Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Weigh-In

Okay, ya’ll: Honesty time.
I have not been doing well with my weight challenge. In fact, this is only the second time I’ve blogged about it in three weeks and I’ve GAINED weight.
Plenty of excuses come to mind (R’s final count rollercoaster, the last ditch TTC effort, my period coming…) but no more! I am 31 days away from my 31st birthday and I refuse to enter a new year with this extra weight hanging on me.
SO, here we go!
1. Reiterate my goal and where I stand in reference to this goal.
·         Starting BMI: 23.8
·         Current BMI: 23.9
·         Goal BMI: 22
·         Starting Weight: 145
·         Current Weight: 148
·         Goal Weight: 135

Pounds Lost this Week: 0 Lbs
Total Pounds Lost: +3 Lbs
Pounds to Goal: 18 Lbs
2. Discuss what I am going to do to achieve my goals.
I’ve decided to adopt W.eight W.atchers. The decision to take this route rather than simple calorie counting diet is this: without boundaries, I’m the kind of person who will fill up on cheese and chocolate. See my +3 lbs above for reference…
“Whoa now,” you might say. “Cheese and chocolate sounds like you should try L.ow C.arb!” And you’d be right – I rock the low carb life style. Until the six-week mark, when I crack and try a bite of rice. Or baguette. Or realize I’m craving fresh fruit and I’m now allowed to eat it! Then I fall off the wagon and gain it all back, plus five more pounds.
With W.eight W.atchers, I feel like I’m getting some good boundaries while still being able to enjoy all of the foods I love.
Another plus for W.eight W.atchers is that I’m a creature of habit. I eat the same thing every day for breakfast, lunch, and snacks at work each week. With WWP, I already know the maximum number of points I will eat during the day and exactly how many I have left for the evening, freeing me up to have fun with cooking dinner.
In case you were wondering, I max out at 10 during the day, leaving 11 for dinner and dessert.
We will continue to finish dinner by 6:00 PM each night. And dessert will be a FF, low-sugar treat like yogurt or a fudge pop.
A few other lifestyle changes have snuck into the spence house over the past few days. We have actually implemented the after work sit-ups and I picked up a weighted jump rope for 5 minutes of cardio each afternoon. It may not sound like much, but it’s the best I’ve got right now.
So that’s 10 minutes total each day, which is completely doable for me, and is certainly better than zero.
(As a little aside, let’s talk about bladder control. My bladder never did fully recover from having Little K over six years ago. I’ve been aware of that fact for years and have altered my lifestyle to compensate. However! Never was this brought into such sharp relief until Sunday afternoon, using the new jump rope. I swear, even after stopping TWICE in three minutes to use the bathroom, I STILL managed to pee myself a little. GAH!!!)
3. Try to motivate others to join in on trying to lose weight 
Big ups to Donor Diva for introducing me to the Wednesday Weigh In!
Good news! R has joined me on the lose weight wagon. R is a naturally slim guy, but even he has put on a touch of weight since our marriage. He’s cutting back on his snacking during the day and is joining me with sit-ups/jump rope. He’ll also be using his barbells for 5 minutes each afternoon. Hmm, maybe I can get in on that after a week or two…
Plus, him joining me on this journey means that he’ll stop making his addicting chocolate crackers (and no, I won’t share the recipe because they’re about 200 calories each and it makes 40 crackers at a time. Terrible!)
4. Post a healthy recipe, cooking tip, new idea for working out, photo update of my weight loss, or anything else I feel like sharing. 
So, there you go! Thank you for being patient with me. And enjoy this fast, easy, and low-fat dinner idea!
Salsa Chicken (Serves 4, Estimated 9 Points per Person)
Another slow cooker meal for an easy weekday meal!
·         2 Frozen Chicken Breasts, Whole
·         1 Jar of Your Favorite Chunky Salsa (I like Newman’s Own, Medium)
·         FF Refried Beans
·         Small Can of Green Chiles or One Fresh Jalapeno, seeded and diced
·         Shredded Lettuce
·         Flour or Whole Grain Tortillas, Optional
Place your whole frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker, sprinkle liberally with kosher salt, and pour your salsa on top. Set it for low and leave it alone for 4 hours (or all day at work, in which case you should add ½ cup of water).
When you get home, turn off the slow cooker. Throw you refried beans and chiles in a small pot on low, covered. While that’s happening, shred your chicken with two forks while it’s still in the warm salsa. Warm up your tortillas in the microwave, about 30 seconds. Once your refried beans have loosened up, you’re ready to serve!
I like to serve these up as a DIY meal on each plate. The boys roll their chicken and lettuce into soft tacos, while I eat mine with a fork and use the tortillas to sop up the delicious juices in the plate. Mmm!
The use of chicken in place of ground beef and the lack of sour cream, cheese, or added oil, keeps this meal amazingly low fat. I’ve tried serving this with Mexican Rice a few times and have noticed that it doesn’t really add much to the experience. So I’ve cut that portion of the menu, saving 30 minutes of cooking time and almost 200 calories. Nixing the tortillas would remove another 3 points per person. Woot!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Everyday Blessings

I want to encourage you to go over and read this post by Carrien at She Laughs at the Days.

Three weeks ago, the pastor at the church we have been visiting drew our attention to Deuteronomy 8:

Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, [...] feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. [...] For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell.

And with it came a warning:

Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God [...] For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful!

Of the many points the pastor made that day, the one that stays with me is this:

Be thankful for everyday blessings.

I have talked recently about recognizing, and rejoicing in, the gift of a new day. Over the years, I have become complacent; I have stopped being thankful and have chosen to either take my blessings for granted or complain about the complications those blessings bring.

How sad is that?

(Disclaimer: I don't participate in the pain olympics and I don't want to minimize the impact of anyone's experience. Real emotions deserve real validation. Period.)

Being thankful for everyday blessings seems simple, but it's hard for me to put into practice. For me, being thankful for everyday blessings means that, when I'm frustrated with my job, I take time to be thankful that I have a job at all. When Little K is driving me nuts, I take time to be thankful that she exists and resides with us. When I forget something at the store and have to go back out to pick it up, I am thankful for the money to purchase groceries. When I'm stuck in traffic, I am thankful to I have a car that works.

The everyday blessings. 

Every ALI blog I read reminds me how fragile life can be; we live in a world where loved one's die, where sickness occurs, where positive pregnancy tests don't equal live babies, where grief and depression overcome us, where worry seems to follow us, and where pain could be right around the corner. In my prayers today are Mo, Shmerson and Nadav, Addi's Mom and Mason, Peg and family, Mo, and Michelle and Alex. Some are grieving, some are hoping, some are just trying to survive, but all need prayer.

This past week another message has come through loud and clear:

Life is too precious to waste on complaints.

Lord, help me to notice and give thanks for the everyday blessings You provide. Bring healing and peace to your hurting children. Amen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up: What 18 Hours of Dog Ownership Taught Me

Two weeks ago, a total cutie pie was brought into the office.

After playing ball and taking some walks I decided that, if I can’t have a baby, a dog would be a fine substitute. We filled out the adoption paperwork and were offered the chance to bring Duke home for the weekend.
Now, the little guy above couldn’t come home with us because he tried to attack Little K twice but the staff suggested we give another dog a try through Sunday. This new dog was totally sweet, very laid back, and loved to lay on your lap, giving kisses.
But, after just 12 hours, it became clear that a dog just wasn’t for us. We waited another six hours and then called the farm, explaining that we had learned that our family wasn’t ready for a dog and asking if we could bring her back early.
So, we did. And none of us miss her.
Lesson #1: Appreciate what you already have.
We have a sweet kitty named Naminae. The past month or so, I’ve been complaining about her. I don’t know about the other cat moms out there, but sometimes you are just DONE with scooping the litter box. And the constant smell of either poop or bathroom spray. And sweeping up the litter that gets tracked all over the house. And the cat hair on everything.
But you know what’s great about Naminae? I don’t have to take her to the bathroom. Ever. And she doesn’t wake me up at night, ready to play. And I don’t have to watch her with Little K. And she doesn’t have to be on a leash. Rock on.
Lesson #2: Take care of (Invest in) what you already have.
After we dropped the dog back off at the farm, Little K and I headed to the pet store for supplies.
To recap, my top complaints about the cat: The scooping, the smell, the tracked litter, the cat hair.
Well, there’s nothing to be done about the poop or the smell. Everybody poops and it eventually has to be disposed of. At least, with the cat, I know where it is and can change up the spray. However, for the tracked litter, a specialty litter mat has solved that problem. We’ve had this extra large mat on the floor for two days and I haven’t had to sweep once. Win!
And, for the cat hair, we picked up a FURbuster brush on super sale plus a $10 off coupon. When we got home, I cracked that bad boy open and removed about a pound of hair from our girl. She has basically stopped shedding since then! Saturday grooming will now be a regular part of our routine.
Lesson #3: Enjoy (Use) what you already have.
While we were at the pet store, we picked up some new toys for Naminae. That in itself is irregular for us but we went a step further: we picked up toys that require us to interact with her! Since Saturday, we have spent HOURS playing with Naminae and have been having a great time. She may not play fetch, but there’s nothing funnier than seeing her go nuts over feathers and ribbons on a stick.
Lesson #4: Don’t wait for an excuse to live your life.
One of my main arguing points for a dog was that it would encourage us to spend more time out in the yard. But you know what? The yard is there whether we have a dog or not. When Naminae needed a break from playing, Little K and I headed outside to fly kites, jump rope, hula hoop, draw with chalk, and kick a ball. It was the most time we’ve spent outside since autumn and you know what? It was awesome.
So how will I be applying these lessons?
#1: Well, for starters, I am going to remind myself how good life is right now. That the kids are pretty self-sufficient. That I can sleep through the night. That we can decide on an outing without much extra planning. That I’m no longer dropping $1000/month on day care. And that I get 6 weeks each year to enjoy my husband without any children needing attention.
#2: I’m going to invest in our children’s future. R and I are working hard to pay off our credit card debt. Once we are able to get everything paid off, we can start putting away for the kids’ higher education. Other things are only a few years away, too, like piano lessons and karate. Now is the time for us to prepare for their future.
#3: I’m going to take the time to enjoy our children. We re-instated family movie night on Saturday, chores after church on Sunday, and at least 4 meals around the dinner table together each week. These moments will help us continue to blend our family and hopefully help us feel like a family of four.
#4: And no more excuses. I’ve put off many things in the hopes of having another child (losing weight and getting back on stage come to mind). No more! I’ve put together a plan to lose the weight and get my voice back in shape. It’s time to start becoming me again!
So there’s your weekend wrap-up. Here’s to a life well lived!

Friday, February 24, 2012


What a week.
Many of the ALI blogs I read deal with loss, but these losses occurred before I found their blog. Mo’s is the first one I have witnessed firsthand (or at least as close as we get online). I’ve been so moved by the outpouring of comments, posts, prayers, and emails honoring Mo, Shmerson, and Nadav. This community is amazing and I am proud to be a part of it.
In addition to Mo’s devastating loss , my officemate’s mother passed away over the weekend at age 64. That sounds so young to me! She has been back at work for two days and has been extremely gracious as people continually come in to express their condolences. After the first rush of visitors, I was able to speak with her and that was when she said it: she was glad to be back at work and have a distraction.
I get that.
Please do not misunderstand: I am not comparing death to divorce. I’m just saying that I get it.
When going through my divorce, I was so happy for any distraction. Being home wasn’t a relief – all of the grief and troubles were right there. The accusations, the fighting, the feelings of hopelessness, the urge to hide, the defensiveness, the fear for Little K… It was all right there.
I felt like a failure as a wife, mother, daughter, and Christian, but at work? At work I was able to focus. At work, I felt productive and safe. I knew that no one would bring it up and, for those eight hours each day, I could forget about everything that was going wrong.
I was reading some additional posts on loss yesterday when I ended up on Life After Addison. In her Blue Storks post, she talks about the giant “No Visitors” sign when they came home without Addison:
I didn't want people stopping by […] I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted visitors only on my own terms, I needed to be in control of something.
Again, not comparing divorce to pregnancy/child loss but there it is – I needed to be in control of something.
Sometimes, you don’t want to talk about it. Because you’re not sure if you can make it through your reply, let alone an entire conversation, without crying or yelling. You’re not sure if that comment or question is going to take you out of your focus and send you into another round of depression or hiding from the world.
Eventually it got better for me. I became used to the awkward questions from the people who didn’t know, being able to answer with a simple “We’re not married anymore” instead of tears. Eventually everyone in my inner, middle, and outer circle knew what was going on and stopped asking about him. I got to the point where I was able to walk into church and not immediately turn around to leave. Eventually, I was able to grow a thicker skin.
But more than that, I think I was finally able to accept that being a divorcee is a part of my story. I had to face the truth, work through it and, if not claim it, at least accept it and push myself to move past it. I had to daily remind myself that my story was not going to end with my divorce; life was still going to move on and it was up to me to join it.
This isn’t a call for anyone to move through their grief at any particular pace. You take things at your own pace, expect setbacks, and try to set boundaries to let you grieve in safe ways. I wish I had had the opportunity to grieve my divorce better and with Christian friends. Instead, I spent the duration of the proceedings and the following two years hiding from God and trying to ignore my problems.
Guess what didn’t work? Exactly. Now that I am back in His Word daily and interacting with other believers, I am making progress and *think* I have reached the last stage of grieving: Acceptance.
And I have to tell you – it feels so good.
Can I be honest for a moment? What in the world am I supposed to do about sex now that R’s count is super final? I don’t know if it’s the concrete lack of procreation or what but, now that we are officially at zero and my period has come and gone, the idea of sex is just weird. Blech. I really want to get over this one soon.

Friday, February 17, 2012

THIS is the Day

In the midst of all of my big emotions about family-growing this week, God has been finding me. But strangely enough, He hasn’t been touching on reproduction. Instead, He is inviting me to remember that He is present.
Wednesday brought a text from my parents, letting me know a BIG change in their lives. The confidence they showed in God and His plan held me up when I started spotting at work that afternoon.
Thursday morning found me in an awful mood. I was angry and impatient and feeling sorry for myself. A text from R, letting me know how rough his morning was, took me out of my pity party and into prayer for my husband. Prayers for him to trust God with the situation and to be blessed with peace gave me the same.
This morning, I was sad and feeling unmotivated when I woke up. When I reached full consciousness, I remembered that R was having a tough week and was prompted pray for him. Aloud. In R's presence. (I never pray out loud for people, especially within their hearing.) As I prayed for him to experience God’s grace and peace, and to honor God with his reactions today, He made it clear that this message was for me as well.
An offhand comment from my unsaved co-worker led me to purchase a copy of The Message for her. As I prayed over the inscription last night, I was reminded that she referred to the Bible as a book of stories so I suggested that she check out Esther and John. When I gave it to her this morning, she was shocked and a little tearful when she read the inscription and let me know that their book club had made the decision to read Esther starting TOMORROW (!!). God let me know that I can trust Him to open doors to people’s hearts, even when I am afraid to share my faith.
Later, unable to focus on my BSF lesson, I began reading the forward from the book my mom gave me for V-Day. Once again, God found me:
“THIS is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) This day [...]- it was all the Lord’s doing and we rejoiced together in His goodness.
-Esther: Reflections from an Unexpected Life
That reminder that THIS day -today- is a gift from God found me crying at my desk.
THIS day.
He created it, the situations leading into it and the things that will happen during it, and gave it to me. No matter how yesterday was or how today unfolds, I am called to REJOICE because THIS day is from God. He will use each little thing today to either encourage me or refine me.
What an awesome reminder that God has a plan and all I have to do is trust Him.
The struggles I see my parents face show me how to rely on God’s plan and trust His faithfulness. It also points out to me how blessed I am to have them as role models, both in how to parent and how to be a Godly person. I can only pray that I can provide the same example to my daughter.
The hard times with R’s work show me how much he has grown in Christ, even from six months ago. They also teach me how to pray for my husband and how to trust God to meet R at his need. (I am glad to say that today has been the least stressful day of his work week.)
The same way, the frustration and sadness I have over the size of our family can remind me of how blessed I am.
In all honesty, I never expected that life could be this good. Looking back at all of the pain and brokenness that led into (and followed me during… and after…) my divorce, I never thought that I could look around and see good things again.
But when I open my eyes and see what God has done, I can’t help but rejoice.
God is good.
God is faithful.
God is forgiving.
God is God.
I want to send you the same message I sent to the people that I love after reading the passage above:
THIS is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. God has given you this day and will meet you in it. I hope you are able to find time and a reason to thank Him today. Love you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blood on the Snow

Aaron David and Abigail K,
When you were in my hopes, everything felt light. Without you, I feel grey.
You have a wonderful big sister who would have taught you everything she knows. She would have been your best friend, your shoulder to cry on, and the one other person who knows what it’s like to have me as their mom. The two of you would have fought with arguments that shook the earth, but you would have loved and defended each other just as fiercely. You two would have taken the world by storm.
You have an amazing daddy. He would have been your hero, your protector. He would have encouraged you to play rough, to live tough, and to try your best. He would have been fun when I was strict and strong when you felt weak. He would have said yes when I was on the fence. He would have made you laugh and wiped your tears. He would have loved you so much.
You have two brothers. They are much older than you but they are good guys. They would have given your dates a hard time and have asked you to babysit their kids. They would be like your favorite uncles, the cool guys who make every family gathering feel like an event.
You have incredible grandparents. Nonna and Grandaddy are the most loving and understanding people you could ever want in your life. They play, they teach, they console, they hope, they forgive, and they encourage you to grow. They love God with their whole hearts and would have loved to know you.
I love you so much. You were in my heart for so long and I wanted so badly to have you with us. I hope you know that I think of you every day. I miss you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love: Remix

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.

How is love evident in your life? Not just in how you interact with your partner, but also with your children, co-workers, cranky grocer, fertile SIL… Are you building others up or tearing them down with the things you say? With your facial expressions? With how often you pick up when they call?
How do you show love to the people you like AND the ones you don’t?
I hope love finds you, and pours out of you, today.
For the broken hearted, I pray healing.
For the alone, I pray contentment.
For the married, I pray passion.
For the infertile, I pray family.
For the anxious, I pray peace.
For the world, I pray love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How I Spent My Weekend

When she woke up Saturday morning, Little K wanted to play baby dolls. She asked me to get my porcelain doll and bouncer down from the top of the closet along with her doll, mini moses basket and stroller. (For context, the porcelain doll was given to my around my 10th birthday: she is very lifelike in size, weight, and features. I had named her Goldie.) After an hour of play, Little K was lounging on the big couch with her doll and a fake bottle watching cartoons. And I was on the loveseat with the porcelain baby.
I know I looked silly. I know it seems strange. I know it may be completely nuts - but I owned that moment.
I cuddled Goldie like a real baby. I changed it into Little K’s smallest newborn nightgown and put her knitted hospital cap on its head. I asked R to hold her for a moment, so I could see how he looked with a baby in his arms. I laid on the couch for a while with her “asleep” on my chest.
R and I poured a cup of coffee and looked at baby gear online. He talked about how cute babies are (I had no idea he thought that!) and how this time he would have witnesses to him making a fool of himself with babytalk. We talked about how we would reconfigure the house in order to make an extra bedroom and still keep his office.
I spent my weekend mourning.
R has been wonderful, joining me in these conversations and feelings. Somehow he knows that I need to experience these moments in order to let them go. We have children in our lives, but we didn’t experience pregnancy or babyhood together; this weekend gave me a few of the moments I missed with him.
I already know it didn’t work, and I am mostly okay with that. I’ve decided not to test tomorrow -instead, I will wait to test Saturday morning. My plan is to stay PUPO as long as possible but prepare myself for drinks and soft cheese Saturday night.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Good News!

R's count was zero again this morning - he is officially sterile. Yay for R!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


You want to know a secret? I really hope it worked. Shocking, I know!
Today I began crafting a post to put up when my period arrives in eight days. A post to say goodbye to my child. A post to say goodbye to the family I have wished for. I told the child about its sister, father, brothers, and grandparents… All of the people who would have known and loved it. I started trying to accept that the symptoms are all in my head and that it is truly time to say goodbye. That the one was from unclean lab equipment and not from R.
But I hope I don’t have to post it. Instead of a goodbye, I want to post a hello. I want to post a SWEET HOLY MOTHER IT WORKED. I want to post a “child how I have longed for you.” A “how I can’t wait to meet you.” A “how our world will never be the same.” A “welcome to our family.”
I want it to work.


R gave me a wonderful gift last night: he willingly had a conversation about the maybe baby.
We discussed names, talked about how we would arrange our room to accommodate a changing table and bassinet, what each of us considered essential baby gear… It was absolutely wonderful. He even asked if I would make him a shirt that said “Ask Me about My Vasectomy” to wear in the delivery room. Heh.
I know that the chances are beyond slim but it did make me feel good to have a fun conversation about it working. I have been able to walk into today with a gentle spirit, content with how this all turns out. For today, I know that a positive would not be the end of the world for R and a negative wouldn’t be the end of the world for me.
Today, I feel positive. Not about our chances, but about us.
Today, I feel light.
5dpo, AM Heartburn/Nausea. More energy this morning. Last night I had a wicked wave of nausea and almost lost dinner in the shower. Yuck.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday Not-Quite Weigh In

I am loving the idea of the weekly weigh-in that I see Donor Diva doing. While I am not yet committed to significantly losing weight, I would like to reduce a bit before the big 3-1 next month. So here are my rough stats:
·         Height: 5’5.5”
·         Weight: 145 lbs
·         Desired Weight: 135 lbs
·         BMI: 23.8
·         Desired BMI:  22
So what is a low-activity, slightly crazy, hates to exercise, loves food and sweets girl to do? I have no idea. But here’s what I’ve been up to:
·         Bringing breakfast and lunch to work with me every day.
·         Eating fresh fruits in place of sweets as much as possible.
·         Finish eating dinner by 6:00 pm.
·         No snacking after 8:00 pm.
·         Cutting back on diet soda (max of 1/day).
·         Using whole grains whenever possible.
·         Skipping starch/carbs whenever possible (meaning no bread, potatoes, corn, pasta or rice as a side dish but okay as a main dish, like a grilled cheese sandwich or fried rice).
·         Walking more (it helps that I’ve been moved at work so I walk all the way across the building 6+ times/day).
I’m also going to add sit-ups with R when I get home from work each day and taking my vitamins regularly.
I’ll be honest: I am working on loving my body as it is and accepting that anything below 130 lbs is not a healthy weight for me. I was 123 lbs (meaning I’ve gain over 20 pounds in three years – YIKES!!!) when R and I got married, but that was due to 15 months of unbelievable stress which left me weak and under nourished.
My biggest hurdles are my lack of energy and intense love of cheese/sweets. I will eat well during the day at work, but then go completely overboard on sweets when I get home. MUST! CHANGE! THAT!
The good news is that I cook fairly low-fat at home, with the exception of my baking and the weekly salami with cheese ritual. Our main protein is chicken breast and I try to stuff as many veggies onto the plate as possible. I have also already trained myself to eat small portions, serving myself 1/3 as much as I do R and SSA.
I do cook with olive oil and butter, believing that these whole fats are less artificial (and therefore more beneficial) than no-fat sprays or margarine. Plus I use real eggs. And I use whole fat cheese on my platters and grilled cheese sammies. Hey – the flavor these fats bring to the table far outweigh their other downsides! So, there you go.
For the sharing of a healthy recipe, I give you dspense’s Low-Carb, Low-Fat Green Chicken Soup. Enjoy!
Special Items: A Whole Chicken, Fresh or Thawed, and self-butchered.
Begin by removing the wings and legs/thighs at the joint, placing them in the stock pot. Then remove the breasts from the ribcage. Discard the skin from the breasts and then cover them, placing them in the fridge until you are ready to make your soup. Place the rest of the carcass in the stock pot. It is up to you whether or not to put the giblets, neck, or skin in the pot. (I usually throw them away…)
Homemade Stock
·         Chicken Carcass with Legs, Thighs, and Wings
·         Onion, quartered
·         Head of Garlic, halved lengthwise
·         2-3 Ribs of Celery
·         1 Parsnip, roughly broken
·         2 Carrots, roughly broken
·         1 Leek, Green Portion
·         Bell Pepper, roughly chopped
·         Turnip, quartered (optional)
·         Handful of Whole Peppercorns
·         Herbs/Spices as desired (orange zest, red pepper flakes, thyme, bay leaves, etc.)
Cover all with water and simmer six to eight hours, adding water as needed to keep everything submerged. Strain and return to pot if using immediately or into a container to refrigerate. If refrigerated, use within one week. Can be frozen for up to three months. Be sure to bring it back to a boil before consuming!
*Note: BecomingBrina roasts her veggies first. Give it a try!
Green Soup
·         Two Whole Chicken Breasts, butchered from the Whole Chicken
·         2-3 Ribs of Celery, chopped
·         1 Leek, White Portion, chopped
·         1 Onion, Chopped
·         1 Zucchini, Chopped
·         1-2 Cups Fresh or Frozen Cauliflower
·         1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Peas (not canned)
·         2 Chicken Bullion Cubes, Optional (in case you find your stock lacking in chickeny flavor)
·         Herbs/Spices as desired (orange zest, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, garlic, etc.)
·         Salt and Pepper, to taste
Bring all ingredients to a boil in your prepared stock, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken breasts to a cutting board to cut/shred, then return to the pot for 5 minutes. Serve as-is for a low-carb meal or serve over egg noodles (let sit for 5 minutes for noodles to soften) for those in your home who are not low-carb.
This is wonderful with a cup of dried barley thrown in during the last 20 minutes! I’ve also put in fresh parsnip and carrots when I’m not on low-carb: delicious.
Thoughts: The stock can be done in the crock pot. Put it all in your slow cooker that morning and strain it into a pot when you get home. It will still require the 30 minutes for the soup but it’s a great time saver for a weekday.
I use Stock Day as an excuse to use up my spare veggies. As produce and herbs pass their prime and remain unused, I roughly break them apart, bag ‘em, and retire them to my freezer. These veggies can be pulled out and thrown into stock still frozen. This makes my stock a little different every time and ensures that old veggies aren’t wasted. I do, however, use the fresh stuff in the soup!
I hope you give it a try!


“There’s no way you could think all of that at once. You’d go mad!”
“Just because YOU have the emotional depth of a teaspoon…”
Name that book? Anyone?
I start my morning groggy and put on the water for tea before I get Little K out of bed. I put together a healthy lunch for me and a “what will she actually eat” lunch for her before I finish waking her up and insist she eats breakfast. Then I go in to get ready.
I see the digital test in the drawer when I get out my makeup, which reminds me to open the other drawer and take a prenatal vitamin. I get to work and note my dpo/symptoms on the calendar (4dpo, Nausea/Heartburn, Exhausted).
During the day I don’t think about it. When I get home each afternoon and start parenting, I hope it doesn’t work. But when I get to bed at night, curled up with R, I think about what it would be like to have his arm wrapped around my swollen abdomen. How our room would look with a changing table under that painting and a bassinet pulled up to the side of the bed. How it would feel to nurse a little one back to sleep before I finally nod off for the night…
But I don’t think it worked. The heartburn and nausea are from the darn pill. The tired is from only getting six hours of sleep each night. I still drink my caffeinated tea in the morning to wake up. I still take a scalding hot bath to relax at the end of a challenging day. I still expect R’s (third) final count on Friday to be zero. I still plan to color my hair this weekend. I still expect my period to start on February 18th. I reassure R that it didn’t work, so he can please stop freaking out!
I have three tests in the drawer: one analog and two digital. I will take the analog on February 14th, retesting on Feb 16th and 18th with the digitals.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Notes from the Other Side of Thirty

Submitting to a transvag ultrasound on Friday and being told that I have beautiful ovaries…
In other news, I broke down and tried this weekend. Currently two days into my last 2ww! So, of course, Little K decided to hang all over me yesterday, making me very glad that the possibility of it working is 1 in 300M because OMG CHILD PERSONAL SPACE.
As an apology for all of my crazy, Little K’s class is celebrating the 100th Day of School with a 100 Party. Behold the child dressed like she is 100 years old:

I love her so darn much!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Zero, Probably

I mastered the 3-way call this morning and was able to listen when R received his lab results. Today’s count was zero. That’s a very good thing. However, the clinic requires two zero specimens before they will call the vasectomy successful. They want the next sample in one week.
I was the courier this morning and, surprise! the clinic is across the street from my center. So, dspence slipped in for a quick ultrasound. Lucky for me that I was due a scan from the last donation. My uterus is currently unoccupied and very cushion-y, with a monster follicle on the left and ovulating this weekend. (I guess my cycle is even more off than I realized!) I gotta tell you that I was disappointed to hear it his count was zero, as I am just awful enough to try tomorrow.
So, there you go. We’re hesitantly at zero pending NEXT Friday’s results.
I think we’re all relieved.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Update: Again, Some More

Always drama at the spence house, huh? When faced with ALL OF MY CRAZY yesterday afternoon, R called the lab to clarify the report. Apparently, even one sperm at 30 months post-op if enough to concern the doctor who performed R’s surgery. The main comment that sticks with me is this: it is possible for one or two to get hung up in the works, which is why they do two counts post-op but at 30 months, we should be at a true zero.
I know what some of you may be thinking: dspence, ONE FREAKING SPERM is not a big deal. A healthy sample will include 20 to 150 MILLION per ml. At 1.5 to 3 ml per ejaculation, we’re looking at 299,999,999 MILLION sperm ABSENT.
And you are right. R is effectively sterile and the chances of conceiving are literally 1 in 300 MILLION. Conceiving would be an actual Act of God.
But you know what? I believe that God is real. Which means that Acts of God are real. We’ve been operating at Act of God status for the past two and a half years and dspence is OFICIALLY OVER IT.
I need to be in a place where my period being late or a bout of nausea does not immediately make me OMG PREGNANT.
And, believe me, R needs a wife who doesn’t do that, too.
Long story short (really long story, ya’ll, see: ALL OF THE CRAZY YESTERDAY AFTERNOON), the doctor has asked for a second sample to review. Drop off is 8:30 AM Friday and we will have results no later than 9:30 AM.
Please, oh please, oh please be zero. I need this to be over.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Closure: Denied

R is the one who got the call from the lab at Noon. He sent me a quick text saying, quote: "We are clear! No live ones!" I thanked him and asked for him to give me a buzz so I could hear exactly what the report said. I posted here twice and was then called into a meeting.

I just got back to my phone and had a voicemail from R. In it, he tells me that the lab tech called him and said that there was ONE (dead, due to the sample being an hour old) sperm in his sample and offered to keep re-checking until the count was officially zero.


After 30 months.

I don't even know what to say...

With my 6 week cycle and our crazy life, R has ejaculated at least 220 times since his surgery. Our lab only requires a patient to ejaculate 30 times before they do a count.

But there is still one.

So there is still hope.

And hope means no closure for dspence.


If Anyone Knows R IRL, Tell Him to Bring Me Flowers Tonight

I took another pregnancy test last night. As I watched the urine move across the window, my heart quickened when the positive line darkened momentarily before fading back to white. I stared at it for the full three minutes, not letting my focus shift away, savoring every second.
“This is it,” I thought. “After tomorrow morning, I won’t be able to POAS again. If I’m ever late or feeling sick, I will know that it’s not pregnancy and that there’s something wrong with me instead. I will never be able to think that I’m pregnant ever again. This is the last time I can ever expect the line to show up.”
After ten minutes, I wrapped it up and put it away. I waited for the adrenaline to wear off and, when I was finally calm again, I took it out, looked at it, sighed, and threw it away.
It’s silly, I know. I think I just wanted to have that flare of hope and “what if” one more time before getting official word from the lab.
Now the results are in and it’s all over: zero (HAHAHA*SIGH*). R’s vasectomy back in 2009 was a success and we cannot get pregnant without medical intervention.
I was expecting more of a reaction than this. When it comes to reproduction, my responses tend to be intense. From a girl who spend her tween through early adult years determined not to cry in front of anyone, it is now most likely to find me in tears when facing an intense emotion. Weddings, baptisms, births, deaths, BFPs, BFNs… It may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but my proclivity toward weeping is an almost unbelievable change.
But there are no tears right now; just resignation and acceptance. After 30 months of uncertainty, 30 months of intimacy, 30 months of “what if”… Now it’s done and we know and it will be one less thing to wonder about.
R is thrilled and I’m just quiet.
Maybe it will hit me tomorrow. Right now, I just feel like my reproductive story is over.
Guess I shouldn’t have purchased the three-pack…


Not surprised, and not sure how I feel about it. I imagine it will all catch up to me later. Expect an update!