Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dialing Down the Holidays and Life in Portland - a Not Very Organized Blog


A wreath I saw at Provisions in Eugene last year.
I've tried to start, like, four or five blog posts in the last while. And...they're all kinda ranty. You don't need that. So I'm drawing a veil.

We're coming out of a high-stress season in our lives, and into a time of more manageable mid-stress. I think I still have a subconscious fist raised to the heavens over what we've lived through for the last while.

There's certainly a place for a good rant, but...yeah, I'm not there yet. Because so much of it is still too fresh, and when I dial it back to normal people levels, it becomes short to the point that it could be a baby Facebook post, rather than full-scale blog. Or I'll change my mind.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Time Travel

...is what I'm going to go with. I was prancing around (what movie was it where the guy said, "I seldom prance?), thinking I was going to blog more regularly when the first book was done, and yet, it's not mid-September and I think we can say no, no that did not happen.

I've started four blogs, but nothing's gotten off the ground in a real and true and meaningful way.

(Okay - I had to Google it. The line is from Aaron Sorkin's The American President. That was bothering me.)

Anywho, we moved...kind of. I don't feel right with a past-tense verb because it's not over. But in early August, we moved our personal belongings and excess stuff into storage and in with a generous family member, leaving the house staged in such a pristine state that I will hold on to those pictures forever.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Little Boxes

I'm writing this from my phone while we drive to Shiloh vet, where he will be thrilled to see some of his favorite people,  and less thrilled to receive a series of vaccines.
This hasn't been his favorite week, since we've been packing up the house. But soon we'll be quasi-settled in our interim housing while we sell our house.
Right now, we're trying to squash a much as we can into our last days in Richland, wishing there was time for more even while wishing we were already in Portland. And while I hate packing up,  I've been culling through a good deal of clutter. It feels good to be clearing things out,  getting ready for the next chapter.
Lots of excitement ahead, though! We'll be headed to Atlanta (specifically Decatur) for my cousin's wedding, and I'll be continuing work on the edits.
My hope is to be able to find a little pocket of time to enjoy some summer weather - Oregon is capable of some glorious Indian summers.

That's what I'm looking forward to  -  what about you?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dealing with Infertility - 14 Things I've Learned

Of all the hobbies to have, treating infertility is one of the worst. Sure, there's often travel involved, and sometimes you do get to meet interesting people, but the rest of the time there's a lot of awkwardness and expense without a lot to show for it.

In fact, it's one of the few hobbies that people are willing to sacrifice their money and privacy for years without seeing any results - just so their lives can become even more expensive.

It's the worst, but you learn to cope. I've learned a lot over the years. And while there are some really wonderful pieces on the subject (highly recommend this one), I've decided to leave the deep stuff to those who are on the other side and stick with the practical bits.


1. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page with your fertility plan. This is big. And it can be a transient thing, so have this conversation often. What treatments, when, and how are they being paid for.

2. Be kind to yourself. This means:

  • Edit your social network. You don't have to look at every baby picture on facebook (there are a lot). Most of the time, the minute a friend or acquaintance of mine announces a pregnancy, I un-follow their news feed. 
  • The same goes for Pinterest - if looking at knitted baby booties makes you sad, for heaven's sake don't subscribe to those boards. 
  • If volunteering with children's ministries at your church is too difficult/depressing, change ministries. (If it helps you feel better, by all means continue!)
  • You don't have to go to every baby shower you're invited to. It's okay to decline kindly and send a gift if you can (and it's okay for that gift to be a gift card - if shopping for baby gear makes you miserable, don't).
None of this means that you hate your friends or their progeny, or that you won't love and pray for them. Set yourself - and everyone else - up for success. There is no medal for Noble Suffering.


3. Get yourself one of these.

If you're not a dog person, fine (though I'll say this about Cavaliers - they're the dogs non-dog people bond with). Get another kind of pet - cat, bunny, sugar glider, whatever makes you happy - you need those endorphins.

But Cavaliers, in particular, and really suited for the job. They're portable, which is great if you live a distance from your fertility clinic. They're very affectionate, and very bonded to their owners (also: everybody else. Cavaliers have no enemies).

When you do have children, Cavaliers are great with them. One of the things I love about Shiloh is that the smaller the child, the lower he flattens himself to the ground to meet them. He makes sure he's as un-intimidating as possible - and that's not something I taught him. He just does it.


4. Write down, if necessary, your questions for your Reproductive Endocrinologist. Those are some expensive appointments, so make sure you get everything out of them that you want.

5. Take a good book. This is not the time for the borderline book - you need some exceptional reading material for the waiting room, material that doesn't strictly involve IVF financial planning.

6. If you're going HSG test or an IUI treatment, wear comfortable clothing and try to build time in your day for a nap afterwards. Ideally, stop at Starbucks for something sugary on the way back.

7. If you're undergoing an HSG, IUI, or ovarian ultrasound (really, anything involving stirrups), shave thine legs. This is not for the health care practitioner, who has likely seen everything. This is for you, and the shreds of your dignity.

8. Consider acupuncture. There is a lot of literature about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility. Be sure to tell your RE. Acupuncture is not only effective for fertility, but also stress - AND there are Chinese herbs you can take that are pre-natal safe (unlike the rest of the antidepressant shelf) to help with the stress. A good acupuncturist will be familiar with your fertility treatments and will be able to coordinate your acupuncture and herbs accordingly. Also, your insurance might actually cover it.

9. When it comes to your friends and family, discuss with your spouse what you're going to share and not. There's no right or wrong answer - you have to choose what you're both comfortable with. It's okay to guard your privacy. If someone wants to know exactly what your fertility issues are (and they will), you don't have to tell them.

10. On that note, have responses prepared for common questions.

  • If someone wants to know what your fertility issues are, or what you're doing about them, it's okay to say "there are a few different issues but we're working with our doctor to resolve them," or even, "I'd rather not discuss the subject." 
  • To the classic "when are you having kids" question, try "not yet, but hopefully soon"  for casual acquaintances, and/or people who respond well to a brush-off. 
  • For those that don't (or if you're just feeling sassy), try "It's the funniest thing, they're on back-order! We ordered them a long time ago, but they just haven't shown up yet." 


11. Be gracious. Most of the time when people ask awkward questions, it's coming from a place of caring mixed with a lack of knowledge. For instance, people who ask if we've considered adoption usually have no idea how expensive it is (usually around $5K for a state adoption, $20K-$40K for a private domestic adoption, $27K-$50+K for an overseas adoption. Conversely, fertility treatments run $450-$16K, depending on what treatment you're doing, if there are oral or injectable hormones, imaging, labs, etc. More if you're using donated materials.)

12. Don't put your life on hold. Take trips. Buy clothes. Cultivate other hobbies, such as crafting, yoga, dance, or hiking. Enroll your dog in obedience and agility glasses. Learn to play a musical instrument. See a movie. In other words - have fun, stay busy.

13. Find humor where you can. There have been multiple times when parts of our fertility process have been really and truly hilarious. I will draw a veil over the specifics, but the fact is that when you take lady parts + gentleman material and add either the medical establishment or voices of experience (who are themselves beyond TMI), therein lies comedy. Enjoy it when you find it.

14. Pray continuously. This is hard. It's hard to ask God over and over for the same thing - for years - that He gives to others with ease. But he told us to come to him with our wants and our needs. Pray against bitterness and cynicism. Pray for direction. Pray for him to heal your heart, over and over again.

Those are my thoughts. If you've experienced infertility, what would you add to this list?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Us - Part VI


Six years ago today, I married my best friend.

What’s amazed me, over the years, is exactly how much change and transition we’ve been able to fit in over those years, whether it’s my beginnings in publishing, Danny’s graduate school, our travels to Memphis and Richland, and now a move to Portland very near on the horizon.

A lot of change, but in some ways we’ve become good at it. When we were engaged, we drove eleven hours to California for Danny’s cousin’s wedding (our own wedding was some two months off). And I remember how we drove down, stayed for a short while and returned – another eleven hours, of course, and returned still wanting to be near each other. I remember thinking at the time that it was a good sign.

The ability to often spend long periods of time together has served us well over the years, during the seasons when we've been unmoored from family, from a church, from friends, from outside activities. While we always celebrate a return to social life, in the times between we still enjoy each other's company.

As our hopes to begin a family have been deferred, we've had more time together than, I think, either of us anticipated. By now, we know each other really well, and yet Danny still surprises me in the very best of ways.

This next year will be yet another year of changes - at least two moves, the search for a new church, and settling into a new social circle. We'll figure out which grocery store we like the best, and decide the best place to walk the dog. We'll find new haunts and favorite date spots.

At the heart of all of it, though, I feel so very blessed that I enjoy the person I'll be doing those things with. If I see a movie, Danny's the one I want to see it with. If I read a particularly interesting book - something like Where'd You Go Bernadette - he's the one I want to discuss it with. Long walks are nicer if he's along for the stroll. I love exploring new places together.

So here's to another year of adventures, of home-hunting, of change.

Another year of us.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Adventures of Quinoa: An Interview with Tiffany Beveridge

Last Thursday, I was puttering around the internet, pausing in my search for a new title for the book (more on that later), when I clicked on New York Magazine ‘s link “Imaginary Stylish Toddler Sweeps Pinterest.”

Originally envisioning a strange, pre-school Catfish-type situation, I was delighted to discover instead Tiffany Beveridge’s Pinterest board, entitled “My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter.”

After plenty of internet exploration – not just the board, but also Tiffany’s quippy, succinct blog – I was intrigued. So I’m beyond delighted to host the author of “My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter,” Tiffany Beveridge, here on the blog!

Hillary: Tiffany - tell us about your inspiration for the “My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter” board. How did it start? When did it take off? What precipitated the creation of Quinoa as a character?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Confessions of a Perpetual Church Shopper

National Cathedral, Washington D.C.
We don't like church shopping. We don't do it for kicks. But the thing is, we keep moving.

Since we left Eugene, Danny and I have visited or attended nine churches. One of those we left early. Two others we drove by, or parked near before deciding whether or not to enter. We've stalked websites. We've listened to online sermons.

I've even read Yelp reviews.

And now we're in the process of leaving Richland and relocating to Portland. While I'm excited about the move, finding a church home can be emotionally exhausting. But we've done it a lot, so on the subject, I have thoughts.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Home Stretch!

You know that part in Star Wars when that one guy is "almost there"...until (if I remember correctly), he gets blown up in his TIE fighter by Darth Vader?

Anyway, that's where I'm at in the book. Almost there. Literally typing the end. I DESPAIRED OF THIS DAY EVER COMING. I do not anticipate being blown up by a sith lord, though, literally or metaphorically.

Well, because it had to come, it needed to come, I've continued hiatus-ing from the blog, because the book and the blog could not coexist.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oscar Predictions 2013 - with Robbie Iobst!


Hello, dear readers! I've missed you much. Glad to be back, and glad it's Oscar season! While Seth MacFarlane is currently projected to drive me crazy every time he breathes, I can't wait for the rest of the broadcast. This year is going to be a doozy - for the first time in years, I'm going in with a mix of educated guesses, gut instinct, and the knowledge that anything could happen in several categories.

To help me break this down for you,  I'm delighted to welcome back my friend and fellow cinephile Robbie Iobst!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Something Had to Give

Dear Readers -

As you might have noticed, the blog's been collecting dust bunnies lately. Working on this book, I've found I haven't been able to write, take care of life, and blog at the same time. In the past I was able to blog and write at the same time, but in the past I didn't have this guy -


- who can be a handful. There have also been quite a few other things going on, making keeping up with posts more difficult than usual.

With the Oscars coming up (February 24th!!), I have thoughts to share, and we'll get to those at some point. Robbie Iobst and I will be doing a round-up of the nominees pre-Oscars, and I'll be doing another Oscar fashions post after the big day.

I've also got a recipe post that's been mostly done for a while...trouble is, I've kind of misplaced the data card with the photos on it.

All that to say, there will be blog posts someday. Until then, I'm occasionally tweeting (occasionally on the subject of The Bachelor, that fertile ground for reflection and comedy) and posting on Facebook from time to time (most recently - character name changes is a hot topic).

Later!

-h