Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm fine

I've been getting numerous phone calls and emails asking how I am doing. So this post is to let you all know that...I am fine and you can stop worrying. I am perfectly at peace with everything that is happening and I have absolutely no doubt that God knows best. The past 5.5 years of infertility have certainly taught me that I do not have control over life.

I did have a miscarriage. And the details are below. If you don't want the details, please stop reading. They are gross.

The miscarriage started on Thursday night and lasted until Friday morning. The doctor had warned me to expect a period twice as bad as normal. It was no such thing. It was more closely related to labor and delivery. I had contractions starting Thursday night while I was cleaning the house. We had company arriving around midnight, so I kept cleaning and just ignored it. The contractions were very strong and actually were around 1-2 minutes apart and lasted for about 30 seconds or more. I didn't time any of this so I am guesstimating. But I passed several very large clumps of blood and other things. I was bleeding a lot. I tried sitting on the toilet but it was just too uncomfortable so I kept cleaning. I'm pretty sure I passed the gestational sac around midnight.

After our company arrived and I went to bed is when the real pain set in. I think it may have been because I was laying down and not doing anything else, except trying to sleep. Which was impossible because the contractions were unbearable. I got up and went to the bathroom and writhed around in there for awhile. Determined I needed some stronger medication. I just wanted to sleep. But my body wasn't finished.

At around 4am I think I passed the placenta. It was much larger than I expected considering how early the pregnancy was. As soon as this was over I felt instant relief. And I don't know how long it would have lasted, but I decided it was enough. I took a muscle relaxer and headed to bed.

And that was my miscarriage in a nutshell. I did learn a few things from this. Mainly I learned that whenever I do go into labor, I need a lot of work to do to keep me busy. I think cleaning was just what I needed to keep my mind off of it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

10 week update

It's still light outside, and I'm typing this quickly so I can head off to bed. I've been waking up no later than 5:15 for weeks now, and sometimes as early as 3:30 -- which is why its now bedtime for me.

Monday marked 10 weeks pregnant. I was planning on posting that nothing has changed. But today the bad news came. So if you don't want bad news then you should immediately stop reading this. Go ahead, close down the screen, go look at something fun and interesting. Maybe head towards the kitchen and grab some chocolate. That makes us all feel better.

So the story goes like this. I went to the bathroom this morning and found bright red blood. So I called the doctor and was scheduled for an ultrasound. The baby has not developed past 6 weeks and 1 day, and there was no heartbeat today. If you remember, when I went in at 7 weeks pregnant for my first ultrasound, the baby was measured at 6 weeks 1 day then as well. I'm waiting for a natural miscarriage...or a miracle would be even better.

And yes, I'm fine. I am very much at peace with everything that is happening. It is an absolute miracle I was pregnant. Whether I could get pregnant was a huge question looming over us and now we know the answer. So this was a wonderful gift.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The funny things children say and do

Laughter is common in a household with children. You just can't help yourself.

Today, it wasn't so funny when Petra came to wake us from our nap to say that Jasper had climbed into the tub and turned the water on. We were dead asleep. I climbed out of bed and found him walking around with wet clothes. And went and turned off the water he had left running. Thankful she's smart enough to wake us up when necessary. He had crawled out of his crib, out of his room, down the steps and was in the bathtub downstairs. I guess I'm going to have to stop sleeping.

A few hours later I was laughing when Petra came down with the thermometer in her ear. We have an ear thermometer so this made sense. She told us she was "measuring her ear" and it was 16 lbs and eight dollars. Too funny.

I thought about sharing another story too, about a month old.
We asked her last month what her favorite food was? Noodles, she replied.
And what is your favorite drink? Water with noodles, she simply commented.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Common Pregnancy Symptoms (and Uncommon ones too!)

I’m officially in my third month of pregnancy. And I thought I would post some on common pregnancy symptom and how I was measuring up; as well as comment on my uncommon pregnancy symptoms. I spoke with my mom and two older sisters about their pregnancy symptoms and they didn’t have many symptoms to speak of … so it seems easy pregnancies may run in the family.

Morning Sickness – None to speak of. I am occasionally nauseas for 5-10 minutes ever so slightly and have some food aversions and cravings during that time, and then it goes away.

Fatigue – It was horrible weeks 4-6. Not so bad now. About every other day I want to nap, but can usually work through it. This is going away and according to the experts it should fade in month 3. I’d love a 2-3 hour nap right now. Which is saying something considering I went to bed at 9pm last night.

Frequent Urination – Yes, up until about week 8 I had to get up sometimes 3 times a night. This symptom usually fades away beginning in month 3 and mine started to dissipate about 2 weeks ago. Now I just get up usually once at night.

Breast Fullness/Tenderness – Some, but not much. Week 8 I had more breast heaviness than any other week. But generally I can’t really tell any difference now. It’s hard to tell too much because I did 210 pushups today and 100 pushups yesterday.

Bluish Veins – Yes, I have a whole new network of veins to transport all this extra blood around.

Moodiness – Double Yes. I am extra moody almost every minute of the day. This is the one symptom I hate so far about being pregnant.

Headaches – Yes. This one I really struggle with while exercising. Before I knew I was pregnant I was suddenly hit with severe headaches during workouts. And still have problems during strenuous exercise. Maybe it’s my body’s way of saying SLOW DOWN.

Bloating and/or Waistline expansion – Yes. I can’t quite figure out why my stomach is so round on some days. It appears to be growing.

Constipation – Yes, some. But I love prunes and they help.

Cramps/Pains/Twinges – Yes, I have all of the above. But they are usually brief and not painful.

Now for my more uncommon symptoms:

Limp Hair – My hair is falling out still. I’m not real happy about this. It’s limp and comes out excessively if I run my hands through it. I think the hair on my legs may have slowed down in growth…I’m going to have to watch it more closely to see if this is indeed happening.

Arms falling asleep – My arms are constantly falling asleep when I’m asleep. It doesn’t matter what position, back or side. It happens about every other night at the moment and during naps. I mentioned it to the doctor and he said he’s heard that it happens to some people.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Children Stories

I thought this seemed the appropriate time to post a few things about the children.

Petra is beyond silly these days. But she does strive hard to make us "proud." I started using this word with her and she loves it. She often tells me that she is proud of me...its a good reminder about how great it is to hear.

This week we have made a big step forward in potty training. She has been potty trained during awake hours since Sept. 2009. I decided at the end of June it was time to move foward. I didn't know how easy this would be for her because she woke up with a soaked diaper every morning. So, at the end of June I asked her to stop going #1 in her diaper at night and nap time. She said OK and stopped that night. I moved her out of diapers at night and nap time last week when we got back home from vacation. And she is doing fantastic. I would say she is 100% potty trained! I probably could have done this sooner but I kept waiting for her diaper to be dry in the morning. I guess I should have asked her sooner.

And she is learning to have a sense of humor. This week she told Thomas that she went to the museum and held a cheetah in her hand. And then she saw a bear hopping down a trail like a rabbit. Who knows where this came from, I guess her imagination is kicking in full gear.

Jasper is busy moving---

He is crawling out of his crib and we are making plans to move him out and into a bigger bed. Thankfully his crib is low to the ground and he can safely crawl out of it so it hasn't been a large rush. One morning last week I left for the gym at 6:45 am. I usually lock the door when I leave at 5:45 but since it was later, and I knew Thomas would be up any minute I didn't worry about it. I came home and asked Thomas how his morning went. He told me he woke up to Petra crawling in bed with him at 6:55 am to tell him that Jasper was outside playing. Sure enough, he was in the driveway on his tricycle. Scary; so now I lock the door all the time.

Play is his number one activity these days. And he is playing so well by himself...occupying himself with cars, trucks, tractors and building blocks. It has actually been very exciting to see the children become more independent.

And he decided last night at gymnastics that walking on the balance beam forward was not difficult enough for him. So he turned himself around and started walking backwards on the beam. We turned him back foward, and he turned himself back around backwards. So I guess this is his new personal goal.

Monday, July 12, 2010

9 week update

I know there are many of you praying for us, and we really appreciate it. It is a wonderful thing to be able to pray for friend and I feel very loved.

I am 9 weeks pregnant today. On Saturday I didn't feel pregnant at all. On Sunday I felt nauseous most of the day. Today, I was nauseus again ... so I'm hoping its a great sign. Or it could just be the prenatal viatamin. But they haven't bothered me before. Or it could be all the junk I ate this weekend. Thomas and I splurged at Five Guys this weekend and then again at church on Sunday night.

I forgot to weigh myself this morning, last time I checked I was up 1.5 lbs. I'm sure after the hamburger and the pizza I had this weekend I'm up some more. And today my belly is full and round - probably again because of the food.

My mind this weekend was only on one thing - my pregnancy. I moped around the house quite a bit and Thomas kept asking if there was anything he could do. So, in effort to keep my mind off the pregnancy and to prevent myself from worrying I thought about not posting about the pregnancy for a while.

Then today I decided I'd rather just stay positive, and that means moving forward. Although I think I'll be limiting how much pregnancy reading I'll be doing.

I'm in constant prayer that all goes well and the baby is healthy and strong.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

8 week numbers

I noticed several of you commented that I may want a different doctor. I am definitely considering it, but not really much at the moment because I don't want to visit another doctor in the next month. I called the doctor's office yesterday to get the measurement of the baby and yolk sac. This is what I learned.

Crown to Rump Length - 6w1d - they didn't have the actual measurement in my record, but I'm pretty sure I saw .52 on the screen when the tech did it. (this aggravates me of course, another reason I may want another doctor)

Yolk Sac - 7.3mm. Anything over 6.0 mm is considered a poor prognosis by doctors. I didn't understand why this was the case until just now. I finally read that abnormally large yolk sacs results from accumulation of nutrients not used by the embryo.

Heartbeat - 77 beats per minute ... which is below normal.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

8 week update

Let me start by saying a BIG thank you to the ladies that commented regarding our first ultrasound. You both made me smile and really uplifted me this last week. Your comments were very reassuring.

I went to the doctor's office today with full confidence that everything was fine. Everything has been fine for the last week. I still have pregnancy symptoms - and this week I added a few more. A couple days ago my chest started getting heavy so I think it has decided to start growing. And the other hormonal symptom was that I had a ton of hair fall out - which isn't necessarily a good thing. I talked to the doctor about it today and he thought it was probably due to the stress of finding out I was pregnant. I wouldn't say it was very stressful, but it was a shock.

So everything was going fine. Traffic was normal. I actually got the very first parking space which NEVER happens; so I was in high spirits.

I was called back for the ultrasound. First I was a little aggravated because the doctor didn't do the ultrasound. My understanding was the doctor did it at the office I'm going to. He did the last one, and I fully expected him to do it again. Instead, I got a tech on a much larger ultrasound machine.

The tech really disappointed me. I didn't think she did a very good job getting a measurement or checking the baby. She didn't really try very hard to get the best angel. And after reading many, many stories online I have learned that women with a retroverted uterus (which is tilted back and is exactly what I have) have a hard time getting reliable measurements early in pregnancy. After the ultrasound I could sense the tech's apprehension about the future of the pregnancy. I could tell she was worried about me.

The results from today's visit are pretty dismal. The baby measured at 6weeks and 1 day again - I knew this because I saw it on the screen. So no growth according to the ultrasound. After this disappointing ultrasound I had to sit around for the doc, and sit, and sit.

My conversation with the doctor was confusing and not at all helpful. He specifically had me come in today to see if the baby was growing properly. But once he read the results, he only said that it was really too early to tell anything and ultrasounds aren't always reliable this early on, blah blah blah. I was frustrated. I knew very well the baby didn't show growth and that is not what he was telling me. And if the ultrasounds aren't reliable, then I didn't understand why he bothered scheduling me for another one so soon. He also said he was "encouraged" because the baby was still there and there was still a heartbeat. And then he quickly added that if I started to have any signs of a miscarriage then to call him. In between all this he added that the yolk sac was measuring slightly big which isn't a good sign. But he didn't give me any indication of what it meant, and honestly I didn't bother to ask.

Since I was frustrated, and the appointments only seemed to be causing more stress than I needed, I asked to wait another 4 weeks before my next appointment. And he thought 2-3 weeks would be better. So, I have another appt in 3 weeks on July 28th. And until then I get to wait and pray that everything will go fine.

When I came home and looked up what it means when you have a large yolk sac, I learned it usually means the baby is chromosomally abnormal and the pregnancy will end in miscarriage. But it is not always the case - some women do go on to have normal pregnancies with healthy babies.

The good news is that I'm not very upset...but would like a large stack of pancakes, some chocolate ice cream, and a slice of lasagna. I do wish I hadn't gone in today at all; it was a very discouraging visit and I was doing quite well before it. But, all in all I know this is in God's hands and I have no control over whether this baby grows. My pregnancy is a miracle in itself and I'm very thankful for the life inside me.

** UPDATE - The more I think about it, the more I am thinking there was some growth. I need to call the doctor and check on the crown to rump length. Last week it measured .28 to .42 CM, today I think it was at .52 CM. No one told me for certain, but this is what I think I saw on the screen.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our First Ultrasound

It was an interesting day. I met with the OB doctor today for my first appointment and first ultrasound. First, I'm glad to say that I like my OB doctor and don't have any immediate desire to change doctors. This is quite a miracle in itself.

Below is the first photo of the baby. I'm sure you are wondering if there is anything actually in this picture - you can't really see much. But that little kidney bean is the baby. I'm not really sure how to label this ... good or bad. I think its fairly good. The doctor confirmed I was pregnant and there appeared to be a heartbeat. There was a pulsing on the screen in the exact spot it should have been that was apparent to everyone in the room. However, I have no idea what a heartbeat should look like at this stage or at any stage. The only downside to the visit was that the baby measured at 6w1day rather than 7 weeks- which is on the small side. But I've read in numerous places that an error rate of +or-6 days is fairly common.

The doctor simply said that he can't really determine anything from this one ultrasound and said for me to come back next Thursday - they are going to hook me up to the big ultrasound then and see how the baby's growing. So I will keep everyone posted.

Monday, June 28, 2010

7 weeks

Do I look tired? This is how I feel most afternoons - like you couldn't pay me to lift my bottom out of a chair.

Today I’m 7 weeks pregnant and according to the world wide web baby croom is measuring at ½ inch long. So far symptoms have been very minimal. More than anything I am fatigued. I feel great in the morning and by 1pm I’m exhausted and stay that way for the rest of the day. There are some days where I am less tired, but I can never tell what type of day I’m going to have.

If I had to add anything else to the list of symptoms it would be increased belching – that is it went from zero times a day to about 4 times a day. And it seems that just in the last 2 days my stomach has decided that bloating is an effective way to begin looking pregnant. I’m starting to feel round and full in the abdomen. The size 8 pants I’m wearing today – which just started to fit again last month – are now feeling too tight.

Weight gain so far – 0 lbs and hopefully staying that way for a few more weeks. Based on my Body Mass Index (BMI) the experts recommend gaining no more than 15-25 lbs during the entire pregnancy since I am already considered overweight. I don’t think the experts considered the 6’3” frame of my husband or his large head when they made they estimates. But I’m still shooting for no more than 25 lbs – and we will just all have to see what happens.

Yesterday I had two people tell me I was glowing. All I could think was "yeah, right." I am completely convinced my glowing had more to do with the fact I wore mascara for the first time in 3 months than it did with being pregnant.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Choosing an OB Doctor

Aggravation would be the best word to describe how I feel about the process of finding a doctor for this pregnancy. I had no idea I would find it so frustrating.

First, let me say I do know exactly where I want to go – the Birth Cottage here in Tallahassee. It is a wonderful, pleasant home with a couple midwives. They have two birthing rooms that are more like the rooms in your house, and birthing tub as well. In the end, you get a lot more options when it comes to delivery than you would at a hospital. Plus there is no IV stuck in your arm and you can eat if you want. They will also come to your home to deliver as well. However, this was quickly put to a halt when I realized my insurance will not cover it. Yes, that’s right; my new insurance coverage that picked up all that great infertility testing does not cover midwives or birthing centers – even though they are less expensive in the long run. However, the coverage I had before, the one that wouldn’t cover any infertility testing would cover it. It seems I can never get what I need at the right time.

On the flip side, if I go the doctor’s office/hospital route my insurance covers 100% of my entire prenatal visits – with no deductibles and no copayments. Each visit is completely free of charge to me; it just costs my patience and time.

So for the time being I called my OB/Gyn office. It just seemed simpler than pressuring myself to figure out which doctor office to choose and I really wanted to get in for a first appointment.
Today I had “orientation” – which should have been labeled something like mounds of paperwork and a waste of your time. The doctor’s office was not convenient. And parking was worse. It took 15 minutes after I arrived to park and walk in to the building. Then I had to listen to gossip from the nurses for about 5 minutes. I was pressured to fill out an application for a federally subsidized program I was not interested in (of course I didn’t). I had to wait around in the lobby for one of the nurses to see me – one who was busy talking to about 5 other nurses. Then my appointment started.

They checked my urine for proteins, sugar and something else – all clear. Checked by BP – 110/70. Checked my weight – not sharing.

During this appointment I asked what my progesterone was when they did the blood panel and pregnancy test. I did this because I also had the infertility center do bloodwork and they had called back to put me on progesterone suppositories because it was on the low side of normal. The doctor’s office never called about my progesterone. It turns out, they couldn’t find it – I was told they either forgot or failed to take a progesterone test. The nurse wasn’t sure what happened. So I am super thankful I also had the fertility office do this – since it was low and I was prescribed progesterone suppositories.

I also learned during the appointment that my insurance covers 100% of “allowable expenses”. When I asked what allowable expenses were – they could not tell me. I asked if the ultrasound I was having next week would be covered and was told that they didn’t know, but if it wasn’t covered the cost would be $200.

I was incorrectly misinformed by the nurse that they like to rotate the patients between doctors so that if “my doctor couldn’t come to the delivery and I had to use a back-up doctor I would be familiar with him/her.” When in all actuality, I know that the doctors rotate at the hospital and I get whatever doctor is on duty at that time at the hospital. After I questioned her on this, she confirmed I was correct.

I answered a few more questions about relative history and my medical history. Then I left, and spent another 10 minutes getting out of the parking lot and then was back on the road to head to work.

So all in all, it takes 30 minutes to get to the doctor’s office. It costs me aggravation. I have to deal with people I’d rather not deal with. I’d have to delivery in the hospital that I don’t like. But I would pay $0.


I can get to the Birth Cottage in 10 minutes; wait zero time in the lobby; have access to quality midwives; enjoy the atmosphere; have more flexibility during delivery; but have to pay out of pocket.

I’m looking at a cost differential to us of about $3,000. (Of course, the hospital route is much more expensive in total – just not to us because insurance covers it) So, with all this in mind, I’m thinking my best option is to try and find a new doctor’s office ... or just have the baby at home and then go to the hospital. Anyone willing to help deliver?

Friday, June 18, 2010

More on the beginning

I wanted to post just briefly on more details regarding the new pregnancy.

I have had an absolutely great week. I feel wonderful, jut a little tired here and there. But honestly not much to speak of.

My HCG numbers from Monday came back at 699. The fertility nurse decided it didn't need to be repeated because it was high enough and exactly where it should be.

My progesterone numbers came back a little on the low side but still normal - at 10.6. So I've been given progesterone suppositories.

I'm really not having any symptoms of pregnancy at all. A couple times I felt kindof yucky but it was so mild I couldn't decide for sure if I felt bad at all. So I probably shouldn't count it as anything.

And everything is going really well. I'm still going to CrossFit. The advice I saw online was to be sure you can carry on a converstation while you are working out, otherwise slow down. So I'm following that advice and taking lots of breaks as needed.

For any couple out there dealing with infertility who might run across this blog on the world wide web. I want to mention that we really did see some great results from a lot of prayer and switching to a high-raw diet. I wish I could measure how much my body changed - I know it changed to be well enough to get pregnant - which is really the best result. I tested abnormal for the protein that helps the baby stick around just 6 months ago with the Etegrity test. And we have had 1 failed IVF, 1 failed FET, and 1 failed IUI in the last couple years.

My dear husband has been eating high-raw as well, with lean meats and eggs. And everything on his SA changed from abnormal to normal to even above normal -- including morphology, motility, viscosity. And his motile sperm count increased more than 600%. I am in absolute shock about this. I have seen so many studies and never seen results this high. That in itself is a miracle.

I'm so thankful that I felt led to change our diets drastically this spring! And we received a ton of support for the changes we made which made it so much easier. So thank you everyone!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Drum Roll Please ....

I was thinking my next post on here would be tomorrow. After all, we have just concluded several months of testing and had an appointment with a fertility specialist tomorrow at 9am. I thought by tomorrow evening we might could post on some type of plan for the coming months.

That was until today happened. Today, we found out we are PREGNANT!
Yes, 100% completely naturally we were given a miracle. We are ecstatic, and majorly shocked - this is after 5 1/2 years of trying to get pregnant.

This morning was pretty crazy. I took two tests at home and as soon as possible called the doctor's office. I'll have to admit I didn't quite comprehend or believe the first test, and immediately said "um, read this" and handed it to Thomas. (It was very hard to read, it simple said "pregnant.") =)
The doctor's office was great about getting me in today for blood work, and by this afternoon we had verification that we are pregnant!

It is still early, I'm just 5 weeks. So we have a long way to go...until Valentines Day to be exact.

This could have never happened outside of God's will. And we are also pretty sure our lifestyle changes helped make the difference.

We don't have a way to check on my health and if it improved. I was still having some slight pain from the endometriosis the last couple months, but not as bad. But today while we were at the fertility clinic doing the blood tests we asked for the results from the most recent semen analysis - and they drastically improved, more than even imaginable. Based on that alone, I would encourage every couple out there dealing with infertility to try shifting their diets to no processed foods, no dairy, no grains, and lots of raw fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Redirect to Another Site

I had a dream. It was vivid and exciting, and it involves a new blog.

As a result, the purpose of this post is to redirect you to a new blog address. I think you will be very happy with the changes.

There will be more information. There will be more topics covered, including: the ever important children, food, recipes, nutrition, exercise, projects, sewing, 30 day challenges, adoption, foster care, and so much more. And to make it even better - it will be organized by category so you can find what you are looking for!

There is much more to be done on it, but it is officially started.

So please, go take a peek and be sure to save it on your favorites.

And just so you know, this website will be updated occasionally with information related to infertility and other things of the sort.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

4 Weeks, busy

No posts lately because we have a lot going on here. This is a quick run down of what the last few weekends have looked like - in the last four weeks we have made two trips to Orlando (once to see friends, and the second to see family and watch the space shuttle Atlantis launch), had grandparents visit for a few days, and provided respite care (aka babysitting) for another foster family. This weekend we are providing the babysitting for another foster family so they could make a trip over this holiday weekend.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is swim. Both children are great in the water. Jasper has absolutely no fear of nearly anything. And has completely fallen in love with the pool. Here is a quick video of his favorite activity - jumping in the water - he can do it for an hour straight with no breaks. Notice how great of a job he does swimming back up to the top.

On top of this, I'm dreaming up a new blog. So keep a lookout for a new and improved site.

In the meantime, here are some more photos of the children.

Petra loves to hold babies. The only problem is that the baby in our house is as big as she is. It didn't seem to matter much to either of them though.

A few moments of "playa" at Coco Beach, FL.

Gymnastics class - Petra on the beam and both of them working on their handstands.

Shuttle Atlantis launch.

In Kissimmee, Florida with family.

An increasingly not so rare moment, both the children quiet and "reading" to themselves.

Petra graduated to a toddler bed. Oh the thrills of being able to get up on your own.

This is not our toy. Just wanted to be sure everyone knew that. But its the neighbor's contraption and our children do love it. Petra thinks she is hot stuff in this jeep.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I am consistently awed by the joy and life our children bring to our home. Even through the tears and whining, which there is more than enough, in no time the sweet soft voice of my daughter quickly pierces my heart. Or the smiles and kisses from my son melt me.

Last night I struggled, tired and achy. The children whined and begged for my undivided attention. Sweet voices declared “hold me mommy” and echoed through our walls. I continuously struggle to find the best way to balance my work in the home, with the constant requests for love and attention. I can’t pour boiling water in the sink and hold a toddler. And I haven’t mastered one handed egg cracking skills. The kitchen needs to be cleaned, the dinner needs to be made, and my children need to be held, loved and instructed.

Do I stop? Do I set everything aside when he sweetly brings me a book to read to him? I find myself throughout the day telling myself to just stop. And I remind myself a few minutes delay in dinner is a small price to pay for the gifts of parenting. What I’ve realized is I’m still learning and will be a life-long leaner. I feel completely unprepared for balancing efficiency in my home with parenting our toddlers. I never seem to know when to stop and when not.

The evening we spent together - resting in chairs outside in the fresh air, reading books, tending plants, and watching a movie with popcorn. I headed to bed tired and exhausted. Rest was all I wanted. A break from the crying, tears and persistent requests a mommy gets. I quietly lay in bed and think about everything I failed to get done. And then in a hushed tone, my husband says “what a wonderful evening,” and I pause and push everything on my to-do list aside to appreciate the evening and gifts from God that I had missed.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Speaking words of encouragement

"When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger." Ephesians 4:29 (NCV)

I couldn't let the night go without posting about this ... one of the areas I feel like I really struggle is speaking words of love and encouragement to my children. Mothers have the incredible responsibility of speaking words that will build our children. And this is a very insightful reminder from one of my favorite bloggers.

"Just for today:
Couldn’t all the words out of my mouth only be the strengthening words? Words that nourish their bones and muscle their hearts.
What if I tried to change nothing in children but I focused on only this: Let the tongue speak only the words that make souls stronger. "

Please go to her post to read.

Welcome to St. George Island

Definitely one of my favorite things about Florida is the beautiful beaches. Last weekend we headed to St. George Island with some friends and had such a wonderful time. It was very overcast and a little chilly, but it was still really great. I think I would prefer it a little cool, rather than too hot. I only wish it was closer. It takes about 2 hours to get to this beach from our house.

It was the very first time the children enjoyed the beach. At first, Jasper didn't like the sand at all. He kept trying to lift his feet up, then realizing it wouldn't work because he would then fall it, he gave up. But it was mere minutes before they were both off playing and happy. Most likely due to the fact that they had their favorite playmate of all time - Kacy. They looove her and ask for her all the time.

So it was a little cool, and it is April. But that didn't stop us from have a great time. Petra and Jasper both loved the water. Petra wanted to stay in it continously, and we had to make her get out because she was shivering and turning blue. We laughed so hard when she would scream at the water in excitement. It was also very funny to hear her screaming in glee "I'm swimming, I'm swimming" as she sat on her hands and knees and the waves crashed around her. Jasper was his normal self, completely unfrightened by anything and would head out head deep in the water if we let him. After a swim, I had to wrap them up tight in a towel until they warmed up.

Kacy helped the children dig for sand fleas; thomas showed them a crab; and we even saw a few dolphins. All of us are looking forward to our next beach trip. I think Petra asked to go back every day this week, many, many times each day. And before it was all over, Thomas hit the water deep with a fishing pole in hand. And was a little disappointed as he watched spanish feed about 30 yards away from the end of his line. He just couldn't get out far enough. Every time I turned to look at him, he had inched out further and further. By the end he was chest high in the water.

Today, its a week later. Work has been busy. Life has been busy. But all in all I'm very blessed. Our family continously has a wonderful time together. My children love each other and we all cherish our time together. Today, was another great and busy day. We spent about the day in Marianna, FL, a little over an hour's drive away, promoting foster care and adoption at festival. When I do these things, I often don't have my children with me. But today, I realized how great it is when they are there. Many people can't imagine what its like to have a foster child or to adopt a child. There always seems to be a general thought that your own biological children are somehow better. I've seen it over and over again in people I meet. But seeing our family gives many a better understanding that it is love that makes a family, and not blood.
In fact, I had a perfect example of this today. I've been around one woman weekly who told me just 4 months ago that her and her husband would never adopt ... this was in shocked response to my acknowledgement to her that Petra was adopted. Between then and now, I've met her husband, and they've met and spent time with our children. Today, she told me they were considering fostering and adopting. And I know that seeing the smiles on my children faces, and even the crying, helped provide a clearer understanding that adopted children are themselves amazing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Easter 2010

We had a fabulous Easter day with friends. We dyed Easter eggs this year for the first time. And they even had their first easter egg hunt ... although there was not much enthusiasm for the hunt. Thomas said it was because I didn't put good candy in the eggs. Instead, I stuffed sugar cereal in them that I bummed off a friend. I had meant to do organic cookies and had left them at home. But regardless, Petra would shake each one to see if there was anything in it and stop to eat it.

And my absolute favorite part of Easter was watching Petra in her first church performance. She "sang" with the other children. We have a video, we hope to share it with each of you at some point.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

30 Day Raw Food Challenge Complete!

On Sunday, I completed my 30 day raw challenge, and I am so very glad I did it. The last two weeks have absolutely flown by. I had no real issues with cravings, sickness, tiredness, etc. In fact, I feel like I started to benefit from the diet change. The benefits I saw over the last month included: 13 total pounds in weight loss, flatter abdomen, less bloating and less of that yucky heavy full feeling, better facial complexion (in fact I think the dark circles under my eyes are disappearing), more energy, and no cravings! My blood sugar feels completely level at all times, I don’t feel like I go through highs and lows through the day, and I generally feel younger all over.

There are a lot of people who consider shifting gradually to raw – for instance, many people start out by going 50% raw every day. I didn’t do this. I went 100%, or close to it, and I think this had greater benefits. One of the challenges was learning what to eat and how to prepare meals. I have learned so much about raw recipes and eating in the last month. If I had limited my raw intake to only 50% of the time, I would not have been forced to learn so much about all the many options that a raw diet actually includes. Instead, I would have stuck with smoothies and salads. And in retrospect, I would have really shortchanged the experience and not really obtained a true perspective about it. And I think if I was still eating certain foods, I would be experiencing cravings. And the lack of cravings is what makes choice of going raw so easy.

It’s funny that I’m saying this now, because the first week I posted about this challenge I stated clearly that I needed food ideas. No one gave me any. I couldn’t figure out what else was out there besides fresh fruit and salads. Now it seems like there are so many choices that I could never possibly get tired of a raw diet. You absolutely must check out this blog – Choosing Raw - and look at the photos of meals that you can eat on a raw diet (including the one above in this blog post). Trust me, natural and raw foods are not lacking in taste, flavor or satisfaction. One of my absolutely favorite recipes I found on this website was for Banana Ice Cream. It was heavenly, and all four of us gobbled it down with gusto.

I also really loved the homemade almond and sesame milk I made … so much more than the store bought. Which brings me to another point—about 20 days into my raw challenge I attended a raw class that really helped give me a better understanding of how eating raw really works in a household. What areas you can give and take on when you have a budget? And I learned how to make beloved homemade nut milks—which by the way are incredibly easy, so easy an 8-year-old could do it. At the class I went to we tasted homemade almond milk compared to store bought, and boy was there a difference. We also did some other tasting tests, and between that, and everyday occurrences, I can say that my taste buds have drastically changed this month.

The most common question I’ve heard all month is: But where do you get your protein? Well, this is a very good question. But let me assure you, there are options out there. There are things like avocado, broccoli, and other high-protein veggies. But there are also hemp seeds and nutritional yeast, and other alternative protein sources that I am still discovering and learning about.

Then there is the issue of calcium. Did you know that milk from unhulled sesame seed milk actually has 4 times more calcium than cow’s milk? A little surprising I thought.

There is a lot I still need to learn about getting all the nutrients I need. But I will admit, I did see a doctor before choosing this. And my doctor actually told me that she is vegetarian and that there are numerous of studies out there that show that eating meat leads to a shorter life span. I didn’t ask for details because I had my own reasons for the change.

And while I mentioned it in the opening paragraph, I was a little surprised that my cravings are completely gone. I can actually cook a separate meal for my family, including meat, and not want a bite of it. In fact, I sometimes feel like I’m serving them blind because I don’t taste test anything. One night I accidentally spilt some honey mustard dressing on my finger and before I knew it my finger was in my mouth. Habit I guess. But get this; I could not believe how disgusting it was! Anyway, as a whole, the family is still eating many, many cooked meals. But Thomas and I have introduced more raw foods with each meal. The children really enjoy a green smoothie on a regular basis, chocked full of spinach or kale. And snacks are usually completely raw for them as well. There is always fruit, but I’ve also made a variety of fruit and nut bars for them over the last month. And I’ve learned you can make raw cakes!

I committed to a 30 day challenge and I finished it. So I’m just thinking you may be wondering where this leaves me now. Well, after 33 days raw, I can honestly say I do not want to go back. I am so happy with the way I feel and the food I’m eating, that I plan on staying this way. I never remember feeling this way with any diet. I’m simple amazed at how much I am enjoying choosing raw and I’m really looking forward to making the “nutloaf” pictured above.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jasper's Hair Cut

Last week, Jasper got his first complete hair cut. I say this, because Thomas had already shaved the sides of his head so that he had a curly mohawk, that really appeard to be a mop. See photo above.

Now we have an adorable little boy ... and it seems his smile and eyes shine now. He had a goofy grin on his face during much of the hair cut.

And then, Petra wanted her hair cut too. So Thomas pretended to cut hers.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Infertility Insurace

One of the worst things about infertility, is the costs associated with diagnostic testing and treatment. Not only do you have the heartache of being infertile, but most insurance companies won't pick up a penny of the costs. Not even to find out what is wrong with you or to talk to a doctor about it. Infertiltity is so traumatic, and to add the costs associated with it makes it ten times worse to deal with.

After 5 years struggling with this, you can imagine my excitement when I found out our new insurance covers diagnostic testing. I switched coverage at the advice of no one, everyone said I had the best around and offered to state workers, well, now I beg to differ. I switched our coverage in January, not because I expected inferitility to be covered, but because I was so fed up with the company we had been using. In fact, I read and read insurance coverage benefits for multiple companies and didn't think any of them would cover a penny.

Thomas and I both felt ready to move forward with tests this spring. When we found out the insurance was going to cover testing, it was incredible. I felt like I had won the lottery. What a BLESSING! So, in short, I have had over $3,000 in tests done in the last month, and have only paid $40 in copayments!

Our insurance will not cover treatments ... alas that is still on us. Regardless, I'll take the gift I was given and smile. Our tests are pending...

A quick update - March 23, 2010 - all tests came back normal! We are so excited. We still have another round of tests that will take place through the month, tesing things like hormone levels, uterine lining, and ovulation. I expect all these to come back normal based on our past tests, but we won't actually test until May due to my work schedule.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Growing Update

A quick update on the children, because that’s all I have time for these days.

They are doing absolutely fantastic. I’m actually amazed at how well behaved they have been for the last few weeks – maybe b/c I’m not there to see the problems. But it seems like we have really turned a corner and they are growing into happy, well-adjusted children who listen and obey. And no, they don’t obey all the time. Nor probably even most the time. But with a little extra instruction, a few time outs here and there, and everything seems to flow smoothly.
Jasper has had a couple big things happen in the last month or so. He got a haircut one night when I was working late – a Mohawk! It’s really kind of crazy looking. We plan on cutting it shorter again very soon—as soon, as I can be there to get some pictures.

He also started gymnastics and of course loves it. He loves to climb so there is no surprise that he would love hanging and flipping on bars, climbing up 6 foot ladders, and running around. All the other parents, and even the coaches, are quite amazed at how well he does. He can crawl on his hands and feet across two bars, walk on the balance beam mostly by himself, climb up and down the gigantic ladders, and is not scared of anything. At 17 months old, I don’t think they usually see children his age that can do all those things.

And with Jasper in gymnastics, Petra feels a little extra urge to show off. Since week 2 she’s been able to hang on a bar and bring her toes up to the bar. Now, she can nearly flip by herself. To do this she has to bring her legs up between her two arms, and flip over backwards. She usually needs just a little push on her bottom and over she goes. I think she could probably do it on her own, but enjoys hanging completely upside down. She has seen the most improvement in jumping and can hop across a room now.

She is doing absolutely fantastic at her “tot school” when I have time for it. She is learning all the time. This week I watched as her and Thomas laid on the sofa and read a book on the life cycle of the ladybug. She loves anything that you would categorize as science and simple would be happy if you could tell her everything about the world. She also loves to help cook and prepare food. As soon as I start, she drags a chair into the kitchen to stand on and helps as much as she can with everything. Usually this means, she stirring, or adding something to a bowl, or helping us cut up food using a butter knife. She is also very good at cleaning up messes and spills – grabbing a towel without us even saying a thing to take care of it.

She also loves to write letters, especially the letter “P.” And I would say she is doing a fantastic job. She gets a little carried away and sometimes writes on “other things.” Luckily she usually has a washable marker so it’s easy to clean.

And that is all I have time for. I will try to write another post about the children soon.

Here they are playing on a sheet and bed. Thomas is bouncing them up in the air.

Tot school - transfering rice between bowls. And cleaning up the rice off the floor. (Jasper had the broom but wasn't in the photo)

They love to hug on each other in the mornings. Jasper usually asks to get her crib and then they just spend a few minutes hugging or comparing to see who has the best pacifier.

While Petra throws a fit about heights at gymnastics, they are obviously not a problem for her.

On Valentimes day, laughing at the gifts Grandma and Grandpa Joyner sent.

Sometimes we get to go out for a hike in the woods still.