Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tantrum Torture....

In order to get through life with your sanity in tact, sometimes you just gotta find the humor in even the most torturous situations. With that, I present to you: Tantrum Torture.....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Popular baby names.....should you or shouldn't you?

Have you heard the news? Emily is no longer the number one name given to little girls. This year, the name Emma won out, while Emily is now ranked 3rd on the list of popular baby names for a girl. My daughter's name, Isabella, was the number one girl name for 2004, the year she was born. When I'm at the park and I call out, "Bella, it's time to go", there are usually 3 or 4 little Bella's looking up from what they were doing to see if they are the one being called for. Now every mother with a daughter named Emma gets to experience that.

But does knowing the ranking of baby names really matter when it comes to naming your child? Does it really matter if she has the same name as her friend, cousin or classmate? Even if you pick your daughter's name from a list of the most popular baby names, isn't your precious baby girl still special and unique in her own way?

So, with the thousands of baby girl names available to choose from, go with what's in your heart, whether it is an uncommon name or the most popular name of the year. Your daughter will feel special and unique with whatever name is chosen because of who she is. If you ask any adult (teachers, daycare providers, mommies), you will find that a child’s name is unique because of the child’s personality and her special qualities, not because they share their name with other classmates or it was ranked the number one baby girl name in 2009.

It’s always fun to check out what names are popular and what celebrities are naming their babies. So, unless you are set on naming your daughter a certain way you should check out Baby Names World at parentsconnect.com to gain access to an incredibly extensive and completely searchable listing of baby names, their origins, and even their meanings. You can mix and match names and see how they look together than decide if the meanings are appropriate for you.

Baby girl names are always fun to play with. There are so many names to combine that unless you do know what your baby’s name is going to be, it may take you the entire pregnancy to decide on a name. Baby Names World even keeps track of the names you like, so in your pregnancy-induced memory loss, you won’t have to!

So, tell me....did you or would you choose a popular baby name for your child?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You know I had to go there...my thoughts on Jon and Kate

I'm sure we've all read plenty about the whole Jon and Kate Plus 8 fiasco but I just can't help myself. As a fellow mom of multiple multiples, I have to jump right on the bandwagon with the rest of them. I watch the show from time to time but now that Eric and Betty Hayes have their own show, I much prefer them over the Gosselins. At least Eric and Betty Hayes are respectful towards one another and can laugh together over even the most stressful situations.

But last night, I had to tune in to the season premiere of Jon and Kate. It's like a train wreck...I just couldn't tear myself away from it. On at least SIX different occasions, Kate mentioned how she's "doing this alone", even making a snide comment about how she's planning the sextuplet's 5th b-day party on her own because "Jon needed the weekend off". Wait....is that....yes, I think it is....I hear a violin playing somewhere.....Are we supposed to feel sorry for her because she's taking care of her kids by herself a few times, here and there? She is their mother, after all. I suppose maybe she has become a bit spoiled with all the church ladies who come over to do her laundry, the nannies, the personal assistants, and the personal organic chef.

Truth be told, I do have sympathy for her to a degree. I know it's hard to go it alone when you have many young children to care for. Tim has gone on his fair share of business trips when I've had to go days at a time (24/7) alone with my kids so I do understand how challenging it can be.

However, with that said, I felt she went overboard repeating time and again how she was doing this on her own. Yes, Kate....we get it. You planned the b-day party by yourself....now that your viewers are aware of the fact, do you feel better? And see, the thing is....most stay-at-home moms don't even have a crew of camera people around to have an adult conversation with. So when she says she's "doing this on her own"....well, I don't think she TRULY has a vision of what "doing it on her own" is really like. You just know if one of the kids is choking on a grape, one of the camera guys is gonna step in and help, right? Most of us don't have that luxury.

I noticed at the b-day party on Monday's show that not one relative of hers or the children were present. No grandparents, no aunts, no uncles, no cousins. The children who came to the party were classmates of the sextuplets. None of the parents accompanying the children appeared to be friends with Kate. It didn't even seem that the people who helped her set up the party were friends of hers....and they didn't even engage in much conversation with her during the set-up. I feel even worse for her children.....it seems as if Kate has alienated so many people that now her young children are paying the price.

Isn't that a sign that you really need to examine how you've treated people? I'd be heartbroken if I was at my childrens' b-day party and looked around and saw that none of my extended family members or good friends were there to celebrate the special occasion with us. It would definitely cause me to look deep within myself and wonder why no one wants to be around me. It is possible that maybe this was all skewed by the show to make it look as if Kate was friendless at the party but I highly doubt it.

Don't think for a minute, though, that I'm on Jon's side here. Oh no....definitely not. The minute I heard that he was playing the whole "I got married young and had 8 kids by the time I was 27 yrs old" card, I rolled my eyes and thought he was yet another immature adult refusing to take responsibility for his part in things. No one held a gun to his head when he got married at a young age and no one forced him to take part in fertility treatments both times Kate got pregnant.

And I don't buy the excuse others are making for him in saying that Kate drove him to have an affair. Whether he did or didn't have the affair remains to be seen (by the public, anyway). Sure, Kate's been tough on him...she even admitted it on the show Monday night (in between the "I'm doing this by myself" jabs). But just because your spouse has treated you poorly does not give you permission to have an affair, or even just go out partying at 2 am with a young woman who is clearly not your wife. Jon made some poor choices but I don't believe for a minute that it's Kate's fault. No one can make you have an affair....not even your rude, disrespectful wife who berates you in front of millions of viewers on national tv.

During her separate interview at one point, Kate mentioned that couples with multiples have triple the divorce rate and that she had hoped they would beat those odds. I have to say my heart did go out to her. That part, I totally understand. After having two sets of twins, our marriage has been torn to shreds and we have had to go through over a year's worth of marital therapy to just get back on solid ground. Kids are tough on a marriage....but then you throw multiples into the mix and it's enough to put stress on even the strongest of marriages. I remember people used to tell me that if we could survive the first year of marriage, we could consider our marriage successful. But then after our 1st set of twins were born, the pediatrician told us that if our marriage could survive the first year of parenthood with twins (no less), we could consider our marriage successful. I'd have to agree with that but go a little further....I think if you can survive the first FIVE years of parenthood with children (especially multiples), then maybe we have a good chance of a successful marriage.

In the end, I do hope that Jon and Kate can work things out for the sake of their children. They say all things happen for a reason and I'd like to believe that maybe through all this mess, something good will come out of it. Perhaps Kate will take a harsh look at herself and realize that she needs to start treating those around her kindly and with more respect, especially her husband of all people. She also needs to stop playing the martyr here. I'm not sure if she was looking for America to applaude her ability to take care of her 8 children by herself but they are HER children....we kinda expect her to have to go it alone from time to time, just like so many of us have had to do.

And perhaps Jon will realize that it's much too late to go back and re-live his youth all over again. He needs to man-up and find a way to be happy with the way his life has turned out. Unfortunately, there are no do-overs in life....there are other people involved now, Jon. You have a wife, you have 8 kids....all of your actions no longer just affect only you. It affects your whole family. Every move you make has consequences for both you and them. Sorry to break the hard news to you, buddy....but someone has to say it.

Alrighty then, I'm off my soap box. Just had to get my two cents in here....I'd love to hear your thoughts on Jon and Kate.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Confessions from a not-so-perfect mother....

Okay, I've said it....I'm completely imperfect. Whew....it's such a relief to finally have it out there in black and white for the world to see. See, the thing is....I've been called "Supermom" many times. Oh, but it's not for anything spectacular that I've done....it's simply because of the number of kids I have. I go through the whole "two sets of twins" speech with perfect strangers and often times the conversation ends with "You ARE Supermom".

Um, no....not quite. I've missed the mark....missed it by several million miles, as a matter of fact. Of course I feel flattered that THEY see me as "Supermom" but then I'll go look at myself in the mirror and wonder what they're seeing that I can't see for myself. I'm no June Cleaver, trust me when I tell you that. I have my shortcomings and I have no qualms about sharing them. It feels good to purge every now and then.

So here's some of my confessions (for this week anyway):

1) I yell at my kids. Yeah, I'm a yeller. But I'll give myself SOME credit....I don't start off yelling at them. I yell after I have to repeat myself 5 or 6 times, as they continue to stare off into space. This is when I came up with the "freezing cold hands" technique that I mentioned in my Supernanny post.

2) I'm horrible at taking time-outs for myself. I read all the time in the parenting magazines that I subscribe to that when you're angry at your children, you need to step away from the situation before you lose control. Well, I fail miserably at that all the time. I know I should take a time-out....I know I should just shut my mouth and keep my thoughts to myself....but sometimes I can't help it. I lose control....my head spins around at least 10 times, my hair stands up on end, steam is spraying out of my ears. Wait...I think I have a picture of what I looked like last week when I was yelling....

3) Sometimes I can just be downright immature....you know, sinking to their level. If they ignore me repeatedly, it's likely that I'll pout and say, "Well, fine....next time you want something from me, I'll just ignore you and see how you like it". To add some more dramatic flare to the situation, I will stomp my feet loudly as I walk away from them.

4) I probably expect more from my kids than what's reasonable. Like, I expect when I say, "clean up your mess" that they will just spring into action....one will grab the huge Dyson vacuum that's about 50 pounds heavier than they are from the closet, one will start scrubbing the kitchen floor on their hands and knees, one will run around the house picking up all the toys while the last one gently waves a fan over my face and feeds me grapes.

5) I can be a drill sargeant when it comes to them eating their fruits and veggies. I have no problem with them eating chicken nuggets everyday for lunch, so long as they eat the apple slices and baby carrots on their plates. They try to outsmart me all the time, as if I'm really that stupid. Last week, Landon put his plate on the kitchen floor behind his chair and said, "All done". As if I couldn't see the plate on the floor behind him??! I may be super tired and I may be a little woozy from lack of food.....but, child, I'm NOT stupid.

6) I try to make them feel guilty. My mother used to do it to me so, the way I see it, it's just a vicious cycle that will never stop. I can't help myself...it's hereditary. Sometimes just whining to them, "Please....pppllleeeaaasseee....go get Mommy some iced tea from the fridge. I've been on my feet all day long doing things for you...can't you just do this one tiny thing for ME....after all, I did give you life". I just have to throw that last line in there..."after all, I did give you life" and that completely seals the deal. They are putty in my hands.

7) When my kids have tantrums, I do not give in. I'll even go so far as to egg them on a little, with "Oh come on now...it's not a full-blown tantrum until you throw your whole body on the ground"....."Nope, still not a tantrum unless you're kicking your legs and banging your fists on the ground"...."What?! No tears??...please....everyone knows it's not an official tantrum until there are TEARS"...."Surely, you can cry harder than that....I mean, if you're gonna embarrass yourself by throwing a tantrum, at least go the extra mile with a good hard cry". I'm not sure which is funnier....the reaction I get from my kiddos or the people who stop and stare at me in horror as I'm taunting my beloved children. I never said I wasn't evil.

Well, that's all I can think of right now....I'm sure there will be more confessions next week. It's inevitable.

So who's on board with me? Wanna share YOUR confession??? And if you feel you're completely faultless, feel free to still leave a comment proudly announcing your perfection (but don't hold me responsible if you start getting hate mail from the non-believers).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday regurgitation - "The children who wouldn't go to bed"

One of my bloggy buddies, Andy from Creative Junkie, came up with the idea of Sunday Regurgitation and I loved it so much that I "borrowed" it.....again.....for the 4th time. The whole idea is to go back and find an old post and re-post it (or for lack of better words, in my case, I'm just too lazy to come up with something entertaining today....). If you need a good laugh, definitely go check her blog out. I promise she will turn your frown upside down.

The Children Who Wouldn't Go To Bed:

Cole and Bella are the world's biggest stallers when it comes to bedtime. Just when I think they've used every excuse in the book, they'll come up with something so out of this world, it actually boggles my mind. I told them the other night, "You know, you guys could write a book full of all these bedtime stalling techniques, sell it to other kids and probably make a fortune". Cole said, "Would a fortune be enough to buy some trains at the store?". Before I knew it, I realized I was having quite a lengthy conversation about this....yet another stalling technique of theirs....ask Mommy a question that will require lots of thought and discussion.

Here are just a few excuses they've used recently:

I can't find my blankie (that's odd....I'm pretty sure I just saw you put it under your pillow but I have to give you credit...that might've worked if I hadn't still been in the room when you hid it. You're getting there, though your techniques are still a bit rusty....Mommy - 1 pt, Kids - 0 pts)

I think I might need to poop (well, if you think you MIGHT need to poop, then you probably don't need to....tell your butt to take the night off)

I hear voices (are they dead people? No? Well then go to sleep)

I need to floss my teeth (You can floss in the morning...and since when do you care so much about flossing your teeth? Oh, that's right.....you only worry about such important things when it's 10 minutes past your bedtime. I suppose tomorrow night you'll be telling me you need to solve world hunger)

My eyebrows are bothering me (Well, then maybe we should shave them off so you can get to sleep)

Why do we have to sleep? (Because that's when your body does all its growing)

So if we don't ever sleep, we won't grow? (Precisely...in fact, I heard a rumor that if kids don't get at least 9 hours of sleep a night, they start shrinking back to the size they were when they were born. We'd have to wheel you into kindergarten next year in a baby stroller...how embarrassing would that be?!)

I need you to rub my back again (I've already rubbed your back for more than a few minutes....who's gonna rub my back when it's sore from bending over to rub your back?) Daddy will rub you (yeah, I bet he will, but unfortunately that would probably only make my back hurt worse)

I'm afraid of the monsters *for the 10th time* (That's wierd....I got an e-mail today from Elmo saying that he and Grover are scared of YOU)

Why is the moon so bright? (Because God needs a nightlight too)

I'm worried (What are you worried about?) Ummm, hmmmm, ummmm, I'm worried about....ummmmmm (nice try....NOW GO TO SLEEP)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Got a thing for chicken wings??

After my last post, some people have requested the recipe for the chicken wings I made.....here's a pic if you missed it!



It's a very easy recipe but can be somewhat time consuming...but let me just say now that it is worth the time!!

You can use either fresh chicken wings or frozen (just make sure they're defrosted by the time you cook them). I usually use about 3-4 lbs of wings since we like to eat them as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan with foil and spray the foil generously with Pam (or whatever spray you have). Sprinkle the wings on both sides with garlic powder, onion powder and seasoned salt (I use Lawry's seasoned salt). Then throw them in the over for about 20-25 minutes. After 20-25 minutes, turn them over and cook another 20-25 minutes.

While the wings are cooking, mix together 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (whatever brand you like....I use Sweet Baby Ray's....oh, if you get the Sunday paper, check your coupons from May 10 because there's a $1.00 off coupon in there and if you buy the sauce at Target, you'll only pay .42 cents), 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup soy sauce (I use the lite kind and it tastes fine). Okay, so that's 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup soy sauce. And if you like your wings cooked in extra sauce or you want some extra for dipping sauce on the side, just double the recipe for the sauce. Mix it all together and set aside until your wings are done.

Once your wings are cooked thoroughly through, pour the sauce over them and use a pastry brush to make sure each wing is covered in sauce on both sides. Or you could use a baster. Whatever, as long as each wing is completely coated in sauce.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook for another 20-25 minutes. Check them after that and if they're starting to get crispy and carmelized, they're DONE, baby. If not, just put them back in the oven and keep an eye on them. Sometimes it's taken up to 30-35 minutes to get them crispy and gooey.

They'll be a beautiful brown color and look kinda glazy and gooey....SO good. I always serve corn on the cob with it and sometimes coleslaw.

ENJOY!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

A boy and his passion for corn on the cob....

For some reason, I had always shied away from giving the little ones corn on the cob. Maybe I thought they'd choke or just make a huge mess....I dunno. But the other night I made some yummy chicken wings....check them out....

In the famous words of Rachael Ray (who I find annoyingly annoying, btw), these wings were yum-o....delish....totally worth licking every last drop of your fingers kinda good. I also made some corn on the cob and figured it was going to be a messy meal as it was so might as well toss the cobs over to the kids and let them have some fun. Geez, I sound like I'm talking about a pack of dogs or something.

Anyway, so we discovered that Garrett is extremely passionate about corn on the cob, as evidenced by the following pictures....

And after he finished HIS corn on the cob, he continued eating everyone else's corn on the cob.

He looked so adorable munching on all those corn cobs but his diaper the next day....yeah, not so much. Let's just say, we'll be limiting his intake of corn the next time around.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Free summer movies....yes, I said FREE!

Nowadays, it's so expensive to take the whole family somewhere. We can easily drop $200.00 after just a few hours at an amusement park (and that's after we've bought season passes).

So needless to say, I was thrilled to find out that Regal theaters is continuing to offer their Free Family Film Festival this summer. It's free and it starts at the beginning of June and runs through the whole summer. Oh, and did I mention it's FREE?!

Just click -----> Regal Entertainment and then find your state and it will give you an entire list of various theaters where you live which are showing FREE movies, along with the show schedules.

Just so ya know...I haven't been paid to put this out here....I'm just a mom with 4 kids who loves anything FREE and I wanted to share it with you all, assuming you also love free stuff!

And yes, FREE is one of my favorite words, obviously.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Tower of Terror....or, if you will, the journey of motherhood

I belong to our local MOPS groups and I absolutely love it. I look forward to those meetings more than anything and not just because childcare is provided for a whole 2 hours (though that definitely is a perk, I won't lie) but also because I get to interact with other mothers, who also have young children. We're all experiencing very similar things with our children and there's a genuine understanding of the rewards and challenges of motherhood.

What I love most about these meetings is when one of the moms who is considered to be a "mentor mom" gives a presentation. She has 4 children, including a set of twins, who are all adults now, so she is living proof that I will survive to see my kids well into their teenage years. Recently, she gave a presentation on HOPE. What gives us hope when we're at our lowest points? Do we feel the presence of God in our everyday lives?

One major point she made was the comparison of the journey of motherhood to an amusement park ride. I had honestly never thought about it like that but as I listened to her explain the analogy, I found myself nodding my head in complete agreement. Let me describe:

1) Tower of Terror: You and your family finally decide to splurge and go on vacation to Disneyland. You're hesitant at first...can you afford it, will it be more work than it will be fun, will everyone want to do the same things or will you spend most of your time separated? You're feeling all kinds of pressure so you decide to just go for it, figuring a trip to Disneyland with the family will be the ultimate fun vacation.

Motherhood: You and your husband consider starting a family. You're hesitant at first....can you afford a child, will it be more work than it will be fun, will your husband share in the childcare responsibilities equally? After feeling a little bit of pressure from family members ("when are you gonna make me a grandma already?"), you decide to just go for it, figuring motherhood will be the ultimate fun journey.

2) Tower of Terror: At the park, you're waiting in line to ride the Tower of Terror....45 minutes of waiting. When you first get in line, you think it's moving rather quickly. But after about 15 minutes, it feels like you're still standing in the same spot. Your feet are tired, you're irritated and your excitement about the ride is starting to fade.

Motherhood: You and your husband are having a lot of fun "practicing" for a baby. After the first month, you just KNOW it's gonna happen right away and you anticipate all the fun ways you'll tell your husband that he's gonna be a father. But after about 3 months of failed cycles, your excitement starts to fade and you realize this may take longer than you expected.

3) Tower of Terror: You're finally up to the front of the line, waiting for the next available elevator. You feel your excitement begin to surge once again! As the elevator opens , your heart starts pounding in your chest.

Motherhood: Your period still hasn't arrived when you were expecting it....do you dare allow yourself to consider that you may be pregnant? You start to feel excited at the very thought. You do a home pregnancy test and as you wait to see those 2 lines, your heart starts pounding in your chest.

4) Tower of Terror: You get on the elevator, get buckled into your seat and start the slow, bumpy ascent to the top. Your heart is still pounding in your chest but now you're also beginning to feel anxious and nervous. Was this a good idea? Is the ride going to be super fun or are you going to regret it? As you get closer to the top of the ride, you start to panic....is it possible to get off this ride NOW? Just as quickly as that thought enters your mind, you are thrust out into the open and you realize there is no turning back.

Motherhood: Yes, you are pregnant. You are excited but also very anxious and nervous. Was this a good idea? Is motherhood going to be everything you dreamed about or are you going to regret it? As you get closer to your delivery date, you start to panic....is it possible to announce that you want a "do-over"? On the day your water breaks, you realize there is NO turning back....ready or not, this baby (or babies, in my case) is coming...

5) Tower of Terror: Once you are thrust out the doors into the open, you realize you can see for miles and miles. You can see the entire Disneyland park and the view is amazing and beautiful. You certainly appreciate the view but, at the same time, you feel scared and wonder if the operator of this ride is going to keep you safe from harm.

Motherhood: You've given birth to the most amazing and beautiful little human being you've ever laid your eyes on. You never realized how much love your heart could hold until this very moment. You can certainly appreciate the beauty of motherhood now but, at the same time, you feel scared wondering if you'll be a good mother and if you'll be able to always keep your child out of harm's way.

6) Tower of Terror: Without warning, suddenly you start to descend.....down, down, down....so quickly that it literally takes your breath away. You feel your heart in your throat, your stomach drops and you're not sure you can take much more of this. You just want the ride to be over with. This is totally NOT what you were expecting this ride to be like.

Motherhood: Suddenly, the adrenaline has worn off and sleep deprivation has set in. You're so tired you can't see straight, your boobs hurt from breastfeeding, a seriously bad case of post-partum depression is looming and you're not sure you can take much more of this. This is totally NOT what you were expecting motherhood to be like.

7) Tower of Terror: Just when you think you're going to puke, the ride comes to a sudden lurch and you realize that it's over. You're safe....you're still alive....and, believe it or not, you can't wait to get back on the ride again.

Motherhood: Just when you think you're going to lose your mind, your baby starts sleeping through the night. You feel tears fill your eyes as your baby smiles at you for the first time. You feel an overwhelming sense of pride and confidence you hadn't begun to feel until just now. And, believe it or not, you can't wait to go through it all again.

And that, my friends, was probably the wildest ride of MY life thus far....how about yours?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Infertility, my cross to bear (continued).....IVF #2

For the first three parts of this series, read The Beginning....Infertility, my cross to bear (part 1), Infertility, my cross to bear (continued) (part 2) and Infertility, my cross to bear....IVF #1 (part 3)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perserverance. Perserverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ----James 1: 2-4

I was still reeling from the grief of the miscarriage, as we made plans to move forward with another IVF cycle. I had my good days where I threw myself 100% into planning IVF #2 and then I would have horrible days where I would just cry for hours on end. As much as I tried not to focus on the heartbreak I was still experiencing, it always came back to me. The fact that I would never know this child broke my heart....I would never see his face, never hear his cries and never hold him in my arms and it crushed me more than I would have imagined.

At the same time, I knew that no amount of grieving or bitterness would bring me my baby back so I had to start letting go and moving forward. That's not to say I ever forgot....no, I would never forget. But there did come a day when the burden in my heart didn't feel as heavy anymore and it didn't hurt each time I drew in a deep breath.

In the evenings, after work, to keep myself focused on the journey ahead, I spent time reading my bible. I memorized the verse posted above and carried it in my heart at all times. I had to believe that things happened for a reason and that I would become a mother in GOD's time, not MY time.

As we were making plans to move forward, Tim and I sat down one evening to look at our financial situation. I almost keeled over when we both realized that we had spent almost $30,000 on just that ONE cycle. It made my stomach turn that we had absolutely nothing to show for what we had spent, except for our broken hearts and still empty arms. We were relying heavily on our home equity line of credit to pay for all our infertility services, even though we had no clue how we'd ever pay off all this debt (and believe it or not, 6 years later, we are still paying off this debt).

I had my phone consultation with Dr Sher to discuss plans for us to cycle in Vegas with him. He was sympathetic about our outcome from IVF #1 but he gave me hope that we could still have a successful pregnancy using my own eggs. We discussed some things he would do differently this next time around and by the time I got off the phone with him, I felt encouraged, hopeful and....yes, even excited.

I started right back up where I left off with acupunture and decided that this time around I'd follow the Traditional Chinese Medicine diet that was strongly recommended to me. I lived off of warm noodle soup, decaf black dirt tea, protein galore, and spelt toast (if you don't know what this is, then consider yourself lucky). I lost 8 pounds during the first 2 weeks. I was starving ALL. THE. TIME.

Oh and I also became wierdly superstitous...I had this smoky quartz crystal that I had to have with me at all times, I wore a pair of "lucky" socks that had been passed on to me after being worn by 3 of my IVF cycle buddies (who were all pregnant after wearing said lucky socks), and God forbid a black cat cross my path...I would go into hiding for days out of fear that I was doomed to an empty barren life.

Then came the day when I had a phone appointment with my wonderful nurse, Elaine (who was an absolute Godsend) and she e-mailed me my IVF protocol, which absolutely boggled my mind because I wasn't sure how I was going to keep all the meds straight without screwing it up! I wanted to run for the hills....seriously. I just stared at the protocol, shaking my head and thinking, "This is what has become of my life?? Why can't I just be one of those women who gets pregnant by just standing in the same room as her husband?!"

Tim and I began fighting even more than usual during this IVF cycle. Perhaps it was because I was more emotional this time around....from knowing that nothing is ever guaranteed. Just because I got pregnant on our 1st IVF didn't necessarily mean I'd get pregnant again this time....and just because I get pregnant this time doesn't necessarily mean I'd STAY pregnant....I was starting to come undone very quickly and I think it was taking its toll on Tim.

However, I did my best to find humor in the littlest things, to keep from crying every single minute of the day. One time, Tim was watching me prepare my Heparin injection and as I was about to inject myself, he said, "Do you always leave some air at the tip of the syringe?" and I said, "yeah, I don't want to risk squirting any of the Heparin out of the needle so I leave a little air pocket at the tip...why?" He just shook his head in disbelief and said, "You do realize in your conscientous effort to not waste any medicine, you're taking a serious risk. If too much air enters your bloodstream, it could be FATAL....you know, as in DEATH".

I just rolled my eyes at him but as I injected myself, I imagined the headlines in the paper the next day...."Infertile woman dies while injecting Heparin", with a picture of me laying on the ground, completely lifeless, with a needle sticking out of my belly and it made me laugh outloud. Have I mentioned yet that all these IVF meds made me a little insane? Not a lot....just a little bit insane.

The day before our cycle was to officially begin, Tim and I packed up our car and drove the 9 hours it would take us to get to Vegas. He focused on his talk radio crap shows and I had brought along our portable DVD player so I could get lost in romantic comedies and not have to think about IVF for a little while.

The day of my first appointment finally arrived. It was the moment of truth. I walked into Dr Sher's office and immediately felt inadequate. Almost every woman there was stick thin, with huge boobs and fake tans. I mean, really....who has such a dark, rich tan in December? And who can have such a flat stomach while stimming during an IVF cycle?? The minute I inject myself with Follistim, my belly puffs out as if I just binged on 10 huge bowls of red beans and rice.

After registering for my appointment, I managed to squeeze my fat, bloated ass into a chair in the waiting room and promptly buried my head into a magazine so I wouldn't have to compare myself with all the Barbies in the room.

Finally, we got called back and I sat on the exam table, barely covered by a way-too-small paper gown (which, by the way, I always wonder why those things don't come in varying size...like S, M, L, XL, and Fat Bloated Ass). In walked Dr Sher and I just stared at him in awe...you'd think it was God personally walking into the room and handing me a baby himself.

He had another RE with him, who was planning to take over another one of Sher's clinics...he asked if I minded if Dr B stayed in the room and I said, "No...at this point, so many different people have seen my hoo-haw...what's one more?" Dr B said, "Oh, this one...she has a sense of humor".....why, yes I do, and thank you for noticing. It's the one thing I had managed to salvage during this torturous hell, which some people casually referred to as "trying to conceive".

Dr Sher started the ultrasound and he was as quick as could be, rattling off a bunch of numbers to the nurse to write down. Then he turned off the ultrasound machine and said, "Okay...." and I said, "Um....okay, what? Break it down for me....how many follicles do I have brewing in there?!". He looked so serious as he said, "Well, not too many I'm afraid....you have 1 follicle on your left ovary and your right ovary has maybe 5-6 follicles but they are all very small. But don't worry...I think you're just starting to take off and everything will be fine...just keep stimming and let's give it another week". WTF??!!

I had stimmed for 9 days already and this is all I had?! I was pretty sure I heard God laughing at me....Dr B added in, "Sometimes it takes a little time to prepare a good meal". I just sat there, shaking my head and said, "I'm not a freakin lasagna....I want big, huge follicles...lots of them....how can this be happening? I had better results on my last IVF by this point...." and then my chin started quivering and I knew what was about to happen. I was going to bawl....bawl my eyes out, right there on the exam table in the paper gown that barely covered my fat, bloated ass. Either that or I was gonna puke....I decided crying was much more....hmmm, well...lady-like.

The next day I had a serious breakdown in the bathroom as I was about to get in the shower. I saw my bloated and bruised belly in the mirror and it instantly made me angry. I kept thinking there had to be a reason God was putting me through all this...there's always a reason for everything, right? But so far I hadn't learned anything...hadn't experienced any major "ah-ha" moments, like Oprah has.

One of my cycle buddies and I were talking one day and she asked me, "So tell me, have you had a complete breakdown yet?" and I told her, "Yes, here and there". She said if it were her in my shoes, she would've given up by now and just gone and packed her bags and headed home, completely devastated. I told her that I just couldn't give up now...I had come too far to just walk away, especially when I had Dr Sher telling me my ovaries just needed some more time.

So my attitude was that I was just going to have trust him and be patient with my body. I wanted a baby so badly that anything I had to endure at that point was a walk in the park compared to going home having given up and never knowing what might have been. "So", I told her, "until Dr Sher tells me he's lost hope that I'll have a baby, then that's the day I'll give up".

Unfortunately, a week later, that fateful day came. After stimming for another week, 15 days in total....7 injections on each of those days....Dr Sher did another ultrasound and there were no follicles at all. Not even immature ones....all the small follicles I had a week ago were now gone....vanished into thin air, as if they never existed. He didn't even have to say anything. I had had enough ultrasounds to know what I was looking at....my ovaries were completely empty. He turned off the machine and asked me to sit up and then he said, "I'm so sorry but it looks like this is the end of the road for you....". I tried my best to stifle the tears that were threatening to come. My head was spinning and I couldn't grasp onto any thoughts...I was in shock. Then I heard someone sobbing....and I quickly realized that it was me.

Dr Sher explained that with all his 22 years experience in this field, especially working with patients like me with high FSH, he knows when to call it quits and after me being on the most aggressive protocol possible with such a poor response...well, it was time for me to call it quits. Apparently, I had waited too long to try to have children. I was only 34 years old but I had the ovaries of a 60-year old.

As I cried, I asked Dr Sher, "Are you sure? Are you absolutely positive that this is IT for me? Can't I try one more time? What do I do now? Where do I go from here? Why is this happening? Please explain it to me because I don't understand....what exactly are you telling me...this CANNOT be happening!" Tim was in tears by this point as well, as he stood next to me completely helpless and powerless to do anything but wrap his arms around me to try to take the sadness and the heartbreak away but knowing full well that not even he could dull the pain I was going through.

Dr Sher took my hands in his and he said, "Look at me....just focus on ME and listen with all your heart, okay?" I stopped crying long enough to nod my head, as he continued, "With all my experience, my professional opinion is that your ovaries are done....I'm afraid you are at the bottom of the barrel here, with nothing left to give. I believe within the next 3-4 years you'll be completely menopausal. I think you need to give up the dream of having your own biological children. I honestly think that, if you want to experience a successful pregnancy, the only way you'll go on to have a take-home baby is by using donor eggs. You know I very rarely recommend that to my high FSH patients unless I firmly believe that's the last option....and in your case, I feel it's the last option".

I shook my head, still in denial, and asked, "Can't I try another protocol? Surely, you, of all people, has to have something else up his sleeve?" but he didn't answer. He just looked at me with such sympathetic eyes. I continued, "Please don't tell me that I can't have my own biological children....please don't tell me that. You were supposed to be my miracle worker...you were going to be our answer to prayer. And here you are telling me that this is never going to happen for me unless I give up the idea of conceiving a child with my own DNA?? I just don't think I can....I don't think I can use donor eggs. I want my child to have MY DNA....my eyes, my hands, my smile....I can't do this".

He squeezed my hands tightly in his and he said, "At this point, you need to decide if you want to be a mom or if you want to keep putting yourself through this heartbreak and disappointment, continuing to do IVF after IVF with the same devastating outcome. When are you going to decide you've had enough? I can tell you that when you're holding that baby in your arms, it won't matter how he or she got here...you will just be so overjoyed by this new life that God has blessed you with that you simply won't remember any of the pain you're feeling now. Believe me when I tell you this....you can do this....you CAN".

But did I believe that? That was the question. I just didn't know when to call it quits and wave the white flag....would I always wonder "what if I had just tried one more time with my own eggs".....oh dear God why did this have to be so damn hard?? And if I was able to have a child conceived with donor eggs, how would I feel every time someone would say, "She looks nothing like you" or the day when my child might come to me and ask why we look so different from one another. What would I say?! How do I ever tell my child what I went through and what I gave up in order to bring her/him into this world?

I knew in my heart that Dr Sher was right. I knew I would do anything it took to fulfill my dreams of becoming a mother. We weren't like those other couples who could afford to do IVF after IVF with the hopes of getting lucky on that 10th cycle. We were in debt up to our ears, with no idea of how we were going to get out from underneath it all. Our next cycle had to be "the one"....we had to go for broke and come out on the other side....the one with the happy ending.

But at that time....on that specific day, I was just too consumed with heartache to see it. I couldn't believe that just a mere 4 months prior to this I was pregnant with my own flesh and blood...a child who shared my DNA... a child whose face I should have been able to look at and see myself in his/her reflection. Now that would never happen...I could not believe that I had forever lost out on the opportunity to have my own biological children.

Tim and I had some big decisions to make, I knew that. But, first, I had to go through the gut-wrenching grief one must go through in a situation like this. It was one thing to know I had to go through IVF to conceive a child but it was another thing to actually have to say goodbye to the idea of having a biological child. My worst fear had just happened....and it was so much more unbearable than I ever could have imagined.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will direct your paths -- Proverbs 3: 5-6

To be continued.....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dear Supernanny,

Yes, I know you are a world-renowned expert on parenting. As a parent who has religiously watched your show from the very beginning and who has the utmost respect for you, I have employed many of the techniques you have taught on your show, such as the naughty chair, getting down to my child's level and speaking to them in a calm but stern tone of voice to get their attention, "consistency is key", and the roaming technique.

For the most part, I have been successful.....up until recently. I think perhaps my kids are bored with the old techniques. They are smart little boogers...smarter than I give them credit for. So I have found that I need to keep one step ahead of them, especially when it comes to showing them who the REAL boss is.

So I've had to come up with some new techniques in helping me deal with some behavior problems I've encountered. Let me share a few of them with you....

1) The "I've got my eye on you" technique (this replaces the "naughty chair" technique): Like most kids, my kids hate doing time-outs. It's a constant battle to get them to stay in the naughty chair and, with 3 other children to watch over, I don't have time to sit with the naughty child and make sure he/she stays in time-out. You can bet if I take my eyes off of my other kids for even a millisecond, someone will end up with....I dunno....say, a cracked skull requiring staples or a seashell shoved deep in their ear requiring forceps to remove the shell.

There's no easy way to explain the "I've Got My Eye On You" technique so perhaps a few pictures will suffice....


And for the one child who is especially bad at staying on time-out....well, he simple requires "I've got BOTH eyes on you".


Sure, you and I both know that those are just silly little googley eyes that are used on various art projects....but my kids, for as smart as they are, actually believe that I can see every little thing they do when I'm not even in the room. "I've Got My Eye On You".....seriously, you should recommend it to some of your parents. It works.

2) The "Freezing cold hands" technique: Okay, so I've tried the whole "get down to their level and speak to them in a calm but stern voice" thing in order to get my children's attention. It used to work....now, not so much. First of all, I can't even get them to respond to me when I call their names. Then when I finally do get a "huh? what?" from them, they still refuse to pay attention to exactly what I'm saying. I say "please focus on what I'm saying to you" and they practically laugh in my face. So I knew I had to come up with something better than that.

The "freezing cold hands" technique is easy. When you want your kid's attention but your requests fall on deaf ears, simply fill a tall glass with ice cold water (go ahead, put some ice cubes in it to make it even more extreme), wrap your hands around the glass for about 10-15 seconds until your hands are freezing cold....then walk over to your apparently hearing-impaired child and place your hands under his shirt on his nice, warm skin (preferably on his sides because that seems to be the most sensitive area). I can pretty much guarantee with all certainty that you will now have your child's full attention. Do not remove your freezing cold hands until your child has repeated back to you exactly what you have asked of him.

3) The "Always keep them guessing" technique: Yeah, yeah, yeah....consistency is key, or so they say. What I have found is that with my use of consistency, my kids have learned what to expect from me. That's the point, right? But while consistency may work for most parents, it hasn't been a good experience for me. My kids still continue to challenge me, no matter what, even though I've stuck to my guns, consistently.

So in order to stay ahead of the game, I've had to mix things up a bit. You know, keep them on their toes...always keep them guessing. Say, one day I tell them they can absolutely NOT wear sandals to the park....they fight me tooth and nail on this, whining repeatedly "but why, Mommy?". Then the next time we go to the park I say "sure, go ahead and wear your sandals". They're shocked...they didn't see that one coming at all. "Hmmmm, what did we do differently this time that made her say 'yes'?", they wonder to themselves. They are almost stunned into silence, leaving them without the ability to argue with me. They simply comply with whatever I say, due to extreme shock.

With this technique, they never quite know what to expect and when you do say yes to something that you normally would say no to, it completely throws them off. Believe it or not, it leaves them hungry for more inconsistency. The kids will have fun with this one. It almost becomes a game of sorts, but I'm always the winner, even if they don't realize it.

4) The "They know where their bread is buttered" technique (this replaces the roaming technique): I've watched you teach parents the roaming technique over and over again on your show. Parents are always in awe that their kids will actually stay close to them if they simply tell the kids they can walk next to them without having to hold hands BUT if the child starts roaming off and doesn't adhere to the loud verbal "stop" that the parent screams out, the consequence is that the child must then hold hands with the parent. However, most of these parents didn't have multiple kids, let alone two sets of twins all under the age of 4. While the general idea of your roaming technique is lovely, I find that it doesn't necessarily work for those of us who have a lot of kids, especially young ones.

The "they know where their bread is buttered" technique is a sure-fire way to keep your kids next to you at all times. Here's the idea....take, last week for instance. The kids and I met up with a friend and her kids at the park in the late afternoon. As it was time to leave, I announced to my kids that everyone needed to make their way to the mini-van. Next thing I knew, only 1 kid was heading to the mini-van...the other 3 had completely scattered about, totally ignoring me. My friend said, "I love how they just run off in different directions..." and I said, "that's okay...they know where their bread is buttered" and I started walking to the mini-van without the other 3 kids. When they realized I wasn't going to hunt them down and chase them all over God's creation, all 3 of them came running after me, screaming, "Mommy, mommy.....wait for us". My friend just looked at me, smiled and said, "Oh, you're good....you've got it down pat". No further explanation needed on this one, obviously.

So, you see, Supernanny....sometimes you gotta teach an old dog new tricks. You gotta mix it up....be the best at your game, know what I mean? Please feel free to borrow any of these techniques if you'd like....but just remember to give me a shout-out on one of your shows sometime. And if you ever find yourself in need of more fabulous new ideas....I'm your girl!

Peace out.....

Friday, May 15, 2009

And the winners of the We Heart Art Contest/Giveaway are....

I'm pulling a Seacrest here....we have the results...and the winners will be revealed.....right after this....

I'm so pleased that Wendy from Green Girl Art, an artist in her own right who has generously offered to award one of our lucky winners with a beautiful hand-crafted fairy door, has stopped by my blog to highlight some of her personal favorites from the We Heart Art contest/giveaway. Here's what Wendy had to say.....

Wow, there are so many little artists out there. Firstly I want to say thank you to all the mom’s & dad’s out there bringing art into your children’s lives, encouraging it, guiding & teaching no matter where your little one does art {even it is on the wall…especially if it is on the wall}. It was a pleasure to go through all the art everyone has loving shared.

So without further ado my personal favorites...

Juls at
The Crazee Scotts

Not only are the Scott girls talented – they have lovely voices. Almost as much as I love their performances I love Jul’s philosophy of teaching her daughters to laugh.

Alicia at
More Than Words

Eli has awesome skills, I love the colors of this piece.

Denene at
My Brown Baby

Her daughter’s self portraits are brilliant. I love that she is bringing the art to them, by not only teaching them herself, but seeking out teachers that will encourage them to grow.

The Snail's Trail

yo-yo painting rocks – anything that lets you swing around paint and have such beautiful results is totally up my alley.

Ryan Ashley Scott at
For Monsoon. With Love, Mommy

For noticing and seeing the art in his castle of chalk, because that is his art.

Thanks to Helene for letting me come by and give my opinion. And a huge thanks to Three Bay B Chicks, I'm Living Proof that God Has a Sense of Humor, and Domestically Challenged for creating this lovely event.


Okay, so now on to the lucky winners.....(all winners were selected randomly):

Blush (topless undershirt): B from Simply B, Simply Me and Jennifer from the The Toy Box Years

Necklace from Noisy Bird: The Snails Trail

Bag from Funky Bag Freak : Mrs. Bear from Outnumbered Two to One

The Secret Circus book: Amanda from Proud Mommy of Four

One-sie from Forever Folding Laundry : Confessions of a Semi-Slacker Mom

fairy door: Hillbilly Duhn's Times and Tribulations

Kid’s Busy Box : Denene from My Brown Baby

Congratulations to all the winners!! And a huge THANK YOU to every one of you who participated in this fun art carnival!! I was thrilled to see so many entries and I absolutely loved looking at all the projects that were submitted. Cole and Bella sat down with me for a little while this afternoon and looked at a bunch of the art projects and now I have a nice, long list of projects we are going to tackle in the next few weeks....because Lord knows, I don't have one creative bone in my body!!

Lastly, I want to thank both Francesca at 3 Bay B Chicks and Sara at Domestically Challenged for co-hosting this event with me. I was honored to be a part of it with you both!! And another thank you to all the companies/bloggers who generously contributed prizes for us to award to the winners!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today's the LAST day to show us YOUR art!

Okay, TODAY is the last day to showcase your art for the We Heart Art contest/giveaway (details of how the contest works are down below)! On Tuesday, you got to check out all the amazing prizes that will be awarded randomly to a few lucky winners! I also posted some of the pictures of those prizes in my sidebar on the right....just to give you extra incentive!!

One of my blog readers (GAMzu) sent me some beautiful artwork created by her 2 young sons. So I wanted to share it with you all, as these are the entries she wanted to show off...

This colorful ocean drawing was created by her 4-yr old son (soon to be 5). He lives for art. He discovered Paint Shop when he was 2 1/2 yrs old. One day, he was watching his mom edit photos and asked to have a turn and he discovered so many functions that she had never known about that HE ended up showing HER how to do it. The more Paint Shop art he created, the better at it he became.

Her 3-yr old son isn't very into crafts, but he loves to get his little hands on Mom's camera whenever he can. He has been taking photos since age 2, and some of his shots are really special. Below is a just one of the creative shots he has done. While sitting on the front stoop of their home one day, he snapped a picture of his shoe and it turned out to be such an amazing picture! My kids....they take pictures of each other's bare butts and they call that art. Needless to say, I won't be showing off those pictures.


Sooooo....are you all ready to show off your artwork and/or your children's artwork??!!

Remember, our definition of art is very broad and there is no limit to your number of entries.

Kids might feature... a drawing, painting, or sidewalk chalk creation, a video of themselves explaining a piece of artwork, singing, or playing a musical instrument, something they created in the kitchen, or an example of their writing, e.g., short story, poem, etc.

Adults could highlight... a drawing, painting, or a video, something you created on the computer or in the kitchen, an example of your writing, e.g., short story, poem, etc., a sample of your scrapbooking, or art that you created as a child.

It doesn't necessarily have to be anything recent either. If your child created a project for school, show us that! If you just baked an amazing cake, show us that! I know some of you take the most amazing photographs...we wanna see that too!!! If your kids just wallpapered your bedroom walls with magazine cut-outs (ahem...Emily!), show it off, baby!!

Here is how the We Heart Art carnival works:

On Wednesday, May 13 and Thursday, May 14, Mr. Linky will be open on my blog, as well as on the Three Bay B Chicks and Domestically Challenged blogs.

• After you have published your entry for We Heart Art on your own blog, come back here and link your specific post via Mr. Linky.

• Winners will be randomly selected and announced on Friday, May 15.


Want to earn additional entries, and drive more traffic to your blog?

Link your post to all three blogs hosting Mr. Linky.

• Link to old posts that you have published.

• Follow my blog, the
Three Bay B Chicks, and Domestically Challenged (if you already follow all three blogs, just leave a comment saying so).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kid's Busy Box....an answer to every busy mother's prayers!

My kids LOVE art. They could be having the worst day and all I have to say is, "Let's do some art projects" and everything is okay in the world again. The frowns and tears are suddenly replaced with smiles and cheer (hey, that rhymed...yeah, it's the little things that amuse me, obviously).

So I was totally excited when I was given the opportunity to review the Spring Solo Deluxe Edition made by Kid's Busy Box. The company was started by 5 mothers in Maryland who wanted to stimulate their children’s creativity and confidence without spending a lot of time searching for ideas and shopping for materials. Between the 5 of them, they had 11 children who all loved the creative process of art....so these moms came together and created this wonderful company, with the hopes of inspiring other parents to nurture their own children's creative abilities.

Each Kid's Busy Box is comprised of:

• 20 high-quality crafts
• Easy-to-follow instructions
• All the craft materials included: yarn, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, beads, stickers & more (materials vary by season)

You have the option to use your own glue, crayons, markers, tape and other art supplies to complete the projects OR you can upgrade to a deluxe edition and all the art supplies needed are included! How wonderful is that?! When you upgrade to a deluxe edition, it's really as simple as opening up your Kid's Busy Box and you're ready to start creating art with your children!

If you have more than one child, you can select a DOUBLE TAKE or TRIPLE PLAY to get two or three craft sets so each child can do the same craft (everyone's happy this way!)

As stated above, we received the Spring Solo Deluxe Edition box to review. Included were all the supplies and instructions that we would need to complete the following 20 crafts:

Seeds in a Garden ... Caterpillar ... Ladybug ... "C" is for Clover ... Wind Sock ... All About Me Book ... Decorative Egg ... Pasta Sorting ... Snap Bracelet ... One Fish Two Fish ... Royal Crown ... Floating Butterflies ... Sailboat ... Earth Card ... Beaded Napkin Ring ... Secret Message ... Bird's Nest ... Bunny Rabbit ... I'm Feeling Happy ... Action Figure



When Kid's Busy Box say everything is included with the deluxe edition, they weren't messing around! Every single thing that we would need (even down to a ruler, scotch tape, child-sized scissors and a hole punch) was included!





Bella wanted to start off with the One Fish Two Fish craft and she had so much fun with it. The instructions were very easy to follow and she was able to do everything herself (with my supervision), including glueing the colored rice onto the paper and cutting out the paper fish.


Cole was anxious to make the Wind Sock and, again, he was able to complete the project himself (with my supervision).

Here is he is with the finished project hanging above him....

Then, today, while Bella and the little twins napped, he wanted to do some more crafts. He chose the Royal Crown and the Birds Nest.

Not only did the kids have a fun time with these crafts, but I enjoyed the time as well. Sometimes I have a tendency to feel overwhelmed and stressed when doing crafts with the kids because there are so many various supplies needed and I'm constantly running around trying to gather everything, while the kids are whining and becoming more anxious the longer they have to wait.

But with the Kid's Busy Box, everything was already thought out and all the supplies were right there (literally....all the crafts you need for each project are stapled together with an instruction card so you don't even have to go digging around in the box for everything!!) The crafts are geared towards children ages 3-7 (parental supervision is advised).

In helping the Three Bay B Chicks, Domestically Challenged and myself in promoting the We Heart Art contest/giveaway, the generous ladies of Kid's Busy Box have offered to award one lucky winner with a Spring Solo Deluxe Edition box of their very own!!!

So what do you need to do to win this box??? Well, just continue to have your kids create a lovely art project for the We Heart Art contest/giveaway and remember to submit your entry via a post on your blog showing off the art (a Mr Linky will be up tomorrow and Thursday on my blog, as well as the Three Bay B Chicks and Domestically Challenged). All winners will be chosen randomly on Friday. If you would like to see the other amazing prizes available, click HERE. If you'd like to read more details about the We Heart Art contest/giveaway, click HERE.

If you need some suggestions for art projects to create with your kids to submit to the contest, hop on over to these creative blogs, where ideas, tips, and insights are never in short supply: Tip Junkie, Today’s Creative Blog, Toddler Craft, and I Blame Mom.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lucky Number Seven

For an event like We Heart Art, how many prizes do you think are needed to entice bloggers to post about either their own creative projects or their children’s? Would one prize do the trick? No? How about three?

In blogland, bigger is better. I think that when you bring together three different blogs to promote art and being creative, the magic number is seven.

By linking your We Heart Art post to our blogs this week, you (and your kids) will be entered into the drawing for the following:

One of two topless undershirts of your choosing from Blush. This accessory is perfect for everyday wear or for pregnant Moms. If you love the look of layering without adding the extra bulk and straps, this is a product for you. Unlike a tank top or long shirt, it does not have straps which cause your undershirt to constantly ride up. It stays put without having to always re-adjust.


A pendant of your choosing from Noisy Bird Studio.









A black and red checked bag from Funky Bag Freak. This bag is large, hip, and embroidered with black and white flowers on the front and back. There are also tons of pockets inside, which allows you to hold everything.


A signed copy of the newly released children’s book, The Secret Circus. This book, written by Johanna Wright, describes a Parisian circus so secret that only the mice know how to find it. Floating by balloon across the cityscape, the mice travel to the grand performance, where tiny acrobats form mouse pyramids and giant housecats are tamed.


A darling appliqu├ęd tee-shirt or one-sie from Forever Folding Laundry, perfect for your little girl for spring!

A fairy door all your own from Wendy at Green Girl Art.


Finally, a Kid’s Busy Box just for spring. This prize pack includes 20 seasonal crafts & materials designed for young children, easy to follow instructions, and all the craft materials you’ll need, such as yarn, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, pom poms, beads, craft sticks, stickers & more!

So let’s see your posts! To qualify for the giveaway, simply link your posts describing your (or your kid’s) creative projects to the We Heart Art carnival.

Here is how it works:

• On Wednesday, May 13 and Thursday, May 14, Mr. Linky will be open on my blog, as well as on the Three Bay B Chicks and Domestically Challenged blogs.

• After you have published your entry for We Heart Art, link your specific post via Mr. Linky.

• Winners will be announced on Friday, May 15.

Want to earn additional entries, and drive more traffic to your blog?

• Link your post to all three blogs hosting Mr. Linky.

• Link to old posts that you have published.

• Follow my blog, the Three Bay B Chicks, and Domestically Challenged

Pablo Picasso once wrote that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Let’s all try to find a bit of art in our lives this week, either through ourselves, or through our kids.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

We Heart Art #2


Are you all as excited as I am about this fantastic We Heart Art contest/giveaway?! My 4 little artists are all ready to go, gearing up for more super fun art projects....but this time, they have promised me that they will leave my family room walls and my cabinets alone. Whew!!

Wait until you all see the fantastic prizes that will be given to a few lucky winners....these prizes will be announced on MONDAY so make sure you check back in here to see them! Here's a little secret that I'll let you in on now....I've gotten a sneak peek at one of the prizes that will be awarded in the kids portion of the contest and it is FABULOUS!! It's sitting on our kitchen counter and the kids and I are chomping at the bits, just waiting to dig in and get started on it. We'll show it off sometime this week as the contest continues....

In the meantime, I've received some questions from some of my readers about what is considered to be "art" for this contest? Some have asked "is the whole bedroom wall that my child colored considered art?"...."my kids have decorated their art desk...does that count?"....YES!! The whole premise of this contest is to promote art and creativity!! We want to see it all!

And we hope you'll participate as well....this contest is for adults, just as much as it is for children! I know some of you are amazing cooks in the kitchen...and some of you have beautiful gardens....show off your talents and showcase what you've got!

Need more suggestions? Hop on over to these creative blogs. Ideas, tips, and insights are never in short supply: Tip Junkie, Today’s Creative Blog, Toddler Craft, and I Blame Mom.

So what are you waiting for??!! Go get started on those fun art projects, or take pictures of the projects you've already got completed and get ready to share them with the world! There will be a Mr Linky up on my site, as well as the Three Bay B Chicks and Domestically Challenged this week. More details will follow on MONDAY....so please be sure to check back in!! Have fun!!

I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to Mommies everywhere, including Angel Baby Mommies and Future Mommies-to-Be. Whether your child is already in your arms, still waiting to find their way to your arms or being comforted in Jesus' arms....I hope this day is a special one.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

We Heart Art!

Sometimes as a busy mother of four young children, I'm in such a rush to get through the day in one piece. I rush the kids to get dressed in the morning, I rush to get them to eat breakfast, I rush them out the door to drop the big twins off at preschool....rush, rush, rush. I also tend to be a perfectionist. Unfortunately, through all this rushing and perfection, I sometimes miss out on special opportunities to see the beauty of the world as my children see it.

My children create art all the time, though sometimes I fail to see it as art. I'm talking about the beautiful chocolate pudding fingerpainting all over our kitchen sliding door.....tiny chocolate handprints everywhere. Some of the walls in our home are covered in permanent marker...smiley faces, tracings of hands and feet, and practicing writing their names. And of course there's the princess stickers all over most of my kitchen cabinets.

Sure, most people might not see that as art...I certainly didn't. But my kids did....they were creating something that their little minds had thought up. No big deal to them that it used to be my unmarked clean family room wall, or the perfect handprint-free sliding door or the clean, unmarked kitchen cabinets....they saw all these things as canvases that needed to be beautified.

And when I get look at it from their perspective, I find myself smiling. How could I yell and become angry when they run up to me with huge grins while saying, "Mommy, come see our fingerpainting"....as they drag me over to the sliding door?? My first instinct, as a perfectionist always in a hurry, is to groan and roll my eyes and start yelling "go get the Mr Eraser quick before all this dries". But for some reason, I've stopped doing that....I've come to learn that their childhood goes by quickly and I really need to appreciate their creativity and, of course, I want to encourage it. Yeah, it would've been nice if the "art" had occurred on a blank piece of paper but then that wouldn't have really been creative, right?

I have a suspicion that there are others like me out there in the world; Moms, Dads, aunts, uncles, or grandparents, who have budding little artists in their midst. Or, perhaps it is something else entirely, maybe you are the artist, creating and pursuing ideas of your own. Whatever the case may be, we want to the artwork in your life.

Together with Domestically Challenged and Three Bay B Chicks, I will be hosting a week long Art Appreciation Week called “We Heart Art.” The purpose? To promote art and being creative both with your kids and as individuals.

We Heart Art begins today and ends next Friday, May 15. During this time, all three sites will not only feature posts about how to get your creative juices flowing, but we will also be hosting a carnival (via Mr. Linky) which will allow you to feature your artwork and/or your kid’s creations.

So get your posts ready! We will have two categories for entries: one for kids, ages 0-16, and a second for adults, age 17 and older. The entries for the carnival can be anything creative. Some examples might include:

For kids: A drawing, painting, or sidewalk chalk creation, a video of themselves explaining a piece of artwork, singing, or playing a musical instrument, something they created in the kitchen, or an example of their writing, e.g., short story, poem, etc.
For adults: A drawing, painting, or a video, something you created on the computer or in the kitchen, an example of your writing, e.g., short story, poem, etc., a sample of your scrapbooking, or art that you created as a child.

Need more suggestions? Hop on over to these creative blogs. Ideas, tips, and insights are never in short supply: Tip Junkie, Today’s Creative Blog, Toddler Craft, and I Blame Mom.

Oh, and like any good carnival, we will be featuring tons of prizes, which we will reveal on Monday, May 11. Separate goodies will be awarded to both kids and adults.

We hope you will join us over the course of the coming week!

Infertility, my cross to bear (continued)....IVF #1

If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can read The Beginning...Infertility, my cross to bear and Infertility, my cross to bear (continued) to find out how it all began.

My phone consultation with Dr Sher went amazingly well. I just knew he was our answer to prayer. Even though he was based in Las Vegas, he had several clinics around the country and he suggested we do our cycle with one of his local RE's so we wouldn't have to incur the cost of traveling (our insurance covered absolutely NOTHING). So we met with Dr S at the local clinic and we felt comfortable enough with her to move forward.

For the sake of brevity, I'm leaving out a lot of the little details about all the pre-cycle testing we endured, learning how to give myself injections and my embarrassing meltdown in the nurse's office when she handed me my IVF protocol, which was basically a calendar with the color of the rainbow all over it, indicating which med to take at what time. I was on the most aggressive protocol possible, taking up to 10 different meds at one time. On some days, I would be giving myself up to 6 injections. I have to admit that as soon as we got home after receiving my cycle calendar, I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed on the floor for a good 30 minutes, wondering what I ever did in my life that was so horrible that I deserved this.

I remember the very first injection was Lupron, given with a relatively small needle in my belly. Then I started dexamethazone (an oral corticosteroid), which was a drug created by Satan himself. Not only did the dex make me all bloated and constantly craving any food that could be smothered in cheese and greasy fried chicken, but the Lupron turned me into a complete raving hormonal bitch. Tim stayed out of my way on most days, often volunteering to go on business trips just to get the hell away from me.

During all this, we had a vacation to Hawaii with some friends already planned before we had committed to the IVF cycle. Dr S assured me that it would be fine for us to still go on vacation and that I could bring all the meds with me and that my nurse was available by pager 24/7 should I have any questions or concerns. Due to airport security being extra strict since 9/11, I was worried about being able to bring all my needles and syringes with me on the plane but Dr S said, "don't worry...I'll write a letter for you". Fine....cool. Until I saw the letter, in which the first line stated "this patient is undergoing treatment for infertility"....there was that word again. Infertility. I kept imagining the airport security people reading that letter and knowing all my private business.....I kept whining to Tim, "why couldn't she have just written 'medical treatment'. She didn't have to mention infertility!!". Tim just shook his head, as I sat there whining, then shrieking, then sobbing and then ultimately just going limp as I sat next to him on our bed, completely drained of all emotion.

My first experience with an intra-muscular injection was when I had to start taking the estrogen injections. I didn't think I could do those myself, not only because I didn't think I could contort my body enough to stab myself in my own ass with a huge needle but I didn't think I'd have the guts to actually do it. So Tim got stuck with that responsibility, which I think he was secretly happy about, as he would say, "Sweetie, this is harder for me than it is for you"....yeah, just like my mom when she would smack me and say "this hurts me more than it hurts you" and I would catch a glimpse of a subtle smile on her face.

Then I started the estrogen suppositories, which I referred to as "crotch rockets" (if you've seen them, you know what I mean). Tim was always confused as to why there was a wet spot on my side of the bed every morning when I would wake up. He'd say, "sexy dream?" and I'd say "um, no....that's the result of the suppository melting....jerk".

Next we were off to Hawaii....our dream vacation....the one we kept referring to as our "last hurrah as a family of two" because we were SO gonna get knocked up on this cycle with twins. That's what I had asked God for and I felt like He pretty much owed me at this point. I started my first round of stimulant meds while in fantasy land....I'll never forget the first injection. We were scheduled to go for a boat ride around Diamond Head with our friends but we had to do my injection first. We told them to start heading downstairs to the car and we'd follow in a few minutes.

We were in our hotel room, mixing up our drug cocktail between the 10 vials of Follistim (yes, I did say 10 vials).....because it was such a high dose, it had to be given in 2 separate shots. Tim did the first injection....in my belly.....and it burned like an SOB. It literally took my breath away....he thought he did something wrong, as I stood there with tears welling up in my eyes, flapping my arms around as if I was about to take off in flight. He asked, "are you okay?" and I started to cry....oh man, how I started to cry....he gave me my second injection, which burned just as badly and then started to bleed as he pulled the needle out. I cried the whole way to the elevator and into the parking garage until we saw our friends...then I wiped away my tears, smiled and said, "so who's ready to party?". God seriously owed me BIG time. By now, I was demanding triplets...

After arriving back to reality from vacation, I went in for my ultrasound and I was pleased to learn that the stims were doing their job. My uterine lining looked beautiful and I had 8 little follicles brewing. Dr S burst my bubble as she said, "remember, it's not quantity that's important....having 8 follicles means absolutely nothing if they're not good quality". She smiled apologetically....I cried.

Oh and I started acupuncture right about this time. As if I didn't already have enough needles being shoved into my skin, I had to go do acupuncture because I had read plenty of information showing that showed many IVF patients having successful IVF cycles after undergoing acupuncture treatments. I figure I was already going for broke....what's a few more needles gonna do? The acupuncturist diagnosed me with "spleen Xi deficiency" and gave me a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid. One of the foods to avoid was ice cream. He smiled apologetically....I cried.

I was also doing heparin injections twice a day because, as if high FSH wasn't enough, I was also diagnosed with antiphosphilipid antibodies (APA), which is a blood clotting disorder. It is believed to have the potential to cause tiny blood clots which could interrupt the blood flow to the placenta during a pregnancy, resulting in miscarriage, or interfere with the body's ability to allow an embryo to implant, resulting in repeat failed cycles. The heparin injections left horrible bruising all over my belly. At certain points, I had to start giving myself injections in my upper thigh when my belly was too bruised for shots there.

Oh, wait....the fun doesn't stop there. Along with the high FSH and the positive APA's, there was more....behind door #3, we had a significantly elevated level of natural killer cells, which for the price of $4,000 per IVIg infusion, I could be rid of those nasty cells and on my way to achieving my dream of motherhood.

Natural killer cells....sounds wierd, right? Who ever heard of such a thing? I certainly never had until I talked to Dr Sher, who is a firm believer that certain immunological disorders can contribute significantly to infertility. Probably the simplest way of explaining what these cells are is this: every one of us has these cells. They are actually very important in fighting off infections and certain life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. However, sometimes, in pregnant women, these cells can go into overdrive, in which the embryo is seen as a foreign invader and is destroyed by the cells...the end result is a miscarriage.

So wouldn't you know....if anyone was going to test positive for elevated NK cells, it would be me. Fortunately, there was a treatment available....a very expensive treatment, called IVIg (intravenous immunoglobulin), which is made out of human antibodies derived from donor blood. The drug is given intravenously and it's purpose to suppress the immune system enough to where an embryo will be able to implant without the NK cells going haywire and attacking it.

My first infusion went well and took about 3 hours to administer. The day afterwards I felt like I had been hit by a semi-truck but no worries....wasn't I once the girl who said she'd eat pig poop if it was proven to be helpful in getting me pregnant? I think at one point I had also mentioned I'd let my acupuncturist stick needles in my nipples if I thought that might help, too.

I would continue to go into the clinic to have ultrasounds and bloodwork every other day to see how everything was coming along. What I did not expect was to have to continue the stim injections for 14 days. TWO WEEKS. Most women are on them for maybe 5-7 days, give or take a day. By day 14, I was beginning to lose my grip on reality. My belly was so sore from all the injections....my ovaries hurt....I was so bloated that I couldn't fit into any of my pants....and if Tim thought I was bitchy before all this, he hadn't seen anything compared to what I had become by day 14 on stims. That night, he made a smart-ass remark to me about something and I got up suddenly and started rummaging through my "drug box" and he asked, "What are you doing?" and I said, "I'm getting a 22-gauge needle to stab you in the eyes with". He quickly walked out of the room...a very wise decision on his part.

Finally, we got the thumbs-up to do our HCG trigger shot. This was an intra-muscular injection given to me at a very specific time in the upper arm muscle, which was supposed to make the follicles release their eggs within 36 hours time. The nurse told me that Tim needed to give me the shot at 12:45 am, on the dot. I forced myself to stay awake, out of fear that I'd fall asleep and miss our "deadline". And, of course, there is no part of this story without drama because it is my story, after all. Tim and I got into a huge argument about the amount of HCG in the syringe....I panicked because there was a tiny bit left in the bottle after he had already given me the injection. He kept insisting it was fine. I kept insisting it was NOT fine. I paged our nurse....who called me back almost immediately and said, "Do not worry....it's fine....now let me go back to sleep, you irrational, uncontrollable, pitiful drama queen". Okay, so she didn't say that last part but I was imagining that she was thinking it so in my mind it's as if she said it outloud.

Once I hung up with her, Tim said, "I hope I did the shot in the right place" and I asked, "What do you mean? You were supposed to do it in my upper arm and that's where we did it". He shrugged and said, "It's just that I felt like I was pushing the needle into bone, rather than muscle". Oh good God....I just wanted to go to sleep at that point and dream that none of this was even happening.

Egg Retrieval Day = All I remember is being wheeled into the OR and as the anesthesiologist asks me to count backwards from 10, I said, "I feel totally drunk....the lights on the ceiling are SO cool".

After, Dr S called us on my cell phone as we were driving home. She said, "I have some good news and some bad news....which do you want first?". My heart sank....and I told her to just break it down for me. She explained that she was able to retrieve 9 eggs and of those eggs, 5 were mature and 3 were intermediate (that was the good news). The bad news was that all the eggs were described by the embryologist as "dark and grainy". "What does that mean?", I asked her. She said, "It means they're not very good quality and I'm not sure they'll be workable at this point but sometimes we're surprised so don't write the cycle off just yet". The embryologist would do ICSI (where they inject the strongest sperm directly into the egg) on those 8 embryos and hope for the best. And then, with that, she said she'd call me back in 2 days with a fertilization report.

Two long, anxious days later, she called and said that 4 eggs had fertilized normally. Now we just had to hope that they continued to grow. We wouldn't know exactly how they were doing until a few minutes before the egg transfer the next day. I thought God was trying to teach me a lesson in patience....I vascillated between extreme anger and a oddly calm sensation of peace.

Egg Transfer Day: Dr S gave us a picture of our 4 beautiful surviving embryos and she recommended we transfer them all. Two of them were "excellent" quality and the other two were not so excellent but she said they had a better chance of surviving inside me than in the lab. She gave us a 40% chance for a singleton pregnancy and a 35% chance for a twin pregnancy. I quickly envisioned myself 8 months later with wild unkept hair, bags under my eyes, pouring heavily caffeinated coffee down my throat every hour and perfecting my football hold as I nursed twins....and it made me smile. Bring it on...

8 days past tranfer = I went into the clinic to have my beta HCG levels checked. To say I was a nervous wreck is seriously downplaying it. I had to go back in 2 days later for another beta and then I would learn the results....was I pregnant or not? Now I suppose I could've just peed on a home pregnant test stick and found out for myself but I felt like that would be cheating, somehow.

10 days past transfer = I had a nervous breakdown in the "blood chair". The nurse had to bring me a freakin brown bag to breathe into. I just knew God was up there having the time of His life watching all this go down. I asked her who I needed to bribe to get my results as soon as possible...she assured me they would call me within a couple hours.

As promised, our home phone rang within 2 hours and we heard the nurse and Dr S say together, "Congratulations.....you're pregnant!" I started crying, of course....I think Tim even cried. I honestly couldn't believe it....the whole cycle had been one huge, scary roller coaster ride and now we were finally at the end of it. Or, should I say, the end of that chapter and onto the beginning of another....

Finally, two weeks later, it was the day of our first pregnancy ultrasound. As we waited in the waiting room to be called back, I honestly thought I'd puke right there all over the floor from the amount of anxiety I was feeling. I was a nervous wreck, to say the least.

Dr S came in and started the ultrasound. She was able to spot the gestational sac right away and she said, "Looks like there is just ONE baby". While I was thrilled, there was also a little part of me that was somewhat disappointed that it wasn't twins. After all, that was the deal I had made with God ahead of time. Then she was quiet for a few minutes as she tried to locate the heartbeat....my heart dropped as she asked the nurse, "Tell me again what day the transfer was....how far along exactly are we?". The nurse said, "6 weeks, 6 days"....Dr S said, "we should be able to see the heartbeat by this point but the baby is only measuring 6 weeks, 1 day so we'll have to wait maybe another 10 days and have you come back and see how much growth there's been...and of course to ensure there is a heartbeat".

I wasn't satisfied with that though....I asked her, "What exactly does this mean?" and she said, "Well, either 1 of 2 things are happening....either the embryo implanted later than we thought which would explain why the baby is measuring a few days behind, which by the way, sometimes happens because there is room for error by a day or two OR the baby has stopped growing and the pregnancy isn't viable". I was stunned....and Tim and I drove home in complete silence.

I spent the next 10 days trying my best to convince myself that everything would be fine. I even began to joke about the situation, by telling a co-worker, "this baby is SO slow that I'm having to repeat my 6th week of pregnancy again because of it". During the day, I threw myself into my work and did my best to focus on everything BUT the pregnancy. At night, however, I was left with nothing but my thoughts and my worries. I laid awake at night, wondering what the outcome would be. Tim refused to talk to me about it anymore because I was driving him crazy. I just felt so alone...so isolated....like no one in the world could possibly understand how I was feeling. While I thought the 10 days waiting to find out if I was pregnant was extremely difficult, the wait for the 2nd ultrasound was downright gut-wrenching.

Then the day finally came....September 12, 2003....where we would learn the fate of our little bean. Part of me honestly didn't want to know....I just wanted to believe that everything was fine. I wanted to live in the little fantasy land I had created for myself for just a little while longer. But that wasn't exactly how God had it planned. Almost immediately, Dr S could tell the pregnancy had ended. The baby had grown since my last ultrasound but not enough to be significant and there was no heartbeat.

I felt as though I had been punched in the gut and even that isn't a good enough description of what I was feeling right then. I couldn't believe this was really happening. After everything we had been through with this cycle, not just physically but also emotionally and financially, it just seemed like God's idea of a cruel joke. I sat on the end of the exam table in a daze as Dr S explained the process of what would happen next....either a natural miscarriage or a D&C. I was afraid to open my mouth....Tim told her we'd get back to her and let her know what we wanted to do.

As we drove home, Tim asked me what I was thinking and I couldn't answer. I sat there in silence, looking out the window and into the heavens, cursing God for this outcome. Once home, it was as if I was on auto-pilot. I just went about everything so mechanically, void of emotion. Tim asked if I wanted to call our friends and family and let them know what had happened but I told him I couldn't bear to do that, so I left the job to him. It ripped my heart out listening to him making phone call after phone call so I retreated upstairs to our bedroom, where I laid on our bed, praying that any minute I would wake up and realize that all this had just been a bad dream.

Unfortunately, it was really happening. I waited a week to see if my body would naturally expel the pregnancy and when it didn't, I called my ob/gyn who recommended using Cytotec to force my body into labor. If you are ever offered Cytotec, I highly recommend you refuse it (key words here being "forced" and "labor"). I'll give more detailed reasons in my upcoming post about miscarriage #3.

The miscarriage itself was horrendous. It's one thing when you know someone close to you who has experienced a pregnancy loss...you can empathize with her, you can let her cry on your shoulder, you can hug her until she has no more tears left to cry. But when it's YOU going through it...well, there simply are no words to explain it. I have never cried so much in my life. Not only from the physical pain but also from the emotional pain...there was just no more hope left. All I felt was despair and grief...there was no light at the end of the tunnel anymore. I was angry at every other woman who was pregnant...I was angry that for all I had been through, I still had nothing to show for it but a broken heart....I was angry with God.

I stayed angry and grief-stricken for quite awhile...much longer than I anticipated. It took me a good few months to get past it all and even when I did think I was past it...just when I thought I was beginning to move forward, something would happen and I would find myself back at square one again with the grief, with tears that never seemed to stop and a stabbing pain in my heart that literally took my breath away at times.

Finally, I had to dig deep within and remind myself that the only way I was going to achieve that dream of motherhood was to pick myself back up again, dust myself off and start over.....it was hard. I won't lie. It was painfully hard. But, somehow, I found the strength I needed to start to make plans for IVF #2, only this time we were going straight to Dr Sher himself in Vegas.

If we wanted the odds on our side this next time, it HAD to be Vegas....

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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