Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Defining Moments

I couldn't have been more than 5. We were still going to Erial Community Church and I was in my Children's Church classroom. My class was playing Doggie Doggie Where's Your Bone. I had been chosen to be the bone stealer, which among the preschool set is pretty presitgious. Because the stealer not only gets to take the doggie's bone for that round, but also gets to be the doggie in the following round. Pretty exciting stuff.

So I did my best sneaking, stole the doggie's bone and waited as he guessed who the perpetrator might be. And then I walked up to the "dog house" for my turn.

But the seat of the dog house was wet. As were the pants of the last "doggie".

"Did you have an accident?" the teacher asked sympathetically.

"No" replied the doggie, "It was wet when I sat down."

Now, I may have been young enough to still display my age as "this many" with only one hand, but I knew something wasn't right there. After all the dress of the doggie who had preceded him was dry. And how could the dog house possibly have gotten wet in between her getting up and him sitting down?

"Liar!" I thought. "You better come clean or I'm going to have to sit in that!" I'm not sure why I figured they'd make me sit in the puddle if he didn't admit his little oopsy, but I was pretty scared.

Then he started crying, which is almost like admitting guilt. The chair was switched out for another untainted one and the game went on.

But 20 plus years later the memory still haunts me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It Just Ain't Right, Man

Sometimes when I sign onto Facebook, I feel like I'm being stalked. Somehow the the little minions behind the advertising on that site know all my deepest hopes and fears. How do I know this? Because every time I sign on the ads read, "Are You a Mom?" No, and it's a rather painful subject, so thanks for asking "Want FREE Baby Stuff?" Well I'd like to have a need for free baby stuff. "Meet Other Moms in Atlanta" Thanks, but you might be using the word other incorrectly. And then there's the ultrasound tech one and the Picabo one that don't taunt me with their words, but with pictures of babies instead.

Most of the time, these just make me laugh at their irony. But there's one that ticks me off. Maybe you've seen it. It's an ad for a book that promises to show women one simple trick to get pregnant quick. Obviously, it's a scam. It doesn't take a Mensa member to figure out that if my doctors - experts in the field of reproductive science - can't get us pregnant, some author with no medical training has nothing of substance to offer. From the beginning of time women have struggled to get pregnant, and if there was one simple way to make it happen, we'd know it by now. But it's painfully tempting. I want to believe this woman really has a magic cure all.

A few months ago, there was a thread on the infertility forum I visit from time to time in which someone mentioned that book (or one similar). Every other girl who commented said the same thing, "Don't buy it, it's a scam." But I totally felt for the original poster. She saw something that promised hope in an otherwise hopeless situation and she desperately wanted to believe it was real.

I hate that there are people in this world willing to profit off other's emotional pain. I'm certain the writers and sellers of that book know they don't hold a magic secret trick to getting pregnant. But they also know that there are women just desperate enough to buy it.

The whole experience of infertility is so hopeless and confusing that it's easier than it should be to take advantage. It's done in fertility clinics, too. During IVF treatments, doctors convince women that their only hope of having a child is to implant 5 or 6 embryos. And so, the couple agrees. Only to then be told by the same doctor that their only hope of having a live birth is to "selectively reduce" the number of babies growing in that woman's womb. In the end, the couple has their child and the clinic has an even greater success rate. So the end justifies the means, right? Or not.

I'm not saying all clinics work this way. In fact, I think most probably do have good intentions and high ethical standards. I'm just saying I've read enough and heard enough in my own journey to know this happens. And I've experienced the feelings of desperation, of wanting to do absolutely anything to get pregnant to understand WHY it happens.

And sadly, working in adoptions, I know it happens there, too. I'm sad to say that I've seen couples taken advantage of. There are "companies" who do horribly unethical things to make a buck. Birthmoms allow a couple to pay for their medical bills and their living expenses throughout their pregnancy only to change their minds and walk away from the adoption. Leaving the potential adoptive parents with empty arms and an empty wallet. And yes, I know, oftentimes a birthmom has the absolute best of intentions when making an adoption plan for their child, and the best of intentions when they then decide to parent. I also know that there are women whose intentions are nothing close to honorable, who plan from the beginning to use prospective adoptive parents for their own gain.

I really think that in most cases, fertility clinics and adoption agencies are ethical and truly care about the people they are serving. And in most cases, women who choose adoption for their child are truly seeking the best life for that child.

But there are times when a couple who has gone through years of infertility, who have seen their hopes dashed time and again, are taken advantage of. There are people who see their hurt and their longing for a child as an opportunity for personal gain. And that breaks my heart.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


For the first time since moving to Georgia, I've been feeling really, truly lonely. I've felt homesick before, but never really lonely. In fact, Georgia feels more like home now than it ever has before, and yet I'm more lonely than I've ever been, too. Go figure.

I think it's a combination of things. I haven't been home in a really long time. And though of course wherever Jamie is, is home to me, there's just something about the house that I grew up in that will always make it home too. There's a part of me there with the people I love in the place I spent my childhood that needs to be revisited from time to time. And it's been too long. And I think that makes me feel lonely.

I also think it has something to do with the journey of making friends in Georgia, which has not been all that easy. I know a lot of people here and would call many of them friends. But time and again I've found those relationships stall out at the somewhat casual friendship level. And I'm really longing for a Georgia "family". The type of friends who know me deeply, who I can talk to about anything. I really would love to have a tightknit group of girlfriends here and that's been tough to come by. I need a Georgia Kristy and a Georgia Britt. Maybe I'll ask Santa for that this year.

My little friend infertility has something to do with it, too. There's just something really isolating about feeling very different from every other girl I know. I told Jamie recently, "It's like there's this secret club of women that I'm not invited to join but everyone else is." It's worse than being voted out of the 5th grade clique, and that was pretty bad (although I was voted out for defending another girl when they tried to vote her out, so at least I had my integrity to keep me company).

I hate being whiny and woe-is-me (like Eeyore, the world's most annoying donkey; But that's another rant for another day). And truth be told, I'm not miserable or unhappy. Just a little bit lonely. And I thought maybe I'd feel better if I wrote about it. Thanks for letting me vent :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


As usual, we had a great time at the ranch for Thanksgiving. I love going down there because while we get to spend lots of time with Jamie's family, they're also busy a lot giving us time to hang out as a couple. It's always very relaxing.

Highlights from this week:
Seeing the manatees!! Jamie had taken me to Blue Springs this summer to see manatees, but we didn't think to check if they were there year round before we went. And they're not. Apparently, Blue Springs is only their winter home. So we tried again last week and we saw a whole bunch of them! I gotta be honest - I was totally excited to finally see real live manatees in the wild but um those things are dull. They're cool and all but one of the dozen or so we saw actually moved. In my next life, I'm going to be a manatee.

Watching a few dozen little kids learn to dance in Downtown Disney. HILARIOUS! First of all, the guy on stage was like 40 and a little on the heavy side. Watching him get down to the Hoedown Throwdown was pretty funny. But the kids...OH MY GOODNESS were they hilarious! I wish I had my camera with me, but I didn't. You're just gonna have to trust me on this one.

Shopping at the Nike outlet. I got a Florida State t-shirt for $10 and two other t-shirts and two pairs of shorts for $7 each. I was in need of some t-shirts without holes in the armpits (how do I do that to every single shirt?) and some shorts that hadn't previously belonged to Jamie. I was pretty excited to get some nice Nike ones for such a great price!

Seeing Britt and the rest of the Gragg clan. 2 cute kids and my dear old college roomie. It was wonderful :)

Celebrating my birthday TWICE - once with just Jamie and once with the whole Hotalen gang. The restaurant Jamie and I went to sorta forgot to put our order in so we waited a good 45 minutes for our meal and then got it for free. It was great! And my in-laws got me a beautiful scarf and sweater. And Aron and Julie got me a Florida State shirt (bringing my total to THREE, baby!) Yay for presents :)

Eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Eating leftovers.

I love good food. And I love our families. And now I CAN'T WAIT to get up to New Jersey for Christmas!

P.S. Check out the new photo albums I added over there ------>

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bucket List

When Jamie and I first got married, I joined a site for newlyweds and quickly realized the women on there were not really type. So I stopped visiting it and now I don't even remember my login name and password. I do, however, still get their online newsletter on a regular basis. Included in each newsletter is a list of recent forum topics. Yesterday I was checking through the newsletters I hadn't read yet and came upon a forum topic titled, "What's on Your Baby Bucket List?". If you're unfamiliar with the term, a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die and a baby bucket list is a list of things you want to do before having kids. I was intrigued, so I clicked the link to read what other women had on their list. I wanted to know how other women are using the time they have as a twosome.

You would not believe how ambitious these ladies are!

"Travel to all 7 continents"
"Spend a year living abroad"
"Volunteer with the Peace Corps"
"Have our house, school loans and cars completely paid off"

I could see this was not going to be very helpful. Jamie and I will not - I guarantee you - visit all 7 continents before having kids and very likely won't accomplish anything so ambitious in our lifetime! And live abroad? I miss my mommy living a few hundred miles from her! And unless a wealthy uncle we don't know about leaves us a large sum of money, our school loans and house will not be paid off for quite a while. If we waited for that, we'd be having kids at 45.

So I started thinking about what realistic goals I could put on my own "Before Babies" list and came up with one. Just one.

To have my house clean, really clean, and organized just once before I have little humans to clean up after.


P.S. Shannon redid her blog and it's so cute! She's combining all her information from her adoption blog and her everyday blog into one. Be sure to check it out

Friday, November 19, 2010

Not Diggin' the Whole Birthday Thing

When I first wrote about infertility, I said it effects everything and that's so true. Nearly every aspect of life is touched by the pain that is infertility.

For example, turning 27.

I've never made a huge deal about birthdays but I've also never understood why some people dread and hate them. What's the big deal in turning another year older? But this year has been a little harder than most. Because never in a million years would I have imagined getting to 27 without being a mom.

When I was a little kid, I thought I would get married when I was 19, 20 tops. I'd have my first baby when I was 21 or 22 and by 27 I'd probably have a whole passel of little monsters and be spending my days at Mommy N Me music class.

Life sorta worked out differently.

And I was fine with getting married older than I thought I would because I realized that at 19, I was not ready (and plus I hadn't met my wonderful hubby yet). And now 8 years later I can look back at 19-year-old me and think THANK GOODNESS I didn't get married that young!

But I've had a harder time dealing with motherhood being slow in coming.

To be honest, this has not been a terrible day. I got to go out to lunch with a coworker, have a nice long conversation with my favorite little sister and my mom, and my husband came home from work and told me I shouldn't have to clean on my birthday and took over my chore list for me. I haven't been sad and bummy all day or anything.

But I have shed tears today. I cried last night just thinking about the reality of being so far from where I thought I'd be. I cried for the loss of my dreams for my life. My life is forever changed by this. I may still be a stay-at-home mom of a whole passel of little monsters like I planned, but it's going to look different than I expected. Maybe we'll adopt, or maybe we'll be able to have kids eventually. I have a feeling it will be mixture of both. And that's not a bad thing and I'm sure I will love parenthood when and how it comes. But still I had plans and dreams and they have had to change.

I don't want to mislead you and make you think I'm miserable, because I'm not. I'm just saying my next birthday will be a lot happier if there's a little one here by the time 28 rolls around.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Are You Telling People?

Recently a friend called me with a question. Another mutual friend had heard about my surgery and asked her what was going on with us. My friend wanted to know what to say. "Are you telling people?"

I told her yes, we are. I've been pretty open to anyone who asks what's going on with us. And to anyone who asks if we're having kids soon, I usually say, "We want to, but we haven't been able to so far." If they ask for more detail, I give it to them.

I struggle with this sometimes. Some days I just do NOT want to talk about it. My best friend in the whole world asked me how it was going today and I told her I didn't want to talk about it. Not today. Not even with her. I just wasn't in the mood.

Other times I hate sharing our story because of how people respond. Sympathy is ok, encouragement is appreciated, but I hate being pitied. I have a fear that people will feel sorry for us if we decide to adopt. Like too bad we couldn't have a "real" kid. I don't want to be pitied and I definitely don't want to be treated differently - not invited to baby showers or told of friend's pregnancies until absolutely necessary. And sometimes I get some totally unwanted advice ("Stop trying and relax and it'll happen!")

For those reasons sometimes I'm tempted to keep my mouth shut. But I don't. Here's why:

#1 It is our story, like it or not. This is a part of who we are as a couple and it will affect us for better or worse. No matter what happens. I don't know the reasons yet that we have had to walk this road, but we have. And I see no reason to keep that a secret.

#2 People say dumb things. That's a fact of life, and I've been just as guilty of it as anyone. And people saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can really hurt. If someone who doesn't know about our infertility issues asks when we're gonna start trying, or worse warns us that we should start soon because we're not getting any younger! (yep, it's happened despite the fact that we're 26) I can't be upset. They can't know what they haven't been told. It is painful to have someone try to convince you to have a baby when you absolutely would if you could! Some women don't talk about their infertility because it's too painful. I share for self preservation. If people know, they'll be more sensitive.

#3 I covet others prayers on our behalf. There isn't a whole lot anyone can do to help us in this situation (unless one of you have an unclaimed baby laying around. Anyone?) But most of our friends and family can and do pray for us. I don't know that prayers will lead to us conceiving, but it certainly doesn't hurt! And it's so good to know people are lifting you up.

#4 I never know who my story might help. One of the things that has helped me stay sane during this time is the other women I know who have been here. Some of them don't even know how they have helped me. I look at women who went through years of infertility and now have a family and I realize I'll be there some day. I look at other women who are at the same place as me, still trying to start their family and I know I'm not alone. I spend my days at an adoption agency and I know many of our clients are adopting after years of trying to have a biological child. And I realize the joy they feel when they get their referral, or bring home their newborn will be our joy some day. People don't know how they've encouraged me just by allowing me a glimpse of their lives. And I hope that in sharing what we're going through I can encourage someone else.

Some women choose not to talk about their infertility and I totally get that. It can be hard to talk about. People don't always respond the way you'd hoped. But for me, I feel like I need to. Some days I wish this were not our story but it is. And I'm going to share it, so bring on the unwanted advice!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Post Surgery Update

I had my surgery as scheduled on November 1st which is kind of a miracle in itself because after rescheduling twice I was starting to think maybe it wouldn't happen.

People keep asking how it went and I'm a little unsure how to answer that. The purpose of the surgery was to help us get pregnant. And, well, I'm not yet. So I guess I'll have to let you know exactly how it went some time in the future. (side story, the anesthetist was looking through my chart right before taking me back to the OR and he wondered aloud, "Did they do a pregnancy test? Oh yeah, here it is." Then he turned to me and said, "I just have to check because it would change what medications I can give you." Yeah, Mr. Doctor it would kinda change a whole lot more than that!)

But as far as how it went for me physically, it kinda hurt. Which should be no surprise to anyone who understands the meaning of the word "surgery". But I was totally thinking it would be no big thing. I mean it was only 3 little tiny incisions and no organs were being removed or anything. My surgery was Monday afternoon and Joel was flying in on Wednesday evening for a friend's wedding. I completely thought I'd be able to pick him up at the airport. I told my boss I'd probably be back to work on Thursday or Friday. In reality, I was out of work all week and pretty darn proud of myself for showering and putting on clean sweat pants Wednesday evening so I could go with Jamie to the airport. So yeah it was a little more painful than anticipated.

But I'm good now. I'm about 95% healed and that's only because I still have 3 teeny tiny spots on my tummy that haven't totally healed. In a few days they'll be gone and I'll be all good.

As far as how it went from a diagnostic view, my doctor tells me I have stage 4 severe endometriosis. Which is one of the weirdest most unexplainable diseases ever. I get the basic premise - endometrial tissue grows in the wrong place in the body - but I totally don't get the other issues it causes and why. For me it me means painful cramps but really not much else (other women experience all kinds of other symptoms). My doctor was able to remove a little more than half of the scar tissue that she found, which improves our chances very slightly. She's certainly not promising us we'll conceive now. For us, it means we have less than a 5% chance of getting pregnant each month (compared to a healthy couple's 20%).

We're still playing with what to do with this new information. For now we're doing nothing drastic - no more infertility treatments and we're not applying to adopt yet. Although we're really eager to have a family, we don't feel like we need to rush. My doctor says we have 4-6 years before our chances of conceiving through IVF start to decline, so we can do that at any point. But we're not sure we want to. And of course my job at the adoption agency makes adoption a very obvious option. We'll wait and see for a while if the surgery yields any immediate results and then decide what's next if we don't get pregnant.

We'll see. And I'll be sure to share with you what we decide when we decide it. Thanks for all the thoughts, prayers, cards, emails, etc. that you sent my way last week!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Road Trip!

Before I was married, I didn't mind long drives, because I could turn up the radio and just chill and sing. I didn't hate travelling, but I didn't love it either.

Now that I'm married, I love taking road trips with Jamie. The radio stays off for most of the ride and we talk about everything under the sun. We'll talk about our opinions on controversial topics, or our plans and hopes for our future. Sometimes just for fun we'll pick opposing sides of a debate and have it out (I always win). Like a lot of guys, Jamie is not the type to come home from work and tell me all the details about his day, but in the car, I'll get caught up on what's been going on in the office lately. Sometimes we just chat about nothing important. But no matter what we're talking about, it's always a good bonding time. I find myself looking forward to our many trips to Toccoa. It takes about an hour to get there, which is the perfect amount of time to get a good chat in. Driving to Tallahassee this weekend was great. Five hours of chit-chat.

Jamie is also fun to travel with because he's spontaneous. For example, Sunday on the way home, we stopped at JL's Barbeque (the sign said #1 in Georgia, so we had to try it! And it was pretty tasty!), the Georgia State Fair (though we decided the wait was too long to get in) and the Salt Lick Sausage Company where we got some pretty darn good fresh jerky. I just love travelling with a guy who sees a sign saying, "Meat me down at the Salt-Lick Sausage Co.!" and decides we HAVE to stop there!

Of course, I still look forward to the days that our conversations are frequently interrupted by little ones needing attention!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Surgery Update

I finally have a solid, not-gonna-change-again date for my surgery. I will be getting it done for sure on November 1st. We had a difficult time trying to get it scheduled and had to change it twice. But now it's for sure. I'm so glad it will be done soon!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In the Meantime...

I'm generally pretty at peace about our infertility and I'm pretty confident that some way, some how I will be a mom. And though I have my days in which I want to trip the pregnant women who pass me by in the mall (not that I would), I've really learned to accept this for what it is - just a bump in the road. A bump, it's worth mentioning, that has provided me with a whole lot of time to just be a wife. And the more I hang out with that guy I married, the more I like him.

But the waiting is HARD some times. Some days I see my friends with their kids, or strangers pushing a stroller and I think, When is it going to be our turn?

One of the ways I've found to deal with the frustration of waiting is to keep a notebook of parenting ideas. That way when I hear something cool, instead of thinking, I hope I remember that years from now! I get excited about going home and writing it down. My notebook is broken into months with several pages for each month. In it I've written cool ideas for holiday traditions and seasonal traditions. The back section is not labeled with a month and is a place for me to write down fun things that have no specific date. Included in this section is a list I titled, "Books to Read Together".

I love to read, and when I was a kid I LOVED to read, so I have a lot of favorite children's books. Here's my list so far:

1. Maniac Magee
2. Anne of Green Gables
3. Little House on the Prairie (and the whole Little House series)
4. The Boxcar Children series
5. A Little Princess
6. The Secret Garden
7. Harriet the Spy
8. James and the Giant Peach (random fact you didn't know before - Jamie, when he was just an adorable little 5th grader starred in his schools production of James and the Giant Peach as James himself.)
9. The Chronicles of Narnia series
10.Number the Stars
11.Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
12.Little Women

It's a short list right now and I know I'll think of others long before my children reach the appropriate ages for these books. Also you may have noticed they're all chapter books. I'm sure we will read LOTS of great picture books when they're little (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day anyone??) and my goal is to have a pretty substantial library for my kiddos. But the books on my list are more for when they're a little older and we're reading something "meatier".

What books do you think I'm missing? Any greats from your childhood you think I should add? You may notice, since I am a girl and these are my favorite books there are only a few that aren't very girly. Anyone have any less frilly books for our future boys?

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Heart Fall

I really do. Heart fall, that is. I love football and cooler weather and changing leaves. I love going to homecoming at TFC and spending the weekend with the many Hotalen alumni. I love pumpkin flavored anything. Muffins, coffee (oh the coffee! It's glorious!), donuts, bread, pie (oddly though pumpkin itself is actually kinda gross). I love not going back to school so I can just soak in the wonderfulness of fall without any added work. But I look forward to having kids so I can soak up the back to school fun. New pencils. And backpacks. And notebooks. I love me a good notebook, blank and unmarred. I love pulling my sweaters back out. And forgetting for the next several months that the air conditioning in my car is dying.

I love all things falls. And now living in the south I don't dread winter as much. So that's a perk.

There are so many, many reasons I'm glad this season is finally here!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Surgery Update

Jamie and I decided I would go ahead with the procedures our doctor recommended. We're hoping it will help us to conceive, of course. But there is still a good chance we won't be able to get pregnant. I'm ok with that and because the procedures have other potential benefits we decided it was worth it.

Originally I was hoping to have it done this month, but my doctor only operates on Mondays, and I would have to have it done on the 20th. Since I will be flying to Chicago (YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!) for a weekend with my mom and sisters on the 23rd, I decided that would be cutting it a little close. Most of my friends and relatives who've had laparascopies say they recovered in 48 hours or less. But on the off chance that I'm feeling bad for a week afterwards I don't want it to ruin my trip.

So we're looking at October, probably the 18th but possibly as early as the 11th or as late as the 25th. Can't wait to pig out on some ice cream :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ten for the Tenth

Ten things that crack me up about Kona:

1. He tears out the back door every time we let him out in hopes of catching a bunny in the backyard. He's only been successful once (RIP, little bunny...)

2. He loves to ride in the car pretty much anywhere, but gets beside himself excited over a trip to the bank drive through. He's gotten a treat there like twice, but he has NEVER forgotten!

3. When we leave him out of his crate he sleeps on our couch (which is why we don't leave him out anymore). But when he hears us pull into the driveway, he runs into his crate before we come inside. Then he comes out stretching and yawning like we just woke him up from a long nap in his crate like maybe we won't know where he was even though there's still a warm, furry spot on our couch. Good try though.

4. He likes to sleep on his back with all 4 legs up in the air. If one leg starts to fall, he jerks awake, sticks it back up and falls back asleep.

5. He also likes to lay on his tummy with his back legs stuck straight out behind him. This makes him look ridiculously long.

6. He can't get any traction on our wood floors. It's too much fun to throw a ball in there for him to chase and watch him slip and slide like Bambi on the frozen pond and then crash into the back wall.

7. He never ever growls at anything ever. Except his basketball. Pull that out and he goes NUTS growling and snarling! He sounds so mean and vicious attacking that thing! You'd never guess he's just playing.

8. He's obsessed with toilet paper. Anytime I go into the bathroom, he follows me and stares at the roll hoping I will tear off a square for him to eat. He gets especially excited when we use up a roll and let him eat the tube.

9. His total over-the-top exuberance at meeting anyone new. You when the dog on UP says, "I have just met you and I love you." That is totally Kona.

10. His under bite. For real, you have to see it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

August at a Glance

We finally made it to Savannah!! I've been wanting to visit this city since I moved to Georgia, and the wedding of a Hotalen family friend finally gave us an excuse to go. It was a short weekend, but I loved it and can't wait to go back!

We hung out on the beach at Tybee Island before the rehearsal dinner.

Saturday morning we took a trolley tour of historic Savannah with the wedding party and guests.

Forrest Gump even jumped on our trolley for a little bit and pointed to the bench where, as he said, "Tom Hanks portrayed me in that movie."

The wedding ceremony was in a chapel on the campus of a children's ranch. It was freakin' adorable.

Good times. Good company. I can't wait to go back sometime.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


**Disclaimer: today's post includes a medical discussion of our infertility issues. Words such as "endometrium" and "uterine" are included in the text below. Proceed with caution. Especially if you belong to the male species. You may choose to skip this post today and instead proceed to this exceedingly long continuation of our boy-meets-girl saga.**

Well Friday was D-Day. D for diagnosis. The day I went back to our IF specialist (technically called a reproductive endocrinologst or RE) to find out the results of the tests we've had done over the past two weeks. And hopefully to find out why we aren't getting pregnant and what we can do to change that.

Here's what we learned: the problems are all on my end, which is good because about a third of infertile couples are dealing with both female and male infertility issues. But they are a less than cut and dry. There's definitely something up with my uterine lining that's making it too thick. It could be a cyst, a polyp or a number of other things. And there is a 70-80% chance that I have endometriosis. Both of these things are treatable; the lining issue with a very minor surgical procedure and the endometriosis with a slightly more invasive but still relatively minor procedure. I also have polycystic ovaries, but NOT polycystic ovary syndrome (where a host of hormone issues are added to the polycystic ovaries; all my hormone levels are good). That's the good news.

The bad news is there's really no way to know if any of those things or a combination of them are what is causing our infertility or if treating them will cure it. My doctor quoted one study in which women with endometriosis were twice as likely to get pregnant after treatment. But the actual numbers went from 3-4% without treatment to about 6% after treatment. So, as she put it, "really low to still pretty low." It's kind of a crapshoot.

Basically, we have some options and some reason to hope there is still pregnancy in our future, but no promises.

No medical promises anyway. Friday was a little bit emotional, but I wasn't too discouraged. I know there is a plan for us and this is just one more step on the journey we're taking. And I know I'm going to be a mom at some point. How and when is the mystery.

So how do I feel after all that medical stuff? I'm not sure. Still hopeful, still peaceful and still believing there is something great for us down the road. But I HATE making decisions like this! I mean, I'd rather NOT go through surgery, but I'd really like to increase our chances of getting pregnant. I'd rather NOT deal with the short-term discomfort but it'll be totally worth it for the result if it works. I'd rather NOT pay for all this stuff if it's not going to be successful! We could use that money for our adoption if we choose to build our family that way.

These are the life decisions that are so difficult. I mean, sometimes when you consider God's plan for your life and wonder what He'd have you do, it's pretty obvious (Should I or should I not become a prostitute? for example or Should Jamie become a drug dealer to supplement our income?). But there's no right or wrong here. I fully believe whatever we decide is ok with my Heavenly Father and He'll still be in control either way. I don't believe God sits up in Heaven waiting for us to make the wrong choice so He can strike us down. But still I wish there was a way just to know for sure the best, least painful choice!

Of course, if we do decide to go the surgical route I'll get a whole week of being waited on by my husband (the RE said a 5-7 day recovery, and I will be taking 7 thank you very much). And hopefully as much ice cream as I can eat. Nothing can be all bad if it involves ice cream...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My New Toy!

I'm not exactly all up on the latest technological gadgets (if you need proof, the last time I wrote about getting an exciting new toy it was a Swiffer Wet Jet). I still cannot, for the life of me, figure out what an iPad is for. Except of course making Steve Jobs richer.

But you don't need to be cool and technologically savvy if you've got a super hip brother-in-law!!

Last weekend when Shane passed through Buford on his way up to Toccoa he brought me an iPod Touch!

Isn't it pretty?? Not actually mine; I got this picture off a website. But mine looks like this one.

He bought himself a new Macbook for college and got the iPod as a free gift. But since he's way cooler than us, he already has an iPhone, so the iPod was pretty superfluous. And actually strictly speaking it's for me AND Jamie, but really it's mine and I don't let Jamie play with it. I feel sooo cool! It's a lot like the iPhone, minus the phone calls part. I can get on Facebook and check my email on it. I can even text on it. After Shane shows me how...And when I'm with a group of people and we're trying to schedule something, I can pull out my sweet looking iPod instead of my archaic date book (no offense, date book. I still love you). If everyone else I know didn't already have an iPhone, they'd be so jealous!

Now all I need to do is fill it with music and apps. So if you've got any can't-live-without apps on your own nifty Apple products, let me know!

P.S. When I spell checked this, spell checker didn't recognize the words "iPod", iPhone", "Macbook" or "Facebook". So I am most definitely cooler than Blogger apparently.

Friday, August 13, 2010


The second shot-through-the-heart comment came from a friend (which, wow talk about your divine appointments. In the future, I'll have to share exactly how me and this friend ended up spending 3 1/2 hours talking over lunch at PF Chang's this week).

At some point during that over 3 hour conversation she was sharing some of her struggles and said it took her a long time to come to grips with the fact that God was allowing this because He loves her. Not that He loves her in spite of her difficult situation. Not just that life is hard but God is still loving. But that it was because of God's love for her that He was allowing the hurt.

That messed with me.

I hadn't quite thought about it that way. I'd tried really hard on days that I was really hurting to convince myself that God was still good, still loved me, still wanted what was best for me. But it was a tough sell.

And it had never even crossed my mind that maybe God was allowing this BECAUSE He loves me. Maybe this - the pain and the disappointment and the frustration - were actually the best thing for me. Maybe God in His infinite wisdom knows the end result of all this and knows that I can't get where I'm going unless I walk through this now.

I have no idea how this story will unfold. Maybe Jamie and I will have our own biological babies or maybe we'll adopt. Maybe both. I could find out I'm pregnant tomorrow or I could never carry my own little ones.

But as I thought about what she said, I realized a day will come when I look at my family and can see how God put it all together. I know that whether my children are biological or adopted they'll be well worth the wait. But I don't want to wait until they're here in my arms to experience God's love for me in this valley. There are a lot of opportunities for me to grow right now - to learn to love my Savior even more, to trust Him when it's tough, to turn to Him in brokenness instead of lashing out in bitterness, to be faithful even when I don't know what tomorrow holds, to lay down my agenda for my life and open myself up to His. I know God knows my heartache and hurts for me, but He's letting me go through this for a reason, and I don't want to miss out on the hidden blessings.

And if I am faithful, if I accept this as an experience that challenges me to grow and become more loving, more faithful, more patient then when the time comes, I'll be an even better mom to my children. A mom who can teach them to love God and cling to Him when life hurts because I've been there.

Even though I hate the hurting part of it and the waiting and longing, I'm grateful for a God who loves me enough to let me be broken and to use my brokeness to make me more like Him. And I'm so so excited to see how this story unfolds.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prickly Pear Heart

Twice in two days someone said something to me that hit me so hard it almost knocked the breath outta me. That sounds like exaggeration. But it really isn't. Twice I went, "Whoa" not just with my mouth but with my heart. So now I have a cactus heart - conviction sticking it like a pin cushion. And so I feel I should do what every good Christian does with conviction - Blog about it. (Right?)

The first came on Sunday during church. Our church is doing a series called "Do Hard Things" based on the book by the same name (which, if what I've heard is to be believed, should be read by every person between the ages of 12 and 22 on this planet; so if you're between the ages of 12 and 22, buy it and if not, buy it for someone who is. At least, that's what I'm told. I haven't read it). Now, the whole concept of doing hard things was challenging. Especially when our pastor spoke about doing small hard things. I'll be honest, me and the little voice within who likes to say "But I don't WANT to!" are like BFFs. So being consistent in the little hard things like loving on my husband when he's being particularly unlovable (who Jamie?? NEVER!) is not a real hobby of mine. Maybe I should work on that.

But that's not what REALLY hit me. What REALLY hit me was this comment:

"When we set high expectations of God and low expectations of ourselves, we can play the victim."

Like, ouch, man. That is totally me. So. Totally. Me. Because, like our pastor said on Sunday, being the victim is easy. Being the victim means this is not MY fault, it's yours (or in this case His). If I'm the victim I can feel sorry for me and mad at you.

If I'm the victim, I don't have to change.

Yeah that hit me right in the gut. Maybe, just maybe it's time I stop feeling sorry for me and start expecting a little more from myself - a little more faithfulness, a little more trust, a little more discipline. A little more love, a little more sacrifice and less "But I don't WANT to".

What if - what if - I had high expectations of God and myself. What if I expected God to be and do exactly what He promises He will and yet don't let myself off the hook.

What if?

Maybe I'd see some of the blessings I'm blind to now. Maybe instead of feeling bitterness and anger toward God when things don't go my way, maybe I'd feel hope. Maybe instead of feeling anger toward God I'd feel comfort from Him. Maybe instead of pulling me away from Him, the crappy stuff that happens in life would send me running for His arms. Which is where I really want to be anyway. And where He wants me to be.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Reasons I'm Glad My Niece is Only Three

1. She won't care that her birthday present is well over a week late.

2. She won't care that her loser aunt only had baby boy wrapping paper and tissue paper to wrap her gift in.

3. She probably won't even notice the Priority Mail tape all over her gift.

4. She definitely won't notice that I couldn't find a card that said "Niece" on it.

5. I doubt she'll see her present and think, "Gee whiz, what'd she do wrap this in her car sitting in the Target parking lot??"

6. She'll totally forget about me forgetting to buy her a birthday gift so no permanent damage is expected.

Dear Lindsey,

Thanks for being 3 and too little to realize what a doofus I am.


The worst aunt ever.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lettin' It All Out

So I've been AWOL lately. I've been really bumming about our struggles to start a family, which I haven't blogged about before. But I feel like since only my family and friends read this blog - and really you all know to some extent what's going on so you don't just think I hate you when the bitterness comes out - I can let it all out. Maybe it'll help me process through it to write it all out.

I don't want to write about everything we've done medically. That part I've already processed. Over and over again. In my head, with Jamie, with my mom and sister and my almost-sister friends like Britt and Kristy. But I want to try to write about the emotional part of it and the spiritual part of it, how it effects just about every aspect of our lives in one way or another. Because, to simplify it down to just a couple words: it sucks. And believe me, I know many people have it worse and have gone through tougher things. Let's just get that out there at the beginning. This is not the worst thing anyone's ever experienced, not by a long shot. But it's where I am right now and it's tough. So maybe a little cathartic blogging will be beneficial.

There's something very isolating about infertility. Even if you know other women who have gone through it, somehow it still feels like you're the only one. It seems like every single girl I know is getting pregnant recently. I've had to seriously cut back on Facebook time because I found myself getting really depressed every time I signed on. My news feed was full of girl's announcing their pregnancies or giving updates, posting cute pictures of sonograms or their newborns. And it just hurt.

I do want to be really clear about one thing though: I am really really happy for my friends who are new parents and who are expecting. No I'm not just saying that. I am. It's sometimes hard to make people understand that I can hurt for me and be happy for someone else at the same time. I'm not jealous or angry at them and I don't begrudge them their joy. It's just a reminder of what I don't have and that can be painful.

Not only is it isolating because I feel like the only one who can't get pregnant, it's also easy to feel like no one understands what it's like. Which is true to some extent. No one else is me (duh) so no one else knows exactly what I'm feeling. And while I appreciate the kind words and the support we've gotten from friends and family, sometimes people just say the wrong thing (my favorite: "You just need to stop trying and it'll happen." Ummm ok. Thanks?). I don't fault them. My moods change and what I need changes and I don't expect everyone to know intuitively what I want them to say and do. Especially someone who has not experienced what I am. But as anyone who's ever gone through something painful knows, sometimes you just wish you had someone to understand you.

Loneliness was a serious issue, but some things have helped. One being online group I joined a while ago. It was something I'd though about, but I was afraid to do it. I didn't want to be in a mutual misery club. But a friend of Shannon's suggested one that is Christian-based and VERY encouraging. Of course there are a lot of girls venting about being down or dealing with some of the crummier aspects of infertility, but all the responses are encouragement and prayers and it's been good for me to be a part of that.

The other thing that has helped is a total God-thing. It's still kind of open-ended so I don't want to write too much. And it involves someone else whose story I don't want to tell without permission. But the short story is I randomly got back in touch with an old acquaintance who has been where I am. It's been a really encouraging friendship and I've been so grateful for it!

I'm not alone, and I know that. And I'm really grateful for my family and my friends. And my husband who has proven over and over these past few months that he is in fact awesome.

I feel better already. This catharsis must be working :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Where I've Been

I feel like it's so cliche to write a blog post with that title. Oh well.

I haven't been writing for two reasons, one of which being my new job. (yay!) In April I came across a listing for an unpaid internship at an adoption agency. I had applied to work at adoption agencies before with no luck and it's definitely a field I'm super interested in. I was hoping to find something paying a little more than 0 dollars, but since I wasn't doing anything and was crazy bored at home I thought I'd give it a whirl. I started at the end of April working 20 hours a week helping with administrative duties. Thankfully not boring administrative duties because the field itself is something interesting and they are always SUPER busy so there's plenty to do. Unlike my other administrative positions where I just sat there and listened to the sound of my backside growing. So I was enjoying the work and loving the part time schedule - plenty of time to get things done at home and have some of the down time I require to be sane. Not to mention the 10:00 start time that allowed me to sleep until 8:30. Which is a beautiful thing for so many reasons, but mostly because if I can sleep in later than Jamie we can go to bed at the same time and both be happy about it. So everything was working out nicely.

Except of course for the 0 dollar paycheck thing. That was less than ideal (although a good excuse to never get blamed for anything; no one expected the unpaid intern to take responsibility for anything).

Three weeks ago the director told me that our state audit for our accreditation was coming up and if I was willing to audit the files in preparation, she'd pay me on a contract basis. This was excellent news because the agency is a non profit and any new hires have to be approved by the (slightly tight-fisted) board. But the director has the freedom to pay contract employees at will without approval. In other words, I could start getting paid immediately whether they board liked it or not. Joy! So I added file audits to my to-do list. Last Friday I deposited my third paycheck and today I went to inquire about the cost of a gym membership. Happy Day!!

To sum up: Currently I'm doing something I love and getting paid for it. How lucky am I??

The other reason I took an extended break from blogging is not so happy happy joy joy and that is the last few months, apart from my new job, have been ROUGH. I'll write more about that soon, but basically it looks like this -

Jamie and I want a family. It ain't happening.

May and June - for a mess of reasons - were just rough months as far as the whole not-getting-pregnant thing goes and I was really really down. In the last several weeks I've really turned a corner and am feeling a lot better. Still bummy, but more able to compartmentalize and be happy about the good things in my life. But for a couple months there I was miserable and that kinda meant I didn't want to call anyone or see anyone. Or clean my house. Or cook dinner. Or exercise. Or write on this here blog. Which of course is cyclical - I feel bad, I don't want to be social, eat healthy or exercies, I feel worse. It's a crappy mess, man.

Anyway, this is much longer now than I wanted it to be so I should end it. But now you know where I've been. And more importantly, that I'm back.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Spark!

For anyone else trying to get in a little better shape, I have to suggest this website:

It's a totally free site where you can track your nutrition and fitness. I'm loving it! It's a little time-consuming at first to enter everything you're eating and all your activities, but it lets you save things you eat often to a short list so it gets much quicker as you go. It gives you the option to make your own workouts or have them create one for you. And when you input an activity you do and for how long, it tells you how many calories you've burned. Way cool. It tracks everything for daily goals as well as weekly. So you know if it happens to be a rainy cold Wednesday morning and you're still bruised and sore from your soccer game Tuesday night and are just bumming on the couch updating your blog with no intention of going to the park for a run (hypothetically speaking), you can take a day off. And still make sure at the end of the week, you've put in the time to burn enough calories cumulatively over 7 days.

But my favorite feature is the daily report. Each morning after I've entered in everything I plan to eat that day, I can look and see if I'm within my optimal range for calories, fat, protein and carbs. This is so helpful, because getting the right amount of those things can be difficult! It's tempting when trying to get healthy to cut out all fat and really reduce calories, but that's not good for your body. So it's great to be able to see if everything's balanced.

So far it's been really helpful when it comes to planning my meals and workouts and tracking them. And it's keeping me motivated! I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Jamie: I really hope you get pregnant in the next couple months.

Tara: (awww it's so sweet that he's so excited to be a daddy!) Yeah, me too.

Jamie: Then we'd have a baby around Christmastime.

Tara: (awww he's thinking how much fun Christmas would be if we had our own little one to celebrate with) Yeah, that would be fun.

Jamie: That way we'd get a tax deduction next year.

I <3 my accountant husband! :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Who IS This Guy and What Does He Want From Me??

In my senior year my roommate Britt and I had this conversation roughly 4 dozen times -
Me: Guess who ____________ (fill in the blank with something totally unexpected like "Watched Dancing With the Stars with me last night?")
Britt: Who?
Me: Jamie Hotalen.
Britt: Really??
Me: Yeah. Maybe he does like me...?
The whole first semester of my senior year was littered with run-ins with Jamie that left me totally confused as to what kind of guy he really was and what he wanted out of our relationship. Here's a few examples:

The Soccer Field Heart-to-Heart:
Shortly after we got back to school, I went for a run on campus (with Chachi *sniff*)on a day we had a break from practice. The boys team also had the day off but when I got back to the gym lot where my car was parked, guess who was on the practice field kicking the ball around. Somehow we wound up talking. For a long time. About deep things like how we felt about it being our last year at TFC and what we hoped to do after graduation (for the record, I hoped to return to New Jersey and never leave again). At this point, I didn't think Jamie HAD a deep side. I didn't think he was capable of meaningful conversation. I thought a conversation with him would revolve around sports, movies and video games. It was surreal to actually be connecting with him. Of course when I got home I said to Britt - Guess who I just had a long heart-to-heart with about our dreams and goals. Britt: Who? Me: Jamie Hotalen! Britt: Really??

Again you'd think if a guy really liked a girl he'd continue to pursue her, build off a good long conversation. Nope. Didn't hear from him after that except for our usual passing in the gym hallway before practices. And I decided he really didn't have a deep side after all and that was just a random incident, not an indicator of Jamie's real personality.

Later in the soccer season, Gao Foua and I stayed after our practice to watch the boys practice. They were leaving the next day for playoffs in Florida, so this practice was our last chance to watch them play. At the end of practice they worked on PK's preparing for a tie-breaking shootout during playoffs. And someone suggested Jamie get in goal. And Gao Foua and I both laughed a little because Jamie is a forward, sometimes a midfielder, always a goal scorer, not a goalie. Except he was really good. And I remember thinking, "This guy really can do anything on the soccer field."

The Phone Calls:
In October, the boys team went to Florida for the regional playoff tournament. While he was there Jamie called me. Twice. Once after the first game to tell me they'd won and once before the last game so I could psych him up.
Me: Guess who called me from Florida to tell me how he did in his game.
Britt: Who?
Me: Jame Hotalen!
Britt: Really?
Me: Maybe he does like me...?

I didn't hear from him for a few days after he got back from Florida and then one day he invited me over to watch the video footage of their championship game (which they'd won). Remember the pk practice Gao Foua and I watched? Where Jamie played goalie? Well, as it turns out, the region championship game was tied after regulation, and still tied after overtime. So it was decided by penalty kicks. And guess who played keeper? It was really dramatic. In a PK tie-break the two teams alternate taking PKs, 5 per team. In this case, TFC made their first 4 shots, Southeastern made 3 and then Jamie stopped the 4th. Meaning that if TFC scored again they would win. And guess who was shooting the 5th PK? I wish I was better at describing this moment. Jamie stops the 4th Southeastern shot, takes off his keeper gloves, walks up to the PK spot and nails his shot. Goal. TFC wins.

Which brings us to our next what the?? moment: The Video
When the boys got home I was invited with a group of people over to Jamie's apartment to see the video of the PK shootout. When I walked in, Jamie was not in the living room and one of the guys yelled to him, "Jamie, Tara's here. Can we start it now?" Then he turned to me and said, "We weren't allowed to watch it until you got here." And I went, "What??" Maybe he does like me...?

Nationals in Orlando
While watching the boys final practice, Gao Foua and I decided that if they won regionals, we'd go watch them play in the national tournament which takes place in Orlando. Where Jamie's family lives. So I spent a weekend staying with Jamie's parents. This is when I really started to think maybe Jamie was not who I thought he was. If you've never met Jamie's family, there about as cool as a family could be without being Minters. I remember thinking after that weekend that nobody who was raised by those people could be as bad as I had previously thought Jamie was. During this weekend Jamie alternately ignored me completely and "flirted" with me in his subtle Jamie way. He lent me his sweatshirt when it got chilly one night and took me on a ride on his parents moped. He also sat next to me on his parents couch and watched "Deep Blue Sea" with me. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well ok but during that movie he waited just until one particularly scary point where someone gets eaten by a shark, laughed at me for getting scared and then went to bed before the movie ended. He wasn't exactly flirtatious.

The last night I stayed in a hotel with the people I was riding home with and he came over to swim in the hotel pool with us. And then sent me a text message after he left to say good night and that he hoped I felt better (I had a cold).

And then we got home from Orlando and I didn't hear from him again for weeks. If he liked me and we just had a great time in Florida together why wasn't he calling me? Asking me out? What did this guy want??

The Ballet:
Then came my birthday. Which I decided to celebrate with my brother, my roomie/bff and their significant others. And Jamie. My mother-in-law says the moment she found out Jamie was spending his Friday night at the ballet she knew he had it bad. But to me he seemed happy to go and a little bit uncomfortable to be the only un-coupled pair there. Definitely not sending out the "I'm crazy about you" vibes.

Thanksgiving Break:
Over Thanksgiving while I was home in New Jersey, Jamie called a couple times. Not every night. Not even every other night. Just once while I was driving home to see how the drive was going and once during the break to say hey. And to have what turned into a very deep conversation that left me wondering - again - who this guy was. I told Kristy about it and she said, "I think you really like this guy. I think you like him but you don't want to because he lives too far away from home." So true. You see right through me, Kristy.

Christmas Formal:
I returned from Thanksgiving fully expecting Jamie to ask me to our school's Christmas formal. That's what a guy does when he likes a girl, right? Except he didn't. So we didn't go the formal but we spent the whole evening of the formal together and then met Britt and her then-boyfriend Adam at Adam's parents house for the weekend. We played cards and had a great time and at some point I mentioned how much I wanted to go to the Toccoa Symphony Orchestra Christmas show the next day. (HINT HINT). Which leade to...

Our First Date:
Before dropping me off after our weekend at Adam's, Jamie asked if he could take me to the Toccoa Symphony later that day. YES! Ok so it was several months later than I expected and I had to practically tell him to ask me, but he had FINALLY asked me out on a real date. I was convinced he really liked me then. We had a great time and he told me what instrument they use to tune the orchestra. And how he knows that from his time playing the clarient in middle school. My brain was going Wait..What?? You know something about music? And you played the CLARINET?? By the end of the night I was sure he liked me. And I liked him. Then the evening ended and he drove me home, didn't get out of the car, didn't walk me to the door and didn't call me again for quite some time. Perhaps that didn't go as well as I thought. So. Frustrating.

The Christmas Concert:
Every year right before Christmas break TFC's music department puts on a concert of Christmas music. It's a dressy affair and a lot of people from town come. The TFC dining hall serves a fancy meal beforehand with tablecloths and candles and all that jazz. Unfortunately, being off campus, we did not get to participate in that meal. So Britt and I along with a few friends and roommates planned our own Christmas dinner which I of course invited Jamie to. He did come to dinner but I could not talk him into coming to the concert with me. He did not want to get dressed up and sit in the TFC chapel all evening. Even if it was an opportunity to hang out with me. And I began to think he must really not be interested in me after all. After all, he did go to the ballet for me. Why not this event.

And then came the mother of them all...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Story Continues

Jamie says his leg was not actually shattered. I've seen the x-rays, though and there were 3 distinct pieces of leg bone. I'm sticking by my use of the word shattered.

At any rate, it happened at Atlanta Christian College on a day that both the girls and boys teams had games back to back. After our game, all of us girls had gotten showered and dressed and were watching the boys play. Jamie had the ball at about midfield when an ACC player trid to knock it away from him. Unfortunately for Jamie's tibia, he completely missed the ball and connected solidly with Jamie's shin. Jamie said at first it just felt like any hard shot to the shin, but then the pain just kept getting worse and worse as he lay on the field. There may or may not have been some choice words uttered. After determining that there was definitely something pretty seriously wrong with Jamie's leg, his coach and the ACC trainer got him off the field and situated on the sidelines because why rush to the hospital? If his leg was broken then, it would still be broken when the game was over, right?

Jamie watched the rest of the game and the decision was made to bring him back with the rest of us on the bus and have his leg treated back at Toccoa. Stephen's County Hospital is directly next to TFC and his grandparents lived nearby and would be able to come pick him up.

And that decision was a pretty fateful one for he and I.

I had a lot of homework to get done that night. I can't remember if it was reading or studying for a test or what, but I know I needed to concentrate. So I sat in the front of the bus where I wouldn't be bothered. However, Jamie and his broken leg couldn't exactly sit in a conventional bus seat, so he was laid on the floor with his leg propped up on equipment bags. And his head laying on the ground right next to my seat. How is a girl supposed to study when a boy with a broken leg is lying right next to her chair all teary-eyed from the pain and sudden, tragic ending to his junior season? So I started talking to him.

I don't remember everything that was said, but I remember two things pretty clearly:
1) I know I told him his senior season was going to be his best year ever. He'd be so bored of sitting around with a cast on his leg that he'd work extra hard once he could run and play again. He'd spend all summer getting back in shape and come back next fall better than he'd been before the broken leg. I was totally right.

2) At one point, Jamie looked up at me in a pain-induced fog and said, "You look like an angel." It wasn't exactly flirtatious. I had a reading light on above my head, and when not blow dried, my hair tends to frizz out around my face. From Jamie's vantage point on the floor, my little frizzies were being illuminated from behind and giving me a lovely halo. Jamie was just stating a fact. Still, it was pretty funny and I like to tease him about it.

Now if you know a little bit about our story and are any good at math you can figure out that about 15 months passed between the broken leg and fateful bus ride and the actual start to our dating relationship. Here's what happened in between that time:

The bus ride was enough to make Jamie think, "That Tara chick is kinda cool," but it was not enough to change my opinion of him. So much so that when Jamie approached me after one of my games and asked if I'd want to come over to his grandparents (where he was staying until he could get around on his own) and watch a movie sometime, I said sure but was thinking "Uh, no." Because I thought he was the kind of guy who would ask a girl to "watch a movie" when he was thinking something more along the lines of "make out on the couch". And I was not that kind of girl. (Here is a good place to point out the fact that Jamie had injured his hand in another game shortly before breaking his leg. When at the hospital getting x-rays on his leg, he asked if they'd mind taking a look at his hand, too. It was broken as well. I was afraid a guy on crutches with with one cast from mid-foot to mid-thigh and another one on his arm was going to put the moves on me. Jamie still finds that hilarious. This is also a good time to mention that Jamie and I were dating for 5 months before he ever even kissed me. I may have misjudged him.) I did say I would call him if I ever had a chance to come by. His name is still in my phone as "Jamie Hotalen" from that day even though I've changed phones and he's changed phone numbers.

About this time our friend Gao Foua got involved. She knew Jamie had a thing for me and thought we would be perfect together. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with her in the gym during intramural basketball -
Gao Foua: "You and Jamie would be so cute together. Would you ever consider dating him?"
Me: "I don't really see him as the type of guy I'd date seriously. He'd be fun to go on a few dates with if I was just looking to have fun, but I could never be in a serious relationship with him."

Never. I actually said I could never be in a serious relationship with him. Clearly I knew myself (and Jamie) SO well!

In the interest of full disclosure, I had just gotten out of a serious relationship a few months before The Bus Ride and was kinda interested in a guy I'd worked with over the summer. So really, between my impression of Jamie as some kind of rebellious bad boy, my recent break-up, and my interest in someone else, a relationship with Jamie was just not something I was into pursuing then.

And Jamie? Well, he is the definition of a slow-mover. Remember the post I wrote about how long he shopped around for our house? And his Camry? He does not make snap decision. And he was not going to rush into anything with me. Especially when I was giving him no reason to think I was interested. The idea of us as a couple was going to need several months to marinate before it ever became reality.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For Posterity's Sake

All of you who read this blog pretty much know how Jamie and I met, but I thought it would be fun to record it for my own memory. And who doesn't enjoy reading a good love story, right?

Seeing as how there are only a few hundred students at Toccoa and Jamie and I were both playing soccer, it would have been impossible for our paths not have crossed. But initially, (like for the first 3 years we knew each other) there was no romantic interest.

That being said, our first impressions of each other were pretty good. Now I have no idea why, but despite the fact that I usually have a rather unimpressive memory, my first memory of Jamie is very clear - down to what I was wearing the first time I noticed him. Somehow my little heart must've sensed that this moment would be important sometime in the future.

He was, not surprisingly, on the soccer field. I had been asked to run the sidelines that day for the boys' preseason scrimmage and wasn't yet privy to the knowledge that there were paid athletic employees who should've been doing that job (my application to work for the athletic department was later turned down, the injustice). So I was on the sidelines, in my UMBC blue mesh shorts that I borrowed from Lauren Conova the previous year for gym and never returned. At some point early on in the game I overheard someone say that Jamie Hotalen is really good. And mentally I agreed with them and also assumed that he must be a returning player. It was like 8 seconds into the game. How could they possibly have known how good he was if he wasn't a returning player? At that point I was unaware of the Hotalen dynasty at Toccoa and the fact that Jamie had been visiting TFC since birth and had played many, many pick-up games with the guys on the TFC team. I didn't figure out Jamie was in the same class as me until our junior year.

For the next two years, my thoughts of Jamie never went beyond "He's a really good soccer player." In fact, my mother-in-law remembers meeting me at a game in Clearwater, Florida. I said something along the lines of, "You're Jamie's mom? He's my soccer idol." I thought he was a really good soccer player. And a snob. And that he thought he was too cool for Toccoa. I hated that attitude - why would you come to a Christian school if you think you're too cool to obey the rules you knew existed when you choose to come here? Why come to a Christian school and then complain about having to abide by a dress code and attend chapel? It's obnoxious. Never mind that Jamie never actually felt that way. I thought he did, so I wasn't interested at all in him. Oh and at that point, Jamie and I both had significant others and were not exactly on the market.

Jamie also remembers the first time he saw me. And again, not surprisingly, it involved soccer. The girls' team was doing one of our early morning runs as was the guys' team. At some point we passed each other (at the intersection of the main road into campus and the road that goes down to the soccer field right by the Flood Plain, in case you were wondering). He saw me and thought, "She's pretty." I've never asked him for more details. For all I know he was checking out all the girls as they ran by him and mentally ranking us. But whatever he thought I was pretty :) That's enough for me.

So for the first two years at Toccoa, I disliked Jamie and he didn't waste any time thinking about me at all. Ah, the romance. Can you even stand it?

And then Jamie's shattered Tibia changed all that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jonah's EB Auction

For several months now I've been following the blog of this family. Patrice and Matt are a sweet young couple from North Carolina who have two sons, Gabe and Jonah. Though we've never met, I've been touched by their story. Both of their boys have the genetic disease Epidermolysis Bullosa. EB causes the skin to blister at the slightest friction and then slough off leaving painful open wounds. EB babies are at a high risk for infection and other complications due to external and internal blistering and wounds. Because of EB, their first son, Gabe, was stillborn at 37 weeks. Jonah is nearly a year old and has battled EB his whole life. Every day his parents wrap him in a protective layer of gauze to protect his skin. EB is a very difficult disease and as of right now, there is no cure for it.

The organization DebRA raises money for research and provides assistance to families with EB children. At the end of this month, a friend of the Williams is hosting an online auction to celebrate Jonah's 1st birthday. All you have to do to enter to win an item is visit Jonah's EB Auction Website and leave your bid in a comment anytime between 12:01am EST on February 23 until 11:59pm on February 27. Because all the aution items were donated, every dollar raised will go straight to DebRA. The auction items range from jewelry to gift cards from some great stores and restaurants. So go on over sometime between February 23rd and 27th and see if there's anything you'd like to bid on.

Also, for passing this information along, you're entered into a drawing for a Target gift card. If you'd like to write your own post about Jonah's EB Auction, visit the auction website and follow the instructions to link your post and be entered to win.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Resolutions: Month Two

January's now over so it's time to look at how I'm doing and what successes and failures I had in this first month of 2010. And it's time to get started on my February goals. So let's see how I've done so far and what's in store this month :

Resolution #1 - Get Healthier.

I've kept my commitment to walk the dog 5 times a week even on the REALLY cold days, however I did skip one day when it was pouring rain. Who wants to walk in that? I've since come up with a good substitute of playing chase with Kona for 15 minutes on yucky days. That way we still both get some exercise. Cutting out soda has not been a problem. I drink sweet tea or lemonade if we're out, but mostly I have water. I think there was one time I was really craving a Coke (in the literal sense, not the southern anything-that-fizzes defintion of Coke). But it was no big deal to have something else. One night at Moe's the lemonade dispenser was broken and I didn't want caffeinated tea, so I had root beer. But once in 31 days is not so bad.

This month, in addition to not drinking soda, I'm going to start drinking more water. Now, I know they've changed their minds about the whole 8 glasses of water a day thing, but I know I feel better if I drink more water. And when I'm trying to get a certain amount of water in me, it's hard to have room for juice, soda or tea so it cuts down my sugar intake.

I'm also bumping my walking distance up to two miles and looking for a good stretching routine. Because when it comes to flexibility, I have none. So I thought I'd feel better if I started stretching every day and increasing my flexibility before I stepped up my workouts to anything that might make me sore.

Resolution #2 - Get Organized

I made my cleaning checklist and have been editing and revising it ever since. But I love it. I don't make myself do everything every day, but I do most things most days so I stay on top of things and our house is generally neater. And I feel like I'm providing a more relaxing environment for Jamie to come home to after long work days. I've also had no problem cutting out TV. I just don't turn it on, making it very easy not to watch it.

For the month of February, my goals are to continue with my cleaning checklist and to paint our hall bathroom which we're hoping to redecorate soon (and if I'm lucky, we'll be getting the floor retiled, but don't hold your breath).

Resolution #3 - Get Connected

Well this is perhaps my biggest under acheivment. I've made the birthday list as planned. However, 3 birthdays have now passed and I have 3 more in the next two days and I've sent exactly 0 cards. I have an excuse for one of those, as I'm going to be seeing the birthday boy this weekend ( hi Grandpa!) and wanted to give him his card then. The other 5, my only excuse is laziness. So if your birthday has passed recently and you haven't gotten a card from me, I swear it's coming! Soon. I hope. My other goal for the month of January was top secret and involved only my mom and sisters. And girls, you'll be getting an email soon. :) Oh and joining the small group. That's done.

For February, I'm going to start using email to stay more connected. I have an aversion to the phone and so outside of my mom and sister I don't talk to too many people on the phone. But I still need to stay connected and I'm always on the computer so my goal for this month is to start sending more emails to those I'm far away from.

And so begins 2010 Resolutions, part 2 of 12.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Work in Progress

One of my January goals under my "Get Organized" resolution was to create a cleaning schedule; one that could be printed, looked at often, kept up with and adjusted as needed. So here she is:

(click to view larger; if you actually care to see larger)

I'm sure there's a lot of room for improvement; things this relatively young housewife has neglected. You'll notice there's nothing in the "Annually" section, even though I know there are things that I should attend to on a yearly basis. Please, please offer suggestions as to things that should be added that I may have overlooked. I feel there's more that I'm forgetting, but my mind is tired of thinking about it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


You like? I added a button to my sidebar if you're interested in checking out this super talented lady's site and all her cute backgrounds.

Also, please check out Shannon's blog (Our Growing Family) to see all the changes she's made. If only because it just took me 3 days to get my blog list updated to include hers at her new address. And I must feel that it was worth it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Journeys and Destinations (Part 1)

The destination is what gives a journey its meaning. As someone who has made the trip between Georgia and New Jersey countless times, I think I can say that with confidence. Sure sometimes the trip is fun, but let's be honest - we wouldn't be in the car in the first place if it weren't for the destination. And when the trip is not fun (think 4 hours on I-95 south of DC going 15 miles an hour), it's the destination that makes it worth continuing.

If you don't know where you're going, you can't plan the trip. You need to know where you're going to know how long it's going to take, what you should pack, if you need to book a hotel room. And plane tickets would be really hard to buy if you didn't know where you were headed. Just try searching Expedia for flights from your local airport to nowhere in particular. You won't get any results.

The destination changes everything. The destination, really, defines the trip.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. It's changed how I went about making New Year's resolutions this year. I love New Year's resolutions. I love to think that on December 31st at midnight my whole life becomes a blank slate again. Even though it doesn't. Even though I'm still the same person with all the same strengths and faults on January 1st as I was 24 hours earlier. There's just something promising about a brand new untarnished year. And so I usually make a resolution or two. Or ten. Thinking that I'm really going to change everything in the upcoming year and finally be who I want to be. It doesn't really happen. Yesterday I found my resolution list for 2009. I'd kept exactly 0 of them.

So this year, I decided to look at it a little differently. This year, I'm taking a trip. And so instead of just trying to say what I'll DO in 2010, I've really thought about who I want to BE by the end of the year. And I came up with three broad goals:
1. To get healthy (isn't that on everyone's resolution list?)
2. To get organized
3. To get connected

Now that I have these broad goals to know where I want to be, I can start planning the trip. With three broad goals in place, I started marking the stops along the journey with tasks for each month. For example - under my goal to get healthy - in January, I will walk 1 mile 5 times a week with Kona, cut out soda from my diet and start taking my vitamins every day. Very doable, right? My organizational goal for January - to create and start following a cleaning schedule and cut out daytime TV. Not too tough. And for getting connected? Make a list of family and friend birthdays and buy cards; and join a church small group (cheater alert - I already had that lined up before January 1st; it was a gimme).

Each month of my year has a different task within my 3 big goals. I'm gradually upping my workouts, adjusting my diet, organizing my home and schedule, and becoming more intentional in my relationships. I'm giving myself time to travel. I'm focusing on where I want to be instead of just what I want to do. And as Bob says, "I'm baby steppin! I'm doing the work!" I'll keep you updated at the end of each month to let you know how I'm doing.

Stay tuned for Part 2 :)