Inconceivable: Part 3

Inconceivable: Part III

 

Dearest readers:

I’d like to thank you again for the overwhelming positive responses to my posts. Your reactions and kind words and support mean more than you can possibly know. Many of you have been anxiously anticipating part 3, so here is a tidbit. I began to write it, but some details of medications and timing all became hazy to me. So in the interest of accuracy (thank you Ithaca College journalism program), I have requested my monstrous file from my doctor, which has been taking a while. I should be getting it soon, and it is then I will be able to finish this endeavor. Until then, I give you a taste of Part 3….

I needed a break. A break from doctors and sonograms and shots and blood tests and constant disappointment. I needed a break from feeling out of control and being angry with every pregnant woman on the street, and everywhere else for that matter. Why her and not me? Why that 15 year old and not me? Why 50-year-old Halle Berry and not me? Honestly, men were starting to look pregnant to me too.

I’m sure my husband needed a break from my crying fits, my ability to go from nasty bitch to delicate flower in 4.2 seconds and my inability to keep plans due to migraines, anxiety and depression.

So we took a break.

I was exhausted. I was numb. I felt less of a woman. My body was put on Earth to do one thing, and it couldn’t do it. I blamed myself. I couldn’t help it. My husband had supersperm and I had a body fighting against accepting them. If there was anyone to blame here, I thought, it was myself.

I kept flashing back to when I was 16 and brought to Schneider’s Children’s Hospital eating disorder clinic. I was 90 pounds of skin and bones. The doctor who examined me had the bedside manner of Clint Eastwood in that movie where he yells, “GET OFF MY LAWN!”

“Look at your stomach!” he exclaimed with disgust while tapping on my concave abdomen. “You can eat soup out of here!”

I just stared at him blankly. What could I say? In my demented mind, that comment was simultaneously a compliment and really creepy.

“You know,” he warned me, “you keep this up and you’re not going to be able to have kids.”

That stuck with me…for years. I really liked kids. I was always great with kids. I did want them, someday. But could my desire to be thin really affect that? Maybe that’s why I wasn’t getting pregnant. Had I messed up my body so much that I was unable to get knocked up? Did Dr. Eastwood’s prediction come true? Was this really all my fault?

Everybody had a story to try to make me feel better. So-and-so’s cousin’s best friend’s sister went through this for 12 years, gave up or decided to adopt and BAM! got pregnant naturally. My sister was one of those stories, in fact. After three rounds of IVF and a miscarriage, feeling defeated, she stopped treatments. A few months later, she was pregnant with niece #1 and less than a year later, pregnant with niece #2…both naturally. So I had hope. It happened to my own flesh and blood, so maybe that’s how it would happen for me.

All of this baffled my mother. She had no problem getting pregnant 5 times (2 miscarriages….one before me, one after me). The difference was she had all her kids by age 30. I was already at what was considered advanced age for baby making, 36.

While on our hiatus from dealing with infertility, a few people suggested acupuncture. A friend of ours, who also had been dealing with fertility issues, tried it and got pregnant the month after she started. My sister had also tried it after her multiple failed attempts with IVF and she got pregnant a few months later as well. If Western medicine wasn’t working for us, maybe Eastern medicine was the answer. It couldn’t hurt right? Well, except for all those needles being stuck into your body. But after 3 years of being a human pincushion, this didn’t deter me.

Our friend suggested an acupuncturist in Chinatown. I had a consultation with Dr. Wu (not his real name, but close enough) and he asked me of my woes. Beside infertility, I decided to see if he could also help me with migraines.

“I take care of you,” he said in his very heavy accent. “Headaches be gone and you have baby in no time.”

So we went to a stark white room, where incense burned and soft music played. He told me to lie down and relax. Then he stuck me with about 30 tiny needles in pressure points all over my body: arms, legs, belly, ears, face, everywhere. It didn’t hurt. It actually kind of felt good. He dimmed the lights, told me to close my eyes and said he’d be back in 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, he came in, asked how I was feeling, took out all the needles and said to come back in two days.

After that first visit I felt kind of rejuvenated. This might work, I thought. I was starting to feel a twinge of a foreign emotion I hadn’t experienced in years…hope. Then there was the second visit.

Going into visit #2 I had the beginnings of a migraine: I was seeing spots, I was extremely sensitive to sound and the pulsing was starting on the right side of my head. I decided to go anyway, thinking the treatment might actually help. He did tell me, “headaches be gone”. I told him how I felt. He said, “OK, when I finish, you feel betta.” Except I didn’t. I felt worse. I walked out of the office and didn’t think I was going to make it home. My migraine was significantly worse than when I got there. I was in bed for the next 2 days with one of the worst migraines I have ever experienced. I had no idea if the acupuncture affected the migraine in any way, but I couldn’t help but make the connection.

“Just so you know,” I told Dr. Wu on visit #3, “My migraine got worse after treatment. I actually had one of the worst migraines of my life. Could the acupuncture have made it worse?”

“Ooooooohhhhhh, yeeeesssss,” he replied shaking his head. “That happen sometime.”

Well, it didn’t happen again because I never went back.

 

We briefly considered adoption. I searched different websites for information, spoke with a colleague in-depth about the process she went through to adopt her daughter. We even had a specific kid in mind to adopt, Jesus. OK, not a name a nice Jewish girl from Long Island would choose for her own child, but the irony alone intrigued me.

Jesus was a boy at the pre-school where my husband worked. Jesus was in foster care and absolutely adored my husband.

“MEE-shell!” Jesus would say in his Brooklyn Mafioso accent. “You got pajamas on?” I guess this half-blind tot believed my husband’s new plaid shorts were a poor fashion choice. Besides being painstakingly adorable and possibly the next Tim Gunn, Jesus was a known pickpocket at the ripe age of 4.

Although I am sure we would have provided a wonderful home for this budding criminal, he also had 2-year-old twin siblings who were visually impaired as well. We just weren’t ready to take on that kind of responsibility.

And at the risk of sounding completely selfish, I wanted a child of my own; one that came from my body and made up of pieces of both my husband and myself. I was willing to adopt if that became our only option. I was willing to love and care for any child, but I wasn’t ready to give up trying to have one of our own. I also wasn’t ready for what I knew was the next, much harder step, IVF. Not yet.

In those months after our 6 failed IUIs, as I was trying to recover both physically and emotionally, I felt a void, an emptiness. I’ve always imagined myself being a mother. I’ve always had this desire/need to help and take care of others (probably to avoid really taking care of myself). I needed something. I wanted something. That something was a baby, but that was proving to be quite a challenge. So we finally did decide to adopt…dogs.

I grew up with dogs my entire life and thought, if I can’t have a baby, at least I can be a momma to another living being. My husband on the other hand, had very limited experience with pets. He had a pet turtle for a while and there was also Cesar, the cat. But poor Cesar “ran away” once it became obvious that my husband was severely allergic to cats.

Sensing my doggy desire, my husband decided to get tested to see if he was allergic to dogs too. Once we learned he wasn’t, it was full steam ahead on becoming puppy parents. My new obsession was looking for adoptable dogs.

There was Burt Lancaster, the blue eyed husky. He ended up being a little too mangy and a very heavy shedder. Then there was Jason Bateman, a shiny-coated black lab. He was a bit too timid for our taste (and, as we later learned, also bat-shit crazy because our friend’s cousin adopted him). Then came Daisy… Daisy Fuentes.

Daisy caught my husband’s attention from afar. It was like love at first sight: he saw her across a crowded adoption event—panting heavily, golden coat shining in the autumn sun, eyes twinkling. He had to meet her. Boo Bear, a mini-German Shepard looking pup who looked like she wore eyeliner, sat beside Daisy, a bit more aloof.

We weren’t planning on adopting two dogs, but a lot of things weren’t going according to plan in our lives. As my husband likes to say, I wanted a dog, he didn’t, so we compromised and got two. We were told these pups were bound together, sisters from another mister, if you will. They grew up in the same home, rescued together, so the adoption agency was hoping to keep them together. They were kind of superstars in the adoption volunteer circle. As a matter of fact, Daisy almost made it into O magazine for a spread they were doing about the dog adoption agency. Unfortunately, she didn’t make the cut.

So on October 5, 2013, Daisy and Boo became our fur babies and made me a momma. Those girls desperately needed a home and I desperately needed to be needed, so it was a win-win for all.

Getting “the girls”, as we have come to call them, was exactly what I needed at that time in my life. I was sick of people trying to console me and distract me and give me advice. The girls did exactly what I needed them to do: they provide me with unconditional love, unlimited snuggling and brought me comfort and smiles I had not experienced in a very long time. They brought my spirits up and kept my mind off of my empty uterus.

After almost 6 months of a much-needed break, clearing my head and body of toxins and soaking up the love of our new pups, we decided to take the leap and try IVF in the new year. We understood the challenges we were about to face, the money we were about to spend and the heartache we might encounter, but we had to do it. We owed it to ourselves to try. We owed it to the kid, who could be the product of this process, to be able to have us as parents.

Our doctor explained what the cycle would be like. It was intense, she told us; even more so than the IUIs. But she didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t work for us. I appreciated her honesty and her positivity.

So in February of 2014, it began again. Morning visits to the hospital in the depressing waiting room full of hopeful, sad women, more probing, more blood work, more drugs, more waiting and anticipating.

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Inconceivable: Part 2

Inconceivable: Part 2

After two years of “trying”, we were sent to a fertility clinic, which I think is a total misnomer since patients are there for infertility problems. I guess they are just trying to be optimistic.

During our intake visit, our assigned doctor (who was pregnant by the way…the second doctor I was seeing for infertility who was with child…slight slap in the face) explained the battery of tests we would be going through to make sure things were in working order, on a deeper level, for both of us. For my husband, this included testing his sperm quality for mobility (how fast and effectively those suckers could swim) and numbers per shot. He had just turned 50 at the time and age could affect sperm quality, so they said.

His part of this process included something pleasurable, something he’s been doing most of his life. So he shot a load in the provided sterilized cup, (in the privacy of our own home, not a shady room with cum-stained Playboys from 1976, thank goodness). He rode those little suckers all the way to the hospital (in his pants—while biking!—for optimal warmth) to be analyzed.

Meanwhile, I was to endure a battery of a lot more invasive tests, which included being sedated, having dye shot in my uterus through a catheter, having gallons of blood taken and other tests that in no way included me having a big O at the end.

I headed to the radiology department of the hospital to get a hysterosalpingogram. For those not in the know, here’s how this one goes: you get strapped into stirrups, gyno-style. Then a Doogie Howser-type character inserts the coldest, slimiest, largest metal speculum (aka vaginal lip spreaders) you have ever seen. After that, he inserts a catheter, which is injected with stinging blue dye into the uterus to check the function of the fallopian tubes. At least that’s how it went for me.

Except the Doogie doppelganger was not a brilliant medical genius, but a fumbling, careless, masochist intern. Instead of the blue dye being injected into the catheter, it puddled under my butt.

“Sorry…the catheter wasn’t inserted correctly,” he explained. I half grinned, fully believing that the real Neil Patrick Harris would do a much better job.

By the third try, the nurse looked at me sympathetically and asked if I wanted to squeeze her hand. By the fourth try, evil twin of Doogie sighed, “DANG! You have a really tilted uterus!” Did a doctor just say “dang” while my fully exposed vag and blue dyed Smurf-looking ass was in his face? Not cool.

Beside a bad taste in my mouth from that vagina-less doctor, the rest of the week left me with disabling cramps and spotting. Thanks Doogs.

The test revealed that one of my fallopian tubes kinked while the blue dye flowed through. This, my doctor informed me, could be one of the reasons why I wasn’t getting pregnant. When eggs are released, they go through the fallopian tubes and then into the uterus. It’s like a water slide for the eggs before they meet up with the sperm. If the eggs are not fertilized, then the eggs and thickened lining shed, resulting in menstruation. A little extra lesson in menses. You’re welcome.

However, if the fallopian tubes kink, then the egg or eggs and uterine lining can flow back up the tube and deposit itself on the outside of the uterus, resulting in endometriosis.

There is not a test that can check for endometriosis. (So they say.) One must undergo exploratory surgery to see if it exists. (So they say….or they just want to charge your insurance company $10,000 for a surgery you may or may not really need.). Since endometriosis can be a large cause of infertility and because my tubes kinked during that nightmare test, my doctor suggested getting surgery before we started any treatment.

On December 7, 2012, I had laproscopic surgery. Three little slits were cut into my belly to explore for endometriosis, fibroids and other enemies of pregnancy. They found a shit-ton of endometriosis around my uterus and bowel (of course they did! That crap was probably flowing backwards since the early 90s!). It was all removed and cleaned out. My uterus hadn’t been this clean since before that fateful day in 6th grade when Peter Canerelli told me I sat in chocolate at lunch when in actuality, I bled through my skort.

I’m pretty lucky, I guess, because a lot of women with endometriosis experience excruciating, debilitating pain each month. Ever see those commercials where torturous looking barbed wires squeeze a woman’s mid-section? The expression on the woman’s face looks like she is extremely constipated and trying to take the biggest dump of her life. The commercial is trying to emulate the feeling of endometriosis. It’s a little scary, but from what I hear, not that far off. I never experienced that. My endometriosis was like a fart: silent but deadly, suffocating my pregnancy hopes and dreams.

The surgeon explained, often times after the surgery, women get pregnant after the innards have been cleansed of junk, to put it into layman’s terms. But that didn’t happen for me. There were other enemies at work as well.

Through the many gallons of blood drawn, it was found that I tested positive for a MTHFR gene mutation (which a friend of mine cleverly dubbed the “Mother Fucker” gene since she also has it and it was the cause of her many miscarriages), thrombophilia (an abnormality of blood coagulations that increases the risk of blood clots), and Factor 5 and 9. Each of these on their own is pretty serious, but all together can cause all sorts of horrible problems such as infertility, miscarriages, blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and all sorts of different cancers. I also learned most of these wonderful gifts were passed to me from my father. Thanks Dad!

On the other hand, my husband’s sperm tested off the charts for mobility and number of swimmers per shot. The normal amount of sperm per load was about 20 million. My husband’s was over 8 times that much, 164 million. (side note: I consider myself to have a very good memory, but wasn’t sure of the exact numbers on this. I asked my husband, whose memory can be spotty. He didn’t remember that he got his blue eyes from his father or what his nephew’s last name was and he constantly forgets the name of one of our tenants who has been living here for over three years. But when I asked the question about his sperm, he remembered that detail of his life right away. “I’m really good with numbers,” he answered. Mmmmm hmmmm….).

It was always a joy when a new doctor or nurse would look at my chart. When looking at my plethora of ailments, I got the tilted head, pity look; the look given to the fat kid who gets picked last in gym. When looking at my husband’s chart topping sperm results, they kind of chuckled and said things like, “Well, that’s pretty impressive!” or “Whoa! I guess age didn’t effect his little guys!” or “Looks like your husband is quite the overachiever!” I felt like they would totally give him a high five and a pat on the back, while I got my pity-filled shoulder squeeze.

In January 2013, we began our first round of IUI, intrauterine insemination. For this process, there are some options:

  1. “natural” insemination: fertility injections are taken to prepare the body for ovulation, you are monitored every other day via vaginal sonogram and blood tests, doctors tell you exactly when to have sex. They literally write out a schedule for when to take your shots and when to have intercourse. It looks something like this:

 

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Gonal, blood test Gonal Gonal, blood test Gonal, intercourse Gonal, blood test

 

  1. “turkey baster” insemination (not the technical term): same process as above, except instead of the doctor telling you when to have sex, they insert the sperm into the uterus via a turkey baster looking tool.

 

For round one, we decided to go for the more natural option one. My drugs were ordered from Freedom Pharmacy, the fertility pharmacy experts. I was given a crash course in how to inject myself. I had the option of letting my husband shoot me, but the shot had to be done at the same time each day and, as a jazz musician, his schedule is ever-changing. OK, fine…..I’m not telling the whole truth.

Honestly, I was feeling so out-of-control with everything else in my life, I just wanted to do it myself. I wanted to be the master of my own pain. I was feeling so much on the inside that I couldn’t control, I wanted/needed to control what I was feeling on the outside.

A huge box arrived at our house with a plethora of medications I’d never heard of: Gonal, Lovenox, Ganorelix, HCG and let’s not forget my favorite, progesterone suppositories, for vaginal use only (we’ll get to those little gems in a bit).

The Gonal shot was to be done once a day in the upper thigh muscle. The upper arm was another option, but because I have “spaghetti arms”, as one nurse told me, my “fleshier thighs” were the better choice, she said.

Freedom Pharmacy is even kind enough to have instructional videos on their website. A jolly looking woman goes through the shooting process step-by-step, with the tone of a Food Network host showing you how to prepare a rotisserie chicken. But instead of the end result being tasty, crispy thighs, you get sore, bruised and bumpy ones.

Giving myself shots became part of my daily routine. My thighs transformed into rainbow colored pin-cushions. Then there was inserting the white bullet-like vaginal suppositories, sans applicator, three times a day, which leaked a nice chalky substance and caused itching. Awesome. Becoming fertile and getting pregnant started to become like a full-time job.

Two to three times a week, at about 6:30am I dashed off to the hospital. Clinic hours for women like me—trying to get pregnant, taking meds, needing to be monitored every other day until the insemination—were from 7am-9am. This meant trying to be seen and back to work before school began. This was an incredible challenge. There were many women in the waiting room each morning. Many women trying to get seen and to work on time, just like me. You’d think these women, experiencing the same challenge of infertility would be a supportive group. Nope. These ladies were fierce, hormonal competitors.

One morning as I got onto the elevator at the hospital, another woman caught the door and entered just as the doors were closing. She was clutching a brown paper bag. Having seen this bag before, I knew it was a fresh batch of her husband’s goods to be delivered to the fertility clinic. As I pressed the 4th floor button, she looked me up and down like a high school mean girl, moved closer to the elevator door and got into a runner’s stance. When the elevator doors opened, she elbowed passed me, still grasping her brown paper bag of valuable swimmers and nearly sprinted to the front desk. No joke. Bitch wanted to get her name down on the list before me. She couldn’t wait to get that lubricated wand shoved up her vag, get her instructions for the next two days and get the hell out of there. I could relate.

The waiting room filled up with desperate, hormonal women on the verge of either fighting someone or crying at any moment. Did we come together in a kombaya-type circle holding hands and praying for our wombs to be full? Nope, that was definitely not the case….but I’m sure that’s the type of thing they did during the fertility support groups I never attended. No one spoke to each other on those dreadful mornings. We just sat there waiting for our names to be called, avoiding eye contact or small talk and sadly reading Parents magazine. Why on earth would that periodical even be a choice at a fertility clinic? Weren’t we being tortured enough?

Over the course of the next year and a half, I became a permanent fixture of that waiting room. I endured 6 IUIs: 2 natural insemination, 4 turkey baster inseminations, which came along with debilitating migraines, excruciating cramps, nausea, mood swings from hell, an ocean of tears, disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness, deep depression and 6 negative pregnancy tests.

It was time to try something else.

 

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Inconceivable: Part 1

My dearest readers,

It has been too long my friends. I apologize. But I became inspired to write again, or rather, share a story I have written and re-written a hundred times over. Until now, this story was just for me. I wrote this as a sort of therapy for myself to document my experience; to remember one of the most difficult times in my life.

There are many women going through the same experience and I feel the need to share. It would be selfish not to. Maybe it will help someone. Maybe it will get you to chuckle about a not-so-chucklable topic (yep, just made that up). If nothing else, it was helpful to me to write it. It was cathartic. It got me to express what was so hard to while it was all actually happening.

Writing is my way of healing….as is using humor as a defense mechanism. Enjoy the first of what may be a 3-4 part series.

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Inconceivable: Part 1

          We started trying to get pregnant (aka, we took the goalie out of the net) before we got married. I didn’t care if I was a preggo bride. We were already “living in sin” for over a year. Plus, we weren’t exactly spring chickens, or very religious, or religious at all for that matter. Whoever was going to judge us didn’t belong at our awesome wedding anyway!

But I wasn’t a pregnant bride. And we didn’t create a honeymoon baby or even a year anniversary baby. So we decided to, as my grandmother would say, go check if my “plumbing was working”. Besides a tilted uterus (I swing to the left), my initial vaginacologist visit showed no reasons why we couldn’t get pregnant.

My doctor told me to start charting my temperature and track my ovulation. This didn’t mean just taking my temperature and having sex on days 12-17 of my cycle (the average time women with a 28 day cycle ovulate). Nope. That would be much too easy. This meant purchasing a specialized basal thermometer, which measures temperature to a hundredth of a degree, and an ovulation predictor kit, which is supposed to tell when one is ovulating.

Charting one’s temperature goes a little something like this: alarm goes off, with eyes still shut, grab the basal thermometer and take temperature, while still lying in bed. Apparently, even having one foot out of the covers or going to pee first will ruin the results. This is to begin on Day 1, the first day Aunt Flow arrives. Each day, temperatures are recorded and conveniently organized on the handy spreadsheet provided in the kit. Or as some women on fertility blogs suggested, you can create an excel spreadsheet and compare each week/month/year/decade of your temperature. Ummmm, no thanks.

When one ovulates, temperature rises slightly, which indicates ovulation, optimal baby making time. Knowing when it’s baby making time based on slight temperature rise is all contingent on whether one remembers to actually take one’s temperature each morning…which I did not. Oops.

Since the ovulation kit required me to do something I do every morning—pee—it was much easier to do. I am a creature of habit, so this task seemed a lot easier to remember. The ovulation test is kind of like a pregnancy test, but instead of telling the pee-er she is knocked up, it tells when she’s ovulating. Except the two lines that were supposed to reveal themselves when my luteinizing hormone (the ‘LH surge’) surged were MIA.

At first I thought I must have been peeing on the stick wrong. It was first thing in the morning and I am certainly not a morning person. Perhaps I was urinating on the wrong side. It could happen. After three months of trying the ovulation kit, (at $40 a pop!), a blood test confirmed I was not ovulating every month. Ovulating is a vital step in getting pregnant, so it was time for some assistance.

Enter Clomid.

Clomid is an oral drug taken to help a woman ovulate. Clomid can also cause more than one egg to drop during ovulation, resulting in multiples. This didn’t scare me. OK, let me rephrase that. The idea of two didn’t scare me, but three, well….one step at a time I reminded myself.

First month on Clomid: negative pregnancy test.

Second month on Clomid: negative pregnancy test, followed by 23 consecutive days of full flow bleeding. Good times.

The lining of my uterus got too thick from not ovulating all those months. It was like my uterus was a bulemorexic; it refused to ovulate for months, but then it just purged.    Psychologically, this made perfect sense to me. When things bother me, I tend to hold it in, let it build up and then, WHOOSH! The floodgates open up. I let everything out in an uncontrollable, undecipherable, screaming, crying, blubbering way. Only a lucky few have seen this side of me. Once I’ve let it all out, the waters are calm once again. It was only fitting that my uterus did the same. When my doctor explained this all to me, I thought, “Yup! That is SO my uterus!”

Once the hemorrhaging finally subsided, I didn’t get my period again for two months. The river ran dry….which confused me because, as one would assume, not getting your period might mean you are pregnant. Nope. Not me. For me, it meant my uterus was taking a break. Fucking uterus. For this, I needed to take Provera, a medication that induces menstruation. I know, every woman’s dream.

At this time, my doctor suggested it was time to see a specialist. With her own pregnant belly taunting me, she gently told me, “We’ve done all we can for you here. You need more help than we can offer.”

She didn’t purposely make me hate her. She was perfectly nice and professional and very thorough. But with my own doctor being pregnant, combined with her flawless skin, beautiful flowing blonde locks and her mile long legs, I couldn’t help it. Plus, she has the same name as my dictator college professor who once gave me a zero for an assignment because I was one minute late. But I digress….

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Project 52, Week 30 : PURA VIDA! Bienvenidos a COSTA RICA! Part 1

August 15, 2012 : Departure, Day 1

After much discussion and contemplation, we finally decided to take our 3rd annual honeymoon to Costa Rica. We call it our “3rd annual” even though we have been married (almost) two years. I made it a point during the “1st annual honeymoon” to call it such so there would be subsequent honeymoons thereafter. Brilliant, I know.

Year one, Greece. Unbelievable, beautiful, picturesque, unforgettable.

Year 2, Quebec City…with my mother-in-law…snoring like a chainsaw in the bed beside us. Still a lovely vacation.

Year 3, here we are in Costa Rica.

After last year, we decided to treat ourselves to a big getaway before we procreate. We thought about going to Germany and France (both places we have friends to stay with) with a stop over in Iceland, courtesy of Iceland Air’s ridiculous deal. But that didn’t pan out. Then it was Brazil, a place my husband has always dreamed of going. But after I read of rape, riots and rampant diseases, we needed a new plan. Once Michel discovered there were over 800 different species of birds, I got the green light to book the tickets to Costa Rica. He’s what I like to call a bird nerd; stopping often in the middle of walking down the street or while playing soccer in the park, staring up above,  mouth wide open, just repeating “WOW!”, leaving those around him wondering what the hell he sees. A space ship? A storm a-comin’? Nope. Just a red-tailed hawk swooping down on its prey.

Back to Costa Rica: A smiling Tico, which is what the locals call themselves, met us at San Jose airport holding up a sign with my name on it, well sort of. It said “Dayra Goldbeg”. Close enough.

He spoke to us in Spanish at lightning speed. He told us with vibrant friendliness, “No hable Ingles! (I don’t speak English!) Hablo Espanol! (I speak Spanish!)  Necesitan hablar Espanol en Costa Rica! (You need to speak Spanish in Costa Rica!)”

Good to know.

We quickly learned staying in lanes while driving was optional, as our driver meandered from the left to center lanes. The rain was torrential and we hoped this was not an indication of what was to come for our two week stay.

“Lluvia mucho in Costa Rica! (It rains a lot in Costa Rica!),” exclaimed our driver. I’m not overusing exclamation points here. He didn’t speak, he exclaimed.

Just then, a lightning bolt illuminated the length of the sky in hues of indigo and purple and the driver in front of us crashed into the median.

“Pura Vida!” the driver shrugged.

It’s the national motto. It means “Pure Life”. Raining too much? Car accidents abound? Reckless cab drivers? Pura Vida!

We’ll have to see about that.

August 16, Day 2: Do you know the way to San Jose?

We were told there was not much to see in San Jose, but we decided to take the day to see for ourselves. It’s true, there isn’t much to see. The city is rather dirty and smelly and run down. Exhibit A:

But if we didn’t go exploring, we wouldn’t have found the indoor soccer field in the middle of the city

or see Santa Claus disguised as a hobo.

Back at the Santo Tomas Hotel ( http://www.hotelsantotomas.com), our very accommodating accommodations, we met Tomas himself; a North Carolina native who has been living in Costa Rica for 25 years. He was extremely helpful, as was his right hand man Miguel. They organized our tour to Tortuguero through Jungle Tom Safaris (www.jungletomsafaris.com), where we hope to see giant green sea turtles laying their eggs. Tortuguero is on the Caribbean coast and is pretty difficult to get to. But good ‘ol Miguel set the whole thing up for us. Our van picks us up at 6am.

But before we get to bed early, we decided to have a frou frou drink poolside. Ahhhhhh……

August 17, Day 3: Rocky Road is not just an ice cream flavor

If there is such thing as Shaken Adult Syndrome, I think I have it. Our guide Walter told us we would be receiving a massage today courtesy of the Costa Rican road to Tortuguero. While I closed my eyes and tried not to barf on my Italian bus mate’s leather loafers (Seriously dude? We’re going to the rain forest! No need to make a fashion statement.), Michel tapped me every few minutes to point out the beautiful nature surrounding us. I really did want to keep my eyes open to see the tiger heron (it’s a bird) or a kapok tree, but my need to hold down my typical Tico breakfast was stronger.

We did stop a few times along the way. First to see a three-toed sloth,

where a man was selling lychee, a very popular and delicious fruit in Costa Rica.

At the Delmonte factory, we got to  see the process bananas go through to get packaged for our eating pleasure.

We then transferred to a low-to-the-water, propane-run, ecologically friendly boat for another two hours in waters swimming with crocs (the reptile, not he ugly shoes). Can’t you see the excitement oozing through our pores? Nope, that’s just the 100% humidity. Thus, the head scarf to tame the beast that is my hair.

We didn’t see any crocs, but we did see a green ibis (which apparently is a very rare bird). This photo is courtesy of Google images. Unlike a lot of our boat mates, we wanted to enjoy what we were seeing with our own eyes rather than through a camera lens.

 

We also saw roseight spoonbills that look like small flamingos with spoon-shaped bills and  anhingas, a bird that holds out its wings to dry, which make them look like majestic, cocky little suckers. This photo is my own.

Once on the island of Tortuguero, we went to our quaint hotel, the Evergreen Lodge (http://evergreentortuguero.com). We were welcomed with a fruity umbrella drink and a flat screen TV at the bar showing reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. My kind of place.

We headed to our cute little bungalow situated in the rain forest, where monkeys, bats, and spiders were our very close neighbors.

Our place was equipped with two double beds (in case it’s just too hot to be near each other), a frog painting, rocking chairs and a back deck perfect for viewing the white-faced monkeys (aka capucines) and howler monkeys swinging from branch to branch. Howler monkeys sound like small dinosaurs with empty bellies. Here is our humble abode.

August 18, Day 4: Take my breath away

When I saw Michelangelo’s David in Florence, it took my breath away…literally. I gasped when I saw this artistic wonder, my eyes bulged, jaw dropped. I had a similar experience last night when we saw the green sea turtles. Our guide, Alfonso said there was a 90% chance of seeing the process the sea turtle laying her eggs–her long journey from the sea to make a nest, then lay up to 100 eggs, covering them up and then trekking back into the water.

We met in an airfield at 8pm and it felt like we were on a stealth mission. Dressed in dark clothing, so we wouldn’t disturb the turtles, in the black of night, we followed Alfonso into the darkness toward the turtles. For a while we were walking up and down the beach staring into a black abyss, trying to figure our what we were seeing beside darkness.

Eventually we saw each and every amazing stage of the process. We witnessed a determined turtle making her way from the water up the beach to create a nest. Then seeing her exhaustion as she pushed her flippers through the thick black sand, making her arduous journey back to the sea. “Moving like a turtle” became a very clear cliche.

But the part that took my breath away was seeing the turtle lay its eggs. I felt like I was intruding on an extremely intimate moment, but our guide assured us that when she starts laying her eggs, she gets in a “zone” and has no idea of the world around her. Alfonso straddled the turtle and shone the light to where she was laying her eggs. The leathery eggs dropped one, two, sometimes, three at a time. I’ve never witnessed a birth before, but that is what it felt like. It was beautiful.

Photos were not allowed but this image is forever etched in my mind.

Today, Robert, our boat guide, took us on a tour of different canals around Tortuguero to see some wildlife. Michel got to sit at the head of the boat and was just about as happy as a pig in poop.

We saw a caman (a small crocodile),

a Jesus Christ lizard (aka common bailisk, but called Jesus Christ because it walks across the water when it feels threatened!). These little suckers are extremely hard to spot since they blend into their surroundings so well.

After our boat tour, Robert gave us a chance to go get some rubber boats in preparation for our walk through the rainforest. Here I am looking rain forest fab.

We trekked through some pretty thick, slippery mud. Robert requested “ladies stay by the men. You’ll need their help.” This just fired me up to go ahead and do it myself. If the male Italian loafer wearing fashion designer could do it, so could I! While all the other young girls squealed for help from the guys, I took the lead. I am woman! Hear me roar!

We also saw this cute little guy on our hike. It’s a poisonous red dart frog. Poisonous shmoisonous….he’s still cute.

August 19, Day 5: Making new friends 

The squealing girl group left yesterday and a new cast of characters arrived. This morning on our boat ride we met a volunteer from Idaho or some middle American state like that, who I thought Michel would have thrown overboard. She wouldn’t shut the hell up, which is not good when you are trying to see wildlife. Despite potato lady’s antics, we still got to see some amazing stuff.

 

After our boat ride, we went kayaking, where we encountered capucine monkeys playing overhead in the trees. I also saw a snake jump out of the water momentarily, which Michel did not see, which makes me think maybe I was hallucinating.

Here is Michel on his way to the kayak in the nifty life vest. Safety first.

We bid adieu to the beautiful island of Tortugero and the friends we made there.

Here is our guide Robert with two German girls from our tour group. He totally had the hots for them and keep rubbing his crotch against them when they were saying goodbye. I’m not kidding. It felt like there should have been house music playing and seizure-inducing strobe lights flashing.  Maybe that is the Costa Rican way of showing someone you fancy them.

Our ride back to San Jose was very eventful.  We were delayed a few hours because there was a fatal accident on the only road leading back to San Jose. A bus collided with a car and the road was closed. Did I mention Costa Rica has one of the highest per capita death rates from traffic fatalities in the world? Yea….that doesn’t help ease my mind about renting a car tomorrow. Hmmmmmmmmmm……

Tune into the next blog post to see what happens when the only driver in our family (me) drives on the treacherous roads of Costa Rica.

SPOILER ALERT: We made it out alive….barely.

 

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Project 52, Week 29 : I Love My Mother-In-Law

I love my mother-in-law. Seriously, I do. I know traditionally daughter-in-law and mother-in-law don’t always get along. Both are competing to be the most important woman in the son’s/husband’s life. That is not the case with my mother-in-law. We are both confident enough in his love for us to deal with that crap. Besides, hating your mother-in-law is so cliche.

Maybe I love my mother-in-law because she is a feisty 82-year-old firecracker with more energy than I have. Maybe I love my mother-in-law because she reminds me of my late beloved Grandma Tommy; both no nonsense ladies with bigger balls than most men I know. Maybe I love my mother-in-law because we share a love for the same man, as well as a love for ganging up on that man. Maybe I love my mother-in-law because when she sees two Hasidic men speaking to each other in Hebrew, she turns to me in the middle of a busy intersection and asks in her distinct French-Canadian accent, “Do you understand those men speaking Jewish over there?”

I definitely love her for all of the above.

When I first met Lise, I had a feeling she did not like me. She was probably wondering why her son chose to date yet another American woman who did not speak their native tongue. I felt she was short with me and a bit stand-offish. I think it was my misconception for thinking she was French, rather than French-Canadian. Big difference. But with each passing visit, I think I grew on her; I grew on her like a hairy mole. Sure it’s unsightly and grotesque, but over time it becomes a part of you.

In recent months, we have had the pleasure to have Lise visit twice. The ever-supportive, proud mother, she came in April for the concert featuring her son’s composition for chamber concerto. Lise came again in May to celebrate her 82nd birthday with us. Here is the birthday sign I made her to welcome her arrival:

Lise travels by bus all the way from Montreal to New York. It is an eight-hour bus ride. Ever since 9/11, she doesn’t like to fly. She does not read on the bus (makes her dizzy). She does not listen to music on the bus (we tried to convince her to get an ipod but she doesn’t like things in her ears). She does not sleep on the bus (Good thing! Her snoring sounds like a chainsaw!). She stares out the window for 8 hours, enjoys the small lunch she packs herself (whatever customs leaves her after searching her bags), and observes her fellow busmates.

Every year for her birthday, we bring Lise to Dance Africa, a show of different groups performing African Dance. In celebration of Dance Africa, there is a street festival with food, art and clothing from Africa. The day we went to there, it was over 90 degrees. As we sat down on the steps of the theater to eat lunch, Lise said she wasn’t feeling well. The next thing we knew she had fallen into my legs and her eyes were rolling in the back of her head. We called the ambulance, but she quickly woke up after Michel poured some water on her neck (just call him Dr. Gentile!). By the time the medics came to examine her, she was apologizing for being a nuisance, cracking jokes and flirting with the men. “Wow! I should pass out every day if it means I have all these beautiful men surrounding me!”

Instead of going home to rest, Lise insisted we stay to see the show. I would have wanted to go home and go to sleep. She’s resilient.

During her trip in April, she and I went to an Italian restaurant before Michel’s concert. She was in the mood for pizza. The waiter brought delicious looking, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread to the table. We both agreed Michel would love it. At the end of the meal, with less than half her pizza eaten, she asked to have it wrapped up. I asked the waiter to throw in the bread too. Lise was mortified.

“No! No! No! We are not taking the bread!”she said frantically shaking her head and hands.

“They will just throw it out if we don’t take it!” I argued.

She sighed, turned to the waiter, shrugged and said, “She’s Jewish.”

Lise is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She loves talking about her life and I love to listen. I often tell my husband a story about his mother and he is dumbfounded, constantly asking, “How do you know that?” I asked and she told me, I say.

Marie Emilie Lise Champagne was born on May 24, 1930. Lise was the oldest of children born to Jeanette and Yvon Champagne. Her father died when she nine and her mother was left to take care of her, her three-year-old twin brothers, one of which had leukemia, and her one-year-old youngest brother.  In 10th grade, Lise witnessed her mother turning her extremely worn winter coat inside out because she didn’t have enough money to buy a new coat. It was then that Lise decided to drop out of school and started to work to help her mother support the family.

After working at the grocery store for a few years, Lise became a telephone operator at Bell (probably why she doesn’t like anything in her ears now!). It was on her way back from work where she met her future husband. She claims she did not like him at first. “He was short and my type is tall, dark and handsome!” But he won her over and they were married soon after.

Sadly, Lise was only married for 11 years before her husband passed away. Lise talks about her husband, who passed away of Type I diabetes over 40 years ago, like he is still around. Her memories of him are clear and she tells stories of him like she saw him just yesterday. She shows me pictures of their family adventures to Expo ’67 in Montreal and talks about those memories often. This was where my husband’s mind was blown when he tasted raspberry sorbet for the first time. That and the buttered rice from Iran is what salivated his culinary juices and made him into the amazing chef he is today.

Michel tries to call his mother at least 2-3 times a week. It is during these conversations they share their passion: soccer. They can talk about a re-run of a game from 2001 for hours. It is also during these conversations that Lise decides to tell every minute detail of the book she is reading. She reads 3-4 books a week and frequents the library often.

Lise comes to visit us in Brooklyn a few times a year and we try to get up to Montreal as much as we can. On her last visit here, we visited the New York Botanic Gardens, where, after sniffing one of the flowers, she excitedly claimed , “Oooooo! Look at how good this smells!”

Besides the prominent noses on their faces, Michel and his mother have a lot in common. Both like soccer (and getting overly excited, much to my public humiliation), birding (they will spend a long time pouring over the bird book after spotting something new in our backyard), plants (yup, they are the type of people who know the names of most plants, where they are from and how to care for it), cooking (although having them both in the kitchen together can be frightening), eating (their reactions to food sometimes equals that of an orgasm….seriously), art,  and love of children (Lise goes with Michel to the pre-school he teaches at when she visits and the children squeal with delight!). And as my husband points out, they are both extremely versed in giving unsolicited advice. I can attest to that.

 

Maman and her baby boy.

Walking the streets of Montreal or wherever we all are together, this is the image I like to capture: little mother and little son walking arm in arm. C’est bien ca.

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Project 52, Weeks 26, 27, 28: Summer in the City

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about not writing. I made this promise to myself and my faithful readers to go through with Project 52; an incentive to make me write a post every week for a year. But I have accepted the fact I am on vacation and enjoying every minute of it. Therefore, I let my guilt melt away like the chocolate I accidentally left out in these brutally high temperatures. I have combined the last few weeks and will give you the highlights of my summer in the city 2012, so far.

In order to fully enjoy my summers, I have decided NOT to work. I did my fair share of camp counseling and summer school teaching in the past and realize it is just not worth it. I need the summer to refresh mind, body and soul to not become a totally jaded, bitter person (if I am not already).

Yes, I know I am a teacher and we have the summers off. I know most people don’t have this luxury and I fully appreciate what I have. However, I work my no-so-tiny tushie off the other ten months of the year to fully enjoy this time and not feel guilty that most of my friends are working (yes, this is the second time I’ve mentioned self-guilt….can you tell I am Jewish?). I tutor, teach Saturday test prep, coach soccer, work the After school program once a week, am part of the school leadership team, Caring School Community committee, Policy Consultation committee and am one of the teacher liasons for the PTA.  Once an overachiever, always an overachiever (aka nerd)….or I’m just the schmuck who can’t say no. Either way, I’ve earned this time off and have learned to “Just Say No” to working during the summer.

My two-month teaching hiatus began with a trip to Montreal, quickly followed by a trip to Virginia Beach. But in between these trips, our friend Briggan’s girlfriend, Dana without a Y, had a fun idea: to  go to a Brooklyn Cyclones game. We had never been and the tickets were $10, so it was an offer we couldn’t refuse.

Let’s go Cyclones!

Being jazz musicians more interested in scales and scores  than sliding and strikes, it was fun watching the boys watch baseball.

“C’mon guys!” Michel bellows with the excitement of a true fan. “Let’s get another point!”

“Ummmm, it’s not points, dear, it’s runs,” I gently correct him.

“Oh,” he replies, blushing.

The Cyclones’ mascot is Sandy the Seagull who strutted his stuff beside this very rotund man who I guess is the master of ceremonies.

In between each inning, Sandy and Rotund MC were running races with toddlers, playing dizzy bat with crowd members (which is a very dangerous game by the way….I had a friend who broke his foot playing it!), raffles, and dance routines by the cheerleaders. Yes, a baseball team with cheerleaders; lazy, lazy cheerleaders. Besides the two routines they performed in their skimpy outfits doing moves not suitable for most of the viewing audience, they sat down for the remainder of the game. They SAT DOWN. Every so often a song would come on and, while still seated, they would make arm movements to the music.  ” Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” was expertly choreographed with arms up: right, left, right,  left, to the beat of the song. I knew all their moves by the end of the game. Maybe next year I will break my own rule of not working during the summer and become a Cyclones cheerleader.

The crowd at the game was stereotypically Brooklyn; thick accents, dropping F bombs and muscle shirts abound (no offense Brooklynites…I’m from Long Island so I feel free to judge). However, there were some whose physiques did not warrant a muscle shirt. In fact, this seemed to be an epidemic throughout the stadium. As Dana without a Y politely  put it, there were a lot of “round” people there. Maybe Michael Bloomberg has a point with minimizing  soda intake for the rapidly growing citizens of this fine city.

There was one such man sitting near us, by himself, taking, stats and VERY serious about the game. His resemblance to Peter Griffin from Family Guy was uncanny.

To motivate the team and the crowd, they showed a scene from Pirates of the Carribean on the Jumbotron. The scene shows the ever-glamorous Kiera Knightly talking about “hoisting the colors”. This psyched up the crowd, especially Stuey’s dad, who continuously  kept saying this phrase throughout the rest of the game, which sounded a little like this: “HOIST DA COLAS!”

While the Cyclones fought for victory through extra innings, the scheduled post-game fireworks show began due to the  “no fireworks after 10pm rule” I never knew existed. How can you concentrate on blasting a walk-off homer when colorful balls of fire are blasting in the sky above you? Nevertheless, they were pretty spectacular.  Trying to capture fireworks is a frustrating endeavor but I managed to get a few good ones.

Summer has also given me the opportunity to catch up with friends. Our friends became parents for this second time in April and Michel had yet to meet the little tyke. So we went over to the Greller home to see Adler Link Greller and big bro Miles.

Michel meets Adler….it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Give this kid a box and some match box cars and he is a happy boy!

Miles went over to Michel, touched his abundant chest hair and said, “I like your beard!” Love that kid.

After making sure Miles and Michel released enough energy running around and playing soccer in the park, we took a little nature walk.

Miles shows Michel the waterfall.

Tired and hungry, we headed to get some pizza for Miles and be on our way.
Miles found a “map” on the way out and decided he needed it to navigate us out of the park.

After our visit with the Grellers, we went to get a bite to eat at an Indian restaurant where we enjoyed the food as much as reading the misspellings on the menu.

The picture may be hard to see, but the first dish under the “Fresh Vegetable Varieties” is “Plane Mashroom Curry: slices mashrooms cocked in a spice flavoured sauce”. Yummy.

With summer comes a lot of wining and dining out, and this summer is no exception. Taking full advantage of NYC’s Restaurant Week, I met my friend Jamie in Soho for a prix fixe lunch at Lure. After an amazing oyster appetizer, salmon and a deliciously creamy dessert, Jamie had to go back to work. So I did what any non-working female would do on a sunny afternoon in SoHo…I went shopping.

Super summer sales were on my side and I got three new dresses. Happy early birthday to me!

A few days later friends invited us to meet them in Central Park for a free concert by the NY Philharmonic. My husband and I are veterans of the symphony; not like blue-haired ladies kind of veterans but we do frequent the symphony. My husband wasn’t very excited about going to the park to listen to his heroes like Brahams and Beethoven, only to be constantly interrupted by people talking, like my friend Andee and I surely would be.

You see, earlier this year we were at Avery Fischer hall listening to the NY Phil perform Mahler’s 9th symphony. Silence is pretty much mandatory at these concerts and a cell phone started ringing in the middle of the concert. A CELL PHONE WAS RINGING….IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SLOW MOVEMENT! It wasn’t pretty.  You can read all about it in week one: silence is golden.

But going to hear the Philharmonic in Central Park is less of a moving musical experience and more of a picnic hang. At the indoor performances, the seats make me itchy, the room feels stuffy and the need to shut my eyes is rather overwhelming. But the Philharmonic in the park is laying down comfortably on blankets with wine in Solo cups and cheese and crackers while petting your friend’s puppy. It was a lot of fun.

Also a lot of fun was celebrating our friend John’s birthday. After 4 years, I finally got to see their quaint apartment,  beautiful garden and spend some time with one of the cutest couples we know:

Aren’t they adorable?!

Next on the summer agenda is booking our Costa Rica trip. I love summer!

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Project 52, Week 25: Virginia is for Lovers

Virginia may in fact be for lovers, but I decided to leave my lover at home and enjoy the state with some of my other loves: my BFF and her sweet girls.

Here’s Karen and her cuties camping a few weeks before I came to visit. Brynn is the smiley one on the left and Camryn is the little “nugget” (as Karen adoringly calls her)  on the right.

Karen and I try not to go more than three or four months without seeing each other for sanity’s sake. With a tough school year behind me and my mid-thirties quickly approaching, I was beginning to feel the itch to see her. I last saw Karen and the Psimas psisters in April when they trekked up to Brooklyn for Spring Break 2012 (Woo Hoo!). We were planning to head down their way in August for Cam’s 3rd birthday, but that seemed just too far away, so I took matters into my own hands. By the way, how the hell is that child turning 3 already? It seems like just yesterday I held her at 3 days old and she pooped all over me! Pooping on me seems to be a rite of passage for all children I come in contact with.

Two days after returning from our music and meat-filled Montreal trip, I hopped on the 50 minute flight to Norfolk to spend some R&R on the sandy beaches of VB and some QT with the BFF.

Day one was a perfect beach day, despite the 100 degree temps. Karen’s husband, Ryan, is a beach pro. He had the surf boards, umbrella, chairs and beach toys set up before 8am, so everything was ready when we arrived just before 10am. They start charging to park after 10, so we always try to get there before then. Nature should definitely be free.

Daddy Psimas has been surfing since birth, so he heads out early to get in his solo surf time. But when his little bikini-clad beauties hit the beach, they slip on their wetsuits and head out to catch some waves with pops. “DADDY! My turn surfin’, ” Camryn yells into the ocean. It’s quite adorable.

I even got on the board for the first time. I mean I wasn’t like Blue Crush or anything close, but I did paddle a lot on my stomach and float over some sick waves. Baby steps.

Karen’s mom and in-laws (with their American flag planted in the sand beside them) joined us on the beach as well.  Peggy, Ryan’s mother, may be the happiest person I ever met. She was just “tickled” to see me and tells me how beautiful I am every time I see her. She’s quite an ego booster. Plus, it’s always a joy to see Janet, Karen’s mom.

That night brought us to the residence of Meghan and Kevin, Karen’s brother and sister-in-law. After checking out their awesome skylight-filled home (which I am not-so-secretly jealous of) and looking at some of Meghan’s childhood memorabilia, including a penis whistle, presidential pins from all the elections she ever voted in and her baby teeth, we had some dinner.  Kev grilled some asparagus for a tasty salad and Karen created a Pinterest recipe which I will soon be adding to my repertoire.

We used rice noodles and I would suggest not using the vegetable oil at all, but this is certain to become a repeat offender in my house.

Here are some pics from the night:

Me: Brynn, how did you get so pretty?

Brynn: I don’t know….mommy and daddy just made me this way.

Me: Camryn, can I eat your cheeks?

Cam: NO!

Me: Why?

Cam: Because I’m not at home.

Apparently you need to be at home to have your cheeks eaten.

The next day we attempted another beach outing  but the clouds had a different plan for us. So we headed to the library instead, where we saw this wonderful license plate:

Is an EDUG8R an alligator teacher?

That night Karen and I improvised in making some creative cocktails: watermelon mint daquiris. Just add ice, a few cups of watermelon chucks and mint to a blender and mix that baby up. Enjoy. Drink. Repeat.

Pretty, delicious AND healthy.

The following day was rainy once again, which meant finding an activity to entertain the kiddies. They were pretty enthralled by the pouring rain and watching it from the front door.

Yes they are wearing matching dresses; matching dresses they decided to wear together. Well, Brynn probably decided for them, but as long as the dress spins, Camryn will wear it.

While we waited for the rain to die down, Brynn was patient enough to let me braid her hair.

Beautiful Brynn.

Tired of being in the house, we opted for seeing the movie Brave since it was $6 Tuesday at the local cinema. Going to a kid’s movie is quite an experience, especially when one of the kids you are with is too small to fit in the seat.

Cam is being swallowed by the movie theater seats! Hysterical.

Most kids don’t have the stamina to sit quietly for over an hour (plus the 30 minutes of freakin’ previews they make you sit through). The little girl behind me, who couldn’t have been more than 2 felt compelled to mention everything she saw. “Mommy, horsey! You see the horsey mommy? Look! Mommy, moon! You see the moon mommy? Look!”

That night, Karen and I put the kids in Daddy Day Care and went out with Karen’s awesome friend Ali. We went to a bar/restaurant on the water and threw back some adult beverages, had some healthy eats and shared in some great conversation. While I hate living 7 hours away from my bestest bud, I am glad she found a friend like Ali who gets it; and by “gets it” I mean she appreciates our sarcasm, and our love of rhyming, puns and irony. We could have talked all night…and I wouldn’t have minded listening to Ali’s British accent all night either. I look forward to some more ladies’ nights with these two in the near future.

Another great trip to Virginia Beach came to a close. Here’s to amazing friends who are like the sisters you chose to have. Speaking of sisters…throughout my visit I saw these sisters laugh together, cry together, play together, argue and make up. But here is one of the sweetest moments I have ever witnessed and happened to even capture:

Psweet Psimas Psisters…..psee you psoon!

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