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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolving the Resolution

I am not one who is fond of New Year's resolutions. In fact, I, under most circumstances, view them as an individual's response to an annual formality or obligation. A have to do. Not a want to do.

Every year the media engages this philosophy picking at the brains of those who are vulnerable. Gyms offer specials on memberships. Sporting good stores offer best price sales on exercise equipment. Then there are always those companies who are looking to help with debt management or savings. Anything really to start out the new year on a totally clean slate. Anything to substantiate that one will be a better human being than they were the year prior. Anything to show self-improvement.

Call me pessimistic, but how many successful New Year's resolutions have you seen? I haven't seen many. The success stories I have had the opportunity of observing are not of those who wanted improvement for one measly year, but those who opted for a lifestyle change, something that would better themselves for the long term. These types of people decide they need a change in a certain arena of their life, be it weight, money, relationships, etc., and just do it. Change for these types of people is not warranted by the strike of a clock or day on a calendar or, better yet, a tradition shared by the masses. It is simply executed after the observation for change is made.

I digress.

Let's discuss alternatives for the traditional New Year's resolution by taking a futuristic approach. I will use myself as the example.

More recently, within the last twelve-ish months, I came to grasps with the daunting task of furthering my education. That's right folks, college. Yuck. Sorry, but just yuck.

Now following the traditional New Year's resolution approach, I would have strategically placed this goal around the corner from the first of the year at spring semester enrollment. This is not the avenue I chose. Instead, I enrolled as soon as I possibly could with the understanding that I would take small bites at a time while my wife, Sara, finishes the endeavor of obtaining her R.N. She only has one more year to go, people! I can almost see the finish line. There it is! There it is!

Why did I enroll immediately after being slapped in the face with the realization that one may as well be defined as professionally unsuccessful if they don't have a degree? Well, because this is a life changing resolution, one that required prompt action for many reasons. I will list only a few:
1. Knowledge doesn't amount to much without a degree. I have come to terms that the professional world leans more on paper than on information. This opinion is based solely on experience.
2.  Degree = more money. Hopefully...
3.  More money = able to better provide for my family and our needs and wants. Hopefully...

So down the road of education I travel. For this resolution I have selected a technical college as the atmosphere for which I am using to expand my mind. I am not one for institutionalized learning, so this choice was ideal for me because it expands learning beyond the book into the real world; also known as "hands-on" learning.

I digress again.

It is important to keep in mind that these types of resolutions do not normally provide immediate success. In my case, it will be a few years before I have the prized paper, my diploma, in my hand to help me with the reasons 1, 2, and 3 above as well as those that are unlisted. But, remember, there will be small milestones or successes along the way, i.e. me getting over 95%+ in the classes I have completed thus far. Use these to keep you motivated and see you through to the resolutions completion whether that is next month, next year, or next decade.

If you're a resolutioner, a New Year's resolutioner, or something in-between good luck and may the force be with you now, in 2012, and beyond.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Name Game (and a Gender Disclosure)

Sara and I woke up early on Christmas morning, or I should say our slumber was abruptly interrupted by an anxious three year old.

"Go potty," I directed Graisyn, "I'll be right there." She obliged and I lugged my heavy legs out of bed as Sara herself started to stir.  I met Graisyn in the bathroom where we completed our morning routine. 

With our teeth brushed and our hair combed, the three of us trumped down the stairs. Of course we were still in our pajamas, a true tradition for Christmas morning. Sara and I directed Graisyn to the Christmas tree. She was pleased with the abundance of presents she saw and immediately brought out her grabby hands. Let the opening begin!

After a few presents, Sara and I told Graisyn it was our turn. The Christmas card in which the ultrasound technician placed the pictures of our baby's gender was sealed and sitting on the upper boughs of our Christmas tree. Sara retrieved the card and gently released the seal of the envelope. We were all silent. Me. My wife. Our daughter. Quiet. Sara slid the Christmas card from the envelope very slowly. And, just as slowly it seemed, she opened it. We flipped through the pictures. A boy. Though his gender was typed on the photos, it was very evident that we were having a baby boy. Sara and I were and are thrilled. We would have been either way, boy or girl. Graisyn not so much. She didn't cry, but she has mentioned on multiple occasions that she is still having a baby sister. Sorry sweetie. The photos don't lie.

A boy. A little lad that we will raise to be proud, kind, and independent like Graisyn. A young man who will know what it means to respect a woman. A tike who will spend his growing days surrounded by estrogen. Poor little sap. I hope he fairs well. The only other source of testosterone in the house is our dopey boxer, Abbott, and he was neutered so I'm not even sure he counts.

Ahhh, yes. A boy. What shall we call him? When Sara and I chose Graisyn's name, our selection was based on originality and character. We wanted a name that was strong and spontaneous. We wanted a name that was spirited and free, a name that spoke of an old soul. We wanted a name that suggested leader, but that had empathetic notes to it. Graisyn Quinn. I think we hit all of those qualities and then some. Our little girl has given us a run for our money since the day she was born. She is brilliant. I am biased, but she is brilliant. Her name fits. She is a Graisyn Quinn.

Our son requires a name of the same stature. When he is called, he should feel proud. His name should be stalwart yet humble. And, in an effort to pull from the character from his grandfathers, he should share part of their name. Joseph. The first name of Sara's dad and the middle name of my dad. It will be his middle name.

Since we found out that Sara is pregnant, we created a running list of names. On that list was one name in particular that stood out. Kazmer. Sara plucked it out of the baby name book that we borrowed from the local library. I was surprised that she liked it. That name is dear to my heart and the heart of my family.

The name Kazmer belonged to a long time family friend and neighbor. He passed away about five years ago, but was a man that I knew for most of my life. He was a war veteran. His battle wounds from decades earlier were still present when he grandfathered me, my brother, and my sister. Mr. Kaz was belly-buttonless. He had a glass eye and the wounds on his knees still wept even after all those years. He walked with canes, but he was strong and he never faltered nor did he ever complain of the pain that I am quite sure he was in.

Mr. Kaz mentored my father. A true and honest man, he wrote on the slate of who my dad is today. If my dad needed "alone time" he would go see Kaz. They would watch sports. I'm sure they would bitch about their wives (shame on you both). Sometimes in the summer they would sit outside and smoke cigars. Maybe they drank scotch, but I don't know about that one. They were pals. I remember when Kaz died my dad was very, very sorrowful. We all were.

So in honor of Kaz, in respect of our fathers, and in line with the name of his astounding big sister, our son will be called Kazmer Joseph. May his disposition be as true as those he was named for.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Patience is a Virtue

Sara is 21 weeks along and today was ultrasound day! What did we see? Well, we saw a squirmy, healthy, growing baby. A baby, you see, that insisted on putting its tiny hands over its face for most of the ultrasound. The ultrasound technician snuck a couple of pictures in though.

What kind of baby it is you ask? Human of course. A boy? A girl? We don't know. The big reveal with be Christmas morning. Stay tuned. Here are a couple of pictures to entertain you while you wait. Don't get chair-butt.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Recently, at work, I sat in a meeting with my peers. We all have the same job. We phone people. It's really very exciting stuff. Our meeting was with a sales coach. He was a droll, older man with whom we had contracted to mentor us. All week, his ambition was to make our calls more effective and create a sense of cohesiveness between the sales unit and the marketing unit. Ultimately, despite my ability to be overwhelmed with emotion for week's events, I found him to be prudent and commonsensical with a bout of hilarity.

One evening, after the days summits, everyone was going to meet for drinks. It was to be a pleasant gathering with wine and cocktails and an appetizer or two coupled with the bar's televisions sounding the night's sporting events. Not me though. First, I don't like people that much. Second, I don't get to see my family as often as I'd like. Third, I have homework. Fourth, I try my very best to not mix alcohol with work. Fifth, I am full of excuses. So I mentioned my excuses, most of them, to my peers and my coach. It was excepted in the past without issue, so why would today be any different? 

And it wasn't different. Not that different anyway. In fact, the only difference was that one of my peers brought up my family and was raving about what a beautiful little girl "we" have and that "we" are expecting another. Coach didn't know about my family. Everyone else had talked about theirs. Not me. I'm a private person, but I was sure this was going to be the moment. Insert disclaimer here because that statement makes it sound like I am ashamed of my family. Please let it be known I am nothing of the sort, thus the entire reason why I was so taken aback by my emotions that day. In the midst of the ramblings about our child, I felt myself want to jump up and scream, "Okay! You got me! I'm G-A-Y! That's right. Gay. Actually, the technical term is lesbian, but I am completely turned off by that word most of the time, so let's go with gay. I have a wife, Sara, and a daughter, Graisyn. Nope. I'm not pregnant, but my pretty lady is expecting our second child. We live a normal life. We have two dogs. We go to school. We work. I cook. Sara cooks. We like wine, but Sara not so much right now. Remember, she's pregnant. Not me. Her. Graisyn is three. She is a perfectly well adjusted child despite the fact that she asked once at swimming lessons where her daddy was. It was only once and I told her everyone's family is different...even those with a mom and a dad. She agreed and we went on to swimming. Grai refers to me as mommy and Sara as mumma. I anticipate the new baby will do the same. Sigh. Can someone please get ME a drink? Yes, after work. No, not with all of you. Please and thank you."

There was no reason for my silent tangent. Never mind that my brain is a little sporadic. Forget that I have an imagination. The conversation never got that involved. Phew! It never went "there", and even if it did who cares? I wouldn't care. Not me. Not the real me. I don't typically care too much about what people think. That day I did. That day I was afraid of being judged and, more than that, I was afraid of my family being judged. That day I was scared. Shitless. And I didn't like it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Trippin' on Tryptophan

Don't blame the turkey for your sleepy haze this Thanksgiving. Tryptophan does its job best on an empty tummy. So, unless you're indulging on birdie alone, blame your lack of self control for your bleak state of unconsciousness. Don't fret. There's always a little black Friday madness to light those extra calories on fire. You can do it! I know you can! And I? Well I will be locked away in my house thinking about you and being very, VERY thankful for my solitude. What are you thankful for this year? I'm thankful for (not by order of importance):

1. Thank-you cards. Not for everything, but for major life events. Thank-you cards should be sent for baby showers, weddings, graduation gifts, etc., etc. These little notes, while usually ending up in the next week's recyclables, show testament to a person's character. They demonstrate gratefulness and appreciation. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. A little thanks goes a long way.

2. Red wine. Now please, somebody, pour me a glass of Zin. Thank you!

3. Sarcasm. There isn't enough of it in this world. Wit does the body good (might also explain why I don't have a lot of friends).

4. My family. Obviously. If you're not thankful for the people you live with, there is something wrong with you...or them. I'm thankful for my extended family too.

5.  My job. No, it's not my dream job. It's not what I want to be doing for eternity, but it pays the bills and keeps my family fed. For that, I am thankful.

6. My legs. Some people don't have theirs and I like mine.

7. Chocolate chips. The bittersweet kind. Milk chocolate sucks. We eat chocolate chips every night. Mmmmmmmm. Melted with Annie's chocolate bunny cookies to dip in them. There is a God.

8. Coffee. It's not even the caffeine part I need. I'm okay with decaf. too. It's just that it's part of my morning ritual. My coffee must be naked. My coffee must be scalding. My coffee must accompany me on my drive to work. If not, then I am bitchy. My apologies for anyone who has experienced this. Thank-you for your tolerance.

9. Text messaging. Conversations this way can be ended quickly. Let me tell you how ideal this is for someone who doesn't like people.

10. Money. Not to spend. Just to save. And we don't have a ton of it, so every little bit I am thankful for.

11. Dopplers. They let you know that life is there even when it can't be felt or seen. 160 beats per minute of thankful.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Be thankful this day and every day. Don't eat too much. Don't spend too much. And, for goodness sake, remember your damn thank-yous.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Open Season

Tis the season for year-end reviews, 401K election, and benefit open enrollment. Tis the season that I begin praying that everything health insurance figures itself out so that I don't have to deal with it. Lord knows, if we make the wrong health insurance election, we'll be paying for it, literally, all year. Tis the freaking season.

The pessimist you hear in the paragraph above is one created out of fear and misunderstanding. We shall not let this pessimist overshadow the overwhelming gratefulness it also feels. Yes, both Sara and I, the pessimist, work for companies that extend domestic partner benefits. Thank you, fellow employers, for entering the 21st century. Your efforts to contribute to our equality are appreciated.

So this year Sara and I had the choice of three plans. That's right. Three. All medical. There were two different high deductible plans, one through my work and one through hers, and a co-pay plan through hers. The goal for 2012 was to move the health insurance coverage to my work so Sara could work part-time instead of full. She deserves it. She's pregnant and putting in 80-100 hour weeks between work and school. A step back to focus on finishing school strong and delivering a healthy baby is long overdue.

Our biggest considerations for the 2012 insurance year are my pregnant wife and the baby we are expecting in May. The pregnancy crosses over the years 2011 and 2012. From a health insurance perspective, this means we get poked in the pooper with two deductibles. One for 2011. One for 2012. It also means I didn't take out enough medical flex spending for 2011 which I learned this week doesn't matter anyway. You see, Sara carries our health insurance making her ineligible for my flex spending. Duh and son of a bitch. Really, really poor planning on our part.

All woes aside, the obvious solution was to go with the plan that had the lowest per person/per family deductible. Easy enough. It was a five minute conversation. The plan would cost a bit more per month, but it would also cover way more than the high deductible plans we had as an alternative and that we were currently on. The plan we elected, a co-pay plan, was offered only through Sara's employer. Hold the phone. WHAT?! How would that work? She's going to be working part-time. Aww man! We are going to get boinked with a $2,500 deductible plan. F-U-dge! That's supposed to be adoption money. What am I supposed to say? Sorry kid, couldn't afford to claim ya. Wait. We can flex the deductible. That might work. Who's taking out the flex spending this year? Me? Ahhhhh-POP! Woman down! Woman down! You got me health insurance. Nice. Clean. Shot.

Huh? What did you say, honey? I couldn't hear you over my silent temper tantrum. You get benefits as a part-time employee? Really?! And they only cost a teensy-weensy bit more. Sign us up! Ah. I could just kiss you. Still gotta add a bit more to the savings though. Sara gently reminds me that we are saving. We're always saving. This is really her polite way of telling me to shut-up. But I don't. I continue.

Sara, it's kind of like what your dad says about cars and homes. You know that if it has a VIN or an address it's going to cost money. I think kids have to be added to that list. If they have your DNA, and in some cases even if they don't, they will cost money. The best things in life aren't free. I just want to make sure we are financially secure. This whole health insurance thing threw me a curve ball.

At this point I am getting shut-up eyes. Okay. Got it. We have insurance. We have have jobs. We have a roof over our heads. We're good. Shutting up now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

White Picket Fence

When I was a small, I dreamt big. I wanted to be a veterinarian. Every animal that crossed my path, I wanted to care for. I was utterly consumed with them. With two dogs and some fish, I suppose I still am. Then I grew up a little bit. I wasn't opposed to veterinary school, but I thought archeology and paleontology would better suit my fancy. Who wouldn't want to dig around in some dusty desert far away with other weirdoes equally as obsessed with bones and dinosaurs and all things past? Picture it. Just me and my family and our little satchel of hand picks and whisk brooms burying ourselves in this enormous time capsule we call the earth. Heaven.

Later yet, I wanted to be an artist. I knew that becoming an earth digger was far fetched, so I considered art. I was great at art. Haven't tested my skills recently, but I could do a thing or two with a brush and some water colors. I thought maybe I could incorporate a bit of writing in-between my painting, but someone shouted, "starving artist!" Not awesome. So, art it wasn't and my writing has since become a hobby.

Low and behold I did not attend college. I moved out of my parent's home as soon as I could and, given that move, could not afford college. I had to work. I held a job at the drugstore I worked at throughout my high school career, but I soon learned my paychecks from them were't going to cut it. The fun (not), monotonous task of job hunting began. I found a job at a local insurance agency. I was proud. I was a real adult now. Playing in the big leagues. Leaping feet first into Corporate America. Becoming a productive member of society. Blah.

Making a whopping nine bucks an hour, I earned my insurance license and put it to use. My job was to service existing customers. I answered questions they had on their policies, took applications for auto and home coverage, and took premium payments. I also cold-called. I was a sales driver. I was a phone nazi. People hated me. I hated me. I needed a change.

So what did I do? I applied at another insurance company. You bet. Couldn't leave it behind I guess. At this new, much better company where the grass was lush and vibrant green, I worked as a customer service representative. I spent my days plugging away on a computer and servicing customers with this or that. I was satisfied. I wouldn't say I was living the dream. That would be a stretch, but I was content. I was able to do my work and leave it right where it belonged. At work. Plus I got the bonus of working for a company that appreciated me. The pay was better. They offered an atmosphere conducive to growth and development. They had the best interest of their employees in mind. Sure, the ladies had to wear pantyhose, but outside of that, it was wonderful.

Of course, like most Corporate Americans, I wanted to to spread my wings. Since I was in a company that would allow me to do so, I thought sales and marketing perhaps. A move like that might give me an opportunity to use my writing. I could be creative. I applied for a position as a sales assistant figuring it would get my foot in the door. And I was in. The job was different and I liked it well enough. There was reporting and phone work. There was the occasional trip across the country to assist at trade shows. There was networking. There wasn't any writing and there wasn't any creative, but I was certain that piece would come in time. I couldn't expect it all right away, right? I was, after all, an uneducated sales assistant.

I've been swimming in my sea of beige for a few years now. I've been going to college and have moved up a notch. I say a notch because my current position entails a plethora of sales calls to our customers to introduce them to new products. I don't yet consider that a leap. In many ways I feel like the phone nazi I was about nine years ago. I hold out hope because I know it's a job I can do and do well and because I am told the position will evolve. There will be relationship building opportunities and networking and creative opportunities and yada yada yada. I suppose I can wait for that. I will. I will put on my business attire complete with high heels, apologize to my bunions, and wait.

It's funny, isn't it, how our dreams as children warp into the realities of adulthood. Most of us do what it takes to get by, putting forth our best effort to support our families or pay for the roof over our heads or buy the things we want or all of the above. Some of us get lucky with careers that have snuggled in bed with our dreams. Someday that will be me. I will be sitting back, sipping hot, naked-black coffee while the words pour out of my head and through my finger tips. I will have time to break out a canvas and paint my children as they frolic through life. Ahhh, yes. My dream world gone career. That would be my white picket fence.

Friday, October 14, 2011

On Commitment

Sara is my wife. In my life. In our home. To our daughter. In our bedroom. In conversation. In all things personal, Sara is my wife. She is my partner in crime. She is my confidant. She is my lover, my friend, my equal. Sara is everything that a committed, devoted spouse should be.

No, Sara is not my wife. In the eyes of the law, in all things legal, Sara is my domestic partner. I hate those words. They leave out everything that she is to me and our family. In conversation with others, what does domestic partner say? It says that we are a couple of homos shacking up together. It says that we are acknowledged as living under the same roof as, ummm, I dunno, a couple. It says that we are not married. It says that we can leave this state and get married, but we better not come back because it won't be recognized anyway. It says that we are committed, but not serious. It says that we don't have the same rights as you. It says that it is okay for people to ask us what will happen to our children if we ever break up. Break up? When's the last time you ever asked a married couple what would happen to their children or their things if they were to break up? You don't. They are assumed to be forever unless they get divorced and, you still don't ask a couple what happens if they get divorced.  Sara is my domestic partner.

I was recently very honored to participate in the weddings of two couples that I love dearly. I was the reader. Reading is something I love to do, but, for these weddings, I choked through tears for each one. For these were the epitome of weddings. These weddings were quaint and quiet and beautiful. Each unique, they were both very much the bride and very much the groom. I never thought I could be so overwhelmed with happiness for four people yet a little envious too. I want that. I am ashamed that I even felt such envy, but I did...jealous and elated and tickled pink for each couple. I so long for a quaint, quiet, beautiful wedding surrounded by people who love and support Sara and I and our commitment to each other. I want a wedding that is very much the bride and very much the bride. And, more than the wedding, I yearn to be recognized as more than an individual who is in a domestic partnership with another woman. Another unmarried woman who, I might add, is pregnant with our second child. Whoops. Clearly the pull out method doesn't work. Inappropriate, Sam. Yes, eh hem. I want to be wife and wife, not domestic partner and domestic partner. That doesn't roll off the tongue well, so you can call us d.p. for short.

In the latter of the two weddings I learned that commitment comes in many forms. You've committed to being a couple. You've committed to becoming a fiancé. You've committed to being someone's spouse. Maybe later in life or maybe already, you've committed yourself to being a parent, an employee, a friend. Da dah da dah da dah. You get the idea. There are so many levels of commitment, but the kind I observed at this wedding was a friendship, a deep bond, between two cousins. These children are two (almost three) and four respectably. One would think, for as little as they see each other, there would be a period of engagement, of getting to know one another each time they meet. How do children so young pick up exactly where they left off the last time they saw each other? How is it that they have only had a couple dozen or so encounters in their short lives and still manage to maintain such strong friendship? Their developing minds aren't supposed to retain memory like that. They are committed to each other. That's how.

These two children entertain each other. They talk. They play. They laugh, cry, share experiences. They are connected. Neither of them has siblings, though one will have one soon. When they are apart, they ask about each other. When they are together, they absorb nothing but each other.

And together they were. Recently, together, they stood up in an October wedding. One of the intimate and chocolate box weddings I referred to earlier. They guided each other carefully down the isle preparing the way for the bride. Hand in hand, they tenderly placed petals on the floor. When their path was complete, they took their seats. Side by side they sat as her Aunt and her Uncle, his Step-Mom and his Daddy, got married. Side by side they sat. They would not sit apart.

The ceremony adjourned and the two little models made their way downstairs to the reception area. They had lunch together. The imagined together. They danced together. And oh did they dance and run and be giddy, foolish little kids. Together they were exhausted. Everyone, myself included, looked on entertained by their theatrics. No one judged. All lavished in their togetherness, their enjoyment of each other. They were as memorable as the bride and groom themselves.

I think all commitments should be as easy as the one owned by those glowing personalities with minimal interference and an abundance of support. But, fact is, we are not children anymore. When we are adults there are complexities with commitment. Some more so than others. There are laws and restrictions, rules and guidelines, and sometimes social expectations that surround our commitments. So for as much as I would like a wedding, one that means something in the eyes of the law and still has my family and friends touting on the happiness and support, we will wait. And when the day comes that the law in Wisconsin catches up with society, Sara and I will meet at the end of the isle to finish the last snip-it of our commitment.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Going to May

This post will start heavy. I was feeling bitchy today, but for good reason. Don't worry, my little minions, it will end light. After all, we are going to May.

I woke up this morning feeling okay. It's a Monday, so in my world there isn't much to feel but blah. In a grander scheme, one with a crap ton of optimists flitting around, it would be a marvelous Monday, another day to be thankful to be alive, another day to be grateful for what you have, another marvelous fricking day. 

Shut up.

Today was not one of those days.

Today started out with my normal wake up. I ate breakfast and then tidied myself for work. I woke our two-year old. Mistake. I know I really can't bring her to daycare sleeping and unkept, but I should have left her sleeping. I should have lugged her to daycare in all her dreaminess with drool dripping down my shoulder. I didn't. I woke her up, and she waged war. 

Meanwhile, the puppy we are fostering for the boxer rescue has been ill. He hadn't consumed a bite a food all weekend and was puking stomach bile all over the damn place. I am really concerned about him. Really. Still actually. But, dude Tucker, you totally did it to yourself when you ate that rope toy. Did you not read the disclaimer. "Chewing only! Not for puppy consumption!" When the hell did you do that anyway. You are never left unattended!

Anyway, he did eat it, and that was that. When I thought he was getting better on Sunday, I was wrong. He left be a big pile of slimy, green puke in his kennel this morning. Fine. We'll go to the vet. You win.

Still meanwhile, because this has only been forty-five minutes of my day, Graisyn is yelling at me. She wants her red toothpaste, she wants her pink dress, why can't she watch a show. AHHHH! You can have your red toothpaste child. I don't care. You are not wearing your pink dress. You just wore it. Please find something else to wear. You can't watch a show because we don't have enough time and, by the way, you won't have time to eat either if you keep it up. What? No?! What do you mean....

She peed in front of the toilet. No not the dog, my child. Whizzed right there in front of the toilet. You've got to be shitting me...kidding me, I meant kidding me. Dog puke. Kid pee. Anyone got anything else. Bring it. I'm only on the verge of losing it. Cleansing breath.

Puke cleaned. Pee cleaned. Vet appointment made. Work updated that I would be late. It was 7:40 a.m. I  woke up at 5:00 a.m. Maybe this doesn't sound like much, but subtract a half hour because I spent the first thirty minutes of my morning getting yelled at by Fit TV's Gilad to, "Do this eight more fricking times." Screw you, Gilad.

Child fed. Dogs fed, well two of them. Tucker still won't eat. I'm tired.

Child loaded into vehicle. Moving. Graisyn isn't talking to me. She is making fish lips in the back seat. This continues all the way into daycare (which is right around the corner from our house). We greet her caretaker. Well, I do. Graisyn is still making fish lips. I say good-bye to Graisyn and tell her that I love her. Nothing. I think she has turned mute. I am out the door and down the stairs before she belts, "BYE, MOMMY!" Thanks, kid. Now everyone's deaf.

I head back home to pick up Tucker and off to the vet we go. This won't be so bad. I'll have him evaluated, fixed up, and then I'll be on my way to work. We arrive at the vet. Tucker gets checked in and weighed. Then we are asked to wait to be called back. I turn away from the receptionist's desk to sit in the waiting area and hear a pop. My sandal. My the thong part of my sandal just broke. For God's sake. Will someone please throw me a bone. Okay, okay. It's fine. I had my work shoes in the truck. I went and retrieved them telling the receptionist that I had better take Tucker out to pee before his visit with the vet. Yes. I lied. Leave me alone. I was too embarrassed about my shoes.

The vet examined Tucker. Nothing. No blockage. No reason for the puking. No reason for the not eating. He probably had a stomach bug. Fine. Tucker ate two bites of food at the vet. "Watch him for the rest of the day," the vet said, "If he vomits again, I want you to bring him back it so we can run some blood work." I can't believe I have to use PTO for a crap day like today. Fine.

I got home with Tucker. He slept. I thought I better make myself useful and finish up the Economics homework I already spent almost two hours on this weekend. No biggie. Then I can enjoy the day. Six hours later. SIX HOURS later and I am still not done with my homework. This is a gen. ed., people. This isn't even the real deal yet. Six miserable hours. I should have stayed in bed.

Tucker did okay for most of the day. He did not throw up, but he also would not eat anymore. He has done nothing but sleep all day long.

At 4:00 p.m. I head to pick up Graisyn. This is a forced break from my homework. Please, God, let her be in a better mood. When I arrived at daycare, she seemed fine. The evening that followed went well. We went for a bike ride, we baked mumma a surprise pumpkin pie, she ate pizza, we read books, Uncle Tyler stopped by with treats for the pups and to talk about the work day's happenings. It was pleasant. Tucker still isn't eating. His treat is waiting for him to feel better.

We topped it off with a show and a little baby talk initiated by Graisyn.

"Mommy, am I going to be a big sister?"

"Yes, baby. In May."

"Oooooo! In May!? Will you go to May with me?"

"Grai, May isn't a place. It's a month. Like your birthday is in October, the baby's birthday will be in May."

"But I want to go to May. Please come with me. Come on. Let's go to May!"

"Okay. Mumma and I will go to May with you. Now let's finish up your show so I can tuck you in."

Grai resumes her show. 

"Mommy, I have to go potty."

"Okay. Run!"

I head upstairs to help her wipe. There she sits putting on new PJs. There is that glaring puddle in front of the toilet. Ugh.

I couldn't make it up if I wanted to. Take me away. Take me to May!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A BUNDLE of Money

I like money. Okay, to elaborate, I like to save money. I am always counting our pennies. I am always asking Sara how much she spent where. I know it sounds controlling, but it really isn't meant to be. It's really just another piece of my OCD self that drives my poor Sara crazy.

I have a point. I've carried on and on and on some more about how much having a child costs us. It's not cheap. So, when we discussed having another, second child, though excited, the first words out of my mouth were, "Do you think we can afford it?"

"We always find a way," states my impossibly optimistic wife. Why is she always a little bit more right than I am. THAT drives me nuts!

She was right though. It wouldn't be easy, but we could do it. We already selected a donor, different from Graisyn's, but tall like her's with German/Irish lineage, brown hair, blue eyes, and we already had him on ice at the clinic. We met with our doctor who was for Graisyn and who wouldn't be this time around. We picked a new doctor. We met with our beloved fertility nurse, and we set a timeline. We would start trying right away. Forget waiting. Let's through all rationality out the window.

Armed with a limited savings, we whipped out our checkbook to pay for our visit with the doctor and our nurse. We also ordered Sara's Clomid. A little something to provoke follicle production. Let's ripen those eggs, girly, and bring on the hot flashes. And there would be hot flashes too. I remember. They suck. Horrible for her. Free strip tease for me...

Sara popped the Clomid for five days. We followed that up by an ultrasound to measure her follicles. Perfecto. Left ovary it was. Our nurse instructed Sara to do the over the counter ovulation kits to monitor for ovulation by that week Friday. If Sara didn't surge by then, I was to stab her in the arm with an HCG injection, a little by mail drugs to force ovulation. Pinch the arm fat and in she goes. Don't worry, honey, I'm a professional. This won't hurt a bit.

Sunday was our day. If the good Lord loathes the homos, he won't let 'em get knocked up on Sunday. This is the philosophy I follow so I don't get my hopes dashed. We walked into the clinic. Me. Sara. Graisyn. We trucked up to the lab to pick up Graisyn's baby sister brother. A perfect little vile of washed sperm in an orange biohazard bag. Cute.

We scurried on down to the Women's Health clinic with our gold-lined vile of goo clutched tightly in our grasp. On arrival, we were met by our other fertility nurse. Me. Sara. Graisyn. This was Graisyn's first introduction to the same nurse who had implanted me with her just a few years prior. Nurse meet Graisyn. Graisyn meet nurse. She helped make you. Remember Fine, that wasn't the conversation that was really had. But it is what the atmosphere felt like. Just a bit strange. Who would think that a threesome with a bunch of woman who aren't even remotely close to doing anything could create life. It's kind of creepy, but, hey, it works for us.

The nurse got Sara comfortable on the table and loaded her into the stir-ups. Graisyn and I pulled up a chair and situated ourselves near Sara's head. We held her hand. Graisyn continually made sure that it wasn't her the nurse was going to examine that day. I assured her that today was not her day. Our baby making process began and just like that it was over. If I were straight and it were over that quickly, I would be disappointed. Very, very disappointed. Not Graisyn though. Typical impatient two year old, "Mommy, can we go now."

"Ten more minutes, babe. Then we can go. Mumma has to rest first."

It was August 14, 2011. That was the day we tried for number two. The entire process was just as weird, nerve racking, and un-romantic as it was when we tried to conceive Graisyn. The thing is, though, that it's our process. It's what we go through to have a family. And, it certainly does make for a good story especially when the insemination works...which it did!

Wow! It worked! First go around. We didn't think that would happen. Money conscious little bugger just like me. Saving us tons by avoiding future ovulation ultrasounds and inseminations. I love the little bundle already.

Our first ultrasound will be on September 29th, Sara's birthday. I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to see our baby's heartbeat for the first time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Now That's a Loaded Question

School began this week, so, in typical procrastinator fashion, I broke out my homework yesterday evening. This was my first homework assignment for the Economics class I enrolled in this semester. I was not entirely worried about the submissions I had to make for the week because I read the syllabus in advance and noted that the assignment was merely a "getting to know you" type of deal. Oooo! This is the best kind of homework!

I moseyed on through the assignment and shared my expectations of myself, of the class, and of my professor. I babbled on about what my ideal career would be, and I summarized what economics meant to me. Then I came to a question that caused me to hesitate and, after the short pause, apply my answer with brutal honesty. The question was this:

"What are other things you do with your time? Full time student? Work? Job title? Stay at home parent? Other? Favorite hobbies?"

Well, okay. You asked. 

I am a part-time student that recently change her major from Forensic Science to Technical Communications and has a full time job working as a Sales Assistant soon to be a Sales Manager or Representative or whatever you want to call it at a local insurance company. I have an "unofficial" wife who also works full time at an area hospital. She is a second semester nursing student at the tech which means she somehow manages to pull a full class load on top of her full time job.

Together we have a two, almost three, year old. She is the highlight of our lives. Full of piss and vinegar, but the highlight nonetheless.

We own two boxer dogs and foster boxers for the Green Acres Boxer Rescue. Currently we have three canines, all of varying stature and mental status, roaming our abode.

I like to run for fun (and rhyme too apparently). Last year I ran the full marathon for the Fox Cities Festival of Races. This year I will be running the half.

I enjoy writing and am on my way to publishing my first children's book. I say "on my way" because the only thing holding me back is finding time to complete the damn artwork.

We currently own our home and are trying to sell it. It hasn't moved and I'm blaming the economy, Professor. Truthfully, though, I know it has everything to do with the construction across the street.

We are also trying to expand our family. Crazy. Yes. Stupid. At the exact moment, probably. But, you only live once and I don't want our kids to be a decade apart from each other. I want them to be able to share some life stages together yet be far enough apart that the younger of the twerps can seek advice from the oldest. Besides, I'm really good at managing a budget.

I completed my response to the question by noting that I am in no condition to be adding school to my agenda. Don't worry, Mr. Professor. I promise that I have a lot of drive and am equipped with the same piss and vinegar that my two-year old has. Therefore, I will be successful.

When I was finished responding, I read what I had spewed. It was truthful, followed the usual smart ass Sam style, and it sounded insane. It really did sound crazy. I know that everyone has a busy life, but I wonder if they have ever been forced to look at it like I just had to. I wonder. If you haven't, you should. My guess is that you'll be as surprised as I was.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Can I Have a Baby Sister Brother? Can I?

I made the mistake a few months ago of telling Graisyn, our spontaneous two, almost three, year old that Mumma and I are going to try to have another baby. I wanted to see how she felt about it and excited she was. So excited in fact that she hasn't shut up about it since.

Do I regret telling our obsessive child with a mind like steel trap about such life changing events? No. Not really. What I regret is my timing.  While normally impeccable, I have the lurking sensation that I mentioned the possibility of a wrinkly little being joining our family prematurely. Maybe, probably, for certain, I should have waited until we were already pregnant...

But I didn't. And, since I didn't, Sara and I have been berated with questions on when the next bundle is going to arrive. This occurs daily at home and apparently has filtered over to other areas of Graisyn's life such as car rides, playtime with the other children at daycare, the grocery store, and even the hair salon. There is no escaping it.

Now there are times when I wish she would just be quiet about it. God, kid, just change the dang subject already. Then there are times when she has me rolling in fits of laughter. Let's talk about the time she was educating another child at daycare about the potential addition to our family. From what I've heard, because I was not present to witness Grai in action, the story went something like this.

Grai: I'm getting a baby brother sister.

Other child (beaming with excitement. not): Oh.

Grai: Mommy's working on it. We have to be patient.

Other child: Oh.

Poor kid. The other child I mean. Bored to death by the sagas of another's life. And, really, poor Grai. She is so utterly tickled at the idea of a sibling but can't find anyone to be tickled with her for she has literally beat the subject of it to death. Sigh.

So today I am at the hair salon with Graisyn. Our family has been seeing the same stylist for about five years now, so she knows our family well enough. Well enough means we hadn't had detailed conversations regarding the expansion of our family, but it had been mentioned as something we are thinking about. Anyway, I was sitting in the chair getting my hair trimmed when Graisyn crawls up in my lap and out of the blue inquires about a new baby brother or sister. Oh boy. Here goes. We weren't even talking about babies. Not before the salon, not at the salon, not at all today and now not only do I owe you, Graisyn Quinn, an explanation, but also the stylist whose curiosity you have peaked. There is no escaping it, and I only have myself to blame.

Grai: Mommy?

Me: Yes, Graisyn.

Grai: I wanna baby sister brother.

Me: Grai, I already told you that Mumma and I are getting things ready to have another baby.

Grai: Oh. Okaaaay.

Stylist: Do you want a baby brother or a baby sister?

Grai: Sister baby.

Stylist: Okay. What if you get a baby brother? You'd still love him, wouldn't you?

Grai: No. I want a sister baby.

Me: We're really just in the beginning stages. I'm sure she'll be happy with either.

Stylist: When are you going to start trying?

Me: Uh. I dunno. A year or so. Definitely within a year.

Grai: I want a baby sister brother.

Me: I know.

Stylist: How exciting! Who will carry the baby this time?

Me: Yup, it's exciting. We are excited, I mean. And, if you couldn't tell, Graisyn is too. This time it's Sara's turn. I'm not interested in carrying a baby again. I was too sick with Graisyn.

Stylist: Ahhh. I was really sick with my first too. Didn't even gain any weight.

Me: Hmmm. I know. The sick part makes it pretty miserable. I'd tell that to Sara, but she was witness to it.

Grai: Can I go play?

Me: Yes! Go play. Mommy needs to finish getting her hair cut.

Needless to say, I feel like I have a carrot dangling in front of my little girl. I could kick myself. I'm sure Sara could kick me too. On the up side, there are lessons learned. For Graisyn, patience is a virtue. For me, some things are better left unsaid. At the end of the day, God willing Graisyn Quinn, you will have your baby sister brother.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Doctor, Doctor

As a woman, and I know many of you can relate, there is a certain level of comfort involved with having the same doctor. You don't want someone different diggin' around down there every time the impending "annual" comes around. There really is a certain level of security associated with exposing one's self to someone familiar. I think the same can be said for having the same OB/GYN as is relates specifically to pregnancy.

It is not new news that Sara and I are starting down the road for baby number two. Since this was a path that we paved once before, we were relatively comfortable with the with our doctor and the fertility nurses, pick a donor, buy the goo, inseminate, get the legal crap together, have the kid, finalize the adoption, the end.  Oh, if only it were all that simple. At least we get the same doctor.

We scheduled an appointment to meet with our doctor and the fertility nurse. It was deja vu sitting there in that office all over again. The smell of hospital and magazines, the staff at the front desk, the glare of the florescent lights overhead. Everything was very familiar. Even the fish in the aquarium were the same; a bit bigger, but the same nonetheless.

Sara was called back to the patient room shortly after we arrived. I followed. Flutters of nerves and excitement filled our bellies as we prepared to start our journey all over again. We were met in the room by our doctor, our beloved doctor, with whom we related to very well. We share the same lifestyle, have similar interests, and he saw us through my pregnancy with Graisyn.

"Well," he said after taking several minutes with us to catch up on life, "It's pretty cut and dry. We'll do some preliminary tests and get the ball rolling for you."

"Great!" we replied, "Anything else we need to be thinking about? Anything we else we should be doing?"

"Yeah, there's one more thing," our doctor noted, "I have taken on a new role with the facility as the Medical Director (or something fancy like that). While I'll be here at the office, I am no longer seeing patients. You'll want to be thinking about who you want for a doctor."

"Wow! We what a great opportunity! How exciting for you!" And how completely unexciting for us.

Wrapping up our conversation, our ex-MD lead us down the hall where we would meet with the fertility nurse. There she sat in her office looking exactly the same as she did about three years ago. She took care of all of the nitty, gritty details. Did we want to do the ultrasound before insemination? What about fertility drugs? No, these are not the kind that make you an octomom either, people. Have we selected a donor? Did we think about how many vials of "seed" we wanted? Oh my God! Slow down. Please! What about our doctor?!

Ahh, yes. Our doctor. The one who wouldn't be this time around. So who then? Our fertility nurse went through a list of the MDs names with us. She noted who was "friendly" because, whether or not you want to believe it, not all doctors practice equal care for patients. Sara and I experienced this discrimination first hand when we were started trying to conceive Graisyn. Anyway, with the recommendation of our nurse, we selected a new doctor. He would be respectful and kind she noted and that he himself said he doesn't have an issue with the way we live our life.

We finished our appointment with a to-do list which is, I think, a requirement when you're creating a baby the way we are. Sara was sent to the lab for blood work to test hormone levels. We had medications to order, a donor to select, and ultrasounds to schedule. We were all set for when we decided to move forward and we even had a doctor who would be okay with us. Phew! That was all the easy stuff!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dear Sara

For those of you who know me, it is common knowledge that I am not a sappy person. But, fact is, I am celebrating eight years of bliss with my "wife" (because that's what she is less the paperwork), so I feel the sap oozing from my mind...just a little bit.

And, for those of you who know me, it's not a surprise that I don't really like people. People are a foreign breed to me. They are complex when they don't need to be. They are dramatic. They lie. They cheat. They steal. They nurture. They love. They survive. Stupid as it sounds, it is all way above my realm of understanding. Given my emotions toward the species I am a part of, I never anticipated finding someone that I would even want to share the rest of my life with. I did, though, and it has made me elated and frightened and grateful all at once.

Sara, this is for you. Here's to eight years down and many, many more. I love you (God, with this damn blog nothing is sacred anymore, is it?).

Dear Sara,

Do you remember the evening that you stole my heart away? I'll bet you do. We were never even supposed to happen you and I but, we did. And, alas, here we are. It's great isn't it? Please say yes. I want to thank you for the last eight years. It has been easy eight years for me. I'm sure that it I have been more than a pain in the ass for you. I kid. I kid.

Sara, the thing I love best about us is that we are real. We don't really fight because we talk. In eight years I think we've probably had five real fights and I don't remember what a single one of them was about. Do we disagree? Sure. Who doesn't? But, I think what makes us special is that we disagree in a respectful manner. We aren't rude or hurtful. And, we talk. Every single day we talk. Even if we are bitching about work or whining about the challenges presented with our two year old, we talk. For as much as I don't like talking to people, I can't shut up when I am with you. I just can't shut my damn mouth. You're that good.

Sara, I have never met someone so romantic. How in the hell can you balance work, school (full time), exercise, a toddler, me, two dogs, and still manage to be romantic? Are you even human? You're probably one of those super humans we saw on that 20/20 special. That means I better never piss you off. Really? How do you do it? You, who makes it seem effortless to be charming and sweet, got me. I'm not romantic at all. Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma'am. That's the kinda girl I am. For that I am sorry. I try, but, unlike you, my parents didn't get married on Valentines day. Thank you for wooing me. As you know, it never fails.

Thank also you for putting up with my chaos. I am never, ever, satisfied (except for with you). I have a mind that doesn't quit (which must drive you nuts). I am quirky. I am weird. I am spontaneous. I have passed all of that on to our two year old daughter and now you have two of us to deal with. If we were legally married, we should be contributing to the divorce statistics, but, for some reason, we work. A couple of crazies with a stable person equals one fully functioning household. Great.

I appreciate your beauty. You are obsessed with your flaws. I am inspired by your compassion towards humanity. You think you are too trusting. I think you are sooo brilliant. You think I have the memory like a steal trap. Honey, I keep telling you the contents are useless. I am flabbergasted at how you can be so laid back, but, at the same time, equally as impatient as me. That one I don't get...

Look at the life we have built together. It's pretty phenomenal, isn't it? Noteworthy I would say. We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for you. We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for me. I love that our life is boring and overwhelming all at the same time. I am excited at the family we have created together. I anxious and nervous to expand that family, but relieved that I have you to share it with. I love us, Sara Sue. You, me, Graisyn Quinn, and our dopey dogs. Thank you for loving us too.

Happy eight years, Love. Cheers to more to come. I can't wait!


Your wife

P.S. I do still write in that book I created for you, Honey. I haven't in few months, but I think there might be some new stuff in there...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Waiting to Ovulate

Peeing on a stick and praying. I recall these days like it was yesterday. I wasn't checking for pregnancy either. This was all pre-pregancy stuff too. Ladies and, well, ummm, ladies, get out your ovulation kits. Let the peeing and recording begin. We will see what the future has in store for us...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Education or Application?

I never fit well into the “go to college right after high-school and make something of yourself” mold. Sara didn’t either. I tried. I think we both tried. When I was eighteen, I applied and was accepted to a few institutions, but I just could not bring myself to go. It wasn’t a matter of laziness or an issue of confidence on my part though. I earned excellent grades all throughout school and very rarely had troubles understanding learning objectives. Frankly, after years of “pre-school,” (because let’s face it, that’s what grades K through 12 are now days) I just needed to learn who I was outside the pages of a textbook. I had prime opportunity to start this venture since I was living on my own and couldn’t afford to support an educational habit anyway.

Was this the right move for me? Many colleagues critique my lack of education. In fact, at one point, it caused me to start doubting my decision to wait on college. I was fell victim to the “you don’t get anywhere without a BA or a Masters” line. People would even mention that it didn’t really matter what I went to school for as long as I went. Really? I just needed to show commitment. Hmmm. Maybe these little birdies had a point. After all, working steadfast in an industry for a decade, flourishing in a monogamous relationship for nearly eight years, and pouring my soul into our nearly three-year old daughter is certainly not commitment. That stuff must just be life. Silly me.

Since I’ve been pretty successful at “life,” I thought it was time to give the good old conservatory a shot. Sara decided that she wanted to be an RN now that she was all grown up, so she started her commitment at the local tech a couple years ago. I recently got down on bended knee and committed myself to the local tech as well.

In pursuit of a degree in Forensic Science, I was quickly informed that an Associates degree won’t cut it either. Rewind to the earlier paragraph where BA and Masters degrees are noted. Oh well. You can't please 'em all, can you? No, I have not settled for mediocrity. I just came to the consensus that I am now attending college for myself. I am ready to make the commitment to learn something new and use the information that I am paying out the ass to receive. If that rolls into even further education, be it a BA or a Masters, I am fine with that. If not, I am fine with that too.

Given my philosophy on education as it relates specifically to my life, one might wonder what expectations I hold, we hold, for Graisyn and, God willing, any future children we have. Sara and I discuss this regularly. At Graisyn’s ripe old age of one we even attended open houses for area elementary schools. In our household, there are high stakes placed on the nurturing and development of her young mind. We want a strong focus on the basics, you know, math, English, history, science and an even stronger focus on humanity, civilization, and communication. Our wants and needs for the growth and development of any children we have pointed us in the direction of the Charter schools in our area.

Sara and I wait VERY patiently for the day we send our little girl off to school. Meanwhile, we, along with Graisyn’s daycare provider, work with her daily on skills that will help her once she “enters the world.” She knows her numbers through fifty and is sketchy, but getting there, from fifty to one hundred. She knows the alphabet. She is beginning to recognize small words and has mastered shapes, colors, texture, and age appropriate fine motor-skills. She is also recognizing consequence and the value of human emotion. “No Graisyn, we don’t hit our friends because that hurts them,” or, “Graisyn, that was really nice of you to give so-and-so a hug when they were sad.” We want her to beam with her successes and feel a healthy amount of shame with mistakes. More importantly, we want her to make mistakes and own them, because making mistakes is a key factor to success and dubbed the phrase "trial and error." And even more important than that, we want her to know that it is ALWAYS okay to change course if a decision is not panning out the way it was intended.

Why is the last one so important? In my opinion, having the ability to recognize error and change direction to rectify the error or at least minimize damages makes a statement about an individual's or an even an organization's integrity, ethics, strategic skills, financial/life/business planning, and forecasting. Generally speaking, making mistakes and owning them, is not a skill that can be taught from a textbook. It's also not a skill that many possess. We live in a world where the expectation is that someone else will clean up the mess we've made and all will be forgiven and forgotten. Is this because application has been taken out or reduced in the learning process? I don't know. I do know that waiting to dedicate myself to further education forced me to master the art of trial and error. Sara might say the same. We were on our own. If we were not successful, that would jeopardize the roof over our heads or the food on our table.

Ideally, Sara and I would love to see Graisyn grow in a curriculum that embraces the basic concepts of school, but broadens it to include the components that will move her forward in the real world. We want her to be able to balance her checkbook and figure out what she can and cannot afford, not just maintain the American average of $5K-$15K in credit card debt. We want her to have enough confidence and tact to present a problem with a solution to her boss, not just gripe about the problem. We want her to read the textbooks and apply the information that she read, not just take a test and forget it. We want our daughter to value good education, to appreciate it, especially during her "preschool" years. We do not want her to get so wrapped up in "higher" education that she cannot see beyond the pages of a textbook.

I am ranting, so I will wrap it up. I really meant to say these tiny, uneducated things. Let us not piss our money away on education simply for a "piece of paper." Let us learn with purpose and intention. Let us cultivate logic and problem solving skills and, for the love of Pete, let us learn how to communicate with the other two legged homo sapiens that surround us. Let us embrace those that have knowledge based on experience. Let us not cap that knowledge because we have a degree and might know better. Let us, educated and uneducated alike, share the contents of our minds because I think knowledge might be power. And, finally, let us zip our damn lips about our ideals for the success of others and speak of a united, progressive, civilized, cohesive future.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Back to Square One

Now I swore after a month with a wailing infant that I would never have more children. No way. No how. I mean, really, why would I? Graiysn's birth didn't go just the way I wanted it to. We barely got to hold our baby after she was born and that continued after we brought her home. She was so jaundice that she spent weeks on a BiliBed at home. It was not a great experience, but it was our experience so we managed.

The saga with our infant continued when she grew just a bit older out of being jaundice and into being a colicky, screaming nightmare. When I say that she cried for twelve hours a day and slept for twelve hours at night, I do not exaggerate. There is no class, no parenting book, no words of advice that can help with colic. It just needs to pass and that's it.

So why would we even consider having having another baby? I don't know the answer to that. I do know that I learned to be grateful for what we were given. There is an absolute (and not the vodka) reason she was picked for us. Besides, I've always wanted a family with two children, a few dogs, some fish, maybe a bird or two, a loving spouse, and a constant flow of coffee and wine. I wanted to be surrounded by all the beings I loved and that loved me back. And, in the grand scheme of things, we were and are truly blessed. We were delivered a relatively healthy baby. She didn't have to spend any time in the NICU. She was a little early, but alive and she had fully functioning, very well developed lungs.

We really do want to expand our family. In fact, we were so eager to expand our family that we decided to settle on another dog. We foster boxers for the local Boxer Rescue and have had in our recent care a big, bouncy, destructive, young man named Abbott. He annihilated our kitchen several times. He was adopted and returned three days later. He was a lovely terror. Sara and I worked so hard to rehabilitate  that Abbott dog. He eventually mastered all of his commands with the exception of "down." He got along with our boxer girl, Lexi, famously, and he and Graisyn displayed the ideal amount of annoyance with each other. This is it! He was staying! End of story. Our family is now complete.

Nah! Sara and I are going to start trying for baby number two in a year or so. The donor we used for Graisyn appears to be unavailable. Apparently his supply has been depleted. We've selected three donors to request additional information packets on. Ladies and gentleman, get out your checkbooks. This is going to be pricey, but, hey, at least we get a discount on the adoption of this one. It's not quite the buy one get one philosophy, but it's something. Maybe this one will ring up at about $8,000 instead of $10,000.

Sara and I are excited to try for another child. In fact, I am really excited. This time it will be her instead of me. Don't worry doll, I will pray that you don't get morning sickness and hemorrhoids. I will pray that if you must have morning sickness, it be mild, for throwing up your breakfast and sometimes your lunch is not only aggravating, it can also put you on the verge of wetting yourself. I will hope to the stars that your experience is wonderful; that you will be pregnant and healthy and that you will glow.

In the meantime we wait and prepare. We will research donors. We will save our pennies. We will give our lawyers a heads up. Here we are back at square one and all in the hopes of one more squirmy, screeching, human being. Donations? Anyone? Hello? Okay. I kid, but it was worth asking.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fast Forward

June 26, 2011. Wow. Graisyn arrived two years and eight months ago today. That's nuts. It only makes me feel a little bit old. I wonder how it makes Sara feel (kidding, honey).

In retrospect, though, there are many days that I wake up and wonder how I got here. How did I get to this very moment in my life? I have a beautiful, truly superlative wife. I have a magnificent, yet challenging, daughter. I've owned my own home since I was twenty-two. I am, in the grand scheme of things, what many would consider to be uneducated. I am a smart ass who has been blessed with common sense and an uncanny desire to live my life outside of a text book. Damn it. I am also a college student. I hold an entry level position at a profound company where I turn out work that is far beyond entry level. I would say that I am tickled and delightful 50% of the time. This percentage allots for snoozing and work. I figure outside of that I am generally happy.

What about Sara? To me, she does the impossible. She holds down a full time job and is attending college nearly full time to obtain her RN. She does this all while contending with our demanding two year old and her fanatical, obsessive compulsive, clingy wife.

To add to the chaos called our life, we also foster dogs. Not just any dogs either. Boxers. Wiggly, bouncy, I'll always be a puppy boxers. They fit right in. Throw a year plus long roommate in the mix and, wham-o, you got yourself a famn damily.

Together, Sara and I make a superb team. I can count on one hand the number of true fights we have had. This alone is enough to make people barf, but, fortunately for us, it's the honest truth. I can say, and I am certain Sara would agree, that parenthood is our biggest challenge. We question our skills as parents daily. Are we too hard on Graisyn? Does she get scolded to often? Is she progressing as she should? Are we going to screw her up? What if we already have screwed her up? Does she know how much we love her? God. The list goes on and on. I'm beginning to sound paranoid, but, deep inside, I am really hoping that these are normal parent questions. If they aren't I guess we're in a whole world of hurt and somebody better point it out.

But this is what we call our life. I don't know anyone else who has a life just like it which leads me to one random thought. If we all lead such different lives with varying end results, why is it that some people feel the urge to push their idea of how life should be lived on others? Think about it. You can tell me that I need to be a straight girl with a masters degree to be happy and successful, but then I could turn around and tell you that you need a wife/husband with a child and a certificate from the local technical college to be happy and successful. You see, it all depends on the individuals definition of success, not on what someone else thinks they should or shouldn't be doing to be successful. Oh man, I think I just got carried away. Back on track...

I believe I was stating that this is our life. This is who we've become. We're a couple of lesbians with a kid and some dogs that are being schooled. You've probably took pleasure in reading how we came to be. Maybe some of you are even emotionally engaged in the story. Whatever the case, I invite you along for the ride. No, you can't move in. Physical observation is not allowed, and I don't like people that much. But, you can follow along via my posts. Grab some popcorn and a bottle of wine. I promise, you won't be bored.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who will Raise our Baby?

What kind of lesbians put all of their efforts into having a baby and then look for someone else to raise it? Ummm. Us. Duh. Sara and I mutually decided, with all of the money we spent to have Graisyn accompanied by the pure exhaustion her colic created, that it just wasn't worth it. So, it was time to find ourselves a baby mamma. Who will take over the grueling task of raising our Graisyn Quinn? We were accepting bids for an eight pound screeching pterodactyl.

Okay fine, by now I'm sure you all have come to the conclusion that I am talking about childcare and not selling our darling daughter on the black market. Hey, don't scoff. I'm sure we'd get a fair price for her. She is gorgeous! And fine, Sara and I don't think that raising Graisyn is grueling, but, at the time, her colic was enough to create an small sense of understanding of those parents you see on the news who have snapped on their kids...harmed them or worse. Both Sara and I can attest to the limit of crying the adult human brain can take, but we decided that's why cribs and doors were created, though even then it was challenging.

But, what then of childcare? If we could barely handle our little bundle, how could we expect the utmost of gentleness and care out of someone else? Ugh. It seemed scary and impossible, but we had to work so it had to be done.

Leave it to my wife, Sara, to make the impossible possible. There she was perusing the World Wide Web for cloth diapers to swaddle Graisyn's tiny, unborn hinder so we could be super-cool eco-friendly gay moms when she found a stay at home mom/licensed daycare provider/cloth diaper seamstress/everything else who was not only in our very city, but right around the corner from us! I practically peed with excitement. We had already looked at centers and none of them fit just what we wanted. We were bound and determined to find an in-home business that was quaint and comfortable and, well, home. This place seemed just right.

Sara e-mailed the provider of this sanctuary right away. She included our due date and the anticipated date that we would need Graisyn to start. It didn't take long before we received an e-mail back that she was full. No openings. Zip, zero, zilch, nada. Back to square one.

So what is it that parents look for in child care facility? I'm sure that the lists are the same or very similar for most parents. Do you want your child in a center or in a home? The child will need to be fed, napped, played with, nurtured, loved, taught, cleaned. The child should be able to interact with other children. Just like dogs, children need to be socialized. The child should feel safe. Cost should be a consideration, but it should be last, or close to last, in my opinion.

We found another in-home child care provider a few streets down. She was welcoming and nice, but just starting on her own. She had done in home nannying for a number of years and had successfully raised three children one of whom took my pregnant belly pictures. We decided she was it! Finally, someone who would be able to take good care of Graisyn when the time came.

...Or not. We kept in touch with our new found provider throughout the rest of the pregnancy, but shortly before, or maybe it was after, Graisyn's birth, she cut contact with us. No calls. No e-mails. It was like a bad break up. Seriously? WTF? I've always done the dumping in a relationship. "It's not you, Hun, it's me." We were feeling like we couldn't catch a break and to top it off we were gay. Geez. The real kicker was the e-mail we received from the provider we originally inquired with indicating that she now had an opening which we of course declined since we had lined up care with this other individual. Hmmm. Maybe we'd have to revisit that.

Just when we thought we'd never hear from our long lost provider again, Sara received a phone call. Out of the blue, here she was. She wanted to visit and meet our newborn, Graisyn Quinn. She also had something to talk to us about. Fair enough. We welcomed her over for a visit and to take her verbal resignation. She was going through some health issues she told us and couldn't manage the feat of a business with small children. Sara and I both understood. Health should come first, but it still put us in the position to have to find childcare with only a few weeks notice.

Sara recalled the email from the first provider we looked at indicating she had an opening. The pessimist in me was certain that she would have already filled the position, but Sara is an eternal optimist and it wasn't going to hurt a thing to check. E-mail away, honey. And of course she did and of course the opening was still available. Yippee! Was if finally time to breathe a sigh of relief? I think so, friends, I think so.

Graisyn was scheduled to start at the in-home daycare right around the corner from our house in mid February. It was only January, so we would have to pay to the hold the spot should another interested client come along. Fine by us. It was well worth it to know that Graisyn would be spending her days away from us while we worked with a woman who would raise her in the same loving, safe, nurturing way that we did at home.

Thank You

Graisyn has been with her "third mom" for over two years now. We have watched her grow leaps and bounds during this time. Sara and I work as a team with her caretaker to make sure that the structure of the childcare environment and home environment are consistent and provide optimal opportunity for Graisyn to thrive as a growing child. We could not be more pleased with our decision to place Graisyn in this woman's care. She is a wonderful, smart business woman, nurturing mother to all children in her home, and a phenomenal educator. Plus, I know she reads my blog so she will get this memo. Thank you for all you have done! It is so appreciated.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Judgement Day

Graisyn was growing leaps and bounds. She had just surpassed two months old at the time our adoption hearing was scheduled to occur. It was December 30, 2008, the second to last day of 2008 and the last day that we would have to claim Graisyn's adoption on our 2008 tax filings. It was bitter cold. It was snowy. It was hours of driving to LaCrosse, the one reliably "friendly" court in Wisconsin, for our hearing with a colicky baby.

Yes. Our baby had colic. She was everything we had expected and oh, so much more. You know, I used to judge those who could not quiet their babies. I'll admit it. Then I was one of them. I think it was God's way of punishing me for casting judgement. Got it now. Thanks, God. You win. Now please silence this much wanted, much tried for, bouncing bundle of joy.

We packed up our little Graisyn and began our journey. We were gratefully accompanied by my mother-in-law and my little sister. They were our witnesses for the adoption hearing, having extended family there as requested by the lawyers, and our sanity during the long drive with a wailing infant. To this day, my baby sister does not want children. At that time, I could not pass blame on her. I too was questioning my parenthood, but you get what you get and you make due with what you have.

Graisyn was relatively good on the ride to LaCrosse. We made it to the courthouse safe and sound and still sane. In the courthouse we waited for our attorney with the other homosexual families who were there to stake their claim as the rightful parents to their children. You know, even in the "gay world" as it has been so graciously defined, there are all sorts of families. Sara and I used me as the incubator for Graisyn with donor sperm to conceive her. There was another couple who had their eggs harvested and fertilized by donor sperm only to them implanted in the opposite partner (and I thought we were a legal nightmare). There was yet another couple who had a known donor for the conception of their child. Yes, even those families who are gay can be as brightly colored as those who are straight.

Each family met individually with the guardian ad litem. We had to explain why we were at the courthouse that day and why we chose to be parents. We had to justify ourselves all over again. Trust me when I say that I had the fees from that meeting waived. God forbid she had actually captured that information from the phone interview we already had with her and that she already charged for. Umm, no friend. Recalculate please. And she did without question.

After our interviews, we waited to be called into the courtroom. There was a sense of nervousness in the air which I am sure was only due to the fact that we all ready to be granted or denied legal rights to our children. Still, we chatted amongst ourselves like the experience was nothing out of sorts, completely normal.

Then we were called into the courtroom. We moseyed in like nomads on the move. We had our children, our legal paperwork, our respective friends and/or family members, strollers, diaper bags, bottles. All of us took our seats. The judge addressed us. She had a compassion to her voice that made most of my nerves dissipate. One by one she called us up. Each parent had to testify to their desire to care for and raise to the best of their ability the child/children in question. The birthing parent had to terminate their rights, though only for a matter of minutes, so that the child could be legally adopted by a same sex couple. This is simply because, in Wisconsin, as Graisyn's birth mother and legal parent, I could not select a female to adopt and raise her with me. As her legal parent, I could only select a male. Making her a ward of the state gave Sara and I equal rights to adopt her. In short, it's a loophole in the Wisconsin legal system.

Within an hour a total of three families, ours included, had successfully been created in the eyes of the law. My wife, Sara, was officially Graisyn's mother, though in my eyes she had been since the day Graisyn was conceived. Sara's parents were legally defined as Graisyn's grandparents, though, again, they had anxiously adopted that title well before Graisyn's birth. The ramifications of that day in court created more family ties and offered Sara, Graisyn, and I a sense of legal protection that I cannot even define. It is amazing to me what an hour in a courtroom and thousands of dollars can do. I still am emotional about it today.

The drive home after our hearing was exhausting. Snow heaved from the sky for the duration of our tour home. Though relieved at the outcome of our hearing, I think it was fair to say that the hours of screaming from Graisyn coupled with the ill road conditions the entire way home tested all of our tempers. We arrived home, tired and grumbly, but in one piece and as one family. It was time to shovel.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Arrival

We arrived home from the hospital after our embarrassing little false alarm. I think it was after midnight so that would have put us on Saturday, very, very early Saturday, October 25, 2008. It was so bitter cold outside. In only a short time, the weather went from a welcomed chilly nibble to a full chomp on our limbs. We were so tired. I was still a bit bewildered by Friday evenings tribulations and I was still mildly uncomfortable. To sleep we went.

We awoke later that Saturday morning and began going about our day as usual. There was laundry to be done, dishes, an antsy dog to be played with, and contractions to be timed (Sara was persistent with this one).

My contractions were still a good fifteen minutes apart, so we were on alert, but not overly anxious. We also had a Halloween party to attend that Saturday evening, so Ms. Graisyn would not possibly cause us to miss such festivities.

And she didn't. We attended the Halloween party un-costumed, but ready to socialize with our friends. My contractions persisted the entire time, so we didn't stay long. In fact I think the fun times, for us anyway, lasted about two hours. Then, home we went to time more contractions and get some shut eye.

I slept for two hours. By 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning, I was pacing the house like a horse in heat. I was uncomfortable, aggravated, and sweaty. Sara slept soundly as I traipsed the area around our bed and into the hallway outside our bedroom. I was certain that it was time. Our little Graisyn Quinn was ready to make her appearance into the world. I was, however, still embarassed enough by Friday's events to second guess myself. I let Sara sleep while I continued making trails around our house.

Sara began to stir sometime around 1:30 a.m. She must have heard me panting with discomfort. Or maybe the sound of my plotting feet in and around our bedroom had finally been enough to wake her from her sleepiness. When she pulled herself fully from sleep mode, she asked me how long I had been awake and, more importantly, how far apart my contractions were. Oops. My bad. Seven to ten minutes apart I think.

Wrong. Let's try three to five minutes apart. It was time to head to the hospital. It was almost 3:00 a.m. Sara was adamant that we leave right away. I was adamant that I take a shower first. Listen, a girl has to be clean for a day like this. I won. Shower first, then we leave. Sam and baby one. Sara zero.

Sara and I arrived at the hospital at about 3:30 a.m. We entered through the E.R. and were escorted to the birthing unit. I was hooked up to monitors so that the nurses could be certain that it was actually time. "You're staying," they said. Sara went back to the truck to get our bags only because I made her leave them there for fear of being embarrassed all over again. They settled me into a birthing suite.

When Sara got back with our bags, we settled in. We were given instruction to walk to help the labor progress. We walked. We walked and walked and walked. We traveled the birthing unit for more than three hours. We got to know it very, very well.

Sara's parents, who received a premature phone call from her about the anticipation of our arrival, arrived at the hospital at 8:30 a.m. They were given strict instruction to wait down the hall so that I could manage the pain of my contractions. I was bedridden at this point and had opted for no pain management. That's right, the nurses never even started an I.V. on me. Mom and Dad in-law waited with anticipation down the hall.

My labor was progressing really well. It was about 10 a.m. and my water still had not broken and I was still just under 8 cm dilated. The doctor came in to break my water. Sara and I heard him tell the nurses that he would break my water and then head to the sister hospital to do rounds there. Not a chance. He broke my water and within ten or fifteen minutes, for sure within the next two contractions, I had to push. I guess this in unheard of. Typically first time moms take a bit longer to deliver. Maybe I should have told everyone that I am traditionally atypical. Oh well.

The nurse advised me to quit pushing. I advised her that was absolutely not a possibility. She checked and called the doctor back. Our baby, our Graisyn Quinn was on her way!

The doctor was back in the room. He asked if he had time to put on scrubs. He didn't. He ripped off his sweater and threw it on the pull out sofa next to him. The nurses threw paper scrubs over his designer button down. I pushed for a total of fifteen to twenty minutes and Graisyn made her debut into the world. She was here all too quickly and managed to rip me pretty substantially, but she was here nonetheless. I held my screeching baby while Sara cut her cord and I got stitched up. Then she was taken for her weighing and cleaning.

Grandma and Grandpa in-law came into the room as soon as they could. They fell in love with her as quickly as Sara and I had. I was exhausted, but with the visitors pre-birth and after birth, could not get my brain to settle down enough to sleep. The last of the visitors left, including Sara's parents, at 6:30 that evening. Finally it was our turn to get familiar with our new family. It was our turn to sleep. It was our turn to be with our baby.

Our Graisyn Quinn had arrived. 
October 26, 2008, 10:36 a.m. 19.5" long and a comfortable 6lbs. 15oz.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lawyers and Labor

It was the end of summer and my belly felt like a tomato that was going to split in the heat of the sun. It was September, or thereabouts, and I wasn't due until November 13th, 2008. I was already getting uncomfortable, but was willing to take one for the team and stick it out for a couple more months.

Things were winding down with the adoption process. This alone took a substantial amount of weight off of our shoulders. Our social worker had all of the documents finalized and sent over to our lawyer's office in Madison. Our lawyer prepared the adoption paperwork and set the date for our hearing. December 30, 2008. Phew! Just made the cusp. We'd be able to claim some of the adoption on that year's taxes. Our life and estate planning was also under wraps. Documents were signed and notarized, and copies were given to respective beneficiaries to be placed in safe keeping.

All we had left to do was meet with the guardian ad litem who would represent the interest of our daughter at the adoption hearing in December. The Law Center for Children & Family Services instructed us to schedule a call with the guardian ad litem prior to the adoption hearing. This would allow that individual to best serve the needs of our child and to get to know us and our family a bit better. What they meant to say was, "You don't know it yet, but this will allow that individual to double charge you because the questions they ask you during your phone call with them will be the same as questions they ask you on the day of your hearing pre-courtroom." I hate to say it, but it's true so, here goes. I'm cheap. The fact of the matter is I am fiscally mature. Now, that doesn't mean we have a lot of money because we don't. Sara and I both work entry level jobs and don't have college degrees. I am a Sales Assistant. Key word being assistant. She, at the time, was a dispatcher for the cable company. Key word...I digress. The point is we saved our asses off for this baby and I, we, were in no position to let money just fly willy nilly out the window.

So, I'm claiming ignorance! It was probably because we didn't read the fine print, but we didn't know there would be double charges for our lovely guardian ad litem. We didn't know the full listing of charges outside of the $1,200 fee for the social worker, the $5,000 "flat fee" for the adoption (including the $1,500 deposit), and the $2,000 "flat fee" for the life and estate planning. Flat fees don't include things like mailing, stipend for travel and food for our lawyers from their office to the adoption hearing, and even miscellaneous fees which probably applied to things like staples and envelopes or anything directly related to the preparation and successful delivery of our case. We didn't have a full understanding of any of these fees because we weren't billed for them until after our daughter was born and the adoption was complete. Because we didn't know, there was no need for ruckus so we remained quiet and compliant, and I scheduled a call with the guardian ad litem just weeks before our hearing in December.

Sara and I took the last couple of months of the pregnancy to rest and finish preparing for the arrival of our daughter, now deemed Graisyn Quinn. We made final touches to her room; a bouncy yellow and deep chocolate colored paradise with bits of dusty pink scattered throughout. Her name was elegantly stenciled on the wall above her crib. We stuffed all of the liners in the cloth diapers that would be used to cover her tiny bottom. We were the recipients of a wonderful baby shower which my aunt threw with the help of our mothers. We wrote thank-yous until our hands hurt for the plethora of items we received for Graisyn at the shower. We worked with our employers for the time we would be taking off to enjoy our new bundle. We read books on gay and lesbian families including statistics stating our child would still be normal even with two moms unless we did something deliberate to screw it up. We relaxed.

The air was growing crisp as summer wound down and fall wound up. We were going to to the doctor every other week for the last parts of September and then every week starting in October. Things were progressing really well with the pregnancy and they seemed to be progressing quickly too. At 34 weeks along, I was dilated to 1cm. This isn't anything unusual, I learned. Woman can sit for weeks at one, two, even three or four centimeters with nothing happening. I prayed that wouldn't be me. I wanted to make it to term, maybe go a tad early, and that was it. Not a second overdue!

Two more appointments came and went. At weeks 35 and 36, I was dilated to 2cm and Graisyn had already started to drop. I was certain I could have delivered her right there at the 36 week appointment, but my doctor told me that he would absolutely see me the following week. I know it was a bit premature, but given the amount of pressure that our little girl was putting on me, I couldn't fathom how my body would withstand potentially 6 more weeks of growth to make it a full 42 weeks.

The 36 week appointment fell early in the week, on a Monday or Tuesday, I think. I moseyed through the rest of the week doing my usual things, just doing them a bit slower. By Friday, I was uncomfortable, but not in any pain. I was having contractions at work and into the early evening that were every 12-17 minutes apart. I was also experiencing some loss of fluid which I linked directly to my water breaking. I was nervous. Sara was nervous. Neither of us could recall a damn thing from our labor and delivery class, so we did what any nervous, first time parents would do. We drove to the hospital.

False alarm. I spent an hour or two hooked up to monitors at the hospital with Sara right by side. I was having contractions, but they were not intense enough for real labor. That made sense, I wasn't in any pain. The fluid I was experiencing was another story. The nurse suggested I peed my pants when Graisyn kicked or due the pressure she was placing on my bladder. I told her that I did not pee my pants. Then I looked at Sara, completely and utterly humiliated and told her that I just knew I did not wet my pants. I felt my face getting hot and red. I was flustered and embarrassed. Tears welled in my eyes as I tried imagining that I may have actually pissed myself. No. I couldn't have. This fluid was pinkish in color, not yellow, and it was sporadic, not constant. It resolved to be the result of my cervix thinning, not a loose bladder. It was early labor, essentially a false alarm. Home we went...