Random thoughts

Nothing profound here, but why do Mondays come so quickly? It feels like I was just experiencing the joy and freedom that a Friday evening brings and now it’s already Monday again! Ugh.

In other news, Luffy and I officially joined our local library last weekend. The first book I borrowed didn’t pique my interest, so I returned it and am now very excited about my two new books (The Collector and Immortal In Death, btw) (you can probably tell that I’m a big fan of Nora Roberts). We’re actually very lucky because our little suburb has an excellent library. Newly renovated, and located in the middle of a beautiful little park, it’s a short drive away from our home. Also, I had to laugh because we came away from our first trip to the library with very different books. We both selected non-fiction books. However, mine covered Jack the Ripper’s crimes and Luffy’s (two books) were on personal finance and Warren Buffet.

The weather is definitely turning towards spring here in the DFW area. My allergies nearly killed me last week and I spent the entire week doped up on decongestants. My allergy pill finally caught up with the pollen in the middle of the weekend and I am so very very grateful to be off of the decongestants.

The warming weather also means it’s time to get back to yard work – Luffy’s most hated household chore. He typically tackles the mowing, while I tackle the detail work and any decorative gardening I want to do. Easier said than done. Luffy despises mowing and it doesn’t help that our property has a steep decline towards the back corner of the lot, making the back yard a pain to mow. He’s somewhat lucky in that our grass grows at a slow enough rate that he can get away with mowing every other week, even during the peak season. He usually uses this advantage to mow half the lawn one week and the other half the next. Even so, mowing typically puts him in a foul mood. I’ve always offered to mow the lawn myself (since I’m the one that insists it being done on a regular basis), but he insists that I don’t need to. Lawn work isn’t something I enjoy either, but at least I am the weird sort of person who gets a mental high for tackling and completing house work. So we circle around each week cursing the warm weather and grass and bartering with each other, promising to do it next week.

Of course, I have grand plans for our lawn/garden. I’d like to plant some flowers this year (which I just might do this Friday!). And of course I’d like to get my little veggie pots going again this summer (my serranos and basil did great last year, but I only managed to get one – one – bell pepper the entire summer). I’d also like to rip out all of the grass (tbh, it’s mostly weeds) that grow on the slope in the back and put down some sort of ground cover. It’s hard to picture, but the back corner of our lot sharply drops off so that the ground is a good six feet beneath the level of the house. Not only does this make it challenging to mow, but the only plants that seem to grow there are the weeds. The former owners tried to put in some sort of sandbox thing, but that’s succumbing to the weeds as well. Removing the grass and laying down river rocks or something similar would be so much more helpful and probably better looking too. BUT. That also sounds like a huge undertaking. And I need to do more research to figure out what would (a) look the best, (b) be the easiest to maintain, and (c) be the most cost effective.

So yes, now that I’ve devoted several hundred words to lawn care, these are my thoughts for the day. Blooming flowers and weeds and books.

Our home

God that was a melodramatic update earlier, wasn’t it? While I am disappointed, I force myself to remember that we’ve only been off birth control for six months. Hardly any time at all, in the scheme of things. We’re young; we’re healthy. We just need time.

Moving on to other topics.

Luffy and I purchased our first home in September 2013. Remember that I told you we’re both planners, right? Well combine that planning with Luffy’s innate grasp on finances and you get us shopping for a home before we’re even married. Because interest rates and the right time to buy. To be fair, we got married two weeks later. (Please take a moment and think about that. Have some sympathy for me. We closed on a home and got married within a two week span of time.)

Luffy had in mind some areas of DFW he was interested in. I had one requirement. Ok, two requirements. The house needed to have an excellent kitchen – plenty of counter space, gas range, granite counters, etc. And second, I wanted it to be close to my exercise studio. My two passions represented – food and fitness.

We scoured the metroplex. It is incredible how many houses there are, yet how few actually meet certain requirements. For instance, even being for sale in the first place. The suburb we were particularly interested in was known for being challenging to get into. Excellent school districts and a central location made it viable in just about any home-buyer’s eyes. Homes listed for sale went quickly and often above the ask price.

We had a few laughable moments. In particular, I remember one house that the owner/seller had renovated himself. Shudder. The walls didn’t line up correctly. There was carpet up the half wall of a bar section. Dark brown carpet straight from the 70’s. I seriously doubted the structural integrity of the added second level. All this, and the seller wanted an exorbitant amount of money. There was another house that looked promising until the owner moved out and we toured again without the furniture. And realized that the windows were all well above my head (the house was built in the 60’s and I am short).

Then. We found it. In the right area – the right price – the right size – and most importantly, the right kitchen. Perfection. And then we lost it. Remember how I said the suburb was challenging to get into? There were numerous bidders on the home. We bid well over the asking price and still lost. Woe.

But then, a new listing popped up. Or rather, an old listing reappeared. Apparently, the home had fallen out of contract and was back on the market, it’s owners desperate to sell. We toured the home and loved it. I could see us living there. The home had lots of windows, high ceilings, a large kitchen, an open floor plan. It was beautiful. We made an offer and never looked back.

All of this back story to tell you – guys – I love our home. This home that Luffy and I bought, that we work hard to maintain, I love it. Sometimes, like today, I look around our home and I’m overwhelmed with pride and love and joy. This is the largest purchase that we’ve made, but to look around and know that we provided for all this – it’s incredible.

I love working in the kitchen or tending to the planters. I especially love being able to invite friends to come over – have dinner, stay the night. Our precious little Jasmine positively loves our home (and it’s windows and many hidey-holes). I love our community, the parks and the neighbors who introduce themselves. But above all that, I’m proud. So very proud of Luffy and myself.

Friends of ours are in the process of buying a house. They’ve asked our advice. They’ve asked our mutual friends for hashtags (gotta Instagram that). I caught myself feeling antagonistic towards them at first, when our friends responded with an abundance excitement and some awesome suggestions for hashtags (#ThatKitchenThough was my favorite, because seriously, that kitchen). And then I remembered, at the prodding of my darling husband, that buying a home is a momentous occasion. One that should be celebrated for the incredible achievement that it is. Kudos to our friends and their incredible purchase.

Favorite Memories

I’m back home now; I’ve been in West Texas all week. I flew out there Tuesday morning to care for my mom and keep her company. It was a rough week but we got through it. My mom’s friends were so sweet, bringing by flowers and food. I made up large dishes of food for my dad and brother to eat this weekend. We cleared out my grandma’s things from her room at the care facility.

The worst part was seeing my dear granddad, so proud and silent. My heart hurts for him. I’m glad we could be there for him, but I fear that the hardest part will be the coming weeks. After everyone goes home, my granddad will be left in a quiet home without his wife.

I don’t have much to say this week. I miss her and if it’s all right with you, I’d like to memorialize a few of my favorite memories:

**

My grandma was Italian, full-blooded Italian, with all that entails. Everything needed to be done exactly as she wanted, or so help you. She was stubborn. She was passionate. She loved us with every fiber of her being and cared for us as best she could. She made the best cherry pie you would ever eat (and I don’t even like cherries). My mom once came home late in the evening to find grandma making her pie. When my mom asked, grandma said that my brother had told her that he desperately needed her pie because my mom’s just didn’t cut it.

**

My grandma loved to play cards and was always up for a game. Although she had a standing Sunday game with friends, she always made time to play poker with her grandkids. The only problem was that, with us, she was never suspicious. My brother and cousin used to con their way through hands and win the entire pot with single cards while my grandma would fold with pairs or triples. They used to think they were so cunning, but maybe my grandma just enjoyed playing their little game.

**

As I’ve mentioned, I danced all through grade school and college. My grandma never missed a single recital. Even when she had difficulty getting around and could hardly sit for more than ten minutes, she still made it. She used to love to watch me dance and I loved having her there. Some of her favorite pieces were the liturgical pieces we did every year. She would have tears in her eyes when I’d come out after the performance. She was so proud and she made me feel so beautiful. Her favorite was a routine to Josh Groban’s rendition of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” We played the song at her memorial, but I wish I could have danced for her one last time.

**

When I was young, we had three mini schnauzers. My grandma insisted that she did not like the dogs. We would tease her that she could have one – she could have all three! But no, she didn’t like the pups. However, I’ll give you one guess as to who they followed around the house every time she came over. We think she gave them treats when no one else was home.

**

I truly believe my grandma is in a better place. She was in so much pain; her mind slipping away without her consent. I hope that, wherever she is, she’s watching over us. I hope she gets to see her great-grandchildren. I hope she’s happy and I hope we make her proud.

Stolen memories

My grandmother passed away yesterday evening.

My mom called me at 9:25pm. She got to be with her as she passed, brushing her hair and kissing her forehead. I know that was very important to my mom.

In truth though, my grandma – the one who used to bake the most incredible cherry pie and who used to beat us all at Wheel of Fortune – that grandma has been gone for a very long time. Dementia took her from us and left in her place a woman we didn’t know. Who didn’t know us. Who was obstinate and suspicious. Who hit nurses and accused my grandfather of trying to hurt her.

It is always painful to lose a loved one. It is especially painful to watch her slowly slip away.

My grandmother’s battle with dementia first came to my attention a couple of years ago. My mother had been mentioning my grandmother’s declining health more and more. Finally, I gave her a call at the full time care facility she was living in (my grandmother’s health had deteriorated too far for my fragile grandfather to care for her alone). I starkly remember sitting on my bedroom floor. It was afternoon; bright sunlight streamed into my room. The conversation began normal enough. She asked me about my move to Dallas and about my job. She asked about my relationship (even got Luffy’s name right!). She doesn’t sound so bad, I thought to myself. 

But as our conversation continued, I began to become more concerned. Then she asked me a simple question – when was I going to take up piano again? She said she knew I must be missing it. That question changed my mind completely. You see, I hadn’t taken a piano lesson in well over 15 years. I had danced all through grade school and college. If she referred to any hobby, why wouldn’t it be dance? When I related that to my mom, she said that dementia patients often lose short- to mid-term memories first and that they refer to events that happened long ago as that is their foundation. She was much more likely to remember me as the seven-year-old piano student than the dancing teenager. All those recitals and costumes and performances, all those words of encouragement and support – all those memories – gone. It was in that moment that I began to say good-bye to my grandmother.

I’ve seen her a few times since that conversation. A Christmas or two. My wedding. My brother’s college graduation. Each time becoming more and more challenging. An off-duty nurse she responded to particularly well made each trip with her. Michelle became second family to us as she tried to keep my grandmother in check. My grandmother had always been stubborn (that passionate Italian blood), but now she was downright inflexible.

The last time I saw her was Thanksgiving. She seemed to be doing well, despite her displeasure with being remanded (in her mind) to the care facility. Before lunch, she interrogated me about my marriage; made sure that I was happy and well-cared for. I assured her that I was. It was a short day for her, as she tired easily. Before she left, I gave her a hug and a kiss and told her I loved her. She gave Luffy a kiss and told him that he’d better be good to me. Then we packed her into her car and waved her off, promising to see her soon.

Last week, I heard from my mom. My grandmother was in the hospital again. A UTI had gone unnoticed and was wreaking havoc on my weak grandmother. On top of that, her moments of coherence were becoming shorter and shorter. By Wednesday, they had moved her into the ICU. By Thursday, my mom called me in tears. Grandmother was refusing to eat, refusing to be touched, refusing to be cared for. She didn’t recognize my mother or grandfather. She was rigid to the point of hurting herself. The doctors suggested hospice care, hoping that in a soothing environment, she would make the decision to eat.

She was moved to hospice on Friday. All reports were that she was responding well, calming down. Saturday she suffered a seizure and spent the evening struggling to breathe. When I talked to my mom, she sounded hopeful. In hindsight, I think she was just happy that my grandmother had relaxed enough to allow my mom to give her kisses and comfort her. In the end, she passed away with my mother at her side.

As you might know, I was very excited yesterday. It seems so unfair that, if we were successful, my grandma will never know. She’ll never meet our little Chinese-American babies. After we found out, Luffy told me that “one life ends and another begins.” I took comfort in that thought. My grandma will never meet our little baby in this life, but perhaps she passed him on her way.

In Which I Give TMI…

So, a little background first… Luffy and I are both planners. We’re accountants, so that may be part of it, but we both like to have an idea of where we’re going, be it vacation plans or plans for our house. When we first decided to get married, Luffy’s plan was to be engaged for a year, married for a year, then babies (I thought he was adorable). Thus, on our one year anniversary, the birth control pills went down the toilet and we started actively trying to get pregnant.

You know what they say about best laid plans right? Yeah, that’s basically how it went for us. We’d heard that it could take up to 6-8 weeks for my period to return after birth control and that it typically took healthy couples three months to conceive. I tried not to get my hopes up, but I have to admit to looking up what our due date would be should we conceive the first month (July 6th, btw). And then we waited. And waited. And then waited some more. I was hopeful at first (I’m already pregnant!!!), but those hopes were dashed with multiple negative pregnancy tests.

My cycle finished out at 63 days. But! Now we could try again. I was convinced that my body would bounce back to regular 28 day cycles and ovulation! Like magic! I’d also decided to try using ovulation tests, just in case my cycle was weird again. Long story short, I ran out of tests before I ever received a positive and my period disappeared for another 65 days.

But then! New cycle. Fresh start. I decided to be more diligent with the ovulation tests this time and ordered in bulk. I began testing ridiculously early. Luffy suggested I wait for a more typical window when each negative result seemed to drop my spirits each morning. I told him that I’d rather see every negative test than wait until the end and not catch it. (The elusive ovulation – much like catching the golden Snitch!)

So! All caught up! Tl;dr: Weird cycles after birth control. Numerous ovulation tests wasted.Five months of waiting around.

I’m sure you can see where this is leading up to, but I’m going to tell you all about it anyway. Yesterday was day 38. Another regular day. I was still using the buy-in-bulk tests as I was planning to use my expensive tests during the typical window (another two weeks away). I got up to get ready to teach my exercise class and took the test out of habit. I checked the clock and came back when the test was ready. And stared. It looked positive. POSITIVE. Holy crap.

I called Luffy in for confirmation and immediately decided to test again that afternoon with the expensive tests. After all, the buy-in-bulk tests did have a couple of negative reviews online, perhaps it was a fluke. By that afternoon, I was convinced it was and that there was no way I would be able to duplicate the results. I used two tests, one cheapo and one expensive. They were both positive.

You guys!! I’m ovulating soon!! Finally!!

So sorry for the over-share, I’m just so freaking excited. I feel like it’s our first real chance to conceive. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Hello world!

Hello there! Welcome to the Musings of Belle (that’s me!). I created this blog because I want to place to collect my thoughts and document my quiet life.

A bit of background about myself, to get us properly acquainted… I am a Texas girl, born and raised. I grew up in a small-ish town in West Texas and moved to Dallas after graduating college. I got incredibly lucky and managed to find the love of my life sitting next to me in a conference room. Luffy and I got married and now reside in a tranquil suburb, caring for a deviously smart Siamese cat named Jasmine.

I love good food and even better champagne, dancing through the night, and sharing small moments with wonderful friends.