Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Missed 15 Minutes of Fame

This is the story of how I missed my 15 minutes of fame by listening to my crazy paranoid self, which actually, for once worked in my favor. You see, I was thisclose to being on the TV show "I didn't know I was Pregnant."
Yeah, I could have been one of those people.

TMI Warning, for those of you who don't care to know that much about me, TURN AWAY NOW!! We won't judge:


I was supposed to get my period in March, when it didn't show up by day 50 in my cycle my first thought was "finally! Proof that my Thyroid really is a problem," and with that, I made an appointment with my doctor.

A simple blood test later (3/29) proved that my Thyroid was indeed failing. My doctor explained that chances are, it had impacted my "lady business" enough for me to not ovulate and therefore, not have a period. He ordered a prescription Thyroid replacement and told me that it would take a few weeks to kick in, that I probably wouldn't ovulate again in April, but that it would be enough of a hormone replacement to jump start a period sometime in April.

My birthday was on April 3 and Husband spoiled me rotten, he arranged for a massage, bought me a Nook, organized a brunch and generally took his naturally doting nature to the next level.*

By the time his birthday rolled around, we were deep in the throes of house hunting and making offers, and being outbid and the stress of that combined with work had really taken a toll on the both of us. We couldn't have been more relieved to get out of dodge for our Mystery Vacation in Monterey.

It wasn't until the first of May rolled around that I realized, I hadn't gotten a period again. This didn't worry me too much as I chalked it up to the medication taking longer to kick in, and went on with my life.

We made an offer on our first home, entered escrow and had joked with our realtor that the next big thing we could think about was a baby, but that wasn't for awhile.

Mother's Day rolled around and as we were leaving my parent's house after Sunday dinner I wished my mom a Happy Mother's Day and she said "You too?" I gave her a look and said "No, and even if I was, this isn't how I'd tell you. But no, I'm not."**

By the second week of May, with no period in sight and me still not too worried, except for the fact that maybe my meds were off, Husband brought home a box of pregnancy tests.

"Just take one, either way you'll know what's up and if you need to see the Dr. again."

So I obliged.

Now first, let me explain that these were not any pregnancy test you see advertised on television. They were your average pee on a stick and wait test, but First Response or EPT they were not. These were clearance, bottom shelf, generics called, I shit you not, Answers First (you see what they did there? Answers First =/= First Response).

I read the clear as mud directions and payed extra special attention to the results key which clearly indicated that:

(      I ) = not pregnant            and          ( I    I ) = pregnant

From this I deduced that the right-most line was the "test" line, the line that indicated whether or not the test had been administered correctly, and that the left-most line was the indicator of a hitch hiker or not.

Easy enough, right?***

My test result came back as this:

Not my actual test. Does that make it more or less creepy and gross??
The first line is very clear but the test line was very faint, which to me, meant that I hadn't peed on it correctly (how you pee on something wrong, I guess I'll never know). I emerged from the bathroom, test in hand, showed it to Husband and said "Nope!"

After a few minutes of hemming and hawing over the results and the test instructions all he could offer was "I don't know babe, I kinda think you are." I tampered any growing excitement he had with my expertise on reading pregnancy tests**** and explained that if the test line doesn't show up, it's a false positive.***** That was on a Tuesday.

He insisted I take another a few days later and so, to get the most accurate results, I took it first thing in the morning on the following Saturday. I got the same result.

The following week after several stressful conversations about the affordability of our new house and whether or not we were sure it was "the one," Husband decides to drop a bomb on me one night while I'm home alone and he's working late.

"I was talking to (co-worker) L today and she said her sister had the same test results as you and she really was pregnant."

At that point the stress and overwhelming nature of it all crashed down on me and I, in a panic, called my sister in sobs. No sooner had she answered I was blurting out, through tears, "I think I'm pregnant."

I retold her the events of the previous several weeks and test results and she simply suggested we go buy a digital test that would tell us, without the codes of pink lines, flat out whether or not there was reason for panic. She also reminded me that even if I was, I shouldn't be crying and that it was exciting and fun and that I'd have the same reactions and support from most everybody.

That night, well after any reasonable hour, Husband and I purchased a Clear Blue digital test. I went to the bathroom and within three seconds of my "taking" the test I had my answer:

Again, not my actual test...
 That was May 11th. On May 18th we told my parents, and, to keep this story short, we had a doctor's appointment on May 19th at which point I figured I'd be a few weeks along, maybe 2-4.

I was 8 weeks and 5 days, baby had a beating heart and was starting to look more like a baby than a blob. The doctor cheerfully told me I was nearly through my first trimester and was 90% out of the woods for miscarriage as a heartbeat could be found and heard and baby was developing normally.

I just stared with my mouth open. The pregnancy itself was a surprise, but being two months in already was downright shocking. She calculated the conception date as right around April 3-4.******

Suddenly, things I had previously written off as stress or upset tummy all made sense. I had been tired alot and falling asleep earlier on weeknights (stress of buying a house and work), on Mother's Day, Monster made bacon-wrapped shrimp and I couldn't stand to look at or smell the things, (just a funky tummy, not hungry for bacon-wrapped shrimp).

And then I remembered all the stupid things I'd done that could have hurt the little nugget (it's amazing how attached to it you get when you realize you're expecting a baby) I'd had sips of wine, I'd sat in ocean water drenched underwear kayaking with 100 ton sea lions, I'd spent two evenings in a hot tub, I'd skipped dinner, and marinated myself in Diet Coke.

The doctor assured me that none of those things had negatively impacted our child-to-be, and told me to relax, enjoy the remaining 6.5 months of the pregnancy and to have a nursery ready by Christmas Day, our due date. I left surprised at this new development and overjoyed at this gift that had been unknowingly bestowed upon me.

Husband and I are thrilled at becoming parents, and mom's super happy she's not getting a toilet grandbaby, and honestly, I am too.

*  No, that is not a euphamism.

** Keep in mind she knew I'd started Thyroid meds, but had NO IDEA I'd missed another period.

*** Wrong!

**** That's sarcasm, I can count on one hand the number of pregnancy tests I've taken and they have all been out of paranoia, not out of actual hope

***** I now know there is no such thing as a false positive

****** Apparently those Thyroid meds work pretty quick

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest post!

Today's post comes to you from The Dude, my dear ol Daddy, and probably the person from whom I get my storytelling and writing abilities. New to the blogging scene, he spends his days chained to his home office, working his hands to the bones on "simulations" (please don't ask me what this means as my eyes tend to glaze over when he goes into too much detail. Suffice it to say, it's computer stuff- motherboards, ram, bits, bites, cpu and the like- I also have little understanding of what those words mean :) ) , tooling around with his guitars and reading his favorite blog, mine. Without further ado, I give you The Dude:

Also, you should know that my nickname growing up was switch, flip flop and toggle. This was because of my keen ability to go from deliriously happy to downright pissed and every emotion in between with the flip of a switch. My question to you is, this is a bad thing?! Alright, as you were....

It’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it.

Early in the hunt for a house by Switch and McMan (you know him here as Husband), the Mrs and I tagged along to see a few of their candidate homes. We drove our Mini Cooper, dubbed the clown car by some, and the four of us followed the Realtor to the selections.

The first, was one Switch and McManhad already seen and were wanting our opinion as to whether to make an offer.The house was well within their budget and would have been a fine starter home. But it was very plain and in a neighborhood that seemed it could go either way in the near future and the Mrs. And I probably appeared skeptical. This may have started to tickle the Switch’s frustration in that she may have been hoping for a nod that would cement her confidence in this selection.

Switch is my second daughter and although she is head strong and very capable of handling anything, she would prefer everything go smoothly and without conflict. So when first presented with an obstacle she sometimes must first throw the crazy fit, before settling down and then cruising through the concern until arriving at the end in perfect poise and harmony.

To her, conflict is like a rollercoaster ride. She waits in line whimpering, puking and wanting the Dumbo ride instead. Sometimes as a child she would exit the line early and then feel regret for not knowing what the ride might have been.

Then she met McMan, who is more thrilled by the movie trailer than the movie itself. So with his excitement of anticipation Switch has learned to steel her courage long enough until her turn to slide into the rocket car. She holds her breath to the top of the first hill and tries to distract her fear by the fact that McMan has his arms in the air and is whooping up the anticipation of the first drop.

At the end of the ride, which is almost always just a little short of the promise, Switch is finally proud she made it through and can’t believe that she was all worked up for nothing. McMan is never disappointed because he puts the effort into believing it was just what was promised and sees no satisfaction in finding small defects. Then they both run together, hand inhand, to the end of the line to go again.

This roller coaster process is applied by these two to many activities, including buying a house. And when this process takes place and Switch begins to fret the ride, McMan has found many means of distraction and diffusing Switch’s anxiety over the coming impediments, some we have seen before and some we have yet to.

Most of McMan’s tactic’s are what you would expect: calming words, consolation, words of encouragement, a hug; the same things we had done as Switch’s parents when we saw that Switch was in need of decompression.

But on this day, the day the Mrs. and I were tagging along, the process appeared to be in play and we were to learn a new one.

After viewing the first house which only got our tacit approval and not a definitive, 'yes buy this house and all will be wonderful,' we went to a second house that from the outside appeared like a much better candidate.

It was a corner lot with landscaped character and an oasis of a backyard with patio and screened in porch that would have been ideal for entertaining. It had the look of a well kept older home in an established neighborhood.

As we stood outside, in a line, waiting for the Realtor to find the key, you could feel a bit of anticipation start to build.

But, the Realtor could not find the key and although an appointment had been made and confirmed, we could not gain access into the house. Disappointed and out of time we all started cramming back into the clown car.

The Mrs. and Switch bent, folded and squeezed behind the front seat into the back of the two door and McMan and I took our places in the front. The little disappointments of the day and the fact that Mom and Dad were spending their time on what now appeared to be a hunt akin to chasing a greased pig and, as Switch’s earlier blog described, turned out to be even worse, were building up in Switch.

As we pulled away from the last house and headed for home Switch began a small litany of 'I am tired of” statements. I don’t remember the exact list but it was probably something like,'I am tired of looking at houses we can’t afford,' 'I am tired of working with these flakey realtors,' 'I am tired of the sacrifices we have made to save all this money to buy a house and we can’t find even one that meets our needs,' 'I am tired of squeezing in and out of this car,' 'I AM TIRED…'

As the apparent storm brewed the Mrs., McMan and I stared forward in our respective seats and at least the Mrs. and I were preparing for the worst which was only going to be made worse by the close confines of our clown car.

Suddenly, without motion and in a clear stern voice, McMan interrupts her litany with “I AM TIRED OF YOUR MOUTH BEING OPEN."

Immediately following that sentence you could not hear anything in the car. I believe this was partially due to the fact that there was no air in the car as the Mrs. and I both inhaled so deeply that we created a vacuum in which no sound could be made.

Expecting that the air that returned to the car was to be laced with a screaming litany of words I would not print, the Mrs. and I both tensed our muscles and took defensive positions.

Instead, what we heard was peals of laughter and the words,“Oh Husband, you always know just what to say.”

The Mrs. and I have since adopted this phrase for diffusing and we use it often.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Househunting is HELL

I sometimes really question the sanity of those people who actually LIKE shopping for new homes (I'm looking at you Mom). Then again, she may have changed her tune after hearing tales of Husband and my recent 7 month personal hell that was househunting.

Granted we had a fabulous realtor who really worked her tush off to find us exactly what we were looking for and even worked like the Dickens to keep us in our price range, but when push came to shove, helped us realize that maybe going above our ideal budget wasn't such a bad thing.

I guess only time will tell on that last bit :/

Anyways, because it's been 7 months since we started and we easily walked through most homes that are or have ever been on the market in the Sacramento region, I'll spare you the long, drawn-out version and just give you the highlight reel:

- The "Holy S#*! this is the best our budget has to offer?!" house: This was the very first house Husband and I walked through with our first, not-so-great realtor who, as nice as she was, just really didn't know what we were looking for. We had an appointment set late one night in November or December to look at what looked on the MLS to be a really cute 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house in Roseville just in the $200,000 price range. Yes, it was pushing our limits, budget-wise, but we figured we'd take a look anyways. After all, just because they're asking for $200k doesn't mean they get $200K. Where to start? the kitchen floor was a wood laminate that had been damaged mutilated by a leaky pipe from under the sink which meant that the cabinet under the sink was basically a grow room for mold. And I'm not talking about penicillin here, I'm talking the kind of mold that requires new cabinets and inevitably, new flooring. The carpets in the living/family room were so badly stained and poorly installed that the room literally had topography. The backyard was so badly overgrown and wild, it was thisclose to being granted sanctuary as a nature reserve. Upstairs, the walls were so dotted with dents and holes, I'm sure a blind person could have found the complete works of Shakespeare in braille. Needless to say, we didn't make an offer and instead I went home and cried.

- The "Megan shows her true colors" house: This was a "surprise" house our realtor sprung on us one day while househunting with Mommy Dearest and The Dude. She gave us the address and we caravaned over to the Citrus Heights home that boasted 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and came in at $175, much closer to our intended budget. The only downside was that our GPS sent us though the dregs of Citrus Heights society to get to the house and by the time we pulled up, I wasn't convinced that this was the house for us purely because of where it was located. I was ready to pull away sight unseen, but Mommy Dearest and Husband, ever the optimists, said "what's the harm in looking?" The harm was that it was GORGEOUS inside, completely updated with hardwood bamboo floors, granite countertops, completely spotless and staged to sell, the laundry room was huge and also had lovely granite countertops and gorgeous cabinetry, every square inch was painted in designer colors but dammit, why did the GPS have to send us through the Ghetto?!? Just as I was starting to convince myself that maybe I could fit in there, mom and I were chatting in the front bedroom that overlooked the street to get a "read" on the neighborhood when a light blue towncar drove by with the windows down and a black gentleman in the front seat. As he drove by he began to slow down and began to pull his hand out of the window. Expecting the worst, I screamed "Mom!! Get down!" and I immediately hit the deck. Mom nearly busted a gut laughing at me, as the poor black gentleman was merely pointing out the "For Sale" sign in the front yard to his wife, sitting in the passenger seat. "Ok, I can't live here....I'm too chicken shit," I said. "And racist," Mom said, wiping tears from her eyes.

- The "Mouse" house: This one really needs no explanation, and honestly I couldn't tell you much about this house because I've blocked it out. All I know is that it was FILTHY. The carpet was black, except for where the furniture was, and the walls in major traffic areas were grey and brown. As if the owners were using them as their hand towels when they walked down the halls. The microwave looked like food had exploded from within, and no one had bothered to clean it up ever, it was coated. But by far, the worst was when we looked at the sink, which, due to mold and mildew was falling into the cabinet on which it sat, there was a dead mouse in the food trap. It was as if the poor guy had tried to escape the horrible living conditions and didn't quite make it out. But the kicker is this - people were still living there. How the hell long had that mouse been there? I didn't need to see more than that, I'm pretty sure I left skidmarks with how quickly I evacuated that hole.

- The "Shut it down" house: The memory of this house was too creepy to ever block out. It was in a cute little neighborhood in Roseville and from all outward appearances looked pretty promising...until we got to the front door. As our Realtor was searching for the lock box, I looked up and noticed a big metal tube with a lock hanging above the front door. I didn't vocalize the oddity at first, but in hindsight, I probably should have. The vacant house had all tile floors in the living spaces, which Husband had already said he hated because it was too cold and made the rooms echo. So dock one point for that. As we walked into the bedrooms, we noticed that none of the rooms had carpet, instead they were concrete floors that had been painted. Weird. We also noticed in the garage that the house was wired for closed circuit cameras and there was a TV monitor for the cameras mounted in the laundry room. Ok, double weird. As we checked out the backyard via the sliding door in the master bedroom, I noticed the locked metal tube again over the sliding door. It was then that I recognized what it was, a rolling, bulletproof, safe door that locked into the floors. It was then that I realized that all of the windows had safe doors over them and there were no windows facing the front of the house. What the hell were these people hiding from?! As I looked around the backyard, I got my answer. The neighbor that backed up to the home had a huge yard with 4-6 shed/outbuildings that looked like people were living in them. The main house itself had blackout curtains and quilts covering all doors and windows and each of the out buildings had window coverings as well. At that point I didn't care if there was a toilet made of solid gold in the house, there was no way in hell I was going to live there.

- The "Squatter" house: All you need to know about this house is this; when we opened the door to the "vacant" house, we noticed a mattress in the front room cozeyed up to the fireplace which had recently housed a small fire. There was a cooler, a wicker chair that appeared to have been pulled from a dumpster, a pile of dirty clothes, a weeks worth of newspapers and a roll of toilet paper. Oh, and the back door had been left slightly ajar. That was all I needed to see, I didn't need to start my homeownership by evicting a squatter, thanks.

- The "Door that leads to your impending death" house: This house made the Winchester Mystery house look like a cute cottage starter home. The remodel was so horribly bad, just getting in the front door was maze-like. The best feature, I think, one that was probably bummed off the ol' Winchester house, was the upstairs bathroom. Clearly the owners had run out of money to complete their crazy remodel plans because, when you opened the second floor bathroom door, there was the backyard! The toilet, sink and shower had been removed and all that remained was a 3-walled plywood shell of a bathroom. Only three walls, the back wall was MIA and the floor just stopped and dropped off into the backyard. Husband and I took one look, shut the door and said "Nice try, what else have you got?"

And finally, the one that blows them all out of the water there's "The One": By May, Husband and I were discouraged and frustrated with our search. We'd put offers on 5 potential homes and all but one had fallen through, but the one still in flux I had doubts about. One day, while searching through the portal, a home in Lincoln popped up that looked promising. Our Realtor said the home had just been placed back on the market because the previous buyer's loan had fallen through. Luckily, the homeowners had a few other prospective offers, but were willing to vacate the house for a few hours that evening. It was a Monday night  in early May that Husband and I met at the house and walked through for the first time. The 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house had a nice open floorplan that flowed nicely, a huge master bedroom and suite, and 3 bedrooms that were all good sized. The house was perfect, and what made it all better was that it was an equity sale. No dealing with a bank, no "short" sale process (a short sale is a ridiculous name because there's nothing friggen short about it), and plenty of wiggle room on the asking price. After a discussion with the selling agent, Husband and I came up with our best offer, which was considerably lower than the asking price, but still a bit out of our budget.

By Tuesday we were in escrow, and a short 24 days later, we were homeowners.

Welcome Home!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mystery vacation update

Tonight we were supposed to meet Mommy Dearest and The Dude to discover the super secret locale of our vacation. Here's what we got instead:

- A blue sandpail filled with packets of crackers and cocoa almonds, a list of things to pack, and 6 envelopes labeled Directions, Hotel, Gas, What to do, Food and Photo Scavenger Hunt.

The list of things to pack included basics like a light jacket, comfortable shoes, a bathing suit and pajamas (optional, according to Mommy Dearest). This made packing a chore that kept Husband and I up well past midnight. I must have had 7 outfits layed out for our 3 day vacation and was thisclose to packing all 7, but at the last minute I was able to pare it down to just 5 outfits.

The next morning, we opened the first envelope which led us to......Monterey! Except, the directions Mommy Dearest provided were to the hotel right on cannery row, despite the fact that our reservation was actually for the hotel about 5 miles away. Oh, Mom :)

Here are a few snapshots from our FABULOUS vacation:

The view from the road to Monterey

Husband looking through the "Things to Do" envelope

A Photo for Mom
In front of the Infamous Cannery Building

Wine Tasting

These guys are like "What the heck are you staring at?

Looks like someone needs a brownie

Husband's feet, fresh from the Pacific and covered in sand

Penguins at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Yes, please keep your top on, this is a family place



Just us and the big blue ocean

Starfish in the sand

Pink Flamingos

By far one of my most favorite creatures at the
Aquarium, a Sea Feather Anemone

It was at this point that my camera ran out of batteries and guess who left the charger at home??

After the aquarium Husband and I went ocean Kayaking where we played hide and seek with Sea Lions and yours truly accidentally harassed a bear of a Sea Lion while he was hanging out on a Mooring ball.

Be warned, these buggers are WILEY! While we were sailing around, our guide told us about a Catamaran that had been taken over by a crowd of Sea Lions that had turned the boat into a bit of a party house. And it just so happened that the owner of the boat, who had left it in the harbor unsupervised for two weeks, showed up to evict the partiers: