13.) Apparently... I'm pregnant!?!

The proof is in the bloodwork.  I'm pregnant, I'm pregnant, I'm pregnant! 

Now let's hope I stay that way for approximately 36 more weeks (or close to it)! 

I do still have some hurdles to cross: a second beta (HCG test), an early ultrasound, and of course an entire three trimesters of pregnancy.  But, so far, as of right now, I AM PREGNANT!

12.) all things fall!

I love fall.  The first day of fall was technically one week ago, but today it actually FEELS like fall.  I have the windows open and I can hear crispy leaves rustling in the wind (they haven't started falling yet, but they are starting to turn color).  The temperature is perfect: 67.  The skies are blue, the air is fresh, the season's new t.v. shows are starting, kids are picking out their Halloween costumes, and the grocery stores are selling pumpkins and apple cider.  Yes, fall is here! 

These are a few of my favorite (fall) things... Crock pots, hot apple cider, and hoodies, oh my!!
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But wait, that's not all!
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11). to only seeing ONE word on the digital...

Usually, when I take a home pregnancy test, there are two words that show up in the screen: "Not" and "Pregnant".  However, when I took one this morning, there was only one word present.  And guess what it was?  "Pregnant"!!!!!! anyone who knows my history knows that THIS is HUGE! We are bordering on MIRACLE here, people!

I have to go for a blood test tomorrow to see what my HCG level is.  I am praying that this is it.  Please God, let this be it.  Whatever lesson I was supposed to learn throughout this journey, surely I've learned it.  I am hoping with all I've got that tomorrow's numbers look good. 

So nervous!!!!


10.) five years married to my best friend.

Five years ago, I married my best friend.  Truly, I did!  It was an incredible day, filled with so much love.  Everything went perfectly (just as planned!) and everyone had an absolute blast.  The dance floor was packed the whole night!

We have had our share of ups and downs over the last 5 years, including (but not limited to!) job issues, real estate issues, relocation issues, family issues, and recently, fertility issues.  But no matter what goes on in our life, our marriage is the one thing I can always count on, and I am so thankful for that!

My husband is amazing in so many ways.  I can't imagine loving anyone more! 


9.) the end of a 7-month deployment!

Today, it is easy to find the "happy".  Today, I'm thrilled to announce that, after seven months in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines, my "little" brother's boots are finally back on U.S. soil.  We are blessed by his safe return, and we will continue to pray that God watch over the troops who sacrifice so much each and every day to defend our great nation.  We also leave room in our hearts for those families whose beloved soldiers have not (or will not) return home.  My heart hurts to think of the number of soldiers being lost in the wars on freedom as a result of senseless acts of violence at the hands of insurgents and radicals. 

It should be noted that so far, in 2010, 355 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan (icasualties.org).  All in all, 2,100 troops have died in Operation Enduring Freedom since 2001.  And just think, the war is not over yet.  Say a prayer for these families.  Support our troops.

"Victory Kiss" statue and USS Midway, San Diego Harbor
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
- Ronald Reagan, President of the United States


Old people have no filter!

Why is it... that when people get old, they no longer have any inhibitions in regards to speaking about their bowels??  I mean, is this a requirement for those approaching (or already well into) old age? 

You tell me: maybe I missed something somewhere.  Is there currently a rule that in order to get your social security checks in a timely manner, you must demonstrate the ability to work constipation, gas, and diarrhea into any given conversation with no regard for the listener's discomfort level?  I mean really!  I do not need to know about your blocked bowels, and I certainly do not need to know when you have the runs.  Similarly, I do not need to hear about the gas you had last night after you ate a sloppy joe. 

Please, let's just stick to talking about your wartime memories, you mother's lasagna, the woes of penny-pinching during the Great Depression, and how provocatively the kids are dressing nowadays!


8.) the gift of photography.

When I turned 30 in August, my mom signed me up for a six week photography course at a local camera shop (great gift, right?!).  It was a course I'd had my eye on for a while, since I had gotten a nice new digital SLR camera the year before and hadn't mastered it's full potential.  I had my last of the six courses tonight, and I have to say that honestly, the class has been one of the best things I've done for myself in a long time!  (thanks, Mom!)

I've always loved to take pictures and loved finding unique ways to capture what is in front of my lens.  Recently graduating from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR has been an intimidating leap, and there is still so much more to understand.  It has a million and one capabilities beyond the "Auto" settings, and there is only so much you can learn from an owner's manual. 

Before the class began, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I was afraid it wouldn't hold my interest, or be too technical for me.  In the end, it was actually a really great mix of art + creativity + technique + technical mumbo-jumbo!  And, not only was the instructor knowledgeable and an incredible photographer, but he is also very approachable, which is really nice for shy folks like me! 
Photography is, as our instructor put it, telling a story through images.  But to acheive those images, one must first understand the functions of their camera and also have an eye for the composition of a photograph.  I may try to find a way to get some pictures onto this blog so that I can have somewhat of a portfolio as I really hone in on certain skills, or specific techniques.  It might be a nice way to keep myself organized while providing a visual log of my skills as I learn. 

I don't typically have "hobbies", so this is quite an experience for me.  I've found something I really like!  Too bad it's not the most affordable hobby out there.... but it does motivate me to explore other things that I feel I might enjoy.  S.C.U.B.A., anyone??


7.) hearing a song you can relate to.

6.) good purchases = happiness.

Wow.  This stuff is fabulous.  I have been scraping the last few ounces out of the bottom of the jar (it's lasted me about 4 months) and I just can't get enough of it!  In fact, I'm going to buy some more this weekend. 

It smells like cocoa, coffee, cream, and maybe a hint of spice.  It makes my skin nice and soft, not greasy. 

It's just by Bath & Body Works.  Nothing fancy.  I don't even usually shop there, so I'm glad I bought it on a whim.  Perfect scent for fall, too.

Love it!

And this stuff... though similar in appearance to the product above, lol, has a different place in my heart! 

This hummus, by Sabra, is probably the best hummus I've ever bought at the grocery store.  Ours, which was actually purchased in a larger container at Sam's Club, had a dollop of fresh herbs and garlic in the middle.  When mixed through the hummus... Mmmm it is heavenly. 

We can't seem to keep the lid on this stuff.  It's great for anything you want to dip.  Try it!


5.) taking leaps of faith.

I met an old woman today who I expected, from the emotions on her face, to be crotchety and bitter.  Physically, this woman has been through a slew of health issues recently, and it is apparent that she will no longer be caring for herself as she's always done.  She is fatigued, she is sore, she is dependent on others, and she is angry.  She is worn down and broken from loss.

But instead, today this woman told me a story that warmed my heart.  She told me about how her husband of 59 years passed away after battling a terrible cancer.  In the next year, she buried not one but two of her children.  Her siblings were gone, her friends were dwindling.  She spent three years grieving and praying for companionship, and dabbled in evening activities at her local church.  One day, her power was shut of while the electric company worked on some lines.  Bored, she went to lunch at the senior center (which she never did... "who wants to eat with a bunch of drooly old fuddy-duddies?").  While there, a man, who was touring the senior center for the very first time, caught her eye immediately.  An attractive widower, she soon found out they'd gone to the same high school (though not at the same time).  One week later, they decided to tie the knot

I can not even begin to imagine the reaction from friends and family that must have ensued.  Imagine, getting married after 1 week!  But she insisted that "when you know, you know... and if you've already been reminded too many times just how fragile life is, then why waste another minute?" 

This couple has now been together for 3 and 1/2 years (actually "3 years, four months, and a week... but who's counting?!", if you ask the woman in the story).  They wink at each other when they think no one is looking.  They hold hands at her bedside while she rests.  He pushes her to work hard, get better, and come home soon.  She, of course, nags him about keeping up with the garden while she is in the hospital.  And to think: if the power company hadn't needed to turn off the electricity... if the woman hadn't decided to get out of the house for a bit... if her friend hadn't offered to let her tag along... if the man hadn't been standing there looking "dapper" at the sign-in sheet... and most importantly, if they both hadn't have had open hearts, open minds, and taken a huge leap of faith.... this happy couple, who spend every waking minute together, would not be a couple at all.  Each would be completely alone in this big, big world. 

Anyway, I thought I would share this story because it reminds us that sometimes we do get lucky.  Sometimes, good (love) can come from bad (loss).  Sometimes, the universe isn't out to get us and things actually work out.  Sometimes, it's okay to take a leap of faith... because you never know, it just might work out in the end! 


4.) hope.

Today I had a doctor's appointment.  It was multi-purpose: to review my history, assess my current status, and make a plan for the future. I am thrilled to conclude that, not only did it go well, but she actually gave me some good news for once!  It's a rare occasion that I do not walk out feeling defeated. Today, I walked out of the appointment feeling a strange, tingling sensation: I think it was HOPE!

I've been waging a war against infertility for... well, I don't even want to admit how long.  A while now.  Many of the months that have passed along the way, I've had a ridiculously low likelihood for a successful shot at conceiving.  So small that it was hard to even muster up any faith (especially after mulitple crushing let-downs over time).  My hope has bottomed out lately, and it's been a struggle to even stay in the fight.  I've been praying to just have a fair shot at conceiving a baby (that's all I ask, is for a chance!)... and this month, I may actually have some odds stacked on my side.  Woohoo!  Things are looking up.  And if this month isn't "the" month... well, we have a great game plan on what's to follow.  

This infertility journey has been a complete emotional sandstorm.  It's hard to have faith, be positive, and feel hopeful when sometimes the blows just don't seem to want to quit.  Sometimes a little fleck of hope will float to the surface, but for some reason, today it's running through me like a river!  See what one bit of good news can do for a person?  One little positive moment in the day and voila... hope is restored.  It feels good.  

There's a quote, which I believe is from the movie, "The Matrix Reloaded", that says it best:  "Hope is the quintessential delusion; simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness."  It truly is a scary thing, "hope". 

It's scary to allow yourself to be hopeful while trying to conceive with infertility when so much of the emotionally-charged process is out of your hands.  But sometimes, just once in a while, you have to allow yourself to have faith, be vulnerable, and just HOPE with all your heart.


3.) unexpected free time.

Today has been a disasterous day, filled with a string of emotions.  Tomorrow may not be too hot either, as I have a really important doctor's appointment and I'm not sure what to expect.  I've not only been worried about the appointment itself, but also getting in and out of there on time without missing too much of the work day (the last thing I need is a boss on my back right now). 

Well, I just got a call saying that I don't need to go in to work tomorrow - they overstaffed my department and our patient caseload is low (it's a hospital environment). 

Yay!  It's a little pick-me-up bit of luck that only comes across every so often.  I'll take it!

The Dash by Linda Ellis

2.) knowing the truth.

Well, my week has already started out interestingly enough.  Not even 8 o'clock in the morning, and things had already gotten dramatic on the in-laws front!  After waking up, I had a friend on my mind, so I went online to drop her a quick email.  Lo and behold, I see that I have an email from a family member waiting in my inbox.  As anyone would do, I read it.  But I quickly realize that I was not the intended reader for this email.  Instead, I am the topic, and not in a good way. 

It's one thing to suspect your mother-in-law has certain opinions of you, but it's another thing to see it in writing when she thinks you aren't looking.  I mean, no holds barred, right out there in your face.  Automatically, my hands start shaking and my eyes brim with tears, because even though I wasn't surprised by what I read, it still hurts.  Soon, my phone starts blinking like crazy with text messages from the accidental sender who has realized his error and is obviously mortified for having unintentionally sent me the harsh message.  He desperately hopes that my mother-in-law doesn't find out that her message was passed on for me to see, or he fears he will never hear the end of it (which is true).

So, I'm left with a couple of choices here.  I could call my mother-in-law out on the email (at the expense of the accidental sender).  I could pretend it never happened and leave her to believe she can be sneaky, negative, and nasty about me with no repercussions.  Or, I could try really hard to find the bright side here... which I think is probably the fact that now I truly know how she feels (even though she said it unintentionally) and it didn't come about in a giant argument or emotional scene.  I mean, maybe I'm lucky to have been able to see the truth - if nothing else, to confirm my suspicions to myself (and to my husband, who wasn't really sure what to think up until now).

It's kind of a stretch.... but if there's a positive hidden in there somewhere, then I think that's it!  Plus, in an odd way, I must admit that I find it pretty comical that I know something she doesn't know.


1.) my sister-in-law, my friend.

Lately, I've had alot on my mind regarding my own life and my own problems.  But while I wander through my day feeling sorry for myself or wondering why things happen the way they do (or why they don't the way they don't), my sister-in-law has been fighting her own personal battle with strength and grace that I don't know if I have.  She and my brother are going through some tough times, struggling to see their future together.  There is hardly a pain that can compare to the fear of losing your partner in life and being left to pack up, shove off, and start anew. 

So amidst all the sadness and throughout all the tears in our individual lives right now, we've been pulling hard for one another and forging the strength to support one another despite our own challenges. I've realized that I've truly been blessed to have acheived such a wonderful connection with my sister-in-law.  Some people aren't so lucky.  But I am, and I'm thankful.  It's just one small bright spot in a storm of emotions... and it should be acknowledged in its own right.


we will never forget.

taken with Nikon DSLR D60, in shutter priority

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. “
- President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001

It's been 9 years.  It's hard to find any good luck, small blessings, or sweet moments in this horrifyingly tragic, senseless, act of terror.  But I think the "good" lies in the health and safety of those who survived, the dedication and will of those who risked their lives to rescue others, and the humbling sense of fragility that we, as a nation, faced after experiencing such insurmountable tragedy.

I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. 

Do you?


Life's Little Blessings: they're out there somewhere.

Like anyone's life, mine has been filled with some good and some bad (and, of course, some ugly).  I've got plenty of regrets and I've got plenty of memories.  I've made wise decisions, terrible decisions, and some that have outcomes yet to be determined.

In a life that often feels all-consuming, it's easy to miss the little things.  I've caught myself lately feeling like nothing is easy, no endings are happy, and luck is laughing at me.  As an attempt to open my own eyes to the many small blessings I've been fortunate enough to experience, I'm putting it all out there, in this little corner of cyber universe. 

Because the small things?  The lucky moments, the simple miracles?  They're out there somewhere, just waiting for someone to notice.

So from now on, I'm going to notice, and hopefully each day I can find something good buried in the chaos of everyday life. I'm going to search for the good within the bad, even when it's hard to find. I'm going to see how long it takes for 101 little blessings to come along.  I'm going to document them all right here, so that, on days when it feels like nothing happy happens, I can look at this list and be reminded of just how lucky I really am, and how sweet life really is. 

And so a blog is born...