Monday, December 15, 2008

No Birthday Here

Here is the weather outlook for today and the coming week:
Don't you wish you lived here? Man! It's cold. How did the early settlers and Indians survive in this weather? For that matter, how do livestock and wild animals survive? It is bitterly cold. It is so cold that they are saying exposed skin could be frostbitten in 5 minutes today! Brrrrrrr.

We had a fairly good weekend. I baked a bunch of cookies on Friday; gingersnaps and peanut butter blossoms. I also made a batch of mint brownies. I wanted to take a plate to Bob's family Christmas get together and also have some to give to friends. I had a bit of a cookie emergency though when I realized I could not find our cookie cutters. I have no idea where they are. Thankfully my friend Laurie came to the rescue and loaned me a few of hers. I was also able to pick up a couple of new cutters at the grocery store. Turns out it wasn't as much of an emergency as one would think since I didn't get to the cut out cookies at all.

Saturday Bob and I were going to volunteer with our church's service project. However Bob was feeling so bad. He was in more pain than I've seen him in a long time. So he stayed home and rested while I went to the project. It was awesome. We were helping the Plymouth Christian Youth Center. They were hosting their annual childrens shopping event. Each child bought a ticket for $1 and can then come and shop tables of brand new items for up to 5 members of their family. It was awesome and the kids learn the joy of giving to others. They were so excited to pick out presents for their siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Each kid was also given a stuffed animal and a candy cane. There was live music and lots of fun for all.

Saturday evening we were supposed to go to Bob's family Christmas shin dig but Bob was still feeling crappy so we opted to stay home. When he pushes himself at times like that, it takes days for him to recover. So, no in-law family Christmas for us this year. Poor Bob. He was bummed but somewhat relieved because of all the pain he was in. I could tell he had been trying to get ready to go but when he decided he couldn't, it actually seemed to take some of the pressure to perform away and he seemed a little better. So we spent the rest of the day at home just chilling. I made chili, we ate cookies, and I uploaded pictures from the service event.

Sunday was my birthday but it was the birthday I did not celebrate. We went to church (which was awesome!) and even made it to the early service. Afterwards we were interviewed by 2 people who would like us to lead a ministry/meal group in our area of the Metro. That seemed to go well though both Bob and I admitted that we can't begin to know when to shut up. On the way to church, it was raining hard and we were wary of driving but with temps in the 40's, it wasn't bad...yet.

After church we came home and had lunch while we waited for the Lifeline lady to come and install the Lifeline system for Bob. Once she came, it took her all of 10 minutes to install and test the system and then she left. I feel so much better now that Bob has this. He wears a medallion around his neck with a bottom he can press if he falls or hurts himself and I'm not here. The signal is sent to our hospital and they ask him if he is hurt. If he is, they will send an ambulance and then call me and let me know what's going on. If he isn't, they just consider it a test. This takes such a burden off of me now.

Later on Sunday, I left to go to our church baptism service. I was asked to take pictures and gladly agreed. I got there early and set up but ended up moving when the dunking actually started because I was facing the wrong way. After the service was a potluck like I'd never seen. Lots of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, yams, honey ham, and a chicken curry dish that made me think I'd died and gone to heaven. So good!

After the service I came home and Bob and I had birthday cake; pink frosted angel food cake with sprinkles. Yum. Then we just chilled out, kept warm, and went to bed. The perfect way to spend a birthday I didn't want to celebrate.

Today we awoke in the frozen tundra. Our apartment faces Northwest and it is freezing! Our cats are piled together in order to keep warm. This is when a wood floor is not so wonderful. Carpet is a terrific insulator and keeps the feet warm. Thankfully I have a couple pairs of warm slippers. Also, I will be making those cut out sugar cookies today and having the oven on will do wonders to keep us all warm.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Good News Bad News Kinda Day

Today has been crazy. Crazy, I tell you!

Bad News: I got earlier than normal because I had some homework to finish up. When I loaded the pictures, I saw that all the changes I'd made in Photoshop the night before had not saved! So I had to do everything all over again. Grrrr.

Good News: Bob's social worker called and said she was going to order a portable ramp for him so that he can have access to places with, at most, 2 stairs! We can just throw the ramp in the van for when we need it. Also, they are going to cover the Ensure his dietitian recommended and 3 cases were ordered for us. Yay!

Bad/Good News: The medical supply company we were working with to get Bob's new chair is not Medicare certified so we can't use them for the chair. However, this was caught in time so we don't need to go through another whole evaluation, we just need to switch medical supply companies. We now have to work with a company we'd had rough relations with in the past. However, it seems those issues have been worked out and they are now a better company to deal with. So, Grrrr to start but Yay on the finish.

Good News: Meals on Wheels delivered their first meal to Bob today. Yay!
Bad News: He thought it started next week so was not home to receive it. Grrrr.
Good News: He's aware of the schedule now so will be home at delivery time from now on. Yay!

Good News: A lady is coming to help keep our apartment clean 3 hours a week. She starts on the 15th and will just do the basic cleaning like dusting, vacuuming, mopping, etc. Yay!

Good News: I emailed our church to see if they have any accessible small groups Bob and I can join so we can get to know people there. I received an email back saying it would be an answer to prayer if WE would consider hosting a home/meal group. Seems they've been looking for a host/leader in the West Metro. I talked to Bob and he's all for it. Yay!

Good News: I may have found someone to buy our antique/family heirloom dressers.
Bad News: His offer was much lower than I'd asked. Not sure how that will play out.

Good News: I was able to rearrange my class schedule for next semester so all my classes are now on Tuesday (starting at 8am and going through 8pm).
Bad News: This means I am unable to attend our church's women's small group I'd wanted to join. There are other groups but the one I wanted to join meets every Tuesday night. Sigh.

Good News: I can apply for scholarships at school to help offset the cost of school and the equipment I always need to buy. Yay!
Bad News: I missed the deadline for next semester by 3 days! Grrrr.
Good News: I can keep the application and resubmit it for Fall 2009 in March or April. Grray

Good News: Because Bob is on Medicare, his SSI disability check distribution day had to be switched from the end of the month to the first of the month. (I don't know why.) That means we got paid at the end of November and paid our December rent with that and our January rent will be paid at the first of January so our December paycheck is like an extra payday in our pocket! We used it to catch up on the bills we'd fallen behind on. It was like a cool drink of water and so timely! Yay!

Good News: Because of that nice little boost to our personal economy, I had a little extra cash in my pocket and was able to stop at my new favorite Indian restaurant. Turns out, you can get the buffet to go for about $7! I had a lovely lunch...and leftovers for dinner. It's all about the little things. :-) Yay!

OK, so it looks like the good news outweighs the bad news here. I'm just so bummed about missing the scholarship deadline that those feelings are weighing a little heavy on my right now. I'll get over it. In the meantime, anyone want to sponsor me this next semester? I can put your logo on my camera, bag, and tripod! Never hurts to ask.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Happy December

The semester is winding down. After this week there are only 2 weeks of school left before the Christmas break. I am ready for the break. And I'm ready for my next set of classes to start. This next semester won't be so shooting photos heavy since I have a business class, a photoshop class, and a photographer's assistant class. I do have a black and white film class that will require shooting and developing but I hardly think that one class will equal the amount of images I've had to shoot for my three current classes. I am so thankful for the education I'm getting. It's hella scary and intimidating though. I hope as I go I can keep up, grow, and get even better. I talked to some upper level classmen tonight and said how reluctant I am to submit anything to the photo club's photo contests. They encouraged me to submit anyway because how else will I learn and grow? I guess. I am just a first semester student who only knows first semester stuff. How can I compete against students who have been in classes far longer than I have? Still, it doesn't hurt to try does it?

Bob continues to be visited by people nearly every day. Monday he saw a speech therapist, today he saw his OT and a new nurse who assessed him for homemaking help. He qualifies for 3 hours a week which isn't a lot but we just need someone to do basic cleaning. The homemakers would also do laundry (including IRONING!), run errands, grocery shop, etc. We are just asking for the floors to be vacuumed, swept and mopped, the bathrooms to be cleaned, and the furniture to be dusted. Yay! This will really go a long way to help me not feel so overwhelmed around here.

Bob is being visited by both his OT and PT tomorrow and next week we are seeing the gentleman that is helping us with the grant. Bob is getting sick of the visits but it's far better for him to have these people come here than it is to have to take him to all of these appointments. Also, all of these people have been helping him (us) with managing his disease. He is learning better how to conserve his energy so he has the energy to do what he wants to/needs to do all day. I am learning things too. Like what works for him and what doesn't. For instance, right now we are looking for a buyer for our antique dressers because he doesn't have the strength to open them to get clothes out anymore. We hope to replace them with something more accessible...probably from Ikea...something with shelves instead of drawers. Also, I'm learning how to help him with stretches and limbering exercises. He's surprisingly flexible and stretchy but needs help with some things due to not having the muscles to move certain ways. I am also learning to make sure Bob has healthy, protien-rich foods available to him at all times. So now we are stocking the fridge with hard boiled/peeled eggs, string cheese, cottage cheese in single serve containers, Ensure, and such. This is so when I'm not here, he has easy to eat, energy ramping foods within reach.

All these visits and all this education is helpful but it's also like getting smacked in the face with reality. Bob's disease is progressive, it's incideous, it has no cure, and it results in him getting weaker and weaker and losing more and more strength. It's conceivable that at some point (and this is nothing we want to think about right now) he will need help transfering, bathing, toileting, and eating. He may get to a point where I will have to puree his food. He may get to a point where he can't stand or walk at all on his own. These things are things we may have to deal with at some point. There is no telling when or at what point. What is good to know is that we don't have to face this alone. We have help. We have family. We have a church family (finally!). We have friends. That is what we will chose to think on right now.

Oh and finally, this month I turn 41. I am not ready. I don't feel 41. I hang out with kids half my age all week and I have a really tough time seeing myself as their mothers' age(Or nearly) . I just don't feel that old. I feel silly even saying it. I think this is why women lie about their age. I don't feel it so why should I say it? From now on, I will say that I'm 35. Anyway, my birthday is in 2 weeks and I'm not looking forward to it for the first forever. Bob wanted to throw me a party but I vehmently declined. Plus the last party I threw only brought about 6 or 7 of my friends. Why add the humiliation of turning 41 on to that?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Loving the New Floors and More

I am loving our new floors. They are really much easier to care for and definitely more beautiful than our old crappy carpet. Now that we are farther on the other side of the chaos that was getting them, I can say it was worth it. The cats are still getting used to them. There is a lot of sliding and slipping and scampering. Hee.

On Monday Bob received a lift recliner. He was so excited. It's a beautiful chair and Bob really likes it. Basically he has only lived in his wheelchair or his bed for the past 3 or 4 years. Other regular furniture is just too low for him to be able to get out of comfortably. So rather than sit down on our regular furniture and then struggle to get out of it, he just didn't sit in anything else. Now he has his own lift recliner and it's been heavenly for him.

Speaking of Bob, today we went to the clinic to meet with a team who assessed him for a new wheelchair. His is over 5 years old and has some mechanical problems. Also, it's not as good for him as it was over 5 years ago. His new chair with have some adaptive additions to help him with posture and pain. We are still a good 4 - 6 months away from actually getting said chair but we are on the road and we had a good start today. Now we wait for the medical supply company rep to call us. He will come out to our place to look over Bob's current chair and today's assessment.

Our Thanksgiving was OK. We had one with family yesterday and today we had one with neighbors. Yesterday's was one where I didn't have to do much other than host. Today I did everything and it was lovely. I made a turkey (of course), mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potato casserole, dressing (do not STUFF the bird), green bean hotdish, and left over scalloped corn and cheesy potatoes from yesterday's feast. Oh, and Sarah Lee rolls. It was so good. I don't usually toot my own horn, but I do admit to being a good cook. Everyone ate everything and pronounced it yummy. There were seconds and thirds offered and taken. People were sent home with leftovers and we still have some ourselves. Overall, a very successful post thanksgiving Thanksgiving was had and enjoyed. Plus I am using the turkey carcass to make a yummy wild rice and turkey soup. Score!

Things at school are winding down but are still going well. I am improving in my picture taking skills and finding new things to love and enjoy in it all. I had to take outdoor twilight/sunset photos of a skyline and while it was freezing, I got some of the best photos I've taken all semester. Tomorrow Bob and I are going to the Como Conservatory so I can complete a couple of other assignments. Classes end in 3 weeks and then we have a nice break before they start up in January again. When new classes start, I will be taking a black and white film photography class, a digital darkroom class, a photographer's assistant class, and a photography business class. I am really looking forward to next semester.

Leaving work in August was the scariest thing I've ever done and yet we haven't done so badly. Yes we are behind in some bills right now but we will catch up in January. Also, I am still waiting for some money from one of my Big Bank Co accounts but it's taking a long time for the paperwork to go through. Once it does we can pay off a bunch of stuff. Yay! Not so yay is the fact that since I've been home, I've seen how badly Bob's disease has progressed. He really does need someone to help him prep meals, get dressed/undressed, and be here in case he falls. He is being assessed for new life helps for showering, eating, dressing, etc. We even have to replace our current dressers with something more accessible for him because he can't pull the drawers out any more. Leaving work in August was the best thing I've ever done.

We found a new church. We think. We haven't been to a church regularly for nearly 2 years. We left our old church for a variety of reasons and never felt called or comfortable in any other church we visited until we started attending Sanctuary Covenant. On Sunday after the service we are meeting with the pastors and we are excited about attending church for the first time in over 3 years. We are also excited about what God might have us do in service to the body there.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Settling Down

Well, Bob did his best and he did really well but when I got home from school, there was still a lot to do. Even though it was 10:00pm, I pushed up my sleeves, turned on some tunes, got out the cleaning supplies and went to work. I managed to get the kitchen and living room cleaned, organized, and arranged before the exhaustion really caught up with me and I had to go to bed. It was 3:00am.

The next morning I got up and started in with the cleaning once again. I had to work fast because Bob's physical therapist was coming over at 11 and another man from the county was coming over at 1:00. I managed to get our entertainment center set up and all the electronics working by the time the PT showed up.

Bob's PT is super nice and was very surprised at Bob's range of motion and flexibility. He really does have an ability to move and lift the muscles he is left with. It's kind of amazing. There are exercises I have to help him with, but surprisingly, those are few and far between. Bob does most of his exercises in his bed before he gets up in the morning. (He's less tired and more able to get them done first thing in the morning.) He's ingenious in the way he uses his bed for resistance.

After the PT left, another man from the county came by to talk to us about the program Bob qualified for. It's one that gives his an annual budget and with that budget he is able to pay people to come in and care for him. He can pay someone to clean, help him with meals, help him bath, get dressed, exercise, etc. He can also get a membership at the Y, hire a nutritionist, see a chiropractor or massage therapist. He can also get adaptive/assistive aids with this money. All this as long as he doesn't go over his budget. This is great news because there is a lot of stuff we have put on hold or gone without altogether because we couldn't afford it. Now Bob can afford these things and his life will get easier. The budget isn't huge, but it's enough. Also, I can get paid as Bob's personal care attendant. There are lots of checks and balances in place so as to not get in hot water with the budget and Bob can't pay me more than he would pay someone else to care for him. But with the money I get from my work study and the money I get from caring for Bob, we should be OK. Whoot! Another thing Bob is looking forward to is a YMCA membership. He wants to hire a personal trainer to work with him on flexibility since strength training is not an option. As his PCA, I can go and work out with him, so it benefits us both. Unfortunately, this program is slow moving so we won't officially be on it until January so right now we are just getting the paperwork done and jumping through the hoops set before us.

After all our meetings and more cleaning, we still had to go get the cats from the vet. I set out in the van to pick them up. On the way I called in a pizza to be ready for pick up on our way home. I got Maisey and Daisy first and buckled their carriers into the van. Then I got the large carrier that held both Zoe and Chloe. Chloe was crying that sad, mournful wail that cats use when they are at their scardiest. On the way to the van I caught a whiff of cat urine and it knocked me over. I'm not sure if she had peed her carrier prior to me picking her up and I just now smelled it or if she peed on the way out to the van. Either way, it reeked and I had to drive home, stop and pick up a pizza, and drive some more before getting them home. Gah!

Once home, I carried Maisey and Daisy's carriers up to our apartment but didn't let them out. Bob came with me to get the kittens (we still call them the kittens even though they'll be 3 in April). The smell of urine was so strong and gag inducing I had to step back. Once we got them into the apartment, we took the carrier to the bathroom hoping to coral them there while we cleaned them and the carrier up. However, the carrier is so big and our bathroom so small that both cats got out. Each one ran to a separate bedroom and hid. So now we had cat pee in the bathroom and both bedrooms. I carried the carrier to the patio and cried. I'd just spent hours cleaning up sawdust from everything we owned and now I'd have to clean cat pee from the rest of our stuff. Grrrr!

While I was on the patio having a meltdown, Bob was able to coral the kittens into the bathroom. I got myself pulled together and grabbed poor Chloe who looked to be the culprit of the peeing incident. She is normally a very fluffy and vain kitty. At this point her feet, tail, and tummy were all wet and she was acting sad/depressed/humiliated. Poor kitty. We ran a bath and bathed her as well as we could. Never having actually bathed any of our cats before, I wasn't sure how it would go but Chloe surprised us. She lay docilly in the water while we soaped and rinsed, soaped and rinsed her. As I soaped her throat and stomach, I could feel her puring away. Once clean, we lay her in a towel and wrapped her tight. She just lay there enjoying the act of us drying her off. Once dry enough, we let her go and she ran off to groom. We repeated the same with Zoe who, though not thrilled, let us bathe her with minimal effort. She did keep trying to get out of the bath but for the most part was compliant enough and never meowed or cried during the ordeal.

Once both cats were clean, we went to work on cleaning the cat pee from everything. I think we got it. Thankfully, it was all surface cleaning and not deep cleaning so that made things a bit easier. Still, I was overwhelmed and would be so thankful for a day that didn't involve cleaning things. Once everything was clean we were finally able to let Daisy and Maisey out of their carriers and FINALLY eat the pizza I'd picked up. The cats were all a little hesitant and freaked out but we knew they would settle down.

The next day, the cats all seemed in better spirits and more settled in. They were unsure of the new floor and there have been a couple of funny incidents when, while running, they couldn't catch their footing resulting in a cartoon like scene of cat feet moving but the cat not going anywhere. They also don't really like the sound Bob's wheels make on the floor but they will get used to it.
I was looking forward to Sunday since I didn't have anything planned other than church. Bob and I have been visiting a church we really like a lot. It's an urban church that meets in a school on the North side of Minneapolis. It's extremely diverse, quite large, and for some reason we feel at home there. Sunday was no different in our experience there. We really enjoyed the service and look forward to seeing if and how we might be called to serve there. Next Sunday we are going to an event called Pizza With the Pastors to meet the pastors and get our questions answered.

To end today's post, here are some photos of the new floor. Was it all worth it? Now that I'm on the other side of it I can say yes but last week I wasn't so sure.
Looking at living, dining, kitchen from bedroom areaLooking at living room into the bedroom from dining areaLooking at living room from dining roomLooking at living room from front entrySanta MaiseySanta ChloeSanta Zoe

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

So we have new beautiful laminate floors in our apartment. We also have a nice find layer of wood dust on every single linear surface in our apartment. The guys who installed the flooring, cut it all inside our apartment which means we are left to clean up more dust than we had soot after the fire in April. Needless to say, I was a tad overwhelmed this morning as I surveyed the job before me. Still, the floors are beautiful.

We got up early yesterday, finished emptying the living and dining areas of furniture, boxed up the cats, and drove them to the vet's office. It wasn't much fun. Four kitties can make an awful racket when enclosed in a moving vehicle. Poor things. We were going to pick them up today but since we have to clean up the wood dust, we thought it best to leave them another day.

After dropping off the cats at the vet, we went to breakfast. I wanted to go to Key's but there wasn't really one near by so we settled on IHop. It wasn't a bad breakfast. I had a mushroom, swiss, spinach, tomato omelet while Bob had a ham and cheese omelet. We spent some time talking about life, money, the holidays, etc. and had a nice time lingering over coffee. After that, we went to Target to look for a couple of household items. Of course we left with more than our list showed we needed but that's always the way at Target. After Target we went to the wild bird store to exchange some suet. I had purchased some hot pepper suet because I was told the birds like it but the squirrels leave it alone. However, it seemed no one liked it. It just sat in our suet feeder getting old and yucky. I exchanged the red pepper suet for fruit and nut suet and that should make our downy woodpecker friends very happy.

We were told that the flooring guys were coming after 9am and should only take 3 to 4 hours. At this point it was about 11:30 and we still needed to kill a couple of hours. We did the only logical thing and saw a movie. Bob likes action and I like attractive men so we went to see the new James Bond movie. It was FULL of action and not as full of Daniel Craig as I would have liked. Still, it was an OK way to spend a couple of hours.

When we got back to our apartment building, the head maintenance man met us in the garage. He said the floor guys weren't done yet but that we could go upstairs to check it out. So we did. They had ripped out all the old carpet and were laying the under floor. Only one little strip of hallway had been finished with the wood floor. That was disappointing since we didn't have anything else to do to keep us busy and out of the way. Bob suggested he just go hang out at the gas station and I could go to school and work on any projects I had. That seemed logical so that's what we did.

Bob called me at school at nearly 7pm and told me the flooring guys were done and he was in the apartment but that the quarter round still had to be laid and the dust had to be cleaned up. When I got home I marvelled at the new floor. It was beautiful. Dusty, but really amazing. We couldn't begin cleaning up or moving things back in to the main living area until the quarter rounds were put in so we ended up going to bed. It was weird being there without the cats and Bob said it had been really lonely while I was at school. Also weird was how shoddy and dingy the walls now appeared. Huh. The crappy, gross carpet must have diverted my attention from the dirty, spotty walls. Nice.

This morning the maintenance men came and installed the quarter rounds but didn't clean up. I asked about that and they kind of inferred it was up to us to clean up. I said that didn't seem fair since we hadn't been told to put things away or cover anything with plastic sheeting. If we had been told, we would have done that. I said that every surface of everything in our apartment was now covered in dust and it was only just in April when everything had been cleaned after the fire. They said they would tell the office manager but she would have to get back to me.

I started cleaning. The job overwhelmed me. I looked at everything we owned and wondered how and when I would ever be done cleaning it. I had wash everything...the cupboards, the appliances, the containers and jars, the dishes that were left out, the sugar bowl, salt and pepper shakers, the cats food/water bowls, the photographs, paintings, and artwork that hung on our walls. I had to create a laundry pile for anything linen that could be washed. Our sofas had to be vacuumed over and over to remove the fine dust that had settled on them. I looked at the overwhelming task before me and did what any woman with a pioneer spirit would do. I cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I washed the counters. Snot spilled onto the freshly washed microwave. My shoulders shook with sobs as I wiped down the aquarium and fish food. I knew I was crying out of frustration and that it would be over and I'd be fine. Bob did not see it that way.

When Bob came in the apartment, he saw me crying and immediately went back out to talk to the maintenance guys. He came back and told me to stop what I was doing, go to the bedroom, pick up a book and relax. I had a hard time doing it but eventually the futility of the job I was doing overcame me and I did as he asked. He said he would work hard while I was at school and work study today to get someone or lots of someones to come and clean our apartment. He promised that it would be at least 75-80 % clean by the time I got home tonight. I am skeptical, but he was adamant, so I left him and our dusty apartment and went to school.

I have no idea how things are going at our home. I only hope Bob is true to his word and able to get the help he promised. Otherwise I just may have to pack up and move. It seems moving would be an easier task at this point than completely cleaning fine wood dust from all our possessions. We'll see. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bob's Care and New Floors

I thought I should blog about how things are going with Bob's care now that we are working with MA and Medicare.

A home health nurse just left after assessing Bob. The nurse was a very kind and gentle young man who, it turns out, does not live far from us. He said Bob is doing very well and since I help him with activities of daily living, we will not need to have a home health aid come in to bathe or make meals for Bob. That's good news. We will be seeing a nurse weekly for a month or so and after that, who knows.

Later this afternoon a woman is coming to either assess Bob for physical or occupational therapy, I can't remember which. Either way, we hope we can figure out a better way for Bob to use a telephone, computer, and other necessities for living. So, we'll see.

On Friday afternoon I am meeting with a gentleman who is going to go over the state grant program with me and next Friday morning Bob is going to be assessed for a new wheelchair. This seems to be the time for many, many assessments. Once they are all done we will receive recommendations and then we can make a plan of care, access, and ability.

In other good news, we met our apartment complex's new managers. I mentioned to the woman that our carpet is trashed due to Bob's wheelchair and asked her if it could be replaced with laminate flooring. (This wasn't out of nowhere, the apartment down the hall from us had been upgraded with new laminate flooring.) She kind of looked at me as if to size me up and said she would look into it and get back to me. She must have looked up our rental history because the next day she told Bob that not only will they replace the flooring, they will do it before the holidays AND if we sign a new 1-year lease in December, our rent will not go up. This works for us. We just signed a 1-year lease in June so this is like getting 6 months rent without the usual annual increase. We've lived here for 6 years and have never been late with rent. I think that impressed her. I cannot wait for the new floor! It will be so much easier to keep clean.

School is going well but with the semester winding down, the profs are loading on the homework. And since it's the end of the semester, the assignments are much more involved and stressful. At least for me they are. I have one assignment where I have to take 24 pictures of a pen. Well, the pen has to be identifiable in the shots anyway. I decided to do a photo essay on "A Day in the Life of a Pen". So far I've photographed a pen in bed, in a bubble bath, making breakfast, playing with the cats, blogging, and watching TV. I will get some outdoor shots and school shots later today. I also have another assignment to shoot 35-40 shots of something of my choosing but it must be superior in composition, lighting, focus, etc. I think I may use the photoshoot of the kittens for that particular assignment. Thankfully, there is only about 3 more weeks of class before winter break. Whew!

I asked my advisor if it's normal to feel overwhelmed and under prepared after the first semester of the professional photography program. He said it is and was I also wondering if I could even hack it as a pro photographer. I said I HAD been struggling with thoughts along the line of, "Will I ever really be able to make a living at this?" and "Who would pay ME to take pictures?" and "What the hell was I thinking?" He laughed and said that was very normal but to take gets better and promotes growth. He said he looks for growth and developement (ha!) in people in the program and that as long as there is growth and the applying of knowledge, he doesn't worry about his students. That kind of made me feel better. At least until I look at other people's work, compare it to mine, and come out lacking. Gah!

OMG! I just saw one of our complex's maintenance men and he said our floors are going to be put in tomorrow! Yikes! I am NOT ready for that yet. So I need to sign off and find out for sure. New floors tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank God for Assistance

So winter arrived this weekend.

I went out of town this weekend. Every year 7-12 of my girlfriends and I go to on a long weekend together. We always go the weekend of the deer hunting opener even though none of our husbands hunt. This year was lovely even though the weather was not. It alternated between snow/sleet/rain and was freezing cold. The overnight low was 19 degrees and our high was in the 30's. Thankfully the cabin we stay in features 2 lovely fireplaces. A good time was had by all.

I love our social worker and by the grace of God, it appears she loves us too. Because Bob qualified for lot of stuff and I qualified for nothing, she is going above and beyond in her quest to help us. In the coming days Bob is going to be on the receiving end of the following; a lift reclining chair, a new power wheelchair, Meals on Wheels on Thursday and Friday, housecleaning help, and food assistance. I am beyond grateful for all this help but I do wish the wheels of assistance moved with a little more zoom. With no actual money coming in yet I am a little on the anxious side right now.

I began my work study at school last week. It is apparent that I won't be getting quite the number of hours we first thought, but still, it's something. So far I like it but am surprised how much 10-15 hours of extra work change my outlook of my week. Not in a negative way but I am finding that I have to reorganize how and when I do things again just because of the extra work. I thought I'd be able to just fit it in but am surprised to find that I need to re-prioritize and organize.

Tomorrow I am going to my friend Lisa's house. She has 2 litters of 4-week old kittens I need to photograph. These 2 litters total 12 little wild kittens and I cannot wait! Pictures to come.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Don't Forget to Set Your Clocks Back

So, we received word from the county that Bob has been approved for state aid benefits but I have not. Apparently I make too much money. Which is weird since I haven't made any money since I quit my job. Well, that's not entirely true. I did make $100 taking pictures at a theater opening but the actual job was nearly 2 months ago and I just got paid for it so it doesn't really count.

Anyway, the good news is that Bob is now covered medically speaking and is getting food assistance as well, so that's good. We also qualified for a program where he will get money to pay a personal care attendant to help him with the functions of daily living. Under the program, he can pay me, so there's that. However, I guess this program takes a while to get into gear so for now we are scraping by. Still, life hasn't been bad at all and we are doing OK.

It's been over 2 months since I quite my job and I am still OK with my decision. The temp jobs I signed up for have not panned out, nor have the jobs I've interviewed for on my own and I guess that's OK since they weren't at the top of my career list. However, I was offered work study in my program at school and am just waiting for the paperwork to go through. Could be a couple of weeks still. It won't pay a lot but it's better than nothing. It's also a great opportunity to get to know the photography department, equipment, and professors. I think it's a good move that will help me with contacts in the long run. Oh, and I had an interview at a local camera store. Not sure if that will end up being something that will work with my schedule but I will deal with that when the time comes.

So yesterday was Halloween. We didn't do much. We handed out candy but we only had about a dozen kids stop by. Now we have a huge bucket of candy. I gave out some more today to kids we know but didn't see last night. Still, we have a lot of candy left over.

I went out shooting today (with camera, not guns) and had a pretty good time. I managed to complete at least 3 assignments and will have Bob help me with a couple of others. Next weekend I am going out of town with friends and I will have my pick of models to help me out with newer assignments. Anyway, today everyone had the same idea. I was out at Minnehaha Falls Park and saw at least 4 other photographers out there shooting families and couples. And at one time a woman came up to me while I was setting up a shot and asked me if I was someone else. I had to say no and wish her luck on finding her photographer. I don't know if she ever found her. I'm going to miss days like today. It was beautiful, warm, and sunny and possibly our last truly nice day before the snow flies.

Well, I've already set our clocks back because last year we forgot and were early for everything on Sunday. Plus, I woke up at 5 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I am already yawning and working at keeping my eyes open. According to my clock, it's 9:30. Looks like I'll be getting to bed early tonight.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Social Services

I spent the weekend doing laundry and cleaning. I really deep cleaned our apartment. I vacuumed all the furniture and wiped down all the kitchen surfaces including all the cabinets. I got rid of a bunch of clutter and organized things that had become clutter catchers. I washed every single item I could in order to get the cat hair off of it. It felt so good. However, I did all this because we were expecting a visit from a social worker. I was so nervous and spent a lot of frenetic, anxious energy cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Oh, and carving pumpkins.

Our social worker showed up promptly at 10am this morning. The first thing I asked her was if she was allergic to cats. Thankfully she wasn't. Even more thankfully, she LOVED cats. She even asked for our cats names and patted her lap so Daisy would jump up and cuddle her. Yay! We ended up loving her and spent nearly 2 hours with her going over Bob's medical history, diagnosis, goals, plans, and needs. She said that a nurse recently told her that it is not possible for someone with MD to reach adulthood without a diagnosis. We said that is obviously not true especially since there are over 40 different types and not all are evident in childhood.

Our meeting with her went really well. Originally we thought we might have to slightly exaggerate our need in order to receive services. Well, it turns out we really REALLY qualify for quite a few services. Oh thank God. Bob is already on Medical Assistance and we are getting help with food purchases. I will eventually be on MN Care and we are working towards qualifying and getting help from a state program that will allow me to be Bob's caregiver and be paid. I guess the process for this really takes a long time, so that is slower in coming. Bob is able to get assistive aids/tools/products that are paid for including a lift chair and even possibly voice technology for his computer. All of this takes a HUGE weight off our shoulders. Now if only I can find some kind of income that will allow us to pay our bills.

Other good news our social worker told us is that the preferred vendor of medical/assistive aids is the one we already use! Of all the medical supply stores out there, the one the state uses is the one we are already familiar with. They know us, they know Bob's needs, they know Bob's issues, and we will continue to work with them. That really is good news.

Another spot of good news is that to qualify for one of the supports to which we apply, Bob needs to earn at least $75 per month. He can earn more, but he needs to earn at least $75 a month. He is so excited about this. He cannot wait to be working, earning money, and contributing to our household again. Even if it's not much, it is helping us qualify for a program that we need and it will go a long way to give him esteem in providing for his family. So. Awesome.

Friday, October 24, 2008

October is infertility awareness month and the this week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Please check the Resolve website for information on infertility and how it affects nearly 10% of the population.
So it's Friday. I don't have much else to say as far as infertility is concerned. Please check with the Resolve website for more information as to how they can help you, how you can volunteer for them, or win stuff at their silent auction fundraiser.
Last night my friend Laurie and I went to see Macbeth at the Torch Theater. It was awesome. I love live theater and have to say that I wish I could get to more live theater offerings. Shakespeare is among my favorite of playwrights though it takes a while to get into the gist of the language. In reviewing the Macbeth story online today I am happy to say that I did manage to follow the story just fine. Anyway, there are still tickets available so if you live in the Twin Cities and are looking for an awesome live theater experience, go see Macbeth at the Torch.

After the show, a bunch of us went to Corner Table for appetizers and wine. It was a lovely after party with amazing taste sensations. I cannot recommend Corner Table more, especially if you are looking for local food grown sustainably and prepared deliciously. Photos of the after party are here .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October is infertility awareness month and the this week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Please check the Resolve website for information on infertility and how it affects nearly 10% of the population.
People dealing with infertility are tangled in a mess of hope and grief. Most every month there is the hope of conceiving either naturally or through medical intervention. When conception doesn't take, there is grief, anger, despair, frustration, depression, and feelings of failure to deal with.

Grief is difficult to deal with in any situation but decidedly so in the case of infertility. If a couple has been unable to conceive there isn't a death to grieve. However, the couple dealing with infertility can feel as though something has died. And in truth, their dreams have died. Their dreams of an expanding family have died. Their dreams of passing on traditions, wisdom, family heirlooms, etc have all died. A woman's dream of carrying a baby in her womb and delivering a baby in birth have died. A man's dream of playing ball with his son or having an heir have died. A couple's dream of parenthood has died. Still, there are more websites and aids developed for couples grieving the loss of a pregnancy or infant than there are for couples grieving the loss of parenthood altogether.

In perusing the internet in search of help for grieving people led me here. This page was written by a certified grief counselor who also struggled with infertility. There is a lot of wisdom here as well as a reminder of the 5 stages of grief. The author also gives a lot of good resources for grieving people and the infertile.
2.) Fertile Thoughts

My own husband and I were talking today about the upcoming holidays. We usually spend Thanksgiving with either his family or my family but Christmas is spent alone together. Last year we spent Christmas at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis and we ended up having a great time together. This year I don't even want to put up the Christmas decorations. Why have holiday traditions if the traditions don't go anywhere? So in talking we decided we are going to save any extra money that comes in and spend Christmas at the casino hotel. That's how we are going to deal with Christmas alone this year.

Other online resources for people dealing with infertility:
1.) Infertility's Common Thread
2.) Online Peer Counseling List
3.) Blogs of others dealing with infertility, IVF, loss, and adoption
4.) Missing Grace Foundation. This organization holds conferences and retreats every year in the Minneapolis area for families that have experienced: pregnancy loss, infant loss, infertility or adoption and to advocate for comprehensive, patient-focused prenatal care for all women. Five core areas encompass the heart of the mission: Grieve, Restore, Arise, Commemorate and Educate.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coping With Infertility

October is infertility awareness month and the this week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Please check the Resolve website for information on infertility and how it affects nearly 10% of the population.

In trying to find help and resources for people struggling with infertility, I managed to learn that Google thinks much like the medical world. My Google searches ended up with mostly fertility clinic links and treatment opportunities. That's not exactly what I was looking for.

I did, however, manage to find a link to a book that I recommend. I know the last thing a lot of people want is a book pushed at them, but this is a book written by a woman who's "been there". Empty Womb Aching Heart is a collection of stories from other couples struggling with infertility as well as personal experience shared by the author. It is written by a conservative Christian woman, so if your beliefs don't align that way, this may not be the book for you. However, I've heard it said that it is much more helpful for those wishing to understand the pain of their loved one's infertility than the infertiles themselves.

Other books that may help include:

The Infertility Companion
Inconceivable: Finding Peace Midst Infertility
Hannah's Hope
The Ache for a Child
Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope's list of Coping With Infertility Books

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thanks Mary

As a long time reader of blogs, I've found my favorites and have them all entered into my Google reader. One blog I've read for years is written by a day care/childcare giver.

As a former nanny and a hopeful parent-to-be, I've appreciated her no-nonsense, down-to-earth approach to childcare.

Last week she emailed me and asked if I would be willing to guest post during this week of infertility awareness. I gladly accepted and she posted my guest post today. Click here to read.

Thanks, Mary for the opportunity to share my struggle and give voice to a problem not usually mentioned in mommy/childcare blogs. I really appreciate it.

National Infertility Awareness Week

While the month of October is National Infertility Awareness Month, Sunday began the official Infertility Awareness Week.

If you struggle with infertility, I recommend visiting
Resolve's website in order to find some help.

If you don't happen to struggle with infertility but have loved ones who do, please read Resolve's fact sheet on ways you can help/be there for them.

As the week progresses, I will add other resources available to infertiles and those that love them so check in each day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

An Interesting Photo Opportunity

Also, an interesting experience. If you are into and not scared by zombies, have I got an event for you. BRAINS!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Infertility: the Definition of Insanity?

October is infertility awareness month and the 19th through the 25th is National Infertility Awareness Week. Please check the Resolve website for information on infertility and how it affects nearly 10% of the population.


I have been sick for about two weeks now and it's really getting old. It started with a sore throat and stuffy nose and quickly moved from my head to my chest where it has set up camp and made itself at home. I have a weird lethargy, low-grade fever, and a chest cough that has finally moved from an annoying tickle in the throat to a productive cough. I thought I was on the mend today but after running a couple of quick errands this afternoon, I had to come home and take a nap before class.

To be honest, I'd been hoping some of the illness I felt was from pregnancy. I was three days late (a rarity), had tender breasts for a week, and just felt different somehow. But no, Aunt Flo finally made her appearance today. I am assuming some of my lethargy and general malaise comes from that as well.

I think the hardest thing about infertility might just be the dashed hopes. For me it's been month after month for nearly 7 years. Every month I have about 2 weeks where I think...maybe this time? Only to have that hope smashed to bits with the appearance of my period. That's nearly 78 hopes dashed. Can you say that you have had something you desired, wanted, hoped for only to have it taken from you or not made an appearance at all? Can you say that's happened nearly 80 times? The Bible says hope deferred makes a heart sick. So not only am I infertile, my heart is sick.

While watching a program detailing the life of one of my favorite singers, I heard him say something that made me take notice. He was speaking about a painful instance in his married life and how instead of turning from God or being angry at Him about the circumstances, he asked Him to make a way through the pain. I am working on making that my prayer. I still have daily battles with God about this. After all, conception, childbirth, families...they are all His invention and design so how hard would it be for Him to just make it happen for us? I don't think it would be hard at all. So why doesn't He? Who knows. Hence, my battles with my Maker. I think I've made strides in healing just by being willing to ask Him to make a way for me through this pain. I know I have to get through it, I just don't know how. So He is going to have to do something to lead me through.

So anyway, I was thinking that THIS month was different and I might really be pregnant. Isn't the definition of insanity "doing something the same time every time and expecting a different result"? Well, we do the same thing every month. In fact we do it several times a month and never get a different result. I just don't know how much longer I can take the hope/devastated rollercoaster. Two weeks of hope, wishing, dreaming, planning, desiring, expecting only to come face first into the wall of dashed hopes, despair, sadness, longing, and failure. Then a week of trying to come to terms with it all and getting on with life. It's up, down, up, down, up, down, every month the same. I just wish that I could either just stop desiring pregnancy/children, get over it all together, or get pregnant somehow. I don't think I can take 8 more months of this let alone 78 more months.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Um, Hi.

October is infertility awareness month and the 19th through the 25th is National Infertility Awareness Week. Please check the Resolve website for information on infertility and how it affects nearly 10% of the population.

So, it's been a while. Let's catch up, shall we?

Bob and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary at the end of September. We were given a 2-night stay at a local casino's luxury hotel. It was fabulous. I'm not much of a gambler so I enjoyed the in room movies, the casino bowling alley, and the hotel pool and whirlpool (one night I had both all to myself for nearly an hour!). Bob won 2nd place in a Texas Hold'em tournament so we actually had some money to play with, which was nice. We also drove around the area in which we stayed and had a lovely day outside enjoying the sunny autumn weather. Bob surprised me with some Fiestaware for an anniversary present, so that was nice too.

School continues to go well. I find that though the work can be overwhelming at times, I am really enjoying what I am learning. My professors are knowledgeable and helpful without being condescending. I am getting pretty good marks so far and feel good about what I am doing there. I recently met with my advisor to go over next semester's class picks and while I am adding an extra class compared to what I'm doing now, I'm only adding an extra credit. Interestingly, 3 of my classes meet on Tuesday and my other class meets on Wednesday. That leaves the rest of the week open to more job hunting/working.

Speaking of...the temporary jobs seemed to have all but dried up. I used to get weekly notices of openings but lately I've not heard anything. I've called the agencies and they have my info on file but no openings ready. However, I do have an interview at a local camera store tomorrow at 11. They are looking for some type of manager. I don't have manager experience but I am hoping some life experience will qualify me for the position. I submitted my resume this morning and he called me at noon for the interview so it seems he is really looking for someone. Who knows, this could be a door into bigger and better things.

Things at my old workplace seem to still be in turmoil. One of my former co-workers keeps me abreast of what's going on and she says things are crazy. People are cashing in their annuities left and right which makes the workload quite large. Normal cash outs when I was working there were about 5-8 per day. My friend told me they are now processing hundreds per day. Also, it seems that they are beginning to treat her the way I was being treated. I am not happy that she is getting hassled but I am happy to know that it wasn't just me reading too much into things. It was really real and it really happened. I just hope she can stand her ground and take it or face it better than I could.

Finally because we are getting down to the last of the money we'd put aside we made a decision and followed through with it on Wednesday. We went and applied for public assistance. Bob needs medical assistance for sure and we are looking into a grant we'd heard about for familial care-givers for persons with disabilities. Applying wasn't fun. We got to the office around 10am and got our number. They called our number once to see what we were there for. We got the paperwork we needed to fill out. They called our number again to get our paperwork. Then we had to wait for our number to be called a third time to meet with someone to go over our paperwork. When we were done we had a list of more paperwork they require before they can make a decision on our acceptance into the program. I have all but one thing on the list as of right now. I am waiting for that to be mailed to me and when it is, I can fax everything else in. I don't know how fast the wheels turn, but I hope it's faster than our money runs out.

Bob was bummed to apply for assistance but I was less so. It's there for people who need it when they need it. When we don't need it anymore, we won't use it. I don't expect to need it for a long period of's just to help us through this tough spot.

Being at the county assistance office sure was an interesting social study. Lots of faces of color. Lots of elderly. Lots of men. One woman got arrested while we were there waiting and that was interesting as well. She was compliant and the police officers were polite, quiet, and quick about it. As we were leaving, an African American man got on the elevator with us. Just as the doors closed a woman in head to toe coverings tried to get on but was unsuccessful. The whole trip down the gentleman (and I use that term loosely) spat the worst racist language I'd heard in a while. He spoke out loud to us as though we might share his opinion of "that kind of person". Unfortunately, he got off on another floor and we weren't able to respond one way or the other. I am not used to hearing such hatred spoken so smoothly and it sat with me (and apparently continues to sit with me) the rest of the day.

Oh! My friend is still pregnant and we are still friends. I look forward to an upcoming retreat we are going on with all our friends next month so we can talk even more. I got her a newborn size onesie while we were at the casino and a Target Baby gift card. All her kids are teenagers so for her, it is like she is starting completely over and I am sure she needs lots of new stuff. Right now she can barely think of that because she is sick quite a bit. The first trimester is kicking her butt.

This weekend is the annual MDA Stride and Ride. If you would like to donate to our walk for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, email me or post a comment and I will give you our mailing address. All gifts are tax deductable. Thanks!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Let me be clear

My friend was discharged from the hospital today. I had planned on visiting her today but she called early on to tell me she was sprung and heading home. Let me be clear about my struggle with K's pregnancy. My struggle was NOT about her being pregnant (OK, maybe a little of it was) but instead it was about the fact that she was 9 weeks pregnant, had seen me, talked to me on the phone, and had not told me. The rest of our friends (6 other ladies that meet regularly) all knew and kept it from me. She thought that she was sparing me by waiting to tell me until conditions were right. As I told her today, I don't think there is any possible scenario that could have happened to make her news not hurtful to me (other than me being pregnant at the same time). That's just the way it is. I also told her that just because I am struggling with how things are doesn't mean I'm not happy for her. I am. I am thrilled they are having a baby at this stage in their life. It's a nice little surprise that will really make their family fun. I just wish I could share the experience with her. She asked if we were still getting together at my place next Friday and I said we were but that I might not know how to pray. Right now my whole attitude towards God is WTF? She laughed and agreed she knows how that feels. I still just cannot wrap my head around it though. The woman who has held my hand, believed with all she is, prayed with fervor and heart for something she believes will happen, and has listened to me cry hundreds of times is herself carrying the child we thought would be mine. Well, not exactly mine. I didn't impregnate her. We just thought I would be pregnant...not her.

Let me also be clear about our infertility. Infertility is defined as trying to get pregnant for a year without pregnancy. If you are over 35 the definition changes to 6 months without a pregnancy. We've been trying for...well, it will be 7 years on Monday. I've never been pregnant.

We went to the doctor and fixed what we could. I had dye run through my tubes to see if they were stopped up but the dye flowed freely. I had an operation that removed scar tissue and endometriosis. I had another operation that removed a pollyp from my uterus. I had 3 inseminations last year and another 3 this year before my insurance ran out. Bob was tested and while his sperm showed low motility, everything else looked fine. We assumed that the low motility was due to the water weight he'd put on and his heart/respitory issues. Now that those are doing OK, he should be better but he's not been tested for over a year.

We have done all that we can do medically and financially. Now that I'm not employed, we don't have medical insurance (though Bob qualifies and is in the midst of being approved for Medicare.) and we no longer qualify to be foster parents. Needless to say, without my income we don't have a lot of money so at this point, adoption is not an option either. Not that we would necessarily qualify for adoption either. A lot of agencies we looked at have medical, financial, and age qualifiers that we didn't meet.

So at this point we have done all we can do. We still try to get pregnant every month. We still pray for a miracle. But 7 years is a long time to want something, try for something, and be denied at every turn. I have minutes, hours, and sometimes days where I am OK with never being a parent, never having children. But then something like K announcing her pregnancy happens and all of a sudden, I'm torn from my place of acceptance and transported to a place of want, need, and intense desire for a child. I would LOVE to live in a place of a acceptance. I would love to be able to just let go of this and live my life with my husband. I try. I pray. I "give it over". Yet I cannot let go. It is a painful place and I hate it. Now that I'm 40, I am nearing an age where eventually I will just have to accept it is not going to happen and be OK with it. But with every period coming regularly every month there is still hope and because there is hope I seem to be unable to let go completely. It's something I'm still working on.

Oh and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that October is infertility awareness month and the 19th through the 25th is National Infertility Awareness Week. Please check the Resolve website for information on infertility and how it affects nearly 10% of the population.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What People Don't Know About Being Infertile

Being infertile/without children affects every aspect of life. EVERY. ASPECT.

Do you read the Bible? Do you come across verses that make references to future generations? If so, those verses don't apply to you because you haven't produced a new generation. The generation ends with you and your husband.

Do you and your husband enjoy doing things together? Do you enjoy seasonal opportunities? If so, rule out carnivals, parks, petting zoos, pumpkin patches, Disney movies, or other family/children-centric activities unless you wish to address the weird looks and stares from parents carting their children around. Adults in child-centric areas are looked upon as possible pedophiles/weirdos.

Do you and your husband talk about future baby names? Rules and boundaries for future kids? Have you ever caught yourself saying, "when we have kids..."? How long can you go without ever having those hypothetical kids?

Does school start and you don't have anyone to send to school? Does Christmas come and go without your household experiencing the innocence, excitement, and childhood wonder of the season? Are your shopping expeditions devoid of juice boxes, yogo, diapers, and licensed characters? Do you feel negated as a women because you haven't given birth or nurtured another human being?

The pain of infertility isn't just about not having kids while intensely desiring them, it's about living in that pain every single day and trying to come to terms with never seeing those dreams come true in the midst of a world full of children.

In regards to my friend K. We are not on the outs. I am hurt that she didn't tell me she was pregnant when everyone else in our group knew. I was stunned at the news she is pregnant but I am working through that. What continues to haunt me is that she felt she couldn't tell me she was pregnant and that everyone else kept it from me too. That's what hurts me. I am most likely, probably going to see her in the hospital tomorrow and we will talk.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I got a call today from my friend H. She told me our mutual friend K is in the hospital. K has some kind of severe abdominal pain. The doctors think it might be her appendix but they weren't sure. I asked if they were going to operate and H said that there were complications. I asked what kind of complications and H told me that K is 9 weeks pregnant. ?????? !!!!!

I was shocked. I had talked to K just last week. I had seen her weeks before that. K is the one person I can always go to when I am struggling with my own inability to get pregnant. K is the one who prays for and with me. K is the one I turn to in my struggle with infertility and she's...pregnant?

H told me that it was an unexpected surprise. I guess it must have been since all 3 of K's kids are in their teens and as far as I know they weren't trying to get pregnant. Anyway, in shock I told H that I would visit K at the hospital today since I don't have school.

On the way to the hospital I stopped to get some flowers and a card. When I got to the hospital I realized I could not see K today. I filled out the card explaining why I couldn't see her today but that I'd be praying for her.

On my way home K called my cell phone and left a voicemail apologizing for not telling me. She kept saying she was sorry and hoped I be OK. I got home and cried. Another of our mutual friends called to check on me and I found out that all the friends in our circle knew about K's pregnancy except me. She didn't know how to tell me and was waiting to tell me in person next week when we all got together for prayer.

This is so not fair. K wasn't even trying to get pregnant. K didn't want to get pregnant that I know of. In the 2 1/2 years we've been meeting together for prayer it never once came up. Yet every time it was my prayer to get pregnant and have a baby. I'm not sure how to deal with this right now. So far I've dealt with it by crying and telling God how unfair it is. I'm sure that's the mature thing to do, right?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Three Weeks In

I am well into my third week of photography classes and I am learning a lot. Mostly I am learning that I don't know diddly. In class I am feeling overwhelmed and out of my league but when I am out shooting photos for assignments, I find myself having a lot of fun and looking forward to turning it all in. I am also finding that not working right now is pretty awesome as far as having time to work on my assignments goes. Monday I was able to have coffee with a friend and then go on a shoot downtown for stuff for school. Today I am able to work on/tweak assignments due tomorrow. It's also been good for me and Bob since we are spending more time together and rebuilding what was torn down during my horrible work experience. It looks like I'm learning more than just about photography.

Interestingly, I've been trying to pick up assignments from the temp agency but so far it's been for naught. I've thrown my hat into the ring on several job postings but haven't even been called. Equally as interesting, we are doing OK financially so far. We have cut back on going out and on extraneous spending and driving. Still, we lack for nothing. We won Twins tickets through our apartment management office so Bob is taking his brother to the noon game tomorrow. We also have been given a great gift for our anniversary that I can't yet talk about but came at a time when I thought we'd have to abandon any plans of celebrating in a special way. All our bills are paid for this month and we have a full pantry and freezer so we are good to least for the next few weeks.

I do have to say that I have to fight my impulse to hoard. Not cats or collectibles but food and household items. When money comes in, I really have to fight running to the store to get stuff to stock in our pantry and freezer. We are good. We have all that we need and more and yet I find myself wondering, what if? So far I've been good about keeping the hoarding at bay but the urge is still pretty strong.

Spending time with Bob has been good. Last week we took a picnic lunch to a local park and had a good time eating, laughing, playing, and exploring. We found the park by just randomly driving around a lake and it was a lovely place to hang out on a breezy sunny day. Bob hunted and chased frogs while I took pictures and sat in the sun. We also played on the playground equipment and just generally goofed off. Yesterday we walked to our local polling place to vote in our primary. The day was warm and sunny and the walk was lovely. We have really enjoyed all the new time we've been able to spend together. It's been a great big gift.

The one big thing that still concerns me and has me struggling is health care. I got my COBRA letter yesterday and if we want to continue our health coverage as it was when I was working it would cost us about $900 a month! That's more than our rent. It would be like coming up with another mortgage or rent payment a month just for health care. Bob really has to get on the stick in talking to the social worker who is supposed to help him find a health care solution.

It is obvious that fall is upon us. Our temps have been chilly, the sun not quite as strong and warm as a month ago, and frost warnings and advisories permeate the local news weather reports. I'm not ready for winter but I do like autumn. I can only hope that our autumn lingers pushing winter back a few weeks or months. I don't have confidence in that happening but I can hope.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

One Week Unemployed

So I've been officially unemployed for a week now and I have to say that it agrees with me. So far, any way.

Our Labor Day weekend was uneventful to start. We didn't do much on Friday or Saturday. I cleaned and did laundry and...yeah that's about it. However, once Sunday rolled around we got busier.

Sunday afternoon we left home for Treasure Island Resort and Casino, the new home of the MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon. On the way we stopped by my friend and former co-worker's house to say hi. She was having an open house later in the day but because we couldn't make it then, we at least wanted to stop by and drop off a housewarming gift of a bottle of wine. Her house is cute and we liked seeing her and her fiance at their home.

We got to the casino around 2 and walked into the hotel to check in. There was a giant line of other people waiting to check in as well. When it was finally our turn, we were told there wasn't a handicapped room yet available but we said we would take whatever was ready. We were given a double queen room that was quite lovely. The room had a flat screen TV mounted to the wall. This was my first time in a hotel room with a flat screen and I felt quite fancy.

The telethon began Sunday night at 8 so after we checked in we had time to chill and to eat. We were given a free buffet coupon so we partook of a lovely meal of buffet food. I ate too much and had no room for dessert. They should give out coupons so you can go back later and get your pie!

The telethon was...a lot of things. I am thankful for the work Jerry Lewis does to raise money and awareness for the Muscular Dystrophy diseases but I think the telethon needs to be revamped. I think bringing in younger and hipper acts, celebs, and spokespeople would make the event more relevant to today. Still, the telethon managed to raise over $50 million nationally and about $1.2 million here locally, so that's pretty good.

I was the official event photographer and I had a blast. I had an official name tag identifying me as the event photographer and I was given free reign to capture the event as it unfolded and I think I did a pretty good job. It was a lot of time on my feet and they were killing me by the end of the event but I felt in my element and had so much fun with it. Some of my photos were featured on Twin Cities Live yesterday afternoon. It was really weird in a good way to see photos I took on popular local TV.

Bob met the president of the casino. Bob told him that he usually goes to Hinkley to play cards but now that he sees how funds are donated to MDA, he will change and come to Prairie Island. The president gave Bob his card and said he should call him directly when the card bug bites and he will take care of him personally. Bob said our anniversary is coming up and could he do something for us then? The president said to call him and he would personally see to our comfort. Whoo hoo! I wish they had a spa. I guess it's in the plan for the coming year but right now there is no spa. There is a pool/sauna/whirlpool area and a bowling alley so there is more to do than gamble. We could end up having a really nice anniversary at Treasure Island.

I had class again last night. It's weird to talk photography with my classmates, get all excited, share commonalities and frustrations and then find out that the girls you are talking to are 18 and just graduated from high school. I like it though. I like it because our passion is bringing us together to learn and grow and it's very exciting to me.

One thing that is weird is that I take pictures every day of different things like my flowers, my cats, my husband, our neighborhood. However I have one class assignment to take 24 photos of anything in the way I normally shoot and it's the hardest assignment I've had so far. I am being super picky and nothing is feeling good to me. The assignment is due Monday and so far I only have 12 of the 24 shots needed. I think I need more people shots. I am debating waiting for the school bus this afternoon and getting some shots of our neighbor kids getting home from school. Now that school has started, people are few and far between around here.

Monday's weather was hazy, hot, and humid. It felt like you could squeeze the air in front of you and get water dripping. Then yesterday was cloudy, rainy, and cold! I started the day in shorts but changed to jeans and a long-sleeved shirt soon after. Today is beautiful...sunny and breezy and not a cloud in the sky but it's only 65 degrees outside. Bob and I drove to the local MDA office to drop off a photo CD of the telethon pictures and then we picked up a pizza and drove to a local lake to have a picnic. The wind off the lake was chilly but the sun was warm and wonderful. We had a great time. I love spending time with my husband like that. I am glad that I am able to do so at this time.

My anxiety breathing is finally getting better. I believe it is because I am getting more and better rest, I am eating better, and I am getting exercise. I walk a bit every day...sometimes more than others. I am still feeling poorly about myself and my ability to do good work but I am hoping that will get better as I am away from the toxic workplace...I hope. I don't miss work. I don't miss Big Bank Co. I don't miss always worrying about the job I'm doing and what mistakes I might be making and who will catch them and when. I don't miss hearing gossip and slander and negative remarks spoken under the breath. I don't miss feeling like no matter what I did, I could do no right or good. I don't miss having a boss that didn't like me. I don't miss never knowing when the next shoe was going to drop. It was scary to quit, but it was the right thing to do. In the coming weeks, Bob and I will be formulating a plan for the future. I hope it turns out alright.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coming Clean

So I suppose I should write about what's really going on with me so I can keep track of things from today on.

Yesterday was my last day at Big Bank Company. The childishness, back-biting, tattling, divisiveness, and mismanagement finally became too much. The problems at work began to negatively affect my health, my marriage, and my self worth/outlook. Bob and I were fighting. I developed a terrible case of anxiety breathing and a possible ulcer, and I began to feel as if there was nothing I could do well. I wasn't sleeping. I was eating and drinking too much. It was just a bad situation. I couldn't find another job within Big Bank Co because of the written performance issue I incurred in May.

So after talking with Bob and praying about what to do, I signed on with a temp agency, started part time classes in professional photography, and quit my job.

Today was my first day of freedom. I slept until 7, was out the door by 7:30 for a walk. I walked 4 miles today and it was amazing. I felt more like me than I have in ages. I had class at 1pm so I got to school a tad early in order to experience the place at actual school hours instead of at night. I got a student ID. I sat through class. We were let out early so I came home and made dinner for me and Bob. Overall, it was a good day.

My friend and former co-worker came over to give Bob and haircut. She said I looked so happy...happier than she's ever seen me. I said I finally feel like me again.

Bob has said that he would prefer I did not accept a temp job for the month of September. He has enough business on ebay to get us through this first month so I've agreed to change my date of availability to Oct. 1st. He is meeting with a social worker and is filling out paperwork in order to sign up for Medicare and state health aid. He will be getting help from the state and we are also looking into possible state grants that will pay for me to stay home and take care of him as his PCA. As much as we are loathe to admit and accept it, his health is declining and the possibility of him falling or injuring himself is quite high. I am nervous about his being at home by himself because of his health limitations and the high probability of injury. In fact, I did not bring the cell with me on my walk today and as I neared our apartment complex an ambulance raced passed me. I realized that it could be Bob and quickened my steps to home. Thankfully, it wasn't Bob but I learned to always take the cell with me and expect the unexpected.

So, to more Big Bank Co. I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds my future and I am ready for whatever comes next. Both Bob and I felt that this was the right decision at the right time and though it may not seem like a wise decision in this economy, we know it was what was right for us. Life is short and our time together is precious. It should not be affected by a crappy job that has no place for growth, development, or movement.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sounds of a Storm

It was so hard getting out of bed this morning.  First off, I’ve been going to bed later than usual because my new school schedule is throwing me off.  Second of all, it is now officially still dark when I get up.  When did that happen?  What happened to my early morning sunrise?  Sigh.  Third of all, a lovely late summer storm blew in just as my alarm went off.  I turned my alarm off and stayed in bed and watched the lightning and listened to the thunder and rain.  It was heavenly but I wanted nothing more than to just stay in bed and drift off to sleep to the sounds of the storm.

Class last night was good but man; I am in for it as far as class work goes.  The class I had last night is a design class and there is a ton of reading and writing in addition to photo work.  Every week we have to write an essay on some aspect of design and there will be a review/biography of a photographer of our choice.  The nice thing about this class is that there are no tests. Whoot!  Something that surprised me is that students are not allowed to bring laptops to class.  Nor are they allowed to bring cell phones, pages, beepers, or blackberries.  AND we can’t bring personal listening devices to the computer labs.  I guess they have found these things to distract students from the business of schooling.  Who knew?

Another nice thing about this program is that I’ve been making connections with classmates.  It’s nice that I have many of the same people in my Monday and Tuesday classes since it helps me get to know people and put names to faces.  Last night I was able to chat and find common ground with two 18-year old young women.  I like that.  We bonded over the wonderful attributes of Flickr.

I really wondered how I would do in this program and I think it’s going to be great.  When I checked out Brown College and was told that their degree is a Bachelor’s and the program furnishes a Mac Book Pro laptop and Cannon Rebel xti, I really wanted to go there.  However, they didn’t have any evening courses and their program costs approximately $17,000 per year.  That doesn’t include the cost of books and fees.  The program where I’m currently enrolled is at the local tech school.  It’s a two year degree and teaches you to use your own camera to start.  I like that even though the majority of students have the obvious Cannon or Nikon, there are other students with Olympus, Sony, Pentax (me), and Fuji.  We all have different cameras which lend to our different perspectives and eyes.  I also like that we can get our own computers.  I will probably get a MAC since that is what we will be working on at school but right now I am trying to decide if I should get a laptop or desktop.  This program is practical, helpful, hopeful, encouraging, and so far…fun!

Tomorrow I have a lighting class and that’s my last class this week.  Well, it’s the last class unless I can get into the digital darkroom class that has been full since I registered.  I NEED to be in the digital darkroom class yet when I look at my workload right now I see that there is a lot more work involved than I would have anticipated so maybe it’s OK that I start out with only 3 classes right now.

I am looking forward to this weekend.  We are working at the annual MDA Labor Day Telethon.  It moved from the Mall of America to a local casino so we will be spending Sunday night at the casino hotel.  I am the unofficial official photographer and Bob is the unofficial official runner/guy Friday volunteer.  I’m not sure what we will be doing Saturday but I do know our apartment needs a thorough cleaning, we need to pay bills, and I need to give some attention to my patio garden.  Not to mention I now have homework.  So, we won’t be lacking for things to do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Learning I have a lot to learn

I was nervous about class last night.  I’ve been struggling with being 40 lately and thinking that sounds so old.  I was afraid that I would show up in this class and be the oldest person in the room.  I just had a lot of anxiety.  I think a lot of it stems from my job and the fact that no matter what I do, it’s not good enough and the fact that mistakes are sought out, pointed out, and made to be life and death.  So now I feel like I am not able to do anything well or that if I do, it will be dissected to the nth degree and every negative aspect picked apart.  This is what I was bringing to class.  Fun, huh?

Anyway, class was AWESOME!  Women outnumber men but there is a great age range.  In fact the table where I sat featured 3 other women close to my age so we were all able to chat about “old lady” stuff.  Our instructor was positive and encouraging.  He gave us our syllabus and assignment schedule and it’s kind of overwhelming but he was so excited for us that I became excited myself.  I am really going to get to know how to use my camera and its manual functions.  I am going to grow and learn and become an even better photographer and I am so excited.

There are people at all levels of talent and knowledge.  I am about in the middle (age and talent-wise).  I don’t know much about the RAW format and I’m a dummy when it comes to f-stops and apertures, but ask me about it all at the end of this class and I know I will have the knowledge to back up my answers and work.

I already have homework, reading, and prep for a pop quiz in that class.  I also have to purchase a wide angle lens and some sensor cleaners.  I’ve been meaning to get a wide angle lens so this will be a good way to get one and learn how to use it.

I have class again tonight too.  Last night’s class was Intro to Prof. Photography and tonight’s class is Photo Design.  Many of the same people I was in class with last night will also be in class with me tonight.  I am still trying to get into another class that is full and am hoping someone drops it in the next few days so I can add it and be set for the semester.

One thing made me feel so good last night.  Our instructor was trying to get a gauge for our knowledge and talent and asked us, “How many of you have family and friends that always love your work and tell you to do this for a job?”  About a quarter to half of us raised our hands.  The instructor then said that this indicates that we have a natural talent for lighting and composition and will probably really enjoy building on what we already know.  He also said it will be work and that we may get to a point where we get frustrated because, “shouldn’t we know all there is to know about photography already?”  But no.  If we ever get to a place where we aren’t constantly growing, learning, building, and getting better then we should hang up our cameras.

In response to my last post from earlier this morning, my friend Nan may have found a car.  One of my other friends actually had an old car she has been meaning to donate but hadn’t done yet.  Nan and her husband are going to check it out and it looks like it might work.  My friend is going to just give it to them if it works out and that is awesome.  LOVE!  IT!