Monday, September 30, 2013

As worthless as that lemon-shaped rock

I was going to start this post out with something cutesy like "when life hands you a lemon, you make lemonade!"  But we all know I'm way too cynical for that sort of optimism, and that's on a good day.  This is obviously not a good day, or I wouldn't even be writing.  I've had a slew of good days, which is why I've gone over a month without writing.  This blog is my therapy and fortunately I haven't needed it lately.  That's all changed in the past week.  When we last left, Mannah and Mr J had just decided to start pursuing foster care options.  The fostering has been a depressing train wreck and I'll explain why.  I'll also say that this is going to be a very hard post for me to write because I'll have to admit certain things I'd rather not, but I've made peace with the past and if you choose to judge me for them, then that's your own problem.

So let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.  I was so excited to get started so I got my paperwork all in order very quickly, in fact the woman who did our house assessment even commented on how organized I was and how I made her job easier.  Yes, I am anal-retentive when it comes to paperwork, just ask anyone I work with.  We got off on a good start, the house assessment went well, but then they figured out we have rats (Who, by the way, are being adorable right now.  I bought them new treats last night and it is like the second coming of Christ for them.).  The case worker, for some reason, is not keen on us having rats and she was giving us ever excuse she could think of against the rats.  They could have rabies, or some other disease, they could bite children, the children could be allergic, just ridiculous stuff.  I think she honestly did not know the difference between wild and tame rats.  I was tempted to ask her if there is a difference between wolves and tame dogs because that's more or less the same comparison.  Anyway, I ended up getting an official letter from my veterinarian explaining that rats are safe and do not spread diseases to children and are, in fact, great pets to have around small children.  The problem is, I don't even know if she ever read this letter because the day after she received it, everything went to hell in a hand basket.

Last week, I called the case worker at 10am and left her a voice mail asking if she has received all my paperwork and if there was anything else I needed to mail in.  She didn't call me back until 4:30pm and left me a voice mail asking me to call her back before 5pm.  Nice, right?  Fortunately, I managed to get off work before 5 and called her back and she informed me that our application for foster care had been denied.  I was in complete shock and to be honest, for a split second I thought it was because of our rats.  She explained it was because of an old DHS investigation against me.  I don't want to explain too much of this, because it is confidential (and horrible) but yes, I was the subject of an investigation almost 3 years ago.  It was when I was working at a daycare and a parent thought she saw something that didn't happen so she called DHS and filled out a false report.  There was video surveillance in the classrooms at the time, which my director watched and determined I was not at fault so she didn't do anything.  But since there was a report filed, DHS was forced to come out and interview everyone.  I guess this parent was really pushy because DHS felt obligated to tell the daycare to fire me and they fined my director.  She started crying because she really didn't want to let me go, of course I was crying too because I was suddenly out of a job and I knew I hadn't done anything wrong!  The DHS worker never even bothered watching the tape, just took everyone's statements.

Anyway, what ended up happening is I was able to file a rebuttal, which I did, and then I never heard back from them.  This summer when I decided I wanted to work in daycare again, Mr J looked up the Joshua's List on the DHS website (which is basically the do-not-hire list and I would have been on it if the investigation had gone through) but I wasn't on it so I went ahead and applied and obviously got a job.  I told my director before getting hired about the investigation, just in case anything showed up in my background check, and because I believe in full disclosure.  I'm now wondering if that is the best policy.  So I told my director about not getting approved because all this crap is showing up again and she was livid.  She offered to call my case worker and explain that if the investigation was still open, she wouldn't have been allowed to hire me.  Which is exactly what I already told the case worker, but she didn't seem to understand that, but I suppose it would sound better coming from someone official like my boss.  So she called and left a voice mail on Thursday morning and of course has not gotten a reply yet.

I just don't even know what to do now, should I just pack it in?  Fortunately we haven't put any money into this endeavor, only man hours.  When we were getting so frustrated with the fertility treatments, it was because we had spent thousands of dollars.  I talked to my husband over the weekend and we decided maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to try again to get pregnant.  I'm beginning to think the tiny chance we have of getting pregnant is bigger than the miniscule chance we have of DHS changing their minds about us fostering.  The situation just sucks all around, and it is completely depressing.  Mr J commented last night about how well I'm handling all this and I told him I'm hanging on by a thread, one that could break at any given time.  It is true.  I'm having to compartmentalize my brain and only focus on one thing at a time, because if I start thinking about too many things, it might just explode and I'll lose it.

On another note, did anyone else watch the season premiere of The Simpsons last night?  It really pissed me off.  I love Homeland (which also wasn't that good last night), so I was interested to see their take on it.  But the characters were horribly written, as they have been for several years now.  The story was just stupid, again as it has been for awhile.  And the worst part was the stereotyping of race and mental illness.  It was like I was watching Family Guy or something.  I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'm about done with this show.  I'll just have to console myself with the old DVDs.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


My husband and I approach decision making and change very differently.  I make snap decisions and he likes to take his time with them.  Sometimes he can take weeks or even months to make a big decision, which drives me crazy!  I will yell at him, "Just make up your mind!"  I understand he is thinking it over logically, but in my mind, the solution should already be made.  Once we've arrived at a decision and we're making a big change, he goes with the flow and I push back.  This seems counter-intuitive.  Why do I make a snap decision to make a change but then get cold feet when it is time for the change to happen?  It might be the way my crazy mind works, it might be because I am just naturally resistant to change.  Who knows?  Fortunately, my husband knows I'm like this so when we're doing a big change, for example when we bought a house and moved across town last November, he built it up for a long time and prepared me for it.  We took it a little at a time and managed to keep our apartment for an extra week so we weren't all moved in at once.

Since this blog post is all about change, you've probably figured out I'm gearing up to tell you about a big change going on in my life right now.  We have decided to be foster parents, with the possibility of adopting later on.  I just spoke with our county DHS rep this morning and she is mailing me all our paperwork we need to get filled out and we need to go to the courthouse to be finger-printed so they can run a background check on us.  After all that is done, they will be doing a home check on us and an interview, to make sure we're not totally crazy and we actually have room for a kid or two.  Then after they approve us, and I'm just assuming they will, Mr J and I will have to take 27 hours of foster care training classes.  And I guess after that, we'll get a placement.  So hopefully we can get all this done by the end of the year and get a baby or child in January or so.

You might be wondering "What about all that fertility treatment you were doing?"  Well, we decided that stuff was way too expensive and invasive and it made me overly crazy anyway.  So we're not continuing with it.  Since we've been trying to get pregnant for well over a year, both with treatments and without, and nothing has happened, I'm going to just assumed it will not happen and move on.  Mr J and I have talked about this at great length and while we would love to have a biological child, it is not the end of the world if we can't.  It just makes so much more sense to put that money and energy toward helping a child who genuinely needs it rather than trying to get pregnant, especially when it wasn't even working.  And to prove to myself that I'm done with all this, I'm selling my infertility and pregnancy books today.  I posted them on craigslist on Monday and already have a buyer.  Hopefully they will work for her and I wish her the best.

I have grown a lot in the past year and a half.  I will be 31 next week.  I never in my life thought I would still be childless at 31, but here I am.  At least with fostering, I am guaranteed to get a child.  He or she won't look like me, but I've finally figured out that's really not that important.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Let's Get (Slow) Cooking

Disclaimer: I will be talking about specific brands and products in this blog post.  I did not seek permission from these companies to mention their brands, however all opinions are my own.  The pictures were simply taken from a google images search and the images belong to the company represented, not to me.

Let me start out by saying I adore my slow cooker.  I use it at least once a week, often more than that.  I would say the major reason why I love it so much is because I'm lazy.  I love being able to throw a few ingredients together before work and have a meal ready to eat when I come home in the evening.  Now I don't claim to be a great cook, in fact I know I'm just slightly better than mediocre.  Fortunately my husband will eat just about anything and call it delicious.  So I open a couple of cans of this and that, throw in some spices and add some meat and tada! I've got myself a meal.

I've asked around a few of my friends and found that almost everyone has a slow cooker but the problem is they don't really know what to do with it.  So it sits in a cabinet, collecting dust, and my friends instead cook a full meal every night.  Come on!  Break that baby out, dust it off and start slow cooking!  (And if you are one of the few who doesn't have one, I just checked and they have a nice 6-quart one for only $30.  Trust me, it is well worth it.)  The next most important thing you can get is your Reynold's liners:
These things are amazing.  They never quite fit into my cooker properly, but I just fold the extra edges over and it works out fine.  But they really work most of the time.  Occasionally they will leak and I'll have to wash out my cooker but for the most part, they hold everything in and there's only a small amount of condensation inside the cooker that I just wipe away.

The greatest part about slow cooking is you can get really creative with recipes.  I like to look up regular baking recipes online or in cook books and then just put it in the slow cooker.  As far as my experience has gone, if it fits in the cooker and doesn't require too much liquid, it will cook up just fine.  Soups, of course, being the exception.  You don't want to add a lot of liquid to your recipes because slow cooking releases liquids from foods anyway.  Example: if I'm feeling really lazy but know that I want some spaghetti, I'll put the frozen ground beef (extra lean because you won't be able to strain the grease out) and a jar of pasta sauce in the cooker all day.  Then just boil up some noodles, toss it all together and serve.  The general cooking time for frozen meats is about 8-10 hours on low.  I don't advise cooking frozen meats on high because they don't turn out too well.  If your meat is defrosted, you can cook it 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.  Basically until it looks done.

I recently discovered some new slow cooker sauces from Campbell's:
That's the only flavor I've tried, the Hawaiian Luau, which I made yesterday.  I defrosted a 2.5 lb pork loin, put it in the slow cooker and poured the sauce pouch over it.  That's it!  It cooked about 7 hours.  I made some rice separately, shredded up the pork and served it over the rice.  It was quite good.  I thought it had just the right blend of sweet and savory spices, but my husband thought it could stand to be a little sweeter, so I might stir in some more pineapple chunks or serve it with a side of grilled pineapple next time.  There will definitely be a next time, and I'll likely have to try out some of the other flavors too.  Plus it made a lot of leftovers so we're having pork sandwiches tonight for dinner.

One thing I have not been successful with is baking desserts in the slow cooker.  I found a recipe for peanut butter brownies that sounded amazing.  Basically it involved a packet of peanut butter cookie mix and brownie mix and all the wet ingredients.  They just didn't blend properly I think.  I don't really know what the problem was but they turned into a gloppy mess.  Maybe too many wet ingredients?  Like I said, too much liquid in slow cooker recipes is a bad idea.  So if anyone's been successful with that, I'd love to hear their tips.  My next project I'm going to try is a flaky pastry with a Brie cheese wheel.  Somehow this is supposed to be good in the slow cooker, but I am uncertain.  We'll see how it turns out!  Except I don't have any occasion to make this for and I don't want to be eating an entire wheel of cheese by myself...though god knows I could probably do it!

So, am I making you hungry yet?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Adventures at Wal-Mart

Today I went grocery shopping.  Yes, at Wal-Mart.  I'm a bargain shopper and I'm also ghetto.  That is all beside the point.  The point of this post is etiquette and basic decency.

So there I was, trying to decide exactly which pork tenderloin looked like the one for me, while Mr J was staring off into space looking bored, when a woman approached me from behind and asked if she could give me a card.  I said "Sure," because usually I like helping people out with fundraising and whatnot.  Well, this was different.  She went on to say that this company helped her get off all her medications and lose 15 pounds in one month.  My husband and I both stared at her, completely flabbergasted.  I swear I almost asked her, "Do you go around grocery stores looking for fat chicks to hassle?"  Instead I gave her what I hope was my best bitch please! look, said "No thank you," and quickly turned back to the pork.

How can anyone think it is socially acceptable to approach a total stranger and more or less tell them they need to lose weight?  Granted, yes I do need to and am trying to lose weight, as documented here.  But it is still none of her damn business.  I was hopping mad (I still am!) at that woman.  I don't know how I managed to keep my big mouth shut and not just tell her off, or lecture her about etiquette.  So, instead, I'm going to make a list of dos and don'ts for you all:


  • Ever tell anyone who is not a family member or very close friend that they need to change their appearance.  And even then, tread lightly.  Phrase it out of concern for their health, not simply that you can't stand being seen in public with a fatty.
  •  Ask a woman if she is pregnant or when her due date is unless you are absolutely sure she is pregnant.  IE: she is showing you an ultrasound picture or is complaining about a foot in her ribcage.  I have recently made this mistake and have also had the question asked of me.  It sucks being on either end, trust me.
  • Stare at other people in the gym locker room.  Whether you're a fat-fatty or are totally ripped, we all feel weird changing in front of each other.  Keep your eyes to the ground.  OK, I'll admit it, I'm guilty of this one too.  What can I say?  I like to compare breast sizes.  But I'll try to stop.
  • Go to restaurants and leave a huge mess for the staff to deal with.  Or, conversely, let your offspring run around like maniacs.  It is not safe for them or anyone else.  Remember, public places are not your house so do not treat them as such.
  • Talk incessantly about your precious offspring in front of your infertile friends.  If they want to hear stories, they will ask.  Otherwise, it is just insensitive and, to be frank, cruel.


  • Compliment as many people as possible.  This is one I try to remember always.  At the grocery store, at work, at the gym, wherever I happen to be.  If I happen to see something I like, such as a cute hairstyle or a manicure, I will be sure to compliment the woman on it.  It is simple enough, makes you feel good and can possibly just make her day much better.  Everyone likes to be noticed.  (But not stared at!)
  • Tell your husband/significant other you love him every day.  It doesn't matter that he already knows, or that you've been together 40 years.  Everyone needs love and they need to hear the words.  Going along with that one, I kiss my husband every single morning before work and every night before bed.
  • Tip your waiter.  I cannot stress this one enough!  The minimum wage for wait staff is $2.13, so they literally make their living off their tips.  It used to be customary to leave 15% of the bill as a tip, but that is outdated.  20-25% is considered customary now, but I often leave 25-30%.  Sometimes, if the bill is low and the service is above and beyond, I will leave 50% or even more.  A good waiter is hard to come by these days so if you find one, reward him or her well.  (Side note to waiters: do your damn job to the best of your ability or quit.  There is no need to half-ass it anymore.)
  • Mind your Ps and Qs.  It is not so hard to say "please" and "thank you," whether you are just at home or out in public.  It will make you a more pleasant person, both in appearance and demeanor.  Also, start teaching your children their Ps and Qs from an early age, but do not criticize them for not saying them.  That will give these nice words a negative connotation.
I'm sure I could think of a million more, but these are my basic etiquette rules that I think everyone should live by.  If we did, I think society in general would be a much more pleasant place.  What rules do you have to add to the list?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Baby Mania!

This year should be known as The Year of Babies, because good grief, they are all around me.  I cannot get away from babies.  I feel like Ally McBeal, but thankfully I haven't experienced this:

Or should I say yet?  Who knows?  I might just go nutty enough to see dancing babies everywhere I go.

The year is just over halfway through and already four of my friends have given birth.  There are several others in the next few months too.  Whenever a lot of people get pregnant all at once, people tend to joke around and say "It must be in the water!"  Just a warning...never say something like that to an infertile, unless you want to (a) make her burst into tears or (b) hear the f-bomb explode in your face.

And, of course, there's the most famous baby of them all, the new Prince George.  By the way, I'm calling it now, George is going to be one of the fastest-rising names in popularity over the next year.  In a way, I feel terribly sorry for the duke and duchess.  They have every minute detail of their lives examined.  Catherine had to get all dolled up, fixed her hair and makeup the day after giving birth.  Now I've never pushed a baby out my vagina but I'm going to assume it is a tad bit uncomfortable and I doubt I would want to have my picture taken immediately afterward.  I'm just glad I can wallow in all my infertile misery all by myself.  I can choose to be alone in this, or to complain to whomever I want.  I don't have magazines all over the world documenting my uterus, and I never will.  In a game of "Who has it better?" I'm going to say that I win.  (You know, other than the millions of pounds the duchess has.)

When a woman reaches her late-20s and early-30s, her proverbial "biological clock" starts ticking.  Mine started soon after I was married at age 28, but my husband convinced me to wait at least a year.  He had the convoluted idea that as soon as we started trying to get pregnant, it would magically happen.  Now that I'm almost 31, time seems to be passing at a much faster rate.  Most of my friends have at least one child, and many are on their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th by now.  In my twisted little mind, it seems like a competition, one that Mr J and I are failing miserably at.

"31 isn't old!  You still have years of fertility ahead!"  Yes, I've heard that many times.  Is it true, who knows?  Most days I convince myself it is true and that, yes, I will conceive a child someday.  But on my more realistic...some would say pessimistic...days, I can admit to myself that I probably will never be a biological mother.  That's not to say I won't be one by other means.  I have always been a strong supporter of adoption, but the idea has been something I'd want to pursue later in life.  But it is looking more and more like adoption is the best path for us now, rather than later.  Our next step is to contact the local DHS and apply to be foster parents.  I look forward to taking you along with us on this next journey.  Be patient with me, as it is bound to be a strange ride with many ups and downs, but then, that's how everything in my life is.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

All About Contests

Note: This post is about entering, and winning, contests that are on other blogs.  Due to the laws of the internetz, they aren't supposed to be called contests, but actually giveaways.  I don't know why, but for simplicity, I will just refer to all giveaways as contests in this post.

I love contesting.  Entering contests is tedious work, but you know how tedium can feel zen at times?  That's how I get when filling out the same contest forms, over and over.  Then on the rare occasions I do win something, I am filled with so much glee that it makes all the tedium worthwhile.  And then comes the few minutes I am able to gloat to my friends over the cool new thingie I got for free.  So today we will talk all about contests.  First, I'll explain how I got into it.  Then I will talk about how to win contests, then I will list some of the prizes I have actually won.

So, Mannah, how did you start contesting anyway?

It all started in the spring of 2012, when Mr J and I jumped on the baby track.  I started browsing the baby aisle of Target and immediately felt the sticker shock many prospective parents (except Will and Kate, I suppose) feel.  "Holy crap," I thought.  "How are we going to buy a house and clothe a baby at the same time?"  Well we did buy a house last year, but still don't have a baby to clothe (boo).  So I started to wonder how I could get some of this baby junk for free.

What do you suppose I did next?  Yep, I googled "free baby stuff" and, after sifting through a load of junk, I eventually stumbled on a blog that would begin a whole new obsession for me.  The blog I linked to there (enter at your own risk, you may never find your way out again!) actually links up to a bunch of other blogs that host contests for baby junk.  This specific one usually links cloth diaper contests, but as I had already decided to use cloth and not disposable diapers, and I had already seen how freaking expensive those puppies are, I decided it could be well worth my time to pursue cloth diaper contests.  However, if you use disposables, or if you don't have a baby at all, there are plenty of contests out there for you!  You just have to search for them!  I suggest starting out by searching "blog giveaways" on a social network like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, there are a zillion of them out there, I promise.

OK!  I'm ready to start contesting!  Now what?

The first thing you should know is that there are two main contest forms: Rafflecopter and Giveaway Tools.  Both are extremely easy to use, once you get the hang of it.  Rafflecopter allows you to sign in to the contest with either your name and email address (which is what I do) or with your Facebook account.  Giveaway Tools only allows you to sign in with your name and email address.  You'll want to make sure that however you sign in, it is with an email you check very frequently.  Many times after they draw a winner and send out the winning email, you have only 24-48 hours to claim your prize or they'll pick a new winner.  So anyway, after you sign in, you go through the list and perform each activity they ask of you, often requiring a Facebook and Twitter follow.  Each activity is allotted a certin number of points and the more points you rack up, the better your chances of winning.

Something you want to look for is daily entries.  Some blogs will allow you to come back every 24 hours and do a new task to receive another point.  Make sure you go back every day and get your points!

What I do to ensure I can get as many Facebook likes as possible and subscribes to as many blog emails, is I have separate accounts.  I have one specific email account that is only for blog subscriptions and, trust me, I get hundreds of emails a day on that one.  But those subscriptions also mean that I get hundreds of points in contests.  I do the same for my Facebook and Pinterest accounts.  My real-life friends don't want to see me spamming their page with my contest likes all day long, so I have a separate account just for that.  As of now, I've reached my 5000 like limit, so I will have to delete some pretty soon.  Why does Facebook have a like limit anyway?  Why do they care if I like more than 5000 people?  I tried doing this with Twitter but they flagged me on two separate occasions because they said I was spamming.  Well duh, all I did was retweet contests, of course I was spamming, but isn't that pretty much what everyone else does on Twitter?  Since I still haven't figured them out, I just ignore Twitter entries on contests, but it pisses me off that I don't get those points every time.  If anyone wants to clue me in on how to get around their stupid spamming rules, I would be thrilled.

After entering hundreds of contests, you must be rich!

Uh, no.  Most of the prizes are small, a retail value of less than $50.  And I probably only win about 1% of all the contests I enter.  But I'll list some of the big-ticket items I've won over the past year and a half.  (These pictures are not my own and are the copyright of the original owner.  I only found them on Google Images.)

Kindle Fire
I was thrilled about this one, and it is definitely the one I've gotten the most use out of so far.

Beaba baby food maker

I never planned on buying a baby food maker, but hey if I get one for free, might as well use it!  This thing looks really cool (from inside the box).

Combi Cosmo stroller
Apparently this is a fancy brand that I've never heard of, so now I'm trying to win the car seat that can attach to it.

Cloth Diapers
This is my own picture, obviously.  The baby items that started this whole obsession!  So far I've won four handmade diapers, one Bumgenius, one Thirsties cover, one Ragababe, one Blueberry trainer, five handmade cloth wipes, one handmade wetbag and one Planet Wise wetbag.  I wish you could see all the adorableness in detail.

I also have a few baby clothes and toys and have won a few gift cards.  Some were good ones, like to Amazon and some were to online stores that I had never heard of.  But that's also a good thing about contesting, you get to experience online retailers you never would have before.

If you've won anything big in a contest, let me know.  Or if you have any questions about how to enter contests, please feel free to ask!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saying goodbye to a pet

They say the worst heartbreak a person can experience is the loss of a child.  Thank God I have never experienced it and I hope I never do.  But as I am involuntarily childless, my animals have become my children.  This cat is Charlotte; she is around 18 years old.  She is currently dying, or may already be gone.

My mother called me right after I left work today and told me to come over to her house and say goodbye to our family pet.  We've had her for 10 years, given to us by a friend in 2003.  Charlotte used to live with me, but I developed such a bad cat allergy, she had to move in with my parents.  But I still loved her just as much and would play with her every time I visited.  I still considered her my cat.

When I saw Charlotte tonight, I knew she didn't have much time left.  As you can see from the picture, she was a little chunky, but now she is skin and bones.  Apparently this is due to her no longer eating and the vet assumes is stomach cancer.  He also said that her heartbeat was "galloping," in other words going way too fast, so she probably has heart disease along with the cancer.  Poor little kitty.  My mom said she is going to take Charlotte back to the vet on Friday to be euthanized, but honestly I do not think she will live that long.  She could barely move and was just kind of shaking on mom's lap.  I told her goodbye.

I love all my animals, yes even my fish.  And I mourn all of them when they die.  We cried over Molly and Chloe (our rats) for awhile when they left us.  And when I get the message that Charlotte is gone, I will likely cry for her too.  Enjoy the Rainbow Bridge, sweet girl, we'll miss you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

To ov or not to ov...

...that is the question.  Cliche way to start this post, I know.  I'm sorry.

Today boys and girls (ok probably not any boys) we're going to be talking about ovulation!  So exciting.  It actually is exciting for me, my entire life revolves around ovulation.  This is because with PCOS, I don't normally ovulate on my own.  I believe the last time I had a natural ovulation was May, 2012.  Since then I have ovulated several times, but some have been due to Clomid and one was due to injected stimulants.  When I did the Clomid, we did timed intercourse and when I did the injections, we had an IUI.  Obviously none of this worked and my guess is because we weren't treating the underlying problem.

So I said all that to say this.  I don't know if I've ovulated now.  I think I may have, but I'm not sure and I'm just going to have to play the wait and see game, which I really hate.  I've been taking my basal body temperature, which means I just take it as soon as I wake up, so it is a resting temp.  The past 4 days, including today, have been: 97.1, 97.5, 97.3 and 97.6.  Normally the jump between days 1 and 2 would indicate ovulation, but the jump wasn't very high and it went down slightly on day 3.  In past charts, my average before-ov temperature is 97.2 and average after-ov is 97.8, and my baseline is 97.5.  That means that today's temp is above the baseline, normally indicating ovulation.  Yay?  I don't know yet.  If anyone can lend me their opinion on this, I would be much obliged.  Or, I could just wait a couple of days and see where my temperature goes, but as we all know, waiting sucks!

Update 7/9/13: OK I didn't ovulate.  My temperature this morning went way down.  Ugh, I hate this back and forth stuff.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The White Queen

I am so freaking excited for the new Starz series The White Queen.  It is beginning on August 10th and will be 10 episodes.  For my readers in other countries, please no spoilers!  I understand it is already airing on the BBC.  But I would love to know what you think of it so far.  To pique your interest, here's the trailer.

Doesn't that look exciting?  I watched The Tudors a few years ago and absolutely loved it.  I can't help myself, I fall in love with anything pertaining to the Middle Ages or Renaissance time periods.

In case you haven't read the book, I'll give you a synopsis.  The series is based off three Philippa Gregory books: The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter.   I haven't read the third yet, but I've read the first two many times and absolutely devoured them.  The White Queen is told from the point of view of Elizabeth Woodville, who was a commoner and ended up marrying Edward IV and became queen.  The people were pissed off at first because Edward usurped the throne via the War of the Roses (and, duh, he married a commoner which just was not done, and still kind of isn't, unless you're as cute as Wills and can get away with it), but then E+E brought peace to England for awhile and the people accepted them.  Plus they had a billion children, which was seen as perpetuating the royal line rather than overpopulating the country.

The Red Queen is told from the point of view of Margaret Beaufort, who actually never became a queen but could have been an heir to the throne.  All throughout the book, it annoyed me that it was called queen but she wasn't one, but oh well, semantics, what are you going to do?  Margaret was a crazy character, one that you aren't meant to like, so it was really interesting reading her story in first person.  (Side note: I love that Philippa almost always writes in first person, you really get into these strong women's heads.)  Margaret hated Elizabeth and spent basically her entire life plotting her downfall and trying to grab the throne for her son.  Spoiler alert, she succeeds!  Margaret's son ends up marrying Elizabeth's daughter and he becomes Henry VII, also the first Tudor king.  There's a whole bunch of characters in these books, some you'll recognize vaguely from high school history but most you won't.  Fortunately, Philippa adds a family tree at the beginning of each of her books so you can keep everyone straight throughout the story.  I found myself going back to it frequently, along with the timeline of the Wars.

Overall, I highly recommend these two books, along with all of Philippa's.  She really does her research before writing.  I always look up all the historical events she writes about and she is more or less accurate.  She takes liberties with character's speech patterns and motives, but that is to be expected.

I am confused by this trailer, and the title of the show, because it seems to only be about Elizabeth and The White Queen.  But the all the info I've read about the show says it will be about all three books, so I don't know what to think yet.  For now I'm just trying to get the trailer out there so other lovers of historical fiction will tune in on August 10th.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the trailer!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Let freedom ring!

This is a conversation I just had with Mr J:

Me: I need to make a blog post about how much I hate this holiday.
Him: Why?
Me: Because I'm a jerk?
Him: Yes.

What a lovely husband I have!  But I like someone who will tell it like it is, much like I always will.

I haven't mentioned this yet here, but I have dual citizenship: British and American.  I lived in England as a small child, though now I obviously live in the United States, I have gone back and forth between the two countries all my life.  I believe these experiences have given me a unique perspective when it comes to observing our country.

Side note: I have had many people ask me "Do they have the 4th of July in England?"  This always warrants a smartass answer, sometimes I say "Yes, of course they celebrate 4th of July" and sometimes I say "No, they skip from the 3rd right to the 5th."

OK, I don't actually hate Independence Day, per se, but it is one of those pseudo-holidays that really gets on my nerves.  Some people might point out that all holidays are fake or made up, but that's a discussion for another day.  Right now we're only discussing Independence Day.  Let's first list the things I like about it:
  • Fireworks.  What's not to like?  Blowing stuff up and they're pretty.  Win-win.
  • Getting off work.  I only just started my new job, but I was ready for a vacation day!  That place is exhausting.
I guess that's it, or else I just can't think of anything else.  Now let's list what I don't like:
  • Uber-patriotism.  The whole "America is the best country EVERRRRR!" attitude just irritates me.  For further information, watch the first 10 minutes of The Newsroom.  Will's rant sums up my feelings precisely.
  • BBQs, family get-togethers, parties, etc.  I just really can't be bothered to enjoy any of these anymore.  I just went over to my family's house and left with my sister screaming at me.  I'm still not sure why.
  • People acting like idiots.  Tonight is one of the busiest nights for the ER, because idiots are blowing their hands off, letting children play with fireworks or driving home drunk after all the beer at the BBQ.  It does not give me hope in the human race.
 The first point is the biggest one for me.  The undying love for this country gets under my skin, it seems like a contest to see who is the best American.  Who cares?  And, for some reason, Independence Day also seems like a day to celebrate the military.  I'm talking about the "Land of the free because of the brave" meme that shows up on Facebook every year.  Last I checked, we have not had any foreign invasions, nor has our country been in any sort of real jeopardy.

So there we go.  America is an annoying country, full of stupid people, who celebrate a fake holiday.  But I still love seeing the adorable patriotic rat at the top of this post.  What do you think of Independence Day?  Is it truly a time to reflect on America's past or is it simply an excuse to blow stuff up?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hopped up on goofballs

I went to the doctor today, which was a good and a bad thing.  OK it wasn't totally bad, but I did find out my weight, which I have previously said is bound to be a scary number.  I'm only 4 pounds short of my all-time highest weight, which was in the summer of 2006.  I am NOT going to gain more weight, and by publishing this on the internetz, I will hold myself accountable.

The good part about my doctor's visit is I got my crazy pills.  See, I had stopped them last year when I was wanting to get pregnant because I didn't want a baby with tentacles.  That means it has been over a year that I've been an unmedicated bipolar.  Believe it or not, I managed my illness reasonably well.  This was mostly in part to Mr J, my husband.  He held my hand when I was feeling depressed (and there was a lot of depression) and he told me to knock it off when I was edging toward mania.

I got a prescription for Wellbutrin, to help with the depression, and for Topamax, for the mania and to fend off migraines.  Yes, I get migraine headaches too, and you're probably wondering why I have so many weird things going on with my health.  Let me tell you, all of those hitting me at once is not fun!  The good part about Topamax is it can be used off-label for weight loss.  The last time I used it I lost about 20-30 lbs in 2 months.  It was awesome and I look forward to that side effect again.  The bad part is it turns me into a total space cadet.  So if I neglect this blog for awhile, it is probably because either I've forgotten it exists or I've forgotten how to form words and type.

PS: The first person who can tell me where I got the title for this post gets a gold star!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Getting skinny so I can get fat

Over the past year and a half, I have been all-consumed by the idea of getting pregnant.  I knew it was going to be a challenge for us because I was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) when I was 23.  The doctor immediately put me on birth control to help control my symptoms, but I stopped using it in February 2012in the hopes that I will conceive naturally.

I'll back up and explain PCOS for those of you who don't know what it is: basically it is a hormonal imbalance.  It can cause obesity, insulin resistance and excessive facial hair growth.  I'm sure it causes other stuff too, but those are the ones that have affected me.  The hair is no big deal, that's what wax is for.  The insulin resistance is also under control because I've been taking Metformin for it, which fortunately is safe during pregnancy.  The weight gain is what really sucks, especially because I was taking a lot of artificial hormones in the past year in the hopes I could conceive, and those really packed on the excess pounds.

I am really overweight right now.  I don't know how much I weigh and I really don't want to know, except I have a doctor's appointment in three days so I guess I'll be finding out.  This PCOS is a total Catch-22 in that the hormone imbalance causes weight gain but extra weight also causes my hormones to go wacky.  So I don't know if I'm not getting my period due to the PCOS or the weight and as we all know, no period=no pregnancy.

Like I previously said, I've already tried a few fertility treatments.  Treatments that were neither cheap nor pleasant.  I experienced a whole range of side effects, weight gain being the lesser of those.  After the last failed treatment in April 2013, I decided to stop.  My checking account was getting scarily low and I was getting more and more unhealthy each cycle.  I had an eventual "aha!" moment where I saw that doctors are more invested in getting a solution rather than treating an underlying problem.  Or, to put it in blunter terms, the health-care industry wasn't really interested in getting me healthy.  (Note: I am not knocking Reproductive Endocrinologists.  My RE is a wonderful woman with a terrific bedside manner and if the treatments had worked, I would be singing her praises for 9 months.)

So what am I doing about all this?  First of all, I refuse to accept I will never get pregnant.  I fully believe I will someday be a mother.  Keeping a positive mind about this is the key, I believe, because my mind has a tendency to over-dramatize these sorts of events.  (Remember I told you I'm also bipolar?  Yeah, the two of those together makes for a very unhappy Mannah at times.)  Anyway, I have started a lifestyle overhaul.  I hate the word "diet" because it implies that it will only be a short time, and we all know that never works.  Years ago, I stopped drinking pop, or "soda" for you Northerners, and I recently stopped drinking coffee too.  Does caffeine inhibit fertility?  I don't know, but I ain't taking any chances.  I have exchanged my beloved white breads and pastas for whole-wheat, and I've also added a lot more fruits and vegetables into my meals.  This stuff may sound like no-brainers but for me it is a pretty big deal.  My husband and I were eating a lot of crap.

The biggest change I've made was I went back to work!  I quit my job in February in anticipation of getting pregnant and being a stay-at-home mother.  And, of course, my mind just wasn't letting me concentrate properly on work.  I just finished my first official week as a preschool teacher once again and let me tell you, it is hard work.  I had actually forgotten how hard it is to care for large groups of children, silly me.  I'm on my feet just about the whole time and I have to do a lot more cleaning, which if you know me, you'd know that cleaning is not my forte.  Usually I don't care if the floor is properly mopped but if licensing says I have to mop, then I guess I'm going to do it.  Twice a day, five days a week.  That's a pretty good workout as is, but a few days a week I have started going to the gym after work.  The first day I went, I realized how hopelessly out of shape I am, so for now I'm taking it really slow, just doing 20-30 minutes on the bike or elliptical or whatever.  Over time, I hope to get my strength up so I can run for longer periods and start lifting weights.

So there's my get-healthy plan!  Eating whole foods, working and going to the gym.  And my hope is when I manage to lose some of this weight, I will regulate my hormones and start ovulating once more.  For awhile I had an attitude of, well what's the point of losing weight if I'm just going to get pregnant and gain a bunch of weight?  But now I see that I will likely never get pregnant on my own if I'm not taking care of my body and mind.  Hopefully within the year I will be normal and able to get pregnant and start worrying about the right number of pounds to be gaining instead of losing.  Stick with me as I continue this journey and feel free to tell me some of your own weight loss or gain stories!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Prayin' the gay away

As you likely know, DOMA (defense of marriage act) was shot down by the Supreme Court yesterday.  They decided it is Unconstitutional to say that marriage can only be defined as between a man and a woman.  Whenever something monumental such as this occurs, I always start to wonder why we're having this conversation to begin with.  Getting married to the person you love seems as if it would be a basic human right.  Does or does it not say in the Constitution that everyone is equal and we all have to rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  Do we seriously want to go back to the days of separate but equal?  I sure hope not.

If you ask most people why they are against gay marriage, they will likely say because it is against the Bible.  Not taking into account that the United States are not, nor have they ever been a Christian nation, but I suppose we can just overlook that little piece of (vital) information for now.  So I began to wonder, what does the Bible actually say about gay marriage, and this is what I found:

"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood upon them." Leviticus 20:13

This seems pretty straight-forward I suppose, though I'm not too sure about the use of the word "mankind."  If I was more inclined, I might look up the original translation, but instead I found the rest of Leviticus chapter 20 to be interesting.  It is all about people you shouldn't sleep with.  Evidently partner-trading was a big problem back then?  Also, five verses later, it says a man can't have sex with his wife when she's on the rag or else they have to be cut off from their people.  What?

Some of these other Bible verses just baffled me also:

"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."  1 Timothy 2:9-12

Let's first assume "broided" means "braided" in which case I'm at least following this rule as I can't braid my own hair to save my life.  It is the part about women being silent and not teaching that I have a major problem with.  I've said many times that Paul was a sexist pig, but this passage just about proves it.  Here's another:

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ" Ephesians 6:5

So, if you're unlucky enough to be born into a life of servitude, you have to treat your master as you would God?  That is just bizarre.

I posted some of these quotes to show you that the Bible was written thousands of years ago.  The individual verses don't have much relevance today, so it is very odd to use one verse from the Old Testament as your only argument against a person's pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Who the heck are you anyway?

Allow myself to introduce...myself.

I am Amanda, aka Mannah.  I work with young children and they are the ones who bestowed me with that nickname, as they are usually unable to pronounce my first name.

I am a woman of many facets, some of which you will get to know over time as you read this blog.  I can be at times quite sarcastic and if my sense of humor offends, I deeply apologize.  Actually, I don't.  If you are offended, you have the option to not read it.

I decided to call this blog my musings because that's exactly what it will be.  Whatever happens to be on my mind on any given day will likely end up here.  Politics, recipes, movies, whatever.  It'll eventually all be here.

Two things to note about me: I am bipolar and infertile.  Both of these conditions will be discussed at length, as they are on the forefront of my mind most days.  But I'll try not to get into some of the weirder details.

Lastly, there are two things I love most.  My husband and my rats.  Yes, I have pet rats and I am just mad over them.  I'll leave you with an adorable picture of Lily and Violet play-fighting.

Also, please leave comments with suggestions for future blog posts!  I may or may not take your suggestion, but it will fill me with glee to be able to read them.