A New Do!

So, how do I look? A little bit more colorful…. I like it.

As you can tell, I spruced things up a bit around here. Felt like I needed a change since I pretty much just picked out the first design I saw when I created this little site back in March.

Nothing much else going on today – but it is, according to Google, National Cat Day!! This requires Jas pictures, enjoy:wpid-wp-1446157569979.jpeg

Does this couch make my butt look big?

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Small Moments II

My troubles ovulating have been forefront in my mind lately. Perhaps it was the crashing hormones last week, or the fact that my follow-up GYN appointment got moved up three days and now I only have a week (only seven days!!!) to ovulate on my own. Whatever the cause, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Not so much in a negative light – more just wistful. Luffy, ever optimistic and supportive, reminded me to appreciate our time together right now. So this is a reminder for me, to embrace the joy in the small things that make our life wonderful right now.

Our friends who live in California were in Austin this past weekend. We decided to visit them while they were a three hour car ride, rather than a four hour plane ride, away. We packed up the car with a few essentials on Saturday morning, kissed Jas good bye, and headed out through the rain. We had some great meals and stayed out until the early morning hours. We drank whiskey and danced to 80’s hits (the bar we inadvertently went to was having an 80’s night, complete with costumes and music videos). We slept in to a shocking 8:30am and then took our time getting breakfast. We made it home in time to curl up on the couch with Jas (after she tried to convince us that perhaps it was dinner time? food? now? rowr?) and watch football.

We had a wonderful weekend and it’s definitely something we won’t really be able to do after we have children. I mean, I’m sure we’ll see our friends. I’m sure we’ll still travel and visit other places. But to pick up and go like that on a whim? Doubtful. To stay out until 2am like we’re in college? Probably not. To sleep in until a ridiculous 8:30?! From what I’ve heard, nope. So right now, while our only encumbrance is making sure Jas gets fed on time, I’ll appreciate being able to set off on our next adventure at a moment’s notice.

Two weekends ago, Luffy and I happened to get the bulk of our chores done on Saturday. Sunday dawned chilly and a little overcast – perfect weather to do absolutely nothing. Which is exactly what we did. We spent the entire day watching TV or reading or playing games without a care in the world. The house was quiet and peaceful. I appreciated being able to bask in the glory of having absolutely nothing urgent to take care of.

Beyond things like a quiet house or travelling without notice, I really, really appreciate the time I get to spend with Luffy. Just him and me. I know our relationship, the one between just the two of us, will continue to strengthen and grow in the coming years – regardless of what happens on the fertility front – but it’s also nice to just have each other to care for right now. And our little pumpkin Jas.

Just a little reminder, to anyone trying so hard to conceive and especially to myself, slow down. Grieve for the process that seems to go so smoothly for everyone else, but keep enjoying life. Keep finding those small moments.

To tough weeks and awesome partners

This week has not been easy for me.

I ended my last round of hormones on Sunday evening and have felt the effects of the crash and impending period all week. I’ve been emotional and weepy, inconsolably unhappy one minute and lusty and in love the next. The weather hasn’t helped; the past few days have been overcast and gray here in Dallas – a stark departure from the normally blue skies and crisp days of Fall.

I met another period (read another failed cycled) with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. Although, the day it started, I felt barraged by pregnancies (other women’s, of course) as I encountered a few pregnant friends and then the quintessential surprise-pregnancy-plot on TV. You know how it is, when you want something, suddenly you start seeing it everywhere.

Yesterday was particularly rough on me. The sky was gray. My wing of the office was deserted for lunch and the halls were quiet. I was reading a blog, cheerfully clicking through the pages, when a crushing wave hit me. I’m not really even sure what triggered it as I wasn’t reading about anything particularly triggering, but it was all I could do not to burst into tears. I thought about calling Luffy, but knew that I would lose it if I heard his voice. Instead, I reached out to him via Gchat and hoped he was available. He was. And he must have sensed the desperation behind my innocuous words because he stuck around, doing his best to cheer me up. He assured me that everything was ok – that we’re ok and I’m all right and he’s all right. That our future, no matter what it is, will be ok because we’ll be together. He then switched tactics and was bound and determined to make me laugh. He gave me his full attention for all the time he had and then made sure that I was really ok before going off to save the world probably put together some spreadsheets ASAP.

When I got home, he had gone to the store to surprise me with a dinner of wine and cheese – my favorite indulgence. Then we watched football as the weather turned nasty.

Dealing with fertility problems can feel so isolating. People don’t really talk about it much. (Not that I blame them because it’s not like I’m using my real name for this. The veil of anonymity makes me bolder.) It’s a depressing topic without any sort of concrete resolution and most of us have already researched everything we can, so we’re typically not even hoping for a solution from someone….. which means why talk about it in the first place, right? You’re just going to depress everyone, there’s no foreseeable happy ending, and no one can really offer any sort of advice. On top of all that, it’s an intensely personal topic. This is not something I’ve shared with any coworkers, obviously, and the few times I’ve spoken about it with friends have gone very poorly (either drunkenly blurting out exaggerated half-truths of I’m barren!!! or awkwardly trying to discuss cycles but not really TMI and my apologies to your husband whom I just met half an hour ago).

So with all that, I feel so incredibly blessed to have Luffy by my side – to have his support and encouragement. I’ve read several stories from couples claiming to have strengthened their bond while they dealt with infertility and I can see why now. Through the challenges and the uncertainty, Luffy has been there to pick me up and keep me stronger so that I can continue to be healthy in our quest for a child. And I can’t thank him enough for it.

TTC Guilt

Confession time: last month’s grand plan didn’t go quite as …. planned. I did not achieve the ambitious #cycelgoals that I set for myself (shocking!). Not even close. I still drank too much caffeine and a lot of fake sugar. Despite my sternest directives of you will ignore those delicious bottles of wine staring at you as you get dressed*, I still indulged in more glasses than I probably should have.

Le sigh.

I’ve just wrapped up another round of hormones and am waiting for my period to arrive. (Fun fact! Even though I am 99.999999999% sure that I did not even ovulate this month, today my brain took slight cramping, added that with my fatigue and a tiny bit of nausea, sprinkled in a dash of crashing hormones and VOILA! YOU MIGHT BE PREGNANT!!!11! OH EM GEE!!! U should totally pee on a stick tonight.) This is really and truly my last chance to ovulate on  my own before I’m placed on ovulation inducing meds. Now, more than ever before, I have that nagging, special type of guilt: TTC guilt.

What is TTC guilt, you ask? It’s that annoying whisper, in the back of my head, that tells me if you really wanted a baby, you would be able to go a month without diet soda or if you truly wanted to give Luffy a child, it would be an easy choice to drop alcohol for a month. So many small chastisements that ultimately boil down to: if you really want a baby, you should try harder and this past failed year is completely your own fault.

Some days, it’s easier to sweep that guilt out the window. As discussed before, I’m a very healthy person and two of my only vices are diet sodas and wine. I doubt very much that cutting out diet soda and wine would suddenly snap my body out of whatever anti-ovulation funk it’s in currently and produce a healthy, viable egg this month. I take a lot of steps to ensure that my body is healthy and ready for a baby, including supplements, vitamins, whole fat dairy, and plenty of water, rest, and exercise. Sodas and wine are not agents for the devil.

And other days, it’s a little harder. Why shouldn’t I be willing to drop my vices cold turkey? I really want a baby right? Why is it so hard to quit the bad habits that might be keeping that delectable baby out of my arms? I mean, I say that I’m making all of these sacrifices to keep up a “fertile” body, but honestly most of these things are stuff I already do. I’m not really trying that hard. Surely I could try harder. Be better.

I think a lot of this stems from something I touched on when discussing Belle Neurosis #2: I impose a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I’ve always naturally excelled at classes or hobbies. Those that I didn’t excel in, I dropped or I worked my ass off to turn my performance around. (A slightly braggy, yet on-topic example: in my first undergrad finance class, the professor very clearly said the test would be completely covered by his practice handout. I took this to mean exactly like the handout and was positively mortified as I sat through the first test and realized that I was woefully under-prepared. In tears, I announced to my mom that I had failed the test as soon as I got out. I ended up with a 68 (which, to me, was failing). So for the next test, I buckled down, studied until I could literally study no more, and came out with a fucking 104. I got every single question right, including the two bonus questions. drops mic. spikes football. does victory dance complete with pom poms and outfit. attempts celebratory cartwheel. injures self on celebratory cartwheel. puts cartwheels on list of things-to-never-attempt-again-OMG) In other words, I’m not used to not doing well and I’m especially not used to not being able to fix things I’m not doing well.

With most things in life, there are steps you can take to sort out a problem. No electricity at the house – call the utility company and then an electrician. Car not working – have it towed to the shop. Brother stops talking to you after fight – buy tickets to a baseball game and apologize profusely. If you want to get to C, you can start at A and travel through B. Or, perhaps, if B is blocked, you can reverse course and travel through Z and Y and X and W… you get my point. There are things you can do. And there are not any things I can do right now, nothing more than I’m already doing. Nothing more except waiting and hoping and waiting some more. And trying to hush the guilt.

*There is wine in my closet because you are supposed to store it in a cool, dark place and that was the only place that I could think of when I got my shipment in. So now it taunts me every evening when I take off my work clothes – all delicious and pretty.

Updates and random-pieces-of-information galore!!

So. Work. ‘Tis busy. Very busy. Capital B Busy. But! It’s been a while since I’ve updated and since I don’t have a topic in mind today, I present you a collection of slightly connected thoughts*.

*TBH, the only connection here is that they came from my brain…. so yeah.

Did you know that it is really challenging to find whole fat dairy in the grocery store? Particularly if you are hoping to find whole fat yogurt; it’s nearly impossible. Even yogurts that aren’t marketed as “low fat” or “no fat” are made with skim milk.

I read through the Mayo Clinic’s guide to fertility last week. They recommended adding whole fat dairy to my diet to improve the odds of successful ovulation (it was their only diet recommendation that was made based on a study, as opposed to “in general this is healthy”, so I feel like it’s a pretty legit recommendation). So I went out looking for whole fat yogurt to replace my lunchtime Greek yogurt. I got really lucky because my preferred brand of Greek yogurt actually sells a whole fat version in a large tub. It literally was my only option in the entire store. I picked up a tub and some individual plastic containers and thanked my lucky stars that I found it.

After two years of procrastinating, Luffy and I are finally going to fix an issue we have with a window in our living room. This particular window faces south. It has blinds, but it also has one of those half arch things over the top that is uncovered. During the winter months, the sun is positioned just right so that it shines down onto our TV in the morning and then shines directly on our couch (making that spot roughly 1,000 degrees) in the afternoon.

Since it really only affects the daytime, we first discovered this over Christmas break the first year we moved in. Our solution? Taping wrapping paper up there. We promptly took it down after our company left and I had grand plans of putting up curtains.

By last Christmas, had we put up curtains yet? (SPOILER ALERT!!!) No, we had not. Our solution? Taping wrapping paper up there. This time, we left the wrapping paper up for a couple of months (seriously, I’m 99% sure it was still up there in March). I still had grand plans for curtains, but kind of forgot about it when summer came and it was no longer an issue.

Two weeks ago, Luffy and I were getting ready to watch some football late Sunday and realized that the sunbeam was back. You’d think we’d learn our lesson as we acted all surprised like – what?! it’s back?! I thought we had a stern discussion with you last year!! (shakes fist at sun)

So I got serious about the curtain rod and looked up options and styles and whatnot. Then I realized that we might have a problem. You see, right above the arch of that window, our wall angles sharply up/in towards the ceiling (I’m not really sure what the purpose is either, but what are you gonna do??). There’s barely an inch of wall space above the window which means that it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever find a curtain rod that (a) fits, (b) looks halfway decent, and (c) is strong enough to support the curtains without a center bracket.

I’m a little bummed about it, to be honest. I really wanted curtains because I also wanted to get rid of the blinds. Little Jas would be able to get on the ledge in peace (right now, she just shoves the blinds out of her way, with as much grace as rhino walking through daisies). Plus, with our new wood floors, curtains just seemed so elegant and fancy.

Alas and alack. We’re going with one of those fixed blind fan things. We’re gonna pick it out this weekend and hopefully also install it. But, you know, the trip to the store alone might be all we have in us until next year. PROGRESS!

Whew – that was quite a long update for a “random” piece of information. Moving along!

I got THE cutest skirt at Banana Republic yesterday. THE CUTEST. Which makes me feel better when I also remember that I tried on approximately 25 pieces (they were having a 40%-50% off sale!!) and that skirt was the ONLY DAMN THING THAT FIT/FLATTERED.

Jas has taken up an adorable new habit in the evenings. Whenever I settle down on the couch to read or watch TV, she’ll hop up onto the back of the couch and get right behind me. Then she head butts me with her little head. If that doesn’t get my attention, she’ll pull my hair just a bit in hopes that I’ll reach up and pet her. Once I do, she’ll swish her tail across my shoulder a few times and pat my head with her paw, before settling down.

I have no idea why she’s suddenly decided that it’s a great method of getting my attention, but it is downright adorable and I hope she doesn’t stop.

SPEAKING OF TV… Luffy and I just finished marathoning HIMYM (it was my first time to see the series). I know, I know. I’m late to the party. But this means my only acceptable outlet is here….

WTF is up with that ending? Seriously?!?! Outrage! SMASH!! GRAWR!! 

The last season was so good (I felt that they had been kind of falling off their game in seasons 7 and 8, but recovered their rhythm in 9), and then they RUINED it in the last episode. Seriously. RU. INED. We finished it on Sunday and I’m still all worked up about it.

(But then we watched a youtube parody with Hitler ranting about the ending and it was hilarious and made me not as grawr-y)

All right, that’s all the updates I have time for today. Back to the trenches of work.

Can we talk about makeup??

So I have never been a girly-girl when it comes to hair and makeup. Shoes? Check, yes, many, many shoes in ridiculous, non-sensible fashions. Dresses? Check. Shiny things? Duh, of course, check. But hair and makeup? Not at all. I’m really not sure what happened along the line that got me here. I don’t have thick, long, “play-able” hair so I’m sure that has something to do with it. My hair is baby fine and thin, and has never done well at long lengths so has remained fairly short my entire life. I’m generally ok with this and get by on the same style pretty much every day (with my short bob this means blow dry and straightener – except when it was a little bit longer, in which case I did absolutely nothing and let it air dry and OMG I am so lazy).

Makeup though, I just don’t get. I danced throughout grade school and college, so I can do stage makeup, but every day makeup? Nope. I have two different eye shadow pallets, one magenta and one neutral. I have mascara. I have a tinted moisturizer. Oh, and I have a blush…… and that’s it. I don’t have foundation or veils or concealers or brow gels or blenders or angled brushes. I don’t contour or mask in any way. Now, I know this sounds kind of braggy, like, “oh I don’t do that, but clearly I’m not pelted with stones to excuse my heathen self from the room so I must be just fine without it!!” but hear me out.

One of my Facebook friends sells makeup and her feed’s pretty much been reduced to advertisements and how-to videos. I just watched one where she started with a clean face and applied a lot of different products (the video was over four minutes, even at a time-lapse) and ended with her “every day” face. My first reaction was a bit of repulsion because, seriously, I don’t even spend that long applying my own makeup, at a full speed version. But then, I thought to myself, she does look pretty good now. Some red splotches on her cheeks had been covered and she had concealed bags under her eye. Some contouring tricks had smoothed out her face and her lipstick looked amazing. Would I look better like that?

I always wonder, how little effort is too little effort? I’m still young, turning 28 in a few weeks, but at what point do my previous half-assed attempts not cover it anymore? At what point am I going to legitimately need more makeup? And will I recognize it? Or will I wander around at 30 or 40 or 50 with a mostly bare face and an extremely inflated opinion of said face?

Luffy’s no help because he is wonderfully and woefully unconcerned with physical appearance and what other people think. Which is great when I look like crap and he still thinks I look beautiful, but not so great when he suggests that a fancy restaurant will surely be ok with athletic shoes and a pony tail. Or when he opts for a nap in lieu of getting his hair cut before our wedding, true story.

For the past nine years, I had been comforted with the thought that I lucked into pretty great skin. I never had breakouts or even acne really, only an occasional small blemish that went away quickly. When I went off birth control last year, I found that the pill was helping my skin along more than I realized. It’s still nothing terrible, but, as I sit here today, I have four or five active blemishes and numerous marks from old ones that are still clearing up. So… is that a sign? An answer to one of my questions above? Have I passed that point? I hardly notice them, but do other people? And does that even bother me to begin with?

Honestly, it really doesn’t. I suppose the moral of this story is that I probably won’t change – even at 30 or 40 or 50. I’ll probably always be that woman who thinks a dash of mascara is getting myself all fancified. And even if that means I won’t be the loveliest 64-year-old in the room, I think I’m ok with that. Hey, at least I get to save those extra 30 minutes every morning, so I suppose there’s an upside.

Fair Food

So, remember a few months ago when I mentioned that my brother moved to the DFW area? I love having a family member so close now, but I also sort of forget he lives nearby. He, and his girlfriend, usually join us for Sunday lunches at Luffy’s parents’ house every two weeks, which is fun, but I forget that we can do other stuff together. So it was actually Luffy that suggested the four of us go to the State Fair together. Way to go, Belle at remembering that you have a little brother!

We decided upon this past Sunday. It was a beautiful day and the temperatures here in Dallas were down around 80, which is a miracle considering August and most of September was approximately 5,000 degrees (if I remember correctly, you know). I drove us all down and congratulated myself on avoiding traffic and then broke down because I had to park. I chose a paved lot (the guy waving the flag was very insistent that THIS was the lot we were looking for), paid my 20 bucks, and was then led off of the very nice paved lot, down an alleyway, to the back of a building, and a dirt lot. Boo. Plus, as we got there about an hour after the fair opened for the day, the lot wasn’t full and they were still creating rows and I was the lucky driver who got to create the next row and I spent damn near 5 minutes trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. (For the record, the guy wanted me to turn the car around and reverse into the spot so that I was back-bumper-to-back-bumper with the row behind me.) Anyway! It was fun. And also kind of shady. But that’s the all part of the State Fair experience!!

Now I don’t know about you guys, but once I outgrew the ride-riding phase of fair wonderment, I moved on to food. Going to the fair is all about the food now. Luffy and I scope out the best foods before we go and plan out which ones we want to try. This year, we were all about something called Cowboy Corn Crunch, which is what we sought out immediately upon arrival. It was delicious – little fried balls of cheese and corn and bacon and peppers. NOM. We also shared a turkey leg with my brother, downed fried queso balls before we even got away from the counter, and Luffy had to have a corn dog. My favorite dish, however, was the funnel cake fries. Yes! Funnel cake, in fry form. The vendor we got it from had the best batter too, with a bit of cinnamon, I think. Oh, it was so delicious.

Beyond the food, we walked the entire fair grounds. Saw lots of cars (the Texas State Fair is essentially one big car show) and enjoyed the antics of the game hawkers. We walked through the butterfly house and saw some snakes. Then we blew the last of our coupons on cotton candy (Luffy and I came away with two bags between us, my brother left with six!).

We left weary and on a slight sugar crash, but we had a lot of fun.

It’s only the second time I’ve been to the State Fair. To be honest, I really don’t enjoy going all that much. I mean, it’s fun. I like eating the food and walking around, but it can be such a beating getting down there. Traffic is always horrible, parking is dicey, and admission prices are steep. I guess I’m sort of lazy about experiences like that – I’d rather stay home and not deal with it all rather than go. Which is why I’m excited that my brother is here because he is not like me in that regard. I am positive we stayed much longer, and covered much more ground, because he was there (as opposed to just Luffy and me who probably would have eaten our way through the fair in two hours tops and then hightailed it out of there — assuming we even went in the first place). So thanks, little brother, for forcing me out of the house to create some precious memories. Next time, maybe I could just fry up some cheese in my kitchen though?? Thoughts?? I could even charge you for parking if that helps make it more realistic…