April 24, 2012

Sonoma, Wine Country!!

  Last weekend Nick and I had the privilege of staying in Sonoma California.  It is a quaint little town in the heart of wine country!  It reminds me of Grants Pass in many ways.  The old brick buildings, the nice down town area, and the friendly folks.

  I only found one problem with Sonoma......

  Nick and I stayed at the Sonoma Historic Hotel while we were there.  It is a lovely place and has fun accents that hint at it's age.  They have free wine tasting from 5 to 6 in the evening and a free continental breakfast with coffee and orange juice to go with it.

  The first night in Sonoma was perfect.  Nick and I wandered around and looked in the open shops, and found an AMAZING Italian restaurant.  We stopped in for dinner.  We tried the Duck in a reduced white wine sauce with house made wide noodles.  It was pretty good!  Nick and I had never tried duck, so it was a new experience for us.

  We also had a bottle of wine from the valley, and dessert..... I cannot fully explain the amazing desserts, but I will try.   We liked the sound of 3, but had control and ordered 2.  We ordered a rum cake and tiramisu.

  The rum cake was completely different than any other rum cake I had ever tasted.  It was like a fluffy angel food cake that was infused with rum and had a delicious vanilla taste perfectly balanced with the other flavors.  This was served with an amazing anglais sauce that we could not get enough of.

   The tiramisu was also different.  It did not have any mascarpone cheese like it would normally.  Instead, it had an amaretto mixture of the whip cream consistency and lady fingers soaked with the perfect mix of whatever they put in it.  Again, it was served with the anglais sauce.

Both different, both amazing.

The next morning, Saturday, we had our pastries and went out to find a coffee shop for our much needed espresso.

  The morning was beautiful!  The sun was shining and the day was going to be great!  We passed several wine bars and taverns that were open at about 8am and still could not find our espresso.  After over an hour of walking in the sweet morning air we had come to a very sad conclusion.  In Sonoma, you cannot get an espresso drink prior to 10am.

   We were beside ourselves!  I could not believe we could get wine and beer, but no coffee!  This is the only problem with Sonoma, and I am sure it would not be a problem if we did not come from the land of espresso.

  We finally got a coffee and it was really not pleasant, but we managed to get through it prior to our day of meetings.

   The rest of the day was scorching and beautiful.  We met some new friends for dinner at "The Girl And The Fig" which was AMAZING! They have great food! We then headed in for the night, only to discover the air in our room was not working.  We headed downstairs and after speaking with the person on staff learned that the entire 3rd floor had no air.

  This would not be a problem if it were not 90* outside.  We opened our window and hotel door for some airflow and eventually went to sleep.

   The only problem with having the window open was that Sonoma folk don't seem to sleep!  They are so busy having fun, they were making a horrendous amount of noise outside our window.

   We did not get much sleep that night, but the trip was still fun overall!  They have great wine and fun shops, along with beautiful weather!  I would suggest "The Girl And The Fig" for dinner, and the Historic Sonoma Hotel to stay at.  It was really beautiful, despite the bad air conditioning unit!

 Do you have any fun places you like to visit?

April 17, 2012

Gone Fishin'

  Today was the 5th grade fishing field trip, which I was able to attend and chaperone.  I have never been so afraid of a hook in my life!  

   We loaded the bus at 8:15am and headed to Lake Selmac in hopes of catching the big one.  We got there and they had poles waiting.  We rigged them up with our bait, and cast our lines!  All but Arthur.  He did not want to stick the worm on the hook.  He squirmed and tried to get me to do it.  I told him if he was the one fishing, he had to bait.

   He finally did it after some girls told him to "man up, and stop being a sissy!"  

  We were all having fun!  Or so I thought.....

   The thing about kids and fishing, is that they do not have the patience to let their line sit for any longer than 30 seconds.  It was cast out, reel in, cast out, reel in......

Finally someone caught a fish.  It was a nice Blue Gill, and they bagged it and went back to fishing.  

   Then something happened.  It was like a call went out to the other side of the ramp that said, "come over here!  We have fish!"  

   Our side of the ramp got really crowded, really fast.  Fish lines were crossed constantly, and for a while it seemed like all I was doing was untangling fish lines!

   It got a bit crazy until Jared hooked himself in the cheek.  He was very calm about it, and called the teachers over to evaluate the situation.  I took tension off the line, (he had his sinker hanging from it) and a dad bit it, to release him from the pole.  

   After getting him out of the crowd and looking at it closer, we discovered that the barb was in his cheek.  We would either need to pull it out or push it through.  We decided to pull it out as it was closer than pushing it through.  Jared was a champ the whole time.  We doctored it up and he continued fishing... With caution.  

  A new message seemed to go out to the kids.  "Move away from each other, you could get hooked!"

  Kids started spreading out, lines didn't get crossed and more kids caught fish.  It was the perfect balance.  

  Except for the casting.  Kids casting can get a bit crazy!  There were several jackets hooked and pulled. I almost got knocked and hooked by more poles than I care to remember.  

  The problem is, kids don't stop because their line is stuck. They keep pulling, and ripping jackets, until they figure out that they are stuck to someone.  

  So overall we caught some Rainbow Trout and some Blue Gill's.  It was the most fish ever caught on the fifth grade field trip, and the kids did have fun.  I had fun!  I will also take my kids out fishing more often so maybe they can learn some patience.

  Tomorrow, I will go to Science Works with the first grade class and I am sure to have some stories to tell!

Do you have any fun fishing stories?

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April 13, 2012

When the van is paid off....

     There are several things Nick and I want around the house, none of them essential.  Things like new towels that actually match, or new dishes that are an actual matching set, or some home upgrades. The biggest being some decent clothes that do not look like a rabid dog chewed them to bits on the floor just prior to us tossing them on in the morning.  When we speak of these things, we start it with "when the van is paid off I want to....." 

   Well, the van is nearly paid off, and the "when the van is paid off" list is so long, I can't believe it.  The boys have caught on to this saying and add their own things to the list.

   "When the van is paid off, can I do Karate?"  Can we buy a new motorcycle?  Can we go to Kid Zone? Can we, can we?  The list continues to grow by the day.

    When the van is paid off, we will burn through this list pretty quickly, as the things we want will not cost much.  I would say just a couple months will cover the whole list!  All but the garage....

   We have talked about saving for a garage.  I know this will have to happen within a few years as the boys are getting older and we will have more cars parked in the driveway needing fixed.  Oh, the joys of boys!  

   As I write this, Nick is in Portland at the annual Portland Swap Meet with his dad, Chuck, buying parts for the 65 Mustang Fast Back.  It is Nicks dream to have a project car again, and it won't happen until there is a dry place to work, hence, a garage.  

Nick, Chuck, and now Taylor, go to the meet every year and drool over rusty car parts, and occasionally, bring some home.  This year I know they got some wheels and tires, a center console, and an NOS Rally Pack.  ( A rare part, I have been told.)  It's a good thing they took the van!

   He will however, have to continue working on cars at Dads house until the van is paid off, and we can work on getting him his garage.

  Do you have a saying like ours at your house?  What is it, and how did it come about?

April 12, 2012

My Journey Into The Land of Surrogacy

  As some of you may know, and some of you may not, I am on a journey to become a surrogate mother.  My reasons for doing this are so deep, it is very hard to put into words.  I will attempt to put this into words and also tell you about my 3 year journey so far.

   For those of you who do not know me well, let me tell you a bit about myself.  I am an outgoing mom of 3 boys.  My husband, Nick, and I have a great relationship, and he is so very supportive, I couldn't ask for more!  I like to sew, bake, hike and I am also active in my church.  Our boys are wonderful, and are excited about the surrogacy as well.

  I have thought about becoming a surrogate for a long time.  I love being pregnant, and my body handles it well, with few complications.

  In 2009 I decided, with Nicks blessing, to apply to a surrogacy company. After much research, I chose The Center for Surrogate Parenting, (CSP) or Creating Families.  I chose them for several reasons.  They evaluate the Intended Parents and the Surrogates very well.  Both physically and mentally, so there are not many crazys that get through, making it a better experience for all involved.  By going through an agency, I am better protected.  They take care of the lawyer, matchmaking, finances, counseling, etc.  It is my job to help a couple who are unable to have their own child, become a family and CSP takes care of the rest.

   I was matched with my first couple in June of 2011, after 2 years with CSP.  The reason for this wait was Oregon law.  Oregon has some sticky laws regarding surrogacy and a lot of couples do not want to deal with them, so they passed me up in favor of California surrogates.  My first couple initially did pass me up due to the laws and because I was so far away from them.  (They lived in New York)  They were a great couple and had been trying for 10 years to get pregnant.  They decided to come back to me as we really got along and they were not "feeling it" with the other surrogates they met.

   They had 2 embryos frozen and in September of 2011, we transferred both of them in hopes that one would take.  Neither of them stuck, and they were pretty heart broken.  The mom had no more eggs and she would have to use her sisters eggs.
   The sister flew in from Australia for several weeks to start medication for egg retrieval.  On the day they pulled the eggs they were found to be no good.  We were back at square one.  I did not hear from my couple for quite some time, and I was OK with that.  I knew they needed to see where we were going to go from here.  After several weeks they called and explained that they were no longer going to pursue surrogacy.  I was so very sad for them.  I wanted so badly to help them with their family, and I will no longer get the chance.  I also understood how hard this must be for them.  I thanked them for the opportunity to work with them and we still stay in touch.

   Shortly thereafter, I was re-matched with a sweet couple from San Francisco.  I have not yet met them, but I read their profile and they read mine and it sounds like we will get along beautifully.  They have been trying for 5 years to create their family, and her uterus will just not carry a child.  So it will be their child biologically, I am just the oven!

   The mom and I spoke on the phone for an hour and we have a date to meet up, in person, to ask questions, and finalize whether we would like to work together or not.  She was very excited on the phone and said she finally feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  There were tears involved in our conversation, but good tears.

  So the meet date is a week away, and Nick and I are very excited.  They seem sweet and like we have a lot in common.

   I am very open about my surrogacy, and this has at times brought on some negativity from others who do not understand why I would want to do this.  The most common question I am asked is if I am doing surrogacy for money.  This is simply a crazy idea to me, because frankly the money isn't worth it.  I have to time my cycles, inject myself with several hormones, schedule my entire family, pets, work etc. around everything surrogacy related.  I do not mind doing this, just do not mistake my kindness for greed.

   I have actually received a long letter in the mail explaining why I am not a Christian if I become a surrogate, complete with printed paperwork from the internet.  I have had people tell me that what I am doing is wrong and that if they were meant to have kids they would be able to naturally.  The list could go on and on, and I will not get into my retort for these nay sayers.

   I have also gotten very positive feedback from people.  Some love it and ask a lot of questions and are interested in what I am doing. Others are just amazed at the fact I am willing to do this for someone else so selflessly.

   Either way, it is what I chose to do, and I will continue until I can help complete someones family.

I cannot wait to see the look on the face of my couple when they are able to hold their child, that they have tried and waited so long for, for the first time.  That will make it all worth while...  That is why I want to become a surrogate.

  P.S.  This post could seriously go on for a lot longer, I was being kind and posted the readers digest version.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!  I am open to giving answers.


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April 11, 2012

What are the odds?

Nick and I are goobs.  I will start by saying that so there are no misunderstandings here.  We are not abusive toward each other, we just have fun, and are occasionally rotten.  So this story starts almost 7 years ago.

   Nick and I were married in September of 2005, and while on our honeymoon, I thought he was going to leave me after all of our, or MY mishaps.

  He had a 2001 Mustang GT Convertible in a beautiful cobalt blue metallic flake.  We took this on our road trip honeymoon!  We followed PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) south until San Francisco, then took I5 to Los Angeles for Disney Land. Along the way we made several overnight stops and took turns driving. 

  The trip started well, and within a couple days turned bad as I curbed his rims, more than once.  He cringed the worst I had seen, and was not happy with me, although he remained calm and understanding.

  Days later, on I5 cruising with traffic in California at about 90 mph, traffic comes to a complete halt!  I slammed on my brakes and came within inches of the bumper in front of me.  The car behind us didn't fare so well, and turned to the center divider to miss us! 

   We later stopped for lunch and I decided it would be funny to shoot a straw paper at Nick.  Well as mom always said, "It's all fun and games 'till someone gets their eye poked!"  Well she was right.  That stupid straw paper shot Nick clean in the eye!  What are the odds!  He was livid and I thought that was the last straw.... Hehe

   He decided to keep me around for a while, to which I am grateful. 

   The other night Nick got me back.  We were goofing off and he had a rubber band at the front door, pulled back and ready to go.  I ran in the bathroom and closed the door to a crack and looked at him through it.  I tried to tell him to stop, and he shot the rubber band as I closed the door.  The rubber band hit me in the lip, and it hurt too!  I didn't know what to do!  My lip hurt, but it was funny and I couldn't believe he had actually made that shot!  So I was laughing and crying at the same time.  He felt horrible, and wasn't even aiming for my face, but did say "ahhh, payback is such victory". 

I looked at him and he said, "I guess that is payback for your straw paper incident!"  I guess I had it coming, I just didn't realize it was coming 7 years later!

We have had several times where we accidentally hurt each other along the way, and they all make some good stories.

  Now it is my turn.  I don't know what will happen next, or when it will happen, but I hope it is good!

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April 10, 2012

Spy Games

  Titus is at a lovely age.  He is nearly 6 and "hates" everything.  He "hates" dinner, his brothers, movies, toys, and especially me.  (This is just when he is upset and doesn't get what he wants, which is frequent at the moment) 

  Arthur has been very good about helping out in these hard times.  Arthur has told Titus that he is a real spy, and Titus too can be a spy!  They use pretend spy gear and make other gear out of sticks and paper as well. 
  So when Titus "hates" cereal, Arthur kindly pulls Titus to the side (because we do not know he is a spy) and tells him that he has actually replaced the cereal with spy bots.  Miniature robots that look like our cereal, and will help him through the day.  They will make him a faster runner and much better at karate!  Titus happily eats his spy bots with not another word.  Oh, how I love having imaginative boys!

   When Titus "hates" going somewhere, Arthur pulls him aside and tells him they actually have a serious spy meeting at _________.  (Where ever we are going)  Titus gets excited and loads into the van and we are on our way, with no other hangups. 

  Titus "hates" whatever seat we put him in, so Arthur convinced him that, it is not a regular seat.  This seat turns you invisible so you can sneak up on your enemy,  the couch is a teleporter, and the dining room chairs have force fields around them for protection. The fight is over..... for now.

   I am enjoying the spy games for now, and will be sad when they end and I am stuck trying to force Titus to eat, sit, or just exist in a harmonious manner.

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