Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes

7 quick takes
1.  The kids, especially Mac, are at that funny stage in which they are infatuated by superheroes.  They've never even seen a single tv episode or superhero movie (apart from The Incredibles) and yet they still are learning the character names and role playing.  Sometimes, the details get a little mixed up.  At lunch today, for example, I was informed that there are four Batman bad guys:  Mr. Freezer Man, Penguin Man (aka Pink Man), The Liar, and The Joker.  Amazing how a $1 coloring book impulse buy shapes my kids' imaginations!
2.  Well, that was unusual.  I just got called away to rescue Cora from the mini-blinds.  She had somehow gotten the button on the back of her dress entangled in the mini-blinds.  She offered no explanation as to how that occured...
3.  I learned something truly delightful and edifying from the kids this week.  You can make colored boogers.  Step one:  color extensively with markers, so much so that your hands become vibrantly colored.  Step two: pick one's nose with said vibrantly colored fingers.  Step three: marvel at the results.    It should be noted that we were using "jewel tone" markers that day so the effects were extraordinary.
Sorry if number three grossed you out.  I taught middle school for seven years and now have preschoolers.  I somehow ended up in the land where people always find farts and boogers hilarious.
4.  There are obvious downsides to having a Great Dane - he can clear counters easily, knocks the kids down accidentally, and leaves a trail of gargantuan muddy paw prints.  I learned a new downside the other day.  PSA - It is NOT a good idea to include the Great Dane when one is playing Hide n Seek.  Normally he just barks or whines outside of whichever closet door I'm hiding behind.  But Wednesday?  Oh joyous of days, he got me stuck.  I decided to hide under one of the kid's twin beds.  And the dog followed me under there.  And I got stuck.  Dog didn't leave me any space for maneuvering.  Had to have Mac pull me out by my ankles.
5.  Speaking of the dog - I've incurred my first ever library fine because of him.  He ate a book. 
6.  Bryan sold his motorcycle.  It was bittersweet.  He listed it Sunday and had sold it by Wednesday afternoon.  He loved that bike but just didn't enjoy riding here.  Texas heat.  Large military base traffic.  No riding buddies.  Let it be known that I did not push him to this decision.  He decided all on his own that it was time to part ways.  The money is going towards his jeep and towards our next embryo transfer.
7.  I better wrap this up before the thunderstorm gets here.  The sky is getting progressively darker and the thunder louder.  And I'm on the desktop right next to the window - prime storm viewing space.  So, without further ado, WE HAVE OUR CONTRACTS!!!  Well, at the time of this writing, we have received one already and the other one is coming (two separate families so two separate contracts).  Just need to print, sign and get notarized, and mail back.  And then those snowbabies will be shipped to us!!! (or rather to our clinic, but you get the idea...)

Friday, March 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes - the mixed up jumbled up edition

7 quick takes sm1 1 Quick Take in which I do an imitation of a responsible adult
1.  By now, the news of the Lewis' Family tragedy has spread across the nation.  Sean graduated with me from UD and Becca graduated two years after us.  Even though we weren't super close, their tragedy has permeated my life since I first heard Tuesday morning.  I know I am not alone.  Any parent cringes to the depths of their soul at the possibility of losing a child.  And one doesn't have to be a parent to feel their pain.  While the tragedy is completely heart wrenching, the response across the nation has been almost equally mind-blowing.  Love has literally rained down upon this family.
  •  Two fundraising sites raised $145,000. These funds are going towards the funerals, travel, legal fees, grief counseling/support, and more.               
  •  A year long prayer chain has been set up for them.  Please view this sign up for more information or to sign up.
  • There is an evolving website that will coordinate support efforts after the funeral.  It is my understanding that even families who are not local can still provide support in some way or another. 
  • There are prayer vigils and Masses being organized across the nation for the family.
  •   Photo: Please join us in prayer tomorrow at 7:30 at the UD chapel to remember Olivia and Emma, beloved daughters of Sean  and Becca Lewis. A thousand thank yous to Petra Bradshaw and Callie Bentley Ewing
  • Originally, the funds collected were primarily going towards the medical expenses.  Imagine my amazement when I learned last night that donors of Wyoming Catholic College and insurance will be completely taking care of the bill.  Preliminary estimates had been in the $80,000 range, so this is no small feat.
2. I don't really know how to segue from item number one.  So I'll leave this here as a moment of silence and prayer.
3.  You know, I thought I had a vague idea of what the military's plans were for my husband for the next few years.  It seems, however, that budget cuts are directly affecting him.  The time between promotion boards is expanding because the military doesn't have the funds to promote with their same frequency (and pay the subsequent salary increases).  This means that though I thought we'd be here until Fall 2015 and then to Leavenworth, KS for school, there may be one more stop in between.  We're in a weird quandry where the military doesn't have the money to PCS families(permanent change of station - move to a new assignment) yet they still say that persons of Bryan's rank can't stay in one place too long. 
4.  It was my turn to teach preschool last week - letter S.  Our craft ended up pretty easy and actually pretty, even after the three and four year olds used their "crafting magic" on it.  Amazing what classic art can do for a project! 

5.  I hate paying full price for things.  I guess I inherited a sense of frugality, shall we call it, from my dad.  At any rate, I've been pretty thrilled with four different consignment websites I've found.  They're not new in existence, but they're new to me.  And I can buy brand names in great condition for an amount I'm happy to pay. 
  • Flipsize - this website is for newborns on up to children's size 10.  I've bought a lot on here and have been mostly happy with my purchases.
  • Dashing Bee - this website is for newborns on up to children's size 14.  I've bought a smaller selection of items here (usually only when they're doing their season end clearance) but have been very happy with my purchases.
  • Twice - this website is for women.  I haven't bought anything from here yet, but I really love that their website even provides the measurements for items of clothing.  We all know that an 8 is not an 8 across the board, so this is a very helpful feature.
  • ThredUp - I'm expecting my first package today or tomorrow and I'm very excited.  This site has clothing for children, juniors, and women, and shoes for all the aforementioned categories.  They have huge selections AND a free 30 return policy.  AND if you click the hyperlink I provided, you'll get an additional $10 off your first purchase.  ;-) 

6.  Embryo adoption news - I haven't forgotten the original purpose of this blog.  WE ARE MATCHED!!!!  Two families, each having two embryos.  One family created their embryos in 2007 and had two children (two separate transfers) before they chose to give up their embryos due to medical problems.  The other family created their embryos in 2008.  They have three children, but only one is from this embryo set (one child via traditional adoption, one from this embryo set, and one surprise natural conception).  We are proceeding towards a transfer in June and will use the older set first.  Whew!

7.  I guess I don't technically have seven quick takes.  However, all my bullet points have to count for something, right?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Urgent Prayer Request - EDITED

The news blurb from Wyoming Catholic College's facebook page: 
URGENT PRAYER REQUEST: Two young daughters of one of our professors, Dr. Sean Lewis, were in a devastating car accident this morning. One daughter, age 3, is being Life Flighted to Salt Lake City at this time, and the other, age 6, is to follow as soon as possible. Dr. Lewis and his wife, Becca, have asked us to besiege Heaven on their daughters' behalf, particularly asking for the intercession of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Sean is a college friend of mine.  His wife, Becca, graduated a few years  after us.  I have received word that the whole family is now in Salt Lake City together.  (They have one more daughter who was not in the car at the time,)
Here is local news coverage of the accident.  As if the accident wasn't terrifying enough, the original coverage reported that the girls had perished in the accident.  This information has been corrected since the first report. 
Please pray for health, peace, and comfort.  And that God guides, not just the Lewis family, but their medical caregivers too.

EDIT - I found out late this afternoon that both girls went to their Heavenly home today.  I am so unbelievably sad for this family.  Please remember Sean, Becca, and Vivian as they grieve the loss of Emma and Olivia.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Unseen debris

CRACK!  Eyes whip up from reading today's Gospel passage.  Road swerves wildly.  Husband fights van for control.  Not the road swerving. It's us.  Cement barrier zips closer and closer and then it's gone. Spin. Spin. Time slows unbelievably.  White knuckles clutch the steering wheel.  Acrid burning rubber wafts through closed window.  Dear God, don't let us crash.  Don't let us be hit.  Spin.  Cars coming.  Dear God.  Full stop.  Perpendicular. Three lanes over.  Semi coming.  Bryan, move the car!  Dear God, don't let us crash!  Car moves, inches across one more lane.  Reach the shoulder. Breath comes in gasps.  Mac cries, scared, not hurt.  Cora laughs.  Silly child. And then we breathe.  Thank you, God.  Thank You!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Morning wake up

Little voices pierce through the closed door and drift down the hallway.  The finer points of life are being discussed, like how to avoid getting dog hair in one's bottom.  They burst through their door, triumphant in their success of fully dressing themselves.  Excitement is palpable as they remember a long awaited outing is here.  Momma, we have zero days until the truck park!  And we three settle comfortably on the couch for our customary pre-breakfast snack (bananas and a cup of milk) while viewing our morning shows.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

7 Quick Takes - A Day Late

I figured I'd jump on this bandwagon too.  Whatever gets me writing, right?  Please forgive the fact that the link is for Friday and today is Saturday.  We can just overlook that minor detail.  ;-)

1.  The Moms' Group I coordinate has infrequent Sunday evening potlucks.  We all like them, it just seems to take a lot of effort to coordinate and host one.  And then the majority of us are married to either military or military support which means there are always some husbands traveling.  I miss our whole family gatherings and have been scheming up a plan for the next one.  Right now it looks like it might be a potluck-eating-Frozen-watching (kids) - pajama wearing (kids again) - board-game (parents) evening.  I'm trying to decide if I'm biting off too much or if it will work.

2.  The rocker/glider in my bedroom is normally covered in clean clothes waiting to be returned to closets and dressers.  [real world confession]  I've been a little more on top of the laundry lately which means the rocker can be used again.  By Mac.  I've caught him numerous times rocking the baby dolls and singing them lullabys.  Lullabyes?  I'm not actually sure how to make that plural.  My heart swoons a little.  How can it not when a big clunky three year old boy cradles babies and sings to them when he thinks no one is looking?

3.  Cora has been perfecting her signature.  Currently it's capital c, capital o, capital r, lower case a  except she has a non-traditional way of writing her R - a high circle with two lines coming down from it to form the R legs.  I haven't really worked on penmanship at all with them, so it's interesting to see the natural evolution of letter formation.

4.  Our home parish is about a 25 minute drive away on weekdays.  The kids and I just can't make Holy Day services there so we go to a closer parish that has better times.  The kids behaved surprisingly well at the Ash Wednesday Mass.  After Mass, an old man stopped me on the way out  and said "You should write a book."  "Oh?" was my puzzled response.  "Yes," he responded, "you should write about how to get children to behave in church."  I smiled, blushed, and thanked him.  "Today was just a good day for us."  And that's the truth.  In all my infinite wisdom, I have learned that child behavior in Mass is somewhat the luck of the draw.  And that kindly old man had luckily not observed the days when a certain young female acts demon possessed and stops the homily with her foul behavior.  Still, it felt nice to get a compliment.

5.  I don't often talk about the dog.  Figured it was time to mention him a bit.  Hank, the Great Dane, is a stereotypical Dane.  He's fairly gentle, though clumsy, and loves kids and people-food.  The latter can be problematic.  Several times after clearing plates down the disposal, I've caught the dog with his front paws on the counter, staring forlornly down the drain.  Guess he would prefer all food scraps went into his bowl, rather than the garbage disposal. 

6.  Changing gears back to embryo adoption.  The agency decided to pursue matching us with two smaller sets of embryos (each family has two embryos for a total of four, or enough for two transfers), so our profile is out to both families now.  Matching with two families simultaneously is harder to coordinate.  We'll just have to see how things play out!

7.  I really loved today's Lenten reflection from flocknote, especially as we continue this very long journey towards growing our family again.

Excerpt from the Diary of St. Faustina:

Although it seems to me that You do not hear me, I put my trust in the ocean of Your mercy, and I know that my hope will not be deceived (Diary - 69).


My Jesus, when I repeatedly ask You for something and I get no reply and nothing seems to change in my life, I fear that You are not there. I grow discouraged and I feel alone. Help me to trust in You in the midst of the darkness. Teach me how to walk by faith and not by sight. I place my hope in You, and I believe that Your love and mercy are as deep as the ocean. There is nothing that is beyond Your power. Strengthen my faith, O Lord!
- Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mini Matching Update

Many many emails have been exchanged between Snowflakes and us these past few days.

The matching coordinator sent us four potential matching scenarios (one individual family and three combination possibilities) that met both the clinic's preferences and our initial criteria (vitrified blasts from 2007 or more recent).  We saw no need to eliminate any of those possibilities and let the matching coordinator figure out which route she wanted to try first.  (Two of the embryo sets had issues in familial health backgrounds, hence one of the reasons she wanted our general approval...)

There was a certain relief in letting the matching coordinator chose the starting point for us.  We felt ourselves tempted towards that slippery slope of objectifying the embryos, based on their on-paper desirability.  And we didn't want to get caught up in treating them merely like commodities. 

The single family turned us down.  Though I don't know the exact reason, I do know they had preferred an adoptive family with zero children. 

It's challenging for the matching supervisor to coordinate a match with two donating genetic families at once (two smaller sets of embryos from completely separate families).  In an effort to make things easier on all of us, I asked her to look and see if there are any waiting embryos sets that are slow-freeze blasts, instead of vitrified.  And that's where we are now - waiting for her answer.

I trust we will, one day, find the right match for us.  I am so thankful the matching coordinator doesn't mind my flurry of emails and is generally prompt in her replies!

Monday, March 3, 2014


In the infant adoption world, adoptions can be termed "high risk" or "low risk" based on your chances of actually keeping the baby.  "High risk" means someone is, or is likely to, contest the adoption.  You may or may not have a take home baby.  "Low risk" means every biological family member is on board with the adoption and the chance it will be contested is slim to none.  You have a much greater chance of receiving a take home baby.

That's kind of how I've been viewing our adoption attempts so far.  We've been very open-ended with our adoption preferences and as a result, been paired with "high risk" scenarios.  Older genetic mothers, older embryos,... And we are tired of that.  (We turned down another match last week.  Among other concerns, all six embryos were frozen in a single straw.  That meant, assuming more than two survived the thaw (clinic will only transfer two at a time), we'd have to refreeze some.  A resounding NO for us.)

This is likely to be our last attempt at embryo adoption, at least for the foreseeable future, so we want a "low risk" match.  Trust me, the agency has them.

Bryan and I then spent the weekend deliberating just what "low risk" meant to us so I could communicate clearly to the agency. 

We finally decided to send this:

Bryan and I have spent the weekend talking and praying about how we want to redirect our snowflake search.

Upon inquiry, the clinic stated they prefer "perfected vitrified embryos from 2011 or more recent" but I know that's a very limited window.

Our clinic will not transfer any more than two embryos per transfer.  And we don't want to refreeze any embryos.

We'd like to refine our search to embryos created in 2007 or more recent.  And we would like a total of 3 to 6 blasts, frozen one or two per straw.

Otherwise, our preferences are the same. Still no egg or sperm donors.

If we cannot make a match with a single family, we would be willing to match with two families

It took Bryan and me a while to realize why we had been just generally uncomfortable with the two proposed prior matches.  And we realized that, ultimately, the potential for loss was just too high for our current threshold.  And a revision of our preferences became necessary.

A couple of explanations about the language and terminology:

"Vitrification" is a relatively new method of freezing embryos.  It "came on the scene" around 2010 and has been growing in popularity ever since.  Vitrification is "flash freezing" whereas the more common, older model is a slow-freeze.  As best as I can tell, the single greatest advantage to adopting vitrified embryos is the thaw success rate is much higher - about 92% to 95% of vitrified embryos survive the thaw.  There is nothing wrong with slow-freeze methods and some clinics are not equipped to handle vitrification (either the freezing or the thawing). 

"Two's the limit."  Most clinics these days are doing what they can to limit multiple births as these can pose great risk to both the babies and the mother.  The safest method is to only transfer one or two embryos at a time. 

"2007 seems random!"  And it is, sort of.  Best case scenario, we would love to be able to get two or three transfers out of this next adopted set of embryos.  We'd like to keep the batch of embryos at ten years old or less.  If we're planning on two transfers, one in summer 2014 and the second (assuming a healthy live birth followed the 2014 transfer) in maybe 2017.   A 2017 transfer would make those remaining embryos 10 years old.  Ten years is a sort of arbitrary number, but we had to chose something for clarity's sake when communicating with the adoption agency.

"Blasts" are also known as "blastocysts".  This is the term used to describe embryos at days five and six of development, and anywhere from 35 to 250+ cells (this number is greatly variable). They are getting ready to hatch and attach to the uterine lining.  Though there isn't much empirical evidence stating "blasts" are stronger than "Day 3's" (the other common embryo transfer point), we personally have had greater success with blastocysts.

Any other questions? 

Sunday, March 2, 2014


7 posts in 7 days link-up - Day 7 (I made it!)

I don't have much self discipline.  As an adult, that's kind of embarrassing.  As a parent, it's kind of humiliating.  How can I teach my children if I struggle with being a good model?  On the bright side, at least my kids observe my struggles towards virtue and know that I keep trying.  I guess we're learning to live virtuously together. 

Lent provides a great point in the liturgical year for me to refocus or even start over.  Virtue is unattainable without Christ's gift of Self; perfection is unreachable except through a life of grace and in grace.  "During Lent, let us spend the gift of time seeking the wisdom of heart taught by self-sacrifice, so that, dead to sin, we may rise to new life in Christ in whom death has died."  (Magnificat, Morning Prayer, Ash Wednesday 2014)

I'm trying a couple of new things this year in order to gently provide more opportunities for self-discipline:

We'll go meatless two times a week, Wednesdays and the obligatory Friday. 

I've signed up for the Father Barron Lenten study, .  A devotion should be emailed daily - let's hope I can keep up!

I've rather slacked off at self-care ever since we moved to Texas in 2012.  I need to schedule dental visits for myself and the kids, an endocrinologist visit for me (thyroid issues), and a hysteroscopy with the fertility clinic (miscarriage follow-up).  Plus I need to figure out how to fit some regular exercise in my daily schedule.

The biggest Lenten sacrific is one I know I really need to do - getting up before the kids. (There's no way I'll start waking up with Bryan, that's just ridiculous (he leaves as early as 4:40 some mornings!))   I've got a time in mind and if that doesn't work, then I'll tweak it a bit.  I just hate getting out of bed in the mornings!  I'm not a morning person.  Or a night person, for that matter.  I just kind of trudge through the whole day, looking longingly at the couch (hence check-up for thyroid problems).  I know by forcing myself out of bed in the mornings before the kids get up, I can say my prayers, read my daily devotions, have my coffee, and, God willing, be a more pleasant person all because I had a few minutes of me-time.  Well, me and God time. 

The nice (or perhaps not so nice) thing about posting my Lenten "resolutions" here is accountability.  I have made my plans public and now I'm open to nagging.  Or at least those casual reminders of "hey, how's that working out for you?"

And now, a Lenten anecdote before I share a beautiful little Lenten prayer I found while browsing the internet. 

In college I tried a whole host of rather extreme Lenten acts.  The most short lived was the time I gave up hot water in my showers and tried to take only cold showers.  I may have lasted three days.  Tops.  And that was living in Texas, someplace that isn't typically cold during Lent.

Prayer of Saint Ephrem
O Lord and Master of my life, keep from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement, lust of power and idle chatter.

Instead, grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience, and love.

O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother; for You are blessed now and ever and forever.  Amen

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park Program Facts (Part 3 of 3)

7 posts in 7 days link-up - day 6



Program criteria:

·         Heterosexual married couple

·         Married at least three years

·         Undergo and pass a home study

·         A doctor’s note stating there are “no contraindications to pregnancy” is necessary for potential adoptive mothers


Program entails:

·         Mutual matching services (more on that later)

·         Mediation services between both genetic and adoptive parties (optional post birth)

·         Average of two to four month wait for matching.  The more open one’s preferences, the faster the match.

·         Please view the fee link below for a more detailed list of services provided by Cedar Park


·         In short, Cedar Park’s fee is $5175 ($375 application fee and $4800 program fee).  This fee covers matching, counseling, communication mediation, and records keeping.

·         The fee does not cover the required home study, the embryo transfer, or the necessary medications.

·         Cedar Park offers an optional in-house home study for $1400, if desired.

·         There is no additional fee if you need to be rematched (in the event the first set of embryos and subsequent transfer(s) did not result in live birth).

·         You do not owe Cedar Park anything if there are embryos remaining from your match after a successful pregnancy.  All embryos in a set are considered yours and you may transfer them at a convenient time.  You do need to notify Cedar Park of the outcome of subsequent transfers though.


Matching Facts:

·         They have a limited amount of multi-ethnic embryos (there is limited availability of these nationwide – Cedar Park seems to be about average)

·         The mutual matching process is facilitated by the Cedar Park staff.  The staff presents genetic parents with a potential adoptive family’s profile.  Cedar Park has already screened both parties ensuring all basic preferences are met.  Genetic parents (GP) say yes or no to match.  If yes, the adoptive family will be sent the GP’s profile for review.  If no, Cedar Park’s staff chose another set of GP to consider the adoptive family’s profile. The match is only complete when both parties are in agreement and the contracts are signed.

·         Cedar Park offers open, semi-open, or closed adoptions.  Genetic parents participate in the matching in all these scenarios.

·         Adoptive parents receive the following in a genetic parents’ profile:

o   Basic info on embryos – number, developmental stage, date frozen

o   Biography of donating parents

o   Pictures of donating parents and their children, if applicable

o   Medical history

o   All the embryos in the set


Additional Facts:

·         Most genetic parents prefer some degree of openness.  This could range from minimal involvement (the GP’s just want active participation in the matching process and notification of any resulting pregnancies) to full openness (GP’s correspond regularly with adoptive family through facebook or email or phone). 

·         Cedar Park will provide post-birth mediation, as desired, between the GP’s and adoptive parents. 

·         Optional counseling is offered to all involved parties.
      ·         No selective reduction is allowed.
       ·         No surrogates are allowed.

·         Per the Cedar Park contract, adoptive parents are allowed to transfer no more than two embryos per transfer attempt.