Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homeschooling and Theaters

Apparently this guy is already everywhere, but I had to post these two.  :D  I really needed some humor.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Year's Resolutions and Catholic Guilt

I've finally started taking the Christmas tree down, probably six weeks sooner than the last time.  At least this time it won't have a hand in inducing labor, as I suspect it did last year.

I want this year to be better than last year.  Lots of good things happened last year, particularly for Dave's career, but it was an emotional train wreck.  It was much like 2010, actually, but more so.  It started on a hopeful note, then crashed and burned, and the nine months following March 8 were engulfed in a kind of Trauma Recovery Mode.  I don't believe I'm functioning at the level Dave deserves of a wife and homemaker while constantly in Trauma Recovery Mode.  (He hates that I think that, because he's awesome and thinks I'm perfect, often though I've tried to disabuse him of this notion.)

Now it's a new year all over again, and everyone is going on about resolutions.  I really want to get my life back on track, but what does that even mean?  Where is my track?  What am I supposed to be doing with myself?  I love being a wife, but it seems to me that there should be something else I should be doing besides sitting at home being a wife, doing laundry, dishes, writing fanfiction and playing online computer games.  My first choice was motherhood, but obviously the traditional approach isn't working.  Whenever I haven't been in Trauma Recovery Mode, I've been in Pregnancy Mode, which in my case is every bit as miserable.  Pregnancy Mode excludes every other type of activity, and of course leads to Trauma Recovery Mode, and the cycle begins again.  Remember the kid from Despicable Me who had his balloon animal popped?  That was me last year.

So now what do I do with myself?  My new year's resolution was to start functioning at 100% again.  As a result of the 2010-11 cycle of pregnancy and recovery I've gained all my college weight back and my running shoes and I aren't on the best of terms.  I always promised myself I would never be that overweight military wife with a host of emotional problems.  I want to stop being a black hole sucking down inordinate levels of Dave's attention, sympathy, and time.  All this would involve avoiding pregnancy, and that's where the Catholic guilt comes in.

Are we allowed to stop trying?  It's not like we're going to start using contraception or anything, but I can't decide whether the risks to my health and well-being are grave enough to justify the indefinite use of NFP.  Does this mean I have trust issues?  If I could just live a normal life during pregnancy, or if it were only about losing the children over and over again, it would be another story.  I would beat my head against that wall for the rest of my childbearing years if that were the case.  But, since I have to play the hand God dealt me, any pregnancy would automatically be high risk and require immediate and complete bed rest.  The original prognosis was a 25% chance of miscarriage just due to my condition.  Now that my already faulty system has been scarred by biopsies and a cesarean, the odds are rather worse.  Not being able to take care of myself is certainly not an ideal circumstance, particularly now that Dave is likely to be gone more often for the next three years.  I know I have several friends in the general area who would be more than happy to help, but they don't exactly live in the neighborhood and almost all of them are pregnant themselves.

I got the usual vague recommendations from the doctors and specialists.  The classic, "It could be nothing, or it could be life-threatening."  Not exactly helpful, but I suppose it was the best they could do.  There was a phase during which I was willing to take the risk, but we tried for four months and got nothing.

Now Dave is gone and I'm here alone trying to sort out my life.  The more I sit and think about it, the more I'm inclined to believe we're just one of those families who were meant to adopt.  But it seems like such a simple answer that I start second guessing myself, and wondering whether I'm interpreting the facts to suit my needs.

What are my needs?  I want to lose twenty pounds and fit into all the old clothes hanging in my closet.  I want to be free to go running, healthy enough to look after myself and stay out of the emergency room.  I don't want to be constantly stressed about the possibility of disappointing Dave and all the family again, about every little cramp being the beginning of the end.  I want to get out of this apartment now and then.  I want to be free to do my own grocery shopping, to vacuum, to walk a dog,  to dig my cars out of the snow, to function like a normal person.  Is that something to feel guilty about?  I do.

It's not that I want to simply "have a life" for myself, I'd like to have enough of a life to share it with someone else.  I'm useless to everyone while I'm pregnant, and it always comes to nothing.  "Always" is perhaps a strong word for only two failures, but each time feels like tempting fate.  Instead of spending "the best years" of my life as an invalid, alone and feeling sorry for myself, can't we just adopt and make some other poor kid's life better?  Is that so wrong?

That's what I want to do, regardless; but I can't help feeling that I'm just wimping out.  I've always needed someone to tell me what to do, because if I make up my own mind, I always suspect my conclusion is biased.  I feel like I need some kind of dispensation.  I used to tell myself I'd rack up four or five miscarriages before I'd call quits, but at this point I'm more worried about surviving to fight another day.  I want to have our own kids in the worst way, so much so that I still get physically nauseated around my pregnant friends.  But I'd rather give that up if it means being able to function as a healthy parent for two or three kids who would have otherwise have been stuck in foster care.

Anyway, I have a few more weeks of being alone to think about it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Forewarned is Forearmed

Everyone who knows me knows I have a not-so-secret weakness for reality TV.  Not the stupid stuff, the nity-gritty stuff that just might teach you something.  I'm a long-time follower of "The Biggest Loser;" nothing else makes me actually want to go to the gym.  I watch an episode of "Hoarders" when I need a reason to clean up the house.  "Parking Wars" helps me laugh at my own DMV and car registration headaches, while probably helping me avoid a future freak-out in the event that my car is mysteriously impounded.  "COPS," "The First 48," "Crime 360," and "Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force" just fuel my morbid fascination with murder and crime investigation.

I've recently discovered a series called "Jacked: Auto Theft Task Force" about a special crackdown on auto theft in Newark, New Jersey.  The opening sequence begins with sobering statistic. 

"Every 26 seconds a car is stolen in the U.S."

Really?  Goodbye, I'm off to go buy a club for my steering wheel.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Life, Death and Worry

I'll admit I worry more than the average person.  I keep an eye on the parking lot just in case something happens to our car.  I don't leave the dryer running when I leave home just in case it explodes into flame while I'm gone.  I give my husband a real goodbye hug every time he leaves the house, just in case it may be the last time I see him.  I wonder if the apartment will be burgled every time we go somewhere for a long weekend.  But we still go.  We still live here, I still use the dryer, I don't forbid my husband to go on deployment, or ask that he give up his career for a safer job.  Does that make me reckless?  I think not.

Perhaps I am paranoid, but I've heard it described as being concerned rather than worried.  I've managed to be "hyper-concerned" without becoming paralyzed by the "what-if's" that confront me each day.  What if this hamburger has e. coli?  What if that strange pain in my neck is meningitis?  What if I have a horrible car accident?  What if I DIE?  Just because people have been known to die doing ordinary things like living in the city, driving on the interstate, and staying in hotels is no reason to avoid these activities at all cost.  The evil burglars may indeed trash our apartment while we visit family out of state; they may destroy all our worldly possessions, steal our identities, ruin our credit.  Or they may not.  I can't control that, and it doesn't do me any good to worry about it beyond taking the normal precautions, locking the doors and windows.  My parents - particularly my father - raised us to have a healthy vigilance for purse-snatchers, rapists, thieves, kidnappers, and crazed gunmen, but they didn't forbid us to leave the house.  We have a duty to be functional adults despite all that, and an obligation to teach our children to be functional as well.

It's a dangerous world, but we have to live in it.  If you can't accept the possibility of random catastrophic accidents and the proverbial bad things that happen to good people, perhaps you have a vocation to the cloister.  I don't want to cripple the one life I have with irrational fears.  After all, none of us makes it out of this world alive anyway.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Car Troubles, Part 2

For a moment we thought we'd lost the registration for the Old Car, which would complicate the process, but it has been found.  I called the donation people yesterday and was supposed to hear from the towing company, but got nothing until today when I decided to be the squeaky wheel and call again.  Hopefully Old Car will be towed away and gone by this time tomorrow.  I really wanted to expedite the process because I'd like to go visit the family over the weekend without worrying that the apartment office somehow discovered Old Car was dead in the water and towed it away for lease violation.

There was only one chore remaining, and that was to remove the semi-permanent Ft. Meade registration stickers.  Obviously it would be a breach of security to have them roll off the lot with the car.  I remembered removing them from my car with a small razor blade without much trouble.  As it is the last minute, I ran outside to take care of this after confirming pickup with the tow company.

It's raining today, and rather cold.  And because Old Car still had out-of-state plates, the stickers were in a different place.  My stickers were in the bottom right-hand corner of the windshield.  Old Car's stickers were dead center on the TOP of the windshield.

I'm sure it was vaguely humorous to watch me crawl all over a slimy wet car trying to reach those stickers with my tiny razor blade.  Thanks to a small miracle, I managed to get the identifying number and expiration dates off, but I plan on asking the tow truck guy if he has a sticker scraper to get the rest.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Living in the Big Picture

In the very near future, we will have our first deployment experience.  I can't complain, because it won't be for a terribly long time.  It will be the longest we've been separated since our wedding, but only by a smidge.  There will be other longer deployments throughout the year, but nothing unbearable.  I finished sewing the new patches on his uniforms today.

Apparently I'm considered a bit of an anomaly by Dave's shipmates, in that I encourage him to volunteer for these things, not that he really needed my approval.  If he's going to go, he might as well go now while there's nobody at home but me.  While God still sees fit to deny us living children, we're determined to make the most of it.  I'll probably take the chance to take a few road trips while he's gone.

Besides, this all plays into the larger plan of making his resume look better than the next guy, getting a promotion, moving into a larger apartment, and eventually being in a position to adopt.

Back the #%@& Off

I don't generally follow political campaigns in their every detail.  I know what I think, and I generally know who I'm voting for long before any serious debates happen.  I don't take part in political conversations or venture opinions on controversial topics in mixed company because all my life my opinion has been summarily dismissed because I've been deemed too young, too naive, too sheltered, too misinformed, too inexperienced to make any definitive statements.  Now I will make an exception.

I usually get all my political news in the early hours of the morning when my husband checks all his favorite blogs and news sites before heading off to work.  So, the recent attacks on Rick Santorum and his family have come to my attention, the ones that brand him a weirdo for taking home the body of their premature son before burying him.  Really, this has to be a new low.

The classic quotes circulating the internet are those of one Alan Colmes, saying this was one of the crazier of all the "crazy things [Santorum's] said and done," and a Eugene Robinson, who cites the incident as proof that Santorum isn't just "a little weird, he's really weird."

What is so weird and crazy about wanting to spend some time with the body of your child?!  It may be the only time you ever get.  As my husband curtly observed, people used to call it a wake.  I wish we could have had a whole night with our son.  We had a whopping 30 minutes in the morgue with hospital staff hovering over our shoulders the whole time.  They were probably afraid we would try to do something "weird" and  "crazy."  And don't try to tell me Little David was "just a fetus."  He was 24 weeks and only weighed a pound, but he was doing his best to breathe on his own even though his lungs wouldn't be fully developed for another eight weeks.  He was trying to cry and open his eyes far ahead of schedule.  He drowned in his own blood after fighting for life for two days, so don't tell me he doesn't count as a real person.

This is precisely why I don't follow the media storm.  I have a thousand better things to do than suffer the blathering opinions and half-baked reactions of the infantile minds which have taken upon themselves to be the mouthpieces of the nation.  They seem to be too absorbed in their extended adolescence to handle important adult issues like the realities of parenthood and death.  Little David's birthday is coming up in March, and we are definitely going to celebrate.  This Christmas his little stocking hung between ours, just like it will every year.  Is that morbid, weird, or crazy?

The only advice I have for the liberal media is some I live by myself, and that is to shut the hell up when you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year, New Look

One again, I've redesigned and renamed the blog.  Dave never has time to blog, so I've finally accepted that I'll be doing all the talking.  I've been waiting a few years for a decent title to come to me, so this one is a more accurate reflection of my outlook on life lately, a problem-solver generally along for the ride.  I promise it isn't likely to change again any time soon.

Car Troubles

This is the Old Car, a 2002 Buick Century.

It was very used when David acquired it as a job-hunting college graduate.  It stayed with his family at home for quite some time after he joined the Navy, and due to the impossibility of shipping more than one car to join us on the other side of the country after the wedding, it was passed over in favor of the newer car provided by my family.  It was suspected that Old Car might have a bit of trouble if ever forced to take a California emissions test.

This is the Newer Car, a 2009 Hyundai Elantra.  It has served us well for several years now, including driving us back to the east coast from California last April.  As the one family car for a year and a bit, it behaved very well, and still hasn't had any major mechanical problems.  Getting it's paperwork straightened out was quite another story, but that wasn't it's fault.  It passed it's emissions test with flying colors, and is still running strong.

When we moved back from California, we picked up the Old Car at Dave's parents' house and brought it up here with us.  There were a few interesting things wrong with it, notably the broken knob on the defroster control, and the fact that the actual key which unlocked the door (different from the key for the ignition) was missing.  I never did like using the remote to lock and unlock the car, but Dave loves it, so it didn't seem like an urgent problem.

We were busy enough with the Elantra's paperwork without worrying right away about the Buick, but eventually it was time to regularize it's status as well.  It was still registered in another state, but we had just been given the title by Dave's family.  Before we could get it registered, we would need a license plate mount on the front to comply with state law.  Apparently that is a big job on that particular model, and we had to get it to a dealership for that.  I don't even remember what it cost.  $$$  At some point it was discovered that it needed a new tire, and we thought it best to replace all four.  $$$  While at Firestone, the mechanics made a list of things about the Old Car which would not pass the state inspection required for registration.  We eventually got all of those fixed.  $700.  Finally we had a free day to take it for its state inspection.  $70.  Unfortunately it failed, and another list of nitpicky things was drawn up for repair.  This would allegedly cost at least another $700 plus another $70 inspection.  In the meantime, we took it for a routine oil change, and it's power steering fluid turned up very low.  $220.

At this point I was ready to dump it.  We've been here eight months and we haven't managed to get it registered yet, and it allegedly only has two years before we start having transmission problems anyway.  After some discussion and window shopping, we decided to shop for a Hyundai Accent ASAP and not bother repairing or registering the Old Car.

Old Car apparently took offense.  A few days later, Dave had to take my car, the Elantra, to work because the remote which unlocked the door was apparently no longer working.  I spent the rest of the day finding out what it would cost to get that fixed.  It would involve at least a locksmith ($60) and parts and labor at the dealership ($200).  We called his family and began making inquiries about that missing door key.

The locksmith came and popped the door, the second remote was acquired from the glovebox, and we thought we were back in business.  We were planning to go car shopping within the week, anyway.  The only question was whether we were going to donate Old Car or trade it in.  But another attempt to take Old Car to work revealed that it wasn't the key remote that was at fault.  Apparently the whole car is dead.  It's probably the battery, and neither of us has the first idea how to jump start it properly.  In the meantime, the key was found a few states away in an old coat pocket, and is allegedly in the mail to us now.  Rather than mess with mechanics or tow trucks or any repair fees, we opted for the donation route.  The dead car is still sitting in the parking lot, waiting to be rejoined by its door key and towed away for charity.

This is our Newest Car, a 2012 Hyundai Elantra.  The dealership was unfortunately all sold out of Accents, so we got an upgrade.  Fortunately, this particular car had been their demo model, and we got a $2000 discount because of it's 3000 miles of test drives.  We'll have to live by a stricter budget for a while, but at this particular point in our lives, with no kids or pets, it seemed like the best time to get a more reliable car.

Dave, ever the gentleman, was kind enough to let me have the new car, and to accept the old trusty Elantra as Old Car's replacement.  :)

P.S.  We usually give our belongings nicknames, sometimes more flattering than others.  The old Elantra was generally dubbed "Little Car" since all the others seemed to be bigger.  My sister, quite the character, called it "Squatty Body," because she hates riding so close to the ground.  For a day we called the new car "Squatty Body 2.0", but I'll probably call it the "Snowmobile," not just because of the color, but because we had it thoroughly rust and corrosion-proofed in anticipation of the winter weather and salted roads we're supposed to have up here.