Monday, March 28, 2016

all the tests

Jon and I had been talking for several months about whether and how we would like to grow our family. We both have hearts for domestic adoption from the foster system, but neither one of us felt like Edith was our last biological baby. However, having a third was such a huge decision that we simply had an impossible time making it. After going back and forth for quite some time, we decided to pray about it and take a not trying/not preventing approach. We would do that for two cycles (February and March) and if no pregnancy resulted we would say it's a sign we should focus on ultimately fostering.
surprise! (this was after a scare with a digital test that clearly stated I was not pregnant)
Lo and behold, I got pregnant in February. I had a few scares--and took a LOT of pregnancy tests (stay tuned for a possible post about why Clearblue with Weeks Estimator tests are the spawn of Satan himself). On February 29, my beta was 274. On March 7, it had increased to 6788. So as of this moment in time we are on track for a healthy pregnancy.
this was on a test that supposedly could only detect levels of 100 miu or higher (i.e., not very sensitive)
Early on I told Jon this is my last pregnancy, regardless of the outcome. My heart can't handle another loss (I actually had an extremely early loss in December - no, we weren't trying... one time, folks. It just takes one time*) and my body can't handle another pregnancy. So this is it. It's a weird spot to be in--as a woman, I am genetically programmed to believe I need to bear children. It just feels weird that I'm as young as I am and this is it. The good news is that I have peace about it and I greatly look forward to not feeling like I'm going to puke every second.
and after this test I had a final scare where it decreased to 2-3 weeks and I learned never to trust CB digitals.
So here we are. It still doesn't feel real. I'm a bit terrified about being outnumbered and I don't know what to expect at all since I grew up in a 2-kid family (as did Jon). We are praying for the best and kind of proceeding business as usual since we are quite busy with Elden and Edith. My gut was telling me this is a boy for about a week and a half because I had the same type of morning sickness I did with Elden and I couldn't get enough cuties - one of the few foods I could consistently stomach my first trimester with him. That being said, this pregnancy started off SO different (I'm on my 5th pregnancy and finally got to experience the notorious breast pain a week before I even got a positive pregnancy test) and initially my morning sickness a) started out earlier than the 6 weeks it did with both kids and b) was a combination of the two... totally unique in its own right. And now it's more like Edith's morning sickness than Elden's. So the only logical conclusion is it's boy/girl twins.

We aren't finding out the baby's sex again so we will know in November.

*The only reason I know this is because I was very sick in December and wanted to take medicine. Knowing there was a slim chance I could be pregnant, I took a test. The line was super faint - so faint that we weren't sure if our eyes were playing tricks on us... except three different brands had the same super faint line. I was also a day late which never happens with my cycles. I don't really feel anything in particular about this loss--hence why I didn't write about it--because it was SO early and it never really seemed real.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

Baby Turkey coming sometime in early November. :)

Friday, March 25, 2016

easter mini's

A few weeks ago, we participated in Liz's Easter mini session and I am SO HAPPY with the results! Our children were cranky going into it so I thought for sure it was going to be a disaster, but Liz is truly a child whisperer and I highly recommend her. Here are a few of my favorites from the session:

*and yes, that is a real bunny in the shot of Edith on the chair!

In a surprising twist of fate, the child who could be bribed was the least cooperative, so we have a handful more pictures of Elden than Edith. But for what I paid, and what I got in return, I already told Jon this will be an annual tradition!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

the problem with the christian pro-life approach

I would like to start out by saying that generally speaking I am pro-life. That being said, I do not take the hard line stance a lot of Christians do. I do not think the answers are clear in cases of rape, maternal risks for continuing with a pregnancy, or in the cases of babies that are diagnosed with conditions that are incompatible with life. I approach these issues from the perspective that I do not know what I would do if I found myself in one of these situations so I am in no position to make sweeping judgments of other women. Furthermore, the Bible explicitly tells us not to judge. It is not our position to condemn others. We have no right to do so. Above anything else, I know this: God loves us. Each and every one of us, no matter what decisions we make. His love is unfathomable and His grace is endless.

I recently read an article that discusses how many women who conceive through rape are forced to share custody of that child with their rapist.

Take a second and stop. If you already have your pitchfork out based on my foreword, at least give me the courtesy of reading the article I linked to. Let the stories of these victims sink in. Then come on back here.

There are 15 states which have no laws terminating parental rights of a rapist.  That means he can apply for visitation and custody and can therefore force his victim to be in constant contact with him for at least 18 years. 22 states require a rapist to be convicted for his crime in order for his parental rights to be eligible for termination. That means 40 territories (Washington, D.C. is included in the 40) have little to no protection for victims of rape who conceive a child and decide to keep that child in terms of terminating her rapist's parental access to the child.

Pro-lifers: do you not see what a huge problem this is??

My motivation for writing this article is two-fold. First, the most vocal pro-lifers I am friends with have never actually presented any solutions to reducing the number of abortions that occur each year. They are too busy screaming about how women who choose abortions are selfish. I don't know that any of them have ever done any research into WHY a woman is choosing to abort. I'm speculating here, but I'm guessing the fact that a rapist can enforce parental rights on a child he made through rape is probably a factor that rape victims consider. Second, having experienced sexual abuse myself, I feel it is critical for me to advocate for the victims. When I shared the article I linked to on my Facebook page, someone actually responded that the best solution is for a rape victim to seek prosecution of the rapist so she can keep the child without issue.

Here are the many problems with that argument:
1. Rape is a historically underreported crime (only approximately 32% of rapes are reported to the police) thanks to the stigma associated with it, the shock that comes along with such a traumatic and intimate assault, and the very victim-blaming (that comment placed all responsibility on the rape victim) mentality that our society perpetuates.
2. 15 states (30%) have ZERO provisions for terminating parental rights in the case of rape, so prosecution will not help those women.
3. 24 states + D.C. (47%) require the rapist to be convicted to be eligible for the termination of parental rights. "So turn him in for conviction!" - Let me break it down for you why this is such a horrible argument:

(The following is based on statistics from RAINN and UK Rape Data) Lets say 500 women report their rape to police. Of those 500 rapists, 35 will be arrested, but only 15 will actually go to trial. Out of 500 rapes, 1 man will be found guilty. 0.2% of rapists will ever be found guilty--and that's just of the reported rapes. If you are a human being who has a heart, you should feel sick. You should feel outraged. THIS is where your pitchforks should be directed. Our judicial system is so disgustingly flawed.

If you are pro-life, THIS is a tangible starting point in your fight to end abortions. Fight our judicial system for improved protections for rape victims. Do not allow their rapists to have access to their children. Advocate for them and give them a voice so they do not feel like their only choice to live a life free from their attacker is to get an abortion. Not sure how to do that? Contact your state representative and urge them to propose legislation that will improve victims' rights. You can use this website as a starting point, or a simple Google search will likely give you answers. Also, talk about this issue! Raising awareness and therefore encouraging others to also contact their legislators is imperative. Be so loud about what an injustice this is that you cannot be ignored. Finally, instead of immediately villainizing a woman who has had or is considering an abortion, maybe just ask her why? Leave your judgement and opinions at the door and just listen to her. I can guarantee you she already knows what you think about abortion. Just love her the way Jesus does.

Friday, March 11, 2016

this weather, though

This whole winter was crazy mild for Northeast Ohio. The average highs are usually somewhere in the 20s or 30s from November through February and we get a LOT of lake effect snow--we're talking an average of 60.4 inches during the winter. This winter we had many days in the 40s and even quite a few in the 50s and 60s. I can really only recall a handful of times where it snowed enough to accumulate, but if I had to guess I'm thinking we only got a total of maybe 15-20 inches this year?

Suffice to say, El NiƱo has been kind to us.
The past few days the highs have been in the 60s and 70s. We have taken full advantage and spent an average of 3-4 hours outside each of these days. The kids are happy to be outside, we're happy to be outside, the entire neighborhood is happy to be outside. The daffodils, crocus, tulips (my favorite!) and hyacinths we planted in the fall are starting to sprout, singing birds greet you when you step outside and there is such a feeling of life, renewal and freshness everywhere. The big haze of winter is starting to lift and the promise of long days, bare feet and playing the sprinkler feels so close.
We have been so caught up in just enjoying the warmth and sunshine that I've barely taken any pictures. It was rainy yesterday so the majority of the day was spent inside, but who really cares that it was raining since it wasn't snowing? Not me. Jon has reminded me a few times that it will probably be a summer of record-setting heat, but that's far enough away that I brush the idea aside as I bask in the spring sunshine. Even though the 10-day forecast only shows the high falling below 50 (and it's 48, so it will be just fine) I find myself holding my breath that we won't get one of our notorious April snowstorms. In the meantime, if you need me, I'm probably outside.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

girl clothing favorites

...because I knew you just couldn't wait for a sequel after reading yesterday's post.
1. Target Sandals: At this age, we prefer these types of sandals over the Croc-like types because they offer Edith more traction when wet and they do a really good job of staying on her feet while letting those little toes breathe. | 2. H&M Tees: Super soft, lightweight and durable. Couldn't love these more. | 3. Fleece Leggings: These are perfect for Ohio winters. My mom bought Edith her first pair of fleece leggings and I've already snatched a few up on deep clearance for next season.  | 4. Shorts: Love these for the same reasons we love Elden's shorts. | 5. Zara Drawstring Trousers: I got these bad boys for $5.99 during their annual clearance sale and they are so warm and soft. Will definitely stock up the next time they go on clearance. | 6. H&M Joggers: Lightweight for spring and fall and allow free movement. Definitely recommend.  | 7. Tanks: Love these for summer and they are so affordable! | 8. 3-in-1 Children's Place Coat: I cannot sing the praises of this coat enough. When combined, it's more than sufficient for an Ohio winter. The shell is perfect for spring and fall and so is the fleece portion of it. We bought two of these--one in 2T and one in 3T--for the next few winters. | 9. Romper: I admittedly haven't bought any of these yet... but they are just so cute that I know it's a matter of time (and that I will likely love it).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

boy clothing favorites

Yesterday a friend asked me where I buy most of Elden's clothes from and I quickly realized that we've found a few 'favorites' and have really stuck with those most of his life--just buying the next size up as he grows. Here are what we've found we love over the past 3.5 years:
1. Gap PJ's: I should note that we typically only buy Gap PJ's when we can find them on super clearance ($6 or less) at the store. We hit the jackpot this past season and got Elden the cutest robot and dinosaur ones, but he has since outgrown them and we haven't gotten so lucky in stores since. | 2. H&M Loose Jeans: WE LOVE THESE. Seriously, Elden has been wearing this style since he was 1 and every time he outgrows them we size up (and save his old ones for Edith). We love these because they are loose enough that he can freely play in them but they are nicer than sweats. Hands down, this is my top recommendation... especially for only $10. | 3. Power Rangers Underwear: Given his obsession with PR, this was a no-brainer. He told us he prefers the underwear "without legs" (he also has some Spiderman briefs) so when he outgrew his Minion underwear I picked these up from Target. | 4. H&M Shirt: We love H&M shirts because they are crazy soft. I will admit that I typically buy the kids' clothes a few seasons away so I can get them on deep discount and stash them for the right time. | 5. Target Sneakers: We have bought a variety of Velcro or slip-on shoes for Elden and these ones take the cake. They have been hands down the easiest for us and Elden to put on, so we will likely stick with this type until he can tie his own shoes. | 6. H&M Sweats: Again, we can't get enough H&M - they are seriously soft and when we go through the kids' clothes as they outgrow them we are sure to hang onto these for subsequent babes. | 7. Soft Shorts: During the warmer months, Elden usually sleeps in shorts and a t-shirt, not to mention the fact that he basically goes through 2-3 pairs of shorts during the day thanks to dirt and sweat. I've always preferred the shorter shorts because they aren't as warm, and as he gets older shorter shorts have become increasingly difficult to find. For the price, we usually stock up on these bad boys. | 8. H&M Socks: We LOVE H&M socks. They grow really well with Elden and are decent quality. The other type of socks we swear by we actually found on special buy at Aldi recently - they were ankle socks that were so soft and perfect we actually went back and bought more for Elden, as well as some for Edith. So if you ever see those at Aldi - snag 'em up. I think they were about $4 or $5 for 7 pairs. | 9. Crocs: I'm not sure whether I've mentioned it, but I am CHEAP. So I will only ever buy the kids name-brand Crocs if I can get them on steep discount. I did get him this pair a few months back for this summer for I think $12. He basically lives in sandals like these during the summer because he hates when his feet get sweaty. An added bonus? He can slide these on himself!

Friday, March 4, 2016

five on friday

{1} Verses: because my anxiety has been more present lately and I have a friend who encouraged me to find something significant in my Bible to focus on. These two spoke to me and have become my mantra this past week.

{2} Selfies: every morning for the majority of the week, Jon has texted me selfies Elden has taken on his phone. They're mostly blurry and of the top of his head, but each one has some sort of prop (usually a mask) that makes me smile.

 {3} Snow: it barely snowed in Ohio this winter--seriously, it's been crazy--but when it has, it's been the gorgeous snow that sticks to the branches and makes you feel like you're in the middle of Narnia. I'll take it!

{source}
{4} Easter Minis: we are taking the kids for some Easter mini photos tomorrow with this setup! I can't wait--there is going to be a live bunny--but I have my doubts that our children will cooperate.

{5} Ohio primary ballot: because I see who the GOP front-runner is and I. am. terrified.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

my name isn't daniel.

"Dear Daniel" - or, my personal favorite when I answer the phone, "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm looking for Daniel?"

You'd probably be surprised by how many times I've been contacted in response to a work-related email I send (where my name--my actual feminine name--is in the signature line) by a man looking for the Daniel that initially contacted him.

Except I am not a man. Sure, I love science. I also happen to be an engineer. Who would've thought a female could possibly be an engineer? (Not Trump, that's for sure.)

Most of the time it is an honest, albeit careless--my name is RIGHT THERE--mistake. It's no fault of the person contacting me. But it is certainly indicative of a much larger problem in the United States, where only approximately 18-20% of engineering undergraduates are female.

And don't even get me started on the sexism for those of us already within the field. Don't believe me? Just do a Google image search for 'female engineer meme.' Take in what you see. Then do your best to find a female engineer and ask her about her experiences. And just listen.

Do you know how many times I've said something to my male colleagues that fell on deaf ears, only for a male counterpart to suggest the same damn idea and receive praises a week later?

Do you know the way I was lectured because I had a young child who was sick and his dad had an exam at school that he couldn't miss, so I had to leave work to tend to him? Even though I had male colleagues who came in late all the freaking time and never once got reprimanded?

Did I mention that I had to take my entire maternity leave with Elden completely unpaid? And with Jon on a part-time Men's Wearhouse salary that meant I had to make sure I was back at work 6 weeks after the delivery of my son, despite the fact that I still felt like I had been hit by a truck?

Do you know how many times I've been told to "calm down"* when I started to raise my voice simply because I was excited about an idea or frustrated with a situation even though I've had peers get physically angry (throwing or slamming things) and management looked the other way?

You know what the worst part is? My experiences aren't the worst parts. I have female friends who are also in the engineering field who have shared stories of sexual harassment aimed at them (I've luckily never been on the receiving end of this, although I have been subjected to an upper level male manager at a former company of mine discussing the 'awesome rack' on a different company's sales manager on more than one occasion), and even worse, sexual assault by a male colleague. When women campaign for equality in the workplace, they aren't just talking about equal pay. They are talking about being taken as seriously as male colleagues, not being subjected to harassment and assault, and not being passed over for major promotions because they have a vagina and possibly a kid (or the potential to want a kid one day).

I've joked before that I'm a shoe in to any job I apply to because I'm a woman, and I really wish I hadn't. This 'joke' is a disservice to not only women, but to myself. It minimizes the work I've put in to get to where I am. It overlooks the fact that I managed to work full-time my entire undergraduate and graduate careers while pulling off a pretty respectable GPA. It minimizes the fact that I find a way to balance work with rearing two young children all the while not taking for granted all the stuff my husband has to sacrifice in order for me to continue to work (because daycare ain't cheap). This joke downplays the fact that I probably care more than the majority of my male counterparts, I offer an entirely unique perspective that they simply cannot have, and I have an uncanny ability to multitask since I already have to wear several hats in my daily life. And don't even get me started on the actual intelligence aspect. I am smart. I am well spoken. I communicate quite well. I am personable. And I actually give a crap about the customers I serve. So no, my name is not Daniel. My name is Danielle and despite what you may initially believe, you are in good hands if you are working with me.

*Pro tip: the #1 way to make sure I do the exact opposite of calm down is to instruct me to calm down.