Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Travels & Pics!

Back home now! What a trip! Marvelous, fun, enjoyable, and so worth it! I've got some pictures to capture some highlights!

I left Tuesday morning at 5:05 and had a terrific drive down. Listened to a MP3 disc Jonathan burned for me AND C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce (twice) - awesome! Met Daddy for lunch at Cracker Barrell outside of Charlotte, and arrived at Seth & Karen's around 4 after a stop at my parents'. After giving the girls' their birthday presents it started to storm. Katrina excitedly looks at me and says, "Oh goodie! We get to make cookies!" Apparently Karen always makes chocoalte chip cookies with Katrina when it storms - what a sweet tradition! So I made chocolate chocolate-chip with her. We had steaks Seth cooked, squash casserole, and broccoli. Shiona had a really scary apple-choking inicdent, and Crystal stayed for dinner. Unfortunately, she went to take my car home & it wouldn't stay started! :( Thank God it got me there safely. We got it towed Wednesday morn & fixed at the dealership that day, they said it wasn't a big problem. (It did act up on my drive back, 3 hrs from home - not sure it was fixed!)

Wednesday morning Suzanne, Crystal & I headed to the Howells to see Susi & Violet. Violet is a beautful baby, especially in purple. So adorable! It was SO GOOD to see Susi - I hadn't since her wedding in June '05! The Howell girls all visited with us and it was just like old times! They had us for lunch and we had this magnificent venison chili with homemade bread and salad from their garden. I've never had a meal I wouldn't want to recreate at the Howells (which I did this Saturday, actually!)! Yum! They served us hot tea, although it was sad I didn't think ahead of time to make scones or something to make it an official "tea party."

Susi took me to get the car & I headed back to my parents' house for the Mexican meal Aunt Tammy was fixing for the Graydons, Dienstfreis, Robinsons, and O'Malleys (brave women!): Chicken & Beef Fajitas, Enchiladas, Fiesta Rice, and I made Strawberry & Original Margaritas. Aunt Tammy had even bought Mexican cookies & soda. So good! Seeing Christen & Michelle was so much fun! We had a blast!!! I think the only differences in us now are we're more mature! :)

Thursday morning a bunch of us Graydons went into Danville together. I took the girls out to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch & we pigged out on wings, potato skins, and mozzarella sticks! So good - they'd never been. We then got Noah from lessons & went to STARBUCKS! Yes, my 1st time in the Danville one. Not too shabby! Mary then left for work & we went to buy stuff from her. :) Well, I did. Then I visited with the O'Malleys the rest of the afternoon.

Girls at BWW

That night I took Christen, Michelle & Stephanie (their younger sister) to Danville to meet up with Karen & her girls. We bought more stuff from Mary at Lancome, met the family for dinner, Karen treated us to Starbucks, and we girls saw a late showing of Oceans 13 (lame). We bought tons of popcorn and candy and were throwing it at each other in the theatre. If these 3 boys hadn't been present, we'd have had the theatre to ourselves!!! I think we stayed up til 2 trying to delay our goodbyes. :(

Christen & Karen

Michelle & Denise

Then, I haded home the next morning. I stopped in Charlotte to visit Jeanie & Alathea, who is just such a fun little cutie! I brought us all Starbucks (even though Alathea likes chai lattes, Jeanie keeps her orders limited to chocoate milk! *grin*) Rebecca stopped by for a while to chat, and I left after a 3 hour visit & some yummy lunch! I had so much fun and was SO GLAD I stopped by to see them! Jeanie makes such a natural mom, she just really enjoys Alathea. I turned my camera's display out so Alathea could see herself & she LOVED making faces and sticking her tongue out....

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fun Travels Coming Up!

Meet my wonderful husband's gift to me!

And this was SUCH a fun night this past Monday. It was our fourth hog hunt & we'd never even seen ones the other times. We hadn't sighted in the rifle since our first time out, but assumed it was ok. This time we saw 4 around 5:00pm and 5 around 9:00pm! And I missed both times! When I haded the rifle off to Jonathan (thinking it was me), he missed too! Yeah, the scope was off! I know because at 50 and 100 yds at the range I always hit the bulls eye, as does Jonathan. Plus, the next day I shot a rabbit at about 40 yds with a single shot to the head with a bb-rifle! Not propped up, just free-hand (or whatever you call it). A little frustrating, but I definitely want to go out again! We had a lot of fun, even though it was really hot and lots of bugs!

Now I'm headed back to NC Tuesday to Friday to see my dear friends the O'Malley girls visiting from Chicago (friends for 18 years!). When we moved to Chicago & I was in 2nd grade & the school year had started a few weeks before, Michelle was assigned to show me around and be my "friend". A friendship that lasted! Her sister Christen happened to be in Karen & Stuart's kindergarten class and she & Karen became friends! So fun!

And Susi Forshey is in town, a girl I really love too! She did the flowers so incredibly at my wedding and I did the cake at hers! She is wise, patient, gentle, godly and an Army wife to boot! She got married & moved from everything she knew in VA all the way across the country to Washington state!! Her husband is currently in Iraq serving 15 months. They have a baby daughter only 6 months old! She serves the military ladies around her and has started leading a weekly prayer group for ladies that don't even know the Lord - just to minister to them! My sisters & I loved the 4 girls in their family! We had numerous tea parties, stringed music sessions, sleepovers, berry picking, showers for one another, wedding gigs! Such sweet times... I can't wait to see her!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ponderings.... & News

Knowing that God is sovereign doesn’t mean we must have dry eyes and respond with passivity to prove we have faith. It means we rest in the assurance that He’s in control, despite our pain. As a sovereign and good God, He is not taken by surprise when his children suffer. Rather than be thwarted, his purposes advance through our suffering. Therein lies the tension, though. God is all-loving, yet he allows this pain; God is all-powerful, yet he doesn’t take away the hurt. So we ask: Is God good and will I trust Him? These are the most important questions we can ask and answer on the infertility journey."

So this quote is very specific and it's not deeply thought-provoking in the way C.S. Lewis's quotes are, but it's True. I think the root of most people's hardship with their particular form of trials/suffering is the question of God's goodness and intentions [for us]. Having faced trials in the past, we can (with assurance) say that God is Good and His intentions are for our sanctification and His glory. Whether our sanctification is His chastisement for sin in our lives, or just pruning areas of lesser fruit out, we are being transformed into the image of His Son.

I've been reading a book particular to our unique situation and I've come away with a lot of good quotes for my benefit. I've also come away realizing that I'm not such an anomaly, what I experience on a day to day basis in my spiritual life, marriage, friendships, and family relaitonships is quite common, even in the Bible! With that said...

We have news. Ever since moving we've been trying to continue protocols at the clinic back in San Antonio. Our 6 months away from there has yielded only one trip. We've been waiting for the next opportunity, which looked like July or August (due to Jonathan's training schedule). Since we moved, we've been on the waiting list for the IVF program there, and had a spot in April 2008. Until then, we'd continue the treatments available. Now though, we were just offered a spot in the Aug/Sep 2007 cycle - yes, this summer! Shocked and astounded are the words to describe my feelings. For many days now I've wrestled with even sharing that we're proceeding with IVF. This is an issue most Christians know little about, may not personally know anyone who's been through it, may be misinformed concerning it, and perhaps hold opinions/convictions against it.

I didn't want people's judgement and I personally desired to maintain our privacy (what's left of it!). And yet, there's fear of man as a motivation in there (as Meghan graciously noted!). Then Jonathan and I talked and he pointed out that if we're really doing this with lots of prayer and counsel, and faith that it's ethical and right (with convictions on certain factors), then why should we not tell? Don't Christians need to know? Should not we testify? So, no good reasons for not sharing.

Until I walked through IF, I had no idea how many women in the church were walking that same path. It was only when one person opened up that a host of others would too. And how many of those cute children running around that were Clomid, IUI, of IVF babies!

However, please know that my heart is saddened that we're here, facing this. As much as all the repeated failed treatments had me wanting IVF, now that it's here it's gut-wrenching. It is said that "infertility is the gradual death of a dream. An unsuccessful attempt to have a child is really a loss within a loss. An infertility patient experiences a monthly cycle of hope and despair that falls within the much longer grieving process." How true! Instead of romantic lighting and gentle moments, we'll have a cold, sterile environment with a room full of doctors while I'm "consciously sedated". And yet, we are excited and full of faith that this next step is one God wants us to take. We're excited because on our own we've yet to achieve anything: this could very well work! Don't misunderstand: it is God who will determine the outcome. No one can force an embryo into existance, and no one can implant it in the uterus and produce a pregnancy. All they can do is help guide the process along. The success rate for IVF is about 50%, depending on your diagnosis. We're unexplained, so that's a big unknown.

So for now, we pray, get counsel, answer some tough questions, prepare, write our check, and wait to buy tickets for the time we're told. Oh - and for fun we get blood drawn! :)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Busy Times!

Just had a terrific weekend with Stuart and Haley visiting us! Although I never got any pictures! Was too busy having fun! We went to the Coke Museum in Atlanta and sampled 70 different drinks Coke makes, from all over ths world. It was fabulous!

I didn't post any pics from the two weekends previous of graduations. We had marvelous times and I'm so so very proud of both my brothers. Stuart, from graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 3 years with a bachelor's in Political Science. Carter, for graduating high school with incredible skills in writing (books!), medieval studies, expert in chain-mail making, dabbling photographer... I love my brothers so much and who they've turned out to be as men is exciting to see!

So without further adieu, from the 2nd weekend in May, Stuart's graduation weekend:

Stuart & Haley

Dad & Mom looking Charming!!!

Carter, Stuart, Noah - Lookin Good! Amazing how grown up they are!

After the graduation, we all had a blast chillin in the Courtyard. We played chase w/Katrina, ate my fab Molten Lava Cakes, and laughed a LOT. Oh and enjoyed a bottle of wine together!

And of course, pics would never be complete without adorable ones of the cutie-pie Robinson girls, my very own nieces! Here's Katrina lookin like a baby doll!
And here's little Shiona & Mommy.... she watches Aunt Crystal play piano and trys to play herself! May be a little child prodigy in the making!

I love this of Suzanne. A bunch of us "kids" took a mid-morning walk and got hot & sticky, but still had a blast. I think she was laughing at Jonathan "scaring" the girls with frogs. Well, Haley really was scared!

And now the 3rd weekend in May, Carter's Graduation weekend:

Dad & Mom, talking about Carter! 4 stinkin' minutes, boo! :( Still good though!

Jay & Carter - they do everything together! Even graduate. :)

PAYBACK!!!! First Carter's friends from Chicago threw him in the pool! Then, it was Stuart's turn! Notice how gleeful Jonathan is! Ryan McMahon - beware!!!

This was Stuart & Carter in the pool. I bet it was no warmer than 65 degrees! They took it well!