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Monday, March 30, 2009

Brain Report: TREVOR = healthy CHELSI = conflicted

Over Spring Break we went to Salt Lake City for some tests to check in on Trevor's brain since finishing all his treatments last year. And I am so HAPPY to say that Trev's doctor says everything looks PERFECT. This is such good news for us.

After the Brain MRI's and meeting with our neurology doctor who reads those MRIs. We had some more tests to do at the dreaded andrology clinic. At this moment, typing this post, I am asking myself is it kosher to talk about reproductive issues on our blog or is that simply too much information? Trev might kill me later, but I'm going to go for it. Anyone not interested in the status of the Linderman's reproductive options should stop reading right now.

See - I knew all you people were truly, sickly curious. So here it goes. Before Trev started chemo we knew there was a chance that the chemotherapy treatments would make him sterile. We weren't ready to have a baby before treatments began - nor did we have much time to even try and make that decision. So we put some of Trevor's "little guys in top-hats" (this is what he calls his sperm...don't ask...I am not sure I know the reference) on ice. We have since been paying a monthly storage fee for all of these potential children. Isn't that bizarre when you think about it? And when we were in Salt Lake City the doctor told us that we could go back into the Andrology clinic for a sperm analysis test to assess any damage done by the radiation and chemo.
It took awhile to get the results and one of the reasons that I love Dr. Jensen at the Huntsman Clinic manifested itself late last night when he took time out of his Sunday evening off to call and chat with us. He called because he wanted to tell us that all of Trevor's stuff looks great. In fact, it looks even healthier than the stuff we stored. Go figure that...apparently radioactive and poisoness materials are good for sperm? This might explain why kids can throw such powerful fits on occasion. They are radioactively enhanced.

We were happy to hear this...but Dr. Jensen's parting words have set my mind spinning and I am finding myself in a very conflicted space right now. As we said goodbye Dr. Jensen says, "So happy to share that good news with you guys, and I wanted you to know right away so you could work on having a baby."

Now - I am sure Dr. Jensen assumes this is what we want since we have been asking questions about it at our appointments. But the thing is, I am not sure what I want right now. And I am normally a gal who knows exactly what she wants and dives headlong in to get it. So being so confused and conflicted is not sitting well with me. I imagine that this is what my brain looks like:

The question of the hour is "Do I, Chelsi Linderman, want to have a child?"
And sometimes I think the answer is yes. And sometimes I think the answer is no. How do you ever make such a big decision? It does not help that so many of my dear friends and family are having babies now. Many of my childhood friends are having their THIRD child now or already have three kids. I see all of these sweet babies and listen to pregnancy stories and I swear it makes some biological urge in me think, "Oh, I want a baby." And then I am even more confused. So I am banning everyone I know from having babies until I know what I want. Yup - me and the Chinese government are now regulating population.

I can count on a single hand the number of close friends I have that are still working and kidless compared to the many, many others I know and love who are doing the Mom thing. I don't think one is better than the other, that one is more right than the other. I just think that I don't know what I want.

Having a baby means a serious lifestyle change. It means a financial change. It means a staying out to three AM just because we can change. Having a baby means it is suddenly not just about us and what we want anymore.

I worry that it means no phd degree - even though I DREAD going back to school. I worry it means no more crazy spur of the moment road trips or much more traveling, things that I LOVE doing. And even if we can still do these things it undoubtedly limits and changes the experience in some way.

Moreover, I am extremely selfish with my time. I like to have my own life, my own space, my own hobbies and I treasure my solitude and my days that are all to myself while Trev is at school or work. I like my house spic and span. I like my cars clean. I like to take two hours to get ready on occasion. I like to spend half a day cooking some great, gourmet meal. I know that having a baby means sacrificing a lot of myself. And I don't know if I am mature enough or ready to make said sacrifices.
Plus, I think I have time. Why am I in a hurry? I am young. We only want two kids - three at the most - so why am I thinking about it now? It isn't wise for my career. It may just not be the time.

Additionally I am terrified of hopelessly screwing up another human being, scarring them for life and having them grow up to be some hateful, spiteful, non-productive person. Though, on a lighter note, I think the following cartoon is hilarious and because Trev and I are so politically, culturally obsessed I can absolutely imagine our potential children having this conversation:
So - If my head knows all of these things, why do I still think that I want a baby? I cannot reconcile how this makes sense. It sometimes feels like two very different people inhabit this singular body of mine.

I think Trev feels these things too. Luckily, we seem to balance out each other's momentary declarations of "I want to have a baby." When I say it he is in no-baby mode and when he mentions it I am in a don't-go-there attitude. My sister in law, Stacey, might have hit the nail on the head when she told my mother-in-law, "Trevor and Chelsi are the kind of people who will just have to accidentally get pregnant. They will be fine and happy with it if it happens, but if they have to plan it and make a conscious decision they will always talk themselves out of it." Maybe this is who we are. I don't know, and I don't know what I want.

I do know that none of you, dear readers, have the answer for me. I do know ultimately this a choice we either make or do not make. I do know this post is of a much more personal nature than most others. I just have all these thoughts buzzing. And while it would probably be wiser to write them down in a composition notebook and stuff them in a shoebox under a bed somewhere rather than release them into the world, with the next click of my mouse I am doing exactly that. Thank you world, for listening.

Today's Pet Peeve

I decidedly have a problem with this: I know that I might be asking for avid refutation here (Di - I am waiting) but I need to vent for a sec. I have a serious problem with my students wearing I-pods in my class.

Don't get me wrong. I like music. I like the concept of the Ipod. There are certainly times where I need to close out the world and listen to Paint it Black or moments when good old cheesy chick music (Cher, Kelly Clarkson, The Bengals...) really make that last mile on the jogging path doable. I love being able to throw the Ipod in my ears with a good Audio book while I mow the lawn or clean my house. I appreciate that Ipods and their buds are smaller and more user-friendly than the big old bulky Walkman headphone sets we used to hang around our necks when I was a kid. But there has got to be some etiquette to wearing these things in public, in certain places and this is what I have a problem with.

So much so a problem that I have tried to make it really clear in my syllabus that I don't want to see buds in ears during my class.

Yet - I have a selection of students who continue to wear them.

I don't understand this - and to be frank it really ticks me off. I mean that REALLY ticks me off, especially the following that happen to me on a regular basis:

I would rather a student not come to class then come and listen to their I-pod for an entire lecture, then when they are told to do some in-class activity have them finally take their buds out of their ears, raise their hands and say, "What do you want us to do?"

Students who come to talk to me in my office, take one bud out of their ear and while their music is still blaring proceed to ask questions, until I say "Can you turn that off? It is distracting."

Students who sit in fabulous academic presentations put on by professionals that the College pays good money to host - probably because they are required to be there for class - and instead of trying to get anything out of the presentation they slouch back with their Ipod in.

Students who sit and spin their ipod dial while I am talking directly to them - and they never break eye contact with their playlist.

Students who post WikiHow articles on how to get away with wearing your Ipod in class.

So - I ask you - is it me? Have a I become a stuffy, old-fashioned school marm? Or is there something that seems outrageous about the idea that we now have to continually be stimulated by music 24-7? Am I wrong for seriously toying with the idea of taking note of which students have their I-pods on during class and then emailing them later that night to tell them I just reduced their participation grade by 25% since Brittany Spears "Womanizer" is somehow more educational than our discussion on Annie Dillard's narrative technique and non-traditional essay structure?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Souvenirs of Trevor's Past

"Keep some souvenirs of your past, or how will you ever prove it wasn't all a dream?" ~A.B.

Last time we were in Idaho Trev and I sorted through his bedroom at his Mother's request. I think I have mentioned before how my husband is a saver of old things. I had no idea until we sorted out three boxes of childhood memorabilia: certificates, pictures, school work, old love notes. WOW!

Lucky lady that I am I have now become responsible for these things. And Trev is not throwing any of it away. After going a couple rounds about the fate of his boxes (Is it really necessary to save every math homework sheet from the 6th grade?) we have settled on the following agreement. I will organize and "scrapbook" ('not really scrap-cutesey scrapbook, but rather organize in albums' - Trev's description of what I am allowed to do) all of his memories.

I was feeling like this would be doable until I busted out the first box and began sorting last
night. Now my living room looks like this.
I CANNOT believe the stuff this boy has. Trev has anxiety about me being in his things. He is paranoid that I will throw something away (something I am dying to do but won't dare) he grouses around complaining that I am messing up his "stuff." This drives me crazy because he does not even know what he has and I keep trying to tell him that he will love it when I am finished (maybe in 100 years...and that might just be sorting it)

I complain, but I have been enjoying it - especially when Trev is at work or school - I have learned such funny things about my husband from the time he was a little boy. I have found darling picutres and little gems like his childhood journal, oringal spellings and capitalization in tact:

Feb. 22, 1994 (Ten years old) today we had the blue and gold bancet. I served mom. I wore my faith in God award for the first time. it was fun. We ate lasonia. By the way did I tell you that Justin likes a giril or used to like Linzzey Lofgen (our dr.s daghter) and jeniffer Call. Back to pack night. it was a great party. Dad is the cub master. Next mouth is the pinewood derby.

Anyway, I am posting this up here for three reasons. One - becuase I feel I deserve sympathy and awe for taking on this incredible project. 2 - becuase and I am wondering if any old friends who read this can take a stab at what year the following school picutre is from. And 3 - because I want to ask a favor from all of you who know and love my husband. I think it would be fun to include snippets of other's memories in his albums. Can you either leave me as a comment, or email me at your favorite memories of Trev? You are all amzing. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Welcome to the Middle

Indulge me in a bit of complaining if you will.

It seems that I am entering many middles in my life. And I have to say, I am not a big fan of any of said middles today.Middle Enemy Number One: The middle class.

Congratulations! Trev and I officially entered the middle class tax bracket this year, as we discovered last night while doing our taxes at the College. Apparently, we are no long poor college students, and now we actually must begin to PAY and OWE taxes! My complaints aside, we actually did ok on our tax refund, especially, according to our accountant, considering the amount of money we made this year. I was just beginning to feel better when the next words our of his mouth were, "By next year though the government really wants you to buy a house and have a kid in order to get a decent refund."

Blah. Blah to houses and kids (no offense to all the wonderful moms I know). Blah to taxes. Blah to being in the middle class.

Middle Enemy Number Two: Middle Age.

Yes. I am still on the downside of the middle age scale. But - my body is getting older and it is CHANGING! and I hate it and am miserable. My entire life I have been blessed with an awesome metabolism that pretty much allowed me to eat whatever I wanted, never exercise and stay a size 2. But this year something has changed, and wiggling into a trusty-used-to-look-awesome-on bikini to go swimming yesterday made it all to apparent that for really the first time in my life I am gaining weight, and said weight is not settling in any place I want it to. Mostly on my toosh and my gut. BLAH!!! And since I am planning on a lot of swimsuit appearences while cruising through the Mexican Riveria I have forced myself to launch onto a strict exercise program and to ignore the carmel Ice Cream in the freezer that I love. So depressing. I am taking suggestions, by the way, on toning up that toosh and gut issue. Any ideas?

So - here is to the Blah Middle. A place I decidedly hate today and must unfortunately remain for another 25 years.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Project : I've Been Everywhere Man - One Crazy Idea

Most of you who know me well know that I am a travel junkie. I would sell my kidney for a trip to Europe (yes -I have actually looked into this) I would work double crap jobs to scrimp together funds for a crap hotel and an awesome cultural endeavor somewhere. I have regulated our meals to beans and rice in anticipation of a Mexican Riviera Cruise in two months.

Trev was amazed the first time that he flew anywhere with me, while airports drive some people nuts it is an absolute HIGH for me to be in one. I am a travel toker.

I really do LOVE to go. I have been incredibly fortunate in my life to be able to travel quite a bit. I have been to parts of Canada and Mexico, I have been to England and France, lived in Russia and backpacked most of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and Sweden) and spent a much too short weekend in the Czech Republic. I have been to Hawaii twice - two different islands, I have traveled across the US - spent time in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh (so not the City of Brotherly Love BTW). I spent a month in New Haven Connecticut and I have hopped, skipped and jumped all over the western states: Utah, Idaho, California, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming and Montana. But the more I see, the more I want to see, and the more I realize how much I haven't seen.

So it was only natural for me to make the following leap while Trev and I hit the highway this Spring Break and were discussing classic songs we like:

T: "Johnny Cash - You gotta love Johnny Cash"
C: "Yes. He is Classic."
T: "I really like his cover of 'Hurt'"
C: "I like most of his songs...Ring of Fire, Walk the Line, I've Been Everywhere..."
T" "Boy Named Sue, Folsom Prison Blues..."
C Interrupts: "We should totally do that!"
T: "Huh?"
C: "We should go everywhere in Johnny Cash's song 'I've Been Everywhere Man'"
T: "Um...yeah...."

But I am so excited that I am already calling my sweet sister-in-law, Stacey, asking her to look up the lyrics on the net and read me the names of the places across North America mentioned in the song. And then I am CRAZY excited because oddly "Rexburg" and "Cedar City" somehow made it onto Cash's list (mostly because they rhyme or add to the alliteration of the song lyrics - but still...). I am going on and on, telling Trev about all the places and about how we can already cross Chicago off our list because we spent ten days there last summer.

We discuss how we could take photos at each location and then set them to the song in an entirely awesome slide show.

He gets a little excited - mostly to humor me. I am planning KOA road trips - planning out the cheapest ways to get back east and talking, talking, talking.

I then try and talk him into stopping off through Cedar City, Utah on our way home so I can snap our first "Project: Go Everywhere" picture. It was a bit snowy, windy and cold and he did not want to get off - but swerved off the exit at the last second and here we are!!!
Ripsi looks goofy - but I am pretty pleased. I am already working on mapping out a quick detour to Bakersfield, CA when we drive down to catch our Cruise.

And who knows, maybe after we check off North America we can work on the Australasian version..."I've Been Everywhere, Mate" anyone want in?

Oh - And just so you know....Here is the list of places I want to work on...

Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocopilla, Barranquilla, Padilla, Boston, Charleston (not specified whether it's Charleston, WV or Charleston, SC), Dayton, Louisiana, Washington (not specified whether it's Washington D.C. or Washington state), Houston, Kingston, Texarkana, Monterey, Ferriday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa, Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa, Tennessee, Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake, Grand Lake, Devils Lake, Crater Lake, Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika, Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica, Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport, Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport, Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina, Pasadena ,Catalina, Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado, Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, El Dorado, Larimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chatanika, Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika, Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Sioux City, Cedar City and Dodge City.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Perfect Picnic Day

Tuesday morning, before leaving for school, Trevor made the following request:
Could you pack a picnic lunch for this afternoon?

I could and I did. When Trev came home he told me that we would be driving a half hour northwest to the Baker Reservoir Recreation Area Campground. It is one of the spots we have been thinking of going camping over Spring break (a yearly tradition) and he wanted to scout it out. I was so exited. Picnics with my husband are always so sweet and romantic. They are some of my favorite memories we have together so we loaded into the car and headed out.This is me in charge of the "destructions." This is a term we have coined for anytime that I am in charge of technical instructions or directions....'cause well, that is pretty much what you get with me. Any of you who are on my "I'm calling because I am lost, pulled over on the side of the road and wondered if you could do a map quest for me..." can attest to this.

Here is Trev, still navigating successfully even though I am holding the map the wrong way.

And here is Ripsi - this is my favorite "dog face" that she makes. She was pretty excited to go.

We found the campground and it is GREAT! I am so excited to camp there. I really do love the desert. It is so beautiful in an empty sort of way. It is odd to feel so connected to a place that has so little in it. But it really is incredible. Baker Reservoir is close to Snow Canyon, and the red rocks are amazing - it is also just past the little town of Veyo - which means Volcano in the Native Ute language. Veyo is all black rock and surrounded by little, ancient volcano cores. It is incredible in an obsidian, charcoal tone. I love it all.

Here is our picnic, and Ripsi's picnic. Trev and I also have a tradition of bringing a book to a picnic and spending time reading out loud to each other in the sun. (The first time we ever did this we read The Godfather out loud for two hours on top of the Wind Caves in Logan). Today I picked, so we read quite a bit of Milton's Paradise Lost (AMAZING!!!) and some of John Donne's poetry as well as Herrick's "Julia poems" because they make me laugh.
After eating we left the campground and went down to the reservoir. Ripsi loved this because she has to be on a leash or lead at the campground, but can run like a maniac at the reservoir.
We played fetch for a little while, and while we were playing I just happened to catch our incredibly dorky dog on video doing three goofy things. Sometimes she gets super excited and becomes an absolute nerd.

I love that first she zooms by Trev when bringing back the ball, then gets so excited she forgets how to run. But my favorite part is when she is fetching the second throw and suddenly notices the back door to the expedition is wide open - which usually means she gets to go somewhere. If I may take the artistic liberty to imagine, I think her thoughts must have been:
Get the ball
Get the ball
Get the ball
Get the...door!
The car door is open!
We are going somewhere
And there she goes, into the back of the expedition. Totally forgetting to bring the ball back. Just making sure she doesn't miss the next adventure. Goofy dog.All in all we had a great day, we came home tired and happy. Ripsi was clearly worn out - she didn't move a muscle the entire ride home. What a great idea Trev, and what a perfect day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another blanket for another baby

Seems like everyone is procreating lately. Babies are being born more quickly than I can put something together to appropriately welcome them to the world. After all, what better welcome is there than a snuggly blanket? In fact, I think anytime we go anywhere new throughout our life we should be given snuggly blankets. New job? Welcome to the office, here is a silky lap quilt. New neighborhood? Forget casseroles and cookies, bring me fleece throws and flannel wraps. There should a special line at Customs for those entering a country for the first time, "Eh, Welcome to Canada, enjoy this bit of downy comfort on us."So, sweet little baby boy of a dear friend, welcome to the world - here is a snuggly blanket.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Modern Food Storage for a Modern Girl

I worry about food lately. I seem to buy into the whole "The economy is never going to recover" panic passed around by our current government officials on at least a subconscious level, and lately I find myself waking up in middle of the night trying to think of ways that Trev and I can cut back, ways we can save more money and be prepared for whatever curve ball life probably has up its sleeve with our name on it.

I worry - but I have not slipped over to the dark side of all-out crazy. Case in point, I was just talking with a friend who has a friend who went out and bought a case a cigarettes for her food storage and food supply, even though no one in her family smokes. This chick's reasoning was this:
"If everything collapses my family can barter cigarettes for food. Because people are so addicted they will trade for nicotine."
I'm sorry, but C-R-A- Z- Y!!! There are so many things wrong with this sort of self-righteous reasoning that I can't even begin to go into to it all.

So I am not crazy. But I am concerned. I think it is a good thing to be self-provident and prepared for whatever happens. I am not predicting the end of the world, some major natural disaster or that the US is going to turn into the USSR at its worst. But what if I lose my job? What if Trev can't find a job when he graduates? These things make me nervous.

And because I worry I obsess and to keep from slipping over to that crazy realm I have to refocus my mind onto something productive. So - this brings me to food storage. In the event that future financial circumstances bar us from our weekly trip to the grocery store, I am trying to slowly stockpile food.

The problem is that I don't really know where to begin, and now that I have sort of begun I don't have a system...and I am a girl that needs a system.

Each time I go to the grocery store I try to buy one "food storage" item to put in our basement (Trev, his dad and our friend Vance built me some AMAZING shelves). Usually these are items that are on sale or that I have coupons for. So far I have a case of canned chicken, lots of cans of corn and green beans (20 each). Chicken broth, beef broth, some canned soup, flour, salt, ten cans of olives, 5 cans of refried beans, 4 cans of pineapple, 4 jars of peanut butter and one jar of Alfredo sauce. We also have some jars of beets, prunes, green beans, venison, and tomato's. I also have 10 jars of Pringles, 3 bags of flour, 2 bags of sugar, four gallons of drinking water, 3 jars of coconut syrup and 15 cake mixes.

Here is my biggest problem: I believe food storage should be used. I want our food supply to be things that we actually eat on a regular basis - and I just want it to be a stockpile of those things. I want to eventually have enough things on hand that we could use to make meals for two or three months, and maybe someday even have enough for a whole year. But- as i look over my little supply I am pressed to come up with many meals. After all, I don't think I would ever serve pineapple tidbits and canned beets with Alfredo sauce over them. And if I did, I am doubting we would eat much of it.

I don't want to be storing gallons of oats and grains that I don't know how to use.

I also have a really hard time buying lots of preserved foods. I have a sort of hyper-fear of additives and preservatives. Most of the produce/meat I use I either buy fresh weekly or I know where the meat came from (ie, Trev shot it or my dad raised and butchered it). I don't use a lot of "already prepared" packaged or frozen foods. I do not believe in Roman Noodles, Cup-of-Soups or anything of that nature that can last on a shelf for 50 years. And I usually HATE anything that comes from a powder (boxed potatoes especially!)

So here is what I need:

  • Food storage item suggestions that we will actually regularly rotate and eat that can make meals

  • Food storage that is "healthy" and doesn't freak my organic-inclined pallet out.

  • A way to keep track of what I have so I can remember to use it when cooking everyday and can then remember to replace it next time I am at the store. (This Especially!)

  • Other things that we should just buy when they are on sale and have a stash of - ie shampoo, hydrogen peroxide, medicine...

Finally, as a silly side note, I was picking through some old cookbooks at my house that my grandparents or great-grandma must have used when I cam across a 1974 cookbook with the following listed in the canning section:

How to Preserve a Husband: Be careful in your selection. Do not choose too young. When selected, give your entire thoughts to preparation for domestic use. Some wives insist upon keeping them in a pickle, others are constantly getting them into hot water. This may make them sour, hard, and sometimes bitter; even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good, by garnishing them with patience, well sweetened with love and seasoned with kisses. Wrap them in a mantle of charity. Keep warm with a steady fire of domestic devotion and serve with peaches and cream. Thus prepared, they will keep for years.

It made me laugh. I really appreciate any help and suggestions I know you guys all have. I am one lucky chick to have friends that are smarter than me!