Thursday, October 30, 2008


It's true that all-things Snow related have come to take on a different meaning in our home, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind!

It looks like it's snowed in my house. There's a layer of drywall dust over EVERYTHING because the guys didn't remember to seal off the kitchen until it was too late! I've just resigned to the fact that the house won't be truly clean until this is done.

But the good news is that the end is in sight, we think. They textured last night and provided it dried properly and meets their expectations, they'll prime tonight. Then we'll paint the ceiling tomorrow and paint the walls on Saturday (I finally picked a color! We're going with color #3, which is a 75% shade of my favorite color). We don't work on Sundays so hopefully Monday night after work they can start putting the cabinets in and we'll maybe be totally moved in to our new kitchen by the following weekend. I hope!

I had the most awful migraine yesterday that I've ever had in my life! I did go to the chiropractor and the good news is that he confirmed that everything is physically fine, so the problem is most definitely hormone related. The bad news is that because it's hormone related, there's not a darn thing I can do about. I've never been hungover but I imagine that what I feel like today is pretty close. Yesterday was a medication change so it could have been worse because of that, and we're due for another change tomorrow so I'm praying I don't have round 2! Other than that things are the same around here!

Baby Brynn and momma Sara are still hanging tight! Soon they'll be full term-a true miracle! And blog buddy Jon is a proud new papa-stop in and congratulate him on the birth of baby Samuel!

Until next time...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Home Improvements and Gymboree

The house is STILL a disaster although we now have a fully drywalled ceiling again! Woohoo!

I've now got 6 different colors on the wall and am still no closer to choosing one. My sister in law is really good at choosing paint colors. Hmmmm, we have Rent-a-Jeff. Wonder if she'd go for Rent-a-Samantha? At this point I think I almost rather someone make the decision for me. I never want to see another version of tan, beige or light brown ever again! This shouldn't be this difficult! I love the two darkest colors in this photo, but we're concerned it will be too dark. So the other colors are our attempt at compromising to get something lighter but still with a depth of richness to the color. (Don't worry, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you-the same colors are repeated several times because I pained them next to each other in different combinations and in different light situations.

I did try to actually be helpful today, but I can't hold up drywall for very long by myself (though I did it for two huge pieces! Got my workout!) and my attempt at drilling the screws in left me with an eyeful of drywall dust-ouch! I did a little mudding too. That was kind of fun and reminded me of many house building mission trips from highschool and college when we stuccoed the whole house by hand, with stucco we mixed completely by hand! In any case, I think they decided that I do best at the current moment as official event historian and photographer. Ergo:

Aye, the mess!!!

I'm also sent to Home Depot. Often. During the rest of the day, I've busied myself trying to minimize the mess in the rest of the house.

I've also decided that Gymboree is evil! Over the years of our IF journey, one of the therapeutic things for me has been to occasionally add a piece to my hope chest. I try to do it just once a year--this year I added a couple more things to commemorate important events. None of what I have in the box is expensive and I usually try to steer clear of the expensive stores altogether. But Gymboree just makes the cutest stuff so occasionally I window shop. I've had frequent exposure to their cuteness because my other Sister in Law has the most well-decked-out little Princess you'd ever see and she could be a little Gymbo model. But Gymboree's prices are stinkin outRAGEOUS! Seriously, their clothes cost more than I'll spend on myself! My SIL is a really good Gymbo bargain hunter between outlets, consignments, sales, and ebay--I'm thinking she'll need to teach me her ways! But for now I generally stay away from their website because it's very easy to get carried away. See no evil, do no evil, right?

But, one of our Snowflake Mommies sent around an email though that they have Snowflake stuff in their new line. It's just as ridiculously priced as the rest of their stuff, but seriously, did you ever see a cuter little dress?

The detail around the bottom is a bunch of little silver snowflakes.

With the little tights and hair bows that match

And for when a little girl is a little older they have this

Suffice it to say, I wanted to click "Check Out" very badly! But on principle alone I can't spend $67.50 on one and a half outfits for any child, especially one who isn't even here yet, much less assured of being a girl! But I just might have to check back in a few weeks and if it goes on clearance, I just might have to consider buying it. Children's clothing marketers are some of the savviest people in the world. They know how to go straight for a momma's heart! Can't you imagine Baby Someday's Christmas Pictures a few years from now wearing that darling little outfit? Ah, to have hopes and dreams of little feet again brings such joy to my heart! Ah well, enough!

A quick update on earlier prayer requests. Blog buddy Sara and baby Brynn are hanging tight. Baby Brynn is doing fantastically but her momma could use our prayers for her own wellbeing as she tries to hang tight for Brynn as long as possible! But God has already done many miracles for this precious family and we rejoice with them in Thanksgiving!

I'm doing much better on the medication. I even upped my dosage earlier in the week and it doesn't seem to have been too terrible. I had a rough week for a lot of other reasons, but I'm really glad that the medicine wasn't worse! So I've been glad for the relief. I add another medication next week so I hope and pray that transition is smooth.

Other than that, it's business as usual around here! But that also means church still comes bright and early tomorrow morning so I best get to bed! I hope you all are well!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What We Wish You Knew: Adoption Terminology Education

I was watching the news last night and they were covering a story about a Corrections Officer who was recently murdered. The reporter said "He was the father of an adopted son, and he and his wife also had a child of their own on the way." This kind of language is something adoptive parents encounter often. I really think it's so frequently spoken out of sheer ignorance and not malice. Language is such a powerful thing and even the slightest nuance can communicate a very different message than the one intended. Another blog I read occasionally is doing a "What I Wish You Knew" series so I thought I'd follow suit and take this opportunity to educate.

So, to that end, please allow me to share the following:

Adoption is a beautiful word that should be celebrated! In most families, adoption is not a secret and it is an integral part of a child's personality. Adoption is a positive word, should always be referred to and with accordingly, and not talked about in secretive, tentative or negative tones and terms.

However, there is a proper time and place for all discussions, including those about adoption. While "Adoption" is a beautiful word, it is not always a relevant word.

Often times folks will refer to a child as "So-and-so's adopted child" just as the reporter did last night. However, I urge you to consider this: parents do not walk around introducing their child as "my biological son Billy" or better yet "my honeymoon son Billy" or "my test tube baby Mary" or "my one night in Vegas twins." Good adoptive parents do not introduce their child as "our adopted daughter Suzy." Biological children are not qualified in introductions and how they came to join a family is usually not mentioned in passing conversation.

Likewise, how and when an adopted child was born to a family is often irrelevant to the conversation at hand. These children are no different than biological children and deserve the same courtesy paid when introducing them. While adoption is beautiful and should be celebrated, often an explanation of which children share the same DNA as whom is offered to point out difference, and that difference is often irrelevant. What matters in most cases is that Billy and Suzy are the children of John and Jane Doe. Period.

However, if distinction must be made, please consider these ideas. First, please refer to an adoption in past tense. A child was adopted. It is not ongoing. The commitment to the child has already been made and the grafting in as part of the family has already taken place and is completed, not in transition. Just as being born is a one time, past tense occasion in a life, so is adoption. A child "was adopted" rather than "is adopted." Referring to it in the present tense implies that something is unfinished. As children who were adopted can struggle with feelings of loss or a sense of "betwixt and between," reinforcing their solid, secure place in a family helps cement the message that they do belong.

When distinguishing between children biologically related to the parents, please use the term "biological children" rather than "own children" or "natural children" or "real children." Children who were adopted are their parents' own, they ARE natural (as opposed to the opposite, which is "unnatural") and they are legally, their parents' "real" children. I tend to shy away even from the term "miracle baby" because all babies are miracles-biologically related to the parents or not. Adoption is a miracle, too, just of a different sort.

The most respectful way to refer to the adoptive parents is just as the child's "parents," with no qualifiers. If a distinction must be made, "adoptive parents" is appropriate. The respectful terminology we've been taught for the adopted child's biological parents is as "birth parents" or "biological parents" (or in the case of Snowflake Adoptions, "Genetic Parents" or "Placing Parents") as opposed to the frightfully-oft spoken "real parents."

Also, the term "giving a child up" for adoption is outdated. The term harkens back to the days of Orphan Trains when children were literally held up. Terminology like this does not account for the intentional decisions made in contemporary times by a birth parent who chooses adoption out of love because he or she thinks it is best for the child. A better term is "place for adoption" or "make an adoption plan" because these terms recognize the intentionality on the biological parent's part.

I believe that honoring adoption by the deliberately choosing our language when referring to it honors all the parties involved in the adoption triad, and is in the child's best interests. Using precise language enhances both our compassion and our accuracy.

If you've said any of these things to your friends whose families were built in whole or in part through adoption, don't fret! These are things we hear dozens, if not hundreds of times and you learn to just sort of dismiss it. But I can tell you that if you make an intentional effort to use the correct terminology, your friend will notice, and will be blessed by it and appreciate the time you have taken to learn more about their family's precious dynamic.

UPDATE: The reporter wrote back! I'm so impressed. My letter to him actually contained much of what is in this post-I just copied and pasted pieces of the letter here. He was very receptive! I am very impressed. To give credit where credit is due, thanks Peter Busch from KPHO Phoenix! I look forward to your future stories about families built through adoption!

Edited to add: I realize that adoption has not always been beautiful, pleasant or respectful of all parties involved and that it is always difficult for the placing parent(s). I know there is a sad time in our history when biological parents had their children stolen from them in the name of adoption, or all but stolen. I don't disrespect the loss experienced by those people at all or legitimize the system that victimized them. I also know that there is a completely different set of rules and language when interacting with a large number of adoptions from this era and the people involved in them and that no semantics will heal those wounds.

But I firmly believe today's system is vastly different and that the majority of today's adoptions in this country are legitimate and that's the framework in which I advocate this specific language.

However, specifically because of the history of the adoption world, I encourage anyone considering adoption to always use a legitimate adoption agency and/or adoption attorney. I'd even go so far as to implore you to choose a service that also has sound services in place to protect and serve biological parents. In our Agency's case, the birth mother gets her own caseworker, whose sole responsibility is to help the birth mother make the best decision for her and the child. Sometimes that means choosing to parent, and sometimes it means making an adoption plan and the caseworker helps with both. We valued that they have staff committed exclusively to helping the birth moms so they can feel as secure and at peace about their decision as possible.

And certainly if someone's specific experience colors certain terms and they make their preference for different language known, the respectful thing to do is to use it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I think they just like to break stuff

Don't get me wrong. This DEFINITELY needed updating, both for aesthetic and functional reasons:

(notice the drop in oven and low yellow fluorescent lights that spanned most of the room)

and it was clear that our we-can't-afford-to-do-it-all-now-but-we-need-to-do-something temporary fix from a couple years ago wasn't going to cut it long term: (partially because you couldn't have the lights on and run the microwave at the same time without throwing the breaker--the home builders ran the microwave electric lines off the DOORBELL! We've decided that our house must have been built by crazy people or drug users--the only two possible explanations for all the nuttiness we've discovered in this house over the years)

So I knew that some demo had to be done. Out with the old, in with the new, right?

But really. I think they look like they're having entirely too much fun here, don't you? I think they just like to break stuff! (DH on the left, Rent-A-Jeff on the right).

And they didn't stop there, either.

(Oh and we were greatly amused to find that the kitchen had previously been painted a "lovely" applesauce color--a perfect compliment to the groovy lemon colored countertops! =P Seriously, who does that?)

So that was our weekend? How about yours?

And I've decided I'm thrilled with having cooked in advance. It's been so nice to not have to try to cook in that mess. I did find a small space of counter today to make the roast and the lasagna that I didn't get to earlier in the week but tomorrow the mess and work start back up again so we'll go back to freezer dining. Speaking of roasts, why have I never tried crock pot liners before?

And there's somehow a cricket INSIDE one of our new kitchen cabinets, which are providing his performance with lovely acoustics!

That's all from our crazy home! Hope you all had a nice weekend. And if you don't hear from me again soon, send in a search and rescue team!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Once a Month Cooking, Home Remodeling, and Transfer Meds

Does anyone do Once a Month (or once a week) cooking? Not the kind of once a month cooking where you eat takeout the other 29 days ;) ....the kind where you cook an entire month's worth of food in one or two sessions and then freeze it?

Because I knew THIS was coming...

I spent the day cooking a bunch of meals for us so that I wouldn't have to try to cook in this mess and so we wouldn't have to resort to takeout.

The days' results?
•2 Meals of Baked Spaghetti
•3 Meals of Chicken Enchilada Casserole
•2 Meals of a Dish my family has always called Chinese Casserole, though there's nothing Chinese about it
•2 Meals of Chicken and Stuffing Bake
•3 Meals of Ham-Tot Casserole
•2 Meals of Chili
•2 Meals of Chicken and Rice

I also have two meat loaves that I made the other day. Tomorrow I'm making a lasagna (enough for 3 meals), a double batch of beef stew, cornbread for the chili, and maybe a chicken broccoli bake. (Fortunately I bought most of the ingredients for these things today so I know where they are!) Theoretically, after these things are done, I shouldn't have to cook until after my kitchen is put back together.

Today's cooking took me about 4 hours, plus an hour of shopping and an hour to package and label everything and organize the freezer. The cleanup took some time but even it wasn't too bad.

I thought about it and I was so pleased with how little time it took compared to how many meals it produced. I typically spend an hour to an hour and a half on making dinner each night! I'm thinking I may endeavor upon this again!

My one complaint was that a lot of the recipes from my book that are freezer-friendly are casseroles--heavy on the cream soup and/or cheese. Great tasting, bad for the diet. It's hard to reheat lighter fare things like grilled chicken. I did find some recipes tonight that are basically frozen marinades and you still cook the night of--I may try those when I have meat that's not already frozen. It'd still be easy to pull a bag out of the freezer, toss it in a dish and put it in the oven. That would allow for some lighter recipes.

Does anyone else do this? Have you found it to be helpful overall? Do you have any recipes or words of wisdom to share?

In other news, my home is a total disaster. So much for all that nesting! We decided to go ahead and replace the kitchen cabinets. We also found some vanities for the bathrooms on clearance. So every free inch of space has some kind of cabinet on it, be it an old one or a new one! The kitchen cabinet contents are in boxes on every table we have and I generally feel like the house looks like a tornado went through it! I'll be glad when this is done because the disorder is stressful!

But the great news is that God was very generous to us in purchasing our home improvements. Through various coupons, sales, clearances and negotiations, we've ended up with 20% to 60% off everything that we've bought, saving thousands of dollars off of what the project easily could have cost and what we were expecting to pay. And my brother is an absolute wizard when it comes to all things handy (I decided he should open a business called "Rent a Jeff") and he has graciously given us his time and talents to spearhead the work! (We help, but we're Tim and Timmitha Taylor when it comes to handyman things!) We're just overwhelmed with God's provision and generosity!

Hopefully this project will be done soon!

One minor prayer request: I'm on my next med for the transfer. It's very unpredictable. At times I'm 100% fully functional, and at other times, it totally wipes me out with a severe migraine and/or total exhaustion. The inconsistency is almost as frustrating as the side effects themselves because I can't get in to any kind of routine! I'd appreciate your prayers for relief from the side effects. There's also another kink in my body's cooperation with timing--we'd love your prayers that that gets straightened out, too. But speaking of side effects, I'm a little dizzy at the moment, so I'm going to sign off!

One last thing before I do, though. Please keep Sara and baby Brynn in your prayers. Sara has a number of complications that are making little Brynn try to come early. She's 32 weeks now so well out of danger she could have been even just days ago, but still much earlier than is best. We're not sure if she's in labor or not--the last update on the blog seemed to imply "maybe." Please keep them in your prayers and pray that Baby Brynn will hang tight a few more weeks.

Night, all! Love and hugs to everyone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance

Today, October 15, is a day set aside to honor the lives of the precious children lost in miscarriage, abortion, SIDS, stillbirth and infant death, as well as the parents who have lost them. While I am grateful that one small blessing of permanent infertility is that we have never had to endure the pain of losing a child, so many of our friends have and that pain is close to our hearts for them. I am reminded that my mom lost my little sibling in miscarriage 16 years ago. She lost two others as well, but I don't remember anything about those situations because I was so little. But I distinctly remember being in my tweens, waiting for baby to arrive. I remember my parents' pain.

In your prayers and meditations today, please remember especially your loved ones who have lost a child.

I know that these women among my blog sisters have lost children. Dear sisters, I honor you, and your precious children. You're in my prayers today. If you have a chance, I encourage you to pray for them and perhaps even stop by and leave a note for them (click their names to go to their blogs). If you're a blog buddy who has lost a child but is not listed here, I apologize for my oversight. I tried to find everyone I knew had suffered a loss. If you'd like to be included, please let me know.

Amie who lost Marylou Janice late term to a twin pregnancy complication

Angie, who lost Audrey Caroline shortly after birth due to conditions that made her incompatible with life

Suzanne, who lost precious Snowflakes after transfer

Trisha, who lost her sons' triplet brother AJ shortly after birth from complications due to Triplet to Triplet Transfusion syndrome

Lena who recently lost a child in miscarriage, as well as two prior to that.

Christy who recently lost a child in miscarriage, and another previous to that

Sunny who lost a child in miscarriage

Charlotte who lost a child in miscarriage

And my friends D, E and L but I don't know if their losses are public knowledge so I won't post more. Ladies, you know who you are!

Blessings of mercy and comfort to you today, dear sisters!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Preparing the Way

We have a transfer date! We're not sharing when it is (I've been so proud of myself-I've actually been able to keep this secret!!!!), but it is sometime within the next six months.

I'm in Thursday morning Bible Study at church and one of the activities we had to do a couple of weeks ago was to compare the traits of the Holy Spirit with a random word we were assigned. My partner in the activity and I received the word "an organized person." We had a few minutes to talk and ponder and I was reminded again that one of my favorite identities of God is that He is a God of order. Oh how I wish I manifested this particular characteristic with more consistency!

The transfer seems so close, yet still very far away. We're still very decidedly in the double digits (there's a hint--the transfer is somewhere between 10 and 99 days from now!) I have a little countdown clock on my computer that's constantly ticking away, reminding me how much time (too much!) is left. I've started the medications to prepare and that's given this all a new depth of reality. I've begun to want to organize, clean and prepare everything in sight. Is it possible for a woman to have pre-pregnancy nesting?

I've been working on purging old belongings, cleaning more regularly, establishing new systems, catching up on things long unattended to and just generally making sure things are in order. I've even started Christmas shopping and creating a plan to premake meals and freeze them so that if I'm too tired in pregnancy, I can just pull things out and reheat them without DH having to be responsible for feeding us. Part of it is just to keep my mind off of the wait but I'm also enjoying becoming more disciplined in my homemaking.

I've been worshiping a lot to the song "Worship in the Waiting" by FFH (gasp, yes, I, Jen, just admitted to liking a CCM song!) ;) It makes me think a lot about intentionally waiting, and preparing. Waiting in life is inevitable. But how we spend the wait is not a foregone conclusion.

With the advent of Christmas I think about how Mary must have been anticipating the birth of Christ. How do you prepare your heart for something like that? I can hardly wrap my mind around it. How close her heart must have been to the heart of God. I wish for the same!

And I think about how we are to be preparing with our lamps always ready for our precious Jesus to return. In that sense, our entire life is a wait. Are we spending it in diligent preparation for His coming? Are the corners of our hearts redd up and turned out? Is the state of our minds company ready? Do we do the chores of this life with obedience and joy? Are we actively trying to prepare the way for Him? I know for me, I can't say that the answers to any of those questions is yes all of the time, or even most of the time. So I've just been meditating a lot, searching my heart and mind and trying to learn from this waiting period. I think about how eager I am for these babies, and I think about how much more full God's heart is for me and all of His lambs. That sounds so "me focused" and that's not my intent. But it really is humbling to contemplate the love that the God of the Universe has for us and how patiently He waits for our hearts to surrender in abandon. I tend to avoid thinking about it--it's easy to dismiss in the name of piety and selflessness. But in moderation, I do think it is an appropriate part of meditation. "How Deep the Father's Love for Us..."

So while the impulsive, impatient part of me would probably trade waiting for just about anything else, I've appreciated the things that it has taught and is continuing to teach me. God is indeed generous and patient with me!
Hope you all are well!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Totally Off Topic: Amazon Prime

DH and I joined Amazon Prime a few years ago and we love it. You pay an annual membership fee and then all books, movies and music are shipped 2 day air for free, as well as a lot of items from their other departments. It's so nice to have things in 2 days, and to not have to be able to meet order minimums. The buy-in is a little high but we found it to be worth it because otherwise we were always adding a few dollars here or there to reach the minimums for free shipping. I buy books, movies, music, housewares, electronics, appliances and even groceries through amazon--the free shipping comes in especially handy with the heavy stuff. We've used it to buy snorkel flippers, my camera lens and and air mattress-all with free shipping. Free shipping makes Amazon's prices often better than the stores.

Right now they're offering a free trial of their Prime Membership. If nothing else, you could do some early Christmas shopping during the trial! Check it out here! The deadline is October 31 and the trial lasts a month. Perfect for the holiday season! If you sign up now or later, would you pretty please follow my link here to do it? We get a bonus if you sign up (even if you cancel after the trial) which helps us with OUR Christmas shopping =)

Monday, October 6, 2008


Hi Friends,

We're preparing for our first Frozen Embryo Transfer, which will be completed, Lord willing, in the next 6 months.

Our next step is to complete the paperwork with instructions about thawing, transferring and discarding embryos. Fertility clinics are, as a rule, very statistics and results oriented, and the life of each individual embryo is of little consequence to them as attempt to accomplish their goals.

The contract is currently worded with lots of provisions for destruction and selective reduction, as well as an overarching disclaimer of "when in doubt, the clinic decides." We have the right to change the contract, but the process of doing so is very stressful both because it puts us in conflict with the Embryologist's general policies and because we want to make sure that we leave no stone unturned in delineating every possible scenario, leaving no room for loopholes--a difficult process when the language is so scientifically technical and complex. We are committed to giving all 12 of these embryos the chance at being born, regardless of the Embryologist's opinion of their condition or chance for pregnancy. Under no circumstances do we want any of them discarded, nor will we consider selective reduction for any reason.

Despite these wishes, I have heard many stories from IVF and Snowflake Mommies, including our own Genetic Mother, about doctors trying to change those instructions even up to and on the day of the transfer, including while the woman is already medicated and on the table! Suffice it to say, this leaves us feeling very nervous, especially because we differ so fundamentally with our clinic's general policies concerning the value of life. I fear being accidentally persuaded to something we would never do, or leaving the power to for someone else to do something we would never do, out of sheer ignorance to all the ins and outs.

Would you please pray for us that we would have the wisdom to spell out an exacting, precise contract that leaves no room for question or error? Would you pray that we would clearly outline our expectations and that the Embryologist would clearly understand, respect and abide by them? Would you pray that our babies will be honored and protected and that we will do right by them? We know that their lives (and eventual deaths) are in the Hand and Heart of God, but we want to also make sure we are being responsible as we make decisions about them and their care. Above all, may God be glorified in this and all things.

Todd and Jen + 12 (and Lewis!)