Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dear Faithful Followers...I'm back!

Thank you all for being so understanding while I've bounced back from everything.  It's been a whirlwind in our house (and it shows *EEK*) but I have so much to share with you!

First, if you live in the DC area, come see me in A Midsummer Night's Dream, put on by Annapolis Shakespeare Company, at the Bowie Playhouse in Bowie, MD.  The show opens tomorrow night and there are still seats available!!  It will run from December 6 - 22 so I hope you can come for a visit!  More information and tickets can be gotten from

Following this, I will be participating in a reading of my favorite Shakespeare show, A Winter's Tale, as Paulina on December 30th AND then going on to play Nurse in Romeo and Juliet at Spotlighter's Theater in Baltimore!  From not performing at all to being superbusy - it's great!

Moving on from that, we've narrowed down the house plans.  As you know we had a plan to build our home.  Unfortunately, the timing of such an undertaking with everything else in our lives is too much for me at the moment.  Also, seeing as that won't be our "forever" house, why waste all our design dreams on a temporary home?  We are going forward with the design planning, but for now will be buying a new build home in the same area.  We're excited and things are moving along nicely.

So, TTC, yeah - we're taking a little break.  Not a huge one but a few months so I can concentrate on getting my health back and reducing stress.  It will make our next efforts more successful, prayerfully, and we'll have more things settled in general.

Lastly, there has been some movement on the job front.  Nothing definite to announce yet, but some really promising movement - stay tuned!!

So, now that you've been updated - prepare yourself for the onslaught.  From my holiday thoughts and hints to some new marriage observations (trials and tribulations either make or break you, sometimes it's hard to tell which is happening).  I hope you'll be entertained!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you all and I wish you much fun (and patience) and you enter into the Christmas season!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Marriage: Surviving Loss

I've talked about falling in love being easy and marriage being hard.  This week, I've found out how hard it really can be.  The foundations of our relationship were shaken by something the size of a pea.  On Sunday, we had our third miscarriage.  Almost 7 weeks along, following all the rules, and starting to feel joy for the first time when the dull ache began in my back.  Fast forward 6 hours to my husband taking me to the ER, the ambulance ride transferring me to the larger hospital, and ending around 3 in the morning with a doctor abruptly saying, "Well, the pregnancy was lost."

I had been scared then suspicious when the bleeding started.  By the time the doctor came in with the news, I already knew but was praying for a miracle.  I wanted a "Dr. House" moment where he said the baby was fine but my spleen had decided to exit from the wrong way.  I didn't care what happened to me, but please God - don't take this child too.  The abrupt declaration by the doctor and lack of ability to explain why it happened left me numb for a few moments.

The second he left the room, it was like the sound came back on and I felt everything.  I sobbed and ached.  My husband held me as I lost it (for the first of many times).  The nurse helped me clean up and dress to go home.  They gave me prescriptions to handle the pain and nausea.  I was told to contact my OB/GYN and do followup to make sure everything was happening naturally.  That was it.

For them, the event was over.  For me, it was just beginning. 

Five years ago, my parents went on vacation.  The third day they were gone, I got a call to come to their house by my brother.  I figured something was really wrong since he would tell me nothing on the phone - but the whole ride I prayed that it was anything but the worst.  Instead, I found out my father - one of my best friends - had died inexplicably while swimming - one of his favorite activities.  Because they were out of the country, there was no autopsy before returning his body to the U.S.  So to this day, I have no idea why my father died at the very young age of 55. 

That day, I felt the worst pain - at that time - that I had ever experienced.  I raged, cried, screamed and swore.  I was angry at everyone from God down to myself.  No one was without blame.  It took me a very long time to work through all the stages of grief - some days, I still regress.  I was sure I would never feel that pain again until the day I (very very long time from now) say goodbye to my mother.

Turns out, I was wrong.  The past few days I've felt like my heart was ripped from my chest.  I've lost the ability to communicate with people I love.  There are no words.  I doubt everything and everyone - going so far as to tell my husband maybe I'm so damaged we shouldn't be together.  Luckily, I'm married to the right man.  He can see through the words to the hurt and depression so he knows I don't really mean that. 

As we talked through things, I realized that my innate inability to really lean on others had been stripped away.  I was physically incapable of powering through - just like when I lost my Dad.  The first two days, I tried to get up and dressed - to behave as normal.  I ended up in a ball of grief in the shower the first day and sobbing helplessly in a parking lot the second day.  The sadness has given way to irrational jealousy but I am aware that "this too shall pass".

I used to think that was a glib and cruel statement, but I realize now it's just a fact of life.  I'm thankful for every word of comfort, sorrow, and reassurance from friends and family at this time.  I'm blessed to have a husband who is willing to carry me when I cannot walk.  I'm grateful for learning to lean and accept help with grace.

Nonetheless, I would give anything to have my hope and joy back.  To know I was going to have that child so loved already by its parents.  The reality is not going to pass but my acceptance will grow and the sorrow will. 

If you have been down this path or fear going down this road, know that you are not alone.  You're not the first to doubt God's plan, to feel that life is cruel, or doubt the very body you live inside.  You are not the first to cry for a faceless dream and it's completely normal to feel everything you feel.  We are not the first, we shall not be the last - and while there is no solace - there is comfort in knowing we do not walk alone.

Can a marriage survive loss?  Only if you stand together.

Monday, October 14, 2013

TTC: Loss

This post is difficult to write. The part of the TTC journey that is hardest is not the disappointment or the cost.  It's the moments after almost having it all.  The joy and hope are vital in TTC success.

Sadly I am struggling to find any hope.  This weekend we lost our little miracle. It's our third loss and I am finding it difficult to find any more positivity.

I am prayerful that as I grieve I find that place to stay over.  As with all journeys, there are many turns, stops, and starts. 

I wish us all a new peace as we go forward. No matter where we are in our journey.

Friday, October 4, 2013

TTC: Still not the weight loss post...

There has been a LOT going on in our house.  It's all POSITIVE.  I'd say about 5 weeks worth of positive. 

To that end, I'm still working on some things.  I promise - worth the wait!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Current Events Rant: Response to the House!

Mr. Cruz from Texas, late Monday night during the waning debates in the House, made a statement I’ve been stewing over ever since.  He said, in reference to the Affordable Care Act, that “Instead of aiming at methods to help the 30 million Americans in need, the President passed a law that was directed at 230 million people.”  He went on to talk about why this was bad or unnecessary, but I was stuck on the fundamental lack of perception in his statement.
The option to have access to basic health care should be a fundamental right for any American citizen.  It should not be weighted on genetic conditions, your income bracket, or any other pre-conceived ideals.  The industry would love to limit access, much like auto insurers, to only those who will cost them the least.  That’s good business – I get that.  But the option to be able to do basic preventative care in a world of increasing population, exposure to illness, and potential injury from the environment should not be optional – it should just be present.
Now, someone has to pay for it – (we won’t discuss whether the costs charged are fair or not, because that’s a whole different topic) – and if you are employed, you should invest something in your own care.  So long as the option is available to you, of course.
There was a time in this country, if you were a minority, you didn’t have many options available to you.  You were limited by a fact of birth which you had no control over, judged by external appearances and given little to no options to change that situation.  Many laws have been passed to rectify that – beginning with the most sweeping of changes under President Lincoln.
Then lawmakers argued we would destroy the fabric of the American economy if we passed such legislature.  Similar arguments have been made against rights for women and every minority grouping in the country. Strangely, the US is the second largest producer of cotton (China leads the way); as of 2011 the US was the fifth largest producer of sugar; and (sadly in my opinion) as of 2009 we’re still the 4th largest producer of tobacco in the world (China leads this as well).  So apparently, those industries didn’t wither and die after all.  Some of the most progressive inventions in those industries came from the very people lawmakers tried to limit.
At the time, Lincoln recognized the need to not pass piecemeal legislature that address specific situations here or there but to make a sweeping reform for the betterment of the entire populace – current and future.  Since then multiple laws amending, shaping or redirecting that legislature have been passed.  Some have been great successes, while others are a miserable failure.  None of them would have had a chance without the grand stepping stone to build upon.
Likewise, in this nation, I believe there will be a time we look back and see a healthcare system that is available to all.  It will likely look different than the initial Affordable Care Act.  It will be polished and honed with experience and the progression of time.  Generations later will never know a time people could be refused healthcare because they were born with a defect.  They will never know a time when basic preventative care cost more than a person could afford, so they went without – endangering themselves and the entire populace.
But first we needed the grand stepping stone, currently called the Affordable Care Act, – now, Mr. Cruz – why don’t you and your colleagues join the historical motion started here and begin shaping things in a bipartisan way?  Why don’t you put aside your agenda to get reelected or collect some more donations, and start finding a way to make what exists work better instead of trying to do away with it altogether?  Instead of looking behind you and trying to undo what’s been done – why not look forward and do something new and improving regardless of party lines?  Let’s be clear, the negotiations have to go both ways between the parties.  There has to be a willingness not to “win” but to succeed together.  Both the House and the Senate have to bend.
Regardless, the current situation has nothing to do with this legislation.  You, Congress, have some basic duties – much like the President.  If he decided he no longer would be willing to speak to other nation’s leaders or make diplomatic decisions, Congress would be the first to claim he was not doing his basic duty as President.  However, for four years there has not been a budget passed.  Sure, you’ve passed continuing resolutions and piecemeal legislature to keep us limping along during a very difficult economic time – but that’s not your job.  Your job is simple:  House writes a bill, Senate writes a bill – you both come to the table and figure out a compromise between the two and PASS a BUDGET.
Why not focus on that for now, and then worry about affecting history after?  The House can start by admitting that the Senate, in passing the budget in the “CR Clean Bill” without changing the numbers they heartily dislike, has offered a large olive branch.  An equal and opposite motion from The House regarding the bill and the upcoming debt ceiling deadline would go a long way towards giving us all a little more faith in our Congressional leadership.
After which, fixing the Affordable Care Act – together – should be a walk in the park. (Provided it’s not shut down, of course.)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Posting for a friend: The 3-Day is coming!!

Normally I wouldn't use my blog for "advertising" but since this is a cause I support wholeheartedly, I'm posting the following letter from a dear friend.

Dear family and friends, 

I can’t believe over 5 months have passed since I sent my original fundraising letter. I find it even more difficult to believe that it is less than 2 weeks until the 2013 Washington DC 3-Day event. I want to thank all of you that have already contributed and apologize for not keeping everyone updated on my progress.

In the message I sent earlier this year I indicated that I would be walking in San Diego in addition to DC. Due to some health concerns I decided it was best for me to withdrawl from that event. I’ll still be in San Diego to cheer on the walkers, but I have been concentrating my fundraising efforts on the DC event.

As many of you know, last year I was the top individual fundraiser in the DC event. Currently I’m holding the top position again, but I have some very aggressive fundraisers hot on my heels. Since this is the last year the event will take place in DC, I’d love to try to remain in that honored position. This year I’ve raised $17,491, but I’m only 72% of the way to my personal goal of $24,000. With no more planned fundraisers before the event, I turn to you, my family and friends, to help me reach my goal and get us closer to a CURE!!

Far too often I hear news of another mother, sister, daughter, wife, aunt, or friend that received the dreaded diagnoses of breast cancer. Please take a moment to consider how you would feel if one of those new cases was YOUR mother, sister, daughter, wife, aunt or friends. It doesn’t have to be. I believe that we will find a cure in my lifetime.

Making a donation is simple. Please visit my 3-Day page ( Once you reach my personal fundraising page, click the button on the top left hand side of the page that reads, "Click to donate to Debbi in 2013." If you don’t wish to donate online, you can download and print a donation form from that page that you can mail in with your donation.



To make a donation:

We walk because we must. We are strong because the journey demands it. Together in body and united in spirit, we lay down our footsteps for this generation and the next. This is our promise: a world without breast cancer!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TTC: It's a secret

So this is not the weight and TTC post - that's almost done.  

Instead, this is a hopeful post.  We got a positive beta test.  Now, it may not mean much if things don't continue along... I go back in a couple days for the next test... but it could mean a whole lot. 

Normally you're not supposed let people know until 12 weeks, but since there is a real possibility I won't make it that far - I am shamelessly soliciting prayers and positive thoughts.  I don't know if there are lots of readers or just 2 or 3, but I'll take them all...

This could be it!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Magazine Review: Goodcents Cooking

So, standing in the aisles for the checkout - I may peruse a magazine while I wait - but beyond the Washingtonian or a graphic design trade, I am not one to purchase one.  I found myself in the books section of Walmart and was surprised by the number of magazines and the variety on the shelves.  I rarely use recipes so while the cooking magazines are cool for a perusal, I can usually just pass them by...

Until I saw one called Goodcents Cooking and another by Better Homes and Gardens entitled Dinner on the Dollar.  Now I admit to being very... frugal when it comes to some things so this was enough to get me to pick the magazines up.

I bought them for several reasons, but for today - let's talk about Goodcents Cooking.

First, the premiere issue (yup - it's new and has a website at was only $3.49 US.  Not 5 or 8 or 10, but a reasonable amount for an item you won't likely keep but may tear some good articles from or mark for potential shopping trips.

Inside, they have a legend spelling out their main areas:

Tasty Tidbits: Food related trivia and facts.  (I did not know carrots used to come in white, purple and orange.  Orange was developed in the Netherlands during the 16th century for the House of Orange and is now considered the norm!  Fun fact and now I want to find some white and purple carrots...)

Kitchen Finds:  Must-have gadgets for the kitchen to save you time, money and stress - I was sold on the word gadget.  (The Skeleton Gingerbread Man Cookie Cutter for Halloween and the Pie Crust makers (which I think would work for fondant as well) are on my "want now" list!)

Quick Class:  Teaching master culinary techniques in simple terms and pictures.  (I am inspired to find some kitchen twine to stuff and tie the pork loin I have at home.  Luckily, there are some recipes for the stuffing in this magazine as well...)

Regional Tastes: Road trip of regional varieties of the same dish.  To start with: Chili!  Yum!

Three Ways:  Surprising ways to use an everyday food item.  (I consider myself a creative cook, but Popcorn Pancakes and Popcorn Polenta are things I would NEVER have thought up.  They look yummy though.)

5 or Less: Quick things you can cook with 5 or less easy to attain ingredients in your kitchen.

In the Kitchen with:  Personal kitchen conversations with celebrity chegs and cooks!

Life on the Farm: Visit a family farm and connect through photos and a family recipe.

Food Trip:  Travel to a destination to experience a culinary adventure.  This issue features Oktoberfest around the country - looks pretty great and includes some awesome recipes!

Dinners for $10:  Meet an author of a cookbook and get the skinny on some new food possibilities.

Centsible Cook:  Expert coupon bloggers offer tips and they compare products.  In this issue, knives - from stainless to ceramic.

Last Bite: Wrapping up with a simple decadent recipe.

But that doesn't address the Halloween bash for $50 bucks article, the awesome Squash segment where you learn some really awesome ways to use those variety of squash, or the plan ahead segment where you learn some quick (and useful tips) for prepping / cooking meals early and easily.

I recommend this magazine.  I now have pork loin, chili, and spaghetti squash chocolate muffins to make!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

IMHO: Healthcare discussion

This is not a political blog, nor do I wish it to be.  I do, however, have some thoughts I'd like people to consider as they wade into the healthcare debate:

Some things to consider:

You may say you're healthy - but you can be a carrier for a number of illnesses and never once have a symptom yourself. Should you be charged for making others sick?

You may also have genetics that have disorders that are unknown (my brother was the first hemophiliac in my family to anyone living's knowledge) that may bring forth a child with medical needs for their entire life. Should that child pay more because you didn't know your entire DNA history before reproducing?

There are a number of single parents for various reasons whose children grow up to be adults without familial monies supporting them. As young adults attempting to start work or school, they may be hit by a car, slip on ice or catch a cold - is it then "natural selection" for them because they don't have the ready funds to pay for those situations?

No one wants to pay more - but we all have to pay what is necessary as a society.  I drive a hybrid car - I use less gasoline than most.  Why should I pay for the overconsumption of others making gas such a "precious commodity?  Because I use public transportation, airplanes and other things that consume gas.  Do I think the cost is ridiculous, sure, but until pressure is put to bear in that market - that industry calls the shots.  When they risk losing more customers than keeping them - things may change.   

As a society, we sometimes share certain burdens.  The prevention of the spread of illness (see: Black Plague) is worth the investment.  Much like the upkeep of the physical infrastructure to prevent people from falling to bodies of water because the bridge or roadway falls apart.  If I didn't drive, could I be annoyed for every taxpayer dollar that goes to improve roads I never use.

Also, as many markets prove - premiums can rise for a minute but when people stop using them because they are too costly and can't compete - they have to come down.  I feel like currently the housing market and the banking industries are prime examples of forcible change to prevent going out of business altogether.  It may seem very Walmart, but in every industry - there is always someone who can lowball you to keep the prices competitive and affordable.

In this situation, the federal government has created the healthcare Walmart. In my mind, this means there is no longer a private monopoly on a necessary function.  Does it mean there will be complaining and difficulty in implementation - sure.  Walmart is accused on the regular of driving small businesses out of communities, but in exchange they make things affordable for the masses.  You can still go to your specialty shops, organic stores, and hand-woven boutiques - but the regular person can also eat, clothe, and purchase for themselves - at a price that keeps the majority from overpaying. 

As for the new healthcare, I will never probably need to use it in the near-term, because my family makes too much money and have insurance through employment - but I'm sure someone I know or care about will. And that's worth it to me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Little discoveries

So this week has been about little discoveries (and trying to finish the blog posts from last week - I know, I know!) that I wanted to share:

First - grilled cheese in the toaster!  How?  Like this! Non Stick Toaster Bags

Second - make your own yogurt!  How?  Like this! Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker

Third - Um... I got distracted again, so we'll go with this for now.

See you later!

Monday, September 9, 2013

World Market

One of my favorite places to shop is World Market.  If you're unfamiliar with the store and their policies, I recommend checking them out.  The name, World Market, is a little misleading as it implies they can be found everywhere when in fact they are in select locations.  There is a large abundance of world influence on everything from the food to the furniture.

The prices range from expensive to dirt cheap and you can find a little of everything there.  Recently, I have begun collecting pieces for the new house.  Nothing big, but some of the little additions needed to bring a room together.

On Labor Day, World Market celebrated the whole weekend.  They took items already on clearance and marked them down another 50%.  There were so many good items, but here's what I came away with:

Barbeque shelf:  My husband has recently taken up grilling.  As such his oversized utensils were in the way and difficult to store.  When I saw this little shelf for $12.50 I had to have it.  Now I want to add some screen doors to it and it will be perfect!

Bar stools:  The plan is for us to have a sit at bar.  Since I have this french mod-country motif playing in my head - I wanted some solid wood stools I could weather with chalk paint and this is what I found!  I bought two for $22.50 each!  I want to stencil a fleur de lis on each of them and then weather them a bit!

Flour sack / linen pillows:  The last thing I found were these great accent pillows (for the new couches we will get) for $7.25 each.  Gorgeous and well priced!

These are just a few of the finds I grabbed.  There were some great pantry items (Hello Honey cookies we missed after France!) and odds and ends.  I suggest checking out the latest sale near you!

PS:  I have a drafting table (solid wood) from World Market that has lasted for many years and several moves with no problems at all.  We're talking quality workmanship on the furniture!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A little truth: The benefit of a relationship with your father

Recently, I was talking about my relationship with my Dad.  He wasn't perfect, but he was a great father.  People don't see what happens behind closed doors but in a family, you get to see it all.  The fights between the parents, the struggle to raise a child, issues with money, and the list goes on.

For all those things we went through - and we went through many - my father was pretty consistent with all three of his children.  Even if he was annoyed from work or mad with mom or tired, he was still our Dad.

I give my mother credit, for the most part, she managed to not tear him down to us even when things were bad between them.  Oh sure, there were times she vented about him and sometimes it was TMI - especially since I was the oldest by 8 years and more mature for my age.  But overall, she encouraged us to build a relationship with our father.  Good, bad, or otherwise - it was on us and not based on anything else.

As I grew older, I learned to appreciate some of the insights only my Dad could impart.  He and I communicated in a different way than I did with my mother.  It filled other parts of my development.  As an adult, he was one of my best friends - even when he was telling me stuff I didn't want to hear (like all good best friends do!).

Anyway, during the conversation, it was mentioned to me that a family close to mine was struggling with a divorce.  The children seem to have decided the mother was right and the father was wrong (long before the divorce the kids had made it clear they were "on their mother's side no matter what") - so now that they are divorcing, they have basically written their father off.  Partially because they feel it's what their mother expects and partially because, in their lives, that's what loyalty is...

This made me so sad.  Even when my mother and I were at our worst (ant there were many years of "If we never see one another again, I don't think either of us cares") - we still had SOME sort of relationship.  Begrudgingly even, because SHE IS MY MOTHER!  When things healed, I learned to appreciate the relationship we managed to maintain, rebuild and strengthen in a way I never would have thought possible.

These three kids are risking losing out on the chance to have whatever wisdom, laughter, and memories they can with their father by getting caught up in something that has nothing to do with them.  My Dad died unexpectedly, reminding us all that there is no promise of tomorrow.  Squandering what time we could have to love one another, despite the situation, seems like a huge waste to me.  I'd give so much to have one more chance to talk, argue, hug, or just say, "I love you" to my Dad.  

So, I've been considering what the benefits of having that relationship could be - and let me state clearly, if you're in a non-traditional family this still applies because sometimes the single mother, uncle, other mother or other dad fills the same role I'm describing here.

Your parents are two halves of a whole entity as a child.  Usually one is the emotional ground and the other is the logical process person.  One might be the disciplinarian while the other is the one who teaches flexibility and mercy.  Knowing and embracing a relationship with both halves gives us the ability to turn that around in our lives.  To embrace all parts of not only ourselves, but the people we let into our lives. 

I think it helps you love deeper, be a better friend, and a more well-rounded person in general.  All in all, I think it's worth fighting for and protecting.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Mortal Instruments Series

There is a movie in the theaters called "City of Bones" based on book 1 of the Mortal Instruments book series by Cassandra Clare.  This series is listed as young adult.  First, I will tell you that until the latter books - it's pretty good for most young adult readers.  The subjects of love, attraction and sex between the noted teenage protagonists is handled without crossing that very fine line.  There is a strong backbone dealing with honesty, morality, and basic understanding of who actually makes up your family throughout the entire series.  If you get nothing else from this storyline, it's that your choices have consequences and those consequences affect more than just you. 

I've actually read all 5 books.  Some people groan and say, "Another 'Twilight-esque' tween book" (and by some people, I mean my husband) but to be completely honest - there's a depth of characters along with a truly different take and twist on not only the paranormal but angels and demons and good / evil in general.  Depending on your depth of knowledge of religious history, there is enough "truth" in the pudding to help draw you into the world they are exposing - not creating but rather attempting to assert a different view on the place you already live.

The main character, a teenage girl named Clarissa, is (initially) all things entitled current-day teenager.  She's easy to dislike.  Her strength of character begins to show with her personal relationships.  You can see the adult she will become - and that is a person you can like.  Strangely enough, for me, the character I find I like the most is one that initally is peripheral in nature.  He goes from being the awkward nerd with a huge crush on a girl who does NOT return his feelings to the most stable, dependable backbone in an everchanging environment. 

If you don't get wrapped up in the fledgling romances (which are the only parts, IMO, that are strictly for the teen audiences), you will be immersed in the depths of the world and character Ms. Clare builds.  I personally find the romantic piece distracting from the good parts of the storyline. 

Now, I've seen the movie - and I have to tell you.  It's lackluster compared to the books.  Enjoyable in the sense of a decent storyline (I hate when they make changes for the big screen that don't follow the book - especially in a series), acceptable acting, and lastly - great production values.  

I just find my imagination and the details the author gives you in the storyline are so much richer and exciting than what Hollywood was able to produce.

This is just my opinion of course but: Read the books!

Exciting Week to Follow

This week is going to be chock full of things:

1.  World Market finds and uses in the household - I've decided there are some unique places to shop and knowing when and how to use them is something I should share.  We're starting with a personal favorite, World Market! 

2.  TTC:  Weight Loss and Pregnancy - do they go together??  Doing some research into things and have made some very interesting discoveries.

3.  Family Finances: Teaching the teenager money management - creative processes required for the ADD kid!

So, that's just the starter.  Posts to follow - I'm super excited to have some truly new content instead of my personal melodrama.. not that there won't be any of that, but here's to some new stuff!


Monday, August 26, 2013

So much to tell you!

First, I apologize for once again disappearing for a few days!  Things have been busy and keeping up with 3 kids is a lot of work. 

So, first things first - I had that audition for a Broadway show a couple weeks ago - still no word, so I've decided no news is good news.  I have another big audition tonight, so crossing all the important parts that it goes well.

We are in our third TTC cycle.  Hopefully by the end of the week we'll be moving into stage 2.  Then it's the dreaded wait for 2 weeks. 

Still working on house plans.  Seriously folks -this part is making me anxious.  Everytime I think I find a floorplan I like, I find something about it I hate.  I'm looking for the least amount of changes possible to control costs and it's like finding a needle in a haystack.  I've resorted to trying to draw my own floorplan. 

I am a designer, not an architect.  This math stuff is hard!

Almost as hard as sticking to my new eating plan - in theory, I'll only be eating things that grow naturally or come from an animal directly.  No processed stuff unless I make it from scratch myself.

As I sit here next to my leftovers from Cheesecake Factory (Monte Cristo sandwich from the Sunday Brunch - no ham - YUM!) and think on the cupcakes MH bought me, now languishing in the fridge, I have to tell you that I don't think things are going according to plan at all.  It's all delicious, but not the plan.  Why can't the stuff I'm supposed to be eating taste like this?!!

Lastly, we're looking at dogs to adopt.  One is currently healing from a minor surgery, but we're hoping she becomes available soon.  We want her!

Other than that, it's just another day in the rat race.  Happy cheese hunting!

PS:  I almost forgot!  I've officially lost my mind.  I signed up for the 5k Zombie Run in October because - hey, it's zombies in the woods and that sounds like fun.  (My idea of fun and yours may differ.)  But then I signed up for a 5k triathalong in September because I've apparently gone crazy.  What on EARTH am I thinking??  I'll let you know how it goes.

Unless of course that much exercise does me in...

Monday, August 19, 2013

In memory of my father

August 9th marked the 5th anniversay of my father's death.  To say I took losing him unexpectedly at 55 hard is an understatement.  Today I found myself going through some old emails from that year and finding some from him that brought tears, laughter, and finally inner reflection.

I am sharing with you a message he sent in early 2008 as he left one department for another within his agency.  He was moving to Alabama with my mother at the end of August, the movers had been unknowingly scheduled to pack him up a week after the day he died strangely enough.  For my parents it was a point of transition and in that vein, my father was given to wax a bit poetic at times.

Here is his letter:

Life can be characterized as a unique experience (or journey)
that is both simple and complex.  However, the outcome of our experience
depends as much on our past as it does our present, and paves the way
for the future.  We learn from our past experiences,  take notes in the
present, to support our transition into the future.  But the future
never comes because it will always be either the past or the present.

        To embrace our life experiences successfully, requires us to
accept change as we proceed along life's journey.  Acceptance of change
will enhance the transition process of our future life experiences, and
as a result we will always be in a constant state of change.  Change can
be good depending on our acceptance and attitude toward change.  The
challenges we face as a result of change, may very well highlight our
acceptance or attitude toward that change.  As a result, I have become
accustomed to accepting change and, recognize that my departure is a
result of change.

        My tenure in this position was one of life's experiences as a result of
change, and the process was both complex and rewarding.  I've met
several wonderful people along the way who helped make this transition
(or experience) very smooth.  You have contributed greatly to my life
experience for which I will always be grateful.  The bible states that
we "reap what we sow."

Therefore, I hope and pray that I've sown good seeds into your lives
during my tenure here, as much as the good seeds you've sown into my

        It has been noted for quite some time that 2008 promised many
changes, and my transition to my new position will accommodate one of the promised
changes; as well as add to my life experience.  Likewise, I pray that
your 2008 life experience will be bountiful, accommodating and rewarding; all
of which may be both complex and simple.  My hat goes out to everyone
and their life experiences.  May your change transition be very smooth
and may you reap the rewards of the seeds you've sown.


Ulysses (aka Moon)

Reading back on this letter, I realize it could have been written to all of those he left behind in August 2008.  Five years later... and my Dad can still speak to me.

I will love and miss him always - and appreciate his wisdom more every year. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

TTC: Epiphany

Let me say this journey has once again gone negative.  So we have to regroup and prepare to "try again"... which of course leads me down a road of obsessive "What could I have done to make it work?" thinking.  Which I did a lot of yesterday while shutting out my husband.  Sometimes, I am pretty silly unintentionally.  Getting out of my own head can be hard.

Today - I had a lightbulb moment that almost knocked me over.  I have been making this even harder than it has to be.

You see, I was - and have been for a few months - obsessing about the weight I've gained in the past couple years.  Between that and the inability to conceive, I've (in the back of my mind) been constantly berating and negating myself.  MH keeps asking me if I 'know I'm beautiful'.  I tell him thank you and that I'm glad he feels that way - but the truth is - No, I don't know that.  He's not the first person to say that to me, but I have never believed that.

For a performer, that's kind of ridiculous, right?  Maybe that's why I can be such a great character actor but anything approaching who I really am causes me to freeze up.  The psych major in me is slapping her forehead and saying, "Really?  Classic."  But sometimes, it's the obvious issues that are the biggest stumbling blocks, right?  The funny thing is, when it comes to my FT job (Graphic Design) I have none of these hangups - total confidence - because my talent has never been in question.  Just the vessel that carries it...

When you're TTC, self-esteem doesn't seem that important - after all, it's all about the new life and your family, right?  It's much easier to focus on everyone else.  But the more you try and fail, it gets harder and harder to pull yourself up and be hopeful.  Why?  Because, for right now, it really is all about you.  It's about the body and all its parts that will carry a life.  From the emotional and mental to the physical, all those little things you've pushed aside so you can move forward are suddenly sitting on the end of the bed staring at you. 

This doesn't mean you can't get pregnant and have a child - people do it all the time.   Healthy emotional and mental states aren't required for procreation normally, just look around and that's self-evident.  But the physical is often tied to our emotional state and when you're struggling that connection is even more prevalent. 

So today I realized, I need to stop being my own worst enemy.  All the negative inner thoughts, which I honestly hadn't realized I was doing, must cease.   I am capable of being a mother in every sense and eventually the timing will be right, the physical will be right and it will happen.

Now I need to make sure I have the rest of me ready for that. 

Will I still obssess over weight?  Yes, I'm female.  But I'm going to stop beating myself up and go back to making better choices based on what my body needs vice what my brain and emotions tell me I want.  What happens will happen.  I'm just going to make myself happy for once.

Will I still worry about being able to conceive?  Yes.  But I have the body I have and didn't give myself PCOS and anemia, it's a fact of life.  So the best I can do is manage it, look at the positives, and continue doing the best I can with what I have.  Complaining, blaming, or wallowing never improved anything.

Is it going to be easy?  Hahahahha.  No, but then most things in life worth having never are - and peace, joy and freedom from personal baggage are definitely worth having.

Maybe my kid will end up with a less neurotic parent after all...

...Or we'll just be be like everyone else.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stepmother Blues: Walking the fine line

If I haven't mentioned it, I'm the stepmother to 3 kids now.  One, the 14 year old, lives with us and the other two live with their mother. 

Being a stepmom is harder than you'd think.  You fall in love with the kids pretty quick (there is a reason God made them adorable and funny in their youth - so they live long enough to become adults!) but you have such little influence on the discipline and general principles they follow.  They look to their parents for those and if you disagree - what can you really do?

So it's tough, you get all the burdens of a parent: worry, care and feeding, and general guidance but it's so hard to get any of the respect. 

Not that I don't get it at my house... I'm not afraid to make it clear that in my house, my rules exist.  It's just tough when things are so different elsewhere and they have to adjust to our household.  I feel like the constant villain.

Maybe that will be my new icon.  (My favorite stepmother, the evil queen from Snow White in Once Upon a Time - Regina!)

From the Ground Up: Floorplans everywhere

Maryland has a number of nodular home builders with floorplans.  I believe I have looked at them all. 


Sadly, about half of them use the same floorplans over and over again.   Boring and lacking any form of unique identity.  I wonder how those builders, in this economy, think they are going to stand out from the competition if they don't have anything special to offer?  It's a basic marketing tenet - have something to sell that the other guy doesn't or have a way of providing a service that's unique.  No one wants "just another chocolate chip cookie", right?

Thankfully, I've discovered some gems in the midst of the rubble and have saved many floorplans to review and decision making.


So many that when I try to go through them with my loving husband, he inevitably gets bored and wanders away either physically or mentally (TV syndrome)... which drives me nuts, but I understand it.  I can visualize each floorplan.

I see the rooms decorated and imagine the flow of traffic.  I can see people over for holidays and parties.  I hear the kids romping up and down the stairs.  I visualize myself cooking in the kitchen.  When I see the measurements, I'm already figuring out where existing furniture would go and what pieces would be gone forever. 

My hubby, on the other hand, sees the basic concept of what's drawn on the paper and not much else.  Which is normal for an analytical mind, after all - I'm the artist, right?  Because of that, each floorplan is not a new adventure into "oooh, what could this place look like" for him - they all start to look the same.  Kitchen?  Check.  Master bedroom with sitting area? Check.  Enough bedrooms for kids?  Check.  Decent porch for grilling?  Check.  2 car garage with workshop or 3 car garage?  Check.  Aaaaand... he's done.

The lesson I'm learning is that I 'm going to need to get the number of choices down to a solid 10.  From roughly 200 to 10. 

I better go - I have work to do!

TTC: Big day

Tomorrow we have the test done to find out if the IUI was successful.  I greatly fear the results.  It's very hard to remain hopeful sometimes.  I wish I could just "know" inside and not worry about it - but since my body is determined to betray me at every turn... I am working on regaining my faith.

Lots of prayers and well-wishes would be welcome!

If you're wondering, "What will you do next?"  The answer is, I have no idea.  If this didn't work, MH and I need to discuss how much more money, time and tears we want to put into this phase of things?  Can we afford more intensive help? 

For me personally, I have to decide if this aching desire of my heart is something I'm capable of giving up...

If tomorrow is positive, I also don't know what I will do... I haven't allowed myself to think that way.

This TTC thing is draining!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pursuit of dreams

You're never too old to pursue your dreams.  I watched American Ninja Warrior competitions with my stepson yesterday and saw people in their late 40's doing things I am not sure I can do now!  I saw people who changed their lives sitting behind a computer into a physical momument to determination in fit physiques and perserverance.  Even when they didn't win (and many didn't make it) they left with positive attitudes and the assurance that they would return.

In my 20s I used to think there were time limits on achieving goals.  You have to be married by a certain time, making a certain dollar amount before you hit 30, done all your traveling and crazy attempts at stardom before you're 35...

Well - I married at 37.  I haven't hit the 6 figure salary and I'm 38.  I started traveling on my own at 31 and continue that with my husband today.  And Saturday... I auditioned for a Broadway show.

Now let's be clear, I know there is a needle in haystack chance of my getting a role but it was a good audition - possibly the best musical audition I've ever had - and now my face is officially in someone's casting folder. 

My husband encouraged me to the nth degree to make the attempt, despite our young marriage and current attempts at TTC.  Likewise, I encourage his entry into the Savage Race, Tough Mudder - or anything else he wants to try.

The calendar may say we're too old, or perhaps our preconceived life expectations are saying that, but we're determined that so long as we draw breath - the pursuit of dreams does not have to end.

So for all of you ready to take the leap, as they say in my world "Break legs!"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Quick update

Yes, I am still alive.

I have tons to share but things are a little crazy plus there is a big opportunity coming my way that until I see how it pans out, I'm going to keep a little private.

However there are lots of other things for us to discuss!

Look for:

1.  Another Marriage Files
2.  From the Ground up - part 4..5...25
3.  TTC journey update
4.  The power of positivity

Hope you're having a great week!  Welcome to August...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

App Review: Duolingo

This is actually more than an app review.  I hadn't planned to write a review, but it's something I recently started using more and more.

I speak a few languages, but like anything - if you don't use it, you lose it.  The refinement on my skills has been whittled away and I'd like to correct that.  I stumbled upon Duolingo and decided to give it a try - after all it's free, right?

Turns out they have a pretty great product!  While the initial stages are pretty easy if you're fluent in the language, the methodology of immediately working your vocabulary, sentence structure and conjugation skills simultaneously is brilliant.  No rote memorization but real utilization of the language.

I decided to try a language I was less fluent in and it's actually helping me learn the language better.  My next trial will be a language with which I have zero familiarity so I can see what it's like as a teaching / learning tool for a novice.

I recommend you give it a try and faster than you imagined, you'll have another language to use, abuse, and expand your life!

Oh - and I know it says app up there... Guess what, there is a companion app available to take with you so if you can't log in daily to work your brain at the computer, you can sign into your account on the go and continue your success.

I am not entirely certain why it's free (I'll admit, I didn't delve too deeply into this) but it's totally worth it!  And don't think it's only for the native english speaker - it's not!  What a great resource for someone of any nationality to learn a new language.

Bonne Chance!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Kitchen Dreams

So now we get to pick out the layout for our new house.  I've been pouring over hundreds of floor plans.  None of them are perfect as is, but some are very close.  One thing none of them seem to have is the perfect kitchen layout. 

To that end, I need to keep in mind the kind of kitchens I love as I go through this process.  Here are some examples:

Why don't they just design them this way for me?  Oh well, I'm not too shy to ask for what I want!

America the Entitled: It's hard to raise kids here

You've heard the phrase, "First world problems", right?  As I look at the youth of today (mostly represented in my step-children, children of friends, and those in my sphere of social interaction), I find that most of the problems in this country can be traced back to a sense of entitlement.  I know, I know - hippie idealism speaking here - but seriously, what happened to teaching hard work, you get what you earn in life, and your happiness does not outweigh the rights of everyone around you?

Stay with me for a second:

Initially this country was built on the premise that every human being was entitled to be alive, free, and able to pursue happiness.  Not to much to ask, right?  There was a general understanding in the social structure that you would not abuse your rights so as to inflict yourself on another person's rights along the way.  Whenever a group or institution would veer away from the basic three, a roar would go up from the people defending the victim.  From race to gender to sexual preference, America is known to befriend the little guy.

However this sentiment can actually go too far.  In an effort to "pursue happiness", no one wants to work anymore.  No one wants to earn their place in the world, it should just be theirs because they were born.  Like the old construct of royal society, I am worthy because I am.

Parents fight for their kids to get the same grades, the same trophy, equal placement in every area - regardless of whether their child has earned it. (And, yes - there are situations where a child does need intervention because they have a disability or are truly being treated unfairly, but that's not the common situation I'm discussing here.) Losing has become the flag for "unfair treatment".   There is little respect for the process for attainment - it's all about the getting.  (One of my stepchildren, when we were shopping, asked for something that I denied (I couldn't afford it and we didn't need it.)  Her response, "I'll just ask my mom.  She never says no to anything I want."  What can you say to that?)

In turn, children respect authority less and less - after all, that doesn't have to be earned either, right?  Look at our leadership, if you can buy it - you can have it.  (Not that I'm saying all politicians buy their way into office, but the finances sadly play almost as a large a part as the issues and political standpoints they represent.)  And the authority in place is given less and less ability to actually guide and correct.  Even teachers are handcuffed from being able to truly teach, test and promote those who are making the effort to learn.  At the rate we're going, they will be overpaid babysitters.  Which is unfortunate, since most people don't make the choice to teach unless they truly love children and want to make their world better.

I cringe to hear kids talking back to adults with disdain or sarcasm as well.  When did that become acceptable?  The constant arguing over any expectation that they pull their weight makes me sad.  It smacks of a lack of discipline and structure in their lives.  (And let's be clear, I'm not talking about physical discipline - but ANY discipline.  If you child has no fear of consequences, they have no boundaries to learn right versus wrong or social tenets.  I feel that's one of the major jobs of a parent.  It's not fun, but you're raising a human being that will one day be a part of the society at large - you have a responsibility.)

Television is difficult to watch for me, because American programming smacks of entitlement.  We complain about things that are so superfluous at times it's nauseating.  One visit to a truly poor nation would cure many people of their complaint about our country. 

The last few months, I have struggled to find a new job.  I'm content to stay where I am for now because we can't afford the lifestyle we live without my income.  Not that we couldn't downsize, curb spending, and adjust to live on less - we could, we just don't want to...and in turn, I'm willing to put in the work and suffering on my end to have what I want.  I have no expectation that it will be given to me by anyone. 

As we go along, I endeavor to impress these ideals on the younger generations I come into contact with by reminding them that their rights should never intrude on the rights of others.  If only I could impress those ideals on the power segment of this country as well.  I fear that if we don't change the wave of entitlement we're riding, we're all going to drown in it.

It's challenging to be a parent in a society where everything seems like it's a credit card swipe away and your child is owed every possible advantage.  How do you teach basic values, morals, and social expectations?

There is a fine line between setting a child up for success and trying to pave their every footstep for them.  There is value in losing, being second or even last, and learning to earn your way forward.  There is value in fear - not of scary monsters in the closet - but in the concept of failure.  Teaching our next generation how to fail without anxiety but with initiative and an eye towards progress should be a goal.  Lastly, community service is a valuable tool to keep us grounded in the reality that we don't live alone.  We may have first world problems, but we are surrounded by those suffering in much worse conditions.   The ability to see our lives in that perspective is something I wish I could bottle.  I especially want our children to learn this ability, so our future can be a little less entitled for a few as we all pursue some happiness.

So, my questions to the parents out there (step parents as well!):  Am I nuts or is anyone else seeing this problem?  And I'll be honest and say, this isn't something new - it's several generations strong at this point.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Marriage Files #105: Learn how to fight

We went to premarial counseling.  It's something I appreciate more and more every day.  Some of the things we discussed and agreed upon there have morphed already, but the fundamental understandings prevent a lot of serious situations.
All that being said - we still fight.  At first, it scared me to death when we would fight.  I thought each one was the precursor to us breaking up.  The advantage to marrying a marital veteran is that he knew better.  His calm reassurance that fighting was normal helped me calm down and gain some perspective.  Since then, I've done a little research (hey, it's my thing!) and found some interesting facts:
  1. You will fight more early in your marriage, but less as time goes on:  Rationale: Fighting is learning to communicate and work through situations.  It's forced discussion and gives you the chance to learn how to talk to your spouse for positive effect.  You learn how to avoid future fights and eventually how to make decisions together.
  2. Fighting is healthy:  Rationale: If you never fight, that's not a great sign.  One or both is not being totally honest in the relationship.  No two human beings can coexist in the same space for a long period of time without conflict.  It's natural when you have constant invasion in personal space and routine to have breaking points.  Whether it's out of annoyance, miscommunication or lack of expectation management - it happens.  Not talking about things when they happen is not healthy.  Emotions don't just blow over in most cases.  People stew about little things that, if talked about, could be misunderstandings or small issues.  Small issues that left unchecked become huge grudges and walls to be leapt over.  Also, people change (spoiler alert!) and as that happens, there may be behaviors and choices your spouse doesn't like - those need to be discussed.  Since some changes happen without realization, they may come out in an argument and both parties get to work together adapting.
  3. Having the fight isn't the problem, HOW you fight can be.  Rationale:  Fights are about resolving a conflict and increasing communication.  In a relationship, the fights are never personal.  Process, personal feelings on the effect of a behavior, or a specific issue are the roots of most fights.  From money to kids to family to sex, none of those should dissolve into personal fights.  If the fights involve attacking the personality, physicality, mental or emotional makeup of the other person - that's a huge problem.  Name calling, belittling, dismissing, or negating take the fight from a conversation to an attack.  Sometimes that happens without intent.  People get upset and emotional and blurt out something to change the conversation, but in a relationship - caution, tact, and self-editing before you speak is crucial.  Obviously physical confrontations have no place in a relationship, but sometimes verbal attacks can do more damage than a fist. 
    Some clues if your fighting wrong include: 
    • Someone gets quiet and stops fighting.  This is usually a sign that they are hurt, thinking about something you said that was unexpected, or so angry they are afraid to retaliate lest they escalate the situation.  This is a good moment to recount your last words and clarify or apologize if necessary.  If you're the person who is withdrawing - STOP.  This is one of the noted methods of fighting that leads to divorce.  Passive-aggressive behavior and avoidance do not progress a relationship or solve issues.  Instead of shutting down (and I admit I'm guilty of this at times), make it clear you want to continue the discussion but you need to process what the other person has just said.  If something hurt you, admit that and leave it alone.  Everyone in this situation is going to be defensive - so waiting a day to sit down calmly and reattack the issue and not one another is key.
    • Tears are involved when the situation or issue doesn't warrant crying and the person is not prone to emotional tears.  If it's you in tears, now is the time to walk away - for a moment - from the conversation.  You won't be able to concentrate on the issue and it's hard to explain what upset you when you're crying.  Far better to get it out of your system them address as soon as possible.  If you caused the tears, don't go in for the kill.  Remember this is someone you care about - so taking a step back and toning down the conversation might be the best step.
    • Cursing and nasty barbs enter the conversation.  A button was pushed or a statement considered over the line has been thrown into the mix.  Sometimes sarcastic responses lead right into this area.  My hubby and I have ended up in arguments that started out joking, but quickly traveled into thinly veiled sarcastic quips about real things that were bothering us.  Then a real fight started and we had to take some steps back to really look at what we were upset about.  These are not productive arguments and the comments linger like poison in your mind, even after the making up is over.
So after reading up on the topic, some things I've learned are:
  1. Know when to walk away.  I can be tenacious when I am in a debate about something, especially if I think I'm right.  I have no intent to be dogged but I am often unaware of when the conversation has dwindled into my standing on my soap box.  I chalk it up to passionate enthusiasm, but it is something I'm working on because it makes talking with my husband difficult.  Knowing when to walk away is a gift some people have naturally.  They can see that the conversation needs some time to perculate while everyone thinks things through. 
  2. Be wrong.  Sometimes you know you're right but no matter what you say, the situation isn't going to go your way.  I find, in moments like these, I'm learning the art of being wrong.  I'm secure enough to know that letting my viewpoint go to the wayside may make certain things more difficult but will resolve themselves over time.  Alternately, sometimes - I'm not right.  In that moment in time, with that person, in that place - no matter what facts I think I have - my choice or viewpoint isn't right for us as a couple.  Learning the difference between what's right for just me and what's right for us takes some adjustment.  I wish I could say there's a cut and dried way of knowing when this is the right choice, but there isn't.  For me, some things are worth fighting over and letting it go is worth making my hubby happy.
  3. D.B.A.D. (Don't Be A Douche).  Don't gloat when you're right- "I told you so" never led anywhere good.  Don't go for the low blows or the past mistakes.  Never use family, personal quirks, or self-admitted deficiencies as a point in an argument.  When someone trusts you so intimately with their heart, your job is to protect it.  Even in the middle of a fight.  When that stops happening, it's time to start looking at some deeper issues.  Don't play the emotions card - bursting into tears to win an argument is beneath you. 
Ultimately - fight with respect and love.  Only engage when it's a worthwhile conversation and be ok with not winning.  The longer the relationship grows together, with it's skirmishes and battles, the easier they get and the less frequent.  In the end, you should get stronger and better when you fight together.

These are my opinions and frankly, I'm new at the marriage thing.  If you have some better advice, I'm all ears.  If this gives you food for thought, great!  Mostly, I hope it starts health conversations not only in your personal relationships but everywhere.  We could all do with arguing productively rather than for the goal of winning an argument.

Additional articles to the links above:
Marriage vows and levels of conflict
Ohio State: Dealing with Anger in Marriage (A more clinical, but excellent read)
The stages of marriage
10 tips to make your first year of marriage easier (These actually are good for the whole marriage!)

TTC: Going Mental

Something about this process is more mentally draining than tacking the toughest situation at work.  I'm not entirely sure if it's the trying NOT to worry, plan or research or absorbing all the information when you finally break down and do one or all three of those.

This round, as the last was not a success, will be IUI.   I'm trying not to be superhopeful and to divorce my emotions from the process as much as possible.  I don't know that it will make the disappointment and heartbreak less or the joy dimmed if there is a positive outcome, but it might keep me sane.

Occassionally I wander by the baby section of Target.  I call it research when in fact I know it's just longing and trying to psych myself into postive thinking.  I'm not sure it's healthy, but I'm not sure what else to do.  All around me friends are getting pregnant, giving birth, or going on about their recent new additions to the family.  I am thrilled for them, but with every happy post, email or picture - I wonder if I'm doomed.

I mean, I know it's illogical that there are only a certain number of allowable happy moments in a circle of friends, but it does seem to come in waves.  I wonder incessantly if I'll be alone on my island when my time comes.  My friends will all have kids and be basically uninterested in my news - life-changing for me, but old hat for them, right?   I'll be happy no matter what, but it's something I wonder about.

I also find myself reluctant to visit friends with newborns or young infants.  I'm so happy when I'm there holding them and being with my friends, but the drive home is often filled with tears and dread.

None of that can be good when you're on the TTC journey, right?

Thankfully, I have a cousin who is going through this process at the same time as I am.  Having her to talk to about the ridiculous stuff is great.  She understands the irony in losing all sense of modesty after the nth time plopping up on a table and allowing someone to shove a wand up *there* and check you out.  Sometimes 2 or 3 times a week.  When I mention the new shot caused a burning sensation, she knows exactly what I'm talking about.

We can chuckle over our husbands dislike of certain aspects of the treatment (see: needles) and mourn together when a cycle is unsuccessful. 

Remaning as positive and hopeful as possible, and avoiding worry are key, but difficult.  Having support, the occasional visit to the stroller aisle, and remembering to laugh are vital.  It will keep you sane.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

App Review: All You magazine recommends

I am working on a marriage files post, but I keep getting distracted with stuff like work, kids, husband, unpacking.. you know, minutiae... Just kidding.  I have been distracted by the July 26 copy of All You magazine.  This little $2.99 gem often has hidden goodies but the coupons and savings apps this month are pretty darned awesome!

Here are the ones that I've checked out and really think can be handy:  (I'm not including links because I don't know what kind of toy you have (I got all of these on Google Play though and put them on my Samsung Note II).
  • Grocery IQ:  You scan barcodes on the food you have at home (makes a shopping list!) and it tells you if there is a coupon available. No clipping - it's on your phone!
  • Grocery Pal:  Points you to weekly in-store savings in your area.  Put in your zip code and shop away!
  • Checkpoints:  So, I'm the last to hear about most things and once again - this is a known app - but I will say I'm skeptical when it comes to redeeming the points.  If it's as advertised, then scanning barcodes will net some pretty nice rewards - at no cost to you (or me!)
  • Shopkick: Apparently there is a rewards program with this, but for now the biggest benefit I see is similar to Fancy.  It saves the items you shop for online at variuos stores and when you go to that store, it reminds you of the items you like and wanted to remember.
  • Dining Deals:  Ok, I've installed this but haven't benefitted from it yet.  It shops different deals / coupons at nearby eateries, but I haven't been wowed by the choices.  I live in a fairly suburban area, however, so the food choices can be limited.  I'll check it out next time I am in the city - maybe that will be more of a success.
  • GoodRx:  Seriously - if you have any regular meds you take or have kids who get randomly ill at the drop of the hat, this is great.  We get in the habit of going to the same place and accepting whatever they tell us the price may be.  Sometimes your copay is the lowest price and *surprise* sometimes, it's not!  This app lets you know.
  • Redlaser:  You're in the mall.  You've found a cute pair of shoes that you think is for a great price.  This app lets you know if any other vendor in the area has the same item for less.  I'm cheap frugal enough that this app is my new bestie.

Apps I have yet to try:
  • Decide:  You go to make a major purchase (like a new fridge) and scan the barcode.  The app lets you know (based on markey analysis) if the price could change in the next few weeks with a certain percentage of certainty.  Potentially could save you hundreds if there is likely to be a sale/market change coming up in that industry.  When we start shopping for stuff for the new house, this may come in handy.
  • HotelTonight:  Every day at noon, this app posts discounts of up to 70% off hotels in 54 U.S. locations, Canada, Mexico and Europe.  Name the destination you want that night and find a place to stay for a bargain.  This is something I think could be useful for an impromptu "getaway" for the hubby and I, without going very far.
Not just an app:  Tile

Imagine no more lost keys, phone, purse, dog, anything - you attach a little tile and it gives out a gps signal you can track with your phone or computer.  You log in and know where all your tiles are.  On your phone, it can tell you when you're getting close to a tile if you're searching for something small or moving.  Like kids.

Check out:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kane Konversations: Hot Time in the Office

I have to admit, working around military guys, there have been a few I thought were pretty hot.  But that's it.  I thought it, I never acted on it, and I moved on.  Today on the Kane show they were following up on an article earlier in the year because the Supreme Court in Iowa upheld an employer's right to fire someone because "they were too attractive and might cause the boss to be unfaithful".  WHAT?!!

When did the idea of personal responsibility go away?  Who is to say the woman would have even been interested but after 10 years of employment, he decided he could no longer take the temptation and fired her?!  How is that acceptable?

I feel badly for the woman who lost her job and every other employee of that man.  He is a dentist and if he does not respect the value of personal responsibility - then who is to say should a medical incident occur he won't blame some poor hapless staff member?  Ethics, moral responsibility, and the basic rights of this woman to have employment WHEN SHE DID NOTHING WRONG say this case was bogus.

But the Supreme Court of Iowa says I'm wrong.

What has the world come to?

So, let me ask you what Kane asked.  Since apparently 1 out 5 people is attracted to someone in their office, if you worked with someone who was distractingly attractive - would you feel you have the right to not work with them because they tempted you?

Truth: Surround yourself with what you want to reflect

Human beings as a species are a community oriented group.  We survive in a supportive and symbiotic relationship with one another.   We thrive in a positive, disciplined and productive society.  We revel in proactive, flexible, and imaginative progress and pursuits.  It’s human nature.  Curious creatures with the ability to absorb, adapt and affect our environment.
That being said, we are very much reflections of what natural and nurturing inputs come into our lives.  When we’re children, we don’t control those inputs.  From our parents to virtual strangers, we are sponges taking in every sensory input we contact.  Even if it’s not stored in the forefront of our thinking, it is in our psyche and can make its way into various parts of our lives in later years.  (That being said, it sure makes me think about how I behave in public all the time.  I do not want to leave an impression that’s sketchy or negative on anyone’s child – even a stranger.  Wouldn’t it be fitting that the one time I do something stupid, some kid sees it and forever thinks, “That’s how women act.” or “That’s how minorities act.” or “That’s how tall people act.”  You never know what impression the random passerby is gathering from you.)
As we age, we use those previous experiences to form our own choices.  We begin to impact others and are not only receiving but inputting into the society at large.  The teenage years are the breeding grounds of those processes.  The college years seem to be the test and evaluation phase for our theories.  Throughout our adulthood, we continue to grow and adapt.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed some things about myself and other close friends.
First:  We tend to unintentionally segregate ourselves from the negative or overdramatic
Many of my friends, like me, are performers.  We know drama.  We are drama – on stage.  But in our lives, we are in pursuit of the simpler forms of happiness.  Constant barrages of complaints, gossip, or sarcasm can be draining emotionally.  There is value in the people who bring calm, acceptance, and joy.
Second:  We understand our value of faith better
Whatever you call yourself or whomever you praise, even if it’s no one – that understanding of your feelings on faith or a higher power seems to become clearer the older you get.  What, or in my case  - Who, you rely on when human understanding fails you is important.  Whether it’s strictly logic and nature or God above , it is an important filter for some of the hardest moments in life.  As you get older and the buffers of youth fade away, learning to deal with the curves and difficulties life hands you can be very challenging.
Third:  We are less quick to act on our feelings
When you’re younger, you feel you have the right and freedom to express your emotions at any time, any place or with any person.  As you age, however, you start to look at the world through the eyes of those around you.  Your focus becomes on the perception you are giving others.  That is based solely on the type of person you believe yourself to be.  If you think of yourself as a helper or healer, you want your actions and reactions to be viewed in that light.  Perhaps you are a problem-solver or initiative driven person, you will want your actions and reactions to reflect those intents.  In that vein, we tend to pause before reacting.  Women like to chat about it with someone close to them that they trust as a sounding board to make sure their reactions are truly justified.  Men like to walk away and really get in their own heads before making a decision.  Taking the time to act has its pros and cons, but it definitely gives you a chance to shape your reaction in the most positive way.
Lastly:  We have learned over time the three roles of life and when to fulfill them
  • The Receiver - Sometimes you are receiving from others – love, kindness, advice, time, etc.  You may be in the place where you cannot be the rock others rely on, you need to lean.  That’s natural and normal. 
  •  The Rock – For whatever reason, you have some strength in your life at this point.  You find yourself helping everyone around you and it doesn’t drain you.  It’s your time to be the solid person who holds others up when they need it. 
  • The Filter – You are neither the receiver nor the rock, but you do help clarify a situation.  Your job isn’t to necessarily support, but to provide perspective.  This is a fairly helpless position at times, but more necessary for the development of everyone than is given credit.   The blessing of the filter is that you hold onto none of the baggage, you just help streamline it in portions that can be managed.

Lately, I’ve found myself unintentionally avoiding certain people.  Not just in person, but in conversation, email, text, etc.  At first, I felt guilty because I think of myself as a helper for others and avoiding people isn’t generally helpful.  What I have come to realize is that there are times to allow others to go their own way, so they can grow and adapt.  Hopefully when they come back around, they will be in the position of bringing positive effects on the world around them.
I also have a deep appreciation for the “Rocks” and “Filters” in my life.  From my family to my friends, I have been truly blessed.  My little piece of advice for today is this:
If you feel yourself being worn out or drained by the people in your life, perhaps it’s time to change some of them.  Not get rid of them completely – because that’s a negative effect in itself, but through the way you deal with that person you may be able to positively affect their output.  Distance and kindness can do wonders, both for others and for yourself.