Fool-proof way to pack for a trip

Categories: Featured, How To, Life, Random, With the Kiddos

Random Giggles: How to Pack Kids for a TripWe recently took a 10 day, 9 night, 4 hotel room, 3,000 mile, 52 hours in the car road trip. We are 2 parents, 1 pre-schooler, and by the time we got home 2 full-time toddlers (Shimri and Shimei both decided walking is their thing while we were gone). You can imagine how much we packed into our van.

The basics included 2 pack-n-plays, a double stroller, a baby carrier, 3 high chairs/booster seats with 3 folding chairs to put them on, 2 camp chairs, diapers and wipes, food, books, toys and games, cameras and computers, pillows and blankets, and of course clothes.

I packed clothes for myself for that long in a carry-on sized bag and Brett did the same. My problem was how to pack the kids’ clothes. Because their clothes have a lot less mass and volume there is greater chance of them getting all mixed up and jumbled if left loose. And the internet’s suggestion to put each outfit for each kid for each day in a ziplock bag was going to be way too many bags for me. So I figured out something better and cheaper. And as a bonus, it worked out that without having to ask, Brett knew what each kid was supposed to wear each day too.

I started by laying them all out on the floor, in order, and lined up next to each other. Iddo likes to match Shimri whenever possible and I like when Shimri and Shimei coordinate so seeing everyone’s clothes together helped. I made sure each kid had a full outfit for each day and then started bundling them up.

Laying out the clothes

Instead of putting each bundle in a bag, I rolled them up and put an elastic band around each bundle. I tucked a slip of paper with the child’s first initial and date for that outfit in the elastic. Then I just put the clothes for all three kids, in reverse order, in a carry-on.

The pockets of the carry-on held spare clothes on case someone got sick, hats, and swimsuits.

It was super easy. And since a lot of the elastic bands came free with newspapers and produce, a lot cheaper than 30 ziplock bags.

If I figure out an easier way to pack the rest of this, I’ll definitely let you know.

But not the kitchen sink

Laundry Day

Categories: Happy Things, Life

I love the smell of laundry dried outside. It has a crispness to it that makes it feel that much cleaner. And I don’t care how much a laundry product says it makes your laundry smell like sunshine or fresh air, it pales in comparison to the real thing. It’s like the lotion I had as a kid that said it smelled like citrus blossoms and I couldn’t understand why that was supposed to be a good thing because the lotion didn’t really smell that great. And then I smelled real citrus blossoms and the scent was pure heaven, and absolutely nothing like the lotion when I was little. The real thing is always so much better.

So on days like today when it’s in the 90s (thankfully not the 100s, yet) and there’s a good wind blowing, it’s nice to have a line up for laundry day. Our sheets will be heavenly to fall asleep on. And they make for a great treat to play with for the toddler. Her laughs and smiles add an extra level of freshness to our laundry.

Around! Through!

Happy Laundry Day!

Looks familiar

Categories: Exercise, Family

Last night I took Shimri and Shimei out with me on my run while Brett took Iddo with him while he donated blood. We met back at home for pizza for dinner. I finished up my run and as I was walking around the block to cool off I looked down. What I saw looked very familiar to me. And it made me smile.

19 December 2014
5 May 2016

I love our kids. :D

How to Make a Sibling (or two)

Categories: Family, Health, Infertility

Since we brought them home a year ago today, it’s time for the exciting conclusion to “How to Make a Baby“…

Breastfeed like a woman possessed to hold off ovulation as long as possible because you want your daughter to get breast milk for at least a year and you know that as soon as you ovulate you need to stop breastfeeding and get back to IVF if you are going to beat the endometriosis and be able to get pregnant again since you can’t breastfeed while taking the medication you’ll need to.

Pay rent on the freezer space where your remaining children are waiting.

Manage to hold off ovulating till a week after your daughter’s first birthday. Spend one emotional, awful week, for the whole family, stopping breastfeeding.

Have your seventh IVF transfer on a Saturday morning while your daughter is in the baby carrier on your husband’s back, protesting missing her nap, before leaving town immediately after for a week. Lose your first embryo to the freeze when one of the three doesn’t come through the thaw.

Feel like you are cuddling three of your children that night in the hotel while you are rocking your daughter to sleep. Have pregnancy symptoms a week later on your way home. Get a possible faintest positive ever on a home pregnancy test but get a complete negative on the official blood draw five days later.

Tell yourself that if the next transfer doesn’t work you will wait till the next year and do surgery and a retrieval one more time so you can still have hope. You’re not ready to just have one child yet.

Have your sister in town when it’s time for transfer number 8 the following month. Meaning your daughter can stay with her instead of coming to the appointment this time. Joke with your sister that you couldn’t get pregnant without her.

Go for a 6 mile run before the appointment so you can get your long run in for the week and still take it easy for the rest of the week after the transfer.

All four embryos survive the thaw and decide to transfer all four because that’s what it took to get your one daughter. Make more jokes about the embryos having your husband’s nose.

Start spotting one week and one day after the transfer when you get home from a 3 mile run. Don’t realize that will be your last run for almost a year. The spotting doesn’t stop.

Start to feel woozy, a lot. Spend days feeling like you’ve spun around and are dizzy and just about have your balance back but not quite.

Wake up 6 days before the official blood test and decide you are going to use an at-home test because this wooziness has to mean something but decide not to tell your husband you are going to test so you can surprise him with the news at a later date like normal fertile women do. Except he senses your nervous mood when you get out of bed and asks you when you get back what the test said. Positive!

When you do get in to the doctor for the blood test wonder if you misheard the levels when he tells you they are 2,400 and wants to reschedule your first ultrasound for three days later instead of the following week. If you did hear him right that number is three times higher than it was with your daughter. That’s kind of high.


See three gestational sacs at the first ultrasound, three heartbeats at the second. Google the odds and then decide to just take it one day at a time rather than dwelling on the possible negative of losing any of them. Send a video to our friends and family of our daughter looking at the ultrasound pictures saying “Hi babies,” which happens to be her favorite thing to say at the time. Have everyone reply back asking if they were correctly hearing plural.

Have the spotting turn to bleeding. Lots of it. With big clots. And only find two heart beats at the next ultrasound. Bleed for 11 more weeks, 15 total, sometimes enough that you fear you’re losing a second one, as your body tries to figure out if it is pregnant or miscarrying. Continue to see the tiny, still baby at ultrasounds for 2 more months, a reminder of what almost was.

Get frustrated that your insurance has decided you are taking progesterone for a chronic condition and need to now get prescriptions for 90 days or pay full price when you only need it for 2 more weeks. Spend far too long on the phone making your case. Eventually get it straightened out and get a waiver to get just the amount you need rather than what they wanted to make you pay for.

Nausea. Waves of it. Hitting day and night. Rhinitis of pregnancy making it difficult to breathe. Snoring. Swelling. Dehydration but water makes you sick.

Have your husband confuse Braxton Hicks contractions with the Higgs Boson particle (they both have words that start with H and B, it’s understandable) throughout the pregnancy, again. Have him be the most awesome husband in the world as he takes care of the toddler and cleans the kitchen every night because while it looks like you are just sitting on the couch all the time, growing two tiny humans is hard.

Make a subtle announcement at the church Halloween party by wearing this shirt and watch people’s faces as they try to figure it out.

Try going for a walk one afternoon only to get .25 mile from home and have to stop and sit on the curb and wait for your husband to come home and pick you and the toddler up off the side of the street because if you move any further the bleeding is really going to pick up again. So much for exercising through your pregnancy. Officially be diagnosed with an SCH the next morning. At least now the doctors have a name for all the bleeding you still have going on.

Nausea lessens. Exhaustion takes over. Utter, complete exhaustion. Itch so bad you start to consider a saguaro as a potential scratching post. Don’t get a chance to say good-bye to your ankles before they disappear.

Have more ultrasound, doctor, and other monitoring appointments than you want to count. Sometimes more than one a day on average. Have a few physical therapy appointments thrown in for good measure but don’t experience near the pelvic separation you had with the previous pregnancy. Bring two Christmas cards to the anatomy scan and have the tech write the sex of the babies in each card. Bring the cards home and put them on the Christmas tree. Open them that night after dinner. Know immediately, and independently, exactly what each baby’s name will be. Share the results with everyone else on Christmas day.

Meet with a genetic counselor because some issues have come up in your husband’s family and have his chromosomes checked. Be pretty sure this will be the only time he’s ever referred to a specialist by an OB. Get a kick out of the picture of his chromosomes you get in the mail and laugh about how he’s supposedly “normal” and how disappointed the genetic counselor was that this wasn’t going to be an exciting case.

Try explaining to the toddler that just because your belly looks like a nice little seat doesn’t mean she can sit on it. Wish you could tell the difference between the babies’ heads and butts as they are moving around. Really wish Shimei would stop kicking the same place on your left ribs so the bruise he’s given you will heal.

Read in a book that at 24 weeks with a multiples pregnancy you are supposed to stop bending as much as possible, and that includes the bulk of household cleaning. Have an amazing friend that very week tell you she’s coming over every week from here on to clean whatever in your house needs to be cleaned. Thank God for her on a regular basis.

Pregnancy dreams. Whoa!

Hold on to every moment because you know you will never be pregnant again. Cherish the feelings of having new life move and grow inside and the promise those movements hold. And prepare to cherish every moment after.

Tour the NICU “just in case” and leave almost in tears of relief knowing that if it’s needed they will be in excellent hands.

Trade in your 11-year-old sedan. Buy a mini-van. A silver one. Name it Cumulo because every cloud has a silver lining. Love all the new features and buttons your old car didn’t have. Have the car salesman refer to the babies as your “passengers” when you’re on the test drive. Also check out some new wheels at Sam’s Club when you use the motorized cart during your monthly trip and discover those things have a pretty incredible turning radius.

Take so long rolling out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom that your husband wakes up, goes, and comes back before you get up completely. Decide that if he’s going to be getting up anyway the least he can do is help push you out of bed every night.

Have your daughter bring home a stomach bug from church and give it to you. Be unable to keep anything down and have to go to the hospital for a few hours of monitoring, IV fluids, and anti-nausea meds.

Crave a big bowl of fresh, cold fruit. Darn you gestational diabetes!

Get completely and utterly fed up with everyone asking when the babies are going to come. The babies haven’t told you so why would everyone expect you to know? They’ll get here when they get here and the longer they’re inside the better. You aren’t in any hurry. Besides, you look awesome as a pregnant lady!

Since you aren’t in labor yet, take your daughter to the park Saturday afternoon. Enjoy watching her and your husband play on the slides together. Sit on a park bench and take a photo with her at 5pm before coming home to cook dinner. Almost burn your belly on the stove because it sticks out so darn far now. Decide that since there isn’t the danger of pre-term labor now that you are passed 38 weeks you’ll not worry about starting labor any more. Wake up at 3am to contractions 20 minutes apart.

At 6am decide the contractions aren’t going to slow down and you should shower and braid your hair so it will be out of the way. Realize your fingernails are about 2 days away from being long enough to annoy you and take the time to trim and file them. Go to church. Hope you can make it through all the meetings so everyone won’t see you leave and start to gossip. Realize during the sacrament that your contractions are lasting at least a minute each and are between three and four minutes apart and have been for about an hour. You aren’t going to make it through all the meetings. Casually walk out in the middle of the meeting. Go home. Change clothes. Pack the last minute items. Take a photo of your family of three. Head to the hospital.

Have your husband tell you that you look better when you are in labor than when you are passing a kidney stone. Get checked in at the hospital. Request the same labor room you used for your daughter. Get all hooked up to the monitors. Get your first dose of antibiotics and then just wait around watching the clouds out the window for four hours till they can give you the second dose. Get the second dose. Have the doctor break your water. Start to wonder if they’re going to get you to the OR (where all twins must be born regardless of entry point) in time because DANG Baby Girl is coming now!

Twenty-four hours after taking a photo at the park with your toddler take a photo of your husband dressed in his OR jump suit. Wow things can change fast.

Agree with the nurses that it would be funny if they had to push you down the hall and through the bi-monthly Sunday afternoon tour of the labor and delivery unit. Have them wait a few minutes so they don’t have to do that. Yell “PUSH!” repeatedly when they do start to actually push you down the hall because that’s what your body is doing and there is no stopping it.

Arrive in the OR and get set up just in time for Baby Girl to come into the world pretty much all on her own. Have them put her on your bare stomach and marvel at the incredible miracle that she is. She’s beautiful!

But it’s cold in the OR and things aren’t going well for Baby Boy. Have a nurse and your doula take her back to the labor room to wait for you.

Stare at the ultrasound machine with more intensity than you ever have as they try to find Baby Boy’s heart beat. Pray without words, because there are none at a time like this, that they find it and he is still alive. Find it. It’s too slow. He needs to come NOW. Have your body decide it already delivered a baby and it’s all done for the day please call again later.

Get pushed across the hall to a different OR and feel them start to put iodine on your belly while the anesthesiologist tells you to just breathe. Yea right! Scream so they know you are still awake and don’t start cutting yet. Yell to your husband that you love him as they close the door. Feel the pain of the anesthesia as it burns through your arm and knocks you out.

Wake up and announce their names. Hold your two babies. Two. They’re both here. They are beautiful. They are amazing.

Have Grandma bring your daughter the next morning to meet her siblings and watch as she is in quiet awe of them as well, so soft and gentle, so loving. Your three children all together.

Every shot.
Every appointment.
Every disappointment.

It was all worth it.

13-_MG_3277 IMG_6103

The Infertile Mother

Categories: Family, Infertility

Three kids call me Momma (or some form of it). I often even refer to myself in the third person that way.

I push a double stroller behind a toddler who is getting incredibly fast on her balance bike as we go to the park every week and play on the slides and swings.

I drive a mini-van. And I love it. It’s the best car ever!

I spend 2 hours at the children’s museum every Tuesday afternoon.

I change diapers, lots of them, all day long.

I pack sippy cups and a mix of Cheerios and Craisins with us wherever we go. And diapers. Always pack the diapers.

I have stretch marks and a c-section scar.

I step over toys and blocks and books all day long, helping children pull them out and put them back, all day long.

I have a large portion of Sandra Boynton’s board book collection memorized and her “Blue Moo” CD on repeat in the afore mentioned mini-van.

I filled a large jar with at least 200 syringes.

I have two sets of laparoscopic surgery scars.

I have folders upon folders of medical documents and especially medical bills. Which means I also have little faith in the insurance company to get it right the first time.

I have photos of 8 groups of embryos, representing 8 IVF attempts.

I have stacks of ultrasound photos, of not just the three kids who call me mom, but of two who never will.

I have a quick answer for most of the “innocent” comments people make or the questions they asked about when we were going to have kids and now if we are going to have more. Because the comments and questions hurt. Sometimes they still do.

I have endometriosis. And for us that means we are one of the 1 in 8 couples who have infertility.

I am a mom. But I am an infertile mom.

Having children does not change my medical diagnosis. But rather my medical diagnosis makes our children just that much more of a miracle.

Funny Dinner

Categories: Food

On April 1st we had a “funny dinner.” We made meatloaf cupcakes and “frosted” them with mashed potatoes and then had frosted cupcakes (made to look like mashed potatoes) and chocolate cookies (that were supposed to look like meatloaf, and did, kind of, from a distance) for dessert. Iddo helped me mix up the cupcakes and smashed the crackers needed for the meatloaf and then this girl who refuses to eat almost all meat except bacon ate an entire serving of meatloaf. She handed Brett all of her mashed potatoes, one bite at a time, though. She thought dinner was funny even though she doesn’t understand the joke of it and has asked for funny dinner every night since. We’re definitely putting this one on the calendar again for next April Fool’s.

Our funny dinner.

Tomorrow your life will change

Categories: Family, Life, Relationships

Last night I was thinking about how it was ten years ago today that Brett and I met face-to-face for the first time and went on our first date. I was wondering what I’d been doing the night before our date and if I really had any idea how much the next day would change my life. And then I realized that wasn’t quite true. That first date didn’t drastically change my life. Not on its own anyway. There was nothing about that date that was really dramatic. It was definitely a good date, which was why there were more. But it was not “life changing.”

As I thought about how not-life-changing that date was I realized there haven’t really been any huge life-changing events in our relationship where everything suddenly changed. Not even getting married. Instead there have been hundreds and thousands of little moments that have built up to the slow changes that brought us to where we are now, 6.5 years of marriage, three kids, three more graduate degrees than when we started, medical issues, travel, excitement, and even some rather dull moments.

Huge life-changing instants are rather rare. Win the lottery – life-changing instant. Tragic car accident – life-changing instant. Victim of an act of terrorism – life-changing instant. I can’t think of any example of a life-changing instant that isn’t the result of the randomness of the universe. And most of the examples I can think of aren’t pleasant either.

Ten years ago my life did change. But it was in a small, imperceptible way. Just like will happen to me tomorrow when something changes my life in another small way. And maybe in another ten years I’ll look back and realize what a difference it made. Or maybe in another ten years I’ll look back and won’t remember if it was a day I washed diapers or not. (But if I don’t wash the diapers tomorrow it will change the lives of several other people in our house as well.)