Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Going through the Motions

When I started my FET cycle, I intentionally did not put my name on cyclesisters or post my news on Mel's "Lost and Found". I didn't want people coming by to check on what was going on, feeling like I was their daily entertainment and not leaving a comment. I do periodically check my statcounter and I've seen the numbers increase when I'm cycling. I wanted to hear from the women who have been following along and who would leave supportive comments. Thank you for those comments and e-mails. They have been helping me get through.

This cycle has been particularly challenging for me emotionally. I've had to re-live some of the trauma I previously experienced. I've had to examine my regrets. When I mentioned the post about peeing on sticks from The School of Hard Knocked-Up, I didn't expand on her suggestion of having a Plan B. I don't really have a Plan B. The whole fertility treatment nightmare has been so hard on me that I don't know that I could emotionally stand another IVF cycle. One Plan B scenario would look like this: IVF cycle with CGH, which would involve another FET since all the embryos have to be frozen while waiting for the test results. Maybe I could handle one more IVF cycle, but another frozen cycle on top of that? And I may have to do another clomid challenge. If I can't talk my doctor out of that, I may bail on the whole thing. I feel like another clomid challenge would be a waste of eggs, and I don't think I have that many good ones left.

Why am I talking about all this? I woke up this morning and peed, feeling confident that I was not going to POAS. I went back to bed, and eventually, a panic attack came 'round. I don't know what started it, but I tend to get them in the mornings. Then, I started having AF-like cramps again, and I needed to know. I did pee on a stick, actually two sticks, and they did come up negative. Maybe things could turn around, but these cramps just feel like the hormones are postponing the inevitable. I hope I'm wrong. I have no intuition about this because the hormones just mess with that. I'm in the familiar awful cycle of hope and despair.

The thing is, through all this, I've fallen in love with my spirit_baby. I know I'll be heartbroken if she doesn't come. I know that it may be that the embryos just weren't good enough and it has nothing to do with her. Since I have no Plan B, I know this may be it. The end of the road of trying. There is no hope for a chance pregnancy because the vasectomy my husband had 15 years ago was successful. There are no sperm. I've hoped for a miracle, but it isn't going to happen. I've given up hope that he will have a reverse vasectomy. I won't go into the anger I have about that, not that it would be a guarantee anyways. I never wanted to do any of this, the shots, the doctors visits, the emotional turmoil. I've hated it but muddled through.

I understand more than I care to, yet I know nothing. I feel like I'm just going through the motions now with the medications. It is completely out of my control, not that I really had any to begin with, though it's a nice fantasy. Thanks for listening to me vent.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hot and Bothered

The Hot Flash Queen, Mrs. Duck, is apparently correct. I assumed that hot flashes mean you are deficient in some kind of hormone, presumably estrogen. I never got my hormone levels when they drew my blood last week before my transfer. I just assumed that I didn't need to worry about numbers when I got the message that everything looked good. Apparently, I have enough estrogen to supply a support group for menopausal women for a month, by my meager calculations. My E2 was just about as high as it was for my IVF cycle, just shy of 2000. I think that's crazy, and if I end up not pregnant, I'm gonna have a hellava hormone crash.

My nurse confirmed with me that the hormone fluctuations are what cause the hot flashes. She didn't seem concerned about it, so why should I? Because I keep getting these AF-like cramps. What would cause the hormone fluctuations? Implantation? I don't know, but that's pretty late for implantation - 5 days after transfer? I think last time I implanted 4 days after transfer, from my symptoms.

So what did I do yesterday but walked to the store to buy some evil pee sticks. Of course I could not wait to try one. That's like buying a chocolate bar and not eating any of it for 4 days. And of course it came up negative in the middle of the day after I had just peed an hour earlier 5 days after transfer and quite possibly the same day as implantation (?). My internal brain was eating crow, as I know I have told many a woman who has done the same thing that it's too early! It's my 2ww and I'll pee on a stick if I want to!! I've also optimistically told many women that AF-like cramps can also mean you are pregnant. Apparently, that optimism does not extend to hormonal moi.

After that lovely POAS experience and the weeping that eventually ensued that night and this morning, I have sworn off the evil sticks...until Thursday morning. Nishkanu has a great post about peeing on sticks. I agree with her that one should not POAS until as close to beta as possible, as in the morning of, but I could not wait. Now that I have had the negative reinforcement shock therapy, I am not going to drive myself crazy for the next two days.

Here's a great story. I have a friend here who has been my cycle buddy. She did her transfer with DE at BigShotFertilityClinic a week before mine. She was peeing on some cheapo sticks she bought last year, and they kept coming up negative. To torture her more, she had to wait an extra day to get her beta because of our blizzard. When she tested negative yet again the day of her beta, she was sure she was not pregnant. Not only did her beta come back positive, but it's so high that we are sure she's pregnant with twins.

I hope that my rising hCG is inversely proportional to the height of snow in my backyard, which is melting quickly!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Talk to Me

All us who have been through it know that the 2ww sucks, but one does not know how much it sucketh until in it. Here's the thing. I'm getting hot flashes. Seriously, hot flashes? Me thinks this can not be good. If anyone else has experienced the same thing and had a BFP, please let me know. I'm confused, and my mind dwells on doom. What is the medical explanation?

It's going to be a long five days.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gluten Free Fridays: Snow & Soup

Backyard blizzard; 1.5 feet of snow falls on March 26th

After a temporary hiatus, Gluten Free Fridays is back. Magic made me this soup while I was on bedrest. While the snow was falling yesterday, I was dining on leftovers. To think, just a week ago I was having lunch with RetroGirl and we decided not to sit on the restaurant patio because it would have been too hot in the sun!!

I hadn't made this recipe in years. Magic dug it up in a binder I have of photocopies of recipes. My notes on the recipe say it's from the premier issue of the magazine Eating Well from 1990. I was in Africa at the time, but my mom found the recipe. For my mom's short falls, she always was a great cook. She also supported me when I was a vegetarian and found this great recipe. It's one worth sharing.

Meatless Harira
(Moroccan Ramadan Soup)

I lived with Muslims in West Africa (not Morocco). In Islam, Ramadan is the month of fasting. It's a lot like Lent, but more intense. During the daylight hours, one could not ingest anything, not food, water, or smoke, and no sex. After sundown, people would feast. We had ice during Ramadan, which is a big deal in a village without electricity or running water. It was brought in by pickup in the late afternoon insulated in woodshavings. While part of the purpose of Ramadan is to practice humility, we ate some of our best meals during that month. Of course, you can eat this soup anytime.

The traditional version of this Moroccan soup contains lamb and sometimes chicken, as well as beans, herbs and vegetables. The chickpeas can be substituted for the beans.

1/2 cup dried chick peas or 1 cup canned chickpeas
1/2 cup dried white beans, like great northern beans, or 1 cup of canned equivalent
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
3/4 cup chopped celery leaves and ribs
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes well-drained and chopped
3/4 cup lentils
salt to taste
1/2 cup gluten-free spaghetti, broken into small pieces
(the original recipe calls for fine vermicelli)
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Soak beans overnight or use quick-soak method; cover beans with water three times their volume, bring to a boil and boil gently for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain and set aside. Or just used canned beans, drained and rinsed.

Heat olive oil over low heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot and saute onion over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes. Add celery, parsley, cilantro, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, saffron, and ginger and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. Add chickpeas and white beans to the pot, along with the lentils and 2 1/2 quarts water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the lentils and beans are thoroughly tender. Season to taste with salt and more pepper. Mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon to thicken the broth slightly.

About 5 minutes before serving, remove 1/2 cup soup from the pot and set aside to cool. Stir spaghetti into the pot. Meanwhile, mix together egg and lemon. When the spaghetti is cooked, turn off the heat. Gradually add egg-lemon mixture to the cooled 1/2 cup soup and quickly stir into soup. Garnish with lemon slices and chopped cilantro.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Transfer Details

I was kicking myself that I hadn't figured out the right day for the new moon, which is actually today. Somehow, I screwed it up and thought it was Tuesday, the day of my transfer. The new moon is the special time that I am most fertile in my cycle. It has something to do with the phase of the moon when I was born. A big snow storm threatened for Tuesday, but it totally missed us and it turned out to be a lovely sunny spring day. A second storm is hitting us now. After months of drought and one piddly snowfall, we desperately need this. I intentionally kept my snow tires on my car in case we had to drive down to The Mall in a snow storm. So I guess I'm glad we didn't have our transfer today or tomorrow to avoid this nasty weather.

As you know, I'm not particularly fond of The Mall, my nickname for the BigShotFertilityClinic HQ. I enjoy it even less after our transfer, but I made the best of it. First, The Mall looks all mall-like in the hallways, but once you go in to get your blood drawn or to the "Surgery Center", it feels like a freaking hospital. With all the money they spent on this place, I would have picked a better interior decorator. First, calling the place where you get retrievals and transfers a "Surgery Center" is not all that comforting. It was nice to have everything brought to us in our special little transfer room, but the thing felt like a cave and a hospital room all rolled into one. I suppose I could pretend like the brown walls and the windows that were too high to look out of were like planting seeds in the soil, but I was so happy to get home to my own bed after laying on the hospital bed made for midgets for over an hour. I'm not that tall and my feet were hanging off the edge getting cold.

Dr. BloSunMyCha was a ray of sunshine, as usual, during the transfer. Even his sparkly white teeth radiated! It was surreal seeing the image of our embryos projected on the flat screen monitor. After a parade of nurses that came through when we initially arrived in our transfer room, they did finally leave us alone. I asked to wait to take the valium until we had talked with our doctor. Then, no one remembered to give it to me later. I'm glad I wasn't all doped up on valium, though I was open to taking it. I was a nervous wreck when I woke up. I was having palpatations in my acupuncturist's office that morning, but a half hour after the acupuncture, I was all calm and mellow again. After I told the doc I was fine after the acupuncture, it's like he didn't care if I took the valium. I guess they are used to their patients who do have acupuncture being calm. Passing on the valium allowed me to be present to my spirit_baby in the "earthy" transfer room. I was chanting away to Deva Premal's version of "Om Namo Bhagavate" in our hour of rest time after transfer, which I think of as the Divine Love song, sending divine love to the Snow Peas. I love the images someone put together in this YouTube video. This is what I was chanting:

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

The good news is that the Snow Peas thawed just fine. I was told the grading is different on frozen embryos. Ours had 80% cell survival. Anything above 70% is considered good. My first thought was, what happens to the other 20%? Since the cells are not differentiated at this point in the embryo, it's not like you lose an arm or a leg. Still, it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Twenty percent sounds like a lot. I suppose the numbers don't really mean much on the big scheme of things. I'll try not to worry.

I loved the image from your last comments about seeds taking root. I will visualize that today when I'm sending implantation energy to our spirit_baby. It takes time for the little sprout to emerge from it's seed, just like the embryo has to hatch out of it's zona pellucida at the blastocyst stage. Although I'm "officially" done with bed rest, I think I'll go back to bed. Thanks for all your well wishes. It does raise my spirits.

At this point there doesn't seem to be much to do anymore, except continuing to send love to our spirit_baby. You know what I'll be chanting!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Ice Princess Melt-eth

I really enjoyed all the comments on my last blog post. I was laughing at all the creative entries. Thank you everyone for helping me keep this light and fun! I really struggled with which name to choose for our totsicles (Dora, I like that too). I liked Snow Angel (Onwards and Sideways gets Honorable Mention as a close second), Yukiko, Flurry, Ben & Jerry (even though I was really looking for girl names), and Alpine. In the end, I picked totally different names.

I had one last trauma therapy appointment tonight before our transfer. I learned that part of what we do to integrate the trauma is to touch on the bad feelings from the trauma, then go to something that makes me feel good. I focused today on my garden. My hand hurt today from the power gardening I was trying to get in yesterday before I won't be able to do that kind of physical labor for awhile. This is the first year I have gotten my peas seeded before the end of March. "Peas in by St. Patrick's Day," is what I have always heard. I was a few days late, but I got it done. It's just as well that I did not get them in sooner, as we might get some snow tonight. I moved back and forth between the nasty feelings of the trauma to the wonderful feelings of my garden last year. In the aftermath of our loss, I poured all my creative energy into my garden, the best garden I have ever had. I recalled the awe inspiring encounters I had with the hummingbirds that would check me out at close range in the garden last year. I'm still feasting on frozen pesto from last year's monstrous basil harvest, and I just dug up the carrots that I left over the winter.

As I was talking to my trauma therapist, I started to think of the frozen embryo transfer as planting peas. I didn't plant just any kind of pea seeds yesterday. I planted snow peas. There was the name. My embryos are named Snow Peas! I decided that they would have the same name, because you can't plant just one pea.

I leave you with a picture of the sweet snow peas I harvested last fall. I'll be taking a break from the computer for a few days. In the meanwhile, I'll be off tending to my garden and my newly planted snow peas!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

You Know Your FET is Getting Closer When...

10. Your needle sizes get larger.
9. The PIO needle starts looking more like a subcutaneous shot than a whale harpoon.
8. You look at the freezer-burnt buns in your freezer and hope your embryos will fare better.
7. Working in the office consists of checking IF blogs every hour.
6. You spend more time worrying than getting poked by needles or didlo-cams.
5. Hurry up and wait turns into "OMG, so soon"?!
4. When your husband asks, "how was your day, honey?" you no longer respond with, "eat sh*t and die!!"
3. You are starting to look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy Girl.
2. One minute you are crying because you know this is going to fail, and the next minute you are fantasizing about jumping on couches when you find out you are pregnant.
1. You think of cute names for your frozen embryos, like Snowflake, Nannook, and Frosty.

Which officially kicks off the "Name Phoebe's Frozen Embryos" contest. The winner will get one of their choosing:

Door #1. Phoebe's positive pee-stick, made of the finest plastic from Taiwan.
Door #2. Snowcone from authentic Rocky Mountain snow (we'll try to avoid the yellow stuff).
Door #3. Mystery gift.

Leave your:
1) "You know your FET is getting closer when..."
2) Frozen Embryo Name(s) - no more than two
3) and choice of gift in the comments!
Two winners are possible!

Game on Tuesday, March 24th!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Into the Heart of the Beast

Actual conversation at Big-Shot-Fertility-Clinic:

Me: I really like these John_Fielder photos they have here. Our old clinic didn't have anything nearly as nice.

Magic: Yeah, they are gorgeous.

Me: They couldn't have been cheap (these photos are at least 4'x5'). How much do you think they cost?

Magic: At least two or three IVF cycles.

Me: Baahaahaa!

Today was the big move of the embryos from our old fertility clinic to the "new" big-shot-fertility-clinic. The conversation above took place at our cozy local satellite office, which is nothing like HQ big-shot-fertility-clinic in the big city nearby. I had heard a nick name for this place alluding to a place where kings live, but I have a new one. We walked in and the obligatory large water fountain greets your entrance. I immediately noticed the cheesy mall type music piped in all over the place. We went upstairs to wait for our shipping tank, and I could look over the balcony and watch the nervous couples sign their consent forms. I felt like I was in a friggin' mall, the music and all! They even have a "food court" with a flat screen TV! So I named this place "The Mall". It even looks like a big box store from the outside. It's really weird and not nearly as nice as our friendly local satellite office.

Our consent forms to transfer our embryos were equally weird had me in a panic the last couple of weeks. The first line says,

"While Big-Shot-Fertility-Clinic-Lab does not recommend transferring embryos from one Center to another, there are circumstances which warrant transporting patient's embryos to another program."

Gasp!! I know this is CYA, but still, I was freaking out. What had we done? Dr. BloSunMyCha reassured me that they do this kind of thing all the time. Were we putting our embryos at risk? The third line of the consent really made me second guess our decision to move our embryos:

"Embryos must be transported in a special "Dry Shipper" and it is possible for the dry shipper to fail or for the nitrogen vapors to drain out should the shipper not be placed upright. Should the embryos thaw during shipping, they will be non-viable."

I almost had a heart attack. Luckily, it is very handy to have a husband that works with liquid nitrogen tanks. He assured me that I had a greater chance of being hit by lightening than having our tank fall over and all the liquid nitrogen vapors drain out. Once we did pick up the tank, I realized that a dry shipper is very safe, even if it does tip over. The liquid nitrogen in a dry shipper is absorbed into it's walls, so there is very little liquid nitrogen left in the tank to spill out. Below is what the shipper looked like from the outside.

Magic was miffed that it didn't have wheels, like his. The protector symbol from my patronus on top of the tank is mine, not the lab's! I had to move one of the seats from the back of my car to brace the shipping tank - one of the other things I love about my new car, removable back seats! The actual tank is inside, and I didn't want to take a picture of it for fear of any cold vapors escaping!

I had hoped that I could have moved my embryos without having to talk to anyone at my old clinic. Such was not the case, unfortunately, but I was able to do it all over e-mail. The embryologist at my old clinic wrote me, "sorry to see you are moving to another program." This set off a whole slew of emotions and confirmed for me the reason I couldn't go back there. What I wanted to say to her was, "remember that e-mail you sent me that said, 'our job is to just get you pregnant, so sorry about what happened to you'?" or "you failed to have me sign some critical consent forms that should have warned us of the risks we were getting into" or "you fucking lying whore-bitch, I hope you rot in hell!!" At least we had ad nauseum consent warnings from the big-shot-fertility-clinic, hence the reason we turned down assisted hatching. We do not want to have any more procedures done to our embryos that may cause them to split. There was a bit of an uncomfortable moment when we first met the embryologist to retrieve our embryos and the remainder of Magic's 15 year old sperm. It was a brief stay, and we went on our merry way after she showed us the straw that the embryos are stored in and the two vials of remaining sperm, cursing her in my mind as we left.

I was really glad I got to personally talk to the man who will be responsible for handling our embryos. I gave him the 30 second version of our story, so he would understand our situation and hopefully prevent what happened last time. While I was pretty stressed about moving our embryos, it turned out to be relatively trivial. Magic got a snack from the "food court" before we left, and we fortuitously were able to meet Arpee from The Saga of Being Fruitful and her husband for a brief rendezvous in the parking lot on our way out. It was a nice touch of comfort after being all wound up about a potential disaster. What better place to meet your fellow blogger than at The Mall?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Show & Tell: The Ring


Part of working with trauma is to find resources. These are resources that you find supportive and help you when you are feeling a trauma response. One of my resources is this ring:

The ring has two purposes. This is my great-grandmother's, but I more associate it with my maternal grandmother. The ring reminds me of all the nurturing that my Italian grandmother gave to me as a child. The ring and how it got here has an interesting story. My great-grandmother, who also was from Italy, came to this country with her husband. She sent her husband back to Italy to sell some land she owned and to bring the money back. He ended up bringing back this stunning diamond and sapphire ring instead. She was very angry with him because, as she said, "I can't eat that ring!" They ended up getting divorced.

My great-grandmother lived with her daughter-in-law, my grandmother who also immigrated from Italy. My grandfather, who was 1st generation Italian-American, whisked my grandmother away from Italy after knowing her for three weeks and not speaking any Italian. My grandmother did not speak English and did not learn English until my mother went to school. My grandfather was known as "the American" to the Italians, and he was my grandmother's ticket out of poverty in Italy to a better life in America. She got the ring from her mother-in-law, she gave it to my mother, and my mother gave it to me when she got too fat to wear it. As the youngest in a family of six who usually gets worn out hand-me-downs, this is one I cherish.

Coming into the Present

The second purpose of the ring is to serve as a distraction. When you are experiencing trauma, you are not present. You focus on the trauma as if it was happening now. The ring and other things that catch my eye serve to bring me back into the present. When you experience trauma, you get extremely focused. You focus only on the trauma. The point of looking around is to see the bigger picture and to focus on other things. It also helps me realize that I am not actually experiencing the trauma right now, though that is what my brain keeps replaying.

I have been struggling with re-living the trauma of my past pregnancy and loss as I get closer to our FET transfer. Some days are better than others when I am not identified with the trauma. Other days, something sets me off and I'm stuck in this doom-n-gloom feeling. The "Dream Team" that I posted about previously are part of my pool of resources. The ring reminds me of my other guardian angel, my grandmother.

Angels sponsored by Mel's Show and Tell.

Friday, March 13, 2009

How You Can Help

I have intentionally not been posting all the gory details of the ups and downs of this FET cycle for me. I want to focus on the positive. Even though I am struggling with past memories of my traumatic pregnancy, I chose not to identify with that. One way not to identify with that is for me not to write about it here. I realize that this may be frustrating for you, my reader, because your natural inclination is to want to help. How can you help me if I'm not telling you what is happening during this cycle? It is possible to be empathetic without knowing all the details.

One way you can help is by leaving a comment. It really helps, even if you have to fake something. It feels supportive to me and I don't feel that people are only commenting when I'm bitching or agonizing about something or writing about something you can relate to.

Guardian Angel (1 inch tall) on top of my closet door*

Next, I have a very specific way you can help. This was in response to a request from my friend over at GeeksInRome. Yes, it has something to do with the image above. I have posted this on my private blog for those who have access: please click here. If you do not have access to my private blog, please e-mail me at phoebephoenixtales@gmail.com and I will e-mail you the post. I thank you in advance!

I've also been just down right busy and trying to take care of myself at the same time. That doesn't leave much time for blogging, though I have half-a-dozen blog entries written in my head. All the moping (as in mope) and goofing around I did in December and January has caught up with me at work. Ok, I had a car accident in there, so I had a good excuse for some of it, but still. Our busy season at work has started, plus I want to get some gardening done before my FET. My priority right now is communicating with my spirit baby with the little time left I have in the evening to myself. Thanks for understanding. Now leave a comment, dammit! (that's the Lupron talking, really! Where's an estrogen patch when you need one?!!)

*This is a protector angel. Notice that she has a baby in her arms. Her actual size is a little over an inch tall. She's on top of the door to my closet because that is the "Children" part of our bedroom according to the Feng Shui bagua.

Another credit to Anne_Taintor for the vintage_humor above!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Calling All Angels

I was looking forward to this FET being "easy" compared to IVF, but I'd have to say that it's not. Yes, there are less shots to do and wanding and the like, but I've said before, the shots are not the hard part.

Which is why I'm looking for help wherever I can get it these days. I bought some inspirational reminders this weekend of my "army" of help. I can't always tell they are there, so it's helpful to have their representatives to cheer me up.

First up are the angels.

I've been starting at this beautiful angel with the baby in her lap at every acupuncture appointment I go to. I love her sparkly wings! I finally asked Em, my acupuncturist, where she got it. Fortunately, she bought her at a local groovy store right here in Woo-woo-ville!! She doesn't really come from here, but from here.

While I was at the local groovy store, I had to get this little figurine of my other patronus with baby patronus.

The mother owl is kinda scary looking but the baby owl was too cute to resist! I also loved the inscription that came with the owls.

Night Vision

Owl Mother teaches her
fledgling to pierce the darkness
and reveal what is hidden.

Shedding light on shadow
deepens understanding and calms fear.

This reminded me of what Walter told us that our spirit baby wanted to learn from me, so it fit perfectly.

Lastly, the Quan Yin my husband bought from me on his last trip to China. Magic and I joke that she is the finest plastic that money can buy!

"Hope" and "Courage" that flank Quan Yin were sent to me by Brenda at No Regrets. You see, I lent Brenda my Quan Yin necklace, and while her cycle was not successful, I have her lovely spirit as a support now. It's not about luck for me. It's about the heart, and Brenda's heart is big and beautiful. I will cherish carrying her love with me now in my Quan Yin necklace. Below Quan Yin are the beads I received from the women in my support group from the Blessingway we did together. I had never done a Blessingway before, and this was a powerful ceremony in which we welcomed our future children and honored the mother in all of us. I hope to do again soon.

My representatives from a mish-mash of traditions sit all together on my dresser, and I have to admit, they look kinda ridiculous together. I should spread them out in different places, but I also like to think of them as my "Dream Team".

Next up: How you can help in Calling all Angels.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I've been getting some blog-bling, and it's time to show it off. Nothing like a few good awards from fellow bloggers to make you feel good. After a craptacular start to my week, I needed a pick me up. Plus, I've been storing these up (read, procrastination). It's time to pass some of the love on.

Thanks to Clio at Dancing with Gaia for tagging me on this one.

What is expected is that I need to -
1) Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
2) Show the 7 winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with “Honest Scrap.” Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
3) List at least 10 honest things about yourself.

1. I don't like ketchup and mustard. Never have. As a kid, I always got plain hamburgers at McDonald's. For some reason, my brothers always hated me for that. Probably because they had to wait longer for their meal while they were cooking my special order.
2. I confiscated my stepson's weed stash a few weeks ago and contemplated saving it for myself, but then flushed it down the toilet. I'm kinda regretting that now!
3. If I didn't pluck my eyebrows, they would be singular. Gotta love those Italian genes!
4. The only Italian I learned from my sweet little old Italian grandmother who religiously said a rosary every night were swear words.
5. I broke my leg first time I went downhill skiing at age 12. I never learned to downhill ski, but I actually tried snowboarding a few years ago. After bruising my tailbone, I decided that wasn't so good for my fertility.
6. I hated physics and philosophy in college.
7. I wanted to be an astronomer growing up. Upon learning that astronomy is basically physics, I bailed.
8. I love reading books that are considered childrens' books or for adolescents. I read the first four Harry Potter books in 3 1/2 weeks. Hey, I had to catch up with what my husband was reading his kids when I first met them!
9. I don't dye my hair. I have very few grey hairs. Doctors either think I do dye my hair because I'm forty-two, or they think I'm younger because I don't.
10. I'm a sucker for a man with grey hair. Move over Brad Pitt, I'm more of a George Clooney kinda gal. It's one of the things that attracted me to my husband.

I'm passing this on to the following bloggers:
1. Onward and Sideways
2. Laura at Fertility Alphabet Soup
3. Dora at ISO the Golden Egg
4. Murgden at Conceive This!
5. Geohde at Mission Impossible
6. Melissa at How to Get From 0 to Pregnant in 365 Easy Steps
7. Chicklet at Bloorb

Next, thanks to the Muser at MusingsMusingsMusings for this lovely award!

To claim this most prestigious of prizes you have to answer a meme of sorts, this one with one word answers. You also have to pass it along to SEVEN other bloggers. And so:

1. Where is your cell phone? upstairs
2. Where is your significant other? here
3. Your hair color? Brown
4. Your mother? Absent
5. Your father? Co-dependent
6. Your favorite thing? food
7. Your dream last night? dreamy
8. Your dream/goal? family
9. The room you're in? office
10. Your hobby? gardening
11. Your fear? mothering
12. Where do you want to be in six years? mothering
13. Where were you last night? couch-surfing
14. What you're not? blonde
15. One of your wish list items? carpet!
16. Where you grew up? Ohio
17. The last thing you did? shots
18. What are you wearing? Car.hartts
19. Your T.V.? flat
20. Your pet? cat
21. Your computer? on
22. Your mood? stressed
23. Missing someone? daughter
24. Your car? Toyota
25. Something you're not wearing? makeup
26. Favorite store? REI
27. Your Summer? surviving
28. Love someone? Magic
29. Your favorite color? rainbow
30. When is the last time you laughed? today
31. Last time you cried? yesterday

I nominate the "I heart your blog" award to the following lovely women and man:
1. RetroGirl at Life Through My Lens
2. Ashley at Planet Davila
3. Luna at Life from Here: Musings from the edge
4. Cassandra at Baby Smiling in the Back Seat
5. Mo and Will at Life and Love in the Petri Dish
6. Loribeth at The Road Less Traveled
7. Kate at Gluten Free Gobsmacked

Finally, a big thanks to Brenda at No Regrets for giving me the "Uber Amazing Blog!" award. I'd give it to her too, but someone beat me to it! She really made my day at the time she gave me this award. It was embarrassingly too long ago to admit when she gave it to me, but thanks just the same!

Here is a little bit about the award:

The "uber" (synonym for super) is a blog award given to sites who:
- inspire you
- make you smile and laugh
- or maybe give you amazing information
- a great read
- has an amazing design
- and any other reason you can think of that makes them uber amazing!

The rules of the award are:
1-Put the logo on your blog or post.
2- Nominate at least five blogs (can be more) that for you are uber amazing.
3- Let them know that they have received this uber amazing award by commenting on their blog
4-Share the love by linking to this post and the person you received the award from.
5-The envelope please...

1. The Muser at MusingsMusingsMusings.
2. Eurydice at Geeks in Rome
3. Spicy Sister
4. The Duck's big ol' blog of how to build a nest
5. Lori at Weebles Wobblog

Choosing was difficult. There are a lot of great blogs out there. I hope all blogs will get an award at some point, if we just keep passing the good mojo on!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Show & Tell: Car Shop

Today's Show & Tell is titled Car Shop, a spoof off my favorite car radio show Car_Talk. After a fender bender in December that ended up totaling my 2000 Toyota RAV4, I was in the market for another car. I asked readers in a poll which car they think I should buy:

1) Same car as I'd had, 2000 Toyota RAV4
2) Toyota RAV4, Newer Model
3) Subaru Outback
4) Subaru Forester

Before you scroll down to the bottom and see what kind of car I ended up buying, read through this entire post. You might learn something about car safety!

I loved my old car, so my inclination was to purchase the same thing. Nobody voted for this one, which was a good idea. I decided to think like a mommy and check out what mother's recommended for safe vehicles. I found this website called MotherProof that has all kinds of car reviews. This website doesn't have any reviews of cars older than 2006, so it didn't really help me there in the used car market I was looking at. It did educate me on car safety by watching this video on crash-testing. The video was produced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). I perused their safety ratings for my 2000 Toyota RAV4, and basically learned that it was a death trap. Had I been in a serious car accident, I could have been injured for life! I also learned by comparing ratings that the government organization that does crash tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, doesn't have nearly as comprehensive testing or ratings for car safety. Lesson learned, if you want to check a car you are considering to purchase for safety ratings, go to the IIHS.

No one voted on my poll for the Subaru Outback, which was also a good idea. While the Subaru Outback and Forester have the best safety ratings out of all the compact SUVs I was looking at, I just plain didn't like driving the Outback. The Subaru Forester got second in my poll. It was OK, but I didn't like some of the features it had compared to the RAV4. I did like the 2009 Subaru Foresters, though out of my price range, probably because Toyota bought Subaru a few years ago. Foresters are lookin' a lot like RAV4s these days!

Then, there was another compact SUV that I did not put on the poll, the Honda CRV. I wanted to love the Honda CRV, really I did! The 2005-2006 models I was looking at were nicely updated with lots of storage room and I could find it in a manual transmission. I no longer felt like I was driving a bus, as I did with the 2000 Honda CRV. It made perfect sense to buy this car as it was larger than my old RAV4, but still small enough to feel like a compact car. The problem was the seats. After test driving a couple of different ones, I'd always have a backache or buttache afterward.

The RAV4 won out in the end. I bought a 2005 Toyota RAV4. This was the last year of the older model before the RAV4s got bigger in 2006 and got rid of the manual transmission. I found one with a stick shift and low miles. The engine is upgraded from my old RAV4 from 2.0 liter 122 horsepower to 2.4 liter 144 horsepower. For a 4-cylinder engine, this car has pep and is much more fun to drive than my old RAV4. Upgraded safety features for this RAV4 include antilock brakes and side curtain airbags. To compare the IIHS safety ratings of my old versus new RAV4s (more detail can be found on their website):

2000 Toyota RAV4
Frontal Crash Test: Marginal
Side Impact: Poor

2005 Toyota RAV4
Frontal Crash Test: Good
Side Impact: Good

Reader's Choice wins! "Toyota RAV4, Newer Model" got the most votes. The view of my new/used 2005 Toyota RAV4 from my driveway:

See what the rest of the class is showing off this week at Mel's Show and Tell.