Friday, December 17, 2010

Hats and Scarves

At the end of October a truck from AmeriGas pulls into our driveway and a man takes some kind of hose into our backyard. It seems like he's filling up our propane tank (that's how the houses are heated out here). But that can't be what he's doing because we didn't order any gas. We didn't even need gas! We had 40% left in our tank and had no intention of ordering more until it got down to 10%! Neither of us have had any experience with gas before. We'd always had electric furnaces. So we didn't know how long our 40% worth of gas would last us but we figured we'd be good til at least January. But here we are, days before unemployment, with a $400 gas bill taped to our front door. We barely had enough money to pay our rent and now we had a $400 bill come out of nowhere! We talked to the landlord and he said he had no idea that the tenant who lived here before us had set up an automatic refill. He's so sorry and all. But we still need to pay it. No, not in six weeks. Now.

I was so furious! We didn't ask for the gas. We didn't need the gas. We didn't want the gas. I told Brian to call the company and tell them to come back and get their gas because we weren't paying for it. Of course he didn't. We paid for it and figured that $400 to heat our home for the whole winter was a pretty good deal.

That was six weeks ago. Since then we've been walking around the house in tank tops and boxers. Sometimes the heat is blowing so often that I feel like I'm suffocating. I wake up in the morning with my blankets thrown off me because it's so hot. It has turned into a constant argument between us. I tell him the heat is too high, that people aren't supposed to walk around in shorts in the wintertime. And he turns it down to pacify me but a few days later I see it's set above 70 again and he smirks and says, "Oops." He thinks it's a joke, I guess.

Well the joke is over now! He finally shoveled himself a path out back to check the gage and we've gone through $300 worth of gas in 6 weeks. LOL!

We've been foolish, yes. But we have like 4 months of winter left and there's still time to change this around. I googled ways to save on gas and read some interesting articles. Here's some suggestions:

1. Close the vents and doors of unused rooms. Great idea! The cats don't need their own room! Vents and doors closed!

2. Seal all gaps in the windows. $4 in the hardware department of Walmart and the problem is solved!

3. Turn heat down to 62 at night and throw an extra blanket on the bed. This one's easy. We have our thin North Carolina comforter, a heavy Michigan blanket that Aunt Bonnie let us borrow and we got a down comforter for Christmas (on sale for $25!!!!) We'll be cozy.

4. Turn heat down to 60 when you'll be gone for 8 or more hours. Damn, we went downstate twice this fall and never turned down the heat! Guess the cats will be a little chilly the next time we go but they can always crawl under the down comforter to warm up.

5. When you're done cooking, leave the oven open to help heat the kitchen. What a great idea! I'll be baking cookies all week. That'll be a big help, huh? We're gonna save so much money thanks to these helpful tips!

6. Replace your filter once a month. What filter? Do we have a filter? Where might a filter be?

7. Every degree makes a difference on your bill so experiment to see how much you can handle. Put slippers on if you're cold. Throw a blanket over you while you're watching TV. I totally have a creepy Snuggie commercial in my head right now. The one where they sing the Snug-a-rena and hop around in tie-dyed Snuggies like some kind of Kool-Aid drinking cult.

8. It's a good idea to wear a hat when you're indoors because most of the body's heat escapes through the head. Hmm...a hat inside? Seems kind of weird. And it's not gonna go well with our static electricity problem.

9. It also helps to keep your neck warm by wearing a scarf while indoors. Oh come on now, is this a joke? Can you imagine the two of us sitting on the couch playing Super Mario Bros in Snuggies, hats and scarves?!?!? I think I'd rather pay the gas bill!

Oh, and speaking of household nuisances, WTF is the deal with the static? If we try to get up off the couch, the couch tries to come with us. I get shocked every time I touch ANYTHING. I haven't been able to brush my hair in a week! It's super super annoying. So we bought a humidifier. One with a warm mist. Sounds great, right? But when I got it home and read the directions I realized this MFer is another chore! Every 24 hours I need to turn off the appliance, wait for it to cool down, wash the cover with soap and warm water and then scrub some other part of the gadget. Then, once a week, I also need to run bleach water through it. That's an awful lot of maintenance! Is this a humidifier or a dog? Do I need to take it for walks, too? I think I might take it back and get some anti-static spray instead. I have 26 weeks left to be lazy and I plan on enjoying them!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Rest of the Great Week

We had a little scare on Thursday when we found out Brian's boss quit her job. I was a bundle of nerves wondering if Brian would still have a job in May. We found out on Friday that all was good and he was invited back! Whew!

Friday was chore day. It's the day that we agreed that Brian would take the laundry to the laundromat and I would do the dishes. I know that being laid off gives me no excuse not to do dishes everyday. But I think I mentioned before how much I dislike this particular chore and if you hate doing something, it doesn't matter how much time you have, there's always something better to do. Back in the summer I hardly ever had to do dishes because we ate out all the time. But now we were eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at home and the evidence was in the sink. And on the counter. Oh, I had waited way too long.

I don't know if we have a smaller hot water heater than most but we only have about 20 minutes of hot water. So I would do dishes for 20 minutes, then take a break for 20 minutes. This went on for FIVE HOURS. It took me five hours to do the dishes. Ok, so maybe I was taking breaks for an hour and not 20 minutes. Whatever. At least they eventually got done and it felt fabulous. I told Brian when he got home with the laundry that I wasn't going to wait that long ever again. "I can't believe I waited until every dish in the house was dirty." And he said, "Not everything was dirty. You know those yellow things you stick into corn on the cob? I saw a few in the silverware drawer. I was about to use one as a fork." In my defense, I should tell you that we don't have many dishes to begin with. We have 4 plates, like 6 I'm not the worst housewife that ever lived. Just not the best.

Saturday we rolled out of bed sometime around 1pm and got a phone call from my dad. He was asking me if we were prepared for the blizzard. What blizzard? Apparently we were the only 2 people in the US who didn't know there was a blizzard headed towards us and expected to begin in just 6 hours. Seriously, when we turned on the TV it actually said "Blizzard Warning." I thought blizzards only happened at the North Pole! We haven't even got an ice scraper for the car yet! So we made another trip to Cheboygan for an ice scraper and cookie-baking ingredients. I figured I mines well make myself useful if we're snowed in.

The Blizzard is over now and we survived. Brian even cleared out our entire driveway (it's like 80 feet long and wide enough for 2 cars!). The front yard is alright but the snow drift out back goes up to my chest! We were only stuck inside for 2 days and Brian is getting cranky. He says he's tired of sitting home playing video games. I understand, but what are we supposed to do?

Back To The Present!

Thanks for letting me catch ya'll up on baby stuff. Now we are back to the present tense! Hopefully I can stay there. I have a huge problem of switching my tenses around so please try to dredge through the tense mess and know that I am aware of my problem.

Anyway, this has been a really good week for us!

Last Sunday Brian made dinner. Spaghetti. I took a bite and I honestly thought that if I swallowed it I would drop dead. It wasn't just a simple dislike for something. It was absolute hatred! My first pregnancy aversion! Some people say that your body rejects things that are bad for you when you're pregnant but I don't know if I believe that because my body really seems to like chocolate (maybe it's the calcium?).

On Monday we got an invitation to Shepler's Christmas party! Yay! I get to go somewhere and show off my bump! And have free dinner! As long as there's no hamburger meat. Yuck.

On Tuesday we found out that Brian's unemployment claim was approved and the money was put on his debit card! That's a huge relief! Our bills are all up to date now, our Christmas shopping is just about done and we even have money left over to go to NC to see Brian's family for New Years!

Wednesday was my 12-week check-up. The only OBGYN office in northern Michigan is in Petoskey which is 35 miles away. On wednesdays they send a Dr over to St Ignace to save a little bit of time and gas money for the Yoopers. We decided to make our appt for St Ignace. They tell me the Dr will be at the old hospital. I put the address in my GPS and it takes me to a building just slightly larger than my house. Is this the right place? Did this really used to be a hospital?!?!

We go in and there's a sign with the name of 4 doctors on it and arrows pointing in different directions. Before I have a chance to follow any arrow the lady at the counter says, "You must be here to see Dr Cockfield." (Yes, my Obgyn's name is Cockfield - How awesome is that?). I said to Brian, "She knew I was here for the Obgyn! I must totally be showing!" And Brian said, "We're the only people here under 80."

This place is CREEPY! When they said old hospital, they really meant old! If I was ever to direct a horror movie that took place in a hospital I would pay anything to shoot it here! I could probably come in one night with a video camera and make the next blockbuster....a real version of Paranormal Activity!

So I go into an exam room, lie down on the bed and I'm staring at a metal mobile that hangs from the ceiling. You know, the kind that's usually over a crib but this is like a 1950s version. The circus animals look like they're made out of corks, wood and construction paper. I don't know what it's doing there but it's definitely a nice touch to the Film Noir.

The nurse feels around for a heartbeat for about 5 minutes and then gives up. She tells me not to worry, the doctor is usually much better at this. I'm not worried at all. lol, jk.

When Dr Cockfield finally arrives she finds the heartbeat right away. (Breath Out) We also got to hear some swooping noises that the baby made when it kicked. It was kicking a lot! She said everything looks good. I asked what my chances were now of having a baby and she said 99%. That number seems kind of low to me. 1 out of 100. I'd feel a lot better if it was 1 out of 10000 but I can't do anything to change statistics. All I can do is HOPE for the best.

Thursday was a great day, too. We went Christmas shopping in Petoskey. They have a Meijer there! I never realized how much I liked Meijer until it wasn't around anymore.

We decided last week to decorate the nursery in a Peanuts theme. It's a good gender-neutral theme plus it honors by beloved Snoopy. I figured I'd have to buy everything online because how often are you walking through a store and you see Peanuts stuff? Well there I was, walking through Meijer when I saw a Peanuts 60th anniversary display! Tons of stuff! Mostly holiday related which we didn't want but I found some non-holiday dolls that would look cute on a shelf or a dresser. I put them in my cart just to show Brian. I had no intention of buying them. I mean, just because our financial troubles were behind us didn't mean I could buy everything I saw. But they were the only ones. And when I went back to the display to put them away there was a crowd there. I just couldn't leave them behind. So it's official. We made our first nursery purchase!!!!

Disclaimer: Those are decorations, not toys! They will be HIGH on a shelf and not played with by Baby Cramer until said child is 6 years old, as recommended on the package.

So Thankful

THANKSGIVING TRIP 2010 - 11 weeks pregnant

I moped around for a week, then I got a Wii game and played with that for a week, then it was time to go home for Thanksgiving. I only had 1 pair of pants that fit me these days except pajama bottoms and sweats. So I packed sweats. We were having dinner at Mom's on Thursday and my aunt's house on Friday - both places where sweats were acceptable. At least I'd be able to fit a lot of food in =)

Brian LOVES Christmas. He was dancing around the house to Christmas music even before Thanksgiving. Then we listened to Christmas music the whole way down while I read baby magazines that we checked out from the library. It was in these magazines that I read that a baby eats for 8 hours a day! Holy crap! It was a nice trip, though. It's hard not to be in a good spirit when you're around such enthusiasm and you're drinking a Slurpee.

As soon as we got in we met the family for dinner. My aunt from New England was in town and she asked me about baby names which was fun. I talked about names as if I was definitely going to be naming a baby, not like I might be. (BTW, Bentley got a family-wide veto). My cousin asked if I wanted to go to a New Kids On The Block concert in June and I said I couldn't because that's when the baby was due. I didn't say, "I might be able to." See? I was making progress.

On Thursday my mom caught her turkey on fire and we had to eat out! The only place open was Old Country Buffet. The food was pretty awful and the people were germy and a little creepy. But at least we have a story to laugh about in the future.

Aside from Christmas itself, Black Friday is Brian's favorite day of the year. He loves a good deal and giving gifts is his favorite part of the season. He poured over the ads for hours. We didn't have any money to do any shopping. We could maybe spend $25 or so and I didn't think that was worth being out in the middle of the night but I didn't have the heart to tell him that so we were out on Black Friday from 11pm-3am. We didn't even buy anything because the lines were insane. It was more of a people-watching excursion. But Brian had fun and that's all that mattered.

Old Navy had all pajama bottoms on sale for $5 and that's what I really wanted. When we went at 2:30am the line to check out was 2 hours long. We went back at 3:30pm and the line was 1 hour long. We went back again around 9pm and there was no line and only ONE pair of pajama bottoms left in my size! It was like they were waiting for me. They are the thermal ones that are tight at the ankle so they don't ride up in bed. They make me look like an elf but I love them anyway!

I didn't know until we got to the store that all jeans were also on sale, including maternity jeans! Even though we couldn't really afford it, we bought 2 pairs. I figured we'd have to buy them eventually and why pay $38 later when we could pay $15 right now? I looooove my maternity jeans! One pair has denim covering the stretchy waistband so they don't even look like maternity and the other pair just have about an inch of stretchy cotton on top, instead of that full-panel kind. They are so super comfy that I might start wearing maternity jeans when I'm not pregnant!

I know that the superstitions say you aren't supposed to buy anything at all pregnancy or baby-related until after the first trimester but, come on, there's only so many times a person can go out in public in sweatpants before it really starts to mess with their self-esteem.

I wore my maternity pants on Saturday! First we went shopping for Christmas decorations with Dad, then to Greektown for Five Guys Burgers & Fries. Then he dropped us off at the mall to meet my mom and we shopped or another 4 hours and I got a frozen cherry drink from the Pretzel Peddler - I'm so glad that place is still there! Frozen drinks seem to be my pregnancy craving. Oh man, they make me so happy. I was on my feet in my Shape-Ups alllllllll day but I still felt great! I had to make up for the last 2 weeks of laziness at home!

We had to leave on Sunday to get back to the kids (cats). It's always a sad drive back. It's not that I don't like living here, it just gets boring and lonely. If the cats and my OBGYN weren't here I'd stay downriver all winter. There's so much to do, so many people to see...and there's Target! Oh how I love Target and their frozen Coke machine.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bad Bad Baby Boards!

NOVEMBER 6, 2010 - 8 weeks pregnant

Dad took us to Frankenmuth on the way back up north. I couldn't wait to get in the car after dinner so I could unbutton my pants! They might have been tight because I ate too much but I chose to believe it was the baby.

NOVEMBER 8, 2010 - 8 weeks, 2 days pregnant

We were down state for 5 days and I never felt any morning sickness. In the back of my mind I was a little bit worried about this. But believe me, I got all 5 days worth today! I was in bed allllll day. No TV, no computer. That's how crappy I felt. I kept telling myself that this was a good thing and I definitely wasn't going to complain about it like a Fertile Ho. As bad as I felt I also knew how lucky I was to experience this because not everybody gets a chance to.

NOVEMBER 9, 2010 - 8 weeks, 3 days pregnant

Whew, I felt way better today. Since I'm not working at the moment I've been using all of this extra time to watch baby shows. (I had to stop watching them after the miscarriage but they were still recording on the DVR). I watched the whole 2nd season of Teen Mom in just a few days. I told myself I better hurry up and watch them while I had the chance. I was also watching 16 & Pregnant, A Baby Story and Bringing Home Baby. And when I got tired of that I would play Wii. It was right after a boxing and baseball session with Brian that I started spotting AGAIN! GRRRR! I am so tired of this roller coaster. Make me happy one day then miserable the next! I was so angry! I told Brian we never should have told people this early. We've jinxed ourselves!

I got back on the computer and did the worst thing I could do - I started reading pregnancy message boards. Not just any pregnancy boards, but the Pregnant After Loss boards where every single poster had lost a baby. This might sound therapeutic. Hearing stories from other women going through the same thing must be quite comforting, right? WRONG!!!! I looked up the antonym of the word "therapeutic" in an online thesaurus and it gave me the word "damaging." That would be putting it mildly. Those boards are bad for so many reasons.

1. These aren't just women who have had miscarriages. Miscarriages are like ice cream sundaes compared to what some of these women have been through.

2. They put their stories in their signatures so even when they're talking about something mundane like a sale at Babies R Us (BRU as they call it), I still have to read about how this person lost a 3-year-old to cancer, this person had a miscarriage at 13 weeks, this person lost her baby at 20 weeks because of an incompetent cervix, and this one had to deliver a dead baby who died from a brain hemorrhage!

3. Before I came to these boards I'd never heard of an incompetent cervix or premature rupture of the membranes or any of the thousands of things that can go wrong but now I had another thousand things to worry about, and not just during the pregnancy but for the child's entire life. I thought my worries would end after the first trimester but they weren't even going to end after the birth! I still had SIDS to worry about, terminal illnesses, deadly allergies, school shootings, drug overdoses, car accidents....Geez, how my parents have been able to sleep a single night in the last 31 years I have no idea!

4. You think I'm negative? These women make me look like Gidget! Some girl posted that she was happy to have seen a heartbeat at 8 weeks because her chance of losing the baby had now gone down to 5% (the same thing that I was thinking right now). The poor girl was attacked! She was told that percentages didn't mean anything if you were in the smaller number, that she could easily be one of those 5 and that the doctor who gave her that number was wrong anyway because tons of babies were lost after 8 weeks. How can anyone with a heart tear down someone who was only trying to look on the bright side?!

5. Not only are they negative, but a lot of them are just cruel self-righteous bitches. They act like they are the only woman in the world who deserve to have children because they have successful careers, successful husbands, the best health insurance, the best mini-van, the best nanny on standby, they're already wait-listed at the most prestigious pre-school, they've got a Babymoon booked on Bora Bora and already scheduled the pin-striped diaper service. And because they are the only women who deserve to have children it goes without saying that their opinions are the only ones that matter. God forbid some unsuspecting mother-to-be says something about buying her baby a winter coat or putting a baby-mirror in their car or feeding their baby anything but homemade baby food. A lot of people who are pregnant for the first time don't know about certain dangers and it's ok to educate them, but these bitches berate them and tell them they can't believe someone like them can have children and they can't. I mean, I used to say the same things about people like Casey Anthony and other child-abuser/child-killers, but I would never even think something like that about someone who fed their baby Gerber!

6. And lastly, being around such a condensed group of women who have all lost babies makes it seem like nobody in the world ever actually delivers a healthy baby that comes home from the hospital and lives a long, happy, healthy life.

Disclaimer: I should tell you that the girls on the Loss boards are not the only pompous bitches...the truth is that they are on every board. If you don't believe me, go onto a baby name board, mention that you're thinking of naming your unborn daughter Nevaeh and watch the attacks begin.

Brian told me to stay off those boards. My mom told me to stay off. Even my Dr told me to stay away. But did I listen? No. Instead, I read the stories of all the poor babies who died and I didn't get out of bed for a week.

We Have A Heartbeat!

NOVEMBER 2, 2010 - 7 weeks, 3 days pregnant

Seeing a heart beating on that ultrasound screen was such a relief! It was just like in the movies. I had tears in my eyes, Brian was glowing. I felt like a normal person finally. Brian thought a heartbeat meant that we could start telling people. I still wasn't ready. It's not that I wasn't feeling positive because I felt great, but I just had a feeling that it was too early for people to be excited about this and, like I said before, my baby deserved excitement! Brian won the argument, just like always. He said since we were both laid off now that we should go home and tell my family in person! Bribery usually works with me.

NOVEMBER 5, 2010 - 7 weeks, 6 days pregnant

If there was one person who was completely positive and not at all cautious about this pregnancy (and apparently didn't believe in superstitions), it was my mom! She took us shopping to look at baby stuff. I told her it was too early to buy anything and that we were only price-comparing. No matter how cute something is, or how good of a sale they might have on an item, we were NOT BUYING ANYTHING! Next thing we knew she had a cart full of little ducky hats and booties and pajamas. She was even going to buy some clearanced summer clothes for both boys and girls until I talked her out of it. (Then she told me a few days later that she went back and bought some). I didn't mind, though. I was just so excited to be in the baby department.

We had a great little trip down state. It was nice to get away and stop thinking about bills and unemployment checks for a few days and since I hadn't had any spotting in a week I was feeling better than ever!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hope For The Best, Expect The Worst

OCTOBER 22, 2010 - Part 2

Our joy over the nice looking sac didn't last very long. The doctor called a few hours after we left the office and told me my progesterone levels were low. VERY low. Progesterone is the hormone that thickens the lining of the uterus when a woman is pregnant and sheds the lining of the uterus when she's not pregnant. A low progesterone level means your body is getting ready to shed! She called me in a prescription for supplements. She warned me that this kind of treatment was controversial and had never been proven to work but that it didn't hurt to try it.

I did some research on the internet and came across some news articles and research studies. Apparently the progesterone/miscarriage relationship is similar to the chicken/egg debate. There could be a communication error going on and my body doesn't produce progesterone because it doesn't realize it's pregnant. This would mean that low progesterone levels could be the cause of a miscarriage (and could have caused the last one!). But on the other hand, this could mean that the body does realize that it's pregnant but also realizes that the embryo is not well and the hormones drop in preparation for the miscarriage. This would mean that the pending miscarriage is the cause of the low progesterone. Which is the cause and which is the effect? I guess they haven't figured that out yet but we went ahead and got those supplements anyway. We were hoping for the best but I thought it was safest to expect the worst.

So I went to work everyday and smiled in people's faces because that was my job. I came home from work and smiled at Brian because whenever I expressed my worries to him he would get mad at me for being pessimistic. (Seriously, though, if he wanted a cheerleader he should have married one) When I talked to my parents I told them things were ok. I even talked a little about baby names and nursery furniture. But I still had that feeling of impending doom. I was also a nervous wreck. I was afraid to sneeze, afraid to laugh, cough, do any kind of exercise. I was afraid to stand for too long, sit for too long, bend over to tie my shoes or wear pants that weren't stretchy. I was in such a panic that I didn't get out of bed at all on my days off. Brian was pretty good, though. He did all of the cooking and chores and didn't even complain about it.

I did some more research on the internet to find out if other women who were PGAL (that means pregnant after a loss) ever got as excited about subsequent pregnancies as they had been about their first. I felt like I was cheating my baby out of the happy mom he or she deserved and I wanted to know how and when I was going to snap out of it. This is the article I found if you are interested. It explains all of this way better than I can and even uses my "One Foot In, One Foot Out" metaphor.

It made me feel a lot better to know that these feelings were normal and felt by so many others. They said there was a chance that I would feel better once I surpassed the time of the previous loss but I thought the only thing that was going to make me feel better was seeing a heartbeat. The doctor told me that once a heartbeat is seen on an ultrasound my chances of miscarriage went from 20% to more like 5%. So this was the milestone we were now waiting for. Our first official prenatal appointment was scheduled for November 2nd and there should be a heartbeat by then. That was in two weeks. I have to say, it might have been the longest two weeks of my life.

A Nice Looking Sac

OCTOBER 22, 2010 - 5 weeks, 6 days pregnant

I'm sitting in the waiting room of the OB office and I swear I am in an episode of 16 & Pregnant because the room is packed with groups of three; Mom, Teenage Daughter and Teenage Boyfriend. Not only am I the oldest pregnant woman in the room, but I'm pretty sure I'm actually older than some of the moms of the teenagers! I am gagging on the overpowering scent of Patchouli oil. What kind of douchebag wears Patchouli oil to the OBGYN? Don't these kids know that pregnant women have a bionic sense of smell that can identify different scents from 6 miles away? Speaking of knowledge, did anyone teach them about condoms?

At this point I'm not optimistic about the baby and I'm starting to go back into my I-hate-all-pregnant-people phase. I know it's irrational and childish but it's also pretty crappy to be surrounded by all these "oopsies" while I might be losing another baby. And to make this situation even worse, a threesome is making their way out the door when the mom hands the daughter the ultrasound pic and the surly emo girl waves her hand, rolls her eyes and says, "I don't want that." WTF I wanted to strangle that skinny skank! Oh, and I should probably clarify that I didn't hate all pregnant people after my MC, I just hated the ones who complained about being pregnant, the ones who didn't want to be pregnant and the Fertile Hos. I will write an entire blog post about the Fertile Hos in the future. But back to the appointment.

There's really not much to see on the ultrasound this early. The tech confirms that the gestational sac is inside my uterus (versus being in a tube) and that it's at the top of my uterus. I didn't understand why that was important so she explained it to me. She said an embryo that is going to miscarry will slowly scoot its way down the uterus towards the cervix so it can get out. It's not likely to spontaneously fall from the top of the uterus and out the hoo-haa. Basically that meant my little black dot had not started an evacuation route just yet. Looking at the location of my black dot on the screen I realized that the last time we were here my black dot was at the bottom. She didn't tell me what that meant the last time though. She didn't really say anything except "You probably have your dates wrong," before she disappeared from the room in a cloud of dust like the Roadrunner. This time she was cheerful and talkative. She told me, "That's a good looking sac." Then she gave me a picture of it! I definitely didn't get this treatment the last time! All good signs, right?

Brian and I were so excited about this. A good looking sac, we kept repeating to each other. Our baby is a good looking sac! Our sac is not trying to escape from us right now. Our sac is sticking around! That sac is secure! I really liked saying the word 'sac.' For the first time since my BFP I felt like I might actually have a baby. I guess if you were the type of person to use a lot of metaphors (and I totally am! I also use a lot of parentheses and semi-colons), you could say I stuck an entire foot into the pregnancy pool.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy But Cautious

OCTOBER 12, 2010 - 4 weeks, 3 days pregnant

A few days after the BFP I stopped at the store and bought a cheap $4 plus-sign pregnancy test. Not because I needed more proof but just because I wanted to take a pic of it because I thought a plus-sign would look better in the baby's scrapbook....just in case there ever was a scrapbook...just in case this baby made it.

Yes, unfortunately this was the attitude I had. I didn't say "when I have a baby." I said "if I have a baby." I felt scarred and ruined. All that perkiness from last time was gone. I didn't want to tell anyone for 3 reasons:

1. I didn't want to hurt anyone if or when the baby vacated the premises. I felt really bad last time for hurting my family and didn't want to do it to them again.
2. If and when that happened, I didn't want to be known as "The Girl Who Cried Embryo."
3. I didn't want anyone else feeling the way I felt now. Not happy, not unhappy, just kind of scared and a little numb. When I shared good news with people I wanted them to be happy and I was afraid they would be as cautious as I was and my baby deserved a celebration, a yay, yippee, whoo-hoo, not an, "Oh....ok."

If it was up to me I wouldn't have told anyone until after the baby was born because then they'd have to be excited and by then, I'd be happy, too. But Brian did want to spread the news and, like I said before, he usually gets what he wants. He told me if I didn't tell my parents, he was telling them. He said I would need a support system if anything went wrong. So I told my parents. And I also told some of my coworkers just so they would understand why I wasn't so quick to carry 40lbs of ice around the restaurant...and it would also explain why I was a little bit of a nutcase sometimes.

I felt like me being a nutcase was my big pregnancy symptom. I was soooooo hormonal! I would get all teary eyed for no reason at all and like two seconds later I was so angry I wanted to throw dishes at the wall and had no idea what I was mad about. It was kind of cool to have a symptom because last time I didn't have any. Or maybe it's not a symptom and I'm just a raging bitch grasping at straws.

OCTOBER 20, 2010 - 5 weeks, 4 days pregnant

I felt sick for the first time today. I was glad that I was sick because the doctors say morning sickness is a sign that things are going well in there. But I didn't wanna get too excited about it. just in case it was a bug or food poisoning. I told Brian I wasn't counting it as morning sickness until it happened two days in a row. That's how everything felt lately. I was happy but cautious about being happy. I guess I was afraid to be too happy because the higher you are the harder you fall. I was dipping one toe at a time but I was definitely feeling more positive.

OCTOBER 21, 2010 - 5 weeks, 5 days pregnant

I started spotting at work today and my heart broke again. I just knew it was over and I was filled with dread. Brian wanted to go straight to the emergency room but I was dead-set against that idea and this was one argument he would NOT win. I knew from the last time that there was nothing they would do besides jam ultrasound probes into me like they're shifting gears on a sports car, make me wait around for hours and then tell me "well, there's really not much we can tell you." And then they'd send a bill in the mail bigger than my college tuition! Seriously, I could put this child through an entire year of college classes, room & board on campus and even a meal plan for less than they charged. That is one lesson I did not need repeated and there was no freaking way I was going through that again. I thought it was best to let nature take its course and only ask for help if I was in a lot of pain which I didn't think would happen since it was so much earlier than last time. Next thing I know Brian tells me I have an appt with the OBGYN tomorrow. Ugh. Whatever. At least it's not the ER.

Big Fat Positive

I made the big Facebook announcement today - I'm pregnant! I didn't want to tell anybody until I made it through the first trimester so forgive me for keeping secrets! I still want to blog about my experiences thus far, though, so I have a record to maybe show my baby someday. I don't want to confuse anyone, though, so for the next few blogs I will use dates to show you the period of time I am currently writing about, ok?

OCTOBER 8, 2010 - 3 weeks, 6 days pregnant

After having a miscarriage I was determined not to let it happen again. They say what you don't know won't hurt you, right? So I told Brian that if my period was ever late, I wasn't going to take a home pregnancy test (HPT). That way there were only 2 outcomes; I would either get a really late "period" or an "OMG I just had a baby in my pants" moment. Like a double-edged milk chocolate Dove bar this was a winner either way in my whacked-out mind. Of course, in reality there are a LOT of other outcomes for a baby born to a smoking mom with no pre-natal care who likes sangria and hot tubs, eats bologna and cheese from the deli and cleans a litter box. So don't go looking at mental health facilities just yet, people. It might have sounded like a good idea at first but obviously I came to my senses.

On October 8th Brian bought a 3-pack of HPTs. It was the kind with 2 lines. One line means not pregnant, 2 lines means pregnant. I would have gotten a plus-sign test if I'd gone to the store but these ones were cheaper and I believe I've already made it pretty clear how my husband shops. My period wasn't even late at this point but Brian said since we had 3 of them we should take one right away. The earlier we find out the sooner we can change any bad habits around and the better off we'll all be. I didn't want to take it yet but he is so pushy sometimes and he usually ends up getting his way. If I refused to take the test I figured he would probably pull some hand-in-water trick on me while I was sleeping so I gave in.

We stood there staring at the test on the counter. We saw one line show up clear as day....then we sort of saw another line but it was so thin and so faint that I didn't buy it. He probably got this thing at the dollar store and it's malfunctioning. They say the best time to test is as soon as you wake up so we tried again the next morning and again the line was barely visible and could have been a figment of our imaginations. I tried to take a pic and the second line didn't even show up through the lens. I wasn't convinced. We took another one the next day. By this time my period was late but it didn't help that second line come in any darker. Brian said there's no way 3 out of 3 tests are screwed up and a faint line is still a line but I refused to accept it. Probably because I was too scared to accept it.

Next step = Digital. The digital tests actually spell out the words. Pregnant or Not Pregnant. In English. There is no possible way to misread a digital test. Why we didn't get this in the first place I don't know. But we took it and it said "Pregnant." I couldn't deny it any longer. I was pregnant again. But I wasn't crying tears of joy like last time. I wasn't jumping up and down like last time. I wasn't spreading the news and calling everyone I knew like last time. I just sat down and thought to myself Here we go again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Get By With A Little Help...

I hate taking hand outs from people. It makes me feel like I'm the bottom of the financial totem pole, the scum of the earth. I remember how the kids in elementary school that stood in the "free lunch" line wouldn't make eye contact with us kids in the other line. Even at that age we all knew it was a bad thing to need help. There are some people who do it with no shame, though, and I guess that might be slighter lower on the scum scale. So I might be in 2nd to last place right now. Doesn't make me feel much better. I still can't help but imagine myself 5 years from now standing outside a trailer (the short shiny kind with the hitch still on the front), wearing an old wife-beater without a bra. I have a toddler on my hip who is wearing nothing but a dirty diaper and a peanut butter sandwich smashed on his face. I have a Miller High Life in one hand, a cigarette dangling from my mouth and a pregnant belly exposed over my cutoff shorts. A beat-up truck with testicles hanging off the back bumper and a rebel flag in the window is parked right on the grass. And there's Brian in his "I'm With Stupid" T-shirt trying to set our trash on fire. *shudder* It's an awful sight, I tell ya. Of course it would never happen like that because I would never ever fly a rebel flag and I don't even really like beer. But it's still scary.

That being said, we have accepted a LOT of help these last few weeks from a LOT of people. We have groceries, gas money, all my medications, blankets, winter coats, a Christmas tree with 100 ornaments, lights, a tree-topper and garland and even a shovel for the snow! Everyone kind of pitched in. And even though I am ashamed that it happened, I'm also thankful that I was blessed with such generous family and friends. Even though it seems like I'm on a straight path to mediocrity, I do hope to stay away from that trailer and do enough with my life to give it all back to you!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Magic of Tide

Sorry I haven't written anything in awhile. Brian started playing this online game called Evony and now he's on the computer 24-7. Seriously, he doesn't even sleep! I did get the Wii game I wanted so that kept me busy for awhile. I pulled the chaise right in front of the TV, grabbed a blanket and a drink and sat there from morning til night for like 5 days in a row. I did take some breaks to cook dinners, bake cookies and wash dishes. I've been having more energy lately and tons of extra time to try to be a little more domesticated. When I went home at the beginning of the month my dad took us to Sam's Club to get some things for the house. I love shopping with my dad because he knows the meaning of the phrase "you get what you pay for" and he doesn't mind paying for it. It's a nice change from shopping with Brian who goes for the cheapest item every time. He's what I call "frugal." I wouldn't mind being a part of a frugal family if it actually got us anywhere in the somewhere tropical. But since it doesn't seem to help any, I'd rather just have the good stuff! So instead of using a 74 cents bottle of regular Dawn dish soap, I'm now using Dawn Hand Renewel with Olay in Pomegranate Splash scent. It works better, it goes farther and by golly does it ever smell fab! I'm not saying it makes me like doing dishes but it definitely makes it suck a little less!

I remember when Brian first moved in with me he came home from the store with Xtra laundry detergent and I actually screamed out loud in horror. I took him to the bedroom, pulled a hoodie out of the closet that hadn't been worn in 2 years (you don't need hoodies in the south) and showed him how incredible it still smelled. That's the magic of Tide. We agreed that we would do what we had to do to afford Tide; order from the dollar menu instead of getting a value meal, cut coupons, stock up on sale items, and I hate to admit this, but we actually bought tubed hamburger meat a few times. I might have felt a little queasy while making spaghetti but at least our clothes always smelled good. I guess the fact that we still have Tide in the laundry room is a sign that we're doing alright. I mean, we could be far worse. When I was home for the holiday weekend I saw a tent city set up on the side of 75. They even had a clothesline! It was really, really cold, too. So we are doing ok. Actually, we are way better than ok compared to people living in tents. There was a time when I thought using Xtra was as bad as it could get but now that just makes me sound incredibly superficial and spoiled. I guess you could say that I've learned a little this last month about what's really important in life and it's not laundry detergent. Not that I won't be ready to be spoiled again when this mess with UA is over! LOL

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I need a hobby

*SIGH* I seriously need a hobby! I slept until 1pm today because what reason did I really have to get out of bed? It's now almost 3 and I'm ready for a nap.

I remember when I got Animal Crossing for the Wii a few Christmases ago. (Have you ever seen the word "Christmas" as a plural? Is that even right?) I was obsessed with this game. On my days off I would be up by 9am to play and I would play until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, at around 2 or 3am. While I was at work I would count the seconds until I could play Animal Crossing again. I would take pics of the TV screen with my cell phone and show all my friends the cute outfit I bought or the fish I caught at the fishing tournament. We had Wii speak hooked up and my BFF, Lisa, and her daughter, Faith, would "come over" to my house and we'd play together. They were in MI, I was in NC but we were all in the same room playing a game! And then something else came along to take me away from AC. It's called Facebook. I sold my copy of AC and the manual at a yard sale....probably for money to buy Brownie Points on Sorority Life. It was wrong what I did. I don't know what I was thinking! Now I miss AC so much. I have to have her back!

We just called Game Stop in Petoskey. They have a used copy for $17. We are going to go trade in the games we don't play anymore and I'll have something to do once again. I'm on my way, AC!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happier-than-a-pig-in-shit Monday

This just in: The lienholder on our car has a special program for people who are temporarily struggling and we were approved!!!!!! We don't have to make a car payment until February!! And it doesn't go on our credit report as being late! Whoo-Hoo! I'm so happy I'm going to jump on the bed! And then maybe I'll even get out of it for a little bit.

Sometimes I'm kind of glad I have a husband. If this had happened to me when I was single I wouldn't have seen any way out besides driving back and forth across the bridge on windy days and staying really close to the edge. But he knows all kinds of loopholes and secrets to survival.

Then again, if I was single I'd probably still be on the beach pouring sweet tea for pennies a day which doesn't sound so bad right now. But I wouldn't have someone telling me everyday that I deserve better. And I'd be too scared to try anything new without him pushing me. So yeah, I guess he's a good one to have around.

Happy Monday!

When you're unemployed it's easy to lose track of what day of the week it is. I know it's Monday because Brian watched football ALLLLLLLL day yesterday *rolling my eyes*. The only reason I might leave the house today is to walk to the mailbox to see if a Netflix DVD came in. Our house sits back a ways from the road so the walk to the mailbox is a little trek, especially when it's 36 degrees out with 13mph winds blowing in your face and you don't have a winter coat. Lucky for me Brian beat me to it.

Speaking of Netflix, I've noticed that movies are available on PPV and Redbox waaaaay before Netflix gets them. I did some research and found out that Netflix made agreements with Universal, Fox and Warner Bros to withhold the release of their DVDs for a month so that people would be more likely to buy the DVDs and in return Netflix will be allowed to have more of their titles available to "watch now." So I can watch all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer instantly through my Wii but I have to wait a couple of weeks before I can see Sex in the City 2. Whatever. I have nothing but time right now. Besides, Netflix is a GREAT deal! $8.99 a month to watch unlimited movies on the TV and rent one at a time on DVD! If our cable gets shut off, Netflix will be our lifesaver. If only they rented Wii games, too. P.S. No, Netflix is not paying me for the endorsement.

So the reason why this is a happy Monday is because the automated phone line for unemployment (marvin) has said my claim was finally approved on Friday, right at the 6 week mark. Brian is suspicious because when he called and spoke to a real person on Friday they said it was still under review but I'm trying to think positive. If it was approved then that's awesome for so many reasons! Not only will we have money coming in again but if mine was approved in 6 weeks instead of 8 then Brian's might be too and we could possibly have all of this taken care of in time to have a good Christmas with our families! Yay!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We Didn't See This Coming!

Since my hours were supposed to be cut I went ahead and started my unemployment claim on October 1st. You can actually claim "under"employment if you're working less hours than you're used to and we wanted it started ASAP so that my checks would start coming by the time I was laid off.

Bummer #1 - They don't count the money you made in the last 3 months, they count the money you made in the year before that. Remember....$2 a table? So I'm not getting anywhere near the amount of money I thought I would. But it's still enough to pay our bills. Maybe we can have our winter stuff shipped to us? Priority Mail Flat Rate maybe?

Bummer #2 - We get a letter in the mail about a week later saying that because I had voluntarily left a job in the last 16 months, my case would be need to be reviewed before they could approve my claim. Ok. And how long does that take? 6-8 WEEKS!!!!! this teeny amount of money might be here before Thanksgiving? That certainly sucks.

Bummer #3 - Since Brian also left a job voluntarily, this applies to his claim as well. But his hours didn't get cut so he couln't file until he was laid off. His checks (the big ones!) won't be here until after Christmas.

So what does this all mean? It means we have absolutely no income in the month of November. It means we'll get a little bit of money (like electric bill kind of money) in December. It means we won't have money for the big stuff (like rent and car!) until JANUARY!!!! It means we have no winter clothes, blankets or Christmas decorations and it means I'm going to have the worst holiday season of my life. It also means I may be moving in with one of my parents when I'm in my 30s!!!! It means Brian and I need to find the paddle that's going to get us out of shit's creek - and fast!

Lessons We Learned

Before we knew it, it was Labor Day - the biggest weekend of the season. A coworker told me we wouldn't make hundreds...we'd make thousands! Of course this was the same coworker who told me the Zoo-De-Mac bike race started in Kalamazoo instead of The Zoo Bar in Harbor Springs....and I was the same person who believed him both times.

So Labor Day wasn't a was actually kind of slow. But we still have 2 months left...or so I thought. The day after Labor Day the head servers started making cuts. They said business was going to drop right away. Some were cut for the season. Some (like me) would have their hours cut but basically the money-making part of the season was over.

Now we were in a bit of a panic. Yes we had been able to save a little during the last few weeks but it wasn't even enough to cover our bills for a whole month. It certainly wasn't enough for Barbados, St Lucia, the Keys, Mardi Gras and a whole new warbrobe. There were no jets of any kind in our near future.

It was a bummer. I worked HARD and made tons of money so where was it? What happened? Where did it all go wrong? This was when we had to learn some very important lessons. It's just a shame we learned them too late.

Lesson #1 - DO NOT SMOKE!
We paid $3.50 for a pack of cigarettes in NC. We were used to it and it was just a normal part of our budget. Up here they cost $7 a pack so that's $7 more a day than we were used to spending. $7 a day times 30 is $210 a month MORE than in NC. Over a span of 6 months thats $1300 EXTRA on cigarettes and over $2500 total spent. I have not smoked in over 5 weeks now. I just wish I had quit a long time ago. $2500 is definitely enough money for an awesome time in the Southern Caribbean.

It cost $3.60 every time Brian crossed that bridge. Sometimes he would come home for lunch or to pick me up for work. 6 days a week that's almost $100 a month. We spent about $700 on bridge fare during the season. I had no idea $3.60 added up so fast!

The closest grocery store is 35 miles away (unless you count the way-overpriced tourist trap mom & pop place that sells cans of soup for $5). Since we each had only 1 day off a week and hardly ever the same day, we never made it to the grocery store. Not that I really felt like cooking anyway after busting my ass until midnight. So we bought sodas at the gas station everyday for $1.60 each (we have well water at home - it's awful even with a filter). For dinner we would do Burger King, take-out from work or even worse....junk from the gas station. I can't even begin to total the amount of money we wasted this way. Next summer we will go grocery shopping! We will be richer and healthier!

So we decided all the ways that next year would be better. It was too late in the game to change anything this time around. Yes, it sure sucked that we couldn't take a vacation but at least our unemployment will be enough to cover our bills each month and the little bit of savings we had would get us to NC to pick up our winter gear and take us home for the holidays as well. Even though we knew it could be worse, we didn't actually think it would get worse. But it did...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Gonna Be a Lot Better, Man

July and August are the busiest months of the season. If I get one day off a week anymore it's a blessing. I'm working really hard but it's finally paying off and we are making enough to start a savings account. In an effort to take my mind off LO (little one), I'm spending all my spare time planning our fall vacations. Instead of a 7-day cruise, let's do 10! Instead of the same old Eastern and Western Caribbean, we'll do the exotic Southern islands instead. We're going all out this time because we deserve it! I made a spreadsheet of every island, what shore excursion we were doing and even what outfit I was going to wear (outfits that I didn't own yet but were on my wish list at Victoria's Secret)! I went ahead and planned a trip to Mardi Gras as well since I have a friend in Baton Rouge. And since we have to go to Miami to catch the ship, why don't we take a road trip to the Keys. Oh, and don't forget we still need to go down to NC to get our winter stuff! We're gonna be busy this off-season. We have struggled long enough and it's time for our windfall!

My BFF and her family came to visit in mid-August and I was lucky enough to spend some time with them and show them around. I took them to the most beautiful crystal-clear beach in the UP (on Rte 2). As I floated in the water and the sun shined down on me, I looked around at some of the most beautiful parts of the Earth that most people will never see and I felt lucky to be alive. I had family, friends, a well-paying job and a savings account! Life was good!

And Bad News

If you want to understand how we ended up in the awful place we're in now, you need to hear about all the things that went wrong with our plan and losing the baby was one of those things. Since this isn't a pregnancy or pregnancy loss blog I will spare you the details but I will say that it sucked!!!!! It hurt emotionally (the first time I ever saw my husband cry). It hurt physically (screaming like a wild animal? check). And just like everything else these days, it hurt us financially. I tried to go back to work too soon and hurt myself even worse and ended up missing 4 days of work during the busiest week of the season (Fourth of July!). Brian also missed some work. It was a crappy crappy time and even though I swore someone had placed a curse on me, I still thought things would get better.

Our Good News

We had company for Memorial Day weekend and it felt great to show off my new house! We had a fire in the backyard and looked at the stars...there are SOOOOOO many stars up here! It's so quiet and peaceful and it's hard to worry about money when you're around people who love you. So we had a good weekend!

Business picked up in June and I was working 5 0r 6 nights a week and some lunches, too. We got so behind with bills in May, though, that we were still playing catch-up. On June 12th we got a huge suprise - a BFP. For those of you who don't know pregnancy acronyms that means BIG FAT PLUS! I was pregnant!

I called my parents and brothers immediately and they had told the rest of the family within hours. After work I posted my good news on Facebook. I know it's a superstition that you're not supposed to tell anyone until after the first trimester but we were way too excited to keep it a secret. I ordered baby books from Borders the next morning and my friends all had a baby name list to vote on by that afternoon! I started looking at nursery themes and researching pain management options amd making a pros and cons list on finding out the sex before the birth (we decided not to). Walking past the baby area of Walmart didn't make us sad for the first time ever and it was great to look at all the little onsies and socks and hats. We decided on names within a week. Annabelle or Oliver.

What perfect timing for a baby! I would be laid off in October before I got super fat and then I'd have 2 months to spend with the baby before I returned to work in May. My life is awesome!!!!

A Whole New World

It took every penny we had from our last paychecks plus some money borrowed from Mom and Dad to get us here. 1200 miles with 2 cats and a litterbox in the car! For the last 300 miles my mother was also in the car and I had a TV leaning on my head in the back. But we made it! The house was nice even though it didn't have a dishwasher, fireplace, cathedral ceilings, skylight, AC, swimming pool or a washer and dryer. It was a billion times better than the other places for rent - trust me! It was charming and the kitchen was orange and there were flowers planted everywhere and they were going to start blooming and we were starting work in a few days and that's when the money would start rolling in (insert sound of slot machine winning jackpot here).

We ran into some bad luck just 2 days later when our family dog, Snoopy, died. I'd just seen him when we stayed at my dad's on the way up and he was fine. Then he woke up unable to walk and we found out he had cancer on his spleen and was bleeding internally. My dad had to put him to sleep. He was only 9 and we weren't expecting to lose him so soon. I still you miss you, Snooperooni!!!
Then it started snowing. IN MAY! All I had were tanks and tube tops and it was snowing! Thankfully my aunt bought us each a hoodie, hat and gloves. More handouts from people. One day I'd be able to pay them all back...but it didn't look like it would happen this month.
May was a slow month for tourists and I only got 2 or 3 shifts a week. The first thing I had to buy was work clothes. Black pants, white button-up shirts and black shoes. A server HAS to have comfy shoes so I couldn't be cheap on those. Brian also had to buy uniforms and the money was taken out of his check. Also, Brian worked on the other side of the bridge and had to pay $3.60 a day to get across, double if he needed to come home for lunch or to take me to work. So yeah, May was crappy but we had faith that things would turn around.

Let's Bust a Move

In March we took a week off work (unpaid) to come up to MC and apply for jobs. I found one at a restaurant where the average plate was $20 and the average tip was 20%!!! YES! I would finally have enough money for the Kenta flat iron I'd wanted for years!

Brian got a job for a ferry company that scheduled (and paid!) overtime and even offered health insurance. Not anything glamorous but something to give him a little more self-esteem than saying he fries oysters for a living.

We also won the housing jackpot and found a 3 bedroom 2 bath house on 8 acres for $82 less a month than our 1 bedroom condo! Jobs that paid more money + Bills that cost less = Singing Gwen Stefani's Luxurious as I use my Black American Express card to buy a new Marc Jacob bag on my way to the airport where a private jet is taking us to Cannes for the film festival. P.S. I do tend to exaggerate, even in my own head.

But seriously, it seemed like everything was in our favor. We were to start our new jobs the first week of May. That gave us a month to pack up our stuff and bust a move.

Now I don't want it to seem like we were poor down there. We had enough money to pay our bills, eat out once a week, shop whenever we wanted and go on one exotic vacation a year. The trouble was, though, that we had no savings. And I don't know when was the last time any of you moved 1200 miles away, but it's expensive!!! And we just took a week off work unpaid so a moving van was absolutely out of the question which meant if it didn't fit in the car, it didn't make the trip. So we sold what we could, donated what we didn't need and put all of our winter stuff (clothes, hats, mittens, boots, blankets, holiday decorations....) into his mom's storage unit. We would come back for it when we were laid off in the fall.

Oh, I didn't mention that this is seasonal work? No big deal. Since everything except the gas station closes down for the winter, everybody gets unemployment and since we would make so much money during the summer we would probably get the max amount of unemployment...and if not, we'd have so much in savings that it wouldn't matter....right? RIGHT?

From Beach Bum To Frozen Troll

Hi there! My name is Jodie and my husband, Brian, and I live in northern northern Michigan. If you hold your right hand up, palm facing you, and look at the very tip of your middle finger - that's where I live (i do find the irony in that, btw). Mackinaw City is the last stop before you cross the Mackinac Bridge, also called the Big Mac. Since we live "under the bridge" we are called Trolls, a nickname I love! The Big Mac is what connects the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan and now that the leaves have fallen from the trees we can actually see the bridge from our house!

Since we're so close to Lake Michigan it gets very windy here. This is helpful on those sticky dog-days of summer when it's like 95 degrees out, but on the other 362 days a year, it's just an annoyance. Between the flag pole out front, the windchimes out back, our patio set being dragged across the cement and the garbage can banging into the side of the house it's like a damn tropical storm out there every single night! Am I seriously supposed to sleep during all this ruckus? Last night, while lying in bed wondering if we would make it to Oz in time to meet Elphaba, I decided to start this blog, to tell the world what it's like up here in what's been referred to as "the armpit of the universe."

Everyone knows how great northern Michigan is during the summer thanks to Kid Rock. It really is as beautiful and laid back and fun as it seems in his song. There's a body of water pretty much everywhere you look. Some are such rich shades of blues and greens its hard to believe you're not staring at an enhanced photo in a nature blog. Others are so clean and crystal clear one might think they're in the Caribbean. Oh, and the fall is just as gorgeous. Those trees produce colors so incredible it's like living in one of those HD Sunglasses infomercials! The colors seem to get more vibrant and bright with each passing tree and it's just phenomenal, really. So yes, northern Michigan is a great place to take your family for a summer vacation. But what's it like for the people who live here? And what's it like the other six months of the year? That's the story I'm about to tell. But I should probably start by telling you how I got here.
At the beginning of 2010 we were living in a perfect condo. It was spacious and had everything I wanted and needed: cathedral ceilings, skylight, fireplace, dishwasher, central heat and air, ceiling fans, washer and dryer, and a gigantic bedroom that overlooked the pool in the courtyard. We were in a 3rd floor walk-up which was a pain in the butt (literally), especially when we were bringing in groceries, but we only had to go up and down a few times a day and I figured it was saving us money on gym memberships. The only bad thing about the condo was that it was a one bedroom and since we were actively trying to conceive we were hoping that we weren't going to live there forever. But at the time I was content. More than content. That condo was a dream come true.

This perfect condo was located in Wilmington, NC. Wilmington was pretty darn perfect, too, except for a few months in the summer when it's over 100 degrees everyday and everything is soaked with sweat, even my purse and cell phone, and a person can't be outside more than like 5 minutes before they stop breathing. But other than that - perfect. Ten minutes in one direction took you right to the ocean where you could play in the waves or sit on the sand and watch dolphins swim up and down the shore. Ten minutes in another direction took you to the Cape Fear River and the hip boutique-y downtown area lined with fun clubs, unique shops, sidewalks made of bricks and policemen on horseback. Coming from Detroit in the spring of 2007, I described Wilmington as a place where the grass really is greener! The flowers are brighter, the sun is warmer and I was happy there.
The only thing we didn't like about Wilmington was our jobs. We both worked at the same small family-owned restaurant. He was a cook. I was a server. It wasn't really the job itself that we hated, it was the customers. There were some really, really great people that came in there, but unfortunately, they weren't the majority. The restaurant was kind of located on the "wrong side of the tracks" and attracted a lot of not-so-nice people who didn't like to tip and that's putting it mildly. On average we would get $1 per person at the table regardless of how much food they ordered or how many damn times I refilled their mother-effing sweet tea and hushpuppies (see, it's been 6 months and I still have so much anger inside of me). So therefore, waiting on a 2-top earned me $2, a 4-top - $4 and so on. At least once per shift I would get stiffed for no reason at all. I once got stiffed 5 times in one night! And every time was like the first time for me. I would take it personally. I would get so hurt and angry. My face would get hot and red and smoke would rise from the tips of my ears and I left work everyday pounding my fists on the dashboard.
Brian had his own anger issues to deal with in the kitchen, you know, being expected to work harder than others who were getting paid more, that kind of thing. And because we made such little money we needed to work 6 days a week. So 6 days a week we were pissed off. And that one day a week of saltwater and sunshine just wasn't enough to cheer us up anymore. So we thought about moving.
I really didn't want to leave NC yet. I thought getting a different job was all I needed. But there weren't any. Brian had been wanting to move to Detroit to be near my family ever since he first met them. Of course I would love to be there, too. But there aren't any jobs there either. Was there anywhere in the world where they were doing enough hiring that we could both get new jobs? Yes. Mackinaw City, MI.