Saturday, August 31, 2013

Photo-A-Day Challenge {Part 2}

I wrapped up my photo-a-day challenge today! (Hosted by Mary @ Tall Mom, tiny baby)

It's been a fun month of photographizing and instagramming.

And though I am still excited about the idea of hosting my own photo-a-day challenge here on this blog, I think I need a little bit of time off from freaking out over what my photo-of-the-day will be around 9pm every night.

So here are my last 17 photos of August. Enjoy!

Day 15 - yellow
My bright yellow purse!
(Purchased off the sale rack at J. Crew - SCORE!)

Day 16 - the letter A
The letter A is for "aflame" and "appetite" and "Asian." I
love me some hibachi. It's even better when you enjoy it
with a good friend.

Day 17 - simple
Plain and simple - I love my job. Spent all day
at a youth retreat and enjoyed every awkward
teen moment of it. 

Day 18 - fresh
Nothing better than a fresh, made-with-no-preservatives
birthday cake. (This picture may look familiar.)

Day 19 - messy
Spent the night with John and the in-laws in downtown
Memphis. We eventually found our way to messy old Beale
Street to listen to some live jazz at the Rum Boogie Cafe.  

Day 20 - colorful
The sunset on Johnny's birthday.

Day 21 - lunch
Arrive at work by 12:00pm, eat my working lunch by

Day 22 - on the shelf
My mother-in-law gave us a few old framed pictures of John
as a precious baby. This one's on the shelf in our bedroom,
only because it's just so darn cute!

Day 23 - smile
Cheesy smiles for complementary outfits :D

Day 24 - faceless self portrait
Red hair, don't care.

Day 25 - quiet
Went to all masses this weekend to hand out flyers and
attract new members to the youth group. This was in the
narthex at the 7:30am mass during communion, the mass
with no cantor or organist. So quiet, so peaceful. I could
only hear the drip, drip, drop of the baptismal font.

Day 26 - entertainment
Harry Potter & My Favorite Goofball - my
entertainment for the evening.

Day 27 - funny
Ok, so I thought the pic of the day was supposed to be
"happy." But apparently it was "funny." That perfectly
curled froyo is kinda funny, right?

Day 28 - words
Lots of words and rules involved in learning a new game -
Catan Dice Game.

Day 29 - staying cool
I didn't actually go for a late night swim, but this is what
our apartment pool looks like at night. Pretty cool.

Day 30 - joy
Wedded bliss.
(Wedding photography by my brother, Matt Ferrara)

Day 31 - big
Picked up this massive 10-lb pork butt tonight after mass.
The Knights of Columbus were selling them as a fund-
raiser. It was love at first bite. And now we have about
6 more pork dinners stored up in the freezer. SCORE!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Party Like A Superhero

My sweet husband turned 30 last week.


A week or so before he said to me: "I'm going to be 30. Cavemen didn't even live to be 30."

Not quite sure I fully understood what he was going for there, but I chuckled. I think maybe he's feeling old? 

A month or so before he said: "Let's not have a party or anything. A party is too much work. Let's just go out to eat, you and me. Something romantic."

"Sure, kiddo," I said. But, ohhhhhh, I'm a sneaky wife. I just had to plan a party! I mean, 30 is a big deal, right? It needs to be celebrated properly. He needs to be celebrated properly!

And what better way than with a super-hero-themed surprise party? 

I messaged a handful of our older church friends (who have taken us under their wings since we moved to Memphis... we think of them as our Memphis parents, they're just so good to us!) and asked if I could use one of their houses for the big celebration. And they said yes!

Then I called his parents to see if they could make it out for the surprise. They said yes too! They live about 8 hours away, so a visit from them is a big, awesome deal! We decided to tell him they'd be visiting so he could get the most out of their time here. But the rest stayed a surprise.

It took about a month to get the whole thing put together: from invitations, to decorations, to menus, shopping, and set-up... let's just say, there was a bunch of love that went into it. And even more lying. 

I have never lied to my husband so much. I mean, you have to in order to throw a surprise party. But it felt so weird. And I almost gave away the secret about a million times. Not because I wanted to, but because I'm so used to telling him everything. I caught myself one night almost telling him about some of the decorations I had purchased earlier that day. Shhhhh, Stephanie! The thrower of the party can't ruin the surprise! Hold it together.

We made it to the day of the party and I told him one last lie - that I had to drive an hour away to clean up after a diocesan youth retreat I had been on the day before. In reality, I was just down the street setting up decorations, creating a photo booth, cutting avocados, and putting out the ladder golf. Sneaky, sneaky.

In order to get him over to the surprise party house, I told him that our friends had invited us and his parents over for dinner. He totally bought it too, because when his parents lived here in Memphis several years ago, they were really good friends with the lovely folks hosting this little surprise party. There was nothing out of the blue about them inviting us all over for dinner.

We pulled up and he didn't even question the bajillion cars outside their house. He thought our friends had invited a little bit of a crowd for our dinner. I love my gullible boy.

So we walked into the house and...


I think he was more confused than surprised.

After he figured out that all the people were there to celebrate him, the birthday boy ended up having a most wonderful time! 

He wore a handmade superman cape the whole evening, played ladder golf, ate some of his favorite foods: hot dogs and french fries, blew out candles on a most delicious irish car bomb cake from Muddy's Bake Shop, hung out with good friends, played a silly and hilariously inappropriate card game, took photo booth pictures, and even got to hand out ice cream from an ice cream truck that our friends rented for him for an hour. 

That boy sure was celebrated! 

He said the whole thing just made him feel so loved.

And to that I say, with a big smile on my face, "Mission Accomplished." 

Some of the decorations.

Cake & wall of photos from his birth to today.

30 years of SuperJohn in the making.

"A preview of John's 40th bday."
I hid this little gem in the corner. (Made using the BaldBooth app.)

Waiting to surprise my birthday boy.

More surprisers in waiting.

Right after the surprise, the ice cream truck pulled up!

The birthday boy serving ice cream to his guests.

Guests hanging out by the ice cream truck.

Enjoying some ice cream and balloooons!

The hot dog topping bar, or as I called them... wonder dogs.

Irish Car Bomb Cake - chocolate Guinness stout cake and Bailey's
buttercream icing. SO. GOOD.

Blowing out his 3 candles (duh, one for each decade).

And from the photo booth...


Friend and current seminarian. Please pray for him :)

Cape made with felt, fabric glue, lots of time, and lots of Stephi-love. Anything for my big 30-year-old superhero!
(But seriously, that S was hard to make!)


His parents, my in-laws, SuperMom & SuperDad :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Stephanie & John's Next Steps

My first hormone panel back in April went from several days before peak to several days after peak. Btw, peak = ovulation, just so we're all clear :) We found that my periovulatory (aka pre peak) estradiol (aka estrogen) was rather low. However, after peak, my estradiol and progesterone were within the normal range. Since low periovulatory estradiol can cause problems with ovulation, my doc recommended an ultrasound series to see if I was actually ovulating. After about 2 weeks of ultrasounds, it was confirmed that it does at least look like I'm ovulating. Hooray! Go ovaries!

Fast forward to early July. My doctor wanted me to repeat just the pre peak hormone panel, to see if the low estradiol was perhaps a one time thing. He called me yesterday to discuss the results. And the results were the same as last time. My periovulatory estradiol is still rather low. And that's still a bit odd, knowing now that I at least look like I'm ovulating (based on the ultrasound series).

So what does that mean? Where do we go from here?

I give you Stephanie & John's next steps:

1.) Doxycycline.

I mentioned before that I had endometritis, an infection of the uterine lining. My doc discovered this a few months ago when he did a biopsy of the lining. It's something that could interfere with fertility, so we wanted to clear it up right away. He put me on 2 weeks of an antibiotic (doxycycline) for treatment and within days I noticed changes in my cycle - my cramps were far less painful and there was no more brown bleeding at the tail end of my period. I was pretty pumped to see that! Though, within a month, the symptoms started to return. Bummer. I started to wonder if maybe John and I were passing the infection back and forth to each other. John has a few possible symptoms of infection too. I mentioned this to the doctor yesterday and he agreed it would be best for both of us to do a(nother) dose of the doxycycline to clear things up for (hopefully) good.

2.) Laparoscopy.

Ahhhhhh! Surgery!

Though I'm mildly (okay, moderately) freaked about this, I know it's for the best. I went ahead and told the doctor that we're ready for it. I'm ready for it. We're talking about possibly the end of September. Please, please pray for me!

During the surgery, he'll go in to my abdominal cavity with teeny tiny incisions and look around with a scope for signs of endometriosis (when the lining of the uterus grows in the wrong places). If it's found, he'll remove it (assisted by a robot - everybody do the robot dance for a second, k thanks) unless it's a severe case. In severe cases, another, more invasive surgery needs to be scheduled to remove the endo. However, he says it's rare that endometriosis is that severe. And if endometriosis is not found, at least we'll know that it's not part of the issue. The surgery has a 1 - 2 week recovery and should give us a better idea of what's causing our hormone and infertility problems.

While I'm under, they'll also perform a selective HSG, where they shoot dye into my fallopian tubes to see if they're blocked, and another biopsy to check for infection. Just more steps to help us figure out our infertility.

3.) Clomid.

After this current cycle with antibiotics (we can't TTC while taking doxycycline) and my next cycle with surgery (no TTC right after surgery I'm guessing), we'll start trying Clomid to help raise my estradiol levels during the pre-peak phase of my cycles. Clomid is typically used for patients that aren't ovulating - Clomid tells the body that it's not producing any estradiol (even though it is), thus helping your body naturally produce more of its own estradiol - but it can also be used for patients with lower-than-normal estradiol who are ovulating. I'll be on a low dose (25 mg on cycle days 3, 4, and 5) which will hopefully be just enough to put my estradiol in the normal range. I hear it can also cause increased emotional changes (AKA angerrrrr and sassiness and moodiness and grrrrrrrrr at the world), so I'll be extra careful to notice these changes and hopefully not take it out on anyone.

Acupuncture and diet modification (avoiding wheat/gluten) can also possibly help improve hormone levels, though we've decided to start with Clomid first.

4.) Home study.

Though all of our steps are designed to help us achieve pregnancy (and also to heal my less-than-perfect body), we know that doesn't necessarily guarantee pregnancy. Call us impatient, call us crazy, call us what you will... we're ready to be parents and we're ready to open all avenues that can get us there.

As all of you who know a bit about adoption are aware, adoption doesn't happen over night. Sometimes it can be a year or two of waiting, even after the home study is complete. Instead of trying for pregnancy for the next few years only to find ourselves still childless and then having to wait another year or two for adoption, we're going to work on both at the same time - achieving a pregnancy and opening our hearts to adoption. Honestly, even if we get pregnant tomorrow and end up naturally having a bunch of precious babies, we'd still be open to adoption. The more I read about it, the more I'm drawn to this beautiful, love-filled opportunity. As is my lovely husband.

For all yous guys out there who don't know anything about adoption - a home study is the first big step in making adoption happen. After the appropriate paperwork is filled out an sent in, an adoption agency sends a social worker to your home to look around and make sure conditions are safe and sound for baby. They will also conduct an interview with us to make sure we're in a good place to be parents (emotionally, physically, financially, etc.). After our home study is hopefully approved (which could take up to 6 months), we'll be ready and waiting to adopt. And the thought of that makes me very happy.


So there you have it, folks! This will likely be the plan for about the next 6 or so months. After surgery, Clomid is a 3 to 6 month thing, so if we're still not pregnant, we'll still have a handful of options - we can try things like the acupuncture or the diet modification or switching to Femara (an alternative to Clomid). We'll also (so long as all of our ducks are in a row) probably be approved to adopt by that point in time, so there will be plenty to look forward to.

Infertility can leave you quite hopeless at times, but as of right now, I'm quite alright with this plan :) Thank you, to God, to our awesome NaPro doctor, and to all our wonderful supporters out there, for getting us to this point. We are so blessed.

And now, I leave you with a teaser from John's surprise super hero themed 30th birthday party which took place this past Sunday. Expect a post with details and pictures soon...

Yes, he's wearing a cape.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Photo-A-Day Challenge {Part 1}

I'm currently about halfway through an August photo-a-day challenge on instagram. A friend from college, Mary, started hosting this photo-a-day challenge through her blog, Tall Mom tiny baby, a few months ago. I decided to jump on the bandwagon this month, and so far it's been fun.

Today I thought, "Why don't I share my loverly photos with my blogger friends?" I mean, it's an easy way to give you more glimpses into my pretty little life, right? So, here goes. For your viewing pleasure, I give you my first 14 days of August photos. Expect more as the month wraps up. And enjoy!

Day 1 - me
I'm on the far right, with my boy-ish bowl cut. (What was I
thinking?!) The rest of these cuties are my sibz. The littlest,
Jeff, would not stop crying during the photo shoot. Good 

Day 2 - daily routine
Snuggling up under my fave blanket after a good day's work
and eating a tasty home cooked dinner. (Fish tacos, duh.)

Day 3 - black & white
My best friend in black and white. Note the new glasses.

Day 4 - something old
Hard boiled eggs, nothing new 'bout that. But
topping them with Sriracha and actually baking
them instead of boiling them... that's how I keep
things egg-citing.

Also Day 4 - something old
Our youth group seniors, who are actually college freshman
now! We celebrated their graduation at our youth group cook
out this evening. Gonna miss those goobers. 

Day 5 - happiness
Homemade black bean and sweet potato enchiladas. (recipe)

Day 6 - your sky
Love the sunset palette.

Day 7 - pretty
The groom and groomsmen holding the bride's and bmaids'
purses while they were off hammin' and glammin' it up for 
the camera. Thanks, boys!

Day 8 - reading
Love me some sight reading and singing. Spent the evening
singing with our church's contemporary choir during rehearsal 
for mass.

Day 9 - upside down
I found my favorite candy at Kroger! And then I went to town 
creating this gem of a self portrait featuring said candy. Btw, 
does it have an official name? Gummy slices?

Day 10 - makes me smile
Cruising 'round town in the new car, wearing my fave $15
sunglasses, drinking delicious tesote from Las Tortugas. 

Day 11 - full
Full tummies after froyo night with the youth group.

Day 12 - shadows
One of my favorite photos from our wedding: a late-night
shot of the back of my gown. My brother is a photography

Day 13 - music
Serenaded late at night by the hubs. Yes, please!

Day 14 - texture
Love me some juice - apple, orange, carrot, ginger. Look at
that yummy texture!

If you follow me on instagram, these pictures will look familiar. :) If you don't follow me on instagram, but would like to, find me @stephschweitz.

Friends, would you participate in a photo-a-day challenge if I hosted one? Thinking about starting one, but only if you'd play along. What do ya think? 

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