Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weeping Willow

Note: I wrote this when I was 16 years old and revised it at 23. I am not sure what exactly moved me to write it, but at that time I dabbled a bit in writing poetry about relationships and my life. I've always thought weeping willows were beautiful creatures of nature. This poem has been my favorite and relates to where I am at in life right now.

Weeping Willow
2/2/2002, Revised 11/6/2008

Weeping Willow
Hear me cry
Feel my desperation

Fading green
Drooping like heavy eyelids
Thrashing in the wind of the world

Weeping Willow
Hear the yearning of the meek
Feel the need for metallic bravery

God’s creation
Dancing sweetly

Weeping Willow
Hear the beat of my music
Feel the thunder of my storm

And grace

Weeping Willow
What do you hear
What do you feel

Weeping Willow
Listen to my pleading
Feel what my heart feels

Weeping Willow
Hear me cry
Feel my desperation

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Baby Bookmark and a Black Dress

Us. Aren't we cute?

A couple of years ago, Colin and I were in Borders bookstore in Eau Claire. I can't remember what books we went there for, but I can remember the item not on our list we ended up purchasing.

We were in line to check out and I was taking my time looking at all the goodies while we waited. I was checking out the bookmarks and one in particular just got my heart a-fluttering.

It was a pink ribbon bookmark with a pearl and beading on one end, and a gold baby carriage charm on the other. Had me at hello.

I can not find a picture of it anywhere online, so my description will have to do.

Colin bought it for me without me asking or telling him I wanted it. This simple gesture is why I fell in love with him in the first place and why I continue to fall in love with him all over again.

This bookmark represented hope to me. Somehow, he knew.

P.S. Oh, and the black dress I'm wearing above? He picked it out for me at Express. Although he doesn't particularly love being dragged around an entire shopping mall, he knows my few favorite stores, and deals with enjoys occasionally picking out a few things for me. I love the man.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Natural Remedies to Boost Fertility #2: Lifestyles of the Naturally Fertile

This is a continuation of a multiple-post-series based strictly on my personal research, especially through the book Making Babies. See here for #1: The Basics and here for #3: Destressing.

Lifestyles of the Naturally Fertile
  • Stay in your healthy weight range. If overweight, sometimes just losing 10% can boost fertility. See calculator.
  • Exercise 30+ minutes most days of the week, but stay away from your peak exercise level.
    • Phase 1 (menstruation): avoid strenuous exercise; try yoga, tai chi, or quigong
    • Phase 2 (pre-ovulation): spend 20-30 minutes/day on aerobic exercise
    • Phase 3 (ovulation): exercise gently; try swimming, walking, yoga, or qi gong
    • Phase 4 (potential implantation): moderate exercise; try walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, or qigong
  • Have a healthy night's sleep- aim for 8 hours.
  • Avoid toxins (in pesticides, lead, mercury, chlorine, cadmium, cigarette smoke, etc.).
  • Do not smoke.
  • Limit caffeine to 90 mg maximum (1C coffee, 2C black tea, 3C green tea).
    • Caffeine can decrease the flow of blood to the uterus, which can interfere with implantation.
    • It can increase the risk of clotting and miscarriage.
    • It can increase stress and anxiety levels.
    • It is acidic and can make the body and cervical mucus acidic.
  • Avoid alcohol--limit completely or stick to one glass of wine or beer.
  • Be mindful of the effects of medication you are on.
  • Don't use recreational drugs.
  • Other: Avoid hot baths, scented tampons, and douches.
Coming soon: Destressing. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Natural Remedies to Boost Fertility #1: The Basics

Note: I am not a doctor nor an herbalist, etc. These tips are those I discovered primarily by reading books on infertility (especially Making Babies by Sami S. David, MD and Jill Blakeway, LAc) and doing research elsewhere. Each person is unique and should combat infertility in a way that works best for them. The book Making Babies gives a plan that is meant to be a natural 'start' to approaching optimal health and restoring fertility. The plan can be used alongside ARTs (assistive reproductive technologies) or in place of them, depending on you personal journey.

See here for #2: Lifestyles of the Naturally Fertile and here for #3: Destressing.

Let's get started on the basics!

5 quick background tips that will increase your chance of conception:

1) Use foreplay- It will help relax and increase enjoyment for both parties. Sometimes we get too caught up in trying to make a baby that we forget to love on our partner in the process. Go ahead, make out with your husband like you did when you first started dating.

2) Missionary position is best- It will provide the sperm with the most direct route to and through the cervix.

3) Stay put 10-20 minutes after baby dancing- Relax and think happy baby thoughts.

4) If you use a lubricant, only use Pre-Seed- No water or saliva should be used, as they kill off the sperm.

5) Baby dance frequently- Make it a goal for every 1-2 days, especially around potential ovulation. If your husband has a low sperm count, 2-3 days is recommended.

Pop Quiz: When is conception most likely to occur in regards to when ovulation occurs?

Answer: Conception is most likely to occur when intercourse happens in the 3 days (up to 6) leading up to ovulation. Baby dancing on the day ovulation is about to occur is ideal.

How to know when you are most fertile:

1) Cervical mucus
          *Early days: mucus will be dry or slightly moist
                               CD 7-9 might be thick, sticky, and white or yellowish
                               for a few day it will then be wet, opaque, and creamy
          *Fertile days: thinner and transparent, stretchy like egg whites
                               clear and watery
                               lasts 3 days on average--peak fertility is the last day
          *After ovulation: thick and cloudy
                               sometimes wet and watery just before your period
          **Culprits that might throw off your mucus: diuretics, antihistamines, decongestants, and high-                               dose Vitamin C
2) Cervical position
          *Before and after your period: cervix will be low, hard, and closed
          *Most likely to conceive: soft, high, open, and wet

3) Basal body temperature
          *Start on CD 1. Take first thing every morning, after at least 5 hours of sleep.
          *Your temperature should be lower before you ovulate (97-97.5 degrees).
          *Your temperature should be higher afterwards (97.6-98.6 degrees).
          *Some women get a temp drop when LH surges just before ovulation.
          *Your chart indicates ovulation when there is a jump of .4 degrees or more.
          *Stress, waking up early or later than usual, etc. can bring about flukes in temperature.
          **Free printable charts:
          **Free online charting:

4) Ovulation predictor kits
          *The test will show a baseline and urine will bring about the LH test line.
          *When the test detects a rise in LH (test line darker than the base line), you are likely to ovulate within the next 24-48 hours.
          *Baby dance every day-every other day when you see the faintest indication of LH
          *Some women have false LH surges before the real thing (common with PCOS)

Coming soon: Lifestyles of the naturally fertile. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 15, 2011

TTC Timeline

Background: I have always had irregular cycles. More often than not, my periods had seemed to last forever, and they were usually quite heavy. I had never been on birth control. I had always had a strong feeling I may not be able to get pregnant.

January 2007: We got married at 21 and 'foolishly' experimented with 'not not trying'. We weren't yearning to get pregnant, in fact we knew we weren't ready financially or perhaps, emotionally. But, we refused contraception for a variety of reasons. Turns out, the foolishness of it all was thrown out the window.

End of 2007: We started to get our hopes up that it would happen soon and began to wonder why it hadn't happened yet.

Summer of 2009: We visited a family doctor who proceeded to talk us out of pursuing treatments/further help. She explained that we were young and healthy and that we had to give these things time.

June 2010: We visited a different family doctor, as we had moved. I had my first pap. All clear. Colin and I had baseline infertility tests. Colin's came back normal. Mine came back indicating high levels of testosterone and low levels of estrogen. The doctor suggested I do a cycle's worth of ovulation kits to see if I was ovulating.

July 2010: I wasn't ovulating. The doctor referred me to a women's clinic doctor who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. He suggested a round of clomid. I tried it. It was horrible for me- made me bleed for 6 weeks. There was no ultrasound done until after the clomid. It showed a cyst on my right ovary, and perhaps a smaller one on my left. We don't know if it was the clomid that caused them or if they were previously there. I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do to get rid of them, and he basically said no, don't do any gymnastics, and I could come back next cycle for another ultrasound to see what was happening with the cysts.

September 2010: I did NOT go back to the male doc. He was not helpful with the emotions I was experiencing, and well, was not helpful at all. I was fed up with my excessive bleeding and saw the previous female doc to get prescribed birth control pills for the first time. I did 3 cycles.

October-December 2010: Birth control pills. They totally worked to get me back on track, and I had never felt better about my cycles. I loved the predictability.

January-July 2011: Off birth control. My cycles have wavered between 22 and 47 days. But, no excessive/lengthy bleeding. Trying naturally. No plan followed. No timing things out. One round of ovulation kits was used that indicated a likely ovulation last cycle.

Currently: I am on CD 24. I am reading Making Babies and will follow its plan as soon as CD 1 hits me. Perhaps for 3-6 months. One day at a time.

Future: Colin and I have discussed seeing an RE for further answers and perhaps treatments. Our insurance will not cover anything, and we are not sure what we are even willing to do as far as medical intervention goes--financially, emotionally, and spiritually. We are anticipating a visit soon, but are waiting until we know what we are willing to try, and are secure financially to give it our all. We have also discussed adoption, even before TTC. We feel God has laid it on my heart to adopt from Ethiopia, and Colin's heart, China. We have not yet started any processes and likely won't for a few years. We are only 26 and don't anticipate adopting until we own a house.

Lots of prayer and lots of love have kept us afloat during these 4 1/2 years of our marriage. Although some days are more difficult than others, I think our bond has grown stronger over this time. Patience and trust have been tested and learned. The future is in God's hands and we can't wait to give Him glory through the family He has planned for us. Hope is floating.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

French Onion Soup

I fell in love with french onion soup the moment I ordered some from Panera Bread years ago. Now, let me tell you, I used to HATE onions. Like, despise them. These days, on a trip to Panera, this is THE soup I order. EVERY time. Here is a simple version that will please your palate. Enjoy.

8 C sliced onions
1/3 C butter
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 C white wine
4 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 qts beef broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
French bread + cheese

Cook onions in butter until caramelized or lightly brown, along with bay leaves and thyme (about 25 minutes).

Add the garlic. Cook 2 more minutes.

Add the white wine. Heat to boiling and cook until wine is evaporated and onions are dry.

Sprinkle with flour and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add beef broth. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slice french bread. Toast in oven.

Ladle soup into remekins/bowls. Top with a slice of toasted french bread and top with cheese. Broil until bubbly and slightly brown.


More Like Falling In Love

Last Sunday, Colin and I decided to try out a new church called Pathways. It is a medium-sized church about 45 miles away from where we live, but we have been having difficulty finding a church in our small town of 6,000 people. I'm not sure if we are picky (okay, I know that we are), but we need for a church to have contemporary music--old hymns thrown in the mix are great, too--and a pastor that is able to deliver an interesting, thought-provoking message that strengthens our relationship with Jesus. A church that hosts a plethora of small groups/bible studies is another big plus.

I randomly found this church through an internet search. The first Sunday we showed up, would you believe it--Christian artist Jason Gray (More Like Falling in Love and I Am New)--was a guest! It almost weirded me out how casual it all seemed. He sang about 6-8 songs on stage, just him and his guitar. No screaming fans, just pure worship to the words of his music. Free. We were in the second row. He sat in the pews, taking in the church service between performing. It was great.

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

Good times. I have had about a week off so far and will have orientation one week from today. So, I am getting much needed rest. My sleep schedule is finally back on track with the rest of the world's-sleeping when it is dark out, not going to bed just after the sun begins to rise. I am pretty sure, God willing, I will never work third shift again.

Colin and I went on a hiking trip to a state park near where we live two days ago. We bought a yearly pass and are hoping to visit this one and others often on our mutual day's off. Note to self: buy and wear PLENTY of bug spray next time!

Being in nature is so relaxing to me. It brings me back to the purpose of my existance and the simplicity that I believe we were made to live in. I love breathing fresh air and taking in the scenery. I grew up in the country, and country girl at heart, I will forever be.

I look back fondly on the walks with my mother I used to have. We used to walk through the woods on my family's 500 acre property. Overlooking the valley of the town I grew up in. Searching for fascinating leaves, new bugs, acorns, and animal footprints. I love these memories. These sweet blessings God had given us to explore.

New life blooms and old life fades. Caught in the web of God's amazing grace.

I am not who I was, I'm being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved
I am new
    Forgiven, beloved, Hidden in Christ
    Made in the image of the Giver of Life
    Righteous and holy, reborn and remade
    Accepted and worthy, this is our new name
    This is who we are now

Picure, lyrics, and more information are located on this site:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Colin's Tattoo

Colin got a late 26th birthday present: a new tattoo. He has been planning this ever since he became a police officer last year. All of our ideas came together into this creation. A cross, a police badge in the center, and the words Protect And Serve (police motto) in a blue ribbon. Blue is a color that represents ethics and integrity among police officers. It is on his upper back. I think it is just wonderful.