Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

Every year we go to my in laws for Christmas Eve. We have a nice dinner and open presents- usually pajamas.
I have my own tradition of wearing a Santa hat each year on Christmas Eve. I like to have things fun and festive for Christmas Eve and more serious for Christmas Day if that makes sense.
Part of the fun of Christmas this year was the soda tree my husband made. I thought it turned out great. We were short on cans, so he ended up improvising to get it finished this weekend.

A few nights ago we drove around Draper and admired some amazing  houses and lights. (including a house that looked like a cross between the white house and a hotel) We even saw some deer. We ended up at the Draper temple where they had a beautiful nativity. It was awesome and touched my heart and soul.
We don't make a big deal about Santa, in fact the last few years we asked him to only fill the kids stockings, no big elaborate gifts. Not everyone can afford the extra "Santa tax" and I don't want that to be the focus of Christmas.
I'd like to read a Christmas story tonight or maybe tomorrow morning.
I hate opening presents in a messy house since it just adds to the mess. We have been getting things in order the past week which makes me happy!
We went to church yesterday after a bit of a break. It was nice to go back especially so close to Christmas.  We will remember Christ in Christmas.
Tomorrow we will have a nice Christmas breakfast, either waffles or pancakes with eggs and bacon, cinnamon rolls and egg nog. We will open our presents then off to my side of the family.
Merry Christmas to all!
What are your traditions?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Guest Post: Finding the Baby Jesus Tour Stop (wonderful short Christmas story)

Welcome to the guest post and tour stop for Finding the Baby Jesus by Kimball Fisher. I asked for him to talk about writing tips and getting published.

First here is my review of the book and then following is his guest post....


A touching story for sure. Tears were streaming. A great way/story to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. I highly suggest reading it! Definitely worthwhile.

Guest Post by Kimball Fisher:

It's a bold new world for publishing. I've published both with big New York houses such as McGraw-Hill (4 of my non-fiction books) and gone Indie as well (with FINDING THE BABY JESUS). Both routes offer certain advantages and disadvantages. Traditional publishing, of course, offers wide distribution and book marketing benefits as well as needed (no matter how good of a writer you are) editorial assistance. But certain projects (such as my short little Christmas book) don't fit the big house mode, and some authors with an established fan base are foregoing the traditional route altogether to maintain more creative control over their projects.

The advantage of the Indie method is that anyone with basic computer skills can go somewhere like SMASHWORDS and publish without the hassle of bobbing and weaving around the publishing gatekeepers. You upload your book and (if you did it right) voila! You're published! But that's the disadvantage of the Indie route as well. Anybody who thinks they have a good story can be published, now. There's a gazillion books out there. And in the Indie world, without the benefit of the vetting scrutiny of editors and literary agents, readers know that lots of these books are unreadable junk. Plus with a gazillion books, you have to do something to stand out from the crowd. 

Here's my advice: If you want to be successful in the Indie world, write the best possible book you can. Join a writers critique group and let your new friends dismember your little darling so that you can put it back together again as a new and improved creative product. Go to writing conferences and get critiques from published authors and professional editors and agents. Write the book over again. Then hire an editor. She'll help you polish your writing until it's nice and shiny. Hire an artist to help you get awesome covers. Turns out that people do judge a book that way.

Remember that unless you are some kind of amazing genius, you simply can't do everything by yourself and expect to sell Indie books to anyone other than your family, friends, and people who owe you something. Plus you have to develop a marketing strategy to get noticed. It's a lot more work for the author than going traditional. But it's pretty fun, too. I like getting to know more about the business side of books than I did before.

Anyway, happy holidays! And keep reading!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Flashback Friday: Why I Became a Surrogate with Pics! #surrogacy

Flashback Friday Post: Why and How I Became a Surrogate originally published September 25, 2009.

I am re-posting for the fun of it (and for Flashback Friday) and including some pictures from my surrogacies.

Original post below which can also be found here: Original Post

My first introduction to Surrogacy was around 2002. My husband was on deployment and I was living in West Jordan, Utah. I read a magazine article about surrogacy and I fell in love with the idea. It really stood out to me. It just seemed like such an amazing thing to go through. It seemed like such a wonderful thing to do for someone else and I couldn't believe that on top of it all you could get compensated. I had 2 children at the time and had easy pregnancies (aside from the 6 months of morning sickness) and no problem with deliveries. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to help someone have a baby and be able to stay at home with my children and help our family as well. I mentioned the idea to my husband through phone and e-mail. It was not the time for us. He did not feel comfortable with me carrying someone else's baby. Well I certainly wasn't going to do it without his support. Little did I know it was illegal in Utah at that time anyway. We also didn't really know all the facts.

So I didn't think much about it after that. I should mention though, our last child was born in January, 2004. John had a vasectomy that summer. I didn't really feel like I was done having kids though. I was sad that I wouldn't be able to experience a pregnancy again.

In 2005, I was still in West Jordan and John (my husband) was in San Diego. We were temporarily living apart. He was on a ship and I hardly saw him and I wanted the kids to have some stability and be in a good Utah school. Anyway, John was always going and donating blood for his favorite radio station. I thought it might be cool if he could make a little extra money while donating. So I did an internet search for "donating blood for money".

As you can imagine with the internet, it came up with donating all kinds of stuff for money. I came across egg donations and the idea struck me as something I could do. We were getting ready to move to San Diego to spend a year with John since he was going to be on shore duty. I started researching egg donations and agencies in San Diego. I found someone who helped me with a lot of information. She then asked me if I had ever considered being a surrogate. We talked a little about that and she explained that I would only be carrying their baby, that I would not be related to the child at all. I'm not sure if that's something we realized before. She told me that being a surrogate was much more rewarding (in many ways) than being an egg donor.

I decided I would approach my husband one more time with the idea. He hesitated at first but then he could hear the passion in my voice and could tell this was something I really wanted to do. He said "because you've supported me in everything I've done, I can support you in this."

Also at the time I had family that was struggling with infertility. I thought of them and how great it would be to be able to help them, to see them achieve their dreams as parents. They have since adopted 2 beautiful children.

I couldn't wait to move to San Diego and get started. I did tons of online research about surrogacy and found wonderful online communities and support. I had some issues with the 1st agency, (they became pushy and dishonest) so after awhile I started looking for another agency to work with. I found Angelmatcher and was matched right away. Things moved fairly quickly. Before long I was taking shots/hormones and getting ready for an embryo transfer. I got pregnant on the first try.

It's not all so simple though. You have to go through some throrough mental and physical screening to be a surrogate. With surrogacy, I feel I have found my purpose in this life. It's such an amazing experience to be a helper to God in bringing down the babies. It's been a very spiritual, uplfiting experience for me.

My first surrogacy resulted in a darling girl born August 1, 2006. My 2nd surrogacy sadly ended in miscarriage in July 2007. I was only about 9 weeks along. My 3rd surrogacy resulted in adorable twin boys born @ 33 weeks, April 15, 2009.

I was recently asked about the appeal of surrogacy. I'm assuming since I was talking about how it can have it's complications and issues. (especially in the beginning, going through all the steps to even get matched, getting insurance in place, etc. )

My reply:
The appeal vs. all the issues/complications in the process? It's one of those things that is worth going through. It's not easy, or else everyone would be doing it. But for all we go through, it's so worth it. If it was easy, I think it would be taken for granted. It's a journey that you want to see through to the end. The end result is amazing, a miracle even. It's extremely uplifting. It's such a positive thing in such a negative world. It fills me with a taste of heaven within and that feeling will last for years to come. It's a way to help others and yet you get so much in return. For me, I feel it's my calling in life, where I belong in this world. It's who I am. It's something I felt a strong passion for and I'm so glad it's been a part of my life.

Now, here are some pictures from my surrogacies. I have tried to pick ones I haven't already shared. Enjoy!

2005/2006 Surrogacy- 1st Timer

Ready for embryo transfer! With hubby in charge of video in the background.

Looks like it worked, on the first try! Oh my gosh, we're pregnant!

Starting to show (what a sweet son)

My t-shirt design
 Jessica showing her "baby" belly
 My first t-shirt design
There's a bubble in my tummy. LOL

Another of my shirt designs with a fake tattoo. Hee hee. (sorry I think I've shown this one before, but had to share again)
My most popular design/saying which I later added clip art to. (again, I know I've shared before.. but it's classic!)
 Please excuse the bra and panties- this was too precious not to share.

Going to my favorite restaurant- Benihana when my mom came to visit in San Diego. (she came to watch my kids when I had the baby... getting closer)
Me and Mom hanging out at Balboa Park. By the way, she is Meg Ryan's long lost sister.

Did I say a few pics? I totally lied.

And then she was born.....

*Surrogacy #2 ended in miscarriage. No pics to share.  :(
I have pics of me and the awesome couple, just not to share.

Surrogacy #3 2008/2009

Transfer #1
Listening to the Dr. tell me about the embryos?

Yep- My design!
Bed Rest

Unfortunately Transfer #1 didn't take so we went in for Transfer #2 two months later. I can't seem to find any pics though of the 2nd transfer.

2nd transfer took though. Sorry it's blurry.
After the confirmed beta, my IPs sent me the most beautiful flowers from Hawaii. First beta was 324, second was 8183. We had a good feeling there might be more than one in there.

The ultrasound confirmed it- TWINS!
Already growing @ 46 days (?) past transfer.

Me starting to show around 10 weeks, 2 days.

John got us a new dog for Christmas that year. She's cuddling with me while I'm on light bed rest. Taking it easy at 3 1/2 months because of some bleeding.

My designs were starting to get a little more creative.

Barefoot and Pregnant. 

I just had to have this shirt when I saw it. Goes with my "I'm not the mom. I'm just the stork" saying.

It's 2 boys!

Another of my t-shirts. Do these babies make me look fat?

6 months

Skittles keeping an eye on the twins @ 7 months. She loved those babies and my pregnant belly!

7 1/2 months
@ 32 weeks, the boys made me check into the hospital.

Hanging out with my baby on hospital bed rest.

The boys decide they want to be born @ 33 weeks. I am transferred to another hospital by ambulance and in a lot of pain at this point!

My side-kick is ready to go with my mom anxiously awaiting.

Time for a c-section. I feel numb, shaky, cold and really crappy! Worst feeling ever!

Are you done yet? This is NO fun!

Let's get this party started!

Me and the boys about a week after they were born.

*Please note that all these pictures belong to me and you have no right to use them. Thank you! That goes for the sayings on my shirts too.