Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 in Review

Disclaimer: Yes...yes...this is 7 months late. But I was looking through and realized I had completed the post but never actually posted it. Oops. Don't bother reading if you don't want to since obviously this is very old...

I was feeling kind of badly about the fact that we didn't get a Christmas card and letter sent out this year. Especially with how blessed we have been this year, I didn't want to miss out on writing a recap of our year for our records. Then I realized that I didn't need to mail or hand-deliver every "card" in order to send our Christmas best wishes and greetings. The internet is just one more thing for which we should be grateful!

This year has had a lot of ups and a few downs. Overall though, I cannot honestly look back on this year with anything but a grateful heart and feelings of happiness. Miles got a really good promotion at the start of this year to Director of Mobile Development. This promotion not only gave him an almost 50% increase in salary, but has also afforded him a lot of good opportunities for travel and networking. This year he traveled to The Philippines, New York City, Florida, Georgia, Connecticut, London, and San Francisco! He has been involved in some interesting new technology and developments. We are especially grateful for his job, knowing that so many are struggling and searching for good employment. In his free time (when he's able to get any of that) he enjoys working on side-projects for his personal business, playing video games, spending time with Owen, and pampering his wife.

I have been busy as a full-time, stay-at-home, Mom. I love every minute of it (well...most minutes) and I am so grateful for the time I get to spend with Owen as he grows, learns and develops his skills. Earlier this year I realized I had let my social work license lapse, which caused me some anxiety and grief. I was able to renew it and have spent some time working on maintaining current CEU's (continuing education units). It has been enjoyable attending conferences and other clinical presentations. For the most part, my days are filled with chasing after a very busy toddler, attending play dates, running errands (when I have the car for the day), and honing my skills as a wife and mother. This is most definitely a work in progress and I am positive it will continue throughout my whole life.

Owen continues to be the light of our lives. He is such a sweet, mellow, little boy. He started attending nursery a couple of months ago, and has been the joy of all the teachers. Each week they rave about how sweet and laid-back he is. He "goes with the flow" and "never cries when someone else takes his toys." He has a tender heart and huge sense of humor. He is constantly making us laugh with his silly antics. Currently, he loves to be a "nakey snake" (which is what we call him when he runs around in his diaper) and will pull at his clothes and say, "nay-nay" in request to run around naked. He is very active and loves to climb, throw, ride, or run. He loves being outside regardless of the temperature, and would probably live out there if I didn't worry about his nose, fingers and toes falling off due to frost-bite. He is talking up a storm and continues to surprise us daily. He is an absolute joy.

Miles and I have had some fun adventures this year. We decided to start looking into buying a second (larger) home. We searched for a few months and found a beautiful home. Within days of closing, we discovered some structural damage to the home that caused us concern and we decided to back out from our offer. It was a blow to us, as we were eagerly anticipating a new home and move. However, we are hopeful that something better will come along.

Around this same time, Miles and I were able to go to London for ten days! My Mom came to Utah to watch Owen for us so we could have the time alone. It was an amazing trip and was so enjoyable to have time for the two of us.

Earlier this year, we decided that we would try for a second baby. We got some unexpected news about our fertility that led us to believe we might be able to conceive without doing in-vitro fertilization (IVF). We tried some other (less costly) options for a few months, which did not work out. However, during this time, Miles's company changed insurance due to a merger they did in June. His new insurance covers infertility treatment and specifically IVF. We are now starting with a new round of IVF which is almost 100% covered by his insurance. What an amazing blessing that we didn't move forward with it in August!

We truly have been blessed and are so grateful that God knows each of us and looks out for us individually.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

IVF: Medications

I've been a bit nervous about getting things rolling with my IVF cycle, as I am supposed to pay for the cycle up front before we begin. However, since we are doing it through insurance, we needed to get it approved and pre-authorized in order to move forward. This meant that we also couldn't get our medications until it was authorized. I was getting anxious that we wouldn't be able to get everything ok'd and taken care of in time and in accordance with our schedule. However...I was wrong. Luckily, after I spoke with my insurance, they were able to get the pre-auth within a couple days. It was amazing to get the call from the billing department informing me that our IVF cycle, including ICSI, would be covered. AMAZING! I knew what our benefits were, but it's just different hearing it for real.

The next hurdle was to get my medications to CA before I needed to start them on the 23rd. I spoke with my nurse who said I should hear from my insurance's pharmacy within the next day and confirm overnight shipping and any payment details. I spoke with them in the late afternoon on the 21st, and took care of paying our deductible. The next morning I received the medications on our doorstep. They came from Pennsylvania. I couldn't believe how quickly they arrived. But I was extremely relieved to have them a day early and know that we could start moving ahead as planned.

Here is a picture of all the medications, syringes, alcohol swabs, bandaids, and sharps container that I got this morning. I like that Owen is in the background. Kind of like a foretelling of what's to come, I hope. I also like that his face is a little apprehensive. Not sure what he thinks about a new sibling? ;)
So there it is. We start injections in my tummy tomorrow. I'm going to keep a tally of how many shots (including blood draws) I do during this cycle. Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Family Tradition

One of my favorite traditions that we had as a family growing up, was making gingerbread houses each year around Christmas time. When I was in school, we would make one for each of my teachers. In elementary school it wasn't so bad - maybe 1-3 houses depending on teachers and aids. Once we got into junior high and high school, however, the number multiplied and we each had about 6-8 houses to hand out with all our school, piano, and seminary teachers and sports coaches. Sometimes my Mom would make 30 or more gingerbread houses each year! It was craziness! But it's something I remember very fondly. The other awesome thing, is that my siblings and I all went to the same schools. Being the youngest and having four other siblings go through the schools and teachers, it was fun to see the excitement in my teachers' eyes because they had a Van de Wetering in their class and that meant they would get a gingerbread house for Christmas. It was a great tradition and I hope to continue it with my kids as they get older.

This year, Miles' mom sent us a Christmas care package. It included a gingerbread house kit that had a house, tree, and two gingerbread men with all the frosting and candy ready for decorating. It was a really fun and easy way to make a gingerbread house. I went fairly traditional with mine.
Marci, on the other hand, had some help from some disturbed nice guys who contributed to this macabre piece of work.

Before we went out to CA, my sister mentioned she was making gingerbread for houses for Austin's preschool class. I said, "Aw...I was hoping to make them when I came out." Well, they decided to do gingerbread men for his class instead (much easier with preschoolers!) and save houses for when we came out. I was super excited! They invited some friends from church, and while I attempted to get Miles into doing it with me, it ended up being a girl's night (well...with Austin joining in the fun for a bit too). It was a lot of fun.

Owen was a little sneak and climbed up on the table to steal a treat before he went to bed and we started our houses.
Here is Kim and Austin's masterpiece. It's kind of like a Nightmare Before Christmas gingerbread house with a Halloweeny theme going on. :)And here is the house I made. Before he left, Miles contributed by putting a kiss on the inside wall before we put the roof on (obviously not pictured here). I tried to do a good job since Kim gave it away to a friend of hers.Thanks, Mom for starting such a wonderful tradition so many years ago!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wright Family Christmas

Miles's parents came out to Utah the week of the 12th so they could help Marci pack and move back to AZ,and to pick up Megan, who flew in from Hawaii. It was a lot of fun to have them in town for a week so close to Christmas. We were able to spend a lot of time together doing fun holiday activities, eating lots of good food, and enjoying each other's company.

Before they came, Mom Wright sent us a Christmas care package with fun Christmas towels, snowflake tea light holders and candles, a gingerbread house kit (pics to come), and some gel Christmas decorations for our window. I put them up, and Owen was like a magnet drawn to them. He immediately started climbing up the back of the couch trying to reach them. At first, they were low enough he could get to them by kneeling on the top of the couch back. I moved them up so he couldn't get to them and drew the blinds shut. Boy was I wrong...
They also brought up all their presents for us since we will be going to CA for Christmas this year. We decided to open them early before we left.
Owen was in heaven opening presents. He helped Dada and me to open ours as well. It was a lot of fun watching him tear the paper into pieces. I got some awesome occasions cards (I'm always in need of nice cards), as well as hand soap, iTunes gift cards, and some other odds and ends. Miles' Mom also made me an awesome pillow cover for the pillow that goes with our love sac. I love it and am so glad to be rid of the ugly teal plaid cover. Miles got a deep fryer. Oh joy. I should mention that we got two of them for our wedding and I returned both of them. I don't think we need any help eating greasy, bad-for-you food. But alas, Miles finally got what he has been wanting for so long. Owen got this hilarious pig that is actually a dog toy, but makes a mean pig "oink" when you squeeze it. Owen thinks it's pretty cool. He also finally got some BYU apparel. I know...two BYU alums and we've never gotten him anything from BYU. We are excited for him to represent his parents' alma mater. Thank you, Mom and Dad Wright!

While they were in town, we spent a lot of time together and did some other fun things. One night we went to The SLAB for pizza and followed up with The Chocolate for dessert. We got Cazookies (a huge cookie in a cake pan, that is slightly undercooked with ice cream on top). YUM! Owen was not a happy camper that evening for some reason. I'm pretty sure we scared away all the lovey, dovey couples near us.
Our last day together before we left for CA was a Christmas party at Grandma and Grandpa Wright's home in Tooele. There were a lot of people, and it was good to see Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, and cousins. We did a white elephant exchange. It was really fun and pretty entertaining to see what people ended up with.
It's really nice to have family nearby and to be able to spend time together for special occasions. We sure do love the Wright family and are so glad they are ours! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Claus!

I wanted to take Owen to the Riverwoods to see Santa again this year. We decided to go while Miles's family was in town so they could come with. We planned out our evening and were set to go. We met up for dinner at Malawi's Pizza. However, as soon as Miles arrived, he decided that his stomach bug that had been bothering him all day was not going to go away and he was not feeling up for our fun evening out. I felt bad that he wasn't feeling well, and I was really disappointed that he couldn't be there for our fun family outting to see Santa. :( However, I am grateful the rest of the Wright clan (Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Marci and Uncle Mitchell) were there for the fun.

I had never been to Malawi's before. It was pretty good and they had some interesting pizzas. I especially liked how quickly we got our food. We also ordered a Berries n Creme dessert pizza which was delish! After our meal, we wandered out into the Riverwoods winter wonderland.
We went straight to Santa, to make sure we got that part of our evening taken care of. Owen did really well. He didn't cry or pout. Mostly, he just looked confused as to why he was sitting on some strange man's lap and tried to squirm down. I thought it was really sweet when I said, "Do you remember Santa? We were here last year." Santa responded by saying to Owen, "You've gotten so big!" (as though he actually remembered Owen). It was really cute.
Diverting his attention on Santa by focusing on the huge "balls" in the tree:
And just for fun, his picture from last year:After that we wandered into Blickenstaff's Toy Store. It is such a fun place with so much character and so many cute displays. We also went into Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory so Mom Wright could get her chocolate fix.
After wandering the shops, we walked around outside enjoying the beautiful lights. They always do such a great job.When we were done walking around and getting chilled to the bone, we went home. I love this tradition and hope to keep it going for as long as we can.

IVF: Beast

Ugh! I feel like such a beast these days. Miles always said that when we were first married and I was taking birth control (obviously unnecessarily), that I was not the nicest of people. I didn't really remember that being the case, but I've taken his word on it. Well...with starting this IVF cycle, I've had to go back on birth control. It's only been about a week, and I can totally tell a difference in myself. I'm irritable. I snap at Owen over things that really shouldn't matter. Small things bother me way more than they should. I feel like an emotional wreck and a big, mean, wicked witch. I guess the only good thing is that I actually recognize what's going on, and hopefully I can try and keep myself in check. And of course, it's only temporary. Although...I was talking to my friend about it and she said, "Wait until you're pregnant!" ...let's hope this isn't just a precursor to nine months of emotional misery. ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

IVF: Schedule and Consents

I talked with my nurse last week. She gave me my IVF schedule and consent forms to sign. The consent forms are about 20 pages covering all possibilities. Of course there are waivers and things stating you understand the possible risks involved. You sign off on the IVF procedures and everything it involves. You acknowledge that twins or multiples are a possibility (eek! or yay! ?). You determine if you want ICSI to be done and what that means. You determine if you want genetic testing done (or waive it) on you and your spouse. You sign consents for freezing and storing any extra embryos for future use. And my favorite part - you determine what will be done with your extra embryos in the case of death, disability, or divorce. The reason I like this, is because there is an option available to "transfer them to RCC for anonymous donation to a needful married couple." I like that they aren't just disposed of and that someone else could benefit from that potential life. :)

As for the schedule, it goes something like this:

Start birth control on day 3.
Dec 23: Start Lupron injections (small shots in my stomach)
Jan 1: Take last active birth control pill today
Jan 5: Blood draw and Ultrasound (US)
Jan 6: Start stimulation meds (shots in my hip) & decrease Lupron
Jan 8: Blood draw and US
Jan 10: Blood draw and US
Jan 12: Blood draw and US
Jan 13: Possible blood draw and US
Jan 14: Target trigger HCG shot
Jan 15: Do home pregnancy test (HCG shot will make my body show positive pregnancy, even though it's not)
Jan 16: Target day for egg retrieval and sperm collection
Jan 18: Start Crinone once daily each morning & baby aspirin daily (help with production of progesterone and to keep pregnancy)
Jan 19: Target day for embryo transfer
Feb 2: Pregnancy test
Feb 13: First pregnancy ultrasound
Oct 8: Expected date of delivery

Whew! However, all of that is subject to change. Appointments are never set in stone, as they may decide based on their monitoring that you should come in sooner, or later. Also, the embryo transfer day depends on how they are looking and if you want to do a Day 3 or Day 5 transfer. It's all very subjective and variable. However...that is what we are potentially looking at for the next month. I am getting really excited about it, but of course apprehensive. It's never a guarantee, as I have seen through family and friends. When I told my sister-in-law we were starting IVF, she said, "So this means a baby for sure, right?" Boy do I wish! The chances are obviously better than anything else we've done so far (55% as compared to 15%), but it's still not 100%. It's ok. We just have to go in with faith, hope and a positive attitude, and know that no matter the outcome, we will be ok.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

IUI Attempt #3


Whenever you go in for an IUI, before the procedure, they tell you the stats of the sperm. Miles and I were both surprised when the stats were so above average good in all areas. I guess it made me a little more hopeful that things might work out. But then I have to remind myself that even in totally normal couples with no infertility problems, the chance of conception is only 17%. I was so hopeful this time that I actually took two pregnancy tests (one early and one on day 15 following the IUI). Both were negative and then my cycle started on day 16.

We decided that since things have changed with our insurance that we would just proceed with IVF if it didn't work this time. So I called the nurse to let her know I was on cycle day 1, and get going with the IVF process. So from here on out I'll be documenting the IVF process both for myself and others. I would like to have a more complete record of how things go because I didn't document everything last time. I also hope that it will be helpful to at least one person out there, in understanding infertility, the IVF process, and what options might be available. Welcome to our personal journey with IVF....

Monday, December 05, 2011

Beard Gone Viral

One day, Miles and I were disagreeing about the state of his facial hair. I told him that I wanted him to shave it for family pictures before it got too bushy and out of control. He informed me that he had no desire to shave it and that he "couldn't" because he and his friends were growing "Christmas beards." Oh please. Christmas beards. This man has a beard on his face practically 360 days out of the year. As we couldn't come to an agreement, Miles suggested we leave it to our many (many) near and dear (1000+) "friends" on Facebook to decide by voting on a poll.

Miles created a poll where people could vote for Miles to either Keep or Shave his beard. Within hours, friends and family members had shared the poll on their facebook pages requesting votes on this poll. (Some unfairly swaying voters by telling them how to vote...ahem *Mitchell, Marci, and Logan*). We decided to let the voting continue over the weekend and end on Monday at 5 PM.

Over the few days it was up, we got 155 votes and probably about 50 comments regarding his beard. It was hilarious because friends of friends of friends were voting and commenting. In some cases neither of us had any connection to the person. Sadly, I lost 62 to 93.

Here is the picture of his beard we posted on the poll. I can only imagine how bushy it will be by the end of the month. :(

Saturday, December 03, 2011

GO! Nakey Snake and Nursery

Owen loves riding toys - bikes, trains, cars, etc. Pretty much anything with wheels that allows him to scoot around. He is rather obsessed with them, and lately I have found him attempting to "ride" anything he can straddle. Case in point:

Once in position, he yells out "GO!"
The latest is this small box we had laying around (from when we thought we were moving). It's low enough to the ground that he can actually scoot himself around on it. It's so funny to see him pushing himself with his feet and hear a scraping noise all along the way. Luckily for Owen, when we go to CA for Christmas, he'll be inheriting TWO riding toys!

I suppose here would be a good time to mention that Owen *loves* to be naked (as pictured above). Whenever I change his diaper in the morning, he starts tugging at his pajamas and says, "Nay-nay! Nay-nay!" This is his request to be a "nakey snake" as I like to call him when he runs around in his diaper. It's super cute, but sometimes frustrating when I'm in a hurry to get him dressed and he runs off or starts fighting it big time when I try to get him dressed. I also worry now that it's winter that he'll get super cold. So I guess now I have a good excuse for keeping the heat at 72 during the day. :) Either way, he's pretty darn cute, running around like a nakey snake.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that Owen is now attending nursery! YAY! I am so happy about this. It makes me, Dada, and Owen all so much happier during church. We get to listen and enjoy our lessons, and Owen gets to play and interact with other kids. The first time I took Owen to nursery, I stayed in with him. Although, he seemed fine and I doubt he would have cared if I had left. But it was nice for me to see how things go during those two hours.

He has only been a few other times since then, and has been so good! I can get him interested in a toy and leave without any tears or fuss. And whenever I return, they tell me that he was great. Last week I asked how he was and they said, "He's so good. He just goes with the flow. If someone takes his toy, he doesn't cry. All our regulars are crying and he stands there like, 'What's the deal?'" I love it. Owen really is a good boy and I'm so proud of him. :)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

My Pretty Princess?

Poor Owen...he has to endure me dressing him up like a pretty, little girl. Ok, it's not really that bad...Or maybe it is. In my defense, Owen is the one who wants to dress up. I just help him out a little bit.

How to make a pretty princess

First, you start by doing your hair:
Next, you step into a nice pair of heels, or some cute flats (clothes are optional):Then you accessorize:And finally, the finishing touch - the tiara:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First haircut

Even though I was strongly opposed to cutting Owen's hair (I love his little whispies and the baby-ish feel they give to him), I decided he needed a little trim, as some of the hairs on the side and back were getting a little out of control.
I definitely had mixed reviews on getting it done. On one side (Dada, Mitchell, Marci, etc.) they were shouting for a hair cut. On the other (Me, both Grandmas, Kim, etc.) they were saying not to get it cut. But I did it. I took him to get his first haircut by Miles's cousin's wife, Annelise. And while I think she did a good job, I'm kind of sad about it. And for the record, I only cried on the inside.

Owen is not a fan of having towels wrapped around him, so she did it without anything (resulting in baby, fine hairs all over Owen's clothes, the chair, and floor).He was also not a fan of sitting on the chair for long, so I pulled out the big guns (a dum-dum). It worked for a little while, but he kept wanting to share it with Sophia. So we moved into the front room so they could be distracted by watching Tangled. He was pretty good after that.
Here is the result:
While they were watching the movie, Sophia was patting and playing with his hair. It was really cute. Maybe she's a hair stylist in the making?
And some pictures I took after his nap:
I asked her not to cut it too short and to keep it longish in the front so he would still look like my baby. I think she did a good job. Thanks, Annelise! :D

Housing Drama

Back in September, Miles and I were searching for some homes on the MLS site. We saw this awesome home up for short sale for a great price. However, Miles found out it was already under contract. A couple weeks later, he discovered the deal had fallen through due to the buyers not getting approved for their loan. We went out to look at the house on my birthday. It is amazing.

Here are the stats:
5100 sq feet
3 floors
Main and second floor finished (3100 sq ft)
Basement with walk-out unfinished (2000 sq ft)
6 bedrooms, 3.5 baths
Very large master bedroom with *huge* walk-in closet, and large master bath
Granite counter-tops
Laundry room
2-car garage with lots of extra storage space
Cold storage in basement
Etc, etc, etc.

Here are some pictures.

I liked this shot with Owen running through the kitchen. I loved the dark wood flooring. Obviously the teal cabinet would need to be taken care of...

A view from further back. I really love the archways.
Facing the other way into the living room area. The door leads to a deck outside and view of the golf course.The spacious master bedroom with a door to the master bath.The super amazing, huge master closet. You can't really appreciate the size from this shot.
Pretty much it was an incredible price for the square footage and over all home package. We decided to put an offer in right away. Unfortunately, we got thrown into having a real estate agent pushed on us. We wanted to do it without one to save on closing costs, but they told us we "couldn't" do that and that the bank "would NOT" work with anyone who did not have an agent. So we went ahead and accepted an agent from the seller's agency. This agent of ours, however, failed to get our offer in quickly enough. Therefore, another offer came in just after ours and before either had been sent to the bank. They told us we should revise our offer to our "best and highest" offer and they would decide between the two. So we did. We went with asking price (knowing it had been pre-approved by the bank) with the sellers paying 6% closing costs. After some anxiety-ridden days, we found out they were taking our offer to the bank.

We figured everything would move fairly quickly since the bank had already approved a very similar offer before. Also, we thought they would be incentivized since we told them we could close before the end of the month (October). However, we didn't hear from them for quite a while and it wasn't until we were in the middle of our trip to London that we got the "your offer has been accepted" email. We were really happy and excited to move forward when we got home.

Once we were home, we proceeded with the home inspection. The results were pretty much what we expected. There was a *lot* of little things that needed to be taken care of, with the possibility of a few extras we weren't expecting that would cost a bit, but not too much. We were still pretty comfortable with the situation, and knew we would just need to put a little work and elbow grease into making our home functional and just the way we wanted. However, the inspector also noted some "sloping" in a few rooms in the house and specifically in the master bedroom. In his report, he merely said, "Have someone come look at it, if it bothers you."

Miles and I talked about it, and we wanted to make sure it wasn't anything concerning. We figured it was most likely just poor workmanship due to when the house was build (between 2005-2007 during the housing boom when anyone who could breathe and stand on two legs was hired as a construction worker). A man came out to take a look and after a bit, he discovered that where the floor was sloping in the master bedroom along one wall between the bedroom and bathroom and bedroom and closet, that it was a load-bearing wall for the outside wall to the second story. By doing some investigation downstairs in the basement, you could see that they had not built the proper supports for this wall from below, causing it to slowly slope downward by about an inch over the past five years.

Here is a picture showing where the top plate was missing going across the top. Instead there are some small pieces of plywood, which is not enough to support the upper 2/3 of the home.
We informed our agent and asked for an extension with the bank on our due diligence deadline. During that time (when our agent was worried that we might not go through with the offer) our agent went in to assess the problem and hired someone to "fix" it. He sent us some pictures showing where they were missing some of the supports in one area and had had them put in. In his mind, all was well.

This was his "fix."
However, Miles and I were feeling wary about moving forward not knowing if there were other structural concerns. Finally, Miles spoke with an engineer who stated he would only be able to sign off on the areas he could see (basically the unfinished basement) and if there were any other areas of concern, he would have to cut into the sheet rock to determine if the structure was sound. Obviously we couldn't go cutting into a home that was not ours, and we were not confident that the bank would work with us, as they had already said they would be unwilling to change anything about the offer and what they would put up from their side to fix these problems.

After a lot of talking and praying, we decided to bail at the last minute on the house and rescinded our offer. It was a really hard decision, but seemed like the most logical and wise choice to make. Honestly, the house might be just fine. However, we just didn't feel comfortable going in with concerns of structural problems that could cause major problems down the road.

It's been hard for me. At one point in all of this mess, I had already started packing, believing that everything would work out just fine and we were moving within the next couple weeks. I had to unpack those boxes and realize that my visions for *four times* as much space to work with were coming to a close. I definitely grew emotionally attached to the home and all the possibilities. It's also depressing looking at the housing market again because most homes just don't compare in price per sq ft and in how new and nice they are. However, I have to remind myself that we will find something better for us, without structural concerns, and that will be good for our family. I just have to be patient and our dream home will come along....