Lee and I are going to try again.

The plan for now, is to try again in May.  That should give us a few months to work on our meal and fitness routines and should (hopefully) give me enough time to wrap my head around the particulars of another cycle.

It’s not going to be easy, in fact, this time around I anticipate it will be much harder.  The stakes seem higher, somehow, and I’m not sure why.  They just do.  But I find solace in the fact that I’ve got a small but powerful support system next to me cheering me on the whole way.

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Christmas in Europe Part 3: The Weihnachtmarkts

We left London on Sunday evening to head to Reading, where our friends Charlie & Gareth live.  We were leaving for Germany on Tuesday evening which gave us a day and a half to relax and do nothing.  Except that Gareth had a little surprise for us.  He was already on Christmas Break and as such, was taking us to Winchester to check out their Christmas market.  He’d never been and he’d heard it was one of the best in the state.  Lee and I had never been to Winchester, so it seemed like a no-brainer to check it out.

Winchester was absolutely beautiful.  And old.  You see, Winchester has been an inhabited town since about 150 BC and was the capital of England during the reign of King Alfred (871-899 AD), so yeah.  It’s ancient.  We stayed mainly in the city center, which contained a beautiful cathedral and tons of shops.

 

 

Winchester’s Christmas market was nice enough, but Gareth was adamant that it didn’t compare to what were going to experience in Cologne.  I was glad to hear this, because so far, I hadn’t been all that impressed.  Every market we had been to in England was nice, but not overwhelmingly exciting.

Tuesday we packed our bags, headed back to Heathrow and made our way to Düsseldorf.  The plan was to spend a night in Dusseldorf and then make our way to Cologne on Wednesday.  When we got to Dusseldorf, we quickly checked into our hotel and made our way to the “altstadt”, or old town, to check out our first real Christmas market.  Unfortunately,  by the time we made it to the city center, they were closing up for the night.  We walked around a bit to figure out which markets to hit up the next day before heading to the hotel for the night.

 

 

After a somewhat slow start that morning (too much Prosecco and cribbage the night before) we made our way back to the altstadt and Lee and I finally got to experience our first authentic Weihnachtmarkt.

Oh.  My.  God, you guys.  If you ever have the opportunity to go to Germany during the Christmas season, DO IT.  Everything, from the atmosphere, to the drinks to the food, is beyond amazing.  I got to try my very first glühwein, which is a hot mulled wine, available in both red and white varieties, and Lee got his fill of hot chocolate with both Bailey’s and amaretto.file1-2

We spent about half the day walking through Düsseldorf before making our way to the train station to head to Cologne.  Lee and I were pretty jazzed about the markets we had experienced in Düsseldorf, however, Charlie & Gareth continued to assured once again, that they didn’t hold a torch to Cologne.

They weren’t lying.  As our train slid into the Cologne train station, we saw a beautifully gothic, almost foreboding cathedral in the distance.  It was absolutely breathtaking.  We  made our way to the hotel, dropped our things and went to explore the city.

As luck would have it, there was a Christmas market about 50 feet from the hotel entrance, so we didn’t have to go far to find some Christmas cheer.  I was parched after a 45 minute train ride, so our first stop was at the market bar so we could get another glass of that delicious mulled wine.  Once we’d had a look around we proceeded to the next market.

One of the great things about the Cologne Christmas markets is their proximity to each other.  You don’t typically have to walk more than 5-10 minutes before finding another one.  Cologne had a total of 9 markets set up when we were there, and I believe we made it to 8.

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Our evening was spent trying a bunch of new and exciting foods and drinking a lot of mulled wine and beer.  The markets close around 10, which meant that everyone made their way to the nearest bars to keep the festivities going.  We had a couple more drinks before making our way back to the hotel.  (We had a VERY spirited game of Cribbage that needed finishing)  A couple more glasses of wine and beer later, Gareth and I were still losing at Cribbage but less inclined to care.

Thursday morning, Gareth & Charlie walked us down to the Cologne lock bridge.  Like it’s Paris counterpart, the lock bridge is a place where couples place a lock with their names and anniversary date on the bridge.  The couple breaks the key off in the lock before making a wish and throwing the key into the Rhine.  Charlie and Gareth immortalized their wedding date on their last trip to Cologne and it didn’t take much convincing for Lee and I to decide to immortalize ours as well.  We even found a spot right next to Charlie and Gareth’s lock so we’ll always have a place next to each other.  Best friends for life!

 

The rest of the day was spent hitting up Christmas Market after Christmas market and stopping for glühwein whenever we got cold.  Charlie and Gareth made reservations for us at their favorite Cologne restaurant that evening, an Alpine-themed restaurant complete with servers donning lederhosen and boots of beers.  I chose to try Wienerschnitzel that evening and made lots of Tenacious D references to people eating my fucking schnitzel that apparently only I found funny.  Whatever.  I stand by my jokes.

Friday morning we visited the markets one last time, in order to buy all of the items we had been scoping out since we arrived before making our way back to the train station.  It was a bittersweet day, as reality sunk in that we would be heading back to the US the next day.  Our Christmas vacation was nearly over and we would have to return to the real world again.  A return to the real world meant in-depth conversations and tough decisions were going to be headed our way.  We promised each other that this wouldn’t be the last time we came to Europe to experience Christmas.  If anything, this was just the beginning.

 

Christmas in Europe Part Two: London Calling

After our initial travel debacle, the rest of the journey to London was uneventful.  It was a non-stop overnight flight, which meant attempting to sleep on an airplane.  We arrived in London at about noon on Thursday, December 14th.  While it wasn’t exactly warm, there was about a 30 degree difference between Minneapolis and London which felt quite nice.  We hopped on the Heathrow Express  to London and made our way toward our hotel in the Lambeth area of London.

Now, I work for a hotel, which is not without it perks.  That’s part of the reason why it’s so affordable for my husband and I to travel (especially internationally).  When we checked in to the hotel, the guest service rep casually mentioned that he had upgraded our room, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the amazing upgrade we received.

 

They upgraded us to a one-bedroom suite facing the Thames with a beautiful view of Westminster Abbey.  Had it been warmer than 40 degrees while we were there, I would have spent morning, noon and night out on the balcony admiring the scenery.

Lee and I learned long ago, that even though the jet lag can be absolutely miserable when you first get there, it’s best to power through and get on London time so that it doesn’t ruin the start of your trip.  With that idea in mind, we quickly got situated, showered and then went on our way taking in the sights.  We walked along south bank, past the London Eye toward the south bank Christmas market.  One of the things that surprised us was the amount of outdoor seating available in December.  Every restaurant along Gabriel’s Wharf had outdoor dining available, equipped with heaters and blankets.  And people were actually sitting outside!  We’re made of strong stuff in Minnesota, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to eat dinner outside at 40 degrees.

We popped in for dinner at a little pizza place and relaxed for a bit before making our way back toward the hotel.  There’s a little boat located right outside the hotel that’s actually a bar, so we stopped in for a nightcap, before heading in for the night.

We managed to make it all the way to about 8 p.m. before we called it a day.  Not bad considering I got maybe an hour or sleep on the plane.  We hopped in bed with no real plans for the next day.  We’d wait to see where the day took us.

I woke up the next morning determined to accomplish what I had only recently realized was a dream of mine.  I was going to go for a morning run along the Thames.  Of course, (because it’s London), it was raining.  It rained every morning when I would get up to run, which meant I was relegated to the hotel fitness center.  Oh well.  Next time.

Another one of the perks of staying at my hotel properties is the complimentary breakfast each morning.  Each day, we received a full English Breakfast as well as anything we wanted to help ourselves to from the continental buffet.  The continental breakfast was more than plenty on its own!  Smoked meats and cheeses,  a variety of breakfast breads, fresh fruit, smoothies, porridge and of course a plethora of juices, teas and coffees.  After a quick breakfast, we were on our way.

We got a lot of walking in that first day!  From the hotel, we walked to Westminster Abbey, up to Trafalgar Square, then down through St. James Park, Green Park, to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland and then over to Harrod’s to do a little Christmas shopping.  I’ve put together this beautiful little map to show you our travels.

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After Harrod’s we stopped for a quick bite before heading back to the hotel.  We had very important business to attend to!  Our friends Charlie & Gareth were meeting us at the hotel, and would be spending the weekend in London with us.  Once we were reunited, we went and had an amazing Turkish meal at a terrible Turkish restaurant.  (Yes, you read that right; amazing food, shitshow of a restaurant).  We called it a relatively early night that night, as we had a big day ahead of us the next day.

Saturday we met for breakfast and then headed out to do some more shopping,  I only had a few things on the agenda for Saturday, but I was really excited about them!  I got tickets to Skygarden, which I was unable to get on our last visit.  Located on the 36th floor of a building nicknamed the Walkie Talkie, Sky Garden is exactly that:  A garden in the sky.  It had started to rain rather heavily at this point, so there wasn’t an option to enjoy the rooftop deck, but I would imagine, the views are even more breathtaking when you can enjoy them outside.

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That evening, we had tickets to a pop-up movie.  Each year, a company called Backyard Cinema hosts a pop-up movie theater in the middle of a Christmas Carnival.  I managed to find out about it through a Buzzfeed article and snagged tickets to see Love Actually as soon as they went on sale.

The video I saw on their website was cool and all, but it really didn’t do the experience justice.  We rolled up to the carnival and made our way to the movie theatre where we queued to get in.  We walked through a wardrobe stuffed with coats a la The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, walked down a magically lit path into a heated tent complete with a full bar and blankets at each seat.  It was such a wonderful experience; one that I definitely hope to do again!

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Sunday was a little more laid back as we had to leave London, but I can unequivocally state that we already can’t wait to go back.  Each time I visit, it gets that much harder to leave.  As much as I love the great state of Minnesota, if a job ever opened up for me over in England, I wouldn’t even hesitate.  That job would be mine.

We had a day and a half to relax with our friends before we were on to our next adventure:  the Christmas markets in Germany.  Neither of us had ever been, and neither one of us was quite prepared for the experience.

Christmas in Europe Part One: The Departure

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I had the best of intentions when it came to writing a blog post or two during our European vacation, but alas, I failed miserably.  The fact is, I was too excited to get each and every day started, didn’t make it back to the hotel until late and oftentimes I wasn’t exactly sober.  All in all, I’d say our Christmas vacation was a success, which is great, because it didn’t necessarily start out that way.

I have a habit of getting to the airport early, in order to avoid any issues or surprises that may pop up.  We started for the airport at about 5 p.m., anticipating that we would hit some nasty pockets during rush hour as we made our way to the airport halfway across town.  Traffic was surprisingly mild, however, and we ended up making it to the airport with about 4 hours to spare before our flight.  We got checked in and made our way to the security checkpoint, expecting to stand around for half an hour, as there never seems to be enough security lanes open when we fly.  Again, we made it up to security and through almost instantly.  What luck, right?  Well, that’s where our luck took a bit of a shit.

We’re on the other side of the security checkpoint gathering our things, when Lee realizes he doesn’t have his ticket or his passport anymore.  I immediately became super agitated, and here’s why:

  1.  I have very little patience
  2. Lee has a habit of forgetting things at an airport.

We’ve lost a phone and wallet(which were recovered), a camera, a computer (which was recovered) and most recently (as in, on this trip), an umbrella.  Granted, I myself am incredibly absent-minded in the mornings when I’m leaving for work, and if it weren’t for Lee going through a checklist with me every morning, I’d probably forget something everyday.  But if I forget my wallet, that just means I don’t eat lunch that day.  It doesn’t mean I’m in jeopardy of not being able to leave the country.  So, I become agitated, because I’m annoyed that this is happening again, but also, because if he can’t find his passport, neither of us are going on this trip.  I would never dream of leaving without him, but I also don’t want to be put in a situation where I have to make that decision.

We tear apart his carry-on, rifle through all of his pockets; it’s nowhere to be found.  We go through the stack of empty bins to make sure it hasn’t been left in one by mistake.  It’s not there.  At this point, we decide to get security involved.  Lee pulls a TSA employee aside and explains that he thinks he may have left his passport on the other side.  Lee can’t go and check himself of course, as he would have to way to get back through security, so he relies on the kindness of a stranger.  The stranger peeks his head over the partition, glances quickly, states that the passport is not there, and walks away.  Awesome.  Thanks, Brah.

Lee tries with another TSA agent who tells him to check the security desk.  It’s not there either.  We try to get another agent or two to give a shit about the fact that our trip is ruined if this doesn’t get sorted, before I finally decide to exit and re-enter the airport so I can scour the area myself.  I run through the terminal, to the exit, down the stairs and then up the escalator to the security area.  I approach an agent on that side of the wall and explain the situation.  She tells me that she hasn’t seen it, but she knows there’s another employee looking for it.  Finally!  Someone cares.

I wait in line for my turn to go through security, because of course, now it’s gotten a bit busier.  As I’m taking off my shoes to place them in the bin, I see Lee out of the corner of my eye, waving wildly.  He gives me a thumbs up, and I immediately relax a little.  I’m still really anxious about the whole ordeal, but at least we know that we can get on the plane.

I make my way through security again, only to be pulled aside this time for a good old-fashioned frisking.  Because, of course.

Lee ended up determining that in a very odd and (I’m assuming) incredibly rare, twist of fate, Lee’s passport and ticket managed to fall out of the bin as it was traveling down the belt, and fell in between the slats of the belt.  Lee was finally able to get an employee to look underneath the conveyor belt, and voila.  That’s where it was.

After a very stressful and anxious half-hour, we made our way to the Delta club lounge, where I made it my mission to drink enough vodka to forget the whole debacle even happened.  I didn’t exactly accomplish my mission, but after 4 vodka sodas I definitely cared a little bit less.

I chose to look at our security fiasco as a mere blip in what would be an otherwise perfect trip.  Everything, from that point on, would be exactly as we had imagined it would be, if not better.

And luckily, I was right.

 

 

Stylin’ & Profilin’….

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….that’s how my dad would refer to himself when he thought he looked good.  And we heard it a lot.  Because dad always looked good.

Today marks the anniversary of his passing.  It’s been 6 years, and while each anniversary gets a little bit easier, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a spot in my heart that will always be just a little bit damaged from losing the first man I ever loved.  We didn’t have a perfect relationship, and it wasn’t always easy, but if I’ve learned anything in the time since he’s been gone, it’s that our relationship was always worthwhile.

After my dad passed away, my best friend, my sister and I were to clear out some of his things.  We found 4 pages of songs that he wanted played at his funeral.  If he would have had it his way, we probably would have had a music festival in his honor.  Well, we didn’t have that kind of time or that much money.  We did manage to find a slightly more cost-effective way to honor his memory; we took songs from that list as well as songs chosen by me, my sister and his best friend and created a compilation CD.  We then handed one out to each person in attendance at his memorial service.  It may not have been all of the songs he chose, but he hasn’t chosen to haunt me or my sister for our song choices or lack of a music festival, so I’m gonna go ahead and take that as Dad’s stamp of approval.

Both my parents loved music, so my sister and I grew up in a household where at least one stereo was playing at all times.  In fact our downstairs stereo was Dad’s piece de resistance.  He’d proudly show off his Klipsch stereo system anytime he had guests over.  There were many a night where my sister and I would be jarred awake from a deep sleep because our dad had to show his friends how great his speakers sounded at close to full blast.  Mom would tell him to keep it down and he’d promptly ignore her.  You see, my mom and dad both loved music but went about it quite differently.  Mom had her favorites that she would listen to on a regular rotation.  She’d listen to it, appreciate it and then file it away before it got annoying.  Not my dad.  He had a way of playing songs so frequently (overplayed was not a word in his vocabulary) that you would get to a point where you would rather to stab your eardrums than hear that fucking Crash Test Dummies song one more time.

But for him, it wasn’t just about the lyrics, or even the melody.  It was about the layers and the composition.  His dream had always been to be a sound engineer and while it was a dream that was never fully realized, he had a way of making sure he shared his love and knowledge with us.  Any time we got a new car, it wasn’t ready to drive until Dad had tuned the stereo.  And if you fucked with any of the dials, he would know the next time he got into that car.  The guy had an ear unlike anyone I’ve ever known.  While I’d like to think that some of this may have rubbed off on me.  Those nearest and dearest to me know that I can pick up a baseline in the middle of crowded bar and tell you what song is playing, no matter how much background noise is going on around me.  It’s a super power, really;  one of many fine qualities that I inherited from my dad.

I put together a Spotify playlist to honor my Dad and am adding to it, as I hear things that remind me of him.  It’s a playlist that my sister and I listen to whenever we need to feel his presence; because we know that’s how he lives on through each of us.  I’ve chosen to share it with you today and I invite any of you who knew our dad to share a song that reminds you of him.  We’ll make sure to add it to the rotation!

Stylin’ & Profilin’ – Songs for Dad

My sister and I will spend this anniversary together, as that has become our yearly practice.  We’ll make a Dad inspired meal, listen to Dad inspired music and share stories.  And while we might not choose to toast him with his drink of choice (because Bacardi Cokes are disgusting), I’m sure we’ll find a suitable substitution.

So cheers to you, Dad.  I can’t wait to see you again.

 

The 30-Day Challenge

In my post last week, I mentioned that I would be starting a 30-Day PCOS challenge.  Well, it started yesterday and I’m pretty freaking excited!

I found this group on Pinterest as I was looking for PCOS friendly recipes.  The group leader was touting a lifestyle challenge that teaches people with PCOS how to eat in order to reduce symptoms.  After reading through the Facebook group, I found that the majority of the women who went through the lifestyle changes found a huge improvement in their overall health.  People that have had a hard time losing weight were finally finding success, and others who hadn’t had regular period in years were now ovulating regularly.  Their excruciating cramps, mood swings and fatigue are all a thing of the past.  The reviews abated my skepticism enough that I decided to give it a try.  After all, the challenge is free, so I literally have nothing to lose.

When you really think about it, it makes so much sense that the symptoms associated with PCOS can improve or worsen based on the way you nourish your body.  It’s no secret that heavily processed foods contain artificial ingredients.  Artificial ingredients  don’t provide substance and they can be engineered to create a sort of addiction to that food.  This results in people overeating and leads to obesity.  Eating fresh and organic is obviously the way to go, but try telling that to yourself when you’re hungover and craving the neon orange deliciousness that is Kraft Mac & Cheese, am I right?

One of the biggest hurdles for me during this challenge will be re-training myself to make food ahead of time.  I’ve started to get a little bit better at pre-packing lunches and making snacks to bring with me to work, but my problem is that I’m picky and get tired of food easily.  And I don’t particularly like pre-cooked or reheated meat.  I’m basically Gordon Ramsay in every episode of Kitchen Nightmares.  You give me a dish with something that’s been pre-cooked or reheated, I will come up with some cleverly vulgar way to tell you that it’s terrible.  So what does that leave me?  Probably tons, but for being someone who loves to cook, I’m not that creative.

Do you have any go-to recipes that you take with you to work each week?  If so, I’d love to hear about them.  Ideally, they would be dairy, gluten/grain and sugar-free or can be modified to remove those ingredients.  All recipes welcome!

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