Monday, August 31, 2015

{iPhone Rewind} :: August

We decided to have a garage sale before our move to try and earn a little extra cash on some items we wanted to give away. We didn't make very much, but at least we got rid of some stuff!

Sasha waiting for garage salers to come...she wanted to be a part of the early morning action too :)

I am currently obsessed with baked sweet potato fries. It's the closest to the real thing I can have, and I find myself craving these yummy baked fries ALL the time. 

We were watching the Friends episode where Ross can't name all 50 states. Mike and I decided to try our luck at it. I'm embarrassed to say that 2 college educated adults couldn't get all 50 in 6 minutes! If only we had a little more time...  #wearedorks

Guess who was up in the wee hours of the morning to get Baylor tickets as soon as they went on sale?? They sold out so fast last year for the inaugural season in McLane stadium, so I wanted to be sure we got tickets this year. Can't wait to see a Baylor game this fall!

Mike told me he ordered a new game for us. When he said it was a game about mushrooms, I was highly skeptical. And even reading the instructions for the game made me wonder what we got ourselves into. But once we started playing {and I got past the ridiculous lingo}, we actually enjoyed it! It's nice to have other game options for two :)

I got to try the new Tom + Chee in Richardson {Shark Tank, anyone??} It's a gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup restaurant, and it's awesome! :)

We decided to paint the new house! It was exciting at first, but then I realized how difficult it is to actually narrow down colors. 

We finally settled on some blue-gray colors and we recruited our brothers to help us on painting day. We also decided to repaint the fireplace, and that was a HUGE undertaking. But we are so excited about how it turned out! {photos to come in a later post}

We had a women's ministry kickoff event, and some of the leaders made sure to have a little fun with a little Shake it Off action. Gotta love women's ministry ;)

How sad is it that I have so many pharmacies in my contacts list? Oh the life of someone with Crohn's and endometriosis...  #notafan #butthankfulformedicine

This goofy pup absolutely LOVES going to granny's house! In order to make things a little easier {on us and her} during the move, we decided to let her go spend the weekend with granny. She was definitely excited :)

Mike's brother has been raving about a donut shop in Allen, so we decided to try it. I can't eat donuts, but I tried a bite, and they are delicious. You know they have to be good when the line is out the door! 

Embryo Adoption :: Blood Pregnancy Test

Today is the day for which we have waited. After praying for a baby for 3 years {almost to the day}, walking the hard road of infertility, and saying goodbye to 4 babies, we finally got the news for which we have long prayed.

When the doctors said we had less than a 1% chance of conceiving on our own, and especially after losing 2 of our adopted babies after our first FET, and 2 more in the thawing process, I wasn't sure if we would ever see a positive pregnancy test. But in God's grace and power, and through the gift of embryo adoption, we received the official confirmation from the blood pregnancy test that we are, in fact, pregnant. BEST. news. ever.  :)

We are still cautiously excited about our news, as we are still in a very critical stage. I will go back for more testing on Wednesday to be sure that my beta numbers are increasing as they should, and that our babies are growing strong and healthy. But today, our God heard our cries and showed His continued faithfulness. We are pregnant!!! :)

How far along? 4 weeks, 3 days
Beta Number: 53 {low, but it just has to double}
Days since transfer: 12 days {those extra 2 days of waiting to find out were SO hard!!}
Meds: stopped taking Cabergoline; day 38 of Estrace; day 19 of progesterone in oil {PIO}
Total weight gain: 0
Maternity clothes? WAY too early :)
Sleep: I barely slept at all last night, in anticipation of our testing this morning
Best moment of the week: having the doctor confirm that we are pregnant...something for which we have prayed for 1,095 days! Oh yes...I have been counting!
Miss anything? nope
Cravings: no cravings
Symptoms: I really don't feel any different; I feel pretty normal. No symptoms yet, other than being tired from the progesterone.
Looking forward to: hearing that our beta numbers doubled appropriately, and finding out if both embies made it


Size of baby? about the size of a poppy seed {teeny tiny}
Development: already growing the cell layers that are the beginnings of the nervous system, hair, skin, GI tract, pancreas, liver, thyroid, skeleton, blood system, connective tissue, urogenital system, and muscles...nothing much ;)
Heartbeat: too soon
Movement: too soon
Gender predictions? we're just hoping for 2 healthy babies!

**This post was written at 4 Weeks + 3 days, but was not published until after we made our official announcement for our second pregnancy. I back-dated to the actual day so we could have all of this for our own records and memories.**

Friday, August 28, 2015

High Five for Friday!

{one} We are officially moved in to our new home and have been busy unpacking and getting settled. I realized the other day as I was unpacking boxes that I could have very well been doing that in Kansas or Michigan, far away from everything familiar. But instead, I am unpacking my new home just minutes from family and friends. That blessing is not lost on me, and I am so thankful for this season. It may not last forever, but I want to enjoy it while I can.

{two} National Dog Day was on Wednesday, so I am a few days late, but I wanted to be sure to post a photo of my favorite pup! Puppy is still not so sure about her new home, never letting me wander too far. She definitely doesn't seem comfortable in her new surroundings yet, but I am sure it won't take long. She at least has her favorite nap spot still :)

{three} Even though I left my executive assistant position, I have been doing a little consulting with them. For the foreseeable future, I will be doing some work from home for them. It's a win-win, where I can help a little more with the transition and growth while earning a little extra income. It has worked out really well, and I am excited about this opportunity. It's the perfect fit; the work from home aspect works out well for my health, and I still get to work with some of my favorite people.

{four} The McCulloughs instituted Thursday Ice Cream Family Fun Time :)  Every Thursday, whoever is available can meet for ice cream. We made it to our first family fun time this week, enjoying time with family and yummy ice cream from Sweet Firefly. We won't be able to make it every week, but I LOVE this fun new tradition!

{five} Our sweet friend Jon is stepping away from the young adult ministry at church and moving on to be the Worship Pastor. While I know the young adult ministry will have a huge hole to fill, we are excited for what the Lord is going to do through Jon and his wife Sami next! On Sunday, we will be going to a Communion Reunion Dinner to honor them and celebrate with sweet friends from the group. I am excited to see old friends and reminisce about the ministry that was so vital to my spiritual growth when I moved to Dallas.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Goodbye Leland

Today we loaded the moving truck and said goodbye to our first home. We made so many memories in that little house, and I was surprised at how sad I really was to leave.

This little home was a blessing to us from the start. We learned it would be coming on the market for rent a few days early, so we were able to jump on the opportunity fairly quickly. As soon-to-be-newlyweds, we were more than giddy about our first home together. I instantly fell in love with the cute little blue house with the red door. We were even able to take our engagement pictures in the empty space, and I just LOVE having that as a memory.

We also fell in love with the neighborhood and set out to get to know our neighbors. We became close with several of them over the next 4 years, and we are so thankful for the relationships and gospel opportunities we have had. We grew to love the neighborhood kids who would hang out and play in our front yard...even the mischievous ones ;)

This home was far from perfect. The foundation shifted constantly and our maintenance guy's go-to remedy was to shave the doors {imagine uneven, gaping doors all over the house}. The floors creaked and moved, so you could never move around quietly, no matter how hard you tried. Our water pressure was quirky, so you couldn't run the dishwasher/washing machine if you wanted to take a shower or vice versa. 

Remember when the lightening struck in the empty lot next door? Or when the mice took over our laundry room? Or worse, the opossums invaded? The neighborhood kitties and bunnies didn't seem so bad then. Or how about the time we had that spewing poop hole in our backyard, and we had to move out for several days because they unearthed our backyard? Or the time that we had a gas leak and our front yard and driveway were ripped up in the middle of the torrential month-long downpour, and the naughty neighborhood kids rode their bikes through the fresh cement? Good times :)

But despite all of its "charm," this home holds great memories. In this home we...
Leland Avenue was home to us for 4 years, and we are so thankful that this is where the Lord placed us. It was not our plan to leave so soon, but we will forever be grateful for the opportunity we had to live, love, and serve in this place. We pray that He uses us that much more in our next home.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: Amy and Noah

As I mentioned yesterday, we lost another of our babies, this time to the thawing process. And I got the phone call this morning confirming that we lost our fourth embryo as well. While these little ones didn't even make it to transfer, we nonetheless are grieving the loss of the lives we won't get to meet here on earth. 

I was prepared for the phone call, but it still hit me pretty hard. I think it was the sheer weight of our loss: we have lost 4 tiny ones, and we won't have any genetic siblings for future transfers. Realizing that our {not so} little family of 8 will not ever be is tough. It's hard to process the fact that we pleaded with the Lord for their lives and still lost them. We find comfort in knowing that they are no longer frozen, and are now in the presence of their Creator. We see it as God's grace that they did not have to be refrozen. And we rejoice in the fact that we will one day get to meet these precious ones in eternity.

We wanted each of our tiny ones that we lost to have a name. They were each individual lives, created by God, and loved by both their genetic and adoptive families. Because we believe that life begins at conception, we wanted to grant each one the personhood they deserve.

Our first two were affectionately named Jack and Jill by a beloved friend and mentor. Our other two we named Amy {which means dearly loved} and Noah {which means rest or peace}. Both of these tiny ones were incredibly loved and wanted, along with their siblings. But we are thankful they now find rest with Jesus. They will never know the pains of this world, but instead will only ever know the face of our beautiful Savior.

And so now we wait and continue to pray for the 2 that we were blessed with to transfer. We want very much to meet BOTH of them this side of heaven and hold them in our arms...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: Transfer Day {FET #2}

The last couple of days have been nerve wracking. They thawed our remaining 4 embryos on Monday, and we have been waiting to see how they were growing. The doctor's office said they would call only if there were any abnormalities, so when 5pm rolled around yesterday, and we hadn't received a phone call, we breathed a sigh of relief. We knew that meant we had at least 1 embryo to transfer, but we were still holding out hope that all 4 survived.

Ready to meet our little ones!

Today we had our second FET. I can't help but point out that 1 year ago today, we received our official and final infertility diagnosis. 1 year since our world was shattered; 1 year for the Lord to bring us 6 tiny embryos and now be on our second frozen embryo transfer.

I wasn't as nervous about this procedure, but probably because I knew exactly what to expect. We wanted so much to be excited, but our past hurts made it difficult. We didn't know what news we would face when we arrived at the clinic. When the embryologist came in, she said she had better news for us: two of our embryos were doing really well! One was looking perfect, and the other was looking pretty good. So we had 2 to transfer again today {yes, again praying for twins!}

Our tiny ones at their earliest stage

Today we still had mixed emotions. We wanted all 4 to survive, but unfortunately, our third embryo didn't survive the process, and the fourth is not looking so great. It is the lab's protocol to grow them out one more day to give them a longer chance of survival. So we are still waiting to hear how this little one does. So while we are so excited about the 2 that we got to meet today, we are still pleading for the life of our final embryo. We want so much for the embryologist to be pleasantly surprised at how well he/she is doing tomorrow. 


Age of Embryos? They were created in May 2007, so they have been frozen for 8 years
Size of Embryos? About 0.1 to 0.2 mm
Development: 5-day blastocysts; the entire genetic blueprint for life {chromosomes/DNA} is present
Meds: Cabergoline 2x/week, day 26 of Estrace, day 7 of progesterone in oil
Sleep: I slept well last night, a gift of grace and peace from the Lord
Best moment of the week: Reaching 5pm yesterday without a phone call from the lab, then learning that we had 2 good embryos to transfer today
Miss anything? The 3 babies we have lost in this journey
Cravings: No cravings
Symptoms: Tired from the progesterone and the valium from today's procedure
Looking forward to: Our blood pregnancy test in 12 days, and finding out if our babies implanted

**This post was written on our transfer day, but was not published until after we made our official announcement. I back-dated to the actual day so we could have all of this for our own records and memories.**

Monday, August 17, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: Thaw Day

Today our remaining 4 embryos will be thawed and then cultured out to day 5. The doctor has given them a 50% success rate, expecting 2 to survive to our transfer on Wednesday. We are petitioning the throne of God for all 4 to survive. And not just survive, but to thrive. We want so much for the doctors to be proven wrong and for our tiny ones to beat the odds they have been given. 

We are not allowed to transfer more than 2 at a time {for health and safety of both mom and babies}, so if more than 2 survive this thaw/culture process, the remaining embryos will have to be refrozen. They will be frozen using the newer, faster freezing technology, which has proven to be gentler and safer for embryos. While we are thankful for this safer method, we still really struggled with that decision, because it's part of why we didn't choose IVF to begin with: we didn't want to freeze our babies. Ultimately, we wanted what was best for our tiny ones, and we felt the Lord gave us grace in choosing to trust the medical expertise of our doctor and embryologist.

The next couple of days are going to be difficult as we wait. We are praying for no phone calls from the clinic {which means an abnormality in the thawing process}. It was hard to lose our first 2 embryos; we don't want to lose any others. But ultimately, they are in the Lord's hands, and their lives are His. So we wait and pray, and hopefully meet the next 2 tiny ones on Wednesday...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

{DIY} :: Dresser Makeover

I had been wanting to re-do my childhood dresser for awhile now, but just haven't had the time to commit to such a big project. It's a great dresser that has withstood multiple moves. I just felt like I wanted something different, and didn't want to part with a good dresser. After months of debating back and forth, I finally just decided to undertake the project to paint the middle of packing/moving...because that's the best time to do something like that, right??  :)

I have heard people rave about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for a long time now. "It's so easy!" "You don't have to sand anything, just start painting!" "You only need 1 or 2 coats!" "You can use 1 can of paint for multiple pieces of furniture!" "You can't see the brush strokes at all!" Let me just say: lies. all lies. In the words of my brother-in-law who later stated that he DESPISES chalk paint: "If I could go back in time and change anything in human history it would be my decision to use chalk paint on my table." Haha...I may not go that far, but I definitely understand his sentiment after finishing my dresser!

I cleaned the dresser, like all the tutorials said to do. I made sure it was a compatible medium, like all the tutorials said to do. I didn't sand or prime, like the paint claims you don't need to do. And I got this:

And not only did the paint chip, but it continued to chip after I sanded and repainted it twice. So I definitely used almost the entire can of paint on this 1 dresser. Even if I didn't have the chipping problem, it still would have taken 3 or 4 coats to fully cover the old color. And you most definitely can see the brush strokes. Needless to say, it was A LOT of work, and {in my opinion} I spent WAY too much time and money on this project for all the promises that ASCP makes. And I still didn't fully get the chipping to go away...I'm just going to have to hide the one "special" side.

Perhaps I am not as great of a DIYer as I thought, but this project ended up being much more of an undertaking than I bargained for. I am sure it was user error, but I would caution other ASCP newbies that it may not really save you time {and it certainly won't save you money}, so just know that in advance. Do lots of research before you start your project. I did that, but still wasn't happy with the result. Had I known then what I know now, I honestly would have skipped the ASCP and just spent the effort/money on refinishing the dresser the old-fashioned way: sanding, priming, painting, sealing. 

While I would have done this project differently, it wasn't an altogether failure {we will see how it holds up over time though...}. I will say that the soft wax is probably worth the money; a little goes a long way! And waxing the dresser definitely improved the look. And now I have a refinished dresser, which is ultimately what I wanted. It's not perfect, but that's part of the charm, right? 

I forgot to take a before photo {oops}, but I found a photo of my dresser in its "before" state:

Awww...memories of my first apartment!

And here is the after:

It actually doesn't look so bad in the photo; it looks worse in person, trust me. The one thing I liked about this project? The hardware re-do! I looked for replacement hardware, but had a hard time finding the right size. So I decided to just spray paint the hardware to give it a little refresh, and I was so happy with the result!

Before. Tarnished brass pulls and knobs. {Sorry for the shadows}

After. {Spray painted} oil rubbed bronze pulls and knobs.

I give Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic Paint and Primer 5 stars. I followed the directions on the back of the can, and it turned out exactly how they claim it would. All my research stated I would get my desired results by following the directions; no extra caveats or asterisks. Sand, clean, spray, done. I like that ;)

Materials: old dresser from my childhood, 1 quart Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White, Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax, sandpaper, Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic Paint and Primer in Oil Rubbed Bronze
Tools: Paint brush, wax brush, hand sander, screwdriver
Total Project Cost: $50 {it would have been more if my sweet sister-in-law had not let me use her soft wax}

Friday, August 7, 2015

Embryo Adoption :: Lining Check {FET #2}

Today was our lining check, round 2 :)

Just like before, I have been taking Estrace in increasing amounts for 2 weeks now. My doctor said my lining was 7.6mm triple stripe - perfect and ready for a transfer! 

Because of our schedules and the embryology schedule, we had to push the transfer a little later than we had originally planned. We were a little disappointed, but it will allow the best circumstances for our tiny embryos. So on August 19, we will transfer our next little one{s}! 

Our plan is to transfer 2, but this time around will be a little different from our last transfer. We have 4 embryos remaining, and they are all 3-day embryos. Our clinic will thaw them two days before the transfer and will culture them out to day 5. How they do in that process will determine how many we will get to transfer.

So we are praying that all 4 survive the process. We won't transfer all 4 at once, but we want all of our little ones to survive. Any that survive more than 2 will be refrozen using the newer, better freezing method. 

We knew this would be an emotional process, but it has definitely been hard. We know they are all in the Lord's hands, but we are beseeching our heavenly Father for their lives. 

I will re-start the PIO shots next Thursday; so here we go again!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Homemade Sushi Night

Last night we headed over to Ben & Lindsay's for a homemade sushi night! We are all sushi lovers, so we decided to try making our own, and we had so much fun!

preparing the rice and making shrimp tempura

sushi nigiri- salmon, tuna, crab, and yellow tail

rolling the sushi

We had so much to choose from: sushi nigiri, sashimi, california roll, vegan roll, caterpillar roll, salmon and shrimp tempura roll, volcano roll, and spiny tuna roll. All of the ingredients were really fresh, and it was fun to try a lot of different things.

not a bad spread!

this little one didn't want to be left out of the sushi fun!

It was definitely a fun night with family! We had such a blast just hanging out, making dinner, and enjoying each other's company. We're so thankful for family, and we are so excited to be moving closer in a few weeks!