Wednesday, November 20, 2013

IVF, Part 2

I am sitting in Barnes and Noble, drinking a hot chocolate, and feeling pretty normal for the first time in weeks.  My IVF is done.  My embryo transfer was two days ago, and when it was all over and the doctors and nurses left the room, I lay on the exam table with Ryan by my side and cried—tears of relief that it is over, tears of hope from the news that my embryos were great quality and we had several left over to freeze, and tears of exhaustion after such a strange and stressful month.

It’s been intense, that’s for sure.  In some ways, it feels like it’s been the longest month of my life, and in other ways, it feels like it was just yesterday that I found out my ovarian cysts were gone and I could start the IVF drugs.  It’s hard to believe how many medications, injections, doctor appointments, invasive procedures, and drives to Utah I’ve packed into the last six weeks.  It’s all a little disorienting, and I feel like I haven’t processed it all—like I just robotically went through the motions and followed the checklist from my doctor without allowing myself to feel much of it.  I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.  I think it’s a defense mechanism that our bodies and minds engage in so we can get through some of the most overwhelming experiences of our lives.  But now that it’s all over, I want to take at least a few minutes to sit down and figure out how it all felt.  And I guess I’ll start at the beginning…

My first medication was a nightly shot that “quieted” my ovaries before the process of follicle stimulation began.  This lovely medication gave me uncharacteristic flashes of anger but mostly made me feel totally overwhelmed by the daily tasks of life.  The IVF nurse told me that this drug drops your estrogen levels and essentially puts you into extended PMS.  Fun, right?? 

Though those first few weeks were difficult, I was still home in Twin Falls and if I kept to my routine of getting out of the house with Noah—grocery shopping, kids’ class at the YMCA, post-naptime stories—then I was okay.  I wished that I had my sisters or my closest girlfriends around to distract me during those anxious days, but I discovered that I really like yoga and I started going to a local class twice a week, and I also allowed myself to cut corners whenever the overwhelm started to press too heavy.  (Not feeling up to making dinner? Café Rio it is!)  I had the distinct impression during those weeks that lots of family and friends were praying for me and that their prayers were buoying me up—that they were carrying part of my burden.  I felt so grateful.

Then I added the follicle-stimulating hormone shots, and initially, I didn’t feel too much different.  I even looked forward to my upcoming week in Utah for doctor appointments because my mother-in-law would have Noah in Pocatello, and I thought I would enjoy my kid-free week.  I scheduled visits with friends and family and envisioned having lots of time to journal, blog, read, and rest. 

I’m glad I did most of my visits within the first two days that I was in Utah because after that, I completely hit a wall.  Those next several days were, without a doubt, the hardest part of my treatment.  The hormones really started taking their toll, and I felt weepy, fuzzy-brained, crampy, dizzy, and bloated—not to mention bruised and tender from three shots in the stomach every evening.  Perhaps worst of all, my elevated estrogen levels gave me insomnia, so even though I was absolutely exhausted, I couldn’t sleep at night.

During this time, the injections became more involved, and the dosages increased and changed each day depending on what the doctor was seeing on my ultrasounds and in my blood work.  I was in charge of measuring and administering my medications, and I constantly worried that I was going to mess something up.  I am a worrier by nature, but I think the hormones increased this tendency, as I found myself fretting between appointments that something dramatic was going to go wrong with me medically and the doctor wouldn't catch it in time.  I have an irrational phobia of medical problems (I think because I witnessed my mom's thirteen-year battle with cancer), and all of my fears became magnified when I was on the IVF medications.

One night, I hit a blood vessel when I did a shot, and as blood oozed into a pool on my stomach and my head started to spin, I wanted to lie right down on my brother-and-sister-in-law’s kitchen floor and burst into tears.  I didn’t—because for some reason I always feel like I need to keep it together in front of other people—but I did excuse myself to a corner where no one in the living room could see me and lay down for a few minutes until the world stopped spinning.  

And then I stood up and gave myself my next shot.

I missed Ryan, I missed my own bed, I missed my normal routines.  I felt very alone.  Though I was surrounded by people who were concerned about me, I still felt alone.  I often felt the prompting that God understood and was aware of me, and I tried to pray and tell him how I was feeling—but it was hard to put it into words.  I usually just stayed on my knees for a few minutes by the side of the bed, my head on the edge of the mattress, and let the emptiness that I felt do the talking.  I think God understands those kinds of prayers too.

In the midst of all of this, I had beautiful moments with my loved ones.  My sister-in-law was expecting a baby any day, and I loved being with her during a time of such excitement.  We went for a walk on a lovely autumn day and talked about pregnancy, life, and motherhood.  My brother-in-law read me lame Laffy Taffy jokes while I was doing my shots to get my mind off the pain.  I received phone calls or texts every few days from my best friends in Buffalo who have done IVF and who know what a difficult and lonely path it can be.  One of my closest friends from college spent a few days with me, and she was so attentive and concerned about me.  We went shopping and she helped me pick out some stylish brown boots (my first pair of boots ever!) to wear with my church dresses.  Though my body ached and my brain felt fuzzy during most of our outings, I was so grateful for the distraction.

How, with all of this amazing support, did I feel alone?  I don’t know, and I honestly feel a little weak and ungrateful admitting how lonely I felt.  But it’s just something about fertility treatments—about the realization that no one, not even your husband, is as invested in this journey as you are or will ever understand what it feels like to have the most sensitive parts of your body examined and to have medications that mess with your personality and emotions pumped into your system.  But one thing I know for sure is that this process would have been much harder without the love and support of my family and friends.  I am so grateful to them and for them.

My mother-in-law brought Noah to Utah a few days before my egg retrieval so we could be together, and as excited as I was to see him, he was very out-of-sorts from so much change to his routine.  We were both exhausted and overwhelmed, and he screamed every time I put him to bed and threw tantrum after tantrum when he didn’t get his way.  I kept telling myself that we would be home soon and back into a consistent, stable routine, but it didn’t keep me from stressing out about his behavior.  Thank goodness Sally has been so willing to help with Noah this month—it has been such a blessing to live close to them during all of this.   

Finally, finally, Ryan arrived in Utah the night before my egg retrieval.  Noah and I went outside to greet him, and Ryan scooped Noah into his arms and we stood under the stars with our arms around each other.  “Family snuggle!” Noah said, as we wrapped him into a tight hug and looked up at the moon.  This was one of the perfect moments—those moments that remind me why I am doing all of this, that remind me that building a family is worth whatever effort it takes to get there.

Once Ryan arrived, the worst of everything was over.  Even the egg retrieval and my subsequent recovery wasn’t as bad as that week of shots and appointments in Utah.  Several of my friends have done IVF, and I think it’s so interesting how our bodies have responded differently to each step of the process; for some of them, the hormone shots didn’t affect them very much but the egg retrieval was brutal.  For me, it was the opposite.  Of course I was uncomfortable and swollen, but I’m fortunate that my body was able to bounce back fairly quickly and I didn’t suffer the debilitating pain that some of my friends have experienced with that procedure.

After the retrieval, as we headed back to Idaho, I lay in my reclined seat in the car and texted so many friends and family who had been asking for updates about my procedures.  I was overcome by the realization that I am blessed—so blessed—to have all of these people to update.  I glanced in the backseat at my little Noah, who was sound asleep in his car seat and clinging to his monster blanket, and then I looked at my hand in Ryan’s on the center consul of the car.  I squeezed it tight.

It’s been a week since the egg retrieval, and we’ve been back to Utah for the embryo transfer, and now we are back home again, ready to resume our normal lives.  With the exception of a few hormones I have to continue taking to give me the best chance at pregnancy, IVF is over—which is kind of hard to believe. 

And what’s perhaps even harder to believe is that as I sit here with my mug of hot cocoa, only days after my treatment has ended, I find myself thinking, “Was it really that bad?”  I think this is another defense mechanism employed by our minds—minimizing the pain after the trial is over so we will choose to do hard things again in the future.

The truth is, it was that bad.  It was hard—really hard.  But now that I’ve written all of this down, made some sense of it and captured some of the worst and best moments in words, I can let the pain fade away.  IVF is over, at least for now, and we are so fortunate to have had strong embryos to transfer and several more to freeze. If I don't get pregnant this month, I won't have to do the shots all over again because we will have the frozen embryos to use. I am grateful beyond words for that. 

So now we wait.  We wait two weeks for a blood test that will reveal whether or not we’ll be welcoming a baby to our home in nine months.  Oh how I hope and pray that a little one is on the way to us.  But no matter what that pregnancy test reveals, I know that we will be okay—

Somehow, we always are.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Babies, Babies

In the past two weeks, two new babies have joined the Nielson family! It has been exciting and emotional--with group texts flying almost every day to share labor progress, baby arrivals, and newborn photos. I think it is amazing how technology unites families even when we live far apart.

My nephew Tate was born to Cole and Sara in Missouri on November 7th.  I wish we could be closer to them during this special time, but I am grateful that we've been able to Skype. I love watching Cole snuggle and rock his first child.  And Sara is such a beautiful and gentle mama. I love this little family so  much and can't wait to meet Tate...hopefully in the not-too-distant future! (Come see us in Idaho, Tate!!)

I love the joy, emotion, and excitement in both of their faces.  Sweetest.

Oh I want to smooch his scrumptious cheeks!
Then this past Saturday, my niece Lily was born to Derek and Alli in Utah. I actually got to spend several days with them in the week just prior to Lily's birth because I had IVF doctor appointments in Utah, and it was so fun to be with them as they anticipated Lily's arrival.  There was a lot of talk about contractions and labor...and lots of guessing about when Baby Girl would make her appearance.  I'm so glad that Lily waited to arrive until I was back in Utah for another doctor appointment because I got to go visit her in the hospital on her second day of life.  Oh, I love her!  What a little snuggle bug...and with so much soft, beautiful hair!  Derek and Alli are going to be the best parents.  They are so cute and loving with little Lily. 

Just wanted to make sure that everyone knows I am pointing to Alli's baby belly in this pic! :)

I love being an aunt!  And I will have another little nephew in a few little sister, Laura, is expecting a baby boy in mid-January!  I can't wait! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Outdoor Fun in Idaho

When Ryan and I were dating, a friend of a friend asked me to tell her about my boyfriend.  I mentioned that he was from Idaho, and she freaked out.  "Idaho!  Such a romantic state!  I feel electric when I am in Idaho!"  

Now obviously this girl was a real character, but I have thought of her comment in the years since, especially when I've seen all of the beauty and varied landscapes that Idaho has to offer.  I don't know if I'd say I feel electric when I am here, but I am often surprised by all of the hidden beauty in this state.  And I've never even made it to northern Idaho--areas like Coeur d'Alene, which I've heard are absolutely stunning.  (That's on my bucket list.  Maybe Ry should take me for my 30th birthday in the spring?)

We had some great family adventures exploring the outdoors of central Idaho this fall.  Whenever Ry has a day off and the weather is good, we try to go on a little day trip (otherwise we end up wasting the day doing chores and surfing the Internet).  Here are a few photos of some of the highlights: 

*Balanced Rock.  This interesting rock formation is in the middle of the Idaho desert.  Noah loved climbing around, and he still tells me that certain foods or shapes he sees remind him of "Balanced Rock."  Interestingly, just a mile away from this desert landmark is a green, verdant little park in a river canyon.  Such a contrast in scenery!  And on the way home, we stopped at the local Cloverleaf Creamery and got farm fresh milk and ice cream.  Yum.

*Miracle Hot Springs.  This little gem is about 45 minutes from our house in the middle of nowhere, and it was surprisingly nice.  Pools of different temperatures open all year round.  We will definitely go back, maybe in the winter when it's snowy.  That might be kind of fun.

Sorry if you are blinded by my husband's sexy white chest.
*Sun Valley.  We are no strangers to this part of Idaho; Ryan's grandparents have had a cabin there  his whole life, and I've written before about how I fell in love with Ryan there.  But this fall, Ryan embarked on a new adventure in those familiar mountains: He biked 110 miles over Galena Summit and back with his dad!  They did an organized ride with lots of other bikers, and they really enjoyed it.  The only catastrophe was that Ryan got stung by a bee right underneath his eye, and he swelled up and looked a bit like Quasimodo.  A darn cute Quasimodo--I can't believe I didn't get a photo!

*Thousand Springs State Park.  This is actually a series of seven parks between Twin Falls and Boise, and we haven't yet figured out the best places to go.  It's confusing because there doesn't seem to be any rangers or park information anywhere to direct you to the most scenic spots.  But we will keep searching for great places!  A few weeks ago, we went to the Malad Gorge and were disappointed, but then we got lucky and went to Niagara Springs and really enjoyed it.  I don't know if the photos do it justice, but these springs just come pouring right out of the middle of the canyon walls.  They don't originate in rivers--I guess they originate in underground lakes that spill out of the soft canyon rock.  Crazy.  

*And last but not least, good ol' Twin Falls.  I am amazed by the beauty that is right in our backyard, particularly with the Snake River and the canyon nearby.  There is a paved Canyon Rim Trail where we enjoy walking, and there's also a short but pretty canal trail near our house that passes some spectacular and huge trees.  The fall colors were beautiful last month.

Don't mind the port-a-potty--aren't the trees awesome?

Idaho really is a beautiful place.  I am sad that it's cold now so we can't continue going on our outdoor excursions, but maybe we'll find some wintery fun in the coming months.  We'll see.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Life in Twin

For months I’ve been saying that I would write an update about our life in Twin Falls, Idaho.  Here it is.  It’s long and scattered and a little dry, but hopefully it will give you a taste of our life in this new and different place. 

“Twin” (as the locals call it) has a population of about 40,000.  It feels like a good size to me.  We aren’t living in a tiny town with only one stoplight, but we also aren’t fighting traffic and crowds all the time.  In fact, one of my favorite things about this small city is that I never run into traffic.  I can get anywhere in town in 10-15 minutes (most places in 5-10).  Beyond that, it is farmland.  And the farmland is beautiful.  Before we moved to Idaho, I never thought that my two-year-old would know words such as “silo” and “hay bales.”   He loves seeing all the cows and horses, and he especially loves the spinning wind turbines along the highway to Pocatello and Boise. 

Twin Falls is quite literally in the middle of nowhere.  It does not connect to bigger cities.  Pocatello is 1 hr and 45 minutes east, and Boise is 2 hours and 15 minutes northwest.  On the drive to both of those cities, you’ll see some small towns, but mostly, you will see farmland.   When my dad recently asked Noah what he had seen on our drive home from Boise, he responded, “Cows.”  When my dad asked if he had seen anything else, Noah thought about it for a moment and then said matter-of-factly, “Nope.”  Sounds about right.

Twin has a small mall (where we did our Where’s Waldo photo shoot), and it also has a Target, Old Navy, and some good restaurants.  So it’s not exactly a shopper’s mecca, but I am not a huge shopper anyway, so it has been just fine for me.  If anything, it’s kept me from spending money because I’m not tempted to go check out sales at Baby Gap. :)

My favorite thing about Twin (even more than the lack of traffic) is that it is right on the Snake River.  It is gorgeous.  The Snake cuts through a deep canyon that is breathtaking, and we’ve found several places to walk and hike as a family. Pretty amazing.

This summer, we had a lot of fun exploring the outdoors of Twin Falls and surrounding small towns.  We found plenty to do, including a great little lake less than ten minutes from our house that is perfect for wading, swimming, and hiking.


I am a little nervous about finding stuff to do in the winter.  I’ve heard it’s not that snowy, but it is very windy which makes it cold.  Maybe I will actually have to brave Pinterest (that site gives me a panic attack) to try to find fun things to do with Noah indoors. I've started taking him to a nursing home near our house once a week to chat with the residents for an hour or so, and I'm thinking I will sign us up for a mommy-and-me swimming class at the YMCA this winter... any suggestions of things to do with a toddler in a small town during the winter?

To get into the city of Twin Falls, you have to cross a huge bridge over the Snake River, which is the memorable Twin Falls landmark.  It’s also one of the only places in the United States where it is legal to base jump.  People come from all over the country to jump off this 486-foot-tall bridge with parachutes.  Crazies!  Ryan and Noah even caught a video when they went for a Saturday morning hike together down in the canyon. (Click below.)

We love the house we are renting.  It is 1800 square feet, three bedrooms, two bathrooms. It is small enough to keep clean but big enough to feel like we have plenty of space and storage. It is all one level, which is awesome because I am lazy and don’t like climbing up and down stairs a million times a day.  We found the house on Craigslist and had only seen a few photos before we moved in, so we were so thrilled by all of the little extras it has, such as a laundry room with a folding counter, a three-car garage with tons of storage shelving, and a walk-in pantry.  Heaven!  I also loved the cute gardens this summer—the daisies in the front yard are my favorite. 

We like our neighborhood, though it is quiet and people haven’t really gone out of their way to be friendly.  (Kind of surprises me, since small-town Idaho is known to be a really neighborly place.)  I think I will have to make some pumpkin bread this month and take it to our neighbors.  We’ve met a few of them but not all, and those whom we have met we don’t know well at all.  I’d really like to know my neighbors.

There is a Mormon temple in Twin Falls, actually right by our house.  It is amazingly beautiful, and Noah sings “I Love to See the Temple” every time we drive by.  

Looking at those photos of the temple reminds me of another thing I love about Idaho...the wide open sky!  The clouds and the sunsets are absolutely amazing, and it doesn't get dark in the summer until almost 10 p.m.!

Photo taken at 9:30 p.m. in July!

We’re enjoying our church community thus far—lots of young families and friendly people.  One problem that I’m finding is that most of the young moms have 3-4 kids, so they aren’t in the same stage of life as I am.  With only one toddler at home, I am looking for friends who want to have playdates at the park, but these moms have elementary schoolers and are just in a busier, different stage.  So although I have “friends” whom I chat with at church, it’s been a little hard to get to know people on a deeper level.  I am someone who really craves deep friendships and kindred spirits, so I’ll admit that I’ve been a little lonely for the past few months.  But I am okay, and I know it takes time for bosom friendships to form.  There is one other young mom with just a two-year-old, and she is great and our boys have tons of fun together, so that’s a blessing.   Also, two of the families who went to church with us in Buffalo live here in Twin (isn’t that random??), and I’ve loved being close to them again--but they live across town, so I don’t see them as much as I’d like.  One thing that Ryan and I have been trying to do in order to make friends is invite a different family to our home each Sunday for dessert so we can get to know people better.  That’s been fun, but building friendships just takes a while.

Speaking of our church community, there are lots of Mormon people in Twin Falls, which actually concerned me a little before moving here.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Mormons (hello, I am one), but I’ve always had friends of all beliefs and backgrounds and I feel like it has really enriched my life.  I don’t want to only have Mormon friends.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised that there seems to be more diversity in this town than I thought before moving here.  There are tons of churches all over the city—lots of different denominations.   There’s also a refugee center here, and as I drive around town, I see lots of people who are clearly from varied backgrounds.  The problem is, now that I’m not working, it’s more difficult to meet people.  I’m trying to figure out ways to get involved in the community, but I’m kind of drawing a blank.  Does anyone have any ideas for me?  I’ve thought about looking into opportunities to volunteer somewhere, possibly at that refugee center, and I even thought about looking into teaching an English class at the community college here in town, but first we were moving and settling in, and then I started IVF stuff, so I just haven’t gotten to it yet.  I hope to do that in the near future and would welcome suggestions.

Ryan is really liking his job.  He is an associate at an office with two other pediatric dentists and one general dentist.  I think he joined a great practice, and I’m grateful.  When he’s at work, he’s crazy busy seeing about 30-35  kids a day.  I’m sure that is incredibly tiring because many of those kids are scared and/or crying, and their parents are nervous as well, so Ry is constantly trying to calm kids and/or parents in addition to doing the dentistry.  But he enjoys the work and the work environment, and he has great hours and never has to bring work home with him.  It’s kind of amazing.  So different from dental school and residency.  I love having my husband around.  On one of his days off last month, he brought me into the office  and did some of my dental work.  I had two cute dentists working on me...score!  

So there you go…that’s our life in Twin Falls in a nutshell.  It feels difficult to capture it all in words, but I did my best.  People often ask me if we are going to be here forever; the truth is, I don't know.  So far, we really like almost everything about it, but I am so hesitant to commit to "forever" in one I guess time will tell!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Magic in the Midst of IVF

It's been almost two weeks since I started doing injections for IVF.  As I expected, the drugs have messed with my hormones, and I have had some bizarre outbursts of emotion lately.  For example (and I can't believe I am relating this humiliating story on a public blog), when we were doing a little photo shoot of Noah's Halloween costume last weekend and things weren't going very smoothly, I let out a frustrated "Ugh!," stomped into the bedroom, and shut the door forcefully behind me.  (Okay, I slammed it.)  I immediately felt embarrassed by this adult temper tantrum and sheepishly opened the door and asked Ryan to forgive me.  Fortunately, he was willing to comply.  Unfortunately, Noah witnessed this dramatic scene, and later that day, he threw down a toy he was frustrated with, shouted "Ugh!" and slammed his bedroom door.

Wow.  I am a great role model.  How is it that I slam the door once in my son's entire lifetime, and he commits it to memory and will probably be reenacting the scene for the next 16 years to come?!  I am awesome!

Luckily for me, there's a great PBS cartoon called Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood that is based on the delightful old classic Mr. Rogers, and Daniel the Tiger has taught Noah better ways of dealing with frustration than his mother has.  Noah and I watched an episode the other day that featured a song that we have both sung over and over this week: "When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four!"  It's a pretty catchy little ditty, and both the tantruming toddler and the tantruming adult in this house have utilized the count-to-four technique since learning it.  

So yes, I've had occasional uncharacteristic flashes of anger and impatience while on these drugs, but the biggest symptom that I've noticed is a general sense of overwhelm.  I feel completely and totally overwhelmed by the daily tasks of life that usually just stress me out a little--things like doing dishes, cooking meals, grocery shopping (Costco nearly did me in the other day), feeding Noah, and cleaning up his mashed food after meals.  I never like doing these things, but they usually don't make me feel paralyzed with inadequacy like they have this week, so I'm guessing it's the drugs.  Or at least that's what I'm going to blame it on.

I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, and it's okay if I have to cut some corners for a while.  I've given myself permission to get almost nothing accomplished on my to-do list during the day if I'm not feeling up to it.  We've been using paper plates for most meals, we've ordered take-out much more often than is normal for us, and Noah and I have been spending lots of time snuggling and watching educational cartoons (that are surprisingly effective at teaching us how to manage our emotions!) during the day.

As long as I'm not pushing myself too hard, it hasn't been too bad.  I'm feeling okay--not the best I've ever felt in my life, but not as bad as I feared I would feel, which is such a blessing.  (I had huge fears going into this process.)  I have felt the effect of your prayers, so thank you for that.  I truly, truly appreciate it.

Another thing that I decided to do in order to make it through this emotional time is to start writing in my gratitude journal again.  It's been a while since I have really put effort into that habit, and I figured now is a great time to isolate those "magic moments" that occur during even the most stressful and difficult of days, those moments that make all of the work that goes into becoming and being a mother worth it.  As I've been looking for those moments throughout the day, knowing that I would write them down later, I've been shocked by how often they occur.  I try to let time stand still when I realize that a perfect moment is happening, and it fills me with gratitude, joy, and awe for the blessings I've been given.

So I thought I would share a few of my gratitude journal entries from the past week, just to prove that life right now isn't all slamming doors and near panic attacks in grocery superstores. :)

Friday, October 25th
Sitting next to Ryan at the kitchen table tonight as he painted Noah's Waldo shirt, holding my mug of hot cocoa and talking with him about life and our marriage.

Saturday, October 26th
Looking over my shoulder as I wiped down windows at the church this morning and seeing my little Noah, still in his skeleton pajamas, following along behind me, carrying his own rag and trying so diligently to clean the doorknobs.

Sunday, October 27th
Listening to Ryan as he whispered to Noah during the Sacrament, telling him about the special bread and water that remind us of Jesus and listing off all of the good things Noah had done during the week that made Jesus happy. Sweetest.

Monday, October 28th
Taking a rest on my bed after dinner and being joined by my little snuggle bug, who generally doesn't lie still for very long but stayed in my arms for several minutes.  I looked at his perfect face, just inches from mine, and whispered, "I love you, Noah," to which he responded in his cutely loud whisper, "I love you too, Mommy!"

Tuesday, October 29th
Sitting on the sidewalk outside our home with Noah on my lap in the dark, cool evening, watching our pumpkin glowing and telling him the story of "why Persephone the Pumpkin has such a big smile" (because she loves her best friend Noah so much).

Wednesday, October 30th
Taking Noah to the assisted living facility near our house to pass out Halloween treats and talking with 95-year-old Miss Nellie (who always calls Noah a "dandy boy!") about her deceased husband, whom she was married to for 75 years and who she says is still watching over and taking care of her.

Thursday, October 31st
Sitting around the kitchen table with Noah and Ryan after trick-or-treating and sampling Noah's loot.  Noah insisted on praying over it (I guess he's used to prayers at the dinner table), and he said, "Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you bless this candy!"  Amen to that!

I am so grateful for my life and especially for the opportunity to be a mother.  Every day is magical with Noah in it.  He says or does something every single day that makes me laugh or delights me due to his cuteness and cleverness.

I don't know how the rest of our children will join our family--maybe the next one is practically on his/her way through this IVF attempt or maybe he/she will join our family through adoption.  It truly doesn't matter to me how our children get here--I just can't wait to love them and to experience this world with them.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Where's Waldo?

Ryan and I went to the mall the other night, and we were surprised to spot a recognizable character near the entrance.

Look closely.
Everywhere we went, this cute little Waldo kept popping up in all sorts of hiding places.  I must say, it was one of the most enjoyable trips to the mall I've ever had.

After we spotted Waldo hiding out in a photo booth, we asked if we could join him.  He reluctantly agreed.

After that, he decided we were nice and stopped hiding from us.  He even climbed on Ryan's shoulders and got a little ride.

Then we convinced him to come home with us.  He was very thrilled to meet our pumpkin, which Ryan has named "Persephone" (no joke).

I think we will keep Waldo forever.  Wouldn't you??

Happy Halloween!  
Love, Rachel, Ryan, Waldo, and Persephone