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Walking Kateastrophe » Fam-Damily

I Used to be Interesting. Weird.

April 18th, 2012 by Kateastrophe

I don’t know why but lately?  Blogging is SO HARD.  I look back at years ago when every single day I had something at least remotely interesting or funny to write.  Lately?  Nada.  It’s frustrating.  I have about fifty posts that I started but never finished because even I knew they were boring.  Hell, this post is going to be boring.  I’ve totally lost my mojo.

One would think with the baby on the way and life changing SO MUCH for me that I might find interesting things to do which would lead to interesting things to say.  One would be wrong.

I just don’t think people are all that interested in my announcing gleefully that the puppy has slept through the night the last three nights!  Or that he is really figuring this potty training thing out!  And he’s starting to hump!  Also, my stomach is getting huge!  And a bit hurty!  And despite the puppy sleeping through the night, I sure don’t!  And I figured out a cleaning schedule for the house that (for the most part) works for me and keeps the house somewhat presentable!

Boring, boring, blah, blah, blah.

The worst part is that I really think it will just continue to get worse.  I have the other blog to talk about all things baby so I can keep things separate and not start inundating you with stories of cloth vs. disposable diapers and diaper rash remedies and breast feeding.  Not that those things are boring, just that they’re not really applicable to the type of blog I want this to be.  If it’s even really a blog at all anymore.  Sigh.

And now I think I sound like I’m complaining.  I swear I’m not.

Truly, life is awesome.  I love this little puppy with  all my heart even when he’s making me crazy.  He is so cute and made life around here so much fun. Matt and I hardly watch TV anymore and spend a ton of time playing with him and talking while we take him on walks.  We are saving so much money because we eat out so rarely and try not to go out other places too much while he’s still a puppy and has a hard time being alone - this is obviously good training for when our little man arrives.   I don’t think we ever would have gotten a dog while we were both working full time so that’s a win for the unemployment column. We both have said out loud more than once that we can’t imagine life without Watson now that he’s here.

The pregnancy going so well and has been so easy 99.9% of the time.  I could not feel more lucky or more blessed to have this be the way that my body chooses to behave while pregnant. My minor aches and pains and sleep issues are nothing compared to the horror stories I’ve heard or seen in person with some of my friends.  I count my blessings every day that I am able to do pretty much anything I want.  I just sprinkle in a couple of naps here and there.  The nursery and supplies are coming along splendidly if I could only choose a wall color.  Good thing I have three months and some sort of a plan.  Let the nesting begin!

My husband is amazing and works his can off every day to make sure that life continues to be comfortable for our little growing family.  Being home during the day has made me treasure the time that he’s home and we can hang out.  He was sick yesterday and I was almost excited because it meant I got to see him more.

We have decided against a Babymoon, just because we’re trying to pay off Matt’s truck by the end of the year and have no car payments.  We have money stashed away for a vacation still but we’d rather use that in a year or so when we can do what we really want, which is go to Greece.  Luckily we have three willing babysitters in our Mom’s and should be able to pull this off within a year and a half or so, rather than waiting until this kid is in high school or something.

I’m not sure what else to say.  I’ve covered the four VERY exciting things that are going on in my life right now.   You are all so stimulated.  I can tell. You can thank me later.

Yet Another Post Lost to Placenta Brain

February 21st, 2012 by Kateastrophe

Ohmagosh.  I wrote a whole long AWESOME post today and then my computer battery ran out (known risk of being too lazy to get up from the couch, I suppose) and I lost the whole thing.  Ugh.

To summarize:

I’m still pregnant and writing about it over yonder at my baby blog and will attempt to keep this blog about more than things related to my uterus.  I realize the last 20 months prove I’m not good at that, but I promise, I’ll try.  As a quick update for those of you who don’t want to take the time to click over (I know, so hard on that clicker finger) baby and I are doing great.  18 weeks yesterday and still not showing though I feel like I have a gut bomb at all times.  We have an ultrasound on Thursday which should confirm whether or not it’s actually a boy (pretty sure it is).  Other than that, nothing to report.  I can’t complain at all though I do wish I’d start showing because I think at that point it feels more real?  Hum.  Either way I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll live to regret that sentence and ever thinking that I couldn’t wait to show.

Watson is the coolest puppy ever despite the fact that he just peed on the carpet right next to the door to go outside…where I was standing asking him to come pee.  All signs point to this being one stubborn dog, y’all.  But stubborn I can handle because he’s cute and he hardly makes a noise, loves people, loves me the MOST and is finally starting to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time.  Some nights.  Matt and I realize we are spoiling him rotten but we just love him to death and it’s hard not to when he looks like THIS in a sweater (that he HATES).  I mean REALLY.  And that crooked ear kills me.  We wish it wasn’t crooked and we’re working on getting the blister that’s causing it taken care of for the third time but seriously?  SO awesome. (And yes, I’m becoming that annoying dog owner. I get it, I’m lame. I’ve accepted it.)

Let’s see… I went to Florida (Tampa and Siesta Key/Sarasota to be specific) to help my former/current/it’s complicated boss find a place to live for a new super sweet job he took.  We found a great place with a great view but I’m not sure it’s going to work out, which is lame, but he and his daughter who came along were able to see options and we ate some amazing lobster in the process.  I also got to see my amazing friend Angie who has a sweet little baby girl named June who I hadn’t met yet.  We had a great night catching up before I had to head down the coast.  It was a quick trip and I’ve been exhausted ever since but it was worth it.

Work for me has slowed down a little which I actually don’t mind much because I’ve been really tired, but it looks like it’s picking back up and I might have two additional companies asking for my help in the next little bit, so that will be nice and help us pay off the last little bit of my car and hopefully most of Matt’s before baby comes roaring into our lives.  Matt is busy as usual, especially right now.  The beginning of the year is extra crazy for him and his team but luckily, it doesn’t usually mean a ton of extra hours so most nights he’s home for dinner and we get to hang out.

That about sums it up.  I swear my other post was much more entertaining and witty.  It’s late enough in the day that I’m almost incoherent.  I always thought placenta brain was a myth.  Trust me, it’s so not.  I swear I get dumber and less interesting every day.  At least my boobs are getting bigger so I’ve always got that going for me, right?

 

The Post I Have Been Waiting to Publish for 20 Months Has Finally Arrived

February 8th, 2012 by Kateastrophe

After all the trauma of life the last couple of years, I was pretty sure this day would NEVER, EVER come, but it seems it has.

We’re 16 weeks pregnant and the ultrasound we had yesterday seems to indicate it’s a man child.

I am 100% excited about the fact that we’ve finally made it this far and things appear to be perfection. The pregnancy so far has been pretty easy breezy and with the exception of a couple of weeks of stomach issues thanks to a slow digestive system, I haven’t been sick at all.  Not a single instance of morning sickness, food aversions or the unbelievable exhaustion that usually accompanies the first trimester.  I am definitely more tired than usual but not EXHAUSTED like I was before and my immune system seems non-existant as I seem to get every single cold or bug that’s going around, but overall I have no complaints whatsoever.

As for the boy part, full disclosure, I’m about 70% excited about the boy part.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE LITTLE BOYS and I’m so excited at the possibility of one and  having the oldest be a boy to look after his younger sibling(s) (maybe more than just one) BUT my entire life long I have always just known I would have a girl first.  There really wasn’t ever a doubt in my  mind that my oldest child would be dressed in pink from head to toe.  Ha.  Hahahaaaaa.  Hahah.  If the experiences of the last two years have proven anything to me it’s that God is trying very hard to point out to me that I don’t always get my way and this little guy is no exception.  I actually had a feeling the whole pregnancy that it was a boy.  I kept telling Matt that I just knew it wasn’t going to be my little girl and that he, and his Dad, and my brothers and most of my friends would get their way and I’d end up like an apple tree growing a banana.  I guess I was right!  Now, no matter what I am SO grateful to have what appears to be a healthy pregnancy that should end in an actual baby, unlike before, but there is a small twinge of disappointment that I didn’t get my little girl - which I’m sure will completely disappear over the coming months and for SURE as soon as I meet him.

In honor of getting this far and knowing the gender, I FINALLY allowed myself to start clothes shopping and yesterday I bought  two of the most adorable little boy outfits and I’ve been scouring my baby board on Pinterest separating out the (very few) boy nursery ideas that I have in there, and I’m actually getting more excited the more I think about it.  And while we haven’t actually discussed it since pregnancy number one, the name we agreed on most was our boy name so unless Matt changed his mind, we’re all set there.

As usual I’ve been writing blog posts throughout the pregnancy over at my baby blog and I will be publishing those later today.  I read over them again and realized I’m SUPER repetitive, especially when only blogging once a week or less often, so sorry about that!  There are ultrasound pics and all sorts of randomness going on over there.

So there you have it.  It seems the baby aspirin and progesterone paid off and we are well on our way to being honest to goodness parents.  Now if we could just get the dog to sleep through the night before July…

Almost There

December 17th, 2011 by Kateastrophe

Matt was expressing his irritation at my getting flour all over his iPad the other day while I was using it to cook (happens a lot and it’s covered like Fort Knox so it’s not like I’m going to DO anything to it) and then he said something that for some reason struck me as Hi-larious.

“Shouldn’t we have won an extra iPad by now?  I mean, COME ON.  We haven’t won anything or had any great news in a long time.  This year has been crappy with a capital S-H and I THINK WE DESERVE TO WIN AN IPAD.”

I just started laughing and couldn’t stop for about ten minutes.  It was funny for so many reasons, the first being we haven’t entered to win an iPad so unless someone is delivering them door to door, it’s not happening.  Second, we HAVE an iPad and I’m absolutely certain we don’t need two.  I mean, I wouldn’t say NO to one but it’s not like I have this great urge to go out and drop the cash on a second one.  Third, Matt having a burst of emotion such as that is just plain funny.  I think, however, that I was laughing mostly out of 2011 exhaustion.  It’s that slap happiness that hits you at 3 am at a sleepover and you know you’ve passed the point of no return and all you can do is laugh.  That’s where I’m at with 2011.  It’s the 3am of the year, two weeks left, and I can’t do anything but laugh until I pass out from exhaustion and wake up in 2012.

I remember so vividly writing this post on the eve of my 30th birthday last year.  I was so very certain that 2011 was going to be the greatest year ever.  And frankly, it started off that way.  I got a new job, I spent an amazing few days with awesome friends in Disneyworld, I found out we were pregnant again and carried that little baby past 12 weeks and into what seemed like the safe zone…then around April everything just sort of fell apart.  The baby didn’t make it, the new job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, I was a huge ball of stress and I had a good three months of invasive poking and prodding only to find out there wasn’t much wrong and we had no idea why my babies weren’t making it.  Then, in September it all sort of culminated in the official loss of my job, still not being pregnant and having a lot of spare anger and emotions to top it all off.  We are all very lucky I had proactively started on anti-depressants in April because BOY HOWDY was September rough.  Now, complete in fairness to 2011, the last three months haven’t been bad at all with two trips home to Utah, a wonderful Thanksgiving with my brothers and sister and a contract job that seems to be working out really well.  So all things told, five months of the year were the crappiest in memory, three months were not so bad and three were some of the best of my life.  It’s been a roller coaster for sure.

As always, the love and support I’ve had through all of this has been greater than I could ever explain.  In general, people have been SO kind and SO understanding.  There have been the random letters and statements telling me to “suck it up” but I think the people saying those things really hadn’t taken the time to hear and understand the entire story, and I know they were just trying - in their weird way - to be helpful.    I try not to hold it against anyone just as I hope that they won’t hold my recent strange behavior and attitude issues against me.  As I said, almost everyone has been fantastic.  Supportive, thoughtful, kind and willing to be there for me in whatever way I need.  I am so unbelievably grateful to have the friends and family I do and I wish that I could do more for them.

I’m still not quite to that point that people claim you get to where you can look back on your troubles and say you were grateful for what you learned.  I still struggle every day with trying to figure out how to be OK with some of the things that happened.  I’m struggling with finding happiness for others who have the things I’ve been denied.  I’m struggling with some feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy due to the job failure.   I’m struggling to find peace with the things that happened and move on.  In some cases the painful things were absolutely no fault of my own and in others, there are lots of things I need to think on to determine what I may have done to contribute and make sure I prevent that behavior in the future.   It’s a daily battle but I’m working so hard and I really think I’m almost there.

I’m looking forward to turning the page on this year.  I’m counting on a fantastic 2012, whatever it brings.  That might mean a baby, a new job, a promotion for Matt, a new house, a big vacation (Australia, anyone?!?!) or just a happier outlook.  At the very least I’m aiming for that last one.  I’m going to be happy in 2012…even if it means upping my medication dose.  Ha!  Just kidding.  Maybe.

Where have you BEEN?! Oh it was me that was gone? Whoops.

November 9th, 2011 by Kateastrophe

Um, hi blog.  How you been?  Lonely?  Ignored?  Sorry ’bout that.  Don’t get mad.

So things have been, as per usual, crazy.  I don’t know why I’m ever surprised that no matter how un-busy I’m supposed to be life always gets crazy.  I’ve been up to my earballs (you heard me) in contract work - I now have a full-timeish gig and another (higher paying!  Woot!) one that shouldn’t take a lot of time long term but right now needs lots of attention.  I’m loving the work, loving the interaction and learning a lot both about these companies and my actual abilities.  I will admit after the failure of my last job, I was starting to doubt my career choice as well as my talents.  This whole thing has been hard but good for me.

During the craziness Matt and I took a little road trip to Utah.  He went hunting and camping with his Dad and brother.  He went with strict instructions that if they were to kill something, no meat was to enter my house.   I barely know what to do with ground beef let alone a deer or elk or whatever they hunt out there.

While they did the manly stuff, I got to go HOME!  And hang out with my MOM!  And my FRIENDS!  And see the mountains changing colors, go for walks in the crispy fallness and have an all around great time.  It was perfect.  Then after Matt finished hunting, we got to hang out and do more fun stuff.  It was a great trip and I came home feeling very relaxed, which is good because I had tons of work to do back here.

No news on the baby front.  It’s interesting that I was able to get pregnant before just LOOKING at Matt and now that we have a tiny inkling of hope and some things to try in an attempt to keep that baby in there, we can’t get pregnant.  What the what?  It’s been six months and…nothing.  Now I realize for some this is no time at all but, given my previous experiences, it’s a new challenge.  My cycles, after years of being exactly on time and predictable are ALL OVER THE PLACE.   One month I have a normal cycle.  The next month, 34 days - six of which I naturally spend thinking I’m pregnant again despite negative pregnancy tests.  It’s madness up in there.  I’m sure it’s stress related so I’m trying hard just to stay calm and take deep breaths.  If you know me at all, it’s not working very well.  Shocker.  Hopefully both my reproductive system and I can just calm the hell down already and try this madness again, this time with better results.  I think my biggest challenge lies ahead though.  If I actually can get pregnant anytime soon, I’ll immediately start stressing all over again that I’m going to lose that baby too.  Since the last miscarriage was in the second trimester I don’t even get to feel safe after 12 weeks.  Party in my uterus, right?  Too bad I can’t take Xanax while pregnant, right?

Let’s see…what else is going on?  I’m trying to workout more consistently (what else is new) and making more meals since I’m working from home most of the time.  I’ve also been perfecting the art of sourdough bread and much to my delight, it’s working and DELICIOUS.  This baking thing might not be so bad!  It’s making my kitchen look like a flour bomb went off  and I think my Kitchenaid will never be the same but whatever.  Yay for delicious bread!   Next on the list is sourdough ciabatta. Hold me!

The weather in Phoenix has been delightful and even fall-ish, which is awesome.  I’m wearing a sweater today and I even bought some fall boots…now if I could just liposuction my calves to fit into them a little better.  Anyone have a solution for ugly bunchy kneed jeans under boots (that isn’t leggings?  This butt doesn’t wear leggings)?  It makes me look like a marshmallow man.

We’re heading back to Utah for another week for Thanksgiving.  All my siblings will be there which should be super fun.  It should be freezing which is crappy because other than the above mentioned ill-fitting boots, I don’t have any close toed shoes.  So I’m going to have to figure something out so I don’t lose any of my piggies to frost bite. I guess that’s what the Nordstrom Semi-Annual Sale is for, right?!

Well, I guess that’s that.  You’ve been updated.  Not very exciting, but there it is.  My life is busy but not exciting.  Woot!

(Un)Happy (Un)Mother’s Day

May 9th, 2011 by Kateastrophe

I’m not going to beat around the bush here.  Mother’s Day when you’re supposed to have either a three month old, be three weeks from your due date or be four months pregnant but you’re none of those three things sucks a big old pile of crap.  Let’s just say I’ve cried a lot the last few days.

I think maybe the hardest part is that I AM a mother, I just don’t have proof for the world to see.  I don’t have pictures of a newborn adorning my desktop and Facebook profile and I don’t have videos of the first smile or bath or haircut.  I have six months of being exhausted, six more of being hormonally imbalanced and three sets of ultrasound pictures of the babies that were mine and Matt’s for only a short while.  Wanna see?

We have Alien v1.o who was with us for 10 weeks.

We have Alien v2.0 who was a little Houdini and didn’t show up then did and then left us two days later at 7.5 weeks.

Finally we have our little fighter, Version 3.0 who stuck with us the longest at 14.5 weeks and even gave us a wave during the ultrasound (second picture).   It was nice to finally see human-esque parts even if they were still a little more like a strange amphibian than a human but we thought it was cute.

Someday we’ll have a living, breathing part of us walking around, it just seems that someday is a little (a lot) further out than we expected.  We have an excellent doctor and as of today, we have a plan for figuring out what’s going on.  We have the world’s best insurance that will 100% cover ANY treatment we may need to get our little offspring here.   We have supportive friends and family who make it known every day that we are loved and thought about and prayed for.

All of those things are awesome but it doesn’t mean this doesn’t hurt like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.   Mother’s Day might be hard next year, too.  And I suppose it’s possible that it might be hard for the rest of my life, as may the due dates of  these babies.  I’m working through it, struggling some days, excelling others.  Life goes on.  People are announcing pregnancies and having babies and I’m watching the world turn around me and trying to keep up.  Today it didn’t feel like I was succeeding but then I got a mani/pedi and my husband made dinner and I remembered there are lots and lots of reasons to smile.  So I did.

So You Know I Didn’t Die or Something…

April 28th, 2011 by Kateastrophe

Just a quick update so you guys don’t think I’ve jumped off a cliff or something…

I’m doing really well, all things considered.

This miscarriage was hard, and will probably continue to be so but I’m finding some small bits of silver lining.  My maternity benefits increase substantially after a full year on the job.  I get six weeks 100% paid leave, FMLA leave AND short-term disability.  Also, the VP over our department just announced she is expecting around the same time I would have been and another girl on my small three person team is getting married the same week.  Had all of us been out at the same time I sort of can’t imagine what would have happened.  Now I just have to get up to speed by October and ready to take over some extra work.  I was DREADING being in my third trimester during the hottest months of the Phoenix summer so it’s nice that I can try to avoid that.

The recovery from my D&E has been a total breeze.  I was tired for a few days but back at work the next Monday.  I got a recommendation for one of the best fertility specialists in the state and I have my first consultation a week from Monday.  He won’t start testing right away but  at least we can get a plan of action together to figure out what is going on and how to fix it.  I’m an action person and I’m really anxious to have a plan and a list of things I need to do in order to try to find out what’s causing these issues.  Even if it’s not great news, at least then I’ll KNOW and be able to process my options with all the information in place.

Work has been a big factor in keeping my mind off of things.  I’m getting busier every day and I love not having time to sit and think about what’s going on with me.  I have things like average order size to increase so I can increase my quarterly bonus.  It’s a great incentive to not wallow.

I’ve also started on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication.  You guys, it’s awesome.  I know that there’s still a stigma around mood elevating medication but within 24 hours I had stopped crying on my 30 minute commute to and from work, at lunch and anytime I was alone.  I am sleeping well,  my appetite has stayed decent, my energy is up and I feel like my coping skills have improved significantly.  I asked for the medication because I know I suffered from some postpartum depression after the last miscarriage and I wanted to avoid that crash when it inevitably happens in a month or so.  I did not expect to feel so much better so quickly and I’m so grateful that I am.  I still feel sadness and loss and all the things that I should be feeling but they aren’t dragging me down with them.  I can process them and move past the waves of sadness without feeling like I’m drowning or trapped.  I don’t want to sound like a pill-pusher but I am truly a believer in recognizing when your body knows it’s not doing OK and doing what you need to do to get back to good.   This time I knew that was help in the form of meds.

My other form of help comes from my wonderful girlfriends.  They have truly saved me.  I can’t even begin to list the kindnesses that have taken place over the last week and a half.  I’m so so so so so lucky to have such wonderful friends all over the world.  I’ve received visits, flowers, cards and emails from friends in Virginia, Rhode Island, Canada, Australia, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Nevada, Utah and probably ten other places I can think of  and of course here in Phoenix.  One of my oldest friends called right after she woke up with a start one morning to tell me that she felt she needed to make sure I knew that I had a circle of women with me every step of this process, supporting me, suffering with me and pulling me through my darkest moments - even if they couldn’t be there in person, their prayers, light and spirits were with me.  I believe this with all my heart.   I have been blessed with the most wonderful friends in the world and I just want every single one of you to know how much I appreciate you.

My family has again been so wonderful through all of this.  My sister was once again with me every second, making sure I had everything I needed…including bowls of Easter candy waiting out for me when I got back from the clinic.  My mom, dad, brothers, stepmother and grandparents have all been checking on my daily, all with with offers to drop everything to come to my side if needed.  And of course my husband…he is my rock solid foundation and I know with him by my side I can get through anything.

Despite feeling like life kicked me in the gut again, I know that I’m one of the luckiest girls alive because of the people that surround me and love me in spite of my huge list of flaws.  I don’t ever have to worry about falling because I have so many wonderful people willing to hold me up and carry me if necessary to help keep me upright.  I cannot thank the Lord enough for sending all of you (and many not reading) into my life.  I cannot feel sorry for myself when I have such a blessed life.  Thank you for being part of it.

Family that plays (and yells, and takes over restaurants) together, stays together

December 20th, 2010 by Kateastrophe

Saturday night we went to dinner at my favorite burger joint (and it’s not really a joint, it’s more like a high end restaurant that really only serves burgers but that’s not really the point so I don’t know why I even bother to explain!) for my brother Patrick’s 24th birthday.  He had just flown in from Utah and the day before my Dad and Aunt Kathy had arrived from their far away homes of China and Brazil.  We had an absolute blast.  Within half an hour my brother had compared himself to Kobe beef, my Dad had hit the table so hard that half the restaurant went deaf and my brother had taken off his shirt.  I’m not even joking.  We laughed until we cried and were so rowdy I’m sure there were people at the restaurant complaining but we were having fun and didn’t get kicked out so that’s a plus. 

Then all weekend we’ve baked and cooked and played cards and laughed and yelled and hooted and done so many fun things together.  There are moments of stress because it’s the Holidays and we’re all sort of squished in one place, but overall, we’re having a complete blast.  I took a step back yesterday and watched the joy all around me and it made me realize and appreciate how much I truly love my family.

We’ve had our share of drama.  Two divorces, lots of drug problems, plenty of minor mental illness for all, stuff that’s hard to even describe…but through it all, I can truly say that I wouldn’t trade my siblings for the world.  I love my parents for who they are and for the things they’ve taught me.  And I love how much fun we all have.

My Dad can make me laugh harder than anyone alive.  He always believed in me and helped me understand that I could do and be anything I wanted to.  Plus, he’s affectionate.  I’ve never ever thought he didn’t love me and he’s never been scared to say it or show it.  This is something he taught my brothers as well.  I’ve never ended a conversation with either one of my giant, manly brothers without them telling me they love me and, if we’re in a person, a huge hug. 

My Mom is amazing.  She is always singing or humming and despite a life that belongs in a soap opera or fiction novel, she’s happy no matter what.  She’s trusting and faithful and wonderful and I love everything about her.  And bonus!  She’s also affectionate!  I always got hugs and love and we could always pile in her bed if we needed a snuggle.  She taught me how to be strong and independent and confident and so many things that have helped me succeed.  She can also make me laugh just as hard as my Dad.

My sister…there aren’t really words.  She’s amazing.  We didn’t get off to the greatest start but as we’ve grown we’ve both come to realize how much we can learn from each other.  She is my hyper, tiny sidekick.  We make up dances, we laugh until our sides hurt and we have a blast.  But she’s also been there for me through some of the hardest things that have happened in my life and I love her so much it almost hurts my heart.

I see all around me people who don’t like their families very much.  They don’t talk to their parents or their siblings.  They don’t spend holidays together, getting food coloring stained on their hands from decorating cookies or watching their sister accidentally get in the wrong car of the grocery store parking lot.  They don’t get to sit on the couch with their Dad and watch him laugh until he cries while watching a movie or get woken up by a dog pile of siblings in the bed.  They don’t sit around the dinner table after eating a ginormous meal and talk about family traditions or funny things that happened when they were kids.  It makes me feel sad and lucky all at the same time.

As I get older I appreciate more and more what an amazing blessing it is that our family has chosen to remain close.  And trust me, it’s a choice.  Just because we’re all awesome doesn’t mean we don’t fight and want to kill each other sometimes.  But we’ve always chosen to get past it and I’m so so glad.  I count my family as my greatest blessing and I feel pretty lucky to have them.  Even when they are eating me out of house and home and I have to go to the grocery store for milk for the fifteenth time since Friday.  I guess they’re worth it.

My Grandma’s Cooler Than Your Grandma. At Least I Like To Think So.

December 8th, 2010 by Kateastrophe

Some of my most favorite life memories involve my Grandma.  She has been my best friend for my whole life.  We don’t look much alike but I like to think I’m her mini-me, personality wise, although she’s much mellower than I am…

My Grandma was born in a tiny town in Ohio and her father was the only doctor in the county.  She had a super cool, eccentric mother and grew up very posh.  She attended an all-girls college and was engaged to someone else when she met and got engaged to my Grandpa.  Scandalous!  Once I asked her why she decided to leave the other guy for Grandpa and she told me that Grandpa was the big man on campus, the hottest guy she’d ever seen and she just couldn’t say no to those blue eyes!  They made quite the couple.  Their wedding pictures look like something out of a magazine.  I wish I had some scanned in to share.  They were both so unbelievably beautiful it takes my breath away.

Grandma was (and still is) gorgeous. She actually modeled for quite a long time and has always been one of the most fashionable, beautiful women I’ve ever seen.  She is the epitome of class. As long as I can remember her hair has been looooong but she keeps it up in a neat bun.  I used to spend hours sitting on her bed helping her brush her hair and then helping her pick out her meticulously matched outfits and jewelry.  My love of shoes and clothes (and shopping!) comes directly from her. 

The family travel bug started with Grandma, I’m sure of it.  When my Mom was growing up in Yugoslavia, Grandma used to cram all the kids into their Volkswagon Vanogen and just drive somewhere fun for weeks at a time.  There’s a story about one summer she decided to camp on the beach outside of Venice.  They spent a few days there and then one rainy day noticed everyone else was packing up to leave.  Turns out some sort of hurricane like storm was blowing through.  Grandma refused to leave.  She wanted more time on vacation so they battened down the hatches and stuck it out.  By the next day Mom claims the weather was great again AND they had the beach to themselves.  Grandma took them skiing in the Alps and all over the US.  She loved to ski as much as the kids did.  I remember growing up getting little presents from India, Australia, all over Europe, Russia and even Africa.  Now that she’s older she hasn’t stopped traveling at all.  She recently went on a 15 day African Safari and slept half the time in a tent.  The year before that she went to Nepal and slept on cold cement floors at high elevations.  She is my travelling hero.  She has hundreds of photo albums filled with pictures of her amazing trips and she loves to talk about them.  I remember once she even braved Disneyland with all four of us kids…by herself!  I’m so glad I inherited the love of travelling and adventure from her. 

The other thing I definitely inherited from Grandma is a love of entertaining.  She has at least ten different sets of china and elaborate place settings to match.  She has cupboards full of chaffing dishes and serving-ware and is a master of presentation.  Her Christmas table is one of my favorite things.  She throws a yearly block party for Christmas AND for the 4th of July.  The whole neighborhood looks forward to her parties.  I dream of throwing parties the way she does and I’m working on building up my China collection.  I’m also working on learning her recipes so I can impress everyone’s taste buds like she does too. 

On top of the entertaining, she is so warm and welcoming.  Her home is always open to guests and company.  The door to their house is never closed or locked.  Friends and neighbors know they can always walk in and just shout “hello” as they do.  My girlfriends and I have been vacationing at her house since we were 14.  She loves my friends like her own grand-kids.  We are always welcomed with huge hugs and tips on where to go for the best time on our trip.  She even lets us stay at the house when she and Grandpa are gone!

When she was 55, Grandma went back to school and got a degree in interior design.  Grandpa likes to joke and say the only home she ever decorated was his.  The house really is beautiful.  She redoes a room about every year and her taste is impeccable.  Her home is my second home and I love being there.  She also goes ALL OUT for Christmas and the house transforms into the North Pole in California.  She’s been slowly giving me the kind of Christmas decorations that she has so someday I get to have the North Pole in Arizona (or wherever I end up living).

As you can see, I might just have the coolest Grandma ever.  She’s fun, and happy and wonderful to be around. She’s also our family’s quiet, strong hero.  She had to deal with a lot in her life (I know it doesn’t sound like it but trust me on this one) and she has handled it all with poise, grace and a smile.  I dream of someday being half the woman she is and I’m so very lucky God let me have her as my Grandma.

Together Forever

November 15th, 2010 by Kateastrophe

My husband has a brother named Mike whom I’ve never met.  He passed away in a car accident a long time ago.  Today would have been his 33rd birthday.  It’s a tragic story for so many reasons.  He was young and in the prime of his life.  He had been called to serve a mission for our church in Brazil, the same place my husband had just returned from serving his two year mission.  They were excited to both speak Portuguese and Matt was already planning a trip to go pick Mike up when he was done with his mission.  Mike was fun and joyful and wonderful.  And now, as long as they live, their family has a hole in it.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to be there for Matt and his family because I didn’t know Mike.  I only have pictures and stories and sometimes they evoke pain instead of happiness.  I try hard to be respectful of any feelings and emotions this time of year and I try to help in any way I can but I’m sure I fail.  I’ve started some traditions to help remember Mike on his birthday.  Matt and I have sent flowers to his parents every year since we’ve been married.  It’s not much but I feel like it shows his parents that we are thinking of them and that we will never forget. This year I had a little “Remember Mike” birthday party.  I served his favorite food (pizza and chocolate cake) and we looked at pictures Matt’s Mom sent to us and talked about the memories behind them.  It was hard and it was fun all at the same time.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for Matt’s family to think about the days when Mike was still here but I hope that somehow talking about the good times helps keep his memory alive.  Besides, I love learning about some of the things that Mike and I have in common because as it turns out, there are quite a lot of those things.  I also love learning about how we were different and about the things that he struggled with.  It makes him much more real to me.

It’s hard to understand why God would take such a wonderful, vibrant young man from his family.  Sometimes I think it’s maddening and infuriating and just downright unfair - something I feel like I’m saying a lot lately.  (I maybe have some pent up rage??)  However, as unfair as life sometimes is, as I’ve also been saying a lot lately, I believe that God gives us hard experiences to make us stronger.  I also believe that sometimes the lesson we are supposed to learn or the reason for a trial or difficult life challenge may not be made known in this lifetime. Yes, sometimes that makes me mad.  Sometimes I think we deserve explanations for why we suffer. Most of the time, much to my dismay, I don’t get my way.  Life is hard and it’s hard for a reason.  None of us can grow and progress unless we are stretched to our limits.  I’m grateful to believe in a God who is well aware of what those limits are and who will never, ever give us more than we can handle or stretch us too far.

Today I am grateful for the knowledge that I have that families are forever - Mike will be with his family again someday and I will have a chance to meet him and got get to know him. I believe he is in heaven with my future children and grandchildren, preparing them for this wild Earth ride.  I don’t think the LDS Church is alone in the belief of being with our loved ones in Heaven but I do believe that the focus we put on the eternal nature of families makes us unique and gives so much comfort when hard things like this happen.  We speak often about the Plan of Happiness and why we believe the Lord sent us to Earth.  Worthy members of the Church are sealed together for time and all eternity in our marriage ceremony…not just until death do we part.  Our entire focus is on keeping families together.  I love that.  That is my truth.  I’m so grateful for a God who has a plan (he must have known that I’m a big fan of plans) to help us all return to live with Him with the relationships we’ve formed on Earth intact.  As hard as it is that Mike isn’t here, I’m so glad to know without a doubt that he’s alive and well watching over our family every single day.

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***If you’d like to learn more about what my family and other Mormons believe, you can visit the new and improved Mormon.orgThere is a whole section of questions and answers, a live chat feature (ooooh, aaaaah) and a way to find the testimonies of people just like you.  You can also request a free Book of Mormon here and even schedule an appointment with the missionaries if you would like.  I try hard not to be preachy and I truly respect the beliefs of all so please understand that I would never force this on anyone.  Despite being raised in a heavily Mormon society, I did my best to study other beliefs and religions and after much soul searching and prayer, THIS is what I believe and know to be true. The comfort and peace as well as miracles and blessings my beliefs have brought to me over the years are undeniable.  If you’re searching for something more, do me a favor and just look into it.  If you’re curious, look into it.  Either way you can learn something new and maybe help people understand that Mormons REALLY don’t have horns and we REALLY aren’t all polygamists.  And yes, I’ve seriously been asked both questions before.  Also, I’m also always here to answer any questions you might have.  You can email me anytime at kateastrophe(at)cox(dot)net***

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