May 31, 2016

May Favorites

These monthly favorite posts are quickly becoming something I look forward to. This month there was lots going on. I tried to keep it short, but I don't think I succeeded. There were so many great sharable things that I just couldn't leave out! However, if you only read one thing from this list, make it this post from Love the Here and Now: The Cardinal Rule of Blogging.

Things I Accomplished

+ I made it through my term papers and finals, and passed my classes this past session. These classes were rough, but they definitely inspired some new ways of thinking. I've already start sharing some of my thoughts about the topics we discussed in these classes (with this post), and I've got a few more in mind to share.

+ In other school news, I've decided to take the summer off. Two reasons: I need a break and there isn't anything offered that I need. 

+ One blog design installed, one in the making, and one waiting in the queue. My summer is open! Get yourself in line! Knock on Wood Designs.

+ I watched the entire series of Downton Abbey... twice. Because I love it. I also watched Fortitude, Mr. Selfridge, and am now in season 2 of Vikings. I'm totally counting this as an accomplishment.

Blog Posts

You're Life's Story - Ember Grey
Be the heroine/hero of your own life.

How to Let Go of Guilt - One Salty Kiss
No. It's not easy. But it's still possible.

Shiny Object Syndrome - Love the Here and Now
The struggle is real, folks. REAL.

On Having Depression AND Being a Mom - A Hundred Tiny Wishes
I can relate. I have depression. I'm not a mom, but I want to be. One of my biggest fears is that I won't be able to mentally and emotionally handle being a parent due to my depression and anxiety.

10 Life Hacks - Christine Everyday
Cause we all can use life hacks.

I need to do this. You probably do too. amiright?

Blog Related Things

How to Support Your Favorite Bloggers - Classy, Sassy, & A Bit Smartassy

A Look Inside a a Wordpress Post - Love the Here and Now

Things Found on Facebook

+ So far the only reports of craziness I've seen in the Target bathrooms (or any public bathroom for that matter) have been "normal" and "straight" women acting a fool and making others in the bathroom uncomfortable with their phobic attitudes. Like this story of a women who was peeped on by another woman while she was mid pee. And this story of a women who was accused of being Transgender even though she clearly is not, but even if she were, it shouldn't matter.

+ I saw this article and laughed so hard. Marriage isn't always easy, and you don't always like each other every second of every day. So, the statements about marriage in the article ring true for a lot of people whether you care to admit it or not.

+ I probably could have written this post myself. Even though we've just announced publicly that we are in the process of trying to have a baby, and that I am struggling with infertility, doesn't mean our families and the close friends we have told haven't been guilty of any of the things the author talks about. With about 1.5 million women in the U.S. suffering from infertility, odds are that you know someone who is or has been a warrior in that battle. So, read the article, and don't be that person.

+ Children these days are getting shafted on life experience by helicopter parenting fueled by guilt trips from fear mongers and participation trophies. There I said it. I know I don't have any children (yet), but that doesn't mean I don't get an opinion on how I'd like to raise my child when I have one. This post articulates my feelings exactly (only I was born in the mid 80s and can still remember trick or treating by myself at age 7).

In Case You Missed It

May 26, 2016

Guys Behind the Blog - May

The end of May brings the beginning of summer. UGH. Can we skip the heat and humidity, and go right into the cool crisp days of fall? Anyway, the questions for Guys Behind the Blog this month are right up the summer time alley (I totally made that up... don't laugh). Plus, I can never pass up a good interview with Hubs. His answers are always pretty entertaining, and even though he won't admit it, he likes getting some attention here on the blog.

1. Would you rather have to wear your swimsuit to work OR have to carry around a large beach umbrella open all day at work?
Hubs: Prolly swim trunks. Cause I could get away with that. I don't think I could get an umbrella.
Me: Do what?
Hubs: Although. I could have used that umbrella today as a cane.
Me: Why?
Hubs: My ankle hurts.
Me: *typing away*
Hubs: *looks over* oh. I didn't even know we were doing a questionnaire. Is this the Blogger Men Tell All one?
Me: No. This is a different one, but it's similar.

2. Would you rather play on an MLB team OR get to tour with your favorite band all summer?
Hubs: An MLB team.
Me: Why?
Hubs: I don't know. I like baseball and you get to hit little white balls. It's exhilarating.
Me: What team would you play for?
Hubs: you aren't going to like the answer, but it would be the New York Yankees. Actually a lot of people won't like that answer. But yeah. Either them or the St. Louis Cardinals.
Me: Booooooooo. (GO BRAVES!)

3. Would you rather go to the beach and forget your towel OR go to the beach and forget your sunscreen?
Hubs: Do you really need me to answer that questions?
Me: No. It's sunscreen. (he always complains when I make him put sunscreen on)
Hubs: That's right. I don't need no sunscreen cause I'm a balla!
Me: *laughing* Just don't complain when you get sunburnt.

4. Would you rather take a week-long vacation to anywhere in the world OR take a month-long vacation but have to stay within 100 miles of home?

Hubs: Probably the week to anywhere.
Me: Why?
Hubs: There's not much within a 100 miles from here, and that's depressing.
Me: True. Where would you wanna go?
Hubs: *Strokes his beard* hmmmm... Either Italy or France.
Me: Good choices.

5. Would you rather get to have as much ice cream as you want this summer, but only be able to get vanilla OR only get to have ice cream three times this summer, but you can have whatever flavors you want?
Me: Oh gosh, that's a hard one. I love ice cream, but I don't really like vanilla.
Hubs: Well, with vanilla ice cream you can put toppings on it to make it not so bland. The question didn't have any rules about that!
Me: Oohhh good idea.
Hubs: That's the only kind of ideas I have.
Me: What you're favorite topping then?
Hubs: Crushed butterfingers. Does that count as a topping?
Me: Um, Yes!

After the interview...
Hubs: So is there like a template for these or something?
Me: Sorta. The hosts gives the questions and then we just put in the answers. But I'm one of the only ones who does it conversation style like this.
Hubs: Oh. What do other people do?
Me: Usually one or two line answers from what I've seen.
Hubs: Well that's boring.
Me: It would be boring for you. But I like the conversation style because I can prompt you to say funny things sometimes.
Hubs: Oh, YOU prompt me, huh?
Me: mmm hmmm.
Hubs: I think not. I'm pretty darn funny without prompting. (he really is.)

May 24, 2016

Personality Types and Marriage

A couple of sessions ago, I signed up for the Personality Theory class. The insight I gained about myself in comparison to others is remarkable, and it’s helped me be more comfortable and confident in the path I have chosen. We took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in class, but I already had an idea of what my results would be as I had taken a similar test online about a year prior (You can take it for yourself HERE). However, the results from the MBTI differed from the online test by one letter, but only slightly on the scale.

People do change, therefore their personalities change as well, so I took the online test again to see if I would receive the same type as the MBTI taken in class: ISFJ. I did not, I got the same result as I did when I took it a year ago: INFJ. I found a different online test and got INFJ again. When I compared the two types side by side, I felt that I related more to the INFJ descriptions that I did the ISFJ ones.

Our Personality Types

I am an INFJ. This means I am Introverted (I), Intuitive (N), Feeling (F), and Judging (J). A general description is that I seek more out of life than just living it, there has to be a meaning in everything I do. INFJs have a desire to understand the motivations of others, as well as themselves, and generally have an insightful nature when it comes to interacting with those around them. INFJs also have a strong set of core values they can be quite stubborn in upholding. They are never satisfied or at peace with themselves, making them feel like they are always a work in progress, but INFJs believe that they are almost always right (duh) witch makes them come off as stubborn and that they ignore other's opinions.

When Hubs took the MBTI, he received the ISFJ personality score. Introversion (I), sensing (S), and judging (J) were no surprise to me. It was the Feeling (F) that threw me for a loop. I would have pegged my husband as a Thinker (T) instead. Like INFJs, ISFJs are perfectionists, however ISFJs take things far more literally than often intended. They have an exceptional memory when it comes to the people in their lives, and learn best by doing. While their feelings of inadequacy can be quite strong (they are their own worst critic), they are very responsible and make sure the all things in their lives are running smoothly. ISFJs are not very expressive with their feelings (no surprise), and they don't often let on that they know what others are feeling either. 

But what does this mean for us together?

What’s great about our personality types is that they are so similar, however this can also pose some significant problems as well. Due to our introversion, we struggle, at times, with communication. We keep our feelings and emotions locked up when we should be sharing them with each other. Being Intuitive though, we still have an idea about wha the other is thinking and feeling. However, I often read farther into his comments and statements than I should, and he doesn’t read into mine as deeply as I’d like him to. This is something we have been working on, and will probably have to work on for the duration of our marriage (forever, duh).

Another, hilariously, accurate description I found for our personality types together is that Hubs doesn’t understand why I can’t keep up with the laundry and dishes. This is because I get lost in my thoughts and forget about doing them. I literally laughed out loud when I read about this, and said to my husband “That’s so us!” Knowing these types of things about each other helps us to take a step back and not be so reactive when things don't go our own way.

Enough with the negative, because there are some amazing things about and INFJ-ISFJ marriage. We balance each other out: he keeps me grounded, while I encourage him to dream a little more. He’s amazing with our finances, and I have the ability to let go and let him take the reigns where money is concerned. We both understand the other’s need to have “me time” and are very good listeners when we actually open up and talk to each other. As feeling types, we can be more in tune with each other’s feelings surround a conflict and take great care not to hurt the other. Finally, we are both planners (INFJ and ISFJ – Compatibility, Relationships, and Friendships).  

The key to any relationship, though, is a good sense of humor. If we don’t laugh at and with one another from time to time, I don’t think anyone would make it.

Take the test. Have your partner take the test. Then check out the relationship sections to see how you compare. You can learn so much. 

Have you every taken a personality test before? Did you learn something new about yourself?

Cox, B. (2011, November 10). It's Hard To Be an INFJ---The Rarest Myers-Briggs Personality Type. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from
INFJ. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2015, from
INFJ Personality ("The Advocate"). (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2015, from
INFJ and ISFJ – Compatibility, Relationships, and Friendships. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2015, from
ISFJ-INFJ Relationship. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2015, from
Portrait of an INFJ. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2015, from
Portrait of an INFJ. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2015, from

May 20, 2016

Design Reveal - Cattails, Rabbit Trails, & Thistlefish

About a month ago, a lovely lady named Casey contacted me about a new blog design. Little did we know how long this process would take us. She had travel plans, I had travel plans. She had finals, I had finals. But, amid the road trips, paper writing, working, and studying we managed to get in a few emails here and there about the direction she wanted to go with her design. I'm not gonna lie, she totally kept me on my toes, and I liked it. Casey knows what she wants, and I admire that about her.

The images she gave me as inspiration are gorgeous! We went through several different header ideas before she sent me the photo of the petals on the wood deck. I fell in love with it, and we ended up choosing that one for her header. I pulled a slew of colors from it, and tried them all out until we found a combination she loved. Then we paired a sweet script with a wide set serif font and we were on our way.

Once my finals were over, I was finally able to devote some real time to the design. A few revisions later, Casey and I finalized the look and scheduled the install. She was a joy to work with, and I'm so pleased she chose me for her first ever blog design. I always learn something new with each design I complete, and this one was no different. Plus, I got to work with some colors that normally don't get requested, which was awesome!

So, without further adieux, I present to you Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish.

View the live design HERE. You can also keep up with Casey and all of her shenanigans by following her on Instagram, and never miss a post by adding her on Bloglovin'. To find out how to get your own custom blog design, visit Knock on Wood Designs.

What do you think about this bright and colorful design?

May 17, 2016

My Travel Bucket List - Domestic

Let's liven things back up a bit, from the serious post on Friday. A couple weeks ago I shared my list of fifteen awe inspiring international cities and countries I want to see before I kick the proverbial bucket. So, today, I want to share with you all the places right here in the United States that I want to visit as well.

1. Disney World

I am almost 30 years old and have never been to Disney World. People are always shocked by this because I'm such a huge fan.

2. Wizarding World of Harry Potter


3. Nashville

I love country music, much to the disdain of my rock-loving husband. Also, the lovely Emily from Ember Grey. lives there, and I can't pass up an opportunity to hang out with her and Christian.

4. Hershey, Pennsylvania

This one might be kind of obvious.

5. The Statue of Liberty

Patriotic and historical.

6. Las Vegas

I don't even want to gamble. There are far too many amazing shows to see!

7. San Fransisco

Technology Mecca.

8. The Grand Canyon

I know it's just a big hole in the ground, but it would still be pretty cool to see what nature has made for us.

9. Mile High Stadium in Denver

This one is really for Hubs. Go Broncos!

10. Chicago

I have heard some lovely things about Chicago, plus they are rumored to have the best pizza. We all know I can't turn down pizza.

11. Hawaii

My parents have been twice. My brother had been once. Multiple friends have gone. Now it's my turn darn it!

12. San Diego Zoo

It's supposed to be the best there is, and I want to find out for myself.

13. Boston

I'm a sucker for seeing and learning about the history of a place, and a lot went down in Boston.

14. Yellowstone National Park

Three words (and it's kind of an inside family joke, sorry) Big. Horned. Sheep.

15. Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C. 

Again. History and stuff.

Am I missing any places? What's on your travel bucket list?

May 13, 2016

That Time I Talked About the Continuing Devaluation of Women in Our Society

Editors Note: Now that my classes this session are over (thank you sweet baby Jesus!), I feel more comfortable sharing with you some of the essays, or parts of them, that were assigned. I'm probably going to spread them out over the next couple weeks/months, because they are about some controversial topics. So, consider yourself warned!

Women have made great advances in society, especially since the mid twentieth century. We won the right to vote, we fought for our right to receive an education, then to enter the workforce without discrimination, and eventually started earning more comparable wages as compared to men. Many opportunities have opened up that allow women to be able to be political leaders, CEOs of major corporations, or even own their own business. However, women and the roles they play in society are still continually devalued by more than one social institution. 

When picturing the proverbial American Dream, one normally pictures a husband who works in business, a housewife who always has a clean home and a pie in the oven, and two kids (ideally one boy and one girl) who are straight A students. This family lives in a cookie cutter house in a polished suburban neighborhood, and perhaps there is a golden retriever in their evergreen yard that is bordered with a white picket fence. It's a scene straight out of an Andy Hardy film from the 1930s. Movies, television shows, music, commercials, books, they all emphasize and point us to this patriarchal version of society where women and children are to be seen and not heard. If a woman is confident and assertive she is more likely to be perceived as a “bitch” rather than a strong leader or an ambitious go-getter if she were a man. When they work full time, women are portrayed as bad or uncaring parents and/or spouses, while men are praised for putting in tons of overtime and spending weeks away on business trips. 

Now let's talk money. While the gender wage gap may be smaller for women in the same field as men, the wage gap between career fields is large. Professions generally held by majority women, such as teachers or nurses, provide significantly lower wages than those professions generally held by a majority of men. Why? Who decided that engineering was more important, and therefore more monetarily valuable, than a teacher? Why is an investment banker worth more than the nurses who save lives every day? Our own government still does not have any plans to increase the wages for those professions generally held by women, and many of these lower wage positions require much more education, training, time, and energy than some of the higher wage positions. 

In a video we watched about the myth of the gender wage gap (watch it here), the man said that women make less money because they make bad choices for a career. Excuse me? Bad choices? If everyone in the United States went after the same higher paying jobs, who would be left to teach, and nurse, and take care of your infants and toddlers while you are working at your high paying job? Makes no sense. 

The man in that video also said that women should be encouraged to go for jobs usually held by men, like engineering or sciences. That's all fine and dandy, but he failed to take it the other way; it was as if he implied that men are much too valuable and should not be encouraged to apply for those jobs usually held by women that would go unfilled, if women are supposed to apply for “men’s jobs”. 

Ok. Say a woman does land a snazzy, high paying job. Then she gets married and decides to have a baby. In the United States, employers are not eager to offer paid maternity leave, and the maternity leave most women do receive is mediocre at best. Mothers get up to 12 weeks or unpaid time off, however many women, a majority that are minorities, cannot afford to stay home the entire 12 weeks without pay and are forced to return to work sometimes before they have even healed properly (what?!). This situation is a bit skewed, no? Modern women are expected to apply for the aforementioned “male jobs”, raise kids, keep the house tidy, and be dutiful wives all at the same time, but are not equally compensated or supported by our patriarchal capitalist society for trying to live up to those high expectations.

Something's got to give at some point, amiright? 

What are your thoughts on this?

P.S. I WILL NOT tolerate any hateful, vulgar, or rude comments to myself or any other person commenting on this post. If you cannot put your big girl panties/big boy boxers and have an adult discussion about this topic please do not comment at all. If you do, your comment will be deleted. Thank you.

May 11, 2016

A Blogger Reintroduction

It seems like a lot of people in blogland have taken some time off from blogging lately, myself included. Most of the time it's intentional, but sometimes it's not. Either way, we come back to our cozy spaces of the internet somewhat changed. I know I am not the same person today as I was in January when I unintentionally began to decrease my posting schedule and then in February when I just didn't show up to the party at all. A few weeks ago, I opened my email to find a message from Emily suggesting a re-introduction post since she's making her way back to blogland herself. The cool part is, she asked me, and a group of lovely ladies, to join her, and I thought that this is such perfect timing for me too! Now that I've got my sea legs back and I've gained some new readers (hi new readers!) a re-introduction is just the thing I need. So let's get to it!

Welcome to Knock on Wood! 

I've been blogging in this space for just over two years now, but it has come a loooonngg way since January of 2014. We've been through at least four design changes (that's what happens when you become a blog designer), two failed link-ups, yo-yo post schedules, and one total re-brand. I'm tired just thinking about all of that, are you?

Anyway, when I'm not blogging, I am a full-time student pursuing a degree in Clinical Psychology. I picked up my Associates in October 2015 and I'm hoping to be finished with my Bachelors in December of 2017, then I'll be off to get my Masters. Woo!

I just celebrated two years of marriage to my husband, Philip, and together we have two cats, Pumpkin and Misty, and we have Bear. Up until recently we had dachshund as well, but after months of thinking and debating and thinking some more, we decided that it would be best for us and for him if we found him a new home. And boy did we! He now lives on a farm with a family who already had doxie. They chase chickens and play tug of war and are just having a good time all around. We don't have any kids yet, but we're hoping to change that soon (read part 1 and part 2 of our Baby Journey).

As a part of this group re-introduction, we've come up with a list of questions for each of us to answer. Compare notes and get back to me on who's answers were your fav, ok? ok.

+ Where was the last place you traveled to? 
My cousin just happened to plan his wedding in North Carolina for two days after my and hubs' second wedding anniversary, so we decided to make it into a long weekend trip. We stopped in Asheville and visited the Biltmore Estate before we went on to Winston Salem for the wedding. It was a great weekend. For more than one reason (if you read our baby journey, you'll understand what I mean).

+ If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three materialistic things you'd want with you?
My laptop, my phone, and the internet. I'd be unstoppable with those things.

+ If you knew you could not fail, what is the one thing you would do tomorrow?

Win the lottery! I mean, who doesn't want a few million dollars to play with? No, but really, it would be to get pregnant (if I'm not already, we're testing this weekend).

+What is your earliest memory?
My first memory is of my mom singing to me and reading me my favorite book when I was little. I actually wrote about this a while back for one of those failed link-ups, you can read the full story HERE.

+ If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would totally be cool with eating pizza for the rest of my life. You can switch up the toppings and essentially have something different each day. Plus you still get all of the food groups!

+ Do you like your first name and why? If not, what would you change it to?
No. Actually, I hate it. I think would have liked it more if 3724936 other girls in my school didn't share my name with me and I didn't have to go by Amanda R. (or Amandar if you wanna go with what the stupid boys called me) for the whole of my grade school career. I reeeaallly wanted to go by my middle name, Nicole, but my mom wouldn't let me change it. If I could choose a name for myself now, it would be Sera. I guess you could say I love the name since that is what I named every single baby doll I owned growing up.

+When was the last time you tried something new, and what was it?
A couple of weeks ago I purchased my very first pair of funky patterned leggings from Target. I had be eyeing them for months and they were now on clearance, so I thought, why not? I was so sure that I wouldn't be able to pull them off and I'd only be wearing them when I clean my house. I was wrong. They actually look super adorable on me, especially with the top I just happened to have on that day.

+ If you could give yourself one gift, what would it be?
To be free from mental illness. I suffer from Depression and Anxiety, and it sucks. Every day that I make it out of bed is a small victory. So having that off my plate would make room in my brain for happier things, for patience, for self-esteem, for love, for serenity. And that would be nice.

+ Would you rather be the person asking the questions in a conversation or the person answering them?
Asking. I love to hear other people's stories, mostly because I'm nosy like that, but also because you never know what you may learn.

+ If you had to live in a place where only one season existed year-round, what would that season be?

Fall. Despite growing up the south, I'm not fan of Summer. The heat, the humidity, the sweat. Just, no. Give me crisp, cool days, scarves, and boots for life! Who's with me?

+ If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Travel! I haven't had many opportunities, or funds, to visit the places on my travel bucket list. Quite honestly, I probably won't ever complete it, but it's nice to dream though.

OK. That's enough about me. Go get yourself acquainted with these amazing women. Even if you already know them, you might learn something new!

Meagan - All the Joys

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three materialistic things you’d want with you?
A camera with unlimited memory, chapstick and a Kindle preloaded with hundreds of books. (too much?)

Read Meagan's Re-Intro

Cassie - Sage

Would you rather be the person asking the questions in a conversation or the person answering them?
I’m a complete introvert and have been told that I don’t talk about myself very often, so I guess that implies I would rather be the person asking the questions in a conversation.

Read Cassie's Re-Intro

Kelly - Southern Komfort Blog

If you could give yourself one gift, what would it be? 
I would have to say the gift to be able to travel (no worries about money, who would take of the pups, boring adult things). I would love to travel all around the nation and the world, just meeting people and doing life with them.

Read Kelly's Re-Intro

Emily - Ember Grey.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three materialistic things you'd want with you?
A notebook, pen, and Sun-In. (Obviously.)

Read Emily's Re-Intro

Christine - Christine Everyday

If you knew you could not fail, what is the one thing you would do tomorrow?
I would go skydiving! That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and if I knew for sure that I wouldn’t crash-land, I’d totally sign up.

Read Christine's Re-Intro

Lindsay - Bourbon, Lipstick, & Stilettos

If you knew you could not fail, what is the one thing you would do tomorrow? 
I would do web development/design. It is a dream of mine, but I'm struggling to find time to study and perfect it!

Read Lindsay's Re-Intro

Anne - Love the Here and Now

If you could give yourself one gift, what would it be?
Without fail, it would be self-confidence. I constantly second guess decisions and choices and don’t attempt new things because of a fear of failing or judgement. Truth be told, I could fail and be judged and I would be ok. Self-confidence would give me the edge I need not to care about those things and would enable to me to live free of doubt, fear, and feelings of inadequacy.

Read Anne's Re-Intro

Emelia - Dream Big & Buy the Shoes

If you knew you could not fail, what is the one thing you would do tomorrow?
I’ve always had the dream to be a wedding planner, but I would love to work with all types of events. I have a love of details and creating beautiful memories, so I would give it all to be an Event Planner and have the opportunity to make special moments for other people.

Read Emelia's Re-Intro

Rebecca- Adventures of Bug & Boo

Where was the last place you traveled to?
San Francisco! In February I took a long weekend to visit my BFF from middle school, and meet her new baby. It was my first time on the west coast and I fell in love! San Francisco is so different from NYC and London (both cities I lived in for a while) but it’s an awesome city in its own right. And the FOOD….I will definitely be back!

Read Rebecca's Re-Intro

May 9, 2016

My Battle with Infertility Part 2

Today I am picking up where we left off last Friday with our infertility journey. You can read part 1 HERE

We took December off with the cycle tracking, and when we got back from our Vacation, we tried to focus on getting healthier with a plan that worked better for us. I did loads of research on fertility supplements, even ordered some as a last ditch effort before going back to the doctor that I wasn't sure even wanted to help us. Then this past March I finally decided to seek a second opinion, and found a new doctor. We couldn't get in to see him until mid April, but when we finally did I knew I had made the right decision. While our new doctor agreed with me that I most likely do have PCOS, he didn't just brush me off and tell me to lose weight. He explained things to us, he gave us suggestions, he wanted to run more tests, and we started making a plan.

The interesting thing is that I (and here's a TMI warning) had some actual real spotting for the first time in 5 months during the first week of April. I was excited! Maybe the supplements I am taking have finally started to work! Hubs and I went to CVS and purchased the ridiculously expensive digital ovulation predictor kit (OPK) and I started the testing process as soon as this "period" ended. The second week of April we had our aforementioned appointment with the new doctor. On Monday, March 18, I got my first ever indication that I could possibly ovulate this cycle: a flashy smiley face on a pee stick (the flashy smiley face indicates the "high fertility" point in your cycle).

At my ultrasound appointment that Wednesday, it was confirmed for reals the diagnosis of PCOS by the presence of multiple, but tiny, cysts on my ovaries. But, when I told my awesome new doctor about the three consecutive days of the flashy smiley face, he said that I had reason to hope. He still gave me a prescription for progesterone to (hopefully) induce a healthy period if things don't pan out for us this cycle. We were leaving for North Carolina that evening, and I prayed while I was packing that day that we would get the solid smiley face indicating "peak fertility" and imminent ovulation.

We drove all night after I got out of class that Wednesday and at 4 am at a Shell Station somewhere in Tennessee I peed on a stick in a public bathroom. I tried not to look conspicuous when I walked back through the store to the car with the OPK in my hand waiting for the results to appear. In the privacy of our car we waited. Three minutes later my prayers were answered. A solid smiley face. You can only imagine the squeals of joy and happiness that happened right there in the gas station parking lot.

Although we didn't catch the egg this cycle, we are moving in the right direction. I've started the progesterone pills and we're praying for another ovulatory cycle before our next appointment the first week of June. Please keep us in your prayers as we navigate the coming weeks and I've appreciated all of the support and kind words.

If there is someone reading this that is suffering through their own battle with infertility, please just know that you are not alone, and you are not any less of a woman because you're body isn't playing nice. That's been my biggest struggle, feeling less than, but it's not true. In fact, I think it makes us stronger. You'll always be in my prayers, whether I know you or not.

May 6, 2016

My Battle with Infertility Part 1

Confused by the title? I thought you might be since I sorta announced two years ago, only four months into my marriage that I was definitely not in any hurry to have a baby and that it may or may not even happen for us (I was leaning more towards a baby free life).This post is kinda long and chock full of information from the past 12ish months. I debated the entire time whether or not I was going to talk about any of this on the blog, but when Becca shared her story it helped me feel better, like I am not alone in this struggle as a woman. And I thought that maybe if I shared my story it will help someone, like her's helped me.

In March of 2015, I got some news from my regular family doctor that began to solidify my suspicions that I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I have several confirmed symptoms (irregular to no periods, extra hair growth in places I'm not supposed to have it, hair loss on my head, trouble losing weight, skin tags), the only thing I hadn't done was get an ultrasound to see if I had cysts on my ovaries. I was a wreck, but it was then, when I potentially had the decision to have a child taken away from me by my body, that I started to reassess my position. A few short weeks later we visited my family for Easter and I got to meet my baby nephew for the first time. It was all over from there.

Not long after we got home from that trip I brought the topic of having a child up to Hubs again. I'm not going lie, he totally thought it was all because I got to snuggle a cute baby at Easter. And that was an interesting conversation. Anyway, we talked and I thought and we talked some more for about two months, and finally decided that we were going to do it. We were going to try for a baby. So, in July of 2105 I had my IUD (intrauterine device) removed (surgically, by the way cause it had turned itself sideways) and after the required two weeks of recovery we began our journey.

That first negative pregnancy test was hard for me. I mean haaarrdddd. I even wrote about it, here. It didn't really get any better from there and I struggled with whether or not I was going to share our decision and this journey here in this space. I started tracking all the things: my basal body temperature, my cervical fluid, and used ovulation prediction kits (OPK). After several months with absolutely zero results on anything, it appeared to me that there was a problem: I wasn't ovulating.

In November we went back to my OBGYN to get some advice. She also agreed with me (and my GP) that PCOS seems the likely culprit holding up the process. That's when she put me on the Paleo Diet. However, she didn't offer us any other options other than for me to lose weight or talk about what the next steps were, and her beside manner was just not very warm. I was disappointed, but I tried anyways.

Paleo didn't work for us, which was no surprise to me. But we had the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and our cruise in December to look forward to, and I thought "maybe that whole 'relax and it will happen' thing might work for us." It didn't, and I fell into a deep depression. Things have gotten better though, and I will tell you all about that in Part 2 next Monday.

May 3, 2016

My Travel Bucket List - International

While we don't get very many opportunities (or have the extra funds), we love to go and explore new places. For me, the motivator to make a journey somewhere is to experience and learn about the history surrounding it. But, beautiful scenery doesn't hurt either. This list has changed so much over the course of my lifetime, but there are some tried and true locations that have stood the test of time (noted with an *).

1. Paris, France*

Because duh. I learned French in high school and fell in love with the culture. Plus I they have the best champagne and wine, so yay!

2. England* - All of it!

I've been to London/Windsor once in 2008. So far it has been my absolute favorite place I've ever been to. I could go back every year and not get tired of it. There is so much to see and learn about; All the history!

3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Maybe not right this second with all the Zika happening and such. But, eventually, I would love to visit there and see the Amazon Jungles and stuff.

4. Tokyo, Japan

All the cool technology and the clothes! Plus, again, history to be learned.

5. Niagara Falls - the Canadian side

I've heard it's much better than the American side.

6. Athens, Greece*

I've heard it's beautiful. We've all seen the pictures, but to witness it in person? Yes please!

7. Australia

Home of the Great Barrier Reef and some unique animals. I'm not sure where else to visit here (so suggestions would be most welcome), but I've always wanted to go down under. haha!

8. Rome and Venice - Italy

Again, tons of history. Then all the foods and all the wines.

9. Switzerland*

Home of the most delicious chocolate in the whole wide world.

10. Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland

Because I'm Scottish (and English, Dutch, German, and Native American).

11. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tulips. Seriously I'd be cool with just seeing the tulips.

12. Dublin, Ireland*

History, check. Beer, check. Nature, check.

13. Iceland

I hear it's beautiful there and who doesn't want to see the Puffins?

14. India

Such a rich culture to experience. Plus colorful clothes and spices!

15. Morocco

The design influence this country has on us is amazing.

Truly, I'd love to see the whole freaking world. But these are the top 15 places I want to visit that are outside of the U.S. I'm working on a list of locations that are inside the U.S. and could use some suggestions! Where is your favorite place to visit here in America?

What places are on your international bucket list?