Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I resemble everyone
but myself, and sometimes sees
in shop-windows
 despite the well-known laws
 of optics
the portrait of stranger,
date unknown,
often signed in a corner

~By the father of A.K. Ramanujan

I'm not a selfie girl. In fact, this is the first time I've ever posted photos of myself on this blog. Part of it is vanity, as I've never considered myself a "pretty girl." Part of it is anonymity, which makes posting photos a no-no.

So why now? Well, the truth is that infertility rarely has a real face. Someone people can look to directly when given a diagnosis. Often the imagined woman (because there's still this myth that infertility is a woman's condition) is seen as homely, ugly from bitterness and terribly disheveled. She's not real.

So in a weird way, this is my confirmation to the world that I, someone who is living with infertility and surviving the storm, am real. I do exist. My flaws, my fizzy hair due to a day of long work, but also me uncensored and unPhoto-Shopped.

Just an ordinary girl. With an unordinary story.

Monday, March 28, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Sacred

"Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again."
~Joseph Campbell

Memorial garden outside of the town library  
Martha returned from Antarctica yesterday. A full month of chasing Humpback whales with researchers and taking lots of photos. To celebrate her return, Grey and I took it upon ourselves to create Easter egg ornaments to decorate the holiday tree. Surprising her in the morning with the final product.

Sitting up on Holy Saturday, I had flashbacks to my childhood spent on evenings before Easter Sunday. The church services in complete darkness where the congregation was undergoing a period of mourning. The promise of light to come from that darkness.

This period of darkness has been on my mind more recently. How the uncertainty can rip one apart. Of why community and finding sanctuary from those storms is so important for survival and overcoming that darkness.

For those who know MissC, please drop by her blog and send her a hug or some love. It took a lot of bravery to post about all she did and I know she's still in the thick of this hurricane. Please help me wrap her in love as she weathers this storm, helping her find shelter in this sacred place we call community.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Forgiveness and Heal

"Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger, but faces it head-on." 
~Alice Duer Miller

"Always defend your right to heal at your own pace. You are taking your time. You are allowed to take your time."
~ Author unknown

This time of year always creeps up on me. The temperamental weather brings a false-sense of security that Winter is still here instead of Spring being just around the corner. But Spring is coming, forcing its way quietly into the world. And with this emergence of life comes the reminder of all that was lost.

I'm been lucky to be allowed to grieve in my own way. To be afforded the ability to feel anger, to cry, to have days where it hurt to even move. David and Dee helped me and Grey build that solid foundation to weather the grief and encounter the tidal waves. Despite this, there are still sore points. Moments where the grief catches me unexpectedly and forces me under. While others joke about April Fool's day or comment on emerging flowers, I find myself fighting back sadness.

They would have been 3 1/2 yrs old by now. Rocking out in preschool and getting into all sorts of trouble. And though I know that their existence would have meant that we would likely not have the Beats, I still can't help missing them.

I'm still learning to forgive my body for all of this. Learning to forgive those who abandoned us during this period. To let go of the anger from it all. This comes in waves too. There are days I think it's mastered only to pull me back under. Forgiveness is such a funny thing.

For now, all I can do is keep trying. Keep living. All while remembering the beauty and life that was here, even though for only a short time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Risk

Choose your stone 

"Like a peddle thrown into water
The ripples will turn into waves
That go out and touch one another
With what you do and what you say.

Be you kind or be you cruel
Be a wise one or be a fool
How you win and how you lose
It's your own stone to choose

We touch others with what we say and do
That which you send out will come back to you
In the waves in the water from the stones that we throw
Someday, somehow, somewhere,
Someone will know . . . .

Whatcha going to say? Whatcha going to do?
What will they remember, when they remember you?
Whatcha going to give? Who you going to know?
How ya going to live? Where you going to go?
Which stone will you choose to throw?
Choose your stone, choose your stone . . . ."

~By Christine Tortorella for The Children's Village

Last Thursday, I bit the bullet and began potty training the Beats. Since Thanksgiving, we've abandoned the changing table and they have been getting all diaper changes done in the bathroom. But I haven't been aggressive about ditching the diapers. Between the holidays, then job stress, then Grey losing his job and all that came between, potty training has been on the back-burner. Even with their teachers.

To prepare for this transition, I had done some reading. There were the guidelines endorsed by the American Academy for Pediatrics. But I also picked up a book that resembled one of the ever-popular boot camps for potty training. Reading through this book, I found my anxiety start to rise. Though the author claims high degrees of success, there was a lot of judgment passed on parents who either waited until after her prescribed timeline to potty train and an underlying message about failure for both parent and child who failed to succeed at the program, mainly it being they weren't serious and didn't want to achieve this milestone.

After 4 days of being home, She-Beat is fully potty trained while He-Beat is still in diapers. If I believed the author for this boot camp book, I would classify He-Beat as a failure on the road of having serious behavior issues. And that I'm a failure as a parent. Instead, what I've been focusing on is what He-Beat has learned. That even though he is anxious about being on the potty, he now is curious about the process and has been learning how to control his bladder. That the few accidents we've had have actually been learning opportunities for him.

And that's not failure at all. It's actually the first steps in learning where if we continue to work with him and encourage him, will lead to success.

I've been thinking a lot about the author of this boot camp potty training book and her attitude as we've been going through this process. The judgment that she passes so easily on others. Sure, she's selling a product and part of that process means pushing this idea that if you follow her program to the T that success is guaranteed. But there's also an element there that speaks volumes about who she is as a person and how she views herself in the world. And though I was initially angry about this judgment, I found myself realizing how sad of a situation she's actually created for herself. That she's actually a pretty unhappy person. Why else would one be so cruel with regards to a milestone that should be empowering the next generation?

As educators, there's a big push to recognize that there are many modes of learning and tapping these requires using different approaches. Starting with simple differences like visual vs. auditory learning to more complex levels involving synthesis based on prior knowledge and discovery through exploration, we know that no two people learn the exact same way. Most interestingly and yet most terrifying, is the importance of learning through risk and failure. That failure in healthy doses actually is a far better teacher as overcoming that failure involves problem-solving and actually grasping key concepts surrounding a problem. Facing failure is scary, as we are forced to confront things we otherwise would chose to ignore. But so much good can come from it.

Despite knowing this, there's still this need to run others down following failure. Those who succeed can quickly pass judgment, often as an inherent flaw of the person facing the failure. You're stupid, you're lazy, you're paying for past behaviors or G_d/the Universe/name-your-deity doesn't believe you deserve this success. These judgments are damaging, creating doubt and promoting fear. And so there's a tendency to shy away from risk of trying something different or new instead of celebrate the courage that it took to even try.

On Saturday, during a hailstorm, an amazing double-rainbow appeared outside our window. So intense that you could see it end in the backyard of some houses not too far from where we live. Grey commented on how amazing it was to witness something like this, particularly during a moment where one could easily be pelted by ice. And yet if we had shied away from the windows, out of fear of the ice breaking them, we would have missed this.

So, we're moving forward. She-Beat is acting as a role model for her brother and He-Beat is finding himself surrounded by adults who are encouraging him on this milestone. Helping him even when he's still not entirely sure about it and celebrating the steps he's taking each day.

Because without risk there is no growth. And those who promote fear and hate are living in a terrible form of hell.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Patience ~ by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Is your baby alligator
scared to ride the elevator?
No need to interrogate her.
She can learn to do it later.
Patiently accommodate her.
Little fears grow great and greater.
Let her take the escalator.
When she's ready, elevate her.
Kiss her.
Hug her.
Celebrate her.

Currently hugging the alligator. More to come soon.


The capacity to learn is a gift;
The ability to learn is a skill;
The willingness to learn is a choice.
~Brian Herbert

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Family is like music;
some high notes,
some low notes,
but always a beautiful song
~Author unknown

Last night, Grey covered me during dinner so I could take Jaxson to the vet. Since the discovery of his tooth problems, I've been very worried about him. Thankfully, we were able to find a vet who was both reputable and had late-night openings to see him, so we booked an appointment.

Jaxson has always had an interesting relationship with vets. From a young age, he's had a large, red WARNING sticker outside his medical charts to alert anyone not familiar with him how difficult and dangerous of a patient he can be. A fact that shocks many who meet him as he's usually incredibly sweet and curious with everyone else. To date, he's spooked at 5 vet techs, with the most memorable moment being a young man who was reduced to tears after Jaxson bite through the animal trainer gloves he was wearing (and despite multiple warnings that said gloves weren't going to work) and he's left many a vet wide-eyed following lashing-outs while in exam. I still remember one vet pulling me aside to show me the long catheter tube she had attached to his IV following a night spent at the emergency vet. Apparently he wouldn't let any one on staff come near him without many warnings that he was not pleased and more than happy to draw blood.

The vet that we've been with primarily (outside of the rare incident), knows he's behavior patterns and also knows that it's due to him being incredibly freaked out, so long ago she worked out a protocol for how to both minimize his anxiety as well as make sure all involved were safe when dealing with him. Early on, we learned that placing him in an e-collar immediately tempered his behavior, allowing her to handle and exam him without issue. It's always been impressive to watch her with him, as she loved on him with every visit despite the look of sheer distain in his eyes over his situation. I'm convinced if he interacted with her outside the clinic, they'd actually have a good relationship.

Knowing this, I was stressed for this trip to the new clinic as I was assuming he'd be an absolute wreak. Packing an e-collar and a harness, I loaded Jaxson into his carrier and made the trek into town. Playing out in my head all that could potentially go wrong. Preparing my speech for this new staff so that they would actually take me seriously about how difficult he could be.

What happened instead was he was as sweet as pie with the clinic staff and his new vet. Granted, I did collar him as soon as we got him into the exam room as I wasn't taking any chances, but he was actually doing his usual flirt routine with all the ladies at reception and even the hospital manager. And he gave the vet zero trouble.

Grey claims he has a thing for East Coasters.

The short version of this visit is that no dental work is going to be done at this time. The vet checked his mouth thoroughly and after popping off the large tartar plaque with her thumb nail, declared that he was likely just suffering gingivitis. That said, she wants to reassess him in 3 months to see if the prescribed nightly tooth brushing and kitty Atkins diet (zero hard food) have helped the situation.

So as of last night, every member of our household owns a toothbrush. And to celebrate this new reality, we have a tooth brushing song that we sing as we all brush our teeth. Cheesy? Absolutely. But a necessary evil if it means we can avoid teeth cleaning and tooth extraction.


I went to the woods
because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life,
and see if I could not learn
what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, March 13, 2016


No poem or quote for this one. Nothing seemed quite right.

Jaxson and Daisy have been part of our family for almost 13 yrs. Jaxson was adopted first when he was 3 months old. The lone kitten that no other family wanted at the adopt-a-thon  as he spent most of it lying in his crate and who was slated to be transferred to a different foster home as all his siblings had been adopted out. We learned quickly how much he loathes being crated and how special he truly is. Cross the persona of your average football player with Barney combined with a dark sense of humor. Grey claims the mold was thoroughly smashed into a gazillion pieces the day he came into the world. After all the years of shenanigans, back stories, close-calls and crazy moments, it's hard not to agree. Daisy came a year later, immediately upon our return from our honeymoon. She solidified her place in our family after spending a week kicking the shit out of Jaxson, landing herself on valium to overcome the PSTD she had experienced based on her time at the animal shelter. Jaxson laid on her while she was on valium, too zoned out to do much else than accept that he was there. And they've been inseparable ever since.

The love I have for both these animals goes deeper than I have for many humans. I remember once someone lecturing me for using the term "furbaby" as they were quite convinced that no animal could ever be on the same level for love as a human, especially a child. And yet, after all we've gone through, all the heartache, pain and journey that lead to the Beats, I can still attest that my love for them is not less than that I feel for any other member of this family. They've been my rocks in some dark hours, loving me in ways so many failed to do.

The weekend was a warm and sunny one. In addition to running the Beats, I've been spending some time with Jaxson and Daisy on the deck. Allowing them to time to be outside, to sun and be part of nature. It was nice to see them both so happy.

So with that happiness in mind, what I discovered this morning absolutely rocked me. Jaxson's been putting on more weight recently. A sign that something is off. Today while on his cat tree, I noticed he was drooling more than usual, so I decided to check his teeth.

In 2008, Jaxson had both his front canine teeth extracted. The vets discovered the roots were completely rotted out, meaning he had been living in pain. The only clue that something was off was that his weight was high (he peaked at 23 lbs). Two weeks after the extraction, he dropped down to 20 lbs and 4 months later he was a slim 14 lb cat. The vet was absolutely blown away by the change. So teeth have been on my mind.

What I found was a large plaque of tartar on one of Jaxson's back teeth, with very inflamed gums. Something that developed within the last 6 months (his teeth were okay when the vet checked him in Seattle prior to the move). Pulling away as I opened his lips, I knew he wasn't feeling well.

It's humorous, really. Just as one crisis ends, another one hits our family. I need to call around tomorrow to find a vet that will also do dentistry. But Grey and I also had a long talk about how far we were willing to go with this. That we can't have him living in pain solely for our benefit or to hold-off with saying goodbye.

Tonight I've been loving Jaxson. Petting my sweet boy and promising him we'll make sure he's okay somehow. Here's hoping it involves nothing more than a cleaning.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Wish and Birth

A Prayer in Spring ~ Robert Frost
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away.
As the uncertain harvest, keep us here.
All simply things in the springing of the year.

Oh give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghost by night;
And makes us happy in the happy bees,

The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
That meteor that thrust in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,

That which is reserved for God above
To the sanctity to what far ends He will,
But which only needs what we fulfill.

Spring is coming. The warm weather is intoxicating and everyone is making a point to be outside. Today the Grey and I took the Beats to the park to run around, watch the turtles sun themselves and greet the ducks. As we ran them, we stopped to point out the flowers and buds that were emerging. Seeing their excitement was a definite highlight.

The world seems to be undergoing a period of rebirth.

Years ago, I dreamed of having a garden of my own. One with a variety of plants. The problem is that even though I have a love of plants, my terrible impatience makes me terrible with maintaining a garden that I would dream of.

A few years ago I modified my dream, wishing also for someone who had this patience and planning to create something beautiful.

The first day we moved into our currently apartment, I saw Martha's garden. Even in its winter sleep it's beautiful. And I'm hoping that as the weather warms, I can beg a little bit of space to start a small vegetable garden for the Beats. If not, we'll plan for a container garden to compliment Martha's.

Maybe my wish will come true.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


"I wish I were a glow worm,
a glow worm's never glum.
'Cuz how can you be grumpy,
when the sun shines out your bum?"

~Author unknown

It always amazes me that bad days are allowed to fall on sunny days. Yesterday was a beautiful day, but it felt like the world melting emotionally around me. So it seems fitting that the bad day was followed by a rainy day.

There's been lots of moments where light glowed through the rain. Seeing the freshmen run around campus following selection of housing arrangements for next year (and me almost getting run over by one of them dressed as a moose that resulted in me laughing hysterically). Watching our lab undergrads finish their senior theses and celebrating this milestone.

And then there's the turkey.

The final glow came tonight while putting down the Beats, turning on a Turtle light I acquired years ago that they've claimed as their nightlight. A glow that cuts through the darkness of this rainy night.

We live in a strange, crazy world. And yet, it's that craziness and uniqueness that glows like a beacon during those dark moments. Following the day I had yesterday, I'm grateful for that reminder.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Shadows and Light

"My soul is full of whispered song;
My blindness is my sight;
The shadows that I feared so long
are all alive with light."
~ Alice Cary

It's been a rough day. Lab meeting followed by setting up another big experiment combined with me accidentally flooding the growth chamber (and now having to fight to remove clogs from the drains in the floor). Add in the fact the Beats were up at 4:30 am playing together in bed instead of sleeping (and we push transitioning to toddler beds because???) and the heartbreaking news from our old neighborhood today (our hearts are with those business owners who we love so dear and the firefighters injured) and I'm done.

To help stave off some of the anxiety from this week, yesterday I took a detour through the museum. For a long time, I've forgotten why I loved science and decided to pursue a career. My first time in the museum helped it all come back, with the wonder of life all on display. Now, in those moments when things seem unclear, I wander through the displays taking in the exhibits that have become familiar.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


"Live with intention. Walk to the edge. 
Listen Hard. Practice wellness. 
Play with abandon. Laugh. 
Choose with no regret. 
Lead or follow a leader. 
Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. 
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is."
~ Mary Anne Radmacher

At the end of January, I took the plunge and enrolled in a self-paced computer science course. Scary territory for someone who shuns video games and considers herself a non-rapid adopter. 

I expected to hate it. A course filled with jargon and involving hours of staring at a complier to typing in words and characters with abstract meaning.

Instead I was shocked (and Grey has been all so delighted as this has validated any past and future video game playing) to find myself enjoying the puzzles and logical thinking. The problems and ways of viewing the world.

Or at least I'm enjoying it when I'm not completely lost as to how to complete the lesson and banging my head against the wall.

I'm at the stage of head-banging. I've just finished watching the week's lectures and am about to dive into another problem set. Feeling completely stupid and overwhelmed by new terminology (int main (char argc argv[]); anyone?). I know I need to still do the reading, go through the walk-throughs/short and write out pseudo-code. I also need to lurk on the discussion boards to find suggestions and potential help. Still, I hate this stage of doubt even though I know it's during this period that I'm learning the most.

So I'm practicing mindfulness today combined with some self-compassion. All wrapped up with firm intentions of completing this next lesson.  

Monday, March 7, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Sunrise

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

This past weekend was one filled with anticipation. Grey starts his new position today, leaving him filled with excitement and anxiety for all the good that can come. The Beats are back at their daycare today, though we've found another good daycare for them within 5 mins of Grey's work. I submitted the application last night and we are excited to start within a month. In addition, Martha is leaving today for a trip to Antarctica to photograph Humpback whales. She's been preparing for this trip over the last few months, so we wishing her bon voyage today, complete with some Humpback Whale Bingo boards for capturing various images. 

Our house has been abuzz with adventure and newness.

Despite this, I've been down. The stress of the past few months has finally caught up with me, making me realize that there is still much healing to do. In addition, I heard from a very good friend who is also an infertility survivor that she and her husband have separated. My heart is heavy from this news as divorce is traumatic enough, but following a trauma like infertility just makes it all the worse. She doesn't deserve any of this.

On Saturday, while reflecting on all of this, I decided to start a photo project to help with healing and processing. A lead up to Easter and, hence, as different take on Lent (I'm a recovering Catholic), with the focus being on reflection and meditation. For anyone interested, here's my list:

Shadows + Light

"Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most." ~ Buddha

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A new beginning

Last July, after months of job searching and angst, Grey called me to tell me he had been offered a position at the company that laid him off recently. He's wasn't terribly enthused about this option, but given we were on a time crunch and he was struggling to get companies to even consider him as we lived on the opposite coast, it seemed like the best we could do. I remember thinking that we just needed to get him there and everything would be okay. That he would adjust.

What followed was 5 terrible months where he slowly sank into a deep depression. The job was more than a bad fit. It was toxic.

Within the last couple of weeks, this company has been laying off other employees. Despite continual speeches about how amazing their management team is, it's clear they are actually the opposite. And with which new layoff comes a connection with Grey, them reaching out to commiserate and to support one another.

In addition to this, Grey has been transforming back into his normal self. Slowly healing from all the damage done by this toxic environment cultivated by a select few. And as his confidence has returned, so has his excitement about science and getting back to the bench. He's been enthusiastically reaching out to various companies and digging into them to find potential opportunities. The response has been positive and encouraging. It's been good so see him excited again.

Last Friday, 2 weeks after being laid off, Grey had a formal interview. This company is smaller and not as prestigious, but they are doing some cool things and developing great technology. Most importantly, the environment is what Grey has been looking for. Following the interview, they told him they would be in touch, sending him benefits information to look over. Though not what he would consider his dream job, there's so much potential in this position with the opportunity for him to collaborate and build to said dream job.

Yesterday afternoon, Grey was offered the position. The last 12 hrs have involved me taking a massive step back and emphasizing that this decision needs to be one where he is considering his happiness and ability to fit. Because despite all my anxiety about him being out of work, I can't go through another period like the last one. So he weighed his options and put together a plan of attack.

Today, exactly 2 weeks and 6 days since getting the news he was being let go, Grey accepted a new job. He's happier than I've seen him in a long time. The divorce with the other company is finalized too. He's officially free and a new chapter begins.

The trick now is moving beyond what happened. To continue supporting him as he begins this new adventure. To embrace the positive that has come while also learning from the negative. I'm beyond grateful to everyone who supported us during this period, offering advice, connections and help. But there's still some residual anger toward this ex-employer and all they put us through. The lies they told and the games they played. I know that the best revenge is to live and live well, so that's what we're choosing to do. Still, part of me also hopes that the behavior and greed of this stellar management team will be their own undoing.

For today, though, things are once again right in the world.

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