Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Thank you for reading, for commenting and for your interest in my story!  I hope you have a happy holiday. . . or if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a relaxing day off.  :-)

P.S.  Happy 600th post to me!

Friday, December 21, 2012

PAIL December Monthly Theme Post

I am super late to the party here, but since I was the one who suggested the topic (in a roundabout way), I wanted to contribute something to the PAIL December monthly theme post.

First off, let me say that even though my sons are 11 months old and I have been back at work full time since they were 10 weeks old, I really don't have this whole working mom thing all figured out.  I struggle all the time to find balance, and I have good days and bad days . . . good weeks and bad weeks.  I spend a lot of time feeling that I'm not-quite-good-enough in at least one of my various roles.

Candidly, to the extent that I am "failing" at something, I am probably not giving the level of effort at work that I need to be.  Eventually this is going to come back and bite me, though it hasn't yet.  This state of affairs is one that cannot continue indefinitely, given my line of work, and I have been taking steps recently to remedy this situation by taking on additional work, in order to, in a sense, give myself no choice but to work more.  Not sure yet how I'm going to manage it, but I know it has to be done.

The one role I am *not* ok at doing halfway or failing at is Mama.  I will (and have) let every other role slide, at least to a certain degree, in order not to screw that one up.  This may be to my detriment (see above about not working hard enough), but my sons are the only people in this situation who had no choice or voice in being placed in this situation and no way to change it.  They are the innocents and more precious to me than anyone else and must therefore ALWAYS be my top priority.

I do believe in owning my choices (as Missy writes about so eloquently in this post), so I would not say that I "have to" work full time.  The fact is, I choose to do so, and I have made that choice for a number of reasons.  Some of those reasons include a desire for intellectual stimulation, adult interaction and fulfillment.  But if I am being honest, the primary reason I returned to full-time employment in my current job after the birth of my sons was my desire to afford my sons a middle-to-upper-middle-class lifestyle, roughly the same lifestyle we had pre-children.  (A lifestyle which, I might add, it has taken me years to attain.)

All things being equal, if I did not need the money I earn in my current position, I would love to continue being a lawyer, but in a more fulfilling role (like for a non-profit) and on a part-time basis.  Alas, changing jobs and/or cutting back on my hours would not allow us to maintain our current (pretty modest) lifestyle, so it is currently out of the question.  Maybe once our sons are in school and I no longer have to pay their nanny an amount equal to what I earned my first year as a nurse, I can consider it.

My thoughts about whether or not I would want to be a stay-at-home mom have changed over time.  When I was in my early 20s and in college, and having children seemed like something far in the future (little did I realize then *how* far, LOL), I figured I'd marry a man who would make enough money to support us both in a comfortable lifestyle, and I would be a SAHM. I am not quite sure how I reconciled this idea with my career plan at the time which, up until age 22, was to become a doctor.  (To say I was a bit naive at that age would be putting it mildly.)  

A little later, when I was out in the working world and a nurse, I still hoped to marry a man who would make enough money to support us both in a comfortable lifestyle but, realizing this might not happen, entertained the idea of perhaps working part-time.

It wasn't until after I went to law school and became an attorney that I ever really considered continuing to work full-time outside the home after becoming a mother.  After a few years of working in this field, not only had I become more dependent upon my income--between student loans and a mortgage, (later) money for fertility treatment, and a more comfortable lifestyle than I had enjoyed as a nurse--I had also found a job I enjoyed and one which I felt it would be hard to step away from for a few years and pick up later.

My husband MM also works outside the home.  I think he would agree that his job is less demanding than mine, both in its expectations and duties and in the number of hours worked.  He has also been with the same employer for the past fifteen years and never thinks of doing anything else (except perhaps taking a different position within his department) whereas, during the same time frame, I have had several different employers over two different career fields and spent three years of that time attending law school.  To say our approaches to career are different would be a gross understatement.

MM's job has a flexibility that mine (mostly) lacks, and he has been with his employer long enough, and done a good enough job, that he enjoys good benefits and is "set" until retirement, which he could conceivably take in just a little over five years and will definitely take in no more than ten years.  He has no idea what he would do once he leaves his current job--it being the only professional job he has ever had--and doesn't even spend time thinking about it these days.

As I write this, I am mindful that some who are reading this today and in the future might be pregnant or new moms who intend to return to full-time work, so in the interest of helping those women with the advice I didn't find, I want to offer the following.  To the extent that I *have* found some balance, here are a few things that have helped me:
  • First, realize that you are NOT alone.  In talking to my friends who are working moms with children of various ages, I have yet to find one who feels that she has truly achieved a balance between work and motherhood.  I have therefore come to believe that this balance is mostly a myth, or perhaps something for which we may strive on a regular basis but rarely attain.
  • The #1 thing that has made my current life manageable is having a husband who takes on his fair share of the work.  I cannot stress this enough: I could.not.do.this without MM's taking on half the load.  (He says I do more than him, and he may be right, but if so, it's not by much.)  He took a 12-week FMLA leave when I returned to work.  He works from home one day a week while watching the boys and cares for our sons every morning after I leave for work to minimize our childcare costs.  He gets up with them at night as needed every other night (now that they're older; I did all that for the first 8 months).  He also does their laundry, washes their bottles, plays with them, helps with baths, changes diapers.  The only things he won't do: put on pajamas and cut finger/toenails.
  • Get help!  We have a nanny 32 hours a week, and a housekeeper comes once a month for the heavy cleaning and dusting (wish it could be every two weeks, but $$ is a factor).  My in-laws watch the boys about one Sunday a month so we can go out together, and we now get a babysitter for one date night a month.  I use meal preparation services, landscaping services, you name it.  I don't even TRY to "do it all."
  • Accept that, at least while your children are small, you aren't going to have a spotless house, or get to see your friends as often, or read as many books, or see as many movies as you used to.  Continuing to try to live the life you had pre-children usually isn't feasible for most new parents, at least for the first year or so.  I've found that friends and family accept this and will cut you a lot of slack.
  • I know how hard it is, and this is something I still struggle with. . . but. . . take time for yourself.  You'll be surprised how refreshed you'll feel after a long lunch with a friend you haven't seen for a while, or after a pedicure or massage, or just spending an hour by yourself going for a walk or a shopping trip (even a trip to Target alone can feel like a luxury these days).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Eleven months

It is hard to believe that my sons were eleven months old yesterday.  We are now less than thirty days from celebrating their first birthday.  Crazy, crazy.

I remember well how I felt this time last year. . . huge.  Uncomfortable.  Tired.  Sad that I couldn't eat any Christmas goodies.  (LOL)  Ready to be done being pregnant, frankly.

Now AJ and MJ are here, and they are wonderful.  They are babbling, squealing, crawling, climbing, walking (yes, both have already taken their first steps, before 11 months!), laughing, wrestling little people.  We marvel daily at how fortunate we are to get to be parents to two happy, healthy little boys like them.

I have not felt very Christmas-y of late--like pretty much everyone else I know, I've felt quite down about the school shooting in Connecticut, and on the heels of that news, I learned Monday that a dear old friend died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving behind two children--but coming home to my boys smiling faces every evening makes every day better.  They are thus far blissfully unaware of the evil and sadness in the world, and I pray they can stay that way for a long time to come.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Memorable Moment Monday

Boys' first visit with Santa (& Mrs Claus), MJ with Santa, AJ with Mrs Claus

I've omitted the photo of the scene once MJ got a full-on look at Santa.  Hee hee.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Eleven-day summary

Just realized this morning that I haven't posted in eleven days.  Hmm.  I must really be out of ideas after posting every day in November!

I only have time for a quick, bullet-point recap of the past eleven days. . . here goes.

  • We met CeCe and her son C at the aquarium last Saturday.  It was so fun!  I love meeting my blog friends in real life.
  • In a moment of misguided holiday and community spirit, I signed up for a cookie exchange at work.  Which meant I had to bake six dozen cookies--only homemade allowed--last weekend in preparation for Monday's exchange.  I made these cookies, and I must say, they turned out very well!  (Even MM thought they were yummy.)  But they took me much, much longer to make than I thought they would.  Ah well.  Live and learn.
  • AJ and MJ are both "walking" all over the place pushing their push toys, and yesterday MJ took his first couple of unassisted/unsupported steps!  Not-quite-11-months-old seems awfully early for walking to me--especially considering the fact that he was a 34-weeker--and I have mixed feelings about it.   ;-)
  • AJ has had a nasty respiratory infection of some kind this whole week, which resulted in his first-ever fever and one night of my having to hold him upright on my chest from 11 to 6 so that he could sleep, poor lamb.  He is still not 100% back to normal but seems to be improving now; he coughed some last night but didn't wake himself up with the coughing.
  • MJ has had a runny nose the past two days, so it appears he has (predictably) caught whatever his brother has, though he has yet to develop the cough or fever, thank goodness.
  • Health permitting, we are slated to attend my MOMs group's holiday party tomorrow.  If we end up going, the boys will be meeting Santa at the party.  I really hope they are well enough to go, as the thought of taking the boys to the mall the following weekend to meet Santa--can't possibly miss the photo opp of their first time on Santa's lap--is not at all appealing on many levels.
  • I got my Christmas cards--all 65 of them--out by last Saturday.  And I've still managed to get cards from two people I didn't send to.  (How does that always happen?)  I love getting, and sending, Christmas cards, and unlike most people, I actually like reading the holiday letters a lot of people include with their cards.
  • We decided not to put up a tree this year, given that AJ and MJ are too young to understand the holiday and too young and mobile to leave the tree alone.  (Lest you feel sorry for them for missing out on this part of Christmas, rest assured, my MIL has a tree up at her house, and they will get to see it when they spend Christmas day there.)
  • I am well on my way to having my Christmas shopping finished, thanks mostly to the internet.  I just need to wrap gifts for the boys and MM and mail my sister and BIL's gifts to them (my nephew's was shipped direct, already gift-wrapped).
  • Work is status quo.  Two associate attorneys quit, and I inherited several of their cases.  I've somehow, without even really trying, managed to dispose of three cases this week, two by settlement and one by a favorable judge's ruling on a dispositive motion.  Clients are happy, but it leaves me looking for more cases to shore up my workload again.  (No real incentive for being inefficient in my job, sadly.)
  • G-d willing, I will get to see my BFF on Sunday afternoon for the first time in about two months!  Nominally, we live in the same city, but it's a 45-minute drive from my house to hers.  Between her illnesses and our (many) recent weekend commitments, we just haven't been able to get together for a while, and I've missed seeing her.
  • My mom will be here a week from Sunday, and I can hardly believe Christmas is only 11 days away!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Do Over?

  • I woke up at 3:00 a.m. with a migraine.  
  • I still can't shake the lingering cough and congestion from last week's head cold.
  • My commute took 45 minutes as opposed to the usual 30-35 minutes today (in part due to the fact that I left later than usual. . . because I slept a little later due to being up in the early morning hours with a migraine).
  • My tailbone pain, which has been present to some degree ever since I returned to work in March, is worse today than usual.
  • I have to finish entering my billable time in our computer system today, something I LOATHE doing (and thus procrastinate about every.single.month).
  • I'm having a bad hair day, too.
Can I get a do over of today?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 30 NaBloPoMo

Today's (final) NaBloMoPo prompt:  What has been the hardest part about blogging daily?

My desire to blog goes in fits and starts, depending on my mood and on what's going on in my life and in my head, so the hardest part about blogging daily is thinking of something I'd like to write about every day.  (The second hardest part: finding the TIME to blog daily, particularly on the weekends; on weekdays, I always have my lunch hour.)

I have also found it challenging at times to think of something for which I am grateful each day to post about. I feel as though I do often pause to be grateful for the many, many good things in my life, and yet, when pressed to find just one to post about, at times I have struggled.  Once I get beyond the obvious--my sons, my husband, my family, my friends, my healthy, my job--I have to really think to come up with things.

Two things I have not yet posted about being grateful for are two things that have been really important to me for as long as I can remember: books and music.  I literally cannot recall the time in my life before I learned to read--I was reading on my own before kindergarten--and I have been an avid reader my entire life.  I remember my parents getting special permission in elementary school for me to take home more than the two-books-per-week maximum our school library allowed because I could easily read both books the first day I brought them home.  I couldn't even begin to list all the books and authors I've read (and enjoyed) over the course of my life.  Having limited time (and mental energy) to read has been one of the hard things for me about my transition into parenthood.

As for music, I can remember my parents playing various kinds for us even as a small child.  My mom taught me to play the accordion when I was 6, and I later learned to play the clarinet (my main instrument), the saxophone, the oboe, the xylophone, the guitar and (most recently) the piano.  I sang in the church choir throughout my childhood.  I love many kinds of music.

When someone poses the hypothetical question of whether I would rather lose my sight or my hearing, I am never able to choose because both would be such a huge loss.  (Although I suppose if I went blind, I could learn to read in Braille eventually.)

I am grateful to have the eyesight and ability to read, even if I don't always have the time to do it as much as I'd like, and I am grateful for music and the ability to hear and enjoy it.

One last note for my "Buy Nothing New" month. . . I posted about slipping and buying a rubber ducky a few weeks ago.  I also slipped on Thanksgiving and bought some items from both Gap and Gymb.oree online.  (The sale prices were so good, they lured me in!)  Apart from those purchases, though, I actually got through the entire month without buying anything new except food, medicine, gas and the Christmas gifts I had already planned to buy, and I did cut back on lunches out during the week.  I must say that, after the first couple of weeks, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

My next challenge for myself is to buy no clothing for my sons. . . not even used.  Between my MOMs consignment sale and a few other sources of gently used (adorable!) clothing, they now have more than enough clothes to last through their third birthday, apart from shoes, socks and maybe pajamas.  It is so fun to shop for them, and really hard for me to resist when I see a bargain (like a new Janie & Jack shirt that is now 10% of its original price, for example). . . but I don't want to go to excess.  (MM would say that's already happened, LOL.)

Happy last day of November!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 29 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  Tell us about three new blogs you found this year.

What does it say about me that all my new blogs are infertility related?  Hmmm.

My favoritest(?) blog I've found recently is written by Stupid Stork (http://stupidstork.blogspot.com/).  If you want to laugh, this blog is the one for you.  Many of her posts are not, strictly speaking, infertility related, but she is infertile and childless, still in the trenches.

I also discovered Scrambled Eggs (http://scrambled-eggs.org/) through Lost and Found and Connections Abound.  I first visited Belle's blog to give input to a question she asked about whether to transfer one or two embryos during her IVF cycle, and I have continued to read.  She is currently 9 1/2 weeks pregnant after having a miscarriage earlier this year.

I started reading ANDMom (http://andmom.wordpress.com/) after visiting her blog to read a popular post about her thoughts on breastfeeding.  The post gave me comfort in the face of my own failure to nurse my twins successfully, and I have continued to follow her blog.  (Warning: she is parenting three children, so only visit if you are OK with reading a parent's blog.)

Today I am grateful for getting some new cases assigned to me this week.  I think that I may *finally* be at a point where I have sufficient work assigned to me to get my productivity up to where it's supposed to be.  (It's only taken me eight months since returning from my 12-week leave.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 28 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  Tell us about the worst trip you ever took.

Truth be told, I really cannot remember ever taking a bad trip.  Is that unusual?  I do really enjoy traveling, and I have been fortunate in that I've never had any major mishaps away from home (apart from the usual delayed/canceled flights and the like).  Even times when I've gotten sick while away from home, they've all been minor illnesses and I had family/friends along to help me out.

Today I am grateful for MM.   He has never read this blog (he thinks blogging is "weird"), so there is no chance he will see this post.

Today is our fourth wedding anniversary.  In many ways, the last four years have not been at all what I had expected, but MM has been everything I expected when I married him: my close friend, my partner in the truest sense of the word, and an excellent father.

If I were able to choose again, I would still choose him.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 27 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  If you could instantly know any language in the world, which one would it be?

I've always thought it would be really cool to know Mandarin Chinese.  But doing what I do for a living and living where I do, being fluent in Spanish would be a smarter choice.

Today I am grateful that I will be spending my work day doing the things I like most about my job: taking a deposition and meeting with a client.  When I have stretches of days spent in my office writing or reviewing documents, I sometimes long for personal interaction, and today I'll be getting lots of it.

(I'm also grateful for the Powerball.  Bought my ticket today, as the jackpot is a record $425 million.  I know the chances of winning are infinitesimal, but you can't win if you don't buy a ticket!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 26 NaBloMoPo

Today's NaBloMoPo prompt:  Do you speak more than one language?  How did you learn the additional languages?

I speak some Spanish (I understand more than I can actually speak) and a few words and phrases in Navajo.  I learned Spanish by taking four semesters of it in college (actually, it's sad that I'm not proficient, given that fact) and practicing occasionally with Spanish-speaking friends.  I learned the little bit of Navajo I know from an ex-boyfriend who grew up speaking it in the home.  At the time, it was useful to me because I was a nurse who often cared for patients with only spoke Navajo.

Today I am grateful for decongestant.  It doesn't completely take away my cold symptoms but it helps.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 25 NaBloPoMo

I'm fresh out of ideas for a post today.  Sorry about that.  Going to get out and enjoy this gorgeous weather we're having: it's been in the upper 70s/low 80s every day this weekend.

Today I am grateful for my stepfather and stepmother.  Although neither of them ever acted as an actual parent to me--my father didn't marry my stepmother until I was in college, and though my stepfather married my mother when I was 10, I never lived with them during my childhood--I do feel fortunate to have good relationships with both of them.

My stepfather passed away in March 2007.  Today would've been his 73rd birthday.  He was funny (in an inappropriate, irreverent way), loved animals and liked doing nice things for people on the sly (example: when I was in college, he would change the oil in my car and hide a $20 bill in the ashtray).  I know my mother was much happier during the almost-26 years that they were married than she was during the years she was married to my father.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 24 NaBloPoMo

Almost missed a day!  Not much to tell today. . . I once again violated my "Buy Nothing New" rule and went along with MM's desire to buy the boys two superhero shirts at Gap.    Ah well.

Today I am grateful for having a four-day weekend!  I am still trying to get over this head cold, so it's been nice having some extra time off to do so.  (Oh, forgot to mention: my trip to my father's got canceled because he is sick, too, and didn't want the boys to catch whatever he has.  So I'm at home this weekend.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 23 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  What is the hardest word for you to say?

I'm not sure if this question means a word that's hard for me to say as in hard to pronounce, or a word that is hard for me to say because I don't like using it.  Either way, I really cannot think of a word that fits either description.  As I have mentioned here before, I am pretty plain-spoken in real life.  I don't generally have a problem saying "I love you" or admitting when I am wrong.  Also, for reasons that are unclear, I have good diction and am good at pronouncing words.  So after some reflection, I really don't know of a word that would fit either description.

Today I am grateful for ibu.profen.  I came down with a head cold on Wednesday, and it's the only thing keeping my congestion-related headache at bay, not to mention all the times I've relied on it for the other headaches I get regularly, menstrual cramps and other aches and pains.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 22 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  When was the last time that you cried?  Why?

I cried a couple of weeks ago just because I was exhausted and feeling overwhelmed.  Feeling like this at times is the downside of parenthood that no one tells you about before you have your children.  Thankfully, those occasions are few and relatively far between for me.

Today I am grateful for Thanksgiving dinner.  I love turkey and stuffing!  :-)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 21 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  What is your favorite place to read?

I love, love, love to read.  Probably my favorite leisure activity.  Pre-kids, I could read almost all day and finish a novel in a weekendNowadays, I am lucky if I have the energy to read a chapter or so before bed at night.

I will read anywhere, but my favorite place to read is in a big, comfy armchair that will allow me to curl my feet under me.  (You see chairs like this strategically placed in nooks and crannies in most book stores.)  Sadly, I don't have a chair like this at home and therefore generally either read in a corner of our sectional or in bed.  A fully-stocked library with two of these chairs would definitely be a room in my dream home.

I have to say that, 21 days in to this challenge, it is getting harder for me to not only post something every day but to think of something for which I am grateful.  I mean, I am grateful for some things every day--my sons, my husband, my family, food and shelter, my job--but I don't want to duplicate during this month because I know there are SO many good things in my life for which I am grateful.  It's just kinda hard to come up with them to write a post.

Today I will say that I am grateful for my friends.  I have a number of awesome ones, some of whom have been in my life for many years.  They have supported me through so many challenges in my life: during the days when I was alone and lonely, when I was struggling with career choices; during the many months we were dealing with infertility; and during my transition into parenthood.  They have celebrated my happiness and successes with me: marrying MM, having our sons, graduations, new jobs, and many other smaller things.

I don't get to spend as much time these days with most of my friends as I did before I was a mother, but I appreciate them and their understanding.  :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 20 NaBloPoMo

First, I have a confession to make: I slipped and bought something new during my "Buy Nothing New" month.  I had been doing really well.  A couple of times I felt the "need" to buy things, but I satisfied the urge by buying secondhand.

But Saturday night after our dinner out, when I stopped in to Target to get the boys some baby food, I saw a cute rubber ducky for only $2.99.  I thought about how MJ has started really enjoying the bath but has no bath toys to play with.  (He usually plays with the bath wash and the cup I use to rinse his hair.)  So I broke down and bought the rubber ducky.

On the plus side, I did bypass all the other baby bath toys and put back the two cute $5 snapsuits I had impulsively scooped up as I walked through the baby boys' clothing section to the baby food.  So there's that.  Progress not perfection.

Our boys were 10 months old yesterday!  I can hardly believe it.  Allow me to share one of their "official" 10-month photos (taken a day early, on Sunday).


That's MJ on the left showing you two of his three (almost four teeth) and AJ on the right being held in place by a disembodied hand (which actually belongs to MM).

I see photos on other moms' blogs of their children's monthly photos where the child is sitting sedately with his/her sticker or sign indicating current age prominently displayed, and I wonder why my sons can't be that cooperative.  LOL.  Every month has been a struggle since around 5 months, I think, and it just gets harder every month as the boys get more mobile.  They don't want to sit still, and they really want to grab Mama's camera.  They try to pull the sticker off their snapsuit to either stick it in their mouths or crumple it up.

Our sons are very active and curious, and that's how they should be.  So if that's the trade-off for not being able to get nicely posed photos, I'll take it.

(BTW, MM *hates* assisting with each month's photos.  Hates it.  He asked me yesterday when I was going to stop taking them.  Um, maybe when they're a year old?  I'd like to get at least that far before I give up.)

Today's gratitude post is a bit of an odd one.  I am grateful for stain remover.  Seriously, I have never gone through as much of it as I do now taking care of the twins' clothes.  They have gotten to a stage where they want to feed themselves or help you feed them, and it creates some major messes.  I would be crying over the destruction of many cute outfits without stain remover.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 19 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  If you had to get locked in some place (book store, amusement park, etc) overnight alone, where would you choose to be locked in?

Normally my answer to this would be the Museum of American History in D.C.  If I were locked in overnight alone, I would be able to explore all the exhibits at my leisure and take the time to read all the information.  I've visited this museum several times, and I've never felt like I've been able to take it all in, between the crowds and other distractions and the limits on the time I could spend there.

Nowadays, though, you know where I'd like to be locked in more than anywhere?  A Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn store.  In addition to being able to peruse the many wanted-but-unnecessary items they sell there at my leisure, I'd be able to use one of the many bedroom displays to get a great night of completely uninterrupted sleep!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 18 NaBloPoMo

Today I am grateful for coffee.  It's funny: unlike many of my peers, I never drank coffee in college or during the years I worked in hospitals (often on the overnight shift).  When I was younger, I didn't like the way caffeine made me feel, and I didn't like the bitter taste of coffee (though I've always loved the way coffee smells, oddly enough).  If I needed a little "jolt" of energy--these were the pre-energy drink days, remember--I would quickly drink a Dr. Pepper.

As soon as I became a lawyer, though, and started spending the majority of my working hours sitting at a desk reading and writing, I got hooked.  I started slow: a few yummy caffe mochas while studying for finals in law school.  (Hey, they tasted almost like hot chocolate but allowed me to focus!)  Pretty soon I had a daily coffee habit going.  I still love caffe mochas, but I more often drink coffee with just milk/cream and spl.enda these days.

I have given up coffee a few times, especially during the years we were TTC--and I drank NO caffeinated beverages during my pregnancy--but I always end up slipping back into the habit.  Now, working full time as a lawyer and being a mother to twin infants, I wouldn't even consider quitting coffee!  I need it to get through most days.  I carefully limit my intake to no more than two cups a day, but I don't think I could give it up entirely.

Oh, and can I also say that I'm grateful for a little invention called the Keurig?  MM doesn't drink coffee, and it just doesn't make sense to brew a pot for one person. . . so the Keurig single-cup brewer is perfect for my weekend cups of coffee.

Ahhhh. . . . .

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 17 NaBloPoMo

No NaBloPoMo prompt today, so I am once again on my own for post ideas.  Think I'll take the bullet points approach:

  • I have had some level of migraine or garden variety headache every day but one this week.  What the heck?  It has been really awful and made getting through the workdays hard. . . not to mention caring for the boys in the evenings between when our nanny leaves and when MM arrives home.  And I've been popping Ad.vil, aspirin and Ex.ce.drin like candy.  I hate it!
  • I was lucky enough to get two mostly uninterrupted nights of sleep this week: one night from 9:15 p.m. to 5:45 a.m., the other from 10:30-ish to 4:45.  Yea! You just don't realize how important sleep is to your health and your mood until/unless you aren't getting enough.
  • MJ has just cut his third tooth (top left) while AJ still has no visible teeth.  That's one of the fun parts of having twins: seeing how your two children develop at different rates.  (I suppose you could have this same experience by having two children separately, but the contrast is more stark with twins.)
  • Both boys are "cruising" regularly these days, and AJ likes to climb on things.  G-d help us.  :-)
  • MM and I are leaving our sons with a babysitter tonight for the first time since they were born.  Well, let me clarify: a babysitter who is not a grandparent, close friend or our regular nanny.  G is a 17-year-old high school senior who appears to be very responsible and was referred to me by a member of my MOMs group who teaches G at her dance studio and has used her as a babysitter for her year-old twin boys.
    • We are using G to babysit because we are going out for only our second nighttime date since the boys were born.  Wish us luck!
  • Apart from our dinner out, we have nothing planned this weekend, and I'm glad.  I need to spend some time planning and packing for our road trip to my father's for Thanksgiving next week.
  • I am dreading the 6-hour-plus drive to my father's for the holiday.  I love my father, and I even like the city where he lives and normally would not mind visiting.  But I hate that drive even without children--it's all freeway and mostly through super boring, sparsely populated country--and with the boys along?  Yeah, I'm not sure how this is going to go.
    • (Oh, and also?  MM hates road trips.  Yeah.)
  • In addition to dreading the drive, I am apprehensive about staying at my dad's house.  It is small, it is not babyproofed, and the boys have never slept for more than a short nap anywhere but their own nursery.  So I'm not sure how this visit is going to go.
    • To top it off, my dad and his wife are both thin-skinned and easily offended.  Sigh.
  •  I am beginning to feel stressed about the fact that I have yet to really Christmas shop in earnest. . . even though I have over a month left.
OK, so something for which I am grateful. . . I am grateful to still have my father around to spend the holiday with.  From childhood, I've been told that he might not last much longer--he has had a number of health problems over the years--but he's 70 years old and still alive and kickin'.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 16 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  Would you buy your dream house if the price was right BUT you also were told it was inhabited by ghosts?

I guess I'm weird, but the idea that a house was inhabited by ghosts would not make it less attractive to me.  Unless the ghosts were some type of evil poltergeists with ill intent.  But if the ghosts were your usual relatively benign apparitions, seen occasionally on a staircase or reflected in a mirror, that wouldn't stop me from buying my dream house.

Today I am grateful that we own a house.  For many years between graduating high school and marrying MM (over 18, if we're counting), I was a renter and moved frequently.  It was rare for me to live in the same place for more than a year; I can only think of one place I lived during those years for longer than eighteen months.

Having grown up in the same town K-12 and lived in the same house from ages 5 to 17, I found this itinerant lifestyle unsettling, but it was part and parcel of where I was and what I was doing at that time.  Most college students move a lot, and for a few of those years, I was a nurse for a company that sent me on short-term assignments to hospitals all over the country.  These assignments were generally 3-6 months long, so I relocated frequently of necessity while in that job.

During those years, I often longed to be settled in a house of my own somewhere.  Now I am.

The dream of home ownership is not what it once was in this country, in my opinion--we, like most people in our area, are majorly "underwater" on our home mortgage and thus are in a position where we'd likely be unable to sell--but I still like the notion of having a place of my own and knowing that I won't have to pack up and move any time soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 15 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  Tell us about your favorite pet.

I have had a few much-beloved pets in my life, and it seems wrong to pick a favorite. . . almost like picking a favorite child.  (For the record, I don't have a favorite between AJ & MJ, truly.)  I have written quite a bit here about Sebastian, my golden retriever who died last summer after having a hemangiosarcoma burst in his heart.  He was a wonderful pet.

During my childhood, we also had two other dogs that I loved a lot.  The first, Angie, was a St. Bernard who came to live with us as an adult dog when I was about 5 and she was about the same age.  Angie was very tolerant: my sister and I used to ride on her back like a horse, and when she got tired of this, she would simply sit down, causing you to slide off.  She died of a stroke when I was 8 years old.

The next dog I particularly loved was Blackie.  She was a stray, a small mixed-breed of 15-20 lbs, that my sister and I convinced our father to let us take in during the time my parents were getting divorced (when I was 9 years old).  Blackie was loving and patient.  She lived a long life.  My father had to have her put to sleep due to a number of worsening chronic ailments when she was around 18-19 years old.

Lest you think I have only ever had dogs, we also had two different cats during my childhood, a goldfish and a tadpole.  (I never got to have the guinea pig I agitated for because my grandmother threatened to move back to Ireland if I got one.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 14 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  Tell us about the best meal you ever cooked.

Given my lack of domestic skills in general, and culinary skills in particular, this question is a tough one for me to answer even after thinking about it for a while.  I really don't think I have ever cooked a meal that I'd feel comfortable assigning the word "best" to.  Honestly, the best meals I've served in my home are meals that have been prepared elsewhere and brought in.  Sad but true.

I am grateful that I have a husband who doesn't much care that I don't cook much.  Given MM's (picky) eating habits, he wouldn't eat most things I would cook anyway, even if I made them.  So I guess in that way, we are well-matched.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sneak peek

I couldn't resist sharing this link to the sneak peek our photographer sent me from our recent photo session:  http://meganresch.blogspot.com/2012/11/sharon-mike-mason-alex-phoenix-family.html

I won't leave it up indefinitely but thought you might like to see a few of the photos she took of us.  I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out!

Day 13 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  What is the bravest thing you've ever done?

I believe I have mentioned here before that I was engaged to someone other than MM before MM and I met.  My ex-fiance "L" and I were co-workers and had many mutual friends.  We had been a couple for over two years, living together for seventeen months and engaged for over eight months when we broke up thirteen days before our wedding.

Yes, I broke up with my fiance less than two weeks before our wedding. . . the day after my bridal shower, as a matter of fact.  I then had to call all of my friends and family members to tell them that the wedding was off.  (Just the acceptances on our guest list made up about sixty people, most of whom were "my" guests.)  Not a fun experience or one I'd particularly like to repeat.

I have had quite a few people tell me since the break-up that they thought I was brave for calling the wedding off.  Several women have told me that they had similar doubts before walking down the aisle but went ahead anyway. . . only to end up divorced later on.

At the time, I just knew that I had reached the end of my rope with a specific issue in our relationship, and I had decided that I would rather live the rest of my life alone than be married to L and to that issue.  I did truly believe then that by ending my relationship with L, it was probable that I would never marry while I was still young enough to have children of my own, and perhaps not at all.  (I was 36 at that time, and my relationship with L had been the first serious one I'd had in over five years.)

I broke up with L anyway.

Of course, at the time, I had no way of knowing that less than six months after our break-up, I would meet MM and would end up marrying him and having children with him.  I have often thought about the fact that I came so close to marrying someone with whom I was not entirely happy, and about how I never would've met MM at all if I had gone through with my wedding to L.  I've thought about how, as awful as it was going through infertility with MM during the first few years of our marriage, how much worse that experience would have been with L as my husband instead of MM.  ('Cause let's face it: my egg quality wouldn't have been appreciably better if I'd started trying six months sooner, which is the timeframe L and I had discussed.)

I didn't think of breaking up with L as a brave thing at the time--in fact, although it was hard, I know that it was the absolute right decision for me--but in retrospect, I think it was a brave thing.  The easier thing would've been to go ahead and marry L, despite my reservations.

I am grateful that I had the guts to make the hard decision to end my relationship with L, even at the eleventh hour, because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have my current life.  I wouldn't have moved back to Phoenix, wouldn't have met MM, and wouldn't have had AJ and MJ.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 12 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  Where is your favorite place to blog?

Hmm, I can't say I really have one.  I can say one place/way I don't like blogging, and that's on my iPhone.  Apart from that, any place with a working computer is good for me.  I usually blog on my laptop at work over lunch or at home in the evenings.

I want to mention that I just love it when I leave home in the mornings this time of year and see hot air balloons floating nearby. . . always puts a smile on my face!  I have never been up in a hot air balloon, but I've long wanted to go up in one, and I will someday.

Today I am grateful for my sons' good health.  Despite being born almost six weeks early, and despite my gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, so far they seem to be developmentally on track, and they have yet to have anything more serious than a mild cold.  We are so fortunate in this regard!

I got the sweetest email from a reader of this blog over the weekend, and her baby daughter is undergoing chemotherapy for rhabdomyosarcoma diagnosed not long after she was born.  I can't imagine how hard that must be.

By the way, Baby Kinsley's parents have a Fa.ce.book page set up for her (https://www.facebook.com/KissesForKinsley/info), and I'm sure they could use your prayers and good thoughts as they go through this difficult experience.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11 NaBloPoMo

No NaBloPoMo prompt today, and I must say, I don't have any brilliant ideas for a post.  Sorry about that.

The boys' first trip to the zoo yesterday was fun.  The weather was cool but sunny, and it was fun meeting an online friend in person for the first time, and another twin mom at that.  I am thinking the trip will be the boys' first of many to the zoo.

I am grateful that I live in a large enough city that I can take our sons to places like the zoo.  I think I was seven years old before I first visited a zoo because the nearest one was hours away from where we lived.  Our boys will get to do and see things I didn't do or see until I was an adult because we live where we do.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 10 NaBloPoMo

In my daily posting this week, I realized I forgot to share a fun experience we had last weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, MM, his parents, the boys and I had a family photo session with the same fabulous photographer who did our engagement photos.  The boys did as well as can be expected, given their age and the unfamiliarity of the setting.  I am eager to see how the photos turned out!  I trust that the photographer got some good shots. . . in addition to doing lots of natural light portrait work, she also does weddings and has two small children of her own.  (I think her work is really great.  If you're interested, you can see some of it on her blog:  http://meganresch.blogspot.com.)

Today I am grateful for cooler weather.  We don't have four true seasons here in Phoenix--people joke that the seasons are "hot" and "hotter"--but this weekend's weather feels like fall and is the sort of weather I look forward to all during the long, hot summers here.  It's finally cool enough to be able to take the boys on outdoor outings--yea!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 9 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?

Another easy one for me: my job.  I have written here before about the fact that I am not content in my current job.  I would love to have a job that pays me roughly the same salary I currently earn but provides the fulfillment that is lacking from my current job and affords me more time with my sons.  I don't think such a job exists, but that's what I'd change if I could.

(How life has changed.  Usually in years past, I would've responded to this question by saying I wish I were at a healthy weight and could maintain that weight effortlessly.  Now that seems like something that would be nice but far less important.)

Although maybe what I should say is, I wish I could change how I feel about my job.  I have convinced myself that a job change is in order, but maybe there is a way to find the fulfillment I feel is currently lacking and a better work/life balance without finding a position?

Today I am grateful for having had the freedom to go back to school and pursue a second career.  I have to be honest: in spite of the fact that I'm not as happy at work these days as I could be, I enjoy my worst days at work now more than I enjoyed most days in my previous career.  Seriously.  There is something to be said for finding the right fit between one's natural talents and abilities and her career.

In addition to the fact that I'm happier in this career than I was in my previous one, the three years I was in law school were some of the best of my life.  I am grateful to have had that experience, especially after several years in the work force, and for the friends I made during that time, several of whom I still count among my friends today.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Update on our frozen embryos

You may recall a few months back that I posted here about our plan for the four frozen embryos we had in storage at St. Mungo's, given that we did not intend to use them ourselves.  We finalized our agreement to donate the embryos to the couple I wrote about in that post not too long after I wrote the post, and our (now their) embryos were overnighted from St. Mungo's to the intended mother's clinic in another part of the country.

Because of various (frustrating) delays for the intended mother, including cysts, a hysteroscopy, and one slightly subpar lining, these embryos had remained frozen until the day before Halloween, when it was finally the right time for them to be transferred.  Sadly, the first two embryos thawed did not survive with sufficient quality intact to be used, but the couple then chose to thaw the last two remaining embryos, and they survived and were transferred.

I got an email from the intended mother yesterday letting me know that she'd taken 4(!) HPTs (we can all relate, right?), and they were all positive, so she is pregnant!  She'd had a suspicion because of increasing symptoms: heartburn, nausea, dry skin, and fatigue.  (Those all sound familiar to me, though I don't recall having them pre-beta.)

Her first beta is tomorrow, and they are hoping for twins.

MM and I are so happy and excited for them.  It will be really great if our gift helps them become parents.

While at work this morning, I did have one funny fleeting thought: this woman who received our donated embryos is pregnant with my husband's child or children!  That sounds weird when I think of it that way, so I put the thought out of my mind.  LOL

Anyway, just wanted to share the good news here.  :-)

Day 8 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  If you could have any job (and instantly have the training and qualifications to do it), which job would you want?

Ooh, this is an easy one for me.  I would love to be a Supreme Court Justice.  At times in my life, I've thought it would be cool to be a famous singer or author, but that type of fame is usually fleeting.  Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life, and the decisions they make affect millions of people and literally make history.  So while they may not be "famous" in the sense of making the cover of People magazine, they are certainly famous in their own way.

I haven't posted much about my "buy nothing" challenge over the past week or so since November started.  Suffice it to say, I have been doing very well.  I've eaten at home more often than not, and I have not bought anything new, despite having an urge to buy clothes for myself (that I don't really need but think I need), clothes and toys for the boys, and the black ballet flats I mentioned in my first post of the month.  (I also had a fleeting thought that I "need" the same flats in red also.)

I am finding that I have more cash in my wallet because while I haven't eliminated all spending for essentials like food, I have become more mindful of my spending and am spending less as a result.  Also, my credit card balance is not going up!  Imagine that. . . .

Today I am grateful for my nephew Rowan.  It seems like yesterday (or a lifetime ago, depending on the day) that I got the call from my BIL six years ago that he was about to make his entrance into the world.  He is growing up to be such a unique individual, and one of the few things I don't like about living in Arizona is that I'm all the way across the country from him (and his mother, my sister V).  It's hard to have a close relationship with a small child who doesn't see you often, so I am hopeful that as Rowan is getting older, we will be able to communicate more via FaceTime and eventually email and even letters.  I am hopeful that my sons will think of Rowan as their "cool" older cousin, as he is the only cousin they have or are likely to have.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 7 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  Talk about the last compliment you received.

Wow, I actually can't remember the last compliment I received.  How sad is that?  Most of the compliments I hear these days are actually about my boys and not about me.

MM did tell me the other day that he thinks I am a wonderful, loving mother.  That made me feel good.  :-)

Today I am grateful for living in a country where we are free to vote as our conscience and opinions dictate and where we need have no fear of revolution, military coup or anarchy when an election doesn't go the way some had hoped.  I know many people in my family and in my circle of friends are either elated or depressed at the outcome of yesterday's presidential election.  All are free to express their views without fear of government reprisal.

The fear of dissolution into chaos following a contentious election is a very real one in many parts of the world.  I'm grateful I live in a country where that isn't the case.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  If you were President of the United States, what would be your first act in office?

To tell the truth, I don't have the first clue.  I would never want to be President--way too much responsibility and pressure for me--so I can't even imagine it.

Today I am grateful for my parents-in-law.  They both have a birthday today (yes, I know, odd that they share a birthday), so it seems fitting to think of them.  I hear so often from friends and acquaintances how awful their in-laws are, especially MILs, and mine are really great!  I have a very good relationship with them, and in many ways, they have offered me more support over the past several years than my own parents.  Happy Birthday, J & W!

P.S.  If you live in the U.S. and have not yet voted, get out to the polls today.  Democracy only works when "we, the people" participate.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 5 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  What are your thoughts about tomorrow's election in the United States?

The thought that is uppermost in my mind about tomorrow's election is "I can't wait for it to be over!"  Seriously, I am so sick of hearing about politics.

I have my own political beliefs, and they are carefully considered and strongly held, but I don't intend to ever share them on this blog.  One of the things my father taught me that I have continues to follow in my adult life is that you never talk about politics or religion with anyone but the closest friends and family members.  (And I would add: maybe not even then, unless you know your views and beliefs are aligned.)  You will never convert anyone to your way of thinking; the only thing you may do is alienate or upset them.

Given that many of my friends are lawyers, I have a fair number of acquaintances for whom politics is literally their job, or at least a pet hobby.  So I suspect that I hear more about politics than the average voter, to say nothing of the ads that are constantly on TV or mailed to our home.  (Thank G-d we don't live in a swing state!  My mom is in Ohio, and they are getting bombarded with ads.)

I am grateful for the right to vote and to live in a country where we CAN all discuss these issues freely, if we choose to do so.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4 NaBloPoMo

Today I am thinking of my beloved dog Sebastian who passed away last summer just days after I learned I was pregnant as a result of our DE IVF cycle. I am grateful to have had Sebastian in my life for almost nine years, and I still think of him often.  I think he would've loved the boys.  He was great with babies and children (and everyone, really, even cats).

I will (finally) be scattering his ashes today while hiking on the last trail he hiked.  Like most dogs, he loved the outdoors and long walks, so hiking was a favorite activity of his.  I like to think that he's somewhere running free, looking as happy as he does in this photograph.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 3

No NaBloPoMo prompt today, and I'm fresh out of ideas and short on time (per usual), so this post will be a short one.

I'm doing well with my "buy nothing" project so far.  Temptation reared its head on the very first day of the month, with ads for baby toys and amazon.com informing me that the black ballet flats on my wish list have had a price drop. . . but I resisted and have bought nothing but gas (I was on empty) and (necessary) food.  Because it's now the weekend and I'll be at home, I am going to cook some of the foods in my freezer and pantry and take the food as lunches for the week.

I am so grateful for my sons.  I mean, duh.  This gratitude is something that I feel daily.  There is nothing like waking up to hearing their voices and their shared laughter, or walking into their nursery to see them smiling and bouncing up and down at the sides of their cribs, ready to face a new day.

If I could wake up with half as much energy as they do, and in half as good and optimistic a mood, every day would be a great one.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 2 NaBloPoMo

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:  If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Hmm, tough question.  After MM and I visited Maui for our wedding, we talked about how great it would be to live there.  Beautiful scenery, temperate climate, lots of stuff to do.  But then we thought we might feel a bit isolated living so far from the mainland and from our friends and family, and we realized that, if we lived there and worked for a living, we wouldn't really be able to enjoy it in the same we could when we were there on vacation.

I would love to live in San Diego or other parts of southern California, if cost were no object, for many of the same reasons I'd wanted to stay in Maui, and with the same qualification: only if I didn't have to work for a living.  I've also thought of living in the southern part of Ireland, where my father was born and raised and still has family.  I think Ireland is beautiful, and it has a relatively temperate climate, though it rains a lot.  Times I have been there on visits, I have really enjoyed it, as the people are friendly, and I would be close to my cousins who live there.

I do have to say, though, that in spite of the G-d awful heat in the summers here, I am quite content living in Phoenix.  I dislike cold weather, and we don't experience that here.  Also, we don't have tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis to worry about (just dust storms during the summer monsoon).

Of all the regions of the U.S., the Southwest feels the most like home to me.  I love the wide open skies, the 300+ days a year of sunshine, the infrequency of inclement weather, the laidback feel, and the mixing of cultures (lots of Spanish, Mexican and Native American influence).  I love that I can hike on New Year's Day here, and I love the beauty of the desert and the way it smells after a heavy summer rain.

I am grateful for living in the desert Southwest.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 Days of Nothing and NaBloPoMo

I am feeling really motivated to blog every day in November.  I intend to post at least one thing for which I am grateful daily, and I am also participating in NaBloPoMo and will use its daily prompts for topics when I'm feeling at a loss for things to post.

Additionally, I recently learned of a project that I think may be just what I need to enhance my feelings of gratitude during the month.  My sister and I have been talking lately about how we (and our husbands), and so many of our friends, it seems, suffer from "affluenza."  
Af-flu-en-za (n). 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.
Goodness knows, there is nothing like the arrival of babies in one's life for spurring consumerism.  We are told about all the things babies "need," and all new parents are short on time and energy and looking for things to make life easier.  This often leads to spending, some of it necessary, some of it perhaps not so much.  I am as guilty of this as the next person.

I spend more money than I should on things I don't truly *need*, and then justify it by saying "I know we will use it eventually" or "It was on sale!" or "My friend ___ has one and loves it" or "I work hard, I deserve it!" or my favorite these days "I waited a long time to have these babies, and I'll buy things for them if I want to!"  I get a rush about getting a bargain, even if the item I've purchased is one I could've done without.

Some people wishing to break free of this type of behavior for a variety of reasons have pledged to spend an entire month buying nothing new (with the exception of essentials like food, drink, medications, and hygiene products).  If you do a search for "how to buy nothing new for 30 days," you'll come up with a number of websites and blogs dedicated to this purpose.

I'm gonna do this.  I am complicating matters a bit by undertaking this project during the month of November, when I still have Christmas presents to buy, so in order to accommodate my need to do that (and not put my gift-buying off even further into December), I am going to allow myself an exception for "gifts I would've bought for family members anyway" in addition to the exceptions for food, drink, medications and hygiene products.  Additionally, I am going to try to be more mindful of what I spend on even these essentials.  I certainly do very little currently to reduce my grocery bill ("I don't have time!" is a common mantra for me these days), and I don't deprive myself of a Star$$ coffee if I'm having a "hard day," but I am going to cut back in these areas as well.

Who's with me?  :-)

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt: Tell us your favourite quotation and why.

Wow, I have so many quotes I love that I really couldn't pick just one.  In keeping with my theme of gratitude for this month, I will single out this Oprah Winfrey quote which I included in this post I wrote almost three years ago about gratitude:
Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.
~Oprah Winfrey 
I truly believe this.  Another quote on the same theme is one which I have as my email signature and on my Fac.ebo.ok profile: "He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have." (Socrates)  This reminder was one I really needed during the darkest days of infertility, when I often thought "If I could just be a mother, I would be happy."

Today I am grateful for the internet.  Without it, I would've missed out on some great friendships, and since I meet MM on an online dating site, I would never have met my husband!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I have to admit, Halloween has never been a favorite holiday of mine.  I have a lot of bad childhood memories of the day (not worth rehashing; suffice it to say, one example is that my mom rarely let me wear the costumes I wanted and usually went a cheap route which resulted in my feeling uncomfortable and/or being teased by other children), and we got candy regularly from my grandmother during our childhood, so that part of the day didn't make it special for us. 

As an adult, I've rarely dressed up because I lack creativity.  I don't particularly like horror movies.  I don't enjoy decorating for any holiday, and Halloween is no exception.

MM, on the other hand, loves Halloween.  It's his favorite holiday.  So I've tried to make a bit more of an effort to get into the spirit of the holiday since we've been together.  I've dressed up two of the past four Halloweens (once as a "naughty nurse" and last year when I was pregnant, we went to a costume party dressed as Mary and Joseph).  I've carved pumpkins and bought a ghoul for the front walk.

Time will tell whether AJ & MJ love the holiday as much as their dad.  For this year, they will be dressed in their skeleton costumes to help us hand out candy to the neighborhood children, and their grandma and grandpa will be coming up to see them (and take photos of them in costume, no doubt).

Trick or treat.  Stay safe out there.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

The photos I am seeing of Manhattan and Hoboken, NJ--places I visited just a few years ago--are just unbelievable.  I hope that anyone who reads this blog who lives in the areas affected by this hurricane stays safe.

For today, I am grateful that I live in a part of the country where hurricanes don't hit.  It was 89 degrees and sunny here yesterday and promises to be the same today.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin patch

I wanted to get photos of our sons picking out their first pumpkins, but when we headed to the nearest pumpkin patch today, we had limited time and did not want to fight the large crowd we saw there.  (Good plan, waiting until the Sunday before Halloween to go.)  So instead, we stopped at a nearby church we'd passed on the way to the pumpkin patch that had a small bazaar going on and pumpkins for sale.

Things did not go as well as we had hoped.  Our sons had fallen asleep in the car--even though it wasn't their usual nap time--and they weren't into the whole scene and starting crying after a few seconds when we put them down near the pumpkins for photos. 

They were OK for a few minutes while MM snapped a few pictures of me holding them in my arms

But when MM took them over for photos with them, MJ promptly spit up all over his adorable Gymb.oree shirt, and both boys started crying.  We decided to quickly pick two small pumpkins for them and finish our photo taking in the park near our house.  That didn't work well either.

Oh well.  I am grateful for great weather here--particularly as over half the country is having storms--and grateful to have children to buy pumpkins for, even if they don't exactly love the pumpkins.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Did I jinx myself?

I'm wondering if maybe I shouldn't have written my post on gratitude.  Since I put up yesterday's post, I have had a lot of negative crap happen!  My father and my sister got into a huge fight on the phone, which led to calls from her yesterday and from him this morning where I got to hear about it from both sides.  My husband's car battery died twice yesterday, which meant he got home from work much later than usual, leaving me alone with the boys during their fussy period longer than usual.  (AJ had a meltdown at one point, and I must've removed them from the dog's water bowl at least 10 times while I was making their bedtime bottles before I finally gave up and put them in their play pens.)

Opposing counsel in one of my cases pulled a real d!ck move and filed a motion for something we had already discussed and that we had already agreed our firm would take care of without the necessity of such a motion.  Of course, the motion was filed at the end of the day, when I had already left the office, so I had to respond to emails from the partner on the case about what was going on while I was trying to feed the boys dinner.  I still have to straighten this out today.  Also, this has happened right at the outset of this case, which makes me dread having to work with this attorney on the other side for the next several months/couple of years.

MJ woke me at 5:15 this morning, which led to my being irritable.  (Nothing like being awakened in the dark 30 minutes before your alarm goes off to start the day on the wrong foot!)  MM didn't want to get up and take care of MJ when he was up for the day at 6:15 because he was "tired," which made me mad.  And he let MJ cry in his play pen while I was in the shower for so long and to such a point of distress that I jumped out of the shower dripping wet to find out what was wrong. . . right as he finally addressed the situation.  And then he "didn't hear" AJ fussing in his crib to be gotten up.  All these things led to my having a fight with MM this morning before leaving for work.

And I can't find my Gymbucks for the January redemption period (yes, I know I won't need them for three months), and I'm afraid I threw some of them away.  (You'd think I'd be able to just forget about this one, especially in light of everything else going on, but for some reason, I can't seem to.)  I was planning to use those to buy the boys' holiday clothes for next Christmas when they are on clearance in January.

Well, in spite of all this, I am grateful for having my job.  I may have to deal with annoying attorneys, and it's not my favorite place to be. . . but it pays the bills, and it gives me somewhere to go every day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A month of gratitude

My posting here has been sporadic since my sons were born in January, which is to be expected.  I have far less free time these days than at any other time in my life.

I have found, though, that I enjoy writing here.  It's therapeutic for me, in a way, just to get my thoughts and feelings out on "paper," and when I get comments, that can be therapeutic as well.  So I want to get back to writing here more regularly.  Most of my posts are quick and dirty, rather than taking me hours to write and edit, so the time commitment really won't be that much.

I thought one good way to get back into the habit of posting regularly would be to do a daily post of things for which I'm grateful, and what better month than November, when we celebrate Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., to do that?  I've done similar things before on this blog (one example here), but it's been a while, and I do believe in the positive effects of gratitude on mood and mental outlook.

When I was in my late 20s, single and childless, I actually managed to keep a gratitude journal for most of a whole year.  I still have it, and when I've looked backed on the things I've written, I smile.  I think it's always a good thing to pause and reflect on the things for which I am grateful on a daily basis.  Not just the big and obvious things, like my sons or good health, but the little things that happen in the course of going about living life.

Would anyone care to join me in this endeavor?  I would love to read your posts on this topic as well as sharing the things for which I'm grateful each day.

It's not November yet, but I'll go ahead and share something that happened to me for which I'm grateful.  I had a dental appointment this morning--just a routine cleaning--and on my way to the office, I stopped by the Star$$ drive-thru for my daily morning caffeine fix.  As I was pulling up to the lane for the drive-thru window, another car was pulling up around the same time.  The other driver was a little more assertive than I and pulled into the lane in front of me, although if we'd both maintained the same speed we'd been driving as we'd entered the parking lot, I would've been ahead of her in line.  No big deal, I just shrugged it off.  (I don't usually sweat that kind of small stuff; road rage isn't one of my problems.)

When I reached the window to pick up my caffe mocha, the barista told me that the woman ahead of me had paid for my coffee "because she cut you off."  Wasn't that a nice thing for her to do?  So I was grateful for saving the $4.50(!) I'd been prepared to pay for my morning coffee.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trading Places

This post is on a topic suggested by PAIL bloggers related to Keiko and Pamela's "To Mom or Not to Mom" 5-day open salon.

Because our journey to using DE IVF was a long and winding one, I have actually contemplated some of these questions before.  There were periods during our 3+ years TTC when I thought living the rest of my life without ever being a parent would be my reality.

What would it be like for you to have made the decision not to parent? 

MM and I joked a few times during our years TTC that if we never had children, we would just go on a two-week vacation to Europe every other year instead.  Although these comments were made in jest, they were also, to a degree, serious.  We both realized that if we never had children we would have more money, time and freedom for things like travel than we would have should we become parents.

For me, at least, had we made the difficult decision not to parent, I suspect my life would've continued on in much the same way it had for many years. . . working full time in a demanding profession, spending lots of time with friends, volunteering for various causes, reading lots of books (both fiction and non-fiction), lavishing attention and affection on my nephew, my friends' children and my dogs in lieu of having children of my own for whom I could do this. . . and yes, traveling to places I've longed to visit for years.

I know firsthand that the life I just described has its pleasures and its rewards because I lived a version of it for most of my adulthood.  I spent many years creating that life for myself.  At the same time, although it hasn't always been obvious due to the other choices I've made in my life, both personally and professionally, being a mother has been the desire of my heart for as long as I can remember.  

During a brief period a few months before our DE IVF cycle, MM had second thoughts about doing a DE IVF cycle because of the expense involved.  While we were in this limbo, it wasn't clear if there was any other way that I could/would become a mother.  At a counseling session during that period which I wrote about here, NC asked me how I felt about never being a mother, and I said "When I'm on my deathbed--which I hope won't be until I'm at least 75--I know I will regret it if I was never a mother" and uncharacteristically burst into tears.

Those words are some of the truest I've ever spoken.  If I hadn't had the opportunity to be a mother, I truly feel that I would've looked back on my life with regret and that all the other things I've experienced and accomplished would've meant little to me.  I know many women find a great deal of fulfillment and satisfaction in work, marriage, volunteering and other things--I'm friends with a few people who are either childless by choice or who never had children due to circumstance and have still lived happy lives--so I don't think that children are necessary to a woman's fulfillment.  But for me, even before having children, I suspected that there was nothing else that would bring me greater joy.

Now that I am a mother, I am even more certain of the truth of my words at that session.  It's difficult for me to even put into words what being a mother to my sons has meant to me, and when I think about the possibility that I might never have had this experience, just the thought makes me unspeakably sad.

Having said all that about myself, let me add this: I think that making that difficult decision is the right one for some people, and I applaud them for their strength in being able to make the choice.

What would it have taken for you to come to that place?

I was close to it more than once.  I think I would've had to go through a lot more counseling to come to terms with that loss, and I'm not sure I would've ever felt 100% OK about it.
How do you think you would feel about parenting if you had never experienced infertility or loss?

I think that, having waited so long to become a mother, I would've still been more than usually appreciative of the experience, but I do think that having gone through such a struggle to have my sons makes me more mindful of the great gift it is to have them in my life and makes me reflect more often on my gratitude at having the opportunity to be their mother.

What other aspects of your parenting journey could you see playing out differently in an alternate universe?

I do still sometimes fantasize about how different our lives would be had we conceived on our own.  We could have a 3-year-old by now if I'd gotten pregnant within our first few months of TTC.  We could have a 2-year-old if my miscarriage in August 2009 hadn't happened.  In either scenario, we'd have a lot more money in the bank because we wouldn't have paid for fertility testing and treatment, and we likely would've only had one child, so our current costs would be lower as well.

I am not sure I can fully visualize a life in which I never had children at all through any means, though.  Whether by birth or adoption, I do feel that being a mother is something I was meant to do.

How has the specific path to parenting that you have taken changed who you are as a person (or do you feel it hasn’t)?

Wow, heavy question.  I think that all we have gone through to get to this point has certainly made me more appreciative of the parenting experience and more eager to drink in every moment of my sons' babyhood: their growth and development, their emerging personalities, even the drudgery of bottles and diapers and laundry.  But I think that would be true of anyone who'd experienced infertility and/or loss.

Having used DE, I think I am much more aware than the average person of various alternative paths to parenthood, certainly much more aware of this than I was before we used DE.  Also, I hope that doing something like this which is still outside the norm has made me more open-minded.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bullet Tuesday

No time for a real post, although I have a few percolating in my head, particularly after my session with NC this past weekend.  Soon, I hope. . . .
  • The boys turned 9 months old last Friday.  They have now been alive outside of my body longer than they were ever inside my body.  Crazy!  They are crawling everywhere and pulling up to stand, and AJ is trying to climb on everything: Daddy, the dog, the furniture.  He has become quite a daredevil!  MJ has always been very physical, but we've been surprised at these recent developments with AJ.
  • MJ says Mama pretty often now and usually seems to be directing it at me. It's very sweet.  (I try to get AJ to say it, too, but he just smiles and laughs.)
  • It's funny how, not long after posting about feeling stressed, I read some similar posts by other new-mom bloggers.  It seems I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed by new parenthood.
  • After feeling so good about our progress with MJ on the Ferber method, we've had both babies awake before 5 a.m. the past two nights in a row.  Not good.  Mama needs her sleep!
  • The weather here is FINALLY cool enough to take the boys places during the day!  We went for a long walk last Saturday morning with my friend J and her baby girl and are planning to do it again this coming Sunday.  We are meeting another twin mom (who I have yet to meet in real life) at the zoo a week from Saturday.  We are having our outdoor family photo shoot the same day.  I love fall in Arizona!
  • I am so glad the last presidential debate is over, and I am counting the days until the election.  I don't care to talk politics on this blog, and my own affiliation really doesn't matter.  Either way, I am tired of MM's obsession with CNN and all my friends' posts on Fa.ceb.ook about their respective candidates.
  • How did I miss that Justin Timberlake got married? I think I vaguely remember hearing that he and Jessica Biel were back together, but not sure I knew they were engaged and definitely didn't know they are now married. Hmm.
  • I am actually managing to read a little at bedtime each night!  This development is huge for me, as reading has long been one of my greatest pleasures, and it's something I've done very little since getting pregnant and having my sons.
Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Update on Ferberizing

First off, let me say thank you to those of you who commented on my last post.  It does help a little to know that I am not alone in feeling this way.  Knowing I'm not alone hasn't helped me to "snap out" of my mood, but at least I feel more normal and less like I'm the only loser who can't seem to handle all of this stress with a smile on my face and a cheery mood.

I was pleasantly surprised, too, at the number of moms who commented that they had also used some method of sleep training, and I wanted to follow up on that post.  Feeling that there was "no time like the present," MM and I decided to start "Ferberizing" MJ on Monday night.  (Aside: every time I read or hear the term Ferberizing, it makes me think of Little Jack in the movie Meet The Fockers.)

I agreed to take the first night because MM is home with the boys all day on Mondays.  Between caring for them and fitting in the work he can during the hours they sleep, Mondays are a long day for him.  It didn't seem fair to set him up for (potentially) a long, sleepless night on top of that.

MJ went to sleep not long after 8 p.m. and awoke the first time about 10:45.  Following the method set forth in Dr. Ferber's book, I immediately went in to make sure he wasn't hungry, wet, dirty or in pain or distress.  Finding that he didn't, strictly speaking, need anything, I gave MJ his pacifier, rubbed his back for about 10 seconds, and then left the room, returning at the intervals set forth in the book.

I'm not gonna lie: it was very hard.  I hated hearing MJ cry and seeing his little red, tear-soaked face when I went in to check on him at the prescribed intervals.  Another hard part was when he'd see me come in and would stretch his little arms up for me to lift him out of the crib.  Heartbreaking.

But I stuck to my guns, and after a little over 30 minutes of crying--with checks at intervals--he stopped crying and went to sleep, poor lamb.  (Surprisingly, AJ, who was sleeping in his crib adjacent to MJ's in the same room, never once woke up during this whole period of time.)

MJ only woke once more, around 5:20 a.m., and this time he went back to sleep in less than three minutes.  Decent first night.

Tuesday night was MM's turn.  MJ went down around 8 and slept straight through until 4:45 a.m.  MM said he checked on him at that time, gave him his pacifier and rubbed his back for a few seconds, and he was back asleep in less than a minute and slept until after 7:30.  (Probably tired out from the night before, I'd guess.)

Last night MJ went down a little after 8 and woke around 10:45.  This time he only cried for a little over five minutes before going back to sleep.  He woke once more just after 5, and after being resettled and given his pacifier, was back to sleep in less than a minute.  He then slept until 6:15, when both he and AJ were up for the day.

Tonight will be MM's night again, and we will see how MJ does.  Our pediatrician said that the majority of children are "sleep trained" in 3-5 days using this method, so I am optimistic that we are through the worst of this.

Meanwhile, AJ has only woken once briefly in the past three nights due to his pacifier having fallen out of his crib.  We have not had to change anything in regard to AJ but have been putting him down drowsy (instead of fully asleep) as the book recommends, just to be on the safe side.

Sorry for the boring post.  I guess I've written this more to aid my memory in the future than because it's really of much interest to anyone reading.