22-Week Update

I’ve had the best of intentions with continuing my writing, but it seems like time is going by so fast.  So much of my time is now devoted to preparing for this baby; from preparing the nursery to researching day care centers, and every item that the baby may or may not need, to starting a baby registry.  It’s incredibly time-consuming, but oh so fun.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a planner, so all the research that goes into preparing for a baby is basically a dream come true.

Baby Girl Gilbertson is doing well.  We had our 20-week ultrasound a few weeks ago and our little ninja is continuing to impress with her ability to break dance in utero.  45 minutes into the ultrasound last week, our sonographer, exhausted by the number of images she still had yet to capture, finally looked at Lee and I and said “you’re going to have your hands full with this one.”  As of right now, we’re assuming she has all 10 fingers and toes?  It was incredibly hard to tell with all the fist pumping and karate kicks going on during our ultrasound.

Can I feel all these kicks?  Hell yeah!  It’s a pretty amazing feeling.  Lee got to feel her kick for the first time last week, so I’m guessing it’s starting to get real for him too.

How am I doing?  Pretty fantastic.  I spent the entire first trimester in an exhausted haze, so the energy burst I’ve experienced in the second trimester has been a welcome change.  Watching my belly grow has been a pretty amazing sight as well.  I’m being very cognizant about the amount of weight I put on, particularly because having PCOS makes me extra susceptible to gestational diabetes.  I was tested at 10 weeks (it was negative) and will have to be tested again (most likely at my next OB appointment).

And if life couldn’t get any sweeter, we’re heading on our babymoon on Wednesday!  10 days traveling around London, Amsterdam and Belgium.

Yes, things are going pretty well with the Gilbertson clan right now and we couldn’t be happier.  Only 18 more weeks until we meet our little miracle!

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Back from Sabbatical

I’ve been MIA for roughly three months now, for which I am deeply sorry to those of you who follow my blog.  But, I’ve been silent for good reason.  I’ve been hiding a monumental secret.

Baby Kira

Our second round of IVF worked!  I’m currently 16 weeks pregnant with an incredibly resilient baby girl.

It doesn’t feel quite real yet.  Even as I’m watching my body change to make room for baby, I can’t believe I’m pregnant.  I’ve seen her move like a maniac on an ultrasound and heard the sound of her beautifully strong heartbeat, but it still seems so surreal.  I’m not sure when it will truly register.  Will it be the first time I can feel her kick?  Or perhaps it won’t fully sink in until she’s in my arms?  I guess time will tell.  When you spend so many years hoping for something only to be consistently disappointed, it makes it a little hard to believe when that almost forgotten dream becomes a reality.

But now, let me get something straight.  That doesn’t mean I’m not over the moon with excitement.  And I’m already completely in awe of her.  She’s an absolute miracle.  And yes, I know all children, in general, are a miracle, but she’s managed to take it up a notch.  Between two IVF cycles, we had 25 embryos.  Out of all 25 embryos, she’s the only one that survived.  That in and of itself, is pretty amazing.

I’m excited to be back in the blogosphere and sharing our story; just because I’ve been silent doesn’t mean I’ve run out of things to say.  Thank you to all of you who have followed our story, shared in our heartbreak and celebrated our victories.  The story isn’t over; in fact, it’s just starting to get good.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is always a funny day for those of us that struggle with infertility.  If you dare to go on any form of social media, you will no doubt see pictures of mothers with their children and sappy, albeit beautifully written posts from sons and daughters touting the super women they are lucky enough to call mom.  And while you’re so incredibly happy for the outpouring of love that every mother is receiving, there’s still a part of your heart that breaks if you’re not a mom but want to be.

So you know what?  I might not be the mother of another human, but I’m most definitely the mother of three amazing animals.  This is my mother’s day tribute to them.

Omar

Omar is an 11 year-old Rat Terrier.  I got Omar when he was just an adorable little 6-week old puppy; practically small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

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Omar is an incredibly well-behaved little dude.  He never wants to be too far away from Mom and Dad and prefers when both Lee and I are home together.  If one of us is missing from the homestead, it’s safe to say that Omar will be laying in our bedroom, completely morose until we return.

Omar believes that he should be the center of our universe.  He doesn’t appreciate when we pay too much attention to the cats, and he especially doesn’t like it when Lee and I pay too much attention to each other.  In his mind, his spot on the couch, in bed, and in life should always be right between us.

Omar loves car rides, human food, wearing clothes, and an early bedtime.  Yet, for as excited as he gets to go to bed at a decent hour, he still has so much life and playfulness in him.  He especially loves to put on a show whenever we have friends over.  He parades around with his squeaky toys, daring our guests to play tug of war.  He’ll drop the toy at their feet, almost as if he’s offering a welcome present, only to snatch it back up and growl playfully as they try to wrench it from his mouth.

Omar has forever spoiled me as a dog mom.  The love that he puts forth is so pure, so unconditional.  I’m most definitely a better person for having been his mom.

 

Gladys

I refer to Gladys as my “angel princess”.  Named after my paternal grandmother because of her beautiful green eyes, Gladys is extremely cuddly and affectionate girl.  She expects pets and head scratches first thing when you walk in the door, and she expects a lot of them.  So much so, that if you even think about walking away from the pets before she’s had enough, you can expect that she will try to hook your hand with her paw to get your attention.  Don’t be surprised if she also tries to bite you to get her point across.  The good news, however, is that half of her teeth were removed last year due to a mouth infection, so when she bites, you won’t feel a thing.  If she really wants to get her point across, she’ll just climb right on top of you and make herself comfortable.

Gladys enjoys pets, rubber bands, playing with her mouse toys, waking us up with meows in the middle of the night to let us know she’s playing with her mouse toys, dry food and me.  She will accept affection from her father, but she’s a mama’s girl through and through.  Gladys’ dislikes include playing with our other cat, Roger, and when any of the neighbor cats walk through our yard.  Gladys spends many nights sleeping on my pillow, right above my head as if she’s my very own cat hat.

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I’ve said before, in this blog and in daily conversation, but I’ll say it again:  Gladys might very well be the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  Gladys greets me at the door every day when I get home from work, ready for affection.  Whenever I’m having a bad day, Gladys is there to make me feel better with cuddles and nuzzles.  Cats can often be such finicky creatures, but I really hit the jackpot with this one.

Roger

How do I explain Roger?  He’s just a super chill little dude.  Actually, he’s not all that little.  The fact that he helps himself to Omar’s food and attempts to steal food from Lee and I has given him a little bit of a pooch.  He’s not fat per sé, but the vet has advised not to let him gain any more weight.

Roger came to us when he was 8 weeks old.  He and Gladys took to each other initially, because he was an adorable helpless little kitten who needed a mom.  However, he soon grew out of his cuddly phase and has been rocking the tormenting little brother phase for the last 5 and a half years.

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Roger lives for food and naps.  He also enjoys making space for himself in places where he doesn’t quite fit.  He’s the most malleable cat I’ve ever met.  You can pick him up, move him around, make him dance, whatever.  He’s never bothered.  And while he’s just as affectionate as Gladys, he’s not nearly as needy.  Mostly he just wants a comfortable place to take one of his 500 daily naps.

He’s a creature of habit, following us to bed every night and staying with us straight through until morning.  He takes turns sleeping between my legs and Lee’s but he’s definitely a “bros before hos” kind of cat.  Most nights, Roger can be found “bro-ing” out with his dad and watching TV.

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As I write this blog post, my heart is filled with such pride.  While I hope our family isn’t done growing, I do have to say we are a pretty amazing little family of  5.  These 3 (and Lee) are my absolute world.  I’m so thankful to be their mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you amazing women out there.  Whether you’re a Grandma, Mom, Mother-in-Law, Mother-to-Be, Cat Mom, Dog Mom, Aunt, Sister, or just one hell of a woman, you deserve to be celebrated for all you bring to the table.

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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.

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.

 

Dad’s 60th Birthday

Today would have been my dad’s 60th birthday.  If heaven exists and marijuana is legal, I have no doubt that he’s celebrating by talking music and sharing a joint with one of his favorite artists and one of heaven’s newest arrivals, Tom Petty.

When I found out that Tom Petty had been removed from life support on Monday, I was an inconsolable mess.  Yes, I’m sure some of that pain can be attributed to our IVF failure, but a large part was due to my love for Tom Petty.  I grew up on his music. My dad was the kind of person that would play a record to death so I’ve probably heard “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” more times than anyone else in this world, save for The Heartbreakers.  And yet, despite the repetition, I’ve never tired of Tom Petty, as a solo artist, part of the Heartbreakers or part of the Travelling Wilburys.  Since my dad passed away in 2011, I’ve made sure to see Tom Petty in concert every time he’s come to the Twin Cities area.  It’s always an emotional experience for me-seeing him live brings me a step closer to my dad, if only for a few hours.  I won’t ever get to experience that again.  Losing Tom Petty felt like losing a little piece of my dad all over again.

Even though my dad has been gone for almost 6 years, it doesn’t seem to get easier.  Every milestone that he misses, every success, every failure, brings his loss back to the forefront of my mind.

My dad would have wanted to be so involved in our fertility journey, probably to the point where I would have to tell him to reign it in a little.  When he got sick, his mobility became limited.  Being a homebody and having so much time on his hands made him an internet search guru.  I don’t doubt that he would have become an expert at infertility.  My sister and I like to imagine what it would be like, and our conversations normally end in a fit of laughter.  There’s just something about envisioning our dad asking about endometrial lining that proves to be a little too much for us.  But yet, despite how embarrassing and personal his questions would seem, we know that they would be asked with the best of intentions.  He would want this baby so desperately for us, that I know he would do whatever was in his power to help us be successful.

When my dad went to his doctor’s appointments, they always asked him what it was he was living for, what he was working toward.  His response never wavered:  his goal was to walk his daughters down the aisle and to be able to hold his grandbabies.  He didn’t live to accomplish either and that makes me really fucking sad.

That’s not to say that he didn’t try.  He fought a good fight, but lung disease is a sonofabitch.  While I’m still so very sad that he’s gone, I’m happy to know he’s longer suffering.

Today will be a day of reflection, thinking about my dad and finding ways to celebrate him.  His copy of Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits is already loaded up in my car.  My sister and I will have a cocktail this afternoon in his honor.  We’ve tried this before with his drink of choice, but it turns out that Bacardi is terrible, so I imagine we’ll have to make an exception there.  And finally, I plan to eat some cake.  After all, what birthday celebration is truly complete without cake?

Happy Birthday, Dad.  This world just isn’t the same without you.

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