Is Our House Haunted?

If you didn’t think I was crazy after my last post, here I am giving you another chance. You’re welcome in advance, friends! Have you seen the Netflix documentary series, “Surviving Death?” If not… I encourage a viewing. It’s a scientific look at near death experiences, mediums, reincarnation, etc. I turned it on thinking Ginge would think it’s ridiculous and be over it within an episode, but he was very dialed-in, and it was really interesting. I bring this up, because after beginning this series, my wheels started turning. Is our house haunted?

Hahahahha… ok let me back up here. We’ve had an issue we’ve been dealing with for the past year or so. Our two and a half year old has been having night terrors. And not just like every once in a while. Multiple times a week sometimes. It’s not like crying, then going back to bed. It’s like crazy screaming, no talking, eyes open, but not really reacting or responding to anything. We have tried everything (yes, including Melatonin hahaha). Sometimes, petting Ollie would pull him out of it and calm him down, sometimes not. We’ve tried keeping him in the dark, taking him in the light, offering food, water, turning on the TV. Sometimes he will scream with no words for 20-30 minutes. He will eventually come out of it and start talking and acting completely normally. From everything I’ve read, he isn’t truly awake during this time, and probably won’t remember it in the morning… But it’s heart-wrenching every time. I know night terrors are fairly common for toddlers, but the frequency and intensity are disturbing. I’ve spoken to his doctors about it, and they don’t have much to say, and I even took him for an unrelated EEG due to some weird staring/zoning out episodes that I was concerned might be seizures, and everything came back normal.

Recently, even after he’s “woken,” from these night terrors, he will start screaming again as soon as we step foot with him back in his room, refusing to go in, but will go right back to sleep if we put him in the guest bed (before that was Grey’s room), or now, in our bed. Also, more recently he’s actually just straight up refused to go to sleep in his room to begin with. We’ve tried it all. Switching to toddler bed, switching from toddler bed to queen sized bed (maybe that thing is uncomfortable), giving him blankets and pillows from our bed where he seems to sleep just fine, trying to lay in his bed with him til he falls asleep, etc etc… He refuses. Screaming, banging on the door to get out, craziness. We eventually started letting him sleeping in our room (by himself til I go to bed), and as much as I kick myself for allowing this, we were at our wits-end, and to note: he has not had one night terror since.

I read a post recently about a mom who was complaining because her toddler kept coming into her bed in the middle of the night and her husband wouldn’t allow it. How does she make this stop? I read through all of the comments even though this isn’t exactly our situation, and an overwhelming number of responses expressed an opinion something like, “if your child doesn’t feel safe or comfortable in their room…” and this got me thinking. Could he not feel safe in his own room? I’ve seen things floating past the monitor at night since he was a baby. I’ve excused them as large dust particles, but always thought they look like those kinds of orbs you see in some photos when people say, “Oh look! A ghost!” I’ve never admitted that this thought crossed my mind to anyone, not even Ginge, cuz you know, this is just crazy talk. And now I’m probably creating a stretch… but here I am in my own head, combining the night terrors, this orb, and the fact that he’s just NOT sleeping in his room… yet, I still didn’t say anything.

Then… we started watching “Surviving Death.” They discussed children having night terrors and being able to sense something in their rooms. I finally admitted to Ginge that I’ve had this thought before. I decided to look into the history of our house, and see if someone had possibly died in here. Maybe their spirit was still hanging around in Trace’s room.

First, I googled. “Did someone die in my house?” Oh, perfect, a website specifically for this purpose. Just $11.99 for the report. Hahahhahahahhahahahaa. I’ve definitely spent $11.99 on dumber things before, but I’m sure I could figure this out another way. Googled my address… no news. Continued my search, and there was the piece of advice: ask your real estate agent. Thankfully we are still besties… so…. I did (thanks, and sorry, Robert).

Well we’ve already been here three years, so that was a dead end. Next Step: enlist the girlfriends. I got on my Penn State group chat, and all I had to say was, “I wonder if someone died here,” and the full-press investigation was launched. Within 10 minutes, Emitch and Emma had narrowed it down to two specific people, then one. It was really one of the finer internet-stalking experiences I have witnessed. It was Yvonne. She died while living here in 2012. Emma found a photo and an obituary which read: “she died in her home,” and she looked and sounded super sweet, so I was relieved it was her. I said hello to her and everything. I even sent a pic to Real Estate Robert to let him know we figured it out. Flash forward. More digging. False alarm. That was not the right Yvonne in the photo and obituary… just one with the same name who died in the same year. Crap… do we have a mean Yvonne? Who was our Yvonne and where did she die? Was it in the house?

Ginge, yet still not convinced of my spirit theory said, “you know the easiest way to figure out this info, right?”

“No, how?”

“His name’s Doug and he lives about 50 feet from us.”

Ohhhh… Doug. Our next door neighbor. He’s lived here since the houses in this community were built, so he obviously would have known of Yvonne. And he loves to talk. Duh, Doug would have so much insight. Def better than the google machine. I told Ginge we needed to talk to him next time he was outside. His response: “Correction… YOU need to talk to him.” ūüôĄ

Fine, I wasn’t getting any help here. Doug was my last resort for info. Ginge warned me that he doesn’t take Doug for the type that would believe in ghosts or spirits and that he will probably think I’m nuts, but I didn’t really care. I needed to ask.

All of my texting/internet investigating was going on while I was sitting in the parking lot of Living Spaces waiting for Trace to finish his car nap in the backseat (yes, we’ve resorted to car naps on weekends). After he awoke, and after our unsuccessful bookshelf shopping experience, we came home, and LO AND BEHOLD, there was Doug, working outside near his garage, hobbling around with his cane and knee brace.

I ran in the house with Trace in my arms, ready to dump him on the couch, excitedly announcing “DOUG IS OUTSIDE! I GOTTA GO TALK TO HIM!” Ginge was mid poop-emergency with Grey, and I had no time to waste, not wanting to miss Doug, or get Trace involved in the poop fiasco, so I decided to just take him over there with me. I turned my phone’s voice memo recorder on and scurried over. As I approached, I noticed another man, with a bike, standing next to Doug chatting with him. I introduced myself, and it turns out he’s a neighbor down the street who has lived here for 27 years. I said “oh good, I’m here for some neighborhood gossip.”

I begin by asking Doug if he knew Yvonne. As I mentioned, Doug loves to talk, so I got Yvonne’s full back-story, when she bought the house, who inherited the house when she passed away, etc. I asked if he knew where she passed away. He told me it was at Tri City Medical and described her embolism and how sad it was, but he obviously wasn’t catching on that I had an objective for this conversation, so he continued on, describing every person who has lived in our house before Yvonne, as well as after. I recorded this entire conversation, but to spare you the unimportant details, I trimmed to get to the meat of it. I could have just summarized it, but I chose to include the recording, so you could hear the tones in their voices and their exact words. I do want to point out, that at no point before this clip starts, did I mention anything about ghosts or anything to that affect. It was literally just Doug describing of all past homeowners over the years. At the beginning of this clip, Doug is finishing his description of the original owners of our house whom they referred to as “Tuna,” and the other man, Don randomly jumps in and says, “You don’t think your house is haunted or something, do you?”

Convo with Doug & Don

In case you couldn’t listen to this, or couldn’t make out certain parts, I’ll also summarize the convo:

  • Our neighborhood was built on an old Indian burial ground that was discovered when they dug up earth for the golf course
  • This was kept a secret from the city, because they didn’t want to halt golf course construction
  • Doug asked if I’ve seen “the Indian,” and when I say no, I haven’t seen anything, he says “the kids will see it…motioning at Trace,” and that his son used to see an “Indian” walking around the house at night when he was young.
  • The reason I said “I’m getting the chills” at the beginning is because Doug had a bewildered look on his face, and whispered that his son started seeing things “around that age,” while pointing to Trace who was in my arms.
  • While asking if Trace ever saw anyone in our house, Doug says, “At night, maybe? Walking down the hallway?” Don chimed in, “a cowboy?”… I started getting creeped out and wished I hadn’t actually brought Trace along. I guess I wasn’t expecting the convo to go in this direction.
  • They fully believe kids see/sense things we don’t see.
  • They were emphatic that it is NOT their friend Yvonne’s spirit in my house (sorry for assuming, Yvonne).
  • They do not think I’m crazy and they completely believe there are “Indian” spirits as they call them, (Native Americans, c’mon guys), just “cruising through.”

I came home and relayed all of the info to Ginge. I think he was flabbergasted and did not expect me to return with any sort of story like that one. He just said, “Do you feel justified now?”

Yes. Yes I do.

The next day my sister met me at a crystal shop, we bought a bunch of appropriate ones with the guidance of the staff, and I saged the shit outta my house.

I have many more thoughts on the “Surviving Death” series, but I’ll save my reincarnation theories for another day. I welcome any thoughts/experiences/medium recommendations. I’m neck deep now. Gimme all the crystals.

Til then…

xoxo

Am I Crazy?

I’ll be the first to admit I’m sometimes (often/most of the time) a crazy, paranoid, overprotective parent, which is something I vowed I’d never be. Like, I actually annoy myself. I’m self aware though. I know this about myself and try to temper it. In any case, child trafficking is currently out of control in Southern California. Cases have surged even more this year, since the pandemic and the borders closing. It’s something I’m very aware of, as for an example of how close to home this is, there was an abduction attempt of a two year old from his carseat as the parents were backing out of a parking spot in OUR Costco parking lot in broad day light two days after I was in the exact same parking lot. I don’t let this fear run my life, obviously, but it’s something I’m cautious of. I’ve read articles, listened to podcasts, watched documentaries, and I know the tricks they pull when these people abduct children, so my head is on a swivel when I’m out with the kids. It’s too close to home.

In any case, last night I was going out to pick up pizza from a local pizza place, and my 2 and a half year old wanted to come. It was dark and rainy, and I pulled into the small, fairly unlit shopping center, and the only area available to park was in between two restaurants, without lighting. There was another spot open on the passengers side (the side Trace’s carseat is on), and then there was a car in the spot next to that, with a man sitting in the driver’s seat. He was a clean cut, good-looking man, probably in his late 40’s. I initially figured he was waiting for someone, or just getting ready to pull out of the spot. I sat there for a minute after I parked and waited for him to either get out or leave. I don’t know why, but I had a slight moment of wondering if I should move my car after I opened my door to finally get out. I didn’t give the feeling too much acknowledgement, and continued to walk around to get Trace.

The man’s window was down, and as soon as I walked around the car, he called out to me. “Hi! What kind of SUV is that? It’s so nice!”

I’m like uhhh… really? “It’s an Escape.” It’s not that nice. It’s very average. The man continues talking, being flabbergasted it’s an Escape. He was asking questions about the year, and model, etc when I was like “I’m not completely sure, I just got it. It’s a company car.” I’m quickly trying to put Trace’s mask and shoes on to get outta there because we are in a dark area where no one else could see us, and I just had a strange feeling of being uncomfortable. He continues asking me about my job, saying he used to be in sales, and then looks at Trace and says, “And you have a little one. You do that job with a little one? Wow.”

Dude… what? Since when can’t you do a sales job with a child? Once he addresses Trace I’m like ok, please stop talking. I wasn’t planning on bringing my phone in, but I picked Trace up, and went around the other side to grab it, said goodbye to the man and walked into the pizza place. Once I got in there I called Ginge. After explaining the situation, he’s like ummm ok. I’m sure he’s thinking “you’re calling me because a man is asking you what kind of car you have?” I’m like… “Well you know where we are. I just need to let you know I feel weird.” He’s says “Ok, well call me when you’re walking back to your car.” (probably rolling his eyes).

When I’m standing at the door to the pizza place, I’m looking around, because I know how this stuff works. People work together. There was a man standing by the counter looking straight at us, and talking on his cell phone. I peek out the door and the man in the car is also talking on a cell phone. I waste time in there. I wanted the man in the car to leave. I didn’t want to let Trace out of my arms, but I put him down and made him hold my hand while I grabbed the pizza and paid. Then I stood next to a table by the door for a minute, and FaceTimed Ginge. I really couldn’t properly hold the 35 lb monster toddler plus the XL pizza and bag with meatballs at the same time. I had Trace hold my phone to FaceTime with one hand, and held his other hand to walk back out. The man was still in his car. As I got closer to my car, he got out. He walked toward the sidewalk where I would need to walk to get to the other side of the car and stopped, facing us, and waiting. I literally just stopped walking. I bent down, picked Trace up with one arm, balancing the food on the other hand (a skill I never quite mastered in my waitressing days), and started walking straight into the street. He starts walking our way and says, “Hey, I’m about to go in this bar to watch the game, can I help you?”

The man had been in his car for at least 15 minutes at this point, and it seemed he was waiting for us to come back out. I said “no thank you, we’re good,” and stood in the middle of the street holding Trace until he was clearly inside the bar. Now Ginge, still on FaceTime was weirded out. He saw and heard what was going on. I quickly got Trace in his seat, got in my side and locked the door.

“You don’t think someone could hide in the trunk do you?”

Ginge, the super chill one, says, “Uh, you wouldn’t think… but I don’t know…”

Dammit. I got out and checked the trunk. Clear.

I drove home on edge. I felt weird. I had this weird intuition before the man even said a word. It wasn’t his looks, or the car he drove, or any other indicators. He seemed to be a completely nice, normal man. He most likely was. I just felt off. Is it the murder podcasts I listen to? Is it the pandemic making me weirdly awkward and paranoid? Is it the stories from co-workers in SoCal who have inside knowledge of local child trafficking rings? The fact that Ginge was also concerned and weirded out made me feel slightly justified.

I re-played the situation over and over. What if he just expected me to come out of the pizza place with Trace walking next to me, and pass him by in the dark spot in between our cars? He could have grabbed him and thrown him in his car so fast. No one would have seen. With Trace in my arms, it would have complicated things. With me standing in the middle of the parking lot, with Trace in my arms, it would have complicated things. I could also just be being a lunatic over absolutely nothing.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I wanted to text my friends and tell them, and see what they thought, but I feel like I couldn’t properly explain the situation over text. I just felt weird and off all night. I guess it was more the feeling of the whole thing than the actual situation. I don’t even know. Maybe I listen to too many murder podcasts.

I’m interested in feedback here.

xoxo

Murder Ranch

It was the family vacation that dreams are made of… which will now haunt my nightmares. I struggled with whether I should share this story pubicly, because of you know…murder, but I decided to go for it, with no identifying info…because, as I may have mentioned… murder.

I decided we should do a COVID-friendly weekend getaway before our lives get crazier, the weather gets colder, etc… so I began my AirBnB search. I was looking for a place in the mountains, so we could do some outdoor exploration, apple picking, all the fun fall things. I came across this ranch about 2 hours away with a rustic two-bedroom cabin, a pond with paddleboats, an apple orchard on the property, and what sealed the deal… mini donkeys and a mini horse that we could play with whenever we wanted. The AirBnB listing was by a woman named Diana.

We tempered our expectations, as our last AirBnB experience was a slight disappointment. We counted on a tiny dirty old cabin, with poor sleeping conditions for the kids, but thought, hey… if the cabin sucks, there are always the donkeys! We hyped our 2 year old up for the trip by referring to it as our “donkey farm vacation,” and after a couple of weeks of that I got a streak of paranoia… “OMG… what if the donkeys and horse are dead or something by the time we get there??” Then we are stuck in a tiny dark cabin with no farm animals.

“Why would the animals be dead??” my sister asked when I expressed this concern.

“I don’t know… maybe not dead, but just not there?!”

Again, tempering expectations. Anyway, Thursday arrived, we spent most of the day playing Packing-Tetris, stocking the car with every sort of baby/toddler/dog item that could be needed in the wilderness (including Mac ‘n Cheese, which not packing was my major mom-fail at our last AirBnB experience), plus obviously enough booze for 3 nights at the ranch. “DID YOU REMEMBER THE WINE???”

By 1pm… we were all packed into the car…2 kids, an 85 lb Goldendoodle, and a trunk packed so high we couldn’t see out the back window. We were on the road. Only one infant projectile vomit and wardrobe change later, we arrived at the large iron gate of the ranch. It was picture perfect…even more beautiful than the photos.

We drove down the gravel path, past the picturesque pond, with the promised paddleboats tied to a small dock, and pulled up at the “Rustic Cabin.” We were greated by a friendly ranch hand, Ricardo, and told that he was there for whatever we may need during our stay.

We entered the cabin, and to our surprise, it was much bigger and nicer than how it appeared on the listing. When does that ever happen? We had a large deck in the back, equipped with a picnic table and a grill, overlooking the gorgeous mountains. There was another balcony off one of the bedrooms with rustic wooden chairs and another beautiful view.

We unpacked the car, and I read the guest handbook, to make sure we were familiar with all the ranch rules before we headed out to explore. There were like… no rules. Play with the animals whenever… go on the paddleboats whenever… swim in the pool at the main house whenever… pick apples at the apple orchard whenever…just watch out for rattlesnakes. Have fun. The end. Ok… awesome.

As we headed out of the cabin to check out the property, we met an older gentleman in full rancher attire. He introduced himself as the ranch owner… let’s call him “Hap,” so he doesn’t find this in a google search and come for us. He welcomed us, and told us he was available for anything, and would be happy to give us a full tour. I asked him a few questions, including who “Diana” is, the person I was communicating with through the listing, thinking she might be his wife. He said she was just a woman who ran the rental listings because he was too busy to run the ranch and the rental by himself.

Over the next few days we became really friendly with Hap. He came by our front porch a couple of times throughout the day, or would stop to chat around the property while passing by on his tractor. He offered full use of one of his 4-wheelers to Trace when he saw how excited he was to look at his. He told us to take the red one whenever we wanted, and he parked it right outside our cabin for us. Let me tell you, this was a 2 year old’s dream come true. “Mommy, my want to go on the tractor again,” is a statement I could probably take a break from for a while. Hap sat down with us on our porch one afternoon while Trace was napping, and talked about life, family, his children and grandchildren. During this conversation I asked him if he was married. He hesitated for several seconds and said “no.” I then asked if he was in a relationship? Again… a long hesitation… and he said “ehhhhh…”

“Haha is it complicated?” I asked?

“Ummm… yeah I guess so… a story for another time.”

I pushed a little more, and peppered him with a beer… figured that’d get him talking… I thought maybe we’d get some juicy stories, but the dang guy doesn’t drink, and clearly didn’t want to discuss his love life further. So I left it at that.

The rest of our time at the ranch was nothing short of amazing. We were planning all of our future trips back, thinking about who we could bring with us next time to stay in the little glamping cabins on the pond, taking advantage of country life to its fullest. It was the breath of fresh air we needed, and Trace was having the time of his life. He picked apples and pears straight from the tree, throwing them to the donkeys and horses, roamed the fields with Oliver, road the “tractor,” fed the ducks from an enormous bin of corn kearnals, and took a few trips out on the paddleboats. He also ate Mac ‘n Cheese, obviously. A toddler’s paradise.

Over the weekend, Hap made several comments about how beautiful and lovely our family and children were. He expressed how the ranch was a perfect place for “kids to just be kids,” and how it was “so safe out here… you don’t have to worry about things like kidnappers.” Ginge and I both thought that comment was a little strange, but let it slide, and didn’t discuss with each other until later on.

As Ginge was packing up the car to leave on Saturday, and I was doing a final round of donkey and horse visits with the kids, Hap walked by and I had one last conversation with him. He again, told us how special he thought we were, and commented on what a hard worker and special person I am, which made me feel the slightest twinge of uncomfortable, since really, he barely knew anything about me. He mentioned the kids again and how wonderful they were. He told me he really wanted us to come back, and to just give him a call whenever and he would make special arrangements for us. I asked him for his contact info.

“Ok, take out your phone and type in ‘Hap’ and I’ll give you my phone number.”

That was a weird way to put it, but I did as he instructed. After I entered his number, I asked what his last name was. He just looked at me, with a half smile, again, hesitating for a moment, and said, “Just Hap is fine.” I laughed at him and asked if he really wasn’t going to give me his last name, to which he just chuckled back. I told him he was funny and put my phone back in my pocket. Old man things I guess.

Before walking away, I had one last question. I wanted to know about the cabin we were staying in. Ginge had commented when we got there that it seemed someone lived there, since there were full cabinets of stuff with locks on them, and the place was completely decorated in all sorts of random “rustic” decor from all different time periods. It felt like someone’s personal space they’d created over many years, and not like an empty, sterile, “AirBnB only” kind of a rental.

“Did someone live in this cabin before you started renting it out? I know you just started doing the AirBnB rentals 4 months ago, but it’s so well decorated, and feels lived-in.”

Another big pause from Hap. He really didn’t want to answer this one. I could see his wheels turning. “Well… I don’t talk about this. I don’t ever tell people. But my wife died in a car accident about 6 months ago. She was the decorator.”

His eyes literally filled with tears as he was telling me this and I immediately felt so sad, and terrible for pushing him on his relationship status the day before. This was so new to him and he clearly did not want to talk about it. He told me he loved her so much and missed her every single day. I expressed my genuine sympathy for him, and my heart hurt. We said goodbye and got into the car and left the ranch.

On the way out, I told Ginge about my convo with Hap, and how sad I felt for him. We then discussed the fact that he didn’t want to give me his last name, and I wondered why.

“Well, he was in law enforcement… he was a narcotics officer… maybe he doesn’t want us looking him up and finding anything from back then?”

Who knows. We didn’t give it a ton more thought. We just spent the ride home planning our next trip back to the ranch. Shortly after we got back, I went on AirBnB and gave Hap and his ranch a glowing review. He asked me to do so, and it was the least I could do after the spectacular weekend.

The next morning, I got on my computer and pulled up AirBnB to look up the little glamping cabins on the property. They were managed by the same woman as the cabin, Diana. I clicked on Diana’s profile to read all of the reviews from the different listings she managed, including the little cabins and the main house where Hap lived, but also rented rooms out of. Almost all of the reviews were over-the-top-positive. There was one, however, which was not. It was the longest one. The renter recounted his time staying in the main house with Hap. He was with a group of gay friends, a couple of whom were black. He spoke about the extremely racist and anti-gay comments Hap made over their weekend, and how uncomfortable they all felt staying there. He wrote about a story Hap told him about a black man who came onto his father’s ranch when he was younger, and they shot him in the face and killed him.

I was horrified. This was the same man we just spent a whole relaxing weekend with? I kept digging into reviews, which didn’t go back too far, but I realized that people were referring to the listing owner, Diana as “Diana” in the more recent ones, and mentioning they hadn’t met her, but in posts from several months ago, they talked about a “Di” who was so amazing and hospitable, and showed them around the ranch, etc. One of them referenced Di as Hap’s wife.

Hmmm… that’s weird, I thought. At first I thought Diana and Di were the same person, and if that were the case, how was I communicating with a dead person? Was she not dead? I was confused. I needed more info cuz you know… I’m nosy. Since Hap wouldn’t give me his last name, I just google searched “Hap” and then the town’s name. What I saw pop up as suggestions were a bunch of “Hap and Di’s.” I clicked.

Sooo here we go. Di was Hap’s fianc√©e, not to be confused with Diana, who is a neighbor who is now running the AirBnB listing. Di (the fianc√©e…yes, this is confusing) was a multimillionaire, owning multiple properties in the mountains, one of which was the ranch we stayed on. DI WAS MISSING. She went missing mysteriously from THE RANCH WE STAYED AT, just four months ago. Hap was the only other person on the property at the time she disappeared, and the last one to see her alive (well, or dead for that matter, as her body has still not been located). The case began as a missing persons investigation, and is now classified as a homicide investigation.

Wait… WHAT? Hap told me his wife died in a car accident 6 months ago. SEE RABBITHOLE… JUMP IN RABBITHOLE. Article after article, crime thread after crime thread, I dug deeper and deeper. I enlisted the help of a few friends who moonlight as detectives. Turns out, two weeks before her disappearance, Di transferred her properties and other assets into a new trust. Hap was listed as the first trustee, so would be set to take over her ranch if anything were to happen to her. If she is not found within five years, he will officially inherit her estates.

I’m sitting in front of my laptop in shock. No. This can’t be true. Hap definitely has nothing to do with this right? I watched an interview he did. He expressed how much he loved his fianc√©e, and wanted to find her. I read more. Di went missing on a Saturday. Hap noticed she was missing around 7:30pm. He enlisted the help of neighbors to search their 115 acre property, but nobody notified the police until late Sunday. By the time the Sheriffs arrived at the ranch on Monday to begin their search, Hap had already left in his RV to drive to Colorado and New Mexico “on business.”

Wait, I’m sorry. Your beloved fianc√©e is MISSING… her purse and cell still in the house, her car outside, and you LEAVE THE STATE IN YOUR RV before the police arrive?!

No, no, no. This can’t be. He didn’t do it. That nice old farmer is not a murderer. But now I’m remembering that one review… about that man he shot in the face (or witnessed being shot, maybe?) on his father’s ranch. But maybe that was a terrible, racist tall tale? Or maybe it wasn’t.

I’m thinking back to things he said. Why would he tell me his wife was dead from a car accident? Maybe he just didn’t want to get into the fact that she was missing? And that they weren’t married yet? But the creepiest part of all was the conversation we had about kidnappers. He stated OUT OF NO WHERE, that our kids were safe out here “BECAUSE THERE ARE NO KIDNAPPERS.”

  1. Who even says that?
  2. YOUR WIFE JUST WENT MISSING FROM THIS EXACT SPOT WE ARE SITTING FOUR MONTHS AGO!
  3. Giving him the benefit of the doubt… let’s just say we believe he DID NOT KILL HER… then guess what? SHE GOT KIDNAPPED. FROM RIGHT IN THIS EXACT LOCATION. And you choose to list the main benefit of a family vacation at this spot as “there are no kidnappers here.”

I ran into the house from my “office” in the old trailer in the side yard, to:

  1. Make sure my children were still not kidnapped, cuz at this point I’m slightly weirded out.
  2. Relay the findings of my investigation to Ginge.
  3. Ask Ginge if he thinks there’s any way we could still go back to the ranch for vacation next year (he says no). But like, maybe if he gets arrested? Then maybe prices will be cheaper too! (he says probably not).

Well I’ll be damned. Did we literally just spend 3 nights at a murder ranch? Was Di buried somewhere back there in the meadow? Was Hap so interested in our children and in us returning because he was part of a child trafficking ring, and used this first trip to butter us up and stake us out so he could steal our children next time???

Article upon article, I couldn’t find anything concrete. The police seized “evidence” from the ranch, taking blood from bedsheets, a bandaid, and toilet paper, and also searched Hap’s storage unit in New Mexico, and impounded the RV, where they took a section of the seat which also contained some evidence. Another report had him listed as a registered sex offender, being charged with molesting three women in Colorado.

But here he was… still running the ranch. Telling stories about his life and his kids, and his “dead wife.” I guess he wasn’t aware of my level of nosiness… and how little information I needed to sniff him out on the World Wide Web. I wondered if he thought I already knew something, based on my probing questions. I wondered if he was debating how to answer me, knowing he had a secret and not sure if I also knew his secret. I replayed so many conversations in my head from the weekend.

I wondered if I should call the cops and tell them about some of our convos. Ginge told me I had nothing to go on, nothing concrete to contribute to an investigation, and that I should stay out of it. I thought about if it were my loved one who were missing… wouldn’t I want every little bit of information to be reported, even if it didn’t prove anything? And was there even anything to prove? What if this poor innocent old farmer really is in the dark about it, had nothing to do with Di’s disappearance and was completely heartbroken? Am I jumping to conclusions? Maybe the fact of the matter is that we just spent the weekend with a murderer.

I’m torn. And slightly scared. If this is all true, does he know where we live? Can he find us?

Today was Amazon Prime Day. I bought a Ring Doorbell.

xoxo

Ok, Now Please Slow Down the Time, Tacos!

Well holy f(*#$& crap… It’s 9:37pm on May 1st.¬† This time last year I was having the time of my life at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns.¬†¬† If you think I’m joking or being sarcastic, you are so wrong.¬† May 1st 2018 was one of the best, most fun days of my life, and it was spent with Gingey (and partly Rissy)¬†in a labor and delivery room.¬† I can’t tell you how many times during my 24 hours of labor I laughed so hard I cried.¬† Between the excitement of meeting my new little man for the first time who had been living inside of me for 38.5 weeks, and the compilation of weird and¬†hilarious things labor is made of, the day was truly a hoot.

Mind you, I was on drugs.¬† All the drugs.¬† That helped.¬† The amount of drugs I was on didn’t allow me to move my extra swollen limbs though, so Gingey trying to lift and turn me as if I was a Mack truck just added to the hilarity of the situation.¬† I loved that 24 hours.¬† I really, really did.¬† I felt like we were on our last real date, just the two of us… so much quality time.

That tiny being finally came out of me and entered the world, and dang… did our lives immediately change.

But man… a year has passed.¬† How did that happen?¬† I don’t think all moms feel this way, but those first few months DRAGGED.¬† Everyone always says “time flies”… well no… it didn’t.¬† Time lasted for-ev-er.¬† The day never ended.¬† There wasn’t a “bedtime” people speak of.¬† There was no end to any day in sight…ever.¬† Between feeding, pumping, washing bottles and pump parts, figuring out how to keep germs away for that ever impending cleft lip surgical repair, there was just never a physical or mental “breather.”¬† Those first 5 months with my first newborn experience, before surgery¬†and then¬†through recovery were TOUGH.¬† Really tough.

But then… all you people turned out to be right.¬† Time FLEW.¬† How did my tiny baby go from 5 months to a year??¬† So many things have changed in this first year of his life on Earth.¬† “Tacos” developed his own little personality.¬† He has opinions.¬†He does.¬†¬†I get it.¬† He’s a baby.¬†I realize this. ¬†But this baby has opinions…¬† He has mannerisms, he has POOPED ON THE TOILET THREE TIMES (thankyouverymuch)… he has developed a love, friendship and understanding¬†with his dog brother, Ollie (or “Olla,” which was his¬†third word after first mama, then dada…not that I need to rank his¬†words in order, but like, I kinda do)…¬† He has learned how to communicate, whether with his super dramatic gestures, or with his words…¬†minimal English,¬†maximal gibberish.¬† And he’s funny.¬† Yes, again, I get it… he’s a baby.¬† But he’s actually very funny.

One thing hasn’t changed though.¬† I am, for better or worse, connected to this child.¬† My heart physically hurts when he cries.¬† My body hurts, my soul hurts.¬† Everything just hurts.¬† It’s not a reaction I want, or can control.¬† Ginge often thinks I’m insane, and maybe I am.¬† But I have to believe most mothers feel this aching, this pang.

It’s become a pretty big joke in our house.¬† We had an issue at Trace’s daycare one time… they “forgot” to feed him for like 6 hours.¬† Some mistake was made.¬† I don’t remember exactly what the excuse was, and it’s been fixed and all is good, but I was heated at the time, and discussing the situation with Ginge, and I told him I was going to go there the next day and give them a piece of my mind.¬† I was saying something like, “This will¬†never happen again.¬†¬†They don’t mess with my¬†Trace…” Then my pointer finger came out and I¬†exclaimed, “Not MY baby!”¬† Trace was present for this convo and he burst into laughter at that statement.¬† Like legit laughter.¬† It has never died.¬† It continues in this song… sing it with me:

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round,

The wheels on the bus go round and round, alllll through the town

The mommies on the bus go “not MY baby,” “not MY baby,” not MY baby”

The mommies on the bus go “not MY baby,” alllll through the town.

And there’s a pointer finger wagging, and there’s a tiny (very large) baby giggling, and this is how our household is run… with ridiculous songs and dances, and really anything to hear that amazing giggle and see those pearly whites.

Crap… we haven’t brushed those things in several days…

Now it’s 10:24pm.¬† In less than 3 hours, my little blonde haired, blue eyed clone (ok fine, I look like his freakin’ nanny), will be officially¬†ONE YEAR OLD.¬† A whole revolution of the Earth around the Sun.¬† He is my sun.¬† And my son.¬† And my everything.¬† And in this past year I’ve learned so much about myself… figuring things out along the way.¬† I’ve learned so much about my relationship with Ginge.¬† We actually talked about this the other night after the nugget was in bed (bedtime: where the child actually goes to bed for an extended amount of time…¬†THIS¬†IS THE TITS).¬† I’ve read and heard time and time again that the two major things that can negatively affect a marriage or relationship are:

  1. Money
  2. Children

It’s crazy, but this blonde butterball of joy and poops has strengthened our relationship with each other.¬† We have learned how to work as a team… not perfectly all the time, obvi, but he forces us to talk, communicate and reflect with each other.¬† We have learned that we need to be in this together in order to raise a kind, happy and strong baby.¬† We need to treat each other as we would like others to treat our son, and as we expect our son to treat others.¬† We are a team through and through, and we haven’t needed marriage papers to define that, (buttttttt will have them exactly one month from today, just in case…).

This one year may be a blip on the radar… but this one year has been everything.¬† We couldn’t have asked for anything more.¬† We love you Trace Nicholas “Tacos” Joffrion.¬† You are our everything.

xoxo

Gossip Girl

Tacos 1 Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding Planning…

I haven’t blogged in a while.¬† I don’t think it’s for lack of things to talk about.¬† It’s more being pre-occupied by things like work travel, baby things, planning a wedding.¬† You know the old saying… how does it go?¬† First comes love, then comes the baby, then comes an engagement, then comes planning a freakin’¬†wedding while simultaneously trying to figure out how to raise a human which you’ve never done before,¬†because we do nothing in the traditional order?

Wedding planning makes my brain hurt.¬† This is not my forte.¬† I’m not a real planner in my¬†personal life, and I’m not terribly organized.¬† My friends have stepped in and set deadlines for me, made me documents with bullet points, given me first-hand advice.¬† I love them very much for it.¬† I’m wondering why they’re not just doing it for me and also paying for it all.¬† Isn’t that what friends do?¬† No?

We started this whole process¬†with, “We don’t want a traditional wedding.¬† We just want something small and casual…¬†a good ‘ole pig roast backyard party.”

  • Our backyard is not big enough
  • I love pigs.¬† But I love them when they’re alive and running around.¬† I don’t want a dead one on a stick in my backyard

So let’s start with “our backyard is not big enough.”¬† Ok cool, we can still have a “backyard feel.”¬† We will just keep it super simple, rent an Air BnB with a yard, and have a simple little party.

  • Normal Air BnB’s don’t allow “events.”
  • The ones that do allow events have a ridiculous surcharge which takes away the simple affordable “backyard party.”
  • Say you pay this surcharge… you need to bring in EVERYTHING.
    • “Ehhhh we don’t really need tables and chairs.”
      • Friends:¬† “Well, yes, you kind of do.”

We scrapped the Air BnB “backyard party.”

Next, the pig.¬† I want a mini pig.¬† One that’s alive and I get to keep forever.

  • Carissa tried to get me one as a wedding gift.
  • Ginge said no.
  • Why is Ginge the boss of my happiness?
  • How can I convince him that Tacos needs a mini pig for his mental¬†development?

This is the exact way my brain works while trying to stay on task with wedding planning.¬† It stops working.¬† Which is why I just realized I really haven’t planned anything at all, although I’ve been telling everyone for months, “oh yeah, it’s basically done.”

No, it’s not basically done.¬† Like not even a little bit.¬† Who knew there were so many things that needed to be coordinated to throw a damn party at a farm?¬† Not I.¬† People want COFFEE?¬† Who drinks coffee at night?¬† This is a whole extra service fee? ¬†I have to rent coffee mugs now?¬† Why can’t I just bring my Keurig?

“Who’s going to “collect everything and bring it home at the end of the night?”¬† No one.¬† No one is.¬† It’s all going to stay there and we will worry about it the next day.¬† All of my guests better be drunk unless they’re pregnant.¬† In which case I wouldn’t be putting them to work “collecting things.”

“Who is going to coordinate the rehearsal and processional?”¬† Ummmm I don’t know… why isn’t that included with the farm, LINDY?¬† I have to hire a whole new person for this?¬† I told Ginge last night, “I mean I could just tell people when to start walking. I’m bossy. ¬†It’s not that hard… but like, I’ll be in the back and I don’t really want to be barking orders.¬† I’M THE BRIDE… no actually I’m NOT doing that.¬† I take it back.¬† We need to hire someone to tell people when to walk.”

“Courtney, that’s ridiculous.”

I know it is!¬† It’s all ridiculous.¬† The whole damn thing is ridiculous.¬† I just want to stand up there, tell you how wonderful you are sometimes, vow to never cheat on you and run away in the middle of the night while stealing your golf clubs, give you a big ole smooch, and then go parttttayyyyyy… but if you’ve ever planned a wedding, maybe you can relate.¬† As “simple” as you try to keep it, it somehow all finds a way of snowballing.¬† I’ve realized all of these little things I keep saying “I don’t give a crap about that,”¬† …. our guests who are traveling across the country just may give a crap about.¬† Just because I don’t want dessert doesn’t mean I can deprive everyone else of dessert?¬† Weird.

Against some suggestions from friends I decided EVERYTHING, including RSVPs will be done via our website.¬† They warned me, “People aren’t going to go to your website.¬† They won’t know how to do it.¬† You’ll be fishing individually for RSVPs.”¬† I didn’t listen.¬† I typed every single name into the website and will be having people RSVP that way.¬† I sent my future sister-in-law the link early, before invitations went out.

She sent me a screenshot of her laptop when she tried to RSVP.¬† I spelled her first AND last name incorrectly.¬† My future last name was spelled incorrectly.¬† I replied “OMG did I spell all of your names wrong?”¬† “LOL…yes.”

Faakkkkkk…¬† I log onto the website and not only did I spell 3/4 of Ginge’s brother’s family’s last names incorrectly, I used THREE DIFFERENT SPELLINGS of their last name between all of the other guests on the list.¬† I literally DO NOT know how this happened and I have no excuse for it.¬† Was I drunk?¬† Maybe??¬† I guess I don’t like to do wedding tasks sober so maybe it’s a possibility.¬† I went through the list one-by-one and corrected all of his family’s last names.¬† I asked him to come sit down and go over every single guest and give it a double look.¬† He’s like, yep, yep, yep, these are all right… then he gets to his own name.¬† “YOU SPELLED MY NAME WRONG.”

What in the motherf*&*^*$&^….

Who put me in charge of this?

This is an outdoor wedding.¬† The entire thing.¬† There is no backup “indoor” plan.¬† It’s a legit horse farm.¬† With horses.¬† In the barn.¬† You heard it here first… It’s going to rain.¬† I’ve already put 100 umbrellas in my Amazon shopping cart.¬† Bring rain boots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birth

This post was started 2 months ago… you may or may not be able to understand the delay, based on whether or not you’ve had a newborn as a roommate ūüėČ

**Warning**¬† Don’t continue this if you don’t want to go into details about child birth

Baby Tacos was due May 12th.  As mentioned in my previous post, my new health insurance kicked in May 1st, so it was a tedious balance of wishing, hoping and squatting him into existence in the outside world as soon as possible, but also knowing, for the sake of our wallets, he really should hang in there til May 1st.  Having babies in hospitals is apparently an expensive activity.

It was April 30th… I had a doctor appointment in the morning which Ginge joined me for because it was our final ultrasound with a growth scan.¬† All appeared to be good, Tacos seemed to be slightly under 8 lbs, and while the doctor’s hand was somewhere no one could see, she asked, “Would you like me to strip your membranes?”¬† Without having real time to ask questions, or discuss this option, I just said “Sure,” and her hand, which didn’t yet come out to see the light of day, did something that felt like a roto rooter, if I were to guess what a roto rooter felt like.

After she was done with this, and her hand emerged, I asked, “So… what does this mean?” “Sweetie, we don’t know.¬† You could have a baby later today, or you could have a baby in 3 weeks.¬† ¬†We will see!”¬† And just like that she took off.

I told my sister-in-law.¬† “OMG Court.¬† You’re going to have a baby, like SOON.”¬† As previously mentioned it was April 30th.¬† I’m sitting in the car on the way home with Ginge and he says, “Why did you let her do that?!?¬† This baby better not fucking come today!”

“I don’t know!¬† She didn’t give me time to think about it!”

I went to bed that night thinking… WE MADE IT.¬† The clock struck May 1st, and two hours later my water broke.¬† I didn’t actually believe it at first.¬† So I waited a while while Ginge was sleeping and I was timing contractions.¬† They were 5-6 minutes apart, and yes, my water was definitely broken.¬† And re-broken, and continuously just broken.¬† I woke Ginge who had been working in the garage all night and had probably been sleeping for about an hour.¬† “Ummmm so I think we need to go to the hospital.”

“Wait really?¬† Like now?”

“Yeah.¬† Did you pack your bag?”

“No.”

So Ginge packed a bag, which he had not done yet, because he didn’t believe me when I said the baby was going to come on May 1st.¬† Ollie’s bag was already packed and in the car, because he is responsible like that, so within about 30 minutes we were on our way to my sister’s house to drop Ollie.¬† It was about 3:30am and I texted her, expressing¬† that I hoped she and her roommates continued to be irresponsible and left their door unlocked when they went to bed, (flash forward, responsibility decided to kick in that night, so we banged on the door for a few minutes).¬† I waddled my way to her door, begging for paper towels, because… what they don’t tell you is that your water doesn’t just break once… its a continuous water fountain that does not stop… ever.¬† She grabbed Ollie, gave me a hug and said we would see each other later, and we were on our way.

After we were all checked in, and in a labor and delivery room, the contractions worsened and I started on IV Fentanyl.¬† Drugs, yeah, I was not against them.¬† Judge away.¬† My birth plan was “everyone stays alive.”¬† All the drugs were included in that plan.¬† It wasn’t long until that wasn’t working anymore and I told Ginge to ask the nurse for more.¬† This is when he made his first and biggest mistake any man in any labor and delivery room could ever make.¬† He had an opinion.¬† About my drugs.

“Maybe you should wait a bit longer.”

He immediately regretted this decision.¬† I saw the words recoiling from his face.¬† He got a nurse, I started crying, and got my last dose of Fentanyl until the anestesiologist was called and my Epidural was administered (as I requested…read: demanded).¬† As they stuck the needle in my back, I said “That actually feels good.”¬† A needle in my back felt GOOD compared to what was going on in my insides.¬† And just like that… relief.¬† I was told to take a nap, because we were pretty far off still, and only 3 cms dilated.¬† WHO COULD NAP AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!

Over the next 20ish hours, as my OB came in and checked every few hours, her advice was “Rest up, we are going to need all of your energy later.”

Baby Tacos was stubborn.¬† Pitocin was administered to increase the frequency and intensity of the contractions and move him down into place.¬† This continued for quite a while, until we were told he was “sunny side up,” meaning his head was facing the wrong direction which was going to make delivery much more difficult.¬† Still, we tried.¬† We had nurses come on and off of duty.¬† Two amazing nurses came in and talked with me for a while.¬† They understood I really wanted this baby to come out naturally and got their game faces on.¬† They explained that they had just gone through a class on different positions they could get me in to try to get the baby into place for delivery and asked if¬† I was game for that.

“OF COURSE!¬† DO IT!”

My sister was there in the delivery room at this point so the poor thing had to watch my huge pregnant naked ass get on all fours and get shook back and forth with a sheet underneath me, get on each side and do the same… I felt for her… and now understand if she never ever wants to give birth.¬† She was also there when the nurses had left, and I asked Gingey really nicely to put a new puppy pad underneath me because mine was completely soaked again, and that feeling was probably worse than the contractions themselves.¬† She watched as he PUT ON MEDICAL GLOVES and not only changed my puppy pad, but without asking, WIPED MY ASS…¬† This was a new low, people.¬† A new low.¬† And he did it with a smile.¬† And with me hysterical laughing.

Rissy stayed until my doc came back in for a last time around 12:30am, checked me, and told me at this point, with all of the meds that had been pumping through my IV, being on antibiotics for so long, and the fact that my stubborn child was STILL only 5cm dilated, she had no choice but to perform a C-Section.¬† I knew this was a possibility at this point, so I kept it together, and I asked my sister to please go home and get her ass to bed.¬† We waited in the room for a bit, as the nurses explained the delay was due to “a complication” in the current C-Section.¬† I asked what it was, but she said she couldn’t tell me.¬† I then lay there and cried.¬† I cried because I so wanted to be able to get this baby out on my own.¬† I cried because I had been awake for over 24 hours.¬† I cried because this isn’t what I planned.¬† But then again, my birth plan was ALWAYS “everyone stays alive.”¬† My friend Emitch told me years ago that was her birth plan, and I held onto it.¬† As long as everyone stays alive, we are all good.

They provided a scrub jumpsuit (I don’t know what that thing is actually called) for Gingey.¬† He put it on and looked so adorable, I’m pretty sure I made him pose for photos.¬† They then finally came in to get me for surgery and wheeled me out of the delivery room. Gingey followed, but they made him wait in a separate room while they prepped me in the OR.¬† I was shaking.¬† Like uncontrollably shaking.¬† I don’t know if it was just the meds, or my nerves or a combo, but I asked the (uncharacteristically young) anesthesiologist to pump some anti-anxiety meds in my IV.¬† His response was “I could do that, but you may lose your memory for an hour.”¬† I was like, ummm nevermind.

They seemed almost ready to go, and 1.¬† I could still feel things on my body (NO!) and 2. Gingey wasn’t there yet (HELL NO!)… I kept yelling “I can still feel everything!!!”¬† In which my doctor responded, “Can you feel THIS?”

“I don’t know!¬† What are you doing?”

“I’m pinching your stomach as hard as I possibly can.”

“Fine, no, I can’t feel that.”

My doctor’s medical student who had been shadowing her in her office for the past couple of weeks during my bi-weekly visits, was standing next to my head holding my hand, asking if I was ok, and having more bedside manner than I had ever experienced from any doctor.¬† It seemed as if they were to begin… I heard a lot of commands being thrown around, and still no Gingey.¬† I was freakin’ scared!¬† I hear my doctor say “where’s daddy?? Is daddy in here yet?”¬† And from behind a screen, I screamed “NO! HE’S NOT!”

Enter Gingey.

They started the procedure.¬† If anyone tells you they can’t feel anything during a C-Section, they’re either under general anesthesia or THEY’RE LYING!¬† I was laying there staring just at Gingey’s face and I kept saying “I can feel it… I CAN FEEEEEEELLLLLL IT” over and over again… and he kept repeating for AT LEAST TEN MINUTES “It’s not pain, it’s just pressure, it’s not pain, its just pressure.” (Like HE knew?!) I kept trying to believe him, while feeling like an alligator was being wrestled from my insides (thanks to my friend Amy who gave me that comparison at a later time)…. until what seemed like 4 hours later I HEARD A FUCKING BABY CRY!!!!!

I heard my doctor exclaim:¬† “Daddy, he’s here take a look!”

Gingey stood up over the curtain to look at him for the first time, and just started crying.¬† Like bawling crying and saying, “He’s so beautiful!”¬† I immediately started crying too.¬† I couldn’t see him.¬† All I could do was look at his father’s face, with tears streaming down it…and repeating “he’s so beautiful.”

The NICU team was standing by because they knew our baby had been diagnosed at 18 weeks, and re-diagnosed at 22 weeks with a cleft lip and a cleft palate.¬† I knew they would be there, and was relieved for the backup.¬† They explained to us beforehand that if there were any breathing complications that sometimes come with cleft babies, he would be whisked away to the NICU.¬† I heard that first baby cry out of his mouth and felt relief… “he’s ok… he s alive!”

I kept saying “Is he ok?? Is he ok??”¬† I couldn’t see anything .¬† After he was wrestled from my insides they passed him to the NICU team and I heard them say “Daddy, you can come over here.”¬† I was like “Go, Gingey, GO!”

I kept repeating “Is he ok?” and heard from a NICU nurse, “Come on baby, come on”¬† Trying to get him to breathe properly…. then, “Good boy, good boy!” …Then the words I will never ever forget…”His palate is intact.”

Wait… WHAT????¬† ¬†Is this a f*ckin’ DREAM???¬† In NO way did I ever dream he would not have a cleft palate.¬† Not one part of my being thought this was an option.¬† I lay there yelling over and over “ARE YOU SUREEEEEEE???”

“Yes we are sure!!!!”

I heard Gingey “Babe he is SO BEAUTIFUL!¬† His lip is so fine too!”

I could not believe it.¬† The fact that his palate was intact was the greatest surprise of my entire life.¬† This removed so many of the worries I had over the past 6 months… he will be able to eat??? He won’t need extra surgeries and have speech problems??? WHAATTTTT????? I never could have asked for a greater gift and it honestly took me so long to comprehend.

I was taken to another room after being stitched up.¬† Gingey and baby were together, and I still hadn’t seen him yet.¬† I was sooo anxious.¬† About 20 minutes later they brought my little boy to me… they laid him on my chest, and his eyes were open so wide as he stared at me.¬† Gingey was crying again and just kept saying “he loves you so much.”¬† My heart was bursting.

All of the months of worries and fears were over.  I had my healthy little (8lb 21 inch, 2 week early) baby on my chest and he was staring into my eyes and I was so so so eternally grateful. He was a healthy little beautiful baby and our lives were forever changed.

We have a road ahead of us, but it’s soooo much easier than what I anticipated.¬† He has an incomplete unilateral cleft lip (no palate or gum involvement), and it makes him who he his. He is the most gorgeous, amazing little being I could ever be handed.¬† He has been the greatest gift I ever could have imagined.¬† Ohhhhhh he’s been giving us a run for our money, that’s for sure… but that’s for later posts.

Here I am, a freakin’ MOM… can you even believe it?¬† Trace Nicholas, you’re in for a ride.¬† And so are we!!!

xoxo

Gossip Girl

Pregnancy Journal

A brief overview of my past few months:

Week 6:  Why do I feel hungover all the time?

Mindset:¬† So-far pregnancy is easy; I’ve got this.

Week 7:  Why do I feel drunk AND hungover at the same time?

Mindset:¬† Pregnancy is still easy; I’ve got this.

Week 8:¬† I don’t remember putting my work laptop back in my suitcase after I went through security at the airport.¬† I call the airport to see if they’ve found it. They haven’t.¬† I call my company’s HR department and IT department and tell them I’ve lost my laptop.¬† I then check my suitcase.¬† My laptop is where I usually keep it.¬† My brain… why has it stopped working?

Mindset:¬† Pregnancy is still easy; I’ve got this.

Week 9:¬† I back into a tree with a rental car.¬† The tree was not hidden.¬† I just forget the step of the driving process when you are supposed to check to see what’s behind you before you gas the car into reverse.¬† My sister is drunk.¬† She tells me she should drive instead.¬† I obviously don’t let her, but the results probably would have been similar.

Mindset:¬† Pregnancy is still easy; I’ve got this.

Week 10:¬† I ask Ginge why he’s getting Ollie a different type of dog food.¬† He tells me it’s because I’ve told him to get a different type of dog food.¬† I don’t remember this conversation.¬† He’s frightened.

Mindset:¬† Pregnancy is still easy; I’ve got this.

Week 11:¬† I’m puking in the bushes outside of busy medical complexes at work, and falling asleep in my car in parking lots.¬† I’m faking drinking at multiple events and struggling to stay up past 9pm.

Mindset:¬† Pregnancy is still easy; I’ve got this.

Week 24:¬† I realize I can’t reach my feet properly anymore to put my socks on.¬† This bump has begun to impede my daily activity.

Mindset:¬† Pregnancy is still easy; I’ve got this.

Weeks 25-33- Bump continues to grow… Puking on airplanes takes place occasionally still.¬† People ask if I’m due TOMORROW.¬† The answer is no.¬† Why do people think this is an appropriate question?¬† I’m not due tomorrow, or anywhere even close to tomorrow.¬† I cannot help the size of this thing.¬† ¬†This is not my fault.¬† Well maybe the pancakes and ice cream sandwiches are my fault.¬† Maybe all the Taco Bell is my fault.¬† But like, this baby is large.¬† 90th percentile to be exact.¬† How am I going to keep growing for another *many* amount of weeks?¬† I’m not sure, but I can handle this.

Mindset:¬† Pregnancy is still easy; I’ve got this.

Week 34:¬† I’m very large, and it’s very hard to roll out of bed.¬† It’s difficult to walk without my bladder feeling like it is going to drop from my body.¬† Why do I have to pee even right after I’ve just peed?¬† Is this normal?¬† My back hurts.¬† My groin muscles feel sore but loose, like my legs might detach from my hips.¬† Is this normal?

This baby better stay in there ’til May 1st when my new, fancy health insurance kicks in!¬† Stay in there, Tacos!!!

Mindset:¬† Pregnancy is still easy; I’ve got this.

Week 35: Who the F cares about the new insurance??¬† I’ll use the old insurance.¬† I will pay one million dollars extra to deliver this baby right this second.¬† ARE YOU DONE IN THERE YET????¬† COME OUT OF THERE NOW, TACOS!

Mindset:¬† Fuck this shit, fuck everybody, ;alk;djafoijad;lksfja;lkaskljf*P(&jkhasf7a;lsfj;la That’s enough.¬† I’m done.

—————————————————————————————

I walked in the door from work yesterday, another long day on the road after I had been traveling out of state for a couple of days and Ginge greeted me at the door.¬† All I could say was, “I’m done being pregnant now.”

He said, “Go to bed.”

I did.¬† I went to bed and cuddled with my big large pregnancy pillow and took the best nap of my life.¬† It was still daylight.¬† I began the nap feeling guilty, and like I wouldn’t be able to sleep later if I took this nap, and then I realized I didn’t care.¬† To be comfortable and sleeping has become more of a luxury over the past week, and I will take it whenever I can get it.¬† It was so good.¬† Then I woke up and we ate Thai Drunken Noodles and watched TV and I felt like a new woman.

This morning I slept as late as I wanted, ate scrambled eggs, bacon, and a Belgian Waffle with whipped cream and strawberries BECAUSE I’M PREGNANT, OK?!?¬† and then sat my ass on the couch to watch The Masters with Ollie and Gingey, and I feel calm.¬† I can hold him in there for another few weeks, and we will get through this.¬† Just don’t make me go on another airplane.¬† Airplanes.are.torture.

Man, I’m pretty sure I’ll fit in enough complaining in these last few weeks to make up for the complaining I didn’t do for so many months.¬† I apologize in advance to anyone who has to listen to it, and to anyone who has to walk alongside of me as I shuffle at a snail’s pace to ensure my bladder does not, in fact, exit my body while I walk.

But Tacos, if you wanna come out early, EVEN if it’s before May 1st, it’s okay.¬† We’ll be ready for ya.

xoxo Gossip Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Could Be Worse

Originally written December 20, 2017:

“It could be worse.”

Of course it could be worse.  It could also be fucking better.  These words spoken by the physician who read us the results of our 18- week anatomy scan could not have been less soothing.

As we sat in that tiny room with a large ultrasound machine and a screen mounted to the wall which we had be staring at for the past 30 minutes, myself now sitting up on the edge of the exam table, Ginge in the chair against the wall, we had just received news that our baby has a cleft lip and possible palate.¬† We walked into that room excited.¬† We were joking about the obnoxious sound of my new clogs on the floor, and the ridiculous way I was walking in them.¬† We were so anxious to see our baby’s face for the first time.¬† “It’s going to look like a real human today!”¬† We joked about how well behaved it was already, giving us a perfect view of his/her heart.¬† It wasn’t until the very end of the appointment that the ultrasound tech said, “Since I told you I’d let you know if I saw anything, I just want you to know I have found something I’m concerned about.¬† It looks like theres a cleft lip on the right side of baby’s face. ¬†Do you know what a cleft lip is?”

Of course I knew what a cleft lip was.¬† We’ve all seen the late night commercials of the children in third-world countries who need surgery to fix their cleft lip/palate.¬† I’ve even looked into volunteering with¬†Operation Smile in the past.¬† I knew what cleft lip looked like.¬† Ginge immediately got on his phone to start googling. ¬†I wished he wouldn’t.¬† The tech said “the doctor will be in shortly to go over the results,” and walked out.

The tears started streaming.¬† I didn’t want them to.¬† I was trying to hold it together until we left, keep a clear head to be able to process what the doctor said.¬† He entered, a few minutes later- a tall jolly looking man with a white beard.¬† I was hoping and praying the words out of his mouth would be that the tech is an idiot and it was just a shadow on the ultrasound. All is good!¬† Instead, in an upbeat tone, he repeated that our baby has a cleft on the right side of its lip, we couldn‚Äôt confirm palate involvement yet, it was too hard to see on the ultrasound at this point, and he proceeded to discuss genetic counseling, amniocentesis, and all of the other chromosomal abnormalities that could come along with cleft lip.¬† He discussed consultations we will be setting up with a surgical team at Rady Children’s Hospital, as well as appointments we will need to make with ENTs and other specialists.¬† He told us not to google.¬† He said we would only see and hear about worst case scenarios if we went down that rabbit hole.¬† He looked at my pathetic face, told me to cry, get it out of the way, and then move on, because “it could be worse.”

Of course it could be worse.¬† There could be so many worse diagnoses we could have received.¬† I am, and was, completely aware of that.¬† Any logical person could process the fact that it could be worse.¬† But when it’s¬†your¬†baby, and someone has just blindsided you with information that you weren’t expecting, someone is telling you that your unborn child needs to get on a surgical schedule and set up appointments with specialists to do further testing, no, at that particular moment in time, it¬†couldn’t¬†be worse.¬† This is my worse.

We walked out of the office into the hallway of the medical building.¬† I told Ginge I needed to use the restroom.¬† I sat in the stall and cried… not just streaming tears, but ugly loud crying.¬† Gasping crying.¬† The kind that sounds like an animal’s dying.¬† I washed my hands, wiped my face and walked out.¬† He hugged me and told me it’s going to be okay.

It will be okay.¬† We have a journey ahead of us that looks a little bit different from the journey we¬†thought we had ahead of us a couple of days ago.¬† I’m not going to lie, I’m completely terrified.¬† Even more terrified than I was of bringing a baby¬†without¬†birth defects into this crazy world.¬† I cry when I think about bullying.¬† I cry thinking my child might speak differently or look differently and knowing there’s nothing I can do to protect him/her from the cruel kids, the social media bullying.¬† But I know this baby already has a huge support team ready to go to bat for him/her, and I appreciate that so so much.

I know I need to be strong and positive. I need to get the crying out of the way and move forward.  I can do this.  We can do this.  We will do this.  It definitely could be worse.

 


Written February 22, 2018:

I realize my last post was dark, and sad and depressing.¬† I struggled with whether I wanted to share those emotions publicly,¬† which is why I didn’t publish it originally.¬† I felt the need to write at the time though, so I did.¬† And now I feel like it’s okay to share.¬† We all go through these kinds of moments at some time or another, right?

The past few months have been an emotional whirlwind.  After I wrote the above post I gave myself exactly two more days to cry.  I decided on a Wednesday that my pity party would be over by Friday, because it was completely unproductive.

My best friends suggested I join a Cleft Support Group for moms on Facebook, and researched and sent me some groups.¬† I joined one, and lived on the page for a while, reading everyone’s accounts of their pregnancies, receiving the news, giving birth to their cleft babies, and everything to follow.¬† I found support already in that the feelings I was feeling surrounding receiving the initial news were normal.¬† The feelings of guilt, “Did I do this??” to the feeling of being letdown, and then the feeling of guilt again for feeling letdown.¬† The feeling of straight up fear of the unknown… these were all feelings that thousands of other moms also felt.¬† I’m not the only person on earth who will be giving birth to a baby with a cleft.¬† This is so much more common than I originally thought.¬† Sometimes just not feeling alone, like you’re the only one on an island that has ever gone through something, is enough to feel a bit of a sense of relief.

Telling our families and close friends was hard.¬† I cried every time I told someone… but their responses, their unwavering support and words of encouragement were so amazing.¬† I cry now as I type this.¬† Not because I am sad, but because the love is just so overwhelming (and my hormones are raging… obvi).

I’ve come to realize that this is a journey I want to share.¬† It’s not something I feel the need to hide, or keep to myself.¬† One in 700 babies is born cleft-affected, which was surprising to me.¬† It’s not as rare as I would have thought, but when we received the diagnosis I literally knew nothing about it.¬† As you can probably guess, I’m now a self-proclaimed expert (thanks, World Wide Web).

The excitement of the pregnancy and the baby to come has taken over more of our thoughts than the medical issues we will face.¬† My sister opened up our sealed gender results for us shortly after the anatomy scan appointment, decorated our dog, Oliver in color-appropriate streamers, and we found out that we be having a boy.¬† My two-year-old niece, Tess, decided to nickname him Tacos, which really, is the most perfect name I could imagine, and over the past couple of months has become so natural for us, maybe we will actually just put “Tacos” on the birth certificate and call it a day.

We have had follow-up appointments since the first scan which included a fetal echo-cardiogram and a more in-depth ultrasound at 22 weeks.¬† Since a lot of cleft-affected babies have related syndromes that could cause heart defects, we were advised that a closer look at the heart would be smart.¬† Thankfully, the heart looked great, so we are praying we are dealing with “only” the cleft.¬† We also found out the palate is most likely affected, but we won’t be able to tell how far back the cleft goes until the baby is born.¬† This week we had our first meeting with a physician at Rady Children’s Hospital.¬† We met with a geneticist, who was just wonderful.¬† She did her research on all of our medical records, and gave us an in-depth analysis of our journey to follow.¬† She told us we will be having a long-term relationship, because contrary to what most (including myself) believe, fixing a cleft is not a one-time deal.¬† Baby Tacos will have his first surgery for lip repair at 3-4 months, followed by palate repair at 9-12 months.¬† He will likely have another revision surgery before kindergarten, followed by a bone graft before his adult teeth come in.¬† He will have speech therapy services, being the flap in the palate causes speech problems, and will see an orthodontist from as early as a few days old to begin closing the gap in the gums and lips to make surgical repair easier.¬† He will likely have more surgeries up until his teenage years, and he has his “adult face,” as his face continues to grow and change.

It’s a lot.¬† It’s definitely a lot.¬† But we feel so much more equipped with knowledge and support now, and we feel so confident with the medical team at Rady.¬† As I am naturally more of the control freak and worry wart in the relationship, Ginge is the complete opposite and has taken the “everything will be ok” role.¬† This has also transitioned into the “we have plenty of time” role when it comes to renovating Tacos’ bedroom and building a crib, but I have not a doubt in my mind that he is right on both accounts.¬† Everything will be okay, and the room will be done on time (or else heads will roll).

We have now entered the third trimester and holy cannoli this baby is coming soon.¬† I’m aware that in 8 weeks when I can’t stand up from a seated position anymore, it probably won’t be soon enough, but at this point, it feels like DANG, this pregnancy is flying!¬† My mom is throwing a shower in NY next weekend to celebrate Baby Tacos, and we are so excited.

I have to say our outlook now is so bright and contrasting to my feelings a couple of months ago.¬† We will have a beautiful baby boy, and despite his minor challenges along the way, I’m confident he will bring us so much joy, and I’m hoping and praying we will figure out how to raise a baby along the way… cuz currently, I have no freakin’ clue!¬† Parenting advice will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.¬† ūüėČ

Thank you for listening to my rambling.  There will be plenty more where this came from.

xoxo

Gossip Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night We Stalked a Bachelorette Reject

I’m going to begin this post by asking to not be judged. ¬†Then I’m going to follow up that request with the realization that I’m a 34-year-old woman who is¬†still¬†obsessed with the Bachelor Franchise, and I deserve to be judged.

A few weeks ago, a notable Bachelorette/Bachelor In Paradise contestant, Chad Johnson, ¬†posted something on his Instagram which indicated he would be in San Diego making an appearance at a popular downtown establishment for Rachel’s Bachelorette season premiere. ¬†My friend Tay caught this immediately, and notified my sister and me. ¬†We made a commitment that we would be at ¬†The Tipsy Crow¬†that evening and we¬†would¬†meet Chad.

Now, to me, Chad was a very unlikable dude. ¬†He seemed disrespectful to women both on his season of The Bachelorette, and on Bachelor In Paradise. ¬†He wasn’t anyone I wanted to support in the least bit. ¬†But… being the huge nerd fan I am of the franchise in general, I obviously needed to be there. ¬†I made a calendar invite so Tay and Riss would have consistent notifications and not forget about our planned girls night, and on this past Monday morning we reconvened and were set to go.

Until…

So… then¬†I called The Tipsy Crow…

So… remember when I asked you to not judge me? ¬†Judge me. ¬†I was¬†that¬†crazy person. ¬†I called¬†the bar to make sure Chad would be there.¬†Tay and I get to the bar super early and in true form, act as if we didn’t even know there was an event going on that night. ¬†The security guards informed us the upstairs was reserved for the “Bachelorette” event and “The Bachelor” would be in attendance. ¬†I *cluelessly* questioned that …. “Wait THE BACHELOR will be here??” (not even knowing who he might be referring to), as another male security guard stepped in and clarified “a guy¬†from the Bachelorette¬†will be here… his name is Chad.” ¬†Ohhhhh we had noooo idea! ¬†The nice men lead us to the only table available in the place and told us we could order food and drinks and then if we wanted, we could go upstairs, where the Bachelorette event was being held, and where Chad would be taking photos with all the guests… once the rope was opened at 7:30.

We did just that. ¬†We sat at a table in the back, ordered a delicious tuna melt to share, and a a couple of drinks (for me)… we waited…until 7:30, then tried to walk to the front… where at this time it was a BUM RUSH of¬†*actual*¬†crazy girls, who had shown up holding roses and wearing matching Bachelor shirts. ¬†I was literally embarrassed to be grouped with such people. Tay and I had met up with my sister, Riss, as well as a few other girlfriends, and stood in a very crowded line to get upstairs. ¬†We stood in that line for the entirely too long amount of time that everyone else peaced out. ¬†One thing I have in common with Tay is that we are both¬†stubborn¬†to a fault. ¬†Did either one of us REALLY care about meeting this douchebag Chad Johnson?? NO. But were we going to wait in a never-moving line, and finally be first in the line to just leave and give up on the night?? ¬†Also, no.

I had made my sister my bartender for the night. ¬†I’d wait in this ridiculous line, and she would just continue to go to the bar and buy us drinks and deliver them to said line. ¬†At the point that Tay and I were number one on the line, they had announced that Chad wasn’t even upstairs anymore taking pictures with “fans,” but he had gone¬†downstairs to where we had just been sitting eating our food as the first patrons of the fucking night¬†because the¬†upstairs lounge was “at capacity.” ¬†I looked at Tay… “We literally couldn’t have played this worse if we tried.” ¬†She agreed.

We decided we would wait. ¬†Chad would eventually be back upstairs to the lounge to greet his “fans” and watch the premiere. ¬†I literally didn’t care about Chad, as a person, but I cared about the cause. ¬†We were here to meet him. We finally got upstairs… so did Riss. ¬†We plotted… we spotted the back entry stairway that was also roped off to only staff and decided he’d be coming back up that staircase. ¬†So we stood and waited…and waited… finally, right when the show started, I decided I was making a move. ¬†If I left down the original staircase we came up, I was told I wouldn’t be allowed back up. ¬†I informed Tay and Riss,

“I was taught by an old friend… if you want to go somewhere you are not allowed, you just need to act like you own the place, don’t look at anyone, and do it. ¬†I’m going down the staff (forbidden) staircase and I’m going to see if I can find Chad.”

They warned me I may be kicked out, but at this point I didn’t care. ¬†I descended the forbidden stairway, passing staff members sitting on it around the corner sharing dinner, didn’t look at them, and kept going. ¬†I scrounged the bar looking for Chad and couldn’t find him. ¬†I was about to go back up the forbidden stairway to let the girls know Chad was longgggg gone… when I decided I’d like to have a puff of a Black & Mild (yes, classy… I know)… so I exited out of the forbidden exit near the forbidden staircase, full-on determined I’d make it back in that forbidden door when I was done, as well as up the forbidden staircase when I got in.

What did I see outside on the sidewalk? ¬†Oh… it was CHAD in all his glory, full lights, camera, action, doing an interview. ¬†I quickly took a pic and sent it to Tay and Riss, an indication they should come down the forbidden stairway immediately, if they wanted to catch a glimpse of this hunk of meat on stilts (yes, he has the skinniest chicken legs on a man hunk you have ever seen in your entire life).

Chad was done with his interview and I overheard him saying, “Are you going to give me a good edit?? Everyone makes me look like an asshole. ¬†I don’t want an asshole edit. I want to look like a good guy”

The producer tried to make him feel ok, by telling him they’d give him a good edit, and everything is a little “give and take.” ¬†I thought… LOL they’re not gonna give him a good edit and he doesn’t like that. ¬†So I set myself into action.

As soon as he walked away from the camera, I approached him. ¬†And again, I deserve to be judged… because now I’m a straight up liar.

“Chad… Hi. ¬†My name is Courtney and I was hired to write a blog about how you’re not actually an asshole, but you’re a really good guy.”

“Oh, really? ¬†Cool!”

“Yeah, my sister and my friend are also writing the blog with me and they should be down here in a second.”

*Cue Riss and Taylor coming out of the forbidden doorway at the bottom of the forbidden staircase.

I walk quickly to them clarifying that they are also part of this very special blog highlighting how great Chad is, and they give me eyes, with agreement.

I take a selfie with Chad, *for the blog* and then I have Carissa take photos of Tay and me with Chad *for the blog.* ¬†Chad happily takes all of these photos, and then tells Carissa that she is one of the girls he’s “given a rose” to tonight. ¬†She says, “No, you didn’t give me one, but YOU SHOULD HAVE.” ¬†She then, continues to tell him he has “really skinny legs” which I’m sure he was thrilled about, shakes his hand, and we all continue on our way.

Chad continued on his way to that upstairs lounge we waited all night to see…and we continued upon our way home. ¬†It was a Monday night. ¬†What were were all doing out at a downtown bar, anyway? ¬†F-List celeb sighting… check. ¬†Ridiculous photos with F-list celeb, check. ¬†Here’s to stubbornness… and my friends.

xoxo

Gossip Girl

The Day I Found Out If I’m Asian

I grew up in a white family from Long Island.  My mom is obviously a white person, as is my dad.  I was told my dad’s family comes from Greece, and T-Diddy’s comes from Italy, so I was supposedly a pretty simple Mediterranean mix; but ever since I was young, my ethnicity was brought into question.  I remember stories of being an infant in the stroller and people asking my parents, “Where did you get her?”  Even since I was that young, I looked adopted.  I didn’t look like my white parents; I looked Asian.

The first time I remember feeling someone being prejudice towards me was in third grade.  I went to a very white school.  There was one kid in my class who was half black, and he’s the one that started it all… running through the halls, pulling his eyelids towards the sides of his head yelling “Ching Chang Chong-Courtney is Chinese!”

“I AM NOT!” was my only response.  I don’t think I believed there was anything wrong with being Chinese, but someone was calling me something I believed was inaccurate, and he was doing it in a mocking tone.  It was mean and I didn’t like it.

I continued being asked if I was Asian growing up… by everyone from my teachers, to friends, to colleagues, to random old men on the streets, to the Korean ladies who did my nails (“You just like us.  You Korean too!  You are you are!  You mommy a little Korean, isn’t she?!”)  I once had to put T-Diddy on the phone mid-pedicure to let Grace know she was definitely not Korean, and neither was I.  At some point, it stopped bothering me.  It wasn’t a mockery anymore, it was more an inquiry… and I think Asian people are beautiful!  Why should I be offended?

I’ve definitely questioned my parents…”What if I got switched up in the hospital??”  T-Diddy has consistently convinced me, “Daddy saw you coming out!  You belong to us!”  “Well maybe one of you is Asian!!!”

Then Ancestry.com becomes a thing.  You can just spit in a tube and find out where your ancestors came from!  I thought about doing it for a while.  I warned my parents the gig was up.  It was time to find out once and for all if there was some secret Asian blood hiding in there. So I bit the bullet.  I ordered the kit, spit in a little tube, mailed it back, and after a very long time (at least 8 weeks?) I got an email:  “Your Ancestry Results are In!”

I was nervous and excited to load my results.  I’m 34 years old and I’m FINALLY going to figure out if all of the random people in the world have been right… if I really am Asian!  My phone slowly loaded the results…. and…. wouldn’t ya know it???

I’m African.

I’m an African-American.  Me, little old Ching Chang Chong Chinese Courtney is an African-American woman.  Do you know how many scholarships I would have applied for had I known this information 17 years ago?  This explains my ass, that’s for sure.  Maybe this is why I’ve always felt a longing towards my homeland, and such a connection when I finally got to visit my ancestors a few years ago.

Ok I’m being an asshole.  I’m only 4% African, but that’s 4% more African than I believed I was yesterday.  This is an exciting day.  I’m just beginning to learn so much about myself and my ancestors.  The rest of the results were pretty boring: Greek and Italian… some Middle Eastern.  And… I’m zero percent Asian.  ZERO PERCENT.  

Mind boggling… truly mind boggling.  In a world full of racial sensitivity it’s really interesting to see where we all came from, and in the grand scheme of things, aren’t we all just humans? 

Peace and love…. xoxo 

Gossip Girl

 

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