Thursday, April 30, 2009

April's Reading List

April was a month for a varied selection of reading material for me. Poetry, teen fiction, wanna-be thrillers and old favourites all have a place this month.

The Year of Secret Assignments - Jaclyn Moriarty (2 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • Set in Australia, this follows the exploits of three teen girls who are participating in a pen-friend assignment, and the three boys they get matched up with from their rival school. Initially, I thought it was going to be a fun read, but I found the format of letters a little confusing at first (it was challenging to figure out who was who without really knowing the characters first). The secret assignments they challenge each other with are pretty funny at times, but I don't think that it was enough to really save the book for me.
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown (2 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • I figured I would read this one because I know I am going to see the movie at some point and I want to have my own visualizations of it before seeing how Mr. Ron Ho.ward interpreted it. I will admit that I enjoyed the DaVinci Code more than this one, although several people told me this was the better of the two. Honestly, I was bored. I didn't feel the same sense of urgency that I got from DaVinci Code. I slogged through it, but I wasn't impressed at all. Hopefully, the third in the series, due out this fall, will be better (and also the last).
Shut Up, You're Fine (Instructive Poetry for Very Very Bad Children) - Andrew Hudgins (4.5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • This book rocked! One of the perks of working in a bookstore is that you get to come across random things that you wouldn't otherwise find. This is obviously from our humour section, and it had me giggling all through my lunch breaks. Poems about having to give grandma a kiss and about being grounded are just the tip of the ice berg. This book isn't meant for young readers... there are some very adult themes, but it was really and truly funny!
Always Looking Up - Michael J. Fox (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • I have always been a fan of Michael J. Fox, and was heartbroken when he left acting due to his battle with Parkinsons. His new memoir chronicles what he's been up to in the last ten years, since his retirement... the development of his foundation, his work in the political arena, his faith, and his family. Truly inspiring and thought-provoking, I found myself thinking very hard about my stance on embryonic stem cell research. My faith leads me to believe that life begins at conception, so I have always been fairly black and white on this issue. However, his explanation of where and when they wish to acquire the stem cells has given me much to think about. If I were to have frozen embryos that I was unable to have implanted in me, what would I do with them? Ideally, I would like for them to be adopted out... to people who were struggling with infertility who would provide a loving home for the child(ren). I wouldn't want those little lives wasted or destroyed just because I wasn't able to nurture them. I would want their lives to have meaning, and if they can be used to improve the quality of life or even lead to a cure for diseases like Parkinsons or Alzheimers... Like I said, I'm still processing it all, but he has made me think. My only disappointment with the book was his section on faith. I found it wishy-washy and non-commital. But that's just me. I highly recommend this book!
Ride the Wind - Lucia St. Clair Robson (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • This book was the first 'grown-up' book I ever read... many many years ago. I came across a listing for it while a work, and I knew I had to re-read it. It is a novel based on the life of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young Texas girl who was kidnapped and raised by the Commanche in the first half of the 1800s. The book chronicles the settlement of the Texas frontier, and the end of the free tribes who lived in that region. There are graphic moments of violence, and Robson doesn't sugar coat the brutality of living off the land. Parker grows up as a beloved adopted daughter and eventually marries a chief, and her son was the last free chief of the Commanche. Heartbreaking and beautiful, it offers a glimpse into a way of life that is now lost.
Eight Little Faces - Kate Gosselin (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes)
  • Perfect for any fan of Jon & Kate Plus Eight, this little book is full of fun pictures of all the kids. Interspersed throughout are Kate's thoughts on parenting multiples, and Scripture verses that are her inspiration. Just a fun little book!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just a blah kind of day...

Anyone ready to hang out at my pity party? The whine and cheese is on the table. The violins are playing. My PLOM (poor little ol' me) disease is in full swing.

Here's what happened today...
  • Got on the scale this morning... not a good thing. All that weight I lost last month has found me again.
  • It's still not spring... when I left for work this afternoon at 2, it was 2 degrees outside. (that's Celsius for my friends down south)
  • Found out that we really REALLY have nowhere to store our stupid winter tires, and that it looks like we are going to be hauling them around in our trunk until October at which point we will swap them out for the summer tires. I want the trunk of my car back!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Discovered that one of my direct reports, who was hired to replace me when I was promoted, actually makes more than me, when you break it down to an hourly wage. Gah!
  • I've been waiting for two weeks to get an appointment with my optometrist, after his office promised they would call as soon as there was an opening... I ended up calling them back today to find out what's going on and found out that the only opening is tomorrow (I work) and after that the doc is on vacation for 2 weeks!
  • My lips are ridiculously chapped.
And to top it all off, I'm not pregnant, I've just had what is possibly the worst AF I've had in over a year, and I don't feel at all confident for this cycle (yes, I know it's only CD 5, but I'm just not feeling it this month).

I'm just going to head to bed and pray that tomorrow is a better day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hobbit-ish Potpurri

Good evening humble readers...

Here's just another round of the randomness that flows through my brain. Nothing of big import, just what I'm thinking about tonight...


The Calgary Flames are getting their butts kicked this evening and my poor beloved is in a bit of a funk about it. If they don't win tonight they are done for the season. But on the upside, I won't be a hockey widow anymore.


You've heard of sun showers? When it rains while the sun is shining brightly? Well, today we had a sun snow storm. For about 15 minutes this afternoon the snow was swirling in the bright sunlight. Crazy!


I made a recipe from the new Bobby Flay cookbook last night, Greek burgers! Yummy! Too bad my sweet potatoe oven fries didn't turn out so hot. White Chili was on the menu tonight and I'm happy to say that it turned out pretty good too. It was missing something, tho. I just can't figure out what.


I'm going to talk about it more in detail when I do my monthly reading list post, but the new Michael J. Fox book is really incredible. It's made me really think about my stance on embryonic stem cell research. I love it when book makes me use my brain just a little more than usual. :)


Black thumb update: the little parsley plant is doing so well I'm half tempted to go buy a few more herb plants. We'll see if I'm still motivated in a week or so, when we finally get spring weather.


My beloved and I watched Frost/Nixon last night. Incredible movie! I will confess to the fact that I knew very little about Nixon before last night (actually all I knew was that Watergate is a hotel, and that he left office the month before I was born). I don't pretend to fully understand US politics, but it was very interesting.


I had one of those moments at work last week... one of those moments where I really need to be managerial, detached but supportive, for one of my staff. She came out of the staff room looking very upset. I asked if she was ok, and she nodded but didn't say anything. I asked if she was going to be ok to work her shift, and again she nodded. Finally, I asked if she needed to talk about anything. Her eyes welled up with tears, and I was expecting to hear at the very least that a guy had broken her heart. I will confess that I was not prepared for what she told me. This precious little 17 year old cashier, very studious, very serious, looked at me with her eyes brimming with tears and told me...

...that her fish had just died.

Now, I'm not normally a cold-hearted biotch, but it took every ounce of strength in me not to burst out laughing. I'm not kidding! I was biting the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing in her face. Apparently, I said all the appropriate things and I remember giving her a hug. I then immediately had to go and grab the other manager who was on duty, dragged her to the office, and told her the story while laughing my face off. I felt so awful for laughing at this poor girl, who was obviously grieving. I'm a terrible person... ;)

I guess that's it for tonight. Calgary has scored, but I think it's too little too late.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

65 Random Questions

So I came across this while doing my ICLW comments... (Check out This Could Be Anyone's Story to see some other great answers!) I love sharing the random stuff!

65 Questions You've Probably Never Been Asked Before.

1. First thing you wash in the shower? My hair... always

2. What colour is your favourite hoodie? Navy (and really I shouldn't be allowed to wear it in public, it's that ratty)

3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again? Abso-smurfly!

4. Do you plan outfits? It depends on how long ago we did laundry

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now? Pooped!

6. Whats the closest thing to you that's red? my phone

7. Tell me about the last dream you remember having? funny... I can't remember anything recent... but I can tell you about a nightmare I had when I was three if you like.

8. Did you meet anybody new today? do customers count?

9. What are you craving right now? Chicken curry

10. Do you floss? Not enough

11. What comes to mind when I say cabbage? Cabbage Rolls

12. Are you emotional? Ummm ... heck yeah! Can we say PMS?

13. Have you ever counted to 1,000? I don't think so

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it? I do both

15. Do you like your hair? not particularly... it's time for a trim and a colour again

16. Do you like yourself? Personality: 8.5 or 9, Looks: -37.2

17. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush? Yes, I'd like to hear him try to explain himself.

18.What are you listening to right now? New Kids on the Block

19. Are your parents strict? bio parents weren't, foster parents were

20. Would you go sky diving? Not on your life!

21. Do you like cottage cheese? mmmmm cottage cheese!

22. Have you ever met a celebrity? I met Rick Mercer last year (Canadians will know who he is)

23. Do you rent movies often? not in the traditional way, we VOD them.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in? My very pretty wedding rings

25. How many countries have you visited? 8

26. Have you made a prank phone call? of course

27. Ever been on a train? Yes.

28. Brown or white eggs? doesn't matter, I'm not a big egg person

29.Do you have a cell-phone? yup... moved into the 21st century last fall

30. Do you use chap stick? Hello, my name is Mrs. Gamgee and I'm a chapstick addict.

31. Do you own a gun? Not a chance.

32. Can you use chop sticks? Yup!

33. Who are you going to be with tonight? my beloved

34. Are you too forgiving? No, you can never be too forgiving.

35. Ever been in love? Abso-smurfly!

36. What is your best friend(s) doing tomorrow? going to church

37. Ever have cream puffs? uh-huh

38. Last time you cried? Does getting teary over a fellow blogger's post count? if so, then today, if not, then yesterday.

39. What was the last question you asked? What's the score? (Calgary lost, poor schmucks)

40. Favourite time of the year? Autumn

41. Do you have any tattoos? nope

42. Are you sarcastic? who me? never!

43. Have you ever seen The Butterfly Effect? nope

44. Ever walked into a wall? Have I told you about my laundry mishap? lets just say that my head was introduced to the doorframe in a very big way!

45. Favourite colour? Red

46. Have you ever slapped someone? Yeah... not proud of it

47. Is your hair curly? only in my dreams, or with LOTS of professional intervention

48. What was the last CD you bought? I think it was a Bing Crosby Christmas album

49. Do looks matter? not for me

50. Could you ever forgive a cheater? Forgive yes... trust again no

51. Is your phone bill sky high? No, I've got a good plan

52. Do you like your life right now? I like my job, love my husband, we own our home, all that's missing is the pitter patter

53. Do you sleep with the TV on? Can I? Yes, Do I like to? No

54. Can you handle the truth? Yes, when it is shared in a caring way :)

55. Do you have good vision? Nope... glasses for almost 30 years!

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people? yes

57. How often do you talk on the phone? at work... all the time, at home... hardly ever

58. The last person you held hands with? my beloved

59. What are you wearing? purple pjs

60.What is your favourite animal? Elephants

61. Where was your default picture taken at? Mission Creek Park

62. Can you hula hoop? not without spraining something

63. Do you have a job? abso-smurfly! and it's a pretty good one most days

64. What was the most recent thing you bought? cooking magazines

65. Have you ever crawled through a window? yeah, I lost my keys a lot as a kid

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Show & Tell: Kitchen Adventures #3 - The Easter Dinner Spectacular

Oh my goodness! It's Saturday again, and I don't want to miss Show & Tell (especially during ICLW)! I know that Easter was a couple of weeks ago already, but I'm just now getting around to posting the recipes.

Easter for me equals lamb... and lamb equals Greek... and Greek equals yummy! I'm really pleased with how everything turned out, especially as we had guests over for dinner and the lamb was an experimental recipe. Oh, and the leftovers were fabulous too!

A few disclaimers before we get started: I am not Greek. I never claimed to be. The greek-ness of these recipes comes from the flavour combinations that I love from my favourite Greek restaurants. I don't measure when I cook, or at least not much, so all amounts are approximate. And last... if the picture isn't that great, I apologize... still getting used to the new camera (and the colour on our computer monitor is a little funky).

So... the menu for the evening was all about roasting... Mediterranean Roasted Leg of Lamb, Oven Roasted Greek Potatoes, and Roasted Asparagus. Dessert was Cherry Cheesecake courtesy of my friend/co-worker M.

Mediterranean Roasted Leg of Lamb
  • 1 3-4 lb boneless leg of lamb
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cup olive oil
  • minced/crushed garlic (I like things waaaaaay garlicky so I used 5 large cloves, use however much you can handle)
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
Trim some, but not all, fat from the lamb, and tie with butcher's twine (I generally get the butcher to do this for me). Remove rosemary leaves from stem and chop finely. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, oregano and time in a bowl. Mix well. In a separate small bowl, combine saffron and boiling water, and allow to steep for a few minutes. Add to the rest of the marinade and allow to cool. Put the lamb into a large zipper-type bag and add the marinade. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours (I let it go overnight). Bring out of the fridge about a half hour before you plan to put it in the oven. Preheat oven to 325. Place lamb in a roasting pan with a rack, fat side up. Roast covered for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until internal temperature is 175 degrees fahrenheit, basting once or twice. (Option: save the garlic and herbs from the marinade and press onto top of lamb before roasting to form a crust. Remove cover from roast for last 15 minutes of cooking time.) Allow meat to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Drippings make a really nice gravy.

My beloved and I prefer our lamb on the rare side, so I pulled it out at 1 1/2 hour mark.

Greek-Style Oven Roasted Potatoes
  • 2-3 pounds baby yellow potatoes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • minced garlic (see above note about garlic)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 lemon, sliced (optional)
Wash and cut all potatoes in half length-wise. Arrange in a baking dish. Add oregano, garlic, oil and lemon juice. Stir carefully so that all the potatoes are evenly coated with oil/juice. Add hot water. Preheat oven to 400*. Roast for one hour, stirring at least once. You may need to add a bit more water during the cooking process if it evaporates quickly. Add lemon slices during last ten minutes.

* - I put them in with the lamb above for an hour and forty-five minutes.

Oven Roasted Asparagus
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • salt & pepper to taste
Trim woody stems from asparagus. Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes. I put it in the oven with the potatoes while the lamb was resting.

There were four of us for dinner on Easter, and I had a ton of leftovers. One tip... don't be surprised if the string tying your lamb turns yellow, that's just the saffron. :)

Ok, so now that you've got your fix of nifty new recipes, head on over to Mel's place and check out what the rest of the class is showing this week!

About My Beloved

I know that I have bragged about my beloved in the past, but in an effort to improve my mood I have been counting my blessings and he is number one among them all. Please indulge me as I sing his praises for a bit...

  • He's my best friend.
  • He does the laundry.
  • He does the dishes.
  • He loves God.
  • He loves me.
  • He doesn't make fun of my singing voice.
  • He is a math genius... which is particularly useful as he's an accountant.
  • He holds my hand.
  • He understands that sometimes women just get cranky, and he knows to stay out of my way.
  • He loves my cooking.
  • He tells me I'm beautiful, even when I feel gross.
  • He (almost) always remembers to hang up his towel.
  • He makes me laugh.
  • He accepts that my first love was Don.nie Wahl.berg, and doesn't mind at all ;)
  • He talks to himself in the cutest way.
  • He understands and shares my longing for a baby.
I am so blessed to have him in my life. He's my cheerleader, my sounding board, and my guinea pig for new recipes. He's makes me want to be a better person.


On a completely different note... AF has arrived with a vengeance. On the upside, with the spotting for two days (for the second cycle in a row) before I might actually have a case for progesterone supplements... maybe. We'll see what Dr. U says on the 11th. Thank you everyone for all your supportive comments over the last few days. I really appreciate it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where did that hope go?

So, I was looking back at my posts from the last couple of weeks and I was really hopeful not all that long ago.

I know I wasn't truly expecting much for this cycle, what with the HSG so close to O-time. But I am now getting all my usual pre-AF symptoms and some faint spotting has me convinced that there isn't a New Year's baby in my future.

Maybe it's because it's so ridiculously cold outside...

Maybe it's because I had to be at work at 7am today and I'll have to be there at 7am again tomorrow...

Maybe it's because I'm sick of hockey playoffs...

Maybe I'm sick of waiting...

Maybe I'm sick of wishing...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Old Man Winter's Dying Breath

It appears, humble readers, that winter is not willing to release us on the flatland just yet. Today we had snow... SNOW! It didn't stick and it has stopped now, but it was still the 'white poop' as my mother calls it.

Tomorrow is predicted to be very chilly... below freezing again. The poor trees don't know what to do. Yesterday it was beautiful... a day for flip-flops, capris and t-shirts. Today I pulled out that sweater that I'm just sick of, but it's warm... *sigh*

Winter can't last forever, can it?

I'm NOT Superstitous...

I have never been one to believe in superstitions. I'll step on a crack... I'll walk under ladders... heck, I've even broken a mirror a time or two.

But... I'm at that point in my tww, where all those old wives tales and things have started to pound on my brain.

Did you know that I once had a friend tell me that I would never have children based on the number of lines on the side of my hand? Apparently, in some parts of Chinese culture, if you make a fist and then count the lines that appear by your pinky knuckle, you can find out how many children you will have. I laughed it off... my friend was very sad for me.

During my last pregnancy, I had the requisite weird dreams. In all of them I was 'misplacing' our baby. In every single one! I lost our baby at church, at work, and at the grocery store (altho, in that one my beloved found a different 'our baby' in the frozen foods section... dream analysis anyone?).

Gah! I know I'm sounding ridiculous right now, but I just can't get this stuff out of my brain.

Sorry for the ramble...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April ICLW

I cannot believe it's been a month already! Wow!

Ok... so a quick recap for folks who have never stopped by before:
  • Married my beloved in April of 07 after having been matched on eHarm.ony (I think we'd be great in their commercials!)
  • Went off bcp in January of 08 after having been on them for just over a year. Joke that I'll be pregnant in a matter of weeks because all the women in my family are 'just that fertile'.
  • Get our first bfp in July 08 and are over the moon happy.
  • Diagnosed with a blighted ovum at 10 weeks. Have a D&C.
  • Try again.
  • Blessed with our second bfp in December of 08. Excited, but reserved.
  • Diagnosed with blighted ovum at 8 weeks. M/C'd natually at 11 weeks.
  • Had an HSG after two cycles (this month). All seems well, except for a teeny spot that is either scar tissue or a polyp. Doctor does not seem concerned and we are given the green light to try again.
  • Currently in the wretched tww, and phantom symptoms are driving me nuts! Not holding out a ton of hope tho for this cycle.
I know that my story isn't as long as some, but it feels like we've been at this for a really long time already.

Thanks for stopping by... and I promise I have some recipes planned to share (I still have yet to post my Easter dinner recipes). Wishing you a blessed day, humble readers!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Show &Tell: My Favourite Picture of Me

Do you have a favourite picture of yourself? Maybe a picture with a beloved family member, or one where you look especially good? My favourite picture of myself is almost 20 years old. Actually, now that I think about it, it's from 19 years ago this month. It serves as my mental image of myself. (That sounds only slightly pathetic.)

In the picture I'm only 15 years old. I have horribly frizzy permed hair and my glasses are huge enough to rival Sally Jesse Raphael (anyone remember her?). I'm wearing an acid wash denim jacket covered in New Kids on the Block graffiti. And it's really not the best quality picture either, sort of grainy and not really in focus.

That's what's wrong with it.

What's right with it? My smile. I remember I was laughing my ass off (and it was a significantly smaller ass than I have now). I don't have any other pictures of me where I look so... happy. Don't get me wrong, I love my wedding pics, but they fall into the romantic category. This one gets the prize for pure joy.

Here's the story: When I was 15 years old I was privileged enough to participate in a foreign exchange program. I had always wanted to go to Germany, to see my grandmother's homeland. When I was in grade 9 I began to take German in school, and through my teacher I found out about the program. My exchange partner came to Canada in August and left in November. I went to Germany in April and came home in July. Let me tell you, traveling that far from home, for that long, when you're only 15 is a very daunting experience.

This particular school year was the 1989-90 school year. Pop quiz... what major world event happened in October of 1989? That's right kids... the Berlin Wall opened. It was the beginning of the end of the cold war.

As I said, I arrived in Germany (still West Germany at that point) in mid-April, and got settled in with my host family. About a week after, all the Canadian exchange students got to travel to Berlin for a week. One of the first sites we visited during our time in that beautiful city was the Wall and Checkpoint Charlie (the Allied border crossing into East Berlin).

That day was a roller coaster of emotions, even for a 15 year old. Standing in what they called the 'Dead Zone', the narrow strip of ground between the East and West sides of the city, it was the first time I had ever truly been humbled by history.

Along the Wall were several panhandlers/entrepreneurs out to make a little cash. For a small fee you could borrow their hammer and chisel to try to chip off your own piece of the Wall. That's where the above picture came from. I was trying with all my might to chip off even a tiny piece on my own, but it just wasn't happening. In the end, I ended up buying one of my most cherished keepsakes from one of those entrepreneurs... my own piece of history.

Now don't forget to stop by Mel's place and check out what the rest of the class is showing this week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hobbit VS. The World - Vol 2: Down with Birds

The Hobbit VS. the World is a place where I can vent and explain some of the idiosyncrasies that make me me. Sometimes it will be about things that pi$$ me off and other times it will be about my deficiencies as a person. Read, comment... whatever... these are just thoughts of little consequence.


I think I may have mentioned briefly in the past that this hobbit is afraid of birds. The official terminology is ornithophobic. On an average day, it's not terribly debilitating, just annoying. Basically, anything with feathers and anything that flies makes me freak out. Feather pillows, butterflies, even Big Bi.rd... and don't get me started on the feather boa my sister bought for me to wear at my bridal shower... UGH! And I don't hate birds... I think they are beautiful. I just want to see them through my window, at a distance, and not up close and personal. (Moths are another story... they can go to hell)

I don't have a conscious memory of when it started, altho I have been told that it probably stems from an incident when I was about a year old. We lived in a very old farm house at the time, and the heat register in my nursery did not have a vent cover (what were my parents thinking... very unsafe!). Apparently, a small bird, like a sparrow or a swallow, managed to get down our chimeny pipe and came out through the vent in my room. It flapped around, basically trying to find a way out. My parents heard me screaming and ended up shoo-ing the bird out the window. All I know is, birds scare the tar out of me... always have and likely always will.

Unfortunately, my scary encounters with birds don't stop there. Once when I was 7 or 8 years old, my family decided to go camping in the Cypress Hills. This is a beautiful area in southern Alberta... an island of foothill-like terrain in the midst of the bald-ass prairie. We often camped there, and had the privilege of seeing a great deal of wildlife. Once, I ended up surrounded by what I referred to as some 'big ugly deer' (yeah, they were moose) when I woke up before the rest of my family and snuck out of the trailer. Anyway, there was an occassion when I had to take my younger sister to the outhouse. She hated the outhouse and was terrified that she would fall in. So, she's crying the whole time she's doing her business, and all I want to do is get her to shut up. I hustle her out of the outhouse... right into the midst of a flock of wild turkeys! Ok, so it wasn't a flock... it was a mother and her brood of chicks. All I saw was feathers, beaks and those beady little eyes! I dragged my sister back into the outhouse, where she started to scream again. Meanwhile, I'm having heart palpitations and hyperventilating. Eventually the poor turkeys went on their way, but it was a harrowing few minutes.

My biological mom likes birds a lot. When I was in my mid-teen years, she decided to keep cockatiels as pets. And as you can probably guess, she like to let them out to fly around the apartment. Guess who locked herself in her bedroom?

The city which I refer to as my hometown is known for the multitude of quail that live in the hills. There are restaurants and golf courses named for the silly things. I loved to watch them from my front window. They were everywhere, in huge flocks (I mean hundreds of them). They particularly like low-lying shrubbery and dense bushes, just like several of my neighbours had in their front yards. I can't even begin to count the number of times I was terrified out of my mind by the whole flock taking flight at the same time as I would walk to the bus stop. Imagine the sound of more than a hundred little birds, exploding out of the cedar hedge less than three feet away from you... *shudder* Terrifying, I can assure you!

The last bird-story I want to share is from my time in Florida. Now, I clearly didn't think things through when I decided to accept a job with a church just outside Orlando. I mean, where do all the little (and not so little) birdies go in the winter? South! And where is Florida? South... almost as far south as you can get and still be in North America.

One day I was working in my office, typing away, when I see a shadow go past my window. I glance to my left, expecting to see one of the pastors or one of the teachers from the school our church supported walking by. Was it a person? NO! It was a sandhill crane. Looking in my window at me. Watching me. Can we say panic attack, kids?

Now, if you don't know about sandhill cranes, let me educate you. These are big BIG birds. The one outside my window was almost as tall I am (granted, my hobbit-ish stature doesn't lend itself to comparisons with big scary birds, but you get the idea). It's head was about the size of my fist and it's beak looked at least a mile long. They generally have a wingspan of somewhere between 6 and 7 feet. They mate for life. They are very territorial. VERY territorial.

This particular sandhill crane that was staring at me was one of a pair. That's right... they had chosen the soccer field right outside my office as their nesting ground. I was trapped in my office (my only door exitted right out onto the soccer field). I called up to the main office to advise them of the situation, trying to sound calm and professional and generally not like I was going to have a panic attack. Then I closed the blinds and attempted to put the birds out of my mind. The kids in the school had to stay inside for recess that day. Animal control was summarily called and they dispatched a crew to come and remove the monstrous beasts. Eventually I felt safe enough to leave my office.

Now, before you ask... yes, I was subjected to that awful movie "The Birds" by some friends when I was in high school. The stuff of my nightmares, I assure you. But I did enjoy "March of the Penguins" very much (except for the scenes with other birds attacking the babies). Go figure.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Internal Voice of Optimism

With both of our previous pregnancies, I disregarded what is considered sage advice, and made baby related purchases in the first trimester. If I were someone who believed in jinxes, then I would say that I wouldn't buy another blessed baby item until I have that long awaited little one in my arms needing as-yet-unpurchased diapers.

When pregnant the first time, with Emily, I purchased a couple Be.lla bands early on. Then my boss and his wife were getting rid of their car seat & stroller, and as it was only two years old I jumped at the chance to save some money. The week after we bought it from them, I miscarried.

When pregnant the second time, with Olivia, I was pretty determined to not purchase anything baby related until that mythical second trimester. Buuuut... I was doing some window shopping in a baby/toy store and there was a play pen (does anyone else find it funny they call them play yards now?) from a great name brand on sale for half price. Well I couldn't pass that up, right? Again, the week after I bought it, we found out I was going to miscarry.

There were also the sweet little stuffed elephants, that would go so perfectly in how I have envisioned the nursery. And don't even ask me about books... it's an occupational hazard. I bought all kinds of books. I'm really looking forward to someday being able to read them all past the 8 or 10 week mark.

After our second loss (right after the last u/s that showed no hope), I was adamant I was going to sell all the baby stuff we had accumulated. I felt that I couldn't bring myself to really look at it any more. I wanted to throw away all the free samples I had received and I wanted to tear the mocking little faces off those stuffed elephants. My beloved, ever patient and a voice of reason, asked me to wait. We got home from that ultrasound, and he went and closed the door to the spare room where all of these items were stored. And that was the end of that... for about a month.

Together, we decided that the time had come to sort through the spare room. It was tough, but he took charge of all the baby stuff, tucking it away in the closet, while I took care of the boxes that had never been unpacked from when we moved in. Now, every time one of those freebies that I signed up for arrives in the mail, he just takes them and tucks them inside the car seat. Have I mentioned how blessed I am to have him?

So... a couple of weeks ago we got a whole new line of baby gift product at our store. As I was helping sort through it, I came across something I had been looking for in both of my previous pregnancies. They are frames... white frames designed specifically for u/s pictures... with the phrase "Love At First Sight" on them.

Without even thinking, I grabbed three and stashed them on my desk with my stack of books to buy. A couple days later, I almost put them back out on the sales floor. This was before my HSG, when I was still in that waiting period when I 'knew' they were going to find a septum or something else equally devastating to my dream of being a mother. Finally, I just grabbed them and made the purchase. When I came home from work, I handed the bag to my beloved, and he stashed them in the 'usual place'.

Call it hope, call it my internal voice of optimism, call it delusional behavior... I am feeling ok about it all. I'm feeling hope, for what feels like the first time in months. I know that this tww (two week wait for the un-initiated) will likely end in a BFN, but for now I am hopeful.

And I'm enjoying being in this hopeful place.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Show & Tell: Two Whole Years

This is my first time participating in Mel's Show and Tell... so I hope I do this right. :)

This week we are celebrating our second anniversary. I can't believe that it's been two years already! I am so blessed!

I decided to share a few random pictures from our wedding. These are all things that illustrate the theme of our day... whimsy! As you can likely already tell, I chose red and white for our main colours for the wedding (with a little yellow and orange thrown in for contrast).

We wanted our special day to reflect us... and as neither of us is particularly elegant or sophisticated we thought that trying to be that way at our wedding would be silly. Most of all, we just wanted to be relaxed and have fun!

Instead of a wedding cake, I chose to do cupcakes! Not only was it a whole heck of a lot cheaper than a wedding cake, but it set the mood entirely. And they tasted great (even if the red icing did stain my niece's face).

Instead of having fancy little bags of almonds or other froo-froo favours to give away, we had a candy buffet. At the end of the Valentine candy season, I stocked up on cinnamon hearts, candy hearts(the ones with little messages on them), jelly beans, chocolate kisses, and m & m's.

We had little red and white chinese food take out boxes with our 'Thank You' tags attached with our signature red and white polka-dot ribbon. Everyone was able to choose what they liked and have their own little stash of treats for the end of the night.

Our service was presided over by a wonderful lady who is a children's pastor. We were fortunate enough to be able to have the service in the church building where I grew up (even tho I no longer attended there). Pastor J, who presided, chose to use "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" as a part of her sermon. It was absolutely perfect and a total fluke!

My niece, R, was our flower girl. When we went looking for her dress, I had no real picture in my head as to what I wanted for her. But when we saw her dress... white and foofy, with red rose petals in the skirt... I fell in love! And so did she! She was a real trooper that day, four years old and trying on dress after dress. Seeing as she had flowers on her dress, I chose for her to carry a bouquet of lollipops. She was very excited, until she found out that she was going to have to share them with her brother, N. N served as a very special usher (I think that almost six is too old to be a ring bearer, so he walked my grandmothers, and my mom to their seats).

The last picture I want to share is one of my favourites from that day. We had the majority of our pictures taken at a park in my hometown... and as it was April, the trees were just starting to bud and leaf out. The grass was particularly soft yet, and that combined with my aversion to high heels, I quickly changed from my pretty strappy sandals, to a pair of platform flip-flops (totally hidden by my dress). As we made our way around the park that afternoon, me fighting with my dress and veil, my beloved was extremely helpful... he carried my shoes and my little handbag without embarassment and in true manly style.

I love remembering that day. It went by so fast! I loved every minute of it. I'm so thankful to have such a wonderful man in my life... supporting me through all our ups and downs. He is my best friend, my soulmate, my beloved.

Don't forget to stop by Mel's to check out what the rest of the class is showing this week!

Good Friday

Most of you by now have figured out that my faith is an important part of my life. I just wanted to take a moment and mention how thankful I am for Christ's sacrifice.

I know that it's generally not considered politically correct to talk about the crucifixion, about the pain and the shame of it all. But it is impossible for me to truly revel in the joy of Easter Sunday, unless we experience the darkness and void of Good Friday. Today our pastor talked about the events of that day, more than two thousand years ago, when our world changed... and when Jesus said "It is finished", it wasn't a concession speech admitting defeat... it was a cry of victory.

It's only when you are immersed in darkness that you truly learn to appreciate the light.

Blessed Easter weekend to you all!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kitchen Adventures Volume 2

Good evening humble readers!

I have been remiss in writing this Kitchen Adventures post... so remiss that I'm throwing in a third recipe heretofore unmentioned... I will also apologize for the lack of 'food p@rn' as I have recently heard it called. Now that we have a new camera, I will be sure to take pics of all the groovy new recipes I try or come up with.

Just a reminder, I don't measure much when I cook. All measurements listed are approximate. Use what you feel is best.

So, without further ado...

Three Cheese Tortellini with Creamy Chicken Pesto Sauce
  • 1 family sized package Three Cheese Tortellini (like Oli.vieri)
  • 1 chicken breast per person
  • 2 cups sliced or quartered fresh button mushrooms
  • 1/3 - 2/3 cup half and half cream (depending on how 'saucy' you like your pasta)
  • 3 heaping tbsp of your favourite basil pesto (someday I will try to make my own)
  • 1 small onion minced
  • grill seasoning
  • grated Parmesan cheese
Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle with grill seasoning, and saute over medium-high heat in a large skillet until browned. Reduce heat, and add mushrooms and onion to pan, and saute until tender. Add cream to skillet, just to warm through and reduce slightly. Prepare pasta according to package directions. When pasta is cooked and drained, return it to the warm pot. Add the pesto to the cream and chicken/mushroom mixture. (Do not do this earlier, as the basil in the pesto may turn black if heated too much.) Stir until combined and then pour sauce over the pasta. Stir gently to coat and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese.

Balsamic Roast Beef
  • 1 beef roast (whatever cut you like... altho, an inexpensive cut would work best)
  • 1.5 - 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine beef stock and balsamic vinegar in the bottom of a roasting pan. Use the smallest pan you have that will fit the roast. Sprinkle the roast with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Put the roast into the roasting pan, with the fatty side up (if it has a fatty side). Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid or aluminum foil. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the roast, and how well done you like it. I prefer my roast on the rare side so an hour to an hour and a half will usually be enough. Baste the roast two or three times during the cooking process. When the roast reaches the desired doneness, remove from the pan, cover with foil and allow to rest. The remaining drippings and balsamic vinegar make an incredible gravy when thickened with cornstarch or flour. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies... and yorkshire puddings if you like!

Southwestern Cheddar Burgers
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/3 cup salsa (however hot you like)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • sliced cheddar cheese (for melting on top of the burgers)
Combine all ingredients except for the sliced cheese in a large bowl. Do not over mix. Divide the mix into 6 equal parts and form into patties. Grill or fry in a large skillet until almost cooked through. Add sliced cheese to each burger and allow to melt. Serve on crusty rolls (sourdough is great) with spicy mustard, lettuce and tomato. These are great with oven fries and a cool salad.

That's it. I told you they were way to easy! Coming up in a future Kitchen Adventure: Easter dinner - Slow Roasted Mediterranean Leg of Lamb, Greek Roasted Potatoes, and asparagus.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ladies & Gentlemen: We are experiencing technical difficulties. PLEASE STAND BY

Right off the top... for the few readers of my blog who do not care to know about the workings of my plumbing (you know who you are), I encourage you to stop back in tomorrow, when I promise I will post the recipes I mentioned during ICLW last month.


So today was the day. HSG. For the last week I have been experiencing some nervousness and mild anxiety about the test. It was even sneaking into my dreams. Very creepy!

On the advice of several com padres in the world of IF, I remembered to take a couple of extra strength ibu.profen before the test. (And boy am I glad I did) My beloved dropped me off at the hospital (I decided I was a big enough girl to go to this test on my own) on his way back to the office after lunch.

I came prepared with a book as I usually end up waiting quite a bit for appointments like this. It turns out I didn't need it. I only ended up sitting in the waiting room for 5 minutes. I was taken through the maze-like hallways of the diagnostic imaging department, given the requisite unflattering gown and a key to a locker in which to stow my belongings. The nurse brought me some paperwork and before I even had a chance to fill in the three check boxes and sign my name, she was back to take me into the room.

Get this, the one question on the form that was most important was the one question I couldn't remember the answer to... and for a woman who has been tracking her cycles for the last year it really is quite ridiculous... what was the first day of my last menstrual cycle? I wracked my brain. I tried counting backwards because I knew that today was CD 11, and that's when the dyslexia-monster kicked in and I couldn't figure it out come love nor money. I actually had to go back to the locker they assigned me, and somehow manage to dig my phone out of my purse to check the calendar, all the while attempting to hold the back of my wretched gown closed and not drop the questionaire OR my underwear OR the pad I had been told to bring with me.

The nurse led me across the hall into a room that was sporting a retro 1960's decor, complete with pistachio green paint, ugly florescent lighting, and an ancient looking x-ray machine. The nurse was getting the table prepped for me and soon after my OB came in. Climbing on to the table whilst holding things closed was challenging, especially for one of my hobbit-ish stature. A stool was required and I almost lost my balance when I sat down.

I laid back, did the required bending of the knees, and Dr U got to work. I can honestly say that I didn't expect it to hurt quite that much. I was fine with the initial cranking open of things, but the catheter was a not so pleasant experience. After the initial cramping subsided, I was ok though.

So, I'm laying there... my business all cranked open and there for the world to see. The nurse paged the radiologist, and Dr. U tried to make small talk. How can one make small talk when their internal bits are out there in front of God and everyone? I ask you! The radiologist arrived and things got underway... sort of.

The monitor by my head clicked on, and the table started to move into place under the x-ray machine. There was much clicking of buttons and turning off and turning on of the monitor. I'm trying to simply stare at the ceiling and think about anything other than what's going on. Finally I'm told that there is something wrong with the monitor, and it will be but a moment before things get underway.

No less than seven different nurses and technicians come in and out of the room to investigate what's going on with the monitor. Thankfully, after the first tech arrived, Dr. U was kind enough to drape my lower half with a sheet. Still, it was a very disconcerting experience.

After ten minutes, it was determined that the monitor was a goner. We would have to change rooms. Dr. U removed the catheter and cranked things closed again (am I the only one who feels like a car getting jacked up to have a tire changed?), all the while I am trying not to let on that it hurts like hell. Once I manage to get myself off the table I am taken, with all my sundry belongings, I am led out of the room and down another hall.

The new room is the polar opposite of the one I was just in. Modern looking equipment, monitors on this crazy arm thing that can swing around the table, and something resembling contemporary decor. The only thing out of place was the lunch on the counter belonging to the nurse who had just been shoo'd out of the room.

After getting on to the table, being sufficiently cranked and catheter-ed, they proceeded with the test. I could see on the monitor as the dye filled my uterus and was truly impressed. My doc was initially very happy with what he was seeing. No septum at all. Yay!

Then the radiologist called him into the little booth. They conferred for a moment, and then Dr. U came back out. He pointed out a little shadow on the right side of my uterus. Apparently, I have a small spot of scar tissue or a little polyp.
Me being a worrier, I immediately start thinking the worst. Dr. U is convinced that if it is scar tissue it is likely from my D&C back in September, but that it is nothing to be concerned about. It's not holding the walls of the uterus together. The only problem it could pose would be if an eggie tried to implant right in that particular spot (statistically not impossible, but not very likely), in which case I would end up with either a chemical pregnancy or another blighted ovum.


Basically, I don't feel any further along this road than I did when I woke up this morning. I mean, I'm thrilled that there is no septum. Only, now I need to ponder...

Am I ready to face the potential grief of another miscarraige? I think so.
Will I ever feel 100% ready to face another miscarraige? Probably not.
Will I feel guilty if we get pregnant and end up losing another baby? Most likely.
Will I ever be in a place where I won't feel guilty if it happens again? Not likely.

I think I know my answer, but I'm looking for input.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lemonade Award

I just received my first award and I am just thrilled. ;)

Thanks so much to Just Me over at Can You Imagine for the Lemonade Award! This award is to recognize great attitude or gratitude, and her blog is certainly a prime example of both.

So here's how it works:

1. Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate blogs that show great attitude or gratitude
3. Link to your nominees within your post
4. Let the nominees know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award

Ok... so now my nominees!

1. Eve at Infertility Rocks! (check out her gratitude list for her tww)
2. Alana at Alana-isms
3. Lindsay at Determined to be An Old Woman With No Regrets
4. Erica at Learnng to Accept My Infertility
5. Mrs. Joyner at Trying to Make 3

It was hard to pick just five out of so many wonderful blogs! I am so thankful that I have found this community. The support, encouragement, and the laughs are priceless!

Emily Hope

Today is what was my estimated due date for our first little one.

I can't help but think about what she would have been like... her personality, her eyes, her little fingers and toes. It's funny, I don't really have a mental image of her, like I do for Olivia. I can't help but think about what my life would have been like if she were here now. *sigh*

I'm sad, and the grief is still there... just not so sharp edged as it was. My life is a good one. I have a wonderful loving husband (who willingly does the laundry), a good secure job (even if I do complain sometimes), and I'm healthy (weight and fertility issues notwithstanding). We are proud owners of our little condo and Petey the PT cruiser is paid for. Both our families are healthy and happy. We have started to look forward to other things... other than a baby that is... a trip to visit my parents in the early summer, and our much-delayed honeymoon in NYC.

But those little bean-shaped holes in my heart are still there. I don't imagine they will ever go away. I don't want them to go away.