Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Anniversary...

Today marks 5 years of being unlawfully married to Sara.  To be honest is hard to believe it has been 5 years already; it really does seem like just yesterday we promised to spend the rest of our lives together.  I remember so many details from the proposal to the planning to the actual day.  I always knew that someday I would get married and have children with someone, but I wasn’t one of those girls who dreamed of their wedding day.  Sara on the other hand was borderline Monica Gellar.  She knew what she wanted in a ring, a dress, and the fine tuned details that go into a wedding.  So in lieu of our special day I thought it would be great to share a recap.

The ring:  Sara talked about diamonds a lot during our dating days.  I knew nothing about diamonds except that they can cut or scratch glass. Being the geek I am, I used the World Wide Web to research how to find the perfect diamond.  I learned the “3 C’s”: Cut, Clarity, Color, the only problem is even though Sara talked all the time of what she wanted I couldn’t wrap my brain around the perfect ring for her.  So I tricked her one day when we were out and about shopping, took a specific way so we could stop at a jewelry store.  As we got closer, I was like…”Hey isn’t that where Clarkson Jewelers is? We should go in there and take a look around, what do you think?”  To a girl who loves to talk about diamonds it was an easy pitch and I don’t think she suspected a thing.  We walked in the store and start looking around. “Sara Leahy?” someone shouted from behind the counter.  It was someone that Sara went to high school with, Stacy.  It was a huge sigh of relief because I felt like everyone in the store was staring at the two girls who walked in.  Sara tried on just about every ring. Stacy and Sara were like two little girls playing with their moms’ jewelry.  I was more interested in the watches, but definitely not interested in the price tags. I asked Sara, “If you had pick one ring, what would you choose?”  She quickly went to the one she like most.  Stacy asked her, “What kind of cut and size are you looking for?” Sara told her and with that a vault door opens and here comes these individual packets of diamonds.  Next thing you know we are looking through a scope at all these different diamonds.  Sara picked the one she liked the most, Stacy wrote it down, even measured Sara’s finger, and gave prices for the different styles.  Of course the next question was, are you guys going to buy something today?  We both looked at each other and said, “No…we were just looking.”  We left shortly after that and I knew I set myself up for talking about diamonds for the next few days.  Also the talk about that is too much money, don’t ever spend that on a ring, but I really love that one. Come Monday morning I called Stacy up at Clarkson and told her to order the ring and picked the platinum setting, it was more expensive, but it was the one.  Stacy seemed super excited.  The ring would take a few weeks to arrive.

The proposal: Sara has a group of close friends called the OBG’s (Official Big Girls).  The friends range from old to new, some from high school some from college and friends of friends who are members.  Every year the OBG’s have a holiday party and ironically the party was around the same time the ring was ready. I thought using the holiday party was a perfect way to propose since all of her closest friends would be there. 

The Holiday party is a blast, each year it is hosted at the person who opens the White Elephant during the gift exchange. Everyone brings a gift for no one in particular, the gift goes into a pile, and then in one by one (in a particular order) someone picks a gift from the pile to open or steals an opened gift from someone else.  This happens until all the gifts are unwrapped and the stealing ends. Each year it seems that the rules change, but I thought it would be awesome if I wrapped the ring and somehow Sara ended up with it.  This would require some assistance from someone from the OBG’s.  I knew Sara’s best friend Cray wouldn’t be able to keep this secrete from her, but her other best friend Tom (Tommy) would be able to.  I waited until the last minute to go shopping for my OBG gift on purpose. I had some other errands to run (not really) so I told her I would get my gift while I was out.  I stopped at Target with a few gift ideas in mind, but knew I wouldn’t be able not show Sara what gift I got when I got home or she would think something was up.  So I decided I would buy two separate gifts. The two ideas I had were a Barbie or a Mrs. Potato Head.  I stopped at Target on a quest to find either one and found both.  The goal was to find something that Sara would want to steal and I wasn’t feeling the two I had in hand.  I went up and down the aisles for extra inspiration and in the clearance aisle was a Potato head family bucket.  I am not kidding Mr., Mrs., and kid Potato head in one bucket.  I was so wrapped up in this awesome find I can’t remember what my actual OBG gift exchange was.  I called Tom while I was on the way to pick up the ring and went over to his house. He was the first person to see Sara’s handpicked ring.  He cried a little.. I saw it.  I even got wedding wrapping paper instead of Christmas to wrap it because I thought it would draw Sara’s attention.  We discussed how we would fix the exchange so no matter what she would end up with that gift. I stuck the box with the ring into a Potato head butt wrapped it and Tom was going to bring it to the party.

The party this year was at Todd’s house.  Sara didn't expect a thing.  I wasn't nervous until Sara’s ex showed up to the party; it was super awkward for me. Tom had talked to Missy about the engagement, so we went over the details.  We had to sort of fix the gift exchange this year because once a gift is stolen 3 times; it becomes that 3rd person’s gift.  Sara had already been counting the gifts and realized that there was an extra gift.  She was very adamant about the extra gift; however someone came to the party without a gift so it all worked out. Sara didn't like that; you can’t bend the rules around Sara.  We made sure that Sara sat in the chair that begins the present game.  I was shocked that she didn't grab the gift wrapped in wedding paper, although she did pick it up.  The plan was whoever got the gift with the hidden ring, if it was stolen once then Tom or Missy would steal it the 3rd time.  Interestingly everyone kept avoiding the wedding paper wrapped gift…until the ex’s date grabbed it.  I am sure my face was priceless, but no worries we still had a good plan.   Missy kept talking about the Potato head family bucket, how she wanted it really bad.  Sara whispered to me…I want that so if it makes it to us, you might have to steal it.  Sweet, my plan is working she wants the heads.  The stealing was crazy this year and we went back around the circle.  Missy stole the Potato head bucket making it number 2 and Sara jumped up stole it from Missy making it number 3, so no one could steal it back, even though she ended at Sara any way.  So everything worked out. Missy told Sara, “You should get them out and put them together.  Gosh…I wanted those so bad…”  To that, Sara opened the bucket and started taking out the Potato’s.  She came across the one that was really heavy.  When she opened the butt, she was like… “What the…” and I was down on one knee.  Then in true Hamilton black cloud fashion the darned box would not come out of the butt.  Tom and I practiced this for like 20 minutes and it was flawless.  Finally I got the box out, opened it up, and asked Sara to marry me…and she said YES!

The Wedding: I think everyone expected Sara to be a Bridezilla, but she was so far from that.  We knew we up front we would be paying for the majority of the festivities out of our own pocket. We had originally thought of using some friends who were getting ready to launch a new company for party planning, but we opted for planning on our own after we saw how expensive their ideas were. I never knew flowers were so freaking expensive.   We started saving and planning early.  We got so lucky on so many levels.  It helps when you know a lot of people who know a lot of people.  When we walked into the reception site the planner knew Sara’s brother, so we got a friends and family deal on that.  We found a nice place in Tower Grove to have the wedding and it was available. A friend of mine knows an amazing DJ/Karaoke duo; they did it for free (we just tipped them well).  Sara’s sister-in-law is a photographer. My friend runs a limo place, another discount.   Tom has a flower contact and as a gift to us, Michael and Tom paid for the flowers.  One of Sara’s bridesmaids, Jami, is amazing at hair and makeup.  It was crazy how everything was panning out.  Then we went shopping at Target, Sara found these awesome dresses that would be perfect for both our bridesmaids and ironically they had everyone’s size.  Then we went to Kohls and they had a sale on shirts, so we got shirts for the brides groomsmen/women.  We did our own invitations, went to Michaels with a 40% off one item finding the ones we like and discovered at the register they were on clearance.  We went to Things Remembered to get our wedding party gifts, we got a discount there.  Sara’s brother was going to officiate our wedding.  Everything fell into place so smoothly without breaking the bank.

We had a quick rehearsal at our house the night before.  It rained all night, but that didn’t diminish anything.  I thought for sure Sara would be freaking out, but she wasn’t.  She left to stay the night at Cray's and in the morning went to Tom and Michael’s to get ready.  My brother and sister, Alex and Katelyn, were staying the night with me.  Sara didn’t know that I had planned on decorating the wedding sight with balloons, candles, and rose pedals.  Tom had brought me a few dozen white roses, so Katelyn and I started turning them into just pedals, leaving a few full flowers for decoration.  The morning came quickly. We packed up the car and headed to the city, it was raining.  First item on the check list was getting the hotel key, as we pull into the hotel parking garage Alex realizes his left his shoes at the house.  The hotel will not let me get the room because it is in Sara’s name and even though we both have a credit card with the same numbers the room is reserved on, they will not give me the key.  I call my best woman, Amy, whose house we are going to get ready and she suggests stopping at Payless, but Alex has a size too big than what they carry.  I tell her we are going to bolt home and get them, got back to the hotel to park the car, have Amy pick us up, go to the park to move the tables, then get dressed and ready.  Surprisingly we made did it all in good time.  I needed to iron everyone’s clothes and take a shower.  My other best woman Andie arrives from Chicago and we head over to the park to set things up.  I had table clothes, mirrors with candle holders, candles, rose pedals, roses, and helium balloons in our wedding colors.  How we got that all ready in time is crazy to me.  Then our families started showing up, we only has our family at the wedding ceremony.  Everyone was asking my wedding party, how’s she doing? She doesn’t seem nervous at all?  I think everyone was surprised how calm I was.  Then this idiot riding his bike pedals over to our site for whatever reason. He rolls over and pops one of the candle holders…glass everywhere.  I kept my cool, but Andie on the other hand went off, I thought she was going to tackle that biker.  She is very protective of me

I remember seeing the Limo pull up; music started and everyone took their places as Sara’s wedding party walked down the longest walking path ever.  My wedding party thanked me for not making them walk down that. Sara stayed on the Limo until everyone made it down, her song came up: ABBA – “I do, I do, I do…”, and then I remember seeing the most beautiful woman I have ever seen make her way towards me.  I still can’t believe she let me marry her.  I wrote our wedding ceremony and together we wrote our vows.  Her brother got choked up while he officiated, to hide that he laughed a little.  It was funny.  The ceremony was amazing and we all toasted at the end with the best champagne ever,  four dollar Verdi. It was way more than I imagined it to be. 

Then it was picture time.  We drove around the park and took a lot of great pictures, then around St. Louis to all the traditional wedding photo spots.  Our wedding party gifts were these stainless steel stein mugs with their initials on them. Everyone was using theirs to drink out of during the Limo ride.  When we got off the Limo at Kiener plaza there were so many other wedding parties there.  The best part was some groomsmen walking toward us complimenting our dudes….uh…um…ah...chicks for their cool steins.  Oh the facial expressions were priceless when they realized we weren't like the traditional wedding groups.  We had some girls in dresses and some in shirts and pants.  Our parties were mixed boys and girls.  It was great!  The only bad thing was our Limo didn't have a restroom, so we made a pit stop at Rue 13.  They weren't open yet, but they let us in and the owner bought us a round of shots. 

The reception:  We showed up to our reception and our wedding party seemed to have a blast on our picture outing.  They announced the wedding party into the room. We didn't have formal tables set up so everyone could sit with whoever they wanted.  We picked the Schlafly Tap room because they had an amazing area to host this special occasion and they have some awesome beer. Our main goal was for everyone to have a good time in a relaxed environment.  It was so great to see all our friends and family in once place.  We didn't do a cake cutting and shove it into each other’s faces, instead we had three different cakes sliced up and ready for eating.  We had music and Karaoke which I think I was huge hit.  We also had some wedding crashers.  Many of my friends said it was one of the best wedding receptions they had been to; even our wedding crashers I later met at a happy hour said they had a blast.  I didn't get a chance to eat any of the food because there were so many people to talk to, but I never had an empty glass.  The reception seemed to fly by so fast; in fact I thought the entire day was over before it started even with the extra little hitches.  It was purely magical from start to finish. 

Now here we are 5 years later, still in love and still magical…

Friday, September 9, 2011

Japanese Festival with Fragile X (times two)

Over the Labor Day weekend the Japanese Festival was in town at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Sara and I haven’t been since she was pregnant and we had a lot of fun, even though it was extremely hot then. We also got to attend a tea ceremony, which we waited in the heat for a few hours to enjoy. It was a great experience to say the least. This year we have membership passes to the Botanical gardens, so it makes it cheaper for us to go to special events like this. The weather cooled off and we selected Sunday as the perfect day to go. I could tell Sara was wanting the amazing experience we had a few years ago and she was hoping to get some really great pictures…a perfect opportunity to play with our new digital SLR camera. Jackson fell asleep as we got closer to the gardens and I knew it was going to be very crowded by seeing all the full parking lots. I went straight to the main lot because earlier I had requested a close spot from the Universe and so I knew we would get one. Thank you Universe we got a really great parking spot.

It didn’t take very long to get our tickets surprisingly the lines were short, but getting into the garden I could see was going to be extremely difficult. There were so many people in the main entrance and we all know how considerate people are when you have a stroller you are trying to maneuver around. It is really difficult for me not to punch someone as they rudely pass by and while doing so they give you a look. When we got inside Sara had to use the restroom, so Jackson and I parked the stroller over in a corner. It was very loud in the building and the line for the restroom looked long. I found some goldfish to attempt to entertain Jackson as we waited for Sara to finish. I could tell he was having a hard time; it definitely had to be sensory overload for him. Eventually he started thrusting forward then slamming himself into his stroller. Sara had left her purse with cell phone in my possession, so I couldn’t just take Jackson out of there I just kept giving him goldfish and tried to get him to laugh or smile. Sara finally emerged from the restroom and once we got outside and that nice cool breeze hit Jackson in the face, he was just fine. There were tents of stuff all over the place with tons of people walking around.

We agreed that taking Jackson to an open area to run around for a little bit might help his overstimulation. We found some open space, took him out of the stroller, and got the camera ready just in case there might be opportunities for some shots. Jackson was completely focused on the stroller, for whatever reason all he wanted to push it around and do nothing else. Sara was focused on getting the perfect picture, so she too was getting overly anxious. After a little while we agreed to walk further, maybe if Jackson walked and pushed the stroller he would be ready for pictures, it was obvious that now was not the time.

There are all kinds of tents and demonstrations going on throughout the park. Around each tent are herds of people. I could sense Sara’s frustrations level rise as we pass them because Jackson is on a mission to push the stroller around and Sara is on a mission to see everything. We walked right past the guy that spins things, saw a poster for a pottery demonstration that was going to happen in 15 minutes, but we couldn't stop at them we had to keep trucking on. Then we stumbled upon a path that looked less traveled. There were no festival signs pointing down this path, so we thought we could go that way for a little while to get a break away from the crowds. Jackson was now following behind me as I pushed the stroller, every now and then I would turn back and say, “Boo!” to which he would stop and laugh hysterically. When he wasn’t laughing and he was following me doing his Fragile X sound, “Ennneewwwww”. It was very loud and very constant, which isn’t normal for Jackson to do. We only hear the Fragile X sound when he is really excited, so I thought it was great to hear him using his vocalizations. You could feel the other people staring as they passed us by and at this point and time I could care less to be honest.

The path was fairly big and very green and floral, it was a beautiful setting. There was also a neat little hut thing with two chairs and a little table. I could see myself sitting there in the morning drinking a cup of coffee as the sun rises. Sara suggests giving Jackson some food, perhaps one of his Go-Go-Squeezes. Maybe he can sit in the chair as I give him a few bites and then she can quickly snap the picture. We can each take turns to try to get in with him. Jackson somewhat went for it, but that didn’t last long. He sat up in the chair all cute, took a few sitive reinforcer.
Along this path is a small garden off to the side named the butterfly garden. Sara really wants to get a picture of her in this area because the flowers are so beautiful. So we push Jackson next to me, while I give him some pretzels and snap some pictures of Sara. We also got some great pictures of a monarch butterfly who happened to be near by, I mean were in her garden. Jackson again started to thrust himself in the stroller; it is time to move on again.

We decided to walk towards the Japanese garden, our favorite place. Along the way were some Coy fish wind socks. Sara wanted to get some pictures of that, so I told her to go ahead and Jackson and I will keep walking. Jackson seems completely fine in the stroller as long as we are walking. Uh-oh there’s a fork in the path way, to the right Japanese garden and to the left…who knows. So we go up the path a little ways, and then come back to the fork. Sara isn’t too far behind so we can do this for a little while. There was a great breeze blowing, it was keeping Jackson calm. Sara is walking towards us and then he starts thrusting back and forth again. We take him out of the stroller and he is following behind me as we walk. Sara stops a few times along the way to take some pictures and we make our way back towards the entrance.

Sara has to make a pit stop at the restroom. Jackson and I walk over to this fountain while she is gone. I am finally able to distract Jackson from the stroller with the water fountain. Sara walks up and we are able to a bunch of shots of him having a blast in the water. I am still noticing people walking by and staring at us. Makes me wonder if they are staring because I look like a boy, or if they think we are bad parents for letting our son splash in the water, or is it because he is making unfamiliar noises to them. I don’t even know why I am giving other peoples ignorance a second thought here, but seriously if you want I will glad you give you a picture of my family so you can stare at it all day long. If you are really that curious, lend me your ear so I can educate you on my family and how much love we have for one another, while I am at it….I can also expand your mind and teach you about a syndrome that so many people have never heard of. Opps….sorry…tangent, but believe me I look at myself in the mirror when I am thinking all these things, trying to remember if I have ever been a person that stared at others. I am sure there has been a time or two, but I do know that my mom taught me not to judge and in my religious days the Bible taught me the only one true judge is God himself. Even though I am not walking the Christian walk theses day, I still hold that teaching true to myself, so I guess I am at fault for expecting or hoping others hold that belief too. Anyway, after several pictures at the fountain we are able to get Jackson back in the stroller and head towards the crowded tent area.

I know this is important for Sara, so I tell her I will keep Jackson off to the side so she can look through all the tents. I knew she was really excited to see the tent with all the wall hangings. She isn’t gone too long and I can see some disappointment in her face. There is one wall hanging I can see from where we are at that gave me a huge chuckle, it is a picture of Buddha and below it is a scripture from the Bible. I am guessing this is the cause of the disappointment, and I am right. HA! We got a good laugh out of it as we headed towards the food area. I pulled Jackson over off to the side because the tent with tables was so overly crowded and I knew it would be bad for us to go in there. We agreed to use the tag team method on getting food. Sara went and found something, came back to us. While she was gone I was feeding Jackson a peanut butter and strawberry uncrustable. He was half way through it when he started to put his fingers down this throat. I guess too many snacks before sandwich = belly ache. I diverted his hands quickly, but in the process got chewed up PB&J all over my hands as well as Jackson’s. Sara had walked up around that time and luckily had extra napkins. We quickly get cleaned up and Sara hands me the money and tells me to go on and get my food. Then Sara is freaked out about sitting the grass, wondering if it is wet or if bugs will crawl on her. I am worried that as soon as I walk away things will become disastrous and Jackson will stick his fingers down his throat more and throw up, so I chose to walk Jackson around the area in his stroller. He was getting super fussy and by this time my patients is maxed out. Sara was still eating and I asked her she could bring it to the car so we could load up and go. She agreed that was a great idea and to the car we headed.

We took Jackson’s wet clothes off and got him in the car. Sara sat back there with him as I drove us home. Once we were in the car, he was completely fine the entire way home. Sara was finishing up her dinner when her fork snapped in half, I think some food got flung around in the back seat and all I could do was laugh hysterically. I couldn’t help it, I had to laugh. When we got home I needed some time to myself. I went to the refrigerator and had one of those moments where nothing we had was good enough and I didn’t feel like making anything either. I hopped back into the car and got something to eat. I almost had a melt down at the drive thru moron who repeated everything back to me wrong. My dad always complained about this issue and claimed it to be the curse of the Hamilton black cloud. Luckily for the drive thru guy the food in the bag was right. The quick drive was just enough for me to calm down, when I got home I shared my vittles with my little man and lovely wife.

Man, what a day!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Softball is over, now what..

Sara and I both have our individual things we do outside the home without each other or Jackson. I think it helps keep the sanity in our house. My thing is softball. When Sara and I first met, I played softball 5 nights a week in spring, summer, and fall. Also in the fall on the weekends it was flag football. After my last knee surgery I gave football 3 more years and decided I needed to retire because it was really rough not just on my knees, but my entire body. When Sara and I started to get more serious, I wanted to spend more time with her, so I started to dwindle down my softball play. When Jackson was born I was down to two nights a week, one Co-Ed league and one women’s league. I have played for both these teams for several years. Last year the Co-Ed team folded which left me with just my girls team. I have played on this team for 10 years. We have changed our team name a few times and we league hop all around the St. Louis area. This year we came back to the city after playing at Bridgeton (BMAC) for 4 or 5 years.

My friend Sophie likes to point out that I was the first token lesbian on the team and at one point I was also the youngest, but we have adopted a few more players over the years so I am no longer the youngest and there are 2 more who ride on my side of the fence, or bats for my team as the sayings go. Any of you who know Sophie can hear her laugh about right now...

One of the best things about this woman's team is it doesn’t matter who you are, they accept everyone who comes to play with us, no matter if you are a sub or become a full time player. These woman are truly amazing and a complete blast to be around. I am so lucky to be a part of this team. Our team name speaks for what our team is about because we are “Here for Beer”. Last year I believe our team name was “AARP”. I love playing softball with these ladies. Every season we pick-up where we left off, of course our bats are little rusty, but it is like we all saw each other just last week. My summer wouldn't be complete if it wasn't for my Double D (daisy dukes) speed on the bases or Bay Watches lack there of, then again we also have a Bill Joel that runs as though she is caring that piano on her back. We laugh with and at each other so hard every week the next morning it feels like you did hundreds of sit-ups or crunches.

This year we had a lot of rainouts and a lot of forfeits, so we didn’t get to see each other as much throughout the season. We were able to muster up enough wins to get 1st place in our league and make it into the playoffs. The playoffs this year were awesome because they take the top 2 teams from each league and you play until you lose. Sadly we lost our first game, but it was a great match. We went 10 innings with one my former teams from several years ago. It was great to see the familiar faces and knew we had a run for our money.

I am sad that the season is over, even though I injured my throwing arm I wish we were still playing. The girls were talking about getting together one night a week for Yoga class, but that is so not my cup of tea. I can’t touch my toes even after stretching for hours. Seriously, can any of you see me doing a downward dog, or whatever it is called? I am trying to find something for me to do during the off season. We bought a new digital SLR camera a few months ago; perhaps I should take a photography class or something. Flag football season starts up here in a few weeks, so there will be that. Hopefully I find something in the meantime though because I am getting a little stir crazy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A possible match

We were a little leery at first on the Seroquel; Jackson was still waking up in the middle of the night.  The first few days on it was also taking us around an hour and a half to get him to sleep.   After 3 nights we emailed our FXS doctor because the half dose didn’t seem to working and we forgot to ask how long we needed to give it to see positive results. She said with the results he is having we can bump him up to a full dose and we should see good results in a few days. She also said that some of the behaviors will also decrease after a week.  I will say so far so good now that he is on a full dose.  We got 2 nights in a row, Sunday and Monday, without waking up in the middle of the night.  Unfortunately Monday night I played softball and re-injured my shoulder enough that it kept me awake all night. We have also eliminated Jackson’s nap time, which I think is helping him stay asleep. Nap time has been a struggle for awhile now anyway and he doesn’t seem to slow down in the middle of the day without one. From time to time he will take a little power naps in the car, but they don’t amount to much at all.

His behaviors haven’t increased, but they also haven't gone away.  The therapists are hoping that if we can find something he will chew on; it might decrease sticking his fingers down this throat. Sara is crafting something for him to chew on.  He used to do really well with the “P’s and Q’s”, but now he won’t wear them around his neck and for him to hold one without throwing it is impossible.  We are still working on the head banging, but it isn’t as frequent as it was on the Clonidine. Sara has been giving him deep pressure rubs and I have been playing rough and tumble and the combo of the two seems to be helping a lot. So the Seroquel so far has been very promising.