Friday, July 31, 2009


Hi everyone,

DH and I have just returned home from one of the best vacations we've ever had.

A few years ago, after DH was working entirely too hard for entirely too many hours, we decided to make it a priority to take a vacation every year. It didn't have to be fancy or extravagant, but we had to carve out a couple of days where our only priority was spending time together-no work, no household duties, nothing--just time together. So we have a little budget category for vacation that we save for.

This year, with the significant change in our income, it was tempting to eliminate that category from the budget all together. But knowing how much that time away refreshes us and draws us closer, we wanted to try to do it if at all possible. But we couldn't take the long-length, long distance trips we've taken the last couple of years.

It so happened that one of our groomsmen from our wedding, who now lives in Michigan, was going to be in San Diego. We wanted to get over to see them (San Diego is much closer and more doable than Michigan) so we decided to roll it in to one trip and do our vacation there. We had to do it on a very tight budget, but it ended up being one of our favorite trips we've taken. And it accomplished its purpose perfectly-we came home rested, closer together, and ready to go back to "real life" again with a renewed energy, direction, and united front.

We got creative so I thought I'd share our tips on how we tried to keep costs to a minimum:
*Picked a destination within driving distance. Gas prices are not at an all time low, but they're certainly more affordable than they've been in recent years. We spent about $100 in gas-much less than 2 round trip air tickets. We do have two free plane tickets, but we're saving those to visit friends later on where we can fly and stay for free.
*Planned our trip for weekdays-hotels are less expensive and attractions are less crowded, maximizing our bang for our buck
*Scoured the internet for days searching for the best rated budget hotel that was off the beaten path, and that offered a refrigerator in room. We found one that was clean, quiet, safe, and well reviewed that was less than 20 minutes from all the places we wanted to go--far enough that we didn't have to pay "convenience" pricing.
*I packed our mini (4 cup crock pot), steel cut oats (79 cents per pound), cinnamon, jam, juice, yogurt, flax seed, clif bars, cans of tunafish, bread, light mayo, relish, string cheese, carrots, fruit, nuts, bottled water, pop and gatorade, rice cakes, and goldfish crackers, along with a sponge, soap, a can opener, a measuring cup, a couple of tupperware containers, plastic bowls and silverware, a dish towel, napkins, ziploc bags and a big cooler. Though the hotel offered a free breakfast, it consisted of coffee and pastries (we called ahead to find out). That lasts about 10 seconds in terms of sustenance and energy, not to mention is full of empty calories. Every night before we went to bed we turned on our little crockpot full of oatmeal and in the morning we had a full, protein rich breakfast of steel cut oats with flax along with fruit and juice. We carried Clif bars with us all the time so we wouldn't need to buy snacks at expensive attraction and beachside shops. We made sandwiches and packed our lunch every morning and put it in the cooler in the car. We'd use the icemaker at the hotel to refill the cooler. All the other groceries stayed in the fridge in the room. We chose Tuna because it's also high protein, and it's very affordable. At the themepark we left it all in the cooler in the car and went out at lunch and ate out front and then reentered the park. We ate tunafish sandwiches on the drive, too-more nutritious than fast food stops, as well as faster since we didn't have to detour anywhere to get it. Though we had high protein meals, we also had some snacks available so if we wanted them, we had them. We didn't have to buy a single beverage, anywhere. That alone saved a ton.
*We scoured the internet for coupons on the attractions we wanted. In the end we decided on Sea World, and I was able to find a coupon code for $15 off admission each if we bought the tickets in advance and printed them at home.
*We did allow ourselves to go out for dinner each night, but we looked up restaurants in advance so we knew the menu and price range and could plan accordingly. We did not allow ourselves to go to restaurants that were any more expensive than something we would choose at home if we were living "normal" life.
*We chose one paid attraction (Sea World) and then filled the rest of the time with free attractions-walking around a beautiful historical hotel, watching Sea World fireworks another night from a neighboring parking lot, visiting the beach, playing card games, swimming in the hotel pool, etc, etc.

Overall, we had a wonderful, relaxing, refreshing time at a fraction of the cost of the vacations we've taken previously. Just because we couldn't go "all out" didn't mean we couldn't make some great memories. And hey, who else can say they travel with their crockpot?

The color in these looks funky-not sure why. These, and other pics, are also on my FB page and they look fine there. If you're my FB friend, look them up there!

Before our trip, our best friends were here from Chicago. It was bittersweet because they were here to clean out their house and move their stuff because their house here finally sold and they finally got a home in Chicago so they no longer need to live in limbo. This really cemented the move and removed the possibility of returning to live in at least the near future, which was tough for me and K, especially. I think the guys came to terms with it a long time ago. But in any case it gave us an excuse to have 2 weeks with them, which was great.

Visiting this great little homemade ice cream sandwiches shop--definitely not diet friendly, but very fun...

Lastly, our embryos arrived safely yesterday in Tucson, meaning we are forever done with the awful clinic here. It's a huge sigh of relief to know that neither me or my children are in their (incompetent) "care." We're still proceeding full speed ahead with plans for a November-ish transfer and this was the last detail to take care of. Now all we have to do is wait!

Thanks for checking in. I pray you all are well!

Friday, July 24, 2009


Hi everyone,

Our girls should be 2 days old (ish) today. Our due date was July 22nd. God has given us special grace. This week was not nearly so difficult as I expected.

Last week is an entirely different story. I think the anticipation of this week became the straw that broke the camel's back. I was at a party with a lady's small group we used to have at church and 90% of the conversation was about pregnancy, childbirth, co-sleeping, homeschooling, potty training, and all sorts of other things that flow abundant from the mouths of mommies to 0-2 year olds, all of whom my dear friends now are. It was difficult to see that in the years since our precious group met, all of my friends have moved on to give birth to one and sometimes two children, while we're still waiting. I struggle so much with comparing and asking the "what about us?" I knew that if I stayed at the party, I'd go on a downward spiral and I just couldn't go there. Not again. God saw fit to protect me from that and I made a quick exit. Each time, it hurts a little less, though I miss them all the more. I did come home and have myself a good cry and a lot of fretting with God, but He protected my heart from plummeting to the absolute depths of my grief. I don't know if that makes any sense or not.

What that evening did though I think was open the floodgate a little early, which made this week so much less overwhelming. I'm grateful that He saw fit to not let the waters build up too strongly before releasing them. Honestly I stressed so much about the approach of the due date that when it finally came, I could make it through it because it wasn't as bad as I thought.

As much as I miss and love our daughters, I am relieved that their due date has come and gone. While we were still in the time of "their" pregnancy, I always felt like I couldn't move on. I felt like that was "their" time and any thoughts of moving toward another transfer would be either betraying or attempting to replace them. And not that I've moved on from them now. In terms of love for them and memory of them, I never will. But I do feel now like a book has closed and we have opened a new one. A "this-is-our-new-normal, without-them book," rather than a "we-should-be-waiting-for-them, not ________" book. The feeling that I'm no longer stealing time away that should have been being spent differently is really freeing.

But dear friends, I am so blessed. In my loss, God has given abundantly to me.

My dear sweet husband. How I wish you all could know him! He is truly the sweetest, kindest, most gentle, loving, faithful man I have ever met. In his grief he has shown even more of his tender spirit, and that has been such a gift to me. Though I grieve to see his heart ache like this, I am blessed to have been witness to another part of his soul. What an amazing husband and papa he is.

My dear friend Amie. Amie sends me notes when I need them most. Amie has the kind of walk with God that I long to have. She is so in-tune with God's compassionate heart and she is so sensitive to His promptings when He puts people on her heart. Around Mother's Day, she sent me this note

Spent extra time praying for you today as you mourn your babies. We heard an amazing sermon today that was such a blessing. Our family visited Marylou today and left some flowers by her grave, we took two aside and threw them into the wind on the lookout view over the cemetery in honor of your twins and prayed for you as a family. WE love you!

I hope one day I will be able to minister to you to even a fraction of the degree that you have blessed my heart. Thank you for everything. In every interaction with you, I learn more about the heart of God.

Dear Cindy-You are so generous to me with your friendship and mentorship. Thanks for picking up the pieces, so very many times and for being so tireless with your mercy and love.

My friend Erica. Erica is another who has the gift of compassion and mercy. She reaches out to me so faithfully and is such an example to me in so many ways.

Heather. Dear Heather! Fellow mommy at heart! I can't wait to meet your little Snowflakes. How blessed I am by your friendship. Thank you for continuing to reach out to me even though I've been lousy at reciprocating.

Grandpa and Grandma-thank you for your constant reminders of love. Thank you for remembering everything, always. I have a box full of notes and cards that I will always treasure. Thank you for loving us through your gifts of time and encouragement.

T-Thank you for being the sister I never had.

Grace and Niki, my due-date sisters. I miss all of our angels. And I love you both. Thank you for your friendship. Though I hate that any of us are going through this, I am grateful God gave us each other!

Jessica-your friendship, your love for others, your compassion, your wisdom and your wit teach me so much! I hope that I can be as intentional of a mom as you are. You are truly one of the most gifted women I know.

My sweet godson. He truly is balm for my soul. I love his little laugh, the joy in his heart, seeing the world through his eyes. Thank you, sweet friends, for honoring us by allowing us to share in his life.

Diana-our journeys are different, but so similar. Thank you for being so consistent in your friendship, your sweet emails, the things you remember!

Sweet PJ. You have the Lord's Shepherd's heart. It's beautiful and we are so thankful for it. Thank you for dedicating your life to the Lord's service and to our church family.

All of the friends and strangers who have reached out to us through this blog. Thank you for the notes of encouragement, the admonishments, the resources, the prayers and the wisdom. The internet has been used for a lot of awful things, but I have seen through this blog how God can redeem it and truly use it for His name's sake.

I always hesitate when I consider posting something like this because I don't want anyone to feel left out or under appreciated. I truly hope I don't communicate that to anyone. This season of loss has forced me to focus on how much I've truly been given and I want to shout from the rooftops what a great God we have, and publicly praise Him for these gifts He has bestowed upon me. All of you are an example to me. In some respects I feel like putting off parenting until I have learned all that God has to teach me through all of you. However, I know if I did that, I'd never be done. Christendom is a better place because of you. I am a better woman because of you.

Thank you, sweet Jesus, for using the loss of my girls to give these generous gifts to me. Grace and peace to you, dearest friends!

Monday, July 6, 2009


I started this post on 6.26.09. I didn't have anything else to write, but I wanted to make sure the sentiment was shared.

First, thank you to everyone for your kind words about Mother's Day. I really wasn't trying to be a brat about it or make anyone feel bad. In my head I was just playing back a recording of how things had been--matter of fact, recitation. I didn't mean it as a guilt issue at all! I apologize if it came across that way.


Today, July 6, 2009

Dear friends,
My heart is in despair right now. The grief of missing my girls overwhelms me and the pain grows only stronger as their due date approaches. Time had quenched some of the fire, but the knowledge that I should be preparing to hold them in my arms but instead have an empty belly and empty arms, breaks my heart right now. I am crying out to God but I confess the hurt and loneliness feels new all over again. In recent weeks I felt like the mourning season was coming to an end and now I feel like it has just begun. All I did today was read and pray and cry and sleep. I've half heartedly attempted our household bookkeeping tonight, but I only go a few minutes before the tears start again. Oh, how I miss them!

Several people have mentioned that they wanted to say something, or ask me how we're doing or ask me about the girls, but didn't know if they could, or should.

I can't speak for every grieving mom, but for me, someone mentioning them helps. It helps me to know they and we are not forgotten. So please, always feel free to ask if you want. If you don't want to ask for your own sake, that's ok, but know it's always ok with me if you do want to. Silence hurts worse than any questions...

I love you all.