Saturday, April 30, 2011

Busted! Infertility Myths

Today on Infertility MythBusters, we are honoring National Infertility Awareness Week by busting some infertility myths. Every single one of these myths represents something said to me at some point in our journey. Time to get to the truth. Let's get started.


If You Try Long Enough, You'll Get Pregnant
Infertility is a disease, not a temporary condition. Like Lady Gaga said, I was born this way. It's like telling someone their flat arches will get better in a little while.

Processed Food Makes Women Infertile
If this were true, all women would be infertile. In America, we've all eaten processed foods. Our mothers did. And our grandmothers did and probably our great grandmothers too. That's enough time to make us all infertile. And guess what - we're all not.

You'll Get Pregnant If You Relax
TMI alert...we've been married for nine years, ten months, and 22 days. Aside from about a six month period, we have not used birth control. During our marriage, we've had a lot of fun, gone on two cruises, and being DINKS (dual-income, no kids) we didn't have a ton of financial burdens. So if someone thinks we haven't been relaxed for a single month during that time, they are just dumb. Nobody would tell someone with cancer to "just relax" and they will be healed. Infertility is a physical problem, not psychological.

Adopting a Baby Fixes Infertility
Adoption fixes childlessness. It does not "fix" infertility. The disease and all the symptoms are still there.

If You Were More Righteous/Paid More Tithing/Went to Church More/Were a Better Person, You Wouldn't Be Infertile
Besides being super judgmental, this is dumb. People who subscribe to this ideology must think that the Octomom is ready for sainthood. There are plenty of really immoral, crappy women who get pregnant all the time. This myth is one of the most hurtful, offensive of all.

If I'm Healthy and Young, Infertility Won't Be a Problem
It's true that as all women age, fertility declines, but diseases like endometriosis, low sperm count/quality, and polycystic ovarian syndrome can inhibit fertility anytime.

Infertility Is the Female's Problem
Remember when Henry VIII kept killing his wives because they kept giving birth to girls and he just knew it was the woman's fault but really we know that the man's sperm is what determines the gender of a baby? Saying a woman is always the reason a couple can't conceive is just as dumb. Thirty percent of diagnosed fertility problems are because of female fertility problems, thirty percent are because of male fertility problems, ten percent are from a combination and thirty percent are undiagnosed.


graph from wikipedia.org

You'll Get Pregnant When You Adopt/Put in Adoption Papers
Nope. Hasn't happened to me. Hasn't happened to a LOT of people I know. Although I know this happens for some lucky couples, it's coincidence and has nothing to do with their adoption experience. We had people say this to us when we decided to adopt. It belittles adoption - like the only reason to adopt is to trick your body into giving you a biological baby. It hurts my heart that anyone would think this of our adoption and our little Joci.

In Vitro Fertilization Is the Only Way to Have a Baby If You Are Infertile
There are many different treatments, many as simple as taking a pill. And there are alternative stuff too like acupuncture, reflexology, etc.

Thanks for joining me for this episode of Infertility MythBusters!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fairy Tale Wedding

And they lived happily ever after.


We celebrated with traditional cottage pie, English flapjacks, and strawberries and cream trifle. These two seem very in love. We're excited to see the rest of their story unfold.




Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Messes in the Kitchen

Jocelyn was drinking from a sippy cup of milk while I was making dinner. She was in the kitchen but after a bit I noticed that she wasn't tangling herself in my legs as usual - she was keeping herself busy in some other manner. I look over and see her take a big swig of milk from the sippy, then lean down and spit it all over the floor and then wipe it up with a hand towel.

Anytime she makes any kind of mess, especially liquid, she likes to instantly wipe it up. She enjoys being a big girl and copying Mommy that way. So why not just make your own mess to start with?

*******************************

Tonight I taught Jocelyn that when she is done with things like dishes and sippy cups, she should put them in the kitchen sink.

This worked out well since many of her dishes ended up there. She just loves putting things where they belong. She loves being obedient and being praised for it.

Fast forward to when I was hand washing dinner dishes. I had the water running in the sink to soak a big bowl. I notice Joci sitting at my feet and one of her shoes is missing. I ask her where it is and she doesn't say anything. I turn back to my sink and find her shoe right in the stream of water.

I guess she was done with her shoes and knew just where to put them!

This girl cracks me up!



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Pictures 2011

Saturday we went to a community Easter egg hunt with Aunt Cindy and cousins Paige and Afton. Joci was so excited to be outside with her cousins, but as soon as the whistle blew and we took off running with her and other kids were rushing around her, she freaked out a bit She just froze. Justin and I puppy guarded a couple eggs for her, but she wouldn't even pick them up. By the time we put the eggs in the basket for her and started looking for more, all the eggs were gone. The age group was 1-6, which is a pretty wide range so the bigger kids really cleaned up. Joci didn't care, and I had to remind myself of that. A little girl came up to us and gave Joci three of her eggs -- so very thoughtful. Bless her and her parents. Joci eventually learned there was candy in the eggs, and she warmed up to them after that.



That evening we dyed eggs. The threat of spills and Joci dropping eggs into the mugs and breaking them made Justin a little stressed. :) And when green dye finally spilled all over the table, floor, and the two-year-old, I think Justin had a small coronary.





After Joci went to bed, we tried dyeing eggs the Swiss style with various degrees of success. Read more about it here.


Sunday morning the Easter "munny" had left some eggs around our house. Joci saw one as soon as she woke up and screamed, "CANDY!" We had her find her basket first and she was very excited to have her first Barbie doll. She wouldn't let it go. She did a really good job of spotting the eggs and putting them in the basket. Every time we would open one and get the candy out, though, she thought the egg was broken and tried to throw it in the "bobbage" (garbage).





 
I didn't get a great picture of Joci's Easter dress, but she looks like cotton candy and she loves it. She also got a cute pink hat and pink purse for her birthday that match perfectly. We talked to Joci about Jesus's resurrection but every time Joci heard the word "Jesus" she exclaimed, "AMEN!"



The weather was so nice we just had to go outside for a bit. Joci tripped in the driveway and scraped her face, but she didn't even cry.

We had ham and twice baked potatoes and we're still feasting on leftovers. It was a good day.

Oh, and Joci finished Easter with a swim in the dog water. She hasn't done this since she was about 13 months old. Oh well!


Hope you had a happy Easter!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Doesn't the IRS Have Anything Better to Do?

"Automatic" and "audit."

Two words that shouldn't go together.

But the government thinks it's a pretty good idea. This year, basically all couples claiming an adoption credit are being blessed with an audit of their adoption expenses.

And I'm a little grumpy about it.

I mean, I claimed it last year and did just fine. This year is  rollover credit of what they obviously approved last year. You'd think it would be a no brainer. Oh, and also we have undergone an FBI background check and income verification in order to adopt. I would think the IRS would spend more time examining those who collect welfare/Medicaid without any income or tax contribution.

And we had to paper file this year as part of a new tax law requiring we mail in our adoption decree.

And we all know that mailing in taxes means you don't get your return as quickly.

Well, now our taxes are under review. I got this info from the "Where is my refund?" website. I am still waiting on the official letter from the IRS telling what receipts/expenses they want for their audit. Out of about 30 adoptive couples I've "talked to" on Facebook, only two have skated by without this dreaded notice.

What a drag. So annoying!

  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Swiss Easter Eggs Tutorial

Let's begin with a quote.

Lara: This is good practice for the nuclear holocaust.
Justin: Why? Are we going to be so bored with life that all we do is dye eggs?
Lara: No - we'll dye our own clothes, of course!

I was inspired by my good friend Maria's post at You Craft Me Up to dye eggs Swiss style. I researched a few methods and this is what I did. Also, it's pretty late and I didn't want to edit my images, so the colors are a little bluish. Sorry!

I decided to make red and blue dye.

For red (which actually turned out more maroon-brown), take the skins of 5 red onions and put it in a pot (btw, if you need an onion, I have plenty!).



For blue, cut up a small purple cabbage.



Gather a few leafy specimens from the great outdoors. In Idaho, spring hasn't really come yet and very little is growing. I did find a few plants though, like dandelions, English ivy, shoots of poppy leaves, wild chives, and bishop's weed. That was enough. As it turned out, the dandelion eggs are my favorites. So don't stress if you can't find a lot of variety.


Place a leaf on a raw egg, then drop it into a knee-high nylon. Cut off excess nylon then tie it off. The egg needs to be pretty snug in the nylon. The toe of the nylon gives you a pre-made end, but you can use the leg part of the nylon too (after you cut off the toe part) and just knot off the end before you slip your egg in.



This is not snug enough. I ended up tying another knot so it the nylon would be tighter.

Place the eggs in the pots and add enough water to cover the eggs and skins/cabbage. Boil for 20 minutes. Feel free to recite Shakespeare's "Double, double, toil and trouble..." because you probably will feel a bit like a witch tending her potions.

the cabbage brew was quite blue. i think the camera picked up on that and turned the whole picture blue. :)

Remove from heat and allow pot contents to cool to room temperature. Remove eggs. Carefully cut away nylons and plants and discard in the trash. Rinse eggs in cool water.

Polish with a little oil on a paper towel for extra gleam. Enjoy!

Our blue eggs came out very pale blue, but still pretty. They remind me of robins' eggs. You have to look very closely to see the leaf patterns. They are quite faint.


The onion skins dye turned out more brown than red, but they are still interesting and very earthy.

love the center egg. i used a dandelion leaf on that one.

I decided to try a couple more eggs. I heard that beets would give more of a pink/red color. I found a lone can of beets in my food storage and added it to my onion skin dye. I created two more eggs. Instead of putting them in nylons, I adhered the leaf by wrapping the egg with thread. You can see the method I used at You Craft Me Up. I also added a few good sized splashes of white vinegar because that helps fix dyes. I can't say if it really helped or not, but as you can see, these eggs are a rich, dark brown.



I liked the nylon method better than than the thread method because I could adjust and control the look of my leaf better and I didn't get the striations from the thread, but those lines are kind of cool in a way. Next year I will skip cabbage and try raw beets on their own to see if I can get a truer pink/red.

Also, my house now smells quite funky. Beets, onions, and cabbage. Mmmm!!!

I was curious about the tradition of dying Easter eggs and looked up Easter legends. I found this interesting tidbit here:

"According to tradition, during a dinner with the emperor Tiberius Caesar, Mary Magdalene was speaking about Christ’s Resurrection. Caesar scoffed at her, saying that a man could rise from the dead no more than the egg in her hand could turn red. Immediately, the egg turned red."

Other symbolism, not as dogma, but as tradition includes:

*The egg as the new life in Christ through His resurrection

*Red for the color of our Lord’s blood but also for His divinity

*The outer shell to be cracked as the doors of hell and death are shattered

I found that using the plants in the traditional Swiss dye took my mind to the new life of springtime. And since Easter is all about the triumph of life over death, it was very fitting. I can't wait to try out new colors and patterns.

Happy Easter everyone!



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Dream Is to Be an Author


If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer.
If you're a pretender come sit by my fire,
for we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in! Come in!

- Shel Silverstein

I dream of being an author. Of writing a book that people buy. One that is on the New York Times Bestsellers list. One that is translated into fourteen languages. One people recommend for book club and share with their friends. I dream of signing autographs at Barnes & Noble and telling Katie Couric exactly what inspired me. I dream of a rustic yet spacious cabin in the woods where I can afford to live full time and write away. I have much free time and free money to spend with my family. And my job is wonderful because it is writing books.


It's a dream that is so big that it scares the pants off me. What's yours? We all have them.

Have they been been placed in a dusty corner of your mental attic? (I've done that.)

Have you told yourself that you had to trade it for "different" dreams? (I've done that.)

Have you told yourself they are too silly? That dreams like that are just for children? (I've done that.)

Have you pushed them way into the future, telling yourself "someday"? (I've done that.)

Have you told yourself that you are too old, that you missed your chance? (I've done that.)

Have you told yourself that dreams are all they will ever be? It's great to have dreams but they never come true? (I've done that. A lot.)

I can't even number the amount of novels I have started. Two or three chapters in and a little voice begins to tell me, "This is stupid. No one would ever read this. You're wasting your time."

But dreams don't die easily. They don't slip away quietly in the night, gently stop breathing, and pass into the great void of dead dreams. No, dreams are violent. They bleed. They scream. They thrash. And if you ever manage to truly kill a dream, it haunts you. Forever.

Okay, so that got a little gothic.

After countless book beginnings, I finally got to a middle. I was shocked at myself. So shocked that I kept writing. And eventually, I got an end. I wrote an entire novel. I let some select people read it. It had to be so careful. Dreams are powerful, but awfully fragile. I was scared to share this sacred bit of my soul with people. It meant so much to me. All along I had been telling myself how stupid and lame it was. Could I cope if people who cared about me said the same thing?

But I powered through. I have read some pretty crappy books myself. I figured if publishers are printing pretty crappy books, why not print mine? I got positive feedback from my friends and family - although I know the audience was biased. :)

I began the next step. Finding an agent to represent the book. I sent out my query letters. Rejection. Rejection. Rejection. I thought each rejection would chip away at my resolve and break my heart. Was I disappointed? Sure. But it didn't kill me like I thought it would.

And then came an email. A certain agency wanted to read more of the manuscript! I was walking on air!!! I stayed up all night polishing my novel. I was so stoked. How much would they offer me? $30,000? $50,000? $400,000? I emailed it in. And they didn't want it after all.

I waited a few months and queried agents again. Three times an agent requested a partial draft. And three times I was turned away.

If you are hoping this story has a happy ending like me saying "I'm getting published!" you're not gonna get that.

I shelved that book for awhile. It's always extremely hard for a new author to be published, but even more so in a down economy when publishers only want to invest in proven authors.

The moral of this story is...I am writing again. A new novel. I have actually been working on it for about two years. It's a little closer to home for me, emotionally. I can feel myself eeking into the copy. And I am emotionally exhausted after I finish a writing session. I am in this story even more so than the last one. It is painful to write it. It will be painful to have it rejected. But it's me.

The point I am trying to make is this: I am SO PROUD of myself for writing an entire novel. For believing in it enough to send it out. I have read and filed away 29 rejection emails. That doesn't count the agencies who never bothered to formally reject me. And despite that, I still write and I still dream.

It is really, really scary to try to actualize a dream. REALLY frightening. If you don't do anything, you can always lie to yourself and say "If I really put my mind to it, I could've {insert dream}." We feign flippancy, pretending we don't care so we don't have to face failure.

How many people want to be authors? A lot. A LOT! How many people have actually fully written a book and submitted it to publishers? A lot less. And I am one of them. The failure feels good. And I will own it any day because it means I am not too scared to try.

And I am trying again. I am confident someday one of my crappy books will be selling at Barnes & Noble. Or even on the discount shelf at Shopko

Tell me {because they are more powerful in writing} what is your dream?



P.S. I have to add a post script. I meant to include this with the post, but it slipped my brain between bath time and bedtime of the kidlet. A very good friend - a friend named Keith who already commented on this post and may not even read this post script - gave me the most motivating advice I have ever, ever received. He told me over a decade ago "There are only two questions in life: what do you want? and how bad do you want it?"

The first question is easy to answer. It's the second question that always gets me. Do I want it bad enough to do something about it? Some things I say no to. But this dream is something I want bad enough that I'll crank out the time and risk the rejection. Repeatedly. That is how bad I want it.

Keith, I will forever be indebted for you for this treasure of wisdom.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Duck Birthday Party Decorations

Decorations for Joci's 2nd birthday party. I will have some tutorials coming soon on how to make some of these.

I think the party turned out cute and as they say, the devil is in the details, so I wanted to have some fun details for the party. Some of these elements turned out totally awesome and some were better in my head than in real life, but that's how it goes.

 
This sign hung on the outside of the front door. I tried to attach crepe paper to our front porch railing but it was too windy to stay put.  




The birthday banner. I love how it turned out. I plan on using it every year for the next decade. Joci's birthday colors must always be blue and yellow. :)
  


 A small element, but Justin and I both really love the punch it added. At the end of the night, I divied up the suckers among the guests.

Children's party favors included a washcloth, a rubber duck, a pack of bubbles and a bar of yummy smelling soap. Adults' party favors included a washcloth, chocolate candies, a small blue or yellow candle, and a bar of yummy smelling yellow soap.



Justin made this sign. My mother and I kept teasing him about how OCD he was about everything (I prefer to eyeball over measuring because I am a wee bit lazy) but it paid off. It is perfect!



For Pin the Beak on the Duck.

For the fishing game.

This one looked better in my head. And Joci only wore it for eleven seconds. That's fair. :)


I love that I decided to hang the tissue paper pom poms with ribbon instead of fishing wire. Made it dressier.

The cake. We have a love/hate thing going on here. Check out my cake tutorial here.


I saw a Martha Stewart tissue paper pom pom kit at the party store for $16.99. I made all of these for around $5 and I could have made more. If you want to know how I made the pom poms I used this tutorial off NatSprat.



It was sad to take the decorations down. Actually, I still have the pom poms and the birthday banner up. They are so cute that I think they deserve at least a week on display. :)

 

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