On The Day That I Learned My Dad Is Dead

Yesterday was a day like any other.

I wrestled three children from the bed to the bathroom to the table (rinse and repeat multiple times). I cleaned the house. I was cranky. I was tired. I drank a lot of coffee.

I was also feeling a bit sad for what felt like no reason at all, which is not entirely unusual but not exactly commonplace either. Maybe it was post-vacation blues. Or that my mom had just boarded a plane for home the night before. Or maybe my heart already knew what my head didn’t.

But mostly, it was a day of no great significance or importance. When my husband came home from work, I grabbed my purse and left (ALONE) to go grocery-shopping, just as I do every Tuesday evening. I treated myself to dinner, I shopped, I came home.

I got into my yoga pants, I gave hugs and kisses to two little girls as they were ushered off to bed, and I sat down to feed Poppy while watching America’s Got Talent.

All of this was normal.

And then my husband sat down on the ottoman in front of me and put the TV on mute. I was so unsuspecting in that moment before he opened his mouth. So blissfully unaware, even though his TV-muting behavior was completely not normal.

And then his lips parted and he said to me, “The police came while you were out, Hon. They asked for you.”

In the brief pause before his next sentence, my heart sank. Toppled. Flipflopped. Seized. Burst. Broke. All or none of the above? I’m sure it did something that there are no words for. I had texted my mom thirty minutes earlier and had received no response. I felt certain in that split second that he was about to tell me she was dead. I think I may have sucked in a breath, because other than losing my children and my husband, losing her is my worst fear. And then —

“They told me that your dad died.”


Well, of course. He had Type I Diabetes and there had been many, many low points in his health over the last year or two. In the last month, he had started throwing up every day multiple times a day and had lost a significant amount of weight. Even though he’d had some bad spells before, a part of me knew the end could be near. A part of me knew it so well that, on an inspired day two weeks ago, I wrote his eulogy. But still. You never really know when it’s coming. Especially when you’ve thought it was coming many times before.

Tears fell. They fell as I watched AGT. They fell onto Poppy as I nursed him. They started and stopped over and over all evening.

I feel relieved for that. I feel relieved and thankful that, despite the abuse I suffered at his hands and the thoughtless way he treated my mom and the stupid decisions he made and the selfish things he did in recent years, my heart is not so hard that I cannot grieve for him. Not so hard that I feel nothing for him.

Because, at the best of times, he was still my dad.

He taught me to drive.

He was there for every graduation and rewards ceremony.

He helped me move into and out of college dorms and apartments.

He cried when he walked me down the aisle.

He paid off my husband’s school loans.

He read stories to my children.

He called me on every birthday.

He did typical dad-things.

And while we weren’t close at all and there are so many complicated feelings always associated with him (probably some of which have not yet been allowed to surface), yesterday — and today — I just felt sad. Sad that Christmases won’t be the same. Sad that Poppy and Skittle will never remember him. Sad that any future child of mine will never meet him. Sad that he was alone when he died. Sad that I can’t remember what I said the last time we talked. Sad that he may have felt unloved in his final days or years. Just so very, and unexpectedly, sad.

Last night, as I left the bathroom wiping my eyes, I heard Cupcake call for her dad. I don’t usually answer their calls for more water, hugs, books, and tickles because it seems to start a cascade of requests, but when I passed by her room yesterday, I felt drawn inside by her sweet voice. She was smiling at me from the top bunk and I walked to her and without saying a word, laid my head against hers and just drank in her warmth, her softness. I don’t know if she felt the wetness of my tears against her cheek, but she giggled and ran her fingers through my long hair.

And I hugged her, fiercely. Because it’s times like these when you acknowledge just how precious and fragile life is. When you can see all the wonderful, glorious years that stretch ahead of her and yet know with certainty just how fast they will pass. When you realize that your own days with her are getting shorter, slipping away, one by one.

So yesterday was a day like any other.

Except, it really wasn’t.

My dad died.

And I learned that I do love him after all.

And I was reminded that, in small ways, we’re all dying and we just have to cherish each other and the time that we have left together.



Recipes, Part 2

Last week, I posted two family recipes for salads that I love, upon the request of one of my readers. This week…I have something even better, a recipe for delicious mint brownies and a recipe for our beloved peanut butter cup cookies. The latter of these recipes is always the crowd favorite and I have a tendency to triple or quadruple the recipe so that we have extras to freeze or give away. Because if you love chocolate and peanut butter (and really, who doesn’t?!), you’re gonna love these. I promise. I make them every year for the holidays and deliver them to neighbors, my husband’s co-workers, and friends. And every year, I get a request for the recipe. They’re that good.




  • 1c sugar
  • 1/2c butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can Hershey syrup
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts (optional — I usually leave them out)


  • 2c powdered sugar
  • 1/2c butter
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2-3 drops green food coloring (optional — I prefer to leave it out)


  • 1c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbsp butter

-Mix brownie ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes in a greased 9×13 pan.

-Mix frosting ingredients and frost over brownies once they’ve cooled.

-Melt glaze ingredients in a double boiler, cool, and spread over frosting.


PEANUT BUTTER CUP COOKIES (makes 3 dozen or so)

1/2c butter

1/2c peanut butter

1 egg

1/2c brown sugar

1/2c sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/4c flour

dash of salt

14-16oz package of small Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

-Mix all ingredients together except the peanut butter cups.

-Fill mini muffin tins halfway full with the dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. While dough is baking, unwrap peanut butter cups.

-When muffin tins are removed from the oven, immediately place one peanut butter cup into each muffin tin. Chill until chocolate is set and then remove from muffin tins with a spoon.

Recipes, Part 1

In a recent post, I mentioned a few favorite family recipes. I had a request to post them and so this will be the first of two posts. Below, you will find the recipes for two of my favorite salads. They’re easy to make and great for a potluck. Me? I like to request that my mama make them for my birthday.  🙂



1 large head of cabbage, torn/chopped into small pieces

1 bunch green onions, sliced

2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces

2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

2 Tbsp almonds, toasted

2 pkgs Top Ramen noodles, uncooked and broken into small pieces

1/2 c oil

2 Tbsp vinegar

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3/4 tsp salt

-Mix green onions and chicken with cabbage. Mix in noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds.

-Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to cabbage mixture just before serving and mix well.



12 oz can whole kernel corn

8 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed

7 oz can ripe olives

1 head of lettuce, chopped/torn into small pieces

1/2 c mayo

1/4 c sliced green onions

cumin to taste (I like lots!)

2 tsp cider vinegar

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp chili powder

tabasco to taste (I usually omit.)

-Combine corn, kidney beans, olives, and lettuce.

-In a separate bowl, combine mayo, green onions, cumin, cider vinegar, onion powder, chili powder, and tabasco.

-Add the mayo mixture to the lettuce mixture and toss.


Told you they were simple! Enjoy!!!

Odds ‘n’ Ends: Kat, Idaho, Choosing a Name, and More

Just a few things I wanted to update all of you on today, now that we’re home from Idaho and things are settling down again:


The e-mail from Kat is still sitting in my Inbox. Unread. This is so unlike me, to wait this long. I am usually one for instant gratification. I’m impatient. I can’t wait for anything. Except, Katie over at Our Growing Gardunn mentioned that this sort of “should I or shouldn’t I?” is like making a decision to POAS. And I always waited for that. I would wait a week past my missed period before testing. In this circumstance, I don’t know exactly what I’m waiting for.  I guess, I’m just waiting until I have the time and emotional energy to read that e-mail. Hopefully, that sense of readiness will come today. Or tomorrow. I will read it soon, I promise, and then I’m sure I’ll blog about it too, for better or worse. Stay tuned!


Our road trip to Idaho, our ol’ stomping grounds, was busy and HOT but pretty fantastic. The drive was long and my poor feet were quite swollen by the end. I think I probably pushed it a little too hard and didn’t take as many breaks as I should have. I had a couple days of panic when I felt the baby wasn’t moving enough, but then there would be an explosion of kicks and I’d feel better. It’s still such a roller coaster for me. On Saturday, we attended my cousin’s wedding, which was a lot of fun. There was family there whom I hadn’t seen in 2-5 years, so it was fun for them to meet my daughter and to see my bulging belly. The ceremony was in direct sun in 95 degree heat and started 45 minutes late, so we were melting, but they had water and soda available, which did help, and I let Cupcake and her daddy go play in the shade, so at least they were cool. I always get quite weepy at weddings, but this time even more so. I felt so reflective and so emotional thinking about my own wedding day just over five years ago and all that Honey and I had gone through since then, and how far we’ve come. How incredible it was to be there with my wonderful, adoring husband and my beautiful daughter and to have one on the way. It felt a bit like a “full circle” moment. I am just so blessed and so thankful to be where we are today.


I had great hopes that my husband and I would choose a baby name on our road trip, because we had  lots of time to talk with very little distractions. And we DID spend several hours discussing it, but we still haven’t made a final decision yet. My problem is that there are SO many names I love and, because I don’t know that I’ll have countless children whom can be christened with each name, it’s hard for me to narrow it down. My husband’s problem is that he doesn’t love the name that is my top choice (though I think he’s finally caving), but he does love weird and crazy names that would curse any child and that I veto immediately. So for a while we were at quite the impasse, but I think we’ve finally made progress and have it narrowed down to three choices. I imagine we’ll make the big decision very soon — this week, I hope! We’re keeping the name secret from all of our friends and family (and my mom reads this blog), so I won’t be announcing the name here until after Skittle’s birth, if I ever do, but I do have a post planned to discuss our process for choosing a name. It’s tough!


I had another appointment with my OB yesterday. He did tell me that I officially passed my 3-hour GTT, which was good to hear. I also talked to the nurse about baby movements and she said I should feel at least 5-10 movements every hour. But I have been monitoring Skittle for a couple weeks now and that’s not how it always goes. There will be 2-3 hours where I feel only 2-4 movements each hour and then suddenly, I’ll get 25 kicks in twenty minutes. So I’m having a hard time trying to gauge when to worry and when it’s just Skittle’s normal pattern. Any advice? For those of you who are pregnant or have children, what were you told about fetal movement? It seems everyone gets a different story. And also…I’m now at the point in pregnancy where I start seeing my OB every two weeks. I can’t believe it’s that time already! It feels like another milestone.


Can I just say how very exciting it has been to watch all the media coverage of the royal baby’s birth? I know it’s kind of silly, but England (and especially London) is one of my favorite places on Earth and I have always been fascinated by the royal family, so it’s been fun to follow Kate and Wills as they prepared for this big life change. And it’s exciting to think that, just as I grew up “alongside” William and Harry, so will my children grow up alongside this new generation of royals. But now I long to return to London all over again! Even all these months and miles gone by, it still feels like home to me.

I hope all of you are having a blessed, safe, and happy week. Up next: a post about my e-mail from Kat…if I ever get the guts to actually read it!

A Virtual Gender Reveal Party

** Please note: If you want the experience of a real gender reveal party, take your time reading this. And don’t scroll down! The surprise is towards the bottom. 🙂

On Saturday, we celebrated Skittle by throwing a Gender Reveal Party. And what a party it was! I have been so lucky to have experienced many wonderful, beautiful moments in my life (as well as many sad and difficult ones), but May 18, 2013 is definitely in the Top 10. It was an absolutely perfect day. I have imagined and dreamed of this party for months, long before Skittle was ever conceived. On those days when we were TTC and I felt hopeful, I allowed  myself to picture this day when we would be surrounded by people we loved and we’d cut into a pretty cake and get the sweetest surprise of all. And much to my wonder, that’s exactly how our party went. Nothing went wrong. Everyone was a perfect addition to the party dynamic. Cupcake didn’t have any meltdowns or scream at the people she didn’t know well. There was no lull in the conversation. It could not have gone any better, not even by one bit, and that makes me so extraordinarily happy.

And do you remember this post, when I was planning my daughter’s birthday party and was disappointed to learn that so many people wouldn’t be coming? I was so hurt and I felt rejected and unloved. Well, this weekend, I am happy to report that there was not even a smidgen of that. Of the thirteen individuals/families, we invited, only three did not come. We had a house full of fifteen adults, one toddler, two newborns, and two dogs (only one of which was ours, thanks to my in-laws who insisted on bringing their gigantic pooch along, too). Included in our guests were my dear friends Lillian and Leigh, my mom and her two best friends (whom I have known since I was a toddler), my in-laws, one of my aunts, one of my cousins and her family, Honey’s best bud (who was the only one to bring a gift — and it was amazing!), and my sister and her mom. So many people were there to celebrate with us, and that meant more to me than anything else possibly could have. I felt so loved, so valued, and I think Skittle did too for all the kicking s/he did!

And so today, friends, I invite you to a Virtual Gender Reveal Party in our own little corner of the ALI blogosphere… Won’t you join us? No RSVP needed!


Come in, come in! A white board by the front door is adorned with one of Skittle’s recent ultrasound photos and the sign reads: Almost time to see, which will it be? A bouncing baby he or a pretty little she? We’re so excited you’ll be here as we learn the Big News! If you’re in a hurry, feel free to rush through the party and see the big revealing NOW…but we do hope you’ll take your time, sit for a while, and celebrate all the joys that a party like this can bring. Please leave your shoes at the door.


Your hosts are wearing:

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The dress was an Easter gift from my mom and you may remember the necklace from this post. I can’t wait to add an October (or September?) birthstone this fall! I also wore a pregnancy loss remembrance bracelet, in memory of our Teddy Graham. He has not been forgotten. And in the spirit of the cute owls that helped to inspire our party theme, Cupcake is wearing this for our party:


Isn’t she cute? And no detail has been forgotten, friends, right down to the matching Mama & Daughter toenail polish:

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Would you like something to eat? To drink? There’s plenty and I don’t want you going hungry! Perhaps you’d like some pita chips to eat with our delicious feta dip? Or some crackers, cheese, and nitrate-free deli meat? Or do you care for the Trader Joe’s chocolates, which are my personal favorite? And we have punch and spa water to quench your thirst! Please help yourself and make yourselves at home. Our home is crowded, but there are plenty of places to sit. Get comfortable! All the fun will begin soon.

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In case you haven’t noticed, we have gone with a pink and blue color theme for this party. It may not be original, but it sure was easy. When you’re pregnant and have a toddler at home, you have to simplify somewhere! But there are other decorations you may want to notice, too. Photos from our six ultrasounds are hung on the wall. And this posterboard, too:

There are thirteen Old Wives' Tales listed here...7 point to GIRL, and 6 point to BOY. Not much help, are they?

There are thirteen Old Wives’ Tales listed here…7 point to GIRL, and 6 point to BOY. Not much help, are they?

My husband also bought some flowers from a market in the city. He thought he was buying pink and blue flowers, but when he arrived home, I informed him they are pink and purple. Oh, well. Aren’t they beautiful? I especially love the calla lily.


And of course, there’s the cake table (the crowning glory of our party), setting here to build the anticipation and intrigue. Or perhaps is it here to anticipate us all? I may not have been the one to bake and decorate the cake (we went to a professional) or even the one to design it (I have Pinterest to thank for that!), but it’s still my pride and joy because it was exactly what I wanted. I am completely tickled with how perfect it is! What do all of you think?

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If you have a moment in between bites and sips of our refreshments, we hope you’ll take some time to participate in the activities we’ve planned:

Please offer your best name AND worst name suggestions! We'll read them aloud and have some fun.

Please offer your best name AND worst name suggestions! We’ll read them aloud and have some fun.

And here's a silly little game...give us your best guess for how many pink candies in the jar and how many blue. Prizes for the two winners!

And here’s a silly little game…give us your best guess for how many pink candies are in the jar and how many blue. Prizes for the two winners!

There’s also a voting board! Please cast your vote and wear your sticker with pride, though don’t be surprised if Cupcake tries to steal it from you…

A little peek at our REAL names. Can you guess who's who?

A little peek at our REAL names. Can you guess who’s who?


There’s still a little time before the cake cutting, so let’s play! Last call to add names to the suggestion basket… (And if any of you really do have names you’d like to contribute, please leave them in the comments. We’re still open to any and all ideas!) A few of the best BOY names that are given: Jarrett, Hayden, Ryan, Nicholas. And a few of the worst: Horace, Bubba, Fred, Billy Bob, Saddam, Gunther (even though that one makes me think of Friends!), Oscar, Aiden, Elmer, Hugo. And a few of the best GIRL names: Isabella, Olivia, Madison, Hope, Quinn, Charlotte, Roxy. And a few of the worst ones: Beulah, Henrietta, Macaroon, Rhino, Hermione, Olive, Seven, Sapphire, Griselda. I’m so thankful for all of these suggestions…they’ve given me a lot to think about!

And on to the candy count…we have two winners! There are 318 pink candies and 283 blue candies in that jar and we are proud to announce that the winners are my friend Leigh and my mama respectively, even though neither of them were really that close. A $10 Starbucks gift card as a prize for each!

Our house is crowded, our living room is full, the food is half-eaten and dirty plates litter our counter….but there is laughter in this room. Warmth. Smiles. Loud conversation. My mom is holding my cousin’s little guy, just six weeks old. My 10-week old niece is asleep in her carseat in the corner. I can hear our little dog scratching in the back of the house, because we’ve locked her into the bathroom for a couple hours and she can smell the food. My sister and cousin are discussing their recent adventures in new mommyhood. Honey’s buddy is giving my mom a hard time about hating the name Oscar.  Lillian is giving me all the details about her recent trip to the coast and Leigh is reading a story to Cupcake, who has finally decided that all the people here are her new best friends. I do ask that you please ignore the constant chatter of my mother-in-law, who has a way of interrupting every conversation. And if my father-in-law starts to tickle Cupcake into a frenzy of shrieking laughter, I have earplugs I can hand out.  But can you tell that everyone is having a great time? I almost hate to interrupt all the fun, but there is a little business to get to…

Please, won’t you all gather ’round the table? It’s the moment we have all waited for! The anticipation is killing me. I can’t stop myself from clapping my hands and bouncing on my tippy-toes as I wait for everyone to drop what they’re doing and join us in the kitchen…  But alas, it is time to cut the cake!


Can you feel the suspense? With Honey and Cupcake beside me, I saw (literally) through the tough fondant and feel my heart clench as I catch a glimpse of the color. There are cheers when I bring up the cake cutter to make a second cut and colored crumbs come into sight.

And it’s a….






…..drumroll please….









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A girl, you guys. Skittle is a she! (I’ve posted the proof on our Skittle page.) I have a post planned to explain all the ins and outs of how I feel about this, but suffice it to say, I am on Cloud 9. Truly! I could not be happier and, in that magical moment when we learn a little bit more about our newest family member, the emotion in the room is palpable. There were tears in my eyes as I hug Honey.

The photo may be blurry, but I think it says it all.

The photo may be blurry, but I think it says it all.

I am over-the-moon with our news and can think nothing more than of the little baby girl kicking away in my womb, but before all of you leave and this party comes to an end, there are a few more things to get out of the way…

Team Blue (a.k.a. The Losing Team), would you please put your names in one basket? And Team Pink (The Winning Team!), would you please put yours in the other? A name will be drawn from both and there are prizes involved!

First, Team Blue (of which there are eight players, plus Cupcake and myself, who don’t really count)…

One of my mom's closest friends wins the jar of delicious artificially-flavored candies!

One of my mom’s closest friends wins the jar of delicious artificially-flavored candies!

It was my husband's idea to use a Prego jar for this!

It was my husband’s idea to use a Prego jar for this!

And for Team Pink (just five players, plus Honey)…

My lovely Lillian is the one to win this fantastic prize -- a basket of tons of goodies, including chocolate, organic hand lotion, a picture frame, a bottle of Starbucks, and a $20 gift card to Target!

My lovely Lillian is the one to win this fantastic prize — a basket of goodies, including chocolate, organic hand lotion, some of my favorite teas, a picture frame, a bottle of Starbucks, and a $20 gift card to Target!

I hate for parties to end, and this one was so fun! Thank you all for coming, for celebrating with us, for sharing in our joy. Forever and ever, you all will have been part of one of the sweetest moments in my life.

I feel a little sorrow now that the day is over and the party has passed, now that this long-anticipated event has come and gone. I can’t help but be filled with melancholy, knowing that unlike with Christmas (which also makes me a little desperately sad afterwards), things like this don’t come once a year. Really, I don’t suspect that I will ever have another party like this in my lifetime. That’s a little hard to think about.

And yet, there are other things to look forward to. Other good memories that will follow. So much awaits us right now!

In fact, I believe the best is yet to come.

More Odds ‘n’ Ends Brought to You by the Letter “F”

Please forgive these somewhat scattered thoughts. My head aches and I have a lot I want to cover, as quickly as I can. (But you all know me, and that’s not often quickly at all…)

Failure: That’s how I might describe this cycle, and certainly today’s CD15 ultrasound (the FIFTH medical appointment I’ve gone to in FOUR days, between my daughter and I!). Follicular progress? None. Practically no growth whatsoever. Possible shrinkage, but that left ovary is a bit shy and they have a horrible time finding and seeing her, which means measurements for the follicles on Lefty are approximate at best. Today, my largest follicles were 11.0 and 11.5. No bueno. And while I haven’t given up hope completely (see last month’s cycle for proof of what can happen), it’s hard to stay positive. And it puts a big ol’ black cloud over the upcoming Christmas festivities. I was hoping for hope and optimism this Christmas, instead I have dread and uncertainty. I return on Wednesday for one more u/s to see if there’s been any change. Really, really praying for it tonight and in the days ahead.

Frustration: I’m losing patience with Clomid. It maddens me so that my miracle drug, the one that has never caused me any grief and gave me my precious daughter and a second short-term baby to boot, is now failing me. I want to try Femara first, but my doc is already talking Follistim, which is going to cost us some mighty dough. Sigh. There are days when I am thisclose to just throwing in the towel altogether and giving up.

False Positive?: I rarely get a false positive on an OPK, and I’ve never had one this early in my cycle, but today that second line was very comparable to the control line. I’m not super confident in the accuracy of it because my urine was extraordinarily dark (from drinking, oh, one glass of water all day yesterday because I was too freaking busy), but it’s suspect. Is it wrong? Is it because of concentrated urine? Or is it that my body is preparing to release an egg before one is mature — and could that be my problem with the last four cycles as well? Is that even possible my body would do that? Or could the u/s techs just be completely wrong about my follicular measurements? So many questions! My OPK tomorrow may give some answers…I hope!

Family: For those of you who care to know, I did get to have breakfast with my family this morning. We (my mom and I) were an hour late (because of a pointless ultrasound, mind you), but we still got to spend a fantastic hour with them. Every time I see these people, I am reminded how lucky I am to have so many in my life whom I love and feel so loved by. Anthony Brandt once said “Other things may change us, but we begin and end with family,” and for me, how true that is.

Face: Mine is clearing up. It’s very weird. I had great skin in my teens, but have struggled with cystic acne through most of my 20s. And now, for the last month, I’ve had hardly any pimples at all and no cystic ones. For the last several cycles, I was breaking out especially around ovulation and my period, but didn’t see one pimple appear around CD1 two weeks ago. I love it, but still wonder, what gives? Is it that I’m just getting older (turning thirty next year!) or is something changing hormonally? Hmmm…

Fever: I’ve had a low one for the last three days, 99.5 to 100.6. No other symptoms. I went to Urgent Care last night because my GP was worried about a UTI, but everything is coming back negative so far. We’re still waiting on blood work, but the on-call doc seemed very concerned about a suspicious fever. I’m supposed to go back tomorrow if it persists, but only plan to do that if the fever is above 100.0. What really irritates me is that, even if I do ovulate at this point, I will have no solid confirmation because my BBT is already elevated. I did ask the nurse at the fertility clinic about a fever, though, and she seems unconcerned about it affecting eggs or my ability to conceive this cycle. So I guess that is one small thing for which to be thankful.

Well, I think that will do for now. Hope everyone’s last couple days have been more relaxing and less eventful than mine!