Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkins and pictures

Well, I used some strategically placed pumpkins to disguise the termite traps. Our front yard looks good again! We are not carving the pumpkins, so we should be able to keep them outside for a little while longer.

I have a baby shower to go to today. I'm OK with going, but this was not a planned pregnancy and the father is not really present, so it is a reminder of how easy it is for some people. I just can't believe she chose to have the baby shower on Halloween. Who does that?

I do plan on leaving the shower relatively early so I can be home for the trick or treaters. We usually get a lot of people in this neighborhood. I'm starting a new tradition this year. OK, I stole this tradition from a house I saw in the town I went to college in. I'm going to take a picture of everyone that comes to trick or treat at our house. Next year, I'll do the same thing, but also put up a poster with pictures from this year. So people who come for multiple years will see how they grow over the years. The house where I saw this, they had about 15 years of posters and big group of people on their porch looking back on all the years.

I've wanted to do this the past couple years when we realized our neighborhood has a lot of kids. I've hesitated b/c while I think it is a great way to document and build community, it can also be kinda creepy to have someone take a picture of your kids. But after my group in church was talking this week about the importance of community, I thought that was the nudge I needed to get started on this.

Friday, October 23, 2009


So we have termites. Obviously this can cause some problems in our house. But you know what bugs (pun intended) me the most? Termite control people have no sense of landscaping. Yeah, sure their first priority should be to get rid of the termites. But can't they put a little effort into not making the front of your house look like a big termite trap?

I discovered the termites in our mulch while planting some seeds and bulbs, in hopes of having a beautiful house with great curb appeal in the spring when everything blooms. They put not one, but three of those in-ground tubes right where I planted the bulbs, as well as where I planted the seeds. First, I don't know why they had to put 3 in one place. But more to the point, why couldn't they put them slightly to the side so they would be behind existing bushes? There is another spot in our front yard where they put them behind a bush, so they are less noticeable.

I was so looking forward to my flowers. Oh well, I guess now I can just look forward to a termite-free house.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


DH and I were enjoying our new espresso machine. We found another great deal on with this machine. Of course I've been drinking mostly decaf, but we still love having a hot drink with muffins on a weekend morning. While we were looking up reviews of this espresso machine to see if it was a good deal, we saw references to some monkey poo coffee. Apparently, this creature (not really a monkey, more like a cat) in Indonesia eats berries that contain coffee beans. The beans travel through the digestive system, come out the other side, and make some great coffee. And really expensive coffee.

Now we've never tried it or even seen a place where we could try it, but my sister the Starbucks barista said this poo coffee is all the rage. I'm not exactly eager to try it, but what I do want to know is how this coffee was discovered. These types of discoveries always intrigue me. Who sees coffee beans in the fecal matter of some obscure animal and thinks "hmm, I bet that is some good coffee"?

What about you fellow bloggers? What discovery/invention always makes you wonder how it was discovered?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Busy weekend

We had quite a busy weekend. Friday night I started cleaning out this big closet that is basically my "throw it in there" place where I put things I don't think about. I also put tons of boxes and packing supplies in there whenever we get a package. I had to clean it out because at some point right before Christmas last year, my mom sent us our present early: a Roomba! We loved it. And it worked great for about 9 months. Since our 1 year warranty is hitting the endpoint, we need to get it fixed. That meant I needed to pull out a year's worth of junk thrown in the closet to find the original box and packing slip with proof of purchase. Fortunately it was still there and it gave me a chance to organize the closet.

I am also taking this opportunity to get rid of some packing popcorn and various bubble wrap. A lot of this is leftover from when we moved to this house 2 years ago and some we acquired from various packages. I have a hard time getting rid of boxes and packing supplies. I think it has to with how much I moved around throughout my life. I never want to get rid of boxes because before I know it, I'm moving again. But we definitely plan to stay in this house for a while, so I guess I can let go of some of these moving supplies.

Saturday my nephew had this robotics competition and we saw him use the robot and tried to watch him do the oral presentation, but that was closed to the audience. But we were there to give moral support. Even my IL's came, even though my nephew is from my side of the family. His team did well, although they didn't make it to the next round. But considering they were mostly 6th graders and the competition went up to 12th grade, they did pretty well.

We also went with my ILs to a home tour in the area. DH and I love home tours and open houses. Basically we love getting inside other people's homes and snooping around. This particular tour had a bunch of homes in our neighborhood that had always intrigued me. But then we went inside and found out there wasn't much there to be jealous of. This one house had this historic entry way with an elaborate staircase. But then you move into the living room and see a bed in the next room on the way to the kitchen. There were no doors separating the room, just a bed right in the middle of the room. And the house got weirder from there.

Today after church we went to an art show and then I spent the day working in the yard. I planted some more flowers and trimmed the front lawn. Then I tried out our new blower/vaccuum and love it! Our yard looks so much neater and I was able to pick up a whole bunch of leaves. But I still can't wait until our fall yardwork is done. I enjoyed doing our front yard, but now the leaves is just work. We were even talking about it and the type of leaves we have are not even the pretty leaves like maple leaves. They are small and just shrivel up and make the yard look ugly rather than something you want to pile up and jump in.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Same sex couples and infertility

As some of you may know, I am a political junkie. I love politics and policy and yearn for the day when good policy actually makes for good politics (unfortunately that is all too rare).

Anyway, I follow many political blogs. The past several days the local political blogosphere in my city has been filled with talk of adoption by same sex couples. There are various proposals to make it illegal. I am a big proponent of equality for same sex couples. My mother is gay and so having been raised by a lesbian and seeing the difference between my mother and her partner and my dad and stepmom, it makes me mad when people argue that as a rule one couple is better/healthier/more natural than the other. Or that one set of my parents would automatically raise me better. Sure, I've had some of the usual stepchild-stepparent tensions with my mom's partner (you know, a little jealousy with losing the "smartest person in the family" label). But compared with my actual stepmother locking me out of her house when I went to visit my dad, it kinda gives you a different perspective on what family composition is healthier.

But yesterday I got a little obsessed with a particular blog post on this topic. And I think it has to do with our IF. See, there are two parts to the argument opponents of same-sex couples adopting that make me particularly sensitive to how they might also apply to couples struggling with IF. One, if nature doesn't think you should parent, then maybe you should listen. And two, the whole thing is more about giving the adults the life they want and not what is best for kids. Let's take these in turn.

First, one very common argument against same-sex couples adopting is that it is not natural. If God doesn't think two men or two women should be parents, then why should anyone else? (I'm not going to get into the whole separation of church and state thing here b/c my point is more about whether these arguments apply to infertile couples in addition to same sex couples.) At one point, this particular blog (which I won't link to b/c I don't want to send people there) said that it is "profoundly obvious" that couples that can't reproduce naturally have no business being parents.

I'm a person of faith. While I don't believe that God is moving us around like pieces on a checkerboard and organizing everything in our lives, I do think that our lives take a certain shape because God is present. So this is a hard thing for me to think about. Is God trying to send us a message that maybe we shouldn't be parents? Are our attempts to get pregnant through technology just a way to ignore this message?

There are a lot of shades of gray in my husband's and my journey with IF. So you could make the argument that we can reproduce, it's just very unlikely we would do so naturally. But what about my friends who have no usable eggs? Or my friends with husbands who have zero sperm? The truth is, I'm not sure how much difference people see between a same sex couple that can't reproduce and a hetero sex couple that can't reproduce. I mean, if you compare a lesbian couple to a couple with azoospermia, their basic reproductive difficulty is the lack of sperm between the two of them. So why do we say that one is fit to parent and the other is not?

This is not just an academic argument. Luckily I have not experienced this personally, but I know many of my IF friends have had people say straight out that maybe they are just not meant to be parents or maybe they should just listen to the message that nature/God is sending them and focus on something other than parenthood. And if I'm honest with myself, I've thought that in the deepest part of my brain.

And this is where we get to the second argument against same sex couples adopting that I think is tied to IF. Is the whole endeavor just about attaining our vision of what we want in life and the children involved just playthings for us? As expressed by opponents of same sex couples adopting, this is about gay rights, not about what is best for the children. While I don't agree that same sex couples are by definition less fit to be parents (and so the "it's not best for the children" is a red herring), I do see some truth to this argument. I am after all thinking of doing IUI and/or adopting because I want to be a mother. I don't like to think too much about the negative aspects of IUI (such as what happens if there are too many babies and thus the consequences for their health). And when I think of adopting, I think of bringing home a cute little newborn and say how great it is that I'm helping a kid in need. I don't think about adopting a toddler or older or a kid with special needs who are truly the children in need of good homes.

So part of me wonders that my passion for defending same sex couples in their ability to adopt stems from my own insecurities about IF and what it means for me. Should I listen to the message that maybe I'm not meant to be a mother? If I don't (because truly I don't want to), am I putting my own wants ahead of what is best for children? Regardless of what you think about same sex couples adopting, how do you all work through these questions?

Monday, October 12, 2009


So I spent this weekend working in our front yard. Shortly after we moved into this house, everything in the yard died. (Well, except for the weeds on the side of the house. We'll get to that later.) This past spring I decided to address our pitiful yard. Having never done anything outside before, I was at a bit of a loss. I saw some other houses in the neighborhood that had flowers lining the walk and thought I'd give that a try. I found some bulbs to plant that said plant in the spring and bloom in the summer. Well, they did bloom. Boy did they ever bloom. From just one little bulb a rootmass of about a foot in diameter grew and the flowers grew four feet tall. The whole thing took over the whole walkway.

I was very happy that something I planted actually grew, but had to pull it up because it just didn't work in that area. We planted some new bushes by our porch and some tulips and daffodils. I'm optimistic those will do well where I planted them. It already looks much better by getting rid of the overgrown flowers and planting the bushes.

The other task I accomplished was getting rid of some overgrown weeds/shrubs/trees. I'm not even sure what to call them. They got so big they really were trees (some were reaching our roof. But I think they start out small and just grow quickly like weeds. These particular weeds formed the border between our house and our neighbor's house. At one point there might have been some decent shrubs there, but the weed trees took over. I spent a good bit of time on Sunday cutting them down and clearing them out. Not all the way, so there is still some divide between our houses, but this looks so much better. The funny part is that two other neighbors actually stopped as we were doing it and said how they had really grown way too much.

I learned that I actually do like working in the yard. It is good meditation time and you accomplish something. Now if only I can get the lawn to actually have grass in it.

Friday, October 9, 2009


We are in the open enrollment period for benefits at work. So we have a chance to decide what insurance plan is best for us. I'm trying to figure out what would be best for us.

I work for a very large company, and we are fortunate that we have 3 options. They have varying levels of premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance. If our medical expenses for next year are about the same as they were this year, then one option is much cheaper. The disadvantage of that plan, though, is that it has the highest out of pocket maximum, so in the worst case scenario, we would end up paying $2K more than the other plans. So we have to decide how we feel about that risk.

But here's where it gets even trickier. None of the plans pay for the treatment of IF, but they do pay for the diagnosis of it. Our expenses this year were exclusively for diagnosis (they all have the same prescription drug plan so I'm not including costs for cl.omid or fem.ara in figuring this out). But, assuming we are not successful this cycle, we are going to start getting more aggressive and will start IUI. So we will move from diagnosis to treatment as our major contributor to costs.

I can also get a health savings account where basically I can put some of my income in an account specifically for medical costs (and this is good for fertility treatments) without paying taxes on it. But this amount does not carry over at the end of the year, so if I don't use, I lose it. Since this account can be used for IUI and IVF, my first inclination is to put a lot of money in there and save on taxes. But assuming I'm not pregnant now, I hope to do one IUI cycle before the end of the year. And then of course we have no idea how many cycles we will need.

What would you guys do in this situation?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Burger King

This is an update to my last post about the awesome McDonald's in Paris. It appears Burger King is trying to do the same thing in the states. This is kinda what the McDonald's looked like, although there were more video screens and obviously looking at the pictures doesn't let you hear what it sounded like.

Monday, October 5, 2009

McDonald's in Paris

So the Louvre museum in Paris is getting a McDonald's. Most people who have talked about this news today make some joke about the refinement of the Louvre not meshing with what McDonald's is about. Believe or not, I have to stand up to McDonald's.

It's not that I'm McDonald's biggest fan (although they do have the best french fries). But the only time I can say I was truly impressed by a fast food restaurant was at a McDonald's in Paris. Actually this one was just a few blocks from the Louvre on the Champs-Elysees. This was not your normal McDonald's. First, the entrance was on the first floor, but the restaurant itself was on the second floor. There were greeters on the first floor pointing the way upstairs. But they had headsets and were not wearing the traditional uniform. And the stairs are like a steel cage. The whole thing felt more like you are entering a club.

The club feeling continued inside the restaurant. The menu had all the usual items (although in French), but rather than the tacky old menus, they had video screens that flashed different menu items and little mini videos. When you picked up your food and sat down, there were more video screens playing music videos. I was traveling along on that trip and sat at a counter with a row of stools. At each place was a set of headphones where you could listen to music while you ate. You would not believe this unless you saw it yourself.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Dear blogging friends,
Sorry for my extended absence, but my life has been crazy for the past month. I had two big deadlines come to a head at work at the same time. One deadline was Wednesday and one was Thursday. unlike most deadlines in my job, these were firm deadlines so missing them was not an option. And both involved a great deal of work, especially the second deadline. We were writing a grant proposal and while we've been working on it all summer, there were many people and many institutions involved and of course it's always hard to get people to actually deliver on different parts until right at the deadline.

I did have a few nice things happen during this push to make the deadline. While meeting with a grad student I work with, I mentioned that I was tired because I didn't sleep much the night before. The next day she brings in a set of CDs she uses to help fall asleep and said she knows what it is like to lie awake at night stressed. I was touched, but then had to explain the reason I wasn't sleeping is that I was up working at all hours of the night. But that was so sweet of her to think of me.

Now my deadlines have passed and my life is somewhat back to normal. I managed to get caught up on email I ignored for the past 2 weeks. I spent some time vegging out and am mostly relaxing this weekend.
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