Monday, October 31, 2011

Confessions (written) from (on) my phone.

Our computer is currently out if commission (again). I am afraid this time we will have lost everything on it for good, though I am keeping my fingers hypothetically crossed. That said, tonight, I am writing my blog on my cell phone. I expect that it will most likely be shorter than average, due to the one finger-letter at a time typing method I am forced to use.

I am happy to report that I went to the gym both days this weekend! Except for family swimming, I haven't really gone in ages. On Saturday, Jillian and I worked out while our sons stayed in the nursery and Jake played racquetball. We had a great laugh when we decided to try some of the weight machines, and after pulling on the levers a few times and staring at them quizzically, we decided they were broken, and moved on. Jake later showed us that we were in fact, just kind of... slow, and they worked fine if you had a clue what you were doing.

On Sunday, Jake taught me to play racquetball before we swam with Spencer. I will admit, my skills are lacking, but I had a blast! I didn't score a single point (which autocorrect had me writing store a dingle point, Haha), but I did have a few side-outs, so that says something I guess. Jake was playing "nice" though, so maybe it doesn't say much.

After the gym on Saturday morning, I read a text from ky mom, saying our long time family friend, Josh, passed away that morning as a result of a car accident. It took my breath away. He was a year younger than me, and one of ky brother's very best friends. The funeral is Wednesday.

Sunday night, Jesse and Samantha made it back to Sioux Falls, and we met them for supper. It was so great to see them again! They moved to Alaska in August. They are here for the next week or so and excited to spend Spencer's birthday with him.

They joined us and some friends for trick-or-treating tonight, where Spencer was dressed as a super cute elephant.

I am having a difficult time wrapping my kind around the fact that tomorrow is Spencer's first birthday. It does not seem like a year since we welcomed him into this world! I mean yes, he is walking and can say "Nicole," but it does not seem like it has been 12 months since I gave birth to him.

It is bittersweet. I am proud, blessed, and excited to know our miracle has been living with us a year already, but its sad to know his tiny, infant days are nearing the end. He is nearly a toddler!

People say time goes fast and to cherish the years you have with your children, because they aren't a baby for long. I always understood that, but feeling the time race by is a completely different story. I mused to jake the other night that I don't think it would seem to have gone so quickly, but he changed in size so fast. Newborn clothes for a month, the next size a few months later... barely holding his head up when we brought him home and now walking... its like his life exists in fast forward!

That said, he is sound asleep in his bed after a very long day, and I have this plaguing urge to go watch him sleep a while, thank God for him again, and pray a prayer for his next year of life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm an emotional lady.

I'm an emotional lady. I think I'm always emotional, to be honest, but sometimes, my emotions are displayed more strongly. I don't say emotional meaning "sad" either. I just... experience emotions very vividly, intensely, however you would prefer to describe it. It's not in a manic-depressive (no offense to any readers) way, either. More that I just embrace whatever emotions I have, usually pretty straight on, and I am not afraid to show them.

That said, I've had an emotional evening.

Yesterday, I decided on my personal memorial for Sprout. I will share more about it at a later date. I have been thinking about it fairly continuously since the idea came to mind. I reworked the idea a time or two since then, but I think I've decided fully.

Thinking about the memorial so often has, of course, caused me to think about Sprout. Sometimes, it seems like a dream, the month and a half of knowing I was pregnant, and then the loss over a month ago already. I find myself, at times, wondering if it really happened or if I'm in some sort of psychologically twisted movie. It's hard to realize I'd be in my second trimester. I could possibly be feeling Sprout move.

Spencer turns 1 in one week, on 11/1/11. How cool a date is that? His golden birthday is nothing but ones.

It's bittersweet, of course. I mean, I am overjoyed that I have had a son for almost a year already! That's so crazy. Another surreal sort of phenomena, I'd say. I have been quite nostalgic the past few days, thinking back to a year ago, when I was pregnant, and called my dad for his birthday (which was two days ago) and his first question was whether I was in labor or not. (Of course, reflecting back to a year ago, being pregnant, does nothing for helping me feel better about not being pregnant still this year when I just was...) I remember sitting at home, having contractions for weeks, not too painful, but wondering when they'd get "bad."

I remember doing a CPR glass at 39 weeks pregnant. That wasn't... fun, by any standard. But, I passed, and did it all on the floor with everyone else in the class. What a rockstar. Haha.

I remember taking Wendell for a walk about this time last year, and he pulled me over a step on the sidewalk I didn't see and I biffed it and told Jake, and he freaked out.

I remember calling Jake from Wal-Mart while I was shopping with Tarah, and I said something like, "I've got sort of a crisis, call me back." He thought, of course, I was having Spencer. Really, I just needed to know which deodorant he'd prefer because the scent he always used for his favorite deodorant was nowhere to be found. Boy, did I get a lecture on using the words "crisis" or "emergency" loosely.

I watch him moving across the room from me at random parts of the day, just in awe of the fact that he is standing. That he's turning from an object he's standing by and taking steps away from it. That he signs for "more" and "milk." That he knows the sign for "bath" and gets super excited. That he says my first name!

He's definitely a dream come true. He is DEFINITELY a miracle.

And then, of course, I go back to knowing that we aren't having a second baby any time "real soon." I haven't even fully finished my first month of birth control plus Metformin. UGH. I feel a small stab in my heart every night when I take those loathed pills. Yes, I know they're supposed to help. It doesn't help me feel better about it sometimes, though it should. It depends on the day, I guess.

I've been struggling with my self-esteem and my hatred toward the PCOS diagnosis I have been given. PCOS is evil. Really. It causes acne, obesity, irregular cycles and infertility, excessive hair growth. Not one of those things is something anyone aspires to having. And, like many with the condition, I have all of those that I just mentioned. And, sadly, sometimes they just continue to get worse with age and time. Not always. I pray mine don't.

And it's even more frustrating because it feels like, especially with the acne and the hair issues, it's going to be a life-long battle. The solutions that they give for those, medically anyway, you can't really DO when you want to have children. You can't take the inhibitor medication for hair growth if you're wanting to have children, not until you're done, I've read, anyway. And with acne, they say birth control can help, but hey, that's not helping with building a family, either. So, I feel like I have to give up on more long-term solutions to those issues and wanting to feel like I look beautiful or even slightly appealing, because I want more children.

So, I deal with temporary fixes and the nuisances those bring.

But, I want children. Jake and I both want children. We have a child, but we hope to bring a sibling for Spencer into our lives, sometime in the next year, if possible.

And, as much as Jake tells me not to worry and stress about it, I am pretty nervous and worried about his upcoming appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to discuss the results of his shoulder and elbow MRI that he had done on Monday following a work-related injury. He doesn't think he'll need surgery. But, if he does, it could be a while before he can work, or work "fully," or whatever.. and, let's face it, the childcare business isn't a money maker.

Well, there you have it. My griping, whining, and emotions for the night. Tomorrow, I'll wake up, and probably feel a bit better about it all. But tonight, I'm kind of in a funk.

In other news, I am really looking forward to the next week or so. On Sunday evening, we're getting to see Jesse (Jake's twin) and Samantha (Jesse's girlfriend, my "sister" and a best friend) for the first time since August! Yeah! They're coming "home" from Alaska for a little over a week. I can't wait! I miss them so very much.

Monday, Spencer's going trick-or-treating. His first Halloween!

Tuesday, it's Spencer's FIRST BIRTHDAY!

Wednesday, we're celebrating Spencer's birthday still/again, and Samantha and I have a date planned.

Thursday... Friday... who knows.

Saturday, I get to see Rena, and Samantha! I think. Right? And Shari and Alyssa. And maybe my family! Who knows! Lots of preparation for Spencer's birthday celebration.

And then that Sunday... Spencer's birthday celebration! Woohoo! There will be quite a few friends and family there. I am very excited to celebrate the joy that Spencer's brought to our lives with them!

There, see, I ended with lots of joy and happiness. Hopefully, that helps offset the stuff at the beginning, especially for those readers who like a "happy ending."


Friday, October 21, 2011

strength and courage

"Perhaps strength doesn't reside in having never been broken, but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places." -unknown

I came across this quotation this evening, in the form of this greeting card someone had pinned on

I had been browsing pinterest for about half an hour, trying to pass time until the laundry is done and I can fold it and go to sleep. Jake is on his overnight route tonight, and it's hard for me to sleep anyway, so I was hoping to get into a zombie-esque state of mind before I went to bed. I was doing a pretty good job of numbing my thoughts, actually, until I saw that image on my screen.

It stopped me dead in my... right-click-new-tab marathon.

I actually find it a bit amazing that I even noticed the quotation. As much as I love language,

writing, reading, poetry, prose... when it comes to inspirational quotations, I don't generally notice them. If they're sung to me in a song lyric, they stick, but if I see a quotation on a brightly colored square in a lovely accented bold font plastered on a Facebook page or other website, my eyes automatically (it seems) skim over it. I don't know, I guess I prefer to read things in paragraph and standard sentence form? That seems so... unlike me and my love for the arts, visuals, poetry, and such. Ah well, that's how it is. I pretty much skim right over anything of that nature.
For example:

Generally speaking, something even as basic, bold, and punchy as this little ditty wouldn't catch my attention.

I wish I knew why. Hopefully, dwelling on that won't keep me up all night.

But anyway, for some reason, the quotation above caught me, in all it's unlikeliness to have done so.

That's pretty... lucky? Or meant to be?

I think that's a pretty fantastic, and quite fitting, quotation/proverb to relate my current season of life to.

It's been over a month now since we lost Sprout. On the 15th of October, I cried my eyes out to my husband, telling him how I'm just not feeling like I am "over it," yet, and asked him to accept me for that, as I accept him for having moved on.

I still don't think I've moved on. But, I do feel stronger somehow. Until that day, I hadn't really cried about it in over a week, so naturally, that little meltdown caught me off-guard. I shed a few tears on my birthday, thinking about it, and how I was pregnant last year on my birthday and "should have been" this year (in my mindset, of course), and up until this evening when I read of another friend losing an unborn child, I was tear-less again.

I hate to say I'm "proud" of that, because it seems a weird place to issue the term "pride," but I do take some peace in knowing that my heart is mending.

Yes, it was broken. It still aches for my lost child. But, it's healing. Slowly, steadily.

I will admit there have been a few days here and there where I just didn't feel I had the courage to face the fact that I had to get up, go on, knowing I'd lost a child. But, I did it.

I would have been in the second trimester now. I soon would have been feeling my baby move for the first time. Those are moments I am missing, longing and aching for, as I type this.

But, I know that someday I will have those moments again.

I haven't much else to say about it, I guess. I already feel that I've babbled enough.

In perfect timing, the dryer just buzzed.

Godspeed, friends.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I was born on October 17, 1983, to my parents, Richard and Anita. If I recall correctly, my mother went into labor the evening before, at the Lamberton movie theater. It was the last time she and my dad went to that movie theater. She told me once what movie they were seeing, but unfortunately, that information was saved in my old cell phone, and I just can't remember what it was.

I was born at about 10:41 in the morning, I think, and I weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces. I had dark brown hair, and lots of it (kind of like Spencer did). I was the first grandchild on my mother's side.

Today was my 28th birthday. Truth be told, I've always thought birthdays kind of a big deal. I mean, it's a day to remember your birth, the day you entered the world, and reflect on all that you've done or become.

I love my birthday. It's one of my favorite days of the year. I think I appreciate my parents more on my birthday than I do on Mother's Day or Father's Day, even.

It could be 'childish' to some, I guess, to think that a birthday is a big deal as an adult, but I don't care. I don't think my birthday is the only one that's a big deal. I think that for any of my family and friends. I mean, we celebrate our LIFE that day, specifically, although we can/should/do every other day too. But the birthday, well, it's more special, I think.
I woke up this morning not feeling well. I was tired, groggy, sick to my stomach, and had a headache. It was dark and dreary, and I wasn't really looking forward to leaving the house, knowing I might not even see my husband the remainder of the day, unless he somehow got done early and was home before I fell asleep. I tried not to be bummed out as I drove to work.

Luckily, I have a great friend that I work with daily who, right away in the morning when we got an ice cream birthday cake for later, made my birthday feel special. Even the children at work were excited to wish me a happy birthday and celebrate! That was fun. In the afternoon, Jillian put 28 crazy candles on the ice cream cake, they sang to me, I blew them out with one breath (yeah me! I haven't blown out birthday candles in years) and we shared the cake. That was fun, really.

After work, Jillian and I left to meet Robert at Buffalo Wild Wings (with Spencer and Grayson, of course) to further celebrate my birthday. I was thinking on the way there which wings I should order as take-out to bring home for Jake since he wouldn't be there to join us, and I thought it'd be a nice treat for him when he got home from work that night.

We were standing in the foyer area, waiting for our table, and all of a sudden, someone's face was right beside my own, behind me, sort of, and it freaked me out a bit. I turned around to see...



He surprised me!

I was super excited. I mean, I still am! He was home for my birthday supper! He surprised me! And, I didn't have to order him wings for later, because he was going to eat them with us for supper! YEAH!

Seriously, I'm still smiling about it.

And he was dressed all nice, too. In his dark blue jeans and black button-up shirt. I was wearing his hoodie and my baggy jeans. Haha. Like it matters, though, right?

So, Jake, Jillian, and Robert managed to make my birthday special, not only by treating me to supper and giving me some company so I didn't spend my birthday the way I told Jillian I was probably going to spend it when she asked that morning, fighting Spencer to sleep and watching a movie alone on the couch.

Robert, Jillian, and Grayson then came over to our place, where Jake had picked out a variety of my favorite desserts (cheesecake (which was actually from his step-mother, yum!), red velvet cupcakes, champagne cupcake, and tiramisu), and we enjoyed each other's company a while longer. Then, Jake gave me two birthday cards, one super-sweet one, and one that's funny and plays "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. Spencer loves that one. He dances to it when we open it for the music.

Currently, Jake is serenading Spencer as he takes his nightly bath, and then I'm going to cuddle with him on the couch and watch a movie... together! It's so simple, but it feels perfect.

I also must thank my... 30+ family and friends who left wonderful messages for me on my Facebook timeline, sent me sweet/funny/thoughtful text messages, left me voicemails, or I was able to talk to on the phone. I know that those are simple gestures, but I really appreciate them and enjoy reading them. (Does that make me an attention-seeker? Hmm. I don't think so, but I hope it doesn't come off that way to others.) It's a blessing to know so many are thinking of me and wishing me wonderful things.

It's funny to me that 10 years ago, I was so excited about becoming a "legal adult" and turning 18. I truthfully like turning 28 better. At 28, I'm married to my best friend, and together, we have the son we'd always dreamed of.

I can't wait to see what comes next.

Here's to my birth, my present, and my future.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Perfect Heart.

Last night was a bit of a scary night for me.

I went to bed around 11, after getting Spencer back to sleep.

Then, I woke up around 12:20 to the strangest, most intense pressure in my chest. It felt like my ribcage might actually shatter if I moved. It wasn't a stabbing pain or shooting pain or anything like that. It hurt, but it was mostly pressure. I tried best I could to wiggle around and change positions, but nothing was helping.

So, I text my husband a handful of times and tried calling, but assuming he was asleep, I got up and started to "research" it online.

Never a good idea, really.

Most things I found were pointing toward a possible heart-attack. I didn't feel like (not that I'd really know, I guess) I was having a heart-attack, but I was definitely concerned because the pressure was relentless. I toyed with the idea of calling the 24 hour nurse hotline for Sanford... and after telling myself it'd be best to have an idea whether or not it was life threatening, especially since I was home alone with my baby, I gave the number a call.

I spoke with the nurse, who was very kind and helpful, for about 20 minutes. Based on my description of the symptoms, and my lack of erratic heart rate, sweats, breathing difficulty, she told me it didn't sound like a heart attack. I was very relieved to hear that from a medical professional. She gave me a few options of what it could have been: heart-burn (weird, right?), a delayed reaction to my D&C, a reaction to the birth control + Metformin regimen I am on currently, or some underlying heart condition that could point toward an oncoming heart attack. She strongly urged I see a doctor within the next 72 hours, the sooner the better, just in case.

I tried to sleep after that, but it was very difficult. I kept thinking, even though I didn't feel like I was at risk of dying last night, that if something did happen, Spencer would be alone, hungry, soiled, upset, and cold. Or if I did need to call 911 due to increased severity, who would take care of him? If I had to drive to work the next morning, what if something happened to me and we got in an accident and he died?

The pressure lasted over an hour and a half.

Yeah. Late nights, as I've mentioned, aren't always my thing.

Jake ended up calling, and I cried my fears to him and talked to him a while, and eventually, around 3, fell asleep until SJ woke me at about 3:45. Then, I had a hard time sleeping again. I am not sure I got more than 3 hours "quality" sleep last night.

This morning, I made an appointment, and this afternoon, visited my doctor. After a review of my night's symptoms, blood draw (which took 3 stabs, because the technician forgot he had to fill two vials, so he switched arms, and couldn't get any blood from that arm, despite probing and moving the needle, so he went back to the first arm), an EKG, and 2 X-rays, it was decided that my heart was in perfect (or near perfect, as close as it can be, I guess, so she explained) condition. My doctor was very impressed, and I was quite relieved.

So, we discussed possibilities. I suggested my thoughts on an anxiety issue, but she said she wasn't certain that was the case, because of my lack of breathing, heart-rate, sweating, and anxious feeling while it was happening. She decided that it would be treated as stress-induced silent (acid) reflux for now. I am told I should take Zantac before bed for the week, but if it bothers me, or gets worse, to come in again next week to revisit other possibilities.

I explained to her the various stressors in my life lately. The miscarriage and emotions dealing with that. The lack of sleep I feel I'm getting. My husband's ever-grueling work schedule and his absence at home. My uncle's passing. Spencer's teething and mommy-neediness. My feelings of lack of safety in Sioux Falls at night lately. Etc. She asked if I felt depressed. I answered "no." I don't feel like I am depressed, clinically, as one would say. I have been emotional lately, but she agreed that is necessary with all that's going on. My sleeping habits haven't really changed much (I haven't been getting much sleep for a year now... haha), my enjoyment in hobbies hasn't. My appetite hasn't. My sense of faith hasn't. Stuff like that.

But, I do agree that I'm stressed out. Probably unhealthily so, lately. I feel like it's hard not to be when I feel like there's so much on my plate.

Either way, reflux or anxiety, I'm stressed.

I understand her concern about putting me on anti-anxiety medication without ruling out other possibilities, especially since in two months or so I hope to be trying for another baby. It makes sense to me. And I don't want to be on them if I don't have to be. So, I appreciate her concern and desire to rule out other options.

But, I will admit, I am not completely sold on the silent reflux diagnosis.

I guess we'll see.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Today, I traveled about two hours to Minnesota, to attend the funeral of my cousins' father, Roger. He passed away early Monday morning, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 52 years, 9 months, and 2 days "young" when he passed.

Roger was married to my aunt Kat for quite a few years. After they split, I will admit, I did not feel close to him. In fact, we were very distant for most of my life.

But, that does not mean that somewhere, deep inside, there wasn't a place for him in my heart. In fact, there's a place in my heart for anyone I have ever loved. That doesn't mean that my childhood wasn't filled with memories that included him. One of my favorite family vacations, actually, was taken in his bus (which was turned into a camper) with my four cousins, Roger, my parents, my three (at the time) siblings and I, to the Black Hills.

I remember vividly such things as climbing sand dunes, and playing cards in the bus as we trekked along. I remember feeling like we weren't going to make it up the big hill to Mount Rushmore. We took lots of photos that vacation on my old 110 Kodak camera. Actually, my dad took most of them, and the majority of them starred his pointer finger! Haha.

Today was very emotional, despite the lack of closeness I felt for Roger at the time of his passing. I think it was so emotional, just because I knew without his existence, my cousins wouldn't exist. I wouldn't have one of my very best friends in my life, if it weren't for him and his relationship with my aunt at one time.

The funeral was wonderful, though too long for Spencer so I spent most of it watching from the foyer of the church.

The burial was the most emotional part for me. I think, simply, because I stood there, across from my four cousins, their significant others, and their children, and watched them cry. It was incredibly difficult to fight back tears (and I lost) as I watched my cousins Christopher and Bradley, especially, cry. Watching men cry always gets me crying too, in chain reaction form. Watching Kat & Roger's grandchildren as they tried to understand what was going on, or as they did understand, depending on the age, broke my heart, as I imagined me and my cousins (including the four of Kat and Roger's children) as little children at the time my cousin Carissa (who was two when she went missing and was found in the river at my aunt and uncle's farm) was being buried.

Watching my father pat Roger's casket as he said his goodbye to his long-time friend also broke my heart further.

Saying "goodbye" to him myself... was almost surreal.

And realizing for a moment at my arrival at church, but really grasping the thought as I drove back home this evening that my father is only a few months older than Roger. I am a few months older than Christopher, and I was suddenly putting myself in his shoes.

I cannot imagine losing my father at this point in my life. I have friends who have lost parents, and I have lost other family members, but there was something about experiencing the funeral today that really drove home the fact that my father (and mother, and family and friends) are mortal, and we are all here for a very short time in the grand scheme of things.

Needless to say, the thought of losing my father like my cousins lost theirs overwhelmed me to the point of sobs as I drove down a lonely Minnesota highway.

My prayers are still being sent to my cousins, and the rest of Roger's family and friends as they learn to cope with the new normal where they know they'll never be in his physical presence on this earth again.

Monday, October 3, 2011

standing three feet in front of square one

This morning, I had my dreaded post D&C appointment. I had been avoiding thinking about it as much as possible, because, frankly, it bummed me out, knowing the reason for my return to the reproductive endocrinologist. If all had gone well, I would have been done seeing him and already seeing my regular doctor for typical OB appointments.

Obviously, that is not the case.

So, I woke early to get ready for my 7:45 appointment, contained my emotions as best I could, and left on my five block journey to the RE's office, not knowing what to expect.

The appointment went well, I suppose, all things considered. Had a consultation to make sure I healed well physically and had seven large vials of blood taken from me for a slew of tests. Truthfully, though, I left feeling discouraged and frustrated.

As I told a few friends (and similarly posted on Facebook), we are back to the beginning- square one, if you will, but instead of actually starting there, we are starting behind square one, looking at it from the outside, waiting to begin where we were.

Let me explain. We had been (for both Spencer and Sprout) taking oral ovulation inducing medications. Specifically, I was taking Letrizole and using an hCG trigger shot to cause my follicles to mature and then release an egg.

Now, instead, I get to take birth control for two cycles. Medically, I understand, as it should regulate my system and prepare it to try again. Emotionally... not so much. I cried at home and on the way to work.

I just feel as if someone took a dagger to my heart. Didn't slay me, but sliced me quite enough.

I went from being pregnant to losing a baby instead of birthing one, and now instead of trying, it feels like we are preventing. I couldn't really get pregnant "on accident" before, and now... yeah.

It hurts. Even knowing the medical logic behind it doesn't make it easy for my heart to handle.

I pray the next two cycles pass quickly so we can be back "to square one."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oh, how the years go by.

This weekend, Jake, Spencer, Wendell, and I packed up and headed to Minnesota, to spend the weekend at Jake's mom's house.

This is an activity that (well, with the exception of with Spencer, and sort of Wendell) is quite familiar to me.

Last night, Jake and I were sitting on his mother's couch, with Spencer playing on the floor (Wendell was outside with Jeb, Mindy's dog), and I had a flashback of this photo:

That photo was taken in 2002. Where we were sitting last night, we were facing that couch.

It dawned on me that I have been visiting Mindy's house for TEN YEARS. That's a decade.

Jake and I met in the summer of 2001. He came to my house the very first time on August 31, 2001. I don't know why I remember that date, but I do.

As we sat there, me staring at this photo (in my mind, of course) of us on the couch across from us, I was hit with so many flashbacks of time spent in that living room. And then, I said to Jake something about me coming to visit and spend the night there for TEN YEARS.

I followed with something like, "and now, we're bringing her GRANDSON with. I never saw that coming!"

It's amazing how time flies. Really. I mean, I sit here now and muse about what the next ten years will hold, and it sounds like a really, really long time, but it's not, at all.

I believe Jake's youngest brother, Josh, was about 12 when I met him the first time. He was at home this weekend too, and when he would walk up the stairs from the basement, I'd have a flashback of him being so young. He was about the same age as my littlest sister is NOW. She was TWO when Jake met her. TWO. That's only a year older than Spencer is! Wow!

The past 10 years really flew by faster than I ever imagined that they would. (Of course, this past year was the quickest flying of them all, if I do say so myself.)

Today, we went on a lunch date, and visited "China" (that's what the name of the restaurant in Windom is, "China," which I think is really... absurd...), and then just drove around town together, passing by old friends' houses. We covered almost the entire town, actually, reminiscing about old times, things we'd done together with our joint friends, and things we'd done separately that stood out to us as strong memories. It sounds kind of "lame" I suppose, but it was really fun, I think. I was silently overwhelmed with the realization of how much time I spent in that town, and at his mother's house, over the last decade, and how many wonderful memories I have with so many friends from the area.

I also decided that I can't wait until Spencer is a few years older, and we can take him back there, and take him on that drive, pointing out important places from the early years of his father and my relationship, as well as our memories with some of his blood and honorary aunts and uncles. I can't wait for him to play at the parks I hung out at, or eat at the McDonald's where his father gave me my first hug (from him, of course) early one summer morning at McPrayer.

I then realized I'd been friends with his best friend for 11 years already. And I met some of my other close friends 15 years ago (they went to my school, but one of them is now married and lives in Windom), which seemed even more insane.

In the evening, one of the friends that I have had since I was a toddler came over to Mindy's and brought her husband and her infant daughter. The six of us sat in the grass talking and watching our babies play, and she said, "this is much different than what we're used to doing when we hang out, isn't it? But it's awesome!" Or something similar. It gave me goosebumps. It was a wonderful moment.

I don't feel that much older than when I started making all of these wonderful friendships and memories with people from Windom, though obviously, I am. That's the crazy part. I guess, some days I feel older, but for the most part, I still feel so... young. But I'm actually closer to 30 than to 20, and I finally have a child that we'd been trying for, for so long.

As I write this, I have "Here's to the Night," by Eve 6 in my head. I had the lyrics to that written on a favorite pair of jeans from the summer prior to my senior year, as well as "icons" I drew of things that reminded me of my friends from that summer. I wore the jeans, actually, for one of my senior photos. Almost all of the memories from that song, that summer, and those jeans, are tied up in Windom, and my mother-in-law's house.

To me, that's pretty stinkin' awesome.

This photo has some of my dearest friends from 2001-2002.