Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Post 100!

We went to the doctor again today. Baby is happy and healthy and alive and kicking! They couldn't get the heartbeat by doppler, which apparently is very common this early on in the pregnancy (especially given my weight), but of course, I panicked, so they did an ultrasound. The little one was right there, looking more human than ever, heart beating strong. He/she had a hand up, as if to say "Hey!" It reminded me a lot of when we had our first look at Brian. We are both getting a feeling that this may be a girl, but who knows, really. Surgery will be in 4 weeks--they are scheduling it with the hospital and will call me with the date in the next couple of days. I am freaking out a little bit, but I know it's worth it in the end.

Friday, December 08, 2006

"Strawberry Fields is anywhere you want to go."

My hero too.

- Jim
The Day the Music Died
In Memory of the greatest musician of all time and my hero, John Lennon, who died 26 years ago today.

NEW YORK - John Lennon's widow is calling for the anniversary of his death to become a day of worldwide healing.

In a full-page advertisement appearing Sunday in The New York Times, Yoko Ono urges readers to mark the anniversary by apologizing to those who have suffered because of violence and war.

"Every year, let's make December 8th the day to ask for forgiveness from those who suffered the insufferable," writes the musician's widow, who signs the letter with the name Yoko Ono Lennon.

In the open letter, Ono urges readers to take responsibility for failing to intervene on behalf of victims around the world.

"Know that the physical and mental abuse you have endured will have a lingering effect on our society," she writes in a portion of the letter directed to victims. "Know that the burden is ours."

Ono was with the former Beatle when he was gunned down as he returned home from a recording studio on Dec. 8, 1980. The shooter, Mark David Chapman, remains in New York's Attica state prison. His fourth request for parole was denied last month.

Of her own loss, Ono says: "I don't know if I am ready yet to forgive the one who pulled the trigger. ... But healing is what is urgently needed now in the world."

"Let's wish strongly that one day we will be able to say that we healed ourselves, and by healing ourselves, we healed the world."

Friday, December 01, 2006

At about 4:20PM we went for a drive around town to take some more pictures. Here they are!

N.B.: Ignore the different date on these - I had to date them the 2nd to post them seperately from the ones taken earlier.

Tremont Under Snow


Wow!!! Winter has most emphatically "taken a seat" here in Tremont, Illinois! Yesterday at about 8:00PM, after a day of freezing rain and temperatures between 25 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2-4 Celsius) it began to snow, and did not stop until about 11:00AM this morning.

Amy was due at work at 7:45am today - luckily I had a day off - so we rose at about 7:25am and went out to exhume the car. As soon as I started scraping and shoveling, I became quite convinced that Tremont United Methodist Childcare Center would be Amy-less, if not entirely staff-less for the day, but from her vantage point inside the car (a crucial difference!) Amy thought we could make it out. And she was right, and so was I. What does that mean? It means we made it about eight feet out, before the car ran aground (or "asnow") and Amy's phone rang. It was 7:43, and it was Jennifer, the manager of the Childcare Center, to tell Amy that school was called off. I have never desired to actually murder anyone - something I like to mention on my resume - but at that moment my numbed, frostbitten hands could easily have scuttled down to the Methodist Church and strangled Jennifer. Had that happened, I don't think I could have been held responsible. My hands however, would have been sentenced to anything from 15-25 years, and I would have had to visit twice a month, and smuggle in little bottles of peony moisturiser inside cakes, and my hands would have a simply awful time. You know hard it is to play the harmonica without lips? Anyway, almost 12 inches of snow fell last night, and the result was pretty spectacular, and spectacular, and also pretty. You might remember THIS POST HERE from back in March when we were in Hopedale. Well, as the pictures below show, we got a little more of the frozen stuff this time.

Here are some photos for you all!

"Let it snow, let it snow, let it... stop!"

Hope you enjoyed them! We may take a few more later, and stay tuned: we have a special baby scan and Christmas tree double-posting coming very soon! Until then, hope you are all well and safe.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sorry to get a little . . .well . . .irritable in my last post. It wasn't directed at anyone personally. I just feel angry sometimes that I have to apologize for my feelings about my son, and that isn't ya'll's fault . . .it seems a lot of the time that the people around me (IRL, or "In Real Life"hehe) have decided not only that I am not allowed to talk about it, but almost that I shouldn't be "dwelling on it" anymore. They also intentionally leave me out of things because they think I am "negative" or bring people down. So that hurts. But I am coping, and it's ok. It's just difficult, and this is, as April said (thank you for understanding, April) my "house." It's my place to think aloud and share some of what is in my heart.

Tonight we had a Thanksgiving Service at church. It is a mixed service with us (the Baptists) and the Methodists. I had never been to one of them before tonight, and I was pleasantly surprised. It was quite nice. One of the things we did was write down what we were thankful for, and then at the end of the service, the congregation was invited to share what they'd written if they felt lead to. It was quite touching, the things that people said. Jim and I did not choose to share with the congregation at large, but rather with each other. I thought that what we wrote was so nice it deserved sharing, so I am sharing it here.
~I am thankful that the man I love made it across 6,000 miles and the wide ocean to be with me now.
~I am thankful that no matter how much I hurt, my child in Heaven never will.
~I am thankful for this new life--our 2nd child.
~I am thankful we will all be a family together one day.
~I am thankful for New Life.
~I am thankful for the power to keep going when the needle points to "E."
~I am thankful that I can still feel love.
~I am thankful for melodies which keep me company when I am in loveless places.
Just Knowing You Were Beneath the Same Sky

Thoughts about my son . . .

I never realized how hard it would be to be pregnant again. The last thing I can remember is singing to Brian, and writing him letters, and talking to him . . .and now he is gone. I don't know how to bond with this child yet. I love him/her . . .and I'm obviously thrilled to be blessed again with this life growing inside of me. . .but I just miss my son and I want him back. I still don't quite know how to move on from that. It also feels like self-preservation not to get too attached too soon, because I don't want to hurt like this again.

It's funny too, because other people don't seem to share the joy this time either. They are afraid to "act happy" now that we are pregnant again. One woman just flat-out ignored me the other day, like . . ."don't want to jinx her!" Others act like it's not real until the baby arrives. This doesn't make it any easier.

I found a song tonight, and I want to share the lyrics. Maybe that will give you a glimpse of how I'm feeling. A while back, I got a lot of comments from people saying that my posts were "too sad," or suggesting that maybe I should get counseling or go to a support group . . .basically, talk to people who understand, not us, because we want fun stuff and happy thoughts. So I mostly try to talk about the good things in my life, because there ARE good things, and many of them. But that doesn't mean that every single day that goes by, I don't miss my firstborn child, and wish he were a part of this world. It hurts every day, and so for now, I'm not going to lie about that.

Goodbye for Now
by Kathy Trocolli
I can't believe that you're really gone now.
Seems like it's all just a dream
How can it be that the world would go on
When something has died within me
Leaves will turn, my heart will burn
With colors of you
Snow will fall, but I'll recall your warmth
Summer wind, breathing in your memory
I'll miss you

But there will be a time
When I'll see your face
And I'll hear your voice
And there we will laugh again
And there will come a day
When I'll hold you close
No More tears to cry
'Cause we'll have forever
But I'll say Goodbye for now

I can't imagine my life without you
You held a place all your own
Just knowing you were beneath the same sky
Oh what a joy I have known
On rainy days, in many ways
You'll water my heart
On starry nights I'll glmipse the light of your smile
Never far from my heart

You'll stay with me
So I'll wait...for now

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hey everyone!


Just to 'formally announce', for anyone who doesn't know yet, that we found out this week that we are once again expecting! Our due date is July 23rd, 2007. That's the day after my brother Ali's birthday, the 204th day of the year, and 155 days till Christmas for all you Gregorian calendar fanatics. We are too delighted for words right now, while also a feeling a little trepidation, and hopes that the early stages go as they should. We (I say we, but Amy went through most of the uncomfortable stuff...) had our first appointment with Dr. Harrington in Pekin yesterday, and so far everything looks to be nicely in order, so thus far thus goodly.

Phew... July 23rd 2007 seems a long way away, but it's been nine months since we found out Amy was pregnant with Brian, and it certainly doesn't feel like that, unless I picture all the time I've spent working at Wal-Mart, in which case I feel like a very old man. Hehehe (cough, cough, wheeze).

Speaking of Brian, we feel that to find out now, in the week Brian was due, makes a wonderful circle to include him. The fact that our new due date is almost exactly a year after Brian was born, too, only adds to that feeling of timeliness. It was odd that when Amy and I first found out one of the things I wanted to do first was go look at our pictures of Brian and found myself mentally checking with him, in a way, to see if it was okay to feel excited. And in a very tangible sense I experienced the overwhelming feeling that he is part of this, and as excited for us as... well... us!

As I said, both of us -but Amy especially - are quite nervous at this point, so any prayers or good thoughts you send our way are welcome and very much appreciated. I'm thinking that when we lost Brian, we must have received support from every person who will be reading this blog right now, so from both of us to you, a huge thank-you. The love we felt from all of you helped bring us to where we are today, feeling so happy, and looking to the future.

And so the journey begins... :)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I hope you all voted.

Here's something to remind you why it's important:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This is a link to the funniest and cutest thing I've ever seen. You have to check it out!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jim's Quote of the Week!
No.1 in a very occasional series.

Announcer on Sci-Fi Channel's Extreme Championship Wrestling describing how a competitor fell to the canvas:

"Oh my God, that was like the damn Lindenburg going down."

We had our class Halloween party at school yesterday. The kids were adorable. Just thought I'd share their cuteness with you.This table features Captain Jack Sparrow (David), Red Power Ranger (Bryce), construction worker (Kyle), Jessica from Lazytown (Mya), and Cinderella (Morgan).

This table features Dora the Explorer (Josie), another Red Power Ranger (Ryan), an Asian Princess (Maggie), Superman (Carson), Spiderman (Marco), and Woody from Toy Story (Zak).

And the cutest of all . . .Zakariah (from my class) and his little brother, Ezekiel (Zeke) as Buzz and Woody. Awwwwwwwww!

Friday, October 27, 2006

In the dark times
Will there be singing?
Yes, there will be singing
About the dark times.

- Bertholt Brecht

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Hello everyone! Hope you're all doing okay.

For those of you who don't know, on Tuesday 17th October Amy and I had to be in Chicago, the Windy City (more damp on this occasion) to attend an interview with the USCIS regarding my Adjustment of Status from "Legal Alien with Permission to Work" to "Conditional Permanent Resident" And, for those to whom that sounds like Eastern European rap, I thought I'd explain the progression - but later.

The day started with a bang. Amy picked me up from work at noon, and we went straight to the bank in Tremont to draw the necessary funds for our trip. Unfortunately, we ran over a nail in the parking lot and blew our left rear tire. Oops! After we were annoyed, we were immensely grateful that it had happened in Tremont, not halfway to Chicago, and went right to Conoco where they mended it. Phew! So, as I said, the day started with a bang. Like, an actual bang. D'you see? Like, the tire actually went "bang". Oh me...

We decided before we went that rather than try and drive into downtown Chicago we would stay in a Super 8 in Naperville/Aurora Monday night, and catch the Metra commuter express train from Aurora to downtown Chicago in the morning. We had stayed in this particular Super 8 before, and with the exception of a non-functioning pool, we thought we remembered it being a fairly okay place to stay. Indeed, everything looked fine until, after being there for 1/2 hour or so, we went down to the car to get our swimsuits, and were confronted by a group of guys assembled in the lobby, all of well above average height and weight, and one woman with them who looked to be directing them in some sort of operation rather than, say, waiting for more towels. I spotted the woman had a walkie-talkie and told Amy I thought they might be cops, both because of that, and for the following reasons:

1. To see one 350 pound, six-foot-seven-tall guy in a hotel lobby is unusual. To see two is surprising. To see four together is cop-like.

2. There was a woman with them, and she didn't look as if she was about to remove any clothing whatsoever (thus negating the stag-night theory.)

3. CLINCHER: There was a man in body armor coming towards the hotel.

Amy and I about-faced in the same way that Maddie does when you call her and she spots the bottle of dog-shampoo in your hand, and headed back into the hotel. The guys were still there, and the desk-clerk looked on with the kind of expression you see on people who... well, on people whose hotel is being raided by cops. As we made for the lift one guy broke away and followed us to the lift. As I said, he was of a certain build that is described best by saying that it causes, in most men of normal height and weight, an overwhelming compulsion to offer to shine that person's shoes. As we waited for the lift, he turned to us and asked if we'd been staying here long, and told us that it was okay, that they were "just arresting people". We nodded, and said "Ahh..." and then Amy asked if we were safe. He gave a sort of half-shrug, and a "Hmm..." then replied "So long as you don't pull out a gun, otherwise we'll shoot you," to which we both nodded and said "Ahh..." again - this time with just a little added vibrato. When we arrived on our floor we were slightly perturbed to see the door opposite our room open, and as we passed it to go back into ours we heard the words "Did you get it all?" and "You want the rubber gloves?" These snatches of conversation was more than enough encouragement to first call the Super 8 customer service line where we received absolutely no help or assistance whatsoever, then pack up our stuff and move to another hotel.

After stopping at a Hallmark to get directions from a lovely lady who described herself as a "people person" which meant she liked to talk very much indeed, and an equally sweet old Asian lady who drew us a slightly confusing map and told us of a hotel where we could stay two-weeks for $100.00 (wow! - no thanks though!) we arrived at the hotel of our choice, an Extended Stay America, which was not only a much nicer room (see photo below) cheap ($71.50) quiet (shhh... listen...) but also absolutely spotless. So in the event, we felt that - for us, if not for those being arrested - the police raid was a blessing, as we settled down for our evening.

Anyway, I promised I would explain; after eight months of interviews, medical tests, and paperwork in England, when I came over and Amy and I got married I had to apply for my EAD (Employment Authorization Document - not a Green Card!) and concurrently, for Adjustment of Status, which 'adjusts' me from Legal Alien to Lawful Permanent Resident. This required sending a 50-some page packet of 'evidence' to show we were married, how much we earned, that I had never been arrested for anything, that we were living together as a couple, that we earned above the government poverty guideline... etc. Well, after the USCIS decide your application looks solid, they call you and your spouse to an interview, which was why we were in Chicago. If the interview stage is successful, they then grant you Conditional Permanent Resident status for two-years - conditional because during that time any criminal convictions, or change in your eligibility for AOS (in my case, if Amy and I were dis-married) leads to withdrawal of P.R. status, and directions to the nearest airport if you're lucky. Alternatively, after two years of being good, and still eligible, you apply to have the "Conditional"
part lifted, after which your status is adjusted again to that of Permanent Resident, which is when you obtain the "Green Card" of legend, although it is not called that anymore and is not green. This lasts for ten years, can be renewed indefinitely, and is the same as citizenship except that you cannot vote, and cannot apply for certain government jobs only available to citizens - President, for example. However, if like me you consider it slightly odd, if not disrespectful to live permanently in a country and not want to become a citizen you can apply, after three years of Permanent Residency, to become just that. And that, folks, is that.

So... we awoke at 7:00am, both quite nervous, and after finding (quite easily) the station and (with great difficulty) a parking space, we boarded the Metra at 8:15am. After a speedy train ride we arrived in Chicago at just before 9:00am, and as we began the short walk from the station to the USCIS offices the traffic, and moreover its behavior, made us immediately grateful that we had decided to take the train and not drive in. At about 9:30am we arrived at the offices with our huge bag full of evidence - photos, letters, our book about Brian, and proof of our address to name but a few of the items - which we had been told they would want to see. We were very nervous indeed!

Inside we had to first pass through X-Ray machines, where our only problem was two bottles of Coke which we were told ordered by the incredibly scary security staff to "put outside" and a pair of scissors which upon reflection may have been a slight mistake to pack. We weren't the only ones - outside on a grass verge before we went in I saw a pocket knife and mentioned it to Amy. And I thought we were silly with our scissors...

Anyway, I went outside and put them on the sidewalk, then went back in, and we found the second floor and waited.

We had heard various things about how tough the AOS interview could be, but our interviewer spent most of his time shuffling papers, and having me swear under oath to the effect that I have never persecuted anybody, and have never been a drug user, a Communist, member of the Nazi party, or big fat liar, which I was clearly only too happy to do. After only about ten minutes he closed our file, said that everything looked "great" with our paperwork, and that the only reason he wouldn't be able to approve me there and then was because they were still waiting for the results of a name-check request from the FBI to be added to my case. We asked how long it could take, and he said sometimes it can take weeks, and that we "didn't want to know the other end of the scale." (We later found out this means between 18 months, even two years for some cases...) We were slightly irritated that none of the evidence we had stayed up two nights in a row to prepare - and in the case of photos and copies of documents spent money on - was even looked at, but it was a bit like being irritated having gone to the doctor and being told you were healthy, and didn't last long. We left feeling very happy and relieved, a little teeny bit of anti-climax, but mostly hungry and excited to have a couple of hours to pootle around in Chicago, which, as you can see by the pics below, we did!

Because there are quite a few, blogger didn't seem to want to let me upload these directly to the blog, so instead I used If you click on any of the photos below it'll take you to the site where you can view all the photos. There are comments underneath each picture and you can select the either from here, or using the thumbnails on the right side of the dropshots screen.


Maddie was very pleased to see us when we got home, and when she asked how it had gone, we replied that it had been a really fun, and successful trip.

Take care, everyone!