Year in Review 2013

January

Nothing really happened in January!!

February

  • Tom preached at church
  • We went to Concord for a football conference
  • We started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist
  • We spent a weekend in a cabin with good friends

March

  • I took a series of sewing classes
I sewed a chicken!

I sewed a chicken!

April

  • Tom had jury duty
  • We had our first failed IUI

May

  • I finished my first year at my new school
  • We attended Adriana’s wedding

adwedding

June

July

  • We spent several days in Sacramento for a teaching conference for Tom
  • I attended a John Mayer concert
  • We celebrated our 2nd anniversary
  • We had our 3rd failed IUI
  • Tom turned 30
Tom's 30th

Tom’s 30th

August

  • I started my 2nd year at my current school
  • I had jury duty

September

  • Our 4th IUI was canceled
  • Football season began

photo

October

  • I participated in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk
  • I attended the Internet Librarian conference

Alzheimer's Walk 2

November

  • Football season ended

December

  • We stayed a night at Bernardus Lodge
  • We went to Florida for Christmas
Fireplace in our room at Bernardus

Fireplace in our room at Bernardus

I’m “Coming Out”

I’ve been silent on this blog for awhile because I’ve been feeling like there was nothing I could share.

Many of you use your personal blogs as places to share picture of their kids, but I don’t have kids (more on this in a second…), so I have no cute photos or funny anecdotes.   Some of you use your blog to review the books you’re reading or to talk about what God and life have been teaching you.  But the books I’ve been reading lately felt too private and too personal to reveal.

You see, we have been trying to have a child for almost two years now.  About a year ago, we went to a fertility specialist and discovered some physical issues which are making it difficult for us to conceive.  I’ll spare you the details, but we’ve been through 8 months of very difficult and very expensive treatments, and they’ve all failed.

Through it all, I’ve been reading books like The Infertility Companion, When Empty Arms Become a Heavy Burden, Inconceivable, and Zita West’s Guide to Infertility & Conception.  So you can understand why I haven’t been doing any book reviews…

Our family and close friends know what’s going on, and many of Tom’s friends know.  I, however, have been purposely keeping it a secret from most of my friends, for many reasons.  (If you’re interested in hearing the details, I have been blogging about my journey semi-anonymously at Amateur Nester. Oddly enough, it’s easier for me to talk about this with strangers than with friends).

But we’re starting more aggressive treatment after the New Year, and I know it’s going to get harder to keep this to ourselves.  I also want to start talking about it because I want to get past the shame, embarrassment, and taboo associated with it.

I’m not going to turn this blog into a place where I talk a lot about our infertility.  I’ll save that for other blog.  But I do want to stop feeling so restricted in what I write here.  So the secret is out- at least on this blog.

One thing… If you are friends with me on Facebook, please do not mention our situation there.  Only a handful of people read this blog, so it feels more private than Facebook (even though I know that’s technically not true).  I’m “coming out” in stages, and Facebook will be the last place I talk publicly about it (if I ever do).

Please don’t feel pity for us.  God has sustained us through this, and I know the outcome is in His hands.  If you want to support us, you can do so by praying for us, and by not taking it personally if I decline invitations to baby showers or events where lots of small children are present.  I welcome words of support, but I do ask that you refrain from offering advice such as “Just relax and it will happen,” or “Maybe you should just adopt.”  As well-meaning as these comments are, they sting.

One thing about infertility is that you often find out that other people have secretly experienced it as well.  So if you are currently experiencing something similar or have been through infertility (meaning you know what a “RE” or “IUI/IVF” are), please feel free to reach out.  I would love to connect with friends who have been on a similar journey.

Thanks for hanging in there and reading this very long post!

This past Saturday I participated in the Monterey Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  My mother-in-law, Sandy, my niece, and friend, Rebecca, walked with me.

Alzheimer's Walk 2013

According to its website, the Monterey walk raised over $137,000 and 622 people walked.  If you’d like to know why I walked, you can read my previous post.  I’m so grateful to everyone who donated, and it’s not too late to give!  You can still donate by clicking here.

I am looking forward to participating again next year!

Alzheimer's Walk 2

Why You Should Care About Alzheimer’s

My grandmother, Janey, is 83 years old and suffers dementia that has progressed rapidly over the past two years.  No one knows for sure if it’s Alzheimer’s (because only an autopsy can confirm the disease), but all signs lead us to believe that it is.

My grandmother and I in 2001

My grandmother and I in 2001

If don’t currently have a loved-one who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, the odds are that one day you will.  Alzheimer’s has been all over the news recently, and some researchers are saying that Alzheimer’s-related dementia is on its way to becoming the biggest health crisis our parents’ generation will face.  And that means their caretakers (us!) will be the ones providing and paying for care.

2009

2009

Matt Katawicz, the chairman Walk to End Alzheimer’s San Jose, does a fantastic job at outlining why young people should care about Alzheimer’s and how it will affect us.  I’ll be joining Matt and thousands of other people on Saturday, October 12 in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  All the money raised for that event will go towards research to help cure Alzheimer’s.

My grandmother and I in 2011, shortly before her dementia rapidly progressed

My grandmother and I in 2011, shortly before her dementia rapidly progressed

I’m walking for my grandmother.  But I’m also walking for my mom, who deals with coordinating her care from 3,000 miles away.  I’m walking for my aunt- a widow, who has willingly brought her mother-in-law into her home.  And I’m walking for my cousin, who is spending countless hours of her 20s driving my grandmother around town, helping her with meals, and keeping her company.  I’m walking because I feel like I need to do something to help, and this is about all I can do from three time zones away.

GMGatorGameFIU

My grandmother attending a Florida Gator’s football game

If you’d like to sponsor me as I walk, you can do so by clicking here.  Your money goes directly to the Alzheimer’s Association and will help researchers develop treatment and find a cure.

Celebrating Small Successes

Our yard is a disaster.  Both front and back. So I celebrate any small success I have when it comes to the outdoors and plants.

That’s why this makes me so happy!

photo (2)

 

I’ve kept these babies alive since April, and that’s pretty good for me and my black thumb!

photo (1)

 

We’ve had our tomato plants since April, as well, and they’ve recently started producing really well.  I don’t even like cherry tomatoes, but I’m thrilled I don’t have to buy them for Tom at the grocery store anymore!

10 Books in 10 sentences

My students often ask me to tell them what a book in my library is about.  I know from experience that I have about one sentence to really grab someone’s attention.  I was thinking about this the other day in terms of non fiction books I’ve personally read, and I wondered if I could sum up what I took away from each book in one sentence.  So here’s what I’ve learned from ten books I’ve read in the last few years.

The Allure of Hope: God’s Pursuit of a Woman’s Heart by Jan Meyers.  Hope is risky and messy, but we must allow ourselves to hope if we want to fully live.

7: An Experimental Mutiny in Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  We really have much more money, time, food, clothes, and media than we really need.

The Anxious Christian:  Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? by Rhett Smith.  Anxiety is not necessarily inherently bad and may be God’s way of getting our attention.

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam S. McHugh.  The modern-day American church overwhelmingly caters to the extrovert, so introverts must make a conscious effort to find ways in which they can enter into community and fellowship while still honoring their God-given personality.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson.  We need to resist the temptation to constantly be on the verge of our breaking points, and allow ourselves more breathing room emotionally, physically, and financially.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt.  A strategic and thorough web and social media presence is crucial for anyone who has a message they want people to hear.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  Despite the fact that our society generally sees extroverts as normal and introverts as anti-social, introverts have unique strengths that should recognized and nurtured.

Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas.  Marriage was not designed to make us happy, but to make us more like Christ.   [Okay, the title gives this one away, obviously!]

The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis.  God draws us to Himself through our desires, our hurts, and our loves.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” by Rachel Held Evans.  Despite the claims of many groups, denominations, and movements, there is no single definition of “Biblical” womanhood.

 

Top Books, Blogs, and Podcasts of 2012

Happy new year!  I thought I’d start off the new year by listing my favorite books, podcasts, and blogs of 2012.  Some of them have been around several years, but all of them were new to me in 2012.  Also, I can’t take credit for the idea to list my favorite media of 2012.  Several of my friends have done the same thing on their blog. I loved reading their lists, so I thought I’d steal the idea.

Books

  1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.  This book actually came out in 2006, but I first came across it this year.  This is a book I wish I had read in my early 20s, even though I was no where near the point of thinking about getting pregnant.  Whether you want children or not (and even if you’ve already had them), this book helps women go beyond the basics and really gets into the nitty gritty of fertility and conception.  It also gave me a renewed sense of awe at how women’s bodies were created and how they function.
  2. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt.  I like practical, nuts-and-bolts books, and Platform is just that.  It’s basically a manual for using social media to get your message (whatever that may be) out there.  I found it relevant for me as a budding blogger and as a school librarian.  Plus, I listen to Michael Hyatt’s podcast (see below), and I’m just a fan of whatever he does.
  3. Prayer of Heart & Body: Meditation & Yoga as Christian Spiritual Practice by Thomas Ryan and Holy Yoga by Brooke Boon.  I listed these two books as a tie because they went hand-in-hand for me.  I was doing a lot of yoga at the beginning of the year.  I firmly believe that movement can be a form of worship, but I was often uncomfortable with the philosophies and meditations in the classes I was attending.  I wanted to explore Christian thinkers in the yoga world and these two books were immensely helpful.

Blogs

2012 was The Year of the Blog for me.  I was trying to cut back on how many books I bought, so blogs are the perfect quick-fix for a reading addict like me. I have over 100 different blog subscriptions, but these are the three I’ll be sure to read if I only have a few minutes to spare.

  1. I Heart Organizing by Jen Jones.  I love reading anything about organizing.  It’s so fun to me, even if my execution isn’t always perfect!  This blog is the ultimate in eye-candy for organizing aficionados.  Beautiful pictures, easy ideas.  Love it!
  2. Her.meneutics by Christianity Today.  There were several essays on this blog this year that kept me thinking for days.  They’re always thoughtful and the comments are usually pretty interesting, too.
  3. Kitchen Stewardship by Katie Kimball.  I love the idea behind this blog:  that working in the kitchen is an opportunity to serve God and our families.  I will admit that some of the projects and tutorials on this blog are a little too “granola” for me, and some require time that I just don’t have.   But, it has made me a more conscious cook and eater.

Podcasts

I spent the first six months of 2012 commuting 75 miles each way, two days a week. The other three days, I worked alone at home.  Music made me sleepy, so I ended up getting hooked on podcasts.  I probably listened to at least 20 different podcast shows this year, but these three were my consistent go-to’s.

  1. This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt.  Hyatt is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson, one of the largest Christian publishers in the world.  He writes (and podcasts) practical articles on leadership, productivity, social media, and writing.  I love the variety of his topics and  how he puts his decades of leadership to good use.
  2. Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn.  I’ve become really interested in the idea of entrepreneurship/home-businesses, and I stumble across Smart Passive Income from another blog.  Pat Flynn is known as one of the most transparent and honest internet business owners out there.  He seems like a really genuine guy and it’s been fascinating to hear about internet business.
  3. This American Life by Chicago Public Media.  Okay, I’ve been listening to This American Life for several years now, so it wasn’t new in 2012.  But it’s so consistently good that I have to list it here.  Each week brings another story and they’re all amazing.

I’d love to hear your recommendations for books, blogs, or podcasts I should check out in 2013!